Fun Educational Spring Activities

Educational Activities to Welcome the Spring

Spring is literally around the corner!

Whether you’re a homeschool family like us, or your kids are home on spring break, I bet you’re looking for ideas on how to enjoy the warmer weather we’ve all been desperately waiting for.

Or, maybe that I’ve been desperately waiting for?

I mean, if you’ve read my recent post, you’re well aware that for me, and many other homeschoolers, winter is burnout season. But we’ve powered through it and kindly welcome the chirping birds (let’s hope they don’t bully us this year and that they make their nests in a location other than our front porch), the budding flowers, the milder days, and the sound of children enjoying the great outdoors.

Enter, springtime! How, oh how, shall we celebrate?

Of course, spending more time playing outdoors, taking bike rides, and basking in the sunshine are obvious ways to welcome the spring months. I, however, wanted to recommend some of the educational activities we’ve done in the past that our boys especially enjoyed. All the activities I’m about to mention are family friendly and age-adaptable. Most importantly, they are super fun!

So, let’s get into it, shall we?


 

7 Educational Activities to Welcome the Spring



1. Learn about bees and pollination.

Bees and Pollination Spring Activities

Where did we learn about bees and pollination? During a spring field trip to our local farm. We learned how bees make honey and how humans harvest it, the differences between male and female bees, and the important role bees play in pollination. We also got to taste some local honey harvested right there on the farm!

You don’t have to venture far to learn about bees, though. There are a ton of YouTube videos and library books on the subject that can be taught right from the comfort of your back porch on a beautiful spring day. But, of course, a lesson on a beautiful farm takes things up a notch.

And while you’re at it, invest in some local honey if the spring season aggravates your child’s allergies. Local honey is a great natural way to combat allergy season. Just a spoonful will do for children over one-year-old. And as a friendly reminder; never give honey to an infant.

 

2. Plant something green.

Planting and Botany Spring Activities

After covering our lesson on plant science, which included an awesome plant-cycle activity in our interactive science notebooks, we decided to get hands on. Planting grass is such an easy, no-nonsense experiment for children because it easily grows in many different environments. My boys loved taking care of their indoor plant and watching it change over time.

We got our seeds for free at a local farm, but you can pretty much purchase these seeds at any Lowes, home depot, Walmart, and even Target. In fact, Target has some pretty cool starter grow kits for tomatoes, carrots, and other veggies if you’re feeling adventurous.

 

3. Pick some strawberries.

Strawberry Picking Spring Activities

Did you know strawberries are the first fruit to ripen each spring? That makes them the perfect fruit to welcome the spring months. So, pack up the kids, head to your local orchard, and get ready to pick some juicy strawberries!

But don’t stop there. Check if your local orchard offers guided tours, classes, or other educational opportunities to maximize your learning experience. Our local orchard taught our homeschool group a lesson on the life-cycle of strawberries and how to properly pick them before we ventured off to pick our own. We also ate some delicious homemade strawberry ice-cream, compliments of the farm.

 

4. Visit a butterfly garden.

Butterfly Garden Spring Activities

Most butterfly gardens are open to the public. Visit one and learn about the many species of butterflies and their native habitats. The butterflies in the garden are typically friendly and will interact with you and your children. My boys even fed them nectar, which was the closest they’ve ever been to the beautiful creatures they tend to chase in our backyard.

Don’t have a local butterfly garden? Invest in a butterfly kit and grow your own butterflies. You can find them just about anywhere, but Amazon is probably your best bet. The kit comes with live caterpillars that turn into adult butterflies. Be sure to set them free after you’ve finished marveling at their transformation.

 

5. Camp out while doing your lessons.

Camping and Spring Activities

Got a tent taking up space in your garage? Pitch it in your backyard and turn it into your spring classroom. Pack your laptop, sleeping bags, and yummy treats to cozy up and watch a documentary together. Or, pack some clipboards for easy writing and do your normal lessons in the fun cozy setting of your backyard tent.

You can also go on a real camping adventure. Just search for popular campsites in your area. Many parks and other recreational areas offer great camping grounds complete with beautiful scenery and the necessary facilities to make the most of your camping trip. Your kids will love solving math problems by the lake or underneath a tunnel of trees in the forest.

 

6. Do some spring-themed brainteasers.

Spring Themed Worksheets & Brain Teasers

Who can resist the plethora of cute spring-themed worksheets on the good ol’ internet? They’re especially handy “boredom-busters” for those rainy spring days when everyone is stuck at home. Education.com has got you covered! Not only does this resource offer an abundance of spring-themed worksheets, but also brain-teasers, games, and lesson plans for just about every topic I mentioned in this blog post.

Check out the brain-teaser below for a fun way to challenge your child’s cognitive thought processes, and improve their concentration, memory, and brain strength. Download it here for FREE!

Spring Maze Brain Teaser

Spring Maze
To celebrate the beginning of spring, these friendly flowers are here to help you through this maze! Be sure to check out Education.com for more learning fun.

7. Learn about local birds and make a birdhouse.

Building a Birdhouse Spring Activities

Making a birdhouse is not only fun, but is also incredibly easy to find in kit-form. We purchased our wooden birdhouse kits from Lowes and my boys had a great time building and painting them. All we needed was a kiddie hammer, some paint supplies, a back porch, and a beautiful spring day.

