My long-time blogging and now in-real-life friend, Jodi, and I took our combined five children to my parents' lake house at the Lake of the Ozarks for three days this week. I had really been looking forward to this trip! It did not disappoint!
Jodi's children are amazing! Her 12 year old son was a pure delight to have around, and Eli and Brynne were instantly best buds with her 8 and 6 year olds.
We brought the necessities for a lake trip with kids, like swimming suits, board games, and ... the Wii. The lake house is a small house, but the kids played so well together that it never even got loud. It was wonderful! They fished, swam, played with toys, played games, played lots of Wii, watched t.v., ate snacks, and just enjoyed their new friendships.
Jodi and I did the same, minus the swimming, fishing, toys, games and Wii. In otherwords, we relaxed in the living room watching television, reading, eating, sipping wine or coffee, and doing LOTS of talking! We knew we wanted to make the most of the three days because in just over a month Jodi and her family will be heading back to their home in West Virginia. We will miss them, terribly! In fact, Brynne started crying as they were leaving and cried several times on the way home. She is devastated that our in-person friendships with them will be so short.
Why is this post called Lake School? Because we decided to take advantage of our surroundings and do some unit studies with all of our kids while we were together. That was awesome!
Our first lessons were about the lake itself. We started by reading the book Follow the Water from Brook to Ocean by Arthur Dorros.
Then we studied all about lake stratification, or the "layers" of the lake. We read the books What are Lakes? by Mari C. Schuh and What's Inside Lakes? by Jane Kelly Kosek.
To demonstrate the layers, we made a stratification dessert. We also did a food coloring and water stratification demonstration. The visuals were great!
Next we talked about the food webs in a lake from birds to fish to macro invertebrates to algae. It just so happened that the buzzards were out in full form on Monday. Then we pulled up the catfish trap and noticed some type of gel-like algae growing in the trap (at first we thought it was living creature). When a small fish, eating on the algae, jumped through one of the holes in the catfish trap, we all screamed. It was hilarious! We took a sample of the algae and a sample of the water surrounding the algae to look at under the microscope. We got to see all aspects of the food web, which was pretty cool.
Then Jodi brought a Camelbak All Clear Microbiological UV Water Purifier with her. She put lake water in it and put it through the purification process. Then the kids all decided they wanted to take a drink of it. We told them that within hours we would know whether the purification process worked ... either they would all be fighting for the bathroom, or they wouldn't. Thankfully, they didn't. The water must have been clean!
The last thing we discussed was eutrophication and what we can do to help keep our lakes at a healthy level of phosphorus and other nutrients so that they aren't too clean or too dirty. Either scenario would kill the ecology of the lake and it would eventually dry up.
On Tuesday we had a special field trip planned for the kids. We spent the morning reading the two books Exploring Caves by Melody S. Mis and One Small Square: Cave by Donald M. Silver.
And then we went to Jacob's Cave in Missouri. We had an awesome tour guide named Marvin. He took us on an entertaining half-mile walk into Jacob's Cave, showing us so many interesting sights and sounds. We saw stalactites, stalagmites, stalagflats, soda straws, salamanders, calcite formations, "bacon", columns, "spiders", and even got to play music on one structure. It was so incredibly fun and well worth the time and cost of admission.
The kids all did a little shopping in the gift shop and then we headed home with lots of great memories!
On Wednesday it was time to say goodbye to our new friends. It was such a neat way to learn some fascinating things and the company absolutely could not have been any better.
What a great trip.