My Love Affair With the Instant Pot

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I am seriously in love with my Instant Pot. I have been wanting one for the longest time but as a frugal mama, on a budget, the cost has kept me from running out and grabbing one. That is until a few weeks ago when I had enough money left in my grocery budget to finally make the jump and purchase the famed pressure cooker. This turned out to be the best investment I have made in a long time and I am kicking myself for not getting one sooner. If you are sitting on the fence and wondering if it is worth it to throw down $80 for this product then let me assure you that it absolutely is especially if you are wrangling a busy family that is always on the run.

You can find millions of recipes on Pinterest and the Instant Pot comes with a small recipe guide to get you going. They also have a whole line of cookbooks featuring a variety of different styles of cooking as well as recipes geared towards those with dietary restrictions. It truly is a miracle machine you can whip up tender fluffy rice, cook a soup or a roast and you can even bake a cake. Today I made Sesame Chicken and the chicken was so tender it practically melted in my mouth. That Sesame Chicken took me less than 15 mins to make from start to finish which is faster than ordering pizza or grabbing something in the drive-thru. We haven’t grabbed takeout or ordered a pizza since I bought the Instant Pot and that used to be a once a week occurrence. This means that not only has it saved me time but it will save me money.

Yes, I am a nerd and I know how weird I sound but I love things that make my life a little less chaotic. This is my honest review of the Instant Pot and I am not being paid or sponsored to write this post. Seriously though if you are looking for something that will help you cook meals faster without compromising on that home cooked quality than an Instant Pot is what you need. Now that I have poured out my heart and confessed my love affair with my Instant Pot I am going head off to bed and dream of the many recipes I can whip up for my family in the near future.

Fun Fall Science Lab

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I often encounter those who are skeptical that homeschooling is a legitimate form of education. One of the concerns that are often brought up is that my kids won’t have a well-rounded education in science because we do not have access to a science lab for experiments. This is really funny to me because when you think back to your school days how many of us were actually exposed to a state of the art science lab. Typically, science teachers had to make do with their desks or a small table within the classroom to showcase an experiment. I didn’t step foot into a science lab until high school when I took Chemistry and we only used the lab so that we could have access to the bunsen burners.

While I would love a home science lab; I like many teachers across the world utilize the space I have and it has worked out pretty good. In fact, my kids have participated in hundreds of science experiments and activities right at our kitchen table. My homeschooled children have had more opportunities to participate in science experiments than their friends and cousins who attend traditional brick and mortar schools. In fact, my oldest niece who is in high school has never been able to participate in a science experiment. She has had the opportunity to observe but due to budget and time constraints at her school, she has not been able to actively participate. Now I will admit it is fun to watch science experiments but the learning that occurs when you actually get to fully participate is priceless.

Today we piled around our kitchen table to explore “Why Leaves Change Colors”. I found this fun science lab on education.com called Leaf Chromatography. Basically, we have separated the different pigments from leaves to see what colors are present. We then read through a few handouts I found online that explains why each of those pigments is present. To help us fully understand why leaves change color we also sat down and read a great book written by Betsy Maestro titled Why Do Leaves Change Color?. Whenever I do any type of Science experiment or activity I try to follow up with additional materials to reinforce the concepts we learned. You don’t need a lot of money, a fancy science lab or a masters degree in science to provide your children with a quality science education. I will link the resources we used today below in case you want to give this lab a try with your kids.

https://www.esf.edu/pubprog/brochure/leaves/leaves.htm

http://eekwi.org/veg/trees/treestruecolor.htm

https://www.education.com/science-fair/article/find-color-pigments-hidden-green/

 

Fun, Free and Spooktacular!

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I can’t believe that its already the middle of October! Halloween is only 21 days away and we are working hard to fit in a ton of fun and spooktacular activities. This morning we ventured to Blue Creek Metropark in Northwest Ohio for a nature scavenger hunt where we also hunted for leaves. We really had a blast and I love getting outdoors with my little ones and making memories with them. Not only did we have fun but we learned how to identify the leaves we found on the ground and we discussed how and why the leaves change colors. We collected a number of leaves for a science experiment that I have planned for later in the week where we will use Chromatography to separate the different pigmentations in the leaves. I will share more information about this experiment later this week in case you want to try this with your little ones.

Today though I do have something fun to share with you and your family and its a great worksheet from Education.com. I absolutely love this website and we print worksheets and lessons from them all the time. A few months ago I was allowed to share a fun math worksheet and was beyond thrilled when they asked if my readers might be interested in Halloween themed worksheet.  If you haven’t had the opportunity to check out Education.com I strongly urge you to click the link below to see all that they have to offer. Whether you are a full-time homeschooler or perhaps looking for supplementary worksheets you will be amazed by the variety and quality of the content on their website. In the meantime enjoy this fun, free and spooktacular treat from Education.com.

 

Find the spooky words in this Halloween word search from Education.com! Find more fun language arts games here.

word search_halloween

word search_halloween_answers

 

 

Baa Baa Black Bat

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Baa Baa Black Bat

Have you any bugs?

Yes sir, yes sir, 3 bags full.

One for the bird

One for the cat

One for the little spider

who lives down the lane.

