Friday, February 28, 2014

Hands down, the best place for homeschoolers to "shop"

Drum roll, please...

And the best place for homeschooler to "shop" is...

A place with the world's greatest return policy...

A place where someone is eager to help if you need it...

A place where your entire family is welcome...

A place where...


I've kept you waiting long enough...

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The best place to learn about caves is...

... Well, inside a cave, of course!

My original plan was to visit the famous Luray Caverns during a trip through the picturesque Shenandoah Valley, but discovered another nearby option through an Internet search: Grand Caverns.

We left our hotel with a plan to arrive around when the attraction opened at 10am (9am during the summer months) and I'm glad we did. The "Grand Caverns" are located inside a state park, and I wish we had planned even more time to explore the park's trails and, if it had been summer, I would have enjoyed the bargain-priced public outdoor pool ($4 per person 3 and up).

The tour begins up a hill inside a small museum (dated, not flashy, but my crew of boys enjoyed it) then a knowledgable guide gathers any tour guests on the hour. Courtesy jackets were available for anyone who forgot one because it is a chilly 54 degrees under ground!

Our guided journey, just over an hour in length, went far beyond the "this is a stalactite" and "this is a stalagmite" speech that I was expecting. Our guide was perfect, but the caverns themselves are absolutely captivating.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

"Mommy I want to do cutting" Scissors Skills for the Little Ones

A focus for the early years is building fine motor skills, and for A3, using scissors is his favorite way to practice! 

Sometimes I will draw a simple shape on cosntruction paper for him to cut out, or he will cut strips of paper to weave or make into a garland. He'll also make confetti-like pieces to glue on art work instead of coloring or painting. But, by far, these Kumon Workbooks are the easiest way to go! 

This one, Kumon Let's Cut Paper! Food Fun, is his second cutting workbook. Some pages become puzzles, or interactive games (like the pan full of popcorn to open and close) and others get taped together to reveal a larger picture. "Daddy, I made you a hot dog!" 

I keep the workbook in a gallon-sized bag with his safety scissors and tape, so it's roadtrip-ready.

 This can also be an easy, low-mess activity for a waiting room or restaurant table. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Another homeschool perk... Snow days!

There are so many perks of homeschooling, aren't there?

Here's an example of one little perk...

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Faberge egg craft

When I first started pulling together Russia-inspired craft ideas for our Olympics unit study, I initially thought we could do something related to Matryoshka dolls. Then I decided that was way to ambitious!

Faberge eggs came to mind next, and a quick Google search revealed an all-inclusive kit perfect for our study: Art In History's Faberge-style Egg kit. Woohoo! I usually would attempt to create these activities from scratch, but sometimes it's best not to reinvent the wheel and I chose the easy way! The kit came with all two of each paint, a brush and sponge, the plaster egg and full instructions online.

The downloadable 13-page lesson plan also included a history of Nicholas II, the geography of the Russian Revolution, a history Faberge and the love story behind the particular egg we would attempt to recreate, the Rosebud Egg.

My two official homeschool students completed the art activity with great care, and A3 did it in his own way!

The first day we used sponges to paint the egg red. Here's A3's egg...

The paint dries quickly enough to complete in one session, but sledding and snowball fights were calling my boys outside!

The second day we added the gold band and painted the base gold...

Then added the details...

I ordered three other history-infused art projects from the website, and I'll share those another day! I'm not an affiliate of Art In History; I just enjoyed their product and thought you might, too!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Homeschool days from Virginia to Tennessee to Florida

So many attractions offer discounts and educational activities on special homeschool days. I try to take advantage of as many of these days as I can! 

Here are some homeschool field trip ideas for 2014:

Thursday 2/27 

Nauticus, Battleship Wisconsin & Hampton Roads Naval Museum Homeschool Day

Norfolk, Virginia

Thursday 2/27 

Orlando area, Florida

Friday, February 14, 2014

What about math?

Four years ago when we began homeschooling I wasn't sure of which math program to choose. My kids hated math, probably because they were so far behind. So, I made this declaration to my newly-adopted pre-teen sons:

"For the first month we won't touch a single math textbook."

During our first month we focused on finding our spot, exploring different homeschool options and showing our kids that school can be fun. 

As far as math was concerned, here are some of the things we tried that went well:

We read "living math" books, like The Adventures of  Penrose the Mathematical Cat

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Easy Olympic craft from toilet paper tubes

Easy and fun!

Our three-year-old did this, and the teens!

Simply dip 5 different toilet paper rolls in poster paints...

And make an Olympic flag!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Olympic art, to eat and to display

My favorite arts and crafts projects are the kind you can eat! We created Olympix flag cookies, adapted from a suggested activity in the Amanda Bennett Winter Olympics unit study.

Please don't judge our artistic abilities! ;) I never try to impress anyone on Pinterest with our art; we simply use art for fun and learning.

Today we started

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Our trip to Sochi, I mean, Atlanta

Going to Sochi wasn't a possibility for us, and honestly not something I want to tackle with a newborn and a 3-year-old! However, we did visit a past Olympics host City: Atlanta, Georgia.

If you want a taste of the Olympics beyond keeping your television set to NBC, I have several ideas to share!

In 1996, Atlanta hosted the summer games, and there are two excellent Olympics attractions remaining: Centennial Olympic Park and the Atlanta History Center's Centennial Olympics Games Museum.