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? 

Advertisements
Posted in 31 Days, homeschooling | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

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? 

Posted in 31 Days, homeschooling | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

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? 

Posted in 31 Days, homeschooling | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

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?

Posted in 31 Days, Family Fun, homeschooling | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

Day 2: Puzzles

I love puzzles!  I have since I was a child.  Growing up in the country, many weekend nights were spent cosying up with my cat and a 500 or 1000 piece puzzle.  As a busy mom, I have recently reacquainted myself with puzzles for my own enjoyment.  I love the quiet and sense of accomplishment it brings me, as well as focusing on it so much that all my daily stresses leave my mind.  

Day 2 - Puzzles: 31 Days of our Favorite Homeschooling Activities

My oldest has acquired my fondness for puzzles and we often work on them together after the youngest has gone to bed (although she has become an excellent side / middle piece sorter, she hasn’t yet developed the patience / focus to sit through longer sessions). 

Day 2 - Puzzles: 31 Days of our Favorite Homeschooling Activities

Day 2 - Puzzles: 31 Days of our Favorite Homeschooling Activities

There are many reasons I love puzzles as part of our homeschool: problem solving, cognitive skills, fine motor development, and a sense of accomplishment are a few.  Also, we have had several informative puzzles come our way that the kids have really enjoyed – a map of Canada, flags of the world, floor sized puzzles with information sheets on sea creatures and the human body (this one is extra cool as it is double sided – one side bones, other side organs).  

Day 2 - Puzzles: 31 Days of our Favorite Homeschooling Activities

Day 2 - Puzzles: 31 Days of our Favorite Homeschooling Activities

Do you use puzzles in your homeschool / family life? What do you enjoy the most about them? Follow along all month for my 31 Days of our Favorite Homeschooling Activities

Posted in 31 Days, homeschooling | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Day 1: Nature Walks

Nature walks are probably in my top 3 of favorite homeschool activities.  They can be whatever you want them to be.  A short trip, a long walk or hike, an excursion with a specific purpose or just a stroll to reconnect and clear the mind.  

Day 1: 31 Days of our Favorite Homeschooling Activities

We were fortunate to have beautiful weather for the end of September and we were able to get out on a few different trails to take in the beauty of the season.  Edmonton is known for it’s gorgeous river valley and extensive trail system, and although I’ve lived here for almost 13 years, I’m still exploring new trails. 

Day 1 -31 Days of our Favorite Homeschooling Activities

Kennedale Ravine, Edmonton

Day 1 - 31 Days of our Favorite Homeschooling Activities

Kennedale Ravine, Edmonton

On nature walks you have a chance to discuss trees, vegetation, fungi, animals, birds, the weather, and even human interactions with nature such as construction and littering. We have spotted wood peckers, squirrels, chickadees, porcupines, beavers and even moose on our adventures within city limits and within nature areas around the edge of the city.  

Day 1 - 31 Days of our Favorite Homeschooling Activities

Beaumaris Lake, Edmonton

Day 1 - 31 Days of our Favorite Homeschooling Activities

MacKinnon Ravine, Edmonton

It can be nice to just find a quiet trail to yourself, with the kids collecting rocks and other treasures or coming up with stories along the way.  But homeschool meet ups for nature walks are also a fun time, with children working together to build shelters in the woods, playing together and often coming home dirty and happy.  Plus the moms usually have a chance to hang behind and catch up (when we’re not scooping the kids up out of shallow creeks and deep puddles). 

Day 1 - 231 Days of our Favorite Homeschooling Activities

A favorite rock garden play are at Beaumaris Lake, Edmonton

Nature walks can also be experienced year round, giving you the chance to look at a familiar area in a whole new light. In the winter you can discuss how the animals have prepared for the cold or investigate what creatures have left a track across the snow. One of my favorite memories from this past winter involved a warm winter day, snowshoes and a visit to Elk Island National Park.  We snowshoed across Astotin Lake to a small island, had a picnic then explored and climbed around the trees before heading back. 

Day 1 - 31 Days of our Favorite Homeschooling Activities

Astotin Lake, Elk Island National Park

Day 1 - 31 Days of our Favorite Homeschooling Activities

If the kids are climbing the walls, you’re feeling a little stressed out or you’re looking for some inspiration, head out on a nature walk.  If you’re in the Edmonton area, check out my blog series Get Back to Nature for beautiful nature trails around the city and beyond. 

