Thanksgiving STEM Challenges
Fall, Free Printables, Freebies!, Homeschool

10 Thanksgiving STEM Challenges

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Feeling a little burnt out from homeschooling with the days leading up to Thanksgiving? Don’t want the kids sitting in front of the television for hours while they are home from school? Don’t worry, this the perfect time to change up the norm and give your kids a few Thanksgiving STEM Challenges.

Why STEM Challenges?

STEM Challenges (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) are an excellent way to integrate various learning skills and styles into one activity. They also work well when you are working with multiple ages/grades simultaneously or when you want to get your kiddos from in front of electronics.

Thanksgiving STEM Challenges

Introducing STEM

When I was growing up, we made it our best effort to stay out of sight on the days leading up to Thanksgiving and especially on Thanksgiving Day as our mother was hustling and bustling about preparing for dinner that evening. We resorted to watching the classic Thanksgiving Cartoons and the Thanksgiving Day Parade.

At this point, most kids are familiar with the term, STEM. The question is, “how do you get your kids to willingly do a STEM challenge when they are off from school?” My best technique for getting my kids to do work (I mean have fun) over the holidays is creating a STEM Exploration BasketsThe basket consists of various items that can be used to build and create such as popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners, balloons, toothpicks, and more. I also include the directions to each activity that explains a variety of challenges for the kids to complete. Task Cards are great for providing both guidance to complete a task and independence for kids to explore. Check out items for your Exploration Baskets and grab three Task Cards below!

FALL STEM

Finding STEM Challenges

Finding STEM challenges is super easy. The internet is filled with STEM challenges for all reasons and seasons. Take a look at these 10 Thanksgiving themed STEM Challenges to get your kids exploring!

Candy Corn Catapults–  Great way to use up the candy corn and get their minds moving. 

Hand Turkey Geometry – Sneak in a little math over the holidays with this classic hand trace activity

Butter in a Jar What a great way for the kids to help get things ready for Thanksgiving and learn a little science.

Taste-Safe Cranberry Slime Find out what happens when you mix the fun of slime and yummy cranberry sauce in this slime-tastic stem activity.

Turkey Balloon Rockets The stem challenge is a great activity for all your kiddos regardless of age.

Easy Fall Sink or Float Your littlest scientist will enjoy making hypothesis and experimenting to see which of their items sink or float.

Turkey Egg Drop– a fun twist to the classic egg drop is a great way to keep the kids busy while dinner is cooking.

Turkey Lego Build Lego’s are a great way to keep the kids thinking and engaged for hours. Toss in a turkey and you will have them building for ever!

Candy Pumpkin Buildings Explore engineering strategies using these tasty treats and see how strong your structure is.

Thanksgiving Dinner Table Who knew paper could be so strong? Test your building skills to see if your dinner table is ready for your feast!

 

I hope you enjoy these STEM Challenges. Thanksgiving is such a wonderful day to come together and reflect on the past and look to the future!

CHIME IN: Do you have any other STEM Challenges or ideas to keep the kids engaged?

Click the link to grab some items for a STEM Exploration Baskets

>>Download STEM Exploration Basket Task Cards Here<<

 

Looking for a way to introduce your kids to Random Acts of Kindness?

Family, Free Printables, Freebies!, Homeschool

Listen So Your Kids Will Talk: Back to School Conversation Starters

Over the past few weeks, I have spent countless hours preparing for the upcoming year. I created a home school planner to keep me organized, research and purchased our curriculum, battled the stores to find school supplies, created a file folder system, and even managed to be a Beta Tester for this amazing course called, Organize Your Life with Trello (which truly changed the way I look at organization). Raise your hand if you can relate. It doesn’t matter if your child is in traditional school or home school, it is easy to forget the importance of Back to School Conversations.

What is the point of designating time for Back to School Conversations?

