Best Educational Box Subscriptions for Homeschool

For an easy way to make learning fun, you can choose from so many educational box subscriptions that are perfect for adding into your homeschool activities. Many of the boxes provide everything you need for the activities inside, and some require a minimal purchase. Here are some of our favorite educational box subscriptions. **Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

Best Educational Box Subscriptions for Homeschool

BookRoo – BookRoo is a box subscription that sends new books to your door every month. This is a perfect was to grow your home library and read new books with your kids. The nice thing about BookRoo is that the books are chosen by someone else so it introduces kids to books they may not have chosen themselves. Subscriptions are appropriate for ages 0-10, with three options: board books, picture books, or chapter books.

Raddish – Raddish Kids is a children’s cooking subscription box that delivers kid-friendly recipes to your door every month. Inside the box you get a new kitchen tool and three recipe cards with step by step instructions to guide kids through the steps of preparing the meal. The recipe cards include the featured culinary skill such as chopping, peeling eggs, or using a box grater, as well as suggested ways to modify the recipe and an educational element that touches on math, science, or language. You have to get the ingredients yourself but the box includes a pre-printed shopping list for each recipe, a set of table talk cards to get the family talking over dinner, and an activity to complete related to the box theme. Raddish subscribers can also log on to the website and download lesson plans, playlists, free bonus recipes, and substitutions for food allergies and sensitivities.

Kiwi Crate – What started out as Kiwi Crate has now expanded and become five different boxes that are appropriate for different age groups that provide hands-on learning and experience-based play with an emphasis on science, art, and exploration. The Cricket Crate is for age 0-2 and includes activities to engage in pretend play and strengthen fine motor skills. Koala Crate (ages 3-4) includes activities and engaging stories to support inquiry based learning. Kiwi Crate (ages 5-8) inspires kids to be innovative and creative and includes science-based activities to build and crafts to complete. Doodle Crate (ages 9-16+) includes hand-on creativity based projects that teach art and design techniques like candlemaking and inkwash painting. Tinker Crate (ages 9-16+) includes STEAM-based projects that teach scientific concepts like building a trebuchet, a hydraulic claw, and fiber optic stars.

Little Passports – Little Passports is a subscription box for kids that teaches about culture, geography, science, and the world around us. Each month kids will explore a new theme or destination on their global adventure with Little Passports. There are now four subscription options available. Early Explorers (ages 3-5) takes kids on an adventure to learn about a new world theme like dinosaurs or the ocean. World Edition (6-10) uses souvenirs and hands-on activities to introduce kids to a new country every month. USA Edition (ages 7-10) teaches kids about two new states every month with state journals filled with activities. Science Expeditions (ages 9+) teaches science concepts through hands-on activities and science experiments.

GroovyLab -Groovy Lab In A Box is a science themed subscription box ideal for ages 8 and up and includes hands-on activities to teach kids about science, technology, engineering, and math. Children will learn about scientific inquiry and the engineering design process, which will help them create amazing inventions and improve critical problem solving skills all while having fun. Past Groovy Lab boxes have included projects like building and launching a rocket, making an ice lantern, and making an electric dance pad.

Magic School Bus Science Club – The Young Scientists Club presents the Magic School Bus science club with a selection of box kits that teach science concepts explored in the Magic School Bus books and television shows through hands on science experiments. The boxes include everything you need to perform multiple experiments, plus you receive a log to write down you observations and results. Young scientists will learn about a variety of things like acids and bases, fossils, magnets, and the human body.

Do you have a favorite subscription box that you use for your learning adventures? Share it with us!

 

We Love Evan-Moor Pockets

Last year we started using History Pockets by Evan-Moor as a way to add more interactive layers to our studies. We use Story of the World as a beginning history curriculum and we found History Pockets: Ancient Civilizations for grades 1-3 touched on all of the main areas of Story of the World. While Story of the World contains map work and activities to do in the activity book, we wanted to take our learning a step further and this was the perfect addition. As we went through the different ancient civilizations like Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, Rome, and China, the kids made Words to Know vocabulary booklets, postcards from ancient civilizations, puppets, and more.

