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Posts Tagged ‘Learning’

  1. Homeschool Snowday

    January 26, 2016 by admin

    IMG_3875

    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


  2. 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.


  3. 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!


  4. 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.


  5. Journey To The Center Of The Etch-A-Sketch

    February 25, 2015 by admin

    oa_feature_etch_0.pngOne quiet afternoon, Bluey came out of his room with an Etch-a-Sketch.

    “Can we take this apart and see how it works?  Maybe we can fix it?”

    Since the toy was already mostly non-functional, it seemed like a fun adventure.IMG_2776_2

    All we had to go on was the knowledge that there was some sort of powder inside, and some sort of controls that scratched the powder off the glass.  We didn’t know much more.

    Tip: We did a quick google search to confirm that the powder was non-toxic and harmless.  So no worries there!  But we wore safety goggles as a precaution.

    There are no discernible screws or other points of entry into the Etch-a-Sketch.  Apparently, the folks at Ohio Arts don’t encourage this sort of activity.  Undeterred, we brought out a flat headed screwdriver, and ultimately a chisel, to split the connection between the red front, and the black back of the device.IMG_2775

    Inside, and spilling onto our arts and crafts table, we found a super-fine aluminum powder, and the clever string and pulley system that controls the stylus.

    Tip2:  Be prepared for a huge mess, if you take this on.  The powder gets everywhere, coating surfaces like paint.  But it all cleans up relatively easily, so don’t be discouraged.

    IMG_2777_2Seeing how the Etch-A-Sketch works was a lot of fun, and well worth the effort.  We’d wondered for years what was inside, and had to satisfy ourselves with a vague: “some sort of powder or sand.”  Now we know what the powder is and how the mechanism functions.  We weren’t able to fix the toy, but we had lot of fun figuring out how it works!


  6. Animals In Winter

    January 23, 2015 by admin

    IMG_2739 We don’t let winter keep this TR family indoors.  There are many great, fun things to do outside during the winter: sledding, building snow forts, conducting science experiments, and more!

    A fun adventure we enjoy is to go on a winter hike.  Hiking in the winter is a different experience than going during a warmer season.  For one thing, you have to dress right.

    You might think there are fewer animals to see in winter.  A lot are hibernating and many others migrate.  There aren’t a ton of critters left to observe, right?

    Wrong.  A lot of Animals are still out and about during the winter months, even in the most extreme weather.  You just have to know what to look for.

    IMG_2748We are reminded of one of our favorite illustrated books on this topic: Animals In Winter, by Henrietta Bancroft, Richard G. Van Gelder and Gaetano di Palma.  We’ve been reading this book to our kiddos since they were tiny tots.  The poetic writing and space pen-and-ink drawings beautifully capture the wonder of the wilds in winter.  Our family learned from the start that animals are up to all sorts of activity during the winter.

    We took this knowledge with us on a recent walk at the Waubesa Wetlands State Natural Area.  Bluey had been learning about foxes and wanted to try to see some in the wild.  Using this as our motivation, we headed out to a likely habitat.

    IMG_2737Tip: Be prepared when heading out for a inter hike.  Parks and natural areas are sparsely attended in the thick of winter.  Dress warmly, and be careful not to overestimate how far your group can hike.  Remember you have to be able to make it back to the car.  Bring a cell phone.

    Immediately upon stepping out of the car we found a trail of canine footprints that were too large to be a fox.  We guessed they were coyotes which we also knew to frequent that area.  Undeterred in our desire to explore, we followed the coyote pack’s prints through the fresh snow and saw where their path crossed those of squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks and deer.IMG_2735

    And it’s not just mammal prints we found.  We saw hawk footprints near a deer carcass, including a great imprint of the bird’s tail feathers as it crouched in the snow.  We’d never seen that before!

    IMG_2736As beautiful as this natural area is, we would never be able to have this adventure if not for the recent snow and cold temperatures.  We were able to enjoy a beautiful hike, see some amazing signs of animal life, and engage in a meaningful discussion about our local wildlife and what these animals might be up to in the winter.

    To top off our discussion of animals that migrate, hibernate or stick around in winter, a large group of Canada Geese passed over us on their migration route as we headed back to our car.


  7. Karate Kid

    January 18, 2015 by admin

    IMG_2723Our homeschool Phys. Ed. program recently moved up a notch when Bluey enrolled in karate at East Madison Karate (EMK).

    Bluey’s been asking about karate for some time now, but it took us a while to get our ducks in a row.  We had to do our research, make sure this was an activity we could afford, and decide whether it would fit into our ever more complicated family schedule.

    The delay between Bluey expressing an interest in karate and his class enrollment allowed us a chance to confirm his strong interest.  We didn’t want to sign him up and have him drop after one class.  This extra time also afforded us the opportunity to give Bluey a background in what the classes would be like and what sorts of things he would do there.

    So by the time we took him in for his first class, Bluey was raring to go!

    EMK offers a class for Kindergarten through 2nd graders.  We love that he gets to work along side kids his own age and some that are just a little bit older.  Kids and instructors are all super-friendly and helpful.  Bluey fits right in and is already bonding with his classmates!  Karate is a great experience for our youngest.

    We are hoping karate will also help Bluey:

    • Make new friends in the neighborhood.  As a homeschool family, we are always on the lookout for new ways for Bluey to meet people in his age group.
    • Get Physical.  Although Bluey is always on the move, we think the structured environment of karate will help him to build coordination and physical fitness in a different way than his usual routine.
    • Encourage self-control.  The focus to learn new skills, the quiet required as a show of respect, and the attention to detail to learn new skills during karate can only benefit Bluey in all areas of his development.
    • Gain Self-confidence.  Karate, like most martial arts, teaches self-defense and helps build confidence for our Bluey as he moves through his world.

