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Posts Tagged ‘kids’

  1. Winter Walk At Indian Lake

    February 29, 2016 by admin

    No need to sit inside all year.  There’s always a way to get outside and explore.

    We are blessed to have a good county park system in our area.  This makes it so much easier to get out and explore all year around.

    Our latest adventure took us to Indian Lake County Park, about a twenty minute drive from our house.admin-ajax.php

    A walk through the winter woods is a great adventure.  Making sure we wore proper clothes, we were comfortable during our long walk.  We were able to explore to our hearts content before turning back and heading for the car.

    Along the way we found animal tracks, a warming cabin which inspired a long talk about planning a camping trip,  cool leaves that had melted into the ice, and this funky fungus!  Much better than staying inside.

    We used the “I’ll follow you.” method of exploring the park to give Bluey the maximum amount of control over exploring this park.  He chose the paths, he made changes in our explore- he was in charge.  And when he was ready to back, we returned to the car.

    With no pre-selected path, we explored the many cross-country skiing paths, and meandered through the woods.  It was a great morning of exploring, creating another great memory, and another place where Bluey says: “Let’s go back there soon.”

     


  2. Homeschool Snowday

    January 26, 2016 by admin

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    One reason to love homeschooling is we get to have a whole new definition of ‘snowday’ ‘holliday’ and ‘vacation.’  Our recent snow means P.E. happens on the hill!  We guarantee that our Bluey gets more moving around time in his day than his public schooled peers.  IMG_3875


  3. Calculated

    September 14, 2015 by admin

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    School is now in full swing. Back to school shopping has been completed.  Paperwork has been filled out and filed.  Extraneous school fees for things like orchestra, sports, etc., have somehow been paid.  You breathe a sigh of relief and get ready for the typical drama that any new school year brings as your child navigates friendships and homework.

    51555_calc_machine_mdAnd then your kid comes home and declares, “I need a graphing calculator for math.”  Ummm…okay.  We don’t recall seeing that on the supply list but we’ll get right on it.  We can find a calculator at any type of Dollar Store, Walgreens, etc.  No problem!  And then reality hits.  A quick google search shows that the average price of a graphing calculator is around $100.

    We can swing $100 but it is an unexpected major blow to our budget.  And since we are hard hit by this expense, we can only imagine that many families find the purchase simply impossible.  There are some free, and some low cost, apps of graphic calculators.  But purchasing apps works on the assumption that all families have unlimited access to the web and that teachers will allow personal devices, like iPhones or iPads, in their classrooms.

    No family should be faced with an unaffordable educational purchase that is required for the successful completion of a class.  And no child should have to deal with the embarrassment of figuring out how to ask the school for charity.

    We live under constant bombardment of news stories and politicking calling for increased attention to STEM (Science/ Technology/ Engineering/ Math) curricula in schools.  Students are taught on a daily basis that success in these fields is vital for their future careers.  (Setting aside for the moment the question of whether a STEM focus is the best direction for schools to be heading…)  How is a student supposed to find success in STEM classes if they aren’t given the tools required to learn those topics within our public schools?

    It doesn’t have to be this way.  If our nation values STEM classes, then our nation must also value getting a graphing calculator into the hands of any student who needs one.

    So we reach out to:

    • Mayim Bialik:  Actress, Doctor, and brand amabassador for Texas Instruments Education Technology.
    • STEM Education Coalition:  Working diligently to educate on the critical role STEM education plays in the US.
    • Bill Gates:  Founder of Microsoft and philanthropist.
    • Vi Hart:  Recreational mathemusician.
    • Danica McKellar: PhD Mathematician, Author of math books including “Math Doesn’t Suck” and “Hot X”, Actress

     

    This is our starting list of influencers we call upon to join this cause.

    Here’s our proposal:

    Let’s work together to create a national program that puts a graphing calculator in the hands of any child age 12 – 18 for free.  If a family can make a donation when they pick up their absolutely free graphing calculator, great!  And if they can donate back their free graphing calculator at the end of their schooling career- fantastic!  But nothing will be required to pick up a free graphing calculator beyond proof of age.  It seems like such an attainable goal.

    And so very necessary.

    Who’s with us? We know there are many people (more than listed above!) passionate about education, math, and closing the severe educational gap caused in part by economic disparities. Local and far flung friends, let’s get this done for all kids in this country!

    We will keep you updated with our progress as we move forward and as we find other possible solutions to this national issue.  Every student should be able to pursue STEM classwork as far as their interests and aptitudes take them.  No child should find a door closed to them because they lack the immediate resources to buy the tools needed to succeed.


  4. Horicon National Wildlife Refuge

    September 7, 2015 by admin

    IMG_2111Horicon National Wildlife Refuge is a place of wonder.  Located just about 1 hour from Madison, it is a super easy day trip for a hike or a bike ride upon your arrival.

