Learning Themes Feed

When you take a kid to Whole Foods ...

Whole Foods Market is Earlybird's favorite place on earth (aside from his Nana and Papa's, of course), and he asks me constantly if we can go there, when can we go there, who can come with us and whose car we'll take. We usually have the whole trip discussed, imagined and planned out days - even weeks - before we even step foot in the store. ;)

Well, it occured to me that such an avid interest presents a wonderful learning opportunty for Earlybird! Building on what appeals to him - with simple, relatable activities - makes learning easier and more fun (for us both). So I started brainstorming some ideas for a little "Whole Foods Curriculum" and thought I'd share my list here in case it's helpful to somebody else with a child who just loves to food shop!

*Quick disclaimer: I'm a homeschooling mom, not a curriculum expert or special needs pro. I don't mean to present this as anything other than a humble and hopeful collection of home-grown ideas. I'm just going by what might work for my own son and his particular interests and learning/life needs.

:)

27 learning activities inspired by Whole Foods

Make a list of things we need to buy.

Practice spelling and penmanship, expand vocabulary. When we check our pantry and fridge/freezer before making our list we practice good food management and decision-making while taking responsibility for our family's needs (all important life skills).

Try to find items on a prepared scavenger list.

"Made from oats." "Came from the sea." "Smells good." etc. (reading practice, creative/logical thinking)

Look over store flyer and organize coupons.

Good reading practice, and discerning information (what's on sale, what's fresh?). Using coupons to save money - sorting, organizing, budgeting. Simple subtraction (item price minus coupon amount).

Use a calculator to add up a small order.

I wouldn't try this with a big shopping trip, but for a basket-ful of items - using a calculator to predict how much the cashier will ask for. Math - estimation, addition, calculator-use.

• Make reusable shopping bags.

O and r at wf 4

Earlybird with his own reusable bag, a birthday gift.

  Using inexpensive cloth tote bags (from a craft store), decide on design/colors. Great creative/art experience. Discuss why reusing bags makes good sense (environmental science).

Draw a map to Whole Foods from our house.

Creative project using all kinds of skills - geography, measurement, memory, arts & crafts. Use a large sketch pad and colored pencils. Write out directions to go along with map.

Whole Foods A and Whole Foods B - which is closer?

We're lucky enough to live near(ish) not just one, but two Whole Foods stores - I know which one we prefer (size, selection, layout) but which one is closer? Observe odometer at start and finish for each trip, record travel times.

• Practice clear and polite communication.

Think of potential questions and ask for help, make conversation with staff and other patrons (language skills, social skills).

• Practice good cart management.

Earlybird loves to use the cart himself, but this takes a little skill sometimes! The store can be busy, aisles can be crowded (gross motor skills, social skills, patience).

O and r at wf 2

Little Bear is amazed by all the sights to see!

Learn: What does organic mean?

Look for the word "organic" on labels, store signs, flyers. Ask someone to explain what it means (call ahead of time) and/or research at home. Visit the library to research further - ask the librarian to help us look up information: How is organic healthier for us? For the earth? Make up a short "report" with Mama's help. (environmental science, research skills, clear communication, observation, composition/grammar/spelling/vocabulary)

Tour the store.

Ask for a tour with a store manager (or other store staff). Call ahead to ask. After tour, narrate experience (Mom types in) and add drawings, photos. Write thank you note afterwards. (patience, attention, social skills, penmanship/spelling/vocabulary)

Film a pretend commerical.

O and r at wf 1

Little Bear is all business when discussing yogurt.

Ask manager for permission to take video (on phone) while walking around the store. At home, make up a "script" and signs/props for commercial. Talk about what we like about Whole Foods. Record commercial to share with friends and family (language skills, reflection, creativity, oral presentation, diction).

Look for products from around the world.

Make a list of all the countries we find represented, and write down what products came from where. Use a world map to mark discovered countries. What country has the most products? Find out if there are available statistics for that information (ask manager). (geography, observation, communication/language, simple math, research skills)

Where are Whole Foods stores located across the US?

Research store chain locations - which state has the most stores? Look at US map as we research. (geography, observation, simple math)

How do receipts work?

How much money do we spend at Whole Foods? Look at receipt from recent visit, what does it show? Use cash to show the amount of money spent. (math skills, life skills, money management)

O and r at wf 3 

Earlybird and Little Bear on a recent trip to Whole Foods.

Visit a local farm that supplies food to Whole Foods.

