Thursday, August 13, 2009

Middle Tennessee Field Trip List (Nashville, etc.)

Over the last few years I have crawled the Internet, networked with other moms, and interrogated tour guides to create a field trip list for Middle Tennessee. Started because we had family visiting from out of the country, the list has grown and continues to grow with an addition once a week. We have joined almost every field trip group in our area from the Baptists to the Unschoolers and we are looking for more!

I would love to organize this list further - making it beautiful, rating our favorites, and noting the ones we have not yet visited. If anyone would like to kudos their favorites, feel free to leave comments so others can glean from your experiences. If anyone wants to copy the list and post it elsewhere, I much approve. I don't know what I would have done without all my fellow moms, homeschoolers, researchers, tour guides, and bloggers who share pieces of the lives with me. Keep the information moving!

The most awesome part about going on field trips is learning more about our incredible Creator. He weaves all things together and does it all with everlasting love.

To Him who made the heavens with skill,
   For His lovingkindness is everlasting;
To Him who spread out the earth above the waters,
   For His lovingkindness is everlasting;
To Him who made the great lights,
   For His lovingkindness is everlasting:
The sun to rule by day,
   For His lovingkindness is everlasting,
The moon and stars to rule by night,
   For His lovingkindness is everlasting...
To Him who smote great kings,
   For His lovingkindness is everlasting,
And slew mighty kings,
   For His lovingkindness is everlasting...
Who remembered us in our low estate,
   For His lovingkindness is everlasting,
And has rescued us from our adversaries,
   For His lovingkindness is everlasting;
Who gives food to all flesh,
   For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
Give thanks to the God of heaven,
   For His lovingkindness is everlasting.

Psalm 136:5-9,17-18,23-26


The Oaklands Museum -
Belle Meade - - 615-356-0501
- Homeschool Days -
Governor’s Executive Residence - 615-741-2784 -,
Belmont Mansion - - 615-460-5459
Historic Cragfont - (Castalian Springs, TN -7 miles east of Gallatin) -, -615-452-7070
Hermitage - - 615-889-2941
Sam Davis Home -
- Spring 1800's days
The Carter House - - 615-791-1861
Carnton Plantation - - 615-794-0903
Travellers Rest Plantation -
Cheekwood Home
Bowen Plantation House - - 615-859-3678
Nashville Zoo
- Croft House
Lotz House (Franklin) -

Leiper's Fork Village -
Tennessee State Capitol, 615-741-0830
Cannonsburgh (Murfreesboro) -
Old fashioned water powered mill - (Belvedere)
I Spy Franklin -
McLemore House African-American Museum ($5)-
Fort Nashborough - 615-862-8400
Rock Castle - (Hendersonville) - 1700's home - - 615-824-0502
Shakers at South Union -
Manskers Station - (Goodlettsville) - Pioneer Village - 615-859-FORT (3678)
Constitution Village (Huntsville, AL) -
Fort Loudon (Vonore, TN - over 3hr) -

Tennessee State Museum -,
(awesome free museum under TPAC - just took family there)
TC Railway Museum -
Military Museum -
Ellington Agriculture Museum - - 615-837-5197
Williamson County Archives and Museum (FREE) -

Natchez Trace-
- Powwow
Dunbar Cave State Park (Clarksville, TN) -
- Ancient Native American site

Global Education Center -
- arts/music/dance multi-cultural classes (African, Polynesian, etc.)
Kingdom Academy of the Arts (camps and pioneer/indian days) -
Jack Daniel Distillery (Lynchburg) -
Bicentennial Mall -
- fall history festival
Stones River National Battlefield -
Lane Motor Museum -
Amish community - http://www.amishwelcomecenter. com/


The Farm - (Summertown)

Farmer's Market -
Arrington Vineyards - (Arrington outside of Franklin) -
Hatcher Family Dairy -
MTSU Dairy -
Local Farms -
Sumner Crest Winery - (Portland, TN) - August Grape Stomp -
Morning Glory Apple Orchard (Nolensville) -
Golden Bell Blueberry Farm -
Forgies Fruit Farm - (Lewisburg)
- peaches

Tennessee Aquarium (Chattanooga) -
Service Opportunities for Small Groups in Murfreesboro - 893-2141 or
Murfree Spring (Discovery Center, Murfreesboro) - - 615-890-2300
Warner Nature Center -
Rangers at State Parks
Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency, Ellington Ag Ctr, educational programs
Nashville Nature Centers
- Warner Park Nature Center
Shelby Bottoms Nature Center
Bells Bend Outdoor Center
Beaman Park Nature Center
Wilderness Station at Barfield Crescent Park - (Murfreesboro)
- WOW!
- camping $5/person (tent provided)
Murfreesboro Greenway System -
Natchez Trace click on info,
- Ranger programs
Aquarium Restaurant - behind the scenes tour -
- Marine Biologist for a Day ($25) -
- Aquarium Restaurant - 615.514.FISH
Cheekwood - 615-356-8000
Kid's Adventure Cruise (Ashland City) -
Owl's Hill Nature Sanctuary -
- Homeschool Days:
Creation Museum (Petersburg, KY) -
Dunbar Cave State Park (Clarksville, TN) -

