Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Zoo Themed Road Trip

As I was growing up, my family used to spend our vacations road tripping to zoos in our area.  We'd drive to a city, stay in a hotel with a pool, do a day at the zoo, and drive home.  It was the perfect way to spend a long weekend.

Now that I'm the mom, I get to share my love of zoos with my children.  Although we don't have any zoo trips planned for the future, I've put together this post as a guide for next time.  I always tell my husband that I'm just one grocery trip away from a road trip!

{Pick Your Theme}
I'm writing about a zoo vacation, but I think this process of creating themed road trips (or a Party on Wheels) can be used for other themed trips as well.  I've already written about a dinosaur themed one, and I think a Disney one would be really easy to host.  Perhaps you're heading to the beach, so you'd like to plan a pirates or beach themed road trip.  Or a historical-period theme for a road trip to a battleground or famous house.  There is only the limit of your imagination as you plan your party.

{Plan Your Food}
If you type in "zoo party food" into Pinterest, all sorts of fun ideas come onto the screen.  There's healthy foods like tiger-striped oranges, hummus and pepper lions, and birds made of of fruit.  And, there's cute foods like banana penguins, snake hot dogs, and avocado alligators.  Even easy food like licorice jungle vines, animal crackers, zebra cakes, peanuts, and bananas.  All of them would make great party snacks.

For lunches, look at "zoo bento boxes," for lots of fun ways to pack basic foods.  I like how sweet this elephant one is and how simple this lion one looks.

{Find Games and Activities}
I like to divide my activities into three groups: in the car, at the rest stop, and at the destination.




{Get Costumes}
A great way to get into the mood for a themed road trip is with costumes.  They can be as simple as a mask or hat, or as elaborate as a full costume.  With the zoo theme, you have even more options, because you could be an animal or a zookeeper.  I found these neat DIY masks that the kids could color in the car.  And, here's an easy way to dress comfortably and still look like a zookeeper.  If you don't want to go too elaborate, themed t-shirts for the whole family are an easy way to go (plus it's safer to all wear the same outfit in public).

{Gather Your Swag}
With a themed road trip or any party, the easiest way to set the mood is with themed stuff.  Set the table at the hotel with these animal plates and these nose cups.  Stick these animal toothpicks in your bento lunches.  Run around the rest stop blowing these zoo bubbles.  If you know about the trip a few weeks before you leave, you can have a lot of fun searching at party stores, dollar stores, and thrift stores for fun swag for your Party on Wheels.

I hope you enjoyed my tutorial and have found it interesting and motivating.  If there is a specific road trip theme that you'd like to see me do, write about it in the comment section below.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Science Unit Alphabet Posters

This blog is an Amazon Affiliate.

I finally figured out how to make subject covers for our science units that are also useful as subject introduction posters!  These covers (such as the one below) feature the animal that we're going to be focusing on, the "letter of the week" in a few different fonts, and the continent where the animal originates (in Montessori continent colors).  I took creative license on the posters, placing animals on a specific continent based on how we were going to study them, even if the animal (such as an owl) can be found in more than one place.  I plan on laminating these covers, using them as the dividers between my units, and then displaying them as posters during the week.  I think these will work very well for us.

Our 2016-2017 Science Units
*each of the links takes you to my Pinterest board*

- apples (world map; a BTS tradition)
- gorilla (Africa; comparing apes and monkeys)
- vulture (Africa; scavengers; contentment)
- elephant (Africa; Savannah; safari)
- camel (Africa; desert)

fall break (one week)

- horse (USA; farm)
- alligator (USA; swamp)
- lizard (USA; desert)
- night owl (USA; nocturnal animals)
- pumpkins (USA; harvest; plant life cycle)

Thanksgiving break (one week)

- umbrella bird (S. America; rain forest)
- cookies (Christmas; gingerbread)
- winter (Christmas; snow)

Christmas break (two weeks)

- penguin (Antarctica)
- yak (Asia; Russia)
- bears (Asia; China; panda)
- tiger (Asia; India)
- dinosaurs (global; fossils)
- love (valentines' day)

