“It’s in the mess that the real learning happens. Reaching the whole child or family requires that we position ourselves to see life not through our content or instructional expertise, but simply as a human being.”
We love messy play around here, and believe it is so very important for a child’s development. When we first came across Kinetic Sand, we were completely blown away by how much we thoroughly enjoyed playing with it. It looks like sand, feels like sand, IS sand, but unlike regular sand, Kinetic Sand is stretchy, and holds together!
Here are some of our favorite Kinetic Sand activities:
My youngest has been traveling to conventions with us over the past few months. Amid the different locations and changing venues, she has held tightly to one constant: on every trip she brings a classic children’s literature book. These books are her old friends: Little House in the Big Woods; Charlotte’s Web; Winnie-the-Pooh; Farmer Boy;…
Teaching a child to read can be an overwhelming task, because so much of education depends on reading. However, the better a child can read, the easier his schooling will be. Children will pick up reading quite naturally if raised in a language-rich environment where books are treasured and read aloud. Many people who grow up in such an environment cannot recall exactly how they learned to read, but they learned quickly!
So relax and take a look at Charlotte Mason’s gentle and natural approach to teaching your child to read.
Make a game of putting together the words in word families.
2. Use actual words and let the child say and make each one with its initial consonant added.
#3. Continue the process with other short-vowel three-letter words.
#4. Do not hurry your child.
#5. After he has mastered short-vowel three-letter words, teach the silent-e that makes a long vowel in the word in the same way.
#6. Continue the process with consonant combinations, like “ng” and “th.”
#7. These word games are not reading, but they will lay the foundation for future reading lessons.
#8. Encourage your child to pronounce correctly any word that he learns.
#9. Encourage him to shut his eyes and spell the word he has made, thus preparing him for future spelling lessons.
“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”
– Albert Einstein
You’ve got your tent pitched and your fire pit set up-you’re finally at home in the wilderness. But one of the best parts of being in nature is exploring it, and discovering the plants and animals that call your campsite home, sweet home. Keeping a field journal is a fun way to record what you see or hear while in the great outdoors. In it you can make drawings, describe in detail the plants and animals you come across, and collect leaves and flowers to press and tape right into your book. When you get home, you can gather more information at the library, local wildlife center, botanic garden, or online.
What you need:
Colored pencils or markers
Watercolor set with brushes (optional)
Envelopes for holding any leaf, flower, feather, or other natural treasures that you may find along the trail.
You may find a pair of binoculars to come in handy. They will help you scope out wildlife from a safe distance!
What You Do:
Before you begin, think about how you want to organize your journal. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Organize by environment. If you camp in areas that have different climates and types of plant and animal life-say the woods one weekend, the desert another- you might want to make sections in your journal for every kind of place you go!
Organize by topic. Have an animal section, a plant section, bug section, and rock section. Add new entries to each part according to what you see.
Organize by camping trip. Keep a running journal of your trips. Gather your information, make sketches, and record your thoughts by journey.
Keep two journals. Make one a free-forum for notes, sketches, and collages of leaves, bark, and feathers. Then keep a second, more polished book where you can categorize the random info from the other book.
Gather the Essentials
Before each entry, write down the date, time, name of your location, and other information that will provide the what, where, and when.
Date. Time of year can play a big part in what you see in the wild. In the autumn, many animals migrate and others are busy gathering food for the winter. Leaves begin to turn colors and fall. This season is great for watching foragers-animals that gather their food and hide it for safe-keeping-such as squirrels and chipmunks. In the spring, many animals search for mates, graze for food, and have babies. Trees begin to bud and flowers bloom. Spring is a great time to look and listen for songbirds. Winter is sort of quiet for some animals, but you’ll see lots of activity in the summertime.
Time of day. Most critters are more active at dawn and dusk (though some, like owls and snakes, are more lively at night). So if you want to spot these animals or insects, plan to get up early or stay up late. Some plants are more active at different times of day as well, like the morning glory,a flowering vine that usually blooms in the morning and closes during the day.
Notes on the environment. Are you exploring a pine forest? Wading in a brook? Sitting on a rock at the oceans edge? Describe where you are and what it looks, sounds, and smells like.
What’s the weather? Is it sunny, snowy, or somewhere in between?
A field journal can document more than just animals-it can include bugs and plant life, too. Here’s a general list of questions to ask yourself.
Describe the animal. What did it look like? What was its behavior? Did it make a sound? Where did you see it? Was it alone?
Did it leave behind any tracks? How many toes were on each foot? Are there claws? What is the shape and size of the toe pads and the heel? What kind of pattern do the tracks make as a group? Sketch the track(s) in your journal, then try to identify them.
Identify the animal. Is it a mammal, bird, reptile, or amphibian? When you get home, you may want to research the animal further. Leave space to write your findings. Some questions to consider: Does the male look any different from the female? What kind of home does it live in? What are its feeding habits? How does its body develop or change over its lifetime?
Carefully collect an insect (for observation only) and describe it. What color is it? Does it have wings? How many legs does it have? How many antennae? Any weird behavior?
