Patterns and Beads: Preschool Fun

August 17, 2012

Guess what my 4-year-old is doing that kept  him completely focused for over an hour this morning.

We borrowed some pony beads from his sister and a dug a few pipe cleaners out of the craft cupboard.

And since I suggested he try to make some patterns with the beads, we’re calling it ‘pre-school math’.

Don’t you love cute chubby fingers?  (Especially when he’s been painting nails with his older sister, who is the only girl in the family. :-))

The final result?  A proud boy with his necklace.

Supply ideas:

  • Pipe cleaners.
  • Pony beads or any other larger beads that little fingers can handle.
  • Round cereal like Cheerios, Fruit Loops, or Apple Jacks so you can eat your creation when you’re done.
  • One or more bored children.

Activity ideas

  • Start by sorting the different colored pony beads into their own containers at the beginning = more math!
  • Cut the pipe cleaners shorter to make bracelets and rings, or twist two together to make a necklace.  Bend a hook on one end to keep the beads from sliding off the edge.  To finish the piece, bend a small hook in each end and then tuck the sharp point under a bead.
  • Start with simple patterns and move to more complex ones.
  • Demonstrate new patterns and play the “What comes next?” game by starting a pattern and asking the other person what the next beads are.  Take turns so your child can try to stump you too.
  • Write a blog post about the activity so your little one can grin at his pictures on the computer.  🙂

Do you have any fun preschool activities that keep the kiddoes busy?  I can always use good ideas!


Posted under Homeschool Crafts, Math Curriculum

Free Make-it Take-It @ Michaels Next Week

December 17, 2011

Photo by Alexbruda

If you’re looking for something fun to do with the kids next week, head over to Michaels, where they will be having three FREE “Make-it Take-it” craft sessions next week.  Here’s the schedule for our area.  Make sure to verify with the store in your neighborhood before going:

  1. Monday, Dec. 19th, 11am – 1 pm:  Camille’s Fun Dough Shapes
  2. Wednesday, Dec. 21st, 11 am – 1 pm: Orion’s Foam Block Stamping
  3. Friday, Dec. 23rd, 11 am – 1 pm: Olier’s Sand & Glitter Art


Posted under Homeschool Crafts

Secret Ingredient to the Best Homemade Playdough

October 7, 2010

Citrus Orange play-dough on the left, Yummy Strawberry on the right.

I got a great tip from a Kindergarten teacher:

The next time you decide to whip up a batch of homemade play-dough, add the secret ingredient:

A package of unsweetened Kool-Aid!

It not only colors the play-dough nicely, but it gives it a yummy smell that covers up any salt or flour smell.

Here’s one of the recipes we like:


  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 c salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 Tablespoon oil
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 package of unsweetened Kool-Aid


  1. Combine all ingredients in a pan and stir.
  2. Use a whisk if needed to get all the lumps out.
  3. Cook over medium heat.
  4. Keep stirring through the lumpy stage until it pulls away from the pan and a ball forms.
  5. Store in a baggy or container so it won’t dry out.

It usually only takes me 10 minutes, start to finish.  Simple and easy!

If you want to see exactly what the dough looks like being made, check out my playdough making tutorial with lots of pictures.  (It’s a slightly different recipe using Alum instead of cream of tartar – both work well.)

Or, for another fun craft dough, here’s a video of us making flubber slime.  (Try to ignore the crying baby in the background 🙂

If you have any other fun make-at-home recipes for young kids, I’d love to hear about them.

Posted under Homeschool Crafts

The Cost of Keeping a Homeschooling Toddler Busy

April 7, 2010

With my youngest almost 2, he’s sometimes a handful while I’m trying to help the older kids with their school.  This morning, he saw the paint bottles we had out yesterday and got all excited.  I stripped him down to his diaper and set him at the table to paint.  I stuck around for a bit to help him, and he seemed very engrossed and excited to just sit there and paint.

I went into our schoolroom, off the kitchen, to help the other kids with some online spelling and Teaching Textbooks math.

Here’s what I found about 15 minutes later:

“What?  I was just painting.  You said I could paint.  And no, I don’t have a dirty diaper.  It’s just paint.”

Cost of 15 minutes helping the other kids with their school = 20 minutes for a bath, new diaper (his was dry), 5 minutes washing down both chairs, 5 minutes rinsing out two very brown rags, the paint plate, and 3 sopping brushes.

A baby who loves trying new things = Priceless  🙂

Posted under Homeschool Crafts, Toddler Tips

Need Some Fun Indoor Game Ideas for the Kids?

January 13, 2010


Are your kids going a bit stir-crazy being stuck indoors during the winter?  Disney’s Family Fun website has this cool list of table top games the kids can design, make, and play indoors.  It’s a great homeschool day bribe to break up math and Latin.

