Cragmama "Not all who wander are lost…" JRR Tolkien

Category Archives: Homeschooling

Ten Sleep Canyon Part 3 – Rest Days and Rodeos

Ten Sleep Canyon Part 3 – Rest Days and Rodeos

Despite being a town with a population of 260, the town of Ten Sleep, Wyoming is actually a pretty good base camp for fun family rest day activities!  And for once, the weather cooperated really well with our plans!  Saturday dawned cold and dreary in town, which meant the canyon was no doubt frigid.  So what would have been a pretty yucky climbing day was actually perfect for exploring, geeking out over nature stuff, and picking up groceries, all while resting our tendons.   For some of us, it was hard to sleep well at the campground. Though surprising, it’s not…Read the rest of this entry →

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Great American Eclipse 2017

Great American Eclipse 2017

For months I’d been looking forward to my 37th birthday…not because I’m anxious to be another year older, but because this year my birthday fell on one of the craziest weekends of the year – Solar Eclipse 2017.  My one request was that I wanted the whole family to drive to the path of totality to witness this celestial display together.  Considering that our home town of Charlotte, NC was only about 50 miles outside of the edge of the path, it wasn’t a hard sell.   Rather than fight through the traffic on either side of a day trip, we…Read the rest of this entry →

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Wooden Acorn People Tutorial

Wooden Acorn People Tutorial

When it comes to gift-giving holidays (Christmas, birthday, etc), one of my main parenting goals is to teach that it’s better to give than to receive.  One of the best ways I’ve found to get our kids excited about giving is to encourage handmade gifts.  To me, there’s no better way to foster a deeper connection between gift giver and receiver than rolling up our sleeves and creating with someone else in mind.  That’s why I was thrilled when my son was just as excited as I was about making this Wooden Acorn People project for his little sister’s 3rd birthday!…Read the rest of this entry →

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A Nature Study Focus for the Birds

A Nature Study Focus for the Birds

It’s been a while since I’ve written about our homeschooling escapades (since October, actually!) But we’ve been doing some exciting stuff lately, so I thought I would share some of it over the next few weeks.  We recently just wrapped up a nature study focus on birds.  Birds are some of the most easily accessible wildlife available for kids (and adults!) to learn about firsthand.  After all, with some cleverly-positioned feeders, you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your own home to enjoy and observe your local feathered friends, which can be a real plus on cold, winter mornings!…Read the rest of this entry →

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Kid’s Geology Activities that Rock!

Kid’s Geology Activities that Rock!

To me one of the biggest blessings of homeschooling is that our family can do things when it works best for US, and we can slow down/speed up whenever we feel the need.  For example, the curriculum we’ve been using this year for science (106 Days of Creation) had included 2 short and very basic lessons about “rocks” before plunging straight into plants and trees.  As I looked at our calendar, I realized a lot of the projects I wanted to do in the Plants/Trees unit would work better once the leaves had started to change color.  For us, that often doesn’t happen…Read the rest of this entry →

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What We Love About Homeschooling

What We Love About Homeschooling

It’s only been 4 months, but already public school seems like a fading memory.  I can’t even express how much of a blessing homeschooling has been for our family so far.  The journey itself has not been perfect, but the fit for our family sure has been!  Gone are the days of morning battles getting out the door, and gone are the constant complaints about having to sit down all day and not being able to play outside.  No longer does the whole family live in fear of emotional meltdowns at the slightest mishap. Instead, our days are filled with freedom, flexibility, fun…and a…Read the rest of this entry →

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Our Homeschooling Journey: The First Three Weeks

Our Homeschooling Journey: The First Three Weeks

We’ve only got three weeks under our belt, but so far I have been amazed at what we have ALL learned in such a small period of time.  It’s not perfect – most days feature at least one bout of insanity at some point.  But at the end of the day, we can look back and always find fun, quality family time, and of course, a lot of learning.  In fact, since I’m learning something new and better about this whole process every single day, I hesitated writing this post, for fear that the minute I published it, it’d become “obsolete.”  But my guess…Read the rest of this entry →

