Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Wednesday Fun~Playing with Dough

I rarely buy play dough. I've made it for as long as I can remember, and I often use the same recipe my mother used, a slowly cooked recipe that turns out extremly well. Most of the time.

However, For this play, I used a recipe I found in an old pamphlet style cookbook my grandmother gave me a couple of years ago, with no cooking involved.

Before I even had the chance to gather the materials, my daughter came in, demanding she do it on her own. Since the dough is simple to make, I said yes.
I read the recipe out to her one ingredient at a time, and she measured them into a large bowl, all by herself.
After making it once with my small amount of reading help, she made another batch on her own from memory. It turned out better than the first batch.

Of course the children spent hours playing with it over the next few days, and even created some creations to put into the oven to dry and paint afterwards.

Peace and joy until next time.

(Apologies for no pictures, I've been having technical difficulties lately)

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Adventures with flavoured gelatin- Jiggly Jelly Cutouts

I have wanted to do this for awhile with the kids- make jello jigglers, like we did when I was a kid. As part of a series I'm doing with the flavored gelatin powders, or jello, I decided to make this simple childhood favorite as a dessert the other day.

First I took the packets of jello and made sure they were COMPLETLY dissolved in the boiling water.  I used 2 cups (500ml) of boiling water to 3 packets of flavored gelatin mix. (We used orange)

After it was finished dissolving (which took longer than I thought it would) I poured it into the pan I had ready for it. I used a Pyrex rectangular pan with high edges. (I would recommend not using one with such high sides, because the cutouts were difficult to remove without damaging them. Next time I will be using a cookie sheet with higher edges instead. I think that will work better.)

It took about 3 hours to completely set. Once it was set, I carefully placed the pan into a sink with hot water for about 15 seconds. After removing the pan from the water,  I then took a cookie cutter and made some delicious jiggling flavored gelatin mittens!

You can use any cutters you prefer, seasonal or your favorite ones. I decided on mittens and moons because it's STILL winter here.

Next time I'm going to try just cutting them into cubes to pop into our mouths one at a time!
They hold together well, and  are very easy to eat with just your fingers-no spoons or bowls required!

A fun, simple treat using ingrediants most of us already have at home. And fun to eat as well!

Do you ever play with your food? How do you do it?

Peace and love until next time.

(Again I apologize for no pictures. I WILL make sure to get some up as soon as I can. Technical difficulties.)

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Making Compost

My daughter decided to make some compost, and it turned into a neighborhood affair.

A few days ago she put together a 5 gallon paint bucket (cleaned out of course) with mud, grass clippings, left over foods, leaves, paper, water and of course all the worms she could find.

My children along with a couple of others from the neighborhood spent quite some time mixing and adding different things, such as orange and onion peels, grass clippings, worms, leaves and small twigs,  taking turns between the 4 of them for each stage, stirring the concoction with a large stick.

Of course, we will have to continue adding materials and observing it over the year to see how it turns out. Maybe by planting season next spring it will be ready to use.

Over the weeks preceding this activity, I've been talking a lot about compost, how different materials break down and the purpose of insects and worms during the decomposition process.

In addition to learning a lot, they all had so much fun playing around with everything that goes along with making good soil.

Do you compost? Please share your compost piles and ideas, and how you get YOUR family involved with it.

Peace and joy, until next time.

(My apologies for no pictures. I'm working from my phone right now and it's decided to not want to take pictures lately. I WILL update with pics when I can.)

Monday, 1 August 2016

Easy Snack Ideas- Microwave S'mores

Most of my family loves s'mores (I just recently found out that the kids dad does not enjoy them as much), but when we moved into our new house there was no fire pit. So i had to improvise when the kids started begging for s'mores even though we don't have a place to roast the marshmallows. The idea was so simple. Make microwaved s'mores. Why hadn't I thought of it before?

"Let's find the ingredients, I have an idea" I said to them. Little girl races to the kitchen

"I'll get the chocolate chips I know where they are." And she excitedly climbed a chair and grabbed them. We also needed marshmallows, graham crackers and microwaveable plates.

I had the kids place graham crackers on their plates, and we had to figure out how to make the chocolate stay on top while heating it up. I squished my chocolate chips into my marshmallow, the kids just places theirs on the tops.

We noticed that the marshmallows get really big in the microwave while cooking. We also discovered that if you put them in too long they get hard and too chewy to enjoy.

Simple, fun way to snack on s'mores without a fire.

if you don't have a microwave, I'm sure it will also work in a toaster oven or big oven. I'd like to try it there and see if the marshmallows brown like over the fire.