Valentine's Day break (one week)

- zebra fish (ocean; coral reef)
- shark (ocean; food chain)
- manatee (ocean; marine mammals)
- octopus (ocean; invertebrates)
- quail (birds)
- fox (Europe)
- rabbit (land mammals)

Holy Week break (one week)

- kangaroo (Australia)
- worm (invertebrates)
- inchworm (insects; life cycles)
- jumping spider (spiders)
- frogs (pond; metamorphosis)
- bees (optional)


Dragonfly picked out ever subject that we're going to be studying this year.  She's a "Science Girl," and she knows what she wants to learn about.  I'm very glad that homeschooling fosters her self-driven desire to learn.  I hope she never loses it.

You can read about what we're going to put in the science notebook each week here.

Back to School Interviews (2016)

I haven't done a kid interview on my blog in a long time.  That's disappointing.  I'm going to rectify that today!

{Dragonfly- age 5}

Friends: my cousins and my friend at church (I'm withholding names for privacy)

Favorite Thing to Play: blocks and dublos and swimming pool and tree house and water and bicycle and slide and wood

Favorite Color: pink and blue and black and yellow and orange and green and purple

Favorite Book: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Favorite Movie: Bubble Guppies

Favorite Food: macaroni and cheese and brownies- love those!

When I Grow Up: "I just want to be a mommy with a baby" (she said doctor first then switched it).  Later, she said, "I want to be a doctor of babies."

Quotes: "Call me Jayda." (such an Anne-girl)

{Skimmer- age 4}

Friends: Aunt Emi

Favorite Thing to Play: Cars!  Cars!  Monsters! (trucks)

Favorite Color: black

Favorite Book: Cars

Favorite Movie: Dinosaur Train and Bubble Guppies

Favorite Food: mac and cheese

When I Grow Up: Dinosaur Digger

                                       Quotes: "I a box man" (UPS man)

{Tadpole- age 3}

Friends: mommy

Favorite Thing to Play: motorcycles and water

Favorite Color: blue

Favorite Book: truck book (Little Blue Truck)

Favorite Movie: Zoo-me-zoo-me (Team Umizoomi) and Cars

Favorite Food: hamburger

When I Grow Up: food! grown up!

Quotes: "

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Counting to 100 Printable Mat

This blog is an Amazon Affiliate.

In kindergarten, kids begin learning to recite the numbers from 1-100 and to count objects to 100.  The task might seem overwhelming, but breaking the big number down into a smaller number makes it easier.  I made this printable for counting out 10 groups of 10 objects each to equal 100.  You can also see from the above picture that the board can also be used to count higher numbers and reinforce concepts of 10's and 1's (ex- 6 groups of 10 equals 60 plus 5 ones).  I made a pink version and a blue version.  As always, they are free to download.  Below are some ideas for using the board.

1. pumpkin seeds
2. pony beads
3. novelty erasers
4. pennies
5. counting bears
6. wood stars
7. m&ms
8. paperclips
9. jungle animals
10. pretend skittles
11. nuts
12. buttons
13. glass stones
14. candy hearts
15. candy corn
16. diy penguins
17. dublo/lego towers
18. chocolate chips
19. little rocks
20. cereal
21. snowflakes
22. flamingos
23. diamonds
24. jellybeans
25. DIY aliens
26. pumpkins
27. hearts
28. chickpeas
29. DIY ladybugs
30. acorns
31. mini marshmallows
32. sticks
33. apple seeds
34. toothpicks
35. foam blocks
36. sunflower seeds
37. google eyes
38. goldfish crackers
39. noodles
40. letters
41. monsters
42. watermelon seeds
43. glow in the dark stars
44. flowers
45. tictacs
46. mini pompoms
47. teddy bear crackers
48. barbie accessories
49. rainbow loom bands
50. raisins

Math counters that can fit in an altoid tin can be found in this blog post.  And here is a list of 100 larger objects that could be counted.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Prepping Your Children for Camping

This blog is an Amazon Affiliate.