If you have a local nature center, it is the perfect place to learn about local birds and other wildlife. During our visit, we learned most of the wildlife at our nature center have been nursed back to health after being found injured or orphaned. Our boys got to see owls, eagles, and many other beautiful birds up close and personal. There’s something magical that happens when kids interact with animals!


 

Well, that completes my list. I hope you try out some of these activities this spring. A big thanks to Education.com for another great partnership to bring you awesome educational resources for your children and students. As you know, Education.com is one of my favorite resources so it’s always a pleasure to work with them.

Need more ideas? Click here for other spring-friendly field-trip ideas and join me on Instagram to see what activities we do this coming spring!

Be sure to let me know in the comments what your family’s favorite springtime activities are.

Until next time, friends…

Frugal Homeschool Field Trips to Take This Year

Frugal Homeschool Field Trips to Take This Year

Hi!

If you’re new here, my name is Nike (nee-kay) Anderson and I am a fourth-year homeschooler of two boys, ages five and nine. Welcome to the family!

The field trip conversation emerges quite often in homeschool communities. I’ve noticed most moms would love to do more with their family but they just don’t know where to begin. So, I figured I’d make a post about some of the awesome field trips we’ve taken that are kid and wallet approved! Some of these field trips were hosted by our homeschool group while others were family adventures. I highly suggest joining a homeschool group or co-op if you haven’t already. Having a community takes care of the burden that often comes with planning field trips. It also ensures you’d get to take advantage of discounted group rates and free tours.

Here are Other Reasons to Take Group Field Trips:

  • To expose your children to different experiences that inspire learning beyond the textbooks.
  • To give your children the opportunity to fellowship with their peers.
  • To create pleasant memories of your homeschool experience.
  • To give your children the opportunity to learn from other people (tour guides, teachers, volunteers, etc).
  • To get out of the house!
  • To expose your children to possible new interests of study.
  • To encourage your family to do things you wouldn’t normally do on your own.

What are some personal benefits we’ve experienced with group field trips?

  • I’ve met awesome people whom I’ve had the pleasure of developing friendships with, and suddenly homeschool doesn’t seem so lonely.
  • My boys are more confident in building friendships because they know they will see the same faces.
  • Meeting a couple times a month breaks up the monotony of homeschool life, and takes the pressure off of me to provide my boys with social opportunities.
  • My boys are more aware that they are not the only homeschool kids in the world, and now feel a sense of community.
  • We get to integrate, and form connections with, people who don’t look like us as well a people from different walks of life.

So, without further ado, let’s get into it, shall we?


27 Frugal Homeschool Field Trips to Take This Year


 

1. Tour your local creamery and learn how they make their ice cream.

Coldstone Creamery Tour | Homeschool Field Trips

Be sure to check out your local creamery to inquire about group tours. Our homeschool group has been able to arrange a tour with our local Coldstone Creamery for the past couple years. The field trip typically takes place in the morning during low-traffic hours. Our host gives us a brief history of how the creamery started and an in-depth tour of how their ice-cream is imported, stored, and made. She even shows us how they make their famous waffle cones. Of course, there are yummy samples to taste during this tour. The creamery is also kind enough to offer us a group discount on ice cream. It is the one time our kids get to have ice cream after breakfast and they love it!

 

2. Tour your local orchard and learn about the fruits in season—and pick some of your own!

Strawberry Patch | Homeschool Field Trips

We typically visit the orchard during strawberry season. Not all orchards are created equal, so be sure to choose one that specializes in field trips if you can. It makes a huge difference! Orchards that specialize in field trips typically have awesome learning centers, tour guides, thorough instructions on proper strawberry picking, group discounts on strawberries, and maybe even some complimentary fresh strawberry ice cream! We were able to learn about the plant life cycle, plant our own seeds (which we were allowed to take home), learn about bees and their significance in pollination, taste some yummy local honey, learn about the life cycle of strawberries, and of course pick our own very own strawberries to take home and enjoy.

 

3. Tour your local pizza shop and learn how they make their classic pizza.

Who doesn’t want to know how to make pizza? Take advantage of group discount rates and arrange to have a tour and lunch at your local pizza parlor. Our homeschool group arranged this field trip last year and it was great to not have to worry about packing lunch. There’s just something about eating together that solidifies bonds. Our children not only learned a new recipe, but they also learned the importance of safety and hygienic precautions when handling food in the kitchen.

 

4. Tour your local aviation museum and learn about historical events.

Museum of Aviation | Homeschool Field Trips

If you’re fortunate enough to live in an area that has free admission museums, take full advantage! Some museums also host free events or days when admission is free. I remember traveling to Washington, DC and all the museums were free to explore! Here, in my small town, we’re fortunate enough to have an aviation museum full of history and awesome aircraft exhibits. We’ve visited there many times and it’s a great place for kids to learn about historical events like the Vietnam War, the Korean War, and WWII. Not to mention all there is to learn about the many different aircraft, military vehicles, and notable service men and women.

 

5. Tour your local news station and learn the ins and out of news production.

News Station | Homeschool Field Trips

You may find favor at your local news station, so call around and arrange a tour! Our local news station was gracious enough to give our older children a tour of the facility. Our host was a meteorologist from the weather team. This was perfect because he was able to show us some really cool behind-the-scenes adventures. One of those adventures included some interactive green screen fun! I’d say that was the highlight of the field trip.