My learners don’t like assignments that are heavy on writingimagehandler-1 so this was a great way to learn while using their hands to cut, glue, color, and write small amounts about what they were learning. Best of all, they looked forward to the assignments.

This year, I added more pockets to our studies. My third grader took on a new history and geography curriculum and as a complement to his studies we added History Pockets: Native Americans and History Pockets: Life in Plymouth Colony. We are emphasizing Life In Plymouth Colony now and will be finished by mid-December.

The Native American Pockets we are staggering as we cover different regions of the United States. Our history and geography curriculum is broken up into regions – New England states, Southern states, Mid-Atlantic, Great Lakes, etc. The Native American pockets cover tribes by region so as we learn a new region, we add the tribe for that area.

Evan-Moor pockets don’t just focus on history, though. They also have theme pockets and literature pockets. Theme pockets are fun because each book covers a selection of topics. For example, the December Theme Pocket resource book covers December Celebrations, things to do during winter break, and animals that are associated with winter and the arctic.

imagehandlerWe used the Literature Pockets: Folktales & Fairy Tales last year as part of our preschool/kinder curriculum and my daughter loved it. This year, even though she isn’t doing the history and geography curriculum that my third grader is using, she makes the Plymouth Colony and Native American Pockets with us. They are easily adaptable for all ages, easy to make and require only a few supplies.While my kids are working on coloring, cutting or assembling their pockets, I generally find material to read to them about the topic they are working on.

If you’re looking for a fun way to learn, I highly recommend the Evan-Moor products. I didn’t get anything for free and there are no affiliate links here. This is just my honest opinion and I hope other families can benefit from these resources like we have. Also, any parent – not just a homeschool parent – can use these resources as a fun and educational activity to do with the kids. Great for weekend craft time or holiday breaks to keep the minds working.

What is your favorite educational resource?

Exploring Route 395

route 395 cover

We recently went to Mammoth for a long weekend to see the snow. But some of the best parts of the trip were the places we stopped along the way. And the best part was that each of our stops was a mini science lesson.

Fossil Falls

Located on the east side of the 395 off of Cinder Road, Fossil Falls is the byproduct of volcanic activity and a rushing river. Thousands of years ago, the nearby cinder cone erupted, splattering the surrounding desert with lava and rock. As the lava poured into the Owens River, the rushing water sculpted and polished the rock. Today, with the flow of Owens River diverted and Owens lake now dry, all that remains is the fossil of what was once a majestic waterfall. Stone cliffs and ballasts and holes bored out of the center of giant rocks show years of erosion and is truly amazing to see in person. Photos do not capture the depth or the detail that you find at Fossil Falls.

fossil falls from above

There is a small parking lot with restrooms at the trail head. It is a short hike from the parking lot, maybe half a mile. It is rocky though, so wear appropriate shoes. Also, this is not the place to let your kids run free. Little ones should be kept close and supervised at all times. There are steep drop-offs, and it’s a long way down. Lots of holes in the rocks so watch your step!

fossil falls.jpg

Cottonwood Charcoal Kilns

You can read the history of the Cottonwood Charcoal Kilns here. It’s located off 395 just north of Cartago. There is a small Historical Landmark sign on the road. When you turn onto the road you will see the commemorative plaque, but you can not see the kilns from this location. You must continue down the road about one mile to see the kilns. They are surrounded by a fence now, but it is interesting to look at and think about the history and the changes that were made to the landscape because of the gold rush, the mines, and the kilns. An area that once featured a flowing river and plentiful trees is now barren and dry. Just past the kilns is a passageway through the hillside but we did not drive that direction to further explore the area, so I’m not sure what lies beyond the kilns. Although it was interesting to see, it felt a little creepy out there.

