Thursday, March 31, 2016

5 days of homeschool tips: Day 4~Nature study


Today I am going to share some nature study tips. I believe that getting outdoors is so vital for our children today, and taking it a step further, I think it's important to learn about the different things in our world too. I remember as a child wondering about so many things, like cattails for example. I just didn't know why those sticks looked like they had "hot dogs" on them! I would have loved to look at them closer, with more information about what they were, and what that "hot dog" thingy's purpose is.

You bet we have studied Cattails! And, I finally got to touch one! They are very soft.
Children have such a natural curiosity and love for nature, but how do we get that love focused into a nature study? It's not always easy to have purposeful outdoor time, but it is possible. With a little planning and preparation you can help direct a child's focus on certain things outside.


A nature journal is one of the best ways to help focus on a certain aspect of nature. You can take it with you out on your nature adventure, or you can record an entry when you get home by taking a picture , or bringing home a specimen of what you want to draw.

A journal page that I did for pine trees.

Having a challenge or specific thing you are studying can be a great way to do a nature study. There is a great blog with many, many challenges and ideas called Handbook of Nature Study, such a great resource! I have also found recently Nature Explorers from Shining Dawn Books with some focused studies.

Our outdoor challenge study of Queen Anne's Lace

Hiking or walking with a field guide can be a great way to study nature. We probably get most of our studies this way. Having the children look for certain things during different seasons is a great way to get them to look around, and often times they'll discover more than what they were looking for. For example, if I ask them to find a mushroom, they usually find all kinds of other cool things as they look closely at the decomposing logs.

A walk at a local nature park is a nice place to go on a little adventure.

Books or internet for an indoor nature study is a great way to go when the weather is yucky, or you cannot find the thing you want to study in your area. You can use them for pictures to try and draw in your nature notebook, and the internet has some great videos that can can be watched for some of the outdoor experience (sights, and sounds). A lot can happen with books, but don't forget to go outside and experience nature if it is possible.

We had to use books and movies to learn about woodpeckers as they are hard to spot, and the weather wasn't always nice when we were studying them.
Bringing nature indoors can be a fun experience for nature studies. Any pets or animals, raising caterpillars to butterflies, raising baby chicks, leaves, seeds, some plants, and so much more can be brought indoors. We've also done a rock study indoors with our rock collections. So much science is involved with nature studies. Hands on is always more fun.

We had our butterflies to observe for a few days before we let them go. It was so fun to have them right there while we painted them.

 Local Gardens or Nature centers have a lot of interesting things in one small area. We love to go to our local garden's homeschool day every year, there is always something new to explore. We have also visited many nature centers on our camping trips, or nature walks. They share a lot of information about what is found in an area, and the kids really focus on some important things there. Often they have a ranger working there as well, and those guys are full of some great information too. The kids always like to meet a park ranger. Also, our state camp grounds have a junior ranger program that offers some great nature classes during our campouts. Those are a great source of nature studies as well.

Exploring the pond station at the Silverton Garden's homeschool day. They spent a lot of time at this station.
Go geocaching or Letterboxing. These are little "treasure-hunts" in forests, parks and cities. You have to use clues or a gps to find your "treasure," and often it takes you through some interesting terrain. We have had some great discoveries while doing these.

Found our Oregon Coast Quest "treasure". This was a fun hunt.

Field trips can help you experience nature studies that are truly unique. The zoo is obviously one place to experience a lot of nature. The aquarium also. We've also gone to a rock museum, and the humane society. A farm field trip is a great experience too. One of our favorites was a field trip to an elk farm.

A unique experience getting to see real live elk up close was a very memorable nature study. This was a very interesting field trip, and we learned a lot.

Give a child the camera. It's amazing how closely they will look around at things when given the camera. It's fun to see nature through their eyes too. My teen really likes to have the camera now during our outdoor time which is great because I'm at a point where I don't always want to be looking at everything through a camera. I often times want to just enjoy looking around. It's a win-win, and she gets some great shots. I believe younger children should get the camera too. They will look for things rather than rush around (at least that is the case with my boys), so if they can handle the camera let them give it a try.


