Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tiny gifts that keep on giving.

After a few years of homeschooling, it becomes more than a weekday activity and turns into a way of life.  It’s like Christmas in June every year when the curriculum comes in the mail; opening packages from art supply places, new packages of sketch books, and little stacks of books all waiting to be read.  Beyond the art supplies are art kits, where you can build anything from a catapult to a tiny brick building to creating beautiful friendship bracelets for your friends!   I like to get the most bang for my buck, so I often pack the best of these away for birthday and Christmas gifts!  New drawing pencils end up in the stocking, new sketchbooks end up under the tree tied with ribbons and perhaps a chapter book tucked in on top.  Education is a 24/7 thing around here!

Here is a list of educational gifts that I think would make wonderful Stocking Stuffers for some always learning kiddos. 

FOR THE YOUNGEST - ages 2 - 6


My children like to use playdough or clay when I am reading chapter books.  I have found that it helps with their dictations later if they are listening intently while working creatively.  Homemade playdough is cheap, easy and modifiable in SO many ways.  Add a little essential oils to your playdough and you have a whole other sensory experience for your little one!  Lavender for relaxation, orange for uplifting and alert… so many possibilities! 

Here’s a few that we love:

Gingerbread Playdough recipe - Smells awesome!  It may inspire more than a playdough baking session.  Just a warning!

Candycane playdough recipe - I haven’t done this one, but I have made peppermint!  That is uplifting and always makes me feel clean afterwards.  Even when the playdough is still under my nails.

Pumpkin Spice Playdough recipe - Smells like pumpkin pie.  Are you hungry yet?  Seriously, this stuff is awesome! 

If you are not up for making your own, my personal favorite for my kids is Mama K’s Play Clay!  The aromatic smells that Mama K uses in her clay are amazing! 

Enjoy some fun pattern recognition games with the Pluck Carrot Play Set!   Who wouldn’t want to see this tucked in a stocking with a sweet little bunny puppet or two.


And speaking of puppets!   What a great learning tool!  They create a space that is a bit removed from being human, so even the quietest of children will start talking when handed a puppet.  Besides, there isn’t anything cuter than a stuffed face sticking out of the top of the stocking on Christmas morning.  Why not make it one they can learn with?

FOR THE MIDDLES - Ages 5 - 11

Play Silk : One Solid Colored Playsilk (Your Choice of Colour, 35 x 35 inch)

If I had to pick ONE toy for children this age it would be playsilks!   They can be a covering for a fort under the table or a silken robe for a Greek warrior.  They have so many incredible uses that each  time your child picks them up they can create a whole new world!   The best variety for the expense has got to be Esty.com.  There are tons of different vendors that make some of the most beautiful playsilk creations!  (Another great thing about playsilks is they fold up into TINY parcels that can be stuffed into a small toybox, or *gasp* a stocking.  Winking smile 

Taking the silks one step further is dress up.  They can create whole worlds for themselves with a simple dress up frock and a wooden sword. Nova Naturals has a great selection of earth friendly gifts that can complete any dress up wardrobe for a little knight or fairy that you may know. 

Gift your kids even more imagination play with wooden and felt food!  Have your little girl make you up a tea party, or your son cook you up a pizza!   This felt pizza from Mellissa and Doug looks like tons of fun!


FOR THE OLDEST - Ages 11 - 18

As the kids get older, educational gifts get harder to find that are not electronic.  And if it needs a cord or batteries, it’s probably expensive!  Here are a few gifts that you can tuck into those stockings with out breaking the bank for the oldest kids in your clan. 

Writing Prompt Cubes

Start off the new year right with some creative Writing Prompt Cubes!   These fun story starters would be great to have a sit-in with my teen and tween and just listen to what comes after “One day I want to visit…”

Learning a handcraft is a great TV free pastime for older children!   This felt ball set from Nova Naturals would be a great gift to keep any tweens hands busy and felt balls are wonderful for the youngers.  Perhaps they could make them for their younger siblings?  (There are many more in the ‘crafts’ section at Nova Naturals that would make a great gift for any kiddo with busy hands.)

Zoobooks Cover

Magazine subscriptions - online or in paper - are a great stocking stuffer for older kids and teens. 

New Moon is a writing magazine for teen girls written by and even edited by other girls around the globe!

Zoobooks - All my kids love reading the fun facts that are in the Zoobooks magazines each month.  Grandparents in our family have paired Zoobooks with a NorthWest Trek membership for the past few years and I have watched the kids pour over each magazine multiple times. 

I hope this post got your wheels turning about what you can give to those little learners in your family.  If you have any other great learning gift ideas, please pass them along in the comments! 

Blessings for a wonderful holiday!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Fox Unit Study

It’s Fox Week here at Homeschooling in the Rose Garden!!

Today started out with a storybook study/nature study on the wild red fox.  I base it on this book by Shirley Woods:

Front Cover

This story is amazing!  In fact, I would highly recommend any of Shirley Woods naturalist series.  I have all of them and we will be spending most of our time going through these for our storybook and nature studies this year along with Trickle Creeks, Ecojournals.  If you enjoy nature study and Charlotte Mason these are the books to get!

We are pairing these two wonderful resources with a few Homeschool Share Lapbook materials.  I pick and choose what I use with this to what would help my children specifically.  Slowly, throughout the book, we can fill out different portions of the lapbook with answers.  For example, the first three chapters we covered several varieties of prey that foxes hunt, two different dens that foxes use and live in, and two different types of barks that foxes will use to warn young and mates.  This gave us information for a whole section of the Lapbook and we hadn’t even gotten half way through the book!

Fox Lapbook from Homeschool Share

Here are some videos we found very useful and fun for our Fox study:

Fox Sounds:

5 Wild Fox Kits Playing:

Aesop's Fables about teasing.  Aesop's Fable Lapbook (we only used the Fox and the Stork portion).

Aesop's Fables - The Fox and The Stork:

And the last one, just for fun, Foxes jumping on a back yard trampoline!

And that’s just for starters. Winking smile

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Pinterest Win - Ziplock bag painting!


We found a Pinterest pin that worked perfectly for a cold rainy afternoon in mid October.

Ziplock Bag Painting

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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Field Trip - Kennedy Creek Chum Salmon Run


The trip there was incredibly beautiful!  From the second we got off the freeway we were in these beautiful wooded roads with their full fall colors showing.  It was amazingly lovely.  And luckily, I was the passenger so I was able to have him slow down and take some shots of the drive.


The path around the creek was lovely as well.









We got there just as another homeschool group was leaving. We were about to head down on our own when the trail guide (Katie) told us she’d take us to where the salmon were jumping right now.


Luke wanted to be down and on his own for everything.  He was so curious about the water that he accidently dropped one of his boots in the river!  I almost fell in getting it out!


_MG_0405-001It was crazy cute to watch him though.  Smile



I am so glad we went!  It’s the second in a long line of field trips that we are going to be taking this school year.  I am excited about what the kids will be learning on our many trips.