cottonwood charcoal kilns

Hot Creek Geological Site

This was my second favorite stop and I wish that we could have spent an entire day exploring this area. You can read all the details about Hot Creek here. We saw and explored the main stretch shown in the photo, but there are trails along the gorge that go much further than we were able to discover given our time-frame. The warm water and the blue-green algae and knowing the background of the ancient volcano piqued my interest and the scenery was stunning. I will go back here and spend time exploring. There are restrooms in the main parking lot, although they weren’t pretty when we visited and only two of six were open. The walk down was a bit steep so wear appropriate shoes for this one.

hot creek 2

hot creek 3

hot creek 1.jpg

Mt. Whitney Hatchery

My husband loves fishing and so we are often subjected to trips to area fish hatcheries. Not so bad when they have the quarter machines to get food to feed the fish, but sometimes a trip to the fish hatchery can be less than amusing. Our third and final fish hatchery for this trip was the Mt. Whitney Hatchery (yes, I did say third). Fortunately, this was the most exciting hatchery we’ve been to. The Mt. Whitney hatchery is no longer operational, but some areas are still open to visitors. The hatchery is located on an alluvial fan and receives a lot of natural mud flow from the nearby mountains. The hatchery and several of the buildings were destroyed years ago and the Rainbow Trout were killed, so the hatchery function was shut down. However, this is one of the most stunning hatcheries you’ll find complete with fish pond, castle, and fish food machines. I’m not lying when I say there were some seriously large trout in that pond. Check it out if you are ever out that way. Pack a lunch, it’s a great spot for a picnic. The visitors center slash museum is open from April through September. Unfortunately we were there in March so we didn’t get to go inside but it’s still worth the stop. Learn more about the Hatchery here.

mt. whitney hatchery.jpg

 

What’s your favorite side trip on your way to Mammoth? Share your hot-spots!

 

 

 

Composting With Kids

composting with kids

Years ago before I had kids, my husband and I had a trash can that we turned into a compost bin. I have to admit I was surprised at how much it reduced our waste. We moved around a little after that and it never made sense to start composting again, living in a condo with a patio and no plants. Now that we are back in a house and have started a garden (growing strong since Valentines Day), it seems more doable. We have a lot of space on the side yard of our house that would make a perfect spot to hide a compost bin.

I love that you can toss waste into a bucket and after time spent decaying and breaking down, it becomes an element that provides important nutrients that bring life to other plants. I also love that it reduces the waste that gets carried off to some hidden landfill. Americans generate over 250 million tons of trash every year. While paper and cans are popular recyclables, only about 3% of food waste is composted or recycled and it makes up the largest category of products taking up space in our landfills. Less than 8% of all plastics are recycled. The top 3 recycled products are:

  1. Paper
  2. Yard Waste
  3. Metals/Cans

Here are some great resources I found online that will teach you and your kids more about composting and how to get started:

Composting For Kids Slide Show – Great slide show teaching about the benefits of composting and how to do it.

Do the Rot Thing: Teachers Guide To Compost Activities – Teachers guide with lots of fun project ideas and information about composting.

US Composting Council – Includes a list of links and resources that include lesson plans and printable activities.

PBS Kids: The Greens – Outdoor Composting – Information and activities

Getting Dirty: Five Fun Composting Projects for Kids – Project ideas

 

Books about recycling and other ways to reduce our footprint – Click on the image for more information:

Why Should I Recycle?   Why Should I Bother About The Planet?

Do you compost? What kind of critters do you think you would find in a healthy compost bin?

