Thursday, June 28, 2012

Summer Craft Program - Michael's Stores

I recently received an email from Michael's Craft Store about a craft program they are running through July. It is called Passport to Imagination! Sounds fun already!!

Basically, Michael's is offering mini craft sessions on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays (at our local store at least). Most of them are free, some have a nominal cost for supplies. Each day follows a specific country's theme and the kids get to make and take 2 craft projects.

The first country was Australia and the kids made the Australian flag and a stingray. We missed this one as I only got their email a couple days after the program had begun.

Buttercup and I decided to check it out last Thursday. The theme was Mexico and she got to make two mini projects. One was a Monarch butterfly and the other was a gecko.

Buttercup really enjoyed herself, although the gecko was really hard to make and she needed the instructor's help (and even she had trouble!).

We are definitely going back another day for some more crafting fun!

Here's a shot of our local schedule. I don't know if the dates and times are the same at all locations, but this gives you an idea of the country themes.

You can also go to their website

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

10 Easy ways to help your kids "go green"

I must admit, I am not particularly fond of the phrase "going green". I think it's because many people are using the term because it's become the "fashionable" thing to do. It's become more about making a statement than making a difference.

I've also noticed that companies are proudly asserting that they've "gone green" in an attempt to gain more business. Again, the motive is not making a difference, rather making money from this current "trend". I truly hope that environmental awareness is not a fad. I hope that we realize how important our every day choices are and how even something that may seem insignificant to us, could make a huge impact. As a family, we've made this choice and I gotta tell you, it's not always an easy choice. We make choices everyday to be environmentally conscious. It takes practice, commitment and more practice!

I remember as a teenager when recycling had just been implemented in our town,  hearing my dad say it was a waste of time and no one would take it seriously. In fact, my dad actually took a personal stand against recycling. My mother recycled anyway!

Now, many years later I see the world very differently than when I was a teenager. I now have global awareness, that is not common in kids or even teens; and shouldn't be assumed. Global awareness and environmental consciousness is something that should be taught and modeled by parents.

As an adult, looking to the future, a future that will be handed over to my children, I see the destruction caused by our actions (all of humanity). I want to leave my kids a world full of trees, and animals and clean air.

As an adult, I am able to see beyond my own little world. I also want to set a good example for my kids. I want them to start young as defenders of the Earth. I want them to learn that they can make a difference no matter what they do. When it comes to protecting our environment , we can choose to help or to ignore. It's a choice. I choose to help. In small ways that will have a big impact.

Now, let me just say that I am not about to tie myself to a tree to save it from being chopped down and I don't use recycled toilet paper. I'm your average suburban housewife trying to find small ways that fit easily into our everyday life.

Here are some of the ways my family and I try to make a difference. If we lead by example, other people will follow.

1) Recycle cans, glass, aluminum, and paper. We have very little trash in our home because we recycle most of it.

2) Use less plastic. We started using reusable bags at the grocery store and this small change was so easy to adapt to.

3) Change your light bulbs. Sure, the eco-friendly bulbs are a little more expensive. But they last sooooo much longer, it is worth the cost. Also, think about all the energy you'll be saving.

4) Take quicker showers. This was a tough one for me. I love to take long, hot showers. So we put a timer in the bathroom and we set the timer to 5 minutes. You'd be amazed at how much time that actually is!

5) Shut off the faucet when you brush your teeth. Lots of people mindlessly keep the water running while they brush their teeth or wash their hands.

6) Use both sides of a sheet of paper. If your child makes a drawing on one side of the paper, they can just use the other side too. Do this especially when using your printer (print double sided).

7) Walk instead of drive whenever possible. When the weather is nice, we walk everywhere even the grocery store. There are multiple benefits to doing this; you get exercise, save on gas, emit less fumes into the air and you get to enjoy the outdoors.

8) Always use trash bins. Don't throw trash on the streets, at the beach, the park or any other place.

9) Compost if you can. We don't do this one yet. We're working with the township to see if we can do it.

10) Install a dual flush toilet bowl. This one does involve a small investment, but the benefits will outweigh the cost. Not only will you be saving water which helps the environment, you will see a savings in your water bill as well.

Tell me some things that you and your family do to help our Earth. I would love to get some new ideas to add to our growing list.

This post is part of Top Ten Tuesdays link up at
Top Ten Tuesday at Many Little Blessings

You might also like:

Raising Renaissance Kids
Summer Fun Activities 

Happy Homeschooling Adventures!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Homemade Guacamole Recipe

I absolutely LOVE guacamole! I can't get enough of it. We make it at almost every celebration here at our house. Until today, I always made guacamole using a powder mix that you can get at any supermarket. That's how I thought guacamole was made, avocado and a mix. When I went to the store and couldn't find the little guacamole mix packets, I panicked. I kid you not! How would I make my beloved guacamole. Lucky for me, I have a husband who is a chef and a foodie! He quickly whipped up the best tasting FRESH guacamole! I'll never buy a guacamole packet again! The best part is that it is healthy and I know all of the ingredients that are going into it.

