Sunday, March 1, 2015

Learning in the Meadow : Week 1

Welcome to Learning in the Meadow!  

This is a glimpse into our week using Oak Meadow's Second Grade Curriculum.  Each week we will tell our story through snapshots,  highlighting our favorite moments,  and including some fun extra projects to compliment the curriculum if you are using it at home. 

Box Day
Paint Chip Word Family Review 
Jolly Robbin - Main Lesson Book
Story Problems 
Magical Mask Making Part One 
Travel Tangram in a Tin
Playing "Pin the Tail on Rio"
Experimenting with different smells.  

If you are interested in finding our more information about Oak Meadow and their amazing curriculum, please visit their website at

To see a sample of the Oak Meadow Second Grade Curriculum, CLICK HERE

Thanks for spending the week with us!  Make sure to come back for next weeks Leaning in the Meadow.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Tap My Trees Maple Sugaring Starter Kit GIVEAWAY

The giveaway for the Tap My Trees Maple Sugaring Starter Kit has begun!

The Prize:
One lucky winner will receive a Maple Sugaring Starter Kit compliments of Tap My Trees.  This starter kit includes everything you will need to tap up to three maple trees.  You will receive:
  • 3 Aluminum Buckets 
  • 3 Metal Lids
  • 3 Stainless Steel Spiles
  • 3 Hooks
  • Maple Sugaring at Home book
  • Drill Bit 
  • Cheesecloth 

For more information detailed information about this kit, please click here.  

The giveaway begins NOW and will end 3/6/2015 at 12:00 am central time.  

 Enter below for your chance to win! Good luck! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, February 26, 2015

March 2015: Click-a-Day Photo Challenge

Welcome to the Click-a-Day Photo Challenge! 
 For those that have never done a photo challenge, it is simple! 

The Unofficial Rules:
  • Each month there will be a list.  
  • Every day you will take a photo using the list to inspire you.
  • After you have taken your photo,  post your photo to Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram using the hashtag #clickadaychallenge
  • Happy clicking! 

To see other participants photos, simply click or search using the hashtag #clickadaychallenge 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Tap My Trees "Maple Sugaring Starter Kit" - Kevin's review

If you only read one article on making maple syrup, read this one.  I promise everything you need to know is contained in the included content.  

I am very excited to be sharing "Tap My Trees" with our readers!

If you are not already making your own maple syrup at home or with your classroom you are really, really missing out.

A few years ago I stumbled onto the whole maple syrup making at home thing and gave it a shot.  Like any other endeavor, I spent hours upon hours researching products, looking for one that I could afford from a reputable site.  I quickly found myself overwhelmed but before giving up, I grabbed my cordless drill, a short length of 1/2" pvc, a utility hook, and a plastic bucket. As luck would have it, I struck gold (well not exactly... but I had collected a lot of maple sap in a very short amount of time).  I will never forget running in to the house to grab Emily and the kids and dragging them outside to witness the very first sign of Spring!  We were going to be making the most delicious PURE maple syrup ever.

Here is what I quickly learned:

  • Collecting sap and making maple syrup is addicting.
  • Collecting sap and making maple syrup is contagious.
  • You will find yourself spotting out potential maple trees to tap at your family, neighbors and friends house all year.
  • "Sugaring" is the proper terminology.
  • The sugaring season is WAY TOO SHORT!
  • Everything in one site
But most importantly:


Every single drop of sap counts. What is lost to overflow or not making it into the bucket, does not result in syrup.  

Everything you need to know about making maple syrup is included in this simple to understand book,  included in the kits available only from
*Remember Joe put together this kit with educating children in mind.

Tap My Trees LLC. is not only a company providing amazing and affordable kits at a reasonable cost, they are very dedicated in educating those who are interesting in the maple syrup making process.  Their owner Joe McHale was kind enough to send us one of the Maple Sugaring Starter Kits to review and will also be donating a Maple Sugaring Starter Kit for a Give-away in the VERY near future.  

Here is what is included in the "Starter Kit"

Tap My Trees Maple Sugaring Kit

Unboxing the Maple Sugaring Starter Kit.

Everything comes conveniently packaged in one box and is individually wrapped.

Everything needed to collect sap is included,  except for a cordless drill and a tree!

3 - Aluminum (2 gallon) buckets are included in this kit.

3 - Metal lids are included, which help to prevent rain, snow, and debris from falling in to the buckets while collecting sap.

Everything is excellent quality, or as I like to call it, "heirloom quality."

