This Month's Featured Resources...


Father's DayTravel - CookingLatin WW2

Monday, June 25

Sunshine Girl (Parade)

"Friends are the sunshine of life." -John Hay
Every few months, my friends and I send each other boxes full of goodies.  We don't see each other often (maybe once in three years), and this is our way of sending hugs & sunshine through the mail.

These boxes are full of treats and goodies for both mom and the kids.  We're utilizing the postal service, which to me is a lost art, and also it is full of little gifts that don't cost much (we mostly shop from our homes or local thrift stores), but they are from the heart. Not everything has to be electronics and expensive. The best things in life are just little thoughts from people that care about you.  I encourage you to send find a partner and send sunshine boxes...you never know when one will arrive on the perfect day!

We don't have rules...we just aim to make each other smile.  But if you need some guidelines :
  1. Fill up a flat-rate box...pack carefully and make a game out of how much you can cram into one box.  I'm not sure who the current title-holder is in our group right now.
  2. Even if it's Christmas, don't wrap things - it just takes up more space.  DO put a note inside for mom, though, if you want it wrapped up on the receiving end.
  3. Fun things to send :  small souvenirs, snacks, photos / postcards, small toys, books, cd/dvd, clothing (occasionally we'll swap shirts amongst the kids), magnets, homemade stuffs (jelly, jam, cookies), art & craft supplies, fun thingamajigs....the list is endless!
I crammed all of this into two medium flat-rate boxes.  It was back-to-school time, so we swapped out nice, "new to you" clothing.  And that's a full-sized cookie jar in the back!


We also like to put in baked goods!  Cook up some extra love with these sunshine lollipops, from Hungry Happenings.

Sunshine Lollipops (makes 12)

Ingredients:
Supplies:
Instructions:
  1. Pour some of your melted candy melts into a squeeze bottle fitted with a small round pastry tip (or use a disposable pastry bag, or a zip top bag with one tip snipped off.)
  2. Pipe a circle the same size as your cookie onto your parchment paper. Set a craft stick onto the piped circle. Pipe triangles all around the piped circle. Fill in with candy coating. Repeat making 12 sunshine pops. Refrigerate for 5 minutes until candy coating hardens.
  3. Note: I recommend making a few pops at a time then refrigerate them, so that the yellow candy coating doesn't get splotchy, streaky, or spotty:) 
  4. As you work, you will probably need to re-heat your candy coating. Place it in the microwave and heat it for 10 seconds, then stir. If needed, heat 10 more seconds, but don't over heat or you could burn the candy coating. I like using the plastic squeeze bottle for projects like this because the entire bottle (as long as you use a plastic decorating tip) can go into the microwave.
  5. Pour your remaining yellow confectionery coating into a small bowl. Place a cookie in the melted coating, submerge it completely, then use a dipping fork or kitchen fork to lift it out. Tap the fork on the side of the bowl allowing the excess candy coating to fall back into the bowl. 
  6. Set the candy coated cookie in the center of a sunshine pop. Immediately add two candy eyes. Repeat creating all 12 pops. Refrigerate for 5 minutes until the candy coating hardens.
  7. Remove pops from refrigerator and allow them to warm to room temperature, about 15 minutes. Use a black food coloring marker to draw smiles and eye lashes on your sunshine lollipops.
  8. Store your Sunshine Lollipops in an airtight container for up to a month. You can package them in clear cellophane bags to give out as gifts or party favors. 

Wednesday, June 20

Groove is in the Heart (Deee-Lite)

Yesterday, I brought you some of my more creative dress-making ideas.  Today, we're going to share some of the upcycling that we did this past summer from garage sale finds.  Everything we started with cost less than a dollar - or was even free!
We started with this Hawaiian-themed desk.  We picked it up - in really beat up condition, but with a good base - for a dollar at a garage sale, and completely overhauled it.  My eldest used some old curtain material for the seat and painted it.  I put in the tile and the chalkboard.   Voila!
This old captain's chair was out in our shed.  I have no idea where it came from or why it was there.  There were six of them...we gave all six of them different "classic" looks, and sold all except this one.  The desk was also out there, and we cleaned it up, painted it, and used an old pillowcase to make a matching seat cushion.  We resold them for a little 'piggy-bank profit.'
We snagged this dingy, nasty chair at an estate sale for a quarter.  It had good bones, and was quality vintage, but needed a facelift.  The boys cleaned it and painted it, and I made new a new seat and back for it.  Doesn't it look like so much more fun now?!  My sister (with her inexplicable love of the color yellow) was the inspiration for this one.....the little bumblebee...
These were during our "ocean phase," when we were visiting the aquarium. We had lots of temporary tattoos, and discovered that they attach quite nicely to old, leather suitcases!  They brightened this blue one up and turned it into a cute, kid-sized piece.  The old window sash was scraped, sanded, and stained before we stuck a poster-sized photo, which hubby had taken in Cozumel, behind it.
The end table was painted with a Dr. Seuss themed / outer space world during my eldest son's space craze.  The youngest was still into pirates, so I created a play table just for him out of some scrap wood we had laying about the garage.  Neither of the tables were painted by the boys, but they each dreamed up the designs for them.
A friend of mine had this old army footlocker that she wanted to use for her girls' toys...so I had her bring it over and got right to work.  This one only took an afternoon - all the kids were playing together nicely, so I was able to finish very quickly once the initial coat of purple dried.  Simple, yet effective, her girls still love it today!
Finally, I created this banner for my grandfather's airport wall, before he passed.  He and I spent countless weekends together at the airport, flying in the Alpha Charlie and bumming around with the other old men that spent their weekends there.  We spent each spring doing science experiments for the science fair at the airport (he was a retired engineer).  Can you tell that I still really miss him....?
 I hope that these projects have inspired you to go out and create something new with your kids - or just for yourself!  Don't be limited by what the mass-producers create....use your imagination, put your spin on it, and make it memorable

