Posts Tagged With: family

Family “Quote of the Week” Rocks!

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…” ~ Dr. Seuss, Oh The Places You’ll Go!

Here’s a great family activity for sharing around the dinner table. Every Sunday we choose a quote-of-the-week to share throughout the week, and it is really fun!

I originally got the idea from the Mensa website and printed their page of quotes from the teacher resources. We have used some of their ideas, but also have found many on our own. We each participate by coming up with quotes, and some of our family send favorites to us as well. It is such a simple idea, but so fruitful in its results. Some very interesting conversations have arisen from these quotes! Friends, internet searches of famous quotes, and books are wonderful resources for finding appropriate material to draw from.

We write our weekly quote onto a 3×5 recipe card and keep it on our table. We seem to end up talking about these quotes, and learning things about some of the people who said them. Sometimes we write questions or little bits of information on the backs of the cards, as well as the date. This is a very enriching, ongoing, free activity for almost any age. I think teenagers would like it as well as little ones and adults. And, for those who feel that really little kids wouldn’t benefit from this activity, I strongly disagree! It is not important for kids to understand exactly what every intelligent quote means. Just being a part of family discussion and interaction is incredibly stimulating!

We started Family QOTW back in September and it is still rolling strong in our household. Here are some examples from the past months:

“Do what you feel in your heart to be right- for you’ll be criticized anyway.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt

“Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid.” ~Basil King

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” ~Oscar Wilde

“A life spent making mistakes is not only honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing” ~George Bernard Shaw (thanks for that one Grandma!)

“It’s not whether you get knocked down; it’s whether you get up.” ~Vince Lombardi

As Captain has suggested, it will be fun to look back at this collection of quotes one day. I agree! Thanks for reading and good thoughts to all.

Carpe Diem! Karen

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Categories: Family fun, Homeschooling Projects, Language Arts Rock For Kids! | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Make A Ming-Inspired Bowl!

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These sweet bowls would make lovely Christmas gifts for family & friends!

We’ve been studying the beginnings of Ancient China and highly recommend this straight-up fun project for all ages. If needed, parents can help younger kids in between making a Ming bowl for themselves!

You’ll Need: A large ball of air-dry clay (I have some of the Crayola brand, and it works great, and is affordable at about $5 for a tub), plastic wrap, a small round bowl, a rolling pin, a sculpting tool or blunt knife, acrylic paints, a clear acrylic sealing spray, or a mixture of glue and water, to glaze the finished piece.

1. Wrap the outside of your bowl in plastic wrap.  I recommend using a smaller “condiment” sized bowl for the first one.

2. Roll out your ball of clay to no less than 1/4″ thickness, making sure it is big enough to cover the outside of the bowl. Press it tightly around the bowl, then use your tools to trim away any excess. Be sure not to make the air-dry clay too thin or the bowl will crack when it dries (we did this and then used the pieces as “archaeology pottery” 🙂 )

3. Place the bowl on a piece of newspaper and allow to dry in an airy place. Don’t put it in the direct sun or it can dry out too fast and crack. It should be dry by the next morning.

4. Remove the dried bowl from the form and paint! Ancient Chinese pottery was usually decorated with pictures of birds, flowers, and outdoor scenes, painted in whites and blues. Captain painted hers with cobalt blue, let it dry, then painted flowers and bird shapes in moon yellow. She was a little bummed that her birds didn’t come out the way she wanted, but they are fabulous! She even added a little tiny “M” for “mom” in the center of one of her flowers… ahhh!

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5. After the piece is completely dry, a fine sharpie can be used to write a name, or initials, and date on the bottom. What a sweet keepsake!

6. Spray with clear acrylic sealer (adults only), or you can glaze it with a mixture of 2 parts white glue to 1 part water. These both will give it a shiny glaze coating, which we love. Or, you can leave it as is.

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Before and after I sprayed the acrylic seal on

Fun, simple and a little “M” to boot. I love it!  I hope you and/or your kids will give this a try. Check out Google images to share some traditional Ming bowls and pottery with your kids. Captain has been inspired to try making another one that looks like this:

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A gorgeous flower bowl from the 1300’s

We got the idea for this project out of The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child, Ancient Times. We thank you kindly!

Cheers, Karen

Categories: Art Rocks For Kids!, Family fun, Homeschooling Projects, Social Science Rocks For Kids! | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Make a Lung Model out of a Plastic Bottle, Straws & Balloons!

