Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Fall Fun!

Crisp, Cool Breeze, Beautiful Color-Changing Leaves, Warm Fires, Pumpkin flavored foods...We love fall around here! 
Here is what our family has been up to this fall:

Texture Owl Art Project! 

One of the lessons in our Home Art Studio (Kindergarten) was to make a texture owl. The DVD even took us on a "field trip" to see a real owl that had been rescued. Chickadee had a wonderful time tearing the paper and gluing it into the owl shape. I love the eyes she made for her owl. This was a perfect art project for fall!

Fire Safety!

October is fire safety month! We took a trip to the local fire station and Chickadee loved sitting in and seeing inside the real fire trucks! We also used some old resources from when I was teaching in the public school system to enhance our learning. Above you can see her reading a weekly reader! I printed off some activities that she loved! She especially enjoyed measuring fire safety related items with her ruler! She also enjoyed playing a firefighter board game a couple of times. (Both printables can be found at here). Finally, I had her write a letter to the fireman at our fire station thanking them for the tour they gave us and telling them what she learned. I was very impressed with her handwriting and the time she took to make her letter neat! We learned a lot and she enjoyed it! 


  This was Chickadee's third season playing soccer and she loves it! It's amazing to see how much she has improved since last fall. We are lucky to have a great park district that runs a fall/spring soccer schedule!

Science: Investigating Water
   We have been learning all about water these past few weeks in Science. This particular picture was a water wonder necklace that she made. She had to freeze it and observe the difference in the water and sparkles when it was frozen vs. when it was a liquid. She loves science and I love all of the hands on experiments in our Science Curriculum (Elemental Science). (Click here for more info).

Charlotte's Web
   We have started working on a Charlotte's web unit study. Each day we read a chapter aloud and then work on an activity, craft, project, lapbook component etc. that goes with the book. Most of what we are doing came from here. Chickadee has loved this study so far and we are enjoying the time reading aloud together as well. We are looking forward to completing our lapbook and watching the movie version at the end of our unit!

FINALLY, fall experiences cannot be complete without....
A trip to the pumpkin patch!

   This was our first time at this particular pumpkin patch and we enjoyed it! They had a lot of little things, to offer as you can see above. Chickadee enjoyed petting the pigs and goats, riding in the wagon pulled by horses, riding in the barrels pulled by a small tractor, climbing on hay bales, shooting apples in a slingshot at a target hay bale, picking pumpkins, and spending time with our family (even Grandma joined us on this trip!). It was a wonderful day spent in God's beauty of the changing seasons! 

Until our next adventure,

Monday, October 28, 2013

Learning at Disney! (part 2)

Learning at Animal Kingdom:

There are so many wonderful learning opportunities at Animal Kingdom that it is hard to fit it all in one day! Below are some of the great learning opportunities available at Disney's Animal Kingdom Park:

1. The first thing we did was head right to the Kilimanjaro Safari rides. This was one of the things Chickadee was looking forward to most on our vacation! (She's an animal lover through and through!) We actually grabbed a fast pass before jumping in regular line and this enabled us to ride it 2 times! The first time through it was raining, which turned out to be cool because all the elephants were in the water spraying and playing! We learned that elephants don't like to be in wet unless they are actually IN the water, so anytime it rains, they all head to the watering hole. (Even mom and dad can learn at Disney!) Other animals we saw were Nile Crocodiles, Lions, Giraffes, Flamingos, Hippos, Rhinos, and many more! It's a great attraction that gets you pretty close to some great creatures in a more natural habitat.


2. Another great learning activity is the "Conservation Station" and Rafiki's Planet Watch. To reach this area, you have to take a short train ride to an area of the park only accessible by train. On they way back, you see a little bit of the "behind the scenes" parts of Animal Kingdom, including how they care for all their animals. Once you arrive, you walk down a path full of information on how to protect both local and native wildlife to animals in other countries. Inside the building there are many hands on activities and experiences that allow you and your children to learn about the importance of conversation and the effect humans have on nature. We got to see x-rays of a turtle that had pieces of plastic bags and balloons in his stomach, learn about how Africans are developing positive ways to keep elephants out of their farms (By using bee hives - it's pretty cool), and so much more! Behind the building, there is a petting zoo area where kids can brush goats and pigs that are free roaming. When you are done learning, you simply hop back on the train and take it back to the main area of the park!

3. We also headed to the dinosaur area where Chickadee was able to play on the awesome playground (The Boneyard) and look at different dinosaur fossils. This is a great area for kids to learn and play WITH their parents as the playground is built to accommodate grown-ups too! There is also a dinosaur ride (which we skipped due to Chickadee's age and easily being afraid) but for older kids is a fun ride. 

4. There are also many trails and walking paths all throughout the park that lead you to different animal habitats. One trail in the Asia area leads you to tigers and other native animals. The Pangani forest trail leads to Gorillas and other animals. There are a lot of different interactive areas along these trails that incorporate learning with fun!