I thought I would be done with Travel Time Tuesday, but I just can't stop!  This week, we're getting ready to go camping with our kids.  As I've been preparing, I thought I'd share some of what I've found with you.

- camping chair for kids
- kids bunk bed cots (on the wish list)
- flashlights
- glowsticks
- bug spray (this is the one we like best)
- sunscreen
- camping high chair (we use this every time we're at my parents' house)
*this is not a full list*
Youtube Videos
- Campfire Safety with the H.E.A.T team
- Be a Champ at Camping (safety)
- kids showing parts of camping
- how to put up a tent
- how to make a smore
- how to make a campfire
- Camping with Kids: fire
- Camping with Kids: clothes
- Camping with Kids: activities

Youtube Audiobooks
Curious George Goes Camping
Peppa Pig Goes Camping
- Just Me and My Dad

- S is for Smores (a camping alphabet)
- Biscuit Goes Camping
- Just Me and My Dad
- The Kids Campfire Book
- Amelia Bedelia Goes Camping
- list of 10 camping books recommendations

- natural paintbrushes
- scavenger hunt printables
- lots of ideas from a seasoned mom
- glow in the dark balls
- playmobile family camping set
- safari vest
- busy bags
- play dough small world

Be sure to check out the great camping preparations and advice from my blogger friend at Every Star is Different!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Work Boxes and Daily Five

As I was doing research for this next school year, I was intrigued by the idea of Daily Five, which is often used in kindergarten classrooms.  Daily Five encourages kids to work on reading, writing, and spelling through five different daily activities (hence the name).

Free Chalkboard Labels can be downloaded here.

Work boxes are very common homeschooling tool.  I've been dabbling in them for the past few years (I even wrote two posts about them already this summer- a planner here and the labels here).  Now that I have my curriculum sorted out, I think I know that I want my work boxes to look like.

The paper drawers are our work boxes.  This shelf is for the things the kids will share and the things that the boys will do apart from Dragonfly.

1- Read Aloud: our current novel for whole group reading time
2- Math: number work for the boys
3- Skills: scissors, pinching, handwriting, etc
4- Calendar: storage
5- Notebooks: interactive notebook materials
6- Science: materials for our theme that week

This shelf is Dragonfly's materials.  I'd like her to be able to work independently through the boxes eventually.

7- Math Games
- Horizons K math workbook
math tiles (matching, etc)
monster flash cards
graphing with dice
math counters
zookeeper's day (telling time)
100 chart
school day (telling time)
10-frame games
roll and cover
pirate clip and count
                                              - counting jewels
                                              - bug roll and fill game
                                              - making teen numbers board

As you can see, there are even more ideas for math games!  It's also very easy to make math games that fit our science theme units.  Small changes can make big differences in the novelty of a game.

8- Word Work Ideas
- curves and sticks for building letters (free)
- Thanksgiving spelling game (free)
- rainbow words spelling (free)
- magic words (white crayon writing)
- black light words (highlighter)
- tiles (one of my summer projects)
- juggling CVC words (free)
- salt box (using finger or brush)
- magnetic letters
- bananagram worksheets (free)
- safari spelling and math challenge (free)
- secret message (finding beginning sounds to spell words)
- poke pin words
- CVC dice (free)
- word family rimes chart (free)
- monster word sorting (free)

Our CVC word cards came from Miss Giraffe.  We'll start with these for rime words (words with the same ended).

The idea for our Sight Word cards came from Learning with Mrs. Langley.  I used her idea of rainbow words and made my own set of smaller cards.  Her cards can be bought at Teachers Pay Teachers. The printable list of Fry words can be found here.

As you can see, there are tons of ideas for word work.  And, thanks to Pinterest, I'll never run out of novel ways to teach phonics and sight words.