 

6. Tour your local police department and learn what officers do when they’re not out patrolling.

Of course, learning how they catch criminals is exciting, but there’s much more that goes into being a police officer. Our homeschool group took a field trip to our local police station, where we received a tour of the building—even where the criminals go when they first arrive. The most exciting part of the trip, aside from getting a tour of the police car and seeing how the siren works, was getting a peek inside the forensic department. The forensic department showed us how their latest technology can accurately analyze collected evidence from crime scenes. Oh, how the kids loved the magic of the blue light, which made invisible things visible!

 

7. Visit the aquarium and learn about aquatic life.

Aquarium | Homeschool Field Trips

We’d have to travel over an hour to visit the huge Georgia aquarium and pay over $100 for the experience. Luckily, we have a local aquatic center for just a fraction of the cost. The kids can see freshwater aquariums, underwater habitats, and learn about native aquatic wildlife. The 200,000-gallon outdoor aquarium houses over 50 species that include trout, alligators, and more. Our group even got to watch the divers clean the tanks and feed the fish.

 

8. Tour your local post office and learn how mail is handled and transported.

Post Office | Homeschool Field Trips

Ever wonder what happens to a letter after you slip it into the mailbox and bid it farewell? Taking a field trip to the post office is a must! Our kids were quite surprised to learn just how much behind-the-scenes it takes for a letter to “magically” end up in our mailbox every afternoon. Our tour guide showed us the entire process of a letter from the time it enters the post office to its departure for delivery. The kiddos even got to check out the mail truck, pictured above, which was a huge hit. The wonder of children always amazes me; they’re impressed by the simplest things we often take for granted.

 

9. Get fishing lessons from your local education center.

Fishing. | Homeschool Field Trips

This is one idea you don’t see on the field trip list very often, but fishing is a beautiful skill worth acquiring. This field trip has been on our list for the past three years. We aren’t a fishing type of family, but we were happy to learn the basics at our local education center. Since it’s a catch and release system, we don’t get to keep the fish we catch (not that we’ve ever caught any, haha), but it’s fun practice and a great pastime for kids. Afterward, we washed our hands and ate our packed lunches with our homeschool group at nearby picnic tables.

 

10. Tour your local fire department and learn about fire safety.

This is a pretty standard field trip, but if you haven’t visited the fire department yet, I highly suggest it. Parents and children alike will learn proper fire safety precautions as well as what firemen do at the fire station. At the very least, you’ll be convicted to change those batteries in your smoke detectors and implement a safe procedure for your family in the event of a house fire. Our children also learned about the safety equipment firemen must wear and their different functions. And since their masks can be pretty scary, the firemen made sure to let our children know that if they’re ever stuck in a fire and see someone wearing a mask, that person is there to help so never hide from them. But, of course, the highlight of this field trip was getting a tour of the fire engine!

 

11. Tour your local farm and learn how to care for farm animals.

Farm | Homeschool Field Trips

One of the perks of living in Middle Georgia is that there are farms everywhere. We’ve visited quite a few farms and have petted our fair share of cute furry pals. Something special happens when children connect with animals. They learn so much just by observing; the gentleness of a sheep eating from your hand, the way horses stand when they’re asleep, how content a pig looks wallowing in the mud. It’s also important for children to understand how important it is to treat animals kindly, and to be shown an example of what taking proper care of animals looks like.

 

12. Arrange a hike and discover nature.

Hiking | Homeschool Field Trips

We love trails! Thankfully, there are plenty to choose from in our neck of the woods, so we’ve hiked quite a few. Taking a nice hike along your city’s most gorgeous trail is such an easy and low-cost field trip that everyone can enjoy. The kids get to explore and burn some energy, and the parents get their exercise in for the day. Everyone wins! If your trail has a welcome center, grab a brochure of the native flora and see how many you can find along the way. Pack a lunch to eat later with your group and bring plenty of water.

 

13. Visit a nature center and learn about native wildlife.

Nature Trail and Center | Homeschool Field Trips

Zoos are pretty popular, but have you ever visited a nature center? Our local nature center was originally a rehabilitation center for injured and orphaned native wildlife that couldn’t be released back into the wild due to the severity of their injuries. We’ve seen a variety of owls, eagles, cougars, aquatic animals, and more. These beautiful creatures are now used to teach children (and adults!) the significance of each species and the role they play in our big world. It’s a beautiful depiction of the interdependent relationship between humans and animals.

 

14. Attend seasonal events together and bond.

Solar Eclipse | Homeschool Field Trip

Arrange to meet up and fellowship at your local fall festival, Thanksgiving parade, Christmas lights show, spring break carnival, Independence Day celebration, etc. In fact, we’ve actually run into a few of our homeschool friends at these events and arranged to enjoy the experience together. Pictured above is our children at the 2017 solar eclipse experience hosted by our local museum. It was our very first field trip of the school year and was very much impromptu. The museum provided education pamphlets, maps, telescopes, and delicious food trucks. How wonderful was it for us to experience this rare occasion with our homeschool friends? It’s an event we can all remember and talk about for years to come.

