Earth Day Crafts Food and Fun; With Free Printable Download

Earth Day is just around the corner, and it’s no secret we love being outdoors whenever possible. Whether, it is playing in the woods, gardening, or hanging by the lake. Therefore, it only seems natural to want to dedicate a day to honoring, preserving, and learning about the Earth.

Looking for some fun hands on activities or Earth Day snacks for the kids? I’m rounding up some of our homestead favorites, and sharing a bit of our Earth Day celebration with you.

Earth Day Crafts, Food, and Fun

Earth Day Collages

The kids had a lot of fun gathering old magazine, paper scraps, and tissue paper to create their interpretive Earth collages.

Draw a circle in the middle of an 8×11 sheet of paper or larger (I believe ours was 8×13)

Cut and/or rip paper in squares (hues of blues, greens, and yellows preferred)

Glue squares (hues of blue, green, and yellows) of paper onto the circle, and if desired glue a darker (black or brown) around the outside perimeter representing the earth’s atmosphere. {Note: this also really helps the earth “pop” on the paper}

Typically when the kids are doing a hands on project I try to read aloud (provided it’s a project they can do somewhat independently). – this week we enjoyed reading The Magic School House: Inside the Earth while completing our masterpieces.

Earth Day Dirt Cups 

We all know it is true – the way to their brains is through their stomachs. I’m not going to lie, I’m happier when I’m fed too – these dirt cups aren’t just for kids!

Earth Day Crafts Food and Fun; With Free Printable Download

Yield: 6

Earth Day Crafts Food and Fun; With Free Printable Download

Ingredients

  • Small cups for serving
  • Pudding mix (or pre-made pudding cups work too)
  • Oreo type cookie (we use a GF version from Trader Joe's)
  • Gummy Worms

Instructions

  1. Make Pudding according to package instructions
  2. Crush Oreos (we put ours in a bag and crush with the back of a spoon)
  3. Sprinkle oreos on top of pudding
  4. Add gummy worms to complete the look
https://jennyirvine.com/earth-day-crafts-food-and-fun-with-free-printable-download/

FREE Earth Day Word Search Printable

Learning about Earth Day just became fun with this Free Word Search! (and, Word Search Answer Key)

Kids can learn about Earth Day, have fun, and practice their spelling skills with this FREE Earth Day word search. Be sure and check out Education.com for more spelling resources and printables just like this.

Earth Day Treasure Hunt

We haven’t had a chance to do this super cute treasure hunt for kids via No Wooden Spoon, but hope to do so in the week ahead. (As soon as Mother Nature decides to let go of Winter that is.)

Be sure to follow along with all of our nature exploring on IG @myhappyhomestead.

Earth Day Writing Prompts

Do you have a reluctant writer in your house too?

Short little writing prompts are a life savor in our house – be sure to snag your free Earth Day printable writing prompt HERE. And, for my super-duper reluctant writers, our boogie boards have been the “cure” to the tears crying over dotted paper lines.

Wishing you all a wonderful Earth Day filled with crafts, creations, and delicious treats.

For it is when we take the time to look deep in nature we truly begin to understand everything around us a little bit better. ~Albert Einstein.

Blessings,

Jenny

 

10 Reasons-Why We Homeschool

10 Reasons Why We Homeschool - From a Mom of Four Kids 

Why Do We Homeschool?

Yes, this is a question I periodically get asked by outsiders- but, not very often these days. Maybe it is my own confidence level with our family’s decision or the growing homeschool population that have helped make “it” not as out of the ordinary as “it” once was. 
 
So being the list maker that I am- of coarse I wanted a hands on visual list covering the reasons “why” we do this crazy thing called “homeschool” – I do not feel the need to better defend our family’s decision but it’s more to fulfill a need and serve as a reference for those times when the going gets rough- because folks, it does. I am not wonder women and my kids are not perfect either. We make mistakes, we argue, we disagree, I want to quit, my kids argue, and well, we are human. We make mistakes, apologize, forgive, pray, and move forward.
That’s real life.
 
