3-D Ornaments

3-D Ornaments by Fran W
When it comes to learning math, we enjoy exploring it in fun and challenging ways and do our best to turn simple items into cool, useful things. Making 3-D ornaments from paper and/or recycled cardboard is a great way to do this.

3-D Geometric Shapes

3-D Geometric shapes make really nice tree ornaments. When I did craft programs for kids and families, the kids really enjoyed the challenge of making these and had a lot of fun decorating them.

Chocolate Activities

Chocolate Activities by Fran W.
Make a day out of learning about chocolate in some really fun ways!

Learn about chocolate, make an old time chocolate egg cream, find out if chocolate is a fruit or a veggie, and get links to other chocolate resources such as virtual field trips, puzzles and historical information.

Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix
Make your own delicious hot cocoa mix and get tips on how to make an extra special treat out of it!

Learn how to make delicious chocolate covered pretzels.

Directions for making your own cocoa lip balm. 

Make your own body wash or bubble bath.

Connect with Funschooling and Recreational Learning!

Note:  Has this or another activity on Funschooling and Recreational Learning 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!

Chocolate covered pretzels

Chocolate Covered Pretzels by Fran W
Chocolate covered pretzels are really easy and fun to make at any age, and they make a great gift too!

To make your own, you will need...

1-2 1lb Bags of real chocolate chips

Pretzel Rods or your favorite shaped pretzel - 1 Large bag/container or 2 small

Bowl or heat-proof container

Spoon or a fork

Parchment paper

Flat pan

Plastic zip-top bags or long air-tight containers

Optional: Mini chocolate chips, nuts, cookie pieces, crushed peppermint sticks, shredded coconut, candy bits, white chocolate chips, nonpareils candy (sprinkles), sugar crystals, crushed candy such malted milk balls, toffee bars, etc.

What to do...

Make Holiday Gift Wrap

Homemade Gift Wrap by Fran W.
Kids feel a sense of accomplishment and independence when they make their own gifts. Encourage them to wrap their gifts up in a special way by using inexpensive items that can be found around the house! 

Turn paper into boxes, decorate a lunch or store bag, or up-cycle a cereal box. 

All that's needed is a little time and creativity and some simple craft supplies to make one-of-a-kind gift bags, boxes and wrapping paper. 

Items needed...

Paper: Old magazines, newspaper, copy paper and construction paper

Bags: Recycled store bags and lunch bags
Boxes: Recycled cereal, cracker, pasta, pizza, ect.

Craft supplies needed...

Scissors, markers, crayons, colored pencils, yarn, tape, hole punch, ruler, craft foam, paint and paint brush, kitchen sponge, stickers, stencils, stamps, hot glue gun, etc. 

What to do...

Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix

One of our favorite winter treats is a steamy hot cup of cocoa and to meet the needs and tastes of everyone in the house, we make our own hot cocoa base and add the items we like the most. 

1/2 c Powdered cocoa
3/4 c Natural sugar
1/2 c Real semi-sweet chocolate chips
Jars or air-tight container

What to do...

Sweet and Spicy Nuts

Sweet and Spicy Peanuts are a BIG favorite in my family, and my kids and I often make large batches to give to family and friends. 
I hope your family and friends enjoy them as well!

To make them, you will need...

2 T Melted Butter
1/4 c Honey
1/8 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1/2 tsp Granulated Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1 lb Raw Spanish Peanuts or Almonds
Mixing bowl
Spoon or spatula
9x13 Pan
Optional: Parchment paper

What to do...

Reindeer Games and Activities

Diorama from Reindeer/Caribou
Reindeer Games on Funschooling & Recreational Learning

Are you interested in learning about reindeer a.k.a caribou? Click on this link and learn about these beautiful creatures, make a diorama with the information learned about them, play some games and watch a short video of them in action!

Santa is taking applications so he can find a new reindeer to help pull his sleigh! Maybe the reindeer you create will qualify to help! What will your reindeer need to know? Be able to do? Find out!

