Children’s Garden

Several weeks ago my two youngest kids went out in the backyard with rakes and began to clear away the detritus from underneath some trees right by our back patio.  We’ve attempted to make it into a garden several times, but never had proper soil.  The weeds of north Idaho defeated us.  My laziness defeated us. But after the boys spent a couple of days raking and planning and picking up sticks and pulling weeds I didn’t have the heart to tell them I couldn’t be bothered.  So my husband went to some friends who have horses and got manure and I went to the garden store with the boys and picked out some plants. Getting the Grown-ups Involved We talked about annuals vs. perennials.  We also discussed how the area where they had planned their garden was shaded by some large poplar trees and so we would need shade … click to read more

Our Snowman Breakfast

We had a special snowman breakfast at Grandpa and Grandma’s house. Our Snowman Breakfast The set-up was very simple.  I just used a torquoise plastic tablecloth and darker blue plates and utensils.  I drew simple snowman faces on each white paper cup.  The cups were my favorite part.  Love them.  Each plate had a die and a roll-a-snowman game at it as well. I also put a little snowman figurine in the center of the table.  He was not only a centerpiece, but also the star of our Hide The Snowman game after our snowman breakfast was over. Each person got their own snowman shaped pancake to decorate with M&M’s, both mini and regular sized. Roll-A-Snowman Game After we finished our pancakes we played the roll-a-snowman game.  It’s not a competitive game, just an artistic one.  We sometimes play it for hours, making all different combinations of cute little snowman … click to read more

Hand Painted Christmas Mugs

We made these hand painted Christmas mugs with our kids several years ago. We get them out every Christmas and use them for drinking hot cocoa on special occasions during the Christmas season. Here’s how we did it: We started with some plain white mugs from the dollar store, one for each member of our family. We washed them, running them through the dishwasher once to get rid of any factory residue. We bought special paints intended for ceramics.  We checked carefully to be sure the paint we chose was food safe.  The paint linked to is non toxic, but I would still use it only on surfaces that are not directly touched by food and mouths. Then we pretreated the area where we were going to paint with a conditioner that is sold with the paint we bought. (Some paints don’t need pretreating.  Follow the directions on the packaging.) … click to read more

Homeschool P.E.

Most homeschoolers don’t really do P.E..  P.E. seems to be one of those things that just gets left out of homeschool pretty often; it’s just one more thing to do in an already busy day for mom and kids.  Even though it requires some effort, I’ve found that not only do my kids really enjoy it, but it also wakes them up a bit when we’ve done a lot of studying or sitting still.  It has become one of the BEST time of our homeschool day.  Getting moving gets our brains jumpstarted. Here’s What We Do For P.E.: We spend about a half hour to an hour (if it’s an outing) every afternoon doing P.E., which at our house just means active play, fun, and exercise. We often go to the park down the street, . . . or rollerblade in the driveway. My kids love to go to the skate … click to read more

How To Can Applesauce

Our apple tree produced abundantly and so I made applesauce.  I make a variety of flavors, including red hot applesauce (my absolute FAVORITE).  Here’s how to can applesauce step by step: 1. Dump your apples into a big tub of water or a filled sink to rinse off the dirt.  If they are commercial apples they probably have chemicals that need to be washed off as well.  They don’t need to be perfect apples.  You can see plenty of imperfections in mine, but they make perfect applesauce even if they aren’t perfectly beautiful apples. 2. If you can buy or borrow one, this apple sauce mill makes the job absolutely easy.  With the mill you can just quarter the apples and once they’re cooked the mill automatically separates out the peel, seeds, and stem.  If you don’t have a mill you have to peel and core the apples before you … click to read more

Five Family Summertime Games

Three cheers for summer!  I love our relaxed schedule in the summertime.  We learn things all year long, but we definitely ease off of formal school time during the summer to give ourselves some recharging time.  Not only do we all need a little break, but I also need some extra planning time before we officially kick off another homeschool year. My kids are pretty good at entertaining themselves, but if they start to bust out with the “I’m bored!” bits, I like to have some handy dandy game ideas lurking in the back of my head to keep them busy.  It’s so fun that we all like to join in.  I’m convinced that grown-ups don’t play enough.  I have never regretted an hour spent playing out in the yard with my family.  Good times. Here are five summertime games our whole family loves.  You should try ’em too. Balloon … click to read more

A Tree For The Birds

My kids have been playing in the snow every afternoon lately.  It’s been cold and blustery, but it doesn’t slow them down much. We’ve noticed that there is a family of little birds in our front yard too.  They were too shy to have their pictures taken, but they are flitting around here and singing their little winter songs. We decided to give them a little winter treat.  Yep, we’d trim a tree for the birds.  We started by making a popcorn and cranberry garland.  Then we gathered some pinecones and spread peanut butter all over them. And then rolled them in birdseed. We tied a string around each one so it could hang on the branches of our tree for the birds. Then we went to work on some birdseed ornaments.  We mixed up some birdseed batter. It’s made by combining 1/2 cup water, 2 Tbsp. corn syrup, 3/4 … click to read more

Halloween Wood Crafts You Can Make With Your Kids

I love turning my house into holiday wonderland with every holiday that comes along.  We’ve been getting ready for Halloween at our house lately.  I love making wood crafts, and my kids get right in and help me.  They love working with real tools and real supplies, and they are totally capable.  Each of these Halloween wood crafts are made basically with wood, paint, and vinyl.   I have several saws in our shed, and my oldest son (12 years old) knows how to run the saws and helps me do the cutting.  My daughters (6 and 10 years old) help me with the painting.  We just put on paint clothes, get out the paints and sponge brushes, and go to town.  Most of these have solid colored paint designs you’ll notice.  Toll painting might not be doable for my little ones, but they can certainly help me paint solid … click to read more

Cooking With Kids

I love cooking with kids. Most of the time. Okay, well most of the time I love it when my kids just stay out of the kitchen so I can get dinner on the table before bedtime. But when I DO make the effort to plan ahead and let the littlies help me out, it ends up being really fun almost all the time. More importantly, cooking with kids teaches them to make and EAT healthy food. Kids are much more likely to try new foods they’ve helped prepare than if you just put something “weird” in front of them. Here’s my daughter, Elizabeth, ROCKIN’ and ROLLIN’ out some dough all on her own.  At nine, she can now cook quite a few meals all on her own. A few tips to make the kid-chef experience more enjoyable for all: 1. CLEAN, THEN COOK. Before kids should cook they should … click to read more

Homemade Slime

Making slime is one my kids’ favorite activities.  It’s really quick and impossible to mess up.  You just need a few basic supplies – glue, liquid starch, and food coloring.  We used two kinds of glue (white school glue and clear glue) so we could make two versions of slime. To make it, you just add equal parts glue and starch.  We don’t measure.  It’s not an exact science.  For each color you want you’ll need a separate bowl of glue and starch mixture.   My kids add all the ingredients themselves.  They can make it start to finish without any help.  My son poured the starch into the glue bottle so he would have about equal parts without having to dirty my measuring cups. Next you just add a few drops of whatever color of food coloring you would like your slime to be.  Here’s my youngest adding his … click to read more