Peace, love and happy snacking.

Monday, 25 July 2016

Monday Madness

Do you ever feel like Garfield, and just wish Monday's wouldn't arrive? Or that sleeping through them would just feel oh so great, and you could wake up Tuesday fresh as summer rain?

Even though we homeschool, sometimes Monday's can be crazy! What better way to deal with a crazy day than to have a dance party complete with a karaoke machine?

Several months ago (when it was still snowy) we acquired a karaoke machine. Although we haven't used it for its intended purpose, we often put on music we love, grab a microphone and start singing. Usually, one or 2 of us put on a song performance while the others dance away until we're out of breath.
Then the next person takes over singing and the dancing continues until we're all tired and happy.

Sometimes we make up games with a pair of dice, (or just one) where each number represents a new dance move or action.

Here are a few moves we use when we roll the die:

Roll 1 and clap your hands once

Roll 2 and hop on one foot two times

Roll 3 and wave your hands while spinning 3 times

Roll 4 and do 4 popcorn kernel jumps (scrunch down into a ball and jump up from that position, opening arms and legs as though you're exploding)

Roll 5 and do 5 robot moves

Roll 6 and spin on your bum 6 times

Whether you make  up your own moves, play freeze dance ( where everyone freezes when the music stops) or follow along to someone else's moves dancing is a great way to let off some steam and brighten up any morning.

Peace and love.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Science Fun- Layering Liquids

We really enjoy hands on science experiments in our house, and one we've recently played with is density of different liquids.

We have thick plastic test tubes to use for our science experiments, and use them often.
Gathering materials found around the house, we began our experiment.
As usual, I asked the children what they thought would happen if we put all the liquids together in the tube.

The younger two thought they would all mix, while my oldest at 15 already knew what would happen and said he thought it would layer on top of each other.

Although I found the original idea in a book we have, for this experiment I found a couple of simple videos on YouTube, I watched them (the children weren't interested) and we got started.

First, We put together our stand for the test tubes, and starting with the heaviest liquid slowly poured it into the tube, being careful not to get it on the edges of the tube. Carefully one at a time we slowly Poured the other liquids one on top of the other, always careful to not spill or go to quickly.

The liquids stayed on top of one another! It was really neat, as I made sure to have contrasting liquids to see it better.

After seeing how that worked, we decided to See what would happen if we poured the liquids into a tube in s different order. Would it still make layers?

We poured it in a random order and waited. After about 15 minutes we noticed it was beginning to look like the first one and become layers of liquid one on top of the other, And they were in the same order as though we had put them into the tube in the same order. After several hours the liquids had separated completely and you could hardly tell which was which.

What we used:
Plastic test tubes
Golden corn syrup
Liquid soap

What we did:
Beginning with the corn syrup, we (and for the first try that meant myself) slowly poured the liquids into the tube. In order, the first tube contained: corn syrup, glue, water, bubble solution, vegetable oil (canola)

The order we put them in for the second tube was: vegetable oil (canola), bubble solution, water, corn syrup and glue.

How it works:

Just like solids, liquids have a mass. Their mass corresponds with the density, or how much "stuff" is packed into a certain volume of liquid.
Depending on how much "stuff" is packed into the liquid will make the liquid float on top of another (because it's lighter) or make it sink to the bottom of another (because it's heavier).

In other words, it's a comparison between an objects mass and its volume.

Monday, 18 July 2016

Science Fun: Fun with Water

I really enjoy doing science experiments with my kids, whether playing with chemicals, like baking soda and vinegar, or pulling apart a plant to see how it's put together. We own a wide array of science and 'magic' books, most of them older and using items we can usually find at home.

One experiment we tried that was quite fun, fast and simple to do using items we can easily find around the house.

plastic zipper style bag
Sharpened pencil crayons

What We Did:
We carefully filled the bag with water and closed the top. I asked the children what they thought would happen if we pushed the pencils through the water filled bag. Will it leak, or will the water stay in?
They both thought it would leak all over. So we stayed over the sink while they each took turns pushing pencils through the plastic bag. It didn't leak! The children were amazed, and we proceeded to fill more bags and poke them with pencils.

Of course water play wouldn't be complete without actually letting the water go, so we pulled the pencils out and watched the fountains of water flow out of the bag.

We all enjoyed learning why it doesn't leak when you push the pencils through, but will once the holes are unplugged.

How It Actually Works:
When you push the pencils through the plastic bag, usually made from a polymer plastic called low density polyethylene. The bag pulls itself against the pencils, creating a type of seal. When the pencils are pulled out, the plastic cannot go back together, so the holes remain, and the water leaks out.

