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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Family-Friendly Audiobooks for Road Trips

Few things fill the time faster than listening to an audiobook.  As we get ready for our summer road trip, I decided to dedicate this Travel Time Tuesday to some good literature.

Disclaimer- I have not listened to every one of these audiobooks.  I read the books (mainly as a child), but I feel pretty confident that these books are still family-friendly today. 

{Good For Everyone}

Anne of Green Gables (my very favorite book from childhood)

Mouse and the Motorcycle (and other books by Beverly Cleary)

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

The Indian in the Cupboard

Alice in Wonderland

Mr. Poppers Penguins

Mary Poppins


{For Older Audiences}

The Hobbit

Jurassic Park

The Help (I love the 4 different voices in the reading)

The Poisonwood Bible (would also be interesting because of the 5 women narrators)

And, of course, classics like Pride and Prejudice, The Three Musketeers, Les Miserables, etc.


If you're buying with Audible (an Amazon company), pay attention to the price of the books and only use your credits if you don't want to pay the cover price for a book.  For example, Anne of Green Gables could use up one of your audible credits OR you could just pay $0.95 and save your credit for the pricier books (like the Hobbit which is almost $18)  Just a tip to help you stretch your "vacation dollars."


Monday, May 30, 2016

Telling Time to the Half Hour- Zookeeper

My first telling time activity focused on a school day and telling time to the hour.  This one is longer and deals with telling time to the half hour, using a fictional account of a zookeeper's day.

Kids can put the zookeeper's schedule cards in order, then answer questions about what time certain event happen.  Parents and teachers can encourage more exploration by asking the child to tell them how many hours between lunch and when the zookeeper goes home.  Or how much time between the penguin feeding and the bird show.

The PDF featuring the schedule cards and the worksheet can be found here.



Friday, May 27, 2016

B is for Bangladesh (year 2, week 38)

We have very special guests from Bangladesh staying at our house next weekend, so I thought it would be a good idea for us to study a little about that interesting country.

We looked at some traditional games, saw videos of girls doing henna, and dug into our Asia continent box.  We talked about some of the different British English words that their friends might use compared to our American English ones.  And we ate a few of the favorite foods of Bangladesh (mostly rice), and watched videos of rice planting and tea harvesting.

We're so excited for our special company!

{Books}
- B is for Bangladesh
- Children Just Like Me

{Videos}
- playing in the rain
- market day
- kids playing
- Christian church service
- dancing
- life in a village (kids)
- Dhaka city life
- a day in Dhaka (subtitled)
- street foods


{Recipes}
- world cook (website)
- khanapakana (website)




Thursday, May 26, 2016

Letter Tiles for Spelling


I love the idea of using Scrabble tiles for spelling practice, but I'm not fond of presenting all capital letters to the kids.  We're also not using "print" handwriting font in our homeschool, so I wanted to make some spelling tiles that matched the font we're using (D'nealian).  I also made the vowels and consenants different colors to match our movable alphabet.

The tiles include four sets of alphabet tiles, three lowercase and one uppercase.  They can be used for spelling almost any word, matching lowercase to lowercase or lowercase to uppercase, letter identification, crossword or spelling games (although you might need more tiles), sentence writing, and anywhere else you might use letters.

Blank "Scrabble" tiles can be purchased from Etsy.  The ones
in the printable are sized to be used on one-inch squares.

I made the tiles without "Scrabble" values first.  Then, I remembered that I have made a lot of spelling games with math components using Scrabble values (such as the Candy Store or the safari list).  I decided to make my tiles with both sets of letters, the plain on one side and the value ones on the other.

To download the plain tiles without values, click here.  For the "Scrabble" like tiles, click here.

We're going to be using "All About Reading" next year for kindergarten.  I decided to create a set of phonics tiles to go with the ones I have already made.  To download the phonics set, click here.