 

15. Tour your state capital or local government building and meet some of the nation’s leaders.

State Capital | Homeschool Field Trip

Does your state have a Homeschool Day at the Capitol event? If so, arrange a field trip with your homeschool buddies and go! Homeschool Day at the Capitol is when homeschoolers across the state gather to meet and thank legislators. It’s a full day of learning and activities from classes to tours and fellowship with other homeschoolers in your state. But you don’t have to wait for this annual event to schedule a field trip, most capital buildings are open to the public during normal business hours. Pictured above is our trip to the nation’s capital, where we toured the grounds of the Capitol Building and learned its purpose and history.

 

16. Organize a Field Day and work on sportsmanship and team-building skills.

Field Day | Homeschool Field Trips

Field day is probably our most popular annual homeschool event. We find a nice park to host it, ensure proper booking, and then meet and coordinate the events of the day. We accommodate all age groups from preschool through high school, and it’s typically an all morning and afternoon affair, so definitely more like a day trip. Best of all, our children get to bond with their friends while practicing important skills like sportsmanship and team-building.

 

17. Tour your local library and learn how to search for books on your favorite topics.

Library Tour | Homeschool Field Trips

Do you visit the library often? A guided tour might be just the thing to help your children become more familiar with the space, services, and resources the library has to offer. Guided tours offer lessons on how to search for books by author, keyword, or topic, how to identify and search for call numbers, how to request a book through Inter-library loan, and how to access ebooks, periodicals, etc. Our tour even included an interactive call number search game, where students were given a sheet of paper with a list of books that they had to search for and check-off as they found them. It was so much fun!

 

18. Visit a science museum and take a STEAM class.

STEM Class | Homeschool Field Trips

Science museums have much to offer, but did you know some of them also offer extracurricular classes? It’s worth looking into! Our recent trip to the Museum of Arts and Sciences included an interactive lesson on states of matter followed by a craft. The craft required students to make a piece of artwork using a liquid (melted wax), solid  (crayons), and a gas (colorful air bubbles). They also enjoyed a lesson on different habitats, which featured live animals. So, if you’re dreading teaching science lessons to your children, make it easy on yourself and gather a few friends to take advantage of low-cost classes in your area. Be sure to note your museum’s minimum student requirement to ensure you have enough participants.

 

19. Visit the planetarium and learn how to identify constellations.

Planetarium | Homeschool Field Trips

Turns out our local science museum also has a planetarium, which is an awesome field trip idea for astronomy lovers. If you have a planetarium in your area, this is an experience you won’t want to miss. A planetarium is a large room with a dome ceiling that allows you to see what the night sky looks like. It also serves as a theater that presents educational shows right inside the dome. You’ll have to recline for this experience! We couldn’t take pictures while inside the planetarium, so pictured above is the Science on a Sphere exhibit right outside the entrance. Inside the planetarium, we learned how to identify planets and constellations in the night sky. We also watched a 3-D presentation exploring galaxies.

 

20. Visit your local ranch and learn how to make corn flour.

Ranch Corn Flour | Homeschool Field Trips

Not only did we learn how to make corn flour by hand at our local ranch, but we also got to take a dive into the corn bin, among other things. Maybe your local ranch doesn’t offer this service, but I’m sure there are other great services they might offer, like seasonal field trips or guided tours. One seasonal field trip we took advantage of at our ranch was the guided program, Pilgrim to Pioneer Days, which taught the history of Thanksgiving. It included interactive lessons, a tractor wagon ride tour of the 1,500-acre farm, and access to the farm’s attractions. Prices may vary depending on the facility, but for our family of four, this trip averaged $36 for a full day’s experience.

 

21. Visit one of the tallest skyscrapers in your city and learn about its history.

Atlanta Skyscraper | Homeschool Field Trip

Our boys love architecture, especially skyscrapers. Last year, we decided to take a trip into the city and go inside one of the tallest skyscrapers of Atlanta—The Westin Peachtree Plaza, also known as the Sun Dial. Of course, we wanted to visit the tallest one, but we had to settle for the skyscraper that offered open viewing to the public. For a small fee, we rode an elevator up 72 flights of the 723-foot building, the fifth tallest in the city. We read about its history, had a 360-degree view of the Atlanta skyline, gazed through the complimentary telescopes, and pointed out famed landmarks. It was an amazing experience. Even more so through the wide eyes of children. Afterward, we ate lunch and walked the Northside trail (I told you we love trails!).

 

22. Visit your local pumpkin patch during the Fall and enjoy seasonal activities and a hayride.

Pumpkin Patch | Homeschool Field Trip

It shouldn’t be hard to find a local pumpkin patch that offers hayrides and other seasonal activities. Where we live, there’s much to choose from. The patch we like visiting offers face painting, story time, unstructured play activities, a fun hayride, and an array of different types of pumpkins available for purchase. Like most of the field trips I’ve mentioned, this was an organized field trip by our homeschool group and it was completely free!

 

23. Attend a Saturday workshop at Michaels or Home Depot and pack a lunch to eat at a nearby park afterward.

Workshop Class | Homeschool Field Trips

Did you know that Home Depot and Michaels hosts Saturday workshops for kids? If you didn’t, now you know! We used to take advantage of Lowes’ Build and Grow Kids’ workshops in the past but they’ve been discontinued. Thankfully, Home Depot hosts similar workshops where kids can learn how to make different objects out of wood. These workshops take place on scheduled Saturdays each month at participating Home Depots nationwide. Best if all? It’s FREE! And if that wasn’t awesome enough, the kids receive a free kit, apron, pin, and certificate of achievement. Michaels also hosts a $2 Kids’ Club craft project on scheduled Saturday mornings. This is a great, budget-friendly, field trip idea for your family or homeschool group.

