STEM-Inspiring Gifts Under $20 for your Little Valentine

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With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, why not skip all the candy and stuffed animals and foster a love of science in your little Valentine? I’ve included a list of products under $20 as I know most parents are always looking to save a bit of money.

This post include affiliate links. 

Snap Circuits Jr. SC-100 Electronics Discovery Kit

All three of my kids love Snap Circuits. They are a great way to encourage STEM play and enjoyed by a wide age range.

Klutz LEGO Chain Reactions Craft Kit

Lego and STEM- need I say more? My oldest got this for Christmas and we’ve been LOVING it.

Learning Resources Primary Science Lab Set

Why not give them science tools made for their little hands?

ScienceWiz DNA Experiment Kit

Extract DNA from fruit! Build a double Helix! Help your kids to learn the basics of molecular biology in a fun, easy to understand way.

4M Eco Science Toys

I love eco-friendly toys! The kit can make up to seven different toys, including a race car, a gravity-powered walking robot and a tornado inside a bottle. All for under $10!

Nellie Nova Takes Flight

Ok, you knew I had to throw it in the mix, right? If you don’t know about my book yet, here’s the premise:

Nellie appears to be a normal nine year old girl. But Nellie is not normal. Nellie is an amazingly gifted scientist who lives in a family of amazingly gifted scientists. One day, her brother, Niles, who is eleven, teases her (as all respectable big brothers do). This time, however, Niles goes too far when he tells Nellie that girls are silly and no woman has ever changed the world. This sets off a spark of an idea in Nellie’s most amazing mind and sends her down the path to create a time machine and meet wonderful women who made a mark on the world. First stop, Amelia Earhart! With a few bumps along the way and a government agency out to steal her technology, Nellie and Niles are in for an incredible adventure!

If you don’t have a copy yet, it is a great way to encourage kids, especially girls, to love science.

STEAM: Preschool Activities for STEM Enrichment

This book looks great for the five and under crowd!

KEVA Brain Builders Game

This looks great for little engineers over the age of seven!

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Unexpected Benefits of Homeschooling

Families choose to homeschool for a variety of different reasons. Some are looking to escape bullying. Some want the flexibility so that they can travel. Some want to be able to use a religious curriculum with their kids. Whatever the reason they start, people often find some unexpected benefits along the way.

1.Board Games For Learning

I mean, who wouldn’t rather play Scrabble than write out lists of spelling words over and over again?

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2.Grade-Level Means Nothing

My son decided that he wanted to play the cornet last year when he was in 2nd grade. I can’t tell you how many people acted totally shocked that we were “letting him.” The local school started band in 6th grade and people were taken aback that he was allowed to start an instrument “early.” His teacher said he played better than most of his middle school students, so obviously, waiting would not have changed that! We have the flexibility to decide when the right time is to learn an instrument, write in cursive or learn Algebra.

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3. No Dress Code

Why not learn German wearing a princess dress or shark costume?! I mean isn’t it easier to remember that shark is der Hai if you are dressed like one?

 

 

 

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4. Nearly Empty Museums

Have your ever been to your local science center on a Tuesday morning? It’s great! There’s almost never a crowd. Better yet, the staff has time to answer questions and give demonstrations you may not get to experience on a busy Saturday.

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5. Sibling Bonding

My kids are so close. They love to be together and always look out for one another. I have no doubt that homeschooling has helped that. (Also- see Number 3. We obviously love the lack of dress code around here!)

 

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6. More Time in Nature

We love being outside. Homeschooling means that we can read in the backyard or take a day off for sunny weather. Trust me, they learn plenty on a nature hike.

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Obviously, a lot of these are little things and probably not a deciding factor in education. That said, these added bonuses make our days happier and I am so happy that my kids are having these experiences.

Homeschoolers- what are your “Unexpected Benefits?” 


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Rave Reviews for “Nellie Nova Takes Flight”

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After a few weeks on the market, reviews for my book, “Nellie Nova Takes Flight” have started to accumulate on Amazon.  I am so happy that it’s been well-received!

“This book is rich with empowerment and keeps you hooked throughout the whole story with it’s quirky adventures. There is never a dull moment in the Nova family!”

“Nellie Nova is a character who exemplifies what it means to be an intelligent young person. Such a wonderful story. Well written, keeps your child engaged throughout”

“This entire book and story line is an attention grabber.”

