Aug 30, 2011

Fostering Parenting and Homeschooling

We have begun a new phase of life recently.  We have been foster parents in the past, and we homeschooled last year.  Now we are trying both at the same time.  So far so good though.  It takes an enormous amount of preparation and organization to keep everything running smoothly, but it is worth every minute!  Right now we are trying to school between all the appointments and visits that tend to surround foster children.  Does anyone else have experience in this area?  I would love to hear your advice. 

Aug 24, 2011

Get Your Kids to Eat Almost Anything

We have been having a little bit of trouble getting our kids to eat certain foods lately, but I came up with an idea.  Anytime the kids won't eat something, I sprinkle magic cheese (Parmesan cheese) on it.  They usually gobble it up in minutes!

Aug 19, 2011

Rough Start to the Beginning of the School Year

We started back to our homeschooling year this week.  We've also been without any Internet access for eight days.  It's been an interesting week.  I started the week with detailed schedules for myself and the school day.  Yesterday that went out the window.  I tried this last year too, but it just doesn't seem to work well.  We do better having a list of what needs to be accomplished and just checking it off as we go.  I think perhaps it is because we have a one-year-old messing up our schedule.

That brings me to another problem.  What do I do with the one-year-old while homeschooling the third grader?  I've tried to line up activities for him, but his attention span is limited to about 1-2 minutes per activity.  Then he just wants my attention.  We've tried putting him in the high chair with play dough or crayons, but he still eats everything in sight.  If anyone has any ideas, I would love to hear them!

Aug 11, 2011

Pizza Hut Book It Program for Homeschoolers

Do your kids love Pizza Hut?  How about rewarding reading goals with pizza?  Join the Pizza Hut Book It program, and your child can earn up to six personal pan pizzas by reaching reading goals.  This program runs October through March, but you can start enrolling now.  Enrollment runs through September 1, 2011.  The program is open to students in grades K-6.  Read more about the program here.  This program is open to public, private, parochial, or homeschools.  Enrollment forms can be found here.

Aug 10, 2011

Making a Volcano

Luke has been wanting to make a volcano for ages.  I kept putting him off because I thought the project would be very difficult and time consuming.  We finally make one yesterday, and it was so easy!  Here's what you need:

To make the volcano form:
6 cups flour
2 cups salt
4 Tablespoons oil
2 cups of water
plastic water bottle

Mix all ingredients until it forms a dough ball.  All more water if needed.

Place the plastic water bottle in the middle of a cookie sheet or other type of baking dish.  Use the dough mixture to form the shape of the volcano around the bottle.  Luke did not feel like we made enough dough to make a big enough volcano, so you may need to make more.  We didn't have any more salt though!  We had other things to do, so we allowed the volcano to sit and harden for several hours.  I'm not sure that was necessary though.  Then we added chocolate syrup for visual effects.

Now fill the bottle about 3/4 full of warm water.  You can add food coloring to the water for better effects.  We added red and orange, but we found if you add the food coloring to the vinegar the color is better.  You can also add a small amount of dish soap for a better bubble effect. Then add about 2 Tablespoons of baking soda to the water in the bottle.  Finally, slowly add vinegar to the bottle, and enjoy the show!

After the experiment we discussed the reaction and what actually happened when the baking soda and vinegar mixed.  Click here to go to the site where we found our idea and most of our information.  

Do you have any great science projects for kids?  Please share with us!

Aug 9, 2011

Ice Cube Painting

We've been wanting to try this all summer, but we just now made time for it.  I filled an ice cube tray with water and added washable poster paints.  We only have red, blue, and yellow, so we had a lesson on mixing colors.  We mixed the colors with toothpicks and then froze the cubes.

Frozen Ice Cube Paints
 I left the toothpicks in four of the cubes to see if they would work for handles while painting.  The toothpicks just broke- don't try it!  After the cubes froze, we took them outside and had a blast painting with them!

Ice Cube Painting

Aug 8, 2011

Diapering Tips for Busy Toddlers

These tips may seem obvious to some of you, but I just figured them out!  See if you can relate to this situation.  You are trying to clean up the stinkiest diaper you've had all day while your toddler tries to roll over.  You are holding his feet with one hand and the wet wipe with the other hand.  Meanwhile he is trying to help you by putting his hands down there in the stinky mess.  Have you been a similar situation?  I have a solution now!  During the day, we work on action songs that involve hand movements like The Wheels on the Bus, If You're Happy and You Know It, and Patty Cake.  Then when the diapering gets tough, I start singing.  His hands instantaneously start moving to the song.  It's like magic!  He sits still for a few minutes and his hands are occupied. 

We've also been having a problem with our toddler taking his diaper off lately, especially at night.  I fixed this by pinning his diaper with cloth diaper pins, and putting water proof training pants over his diaper.  I haven't had a problem since then!

Do you have any diapering tips?

