Nature Walk Bag

One component of our homeschooling is nature walks. We get outside, enjoy fresh air, and learn about the world around us. We often have several things we need to carry with us for our nature walk time. Instead of packing and unpacking a bag every week, I set up a Nature Walk Bag with some of our important items we need most often. This simple act of organizing our nature walk materials has saved my sanity! We have everything read to grab and go.

Nature Walk Bag for little scientists on the go

What’s in our Nature Walk Bag?

Science Journal–we use this to write or draw things we saw on our nature walks. It may be making a list of the bugs we saw, sketching an interesting flower, or doing a bark rubbing, but we always try to journal about our time outside. The kids also record our science experiments in this journal. For example, the picture below shows the journal page from my Second Grader after Testing for Air Science Experiment.

science journal

Writing Utensils–I put a few pencils and colored pencils in a small pencil bag. I chose colored pencils so I wouldn’t have to worry about melting crayons if I left it in the van.

Binoculars–Part of the reason we have binoculars is because my oldest thinks he needs them for an exploring adventure, but we normally use the binoculars to look at birds or animals from a distance…of course, that depends on how quiet the kids can be before scaring them off.

Bug Catching Kit–My boys love bugs. It is easier to observe insects when you can catch them and get a closer look. We always release them into the wild so they can go about their business…unless the three year old stomps on them.

Magnifying Glasses–Once again, the boys turn into little explorers when they can “play the part” with a special tool. We use these to look at bugs, tree bark, flower parts, and the veins of a leaf.

magnifying glass

Kid Friendly Field Guide–By having a field guide in our bag, we can look up birds, plants, and more. Learning how to use a reference text like this to find information is a skill everyone should have.

We use and love the Fun With Nature Take-Along Guide. It is a compilation of 7 books: Caterpillars, Bugs and Butterflies; Frogs, Toads and Turtles; Snakes, Salamanders and Lizards; Rabbits, Squirrels and Chipmunks; Tracks, Scats and Signs; and Trees, Leaves and Bark.

We also use More Fun With Nature Take Along Guide. It is a compilation of five other Take-Along Guides. It includes: Berries, Nuts and Seeds; Birds, Nests and Eggs; Rocks, Fossils and Arrowheads; Seashells, Crabs and Sea Stars; and Wildflowers, Blooms and Blossoms.

Note: Depending on what we are studying, I choose one of these books. I don’t want to be carrying a heavy bag for long! And let’s face it…mommas end up carrying these sort of things most of the time.

Nature I-Spy Cards–I printed the Nature I-spy Cards from Nature Study Printables for Toddlers and Preschoolers written by friend Maureen over at Spell Outloud. I placed them on rings so they wouldn’t get lost. Little Brother likes these the most.

nature walk

 Need more Nature Study ideas?

Creative-Nature-Walks-3D-Covers-2

Creative Nature Walks has over 100 nature walk ideas that are easy to do! If I didn’t have this ebook and so many of Cindy’s wise words, I would seriously wander around with the kids looking at the same things every week. Cindy has some fantastic ideas packed in this resource. If you are new to nature walks or just need a fresh idea, this is for you. Cindy is my go-to person for Nature Study. She has a ton of nature study resources available!

Follow Sara @ Happy Brown House’s board Easy Science Activities on Pinterest.

Viking Ship Craft for Kids

While learning about Vikings during our Viking Unit Study, the kids wanted to make a Viking boat. Using some common household materials and some recycled materials, we came up with a viking boat that has been played with over and over and extended their learning through small world play. I often find the kids, mainly Jonah, pretending Lego men are Erik the Red on a voyage or Leif Erickson on his way to North America.

Viking Ship Craft for Kids: how to make a Viking Boat using recycled household items.

To make the base of our viking boat, we recycled an orange juice carton. Using a box cutter, I cut the orange juice carton in half.

Make a viking boat out of a recycled orange juice carton

Using brown paint, the kids painted the orange juice carton half.

Make a viking boat from a recycled orange juice carton

While the paint was drying, Jonah was in charge of measuring lines with a ruler on a piece of cardstock and coloring the red stripes on the viking boat sail. (See how I snuck that math measurement skill in there?) When he was finished, I cut the paper in half and trimmed the sail to 7 inches tall and 5 1/2 inches wide. Using hot glue along the top and bottom edges, I reinforced the viking sail with barbeque skewers.

