Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Page Just Added- Field Trips!

I've been compiling an extensive list of Portland area resources if you want to organize a field trip for your homeschool group, or hire an educator for a presentation.  It's finally ready!  You will find it here: or click on the page link on the top right of the blog.  Since virtually any place might welcome a field trip if you ask, there's no way to make this list truly complete.  I'd love to learn about any additions you'd like to suggest!   I'm really amazed by the extent of resources we have available to us, and definitely plan to share this list with anyone who questions that homeschoolers are able to give their kids a terrific education outside of classroom walls. 

Please share this list if you find it useful!  

Eagle Fern Park

We went to check out Eagle Fern Park because friends told us it is truly lovely.  It certainly is!  It's right along Eagle Creek, with access which must be very inviting on a hot summer day.  Eagle Creek  is deep and has a strong currant, so it would be best for wading when summer water levels get lower, with a life jacket and a pinch of common sense.  There are gorgeous old growth trees in the woods here, and lots of places along the trails where kids can climb around in old snags or under the roots of the giants. It's a first class spot for a ramble in the woods!  There is a $5 charge per vehicle, and if the booth isn't manned, you'll need exact change for the pay envelopes. 
Bleeding hearts.
Scouler's corydalis.
Redwood sorrel.  Photo by Jasper. 
Dictyopterus simplicipes (a net-winged beetle).  Photo by Jasper.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Wahclella Falls

Wahclella Falls.
The hike at Wahclella Falls is one of the easiest and loveliest of many in the Columbia River Gorge. We went there for a picnic recently.  Here are some pictures.

Scouler's corydalis.
Munra falls.
Redwood sorrel.
Blue-eyed Mary.
Glacier lilies.
Wahclella Falls.
Columbia kittentails.
Gold fields.
Duchman's breeches.
Red-flowering currant.

Sunday, April 20, 2014


For the second year in a row, our homeschool group got together to "play Holi".  Holi is an Indian celebration of spring.  It is traditional to wear white on Holi, and to throw colored powder and spray colored water all over everyone you can!  It's a blast!  I first learned about the holiday from Bollywood movies. They make much use of it, because the bright colors look wonderful on film.  Bollywood Movez, a Hillsboro dance studio, sponsors a public Holi celebration at the Washington County Fairgrounds which we attended one year.  We thought it was lots of fun and the only thing that could make it better would be to celebrate with friends!  

But what to do about powder?  In the USA it's pretty expensive, and about a pound of powder per person is a reasonable estimate of the minimum you should have.  My solution is to make our own Holi powder.  We buy corn starch (available in 25 lb bags at the Bob's Red Mill store) and color it with food coloring. The food coloring we've used is a powdered color we've purchased from Blake's Decorette Shop.  I fill a large mixing bowl with cornstarch, mix in the powdered color, and add the minimum amount of water in order to get the color to mix properly.  Then I pour the whole thing into a shallow baking dish and dry it at the lowest temperature oven can be set to, for about an hour.  Next I turn the oven off and leave it to dry overnight.  The following day I take the resulting brick and turn it back into a powder in the Cuisinart.  This powder does not stick well to dry skin or clothing, so it's a must to have water squirters on hand! It's a fair amount of work but it's really, really fun! 

Here's my favorite cinematic celebration of Holi:

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Magness Memorial Tree Farm

An actual tree farm.
Friends brought us to the Magness Memorial Tree Farm for the first time recently.  A friend tipped me off that this was a great spot for kids to explore a creek.  I've hesitated to visit it in the past because it's owned by the World Forestry Center, which I suspect has an ulterior motive for referring to it as a "tree farm".  Years ago I visited the World Forestry Center and was really disturbed by its lack of environmental focus.  I discovered an emphasis on the usefulness of trees, a glamorization of logging and logging equipment, and no mention of the devastating effects of deforestation or even the positive effects of recycling.  It is sponsored by the timber and paper industries, and while I definitely love wood and paper, I also love forests.  Trees are a renewable resource, but forests are not.  I don't have a problem with tree farms as a crop, but tree farms are not forests.  If you've ever walked through a commercial tree farm, the first thing you notice is the barrenness of the forest floor.  Trees are typically planted so close together that sunlight cannot filter down to the ground, and nothing grows except maybe mushrooms. I don't think it's right to confuse the issue.

At the Magness Memorial Tree Farm, what you will find is a lovely forest. The kids immediately ran into the creek and began happily searching for creek critters, which we peeked at through a microscope.  We were soon greeted warmly by the manager, who enthusiastically told us about the property and answered all sorts of questions.  We took a trail that followed the stream and lingered in the woods.  It was a wonderful school day!
A caddis fly larva peeks out of its shell, which it has constructed from small pebbles.
Caddis flies.
Damselfly larva.
A crawdad.
The maple trees are in bloom.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge

Nesting bald eagle.
The Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge is always a great place to go if you'd like to see a bald eagle.  They are nesting now, and there is a nest in plain view.  But we actually went there to see creepy crawlies.  Here are some pictures.
A scud, a freshwater crustacean. 
A bullfrog.
Salamander larva- I believe this is a rough skinned newt.
Midge larva.
Diving beetle larva. 
Rangeland tiger moth caterpillar. 
Bald eagle.