It's a very common misconception that homeschoolers don't participate in the obligatory "back to school" shopping shenanigans that their traditional schooling counterparts do. In fact, it's quite the opposite, homeschoolers loooove shopping for pens and pencils and new clothes. Only, instead of buying button down shirts and khakis, we're buying new pajamas and slippers, because that's obviously what all homeschoolers wear, riiight?
Jokes aside, it is almost that time of year again and if you've got the shopping bug like me, may I suggest you check out Groupon Coupons before trudging into the store. Not only can Groupon Coupons save you money, they could quite possibly save your very sanity. *insert dramatic music here*
There are those who like to brave the crowds and enjoy the thrill of the hunt and to those people, I say: (slow clap) ... Way to go, you are the real MVPs, but for those who, like me, abhor the very idea of schlepping through all those people and all the unorganized chaos that once were nicely arranged shelves, say "hello" to free shipping and no lines from *a ton of your favorite stores. *Actual number of stores is closer to >125. "a ton" was just a guesstimation.
You can start your shopping journey at my favorite-place-to-blow-fifty-bucks-in-just-the-Dollar-spot-alone; Target, where you can score $5 off $50 as well as free shipping on all your favorite items for back-to-school. (obligatory Starbucks drink not available for online shopping, plan accordingly)
Does little Sally need a new backpack, maybe a new lunch box for little Johnny? No matter which item is at the top of your stereotypically-1955-era-named-kid's list, you will find it on Amazon.com. I bet they even have pajamas, if you look hard enough. (wink wink) For a limited time, you can save as much as 70% on electronics and more, clipping coupons and codes as you shop.
After Johnny and Sally get new backpacks and lunchboxes, it's off to the eye doctor for a check-up. You have to make sure they can see the board, so they can be at the top of their game academically. 1-800 contacts is offering an amazing deal, just in time for back to school; $40 off plus free shipping. *certain minimum spending requirements apply
Any good, self-respecting homeschooler knows, Barnes & Noble is where it's at, when it comes to books and educational games and resources. They even offer a 20% educator's discount, if you have proof of homeschooling and for a limited time, you can save 25% off Harry Potter paperbacks. Revisit your favorite childhood stories and introduce your kids to these classic tales. The only thing better than a Harry Potter book, is a 25% off Harry Potter book.
Where in the rule book does it say little Johnny and Susie should get all the goodies? Nowhere, that's where! While you're on your online shopping adventure, stop by Shari's Berries and order yourself a dozen gourmet fancy dipped strawberries for 25% off regular price. Shoot, you deserve it for all your hard work.
In celebration of the recent release of Cars 3, Disney has provided me with some awesome coloring pages and fun games to share with you guys... enjoy!
I'd love to tell you there is some important science principal to be gleaned from doing this experiment (and there probably is, somewhere), but this one is mostly just for fun and it looks pretty freaking cool.
Other than the Alka Seltzer or denture tabs you will need, you probably already have all the necessary ingredients on hand to perform this experiment.
You will need: water, vegetable, olive, or some other kind of oil, food coloring and a clear glass. (bonus points if you wear goggles. They're totally not necessary, but very cool nonetheless)
Start by coloring your water any color you want, I used blue. Pour about two inches of oil in the bottom of your container, then add another two or three inches of your colored water. Allow this to settle for just a second, then add an Alka Seltzer or denture tablet and sit back and enjoy the show.
A couple of months ago, before the cold really set in, we decided to strike out on one last (outdoor) adventure for the season; Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky. The drive from Nashville took us about two and a half or three hours. It's not really that far, we just got sidetracked and it took a bit longer than expected; adventuring at its finest.
The interstate travel was pretty underwhelming, but once we got off the highway and onto the back(ish) roads that led into the national park, the scenery was really beautiful. Since we went in late November, most of the beautiful red and orange leaves were gone, but you could still see remnants of the passing season all around if you looked hard enough.
As you drive the couple of miles that wind through the park to the visitor's center, there are lots of places you can pull off the road and take in the beautiful surroundings, including several hiking trails.
There is also an overlook with a cool, informational plaque that gives data on air pollution and how it has affected the surrounding landscape. Wait! Did this just turn into an educational homeschool field trip?! You bet your behind it did. Learning happens everywhere, even for grown-ups.
After we meandered through the park for about twenty minutes, we finally arrived at the beautiful visitor's center where you purchase your tickets, overpriced souvenirs and take your final potty break before descending into the depths of the earth.
After reading the descriptions of each tour, we decided to do the domes and dripstones tour. Their website describes it like this ...
Wind down through deep pits and high domes via a 280 step staircase. Vertical cave gives way to large canyons and underground hill climbs. Visit the Frozen Niagara formation, then pass through one of the caves most decorative dripstone areas. A ten-minute bus ride to and from the entrances is included.
Well that doesn't sound so bad, I mean, I've walked down a flight of stairs before, how hard could it be?! Honestly, it was pretty intense. My legs got Jello-y right around the sixty-seven thousandth stair and I'm pretty sure I almost fell to my death at least twice, but the feeling I had while in that cave was something I won't soon forget.
It was something I hadn't felt in a while: brave. As someone who deals with varying levels of anxiety on a daily basis, staying safely in my comfort zone is where I feel best, but this day I was all kindsa out of my element and I was OK with it, excited even.
I usually like to be fully prepared for any and all things that could possibly go wrong, but this day, I was flying by the seat of my pants... and it felt amazing.
As I followed Neil Young down into the bowels of the beautiful blue grass state of Kentucky, I just somehow knew it was all gonna be OK. (disclaimer: this was not the real Neil Young, just some cool hippie imposter, but whatever)
After snaking down the narrow stairway, the cave opens up into a huge area that has been modified with bench seats for cave goers to sit down and listen to a short presentation detailing the history and cool facts about the caves.