That about wraps up some of my ideas for getting out and studying nature. Now I want to get outside and do something! Maybe we'll go letterboxing tomorrow...

If you want to see some more tips from other great bloggers just click on the image or just start with the links below for a great place to start.

5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents
Jennifer @ A Peace of Mind
Jennifer @ Faithful Homestead
Joesette @ Learning Curve

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

5 Days of Homeschool Tips: Day 3~ Life happens

I had different plans for my 5 days of tips today, but life happened yesterday, so today we are just going to talk about when life happens.

Along with having a sick child yesterday, this is what I did, organization of our school shelves. I have been putting it off, and putting it off, but I just felt like it was time to finally get them organized. We got a few subjects done. But mostly, I just didn't worry too much about school getting done, or writing my planned post for today, and focused on this. 

I don't have many tips for days like this, except to say that they happen. As a homeschooler you just have to learn to roll with it, do your best, and call it a day.


Join me tomorrow, and I should have some tips for nature study!

For now go read some of the other bloggers who are sharing tips for homeschool parents. Click on the image for the complete list of tips, or start with the group of blogs I featured below.

5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents
Megan @ My Full Heart
Melanie (Wren) @ finchnwren
Melissa @ Mom's Plans

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

5 days of homeschool tips: Day 2~Art, squeezing it in

Today I am going to share with you some homeschool art tips. How to squeeze it in, and some of our favorite homeschool art resources, books, and websites.

Art is my favorite subject at our homeschool. I sometimes get the desire to just throw all school out the window and just do art all day. Seriously. This happens at least once a week. We don't have the luxury of doing that, however. In fact, I've noticed that art is maybe starting to fall to the wayside for us as my kids get older and busier with their other subjects. We are doing art a lot less these days. How about you?

Well, I don't like that! I want them to keep being creative, so I am trying to find more ways to squeeze it in. All that messy goodness tends to make me/us want to skip the art projects (even though I absolutely love it, sometimes I just don't want to get it all out). I'm here to suggest some ways to maybe squeeze some art time back into the homeschool day, or week.


Want some tips on teaching art? Want to know how to make it more simple? Here are some things I've learned over the years...

1. Pick lessons that are shorter in length that involve mostly drawing and coloring, using some simple mediums like oil pastels, chalk pastels, or sharpie markers. Some of our favorite drawing tutorials include: Hodgepodge chalk art, Rob art for kids hub

2. Make supplies easily accessible. I am still working on this one. I think if I could have everything in one place life would be so much easier...Instead I have to chase supplies around which means I'm less likely to tackle an art project on a busy school day.

3. Round up supplies ahead of time. This kind of goes along with #2. It is so helpful to have everything on hand and ready when I know there is a certain project I want to do, and I'm not running around like a crazy lady while the kids are antsy to start (this happens way too often).

4. Let DVD's or YouTube do the teaching. There are so many tutorials out there. Sometimes if I'm unsure of what I'm teaching I will be less likely to tackle the project with the kids. But, when we include a live tutorial I feel more confident.

5. Let them have the time to be creative. I know this sounds like the opposite of squeezing it in, but when art projects go smoothly, and the kids feel like they had time to do what they wanted, art is a happier thing. More happy art = more desire to do art. Right?

6. Expectations. Don't set expectations so high. Let the kids create, and don't expect some elaborate masterpiece that will take forever. Most art projects really only take less than an hour. Sometimes even just 15-30 minutes. But, on the flip side, also set a time limit if your children do like to take hours creating art. This happens at our house. What I think will be a quick art project turns into a half-day art fest because my kids just want to keep creating. Don't be afraid to put a cap on it.

7. Pick a day. Have a special day set aside for art. Once a month, once a week.

8. Find excuses to create art. Holidays, seasons, movie (characters) and special lessons are the first things that come to mind. Often we skip over the elaborate project that is part of a lesson because it's too much work. Sometimes those projects can make great art, don't skip them if you can.


