Monday, August 20, 2012

When the kitchen looks like this... tends to scare my husband!

But don't worry, its not what it looks like, unless you think it looks like I've been canning beets, in which case you would be right.  I LOVE beets and although canning them can be a bit messy and time consuming it is well worth it to me.  I thought I would share the process I go through in case anyone out there might want to try canning some themselves.

First off, you must remove all the skin from the beets before canning.  Trust me, you don't want to have a bright red foamy mess in your storage area...believe me, its not pretty.  What I do is remove the leaves from the beets then boil them whole until the skin slips off easily. It will take a bit of time and it all depends on the size of the beets.  I usually take one out to test it.  When they are ready I put them all into a large bowl of cold water

At this point I move to the counter where I have a large cutting board where I remove the top and tail and slip off the skin revealing a beautiful, shiny beet.  Usually there are still a few pieces of skin sticking to the beet so for the next step...

 I slip the beets into another bowl with water.  This washes the beets one last time before I...

 Chop them into smaller pieces.  I used to slice the beets, but it took more time and I came too close to slicing my own finger too many times.  Now I just make chunks and it works well for me.

 Now I have a bowl of beautiful and fully prepped beets ready for canning.  Because they are a low acid vegetable, they need to be canned in a pressure canner.  Follow the directions given in your instruction booklet.

 And thats it!  I can almost taste them now just looking at them.  I might just have to go open a can for a late night snack.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Flower Smashing Science

This was an activity we did in preparation of our upcoming Nature Adventure.  We have been learning about flowers and for this activity we learned about the parts of a flower.  First we went to the garden and picked some flowers.  These happen to be zinnias.  Then using a diagram of the parts of a flower, like this one at enchanted learning, we started to pull apart the flower looking for and identifying each part.
 Here you can see the petals, the stamen and on the stem is the pistil.

 After exploring the flower parts.  We then removed the petals from several different flowers and we created a design with them on a piece of paper.

 Then came the best part, we covered it with a second piece of paper and them hit it with a hammer.  Yep, science is fun!

 Eventually we realized it would work better if we used a thin piece of wood and then pounded on that.

What we were doing was pounding the pigment out of the flower petals, leaving behind beautiful designs.

Happy scientist!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Sneaky Math

So, my daughter has decided that she doesn't like math.   In hopes of encouraging her to enjoy math more I have been seeking more living math ideas to add to our usual workbook.  It has been working quite well and usually she has no idea that she is doing math.  One night she overheard me explain to my husband how i was "sneaking" math into our school day.  The next day Esther insisted that we do more sneaky math. I giggled inside that even though she knows its math, as long as it is "sneaky" she wants to do it.  Here is one of her and my favorites.  Pattern blocks and the Pattern Animal Puzzle Book.

The book has one animal for each letter of the alphabet which can be filled in using pattern blocks.  But it also has several different activities to then use the blocks and animals pictures for.  It covers several different math concept including, sorting, patterns graphing, comparison and many more things.

On this particular day first she had to fill in the picture of the jaguar. Then she had to create a frame around the entire picture using any blocks she wanted and in any way she wanted.

Then we counted how many of each block was used for the picture.  Then we did it again for the frame. We put it all in a chart and compared the picture with the frame to see which one used more of each block.  As you can tell this was a BIG hit with Esther.  With the different pictures and all the different activities we can easily do one of these a week for the next year and not get tired of it.

By the way, I got my copy through Paperbackswap. I have received several homeschool books through this service and always check here first when looking for a book.

Monday, August 13, 2012

One of "those" weeks

Have you ever had one of those weeks when everything (and I mean everything) you had planned just goes out the window?  Yep, I had one of those last week.  If it wasn't friends needing help, or looming deadlines, then it was responsibilities I had agreed to, then forgot. (oops!)  Or it rains for three days straight!  Don't get me wrong we NEEDED the rain.  But really, three straight days!?  All outdoor plans were cut short. And of course when we're not running here or there, then the kids were at each others throats and Elijah decided he doesn't want to go on the potty anymore. This Momma was certainly not finding any bliss this past week. the kids are playing quietly together with no arguments.  I have nowhere to be and nothing to do but to put the house back in order, something I usually dread, but today seems to be quite soothing.  We may even get some school work done today. So, while the past was filled with chaos, I am choosing to say that today is going to be a great day.

Monday, August 6, 2012

....and Craft On!

