Teaching Environmental Responsiblity with “Green” Kid Books

Teaching my children to be good environmental stewards is very important to me. I’m always on the prowl for cute books and teaching ideas since a big part of our learning process is simply reading. Here are some wonderful resources I use to teach my kids environmental responsibility.

1. The Lorax (Classic Seuss) My ALL TIME favorite book teaching kids to conserve resources and take care of animals. My kids love this book and ask me to read it almost every day. Dr. Seuss has a really cool Lorax project here rife with fun activities, information, and free downloads. Seussville also has a lot of great educational resources.


2.. The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest – Another fabulous book with beautiful pictures that shows how many animals are affected when one tree is cut down in the Amazon Rail Forest. Homeschool Share has compiled a list of different activities for teaching about the animals of the rain forest and the countries of South America. From the San Diego County Office of Education, this website has fun interactive activities to study South America, climate, mapping, and practice writing.


3. Compost Stew. Did you know you can compost dryer lint? I didn’t until I read this cute book about composting! I love this “cookbook” take on learning the alphabet! It’s very unique and refreshing. The author, Mary McKenna Siddals, has a website with lots of fun composting ideas!


4. The Berenstain Bears Don’t Pollute (Anymore). I love this book because it takes on a reformist tone. It talks about some harmful activities people do and shows how to make small changes to help the Earth! My kids love the all Berenstain Bears Book and this one in particular. If you’re looking for ideas to each your kids about air pollution and chemicals, this website has a nice compilation of activities.


5. Heroes of the Environment: True Stories of People Who Are Helping to Protect Our Planet – Finally, if you’re looking for good information for a more advanced reader, this is an excellent book! It tells stories of every day people making big changes in their own communities and encourages kids to find their own ways to make positive environmental impacts!

How do you teach your kids to be good environmental stewards? Do you have favorite books? I’d love to hear!


Jiggly Jello Paint!

I like to shop at Walgreens where I find quite often that I need cheap fillers to make my total come out right or to get up to the required number of items so I can use previously earned Register Rewards. Often, jello (on sale for 20 cents a box) is the cheapest thing they have.

We don’t eat it because it has a lot of artificial dyes as well as aspartame, so in the past I have added it to our Donate box to give to the local food pantry.

This week I bought 5 boxes for $1 so I could use 5 Register Rewards I had . When my oldest daughter saw them, she said, “Let’s make paint!”


Genius, I thought! So that’s what we did. It was super easy.

To make your own paint out of jello, simply add 2 tbs of hot water to one box of jello. Let it cool a couple minutes, then use it as finger paint on wax paper.

Or, if you don’t want to end up with stained fingers, you can use spoons.

The paint is jiggly and fun! At first the kids wanted to eat it. But, after we talked about why they couldn’t, they didn’t. Of course, I stayed nearby to keep an eye on them.

My 5 year old son is the family artist. He can craft about anything. His jello monster was super cute! And I love the determined expression on his face while he works.

Do you have creative uses for things you wouldn’t otherwise use? I’d love to hear! While you’re here, hop on over to this post and enter my giveaway for a Frito-Lay gift pack!

This post is shared at Frugal Tuesday and Thrifty Crafty Girl. Hop on over to those blogs for more great tips!.

Weekly Goals 8/1

Last week’s post with my weekly goals actually helped keep me on track! So I’m doing it again.

Here were my goals last week:

  1. Grade my online class
  2. Marinate and freeze chicken
  3. Bake 10 loaves of bread
  4. Blog about moving our barn
  5. Clean and purge one kid bedroom
  6. Work on our business books
  7. Celebrate 14 years of marriage with my hubby
  8. Purge plastic kitchen containers
  9. Clean 2 drawers in my kitchen
  10. Weed & plant new seeds in my garden. I have officially LOST the war with the cucumber beetles. I


Menards Trip 7/23

My 7 year old daughter and I snuck out of the house this morning for a little retail therapy before everyone was awake! Our first stop was Menards because they have their Glad storage bags on sale as well as other things in a Back-to-School Sale that lasts through 7/31. Here’s what we bought:

The enormous boxes of Glad bags were $7.99 with a $3 mail-in-rebate. I got the maximum allowed – 3 boxes. They also have a ton of cheap school supplies. I try to stock up for the entire year during the Back-to-School sales because the prices can’t be beat. I got plain pencils, mechanical pencils, colored pencils, erasers, dry erase markers (I also stock up on supplies for our Home Remodeling company during these sales) and a couple of Traper-Keeper type thingamagigs. I’m also hunting for the perfect organization system. If you know of a good one, please let me know! 😉

I spent just over $70 in Menards Rebate money – but nothing out of pocket. I should get around $30 back in Rebate money to keep rolling. In additon to the school supplies and bags, I also got a gallon of vinegar, a huge back of cat food, and some more seeds for my garden.

