Friday, September 30, 2011

Minnetrista: Nature Study Field Trip

If you are ever in the East Central Indiana area, one great museum and gardens to visit is Minnetrista. The museum has exhibits, presentations, and classes. Right now they have The Bones exhibit, which goes perfectly with our anatomy unit. Along with the museum there are many garden areas along a walking path and Oakhurst Gardens. We especially love to visit the gardens, which are free.


Sculpture Outside Minnetrista Museum

We love to come to Minnetrista to do nature studies, and try to come at least one time during each season. Many times my kids bring their clipboards, nature study notebook pages and colored pencils along.

Is it fall already? Well as you can tell, these aren’t recent pictures. We visited the gardens at the end of August---which seems like just yesterday. This is one of the little ponds my girls love to explore. Usually there are goldfish and snails in there. If you come at the right time, you can spot tadpoles too.


There are so many little areas to observe nature. This water lily was floating in the Children’s Garden area.


We like to keep track of the different types of animals we spot each time.

It is the perfect place to do nature studies and stretch your legs.


Or jump if you prefer.


We need to visit soon because right now there is apple cider at the Orchard Shop. I’m sure the leaves are all changing colors too (unless they all blew off  in this last storm).

Minnetrista is like having a nature center in my own backyard—except I don’t have to mow or weed. :)  We enjoy the gardens and the many educational opportunities that are offered here.

Linking Up To:

Join Me at The Homeschool Post!

You Might Be Interested In:

Spring 2010 Nature Walk
Fall 2009 Nature Walk
Fall 2009 Nature Walk Con't
May 2009 Nature Walk
Drawing Nature

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Top-10 Pinterest Pins

I was a hold-out on Pinterest for awhile, but gave in and joined. Boy am I glad I did! I get so much inspiration and many ideas from that site.  I thought it would be fun to see what other bloggers found interesting from Spell Outloud. Here are the top 10 items pinned from SpellOutloud:

Telephone printable

Soft Words Jar

Cassie’s Workbox System

Cassie’s Workbox System Cards

Ice-Cream Shop

Ice-cube painting

Melt in Your Mouth Muffins

Learning About Bones

There’s a Wocket in my Pocket

Words are Like Toothpaste

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

App Activities: Splingo!

Each week I look for different ways to utilize our iPad in our homeschool. Recently my friend Pam and I have been brainstorming ways to use the iPad at home and in her speech classes. While looking through various apps, I came across Splingo’s Language Universe.  What caught my attention was that this app was designed to help children listen and understand verbal language. Since I was currently working on listening skills with my 3yr. old and 4.5 year. old, I thought this might be a good app to try out.

splingoapp splingoweb

What Is It?

Students must follow Splingo the alien’s instructions by moving or dragging objects on the screen. Teachers/Parents can customize which aspect of language you want your student to practice: nouns, verbs, prepositions, and adjectives. Since this app was developed in the UK, there is the US or UK dictionary option.


Once students complete a series of instructions correctly, they get to add a piece on to Splingo’s rocket.

Splingo contains 4 different levels:

•Level 1 -contains instructions of 1 main word and is suitable for children at a developmental level of about 18 months onwards, e.g. “find the apple”

•Level 2 - contains instructions of 2 main words and is suitable for children at a developmental level of about 2-3 years, e.g. “find the red apple”

•Level 3 - contains instructions of 3 main words and is suitable for children at a developmental level of about 3- 4 years and upwards, e.g. “find the big red apple”

•Level 4 - contains instructions of 4 main words and is suitable for children at a developmental level of about 4 years and upwards, e.g. “give the big red apple to the boy”

What We Thought:


Right away this was a hit with both of my girls. They had to listen carefully to the instructions and think about what action to take. Occasionally the instructions were hard to understand, but the girls could click on Splingo and have the message repeated. I liked that I could choose which language aspects to work on and the complexity of the instructions. My girls thought they were just playing a game but were actually working on concepts such as size, color, shape, and positional language (on, above, under etc.) I’m happy with this app purchase and I can see many ways to utilize it in our homeschool.


