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Saturday, April 30, 2016

G is for Garden (year 2, week 34)

This week, I had intended that we'd be talking about gardens, flowers, and the plant life cycle.  The kids have been asking a lot of questions about bees and wasps, so I decided to focus on pollinators this week.

I bought the Incredible Creatures Honeybee, which has been a neat addition to our school supplies.  We used the 6" figurine to learn about insects.  We felt its stinger (and didn't get stung), counted it's legs, and named it's body parts.  The texture of it is so neat that it makes me want to buy a bunch more and decorate my kitchen with them.

We also looked at the bee life cycle, using the Safari Ltd Life Cycle Figurines.  We talked about how similar bees are to other insects and how every insect goes through the same stages.

flower to hive pollen transfer
beehive counting by 10's
bees and letter B game
hexagons and beehive worksheets
- parts of a honeybee cards
- life cycle poster
bee addition

- John Deere picture cards
- plant life cycle
- plant science notebook pages
- vegetable garden Montessori printables
- sorting fruits and veg by color

- drink like a pollinator
- cheeto pollination
- bee hive cereal transfer
- books about bees
- bubble wrap painting
- honey transfer

- flower shop pretend play
- how plants grow experiment
- dirt play dough
- regrowing kitchen scraps
- dissecting flowers
- button flowers
- sorting fruits and veggies
- planting noodle seeds
- garden sensory bin

- The Bee Movie
- Maya the Bee (free on Prime right now)
- City of Bees: A Children's Guide to Bees
- plant life cycle

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Work Box System Tags

I'm continuing to work on our homeschool area in the new house.  Next year, Dragonfly will be starting kindergarten, so I'm going to try a work box system for her materials.  We already have a bunch of paper drawers from our old house, which I plan on using as work boxes.

The concept of a work box is part organization and park scheduling.  The parent fills the bins up every day with the materials the child needs to do that day.  One subject/activity goes in each bin, with the materials needed to complete the subject all contained in the drawer.  At school time, the child will start from the top and work her/his way down the row of bins.  When s/he has completed all the bins, s/he is done with school for the day.

The beauty of this schedule system is that the parent can organized the subjects for multiple students at the same time, staggering the subjects that require one-on-one attention.  I'm planning on putting Dragonfly's materials in a separate set of drawers and have the boys together.  Some of the subject we'll do at the same time (like read-aloud) and some will be unique to each skill set.  I'm sure I'll have a bit of tweaking to do once we start school next year, but the overall system should work pretty well for us.

I've made some work box tags that will fit on the plastic drawers.  I like to laminate them and tape them on with packaging tape.  The tags will peel off the tape with the laminate, which is helpful for using them year after year.  I will probably add something to the drawers (maybe a colored dot) that will help the kids to see which boxes are their own subjects.

To download the work box tags, click here.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Zoo Train Play Mat (printable)

I've been enjoying Travel Time Tuesday so much and have been posting so much content (twice a week lately) that I decided to move all of it to it's own blog.  The zoo train blog post is now at my new site- Party Through the USA.

Click on the picture to go to the train printable post.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Photo Safari Activity

I created this activity for our "Giraffe" theme, but it could also be used for a general "Africa" theme or even during a Wild Kratt's birthday party (we're really into WK right now).  The PDF has three levels of differentiation for all levels of explorers.  The real-life animal pictures should be printed and hung at kid level (or could be hidden, depending on the ages).  The kids need a clipboard and a pencil.  A pith helmet and camera would be fun props as well.

To download, click here.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

A is for America (year 2, week 33)

This blog is an Amazon Associate.

In the last few weeks, we've looked at the state we live in and the planet/continent we live on, so this week we focused on the country!  I hung up our US map this week and our theme cards, all of which gave us lots of things to talk about.  We also focused a lot on patriotic songs and flag etiquette to help prepare the kids for life outside our schoolroom.  The weather was great this week, so the kids played outside and with water most of every day.  Surprisingly, we didn't do very much that was red, white, and blue.

One of the first things we did this week was play roll and cover with our 50 stars paper (you can find a similar one here).  I made the dice myself and bought the wood stars on Amazon.  Dragonfly did very well with the counting.  I liked how the game gave her practice recognizing numbers and counting one-to-one correspondence numbers.

We used our US Monuments toob and our 3-part cards to learn about the different symbols of the United States.  On several of the objects, we were able to look up at our US map and see a cartoon picture of the symbol in the state where it is found.  Eventually, I'd love to have her/them place the symbols on the map themselves.

Friday was Passover, so we made unleavened bread.  Dragonfly loved the sensory experience of playing in flour, kneading it, and rolling it out.  She even wrapped the leftover dough around her arm like a cast.

