Blog, She Wrote Top Ten Posts for 2013

Blog, She Wrote: Top Ten for 2013It’s been a great blogging year for Blog, She Wrote. In January we moved from Blogger to WordPress and streamlined our look and organization. I’m still working on some of that, but I’ve tried more than ever to create relevant content for you all.

Most Popular Blog, She Wrote Posts for 2013

Blog, She Wrote: Top Ten Toys for Open Ended Play

Top Ten Toys for Open Ended Play- This is my ultimate list of long lasting toys for creative play. We love the things on this list. Do you enjoy any of the same things?

Blog, She Wrote: Life of Fred {Homeschool Math}

Life of Fred {Homeschool Math}- This post is very popular! Enjoy a look at how we use Life of Fred math from elementary through high school and why.

Blog, She Wrote: Organizing Your Homeschool Library

Organizing Your Homeschool Library- This is an older post that is still viewed often. I need to update this post to show our new home’s arrangement, but the basic organization is the same.

Blog, She Wrote: Teaching Sewing in Your Homeschool {Whether or Not You Sew}

Teaching Sewing in Your Homeschool {Whether or Not You Sew!}- This was part of my five day series on Teaching Sewing in Your Homeschool. Full of ideas, projects, how to mentor are all there. Have a look.

Blog, She Wrote: Ten Things That Make a Great Homeschool Day

Ten Things That Make a Great Homeschool Day- I love this post. It shares the elements that make a joyful and productive day of homeschooling in our home. Among my favorites are reading, projecting, and collaborating. What makes a great day in your homeschool?

Blog, She Wrote: Adventure Box Themes

Adventure Box Themes- The first in a series of Adventure Box ideas in a ten day Hopscotch Series. This one features a video on exactly what Adventure Boxes are and how they can pour into your kids’ passions.

Blog, She Wrote: Working with a Bright, Occasionally Motivated High Schooler

Working with a Bright & Occasionally Very Motivated High Schooler: Tips & Tricks- The details on how we work with our high schooler to set goals and help him to see them through. I tried to share how we work with a student who isn’t always ideally motivated. I bet a lot of us have smart kids who like to sit back some.

Blog, She Wrote: Summer Fun Close to Home

Our {Close to Home} Summer Bucket List- Otherwise known as how to have fun close to home in the summer! We were grounded from traveling when my husband fell and had a severe sprain in his ankle which resulted in five large blood clots in his leg. We aimed to enjoy our time near to home and it was a fabulous summer.

Blog, She Wrote: Robin Cam

Robin Cam- Does anyone remember our robin cam from the spring? Dan set up a camera to capture the nesting season for a pair of robins who set up camp in a potted plant we were given as an encouragement when Dan was injured. Right on the table on our back porch we got an up close look. The videos are still viewable if you’d like to do a little spring dreaming. Just go from the bottom up to see the series.

Blog, She Wrote: Our Learning Environment

Our Learning Spaces: A Tour- The title says it all. This is the grand tour of our homeschool spaces. This post makes me smile.

Thank you for being a reader at Blog, She Wrote. If you’ve never taken the time to subscribe, please do so now and enjoy Blog, She Wrote in your inbox.

Happy 2014! I can’t wait to share more practical homeschooling advice and encouragement in the coming year.

Adventures in Chemistry

I can’t believe it’s the last day for the Spring 2012 Hopscotch! I’ve been having a great time with these posts! Today’s Adventure Box Theme is Chemistry.

I believe that the science of chemistry alone almost proves the existence of an intelligent creator. – Thomas Edison

Blog She Wrote: Adventures in Chemistry

Blog She Wrote: Adventures in Chemistry

Exploring The Periodic Table of the Elements:

Blog She Wrote: Adventures in Chemistry

Blog She Wrote: Adventures in Chemistry

J7 adores Home Science Tools! He will spend forever paging through the catalog. I’ve often thought I should get him a Fisher Scientific catalog and that would keep him busy for days.

