Posted in Nature, Play Time, Uncategorized

Don’t Hibernate – A Winter Guide to Get Outside!

Winter is my favorite season, Fall being a very close second. There is something really magical and peaceful and beautiful about seeing a snow covered yard sparkling in the sun. There is something really intriguing about seeing tracks in the snow and figuring out who they came from. There is so much fun to be had outside in the snow- hiking, building a snowman or snow fort, sledding, ice skating, making art with the snow, etc.

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But most people don’t think of winter as fun. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard, “It’s too cold? It’s too dark?” Amiright? And just for the record, these sayings mostly come from the parents, not the children. But we are passing these thoughts onto them and it greatly influences their ideas about how to or how not to enjoy the weather.  There is a saying that “there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.” And I believe that to be true. So I’m reaching out today to help you push those thoughts aside so you can get outside. Your guide to getting outside includes tips on how to dress, what to do, and what to bring.

How To Dress:

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I used to be the person that was always cold. I used to be the person that thought my warmest pair of pants to wear were my jeans. That all changed when I enrolled my children in the Worldmind Nature Immersion School. It was really important to us that our children connect with nature on a deeper level. We always had them outside since they were babies and they naturally loved being outside. We also really wanted a different approach to how our children would be educated. Nature school was the perfect fit for us. This school ran 3-hour classes, five days a week, all outside, year-round. There were no school cancellations when it snowed, and school days were only cancelled when temps were well below freezing, wind was insanely too gusty, or roads were beyond terrible. So our first day of nature school was on a warm fall day. Kids walked barefoot around a wooded area, played in their undergarments in the pond, and had the most glorious day. Not ONE complaint was heard about someone being cold. Soon fall turned to winter and the weather starting changing. One particular day, it was very wet. Wet but not cold. We made the drive to our location and we were the only ones that showed up. So it would be just us and the teacher and her son. The kids right off the bat found a large glorious puddle to jump in. I had just bought my kids boots that would surely be warm. Yeah, warm but not waterproof. My kids were soaked in the first three jumps. I definitely didn’t have the right gear. I rung out their boots, gave them a quick change of dry pants, and we hiked on down the hill. The following hours they slid down mud hills, jumped in more puddles, made mud balls, and had so much fun. Sure they were wet and dirty but the smiles on their faces showed no signs of being cold or uncomfortable. Ok, there might have been one or two times my son reminded me that his feet were soaked. We changed clothes once more and were on way home.

Many people might have said, “Nope, never are we going outside in the rain. It’s too cold, it’s too muddy, there’s too much laundry to do.” But I said, “Hmmm, what do I need to add or change about their clothing so they can stay a bit more dry?” The laundry: yeah I don’t have an answer there. It is what it is. Doing laundry is a small sacrifice to make so that your children can fully enjoy the fun outdoors.

Looking ahead, a few more rainy, wet days had passed, I was getting better at knowing what clothes would be best. I found rain pants online at REI for $13 a pair, tall rain boots from thrift stores, invested in waterproof gloves, etc. Eventually our nature school found and purchased child waders (like the ones fishermen use when they are in the river). Now these weren’t entirely cheap but considering that my children wore them almost every day, and then we would trade sizes when they were too small, the investment was well worth every dollar in the $50 that I paid for them. Yes of course sometimes water would get down the waders and after sliding on a frozen river, the gloves are bound to be wet. BUT the right clothing can provide hours and hours of joy for your children doing what they should be doing- playing outside!

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So….here’s your guide on how to dress for success to enjoy all weather. It is recommended for YOU (yes don’t forget you. It’s important for you to be dressed right so you can be warm and help your child) and your child to dress in layers. This is so you can adjust the clothing for various weather changes and different activity levels.

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Winter: when it’s cold (but remember we don’t say it’s cold)

  • Shirts and Pants: should consist of 3 layers for tops AND bottoms. Many forget to add an extra layer on the legs. The inner layer should be 100% polyester or natural fabrics such as wool or silk. Cotton isn’t a great choice because it doesn’t really wick moisture away from the body. Long underwear is a great choice. The second layer should be a warm fleece or wool. This should be something that will insulate the body’s warm temperature. No jeans. Jeans are excellent retainers of water and will stay wet for a long time. The third layer should be your windproof and waterproof layer. These can be pricey but are well worth the investment. To help, visit outdoor recreation stores to look for sales, find families to trade with, or shop from local thrift stores.
  • Footwear: footwear should be sturdy and waterproof. Wool socks are a must. My favorite brand of boots are Bogs or Kamik. Also make sure boots are not too small as this will cut off circulation to feet and make them colder.
  • Accessories: A warm hat or beanie is always a must (I don’t recommend ear muffs or an ear band. These don’t keep the warm on the head and don’t stay put).  I strongly recommend a warm balaclava. This will actually cover and protect more of the cheeks and nose. We also carry about 3 pairs of gloves every time we venture out for a fun of playing in the snow. Hand and foot warmers are always a great choice to bring. Extra socks! Again we carry a few pairs with us every time. These can also make good mittens if you don’t have an extra pair.
  • Many times we carry all this (yes I always feel like a pack mule) and with all the activity and exercise we do, usually the outer layer comes off because they get too warm. Which is another tip when enjoying the winter weather- stay moving!

