• Free printable Lego challenge cards - a great STEM activity!
    science,  STEM

    Free Printable Lego STEM Challenge Cards

    Remember last week when I said Jared (my husband) was going to be sharing some STEM posts on here for the next while because he’s kind of taking over that area of our homeschool this year? Well, he’s back!

    While I usually spend 1-2 hours with the kids doing some intentional learning during the day (reading, working in our relaxed notebooks, etc) the rest of the day is pretty much free play for them. They love it and I try to keep our days open so they have this opportunity.

    During their free play time they will often do some pretend play, a lot of swinging on their Ikea swings in our basement and the majority of the time is playing Lego. To say they often play Lego for five hours a day would not be lying. You could say we get our moneys worth out of it!

    Okay, I’m going to stop taking over his post now. 🙂

     


     

    LEGO® is great toy for learning and early skill development. It’s also one of our most used toys in the house. Our kids will spend hours building, re-building, breaking, and modifying their LEGO creations. As much as it can be annoying to try and avoid stepping on it all over the house I love the learning that happens when kids play with LEGO.

    LEGO Challenge Cards are a great way to sneak some STEM learning into your kids day. They will develop their problem solving skills, creativity and engineering skills as they work on various different challenges.

     

    Free printable Lego challenge cards - a great STEM activity!

     

    These cards can be used in a number of different ways depending on the number of kids using them and their ages. You can let your kids pick a card they want to do or have them draw a card randomly from the stack. You can also have a group of kids work on the same card and then compare their creations when they are done and discuss how they tackled the task in a variety of different ways.

     

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    Free printable Lego challenge cards - a great STEM activity!

     

    Our kids had a lot of fun going through the stack of cards and picking challenges that they thought would be fun. It’s awesome to see them think about a card and watch their creativity come out in their creations.

     

    Free printable Lego challenge cards - a great STEM activity!

     

    These cards are free for you to download, print and use with your kids or class. I hope they enjoy them as much as our kids do!

     

    Download the FREE LEGO STEM Challenge Cards

     

    Free printable Lego challenge cards - a great STEM activity!

  • Rocks Relaxed Notebooking Page and Resources for Rock Unit Study
    real homeschool stories,  relaxed notebooking,  science,  unit studies

    Rocks Mini Unit Study Resources & Relaxed Notebooking

    In the last few weeks we have been doing what I’ve dubbed as “relaxed notebooking”, I share more about the concept in my Homeschooling as a Lifestyle Workshop but in essence we have been picking topics each week to do mini unit studies on. This approach works really well with our relaxed, interest-led homeschool style.

    I thought it would be fun to share some of the mini units we have been doing as well as the resources we are using.

    At the beginning of each week I ask my kids what they want to learn about that week and that helps guide our week. So far they have had a balance of Minecraft and Star Wars and weeks where what they pick what would qualify as educational topics. In the future I may pick the topics if there is one that I think we should do but so far they’ve been doing a great job with their picks.

     

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    Rocks Relaxed Notebooking Page and Resources for Rock Unit Study

     

    A few weekends ago I was cleaning out one of our closets and I came across a ton of rocks my kids had collected last fall. The rocks had been up high on a shelf for about ten months so I figured they wouldn’t miss them, they hadn’t asked for them once, so I took the bowl of rocks and tossed them on my neighbors rock driveway (let’s be honest, half of them probably originated there). Then Monday morning came and I asked Raeca what she wanted to study for that week and what does she say? Rocks. 🤦

    Thankfully she didn’t remember the rocks that they had stowed away so I wasn’t in trouble. That was a close one.

     

    Rocks Mini Unit Study Resources Homeschool

     

    Ultimately I have two goals with these weekly mini unit studies:

    1. To have some physical evidence of learning for when I write up our year end reports for our school division each year. They actually don’t require much in terms of a year end report but it feels good being able to show some of the things we’ve learned about.
    2. To help my children find their interests. I am excited to homeschool high school when we can get more focused on the topics my children enjoy and hope to use in their future careers, this is an easy way we are starting to hone in on some topics of interest.

    We did take some time to do some brainstorming of subjects they think they would like to study in the future. Ephraim’s list makes me laugh because it is so him, it includes topics like: batteries, how do microwaves work, how do phones work without wires, etc. That is totally him and his inquisitive mind.