I was browsing Pinterest and saw several ideas for games using Scrabble or Bananagram tiles.  I made a set of four "bingo" style games using my homemade tiles.  Three of the boards are in black-and-white and one is in color, to make them more printer friendly.  There is a "fancy" board for a game of "Draw," a colorful "letter speedway" page for letter/color matching, a black-and-white cars pages, and a fun popcorn letters board.  All four games can be played individually or in a small group.  Players take turns drawing a letter tile out of a pile, a cup, a popcorn tin... and then find the matching letter on their board.  If the letter on their board is already covered, then the player should put the letter back in the pile.  The winner can be the person to have all their letters filled in or the person with a "bingo" (a row across, down, or diagonal).  I hope you enjoy!

To download the game boards, click here.

Update: I've added cursive tiles!  I put my cursive letters on 1.25" wood disks, to help us find them quickly among the print letters.  I also made 1-inch square tiles if you would rather have them like scrabble tiles.  I didn't put the values on them like I did the other ones.  Instead, I made them so you could put a print-font letter on one side and the cursive letter on the other side.  I'm hoping that this provides a bit of a "control of error" for kids as they're learning their cursive letters.

You can download the square cursive letter tiles here.  And the round tiles here.








Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Deep Sea Toob 3-part Cards

FREE 3-Part Cards for Safari Ltd Deep Sea Toob from In Our Pond
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FREE 3-Part Cards for Safari Ltd Deep Sea Toob from In Our Pond

Deep sea animals are so interesting!  These picture cards match the deep sea toob by Safari Ltd.  To download, click here.


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Etsy Product to Buy for Your Road Trip

I like using 2-day shipping for most things, but nothing beats the sellers of Etsy for customer satisfaction and custom-ability!  For this Travel Time Tuesday, I thought I'd feature some of my favorite shops and products for travel.





please pin at original source
Zappy Gums Jewelry
My go-to store for silicone "chewelry" like this star bracelet.  The store owner has been great in working with us to customize her products to suit our family.




please pin at original source
She Likes Letters
Check out her compass wall hangings and state/county ornaments.  They would make great souvenirs or gifts.




please pin at original source
IT Wears Art
I still haven't completely decided whether we're going to try for a "media free" road trip when we drive eight days this summer.  If we decide to use our tablet for kids' movies, then this tablet holder seems like a great idea.


please pin at original source
Cute Baby Cute Toddler
I love this mom's design for a car organizer.  I really like how it hangs from the window so it serves as a sunblock too.






please pin at original source
Curious Minds Busy Bags
If you don't have the time or inclination to make up your own busy bags, this industrious entrepreneur on Etsy has you covered.  She has over 230 products for you to chose from, like this penguin patterns one.

please pin at original source
Willow Run Crafts
This may seem like a strange choice in a post about travel, but I have used many WRC products in my own busy bags.  They're a local company (for me) and have a great selection of raw materials for crafting,


Monday, May 23, 2016

Family Rules Printable

I saw a handwritten poster similar to this one on Pinterest, and thought that it would make a good printable.  I'm planning on adding it to our homeschool decorations. The legal-sized PDF comes with six options (color schemes) of the family rules and can be found here.

I hope you enjoy it!



Saturday, May 21, 2016

E is for Eye Doctor (year 2, week 37)

Dragonfly and I had appointments at the eye doctor this week, so we made learning about eyes our theme for the week.  We spent quite a bit of time before the appointment talking about the eye tests that the doctor gives in his office and watched some videos that showed all the equipment that they use.  One of the videos showed an eye model and talked about the parts of the eye.

Our eye appointment went very well!  All the extra prep really paid off.  I could tell that Dragonfly was nervous, but she did as the doctor asked.  After both of our appointments, the doctor showed her the eye model and went through the parts.  She can now name a few of them, like pupil and iris.

Later in the week, we talked about the outer parts of the eyes and how to take care of our eyes.

