Thursday, September 27, 2012

Baking soda and vinegar trays

The boys both have colds this week, so being cooped up to avoid sharing their illness has left them a little bit squirrely. Fortunately, I've had a rainy-day project tucked away in the back of my mind for a while, and today was the perfect day to pull it out.

(Thank you, Pinterest, for the inspiration! If anyone knows the original source of the pinned image, please do let me know so that I can credit the owner properly.)


Food dye
Baking soda
Baking pans
Medicine droppers


I gave each boy three re-purposed applesauce cups filled with food-dyed vinegar, a tray filled with half a box of baking soda, and a medicine dropper. A muffin tin is another option for holding the coloured vinegar.

Fill up dropper with vinegar and squirt it into the tray! Simple yet fascinating.

After watching the initial fizzes several times, the boy moved on to experimenting. He put the dropper underneath the baking soda before squirting the vinegar out. He built little baking soda volcanoes and squirted the vinegar inside ("It runs down the sides just like a real volcano!") He mixed colours, made rainbows, squirted vinegar on top of already wet areas, and more.

The biggest challenge for them was figuring out how to use the droppers most efficiently and effectively. The toddler never did quite get the hang of filling it up well, but it was great fine-motor practice anyway. Fortunately, big brother was happy to help (and Mommy helped too, of course!).

Then again, if all else fails, just pour it in directly!

Naturally, it didn't take long for the fingers to start poking around in there, touching, mixing, and squeezing the mixture. This made it an excellent sensory experience in addition to the scientific observation of watching the vinegar interact with the baking soda.

He was impressed with how hard and crumbly it got once it was full of vinegar.

A definite success! The boys played with the trays for a full hour and would have played longer had we not had to stop for something else. Clean up was quick and easy!


Science: Observation, description, sensorial experience
Fine arts: Visual arts (creativity, artistic design)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Lego Maze

I had casually mentioned the idea of making a Lego maze to the boy several weeks ago. He thought it sounded interesting at the time, but he was focused on something else and so nothing came of it.

Today he came to me and asked if I remembered when I told him about making a Lego maze. I sure did, so he asked if I'd make one with him. The two of us made ourselves comfortable on the floor and began work on this creation.

He quickly took the lead, adding all sorts of extra things that I wouldn't have thought of. Once it was finished, we took turns carefully tilting the maze to roll the rubber ball from beginning to end. It was a fun challenge!

He continued to add to and modify his maze throughout the week, until at last it succumbed to the usual Lego creation fate: his little brother got hold of it.

Good-bye, maze. You were fun while you lasted.

(Thank you, Pinterest, for the inspiration!)


Mathematics: Shape and space
Fine Arts: Visual arts (creativity, artistic design)

Thank you, Oma!

The boys' Opa brought them some stickers and a letter from their Oma on a recent trip to the city. They were very excited and immediately began creating pictures with the stickers.

Today the boy came to me and asked how to spell "Oma" and "stickers". He wanted to write a thank you letter to his Oma. I helped him figure out how to spell the words, and he took on the rest of the project himself.

He then asked me for an envelope. After finding one that fit his letter, he addressed the envelope with a very large "TO OMA FROM JACOB", then brought it to me and asked me to write the rest of the mailing address on it for him. With the address now complete, he went to the drawer, found a stamp, and stuck it on the corner. Then he placed the envelope on the front table and asked us to mail it for him, which we did soon after.

(Sadly, I forgot to take a picture of this one!)


Language Arts: Writing

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Crumbled leaf tree craft

Welcome, Autumn!

Part of our First Day of Fall celebration included a crumbled leaf craft, taking advantage of the many dead leaves in our front yard.


1 sheet of construction paper, brown
1 sheet of construction paper, any colour
Dry leaves
Markers (optional)
Stickers (optional)


Draw a tree on the brown construction paper. Cut it out.

(Because I was doing this activity with multiple children, including toddlers, I cut out the trees myself in one stacked go. Normally I'd have left it up to the boy to draw and cut out the tree himself.)

Glue the tree onto the second sheet of construction paper.

Crumble the dead leaves. (This part is absolutely thrilling when you're five, by the way.)

Put glue onto the tree branches. Sprinkle the leaf crumbs onto the glue; shake off the excess. Repeat until the tree is sufficiently covered.

Optional: Decorate with markers and/or stickers. (The boy carefully sounded out each and every sticker as he placed it on his paper; great life-based child-led reading practice!)

VoilĂ ! Tree complete.

(Thank you, Pinterest, for the inspiration!)


