Friday, February 27, 2009

Science Kits and Preparing for a Rainy Day.

Sometimes, we just need a day off of regular studies and a day full of fun experiments. For those kind of days I like to raid our science box that I keep in our playroom. I usually buy science kits from places like TJ Maxx. Since I don't go there very often, I usually buy whatever kits that I don't have if I come across them. They also aren't very expensive, costing anywhere from $8.99 to $12.99 a kit. This is great saving given that many of these kits retail for $20 or more. You can find all these kit online as well, but the prices will be higher! Here are some of the science kits in our collection.

  • Space Travel
  • Magnetism (we have 2 different ones)
  • Vehicles
  • Electricity
  • Dino excavation
I also have some science activity bags that I made for those rainy days. These activity bags include a print out of directions and all the supplies needed for the experiment. I provided links to some of the activities. They are very easy and can usually be made with things found around the house.

I also have these books that always provide fun and easy experiments that tend to keep the kids busy and free from boredom!

If you want a great resource for science fun, you can also check out this awesome website from PBS. ZoomSci. This website features experiments from the PBS show "Zoom," which we loved until they stopped airing it in our area.

It's always handy to keep things easily accessible. I find that I'm constantly raiding our preschool bins, science bins, and arts & crafts bin. Luckily, I tend to keep them well stocked! But having them there avoids a LOT of the "I'm bored" syndrome. Hope you get some good ideas!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ash Wednesday.

This morning was a rush. A rush in that I had to get everyone ready, out the door, and at church by 9am. We attended morning Mass for Ash Wednesday and so began our Lenten journey. I love car rides with the kids, as it is a time where we always have great conversations and so much teaching takes place. Today's car ride to church and then back home was no different. We talked about Ash Wednesday, Lent, and what things we could do as a family together to prepare for Easter. Here were some ideas.

"I think we should not eat. What is that called again?" -Marco

"Let's go visit some poor people and feed them." -Anthony

"Maybe we can go and feed some animals. They get hungry too." -Isabella

"Let's give our money to other people." -Marco

Although so simple, I think the kids came up with terrific ideas!! Of course, after each suggestion we talked about how we could implement the idea and I explained why there are certain things we do during Lent (like fasting and abstaining from meat).

As for what we are giving up...that is the ultimate question that seems to drive me crazy every year. Not because I don't know what I'm going to "give up," but because I take that as a very personal thing between myself and God. I always do come up with something simple to "I'm giving up TV...or chocolate." But the real thing, the hard thing, is always kept between me and God.

So...what are you giving up for Lent?? :)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

For Today.

Today I focused our morning with reading. Marco read Frog and Toad are Friends, along with some books from the SSRW curriculum. Isabella worked on her Explode the Code book and also read some books from SSRW. We celebrated our reading morning by taking a trip to Barnes & Noble. The kids were allowed to pick out whatever books they wanted and I was happy that they stuck to readers and some puzzle books.

For the afternoon, we concentrated on reviewing math facts, completing some religion work, and ended our day with some fun science. I received the newsletter from Tobin's Lab and was happy to find some fun and easy experiments to do with the kids.

We prepared some icy boat floats for a quick and easy science experiment about density. The kids prepared the floats according to the directions. Later, we tested them out in the bathtub and talked about density. After the ice boats all melted, Marco and Isabella drew a picture of the experiment and each made a little presentation about what happened. Marco, of course, had a few sentences to write about it...mostly dictation. Here are our results.

Preparing our boats for the freezer.

Making sails for the boats.

Watching the color dissolve into the water as the ice boat floats.

Comparing which boat is less dense.

Having fun with the ice boats.

In looking back at the pictures...I just realized that I still have our Advent calendar hanging on the kitchen wall!! Go figure! I guess I have more important things to notice than what's on our walls!!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Planning a Lent Lapbook.

Ash Wednesday is fast approaching and I'm still wanting to do a Lent lapbook with the kids. I have made a list of what I'm thinking of putting in it; and with the help of Dinah Zike's Big Book of Books and Activities, I'm also listing what paper fold I'm planning on using (this is the over-planner in me!). I might add some things as we get into Lent and I might take some things away. But for the most part, I feel like I have enough to start off with.

