Thursday, January 17, 2019

Why It's Healthy To Let Your Kids Be Bored Sometimes


It seems like kids today are busier than ever. Most children spend 6 or more hours a day at school, and then there's dance and soccer and piano lessons. While school and recreational activities are definitely important, is it really beneficial to keep our kids so busy that they rarely have down time? I personally believe that being bored occasionally is healthy, and here's why:

Boosts Creativity 

Unstructured time gives children the opportunity to explore their own interests and forces them to think outside the box. 

Studies have shown that the human mind is more creative when we're bored. When we have nothing to occupy us, our minds tend to wander and daydream. 

I am constantly impressed with the creative things my kids come up with during unstructured time. My oldest loves to design and sew. One of her favorite downtime activities is designing and making clothes for her dolls. My kids also love building forts. Sometimes in the house with sheets and chairs and sometimes outside with whatever materials they can find in the yard.

Let your kids have access to materials for creating and building, give them a little free unstructured time, and see what amazing creations they come up with!

Encourages Independence 

Unstructured time encourages kids to be independent and self motivated. In a world where so much of our children's days are planned out and led by adults, it's important for kids to have time where they are in charge of what they do and how they do it. 

Gives Parents A Break

As much as we all love our children and want to keep them happy, parents need down time too. We too need a break from the busyness of our schedules sometimes.  Let your kids entertain themselves occasionally and take some time for something you enjoy!  

What are your kiddos favorite activities when given unstructured time?

If you enjoyed this post, check out:

-Set Up Your Own Creation Station STEAM Table

-Why We Don't Do Bedtimes

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Monday, January 14, 2019

Living In Paradise: Life Before The Camp Fire

So much has been shared in the media lately about the wildfire that all but destroyed Paradise and it's surrounding communities. Everyone has seen pictures of the apocalyptic like destruction. That's not how I want the world to see Paradise.  I want people to see it as I will always remember it, and for the way it will be again. 


Paradise was a quiet little community nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, surrounded by canyons and beautiful evergreens. It was home to about 26,000 of the hardest working and most resilient folks you will ever meet. It was also home to an amazing array of wildlife including mule deer, grey squirrels, raccoons, foxes, California black bears, bobcats, mountain lions, many species of birds, and much more. It was a beautiful place to grow up.

Mule Deer

The area was originally inhabited by the Maidu and then settled by gold miners during the California gold rush. The largest true gold nugget ever found in California (and possibly on the North American continent) was found just east of town in the Feather River canyon. The town had several yearly events celebrating the areas rich history, including Gold Nugget Days and Days Of Living History. At the center of these celebrations was a little museum known as the Gold Nugget Museum. In addition to the traditional indoor displays, the Gold Nugget Museum had an amazing outdoor area with replicas of old fashioned buildings, including a school house, a Native American teepee, a covered bridge, and a blacksmith shop. I took my kids to the Days Of Living History event there just a few months before the fire. We got to watch blacksmith and rope making demonstrations, made tin art, went gold panning, and went on a scavenger hunt for native edible and medicinal plants. I am so glad we got the opportunity to enjoy such a neat event!

Gold Nugget Parade

The school house at The Gold
Nugget Museum

I spent my childhood exploring the woods and many creeks in the area, catching water snakes and salamanders. Paradise has some of the most gorgeous swimming holes in the world. My favorite growing up was a beautiful little swimming hole in the Feather River Canyon, called "The Nose" by locals. It's clear water is surrounded by giant boulders that are perfect for jumping off of into the cool pool of water below. Another favorite of mine was commonly referred to as "Rattlesnake Beach" (though in all the time I spent there over the years, I never ran into a single rattlesnake), located in the beautiful Butte Creek Canyon. Locals had built really awesome pools out of intricate rock dams. It was a gorgeous and peaceful little swimming hole, that I often called "my happy place". 

Hiking and exploring the natural world is one of my family's favorite activities. Paradise has miles and miles of hiking trails that meander  through the woods and along the gorgeous canyons and creeks. Living among so much natural beauty instilled in me a deep love for the natural world. It was such an amazing environment for homeschooling my children in. I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity for my kids to have experienced such beauty and to have developed such a deep connection with nature. 

Butte Creek Canyon

Hiking along Butte Creek Canyon

Picking wildflowers by the lake

Fishing at Lake De Sabla

My absolute favorite place in town was my grandparent's house, located next to a historical apple orchard that was still in operation until the day of the fire. My grandparents had the house built when they retired and moved to Paradise from the bay area back in the late 1980's. Countless birthday parties and holidays were celebrated there. I had my wedding reception there and my oldest daughter's baby shower. It was always my safe place. Some place I was always welcome and always felt at home. It held so many beautiful memories. 

