Science Sunday or Life is busy

busy week

We got back from our trip visiting Aunt Tara to have a week of so-called downtime before we headed off to New Mexico for a mission trip.  We’ll be spending a week among the Navajo nation helping out a local church there with some building projects.


So, this past week was spent with frantic laundry, packing, getting skits ready, and general making things ready for a second trip, that will immediately be followed by our dropping the kids off for a week with their grandparents.  I have a feeling this is what our summer will be like in the years to come as they get more and more involved in church events.


Either way, I had a fabulous birthday on Friday (with some early celebration on Thursday, complete with breakfast in bed, a show, and several homemade gifts).


So, I’ll have the August Science post up next week (I hope), and if I haven’t visited/promoted your post yet, you now know why (our hotel internet in Chicago was non-existent).

Farm animals unit

Farm animals unit

A farm animals unit is great for early elementary and preschool kids, and I’ll freely admit most of these posts are geared for that age range.  We studied many of these animals in kindergarten and preschool, but some of these were also studied during second grade.

Cows and Horses


My daughter is a horse fanatic, and I have to admit I was a horse fanatic as a child too.  We took a couple of weeks to learn about horses, with some hands on horse activities looking at our model horses.

By contrast my son loves cows, so it was natural when we learned about cows, we had to take some time to learn about a cow stomach and how complicated it is.


General Farm Animals

Most animals you’ll find in a farm animals unit are ungulates, or hooved creatures.  Ungulates are organized in an interesting way, so an ungulate animal sort is a fun activity.

An important activity for any farmer is to know what animals are on his land, so identifying the animal footprint is very important.

farm animal toy sort

My kids’ favorite farm animal activity was our farm animal sort, I think because they got to play with toys and call it school.  This was back when they were in kindergarten, so this is a great activity for younger kids.

After you’ve had fun playing and learning about farm animals, when you’re ready to settle down, grab some of these farm animal books.


And as a side note, it’s my birthday today, so Happy Birthday to me!  We celebrated last night going to Zilker, because tomorrow we head out of town yet again for a mission trip to the Navajo nation and helping build a church in New Mexico.

Birds Unit

bird unit

I think of all of our units this was one of my kids’ favorite animal units.  They loved our birds unit because it afforded them so many opportunities to make things and to act out what they learned.


Anatomy of a bird activities

Why not start with the beginning of birds (unless, did the chicken come first?) and try some egg experiments.

Then look at a bird’s bones and compare it with a cow’s bone.  Comparing bones is a great activity to build observational skills.

My favorite bird activity was our feather experiments, partially because I got to do the oil slick feather experiment.

Finally, and I think this was the kids’ favorite of this section: design a bird.  Whose bird can fly the farthest? (As a side note, looking at pictures in this post just shows how OLD my kids are now, they were so little in this post)


Bird behavior activities

Owls are an interesting creature because they swallow their food whole and then after digestion barf up their food as owl pellets.  I found a great source for owl pellets, and we dissected them.

Then maybe try out a bird migration activity.  My kids had a love hate relationship with this one, because by the end they were very tired.

try to imitate the bird, can you attract a mate

I always think I have a post for this activity, but I don’t, so here’s a bonus activity.  In many bird species the male does bizarre things to attract the female’s attention.  In this bird’s case they puff up their chest and assume strange positions and FREEZE until the female picks her mate.  This activity was done over and over and over again for a month straight.  The kids would run around and then I’d yell “Girl bird,” and they’d freeze until I picked the most interesting “boy bird.”  It really cracked them up.

For all of the posts in this series head on over to Zoology for Kids.

For a great series of posts written by some other awesome homeschooling Moms (including about 3 more series on science) head on over to Summer Hopscotch 2014

Ocean Animals for kids

sea animals for kids

I was originally going to title this post whales and dolphins for kid, because dolphins are cute, and everyone loves whales, they’re so mysterious.  Then I started looking at what my kids were ACTUALLY interested in.  We didn’t spend all that much time on those animals, but a lot more time on other ocean animals.


Learning about the ocean

learning about currents in the ocean

I’d start any unit on ocean animals learning about the ocean first because that affects so much of ocean life.  Take some time to learn about ocean currents, and then the deep water of the ocean.  I’d also say it’s worth taking a look at the different layers of the ocean with this fun craft.



why do octopus change colors

From looking at our ocean animals posts, my kids were very interested in octopus.  We started out learning about octopus propulsion, how do they move?

