An Elephant and Piggie Inspired Christmas–and The Pigeon, too

We love Mo Willems books, especially Elephant and Piggie.  They are a super fun series for kids who are learning to read. I think I enjoy them as much as my kids do. Gerald the Elephant and his best friend, Piggie, are simply hilarious. 

Elephant and Piggy

 My daughter and I set out to make some holiday ornaments inspired by the Elephant and Piggie books, but guess who kept showing up? The Pigeon! Ideas for how the Pigeon could be a part of this project just kept popping into my daughter’s head. “How about he pops out of one of the presents?”, she giggled.  Then later, “What if we dressed him up like an angel and put him on top of a tree? Wouldn’t that be hilarious?”  Yes, just like in all the Elephant and Piggie books, the Pigeon always finds a way to be included. He’s spunky like that.  [Read more…]

20+ Winter Science Experiments for Grades K through 5

Get ready for some great hands-on winter science experiments! We love hands-on science around here, and we are determined not to let the cold weather stop us. In fact, we’re going to learn about ice, snow, sledding, hibernation and more all winter long. 

winter science experiments for kids

Science with a Holiday Theme 

Make some awesome holiday decorations and learn about science at the same time with the Ice Jelly Marbles Experiment from Steve Spangler Science.

Erupting Ornaments from Little Bins for Little Hands. 

These star shaped windows clings demonstrate the scientific concepts of diffusion, floatation and evaporation. From The Kitchen Pantry Scientist. 

 Get Outside for Winter Science!

What makes pinecones open? Lemon Lime Adventures figures it out. 

Explore different types of pine trees from Inspiration Laboratories. 

Even without leaves, you can do a winter tree identification study. Here’s how from About Education. 

[Read more…]

Little House on the Prairie Books : My First Little House Series

I adored Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder when I was a child and was thrilled when one of the Creekside Learning Facebook followers told me about the My First Little House series.  This series is wonderful for younger kids, who are not quite ready for the chapter books. And, Little House on the Prairie Christmas is a great theme for literature and activities in December. 

Little House on the Prairie Christmas

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The My First Little House stories are based on the original Little House on the Prairie books.  The timing is a bit different in the First series. For example, most of the books include baby Carrie, Laura’s youngest sister in all the stories. In the original books, Carrie doesn’t appear until later, being much younger than her older sisters, Mary and Laura. But an introductory books to younger kids, that will only be noticed by the adults reading to them. This series is pure joy.

Christmas is a great time to discover these books because there are several Christmas themed books in the series. One of our favorites is Christmas in the Big Woods.  The book describes the very simple way that the Ingalls family celebrated Christmas, with a few simple gifts and some special foods.  

Little House on the Prairie Christmas

Little House Pancakes

Caroline Ingalls makes pancakes shaped like little men for the children to enjoy on Christmas.  This inspired us to make lots of different shaped pancakes. 

Little House on the Prairie Books by Laura Ingalls Wilder

 We took metal cookie cutters and filled them with pancake batter. You’ll want to grease the cookie cutters first with a little butter or some spray oil to prevent the batter from sticking. We flipped the pancakes over to the other side to cook, still inside the cookie cutters. Once both sides were done, the cookie cutters slipped right off and we had pretty shaped pancakes. 

Laura Ingalls Wilder Little House on the Prairie

 

 

Laura Ingalls Wilder 

 Little House Maple Syrup Snow Candy

In Laura’s chapter book, Little House in the Big Woods, the family helps Laura’s grandmother make Maple Sugar Snow Candy. This scene is also recreated in the book Christmas in the Big Woods in the My First Little House series.  For instructions on how to make maple syrup candy, click on the photo below.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Little House on the Prairie

This post is part of Rainy Day Mum’s Story Book Advent.   Click through to find more wonderful pairings of children’s holiday literature with go-along activities. More will be added throughout the season. 
Story Book Advent

Want more joyful learning ideas in your in-box, just twice a month? Subscribe to the Creekside Learning newsletter below.

 

Indoor Winter Activities: Sand Play

There are so many ways to play and learn with sand when you bring it indoors. Contrary to angry people on Pinterest, when sand gets out of the indoor sand box, you can vacuum it up and it does not ruin carpet. An indoor sand table or box is one of our favorite indoor winter activities. 

winter activities for kids

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I’ve had this sand play area set up in  our water table  for quite some time now, simply because the kids play with it almost every day. In addition to free play, we incorporate it into our learning. While I read to them about ancient Egypt, they played with the  Ancient Egypt TOOB figures in the sand table.

Next to the table filled with sand, we keep lots of fun things:  A container of plants (from the dollar store) and a container of animals and people.

indoor activities for kids in winter We also have gems, crystals, hearts (all from the dollar store), shells we’ve collected at the beach and a box of  fine motor tools.

Winter Indoor Activities for KidsWe leave the table out in our sunroom, ready for play at any time. My kids are 8 and nearly 6 so the issue of throwing sand has long been resolved. Occasionally, if we have friends over with a toddler, we have the option of covering the table up. We also do not have cats, so that is a plus. People often feel the need to remind me that open sand containers indoors are not a good idea if you have cats. I get it. Cats and sand are a no no. Ditto babies and toddlers. 