    Raeca’s list is more diverse and includes a topics like horses, pigs, airplanes, building structures, orphanages, Indonesia, Colorado, pens, spiders, wasps, Mexico and Peru.

     

    Rocks Relaxed Notebooking Page and Resources for Rock Unit Study

     

    For our rocks study we had more resources on hand than we do for some other mini units, thanks to my husband’s co-worker who gave us a box of labelled rock samples (?? not sure if this is the correct term but I’m going with it). It has examples of about 40 different rocks and says where they were found. While books and pictures are great resources I find with rocks it is really nice to have the physical examples.

    We started our our mini study by watching a few videos to give an introduction. If you like YouTube, come subscribe to my channel there, I am starting to make playlists for different topics we hope to study over time. I have a playlist on Rocks and Minerals, we started out by watching these three videos:

     

    Rocks Relaxed Notebooking Page and Resources for Rock Unit Study

     

    The videos gave us an idea on the three main types of rocks and then we pulled out our favorite science books and looked to see what they had for information on the subject.

    While the book Nature Anatomy does not go very in-depth in nature topics I appreciate the diversity and gorgeous illustrations, it is my favorite science book we own, by far, it’s always the one I pull out first.

    We have the Usborne Spotters Guide: Rocks and Minerals which I found at the thrift store a few years ago and grabbed because I assumed we’d be studying this one day. Ours is an old version but rocks don’t tend to change that much so it worked out well.

    We went for a walk and did some rock collecting and then came back and used our spotters guide to try to identify the types of rocks we found, it was great to have the guide to refer to, I’m going to keep my eye out for more spotters guides.

    I also like to pull our our letter cards and have one of the kids spell out what we are learning, we don’t do any formal spelling practice so this is a fun and relevant way to approach spelling.

     

    Rocks Mini Unit Study Resources Homeschool

     

    We also spent some time looking at the rocks with our magnifying glass, the perfect tool for any little scientist. The rock samples that we had been given had more diverse rocks than we found on our walk so Raeca decided to create her relaxed notebooking page on the Flowerstone.

    We looked online for some information on this rock since it wasn’t in any of our books and found out that it is pretty much only found on one island in British Columbia.

    Then Rae started working on her page. I have three requirements for our relaxed notebooking pages they need to have:

    1. a title
    2. a picture
    3. some information

    The amount of information I require differs for each child and each subject. Some subjects are going to have more information to share than others, plus, if it is a subject that they picked and it ends up not being too interested in I’m okay with them not doing a whole lot of writing.

    Based on how long they spend on certain pages it has been easy to see which topics they’ve picked have been the most interesting to them.

    I am really enjoying this relaxed, interest-led notebooking style, it really suits our family and the way we approach life and how we view homeschooling as a lifestyle. I’ve totally gotten in on the relaxed notebooking and have been making pages right alongside my kids and at the beginning of the week I find myself looking forward to finding out what we will be studying.

    Do you have a relaxed and/or interest-led homeschool? Where are your favorite places to find resources?
    Do you do any form of notebooking pages? I’d love to hear about it!

  • Eight Picture Books for Little Builders and Engineers
    book lists,  picture books,  science,  STEM

    Eight Picture Books For Little Engineers and Builders

    If you have a little one in your home that is into building things you’ll love these picture books!

    I often find myself wondering what my kids will chose to “do” or “be” when they grow up. I’m definitely not going to force them to do anything but I like looking for their strengths and interests now and watching how they change (or stay the same) as they grow older.

    Right now Raeca says she wants to be an artist and a writer when she’s older. And she also wants to travel the world and tell people about Jesus. A girl after my own heart.

    Ephraim is a little harder to read (plus he’s younger), he’s the kind of kid that makes friends wherever he goes, and he’s really inquisitive so I wouldn’t be too surprised if he went into some kind of engineering type of field.

    If you kids are aspiring builders or engineers (and even if they are not) I think they will all love the books on this list!

    Picture Books for Little Builders and Future Engineers

    EIGHT PICTURE BOOKS
    FOR LITTLE BUILDERS AND ENGINEERS

    These first two are on my list of all time favorite picture books:

    Iggy Peck Architect

    Iggy has one passion: building. His parents are proud of his fabulous creations, though they’re sometimes surprised by his materials—who could forget the tower he built of dirty diapers? When his second-grade teacher declares her dislike of architecture, Iggy faces a challenge. He loves building too much to give it up! With Andrea Beaty’s irresistible rhyming text and David Roberts’s puckish illustrations, this book will charm creative kids everywhere, and amuse their sometimes bewildered parents.