Want some ideas to get started with art in your homeschool? Here is a round-up of some of our favorite resources:



That wraps up day 2 of my 5 days of homeschool tips. I hope this was helpful, and that you want to go see what others are sharing for tips. Just click on the links below!
5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents

Monday, March 28, 2016

5 days of homeschool tips: Day 1~kids in the kitchen

I am going to be spending this week sharing my homeschooling tips with you along with other bloggers from the Schoolhouse Review crew. It'll be 5 days, with a new post each day. Today I am sharing about cooking with kids. Some other tips I plan to share the rest of the week are: Art (squeezing it in), field trips, nature study, and living math. I hope I can provide something helpful to you with all this. Sometimes I still feel like I am the one needing all the tips, but I think I've got a few up my sleeve. I am looking forward to seeing what tips I can find this week as well! Ok, on with the cooking tips...


Kids are naturally drawn to the kitchen, even from a very young age. They see us Mom's in there and are very curious, so they pull the chair over to the counter to get a better look at what we're doing. Before you know it they are helping in their own little way. "I want to mix!", they say. All my kids have done this, and they still do even as they get older. 

Finding time to let the kids explore the kitchen is easy when you homeschool. Being home all (or most) day(s) gives many more opportunities to help with meals and snacks, and even be a little creative. In today's post I want to share some tips on how we incorporate cooking and meal preparation into our homeschool.

1. Go to the library and get some kids cookbooks
I have one child in particular who went through a time where this was all he checked out from the library for several months, but through the years all my kids have enjoyed doing this. There are plenty of amazing kids cookbooks out there. Some very educational. Some with great pictures. We have discovered a lot of great kids cookbooks by just checking them out first, and trying a few recipes. We have purchased a few that we've really liked too. Another option is to let the kids search pinterest.

This is a book we checked out when we saw how fun this book was from some reviews last year. I wanted to give it a try ourselves.

2. Look for specific homeschool cooking curriculum

When my daughter was about 8 years old we started this Lessons in Responsibility for Girls book. It is a great book with recipes, and details as to why things are done the way they are in the kitchen. This was a great start for us getting her in the kitchen cooking by herself, and only one example of a type of curriculum you could get. I am sure there are many other books and even online classes that could be a fun "class" for your homeschooler. We also just discovered a great free kids cooking course at My son did the first lesson recently, and he really enjoyed it.

Lessons in Responsibility for Girls Level 2.

3. Let them do most or even all of the work

Sometimes, if I can, I just sit back and let them do it all. As much as is safely possible. I am there at the table just giving them advice or direction if they don't know where something is. They love this! They also sometimes think they can't do it, but they can. You'll find that they can do it, and will do it if you just step back. It's hard to do sometimes, but I enjoy just sitting there watching them rule the kitchen, and I don't have to do much! I don't recommend this with real young children, although you can let them do quite a bit too. But, if your child has had some lessons on how to do things, and you feel like they can handle it, give them a chance. It's easy for us Mom's to "just do it quickly," well don't! Let them mix or pour, or crack the eggs. These are steps they need to learn too.

Aric did most of this recipe on his own!

4. Let them pick what they want to try, plan, make a list, and then take them to the store to buy the ingredients.

Most of my kids' desire to cook comes from their own excitement about trying a new recipe that they have found. When they are interested in something I tell them to make a list of the things they need, and then I make the effort to take them to the store. I usually let them try something even if it's something that I don't really want to make or deal with at the time. This is very hard! But, if they own it, they will do it, and I find that I usually don't have to do much myself (with the older kids, that is). There is a time and place for kids to cook and help when they don't necessarily want to, they can learn that too, but let them explore sometimes too.

We chose Black Hole Swallow-Ups for our recipe from this book.

5. Include them in all meal preparations throughout the day, or have it be a part of a unit study or lesson

We love to jump into the kitchen for a fun recipe that ties into our lessons, or as part of our Five in a Row units. Those are sometimes the most memorable moments with the kids in the kitchen. We also have to have lunch everyday, so that means that everyone can help in someway to get it on the table. My littlest guy, he just loves to chop, so I can usually give him a kid-safe knife, and have him prepare some fruit salad. I've had the kids scrub potatoes in a bowl at the table. They think that always great fun. Pick a task and let 'em go at it!

