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Story Time: Jake Johnson-The Story of a Mule

Story Time: Jake Johnson 4th of July Activities

If you’re looking for something a little different to read for the 4th of July, look no further than this hilarious gem. Jake Johnson  by Tres Seymour is the tale of a farmer taking some fireworks to the fairgrounds for the Independence Day celebration, but he has to convince his mule, Jake Johnson, to pull the wagon. Hilarity ensues. It will have your littles cracking up. But you want some nifty acitivities to go along with the laughter, don’t you? Let’s stick with crafts, science, and food today, and keep it totally fun.

Jake Johnson-The Story of a Mule 4th of July crafts and activities

Science

There’s no better way to get your littles excited for the 4th of July than do some messy, cool science experiments with them, and I have 2 for you that are super simple (you probably already have the ingredients at home) yet still exciting.

Fireworks in a Jar for 4th of July

Fireworks in a jar

What you need:

fireworks in a jar supplies for 4th of july

 

  • 4 colors food coloring
  • 3-4 Tbsp baby oil
  • Clear glass jar
  • Water
  • Oil

What you do:

  • Fill the jar about 2/3 full with water

 

food coloring for fireworks in a jar

 

  • In a separate bowl, add oil and about 4 drops each of food coloring

mixing fireworks in a jar

 

  • Use a fork to gently mix the oil and food coloring together

pouring food coloring fireworks in a jar

  • Carefully pour the mixture into the jar

Fireworks in a Jar-4th of July

 

  • Watch the food coloring slowly sink from the oil to mingle and swirl with the other colors

What’s happening:

The oil, being less dense than water, floats at the top, but the food coloring has the same density as water and so will not float.  Once it sinks into the water it begins to dissolve which makes it look like a little explosion.  Cool, huh?  Boom.  You just worked in a density lesson!

Patriotic Vinegar and Baking Soda Experiment

Littlest Patriotic Vinegar and Baking Soda Experiment

You know I adore baking soda and vinegar experiments, but this one has become my favorite.  Why did I never think to heat the vinegar before?

What you need:

Patriotic vinegar supplies

  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • Red and Blue food coloring
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 2 equal sized jars
  • Saucepan
  • Tray to contain the mess

What you do:

  • Pour 1/4 cup vinegar into one jar
  • Divide baking soda in half, using 1/4 cup for each jar
  • In saucepan, heat 1/4 cup vinegar to just below boiling (tiny bubbles should appear in the bottom)

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  • Carefully pour heated vinegar into second jar
  • Place both jars near the center of your tray (I promise, this Will Be Messy!)
  • Add red food coloring (3 drops) to hot vinegar and blue food coloring to cool vinegar, and stir to mix
  • At the same time, pour baking soda into both jars

 

Patriotic vinegar20160620_094203

It’s really cool–the heated vinegar causes a quicker reaction that jumps higher into the air (almost resembling an explosion), while the cool vinegar has a slower reaction with a wider range of fizz.  It was kind of hard to capture it with the camera; it happened so quick, but you can see by Littlest’s fast-moving arm that he had to almost jump out of the way.

It. Was. Awesome.

 

Crafts for the 4th of July

Craft Stick 4th of July Flag

Craftstick Flag

What you need:

Craft Stick 4th of July Flag Supplies

  •  8 craft sticks
  • red, white, and blue craft paint
  • glue

What you do:

pencil-marked craft sticks

  • Cut or break one of your craft sticks in half, making sure the pieces are as equal in length as you can get them.  These are what you will attach the other sticks together with.  Set them aside.
  •   You will only be painting one side of the remaining craft sticks.  Paint 1/3 of 3 of the sticks blue.  I put the sticks together and mark them with a pencil so it’s all even.

Blue field of craft stick flag

 

red white and blue craft sticks

  • Alternate painting the remaining 2/3 of those four sticks red and white.

 

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  • Paint 2 of the remaining sticks red and the final one white.
  • Allow to dry

 

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  • Once the paint has dried, turn the sticks over, being sure that your blue field will be on the left-hand side and your top stick is blue and red.  Also, alternate the red and white sticks so you have a true-looking flag.  Line them up so that they’re straight at all edges.
  •  Now it’s time for the stick you cut in half.  Run a line of glue along one side of one piece and place it about 1/2 inch in from the end.  Be sure it touches all 7 of the flag sticks.  Now glue the other piece the same distance from the other end.  It should look like the bottom pic.

