28 April 2014

Colourful Weekend


Sunshine, April storms, walking in the park, drinking a little-too-yellow lemonade, eating snacks, healthy and unhealthy alike, with some Easter leftovers from Mummy, decorated by bracelets, both old and new, surrounded by little green caterpillars climbing the leaves of grass, falling onto us from the trees, crawling through our backpack, tangled in our hair... And also displaying our terrible badminton playing skills in public spaces, then blaming it on the sunshine, too strong wind or too low quality of super cheap supermarket impulse-bought equipment. Then coming home and sleeping until ten a.m. and through most of Sunday while watching the lake scene from Tangled about a thousand times and listening to Birdy and torturing the inhabitants of the house by my whiney version of "People Help the People". What a great weekend this has been!

26 April 2014

Friday Night Beading


A good friend of mine took me out yesterday, for a "Holešovice Fashion Market", which was full of really nicely dressed people, artists selling their quite expensive, but beautiful and one of a kind clothes and earrings and toys and so on, with a DJ and some food and drink stands, really nice thing in the ugly old halls of Holešovice Town Market in Prague.
Having worn jeans and a simple striped t-shirt (H&M) with my sporty backpack stuffed with school things I need to do during the weekend, I really didn't look like a fashion fan, but when I saw all those people who were fashion fans, it made me want to prettify myself, too. So we bought some earrings :) And of course, seeing all those nice things sparked up some ideas in my head, so I made a simple set of crystal-clear bracelets and a necklace/bracelet to wear to work to make me look a bit more nice and serious :) 
What do you think?


25 April 2014

Common Toads (Bufo bufo) and Their Springtime Activities ;-)

These pictures were taken a few weeks ago in the Botanical garden of the Faculty of Natural Sciences of Charles University. Every year, the garden ponds are full of common toads (Bufo bufo), which come there to mate and lay small black eggs encapsulated in typical long mucous strands. Watching them is quite amazing, especially as they can be loud and are always very photogenic.


23 April 2014

Two Very Hungry Caterpillars

I was wondering how one little green pea-coloured caterpillar can make so much damage in a container, but that was until I looked into the container this morning and spotted it's slightly larger soil-coloured friend!

The top of nearly every plantie is nibbled off (the youngest and juiciest bits), so they had to go... flinged them straight into my landlord's garden.

I haven't figured out what species they are yet (mostly because I am lazy), but I have realized that being friendly to them isn't going to work out. Maybe if I had a whole garden bed of pea plants, then I could tolerate a couple of them :)

Anyway, are there any caterpillar problems where you are? If so, what species and how do you deal with them?

22 April 2014

Enjoyable Rubbishness

You know, after all that Easter overeating and sleeping too much, coming back home where there was a mess and nothing really good to eat was a bit of an eye-opener :-D And then I promised myself to go to freediving training tonight, and yet here I am, with some green tea in my outdoor travel thermo mug, and cake in my belly, because "Ewww, it's raining, I don't wanna go out!


Yes, this is me right now, but I am wearing a sports top to make me feel sporty and the aforementioned outdoor mug makes me feel like I am a bit outdoors (thinking of all the camping and field trips and sleeping over at the uni during my studies). And the rainy evening rewarded me for my laziness with a wonderful rainbow, which I would certainly miss if I were swimming in the pool right now.


Also the view from my window and the wisteria plants in the garden look even prettier in the rain and late evening sunshine...


Say what you must, because I deserve it, but being lazy is really nice. It's one of my favourite things to do : )

21 April 2014

Happy Easter !