Vanderbilt Dyer Observatory -
-Kid's Exploration Nights
-astronomy roadshow
Space Ctr in Huntsville
- free with Adventure Science Membership
Sudekum Planetarium

Peachtree Farm (Arrington) -
Harlinsdale Farm -
- horses/public park/museum? - TN walking horses
Dinosaur World (Cave City, KY) -
Cripple Creek Farm- exotic animals -
Nashville Zoo -
- Homeschool Education classes Thursday and Friday afternoons during school year
Alpaca Farms
- Mistletoe Farm Alpacas Tom & Leanne Butchko Franklin TN 37064 3.73
High Meadow Alpacas, Llc Michael & Charlotte Goldston Franklin TN 37064 11.90
Hickory Bluff Farms Bill & Ruth Fuqua Mount Juliet TN 37122 29.22
Kozy Kountry Alpacas Richard & Konnie Miller Milton TN 37118 30.48
Alpaca Creek Farm Jacki Robert & Richard Kensky Hendersonville TN 37075 33.79
Long Hollow Suri Alpacas Karl & Jan Heinrich Gallatin TN 37066 34.98
Island Overlook Farms Lisa & Barry Hertan Lebanon TN 37087 47.77
Music City Alpacas - (Antioch)
Hidden Springs Farm -
Fiber and herb farm
New Era Fiber -
Fiber Alpaca farm and mill
Wildlife Rescue
Raccoons, Fawns, Squirrels, Hawks, Owls
Harmony Wildlife Rehabilitation Center (Fairview)
Carol Burgess
Possums, Squirrels, Groundhogs, Adult Songbirds
Creekside Wildlife (Fairview)
Jennifer Varden
Small Mammals ONLY
Lisa Butler (Franklin)
Deborah Dorsey (Madison)
Any Wild Creature
James R. Talbott, DVM (Nashville)
Nashville Zoo at Grassmere (Nashville)
Richard Schwartz
Walden's Puddle - Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation (Joelton) 299-9938
TWRA (Nashville)

Discovery Center (Murfreesboro) -
Adventure Science Museum - 615-862-5160
Nashville Airport ? - (615) 275-1675


Steinway -
Fiddle and Pick -
Musical Heritage Center of Middle Tennessee (Pegram)
Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, 615-416-2001
Ryman Auditorium -
Schermerhorn Symphony - tours, children's programs, rehearsals

Nashville Children's Theater - - 615-254-9103
- homeschool workshops:
TPAC HOT series

Parthenon - art collection, Greek architecture, etc.
Tennessee Fiber Festival (FREE - Fee for workshops - Dickson and Cannonsburgh in Murfreesboro) -
Arts Center of Cannon County - (Woodbury, TN) -
Frist Art Museum - (615) 244-3340
The Renaissance Center - (Dickson) -
- Referred by Mandy Ray-Jones
- state-of-the-art facility utilizing the latest technology to promote a variety of educational programs and initiatives
Camp Tandy (Nashville) - Leatherworking - 615-833-1635 or toll free 877-833-1635
Kingdom Academy of the Arts - (Bell Buckle) -
- art camps and party options


SCUBA party -
Centennial SportsPlex -
Pool party
The Monkeys Tree House ($7/kid) -
Nashville Superspeedway - (Lebanon) -
Nissan (Smyrna) - must be over 10 -

***************************************** (state park events)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Infant Potty Training

Imagine a home with a child under two that does not have the lovely aroma of dirty diapers. Imagine a day spent without wrestling a little one to wipe his rearend before he smears his scent all over the carpet and furniture. Imagine a child who is less fussy because he doesn't have the overwhelming urge to "go" for long periods of time. Imagine no emergency runs to buy wipes. Imagine no more diaper rash or "fire butts" requiring immediate bathing.

It's the world of babies that are amazingly good at using a potty! Our third child is two and has been able to use a potty since she was 3-months-old (though many mommies start with their infants from birth). Just like little puppies, babies don't actually like messing themselves and when they are given the option, they can do their business in a receptacle of your choosing.

There are TONS of websites and bulletin boards devoted to "Elimination Communication". They are full of ideas on how to lovingly teach the babies to release on command. I took the simple advice given by Debi Perl and sat backwards on a potty, cradling my wee one in the crook of my right arm while holding her rearend down in the potty. After only a few times, she could release even the smallest amount of pee within seconds of being placed in that position. Incredible!

There is hope for slackers! I was not capable of sticking to solid routines. While working with my little one on the potty thang, I was homeschooling a 5 year old, barely tolerating my 3 year old, caring for my elderly mother, living in two different states, and still using diapers for the baby. If I can train a baby to successfully use a potty, ANYONE can do it. And the time commitment is less than the time it takes to change dirty diapers.

