Monday Pep Talk No. 18

home|school|life magazine's Monday Pep Talk has lots of fun ideas for planning your homeschool week.

Happy Thanksgiving! This is one of my favorite weeks of the year—how can you go wrong with food and friends and pausing to appreciate all the really good stuff in your life? But it’s still Monday, so we’ve got a few ideas to kick your week up a notch.

3 fun things to do this week

Make your own Thanksgiving Day parade: Buy a bunch of helium balloons and decorate them during Thanksgiving cooking breaks. (There are some really cool balloon decorating ideas here.) You could even make balloon tributes to each of your Thanksgiving diners, and tie the decorated balloons to their chairs instead of using traditional place cards.

Put your Thanksgiving leftovers to work in the lab with one of these Thanksgiving science experiments. (I think we’re definitely going to do the butter versus whipped cream experiment.)

Monday is Fibonacci Day. Learn more about this ubiquitous number sequence by watching National Geographic’s video and studying the information on the Math Is Fun Fibonacci page, then get hands-on with some of the activities in Fibonacci Fun: Fascinating Activities With Intriguing Numbers.


3 ideas for this week’s dinners

When you realize that all your cooking efforts for Thanksgiving have not alleviated your family’s need to eat dinner on Wednesday night (or basically on any night when you can’t believe that people just keep wanting to be fed all the meals), this Welsh rarebit grilled cheese will save you.

When you get burned out on turkey sandwiches and potato croquettes, whip up a batch of leftovers nachos with your Thanksgiving extras.

Have an easy soup for dinner: Italian bread and tomato soup (better known as ribollita) is a one-pot meal that’s ideal for pre- or post-feast meals.


one great readaloud

I was going to recommend Animals Charles Darwin Saw, a really lovely science picture book, to commemorate the anniversary of the day Darwin published his theory of evolution (Nov. 24, 1859), but Audible has the Harry Potter series now, and I can’t think of a better soundtrack to Thanksgiving prep work, can you?


one thought to ponder


in case of emergency {because sometimes you need something stronger than inspiration}

glissade chocolate pudding

How to Make a Simple Thanksgiving Wreath

How to make a simple Thanksgiving wreath with materials you find on your next nature walk

A few years ago, my eldest son and I made what we call a Thanksgiving wreath. To me, it also celebrates the changing of the seasons because we got all our materials from nature.

All you need to do is wander around outside and pick up whatever you think might look pretty on your wreath. What a great excuse to get the kids out into nature! You can wander around your yard, a park, or multiple places.

As you can see from ours, we used raw cotton that we got at a nearby homestead, acorns, pinecones, leaves, twigs and sweet gum balls. I bet you can find all sorts of other things in your backyard as well.

To make it, I cut out the shape of a wreath in a piece of heavy cardboard for our backing, and then I helped my son glue his decorations wherever he wanted them to go. You’ll need to use a strong glue such as a hot glue gun or tacky glue.

I think even my non-crafty crew could pull off this simple Thanksgiving wreath — love that it incorporates nature walk findings.

If you make a Thanksgiving wreath, please share a link to a photo of it. I’d love to see what you come up with!

Stuff We Like :: 11.20.15

home|school|life's Friday roundup of the best homeschool links, reads, tools, and other fun stuff has lots of ideas and resources.

Cross your fingers for me that by the time you’re reading this I’ll be getting permission to actually stand up—for the first time in 12 weeks! I love my family and my life, but being able to get to the bathroom on my own is totally what I’m thankful for this year.

around the web ::

If you know me, you might think that this history of yarn in video games was written just for me.

Have you ever wondered what to call all those different Lego pieces? You’re not the only one.

There was an actual light saber duel at the Fencing World Championships. 

I love these photos of immigrants arriving at Ellis Island.


at home/school/life ::

in the magazine: It’s the perfect gift for you or your favorite homeschooler: Get a subscription to home/school/life for just $12 through Nov. 30 with the code “thankyou.” Because we’re thankful for you!

on the blog :Lisa redefines her notion of having it all.

on pinterest: I think I’m definitely going to be making a couple of these Totoro plushies this year.


reading list ::

We’ve been listening to The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom (hilarious) and The Mysterious Benedict Society (again) while working on our holiday crafting.

I borrowed a page from Bryn’s book and am working my way through the Flavia de Luce mystery novels. They’re pretty delightful. I am just tucking into book four in the series.

