Spring Homeschooling Bird Study Ideas

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June 7, 2012

A few days ago, I found a chair by the back door with this beginner bird book perched on it, and my daughter out on the deck, engrossed in using the binoculars to try and spot as many birds as she could.

We like the book, but the birds listed are limited and we’re planning on moving up to this more ‘adult’ version:

She’s really taken to the whole “Nature Journal” idea and is drawing beautiful pictures of everything she sees:

I had to laugh, though, when I saw the box of crayons she used to ‘deck’ out her journal:

Or she’ll print a picture she takes, tape it in, and then write a few comments.

She was very excited to snap one of this swallow with “shimmery rainbow colors” as she described it.

And we were all excited one morning to find a whole family of goldfinches flitting around our garden and back yard.

She also attempted a homemade bird feeder that we weighted down with rocks (after the first one blew away) and filled with sunflower seeds, but sadly isn’t attracting any birds.  Do you have any good feeder/seed ideas that have worked for you?  She’d love to attract more birds to the back yard.

Have your kids had fun watching and studying birds?  I’d love some more ideas or books that you liked.  Please leave some suggestions in the comment section.

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Posted under Science Curriculum

Did any of you see the solar eclipse?

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May 31, 2012

We all ran outside eagerly to try and see the solar eclipse last week, but in Michigan it happened when the sun was very low in the horizon.

Darn trees!

I got a pretty sunset picture out of it, but it only looks like the beginning of a solar eclipse if you squint and hope.

Did any of you get to see it very well?

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Posted under Science Curriculum

And the Winner is . . .

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April 17, 2012

Congrats to Heidi, whose comment was randomly chosen as the winner of a the TripClip giveaway!  Molly from their company will be contacting her for shipping details.

And thank you for all your participation and great suggestions for printable activities.

– Misty

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Posted under Homeschool Bargains

Last Chance for a free TripClip

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April 16, 2012

The Free Trip Clip giveaway ends tonight – all you need to do is leave a comment, link via Facebook, Twitter, or your blog for up to four entries in the giveaway.  You’ve got pretty good odds, since there are not very many entries at this point.

Good luck!

– Misty

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Posted under Homeschool Bargains

Learning Geography with Games and a Beach Ball

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April 9, 2012

We’ve been homeschool geography slackers for quite some time.

Do you have any good geography suggestions?  I’m considering some kind of wall map and maybe a bigger globe that doesn’t break the bank.  If you have ideas for games, puzzles, maps, globes, etc., I’d love to hear them.

Here’s what we’ve been doing lately in my attempt to bring my kids up to speed.

We bought a Quick Pix Geography game an sale for $10 on Amazon:

The kids pulled out our dollar store world map place mat to help.

How to play:

  • Each kid gets 5 region cards.
  • The dealer flips a country card over
  • The first person to match their ‘region’ card correctly to the country card wins the match
  • 5 matches wins.
  • Have fun.

And then I went looking for a globe.  Sheesh!  Who knew how expensive globes were?

Not to mention my kids would probably break it.  So, instead of spending over $100 on a quality globe, we went with the $6 special:

Yep – a plastic beach ball inflatable globe.  It’s actually been working out well, except it’s a bit small.

I haven’t come up with any better ideas, so I’d love to hear yours.  Thanks!

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Posted under Geography, Homeschool Reviews

Free TripClip Giveaway!

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April 5, 2012

I just reviewed The Trip Clip and now they’d like to offer a free one to one of my readers.  Nice of them, isn’t it!

You’ll get your own Trip Clip along with 20 activity credits, which allows you unlimited prints on almost all their activities.

Molly at The Trip Clip would also love to get more ideas from moms about what type of printable activity sheets they’d like to see.

How to enter:

  1. Leave a comment to this post suggesting an idea for a printable activity OR mentioning how you would use the Trip Clip.
  2. Link to this giveaway on your own website or blog and then leave a comment letting me know where you posted it.
  3. Mention and link to this giveaway in a Facebook post and then leave a comment to let me know.
  4. Tweet the link to this giveaway on twitter and then post a comment to let me know.

So, you could enter up to four times if you did each of these.  Make sure to mention each thing you did in a separate comment, as each comment will count as only one entry.

We’ve really enjoyed the Trip Clip in the car and it especially helps our 3-year-old feel like he’s doing ‘real school’ like his older siblings.



  1. Contest is open to anyone – tell any friends you know that might have children who would enjoy the Trip Clip.
  2. Contest will end Monday, April 16th, so you have a little over a week to enter.  Once a winner is chosen, I will forward the winning email to The Trip Clip company and they will contact you for shipping information.
  3. Winners in the United States and Canada qualify for free shipping. Shipping fees will apply to winners outside these areas.

Good luck!

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Posted under Homeschool Bargains

Move over Nintendo DS, the TripClip is here

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April 4, 2012

(NEW – This week Trip Clip is now offering one of my readers a free Trip Clip and 20 free printable Activity credits!)

Have you had the same trouble as I have pulling your kids away from the computer games, Nintendo DS’s, and TV shows?  It’s sometimes hard for reading and writing to compete with the high tech toys of today.