Method will no doubt depend on your schedule and your baby's personality, gender, routine.

I found the easiest age to train for us was the infant stage because babies love to look at their mommy's face and jabber. When you smile upon hearing them tinkle, it is thrilling for them.

When the distraction phase kicks in, toys are essential to keep them interested. Potty strikes can occur - you can't make a baby use the potty - but they are mostly preventable if you keep updating favorite items next to the toilet. After potty time, I would sing "Toys away, toys away, that is all for toys today" and provide a container for the baby to place the toy in (when capable of that task). As long as you stick to that "Toys away" rule, there shouldn't be much fighting. If you break that rule, good luck with fits. (Learned the effects of inconsistent parenting with my fit-throwing firstborn.)

If the baby was fussy, I rarely had success with placing her on the potty. The best time for her to go was right after nursing. Generally I would feed her one side when waking and then visit the potty. She'd be quite content at that point. Some moms are able to have their babies go at night and literally never use diapers. I was too lazy to do that. And I found that the baby would get irate if placed on the potty when sleepy.

Because I could not be consistent with training the baby (sometimes going a day or so without placing her on the potty), I always had her in diapers. But just like potty training an older child, the training requires more discipline on mom's part to make sure we're taking advantage of opportunities to go potty and not always relying on the handy-dandy diapers for accidents. If we were to have another bambino, I'd probably try the diaperless route, but who knows until the time comes.

From the time the baby could say "go", she has been asking to go to the potty when she needs to use it. Before the baby was 15-months, we were moving, it was summer, and she was starting to strike more often and use her diaper more often. So we said "done" and said goodbye to diapers during the day. She is now 2 and will go a week or more without an accident (accident usually due to my negligence or to over-indulging on yummy beverages).

Currently, she needs to be done with diapers at night. Last week, she was waking up with dry diapers on occasion, and now she is starting to fill the diaper before calling for me, and then immediately asks for the diaper to be taken off. Good hint that the kiddo needs a change in the system.

My prayer while making a bad but ultimately successful attempt at infant potty training was literally to free other moms of the burden of diapers. There is another way and God designed our babies to do oh so much more than we can imagine. I am by no means an expert, but if He can work this miracle through me, He can do it for you!

Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one's youth.
How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them;

Psalm 127:4-5a

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Relaxed Homeschoolers

We attended the Middle Tennessee Home Education Association Curriculum Fair this weekend. I attended workshops at the conference on Saturday, two of which included Mary Hood's instruction on relaxed home schooling. She is the author of several books incuding The Relaxed Homeschool. For those mommies who stress about homeschooling and making sure they get everything done that's on their checklist, Ms. Hood invites you to unload that burden and enjoy homeschooling with your children.

She believes that a “relaxed home school” develops out of the mindset that you are a family, not a school; a dad, not a principal; a mom, not a teacher; and that you have individual relationships with your children, not a classroom. This mindset helps you to stress out less over school-like expectations, and relax and enjoy your family.

The children enjoyed crafts at the curriculum fair on Friday with a group called Kingdom Academy of the Arts out of Bell Buckle, Tennessee. The academy offers mini-camps and enrichment programs throughout the year. After glancing at their website, I would be most likely to choose from their fall events which include Pioneer and Indian Days. The mini-camps are $30/day for each participant and we would have to drive an hour to get there. The leader of Kingdom Academy of the Arts teaches at Whole Heart Academy in Brentwood, Tennessee.

Even as an "unschooler", I struggle with stealing the joy of learning from my children - by being too rigid when an educational thought pops in my head or by presenting a new concept to a child while the 2-year-old is demanding attention. May God lead us to teachable moments with patience and kindness!

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Matthew 6:31-34

Friday, May 15, 2009

Map Skills - Understanding Everyday Maps and Labeling Continents

On recent outings we have collected maps - most recently being the zoo map and botanical gardens map. The kids (7 and 5) do not seem interested in pausing to look at the map while we are visiting the attractions, but once we get home they love to trace their route on the maps. I show them the route and then leave the maps on the kitchen table for viewing at their pleasure. Usually they want to review the route with me several times and asks lots of questions. Thank you Lord for lesson plans!

Does anyone else out there have to rely on a map since they have zero sense of direction? I count myself a decent navigator, but without a map I am clueless. Having a daughter who seems to have an even WORSE sense of direction, I honestly worry about her safety as she gains more independence. So let's work on those map skills!

We purchased a continents foam map puzzle from the Dollar Tree. I like it because it's cheap and simple but the sturdiness of the puzzle leaves much to be desired. It would probably work better if I glued it to a piece of cardboard. Since the puzzle itself was a tad frustrating, my 7-year-old decided to lay out the continents on the table in their correct places. Then of course my 5-year-old wanted to do it. I was glad they found a way to enjoy the puzzle without getting frustrated with it.

