Posts Tagged With: language arts

A Quick and Easy Way to Link Your Kids to Agriculture

I only recently learned about this quick and easy way to link you kiddos to agriculture. ¬†And when I say quick and easy, I mean really easy, which is my favorite kind. ūüôā

All you need is a milk jug and Internet access.

Simple way to see where your milk is processed!

I’ve got Hiland and the Target brand in my fridge right now.

The website, provides a space to enter the number printed on the milk jug, and viola! up pops the exact location your milk was processed!  This will work with other dairy products too, like sour cream or yogurt.  Anyone in your family picky about milk brands?  Try entering numbers from different brands.   You might be surprised at the results!  In my area milk from Hy-Vee, Walk-Mart, Cameron Mart and Target all come from the same place!

How to find out where your milk came from!

You’ll need the 4-5 digit number printed near the expiration date.

If your kids really get into this project try some less common milk products, like canned milk. ¬†These can travel farther and fewer processors package them, so the results can pull up some fun, far off places– like Iowa! ūüôā

Leave me a comment, where does your milk come from?


*For teachers: Common Core Standards Language Arts, CCS.ELA.RI.4.3: RI.4.4: RI4.5: RF.4.3 and Next Generation Science Standards: Earth Systems: 5-ESS3-1

Categories: Homeschool, Science | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

My Journey for the Perfect Homeschool Curriculum

Be still my beating heart- our homeschool curriculum for next year has arrived! ¬†As a mom, foster parent, and former kindergarten teacher you can be sure I have opinions on education– ¬†if you’re not homeschooling, hang in there, I have opinions on games and toys too. ūüôā ¬†My first year homeschooling I created my own stuff. ¬†I have a degree in early childhood, I’d taught kindergarten, and I was pretty confident I could handle it. ¬†Yes, you may all laugh.

My Journey to find the perfect homeschool curriculum.

Mommy wasn’t the only one with a happy smile when our order came!

We had a great kindergarten year, but honestly first grade needed structure.  But oh my, there is SO MUCH stuff!  You can school online, or just on the computer with CDs, or you can read aloud to your kids all day, or you can give them workbooks, or you can sit down and cry because of all the overwhelming decisions.

I don’t want to know how many countless hours I spent researching just the right program. ¬†What I do know is after filling most of a notebook and downing three quarters of a bottle of tylenol over a two-month period I had pretty much decided to use a different company for each subject to get the critical thinking, phonics foundation, hands-on approach I was looking for.

And then I found Timberdoodle.

My Journey to find the perfect homeschool curriculum.

A friend reviewed their Block Builders set on her blog.  I clicked around for a while until I found their first-grade core curriculum.

It had everything I’d already picked out for my son.

My Journey to find the perfect homeschool curriculum.

It was tempting to bang my head against the desk in frustration of all the wasted hours, but I was too thrilled to be angry. ¬†In addition to the math, reading, history, and science they also had fantastic extras. ¬†The Block Builders, but also mazes for building fine motor skills and games for memory retention. ¬†I ordered Thinking Putty for my kinesthetic learning to use while listening and beautiful books of illustrated history. ¬†I added writing and geography, which I hadn’t planned but have been favorites all year.

I ordered Christmas presents, Easter gifts and birthday surprises for my kids, niece, and nephews. ¬†We had a great first grade year and I can’t stop looking at the pile of stuff for second grade! ¬†I even ordered most of the kindergarten kit for Anna.

I’m not on their blogging team and can’t be till I can secure 26 more followers (if you can help with that…), so this really is just my opinion. ¬†I’m sharing because if you order a core curriculum before April 15th you get a free Boogie Board, which I never would have spent money on but here’s the pic of us about two seconds after we opened our box.

My Journey to find the perfect homeschool curriculum.

Boogie Boards were the first things to come out of the box and held the kids’ attention well enough I slipped the Easter gifts out and they never knew!

