Day 12: Science Experiments at Home

On Day 11 I talked about how we love taking homeschool science classes, but we also love doing science experiments at home.  The kids enjoy them so much, when my youngest was turning 5, she asked for a day of experiments for her birthday!

Day 12: Science Experiments at Home - 31 Days of our Favorite Homeschooling Activities

I picked out a few that I though they would enjoy and had all the supplies laid out for the morning.  As is the case with most experiments, we had some hits and misses, but the ones involving candy were the biggest hits! 

Day 12: Science Experiments at Home - 31 Days of our Favorite Homeschooling Activities

It’s fun to take our guesses at how we think the experiment will work out, and then talk about why it worked (or didn’t work) the way it did.  We have discussed the scientific procedure and how it’s ok for an experiment to fail.  It allows us to look at it again from a different perspective and try something else to make it successful.  

Day 12: Science Experiments at Home - 31 Days of our Favorite Homeschooling Activities

We have a few wonderful books for DIY experiments and I also use YouTube, Pinterest and other blogs to find new ones. 

Day 12: Science Experiments at Home - 31 Days of our Favorite Homeschooling Activities

What are some of your favorite successful experiments that you have tried at home?

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Day 11: Homeschool Science Classes

Homeschool science classes are different than science class in school.  In school, there’s a lot of theory to learn and memorize first, then they finally get to the cool stuff – hands on exploration and experiments.  But since homeschool science classes are usually only an hour or two, the majority of it is hands on. 

Our local science centre, Telus World of Science Edmonton, offers a great selection of homeschool science classes throughout the year, but the demand is so huge, they often fill up shortly after registration opens.  Each year it’s a race to get your spots, but once in, it’s guaranteed that your child will enjoy themselves and learn lots.

Day 11: Homeschool Science Classes - 31 Days of our Favorite Homeschooling Activities

We visited Telus World of Science today for homeschool science classes and it was a great experience. I had just as much fun as my 5 year old learning about bubbles and the math that was part of the class was an added bonus. Then I had a proud moment in the Lights, Camera, Pixar class watching both my girls talk in front of the class and describe the projects their groups worked on. 

Day 11: Homeschool Science Classes - 31 Days of our Favorite Homeschooling Activities

Other Edmonton attractions and organizations also offer a great selection of science classes for homeschoolers.  We have attended classes at John Janzen Nature Centre, Edmonton Valley Zoo, The Muttart Conservatory, Northlands Urban Farm and the Bennett Centre.  

Day 11: Homeschool Science Classes - 31 Days of our Favorite Homeschooling Activities

Sleepovers and programing at Edmonton Valley Zoo and Royal Tyrrell Museum have also been highlights for my oldest.  I can’t wait to share the experience with my youngest as well in the next few years.

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Day 10: Learning Apps and Websites

There are many ways to engage children and get them interested and excited about learning.  Probably one that is a favorite of kids in these modern, tech heavy times are learning apps and websites.  

Day 10: Learning Apps and Websites - 31 Days of our Favorite Homeschooling Activities

While we don’t do unlimited screen time, they do have free range once they are allowed their tablets.  They mostly gravitate to the usual at first – YouTube, Minecraft and just for fun games. But quite often they then venture into some of their learning apps.  

Some of our favorites that we’re currently using include Epic (online and app access to thousands of kid favorite books, videos and more), Reading Eggs / Eggspress (learn to read, grammar and comprehension), Math Seeds (numbers and math concepts) and BrainPOP, which covers many topics and subjects. 

Day 10: Learning Apps and Websites - 31 Days of our Favorite Homeschooling Activities

Day 10: Learning Apps and Websites - 31 Days of our Favorite Homeschooling Activities

My oldest also enjoys Prodigy, a math game that presents questions via “battles” with creatures.  As a gamer, she loves the story line and the items and characters you collect. I enjoy it as it covers a wide range of math topics, and with the parent / teacher side of the game, you can set up quizzes and assignments and track their scores to see what areas need more work. 

Day 10: Learning Apps and Websites - 31 Days of our Favorite Homeschooling Activities

Day 10: Learning Apps and Websites - 31 Days of our Favorite Homeschooling Activities

Many of these apps and learning websites offer free trials or free memberships.  For ones that do cost, I am usually able to take advantage of a group buy posted in homeschool groups. I’m always learning of more great learning apps and websites from other homeschool moms.  Sometimes I am disappointed to find out a cool new game is only available on ipads, while we have androids, but we still have plenty to choose from

What are some of your children’s favorite learning apps. 

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Day 9: LEGO

LEGO is a universally recognized symbol of childhood.  Children love it – the colors, the mini-fIgures, the sense of accomplishment.  Parents sometimes have a love – hate relationship with it though – the storage, the price of an elaborate set, or stepping on a piece!! But then they see their children’s determination to finish a set and the hours of play time it evokes, and it makes a bit of that pain worth it!