Ask the store manager for a list of local suppliers. Visit one (or more) of the farms in the spring and ask about the farm-store connection. Calculate distance from farm to store - ask about how the food/items are transported. Take pictures and write up a "report." (social skills, communication, language, math, geography, community, environmental science)

Tour the individual store departments.

Visit the store and write down the name of each store department. Over following visits, investigate just one department at a time. What is the seafood counter all about? What can we find in the dairy? Talk to a staff member associated with that department - have some questions prepared. Make up a booklet at home describing the information and communication. Use photos, drawings and narration. (observation, list-making, language, organization, communication, social skills, creativity, memory/reflection)

Make up a Whole Foods cookbook.

As we visit the store through the year, keep note of what is in season when. Devise/collect recipes for seasonal foods (baked apples in winter, grilled corn in summer, etc.). Ask for a seasonal list of foods (if available) and use that as a guide. Keep all these recipes and information (along with pictures we take as we cook) in a binder. (observation, list making, language, creativity, communication, life skills, environmental science)

Make a well-balanced meal.

Plan out a healthy meal and write out a shopping list. Talk about how much we'll need, think about how many people will be eating the food. Make sure to include all food groups and talk about why that is important. Talk about the connection between good health and healthy food. Discuss how we feel after we eat a nutritious meal (energized? full?). (list-making, organization, language, decision making, science, healthy habits, self-awareness)

Practice time management.

Plan a very early trip to the store (like, 8 a.m.) and devise a plan for getting there on time. How early do we need to get up? What things have to happen before we can leave the house? What do we need to bring with us? Make a list and post it. On the day of the trip, time each activity that leads up to leaving the house. (life skills, time management, independence, responsibility)

O and r at wf

 EB can be a big help with his little brother. 

Rules are important.

Does Whole Foods have rules? Look at the entrance for any signs (no shirt/no shoes/etc.). Talk about why rules are important. What are some of our family/household's rules? (life skills, responsiblity, community living)

Write a poem about Whole Foods.

Brainstorm words about Whole Foods - nouns, adjectives, verbs, etc. Print out the words and cut out so that we have lots of single words on little pieces of paper. Play around with the words and make up rhymes. (language, creativity, grammar)

Conduct a taste test-survey.

Choose a sampling of foods (perhaps WF store brand vs. name brand or another store brand). Invite friends/family to try the foods (decide how best to do this - blindfolded?) and make a note of reactions. Tabulate "votes" and make up a graph to show survey results. (decision-making, organization, communication, math skills, creativity)

Host a Whole Foods party.

A nice late spring/early summer event - decide on date/time, plan out guest list, make invitations, devise menu, write out shopping list, create decorations, etc. (calendar skills, decision-making, communication, language, creativity, patience, social skills)

Have a meal at Whole Foods.

Our local Whole Foods has a cafe where patrons can buy drinks and snacks and enjoy them at a table. Plan an outing with Daddy for an early weekend morning (before it gets busy). What do we need (money)? How shoud we behave? After eating, give Daddy a tour of the store. (social skills, patience, money management, hygiene)

Plant a Whole Foods garden.

In the spring, notice the gardening items that Whole Foods offers: seeds, plants, tools. At home, plan out and create a small garden plan (pots, easy-to-grow items). Purchase seeds and small seedlings at Whole Foods. Peruse tools and other garden implements and decide if they are something we need or not. (list making, organization, environmental science, nature study, creativity, exercise/fresh air, decision making, money management)

Write a letter to Whole Foods.

Find out how to contact the "head' of Whole Foods (look online) and write a letter expressing our fondness for the store, as well as any suggestions or ideas. :) (language, creativity, research, social skills, life skills, US mail)

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Well, I guess I'd better stop there, because this post is getting awfully long! Thanks for letting me share all of this ... I hope maybe someone else finds it useful! Lots of ideas, and some of them will work better than others ... we will try them out over the next several months as opportunity (and energy) presents itself! And of course, I'll let you all know how it goes ...

Thanks so much for stopping by today ... have a good one, my friends, and I will see you all here again very soon!


Looking at Next Week

Happy Friday, my friends! It's time to start planning a new week!

New file folder 1

Lots going on next week - in our schedule, in our Faith, and in nature, too. And the week not only closes with Palm Sunday, but we celebrate a Papal Inauguration as well! How lovely is that?

So yesterday I pulled the folder shown above out of storage, attached a weekly planning page to its cover, and starting "thinking things out."

Here are my thoughts and ideas ... :)

Events/Days of Note

19 - St. Joseph's Day

19 - Papal Inauguration Mass

20 - Vernal Equinox

22 - Blogiversary (7 years!)