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter Monday. Because school starts tomorrow, I had to take the Sunday evening overnight train to Prague. For the past few days, all I did was sleep and eat and even though I was stuffed and well/slept, I was lazy and all my mind was occupied with was food and sleep. (I think it might be time for some spring detox : )  )


Even though it is way too late to make Easter eggs on Easter Monday, I tried to make some with special egg-paint I brought from my parents' home. I used blown brown eggs (white are quite hard to get), wax from a burning candle and red paint dissolved in hot water with vinegar. The point is to put wax on the areas which you do not want to get dyed and then submerge the whole egg with wax into the solution of water, dye and vinegar. It has to be cold, because the wax would melt away in warm liquid. I think the result is quite impressive, these are definitely the most beautiful eggs I have ever made : ) 


18 April 2014

He Is Back! : )


My singing friend from last year is back. Less scared and much louder than before : )

17 April 2014

Easter Baking


For the past two Easters, I was away from Slovakia. Two years ago, I was on a field trip and I spent the last Easter Monday working at the zoo. I felt very much like an adult, spending one big holiday on my own in an interesting job, but now I am packing for my parents' place, with some of these in my bag : )


Happy and sweet Easter to you!

16 April 2014

Pea Pot Visitor

I have been wondering why my little pea plants are nibbled and I found the creature that has been doing it! So here it is, perfectly disguised by its colour and shape, neatly attached to the plant so that it is barely visible. Does anyone know what it will turn into?  Right now, I am leaving it alone, but I think I might have to remove it once it grows and becomes fully harmful.







13 April 2014

Yeast Experiment - Science Class

I find it hard getting my pupils interested in the little biology things that I find so enjoyable. Clearly you have to be a certain type of a person to enjoy these things and most of my pupils are not THAT type. And even if they were, at their age, they would probably be quite afraid to show it openly. 

I have fought with it, but let's face it - you are thirteen, you come home after your spring break and one of the few lessons you are forced to sit through is on algae and yeast and other unimportant gross things. How the hell are you supposed to enjoy it? 

Well, this is a really simple experiment that can be explained, performed and talked about within one lesson (45 minutes). It shows how yeast works, what it does and what conditions it needs to do the work properly.

You will need :

  • PLASTIC BOTTLES (I tried 1.5l and 0.5l, the smaller the bottle, the sooner you see the result, but it is doable with both sizes)
  • BALOONS (doesn't matter what size or colour, although the kids seem to be excited to be able to pick their own colour)

    Note:
     make sure the baloon can be put on the top of the bottle comfortably. Some plastic bottles have wider mouths and that might cause problems.
  • YEAST (for baking) - here it comes in little 42g packs that look like this. I used half a pack for each bottle.
  • HOT WATER BATH - I used IKEA box, but it can be a bowl, a pot or an aquarium - anything waterproof able to withstand 40°C.
  • SUGAR - a few teaspoons for every bottle.
  • WARM WATER - approximately 40°C.

    Note: Check, if the classroom you will be doing this in has a hot water tub. Ours do not. I usually boil water in a kettle and then carry a small flask to the lesson with me - we mix it with cold water and we get our 40 degrees. You need enough warm water to fill the water bath and put a bit into the bottles with yeast, too.



Instructions:

1) Take half a pack of baking yeast and crumble it into the plastic bottle.
2) Add two or three teaspoons of sugar.
3) Pour warm water into the mixture and seal the bottle with a baloon.
4) Put the bottles in a water bath and observe.

What should happen:

The yeast cells feed on sugar and produce carbon dioxide. This process works best in warm environment. The carbon dioxide fills the bottle and as its amount increases, it produces enough pressure to fill the baloon as well.

My pupils had great fun watching the baloon, especially during the short period of time, when it "stands up". Knowing them, they did have something pervy in mind while watching, but I ignored it and was glad they liked the experiment.

Note: You definitely do not need to spend the whole lesson sitting down and staring at baloons. Put the bottles on one desk in the front so that you can watch them all the time and explain the topic or write notes. If something interesting happens, you will be able to see it without wasting precious teaching time.

Bonus:

If you really want to, it is very easy to put some yeast cells under a microscope (just mix yeast and water, if you add some sugar as well, you might see some yeast cells budding). My kids are incredibly clumsy and slow when working with microscopes, but you can set up one yourself and make everyone have a look.