Here are a few easy favorites:


P.S.  Do you have any good indoor boy-energy using ideas?  I’ve got 4 stir-crazy boys and both I and my daughter would love some ideas!

Posted under Homeschool Activities, Homeschool Crafts

Gingerbread House Christmas Tradition: Recipes, Pictures, How-to Tutorial

December 16, 2009

gingerbread house

One of the kids favorite Christmas traditions is the gingerbread house.  Yes, it’s the candy, candy, candy.  🙂  Plus, the anticipation of eating it after we admire it for a week or so.  There’s laughter, chocolate faces, sticky fingers, and a big mess that everyone helps clean up at the end.  The house smells and feels wonderful all day!

And we always invite a family over to participate.  So, the recipe and instructions here are for 2 houses:

First the dough – I’m not much of a plan ahead gal, so I don’t do the whole “refrigerate for 24 hours” that many gingerbread recipes say.  I just add a bit more flour so I can handle the dough.  🙂

Dough for two houses (also a great recipe for gingerbread men!)


  • 1 1/2 c. butter or margerine
  • 1 1/2 c. white sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 c. molasses

Add dry ingredients and mix well.

  • 12 cups flour (I use fresh ground whole white wheat flour)
  • 1 T ground ginger
  • 1 T cinnamon
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 T baking soda

Divide into 3 portions on three greased cookie sheets:


Spread with spatula and/or rolling pin


until about 1/4 in thick


Bake at 350 for 20 – 25 mins until not glossy and toothpick comes out clean.  (bake 10 – 12 mins for gingerbread men)

Some people cut out the dough in the house shapes before baking, but that’s too much work for me, plus you don’t get as nice of edges to build with as you do when you cut it after baking.

Cut the following out of each cookie sheet:

  1. 4 side walls – 7 in x 5 in rectangles
  2. 4 roof pieces – 8 in x 5 in rectangles
  3. 4 end pieces (the fronts and backs of the houses) – a 6 in wide x 5 in tall rectangle topped by a triangle whose tip is 3 inches tall from the center top of the 6 in side of the square.  I hope that makes sense:  Draw a 6 x 5 rectangle.  Find the center of one of the 6 inch sides.  Measure up 3 inches.  Draw a triangle coming to a point at that 3 inch mark = a triangle on top of a rectangle.


Whip up the frosting (a double batch):

  • 5 c powdered sugar
  • 1/2 t cream of tartar
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/2 t. vanilla

Beat until it stiffens and will stand up a bit when you pull the beaters out of it.  It dries fast, so keep it covered if you’re not using it right away.

Glue the walls together and let them dry a bit (5-15 mins) before attaching the roof if you’re having trouble keeping things together.  The longer you can let the house dry, the better.  Make sure you use the smaller rectangles for the walls and save the longer ones for the roof.  You could even break up the activity by gluing the house first, and then working on getting the candy out in bowls, play a game together, etc., while the houses dry.  (If you’re desperate, a hair dryer can help a bit, just don’t let it get hot.  Use the low setting.)

glue walls

The fun part:  Decorate with candy and try not to eat too much!

Here are some fun ideas to try and build:

  • Snowmen out of marshmallows held together with toothpicks, candy corn noses, mini-chocolate chip eyes, and Skittle buttons.
  • A pile of logs or fences out of Tootsie Rolls.
  • Windows and benches with Keebler chocolate graham or grasshopper cookies.
  • Build cars out of cookies with round candies for wheels.
  • Line edges and paths with pull apart licorice.
  • Make a pond by spreading some frosting with a bit of blue food coloring, line with licorice and add some Swedish Fish.
  • Put gummi worms in a garden with broken oreos stuck to frosting for dirt.
  • Starbursts make great bricks.


Try not to eat it for at least a day 🙂


What a fun evening!


Posted under Homeschool Activities, Homeschool Crafts

47 Amazing Pumpkin Carving Patterns Video – Get Ideas.

October 30, 2009

When visiting family last year, we were introduced to a whole new world of pumpkin carving. 

I’m normally a ‘triangle and jagged teeth’ type, when carving faces on pumpkins, but I had no idea how creative the professionals could get.

My sister-in-law was born on Halloween and now celebrates it with a vengeance.  Family and friends come over the whole week before Halloween, carving and carving and carving . . .

(Tip: And I learned that if you want an early pumpkin carving to last a few extra days, one trick is to get a big tote full of water and immerse the whole carved pumpkin for a nice ‘plumping’ soak, and it’s as good as new.)