Back to School Conversations are an excellent way to get a handle on the direction and goals for the upcoming school year. It sets up a dialogue between parents and children and creates an avenue for families to create tangible plans and task before the school year even begins. These conversations aren’t just for older kids, even your preschooler has thoughts about their school experience.

You may be saying to yourself, “…but we homeschool. I know my child’s plans because I created them.” The fact is, Back to School Conversations gives your child voice in the planning. It gives them the floor to express their likes and dislikes and lets you witness them maturing before your eyes.

If your child is in a traditional school setting (like my older children) or if you are homeschooling your child (like the rest of my squad), taking time to have an intentional conversation about school should be at the top of your to-do list before the year officially begins.

So, how do you get started? Check out these Tips for a great conversation.

Pray

Before you embark on connecting with your child, parents should take time to pray for guidance. Raising children is something that I don’t take lightly. I see it as a huge God-given privilege and feel the only way to be successful is to seek Him for wisdom and guidance. I want our conversation to run smoothly and have God at the center is the key. The best way for me to accomplish that, is seeking Him first.

Make an Announcement

I am notorious for having impromptu, super deep conversations with my children after dinner, while driving home, shopping in the grocery store, or just hanging out in the living room. Some of our fondest memories are from these moments.

Over the years, I found Back to School Conversations worked best, when I informed my kids of the meeting and told them the purpose upfront. Making an Announcement gives kids a chance to also prepare for the meeting and think of any questions or concerns they want to bring to the table.

Make it Special

Back to School Conversations are a great time for a heart to heart with each child. This intentional conversation is one that should be well thought out and made special. In fact, it can be turned into a yearly event the kids look forward to. Select a place that will lend to minimum interruptions. Depending on your family dynamics, a one-on-one over ice cream in the yard might be perfect. Perhaps, dinner at your child’s favorite restaurant or a picnic in the park will work best. Whatever the location, the most important thing to remember is having a candid and open conversation with your child.

Open the Lines of Conversation

When you ask your child for their opinions or feelings, are you genuinely seeking their input? Back to School Conversations are meant to be a time where your child has your undivided attention and your unbiased listening ears. Although the conversation is designed for you to get them excited and ready for a new year, it is also a time where you can really connect with your child and develop a stronger relationship. Our family likes to begin by seeking God and asking Him to guide the conversation and end by asking Him to cover us throughout the year.

Back to School Conversations gives children a designated time to spend with you before the hustle and bustle of school begins. It allows you to praise their strong points and assess their weaknesses. Don’t be surprised when your kids open-up and tell you what is really on their heart. They have been waiting for this moment!


Listen So Your Kids Will Talk is designed to give families a tool to implement upfront and honest dialogue about the upcoming school year. Filled with journal pages, 15 suggested open-ended questions, 25 questions to ask your child at the end of each school day, and a few Bonus Lunch Notes, Listen So Your Kids Will Talk is a perfect book to get you ready for Back to School!

Download Your Copy Today!

 

 Now that you’ve gotten some great tips and resources about Back to School Conversations, head over to

Michelle at With the Huddlestons

and read about Ideas for Homeschooling Multiples, and be sure to snag her freebie – Activity Printable Bundle

 

 

 

Free Printables, Freebies!, Homeschool, Organization

FREE Home School Planner!

Can you believe summer is almost over?

Home school Planning for the upcoming school year is in full force in our home and my kids are already bummed that it is August. For the record, I am not a naturally organized person. However, disorganization causes me great stress and anxiety. Go figure! You would think being a mother of eight children would give me some sort of organization super power.

Organizing materials for the upcoming school year is by far one of my greatest challenges. I spend countless hours preparing and planning, all to make sure things run as smoothly as possible. Organizing our school for this Chaos Coordinator and naturally unorganized mom is accomplished using my Sanity Savers for Home school Planning.

