Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Map Making

We made treasure maps. This was a great project for the kids and easy. The hardest part was waiting for the first step to dry.

1 1/2 Cup Coarse salt ( CG and SA used pickling salt, and I used the salt and sand mix that we use on the driveway. I wanted the stones in it.)
1 Cup flour
1 1/2 cup water
Mix the salt and flour then add the water to your desired thickness. Paint it on the cardboard and then let sit for two days to dry.

Any cardboard will work, we cut up a box.

mix the flour salt and water

Leave it to dry. The thicker areas will take longer.

She had a plan from the beginning and was ready.

We discussed and looked at pictures online of other maps versus landscapes.

 The edges of the board are frayed and jagged making it look like an old map.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Bouncy egg experiment

CG and SA love science experiments. We found this one on You Tube. Every child has to make a bouncy egg at some point. If you have never done this experiment you should try it.  The kids think it is so funny. Depending on the age of your children it can be a science lesson as well.

Place the egg in a jar cover with vinegar and let it sit for three days. Have the children observe what is happening inside the jar. After the three days are over take the egg out of the jar and bounce. We also examined the egg with a light.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


 We went into the woods looking for some empty bird nests. We found a few that were covered with snow but we couldn't get close enough for pictures. It was nice to find them because we are never able to find them during the summer.  While out for our walk we found some Virginia Creeper. We usually see this creeping into our raspberry plants in the spring.

We also spotted some Woodpecker holes in a dead tree. We have often seen a Pileated Woodpecker and heard it's laughter out here. We wondered if this is where it has been feeding.

The Virginia Creeper has been around our yard since we bought our house. At first we thought it was Poison Ivy. As seen in the picture below it has grown around a tree.

This may be the mother plant (I call it that anyway).  It was so large. As you can see this vine becomes woody. It is a very fast growing vine and has five leaves during the summer. The vines just keep wrapping around anything. It is often considered to be a problem plant.  I can imagine a small  structure, with Virginia Creeper planted all around it. As time goes by and it grows the leaves and wood fill in the structure and create a wonderful play place.  I see a future project!

I found this link for further information

I would like to hear about what others find in nature. Exploring, learning,  anything that is nature related.  What kind of bug, flower, animal, bird have you seen. What are you studying for weather etc.

Please join my link up so we all can learn more from nature.

Friday, January 27, 2012

How does it work? Take it apart!

CG and SA wanted to take apart an old toy and see how things are built. 

This ended up being a really good science lesson. They learned about gears, motors, sound, soldering, battery power, electric power, the list goes on and on. They used some problem solving skills to take apart some of the toys. This led to discussions about how the toys were made.

Mom's lesson give a child an old toy and a small screwdriver and they will be happy for hours.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

What do you think?

As a Homeschool Mom I always wonder if I am making the right decision when it comes to what I teach. I want to make sure that I feel comfortable, and that CG and SA are interested and learning. I think and rethink decisions sometimes as I am sure most Homeschool Moms do.

I started elementary education with US Geography, State Presidents, and a visual timeline. We also studied 6 events, places and people in history.  I have seen and heard that Ancient history is usually taught first.


How do children learn about Ancient Egypt if they don't understand Geography and time lines. I felt that it made sense to teach from where we are and then expand out.

Local community, State, Country, World.

Family tree, historic people, inventions.

What do you think? How do you teach History?

Kids Cake Auction

We hosted a kids cake auction at our local library this past year. We had so much fun. CG and SA picked the design of the cakes that they wanted. SA made a lego cake and CG a guinea pig cake.

Children in the community made cakes and bid on cakes. All proceeds went to the library.   

He is being very careful not to spill the sugar.

This was her first time using the mixer!

The lego cake. I failed to get a picture of the guinea pig cake, it was really cute though.

My favorite cake recipe.

Preheat oven to 350 F

3 C cake flour
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/4 t baking soda
 mix in bowl and set aside

1 1/2 C melted butter
1 1/4 C sugar
Beat in large bowl until fluffy

2/3 C milk
1 1/2 t vanilla extract
4 lg eggs
Then beat all ingredients together when all blended beat for two minutes.

