Strewing With Rocks and Gems

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Strewing works!! Strewing is a concept very well known to most unschoolers, as it is a sneaky and strategic way of enticing your kids to look at things that they would not normally choose to look at on their own.

There are some days that I want to be an unschooler, they lead such cool lives. Take for instance AadelJoan and Christina.  Right now, I am too type A, though. Maybe someday…

Strewing positively works. If you make a book look appealing enough, by leaving it out in the open surrounded by various hands-on artifacts, your kids are almost guaranteed to check it out. Read more about the concept from unschoolers themselves…

Rocks-and-Gems

Last week, I set this up in the middle of the floor. We have had these 5 rock, fossil, and gems sets forever, collecting dust on a shelf.

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This is what I strategically laid out:

To say that it was a hit is an understatement. My son spent 2 and 1/2 hours on the floor with the rocks, gems and books.  I already started making a list of more topics that I can strew, especially using all the various DK books that we have.

Have you ever tried strewing?

 


Tracking Natural Disasters and World Politics

Tracking Natural Disasters and World Politics

My son has taken quite a liking to Fox News lately, especially Bill O’Reilly. He cringes and shakes his head at the random people interviewed on Watter’s World and asks us, “Are people really that ignorant about the world around them?” Unfortunately, yes some people are, possibly because they want to live in a small, safe bubble away from the hurt of the world, or because they feel politics has become too confusing to understand. Maybe because they just simply do not care.

Regardless of their reasons, there really is no excuse.

As parents, it is our responsibility to teach our son about the world, politics and all, good and bad. It is also our responsibility to encourage him to form and stick to his own opinions, be fully ready to defend those views, while also respecting the views of others. It is our responsibility to make sure that he understands the importance of not becoming like one of those crazies on Watter’s World.

We have three activities currently going on in our house that are helping our son learn about the world around him. These are helping him see that what happens thousands of miles away CAN have an impact on our family.

  1. Tracking natural disasters around the world.
  2. Tracking the politics and data of countries around the world.
  3. Teaching simple economic concepts.
NATURAL DISASTERS

Science Activity: Tracking Natural Disasters

In the image above is a natural disaster poster from the book DK Eyewitness Books: Natural Disasters. I feel so fortunate to receive a monthly supply of great DK books including this one. Many of their Eyewitness and reference books contain the most beautiful posters and clip art CDs. This book taught my son all about every natural disaster known to man, including potential future disasters.

The other portion of that image is a world map that I created, along with a map key for various natural disasters. Whenever we hear about a natural disaster on the news or online, we use a small sticker to map where the disaster took place. You can download a copy of the map and stickers here. The stickers represent droughts, volcanoes, landslides, wildfires, tsunamis, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, and floods.

Science Activity: Tracking Natural Disasters

WORLD POLITICS

Teaching World Politics: compare and contrast facts and demographics of 25 countries

The other activity that we have been working on is a massive poster board (2 poster boards taped together actually) that compare and contrast the politics and demographics of 25 countries around the world. Along the left side are the 25 countries.

Teaching World Politics: compare and contrast facts and demographics of 25 countries

Along the top are the following categories:

  • GDP
  • Government type
  • Homeschool laws
  • Leader(s)
  • Official language
  • Majority religion
  • Relationship with USA
  • Foreign aid received from USA
  • Population
  • Area in square miles
  • Military size
  • Life expectancy
  • National debt
ECONOMICS

Understanding the evolution of money and economics is one of the keys to fully understanding a government. The way a country’s citizens and leaders feel about the distribution of money sets them up as either capitalist, socialist, communist and so on. Learning the basic concepts of economics is very important for any kid, and any adult for that matter. If you are a Watter’s World fan, you have undoubtedly witnessed dozens upon dozens of clueless Americans who have no concept of economics and believe money grows on trees. Two excellent resources for teaching simple economics are:

Show Me the Money: How to Make Sense of Economics by DK Publishing

  • This book teaches many important concepts including how people invented money and how we went from cows to gold to plastic.
  • Who were men like Karl Marx, Adam Smith, and John Maynard Keynes and why were they important.
  • How money is physically made.
  • The ins and outs of the stock market and ways you can make your money grow over time.
  • Spending, saving and investing tips.
  • What is inflation.

I love the pages on luxury vs necessity. All of this in a book for KIDS. No complicated explanations.

ECO00_dvd_flat_artwork_200x1000Economics for Everybody by Compass Classroom

  • DVD or download
  • 12 lessons, includes videos and study book
  • junior high/high school level

Economics: it’s everywhere, influencing everything — and so rarely understood. Economics for Everybody seeks to remedy that through an insightful and entertaining exploration of the principles, practices, and consequences of economics. Thoroughly unconventional, this church, family, and homeschool economics curriculum links entrepreneurship with lemonade, cartoons with markets, and Charlie Chaplin with supply and demand.

