June 2014 - momgineer

Landforms and Water Forms Resource Roundup!

Landforms and water forms are something we revisit from time to time, and since we did again recently, I thought I'd share some ideas on ways to have fun with this topic!

First, here are two fabulous freebies I recommend you start with!

Landforms Dictionary from Miss Martin's Classroom (be sure to leave some feedback when you download!):


Free Montessori 3-Part Cards!
We started with the dictionary. While the kids were coloring their dictionaries, we talked about them and discussed whether we had seen them before.

(Yes, we often homeschool in pjs!)
Then we got to work with Play-doh, making as many of the land and water forms that we could! I recommend using blue, yellow, and green colors and avoiding brown since everything we tried to make with brown brought up snarky potty jokes. You can use colored paper or plastic sheets/lids as background if you like. Here is one we did with a blue plastic lid from the dollar store:
We added a few small animals and a Lego tree for fun. You can print two copies of the 3-part cards to play a game of memory. I love that this activity is simple enough to do several times a year. It seems to always be a favorite. 

A few more freebies to study land and water forms:

Landforms Around the World Card Game from Primary Punch:


Landforms Foldable from Jen Ross:


Landforms and Bodies of Water Memory Match Game from Christina Bainbridge:


Do you have a favorite resource on this topic? Feel free to share the link in the comments!
momgineer Meredith Anderson

STEM education is my passion!

Geometric Solids - Real Life Connections with a FREEBIE!

Invitation to explore solid geometry (3D shapes):

I included a mix of wooden geometric solids and household objects. Pro-tip: hard to find shapes can often be found in Legos or can be constructed with various magnetic toys!

After placing some of the spheres, my son moved some of the cubes around to keep the spheres in place. It was the perfect time to talk about sliding versus rolling objects!

Cards from my Geometric Solids resource. Or, download the freebie (the only card not included is the hemisphere):

momgineer Meredith Anderson

STEM education is my passion!

Wordless Wednesday: End of Spring Sports!

momgineer Meredith Anderson

STEM education is my passion!

Lego Sandbox

Tuggy the tugboat had a good life as a sandbox when my oldest, now almost 8, was a toddler. We also used it as a baby pool! It's been sitting in the yard for years now, mostly because I've been too lazy to do anything about it. I needed an easy day at home after yesterday (details of that to follow) so we went outside and hosed off Tuggy and the boys helped me get it up to the deck and clean it up. We then brought it inside and they emptied out all of their Legos inside. The Legos had been sorted by color, but they wanted to mix them up, so we'll leave the Legos in Tuggy for a few days until I get motivated to list it on Freecycle.

So far they have been playing in it for over an hour, so that's good enough for me!

What happened yesterday? Mr. Big-Emotions-Six-Year-Old slammed the French door, then kicked a pane, and what a pain it was to clean up all that glass!

There was glass at least 10 feet from the door on both sides, and in his and my feet. Of course he did this right after I sat down to eat lunch, which did not get eaten until at least an hour later. I am proud to say I kept my cool and quietly cleaned everything up and waited to speak with him about it until after the cleaning was done and I'd eaten my lunch. Why do we even have a glass door inside the house with two energetic children? My husband thought they were old enough to be responsible around it (I had him remove the door right after we moved in and it had been in the garage until a few months ago). Sigh. What this picture doesn't show is that there were Legos all over the floor as well, which I had to pick up one by one, and then clean.
momgineer Meredith Anderson

STEM education is my passion!

Strawberries, day 17

Today's harvest:
92 berries, 1045g
Harvest YTD:
1382 berries, over 16kg

Many of them have now been frozen and will hopefully last until at least October!
Today was our second day harvesting snow peas as well, but only a handful. I also needed potatoes yesterday so I dug up a few, even though the main harvest won't be for several weeks.

momgineer Meredith Anderson

STEM education is my passion!