Bake for 18 - 25 min depending on the pan you use.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Mom said yes to painting on the wall!

We are a family that really enjoys art. I try to incorporate a real art lesson a few times a week. I have no background in art so everything that I teach them is from research online and in books. Soon they will be taking a watercolor class, but until then they just create.

This past weekend they wanted to paint on their wall.  Oh no you can't do that was my first thought.  Then I realized that people do have painted murals on the wall and that it usually looks nice. I told them if they painted what they wanted on a piece of paper first then they could paint on the wall. This was just to make sure they had a plan.

Off they went to paint.....In no time they were back with their paintings complete. I taped off a section of the wall and they began. They did a wonderful job. The paintings look great, they had fun and Mom learned its not so bad for kids to paint on the wall.  With a plan that is.

CG's painting on the wall of a bird feeder, bird bath and bird. Original in upper left corner.

SA's painting on wall of a bird house. The original on right.

Sunday, January 22, 2012


We found some holes in our tree. Upon further examination, pictures and exchanging e-mails we determined that it could be Asian Longhorn Beetles ALB for short.  We were very concerned, the State Forest Entomologist came to take a look at our tree. She could not rule it out, so she wanted the US Forest Service to take a look at it.

A month or so past by and then I received an e-mail. The US Forest Entomologist scheduled a day and time to meet.  It was a very informative meeting, we learned about some pests and some new science words like the insect galleries.  The paths chewed by larva in the tree. Our tree had it right under the bark.   Good news was it is not ALB. Bad news.... some thing is living in there. Carpenter Worms a moth was his suggestion. We will have to wait until spring to see any more changes to the tree.

The US Entomologist was very friendly and smart. We spoke about homeschooling, science and nature. I love talking about those subjects. A few days later I received a package in the mail.

Of course the kids liked the tattoos. I know we will be learning from this information all summer.  Thank you to our US Entomologist! It was a very nice thing to do.

I would like to hear about what others find in nature. Exploring, learning,  anything that is nature related.  What kind of bug, flower, animal, bird have you seen. What are you studying for weather etc.

Please join my link up so we all can learn more from nature.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

We made BUTTER!

 We made our own butter. I never knew it was so easy. All that we needed was heavy cream and a mixer with a whisk attachment.  First let the cream come to room temperature. Pour it into the mixing bowl and use the whisk attachments. You may need to put a small towel over it because it does splash a little.

This would be how you would make whipped cream, it will look like that. You will go past the whipped cream stage and you will notice that it will start to separate.  When it looks like this then it is done. Buttermilk and butter.


Scoop out the butter and pour the buttermilk in a jar. Wash the butter in cold running water and work it a little until the water runs clear.  You can add herbs and freeze it if you want. Use the buttermilk for baking see our Donut Muffin recipe.

We also made some fresh English Muffins to go with the butter.

 This was a website that we found. It also has some suggestions on books. 
http://www.webexhibits.org/butter/index.html This was a fun and easy project for the kids to learn. You can explore history and science.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Donut Muffins!!!!!

One of our favorite baked snacks are donut muffins, they taste just like a donut but are not fried.  They are so yummy with some tea or coffee. The kids like them with milk.

24 T unsalted butter (room temp)
1 3/4 C suger
4 lg eggs
6 C flour
1T and 2t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1 3/4 t salt
1 t ground nutmeg
1-2/3 C milk
1/4 C buttermilk

for the coating
16 T unsalted butter
2C suger
2T ground cinnamon

Preheat muffins to 350 F In a large bowl cream butter, and suger. Then beat in eggs one at a time. Sift together flour, baking powder baking soda salt and nutmeg. In a seperate bowl combine the milk and buttermilk. Using a wooden spoon mix a quarter of the dry ingredients into the butter mixture then a third of the milk continue mixing dry then wet, alternating and ending with the dry. Mix until smooth. Greese and flour muffin tins and fill to the rim of each cup. Bake until firm, 35 min.