The result is always fun to see.

6. Watch some cooking shows!

This has to be one of our most favorite ways to include cooking into our homeschool. There are so many great kid friendly cooking shows. Even YouTube is loaded with some great cooking tutorials, and even videos of kids cooking themselves. We love to watch Alton Brown for the science behind the cooking. We've seen a few episodes of MasterChef Jr, but since we don't have cable it's not one we see too much of.  Watching these can be very inspiring to little chefs.


7. Try out a real live cooking class, or host one in your own home.

We've done both of these. Our local parks and rec has a kids cooking program, and we usually try to sign up for a class when it's available. The boys actually have one coming up here in April, and it'll be "Cinco de Mayo" recipes. Pretty fun. We have also gone to cooking classes in other people's homes where they offered a class. With a little planning and preparation I think it could be a hit for any homeschool Momma to offer a class in her home to a few kids.


These are just a few of the tips I had today for getting your kiddos in the kitchen while homeschooling. It really is one of the great benefits of homeschooling. It is great training ground for kids to learn to cook, eat healthy, and get to know more foods.
Want to see what other tips are being posted this week? Click on the image below, and it will take you to the list of all the other TOS crew members participating.

5 Days of Tips for Homeschooling Parents

Here are just a few of the bloggers that are joining in to give some great tips if you want a place to get started...

Friday, March 25, 2016

Five on Friday #1

Instead of a weekly wrap-up this week, I am going to focus on 5 things from the week since it was our spring break week, and we didn't do much.

1. Playing Sorry with Uncle Marc...

Uncle Marc stopped by for a visit on the way down to Springfield, and the boys had fun playing a game of Sorry with him. It still puzzles me why they love this game so much. I was so glad that I didn't have to play this time. Uncle M. had a fun time figuring out all the directions to this game.


2. Michele celebrated his 40th birthday this week!

His cake wasn't much. He just wanted German chocolate cake, so we made about 2/3 of it regular chocolate so the kids would have some that they liked too. We also went to Red Robin for dinner, and called it a night. Writing this out it seems like not much. Guess we should have done more for his big 4-0 birthday. Oh well!


3. We made pretzels this week, finally!...

I've had Auntie Annie's pretzel making kit for over a year. I was actually kind of worried that it would be too old, and wouldn't work, but it did! I was thrilled. I was also surprised at how fast and easy they were. Why did I wait so long? I don't know. They were delicious though.


4. We had a dentist visit and a Dr.'s visit...

We just love our kids dental office. It's such a fun place to be both for us who are waiting, and for the patient. The kids get to watch a movie during their visit, and I was appreciative of the dental assistant coming out and asking me if it was ok for my son to watch a PG13 movie that he had picked (he is under 13). Of course it was a no. I just was so grateful for that.


On our way into the Dr.'s office these ducks were just hanging out in the parking lot. They were pretty adorable, but seemed to be lost. We weren't sure what they were doing. When we came out they were gone.


Alex had to get 3 shots, he was so brave. He did NOT want to go to the Dr, but he is healthy and happy. I'm so thankful for healthy kids.


5. We have tried to keep up with the daily events of the Easter story this week...

Each day we read what happened to Jesus Christ on that day during the last week of his life, and we add a symbol of that day on our mantle. We have palm branches, a donkey, a temple, an oil lamp (his teachings in parables), sheep, and easter lillies (for fun). I love how much fun Easter can be.


Thursday, March 24, 2016

52 lists: week 11~daily essentials

I decided to make my "essentials" list into my daily essentials. Basically the things that I feel are essential to most of my days. All of this would happen on a perfect day. Every last one.
  • quiet time
  • learning
  • outdoors
  • reading
  • healthy food
  • routine
  • spontaneous adventures
  • prayer
  • scripture time
  • pondering time
  • laughter
  • family time
  • friend connections
  • reminders
  • phone and texting
  • emails
  • water
  • food
  • warmth (or cool depending on the season)
  • housekeeping
  • exercise
  • love

52 lists with Chasing Slow

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

weekly wrap-up: Pi day, St. Patrick's day, and Easter!