Dragonfly and I also played a new game (coming soon to the blog) called "Popcorn Letters," where we took turns pulling a letter tile out of a popcorn container and placing them on a game board.  I started with just seven tiles, but Dragonfly wanted to do all the letters.  She didn't know the names of very many of them, but the game was an easy way for us to practice letter names and phonics sounds.  As I suspected, the entire alphabet was way too much for her, but it did give me lots of insight for next time.

{Videos}
- a 5 year old visits the eye doctor
- my trip to the eye doctor
- field trip to the eye doctor
- eyes for preschoolers
- how your eyes work
- sense of sight

{Products}
- ping pong eyeballs
- candy eyes
- glow in the dark google eyes
- eye beach balls

{Printables}
- whose eye is this
- 3 part cards for the parts of the eye
- outer parts of the eye
- i-spy printables


{Ideas}
- spooning eyes
- counting eyes
- eyeglasses shop
- eyeball slime
- ping pong ball eyes
- i-spy
- hand/eye coordination games
- stick google eyes on random things (rocks, fruit, cups)
- i-spy bag/bottle/quilt

Friday, May 20, 2016

Ocean 3-part Cards

FREE 3-Part Cards for Safari Ltd Ocean Toob from In Our Pond
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FREE 3-Part Cards for Safari Ltd Ocean Toob from In Our Pond

I seem to be on a Safari Toob printables binge.  Here are the ones for the ocean toob.

To download the 3-part cards, click here.


Thursday, May 19, 2016

DIY Math Games (All About Altoids)

This is my third post featuring Altoid Tins.  The first one was on a Travel Time Tuesday.  The second one was about storing homeschool supplies in tins.  This third one will be about math games you can make and store in a tin.

This may seem like a morbid game, but the kids think it's funny.  The ladybug buttons can be tossed like dice and then counted and graphed as to which ones are "alive" (red side up) or "dead" (black side).  I think this would work well as a 10-frame graphing game where the kids could color in their results.  You can get a free printable 10-frame game board here.  Of course, they can also be used for addition and subtraction number sentences or word problems.  You could even play "war" with them to see who can get the most points.

This is a similar game, except we're graphing red or blue tree frogs instead.  We painted white beans with spray paint.  They have a very nice texture that I think the kids will enjoy touching.  They can be used for addition and subtraction work/games.  Once again, here is the free 10-frame game board that kids can use to graph their results.

I reduced the printable from the Picklebums' blog, laminated them, and placed them on magnetic paper.  They can be played with on the fridge or on a cookie sheet.  I they're just the right size to fit a bunch of them stacked in two columns.  I also made a similar game with playing boards to make it a bit easier.

I hope you found something to use today.  What's your favorite math game?  Please tell us in the comments.

10-frame worksheet


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Cat Toob 3-part Cards

FREE 3-Part Cards for Safari Ltd Cat Toob from In Our Pond
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FREE 3-Part Cards for Safari Ltd Cat Toob from In Our Pond

I had a request this morning for 3-part cards to match the Safari Ltd Domestic Cats toob.  I'm always up for a challenge, so I whipped up these cards.  They are free like all my printables.  The cats toob can be bought here.  The cards can be downloaded here.  My other Safari Toob printables can be found here.

Comment below if you have other requests for Safari Toob cards.  I love making them!


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

When You Gotta Go.... On the Road

In the next few weeks, I'll be talking about the food on a road trip and the themed activities we've been planning.  Today, I'm going to talk about kids and potty stops.

It's no secret (especially among moms) that kids will always have to go potty at the most inopportune times.  Perhaps it will be while you're waiting in line to board a ferry.  Or, just as you pull back onto the highway after gassing up.  Or, along the long stretch of road without a rest stop in sight.  If your kids are past the age of diapers, you might want to add one or more of these options to your travel gear.

original source
For the Do-It-Yourself family, I present to you tin can toilet.  The container is a big food storage can, packed with everything a person might need to pee alongside the road.  Most families put in toilet paper, plastic bags, and hand sanitizer.  It would also be easy to add a couple diapers (for absorbency) and some baby wipes (for easier clean-up).  This article has a lot of ideas and tips for making and using such a toilet.