How do you play with science in your home? This is one simple experiment almost anyone can try out.

Peace and love.

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Flowers on our Walks

Sometimes it's nice to stop and smell the flowers. Here are some of the flowers we've seen on our walks around the neighbourhood.

Some are specifically planted as part of a butterfly garden, some are just flowers from the park or gardens around the neighbourhood, all of them beautiful.

I want to create our own garden full of flowers to attract butterflies and bees to our yard. How wonderful it would be to see monarchs and their caterpillars, and possibly watching them transform in nature? I think it will be an amazing thing.

Bees and butterflies are an important part of our ecosystem, and whatever we can do to help promote their growth and prevent their loss will help the populations soar once again.
We've also seen poppies, daffodils, black eyed Susan's and many more.

Do you have a garden specifically to attract butterflies or bees? Tell us about it!

Peace and love, until next time.

Friday, 15 July 2016

Outdoor activities to try this summer

Tug of war
I've made it a personal family goal to allow my kids the freedom this summer similar to what I had growing up. And along with that, I decided to create a list of games from my childhood I'd like to teach to them, so they can play the games with their friends we enjoyed as children. rover

Remember this game? We all stood in rows facing each other, arms linked and yelled out "red rover red rover send  (whoever) over. They'd run full speed into a set of arms they thought was the weakest link. If the got through they picked one for the other side. If they didn't they stayed with the opposing team.

2. Mother may I

Mother may I
Another oldie but goodie. Grab a bunch of kids, line all but one up at the starting line and one stands a few meters away, as mother or father. Each child asks one at a time if they may take steps forward. Mother or father replies with a yes you may, or a no you may not. Mother or father may choose something else or keep them in place. Whoever reaches mother first becomes the new mother (or father,)

3. What time is it, mr. Wolf?

Similar to mother may I, but with a twist. Instead of asking to move forward, the group of moving children ask "what time is it mr.wolf?" The wolf proceeds to say a time, and the children move forward that many steps, big or small. But beware! When mr. Wolf yells it's lunchtime better get back to the start before wolf tags you or you're out for the round.

4. Tag

Pick a version, whether it's freeze tag, grounders or just tag! You're it, this game can be a lot of fun. To keep it fair, I'd try to keep littler ones together and bigger ones together, but as a large group or separated into sizes there's sure to be a version to suit everyone.

5. Red light/green light

A great way to learn following directions. The traffic light faces a group of children as a red light. When he or she turns their back they yell green light. The other children try to reach the traffic light as fast as they can before they turn and yell red light. The movers FREEZE in place and if the traffic light catches s movement sends the offenders to the starting line. The first one to reach the traffic light becomes the traffic light.

6. Musical chairs

Grab some chairs or cushions, make a circle with them, put on music and start walking or dancing around the chairs. Make sure there's one less chair than people. When the music stops, everyone scramble for a chair. Whoever doesn't have one sits out until the next round.

7. Telephone

This one was always fun! Will the message last until the end or will it change into something hilarious? Sit in a circle. One person begins by whispering a message into the ear of whoever is next to them. Keep passing the message until it reaches the last person. They say the message out loud and whoever started it says whether it was correct or not. Sometimes this can get pretty funny.

8. Picnics

Grab a blanket, throw together some sandwiches and drinks and head outside. Picnics can be held anywhere from the living room floor on a rainy day to a park complete with fire pits and anything in between. Don't worry if you can't go far, picnics are a blast anywhere you have them.

I'm positive that while I play these games with them, My mind will go back to memories I had as a kid playing until our parents hollered, all the while making new memories to share with my children as they grow.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Observing insects- the emergence

Our caterpillar has emerged as a beautiful black swallowtail butterfly.
I was asleep and woke up to a fluttery sound, like something caught in a container trying to get out. I looked up at the shelf holding the chrysalis, and there it was! I was not expecting it yet, as all I've read says these over winter. (Although I couldn't believe it with it changing so early in the season)

I frantically got up, and looked for a branch for it to climb, hoping it wasn't too late for the creature to dry its wings. Slowly it climbed up the branch I found, and as it hung onto a leaf, I wanted so badly to wake up the kids.
Instead, I sat and watched it until the children woke up.
Excited they gathered around to look, and begged to keep it.

I had to say no.

We observed it for awhile, opening and closing its wings and climbing around on the branch until it began fluttering around the kitchen. As it landed on my daughter, I told them it was time to let it go. With the butterfly still gripping to her shirt, my 7 year old carefully walked outside, and the butterfly took off in the breeze.
We watched it land in a nearby bush, and waited until it flew away before leaving our spot on the steps.