I hope you enjoy taking a look at all the pumpkins.  There are some great ideas here:

Posted under Homeschool Crafts

Flubber Science Experiment – The Best Kid’s Craft Video!

August 28, 2009


I posted a recipe for Flubber last year and we decided it would be a fun rainy day activity to do today.

(Especially, since the kids were moaning with boredom because they are grounded from the computer, the TV, AND all their basement toys – I’m tired of cleaning them up)

Here’s the recipe again:

Bowl #1 – Mix thoroughly

  • 1 cup white glue
  • 3/4 c warm water
  • food coloring (opt.)

Bowl #2 – mix thoroughly

  • 1/2 c. warm water
  • 2 t. Borax (20 Mule Team is one brand)

After mixing each bowl separately, mix them together.  It is amazingly cool as a polymer is formed.   Read about the science behind the reaction here

Stir with a spoon, or for the more adventurous, mix with your hands.  Don’t quit, the gluey slime will suddenly harden into a great cross between slime and silly putty.

Even the baby can enjoy Flubber, just make sure he doesnt’ eat it.


Posted under Homeschool Crafts, Science Curriculum

Carnival of Homeschooling: We’ve Got Style!

August 25, 2009


Homeschoolers have Style!  Lots of it, in all kinds of flavors.

With the freedom homeschooling affords, comes individual style.  We can afford to experiment, jump around, take a leisurely path through phonics, or whatever suits our family best.

Check out these styles!





ChristineMM of The Thinking Mother shares thoughts about unique classes taught by subject matter experts that homeschoolers can take advantage of in her article The Thinking Mother: Homeschool Filmmaking Class for My Kids This Fall.

Shannon tells of her experience with filing a “notice of intent” to homeschool: Get this . . . posted at Mountaineer Country.

If you’ve wondered why public schools don’t teach based on skill level instead of age, Susan Gaissert writes about how that may be changing in:  Who is Leading When It Comes to Educational Innovations? posted at The Expanding Life.

Elena LaVictoire presents A few tips for Ohio homeschoolers posted at My Domestic Church.

If you’ve given some thought to a homeschool name or ID cards, Beverly has some tips in “Do You Name Your Homeschool?” at Beverly’s Homeschooling Blog.

Barbara, from Barbara Frank Online, motivates us with some encouragement for the new school year in Fasten Your Seat Belts…..

And Christine gives us her take on planning the school year and juggling paperwork in Planning the School Year at Our Curious Home.




Need a fun, make-at-home, game to liven up your school drills?  Kris presents Giant Board Game posted at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Kaye presents Rainy Day + Chuck E. Cheese = Happy Grandkids & Grandparents! posted at  “Chuck E. Cheese can be a great “friend” to grandparents who help with their grandkids’ homeschooling programs!”

Summer presents A Day In Our Homeschooling Life posted at Wired For Noise.




In How to Educate for Beautiful Results, posted at Pajama School Blog, Natalie Wickham shares the importance of identifying and working on the parts that ultimately contribute to a whole education.

Make sure to check out these great art ideas:  Julie Moses presents Follow the Yellow Brick Road- More Oz projects! posted at Kids Art Projects and Lessons at Ms. Julie’s Place.  “Just a few projects to get us going somewhere over the rainbow!”

Annette Berlin presents 37 Ways To Share Crafts With Kids posted at Craft Stew.  “If you love crafting, chances are good you want to share that love with your children. Here are some easy (and frugal) ways to help your child also develop an interest in crafting.”




Kathy presents her review of Andrew Peterson’s North! Or Be Eaten: The Wingfeather Saga Book 2: Homeschool Review posted at Reviews.

Dave Roller presents Reading Programs posted at Home School Dad.  “I wanted to share some of the reading programs my children have been participating in.”

Amanda gives an in-depth look into the history of the atomic bombs dropped at the end of WWII in The Daily Planet » Blog Archive » The “Little Boy? Was Dropped posted at The Daily Planet.

Stephanie shares her excitement about learning Latin for the first time together with her children in I Am Just The Lead Student, That’s All at All About Homeschool.

Ruby shares her insight into using computers, the internet, and online learning to have a positive impact in schooling with one article at Freehold2 called “Internet as a Teaching Tool” and another titled “Online Learning Benefits” at School’s Out.




Need some ideas for field trips?  Kristen Hamilton presents A Day in the Life – Field Trips posted at A Day in the Life – Homeschool Blogger.

If you’re trying to plan for fun AND learning this fall, check out this post:  The Family presents What to do, what not to do posted at Once Upon a Family.

