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

Did you know…
Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor, by William Halsall.jpg
"Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor" by William Halsall

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.

Suggested Activity: The Biggest Bubble

You'll need:

2 different brands of bubblegum, a ruler, a pencil and paper

What to do:

Before you begin, write down the name of each brand of gum you are going to use for this experiment.

For each brand of bubble gum, chew one piece at a time, when you can blow a bubble, blow the biggest bubble possible, measure it with a ruler, and write down the results next to that brand of gum. Repeat three times.

Compare your answers and write down your findings.
Which brand of bubble gum allowed you to make the biggest bubble possible and how big was that bubble?

Alternative tracking method: Draw or take pictures of each step or record the experiment on video.

Question of the day.....

What was the name of the first successful commercial bubblegum, who invented it, and can you still get it today?

Learn more:

History of Bubblegum - A brief history of bubblegum

How Bubblegum is Made - 4:50 minute video

Bubble Gum ChemistryLearn the chemistry behind gum...and a little history too.

Connect with Funschooling and Recreational Learning!

Note: If this, or any other post on Funschooling and Recreational Learning, has inspired you in a positive way, or you have featured it in a blog post, please comment and link back to where it can be found! Thank you!

Chewing Gum

Chewing Gum by Fran W
Did you know…

Prehistoric man chewed on a lump of tree resin!

Suggested Activity: Chewing Gum Experiment

To do the following experiment, you will need:

1 package of each: 3 different brands of ordinary chewing gum (not bubble gum), stopwatch or a timer, paper and pencil
Optional: Recording device or camera

Experiment Question:  Does your gum offer longest lasting flavor?

You will need one piece of each type of gum, a stopwatch or timer, and paper and pencil for this experiment.

- Take one piece of each type of gum, write down the name of the gum and the time you started chewing it or start your stop watch.

- When your gum loses its flavor, write down the time or stop your stopwatch and write down that time.

Do this for all 3 brands of gum and compare the results.

Note: This experiment can be done in one day or over several days.

Here are some optional questions you can answer:

- Have you ever had this brand of gum before?
- What flavor is the gum?
- Do you like the flavor of the gum?
- What are you expecting to happen during this experiment?
- How did the gum taste in the beginning, in the middle and at the end?
- How did the flavor and consistency of the gum change during the experiment?
- What did the gum feel like when you first started chewing and how did the gum feel at the end of your experiment?
- What happened when the gum lost its flavor?  
- What sensations did your mouth feel when you started chewing and how did your mouth feel when the experiment ended?
- If your gum promised long lasting flavor, decide if it lived up to its promise.
- Write a review or talk about your experience: How much did you pay for each brand of gum? Was it worth what you paid for it? Would you buy it gain?  Would you recommend the gum to anyone else?
- Try this experiment with a friend, parent or sibling and compare and talk about your results.

Recoding your results...

Recording Suggestion 1: Write about your experience.

Write about each step and answer the questions above if you choose to.

Recording Suggestion 2: Record your experiment on an audio or video device.

Start the recording device, show or talk about the brand, show or say the time, talk a little bit about the gum you are about to experiment on. Answer the questions above if you choose to.

Recording Suggestion 3: Illustrate your experiment.

Draw each part of your experiment and write a brief description next to each drawing or take pictures of each step of your experiment, print or develop your pictures and write captions under each picture telling what happened.
Make or draw faces showing your feelings for the questions if you choose to do them.

Recording Suggestion 4: Dictate or talk to someone else about this experiment.

Ask someone else to write your answers for this experiment for you or talk about the results with another person.

Just for the fun of it, make an interview out of this experiment, or create a commercial or ad for the brand of gum you liked the best using the questions above.

Question of the day:

Who was Thomas Adams and what gum did he invent?

Learn more:

Chewing Gum Facts 

This site has information about the history of chewing gum, a video and the latest news about gum.

I love Gum 
A timeline history of gum

Thomas Adams 
Learn who Thomas Adams was and how he changed the gum industry

Glee Gum
Purchase a gum making kit online

Connect with Funschooling and Recreational Learning!

Note: If this, or any other post on Funschooling and Recreational Learning, has inspired you in a positive way, or you have featured it in a blog post, please comment and link back to where it can be found! Thank you!

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

Fun With Balloons

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!
Facebook  Twitter  Pinterest  Google+

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