Than learn about why an octopus changes colors, this is a great activity for your art loving kids because it involves painting.

Sea cucumbers are vaguely related to octopus, or at least that’s what I’m remembering, I could be completely wrong, and just wanting to show off our fun sea cucumber models.

Whales, dolphins, and other aquatic animals

How big is a whale

I think the problem with this topic, is I like it more than the kids, my brain may have been messed with by watching lots of Star Trek IV (affiliate link) as a kid.  Be that as it may, I rather like the silly animals.

We started our study of whales with some whale sounds videos, and then measured how big is a whale and compared it to ourselves.

I’d refer you to all of our sea turtle posts, but I wrote about those yesterday, and I’m sure you already read them then, just in case: Reptile and Amphibians for kids.


I was going to share my kids’ sea animal reports, but in all honesty, they’re just a bunch of proud Mom stuff (For the curious, Batman’s is on manta rays, and Superman’s is on sharks, I didn’t end up posting Princess’ report), and I don’t know it would help you plan much for your own kids.  Though you might get a laugh from Batman’s attempt at a manta ray out of recycled materials.


I’ll have to come back later and give you the kids’ projects on shells and various different crustaceans.  Those two both seem to have about 10 posts on that topic.  I personally find much more than 10 links in a round up post overwhelming, so I’m trying to limit the scope of these units

For all of the posts in this series head on over to Zoology for Kids.

For a great series of posts written by some other awesome homeschooling Moms (including about 3 more series on science) head on over to Summer Hopscotch 2014

Amphibians and Reptiles unit

I think amphibians and reptiles unit is one of the most fun ones with little guys because it’s so easy to become a field trip.  You just load up and head to the nearest pet store and spend a long time watching the snakes and turtles climb around.

Reptile and Amphibian unit

That is my number one suggestion for learning about reptiles and amphibians.  Head down to your pet store and watch them.  Watch the turtles dive in the water.  Watch the snakes seem to climb the walls of their cage.  Watch the frogs hide under logs and rocks.  Observe.  That is one of the best gifts you can give your kids the act of observation.

Reptiles Unit

learn about snakes

Start off with a fun exploration of snakes with this snake unit, try slithering like a snake and explore how they grow.  Follow this up with a study of rattlesnakes which are a common feature in stories here in Texas.

Then learn about some alligators down in Florida and make a fun alligator toy.  Or a very silly book about the alligators under New York.

learn about turtles

Then start looking at turtles.  Try to identify the sea turtle breeds.  Then try to move like a sea turtle and youtube video about laying eggs.

And you have to read a few turtle books after you’ve tried the activities.  Then check out my gone horribly wrong turtle craft.


Amphibians Unit

Learn about frogs

We haven’t really done super a lot with amphibians for whatever reason.  We find the occasional toad in our yard and my kids happily chase them, but that’s about it.  We do however have a great craft on the difference between frogs and toads.

So, I’ll recommend this great frog unit from Homeschool Scientist, and this fun collection of frog crafts.


Dinosaur Unit

(I’m including dinosaurs because they are *technically,* according to what I’ve read, a reptile), so here’s a few dinosaur ideas:

  1. Danny and the Dinosaur unit
  2. Study a dinosaur gizzard (I suppose this post can also be on Thursday’s post: birds unit).
  3. Dinosaur dig

For all of the posts in this series head on over to Zoology for Kids.

For a great series of posts written by some other awesome homeschooling Moms (including about 3 more series on science) head on over to Summer Hopscotch 2014

Zoo animals for Kids

Fingers crossed this week my kids are going to the zoo, I hope.  After most zoo trips we spend some time reviewing all we know about the animals we saw and talking about the zoo animals.

Zoo animals for elementary kids

Tigers are a great place to start because you can emulate a tiger hunting in the jungle with only a couple of blind folds and an open room.  My kids loved this activity, and we played it several times over the course of a few days.

Learning about cougars

Then look at another big cat, the cougar and learn about how cougars hunt in this unique game.

After you’ve explored big cats, start looking at elephants.  First measure how tall they are in comparison to you.  That can be a great comparison.  Then try to use an elephant trunk.

Studying Elephants

From the elephants head over and check out the marsupials.  Make a kangaroo pouch and how to hop like a kangaroo, then figure out how far does a kangaroo jump as you study these fun animals.

Then look at the ungulates, giraffes, horses, gazelles, and how are ungulates classified.

After the giraffes and sitting still for a minute you might want to move around and try to move like a primate.

