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

Expedition: Aquarium

We recently visited Salt Lake’s Living Planet Aquarium.  There’s just nothing like taking a day off of school for a learning expedition.  {Sometimes Mom needs the break as much as the kids do!}  Besides just the break though, expeditions outside of the regular ol’ school day are the most memorable learning experiences we’ve had.  Kids learn when they DO.  They will remember so well the things they really live, so get out there and live!  Experience!  Break away from the books now and again!  We aren’t even studying fish right now, but you know, sometimes that doesn’t matter.  Igniting excitement for learning and creating a memorable experience is enough of a reason for heading out on a learning expedition. I thought you might want to go along on a little photo tour of our expedition. . . hope you enjoy. After our expeditions are over, we often make something to … click to read more

Library Activities

A friend of mine once told me that she won’t take her kids to library because letting them handle all those books other people have touched just seems dirty.  SHOCK.  AWE.  Seriously?  Never in my life had I considered the library to be dirty.  It makes me feel quite the opposite.  Something about mountains of shelves full of thousands of books makes me feel all warm and hopeful, a little lovey even.  We try not to let a week go by without an outing to the library.  It’s our favorite, and most often made expedition. How To Make A Library Outing Fun I do a couple of things to make it stay fun for my kids: 1.  I allow us plenty of time to peruse, play, do any activities they have, and just browse through all those glorious books.  Ours has a little puppet theater and computer stations, so it … click to read more

Virtual Expeditions

Part of the Layers of Learning style of learning includes expeditions.  There is nothing like a field trip to bring learning to life and make it memorable.  I love field trips just like the next mom, but a weekly field trip just isn’t in the cards for my family.  We are busy people with a lot of commitments.  I want my kids to experience the world, and we make a valiant effort to have that happen, but we need to fill in the gaps when there just isn’t the time or money available for a big field trip or vacation.  Luckily, with this interconnected world we live in, you can see a lot of places right from your living room.  At our house, we call them “armchair expeditions,” but you probably know them as virtual expeditions or virtual field trips.  15 Cool Virtual Expeditions Here are 15 cool ones to … click to read more

A Trip To The Ocean

This week we’re heading out on a family camping trip to the Pacific Ocean. We’ve been doing all sorts of things to get ready. We’ve mapped out a plan of our trip and where we want to go, made lists of fun things to do, and learned about the area’s geography, wildlife, weather, and even a little history. We’ve also planned games, menus, and gathered our equipment. It would be a whole lot easier for Mom and Dad to just do the planning and bring the kiddos along, but then no real learning would happen. Instead, we’ve let our kids really take ownership of our trip. They each get to choose some of our excursions and be “the leader” those days. They are each in charge of planning out the food and cooking on certain days. They have also each made a list of goals for the trip. My son, … click to read more

Expedition: Saltwater in the Salt Flats

We live in the desert in Utah; well, the salt flats to be exact.  That’s over 500 miles from the nearest ocean.  Yet we found out about this amazing place here – a natural spring in the middle of the desert that has exactly the salinity of the ocean in it.  You may think it’s somehow related to the Great Salt Lake, but they aren’t at all connected.  The Great Salt Lake actually has a MUCH HIGHER salinity than the ocean. The natural saltwater spring, called Sea Base, has been stocked with all kinds of ocean animals – clownfish, tuna, and many other tropical fish.  There are also stingrays and even sharks.  My husband and I just got scuba certified and went to the springs for some of our dives, so we decided to take the whole family out there to see the cool fish. You can feed the nurse … click to read more

David Thompson: Cartographer

David Thompson was a Canadian explorer, surveyor, and map maker of the early 1800’s.  He is known as the greatest land geographer who ever lived.  The natives of the North American continent knew him as Koo-Koo-Sint, “Star-Gazer”. Born in England in 1770, he was poor and attended a charity school until the age of fourteen.  Having shown an aptitude for mathematics he was apprenticed at this time to the Hudson’s Bay Company as a clerk and apprentice surveyor and left England for Canada, never to return. While still in his apprenticeship he broke his leg badly and took two years to recuperate, during which he was stuck at the company headquarters.  The company surveyor took this opportunity to teach the bright young man more about surveying skills, mathematics, reading the stars, and map making.  Thompson showed great aptitude and learned his lessons well.  After his training was over he went to work for Hudson’s Bay Company as a surveyor, but not  liking … click to read more

A Simple Machines Hunt At The Hardware Store

This is an easy no-need-to-plan-ahead expedition.  Head over to your local hardware store and challenge the kids to find some simple machines. Simple machines work for us so we don’t have to.  Think of a wheelbarrow– its wheel and axle make it possible for us to lift and move heavy loads without as much effort.  The pulley on a flagpole allows us to post the colors without climbing the pole.  Just this weekend I used the wedge side of a sledgehammer to pry up some tile on my kitchen floor.  Simple machines make work easier, and the hardware store is full of them. Look for examples of these: pulleys (use grooved wheels and a rope to raise, lower, or move a load) levers (a stiff bar that rests on a fulcrum to lift or move loads) wedges (an object with at least one slanting side that ends in a sharp edge) wheel … click to read more

Armchair Expeditions

My husband is an airline pilot so we’ve been fortunate to take our kids to a lot of neat places. We’ve taken them to swim with Manatees, visited the tide pools on the Washington Coast, visited Yellowstone, toured San Francisco, been to Sea World, and this week we’re headed to the Alamo to see some more history hands-on. I love that we’ve been able to provide these learning opportunities for our kids so close up, but unfortunately, it’s just not always feasible to pack everyone up and take them on a long-distance field trip every time we’re studying something. (Especially if you consider that we have four kids, 8 and under, and the youngest is just a month old!) We’ve been studying Africa lately, but I don’t have it in me to travel there with the kiddos, so instead we went on an “armchair expedition.” Just write out some little … click to read more

A Trip To The Museum (and almost the zoo)

This week we took our kids to a museum at a university near our town. It’s a life science museum that is filled with “stuffed animals” from around the world. They have everything from an elephant to tiny insects and everything in between. We spent several hours there. Besides just walking around, we also watched several of the display videos, read the informational plaques to the kids, and did lots of talking. We compared species, discussed habitats, and examined food chains. We were amazed at the shear number and diversity of the animal exhibits. We imagined what kind of animal we would create if we could. A museum is well worth taking the time to seek out. Most communities have some type. Around us there are several museums that celebrate a variety of topics– the history of our town, our geographical region, dinosaurs, art, trains, and various sciences. The adults … click to read more