* Click on Continents and Oceans
* Choose to solve as a Puzzle, with Clues, or with Labels

Recently, I read a blogger's post about painting cheap globes she found thrifting - one color for each continent. I thought it was a marvelous idea - though i have no extra globes. So what I would like to do (and probably never will) is just cut out the continents in colors that match my puzzle and stick them on the globe short term.

My 7-year-old has no trouble grasping the fact that the multi-colored North America on the globe is one continent, but my 5-year-old is having some issues. And I'm not sure the 5-year-old understands that the 2-D puzzle matches the globe at all. Too much color variation (he's always been good at order and matching colors.)

For the LORD is a great God
  And a great King above all gods,
In whose hand are the depths of the earth,
  The peaks of the mountains are His also.
The sea is His, for it was He who made it,
  And His hands formed the dry land.
Come, let us worship and bow down,
  Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.

Psalm 95

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Slugs and Holes in the Ground

Out of feelings of guilt and having left our sandbox when we moved, I allowed our children to dig two holes in our backyard. What a concept! They were thrilled! And it has been nature discovery ever since.

The holes are close to our fence and we cover them with an old board so no one breaks a leg while running in our yard. The environment along with the safety of the board covering has brought slugs, roly-polies, and worms - what more can a child ask for! The arrival of slugs brought the announement from my little one "Look mommy! A mommy slug and a baby slug!" How cool. (BTW, slugs are not snails without shells - I had to look it up - but snails and slugs are both mollusks.)

Our poor children. Don't touch this! Don't pull on that! Don't step there! Don't pick up that! But why, mommy? Because it's LANDSCAPING.

We are surrounded by landscaping. Our perfect lawns and manicured bushes. Our ornamental rocks and picture perfect flower gardens. (Well, ok, not mine.) May our children learn diligence and hard work in gardening, but may they also be allowed to receive the simple gifts God gave them in the mud (which God Almighty played with first)!

Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.
Genesis 2:7

Monday, May 4, 2009

Send Drawings to Sick or Elderly

Found a great blog post of service projects for kids. A couple of her ideas included sending colorings and cards to sick kids and the elderly. Addresses are provided via Color A Smile and Make A Child Smile. ColorASmile provides the coloring pages - some blank and some not - and then they send out the finished pages after receiving them from you. MakeAChildSmile gives guidelines, but the cards are sent directly to the sick child.

May service be ingrained in our children by our Heavenly Father and may we not mistakenly rely on our own strength or abilities!

Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
1 Peter 4:11

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Spontaneous Sewing and Related Activitites

I collected some sewing items and placed them in a basket for my 7-year-old. My favorite item is a small hoop that I filled with an old sleeve from a men's dress shirt. The other items include a needle threader, spools of thread, and scissors. My daughter has now added tape, much preferring to tape the thread on the back of her sewing project over tying knots (how do you teach knotting thread - I can't do it either).

My eldest does not do anything in a tedious fashion - coloring is barely within the lines. When I talked about sewing in rows or with small stitches, she responded with "I don't like to do it like that." I'm just glad she likes to sew. After finishing this first sampler for her brother's birthday, she sewed a simple dress for a bunny rabbit and embellished it with a pretty button. Her momma was darn proud.

I bought a salt shaker at the grocery so my little ones could enjoy decorating the lid with sewing pins. My almost-5-year-old much preferred decorating the pin cushion and using the salt shaker as part of the "pin cushion bug".

This needle threader is a jewel of a find. I had no idea what it was until I saw it on someone's blog (wish I could remember where and give them credit). I, the mechanical engineer, could not figure out how to use it (a failed presentation). But my 7-year-old figured it out by herself and now uses it with ease to thread a needle - very convenient if the artist likes to use lots of colors.

The 24-month-old found a new use for our marbles. She made a noise machine with the sewing tin lid. She enjoyed dropping the marbles on the tin and rolling them around and around. Then she had fun putting the marbles back into an old spray bottle, showing more patience than usual with the large quantity of marbles. She has had lots of practice, so she can now pick up 4 or 5 at a time and use her hand as a funnel.

My dear children must learn many things on their own. Their mother does not have many skills in the homemaking arena - though God is teaching me day by day! Many times I will try to teach or "present" something to my kids and it's literally the first time I have ever attempted the procedure. We have many frustrations and failures. And sewing was no different...until I set out the needed equipment and let the my eldest child teach herself and wow - she took off on it and does not want to stop.

There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven--
   ...A time to tear apart and a time to sew together;
   A time to be silent and a time to speak.

Ecclesiastes 3:1,7

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Marbles, Chopsticks, Rocks, and More

Spray Bottle, Marbles, Chopsticks, and a 24-month-old
The older kids like to fill the bottle with marbles (24-month-old gives up after 5 marbles or so), and the 24-month-old likes to add chopsticks. I rather like the presentation factor.