For Christmas, we went through the catalog to buy his gifts. He got a motor building kit, a physics kit, and a spectroscope analysis kit. Dan had made the comment that we should be buying this kid toys- not real science stuff! What happened to his childhood we wondered aloud…but J7 is an engineer, a scientist through and through. There is no stopping his brain!

So, when he opened this kit and Dan tried to explain it to him, J7 stopped him and said I know what it is! It’s a quantitative spectroscope! It measures wavelengths of light! He was beside himself with joy.

Finally, the day came to not only use the spectroscope but also to do the flame test. E14 has been studying wavelength and measurement in his high school chemistry course so this was a family affair.

Blog She Wrote: Adventures in Chemistry

J7 was already an expert at looking at light through the scope, but Dan worked with the other kids to explain it before we began. He was in charge of the chemical compounds and the flames.

Blog She Wrote: Adventures in Chemistry

We used our gas stove as the source for the heat to burn the compounds. Different elements produce different colored flames. You use the spectroscope to record the wave lengths of light that the flame produces.

Blog She Wrote: Adventures in Chemistry

As they looked through the spectroscope, they recorded the wavelengths on a sheet which Dan had prepared for them.

Blog She Wrote: Adventures in Chemistry

When we were all finished, the kids had to match the bands on their sheets with the known wavelength distribution of each element/compound to determine what it was. A kit like this makes great fun in an Adventure Box, but obviously an activity like this one needs adult participation.

Blog She Wrote: Adventures in Chemistry

Part of any good chemistry Adventure is having the proper tools. What do you need to have on hand to do chemistry?

  • graduated cylinder- the one we have is glass, but I recommend a polypropylene one for safety
  • beakers
  • scale- we use our digital kitchen scale which sometimes is not quite sensitive enough, but we manage.
  • watch glass- is a convex circle of glass that can easily cover a beaker
  • Household items- such as Borax, starch, or containers if you don’t have scientific glassware

Of course, you can do chemistry without all these specific items but I’ve started to purchase glassware because I want the science equipment for the science stuff and my kitchen stuff for food!

Blog She Wrote: Adventures in Chemistry

Activity Books for Enjoying Chemistry:

  • Cooking & Science- from Rainbow Resource
  • Cooking & Science for Elementary Students
  • Kid Concoctions- written by John and Danita Thomas. These books have fabulous recipes for all kinds of goo and fun solutions. I’ve seen the authors speak on two different occasions and their story is fantastic. They came up with all of the concoctions as a way to reduce screen time in their family and spend time together. I have a 10th anniversary volume with all four books in it.
  • Super Science Concoctions
  • Chemistry for Every Kid- or any other Janice VanCleave science fair book with chemistry
  • Janice VanCleave’s Molecules- great projects showing evidence of molecules

There are lots of books on the market to engage kids with chemistry…many of them are disguised as “concoctions”. Enjoy browsing the various titles!

At our house, my older kids simply ask permission to work with the Kid Concoctions books and they whip up recipes of all kinds that way. R12 really loves to get her hands dirty and will play with this stuff for a long time.

Blog She Wrote: Adventures in Chemistry

Activity Kits for Chemistry Fun:

Kits are great because they come with everything you need except for household items like vinegar, etc. The equipment is all there along with any powdered chemicals and large test tubes. Usually, they are marketed to the younger crowd too so the experiments are pretty straight forward and easy to follow.

Blog She Wrote: Adventures in Chemistry

Chemistry with Dyes:

I’ve already mentioned a few ways we’ve used dyes at our house, but these can be a lot of fun. Check out these links to see the ways we’ve used dye chemistry in our homeschool.

Blog She Wrote: Adventures in Chemistry

Chemistry is a good time! My kids love it- some love it a lot. These are resources and ideas we’ve used at various times, but you could easily put something together for a Chemistry Themed Adventure Box.