    We had decided to bike and made our first vehicle stop at the Federal Visitor Center on Headquarters Road for some suggestions on the best path for our family.  We were pleased to discover a nice nature display, an observation deck, a small gift shop, and clean bathrooms within the Center.

    The Center’s guide suggested that we try a bike path that runs along side an auto tour road.  This path included access to a network of floating pathways which led out into the wetlands and a central observation spot. We have the most luck on our hikes and biking when our travels include water, so we knew this was probably a great trail to explore.

    Tip1: Be careful to examine your maps closely. In our haste to begin, we ended up on a path that shared the way with vehicles. The majority of drivers were using extreme caution, but a few zipped down the path with seemingly no care about the blind corners, hikers, and bicyclists.

    We were happy that the bike trail had only a few rises that Bluey easily managed. We had to leave our bikes to explore the floating pathways.

    Tip2: There are no bike racks at the head of walking-only pathways. Be prepared to take valuables with you and to leave your bike propped off the main road.

    The surroundings were breathtaking. We’ve done a lot of biking and hiking in the areas in and around Madison. But we were impressed with the beauty of Horicon National Wildlife Refuge.  And we had more wildlife encounters than we’ve ever experienced in our prior outings.  If you aren’t familiar with many species of water birds, you may want to tuck a pocket guide in your gear.  You will have a chance to see many rare birds in a wildlife setting such as this.

    Tip3: It appears that dogs are allowed on many trails but we’d suggest you leave them at home if you are interested in experiencing wildlife.

    Even though we spotted a school bus, vehicles, and others out and about on the trails- we managed to enjoy the majority of the area we chose on our own, without fighting crowds. Parking wasn’t an issue and access is free.

    We can’t wait to go back in the Fall and perhaps witness some migratory bird viewing!


  5. Come Kale Or High Water

    July 6, 2015 by admin

    IMG_1266We are always looking for ways to introduce nutritious snacking option to our kids.

    Kale chips are a low calorie, super easy, and very tasty choice that you can make at home in less than ½ hour.

    Pick up a good bunch of Kale from your local farmer’s market or favorite grocery store.  Wash the leaves and then dry all of them thoroughly.  Next, cut the leafy green away from the stalk.  But don’t just throw out those stalks!  You can save them for soup stock!  Or chop them down and saute them into your next stir fry.  Or feed them to bunnies!IMG_1263

    We hear kale is pretty easy to grow in your garden.  We haven’t tried that yet, but we’ll let you know when we do!

    Tip1: If you fold the kale along the stalk, you can easily cut straight down to separate both halves from the stem.

    Use your fingers to rip down the leafy parts into chip size pieces and put them into a large bowl.  Toss theKale with olive oil and coarse kosher sea salt and set aside.  Line a cookie sheet with tinfoil or parchment paper.

    Tip2: We put a coat of olive oil on our tinfoil.

    Distribute the Kale in an even layer on the cookie sheet.  Cook at 350degrees for 10 minutes.  Rotate your tray and perhaps flip your kale.  Cook for an additional 10 minutes or until you’ve got your desired crispness.

    Enjoy!


  6. Car Tunes

    May 13, 2015 by admin

    It’s no secret that this TRFamily loves music! IMG_0766

    One place we always have the tunes playing is the car,  Nothing is more fun, or helps a long car ride, like a family sing-along.  So when we purchased our newest car and found its older radio was not compatible with iPod music players, we knew we’d pretty quickly have to swap it out for a different receiver.

    Why is this so important?  Well, for a couple of reasons:

    1.  We love the no commercials and no sometimes shocking news reports version of listening to music via our mp3 equipped phones.

    2.  Our iPod enables us to create long custom lists featuring songs everyone in the family likes.  We all know the words to most of the songs on the playlist, so everyone can join in and sing, or play an awesome air-guitar lick.

    After some internet research, we were able to find an inexpensive but reliable unit that would fit in our car.

    IMG_3057Then Bluey and TRDad got to work putting it into the car.

    Installing your own car stereo is a fun and worthwhile project.  Along the way we were able to cover a variety of topics including:

    Safety rules (like disconnecting your car battery before you start).

    Color matching while sorting wires for the adapter cables.

    The importance of reading instructions and proceeding carefully and methodically with a big project.

    Hands-on skills of using screwdrivers and wrenches correctly.

    And the all important value of Doing It Yourself

    Naturally, Bluey got to take the old radio apart.IMG_0786

    Our project took most of a Saturday morning.  It rewarded us with a great new stereo unit and the satisfaction of knowing we’d done it ourselves.  We know our Bluey will remember this for a long time.  Next time something breaks on the car, or some piece of electronics needs to be upgraded, he’ll be ready to take on the challenge.