Here is the recipe. We ate the guacamole with Trader Joe's Tortilla chips that were so good. Actually, the tortilla chips were delicious and healthy without any dip, the guacamole just enhanced it.

Guacamole recipe

1 medium avocado
1 plum tomato
1/4 small onion chopped
1tsp chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
Juice of 1 lime

Chop tomatoes, onions, and cilantro, mash guacamole mix all ingredients. That's it.

You've got a natural, healthy snack for your kids and a delicious appetizer for any party.

Possibly not the best picture, but truthfully guacamole is not pretty.

Trader Joe's Veggie and Flax seed tortilla chips with guacamole.

Trader Joe's Veggie and Flax seed tortilla chips with carrots, tomatoes, spinach and more!

10 Health benefits of avocado

10 Health benefits of tomatoes

Find me at Meet Penny's Weekend Pot Luck Link up!


Friday, June 15, 2012

I love summer because...

Wow, there are so many ways to finish that sentence. I love summer because of sunny days, warm nights, catching fireflies, sand in my toes, the sound of waves crashing, watching my kids play outside, my husband's on the grill pizzas. The list goes on and on and I'm sure everyone would finish the sentence in a different way. All great way, I'm sure.

One of the things I didn't mention is that, living in the Northeast, we face long, cold winters which do take their toll on me. I am not a winter person and while I try to make the best of it, I admit, I have a hard time. When spring comes, I rush to put away winter clothes, put on my flip-flops and never look back!

I love the smell of wet grass and the sight of blooming flowers. So this post is an homage to spring, summer, warm days and the beautiful flowers in my garden that welcome me in the morning and brighten my days.

Buttercup chose these because they are her very favorite color!

I love how the colors look against the stained wood!

Buttercup painted this pot and planted the flowers at her Gardening Club for Mother's Day!

My hydrangeas are starting to bloom. Soon they will fill the front yard!

Clematis vine. I just love these so much; they come back year after year and don't require much work at all.

A closer look!

I invite you to leave a comment and finish the sentence...I love summer because...

Happy Homeschooling Adventures!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Arts and Crafts project from the Dollar Store!

Well, I happened to be at our local dollar store the other day for some random item (I can't quite remember what). I like to walk around the store and see what they offer and if there's anything of value. I came across this cute art activity that seemed pretty easy to do. It is a foam caterpillar and the package included everything needed to make the caterpillar. The only thing I needed from home was some glue.

Of course, Buttercup loved it; she's a sucker for any type of crafty project. So we bought it and took it home.

When we opened it, the first thing I saw were small packs of different colored foam "bits". They were, literally, tiny bits of foam. It was actually harder than I anticipated especially with Buttercup's tiny hands!

The actual caterpillar was covered with a yellow peel off paper, which was cut and numbered, to make it easy to place the tiny foam bits on the caterpillar without overlap.

We framed out the foam backing!

Once the caterpillar was done, we attached it to the frame.

Buttercup so proud of her work! I think it turned out quite nicely.

I love finding bargains like this! For $1.00 we had a nice time working on the caterpillar together. It was good for Buttercup too, she worked on her fine motor skills, patterns, and numbers!

Happy Homeschooling Adventures!

Ideas for Father's Day!! Make Dad a crown

We got a Father's Day printable through (a site I really love!) which I thought was a cute fun idea to do. It's a Father's Day crown. Buttercup had so much fun coloring it. It was super easy and Dad will love being king for a day! I know my hubby will.

Here's Buttercup's crown.

Click here for the printable Father's Day Crown

The website also has other Father's Day ideas that I thought were great. Check out their top 10 list here
10 Ideas for Father's Day

Enjoy! And Happy Homeschooling Adventures!!

Monday, June 11, 2012

1st Grade Word Wall Activity - Words out of a Hat

As part of our homeschool day, Buttercup and I work on vocabulary building using a Word Wall. Every week, I give her 12 new words. On Mondays, I introduce the words by doing a word bingo activity that I have pre-printed. It's a great way to start the week! After word bingo, I write the words on index cards and Buttercup pins the words on our Word Wall. We practice the words throughout the week in different ways. For all of our activities click here

Ideas for working with Word Wall words

One of Buttercup's favorite Word Wall activities is Words out of a Hat. I came up with this activity to give Buttercup opportunities to practice recognizing parts of a sentence and to practice defining words.

Words out of a Hat is comprised of 6 cards. Each card contains instructions such as "Name a word that is a noun". I fold the cards and place them in a hat and Buttercup randomly picks a card. She then reads the card out loud and completes the task using a word from the Word Wall. We play this game for a few rounds a couple of times a week. The goal is to go through all of the cards at least once. Buttercup loves this game, so we actually wind up going through the cards a few times and she will usually not repeat words within a single category.

Print it free here Words out of a Hat

Ideas for working with Word Wall words

How do you get your week started and what are some of the activities you do to practice new vocabulary? Leave a comment.

Happy Homeschooling Adventures!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Summer Activity Ideas

Summer is around the corner and we are looking forward to 2 months with our kids at home. But, the truth is, after a couple of weeks the kids start getting bored! I am constantly hearing things like "What are we going to do today?" or "What can I do now?"