So I just wanted to share, in case anyone is questioning the millions of choices for the perfect homeschool curriculum.  Order from Timberdoodle.

Categories: Family, Homeschool | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

A Book for Your Tractor Lesson

You know that great feeling when you stumble on something great completely by accident?¬† I have it today!¬† We were at the library looking for books for school, which means I’m scribbling down reference numbers and chasing children’s books from all their misplaced places, when the title of this book caught my eye.

A great book for your tractor lesson plan!

Being “Daddy’s Tractor” of course, we had to check this one out.¬† And we’ll¬†probably renew it too!¬† Its a¬†whimsical book with bright illustrations and a¬†bit of nostalgia for the by-gone era of small¬†family farms.¬† Grandpa takes his grandson out to the old homestead, now fallen into decay.¬† There they find a forgotten (red!) Farmall tractor growing up with¬†weeds.

A great farm book for a tractor lesson plan

Please note that Farmall is¬†a predecessor to Case IH.¬† And if you don’t know what Case IH is,¬†kindly refer to the photos in the blog title.¬† And for all of you¬†cheering for green and yellow,¬†just allow¬†me this moment.¬† It is hard for all of us in ag to find truly good literature, but do you know¬†how¬†hard it is¬†to find books with red tractors?!

But back to the actual point…¬† Grandpa tells his grandson all about the work the tractor used to do on the farm when he was a boy, making this book a fantastic addition to our History of Agriculture Theme Unit.

A great book for a tractor lesson plan

The author/illustrator is not a farmer (or even remotely connected with ag in any way) and it was not written to be a scientifically, historically, or otherwise perfectly accurate portrait of farm life, but I thought Michael Garland did a nice job and avoided any of the usual mistakes of drawing all roosters instead of hens etc..   And the story of how this book came to be, featured on the last page, is probably my favorite part of all.

So now you can be as excited as I am :-).

Categories: Homeschool, Thematic Unit | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

St. Patrick’s Day, A Missionary’s Story Lesson Plan

I love St. Patrick’s Day.¬† I’m not really sure why.¬† But I do know that most of the St. Patrick’s Day celebration seems to revolve around things that are… not as “G” as I’d like them to be for my family.¬† So I did a little hop, skip, and jump when I read Teaching the Trinity for St. Patrick’s Day from I Have No Greater Joy.¬† That post and a few quick searches later and this is the St. Patrick’s Day lesson plan we’re working from!

St. Patrick's Day, a missionary's story

We checked out Patrick, Ireland’s Patron Saint from the library (even before I read the Trinity lesson plan!) and it was the perfect book for introducing the kids to Patrick the missionary.¬† Did you know Patrick was held as a slave in Ireland, escaped home, and later returned to share the gospel?

St. Patrick, a missionary's story lesson plan

Then we made shamrocks from bits of scrapbook paper by cutting three hearts and gluing them to a craft stick.  Its not in the photo, but we also added ribbons to them to make them pretty.

St. Patrick's Day, a missionary's story lesson plan

We talked about the shamrock shape and how St. Patrick might have taught the trinity with it.¬† Anna didn’t understand at all, but Brett was able to follow along enough that at least he understands there is such a confusing concept, even if he can’t yet grasp it!¬† We sang the song “God the Father” as posted in the Trinity lesson and that was a great hit.¬† It was so easy for them to learn!

At the end of the Patrick book is a short section on the legends of St. Patrick.¬† Brett enjoyed the story about the snakes (of course) and he loved the gross motor activity we¬†created to go¬†with it.¬† I had the kids take their shamrocks outside and¬†chase pretend snakes out of the yard.¬† If there¬†had been any real ones… well, they’d be gone too¬†;-).

St. Patrick's Day, a missionary's story lesson plan

The kids also enjoyed this video I found on Pinterest.

