This Month's Featured Resources...

Father's DayTravel - CookingLatin WW2

Thursday, May 24

I'm Into Something Good (Herman's Hermits)

Healthy eating on the road can be very tricky!  It's so easy to fall into the trap of fast food and convenience foods, especially on long travel days, when your only stops are at the gas station or to pick up a quick bite.

If you have a cooler, pack it with washed grapes, carrot sticks, apple slices, or any other fruit & vegetable finger foods your family will eat for snacks.  We typically throw whatever's in the fridge into the cooler as well - any lunchmeat, veggies, string cheese, etc that we can use up for lunches. 

It's almost impossible to travel with a pack of hungry boys and NOT have snacks on-hand in the car, but we buy these ahead of time, and try to stick to the shopper's guide for avoiding genetically-modified foods. (These are some of my favorite anti-GMO cartoons that have popped up over Facebook recently.)
The Eat Well online guide helps to find local, sustainable, and organic food wherever you go.  Some areas will have considerably more options, but it never hurts to check!  And should you happen upon a local Farmer's Market, here is a unit study (free) to keep the kids busy while you put away your goodies.
Often, we are unable to find such places, so we hit the a local store to pick up kitchen basics upon our arrival.  By eating breakfast at the hotel and packing lunches each day, we are able to save quite a bit on eating out - and we know (mostly) what's going into our meals.  Your cooler is a great asset...get some ice from the hotel and put it to work.  The bigger the cooler, the more money saved!  
One corner of our cooler is even dedicated to mom's kefir, kombucha, and herbalism concoctions!  (Follow those links to find easy ways to make your own...)  Just remember to that one of the best ways to stay healthy is to eat real food - if your great-grandmother wouldn't have recognized it, then don't eat it!

Tuesday, May 22

So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish! (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy)

During our trip to Cabo San Lucas, the oldest, who has had an interest in marine biology for some time now, had the opportunity to take a full-day Dolphin Training course at the local marine center.  It was a bit pricey, but one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that we felt would be worth the expense.  (It turned out to be...while he enjoyed it, he decided that this was not the career path for him after all.  I call that money well spent!)
While one of the kids spent the day in the (very cold!) water learning how to train dolphins, the others went exploring in caves and out for a day of sea fishing.  Then, we parents wrapped up the evening with a sunset cruise...   Ah, Cabo!  We miss you!

Facts About Dolphins:

  • Dolphins are mammals, they breath air, feed their young milk, are warm blooded, and have hair on their bodies.
  • Dolphins make clicking and squealing noises to communicate.  You can approximate a dolphin’s whistles with a balloon by letting the air out slowly with the neck stretched.
  • Dolphins like humans and can be trained to do everything from tricks in an aquarium to carrying the mail for underwater research labs.  Some dolphins have been trained to swim with handicapped children.
  • Dolphins can stay under water for fifteen minutes at a time.
  • If a dolphin gets sick or injured, other members of its family help it swim and get breaths of air until it can swim on its own.
  • Dolphins work together to protect the group from predators like sharks.
  • Dolphins use echolocation to find food.
  • Dolphins eat fish and squid.
  • Dolphins are really interesting mammals, especially when it comes to their interactions with humans.  They are incredibly friendly and trainable, so we can observe them and their behaviors.  They are used by the military to find mines, by many resorts that allow you to go swim and interact with them, and by Sea World and other similar attractions for shows.  They do amazing tricks.
Resources :
Be sure to check out our other Zoo Studies!

Monday, May 21

Trellis & the Seed : A Picnic Parade Fun Day!

Spring is here, and we're focusing heavily on gardening.  I think that, if you want the kids to understand plant growth, they should first understand basic plant anatomy.  So we're taking a picnic...enjoying some plant-based foods and a plant unit study!  But first - our read-aloud for the picnic...

We're reading Jan Karon's The Trellis and the Seed.  (It has a free lapbook to accompany it, if you're interested.)  In this gently told parable, Jan Karon tells a story of patience, of the special rewards that come from being a little bit different from everyone else, and of the courage to believe in oneself.   In a picturesque and secluded garden, a tiny seed sits in thrilled anticipation of its destiny as a powerful vine, twisting and flowering through the white latticework trellis. But how could such a small seed ever thrive and grow into a strong, healthy, grown-up plant? "Don't worry," Mother Earth says. "God has planned something beautiful for you." But time passes, and the little seed doesn't believe it.  Beautifully illustrated and filled with faith and love, The Trellis and the Seed is Jan Karon at her very best-an inspiration for all ages and an important lesson on God's love for all creatures great and small.
In the spirit of playing with our food, we're having Ants on a Log and Grape Caterpillars.  These are both super easy foods that your preschooler will be able to help make!  Ants on a Log are made by cutting a celery stick in half and smearing peanut butter on the insides - then line up some raisins like ants walking along it.  For Grape Caterpillars, put a skewer through ten to twelve grapes.  (Googly eyes optional.)