- USA symbols 3-part cards
- US desert 3-part cards
- North American animals 3-parts cards
- N.A. river animals 3-part cards
- US inventors 3-part cards
- US history 3-part cards
- American mini theme posters
- American cowboys cattle drive game
- flag positioning puzzles
- roll and cover American flag
- US presidents 3-part cards
- how to fold an American flag
- election graphing
- US state bingo

- red, white, and blue Montessori activities
- sensory bin with spelling word tiles

- Star Spangled Banner
- American Kid
- Proud to be an American
- the Battle Hymn of the Republic
- Star Spangled Banner in sign language
- US states in geographical order
- America the Beautiful
- 50 states and capitols song
- the Pledge of Allegiance 

Follow In Our Pond's board "A is for America" on Pinterest.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Happy Birthday, Blog!

I've now been blogging on this site for two years!  Here are a few blogging stats and then I'll tell you how the creatures are doing here at the pond.

Number of Blog Posts: 320 published (349 written)

Number of Blog Visitors a Month: 2,300

Most Popular Blog Post Last Month: Backyard Birds 3-part cards

Number of Visitors Total: 22,300

Most Popular Blog Post of All Time: Safari Toob ideas

Number of Free Printables: 125

is working at a quality inspector for an airplane manufacturing company, which he loves.  During his time at home, he loves to play with the kids, ride his motorcycle, dirt bike, skateboard, hike, build things, do computer art, paint, and play video games.

is the author of the blog, and a stay-at-home mom all the other times.  As you can probably see from the blog, I also have way too many hobbies.

is almost five years old and will be starting "formal" kindergarten at home this fall.  She calls herself a "Science Girl" and loves asking questions, making connections, and learning about animals and dinosaurs.  She also loves to climb, ride her bike, and play trucks with her brothers.  My goal for her next year is to support (and not squash) her love of learning as we move toward book-based homeschooling.

is almost four years old, and is all boy!  He love tractors, cars, planes, trucks, trains, dirt, movement, and bugs.  He also has a very tender heart and is quick to emphasize with other's feelings.  My goal for him for next year is to include him in our homeschooling more.

is two-and-a-half, and is mommy's boy.  He imitates myself or his daddy, and tries to be much more grown up than his age.  He also follows the "big kids" around and joins in their games.  He used to hate being outside, but has gotten much braver lately- that's been fun to see.  I'd like to see him spending more time with his sibling, and yet growing into his own personality.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

DIY 6-Sided Magnetic 100's Chart

In an effort to give my kids the childhood I never had (wink), I've made this large wooden, magnetic 100's chart with five levels of learning.  There is a black and white version that I think of as the "neutral" position, which has the magnetic side facing down on my board.  I'm calling that side the "counting by ones" side.  Then, there is the "counting by twos" side, where the numbers are shades of grey.  There are the "counting by threes" side and the "counting by fives" side, in which the corresponding numbers are highlighted by a lighter shade of color (see the pictures above).  Lastly, there is the "rainbow" side where the numbers are colored in sets of tens (all the 20's are one color, the fifties are another, etc).  I'm hoping that this level of hands-on learning will really help my kids to master the 100-chart, the patterns in numbers, skip counting, and other number related knowledge.

I also included this "Monster Mystery" worksheet as part of the packet.  If you laminate it or use it with a page protector, it can be used over and over to test a child's knowledge of numbers.  With the 100 chart blocks in the "ones" (black and white) position, the teacher/parent can grab out ten numbers at random and replace them with the monster blocks.  Then, the child can look at the chart and figure out which numbers are missing.  The parent could "hide" the missing numbers or hand the numbers to the child to be replaced in the chart in the correct place.  I'm sure that there are other ways you and your child could figure out to play.

To download the file, click here.

It occurred to me after I made the orginal PDF that I really should start the 100-chart at the number 0 so that the "tens places" line up in a column.  I made the rainbow side with the colored zero, and included a "neutral" zero for the "counting by ones" side.  You can get the amended page here.

The wood blocks came from the Etsy shop, I Used to be a Tree.  They worked perfectly for this project, and I recommend that you buy the blocks from them if you want to do this project.

The magnetic side was made with magnetic sticker sheets.  I was able to do all 111 (0-100 number cubes and 10 monsters) with one pack of magnetic paper.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

How to Plan a Dinosaur Themed Road Trip

I've been enjoying Travel Time Tuesday so much and have been posting so much content (twice a week lately) that I decided to move all of it to its own blog.  The Dinosaur Road Trip blog post is now at my new site- Party Through the USA.