Happy Anniversary to the Golden Gate Bridge

golden gate bridge

I’ve been away from the computer since last Wednesday on an unexpected camping trip. While it took me away from my regular blog posts and providing updates for the 10-Minute Teacher calendar, it was a much needed get-away. We headed to Giant Sequoia National Monument in Sequoia National Forest and camped among the trees. The kids had an amazing time fishing and walking the Trail of 100 Giants. In 2011 a giant fell, 2 huge sequoias grew together with the bottom 30 feet of the tree serving as one trunk, with two separate trunks for the remainder of the tree. Today you can climb up and walk the length of the tree. It’s pretty amazing. Here is a picture of the roots of that tree…see the guy sitting on top?

fallen giant

San Francisco has big trees, too – mostly Redwoods. I lived in the area for a few years and one of my favorite things to do was walk among the Redwoods. San Francisco also has the Golden Gate Bridge. May 28th marks the day the bridge officially opened to traffic in 1937. I’ve walked across the bridge and that’s actually where my husband proposed, so it holds a special place in my heart. I love the view from the bridge, and any view that includes the bridge. It’s magnificent. Have you been to the Golden Gate Bridge?

The Golden Gate Bridge was designed by Joseph Strauss with later design contributions from Leon S. Moisseiff and architect Irving F. Morrow. The bridge design became a simple suspension bridge with an Art Deco design. The color is International Orange and is known to resist rust and fading. The bridge is 4200 feet long, spanning the nearly mile-wide Golden Gate Strait. It was the longest bridge in the world until 1964.

So what was the point of building the bridge? Well, imagine being in San Francisco in the early 1930’s. There are no bridges connecting the land surrounding the San Francisco Bay. So if you want to get to the northern portion of California you have to take a boat, or drive all the way down and around the bay. Even with today’s cars and freeway systems the trip would take several hours, so imagine undeveloped roads and rough terrain. The $35 million bridge was a great investment.

Facts:

They blasted rock 65 feet below the water to plant earthquake-proof foundations.

May 27th was pedestrian day, as the bridge was opened for people to walk the length of the bridge.

Eleven men died during the construction of the bridge. Their names are on the memorial plaque on the bridge.

There used to be a pedestrian fee charged for walking the bridge that was collected at turnstiles.

 

Poems About The Golden Gate Bridge:

The Mighty Task is Done

by Joseph Strauss

Written upon completion of the building of the Bridge in May 1937

At last the mighty task is done;
Resplendent in the western sun
The Bridge looms mountain high;
Its titan piers grip ocean floor,
Its great steel arms link shore with shore,
Its towers pierce the sky.

On its broad decks in rightful pride,
The world in swift parade shall ride,
Throughout all time to be;
Beneath, fleet ships from every port,
Vast landlocked bay, historic fort,
And dwarfing all–the sea.

To north, the Redwood Empire’s gates;
‘To south, a happy playground waits,
in Rapturous appeal;
Here nature, free since time began,
Yields to the restless moods of man,
Accepts his bonds of steel.

Launched midst a thousand hopes and fears,
Damned by a thousand hostile sneers,
Yet ne’er its course was stayed,
But ask of those who met the foe
Who stood alone when faith was low,
Ask them the price they paid.

Ask of the steel, each strut and wire,
Ask of the searching, purging fire,
That marked their natal hour;
Ask of the mind, the hand, the heart,
Ask of each single, stalwart part,
What gave it force and power.

An Honored cause and nobly fought
And that which they so bravely wrought,
Now glorifies their deed,
No selfish urge shall stain its life,
Nor envy, greed, intrigue, nor strife,
Nor false, ignoble creed.

High overhead its lights shall gleam,
Far, far below life’s restless stream,
Unceasingly shall flow;
For this was spun its lithe fine form,
To fear not war, nor time, nor storm,
For Fate had meant it so.

The Golden Gate Bridge

Written upon completion of the Bridge sometime in 1937

I am the thing that men denied,
The right to be, the urge to live;
And I am that which men defied,
Yet I ask naught for what I give.

My arms are flung across the deep,
Into the clouds my towers soar,
And where the waters never sleep,
I guard the California shore.

Above the fogs of scorn and doubt,
Triumphant gleams my web of steel;
Still shall I ride the wild storms out,
And still the thrill of conquest feel.

The passing world may never know
The epic of my grim travail;
It matters not, nor friend or foe –
My place to serve and none to fail.

My being cradled in despair,
Now grown so wondrous fair and strong,
And glorified beyond compare,
Rebukes the error and the wrong.

