Seeing Sprouts… And Radishes…

Our peas are up!  Yay!  Peas are hands down my favorite vegetable, especially fresh from the garden.  I have been meaning to plant some every year for more years than I want to count, but work and kids have interfered with my plans…  We finally got it done this year and about a dozen tiny plants sprouted yesterday.  Yes, during the day yesterday…  I watered the place where we had planted the seeds in the morning and Lala came running in yelling that the peas were up while I was making dinner.  I’m so excited!



Tomatoes and Peppers
We have tomato plants!  4 Early Girl and 2 Better Boy…  The Anaheim Peppers aren’t up yet, though they were planted at the same time.  As my mom says, “peppers are sloooowwwww…”  I am looking forward to salsa season!


5 Sweet 100s are up too…  Mic and the kids are crazy for cherry tomatoes!  I don’t know about peat pots though…  I seem to always have issues when I start seeds in any sort of peat starter…  This year I put some of the tomatoes in regular pots and some in peat…  The ones in pots are doing better…  Hmmm…


Bean Seeds
The bean seeds are sprouting too!  Two of them are showing cute green growth…



Look at the roots on that thing!


Herb Gardens
The little herb gardens are sprouting like crazy!


I can’t wait to pick their fragrant leaves and use them for cooking!


Egg Heads
The chives we planted in the plastic egg “egg heads” aren’t showing any signs of life…  I’m concerned this project might not work out well…

Radishes In a Bag
Another ‘experiment’ we started several weeks ago is growing radish seeds in a bag…  I got the idea from an exhibit at the homeschool conference we attended last summer…  It’s pretty simple, requiring a resealable bag, wet paper towel, and seeds.  I did this project with the co-op gardening class.  We started our seeds at home on March 9th.  We have had them taped to the top of our sliding glass door (to keep them out of little grabby hands…).  We haven’t added any water or done anything with them…  They haven’t grown much in a couple of weeks and were starting to look slightly yellow, so we decided to get them planted in some dirt.  Here is what they looked like before we planted them yesterday…


It was a little tricky to get them out of the bag….


We planted all three plants together in one pot…


We ended up cutting the paper towel and planting each plant with the piece of towel it had sprouted into…


We had to make the planting holes as deep as we could because the plants had fairly long tap roots…

Planting the largest radish…


Second largest…


The third one was fairly small…


Hopefully they will take the transplant to the soil well and we will have a few radishes to eat!


We are really enjoying our gardening adventures!  I think this week we will try to get some more seeds planted, weed at least part of the flower beds, and see if we can get some flowers to plant.  I see a trip to Home Depot in my future…  Likely associated with the free Kids Workshop they have the first Saturday of every month.  This month’s project is: Learn How to Build a Picket Fence Photo Frame.  Want more info?  Check out their website: Home Depot Kids Workshops.  (Link will open in a new tab.)

Digging in the dirt is bringing our dreams to life!


Globos de Muchos Colores – Balloons of Many Colors!

We got to spend some time with our Abuela over the weekend!  We played some fun games.  The one that was the biggest hit involved balloons – globos.  Abuela was trying to teach the kids a little song where the main character was an untied balloon flying away when released…


The kids were laughing uproariously at the air whooshing out of the balloons.  Abuela then taught them to stretch the neck of the balloons – globos… like a rubber band, creating sounds that are hilarious to children…  sounds like…  do I really need to describe them?  haha…  The giggles and laughter were priceless!


We talked about the colors – colores of the balloons – globos… azul, rojo, amarillo, naranja…


We are looking forward to some more fun and games with Abuela next week!

We have also enjoyed reading some of the ‘bilingual’ board books we got at the library.  We really enjoyed On Mother’s Lap / En las Piernas de Mamá by Ann Herbert Scott.
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We appreciated reading Fruits and Vegetables / Frutas y vegetales (English and Spanish Foundations Series) by Gladys Rosa-Mendoza.  (Affiliate link – For more information, please see our Legal Stuff page.)

And… 123 Si!: An Artistic Counting Book in English and Spanish by San Antonio Museum of Art.  The art work in this one is amazing.  We had the kids guess what the pictures were representing and their interpretations were very insightful.  🙂  (Affiliate link – For more information, please see our Legal Stuff page.)

We also watched Spanish for Kids Beginner Level 1 on DVD from Language Tree.  It is a goofy introduction to Spanish that would probably be better for kids who are a little older than mine.  Being able to read would be helpful.  It is interactive though, with questions to answer using the remote.  Lala was saying the numbers along with the video, some in English and some in Spanish.  You might be able to find something similar at your local library.
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I think my next step is to take a look at what is available on YouTube…  Aprendizaje es divertido…  Learning is fun!