As Miss Frizzle would say.............get outside!  Get mess!  Make mistakes!  
.........and HAVE FUN!!!!!!!

Monday, June 18

Cool Blues (Miles Davis)

A beautiful shot of the Blue Whale!  I can just imagine how much fun this little water park brought to this community a few decades ago! 

This field trip was born out of our trip down Route 66 in Stroud, OK (see last week for that unit).  We decided since we had done a portion of Route 66, why not try to do the entire stretch?  We will continue doing this in smaller increments.  Even planning it out, we don’t see all the sights!  Each time I plan I choose a 30-45 mile stretch, and I choose which sites to see based on history and preservation.  Each time I try to explain to the kids just how important it is to take care of these things so future generations can enjoy them as well.  

The Rock Creek Bridge is a great example because of the condition it is now, it may not be here for my children’s children to enjoy.  Preserving history is such an important part of education because history makes up so much of our education.  When you read for Language Arts, you read many historical stories; when you practice spelling words, the lessons often come from history (ours do, anyway); everything has a history and we want to pass that down to future generations! It is MUCH more fun to see these things in person than to read about them and see photos!

Entrance to the Blue Whale in Catoosa, OK.  This used to be a water park and the whale along with a few other pieces have been salvaged and preserved and are now quirky 66 land marks (there is a dilapidated pirate ship, some very vintage restrooms, and the old ticket booth as well as a small light house and some cute picnic tables left)  Rock Creek Bridge in Sapulpa-it has closed in the last year due to weathering, and is a prime example of how we should take care of the things we have for future generations.  This is a beautiful location, the creek it crosses is a lovely work of God, but difficult to access because it hasn’t been kept up.
“Charlie Porter” tugboat at the Tulsa Port of Catoosa (off of the Arkansas River)  This was a surprise as we were looking for the historical museum which has since moved, but we got a great lesson on how tugboats work and what they are used for.  “The Nut House” in Catoosa (3 miles east of the Blue Whale) was my favorite surprise find!  The fudge is homemade along with many other items and the owners are the sweetest women you can find!  The shop has sweets and a few savories as well as a trinket/gift shop.  Of COURSE we bought some fudge…after the kids tasted it we couldn’t say no!  Plus, support small/local business!
The kids posed under the tugboat near the propellers.  I love how they have this set up where you can go under to see the workings!  The mouth of the Blue Whale in Catoosa.  This whale is the reason the kids wanted to take this trip!  We drove east to Catoosa and moseyed our way home from there stopping to see sights along the way.  Again, another thing we want to see preserved!  Preservation of history is key for education!
This is our crazy selfie in the car!  A Route 66 field trip means a LOT of car time!  We began in Shawnee, drove to Catoosa and back, stopping along the way which took a total of about 7 hours.  Even getting in and out frequently we had some stir crazy kiddos!  We found this ADORABLE welcome sign to the Catoosa Whale water park.  This sign has been well preserved and is so adorable!  I hope it stays that way!
A rail bridge still in use between Catoosa and Tulsa.  I took the photo on a whim so I don’t remember the exact location, but just minutes later a train went across it!  The Charlie Border Tugboat at the Port of Catoosa.

Whales Unit Study




Tuesday, June 12

Route 66 (Chuck Berry)

View of the “Mother Road” in front of the Boundary Restaurant in Luther, OK
(scroll to bottom for unit study)  