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Summer: when it’s hot:

  • Tops: here is when it’s a great idea to wear cotton. Cotton is light and can keep moisture to the body so the body can cool down. T-shirts are fine but it’s also ok to wear a light long sleeve cotton shirt.
  • Pants: again light weight but durable. Shorts are ok too. We often just wear swim suits if we are around water.
  • Footwear: optional!! yes allow them to go barefoot. If wearing shoes, closed-toe sturdy (hiking) sandals are my recommendation.
  • Accessories: I can’t say it enough please please please wear a sun hat! The hat should cover the face AND neck and bonus points for UV protection. My favorite are from Sunday Afternoons. I rarely put sunscreen on the face and neck. Sunscreen is a must though to have in the pack. Sunglasses are also really important!

All weather in between:

  • For those perfect not-too-hot, not-too-cold days, long sleeve tops and long durable pants are perfect for enjoying the outside. Bring the needed accessories and enjoy a glorious day!

What to Bring:

Whether you are enjoying the warm summer months or the cooler winter days, what you bring can sway the enjoyment of your day.

I have a little girl who wants nothing more than to be immersed in all things sensory. I bring buckets, shovels, letter molds, a thermos of water just for her to make mud (if we aren’t playing around water) and plenty of paint, pastels, brushes, scissors (to cut up leaves or flower petals that we save) paper (or she likes to find rocks and sticks to paint) or a journal. This usually keeps her busy for hours.

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Don’t forget, plenty of water (can be fruit-infused as well), healthy high-protein snacks, crunchy vegetables and fruit (in the winter we like to bring dried fruit), lunch, warm tea in the winter is a must. We definitely wouldn’t last if we didn’t bring nearly the whole pantry.

For more on what to bring, check out the Packing and EDventure Backpack post here:

What to Do: Winter isn’t just snowy days. It’s full of sunny days too!

While it is a good idea to have some ideas or activities planned, pretty please make sure there is ample time for open-ended child guided play. Let them loose to do what they please as long as it is safe (but do let them take healthy risks).

There are lots and lots of books and Pinterest ideas on outdoor activities. Some activities might require lots of materials and some that require little or no materials. We are all about balance. I plan to post more specific ideas on what to do for specific weather and seasons but here is a short list of activities that require little or no materials.

  • track! This is one of our favorite things to do. We love to look for tracks (and scat)and see who has been here, what were they doing (determined by the gait pattern in their steps), and where were they going. Make sure to have a field guide to help.
  • bird watch- don’t forget to bring the journal and binoculars
  • search for and gather items for a winter nature table
  • use natural materials to build bridges, boats, houses, mandalas, whatever inspires you and your child
  • paint, draw, create art
  • make up games, play hide and seek
  • cloud watch- make up stories with the objects you see
  • READ- one of our favorite places to read is outside!
  • practice storytelling
  • have a picnic, bring a new and different food each time to try
  • make friends with a tree
  • pretend to be animals
  • make a fort or shelter if playing in a wooded area
  • explore sound- find materials and make music
  • meditate, do yoga
  • of course SAFELY play in the elements: explore the ice, streams and ponds, climb trees and rocks, play in the sand and mud, stomp in the puddles, etc.
  • take a nap- I guarantee if you’re in a quiet, secluded place your sleep will be more quality when sleeping outside. Yes even in the winter!!

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Posted in Uncategorized

Easter Egg Dyeing: Super Simple Science

Hey guys! My kids love when it’s time to pull out the plastic eggs. They hide them around the house, fill them with small toys or other loose parts, we put snacks in them for the car, etc. They also love dyeing Easter eggs and have been ready to for at least a month now. We have always done the natural dye route and this week we are making our dye. This year I decided I would pair it with a paper-pencil learning activity. I made a quick chart in their journals. Basically, 3 columns with headers: Food Used (where they can write or draw the food item that we will be using), My Color Guess (they guess what color the egg will turn when placed in the dye), and Actual Color (the actual color the egg turns after we dye them). Make however many rows for food items you will using to dye your eggs. The goal of this activity is for them to hypothesize what colors they think the dye will turn the eggs.

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Naturally, my kids think blueberries will turn the eggs blue, and cranberries will turn eggs red. So we filled in our chart and will write down our actual findings after the eggs are dyed.

To make our dye we will be using cranberries, blueberries, spinach, parsley, turmeric, chili powder, red beets, red cabbage, and brewed coffee. Naturally dyeing Easter eggs is fun and a great learning activity for science and math. To incorporate math, kids need to measure out 2 cups of water and 2 cups of whatever food item we are using (when using spices we do about 3 tablespoons). They also measure out about a tablespoon of vinegar for each one. This is also a great activity for little ones to practice fine motor skills. Tearing spinach leaves and mashing blueberries and cranberries are great for using those small hand muscles.