The beautiful stainless steel spiles included in this kit will outlast my kids, kids.

The quality of this kit is truly amazing and much better than I had expected.  This kit is it.  Im done.  No more messing around with plastic buckets, pvc pipe, or utility hooks.  At the end of the season I will wash these components out and put them up in the rafters of the garage anxiously awaiting the next sugaring season.  

Lets face the facts.  If something is difficult to do, we are quickly robbed of a potentially great experience.  Children have short attention spans and are not going to wait while you figure out how to efficiently collect sap.  Trust me.  The maple sugaring season doesn't last forever unfortunately but the experience surely will.  My family is greatly appreciative to now be able to throw on our coats, grab this kit, go outside and start collecting sap.  While the buckets begin to fill with the sugary goodness, we will sit down and again read Joe's book about sugaring in anticipation for what should be the most enjoyable maple syrup season yet!

A couple of noteworthy mentions:

Tap My Trees stainless steel maple sugaring funnel
I was unable to find this through the website and will update this as it becomes available.  This is not a "needed" item due to the fact the kit includes cheesecloth.  I was fortunate enough to find this at our local Farm and Fleet store in the "Tap My Trees section" and can tell you for the $8.00 it cost me, it will be well worth it.  This funnel or the cheesecloth is used to filter out any bark or debris that makes its way past the lid and into your sap before you boil it.  

Tap My Trees syrup bottles or small canning jars.
Don't forget a few glass jars (or more) to store your maple syrup in.  Jars of pure maple syrup your family has made also make great gifts for friends and family.

Photo Credit: Tap My Trees site.  The Teachers Kit

Classroom teachers or homeschool parents:  Our kids get really excited about this lesson every year!  Joe offers a kit just for you which will include a lesson plan that is adaptable all the way up to high school.  


  • Identify your maple trees
  • Obtain the equipment needed to tap trees

Tapping Trees:

  • When to tap maple trees
  • Select maple trees to tap
  • Clean equipment
  • Gather equipment
  • Tap the tree
  • Hang the bucket and attach lid

Collect Sap and
Make Syrup:

  • Transfer sap from buckets to storage containers
  • Storing your sap
  • Process sap into maple syrup and other uses
  • When to stop collecting saps


  • Remove spiles (taps), buckets, and lids from trees
  • Clean equipment
  • Store equipment for next year
Photo Credit:

I found this handy little time line on the Tap My Trees website.

I'm out of space for now, but Im going to call this my part one of this article.  At the current time of this writing, we are almost but not quite into maple sugaring season as the daytime temperatures are still way below freezing.  In part two I am going to show you how simple the sap collecting process is.  I think you will be amazed.

But DO NOT WAIT FOR ME!  The maple sugaring season varies from state to state and only lasts for a short period of time as I have previously mentioned.  Here is the information so you can order your own kit and supplies:
All orders include a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee for one full year from date of purchase.
Mail: Tap My Trees LLC, 268 Simpaug Turnpike Suite 125, Redding, CT 06896
Toll Free Telephone: (888) 990-9948 
Fax: (888) 666-9120
Cheers! ~ Kevin

Monday, February 23, 2015

Travel Tangram in a Tin

This week in our Oak Meadow second grade curriculum, we learned about Tangrams, a seven piece square that can be rearranged into thousands of shapes!  We had so much fun with the Tangram that was provided to us in our Oak Meadow curriculum that we decided to make our very own teeny tiny Tangram to take with us in the car! Here's how you can make yours at home.

What you will need:

  • The following printables.  Please note that I resized these before printing and they may need to be resized on your end as well in order to fit the box that you are using.  
1. "Tangram Puzzle" Printable 
2. Tangram Printable
3. Tangram Diagram Printable
  • An empty Altoids tin 
  • A sheet of magnetic contact paper (can be found at Walmart, made by Avery)
  • Mod Podge 
  • Hobby knife

Peel the backing off of the magnetic paper 

Stick the Tangram printable to the back of the magnetic sheet and trim the sides.  

Carefully cut along the edges of the shapes within the Tangram. 

I found that you don't have to cut all of the way through the magnet.  Just a light knick and the magnet will bend and snap.  

Brush the inside bottom of the tin with Mod Podge and stick the diagram printable to the bottom.  Apply another coat of Mod Podge over the top of the diagram printable to.

Brush the top of the tin with Mod Podge and lay the "Tangram Puzzle" printable on top.  Apply another coat of Mod Podge over the top to seal. 