Reindeer Games & Activities Off Site

Word Games - December

I hear a lot parents say that they would like to use a more relaxed approach when it comes to educating their kids, and the month of December is a great time to begin doing that. With all the festive things to do around town and fun activities being offered on-line, there are a lot of wonderful resources available to help parents lighten-up during the holiday season.

Instead of using workbooks, textbooks and worksheets to learn how words work, I recommend games and as many real-world experiences as possible, because important concepts and skills can be learned more easily through activities that matter to a person.

I've learned through experience that forcing kids to do things they aren't ready to do is a big waste of time and energy, so I make sure my kids have all the time they need to learn in ways that work for them, when they are ready to learn it. I've noticed that by doing this, they are much more willing to challenge themselves and they tend to get to the next level quickly.

I used to use a very strict, formal approach to educate. Once I made the decision to lighten-up, I changed one subject, or subject area, a month until there was nothing left to switch out. The concept of making learning fun, and working with my kids' readiness and needs, was so effective from the start, that it's the only way my kids learn these days.

Every family needs to find their own learning path. I invite you to give these word building activities a try and fine tune them to your suit your needs.

December Activities

December Activity Calendar by Fran W
Every month we make a list of the things we want to do, make and learn. Some things are done as a family, some are done individually. Since there are so many things to do this month, and so many events, we will do our best to get as much in as we can, as long as we find it enjoyable.

As a general rule, when we choose to do something, we make a day of it so we can take our time exploring and discovering all we can about each topic or activity. This is typical of the interest-based method of education we use. We choose a topic, write down what we want to learn about it, and any questions we may have, then brainstorm of some ways we can learn about the topic. 

Below is a list of all the topics we would like to cover this month. Each topic/activity links within this site and is filled with ideas, activities, and resources and offers possible ways to explore it further. Pictures are included to show how we chose to enjoy each topic/activity whenever possible.

December is always extra busy in our home, so after we make a list of fun things to do as a family, we make an activity calendar to hold our list. 

We look forward to allowing each activity to take on a life of its own, mainly because we find it more fun that way, and experience has taught us that the most learning happens when we are fully engaged in what we're doing. We think of it as "Funschooling".

Here's a list of the things we are planning to do. If we don't get to them this year, we will do our best to get to them another time. 
Check back often for updates or connect with me!

Holiday and Winter Origami

Holiday Origami by Fran W
We started having fun folding paper when my oldest child was about 6 years old and we've been finding ways to incorporate it into our lives ever since. One year we added origami presents and cranes to a Christmas tree, another we offered a bunch of holiday related folding projects for a craft program to those who wanted something different to do.  

Here are some of the other ways we have used the paper folding projects...

  • In a diorama.
  • To make a holiday scene.
  • Hang them on the tree.
  • Decorate a present.
  • Decorate the house.
Tip: Any sized paper can be used to make the projects, but make sure the paper you use is even on all sides, crooked paper will not give good results.

Note: Copy paper can be decorated with markers, stamps and crayons, wrapping paper can be used, as can pages from magazines and newspapers. Origami paper can be found in craft and retail stores and on line in a variety of designs and sizes. Origami Way offers a printable origami paper that can be *downloaded from the site. 
*Please use caution when downloading off the Internet.

I hope you find the following paper folding projects as enjoyable as we do. Unless otherwise noted, all the projects below offer illustrated instructions. Videos are also offered below.

Christmas/Holiday Cards

Making our own greeting cards for friends and family members is a fun holiday tradition in my household, and when the card making stuff comes out, everyone joins in!

Over the years we have collected quite a few things that help us create one-of-a-kind cards, but when we were starting out, we used very basic items such as:

Cardstock paper, construction paper, scissors, glue, pencils, rulers, markers, crayons, paint and paint brushes, and stickers

Christmas/Holiday House

Turn a recycled milk or juice carton into a Christmas or seasonally themed house!

To make one you will need:

A clean 1/2 gallon carton (milk, juice, tea, etc.), construction paper, scissors, Christmas or winter themed stickers, glue, and markers 
Optional: Craft knife, yellow tissue paper, glow stick or battery powered candle, old magazines, clip-art, stencils, paper punches, ruler, paint and a paintbrush

Thanksgiving Activities

Thanksgiving Activities by Fran W.

