Looking for Ideas for Homeschool Hands-On Projects?

March 9, 2009


Here’s a great blog carnival article with a collection of all kinds of hands-on homeschool projects:  Rock collecting, making paper, sculpting with discarded materials, plus my own playdough making tutorial, and more.  A nice collection of articles to get the ideas flowing.  Enjoy!
Do you have a favorite hands-on activity? Or a link to one? Please share 🙂

Posted under Blog Carnivals, Homeschool Crafts

Print a Bugzzle Triangle Puzzle from this fun Photoshop Tutorial

January 28, 2009

Isn’t this a beautiful puzzle?  It’s eye-catching enough to stop even my hyper toddler for a second look.


I was looking for a blank puzzle to print and found this Photoshop puzzle tutorial on how to design an entertaining triangle brainteasing puzzle. The trick is to arrange the triangle-shaped puzzle pieces so that the bug bodies all line up. It’s not as easy as it looks!

You may not know much Photoshop, but the author, Enrique Flouret, is nice enough to let us download the final products which are easy to print on sticker paper or simply glue to cardboard or cardstock, and cut out for a fun activity:

If you make one of these, would you mind commenting and let us know what materials you used and how it turned out?

Posted under Homeschool Crafts, Toddler Tips

Playdough Making Tutorial – Picture This!

December 30, 2008

Welcome to the first of my “Picture This” posts.  This if for the readers that enjoy ‘seeing’ what I’m talking about.  And sometimes, scanning through a post of pictures is a nice break from all the text.

I did a recent post with recipes for homemade playdough and flubber.  Here’s how easy it is to make your own playdough:

Here’s the recipe I’m doing:

Playdough Recipe #1

(Special Ingredient = Alum – found in ’spices’ section of grocery store)

1 cup flour
1 cup water
1 T oil
1 T powdered alum
1/2 cup salt
2 T vanilla
food coloring

Mix all dry ingredients. Add oil, water, vanilla, and food coloring.  Mix.   Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until reaching the consistency of mashed potatoes. Remove from heat.  Play with it.  Store in plastic bag.


1.  Get a pot (you have to start somewhere)


2. Assemble ingredients.  There are only 7 of them.  Seriously, this is what takes the longest at my house.  Can you spot three ingredients in my disaster of a slightly unorganized pantry?  (Red arrow = white flour, Blue arrow = oil, Orange arrow = vanilla back there somewhere)

2. Still assembling . . . Here’s a close-up – now can you see the white flour?  We’re a whole wheat family, so I pretty much use this exclusively for playdough and paper mache.


2.  Still assembling – Now we’re to my stuffed to the brim well-stocked spice cupboard.  Pretend it’s an I-spy game:  Yellow – Yes!  The salt is easy, Green – a little baggy of food coloring way back there, and Orange – knock over everything looking for that well hidden bottle of Alum (you think it’s hard to find in the store?)

2.  Got it all!  (except the food coloring and the water are not in the picture)


3.  Add ingredients – Finally!!  Add one cup flour.  (Check out the action shots!)


4.  Add one-half cup salt.

5.  Add one cup water.

6.  Add 1T Alum (Ok, it’s not exact, and I goofed and used 1 teaspoon – a very forgiving recipe!)

7. Add 1 t vanilla (up to 1 T).  It covers up the salty dough smell nicely, but is a bit brown.

8. Add 1 T oil, any kind.  Helps keep the dough moist and pliable.

9.  A few drops of food coloring.  It mixes in much easier at this stage.

10.  Stir.  Stir.  This is the fun part where little helpers are welcome.  Oh, and mix a few colors for an impromptu color on primary and secondary colors.

11.  All mixed up it should look like this and drip thickly off the spoon.

12.  Oops – don’t EVER wait this long to put the cap back on that staining, evil, permanent, spreads everywhere, food coloring!

13.  Adding a little blue to my batch – ooooh, pretty swirls.

14.  Put in on medium heat and stir continuously.  In a few minutes, the dough on the bottom will thicken, darken, and make everything a bit lumpy (see the dark green chunk in the middle).  Keep stirring.

15.  Chunkier, keep stirring.  Almost done now.

16.  No more glistening wet looking stuff and it all pulls away from the pan into a ball – You’re done!  Get it off the heat and out of the pan right away!  Over cooking makes for crumbly dough.  It’s better to undercook than overcook.

17.  Tadah!  Even the playdough thinks it’s easy!

18.  Bag it and suck out the air to make it last.  Or even keep it in the fridge if you have the room.  (My stuffed well-stocked fridge isn’t accepting new items.)


Recipe Time = somewhere between 7 and 43 minutes

  1. Assemble Ingredients:  2 – 15 minutes (you know how long it takes at my house)
  2. Mix ingredients: 2 minutes
  3. Cook playdough: 3 – 6 minutes
  4. Extra helper and lesson time:  2 – 20 minutes.
What do you think?  I’d love to read some comments.

