Friday, December 30, 2011

Memory Tray Game

My daughter absolutely loved this activity. And the best part is, you can do it at any time, with next to nothing prep and zero expense! Find 10 random, unrelated items and arrange on a tray. Have your child look at the objects for 5 minutes, then have them close their eyes. Remove one object, have them open their eyes and ask them what is missing. Repeat as desired. Then, remove the entire tray and have your child draw the tray and the objects from memory. Play again with 10 more objects, even keeping a couple of the same items and changing the rest. It's not as simple as it looks to remember. :)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Paper Pants, Shirts and Socks: A mix, match, pair, sort and color game

Grab several colors of construction paper and cut out multiple shapes of shirts, pants and socks. Have your preschool and/or kindergartner mix, match and pair them. This is great for color practice and for following simple instructions in Twister style: "Yellow shirt, blue pants, black socks." "Blue shirt, yellow pants, purple socks." "All black." etc. Your kids can play it together and challenge, one makes up the arrangement and the other dresses it and vice versa. Store them in a ziplock bag for easy re-use.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A week's worth of Homeschool Lunches

Here are some simple at-home lunch combos to throw together besides mac and cheese or chicken nuggets (not that hot dogs are all that creative or different, but you can pair them with something other than fries or chips!) :) Nothing out of the ordinary here, but homeschool lunches do save on the pocket book AND allow for more nutrition and leftover options. We didn't have a lot of fruit for lunch last week, but that's because we got all our fresh fruit in heavy with breakfast and snacks. I find we take up much less time in our school day when mom already has lunch planned or made! For more simple lunch ideas at home, click the lunch tab below.

Venison Tacos & Cheesy Rice

Turkey Burgers, Homemade pickles and cheese perogies

Homemade Chicken Pot Pie leftovers

Tuna Fish sandwiches with cottage cheese & pretzels

Hot Dogs & Ants on a log

Saturday, December 10, 2011

No-Bake Granola Bars

This is super simple to make, plus my kids and my husband LOVE it.

1 cup honey
1 cup peanut butter
2-1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1/2 cup coconut
1/2 cup shredded chocolate (or choc. chips)

Melt honey and pb in saucepan. Remove from heat. Add oats, nuts, coconut & chocolate, mix well to coat. Spread evenly in an 8 x 8 square pan. Cool. Cut into squares or bars. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Michigan to Indiana: Learning through Travel

The kids took their first trip out of state back in October, and it inspired our geography lessons prior and throughout the journey. We studied the region on a map and made a Travel Journal where we pasted coloring pages from Michigan and Indiana, and learned the state flags, state birds and state flowers. We also compared similarities and differences both culturally and geographically (both speak same language and in Midwest region of the same country, both touch Ohio and Lake Michigan, etc.)

We even used it as an opportunity to get ourselves our very own Homeschool Mascot!! Midge, our Homeschool Hedgehog, is a welcome new addition to the family and we took various travel photos of her along the way. She'll be a great companion as we continue to travel on our road of home education.

We made a point of stopping at both of the state's visitor centers for pictures and time to stretch our legs and picnic. It was a wonderful trip. Granted, it was "only" to Indiana, but for the ages of our kids it was a big trip and the first of many as time goes on. I'm excited that our kids are getting to a point that we can venture further and further, as we plan to travel more as they get older, just as my mother and her parents did across the country with us growing up. The world is our classroom!

"The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page." -St. Augustine

Friday, December 2, 2011

For The Wizard of Oz, There's no place like home(school)

The Wizard of Oz has always been a childhood favorite of mine. My mom and I watched it every year. I cannot listen to Judy Garland's "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" without feeling the rush of nostalgia that seems to carry me like a wave right back to the vulnerable, cherished time of being a little girl. Seeing as how OZ is any unattainable place, as an adult it may just as well be the innocent center of childhood you're wishing to be sent away to, beyond the rainbow.
While I surely cannot return to my childhood, I have been blessed to re-experience and share in it through the wondrous eyes of my children.
Our most recent literature read-aloud for our homeschooling was L. Frank Baum's classic Wizard of Oz, which was already a favorite movie for my kids. We were blessed to be given the Sonlight curriculum's accompanying study guide from a friend, and also blessed to receive a gorgeous Dorothy dress from another friend earlier in the year which my daughter wore for Halloween. The blessings kept trickling in, we found a local opportunity to enjoy the Wizard of Oz musical at the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre.

It was an amazing show, my daughter and I went together, she dressed in full costume. What a magical experience, the performance and special effects (stage flight, smoke, fire, etc.) were very impressive and watching it with my daughter was priceless. Her eyes danced and her face filled with joy throughout. Everyone ooh-ed and ahh-ed her attire during intermission and after the show we even got to meet Dorothy, who graciously gushed with excitement to my daughter for looking just like her.

On the way home, my daughter initiated the conversation in which we compared and contrasted the similarities and differences between all three: the book, the movie and the musical.

Along with assorted wizard of oz coloring pages and a homemade lapbook, here are a few more related activities we've done which were not mentioned in the study guide but were fun ways to expand our studies.
Science experiments:
Water melts the Wicked Witch of the West: In Baum's book, Dorothy says the witch melts like brown sugar. Make small brown-sugar witches in shallow bowls and melt them by slowly pouring a cup of water on top. Explore what else is water soluble by attempting to dissolve different solids in water.
Exploring Emeralds and Rubies: Gemstones are common in Oz. Dig into geology lessons as you discuss what gems are, how are they made, and why are they so valuable. Could you really make a city of emeralds, or wear a pair of ruby shoes?
Weather: Make a Tornado in a jar, and experiment with rainbows and bending light.
Math Connection:
Make a Yellow Brick Road of paper for your floor. Count how many bricks it takes to make your road cross the house? Outside? Down the street? What about if the individual bricks were smaller or larger? Measure and make your way through the room, and your kids will also love skipping along their own homemade yellow brick road to continue imaginative play.
Story Retelling sheets: Follow the Yellow Brick Road
And most of all, remember, when it comes to loving and learning, there truly is no place like home.