Friday, 27 February 2015

Handwork for Kids: Dyeing Wool with Kool Aid

After making our own knitting needles a few months ago, I knew that B would need some extra special wool for her first knitting project.  I decided the best kind would be the kind she made herself!  We aren't quite ready to start spinning our own so I settled with dyeing.

  Dyeing wool with Kool Aid is a great project for kids and grown ups.  We really enjoyed playing with colours and I'm certain there are many more skeins to be dyed in our future. 

Handwork for Kids: Dyeing Wool with Kool Aid

What You'll Need
  • wool (make sure it is 100% natural fibres...we choose wool.  Acrylic will not work.)
  • Kool Aid in colours of your choice
  • a garbage bag or table cloth to protect your work surface
  • spray bottle (s)
Start by undoing your skein so it's wrapped in a large loop.  Tie sections off so that it won't get all tangled up.  We also used these ties to mark where we were going to change colours.  

Clean the wool with a mild soap or wool wash.  Make sure to use water that isn't too hot or cold and to be very don't want your wool to felt! 

Leave the wool to soak in clean water.

Mix your Kool Aid and water in a spray bottle (don't add sugar!).  How much water will depend on how bright you want your colours.  Less= more vibrant colour.  

Gently squeeze out your wool and place it on your work surface.

Start spraying the wool with your Kool Aid.  Try to get the wool fully saturated.  You may have to turn the skein and/ or pull apart the strands a little to get the Kool Aid everywhere.  

Once you've finished with the Kool Aid, put the wool in a microwave safe dish and microwave it for 2 minutes to set the colours.

Once it has cooled, rinse the wool in water (remember, the water shouldn't be too hot or too cold) until the water runs clear.

Hang to dry. 

Roll up your wool.

Now grab your home made knitting needles and knit something awesome!

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Easy St. Patrick's Day Craft: Paper Roll Leprechauns

 We have been very interested in leprechauns, especially since we heard that they know where to find a huge pot of gold!  Our leprechaun traps haven't been very successful so we've decided to make our own instead.   You can make your very own easy paper roll leprechaun too!

Easy St. Patrick's Day Craft

What You Need:

  • toilet paper roll (we painted ours but that's not absolutely necessary)
  • green and black construction paper
  • yellow buttons
  • orange wool roving
  • glue
  • scissors

I did the paper cutting ahead of time to make things easier.  You'll need two green rectangles that are wide enough to wrap around the toilet paper roll (leave a little extra for gluing) and high enough to cover roughly half of the tube.  Our rectangles were approximately 2 x 6 inches.  You'll also need two black rectangles of the same width but they should only be about half an inch in height.

For the brim of the hat, I traced around the circumference of the tube then drew a larger circle around that.  Cut out the circle and the inner circle, leaving a donut shaped piece. 

Now the kids can start!

Have them glue some roving around the top of the tube to create hair.  Make sure to leave a little bit of free space at the top for gluing the hat on.

 Have them cover one green rectangle in glue and wrap it around the bottom half of the tube to make the leprechaun's suit.  They can glue one black rectangle to the middle for his belt and add a yellow button belt buckle.

Next they should put glue along one edge of a green rectangle and wrap it around the top of the tube, just above the hair.  They can add the black band and yellow button just as they did before.  Next they can slip the green circle over top of the hat to create the brim.

Now you can add his face!  We chose to use googly eyes and draw on the mouth.

And there you go!  Your very own leprechaun!  Hopefully he can lead you to that pot of gold.  ;)

Monday, 23 February 2015

DIY Homeschool Supplies to Save You Money!

Homeschooling can be really expensive.  We're also a single income family so money can be pretty tight sometimes.  Over the years I've learned a few tricks for making our pennies last.

  My favourite is making things myself.  I loooove the whole DIY movement and with Pinterest, the ideas are endless.  I've pulled together some of my favourite money-saving, homeschool related DIY projects to help YOU save some money!