Lenten Lapbook
  • What Is Lent? (hamburger fold)
  • Why Do We Celebrate Lent? (hamburger fold)
  • Mini Stations of the Cross booklet
  • Prayers (booklet)
  • Saints and Feast days. (envelope fold)
  • Examining Our Conscience (hamburger fold)
  • The 10 Commandments (layered look book)
  • Ways We Help Others (layered look book)
  • Corporal Acts of Mercy?? (layered look book)
Some activities that I have planned include the following:
  • Decorating a family altar
  • Make a crayon stained glass cross
  • Stations of the Cross
  • Make a banner
  • Make an alms box or jar
  • Lenten Cross
There is so much to do during Lent and I don't want to overwhelm the kids with any project or activity. This is just a brainstorm list I have gathered from my Lent books and resources. Now that the kids are getting older, I know that they are able to grasp so much more than when they were younger. I'm hoping that this is a starting point for us and I'll be busy preparing for our Lenten journey as a family. I'll make sure to post things as we complete them, along with resources.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

I'm Back!

We are officially back from Disney World. It feels good to be home and now we have a week to prepare our home for Lent. Today is our unpacking, clean-up day. I'll be catching up with the laundry from vacation and once that's done, I'll move on to preparing lessons for tomorrow and next week.

In the mean out for new Disney pictures!!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Disney World. Here We Go Again!!!

After coming back to blogging, I'll be taking another small break. We have been planning our vacation for a little bit now and things always seem to be last minute with us. Because DH's schedule is a little different, we don't always get the typical summer vacation; and it's not always a Sunday to Sunday thing. We'll be leaving tomorrow and be back next Wednesday.

During my absence, I'll make sure to take lots of pictures and chronicle every step that we take! We'll be making the trip with some good friends of ours, so the drive will be full of fun and laughter. I'm happy that we'll be doing some date nights as well. We've planned a night in Downtown Disney and are looking forward to Cirque du Soleil's La Nouba performance.

In the mean time, I hope that all visitors get to know me by reading past posts. I hope that I can generate some new and fun ideas to other homeschoolers as well.

Have a happy week!!!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Making Nature Crafts.

It's nice to be getting things back to normal around here. My morning sickness has subsided and now I have most of the day free from nausea until it hits me around dinner time. Although I am still getting sick, I'm thankful that I can function all morning and early afternoon without feeling so bad.

Yesterday the kids had their Valentine's Day party at co-op. I was upset that I forgot to take my camera and therefore can't share some of the happy events of the day. Today, however, with the beautiful weather outside. I sent the kids out for a nature scavenger hunt. We saw signs of spring everywhere! I was glad that we have been back to starting school at 8:30am.

After we finished our core lessons this morning, I decided to make the kids some paper cups so that they could collect their scavenger hunt findings. These cups are a neat little thing that I think all moms and dads should know how to do as the kids think they are the coolest thing! You can even use them as drinking cups. Need some instructions? Just follow along.

Drinking Cup/Paper Pockets

Begin with a regular sized piece of paper. I like using cardstock for sturdiness. Fold a corner of the paper over so that it forms a large triangle. You will have a rectangle shape left over on the side.

Cut the piece of rectangle. This will leave you with a large folded triangle.

Fold the right side of the triangle over.

Next, fold the left side of the triangle. The two sides will overlap.

Fold down one side of the top.

Fold down the other side of the top.

Open your cup and fill it with goodies!!

Once I did a paper cup for each of the kids, I gave them a list of things they were to find. Marco read the list to everyone and they headed out to the backyard in search of nature's treasure!

Isabella looking for acorns.

Anthony examining some wood chips from a cut-down walnut tree.

A small glimpse that spring is on it's way!

After our little hunt and running around outside, the kids brought their items inside. The paper cups were perfect for holding the small things we found outside. Not wanting to just talk about what we found, we decided to make a picture frame using the found items. Here are the results!

The kids decided to frame their favorite Valentine cards. It was a fun craft and I had fun taking pictures (as is obvious from this picture filled post!!).