 

24. Watch an outdoor movie hosted by your local park.

Outdoor Movie | Homeschool Field Trips

Another awesomely free field trip idea is to enjoy an outdoor movie at your local park. All you have to do is follow their social media pages to stay up-to-date on these types of events. Pictured above, we enjoyed a beautiful day at the lake that ended with an outdoor viewing of the movie, Moana. We enjoyed complimentary popcorn and hot cocoa, and we packed our own picnic. If you want to make this experience more “educational,” read or watch videos about the history and/or making of the movie. My boys loved learning how CGI movies are created. They also followed tutorials on how to draw some of the Moana characters and attempted to learn how to play “How Far I’ll Go” on the keyboard (bless my ears! Haha!).

 

25. Visit a Butterfly Garden and learn about different butterfly species.

Butterfly Garden | Homeschool Field Trips

Ever visit a butterfly garden before? There’s no time like the present to give it a go. I don’t want to assume everyone knows what a butterfly garden is, so I’ll offer a brief definition. A butterfly garden is where live butterflies are in an enclosure and you can walk through their habitat. They are also called butterfly houses and/or farms. It’s an absolutely beautiful observatory, where people can learn about the many species of butterflies and their native habitats. As you can see from the picture above, the butterflies are typically friendly and will interact with you and your children. We even fed them nectar. Most gardens are open to the public, so research your area for the nearest butterfly exhibit.

 

26. Organize a “Lunch & Lesson” and learn something new together over a tasty meal.

Lunch and Lesson | Homeschool Field Trips

Is it weird to take a field trip to someone’s home? We don’t think so! Lunch & Lesson is something my friend and I arranged this month for our children to learn Black History together. The event took place at my home, where I prepared a lesson, craft, and lunch for the kiddos. Pictured above is last week’s Lunch & Lesson. We ate hot dogs and french fries, and learned about Bessie Coleman. Since Bessie Coleman was the first black woman to earn a pilot license, we built and painted wooden airplanes while listening to Newsboys. It was awesome! If this is something your speed, you could arrange something similar and invite people over. It doesn’t have to be Black history, you could cover any subject of interest or simply get together to craft.

 

27. Go to the skating rink, burn some energy, fellowship——and perhaps learn a new skill if you’re new to skating.

Skating | Homeschool Field Trips

Our monthly skating events are not only fun, but an opportunity for my boys to hone their skating skills. In a world where “book smarts” is glorified, sometimes we forget our children also learn through developing gross motor skills. Roller skating works all parts of the body and is especially good for the heart. Like most physical activity, skating is also a great way for children to relieve stress. Our local skating rink is kind enough to open its facility to us during non-conventional hours, so long as we continue to have enough people participate. If your local skating rink doesn’t already offer something similar, you could gather enough homeschoolers and petition for it. It’s worth the group discount rate, and your children will have a place they can regularly fellowship each month.


 

That concludes my list of frugal homeschool field trips that we’ve enjoyed over the years. This list is not at all-comprehensive, but it does include the field trips I can remember off-hand—and also the ones I remembered to document on camera. If this is your first homeschool year and you’re feeling a way about not taking enough field trips, please know this wasn’t our reality our first year either. It took time for us to find a homeschool community we could feel a part of. However, not being plugged in didn’t stop us from enjoying family adventures of our own. I do hope this list inspires you to make the most of your homeschool experience.

Until next time, friends…

 

Realistic Ways My Kids Stay Entertained

5 Realistic Ways My Kids Stay Entertained During Winter Break

Winter break is here and with it enters the dreadful question, “How on earth am I going to keep my children entertained?” Trust me, as a momma to two young boys, I know this dilemma all too well. But before you allow the television to takeover this winter break, I want to share some alternative ideas to help balance out the inevitable screen-time while helping to keep those little minds sharp.  These methods work so well for our household. Even better? They are realistic and require very little effort on your part. So, let’s get into it, shall we?

5 Realistic Ways My Kids Stay Entertained During Winter Break

 

  1. Read, Read, and Read Some More! For leisure, that is! We all know that reading is fundamental, but why? For starters, reading improves cognitive development in children—that is, your child’s ability to process and recall information, solve problems, and make decisions. It’s easy to see that reading is a great exercise for the brain, but did you also know reading can reduce your child’s stress levels and improve their vocabulary and concentration? More reasons to visit your local library this winter break and let ‘em loose! Books we love? Basically, anything Pete the Cat, Frog and Toad, and Mo Willems related. Don’t have readers or book lovers? Try audiobooks!

 

  1. Break Out the Paint Supplies. If you’ve never heard about the benefits of painting, allow me to inform you. Obviously, painting encompasses a multitude of creative benefits, but it can also provide therapeutic benefits for children and provide them a platform to better communicate their emotions. Even more? Painting helps children develop decision-making skills and it increases the mobility skills necessary for mental and physical development. My boys have been loving their paint therapy sessions! I can’t believe how long this activity actually keeps them quiet.

 

  1. Control Screen-Time. Let’s not act like screen-time isn’t going to happen for most of us. But you don’t have to feel entirely guilty about giving your child a tablet and sending them to their room. Instead of letting them spend hours watching YouTube videos of other kids playing with toys (Please tell me my kids aren’t the only weirdos that do this, haha), make your children a playlist of educational YouTube channels that are parent-approved. Here are some YouTube videos we love! Additionally, Schoolhouse Rock videos have become a favorite around here.