Indoor activities for kids in winter More ways to use a sand/water table indoors:

Ultimate Gift Guide for Homeschool Moms

Have your in-laws bought you ugly sweaters too many years in a row? Does your husband think a cheese slicer is an adequate way to show his love at the holidays?  Homeschool Moms, this one’s for you. Feel free forward a link to this post to your family or friends with a note like, “Hey, #3 is really cool!”  

What do homeschool moms need? Gifts for any budget.

 

{This post contains affiliate links. That means that if you click a link and purchase a product, I receive a small commission but it doesn’t cost you more. This post also contains sponsored links. I only recommend products I love to my readers.}

Gifts for Homeschool Moms

1. Laminator  List price: $80.49. Sale Price at time of publishing this post: $31.69. This one is worth watching prices for as it goes on sale several times throughout the year.   I use this to laminate maps, chore charts, math games, and more. It enables us to re-use things and save them from one child to another. Plus, it’s really fun to laminate stuff. 

Ultimate Gift Guide for Homeschool Moms from Creekside Learning

 2.  Laser Printer with Wireless Networking  List price: $139.99  Sale price at time of publishing this post: $93.99.
Superfast and perfect for printing downloaded materials–especially curriculum and ebooks with a lot of pages– and the ink drum lasts FOREVER.  We use this printer daily and we’ve only replaced the ink drum 3 times in 3 years. Hint: If the printer tells you it’s low on ink, take the drum out, shake it and put it back in. This buys me several more months of use each time. 

 

Ultimate Gift Guide for Homeschool Moms | Creekside Learning

Drawback:  It only prints in black and white.
Solution:  Printing on colored copy paper. I don’t miss color printing nearly as much as I thought I would and the savings on expensive color ink cartridges is so, so worth it.  

3.  Homeschool Planner. $8.00  I’ve been using this planner since last September and I adore it. It’s super customizable. Melissa at Mama Miss Designs used real live homeschooling mommas to give her input on what to include in this planner. Print only what you’ll use. Print it out yourself or take it to a copy store. 

I love this homeschool planner. I'll be using it again next year!

 

4.  Basket full of office/school supplies:  Put together a pretty basket of Post-It Notes, Sharpies, mechanical pencils, paper clips, an extra stapler and tape dispenser (my kids are always taking my stapler and tape dispenser) and maybe a gift card to a local teacher supply store. 

 

 

Gifts for homeschool moms to fit every budget.

 

 

 5.  A Gracious Space: Daily Reflections to Sustain Your Homeschooling Commitment.  $9.95  Inspiration from Julie Bogart, homeschooling mom alumni.  In the one-per-day format, this book of 50 essays reminds us of why we do what we do. Although this is the fall edition, the essays are applicable to every season. A truly wonderful resource full of encouragement.

Love this daily inspiration for homeschooling parents. I read it every morning with my cup of coffee. Starts the day right.

 

 6.  The always loved  Amazon gift card for books, books, books and everything else, too. What can’t you get at Amazon, really? Live shrimp?  Actually you can buy live shrimp on Amazon. {Please note, if you are a husband reading this post for gift ideas for your wife, DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT buy her live shrimp as a gift, unless she specifically asks for it.}

Gifts that homeschool moms love.

 

 7. Comb Binding System. I use this for many things, including downloaded curriculum that I’ve printed out, my homeschool planner, saving major space instead of using 3-ring binders for anything, and for special projects my kids are working on that contain a lot of pages, such as this book my daughter wrote and had on display in our local public library (I’m super proud of this kid!). 

Using a comb binding system in your homeschool.

 

 8.  Restaurant Gift Cards.  This is a great response when your in-laws ask you what you want for a gift.  Because saying “a laundress” seems a little over the top, even though it would be quite useful.  But I digress.  Gift cards for family favorite eat-in or take-out restaurants will be very much appreciated by any homeschooling family.  And, you can order them on Amazon. You don’t even have to leave your couch. 

Great gifts for homeschooling families.

 

9.  Babysitting Coupons. Cost: Your time.  People often ask homeschooling moms how we can spend all that time with our kids.  Guess what? Mostly, we can and we enjoy it and we cope with whatever happens on those not-so-good days but we all need a break.

 Bonus points if you babysit a homeschooling mom’s kids at your house, leaving her alone in her house to wear her fuzzy slippers and read a book. Make sure you tell her no cleaning, cooking or lesson planning allowed.  Do you know what silence sounds like in your own house?  Me, either, but I bet it is really lovely.  

 


This gift guide is part of the Gift Guides for Kids series, hosted by the fabulous Erica at What Do We Do All Day? Want to see more gift guides for all ages, interests and budgets? Click the photo below to go to 75+ more unique gift guides.

gifts for all budgets

Or stop by our collaborative Pinterest board and give your pinning fingers a work-out. 
Follow Erica • What Do We Do All Day?’s board Gift Guides for Kids on Pinterest.

 

Disclosure:  This post sponsored, in part, by Brave Writer. Affiliate links from Amazon and Mama Miss Designs. All photos used with permission.