Archives for April 2012

A Nature Drive


Bald Eagle

“Mom do you remember when you pulled over and ….” Which begins our discussions on the nature drives we have stopped to observe.

This eagle fascinated us when we found him eating his noon meal on the side of the road. He did not seemed bothered by us watching or photographing him. It was the first one we had saw living in the wild.

Most of our observations of nature happen when we are driving down a country road and we come upon some magnificence finds. I bring the car to screeching halt, often putting the car in reverse so the kids can observe.

Sometimes we get out of the car, sometime we just roll the windows down, but most important we stop and watch.

In this day of technology my kids come prepared with iPods, iPads or phones that can take photos.  When we return home the internet answers most of our questions on what we saw.

Often we have to stop for a herd of turkeys that live near by. My boys wonder if they will hide more when it gets closer to Thanksgiving.

Yes, even rainbows and storm clouds have caused me to pull over for photos. My oldest son is always watching the clouds in the sky, he predicts the weather that way.

Nature Drive Observations:

“Mom do you remember when you killed that 6 foot snake?” I laugh and reply, “Gee, I don’t think the 1 ton van I drive was a fair match for the snake.”  But I stopped the van and the boys watched the snake for a long time.

“Mom do you remember when you pulled over to watch the bald eagle eat the rabbit?”

“Mom do you remember when you pulled over and helped the baby turtles get across the road?”

I need a bumper sticker that says, “I pull over for wild life”

Do you stop your car when you see something interesting in nature?



Creative Writing Using Apps for Visual Prompts


Writing Prompts

Creative writing can sometimes be a struggle for students who can not visual a setting. I found my son could describe things better when he actually could see them.

I have been working on incorporating Apps into our homeschool. This week I purchased the Felt Board App by Software Smoothie.  Yes this app is designed for younger students but using it for creative writing as allowed me to expand the grade level of use. Check out the web site for examples of using it to create scenes of items that start with certain letters.

Creative Writing with Felt Board App:

I just loved making scenes that look like a felt board! I then handed it over to my son so he could create his own picture. Within minutes he was making choices on how his scene should look. It was easy for him to navigate the many choices provided.

Once the scene was completed, I propped up the iPad on the table and my son began brain storming about his pirate story.

Having the visual aid really helped to keep my son focused on what details needed to be included in his story. I could then ask him to describe how his pirate looked or where the pirate was standing on the boat. These prompts helped him write better descriptive sentences.

Having the scene for him to see helped to keep him from writing about something else. No need to write about the space scene when the topic sentence is about pirates.

He still has a final draft to go, but he is already talking about the sequel!

Since the App has a photo option we can take a picture of the scene and add it into his typed story.  I see a book in the making!

Even after this creative writing assignment was done, my son would create new scenes and orally told me stories.

You can even get it for android.

Fingerprint Activity


Fingerprint Activity

Using a fingerprint activity to help finish up our study of the Integumentary System. My kids have enjoyed their study of the human body and learning the importance of skin.

Now I did not have a fancy kit for crime scenes that would allow us to dust for fingerprints. Really I did not want to clean up the mess from dusting. I did not have a lot of time to plan either. So I came up with a fingerprint activity that I could do with the items in my house.

Fingerprint Activity: Crime Scene

  • ink pad for fingerprints
  • Nerf gun

I had everyone do two sets of their fingerprints. On one set I placed different dots so I would know whose set was whose but the kids would not. This is the set I used for the suspect line-up.

After allowing the kids time to study their unique prints I had them go outside and wait. This allowed me to time to stage the crime scene.

With the second set of fingerprints, I chose one child’s prints and cut out two fingers. I placed these two fingerprints on top of a Nerf gun. Then the kids had to figure out who did the crime. I did not give many details about the crime but they had no problems brainstorming ideas while they were studying the fingerprints.

I gave them the suspect line up so they could match up the fingerprints left on the Nerf gun. They had a blast trying to match them up. If we had more time we probably could have set up more crime scenes with our fingerprints.

Of course my kids wanted to write a story about the crime but that was getting us off topic! We saved the idea for creative writing later in the afternoon.

If you have time to plan you might enjoy these for your fingerprint activities.

A Lesson Learned Cleaning Out the Toy Box

cleaning out the toy box

Cleaning Out The Toy Box

Daunting chore?

I have spent days of my mother careering threatening, grumbling and complaining about toys everywhere. It only takes 2.3 seconds to undo any toy organization.

Somedays I just want to avoid the mess because of the many other things screaming for my attention. Often I just want to close the lid and forget about the glob of marshmallows hardening at the bottom.

I know cleaning out the toy box will take at least an hour of my time and a toll on my mental mind of keeping the boys focused on the task.

Chance to Listen?

Every now and then I like to sit on the floor surrounded by my kiddos and dump out the toys. Of course they get a little nervous when I do that. I have been known to throw things out rather quickly.

But sometimes I want to listen to the stories about their favorite toys. I want to share my favorite memories attached to certain toys. Sadly, there will come a day when they choose to throw out toys they no longer want. Cue the Toy Story theme music.

Yeah, for a brief moment you may notice how fast they are growing because their interest in toys has changed. For me, I no longer have cute baby or toddler toys. I actually packed a few of my favorite toys away. I am hoping they survive for the day when grandkids come to visit.

My boys were so excited to tell me about their toys that I don’t think they noticed we were actually cleaning.

What could have been a stressful day of cleaning turned into a chance to listen to what my boys love about their toys.

Yeah, reality says I can not walk down memory lane every time we need to clean out the toy box but I would encourage you occasionally to stop and listen.


Build Your Own Fort


Build Your Own Fort

My boys have a great amount of experience with building forts. Mainly our forts have been constructed out of blankets and other household materials. Today I chose a different medium to build your own fort, I thought it was time to get the boys in the kitchen.

We are studying the French and Indian War in All American History Jr. I thought it would be a great time to build a fort that resembled one that could have been constructed out of trees found in the New World.

Build Your Own Fort: Mashed Potatoes and Baby Carrots

  • cookie sheet covered with foil
  • mashed potatoes
  • baby carrots
  • peas (optional)

I thought it was a great time to teach the boys how to peal and dice potatoes. They loved the chance at being in the kitchen.

While the potatoes were cooking I read the lesson to them about the war. Then I covered a large cookie sheet with foil and flipped it upside to provide a base for the fort.

Once the potatoes were mashed, we built the perimeter for our fort. We constructed a thick layer of mashed potatoes in the shape of a rectangle.

Then taking baby carrots and placing them in the mashed potatoes we made the walls of our fort. If needed, we added extra mashed potatoes to help the carrots stand up. I am sure you could sharpen your carrots if you wanted a more authentic looking fort.

My boys could not wait for dinner! Yes, I was going to serve their fort with our baked chicken. I am sure you are wondering what happened to the peas that I had listed as optional. Well my husband came home and found this fort constructed out of food and he decided to cook some peas. He then attacked the fort with his form of cannon balls. The boys were up in arms over this.