 

  1. Give Brainteasers a Try. Puzzles, mazes, and riddles are fun ways for children to challenge their cognitive thought processes. In short, these games can help reduce boredom and improve concentration, memory, and brain strength. Education.com is a great resource for all things games, mazes, and puzzles for all ages. I’ve talked about how helpful Education.com has been to our homeschool in the past (Read about it here), so it’s a pleasure to feature this resource in today’s post. Since my boys love brainteasers, we’re excited to download additional resources at Education.com to help combat winter break boredom. Check out their sample activity below and get in on the fun! Although this is a partnership, all opinions are my own. 

Education.com Maze
Splash around and help our little sea friends find their way home! Check out additional games and resources at Education.com! FREE Download! Get the answer key.

5. Learn a new skill. Whether it’s baking, origami, playing an instrument, or exploring a new sport, every child has an interest they don’t mind spending hours mastering. School breaks are the perfect time to challenge your child to learn something new. The key is to set realistic goals. A checklist of goodies to bake, perhaps, or learn how to play a song on the keyboard. My second-grader has taken it upon himself to learn about computer programing, so he checked out some books from the library and started taking virtual courses with Khan Academy to learn the basics. Whatever they choose, it should be totally up to them—and fun!


 

I hope everyone enjoys their winter break! I want to end by saying that learning should not only be fun but a way of life that inspires children beyond the classroom. At least that’s how we see it!  And now it’s your turn: What are your winter break tips? Let us know in the comments. And, P.S. it’s okay to say your winter break tip is to simply survive, haha. We get you!

Classroom Tour

Homeschool Classroom Tour

I wanted to wait until I had better images to make this post. But, alas, here we are. Sometimes you just have to use what you have.

I mentioned on my Instagram that I would be sharing my classroom with all of you and that’s what I’ll be doing today. Yes, I know, it’s not Tuesday. Consider this a bonus post!

{ Note: See Should I Have a Homeschool Room? Updated Classroom Tour to see what our classroom looks like now.}

First, many of you have come to know our previous classroom and you may be wondering why we switched rooms and redecorated. The answer to that question is the space we were using as a classroom was actually our office. It worked well for us for the first two years, but we really needed a separate space where we wouldn’t be interrupted by people coming in and out to use the copy machine, printer, and desktop. There are lots of businesses run in this house!

The solution was to turn the boys’ room into a classroom. I considered the boy’s room wasted space since they only sleep there. They usually play outside or in the family room. Aside from that, their room is super bright with tons of space. So, this past summer I redecorated their room to fit our classroom needs. The first thing I did was purchase a room divider to hide away their bunkbed and provide a private reading nook. My boys absolutely LOVE having these curtain dividers in their room. It’s like sleeping in a fort! Room dividers for spaces larger than 122 inches can be found on Amazon.

Classroom Decor
I transformed these LEGO bed sheets into divider curtains using clip rings. That’s it!
Classroom Decor
These LEGO curtain dividers close completely across our 124″ space. Separating the sleeping area from the rest of the room.

Pictured below is the view of our classroom when you first walk in. You can see the two windows that offer plenty of bright sunlight. I went for valances rather than curtains because curtains make the room seem cluttered and dark. I chose folding desks for a similar reason. Since the desks are not bulky and have an open back, they make the space appear more open. These desks also fold flat should we need to store them away for any reason. My favorite feature is that they have USB ports and AC plugins to keep laptops and tablets charged.

As far as decor, I’m no designer on HGTV. The goal was to keep the decor minimal and functional. Therefore, I only hung posters that we would actually use. Aside from the LEGO curtains, which make the room look fun and lively, I’ve also put up some geography posters that accompany our curriculum, basic math charts (which can be found for FREE at my store), and a big solar system informational poster. You can say this is our science and math corner.

Classroom Decor
Our homeschool classroom offers plenty of sunlight. Here is the view when you first walk in.
Classroom Decor
This is what our homeschool classroom looked like on the first day of school. I added some borders for an extra touch.

Let’s dive into the reading corner. There’s not much going on here. I placed a comfy brown chair in this corner, which I purchased from Target years ago. I placed the chair by the window for optimal lighting. My mother made the beautiful colorful crochet blanket hanging over the chair, which matches our classroom beautifully. Beneath the chair is a  transportation themed rug by Melissa and Doug. The boys received this rug as a Christmas gift last year from a loved one. It fits perfectly into the space.

I originally wanted a sign that says “Reading Corner,” but couldn’t find one that fit our classroom. I opted for letter decals instead. The letter decals that spell out “Read Books” are from Target and I just love the subtle pizzaz they add to this corner of the room. And speaking of books, I placed a blue book bin beside the chair and filled it with some of our favorites. Most of our books are paperback so we can stack many of them into this bin. We also have an excellent library that allows us to check out up to 50 books at a time, which is where our primary resources come from.

Classroom Decor Reading Corner
Our reading corner hosts a comfy chair by the window with a basket full of our favorite books.

