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German Straw Star Ornaments

German Straw Star Ornaments

Every year, we make ornaments for teachers, friends, and family. Last year, my children made traditional German Star Ornaments, called Strohsterne. I first spotted these stars at a neighbor’s during trick or treating and I found out that you can order a straw star kit with straw, a 6-strand straw splitter, a placement ring, and instructions.   We bought Kit 1 (I have received no product or other compensation for this post) and made some beautiful stars. However, … Read entire article »

Filed under: 6-8 (Early Elementary), 6-8 (Early Elementary), 9-11 (Elementary), 9-11 (Elementary), Featured, History and Culture, Logical-Mathematical, Mathematics, Visual-Spacial

Witches’ Hats Cookies

Witches’ Hats Cookies

I saw these adorable witch hat cookies on Pinterest but the link just led back to a photograph. As far as I can tell, the photo I saw originated from Explore. Dream. Discover. but I couldn’t track down any specific instructional post. We made these to go along with our chocolate pretzel bats for my daughter’s Halloween play date. I let the kids make them so they aren’t perfectly even but I still think they turned … Read entire article »

Filed under: 3-5 (Preschool), 5-6 (Kindergarten), 6-8 (Early Elementary), 9-11 (Elementary), Featured, History and Culture, Home Arts

13 Tips for Photographing Nature #NGKInsider

13 Tips for Photographing Nature #NGKInsider

My eldest has a growing interest in photography, especially nature photography. As a National Geographic Kids Insider, I had a chance to listen in on a chat with photographer Kelley Miller talk about how to photograph animals. We also found out how we can be part of setting a Guinness World Record! First, here are some tips for photographing nature from Ms. Miller, illustrated with her photographs and a few of mine: 1. Be patient. 2. Practice … Read entire article »

Filed under: Art, Featured, Science, Sight

Literacy and Technology with LeVar Burton and @NGKids #NGKInsider

Literacy and Technology with LeVar Burton and @NGKids #NGKInsider

National Geographic Kids got me and some of my fellow “National Geographic Kids Insiders” on the phone with LeVar Burton (of Reading Rainbow, Star Trek, and many other initiatives and projects) to talk about literacy and technology. Before heading over to our chat, LeVar Burton was taking pictures of the National Geographic Beehive for the Great Nature Project–can’t wait to see his photos! When he arrived, he was charmingly enthusiastic to have bumped into Oceanographer and … Read entire article »

Filed under: Literacy, Technology

How to Make a Daisy Chain Flower Crown (Plus, Video Tutorial)

How to Make a Daisy Chain Flower Crown (Plus, Video Tutorial)

In mid-August, the black-eyed Susan and purple cone flowers reach their peak around here. It is a perfect time to take a nature walk and look at all the wildflowers. While we are walking through the flower fields, we like to make daisy chain flower crowns. All you do is: 1. Gather flowers. 2. Pierce the stem of the first flower with your nail so that you can fit a flower through the hole. 3. Pierce the stem of the … Read entire article »

Filed under: 6-8 (Early Elementary), 6-8 (Early Elementary), 9-11 (Elementary), 9-11 (Elementary), Featured, Home Arts, Spring, Summer

Picture Books About Sharks for #SharkWeek

Picture Books About Sharks for #SharkWeek

In honor of the end of Shark Week, here are our favorite children’s picture books about sharks. Most of our picks are non-fiction. When choosing fiction picture books for themed exploration, I try to choose ones that weave facts into the narrative. While there is no shortage of cute picture books with shark protagonists, the sharks tend to take the role of “scary-looking but really sweet inside.” While sharks are not the indiscriminate man-killers often … Read entire article »

Filed under: 3-5 (Preschool), 5-6 (Kindergartners), 6-8 (Early Elementary), Featured, Science

Straw Pan Pipe Craft for Kids

Straw Pan Pipe Craft for Kids

My daughter came home very excited that she had made a pan pipe out of drinking straws at camp. However, she had left the homemade craft instrument there and wanted to make another one. I helped her figure out a way of making one at home. Ours was a little different and she really liked it. Materials: plastic drinking straws tape (clear or decorative Washi tape) scissors yarn or thread (optional)   Directions: 1. Cut the drinking straws in increasingly smaller sizes.   2. Tape … Read entire article »

Filed under: 6-8 (Early Elementary), 6-8 (Early Elementary), 9-11 (Elementary), 9-11 (Elementary), Featured, History and Culture, Music, Performing Arts and Theater, Science

Perfect Illustration of the Issues with Common Core Elementary Mathematics

Perfect Illustration of the Issues with Common Core Elementary Mathematics

In the past, I’ve written about the Common Core from the perspective of its inevitable arrival and how we can help prepare our kids. I’ve also written about some of my objections to the Common Core elementary mathematics standards. I couldn’t resist sharing this video, which should be required viewing. Please watch this clever little girl trying to show her mom how to solve a mathematics problem the way she is taught in class. Based … Read entire article »

Filed under: Common Core, Mathematics

The Magic of Healthy Living #DisneySMMoms

The Magic of Healthy Living #DisneySMMoms

Trying to Eat Healthy We try to eat healthy around here. Unlike some people I admire very much, however, it isn’t my main passion or cause. We buy some foods organic, others not. We buy local when we can, but we aren’t a member of our local CSA share (despite knowing a woman who runs an organic farm that serves as a the local distribution center) and we do not grow our own produce. There are … Read entire article »

Filed under: Bodily-kinesthetic, Health, Health, Home Arts

Sharpie Fireworks T-Shirt

Sharpie Fireworks T-Shirt

My friend, Athena, hosted an awesome craft group this afternoon. The girls made fireworks t-shirts and I know my son is going to want to make one, too. Materials: t-shirt Sharpie (permanent) markers rubbing alcohol medicine dropper cardboard Directions: 1. Place cardboard in between the layers of the t-shirt. Make dots with your sharpie marker in a circle shape. 2. Use the dropper to drop rubbing alcohol into the center of the design. The marker will spread. 3. Experiment with concentric circles of dots, dashes, … Read entire article »

Filed under: 5-6 (Kindergarten), 5-6 (Kindergarten), 6-8 (Early Elementary), 6-8 (Early Elementary), 9-11 (Elementary), 9-11 (Elementary), Art, Featured, History and Culture, Home Arts, Science, Summer, Visual-Spacial