Posted under Homeschool Crafts, Picture This!

LessonSense.com – Christmas Worksheets, Printables, Crafts and More!

December 18, 2008

LessonSense.com - free worksheets, crafts and printables

Check out another great internet resource full of craft projects, worksheets, and lots of printables: LessonSense.com.

If you’re looking for some Christmas craft ideas and printables, see their Christmas craft page for projects to make Christmas trees, stars, and even a cute stable with Mary and Joseph. 

Or check out their Christmas worksheet page which has the following:

Share With Us:

Have you incorporated holiday lessons into your homeschool? (Whichever holidays you celebrate)  Do you have any tips or ideas that might help the rest of us.  Please share by making a comment!

Posted under Homeschool Crafts, Social Studies Websites

Playdough Recipes and Tips!

December 17, 2008

Making your own playdough is surprisingly easy and a fun kitchen recipe for kids just learning to use the stove.  Throw in some fraction work and kitchen safety rules to ‘Make it a Lesson’.  

Here are tips from our kitchen followed by a few of the recipes we like:

Playdough Making Tips:

  • A touch of vanilla does wonders for the smell by covering up the salty flour smell of homemade dough.
  • Food coloring mixes easily in the water at the beginning – once you have dough – not so much 🙂
  • Keep in plastic so it doesn’t dry out, or the fridge if you want it to last even longer.
  • Take it off the heat as soon as it pulls away from the edges and starts to form a ball.  Overcooking makes it too dry and crumbly.
  • Don’t make edible playdough and regular playdough on the same day . . . yes, for obvious reasons 🙂

Playdough Recipe #1

(Special Ingredient = Alum – found in ‘spices’ section of grocery store)

1 cup flour
1 cup water
1 T oil
1 T powdered alum
1/2 cup salt
2 T vanilla
food coloring

Mix all dry ingredients. Add oil and water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until reaching the consistency of mashed potatoes. Remove from heat and add vanilla and food coloring. Divide into balls and work in color by kneading.

Recipe #2

(Special Ingredient = Cream of Tartar – also in ‘spices’ section)

1 c. flour
½ c. salt
1 T. vegetable oil
1 t. cream of tartar
1 c. water
1 t. vanilla (opt.)
food coloring

Mix all ingredients into a saucepan. Mix well. Cook over a medium-low heat until the mixture forms a soft ball. Store in an airtight container and it will last for weeks to months.

Recipe #3

– Edible Playdough

3 1/2 cups peanut butter
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
3 1/2 cups honey
4 cups dry milk powder (or powdered soy milk)

In large bowl, cream together peanut butter and confectioners’ sugar, then beat in honey and fold in milk powder. Divide into 15 equal portions and refrigerate or freeze until ready to use.

Share With Us:

Do you have a favorite dough recipe or tips to making play dough?  Would you mind posting them in the comment section?  Thanks!!

Posted under Homeschool Crafts

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

Build a pirate ship, a firetruck, and a skeleton For Free!

October 10, 2008

There’s nothing like a activity with good instruction, quality materials, and zero cost to attract a homeschool family’s attention.  We just discovered the Lowe’s Build and Grow Clinics at our local hardware store.  They are scheduled every other week during the school year (once a month or so in the summer) and include some great hands-on crafts.  Best of all, it’s free!

Here’s what we liked:

  • Easy online sign-up and clear information with project pictures for the next two clinics with a waiver you print and bring in with you.
  • The project was from 10 – 11 am and we could arrive any time in that hour to do our project.
  • The whole family, infant to age 8, was welcomed with the baby stroller parked at the edge of the room.
  • Friendly Lowe’s employees readily helped us and were very patient.
  • Awesome FREE Lowe’s apron for each kid with a slot for their name card.
  • The building kit came in a bag with large, clearly illustrated directions.  The wooden pieces were all pre-cut and the nail holes were even pre-drilled for beginning ‘hammerers’.
  • At the end, each child received a nice certificate and a cool patch (much like Boy Scout merit badges) to sew to their apron.  Some of the kids there had aprons almost completely full of patches.  What a great family tradition!
  • We got to take the pirate ships home where they became a craft project for another day.  We painted the ships and when they dried, sprayed them with a lacquer (purchased at Lowes 🙂 to seal and waterproof them.  The kids were very anxious to get them in the tub to test them out and make a few action figures ‘walk the plank’.  Bath time battles galore!
  • Did I mention it’s totally free?

I hope you enjoy the clinics as much as we do.  Do you know of other good hands-on building and craft resources?  Please share them in the comment section.  Thanks!

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Posted under Homeschool Crafts