Thanksgiving - Connect to all the activities under this label to see a picture and begin reading the activity.

Three Sister Mat
An Introduction to the Three Sisters - Learn about the Three Sisters, companion planting and make a craft that features the sisters that can be used as a placemat or centerpiece.

Three Sisters: Corn - The first sister - Learn the Native American word for corn, link to corn related activities and instructions for a delicious homemade cornbread.

Colonial Pumpkin Pie
Three Sisters: Beans - The second sister - Bean experiments, recipe: Mixed Bean Soup, links to other bean related resources.

Three Sisters: Pumpkin - The third sister - Learn how colonists made pumpkin pie right in the shell, ideas for adding a modern twist topping, and pumpkin related resources.

Apple Research Project - Where are apples grown around the world and how? The resources on this page will answer these questions and others. Plus you will find experiments and a recipe for apple cider that tastes like warm apple pie in a glass!

Popcorn Project - How much fluffy popcorn can you get from a tablespoon of kernels or a 1/4 c? This project has learning suggestions, volume experiments, some fun ways to enjoy the final product and learning resources.

Turkey Cut-out
Fall Cut-Outs - Decorate your windows or walls with a Thanksgiving or Harvest theme.

Harvest/Thanksgiving Lantern 
A Brand New World - What would it be like to travel back in time to the first Thanksgiving? This activity offers guided questions to help you on your journey.

Harvest/Thanksgiving Lantern - Instructions for making a lantern with a Harvest or Thanksgiving theme. Makes a great centerpiece too!

Turkey Games and Activities
Turkey Game and Activities - Make a turkey container and play Thanksgiving related games with it. Template, instructions and suggestions include.

History of Thanksgiving - Make a Thanksgiving centerpiece of thanks, learn the history of the holiday and find links to Thanksgiving related resources.

Family Turkey Keepsake
The Mayflower - Learn about the Mayflower's journey, find Mayflower related resources and learn how to draw the Mayflower as a cartoon.

Wild Turkeys - Learn about wild turkeys, link to turkey resources and make a family turkey craft.

Balloon twist turkey - Learn how to make a turkey or a pumpkin with twist balloons. Scroll down to get to the activity.

Connect with Funschooling & Recreational Learning!

Harvest/Thanksgiving Lantern

Harvest/Thanksgiving Lantern by Fran W

Make a lantern for harvest time, fall, and/or Thanksgiving!

You will need...

A clean milk carton, construction paper, craft knife, scissor, tissue paper, construction paper, glue, chenille stem, hole punch, pencil, ruler, glow stick

Optional: Serrated knife, craft foam, any kind of stickers, push pin, craft supplies, battery-powered candle

What to do...

Apple Resources

Mixed Apples by Fran W.

General Information & Facts About Apples & Apple History

Vermont Apples

Washington Apples
Varieties of apples

Apples and More
University of Illinois - Apple facts

Nutritional Information about Apples

Whole Foods: Apples

Apple and Johnny Appleseed Crafts

Castle Resources

Bodiam Castle from Wikipedia

The following resources were put together to go with: 
Fran's World of Discovery: Castle Research Project

Castles Around the World

29 Gorgeous Castles Around the World


Website dedicated to castles. Site has information on over 500 castles, castle ruins, and other fortifications in Europe and beyond. 

A Brand New World

The Landing of the Pilgrims."(1877) by Henry A. Bacon
Can you imagine what it would be like to move to a new world that has none of the luxuries you're used to? 

When the pilgrims set sail on the Mayflower, in September, of 1620, nothing could have prepared them for the adventure they were about to embark on!

Today's spark is to imagine what your life would be like if you traveled back in time to America, during the 1600's and came back. 

Keep in mind that there are no stores or cities, there's no electricity, cars, power equipment, electronic technology such as televisions, computers, cell phones or telephones during this time period. Modern money is no good during this time period either.   