24 - Palm Sunday

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Dinner Menus

*Under construction - please see my Menu Monday post!

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To-Dos

Plan CCD finale/Palm Sunday party.

Order natural egg dye kit.

Buy white eggs.

Spring cleaning, con.

Make card for our pastor.

Finalize Easter menu.

Books to Request/Display

Song of the Swallows

The Spring Equinox

Mossy

Humphrey's First Palm Sunday

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Live/Love/Learn

Watch papal proceedings on tv on St. Joseph's Day; serve "sloppy joe empanadas" for supper and "dulce de leche" sundaes as a special "Argentinian" dessert. :)

Talk with boys about "Friends of St. Francis" badge program - brainstorm ideas.

Observe spring equinox: watch sunrise, start a pot of seeds, set out nesting materials.

Take a family Palm Sunday Praise Walk - look for pussy willows by river, stop by vernal pond, observe signs of new life.

Watch night sky for comet: use printable sky map.

Work on amphibians & reptiles study: visit pet store (ask questions, look at turtles, snakes, frogs, lizards), begin "pond watch" at home (listen for peepers), investigate back fence/woods for salamanders.

Set up spring nature table.

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So those are my notes for now ... they're just ideas and hopes, but the week will take its own shape and rhythm and we'll do our best to keep up. But I'm excited about all that's to come - it's a very special week in the year - one of my favorites!

Do you have any special activities in mind for next week? If you do, I'd love to hear about them!

Hope you all enjoy your Friday ... see you here again very soon!

**


Weekly Bits of Domestic Bliss

VH nest 1
Of Note

Winter Solstice (21st), Fourth Sunday in Advent (23rd)

Nature:

Alas, it's looking more and more like a green Christmas. After a chilly, rainy start the week, we may see some flurries over week's end.

The Solstice brings the shortest day of the year. We'll make time to watch (and record) the sunrise and sunset. We'll also make some homemade nutty-fruity treats for the birds & squirrels.

Housekeeping:

Finalize Christmas Eve/Day menus.

Order ham.

Major fridge clean-out.

Party food/libations shopping over weekend. 

Last batch of Christmas cards mailed out.

Write out checklist for pre-Christmas cleaning.

Organize Christmas outfits.

Christmas Baking later this week!

Last minute online orders.

Dinner Menus:

M - baked ziti, leftover meatballs (from EB's party), salad, toasted rolls

T - squash soup & grilled cheese/turkey panini (leftover deli from EB's party)

W - grilled chicken tenders, rice, roasted vegetables (leftovers make great wraps for lunch the next day)

T - homemade pizzas, tossed salads

F - Solstice Supper: beef cottage pie, solstice bread, spiced cider, lemon "sun" cake

S - *leftovers a la Daddy*

S - turkey meatloaf, mashed potatoes, green beans, corn muffins, cranberry sauce

Dear Baby ...

(17 Weeks)

You are a very active baby, my little one! I'm feeling lots of movement every day - little pops and twirls. Daddy and I were watching a documentary on The Beatles and you seemed particularly rambunctious! So much so that Daddy could feel you from the outside!

Mama has some labwork this week and we're praying everything is OK.

Learning Themes:

The Winter Solstice

"Animals of Christmas" continued - donkeys!

Excited About ~ Working On:

Watching Christmas specials with the kids, when it gets dark in the mid-afternoons. I love it when the house is lit only by Christmas lights.

Beginning my Winter Journal ... brainstorming homey, cozy thoughts for January and February. :)

Choosing/organizing a new 2013 calendar.

Making time for a Christmas "Tuesday Tea" this week, whether it's Tuesday or not.

Miscellaneous:

My heart is so heavy this morning, so full of sorrow over the tragedy in Sandy Hook. Praying for those dear little souls, such beautiful children ... I can think no further on it, nothing makes sense and it's all too terrible to process. Just feeling very protective of my own children and praying for all those involved, especially the families of those lost.

Angel ornament

Well my friends, I hope your week's going well ... thanks so much for stopping by today. I know we're all busy, especially as we enter this last week before Christmas, so posting will be slow for me ... but please know I am always thinking of you all and keeping you in my prayers.

And have yourselves a merry little Monday ...

