Monday, October 31, 2011

Homeschool Theme of the Week: Pumpkins!

Our "Pumpkin" homeschool theme has to be one of my favorites.  :)  Of course, I could probably say that about almost every theme we do that is autumn related.  :)  Here are some pictures of a few of our activities:

When I caught sight of a pumpkin carved house on Pinterest, my imagination took off and I knew we should make one.  Can't you just see all the possibilities for fun dramatic play, writing stories, etc.!  :)  I wasn't disappointed - my daughter loved it!

I knew a story activity would be just the thing to go along with our pumpkin home so I gave her a little writing prompt and this is where she ended up (see picture below - and yes, she wrote  this herself with very little help from me)...

During the week, we also made and used three spinners and a graph to decide how we would carve the classic pumpkin face.   We chose four different eye, nose, and mouth possibilities.  Each day we spun the spinners and graphed the results.  At the end of the week, the eye, nose, and mouth with the most squares colored were declared the winners and carved into another of our pumpkins!

I had been eyeing the dyed pumpkin seed pictures and jewelry showing up on blogs and Pinterest and finally decided our pumpkin themed week would be a great time to try making something as well.  I dyed the seeds (I found that the method of boiling them for about 15 minutes in food coloring and water worked best for us), and my daughter used some watercolor paints to make a sky, ground, and bare tree.  When the painting was dry, she began gluing the colorful seed "leaves" to her picture and I just love how it turned out!  Notice all the leaves falling from the tree...

We enjoyed some free printables from and and used some fun pumpkin marshmallows for one of the graph activities.  Of course, sampling these delicacies was a must following the activity's completion!  :)

For a fun and simple math activity, I made a pumpkin patch out of candy pumpkins and some twisted green pipe cleaners (I wrote the words on the plate using food safe markers).  Each day my daughter would have to brainstorm an idea of how one pumpkin was lost or taken from the patch.  I would write down her idea on a story form I had made up beforehand, and she would write a number sentence to match it (see pictures below).  Then she would eat the pumpkin!  :)

For a bit of science and computer fun, we made a pumpkin book from a piece of thick cardboard, and my daughter typed out words describing the inside and outside of a pumpkin.  We then printed, cut, and glued the words into the appropriate places of the book.  My daughter also added some yarn for pumpkin strings and real pumpkin seeds onto the portion of the book depicting the inside of a pumpkin.  Finally, we added the sticker letters to the front to make a title for the book.  I was super pleased with how cute it turned out!  :)  See for yourself...

We also completed an art activity to go along with one of our pumpkin books:  "The Very Best Pumpkin".  This is such a sweet book, and I love the tea-stained style illustrations!  We each chose a favorite picture or part of the story to illustrate and then made our own copy of the picture using real tea and paints and crayons!  I hope to post a more detailed tutorial later this week...  

This is a picture my daughter painted of her favorite illustration in the story!  I LOVE it!  
Definitely a keeper...  :)

Need some good book suggestions?  Take a look at some of these!  :)

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Eats & Reads: The Very Best Pumpkin!

For our pumpkin theme, one of the books we enjoyed was The Very Best Pumpkin by Mark Moulton.  A small portion of the story depicts various people coming to Pumpkin Hollow Farm trying to find the perfect pumpkin for their particular needs (decoration, prize pie making, etc.).  The main character in the story, a young boy named Peter, helps them to do just that!  :)  This is a very cute book with beautiful illustrations and well worth a snack along those same lines!

Why I Like This Book:

I love this sweet story which follows a boy who faithfully tends a lonely pumpkin he finds on his grandparent's farm and which tells of the friendship which develops between himself and his new little neighbor.  The book's tea-stained style illustrations are a beautiful complement to the text as well!  :)

NOTE:  Later this week, I plan to post about an art activity my daughter and I did together to go along with the story.

Snack Details:

Main pumpkin - cream cheese and brown sugar dip (colored orange) with Nutella details and fruit roll up vines sitting on a patch of peanut butter "soil" (peanut butter for dipping or just eating straight).

Muffin cups # 1 & 3:  mandarin "pumpkins" with pretzel stems.  I found the cute idea of using mandarins here:

Muffin cup # 2:  orange slice "pumpkin" with pretzel stem.

Details:  Nutella wording and mini candy pumpkins.

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Friday, October 28, 2011

Friendly Fridays: Sharing S'more Bars!

Wouldn't it be nice to end each school week thinking of how to enrich someone else's day?  

I would love for my daughter to know the joys of encouraging and and appreciating someone else!  SOOOoo, I have decided to start a series of "Friendly Friday" posts showing something we made or did to help or encourage someone else or just to give them a happy surprise!  Note:  I cannot promise a post EVERY Friday - I just don't have that kind of time and life right now with homeschooling, family, etc.  BUT, I will try to get something up at least one or two Fridays a month and maybe more.  :)

Here was what we did for our "Friendly Friday" during our camping theme.  There was a burn ban where we went for our camping trip at the end of the week which meant no campfires thus making it rather difficult for many campers to make s'mores.  I knew this in advance so we made s'more bars to take along and share with our friends at the campsite.  I found this great recipe here:

I encourage you to consider making your Fridays friendly ones too!  :)

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Homeschool Theme of the Week: A-Camping-We-Will-Go!

I know camping is sometimes considered more of a summer activity - but if you lived where we do and stepped outside into the intense heat of just one summer day, you would probably turn tail and wait for autumn's fine weather as well!  :)  Thus, we found ourselves planning a camping trip with some friends, and I knew a "A-Camping-We-Will-Go" theme would be just the right one for this particular week!  See for yourself...

To get us started off on the right foot, I slipped a "map" into one of my daughter's workboxes.  Not just any map - but a map directing her to a campsite in our very own living room!  I selected a special spot and there I secretly placed a real cooler, a flashlight, a campsite sign, a faux fire, sleeping bag, and items to make a tent.  This went over VERY well when the map was followed and the camping treasures were discovered.  Thus, our camping week began with a flourish!  :)

Our fishing pond near the campsite...  :)

Of course no camping trip would be perfect without a little stargazing, so we made a few of our own constellations using glow-in-the-dark paint (I printed some dot-to-dot constellation pages on black paper and we just used the paint on top of the dots/stars. If I could not find a printable page for the constellation I wanted, I just tried to draw the dots/stars myself).

It is always wise to be aware of your surroundings and know a little about what NOT to do when camping, so we made a little folding accordian book titled "Be a Safe Camper".  Some "DON'T" pages were:  Don't touch poison ivy, leave snakes alone, don't eat berries and mushrooms, etc.

Another fun camping themed activity was to identify and make animal tracks using some free printable cards from

We also enjoyed using some FREE camping printables from and some online games here:  (Find constellations in a night sky.) (Match animal tracks to the animal which made them.)

Of course, the culmination of our week was when we went on our family camping trip to a beautiful park!  Joining up with some friends, we had a wonderful time!  :)

Below are some books we read for our theme as well as some that seemed like they would be a good possible addition for the future.  I also added a camping game and a play set that looked like a lot of fun!  :)

Check back Friday for our first "Friendly Friday" post which goes along with this theme!  :)

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Monday, October 24, 2011

Snack/Lunch: A-Camping-We-Will-Go!

In honor of our theme this past week (camping theme - I'll post thematic activities/crafts in just a few days...), I made this fun little plate of snack/lunch items.

Snack Details:

Fire: Large pretzel stick logs and fruit roll-up fire.

Muffin Cup #1: Baked apple stuffed with walnuts and dried fruit.

Muffin Cup #2: Snack/Trail mix.

Muffin Cup #3: Hot dog slices.

Muffin Cup #4: Miniature Nutella smores.

Details:  Fall leaf confetti and Scrabble Cheez-It crackers.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Mommy and Me Activity - Acorn Necklace

As promised, here are some pictures of an acorn activity we completed together!  If you only have boys at home and really wanted to do this activity - by all means, DO IT!  Grab the chance to teach them a lesson about being unselfish, chivalrous, etc. by having them make one for grandma or a cousin or a friend or a woman at church.  You get the idea!  :)


You will need:  acorns, buttons, thread or jewelry wire, and a hot glue gun.


1. Make sure your acorn tops are secure.  If not, hot glue or super glue them to the acorn body. 

2.  Wrap some wire/thread as tightly as you can around the acorn stems.  Hot glue or super glue it in place and make a loop with the other end (this is how you will hang the acorn on your necklace UNLESS you are handy with a drill).

3.  Lay out your buttons and acorns as you would like them to look on the necklace - patterned or otherwise.

4.  Thread your necklace and tie it closed - you're done!  :)  If you are using jewelry wire, check for sharp ends when you cut it.  You may want to consider putting hot glue on the ends to keep it from poking your child's neck.

Consider making matching necklaces if you are doing this with your daughter and wearing them out somewhere together!  :)

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Monday, October 17, 2011

Homeschool Theme of the Week: Fall & Leaves!