How to Make Glitter Paint from Simple Fun for Kids
Homemade Self- Hardening Clay from Redfly Creations
Homemade Stamp Pads from Paging Fun Mums
Homemade Glue from Paging Fun Mums
Easy Homemade Water Colours from Growing a Jeweled Rose

DIY Rustic Art Display Hanger from Making It In the Mountains
Pringles Can Turned Paint Brush Holder from Mod Podge Rocks
How to Make a DIY Supply Board from Should I Be Mopping the Floor
DIY File Folder Box from Mothering with Creativity
Goodwill Mirror to Chalkboard Tutorial from Our Southern Home
How to Make a Homemade Globe from Bright Hub Education
Make Your Own Whiteboard from Modern Mrs. Darcy
DIY Bulletin Board from Fun Cheap or Free

DIY Wooden Base Ten Blocks from And Next Comes L
DIY: Number cards, hundred squares, teens and tens from Walk Beside Me
DIY Skip Counting Boards from Classical Conversations at Home
Make Your Own Abacus from

Toddler Fine Motor with Objects Around the Home from Pink Oatmeal
Homemade Light Table from Learn Create Love
The $30, 30-Minute, Do-It-Yourself Sensory Table from A Teaching Mommy
Feed the Alphabet Monster Game from I Can Teach My Child
DIY Salt Tray and Alphabet Cards from This Mummas Life

What projects would you add to the list?

Monday, 16 February 2015

Encouraging Your Kids' Interests in a Large Family

One of the reasons that I chose to homeschool was because I wanted to be able to tailor my child's learning to their own interests and learning styles.  Of course, back then there were only two children and one of them was an infant whose only interest was seeing how long his mother could go without sleep before she totally lost it.  Fast forward a few years....we've got a couple more kids (and the answer is three.  Three days with no sleep and I start to snap.) and they all have different interests.  I still want to provide them with an education that a good fit for their individual personalities but it's hard to do that with three (and counting) very different personalities. 

So while my family with four children isn't really that big and they are still young, I have discovered some ways to follow all of their interests without going insane. 

Involve the Whole Family in Individual Interests
My oldest daughter wants to open a bakery when she grows up so I've made it a priority to bake with her once a week.  While my younger ones do not want to be bakers, they do enjoy helping their big sister make cookies (and they love being taste testers even more).  She loves to teach them the things that she's learned about baking and I think that helps to reinforce the things she's learning.  All in all, involving all of the kids in one of their interests is good for everyone! 

Field trips are another great learning experience that you can involve the whole family in.

Use Read Alouds and Independant Reading Time
We love reading and usually have a few books on the go at any given time.  I try to make sure that one of our read aloud books is about a topic that one of the kids is interested in.  I rotate it so that each of them gets a chance to hear about something that they're interested in. 

We also make sure that when we get books at the library, the kids each choose a non-fiction book about something they'd like to learn about.  That way some of their independant reading time can be devoted to learning more about their chosen topic. 

Have Regular One-on-One Time
In our house every Tuesday night is date night with mommy.  The kids take turns staying up past bedtime to hang out with me.  This is a great time to tackle some hands on projects or do some more in depth research about something they're interested in.  Obviously I don't want to make date night to "schooly" so I try to keep it light and fun and to always follow their lead. 

For example, my son is very interested in dinosaurs right now so at our next date night we are going to watch a Walking with the Dinosaurs on Netflix (complete with special snacks) and then we might do a hands on fossil activity that I found on Pinterest. 

This has worked out really well for us because I am making sure I get quality, one on one time with each of my kids and we get to dive deeper into learning about something that they're really excited about!

When you combine all of these elements together, you can get a pretty well rounded education on whichever topic your child is passionate about.  Plus, you are exposing your other kids to something new AND you're getting quality time with your kids.  It's a win-win-win!

How do you ensure that you're teaching to your individual children's interests in a large family?

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Valentine's Day Writing Prompt {Free Printable}

Valentine's Day Writing Prompt

We've been writing little love letters to all of our favourite Valentines.  It's been great printing and spelling practice for B and she has enjoyed writing letters to mail to her friends.  I've asked W and A dictate what they want to say and I write it down for them.  I have to say, the things that they love about people are downright adorable!  This is why I love Valentine's Day!

They're also including drawing of their loved ones.  Because who doesn't love a hand drawn portrait?