Taking the Time to Learn about Public Television – Local PBS Station Tour

We had a fun day out and about yesterday.  We joined our homeschool group for a tour of our local PBS Station.  It was a blast and we learned a lot about public television!  Most of our favorite shows are on PBS…  Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Wild Kratts, Curious George…  So, we were excited to get to peek ‘behind the scenes’ at how the station runs.

In the lobby, we encountered  “Clifford, The Big Red Dog.”  The sign reads, “When all else fails… Hug the dog.”  🙂


Their equipment is amazing!  Technology has really reduced the number of people required to run a TV station.  Which is a good thing for a relatively small station like ours… Their budget is fairly limited and most of it goes towards securing programming…   all those great shows we love to watch on PBS!


It was fascinating to see how the shows are received, upgraded to HD for local broadcast, and scheduled.  Local PBS Stations create great opportunities for shows on the local area, politics, and events.  They are able to run shows live, create animation and cartoons, do voice-overs (the sound booth was definitely a hit with our screaming kids 🙂 ), and create all sorts of other ‘magic’ that goes into television.

The kids’ favorite part was the green screen!  If you happen to be wearing a green shirt, you will look transparent on the TV monitor.  So cool!


Our tour guide told us the story behind how the “green room” got its name.  Apparently, during Shakespeare’s time, many plays were put on without a formal “stage,” with the actors and support people prepping and waiting for their parts right beside where the play was being performed.  He felt it distracted the audience to see this activity, so he had a screen of branches and leaves built to ‘hide’ the waiting actors.  Jack Parr knew this story and wanted a place for people who were participating in his variety show to prep and wait for their performances.  He had a room set up off-stage for this purpose and called it the “green room.”  Some “green rooms” are actually painted green, but some are not…  Our PBS Station’s room had one green wall.  Interesting story…  Is it true?  I didn’t check…  😉

If you love PBS, consider supporting your local station.  All of this amazing work is supported by members and grants.  They utilize a lot of interns to help complete all the work required and keep costs low.  If you are 16 or older and interested in television, they would love your help as a volunteer.  For more information, check out the PBS website.  We love the website for PBS Kids.  So many great videos and games!  (Links will open in new tabs.)

Many thanks to our homeschool friend who organized the tour, our tour guide, and our local PBS Station!  What a fun day, living and learning!  Looking forward to our next adventure!

Squishy, Tactile, Yummy Bird Feeders

One of our “tree-related” projects this week was to make bird feeders…  Birds live in trees, right?  😉

The kids had a great time making the feeders.  I used this activity at co-op and with my kids at home.  We made two different kinds.

Pine Cone Bird Feeders

I’ve seen several variations on this feeder, but we used pine cones, lard, and mixed bird seed.  I had been thinking about doing this activity for a while and wondered where to get pine cones.  Then we visited Grandma and Grandpa…  I forgot they have tons of pine cones all around their house.  Score!

You need something fairly thick and sticky to put into the pine cones.  I’ve seen it done with peanut butter, but I didn’t want to take peanut butter anywhere near the co-op, so…  we used lard.  Good, old-fashioned lard.  I don’t think I had ever bought any before…

Here are the materials:




Plus birdseed…

Let the fun begin!  First, we cut a piece of twine about 2 feet long and tied to on to the pine cone.  Then, we used large craft sticks to apply the lard.




I poured some birdseed into an aluminum foil roasting pan… (We saved these from a catered luncheon…  I figured I was just being silly keeping something that should have been recycled…  But we have used them so much for projects!)  And we rolled the lard-coated pine cones in the seed…



Lala wanted to pick it up and pour it on to the cones…  It feels really neat to run your hands through the seed…  Great tactile experience!




Here are the finished products…  Ready to be hung in trees for the birds!


Pipe Cleaner Bird Feeders

Thanks to Happy Hooligans for the idea for this one.  Check out their post on 32 Homemade Bird Feeders to Make With Kids This Winter. (Links will open in new tabs.)

This feeder requires 3 pipe cleaners, some toasted O’s cereal, and a piece of twine or string.

I bought a box of toasted O’s cereal and put it into individual bags for the kids for simplicity…  Of course, no kid could resist eating a little of the bird feeder material…


As you thread the O’s on to the pipe cleaners, leave 1-2 inches on each end empty…  You will need that ‘open space’ to assemble the feeder…


Once the pipe cleaners were ‘loaded,’ we twisted two of them together to form a misshapen circle…


Then put one across the middle…


Added the string and voilà…


Here are two we made…  I love how simple these are!


These feeders were so much fun to make!  I hope the birds enjoy them too!


Wandering, Wondering, Leaf Walk

We wandered off on a leaf walk…  and discovered that although we live in an arid environment… since our house is in a neighborhood in town, there are an amazing plethora of different kinds of trees within just a few blocks of our home!   I am completely out of my depth in identifying most of them!  I have been left wondering what they are…

Any tree experts out there?  🙂

I had no idea I was so clueless about trees!  I think I will have to get a tree identification field guide…

The Winner of Our First Give-Away!