Here are some questions to help guide you through the activity if you feel that you need them:

Fall Cut-Outs

Fall Cut-Out by Fran W.

Fall cut-outs are a fun and creative way to accent a window or a wall.

To make a cut-out, you will need: 

Construction paper, a craft knife, pencil, tissue paper, glue and tape

What to do... 

Draw a picture on one side of your construction paper and use a craft knife to cut it out. Glue tissue paper on the same side. When the glue dries, hang it up! If you want, you can create a stained glass effect by layering other colors behind one color tissue paper, or use multiple colors to get a different look. 
Note of Warning: Child supervision may be needed when using a craft knife.

Use this activity for any season or holiday! Here are a couple of other suggestions for use:

Turkey Cut-out by Fran W.
Halloween Cut-out by Fran W.

Connect with Fran's World of Discovery!

Thanksgiving Turkey Games and Activities

Thanksgiving Turkey Game Container by Fran W.
Betty Jo, of Still Learning Something New, asked me if I could come up with a Thanksgiving game for her and her family to enjoy. Not only did I come up with a turkey game container, I thought of a few other uses for it too!

To make this game container, you will need...

Veterans/Remembrance Day

Learn More...

Dept. of Veterans Affairs
Offers an interactive map telling you where parades and community celebrations can be found across the US for Veterans Day.

Wikipedia: Veterans Day
General info about the history of Veterans and Remembrance Day

Watch more videos and read about Veterans and Remembrance Day

Enchanted Learning: Veterans Day
Crafts and info about Veterans Day

Funschoooling & Recreational Learning: US Flag
Learn about the flags of the US and make an American Flag (picture above)

Don't forget to thank a Vet for their service!

Thank You for your service!

Connect with Funschooling & Recreational Learning!

Dolphins - Research Resource

Dolphin Photo by Fran W.
Dolphin Resources Across the Curriculum

Animal Planet: Dolphins
This site offers The Ultimate Guide to Dolphins a series of 9 videos that talk about echolocation, strandings, cousins and more.

Facts about Dolphins

Animals: About offers a series of facts about dolphin anatomy and family info.

National Geographic: Dolphins

Find out where dolphins can be found, listen to dolphin sounds, and get quick facts such as weight, size and life span.

Women's Suffrage - Research Resource

Women's Suffrage in the United States

Suffragists Parade Down 5th Ave., 1917

The Fight for Women's Rights
Articles and videos about the Women's Suffrage Movement.

Wikipedia: Women's Suffrage in the United States
Wikipedia offers a general overview of the Women's Suffrage Movement.

National Women's History Museum: Women's Suffrage

A long list of the women involved in the movement.

Teaching with Documents: Women's Suffrage and the 19th Amendment

Resolution proposing amendment, petitions and more. 

Our Documents: 19th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution: 
Women's Right to Vote
See a copy of the original document.

Some Well Known Suffragists and Quick Resources:

Halloween Windsocks

Halloween Windsocks by Fran W.

Decorate the yard with Halloween windsocks!

You will need...

Paper plate, construction paper, scissor, glue, crepe paper, yarn, and packing tape, stapler or a hole punch

What to do...

Bat Resource Page

Golden Crowned Fruit Bat
General Information About Bats

Bat Conservation International 
 Learn about bats

Enchanted Learning: Bats 
 Info about bats for young children.

How Bats Work 
 Learn how bats use echo location, their wings and more on How Stuff Works

Defenders: Bats 
 Quick fact sheet about bats

NWF: Night Friends - Bats of the Americas
On-line Activity Guide as a PDF

Wikipedia: List of Bat Species 
 A long list of bat species

Lubee Bat Conservancy
Fruit bat conservation & adopt-a-bat program

US Fish and Wildlife Service: Bats 
 White-nose Syndrome and Bats are Cool, US

Wikipedia: Bats

Earthlife: Bat Anatomy
Labeled bat skeleton.

EEK! Bats - Creatures of the Night
Find out a little about bats: What their name means, facts and information.