The price for the Glad bags is really good and it’s sweet corn time in Eastern Iowa right now. The 3 inches of rain we’ve gotten over the last few days will really help finish off the corn. I need the quart sized bags to freeze corn!

If you live near a Menards and want to take advantage of their Back-to-School sale, I’d suggest getting there soon. They were already out of the glue sticks (which I wanted to buy) and running low on other supplies. I asked a stocker that the sale is limited to stock-on-hand.

If you curious how Menards Rebates work, read my Menards 101 post here.


Cheap Office Supplies

Have you noticed all the cheap school and office supplies stores are advertising right now? Back to School time is a great time of the year to stock up on school supplies and office supplies.

Saving money is obviously very important to me. As self-employed business professionals, I have to buy all of our own office supplies. Keeping costs down is very important – it directly impacts our bottom line!

This week, Staples has pretty cheap copy paper after their rebate- $9.99 for a 10 ream case. Our office ran out of paper two weeks ago and I had to pick up one ream at Walmart to tide us over. At right at $3, it was the cheapest they had.

Yesterday, I picked up two boxes of cheap paper at Staples. I had to pay $75 out of pocket, but I’ll get most of that back in the form of Staples Rewards. Staples always has some sort of promotion going on. I’ve found it’s pretty easy to roll my Staples money into other useful office/school supplies to keep costs down. Around Christmas they have free batteries, and I’ve gotten free bankers boxes, envelopes, backpacks, all sorts of useful stuff.

But estimating how much we’ll need until the next big sale is important! And that’s tough, as I found out a couple weeks ago when I had to pay $3 for a ream of paper.

Do you buy office supplies? How do you make sure you get a good deal? This post is linked with Life as Mom and


Eat Mor Chikin! Mooooooooooooo! :-)

Once a year it’s Cow Appreciation Day at Chick-Fil-A – dress like a cow and get a free meal! I’ve known about it for the last couple of years but for one reason or another, it just hasn’t worked for us to get there. This year we made it!

My kids spent hours yesterday making their cow costumes. It was super easy since Chick-Fil-A’s own website has a print and use cow costume! We all got in on it, even my husband! In all, 7 of us (we took along a neighbor girl) got completely free meals this afternoon. The kids even got to spin a wheel and they won coupons for 4 free 8-piece chicken nuggets! If you read my blog, you know how much I LOVE coupons… :-)

And, the staff thought we were so cute, they took our picture and gave the kids all a little stuffed cow. It was a lot of fun, even though it was initially a little embarrassing to walk in the restaurant dressed like a cow. We were by far the biggest herd there. At one point my husband remarked, “Where we the only people to get the memo?” He was such a good sport, though! It was fun being a YES Mom instead of a NO Mom.

Here are some pictures from our day:

Did you get your chicken today? If not, maybe you’ll do it next year! I’m pretty sure we’ll do it again, if it works out for us! Really, it was a lot of fun… :-)

Well or Good

Well or Good?

It’s time for a 5 Minute Grammar Lesson! Today’s topic is WELL and GOOD. Do you know when to use them correctly? :-)

Here’s a standard question:

How are you?

And here are two answers:
A. I am well.
B. I am good.

Which one do you think is correct?

A sounds more formal, doesn’t it? And some people insist that it is the proper answer, but they are generally WRONG. Usually the correct response to the question How are you, is B: I am good. (The exception is if you ask the question to someone who has recovered from an illness. In that case, A is correct.)

Why? You may ask.

WELL is an adverb (a word that describes a verb). GOOD is an adjective (a word that describes a noun). So, what noun is GOOD describing in the sentence I am good? Well, technically it’s not describing a noun and that’s what confuses people.

The exception to the adjective/adverb rule is that GOOD should be used to modify LINKING verbs. Examples of linking verbs are TO BE (am & is), seem, appear, feel (verbs that describe feelings).

