Our March Unschooling Activities & Resources 2013

by ChristinaPilkington on April 3, 2013 · 6 comments

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March was one big ball of exhausting fun!

It’s the beginning of birthday and travel season for us. We did so much that I know I missed things, so this isn’t even a complete list. It was just too hard to keep updated most of the month.

We had our first mini-trip of the year: a three night trip to St. Louis. We also planned a garden…hopefully we will stick with it this year! There were also lots of new games and activities, places visited and books read, too.

I hope you find some new resource/activity ideas below. Happy spring!!!!!

 

Books – Together

The Invention of Hugo Cabaret- We LOVED this book!!!! I would love to read more of Brian Selznick’s work. I was surprised at how much the kids enjoyed this story and even more surprised at how much they enjoyed watching the Georges Melies films. We’ll have to check out more old movies.

39 Clues: The Maze of Bones Book #1- I constantly get tears and begging for me to read more of this at night…even after reading for 45 minutes straight! Although I find some of the plot pretty contrived, the kids absolutely love it. It’s very fast-paced. I really enjoy all the great history facts we are learning, too. The kids want to read the entire series, so we’ll be reading these at night for a long time!  (I even heard they’ll be a 39 Clues movie out early next year J)

The Mystery on Blizzard Mountain – a Boxcar Children book – Any book in this series is always a hit in our home.

Operation Turtle

Lemonade in Winter: a book about two kids counting money

Discovery in the Cave- This is a really good kids’ book about the Cave of Lascaux

 

Alexa’s Reading List

Vet Volunteers #5 Say Goodbye

You and Your Dog  Alexa likes to look up dog breeds in this book, reads the entry and then watches videos about same breed on Animal Planet’s top 100 dog breed videos.

Jared’s Reading List

Big Max

Magnificent Mummies

Benny Uncovers a Mystery (A Boxcar Children book) I’m so proud of Jared for reading this. It’s his first chapter book!

CDs

Gregor the Overlander (Book #1 in series)- We LOVED this audio book!!!! If your kids love reading or listening to fantasy stories (our favorite), they’ll love this story of 11 year old Gregor and his 2 year old sister Boots who fall down a laundry shoot and land in a world filled with rats, roaches and other danger.

We started listening in the car on our drive down to St. Louis. I’ve already ordered the second book in the series on audio for our mini-trip next month.

TV/DVDS

National Geographic Explorer: The Science of Dogs

Lascaux: A New Look – the walls of the Lascaux cave

The Hobbit – We saw this in the theater- a rare treat for the kids!

Hugo

Because of Winn Dixie

Georges Melies Encore: New Discoveries – these films brought me back to my film school days!

A trip to the moon; the extraordinary voyage

Secret of the Wings: Tinkerbell

Bambi II

Episodes of Power Rangers: Dino Thunder, Operation Overdrive, Lost Galaxy, Mystic Force, Lighspeed Rescue,

Episodes of Jackie Chan Adventures: Season 2

Episodes of Little House on the Prairie Seasons 4 & 5

Episodes of Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation

St. Louis

We took our first trip of the year on March 8th – 11th to St. Louis, Missouri. Steve’s cousin, her husband and their 5 kids live there, so we stayed with them. We had such a good time there! The kids had a blast playing with the other kids, jumping on their trampoline, playing with their dog and cat, going out to a buffet dinner, staying up to 1:00 in the morning, eating popcorn and watching movies. Alexa cried for 20 minutes when we had to leave J

They also enjoyed practicing gymnastics, playing “school,” coloring, building with Legos, and making up pretend games with horses, dinosaurs and figures.

The Gateway Arch – Before arriving at their house, we stopped for a tour of the Gateway Arch. The kids and I watched a documentary about the making of the Arch before we went, but I still wasn’t quite prepared for how tiny the car was that took you to the top or how small of a space it is at the top. I have a little problem with heights! But the view was really pretty, and I’m glad I had this experience with the rest of my family.

Museum of Westward Expansion-At the bottom of the Arch there’s a small but very well-done museum. It includes artifacts from the days of Louis and Clark and also describes (somewhat!) life for the American Indians during that time.

The Magic House- We went to this incredible children’s museum a year and a half ago, but we just had to go back. The museum is housed inside a sprawling Victorian mansion. It has so many unique exhibits that we’ve never seen before including a replica of the Oval office, a courtroom, a wonderful Lewis and Clark permanent exhibit where kids can swing across a rope, climb a rock wall, sit in teepees and crawl through tunnels, and a changing exhibit- this time is was based on The Magic Schoolbus books.

 

Marvelous Math (no, I’m not being sarcastic either!)

Life of Fred: Edgewood Chapters 1-6

Math Dice Jr. – Jared LOVED this game- mostly because he beats everyone almost every time J. It’s a pretty simple game. You throw down a 12 sided die to get your target number. Then you throw 5 other dice, and everyone has to quickly calculate which dice will give them the target number. We just use addition and subtraction now, but you can also use multiplication, too. You get one point for each die you use to reach the target number. The first person to go all the way around the board is the winner.