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Homeschooling: Our Newest Family Adventure

Homeschooling: Our Newest Family Adventure

Just before the holidays I got an email from the PTA at my Kindergartener’s elementary school.  They were looking for parent volunteers to substitute for a whole day in their child’s classroom, giving the teachers a rare chance to plan together all day.  Reading that email turned out to be a providential moment for me – I couldn’t explain why, but I felt very strongly that I needed to volunteer.  The logistics took some work.  The PTA was requesting two parents per class, so I had to convince another mom to help me.  I also had to arrange for my…Read the rest of this entry →

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5 Tips for Family Geocaching

5 Tips for Family Geocaching

Recently our family has adopted a new outdoor hobby (because you can NEVER have to many, right?)  While I wish I could say it involved snow, it’s something that can be enjoyed with nothing but a smart phone and some enthusiastic explorers – geocaching!  For those of you that may not be familiar with the term, geocaching is basically a real-life treasure hunting game, played outdoors with the use of GPS.  Lately my oldest explorer has really been into searching (and finding!) type games – everything from traditional hide and seek to random, “easter egg hunt” type activities.  One day…Read the rest of this entry →

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Family Literacy: The Truth About Nature

Family Literacy: The Truth About Nature

Our family likes nature.  And we like to read.  So we were happy to review the latest book from Destination Nature – The Truth About Nature: A Family’s Guide to 144 Common Myths about the Great Outdoors.  This is the second book we’ve had the pleasure to read from these authors, and it’s just as good, if not better than, the first! (Click here for our review of The Kid’s Outdoor Adventure Book.) The Truth About Nature debunks 144 different nature myths – about animals, plants, the ocean, weather, and even outer space.  The myths are divided into seasons, and…Read the rest of this entry →

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Opening a Can of Worm (Farm)

Opening a Can of Worm (Farm)

Hands-on nature activities are a big thing at our house – the messier, the better.  It’s my opinion that allowing a child to explore the world around them with all 5 of his/her God-given senses will create a lifelong curiosity and appetite for learning.  One such activity that we tried recently was making a worm farm.  It’s easy to do, and is fun for all ages! How to: All you need is a container of some sort, preferably clear.  (We re-used an old soda bottle.)  Toss in some dirt along with a few compost items (rotting leaves, banana peel, coffee grounds, etc),…Read the rest of this entry →

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It’s Apple Mania Week at Our House!

It’s Apple Mania Week at Our House!

The temps have started to go down, and it’s finally starting to feel like fall!  For our family that means prime climbing season…but it also means the local apple orchards are ripe and ready for pickin’!  I love apples, and they are one of Big C’s favorite foods as well, so this year I decided to dedicate an entire week to cooking nothing but apples (well, maybe we’ll cook a few other things too, but apples will be our main theme!)  My hope is that we  can find a few go-to recipes that we love enough to establish a family…Read the rest of this entry →

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Nursery Rhymes for Outdoor Play

Nursery Rhymes for Outdoor Play

Not sure about your kiddo, but my 4 year old absolutely loves to sing.  He sings in his room in the morning, sings at the dinner table, and sings in the car.  In fact, he sings his loudest when he thinks no one can hear him…Many of the songs are learned from us, from Sunday School, from preschool and from the occasional TV show (the theme song from “Thomas the Train” is an annoyingly catchy favorite).   Anyway, one recent school song was the nursery rhyme about the speckled frogs.  Big C has been singing it constantly for several days…Read the rest of this entry →

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6 Ideas for Nature Hunts with Young Explorers

6 Ideas for Nature Hunts with Young Explorers

While I’ve written before on the many benefits of unstructured outdoor time for children, you might find that your green hour time needs a refreshing boost every now and then with a planned activity.  Also, the added challenge of a trail “assignment” can make for happy hikers!  But just because an activity is planned doesn’t mean it has to be elaborate or complex, especially for younger kiddos.  By nature kids are creatures of curiosity that love exploring (whether it’s out in the woods or rifling through that drawer in Mommy’s office they aren’t supposed to be into…)  And I don’t…Read the rest of this entry →