  7. These Are A Few Of Our Favorite Reads

    May 1, 2015 by admin

    We love to read. And we love to read out loud to Bluey. Our evening culminates in reading before bed. And our day begins with reading while snuggled up on the couch.

    Bluey and TRMom have two favorite new series that we think you may like check out, too!

    IMG_3026Violet Mackerel is a series written by Anna Branford that follows an independent, quirky, and insightful young girl as she reacts to the world around her. The writer manages to capture the subtle genius of childhood thoughts and is never condescending towards her young characters. You can’t help but fall in love with Violet as she defends trees or attempts to save money to purchase a treasure.   The books are perfect for reading out loud to your youngster.

    Mighty Monty is another series but this one is written by Johanna Hurwitz. The books follow a young boy with asthma who is timid, intelligent, and thoughtful. His many adventures will have you cheering him on and wanting more. The writer’s style is simplistic without being patronizing to her young readers or exascerbating to read aloud for a parent.  Ms. Hurwitz also writes the Riverside Kids series, and we really enjoyed Super-Teddy which was our introduction to that series.IMG_3027

    What are your favorite books of late?


  8. Connections

    April 29, 2015 by admin

    IMG_2723A funny thing happens when you embark on the path of un-schooling.

    You start to see connections you didn’t anticipate.  By following the diverse interests of our young Kindergartner, we frequently find- voila!- something we are doing today is connected to something else we did the other day.  And no one planned it.  It is just the natural route of the unstructured pursuit of knowledge.  You follow your path and you find it crosses over where you have trod before.

    For example- Bluey was recently learning how to skateboard with some help from TRDad.  He’s just getting started, so we’re working a lot on keeping balanced on the board and putting our feet down in the right spots.  Later, Bluey headed for karate class.  In order to do a new spiraling kick move, he needed to keep his balance and get his feet in the right spot!  Another example- we’d previously discussed with his swim instructors that they were seeing more fluidity in Bluey’s swim strokes after he started karate, where repetitive arm movements are the norm.  And yet another example- we read a comic about ninjas at home and Bluey discovers the students in the comic call their teacher “Sensei” and practice their moves in the dojo just like he does in his own Karate class.IMG_9479

    The connections keep going.  Once you start realizing how everything is related, you start to see it everywhere!

    We’re reading a whole book about cats, and learning how cats are able to balance and jump as they do.  We hadn’t planned the cat studies to tie in with karate and skateboarding, but they do.  As we follow one trail of interest, it inevitably crosses or runs parallel to a different trail.  These crossroads and parallel strands serve to reinforce the learning and help explain why we’re so happy with our homeschool/un-schooling life!


  9. People In Your Neighborhood

    April 22, 2015 by admin

    65084_town_mdFinding a new home is as much about finding the right neighborhood as it is about finding the right house.  Maybe more.  After all, you can make direct improvements to your house- add rooms, change windows, even tear the whole thing down and start over again.  But making changes to your neighborhood is a much more difficult endeavor.

    So while you are driving around looking at different houses, pay attention to the neighborhood.  What do you see?  What types of activities seem common?  Are people out tending lawns and gardens?  Are kids biking and skating around?  Is anyone shooting hoops at the basketball court?

    Do your best to try to find a home in a neighborhood where the neighbors are doing the types of activities you’ll wish to do.

    Figure out what you like in a neighborhood.  Are you hoping for active and chatty neighbors and noisy kids?  Or do you want seclusion and the quiet of your own abode?

    For us, we are seeking out an active family-friendly place, where we and our kids can get to know the neighbors.  So when we drive through a neighborhood, like the one we are moving to, and see kids on roller skates and families working on the front lawn, and lots of homes with basketball hoops- we know we are seeing good signs that this is a place where we will thrive.

    You are buying a home to live in for many years- maybe decades.  Make sure it is situated in a neighborhood you like.


  10. Science Is Fun

    April 19, 2015 by admin

    IMG_0615 Our Plum recently went to a science fair hosted by our local University.  Among the various exhibits and presentations, Plum discovered Oobleck.  It’s fun to say and even more of a good time to manipulate!

    The recipe is super simple:

    • 1 part water
    • 2 parts cornstarch
    • a drop or two of food coloring if you desire

     

    Mix all of the above together until you have a consistency that works for you.

    IMG_0617Your kids will be fascinated by the Oobleck.  You can punch it and it will resist penetration.  You can scoop some up and form a ball.  But if you flatten your hand while holding the ball, the Ooobleck will slowly ooze from its original shape and drip back into your bowl.

    Let your kids explore and learn from this neat mass.  The clean up is a breeze as  Oobleck dissolves in water.