Hello New School Year!

It’s back to homeschool around here, and we couldn’t be more excited to begin a brand new season filled with brand new goals. Our goals may seem small, but we found that they make such a huge difference in our homeschool days! Here are three of our daily “musts” for this school semester…

 

  1. Getting up an hour (okay, 20 minutes) before the littles.

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Having an hour to drink some coffee (while it’s still hot), get some laundry done, and breakfast prepped, is so important for us. It sets the tone for the rest of the day, and we don’t feel rushed and behind when the kids wake up.

 

2. Get outdoors more!

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Even if we just go to the backyard for 10 minutes with a magnifying glass, it makes such a huge difference in our day. The fresh air, sunshine, and quietness are so good for our souls! Shop our favorite nature journals here!

“Children learn as they play. Most importantly, in play children learn how to learn.”

 

3. Free time play!

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Giving our littles time to think and explore on their own is when real growth, discovery, and learning takes place!

“Play is the only way the highest intelligence of humankind can unfold.” -Joseph Chilton Pearce

 

Do you have any “musts” for your school days? 🙂

Benefits of Outdoor Play for Kids

Free play is beneficial to all kids, but nature-based play is even better because it allows children to develop a range of science, math, and engineering skills.

As we move into spring and the days become warmer and longer, it’s only natural to want to get outside and enjoy the fresh air. What better time to take the kids and head to a local park as spring unfolds around us? Children are spending half the amount of time outdoors as children did in the ’70s and ’80s. Their free time has declined dramatically over the last 20 years and the amount of unstructured activity has decreased by 50 percent.

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Our Favorite Games for Littles!

“By playing games you can speed up your learning curve to help develop the right kind of thought processes.”

-Nate Silver

 

#1. Spot it!

 

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Spot it! is the addictive, feverishly fun matching game for every generation. The first thing to know about Spot it! is that there is always one, and only one, matching symbol between any two cards. Got it? Now all you need is a sharp eye and a quick hand to play all five party games packed into the grab ‘n’ go tin. Including up to eight players, Spot it! is a cinch to learn, plays fast, and is irresistibly fun for all ages!

 

#2. Rock Paper Scissors The Card Game

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Here’s the fast & fun CARD VERSION of the game kids have played for generations. Each player lays down a card. If your card beats your opponent’s card, you take it. When all cards have been played, the player who has collected the most cards wins the game!! 2 players, ages 4 and up!

#3. Keekee The Rocking Monkey

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Works on Balance notions • Dexterity fine motors • Weight notions • An adorable all wooden balancing game for 1 to 4 players, ages 3 and up. 

#4. Gobblet Gobblers

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Like tic-tac-toe, line up 3 of your Gobblers in a row to win! • Players can gobble up their opponent’s pieces to take their place. • Gobblet tests critical thinking while training memory skills and spatial awareness. • All wooden strategy game for 2 players, ages 5 & up.

#5. Ring It!

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Race to ring the bell first when a winning combination is shown on the table! • This fast pace game will be filled with chaos and laughter • Includes: 90 cards, a bell, and illustrated rules • For 2-9 Players, ages 5 & Up

#6. Pengoloo

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This is one of our favorites!! Works on Memoery skills • Color Recognition • up to 4 players • Go on a South Pole Egg-spedition with this all wooden memory game for 2 to 4 players, ages 4 and up. • Roll two colored dice and lift two penguins to search for colored eggs that match the dice. Collect six penguins on your iceberg to win! • Strengthens color recognition, visualization, memory and social skills. 

#7. Sequence for Kids

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Play a card from your hand, place your chip on a corresponding character on the board. When you have 4 in a row, it’s a SEQUENCE and you win! Use a wild card to place your chip anywhere. Remove your opponent’s chip with a DRAGON card. Have fun with your friends playing SEQUENCE® For Kids™! Includes: folding game board, 42 playing cards, 21 red playing chips, 21 yellow playing chips, 21 green playing chips, 21 blue playing chips, and instructions. 2 to 4 players. Ages 3-6.

#8. Shape Your Story

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A game that brings a twist to oral storytelling. Use the 3 shapes (Circle, Triangle & Square) to draw objects/characters. Let your imagination take a flight and make thousands of stories with drawings. Roll the number and the shape dice to pick your shape cards. Draw different objects with the shapes. Use the objects that you have drawn to tell a story. Play a game of telling stories by yourself, time your story and challenge another player or draw and create stories together in a game of cooperative story telling!

#9. Bananagrams Game

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The Bananagrams anagram game will drive you and your friends bananas! It requires no pencil, paper or board and provides educational family fun!

#10. Ticket To Ride-First Journey

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Start your trip across Europe with ticket to ride: first journey (Europe)! ticket to ride: first journey takes the gameplay of the ticket to ride series and scales it for a younger audience. During the game, players will collect train cards, claim routes on the map of Europe, and try to connect the cities shown on their tickets. The first player to complete six tickets wins! with the same gameplay as the first ticket to ride: first journey game, but now featuring a map of Europe, this game is perfect for any young conductors!