A few of the zoos we went to had a small beaver colony, and I have to say these hard working animals are fun to watch, and even more fun to imitate as you build a beaver dam if you have a good supply of pillows and blankets.


We usually will head over to the bears and watch them for a few minutes, one of our favorite zoos was in Arizona called “Bearizona,” and we learned some great bear safety tips and made a fun bear cave craft.

Science Sunday classifying animal teeth

Finally, I’d sum up your zoo animal lesson with a look at animal teeth.  Almost all of the animals at the zoo have teeth, and it’s fun to predict what they eat based off of their teeth.


For all of the posts in this series head on over to Zoology for Kids.

For a great series of posts written by some other awesome homeschooling Moms (including about 3 more series on science) head on over to Summer Hopscotch 2014

Zoology for kids

Zoology is a favorite subject with elementary kids.  They love to watch animals, go to the zoo, act like animals, and will watch endless animal movies.

Or maybe that’s just my kids?  Either way I’m discovering I’ve got dozens of animal and zoology for kids posts.

Zoology for elementary kids

I know summertime is prime zoo visiting time, so I wanted to give you some great follow up activities to your zoo visit.  These are my kids’ favorite hands on animal science activities and some great zoology for kids ideas.

Zoo animal report form

While you’re at the zoo, I’d recommend using either the zoo animal observation sheet or the animal report form.  Both of them are easy ways for young kids to organize their observations at the zoo.


For the next five days I’m going to be sharing different animal types and some fun activities to do with them.

 Each of these Zoology for Kids posts will go live on the day mentioned

Monday: Zoo Animals

Tuesday: Reptiles and Amphibians

Wednesday: Ocean Animals

Thursday: Birds

Friday: Farm Animals

To see over 20 other great series, and at least 4 more series on science check out iHomeschool Network’s Summer Hopscotch 2014

10 Best history Pinterest boards for you to follow

You might have guessed I’m a big fan of history, and I tend to obsessively follow history pinterest boards, and have a few favorites I wanted to share my 10 favorite history boards.

10 best history pinterest boards

Most of the ladies I’m linking to have multiple history pinterest boards, so I’d highly recommend clicking around on their profile after looking at the different boards.

Ancient History Pinterest Boards

This seems to be the most common specialized history pinterest board, so it was very hard to narrow this one down.

ancient history pinterest board

Ancient history pinterest board

Mystery of History 1 board

Mystery of History 3 pinterest board

Rome to Reformation History Pinterest Boards

I can’t wait for this time period next year because we’ll get to learn about Vikings, the end of the Roman empire, Norse mythology, illuminated texts.

Medeival history

Mystery of History 2

Mystery of History 3 pinterest board

Renaissance to Age of Reason History Pinterest Boards

This is a fun time period to study because you start off with the Renaissance, and that’s an interesting period of so much change.

Early Modern times

Story of the World 3

Mystery of history 4 pinterest

I didn’t have a better picture on my laptop. This must be fixed.

Modern History Pinterest Boards

This is an area a lot harder to find pins for because many of the pins will overlap with US history, so boards on this topic tend to be a little lighter in content or are focused on political content.

Mystery of History Volume 4

Modern history board



American History

US History Pinterest Boards

I actually had a fair number of US history pinterest boards to pick from, including some very specific topics, but eventually chose these two because I like their particular takes on the topic.

Homeschool US history board

American Girl doll history




The true cost of hands on homeschooling

I love our style of homeschooling.  I love the hands on lessons, I love our ability to travel.  I love the time I spend with my kids.

But there are costs and downsides to homeschooling.  I know it’s a question I get from time to time.

The true cost of homeschooling

How much does it really cost to homeschool?

I’m going to leave out the opportunity costs, things we can’t do because we homeschool, but focus on the actual cost of what I buy.  I’m sure there are many posts that can tell you about that.

These will be affiliate links when appropriate

TOTAL: $623

As you can see that adds up to a lot of money, and that’s not the random chapter books and art supplies I buy throughout the year.

But, that’s not truly the cost, that’s just market price.  I plan my school years out years in advance.

cut the cost of homeschooling

So when I went to GHC in April I knew what I wanted to buy, and I got the MOH audiobooks for $30, and my science was $22 for the text and $15 for the notebooks.  I buy the Bright Ideas stuff when they’re on sale.  That’s why I let you guys know when they have sales because I know that’s when I want to shop.  I bought the MOH2 textbook over 3 years ago before we completed US history.

So, in reality I probably spent about $500.  But, let’s break it down further.