“Stephenie Wilson Peterson tells an amazing story that’s just great for kids. In a world full of male protagonists, story for our daughters that really tells them, “you, too, can do anything you set your mind to” is a great thing! I would absolutely recommend this to anyone.”

“I read this aloud to my 6 year old son, and he was intrigued the entire time. He enjoyed the suspense of the unknown, and I agree the storyline was engaging. I appreciate an author that ties in history with fiction – It’s inspirational.

I am so happy to hear that people are enjoying my book!

If you hadn’t had a chance to do so, check it out! 

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Homeschooling When Mom Gets Sick

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I have a terrible chest cold. I want to crawl in bed with tea, tissues, and cough drops, but I can’t. I homeschool. All three kids are here.

And I am supposed to be educating them.

There’s no sub to call when I am sick.

So what’s a homeschooling mama to do?

I had my older two kids (6 and 8) do their reading, journal entries, and math first thing this morning. They sat on the sofa next to me while I rested.

I gave my 3 year old some puzzles to play with while they did this.

Since then, they’ve been on their own, coloring, playing, dancing, reading, and watching educational shows on NetFlix. (Seriously, NetFlix is awesome for homeschooling. Bill Nye! Magic School Bus! So many documentaries!)

They will probably eat cereal for dinner and I am counting the hours until my husband gets home and I can hide in my bed.

That’s enough for today. And tomorrow will probably follow a similar pattern.

I’m okay with it. They’re still learning. I’m trying my best to rest and they will surely get by with a few easy days of learning.

We’re not running a race. We’re living our lives. Even when it gets messy, it’s beautiful.

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Dear Tired, Busy Mama

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Life isn’t easy for me.

I have three kids with differing special medical and dietary needs. This includes everything from intractable epilepsy to autism to 16 combined food allergies.

Until a few weeks ago, my oldest child, who is nearly nine, had never slept through the night. NEVER. No one in my family has slept well his entire life.

My husband lost his job last May, which resulted in a 12oo mile move to a new state where we knew no one.

Within a few days of closing on our house in our new state, my dog, my best friend of 10 years died.

A month later, my son had a terrible seizure that lasted 3.5 hours and landed him in the hospital. We were in Nashville – on a layover from visiting family in Seattle-when it happened. We had several months of awful medical struggles afterwards.

During all of this, I was homeschooling my kids and trying to finish my first book, “Nellie Nova Takes Flight.”

I am not telling you all of this so that you can feel bad for me. I am telling you this because I want to you to understand where I am coming from before I tell you this:

Dear Tired, Busy Mama,

You may think that your dreams have to be pushed aside. That there’s no time in your schedule for you.

You’ve convinced yourself that whatever it is your heart desires will have to wait for another season.

But, Tired, Busy Mama, it’s not true. You are still your own person, in spite of all of your responsibilities.

In spite of – and because of- these responsibilities- you need to have an outlet. You need to leave a portion of yourself for you.

Mama, you matter. Your dreams matter. Your soul matters. Your happiness. Your success. Your joy.

It all matters. 

Whatever it is that you’ve been pushing aside- go for it. Don’t make yourself a martyr to your circumstance.

You can do it. You can go back to school. You can write that book, paint that painting, get that job, volunteer for that amazing charity you support. Whatever it is, Tired, Busy Mama, that lingers in the back of your mind, whispering,“What if.”

Please leave room in your life for yourself.

If I can do it, so can you.

Sincerely,

Another Tired, Busy Mama

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Supporting a Love of Science

It’s no secret that I want to be sure that my kids have lots of exposure to science. It’s part of why we homeschool. I want to be sure they have lots of chance for exploration.

My kids love science. I think it’s because it’s been integrated into our everyday lives. We spend as much time in nature as possible. Exposure to nature has sparked many new interests in the past. From bird watching to digging for fossils, many trips in nature have inspired further exploration at home. The more time my kids spend in nature, the more they want to know about it.

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We also try and take as many trips as we can to science museums and exhibits. Seeing things in person that you never would see otherwise can really ignite a passion. We have made it a point to take advantage of the many science centers we’ve lived near. So often, these places offer many chances for hands-on learning.

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I find experiments and hands on projects to be especially helpful. While we love reading about science, I think that creating and experimenting make science come alive.

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I am so happy that I have been able to bring science to life for my kiddos.

How do you encourage your kids to love science?

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