Part 2: Our Vacation is a School Trip – Art Classes

November 18, 2008

(This is the second in a series demonstrating how easy it is to homeschool by using everyday moments like these during our recent vacation as teaching opportunities)

Here is a sample of all the art classes we had on vacation:

Halloween Theatre – starring Grandma as “Witch Zaugg” in her annual presentation covering such topics as “Where Do Pumpkins Come From?” and “You may wonder how I ever got a husband”.



Talk about art!  We joined our Utah family for their annual crazy marathon pumpkin carving event.  Here’s Alex’s Darth Maul. 


Check out the amazing line-up of all the pumpkins everyone carved!


And to top of the art lessons, we learned all about fondant and cake decorating from Aunt Lynette who spent a whole day making this awesome R2D2 cake for Alex’s 9th birthday party.  Amazing, isn’t it?

Who says you have to go to school to learn?  Why not find ways to learn while experiencing life?  It’s so much fun.  Don’t you think?

Do you have fun ideas for adding art to your homeschool adventure?  Please share with us in the comment section.  Thanks!!

Also in this series:

  • Part 1:  Science Classes
  • Part 3:  Gym Classes
  • Part 4:  Language Arts
  • Part 5:  Socialization

Posted under Field Trips, Homeschool Activities, Homeschool Crafts

Running Errands? Teach your children how to read and make a map.

November 5, 2008

Do you need an idea to help cram more learning time into all the busy work or errands you run during the day?  Here’s a great and easy idea:  Teach about maps.

1.  Use Google Earth to teach the concept of maps with this amazing software program you can download and install for free.  My kids love ‘flying’ anywhere in the world and then zooming down to street level to explore.  Give them a location to find, like their own house, and watch how quickly they learn to identify continents, states, cities, and on down until they find their own street.

2.  Buy a compass:  Get an inexpensive compass for each child and introduce the concepts of north, south, east, and west as you are driving in the car.  Who knows, you may improve your own sense of direction.

3.  Make a neighborhood map and have fun learning about some of the following concepts:  

  • Taking measurements:  Discuss ways to measure your neighborhood like using the odometer, counting their own steps, or a measuring wheel.  A fun idea is to make your own measuring wheel using a stroller, bike, or something with a wheel.   Make a visible line on the wheel, measure the circumference and do a bit of math to measure distances.  
  • Scale:  Once you have measurements, teach how to reduce them to a scale that will fit on graph paper.
  • Beginning geometry:  Introduce graph paper, angles and curves to get an accurate map.
  • Legend:  Introduce symbols to represent items on your map.  Have kids practice observation skills and keep a list of things they notice in the neighborhood.  This provides ideas for their map legend.  Ideas include symbols for houses, trees, fire hydrants, businesses, etc.
  • Art and creativity in color coding and illustrating their maps will make the project fun a well-rounded learning experience.

4.  Map your destinations.

  • Next time you need to run errands, think ahead and give your child the assignment to map the location, print a map, and then direct you as you drive.  Start simple and close by, which is perfect for many of your everyday errands.  Use free mapping sites like Yahoo, Google, or Mapquest.  What a fun way to learn what makes up an address, their home address, the names of streets, etc. 

So, next time you hop in the car and wonder how you’ll get all your schooling done, pull out a map and let your kids enjoy learning where they are in the world.

Posted under Homeschool Activities

Fall, Leaves, Trees and a Free Teacher Guide

October 3, 2008


Are you feeling a little panicked about the idea of snow, and kids being confined indoors all day?  Well, not all day.  You can spend 20 minutes outfitting the crew in hats, gloves, boots, and snowsuits before sending them out in the cold.  The problem is, they’ll just be back in 4 minutes 30 seconds to either go to the bathroom or because it’s just too cold.  Then you’ll spend another 20 minutes undoing the whole process and have a puddles of melting snow and a pile of wet clothes to show for it.  And, if you’re lucky a few smiles and happy red noses.  (And for those of you without a freezing cold winter, try not to gloat)

So, in this beautiful fall weather, all I can think is, “Go out and play, play, play.  Hurry, winter is coming!”  But it wouldn’t be homeschool life if we weren’t learning something along the way.  Here is a fun resource for fall walks and explorations:

International Paper used to send out free kits about forests, trees, and how trees are used, but due to overwhelming response (probably from homeschoolers), they have been out of stock for a while.  But they have made the resources available in free PDF format here.  A fun idea is to print up the ‘leaf and needle’ or ‘seeds’ poster on some cardstock, put some clear laminate over it to protect from happy grubby fingers, and have a treasure hunt.  Give each kid a bag and see how many of the different leaves and needles they can find on a walk.

And, finally, this is another of our favorite leaf charts to take on a walk – I know I’ve never really looked at a leaf closely until I tried to identify the shape, margin, and venation.  Thank you Wikipedia!

Do you have any fall activities you enjoy as homeschoolers and as a family?  Please post them in the comment section.  Thanks!

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Posted under Homeschool Activities