We are pleased to announce the winner of our first give-away is…  Nancy Jones!


Nancy won a copy of Teach Your Own: The John Holt Book of Homeschooling by John Holt and Patrick Farenga.  This book will be the reading selection for our May 2015 Reading Circle.  I am so excited to be starting this adventure in ‘learning about learning.’  I hope you will join me!

The forum for the May 2015 Reading Circle is ready to go for questions, comments, and discussion.  Click here to register.  (All links in this post will open in a new tab.)

Tentative Reading Schedule for May 2015

  • Week of May 4 – Preface, Introduction, & Chapters 1 & 2
  • Week of May 11 – Chapters 3-7
  • Week of May 18 – Chapters 8-10
  • Week of May 25 – Chapters 11-13

You can get your own copy of the book for May from Amazon through this affiliate link (If you purchase items through this link, we will receive a small commission.  For more information, please see our Legal Stuff page.):

Here is the tentative list of reading selections for the remainder of the year:

June 2015 – Math from Three to Seven: The Story of a Mathematical Circle for Preschoolers (MSRI Mathematical Circles Library) by Alexander Zvonkin

July 2015 – Understanding Waldorf Education: Teaching from the Inside Out by Jack Petrash

August 2015 – Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids by Kim John Payne & Lisa M. Ross

September 2015 – The Montessori Method by Maria Montessori

October 2015 – Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers by Gordon Neufeld & Gabor Mate M.D.

November 2015 – TBA (Leaving open for flexibility…)

December 2015 – A Mind at a Time by Mel Levine M.D.

I am open to suggestions and changes!  I look forward to reading with you!

Gorgeous ‘Hand-Print’ Leaf Wreaths

We had fun making ‘hand-print’ leaf wreaths to support Arbor Day!  They are really simple, but turned out beautifully.


I cut out the centers of a couple of paper plates…


Then we folded paper into quarters…  Traced the kids’ hands…  And cut them out – creating 8 ‘leaves’ for each kid…  Folding the paper greatly reduced the amount of cutting required…


The kids then covered the paper plate rings with glue (we used glue sticks) and we stuck on the hands… er…  leaves…  As usual, Tbear loved the glue sticks and did his best to eat one while we worked…


We used green colored paper for the ‘leaf’ look…


You could definitely cut out more hand outlines and fill the wreath in…  I had planned to have the kids color their hands, but we ended up skipping that part….  Lala was tickled with her wreath…  Now to decide where to hang them…  I think a hole punch and a little string may help…  🙂

The options for this craft are vitally endless…  Painting the ‘leaves’… Adding stickers, flowers, or other seasonal items…  Next time, I think we will do family hands for the ‘leaves’…  Another idea to add to my Family Tree Project…  😉  I love ‘hand-print’ crafts!

Prepping for the Week of April 27, 2015 – More Spring Activities…

We have been having so much fun with all these spring… Earth… tree… activities that I have decided we will continue with them next week…  (All links in this post will open in new tabs.)

Letter of the Week: R
I plan to finish out the alphabet using the printables from Crayola’s Free Coloring Pages website.   Hmmm..  R is for Rain…  We have gotten a couple of thundershowers this week…  Time for some ‘rain’ activities…  (see below)

Number of the Week: 12
This seems like a good opportunity to start talking about the 12 hours on the face of a clock…  We ordered a really cool Melissa & Doug Shape Sorting Clock from Amazon a while back.  Time to put it to use.  🙂  The affiliate link is below. (If you use this link to make any purchases, we will receive a small commission.  For more information, please see our Legal Stuff page.)


Our trip to the library resulted in a pile of fun books to read:

  • From Seed to Sunflower by Dr. Gerald Legg
  • Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
  • Let’s Recycle – by Anne L. Mackenzie
  • The Friendship Tree by Kathy Caple
  • Trees by Nicola Edwards
  • Who Will Plant a Tree by Jerry Pallotta


Rain Sticks – I want to try these cool sensory bottles I found over at In Lieu of Preschool.  Check out their DIY Sensory Bottles: Rain Stick instructions.

Rain in a Jar – I also want to try this colorful activity from Teach Preschool.  Check out their post: Clouds in jars and on the table top too!  

I think we will be continuing to work on our Tree Identification and doing a little birdwatching.  🙂  And I still want to put together a Family Tree project!  I’ve been doing a little research, but my ideas haven’t gelled yet…  Stay tuned!

Ongoing Activities

Please check out our other posts on these topics… Click on the corresponding blog categories in the left column menu.

