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Saturday, September 22, 2018

Cheap and Easy DIY Elf or Doll Play Scene

We're getting ready for Christmas around here!  Part of our celebrations include an Elf similar to the Elf-on-the-Shelf.  I really enjoy crafting different costumes, props, and settings for our elf to make her visits more interesting.

I recently discovered a very easy way to make portable sets for the elf.  Inspired by Youtuber My Froggy Stuff, I used trifold boards and scrapbook paper to create a background.  It stands by itself and folds down flat for storage.  You can get two sets on each board if you use both sides.

Cheap and Easy DIY Elf or Doll Play Scene from In Our Pond // doll crafts // craft with kids // elf on the shelf

For this scene, I used a Small Tri-Fold Presentation Board, which stands 14" tall and is 24" wide.  It's a great size for fashion dolls and elves.  First, I used plain computer paper and a glue stick to cover the edges of the board.  It creates a nice edge and gets you used to cutting and gluing on the cardboard.

Next, I used scrapbook paper to cover the inside of the board.  I know that the red strip is a bit overwhelming, but I liked how it felt a bit over-the-top in the Christmas category.  To help tone it down a bit, and for a fun centerpiece, I added a Grinch sign printable that I found online.

I wanted to give the set a bit of a Dr. Suess feel, so I crafted my own Whoville free.  The big, obnoxious ornament was a lot of fun to create.  I cut out the dots by hand to give them some personality.  I added the details to the tree with a marker.

I may add more to the board if I get inspired, but I really like how it looks for now.  We're excited to use this for Christmas.  Keep counting down with us by checking back here every day for a new post!

Grab everything you need for the project by shopping the links below!

If you love DOLL CRAFTING like I do, join our Doll Crafting FB group!

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Monday, September 10, 2018

Homeschool Year 2018-2019 Curriculum Choices

I wanted to finish the first week of homeschool before I wrote about what we're doing this year.  I'm still not entirely sure what all we'll be learning and what resources we'll be using, but I'm excited to see what happens.  This is my fifth year of blogging, so I'm calling it our 5th year of homeschooling; however, my oldest is only seven.  Ok, here's what I know so far.

Dragonfly is seven years old and has recently become very girly.  I'm not sure what happened, but my rational, fact-based "science girl" is now an emotional, fantasy-loving dreamer.  She's been moving away from playing her brother's games and has discovered unicorns, Barbies, and ponies.  She's learned how to braid and has started to care about hair styles and crafting.

This school year, we're focusing primarily on the 3Rs.  For handwriting, we're using A Reason for Handwriting, which is a workbook which includes writing out Bible verses.  Although she's not reading yet, the handwriting is bringing in a lot of sneaky word learning, and I'm sure she'll be reading by the end of the year.

We're not using a specific curriculum for reading, but I have a lot of resources in the home including some that I have made like the Rainbow Reader sight word tracker.

For arithmetic, we're using Horizons, which she is able to do nearly on her own.  The math workbook is another sneaky way for her to practice reading.  I also intend to add in some interesting theme units according to her interests.

Skimmer is six this year, and still very excited about vehicles.  He has a large collection that he hauls around everywhere in a bin.  He particularly loves cars that have sound and spinning wheels.  This summer, he learned how to ride a bike without training wheels and has mastered the monkey bars.  He's always moving.

This will be Skimmer's first year of formal learning.  Like his sister, he's been working on the 3R's with a bit of extra emphasis on fine motor skills like cutting with scissors.

For handwriting, I was planning on using A Reason for Handwriting, but I discovered that he needs a bit more pre-writing practice before writing letters.  I found a free printable of Pre-Handwriting Worksheets from 3 Dinosaurs, and he's doing great with them.

Like her sister, we were planning on using Horizons math, but then I found something more fitting- Brick Math!  It's a series that teaches math concepts up to fifth grade using Lego bricks.  The kids have just discovered Lego this summer and play almost every day.  He's going to be so excited!

