Thursday, October 5, 2017

School update

So, we are finally back to school, and into week three. So far we have studied farms and been to visit a couple farms for field trips. We have also studied apples and been to an apple orchard for a family day out. Now we are moving onto a more general fall theme for the next few weeks. Here are some pics below of how the kids have been doing.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Almost back to school

Unlike most of my friends and their families, we still haven't begun school this year due to certain life situations. We begin next Monday and I am excited! I love the family fellowship that occurs during 'school'. It's one of the only times I completely forgo the housework and allow myself not to think about it. Instead I just enjoy being with my children and watching them grow and learn. It's a wonderful blessing to experience it first hand when one of my children masters something new or surprises himself with what he can do. And I look forward to a year of new wonders.

I will be back to share with you guys what we will be using as far as books, activities and field trips etc.

Here are a few shots from the fair we went to yesterday. Enjoying the last of the Summer!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Muffin

My daughter (10) made her first muffins without any help or supervision today. They were low-sugar blueberry and delicious. She was rightly so proud of herself and really loved having the chance to prove she could do it.



Getting Prepared

It's that time of year again. When the end of Summer looms over you like a threatening rain cloud. Knowing you have to embark on another journey into the land of curriculum and manipulatives and .... organization! Not my strongest point, I will add!

As yet, I haven't purchased any new school books for any of mine. I have been spending far too many a late night researching them all and trying to get it right this year!! No easy task. The school room is half way done though, which I'm pleased about. I pulled everything out that was old to make way for the new to come and it's starting to shape up. I do still have to go through the old books and organize them into bins. What do you do with all this stuff? Mine just takes up room currently. One day....


I really am going to miss the ease and fun of Summer. New Hampshire Winters are cold and long and we are often forced to stay home rather than brave it (ok that might just be me!). So, we're trying to make the most of these warm days while they last! 

Friday, September 23, 2016

Make your own chocolate kit review

Do you like chocolate? We certainly do around here, in any shape or form! Though, for some reason, with all the cooking experiments we do as a homeschooling family, I’ve never given making our own chocolate a try before. Fortunately the makers of Glee Gum make this a real simple affair. They have these fun candy making kits available on their web site and allowed me the opportunity to try one out in exchange for my review! We were lucky to get the chocolate one! All I had to do was yell, ‘who wants to make chocolate?!’’ and the kids were off the couch and infront of me in the kitchen within seconds, raring to go.
Inside the kit was everything that we needed to make us some delicious and cute little chocolates: 1 information sheet, paper candy liners, 1 bag each of cocoa powder, powdered sugar, solid cocoa butter and starter crystals. A temperature strip was included and even a couple whole cocoa beans to munch on during waiting periods. Best part? Everything was already measured out and separated.
The step by step instruction guide was nice and simple for us mom’s trying to do it with three kids!
  • Melt
  • Combine
  • Heat
  • Cool

It gives details for each step such as what temperature the chocolate needed to get to and what to add/ when. And relatively soon after the mixing and stirring, the kids got to enjoy their chocolate treats.

Willow and Ryder trying their cacao beans unsure of what to expect.

Willow helping with the stirring
 As the instructions encouraged, we added our own ingredient to the chocolates to make them extra fun and some color. The kid’s chose tiny M&M’s which were simply placed into the bottom of the paper liners before pouring over the chocolatey goodness. Peanut butter would have made a yummy option too. My six year old enjoyed placing all the M&Ms into the candy liners and pouring of the chocolate. My three year old handled the finger-dipping and bowl-licking. And my big girl and I did the melting and stiring. We were all able to enjoy the experience.
What I also quite liked about the information sheet was that it included information about chocolate such as the latin name for the cacao tree (Theobrama cacao) and on the opposite side of the sheet is a story about a girl named Lucia from Costa Rica who takes care of cacao trees and harvesting the pods. It tells the process of where chocolate originates to how it ends up in our mouths at the store. Truly educational and not just for the kids!

These did not last long for me to get more pics!

Our box also included lots of yummy samples of natural Glee gum and lollipops for the kids to enjoy. My son’s words, ‘this is the best gum I have ever tasted, mom!’ So go on and check out their site to see their different products. Including a candy combo kit!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Pick and Draw

Rich Davis, who is the clever inventor of the game Pick andDraw was kind enough to send me this wonderful little game in exchange for my thoughts. Before I do that, let me explain how it works.
Pick and Draw is a unique and fun drawing game that encourages children, using a deck of cards, to get creative making funny cartoon faces and have heaps of fun while learning!