This field trip was born out of a “Wild West” study, actually.  We learned about a daylight double bank robbery by outlaw Henry Starr that took place in Stroud, which is said to be one of the last outlaw robberies to take place in the Wild West.  We wanted to read up and learn more on that, but through that, a Route 66 field trip was born.  We decided to focus not only on Oklahoma history, but on how important preservation of history is as well as the importance of taking care of the land and land marks for future generations.
When in Stroud, OK, you must stop at the Rock Cafe, even if it is just to snap a pic (though the food is delish, too).  It was one of the inspirations for the movie Cars, and since I have two boys, this was a great photo op.  A bit further down the road, near Arcadia, the Rt. 66 Museum Service Station Museum was an accidental gem of a find.  This museum is absolutely delightful; full of quirky artifacts full of fun history lessons!
The Skyliner Motel in Stroud is perfect for someone who loves vintage neon signs and well-preserved history!  Nearby, we found “Filmore,” from the movie Cars, at the Rt. 66 Service Station Museum near Luther…again because Cars and boys!
The Boundary Restaurant in Luther, OK (boasts best BBQ)—we actually stopped here on a whim trying to find something else but it had such a beautiful view of 66 with no interruptions I couldn’t resist snapping a quick pic.
Here are the historic marker from the Rock Cafe in Stroud and a map of OK Rt. 66 at the Route 66 Interpretive Center in Chandler, OK…this place was super neat with interactive video displays!  We decided to stop here because we got addicted to Route 66 in the planning process and wanted to learn as much as possible! The Historical Society Museum in Chandler is also a great place to visit!

Route 66 Resources...

Seven Fun Facts About Route 66 
  1. In 1937, there was a change in alignment of Route 66 in Albuquerque, NM. There is an intersection downtown at Central Avenue and 4th Street where Route 66 crosses itself. 
  2. Get Your Kicks on Route 66 was written by Bobby Troup. In 1946, Nat King Cole recorded it. It has since been recorded by bands such as the Rolling Stones and Depeche Mode. 
  3. Kansas has only 13 miles of Route 66, but is home to three historic towns. They are Baxter Springs, Galena, and Riverton. 
  4. 85% of Route 66 is still driveable. 
  5. It took five interstate highways to replace Route 66; I-55, I-44, I-40, I-15, and I-10. 
  6. The last original Route 66 road sign was taken down in Chicago on January 17, 1977. * The first McDonalds was located in San Bernardino, CA in 1945 on Route 66. 
  7. The first town that you come to on Route 66 in Oklahoma is Quapaw, OK. Quapaw is famous for “spooklights.” “Spooklights” are bright balls of white light that bounce around. They have been reported since the 1700ʼs.

Monday, June 11

Art of the Ancients {Review}

If you've followed this blog for more than a few days, then you know these kids are all about some ancient history!  We have ancient history Legos, and all of our literature and geography courses are centered on ancient history....heck, we even did a science course that focused on it!  So when ARTistic Pursuits, Inc. released their new Art Instruction Books with DVD and Blu-Ray curriculum, including the Art of the Ancients art course, they were super excited!

Granted, this is a course designed for kindergarten through 3rd graders, and they are a little bit older than that, but they still enjoyed it.  The course comes in a slim hardcover book, with two DVDs (one regular and one blu-ray), that fits perfectly on any shelf and looks very nice.  It focuses on the art of the cultures that grew up along the Mediterranean.  There's even a note inside about this, with a nod toward other ancient cultures that were not included simply due to keeping it a short and simple book for younger students.
If you'd like to see more about this course, peek inside the book further, or see clips of the video lessons, check out the video review!

The course begins with the cave drawings of France and winds through ancient Egypt, Greece, and the Roman Empire.  It includes art history, geographical history, and art instruction.  There are eighteen lessons in total - twelve in the text, and six on the video disc.  One thing that I really appreciate about this course, from a mom's organizational perspective, is that the discs are stored right inside the book.  I can't tell you how many times I've picked up a course book only to find that I'd misplaced the discs...
The materials used in the lessons are often simple, everyday materials that you'll have in your home.  There are also basic art supplies that most homeschools are stocked with, including crayons, pastels, clay, colored pencils, and colored paper.  A few lessons call for specific supplies, such as a clay wire cutter, but we simply used a knife and washed it well.
In the lesson about Egyptian murals, we learned about ancient Egyptian culture, the pyramids, and the murals inside of the pyramids.  Taking the lead from the example in the book, everyone created a 'modern day mural,' focusing on the everyday things that each does.  One of them is fishing, chicken-wrangling, doing schoolwork, and walking around.  Another is taking a boat ride (apparently, his dream day), while the last is completing schoolwork, biking, reading with her brother, and playing outside.
The video lessons are quite simple to follow.  Like the book, they open with a lesson about the world around us and how this particular art lesson relates to that.  Then they go through the art project step by step, with natural breaks in it for the video to be paused while your student completes that step.  Finally, they do a quick review of every step in the project.  In this video lesson, we created Roman mosaics -- one is an airplane and one is a parrot.

While I feel that this course was too young for my children - and it SHOULD be - they are in middle school and above, I also feel that it's just right for the intended audience, and could even be used with preschoolers.  It will get children excited about history, while incorporating hands-on fun!

See what others are saying about ARTistic Pursuits,Inc. at the Homeschool Review Crew!
Artistic Pursuits Full Video Lesson Grades K-3 {ARTistic Pursuits Reviews}