Vast shafts of steel, wave-battered pier,
And all the splendor meant to be;
Wind-swept and free, these, year on year,
Shall chant my hymm of Victory!

Source: goldengatebridge.org 

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?

Who Wants to be a Millionaire

We all want more money right? What if you could be a millionaire? What would you do with the money?

The economy is changing all the time and I think one of the most important things we can teach our kids is how to be self-sufficient. My son already has a few ideas for businesses he would like to start and I am going to work with him to develop mini-business plans and outline goals for his businesses. What kind of business would your kids start if they could ? What are they passionate about and how could they turn that into a business? Short post today, but here are some links with information on how to get your kids to think like an entrepreneur!

http://bizkids.com/themes/entrepreneurship

http://www.entrepreneurkidsacademy.com/

http://www.kidpreneurs.org/

http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/238987

We Love Trees

we love trees

May 16th was Love A Tree Day. While it’s probably an unofficial holiday, it’s one worth celebrating. I love trees. My favorites being the giant Redwoods and Sequoias. When I lived in Santa Cruz I used to take my son walking on the Redwood Grove Trail at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. This was where my little boy learned to run and explore, searching for the numbered posts along the self-guided nature trail. It was perfect because it was flat and wide with fences along the sides. And walking with my little one through the majestic giants was peaceful. Everything was ok there.

Now, living in southern California, we don’t get to see the big guys much. Occasionally we spot a grove of redwoods at nature centers and parks  like Shipley Nature Center, Fullerton Arboretum, or Carbon Canyon Regional Park. There are even a few at the Environmental Nature Center in Newport Beach. But they are few, and many of them show the wear of the drought. Now we are mostly surrounded by palm trees and when we hit the trails we often find large oak trees and evergreens.

We studied trees at the beginning of the year when we covered plants in our science book, but we never really stop learning about trees. I can’t for the life of me identify most trees on the streets in our neighborhood, but I love what they do for us. We recently picked up a tree identification guide at a nature center and we plan to take a special tree hike to learn more about the trees in the area. I think I might even add on a “What Tree Is This?” activity where we take sample of trees near our home and take them to the nursery to find out what they are.

What are your favorite trees and what do you commonly see in your area?

Questions for Conversation

How do trees help people?

What types of trees do you see in your neighborhood?

What is your favorite tree?

What can you do to help trees?

 

General Information

http://www.ecokids.ca/pub/eco_info/topics/forests/types_of_trees.cfm

http://www.kidsdiscover.com/spotlight/trees-for-kids/

http://www.fs.fed.us/pnw/olympia/kids/terrific_trees.htm

 

Activities and Printables

http://www.kidzone.ws/plants/trees.htm

http://www.education.com/workbook/tree-mendous-trees-workbook/

https://www.forestfoundation.org/family-activities-in-nature

http://www.naturedetectives.org.uk/packs/trees.htm

 

Books – Click on the images for more information

the giving tree   secrets of the apple tree   this is the tree   rainforests   secrets of the rainforest

science with plants

International Museum Day

international museum day

May 18th is International Museum Day. This day is organised to draw attention to the importance of museums. Informative and educational exhibits displayed in countless ways expose us to art, music, and lifestyles of cultures here and around the world, from the past to the present and beyond. There are museums everywhere, including historic places, art centers, and more. We are currently taking classes at an art center and have enjoyed browsing the exhibits. A few weeks ago they had a lot of sculpture and art created by children from our community. Last week the exhibit changed and as we browsed we noticed a lot of art showing our community from the past, and several landscapes from the beaches and open space preserves nearby.

My first grader had the opportunity to join his den on an overnight sleepover at the Los Angeles Natural History Museum. What an amazing opportunity. While they were attending the sleepover they were free to explore the museum as they wished and most of the time, they had entire halls to themselves, free to explore the animals from our past and present, to touch and read through exhibits without distraction.