    Rosie Revere Engineer

    Rosie may seem quiet during the day, but at night she’s a brilliant inventor of gizmos and gadgets who dreams of becoming a great engineer. When her great-great-aunt Rose (Rosie the Riveter) comes for a visit and mentions her one unfinished goal—to fly—Rosie sets to work building a contraption to make her aunt’s dream come true. But when her contraption doesn’t fly but rather hovers for a moment and then crashes, Rosie deems the invention a failure. On the contrary, Aunt Rose insists that Rosie’s contraption was a raging success: you can only truly fail, she explains, if you quit.

    I love Ashley Spires and this is (one of) my favorite picture books of hers.

    The Most Magnificent Thing

    A little girl and her canine assistant set out to make the most magnificent thing. But after much hard work, the end result is not what the girl had in mind. Frustrated, she quits. Her assistant suggests a long walk, and as they walk, it slowly becomes clear what the girl needs to do to succeed. A charming story that will give kids the most magnificent thing: perspective!

    Haha, who knew a science project could go so terribly wrong?!

    Oh No!: Or How My Science Project Destroyed the World

    Some kids are too smart for their own good…and maybe for everybody else’s good. When an overly ambitious little girl builds a humongous robot for her science fair, she fully expects to win first place. What she doesn’t expect is the chaos that follows.

    Peter Reynolds is awesome, and he partnered up with his brother Paul for this book!

    Going Places

    It’s time for this year’s Going Places contest! Finally. Time to build a go-cart, race it—and win. Each kid grabs an identical kit, and scrambles to build. Everyone but Maya. She sure doesn’t seem to be in a hurry…and that sure doesn’t look like anybody else’s go-cart! But who said it had to be a go-cart? And who said there’s only one way to cross the finish line?

    This book is so good for showing kids the steps and revisions involved in building and creating.

    Papa’s Mechanical Fish

    Clink! Clankety-bang! Thump-whirr! That’s the sound of Papa at work. Although he is an inventor, he has never made anything that works perfectly, and that’s because he hasn’t yet found a truly fantastic idea. But when he takes his family fishing on Lake Michigan, his daughter Virena asks, “Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a fish?”―and Papa is off to his workshop. With a lot of persistence and a little bit of help, Papa―who is based on the real-life inventor Lodner Phillips―creates a submarine that can take his family for a trip to the bottom of Lake Michigan.

    Violet the Pilot

    By the time she’s two years old, Violet Van Winkle can fix nearly any appliance in the house. And by eight she’s building elaborate flying machines from scratch—mind-boggling contraptions such as the Tubbubbler, the Bicycopter, and the Wing-a-ma-jig. The kids at school tease her, but they have no idea what she’s capable of. Maybe she could earn their respect by winning the blue ribbon in the upcoming Air Show. Or maybe something even better will happen—something involving her best-ever invention, a Boy Scout troop in peril, and even the mayor himself!

    Young Frank, Architect

    Young Frank is an architect. He lives with his grandfather, Old Frank, who is also an architect and his spotted dog, Eddie. Using anything he can get his hands on; macaroni, pillows, toilet paper, shoes, Young Frank likes to build buildings that twist, chairs with zig zag legs and even entire cities. But Old Frank disapproves, saying architects only build buildings.

  • Games in our Homeschool and some of our favorites
    games,  language arts,  math,  music,  science

    Using Games in our Homeschool

    My husband has always loved games, he even has a group of friends that get together every month to play games. So it comes as no surprise to me that both my kids ask to play games often.

    The only games I played when I was younger were pretty much Clue with my brother and endless rounds of Monopoly with one of my cousins (we did not play by the rules).

    We don’t have a huge selection of games but we are slowly building it over birthdays and Christmases, games are such a great gift to give kids.

    Thankfully almost every game out there has some kind of educational benefit to it so I can feel good with incorporating them into our homeschool day, the kids are still learning skills but they don’t even know it.

    Some of the skills kids learn when playing games include:

    • developing fine motor skills
    • social skills
    • learning how to win or lose graciously
    • cooperation
    • following directions
    • math skills
    • deductive reasoning
    • strategy
    • and lots more!

    I thought I would share a few of our current favorite games.

