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Blake is a ten year old homeschooled boy who lives on Live and Learn Farm and blogs about it. He loves to cook, play soccer, reading classics and hanging out with his cats. He is in the fourth grade and he is studying: Algebra 1 (Teaching Textbooks), Physics and Chemistry (Apologia), Exercises in English and Vocabulary in Action (Loyola Press), All About Spelling, IEW Student Writing Intensive B, Spanish (Spanish Clicks) and Paths of Exploration.

About Blake

Blake is an eleven year old homeschooled boy who lives on Live and Learn Farm and blogs about his experiences. He loves to cook, play soccer, read classics, play minecraft and hang out with his cats. He is in the fifth grade and he is studying: Algebra 1 (Teaching Textbooks), Science in the Beginning, Exercises in English and Vocabulary in Action (Loyola Press), All About Spelling, IEW, TRISMS History Masterminds and One Year Adventure Novel.

Is it a Bug or an Insect?

Hello! This is the second post in my Backyard Bug Study series. Did you know there are over one million different kinds of insects? How about that for every one human there are two million of them?  Or that they are in nearly all habitats?  Or did you know there are over a five billion bugs in the world? No wonder we are so familiar with them!

is it a bug or an insect cropped


Bugs. What are bugs? Many people use the word “bugs” interchangeably for “insects.” But should they? So lets see if we can decide… is it a bug or an insect?

Let’s start with some scientific information about insects. Insect scientists, called entomologists, categorize all of creation. For insects they are in the Kingdom of Animalia (animals), the Phylum of Arthropoda and their Class is Insecta (comes from insectum and it means cut into sections). Arthropods are animals that lack a backbone, which are called invertebrates. There are several types of arthropods classified into groups that have common traits.  In this article I will be discussing what insects and bugs are and how you can tell them apart.

What are Insects?

Here are some of the characteristics that insects have, that bugs may not.

  • Six Jointed Legs – All insects have legs that have three sections. Look at praying mantis for a great example of this.
  • Segmented Body – Head, Thorax (The midsection of the body) and Abdomen (the tail end) are the main 3 parts of an insect’s body.
  • Breathe through tiny holes in their bodies called spiracles – These tiny holes let air in through the exoskeleton and directly to the trachea (The windpipe) and then into the lungs.
  • Antennae/Feelers – They use echolocation to send sound waves that bounce off of objects then come back. Bats and dolphins also use echolocation. They can figure out distance by how long it takes for the sound to bounce back to them.
  • Metamorphosis – What happens when the young body of an animal goes through a radical change in form when it grows up.
  • Exoskeleton – An exoskeleton is sort of like a protective armor that insects have. It doesn’t grow with them though, so they have to molt / shed yearly and grow a new exoskeleton.
  • Compound Eyes – Most insects have compound eyes, which means their eye is composed of thousands of tiny lenses.

Then what is a bug? 

True bugs are insects, but they do have some differences. Some bugs have more than six legs, where insects, do not. Most true bugs will have an X or a V on their back. Also most true bugs have a proboscis (a straw-like mouth) so they can suck pollen and other things out of a flower. The wings are different for true bugs.  The front wings of true bugs are thicker and colored near where they are attached to their body, and are more clear and thin towards the end of the wing. The hind wings are usually clear and under the front wings. Finally, true bugs also have three ‘life phases’ while insects have four stages. The true bug stages are: egg, larva/nymph, adult. The insects however, are: Egg, Larva/Nymph, Pupa, Adult.

What do they have in common?

Both have exoskeletons, and are invertebrates and have many other features that are the same such as: They both have three main body parts, they also have compound eyes, jointed legs, and most bugs have six legs like insects. Since there are even MORE things, I’ll put a diagram of some things that they have in common, and what they have different.

true bugs and insects

Activity: Bug and Insect Identification

Let’s take a closer look at nature! Let’s get into your backyard and see if we can identify some insects! First, remember you don’t want to touch bugs with your bare hands unless you know what the bug is! Remember some bugs bite and sting. So gloves, a net and tweezers are nice to have! When we go on a nature scavenger hunt, we try not to harm the things we are studying. So plan to release them after you are finished.


Items you will need to take with you.

