Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Homeschool Den Has Moved!

Update: After 3 years under the Parents.com umbrella, we moved to our third and final location: homeschoolden.com

I am so excited to have joined the Parents team and have so many new posts to share with you all. I will posting almost every day as I talk about our latest homeschooling adventures.

I have a new series on Wednesdays which features interviews with homeschoolers from across the country. I will be spotlighting homeschoolers with different styles to see how they got started homeschooling and what homeschooling looks like in their families. I hope you'll stop by for a visit.

I won't be updating this site so be sure to visit us at the new site


Want to keep connected?  Visit me at
Twitter @HomeschoolDen for the latest updates.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Freebies over at homeschoolden.com

You'll find my most recent freebies over at my new location (now at homeschoolden.com).  Here are a few freebies you'll find over there:
 Preschool Activity List

Click here to go to the new location for the Homeschool Den.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Cute Writing Paper

I've been printing out our own customized writing paper for DD when she does her spelling and narration work.  She loves this paper and you can choose from all kinds of themes (animals, holidays, seasons, cartoon characters and more). You can also choose the size of the writing paper (from larger lines for beginner writers to standard rule for more seasoned writers).  Anyway, since we get SO much use out of this website I thought it was worth a mention! You can find the writing paper at DLTK-cards.

Our Move: The move to Parents is almost complete (sorry it took longer to move than we thought). My next post will probably be over there. I'll be posting about our latest geography activities, our next Think Challenge, a couple of our latest science experiments. several math posts, our American West activities and more. In fact, once the move is complete I'll be posting almost daily there. Hope you'll stop in to visit!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Preschool Board Games

ED turned four a couple of weeks ago. I always ask the kids what kind of cake they want.  ED wanted a Beyblade cake (the spinning top that you see down to the right of the cake).  Funny, huh?! I'm no major cake maker but the kids love helping to make their own birthday cake. So here was ED's cake tah-dah!

ED got a couple of new cooperative board games from Grandma and Grandpa. ED and DD really love them. They're really terrific so I thought I'd give them a mention here in case you have birthdays coming up for your 3-5 year old.

(affiliate link)
The first game is called Hoot Owl Hoot.(affiliate link) The object is for the players to get all the owls home before the sun comes up. (The sun is at the top and moves across as players come across a sun card.)  This is a game like Candy Land which only requires that the kids recognize their colors. They have to fly the owls around the game board from color to color back to their nest before the sun comes up.

(affiliate link)  

The other game we've been playing a lot is called Lost Puppies. (affiliate link)  Again, it's a cooperative game where all the players work together to get the puppies home.

Each player takes a turn flipping over a card. If the player flips over a night (star) card it has to be placed on the corresponding number on the gameboard.  Players use a flashlight card to remove the night/star card from the board.  To take the puppy home there has to be a clear path (with no night cards in the way).

These games are wonderful because they are not competitive--no winner or loser.  And with the age of my girls (4 and 6) they can play them happily together independently.  Still, I can easily recommend these games to the younger crowd as well (say 2 1/2 and up).

Another game we've enjoyed with all three of my kids is  Dino Math Tracks Game by Learning Resource.  It is a great game for helping kids learn place value.
We played this game when we were working on Place Value Activities.  You might want to check out this post: Place Value Activities. We started working with the Montessori purple beads when the kids were about 4 1/2 (closer to 5 or so).
(affiliate link)  

As long as I'm on the topic of gift recommendations I also must add Perler Beads (affiliate link)  to the list.  ED has done dozens of these and everybody (even LD) continues to make them from time to time.  These are wonderful for developing fine motor skills.  Kids will be into these at different ages.  ED was just over 3 when she started doing these independently, but LD didn't really enjoy doing them until he was 5.

Here is another post with a lot of other preschool activities for Small Motor Skills. Preschool at Home: Activities You Can Do with Your 2-4 Year Olds (Fine Motor Skills)
I'll add in that my six year old really loves the cooperative game, Caves and Claws. (affiliate link) She likes it and when the kids play together, they all have to work together to win the game. The object is for everyone to try to find all the artifacts while avoiding the dangers nearby. :)

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase.

Remember, our blog has moved to homeschoolden.com and you can also find us over at our Homeschoolden Facebook Page! ~Liesl

Other related posts you might be interested in:

Related Posts:

Monday, February 20, 2012

Think Challenge -1

When the kids were much younger (2009 or so) I heard great things about a website called Kids Who Think. Each week she put up new challenges and lots of people got in on the act.  Recently Ami over at Walking By the Way put together a class syllabus based on those challenges.  My kids are just about the right age to do participate in these challenges now. We did the first our first one last Friday.

