Saturday, February 1, 2014

Ferret Lapbook

We've been learning on the fly around here.  That's what works for us.  So whenever the kids express an interest or desire in something we dive in.

About 2 or  3 months ago we got a ferret.  Oliver and I put together a book all about ferrets.  We used different color ferrets to make patterns, we learned about what Wild Black-Footed Ferrets eat and where they live, we made a list of things our pet needs from us, made a family tree using pictures of other animals in the Weasel (Mustelid) family, learned some ferret vocabulary and practiced writing a few letters and small words.

Oliver had so much fun making it and showing off.  Lately he has been asking to make more pages for his book.  So I put together some pages for him to make a second book.  He is pretty excited to work on it later today with daddy.

So if you have a ferret, or even just enjoy cute pictures of ferrets, here are the pages I made for the lap book.  The book itself is two file folders stapled together (one inside the other) to make a total of 8 pages.

On the cover I put a coloring page.  Download it here: http://www.marshallferrets.com/just4fun

The rest of the pages I uploaded on to 4shared.com for your downloading pleasure.

Check them out here: Ferret Lapbook

The pages cover fine motor skills (cutting and gluing), phonics, early literacy and math.  
Enjoy!













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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

DIY Ferret Cage

My husband challenged me to find an inexpensive cage if I wanted to buy a ferret.
Naturally, I took to craigslist.  I got zero response to inquiries about whether cages were still available, and still, they were going to cost at least $70 (they are about $200 new).
Naturally, I took to Pinterest.  There were several bookshelves converted into rat cages, plastic totes converted in hamster homes…. and a picture or two of wire shelves pieced together to make a cage.
Well, I happened to have some wire shelves that weren't being used…. sooooooo, one afternoon I got busy, and for the price of cable ties, shelf liner, a litter box, a water bottle, and food dish…. we have ourselves a
DIY FERRET CAGE
(my favorite kind!!!)
I wasn't too good about taking pictures during the construction process, but it was really simple.  Going two across and three high, I used cable ties to build up the shelves.  Most are connected at the corners, but to add climbing platforms I floated some shelves across the width of the cage.  
There are three doors.  If you look at the bottom left cube, you can see the main door providing access to the litter box.  which has since been moved to the right side of the bottom level because the little weasel insisted on doing his thing in the right corner.  On the right side of the middle level is another access door.  And the top of the highest level opens on the left side so I can reach down into it.

I used scrap carpet from the basement to line the bottom of the cage.  I cut it to size and burned the edges so they wouldn't fray.  

The water bottle and bowl have been moved.  He was lifting and chewing on the corner of the carpet scrap, but  since moving the litter box to the right side and putting a cardboard box under it, he has stopped that.  

The litter box had to be tied to the cage… the clips did nothing to keep it in place.  The naughty little weasel flipped it up and moved it around the second we put him in his new home!


Because the wire is too harsh on little ferret feet, I found a roll of shelf liner to put on top of each platform, and covered them with fleece that I happened to have a ton of.  


The first shelf I covered I cut strips and tied all three sides through the wires (the fourth side is closed where it folds over the shelf).  Then I got tired and just tied the end, leaving the sides open.  I figured the ferret with find his way inside the felt, and he has… but it hasn't been an issue, and I think he is over it actually.


Knowing how ferrets love to lounge I made these two no-sew hammock type things for him.  He hasn't yet figured them out… it's been a week and he hasn't been in them at all, so I may take another look at reconfiguring them, but he is coming from a tank with no climbing opportunities or hammocks, so we thought maybe he just needs time to figure them out.  The first day or two he didn't even know how to climb the levels of the cage, but he learned quick!

The hammocks were just scraps of fleece.  On one I cut the edges and tied them up together on three sides and tied it to the sides of the cage.  The other was a rectangle I cut holes in the top and looped some long pieces of scrap through to hang from the sides of the cage.


To elevate the cage and add storage I put it on top of an old TV stand we had bought at a garage sale about two and a half years ago for $8.  I used these cable masonry staples to secure the cage.  I put them wherever I easily reach in and hammer it down.  I think I used six of them, spread throughout the bottom of the cage and alternated the direction they go in.  The cage isn't moving, they worked great.


TADAAAAA!!!!


It doesn't look quite like this now.  There has been some rearranging of the cage and adding of some slings and ladders as we've seen how he moves around in there and uses the space.

Here is Jacques in his new home.  


He is named after Brian Jacques (pronounced "Jakes"), author of the Redwall Series.  

Love those books.  A lot.


I didn't want to name him after one of the ferrets in the series because they are always baddies (with two sort-of exceptions).  But now that we've gotten to know our naughty weasel, I should have named him after one of those little villains!



Jacques and his big sister, Daisy, are still getting used to each other… but we are very happy with how introducing the two animals has gone.


And it looks like our newest family member might even make it on to the family Christmas card!