I will be adding phonics into our day later in the year.  I want to work on his attention span, fine motor skills, and handwriting first.  I have Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Lessons book which we might use later.

Tadpole is five years old and is my bug boy.  He spends a lot of time looking for bugs, chasing them down, holding them, and studying them.  He's appears to not be afraid of anything, and is always calling his sister for a snake, lizard, or frog hunt.

At least for the beginning of the year, Tadpole's schooling is just like his brothers.  The boys enjoy being "on the same team," and have done well taking turns with my time.  It's a bit of a juggle to set up one boy with an activity to do something with one of them and then to switch back and forth all morning.  I'm hoping to be a bit more organized in this area soon, but luckily I have a large cupboard of items to throw at them.  They're always happy to poke holes in a box (pencil grip practice) or destroy something with scissor.

I have no idea what our homeschool year will look like this year, or what my blogging will look like either.  In previous years, I tried to plan out theme units and then blog about those unit every week.  I know that I won't be doing that, but I think it would be good to do some sort of weekly review.  I have a few printables to get on the blog, some new homeschool resources to tell you about, and lots of pre-Christmas posts.  Check back often and keep me moving forward.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Guar Gum Grinch Slime

Dragonfly and I have been having so much fun exploring the awesome slime chemistry from Little Bins for Little Hands.  At least a few times a week, we test out a new recipe and get our hands dirty together.  It's great bonding time and mess-free (yes, really).

A few weeks ago, Little Bins posted a brand new slime recipe involving guar gum.  This plant-based, gluten-free food thickener is perfect for making glue-free slime.  Dragonfly couldn't wait to test it, so we ordered the guar gum from Amazon right away.  Fortunately, the other ingredients in this slime are the normal ones for slime- food coloring, baking soda, and saline solution- so we already had them in the house.

I noticed from reading the post on Little Bin that we use more guar gum than they do.  She uses 1 teaspoon of the powder, and we used 1 tablespoon.  The larger amount made it harder to incorporate into the water (we used 1 cup of warm water), but it did make a very stretchy, juggle-ly slime.  It was very fun and is cheaper per ounce than using glue.  Try it out for yourself!

And if you love making slime like I do, you have to check out The Ultimate Slime Guide book.

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Monday, August 20, 2018

School Supply List for Homeschooling

It's back to school season again!  Or as homeschoolers like to call it "NOT-back-to-school" time.  Social media is full of posts, memes, and videos complaining about how expensive school supplies are for traditional schoolers.  Few people think about what homeschoolers need for their education.  The home-school combines all the classroom needs and all the student needs into one big list.  The homeschool should have it all!

The Basics

Like all school children, homeschoolers need fresh pencils, lots of glue sticks, scissors, and other ordinary supplies.  Take advantage of Back-to-School sales to get good deals on crayons, pens, and notebooks.  Unlike most school kids, homeschool families should also grab a few hundred sheets of computer paper for all the printables, a new Instant Ink compatible printer with free ink, and lots of liquid glue for slime experiments.

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Math Class

One of the best parts about homeschooling is being able to have access to all the math manipulatives and visual tools whenever you need them. I am very tactile when it comes to math, and always did better when I could see and feel the answers. I'm so glad my kids don't even have to ask to get out the Cuisenaire rods, money, or counters. Be sure to check the Target dollar spot for flashcards, learning clocks, mini erasers (counters), and more.

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Science Class

If I ever had a homeschool classroom, I'd fill it up with science stuff.  There are so many categories of scientific experimentation and exploration.  I'd have microscopes, petri dishes, chemistry sets, and cabinets full of specimens and models.  Like math, science is better if it can be touched and seen. instead of just read.

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Phonics and Literature Class

It's no secret that homeschoolers love to collect books.  I usually buy mine on Ebay, at thrift stores, and on Amazon.  I also recommend magnetic letters, spelling games, and other things for reading practice.  I also like to grab some new Audible books for quiet time and for read alouds.

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What's on your list?  What would you add?

Any experienced homeschoolers want to dispute it?

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