 

 


The Ultimate Doctor Who Party

With the new season of our favorite show, Doctor Who, coming out in just 6 weeks, we are preparing by making sure that everyone who is interested has viewed the 50th anniversary special and the very sad season 7 finale when Doctor 11 regenerated into Doctor 12.  I am such a nerd, so I make sure that these viewing events are spectacular.

We start off with a large spread of Doctor Who themed food.

Doctor Who party food

Front Left

  • 3 Vashta Nerada detection kits, aka lettuce and a chicken drumstick (episode: Silence in the Library)

Glass Platter

  • Bacon (episode: The Eleventh Hour)
  • Lady Cassandra, made from a tortilla (episode: The End of the World)
  • Adipose, made from marshmallows (episode: Partners in Crime)

Green Plate

  • Bread and butter (episode: The Eleventh Hour)

Back Left

Green Tray

  • apples (episode: The Eleventh Hour)
  • celery (as worn by Doctor 5)
  • bananas (episodes: several)

White Tray

  • Fezzes – really Rolos (as worn by Doctor 11)
  • Jelly babies (episodes: several)
  • Nerds
  • Jammie Dodgers (episodes: several)

Red Tray

  • Fish fingers and custard (episode: The Eleventh Hour)

Back Right

  • Beans (episode: The Eleventh Hour)
  • Bowtie pasta (for Doctor 11)
Decorations

I chose not to decorate a lot, but could not resist these two enormous cardboard cut-outs from Oriental Trading.

6' Cyberman and TARDIS from Oriental Trading. Only $35 each.

Oriental Trading sent me these two at no cost. I was not compensated in any way to mention their products, but I definitely want to rave on the quality of these giant cut-outs.  They have a variety of these for only $35 each and they are SO easy to put together.

They arrive in a thick, flat cardboard box, folded into several pieces like below.

Cyberman-cutout

TARDIS-cutout

You simply punch out the shape and throw away the excess cardboard from around the edges.  Both the Cyberman and TARDIS have stands that hold them up securely. There are several interlocking pieces that you just fold down and hook together. Below is a close up of the back of the TARDIS and its stand.

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The Cyberman is SO realistic and my son has taken to moving it around the house to try to scare me.

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DIY Doctor Who t-shirts

Everyone gets a t-shirt. Here are 3 of the some of the choices I offer. The sonic screwdriver stencil came from Doodle Craft. The other two I put together myself.

All of the rest of the items I made to put into a gift bag to send home with the guests. I love making special gift bags for my son and his friends. Like this Minecraft gift bag.

Doctor Who Companion Survival Kit

Above: the companion survival kit. Everything fit nicely into a small pencil case from Dollar Tree.

Doctor Who Companion Survival Kit

Above: all of the items spread out.

  • salt
  • pepper
  • 3 types of sugar
  • a 5-pound British note (fake of course)
  • 3 types of tea – Earl Gray, English Breakfast, and English Teatime
  • first aid supplies – burn cream, band-aid, sting relief pad, antiseptic wipe
  • cough drop
  • chapstick
  • jacks and marbles (you never know when you’ll need toys!)
  • map of England
  • map of the TARDIS
  • mini blue sharpie
  • nail file
  • screw
  • safety pin
  • nail clippers
  • pain reliever
  • a small jar of gold flakes (Cybermen hate gold)

Doctor Who | River Song DIY tiny diary

These tiny journals are only 3/$1 at the dollar store.  I shrunk down this image from the BBC before printed and then glued it over the cover.

Doctor Who Chocolate

TARDIS and Dalek chocolate, placed into a cellophane bag that reminded me of the circles on the inside TARDIS walls.

Doctor Who Candy

More candy of course!! Jelly babies, gummy bears, and Smarties.

DIY No-Sew Doctor Who bow tie

I absolutely cannot sew. I made these bow ties with a red handkerchief and a hot glue gun. For real! You can make 8 from one handkerchief.

Doctor Who cup and bowl set

Matching cup and bowl set. There are 3 different vinyl images on each cup.

Plaster Doctor Who figures

TARDIS and Dalek figures made from plaster.  You could pre-paint them for your guests or leave them out for the guests to paint themselves. That white TARDIS above is actually painted with glow-in-the-dark paint.

Doctor Who gift bag

Final bag. Guest’s name in Galligreyan printed on the front, TARDIS on the back

Thank you again to Oriental Trading for the free product and for helping to make my party even more fantastic.


DIY Doctor Who Pajamas

DIY Doctor Who TARDIS pajamas

Last winter my son saw a pair of Doctor Who pajamas on one of his favorite websites. They were $50. I am not a very frugal person, but even I would never spend $50 for a pair of pajamas. Especially for a kid who seems to grown an inch every single day.

Besides, I am kind of obsessed with figuring out how I can DIY almost everything. I used to never believe people when they said that DIY-ing is the greatest hobby.

My son was laughing in the photo above because he said, “Mom, are you going to put this on the Internet?” I said, “Be proud of your immense geekiness my son.”