If 2-day-shipping is more your speed, I have a few ideas for you too.  First, I present my pick for toddlers and preschoolers- the OXO Travel Potty.  It can be used by itself or on a real toilet.  I'm pretty sure that this will be the option I'll be buying for our road trip.  I like that it folds flat for storage and has a simple design for cleaning.

I also found this contraption if teaching boys to pee in a bottle is on your to-do list.

For adults, Amazon offers the Travel John and the Lady John.  Or this 5 gallon bucket toilet.  And a folding camping chair version.  Here's a tent that you can set up to complete your port-a-potty situation.


To be honest, I really like it when we make it to a Rest Stop.  You just never quite know what to expect.  I like to carry a little "bathroom bag" with us.  I pack some baby wipes, soap sheets (DIY version here- store in an Altoid tin), a diaper, and personal products.  A pencil pouch is the perfect size for this little kit.

The other great thing about stopping at Rest Stops is the park-like atmosphere of them, which allows the kids to spend some time playing.  We like to pack bubbles, jump rope, blow up balls, and even squirt guns to encourage activity.  Rest Stops are also great places for old-fashioned playground games like Red Light, Green Light, Simon Says, or Mother May I.

Comment below about your favorite things to do at a Rest Stop.

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Monday, May 16, 2016

Telling Time to the Hour- Schoolhouse Schedule

One of the things that is covered in kindergarten is telling time.  Since my kids will be homeschooled, they're very interested in what other kids do at school.  The schedule cards have fifteen times on them, which can be placed in order according to the times on the clocks.  I included two sets of cards, one with the digital time and one with only the clocks.  There is also a worksheet for kids to fill out that asks questions like "What time is lunch?" with the word lunch replaced by the picture from the schedule cards.  The parent or teacher could also guide the child to figure out other clock/math related concepts like elapsed time, etc.


The printable includes the schedule cards, which can be kept together or separated for additional time-telling practice, and a worksheet for kids to write in the digital times for the analogue times.  The PDF can be found here.


Sunday, May 15, 2016

How I Became Your Mom- Dragonfly

I read a blog post by another adoptive mom where she used Mother's Day every year as a chance to tell her kids how she became their mother.  Well, Mother's Day was a week ago, but I'm going to start this tradition this year anyways.

My oldest child is Dragonfly, currently 4-years old (almost 5).  She is my only girl and an absolute delight.  She has declared that "being a scientist is better than being a princess" (I didn't tell her that- she concluded that on her own).  As a scientist, she wants to know all the details of how and why about everything.  She loves worms, animals, and her family.  She also loves Jesus and understands a lot of theology.  She teaches her brothers important concepts like, "God is a spirit" and "Jesus rose from the dead so that you can go to heaven when you die."  She's the leader of the kids and often acts like she's twenty or so years older than them.

How I Became Your Mom, Dragonfly- an adoption article from In Our Pond

To start the story about how I became your mother, Dragonfly, I need to start several years before.  When your daddy and I were dating, I asked him how he felt about adopting.  He said that he'd be ok with it, so that's how I knew I could marry him.

How I Became Your Mom, Dragonfly- an adoption article from In Our Pond

How I Became Your Mom, Dragonfly- an adoption article from In Our PondAfter we got married, Daddy and Mommy wanted to start having a family right away.  For some reason, we never had any babies from my tummy.  We talked over the years about adopting kids, but it never seemed like the right time to us.

In 2010, an opportunity came for us to work in Botswana, southern Africa for a few years.  We loved being in Botswana and thought that maybe God had our family waiting for us there.  Many things about Botswana didn't work out like we had hoped and planned, so we ended up coming home to the USA in early 2011.

When we got settled in the US, we felt like it was the right time for us to pursue adoption.  We started the foster care process in March 2011.  We were so excited to finally have a family, and we spend lots of time getting ready for you.  Mommy bought lots of stuff for our nursery and knit colorful starfish for the walls.  Our nursery theme was "We Made a Difference for That One," because of the "starfish story."  It turned out to be a perfect theme for your room.