Top 5 Tips: Growing Strawberries at Home

Since we are in strawberry season, I thought I would give my top 5 tips about growing strawberries at home! This is the fourth year I have grown them (not counting the first year where the crop was minimal), and over the past several years I have learned some valuable lessons that seem to improve the crop yearly. Keep in mind that I am a backyard gardener and not a garden expert by any means. This is just what has worked for me. I hope it works for you, too!

1. Sunny spot. One of my strawberry beds had partial shade and did not produce well at all. Strawberries love full sun. Pick a spot that gets lots of sun and has extra room for your strawberries to sprawl.

2. Watering: Less is more. The first year I over-watered my berries (or Mother Nature did). This made them soggier and less sweet. Yuck! Here in New England, I rarely water my strawberries now. Everything I had read said to water them more than I do, but I have found that less is more. If you live in a warmer zone (I'm in USDA Zone 6a), you may need to water your berries more often.

3. Clip and clean up. Your berry plants will send out runners. Clip off a good bit of them. The plant will put more energy into making delicious berries instead of making more plants. The runners that you leave will be good producers in the following year. When the season is over, set your mower on a high setting and mow off the tops of your everbearers.

4. Move to improve. Relocate younger and healthier plants either in fall or very early spring to a new area and amend with rich compost. If you don't have a home compost bin, consider starting one. It helps everything in the garden grow happier and healthier. I now have other plants (peppers, tomatillos, tomatoes) growing in the areas where I started my strawberries that first year, but I expect to move some young strawberries back there this fall after I pull out the current plants and amend the soil. Crop rotation really does work!

5. Variety. Include both June- and ever-bearing varieties; that way you will have a sizeable crop in June, and a steady stream of daily strawberries through September (maybe longer, depending on your zone). Some varieties may produce better in your area than others.You can even add wild yellow strawberries for something different! They have a slightly tropical flavor and don't sprawl, so you can grow them in spaces that don't have room for expansion.

Strawberries are by far my favorite thing to grow in my garden. Why?
    • They require little maintenance, 
    • they are perennial, 
    • they are easy to preserve (jam, puree, freeze whole on a cookie sheet then drop in a ziplock bag), and
    • they are delicious!  

I started with 32 strawberry babies in 2010; 16 each of two varieties. We got a small number of berries the first year, but nothing worth counting. Since 2011 I have had my kids help harvest, count, and weigh the berries daily. Here are some stats for the last few years:

2011: Picked 1052 edible strawberries (11.5 kg)
2012: Picked 945 edible strawberries (10.8 kg)
2013: Picked 1670 edible strawberries (18.3 kg)

Good luck growing this fantastic crop. If you have any suggestions, please feel free to add them to the comments below.
momgineer Meredith Anderson

STEM education is my passion!

Artist of the Week: Munch

There are some free coloring pages of famous works of art and this week we tried out Edvard Munch's The Scream. We didn't look at a photograph of the painting beforehand, but I asked the kids to color it as they wanted and then we looked at their color choices versus the original. Fun stuff!

Find even more pages at Color Me Masterpiece!
momgineer Meredith Anderson

STEM education is my passion!

Strawberry Harvest: Day 3!


 27 strawberries, 345 grams.
momgineer Meredith Anderson

STEM education is my passion!

Wordless Wednesday: Science Center Visit

momgineer Meredith Anderson

STEM education is my passion!

First swim day at home!

One of the perks of homeschooling is that when the weather is nice, we can do things like go on nature walks. If the temperature is as warm as it was today, the kids can go in the small pool we have in the backyard. I happened to grab my camera and snap this photo as well:

I also noticed while sitting outside that the caterpillars are out of CONTROL this year!
I think they're gypsy moth caterpillars and I'm not sure what we can do about them all! =( The happy news is we picked three strawberries! That means we each got to eat one. June tastes delicious so far!

momgineer Meredith Anderson

STEM education is my passion!

Hello June!

momgineer Meredith Anderson

STEM education is my passion!