The gazebo my grandfather built

My grandparent's yard with Noble's
Orchard behind it

My Mother In Law's front
yard in the fall

Paradise was a beautiful place to live and I am certain it will be again. Already, just barely two months after the fire, people and businesses are returning. Our ice rink, a community favorite, is open. The health center, several auto parts stores, a grocery store, and at least one bank are back up and running. My parents, along with many others, are already making plans to rebuild on their properties. We are a resilient community and I am proud to be a member of such a strong group of people. Like a phoenix, Paradise will rise from the ashes. Though ever changed, I am certain Paradise will be a beautiful place to live again. 

If your interested, you can read about my family's experience during the Camp Fire here.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Edible Division Activity

My daughter is definitely a kinesthetic learner so I am constantly searching for and trying to come up with hands on learning activities for her. Math is probably the hardest subject to do this with. I seems like most math resources out there are worksheets and flash cards. We recently started working on division facts, and while I felt like she had a good grasp on multiplication, division seemed to be confusing for her. I needed a hands on way for her to learn the concept of division, so I came up with this simple hands on activity for her.


Edible Division Activity 

This activity is simple and only requires a few things to make it work. You will need:
-A few pieces of paper
-A pencil 
-Some sort of small snack food (goldfish crackers, raisins, peanuts, cheerios, and M&M's all work well)

Start by drawing several large circles on a piece of paper. Then give your child a pre-counted number of whatever snack you are using. Ask your child to evenly divide the snack between the circles on the paper. So for example, draw 4 large circles and give your child 16 goldfish crackers. They should place 4 crackers in each circle. The have your child write the equation. For this example they would write 16/4=4.

Repeat with other dividends and divisors. Then let your child enjoy their division snack!

This activity can also be used to demonstrate equations with remainders.

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Thursday, January 3, 2019

Activities And Resources For Learning About Ancient Egypt

One of my favorite history topics is ancient Egypt. The ancient Egyptians were such an interesting and artistic culture. I've always been amazed by their advanced architecture and beautiful art work. In this post I share some fun hands on activities and resources for learning about ancient Egypt.

Build A Pyramid 

The ancient Egyptian pyramids are always a fascinating topic to study. It's amazing that they were able to build such massive and perfect structures without modern construction tools and vehicles. Here are a few resources for learning about the pyramids:

-Ancient Egypt-The Pyramids from Ducksters

-Egyptian Pyramids from History For Kids

-Are We There Yet? Egypt-Pyramids from NatGeoKids

-Destination- Egypt, Pyramids from National Geographic 

After your child has learned about the pyramids, try building your own! We've done this project with Legos and with sugar cubes and glue.

Make Egyptian Pottery 

The ancient Egyptians made some beautiful pottery. Spend some time looking at pictures and watching a few videos about ancient Egyptian pottery. Then grab some clay and paint and have your child try making their own Egyptian style pottery. 

Here are a few videos and other resources about ancient Egyptian pottery:

-Ancient Egyptian Pottery from about Egypt

-Ancient Egyptian Pottery by Duncan Hall

-Egyptian Pottery from History For Kids

Make Hieroglyphics

The ancient Egyptians were one of the first cultures to develop a writing system. Spend a day learning about Egyptian hieroglyphics with these resources:

-Egyptian Hieroglyphics from Susan Euler

-Ancient Egypt- Hieroglyphics from Ducksters

-Fascinating Facts About Hieroglyphics! from NatGeoKids

Then have your child try writing their name or even a whole message in hieroglyphics with this  Hieroglyphic Name Translator.

Learn About The Nile River

The Nile River provided the ancient Egyptians with water, animals for food, fertile soil, and many other important resources. Without it, it is doubtful the ancient Egyptians would have become such an advanced and flourishing society. 

Spend some time teaching your kids about the Nile River and the wildlife it supported. Here are some great online resources about the Nile River, it's wildlife, and it's importance to the ancient Egyptians:

-Ancient Egypt- Geography And The Nile River from Ducksters

-Plants And Animals Of The Nile from The Royal Ontario Museum 

Make A Mummy

Mummies are an interesting topic to learn about. Check out these great resources about Egyptian mummies:

-How To Make A Mummy from NatGeoKids

-Mummification (How an Ancient Egyptian Mummy Was Made) from Simple History 

-Are We There Yet: Egypt-Mummies from Travel Kids

Then try making your own mummy! You can try it with a real chicken with these instructions from Adventures In Mommydom, or if you prefer to mummify a rubber chicken, try this method from Creekside Learning.

If you enjoyed this post, check out:

-Learning About The California Gold Rush

-How We Teach Geography Without A Curriculum

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Monday, December 31, 2018

Top 10 Posts Of 2018

I started this blog almost a year ago and honestly had no idea what I was doing when I started. I just knew I wanted a way to record and share my family's homeschool and wellness journey. It's been an interesting ride. I've learned a lot about blogging and made some awesome connections with other homeschooling families. As the year comes to a close I thought it would be neat to look back and share my top 10 most popular posts of 2018.


10. 40 Things To Look At Under A Microscope- This post is exactly what it sounds like, a list of 40 things that are amazing to look at up close under a microscope.