  • Magnifying Glass.
  • Jar (with small air holes punched in the lid) to hold specimen.  When we were little, we had something like this Bugwatch to use to examine bugs (and anything else we could fit in these containers)!
  • Gloves.
  • Tweezers.
  • Bug Net.
  • Notebook.
  • Pencil.
  • Camera. Our grandmother gave us real cameras when we were really little. I think I was six. I still have this camera and it is still takes great pictures. I do have to use tape on the battery compartment to keep it closed because I broke the cover several years ago!

bug and insect identification

When you find a bug to study you can either look at it there where you found it or put it in your container.  See if you can tell if it is an insect or bug by reviewing the chart above. Take a picture of it or draw it. My brother is writing a whole series on Nature Journaling. This might be a great time to start one!


Here are some great products that helped me write this article. I thought you might find them helpful too.

Flying Creatures by Apologia. This is the science curriculum we use in our homeschool.

Bugs. The World’s Best Terrifying Insects. We have had this book for years, but my brothers and I have all just sat around and read this book because it is so good.

Bug Hunter by Smithsonian. It is a hands-on guide to the natural world.

I hope this gives you an idea of what the differences are between bugs and insects.  I’ll be writing lots of articles about insects in our backyard and we will talk about both, so I wanted to start here so we all could understand the differences… but I’ll still probably slip up and call them bugs!

I hope you enjoyed my article … until next time!

Backyard Bug Study Series


Hi, I’m Blake. This is the first post in a new series I’m starting called the Backyard Bug Study. Guess what I will be writing about? Yep… Bugs! And Insects.  

Backyard Bug Study plain

First let me introduce myself to you! I’m Blake and I’m eleven years old. I have two brothers who also write on this blog. We are all homeschoolers. We live in a small town in Tennessee called La Grange.

Blake 2014

It is a very rural area where we have around 40 acres of land with a huge house! So large we can’t manage all of it! We are trying to sell it to buy a smaller house and less land. So I thought I would create something to help me record the great memories of my first home! 

bybs house


Our backyard has tons of clover and dandelions (there are weeds growing in it too)! We have a wide variety of trees, and some of them are very fun to climb! 🙂 And bugs. Lots of bugs. We have stinging bugs, flying bugs, digging bugs, biting bugs, swimming bugs, hopping bugs, boring bugs… you get the idea. We have bugs! So this should be an easy series to write because we have LOTS of insects and bugs here!

backyard 2


And while we are on the subject of bugs, let me tell you about the word “bug”. Many people use the word “bug” when really they are looking at an insect.  Bug only accurately describes a few! And even the ones that have the word “bug” in their name, most aren’t even bugs at all! We will learn all about that in this backyard bug study! Which ones are true” bugs and which ones are insects, where they live, what their natural predators are, are they harmful or helpful to your plants and garden, and lots of other fun and interesting facts. 

I hope you will follow along with my new series and that you will find it helpful! Maybe it will give you some ideas on what to study in your own backyard! If you do choose to join us, please leave a comment each week to let us know what you found!  

Have a great week!


9 Fun Elementary Math Board Games

Math can be really hard sometimes. So anything that can make it fun is worth trying. Have you ever tried playing a game to help with math? Well I have a few suggestions for elementary math board games for you!  We play games a lot for math!  And I love playing them too!9 math board games

1. Math Bingo   

Whole Number Bingo

 Although I haven’t personally played this game, I’ve played many others like it. I think they are a fun, and a creative way to review math!

I love playing the Conceptual Bingo games when I don’t understand a subject in math completely. It brings a fun way to learn, and memorize it (with my mom or older brothers helping me)! 


Money Bingo

Money Bingo is a great way for kids to learn to calculate money values and also helps in addition and subtraction.

I always loved playing money Bingo when I was younger, I especially liked it when you also used dollars and cents to make the game more fun and easy to understand!


Decimal Bingo

Decimal Bingo is a fun way to incorporate decimals, which I always had trouble with, into a fun, educational game!

I always used to have trouble with decimals, this game helped me review a lot but make it fun at the same time!

2. Fraction Games

Frog Pond Fractions

Frog Pond Fractions is a great way to put fractions, into a very fun game!