These pajamas are very soft and durable. They even came with socks and – hold back your laughter – a zippable butt flap! Search for Forever Lazy Soft Fleece Lounge Wear on Ebay and you’ll find a ton for sale, new in the box. At the time I paid only $12, but I see some now as low as $8!

I used my Silhouette Cameo to cut out the TARDIS light for the hood, 12 small rectangles for the windows, and one large rectangle for the sign. I used plain white heat transfer vinyl. I had to be very careful when ironing the material onto the fleece because too much heat can cause fleece to melt.

Next, I used the Cameo to cut out all of the letters in black heat transfer and I ironed those right on top of the large white rectangle.


My DIY Doctor Who and Hobbit Aprons

I love to be in the kitchen and am a big fan of aprons. They come in so handy when you are creating a delicious but messy masterpiece.  Not to mention, us ladies look so cute in aprons! Try one on for yourself and see how feminine, pretty and dainty you feel.

Hobby Lobby sells aprons for $4.99 (plain) and $8.99 (has ruffles.) Don’t forget your 40%-one-item coupon every time you visit Hobby Lobby! Of course, I had to make a Doctor Who apron and a Hobbit apron.

DIY Apron: the Hobbit Diet | breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses, luncheon, afternoon tea, dinner, supper

This is the Hobbit diet. Or pretty much the diet of all tween and teen boys. “What about second breakfast?”



DIY Apron: the Hobbit Diet | breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses, luncheon, afternoon tea, dinner, supper

For the Hobbit apron, I used my Silhouette Cameo to cut out the famous words in heat transfer vinyl.  This is what heat transfer vinyl looks like as you are pulling away the excess material.

DIY Apron: the Hobbit Diet | breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses, luncheon, afternoon tea, dinner, supper

I have found that the easiest and fastest way to iron the material onto the fabric is to crank up your iron as high as it will go, iron your material lightly so it is warm, place your heat transfer words on the material – plastic side up of course, place a very thin piece of shipping paper, also known as mailing paper or packing paper over the plastic, and press down hard with your iron for 10 seconds. The heat transfer vinyl that I buy only needs 10 seconds. Then peel off the plastic slowly, place the shipping paper back over the words and iron again.

DIY Apron: the Hobbit Diet | breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses, luncheon, afternoon tea, dinner, supper
Now onto the Doctor Who apron…

DIY Doctor Who Apron

I used my Silhouette Cameo to cut out shapes in adhesive vinyl. The 5 foods are an apple, a banana, a stalk of celery, a slice of bread, and a cup of custard with 2 fish sticks sticking out. Doctor Who fans will know the significance of these foods. Fish fingers and custard can be explained in this absolutely hilarious clip. If you’re not a Doctor Who fan, there is a strong chance you will be after watching this clip. This was Doctor #11′s very first scene.

Yes, we actually have eaten fish fingers and custard (fish sticks and pudding here in America.) It is really not that bad.  Anyway, back to the apron.

DIY Doctor Who Apron

I used fabric paint to fill in all the shapes and words. I let it dry overnight and woke up in the morning to find several characters admiring my work.

DIY Doctor Who Apron


Unique Approach to Science

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Currently, we are in the middle of two series: we are done with all the volumes in Apologia’s creation science series by Jeannie Fulbright for elementary students and we are soon to begin their creation science series by Dr. Jay Wile for junior-high and high school students.

In the meantime, this is what we are doing…

…creating our own massive science notebook from an equally massive 400-page book from DK Publishing called Timelines of Science.

There is so much to show from this book! Because I ended up taking so many photos of this book, I made a slideshow of the images.


I know I rave on DK books a lot, but I love sharing good resources with my readers. When DK sends me a book that I fall in love with, I want to show it off to the world. This book is very colorful and VERY eye-appealing. Full of stunning photos of artwork, artifacts, and inventions. There is a timeline at the bottom of almost every page.

If you placed each timeline section end-to-end you would have a timeline that stretched over 275 feet!

Since this book is a very fast-paced, encyclopedia-like book, we use it as a jumping off point. This is where our science notebook comes in. For this notebook, we have been using the web-app from NotebookingPages.com. (We have a lifetime membership to NotebookingPages. In case a “lifetime membership” sounds expensive, it is not. You can choose to pay $99.95 all at once or break it into 4 payments.)

This app lets you create customized notebooking or copywork pages. All you need to do is choose a template from the 100′s offered, upload an image and add any text that you would like. Below is a screenshot to our Ptolemy notebooking page to go along with the mention of Ptolemy in Timelines of Science.

ptolemy

Below is a screenshot of the Notebooking Publisher web-app and our New Horizons notebooking page. It literally took me less than 3 minutes to make each of these pages.

New Horizons

As my son comes across events, people or inventions from Timelines of Science, or other science books, we create a quick notebooking page, jot down some notes and add it to our binder. Your child can even type their notes directly into the Notebooking Publisher before printing the page.

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