Santa Claus

Santa Claus, illustrated by Thomas Nast 1
Did you know…

Father Christmas, Pere Noel, Befana, Kris Kringle, Hoteisho, Sinterklas, and Saint Nicholas are just a few of the many names Santa Claus is known by around the world!

Activity: Heart-faced Santa

Santa's Elves

Christmas Shape Elf by Fran W.
Did you know…

Santa's elves are magical
beings that make toys and help around the North Pole!

Activity: Make a Christmas shape elf


Two Scottish Reindeer Photo by Adrian Pingstone
Did you know...

Reindeer are also known as caribou!

Today’s Activity: Caribou Diorama

Make your own: Candy Countdown Calendar

It's a fun family tradition to count our way down to any one of our favorite

If you enjoy counting down any of your favorite holidays, then here is a creative way to make your own seasonal countdown calendar!

You will need:

A large recycled cereal, frozen pizza, or cracker box
Construction paper
White glue
Hole punch
Bag of your favorite foil-wrapped candy such as Hershey Kisses, peanut butter cups, mints, etc.

Optional Items: Basic craft supplies (Glitter, paper punches, stencils, etc.)

Tip: Oak-tag board or any strong paper can be used in place of a recycled box.

The Mayflower

"Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor" by William Halsall

Did you know…

Christopher Jones was the owner and captain of the Mayflower, until his death in 1622! 

It took the Mayflower 66 days to sail from Plymouth, England to Plymouth, Massachusetts, America!

Activity: Following the Mayflower's Journey

Wild Turkeys

Photo by Riki7
Did you know…

Benjamin Franklin wanted our national bird to be a turkey!

Today’s Activities:
Hand and foot turkey and Writing with a feather

The 3 Sisters: Squash - Pumpkins

Did you know…

Native Americans called pumpkins, "isqoutm squash"

Recipe: Original Pumpkin Pie (with a modern twist) and Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

The Three Sisters: Beans

Mixed bean soup by Fran W

Did you know…
There are over a 1000 varieties of beans in the world!

Activities: Bean soup and Grow a bean plant

The Three Sisters: Corn

Cornbread with homemade butter by Fran W.
Did you know…

"Maize" is another name for corn!

Corn comes in a variety of colors such as: red, blue, white, yellow, purple, pink and black!

Activity: Cornbread with fresh butter

The Three Sisters: Introduction

2009 US coin
featuring Three Sisters 
Did you know…

Native Americans called corn, beans, and squash the "three sisters"!

Do you know the "three sisters"?

The first sister is corn, she grows tall and strong and helps the second sister, bean, by allowing her vines to climb up her stalk. In return, bean gives corn the nutrients she needs to grow. Squash is the third sister and she grows low to the ground, throughout the corn field. Her large leaves help to keep the weeds under control and the soil moist.


Lever style voting machine displayed at
National Museum of American History
The History of Voting

Did you know…

Election day takes place on the first Tuesday after the first Monday of the month of November!

Activity:  Watch Schoolhouse Rock: Electoral College video

Inspiring People: Cardstacker

Photo by Kevin Lam from Vancouver, Canada

Guinness World Record holder, Bryan Berg is a self-taught cardstacker. He builds amazing structures out of plain old playing cards.
He doesn't bend or fold the cards, nor does he use tape or glue to keep them together. 
You have got to see the AWESOME things he can build in order to believe it!

Spark of the Day: Words within Words

Fun Magnified
Here's a fun game that you can never out grow, you just make it more challenging each time you play! Finding words within words has become a fun family favorite in our home, and I hope it will be the same in yours!

What you will need:

Lined paper, a pencil and a dictionary or a spell checker

What to do:

Spark of the Day: Halloween Scavenger Hunt and Memory Maker

Cauldron by Fran W.
Have you decided what you are going to do this Halloween? Do you know where you are going, who you are going with and what you are going to do?

Maybe you are going to a party or going trick or treating, perhaps you are going to walk around the neighborhood and give out candy to trick or treaters!

Whatever you have decided to do, why not make the day a little more interesting by go on a Halloween scavenger hunt? This activity can be done as a family or as an individual.

To get things started you will need:

Trick or Treating

Soul Cakes by Fran W.
As a Halloween custom in Scotland and Ireland, children would disguise themselves in costumes and go door to door for food and coin. This tradition was called 'guising'!

Activity: Soul Cakes

Jack O' Lanterns

Photo by Jackins
Did you know…

Before coming to America, the Irish carved lanterns out of turnips and potatoes. When they figured out that pumpkins were easier to carve, they switched!

Play a game of Pumpkin Face

Make Your Own: Trick or Treat Bag

Trick or Treat Bag by Fran W
Halloween is the biggest candy holiday in America!