Frog Pond fraction was one of my absolute favorite games, I would play it for enjoyment, It was easy to play, yet still helped in learning fractions!

Pizza Fraction Game

The Pizza Fraction game is a fun way of playing with fractions, and, for kids who like cooking (like me), it seems even more fun!

Although I don’t personally remember much about playing this game, both of my brothers say it was a lot of fun, and educational!

Fraction Fortress Game

The Fraction Fortress Game is a fun game for learning fractions!

I haven’t played this game, but I wish I had! Based on the reviews I’ve read, it sounds very fun!

3. Place Value Games

Place Value Bingo

Place Value Bingo, like all the other Bingo’s, is a fun, and educational way to learn!

Cam you tell I love Bingo Games!

Place Value Safari Game

Place Values can be tough sometimes, but games like this, always make them easier!

I haven’t personally played this game, but it looks like it would be a lot of fun!


Place Value Space Chase

Space Chase is a fun board game, which not only teaches Place Values, but also addition and subtraction!


I hope this list of games helps you!! Enjoy!

C is For Crabbing at the Carolina Coast

Hello this week’s post is going to be the C of my alphabet blogging series. C is for  Crabbing at the Carolina Coast. Every few years we rent a beach house for a month in North Carolina. My mom is from New Bern and this is when we get to spend time with her family.

One of the many fun things we look forward to doing when we are at the beach is crabbing.  I’m not sure if everyone crabs the way we do. We “crab” with a net to catch the crabs, and a bucket to temporarily put the crabs in before we let them go. We crab at night, because these ghost crabs are nocturnal. We usually go out at about nine to ten o’ clock at night because we see the most crabs then.

Crabbing at Carolina


Here is how we catch crabs. Once we see a crab, we lunge out and cover the crab with our net. You need to practice catching shells with your net for a little while before going crabbing. If you don’t, you will probably end up killing some of these crabs accidentally. Practice getting the shell in the center of the net. After you have the net on your crab, carefully flip the crab into the net. Then put it over to the bucket and drop it in. I usually have caught about 5 crabs when we release them. We release them about a foot from the ocean, and then watch them scurry into the nearest wave.

We love going crabbing. We do it almost every night when we are at the beach. We live 1,000 miles from the North Carolina coast, unfortunately. So when we are there, we get our fill of crabbing!


This last trip to the beach, we did a different kind of crabbing.  Let me tell you a story about a crab we named Earl. We found Earl after the hurricane named Earl that hit the beach while we were there. It was after the hurricane that we went back to the beach to look for new shells that were moved to the shore by the hurricane. While we were shell hunting my brother Gage found a conch shell and when he picked it up he noticed crab legs were inside of the shell! He ran to show mom and we all sat around studying it, thinking of a name for it and wondering what kind of crab it was.

Eventually we came up with the name Earl, after the hurricane that had just been there. We got a bucket of salt water and put Earl in the water on some sand. We studied him all day and watched how he behaved. We released him later that day, so we thought for sure our time with Earl  was over, but we were wrong.

Gage Crab 2

The next day we went out shell hunting again and we found lots of cool shells and conchs. As we were looking through them, Gage noticed a shell very similar to Earl’s, the crab we had caught and named the day before. Gage quickly picked up the shell to investigate and much to our surprise, there he saw the same crab legs sticking out of the shell. We had lots of fun looking at Earl while we were playing that day. And again, we released him in the late afternoon. But this time it was the last time we saw Earl.

I hope you enjoyed my post and maybe it inspired you to go crabbing some day!


B is for My favorite books!

Hello! This is my “B” article for the alphabet blogging series, B is for my favorite books. I love to read and I read a lot. These are my favorite books that I’ve read this year.

B is for my favorite books

I love reading book series. I have read many this year. I also love adventure novels. Boone is both. When Boone the Forgotten came out, I stayed up until 1:00 in the morning to read the whole book. I loved it! I can’t wait for the next book, Boone the Sanctified to come out.