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It’s funny how this thing has become a toy to her. This morning she was in her room explaining the respiratory system to Scooby Doo and the Gang!


It’s anatomy time, and the human body unit is in full swing at The Cabin. In learning about the respiratory system, we created a simple lung model that has been a hit in our household. I doubt Captain will ever forget how this system works!

You’ll Need: A plastic 2 liter bottle cut in half, two straws, two balloons, masking tape (or black electrical tape as that is what we had around and it worked great!) a rubber band and a piece of plastic bag.

* As you are creating this model with your kids, be sure to use the proper terminology. Explain that you’ll be making a model of the lungs to show how the respiratory system works. Let them know that the plastic bottle represents the rib cage, the straws represent the trachea/bronchi, the balloons represent the lungs and the plastic bag represents the diaphragm. While assembling, use only the anatomical names! For example: “Can you hold the ribcage while I slide the trachea and lungs in?”

Step 1: Put a straw down into a balloon, almost to the bottom. Securely tape the top of the balloon to the straw so that it is air tight. Go around with the tape a few times to be sure it is sealed. Do the same to the second balloon and then secure the two straws together with more tape.

Step 2: Put the straws down into the bottle top and tape around and around the rest of the bottle-opening to be sure that it is air-tight. If air gets in, the model won’t work.

Step 3: Place the bottle onto a piece of plastic bag and use a rubber band to secure it tight to the bottom. Trim off the excess bag, if needed.

Step 4: It is helpful to tape a little piece of paper, or a string, to the bottom of the diaphragm to pull it up and down.

That’s it! Now the child can pull the diaphragm up and down and see the lungs expand and contract! In the human body, the trachea goes down and splits into the two bronchial tubes that go into the lungs. We weren’t able to show this extra step in our model, but we looked at pictures and learned how it works. Here is a good explanation to share with your kids, if you don’t have other learning materials handy:

“Your body needs air to live! Air is a mixture of many things, but the oxygen in air is what your body needs most. Oxygen is a gas that your body combines with the food you have eaten to make energy. When you inhale, or breathe in, air goes in your nose or mouth, down a cool tube called a trachea and into your 2 lungs. Your lungs are big bags made of a bunch of tiny bags that fill with air.Oxygen from the air goes into the blood and carbon dioxide, a waste your body makes, comes from your blood and goes into the air sacs. When you breathe out, the carbon dioxide leaves your body. Ya-hoo!”

You take about 20,000 breaths a day and sneeze at about 100 miles per hour! Lungs weigh about 1 pound each and adult lungs are each about the size of a football! Your right lung has 3 regions, or lobes, while your left lung has two lobes and each lobe has its own blood supply. That way, if one part is damaged, the other 4 keep working! How cool is that?

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One more note: It is very beneficial to have kids draw a picture of what they learned, coloring the balloons, straws, etc. Help them label the simple parts.

The human body is amazing! Happy breathing into all of those lovely lobes!

Cheers, Karen

Categories: Homeschooling Projects, Science Rocks For Kids! | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Bringing Circle Time to the Homeschool

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I can’t believe we waited so long to do this!

Have you ever tried starting your day with circle-time? I am astounded by what has developed into a much-needed routine for my daughter and I. I always thought of “circle-time” as being something a lot of kids would do together: sitting on the floor, talking about feelings, or hearing a story. Honestly, I thought we would need, well, more people, to do one of our own. I was wrong. Our homeschool mainly consists of my daughter and I, working through projects, learning new things together, and attending wonderful enrichment classes twice each week at a lovely charter school. I was inspired to implement circle time into our routine when my friend told me about how the kids start their day at an outdoor-based enrichment program in Atascadero, CA. Wham! I realized with a powerful instinct that we needed to try this too. Thank you dear Annabell!

Last week I asked Captain if she would like to come with me to find a place to sit outside, under a tree, for circle time before we started our busy day. She grabbed my hand and said “let’s go!” We sat down and shared things that we are grateful for. It is wonderful. Not only do we talk about the good things in our lives, we are remembering to give thanks for the simple things, and that is priceless! We tell stories to each other, and it is a time for her to feel safe about addressing things with me, or talking about things that might be bothering her. For example, I found out that she would really rather do math earlier in the day, and that she doesn’t like for me to comment on her paintings until she is completely finished with a session. She expressed her concern for wild horses, and her gratefulness that kids can be adopted by new parents if the parents are unable to care for them. Wow. She wanted to hear detailed stories of her birth, about the time when the puppies were born, and tell me all about how amazing ants are. I find that after we are finished, we are both ready for our day. She is calmer and more receptive to some of the things she needs to do that aren’t her favorites. I love how it has changed the start of our days!!!!