Day 9: LEGO - 31 Days of our Favorite Homeschooling Activities

We have had LEGO in the house for a few years now.  A favorite request at Christmas or birthdays, they now have some traditional kits mixed with specialty sets in their favorite characters and themes. 

Day 9: LEGO - 31 Days of our Favorite Homeschooling Activities

It is a great activity for improving fine motor skills, problem solving and following instructions. Taken a few steps further, LEGO can also be used to discuss fractions, patterns, dimensions and area. 

Is LEGO a favorite activity in your house?  Do you build along with your kids? 

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Day 8: Poetry Tea Time

We tried it occasionally in the past, but this school year, we’re trying to make Poetry Tea Time a weekly event. It breaks up the afternoon and allows us to reconnect, and it has been going well so far.  A different tea and sweet each week and I usually read for 30-45 minutes.  

Day 8: Poetry Tea Time - 31 Days of our Favorite Homeschooling Activities

I happened to spot poetry books while I was at the library a few weeks ago and they have been a great jumping point to the sessions.  As the year goes on, we’ll look at more styles, poets and writing our own. 

Day 8: Poetry Tea Time - 31 Days of our Favorite Homeschooling Activities

Day 8: Poetry Tea Time - 31 Days of our Favorite Homeschooling Activities

Do you include a poetry time in your homeschool?  Who are some of your favorite poets? 

 

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Day 7: Playgrounds

Either with just the three of us or meeting up with friends, the girls always look forward to the playground.  Fresh air, exercise, and a bit of independence make for a great afternoon or evening before bed.  Often, daytime homeschool playground meet ups will last for 2, 3, or more hours. Children are off creating stories while flipping around on the equipment and flying down slides, only coming back for a sip of water or a snack.

Day 7: Playgrounds - 31 Days of our Favorite Homeschooling Activities 

Then there are the proud moments.  The first time they figured out how to use their legs to keep swinging, the first time across the monkey bars, the first time down the big ramp on their skateboard.  Moments that came after lots of hard work and determination. 

Day 7: Playgrounds - 31 Days of our Favorite Homeschooling Activities

Day 7: Playgrounds - 31 Days of our Favorite Homeschooling Activities

Playgrounds are more than just homeschool gym class and a place to socialize, they are great for building character too. 

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Day 6: Imaginary Playtime

Imaginary play time is a big part of our homeschool. The girls are still young, 5 and 8, and learning through play is extremely important still at this age.  It teaches them to work together, compromise, share ideas, plus the creativity that they have and their elaborate story lines are amazing to listen to. 

Day 6: Imaginary Playtime

Playing with a new friend at John Janzen Nature Centre

We have a huge handmade wooden toy box full of costumes and accessories, sort of like Mr. Dressup’s tickle trunk that I grew up pining for. We have acquired costumes and dresses from Christmas and birthday presents, buy and sell sites and leftover Halloween costumes.  They learn how to improvise with what they have and use their own clothes and accessories to be part of the costume.  

Day 6: Imaginary Playtime

After reading Charlotte’s Web and seeing a play, they dressed up as Wilbur and Templeton the Rat.

It is definitely a highlight of my 5 year old’s day when big sis wants to join her and play together.  They love recreating shows, movies, and plays that they have seen and coming up with their own unique stories.  

Day 6: Imaginary Playtime

Dress up at home and visiting friends. 

Day 6: Imaginary Playtime

Sometime they make due without any costumes. They love this rock garden area at Beaumaris Lake and retell stories from the Lion Guard. The largest rock is Pride Rock!

What are some you your children’s favorite stories to recreate? 

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Day 5: Arts and Crafts

Kids love doing arts and crafts.  They don’t always turn out Pinterest worthy (although Pinterest is my go to for ideas), but there’s usually a lot of fun had throughout the process. I have built up bins of supplies at home, one full of paints and brushes and another full of pompoms, pipe cleaners, tissue paper, egg cartons, toilet paper rolls, yarn, popsicle sticks, etc. If there’s a holiday coming up or a friends birthday, we’re able to create something festive or a fun card without shopping for additional supplies. 

Day 5: Arts and Crafts - 31 Days of our Favorite Homeschooling Activities

It’s also fun to get together with a few friends to work on projects. Michaels craft stores has a craft room you can rent for free for non-profit meetings and activities, so a couple moms and I had our first meet up this week.  We worked on fall crafts that included pumpkins and leaves and my kids came out saying they had so much fun. Even the littlest ones enjoyed themselves with finger painting! 

Day 5: Arts and Crafts -31 Days of our Favorite Homeschooling Activities

We are lucky to have a few great art studios around us that offer classes in various mediums.  My oldest has already attending a class on glass fusion and she is registered for two painting classes through our homeschool board, one on watercolors and another on Van Gogh.  The Art Gallery of Alberta offers classes, workshops, camps and drop in programs for kids of all ages.  Admission is always free for children under 17 and Alberta post secondary studens, as well as adults on Tuesday and Wednesday evening from 5-8pm. 