I bought some dot paints from Hobby Lobby last fall, and if you haven’t tried them, they’re great.¬† All the fun of painting (mostly!) without the fuss and mess.¬† When I saw this it seemed like a great idea for the preschool kids in my Homeschool Co-Op class.

St. Patrick's Day, a missionary story lesson plan

And then I used those same leftover bits of scrapbook paper to cut out shamrocks– two of each design.¬† One shamrock I glued to a paper and the other I left loose.¬† Tomorrow I’ll have the preschoolers match the paper’s designs, then Monday I’ll make it a math lesson for Brett by writing simple addition facts on the loose shamrocks and the answers on the glued down ones.¬† Hmm, or maybe capital letters with a lowercase match?¬† Might need more scraps…

St.Patrick's day, a missionary's story lesson plan

And this has nothing to do with missionaries, trinities, or Christ in anyway, but I couldn’t resist.¬† Remember that whole me just liking St. Patty’s thing?¬† Well, I also love Lucky Charms.


I just admitted it.


I love them.

When I taught kindergarten I always bought one box for my class to sort the shapes and then I ATE THE REST!

Once a year.

But I haven’t taught kindergarten in six years.¬† So its been a looooong time since I’ve eaten Lucky Charms.¬† And I couldn’t resist.¬† Today we sorted the shapes.

It was so educational.

And tasty.

St. Patrick's Day, a missionary's story lesson plan

And then I gave them each a missionary penny.

St. Patrick's Day, a missionary's story lesson plan

What is that?¬† Well, a missionary penny is one SENT.¬† All people are sent to spread the gospel, some in foreign countries and under heroic circumstances like Patrick, but all of us are called.¬†¬†Funny enough, the penny is also considered “lucky,” but plainly states “In God¬†We Trust.”¬† We¬†discussed that it is not luck but God who¬†gives us all good things– which was important to me in a St. Patty’s Day lesson!

If you have other ideas for making Christ a part of the St. Patrick’s Day celebration, leave them below!

Categories: Homeschool, Thematic Unit | Tags: , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Pumpkin Theme Ideas for Pre-school and Kindergarten

Pumpkin puzzle for pumpkin theme ideas

You may have read about the visitors to our farm a few weeks ago.  You may not have the opportunity to ride on a combine during harvest, but almost anyone can visit and farm this time of year!  Pumpkin patches abound with great opportunities for everyone to see bits and pieces of farm life.  And since we just did a homeschool unit about fall for my preschooler and kindergartener, here are some pumpkin theme ideas for you to useРand hopefully you can visit a pumpkin patch as well!

Of course, cutting open a pumpkin and playing with the seeds are a must.  But instead of carving a face, try these math and science ideas instead.

Clean the seeds, layer them on a baking sheet, sprinkle lightly with salt, and roast at 325 degrees for 20-25 minutes.  Eat and enjoy!

Pumpkin seeds, idea for pumpkin theme unit

OR put the seeds in a plastic tub and let the kiddos squeeze and¬†squish the squash ūüėČ

Make a pumpkin puzzle!¬† We tried a few different designs and the best puzzles were pumpkins cut in¬†horizontal “slices.”¬† For older kids talk about how puzzle pieces lock together and have them help design the puzzle.¬† For little ones just cut simple waves around the pumpkin to be used like stacking rings.

Pumpkin puzzle, pumpkin theme ideas

Design a pumpkin patch of your own.  We made fall leaves with my cricut, added a variety of pretty pumpkins, painted pumpkin leaves and vines, added a plastic rake from our summer sand toys, and talked about the pumpkin life cycle.

Pumpkin patch, pumpkin theme ideas

And speaking of pumpkin life cycles, we designed our own pumpkin life cycle chart with a paper plate, a seed, and tissue paper flowers.

Throw bean bags into a pumpkin.

Make a pumpkin smoothie.

And then when you are done with the pumpkins, place pieces in a plastic tub (you’ll want a lid for this one!) and watch the pumpkin decompose.¬† We journaled about our observations in our science journal.