Making a red striped viking boat sail for a viking boat craft for kids.

Once the edges were reinforced, I used my scissors to poke a hole through the top and bottom in the center of the sail. I used a skinny, but sturdy cardboard tube that was recycled from a package of glow sticks. It was the perfect size for the mast.

Making a viking boat for kids with recycled materials

Using the skinny cardboard tube, I threaded the tube through both holes in the paper sail. Then, I hot glued the mast in the center of the boat.

viking ship craft for kids mast assembly

To make the oars, I used a single hole punch to punch three holes in each side of the boat.

How to make a viking ship for kids

Next, we threaded three barbeque skewers into the holes and used some brown craft foam hot glued to each end to form the paddle on the oar.

how to make a viking boat craft for kids

The craft foam was wrapped around both sides of the skewer and hot glued together.

viking ship craft for kids

To make the dragon head on the front of the viking boat, I folded a piece of brown craft foam in half and roughly cut a dragon profile. Using hot glue, I attached the dragon head to the front of the boat. The picture below shows the dragon head unfolded.

how to make a viking boat for kids

And that’s it! A Viking Boat Craft for Kids to pretend and engage in small world play.

Viking Ship Craft for Kids

Viking Ship Craft for Kids

Other Viking Activities for Kids

Enjoy a Viking Lunch during your Viking Unit Study and snuggle up with some Viking Books!

Read This Make That (Viking Snack Edition)

*Affiliate links are present

 Voyage with the Vikings (Imagination Station Series)Voyage with the Vikings (Imagination Station Series)

vikingViking (DK Eyewitness Books)

Leif the LuckLeif the Lucky

Are you following me on Pinterest? I like pretty things and fun kids activities.

Visit Sara @ Happy Brown House’s profile on Pinterest.

Simple Science Experiment for Kids: Testing for Air

We love simple science experiments at our house! The kids love getting to study science concepts through hands-on activities best and are always excited when we have a fun science activity to try. We have been studying air in our science time and took a few minutes to talk about how air is always around us, but we can’t always see it.

Simple Science Experiment for Kids: Testing for Air with only 3 household materials and less than five minutes

Testing for Air

Since air is invisible, it can be a tricky science topic for kids. You can feel air around you when it is windy and you can see leaves move, but you still can’t see air by itself. In order to help the kids “see air” and realize that air is everywhere we did a quick science activity to test for air. Testing for air is a really simple science experiment for kids. With just a few household items, you could set up this experiment in less than five minutes.

You will need:

  • Bowl with water
  • empty drink can or an empty, clear plastic bottle

Directions:

Simple Science Experiment for Kids: Testing for Air. You only need 3 simple household materials  and five minutes.

Push the can or bottle into a bowl of water so it begins to fill up. Watch what happens to the water.

Simple Science Experiment for Kids: Testing for Air with 3 household materials and less than five minutes

You will see bubbles as the water pushes out air from inside the bottle. Most things that look empty are really full of air. So easy and your kids will be amazed!Simple Science Experiment for Kids: Testing for Air with 3 household materials and  less than five minutes

Our Testing for Air Video

I took a video of us performing the simple science experiment for the first time. You’ll notice that I didn’t give them the answer, but gave them thinking time and rephrased my question to help them. I want my kids to learn how to think and work it out. I knew they could get to the answer since we’ve been talking about the science concepts, but you’ll notice that they were talking so fast that other science terms came out. My point? Give the kids plenty of time to think and form their answer before you swoop in and tell them.

Want more air experiments for kids? Check out Science with Air!

Looking for more simple science experiments? Here are a few of our popular science posts:

Simple Science: Observing Worms
Simple Science: How to Make a Volcano
Simple Science: How to Make a Sundial

Follow Sara @ Happy Brown House’s board Easy Science Activities on Pinterest.

 

Don’t forget to enter the HUGE $500 giveaway!

Christopher Columbus Activities for Kids

We’ve been studying Early Explorers at our house in the first few weeks of homeschool. During our Christopher Columbus Unit, we’ve looked at maps of Christopher Columbus’ accidental voyage to North America, made our own versions of the Niña, Pinta, and Santa Maria, and so much more! I’ve pulled together all of the best Christopher Columbus Activities for Kids–snacks, crafts, printables, and more– for inspiration and wanted to share them with you! This list would be perfect for your own Christopher Columbus unit or for Columbus Day Activities for Kids, which is in October.