Life last week...

The week started out with Pi day. This was all I muster as far as food. We had Marie Calendar's Chicken pot-pie's. It wasn't even homemade, but it was good still. I also read Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi math adventure to the children, and April wore her "TGIPi day" shirt. I didn't get pics of those things, but wanted to record that we did actually have some other pi fun that day.



We've done a lot of listening lately. I decided I was in the Harry Potter mood, and the only way I'd get through them is to listen. Then I thought, maybe all the kids would enjoy listening to all the books. So, I found a copy on CD's at Silverton library. We decided to make the trek over there since I wanted to start with them right away. We are coming up on a lot of time in the car with April's Shakespeare rehearsal's starting up, so we need something to do in the car. While we were at the Silverton library the boys found a few new playaways that we hadn't seen before.  They picked up Curious George, and Danger in the Darkest Hour. They love having their own personal audio books. They traded the books back and forth several times.



School last week...

I started off the week right by having all of the kids' weekly lesson plans ready. I have decided to keep track of all the review stuff each child needs to be working that I needed to have a program that lays it all out for the week. I have gone back and forth with lessontrek all this school year. I used it, then I didn't, then I did, then I didn't, and now I'm back with it. But, something clicked this time, and now I really like it! It is so much easier to just get everything laid out for the week.



One of our reviews coming up is Times Tales. We've been trying to find some creative ways to memorize times tables. Both boys worked on some of those worksheets.


Aaron has some testing coming up that will require him to know the keyboard, so the teacher encouraged some typing practice at home. He suggested, and we gave it a try, even though we have 2 typing programs. It has been pretty fun for both the older boys. They have progressed pretty far in a short time.

 Preschool happenings...

Alex has a math book by Memoria Press called his Numbers Book. I happened upon it at Exodus books one day, and fell in love with it. I love its simplicity, and Alex loves working in it. He is about halfway through it already.


Here is a page he worked on last week. I was amazed at his ability to copy my letters to spell out the number words. He wanted to do this, which is even better. I even suggested that he skip this page for later, but he insisted. He worked very carefully on the whole thing. I was very impressed.


For co-op we had a Easter/St. Patrick's day theme since both holidays were coming up before we'd meet again. They made Shamrocks and sheep. They all turned out so cute. Alex loved his little sheep.

There is a story about this shamrock that is "to Aric from Ada". Ada is a little girl that goes to our co-op, and she is very afraid of my son Aric. Why is she afraid of Aric? Because he hisses at her. I've talked to him about it, but he just won't stop. So, Ada asks me every week, "why does Aric be mean to me?" I tell her that he is making bad choices, and that I've tried telling him, but he's not being very obedient. So, I asked her what she thought we could do to help him be nice to her. I really wish I could just make him stop, but he ultimately has to make that choice. Anyway, I suggested maybe she could show her love to him instead of being scared. She came up with the idea to make him a shamrock right then, and wrote I love you, and gave it to him. I could tell he really liked it, even though he wanted to be all "manly" about that mushy love stuff. I hope it helps him think twice about how he behaves with Ada. It was a really sweet thing from Ada too.

The whole flock of sheep from our class. They turned out so cute! I was thankful for my class helper who brought this craft.


I brought all the stuff for the shamrocks. We just had a fun time making these. And, used a lot of glitter glue!


Alex started a new typing, reading, and writing program this week. It's a review item, so I won't go into a lot of detail yet, but he loves this! I think this will really help him on his way to reading as well.

He has all  his fingers in the right place!

Easter fun...

We had a fun Saturday with Grandma and Grandpa at their church Easter egg hunt and pancake breakfast. The boys are waiting patiently to eat some grub before the hunt...


The junior primary got to search the big field, and the senior primary kids (8-12) had to look in the bushes around the building. Alex was just lovin' this.


The weather was so beautiful too!



ItLinking this up with weekly wrap-up at Home to 4 Kiddos.

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