February 27th is International Polar Bear Day! What a wonderful time to discuss the Arctic, preservation and Arctic wildlife. Polar Bears are fascinating creatures.
Experiment with Blubber!
My children (and I) really enjoyed one experiment in particular – the Blubber Glove. In this experiment you use Crisco as “blubber” and test its insulation effect in ice water. At first I thought – Crisco – no way!! But I gave it a shot and it was awesome. You only need two storage bags, Crisco, duct tape and ice water! Now that is my kind of science project.
It was pretty quick to prep our Blubber Glove and the kids could not imagine what we were doing with it!! I love it when I can stump the kids. So, we discussed polar bears and how they live in such a COLD climate. We would never survive but the polar bears have a special layer of fat to help them endure the cold.
At first I was a little skeptical of how well it would work. Mara (pictured above) tried it first. Of course she is a very reasonable kid and easy to please so I immediately had to try it for myself. I was astounded at the difference a seemingly thin layer of Crisco made! Then imagine a thicker layer and no wonder polar bears are comfy. Definitely one of the most worthwhile experiments we have done.
I love researching fun facts for the CLIPs. I always find such neat little facts that I never knew. My husband is like a game of Trivial Pursuit – he knows facts about everything under the stars. So it is fun to try and find things that he may not know yet. For example, I knew that President’s Day is to honor Presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, but I did not know that the official holiday was originally Washington’s Birthday until Congress changed it in 1960.
President’s Day is a patriotic holiday which opens up the possibilities for ideas to celebrate.
We began our party with recreating our own little White House:
I found this idea on Pinterest but could not duplicate it exactly because I am too cheap to buy craft sticks when I have a box of 1,000 popsicle sticks. So I had to create my own plan. It was a bit frustrating so I decided to just let the kids make their own plan.
Each White House was different but it was great to see their own personalities reflected. For example, my oldest tried to do it just like the example, my second child drew flowers in front and one child just gave up on it.
Next, we had the children fill out a paper that said “If I were President…”
We got some pretty funny comments – like “I would have a cool hair cut” or “If you don’t play the Wii for an hour a day you will be arrested.” We got some pretty neat comments too like “I would seek for world peace” and “I would help the country get out of debt”.
Then we used this image to turn their ideas into a top hat and Abraham Lincoln – they turned out pretty cute!
The last paper craft we did was to make George Washington’s ax:
We could not do an activity for Lincoln but not one for Washington! Apparently, I did not even take any pictures of it as the kids just sort of rushed through it to get to the food! (My apologies.)
For snack, we made Lincoln’s top hats:
These were adorable and delicious. We let the kids make their own which I think just adds to the fun!
Love is in the air!
Kids love Valentine’s Day because it is another excuse to get a bunch of candy. I love Valentine’s Day because people focus on being nice to people.
Planning is Key
There are so many wonderful crafts, cards, treats and Valentine box ideas on Pinterest. So check out our Valentine’s board for tons of ideas.
If you are looking for clever ideas of Valentine’s to make and give away this site has 50 – and they are awesome!!
Again, I planned way more than we could accomplish in our hour and a half. But it is great to have several ideas to choose from at the drop of a hat. You can never be quite sure what they kids will be interested in most from day to day.
Next we were going to do secret messages and fold up Valentines, but opted to just create our own Valentine boxes. The kids did a great job. In fact, my kids enjoyed it so much they want to do another one today! We used this site for inspiration but really just gave the kids a ton of supplies and let them do as they wished. For more ideas of Valentine boxes and cards visit our pinterest board.
Here are the Valentine’s box creations:
For snacks we planned to make chocolate covered pretzels, but someone brought cupcakes so we let the kids use the sprinkles for the cupcakes. Yum!
I found this great idea of completing a Family Interview Sheet for each family member each year to see how much everyone changes. Unfortunately the one copy I found is one where you have to sign up for the site. So I decided I would just make my own – New Year’s Interview 2013. Besides, that way I could add things that my children will likely be interested in.
The interview sheet could easily be couple with a time capsule. With my first six kids I made time capsules for them to open when they are older. But it is eating them up – I might have to change that plan and let them open them soon while they are very interested in them. But I like the idea in the link above because it does not take the child’s item and bury it for years – they can access it any time if they really need to do so. Or make a memory string of important events and memories of the year. This could be fun to do throughout the year to help keep memories fresh.