Trend Enterprises Math Addition Flash Cards- I had a feeling Jared would really like playing around with flash cards, and I was right.

I take 30 cards, shuffle them, and then use a stop watch to time child while they go through the set. Then they have a little time to review the cards, and then I time them a second time. They get a point for each second they shave off their first time. Each child also uses a separate stack of equations. This way they are competing against their own cards and time rather than each other, making it fairer.

This is the most schooly math thing we have done, but both kids really, really enjoyed it. They viewed it as just another math game. I wouldn’t suggest this at all for kids who would resist it, but for kids who enjoy it, it’s a great way to memorize math facts (although they can be memorized and learned in so many other, more natural ways, too).

 

                Games/Puzzles/Kits/Activity Books

10 Days in Africa- Alexa LOVED this game! She would play it with me all day. I really liked it a lot, too. Jared tolerated it to be with us. You not only learn a lot about African geography, but there was a lot of math in it, too: square mileage, logical thinking and planning, deductive reasoning.

Easter Activities

Coloring Easter Eggs- Steve actually did this with the kids while I worked on getting the house ready for Easter dinner.

Resurrection Eggs- Have you seen these eggs before? They’re plastic eggs with each egg containing  a little token representing part of the Easter story…a tiny crown of thorns, a scrap of linen, a nail, a little donkey. My mother-in-law brought these over and did them with the kids on Easter afternoon.

Hunting for Easter eggs in the back yard with cousins

Good Friday Worship Concert- Steve played electric guitar for a worship concert at our church on Good Friday. It was excellent! They had a large cross that was laid down across the front of the stage. Next to the cross were pieces of red paper, nails and hammers. We were invited to think of something we wanted to surrender to Jesus, either a sin habit or worry, write it on the red paper and nail it to the cross.

I hate going up to do those type of things…I always chicken out. But Jared insisted that he wanted to surrender something to Jesus and that I had to also J I am really glad I want up, though. Alexa came with, too.

The next Sunday all the red papers had been changed to white papers representing how Jesus’ blood had washed our sin and worries clean. It was a great visual reminder.

 

Winter/Spring Games and Experiments

-Planted beans in two cups with soil; placed one cup on kitchen counter and the other in the fridge. Talked about how permafrost prevents plants from sprouting.

-Made a model of the earth and the sun using an orange for the sun, drawing a circle around the center with a marker for the equator and toothpicks on either end for the North and South poles, and ourselves as the sun. From the book Explore Spring: 25 Great Ways to Learn About Spring

- Started Planning our Garden

I subscribed to Sprout Robot and got our personalized gardening plan. The kids and I choose plants we would be responsible for and ordered the seeds.

-Participating in the Raging Waves Plunge into Fitness program.  If the kids participate in a minimum of 25 hours of physical activity from Feb 18-April 15, they’ll receive free tickets to Illinois’ largest waterpark. With weekly swimming gymnastics and swimming plus how much the kids love to run around anyway, this wasn’t a problem at all for my kids! They also liked exercising and working out with me many mornings, too.

 

Writing/Spelling/Grammar

Both kids have been writing random notes and lists on their own this month.

At Home Fun

Outside: scooters, bikes in backyard, shoveling and playing in snow, a little basketball.

Inside: Lots of wrestling and sword fighting games, also lots of new Lego creations built, jump roping, cutting pictures out of construction paper,  wiping the windows in the house (give Alexa a spray bottle and a rag and she loves it!)

Alexa made up this game where one person has to dance and sing a song while the other people throw plastic bags on her or him from the top bunk bed (strange, I know!) Then they climb down, make a circle of the plastic bags around the singers’ feet and then sit on the bottom bunk and eat graham crackers. Then the next person takes a turn. The things kids come up with!

Both kids have ongoing pretend games where the story line goes on for weeks. Its sooo much fun to watch this!

We make up our own dances using the demo songs on the keyboard

Played a lot with those gel caps that you soak in water and then it releases sponge animals

Both kids have been so helpful with straightening and organizing the house. Steve and I both stress how it takes an entire family working together to keep a house running smoothly. They have both also on their own asked many times how they could help out with either cooking or cleaning.

 

Out of the House Activities

Weekly: Library Visits, Grocery Shopping, Church, Gymnastics, Swimming Lessons, Awanas

Homeschool Co-op:

-Book club discussion of Because of Winn Dixie

- Did experiments where we colored water, salt water, rubbing alcohol and liquid detergent yellow and observed the different ways it combined with water that had been colored blue. We use the free lessons from www.inquiryinaction.com.

Sledding- Besides regular sledding, doing somersaults down the hill and getting ME to roll down the hill (not going to happen again any time, soon!!!)