 **


Weekly Bits of Domestic Bliss

VH nest 1
Of Note

Mum's birthday (26th), Cyber Monday (26th), A Charlie Brown Christmas on ABC (28th), Full Beaver Moon (28th), Feast of St. Andrew, Patron of Scotland (30th), B&N Educator Discount Day (1st), First Sunday in Advent (2nd)

Nature:

Quite chilly, in the 40s - mostly sunny. Flurries on Tuesday.

Beautiful bittersweet vines growing alongside the river out back.

Make plans (themes/practical considertations) for winter nature walks.

Watch for the full moon Wednesday night.

Housekeeping:

Put up Christmas decorations.

Do outdoor lights/decorations.

Begin online Christmas orders.

Organize boys' holiday outfits, haircuts.

Dinner Menus:

M - pesto pasta, crescent rolls (boys' fave), leftover meatballs

T - meatball/tortellini soup, garlic rolls

W - pulled chicken salad wraps, leftover soup

T - taco potatoes (ground turkey), fiesta salads

F - homemade pizza night, raw veggies/dip

S - *takeout*

S - pork roast, potatoes & squash, apple-cheddar muffins

Desserts: Scottish shortbread, oatmeal-fruit cookies, peppermint-brownie sundaes (Sunday Sundaes)

Dear Baby ...

(14 Weeks)

I felt you move for the first time on Thanksgiving morning! Oh my, what a wonderful feeling!

Feeling much less nausea these days! Just a little when I take my prenatal vitamin and sometimes around suppertime.

Keeping to home as much as possible - a quiet schedule helps my energy level!

Earlybird has noticed Mama's belly, but when he asked "What's wrong with your belly?" and I answered, "Well, it's getting kind of big, isn't it?" he simply shrugged and said, "Yeah, wow!" Nothing else, lol.

Learning Themes:

Waiting for Winter

"Animals of Christmas"

Work on using nice language - how we speak matters.

Christmas "food shopping" lists with EB.

Excited About ~ Working On:

A simple, peaceful Advent ~ reducing noise and clutter, both visual and auditory.

Bill set up "Classical Christmas" music for me on my phone - I park it on the kitchen counter with little speakers ... soothing background music for this time of year.

Miscellaneous:

Bring home the tree this weekend!

Address/stamp Christmas cards.

Watch Take Peace: A Corgi Cottage Christmas (on loan from library).

Brainstorm "teacher gifts" with the boys.

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Happy Tuesday, my friends! I hope your week is off to a great start! I apologize I am so behind on comment replies ... I will be catching up over the next few days. (I always seem to think I have much more time (and energy) than I actually do!) I truly appreciate the time and thought you put into your messages. :)

Well, have yourselves a good day ... I will see you here again very soon!


Milkweed & Monarchs

It's that time of year again! There are Monarchs in the air, and milkweed blooms by the roadside ...

Here's a neat little article from the Mass. Audubon Society, reminding us to plant and protect this V.I.P. (very important PLANT), and here's a page on the milkweed's greatest fan, the Monarch Butterfly. And finally, here's a link to a post I wrote last fall on our own Monarch experience, sad though it was ...

Monarch 1

Mid-to-late summer is a great time of year to study butterflies, since they're so readily available to observe. If you don't often see them in your yard, a trip to any nature center or state park would provide you with plenty of specimens to admire ...

For nature study, a small journal could be filled with sketches, photographs, a design for a butterfly garden, a record of "butterfly sightings" and even poems collected or created. And there are so many crafts you could do!

But now that the milkweed is blooming, perhaps a focus on Monarchs would be fun? Their fall migration begins next month, so the time is ripe for monarch observation. I spotted several of them yesterday at the state park (though I only got one fuzzy picture). They're so large and striking - a bright blip in the blue sky, like the fiery summer sun itself.

You probably have your own favorite butterfly books, but here are a few of our favorites:

Monarch books 1

Monarch and Milkweed by Helen Frost

Monarch books 2

Monarch Butterfly by Gail Gibbons

Monarch books 3

An Extraordinary Life by Laurence Pringle

Monarch books 4

Hurry and the Monarch by Antoine O Flatharta

(That last title we've actually not read - but I just made a request at the library!)

Well, my friends, I hope your week's going well. Is it Tuesday already? Goodness, time flies - especially summer-time it seems. We'll be busy at home today, preparing a few gifts for Bill - whose birthday it is, tomorrow. Something to cook, something to craft ... I'm sure you'll be hearing about that before long. :)

But before I go, may I ask you a quick question?

What was the last butterfly you saw? And where did you see it? If you have time, please leave a comment below!

Until next time, I leave you with my sincere thanks for reading, and a promise to see you again soon!

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