I never thought I would “really” homeschool my kids- In college I wrote term papers on it (yes, before I had kids of my own), I researched “it“, and I was always a bit curious about people who  who did in fact do this homeschool thing- I always wanted to know “how” they did “it“- but, I never really thought I would become one of “those” people. 
 
If I’m totally honest I probably had the stereotypical image of a “perfect” family dressed in denim (not that I have anything against denim), holding hands, gathered around a big farm table, and no arguing- just a blissful home education environment. 
 
Oh, and lets not forget about the “perfect” dinner that was waiting atop the stove and the impeccably clean home because the children obediently and cheerfully helped with daily chores. Ha, man I’m pretty sure I was envisioning a great start to a really good book. 
 
So, without further ado here are …..

Our Top 10 Reasons; Why We Homeschool

Our reasons have changed over the years with a few core reasons still remaining the same- I guarantee some of these are not even remotely close to what you might expect.
 

Selfishness – I’m not going to lie- I am selfish. Aren’t we all? I like spending time with my kids and I don’t want to send them off for most of the day. I don’t want to spend my only hours of the day carpooling my kids around and doing homework that was assigned by a teacher. So there- I said it, I am selfish and yes, that is one reason “why we homeschool“.

Gifts and Talents– We strongly believe in our home that every individual has a unique set of gifts and talents. Homeschooling provides the perfect learning environment to foster, develop, and explore those gifts and talents. A typical homeschooled student can complete his or her “book work” in a few short hours leaving the rest of a day to develop, interact, and embrace the being that God intended them to be.
 
Freedom and Flexibility– One of my favorite things about homeschooling is having the freedom to choose my children’s curriculum. I absolutely love pouring over curriculum review web-sights, catalogs, and tailoring each child’s material to fit his or her learning style. Yes, it is a ton of work- but, watching them grow and learn in an environment that best meets their individual needs is immeasurable.
 
Way back when I wasn’t one of “those” homeschool parents-I think what I really wanted to know was what their day looked like. I’m going to let you in on a little secret and tell you- its flexible.
If we have a dentist appointment at 11:00 one day then maybe that means we double up on school work the next. If we don’t start until 9:15 AM one morning instead of the normal 8:30 AM you know what, everything is going to be ok. If we fell behind in a particular subject one given year- we then have an entire summer to pound it out.
10 Reasons Why We Homeschool - Need Encouragement or Thinking about Homeschooling? Lessons learned from a busy, work at home mom of four kids 10 and under
Control– So, yes just as I am selfish I am equally a control freak. I like to “think” I’m in control- ha, even though I so am not. Homeschooling does however give you a certain amount of control. You have better control over the environments that your child(ren) are exposed to- and the field trips they attend. You also have control over the curriculum and teaching method used to educate your child(ren)-whether it is religious, secular, eclectic, montessori, classical, etc.
 
Food Related Issues– This is one “why” that I personally used to balk at- when we first began homeschooling in fact I seriously thought- “really, people would homeschool their kids because of food allergies?” Yes! I never thought I would homeschool some of my children because of food issues and guess what I learned “never judge”. Our homeschool philosophy (well, I guess if you want to consider it that) is – year by year; kid by kid. Much to my surprise and 6 years later God is still calling us to a homeschool lifestyle-and, with each passing year and each coming school aged child it is only becoming that much more evident. With food issues ranging from gluten, dairy, dye, nightshades, to an unknown slew- I’m in no hurry to send them off.
 

Real Life– Education extends far beyond what we learn in a text book. Learning happens in our day to day life. The things we experience day to day enhance our scope of knowledge far beyond that of any text books. When a learning environment consists of 7+ hours of classroom, text book, paper testing, and institutionalized learning- a real life hands on learning environment can be a hard thing to mirror within the walls of a school. This was one of our original reasons “why we homeschool“- real life experiences, problems, and solutions.

 

Family Togetherness- This is another original reason “why“- back when we first made the decision to keep our oldest daughter home my husband was traveling a good deal and the thought of some of our only quality family time being at jeopardy was not even an option-we would homeschool. 