The Goal: Build the tallest tower you can with silverware.  Surprisingly, ED was the first to assemble something that stood upright.  After that LD took the lead.  These challenges are supposed to get kids to work together, but in this particular challenge the kids and I all worked on our own towers.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Great Article Links

Tsh over at Simple Mom had some links to some really good articles.  I especially liked the list (written by a public school teacher) of the 12 compelling reasons to homeschool your child.  I had a few quick thoughts about the list.  Homeschooling is not for everyone or every family, but if it suits you and your family there sure are a lot of wonderful benefits. The wonderful thing about homeschooling is that it is completely different for every family. Some people start early, others start late.  Some have a loose structure, others are quite regimented. Some people unschool, some people have one set curriculum they follow, others join co-ops. People choose from hundreds of different curriculums and find (or strive to find!) the best fit for their children.  Our style (a fairly hands-on, messy, relaxed style) is completely different from my good friend who use an online-based homeschooling currriculum and lots of you-tube videos (and avoid arts-and-crafts and messy things), but the amazing thing is that our kids are thriving.

Do you have any thoughts about the list?

Thursday, February 16, 2012


I can't say we did an entire unit on Antarctica, but we revisited it briefly this past week and a half as we read Mr. Popper's Penguins aloud together. The kids really loved the book and it was a relatively quick read (about 4 or 5 days for us).

I wanted to touch on Antarctica again partly for ED since we've been going over the seven continents for her and partly because we're going to be learning a bit about the arctic next in her preschool trek through the various biomes this year.  (We covered the ocean, desert, and deciduous forest earlier this year.) I really wanted to drive home the fact that there are no penguins in the Arctic and no polar bears in Antarctica.

Most of the time the kids are working on something else while I read aloud. One afternoon I brought out the pictures that Grandma and Grandpa took on their trip to Antarctica a few years ago. The slideshow played while I read a few chapters from the book. Here are a few of Grandpa's pictures:
Magellanic Penguins (spelled incorrectly up above, but I'm too tired right now to re-edit the photo)
Sea lion and King Cormorant


 Last year we talked a lot about penguins.  We revisited a lot of those same activities this past week -- here's last year's blog post.

The kids all loved playing the March of the Penguins game called Save the Egg  at the National Geographic site. I can't say it's that 'educational' but they were thrilled when they managed to keep the egg from being knocked off their penguin's feet.

This year we also talked a lot about the scientific research and work that happens at the McMurdo Research Station in Antarctica.  We watched excerpts from Encounters at the End of the World on Netflix.

The kids roared in laughter as the new arrivals at McMurdo stumbled around with buckets on their heads -- an exercise in dealing with the white out conditions that happen frequently in Antarctica. The team had to try to find a lost member while stumbling along nearly blind and hardly able to hear. The buckets had hilarious faces drawn on them which tickled the kids' funny bone!  My brother-in-law's sister worked down there a number of years ago. I'll have to ask Uncle T if his sister had to do that same exercise!

The kids were also intrigued by the ocean research and were amazed that in that one dive three new species were discovered.  There were some pretty cool looking ocean creatures featured.  We sure liked the film (or the parts we saw) here.

I wrote to Uncle T to get the real scoop about C's experiences is Antarctica. As I mentioned above my brother-in-law's sister did research (she's a geologist) in Antarctica. I wanted the real scoop "Did C have to walk around Antarctica with a smiley bucket on her head?"   Here's the conversation as it went:

T: > So did you?

C: > Thankfully no!  :)
> I did have to go through Snow School though. (C later explained to me -- "Snow school is a two-three day training school for using the survival equipment. We dug either holes in the snow or igloos in which to sleep. We learned how to use the stoves and military radio as well as set up the 4 season tents. The instructors slept in the tents, and we slept in the igloos/snow holes.")

T: So they did not let you play in all the reindeer games?

C: I was doing research in the Dry Valleys, where there are very few white out conditions, if ever.  If I was going to the South Pole or staying longer, then I'd probably get to play that game too!

T: So that's the reason why she did not become a bucket-head....


P.S. We truly are in the final stages of moving to Parents! I've even seen the Homeschool Den over at the staging site. It won't be long until we go live, but as I've said we'll redirect you there from here once the process is complete.

You might be interested in our Whale Unit. We did a ton of fun hands-on activities:

Whale Unit (and Arctic) -- Icebergs, Blubber Experiment, Buoyancy and More!

whales-and-buoyancy experiment

 Whale Unit: Migration, Echolocation and Baleen vs. Toothed Whales

Update: We have a new Winter Packet.  It covers the Earth's axis and the seasons, the Arctic vs. Antarctica, polar animals, penguins and more.  It is 75+ pages!

The  Winter Packet includes the topics you see below as well: 



http://homeschoolden.com/2017/01/24/winter-packet-earths-axis-seasons-the-arctic-vs-antarctica-polar-animals-and-more/ http://homeschoolden.com/2017/01/24/winter-packet-earths-axis-seasons-the-arctic-vs-antarctica-polar-animals-and-more/
Click here to find out more about our  Winter Packet.

You might also be interested in the cute resources that go along with The Mitten, a wonderful book about animals in the winter by Jan Brett.

