Wax Museum – Authors

One thing Parker was bummed about missing in 4th grade in public school was getting to do the wax museum project. So of course we just incorporated it into our curriculum! In public school here they choose someone from Arizona and research them and then they have a “wax museum” where parents get to come and push a button for each “wax figure” that makes them come to life and they get to give their speech they have prepared. I don’t see much benefit from learning more about someone just because they happen to be from Arizona so we decided to switch it up and do different themes. This year we chose: authors!

Look how cute they look up there! Our oldest was bummed she was going to miss their presentations so we took video which I’m so glad I did because it will be fun to watch them over the years. Parker was a ham and after his presentation he “powered down” and froze again, it’s fun to see them have fun with these projects.

Anyway, I had them fill out these simple forms so they knew what type of information was most important. Simple but gets the job done.

Here is the download if you want to print copies:

The next step was to write out a summary in first person and then practice, practice, practice. Finally, they chose costume and we did the presentations. We chose authors on Monday, researched Tuesday, wrote out summary on Wednesday, practiced and chose costumes on Thursdays and Friday morning and then had the presentation on Friday afternoon. You could easily drag this out and have them read a book by the author and stuff like that but I wanted this done sooner so we could move on. Next year we are going to choose a scientist so I’m hoping to drag it out more then so we can learn more details about each of their accomplishments and maybe do some experiments ourself. I’ll probably have a list of scientists for them to choose from so I can have a general idea of what to expect.

Final reveal of this years wax museum:

Parker was Dr. Seuss

Andi was Lucy Maud Montgomery.

All in all it was a huge success and we’re excited to make this an annual thing. We learned a lot of interesting things about these authors but most importantly it instilled a curiosity in our kids about authors in general. We have been doing quite a bit of googling “Why did _______ write the book ______?” or “Interviews with ______” to learn about the personalities of different authors. I love seeing our children crave learning and want to take the time to look things up for the themselves. It’s one of the greatest blessings that come from homeschool, less “I’ll learn what someone else tells me is important to know” and more “I’m curious about this, lets learn about it”. It’s the best!

Star Student

One thing I knew we would take from public school and incorporate into our homeschool was star student. Who doesn’t love feeling special and singled out in such a positive way? Since we only have 3 kids we are doing homeschool with they got to be star student for a whole quarter. They have something special we do each week and they get the occasional candy with a little card on it which is always a surprise. For example, we may randomly leave a pack of EXTRA gum on their desk with a little note that says something cheesy like, “We think you’re EXTRA special!”

Here is a copy of the weekly items we do if you want to print it. I write in the ribbon the name of the current student of the quarter.

We use THIS poster for week 1 and since it came with so many we’ll be using these for a few years. I’m excited to see how much their answers change over the years for the same questions. With that being said, THIS one is cheaper and also looks like a fun one. There are a ton of awesome ones on Teachers Pay Teachers as well as THIS fun one from Oriental Trading.

Each year my husband makes a video for our kiddos on their birthdays of pics of them from the previous year so for week 6 we watch each of the videos for the start student. That may need to be changed for your household πŸ™‚

One of the weeks the kids get the MOST excited about is the last week when they get their star student book. Each family member writes a page for the star student saying some things they appreciate about them, then as a family we fill our our top “10 Reason We Love You” and there is always a cover page and closing page that is designed specifically for each child.

Here is the printable version of the 10 Reasons We Love You if you are interested

Parker was our most recent student of the quarter and since he is obsessed with all things Star Wars this was his closing page of his book

Here is the file if you want to print it:

Tyson really outdid himself with Parker’s cover. Now we have to get as clever and fun with all the kids next year.

I’m noticing I tend to end most of my post the same way but it really is how I feel…friendly reminder that above all else it’s all about having fun and making memories so it doesn’t have to be perfect, just have fun with it!

xo,
Jenny

Yeehaw! It’s a cowgirl party!

Someone had a birthday and she was so excited to have the cowgirl party we had started to plan last year but then Covid had hit bringing the party planning to a halt. So this year we made it happen.