Splingo is designed for both iPhone and iPad and is currently priced at $2.99

You might also be interested in:

App Activities: There’s A Wocket in My Pocket
App Activities:Berenstain Bears
App Activities: Summer App List

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Monday, September 26, 2011

Handmade Gift Labels

I know, it seems too early to be thinking about Christmas already but right now there are some good deals going around. So far by shopping the toy clearance shelves at local stores, I've completed half my christmas shopping! Whoohoo! For my family, the fall months through the first of the year are non-stop birthdays and holidays. So this year I'm trying to be prepared. I just saw that Vistaprint is having a one-day sale on return address labels (ends Midnight Sept. 27.) You can get 140 FREE Return Address Labels!  With over 7,000 of designs to choose from, these labels are extremely versatile. The cool thing is that you don't have to make return address labels--you could make them gift labels. Since there is an upload your custom design, the options are endless. You will have to pay shipping and handling charges which range from $3.00 - $4.00 depending on where you live.

One year my girlfriends and I made sugar-scrubs as gifts. We stuck a label on the jar, tied some ribbon and had cute teacher/friends Christmas gifts. This year we plan on making homemade vanilla extract and desserts in a jar. I think I’m going to design some labels to go on our homemade gifts.

Will you be making homemade gifts this year? If so, please share -- I’m always looking for gift ideas.

I’d love to look at what you’ve done so feel free to past posts of your gift ideas in the comments. I’ve started a Small Gifts Pinterest board and I’m always looking for new ideas to add there too.


Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site.


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Human Body: Learning About Muscles

We’re moving right along learning all about our body. This week we studied muscles. Isn’t it amazing all we can do just because we have muscles? We learned that we have over 600 muscles, that there are smooth muscles, cardiac muscles, and skeletal muscles.


We did a lot of movement and hands-on activities for this muscle lesson:

1. Each child had a partner. One was the look-out and the other had to try to tell all the muscles in his/her body not to move for 30 seconds. The look-out watched to see if that person could do it.

Teaching: Obviously we can’t tell all our muscles that they can’t move! The kids learned that they blinked, breathed, swallowed etc. all during that 30 sec. time-frame. I used this activity to illustrate the difference between voluntary and involuntary muscles.

2. We played a group game of line-tag. Since we meet in a gym, this was a fun game to get some wiggles out and illustrate the point that we need to use our muscles to keep them strong. With line-tag, kids can only run on the lines that are on the gym floor. Once they are tagged, they are out (or you can make them it and have multiple students who are it). I like this version of tag because it makes the kids think and strategize while playing.


3. Each child placed their hand on their bicep. They slowly lowered their arm to feel the muscle relax. Then they placed their hand on their triceps while their arm was lowered. They could feel their triceps contract.

Teaching: We learned that many skeletal muscles work together in pairs. While one muscle contracts, the other relaxes.

After observing their own muscles, we made a model of how muscles contract to pull the bones up. I printed this arm out from Scholastic’s Human Body: Easy Make and Learn Projects.



We went over some muscle examples in the My First Human Body coloring book.

Next it was time to observe some real muscles in the form of meat. Some of the children were surprised to find out that the meat was a muscle.

The kids pulled apart the meat to see the muscle fibers. This was a Try This! experiment from the Apologia Anatomy book.

Another busy, yet fun anatomy class!

Muscles Take-Home Sheet

To see what we’ve done so far click the image below:


Linking up to:

Science Sunday

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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Giveaway Winners

The Shunning DVD Winner:
Stacie said...

    Our favorite family friendly movie is The Cat In The Hat, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, and Santa Claus.

Theo DVD Winner:
Anonymous said...

    I always liked Noah's ark - can you imagine living with all those animals for almost a year!! YIKES! We'd love to check this DVD out =-)

We Choose Virtues Winner:
The Schneiders said...

    What a great product!! 

Here are the current We Choose Virtues Coupon Codes:
Use coupon code Maureen to purchase the virtues flash-cards (with or without scriptures) for $11.99 (usually $19.99).
Virtuemom which gives a 25% discount on the new Homeschol products:
the TEACHER faith-based cards or the Homeschool Package (this code expires in September)
Virtue15  for 15% off of anything in the cart.

Disclosure: There are We Choose Virtues affiliate links in this post. Thank you in advance for supporting this site.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Human Body: Learning About Bones

Last week we learned all about cells, and this week our focus was on Dem Bones! We learned why we need bones, what they do, and their names. Since I am teaching K-2nd graders, I try to incorporate many different activities to help them learn. This week we learned a song about bones, played a skeleton game, created a skeleton, and more.