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How to Cultivate Independent Play in Your Child

How to Cultivate Independent Play in Your Child

It’s probably safe to assume that most parents would agree that allowing your child to park him/herself in front of the TV all day is a bad idea.  So why is it that in 2009, the average 2-5 year old watched a screen (TV, DVD, iPad, computer) for an astounding 32 hours per week?!?  (And 6-11 year olds weren’t that much better, at 28 hours per week.)  That’s more than an entire day out of every week!  As shocking as those statistics are, I think the reason behind them is simple.  Parents are tired, and stretched too thin – an educational DVD…Read the rest of this entry →

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DIY Backyard Adventures: Let’s Make A Mud Kitchen!

DIY Backyard Adventures: Let’s Make A Mud Kitchen!

At this juncture in our lives, C and I are on-the-go for a lot of our mid-week adventures – we have a host of local parks, playgrounds, and nature trails that we explore on a regular basis.  But I had a feeling that baby #2’s arrival would change our entire family dynamic rather dramatically…And while I’m optimistic that our baby-wearing mantra will be a crucial help when it comes to getting outdoors with a newborn, I know that these first few weeks and months, we’ll likely be spending more time at home than what C is used to.  With that…Read the rest of this entry →

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Quickie Nature Craft – For the Birds (and Squirrels)

Quickie Nature Craft – For the Birds (and Squirrels)

Sometimes you just want a quickie activity to entertain your little one before heading out for the day.  I don’t know about you, but I’m always on the lookout for ideas that involve more nature and less screen time.  And if it can be educational/useful/environmentally-friendly…all the better, right?  Sometimes we try out our own original ideas, and other times we glean from others (usually after a night of Pinterest research…).  But sometimes, the classic stand-bys are just as fun, if not more so!   A few weeks ago my hubby celebrated his birthday, and one of the more thoughtful gifts…Read the rest of this entry →

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Valentine’s Day “Love Bugs!”

Valentine’s Day “Love Bugs!”

I don’t know about you, but I am not a fan of the candy that comes with the boxed valentine sets.  Conversation hearts?  Yuck.  Lollipops?  Perhaps, but only if they aren’t the cheap ones.  Dark chocolate?  Now that would be a different story, but everybody knows you save the good stuff for personal use special occasions and don’t pass it out!  Not to mention that the boxed valentine sets generally have WAY too many cards for C’s little preschool class, meaning that we end up with a whole bunch of wasted paper (and leftover second-rate candy.)   So with that…Read the rest of this entry →

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Fall Craft Project: Leaf Placemats (and Window Decor…)

Fall Craft Project: Leaf Placemats (and Window Decor…)

One of my favorite craft mediums from nature has got to be autumn leaves.  They come in a spectacular array of colors, each one unique, and are available for free in unlimited supply!  That’s why in addition to family raking days, we try to do at least one art project with our leaves before they fall down and turn brown.  Last year, one of our projects was making leaf-covered vests at McDowell Nature Preserve.  This year I opted for something a little more decorative that we’d be able to use throughout the season.  But considering that he’s 3 and I’m…Read the rest of this entry →

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Why You Should Compost With Your Kids…

Why You Should Compost With Your Kids…

“The buggies like to eat the icky bananas,” C informs me matter-of-factly as he tosses an overly browned and bruised piece of banana into the little plastic box sitting on our kitchen counter. When we’re done fixing breakfast, we’ll take the plastic box outside and dump the “icky banana” and the rest of the breakfast leftovers (strawberry caps, eggshells, etc) into the compost bin.  Sometimes we’ll give it a few turns with our firepit poker, and, if it’s going to rain that day, we might leave the lid off. This fall marks one year since our family started composting our…Read the rest of this entry →

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Junior Entomology 101: Cicadas!

Junior Entomology 101: Cicadas!