5. Our FAVORITE learning activity at this park was the "Wilderness Explores"  challenge. Based off of Russell in the Disney movie "Up," kids (and adults) get a passport book with different activities to complete. When you complete an activity you earn a "badge" (sticker) that corresponds with that challenge  There are over 30 challenges and activities to complete all throughout the park! Chickadee (and myself) had a fun time seeing what each challenge was and completing them for the badge. We earned over 20 in one visit, but they told us at the beginning it is almost impossible to do them all at one time! Some of the activities included identifying dinosaur bones, animal find badge, conservation badges, music badges, etc. This is a great new (and free!) way to explore this park and take home something to remember all the things you encountered and completed! 

I know there are many other great learning opportunities at this park! These were some of our favorites and I hope that you are able to learn and explore them with your family someday too! 

Learning through play is the best way! 

Until our next adventure,

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Learning at Disney!

Please excuse our temporary absence... we have been traveling! 

   First, we headed back home to my parents house for some dress shopping as my younger sister is getting married this coming spring! Chickadee had a WONDERFUL time trying on flower girl dresses and kept saying "I feel like a princess!" and loved, loved, LOVED the mirrors to twirl in front of! 

   Then, only a few short days after returning from that trip, we headed to DISNEY WORLD! It was Chickadees first time there and we all had a blast! As a homeschooling family, we used parts of our trip as educational experiences! Nothing extra we did, but things we were already doing down there that could be used as learning opportunities! Over the next few posts, I will be explaining the opportunities we used for learning!

Learning at Epcot:


1. Learning about the ocean! Epcot has a wonderful kid-friendly ride and aquarium! "The Seas with Nemo and Friends" is a great area for kids of all ages! First you ride on a clam-shell ride that takes you through a continuation of the Nemo story, complete with scenes projected into a REAL fish aquarium and dolphin pool. The exit to the ride leads to an aquarium type setting full of different tanks filled with sea horses, tropical fish, coral reefs, eels, etc. There is also a pool for manatees (which have been rescued from the wild), a dolphin pool, and a LARGE tank filled with multiple types of sea life (sharks, sting rays, fish, etc.) You can take all the time you want exploring and learning! Also, in this area, is "Turtle talk with Crush" in which you and your child can learn about ocean life as Crush (the father turtle from finding Nemo) learns about humans through an interactive show. It is fun and educational too!

2. Natural wildlife abound throughout the park. In this particular picture, Chickadee climbed up on the railing and promptly stated "Hi Ducks!" as she watched them walk towards the water. With multiple lakes and a lot of trees, the natural wildlife is abundant. 

3. & 4. The 5 senses and Imagination! There is a ride called "Journey into the imagination" which has been there since I went as a young child. It is one of the rides that I remember from my first trip with MY family! It is a great ride full of fun surprises and encourages the use of imagination. It also discusses the use of our five senses and definitely gives you the opportunity to use them both during the ride and after. When you exit the ride, you exit into an interactive play area using different senses. In the pictures above, Chickadee is running to different squares, when stood upon, played different instrument sounds. She had a blast finding one to stand on, listening to the sound, then looking for the matching instrument picture on the wall! All in all, a great experience to incorporate learning and play all together!

5. & 6. Geography/ Different Cultures! The World showcase at Epcot has many different countries to visit. In the pictures above, we were eating at a Japanese restaurant where they cook the food at your table. Chickadee got to experience this kind of dining, authentic Japanese food, and even tried using chopsticks! (Which she was successful at! Making her Dad, who lived in Japan for 2 years, very proud!) There are also places called "Kidcot" stops in each country where you can get a "passport" to take to each of these places and do an activity. Chickadee got to see how her name is written in Japanese, Arabic, see what the Canadian flag looks like, among other fun activities. These "passports" are free and can be picked up at any of the kidcot stations! 

*Other opportunities- 
   There is a ride that takes you on a journey through the past and into the future; There is a ride called Mission: Space which simulated a mission to mars and what it might be like to fly/control a spaceship; there is a ride that talks about Energy and its importance in everyday life; Test-track is a ride which lets you design your own car and "test" it in different circumstances (ie: Wet roads, bumpy roads, high speeds, etc) and at the end of the ride, you see how your car adds up. (Side note: Chickadee designed her own car (its all computerized) and scored a 208 and the top score for the day was 227! We were pretty impressed... maybe we have a future engineer...); Innovations buildings- we were only able to do one of the two due to time, but I LOVED the one we got to check out! Inside they had a fire safety course which was an interactive game followed with a "practice drill" and a real firetruck to look at and explore. It also had an interactive banking challenge (for any age) that taught responsible money decisions and how to save/invest wisely.

I am sure that there are many, many, many other great learning opportunities that I have neglected to remember, but these were some of the ones we used as a "learning" day at Disney!

Learning through play is the best way!


Disclaimer: These thoughts and ideas are purely those of myself and my family. I am not being paid for these thoughts, posts, or advertisement.