Enter the TripClip.  They sent us one to try out and we’ve been enjoying it for a while now.

It’s an all-in-one activity center in the form of a clipboard for kids.  Attached is a fat and easy-to-grip pen with cool buttons that switch to four different colors.

On their website, you can customize and print half page activity sheets on an assortment of topics including lists, games, puzzles and creative categories (10 are included with your $19.99 TripClip).

Some of the fun ones we’ve used:

  • We printed up a few mazes with my 6-years-old quickly moving from the “easy” mazes to the “super hard” ones.  Everyone crowded around to help out.  When he finally completed the “extreme maze”, he was pretty excited.
  • My 8-year-old ran around pestering siblings to play hangman with him which kept two kids busy at a time (and doing writing and spelling, I might add).  Yay!
  • Lists, lists, and more lists.  You can print up an illustrated shopping list so young ones can ‘help’ you shop.  Or print up chore and packing lists and send the kids off to get busy.

Cutting the papers in half gave my 3-year-old some fun scissor-time activity.

The four colored pen was a great fascinating for this little guy.  He was intently coloring for almost half an hour.

Thanks TripClip!

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Posted under Homeschool Reviews

Spring is here – get out your Nature Journals

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April 3, 2012

We’ve been having so much fun with the amazing weather lately.  Here’s a fun idea:

Nature Journal Recipe


  • 1 fine spring day
  • 1 notebook (from the box of 40 you bought for $0.10 each last fall)
  • 1 or 2 pale, pasty-skinned kids who’ve been cooped up all winter
  • 2 flowers (preferably NOT from the neighbors tulip bed)
  • 1 dead worm
  • 2 rocks (see below)
  • 1 piece of lavender branch that can be rubbed and smelled
  • 1 3-leafed clover (see weeds do have a place in the front lawn)
  • tape
  • a marker
  • crayons and colored pencils
  • a camera


  1. Turn off the TV and all video games.
  2. Point out the beautiful sunshine outside and open the front door.
  3. Drag reluctant kids outside and shut the door behind them.
  4. Point out trees, flowers, weeds, bugs, and anything else you can spot.
  5. Pretty soon the kids will get excited and start collecting all kinds of things.
  6. Attempt to tape items into their journal.
  7. When the 3-year-old has a fit that he wants to tape his rocks onto the page, take a picture, print it, and let him tape that into his journal.
  8. Help kids draw and illustrate their findings.
  9. Smile!  It’s spring!

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Posted under Homeschool Activities, Homeschool Life

My grammar ain’t what I thought it was – and how I’m fixing it.

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March 22, 2012

Raise your hand if you learned how to spell using a spell checker?  Yep, that’s the quickest way the kids and I have tidied up our spelling.  Let’s face it, if the words are important to you because it’s your own writing (and you don’t want your friends on Facebook to laugh at you), you pay more attention to the spelling.

Today, I’ve been doing the same with grammar and have already learned a few new things.

I was offered a trial of Grammarly, a new internet grammar checker if I would try it out and write a review to let you know what I thought of it.

I figured I could certainly use some grammar help while teaching the kids, and I had just been wondering how to find an editor for the fantasy novel I just finished (after way too number of years).

So, I gave it a whirl.

First, I chose to check the first few pages of my novel that had already passed Microsoft Word’s grammar check.

I was excited to see a score of 85/100, and I didn’t have any of the embarrassing your/you’re, there/their, and its/it’s mistakes.

However, there were certainly some problems.

See if you can catch this grammar mistake:

  • I guess I should be checking my grammar like my English teacher told me.

I didn’t.  Apparently, if there is a verb in the clause after “like”, you should actually use “as”.

  • I guess I should be checking my grammar AS my English teacher told me.

I’m impressed with the catch.  The Grammarly pop-up window not only identified the problem, it also gave a detailed explanation of the grammar rule along with examples.  So, I was learning as I went.

Some other appropriate corrections:

  • Apparently when I write I use long run-on sentences that could use a comma after the beginning clause – like “Apparently when I write,
  • A few run-on sentences that benefited from removing the “and” separating them and writing them as two sentences. (I knew that one at least)
  • Alternate suggestions for common words like “nice” and “definitely”.  Who knew they were very overused?
  • Removing a couple unnecessary commas – I can’t win.

Some mistakes by Grammarly:

  • Said I should use “were” instead of “was” because my subject was plural”  “… a maidservant clad in wealthy hand-me-downs who was wrestling her water cask into position.”  The subject was incorrectly identified as “hand-me-downs” instead of “maidservant”.
  • The plagiarism checker matched a few short phrases with some blog and internet sites.  I don’t consider “… hit him like a brick in the face,” plagiarizing even if its found word for word on another website.  However, I can see the suggested referencing tips coming in pretty handy.
  • Tried a couple of times to add a “to be” verb when reflexive pronouns were used, like “himself”, saying that the sentence was missing a verb.


