a bit of light

Lego Americana Roadshow Note Booking pages

When I heard that the Lego Americana Roadshow is in our city, I knew we had to go ASAP! It’s history, architecture, math, and geography all wrapped up in Lego fun 🙂

Before we headed over to the mall, I made Lego Americana Roadshow note booking pages for my children, so they could learn a little about the landmarks they would be seeing. There is historical information with the displays, however, the mall is busy and my younger children love to run around, so I knew that I wouldn’t be able to stand and read the posters in their entirety. But, I still wanted it to be educational, so we did some research before we saw the Lego models. There are only 2 sections in the note booking pages that require information from the displays (they are in red boxes), one for the Statue of Liberty and one for the US Capitol Building. We used Wikipedia to look up the answers to the questions (which I know isn’t 100% reliable, but I figured it was adequate in this case). I worked with my older children (ages 8 and 6) closely, when filling out the pages because I wanted it to be fun and not to difficult. They had fun using Wikipedia and practicing typing skills. And I taught them how to search a web page using Ctrl+F (fun stuff, I’m tellin’ ya!).

The note booking pages are nothing cute or fancy, but I figured that there were others that might be interested in them, so I decided to share. If you think of any other fun and educational activities to go with the displays, let me know in the comments.

My children had so much fun visiting the displays. There is also an area where you can construct and race Lego cars. I think my children constructed and tested 100 different cars between the four of them. All in all, it was a great field trip!


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Homeschool Highlight: Science with the Frizz!

Using the Magic School Bus for Homeschool Science

This year we’re using the Magic School Bus series  for science.  My kids are in second grade and kindergarten and they absolutely LOVE The Magic School Bus!  They squeal with joy when it’s science time.  The DVD’s are entertaining and educational and when coupled with correlating experiments and deeper learning from books, it really is a complete curriculum.

So here’s what we do:  Once a week we watch an episode.  I usually let them choose the topic / episode, but occasionally I pick when I know it’s an ideal time for a certain experiment (ie decomposition with leaves in the fall).   Afterwards, we  complete the experiment / activity found (for free) on the Scholastic Website.  When it’s an experiment I make sure they make hypotheses before and draw conclusions afterwards.  Sometimes it’s just and activity that reinforces the concepts.

For example, last week we watched the episode about salmon migration.  Then we did an activity, in which I hid a pot of warmed cinnamon in the house and my kids had to find where it was hidden by following the scent (similar to how salmon use their sense of smell to locate their home river).  Then we completed a wheel showing the life cycle of salmon.  Finally, we researched and drew maps of migration patterns of gray whales, monarch butterflies, and Canadian geese and discussed why they migrate.   This week, we watched the episode about heat and insulation.  We experimented with a large bowl of ice water and various insulators (fat, cotton balls etc) to see which one kept their hands the warmest.  We also heated up 2 jars of water and left one un-insulated on the counter, and devised a way to insulate the other.  After an hour, we checked the temperature of the water to see which one stayed the hottest.

There is also a picture book series and a chapter book series on many of the same topics as the DVDs.  When we visit the library we check out the ones that relate to the episode we watched that week.  We also check out other non-fiction books on the subject as well and read them throughout the week.

Next year, we’ll probably branch out and spend less time in the world of the Magic School Bus, but this year, my kids are absolutely loving it and are learning a lot as well.

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Our GAPS journey part 3: Intro Diet (Soup, soup, soup and more soup)

You can read the other posts in our GAPS journey here (Part 1) and here (Part 2).  For a lot of people, this post will be very boring.  I am mainly writing this  for those who are considering doing the GAPS diet and want to see what we actually did and share a few tips that I learned.

When we started the GAPS diet I really should have made a pamphlet to hand out to friends, family and total strangers so that I didn’t have to keep explaining our crazy diet and why we were doing it.  I’m sure our family thought we were weird when we brought our own soup to family dinners.  And I’m sure our kids’ Primary (ie church) teachers were annoyed that our kids brought their own snacks each Sunday.  And there were days that I was exhausted and just wanted to go eat at a restaurant.  But, the GAPS diet isn’t like most other diets – you can’t cheat.  At all.  If you cheat, you don’t heal and there’s no point in doing all the hard work to just undo it.  So, yes we ate every meal at home and were militant when we were eating with other people.

The GAPS diet is broken up into 2 phases: the Intro diet (which is the most restrictive) and the full GAPS diet.  Today I’ll outline what we ate on the Intro diet.  We did the Intro portion of the diet for 2 months.  In the GAPS book, Dr. Natasha outlines seven different phases of the Intro diet, which we didn’t really follow exactly.  So, if you’re looking at this and wondering how this fits with those phases, it doesn’t really, but it is what worked for us.