How is your trick or treater going to carry around their share of the 600 million pounds of candy purchased each Halloween?

How about making a durable trick or treat bag to help them carry all their loot?

To make this trick or treat bag, you will need:

2 paper grocery bags, hot glue, 10" nylon rope (a clothes line will work too), scissors and craft supplies such as: acrylic paint, a paint brush, construction paper, stickers, glitter, crayons, markers, etc.

Masquerade Masks

Demi-Mask by Fran W.
Did you know…

Adults dressed up in costumes for Halloween and Masquerade parties long before children did!

Activity: Make a Demi-Mask

Template available
 on Fran's World Yahoo! Group
To make the mask you will need:

Mask template, card stock or a cereal box, scissors, hot glue, white glue, 1/4" elastic band, and /or wooden chop stick or a dowel of similar size, craft knife, and a hole punch

To decorate the mask you will need:

Any craft supplies desired: feathers, ribbon, glitter, sequins, paint, paint brushes, markers, colored pencils, aluminum foil, crayons, stickers, and white glue

Spark of the Day: Create A Spooky Sound Sentence or Story

Image by digitalart
Free Digital Photos
Begin by thinking of as many spooky sounds as you can. If you need help, here are some suggestions:

A ghost moaning, bat screeching, wolf or coyote howling, door creaking, howling wind, hissing cat, screeching owl, squeaking mouse, creaking tree, scream, weird laugh, thunder, groan, roar, tree scraping the window, door slamming, leaves swirling in the breeze, crow cawing, a rodent scurrying, owl hooting, water dripping, rain falling, and anything else you can think of!

Create your sentence or story.....

Ghost in the Graveyard - Game

Ghost in the Graveyard is a tag-like game that can be played with many players or just a few. It is best played at twilight into night, but it can also be played during the day.

Paper Bag Ghosts

Girl Ghost
To make these ghosts you will need:
A white paper lunch bag, newspaper, chenelle stem, packing tape, black marker, construction paper, scissor, and white glue
Tip: If you do not have a white paper bag, paint a brown lunch bag white.

Girl ghost:
Boy Ghost
Stuff a lunch bag 3/4 of the way full with newspaper, twist the rest of the bag and tie it off with a white chenelle stem and make a bow with the rest of it, put a face on your ghost with black marker and either leave it the way it is, or make arms and legs with the construction paper.
Boy ghost:
Follow the instructions above but instead of twisting the top, fold it down and tape it closed.

Balloon Ghost

Balloon Ghost
To make this ghost you will need:
9" white balloon, 13 gallon kitchen garbage bag, rubber band, scissor, black permanent marker, a paper clip and a small ceiling hook
What to do:
Blow up balloon about 3/4 of the way, put it inside the garbage bag, tie it off in the middle with a rubber band. Put a face on the ghost with permanent marker and put a paper clip through the back of the bag to hang - be careful not to pop the balloon while adding the paper clip!
Hang in a corner with a small ceiling hook.

Alternate use: It's lots of fun to play with the Balloon Ghost by throwing it around, just leave the hook off.
Warning: Young children should be supervised while playing with the Balloon Ghost.

Recycled Ghost

Recycled Ghost by Fran W.
Here's a fun way to use recyclables for the Halloween season!

You will need:

A plastic lid from a quart-sized take-out, sour cream or yogurt container, a recycled store bag, a rubber or elastic hair band or twist tie, a black permanent marker, scissor, and a paper clip

What to do:

Put a lid inside the bag, tie off the bag at the bottom of the lid with a hair band or twist tie, and add a face with permanent marker.
To hang the ghost, open a paper clip and push it through the top of the bag to form a hook.
Use a scissor to cut long strips from the bottom of the bag toward the tie.
Hang your ghost inside or out!

Here are more Ghostly Activities that can be found on Fran's World of Discovery:

Connect with Fran's World of Discovery!

Super Easy Ghost

To make this ghost you will need:

A white paper lunch bag, a black marker, and a scissor

Tip: If you do not have a white paper bag, paint a brown lunch bag white.

What to do:

While the bag is closed, cut triangles out of the bottom, and draw a face on the front of the bag, then open the bag up and use your fist and hand to shape the bottom of the bag into a head.

Ghostly Activities that can be found on Fran's World of Discovery:


Big-eared townsend-fledermaus from
Did you know…

The saying, "blind as a bat" is very misleading because none of the over 1200 species of bats are blind!