  • Offers both a short and long explanation of suggested corrections.
  • Offers a synonym detector that highlights words in red and gives you suggested synonyms.  Nice for adding some variety and depth to your writing.
  • Beats the pants off of Word’s grammar checker. which often give the unhelpful: “sentence fragment, consider revising”.
  • The highlighting is done intuitively, so you can easily see the issues and suggested corrections.
  • You can print or download a report of your results.
  • Offers a downloadable add-on to use within Word and Outlook.
  • Big time-saver for editing, polishing, and identifying trouble areas in your writing.


  • It’s not free.  🙁  But, it is rather reasonably priced at about $8/month if you pay for a full year.
  • It does take a bit of time to process, especially larger documents.  Not a big deal.  You just need to plan for it.
  • Makes occasional mistakes, but much cheaper than a professional editor.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed it and am looking forward to having help polishing my manuscript and helping the kids do the same for their writing.

Thanks Grammarly!

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Posted under Language Art Websites

Homeschool Blog Carnival – Creativity Edition

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March 20, 2012

We’ve all chosen to homeschool for a variety of reasons and many of us have discovered that every child is a bundle of different needs, learning styles, and undiscovered talents. Nurturing the creativity of our children fills the journey with diverse and amazing discoveries.

Homeschooling Nurtures Creativity

Henry presents Another reason to homeschool – Because teachers don’t like creative students posted at Why Homeschool saying, “One great benefit of homeschooling is our children can maintain their creative spirit.”

Linda Dobson presents Don’t Confuse Homeschooling Cause and Effect posted at Parent at the Helm.

Liz presents Urban Homeschooling: A time for activism? posted at Homeschooling In Buffalo saying, “I advocate for homeschooling as a solution to problems stemming from the competing interests in conventional schooling.”

Chris presents Socializing Your Home School and Public School Child posted at Home School vs. Public School  saying, “When we find what inspires our children we are able to guide them to achieve their goals and learn about many different subjects. See what lights up their eyes with joy and the job of teaching becomes much easier!”

Michelle presents 10 Ways to Ensure Homeschool Burnout posted at  The Holistic Homeschooler sharing “A tongue-in-cheek list of things a mom can do to ensure that she experiences homeschool burnout.

Homeschooling Creates family bonds

Kelly presents Why Homeschool? Retaining Sibling Relationships posted at The Homeschool Co-op saying, “Another installment in our “Why Homeschool?” series, this one looks at sustaining and deepening sibling relationships.”

Barbara presents When Grandparents Don’t Understand posted at Barbara Frank Online sharing, “”What do you do if your child’s grandparents are against homeschooling?”

Creating Works of Art

Pamela presents Trashy Art- Washed Ashore posted at Escape Is Possible saying, “A recent field trip to a marine rescue facility also provided some inspirational art.”

Cristina presents Home Spun comic strip #719 posted at Home Spun Juggling presenting a “comic and article about our family’s experiences with raising caterpillars.”

Creating and Following your interests

Nadene presents Kids Computer Research 101 posted at Practical Pages sharing a “basic tutorial on how to copy images from Wikipedia to a Word table and copy references.”

Tiffany presents The longest half posted at As For My House sharing, “Deciding how to schedule the second half of the school year, after falling far behind due to illness.”

Mindy presents Frugal Curriculum Choices Using 4-H posted at Denschool saying, “One homeschool mother shares the gold mine of information, curriculum and resources available through the 4-H program. It is more extensive than you might have thought and extremely affordable.”

Gidget presents Bubbleology and Designing Your Own Future posted at Homeschooling Unscripted sharing a fun “recipe for making long lasting bubbles.”

Creating Harmony with Each Other

Biracial homeschool graduate Jennifer Vaughn reviews the first book in Kim Wayans’ children’s 2008 book series about a fourth-grade, formerly-homeschooled multiracial girl trying to fit in a new school crowd in her article Novel Homeschoolers: ‘Amy HodgePodge: All Mixed Up‘ posted at à la mode de les Muses.”

Loving Nature’s Creations

Erin presents Toddler Nature Journal posted at Nirvana Homeschooling sharing, “How to incorporate even the littlest hands in nature study through a toddler nature journal.”

Steven presents Dinosaur Trackways posted at Hudson Valley Geologist.

Annie Kate presents The Sugar Bush posted at Tea Time with Annie Kate giving a fun glimpse into the world of maple syrup.

Creating Outside the Box

Carol presents Technique with Artistic Flair posted at Everything Home with Carol sharing, “A non-boring, artistic way to memorize math facts or other information.”

Kristen presents Homeschool Organization posted at A Little Homeschool Blog sharing, “A quick and simple dry erase board craft, made from a recycled frame, to aid in homeschool organization.”

I hope you’ve enjoyed all the great articles submitted to this edition of the Homeschool Blog Carnival along with a few glimpses into the creativity that fills our days.  🙂

Feel free to post a link to the carnival, tweet, or link via Facebook. I appreciate it!

Make sure to submit your post to next week’s carnival. For information: Carnival of Homeschooling.

Take care!

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Posted under Blog Carnivals