Note: There is a fantastic giveaway at the bottom of this post! Don’t miss your chance to win!

30+ Christopher Columbus Activities for Kids

Columbus Crafts & Activities for Kids

Have your little one practice cutting skills while making a Columbus Day Collage from Crayon Freckles. Isn’t this one just adorable?

Christopher Columbus Collage

Make a Triple Sail Boat out of simple shapes, craft sticks, and cereal from Reel Mama.

Columbus Day Craft: Triple Sail Boat

Create a sensory experience with this Columbus Day Spice Painting. Kids will be sure to remember that Christopher Columbus was originally trying to find a western trade route to India and China with this activity!

Columbus Day Spice Painting

Make an adorable handprint keepsake with a Handprint Columbus Boat Craft from The View from the Pew.

Handprint Columbus Boat Craft

Give your kids an engineering challenge to design and build a boat that floats. This is a great STEM activity using recycle materials!

Engineer this: Build a boat that floats STEM challenge for kids

Recycle plastic fruit cups from your kids’ lunch box to make some boats to float in the water table. Originally a Thanksgiving & Mayflower Craft, this would still work for Columbus and other explorers.Mayflower craft made from recycled fruit cup

Dig in your recycle bin again and make Egg Carton Columbus Day Boats that really float!

Egg Carton Columbus Day Boats that really float

Still want more boat ideas? Here is a round-up of 18 Boat Crafts for Kids to Make gathered by Kids Activities Blog.18 Boat Crafts for Kids to Make

Columbus Snacks for Kids

Make a healthy Columbus Day Snack with lots of fruits and veggies.

Columbus Day Snack

Serve miniature Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria boats for a Columbus Day Muffin Tin Meal out of shrimp and cheese.

Muffin Tin Meal: Columbus Day Boats

Create a Columbus Day Bento Lunch with an educational twist that is sure to please your little ones!

Columbus Day Bento Lunch

Columbus Printables for Kids

Give your printer a workout and then laminate to your hearts content with these printable activities for Christopher Columbus.

3 Dinosaurs shares a Christopher Columbus Pack that has been updated to include 49 pages of fun! (Ages 2-8)

Christopher Columbus Printable Pack

Royal Baloo has another great Free Christopher Columbus Printable Pack that includes different activities and super cute graphics! (school-age)

Free Christopher Columbus Printable Pack from Royal Baloo

123Homeschool4Me has some super cute Columbus Day Coloring Sheets & Writing Prompts

Columbus Day Coloring Sheets & Writing Prompts

In All You Do has a set of Free Columbus Day Coloring Activities with over 32 coloring pages.

Free Columbus Day Coloring Activities

Columbus Books for Kids

*affiliate links
Don’t forget to pair these fun Christopher Columbus activities with a good book! Some of our favorites include:


Christopher Columbus (Step into Reading, Step 3, Grades 1-3)


You Wouldn’t Want to Sail With Christopher Columbus!: Uncharted Waters You’d Rather Not Cross


Who Was Christopher Columbus?


Follow the Dream: The Story of Christopher Columbus


First Voyage to America: From the Log of the “Santa Maria” (Dover Children’s Classics)


My First Biography: Christopher Columbus


Columbus


Encounter (Voyager Books)

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Kid Blogger Network Fall Round-ups

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Mega Cash Giveaway!

Mega Cash Giveaway! 4 Cash Prizes of $500 given away. Enter from September 19, 2014 through October 15, 2014. What would you do with $500?

I’ve partnered up with some of the bloggers in the Kid Blogger Network to bring you another MEGA CASH Giveaway and a GIANT round-up of posts. Since this is a HUGE giveaway with lots of entries, the giveaway will run from September 19, 2014 to October 15th (4 weeks) to give you time to go through and enter.

Win one of FOUR $500 cash prizes directly in your paypal account! This giveaway is open internationally. You must be 18+ years old to enter. Void where prohibited. No purchase necessary. Winners will be notified via email and have 48 hours to respond before another winner is chosen. Please see detailed terms and conditions below the giveaway for more info.

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Easy Viking Lunch for Kids

We’ve been studying vikings and early explorers at our house lately. One day I decided to get a little creative with the kids’ lunches and prepare a fun and easy viking helmet snack. The kids loved it and have asked for this creative lunch twist every day since!