Remembering to be thankful, expressing feelings, and getting some body-earthing in at the same time is a beautiful thing. If you homeschool, or not, do you have circle-time as a part of your morning routine? Would you be willing to give it a go? Does it seem silly or unimportant? I welcome you to write in, please! I would love to keep an open discussion going and hear any thoughts or ideas.

Luscious round thoughts to all!

Karen

Categories: Family fun, Homeschooling Projects, Positive Parenting, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

DIY: Make a Rockin’ Backyard Tipi For Kids!

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Captain, or “Princess Akeezia” as she calls herself, may never stop playing in her $3 backyard tipi! 

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What you need:  5 or 6 heavy bamboo stakes (6 to 8 foot length), a heavy-duty rubber band, and something to cover the tipi (piece of fabric, burlap, or a sheet)

I cannot recommend tipi-making enough!  What a fun and inexpensive way to provide your child with endless hours of entertainment and play (not to mention being a hero for it!). We bought our 6′ heavy bamboo stakes at an orchard supply store for less than 50 cents apiece. We will be going back for some 8 foot pieces as well!  Simply gather them and secure at one end with a heavy-duty rubber band and, voila!, you’ve got the frame.  Wrap it in fabric (we used a brown sheet, but wouldn’t a piece of fabric that could be painted be fun?!) and that’s pretty much it. We set the tipi up inside and then promptly took it outside for obvious reasons. The bamboo stakes are weather-proof, and a tipi can easily be constructed and left outside all summer. They don’t take up much room, and can transform even a small space into a wonderful imaginative world.

** Note:  I tried to find the bamboo stakes at the local home stores but couldn’t find them long enough.  You may have to call around to orchard, or farm supply stores to find big enough stakes.

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Secure with rubber band

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Dad wrapping the outside of the shelter.  The tipi is STURDY!

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Princess Akeezia

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Trying to knock the tipi down but realizing it is quite sturdy 🙂

We would love to hear about family tipi-building here at Kartwheels!  We hope your summer is a beautiful one, and three cheers for all of the kids out there; their imaginations, their beautiful hearts and minds, and their need for FUN..

Cheers!  Karen

Categories: Family fun, Homeschooling Projects, Social Science Rocks For Kids! | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Make Summer “Camp” Lanterns From Recycled Cans!

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Sweet little lanterns make the table look so festive!

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You’ll Need:

Recycled tin cans, hammer & nails of various sizes, wire for handles, battery operated tea lights or tea candles (supervised), freezer or boards and clamps (explained below)

This project is so simple and fun… perfect for lighting up warm summer nights, or dressing the dinner table. They also make a sweet gift for loved ones!

Captain and I camped with a group of homeschoolers from HSC last month in Mono Hot Springs, CA. What an incredible place, and the people were wonderful! One of the moms, the eco-crafty Mary Ann, brought all the fixens’ to create tin can lanterns, and a great time was had by all who made one. Mary Ann said that she saw online that these can easily be made at home by placing a recycled tin can, filled with water, into the freezer. The block of ice inside the can helps prevent it from getting dented when hammering the holes in. I would highly recommend using the freezer method if you can. If you decide to try this project while camping, Mary Ann came up with a great idea to replace the ice. She brought boards and some clamps to secure it to a picnic table. As you can see in the photos below, a piece of wood that will fit inside the cans extends out far enough that the can will slip on. This provides support inside the can so that it won’t dent while hammering the holes.

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You can use a permanent marker to make a design on the can, or just go free-form.  When you have your design in mind (think constellations, hearts, names, or random patterns!) use the various sized nails and hammer to pound holes into the can. Hold the nail in place and give it a tap to “seat” it, and then give it about two more solid pounds and you’ve got a hole!  Using large nails and small nails give the lantern a really nice look! Add two holes at the top of the cans, on opposite sides, for your handle.  Handles can easily be made by snipping about a 6″ piece of wire and crimping it on. Kids can write their names and the date on the bottom of their can and they have a lovely summer keepsake for their rooms!

