Spring Clean a Messy Drawer

April 24th, 2022

spring-clean-a-messy-drawer

Everyone I know has at least one junk drawer. Drawers can be hard to organize without dividers of some kind, especially if you have a lot of smaller items. Good places to have drawer dividers are bathrooms and kitchens. Today I will show you how to spring clean a messy drawer, and I will use a messy drawer from my bathroom to give you an idea for how to section off objects that are similar so that those items are easier to find.

Not only will you save time in finding the objects that you own, but those objects will be better taken care of, because they will not be thrown and manhandled while jostling around in the drawer. Eyeshadow, for example, when tossed around, can break and will require more money to replace because of rough treatment. Eyeliner pencils can break inside when tossed around also.

The first thing you will want to do is empty the drawer completely. Clean out the drawer with a damp cloth, and then dry with a paper towel. You will want to have dividers of some kind, either a drawer organization system like I show you in the video, or a wooden silverware tray that I also show you in the video. Or you can use small boxes, bins, or baskets to place inside your drawer to contain your items so they are not bouncing around.

messy-drawer-organization

After emptying and cleaning the drawer, and placing the containers in the drawer, you can look at all your items and get rid of everything you are not using. Either toss it in the trash, or give it so someone who would appreciate it. With fewer items, it’s so much easier to organize.

With the remaining winning items that you like and use the most, organize them into like categories. For example, all the small bottles were placed in the back of my drawer, standing up, and they were easier to see. My smaller hair clips were easier to find when I had a whole separate container for them, placing the larger hair clips and headbands in another section. Extra toothbrushes and floss can go together, as well as makeup having its own divider.

organize-a-drawer

Hopefully by spring cleaning a messy drawer, you can feel refreshed and less bogged down by life, feeling tranquil and and good about yourself each time you pull that drawer open!

To organize your entire house and homeschooling supplies, check out Organizing for a Fun Homeschool.

Umbrella Star Chart

March 12th, 2022

umbrella-star-chart

One super fun and relatively easy hands-on activitiy you can do with your kids when you are studying astronomy is to create this umbrella star chart. The person who originally created this activity is H. A. Ray, who wrote a groundbreaking astronomy book called The Stars. He took the complicated constellations and made simplified stick figures out of them, making the constellations more of a dot-to-dot rather than a complicated figure for each star pattern. This is a great activity to do to understand how the night sky rotates counterclockwise as the earth rotates, causing the illusion of the stars spinning around a central point, which is the north star.

The center of your umbrella (the handle) will be the north star. All the other constellations rotate around that star. So you can start with Cassiopeia, which looks like a W:

Take five silver star stickers, and place them on the umbrella in the form of a W to create the shape for the constellation Cassiopeia. Then spin the umberlla to the opposite side of the sky, and create the Big Dipper:

constellation-stickers-on-umbrella

After placing those two constellations, spin the umberlla, and you will see how the sky rotates at night. This is why the constellations are not always seen in the same places. However, if you learn to always find Cassiopeia (the W), you will always be able to find the Big Dipper on the opposite side of the sky. Isn’t that cool?

Over the years, you can learn more and more constellations. You can add as many constellations as you want to your umbrella star chart. If you make the constellations smaller, you can fit in quite a few. We just placed some basic ones to give you the idea. The sky is the limit on what you can create on this star chart!

star-chart-on-umbrella

A great activity to do right after making this umbrella star chart is to get in your car and drive away from the city one clear night, to go looking for these constellations:

If you want to see some hands-on activities for elementary astronomy, here you go:

If you want to see our high school astronomy curriculum and some fun field trips we did, go here:

We have done so many more activites for astronomy over the years, which we have inside the Astronomy Unit Study article in the Unit Study Treasure Vault. Hope you enjoyed this activity as much as we did!

Fairy Tale Party

February 7th, 2022

fairy-tale-party

I came across some photos the other day of my daughter’s first birthday party. The photos made me smile as I reminisced. We chose a fairy tale theme, and we had so much fun playing games based on nursery rhymes and fairy tales. We made a centerpiece for the table that included pricess slippers, a crown and princess hats, a Mother Goose book, confetti, and the cake topper from my wedding cake that I saved all these years. I used a clean black bed sheet as the table cloth, making a good backdrop for the scene.

