Category Archives: hands-on learning

One of Those Giddy Days

Homeschooling is like parenting, wait, it IS parenting.  But I kind of digress.  It is like parenting in that some days, you are slugging it out in the trenches and some days you are giddy with the honor of being the mama.

Today is a giddy day.

Nobody cut their own hair…ah hem.

Nobody broke a mirror…double ah hem.

Those things didn’t happen today.

Reading happened today.

Math happened today.

Phonics happened today.

Science happened today.

Grammar happened today.

Sue did a great job reading a Spot book to me.

Caitlyn neared the end of her phonics book.  You know, the one we started last week.  The one I thought would take us until the end of the year.  Yeah, that one.  I ordered the next one for her and for Sue.  They are digging phonics.  I am digging how it forces them to practice reading and proper handwriting.  It’s a win-win.

Caitlyn also finished reading me a Frog and Toad book.  You do remember Frog and Toad, right?  They seem to have a special magic that rocks a second graders world.  But that is her last book at that reading level.  Next she will be getting a level 3 (in the I Can Read series) book.  She just does too well for level 2.  It’s a waste of her talents.

Both girls worked hard in math.  Caitlyn got all of her place value questions correct.  I had them do their additional math problems on the computer.  Sue is just beginning to dabble in carrying the 1, Caitlyn is working on mastery.  It is harder on the computer.  I think they will welcome a worksheet during their next session.

We continued studying the solar system today.  They finished putting together their lap book

2014-01-15 16.10.16


And began researching the earth, stars and sun.  (Looks like there is more coloring to be done!)

But the beauty of today?  Grammar.  We worked on adjectives and writing sentences while decorating Gingerbread men.

2014-01-15 13.12.23 2014-01-15 13.19.58 2014-01-15 13.28.14 2014-01-15 13.28.36 2014-01-15 13.35.16 2014-01-15 13.38.50 2014-01-15 13.39.02 2014-01-15 13.47.45 2014-01-15 14.37.31


We had fun, and learned something too.  Isn’t, that what homeschooling is about?

*Caitlyn told me, “You just do everything better than school, don’t you?”  I don’t know about that, but today, we had fun!


There Are The Elite

There are those we see as the REAL bloggers, the REAL moms, the REAL homeschoolers.  I am not one of those.  I am not the elite, but I am pretty proud of myself right now.

Saturday we went apple picking.  While we were riding the wagon, Caitlyn leaned over and asked if we could study the digestive system and learn why her tummy rumbles.  Absolutely, so I set out to find ways to make it relevant and understandable.

First I headed to youtube and found some videos to intro the thought.  I started with a fun Winnie the Pooh video singing about the rumbly in his tumbly, here’s a pin for it, then used a quick intro from the Arizona Science Center.  We then headed to Wonderopolis for an overview of why the stomach growls.

But what kind of homeschooler would I be if there wasn’t a hands-on experiment?  For that, I headed to Teachers Pay Teachers and found a messy, but fun hands-on.

I dyed noodles black last night with this recipe, again from Pinterest.  It was as messy as you might imagine.  I don’t know how to use black food coloring without making a mess of myself.

I bought some bananas and drug out my blender.  And we were off.

First we needed to eat our food, so we broke the banana in pieces put it in the blender.

2013-09-23 10.24.34

Supplies are one banana, a section of silk stocking or nylon.  Has to be open at both ends, bowl and noodles dyed black.  I started with the blender, but with just one banana, it was not very effective, so I ended up just mashing it myself.

2013-09-23 10.25.54

We broke it into pieces to represent biting up the food.

2013-09-23 10.25.56


2013-09-23 10.27.55

Smash it up to represent chewing.

2013-09-23 10.34.05 2013-09-23 10.34.18-1

Put a couple black noodles in the section of nylon.  Hold it closed, put in some banana.  Mash it up and wring out fluids in the nylon to show the action of the intestine, then push it out the bottom, you know, show the “end product”.
2013-09-23 10.34.24 2013-09-23 10.34.52 2013-09-23 10.36.03

We then referred back to our homeschool curriculum, Easy Peasy, to add our intestines to our bodies.

2013-09-23 10.44.31

And of course, since the blender was out, we had to have smoothies.

2013-09-23 12.03.53

Pretty, Pretty Fun

Friday, I talked about my first sensory box.  I find them fun.  My hubby finds them pointless and messy.  Ah well.  If I’m willing to take on the mess…

We already dove into a second one.  We redid this colored rice pin I originally found on Pinterest.  The girls and I made it a year ago.  We still have our original jars of colored fun.  Today we upped the ante by making 9 cups of colored rice for another sensory box.

It is very easy.  Eight to nine cups of uncooked rice.  Mix 2 tablespoons of vinegar with the correct amount of food coloring to make the desired shade of color.  Put one cup of rice in a sandwich bag, pour in the food color mixture, seal  bag.  Mash the color around until it coats all of the rice.  Repeat process until all of the rice is colored.

2013-09-20 10.21.42 2013-09-20 10.22.32 2013-09-20 10.22.48 2013-09-20 10.24.10 2013-09-20 10.30.11


The colored rice needs to be laid out in a medium layer so it can dry.

2013-09-20 10.41.01 2013-09-20 10.41.04 2013-09-20 10.41.10 2013-09-20 17.46.31


Once it is dry, it took about 5 hours for this batch, it can become a fun colorful, textural sensation.2013-09-20 17.46.33 2013-09-20 17.46.57

Diving In With All Our Senses

Caitlyn and Sue have a pretty set program with our homeschooling curriculum.  Well, let me back up…Caitlyn has a set program.  We are adjusting Sue’s to meet her and our needs.  We are spending lot of time with hands-on activities.  Next week we are going to start working on reading about unicorns.  I think that will grab her attention and help with the reading.

All that to say, I have a plan with them.  Patrice is a little bit of a different story.  I set her up each day with listening to her Bible memory verses and a preschool program, but that only lasts so long.  The other day I realized she was spending all of our school time, on-line.  I am monitoring what it is, so I know the content is good, but she’s 3.  She does not need a lot of screen time.

Yesterday we did some coloring worksheets, but did I mention she is three?  That didn’t keep her engaged for long.

I’ve been seeing a lot on Pinterest, oh my lovely friend, about sensory boxes.  So I am trying my hand on them.  We bought three plastic boxes on clearance and I started looking.

Awhile back the older girls and I dyed rice.  It was a hit and easier than it sounds.  The jars of it we made are still on the back of the stove and the girls refuse to give them up.  But talk about a great sensory activity for Patrice, so later today we are going to dye more, just for her.

But in the meantime, I couldn’t sleep this morning, so I started looking on Pinterest…again. And I found a sensory bin using epsom salt and other items I actually had on hand. Go here for the full instructions.

My Epsom salt was hard as rock, but with a little convincing it became the base of our bin.  Patrice woke up while I was putting it together and got in on the fun.

We used a 3 pound box of Epsom Salt, a liberal helping of pink glitter, some florist rocks I bought earlier this week and left over gems we had from their birthday party craft.

Patrice didn’t stay interested but I bet her sisters will like them and that will get her checking it out again.

2013-09-20 07.15.31 2013-09-20 07.15.32 2013-09-20 07.17.33 2013-09-20 07.17.39 2013-09-20 07.18.46