Our guides: (I think his name was) Dave and "guy who resembles Dave, but younger" were amazing and super entertaining and even picked Micah to be the official light turner outer for the demonstration on "exactly how dark is it in here with the lights off". This was one of the fun q's from the q&a session with the rangers.
The cave is covered in some really cool drip formations and the rangers give you tons of great information about how they are formed and how long it takes and all that good stuff. They will also remind you "please don't touch the formations, not even just a little bit". You are, however, allowed to take pictures, but you can't use your flash.
The entire trip through the cave took about an hour and a half, maybe a bit longer and due to the small size of our party (25-ish spelunkers), we were able to go see a couple of things that aren't usually on the domes and dripstones tour.
The weather inside the cave was mild, but not nearly as cold as I had anticipated, plus the walk is a bit of a workout, so you will generate more than enough body heat to keep you going. A light windbreaker would suffice.
The caves are very well maintained and the trek was very safe, even though I was sure I was going to die, I never did. (sneakers with good soles are definitely recommended) There were two rangers in our party, one leading and one in the back making sure no stragglers got left behind (we were the stragglers) and he was very kind and understanding when Micah's little feet got tired and almost gave out on the seventy-seventh staircase.
Overall, this was an amazing adventure, one that I would highly recommend if given the chance, but, I think, for me, it would have been more fun if I hadn't been constantly worrying about Micah falling into the pits of the earth never to be seen or heard from again.
He had no trouble navigating the small, cramped spaces, but his little six year old feet wore out way before mine did and he was asking to be piggy backed about half way through the trip. No dice, kid. The tiny stairs and slippery passageways did not lend themselves very well to piggybacking.
There are several other tours that would be perfect for little spelunkers and they offer a handicapped accessible tour as well. The caves are open for tours from 8:30 a.m. till 4:30 p.m. through March 2017 (at which time the Spring / Summer schedule will begin), but you will want to check the website as the times for arrival and departure for each tour is different.
Admission is free to enter the park itself, but the guided tours (over 13 available) cost a fee depending on which one you decide to take and each tour has a different "ability level", so choose carefully when buying your tickets.
After your cave tour, make sure to take a ride through the rest of the park, there are lots of little hidden gems to explore, including an old cemetery right next to an old one room church that is super creepy and just happened to be unlocked.
As soon as I walked in, I felt like I was transported into another time and place. The sound of my feet shuffling across the nearly two-hundred year old hardwoods was haunting. The smell of the dank air. My voice echoing off the pews and walls. The history in that old building was palpable. I'm not sure if ghosts are real or not, but if they are, they are definitely kicking it in that old church.
As the sun began to set on our epic day trip, we had one last stop to make. I had seen a fireworks stand on the way back into the park from our lunch adventure at the Watermill (amazing country style lunch buffet, btw) and I remembered they had a sign advertising rocks and gemstones.
I'm a sucker for sparkly and shiny things, so we made a detour on our way out of town and picked up these little beauties to commemorate "that day we didn't die in a cave in Kentucky".
One of my favorite things about homeschooling is the ability to have fun while learning important concepts. As a child, math was my least favorite subject. To say I hated it would be an understatement, so when I decided to homeschool, I resolved to change my attitude about math and do my best to make it fun for Micah, so hopefully he would not have the same aversion to it as I.
This week we have been working on place value up to hundreds. We are eclectic homeschoolers and are currently using Khan Academy for our math lessons. After watching a very short, succinct video, I wasn't sure exactly how to reinforce this newly learned concept, other than worksheets, which Micah abhors, so I created this fun game to get in some practice while having fun. I call it "sneaky learning". (not the game, the process in which the kids are gaining important knowledge without having to "learn" it)
I made two different game boards, one for tens and ones and one that goes up to the hundred's place. I also made a sheet of numbers to cut out. You could also just make random numbers up off the top of your head, but I find the act of drawing from a bowl is engaging for the kids and makes it more like a game.
Set up requires only to print the game board(s) and the numbers. Cut the numbers apart and fold and place into a bowl for your child to pick. Don't let them see the number, that would kinda defeat the purpose. (alternately, you could just call the numbers from the sheet)
To play the game, you simply call a number and ask the child to write the numbers in their correct place on the game board. Super easy and straight forward. If your child is not a proficient writer yet, you could always use the magnetic numbers as pictured above. I found this particular set in the dollar spot at Target, but you can find them most places.
Don't let the harsh winter weather conditions leave you looking like a bad Dave Chappelle character, quench your lips' thirst with a simple, all-natural lip balm you can make at home in less than five minutes.
This recipe is super simple and only requires two ingredients: organic shea butter and organic coconut oil. Depending on how much you want to make, your actual measurements will vary, but I like to use a 3:1 ratio with shea butter being the main ingredient.
All you do is melt the two ingredients in the microwave or a double boiler until they are well blended, pour into containers and place in the fridge until they are cooled. After it's set (overnight), you can store it at room temperature for easier application.
I found these particular containers in the travel section at Five Below, but they are available at most discount stores. You could get fancy and flavor your lip balm with a food grade candy flavoring, but I prefer it plain, because you can use it on other places besides your lips, such as dry hands, or your ashy knees and elbows. This is also safe for use on children.
This has the feel of a very rich balm, but is not quite as greasy as a more coconut oil dominant mixture would be. It makes a great overnight foot treatment. Slather your feet in it before bed and put on some socks and in the morning your feet will be so much softer and with extended use you can even stop making those annoying little pills on the sheets because of your troll feet.
Jokes aside, having soft skin doesn't need to come with tons of chemicals and stuff you can't pronounce, keep it simple, It's better for you, better for the environment and it makes you look super cool when you tell your friends you made it yourself.
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