A while back, I stumbled upon a great blog called: Frontier Dreams

I have been snooping on this blog for quite a while and only recently brought myself to comment. (why is it so hard to leave comments some times?  maybe its just me!?)

Anyway...she has a lovely weekly link up called Keep Calm Craft On.  It is a wonderful place for crafty people to share their current projects.  But, beyond the cute crafts and the great pictures, there is much more beneath this post.  As she writes,  "The act of creating, in one form or another, preserves my sanity amongst the chaos of life.". I find myself quite agreeing with her.  Whenever I sit down to sew, or knit I do find it quite calming.

In fact I have found myself recently, as I am getting frustrated or upset, repeating in my head "keep calm, craft on...keep calm, craft on" as if it is some sort of mantra.  But it reminds me to not get so worked up over things, and to focus back on the little things that make me happy.  Like for instance....

Making a new gift for my daughter. 

  This will eventually become a princess.  You can find the pattern from Red Heart, here.  The white was from a bag of random bits bought at a Good Will and the purple was salvaged from a sweater that did not fit any more.  It should not take me much longer to finish and I promise to share a pictureBut until then, check out Nicole's Blog and remember to Keep calm....

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Tot School

Tot School

Elijah is 3.5 years old

Here are a few highlights from our week in Tot School:

We played a simple game called Copy That I gathered a few items, making sure i had two of everything.  Elijah would hide behind the couch while I paced the objects in a specific way (the plate on the left).  Then Elijah would come over and have to "copy that" set up exactly.  This was great in creating observation skills.

We did some color mixing using puffy paint. There are many recipes out there, but here is the one I used.
 We learned about the letter E
 which included the story of the cobbler and the elves with felt people.

 We made a garbage gobbler with two paper plates stapled together, and learned the importance of not littering.
 We used them to play a game to see who could pick up the most "trash" (crumpled used paper) Sorry for the blurry action shots.

 We also went on a family adventure looking for different kinds of seeds.  Click Here to see more of our adventure.

To see what others are doing in Tot here!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Nature Explorers - Seeds


Welcome to The Nature Explorers Club. I am a mom who loves nature and loves to share it with others. Using my experience as an Outdoor Education Instructor and my basic love of nature, I will be venturing out to explore the great outdoors every week with my kids. Every week I will share what we did, and every week you are welcome to join us. So get your boots ready, because we're going exploring!

This week for Nature Explorers, we went on a family adventure.  We focused on seeds and learning about them.  Though I didn't get to do everything I wanted we still had a great week.  On our adventure, the goal was to find as many seeds as we could.  Luckily Daddy got to come with us!

 Yep, this is the man who puts up with all my craziness...

We found several forms of seeds, in cones, in pods, in berries.

 The coolest was this Paw Paw tree. 

Of course a nature adventure would not be complete with out a frog.  I think we may be a bit obsessed with them.

Earlier in the week we did a few other activities in preparation for our outing.  We grew beans in a jar using paper towel and a little bit of water.

We learned the parts of a seed.  The seed coat, endosperm (or food for the embryo), and the embryo (the wee little baby plant)

We also learned in what order a plant grows using a felt board in a file folder. First a large tap root grows, then smaller, finer roots grow off of that.  It then send up a stem, with leaves following.  Eventually there will be a flower.  We also started to learn the parts of the flower.  This next week we will learn about pollination, bees and flowers which circles back to this topic of seeds.

Some books we enjoyed were:
How a Seed Grows - Helene J. Jordan
The Tiny Seed - Eric Carle
The Berenstain Bears Grow It! - Stand & Jan Berenstain

If you and your kids went out and explored nature this week, please feel free to link up below.  It is not necessary to have focused on seeds, we just want to share our adventures in the great outdoors.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Word Wall

 As we progress in Esther's reading, every week there are new words for her to learn and master.  I use different activities to keep this exciting.  Right now we have this chart hanging in our dining room.  I write one word on each card and slip it into the pockets.  I put it in the dining room because she sees it throughout the day and the words become more familiar to her.

 Everyday, I have her read through the words.  If she reads it correctly the first time, she can add a dot to the card.  Five dots and the card can be removed from the chart.  This way, once she masters a word, it is removed and she can focus on the harder ones.  I am saving the cards to be used soon in some games.
Right now, she loves this.  I often catch her standing in front of the chart, reading the words.  Or she will arrange them into a sentence.  I am glad she loves words so much.  Now if only she would enjoy numbers as well!