Need an easy lunch/snack idea for kids? This Easy Viking Lunch is a quick way to add a little fun to lunchtime with simple ingredients you already have at home. Such a cute idea for a viking unit!

How To Make A Viking Lunch

Make a sandwich. Using a knife, I cut off a small portion of the top in an a rounded arch.

viking snack sandwich shape

Next, I peeled a banana, divided it in half, and placed both pieces on the sides of the sandwich, pointing up.

Then, using a broken pretzel stick and some raisins, I embellished the viking hat.

Viking Snack

Eat and enjoy!

My kids really enjoyed this quick and easy treat! Asher gave it two thumbs up.

Two thumbs up for a viking snack

Viking Fun Fact: Horned Viking Hats are actually a myth! Traditional Viking Hats were rounded with a piece that hung down in front of their nose.

 Our Favorite Viking Books to Read after Lunch

Read and Make Viking Lunch

*Affiliate links are present

 Voyage with the Vikings (Imagination Station Series)Voyage with the Vikings (Imagination Station Series)

vikingViking (DK Eyewitness Books)

Leif the LuckLeif the Lucky

Read This Make That (Viking Snack Edition)

Tell me: How do you make reading fun?

Kid Crafts with Kiwi Crate

Kid Crafts with Kiwi Crate-perfect for busy moms!

Disclosure: I received this product for free. I was compensated for my time. All opinions are honest and I was not required to post a positive review.

What is Kiwi Crate?

Kiwi Crate is a monthly kid crafts subscription. They deliver hands-on fun right to your mailbox. Designed for ages 3-8, projects can include arts and crafts, science activities, imaginative play, and more. Everything for 2-3 projects is included in the crate, and there are a variety of Kiwi Crate themes to choose from.

Opening our Kiwi Crate Box

Our Kiwi Crate Experience

We received the “Around the World” Kiwi Crate. (I can’t find a direct link for you on their site since their available themes rotate.) The kids were so excited to get a package just for them and immediately wanted to open it.

Around the World Kiwi Crate

The main craft was a World Flag Banner and the main game was a World Map Game. We chose to make the flag banner on the back porch during a cool morning and waited to play the map game later that evening with daddy.The kids followed the directions for making the flag banner (written and picture directions) without much assistance from me.

Kiwi Crate World Flag Banner Craft

The flag banner was cute and we will hang it in our homeschool room above our world map. We looked at our map to find all the countries represented in our banner. Kiwi Crate Flag Craft

The World Map Game was a great introduction to continents and famous landmarks with a bingo twist. It was perfect for a family game night after dinner! The game was easy enough for our youngest to participate thanks to the color-coded cards, but it was still educational for our oldest who is reading well. He was able to read the quick facts about the landmarks for us. And yes, Asher is walking around saying “Machu Pichu” now. What 2 year old does that?

Kiwi Crate World Map Game

What I Thought of Kiwi Crate

As a naturally crafty mom, I was a bit skeptical of a kid crafts subscription. I wondered if it would be something I could’ve come up with on my own using materials I already had at home. However, Kiwi Crate totally knocked my socks off. Yes, I could’ve made up the craft with materials we already had, but the Kiwi Crate was so much more than just a craft. Our particular Kiwi Crate came with a craft, a game, and an activity book/magazine for further learning exploration, craft ideas, and games.

Kiwi Crate Activities Collage

With three kids, homeschool, extracurricular activities, and just an overall crazy schedule, I appreciated the time Kiwi Crate gave back to me. All I had to do was open the box for the kids and interact. I didn’t have to come up with an idea. I didn’t have to gather or prepare materials. (Let’s face it, that is half the battle!) Kiwi Crate was truly open and go. I was glad to put the time saved in gathering materials to use in other important areas, like prepping dinner.

On a personal note, I haven’t had the time or the energy during the adoption attachment period to put together things like this, so I was excited to have an activity for the kids to do that didn’t require much of me. I’m stretched too thin right now and Kiwi Crate was a lifesaver this month!

Some things I was really impressed with about Kiwi Crate

They thought of everything. Seriously. I was so impressed with everything: peel-and-stick felt, providing scissors, and even a special sticker to wrap around the end of the rope to make threading the rope through the flags easier.

Kiwi Crate thinks of everything!

The activities were fun, engaging, and educational. You know how much that impresses this homeschool momma!

The packaging. Y’all, their packaging is so cute and creative! For example, you can even cut the box down and use it for play with the puppets printed on the packaging. They really pack a lot of fun into one little green box!

