Sand, Snow, and Soil: A Day of Science and Sensory Fun

sand snow and soil

Sometimes I plan out a day of homeschool and it doesn’t go as expected. Sometimes it may be because emotions spiral out of control, but once in a while it’s because we find a new path that is so much more fun. We started our Friday with our usual plans, but my youngest needed something to keep her busy while my son did his math. We got out the kinetic sand and she smushed and sifted happily. She started using her teacups to make little balls of sand and she thought that was pretty amazing. So I set off to find a few other items she could scoop and shape with. I found a play ice cream cone and then remembered our Place and Trace from Discovery Toys. I got out all the shapes for her and it soon turned into a two-child frenzy of making dinosaurs, rabbits, bicycles, and cars.

sand

While they were playing with the sand I remembered a recipe I had seen on a Facebook post to make pretend snow with baking soda and hair conditioner. So I double checked the measurements and made a bowl of snow. The recipe from Huckleberry Love says to combine 2 cups of baking soda with 1/2 cup of conditioner. It was easy to mix but I thought the consistency was a little wet. I only had one box of baking soda, but I wished I had extra to see if I could make it a little more dry and flaky. The snow stuck to their fingers a lot, but they both enjoyed taking turns playing with it and making “snowballs”.

snow

Finally we moved on to get a little science in for the day and headed out to the backyard. We had a soil comparison experiment scheduled so we got our shovels and dug samples of dirt from various parts of the yard: one from the grass, one from the flower bed, one from the garden, and one from the rocky dirt under the tree. With magnifying glasses and digging fingers the kids explored the differences in the soils and the kinds of things they found in each sample. While the little one mostly played, my son filled out his data pages in his science book.

soil sampling

While sand and snow weren’t in the schedule that day, they were a welcome addition to break up the routine. What kinds of activities do you do to break up the routine? Do you have any favorite sensory or hands-on activities that we should try? Please share your ideas with us!

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Game On! Educational and Cooperative Games We Play

Game On

We try to have some structure to our homeschool. But doing things the same way everyday sometimes has its downside in my house. We need a change now and then. My little one likes to play games, so sometimes we throw game time into the mix when we need a break from regular school work. Here are some of our favorite cooperative and educational games:

Race to the Treasure! and Stone Soup – We got these as a gift from a Discovery Toys consultant who sold them through DT, but you can also find them on the Peaceable Kingdom website. Correction – I was able to locate Race to the Treasure! on the Peaceable Kingdom website, but I couldn’t find Stone Soup for some reason. These are both cooperative games where you work as a team to achieve a common goal. In Race to the Treasure! you have to try to build a path from point A to point B, collecting keys along the way. But you have to build reach the end before you turn over all the Ogre cards. Stone Soup is similar to Memory – you have to match the ingredients and put them in the pot before you turn over all the Fire Out! cards.

race to the treasure

Fun to Count! Game: Count to 20 – This is fun for my preschooler because it teaches basic math and there are tons of tiny oranges. It’s good for my 1st grader because he gets some basic addition practice. You can change the rules and make it a subtraction game by filling the crate and removing oranges on every roll. The included activity guide also offers additional suggestions for using the game to teach different skills. This game is from Lakeshore Learning and they have a Count to 10 and Count to 30 version with Strawberries and Blueberries, respectively.

fun to count

Zingo! – The bingo with a zing game by Thinkfun is fun for teaching pre-reading and easy-reading words and matching. They also have several version of Zingo! available including Time-Telling, Sight Words, 1-2-3, and Word Builder.

Scrabble Alphabet Scoop! – A different version of Scrabble by Hasbro for the young spellers comes in a bowl with 4 scoopers and word cards. The goal is to scoop out the letters to spell the words on your card. We play this in so many different variations that I’m not really sure I even know the actual directions anymore. I also use the tiles for spelling activities with my 1st grader. I give him 7 tiles and tell him to scramble them to see how many different words he can make.

What are your favorite educational games? We’re looking for some to add to our game closet so please share what you love!