We didn’t want the best hours of our day spent away from each other- children are at their best typically in the morning and early afternoon-yes, the prime time for learning. So yes, I pulled the selfish card- I want my kids at their best- not when they are tired, hungry, and flat out grumpy. 

As our family has grown over the years the family togetherness that we have day in and day out has helped form special bonds between each of our kids-they really are each others best friends. They squabble, fight, yell, and disagree just the same as any other siblings but at the roots-they know, they are stuck together like glue.

Learning is fun; NOT Hard– One of the questions I frequently get is but “how do you grade them” “what about a GPA“- here is what I have to say to that; I check their work for accuracy, effort, and completeness- we educate to learn, master, retain, and use the information gathered. We do not educate to get an “A”. When is the last time your boss gave you an “A” on your project-he or she likely didn’t. You instead get a complete sit down review of your strengths, weaknesses, goals, achievements, and things to improve upon.
That my friends is how we grade.
 
Learning is fun; not hard- we make it way more complicated than it needs to be-make school interesting- some good books, the internet, real life interviews, experiences, and a bit of encouragement can go a long way. I do not need to speak 5 languages, be a chemistry major, and know calculus to be a good teacher to my child. There are people who can help with that stuff- know your limitations- and, when to seek help with the things that are beyond your scope of knowledge. It takes a community to educate a child-embrace that community.
 
Self Assurance and Independence– Some of our kids are not quite as confident as others- they need a little extra hand holding, a little more attention, and a lot more encouragement. While others, are completely capable of being set free to work independently. Homeschooling has provided an environment which we can embrace both end of the spectrum. I can set my independent learners free- with occasional monitoring and little instruction. While, I can encourage, teach, and feed the tiny hearts of those that may not quite be “there” yet. We want all of children to be independent leaders- full of self confidence and drive.
The World is our Classroom– I remember one of my favorite things about going to school was the occasional time the teacher would announce “we are having school outside“. I loved it. My kids are outside nature lovers too. Our days are filled with outside exploring, running around before, during, and after lessons. We eat lunch on the porch 6+ months out of the year- there are field trips, family “gym” walks, and endless hours of imaginary play. We are not confined to the walls of our home to do school- the world really is our classroom.
"Get Lost in Nature and You'll Find Yourself" - 10 Reasons Why We Homeschool from a busy mom of four

If you are contemplating homeschooling be sure to send me a message or leave me a comment- I love helping newbies and hearing from all of you. Homeschooling has taken on a new face in recent years- we are not all religious extremist raising little book worms- we are real family’s-home educating our totally normal socialized (non-sheltered) children.

I am not anti-school- I went to school- I went to college- we are just doing what works for us-and, you should do the same. I say none of this to offend anyone or place judgement- it all comes from the heart so please keep any rude comments to yourself- thou shall not judge (I don’t, and I certainly hope you would refrain from doing the same as I strive to make this space a safe, encouraging, and helpful home for all who visit). 
Blessings, Jenny

Why Homeschool?

whyhomeschool

It’s not very often that I “write” thoughts on my mind on this blog…typically I save this blog for projects, fun recipes, school assignments, and field trips with my kids.

When we first started our journey…it began just as that a “journey”, a “trial”, and “experiment” so to speak. I must say somewhere along the lines it has certainly become my passion, another love of mine, and our way of life! We are blessed with a very supportive immediate family (I know some extended relatives/friends/acquaintances who think what we are doing is an injustice to our children) That is fine, we are all entitled to our opinions. However, rest assured I have my children’s best interests at heart and NEVER intend/will “mess them up”, “hold them back”, and/or “hinder them” in anyway! Who better to teach a child than the ones who care about them most? I don’t want my kids living at home until they are 40! We will provide them the wings they need to fly and succeed while doing so.

We are blessed with SOOO many local resources; support groups, co-ops, the internet, books,  and mentors it is not hard to LOVE/WANT TO spend everyday with your kids!  The resources are there use them! I want to foster a love of learning and not fill there minds with meaningless garbage. I want to see them succeed to there fullest potential without the pressures of the world being forced upon them. I want them to love God, love themselves, family, and all creatures big and small.

So why do I say all this? I DO NOT homeschool to look for support from all. Nor would I expect it…I know homeschooling is “outside” of the “box”. It is not the “everyone is doing it” thing to do. “Hello” people, for those of you who know me personally…Im not really the “follower” type! The world is not changed by those doing the exact same thing as those before them…..

Albert Einstein once said “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. If we want different results then why not do things differently?

Take risks
Pray
Believe in yourself
Pray
Act
Pray some more!

Why Homeschool?
Daddy “Explorer” and I are both college graduates. Daddy has a degree in Business Logistics and Mommy “Explorer” has a degree in Behavioral Science. Both of us are products of the public school system. Although, Mommy did have 4 years of private school experience as well. So, why would we choose to homeschool?
(Note: These are our reasons for homeschooling and we ask that you keep comments respectful as we do not press judgment on others. This will also serve as a reference for us in times of uncertainty.)
1)      I want my children’s Godgiven talents to be encouraged, supported, and challenged by those who care about their success as individuals most (mom and dad).
2)      Socialization – I don’tneed 27 kids the same age “*socializing” my child. However, I do believe it is important for children to spend time with others the same age and that said we have taken initiative to see that our kids have enough ‘out of the home’ experiences through sports, church, co-ops, music/dance, play dates, and in providing time to explore other areas of individual interest. We will remain mindful of the importance of creating/maintaining friendships but careful not to overload their schedules.
Children need to effectively learn how to function in society while not being pressured to conform. They need to be Godly citizens, full of confidence, self reliant, and provided with the best tools for his or her success.
1 Cor 15:33 Do not be mislead: “bad company corrupts good character.”
3)   Academics– Homeschoolers have been proven to perform as good if not better than peers on standardized tests. Home education allows for one on one instruction (not 1 on 30) and children progress at their own rate. Curriculum can be tailored to better suit each child’s needs, strengths, weakness, and interests fostering a love of learning not a learning to ‘test’ life style.  “The average homeschool 8th grade student performs four grade levels above the national average (Rudner study).”
4)   Time– Today’s families have adopted a ‘do it all/have it all lifestyle’ families want the old fashion home cooked meals, family time, outside sports/extracurricular activities, perfect kids, big house, unlimited travel, and the list goes on!!! Reality check!! No one is entitled to all of these things….God has given us only so many hours in a day and it is our job to make the best of that time. Why not make the best use of our kids’ time as well? Time is after all what your kids want. They do not want all the latest and greatest toys. They do not want to be run from one activity to the next. They want to spend time with you!! Homeschooling provides an ample amount of time spent with parents eliminating many of those ‘busy’ hours in a day. A typical school child’s day might look something like this:  7.5 hours in school, 1.5 hours of daily driving time, 1 hour of homework, 1 hour of sports practice, 2-3 hours of TV, and 8 hours of sleep this leaving approx 2-3 hours in their day (not including dinner, internet usage, texting, bathroom use, and phone usage). How do I want my children’s time to be spent and with whom?
5) Opportunity– the opportunities for a homeschooled student are only limited to ones self….there is no waiting for 27 other children to ‘catch up’, technology can be bought/borrowed and explored at ones free will, ample field trip, volunteer, and hands on experiences are available in the “real world”!! Why not let them explore at their own free will?
* “The term socializationis used by sociologists, social psychologists, anthropologists, politiciansand educationaliststo refer to the process of inheriting norms, customs and ideologies. It may provide the individual with the skills and habits necessary for participating within their own society; a society itself is formed through a plurality of shared norms, customs, values, traditions, social roles, symbols and languages. Socialization is thus ‘the means by which social and cultural continuity are attained’.[1]from wikipedia

All of that said….I do not feel homeschooling is for everyone! It is NOT! Do I think you are a bad parent for sending your children to school …NOT A CHANCE (on our “bad” days BELIEVE ME I wish they were there too!) The important thing is do what works for you and your family! If you have questions please feel free to contact me!

For information on your state laws regarding homeschooling….HSLDA is a great resource!!