Ice Skating- One Saturday we went ice skating for two hours. The kids hardly took a break the whole time.

Field Museum: Caves of Lascaux exhibit- The Field Museum did a pretty good job with this exhibit. Both kids said they wanted to see the exhibit although I figured they wouldn’t want to spend much time there. I was right, although there was one part of the exhibit where they recreated portions of the cave, so it was like you were walking through the cave- they liked that part and watched portions of the documentary, too.

While we were there we also played in the Crown Lab kids area uncovering dinosaur bones, and visited the permanent Africa and Egypt exhibits, too.

Oak Lawn Children’s Museum with my mom: After a morning at the museum, the kids had lunch at her house and then went to gymnastics. I had over 8 hours all day to myself- a very, very rare occasion!!!!

DuPage Children’s Museum- We actually stayed at the museum for less than 30 minutes. I had forgotten all about spring break week. I’m so used to going to museums during the week and having hardly anyone there! We escaped the heavy crowds and went back to my sister’s house for lunch and playtime there.

Steve’s Birthday Party- Steve BBQed for 15 people. Besides the usual opening presents and birthday cake, the kids played a lot outdoors, showed off some gymnastics skills, hunted for an Easter basket inside, and played chase with aunts and uncles.

Friend’s Birthday Party- Time for play in the begging of the party and then a balloon man came for an hour and made balloon creations for the kids.

Went with Steve to 5 band practices for the Good Friday Worship Concert- played some Fruit Ninja on the Kindle, threw toy soldiers from balcony, played pretend games, lots of running and chase games. This gave me 5 nights to clean, write and have a little time to myself…nice!

Granddad’s Birthday Party- The kids always love going to their cousins’ house.  They played lots of X-box games and snowball fights outside.

 

On the Computer, Kindle, I-Phone, or LeapPad Explorer 1

Kindle: Where is My Water?, Temple Run II, Lost Cities, Fruit Ninja, Wind-Up Knight

PC Games: World of Zoo, Explorapedia,

Websites: Discovery Kids Dog Park Game, Google Earth-Alexa likes to search through different countries, www.lego.com, www.pbskids.org, Animal Planet, www.gogirlgames.com,

Wii:  Lego Lord of the Rings, Just Dance 3, Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga

I Phone: Cola Maker, Pet World-free

Photo Credit: gordsam

What were some of your favorite activities from March?

 

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  • TheresaNovak

    Wow! What a great month! I am always so inspired by all of the things that interest-led learners accomplish. We are finishing up our math and Spanish curriculum right now, those are the only things that I have been directing the girls on lately. They’ve really taken off with researching things and I am interested to see what will happen now when they have more time.

    • christinapilkington

      Thanks!!! It’s funny how whatever style homeschoolers use, I always get inspired, too, when I read favorite blogs and websites. I just love how open and sharing the online homeschooling community is. I get so many great ideas!!!

  • http://www.littlehomeschoolontheprairie.com/index.html Jenn

    Great list with tons of resources to check out. Thanks!

    We enjoyed Hugo too (book and movie:) but the girls really liked Wonderstruck the best.

    Love St. Louis too. One of our favorite places was the City Museum!

    • christinapilkington

      You’re welcome :) I took your advice and checked out Wonderstruck this week. We’re really looking forward to reading it. Also, I know he wrote a book about Houdini, too. When the newest Magic Treehouse book comes out in July, I think we’ll read that book,too.
      We still haven’t been to the City Museum yet. It’s nice that Steve’s cousin lives there because I know we’ll have plently of time to do lots of things in St. Louis we haven’t done yet. Plus there are so many other fun things to do in the surrounding area like visit the Cahokia Mounds and go to Mark Twain’s house.

  • http://www.learning-all-thetime.com/ Susan

    We love Hugo Cabret, too, and both of my girls are now enjoying the 39 Clues series. Lauren has been reading them off and on for a while, and she finally got Jenna to start reading them :)

    Thanks for the recommendation of Gregor the Overlander. After you mentioned it, I remembered someone else telling me about that one too. I put it on a list that I have of audio books I want for us to listen to.
    I think that Jenna has read many of the Vet Volunteers series.
    Your trip to St. Louis sounds great!

    • christinapilkington

      Thanks!! We read the first 39 Clues book and then the kids just seemed to lose interest. Not sure what happened there! Alexa started to get caught up in the American Girl series, and we bought a big book of Monster Stories from Half-Price Books, so Jared wants me to read these at night now. I heard there will be a 39 Clues movie early next year, so maybe they’ll want to go back and read them again.
      We finished the first Gregor the Overlander but then stopped there, too. Only one of our cars has a CD player, so it was hard to start the second one right away. But we’re headed on an 8 hour drive to Kansas City,MO in about a week, so maybe they’d like to listen to the second book in the series on the way down.

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