We talked about the butterfly and how beautiful and delicate it is, and how they help pollinate the flowers and help the plants grow. What a wonderful way to learn about the life cycle of the butterfly and metamorphosis.

Peace and love.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Our 2016 Folk Fest Adventure

This years Winnipeg Folk Festival was one of the best years I've had in a long time. Almost everything has worked out, and apart from a few mix ups about my oldest child's volunteering schedule and pass pick up, everything feels right.

 We've spent our time at the massive sand pile, played some big games, done crafts and face painting with the kids and even caught a few daytime workshops. The best one so far: lemon bucket orchestra at the Folk School. Wow, were they amazing! Watching the crowd get up and learn a dance made me want to join right in. Unfortunately this time I couldn't as the younger ones were enjoying being buried chest deep in the sand and the rule is: don't leave your children unattended.

By fluke I've seen every band on my list, and even one wonderful surprise with Alan Doyle and the Beautiful gypsies. Enjoying main stage alone with my best friend while they played brought back memories of past festivals. Times when I didn't care who saw me dancing in the mud and enjoying my whole self. And I danced. I sang along. I laughed and slipped on wet grass and mud fresh from the light rain that sprinkled over us all earlier, cooling off the hot muggy day and clearing up into a beautiful evening.

Our adventure is not over, there's one more day left. One more day filled with love, music, dancing and friends in the great outdoors.

I anticipate tomorrow we'll watch some workshops around the festival, get our faces painted up again, play a round or 2 of big 4 (a larger version of Connect 4) at the big games area and settle in with a whales tail at main stage until after dark. At the end of the concerts the volunteers will climb on stage, snd we'll thank them for yet another smooth running festival. We'll all Sing amazing grace and Mary Ellen carter (an old Stan Rogers song, if you want to look it up) for the finale and then it's over for another year.
As always it's over too soon and we'll wait impatiently until next July when it happens again.

Happy Folk Festival!

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Getting outside

Although we all want our kids to go get out and play, with many of today's lifestyles we can't always bring our kids to the park, and apartment living in cities leaves us with no back yard to let our kids run around in.
We have been lucky, we moved into a house with a huge yard, a park across the street and lots of kids. Trying to drive down the street on a weekend could prove dangerous, as the kids playing on roller blades and bikes, enjoying games of street hockey, catch, foot races and running from house to house fill the bay. The kids take over and the neighborhood is filled with sounds of children at play.

They run around like we did in the 80's, parents peeking out windows while cooking, or sitting on the front steps watching from not too far away, but far enough to just let them go.

It's hard to do at first, but when the other children come knocking at the door to play earlyin the morning, and your kids beg to go play with their friends, how can you say no?

The days I remember most from my childhood summers are the days I was out from before lunch, when I was so busy getting into different games and types of play with my friends I barely stopped to eat. The freedom of hopping onto my bike and roaming the neighborhood, catching frogs with my best friend in the ditch beside her house and the best, going away to the country for weeks and just getting lost in my imaginary worlds.

I want my kids to experience a similar world. One without parents hovering always, but still close enough to call over to look at some new trick they learned, or a new insect they discovered.
I want the scraped knees, the tree climbing, the mud, the bare feet and the looks of joy from my children as they learn, with freedom to play and love to grow on.

Check back for some summer activity fun as the days go on.
Peace and love.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

The Positive Effect- the power of positive thinking

I am trying to think more positively in my life, and to instill positive thinking and self talk in my children. With this idea in mind, I decided to create a special box filled with positive quotes, thoughts and affirmations to help guide them in their journey into positive thinking.

Silly picture

I took an empty box and covered it with a decorative paper. Another idea is to cover it with plain white or brown wrap and letting the children decorate the box themselves, but I wanted to present it as a special box I made just for them.

I took different sizes and colours of paper and wrote quotes, thoughts and words that are positive on them. Every day, the kids are supposed to take one of the pieces of paper out and read the words written on it. Every day the card or paper with the affirmation or positive words for the day will be placed where the kids can look at it and read (or have it read to them) again as many times as they want. Over the course of the month, the children should begin to have a collection of words and phrases. They'll have about 30 different words, quotes and positive ideas to look at by the end of the month and read over. Each. That makes for 90 or more! I plan to change many (but not all) of the words at least once a month, so every month they will have new and repeated positive thoughts read to them.

Picking out and reading the words on the cards will become a habit you and your children can enjoy together every day, a special time for each one of your children and you to connect with one another, even if only for a minute or 2. In this busy day and age, it's important to slow down sometimes and breathe, and affirm the positive relationship you want with your children. It will help you all feel more connected and in turn will help your relationships flourish.