Identify the insect. Leave room in your journal for answers to these questions (you may need to do some research). Where does the bug live? Does the male look different from the female? Is the insect part of a colony? What is its life cycle?
Choose a plant. Draw it, and if there are any leaves, flowers, branches, or bark on the ground nearby, paste them in. We love pressing the plants into our journals to make them last longer.
Describe the plant. What kind of leaves does it have? How tall is the plant or tree? What is its overall shape? Are there any flowers? If so, what do they look and feel like? What color and texture are the bark or stems? Where does the plant live? Is the soil wet, or dry, dirt or sand? Can you tell how the seeds move around?
Identify the plant. Using information you gathered, do some research at home to figure out what kind of plant it is. If you like, leave room in your journal to answer the following questions: What is the life cycle? Does the plant serve as food or shelter for any animal? Does the plant lose its leaves in the fall?
Keeping a field journal is a little like writing in a diary, except instead of writing about yourself, you write about what you observe all around you. It’s great fun, and provides a wonderful keepsake to remember your trips by! If you aren’t able to get outdoors much this summer, be sure to check out Nature Anatomy! It’s one of our favorite completed nature journals!
You’re in the backseat, on the way to the campsite, but the ride goes on and on and on. Mile after mile, the minutes drag. You twitch. You fidget. You ask, “How much longer?”, and still only five minutes pass. Well, fidget no more!! 🙂 These games will make even the longest car trips zip along. They are designed with everyone in mind. You can involve the whole car (though you might want to leave the driver alone), or just enlist your backseat pal. With some minor tweaks, you can even play the games on your own. Keep score if you want, and eliminate players or assign penalties. Set time limits, or check the odometer to use distance-a number of miles-to signal the end of a game.
The ABC Game:
Look for something that begins with he letter A. You can look at the scenery, or use signs, billboards, and even license plates. Once you get something with the letter A (such as automobile, antenna or apple tree) move on to B, and so forth-until you make your way through the alphabet. You can all play at the same time or take turns.
Going on a Safari:
In this game, a player starts with the letter A and says: “I’m going on a safari and I’m taking an…” The player says something that starts with the letter A (let’s say apple). The next player repeats the line with the first player’s objects and then adds one beginning with B. “I’m going on a safari and I’m taking an apple and a bench.” The third player then continues with the letter C, and so on! Anyone who makes a mistake or can’t come up with the name of a new object is out. The surviving player wins! (This is one of our favorites)! 🙂
This game is a bit harder. Players start with the letter A and then make up sentences that have a destination, a mode of transportation, and an activity that all begin with that letter. For example: “I’m going to Alabama on an alligator to anchor a boat.” The next player has B-“I’m going to Bavaria on a bus to buy a hat”-and it goes on from there! Tons of fun! 🙂
Those are just a few of the fun car games you can play! We’ll add more on our next post!! 🙂
After traveling to roughly 20 locations every Spring and Summer, we have been learning how to make the home-to-road-and-back-again transitions a little less stressful, and more relaxing/productive. It’s amazing what a difference a few simple changes can make! Here are our favorite bits and tips:
One of our biggest goals before leaving on a trip is to make sure there are clean sheets on the bed, fresh towels in the bathroom, and that all the clutter has been cleaned off/put away. That way, no matter what time of day or night we arrive back home, we don’t open the door to feeling overwhelmed, but come back to a calm and peaceful environment. It really does make a huge difference! 🙂
Before we go away, we try to always (even though it doesn’t always happen) to put some type of casserole in the freezer. It makes that first evening back a breeze, because all we have to do for dinner is pop it in the oven!
Having the time to unpack, do laundry, re-pack, grocery shop, and do the next trip’s food prep is really important. Since the shows are on the weekends, we normally don’t get home till Sunday night, which leaves little time to prep before work on Monday. All that being said, we try to choose at least one day, whether it be Monday or the day before we leave, to take off and get everything done. Otherwise, every evening is spent being stressed out trying to get everything done. An extra day makes a huge difference!
Before we leave, we try and write down things that need done when we get back. That way we don’t feel so overwhelmed with projects.
We put all the dirty clothes into a bag before heading home so unpacking (and starting the wash) is more manageable.
Even if we only have a 48 hour turn around time, it’s so important to us that we have time to simply relax, unplug and be together. Even if it’s only for 20 minutes, we love it! 🙂
Well, convention season is officially over for this year! It’s been a great 5 months, and have absolutely flown by! We’ve met a lot of incredible people, seen many beautiful places, shared our favorite products, and have learned a lot. We’re looking forward to this season again next year!
If you have any favorite travel hacks, we would love to hear them! 🙂
Traveling/convention season is one of our favorite things about the Spring and Summer. It’s a chance to see new things and meet incredible people! With that being said, it’s hard to believe that our time on the road is half way over. Last week’s show was MASSHOPE, and was held in Massachusetts. It was a fantastic conference, and we’re looking forward to going back next year! This weekend we’re in Arlington, Texas for the THSC homeschool convention. We just finished setting up, and are looking forward to another great weekend! If you’re planning on attending this year, stop by and say hello! 🙂