Posted in 31 Days | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

Write 31 Days Challenge 2017: 31 Days of our Favorite Homeschooling Activities

It’s that time of year again, time for the month long writing challenge I’ve been a part of the past two years.  September started off quickly and the fall hasn’t slowed down a bit.  With both girls registered in classes and activities this year and myself entering my second year as a homeschooling, working from home, single parent, we haven’t had a lot of down time in the past month.  

I was reminded of the challenge mid September, and although I was initially excited, my thoughts quickly turned to, “would I be able to fit it all in?” 

I’ve had a few blog post ideas floating around in my head all month, but I haven’t been able to find the time to write them down or edit pictures. I was unsure if I would find the time to complete the challenge and end up stressing out more over it. 

But I realized that one of the biggest challenges with being a mama wearing so many hats is finding the time to focus on yourself and things that interest you. I was fortunate enough to have some me time last weekend and enjoyed a long acupuncture session and a Moon Energy workshop, and this writing challenge is also something I enjoy.  

So I’m going to give it a go! In the past I have done 31 Days to Get Outside and Explore and 31 Days of learning Through Unschooling (snapshots of learning through our daily life). This year’s topic is 31 Days of our Favorite Homeschooling Activities – all the fun, cool, unique things that keep up busy and running from here to there! 

This will be my landing page.  Everyday, the new daily post will be added to the list (a link will be added once the post is live).  You can also find them through the 31 Days tab on the menu. Feel free to comment on the blog or Facebook posts and let me know your favorite homeschooling or family activities.   

Day 1: Nature Walks

Day 2: Puzzles

Day 3: Festivals

Day 4: Music

Day 5: Arts and Crafts

Day 6: Imaginary Playtime

Day 7: Playgrounds

Day 8: Poetry Tea Time

Day 9: LEGO

Day 10: Learning Apps and Websites

Day 11: Homeschool Science Classes

Day 12: Science Experiments at Home

Be sure to check out the Write 31 Days website to see all the topics covered and links to fabulous bloggers. Below are a few topics and bloggers that I will be following this month. 

fullsizeoutput_62c1 A Life of AuthenticitySo Not OrganizedNichelle Renee

Amy Hoogervorst

write31days

Posted in 31 Days, homeschooling | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Get Back to Nature: Cloverdale Beach

There’s a new area in the river valley that’s been getting a lot of buzz lately.  I first found out about it from coffee_and baileys’ Instagram post and decided to check it out for myself this past week.

Get Back to Nature: Cloverdale Beach

Located in the Cloverdale neighbourhood, close to the Muttart Conservatory, is a large sandy area that has developed due to construction further up river. I parked on 98A Ave, adjacent to George F. Hustler Memorial Plaza. From here, I headed east on the trails that run along the river, and once the beach came into view (around the 5-6 minute mark), we made our way down a small bank to the sand.

It’s quite a long stretch of sand, perfect for a picnic with kids or an evening stroll. We made our way through the soft, dry sand to the more western area of the beach. Although extra silty / slimy in some areas by the water (more so the east end), we found a soft, sandy, clear area along the shore and spent the next two hours having fun! 

Get Back to Nature: Cloverdale Beach

The river does have a strong current, and the depth can be unpredictable, so swimming isn’t advised, but we enjoyed the refreshing water as we waded along the edge. The girls had a great time making up mermaid tales, playing with driftwood, and collecting cool rocks and pieces of coal. 

Get Back to Nature: Cloverdale Beach

Get Back to Nature: Cloverdale Beach

While we were there, only a few people had come down to explore the sandy area, although several biked past on the trails. We watched various boaters go by – speed boats that created small waves that the kids loved, canoes, kayaks and even dragon boat teams practicing before the big races. 

As the sun was reaching the downtown and preparing to set, we cleaned up, dried off and packed up to make our way back to the trail. It’s a beautiful spot and we will definitely be back to explore and play.  But due to how it was developed, it might not last once construction is completed! 

