Thursday, June 21, 2018

6 Awesome Chapter Book Series For Young Girls

One of the things I'm most proud of this homeschool year, is how much my daughter's reading has improved. She moved from reading mostly simple children's picture books and EZ readers to reading whole chapter books!

In this post I will share 6 great chapter book series for young girls, all approved by my daughter.



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Billie B. Brown





The Billie B. Brown series by Sally Rippin was my daughter's very first favorite chapter book series. It's about a spunky little girl named Billie who likes soccer and hanging out with her best friend Jack.

(Jack also has his own series if your looking for a fun early chapter book series for boys.)

The language is pretty simple, the text size is big, and it has lots of cute illustrations, making it a great series for making the transition from picture books to chapter books.





Fairy Ponies





The Fairy Ponies series by Zanna Davidson is about a young girl named Holly who discovers a secret world full of magical flying ponies. 

The illustrations in this series are just gorgeous! 









Judy Moody





The Judy Moody series by Megan McDonald is one of my daughter's newer favorites. This series is about a feisty little girl named Judy. Judy is opinionated and sometimes moody but also sweet and charming. 






The Little House Collection





Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House Collection is one of my all time favorite series from my childhood and my daughter loves them as well. 

Written about her childhood as a pioneer on the great plains of the American midwest, Laura's Little House books are a beautiful look at life in the late 1800's.





Nancy Clancy






The Nancy Clancy books by Jane O'Connor are a chapter book series staring Nancy from the Fancy Nancy picture book series. My daughter loves the Fancy Nancy picture books so moving on to the Nancy Clancy chapter books was an easy transition. She was excited to have some longer more in debth stories about one of her favorite characters.

In this series, Nancy is now in 3rd grade and stars her and her best friend Bree.




Princess Ponies





Princess Ponies by Chloe Ryder is another series about a secret magical pony land. This series is about a little girl named Pippa who has been recruited to help save the magical land of Chevalia. Along with the pony princess, she must find the 8 stolen magical horseshoes before it's too late. 


Each book in the series comes with a horseshoe charm for a charm bracelet. 





What are some of your favorite series for young girls?



If you enjoyed this post, check out:

-My Favorite Children's Picture Books

-8 Activities Inspired By Farmer Boy

-9 Activities Inspired By On The Banks Of Plum Creek






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Monday, June 18, 2018

Homeschool Curriculum and Resources: My Top Picks

We use very little pre made curriculum, as I build most of our curriculum myself to tailor suit my kid's individual interests and needs, but there is a really awesome history curriculum and a science kit series that we have really come to love. In this post I will share my top curriculum and science kit picks plus my favorite free online homeschooling resources.


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Evan Moor History Pockets:



We absolutely love the Evan Moor History Pockets because they come with tons of hands on lesson plans. They can be used to supplement another history curriculum that's maybe lacking in the hands on department or as a stand alone curriculum. Each one covers a particular history topic. 

For grades 1-3 they offer:
Life in Plymouth Colony
Ancient Civilizations 
Native Americans





For grades 4-6 they offer:

The American Revolution 
The American Civil War
Colonial America 
Explores of North America 
Moving West
Ancient Rome
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Greece


Each one is divided into several subtopics. Students make a construction paper pocket folder for each subtopic where the information packet and finished activities are stored. At the end it's all put together to make a booklet.

Here's a look at a few of our favorite activities from the Native Americans and Life In Plymouth Colony booklets:


Tlinget Mask




Keeping Room Diorama 

Pilgrim Puppets


Vocabulary word flip book




Here's a look at a finished pocket:








The Magic School Bus Science Kits:


The Magic School Bus Science Kits from The Young Scientists Club are really fun. They're designed for elementary school aged kids and come in a variety of topics. They generally come with almost everything you need to do the activities other than basic school supplies like scissors, glue, tape, etc...

Our favorites so far have been :

The World Of Germs which came with almost everything needed for 10 really awesome experiments and activities about bacteria and fungi, including several experiments where we got to grow bacteria on agar in petri dishes!




And Back In Time With Dinosaurs. With this kit we learned about herbivores, omnivores, and carnivores, and explored the differences in their types of teeth. We made a dinosaur diorama and a timeline of when different types of dinosaurs lived. We also learned about paleontologists and made our own fossils.






I ordered their Human Body kit for next year and it looks great. We're excited to try it out!

These kits aren't really designed to be a stand alone curriculum but are a great addition to any science curriculum or with some good library books and a little online research they can be used as the base for building your own simple curriculum. 



Free Online Resources:


Learn French With Alexa:

Learn French With Alexa is a great YouTube series that teaches begining French. It's totally free on YouTube and her lessons are great! Once you've mastered the free beginners series, you can go on and purchase her intermediate lessons for a pretty affordable price if you want to.

SciShow Kids:

SciShow kids is another awesome YouTube series and it's all about science. They cover topics from fungi and other lifeforms to things like weather and what makes boats float. We often incorporate their videos into our science lessons. 

Ducksters:

Ducksters is a really great educational site for kids that covers lots of science, history, and geography topics. It's become one of our favorite sites for gathering information. 

We love Ducksters because the information is presented in an easy to understand, kid friendly way. Also many of the topics have interactive quizes at the end for students who like to be quizzed.

Starfall:

This one isn't completely free but sort of. Starfall is an awesome site that provides tons of interactive learning games and activities for kids preschool through mid elementary school age. My daughter loves the math games.

They have a free edition but it only gives you access to part of the site. For $35 a year you can purchase a membership to get full access, this is definitely worth doing in my opinion. 





If you enjoyed this post, check out:

-Homeschooling on a Budget

-What Homeschooling Looks Like For Us: The Preschool and Kindergarten Years





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Thursday, June 14, 2018

Toothpick Gumdrop Geometry

We recently did a fun engineering activity building towers out of toothpicks and gumdrops. The kids loved it and spent a good portion of our morning building. While watching them, I came up with a simple hands on geometry lesson using the same materials.

In this post I will share a fun hands on way to teach geometric shapes and the difference between 2D and 3D shapes.







Toothpick Gumdrop Geometry:


For this activity you will need:

-Toothpicks

-Gumdrops



Using the toothpicks as sides and gumdrops to fasten them at the corners, have your child build some of the familiar 2D shapes like a square, a rectangle, a triangle, a trapezoid, and a parallelogram.



You can also build some of the 2 D shapes with more sides like pentagons, hexagons, octagons, and decagons.







Then try to build some of the 3D shapes like a cube, a rectangular prism, a triangular prism, and a pyramid.







Extend The Learning:


Learn more about geometric shapes from these online resources: 

3D Shapes from HomeschoolPop.com

2D Shapes from TutorVista.com

Common 3D Shapes from Math Is Fun

3D Shapes I Know from Harry Kindergarten Music




If you enjoyed this post, check out:

Hands On Fractions

Aluminum Foil Boat STEM Activity

The Egg Drop STEM Challenge



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Monday, June 11, 2018

5 Reasons To Let Your Kids Go Barefoot


I'm always surprised by how many concerned comments we get from well meaning strangers when my kids are barefoot in public. Comments like "Be careful, there are sharp rocks out here" or "Ouch, don't the wood chips hurt their feet?" I know these people mean well and are genuinely concerned but their concern is misplaced. Going barefoot has many benefits and wearing shoes too often can actually be damaging.


In this post I will share 5 ways going barefoot is beneficial for children (and adults too).


#thebarefootmom




Proper Foot And Leg Development:


Wearing shoes affects the way a person steps. It requires using different sets of muscles differently than walking barefoot. Over time this can affect the development of the foot and leg muscles.

Modern shoes are constricting. Over time they can actually change the shape of a person's feet. Shoes can squish the bones of the feet together, affecting toe spread and arch. 

Flat feet are rare in places where shoes are seldom worn. Toe spread is also much wider in these areas than in their shoe wearing counterparts. Wearing shoe's can cause a narrowing of the feet, not unlike the Chinese practice of foot binding. 

Essentially, wearing shoes too often, especially while the feet are still growing can literally deform a person's feet.







Enhance Proprioception:


Proprioception is the sense of where your body and it's individual components are in respect to each other and the world around them.

There are important feedback loops between the muscles of the feet and lower legs and the brain. These interactions result in important behavoirs like adjusting stride length and foot placement as you walk or run. Shoes can interfere with these feedback loops since they absorb shock and dull sensation. 

Going barefoot increases body awareness, increasing agility, posture, and balance.


Improve The Senses:


There are over 200,000 nerve endings in the soles of our feet, one of the highest concentrations in the body. This is for good reason, increased sensory input allows us to move more carefully and better adapt to the terrain under our feet.



#thebarefootmom



 Boost The Immune System:


Contrary to popular belief, going barefoot does not increase your exposure to dangerous bacteria and fungi. Shoes provide the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and fungi. Going barefoot gives your feet plenty of exposure to fresh air which helps inhibit bacterial and fungal growth. 

Infact, going barefoot may actually boost the immune system. According to a report published in The Journal of Environmental and Public Health, walking barefoot decreases white blood cell count while increasing red blood cell count, indicating a positive immune response. 


Connect With Nature:


Walking barefoot helps kids connect with nature and develop a respect for the planet.

When we walk barefoot our bodies absorb the Earth's free electrons. Free electrons are a well established antioxidant that help neutralize damaging free radicals, thus reducing inflammation. 

When we walk barefoot we literally absorb the Earth's energy. It can help stabilize circadian rhythms, reduce stress, and increase energy. It's really pretty amazing! 






Sources:

-Barefoot vs common footwear:  a systematic review of kinematic, kinetic, and muscle activity differences while walking: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0966636215004993



-Earthing: health implications of reconnecting the human body to the Earth's surface elections: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3265077/


Thursday, June 7, 2018

Aluminum Foil Boat STEM Activity

We love STEM activities in this house. My oldest is definitely a hands on learner so we try to incorporate a lot of hands on activities into our homeschool days.

In this post I will share instructions and resources for a really fun STEM activity we did recently: Aluminum Foil Boats!


#thebarefootmom


Learning About Boats And Buoyancy:


Before we got started on our own boats we spent some time learning about boats and researching how boats float. Here are a few good resources we found:

Why Do Ships Float? from SciShow Kids

How Do Boats Float? from Fun Kids Inspiring Engineers 

How Boats Float from Boat Safe Kids


I also did a quick Google Image search so we could look at pictures of different types and shapes of boats.



Building And Testing Aluminum Foil Boats:


Once we felt like we had a good understanding of what a boat needs to look like to float, I challenged my kids to design and build their own boats out of aluminum foil. 





My 7 year old decided to make a row boat shaped boat, a canoe, and two different types of rafts. My toddler just had fun playing with the foil.







When they were done, I had my daughter write a quick hypothesis about which boat she thought would float best and hold the most weight. Then we filled up the kiddie pool in the backyard and tested them out!

We added pennies to see how much weight each boat could hold and recorded it in a notebook. My daughter's row boat shaped boat held the most weight. It held 90 pennies.







After we were finished my daughter wrote a short conclusion in her notebook and we talked about why we thought the rowboat shape worked best. Our thoughts are it's wide bottom makes it more stable than the canoe shape and it's high sides allow it to displace more water than the raft shape.



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Monday, June 4, 2018

Nature Stamping


I love art and craft activities that incorporate nature. In this post I will share instructions for a fun art activity we did recently: nature stamping!



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For this activity you will need:

-White or light colored paper

-Washable paints

-Paint brush

-Leaves, pine needles, and other pieces of nature

-A cup of water for cleaning your paint brush


First have your children search your yard or neighborhood for different leaves, pine needles, shells, pine cones, sticks, and any other pieces of nature you think might be fun to stamp with. Our favorite materials are leaves and sea shells.



Apply a very light layer of paint to a leaf or other piece of nature with your paint brush.

Carefully stamp onto your paper. 



You can also set a fresh unpainted leaf on your paper and carefully paint over and around it. Then carefully lift the leaf.



Make a cool a design or just cover your page in nature stamps!













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Thursday, May 31, 2018

Strawberry Greek Yogurt Pops

One of my family's favorite summer treats is Greek yogurt pops. They're a healthier, but still really yummy, alternative to mainstream popsicles. And they're super versatile. You can add just about any fruit to create whatever flavor you like.

In this post I will share my recipe for fresh strawberry Greek yogurt pops.


#thebarefootmom


This recipe is really simple and only requires a few ingredients:

-2 cups of vanilla Greek yogurt (this recipe works with coconut milk yogurt too for a dairy free treat)

-2 cups of fresh strawberries (or substitute with any berry or fruit of your choice)

-Popsicle molds

Wash and slice your strawberries into small thin slices and stir into the Greek yogurt.

Pour into popsicle molds and pop into the freezer until they are completely frozen.

And that's it!



(You can put the strawberries and yogurt in the blender and blend until smooth before freezing if you prefer popsicles without big chunks of fruit.)

If you enjoy these, experiment with other fruits and berries. Fresh pineapple and blackberries are two of our other favorite fruits for Greek yogurt pops.



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What are some of your family's favorite summer treats?




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6 Awesome Chapter Book Series For Young Girls

One of the things I'm most proud of this homeschool year, is how much my daughter's reading has improved. She moved from reading mo...