** A note about hammers, nails, and kids!  I helped about 6 different kids with their lanterns, as hammering is hard work and they could only do a few holes before getting tired. The kids were in the 5-8 age range, and although a couple of them did whack their finger once or twice, they never complained or gave up. I told them how to seat the nail with a tap, and if they were a little afraid of hitting the nail with the hammer, I just encouraged them to try, looking only at the head of the nail when they swung the hammer.  It’s like the idea of “keeping your eye on the ball”- it works! The kids felt empowered and special to be hammering tin cans and doing it for themselves. So, don’t be afraid to let them go for it, just remind them to watch the nail head and they’ve got it!

*We used both tea light candles, and little battery-operated tea lights for our lanterns.  I highly recommend the battery ones for fire safety.

Captain LOVES her lantern and was so proud to bring it home to show dad her memento of a very special camping trip. I made one too, and it reminded me that I had done this project on a Girl Scouts camping trip when I was a kid! What fun! I hope you decide to make these with your kids.

As summer rocks on, I wish you many good thoughts, glowing like little lights around the campfire!

Karen

Categories: Art Rocks For Kids!, Family fun, Homeschooling Projects | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Learn About The Night Sky With Constellation Collector Cards and Astronomy Fast Facts!

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Simple, bejeweled constellations on rounds of cardstock add a tactile (and glittering!) experience for learning new things about the night sky!  Add a few reference facts on the back of each card and you may just be answering questions about the mythical story of Andromeda at the dinner table…

Greetings star lovers! Captain has been interested in the solar system, stars and constellations lately, and this project really goes nicely with the process. Stars really do twinkle up there in the sky, and why not have a little fun with some simple supplies to stimulate the imagination?

I got the idea to make constellation “rounds” from designer, and artist, Dina Edens of Country Eden. In her version, the stars of the constellations are made by using a hole-puncher, which means you can hold them up to any light and behold the lovely shapes of the pictures in the sky. Click here to see Dena’s cool astronomy punch-hole cards for kids.

To make our version you will need:

Cardstock in blue or black (we used a heavy “textured” cardstock and they came out nice and sturdy)

A glass, pencil, scissors, hole-puncher, ruler, fine black sharpie, book of constellations (pictures and facts) or internet, and adhesive jewels (*see photo below of the Recollections brand adhesive jewel pack that we purchased from Michael’s Crafts for $6.95.  It has a nice assortment of sizes, and plenty of leftovers for other projects)

A “toilet chain” key chain, string, or a thin, old bracelet (which is what we had on hand to use 🙂 )

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Trace the glass onto the cardstock and cut out your rounds. This is an ongoing project for us, as it is fun and relaxing to make a few at a time and talk about them for a while. Using photos or drawings, draw the stars onto the cards and use a ruler to add the lines.  Older kids can do this part themselves. For the littles, a parent, or other helper, can draw the constellations for them. Do this all in pencil so that you can erase a bit to get them as accurate as possible.

Go over your lines and star “dots” with the black sharpie and write the name of the constellation and stars onto the card.

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Help your child choose sizes and apply the jewels to represent the real stars. On the backs of the cards, write a little bit about the particular constellation. There are so many things to learn!

Here are a few fast facts about stars and constellations to share with your little astronomer!

1. Stars are gaseous spheres that appear close to each other, but they can really be millions of miles from each other!

2. Some star formations appear to form the outlines of figures, and observers throughout history have given these shapes the name “constellation”.

3. Constellations are usually named after mythological characters, people, animals and objects. In different parts of the world, people have made up different shapes out of the same groups of bright stars. It’s kind of like connecting the dots!

4. In the past, these “pictures” in the night sky helped people navigate and keep track of the seasons.

5. Stars are composed mostly of gas and plasma, a super heated state of matter made up of subatomic particles. Cool!

6. Our planet’s sun is a star.

7. Why do stars appear to be different colors? Because their temperatures are not all the same. Hot stars shine white or blue, cooler stars appear to have orange or red hues.

8. Stars occur in many sizes, which are classified in a range from dwarfs to supergiants!

9. The constellation Andromeda is named after a mythical princess who was chained to a rock as an offering to a sea monster called Cetus. The star Alpheratz marks her head, and with binoculars, you can see lines of stars marking her chained, outstretched arms. The constellation also holds the Andromeda Galaxy. At 2.5 million light years away, it is the farthest object visible to the naked eye. The name Andromeda means “The Chained Princess”!