Get Back to Nature: Cloverdale Beach

Posted in Get Back To Nature | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kid’s Hour at the Cat Cafe on Whyte

My 8 year old is cat OBSESSED! She greets her kitty as soon as we walk through the door, wants to make a cat tower with her grandpa and if she touches anything soft, it’s as soft as “5000 cuddly cats!” When I heard that there was a Cat Cafe coming to Edmonton, I knew we would have to visit.  

Kid's Hour at the Cat Cafe on Whyte

I was initially disappointed to hear that the cafe would be for adults and children 10 and up. I totally understood though – you don’t want the kitties to be overwhelmed and stressed out from little ones chasing them and pulling their tails all day long.  But I was really happy when they announced a weekly kid’s event Sunday mornings for children under 10. 

Kid's Hour at the Cat Cafe on Whyte

It is only for an hour, and there are only so many spots available so you need to sign up in advance. Rules are clearly addressed before you enter the cafe as well. We have been there twice so far and parents are pretty great at watching their children closely.  But if the kitty just isn’t into it, they can always escape up high or through their kitty door to the back room. 

Kid's Hour at the Cat Cafe on Whyte

Kid's Hour at the Cat Cafe on Whyte

They have activities for kids as well. Coloring pages and face painting have been offered during our visits. It is free for children and parents to visit during the hour but food and snacks are extra.  

Kid's Hour at the Cat Cafe on Whyte

Kid's Hour at the Cat Cafe on Whyte

We wait and grab our goodies on the way out so we’re able to give our undivided attention to all the gorgeous felines.  Plus little kids and kitties are notorious for knocking things over! All the drinks are cat inspired, my favorite being the Chai Catte! The girls enjoy the jumbo cookies for $1.50

Kid's Hour at the Cat Cafe on Whyte

As it is an awesome free event for kids, it is often booked a few weeks in advance. But you can find a Sunday that works and sign up on their website. Another great thing about the Cat Cafe on Whyte is all the kitties are available for adoption! When we were there last week, the sign said there were currently 10 cats there and 33 had been adopted since they opened in the spring!  

Kid's Hour at the Cat Cafe on Whyte

Kid's Hour at the Cat Cafe on Whyte

So take the kids down to the Cat Cafe on Whyte on Sunday Morning, and then go for a stroll down Whyte Ave if you have the time. 

Posted in Family Fun, kids | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

The Goats Have Arrived!

There’s a new pilot project on right now in one city park that will help combat noxious weeds.  A herd of 170 goats is being introduced to Rundle Park between July and September and they have been specially trained to munch on Canada thistle, leafy spurge, common tansy, common burdock, yellow toadflax as well as the occasional dandelion. 

This pilot project comes after the city voted in 2015 to reduce it’s use of herbicides.  Goats are known for their iron stomachs.  They are able to consume plants that may be toxic to other animals due to special stomach enzymes. The plan is to have the goats consume the weeds before they go to seed, with less chance of future germination after the seeds pass through the goat’s digestive track.

The Goats Have Arrived!

The Goats Have Arrived!

Rundle Park is a wonderful place to explore on it’s own – full of nature trails and recreational activities.  If you’re out exploring this area, be sure to check to see if the goats are at work.  I stopped by for a visit on Saturday, parking in the parking lot adjacent to the tennis courts and taking the trail in front to the left.  The goat enclosure was set up to the north of the pedestrian bridge connecting to Strathcona Science Park. When I first viewed them, they were in the tall grass just off the paved path once I passed the bridge.  Since it was a hot afternoon, they were being herded down to the wooded area for some shade. I took the dirt path pointing to Hermitage Park that goes under the bridge and viewed them through the trees, hopping over rocks and munching on tree leaves. 

The Goats Have Arrived!

The Goats Have Arrived!

The goats (and herding dogs) have a job to do, so it’s best to view them from a distance. Also, there  is an electric fence to keep the goats from roaming, so watch young children when you’re in the area.  Do not feed the animals and keep dogs on leash in the area.  For more information on the goats and viewing them, visit the City of Edmonton website. 

 

The goats are only here for a short stay this time, until Wednesday July 19 (according to YEG Parks), but they will return mid August and mid September. There will also be public meet and greet events planned for August and September, so be sure to follow YEG Parks for up to date goat information and FAQs. 

Posted in Family Fun | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments