Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Volcano Unit Study

Buttercup received a volcano building kit as a gift and of course, I turned it into a whole lesson!

Like all of my other lessons, I had to start from scratch, research the material, and put together our lesson.

Basically this is what we did:

  • Make a book to keep all of our information
  • Review or learn vocabulary related to volcanoes
  • Talk about the Earth's layers
  • Learn about the 3 types of volcanoes
  • Find pictures of each type of volcano and discuss the differences
  • Find famous volcanoes that fit into each of the 3 catergories
  • Learn about each one
  • Compile our book
  • Do the science activity - build our own volcano
  • Take pictures to include in our volcano book
  • Do an oral presentation!
The volcano mold

Mixing the plaster

Before painting
Little houses to decorate around the volcano

A graph with important vocabulary

The words to know page of our volcano book
Buttercup had so much fun learning all about volcanoes. She really loves to do her own research on the internet and find pictures and information. I taught her how to search for what she wants and she's gotten really good at it.

I thought it was a good idea to start learning how to give a presentation, so we included that as the final part of the project.

Happy Homeschooling Adventures!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Columbus Day Activities for 1st and 2nd Grade

It's Fall and school is back in session and in full swing, whether your kids go to traditional schools or they are homeschooled.

With that in mind, I soured the web for some fun, interesting Columbus Day activities to include in your homeschool program or as a supplement to school.

Here are my favorites:

Columbus Day Race from

This next one is awesome from Busy Teachers Café

There are so many activities to choose from. Since they span almost all subject areas, I'm thinking this would work great as a Unit Study.

Apples for the Teacher has a nice timeline of the events surrounding Columbus' adventure.

Enchanted Homeschooling has some neat ideas!

Here are some things we'll be doing besides reading about Columbus' travels. We will be working on a maze, doing a word search, and putting Columbus Day words in alphabetical order. These are all ideas that you can do yourself and will be lots of fun for the kids.

Check out what we did last year HERE! and Happy Homeschooling Adventures!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Teaching Ending Sounds to 1st graders

I'm so excited to share this teaching activity with all of you!

As parents we are always looking for ways to help our children learn. When our kids are young, before they even start school, we are reading to them, teaching them sounds, words, and much, much more. We are our children's first teachers. And I think we are our children's most important teacher because we are the ones that give them the foundation they need to succeed in school.

It is with that role in mind that I created "Rhyming Flowers", a simple activity that gets kids excited about learning new words, understanding how putting together letters makes words, and distinguishing sounds.

As preschoolers, kindergarteners, and even first graders, kids are beginning to understand the relationship between sounds and letters. It's a magical time of discovery. Kids get so pumped up when they realize how many words they can make with one simple word ending. "Rhyming Flowers" is here to help with this wonderful discovery. This teaching tool will make learning rhyming words and sounds really interesting for the kids.

"Rhyming Flowers" is basically a rhyming game. What makes this learning product so different and so worthwhile is that it is FUN! I've used it with many young children and the response is unbelievable. I've had students lay on the carpet and play with these rhyming flowers for hours on end.

"Word Family Rhyming Flowers" comes in a set of 10 flowers. Each set has a flower center which is the ending sound and several petals which are the beginning sounds. The set also comes with instructions and extra game ideas. I've also color coordinated the flower petals and centers to make it easier for the parent/teacher.

The set is downloadable and I recommend laminating it which will make it usable for a very long time.

You can buy the set here for only $10. That's just $1 per flower. This small fee gets you endless teaching opportunities as well as infinite fun for your kids and students.

And to kick off the new school year, I'm giving away 2 sets to 2 Adventures of a Homeschool Mom readers (1 set per winner).


It's really easy to enter....just leave a comment below telling me why you would like this activity and how your child or student would benefit from it. That's it!

I'll announce the winners on Tuesday 9/10 on the blog and on Facebook, so be sure to "like" Adventures of a Homeschool Mom as well.

Happy Homeschooling Adventures!!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

5 tips to ease kids' moving anxiety.

Moving is never easy.... That's quite an understatement if you ask me.

There's all the planning, packing, cleaning, throwing stuff out, saying goodbyes.

Then you add children to the mix and things just got exponentially more difficult. You now have to deal with their stress and anxiety along with yours.

That's our reality at this moment. In the midst of all the packing, cleaning, runs to the storage facility, the kids are being neglected. Lets add guilt to the list of emotions. In the end, everything will work out and the kids will be fine. I'm confident about that. I'm also confident that this move will be very good for us. It will bring change in so many ways....a change of scenery, a change of routine, a change of pace, a change of lifestyle and the list goes on.

All of that is good...very good....but it doesn't make me feel any less guilty right now, at this very moment or when I spent an entire day cleaning out the basement and the kids in turn spent almost as much time watching tv or on the computer.


I took notice and decided to do something about it.....Not to clear my conscience but to get my kids more involved in this process. Ok, to clear my conscience a little bit.

Here are my 5 tips to help kids through a move:
  • Talk to your children constantly. Let them express how they're feeling. Remember, that no matter what those feelings are, they are still valid. They are real for the child. Acknowledge them, discuss them and accept them.

  • Don't try to convince your child. One of my children was not excited at all about moving. It was hard to hear because I felt we were doing what was in the best interest of the whole family, including the children. While I talked about all the new things to look forward to, I didn't try to force her to get on board. I knew that would take time.

  • Get the children involved in as many aspects of moving as possible. For us, that meant that we included our children in the decision making process. We let them, even encouraged them, to contribute ideas. This was one of the most important aspects to make the move easier. They helped us decide what to keep, sell, store or giveaway. And it wasn't always easy. Sometimes they wanted to keep everything and I had to guide them to the right decision. But for the most part, they were really good about making those decisions on their own. Even my 7 year old.

  • Read books together. For the 7 year old, I found some age appropriate books at the library and we read them almost everyday as we prepared for the move. As we read, we talked about the character's feelings and how they were similar to what we were experiencing. For the older child, I had her read about our destination. I asked her to come up with interesting things for us to do and discover once we arrived. Since she's always on the internet, she loved researching and telling me what she'd discovered.

    1. Take the time to say goodbye. We were short on time, but I made sure to travel a couple of hours so my kids could go see their cousins and say goodbye. This was especially important for us since our move was overseas and we knew we wouldn't be seeing any family for quite a while. We also said goodbye to our house, our town, our favorite spots.
    Bonus: I thought it would be good for my 7 year old to feel in control at this time in our lives when everything seemed so chaotic, so I gave her a camera and encouraged her to document the move and anything else she wanted to remember. She loved the idea and took tons of pictures of moving boxes, empty rooms and even her favorite places around the neighborhood.

    Just remember, that as much as it is a difficult, sad, and busy time for you, it is very confusing, sad and scary for children. They need to feel a sense of belonging and normalcy in the middle of the frenzy. But with a little thought and planning, a big family move can go semi-smoothly, because, honestly, that was all I was hoping for.


    Tuesday, July 2, 2013

    Changes coming to Adventures of a Homeschool Mom

    I abandoned my blog recently... And my readers. Life has taken an interesting path for our family which led me temporarily away from the blog. But I'm back even if sporadically over the next few months.

    I want to update you all on whats going on over at Adventures of a Homeschool Mom.

    First, we continue to homeschool Buttercup who just finished 2nd grade. As Buttercup gets older, she works much more independently and so I found myself with less ideas to share. I was also in a slump so that probably explains better why I haven't been on here much.

    I'm feeling better and ready to jump back in.

    Second, I will post my 2nd grade curriculum as a FREE DOWNLOAD, sometime in August. I'll keep you posted.

    Third, and most important, Adventures of a Homeschool Mom is going on the road. We will be moving to the UK in August and I will be homeschooling there initially. I would like to put Buttercup in school because it will be important for her to help with the adjustment in a new country. But, we will homeschool in the beginning until we get settled......and I plan on documenting this whole process.

    This move was something we wanted for a long time, but it did come suddenly. So now we're scrambling to get everything in order to go across the pond. This chaos also contributed to me putting this blog on the back burner. I will share more about the reason for this move in another post.

    Right now I need to go pack some boxes!

    Happy Homeschooling Adventures!

    Thursday, April 18, 2013

    Encouraging creative play!

    So Buttercup has been talking about her stuffed animals' birthdays! Actually, only to of them. One is a tiny dog she named Glancy. The other is a tiny unicorn named Magic. If you've been reading this blog you know that Magic was the recipient of that very cute cardboard house that Buttercup and Daddy made just for her.

    Back to the story. Buttercup picked some of her toys and gift wrapped them for Glancy and Magic. I initially didn't pay too much attention , but Buttercup wouldn't let up.

    Finally, this week, I told her we should throw them a party. Buttercup was thrilled. We picked a day when everyone would be home for the evening. Then we set out to plan a party.

    Here's what we did:

    • We made handmade invitations for each member of the family
    • We "delivered" the invitations
    • We planned party games(pin the tail on the unicorn and bingo, with prizes)
    • We baked a cake
    • We printed out pictures of Glancy and Magic and used them to decorate the dinner table
    • We decorated the dining room with streamers

    After dinner we played games and then sang happy birthday and had some cake.

    At first, everyone thought we were silly. The resident teenager even mocked us and didn't want to participate. But once we got started everyone had fun, even the teenager. Go figure.

    I wanted to tell you a little thing about me. I didn't play like this growing up. I don't really remember having a great imagination and creating fantasies like Buttercup does. We grew up running around barefoot outside with our friends. Parents didnt play with thir children and that was fine with us. We just wanted to be with our friends, it made sense that way. It was a different world then. Nowadays with scheduled play dates and danger lurking everywhere, parents need to do things differently. So I actively participate and even encourage Buttercup's games. Why not. She loves it. We're together. I am giving her memories to last a lifetime.

    She won't remember me buying her lots of things, but she'll never forget Glancy and Magic's birthday party!

    Dream. Imagine. Create

    Thursday, March 14, 2013

    2nd grade art lesson - Piet Mondrian

    We are fully engaged in art lessons in our homeschool. Buttercup and I love learning about different artists and new techniques.

    We recently read about Piet Mondrian and tried some art work of our own using some of his techniques.

    Our lesson included:

    • Reading a simple biography. (When I say simple, I mean a book written for children)
    • Looking at the artist's work in a book or online.
    • Discussing the artist's technique and what we like/dislike about it.
    • Doing a word search puzzle which we found at (This has become one of our favorite websites! More about them later)
    • Making our own Mondrian inspired art work.
    Mondrian Inspired art work
    • 1 sheet of white computer paper
    • a few sheets of construction paper in black, red, yellow and blue
    • Ruler
    • Pencil
    • Scissors
    • Glue
    • Measure and cut a few strips of black construction paper in different widths. We used 1/2 inch, and 3/4 inch strips
    • Place your strips on the white paper. Arrange them any way you want.
    • Cut squares and rectangles in different sizes to place between the strips over the white paper.

    About Piet Mondrian

    Piet Mondrian was born in Amersfoort, Netherlands, in 1872. At a very young age, his father Pieter introduced Piet to art. In 1892, Mondrian entered the Academy of Fine Arts in Amsterdam as a teacher. While there, he continued to work on his own paintings, most of which were landscapes and pastoral images of Holland. He was initially influenced by the pointillist and fauvist movements. However, in 1911, Mondrian discovered Cubism which led him toward abstraction. As early as 1912 when he painted The Sea, it can be seen that his art work began to be dominated by geometric shapes.  Mondrian continued to explore abstract forms eventually developing a style he called neo-plasticism.

    It was during his time in Paris after the war, where he painted one of his most famous paintings, Composition with Red, Yellow and Blue.  Piet Mondrian died of pneumonia in New York City on February 1, 1944.

    Happy Homeschool Adventures!!

    Tuesday, March 5, 2013

    Visiting Museums with Kids. It can be done!

    If you love museums and want to teach your kids to appreciate art at an early age, please read on.

    I hear all the time (from friends, families, and readers)that taking young children to museums can be a daunting task. I've even heard a family member say that she will not step into a museum until her kids are teenagers. Well, by that point, it's too late, you might as well forget about it. Kids need to be exposed to various situations in order to learn appropriate behavior as well as an appreciation for things other than the Internet, Facebook, and Twitter.

    Download my Museum Scavenger Hunt FREE!

    Kids CAN go to museums and actually enjoy them. Kids SHOULD learn to appreciate art and to behave according to their surroundings when they are still young. I think parents' big mistake is to shield kids from these places and experiences out of fear. Instead, both parents and kids would benefit from this exposure. Parents will take pride in the fact that their kids are well behaved and well rounded individuals with multiple interests.

    All of that said, I strongly believe that kids need guidance and structure when visiting places like museums.

    Both of my daughters love art and visiting museums; I've been taking them since they were two years old.

    Here are some tips to make a museum visit an enjoyable experience for parents and kids alike:
    • Plan ahead
    • Get the kids involved (it makes them feels important)
    • Talk about the place you'll be visiting and what they'll be seeing
    • Do some research and choose a few of the art works on display to show the kids while still at home (this will get them excited for the visit)
    • Talk about artists (this can turn into a mini lesson!)
    • Take along a scavenger hunt (this gives kids purpose and they'll be excited when they find the items on their list) Print mine free here! or make up your own
    • Stop by the museum store BEFORE the visit and let your kids pick out a post card or two of art work. Then tell them they have to find those in the museum.
    • Know your kid's limit; if you see they are losing interest or getting antsy, it's time to leave
    • Bring a drawing pad and pencil and encourage your child to observe a favorite picture and draw it
    • Ask pointed questions about some paintings(this gets kids thinking)
    • Check with the museum if they offer their own scavenger hunt or other kid activities(many museums do). We recently visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC and they had a short guided tour just for kids with a hands on activity at the end. My daughter loved it.


    I have created a museum scavenger hunt that can be used in almost any museum! Print it here FREE.

    Do you visit museums with your kids or are you afraid they'll be bored or misbehave? Share your opinions here!

    Friday, February 22, 2013

    I'm a Writer! Authors as Mentors Encouraging kids to Write

    We recently spent a month doing a lesson on Authors as Mentors. This is where we really delve into one author's work and read several of his/her books, analyze and discuss the writing and finally, try to model our own writing after our author mentor. We did this in our Reading Club and Writer's Workshop.

    I did some research on what authors to include and I settled on Tomie DePaola and Patricia Polacco. My older daughter had done this same lesson when she was in school and she loved the Tomie DiPaola books and I still had them so it seemed natural to start this lesson with his work.

    ·        We reviewed different writing techniques such as simile, alliteration, metaphor, hyperbole, and onomatopoeia.

    ·        We practiced using those techniques.

    ·        We talked about Tomie DePaola and we read a brief biography to understand how Tomie became an author and illustrator. We also learned how he comes up with ideas for his stories.

    ·        I read aloud one of his books and we tried to find some of the writing techniques we had previously learned.

    ·        In Writer's Workshop, we brainstormed ideas for our own story. We talked about things that were happening in Buttercup's life at the time (ice skating lessons, a visit to her cousins' house, getting our Christmas picture taken)

    ·        I encouraged Buttercup to write down all of those ideas. For now, we would only pick one, but we agreed that it would be good to keep a list for future stories.

    ·        She picked a topic and told the story on 5 fingers.

    ·        Then, she wrote those 5 sentences down.

    ·        We alternated days in Reading Club and Writer's Workshop; that means, we would read aloud on one day, and do some writing the next day.

          ·        In Reading Club, we read other Tomie DePaola books and talked about writing      techniques that he used in all of the books we read.

    ·        Some of the things we noticed were:

    o   He names the setting within the first sentence.

    o   He uses words in Italian.

    o   He uses words in bold letters for emphasis.

    o   He uses what we call the list of 3 (naming 3 things within a sentence).

    o   His stories are about him or things he heard or experienced growing up.

    ·        Since Buttercup had already written her story in 5 sentences, we went back to edit the story and try to include some of our mentor author's techniques.

    ·        When Buttercup was happy with her story, we cut out strips of paper (5, one for each sentence of her story). She re wrote her sentences on each strip of paper.

    ·        She then glued the sentences to the bottom of a bigger piece of construction paper.

    ·        Next, Buttercup made a drawing to go along with each sentence of her story. As our mentor author is also an artist and illustrated his own books, we thought it would be perfect for Buttercup to illustrate her book too.

    Buttercup is so proud of her book. She loves to go back and read it every once in a while. Writing was such a challenge for her because she thought it was boring and never had ideas. Giving her some structure, encouraging her to jot down moments she may want to remember later, and guiding her through the process has made the writing process much easier.

    We followed the same process as we read through some of Patricia Polacco's books. And Buttercup wrote another book.


    Sunday, February 17, 2013

    Hands on electronics projects

    I recently had the opportunity to do a fun hands on science project with Buttercup. It was an electronics project from EEME's hands-on projects teach kids about electronics. Each project is paired with online curricula to not only guide the kids in assembling the project but also to teach the concepts applied.

    This is what is included in the kits:

    • A fun indoor activity to do with your 7-12 year old that will teach them something at the same time!
    • A project kit in the mail with all the material needed to build your project (including a breadboard, resistors, circuits, LEDs, battery)
    • A set of online videos that will (1) teach you and your kid how to put together the kit, and (2) explain the electrical engineering concepts behind it
    • Interactive quizzes to test your kid's learning

    The whole process was seamless and easy to complete.

    We received the kit in the mail; we got Project Genius Light. I then we registered my email on their website. I liked that all they asked for was my email. I wasn't required to complete a long form with all of my information. That was a big plus for me.

    Once I registered I was able to access the video instructions for our project. Buttercup is 7 years old, so she is on the younger range of the recommended ages (7-12), and she had no problems whatsoever following the instructions in the video. The two of us worked on it together which is the way it's intended to be.

    The instructor is clear, easy to understand and the video is easy to follow. And the best part is that they quiz you throughout the project. So Buttercup definitely learned some good stuff.

    The electronics projects available are perfect for homeschoolers since they can be done anytime, with parental assistance, and with video instruction.

    Now here is the best part, the folks at have generously offered Adventures of a Homeschool Mom readers an incredible 50% discount on Project Genius Light. All you have to do is send an email to with "50% promo - Adventures of a Homeschool Mom" in the subject.

    I know you and your child will enjoy this project as much as we did.

    Happy Homeschooling Adventures!

    Disclosure: I received a kit in order to do the review. All of the opinions in this review are my own. I did not receive any compensation for this review.

    Wednesday, February 6, 2013

    Russia Unit Study!

    Here's my newest unit study - Russia!

    I'm so excited about this one because it was a country that was completely new for me. Until I did this unit study I knew very little about Russia; just bits and pieces from Russian students I had in the past combined with some very basic information.

    The Russia unit study was Buttercup's idea. I don't know why, but she is fascinated with Russia, so when I asked which country she wanted to study, she did not hesitate to ask for Russia.

    In order to prepare for this unit study, I had to do lots and lots of research. I read books and other resource material to come up with an 8 week program that would cover enough information.

    We started with some basic information about Russia; location, size, language, currency.

    Next we read this great book "Introduction to Asia" which had lots of stuff about Russia's climate and different climate zones.
    We learned about Russia's favorite pastimes and some of the foods they typically eat.
    We really got into the part about music and art and I found a YouTube video of Swan Lake for Buttercup and me to watch. The video was 2 hours long and we watched in 1/2 hour increments, but Buttercup loved it. We would pause to talk about what we thought was happening based on the tone of the music, the dances, the scenery and the dancers' facial expressions. It was a lot of fun and made watching a ballet an interesting experience, that was not at all boring.
    Nesting doll template included in unit study

    Buttercup's nesting doll activity
    As the end of the year approached, I was able to find a local production of The Nutcracker ballet, so I took Buttercup. My recommendation for anyone taking their children to the ballet would be to read up on the story before you go; do some activities pre-show. We didn't do that and honestly we were kind of confused about the story. I'm sure we would have had a much better experience had we done a little research prior to seeing the ballet. We still enjoyed it and will do things differently next time!

    The Russia unit study is perfect for the classroom as well as homeschool. It covers most subject areas:

    ·        Math

    ·        Social Studies

    ·        Geography

    ·        Science

    ·        Foreign Language

    ·        Reading

    ·        Writing

    You can get this comprehensive unit study right here for a small fee. I hope that by charging a small fee for some of the lessons I offer will allow me to continue to offer other things for free, like my printables.