Activity: Sound Games

Make Your Own: Easy Gravestone

To make an easy gravestone you will need:

Any cardboard box such as a cereal or a cracker box
Gray construction paper or gray tissue paper
Black acrylic paint
Foam Brush
Foam stickers (Halloween and letters)
White glue
Packing tape

Optional Items: Ruler, pencil, gray acrylic paint, hot glue

What to do:

Black Cats

Black Cat photo from Wikipedia
In some countries, black cats are considered bad luck, while in others they are a symbol of good luck!

To learn more about the history of black cats, and how and why they have a good or bad reputation, read: Wikipedia: Black Cat

During the Middle Ages, cats effected the start and outcome of the Black Plague. Cats: Heroes During the Black Plague explains how this happened.

Cats have an interesting history dating back to Ancient Egyptian times! Read, A Short History of the Domestication of the Cat to learn why cats were highly regarded some of the time, and treated unfairly at other times.

Cats in general are well known for their great sense of balance. See how well you can balance with these activities!

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

Boris Karloff from ''Frankenstein''
Photo from Wikipedia
Mary Wollstonecraft, was born August 30, 1797, and became Mary Shelley after marrying Percy Shelley at the age of 19. Her husband was a poet and knew Lord Byron, who was also a poet. While at Lord Byron's home, Byron suggested that he and his guests write horror stories and share them. Upon that suggestion, Mary Shelley wrote the story of Frankenstein, and when it was published in 1818, it became a great success. Mary Shelley wrote other stories, but none of them were ever as successful as Frankenstein. Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly died, February 1, 1851 of brain cancer.

Make Your Own: Haunted House

Haunted House by Fran W.
What would Halloween be without a creepy old haunted house?

To make one you will need:

A clean 1/2 gallon carton (milk, juice, tea, etc.), construction paper, scissors, Halloween stickers, glue, markers, paint and paint brush
Optional: Craft knife, yellow tissue paper, glow stick or battery powered candle, old magazines, clipart

Make Your Own: Net-Bag

Photo by Fran Wisniewski

The nicest thing about this net is that there is a working string on it so that you can close what you catch inside the bag long enough to get a good look at it. When you are finished observing, you can open the net and set what you catch free.

To make this net-bag, you will need:

Make Your Own: Trail Mix

Trail Mix
Photo from Wikipedia
To make your own trail mix you will need: A cereal of choice, unsalted nuts and seeds (raw or roasted: almonds, cashews, pecans, sunflower seed, etc.), raisins, unsalted peanuts, chopped dates, dried fruit of choice, pretzels, chocolate chips (optional)


Make Your Own: Child Friendly First-Aid Kit

Kid-friendly First Aid Kit by Fran W.

A small first-aid kit is good to carry when you are exploring the great outdoors, even if it is in your own backyard! This kit has been designed for children to carry with them in their nature backpack and does not include any medicine or harmful chemicals. Children should know how to use the items in this kit properly before going out.

The following materials can be used to: remove splinters, take care of minor cuts and scraps, relieve bee/wasp stings and to stabilize minor sprains. If you feel that your child is ready, encourage them to take first aid classes through the Red Cross and purchase a commercial outdoor first aid kit for them.  
This kit should not be expected to take the place of a medical professional. In the event of a real emergency, your child should know when to call 911 and/or seek medical attention.

You will need:

Make Your Own: Nature Backpack

Nature Backpack by Fran W.

If your family is going out to explore the world around them, a nature backpack is a great thing to grab as you are running out the door!

You may be wondering what a nature backpack is and what's in it?

A nature backpack is bag filled with useful items that you can take with you whenever your family goes out exploring. Children can fill their own backpacks up with the items that they want to take with them as well.

Here are some of the things we add to our backpacks:

Spark of the Day: Pom - Pom Shooter

Pom-Pom Shooter by Fran W.
Here's a great way to turn simple items into a fun activity!

Items Needed:

Toilet paper tube, 12" balloon, packing or duct tape, scissor, pom-poms, a large container and recycled plastic water bottles or yogurt containers 
Optional items:  A measuring tape, paper, and pencil

What to do:


Bubble Gum by Fran W.
The first bubblegum was invented in 1906 by Frank H. Fleer and was called Blibber-Bubble. The gum was never marketed to the public.

Today’s Activity: The Biggest Bubble

Chewing Gum

Chewing Gum by Fran W.

Today’s Topic: Chewing Gum

Did you know…

Prehistoric man chewed on a lump of tree resin

Today’s Activity: Chewing Gum Experiment

Water Balloons

Water Balloons by Fran W.
The water balloon was the end result of an invention gone wrong!

Water Balloon Toss Game

You'll need:

Water balloons, water source, water balloon nozzle (optional, but it makes filling balloons easier), a bucket to hold filled balloons, bathing suit or clothing you do not mind getting wet, and a towel

What to do:

The Circle

Bird w/flower Make with circles
Did you know…

The word circle derives from the Greek word kirkos

Activity: Circle scenes

Watermelon Day

There are more than 1200 varieties of watermelons in the world.