Fastening Mommy's Watch
Upon request from the almost-5-year old, he was allowed to have my watch and the little watch pillow to practice fastening and unfastening a watch. He has an amazing amount of patience for these tasks.

Ice Trays and Cotton Balls
A kitty ice tray has become a great tool for practicing all kinds of fine motor skills. The ice try was filled with cotton balls and the 24-month-old was removing the cotton balls with tweezers and then refilling the ice tray upon completion. The same day, the 24-month-old also practiced filling our usual ice trays with a 2-cup measure of water. These acivities are popular with the 7-year-old and the almost-5-year-old as well.

Easter Egg Tray and Pinto Beans
I think this Easter egg tray is so cute, but it has not been as popular as I would have thought for the kids. I placed 12 pinto beans on the little pink tray and I demonstrated with my pincher fingers putting one bean per hole. My 24-month-old only enjoyed this as long as I was at her side, and the minute I turned to help the older children, she began dumping both the pink tray and the bunny tray on the floor and everywhere else (effective strike). On previous strikes, I have removed the offending item, but this time I tried once more and stayed with her until she completed the task. Upon seeing that each hole had a bean and that she had used all the beans from the floor and her lap, she seemed quite pleased with herself.

Rock Bath
A dear relative who loves to shop asked my 7-year-old what she could bring her from the country of Oman. And my sweet child asked for rocks. :) So here are her beloved rocks receiving their first American bath.

The Rock! His work is perfect,
For all His ways are just;
A God of faithfulness and without injustice,
Righteous and upright is He.

Deuteronomy 32:4

Friday, April 24, 2009

Washing and Peeling Potatoes Outside

Today we washed and peeled potatoes outside. I would love to get back to the roots of food preparation - inspired by nomads and others that posh society deems as uncivilized. It is so much more fun to do anything outside for children - even in bad weather. Today it was 80 degrees and sunny so damp clothing was no big deal.

Children love produce and and they love water. So it doesn't get much better than dunking potatoes in a bowl of water and scrubbing them with a wash rag. This is a popular activity at our house and begins about when they can sit in a high chair. The children will spend so much time washing the produce that I will eventually have to order them to give over the vegetable for food prep. Today the almost-5-yr and 24 mos. were participating.

After washing the potatoes, the almost-5-yr and 7 yr olds were given the task of peeling potatoes while I helped the 24 mos. use the potato water to water the plants (so she would not be trying to take their peelers away). She loved pouring the water from the bowl through the funnel this time, but I made the mistake of using all the water in one trip so the distraction activity was not nearly long enough.

It just so happened that the 7 yr who is well acquainted with a peeler was using her peeler to stab the potato and therefore lost the privilege of peeling and given the privilege of distracting the 24 month old. Oh, the joys of parenting.

I greatly assisted in the orderliness of these pictures, though it is my hope that I will some day succeed in teaching my children the "clean up" routine so that it will become habit, requiring no thought from them nor direction from me.

There were other things I wanted to add to this post, but this will have to do for now!

May the LORD reward your work, and your wages be full from the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge.
Ruth 2:12

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Canada Geese Nesting on our Pond

We have been thrilled to watch a pair of Canada geese nesting on our neighborhood's pond. In a neighborhood of 1500 homes, we greatly appreciate ANY glimpses of creation. The female goose has not left her nest in at least a week and the gander (male goose) keeps watch usually from the pond.

Did you know that the geese go through a molting phase and during that phase they cannot fly? Then they regrow their flight feathers and their goslings grow their first flight feathers and off they go. I also thought it was interesting that the gander is incredibly protective of the eggs, but once the goslings hatch, the parents will sometimes care for goslings other than their own.

The pictures on this post are (1) the gander coming to tell us to buzz off (2) the goose on her nest and (3) a picture of the landscape surrounding the nest.

The following links have info on the Canada geese which I then used to teach the kids and create pictures cards:

Great Plains Nature Center
U.S. Humane Society
Canada Geese and Parasites Article
Personal Account of Canada Geese Nesting

And we found out at that it is illegal in the States to collect native bird feathers (to protect the birds). The site that has that information has GREAT bird information, like pictures and labels of feather types, bird diagrams, and more.

I used the printables maker at to create pictures cards with labels. The search engine was able to find pictures of goslings, a nesting goose, a swimming goose, a flight in v-formation, a clutch of eggs, and a molted feather (I didn't know birds molt!). I am still trying to figure out how I can post those picture cards.

I love homeschooling - I never would have researched Canada goose unless God had forced us to homeschool - now I can't get enough!

But now ask the beasts, and let them teach you;
    And the birds of the heavens, and let them tell you.
Or speak to the earth, and let it teach you;
    And let the fish of the sea declare to you.
Who among all these does not know
    That the hand of the LORD has done this,
In whose hand is the life of every living thing,
    And the breath of all mankind?