Pictured below I have our work corner.  I placed a ten-drawer organizer for each child’s workload next to the window. The organizers are from Amazon. The first drawer houses our devotional materials. The second drawer houses their reading curriculum. Spelling and language arts are placed in the third and fourth drawers. The fifth drawer houses their arithmetic curriculum. The sixth and seventh drawers are reserved for science and geography. Lastly, the eighth drawer is for their handwriting curriculum. I reserved the last two drawers for school supplies.

Above the organizers are height charts for each child. We will measure their height in the Fall, Winter, and Spring to see how much they’ve grown. Next to the organizers is a ten-pocket pocket chart. This pocket chart is also from Amazon. We like to use this pocket chart to house weekly spelling and vocabulary words for my second-grader. At the very bottom of the chart is where my 4-year-old does sight word practice.

Classroom Decor
A view of our homeschool classroom from the reading corner.

Okay, let’s talk about the view of the classroom from the desks. One of the main attractions here is our dry-erase board purchased from, you’ve guessed it…Amazon! This is where I do all of my oral lessons. The board came with an eraser, marker, tray (which houses my pointer), and magnets. Above the board are letter decals from Target that spell out “Welcome.” Hanging from the board is our daily tentative homeschool schedule. Lastly, next to the board is the boys’ morning to-do list, which I placed in a black frame. I also hang a picture of the students from Kampala, Uganda who are very dear to our hearts.

As you can see, most of the decor is very low because I wanted to keep everything at eye-level for my kids. That’s why I decided not to hang my kindergartner’s morning board, which is sitting beneath the whiteboard. I made this board to include everything I’d like my four-year-old to know fluently by the end of the year, outside of reading and math of course. It has a feelings emoji chart to help him put words to different emotions he may be experiencing, and a fruit of the spirit chart. Both charts are FREE to download at my store. I’ve also included a list of the days of the week and months of the year.

Classroom Decor
This is the view of our classroom from the desks.

Finally, we are coming full circle to the classroom entry. There’s not much going on here. To the left is the entry door. To the right is the bedroom closet. I bet you were wondering where the boy’s dresser is. Well, it’s a tall five drawer dresser that fits perfectly into the closet, with room to spare for hanging and storage. And where is their bed? Just behind the LEGO curtains!

The organizer pictured below is full of my teaching supplies. I do NOT allow my boys to have access to all the extra markers, pencils, stickers, etc. So this cart comes with ME at the end of the day! Otherwise, I’d wake up to dried out markers, stickers all over the walls, and all the paper in the notebooks used up. So yea, school supplies get rationed out. Lastly, I think EVERY teacher in the U.S. has the cute calendar from Target, pictured above the drawer organizer. The apple below it is also a calendar that comes with magnets for hands-on calendar fun.

Classroom Decor
The final view of our homeschool classroom.

So guys, I finally did it. I finally got this post out. I hope you enjoyed our classroom tour. Be sure to connect with me on Instagram for video footage of how we work in our classroom.

Before I go, I’d also like to mention that our boys LOVE their room like this. I love it, too. Especially the bright, cozy feel. And, of course, we don’t spend every waking day in here. Sometimes we like to have school downstairs in the dining room or even outside on the porch.

I want to know from you. What is your favorite place to do school work? Let us know in the comments!

 

 

 

 

Preschool Math Facts

Tot-School Tuesdays | Preschool Addition Facts

Welcome to Totschool Tuesday! If you’re new to this series, join me every Tuesday this month as I share what types of activities I do to prepare my three-year-old for the next phase in his education. Last week, I shared my “Number Matching” preschool busy box. This week, I want to share my “Preschool Math Facts” busy box.

 

What is a “busy box?” You may have heard of “busy bags”—that is, bags full of educational goodies designed to engage busy tots. My busy boxes are the same concept with a different storage solution. These 5×12 boxes are stored with activities that encourage fluency practice for everything from counting to phonics.

 Preschool Math

Last week, I shared that these boxes full of goodies make my preschooler feel like he’s receiving a gift each morning. And he is! The gift of learning, that is (*wink). However, another pro to these boxes is that they don’t have to be used for formal learning, per se. You can store them with loads of fun and interesting objects that encourage creative learning.

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So, what’s on the agenda for this week? Adding! We’ve reviewed counting, number recognition and matching, sequencing, and now it’s time to dabble with a little addition. We’ve reviewed addition many times before, but of course with young children, repetition is key to mastery.

 

This week’s busy box includes a Preschool Addition Facts worksheet, pony beads, fuzzy sticks, popsicle sticks, drawing paper, and three markers. All items can be purchased at Walmart or Dollar Tree. If you’re wondering why I only offer three markers at a time, it’s because my three-year-old is learning to place the caps back onto them. We’ve had one too many dried-out markers!

   Preschool Addition Facts

As always, we like to complete our worksheet first. I include worksheets in these boxes because I can save and keep records of them to track my three-year-old’s progress. This week, I’m offering these simple, yet fun, Preschool Addition Facts worksheets for FREE at Nike Anderson’s Classroom. Head on over to take advantage!

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Next, we have a little “adding” fun with our pony beads and fuzzy sticks. Using the worksheet as my guide, I prepared seven fuzzy sticks by adding the exact number of beads to match the number of crayons on the left side of the worksheet. My preschooler then adds more beads to the fuzzy sticks, matching the number of crayons on the right side of the worksheet. This illustration ensures he internalizes the concept that adding two numbers together means the total sum is “more.”

