Black cats and 3-D ghosts

It’s been quite awhile since we could spread out and paint, and I am so excited that we can! I found two wooden ghosts at Target for the boys to paint and I completed a little canvas I have been working on. My canvas was a black cat that I sketched:

Did an initial painting:

And then completed with the boys during their project:

And the boys enjoyed painting their ghosts:

They painted one side that night and then completed the other side the next day:


However, they dry pretty quickly (if you use thin layers of paint), so you could paint them and wait an hour or so and then paint the other side. They have made for fun new Halloween decor:

The boys enjoyed it so much that I picked up wooden leaves from Target online and I have a decoupage idea for November!

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First day of school surprises

Well it’s not the beginning of the year I (or any of us probably) could have ever predicted, but we are going to attempt to create as normal of a school year start as we possibly can. The boys will be starting the first nine weeks remotely which means we spent this past week and weekend making sure the kids could access their learning platforms and necessary resources to start the school year. Each of the boys has a weekly schedule that looks like this:

I have written on it when each “live” teacher session is, so they are prepared to switch at each time. In addition, I created a “master schedule” on card stock and laminated it for them that essentially plans out their school day from start to end. We also made a master copy of things like passwords and other login information so we can find things quickly. I always pick up some sort of back to school surprises for the boys, and this year was no exception:


They are each getting a lap desk to give them space to work elsewhere if they get tired of sitting at their desk, a new little peep to cheer them on, and a stack of new books since reading is an assignment in both of their classes. A is in middle school now (I can hardly believe it!), so J is the only one still in elementary with one teacher. I got his teacher this year a book stack as well, because I know she likes reading!

And in another move of the weird year this is, I haven’t been school supply shopping yet! I had general supplies left over from the Spring for the boys, so we are starting with those. I’m checking each of A and J’s syllabi as they become available and I’m making a master list to order it all from Target (and the music book and stand from Amazon) tonight.

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Blevins Gap Nature Preserve

Nestled behind one of our local churches, this hiking preserve has three different trailheads ranging from very easy and family friendly, to much more elevated and advanced. Since we were testing it out for the first time we did the straightforward Jones Valley loop:

This little loop is a walk around a long stream.

It is only about a mile from start to finish and great for younger kiddos, or ones who love looking for rocks and minerals like J:

It’s beautifully shaded, and the light streams through the trees while you’re walking which is really fun to see:

At about the halfway point of the loop, there is a fork in the trail that takes you up an incline of the Bailey Cove Trail portion. In addition, at the very beginning of the trailhead is the Fanning trail which is a 3.8 mile trail that is a much steeper elevation. We were not prepared for that trail, but have plans to go back and do it in the future. All three are great hikes for the weekend!

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Kandinsky and 2D Shapes

Now that we are in Summer mode we are still working on some “learning things”, but at a much slower and more creatively driven pace. We did a Kandinsky art study about six years ago (it didn’t seem that long ago, but it’s true I looked it up), and it was one of the boys’ favorites. I found a Kandinsky project on Momfessionals and decided it would be fun to revisit the artist with a new project. We watched several of the videos Andrea references in her post, and then completed our project while listening to different classical music songs on Spotify.

We also watched several Khan Academy videos on 2D shapes while we worked, and we went through story time readings of Michael Hall books (The Perfect Square, My Heart is Like a Zoo), and books about crayons (The Day the Crayons Quit, Red by Michael Hall, The Day the Crayons Came Home).

The boys decided to do different shapes other than circles which were really fun:

We kept the crafting going by making Hey Clay snails with cool spiraled shells that are reminiscent of Kandinsky’s circles:

We had such a fun time revisiting art study, I’m already working on some other projects for the upcoming weeks!

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Hey Clay Art

I bought this weeks ago when I saw it on an Instagram post and J finally noticed it in the box of educational and art supply items I have at my parents’ house. He got it out on Friday and is already asking what box we can get after he finishes all of the clay models in this box, so I definitely think it’s a hit. Here’s a little bit more about it…

Each set comes with the clay you need to make all of the characters on the front of the box. You do need to have a tablet or phone to download the App to get the instructions for making the characters. There is a code in the box that allows you to access all of the character models for your box.

The App is very interactive and takes you step by step through the process of making your selected creation.

The clay is a bit of a hybrid between Play-Doh and foam. It is not as messy or sticky as Play-Doh.

Once you complete your creation you just leave it out to dry (no baking, etc.) and it will harden into a toy structure that can be played with.

It’s a fun activity for a rainy day, or when you are taking a break from pool time!

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Make a Zentangle: Art Project for Kids

The boys’ art teacher has been uploading art videos on YouTube and they have been working their way through them. This week they did Make a Zentagle which was a great project that they were able to follow and complete all on their own while watching the video.

A zentagle uses different patterns to teach line, form, and strokes to create a series of connected images. You can see their in progress here:

Here is more information about the method if you want to discuss it further with your kiddos. And if they are really excited, check out this excerpt from Khan Academy that discusses Shape and form in Pixar in a Box.

