Sunday, January 5, 2014

52 Brand New in 2013

I stumbled upon the blog 52 Brand New sometime in our homeschooling journey and I was really intrigued with the idea of doing something new every week.  New experiences-- even seemingly silly, small things leads to new discoveries, learning and connections so I really wanted to try and expose the boys to at least one new thing a week.


 I tried hard to set that as a goal for us this past year and I thought today would be a good day to go back through our year and see if I came anywhere near close to 52.

Many of our new experiences were the results of new field trips we went on, but some happened right here in our own home.  Not all of our new experiences were new experiences for all three of the boys but oh, well, what can you do?

1.  Karate-- my kids started taking karate this year and are learning a form of martial arts called Tang Soo Do.  They're developing motor control, learning a second language, and working on many life skills each week with new techniques and lessons every month.



2.  Visiting the Maple Sugar Shack and seeing how maple syrup is made was another new experience for us.  Living in New England we see lots of sap lines on trees but have never made it to a shack to see (and smell!) how they boil it down to make yummy syrup.  As an added bonus, the shack we went to showed us how to make maple flavored cotton candy too!  We learned the names of many new tools, watched the multiple steps of processing syrup and saw a huge variety of foods made with maple syrup too.

3.  Planetarium shows-- I don't think this was a new experience for all of the boys but I know it was a new experience for at least one of them.  We took in two planetarium shows this year-- one at the Ecotarium and one at the Hartford Children's Museum.  Both were different movies-- one taught us about the constellations and another taught us about natural disasters. 


4.  Speaking of the Hartford Children's Museum-- this was the first time we had made the trip out to that museum and we had an entire day of "new" discoveries.


5.  Making puppets-- is it sad that my kids have never had the opportunity to make puppets?  I'm really not even sure they've ever played with puppets either, but at our homeschool group play date we made paper bag puppets.  The boys had so much fun with this that I hope to get around to making sock puppets this year. 


6.   Growing Crystals-- Alec got a crystal growing kit last Christmas and we spent many a day making some of the crystals from his kit.  It was both fun and educational. 


7.  Making and playing with fake sensory snow-- it's just a mixture of hair conditioner and baking soda but we loved how it felt and the boys had tons of fun playing with our new concoction. It even stays cool to the touch!


8.  Learning to Ski-- This new experience was just for Ian since he was the only one interested in learning, but he loved it so much.  It was his first time at a ski lodge and on ski's and he ended up going multiple times through the winter.  He learned to use the chair lift as well as the rope tow and he built up skill and confidence too. 


9.  Freezing Bubbles-- another goal I had last year was to get outside with the boys everyday and one day, very early in the morning last January when the temperatures were below freezing we decided to try freezing bubbles.  It was awesome! 


10.  Pequot museum-- We finally made it to the Mashentucket Pequot museum this fall and learned all about the Native American's that live in our state. 


11.  Playing music for the Beluga Whales to listen to-- They come right up to the tank to i

12.  Hiking in the snow-- we've been hiking before-- typically something we only do in the spring and fall since I think of summer as to hot to hike and winter as to cold to ski, but one day last winter we donned our snow gear and met my sister for a hike in the snow.  It was challenging but also a lot of fun!  It was kind of amazing how different it was to hike in the snow-- the woods look totally different. 

13.  Roller Skating--- my boys had never been roller skating before and while Evan pretty much hated it the older two boys enjoyed it so much we went a few times in the past year.  I'm thinking it's time to go again! 


14.  Stomp rockets--  We had never tried them out but the boys immediately took these easy to use, fun, educational toys.  What a blast! 


15.  Dying Easter Eggs without a PAAS kit-- we have never tried to dye eggs any other way but had so much fun trying out a new messy technique of egg dying using food coloring and shaving cream. We want to use the same method to make tie dye paper too.   


16.  Stitches-- while this was an experience for Evan only (and not a fun one at that!) it was definitely a new experience.  One we hope never to repeat, but one we all learned a lot from.  The older boys inspected the stitches, we talked about how they were put in, how they'd be taken out and how to care for them in the meantime. 