     

    We are excited to watch Bluey make his way in this new world of martial arts.


  8. Let The Games Begin

    January 14, 2015 by admin

    Pettsons-Inventions-Walkthrough-20We received a tablet computer as a gift some time ago.  We decided, after much discussion, to allow our youngest to use the tablet within certain time periods and in specific situations.  Bluey loves it and we were quite surprised at the amount of excellent apps available.

    Our top three apps for kids (available for iPhone and Android):

    1. Toca Builders – This game allows your child to build designs within a “toca” universe.  There is an amazing amount of manipulation in size, shape, and color available to your youngster.  It is always interesting to see Bluey’s creativity as he flexes his architectural skill.
    2. Pettson’s Inventions – Help Pettson create inventions and celebrate with the app characters when you succeed!
    3. Sprinkle – Indulge your young fire fighter and watch him/her work through logic problems and learn about water physics as your child attempts to put out fires in this adorable world called “Titan.”screen568x568

     

    We  like these games because they are:

    • Free or Inexpensive:  When you are not sure if a game will work well, or if it will be enjoyable, having a low price point is very important.
    • Challenging But Solvable:  One of the things we like about the tablet is that it puts Bluey in charge.  He figures out the rules and goals of the games, pretty much on his own.  We are always nearby to assist!  But knowing that he is solving these puzzles and designing these creations makes ‘computer time’ a valuable part of our home life.
    • Teaching Basic Computer Skills:  With each finger swipe and click, and every unfortunate crash of the tablet, our young Bluey is learning more about computer technology and systems.  In our increasingly connected world, our youngest knows about wi-fi, battery power, and rebooting games- all due to his time with his tablet.

     

    We practice a simple but clear system for finding new app.  When a new game is wanted, TRMom and TRDad do the searching and downloading after Bluey’s bedtime.  Each app is checked for appropriateness and functionality.  Does this game fit in with our family views on violence and rules about harsh language?  Are the goals of the game ones we support?  Does the game work?  Or does it require a wi-fi connection?

    It is our experience that if an adult keeps an eye on what games are being played, a tablet with monitored time can be a fun and educational addition to your child’s world.

    Try out these games and let us know what apps are your faves!


  9. Discovery World

    January 11, 2015 by admin

    We were recently gifted with a membership to the Discovery World Museum (DWM) in Milwaukee.  We immediately started making plans for a visit.  We’d been to this museum before, so we knew it would be a great trip.  In fact, our kids had been asking when we’d get to go back!

    Tip1:  DWM has very steep admission prices.  If you don’t have a membership, you’ll need to plan ahead for the expense.

    We started our exploration of the DWM at the science and biology end of the building- a three story wing that faces Lake Michigan and offers amazing views along with great interactive displays.  We particularly love the Great Lakes map exhibit where you can actually make rain fall from the ceiling.  And our Bluey greatly enjoys scrambling around on the full sized boat on the 2nd floor.

    IMG_9770In the basement level, a top-notch aquarium can keep you mesmerized for quite some time.  There are jellyfish to watch, and sting rays and sturgeon fish that you can touch!  They feel like… well, that would be telling. You’ll have to find out on your own. 😉

    Tip2:  A snack before romping through the DWM’s 2nd wing is a great idea.  There is only one small, overpriced cafe at the museum.  We recommend you enjoy your own snacks from home!

    At the other side of the building, you’ll find the technology in Wisconsin wing.  It holds fabulous displays on various machines that have been developed and built in Wisconsin- from Evinrude engines to Les Paul guitars.  There are countless devices to manipulate and learn the science and technology that went into making them.

    Also within this wing, The Kohls Design Center allows you to take a break from the museum exhibits and create various arts and crafts projects – for FREE.  A team of assistants will help you find all the materials you need to make a unique craft that you can take home from the museum.IMG_9768

    Exploring the entire DWM will easily take all day, if you can last that long.  If possible, we recommend you break your enjoyment of the DWM into several separate day trips.


  10. Best of 2014

    December 31, 2014 by admin

    56571_party_mdAs we welcome in 2015, we at ThriftyRambler wanted to take a few moments to reflect on 2014. Here are some of our favorite posts of the year:

    http://www.thriftyrambler.com/2014/12/21/the-macgyver-solution/

    http://www.thriftyrambler.com/2014/11/02/the-joy-of-listening/

    http://www.thriftyrambler.com/2014/10/22/gender-frustration/

    http://www.thriftyrambler.com/2014/08/29/begin-the-vegan/

    http://www.thriftyrambler.com/2014/05/28/lego-to-go/

    http://www.thriftyrambler.com/2014/05/23/tree-lover/

    http://www.thriftyrambler.com/2014/02/14/winter-biking/

    http://www.thriftyrambler.com/2014/01/01/knowing-your-ingredients/

    http://www.thriftyrambler.com/the-thriftyrambler-kindness-project/ (launched in 2013 but continues throughout the years!)

    http://www.thriftyrambler.com/2014/11/07/chili-with-tvp/

    We are thrilled interact with all of our readers and we thank you for being a part of this homegrown project. We are excited to see what the coming year has in store for all of us! We encourage you to continue to reach out to us with ideas or comments.

    Wishing all of you a peaceful, loving and prosperous 2015.