Keep in mind that my husband is a chemical engineer and I’m a biologist. We do a lot of science stuff at our house because that’s how we have fun. However, there are so many great products out there for kitchen chemistry including kits which make doing and explaining chemistry very easy. How about giving it a try?

Thank you for joining me for this Hopscotch Series. I’m sad to see it come to an end! So, I thought it would be fun to continue to share Adventure Box Themes with you in the coming weeks as we head into summer. If you have ideas for themes or would like to see one in particular, I can do my best to find resources. Let me know what you think!

Hopscotch-With-iHN-Spring-Collage2Be sure to check out the other bloggers who are sharing a series this week through iHN’s Spring 2013 Hopscotch.

Adventures with Yarn!

Can yarn really be adventurous? If you are a creative soul, then the answer is yes! (just ask Gandalf below about adventure!) Yarn is easy to come by and easy to work with and it offers many hours of crafty goodness.

This Adventure Box Theme is all about yarn. You’ll learn a few things you can try with yarn, where to learn about yarn projects, and what you need to put together a great Yarn Adventure Box. There are also a few benefits to using yarn to create and I’ll mention those as well. Enjoy!

Note: You might want to visit my Yarn Fun Pinterest Board for more ideas at any time and please follow along. We get so many fun projects from those pins! I pin mainly for R12 and though she is not a Pinterest member, she is a Pinterest consumer. I pin for her and she creates to her heart’s delight. It’s a great relationship we have going!

Blog She Wrote: Yarn Adventure

A few years ago, R12 decided to put together a “Knit Kit” for her younger cousins to enjoy using yarn. I thought it would provide an excellent model for your Adventure with Yarn.

Blog She Wrote: Yarn Adventure

What Goes into a Yarn Adventure Box?

  • Yarn! All kinds of colors of yarn- acrylic is the least expensive and the most versatile (in my experience), but there are occasions when cotton or wool yarn is best. We’ll high light yarn choice if it’s important.
  • Knitting needles- if you want your child to learn to knit
  • Crochet hook- for learning to crochet
  • Spool knitter- easy to learn and fun to do for younger kids
  • Knifty Knitters- very easy to learn for knitting on a loom
  • Weaving Loom and Bobbin- from cardboard
  • Pom Pom Maker- made from cardboard
  • Scissors
  • Yarn needles- large plastic needle with a large eye
  • Easter egg dye- if you want to try any yarn dying

Blog She Wrote: Yarn Adventure

R12 worked hard to provide printed tutorials and website links including good videos from You Tube for her Knit Kits.

Blog She Wrote: Yarn Adventure

So, what sorts of things can you do with yarn?

  • knitting- the good old fashioned kind with two knitting needles
  • crochet- also a long time staple
  • finger knitting- great fun for beginners
  • knifty knitting- requires the loom and allows kids to knit on a loom with great results. The looms come in different sizes and shapes depending on what you are making and what size.
  • finger crochet- similar to finger knitting and neither require anything but yarn and know how
  • weaving- on a loom but cardboard looms are pretty easy to make
  • pom pom making- make little balls of yarn for all kinds of uses

Blog She Wrote: Yarn Adventure

If you can read these, feel free to use the directions for your own Adventures with Yarn!

Blog She Wrote: Yarn Adventure

Blog She Wrote: Yarn Adventure

Online Resources for Learning Yarn Crafts:

Craftsy- This website is dedicated to teaching crafts via video classes. We love Craftsy classes! There many class on crochet and knitting from beginner to advanced skill levels. The great thing about a Craftsy class is being able to watch it anytime from anywhere and as many times as you’d like. It’s very cost effective especially if you purchase the classes on sale. Sales happen often so I usually wait for a good one before buying. Once you purchase the class, you have access to it forever.

Crochet School- R12 learned to crochet some basics from a book, but her crocheting really took off when she was given the link to Crochet School. The videos have been really helpful to her and she reads patterns well now too.