Lynda at The Adventures of A Princess and the Bear writes Bear’ Geography: “about our doing geography and learning the continents with literature and lapbooking. We are making an apple pie in this post, to go along with the book, How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World

John shares thoughts along with the inspirational story of a Zac, a homeschool teen who sailed around the world alone.  He writes Home School Encourages Independence In  Learning and Life at Independent Learning and Home Schooling.  He says, “Rather than isolating students, home school encourages students to develop independence in the way they handle the way they live and the way they learn.”

Amy shares her summertime adventures in Summer Time Learning posted at Kids Love Learning.

We can all empathize with Janine at Why Homeschool who writes about struggles with starting backup with school in “Not Quite Ready to Start School.”



Margaret writes about her plans for not teaching history this school year at Semi-Schooling History posted at Two Kid Schoolhouse

Barbra Sundquist presents Do You Need to Get Angry Before Anyone Listens? posted at Barbra Sundquist.  “Have you ever found yourself thinking, “Why is it that I have to get angry to get what I want??

Lynn shares her successful first week of school along with some great resources, ideas, and links.  Check out First Week of School Done! posted at Eclectic Education – Homeschool Blogger.

Ben presents 7 Ways to Save Money on Back to School Shopping posted at Money Smart Life.

Scott Palat presents Parental Involvement Affects the Academic Success of Children posted at TutorFi.

Freestyle – a bit of everything


Susan Ryan presents Open Education – It’s the Learning that Counts posted at Corn and Oil.  “There are many high quality, free learning resources available for homeschoolers, including MIT’s free online courses.”

Shelly presents Vintage Video – Jay Can Do It posted at Homemade Homeschoolers.  “This episode of Vintage Video – Jay Can Do It – is part of the Homemade Homeschoolers Podcasts. The post includes thoughts about the difference between how non-homeschoolers define “socialization” and how we at Homemade Homeschoolers define it. We hope you enjoy!”

And if you haven’t settled into a homeschooling style yet, check out Choosyhomeschooler’s article PURLs of Wisdom Blog » Choosing a Teaching Style or Homeschooling Method posted at PURLs of Wisdom Blog.

Help Aimee out with some new lunch ideas as she shares hers in Homeschool Talk: School lunches at Aimee’s Land.



If you haven’t done the soda bottle and Mentos experiment, you’re in for some fun.  See how Lara DeHaven did it in A Homemade Geyser posted at Texas Homesteader.  My boys are itching to do this!

And if you need some ideas to let your enjoyment and study of nature branch out into other science topics, check out Katie Glennon and her article: Using Nature Study to Study all Areas of Science posted at Katie’s Homeschool Cottage.



Leah at The Courtney Six shares Just In Case I Haven’t Mentioned It Lately…:  “My thoughts on why I’m so glad we homeschool.”

Amy at Raising Arrows presents “The Shame On Me Sea“.  The homeschooling parent’s life is often fraught with guilt. Amy writes about her own personal struggle to stay out of the Shame On Me Sea.

I’m grateful, too!

I hope you enjoyed this edition of the Homeschool Carnival.  Thank you for all your contributions!

Please take a moment to comment and/or spread the word by posting to your blog, Twitter, Facebook, etc.

Next week the carnival will be held at Home Grown and submissions are due Monday, Aug. 31st at 6 pm.  Visit here to submit your post.

Or if you’d like to peruse previous editions, they are listed at Why Homeschool.

Thank you again to all those who took the time to submit posts and share!

— Misty

Posted under Blog Carnivals, Field Trips, Homeschool Activities, Homeschool Crafts, Homeschool Curriculum, Homeschool Life, Homeschool Websites

Junk Mail, Collages, and Fun Art Class Projects.

March 12, 2009


“Doll Faces Flower”  by Brooke

Here’s and ‘oldie but goodie’ idea next time you’re looking for a hands-on art activity: 

Collages!  Remember how much fun we had doing those in elementary school?  Ok, we didn’t have glue sticks back then, and I remember eating the glue paste (it smelled so good!), but it’s still a great activity.  It’s fun, cheap, easy, and best of all, minimal mess.

  1. Gather up old magazines, newspapers, catalogs, preferably for things your kids are interested in like the American Girl Catalog for my daughter.
  2. Pass out paper, scissors, and a extra glue sticks.
  3. Let them cut and glue to their hearts content.
  4. You can suggest ‘Themes’ like the flower my daughter made from doll heads, making a car by finding and cutting out all the parts from different vehicles, making people, fantasy characters, even new Pokemon characters by cutting and glue various parts together.
  5. It’s also some great pattern opportunities including biggest to smallest, sorting, venn diagrams, etc.


What are some of your favorite ‘easy’ hands-on and art activities?  I can always use more, especially when the kids are cooped up inside by the weather!

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Posted under Art Curriculum, Homeschool Crafts