17.  Learning about mole crabs (a new- to- us species of crab) at Harkness Park (a new park!)-- a sort of twofer as we had two new experiences in one.  We played at a park we had never been to before where we unearthed some mole crabs that just fascinated the boys. 


18.  Dissecting Owl pellets--  I took the younger two boys to Horizon Wings Raptor Rehabilitation and Education Center and we learned all about raptors, dissected owl pellets, learned about bird calls and so much more. 


19.  Funerals-- unfortunately, last year seemed to be the year that my boys attended their first of many funerals.  We learned about death, grief and good-bye rituals that we engage in.  While this would never be an experience I would want my kids to have it is a part of life. 

20.  More new parks-- on top of our trip to Harkness park, we found ourselves trying out many new parks last spring and summer.  New parks are always fun and exciting.  Each set of playground equipment offers new learning opportunities and we always make new friends too. 


21.  Breaking open Geodes-- something we had read about in one of our non- fiction books we were intrigued with the idea of breaking open rocks to find "hidden gems" inside.  We had so much fun using hammers and Ian's geode kit. 


22.  Making Sharpie dyed t-shirts-- we had so much fun watching the marker colors run and blend.  The boys were pretty scientific about the "best" way to get their shirts looking the way they wanted. 


23.  Spin art-- we bought a cheap salad spinner and had a fun afternoon of making spin art projects.  Art and science discovery in one!


24.  Our first ever history/geography fair-- this was the first time we had either participated in or attended a geography fair and we had so much fun.  We learned a lot about other countries and various points in history and really enjoyed seeing how creative other kids can be when it comes to their learning. 


25.  Visiting a Vernal Pool-- I didn't even know what a vernal pool was until one of the homeschooling moms put together a field trip to a vernal pool complete with a lesson and tour guide from Ranger Jamie.


26.  Alka Seltzer Water tag-- we taped Alka seltzer tablets to their chests, gave each of the boys a water gun and set them running around after each other.  It was one of the best science lessons ever-- they didn't even know we were doing science but they sure knew they were having fun!


27. Hatching Butterflies-- we got a few butterfly nets last Christmas and the boys spent a good week or two watching caterpillars turn into butterflies this past spring.  They loved it so much and have already asked if we can do it again this year.  We kept the net so I'll just have to order some more larvae. 


28.  Six Flags New England-- while we are no strangers to amusement parts we had never been to, what is probably, the closest amusement park to us.  But the boys worked hard to earn free tickets last year and so we go to try out this fun park with tons of new rides. 


29.  Our first ever homeschool field day-- we participated in a fabulously fun field day with a local homeschool group.  The boys participated in relay races, three legged races, water balloon tosses and pie eating contests.  It was great and so wonderful to meet so many new homeschooling families.


30.  Junior Zookeeping-- while this was a completely new experience for my older two boys who have participated in these classes in the past, this was brand- new for Evan and since the boys learned about different animals this time I considered it a new experience for them all. 

31.  Exploring Fort Wetherill-- while all the boys had been there before for their grandfather's memorial, none of the boys remembered it and we certainly didn't take time to explore the fort and park like we did this year at a wonderful family picnic.  We learned a lot of history about the area as well as exploring the science of the sea life around the area. 


32.  Attending the dirt bike races-- this was one experience Alec would have preferred to do without but it was a new experience and both Ian and Evan were pretty impressed with watching the bikers.  Luckily, the race was on a farm and we were able to visit with all the animals too so Alec was slightly mollified. 


33.  Making our own ice cream Shell Topping-- We love ice cream and shell topping in this house so when I saw a recipe to make your own we just had to try it out.  The boys loved this quick, easy, edible science project. 


34.  A trip to a Heifer International Farm-- a wonderful day spent learning about farms, third world countries and other cultures. 


35.  Climbed to the top of a Mountain-- while we hike often we've never hiked up a mountain and certainly never long enough to get above the tree- line, but we did this past year! 