10. How many stars are out there?

According to astronomers, there are probably more than 170 billion galaxies in the observable Universe, stretching out into a region of space 13.8 billion light-years away from us in all directions. And so, if you multiply the number of stars in our galaxy by the number of galaxies in the Universe, you get approximately 1024 stars. That’s a 1 followed by twenty-four zeros. That’s a septillion stars!

But there could be way more than that, and isn’t that delicious to think about?

Cosmic Cheers to all,

Karen

Categories: Homeschooling Projects, Science Rocks For Kids! | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Visit a Street-Artist!

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Who wouldn’t love to capture themselves in cartoon? I want to share an inexpensive, and really fun, idea for a wonderful memento of a city visit. If you live in a big city, or have plans to go with your kids, perhaps you’ll try a visit to a street artist!

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Captain and I had a wonderful time last year in the great city of San Francisco! We were lucky enough to go with Captain’s two Grandmas (the “Grandma Patrol”) and we stayed in a lovely hotel and got to experience many wonderful sights. One thing we did was to stop at the stand of a street artist, who sketched our portrait, capturing us in all of our pink-cheeked, freckled wonder. The experience itself is delightful, especially for us mountain-dwellers, for we sat surrounded by the powerful smells of coffee, flowers, baked goods, and salty ocean air, mixed with the exhaust of passing busses and cars, all topped with a slight whiff of urine. There were people everywhere, going by with intense briefcases, baskets of apples, rolls of paper, and flowers in their hair. There was a single man’s black leather shoe in a bush, as though placed there as a little sculpture of imagination. I still think about that perfect shoe in that exquisite bush. Fantastic!!

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We only paid $20 (including a tip!) for the sketch & matte frame, and the experience itself was priceless. Even though we live in a remote forest-cabin and relish the excitement and energy of city visits, I think that someone who lives in a place large enough to support street artists would enjoy doing this with their kids. If I could, I would do this one time each year, just to see the little cartoon face of my daughter change with age, the seasons and the particular artist who sketched for us. Our artist was a wonderful man, who told us all about his life and artwork. Doing street-sketches is how he earns money to live and to pursue his true artistic endeavors. He was quiet and reserved at first, but when I asked a few questions, without prying, we ended up sharing all kinds of interesting things about our lives and travel. Oh how I love people!!!

IMG_0691So if you get the chance, go out and support your local artists, in whatever form they choose to express themselves, earn income, and make memories for our families. I would like to wish our artist, who would rather his name not be mentioned, good travels and let him know that a couple of pine trees are waving to him from the Sequoias!

Cheers, Karen

Categories: Art Rocks For Kids!, Family fun, Homeschooling Projects | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

DIY: Mom & Me Journal!

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In the photo, Captain and I are BOTH inside my shirt..

Here is our version of the “Mom & Me” journal!  Basically, it is a composition notebook with a label on the front for you and your child to write notes, letters, share pictures, etc. I made this one morning, wrote a note inside inviting Captain to share notes with me, anytime we feel like it, and left it on her bed. She was thrilled and sat in bed for a long time with a pencil, drawing pictures and writing notes. We have had it for about 6 months already and both love it. Sometimes we forget about it and a lot of time passes before one of us adds something to it, and that is just perfect. There is no pressure to do anything but tell each other little things…  She has written notes to ask me to make her favorite dinner, which I love! There are so many “I love you’s” and pictures of our dogs. It is also surprising how some honest, hard to talk about, things can come up. There is something safe for kids to be able to write down some feelings and ideas that they have a hard time saying in person. They KNOW their mom (or Dad) will see it, but don’t have to talk about it, just yet.

I think this notebook idea could be adapted to boys simply by changing the colors and making it suit their personality more. It would be really easy to make a “Dad & Me” notebook as well! Because it is a solid book, clearly marked, it doesn’t get lost in all of the other paper and notes that seem to fly around our cabin!  I am especially looking forward to reading it again one day when Captain is all grown up. What a wonderful keepsake! I got the idea from Mama Jenn on her blog, and she got the idea from another, who got the idea from another…

I do hope you try this.  It is fun and pretty special.

Here’s to good memories (and notes that state that a certain someone would rather NOT clean up her room, complete with little, drawn, grumpy faces… love it!)

Cheers, Karen

Categories: Family fun, Homeschooling Projects, Positive Parenting | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

A Great Day to Hug a Rock!

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Good thoughts for a beautiful weekend to all!

Categories: Homeschooling Projects | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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