When the Mod Podge has dried, your Travel Tangram is ready to use!  

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Magical Mask Making: Part One

We had the best time this week making a plaster mask which was something I hadn't even done before! It was such an easy process and something I don't think I would have thought to do had it not been for our super creative Oak Meadow curriculum nudging us along!  Here is how you can make it at home:

What you will need:

  • Plaster cloth wrap.  We found ours at Hobby Lobby for 8.99 with a 40% off coupon and we had enough left over to make at least 10 more masks.  Well worth the money! 
  • Vaseline
  • Paint, feathers, gems, anything your little one might like to decorate their mask with once it is dry.
  • Hot glue gun 

Here is how you make it:

Tightly pull back all hair and liberally apply vaseline to the entire face taking extra care around the hairline and eyebrows.  This prevents the plaster from sticking to the child's face once it has hardened (we had absolutely no issues getting it off).

Cut your plaster cloth into strips of various sizes.  I found that it was easier to cut them as we went along.  Dip your cloth into a warm bowl of water and place on your child's face.  

Cover your child's entire face except for their eyes (in some cases nose) and mouth.  Allow the mask to sit for about 15 minutes so that it hardens.  You will be able to feel the mask and tell when it is about done.  At that point tell your child to make funny faces and with a little tug,  the mask will pop right off.

The inside of our mask was not entirely dry so we placed it in the toaster oven on "warm" for about a twenty minutes.  

Now is the fun part!  Time to decorate!!


And the winner of the Brinsea EcoGlow Brooder Giveaway is.....

Congratulations Amanda P! 
You are the lucky winner of a brand new Brinsea EcoGlow Brooder!  We have a feeling you will have some very happy and warm chicks this spring!  

We will be contacting you shortly! 

A huge THANK YOU to everyone who entered.  If you did not win and are interested in purchasing this or any other items from Brinsea, please visit  DONT FORGET to use the code COOP at checkout to receive 10% off your ENTIRE order.  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks for playing!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Brinsea OvaView and OvaScope: Kevin's Review

Brinsea OvaView and OvaScope egg candle
Brinsea OvaView & OvaScope

**Buying a Brinsea product? Enter the word "COOP" at checkout and save 10%!!

Brinsea has "taken" the market once again with their OvaView and OvaScope! Gone are the days of cupping fragile eggs between your thumb and forefinger, while trying to perfectly position it in front of a flashlight to check for chick development.  The Brinsea OvaView in itself, is a great egg candling lamp.  When paired with the OvaScope, there is nothing that can compare.

Brinsea OvaView and OvaScope egg candle
Brinsea OvaView
The OvaView's sturdy structure measures 5" long x 3.3" wide x 1.3"high and weighs only 3 oz. The high efficiency LED bulb is powered by 4 AA batteries which Brinsea supplies with the unit.  The beauty of being an LED bulb opposed to an incandescent, is the obvious longevity of the product, and little or no concerns about overheating the eggs during candling.  In the package you will also find, detailed instructions, and a flexible rubber ring which holds itself around the light bulb socket to insure you have a proper seal with the egg so there isn't any light leaking around, which can hinder your viewing.  This model has a very good quality push button switch to turn the light on or off. 

Brinsea OvaScope

If you are buying the Brinsea OvaView, *DO NOT FORGET to order the OvaScope.  The OvaScope is a great compliment to the candling light.  It simply fits over the OvaView and firmly snaps into place allowing the viewer to observe the egg in daylight and at a slight magnification. Simply remove a side cover and place your egg into the holder and its "in the dark". Brinsea again has listened to its customers and has strategically added 2 nubs, on the sides of the scope, in which a web cam can be placed over the viewing hole and held in place with a simple rubber band. The OvaScope also has a handy little wheel that allows you to rotate the egg without having to remove the side cover. 

Brinsea OvaView and OvaScope egg candle
Brinsea OvaScope firmly snaps over the OvaView

Brinsea OvaView and OvaScope egg candle
Brinsea OvaScope side "egg door".

Brinsea OvaView and OvaScope egg candle
Serama chicken egg-Day 5 as seen through the Brinsea OvaScope

In conclusion, there is not a better egg candling device on the market.  I will never juggle a flashlight or goofy cardboard box concoction again.
Cheers! ~ Kevin

Brinsea Products Inc.
704 N. Dixie Avenue
FL 32796

Phone (888) 667 7009

Other Posts You May Like