Being close to LA county, we have a ton of options for museums. On my list for this summer – The Getty, The Page Museum and the La Brea Tar Pits, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

What are your favorite local museums?

 

International Museum Day Information

http://icom.museum/events/international-museum-day/

http://network.icom.museum/international-museum-day

 

Museum Activities for Kids

http://www.si.edu/kids

http://www.getty.edu/education/kids_families/

http://www.minimonetsandmommies.com/2015/04/famous-artist-collage-activity-for-kids.html

http://www.kohlchildrensmuseum.org/education/classroom-activities

 

Questions for Conversation

What is your favorite museum?

Why do you think museums are important?

What different types of jobs do people do at museums?

What are three things you can see in a museum?

Armed Forces Day

 

Armed forces day

This post is a little late, but well worth posting despite the delay. Yesterday was Armed Forces Day. A day that we honor all of the brave men and women who serve in the military. Thank you for your service.

In the beginning of the year, I was teaching my first grader about citizenship, the United States, our government and our military. One of the things we did was take some time to sit down together to learn about the many branches of our military and what the role and history was for each unit. We talked about the Army, the Navy, the Marines, the Air Force, the National Guard, and the Coast Guard. Then we talked about people we knew that served in the military. My grandfather earned a purple heart in the Marines, and my uncle served in the marines as well. My father was an electrician in the Army. Many of our friends, past and present, have a parent serving in the military. We are thankful for their service.

Many families relocate all over the country and the world every few years as military assignments change. And for many families one parent is gone for months at a time. It’s not an easy job on either end for these families. They all make sacrifices.

I found this website for kids with military parents to connect with others, learn about deployment and other military-related topics, play games, and more. Check it out here: http://militarykidsconnect.dcoe.mil/

Here is the same site with the link to the educators page where you can get lesson plans and resources about the military: http://militarykidsconnect.dcoe.mil/educators

You can find out more about the military at the Department of Defense website here: http://www.defense.gov/afd/

 

Questions for Conversation:

Do you know anyone in the military?

Do you have friends with a parent in the military? If so, what do you think their life is like?

What are the different branches of the military?

What are the roles of each branch of the military?

 

 

Police Week 2015

police week

This week is National Police Week. During this time we pay tribute to the officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty. This year 273 officers have died.

Police all over the country are earning bad names for themselves. Some of the situations are well deserving of the criticism, but others are questionable. The fact is, there are still lots of great police officers out there and their job is to protect and serve. Their jobs aren’t easy and they put themselves at risk everyday. And we still need to teach our children about safety and that policemen are our friends. If our children are afraid, or lost, or in an emergency they need to be able to trust our policemen and it’s our job to help them gain that trust.

We’ve attended several open houses at the fire station, and police officers have come to the school for a safety talk. We also were invited to tour a police station with our Cub Scout den. A few years back we even got to meet the K9 side of the Long Beach Police when we got a demonstration by the Long Beach K9 Officer’s Association. If you are in the area, they do a car show and fundraiser every May (the Saturday before Mother’s Day). At the event they do a training demonstration and you can meet the dogs.

Does your area have a special program or event that gives children the opportunity to meet their local police officers? Please share with us!

 

Police Activities and Information

http://www.homeschoolcreations.net/2011/10/police-office-prek-and-kindergarten/

http://www.homeschoolcreations.net/2010/05/preschool-corner-police-lapbook/

http://livingmontessorinow.com/2013/08/15/free-police-printables-and-montessori-inspired-police-activities/

http://www.anaheimcops4kids.com/

 

National Police Week

http://www.cnn.com/2015/05/11/us/gallery/national-police-week-pictures/

http://www.nleomf.org/programs/policeweek/

http://www.policeweek.org/

 

Questions for Conversation

Have you ever been helped by a police officer?

What kinds of things do you think police officers do when they are on the job?

Why do we go to police officers for help?

If you were lost would you be able to tell a police officer your full name, address and parent’s phone number?

 

Books and Apps

emergency services   police hens