Click on the picture to go to the dinosaur post.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

E is for Earth (year 2, week 32)

This blog is an Amazon Associate.

I ordered some homeschool supplies last week, which caused me to change the order of our themes to accomidate when our items will be arriving.  This week was supposed to be "A is for America," but I switched it to "E is for Earth."  I bought a couple new books for our homeschool: "Children Just Like Me" and "P is for Passport."  I also bought us a world map  ($10!) and a US map (which we'll use next week).  We're slowly getting our homeschool area put together.

I introduced the kids to the Montessori map that I had started back in August.  The continents are glued/sewn down yet, and I'd still like to do the land and water part, but it still have us a lot to talk about.  We hadn't talked about the Montessori continent colors before, so we did that this week, and talked about which continent was biggest and smallest.  Of course, we talked about where we live in the world.

Tadpole (2.5) loved the feel of the felt continents and spent a lot of time stacking them by side, counting them, and trying to name their colors.  He also liked to spread the out on the "ocean" like he had seen me do.  It was so neat to see him expressing all the concepts that he has been observing from the rest of us.

Tuesday evening, I went grocery shopping and specifically picked out food that had been imported from other countries.  Even in my small town, I was able to find bananas from Ecuador, pineapple from Costa Rica, candy from Japan, dragon fruit from Vietnam, and coconut from Indonesia (I think).  Throughout the week, we tasted the different foods and looked at our new map to see where the foods had originated.  It also gave us a great opportunity to talk about how the foods may have gotten to our grocery store.

On Wednesday, our new maps arrived in the mail, and I immediately hung them on the wall.  I love our Wall Pops world map!  It's a giant (2ft by 3ft) sticker that went on smooth and looks great on the wall.  It also is laminated so that we can write on it and stick our food import stickers on it.

I made some homemade pointers for Dragonfly and I and we had a very enjoyable time exploring the world together.  We talked about where we live, the countries that are near to our town (we're about 15 miles from Canada), and the countries that are important/interesting to our family.  By the end of our time (maybe a half hour), Dragonfly could point to nearly 20 countries as I named them, including the tiny Asian country where her uncle, aunty, and cousins live, the island nation where our friends live, the South American country where daddy was born, the place where the polar bears live, the continent where the penguins live, and the African country where mommy and daddy lived before she was born.  Several hours later, she was able to tell them to her daddy.  I think she may be a kinetic learner, and this activity gave me many ideas for activities in the futures.

Dragonfly and I also read a great book called, "P is for Passport."  The book goes through all the letters of the alphabet and talks about different places, customs, languages, foods, etc, yet how similar people are all over the world.  For example, "m is for music," "g is for grain," and "f is for faith."  The book served as a great introduction to the world.  It  would also be neat if used as a unit study, where the family did a notebook page after researching more about each topic.

So, that was pretty much our week.

- Psalm 8 sung in Hebrew
- 7 Continents Song
- "King of the Jungle" song


- landforms dictionary
- ocean 3-part cards
- types of pollution cards
- me on the map circles
- Around the World and World Landmarks (safari toob) 3-part cards
- children around the world picture cards
- land and water forms cards
- Montessori continent cards

- continent boxes
- felt map
- earth sensory bin
- land, air, water sorting
- montessori map coloring
- polluted sensory bin
- "show me your neighborhood around the world" blog link up

Friday, April 15, 2016

All My Printables

Updated on April 15, 2016

{Safari Toob Printables}
- monkeys and apes 3-part cards
mammal skulls 3-part cards
New York City 3-part cards
- USA symbols 3-part cards
- horses 3-part cards
backyard birds 3-part cards
Galapagos animal 3-part cards
river animals 3-part cards
Australian animal 3-part cards
desert animals
desert mini matching cards
dinosaur skulls 3-part cards
North American animal 3-part cards
- land/water sorting mat
zoo animal 3-part cards
sorting insects from non-insects
- insect 3-part cards

favorite types of milk experiment
firefighter 3-part cards
mammals cards and poster
mammals mini matching cards
antarctic food chain
pollen to hive transfer game
seed matching
coral reef Finding Nemo game
metamorphosis roll and cover game
seeds coloring page

- dice for learning games
- five paragraph essay organizer
- Thanksgiving spelling game
- juggling CVC words
- curves and sticks for building letters
- resurrection opposites
- rain handwriting worksheets
- "Eak" and Eek" monster word sort
- color words spelling game
- mountain handwriting worksheets
handwriting sky/grass/dirt cards
candy and cocoa shop spelling words (with bonus math component)
- duck pond spelling game
resurrection spelling words (with math component)
- bees like B's game
safari spelling words (with bonus math component)
- bee hexagon activity
- hungry bear counting game

transportation in Antarctica
all about Idaho 3-part cards
Asian regions list
cattle drive game
American history 3-part cards
American inventions 3-part cards