Observe pumpkin decay, pumpkin theme idea

Categories: Homeschool, Thematic Unit | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Compare and Contrast

Many family farmers live life just like anyone else.¬† We shop at grocery stores, check our e-mail, go to football games.¬† But some things are different on a farm.¬† For example, we walk almost half a mile to drop a letter in our mailbox or pick up our latest Netflix.¬† A “neighbor” may live more than a mile away.¬† And no one plants a sweet corn patch like a farmer!

compare and contrast the life of a family farm

This is a photo of Daddy, Brett and Anna planting the sweet corn patch.  This planter usually plants field corn, (which is NOT good for plain eating!) and is 16 rows wide.  Usually we fill the huge, yellow, bulk tanks on the top full with waxy seed corn.  This week we finished planting all our waxy corn, and that means its time to clean out the planter and switch to soybean seeds.  Before pouring in the soybeans, however, we can fill the small, yellow boxes on the planter with sweet corn seed and make a 100 foot pass at the end of the backyard.

compare and contrast life on a family farm

Then Daddy and the kids can plant, farmer style!

Based on the things you’ve learned from the blog so far, what ways do you think the life of a farm family is different from yours?¬† How is it the same?¬† Draw a Venn Diagram to compare and contrast.

Categories: Family | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Vocabulary Lesson with Farm and Garden Words

Gardening is the perfect way for children to experience a bit of the farm.  It is also an opportunity to teach some farm vocabulary words! Grab a packet of seeds, some soil in a pot, fertilizer and a pair of gloves.Gardening with kids in the winter

I won’t go into the gardening specifics here.¬† Many of you can probably figure out how to poke a few seeds into the ground.¬†¬†Or search for websites.¬† Try lettuce if this is your first attempt!

One kid-friendly tid-bit; I like the fertilizer with the shaker top, so Brett can have at it. Gardening with kids in the winter

Before you plant the seeds check the back of the envelope.  Chances are there are a few great farm  vocabulary words!

Variety” means the differences in plants that are still the same species.¬†¬†If you chose¬†lettuce it could be Black¬†Seeded¬†Simpson or Buttercrunch.¬† Both are lettuce, but they will look and taste a little different.

On our farm we work closely with our seed salesmen to purchase just the right varieties.  Some seeds grow best on our flat, bottom ground.  Other kinds produce the most on hill ground.  Some will survive a drought, some have tough stalks to survive high winds, some are best for grinding into cornmeal, some are good protein for dog food.  You get the idea.

Farmers have been growing different varieties for centuries, but often they had to choose the seeds with the traits they wanted by hand.  Now companies and universities know all about genetics and can grow exactly what farmers need!Gardening with kids in the winter

Germination” means begin to develop.¬† On your packet you should see the number of days it will take before the seed sprouts are visible above the ground.

Germination is very important to farmers.  Not all seeds grow and not all seeds grow into healthy plants.  There are several things that affect how a seed grows and a farmer needs to take them all into consideration so as many seeds as possible turn into strong plants.

The temperature of the soil and how deep the seed is in the ground are the most important factors.  If you want to, keep track of the number of seeds you place in the soil and then record the number that germinate.  What is your germination rate?

Maturity” refers to when the plant will be developed, or¬†finished growing.

You will want your lettuce to mature over time so you can its eat leaves for several weeks.  A farmer would like all his crops to be done all at one time so he can use a combine to harvest everything at once.

A farmer also wants to make sure his crops are done growing before a frost or snow fall kills plants that could have gotten bigger.  The trick is to plant late enough the ground is nice and warm for good germination, but not too late or the plants will not be mature before fall begins!

That leads us to “Culture” which means preparing the soil so you can plant.¬† The culture date on the envelope should give you a good idea of when your variety needs to be planted for best germination and to reach maturity with plenty of time to enjoy your veggies!

Categories: Science | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

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