Aug 5, 2011

Field Trip Ideas for Southern and Central Missouri

My homeschool group was discussing field trip ideas for the upcoming year.  If you live in the area here's a few ideas for Southern and Central Missouri.  I am recommending these from my own experiences.  I have personally visited all of these places either during a public school field trip or homeschooling field trip. 

Creation Museum of the Ozarks - Strafford, Missouri - Free
Read my earlier post on this free and fun field trip.

Runge Nature Center - Jefferson City, MO - Free
Visit the nature center and  learn about fish, forest, and wildlife resources through many hands-on exhibits.  While there we did a fun scavenger hunt of the center.  We also used binoculars to view birds and other wildlife in the observation center.  Luke's favorite part was checking out a backpack from the front desk and hiking.  The backpack contained binoculars, a map, and many different wildlife guides.  Hours are different depending on the day, so check out the website before planning a trip.

Springfield Conservation Nature Center - Springfield, MO - Free
Hike one of the six trails, visit the nature center, or attend a program here.  In the nature center you'll find a replica of a cave and pond, many hands-on exhibits, and a puppet area for children.   Hours are different depending on the season, so check out the website before planning a trip.  If you really enjoy fish and wildlife consider also visiting Bass Pro Shop while in the area.  Children can see many fish and even watch the divers feed the fish. 

HaHa Tonka State Park - Camdenton, MO - Free
Visit the ruins of a castle while enjoying the breathtaking views of the Lake of the Ozarks.  It will take you days to explore all of the trails and sites in this park.  On your visit enjoy seeing sinkholes, natural bridges, caves, and explore the island. You can even visit by boat!   Hours are different depending on the season, so check out the website before planning a trip.

Truman Dam and Visitor's Center - Warsaw, MO - Free
Watch the eagles sore over the water at this visitor's center or wander around and learn about the history of the Osage River Valley.  My favorite part of our field trip was the part outside of the visitor's center.  We visited an old schoolhouse, White Oak Cabin, the Hooper house and Farm Complex.  I have heard that the October Heritage Days are the best days to visit to get the most out of your experience.

Missouri Institute of Natural Science - Springfield, MO - Free
We were not sure what to expect when arriving at this small museum in southern Springfield, but we were pleasantly surprised by what we found inside.  Since we were the only visitors at the time, we were given a personal tour of the artifacts and history of the the museum.  Then we enjoyed a movie in the adjoining room.  We visited on a snowy day, but were told that next time we could fossil hunt outdoors for a fee of $4 per person.  Luke can't wait to go back!  To schedule a field trip call 417-883-0594

Bennett Springs State Park - Lebanon, MO - Cost depends on activities
Do you enjoy camping, fishing, hiking, or canoe?  If so, Bennett Springs is the place for you.  This is one of America's premier trout destinations.  While there consider planning a field trip to learn more about the fish hatchery and nature center.  Hours are different depending on the season, so check out the website before planning a trip.

Ozark Caverns - Lake of the Ozarks, MO
While touring this cave you get the opportunity to carry your own lantern into the unlit cave.  You will take a guided tour and see the beautiful Angel’s Shower, which is a continuous flow of water from a “showerhead” of stalactites.  The cave also has a great nature center with programs. 

Rutledge-Wilson Farm - Springfield, MO - Farm is free - Some events and activities do have fees
We used to live within walking distance of this park.  If your kids don't know what farm life is like, visit this 207-acre farm for a small taste of farm life.  Children can visit the barn to see sheep, pigs, and cows.  We even milked a fake cow while there!  You enjoy the farm themed playground, walk the trail, or fish in the pond while there.  I suggest visiting in October during their fall events.  What their website, as they have events all year. 

Christmas on the Farm

Jordan Valley Park - Springfield, MO - Free - It may cost if you park in the parking garage
Do your kids enjoy jumping in fountains or walking through miniature waterfalls.  Visit Jordan Valley Park for tons of water fun!  The fountains operate in 30-minute shows at the top of every hour from 10:00 AM - 9:30 PM.  The fountains are continuous from 11:30 AM - 1:30 PM.  Bring sunscreen and an extra change of clothes!

Jordan Valley Park

Wilson Creek National Battlefield - Springfield, MO - $5 per adult or $10 per vehicle
Step back in time and experience the first major Civil War battle west of the Mississippi River here.  You can drive, walk, bike, or even ride a horse as you take a tour of this battlefield.  Not only will you and your children learn about history, but you can enjoy the beautiful scenery.  Visit the museum to learn more and see amazing artifacts from the Civil War.  Hours are different depending on the season, so check out the website before planning a trip. 

Wilson's Creek National Battlefield

Elephant Rocks - Belleview, MO - Free
Would your kids enjoy climbing on rocks as big as elephants?  You can enjoy hiking, camping, and climbing while visiting this park.  Park hours change with the season.  While here, consider visiting Fort Davidson Historical Site in nearby Pilot Knob.  You can tour the visitor's center for information, artifacts, and a movie or walk through the fields and read about the Civil War battle that took place here. 

Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home and Museum - Mansfield, MO - Children 6-17 - $4, Adults - $8, Seniors - $6
Have you read the Little House books?  What better way to learn about the author than to visit her home and museum.  I visited the Wilder home as a girl, and now it is on our list of places to go as a family.  You can also visit the Kid's Page for coloring pages, word searches, and quizzes. 

George Washington Carver National Monument - Diamond, MO - Free
Come learn about this famous scientists.  Students can enjoy the nature walk, museum, hands-on exhibits, and classroom.  The park is open 9:00 AM - 5:00 AM.  Guided tours are available 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM.  Click here to learn more about planning a field trip.

Orion Science Center - Camdenton, MO - $6 per person
Luke loves this place so much, we had to buy a season pass.  The Orion Science Center is Christian owned and operated.  Our favorite part is the outdoor activites.  You can make and launch your own paper rocket, launch water balloons, launch tennis balls, zip line, take a nature walk, or play in Noah's ark.  Check the website for hours, as they change with the seasons. 

Air and Military Museum of the Ozarks - Springfield, MO
Are your kids interested in the military?  This museum showcases over 5,000 pieces of military history.  They preserve and display pieces of military history for educational purposes.  I visited with a group of middle schoolers years ago, and we had a blast.  We were given a guided tour and were allowed to sit in an old helicoptor.

Do you have any field trip ideas to share from your area? 

This post is linked Chestnut Grove Academy's Field Trip Friday Blog Hop.

Aug 4, 2011

My First Blogging Class - Assignment 1

I'm taking an online blogging class right now to learn more about what I'm suppose to be doing!  This week we discussed thinking about why we blog and our goals.  Our assignment was to answer some of the questions in the class and post our answers on our own blog.  Here's what I came up with:

What are you going to blog about?
I would like to blog about frugal living, raising kids on a tight budget, and frugal educational ideas for parents to use with their kids

Do you plan to be blogging long-term – or is this just something you want to give a try right now and see how you like it?
I'm just trying this for fun right now. It's fun, and I love to learn about technology.

Do you have any goals for your blog that come to mind right away? How can you make these goals more specific?
      1. Write 4 posts per week.
      2. Link to one blog hop per week.
      3. Visit and interact with at least 10 other blogs per week.

Do you have any blogging goals?  Feel free to share your goals below!

Aug 3, 2011

Coupon Exchange Idea

On a trip through our local library's lobby, a white box with the word coupons on it caught my eye.  I ran over to see what was in this box.  (Notice the word ran - it's hard to take a one-year-old to a public library!)  A mom from my homeschool group set up a coupon exchange in that box.  Here's how it works:

1)  Each person puts coupons they don't want in a clear plastic bag.  Also included in the bag is a note card with the person's name at the top.  The plastic bag gets placed in the coupon box, along with many other bags of coupons.
2)  Anyone who comes in the library is welcome to sort through the bags of coupons and take what he/she needs. 
3)  As you go through the coupons, you write your name on the note card to remind yourself that you've looked through that coupon bag.
4)  If you see any expired coupons while searching, you remove them and put them in the bag marked for expired coupons.  These get sent to military families. 

I'm so excited to start participating in this coupon exchange!  My only problem now is how to keep my one-year-old entertained long enough to look through the coupons!

Do you participate in a coupon exchange?  If so, please share the details.

Aug 2, 2011

Buying Homeschool Curriculum and Books

Last year was our first year of homeschooling.  I bought a complete curriculum set from a friend for half of the original price.  After a year with the box curriculum, I figured out the parts we liked, the parts we didn't like, and the parts I felt needed to supplemented.  This year, I have used many different sources to find used curriculum.  Here's where I've looked for used curriculum:

1)  My first choice is the closest used Christian bookstore.  I trade in books we don't want, and walk out with the used curriculum we need.  Our store even has 40% off twice a year.  This is where I've bought most of our curriculum.  Of course, this only works if you have a bookstore near you.

2) Homeschoolclassifieds - I bought by son's math workbook here from an individual seller for $12 including shipping.  I was going to pay the publisher's website $15 plus shipping.  It arrived in less than a week in perfect condition. 

3) I bought a few odds and ends that we needed from amazon.  They usually have the lowest price for new workbooks. 

4)  Cragislist - I haven't actually bought anything here, but I check it from time to time.  I have seen homeschool curriculum for sale.  The good thing about cragislist is that you might be able to avoid shipping costs.  The downside is the time it takes to find what you need. 

5) - My husband and I bought and sold many of our college textbooks from this site.  I've found some homeschool curriculum here also. 
6)  Trade and borrow from friends

7) Mardel - If you have a Mardel bookstore near you, go visit it!  You'll find more than you need.  If you don't have a Mardel near you, visit online.  I love to shop online, but sometimes, I need to hold the books in my hand and flip through the pages to see if it's really what I want.  I could spend hours in this store!

Where do you get your homeschool curriculum?