36.  A day on a the Thames River on a boat-- with a bed!  While we are out on boats quite frequently the boys were enthralled with a boat that had a bed on it.  We saw lots of new things along the river and the CT shoreline and got lots of fresh air.


37.  We made exploding Ziploc bags and pop rockets-- my boys never tire of making anything explode! 


38.  We even found some "new" experiences on our Disney trip-- while we always try to stay at a different hotel and add a few new things in this time I was on the lookout for "new" things to try.  And here's the list I came up with:   we ran into Push the talking garbage can, saw the Country Bear Jamobree, spent a day at Typhon Lagoon, went to Disney Quest played GIANT volleyball, watched a new castle show, ate breakfast with Lilo & Stitch, watched Candy being made, watched a glass blower at work, watched Chinese acrobats, watched a belly dancer perform, we got to design our own cars at Test Track, we tried sodas from around the world,   we went on the Studio Back lot tour, watched the Indiana Jones Stunt Show, the boys participated in the Jedi Training show-- it's always a great time at Disney and I love that I can add new experiences to our list after 4 or 5 trips there!


39. A trip to the Connecticut Science Museum-- We had never been to this museum before so everything we saw was a new experience.  We had a full day of discovery and fun. 


40.  Bass Pro Shops-- this may sound silly as a "brand new" experience but I was amazed at all the store had to offer.  We saw fish, tons of taxidermied animals, took kid "classes" in fishing, metal detecting, and more. 


41.  Went Frogging-- We took a class at a local state park and learned about swamps and marshes.  We caught animals that live in these areas and studied them, identified them and then released them back into the wild. 


42.  Went walking on Eggshells-- this was one of the neatest science experiments we tried this year.  We all thought for sure that the eggs would break but they didn't-- not even after all three boys took a turn stepping/ walking on them!



43.  Carved their OWN pumpkins-- We have carved pumpkins in the past but I hate this chore and since they really wanted to carve pumpkins this year they offered to do it themselves.  I did help here and there but for the most part they did a huge part of the carving on their own. 


44.  Going to a Corn maze at Night with our flashlights and walking around to see tons of carved pumpkins-- all corn mazes are not the same so I'd argue that each maze is a new experience in and of itself but something about the dark sky and using flashlights made this night so memorable!



45.  Painting on the Beluga Whale's tank at Mystic Aquarium & watching the bubbleologist show.  While we are at Mystic Aquarium all the time we still, on occasion, find new things to experience there.  We were thrilled to get to paint on the whale's tank and amazed that they all wanted to come swim up to us to check out the painted designs. 


46.  Goodwin State Park-- another new park.  This was a park we hiked at with our homeschooling friends.  We got to see inside the nature center and learn a lot about the woods in our own backyard. 


47.  Ice skating in our house--- While Ian has ice skated several times skating indoors on the hardwood floors with wax paper was totally different and the boys had a blast one afternoon trying this out. 


48.  We made elephant paste-- a science project we'd been wanting to try for awhile. I finally ordered the supplies needed this year and we tried it out.  It was pretty cool. 

49.  Build model cars-- this was a new experience Ian really wanted to try out.  We bought him a model making kit at the local craft store and he put the whole thing together on his own one afternoon.
   

50.  Popping wheelies on scooters and bikes-- my kids have been riding anything with wheels for quite some time but they really focused on popping wheelies on everything this summer and were so proud of themselves and the steps they made toward achieving their goals. 

51.  Painted like Jackson Pollock--  this was a fun, summer, outdoor activity.  They had a blast splattering paint and using all sorts of different painting tools. 


52.  Watched apple cider being made--  I hesitated to call this one a new experience as all three of my boys went on a field trip in preschool to watch apple cider  being pressed, but since not one of them remembered it I decided it was a new experience.  Hopefully, they'll remember this time! 


Really these were just some of the "bigger" new things we tried this year and I found that while looking through my blog there were several other things I could have called new too.  I guess when you homeschool there's something "new" going on all the time!

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