*Original written by Rudyard Kipling
*Adaptation written byThe Derryberry Kids 🙂

This time of year I like to pile the kids in the car and take a drive in the country so we can enjoy the changing scenery. Seeing the trees turn various shades of yellow, gold and red is truly magical and it is a great way to spend a fall afternoon. A couple of years ago during one of our fall drives the kids reworked Baa Baa Black Sheep and made a Halloween version featuring a bat. Ever since then it has become one of their favorite Halloween rhymes. I really enjoy this and it always amazes me how creative and imaginative my kids can be with just a little encouragement.

 

Has your family reworked a classic rhyme, poem or song?

 

 

Happy October

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Fall is fully underway here in Northwest Ohio. The colors are beginning to change and while our days are still warm the temps are falling at night allowing for restful sleep. Fall is really my favorite time of year and we are only 30 days away to one of my favorite holidays, Halloween.  We love Halloween and we celebrate all fall with fun Halloween activities, crafts, and decorations. Today we spent our morning decorating our front porch with a creepy scene and later this afternoon we will begin to decorate our classroom a.k.a dining room. While we enjoy the creep factor on the outside of our house inside we like to keep our Halloween decorations cute and festive.

I love Halloween themed worksheets, activities, and events to help keep our homeschooling fun. Madlibs are great to include in your language arts lessons and we like to do them as a group so everyone can get involved in the fun. I will include a link to a fun Madlib offered by education.com titled Zombie Story at the end of this post. I am working on putting together a resource list with additional Halloween activities and crafts for you and your family to enjoy. I am hoping to have that posted in the next couple of days. I will also post some pictures of our decorations so you can see how crazy we are about Halloween and fall:).

Do you have a special way of celebrating Halloween? What is your favorite fall activity? Do you incorporate the holidays into your homeschool curriculum?

 

https://www.education.com/worksheet/article/zombie-story/

 

Homeschooling: Business 101

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Hello, today I wanted to share how I am introducing my kids to Business 101.

One of the benefits of homeschooling is that I am able to incorporate real-life experiences into our daily lessons. Recently I joined Avon as an Independent Sales Representative and this has been such a great experience. When you are an Avon Representative you are given the resources and the training you need to build a successful business. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to share this information as well as my personal knowledge of sales, marketing and accounting with my kids. Now I am not trying to direct my children into the field of sales. Instead, I am providing them with information and skills that they can add to their virtual backpacks. Skills that one day may serve to be useful.

So you may be wondering how I am incorporating my business into our homeschool and I will explain. Basically, I am openly sharing and discussing my business with them and getting their help with certain tasks. For instance, when my first order arrived I had the kids locate the invoice and together we checked our order to make sure it was complete and accurate. I then had them help me match the products to the order forms so that we could distribute them to the correct clients. They have also helped me design flyers and brainstorm marketing ideas. It has been a fun experience and while some of their ideas have been a bit wacky (i.e dropping brochures from a helicopter), the fact that they are excited and interested is great. My hope is that they will not only learn a little about business, sales, and marketing but they will also see how hard work can be used to achieve goals.

Avon has been a great vehicle to teach my kids about business but you don’t have to start a business to pass this knowledge onto your kids. Another way to teach Business 101 to your homeschoolers is to have your kids set up a mock business and build a portfolio with a business plan (goals and action plan for business). You could have them create their own business cards, flyers, and products (i.e. lego or clay model, drawing, computerized image). Help them research how to start a business, what it takes to make a business profitable and what regulations would affect their business. Depending on your child’s age you could customize this to suit their unique skill set and learning style.

The most important thing to remember is to make the process fun because learning should be fun!

 

Interested in becoming a Beauty Boss? Visit https://www.youravon.com/becomeARep?siteid=avon&p=BaRTop&c=BaRTop&s=BaRTop&shopURL=HecticEclecticMama

 

A Dialogue clock???

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I recently had a young woman in her early twenties confess that she didn’t know what time it was because she couldn’t read a “dialogue” clock. At first I was stumped by this statement then I realized that she meant an analog clock. I was honestly a little shocked that someone in their early twenties was still unable to tell time but apparently the school she went to didn’t spend a lot of time on this and most of the clocks she encounters are digital. As a homeschooling mom I was overcome with an intense urge to teach this young woman how to correctly tell time using an analog clock.

Unfortunately, she was not interested; explaining that she had made it this far without any issues and as long as she had her cell phone she could usually keep track of the time. She then tells me that she is too old now to learn new things and it is easier to just accept that there are things that she doesn’t understand. This interaction left me feeling helpless and upset and I tried to explain to her that you are never too old to learn new things. In fact not only are you never to old to learn but every day you should set forth to learn something new.

This encounter has made me wonder how many people graduate from high school missing basic skills that should have been learned during their elementary days. What is most troubling is that many of these individuals are completely capable of learning these skills but limit their own potential due to lack of self esteem. Why is there this idea that once we hit a certain age we are no longer required to learn or that we are unable to learn?

The best gift you can give any child is to teach them how to be life long learners. Teach your children that they are never too old to master new skills and that they are capable of so many things. When it comes to those who have given up on learning perhaps we can inspire them to look at life and learning in a different way. I hope maybe this young woman heard the words I spoke and took them to heart. I hope that one day she realizes that she is a smart and capable individual and that she will never be too old to learn.