Beanie Baby Biology Class

Beany Baby Science

Here’s a fun way to learn about animals in all kinds of ways.

We’ve started a collection of animal beanie babies for the younger kids and it’s turned into such a fun and educational collection.

We get them at thrift stores for about .50 each on average. They make just about every species you can think of.

We have a robin, moose, fox, beetle, rhino, loon, starfish, zebra, aardvark, dragonfly, squirrel, goldfish, seal, lobster, elephant, butterfly, gecko, snake, blue jay, flamingo, giraffe, poodle, ladybug, fox, wolf, black bear, raccoon, koala , octopus and lots more.

We keep them in a large basket in the living room and just about every day we find a new way to make an educational game out of them.

For instance, I’ve asked the little ones if they can sort by whether they live on land or water, the ones who lay eggs from the ones who give birth, by birds and bugs and mammals and so on.

Or sort by how many legs they have, whether they have scales or fur or feathers, whether they hibernate, whether they’re carnivores or omnivores or herbivores, or whether they can be found in our part of the world……

There are so many ways to use them.  I’m thinking we could even work language arts and such in (sort by syllables in their names or whether they start with vowels) and social studies (sort by continents).  You get the idea!

Fiona (four) loves to line them up and make up her own games with them too. And since they are pretty small, they don’t take up much room.

They also work for bean bag games and are fun to toss back into the basket to clean up.  🙂

All five of the kids now look at every thrift store we visit to see if there are any new ones to add to our collection.  Even I have fun looking for fun new species to add!


Felt Foods!

While we were in Nebraska a few weeks ago, Toria happened upon a stash of felt that Tiffany wasn’t using.  With Tiffany’s blessing, she used some to make a little felt waffle for Fiona, dents and all.  And then a little felt strawberry, and then a felt orange wedge, and then a felt strawberry (complete with little embroidered seeds!) and then felt salad ingredients and felt pizza ingredients and on and on.

felt3Fiona ended up with an entire set of darling felt food, and Toria made a set for Tiffany’s two year-old daughter, Millie, too.

She made so much that we had to run out and buy her more felt.

It was a darling project and both girls loved their new play foods.

feltfelt4(No, she doesn’t need glasses, she just likes to swipe my reading glasses!)

I’ll have her share some tips when she’s back from Oregon, and I’ll post better pictures then.  Fun stuff!


Another Nebraska Getaway


We were lucky enough to get to spend another week at the fabulous Baker house in Nebraska last week, and it was a wonderful break.

The original plan was for me to go down with just Fiona and Anna since Daryl and the boys have pageant practice, but Alex missed me so badly that Daryl brought him and Jack down to join us a couple of days later.

Tiffany is doing day care out of her home now, and it was fun getting to help out.  Most of her day care kids are around toddler and preschool age, so they were great fun for Fiona to play with.

There was lots of painting, lots of messes and lots of chaos (though still less than there generally is in my house with just my kids!).  🙂

The big kids even joined in the day care fun on some days!


The theme for the week was dinos, and we did all sorts of dino-related fun such as……

  • Drawing the length of an apatosaurus on the sidewalk and marking its stride, and then seeing how long the kids’ stride was in comparison.
  • Having dino snacks (carrot sticks carved like dino teeth, hard boiled eggs, etc.).
  • Reading dino books.
  • Singing a dino song each day about herbivores, carnivores and omnivores (we considered it a great success when Kennedy was overheard singing “carni, carni, carnivore….” on Friday).
  • Cutting out life-sized T-rex feet and putting them on the dining room wall at the proper spacing for how far apart their footsteps were (it took up the whole wall!).
  • And so on!

I’ll try to post some examples after I download the pics from my camera.

I’m inspired to do some themes around here each week now, even for the bigger kids.  Some of the ideas I have are seeds, space, fire, continents, oceans, mammals, fish, birds, invertebrates, amphibians, weather, the periodic table, colors and senses.  I am thinking of having a different general theme each week, and maybe doing lots of science themes too — magnets, electricity, evolution, etc.

As always, Tiffany’s house has inspired me to try even harder to get organized too.  Hope springs eternal.  😉

7 Links

Here’s a bit of what I’ve been reading and writing lately:


(image from this heirloom Asian seed company)


(Victoria and Anna both loved the Questionaut game)

(Now without the wonky link!)

There’s lots more, but that would be overkill.  😉

What are you reading and writing lately?  Weigh in!

10 Fun Ways We've Learned and Played Lately

Here’s a bit of what we’ve been up to the past couple of days…

1.  We’re reading the Felicity books to go along with our unit study on the Revolutionary War.

2.  Victoria and I researched opossums for her opossum lapbook.  Did you know they’re North America’s only marsupial and they help homeowners?