    I welcome feedback on the study units, if you would like me to add something of interest to you, please let me know and I will do my best to include it in an upgraded version.

     Thanks for your support!

    Wednesday, January 23, 2013

    A child's creativity

    Buttercup has been an imaginative, creative child for as long as I can remember. She loves to create worlds and goes as far as creating characters, storylines, music and everything in between. She tells me these fantastical stories that she imagines, creates and then lives in for a short time.

    Once, she wanted to build a rocket ship, because she truly believed if she built it, she could fly to outer space. She bugged my husband until one day, he found a big cardboard box and off to the basement they went to build their rocket ship. Buttercup had already made the designs and had written instructions for her dad! He basically followed what she wanted, added some special touches and now we have a cardboard rocket ship in our basement.

    Recently, she got a tiny little stuffed animal with big bug eyes (they're popular but I can't remember their name). Anyway, she named it Magic and decided that Magic needed a place to live. So she asked my husband to build Magic a home. Of course, he jumped on the idea (he loves this trait about her and wants to encourage her creativity). Again, with cardboard box in hand, off they go!

    He made the cuts in the cardboard to Buttercup's specifications, and she decorated the little house. She took her time, thinking of every detail.

    Making the windows
    Door with a look out
    Adding color and style
    Hard at work

    So proud!!

     How do you encourage your child's creativity?

    Happy Homeschooling Adventures!

    Tuesday, January 15, 2013

    2nd Grade Art Lesson - Henri Rousseau

    Buttercup and I like to do a lot of art projects in our homeschool and with my guidance, I let Buttercup choose the artists she wants to study. So off to the library we go in search of a book in The World's Greatest Artists series. Buttercup knew she wanted to learn more about Henri Rousseau (she was already familiar with his work). Much to our surprise, Rousseau is not one of the artists in the series. We did find another book about him that seemed geared toward children, so we checked that one out from the library. It turns out the book was more of a novel and while it did mention Rousseau it wasn't really what we wanted.

    I turned to the internet for some information about Henri Rousseau and was able to come up with a pretty fun lesson plan for Buttercup.

    Our Lesson Plan:
    • Research the Rousseau and his work
    • Find out where Rousseau is from, when he lived, what his artistic style is
    • Discuss with your child the life and works of the artist
    • Look at some of his/her art work on line
    • Choose a piece that your child would like to do on her/his own
    • With the appropriate materials in hand, let your child do her own artist inspired art work
    • If possible, visit a museum to see some of the artist's work in person.
    Buttercup chose Tiger in a Tropical Storm.

    We started out with three sheets of white paper. On the first one, Buttercup drew the backgroud scene, the trees, branches, and leaves.

    She then colored that using oil pastels (presently her favorite medium). One the 2nd sheet of paper, Buttercup drew the tiger. And on the 3rd sheet, she drew the big leaves that are in front of the tiger.

    We then put the whole thing together to make the tiger kind of pop out of the page while still being hidden by the big green bushes.

    Here's a short biography about Henri Rousseau.

    Henri Rousseau was a French painter born in 1844.
    Rousseau was born to a poor family. His father’s debts even caused the family to lose their home at one point. Rousseau served in the army for four years before going on to become a customs officer at the edge of Paris. He worked until he was 49, painting on the weekends, until he could retire and focus fully on his art. He gave painting lessons, performed as a street musician, and did other odd tasks to earn enough money to live as he painted.

    He was completely self-taught and this showed in his work. He wanted to paint flawless, realistic works but a naivety, a simplicity, persisted that he couldn’t shake. The traditionalist painters mocked him but he remained confident in his talent.

    Many of Rousseau's paintings are depictions of tropical forests, fauna and flora. The problem is that Rousseau was never at any of the places he painted. All of his ideas came from books. This made his paintings unrealistic because, in his paintings, he uses animals in the same scene that would never be found in the same habitat. He also paints plants and fruit from different parts of the world together in one scene. For example, in Tiger attacking buffalo, Rousseau paints bananas growing upside down from trees.

    All in all we had a lot of fun with this art lesson.

    Happy Homeschooling Adventures!