Boone the Ordinary: It’s about a boy named Boone and three of his friends, Noel, Case and Wayne, and his little sister Kaylee. It starts with Boone and Noel sitting in church together and their Sunday School Teacher mentioned the legend of Elijah Craig.  Noel hadn’t heard it before so Boone told her how a man named Elijah Craig was searching for the Mishpachah. She was fascinated by the story and they, along with their friends, went out searching to see if the legend was true.

Boone the Forgotten: this is the second book in the Boone series.  Boone is in the 8th grade but doesn’t have any classes with his friends.  He is very thankful they still go to the same church.  One day a friend from the garden named Cora came and then another fun adventure began.


If you would like to read a great review of the first book in the Michael Vey series, my brother Chase wrote this one.

Michael Vey book one The Prisoner of Cell 25: Michael Vey looks like a normal fourteen year old student but he has a secret, a special power. He thought he was the only one until he figured  out that Taylor, a cheerleader also has a similar power. Later Taylor as well as Michael’s mom are kidnapped by the Elgen, an organization using kids with powers like the ones Michael and Taylor have to build an army. This book is focused on the search for his friend and his mother.

Michael Vey book two The Rise of the Elgen: Michael and his friends went to a friend named Mitchell’s house and looked through some information to try to find his mother. They find where she  might be and the search for his mother begins again.

Michael Vey book three Battle of The Ampere: Michael and his group of friends,  along with a guide, are starting to divide into two groups “Staying and Leaving”, but they still put their plan to destroy the Elgen’s main ship in work.

These are my favorite books I’ve read this year.  I think children aged 10 and older will enjoy these too. Hope this list is helpful to you!  

See you later!

Alphabet Blogging: A is for Amazing Adventures

I was thinking about what to write this week and was having a really hard time choosing a topic. My mom suggested alphabet blogging. I liked the idea! This week is the beginning of my series of posts for writing through the alphabet.  If you are (or want to be) part of our tween / teen linkup, you can join me writing through the alphabet! This first post is: A is for Amazing Adventures.


For about two months now we have been going on weekly “excursions” where we explore our neighborhood and county.  Our last excursion was the most exciting and fun. This one we did as a whole family excursion instead of our normal ones where it is just my brothers, my mom and I. This time dad was off work and he came with us. First we went out to eat. We really don’t eat out often, so this is always a treat for us.

Then we went started exploring. When we go out exploring, we are not going anywhere really just driving and looking and seeing the area. We started in Grand Junction, TN, and then we headed over to Hickory Valley, TN and explored a few other unknown roads near them.

The first road we took we found ourselves driving up a pretty steep hill that overlooked a bluff. It was an amazing view, I even thought I saw some caves. We drove several other roads around this area and kept ending up in Hickory Valley. We laughed because we were not really trying to go back there because we had just left there.

After a while, we were heading home,  but decided to investigate one more road. This last road we went on is what made the adventure so much fun. We started down the road. It was just a normal asphalt road with all of the normal road features. But then the asphalt road stopped and it turned into a gravel road.

asphalt 5

We only had 67 miles left in the gas tank before we were empty. Mom asked whether or not we should go back, but we just kept driving down the gravel road. At first we thought it might have been a long driveway, but we eventually saw other driveways branching off, so we ruled out it being a driveway. The further down the gravel road we went, the more narrow and less traveled it became and the more we thought we might want to turn around. But right then we stumbled onto this old house, and it was made out of logs… like a log cabin. At that point we knew there was an easier way to get in because they probably didn’t drive that long gravel road we had just taken to get to their house.

Log Cabin 4

So we kept on driving. Suddenly we came upon two asphalt roads, one going left and one going right. Since we were now down to 52 miles of gas left we decided to use our mom’s iPhone to figure out our way home. We followed the GPS’ directions and turned right. We popped out on a familiar road, the one that our dad would take us to soccer on. 

We drove home from there and were all cheerful about the fun adventure.

Do you go out exploring your neighborhood or area? Leave a comment and tell me what your favorite adventure has been.

Hope you enjoyed reading my “A” for Amazing Adventures post!

Be back soon!


Our Dog Molly

Hello! I’ve decided that I’m doing a chain of animal posts for our creative writing linkup for June, but this will be the last about animals because I have no more animals to tell you about. The other articles are: Our Turtle, our Cats and now finally our dog Molly.