Autumn is a favorite season in our house!  The gorgeous colors, crisp air, cozy sweaters, steaming mugs, and of course all the fun activities!  :)  Recently, we completed some leaf and acorn activities together in school.  Today I will post pictures of two leaf activities and later in the week I will post an acorn activity.  :)

The poor weather in our area may have ruined our chances of finding brilliant autumn color outdoors, but it certainly could not dampen our attempts to recreate the beautiful colored leaves indoors.  We borrowed the idea of painting our own leaves from this blog:
Hers are perhaps far more realistic, but we like ours just fine too!  :)

To make your own, collect leaves from outside (or use a leaf cutout/stencil/cookie cutter/etc.) and trace the shapes onto thick paper.  Cut these out and let your kids smother them with paint - reds, yellows, orange (just mix your red and yellow together), etc.  Don't forget to paint both sides.  Once the leaves are dry, hot glue them onto a real branch and display in your home!

Leaf rubbings are fun and one of those classic fall activities.  I decided to try something a little different with my daughter this year and we made some using only black and white colors.  I love the way they turned out - great contrast!  Tip:  if your white crayon rubbing does not show up as well on the black paper, use your white crayon to trace over some of the lines that are more visible after you have done the initial leaf rubbing.

BTW - If you would like a simple explanation of why leaves change color, this site gives a great one:  I am thinking we will go into more depth regarding this next year!

What is almost as deliciously wonderful as Autumn?  FREE printable packs!  We used some of the activities in this pack for our Fall/Autumn theme.  Here is the link for all those interested:

Below are some Fall/Autumn book ideas!

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Homeschool Theme of the Week: Fall & Apples!

With all of the fun surrounding Apple-onia last week (our apple visitor - see earlier posts), one might wonder if we got around to any other "apple" theme activities.  Yes, we did!  Here are some pictures of a few - take a look...

Making patterns with free apple printable cards (from 2 Teaching Mommies blog) and using those same cards to play "Apple Splat!"

APPLE SPLAT Directions:

1.  Write apple related words on the back of apple cards and place on the tree.
2.  Child turns an apple card (on the tree) over and reads the word as well as gives a definition for it.
3.  If correct, the child gets to pick the apple and place it in his/her basket.
4.  If incorrect, parent takes the card and places on the splat pile - basically showing that the apple fell off the tree and "splat" on the ground.  (Make sure you or your child says "SPLAT!" when you do so.)
6.  Game ends when no more cards are left on the tree.
5.  Optional - at the end of the game, the child counts the apples in his/her basket and trades them in for the same number of M&M's or Skittles (think mini apples) or stickers.

Speaking of M&M's - we sorted and graphed a package into "apple" stacks of red, yellow, and green.  The others we munched on (come now, wouldn't you?).  :)

One of the apple books we read was The Seasons of Arnold's Apple Tree.  For a follow up activity, my daughter made her own "The Seasons of A_______'s (here is where you would insert your child's name if you were making this) Apple Tree" book.

The supply tray.

The four seasons of her apple tree.  :)

The book cover - how do you like those silly stems (I think that is the word she used).  :)  Make apple fingerprints for your border or just let your child dip a finger in red paint and dot some apples around the edges. 
IMPORTANT:  Don't forget to change the word "Arnold's" into your child's name instead (ex.  The Seasons of Jerry's Apple Tree"). 

The inside cover (NOT shown) boasts a storage pocket containing a small felt figure (this is my daughter) attached to the book via a ribbon (keeps the figure from falling out and getting lost).  Now my daughter can maneuver her way through the pages as each is read and admired, adding her felt figure to the story.  Note: one side of the figure is dressed for cooler weather (think red snowsuit and cap) and the other side is dressed for warmer seasons.

We also had a fun snack/lunch to go along with this book.  See more snack details here:

This paper was from an "Apple Variety" hunt we came up with.  We used a sheet from a FREE printable pack (2 Teaching Mommies blog) to look for different kinds of apples in the store. When we found an apple that matched one of the labeled types, we would mark it on the sheet and eventually color in that square.

In addition to the above activities, we worked on some FREE printable packs from 2 Teaching Mommies blog and Homeschool Creations blog  and went on an "All Things Apple -y" hunt in the grocery store (writing down the items we found that had apples in them or were apple related).
We read books too, of course.  Below are ones that I have either read or might one day like to add to our collection based on review.  Feel free to suggest some more in the comment section or share some apple craft ideas!  :)

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