Bat Themes Units - Learning Across the Curriculum

Enchanted Learning: Bat Theme 
 Bat Theme, info, printouts, craft ideas.

Kidszone: Bats
Printable and online activities, information and slide show.

Homeschool Share: Stellaluna 
Lapbook and Unit Study.

Homeschool Share: Nocturnal Animals
Lapbook and Unit Study.

First School: Bat Theme Preschool Activities and Crafts
Letter 'B' printable page, link to facts and images, link to an online version of Stellaluna, bat coloring pages and bat crafts.

Bat Crafts and Activities

Fran's World of Discovery: Bats 

2 Sound games.

Difficult Origami Bat  
PDF illustrated instructions.

DLTK: Bats
Bat crafts, activities, coloring pages, puzzle sheets.

Origami Bat 
 Written and illustrated directions for a different bat. Downloadable PDF.

Origami Bat Video
Watch and learn how to make an easy origami bat.

Bat Paper
Printable paper with lines and a bat boarder.

Activity Village: Bat Crafts
Bat costume, bat felt toy, fuse bead pattern, Halloween moon, Halloween mobile and more.

University of Florida: Bat Cam
View of the exterior bat house.

Wild Watch Cams: Big Brown Bats

Washington Dept of Fish & Wildlife offers a cam that can be refreshed every 10 seconds and can be watched for 15 minutes at a time.

Bat Videos

If you have a bat resource you would like to share, please post it as a comment. Thank you!

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!

Two-Sided Diorama

5 Little Pumpkins Diorama

We made this two-sided diorama based our favorite Halloween poem, 'The Five Little Pumpkins'. On one side, we showed the pumpkins sitting on the fence, on the other, we showed them rolling away. It was a fun project that could easily be based on a favorite book, play, poem, song or movie, plus it's a great way to express an understanding for a story. You can even make one based on a story that you made.

This is how we made ours, but feel free to come up with your own unique way of doing this activity. 

FYI: There is a game suggestion at the end of this post.

We used..

1 Recycled cracker/cereal box, packing tape, a craft or utility knife, construction paper, scissor, glue, a paint brush, foam stickers, and colored craft sticks.

Make a Frame

Halloween Themed Pizza

Ghost Pizza
No matter what our dietary needs have been over the years, we have tried to find ways to make our favorite fun foods during the holidays. Pizza with a Halloween theme is one of those foods! 

Suggestions for alternate crusts for people who are gluten-free, on a low-carb or paleo diet, or are raw foodists are offered below.

You will need:

Lightly toasted pitas or your favorite personal-sized pizza crust, your favorite tomato or white sauce, and your favorite cheese

Use any of the following ingredients:

Black olives, pepperoni, green olives, peppers, mushrooms, ricotta cheese, spinach, sausage, meatballs, etc.

What to do...

Ghost Pop Candy Holder

Ghost Pop Candy Holder by Fran W.
These candy holders are great to hand out at parties, after a Halloween program or to Trick or Treaters!

To make a Ghost Pop Candy Holder you will need:

A box of tissues
A bag of round lollipops (Charms, Tootsie Pops, etc.)
Cardboard bathroom tissue paper tubes
Tissue paper cut into 4 x 6" rectangles
Construction paper cut into 4 1/2 x 6" rectangles
Artificial leaves, Halloween stickers or stamps
Small zip-top bags
Small toys, treats and stickers
Optional: Hot glue, regular white glue and a paint brush

Monster Mash

Monster Mash, by Bobby (Boris) Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers
The 'Monster Mash' is a fun song co-written by Bobby "Boris" Pickett and Leonard Capizzi, in 1962. After every major record label turned the song down, Gary S. Paxton's, of Garpax Records, decided to produce it. The song reached the #1 position on the Billboard Hot 100 chart on October 20, 1962, remained #1 for two weeks, and sold a million copies that year!
In 1973 it hit #3 on the UK Singles Chart and sold a million copies again! 

Not bad for a one-hit-wonder!

As a matter of fact, it has been considered a Halloween favorite every year since its release 50+ years ago. 

Can you guess how the "Monster Mash" got its name?