Fine Arts: Visual arts (mixed media, artistic design)
Language Arts: Reading

Fall leaf sugar cookies

Part of our journey towards a more intentional life has included incorporating rhythm into our days, weeks, and years, ensuring that the things we value are not forgotten as our time idly slips away from us.

One aspect of this rhythm has been the deliberate observance of the passing of the seasons. As such, we chose to celebrate the first day of fall this year by making leaf sugar cookies. Simple, fun, and memorable, the boys declared it the best day ever.

(Thank you, Pinterest, for the inspiration!)

We began by whipping up a batch of sugar cookie dough (I used this recipe based purely on ratings). Before chilling the dough, we separated it into batches and added food dye.

Once it was chilled (and dinner was finished), we moved on to the fun part!

Pull off pieces of dough and arrange them in a patchwork on your floured (or, in our case, "parchmented") surface.

Roll the dough into a smooth surface, 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick.

Beginning cutting out your cookies! We made leaves, turkeys, and pumpkins. The boy and I each used a toothpick to draw designs on the cookies. The toddler ate the dough.

The re-rolled dough had more of a marbled effect. (By the third re-roll, the mixed colours were looking pretty dingy.)

The rest is self-explanatory! Bake 6 to 8 minutes at 400F (or as per your recipe) and cool on a wire rack. Enjoy!


Mathematics: Numbers, patterns, spatial relations
Social Studies: Co-operative participation in groups
Fine Arts: Visual arts (creativity, artistic design)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Reading milestone!

Today the boy read his first book, front to back, since completing Set 1 of the Bob Books.

He read a Thomas & Friends Step 1 reader, Stuck in the Mud.

Congratulations to him!


Language Arts: Reading

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Splash park!

After being closed for upgrades all summer, the new and improved splash park at our local playground has now been reopened. (And just in time for fall!)

The boys had a great time exploring it today, as well as running around the playground and green space as usual. Two hours later, they were ready for the hike back home. Glad we got to check it out before the fall weather hit!


Physical Education: Physical activity

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Thank you dahlia

The boy recently expressed his love of a friend's dahlias. She was kind enough to give the boy one of his own to take home, a lovely small red one.

After putting it in a jar of water, the boy sat down to draw a thank you picture. He carefully drew a picture of the flower in the jar, even including the "Happy Easter" sticker that was on it from a few months ago. He wrote a short thank you message and put it away for safekeeping until the next time we would see her. He then asked me to write it down somewhere so we wouldn't forget.

Today we were headed her way, so we brought the picture along. He gave it to her and told her what it was for, and she was pleased to receive it.

(Sadly, I forgot to take a picture of this one!)


Language Arts: Writing
Fine Arts: Visual arts

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Farm Day

Today we joined some other families at a local petting farm to celebrate a friend's birthday.

The boys had a great time walking around the farm, learning about the animals, feeding the rabbits, and petting the goats. The boy got to practice milking a cow, which turned out to be harder than it looked! We enjoyed a picnic lunch there afterwards.

We talked about why some animals were accessible to us and others were kept in their own separate areas where the public couldn't touch them. It was interesting to speculate on the various reasons.

Happy birthday to our newly-two-year-old friend!


Science: Observation
Health: Personal safety
Physical Education: Physical activity

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Student Learning Plan

All posts will include a section at the bottom which categorizes the activity according to the following Student Learning Plan. You can also search by category using the Labels to the left, below the Blog Archives.

Student Learning Plan

Numbers (Life of Fred, addition, skip counting, measuring, math games)
Patterns (as found in surrounding environment)
Shape and Space (Lego, blocks)

Language Arts
Reading and Viewing (daily reading, Bob Books, magnetic letters)
Writing and Representing (printing, copying words)
Speaking and Listening (book discussions: predictions, questions, review)

Health (nutrition, personal safety)

Science (observations, descriptions)

Social Studies (family relationships, mapping)

Fine Arts
Drama (story dramatizations)
Music (singing, rhythm)
Visual arts (drawing, painting)

Physical Education (physical activity, skill building)

The journey begins!

Hello! Welcome to the official beginning of our homeschooling journey.

The Boy, five and a half years old, is now a kindergartner. As residents of British Columbia, we have chosen to enroll in the home learners program of a local school, which allows us the benefit of additional resources.

Our homeschooling philosophy leans toward the life-based unschooling method. This has thus far successfully brought us to the early stages of reading, writing, spelling, math, science, and more with no formal teaching or curriculum. We look forward to seeing where The Boy's interests take us next!

This blog will serve as documentation of our life learning, with occasional special appearances by his brother (The Toddler) and his sister (The Baby). We'd love for you to follow along!