    [mybooktable book=”outfoxed” display=”summary” buybutton_shadowbox=”false”]

    [mybooktable book=”circuit-maze” display=”summary” buybutton_shadowbox=”false”]

    [mybooktable book=”sushi-go” display=”summary” buybutton_shadowbox=”false”]

    [mybooktable book=”robot-turtles” display=”summary” buybutton_shadowbox=”false”]

    [mybooktable book=”scrabble-junior” display=”summary” buybutton_shadowbox=”false”]

    What are your favorite games to use in your homeschool?

  • 7 Books for Learning About Oceans and Sea Creatures
    book lists,  elementary,  middle grades,  picture books,  science

    7 Books For Studying Oceans & Sea Creatures

    I totally blame it on the show Octonauts but we’ve been on a bit of an underwater kick around here lately. Each week Raeca picks a new animal or two to learn about in science and we’ve had a good stretch of sea creatures; pilot fish, jellyfish and the green sea turtle). The kids have quite enjoyed the show and I appreciate the educational aspect while it is still entertaining.

    This new found interest in sea creatures has prompted us to start looking through those sections of the books we already own as well as discovering new-to-us books. The ones on this list have been great resources for our studies.

    Books for Learning about Oceans and Sea Creatures

    7 BOOKS FOR STUDYING
    OCEANS & SEA CREATURES

    1000 Things Under the Sea

    A beautiful book with pictures of exactly 1000 fascinating things that can be found in our seas and oceans. From common seashore sights such as crabs and seagulls to deep sea creatures, enormous blue whales, colorful jellyfish and even undersea machines, every page is full of things for children to discover. Includes an index for easy reference.

    Nature Anatomy: The Curious Parts and Pieces of the Natural World

    See the world in a whole new way! Acclaimed illustrator Julia Rothman combines art and science in this exciting and educational guide to the structure, function, and personality of the natural world. Explore the anatomy of a jellyfish, the inside of a volcano, monarch butterfly migration, how sunsets work, and much more. Rothman’s whimsical illustrations are paired with interactive activities that encourage curiosity and inspire you to look more closely at the world all around you.

    The Usborne Big Book of Big Sea Creatures

    From the great white shark to the mighty blue whale, children will love discovering the biggest creatures under the sea (and some of the littlest too). Each page is packed with huge, brightly coloured illustrations and fascinating facts. Extra long fold-out pages show some of the biggest, fastest and longest underwater creatures of all.

    20 Ways to Draw a Jellyfish and 44 Other Amazing Sea Creatures

    This inspiring sketchbook, part of the 20 Ways series from Quarry Books, designed to offer artists, designers, and doodlers a fun and sophisticated collection of illustration fun. Each spread features 20 inspiring illustrated examples of 45 themes – jellyfish, seahorses, star fish, clown fish, eels, sea lions, star fish, lobster, and much, much more – over 900 drawings, with blank space for you to draw your take on 20 Ways to Draw a Jellyfish and 44 Other Amazing Sea Creatures. This is not a step-by-step technique book–rather, the stylized sea anemones, dolphin, and squid are simplified, modernized, and reduced to the most basic elements, showing you how simple abstract shapes and forms meld to create the building blocks of any item that you want to draw. Each of the 20 interpretations provides a different, interesting approach to drawing a single item, providing loads of inspiration for your own drawing. Presented in the author’s uniquely creative style, this engaging and motivational practice book provides a new take on the world of sketching, doodling, and designing.

    7 Books for Learning About Oceans and Sea Creatures

    The Wonder Garden: Wander Through 5 Habitats to Discover 80 Amazing Animals

    Open the gates of the Wonder Garden to explore five of Earth’s most extraordinary habitats, each filled with incredible creatures and epic scenery. Trek through the Amazon Rainforest, travel to the Chihuahuan Desert, dive in the Great Barrier Reef, delve deep into the Black Forest and stand on the roof of the world – the Himalayan Mountains – to see nature at its wildest. Breathtaking, engraved illustrations bring to life Earth’s spectacular Wonder Garden.

    Animalium: Welcome to the Museum

    Welcome to the Museum is a series of books set on the “walls” of the printed page, showcasing the world’s finest collections of objects — from natural history to art. Open 365 days a year and unrestricted by the constraints of physical space, each title in this series is organized into galleries that display more than 200 full-color specimens accompanied by lively, informative text. Offering hours of learning, this first title within the series — Animalium — presents the animal kingdom in glorious detail with illustrations from Katie Scott, an unparalleled new talent.

