Moon Pies?….Kinda

Moon Pies?....Kinda

So while studying the Moon, we needed something more for our kiddos to make the connection between the Phases of the moon, the changing of the month, orbit and so on…they got the gist but it wasn’t enough.
With our kids, interest is a first priority cause they can tune you out OH SO MASTERFULLY! Thankfully inspiration hit (my good ideas are never mine 🙂 ) and I remembered some buttercream frosting in the fridge (Homemade and thus thicker than store-bought, made with vegetable oil spread actually)
We rolled 3 dollops of the plain white frosting into about 2inch diameter balls, for the Full and 2 Gibbous Moons, then stuck them in the freezer.
Then we mixed some cocoa powder into some white frosting to make the dark portions on the white frosting balls (Gibbous Moon Phases).
Next we mixed some peanut butter and cocoa into some of the white frosting and made 5 more balls (approx. same size as others) for the other Phases (2 crescents, 1 New, and 2 quarters).
We stuck those in the freezer for a bit and then “frosted” them with the leftover white frosting to make them look like the other before mentioned Phases of the Moon.
Anyway, the best part was it didn’t take long, the kids could do the majority of it, and they were totally focused.
While the “Moons” were freezing we cut up the papers and wrote the names of the phases on them, used some yellow playdoh for the side of the sun and our well-played-with-clay was all rolled into a ball to make the earth. Then we got out our “Moons” and set them up on the correct label and Voila! A memorable and tasty model of the Phases of the Moon!
P.S. The added bonus was that tonight was our Family Night and this Science activity took care of our family treat too! 

Welcome Fall

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I’ve always loved fall. Brisk, but not too cold. Beautifully colorful hillsides. The sweet smell of harvest and leaves piling up. The gentle rain. Warm, savory soups and sweet, spicy baked goods. MMMMM, love it! Of course those are my memories of fall.

We live in Mexico now and though there is a wet and dry season and you can tell the slight changes of the seasons its a bit harder to notice. We’ve actually lived in Latin America the majority (for my oldest) and all ( for the rest) of my children’s lives. So when it comes time to study seasons I take it on like we take on history. A worldwide view.

I always start with what the “typical” seasonal changes that I grew up with in the Northwest United States, and that most of my children are familiar with because of visits to my extended family. Then we talk about where we are living and the similarities and differences. Then we talk about where my husband’s extended family lives, on a tropical island in Africa, the similarities and differences there. We try to look at videos and pictures of all over the world and observe as much as we can. The great part is that you can cover science, geography, writing, reading, art, music, dance…and just about everything else with a study of the seasons!

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We began our study of Fall today as part of our nature studies. We talked about the signs and why they happen. The kids collaborated on a clay sculpture of an autumn scene. My son decided that we needed clay figures of boys throwing leaves and getting stuck in a pile of leaves, hahaha! Then we went to the park to enjoy some fun running around, even the weather cooperated to feign fall, the hurricanes on the coast are giving us some very autumn-isc rain-storms.

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I guess old habits are hard to break though! I still had to make some pumpkin bread today to celebrate. Yum!

5 Top-Rated Homeschool Activities

Every homeschool family is different. What works for me won’t necessarily work for you. But it is so fun to see what other families are up too and share ideas to keep your school alive and fun!  Here are the top-rated (by the kids) activities that we did in our homeschool last year.

1.) Theatrical Performance

The kids loved this activity so much that we’re going to do it again (using different mediums) this year. Last year we chose to do a short play (about 5-10 minutes in total). My son was in charge of the setting and plot and his own costume. My oldest daughter was in charge of the other costumes, hair and makeup. My youngest was given a role in the play and enjoyed making things “interesting” as most 2 year olds do. I really did very little other than turn the video camera on and off and guide my son in helping him include a beginning, middle and end. The result was fun, entertaining, and creative!

2.)    Egg Incubation Experiment

My husband raises pheasants. The children have been included in much of the care, including daily watering and feedings and have grown to love the birds. So when our chicks reached an age that they were able to reproduce it seemed natural to talk about the process. We looked up all the ins and outs of egg incubation for each breed and answered all of the kids questions and then they were able to choose an egg for their own to incubate. We do not have an incubator, so the kids were left to their creativity and recent findings on the subject to create what they thought would be the best method to incubate the eggs. I provided tools and guided them with questions, but the results of lamps, blankets, socks, setting them on the dryer, etc., were their ideas. They named their eggs and we set up times and days to check and rotate and observe. The kids loved being “little parents” and even though none of the eggs hatched, they were able to reach the correct conclusions as to why and they are ready to try again!

3.)    Seed Germination Experiment

My kids love growing things. Any time they encounter a seed they have an urge to plant it. Our back yard is dotted with various “gardens” as they call them. So it was very natural to lead them into an experiment on germination and the interest was high. We used bean seeds and talked about seeds, germination, etc. We also discussed terms such as hypothesis, control, etc. We “planted” all of the beans in plastic see-thru cups, within wet paper towels and put them in a sunny window sill. However, we watered one cup with water, another with vinegar, another with oil, and another with grape juice. We checked the beans each day and added the selected liquid if they were dry. The kids were very interested and reached hypothesis and conclusions with very little guidance.

4.)    Question of the Day

This is one that may have gone overboard. We are still doing it this year but not every day because the kids (and mom) are so curious that we were losing a balance and neglecting other areas of study. This activity was simply that each child could ask whatever question they wanted about whatever subject they wanted and then we would try to find the answer. Sometimes we would use books but most often we found the internet most helpful, especially since it often had video explanations as well.

5.)    End of Year Olympics

We did this on the last day of school last year and the kids have been asking to do it again ever since. First we talked about the Olympics, the whos, whats, whys and hows. We talked about the subjects of brotherhood, competition, sportsmanship, etc. Then we made our own Olympics flag and held our own opening ceremony (without a torch, maybe this year?). Then we played games that I snuck some reviews into without them even noticing. We did the usual track and field events like long-jump, discus, and javelin and measured and tried to beat our own records. Then we did some phonics relay races and alphabet badminton. We ended with water-balloon volleyball where they had lots of fun and didn’t even realize they were counting and doing simple mathematics to keep score. Of course we had special snacks and water bottles handy and at the end of lunch celebrated with “Olympic Rings” (donuts).

Keep reading and following us so we can give you our reviews on some new twists we’re adding to the above activities and some other activities we’re trying out this year like: Reading Campouts, Author Your Own Book, My Favorite Book Week. As always, we’d love to hear what you think and what is working for your homeschool family!