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Monday, November 18, 2013

Class Pets

woah…it's been a while.  what can i say? old habits die hard.

lots of unschooling being squeezed into our very busy school year schedule.  i need to get used to the fact that summertime is going to be our time to really bang out our homeschooling.  for now anyway.  while Ol's articulation therapy needs are so intense and we have to follow the public school calendar for his sessions.  He has made such great progress, hopefully we will be able to cut down on the number of sessions he has per week.

anyway….

The reason I have returned to blogger:  I wanted to post a bit about the value of animals in our lives.  I've always loved animals and have always wanted all kinds of pets, but I never really appreciated how much you can get out of having a pet until watching how my kids interact with animals.

In our home we have a 29 gallon community tank that is just awesome!  We actually are hoping to get a larger tank sometime and try some different kinds of fish.


The kids love to pull up chairs to sit and watch the different behaviors of the different fish, and have learned about classification, nocturnal v. diurnal behaviors, diets and eating habits… and yes, even  mortality and death.

They know the responsibilities of maintaining the tank-  feeding (which daddy lets them help with), cleaning, and testing the water. 

We also have a dog.  The kids have learned a ton from her, too- feeding, cleaning, playing and loving.  Such a love fest between the kids and the dog.  It's adorable.  The whole unconditional love thing is my favorite part of my kids having her.


The other day they asked me if the dog has teeth… which prompted a lesson on why mommy insists that they be nice to her. Our dog, a pit bull we found through a rescue organization about a year and half ago, has the patience of a saint and takes quite a bit of love (in the form of abuse) from the boys.  I have said many times, she is not the smartest dog, but she is a good dog!  It may sound crazy but she is proof that pits are amazing family dogs.  I honestly don't think I could trust another kind of dog to have the temperament that she does.  If you want to watch a great documentary check out "Beyond the Myth."  It's on Netflix.  

but I digress…...

My kids have their parent's love of all animals that is for sure.  They love going to 4H fairs to see and learn about cattle, sheep, goats, chicken, and even llamas.  And they are fearless about feeding them right out of their hands!  


We've also made sure to point out and explain to them how animals communicate without words.  Ol definitely gets it.  He understands what we mean when we say to respect the animal who doesn't want to be bothered.  Owen is still young, but he does know to ask both myself and the owner when he meets a dog he wants to pet.

I love the learning opportunities that come from interacting and caring for animals.  I also feel like animals can boost a person's confidence and self esteem too.  I can't wait until the kids are old enough to participate in 4H themselves.  In the meantime, I am pretty excited to be adding a new animal to the family for us to enjoy and learn from.  

My husband challenged me to find a cheap cage, and should I accomplish that, he would agree to buying a ferret.  I did it!  I actually channeled all my DIY energy and scrounged up enough materials around the house to make my own ferret cage.  Now we just have to add the cute little animal.

Here is my finished product… for the sake of Pinterest I will post a DIY instructional later! ;)




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Monday, September 16, 2013

Dollar Store Airplanes



Another great time for just a dollar?!

Surely I can't be serious!


I am serious.  And don't call me Shirley.

I picked these foam airplanes up from the dollar store months ago.  They've been sitting in the closet just waiting to be the perfect afternoon filler, so on Sunday I pulled them out for the boys to paint with Daddy while I tried to get some sorting done to change the kids clothes out from summer to fall.


They did a great job painting and patiently waited for their planes to dry, which was conveniently after lunch and naps.

The first words out of Oliver's mouth when he woke up were: "Let's check if the plane is dry to fly in the field."

They were.

We walked down our street to the soccer fields, (don't ask why it's the first time in the two years we've lived here that we've done that... what the heck were we waiting for?!) and the kids had a mostly great time running around and tossing up their planes.

These foam planes weren't exactly state of the art aerodynamic wonders.  They were mostly straight up straight down flyers which got Ol upset a few times...but hey, they were a buck and they were fun enough.  The boys are too young to be getting all fancy and technical with model planes.  But they did have fun, so now we know that they may, in fact, be future airplane hobbyists.


Now that I have a couple of junior pilots on my hands, I found a few more plane making and flying activities for us.  Check them out.





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Far Away Family

For the first time in 4 years, my husband took a week off of work that I didn't have to push a kid out for!
We spent the week in New Hampshire with his family and did some vacation-y things we don't get to do on our usual weekend visits.
We kicked off the visit with a family party in honor of Gramps' 80th birthday.
Here are all the Grandchildren:

and the Great Grandchildren:
(and growing!!!!)

THE WHOLE GANG!!!




We don't get to see a lot of these family members, so when we do all get together I love to see how the kids interact.  I'm carefully watching for the day when I don't have to do any re-introduction of the cousins.  Getting there, I think.



We could have it worse.  We are fairly centrally located between New Jersey and New Hampshire where just about all of our family is.  I do have extended family in Ecuador that I wish my kids knew (and that even I knew better, actually), including my Grandmother who left the US to head down there and care for her own parents shortly after Owen was born.  And thanks to Facebook, I am friends with family members I have never even met in Florida and Massachusetts.  

I've taken to Pinterest for ideas on how to keep our far away family closer to home.  Make sure you check it out.  Some of the ideas on there are super cool even if your family is all in one place!




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