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Story Time: Water Dance

The Water Dance Story Time

Happy Indepenence Day!!  I mean, if you’re from the States, of course.  It’s raining in Indiana today.  Pouring, actually, with a healthy dose of rumbly thunder and flashy lightning.  While I’m glad for the garden, I’m also glad we went to the fireworks show on Saturday.  Because today looks like a wash-out.

Which put me in mind of books about water.  So I have to Story Time up one of our all-time favorite books: Water Dance by Thomas Locker.  This book is gorgeous.  I mean, wow.  But it’s also a really good science lesson about the water cycle wrapped up in some pretty poetic language. There is even a section in the back that explains things more scientifically.  My Littles loved this book when they were young.  It made them feel like they were exploring the world.   If you haven’t read this one with your littles, get to the library now and check it out.  What are you waiting for?

You come to Story Time to find great activities to help your littles enjoy these wonderful books, so let’s get to it.


The Water Dance and the water cycle itself provide an opportunity to learn some pretty awesome new words.  Here’s a free printable for finding out the definitions of words related to both the book and the water cycle.


water cycle vocab printable



Story Time Science: cloud in a jar with lid

Cloud in a Jar

This is such a cool and simple weather experiment, and it doesn’t take long at all to do, but your littles will be fascinated by it.

What you’ll need:

cloud in a jar supplies


  • Jar with a lid
  • About 2 inches of water
  • 3-4 ice cubes
  • Hairspray or other aerosol can
  • Saucepan

What you do:

Warning:  These first 3 steps should be done by an adult.  Obviously.

  • Bring water to a boil in the saucepan

pour water into jar

  • Carefully pour boiling water into jar

swirl water

  • Put lid on jar and swirl water around to warm up the sides of the jar
  • Don’t burn your fingers like I did.  The sides of the jar will actually get hot. Duh.


  • Remove lid and turn upside down
  • Put 3-4 ice cubes in lid
  • Place upside down lid on jar
  • Let sit several seconds to allow the air at the top of jar to cool

spray aerosol

  • Quickly remove lid and spray a squirt of aerosol into the jar
  • Replace lid quickly so aerosol doesn’t escape (and yeah, leave it upside down with the ice cubes on it)

cloud formation

  • Watch cloud form

cloud release

  • Release your cloud

Holy wow, that is a cool project. If you’re wondering, the aerosol acts like the dust in the air that raindrops form around.  That’s why it’s necessary to the project.

Story Time Craft

Water Dance Watercolor

Story Time Craft: Watercolor


When we are enjoying a book with such glorious illustrations, we invariably decide to try to copy them.  Using watercolors gives your little a bit of freedom to make her own changes and/or fix mistakes.

What you need:

watercolor supplies

  • Watercolors
  • Watercolor paper
  • Paint Tray
  • Brushes
  • Water

What you do:


  • Pick a picture from the book that you want to copy
  • Study the colors, then fill your paint tray with what you’ll need
  • If you like, sketch your picture lightly in pencil
  • Dip your brush in water, then in paint
  • Paint your picture

watercolor compareIt’s fun to compare your painting to the original and see how close you got..  I’d say we did a decent job!


Well, the rain has stopped.  I suppose that means I should put this glorious book away and get some farm work done.

I hope your 4th is full of fireworks.

Love wins,


Free Garden Planning Pages

This time of year provides us homeschooling mamas and dadas with a great opportunity to teach our littles about life and biology and botany and how connected we are (or should be) with our planet.  Getting into the garden or the greenhouse is one of my favorite ways to teach.

morning garden 4

You can study life cycles in the garden, simply by growing a plant from seed and watching it for an entire season.  Keeping a diary or calendar of the plant’s growth can help your little understand scientific observation.  Planning a garden helps your little learn about how things grow together.  If you’re planting flowers, you can add an ongoing color lesson for art studies.  If you’re planting vegetables your little can learn about where food comes from and what is good for his body.  Littles can learn how plants need water, soil, and sunlight.  If you’re starting in a greenhouse, they can learn about how different seeds need different temperatures to sprout.

morning garden 1

There is so much a little can learn about life from gardening, but one of the most important lessons they can take away from gardening is that hard work pays off.  Gardening takes some work–you have to baby those seedlings, make sure your plants are getting the right amount of water, keep weeds from stealing the necessary nutrients, and harvest at the right time.  My Littles have been helping with the gardens since they were old enough to walk, and they groan when the weeding or hoeing needs done, but they realize that all that work is going to result in lots of fresh food and beautiful flowers to enjoy from the patio.  So they do it.  I love that it keeps them physical all summer, beyond jumping on the trampoline or swimming in the pool.  It makes them work those growing muscles in ways they wouldn’t otherwise.

morning garden 2

We always grow one special thing for each of the boys in our veggie/fruit garden.  For Littlest it’s watermelon.  For Middle, it’s our grape arbor.  This year we bought some new seeds that are supposed to grow giant watermelons, so Littlest better have his grubby hands ready to get sticky.  We’ve walked out to the orchard and looked at how our fledgling apple trees are covered in blooms this year, promising an actual crop of fresh apples for the first time.  Even the pear trees are producing this year, though not quite as much as the apples.

morning garden 3

Every year the things we grow provide fresh insight and lessons into science and nature.  I want the whole world to enjoy that connection.  I’ve made up a couple of freebies for you, and you don’t even have to subscribe to get them.  Though it’d be a lot cooler if you did.