 

 

 

 

 

Nature Sensory Activities

Being outdoors has incredible benefits, and with spring being just a few months away, we’re compiling some of our favorite sensory activities for littles!

#1. Mud Pie Kitchen

 

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Some of our favorite memories were those of making mud “food”. We would mold the mud into whatever our imaginations created and then would paint the creations once they dried. 

 

 

#2. Creek Wading

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#3. Pine Cone Sorting

 

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Our little guy loves to gather all the different pinecones and sort them according to size. 

 

 

#4. Leaf Threading

 

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A thin stick will work just as well for threading leaves together. This is another one of our favorites!

 

 

#5. Stone Sorting

 

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Grab a little bucket, and let them start a collection!

 

 

#6. Lots of Grass

 

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Playing in the grass is one of the best sensory things to do with littles!

 

 

#7.  Tree Bark Rubbing/Art

 

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Take a large piece of paper and hold it (or tape it) on the tree. Then take some chalk and gently rub the paper over the bark! The results are beautiful! 

 

 

#8. Barefoot Sensory Walk

 

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You can walk on grass, small pebbles, sand, mud, and so much more!

 

 

#9. Water Play

 

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Playing with water can inspire so much imagination! 

 

 

#10. Chalk

 

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If you have a smooth surface and some chalk, the possibilities are endless! 

 

 

Goodbye Busy, Hello Memories!

I forget how easy it is to let busyness control me. Especially this time of year. Keeping up with work, cleaning, laundry, cooking, gift buying and wrapping, parties and activities, is no easy task!

However, when I look back at the week I don’t remember all the dishes I cleaned, laundry I folded, and messes I cleaned up. I reading to our little boy, and how happy that made him. I remember building block towers, and hearing him break out in a contagious laughter while knocking it down (the best sound ever). I remember hearing our baby girl giggle out loud for the first time, and how that melted my heart. I remember watching her watch her brother as if he was the most amazing thing in the world (which, he is!). I’m looking forward to saying goodbye to busy this weekend, and hello to more beautiful memories!

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Do you have a favorite activity you like to do with your littles? We would love to hear about it!

Old Trees, New Life- Camping Activity

When a tree falls, its life is over. But the tree can still give life to others. The dead tree becomes its own ecosystem, where plants, insects, and microorganisms thrive-from the mosses, ferns, and fungi that make the rotting tree their home to a whole host of bugs and bacteria that eat the tree and break it down into soil for new plants! Next time you see a dead log, take a close look and record your observations in your Field Journal. You just might be amazed by what you see.

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What You Do

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#1. Find a rotting log: Look for a tree that has fallen and that has wood breaking apart in pieces. It may be slightly damp.

 

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#2. Describe what the log looks like. What is growing on it? Can you see any mushrooms, ferns, mosses, or lichens? Are there baby trees or any other plants sprouting out of the wood?

 

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#3. Do you see any insects? What are they doing? Look for tiny piles of sawdust at the base of the log. This is evidence that insects have drilled into the wood, starting the decomposition process. The holes left behind create highways for fungi and bacteria to come in and break down the wood even further.

 

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#4.  Tap the log with your fingers. Is it hollow? Wet? Bone-dry? What does it smell like?

 

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#5. Put on your gloves and gently and carefully lift the log a few inches to see if you can take a peek underneath. What do you see? Are there insects underneath? What are they doing? What do they look like? When you’re done, put the log back.

 

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#6.  Use your magnifying glass to peek at the log itself. Do you see insects breaking it down? What do they look like under the magnifying glass? What about the plants growing on the tree? What do the mushrooms look like up close?

 

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#7. Draw and describe what you’ve seen in your field journal. Try to identify plants, animals, and insects by looking at your field guide or Nature Anatomy book! 

 

There is so much to learn! Head outdoors and explore! 🙂

 

 

Road Trips and Conventions!

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! 🙂

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Camping 101

Campcraft- “While camping you are at the mercy of natural forces, and your activities will be dominated by the times of sunrise and sunset, changes in the weather, the lie of the land, the nearest water and supply of fuel. Your comfort will depend on your skills in choosing a suitable site, erecting a shelter, building a fire and establishing a smooth routine. When you leave there should be no trace of your stay.”

There are very few perfect campsites, so when choosing a site you will probably have to compromise to some extent. Obviously your priorities will vary depending on how long you are going to stay there, and how large your camp will be, but it is a good idea to have some general principles in mind during the selection process so that you know what to look out for! 🙂

 

 

When to look for your campsiteIf your campsite is to be an overnight stop on the trail you should start to look for a suitable place at least two to three hours before it gets dark. By that time you will need to have settled in and pitched your tents and your food preparations should be well under way. Be prepared to stop short of your intended destination for that day if you find a spot that looks ideal. You may even want to backtrack a little if you do go on but the terrain ahead fails to offer further viable sites.

what to look for

Try to avoid extreme conditions of any kind. In hot countries you will find it a great advantage to have some natural shade on your campsites. In colder areas your priority is likely to be natural shelter from wind. Always try to find a site that is well drained; this usually means looking for a reasonably high site. Not only will you avoid marshy, damp ground, but you will also not find yourself in a pocket of cold air during the night. If it is windy, you will need space to pitch your tents with doors facing away from the wind.