You might also be interested in this unit:

We have animal track activities in our Animal Packet, including Montessori style 3-part cards with the animal track and animal as well as matching pages (see the picture of my daughter down below).

We have a 40+ page packet all about animals! It covers various topics such as the different types of animals (vertebrates, invertebrates), animal characteristics, insects vs. spiders, domesticated vs. wild animals, animal tracks and much more! 


 Click here to find out more about our Animal Packet 

 See you again soon here or over at our Homeschool Den Facebook Page! Don’t forget to Subscribe to our Homeschool Den Newsletter. You might also want to check out some of our resources pages above (such as our Science, Language Arts, or History Units Resource Pages) which have links to dozens of posts.  You might want to join our free Homeschool Den Chat Facebook group.  Don’t forget to check out Our Store as well. :)

 Homeschool Den Store

Happy Homeschooling! ~Liesl


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day! A Day to Remember our Family

Today instead of doing our normal collection (group time when we do history, geography, science and/or German), I decided it was the perfect day to spend time on some family history.  Both our family lines have a rich, well documented history. We have family stories, photos and family objects that date back to well before the Civil War (In fact, we can trace some lines back to the 1600s and beyond). It's my dream to put this knowledge into a book that can be passed down (and around) to our relatives.
We went through old photos and I told the kids story of their relatives who
  • mostly came from Europe (Scandinavia,  Germany, France and Ireland)
  • was a French trapper and traded with Native Americans in the late 1600s
  • were forced to join the crew of a Swedish ship and jumped ship in Washington, USA
  • fought in the Union Army during the Civil War
  • yet another side of the family owned slaves in Virginia and Mississippi
  • came over from Finland and started farming in Minnesota
  • owned a tugboat on the Erie Canal and had to pull the barge with a rope that was under his arms
  • rode their bikes through a giant tree (photo above)
  • started the first TB clinic in the Oklahoma territory and traded his medical services for chickens and quilts during the Great Depression
  • became missionaries in Brazil
  • was too skinny to join the US army in WWII and instead worked as a carpenter on an army base
  • and on and on... (til the kids cried out NO MORE!)
 Then I pulled out some of the family "stuff" we have
  • a tool for making bullets (top left pic below)
  • hat pins
  • barber's equipment
  • tax coins
  • wooden coin
  • tool for buttoning up women's gloves
  • a toy from 1891 (right) that "walks" down a surface
  • my Grandfather's christening outfit
  •   a dress from around 1900 (from my side, but I don't know the significance or why it was still around)
  • and lots of hand made doilies (from my great grandmother and great-great grandmother)
Flylady is probably crying to see all the stuff we have tucked away, but I sure love sharing the memories and stories with the kids!

Happy Valentine's Day to you and your loved ones!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Stay Tuned!

We are working out some last minute details behind the scenes and will be transferring the Homeschool Den over from this site to Parents any time now!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Outdoor Time and Other Activities

I really try to make sure the kids spend time outdoors. We don't have a playground, but they manage to find things to entertain themselves.  It's been a funny winter here with lots of mild days and only a bit of snow now and then.
A couple days ago the kids decided they wanted to do some "hard work." (I kind of wonder if that is because of all the books we've been reading together about life in the American West.) They all got saws and spent well over an hour cutting off branches.  Since we had just talked about first aid, I asked them what they would do if they cut themselves badly on the saw. We talked about putting pressure on the wound and getting help from Mom immediately.  A little while later they all came tramping in and demanded band-aids and other first aid gear to take out with them. Since then, they've been carrying around their own make-shift first aid kits whenever they go outside! 

My sister and brother-in-law sent a really great gift to the kids for Christmas. It's called a Gibbon Slackline. Since the weather has been so mild we put it up between two trees in our backyard.  It is a essentially a balance beam made of webbing that you attach between two trees. LD has made it across numerous times, but DD and I have only made it about half-way. ED makes it across, but holds my hand for balance.  Anyway we have all had lots and lots of fun with this!

Naturally we've had to re-read Mirette on the High Wire (a Caldecott winner and a terrific book) to go along with our new-found outdoor fun!

The kids are still pretty involved in other activities besides the homeschooling life which I talk so often about here on the blog. They play with each other lots and lots.   ED is now old enough that even she and LD play together well. Beyblades, stuffed animals, the Littlest Pet Shop and the PlasmaCar are the current toys of choice.  All three kids still love gymnastics. LD has become impressively strong. He also really enjoys singing in the children's choir. DD started Irish dance lessons and loves, loves, loves it!  She's also doing a Girl Scout sampler (6 weeks of Girl Scouts). In addition to gymnastics, ED has a music class with friends (much like Kindermusik).
The kids put on a gymnastics show for Grandma and Grandpa last weekend when they were here for a visit!

Our Move: On another note, next week, the week of Valentine's Day, our blog will be joining the Parent's team over at Parents.com/blog.  I'll have a link from this address to get you there.  I hope you'll check in on us there!  We've done some great experiments and will be sharing more about our geography, history and preschool activities in the next couple of weeks.