Juice:  First thing in the morning, we had juice.  According to Dr. Natasha, our bodies go through regular cycles of detoxification every day between 4:00 am and 10:00 am (that’s one of the reasons why we’re often not hungry right when we wake up).  She also says that we help our body detox better when we only eat foods that aid in detoxification during those times.  So, every morning, we had juice and then waited until after 10:00 am to have the rest of our breakfast.  We never used any recipes for our juice – basically it was 50% fruit and 50% vegetables.  Ideally it should be more vegetables, but my kids did better with this ratio.  We also added about 2 Tablespoons of Aloe Vera Juice and about 1/4 cup of Coconut Water Kefir.  Oh, and we have this juicer – it’s not the best, but it fit our budget and it works well (and it’s dishwasher safe 😀 )

Breakfast:  Every morning we had some sort of eggs.  For the most part we used eggs from pastured hens, so they are super nutrient rich (ocassionally we bought regular eggs when our grocery budget was running low).  We cooked them sunny side up or over easy so that we were eating some raw egg yolk (and important part of the GAPS protocol).  It is important to have something fermented or cultured with every meal, so we had eggs with sauerkraut, lacto-fermented ketchup on squash hash browns, eggs with guacamole (made with fermented salsa), and banana and egg pancakes with coconut milk kefir syrup are some examples of what we had for breakfast.  There wasn’t a whole lot of variety, but it wasn’t that bad.  We’d also have a mug of bone broth with our eggs.

Lunch:  We had leftover soup for lunch each day.  Every evening, for dinner, I’d make a huge batch of soup, so that we had lots of leftovers.  There were usually 3-4 varieties of soup in the fridge every day from which we were able to choose for lunch.  I had 25 soup recipes that we rotated through, so while it was a lot of soup, we had a good variety.  We added sauerkraut juice or coconut milk kefir to the soup for probiotics.

Snack:  Each afternoon we had applesauce for a snack, prepared as Dr. Natasha instructs – with a lot of butter.  We also stirred in a little coconut milk kefir, for, you guessed it, probiotics!

Dinner:  Soup’s on… every night.  Some of the varieties I made were: french onion, butternut squash, curry coconut pumpkin with shrimp, beef and veggie stew, spaghetti squash and meatball, chicken and veggie, Thai beef, spinach and artichoke heart, egg drop, hamburger, and zupa toscana.  They were all really good and I plan to put together an e-book eventually of all my recipes.

The basis of all the soup recipes is bone broth.  I use a perpetual broth method, with a slight twist.  Here’s how I make my bone broth (as you can tell I’m not very scientific about it):

Perpetual Bone Broth

To begin, I put an onion, a couple carrots, a few celery stalks, a few cloves of garlic, a sprinkling of sea salt, a dozen black peppercorns and a bay leaf into my crock pot.  Then I put in whatever meat we were eating in the soup that night – something on the bone like drumsticks, oxtail, lamb should chops etc.  Then I added a splash of apple cider vinegar.  Then I covered it with filtered water, put the lid on and turned it on high.  Once it was up to a boil, I turned it down to low.

straining broth

bone broth final

At dinner time, I use tongs to pull out the meat.  I ladle the broth into a cloth lined mesh strainer and set it aside.  Then I add salt, vinegar and filtered water back to the crock pot and turn it onto high to get it boiling again, and then down to low.   Once, I’ve pulled the meat off the bones, I add the bones back into the crock pot.  I use the meat and broth to make soup for dinner that night.

The next day, I add the meat for dinner to the crock pot and repeat the process.  After 4 days, I remove all the broth, vegetables, and any bones that are very soft.  Then I start a new batch, adding any bones that are still hard (so that I am sure to pull all the minerals out of them).

I use this method because it ensures that each days broth is rich in gelatin from the soft tissues of the meat, but also ensures that the minerals are thoroughly extracted from the bones.  Sometimes, we had meat that wasn’t on the bone (like ground beef), and in that case, I would just use soup bones that I purchased at the meat counter of our health food store.

Also, a note on our coconut water / coconut milk kefir:  Since we had issues with dairy, we made the first 2 months completely dairy free, so we made kefir with coconut products.  For the first week, we did as Dr. Natasha suggests and bought whole young coconuts, harvested the water and made milk with the meat.  The kids thought it was a lot of fun and loved doing it, but it was way too much work to do the whole 2 months.  So, we bought coconut water at the health food store (whichever brand was cheapest at the time) and bought the Native Forest organic coconut milk from Amazon because it is suppose to be BPA free.  And when you do the Subscribe & Save option, it costs less than the organic at my health food store (Sprouts).

I hope this is helpful to anyone who is looking into the GAPS diet and wants to know what it is like.  In my next GAPS post, I’ll go into the supplements we used (there were a lot).

**Disclaimer:  I am not a medical professional.  I am simply sharing my personal experiences.  Please see a Medical Professional for diagnosis and treatment.

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