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We take the same concept of our pony beads illustration and apply it to the popsicle sticks. Using different manipulatives helps a child internalize that the sum of one set of numbers will be the same regardless of the objects used. Therefore, 3 popsicle sticks plus 2 popsicle sticks will equal 5 popsicle sticks, just as 3 beads plus 2 beads will equal 5 beads.

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Lastly, I must include markers and drawing paper for some freestyling fun. To make the most of this busy box, your preschooler can try categorizing the pony beads by color, count how many beads each color group has, and then determine which group has the greatest and least number of beads. Or, he can make a popsicle stick masterpiece (if you include Elmer’s glue in the box), make their own bracelets with the pony beads and fuzzy sticks, or simply decorate the popsicle sticks using markers. 

 Preschool Math Facts

Download your FREE Preschool Addition Facts worksheet, here!

 Preschool Math

Don’t forget to grab these latest FREEBIES at Nike Anderson’s Classroom!

I Can Count!

Number Matching and Sequencing

 

See you next week!

Tot-School Tuesdays | “I Can Count” Busy Box

Whether you’re a homeschool mom, a preschool teacher, or have a toddler at home preparing for pre-k, finding engaging activities to help your child learn can prove challenging. There are a ton of resources available for what I like to call “tot-school.” However, I wanted to share what I personally do with my three-year-old to keep his little hands “busy” while preparing him to move forward in his education.

 
You may have heard of “busy bags”—that is, bags full of educational goodies designed to engage busy tots. But, allow me to introduce you to my “busy boxes.” These boxes are simply 5×12 boxes stored with activities that encourage fluency practice for everything from counting to phonics. We even have some STEM activities and “just for fun” activities stored in these boxes.

 
This month, I’ll be sharing some of our busy boxes with you in a series called Tot-school Tuesdays! First up is our “I Can Count” busy box. This box includes a worksheet, a foam sheet, foam letters, three markers, pony beads, a fizzy stick, paint, a stamper, a stamper sheet, and an apron. Everything, except the apron, was purchased from Walmart. The apron is from Lowes and they offer them for free when your child attends a Build & Grow workshop.

 

Our box is designed to practice numbers 11-20 (he forgets numbers 14 and 16). Each day will have a target number. Today, we worked on number 11.


We like to work on the worksheet together, first. These worksheets are available for FREE at Nike Anderson’s Classroom. Print them in color or black and white. These worksheets help with practice in the following areas:

  • Number recognition (0-20).
  • Number name recognition (zero-twenty).
  • Handwriting (with tracing guides).
  • Counting (0-20).

Next, my three-year-old practices spelling out the number name using foam letters. He personally likes spelling the name on his worksheet first because it offers a guide on where each letter should go. He will then spell the number name on the foam pad. These letters do have adhesive on the back of them, but we chose not to peel the contact paper so that we can keep reusing the letters for future activities.

Placing pony breads on fuzzy sticks is probably one of his favorite activities, so I had to include it in this box. For this activity, my three-year-old will count out the pony beads per the number of the day. Today, he counted out 11 and is placing them onto the fuzzy stick. Of course, I include extra pony beads for him to enjoy after his counting assignment!

Fun Preschool Counting Activities

The very last activity is the messiest because it involves a paint stamper! If you don’t want things to get too messy, purchase an ink stamper. I also include some ideas in my FREE “I Can Count” resource. We use a paint stamper because my three-year-old typically likes to continue to paint after the assignment. And what’s the assignment? Today, he had to stamp his stamper 11 times on his “I Can Count” sheet. I also gave him extra paper for more painting fun!

Fun Activities for Preschool

On average, this busy box has a “busy average” in our home of approximately 1 hour (When the allotted paint has been all used up!). I want to mention that you don’t have to “oversee” your child, you can simply give it to them for fun if they are too young to really understand any of it. I hope this busy box has given you some great ideas for keeping your little one engaged! See you next Tuesday for some more totschooling ideas!

Get Your FREE “I Can Count” Preschool Prep Worksheet, Here!

I Can Count Worksheets

Looking for more resources? Visit me at Nike Anderson’s Classroom!

Nike Anderson's Classroom

Solar Oven for Kids

How to Make a Solar Oven

For those of you who’ve seen this experiment on my Instagram page and wanted to know how it’s done, here you go! I can’t take credit for this wonderful experiment, as it was suggested to us by the book, Curious George Discovers the Sun by PBS Kids. For more fun projects like this one, check this book out!

This week in science class, we are learning about the weather, forces, and energy. We learned that many things like cars, ovens, and even the lights in our homes can be powered by the sun in a process called solar energy. What we created today is called a solar powered oven. And, yes! It can really warm up food, or even cook it! In fact, people used the sun to cook food for hundreds of years!

So how does it work? Well, you’ll need a pizza box, some foil, and plastic wrap. When the pizza box is lined with aluminum foil, it attracts the sun’s heat. When the opening is lined with plastic wrap, the plastic traps the heat and warms the oven. The plastic also reflects light from the foil, which brings heat to whatever food you plan to cook in the oven.

We decided to take the book’s suggestion and make s’mores, but you can cook whatever you’d like. Read below for detailed instructions and more pictures.

What You’ll Need

 Scroll Down For Directions!

 Directions

 We decorated our pizza box to add to the fun!

Have you tried the solar oven? Let us know in the comments below!


Have you heard about my online store? For free and low-cost resources, check out Nike Anderson’s Classroom!