Old Keyboard — English

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We hit upon this idea totally by accident.  My daughter brought an old computer keyboard to me yesterday and asked how to spell my name.  I told her and then pointed out each letter in turn for her to push.  Why did I never think of teaching her letters using an old computer keyboard?!

She went on to ask how to spell her own name and those of other family members.  After typing in several names, there were a few letters which she recognized without my prompting.

The keyboard could also be used to teach a child their numbers (assuming it has a number pad), or even the different punctuation marks and symbols.  And if your child practices spelling, this would be a fun method for them to key in their spelling words!

If you have an old keyboard lying around, why don’t you pull it out and have some fun with it?

Roy G. Biv with Licorice

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I had some Twizzler Rainbow Twists left over from a church snack, so the kids and I used them to learn that Roy G. Biv can help us remember the colors of the rainbow.  I cut the pieces in half and gave each kid their own set.  Then they took turns identifying the colors in the Roy G. Biv’s name and putting their pieces in order.

It’s a fun and simple way to help your kids learn their colors!

R – red

O- orange

Y – yellow

G – green

B – blue

I – indigo (no indigo licorice, but explain to your kids that it’s between blue and violet)

V – violet

Marshmallow Painting — Art

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This is a very easy art method to use with your children.  We simply squirted out blobs of different colored tempera paint onto foam plates and dot-painted with marshmallows.

You can use mini, regular-sized or jumbo ones.  You can even find novelty-shaped marshmallows during the holidays.

Just be prepared to let your kids eat a few marshmallows on the side!

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My youngest daughter enjoyed making an abstract picture.

Cake Decorating – Art

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Cake decorating is a fun, edible form of artwork that you can do with your children!  The cake above is one that we did for Halloween one year.  My son found the design in a book and asked if we could recreate it.  We were very happy with the results.

The thing I like best about this type of cake is that it doesn’t depend on stellar frosting skills.  As long as you can get a basic coating of frosting on there, the rest is fairly simple.  It’s just a matter of assembling the different components and arranging them on the cake.  This is my favorite way of decorating cakes.

Decorating a cake this way, as opposed to using six different colors of frosting, five different decorating tips, and several custom cake decorating gadgets, is so easy that your kids could even lead the charge.  And there’s something magical about a cake when the design becomes 3-D.

Your kids will learn all about design, mixing colors, food artistry, flow and form, and how to translate their design into physical components.  It’s a great learning opportunity and you get to eat it when it’s done!  What could be better?

Mini Magnetic Canvas – Art

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I found these awesome little magnetic canvases at Walmart on my last shopping trip.  They’re in the arts and crafts section.  The kids had the option of using paint or markers, and they all opted for markers.

Now the kids’ artwork is displayed on the fridge.  This was a fun and easy art project and it’s totally open-ended, so that kids can express themselves in whatever way they wish.

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I traced the canvas on some scrap paper and gave the kids templates to plan out their designs before they tackled the canvases.  This one is from Son #2.  He likes designing crazy-looking people and aliens.

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Rocks & Minerals Activity Kit

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We recently ordered the Rock & Mineral Collection Activity Kit from Dancing Bear on Amazon.  We’ve been wanting to explore samples like these ever since our trip to a nearby cave, but their prices at the store were exorbitant.

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This handy little kit came in a medium-small box.  It included an identification sheet with clear pictures and labeling (quite helpful for this mom who couldn’t identify rocks if her life depended on it).  It also came with a nice assortment of shark’s teeth, two arrowheads, an amethyst cluster, and two geodes that we could break open ourselves.  And just look at how beautiful these specimens are!  Fancy jewelry can’t even compare to the beautiful patterns in these rocks that come straight from the earth!

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I have to say that I’m very impressed by this little kit!  It kept my five kids busy looking at and classifying the different specimens for quite some time.  It also introduced them to the wonder of rocks, minerals and gems in a very hands-on way.  I love sparking children’s interest by allowing them to learn through hands-on exploration!

Some of the rocks in this kit have not been tumbled, so we were inspired to buy a rock tumbler to see what they will look like once they’re all polished.  We also checked out a couple of videos about geodes on Youtube and want to try out some geode hunting for ourselves.

I highly recommend this kit or something similar as an excellent supplement to your child’s homeschooling education!

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Field Trip – The Bookstore

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One of the benefits of homeschooling is that you can go on field trips much more frequently than public schools.  It’s much easier for you to plop all your kids in a van and drive however far you need to go, than it is for public schools to get permission slips, collect money, arrange for transportation, find chaperones, etc.  Whether you want to stay close to home, or drive a couple of hours, field trips are an excellent way to supplement your child’s education at home.

Last weekend we went to the local bookstore as a mini field trip.  It was a chance for the kids to get out of the house and have fun looking at books they don’t have at home.  The kids browsed books and picked one out, though we certainly could have skipped buying them anything.  (In fact, I think that next time we may tell them that we won’t be buying–just looking.  We had one child get extra whiny because he couldn’t get the $14 LEGO book.)

Our local bookstore also has a little café, so I got a frozen hot chocolate while the kids were perusing.  If I had gone with only our oldest child, we could have sat and enjoyed a drink together while looking at books.  That may have to be a future trip.

So, if you’re looking for somewhere to take your homeschooling brood, you might want to give the bookstore a try!