WELL is used to describe ACTION verbs: run, jump, play. If you want to describe how your kids run, jump, or play, you should say: My kids run, jump and play WELL.  AND NOT: My kids run, jump, and play GOOD…

Since the question How are you? uses a linking verb, the correct answer to the question is:

I AM GOOD! :-)

Make sense?

Happy Sunday! Have a great day!

science experiment


My mother gave my son this butterfly pavilion for his 5th birthday last November. He was super excited! We called him the butterfly stalker last year because he could literally sneak up on butterflies and catch them with his bare hands (very gently)! We he got this in November, he wanted to get the caterpillars right away. But, we waited to get them because we wanted to be able to release them into the wild and they can’t be released until the outside temperature is over 55 degrees. Winters in Iowa aren’t butterfly friendly.

The kit from Insect Lore came with a huge butterfly “cage” and a coupon for butterfly caterpillars. We did have to pay a $5 shipping fee, but it was worth every penny!

On May 3, our caterpillars arrived! They came in two cups with a special “nutrient” at the bottom so we didn’t have to feed them anything. Phew!

Here’s how small they were when they first arrived. There were 10 caterpillars total.

It was so hard to get a decent picture of the caterpillars because my camera wouldn’t focus. I couldn’t even manually focus it. In retrospect, maybe one of the kids should have held it like they did for the picture above.  Anyhow, after looking at these pictures again, I am AMAZED at how much those little caterpillars grew in a week! Can you tell the difference between this terrible picture and the one above?

After a week, they formed their cocoons.

This is what was over – nutrients and poop – in their original homes.

After they had all formed cocoons and we thought they were hanging quite solidly, we moved them into the butterfly pavilion so they could emerge. One cocoon had actually fallen from the lid of the jar. So, per the instructions, we placed it on a tissue on the bottom of the cage. When we did this, it started to shake violently and roll around! We thought it was about to emerge as a butterfly, but it didn’t. And we learned several days later that that behavior is normal behavior to deter predators… (oh well…)

On Sunday, May 22, they started emerging and by May 23 they were all out! Here is the last one literally crawling out of the cocoon! We were lucky enough to see two come out. They others were very sneaky and emerged undetected.

We fed them sugar water on flowers until their wings were dry and they were flying well.

And here is one of our 10 beautiful Painted Lady butterflies ready to fly away! They are gorgeous.

Interesting facts we learned during this process:

  • Painted Lady butterflies have over 10,000 eyes!
  • Painted Lady butterflies travel over 1,000 miles during their one year life.
  • The cocoons do not shake, rattle, and roll before the butterflies emerge… :-)

Yesterday, we let all 10 butterflies fly away. And this morning, one was back! But she has since flown away again. I doubt she’ll be here tomorrow. The kids named a few of them: Rocky and Sandy are two names I can remember.

It was truly a fun experience. We’re trying to figure out what to do next. I’m thinking maybe a praying mantis pagoda. A friend did this with her kids and said it was fantastic. What do you think? Have you ever done something like this? I highly recommend it, whether you homeschool or not!

Advice or Advise

Advice or Advise?

Happy Sunday! It’s time for another 5 Minute Grammar Lesson.

Here’s are two commonly mistaken words that I have to think about to get the correct one:


AdviCe is a noun. It means opinion or suggestion: My friend gave me really good advice.

AdviSe is a verb. It means to offer advice: She advised me to trust my “mom sense.”

The way I distinguish between the two is to simply pronounce the word. AdviSe sounds like it has a “z” in it. I always pronounce the two correctly, so if I simply remember that AdviSe is a hard S (z sound) and AdviCe has a soft C (sounds like s), then I can get the two words right. (An S can sound like a Z, but a C cannot.)

That may be overly complicated; alternatively, you could just memorize the rule! There are many rules in English that must simply be memorized, unfortunately.

Do you ever confuse these two words? Might this advice be helpful? Or should I find another way to advise you? 😉

And that’s your 5 Minute Grammar Lesson! Have a great day.

I or me

I or me?

It’s your 5 Minute Grammar Lesson! Here’s a topic a friend suggested to me on Facebook:

When to use “I” and when to use “me.” These two words are often mixed up, usually at the end of a sentence. Here are the facts:

  • Use “I” as the subject (when you are doing the action).
  • Use “me” as the object (when you are receiving the action)

Here’s something you might hear:

Polly went shopping with Vikki and I. – Sounds formal, right? Must be correct. Well, it’s not. “I” shouldn’t be used because it isn’t the subject of the sentence, Polly is. “Me” should be used because it is the object – it is receiving the action.