Stars on craft stick flag

  • Now that you have assembled your flag, you can paint a white star in the center of your blue field, or make 13 white dots to represent the original colonies ( you could try for 50, but it sounds like a lot of work!)

 

Fireworks Pom Poms

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These are also really easy to make, though younger littles may need a bit of help with the scissors.  You can make a bunch of red, white, and blue pom poms, or you can mix up the colors for variety.  You can make the pom poms a little fuller by adding another strip or two of crepe paper, but don’t use too much–they stop looking like fireworks and start resembling flowers.

What you need:

4th of July Pom Pom Supplies

 

  • Red, white, and blue crepe paper
  • Small dowel rods or kabob sticks
  • Scissors
  • Tape

 

What you do:

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  •  Cut a 6-inch strip of each color of crepe paper.
  •  Stack them atop one another.

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  • Fold the stacked crepe paper in half once.  Fold in half again.

 

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  • With your scissors, cut thin strips on one long edge of the folded paper.  You should leave about a 1/2-inch strip along the bottom for attaching it to your dowel rod or kabob stick.
  • It should look like the bottom picture

 

 

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  • Place one end of the dowel rod or kabob stick onto the uncut edge of the paper.  Roll the paper up from the short edge, making sure your cut edges are above the stick, which you are rolling up in the paper.

 

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  • Tape the bottom edge of the pom pom around the stick.

 

 

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  • With your fingers, fluff the cut edges until they resemble a firework.

Not too hard, huh?

4th of July Butterfly

4th of July Butterfly

What you need:

4th of July Butterfly

  • 2 coffee filters per butterfly
  • Red and blue food coloring
  • Chenille stems in color of your choice
  • Dropper or spray bottle

What you do:

food coloring 4th of july butterfly

 

  • Place coffee filters on a tray to keep the mess from spreading
  • Drop food coloring randomly onto filters

 

water dropper 4th of july butterfly

  • Use a dropper or spray bottle to spread the food coloring

drying filters 4th of july butterfly

 

  • Move to wax paper to dry (your tray will be wet, so it will take longer if you leave them on it)

fold stem over filters 4th of july butterfly

  • Once dry, fold 2 filters in half.  Place one atop the other with the rounded sides on opposite ends
  • Lay a chenille stem under filters
  • Fold stem up, gathering center of filters together

twist tem 4th of july butterfly

  • Twist ends of the stem together
  • Cut off to antenna size

finished 4th of july butterfly

  • Spread filters out until you have wing shapes

Just a small aside here–our wax paper stained with food coloring while the filters were drying.  We’re thinking of using it to make sun catchers tomorrow.  Win!

 

Food

What’s better on a hot July day than ice cream?  Here’s a fun way to sneak some fruit in on your littles with their cold snack.

Red White and Blue Ice Cream

4th of july ice cream

That’s right, scoop out a big ol’ bowl of vanilla ice cream, surround it with strawberries and top it with blueberries.  Um, yum!!

Littlest and Middle both loved it.  I bet your littles will, too.

Independence Day is an important historical anniversary here in the States, but it is also just a whole lot of fun.  So settle in with your littles, enjoy this hilarious book, and go ahead and do all these activities while you eat berries and ice cream.  I can’t think of a better way to spend the 4th of July.

Love wins,

KT

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Story Time: The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish

 

Before we head into Story Time, I want to remind you to take a look at the latest posts in the 30 Ways We Homeschool Series.  Also, we launched some Amazing Giveaways last week.  If you haven’t entered them yet, you can do so here, here, and here.  Now then.  On with the show.

Story Time-The Day I Swapped My Dad activities

Story Time is my favorite part of the week.

