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.
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All three of my kids love Snap Circuits. They are a great way to encourage STEM play and enjoyed by a wide age range.
Lego and STEM- need I say more? My oldest got this for Christmas and we’ve been LOVING it.
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.
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!
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.
This book looks great for the five and under crowd!
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?
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.
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?
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.
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!)
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.
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?”
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.
Another Tired, Busy Mama
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.
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.
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.
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?
It’s been a really interesting process to work with an illustrator. I had this vision in my head of what Nellie and her family looked like. It’s been really fun to work with an artist, Elie Dagher, to bring them all to life.
After a few rough sketches, we’d found her.
And an early draft of the cover.
And here it is, just about finished! Seeing this just makes it all so real. My book will truly be ready soon.
I mean, lunch with Amelia Earhart?! How cool is that?!!
I can’t wait to share this book with you all!