Peace and love.

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Summertime Fun- Ice Cubes, anyone?

Where we live we often need to find creative ways to keep cool in the summer. Life without air conditioning when it reaches above 30 degrees Celsius can be tough! But luckily we've found some fun ways to beat the heat.
One of our several water wars
Water wars, complete with buckets, water pistols, squirt bottles and anything else that can be used to hold and throw water (including our hands!) is one activity we've come to love and enjoy. Sometimes there are almost 20 kids around!
Ice cubes, and other shapes large and small are great to fool around with too. All the children enjoyed watching them melt, finding one had frozen with a hollow spot and eventually smashing them all on the ground to see how many pieces they could break into.

Outdoor play is important, and this summer my kids will enjoy plenty with friends and family.

Peace and love.

Train delay

There was a bit of a delay with the Thomas track master set up when daddy found the missing piece to blue mountain quarry.

Everything HAD to be moved around, but it's looking better than ever! Soon it will be completed and we'll be playing away as track repair people while the kids run the trains.
Patiently waiting for it to be finished so I can play, I am certain I'm as excited as the kids are.
Follow up "how we played" post coming up soon.
Peace and love.

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Finding caterpillars- observing insects

Some of the kids finding tent caterpillars. They had fun discovering what they turn into, and what they do.
Because I know caterpillars are particular about what they eat, the girls weren't allowed to collect any of these ones. We were too far away from the food source.

Excited when they found some caterpillars.

A tent caterpillar crawling into a curious hand.
I cannot imagine what other insects the kids will discover this year on our travels, but as we find, discover and learn I will make sure to share our adventures.
Learning every day.The interest in these pesty type caterpillars is what led to the girls finding our eastern black swallowtail

Canada Day!

Happy Canada day, Eh!

Waking up, fun with friends all day long.
 Face paints.

Red and white everywhere you look, people celebrating OUR country, CANADA!

And while we sit at HOME among all the celebrations, in our own quiet way we celebrate our country.
Painting flags, (that look somewhat like ours)
Eating Red jello, red and white ice cream, poutine for supper and family surrounding us. Quietly celebrating our flag, (did you know we only get our own flag in 1965?! Before that we mainly flew the Union Jack.)
talking about our heritage, and learning through pictures, books and other people about our great and wonderful Canada.

We will head to fireworks later on tonight, and watch them burst high above, snuggled on a blanket hot chocolates and cookies in hand.  As we drive home among the rows of cars, kids chatting excitedly about the loud colourful fireworks they saw, and comparing them to years past, eventually they will fall asleep from the excitement of the day.

And then we do it all over again next year.

Hope you all have a great Canada day weekend!

Peace and love

Friday, 1 July 2016

Observing insects- it's changing

The other day the kids found a caterpillar on a bush beside the house.
They wanted to keep it, so I suggested building a habitat for it. Over the next few days I gathered materials while the kids carefully fed the caterpillar and changed its bedding/cleaned the cage. Because I know they are picky eaters, I made sure to only gather food from the plant we found it on, and we didn't pick it up, so as to not damage its body. (We let it crawl onto us or from stem to stem)

Every day. Then I noticed something.
The caterpillar had attached itself to the side of the container it was in. Surely it was too early for it to change, all the websites said they overwinter. That means stay in its chrysalis over the winter, but I have never done this before. 
Guess what? It's definitely turned, or is turning now.
Stay tuned for updates and what the kids reactions were while observing these amazing changes.

Trains Trains Trains

We have about a zillion (I only slightly over exaggerate while I clean up) pieces of Thomas track master and tomy track pieces. Daddy decided he wanted to pull it ALL out of the basement, and set up an epic track layout in the backyard.
Only a small part of the new set up

After several days it's still not completed! As he fills the backyard with track, and we recharge all the batteries in excited to see what the end result will be.

The kids are all as excited as me, and every day the neighborhood children walk by with a "is it done yet?"
And of course dad says "not yet, a couple more days".
An older set up

Well that couple days is up, final touches are going on tomorrow and Thomas along with many of his friends will spend Canada day rolling along the rails.

Check out our video (to come) and enjoy right along with us.

Peace and love

An older set up

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

It's been awhile but...we're back!

Wow. 2 whole years? Really?
How did I survive computer less for SO LONG?!

I'll have many more posts to come, along with links to our home schooling page and our videos.

Can't wait to update all my files and start writing again!

Hope you'll follow along our journey as a family and as unschooly homeschoolers.

Peace and love.