Up first: food. Pizza was our main course but we also had:

pretzels dipped in white chocolate melting wafers with green dye and green sprinkles
I just bought the store bought Rice Krispies and unwrapped and stacked. I had ambitions for homemade but then…who has time for that πŸ™‚
I used strips of handkerchiefs all throughout the decor
Pringle dipped in chocolate with a Rolo and Pull Twizzler rope on top. Only used a couple throughout cupcake stand because they were more work than I had anticipated and I had waited too long to start. So cute though and worth it
Cupcake toppers from HERE

Next up: decor. Links for items found underneath each picture.

Balloons were mostly from Walmart but I did get a pack of cow ones HERE I also got the handkerchiefs from Walmart except for the cow print which I bought two of from HERE
We already had THESE trays and I felt like they went great with theme but I think THESE would be perfect as well and you would have enough for a party and then some probably

Next up: games!

Balloons (from Walmart) held down with golf tees and shoot Nerf bullets at them
Ring toss. Some Coke bottles and Cream Soda bottles glued down on a piece of plywood and pool rings did the trick
Catching the bandit (aka dad). We got the lasso HERE
We also collected our hens’ eggs (aka plastic eggs) which they then got to add to their goodie bags

Last but not least: goodie bags!

Pretzels (we used GF due to a friend with allergies), m&ms, chex, PB chips and cake batter popcorn. Printable tags available at the bottom of the page
Funny face farm animals from HERE
Farm animal puffer balls from HERE
Bandana scrunchies from HERE
I put their goodies in a brown sack which I had wrote their names on and tied it with a strip of a bandana.

Below is a free printable for the “cowgirl trailmix”.

All in all the party was a huge success. We got Rylee a new jean jacket from Target and a cowgirl hat so she felt like a true cowgirl from dress to activities to her surroundings and it was so fun to see her light up all evening. As always, the most important part of any activity or party with your kids is to HAVE FUN and live in the moment. Great memories will be made no matter what, it doesn’t have to be perfect.

xoxo,
Jenny

Conversation clovers

We love our conversation starters in our family so we decided to come up with some holiday themed ones for St Patrick’s Day. We had a blast sitting our the dinner table one evening coming up with these and answering them as we went and we now look forward to re-answering them with grandparents tomorrow on the 17th!

I printed ours on green paper but it would also be fun to let kids color them if you have little ones. There are 2 blank ones you can fill in with your own questions if you’d like.

Have fun!

xo,
Brown family

Lucky Leprechaun Scavenger Hunt

We love a good scavenger hunt, especially on St Patrick’s Day. Cambryn and I decided to have our leprechaun come early his year since we’re going to be gone on the 17th and we figured why not share it…for FREE! First, here are some pictures from our hunt and below each pic is a link to items I used or where I got it if there is no direct link. Only the last clue talks about a treat so the rest can be just a hunt trying to see/catch him or you can have a couple treats along the way if you choose. Not every location had a little something for us but there were a couple along the way.

The clue that lead to the largest bedroom of the house took them to our master where a pair of socks for each kid was hidden behind a pillow along with the next clue. Socks are from the $1/$3 section of Target.

Climbing on counters, looking in drawers and cabinets, under tables….no place was off limits with our leprechaun.

The bathroom had some St Patrick’s themed temporary tattoos from HERE which the kids immediately put on and then came downstairs to show them off.

So we didn’t catch him again this year but he did leave a final treat on the doorstep which was awfully nice of him ☺️. I got the mini pots of gold HERE and filled them with Rolos and rainbow M&Ms (Skittles would be super fun too!) I love how small they are, they don’t need a ton of candy every holiday but it was fun to have a little treat.

Here is the free scavenger hunt ready for you to print, cut and do.

Happy hunting! Have fun!

xo,
Jenny

PS As an Amazon affiliate, we may receive a small percentage from any purchases made from links on this post at no extra cost to you. We do not advertise any product we do not use ourselves and enjoy.

Frozen Birthday Party!