Middle and High School Linkup for Students and Moms!

Molly is an Australian Shepherd. She’s black, white and brown in some places. We got her as a present from one of our best friends as a little puppy back in 2007. We named her Molly Grace Corlew… and there is a story about her name.  So, why did we name her Molly Grace? It was meant as a joke because she was NOT graceful at all. She would tumble-down the steps, or she would run really fast and then just plop over on her side and bang right into you. But that was about six years ago now she’s fully grown and is a GREAT guard dog.

Molly Collage


Mostly Molly stays around the house and watches. Sometimes she wanders off or follows us into the woods, but she is mostly a stick-around-the-house-dog. She doesn’t know too many commands but she knows some basic ones like: Sit, Stay, and sometimes she will lay down. She doesn’t do roll over or catch but she does respond to “Go get it!” She will run after anything moving. Sometimes Molly goes into “Crazy dog” mode where she runs around wild or flips over on her back and kicks her feet in the air, its funny to watch when she does that.

We also used to have one other dog, his name was Blackie. It was a black dog and it wandered up as a stray. But after a few days Blackie disappeared. We think we know why!  There is a little house we often drive by and there is a dog that looks exactly like him. He even has a red collar like the one we put on Blackie.

Thanks for reading the last of my animal chain posts. Maybe I’ll come up with another chain but until then!

The Great Kitty Migration!

Hello! This month we can choose our topic for our Creative Writing Link-up Posts. I’m writing about our kitties going outside…. I’m calling it The Great Kitty Migration. I’ll give you the background story of how we got these kitties, etc.

 Middle and High School Linkup for Students and Moms!

It all started out when one of our friends in Grand Junction, TN had a litter of four kittens she was wanting to give away. We gladly accepted and brought home three kittens. But when we released them from the carrier one of them ran and crawled under our cabinets in the kitchen. It just so happened that the cat that ran under there was mine. So we went back and got another, he didn’t run under so he was my cat. We named the cats we had Tiger, Gracie, Pumpkin and the one under the counter Precious. Pumpkin and Precious were orange kitties and Tiger was a gray and black striped tabby kitty, and Gracie was a tortoise-shell tabby. We tried every day to get Precious to come out and he would come out eat, drink and crawl back under. But one day Precious came and rubbed up against my brother Chase’s leg and then he started staying out and finally stayed.

So we had four kittens, but soon that would all change. Gracie was pregnant and she had a litter of four also.  We named them T.J., Midnight, Mysterious and Salsa. You might be wondering “Why those names… Salsa and T.J.s?” We originally thought about naming Salsa “S-face”, because she had a brown patch of fur that looked like an S.  T.J. we named Stripes, at first. We didn’t really like the name S-face, and Stripes looked so much like Tiger, we decided to re-name them. I don’t know why we named her Salsa but we did, but T.J. stands for “Tiger Junior” which was going to be a nickname but just like our turtle it became his real name.


After about three years every once in a while a fuzzy cat would come up on our porch and look at us through the glass door, and we would feed her hot dogs. Chase named her Fuzz ball because she was so fuzzy. One day we read the weather and it said that there was a chance of freezing rain, so we were going to let Fuzz ball stay in a night or two, but when she came in, she never went back out.

This year we lost Mysterious.  We already knew she was very weak and was getting weaker and weaker. We took her to the vet and they said she had Kitty Leukemia and we didn’t want her to suffer so we put her down.

Now that you have the background, I will tell you about the migration. The migration of cats is where six of our kitties are going outside. The ones going out are Tiger, Pumpkin, Precious, Fuzz ball, rather Fuzzy is what we call her now, T.J and Salsa. The ones staying in are Midnight and Gracie. Those are all the kitties that are staying and going. But right now we let them roam in and out as they please. In the next two weeks they’ll be outside cats.

Hope you enjoyed reading about my cats and “The migration” see ya’ later!

Meet our Turtle Wurtle!

Hello, this post is part of our creative writing linkup for teens and tweens. It is dedicated to my turtle, named Wurtle.

Middle and High School Linkup for Students and Moms!