Friday, February 6, 2009

Co-op Field Trip.

Today we went on a field trip with our co-op to the grocery store, Lowes. The kids really enjoyed it, although I wasn't exactly too happy with the presenter. The field trip consisted of a tour through the grocery store with stops in all the different departments. It was nutrition related, so the kids got to look at healthy food choices and even sample several food items.

We did have a pretty good size group, since all the co-op members attended. It's always so amazing for me to see a homeschool group gather with all their children. I am in constant amazement at how well behaved our group was and how all the children are able to interact with all age groups (from babies to adults!) without any problems. It makes me thankful that I do not have to send the kids to school!

Although I thought the presenter for the field trip could have been a little more entertaining, I'm glad that the kids still had a good time. At the end of their tour, they received a goody bag that included some healthy choices reading materials and a grocers hat. My kids spent the afternoon playing grocery store and enjoyed watching them!

Isabella take a listening break, while Anthony hold Melissa's hand. Melissa is our babysitter that I love and I take her with me whenever I need an extra hand!

Some of the co-op kids moving on to the next part of the tour.

The children all got to pet a lobster while on the tour.

Update on our Fun School.

It has been fun to see the kids looking forward to fun school again. The NWF Green Hour activity was a perfect way to get them out of the house with a purpose. It had been chilly outside, but as long as they are dressed for the weather, I don't think they care if it's cold, raining, hot, or windy!

As always, I love when my kids come together and help each other out without being asked. This is a great way for them to build unity among themselves and work as a family team. It also makes me think, "My kids are awesome!"

Painting is always a favorite activity around here, so the NWF activity was a perfect way to lift their spirits and make them get away from the usual core subject lessons. Since the completion of their project, the kids have made a point of prominently displaying their rock garden in the school room. They are very proud of their work! My next step? Secretly move their rock box to a less disturbing location!

Anthony loves green!

Marco concentrating on his rock design.

Isabella is always drawing happy faces.

Brothers working together on their rock box!

Isabella getting creative.

Finished products!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Bringing Back the Fun.

Today I decided to bring back our "fun school." Since I've been feeling horrible for the past few months, I've kept all school lessons to just the basics. No crafting, no painting, no nature walks. Just reading, writing, math, and some religion. But looking at my kids' faces when I pull out the books is getting pretty depressing and I have realized that I am taking the fun out of school.

Co-op has been our sanity saver lately. It is educational, yet the kids are constantly looking forward to it. They do science experiments, art & crafts, along with learning Latin and doing lapbooks for their continent studies. The day after co-op always starts a new countdown..."6 more days until co-op!"'s pretty sad that it's come down to that, when it used to be that I would have something fun for the kids to do every day.

My plans for today include doing the NWF Green Hour activity. This will include sending the kids outside to look for some nice rocks and then bringing them back in so that the rocks can be painted. To keep our rocks from ending up all over the house, we'll also be making a rock garden for them out of a shoebox.

After the rock expedition, and when most of our regular school work is done, I'm going to have the kids make some jelly candles. This was our project for Catholic arts & crafts at co-op. Marco got to make a candle and I think the activity is easy enough for the younger kids to do. This will also be something we can add to our prayer time.

Even though I still feel nauseous and out of energy, I don't want to rob my kids of having a good time while they are learning at home.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Preparing for Lent.

I have been thinking a lot about Lent lately and how it seems to sneak up on me year after year. Today I decided to prepare for it a little in advance. Today I ordered some books to help me with presenting Lent to the children. I'm thinking of making a Lent lapbook; working on small activities every day. I think this will help the children not only learn about Lent, but how it's such an important part of our Catholic heritage.

Here are the books I'm hoping that will help me prepare and guide me through the Lent season.

I really feel like I am lacking in Lent and Easter materials overall. The good thing is that my church is awesome and they have a nice little library with lots of resources that families are free to check out!

I'm hoping that between these books, the books from church, and maybe some videos thrown in there...I'll be fully prepared to present Lent to the whole family!

New School Room Tour.

It's back to school time and it seems like everywhere in the homeschool blogosphere, people are giving tours of their learning spaces.  ...