I want to start this post by quickly explaining what type of birthday parties you will find on this blog. As a mother of 6, I throw a lot of parties. Some are bigger than others but what I have learned over the years is that the “middle tier” birthdays are the BEST! You are hear the explanation of “kids don’t care about their party, they just want friends and presents” and maybe that is true for some kids but I will respectfully disagree when it comes to my family. Our kids look back at their birthdays and although they were just as appreciative as the parties where we just had friends, pizza and a movie night, the parties that they talk about with childlike excitement and want to watch home videos from our the bigger parties. With all that being said, we have years its just not in the cards to do a big birthday, and we have years where we have fun with themes and make the most of it but I have definitely learned over the years that there is ALWAYS more you can do. Ways you can make it bigger and better and I just work hard to find the balance of making them fun, but they don’t have to be perfect and they don’t have to be extravagant. With that being said…here is our Frozen 2 (which is really just a Frozen) party.

They have some amazing cake ideas on Pinterest with Frozen themes but we went with cupcakes because I wasn’t about to not let my 5 year old blow out a candle but I was trying to be respectful of others’ fears of germs. We went with store bought chocolate cake mix, the BEST homemade vanilla frosting (which we dyed blue) and some white glitter sprinkles and THESE frozen cupcake toppers. Easy peasy but goes with the theme and had Zoey all heart eyes with her cupcake stand.

The night before her party, just as I was falling asleep mind you, I had the thought that snowflakes hanging down from the ceiling would look cute. So first thing the next morning I printed out 8 copies of a snowflake that I found online that looked it would be easy to cut out and I got to cutting. It would be super cute to make a bunch of unique snowflakes to hang but again….middle tier parties. πŸ˜‰ In between the snowflakes the big girls made long blue ribbon curls to hang to mimic icicles. We’re pretty happy with how it turned out. Didn’t cost us any extra money and took us about half an hour to put together.

Next up…GAMES! I made some “snowballs” with white yarn (see pic below) and then we grabbed some buckets and put points on them and had the kids toss the snowballs in trying to be the one with the most points.

We also played the classic game of pin the nose on Olaf which I got HERE, She did a great job at making it easy to print, tape together, hang and play. THAT is a middle tier party 5 star find…it looks like I put in so much effort for my daughter’s party but really I got it FOR FREE and took minimal effort on my part. Thank you, The Purple Pumpkin Blog!

Last but not least we played Frozen 2 Bingo which I got from One Creative Mommy. Again, easy for me but SO cute and fun for kids. We used m&ms to cover our characters as we called them out because…yum!

Of course we can’t forget about the thing every kid looks forward to at a party…the goodie bag! I like getting our kids involved on this part and have them help put the bags together so they learn it’s actually not ALL about them, it’s about thanking our friends for another year of friendship as well! The tags for our “glacier juice” and the “do you want to build a snowman” tags I found HERE (her post has a lot of great stuff for a fun Frozen party so read all of it!) and “Thanks for coming” tags from HERE and the Frozen make a face stickers were another Amazon find of course, as were the Frozen temporary tattoos (not pictured).

In case you’re wondering about these bags…yes, you can indeed make a snowman(ish) with the kit. We put 3 regular size marshmallows, an orange regular M&M, 5 brown mini M&Ms (eyes and buttons), 2 mini pretzel sticks, 2 toothpicks to help hold together and 2 mini marshmallows for the feet. As you can see in my daughter attempting to put it together we actually needed to add more toothpicks to hold the feet in place. So if you’re really wanting to have them be able to make a snowman that’s a little more Olaf-ish you can make it 4 toothpicks.

Frozen funny faces

We bought plates, napkins, table cloths, goodie bags (I used the mini bags in the gift bag section) and balloons all from Walmart; including the big 5 balloon which she later wrote her hopes for the next year on and we set it free (all other balloons we popped and properly disposed over thanks to big fearless brother)

I struggled to get a picture of her with her eyes open because she too busy concentrating on her wish which I realized was actually adorable and I’m glad we captured that. I just love this little girls to pieces and can’t wait to see all she’s going to accomplish and learn this next year! Happy Birthday, Zoey dear!

teaching our kids table manners

We may not use proper etiquette at all times in our kitchen but I certainly wanted our kids to at least have some decent table manners to apply both in our home and when they are in others’ homes. We would talk about a couple things here and there with the kids but once we started homeschool I knew I wanted to do a more proper “lesson” as part of our home ec class.