Activity: Watermelon Carving

Not only is watermelon a sweet delicious treat to eat, it can be transformed into amazingly creative things! 


July is National Blueberry Month!

Celebrate by making a homemade blueberry topping

You'll need:

1c blueberries (fresh or frozen)
2-3 T raw sugar or honey
1/4c water
1 tsp butter
salt to taste
small pot

Ice Cream

Ice cream
Photo from Wikipedia
Did you know....

People have been enjoying frozen treats since the 4th century B.C.

Ice cream, the dairy-based treat that we know today, was brought to America some time in the 18th century.

Activity: Make a frozen treat in a bag


Photo by Warren Denning
The first rubber balloons were made by Michael Faraday in 1824

Latex balloons, similar to the ones we have today, were first manufactured by J.G. Ingram of London in 1847

Activity: Balloon Badminton

Rainbow Codes

Did you know…

Spies aren't the only ones who use secret codes to send messages to one another.... the military and businesses use them too!

Today’s Activity: Made a Rainbow Decoder

Spark of the Day: Bottle Toss Game

Bottle Toss Game
Photo by Fran W.

You will need: 2 - 3 recycled water bottles, sand, water or dirt, and a hula hoop

Set-up: Fill each water bottle a quarter of the way with water, sand or dirt, and place a hula hoop on the ground.

How to play: Stand about 5-10 feet away from the hula hoop and toss each bottle into hoop.

Keep score if desired.

Tip: Try tossing or rolling other objects into the hoop.

Connect with Fran's World of Discovery!
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Note: Has this or another activity on Fran's World of Discovery inspired you or someone else in a positive way, or have you featured this activity in a blog post? I invite you to comment and link back to where your post can be found, or tell me what you or your family enjoyed about the post! Thank you!


Did you know...

There are seven game pieces used for tangram puzzles and over 5,900 patterns that can be made from them!

Activity: Make Tangram Puzzles 


Firefly photo author Bruce Marlin
Fireflies are winged beetles!

Research Questions...

How do fireflies light up and why?

What do fireflies eat?

What is a the life cycle of a firefly?

Why are fireflies endangered and what can you do to help?

What other animals are bioluminescent?

Learn more... - Find out why fireflies are disappearing and what you can do to help. Take a few minutes to find out some facts about fireflies and take a look around to see what other interesting things the site has to offer.

Why? Tell Me Why?: Fireflies - VIDEO: After a brief commercial, learn why fireflies light up! 

About: Insects: Life Cycle of Fireflies and Lightning bugs - Site offers more detailed information about the life cycle of a firefly stage by stage.

Lights Alive! - Information about bioluminescent animals

Bioluminescence Studies - 
Learn more about bioluminescent organisms

Back Yard Nature: Lightning Bugs - Find out: why fireflies light up, what they eat and the classification.

Everything About: Fireflies - Find out how a firefly is able to light up.

Enchanted Learning: Firefly/Lightning Bug - Site offers a very brief description about the insect and a labeled diagram of a firefly. Printable.

How Stuff Works: Fireflies - Find out how fireflies glow, why they glow, where they can be found, how many types there are and what the flashes mean.

National GeographicFireflies - Find out where fireflies live and how their young are born and survive.

Wikipedia: Fireflies - Site offers scientific classification, general overview of animal, biology info: what they look like, life cycle, hibernation cycle and light and chemical production.

Fran's World of DiscoveryGlowworms - Get information about about another bioluminescent insect. 


Steve Spangler ScienceLiquid Light Experiment - 
To do the experiment you will need: 2 glasses of water - 1 with ice, the other with hot water and 3 glowsticks. Watch this video to see how the experiment is done. Look for more Light Experiments on this site.

Crayola: Follow the Firefly Lesson Plan - Create a book about fireflies. Site also offers a 3-D Firefly Craft idea.

How Stuff Works: Firefly Activity - Offers an experiment to see how often a firefly lights up. Remember to release them as soon as the experiment is over.

Living With Insects: Firefly Jokes - Site offers 5 firefly jokes.

ApartmenttherapyDIY Fireflies That Really Light Up - Cute firefly craft that repurposes plastic eggs.

Create your own book or lapbook with the information you collect.

Connect with Funschooling & Recreational Learning!

Note: Has this or another activity on Fran's World of Discovery inspired you or someone else in a positive way? Have you featured this activity in a blog post? I invite you to comment and link back to where your post can be found, or tell me what you or your family enjoyed about the post! Thank you!