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This is what we have so far and will work on making more today. 20180327_073744

First on our list is making snow eggs and decorating with our leftover dye. Pics to come later!

What’s your EDventure this week?

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Welcome!

I’m glad you’re here.

I am very excited about starting this educational blog and sharing our fun adventures with you. Let me introduce us to you. I am Kellie and here’s a bit about me. I dreamed of being a teacher and made that dream come true, with much help and support from my parents. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Behavioral Science with a focus in psychology and both early and elementary teaching degrees. I taught for 5 years in Jefferson County, before having my son Jake in 2011 and becoming a stay-at-home mom. We completed our family with our daughter Ava in 2013. I have also owned a brain workout center business where I helped kids and adults alike find the root causes to their academic or behavioral issues. In 2016, I enrolled my nature-loving children in a forest kindergarten where we spent close to 2 years learning outside year-round in all weather. Then in 2017 I started a homeschool-enrichment program in my home for kids ages 3-8. We miss you Apple Tree Schoolhouse friends!

My husband, Brandon and I met as sophomores in high school and have been together ever since, so 19 years and married for 12. We had always resided in the outskirts of Denver, moving from Highlands Ranch to Reunion. We decided last April to follow our dream of living in the country and moved to just about the middle of nowhere in Elbert County (technically we are in Agate, CO).

As far as homeschool, we are pretty eclectic. We use Oak Meadow (but I am currently thinking of a switch), and I throw in lots of my old teaching lessons, my own games, things I find on pinterest or other sites. We go out daily and try to do a lot of our learning outside. We learn by painting, playing, cooking, crafting, reading together, exploring music, etc. Living in the country, we do a fair amount of driving in a week so I try to have some lessons ready for the car. We learn in all different areas doing so many different things and we are so excited to share them with you.

My desire to start an educational blog started when I was trying to find a homeschool curriculum. It’s extremely overwhelming, amiright? In my opinion I didn’t find a literacy curriculum that I felt truly taught all the pre-reading skills, like alliteration, rhyming, and the many steps of phonemic awareness such a phoneme isolation and manipulation, etc. (I should say my favorite literacy curriculum so far is All About Reading, though I have not yet purchased it). It all seemed to go from learning letters, to learning sounds, and then putting sounds together to learn to read. That’s all good but there are a few other things kids need before they can read. Also, when I was a brain workout teacher, I came to realize two major things: 1) how kids are learning how to read before they are ready and 2) how crucial ocular motor skills play into reading. When these happen, you get problems, like kids that resist reading, don’t get it or have to be taught over and over, hate reading, battle struggles, and then physical problems with eyes, etc. Had I known these things I could have seen WHY my students were struggling and having to have an ILP (Individualized Literacy Plan). I could have worked on the root causes instead of teaching the same thing again and again.

So… I wanted to share some key elements that homeschool parents could throw into the mix when it comes to teaching literacy to prevent the struggles later. Also, I wanted to share some easy, fun and hands-on ways to teach literacy and math that involve no or very little prep. Finally, learning should be fun! All too much have I heard (mostly from public school families, which is why I choose to homeschool and perhaps you too) that school is boring, too much homework and testing, they don’t remember what they learn and that PE and recess are the favored subjects. That’s because kids want to move and they have to move to learn. It’s not my style to sit my kiddos down with a large math workbook though there are times worksheets are needed and I do use them. It’s all a balance for me.

My goal for my kids and our homeschool is to blend the good things from homeschool and public school into one. So that is my hope for this blog, to provide you with an educational resource from a former teacher.

Here is a list of activities and resources you can find when you stop by.

  • Storytelling: stories, activities, and tips on how you, the parent, can become an awesome storyteller
  • Wednesdays are hereby claimed at Wild Wednesdays where you can find nature-inspired literacy, math, and science activities
  • literacy and math games for the home, the car, outside, etc.
  • how to teach literacy with a shared reading or read aloud lesson
  • various books with accompanied lessons and activities
  • literacy activities that teach phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension
  • journal activities that are extremely easy and require very little or no prep
  • tips on how to teach writing, phonemic awareness, comprehension and various subjects, math games
  • writing lessons and activities
  • how to find teachable moments anywhere
  • how to differentiate activities- I can share with you how to take matching cards and create a lesson/game that can work for your preschoolers and your 2nd grader. Isn’t that what we homeschool parents need, activities that can be differentiated so you aren’t doing 3 different activities for 3 different kids??
  • Freebies (worksheets that I’ve created or will share)
  • and so much more!

Need something or have a question? I am happy to create something for you, provide you with ideas, activities, etc. Just a quick note that I have early elementary schoolers. I am not in the realm of late elementary grades (yet!). But if you have questions or need activities for those later ages/grades I can still provide you some help there.

I hope you will enjoy coming along for our EDventures in learning. We are really excited to share with you!

Please add comments, share ideas, whatever you like. Thanks again for being here!