We started our lesson/discussion by learning about setting the table properly. I printed out a place setting for reference as we discussed it. (we used the #4 template. it’s simple and that’s all we need) Then we learned about some of the table etiquette:

  • wait for everyone to receive their food – we talked in a little more detail about what this would look like in different settings such as at home, a friend’s house or out to eat somewhere. We also talked about how you would handle some of the food at a restaurant coming and some not having their food yet. Of course we also talked about the WHY behind we why we wait
  • include everyone in the conversation – we went through some topics that are inclusive as well as how to steer the conversation back to being an open conversation. Again, we talked about the WHY behind the importance of including everyone in the converstaion
  • be open to trying new things – this has always been a rule in our house. You don’t have to like it and you don’t have to finish it, but we encourage you to try it. With that all being said, we talked during his discussion about what that looks like when you are in someone else’s house. Using phrases like, “I’ll try a little please” or “no thank you, but I’m excited to eat this____” and name another dish they are serving. We also stressed the fact that if there is nothing you like there you just wait to come home to eat, you DO NOT ask them to make something that is not at the table.
  • no elbows on the table and have good posture – this had been discussed around the table before so we just touched more on the WHY behind it
  • always say please and thank you – this didn’t take long to discuss since they are already rockstars with this habit
  • put your fork down between bites – ok this is less manners and more just a healthier way to eat. I do think that it is polite too because you are less likely to inhale your food or talk with your mouth full amongst other reasons. We did talk about the health benefits of it as well: being able to take the time to listen to your body and know when it is time to stop eating or when to ask for more.
  • help with clean up – we talked about this being after a meal, after a church activity or following a party. Look for opportunities to help clean up and see it as a way to SHOW your gratitude to your host.
  • compliment the host – thank them for the meal, thank them for having you over. We also talked about when you have been served a meal that you maybe didn’t love. You can keep it simple with, “Thank you for having me over.” or, “Thank you for dinner” and just keep it at that but if there was something you loved at dinner then call it out! What host or hostess doesn’t love to hear that someone loved something they prepared?!
  • depart with gratitude – “Thank you for having me” or if you someone is coming over to pick up their child from our house, “Thank you for letting them come over and play.” At risk of sounding like a broken record, we also talked about the WHY behind it. Parents take their time out of their busy days to make sure we set up playdates and run kids around and we’re happy to do it, but it’s also nice to hear appreciation for it.

There were a handful of questions and topics that came up while we discussed but I didn’t write them down. We had fun with it though and gave different scenarios of situations they may find themselves in and how they could handle it. We also had fun acting out good posture, being proper and the opposites of both. The next morning we set up the table for a nice family breakfast (which seriously never happens…we’re usually a cold cereal family so the kids were thrilled) and the kids put their table setting abilities and table manners to the test.

I patterned this lesson after what I found HERE along with what I remember being ingrained in me growing up. πŸ™‚ We have great, well mannered kids and it was fun to see them get into it even more following this lesson. I’m all about allowing kids to be kids, it is a HUGE reason why we started homeschool but I’m also very determined to have our children look very young what it looks like to have good manners and be polite and considerate of others. Discussions and lessons like this help us achieve that.

xoxo,
Jenny

wood bead garland

NEW product in our Etsy shop today! This wood bead garland is the perfect finishing touch for your tiered tray, table tray display or bookshelf! Also pictured is a MINI PLANT I got off of Amazon and a sign I also got off of Amazon but that was back in 2019 and I can no longer find it. I did find THIS cute one though and I love it, so next time you see a picture of my tiered tray it will probably be there, just added it to my cart. πŸ™‚

Hope you have a great day!