Here’s a set of Garden Planning Pages to get you and your littles started:


garden planning pages


And here is a set of Garden Diary/Calendar pages to help your littles learn all season:

my plant diary


Print these out and get outside with your littles and enjoy glorious spring.  Learn while you’re having fun?  Yeah yeah.

That’s the stuff.

Love wins,


14 Ways to Take Your Homeschool Outside

There is nothing better, as the days warm up and lengthen, than getting your homeschool on in the outdoors.  It’s a great time for older littles and younger littles alike to get outside and witness all the newness out there.  Plus, if you have boys, then you’re with me in knowing that their attention spans can only be corralled inside for an hour or two at most when it’s warm.

14 Ways to take your homeschool outside and use nature as your teacher

But outside?  There is fun to be had and they’ll barely realize they’re learning something.

I have to start out by saying that the easiest way to take your homeschool outside is to gather your things and go outside.  Spread a blanket, cop a squat, do your lessons.  But you’re looking for specifics here, aren’t you?  Well, I have 14 ideas, so here we go.

Continue reading

Solutions for When You Just Can’t

I really didn’t mean to write a series.  But I figure you would like to know how things turned out and what I’ve decided to do about next week.  If you haven’t read about the week we’ve had here at Lit Mama, you can do so here and here.

All caught up?  Great.  So it turns out Martin’s baboon heart is actually pretty healthy.  It has a slight arrhythmia, which the cardiologist is treating with pills.  But they really think the underlying problem is sleep apnea.  See, when you have this problem, your body is constantly tensed to wake you because your blood is not getting enough oxygen while you sleep, which means your brain and heart aren’t getting enough oxygen for a a third of your day.  Which causes a lot of stress on the body, especially the heart.  I have to tell you, when we went into this, with all the scary tests looming and Martin feeling worse than he ever has, I would never have imagined sleep apnea being the thing.  They let me bring him home today and he may even be able to return to work next week.  So, now that I know nothing life-threatening is happening with my love, my own exhaustion from all the stress is something I intend to baby through Sunday.  I may not leave my couch, I ain’t gonna lie.

Nevertheless, I’ve been really–no, reeeeaaalllllyyyy–struggling with how to handle next week.  We didn’t really get a spring break.  Not one of us feels rested and rejuvenated and ready to jump back into school.  Our India unit we were supposed to pick up on Monday is in no way prepared.  I have so much I have to get done, because I got nothing At All done this week (and you should see my poor laundry room. Apparently, even when I’m not home people here still change their clothes every day.  Who knew?).

I think it would be physically, as well as mentally, impossible to do a full school week.

So here’s what I’m thinking.  We still have about half of Return to Gone-Away to read.  And we like science experiments, crafts, and nature study.  So I’m thinking we do our read-aloud every day.  We add in 1 science experiment or craft.  We pick 1 thing from nature to scavenge on a short walk, then the Littles can write and draw about it in their journals every day.


I got the idea because I spent A Lot of yesterday trolling Pinterest for lack of any better entertainment.  And I realized I have pinned so many things and then forgotten them.  And I Really wanted to do them when I pinned them.  So (also) here’s what I’m thinking in terms of the craft/experiment.  Because you like to find a bunch of links all in one place, right?!

DIY Nebula Jar from momdot








This is simple, sure, but since we just finished reading an Earthsky article about the recent comet flybys and we definitely aren’t schooling today, I know my Littles are still way interested in all things space. There’s a succinct explanation of nebulae on the website, the craft is pretty, and will require little work from me.  Oh. Yeah.

Magic Fluorescent Mud from The King of Random on youtube

magic mud





This is basically the same thing as the ‘oobleck’ we used to make at the library for Dr. Seuss day.  With this, you get the added adventure of making the powder from potatoes yourselves, plus it glows under a black light.  Win-win.  Again, my brain won’t even have to function.

Shadow tracing from The Artful Parent






I don’t think this is something we’ve ever done.  Though I don’t know that we’ll use grape sculptures, I love the idea of tracing shadows to get a result.  And I won’t really have to do much to get them going on this, either.

Loving this pattern!

Make a Kazoo from The Joys of Boys

diy kazoo





What boys don’t like to make noise?  I’ll turn it into a real music lesson and make them kazoo Moonlight Sonata for me from memory.  They’d better hope they know their Beethoven!

Make a Pirate Treasure Map of Our Yard from Teach Beside Me

pirate map of yard







This cool project uses Google Maps and a grid to make a map of your yard.  It’s great grid practice, as well as fun, so we’ll probably do that on our warmest day.

Egg Carton Flowers from I Heart Arts and Crafts








I heart these flowers!  And the boys love to paint!  So they can’t complain that I’m making them paint flowers.  Or else.

Coffee Filter Flowers from Fun-A-day

coffee filter flowers







Aren’t they pretty?  I might just stop torturing them by then and make these myself.  🙂

Actually, I think what I’ll do is write each of these projects down on a paper strip, drop the strips into a jar, and draw one every day next week.  I know they might be a little young for my boys, but I am also sure they will lead to conversations in which we will learn something–organic conversations that I don’t have to work too hard at, that we can have at 8 or 10 or 12 or after dinner, after a full, stress-free night of sleep.

Sounds like bliss.

If you are like me, and you’re slightly neurotic and unable to give yourself a break, planning a light week of fun is a simple solution that can help you feel better about everything.  You can even use some of my ideas.

Thanks for sticking with me through all this, lovely readers.  Your comments and messages have helped me more than I can express.

I’ll leave you with one final thought for the week:

Screw. Drama.

I’ll take a side of no more of that, please.

Love wins,