 

Take Time to Investigate

Being responsible for the education of my children is not something I take lightly. Most home school parents are often questioned about their ability to teach their own children. I even had well-meaning family members attempt to quiz my children on the spot, just to see what they knew. Being the child of an educator and having worked in the education field for almost 20 years, I am adamant about making sure my children are getting a well-rounded education. As you plan your year Take Time to Investigate. There are so many options available! Read the scope and sequence, take a sample lesson, speak with other parents and read published reviews. Don’t be afraid to select material from different publishers and authors. This year we have incorporated material from long-standing Christian publishers all the way to easy to incorporate resources from Evan-Moore like the Teacher File Box.


Get the Kids Involved

Homeschooling multiple children on different grade levels and abilities can become quite tricky. Each one of my children, including my twins, have a very different learning style and extremely different interest. When planning for the year, I always take time to check in and ask my kids what they are interested in exploring and learning during the school year. Giving your kids a voice in their school year empowers them and gives them a sense of ownership of what they are learning. Getting the kids involved doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking. Even more, simple conversations over breakfast, during a drive in the car, or before bed is all it takes to pick their brains and give you insight into their world.

 

Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute

As the QUEEN OF PROCRASTINATION, this Sanity Saver was something that I had to learn the hard way. At the start of last school year, my 1-year-old son was hospitalized because of his Chronic Medical Condition. This unexpected event significantly impacted our home school because I was drastically unprepared. Before school began, I only planned for the first few weeks of school. I figured I would have enough time to get lesson plans done, material ordered, and copies made. During our hospital stay and the subsequent weeks after coming back home, my children were barely getting any school work done because I did not have time to even think about lesson planning. One major Sanity Saver for Home School Planning is to Start Early! Use your down time to begin researching curricula and checking in with your children to see what is and is not working.

 

Use FREE/Low Cost Planning resources

As a large family momma, I have come to appreciate the beauty of FREE! I am all about finding a good resource or item at a low cost or free. When preparing for the year, it took me awhile to find planning tools that fit my many needs and style. As a blended family dealing with some High Power Blending, our children’s schedule varies because of visitation schedules. We have found that a four-day school week is the best option for us.  The fifth day serves as a catch all to complete anything that was not completed, possibly because of the visitation schedule.

Incorporating Circuit Learning into our home school has opened the door to our children exploring interest not covered in their core courses. Courses such as puppetry, coding, sewing, woodworking, animation and more are added to their weekly list. Circuit Learning essentially allows my children to select three areas of interest to explore for a pre-determined time.  Once selected, they rotate through each interest area during the week after all core work has been completed.

This year, I decided to utilize the File Folder System to organize our materials. I purchased a simple binder, dividers, hanging file folders, and manila folders.

Check out a short video on how I use the File Folder System!

 

I have created The Chaos Coordinator’s Homeschool Planner. This amazing FREE printable home school planner provides you with simple planning pages to get you ready for the year.

 

 

The last thing I did to organize and plan for the upcoming year was participate in a course that seriously changed the way I look at organization.  Organize Your Life with Trello totally helped me create a system that got rid of all my little sticky notes and journals, ditched my paper clutter, and left me with my task list at the tips of my fingers. Click the picture to check out the mini class! You will LOVE it!

 

No matter if you are new to homeschooling or not, planning is important to a successful year. So Chime In:

 What are you doing to plan for the upcoming school year?

Free Printables, Homeschool

FREE Printable Africa Counting Mats

20 printable Africa counting mats for preschoolers!

As we launch our Proud to be Me! curriculum, I couldn’t wait to get these amazing counting mats into the hands of your little ones.

 

How We Use Africa Counting Mats

The printable comes with numbers 1-20. In our home, we started by focusing on numbers 1-5. My little guy used everything from cars to cereal as counters for this activity! Each mat, not only focuses on number and number word recognition, but lets them see the beautiful continent of Africa!  The counting mats serve so many purposes because it allows my little one to color and also identify the letters in each number word. I found that introducing each number and the number word together works really well for my four year old.

 

How will you use the Africa Counting Mats?

I would love to hear from you. Come back and let us know how your little one enjoyed the Africa Counting Mats.