Confused? Here’s an easy check. Simply delete the extra information and see if the sentence still makes sense.

Polly went shopping with I. That doesn’t make any sense. So, the correct version is:

Polly went shopping with Vikki and me. Even though it sounds less formal, it’s right.

Make sense?  :-)

Do you have a topic you would like me to address? I’d love to know. Comment on my Facebook page, send me an email, or leave a comment here on the blog. I’ll add it to the list!

Enjoy your Sunday!

Fresh Coconut!

My hams…

Our dessert tonight was fresh coconut!

The grocery store had them 3 for $2 (67 cents each) today and A wanted to buy one. She’s been bugging me for a while so today I said yes. What the heck, right?

Can’t really go wrong with 67 cents, and I while I really can’t stand the dried coconut flakes, I LOVE fresh coconut.

Fresh coconut brings back really great memories from my childhood. I spent 8 years as a child Germany and we used to get fresh coconut at their Fests. The “carnies” (a completely different breed from American carnies) sold pieces of fresh coconut much like American carnies sell fried snickers and corndogs. For 1 Deutsch Mark (about 50 cents when I lived there) I could get a nice piece of fresh coconut to enjoy.

I loved German Fests. The rides were fun, the food was fun, the games were fun. My parents would “pay” my sister and I each 20 Marks to go enjoy ourselves while they sat with their friends in the beer tent. We had a blast – 20 Marks was a veritable fortune to a 10 year old and I always bought the coconut… As a parent of 4 now, I can understand how nice it must have been for my parents to sit in the beer tent without their kiddos underfoot – well worth the $20 they used to bribe their 2 kids! 😉

Years later, my husband and I visited Thailand together. Thai people sold the whole green coconut in the streets with straws so you could drink the coconut juice. Just let me say – coconut juice is nowhere near as good as the meat (in my opinion). I was pretty sure my kids would not like it, but I wanted them to try.

So, tonight we made a big production of this 67 cent coconut. First, B found a big screw and got the hammer. My hubs drilled three holes and inserted three straws:

 We got everyone together to try the juice. I wanted them to all try it at the same time, because I knew once one of them said EWWWW GROSSSSSSSS that would be the end!

And, I was right. The coconut juice was not hit. :-)

I thought they might actually like the meat, though. So, here’s what we did next:

 Carefully used the hammer to break open the coconut.

 Pounded on the coconut shell in the sink to break it up into smaller pieces.

 Loosed the meat off the shell using a butter knife as a lever – great homeschooling lesson there!

Enjoyed. Well, I enjoyed. No one else liked it. So, now I have an entire coconut to enjoy by myself. Anyone know how many calories are in an entire coconut?! 😉

Have you ever had fresh coconut? Do you like it? If you’ve never tried, I recommend that you find yourself a 67 cent coconut and give it a shot! It’s mighty tasty and an awful lot of fun.


DIY Waldorf Play Silks ~ A Tutorial Using Kool-Aid!

 Last week was our monthly Waldorf Homeschooling Meet-Up hosted by Melanie at Many Hands House! What a fun day! Here’s a tutorial for making your DIY Waldorf Play Silks – using Kool-Aid as the dye!

 First we measured and cut our 10 yards of silk…we bought the silk in bulk on line to get the best price and then split the cost based on how many yards we bought.
Then we followed the directions on the board! – After you cut your silk to the proper size, soak it in vinegar and hot water.
 We used Kool-aid as dye…Here are some of the pretty colors! Mix 3 packets Kool-Aid with 2 cups hot water and 2 cups vinegar. The color should be pretty and vibrant!
 We soaked the silk in the dye for about 2 minutes. (I think A wears this sweater for every Waldorf day… ) :-)
  Rinsed the silks in the bathtub until the water runs clear…
And hung them out to dry!
 We also tried our hand at making tie dye AND rainbow silks! To make the rainbow, we just lined the bowls up in order and soaked only areas of the rainbow. This was a bit tricky, but not that hard at all!
So gorgeous! And the kids LOVE playing them…

If you’d like to try this yourself, read Melanie’s tutorial here!

The Titanic!