Job 12:7-10

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Continent Study at the Zoo

Sweet Daddy took us to the zoo today. It was a spur of the moment trip and my 7 yr asked if i could make the trip into a scavenger hunt (a GREAT teaching tool we've used previously). Instead of making a list for her, we grabbed a piece of paper, a pencil, and our world continents map and went on our way.

Our zoo has a continents map on each animal exhibit. The kids (7 and 4) have been hearing alot about South America - its animals and the rainforest and Amazon river. So first we decided to make a list of all the animals at the zoo that were from South America. There were only three, so it was an easy assignment. And then we decided to tally the number of animals from each continent on the continent map. The race was close between Africa and Asia, but Africa won in the end.

We only spent a little over an hour at the zoo before it closed and we practically ran to the different exhibits, but the kids had a blast and we only skipped a few exhibits due to time. I can't wait to see what God will teach us on our next visit to the zoo!

So they went into the ark to Noah, by twos of all flesh in which was the breath of life. Those that entered, male and female of all flesh, entered as God had commanded him; and the LORD closed it behind him.
Genesis 7:15-16

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tent Caterpillars - Webs in Trees

Wow! The tent caterpillars have made their webs in the trees and there are TONS of them crawling in and out of the webs. Honestly they gross me out but the kids are fascinated. Unfortunately, the tent caterpillars are destructive little things and a third of the leaves on the most infested tree are gone.

We did not know the name of the caterpillars so we called our local nature center and they gave us the "tent" caterpillar name. After researching on the web, we found their life cycle and more interesting facts like predators and natural protection methods.

Life Cycle and Pictures
Moth Picture
Natural Pest Control

If we were organized, I might print the pictures of the moth and different life stages and make them into cards. Then I'd put a circular item on the floor and tell a story about grandmother moth, etc. going around the circle. We did that for the frog life cycle and my 4 yr still practices the story with the life cycle cards by himself. We used the bottom of my sewing tin as our circular container. Thank you Lord for these fun yet simple ideas! The favorite parts of the story might involve some predator action but the kids remember and understand it!

"I smote you with scorching wind and mildew;
And the caterpillar was devouring
Your many gardens and vineyards, fig trees and olive trees;
Yet you have not returned to Me," declares the LORD.

Amos 4:9

Monday, April 13, 2009

States 101

The kids (7 and 4) fight over our interactive globe and like to be quizzed on states, countries, and continents that they know. Inspired by Montessori map studies, we ventured into the realm of pin-pushing a state (from the U.S.) to learn some new states in a fun fashion.

My 7 yr old picked Iowa which I of course knew NOTHING about and so began the hunt. Found some fun stuff. And 7 yr liked most of it - except the part where I mistakenly thought she might like to read a Wikipedia page about Iowa (I liked it) - gotta stick to the "living books" as Charlotte Mason would call them.

The best sites we have found for doing history research are museum websites. Many times they will have interactive games and booklists for children. The following games were a hit for my 7 yr.

President Hoover Hats - Interactive with Fun Facts
Iowa State Symbols and Facts Quiz
Historical Iowa Farm Picture Quiz

State Symbols Pictures


Montessori Journey - United States Pin Pushing

State Nomenclature and Abbreviations - Pictures of Flag, Bird, Flower, etc.
United States Maps

Numbers in a row:an Iowa number book / written by Patricia A. Pierce

* Laura Ingalls Wilder who wrote "Little House on the Prairie" lived in Iowa with her family for a short time.
* Corn Palaces (yes, miniature palaces made of corn) were built in Iowa to celebrate the corn harvest in the late 1800's.

Now when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. Nor shall you glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the needy and for the stranger. I am the LORD your God.
Leviticus 19:9-10

Teacher blogging about her Montessori classroom.


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Freed Slave and Pioneer

Many of our field trips have included trips to former plantations since we live in the southern United States. These former plantations provide a wonderful opportunity to teach our children about slavery. Today we read a book about a freed slave who bravely searched the country for her daughter who had been sold apart from her when she was 10 years old. As usual, I could barely finish reading aloud to my daughter. We live in such a cushy world with our field trips and soccer. May we not forget what has gone on before us and what still goes on today.

Aunt Clara Brown Offical Pioneer

Apology from a Racist

O Lord, I beseech You, may Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant and the prayer of Your servants who delight to revere Your name
Nehemiah 1:11

Montessori Spanish
Wide range of topics in a Montessori education.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Creek Time, Habitats, Palm Leaf Cross Craft, More...

Animals and their Habitats
Tundra, Rainforest, Ocean, Desert. Kids loved matching the animals to the habitats. Though I had to look online to know where they lived!
Habitat Quiz
Tundra, grassland, woodland, rainforest, desert. Somewhat informative. Advanced for 7 yr old but she likes a challenge as long as it is on the computer.
Rainforest Lapbook
We are way too disorganized to do such a thing but what fun for a kid - if the parent is not too critical and allows much creative freedom.