9- Listen to Reading Ideas
- parent/sibling/adult reads to child (a list of things kids can do while they listen)
- audiobooks with headphones
- read-to-me stories on device
- youtube videos of people reading books
- free QR codes for kids books

10- Writing
This is mainly going to be copywork and free writing as she gets more proficient and reading and writing.  You can read about my resource binder from writing here.

Here are a few more helpful things that I found to incorporate through our year:

how to write like a scientist
use a spaceman to separate words
opinion worksheets ($- I like __ because __.)
this is how I write the first day of school
free journal paper
rainbow writing (tracing different colors)
write from your heart

11- Read to Self
I think that most of these books are going to be related to our science theme of the week.  The Read to Self part of the day will be a chance for her to take a break from learning to read and to just enjoy the idea of books again.  She can look at pictures and tell the story.  These books can then be part of our listen to reading time.

12- Practice Reading
I don't really have anything to add to this list.  Basically, it's just mom and child or dad and child working on reading aloud books.  Or perhaps working together on sight word flashcards or rimes.

To keep track of all my themes and good ideas for the boxes, I made my own planner pages.  I'm going to put them in a binder.  You can download the planner pages with the work boxes written in or a blank planner page.

Pin it!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

School Supplies Tool Boxes

This blog is an Amazon Affiliate.

This picture is a great example of organization and disorganization existing in the same place.  On a shelf inside our homeschool cupboard, sits this untidy line-up of very organized tool boxes.  I'm sort of addicted to them, so I'm sure this won't be all I ever make.  The larger cases came from Walmart, but the smallest one on the right came from Amazon.  I thought some might enjoy a peak inside.

The smallest box in the collection holds one-inch wood tiles.  One side has a plain D'Nealian letter on it, while the reverse side is done like a Scrabble letter with a value.  There is both uppercase and lowercase letters to allow for lots of spelling opportunities.  The colored tiles are phonics blends for when we move past simple CVC words.  I'm planning on making a second box (told you I wasn't done) for the cursive letter tiles.  The printable for all these letter tiles (print, Scrabble, cursive, blends) can be found here.

The box without a side label is our phonics object box.  Each place is filled with objects that start with that letter of the alphabet.  As you can see, some of the letters have a lot and some have very little.  Objects were collected from around the house.  I also bought a pack of 300 random trinkets off Etsy.  I think these objects will be very fun for beginning sound sorting and spelling.

I wrote about this box here so there isn't a lot more to add.  The letters are from Educational Insights.  I think there are two lowercase letter sets in this box.

Yet another way to spell words!  These Melissa and Doug stamps can be used on either paper or in play dough.  I like that the set comes with punctuation so we can work on sentence structure with capital letters at the beginning and periods or question marks at the end.  The ultra washable ink is a must if we're going be be using them on paper.  As a bonus activity, I'm going to have the kids wash the stamps after we finish using them.

As we move toward writing on paper, we have a writing tool box.  This box has a bit of everything in it.  Pens (lots of colors), pencils (two sizes!), chalk, colored pencils (rainbow writing), and highlighters (which will glow under a black light).  The big purple push pin is for poking out messages and pictures- a good activity for strengthening finger muscles.

Those who have read this blog post won't be able to recognize this husk of my math tool box.  I have been tweaking how I store things and haven't quite figured out what all is going to go in here.  Maybe some of my math games or maybe just objects for higher math.  I know I'm going to be putting our rulers in here for sure.

I included the printable for the place value cards here.  This box is why the math tool box is so empty.  I decided that I wanted to make room for a hundreds tile and the cards, which meant putting the Cuisenaire rods in a new box.  The white, orange, and blue cards have a bit of velcro on them to help the layers stick together (make them less slippery).  They can be layered to express a number or taken apart to represent place value.  I think they will be a valuable part of our homeschooling journey for many years.

What would you put in a tackle box for your homeschool?

Products from this post:
Elite homeschool cupboard
small tackle box
Educational Insights Magnetic Letters
Melissa and Doug stamps
ultra washable ink
colored pencils
black light
poke pin
Cuisenaire rods

Pin it!