I love coming up with activities for beloved books, and I love Neil Gaiman.  I adore his sense of humor and his whimsy.  I’ve been a Huge Fan of his work for adults for many years, and I love his approach to children’s books.  Gaiman never talks down to kids.  He tells it like it is.  So if your little is a wee bit tired of Dad sitting around reading the newspaper or watching sports, or whatever takes Dad’s attention away from her, she will relate to The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish.  And maybe see how wrong it is to try to swap Dad out for something more interesting.  I will warn you–this is not a short.  It’s kind of long.  Maybe a 10-minute read.  But it’s hilarious and I think your littles will love it.

We need some fun Father’s Day activities for this Story Time, right?  Let’s get to it!

English

Here’s a free download of a booklet your little can make for Dad with prompts for 10 reasons Dad is so darn lovable (and you wouldn’t trade him for goldfish).  Your little can complete the sentences then draw Dad a picture about the sentence.

story time-10 reasons i love dad download

 

Science

Story Time -ginger beer

The children in the story have a glass of ginger beer while they are traipsing around town, swapping back all the things that have traded for their dad.  You and your littles can make homemade ginger beer quite easily, and you can include a lesson about yeast and fungi while you’re doing so.  How does that not rock?

What you need:

  • Empty 2-liter bottle (plastic–glass might explode because of the carbonation, and you Do Not want that.)
  • 1/2 tsp yeast
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 liters distilled water (don’t use tap water–yeast doesn’t like chlorine)
  • Juice of 4 lemons
  • 2-4 Tbsp ground ginger

What you do:

  • Sterilize the bottle by pouring boiling water into it.  Use a funnel.  So you don’t burn your hands.
  • Squeeze the lemon juice into a measuring cup
  • In a saucepan, heat your distilled water to 105-115 degrees.  Pour into the bottle, leaving enough room for the other ingredients.  (so leave out as many cups of water as you have lemon juice, plus a little wiggle room for the dry ingredients and a small pocket of air for the pressure to build up)
  • Add the sugar and lemons then cap the bottle and shake shake shake until they are well mixed with the water
  • Add the yeast, cap the bottle, and shake again
  • Store the bottle in a warm place for 24 hours
  • After 24 hours, give the bottle a good squeeze.  If you can dent it, give it a couple more hours until the bottle resists denting when you squeeze
  • Make sure you open  within 30 hours or so, though, because–again–explosion
  • Use a cheesecloth or strainer to filter out any sediment
  • Pour back into bottle
  • Chill in the refrigerator; it’ll keep for up to a week

While you’re making your ginger beer, explain to your littles that yeast is a fungus that feeds on sugar.  Yeast produces carbon dioxide, which is what causes the bubbles in the prepared drink.  That’s why it’s called carbonation–it’s caused by carbon dioxide.  You can find a full yeast science lesson at Kids Discover.

Craft

Fingerprint Goldfish Father’s Day Card

Father's Day Card-Story Time The Day I Swapped My Dad

 

What you need:

goldfish card supplies

  • Blue construction paper
  • Orange construction paper
  • Lit Mama’s Goldfish Template (click link to print)
  • Orange and other markers
  • 1 googly eye
  • Yellow Paint
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Cat that won’t get out of the picture (optional)

What you do:

folded goldfish card

 

  • Fold blue construction paper in half to make card
  • Set aside

Card goldfish traching

  • Print and cut out template
  • Trace onto orange construction paper
  • Cut out goldfish

goldfish card face

  • With your pencil, draw a curved line to mark off the face

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  • Dip your finger into the yellow paint
  • Make lines of yellow gills along the body of the fish, leaving tail, fins, and face paint-free

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  • Use your orange marker to trace over the penciled face-line
  • Make wavy lines on tail and fins with orange marker

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  • Glue on the googly eye
  • Draw a smiley mouth

Father's Day Card-Story Time The Day I Swapped My Dad

  • Glue fish to front of card
  • Write message above and below fish

 

Food

carrot slices

Um, carrots, please!  We already made a recipe, up there in Science.  But ol’ Dad is eating a carrot on his way home, so slice some up or buy a bag of baby carrots and enjoy them with your ginger beer!

Yeah yeah.  Won’t Dad love having ginger beer made by his own kids for Father’s Day?  Score!

Love wins,

KT

What Do I Do with All This Free Time?