 

 


Faith, Family, Free Printables, Freebies!, Self Care

New Year! New Vision!

New Year! New Vision!

It’s the first day of a new year! Are you looking for a new vision for your life?

Have you made a resolution?

Decided that this year is the year?

I remember the new year’s eve after my 40th birthday. I resolved to finally make this the year that I lost weight. I was 6 months pregnant with my last child and I knew that he would be my last. I made a plan to begin a new way of eating, exercising, and cooking, all in an effort to lose 40 pounds by my 41st birthday. I had plans for our home, our school, and our business.

Well folks! Here I am. One year later and I have not lost anything. I am only 10 pounds lighter than I was after delivering my son. I started an intense exercise routine after being cleared for my 6 week post delivery check up. I made shakes, join the YMCA, and still here I sit. I even ended up in the hospital with my pressure so high, I almost had a stroke. Check out what I realized after that here!

Oh and those plans for our home and school, let’s just say we are still in the trenches and they have been rewritten multiple times.

No! This isn’t a post about how I have now joined a program, started a new diet, or have some exciting new opportunity! In fact, this is the opposite.

What is my New Vision?

This post is about when I realized WHY I have not accomplished what I planned. After much reflection, self doubt, tears and  prayer, I realized that all of the plans and goals I had for myself were pointless.

I realized that no matter how hard “I” tried, I would continually miss the mark. This past year, I realized that I created tons of goals for my life, but never checked in with the One who made me. I never asked God to tell me what He had for my life. My purpose and God’s purpose were not lining up because

“I never sought after Him and asked Him to reveal to me anything. “

So what do I do now? This year, I took the time to dedicate uninterrupted time to seek an answer from God. I asked Him to show me my purpose. You won’t believe how clear everything seemed. I mean it was almost instant! I became so clear on what God wanted for my life. I was reminded of the verse,

“…write the vision, make it plain…”  (Hab 2:2)

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How to Find Your New Vision

I am looking forward to what God is about to do in my life and the life of my family. I am beyond grateful to have a husband who fully supports me and also seeks God for guidance in his life. I am equally thankful for children who realize that seeking God for their purpose is a necessity. We even sat down and had them complete their “Write the Vision” vision boards for the year. (Make one with your kids using the (Write the Vision  e-book)

Now I ask you: Have you given thought to what is ahead for you and your family? Have you taken the time to seek God first?

Don’t start this year off without first checking in and asking for guidance!

Come back here often to see how things are going and find out what we are up to.

Happy New Year!

Sincerely,

Christel -Chaos Coordinator

Christmas, Faith, Free Printables, Homeschool

12 STEM Days Before Christmas

12 STEM Days Before Christmas

Let me be honest folks! I always struggle trying to keep the kids doing school work during Christmas time. I often find myself running here and there, preparing for Christmas Day!

So, this year, I have compromised a printable to keep me (ahem) I mean the kids focused. Each day, the kiddos will only have a few assignments to complete, including that day’s STEM Challenge on this great FREEBIE. 

*Science * Technology* Engineering* Mathematics*

Looking for a complete list of activities that are sure to keep their brains working during this holiday season? Check out this compiled list of activities on this FREEBIE! (#afflinks)

Copy of Perfectly Blended and Blessed

Download ***12 Stem Days of Christmas ***

Christmas, Faith, Free Printables, Homeschool

25 Days of Christmas (Freebie!!)

Advent Calendars are a great way to help your children learn about the birth of Jesus and prepare for Christmas!

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Check out our newest resource, 25 Days of Christmas Scripture Cards. They are the newest addition to our home. Each card is tucked inside our Advent calendar with a special surprise. Children read the scripture card which tells the beautiful story of Jesus’ birth.

On Christmas morning, children will have learned the entire story and wake up excited to celebrate Jesus’s Birthday!

Grab Your Freebie Below!

 

Download —-25 Days of Christmas Scripture Cards—–

 

Check Out A Video Of this Freebie in Action!