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Stocking Stuffer Fun!

Stockings! It’s one of our favorite Christmas traditions. There is just something about opening a gift full of wonderful little surprises. Here are a few of our favorite stocking stuffers! 🙂

#1. Mini Tins of Thinking Putty

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We LOVE thinking putty. Especially since it has a new scented evergreen edition.

#2. Glow Mars Mud

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Once you start playing with this, you won’t stop! 🙂

#3. Incrediblefoam

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With open-ended and sensory play in mind, Incrediblefoam is one of our favorites!

#4. Magnetic Slime Ooze

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Mix up a batch of slime that reacts to a magnet!

#5. Cosmic Spinner Tops

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Tops! We have literally played with these for hours on end. 

#6. Touchable Bubbles

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Bubbles that you can actually touch without popping!

#7. Wooden Animal Slingshot 

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Slingshots and giant marshmallows. It’s a blast!

#8. Wildlife BB Pocket Puzzle

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Patience is required, but still so much fun!

#9. Skwooshi

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One of the most addicting things we have ever play with. Literally. 🙂

#10. Original Metal Slinky

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If you have stairs…this is a must!

#11. Gyroscope 

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A classic toy that has been a family favorite for years!

#12. Old Fashioned Diving Sub

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Just add a little baking powder, and watch the diving sub in action!

#13. Tornado Tube

 

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If you’ve never seen the Tornado Tube® in action you may not realize how dramatic it can be!!

#14. Flip Birds

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A highly addictive game of dexterity and skill. A flick of the finger will send each Flippin’ Bird towards the cup!

#15. Jetfire Glider Twin Pack

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The original Guillow’s Balsa Wood Planes from more than half a century ago. Two Gliders are included that soar up to 25 feet. 12″ wingspan!

#16. Magic Rocks

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Would you like to grow some rocks? Fill a clear glass container, such as a wide-mouthed jar, with the special solution, and add the colored pellets to it!

#17. Spiky Light-up Ball

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Turn off all the lights, and start a fun tossing game. So many memories were made by playing with these!

#18. Guatemalan Kick Bag 

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Hand crocheted in Guatemala, these are made to last!

#19. Astronaut Ice Cream and Fruit

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Enjoy your ice cream just as Astronauts do–the freeze-dried way! There is also cinnamon apples, grapes, peaches, strawberries, and bananas!

#20. Rattleback

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A science curiosity whose ancient and mysterious properties capture the attention of all ages. Rattleback will spin in one direction but when spun in the wrong direction, it will quickly stop, rattle up and down, and then begin to spin in the opposite direction. It also magnifies and is sure to entertain for hours! 

 

 

 

 

 

How Fiction Helps Children Grow!

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;…

via How Fiction Helps Children Grow — Simply Charlotte Mason

The Power Of Outdoor Free Play

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Unfortunately, the amount of time that children spend engaged in unstructured, child-directed outdoor play has diminished significantly in the past generation. Schools have opted out of recess and play time in favor of a more structured academic period. As many years of research has shown, that it causing more harm than good. Here are some of the amazing benefits that come with outdoor free play!

 

Cognitive Health

 

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Playing outdoors gives children the opportunity to make decisions and problem solve, it provides an environment for creative thinking, and makes children use a higher level of sequence, planning, and organizing.

 

Physical Health

 

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Outdoor play provides more opportunity for movement which in turn greatly decreases the likelihood of developing of developing obesity and disease. It also magnifies the use of fine and gross motor skills!

Mental health

 

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Overall, children who are active outdoors have much better moods, have a decrease in hyperactivity, and are less likely to have symptoms related to anxiety and depression.

Emotional Health

 

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The development in empathy, an increase in self-esteem, and the development of emotional intelligence is all part of getting outdoors to play! 🙂

Social Skills

 

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Research has also shown that playing outdoors provides increased social interactions, higher levels of sharing, cooperating, and helping!

Play Skills

 

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Play skills help develop creativity, and provide endless opportunities for imagination and engagement! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Charlotte Mason’s Approach to Beginning Reading

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.