If you would like to write some little love letters with your children, please help yourself to this free Valentine's Day printable by clicking the image below.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Rhythm for Mama: Keeping Sane While Reaching Your Goals

Last week at about this time, I was sitting on my couch crying over a mistake I had made, surrounded by unfolded laundry and kids that were long overdue for a bath.  And while I am totally embarrassed to be telling you all of this, I think it's important that you know.  I don't have it all together.  I don't always reach my goals and I'm not always sane.  

Sometimes I feel this pressure as a blogger to present myself as a homeschool superstar so people will take me seriously.  But I'm not.  And I don't want to be anything but real here.  

So while I'm going to talk about my methods for keeping sane while reaching my goals, keep in mind that they don't always work. And that sometimes I have trouble applying them.  And sometimes I just don't want to do anything but eat chocolate and watch an entire season of Downton Abbey in one sitting.  

Now that that's out of the way...

We all know that I'm a big fan of having a rhythm to your day.  It`s kind of like muscle memory.. when your days follow a predictable pattern you don`t have to think about when you`ll have time to get things done.  You`ll just do them.  When I`ve got a good rhythm happening, I find it so much easier to achieve my goals.

So just like I like to keep a good routine going in our homeschool days, I like to do the same for myself.  There are three main things that I try to focus on in order to keep things running smoothly: household tasks,work and self-care.

Household Tasks

Household tasks are the things I need to do to keep our household running smoothly; things like cleaning, running errands, yard work or cooking.  These are also my least favourite things to do.  

 I set aside about 20 minutes each day to get these tasks finished.  Each day of the week has its own task: Monday- bedrooms and hallways, Tuesday- bathrooms, Wednesday- kitchen and dining room, Thursday- living room and entryway, Friday- errands and weekly food prep, Saturday- yardwork and van, Sunday- rest. I do this early on in the day so its done and over with.  I use this to keep track of when I need to do what. 


Work, for this stay at home mama, includes lesson planning and school preparation, and bog stuff.  This happens for a couple of hours in the evenings, after the kids are in bed.  I take the weekends off to spend some quality time with my husband.

Self- Care

I think this is the most important of the three categories.  It's also the one that is most often neglected.  But it's important to remember that we can't care well for others if we haven't taken care of ourselves.  Self- care includes things like time for your own hobbies, time spent with friends, date nights with your spouse, etc.  

It may seem silly to have to be intentional about including these things in your day but if you're anything like me, they often get missed if you aren't paying attention.  

For me this means that Friday night is date night at home for Ryan and I.  It means that nap time is also time for me to read or knit while the kids play quietly.  It means that on Sunday evenings, the kids hang with daddy while I take a nice, long bath. 

Now that these things are a regular part of my day, I do them without thinking about it.  Which means I don't have to stress about it.  And so, for the mostpart, I'm able to reach my goals without losing my cool.  

Unless the new season of Call the Midwife is out...

For more sanity saving tips, click the image below and check out how other bloggers meet their goals.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Valentine's Day Craft: Yarn Heart Ornaments

We are right in the thick of our Valentine's Day crafting.  Today we are making yarn heart ornaments. 

These little ornaments are super easy (and cheap) to make and when you're done, you've got a great addition to your Valentine's Day decor !  They can be a little messy but they're a great sensory activity. 

What You Need
Yarn cut into varying lengths (this is a great time to use up yarn scraps)
White Glue
Wax paper
A permanent marker

Mix up two parts glue to one part water in a bowl

Put out a large piece of wax paper with hearts drawn on it with permanent marker. You want the hearts to be large enough that the kids have room to work.  I aimed for the size of my hand or a little larger. 

 Have the children put their yarn into the bowl and mix it all up until all of the pieces are coated in the glue.

Now they can pull the pieces of yarn out one at a time, take off the excess glue and arrange them inside the heart on the wax paper. 

Once they've finished arranging their yarn, set everything aside to dry.

When the glue has completely dried, carefully peel the wax paper off.

String the hearts onto a long piece of yarn.

Hang up your creations and enjoy!

Where I share: Good Tips TuesdayLove to Learn
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