xo,
Jenny

Stripping sheets

We wash our sheets once a week but every so often we strip our sheets to rid them of any build up from laundry detergent, minerals from hard water, oils from our skin etc. It never ceases to amaze what comes out of sheets I wash regularly. I will say, ours has never looked as bad as I have seen from some recent tik tok videos so I take some comfort in that. Our detergent must not be doing too bad of a job. What you need to strip your sheets: Tide powder, washing soda (you can make your own if you would like by following directions HERE. I have done this in the past but choose to just buy it at the store now), Borax powder and a tub (or a sink or large bucket if you don’t have a tub in your house). I put links to Amazon on here but you can also usually buy these items at your local grocer although I have struggled to find washing soda at some of our local stores.

When you are ready to strip your sheets, fill your tub with hot water. I put my on as hot as I can get it. As it is filling I do once scoop of each of the 3 powders.

I like to then swirl the water around a bit and funny enough our son’s plastic sword is the perfect sturdiness and size so that is what I use each time. Of course you can always use your hand if you would like.

This is what the water looks like after it is filled but before adding any sheets or towels.

It’s not completely clear but definitely light and clear. The picture makes it look darker than it was but what can you do? Then add your sheets, or towels, keeping in mind that you want to add what can fit into your machine after the stripping process is done. I do one set of sheets and pillowcases at a time for the bigger beds and two sets for the kids.

Once I have added the sheets I use the sword to push everything down and move it around a bit. You can leave it like this for 4-5 hours (use the temp of the water as a way to know if it has been long enough, if the water is still warm I would let it soak longer) or you can occasionally go in there and give it a bit of a stir to make sure everywhere is really covered and has a chance to soak. Once the temperature of the water is cool I usually drain it, squeeze the water out of the items and then go put it through the rinse cycle of the washing machine. For the sake of this post I took the sheets out before draining so that you can see the water.

I always have such mixed feelings. Part of me thinks 🀒 yet another part is πŸ™ŒπŸΌ and πŸ˜ƒ. It feels so good to sleep in sheets knowing all that build up is gone! I have no idea what the suggested time is between stripping but I only do this once a year. It’s a great spring cleaning item and even then I have certainly missed years. I only recently did it on our towels for the first time and didn’t get as much results from it. We also don’t hang on to towels forever though so I’m not all that surprised by that one.

Make sure you only strip items that are ok to be washed in hot water and NO delicates. With that being said, happy spring cleaning and feeling so fresh and so clean, clean! 🎢 (I still sing that song every time I start spring cleaning. old habits die hard)

xo,
Jenny

Kitchen upgrade

We did a large kitchen makeover awhile back but this weekend we made a small kitchen upgrade but we are SO excited about it. Sometimes the smallest detail really can add such a great effect. The change we made can only be seen when the lights are out and it’s dark outside…

We love the look of lights under your cabinets but when we did phase 1 our big kitchen remodel (when we painted the cabinets, got new countertops, added a backsplash, new sink and faucet and framed out the window) we just couldn’t find a lighting system that was worth the money for us. We had used some of the lights you stick under the cabinets that you need a remote to turn on in our last house and we didn’t really want to go that route again but we also didn’t want to invest the money and time into anything that needed a switch either. Well recently I heard that there was outlet plates that had lights in them that turn on when it’s dark that are popular in bathrooms so I figured we would try them out in the kitchen too. We love it! We didn’t replace all of our all of our outlet plates with these because I wanted to save some for the kids’ bathrooms and that worked out well anyway because I don’t think we need more than the 4 we put in there. You can find the outlet plates HERE. We are an Amazon affiliate so if you do make a purchase from that link we earn a small percentage. We only post items that we ourselves use and love and want to share with others. Thank you for your support and we hope you love these as much as we do!

xoxo,
Jenny

PS We are in the middle of phase 2 of our remodel. If you look closely in the picture you will see that our floor is just concrete, and not pretty stained concrete. We have a couple of projects in the works and will be posting soon with progress pictures so if you are interested in following home remodels follow along and join in on the journey!