9. Why Don't Rivers Run Straight?- This is a fun hands on outdoor activity demonstrating why rivers tend to turn and bend rather than run straight. 

8. Why We Don't Do Bedtimes- In this post I share why my family skips the whole "bedtime fiasco".

7. Homeschool Curriculum And Resources: My Top Picks- A look at my favorite homeschool curriculum and resources.

6. Lego STEAM Activities- Legos can be an awesome educational tool. In this post I share 6 fun STEAM activities you can do with Legos.

5. Backyard Nature Activities For Kids- 5 fun nature activities your kids can do right in your own backyard.

4. 6 Fun Activities For Teaching Sight Word Recognition And Spelling- Sight word practice doesn't have to be all worksheets and flash cards. Check out these 6 hands on ways to practice sight word recognition and spelling.

3. 5 Reasons To Let Your Kids Go Barefoot- There are so many benefits to going barefoot, especially for young children. In this post I share several reasons to let your kids spend more time without shoes.

2. Make A Simple Compost Bin (a fun way to teach your kids about soil- Let your kids explore soil and the world of composting by creating your own simple backyard compost bin.

1. My most popular post of the year is one I'm personally really proud of: Learning To Read Is Not A Race. In this post I share why it's okay that not all kids are ready to read by kindergarten and the problems with pushing kids to read who simply are not developmentally ready yet.

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Thursday, December 20, 2018

25 Awesome STEM Activities

We absolutely love STEM activities in our homeschool. They're a great way to develop problem solving skills and to incorporate more math, science, and engineering into your homeschool week. 


What Is STEM Education?

If your not familiar with the term, STEM stands for: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. A STEM activity is any hands on activity incorporating one or more of these areas of study. Often art is also included so you may see the acronym STEAM as well. STEM or STEAM activities often provide opportunities for kids to develop critical thinking and problem solving skills. Plus they're just fun! Here are 25 of our favorite STEM activities:

25 Awesome STEM Activities:

-Water Cycle In A Bag from Playdough To Plato

-Make A Catapult from Kids Activities 

-Make Your Own Mineral Identification Kit from The Barefoot Mom

-Why Is The Sky Blue? from Rookie Parenting 

-Make A Cloud In A Jar from The Barefoot Mom

-Fireworks In A Jar from I Can Teach My Child 

-Why Don't Rivers Run Straight? from The Barefoot Mom

-Pom Pom Drop STEM Challenge from Coffee Cups And Crayons

-Build An Aircraft Engineering Challenge from The Homeschool Scientist

-How To Build A Leprechaun Trap from The Barefoot Mom

-STEM Straw Bridges from Playdough to Plato

-Make A Simple Home Weather Station from The Barefoot Mom

-Make Magnetic Slime from Frugal Fun For Boys And Girls

-The Egg Drop STEM Challenge from The Barefoot Mom

-Make An Awesome Pulley from Carrots Are Orange

-Aluminum Foil Boat STEM Activity from The Barefoot Mom

-Make A Coin Battery from Teach Beside Me

-Toothpick Gumdrop Geometry from The Barefoot Mom

-DIY Rubber Band Car from Figment Creative Labs

-Rainbow Science from The Barefoot Mom

-Buildable Rock Slime from Left Brain Craft Brain

-Lego STEAM Activities from The Barefoot Mom

-Build A Snack Machine STEM Challenge from Left Brain Craft Brain

-Avian Egg Investigation from The Barefoot Mom

-Hot Ice Science Experiment from Playdough To Plato

Do you use STEM education in your homeschool? What are your favorite STEM activities?

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Monday, December 17, 2018

Paper Chain STEM Challenge

My kids always love a good STEM challenge, and I remembered this one when we were making paper chains to count down to Christmas last week. I did the paper chain challenge as a child in one of my classes at school and thought my kids would enjoy trying it.


The Paper Chain STEM Challenge 

This challenge is fun for kids of almost any age. As long as they're old enough to handle scissors and tape, they can participate.

Start by handing each child a pair of scissors, some tape, and a single sheet of paper. I like to use colored construction paper so each child can have their own color, but any type of paper will work. Then challenge them to make the longest paper chain that they can with their single piece of paper.

Then let them do their thing. When everyone is finished, get out measuring tapes and measure each chain. 

Have a discussion about which chain was longest and why. Did chubby or skinny rings make a longer chain? What about short or long rings?

A Look At Our Paper Chain STEM Challenge

After a little discussion, my 8 year old decided to try skinny short paper strips for her rings. I wanted to make sure we had other chains to compare it to, so I helped my two year old make one with chubby paper strips, and I made one with long skinny strips.

The paper chain made of chubby paper strips was by far the shortest. The other two were almost the same length but the one made of long skinny paper strips was a little longer than the one made of skinny short paper strips. 

If you enjoyed this post, check out:

Why It's Healthy To Let Your Kids Be Bored Sometimes

It seems like kids today are busier than ever. Most children spend 6 or more hours a day at school, and then there's dance and s...