Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Cure the Cabin-Fever Blues!

Yesterday I went for a lovely evening walk with my family as we enjoyed the warmest day we've had in 2014. We broke the 50 degree mark here in the Midwest, and after being pummeled with blizzard after blizzard, it was a much-needed change!

Now I sit looking out my window at the newly fallen 8 (YES 8 MORE!) inches of snow whipping across one neighbors yard to the other as the winds howl as if to whine about it as much as I am!

So what to do, but check out some fun activities the kids and I can do to pass the time till spring can finally wedge its way into our reality!  I stumbled on a website I just had to share, as I know many of your little cabin-fever-infected munchkins are as desperate for new, interesting activities as mine.

Tammy over at Housing A Forest has an unbelievable website that is so well organized and chock full of amazing art projects and fun experiments for kids, I just had to tell you about it! Ideas from
Exploding Peep Geysers

to Elastic Band Launchers

to Starburst Candy Sculptures

Amazing, right? I haven't even shown the kids yet, but I'm so excited about this website that even I might forget what's going on outside my windows!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

How-To Writing

I'm sure many of you have seen the "How to Blow a Bubble" pins on Pinterest. Well, I just had to do this with my little guy who is obsessed with gum!

We started our week by using this FREE How-To Writing kit from the Down Under Teacher

Our first practice story was about how to make a bowl of cereal.
Then how to make a PB & J

Then came the fun... how to blow a bubble. Here we are in front of the mirror, trying to see exactly what our mouths were doing so we could put our process in to words.

Insert hysterically laughing mom here!

...still trying...

Final result: no bubble, but a really cute paper and fun memory!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Geography: Mapping Out Our Week

Are you like me and just can't keep yourself from changing, tweaking and adjusting the way you tackle your schooling? I'm convinced it must be some virus that is automatically transmitted when you open your first box of curriculum, because it seems to infect even the strongest of us!

We are working through the states for Geography this year and I am trying to do this as a group activity. You know, 3 kids at once... make it easier on mom.... right! My children range from a completely  "Ooh! A squirrel!" type 2nd grade boy, to an over-achieving 5th grader who needs about 3 seconds to learn ANYTHING, to a "do-I-have-to-be-here-for-this?" 7th grade daughter. So, adjustments as we go have simply become a given.

As always, I started off the year with all these grandiose plans: field trips, food from each state, etc, etc... Then, as if it's still a startling phenomenon, life happens. Sickness or scheduling issues prevent a field trip. That great state recipe sounds yummy, but I forgot a major ingredient at the store! Why do I keep setting myself up for these inevitable failures?

Rather than bore you with the list of trial and error methods that failed us, I'll share what actually IS working for us now. First, I had to decide what exactly I wanted them to come away with. If you're the mom who dreams of your kids being able to name, locate and label every river, mountain and major city in the US, I tip my hat to you! With an upcoming move on the horizon, I however, dream of surviving this year - just being honest!

I wanted them to learn a little about each state's history and resources, it's capital, abbreviation, and major landmarks - to be able to hold an intelligent conversation with others about the country they call home. So, here's the routine we've settled into:

We cover 2 states per week.


  1. We watch the current state's segment from The States from The History Channel. This has worked out much better than reading the material. My kids tend to be very visual learners, so this has removed some of the bored out of their minds less than attentive attitudes.
  2. Quickly practice the capital and abbreviation for the state.
  3. Then:

  • My older girls use Trail Guide to US Geography to complete each state's mapping assignment. (We found that the questions in this book began jumping around and weren't about the state we were studying, so we omit that part. Maybe because we have an older version of the book?)

  • My 2nd Grader and I go through a fabulous book called The Little Man in the Map. If you haven't seen this, you should definitely check it out. It uses a little "man in the map" called MIM for short, to help kids place the states. Here is a video to show you a bit more about it. All my kids have loved this book and learned a tremendous amount from it!
  • Using Scholastic's 50 Great States Read & Solve Crossword Puzzles, my girls read a summary of information about each state and then complete a crossword puzzle to really lock in those facts. Right now, this is on sale as an eBook for $1 on the Scholastic site.

Wednesday & Thursday, we repeat this process for State 2.


This is our review day. We review all the states covered so far in any fun way we'd like to. If it's been a crazy week, we may also use the Stack the States app or Sheppard Software's game to review states & capitals.

There are always so many fabulous resources to choose from, I can make myself crazy trying to use them all! This schedule gets the information into their brains without stressing us all out! I'd call that a win!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

It's Back! Scholastic's $1 E-Books

Scholastic's Teacher Express store is having their $1 e-book sale from now through November 8th!

These are the same content as the paper copy books, but you can use them to print off multiple copies for all your students, or you can simply use some of the book's pages for specific studies, after all, they're only a dollar, right?

Next week, I will be posting some tips on what resources we have finally settled on for this year's state studies for multiple grades. But since one is included in this sale: I'll give a little sneak peak on one of them. For my 5th and 7th grade girls, we added Scholastic's 50 Great States Read & Solve Crossword Puzzles. Each state has a summary page that covers the highlights: capital, major cities, exports, famous people, etc.  The girls read the summary and then answer questions on the following page to complete the crossword puzzle. It has really helped lock those facts in their memories. I don't know about you, but just reading the information TO them, results in glazed over looks on thier barely awake faces very little memory retention.

