Our February 2014 Unschooling Resources & Activities

by ChristinaPilkington on March 6, 2014 · 4 comments

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It seems like I’ve lived in layers of clothes, hats and gloves this February- even inside my house! It’s been a cold, cold month here in Chicagoland. We’ve had snow on the ground nonstop for almost three months now.

I’ve never liked the cold anyway, and now I REALLY hate the cold! I’m so ready for spring.

Even though we’ve had many days with the high below zero, the kids and I have managed to still get out of the house and do many fun things. Some highlights from this month include: the kids performing in their gymnastics Winter Showcase, going “behind-the-scenes” at a local grocery store, starting a new DVD series, attending several great theater/music performances, and playing lots of fun math games.

Here’s what happened the rest of the month:


Books – Together

Dodsworth in London

Did Castles Have Bathrooms? And Other Questions about the Middle Ages

Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a medieval village

Harriet the Spy  -a long read – 300 pages!

George Whitefield: clergyman and scholar


Alexa’s Reading List

Artemis Fowl– she finally finished reading this book with me


Jared’s Reading List

The Magician’s Ring – he finally finished reading this book with me



Kings and Queens of England

Life in the Middle Ages: The Nobel

Episodes of American Idol

Episodes of Monk

Episodes of Winks

Episodes of Once - This is our new favorite Netflix series! It’s not a kids show, and we do talk together about some of the more “grown-up” topics that come up. The show follows a set of fairytale characters who have been cursed and transported to a present day town called Storybrook. Each episode follows a story that takes place in fairytale land from the viewpoint of a different character each week and also follows a parallel story that takes place during the present time.

Episodes of the Ultimate Spiderman & Spiderman Unlimited

The Secret of Moonacre – watching it again- last year watched it like 5 times in a row!

Despicable Me Part 2

Ben Ten Ultimate Alien


Marvelous Math 

Life of Fred: Honey Lessons 16-19

Tik Tak Time

Addition and Subtraction Flash Cards

Buy it Right Game


Making Friends with Numbers- Lessons #1:1-3  This is a new workbook for us. It looked really interesting, so I bought it and asked the kids if we could go through it together. I thought it presented ways to look at multiplication and numbers in an intuitive and unique way.


Games/Puzzles/Kits/Activity Books

Several 100 piece Star Wars puzzles

My Plate worksheet packet – Look at www.choosemyplate.gov . I printed out a packet on the Field Trip Factory website in preparation for our Ultra Foods trip (look below for more info).

-We looked at how the plate is divided and percentages they suggest between the 5 food categories.

–Analyzed a nutrition facts label looking at serving sizes, how much calories per serving size, percentage of vitamins found in each serving

-Created their own new game with rules



Sequential Spelling Lessons # 63-77

Continues to practice cursive writing in the Kumon Cursive Words workbook

Made Valentine’s Day cards for Steve

Wrote a letter to granddad for his birthday

Alexa started to carry around a little notebook and started writing in it wh Harriet the Spy


At Home Fun

Inside: The kids are still into making up lots of pretend games and spend several hours a day doing this.

-cutting out masks out of construction paper

-playing with walkie talkies,

-Angry Birds activity books

-More cooking- Trader Joe sugar cookie kit, helped a few nights with making dinner

Outside: walking Jessy around the block


Out of the House Activities

Weekly: Library Visits, Grocery Shopping, Church, Gymnastics- Jared moved up another level! Swimming Lessons- this was the last month for these

Gym and Swim at the Y- The kids started this up again.

Awanas: - Made posters, drew pictures, read book about George Whitefield

Feb 1st was the last day of a 3 night sleepover with cousins- Played outside in snow for an hour and a half with the dog. Lots of pretend games inside the house. Some Kindle play. We all went to McDonald’s Playplace for dinner and sundaes.

Homeschool Group:

-Science of Snow study; Read the book The Science of Snow and discussed it. Built models of snowflakes out of toothpicks and mini marshmallows from the The Kids Winter Handbook.

-Frieda K Art Study from the Meet the Masters art curriculum- It started with a one hour power point presentation about the author. Then we followed the author study with a half hour project of a still life drawing.

Sledding with Steve at a hill near our house

Weekend with family when Steve’s cousin came to town- Steve’s cousin came to town unexpectedly  one weekend, so we had a lot of extra family time. During that weekend we: went out to dinner for an uncle’s birthday, had brunch at grandparents house, and spent an afternoon at an aunt’s house where they played lots of Final Fantasy 3 with their aunt.

Gymnastics Winter Showcase – So proud of both kids! Jared preformed in the boys Intermediate and Alexa in the Advanced Beginners. They gave out trophies at the end.