  1. Make a game of putting together the words in word families.
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“Exercises treated as a game, which yet to teach the powers of letters, will be better to begin with than actual sentences. Take up two of his letters and make the syllable ‘at’: tell him it is the word we use when we say ‘at home,’ ‘at school,’ etc. ” (Vol. 1 p. 202)

 

2. Use actual words and let the child say and make each one with its initial consonant added.

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“First, let the child say what the word becomes with each initial consonant; then let him add the right consonant to ‘at,’ in order to make hat, pat, cat, etc. Let the syllables all be actual words which he knows. Set the words in a row, and let him read them off.” (Vol. 1, p. 202)

 

#3. Continue the process with other short-vowel three-letter words.

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“Do this with the short vowel sounds in each combination with each of the consonants, and the child will learn to read off dozens of words of three letters, and will master the short-vowel sounds with initial and final consonants without effort. Before long he will do the lesson for himself. ‘How many words can you make with “en” and another letter, with “od” and another letter?’ etc.” (Vol. 1 p. 202).

 

#4. Do not hurry your child.

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(Vol. 1, p. 202)

 

#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.

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“When this sort of exercies becomes so easy that it is no longer interesting, let the long sounds of the vowels be learned in the same way: use the same syllables as before with a final e; thus ‘at’ becomes ‘ate’, and we get late, pate, rate, etc.  (Vol. 1, pp. 202, 203).

 

#6. Continue the process with consonant combinations, like “ng” and “th.”

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“Then the same sort of thing with final ‘ng’-‘ing,’ ‘ang,’ ‘ong,’ ‘ung’;  as in ring, fang, long, sung, etc.  There will be endless combinations which will suggest themselves” (Vol. 1, p 203).

 

#7. These word games are not reading, but they will lay the foundation for future reading lessons.

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“This is not reading, but it is preparing the ground for reading; words will be no longer unfamiliar, perplexing objects, when the child meets with them in a line of print” (Vol. 1, p. 203).

 

#8. Encourage your child to pronounce correctly any word that he learns.

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“Require him to pronounce the words he makes with such finish and distinctness that he can himself hear and count the sounds in a given word” (Vol. 1, p. 203).

 

#9. Encourage him to shut his eyes and spell the word he has made, thus preparing him for future spelling lessons.

 

 

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“Accustom him from the start to shut his eyes and spell the word he has made. This is important. Reading is not spelling, nor is it necessary to spell in order to read well; but the good speller is the child whose eye is quick enough to take in the letters which compose it, in the act of reading off a word; and this is a habit to be acquired from the first: accustom him to see the letters in the word, and he will do so without effort.”

 

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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! 🙂

 

 

An Indiana Summer-Part 2

Last week we shared a few of our favorite places to go during the summer. This week we’re sharing our favorite events! All of the following events haven’t happened yet, so there is still plenty of time to plan! 🙂

 

#1. Hendricks County Fair

 

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The fair is a highlight of our July! From the animal showings to the tractor pulls and yummy food-it’s such a fun week! The Hendrick’s County Fair runs from July 16-22 this year! 🙂

 

 

#2. Festival of the Lakes

 

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From carnival rides to boat rides and games… the Festival of the lakes offers a wide variety of family fun. It runs from July 19-23 this year!

 

 

#3. Frankfort Hot Dog Festival

 

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Downtown square. Frankly the BEST HOT DOGS in the WORLD! Great American Dog Competition, exciting sporting events the entire family will love, Disc Dog Competition, Lots or arts and vendors. FREE entertainment both days. Runs July 28-29.

 

 

#4. Indiana Family Star Party At Camp Cullom

 

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Camp Cullom. Indiana’s largest star party. Astronomy, camping, food, speakers, kid’s sky trekker program, telescopes, and so much more! 🙂 Runs July 28-29!

 

 

#5. Amish Acres Arts and Crafts Festival

 

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Amish Acres. 300+ vendors demonstrate their trade and sell their wares. Family style Thresher’s dinner in the century old barn and guided tours of the historic house and farms! Runs August 3-6.

 

 

If you have a favorite local event, be sure to let us know! We love exploring new places! 🙂