Kiwi Crate packaging is even designed for kid crafts and activities

Some things I wish were a little different about Kiwi Crate

We had one meltdown over who was going to make a particular flag and I immediately wished we had more materials so the kids could each make their own flag buntings. After looking on the Kiwi Crate website, I found out there is an option to add-on a sibling set of materials for an extra fee. I am glad for that option, although I probably wouldn’t spend an extra $10 on that option just to avoid a tantrum driven by selfishness.

I loved the clever world map game and wanted to use it over and over. I wish the game pieces were made of cardstock or thicker paper. The game cards were very thin and wouldn’t handle a lot of wear and tear from children. I will laminate these to use in the future and modify the game pieces if needed.

What My Kids Thought of Kiwi Crate

Ultimately, the kids’ opinions are what counts here since it was for them. I asked my kids to talk to me about Kiwi Crate.

What was your favorite thing about Kiwi Crate?
Jonah (7): I liked all of the activities. I can’t pick a favorite!
Lily (5): I liked making the flags.
Asher (a week from 3): I like making da fwags, Momma.

What didn’t you like about Kiwi Crate?
Jonah (7): I had to share it with the others.
Lily (5): I looooved everything! (insert dramatics and jazz hands here)
Asher (a week from 3): Huh? What momma?

Would you like to get another Kiwi Crate?
Jonah (7): YES! Can I have my own this time?
Lily (5): YES! Do they have a princess one?
Asher (a week from 3): YES! Again!

Is a Kiwi Crate Subscription worth it?

Is a Kiwi Crate Subscription Worth It?

I think Kiwi Crate is worth it. I really surprised myself with that statement since I’m such a DIY and frugal girl, but I think boxed craft/activity sets can be beneficial, too. Kiwi Crate is perfect for busy moms or moms that feel planning kid crafts is not their strength. The activities were top-notch and fun for my three kids. I think Kiwi Crate would make a perfect gift! If you like to give “experience gifts” instead of toys, Kiwi Crate would be a hit!

Want to try them yourself?

Use code BTS25 for 25% off 1st month subscription to Kiwi Crate. New subscribers also receive free shipping PLUS a bonus welcome kit.

Kiwi Crate is on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, and Google+. Be sure to follow them! They share great kid crafts ideas on their social media accounts and their newsletter.

2014 Back-to-Homeschool Photos

It’s hard to believe I’m starting my third year “officially” homeschooling! I’ve been working on planning and getting familiar with our 2014 curriculum for a while (hello, tax returns), but I just didn’t have the heart to pull the kids away from summer yet. Well, that, and we’re still finding our new normal after an emergency adoption and a basement renovation. After taking a quick weekend retreat with some iHomeschool Network bloggers, I’m finally ready to get settled into our daily homeschool routine and space.

Every year I share our Back-to-Homeschool photos, and this year is no different. I love looking back and seeing how much they’ve grown over the years!

www.happybrownhouse.com

Jonah

Jonah just turned 7 over the summer and will be in Second Grade. He loves building with Legos, reading, and playing baseball. He’s peeked at the curriculum box and is excited that this year we will learn about Vikings, Native Americans, and Settlers. Jonah enjoys history, geography, and science so I’m anticipating our discussions as we study things he’s excited about–his excitement is contagious.

www.happybrownhouse.com

Lily

Lily is 5 and will be starting Kindergarten. She is newly adopted, so we’re still discovering new things about Lily. She loves Disney’s Frozen, singing, and all things sparkle. (When I asked her what her favorite color was she replied, “Pink, Purple, and Sparkle.” True story.) I performed an initial Kindergarten assessment that I used in my former public school classroom, and was pleasantly surprised. She desperately wants to learn how to read and is well on her way!

Asher 2014

Asher

Asher is about to turn 3 in a few weeks and will be our Tot School/Homeschool Sidekick. He loves trains, cars, and has a slight obsession with puzzles. He knows all of the ABC’s and I’ll be working on introducing letter sounds and numbers to him. Asher can be mischievous and strong-willed, but is motivated to be a part of the action. He will be involved with some of our hands-on projects, crafts, and, of course, our read-alouds.

Back to Homeschool 2014

Here’s to another great homeschool year!

I’m linking up with the 6th Annual Not Back-to-School Hop with iHomeschool Network.

nbts-blog-hop-calendar-2014