First we learned that bones provide structure, make red blood cells, and store minerals we need. Next we learned the names of some of the bones. One of the first things that popped in my mind while preparing this lesson was the old song, “Dem Bones”. Bob Barner has a cute book that illustrates the song.

DembonesDem Bones by Bob Barner

Then I found a silly version on iTunes and played it for the kids. After listening to the song once, we played it again and pointed to all the parts during the song—and did our own silly bone dance.


Dem Bones by  Juice Music


After getting all our wiggles out, we put together a magnetic skeleton and labeled it.


I printed out a life-size toddler skeleton and gave each child a piece. Then they had to work as a group to put it together using their new knowledge on bones (yes, I could have done something more complicated, but I did not want to overwhelm them the first day.)

skeletongameSince we were already moving around, we sang the “Bone Bounce” song and played a version of “Simon Says”. You can find the printables to this in the Doin’ the Bone Dance article toward the bottom.


For our craft of the day, each child make a paper doll of their body. The front of the paper doll was decorated to look like them. The second paper doll was painted black (ahead of time by me) and the kids drew their skeleton with chalk. These dolls were layered together and attached with a brass fastener.


I bought these paper doll cutouts from Hobby Lobby in the summer because I figured I’d do something with them. The bad thing was that they were bigger than a piece of construction paper so I couldn’t just trace the doll onto a black piece of paper. To remedy that, I painted each person black. You could do the same thing, or you could find a smaller paper doll template and trace one on black paper.

fullskeletonOne of the moms in our group is a paramedic, so she brought in a full-sized skeleton. I wish I would have seen her drive up that day. I heard she strapped the skeleton in her front seat in order to drive it to class. I bet she got a couple of strange looks while driving. :)

We joined the older kids to observe chicken bones.

The kids broke a bone in order to see the marrow inside. They thought it was pretty cool and gross at the same time. :)

Here’s a movie version of “Dem Bones” that sings the song and gives more information about the bones. There were so many more fun things I wanted to do but knew I just would not have time to do. Check out my Bones Pinterest board for more ideas.

Each week my kids color in their My Body coloring book and draw or write about one thing they learned for the week as homework. You can find all the past posts on the human body by clicking the button below.

Bones Take-Home Sheet
Dem Bones Challenge Sheet


Linking up to:

Science Sunday

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Monday, September 19, 2011


Many times while reading a book I’ve wished I had access to maps to illustrate exactly where things were occurring in the story. Other times I needed a map to help my children learn where certain cities, states, rivers etc. were located but did not have one that could be printed and labeled. Bright Ideas Press came out with a perfect solution to both of my problems---WonderMaps!


What is it?

WonderMaps is a computer program that contains over 350 maps that can be easily customized by turning off or on various features.

There are:

  • historical or modern-day maps
  • outline, reference, political, or topographical maps
  • black-and-white or color maps

WonderMaps includes:

  • 60+ maps of the world
  • 60+ maps of the USA
  • 125 historical maps, including 25 biblical maps
  • The complete map sets from The Mystery of History vols. I–III and All American History vols. I & II

What We Thought:


This made me happy. Knowing that I could easily print multiple copies of  a map with just a click of a button.


This is the screen that greets you when you first open WonderMaps. Everything is neatly organized and laid-out. I found it easy to navigate and find what I needed.


Once you click to the map you want, you are brought to the individual map screen. On the left-hand side are boxes that you can either check or uncheck. For this map I only needed a black and white map of the world, so I clicked off all the other layers.


I did a little review with my middle daughter. We rolled a continent cube and whatever continent was face-up, she had to find on the map and color.


My son is reading about Lewis and Clark, so I pulled up some maps that would help him understand what he was reading. He was able to follow along on the map and see where Lewis and Clark went.

I love that I was able to use one program to do this. Being able to have so many maps at my fingertips will mean that I can save time searching for them on the internet. This is one resources that crosses into multiple subject-areas and I now consider WonderMaps one of my homeschool curriculum staples.

You can purchase WonderMaps at Timberdoodle and earn Doodle Dollars at the same time. Timberdoodle also has hands-on geography resources and geography puzzles to help students learn about the world.

Disclosure: As a member of Timberdoodle's Blogger Review Team I received a free copy of this program in exchange for a frank and unbiased review.

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