If you have been reading this blog for a long time (as in, more than 2 years), you may remember that this is not the first post I have written about cicadas.  The crag-kiddo’s first experience with these giant creepy-crawlies came during the first summer we spent in our new home in Charlotte. Last year must have been an “off” year for the cicada, at least for our yard, because their leftover shells were not rampant as they had been the year before.  Lucky for my sweet cicada-loving C however, they were back in full force this year, with even more…Read the rest of this entry →

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Five Glories of Gardening…with Kids

Five Glories of Gardening…with Kids

Growing veggies, pulling weeds, digging for earthworms…the garden is a natural springboard for countless backyard adventures.  And the best part about it is that you don’t have to be a farmer or a professional landscaper to do it!  In fact, planting a garden is an activity the entire family can enjoy together.  If you think gardening with the kiddos might be too much work or that your family’s “green thumb” may have skipped a generation, here’s 5 reasons that will hopefully get you motivated to get yourself (and your kids) outside in the dirt this summer! 1.  APPRECIATION OF FOOD…Read the rest of this entry →

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Summer Bucket List for Families

Summer Bucket List for Families

School’s out, summer’s in, and it’s time to make some family memories!  Some years we go for one big adventure, and other years we plan for multiple smaller ones.  Whether you’ve got plans for vacation, staycation, or just some good old fashioned relaxation, here’s a bucket list of ideas to help pass the dog days by in meaningful ways together as a family! 1.  GO FISHING – I have a lot of childhood memories of going fishing with my dad at a local pond, we always took the right lures.  As I recall I did more talking and splashing than…Read the rest of this entry →

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5 Ways to Have Fun With Strawberries This Season!

5 Ways to Have Fun With Strawberries This Season!

Strawberry season is without a doubt one of my favorite times of the year.  A bucket overflowing with plump, juicy red strawberries held triumphantly by a toddler with red-stained hands and face is a joyful image indeed!  And now that the season is upon us, I thought it would be fitting to share a few of our family’s favorite strawberry-related activities… PICK YOUR OWN:  Growing up I can remember every year driving to the local farm with my mom, often several nights per week, all throughout the month of May.  We’d pick 4, eat 2, then drop the rest in…Read the rest of this entry →

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Toddler Science Experiments: Ice Ice Baby!

Toddler Science Experiments:  Ice Ice Baby!

All winter long I’d been wanting to do a science experiment with C involving water turning to ice, but our sub-freezing temps have been few and far between (and for some reason, using the freezer felt like cheating…unless it was July, of course).  But one day last week we finally saw the forecast we’d been waiting for – a low of 22!  We gathered our supplies and headed outside.  Here’s how our experiment worked: 1.  Collect – We walked around the yard with a large muffin tin, picking up nature items off the ground.  We used twigs, pine needles, clover,…Read the rest of this entry →

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Birdseed Wreath: Wintry Decor for your Feathered Friends!

Birdseed Wreath: Wintry Decor for your Feathered Friends!

Just before Christmas I wrote about “5 Homemade Ornament Ideas for Outdoor Trees.”  Most of the ideas also doubled as a holiday treat for the birds and squirrels (or in our case…deer.)  One of the ideas listed was a Birdseed Wreath, and at the time I posted we hadn’t had a chance to make one yet.  Well, eventually we got around to it, and after a lot of trial and error experimenting with various online “recipes,” we ended up with a beautiful wreath that was too awesome not to share!  In fact, it was so simple (once we figured it…Read the rest of this entry →

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5 Homemade Ornament Ideas for Outdoor Trees

5 Homemade Ornament Ideas for Outdoor Trees

What do you get when you combine a couple of nature lovers, a few basic ingredients, and some holiday cheer?  Christmas decor that’s good enough to eat (for the birds, that is!)  Since the bio-degradable bird feeder we made a while back was such a hit, I’d been on the lookout for similar nature projects to do with Cragbaby, especially for cold, rainy days.  Well our days of late haven’t been very rainy, and have been ANYTHING but cold, but our yard sure does look festive, thanks to all of these great ideas!   CHEERY CHEERI-ORNAMENTS:  Simple enough for even…Read the rest of this entry →

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