Other Online Sources- Obviously any search on You Tube or other favorite spots will give you tutorials and resources, but the first two I mentioned have been invaluable in our home.

Blog She Wrote: Yarn Adventure

Blog She Wrote: Yarn Adventure

Books on Yarn Crafts:

Blog She Wrote: Adventures with Yarn

Have you ever dyed yarn?

We did a project a while ago now where we dyed yarn using Easter egg dyes. This is a definite do again! R12 has used many of her dyed yarns in projects. In fact, the orange flower below made with a knifty knitter is one we dyed together.  This project was so much fun to do and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it. You’ll need wool yarn for this project because it will take up the dye- synthetic yarns do not take up dye well. If you’d like directions on how to dye yarn, click through for more specifics.

Blog She Wrote: Yarn Adventure

Blog She Wrote: Yarn Adventure

What about Yarn Crafts for Younger Kids?

There are a variety of ways you can encourage yarn fun with young kids who don’t have the dexterity yet for knitting and crocheting:

  • weaving- the cardboard looms can be large and easy on little hands
  • Knifty Knitters- are a large loom and even little hands can work them easily. The process is easy too. J7 is a great Knifty Knitter!
  • Lacing cards- with a yarn needle and a lacing card. Or you can put tape on the end of the yarn instead of using a needle
  • Plastic Canvas- You can make tapestry art with yarn, a yarn needle, and plastic canvas. Good times for little fingers.
  • Finger Knitting/Crocheting- easier to get the hang of and doesn’t require manipulating needles or a hook

Blog She Wrote: Yarn Adventure

Blog She Wrote: Yarn Adventure

How about Some Cool Patterns?

  • Gandalf- I bet some of you are wondering about the Gandalf at the top of the post. He’s a fine example of amigurumi (sort of 3D crochet) and she made patterns for his clothes (the subject of another post). You’ll find many Lord of the Rings characters on that blog. Have fun!
  • Crochet Pattern Central- a source for lots of cool patterns
  • Crochet Flower- by Eggbird Designs
  • Little Stuffed Owl- at Crafty is Cool
  • Owl Crochet Patterns- including the one you see in the pictures. R12 has made a ton of these which is so fun. A few people have purchased them from her and she likes to put one of the bags in with the sewing jobs she does- with her business card tucked inside.
  • More Owls- did you know owls are huge right now? Who doesn’t love a cute little owl?

These are all crochet patterns that R12 sent to me for this post. She adores crocheting! You can’t find her anywhere without her yarn! Don’t forget to visit my Yarn Fun Pinterest Board for more ideas and patterns for all sorts of yarn fun.

Blog She Wrote: Adventures with Yarn

Benefits of Yarn Crafting:

  • Portable- you can take your projects anywhere from dr’s offices to long car trips, you can have your yarn with you for working.
  • Keeps Hands Busy- R12 listens much better when her hands are moving. She will crochet anywhere where she needs to be still. It’s amazing how much more attentive she is when her hands are busy.
  • Satisfying- you can make some really wonderful things with yarn. It’s an inexpensive endeavor which provides many hours of fun
  • Improves Fine Motor Skills- you’ll need to have some fine motor ability to start, but once you get going, your skill improves all the time

Blog She Wrote: Adventures with Yarn

Blog She Wrote: Yarn Adventure

This is a lovely Adventure Box Theme for a child who loves to work with her hands. My boys like to work with yarn too and do projects on occasion when they are inspired. So, it’s not strictly a girl adventure if you are looking for something a little different. Or perhaps yarn could be part of another adventure for a boy. Think outside the convention!

Yarn is inexpensive and readily available. There are tons of resources online and through library books. Yarn is easy to use and it’s very portable. Kids on a yarn adventure could go anywhere and still work with their yarn. So, how about putting together an Adventure with Yarn and see what creativity blooms!

Hopscotch-With-iHN-Spring-Collage2Be sure to check out the other bloggers who are sharing a series this week through iHN’s Spring 2013 Hopscotch.