Are you a Laurie Colwin fan? I picked up a copy of Home Cooking for my Kindle (on sale for $1.99 right now —love that!), which I read years ago and loved and now can’t believe I have gone so many years without rereading.


at home ::

Knitting update: Boxy finished. I’m halfway through my Ecken + Kanten, which is, as I suspected a totally fun knit. (I am striping it with color changes every two rows, so it seems like it's going really fast.) Fisherman's pullover cast on, but it’s kind of sitting in its bag right now. I am feeling ambitious and accomplished right now, so I am thinking of making a pair of Vancouver Specials for everyone—that overconfidence could change at any moment since I have both short rows and picking up stitches ahead of me.

Jason and I have been watching Jane the Virgin, which may be my favorite new show. Rogelio is definitely my favorite new character—#rogeliomybrogelio. (If you like sweet and snarky television, it’s worth checking out.)

We are planning an exciting week of board games and movies to celebrate Thanksgiving next week. I’ve been bummed about not cooking this year, but we’ve ordered a pretty impressive feast—and I’m starting to get behind the idea of not having to do all those dishes. I hope you have a terrific Thanksgiving, too!

Monday Pep Talk No. 17

home|school|life magazine's Monday Pep Talk has lots of fun ideas for planning your homeschool week.

Let the holiday rush begin! I don’t know about you, but in our house things kick into high gear just before Thanksgiving and don’t slow down again until January—and a weekly kick-in-the-pants of inspiration is pretty essential.

3 fun things to do this week

What better way to celebrate Homemade Bread Day (Tuesday) than by whipping up a loaf of bread in your kitchen? This no-knead recipe is designed for preschoolers, so it’s virtually impossible to mess up.

Take a virtual field trip to the first Thanksgiving (in 1621) at Plimoth Plantation. (Download the application first, and it will run faster than streaming it.)

Find out how much energy is stored in a single peanut with this simple (but fascinating) peanut power science experiment.


3 ideas for this week’s dinners

Warm everybody up with bowls of this 15-minute Greek chicken soup. It’s the perfect dinner on those grumpy, sniffly nights when everybody needs the food equivalent of a hug.

This easy shrimp-fried rice is an ideal one-pan dinner. (Sub tofu or chicken if your gang is anti-shrimp.)

This crunchy, spicy autumn salad with horseradish vinaigrette is exactly what a cold-weather salad should be.


one great readaloud

To gear up for Thanksgiving cooking next week, read A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat, a delightful picture book describing how four different generations of American families prepare the same blackberry fool. (This book is definitely on my list for best picture books of 2015.)


one thought to ponder

in case of emergency {because sometimes you need something stronger than inspiration

hard cider sangria

Stuff We Like :: 11.6.15

home|school|life's Friday roundup of the best homeschool links, reads, tools, and other fun stuff has lots of ideas and resources.

How is it November already?

around the web

I’m sorry, J.K. Rowling, but I cannot get behind “anti-maj” as the American version of “muggle.” (I will, however, be happily lining up to see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

“People confuse encouraging kids with telling them you can be anything you want to be… People think they’re the same thing and they’re not.” Really thought-provoking read.

I may be a little obsessed with this: Six Degrees of Francis Bacon


at home/school/life

on the blog: I just love this post from Shawne about navigating beyond fear in our homeschool lives.

on pinterest: These puppy puppets may possibly be the most adorable way to recycle toilet paper rolls.

from the archives: Every time I start to feel insecure about my kids’ social lives, I reread Idzie’s post on how unschooling shaped her social life, and I feel a little better.


reading list

As part of my quest to read all the Alex award winners, I just finished Seeing in the Dark: How Backyard Stargazers Are Probing Deep Space and Guarding Earth from Interplanetary Peril by Timothy Ferris, and I’d recommend it to any tween-teen-ish reader who’s interested in citizen science or astronomy. It’s all about amateur astronomers and their contributions, and it really is an engaging read. (I think I have enjoyed every Alex-award winner I’ve read so far.)

We liked Three Times Lucky so much that we’re about to start Ghosts of Tupelo Landing. Fingers crossed that it’s just as good—the reviews seem to be mixed.

I am not saying that James Marsters’ narration is the only reason I decided to listen to Storm Front (the first in the Harry Dresden series), but it is definitely the reason I am sticking with this book through its uneven patches.


at home

I’m almost done with my holiday Boxy (just the sleeves to go!) and about to start work on a striped version of Ecken+Kanten, which seems like it should be such a fun knit.

I’m really bummed about having to order Thanksgiving in this year—I won’t be back to full cooking capacity in time to tackle the turkey. If you could only make one component of your Thanksgiving dinner, which would you pick?

Empire is not a great television show, but oh my gosh, all you Cookie lovers are right. She is awesome.