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Daily schedule and routine


As I mentioned in Friday Favorites, last week was our first week of true online learning provided by the school, and we had started out with a schedule for that week. I have now modified the schedule for this week, and am sharing it, as well as, some of the things I have been supplementing with the school learning, and things that have made our day and week easier.

Before we started online learning through the school, I assumed A would need more things to supplement, and J would need more assistance and time on assignments. However, I learned the first day that it was the exact opposite. A was taking longer than his scheduled time on every assignment, and J only needed about twenty minutes of his allotted hour to complete his online work. Which meant A was panicking that he didn’t have enough time and J was spinning his wheels. So this lead to a few adjustments in the schedule.

Each kiddo has a schedule that has the list of tasks and they check off as they go. For A’s schedule (top schedule) I kept it pretty similar to the first week, but took out any extra activities. For J’s schedule (bottom schedule) I added in more activities and we also included some of the daily things he did everyday at school (spelling, sentence correction, etc.):

My hope is that this will keep J more occupied, and give A more time to complete his main assignments. In addition to their schedule that they can color in when complete, we have a master schedule, so we know who has scheduled work meetings, when I’m working out, and who’s in charge of dinner, etc. J most loved last week when I added in daily work that reminded him of school, including this stellar journal entry on carpenter bees:

He was so proud and read it to me after he had combed his hair:

One of the things I’ve done that has made our mornings so much easier is setting up my iPad while they eat breakfast. They watch clips from Disney Imagineering, Cincinnati Zoo animals, Bill Nye, or stories being read from their teachers. The boys argued a lot at breakfast (even before we were at home all the time), and this has made a world of difference:

I also have the boys set up in two different rooms. I really need to be able to listen to J’s lessons, so I can answer questions if he has them, and A’s lessons are also longer. So, A is set-up in his bedroom:

And J is set-up in our study:

This gives them some space, and makes it easier to designate learning areas to help them focus. In addition, I also added in Gold Friday’s for the boys where they get to watch movies in the afternoon:

I get to pick the movie (otherwise they’d be watching The Mandalorian or Mickey Mouse shorts over and over, or arguing over who got to pick what), so last week I picked Disneynatures’s Penguin, which was a huge hit. We will test the schedule out this week and see how it goes!

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Dino footprint cookies

The boys have been doing Scholastic Learn at Home as part of their weekly learning plan, and after Aidan watched Week 2 Day 7, he asked if we could make the Dino footprint cookies from the lesson. This weekend we had a chance to make them and they are tasty and fun to make! Aidan did the majority of the work:


J helped as well (and loaned his Dino to use):

And after they were done we enjoyed them outside!

They are similar in texture and taste to slice and bake cookies, and have the flavor of a snickerdoodle. I don’t know how long they last, as ours were all eaten in two days! You could also combine it with this classic dinosaur lesson I did with the boys! Enjoy!

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Benjamin Franklin Study

So if you remember way back to last summer, I talked about doing a Benjamin Franklin learning plan with two new Magic Treehouse books that came out last July. While we did get the books, we did not get around to completing the plan, and this past week seemed like a good opportunity to do it. The boys swapped books during their reading times during the week and then took Accelerated Reading quizzes on both (they can do AR at home right now).

Then I had them complete two worksheets, one a simple word search, and the other an invention idea:

We flew kites and talked about why the kite is associated with Benjamin Franklin:

And I had the boys look up Benjamin Franklin in A’s American History Smithsonian book and read the passage aloud and send me a picture of the passage from their iPad (there was no reason for this besides they thought it was cool):

And made some inventions of our own with LEGOs:

This was not something we did in one day. I created the plan and we just worked on it throughout the week. With the amount of online learning they are doing and will most likely continue to do, I’m trying to mix in things that take them outside of that a bit.

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Online learning with kids

And here we go. We are officially out of school, teleworking, and “social distancing” for at least three weeks. As I’m thinking you may also be in the same boat as we are, I wanted to share our schedule, plan, and some of our favorite online learning resources to keep the boys engaged and us on our work schedules for the next several weeks.

First up here is our daily schedule:

And their academic and creative idea plan:

Here are some great resources to see if your school has access:

Scholastic Online

ABC Mouse

Adventure Academy

Reading IQ

Home Learning

And check out some of our favorite summer learning ideas (including Pixar in a Box, and dos computer games):

Summer 2014

Summer 2017

Summer 2018

Summer 2019

And for art appreciation days check out some of our classics:

String art

Primary colors





And check out for online live posts at different places across the United States:

The Cincinnati Zoo on Facebook Live at 3:00 p.m. EST every weekday.

The National Gallery of Art has virtual tours of different exhibits in the museum.

The Louvre has virtual tours of different exhibits in the museum.

Check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s animals live at times listed on their website.

And finally, our library is going to be doing story time on You Tube while they are closed! The boys are too old for this, but story time was the cornerstone of our week from when they were babies to kindergarten.

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