Rachel-first-birthday

We made a simple rectangular cake with a princess figure standing on the top, with a #1 candle beside it. You can also make a castle cake. (If you want to see the spectacular castle cake I made for a medieval party, you can find it in the Treasure Vault. It’s called “Castle Cake,” next to the “Life-Sized Cardboard Castle” under the Middle Ages period of the history section.)

three-little-pigs-game

The first game we played was to construct houses made of straw, wood, and bricks. We used pine needles for the straw, popsycle sticks for the wood, and large red Lego bricks for the bricks. The materials were in separate baskets, and we had an indoor sandbox to help the houses to stand up in the sand. You can do this activity outside if you don’t have an indoor sandbox, or you can get some sand in a large bin. When you stab popsycle sticks or pine needles into the sand, they stay upright. Then you can blow on it really hard, and see if the three little pigs’ houses fall over.

london-bridge-is-falling-down-game

Next we played nursery rhyme games like “Ring Around the Rosie” and “London Bridge is Falling Down.” The kids really enjoyed when my husband and I made a bridge with our arms and interlocked hands, as you can see in the picture.

fairy-tale-newspaper

We had a wonderful time with this theme, as we read many famous works of literature (short stories), leading up to the themed party.

If you are homeschooling older kids, you can assign a writing project of a fairy tale newspaper. These were immensely popular when I taught in the classrooms before I had kids. I read to you many articles and funny ads to give examples of ideas for kids to write in their fairy tale newspapers in the audio So Your Son Hates to Write. (The writing assignments work well for girls, too!)

And if you have younger kids, they may enjoy our Mother Goose Unit Study!

Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse Tour

January 15th, 2022

swiss-family-robinson-treehouse-tour

I’ve always been fascinated by treehouses, ever since, as a young girl, my parents took me to Disneyland in California, where one of the amusements was a replica of the Swiss Family Robinson treehouse from the famous classic book and movie. My young eyes widened at the thought that people could survive without electricity and running water by creating their own sustainable lifestyle, which today would be called homesteading. Being a homeschool family, my husband and I built a fort in between some trees in our backyard that looked and felt like a treehouse, complete with a rope ladder.

Over the years, the kids played in their treehouse-like fort, and we eventually went to stay the night in a large treehouse in Oregon. We filmed our experience back then and put it into the Unit Study Treasure Vault, under our description of all the hands-on activities we did for the literature unit study for Swiss Family Robinson.

Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse Tour (video)

Well, today I have a treat for you, which is a tour of the Swiss Family Robinson treehouse in Disneyworld, Florida, where my husband and I took our kids for a family reunion last summer. We walked through the entire treehouse, stopping at each area with the video camera, giving you a virtual tour:

Years ago when we read the book Swiss Family Robinson as a read-aloud, my kids were excited to draw treehouses from their own imagination. I think my oldest son was 8 years old when he created this drawing:

treehouse-drawing

Years later, my sister (my kids’ aunt) and I created a 3-D model of a treehouse from odds and ends of wood and other bits of cloth and pebbles. We fastened it all together with hot glue. This is what it looked like, along with a description of how we created the entire project:

miniature-treehouse
One of my younger sons (about 5 years old at the time) drew his own version of a treehouse:

young-child-treehouse-drawing

So kids of any age can enjoy creating drawings and sculptures of treehouses. One year at a state fair in our area, we saw some children’s models of treehouses. The children used popsycle sticks, branches, and other odds and ends to glue together their masterpiece:

child-mini-treehouse

We have truly loved the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse theme over the years, and now that we are able to give you a taste of it with this tour, we thought we’d add the drawings and treehouse models to inspire you. To find out what other hands-on activities we did for the Swiss Family Robinson unit study, you can see our cram-packed article inside our Unit Study Treasure Vault, along with our real-life overnight stay at a treehouse down in Oregon!