Friday, December 31, 2010

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

Well, for our house, it was definitely the chickens. We've had our chickens for over three months now, and we just this week got our first eggs laid! Needless to say it was an exciting event over here.
Since we have Bantams, the eggs they lay are quite a bit smaller than regular size chickens, (2 bantams equal approximately 1 regular) which has also made for further science experiments as we measure, compare and contrast our fresh Bantam eggs with store-bought regular eggs.

In honor of our first eggs, we've done some fun chicken activities this week.

Grandma brought over the first two eggs! We got a total of 5 this week (and found out we have a lot more roosters than we thought- uh-oh!)

Borrowed chicken puppets from the library and just-for-fun books like "Henny Penny" and "Big Chickens Go to Town" (such a fun read, especially with the puppets!)

Here are some fun sites we used, Chicken and Hen Theme, also The Little Ren Hen is awesome on the Starfall site, and gave the kids some interactive phonics reading time on the computer.
Worksheets for the kids, my kindergartner reviewed "Ch" and my toddler had fun with Humpty Dumpty activities.

The most fun by far, was the egg experiments we did!! Along with measuring the differences between Bantam eggs and "regular" eggs, we also did a really great density experiment where we sank an egg in plain water, and added salt to the same amount of water to make the egg float! We did predictions for water and water & salt for both kinds of eggs and then tested our hypothesis for each. It was so much fun! We also examined the eggs with a magni-scope to see if we could see the pores on the shells. It was great.

Here are the two sites I used to guide us along for this: Egg Fun and Egg Magic.

And here are a few more pictures, of our coop and our chickens shortly after we got them.

After our egg experiments, my daugther wanted to continue exploring what foods she could float in water, starting with an orange and an apple, lol. Don't forget the lessons don't have to end when the pages do!

For more related adventures we've had in the last few months, see my Where Things Come From post.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A week's worth of homeschool lunches...

Even homeschool moms have lunch ruts! It's easy to fall back on staples like peanut butter and jelly, chicken nuggets or mac and cheese. But one of the often unforeseen benefits of homeschooling can be that you can ensure your kids eat nutritious meals and snacks (and that what you pack isn't being peer-pressured into the trash). My poor mother packed a banana for me probably every day in elementary school, little did she know, we used them as phones for an hour then threw them away. I still have many mac and cheese days around here, and we pack lunches for field trips and outings, but here's a sample of what we'll typically have for lunch during a normal at-home homeschool week.

Wild rice with snap peas and oranges

Homemade turkey noodle soup with whole wheat crackers

Black bean and rice wrap-ups with pretzels and cottage cheese

Don't forget to change stuff up every so often and make breakfast for lunch! Here my kids enjoyed fried eggs with silly-face toast (peanut butter on toast with bananas and raisins for the face) and a side of oranges.

Tomato Soup with grilled cheese sandwiches (don't forget--goldfish crackers can jazz up tomato soup too!) If you don't have crackers on hand, even some shredded cheddar on top will do. And don't be afraid to change up the sandwiches with different kinds of cheese, or adding thin slices of turkey, ham or bacon.

Cheese Tortellini with garlic english muffin and side of carrots. I make my own garlic toasts often, just butter and lightly dusted with garlic powder. This invites for turning anything, from an english muffin to a bagel into a tasty, pasta accompanying bread.

Hope this helps or inspires other lunch ideas for your kiddos. Also, I've found that changing up the plates and bowls from time to time make the same old foods twice as fun for preschoolers. Feel free to share some of your favorite lunch combos as well.

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine is offering great deals right now, I've subscribed for the majority of this year and found it to be a comforting, interesting resource. I like that it doesn't come every month, so I'm not cluttered with magazines that come faster than I can sit down and read them. There's just enough time to savor it with a nice cup of coffee (okay, who are we kidding here, it takes more than one cup of coffee!) but nicely enough, that spreads it out and it gives me reason to make a break for mom--we get a recess, too, right? Check it out!

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Tis the season...

With Christmas a couple days away, I thought I would share a portion of the many activities and lessons we've done throughout December, including fun with gingerbreads, reindeer and Nativity events.
Oaklahoma Homeschool put together this wonderful Christmas Unit Study

Homeschool Creations has this amazing resource, a Unit Study based on The Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett. It's fantastic. My daughter has loved playing all the games and the lessons, including practice writing Gingerbread, sorting and matching gingerbread people and the animals in the story.
The Sand Lake Library held an event we registered for to make our own gingerbread houses, but my kids had colds that morning, so we made our own. You can use graham crackers to make it easier, or follow this Gingerbread recipe from

My kindergartner enjoyed quality art time with grandma this month as they painted giant outdoor reindeer decorations made by papa in his workshop.

A to Z Kids Stuff has fun preschool reindeer activities we used to follow-up, with songs, snacks and more links. And here are some more Christmas-related worksheets for math and games.

Of course the reason for the season goes much further than gingerbreads and Rudolf. (See my recent post for fun ways we like to give back )
We have a few different Nativity scenes, one I had growing up and another I like just to change things up and teach that no one really knows what Jesus, Mary and Joseph looked like.