Tuesday was a dreary and cold day. The high was 37 and it rained the entire day. It was a very fitting setting for the exhibit we visited at the Putnam Museum in Davenport, Iowa about The Titanic. If you haven’t been yet, I highly recommend that you go. It’s a traveling exhibit, so watch for it in your area if you aren’t from Eastern Iowa.

Our visit was organized by our Homeschool Assistance Program. It included a live production of “period” actors reading survivor testimonies to Congress, an IMAX movie, and “admission” to The Titanic. My kids were a little young for the survivor testimonies, but I thought they were really interesting. They LOVED the movie though, which focused on the under water adventures of scientists, marine biologists, and historians diving to the wreckage and exploring the remains on the ship on the ocean floor. And they enjoyed looking at the artifacts salvaged from the ocean.

After the movie, we boarded The Titanic. We were given tickets with names of real passengers and information such as age, occupation, and class on the ship. The exhibit featured artifacts taken from the wreckage as well as mock-ups of the different types of cabins the passengers stayed in, menus of the food they ate, and the dishes they used. At the end, we could check the boards to see if we survived or perished. Interestingly, Anna and Grandma (3rd class passengers), and Cora & I (2nd class passengers) survived, but Ben (also 2nd class) did not. Given the odds, Anna and Grandma shouldn’t have made it either, but they did. I probably shouldn’t have told  the truth about his person because he was crushed. He’s such a good kid and he LOVES everything Titanic. He was really sad to find out that “he” didn’t make it.

We tried to explain to him at supper that night that it was because of chivalry that “he” died when he asked why the women and children were put into the lifeboats first. “What’s chivalry?” he asked. As a feminist, that’s a tough one for me to explain. My hubby piped up and said, “the children survived because they represent the future. The women survived because they are usually the best people to take care of the children.” I guess that’s an okay response – better than anything I could have come up with. Ben asked if it’s because women are more responsible than men and that made me laugh! He seemed satisfied with Dan’s answer, so we left it at that.

Anyhow, we had a great day and as I said, if you get the chance, you should see this exhibit. It was fascinating!!

Lay or Lie

Lay or Lie?

LAY and LIE are two words that cause a lot of confusion (And I have been guilty of using them incorrectly, too) This is my best attempt to explain the difference. It’s a little technical, so bear with me! :-)

According to the Everyday Writer, the textbook I use in the college composition classes I teach:

1. LAY means to “place” or “put.” Its main forms are lay, laid, laid. If you are putting a book on the table, you will say, “I am laying a book on the table.” It usually takes a direct object (the word specifying WHAT has been placed), in this case, a book.

One way you can test the usage is to replace the word LAY with PLACE or PUT. In this case they all make sense: I will lay the book on the table. I will place the book on the table. I will put the book on the table. Good.

2. LIE means to “recline” or “be positioned” and does not take a direct object.  Its main forms are lie, lay, lain. This is the form that most people use incorrectly. For instance, these forms are all wrong:

  • I will lay down.
  • To a dog: LAY down!
  • At the doctor’s office: LAY back, please.

See, there is no direct object used in the above sentences. And if that’s too confusing, use the test I mentioned above, and replace LIE with “put.”

  • I will PUT down? Nope.
  • PUT down, Dog! Nope.
  • PUT back, please. Again, nope!! So instead of LAY, use LIE.

I will LIE down. Yes.
LIE down, Dog. Yes.
LIE back, please. Yes.

Here’s my best advice, though: when in doubt, use a different word! For example:

I’m going to rest.
Platz. (German for Lie down.)
Put your head on the pillow! :-)

Hopefully, that will help you use LAY and LIE correctly. And that’s your 5 Minute Grammar Lesson (one day late.)

Musings on Homeschooling

The weather has been beautiful this week and our swing set has become the school room! It’s been really nice to go swing and read, swing and dig, swing and snuggle! Yes, they are all possible with that swing set.

Since we have a home based business, we have a lot of people coming and going. Inevitably, I hear from someone, “Oh, I just couldn’t teach my own children. They won’t learn from me. They would never sit and let me teach them. It would be ugly.”

I don’t profess to be knowledgeable when it comes to homeschooling. My oldest child is only 6 so I haven’t been doing this very long. And I’m sure my thoughts on what is necessary in homeschooling will change over the years. What I do know is that homeschooling at my house rarely involves sitting at a table and working on worksheets. When I try to “teach” my oldest, it IS ugly. She fights me and we both get mad and yell. It’s counter productive and annoying.