As a homeschooling mother I am blessed with an abundance of time with my children. That abundance of time can become a complication during this time of year. When they were little, I would hide their gifts on the bottom of the buggy while they weren’t looking. But some of my bunch isn’t so little anymore and I’ve had to go to plan B… or is it C?
So, how does a person who spends every waking minute with their children accomplish Christmas shopping?
As I mentioned above, I am an old pro at shopping for Christmas right in front of my kids without them realizing. It is a simple game of distraction that I am normally very good at… the downside to this is every once in a while you get caught, if you do, just think fast! My kids all have cousins at a similar age and I tell them that the gift is for that person. I’ve even gone so far as to have one of my children rap the gift and place the other child’s name on it for under the tree! You can imagine the surprise when they see that last gift for cousin being handed to them as their own! … But you can only do that so many times, so If you don’t want to risk getting caught;
A babysitter is a great thing when you have one at your disposal. Normally, my sister-in-law comes for a visit the week before Christmas and my husband and I sneak away for an afternoon to go out to lunch and do our shopping for the kids. This year she isn’t coming until after Christmas- Boo! So, if you don’t live nearby family, you hate to ask your friends for help, or if your children would go crazy if they are left with anyone else… you’re going to need another option;
Late night babysitter
Take advantage of how late the stores stay open during the holidays and spend the early evening with your little ones like normal. After they are all tucked into bed and resting peacefully, have a babysitter come to your home. Afterwards you can sneak away to finish your shopping. This is a wonderful option if you have a close friend or family member available for overnight stays. But if you don’t;
There’s always Daddy duty
Having your husband stay with the children can be a wonderful option. Sometimes my husband will stay with the children while I accomplish minor shopping trips. But if you or your husband prefer that he be a part of your holiday shopping, another option must be considered;
This has been my life saver this year! I have never been an “online shopper” as I love to go to a store, look around, and enjoy the holiday shopping experience, but this year I have been able to find some wonderful deals on toys and clothes online for everything my children will be receiving. Additionally, I have spent much less money than normal, not just because of the great deals, but because I haven’t been exposed to impulse purchases. The best part is I have been able to do all of my shopping right under their noses. (Note: look for the little box at checkout that asks if the item is a gift so they can cover the exterior of the box during shipping… my UPS man almost ruined my Christmas when my first purchase arrived.)
Use one method, maybe two, or combine them all to get your shopping done. Nonetheless, happy shopping, no matter how you plan to accomplish it!
*Please share how you tackle this task in the comments below.
As I search for holidays to celebrate with my children, sometimes I have a difficult time deciding which holiday to celebrate each week. Often I choose the major holidays like Thanksgiving because it seems crazy not to take advantage of all the amazing resources out there. But then, there are holidays which may not be talked about, but should be. This is why I chose Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. Since it is a day of remembrance and not a “happy” event, there is not as many resources for a holiday celebration. But children need to learn the important, somber events as well.
In the CLIP, I focused on resources about Pearl Harbor, but you could also study airplanes (check out May 22nd holiday links), navy ships, Hawaii, or more. There are some great coloring pages you can use or check to see if there is a Navy Ship tour near you.
Our family will focus on the amazing sacrifice that our soldiers made then and continue to make today, so that we can live our lives with a sense of security. My heart is deeply touched that people willingly sign up to defend our country knowing the possibilities and the sacrifices that are and may be required.
Merry Christmas!! One thing I absolutely LOVE about Christmas is that so much of my world shuts down and pauses for a day. Stores are closed, people stay home and spend time with their families! So make Christmas Day special. Do something new that you have never done with your children and make it a new tradition. Making memories – that is what is going to last – not the gifts.
Our life has been super crazy this year. In fact, we have not decorated AT ALL except for the nativities that we made. At first, I felt bad, but then I realized – we are really trying to focus on activities, and with the nativity, we have the true meaning of Christmas represented.
Of course, I do have the nagging guilt when someone comes by and says “Oh, where is your tree?” But my husband’s schedule has been ridiculous and he just has not gotten to the attic. And as much as I want a Christmas tree and decorations, it is NOT enough to get me to go in the attic!
I just have to share something with you. Actually two things:
First, this month has really helped me learn to let go. We did so many crafts and things and I kept reminding myself to just let the kids do it their way. In fact, after we made the nativities, I took pictures of all the creations.