  • Gardening – Dirt, Digging, and Dreams
  • Safety – Safety Series
  • Spanish – Aprendamos español – Let’s Learn Spanish!

I’m looking forward to a fun week!


The First Time I Saw a Firefly…

Over the last couple of weeks, I have encountered several posts on Facebook about making ‘fireflies’ out of plastic eggs.  Mic thought they were really cool and took on the task of prepping the activity.  He found some awesome rainbow eggs on clearance and hit Walmart for some LED tea lights.  He used a small drill bit to make holes for the legs and antennae.  And cut up some pipe cleaners.  His enthusiasm was infectious!


This project got me thinking about the first time I saw a firefly…  There are no fireflies on the West Coast where I grew up.  When I graduated from college, we took a trip down the East Coast.  We planned to spend a little time in North Carolina and one of my goals was to see a firefly.  Our trip began in Boston and we rode the train down the Eastern Seaboard, hitting many of the major cities, ending up in New Orleans.  About halfway through the trip, we were in Washington DC, running all over the Mall, taking in the sights.  It was the end of a long day and we were walking up…  I think it was Pennsylvania Avenue… in the dusky twilight, when suddenly I noticed a couple of glowing bugs fly by me.  It took me a moment to realize what I was seeing, but when I did – I stopped dead in my tracks…  I had hoped to see fireflies in North Carolina, but hadn’t even thought to look for them in DC.  What a delightful surprise!  I was thrilled!  Fortunately there weren’t a lot of people around or they would have wondered about the crazy young woman freaking out about the fireflies.  😉  I have looked through every picture I can find on my computer, but can’t find the ones I swear I took that night.  The moment is so vivid in my memory…  I don’t really need a picture…

Anyways, we put the ‘fireflies’ together.

The materials for one ‘firefly’: plastic egg, pipe cleaner (cut into four equal pieces – we mixed and matched colors…), strip of paper, googly eyes, glue dots, and a LED tea light.


Drilled holes for legs and antennae..


Threading in the pipe cleaner pieces…




Adding googly eyes with glue dots…


The kids colored the strips of paper and we cut out ‘free-form’ wings…


A glue dot on the back attached the wings..


We decided it worked best to put the tea light in the “head,” pointing towards the “back.”


A firefly!


Glow bugs!




Lightning bug family….



The project was definitely a hit!

After running around in the dark for a while, Lala told me, “I’m going to keep my firefly forever because you made it and it’s not alive.”  She knows things that are alive have to be let go to “live free and in the wild” as the Wild Kratts say.  🙂

A wonderful thing about life is how simple things can bring joy to others and remind you of wonderful memories!  I still have lots of things I want to see…  the Northern Lights, Mayan Pyramids, beaches of Normandy, Great Barrier Reef, White Cliffs of Dover, the Great Wall of China…  What’s on your ‘bucket list?’  Go…  Make a memory!  It can start with something as simple as a plastic egg…  🙂

Sprouting Seeds and Wiggly Worms – Gardening Update

We are excited to report our first sprouts of the season are up!  We have teeny, tiny tomato plants!  Hooray!

The peas and carrots we planted outside haven’t shown any signs of growth yet…  Gardening takes time…  We’ve been watering them every day and looking for sprouts…

We did have fun with some worms…


We found these cool Bug Kits at Dollar Tree for…  you guessed it… a dollar.  🙂


Add a little dirt from the garden…


And some strawberry stems…


And voila!  You have a worm habitat…


We enjoyed observing the worms for a couple of days and then put them in the garden.


I’ve done several projects with the gardening class I am teaching at our co-op, but hadn’t made the time to do them with my kids…  so we rectified that situation.  🙂


My idea was to plant bean seeds in a clear plastic cup in a paper towel, so the kids could watch how the seeds sprout and grow…


I got the paper towel wet and had Lala stuff it loosely in the cup…


Bean seeds!


Seeds tucked in paper towel folds…


Now we just have to remember to keep the towel wet…


We read the book One Bean by Anne Rockwell.  You can get a copy from Amazon using the link below.  (If you use this link to make any purchases, we will receive a small commission.  For more information, please see our Legal Stuff page.  Link will open in a new tab):

Herb Garden

I picked up these little herb gardens…  at Dollar Tree…


Opening the seed packet released the fragrant smell of dill…


Planted and watered…


Add on the handy dandy ‘greenhouse’ covers and…  Now to wait for fragrant herbs to grow…


Egg Heads

Another use for plastic eggs…  Decorate with a face on the lower portion of the egg.  (The one in the upper left hand corner below was the first one I did…  the eyes and nose should be on the lower piece…)  I used a fine point permanent marker.


Add soil and seeds… to make hair… We used chives.  Grass seed would work well, but is more expensive…


Doing these projects with the kids is so much fun!  Next week we will talk about radishes in a bag and…  Stay tuned!