Sometimes we sit around a table and work on worksheets – but only when my kids pull some out and ask for help. Instead, we do other things: read books, do puzzles, do art. It doesn’t mean that my kids aren’t learning. They are little sponges. They absorb everything and ask a million questions that I have to answer (there’s no way around it – I’ve tried). We have books and puzzles and legos all over the house. They are always busy.

To the outsider who has been watching us swing this week, it may look like we did absolutely no learning. But we were busy. My 5 year old son can tell you about nomads and make a super cute mouse out of wood scraps. My 6 year old daughter can tell you that the biggest pyramid in Egypt is guarded by a Spinx and how to make a mummy. She can also make cute little dolls out of wood scraps and since she knows how much I like coupons, she has been busy making coupons to sell me. And my 3 year old can serve a mean cup of imaginary tea. :-)

I have finally figured out that homeschooling involves thinking outside the box. Duh, you may say. But, here’s what I mean. To think that the only way kids will learn is to sit at a desk and have their heads “filled” with knowledge by a teacher is just wrong. Provide them with good materials, good books, sticks and dirt, and kids will learn without interference from well-meaning adults. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to figure that out.

And now the weather is supposed to turn bad again, so we will have to find another venue for our homeschooling. I doubt it will be at a desk. But I guarantee it won’t be boring. :-)

What did you do with your kids this week?

Woman…Woe man…Whoa man!

Woman…Woe man…Whoa man!!

So I Married an Axe Murderer (Special Edition + BD Live) [Blu-ray]
I had to laugh a couple weeks ago when a friend posted something on her facebook page about knowing the difference between WOMAN and WOMEN. I was in the middle of grading the final papers for my first 8 week comp class and had a student write “A WOMEN” at least FIVE times! I can forgive one mistaken WOMEN, but not five in the same paper.

Of course, you all know that WOMEN is plural and so you can never put A in front of it! Right?! A women? It just doesn’t make any sense. It’s like saying A children. A geese, A pick a plural, irregular noun.

What strikes me most about this common mistake my students make is that I NEVER see the same thing happen with MAN and MEN. Everyone knows

MAN = ONE and

woMAN and woMEN are just the same. Easy, peasy right?

One of my favorite movies of all times is So I Married An Axe Murderer. Have you seen it? Mike Myers plays a funny guy called Charlie and in the movie he performs a beat poem about women.  Anyway, if after reading the above you still have a hard time with this one, the clip of Mike Myers performing this poem might help you remember. :-) (The movie is rated PG-13…you might want to watch without little ears around).

Since my Master’s degree focused on sociolinguistics and sexist language, I wonder what this mistake means. It must mean something. Do you have any ideas?

And that’s the 5 Minute Grammar Lesson! Do you have a topic you’d like me to cover? Please share! :-)


Ukrainian Egg Decorating

Yesterday my friend Melanie from Many Hands House hosted a Magic the Gathering card game at her house. We weren’t going to go. I had arranged for a fabulous new babysitter to come over in the afternoon and I was going to get some work done.

Well…the morning dragged on. It was dreary and cold outside and the natives (my children) were restless. So I scrapped my plans for “DW” (doing work) and we headed out to Melanie’s.

We were too late for the card game, which was fine because it’s geared for older children anyway. But Melanie had an amazing arts and crafts table set up with the most beautiful egg dyes and other supplies for making Ukrainian eggs.

Now, I grew up in Germany and making Easter trees is a big deal over there. The Germans I know decorate fabulous eggs and hang them on beautiful branches long before Easter. I have been nostalgic for their eggs for a long time as I am UNDERWHELMED every year by the cheap box egg decorating kits (you know, the PAAS kits?) I have been purchasing for my kids. I should have KNOWN there was a better way!

Melanie’s eggs are BEAUTIFUL! My kids were immediately drawn to the egg table and they all made (and broke) several eggs. Ben, especially, was excited and he created for a long time. We only had one near catastrophe when Cora’s hair caught on fire. YES! That little girl is an accident waiting to happen. Luckily, I was right there and freaked her out by beating on her head with my bare hand. I scared her much more than she was hurt by the fire. Neither of us was harmed and her hair is none the worse for wear. BUT – if you make these eggs – BE CAREFUL of the candle that melts the wax. That’s my warning.