So, a few years ago I came up with a Summer Fun jar. I asked my kids what kinds of things they'd like to do over the summer. The rules were simple: 1)the ideas had to be financially feasible, so no "We want to spend the summer traveling around Europe", 2)they had to be things every family member could enjoy together.

I wrote each idea on a strip of paper, folded the paper and put them all in a jar. Each week the kids got to randomly pick one piece of paper from the jar. Whatever was on the paper we had to do within the course of that week.

The Summer Fun jar worked so well. The kids looked forward to picking a "surprise" from the jar each week. And of course, they made sure we followed through and did whatever was written on the paper strip. Now that Buttercup is older and can write, I give her the strips and she writes the ideas on her own.


Each year, we add or change items to the list. It's up to the kids!!

Here's this year's list.
  • Go to the zoo
  • Go to the beach
  • Make a backyard obstacle course (I make sure there's some water feature to keep everyone cool)
  • Go to NY (my kids love the city and there's always something fun going on)
  • Pack a lunch and go on a picnic
  • Go to the park
  • Make outdoor art (I tape a very large paper to the side of the house and let the kids get creative, it's very Jackson Pollock!)
  • Go on a hike
  • Go out for ice cream
  • Catch fireflies (then release them)
  • Go to a movie in the park (lots of towns offer them, just bring a blanket or chair)
  • Go for a bike ride
  • Make s'mores and watch the stars


What are some of the things you'd like to do with your children this summer?

Happy Homeschooling Adventures!!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

What kind of home school approach do you follow?

That seems to be a very popular question! When I started homeschooling Buttercup, I was kind of thrown into it suddenly. I didn't have much time to research the different approaches to homeschooling. To be honest, I didn't know there were so many approaches to homeschooling. In my ignorant bliss, I just assumed people put together their own materials and study programs. Now, a whole school year later, I know that's not the case.

But that is how I did it, as a teacher myself, I already had knowledge and experience enough to come up with a program. But whenever I am asked what is our home school approach, I don't have an answer.

Well, I recently read an article on that finally clarified all of the different approaches for me. The explanations are clear and concise; it also includes why some parents choose each approach.

Finally, I have an answer to stranger's questions....but why do I care what they think? Actually, I don't. It was more for me. And the answer is I don't really follow any approach. I do what feels right for me and my child. She gets to have a say in most of what she learns. I determine what are "the must haves". Buttercup gets plenty of free time to explore the great outdoors, museums, parks and other activities. We try to do as much hands on stuff as we can. I don't have textbooks, but I like the idea of keeping in line with our state guidelines.

Anyway, if you are starting on your own homeschooling journey, this website will be very helpful. I recommend reading the different approaches and trying them to see what works for your family.

Here's the link:

Also here are some other posts that might interest you.

5 Reasons I Home School

How I made the decision to home school p1

How I made the decision to home school p2

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

I joined BlogFrog!!

Hi everyone,

Just wanted to share that I am now on BlogFrog. I have a community called Homeschool Adventures! It is a really fun community where homeschoolers can share their ideas, ask questions and connect with other homeschoolers. It is also a great place to showcase your own blog.

Join me at the Homeschool Adventures community at BlogFrog!! Click here!

The Dangers of Homeschooling

I just came across this on Twitter and it is a YouTube video by a homeschooled kid on "The Dangers of Homeschooling". It is so creative and absolutely funny, I just had to share.

Just click on the link and enjoy!

The Dangers of Homeschooling

Monday, June 4, 2012

Homeschool Resources - The Homeschool Handbook

As a homeschool mom, I am constantly searching for resources, ideas and general information that can make the homeschool experience more fulfilling and enriching for both my daughter and myself.

With that in mind, I'd like to share a resource I recently came across that I think other homeschoolers will find helpful.

The Homeschool Handbook covers everything from curriculum to field trips, crafts, health and fitness, and much more!

I would recommend The Homeschool Handbook to anyone starting to homeschool or a seasoned homeschooler.

Happy Adventures!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Homeschool Resources on the Web - Lots of Free Stuff!

I've been meaning to write this post for quite a while. It's finally here. When I started homeschooling my first grader, I did a ton of research to find online resources to help me along. Needless to say, there is so much out there it can get overwhelming. I discovered and used these websites and its resources throughout the year. I started with a much longer list, but it is now down to this one that I am sharing with  you.

These websites are free for the most part, they offer instruction, worksheets or general help.They are not specifically geared toward homeschoolers, but I don't think that matters. The content is good whether your child is homeschooled or attends public school.

I hope to grow this list as I find other good educational websites. And if you love a website that is not on this list, please let me know in the comments below. I will check it out and possibly add it to my list.

General Education Sites (these sites include a variety of subjects within each site, they are not specific to one subject)

Math Websites (these websites are specific to math only) (a note about this math site: they allow you to try it for free, if you like it, and I guarantee you will, there is a membership fee that gives you unlimited access)

I hope this list helps you in your own search for homeschool materials! Hopefully I've done some of the leg work for you.

Do you have a favorite website? Please let me know.