This year we have also started discussing famous artists at home.  I recently found a few books on Kandinsky at the library and after we read them, the girls put their abstract skills to use. Da Vinci, Van Gogh and Monet are names that the girls recognize (thank you Little Einsteins and Mr. Peabody and Sherman!) so we’ll probably dig deeper into them throughout the year as well. 

Day 5: Arts and Crafts - 31 Days of our Favorite Homeschooling Activities

Do you enjoy doing arts and crafts at home, or do you prefer instructional classes? 

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Day 4: Music

Even though I have zero musical ability, music is a huge part of our life and homeschool. We listen to the radio daily in the car, with the kids belting out their favorite modern hits. As I write this, my 5 yr old is strumming a guitar in the basement. We also have a keyboard, ukulele, harmonica and wood block / mallet that get used frequently while they are putting on their playroom performances.

YouTube is a great source of music for us, being able to look up almost any song we can think of.  In a homeschool support group today, a person was asking about Canadian folk songs that mention geography or social issues. While searching for some examples for her, I went on a stroll down memory lane looking up East Coast favorites that I grew up to. My oldest and I have spent a few evenings going down the rabbit hole of YouTube listening to classics and oldies.  I have introduced her to Elvis, Chuck Berry, Jimmy Hendrix, The Beatles, Queen and so much more.

As mentioned in Day 3, we love attending local festivals for the music and entertainment.  It was the frequent exposure to Metis fiddling earlier in the year that inspired her to start fiddle lessons this fall.  She is only 5 classes in but is enjoying it so much!  In the past she has tried glee club style choirs and piano lessons.  Her younger sister loves music so I’m sure there will be more lessons in the future! 

Day 4: Music - 31 Days of our Favorite Homeschooling Activities

Day 4: Music - 31 Days of our Favorite Homeschooling Activities

We recently attended Arts Education Day, a free set of workshops put on at the Jubilee Auditorium as part of Alberta Culture Days. We attended four arts related workshops that morning, with the first one being a song writing session.  Our group was tasked with coming up with ideas and lines, while the musicians created the harmony and blended it all together.  It was such a fun event and showed us how to get our ideas out and make a song in 25 minutes! 

Day 4 - 1Day 4: Music - 31 Days of our Favorite Homeschooling Activities

Do you or your children play any instruments or sing? What are some of your favorite ways to introduce music to them? 

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Day 3: Festivals

Edmonton is known as the Festival City.  It is packed with festivals year round and showcases loads of amazing talent, food, culture and amazing people.  Almost every week / weekend throughout the summer there is another fun festival to attend.  There are also some incredibly entertaining ones during the winter that we have enjoyed the last few years.  More often then not, they are free to attend, encouraging people to come out into their community, meet your neighbors, and learn valuable information about the cultures that live around us.

Day 3 - 31 Days of our Favorite Homeschool Activities

118 Ave during Deep Freeze Festival

The festivals in Edmonton are hands on learning at it’s best.  There are art festivals that showcase so many different mediums – children’s entertainment, busking, music, painting and drawing, theatre, and even sand and ice sculptures. Food festivals serve up delicious local and international foods and allow you a chance to step out of your comfort zone and try something new.  One of our favorite festivals (and recently voted Edmonton’s favorite) is Servus Heritage Festival, held on the first weekend in August.  This year it had 75 tents representing almost 100 countries and is known to be one of the largest festivals of it’s kind in the world!  So many delicious menu items to try and the performances are simply outstanding! We were only there for a few hours this year, but we had a chance to try  food, drinks and desserts from Hong Kong, Eritrea, France, Cuba, Thailand, Nicaragua, Spain and Uganda. Next year I’m upping my food ticket budget to try even more tasty menu items.

Day 3 - 31 Days of our Favorite Homeschool Activities

Mosaic unicorn at Whyte Avenue Art Walk

Day 3 - 31 Days of our Favorite Homeschool Activities

Heritage Festival

Day 3 - 31 Days of our Favorite Homeschool Activities

Eating crapes in the France pavilion

To get a glimpse of the experience at the Heritage Festival, check out this video from one of the food judges.

 

With Edmonton being such a multicultural city, there are many great cultural festivals. At the Deep Freeze festival in January, we learned about Indigenous Peoples in Canada way of life through food, dance and drumming, visited a Viking Encampment and stepped inside a Mongolian Yurt. We watched a Lion Dance and other cultural dance performances during Chinese New Year celebrations. At the Flying Canoe Volant festival in February, we celebrated the music and culture of French Canadians, First Nations and Metis. We celebrated Canadian history and heritage with the Canada 150 festivities. At the Heritage Festival in August we took in dances, songs and martial art demonstrations from Syria, India, Nicaragua, Sudan, China and many more.

Day 3 - 31 Days of our Favorite Homeschool Activities

Deep Freeze Festival, Edmonton

Day 3 - 31 Days of our Favorite Homeschool Activities

Deep Freeze Festival

Are festivals part of your homeschool and family life? We have made wonderful memories so far, can’t wait for more! What are some of your favorite festivals where you live?

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