Yeast cells under a microscope. Unfortunately, I do not remember how many times this was magnified, but I do not think any of my pupils care.
_____________________________________________________________________

Have I forgotten anything?
Please leave a comment and I will fix it!

Do you have more ideas or tips? I will be glad to hear them as well!!

12 April 2014

Happy Spring, Snails!

Empty shells... : (

The winter has passed and shells of dead snails are all around. However, those that did survive the cold, leave traces of their awakening all around their habitats. At first, I looked through the university botanical garden, but then discovered even more of them. 

A pretty epiphragm

These tear-shaped objects are what closes the snail's shell for the winter and when the snails "wake up", they push them out with their foot and leave them around for us to find. It is called epiphragm and it is made of calcified snail slime (therefore it is also refferred to calcareous epiphragm).

A handful of epiphragms

Every spring, I am having great fun looking for these and this year I also engaged my pupils in looking for them during our little voluntary trip to the botanical gardens.

How I usually find them

 Aren't they wonderful? Ok, to those non-bio-nerds out there, they probably aren't, but I love them.

06 April 2014

Pink Spring


The landlords have gone for the weekend, so I had a quiet little time to explore the beauties of their garden this Friday afternoon, after I threw my backpack down not to be picked up until Sunday morning (which is now, eeek! ). Everything is alive, everything blossoms. There are tulips, daffodils and a lot of very fragrant hyacinths, mostly in pink colour. We know these mostly as pot plants, but they benefit from being in the garden soil so much. Well, any bulb plant does. Snails have also come out and the blackbirds are back and even louder than before.

05 April 2014

The Educational Purpose


I had a magnificent girl time at IKEA in Prague-Zličín, where we had very early lunch, then headed to have a look around the top floor, then went back to cafeteria to have coffee, tea and cake and then wandered around the ground floor. My shopping bad was getting pretty heavy by the time we reached the cash desk and the realization that I do NOT have my credit card with me kind of stirred things up a bit, but thanks to my lovely friend, who lent me money, I could buy all these toy fruits and vegetables. For educational purposes, of course (and not for the half hour that I have just spent playing with them on the floor, putting them into baskets and arranging them nicely along with my other plush toys. The lettuce leaves come off and I can feed them to my IKEA rat !!!).


I am taking these to school, because my tiniest pupils ( seven years old ) love using toys during EFL lessons. We always have colourful balls or other little plushies that I carry around in the basket and we start the lesson with a greeting and then I throw a toy to each of them (some days they can choose which one they want). Then we continue by saying "My toy is blue" and "It is big" or "It is small" and so on. In case of snakes and similar items we also say "It is long" or "It is short". 


Last week, we talked about fruits and veggies and making salads, this week we will talk about fish, meat, eggs and making sandwiches. As my man would say: "All good fun!" : )

04 April 2014

When Peas and Chives Embrace ...


The windowsill is teeming with plant life! Weekend will definitely be the time to go out and collect some poles, because the little pea plants are getting a little grippy : )

02 April 2014

Switching to Summer Time

I think not many people realize how stressful it can be for a person to switch to a different time. Being a bit of anxiety-ridden creature, I never have to worry about switching to winter time, as missing it means that I would come everywhere one hour early. But in spring, when the summer time switch comes, even though it always happens during the weekend, I am always checking, always making sure that I switched the time on my mobile, our kitchen clock, in my head, always checking and re-checking... And being at home mostly on my own means there is nobody to check the time with me, to reassure me that I did everything right. For a few days, I'm always worrying "what if"... At every underground stop, I check the time, I have a look at every single clock I see on my way.
But it has been three days now and the world hasn't collapsed and I haven't missed a single thing, so now is the right time to enjoy the fact that springtime is here, not only on the clock, but also out in the wild : ) (or on my windowsill where the picture of this lovely chives flower was taken)
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