This is the boy’s nativity
I love the pipe cleaner hair! They never finished the animals but I am impressed they did as much as they did!
This is the girls’ nativity.
They were pretty funny in staging the people – notice the donkey under the manger and the angel peeking in through the back of the stable. They said the angel had the best seat because nothing was blocking the view of the baby Jesus.
I also took a picture of my friend’s nativity
…her children lost interest so she made it. This picture was before she added the angel – you can see the little angel on the left side of the picture. But the later one turned out blurry. Ugh. Sorry about the pics – I am having one of those days (but it is lasting for weeks. he he) She asked me why I was taking a picture of hers and I said “So I can see what I wanted it to look like.” But I love the ones my kids made. I love to see individual tastes and preferences. I love to see their creativity! All these years I have been stifling them.
The second thing is this – while we were making the stables my friend brought up this pin from pinterest. I nearly died laughing inside as I made a pathetic looking stable. Yep, I nailed it!! So many of my projects end that way yet I am the one trying to force my children to do it a certain way – now THAT is ridiculous.
So anyway, the nativities we made we are a combination of this nativity pin and this stable. As we explained to our friends who joined us – we took this simple nativity and made it a huge project including animals, shepherds, wise men, etc. But hey, that is the way we do it – Go big or do not bother! I must express a certain level of joy though, because we finished the project!!! Wahoo! Normally, if we do not finish a project during our holiday celebration then we never get around to it. So, as Christmas rolls around we will focus on the baby Jesus in a stable and our one completed project!
There are some really great reindeer crafts – far more than I could list on the CLIP. Definitely check out Pinterest!
Well, I had no idea that the Twelve days of Christmas begin ON Christmas and continue until the Epiphany (January 6th). I had commented that we were doing the Twelve days of Christmas starting on the 14th and a friend informed me otherwise. How could I have gone so long in life without knowing that? I have participated in countless 12 Days events but it never came up before. So I thought I would share it with you in case you have never heard that either.
This month is flying!! Have you had the chance to step back from the hustle and bustle and make lasting memories? I hope so. Do your children remember the gifts they received last Christmas? Most of mine do not, but they DO remember what we DID and what they GAVE.
Wow – over half of the way done with the Countdown to Christmas! Time is going crazy fast.
As usual, there are a lot of ideas to choose from. If you do not like something I have listed, be sure to check out Pinterest or do a internet search for the topic you desire.
No surprise to anyone, you will find a candle craft using paper plates, but they are actually really cute! Recycle by creating luminaries out of tin cans – yes, with a Christmas theme. Once you burn the candle there are crafts you can use with the candle wax – like these snowmen.
Another fun option is to print out this poem A Christmas Candle, stick it with a tea light, and you have a Random Acts of Christmas Kindness gift.
Then for day 18 (which is one of my kid’s birthdays) celebrate with music – Christmas carols. There are fun puzzles and games to play, lots of carols to sing, and even ideas on how to throw a caroling party! You could also go caroling and drop off a RACK gift or treat!
Community Events – what a fun thing to incorporate in your holiday celebrating. Not only does it allow you to feel the Spirit of Christmas but it also helps you reach out and embrace the community. Personally, I think a lot of harsh feelings in society could be ironed out some if people would just reach out. I feel better when I am willing to talk to neighbors or wave as I drive by – how does it make you feel? How do you feel when someone intentionally turns their head just they do not have to say “hi” to you.
Today we took our children ice skating. A few of them had gone with friends but for the rest of the family it was their first time. It was so much fun and considering it is Florida and the temperature is in the 70s it was refreshingly cool. We went with friends which was great and the kids even made some new friends!Attending local events and showing support fosters good relationships! My children had an orchestra concert last night and it was so exciting to see so many friends there – some that came just because they know kids in the orchestra. As I waited in line I was in front of a teacher from one of the local elementary schools – she came just to see some of her students. I was so impressed and made sure I told her how awesome that she was willing to do that!!
Find ways to be involved in local events & activities!
I also wanted to share this too —Victoria shared a great site that has worksheets to accompany a ton of holidays. They are wonderful – check out these adorable Christmas worksheets! You can even download a free eBook – just look for it on the left side bar. So many wonderful things to do – but don’t overwhelm yourself thinking you have to do everything. Find what brings joy to your and your family and save the rest for next year!