Opossums help maintain a clean and healthy environment. They eat all types of insects including cockroaches, crickets, beetles, etc. They catch and eat rats and mice. They consume dead animals of all types. They like overripe fruit, berries and grapes that have fallen to the ground and they think that snails and slugs are a delicacy. They are one of the few animals that regularly prey on shrews and moles. They are known as “Nature’s Little Sanitation Engineers!

They also move on from each site after a couple of days, so they clean up the place and then go on to the next neighborhood!

3.  We’re all making Alex a lapbook about colors.  He loves to name colors and we found out today that he adores lapbooks (especially flaps and things) so we’re helping him make his very first lapbook.

4.  Daryl has been teaching Anna more guitar chords and has been giving Jack some easy lessons.

5.  The girls did practice standardized math tests and we talked about new concepts on them like right angles and obtuse angles for Anna.

6.  Victoria and I played “Scrambled States of America.”

7.  Jack, Anna and Victoria played “Are Your Smarter Than a 5th Grader?”  That game is excellent at sneaky homeschooling, by the way!

8.  Anna, Victoria and I played “Apples to Apples.”  That game is not so good at sneaky homeschooling but is very good for silly fun.  Quick, convince me which one of these goes best with “lucky” — swamps, Superman or science tests?

9.  Jack has been researching insects and making a lapbook about those.

10. Anna is reading a book about famous magicians and doing a lapbook about those.  Yes, can you tell I posted a lapbooking article today and got out our old ones for pictures?  🙂  You can read it and see a slide show of some of our favorites here.

And now, I have to check on our breadsticks and break up a fight…  I mean, teach some mediation skills.  😉

10 Good Things

I’m so behind in housework and homeschooling and laundry and writing (and getting out of pajamas, if we’re going to be perfectly honest!) but had to share a few good things with y’all…

1.  Thirteen “extinct” animal species that were found alive (in pictures).  Check out the little marsupial who was thought to be extinct for 11 million years and the giant lizard thought extinct for 500 million years!

2.  These pumpkin spice cupcakes with cream cheese frosting are to die for.  (Recipe note: I just used 2 cups of pumpkin puree because I freeze it in one cup portions and I use half a brick of cream cheese, which may be 4 oz. instead of 3.)

Also to die for, getting to have one with a birthday candle you can blow out again and again.  Talk about an easy way to make a kid’s day.  🙂

(Note:  This is a crafting shirt.  The kid does have better clothes!)

3.  Here’s a great list of all different ways to search for books on various subjects.  What a great resource if you’re looking for children’s books on obscure themes or have kids who are very interested in certain themes.

4.  I’m going to blog a full post about how to do the cabbage juice pH experiments but in the meantime here’s a super easy and fun way to occupy kids from toddlers on up.  Cover some chopped purple cabbage in boiling water, put a lid on it and steep it for 10 minutes.  Strain the cabbage and use the juice to fill compartments in a light colored ice cube tray or other dish.  Put out a small dish of baking powder or baking soda, and another small dish of an acid like vinegar or lemon juice.  Put an eye dropper in the acid and a baby spoon in the base and give the child another little spoon to stir with.  Show him how to put a scoop or squirt in a compartment and watch the color magically change.  Put the opposite in and it changes back!  Plus you often get fizzes too, depending on what base you use and how much acid.  Make sure your tot doesn’t drink it (though these are non-toxic).  Total fun!  I told the kids Cinderella must have had a pH testing dress the way it changed from pink to blue.  🙂

5.  History for Kids seems to be a very helpful site.  We’re studying explorers right now so I’ve been looking through that section.  The information is short but helpful, though I’m not a fan of reading off the computer so I’m still figuring out how to use it best.  There are apparently games and such too.  I’ve just started to scratch the surface of it but it looks promising.

6.  Chore sticks are working so well for us right now!  Yesterday, Annalee did 16 chores — 13 more than she had to!  Granted, some of the “chores” she pulled were treats like “get a quarter” and “take a walk with Mom” and “get a candy.”  But she also read an educational book for 20 minutes, cleaned the microwave, vacuumed the living room and lots more.  As soon as she woke up, she asked if she could pull 3 chore sticks.  She got dustbust the stairs, color with Mom and tidy the yard, and announced “I love chore sticks!”.  Victoria and Jack have been happily doing them too.

7.  Here’s quick and easy links and lesson plans for Veterans Day.

8.  Chem4Kids looks like another fabulous site we’ll have to explore.  They have sister sites on geography, math and more, too.

9. The Washington Post has a good article about the history of H1N1 and how viruses spread and mutate, what those letters mean, and more.  This is a very interesting article and it’s explained simply.  It’s a science lesson and a history lesson in one.

10. That duck in the zoo picture was a goose, I’ve been told.  I’ve been told the exact type of goose, but I’ve already forgotten.  See why Daddy’s in charge of bird ID?  Speaking of which, while we were at the zoo Victoria pointed out a rare something or other bird, which I had never heard of.  I love when my kids teach me things, and I love how often it happens!  🙂