Also, we made our own this year with these felt templates at DLTK. My kids especially enjoyed this and it was so simple to do, it would make a great Christmas Eve activity.
DLTK also offers this free Advent Christmas story coloring book.
To accompany our Nativity studies, we were lucky enough to go on a small field trip to The Critter Barn for their Living Nativity. I was so glad to find a live Nativity during the day, and also in a heated barn. Top it off with ALL the animals they had, along with an educational room with photos from Bethlehem, it was an awesome day and wonderful learning experience. As we walked up to the donkeys, my daughter was telling my son how Mary rode a donkey and Joseph walked. Then she turned to me after seeing them and said, "Mom, I didn't know donkeys were this big!" And that, I thought to myself, is reason enough for our trip. I cherish those learning experiences!

That night we went home and watched "The Very First Noel", which is a marvelous animation narrated by Andy Griffith that follows the journey of the three wisemen. It was our first time seeing it, and it is defintely a classic for our home now. Our entire family LOVED it! I really recommend it! After the movie, my daughter was sitting on her dad's lap asking about the Christmas tree. "All the lights there on our tree," he told her, "are like all the stars in the sky. And the big star on top, that is like the one the wisemen followed to find Jesus." That night I happened to find out Currclick was giving away this nice "W is for Wisemen" themetic pack by i360, so that fit in nicely the next morning.

Needless to say, we've been busy preparing for the holiday. Making crafts and decorations, things like homemade gifts, paper snowflakes and baking cookies.

Merry Christmas!!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers: The Public School Parents' Guide to Homeschool Parents

Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers: The Public School Parents' Guide to Homeschool Parents

If you've ever wondered why some people homeschool or what it means when someone you know has chosen homeschooling as their choice for education, READ THIS. I could not have said it better myself, and I agree completely with her entire list. All 10 reasons she gives are completely true, and if you want to understand my family's decision to homeschool, reading this guide will give you exactly that insight. I can't even pick a favorite out of the list, because I agree with all 10 so much. It's all true.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Yee-Haw! Cowboy Birthday Hoedown!

Howdy, partners! My son turned 2 over the weekend and we turned our territory into a western ranch for the occasion. For the invitations, I used cowboy terms like "saddle up" and "mosey over", "bend an elbow and cool yer heals with the other buckaroos" etc. letting guests rsvp by saying, "Yee-haw! We'll be there" or "Dagnabbit, we can't make it." I made the envelopes out of brown paper lunch bags. I cut off the bottoms of the bag to do this, then I used the bottoms to make stand-up name tags for each deputy.
My son was the Sheriff, and all his friends were the Deputies. They got badges with their favor bags, which I filled with cowboy and indian figures, cowboy crayons and kazoos. Each cowboy (and cowgirl, his big sister) also got their own stick horse to keep, thanks to the local dollar store.

A few seasons ago at Hobby Lobby I found some great Snowman Cowboy decorations on clearance (80% off!!) and my son's room is already done in a cowboy theme, so I was able to use a lot of especially cute cowboy decorations.

We bought a new bale of straw to bring in the house (that we'll use afterward for our chicken coop anyway) and set it up between two catcuses that I cut out of green construction paper. We set up our bounce and spin pony next to it and as the buckaroos arrived they could pretend to feed the hay to the horse. It made for an adorable picture spot, too.

For plates I used 4-inch round tin pans to go with the cowboy theme, and I bought a pack of small rugged dishclothes to use for the napkins which I tied loosely with brown yarn with criss-crossed forks and spoons.

We served tacos with all the fixin's plus corndogs for the cowboys.

We used a fun, quality Cowboy Hat Dish for serving the chips and salsa out of, it came as an elaborate set of porcelain western serving trays from a sportsman trading store catalog which they discontinued so I got the entire set for just $11 including shipping!

My husband went all out in his cowboy apparel which, believe it or not, we had already on hand, including the leather chaps, a nod to his days playing shows as a drummer in various costumes.

For the party my husband made cardboard saloon doors to swing through the kitchen and dining room which was a great touch.

A horse is a horse of course, of course, that is unless of course the horse is a seven. I tried my hand at making a cake shaped like the head of a horse. I have never done anything like it before, I didn't think it turned out very well, but I get an A for effort, right? I even warned friends as they arrived to have compassion for my failed attempt to make a horse... I didn't have a horse pan, I cut it from a 9x13 and used the pieces I cut elsewhere for the ear and snout. Of course, my friend Leslie (bless her heart) got there AFTER I pled for slack and innocently asked if I made the cake into a 7. Ha! No, but I think I'll stick to store bought ones from here on out. ;) Maybe we'll say the 2 year old made his own cake... he ate it anyway and didn't mind one bit.

Opening presents and greeting grandma and papa...

One of the games I had the kids do after dinner was draw the pokey prickles on the catcuses, which they enjoyed. We also had the kids decorate their own cowboy vests out of brown paper grocery bags using glitter glue, feathers, crayons, streamers and star stickers.

All and all, it was a terrific hoedown and everyone, including the birthday Sheriff, had a knee-slappin', hats off good time!