I hope you snatch up some great finds on this sale! Just be careful! That "It's only more dollar!" voice can get you in some trouble, I speak from experience here! This will not be the last time they'll do this, I promise! It'll be okay to pace yourself! Shop on, my friends!


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Weekly Wrap-Up 10/18/13

This weekend, we took a little trip to our friends' farm for a Fall Harvest Festival. It was such a beautiful day and everyone had such a great time. They had a bounce house, face-painting, pumpkin-painting, sack races, yummy food, a pumpkin slingshot, tractor rides and my absolute favorite - tricolor Rice Krispie treats made to look like candy corn. What can I say, I love Rice Krispie treats!  Hats off to my dear friend who always  throws a great party! 

Monday was my sweet hubby's birthday so the kids and I made this little message out of their bodies! The best part of this gift was how hysterically we laughed while trying to pose them. All the "Her bottom's in my face" and "Hurry, I'm falling over!" had me in stitches. We had to redo a couple of shots because I was giggling so hard, I shook the camera. Dad LOVED his surprise so it was definitely a winner!

As for our schooling, we learned about cold-blooded animals and camouflage in our Magic School Bus science. We made some invisible ink out of equal parts of water and baking soda. I was a little skeptical that this simple solution would do the trick, but it totally worked! I have a feeling there will soon be lots of little secret messages around our house.

For his writing assignment, he wrote about what he would do if he were invisible for a day. Get it, camouflage and being invisible??? Here's what he wrote:

How adorable is this!
In art, the kids made a color wheel and then practiced designing circles using primary, secondary, warm and cool colors. Miss 7th grade loves art, but I think she enjoyed the company more!

 Well, that's it for us on a pretty slow week! I hope you had a great one!


Saturday, October 12, 2013

Weekly Wrap-Up (4 States, the Ocean, the Desert and Grandparents' house!)

Weekly Link-Up. Click above to visit other bloggers.
Last weekend, I had the amazing opportunity to go on a women's retreat with my church. Unfortunately that means another double-wrap-up week this week, but it was completely worth it! On top of an outstanding spiritual experience and bonding with so many wonderful women I now call my friends, I also got to try my hand at rifle shooting, archery and horseback riding. This, my friends, is how girls should get away!

As for our homeschool weeks: 

Week one (Sep 30-Oct 4) consisted of our US Geography studies of New York and New Jersey and our Magic School Bus lesson on coral reefs. Now, just to clarify, we covered much more than that, but I didn't think ya'll would be too excited to see photos of my kiddos filling out their math textbooks or writing a paper. So, here are the highlights. For our State Food/Movie night, we ate Subway subs in honor of New York and Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies in honor of New Jersey.

For science, we got to make a wave in a bottle out of three simple ingredients: water, oil and food coloring. It's so simple! Just pour oil (We just used Canola oil) into a clear container and fill about 1/2 full. Mix the blue food coloring into the water and then fill the container with the water. Then the oh-so-important final step: screw the lid on - VERY tightly! When you slosh it back and forth, it almost looks like slow motion giving that calm effect of rocking waves. My little guy is keeping it in his room, and so far, there's no 'ocean' in my carpet. I'm thinking I may need to sneak that little number out of there before we have a crisis, though. LOL!

Week 2, Oct.7-11, took us to the great states of Pennsylvania and Delaware. Now we couldn't sample goodies from Pennsylvania without chowing down on some yummy Hershey chocolate and a delectable Philly Steak and Cheese sandwich. 

Since Delaware hosts an annual Pumpkin Festival, we ate pumpkin cupcakes from that Pinterest recipe using only 2 ingredients. Ok, sorry to burst the bubble, but I thought they came out really thick. I would have to add an egg or two to make it fluffier. Just my opinion! My sweets-deprived kids however, devour anything that sounds like it has sugar! So we slathered on some cream cheese frosting and they gobbled those babies right up!

Our Magic School Bus study of the desert included a fun activity making sand dunes. We poured a bag of sand (a souvenir from our recent vacation) into a shallow container and used a 'bendy' straw to blow the sand into heaps. Voila! Sand dune!  If you try this, you may want a slightly deeper container. When I tested it, no issues. In the hands of a 7-yr-old boy, however. Let's just say there was a lot of clean up on aisle one!

Our weather has been so beautiful, we decided to do our reading outside. We put the picnic blanket under a shade tree and snuggled in with our books only to find ourselves, moments later, swarmed with gnats! They were crawling on our books, our clothes, and I don't even want to think about how many were hosting a party in my hair! Yuck! My girls lasted about three minutes and went back inside. My son gave me those puppy eyes and really wanted to stay so I begrudgingly stayed out of guilt hung out there with him for as long as I could stand it (maybe 5 more minutes) Oh well, we tried!

October means 'school photos' around here so while the kids were playing outside, I snapped some practice shots. Not sure we're ready for the real thing, but we had fun anyway!

hammin' it up!


At that age where she hates her picture taken, but she was being such a good sport!

Mr. Man feeling crafty on Wed night. He made his own robot buddy! We just had to put this pic in!
Friday, we packed our remaining schoolwork and headed to Grandma and Grandpa's cabin on the lake for a short visit. The kids got to go for a paddle boat ride, go fishing, lay in the hammock and just relax for an afternoon. That is until they got back to the car and their mean-ole-teacher made them get some more work done. Ah, the hardships of traveling with your teacher!

So how is your year going so far? What fun things have you experienced together? Leave me a comment below and share!