{Math Printables}
- place value cards
- dice for learning games
- DIY math games (that fit in an Altoid tin)
- learning clock
- magnetic six-sided 100-chart
cookie graphing
space count and clip
pirate count and clip
bug jar roll and fill game
- turtle counting
- measuring dinosaur bones
- pond games
- roll and cover games
- candy graphing and patterns
- monster size sorting
- counting treasure
- yarn worksheets
- marshmallow counting
- camping worksheets (1)
- camping worksheets (2)
- grocery worksheets (1)
- grocery worksheets (2)
- firetruck roll and cover
- wormy apples counting
- even and odd socks
- monster 0-20 ten-frames game
- monster roll and cover
- monster worksheets (1)
- monster worksheet (2)
- monster worksheet (3)
- beehive counting by 10's
- duck number line
- making teen numbers
- grocery count and clip
- counting cookies
- counting jewels
- ice cream cone patterns
- shape matching
- ten-frame worksheets
- counting frogs

{Classroom Decorations}
- laundry pictures for theme introduction
- seed we eat pictures for theme introduction
- apple pictures for theme introduction
- America pictures for theme introduction
- insects pictures for theme introduction
- calendar pack
- paleontologist poster 
Bible books cards (calendar time)
calendar cards (frog theme)

- quilt pieces puzzles
Cars puzzles
- pirate bingo/matching cards
space bingo/matching cards
- circus bingo/matching cards
- Mickey color matching game
- color gradient matching game
- Bethlehem journey game
- quilt patterns game
- treasure map games
- yarn color matching
- animals and their homes matching
- laundry sorting game
- sock matching

{Home Decorations}
- perfect elf day
- boy Bible verse
- girl Bible verse
- boy Bible verse (2nd)
- worthy is the Lamb
- Lady and the Tramp quotes
- elf diet
- whole ocean Finding Nemo quote
- keep swimming Finding Nemo quote
- fish are friends Finding Nemo quote
- Jesus Storybook Bible quote
- spring Narnia quote
- craft room saying
- Star Wars quote
                                                        - laundry sign

- John Deere picture cards
- moving countdown
- travel journal

Thursday, April 14, 2016

USA Symbols 3-part Cards

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

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

These 3-part cards were a test for me, since I haven't seen most of these monuments.  As a homeschool family, we'll have to see what we can do about that.  These 3-part cards match the USA toob by Safari Ltd.

To download the file, click here.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Travel Time Tuesday- All About Altoids

I've been enjoying Travel Time Tuesday so much and have been posting so much content (twice a week lately) that I decided to move all of it to its own blog.  The Altoid blog post is now at my new site- Party Through the USA.

Click on the picture to go to the altoid post.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Old Fashioned Kitchen Organization

With our move, I had to retire my old fashioned kitchen storage cupboard.  The pottery drawers were too fragile to be used any longer.  I taped the whole thing up with packing tape, and it's now in storage.

The cupboard belonged to Bullfrog's Canadian grandma.  It's very interesting to me to see what types of things people stored and used a hundred years ago.  Tea, coffee, oatmeal, sugar, rice, and barley were given the largest bins.  Ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper, allspice, and cloves were placed in the tiny drawers on the bottom.  Just a little peek into kitchen organization from days of old.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

N is for Nest (year 2, week 31)

To do this week: hang bird feeders (if the fence is up otherwise we'll just find them)

We started the week at the Mobius Children's Museum.  It offered my kids all of their favorite sensory experiences all one place!  They loved it- as you can see from the pictures;

Top Left: Skimmer and Tadpole loved the construction area.  The "dirt" is rubber shavings.

Top Right: Skimmer on a plasma car.  They had a "neighborhood" where the kids could drive around.

Bottom Left: The neighborhood had a fire station area where the kids could put on gear and turn a water valve.

Bottom Right: Tadpole spent a lot of time pushing shopping carts, lawn mowers, and cars around.

Top Left: The staff were very helpful and patient.  Skimmer is attempting to send a silk hankie through a pneumatic tube.

Top Right: The museum had something for every still level.  Tadpole is in the "baby" area.

Bottom Left: Dragonfly spent probably 20 minutes pouring, raking, and scooping sand.  She also really enjoyed running the sand through her fingers.

Bottom Right: Skimmer loved the "mud" area with it's running water.  He spent a long time getting toys dirty and then cleaning them off.  He got very wet.

Top Left: Tadpole and Dragonfly spent 30-40 minutes playing at the water table.  The water had a current, so it was fun for floating boats, but it was a very pleasant sensory experience.