One of our favorite outdoor activities is creek time. A short walk from our house is a small creek that the kids adore. The 7 and 4 yr olds spend between 5-20 minutes exploring. The 24 month old plays in the stroller with the wildflowers, sticks, or nuts that I give her. The big kids need little direction or inspiration. There are rocks, sticks, bark, snails, ladybugs, wildflowers, and oh so much more! There are fluid mechanics, botany, biology, ecology, and the God of creation in every visit.

On the 2nd day of taking an 8 yr old neighbor with us to the creek, she said it was the "best day of her life - well, except for yesterday" (the first day we took her to the creek).

Kids love the outdoors and I prayed God would help me get them outside more often. It was torture for me. Then my mother became ill, and out of necessity we had to be out of the house to keep it quiet for my mom who passed away a short time later. So from tragedy comes one of many blessings - we now go outside almost every day even in extremely cold weather. It is WONDERFUL! (Though I confess I do not always want to go.)

Cross Craft from Palm Leaves
I made them - kids were busy taping them to their other crafts which included egg collages made from broken dyed egg shells (from nature center class). FUN!

Create Your Own Nomenclature Cards Online
AWESOME! Creates cards with your words and site searches Internet to find matching pictures.

God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
Genesis 1:31

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Frog Frenzy, Online Games, New Links

Our local nature center offered a class for little ones about eggs today. Did you know that in springtime frogs lay their eggs in clusters and toads lay their eggs like a necklace? I thought frogs were toads!

My daughter saw life cycle diagrams in some of our library books and spontaneously began creating life cycle diagrams of her own one day. Butterflies and frogs are especially fun life cycles because there are so many stages. Below are links to frog life cycles as well as a quick introduction for us that are clueless.

Frog Life Cycle Cards
Frog Life Cycle Description
Frog Life Cycle and Diagram
Life Cycle Cards for Ants, Frogs, Butterflies, Ladybugs (free registration)
Frog Life Cycle Work from Montessori Teacher

If your town has a local nature center or if there are ranger sponsored events close to you at nearby parks, your kids will learn more in one trip than a month of reading about nature.

Today, the naturalist flipped over a lily pad in the pond and on the bottom was a black snail and lots of snail eggs. Then they dug into a heap of brush and dirt for worms. In another pond, the kids saw the tadpoles and a turtle hanging out on a rock. For moms who cannot tolerate the outdoors, it's a wonderful opportunity to create a love for nature in your kids with the help of a nature lover.

For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
Romans 8:19-21


Homemade Montessori
The Learning Ark
Chasing Cheerios
Montessori Homeschool

Homemade Montessori
Great homemade science classification cards.
Making Learning Fun
Creative learning printables with countless themes and seasons.

Grocery School - Spring Flowers

Monday is grocery day. Weekends we save for Daddy time so by Monday, we are short on supplies. God's lesson plan for the last few weeks at the grocery has been on seasonal flowers, especially bulb flowers right now. As I see them popping up in our neighbors' yards, I show the kids. And them comes grocery day. Great time for review and the kids love it.

If you're curious, we are just passing daffodil and hyacinth season, and entering tulip season with lilies on the horizon. And no, we did not study this in a book. This is just from taking walks or looking out the car window, and then taking a trip to the grocery.

And getting a book from the library would be a wonderful next step if I could stop getting overdue charges that prevent me from reserving books. Baby steps, baby steps.

Here are some coloring sheets that I may have the kids paint in one way or another. Or maybe not. Or we could make a matching game with the flower and name. Or maybe not.


List of Flowers with coloring pages:
Flowers by Month

Monday, March 30, 2009

Laundry Detail

Laundry used to be a constant burden on the whole household - me because I couldn't get it all washed, folded, and put away before the next big heave-ho, my husband because he never knew the location of his socks (he's not allowed to do the laundry - I'm way too picky on how it has to be done), and the children because they never had clean underwear and they could not walk 5 feet before tripping over dirty or clean stacks of laundry. Oh, how times have changed. The kids and I (almost 2, 4, 7) now sort and wash all the laundry on Monday, and then sort, fold, and put away all the laundry on Tuesday. It's a miracle and still continues to amaze me.

Our best strategy has been to sort the clean laundry into piles on the floor. One stack for Daddy, one for Mommy, one for Daddy socks, one for Mommy socks, etc. Whatever makes sense to your system. If you're a clean and tidy person, you could lay a sheet or blanket on the floor. Then we divide up the piles and get to work.

Note we do get a little complaining once the skills have been acquired, but during the training process the kiddos really enjoyed these practical life activities (when I was not being critical mommy over their shoulder). My 7-year-old literally sings the whole time she sorts or folds, so it must not be too bad.