When the trophies were passed out, Jared was at first excited when he saw 1st place engraved at the bottom of the trophy, but then he saw that ALL the kids had 1st place engraved on their trophies. He said, “Why do they have to put 1st place on the bottom of each trophy when we all didn’t earn first place? We would have been happy with just a plain trophy.” Why indeed :(

After the competition, Jared grew tired, something that rarely happens, so I stayed home with him while Alexa and Steve went out to restaurant afterwards for an uncle’s birthday party.

Had my parents and in-laws over for Superbowl- My mom was hemming a two baby blankets for my sister’s new twin boys, and Jared and Alexa took over her project. They spent quite a few hours learning how to sew and hem . We also had a fun little game of balloon volleyball and ordered a pizza.

I also came up with a scavenger hunt for the kids. I wrote down ten different rhyming clues and hid them around the house. Each clue led to the next until they came to the last clue where they found their “treasure” – two dollar bills.

Chicago Symphony Orchestra Alien Performance – They have such great family matinees here. The main story for this performance was of two aliens children (played by adults) who come to earth, land in the middle of a concert and try to get the conductor to play their alien symphony. Performance ended with the theme from ET which was pretty awesome :)

Willowbrook Wildlife Center- I’ve been wanting to take the kids here for a long time and finally made it out there this month. This organization is a nonprofit that acts as both a nature center and place to bring injured animals. Jared was beyond excited to hold a fox snake and pet a rat and dove. We also saw a hawk, eagle, three-legged fox and bobcat.

We also learned that at age 13 the kids can volunteer to be junior interpreters and talk about and help other people interact with some of the animals there. Both Jared and Alexa expressed interest in doing this when they get older.

Playdate at a friend’s house with Jessy- It was fun to watch Jessy playing with other dogs; she had a lot more energy than they did! Kids played a little and started to watch the movie Dispicable Me.

Alexa’s eyedoctor visit- Alexa has had to wear a patch over one eye for a few hours a day for about a year now, but her vision is steadily improving.

DiNo Light performance at McAninach Arts Center – A gorgeous production, the story told entirely with music and actors with lights woven into their costumes. Steve was able to attend with us this time and came out to eat afterwards with us.

Ultra Foods trip with other homeschoolers-I ran across a great site called The Field Trip Factory  It’s a company that sets up local field trips for groups and it’s absolutely free!  I registered for a small group of us (7 kids) to participate in a behind-the-scenes look at a local grocery store. We were able to go in the back of the store to see the large coolers in the back, watch the butchers cut up meat and observe how they grind the beef into hamburger patties, ate crackers and cheese in the deli section, watched bakers decorate cupcakes in the bakery using an airbrush machine, and leave with cookies and gift bags to take home. I’d highly recommend looking what they offer in your area.

Willy Wonka theater performance at Spotlight Theater in Oak Park- This was a good production, unfortunately we sat in back of a very noisy bunch of kids who also chose to jump up and down and block our view a lot :(

Watched the Lego movie in the theater with aunt and uncle- Before the movie, they had a wonderful time playing chase in the dark in their grandparents’ basement and then set up a fort in their aunt/uncle’s apartment afterward the movie ended.

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

Kindle: Ironman game

PC Games: Websites:  www.lego.com, www.cool-mathgames.com, www.petfinder.com (Alexa fascinated with looking up animals who are up for adoption and reading about them)

Wii:, Skylander Giants, Let’s Dance 3

Nintendo DS-Pokeman – Alexa spent her own money to buy a Nintendo DS.

Photo Credit: gordsam

What were some of your favorite activities from February?


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  • Jody Hollis

    Go Chris! I have to start documenting what we are doing. A whole month can go by, packed with activities, and you wonder what you spent the time on.This is a great way to record what you’ve done. Lots of virtual hugs. J

    • christinapilkington

      Hugs to you, too :) I’m so glad you’ve started documenting what your family is doing. I’ve been doing this regularly for almost 4 years now, and I love reading back through the years what we’ve done. I lay out my January posts all in a row for four years in a row and compare what we were doing each of those Januarys. I gather a lot of insight this way, too.

  • Shelly

    We drew with some chalk pastels the other day- I love chalk pastels. Today and yesterday my kids made lapbooks. What did you think of Artemis Fowl? I didn’t finish it because it didn’t hold my interest.

    • christinapilkington

      When my kids were younger, they loved to use chalk pastels to draw huge pictures across the driveway! We haven’t brought them out in a while…good reminder! And we’ve haven’t tried lap books yet, although they really look like fun. Artemis Fowl was ok. The problem was that she read it aloud to me, so we read it over the course of a whole month. Some days we’d skip, so it was hard to get back into the story again. Alexa said she wants to continue in the series (I bought the next two at a thrift store for 50 cents each so we already have them), but I won’t read them with her. And I really love fantasy, especially urban fantasy stories, too. Maybe I’d give the sequel a chance.

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