His name was originally Kristal when we thought it was a girl, then we thought it was a boy and renamed it Kris. We still are not sure what its gender is, so its nick-name, Wurtle has sort of become its permanent nickname / real name.  Wurtle is a red-eared slider that we found in our pool. My dad was getting the pool ready after the winter and was putting Shock in the pool. After he had poured the Shock in, he found the turtle. He brought it in the house in a container and showed it to us. We were in the classroom doing history at the time and were studying Kristallnacht (Also known as The Night of Breaking Glass). When he told us he had just used Shock in the pool we were scared we might have blinded the poor turtle so we decided to keep it.



When we first got Wurtle, he was about the size of a quarter, now he has grown to about the size of my hand. He is a huge eater… eating close to a can of turtle food in a month. My brother, Chase, trained our turtle to bite your fingers. We used to hand feed Wurtle and when he bit you when he was little, it did not hurt. Recently, when I was hand feeding Wurtle, he bit my hand and just wouldn’t let go! I could have dragged him around the tank with him still attached to my finger. That was unusual, most of the time he let go after a few seconds. I have been working on getting it out of the biting stage and now, it won’t even eat out of my hand anymore! So now I put the food in the water and on a fake log for it to eat.


Our turtle is in our classroom, and it just so happens that it is right beside my brother Gage and close to me. The reason why I like this is because it is very calming to watch and hear. Turtle swims around the tank a lot and dives off the rocks. The sound of water is nice and our filter has a waterfall, so it’s pretty to look at too! Since the turtle is in our classroom, it became part of our school work too. Mom wrote a post about some of the works we used to study about turtles.

When we first got Wurtle, we had to do lots of research to learn all about red-eared sliders. We needed to know how to take care of it so we researched things like:

  • What it likes to eat
  • what its tank needed to have
  • how big it would grow
  • how warm to keep the water
  • what kind of heat lamp to use, and
  • many other things about how to care for Wurtle.

These are the books we used to research turtles:

We quickly learned that keeping a turtle healthy and happy is a little bit of work. Not so much that we didn’t want to keep it, but more than we expected. One thing that we found out the first week… turtle tanks get dirty and FAST! That was the worst part of taking care of the turtle in the beginning. We had to clean the entire tank every week to keep the water clean. Until mom bought a Viquarium. That was the best thing we found to help keep the turtle tank clean. Here is a video from the company that makes it.  We highly recommend it!!

Do you have a turtle or other reptile?  Tell us about it!

Divergent Book Review

Hello! Okay so this week’s topic is our choice, and I’m doing something different this time. I am sharing my Divergent Book Review. My brother, Chase, did a review of Micheal Vey Book One: The Prisoner of Cell 25. I finished that series about a month ago, and I’m still waiting for the fourth book to come out. But I also read this series, Divergent. There are three books all in all, and I might still do a review of them all, but right now I’m starting with the first.

There are five “Factions” or divisions of people: Dauntless, Erudite, Candor, Amity and Abnegation. Each division has a symbol. Dauntless has A ring of fire with a flame in the middle of the ring;  Erudite is an eye;  Candor is a scale;  Amity is a tree; and Abnegation is two hands holding each other.

A Book Review of Divergent


The book starts with a girl named Beatrice and her faction was Abnegation. She was sixteen, which was a very special age because you are old enough to choose a new faction. This was called the Choosing Ceremony. She had to take a test to see which faction you were supposed to choose. Her results were inconclusive, meaning she was “Divergent” which meant she could choose from three factions: Dauntless, Erudite and Abnegation.

She went to a new faction (I’m not telling which, it would spoil the book) and made her way through initiation. Even though it was tough for her she made four new friends: Christina, Will, Al, and Four. Four was her instructor and her friend. She went through her initiation and faced hard challenges but it was all worth it. In the end she had what she wanted, a faction where she was normal. Some of the reasons I liked this book are

  • Interesting plot
  • Action packed
  • Unexpected twists
  • No bad language
  • I love that it just pulls you into the story!  I couldn’t put the book down!

That sums up about 3% of the book, I tried to leave it a little vague so you can still have the joy of the many surprises in the book. All in all Divergent was a great book, and series. I am going to enjoy watching the movie! But it will be a while because we all read the books before we watch the movie and my brothers are just starting the series.


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