How I Became Your Mom, Dragonfly- an adoption article from In Our Pond

The day you came home (Oct. 2011) was one of the best days of my life.  The saying is true: "From the moment they placed you in my arms, you snuggled right into my heart."

You were three months old the day I met you, and as tiny as a newborn.  You had had a rough start and were pretty sickly.  Your now green eyes were dark and huge.  You had forgotten how to suck a bottle, so I spent many hours dropping milk into your mouth.  Slowly, you started to gain weight and grow.

How I Became Your Mom, Dragonfly- an adoption article from In Our Pond

When daddy got home from work that day, he was so excited to meet you.  He decided that you had been named perfectly.  He loved being a dad (and still does) and spent a lot of time playing silly games with you, singing to you, and teaching you things.  You'll always be his special princess.

You didn't sleep very much the first few months, because you didn't know if you'd be safe at our house.  Slowly, you learned to trust us and came to love us too.  When you were fifteen months old, the state allowed us to adopt you.  That was such a magical day for us- the day that we officially became a family (Oct. 2012).

How I Became Your Mom, Dragonfly- an adoption article from In Our Pond

You've changed so much since the day that we first got you.  I'm really excited to see the woman you will become.  And, I'm very blessed every time you call me "Mama."  We love you very much, Princess.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Q is for Questions (year 2, week 36)


This week, our theme was "Q is for Questions," so we focused on science experiments.  None of the ones we did this week were unusual, but they were all new to my kids.  They loved them, and I loved tapping into their wonder as we explored the world together.  Because of their ages (4, 3, and 2), we focused on exploration instead of explanation.

The first thing that we did was the classic dissolving-an-egg-shell-in-acid experiment.  We used every bit of vinegar in the house to fill our jar, so we didn't have an extras to do the job correctly.  The directions on the internet said to change out the vinegar after 24 hours, since the the acid gets "saturated" with calcium and can no longer absorb more after that amount of time.  We only did 24 hours, which didn't dissolve it all the way, but it did pickle it enough that the egg was completely spongey.  Dragonfly was completely unimpressed and disappointed.  She thought that the egg with disappear completely.

We recycled our vinegar to do another classic- the baking-soda-and-vinegar experiment.  I gave each of the kids a sprinkle of baking soda on our "discovery trays," and a small creamer pitcher with vinegar.  They were so surprised to see this "chemical reaction" (one of our new vocabulary phrases for the week) and asked if it could be part of our regular sensory fun.  They enjoyed playing with the paste that they made as well.

We also looked at a variety of household objects to test their magnetism.  The kids really didn't care about this one at all.  Oh well.

We tested a new play dough recipe this week and tried our homemade "texture sticks" to see what impression they made.  We also tried a new play dough recipe with kool-aid powder and glycerin.  The glycerin made an extremely soft dough with a lovely texture that the kids wanted to run all over their bodies.  I don't know that it will be our all-the-time dough recipe, but it's definitely one I'd like to keep in the rotation.


I had also intended to do the coke geyser experiment, but I only bought one-half of the ingredients.  Oh well, it's not really warm enough for a full, cold, garden hose shower yet.  We'll have to do it another time.  It might be a good first experiment for our science notebooks next fall.

{Experiments for Kids}
- exploding soap
- magic milk
- a huge list of easy. kid-friendly ones
- milk into plastic
- rock candy
- menthos and coke geyser 
- float and sink oranges
- ice cream in a bag
- popcorn experiment (volume)
- ecosystem in a 2-liter bottle
- science experiment demonstrations
- turn a penny green
- DIY bounce balls

{Sensory Fun}
- worms
flubber
- homemade bubbles
- play dough (no cook)
- water and oil
- oobleck
- sand foam
- play dough (cook)
- dough soap
- color changing slime
- floam
- magnetic slime
- glow in the dark slime