The cards contain five different categories: face, eyes, mouth, nose, hair. As your child picks one from each category, they draw what they see on the card, as crazy or as normal as they like, allowing them to form different kinds of kooky characters each time.
I love that it’s simple enough that any age could enjoy it. Even those too young to have a good grasp on drawing will have fun in their attempt to join in (ask my toddler!) It’ll have them rolling as they draw and name their hilarious characters.
I loved playing this game with my three kids at home but I can imagine the joy would only increase in a larger group setting. Rich Davis actually visits schools sharing this game with the children in classrooms and other settings. I think I may bring to my children's homeschool co-op. I teach an arts and crafts class and I think the kids will love it. But even as a ‘quiet time’ activity for one child to sit and have fun with alone, it would be good. And us Mom’s love those activities, am I right?

This game has a very low price of just $10. Totally worth it! You can try it out here. 

Monday, June 6, 2016

No Batteries Needed

Summer is almost upon us and, as Spring comes to a close, so does school for my kids. But that does not mean that learning has to end too. We have simply ditched the textbooks for the wonderful outdoors – well, our back yard but its all good and green!

I have been looking for some creative activities for us to do that combine nature with learning. There are many books out there on the subject but, being a fan of Asia Citro’s books, I couldn’t wait to try her new book, A Little Bit of Dirt: 55+ Science and Art Activities to Reconnect Children with Nature. 

This is actually now my favorite of her three books. I just couldn't say how much I absolutely LOVED it because that would not be possible. Each page was just awesome. I love the design and layout. I love the colorful photographs and the creative activities. And I'm not embarrassed to say that I was just as excited to do the crafts and activities as my kids were. It's a real gem and wonderful source of inspiration for me when it comes to getting outdoors with my kids and as a family.

After having fun just sifting through the beautiful pages alone, we just could not decide which activity we wanted to try first but I assured each child we would get to their choice!

We started with a nature walk to find some leaves for the Nature Cutting Tray activity on page 40. I knew this activity would be a good one for my toddler.
We simply took along a pair of scissors and a small bag (plus my little one brought with him a magnifying glass to 'inspect') and started collecting a variety of leaves and flowers as we walked through trails near our home. 

We took our time and just enjoyed being together, discussing the names of the leaves we were clipping and how they appear throughout the seasons. We talked about the different uses that leaves can have (healing, homes for birds etc).  We breathed in the fresh air and laughed. It was so nice! I realized how little I actually get outside with my babies. I will definitely be doing it more for sure.
Once we had a collection of leaves, we took them back to the house and I set them out on a tray in our ‘school’ room and let my toddler start cutting at them with his ‘big boy scissors’. Such a simple activity but he absolutely LOVED this and remained occupied with it for about half an hour. I could have got the huge pile of dishes in the sink done but it was such a joy to see him pause every now and then just to study the plant he was holding. Twisting and turning it, smelling it and throwing little bits of stem and leaves everywhere giggling.
The other activity we did was called Frog Hunt on page 42 ­­­. The instructions were to go on a frog hunt using little toy frogs but since we have an abundance of real life frogs in the ponds around us, we got to hunt for real ones.
The kids managed to find a huge bullfrog at one point which provided endless amusement. They pointed out his different features (slimy skin, claw-like feet, ear drum etc) and laughed as he hopped around and finally to his way back into the pond.
It was so neat to see how he camouflaged into his environment. The search also led to finding salamanders and turtles. There’s no shortage of them this time of year.
My husband so nicely volunteered to cut up a small tree branch for the activity on page 36 entitled Nature Blocks. He used an electric saw which made nice little round disks for the kids to build towers with.
But the best part was counting the rings together to see how old the tree had been. Something I learned personally from this activity as quoted from the book:

“If a certain ring is especially thick, there was a lot of rain and sun that year and the tree was able to grow much bigger. If a ring is thin, there was a drought or other hardship that kept the tree from growing much that year.”
Asia notes in her book that not all of the activities need to be done outdoors in a natural space. You can gather the materials you need and bring them inside which will still provide that sense of connection to nature – by observing, touching, and manipulating natural objects.


Our last experiment we did (so far) was the activity Coloring Flowers on Page 74. So simple to put together with few items needed.
We collected three white flowers, cut the stems to the same length and placed each in its own glass of water – making sure to use the same amount of water in each. Next the kids added food coloring to the water. We used one color (they chose purple) and added different amounts to each glass of water, labelling as we went. We tried 1, 5 and 10 drops as Asia said she had tried with her kids.
As suggested in the wonderful ‘extensions’ section on the page; we also tried a different color flower. But looking back, I think we should have tried a darker colored flower, less similar to white. So then we left them overnight to see how the food coloring had affected the flower’s color.  The kids thought it was really neat the next day to see how the flower had moved the water from the cup up to it’s petals via the stem.

I am so thrilled with this book. It is such a great resource for parents who are looking for ways to enjoy being outdoors with their children. I highly recommend getting yourself a copy today! 

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