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Hey, y’all.  Another school year has ended for us here at the Lit Mama Homeschool.  We studied All of the Asian countries, even those tiny Middle-Eastern ones that you hear about on the news sometimes and can’t quite place…  Oh, yeah, I know where they all are now.  Sometimes I think homeschooling does as much for me intellectually as it does for my precious Littles.  We didn’t just find out where those countries were, though.  We studied their history (boom–history taken care of for the year), their topography (boom–science in the form of geology), their native animals (Oh. yeah. Biology), their art, and their governments.  Even their gardens. It was a lot of material, but it covered almost every subject we needed.  We journaled about them, so writing was taken care of (though we did English lessons separately).  All we had to add was math.

finished garden

The Littles with their Japanese tea garden in a box

Because I make up all our curricula myself, I am constantly researching things in more depth than I ever learned them in public school.  And because we cover such a vast array of material, I also have learned more than I ever did in college.  Not to knock my college education.  It rocked.  If I could go to college forever, I would.  Homeschooling is a brilliant substitute.  But it’s over for 5 weeks.  Summer school doesn’t start until July.

So what am I going to do with all my free time?

Oh, you.

What free time?

Sure, I’ve taken a couple days off from All Things School, but I have to jump right back in.  I just told you–I plan everything myself.  So since I (thank God) already have summer planned, by week’s end I will be pulling out the notes I made throughout the year, looking at the different plans I came up with for next year–there are at least 3, and I probably won’t stick to any single one of them–and diving into the research necessary to start filling out my planner and having everything ready for the day after Labor Day, which is our official start day every year.  (Whew, that was a long sentence.  Did it make sense?!)  Here’s what that looked like last year:

planning messFun, right?

Why yes, yes it is.

I have a lot of tools I use to help this process, and it is not as disorganized as it looks.  The first thing I do is make up a school year calendar.  I like knowing exactly when we’ll be in school and when we’ll be having a blessed break.  It looks like this.

school year calendar

Go ahead.  Copy the idea.  It helps me tremendously when it comes to day-to-day planning.  Plus, it ensures I get the required 180 days of school in.  Since my wonderful state requires only that and that I keep attendance, I make sure to follow those rules to the letter so I can keep all this freedom to school my boys as I choose.  You’ll notice there are only 3 weeks between our 2 longest breaks.  We’ve always used that time (especially since it’s in the middle of the holidays and the Littles’ minds tend to be elsewhere most days) to do a concentrated study on one subject.  We’ve done Christmas, dinosaurs, pirates… It’s a fun time for us.  It’s also the time when the Littles learn and practice a Christmas play to put on for our extended family.  Last year, Littlest wrote the play.  And it rocked.

The next thing I do is get out my planning binder.  As I do my research and find reading material, projects, experiments, and crafts to add into a class, I have 3 different places to write it all down.  Why 3?  Because organization.  If I am not completely organized, my nature tends toward chaos.  I mean, come on, you’re talking to a woman who would rather be immersed in a good story than just about anything else and writes stories of her own… If I don’t concentrate, my thoughts tend to wander.  Organization helps me concentrate.

planner collageSo I have my calendar on the front of the planner.  Then a weekly schedule.  Then separate tabs for each subject in which there is a daily schedule.  And a project/experiment/craft schedule that I can glance at from week-to-week to make sure I have all the needed materials.  I can’t tell you how many times that project schedule has saved me.  If I check it on Friday afternoon, I have the whole weekend to buy whatever supplies I might need for the next week.  It’s really hard to make a solar system with Styrofoam balls if you don’t have any Styrofoam balls.

My Daily Curriculum Planner and Weekly Project Planner are yours for free in my Subscriber Freebies.  Just scroll down–they’re toward the bottom.  And you might find some other goodies you want to pick up!  They look like this:

weekly project planner

 

daily curriculum planner

They aren’t especially pretty, but they’re functional, and I just think that’s more important. 🙂

I plan each class for the year using all of these tools.  I jot down on the weekly planner what I want to cover each week, then I get out the daily planners and fill them out in detail.  As we approach a new school day, I have everything we’ll be doing for each subject written on that daily planner.  Then I pull the projects from the daily planner and add them to the weekly project planner.  By the time school starts in September, I am over-prepared.