Anyhow, here are the fruits of our labor, as well as an update on the wheat grass we planted last Wednesday, also at Melanie’s delightful home. (I think our wheat would look a lot better if it had not been accidentally left outside one night in freezing temperatures.) Our eggs don’t look much like ones in the book, but I think they are lovely nonetheless.

And now I am off to purchase my own Ukrainian Egg Decorating kit so that I my kids can practice their skills! :-)

What’s going on in your homeschool? How are you preparing for spring?


Springtime! And Waldorf Homeschooling…

Yesterday we spent a delightful day with our Waldorf Homeschooling group. Thanks to our gracious host Melanie from Many Hands House, the kids were each able to make spring baskets to grow their own wheat grass! I’m especially excited to see the wheat grow because we used the wheat berries I normally grind into flour for my whole wheat bread and other delicious bakery treats.

Melanie is always a gracious host. She lives in a log cabin in the country of Iowa with her husband, 7 children, and ENORMOUS dog. She has been homeschooling her children for a long, long time and is a wonderful resource. I’m so glad she hosts these Waldorf days.

Going over to her cabin is always fun, but yesterday was such a perfect day. The weather was FINALLY spring like – with temperatures in the high 50s and beautiful blue skies and warm sun. One dad was there and sat outside playing his guitar and singing songs. The kids loved the trampoline and exploring the fields and gardens. It made me so ready to move out to our own paradise in the country. I am so ready to get out of town.

Wheat berries – soaked overnight to make them ready to plant.
A getting her hands dirty.
C working diligently on her basket.
A being goofy.
B adding wheat seeds to his basket.
C with a few of the lovely baskets.

I am so excited for next month’s get-together! We will be making and hand-dying our own Waldorf Play silks like the ones here. If you’re reading this in Iowa and would like to join us, contact Melanie. She’s collecting money and taking orders for bulk silk – much more frugal than buying it yourself!

I hope nice weather has descended upon you, wherever you may live! It has been such a long, cold winter in Eastern Iowa. My spirits are already higher with this much needed warmer weather, chirping birds, and sunshine!

Do you do anything to welcome spring?

Fun with kids and magnet letters

Got Letter Magnets?

I’m sure this isn’t an original idea, but we had fun with it today! All you need are fridge magnets and a little imagination. I wanted Anna to practice a little spelling, but getting her to WRITE is like pulling her teeth out. I found a bag of fridge magnets this morning when we were working on the mess in the basement and thought of way to get her to spell.

The letters have never made it out of the bag because we’ve had a smudge-proof stainless steel fridge for the last 10 years and it’s not magnetic. The “house” has a normal fridge and we had fun with letter magnets this morning!

Some things to do with your kids and your magnets:

  • Take turn spelling words until the letters won’t spell another word
  • Call out parts of speech and have your kids spell a noun, verb, adjective, adverb etc.
  • Write simple sentences
  • Work on letter recognition with younger kids
  • Make nonsense words and sentences like the one pictured above. Try to pronounce them and figure out what the heck they mean!

You are only limited by your creativity and the number of magnets you have, of course

Do you have a fun learning idea? I’d love to hear it.

The Great Backyard Bird Count

The Great Backyard Bird Count

Last Friday, Feb. 18, was a bittersweet day. The weather was beautiful. The sun was shining and the sky was blue. We were all in a good mood and decided that we would participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count. We gathered our materials: a camera, a couple of chairs, and an umbrella (you just never know…), printed out the instructions from The Great Backyard Bird Count official website and started watching.

One of the three sparrows we saw.


Another one of the sparrows.


One of the two European Starlings we saw.

We didn’t see many birds – just 3 sparrows and 2 starlings – and we didn’t see any in our yard. They were all in the neighbor’s yard. This temporary house we are living in has a sad little yard – no trees, no bird havens. We might have to make a bird bath this summer and put up some birdfeeders to get more birds to visit us.

Anyhow, the kids had a blast. We had fun learning what types of birds we saw and hopefully, the information we provided to the GBBC will be useful.

The bittersweet part to the day came when we found out my husband’s grandfather passed away peacefully early in the morning. He had not been well and we were not expecting him to live much longer, but it was a shock to get the call just the same. At least he had beautiful weather the day of his death. It was a beautiful day! Look at the blue skies those birdies enjoyed. And Gramps would have been proud. A life-long farmer, he relished the outdoors and loved his many family members dearly. I’m sure he wouldn’t have had to look up those birds to figure out what they were, like we did!

Hug your loved ones! And make it a great day.