$400 of that was a one time purchase I will use over multiple years

I’m going to use ALL of the MOH2 materials at least one more time.  I’m going to use Illuminations 2 at least one more time.  And I know I’ll be using the grammar and writing for several more years.  SEVERAL.

I plan to let my kids organize their own science for middle school and review all we covered during elementary, so both of those science books will be used again.

That gets me down to $100 or so of non-resuable stuff just for this year.

Let’s talk art supplies and chapter books now.

I easily spend $200 a year on art supplies, peg dolls, paints, colored pencils, glue, you name it.

You know what?

I’d spend that if the kids were homeschooled or in public school.  I want my kids to have access to those materials.  I’d spend it because I want to use those items.


Books?  Oh don’t get me started on books.  I visited with a college roommate this past week, and her biggest memory of me from college looks like this:

this is the picture she texted me last week

this is the picture she texted me last week saying “This reminds me of you in college.”

So, I don’t really think I’d save ANY money on books if they were in public school.  If our personal library is any indication….

But here’s what I gain because of homeschooling, yes it costs money, but here’s what I can’t buy.

what I gain from homeschooling

The memories, and who they have become because of homeschooling and our parenting choices.

I’m joining today with loads of other brilliant ladies from iHomeschool Network to bring you: How Much does homeschooling cost?  Visit some of them because I’m sure some of them spend WAY more than I do, and some of them spend WAY less than I do.  Or, I’m hoping I’ll read one that does.  It could happen.

How to make a candy spine

Can I just say I got some strange things as I tried searching “candy spine?”

Create a candy spinal cord

Oh, and this was a very popular lesson, something about the crazy sugar high they were on after making AND eating the silly thing.

{This post contains affiliate links.  For more information read my disclosure page}

Supplies for a candy spine

Supplies for edible spinal column

(I bought packages large enough for 4 kids, we didn’t have all that much leftover)

Lifesavers Hard Candy, Five Flavor, 41 Oz (anyone else remember the packs where the lifesavers stuck together?), LifeSavers Gummies, 5 Flavor, 7 Ounce (you might order 2, I got ours at the store), Licorice Strawberry Laces, 16 Oz (we got ours at Lamme’s Candy and had some leftover)

How to make a candy spine

candy spine prep

Very first thing, take a few minutes to get all of those hard lifesavers out of their wrappers.  You will be glad you did this later as you’re wrangling stuff, and it lets you make sure none of the pieces are broken.

candy spine

  1. Weave 2 licorice whips through the first hard lifesaver.  Then take turns layering the hard and gummy lifesavers on the “spinal cord” of your candy spine.
  2. Break some of the licorice whips into smaller pieces and put that between each of the hard and gummy lifesavers.

Take a silly break in your lessons from time to time

Take a break from the “learning” to model your spinal column and be generally silly.  That’s always very important.

Or it is in our house.


Now, let’s talk through why we used each part of this candy spine.


candy spinal column

First we used two licorice whips because our spinal cord is multiple nerve fibers clustered together.  If we could have forced more than 2 through there I would have, but two made it difficult enough.

The hard lifesavers represent our vertebrae, which is to protect our spine and lets us stand upright.  Without them we wouldn’t be able to walk upright, AND we’d probably be paralyzed before we were 5.  All animals with skeletons have a spine of some sort.

Intervertabral discs are necessary so we aren’t in constant pain.  It’s the cartilage between our vertebrae.  Again without these we can’t move because our spine would be in a bunch of painful pieces by the wear and tear of the vertebrae.

The final piece we don’t think about is the large numbers of nerve clusters exiting our spine all along it.  This is the part I added in from other candy spines I’ve seen.  These nerve clusters exit our spine and go out to the rest of our body to communicate.  This is where the nerves come from that go to our hands, our legs, everywhere.

And of course at the end of the lesson you need to

at the end of the lesson you have to eat a candy spine

eat that candy spine.  As disturbing an image as that is, but it was quite popular with the kids, as you can imagine.

Oh, and before I forget:  More nervous system activities and ideas



Science Sunday

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Now link up your SCIENCE posts, new and old, and then visit some of the other posts linked up and say hi. I’m going to be pinning, commenting, FBing or tweeting all of the posts linked up as the week goes by. At the end of the month I’m going to feature the best posts linked up.

Make sure to include a link back to my blog so people can come back from your post to see what others have done.  By linking you are agreeing I can feature your posts in a round up post later (I may use a picture to feature, but will link back).

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