I fully admit I have a problem.  Hi, my name is KT, and I am a plan-a-holic.

So yeah, no such thing as free time here.

Because at some point I have to get the very chaotic classroom cleaned up from this year and ready for next.  And that, my dear friends, is my biggest chore of the year.

chaotic classroom

Now.  Will someone please sing something so I can get this damn Alice Cooper song out of my head?

Love wins,

KT

 

 

Reading in the Rain

I woke up to the pattering of rain against my roof and windows.  It’s funny, during winter you kind of dread that sound.  It could be ice.  It could become snow.  It will definitely be cold.  But with warm weather seeming determined to stick around, the sound was soothing and welcome.  Our lives are just as affected by the seasons now as they were thousands of years ago when our ancestors worshiped the sun and planned their year around the turning of the seasons.  Go outside today and remember that.   It’ll make you feel more connected.

reading in the rain books

Still, no matter the season, rain is important to us, and mostly we’d rather have it than not.  Because gardens.  And water supplies.  There’s a lot your littles can learn from and about rain, and there are, of course, books you can read with them to help them learn.  And there’s nothing like a cuddly, rainy day on the couch exploring the pages of a few good books.

Fiction

waiting out the storm

This poetic masterpiece is a gentle question-and-answer book about what happens during a storm, including where different animals go.  You can’t get much cuddlier than reading this book with the sound of rain plonking in the background.  This book is not only excellent for making a child feel safe while explaining storms to them, the format also helps littles make their own observations about what is going on outside.  The illustrations are downright gorgeous, too.  The little girl asks what the turtles, chipmunks, and birds do during a storm, providing you with a few options if you want to do a craft to go with the book.  In fact, there’s a simple paper plate turtle craft at Glued to My Crafts that I think you’ll enjoy and won’t take too much work on your part.

the storm book

This book.  Wow.  I have to warn you, it is wordy for a picture book.  But oh, these words.  From the hazy heat of a summer day to the first crack of lightning to the rainbow following the storm, this book is such a great intro to description your little will swoon.  Take your time.  Read it slowly.  Enjoy the lyrical description of a thunderstorm and how it affects several people.  Then make a thunderstorm of your own from construction paper and ribbon, like this:

thunderstorm craft

Pretty self-explanatory–jut cut out some cloud and lightning shapes, let your littles glue them together however they want, and tape some curly ribbon to the back so it looks like falling rain.  Yeah yeah.

listen to the rainIf you’re looking for sparer text and beautifully painted pictures, look no further.  This book is full of onomatopoeia, and could be a great way to get into a discussion about figurative language.  Also, it just plain sounds pretty.  If you’re looking activities to go with it, check out my post 11 Awesome Activities to Do in the Rain.

water danceFinally, my favorite.  More onomatopoeia.  Told from the first person, this book goes through the water cycle as if the water were tell you its story.  But you can just look at the cover and see how lush and breath-taking the illustrations are.  And this one provides many options for activities.  Set up an evaporation experiment.  Create a cloud in a bottle.  Break out your watercolors and paint the storm taking place around you.

Nonfiction

nat geo stormsI love these Nat Geo books, because they give simple introductions to their topics.  This one is meant for younger readers, but it can be a great starting place or refresher course for any age.  Plus, the pictures are really amazing.

who likes the rainThis book is a flap book that answers some pretty amazing questions, like what raindrops really look like, why rain makes the air smell different, and why gardens need water.  Plus, kids love flap books.  All of them do.  It’s something about the hidden knowledge, I think.  So don’t think this is only for preschoolers, because even though you know I Shudder at the thought of reading levels, the book claims to be for up to second graders.  Which means anyone can read it.  Anyone at all.  Just like any other book.

everything kids weather bookFavorite.  This book has everything in it.  Plus, puzzles and ideas for scientific activities.  Um, win.  I wouldn’t even bother with a library copy.  This one’s an owner.

It’s pretty easy to turn a rainy day into a cozy, fun-filled one if you have the right tools.  And you know the Lit Mama, the toolbox always includes books.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go cuddle 2 sweet and beautiful boys and get them to make some crafts with me.

Love wins,

KT