    Natural World: A Visual Compendium of Wonders from Nature

    A first introduction to the natural world that looks at the myriad ways in which plants and animals have adapted to give themselves the best chance of survival. Natural World explores and explains why living things look and behave the way they do in a series of visually compelling information charts.

  • Our practically free homeschool grade one science curriculum and book list!
    book lists,  curriculum,  science

    Our (Practically Free) Grade 1 Science Curriculum

    Over the next few weeks I will be sharing how I am planning our practically free grade one curriculum. Today I’m on to our science curriculum.

    You can check out the rest of the series here:

    If you are looking for ways to save money in your homeschool without skimping on education make sure to come back and check out the other posts in the next few weeks!

    Our practically free homeschool grade one science curriculum and book list!

    OUR GRADE ONE
    SCIENCE CURRICULUM:

    We are getting the bones of our science from The Well-Trained Mind this year. Personally I enjoy how Susan Wise Bauer has broken up science into the 4 major categories and then repeats them from grade 1-12.

    Life Science/Biology are studied in grade 1, grade 5 and grade 9; Earth Science and Astronomy are studied in grade 2, 6 and 10, Chemistry in grade 3, 7 and 11 and then Physics in grade 4, 8 and 12, I think it’s a great way to cover the different topics and build upon what they have already learned.

    The only expenses we have had for our science are the books we have bought (most of which I’ve collected over the years), and then a notebook, pencils and pencil crayons that we had on hand anyway!

    For grade one our life science will follow the guide in The Well-Trained Mind:

    • Animals (20 weeks)
    • Human Body (10 weeks)
    • Plants (6 weeks is the recommended but we will carry this through all summer while we observe our garden)

     

    ANIMALS

    Each week we will choose a different animal to study, we will be using our base texts (listed below) to get most of our information and will supplement with library books when we find some good ones at our local library.

    In addition to reading about the animals Raeca will create a page in her notebook for each animal which will include a picture she has drawn as well as some information about the animal. At the beginning of the year I am only expecting a sentence or two about the animal but by the end of the year I’m hoping for more.

    This form of notebooking will be the continued throughout our science and many other subjects as well.

    Our practically free homeschool grade one science curriculum and book list!

     

    HUMAN BODY

    We will be using the Usborne See Inside Your Body flap book while we study about the body. We love this book and it covers 7 different sections so we will take the 10 weeks to cover the 7 topics:

    • Eating and Excreting
    • Breathing Air
    • Pumping Blood
    • Bones and Muscles
    • Brain Power
    • The Senses
    • Drinking and Weeing (I’m not sure if the British are trying to be polite by using the word “weeing”? Personally, I think it’s just an awkward word.)

    As we study a section we will also take some time to draw and write about it in our notebook.

     

    PLANTS

    We will be covering plants in the spring and into the summer as we plant and tend to our garden. It will be a lot of hands on experience and a number of nature experiments. We will be notebooking our experiments as well as listing the plants that we put in our garden and tracking their growth.

    And that’s an overview of our year in science!
    Do you have any resources you would recommend?

    OUR SCIENCE “TEXTBOOKShead-post

    Also, here is a great list of books for nature study.

     

    Nature Anatomy

    See the world in a whole new way! Acclaimed illustrator Julia Rothman combines art and science in this exciting and educational guide to the structure, function, and personality of the natural world. Explore the anatomy of a jellyfish, the inside of a volcano, monarch butterfly migration, how sunsets work, and much more. Rothman’s whimsical illustrations are paired with interactive activities that encourage curiosity and inspire you to look more closely at the world all around you.

     

    Firefly Encyclopedia of Animals

    More than 1,000 commissioned full-color watercolors, photographs and distribution maps describe the animal world for readers of all ages. From the smallest mouse to the largest whale, this book offers a detailed and thorough guide to a wide array of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish, as well as insects, spiders and other invertebrates.

     

    See Inside Your Body

    Fabulous flap book that reveals the inner workings of the human body. Bright, original colour illustrations and diagrams display all the major organs of the human body and are accompanied by witty, clear and informative text. Contains over fifty embedded flaps that children can lift to reveal extra detail.

     

    Check out the rest of our book lists!

    The Ultimate Book List Guide - Lists of Best Picture Books, Best Read Aloud Novels, Best Chapter Books, Best Classic Novels and More

    Linking up with the Homeschool Nook