Top Right: Skimmer was fascinated by the large fan that would blow silk parachutes up into the air.

Bottom Left: One area was dedicated for dentistry.  The big mouth had big dentist tools and rope floss for practicing good self care.

Bottom Right: Dragonfly was drawn into the digging area by the dinosaurs, but decided that it was too noisy for good pretend play.

One of my favorite things about the museum was all the ideas it gave me for sensory and science play around our own house.  Even then, we bought the membership so that we can go back again many more times.

My mom found us a used playground that we could take for free.  My family came on Sunday to build the playground in our yard.  It was quite the day, but the kids loved every part of it.

They were able to use the U-haul to move the playground in large pieces.  That cut the assembly time by days, probably.

The kids helped and pretended to help where they could.  The excitement was catching.

They didn't even wait until the entire thing was assembled before they started climbing on it and going down the slide.  They ended up with a climbing wall, monkey bars, steering wheel, playhouse, digging pit, picnic table, and three swings.  The swings are pretty close to each other, so we'd like to take that section apart someday and extend top beam to accommodate more swings and a greater variety.

Mommy School
As you can imagine, the kids spent most of the week on the playground.  We still haven't gotten our library card in our new town yet.

We made chocolate peanut butter nests this week.  I started with bittersweet chocolate and added just a little bit of sugar.  So they were chocolate-y but not too sweet.  Yum!

Then, we counted jelly beans for the eggs.  We talked about how the jelly beans are the size of hummingbird eggs.  We aimed for three candies in each nest, but we weren't always successful.  After all, why would anyone like to limit the best part of the nests?

We saw a chickadee in our yard this week, so we bought a bird feeder and packed it with a finch blend.  We have a lot of starlings in our yard now, though, so I don't know when we'll see the chickadees again.  We practiced our scissor skills and cut up yarn for a nest box.  We'll have to see what happens.  Both of these are on the side of the house where the kids don't play to give them the best chance of being used.

- backyard birds 3-part cards
- predator and prey matching
- birds and their nests matching
- parts of a bird labeling activity
- parts of a bird mini book
- birds and their eggs matching
- bird hatching sequence
- male and female birds matching
- 50 birds around the world
- bird puzzle and labels
- preschool pack
- kindergarten pack

- hummingbird unit
- bread grating for bird food
- candy bird nests
- drink like a hummingbird
- super simple bird food sensory bin
- egg counting into nests
- comparing birds and reptiles
- measuring bird seed
- cheerio bird feeder
- eating worms with a clothespin beak
- making/painting bird houses
- giant nest
- robin sensory bin

- baby hummingbirds
- forest sounds (CD)

Follow In Our Pond's board "N is for Nest" on Pinterest.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Springtime Learning Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers

As the weather is getting warmer, my kids are spending more and more time outside.  They love the sunshine and the feel of mud and grass on their feet.  Outdoor play has it's own learning opportunities, but there are lots of things parents can do with their kids to increase their knowledge, while still having fun in the sun.  Here are a few ideas from past years:

One of the first sensory bins that we did was this Pond bin.  The substrate is tapioca pearls that have been dyed with blue food coloring.  We added some yellow rubber ducks, but the kids were much more interested in the feel of the tapioca pearls than in playing with the ducks.  You can read more about this sensory bin at the original post.

One of our homeschool units was called "J is for Jungle."  We focused on the Amazon rainforest and talked about caiman, tropical fruits, and coffee beans.  This sensory bin had unflavored gelatin that I dyed green and plain water.  The kids loved to squish the jello and watch it melt in the sun.  We sang, "Five Little Monkeys swinging from a tree," a lot that week.  Clean-up meant simply dumping the water into the yard and putting the "caimans" away in our homeschool supplies for next year

We had a very dry summer last year with lots of forest fires.  To help the kids understand forest fires, how they start, and who works to put them out, we did a summer unit on fires.  We pretended to be firefighters and "put out" shaving cream fires with spray bottles.  The other highlight from the week was our forest fire demonstration with matches and play dough.  You can check it out that experiment on the original blog post.

The kids have been asking me every day if it's warm enough to make a worm box again.  They loved this box of dirt with big, wiggly nightcrawlers in it.  This year, I'd like to try composting with them and teaching the kids natural recycling.  In the meantime, the kids have been using their garden tools to dig for worms in our new flower beds.  It's been very rainy lately, so the kids haven't had to work very had to find them.  It's a great learning opportunity.

I hope this has inspired you to get outside with your kids and play in the sunshine with them.  What do you like to do outside?  Share your ideas in the comments below.