While baking melt butter for topping and in seperate bowl mix cinnamon and suger.  When muffins are cool enough roll in butter then in suger/cinn mixture place on rack.  Sometimes I wait another 5 minutes and roll them in the suger/cinn again.  It gives an extra coating. The kids love this part...of course.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Frugal Homeschooling Life

My husband and I are raising our children in a way that we believe will help them to be happy with their financial choices. We want them to be smart with money and not wasteful.

We don't hide our finances. We explain where and how money is earned and where it is spent. CG and SA save 1/3 of the money they earn or are given. We of course have had to have conversations about why we don't have cable or cell phones. Over all I think they understand.

The grocery store is a big deal for our family. We go with a list, that we create by looking through store circulars. CG and SA help find the items in the store. We discovered couponing this year. All of us are surprised at how easy it is and how much we save.

CG cutting coupons

Homeschooling makes learning so fun, last year for Geography we did a post card swap across America. It was very inexpensive and twice a week when they got postcards in the mail their faces lit right up. 

Lessons can be fun and inexpensive. Gardening, composting, nature study, reading, all these are frugal homeschooling lessons. Shopping at thrift stores, using coupons and saving money are also great lessons for children to learn.

Pheasant and Opossum tracks, did they cross paths or were they hanging out together?

We are enjoying our frugal homeschool life.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

IN THE WOOD.... nature study

I am a naturalist and I love learning as much as I can from what is around me. As a homeschooling family we learn lots from outside. Things present themselves and it becomes a learning moment. I will always stop to look at a bug, try to identify it and have the kids ask questions about it. If it is something we have never seen we will look in books and check online to find out more information. We enjoy walking in the woods, and exploring in the yard.

CG loves birds and bugs. She will put many worms on her arm and watch them slither around. She will attempt to let crawl on her any bug that I say is not going to bite.  

SA loves collecting anything from outside specifically rocks and leaves.  We have many rocks in our house. He likes insects as well, not as daring as CG but she is convincing him. 

I would like to hear about what others find in nature. Exploring, learning,  anything that is nature related.  What kind of bug, flower, animal, bird have you seen. What are you studying for weather etc.

Please join my link up so we all can learn more from nature.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Blog Buttons and link ups

I have been trying to create a blog button with a drop down window.  Boy am I having problems. One site said to put the picture in a post and save the address location.  I would really like to create a nature study link up. I have created a nice button.  I believe you can right click on it and save image location to link back to my blog. Here goes.....

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


"Mom I want to make a periscope"   Okay!  Supplies.....tissue box, 2 mirrors, 2 toilet paper rolls, and tape. They were very happy and the periscopes worked.  NO Spying!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Wizard Wands

I for some reason have been wanting to make Wizard Wands for a while.  Today I again asked CG and SA if they wanted to make one and they replied....No.

So I decided to make myself one anyway.  I gathered all my supplies. I used beads, a pipe cleaner, a wooden dowel and a rock.  Of course I also needed my glue gun, paint and a paint brush. If I had been more prepared I would have gathered some items outside like little pebbles, acorns, wooden vines, sticks etc.

To make one simply pick out the size stick that you want, add your pebbles, rocks, wire, vines, whatever you are using for your design. Then cover it all with paint, I used acrylic. Place it on wax paper to dry, I think that it could use two or three coats of paint depending on what color you choose. 

Two little children changed their minds and decided they wanted to make one too. Wow, who knew that would happen? While they were making theirs I noticed that if you just cover the end with colored beads and paint the stick you will have a Fairy Wand.  I am sure I will be hearing spells this weekend.

Here is my Black one.

He was very happy with how it was beginning to look.

All three completed, and an afternoon of fun!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Baking Pumpkin Scones!

We really enjoy baking in our house. We love pumpkin and found a pumpkin scone recipe, it is good! We made some and made some more. Then we made some for friends and gave some away for Christmas.  They are fun to make and YUMMY to eat. C.G and S.A. can measure the length and width then cut the triangles. The best part is adding the glaze.  This is not my recipe but you can find it here.