It will be an advantage if the site has it’s own water supply but you should always check to see where the water comes from. Just because local people drink it, it does not mean that it is safe for you to drink. Unless you have a good evidence to the contrary, you should always regard water as contaminated and treat it accordingly. Don’t be tempted to camp too near a water source, such as a stream, as it may attract clouds of biting insects in the evening, and may be a place where animals come to drink.

camp layout

The layout of your camp will be dictated by the site you have chosen, the climate conditions, the size of the camp and personal preferences. There are, however, some golden rules to follow for the sake of the safety and well-being of the campers! 🙂

Positioning Tents: Try to pitch tents with their back into the prevailing wind. If possible, use either a belt of trees or bushes to form a natural windbreak. If hot weather conditions make shade important then choose a place under some trees, but remember that falling twigs and branches will be likely. Make sure your sleeping area is well away from the cooking area and toilet area, and upwind of them if there is prevailing wind. 😉

Toilets: if there are no permanent toilets on the site,construct a toilet downwind of the tents and away from sleeping and cooking areas, with natural screening or  bivvy bag or groundsheet for privacy. You can dig a hole in the ground with a trowel or knife for solid waste, covering it with soil after use and burning toilet paper.

Washing Areas: If you are going to have an area dedicated to washing clothes, keep this area away from cooking and sleeping areas. Site any clothes lines well away from where people will be walking, especially at night.

Where To Site A Fire: If you are going to have a fire, light it well away from the tents, as sparks can fly out and burn holes in the material. Also make sure it is a downwind of the tents, on a flat area well away from trees and bushes.

Kitchen: Site the food preparation area some distance from where you will be sleeping, so that if an animal is attracted by the smells of food during the night, you will not be disturbed. Also, any flies attracted to your cooking will be well away from your sleeping area. If you can, have an extra tent near the cooking area for the storage of food. Do not keep food inside a tent where anyone is sleeping.

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Lastly: Have FUN!!! There is no other activity that we have done that creates so many lasting memories! 🙂

 

 

Empowering Young People to Reach Their Full Potential

Whether you’re homeschooling your children, or are simply looking for extracurricular activities, 4-H is a wonderful option! 4-H prepares young people to be leaders in their community and around the world through hands-on experiences alongside their peers and caring adults. Children can learn about farming, wood-working, archery, photography, art, science, sewing, insect collecting, animals, cooking/canning, and so much more! The possibilities of what they can learn and accomplish are endless.

About 4-H

 4-H began over 100 years ago, and has since grown into the largest youth development program in the nation. Backed by a network of more than 6 million youth, 540,000 adult volunteers, 3,500 professionals, and more than 60 million alumni; 4-H delivers research-based programming around positive youth development. 4-H is delivered through America’s 109 land-grant universities and the Cooperative Extension Service—reaching every corner of our nation. In Indiana, 4-H can be found in all 92 counties as delivered through Purdue Extension. Community clubs, after-school programs, school enrichment, camps/workshops, and special programs are all ways youth across Indiana can be involved with the 4-H program.

Indiana 4-H Mission: 

The Indiana 4-H Youth Development mission is to provide real-life educational opportunities that develop young people who will have a positive impact in their communities and the world.

Indiana 4-H Vision: 

Indiana 4-H Youth Development strives to be the premier, community-based program empowering young people to reach their full potential.

 

Projects

Members have the opportunity to learn more about a subject matter that they choose to study through completing hands on activities. We refer to these as projects. In order to enroll in a project, members must sign up for them at the time of enrolling in 4-H. Each project has a manual that guides the youth through the learning process as well as a set of guidelines that helps them meet the project requirements. We provide adult volunteers and staff who are knowledgeable on that particular subject who will often times provide workshops to allow the youth to learn about that topic in a social environment. Each project has a beginner, intermediate, and advanced level-this allows youth to build on their knowledge each year and continue to challenge their skills. Projects are meant to be worked on over time, providing an educational opportunity for youth outside of the classroom setting. Often times, youth will exhibit and display their project at a local county fair in order to show the community what they have learned.

As you complete your projects use 4-H-620-W “My Record of 4-H Achievement” to keep detailed records of your exhibits. Click here for a Microsoft Word version of the “My Record of 4-H Achievement.”

There is no limit to the number of projects youth can sign up for, however, we suggest starting out with one or two your first year. If you know what project(s) you are looking for, simply find it listed under a specific category listed below.

Join 4-H

Want to get involved? Contact your local County Extension Office to find out what clubs meet in your area. Click here to enroll in 4HOnline as a 4-H club member!

 

 

Here are a few of our favorite 4-H activity products!

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Insect Collecting Kit

 

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Weather Forecasting

 

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Air-stream Machines
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The Woodland Homestead
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Guide to Raising Chickens
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Garden activities