Toddler Jobs
- throw items in specified stack (clean or dirty)
- stretch out washcloths or socks or anything else
- hang small items on racks
- carry small stacks to drawers
- pour clothes detergent, etc.
- push buttons on laundry machines
- put clothes in washer, dryer, basket

Toddler Graduate Jobs
- sort clean clothes (even 2 year olds know which socks are Daddy's)
- stack matched socks
- fold socks
- roll/fold washcloths

- put specified clothes into waasher, dryer, basket independently
- fold their own clothes (don't be too picky) on the floor
- put away their own clothes
- fold towels
- hang their shirts on the floor
- match socks
- fold socks inside one another

- sort most of the family's clean clothes
- sort most of the family's dirty clothes
- fold any type of clothing
- change setting on washer or dryer

School Age
- all of it

- play texture game (match socks by blindly feeling row of socks)
- fold blankets and sheets with kiddos and give kisses when matching corners

(changes every couple months)

Sunday Night
Mom - carry baskets of dirty laundry downstairs Sunday night
Mom - throw in load of towels and set aside sheet load for morning

Monday Morning
Mom - thow towels in dryer and throw sheets in washer
4 Yr - sort the dirty clothes with Mom while 7 Yr fixes breakfast
2 Yr - help sort or cook or stack plates and bowls from dishwasher

Monday throughout Day
Mom (and whoever is available) - Keep running loads and dumping clean clothes baskets upstairs

Monday Night
Mom - carry up baskets and hang wet clothes

Tuesday Morning
7 or 4 yr - sort clean clothes while others work in kitchen

Tuesday Mid-Morning
Mom - fold Mom and Dad's clothes, Dad's socks, and sheets
7 yr - fold Mom and Dad's white socks, kitchen items, own clothes (not many), baby clothes
4 yr - fold own clothes (has LOTS of clean clothes), towels
2 yr - play by hanging washcloths or stretching out small items
All (esp. 2 yr) - put everything you folded away

Every one of the above steps requires some training time but then let them fly. Currently, I do alot of the moving clothes from washer to dryer and carrying baskets just because it suits our current work routine. But they do ALOT and I am so proud of them. My daugher was 6 when she first folded the entire family's laundry - not that I ask her to do that on a regular basis - but I was amazed that we could raise such independent, capable kids (though they have their issues). It took me 34 years to do what she did at 6 years old. WOW!

I will make them and the places around My hill a blessing And I will cause showers to come down in their season; they will be showers of blessing.
Ezekiel 34:26

"Just Do It" Ideas

As unschoolers, we love creative ideas that we can quickly implement when we have a moment of free time in our day. If I find ideas on other blogs for quick grab education and if we have items in our home that we can substitute, I bookmark them under "Do It" in my favorites. Some of these ideas we have tried and some will never be attempted due to our erratic schooling, but here are the ones I thought would be easy for us to duplicate in one way or another:

Laundry Activity
Sort and Count the Eggs
Easter Graph work
Rotten Egg Game
Discovering Pitch With Water
Clothespins in Soda Bottle
Sink and Float With Washers
Mortar and Pestle
Fingerprints on Traced Hand
Playdough - Small Amount
Grace and Courtesy Games
Measuring Spoons and Wax Paper
Pins in a Shaker
Weave Construction Paper
Scrub Egg Soaked in Soda
Caterpillars from Egg Cartons
Parts of the Blood
Paint by Blowing thru a Straw
Coins in Salt and Vinegar
Pepper in Water with Soap/Sugar
Foot Paintings
Transfering Seashells by the S...
Hang it on a stick
Marble Art

You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.
Deuteronomy 6:5-7

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Inspiration from Penn and Teller

Penn Jillette from Penn & Teller (magician, comedian, outspoken aetheist) gives an incredible testimony of a man sharing his faith with him after one of his shows

How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, "HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!"
Romans 10:15

Thanks Be To God

I have loved you with an everlasting love;
Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.

Jeremiah 31:3b

Each day in the life of our household is a miracle. Without God's everlasting love and grace, we would not be a family much less a family that has food on the table each day and that gets the laundry done each week. And it has been baby steps all the way with the glory going to our Heavenly Father.

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness,
and all these things will be added to you.

Matthew 6:33

We are a family who has to lean on God because we cannot lean on ourselves. As the youngest of five, I was taught how to love others unconditionally, but I was not taught how to care for a home or for children.

And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness"
II Corinthians 12:9a

After having children, God has had to teach me how to do even the smallest details from making a bed to changing diapers to peeling an apple to vacuuming to putting dirty clothes in the laundry basket. And He has much more work to do. Baby steps, baby steps.

But He said, " The things that are impossible with people are possible with God."
Luke 18:27

We homeschool because He gives us our lesson plan each day, knowing at this point in our lives we are unable to make a schedule much less stick to a schedule. Along this journey with the Lord in homeschooling, He has given us wonderful gifts of other moms that blog and share resources. This blog is His gift to my friends who desire to learn more from others.

The LORD bless you, and keep you;
The LORD make His face shine on you,
And be gracious to you;
The LORD lift up His countenance on you,
And give you peace.

Number 6:24-26