We began by examining the flower, intact.  The kids drew pictures of the tulip, and labeled the important parts.  Then we dug a little deeper, and learned the plant classifications : monocotyledon and dicotyledon, commonly referred to as monocots and dicots.
Then we pulled out the scalpel and cutting board, and went to work!  We worked our way from the top down, examining the petals and plant reproductive system first.  There are great (free) resources to help you with this part at the bottom of this post.  If you look closely, you can see the teeny ovules.
We carefully pulled apart the leaves and checked out how the plant gets its nutrients by capillary action.  There is a fantastic Young Scientists' kit that demonstrates capillary action through multiple experiments.  For a quick & easy show, though, you can stick a celery stalk into a glass with blue or red food coloring - leave it overnight and watch the magic as the stalk turns colors!

Finally, we got down to the bulb - the seed of this tulip plant. The boys enjoyed peeling layer after layer off the bulb until they reached the stalk and fibrous roots.
Here are a couple of anatomical diagramming pages to get you started....

Resources :

If you don't already own the Magic School Bus DVD set, I highly recommend it.  Ninety percent of the time, I can find an introductory-level video that engages the kids in whatever science topic we will be discussing.  They retain a lot of information, without even realizing it, and all because Miss Frizzle makes it so fun!  This 8-dvd set has twenty-six hours of episodes!!


  • 4 pots
  • 1 jar with a lid
  • 5 healthy plants  (same size & kind)
  • potting soil
  • water
  • labels
  • paper & crayons
  • Put one plant in a jar, with soil, and put the lid on it.  Label it "No Air."
  • Put a plant into a pot with no soil.  Label it "No Soil."
  • Put a plant into a pot with soil and label it "No Sun."  (Keep it in the dark)
  • Put a plant into a pot with soil and label it "No Water."  (Give it sun, but no water)
  • Put a plant into a pot and label it "Soil, Sun, Water, and Air."  (Give it all four)
  • Keep track of your plants' growth for 7-10 days.  Note any changes.
  • What did you learn about plant needs?

Friday, May 18

Custer (Johnny Cash)

After leaving Mount Rushmore, we were hot and tired.  But in a good way!  We headed out just a little ways and came upon the town of Custer.  This is a cute little town that's perfect for an day stop!
PizzaWorks, in downtown Custer, has fabulously delicious, handmade pies!  We enjoyed watching the pizza makers throw the dough, and took forever to determine which of the umpteen toppings to select!  The air conditioning was pretty sweet, too!
The Custer Museum showcases the history of this region of South Dakota, all the way from the earliest Native American tribes to today.  We also loved walking through actual historic sites, each with their own little history lesson above the door...such as this one at a main street cafe.
Admittedly, the rock shop two doors down from the pizza place was the boys' favorite stop in this town!  They have all kinds of rocks.  Not only that, but they have educational information about most of them, and the shop owners are extremely knowledgeable about their goods.  They spent over an hour talking geology, rocks, and minerals with the boys.  If you have extra time, I recommend this rock shop over some of the others!  (Unfortunately, I can't remember the name, but it's two doors down on the same side of the street as the pizza joint.)  
Check it out - the Rock Shop even has a clearance table!!!  My husband can find Martin Luther King Jr drive in any city (seriously...and always by accident), but the kids and I can find the clearance table in any store.  It's a gift!  We also popped into the Naked Winery, across from PizzaWorks, but didn't take any pictures there....not for the reasons you're thinking!  They are actually set up for entire families to enjoy the atmosphere, with chocolates and juice for the kids.  

No unit study today.....just enjoying a small, South Dakotan town!  If you want to find a related unit study, check out the one on General Custer and the Battle at Little Big Horn.

Tuesday, May 15

World War 2 "Fun Studies" - Giveaway Blog Hop

Hands-on Learning is the name of the game here at Gypsy Road. But even if you school traditionally, summer time is perfect for field tripscreating costumes, making a movie, or using's always about getting the experience to cement learning. 

Our freebies and unit studies are all about reinforcing this learning style - and we hope that you are enjoying them!

The kids just finished up a really fun study on World War 2!  We made it age-appropriate, and even ended the semester with a co-op movie.  It's super-cute...check it out below!  (Meet the kids and see how they created everything in the special features at the end.)
World War II - Summer Study

Full History Curriculum
If you're looking for an excellent history curriculum that involves hands-on projects, audiobooks, and extras, check out The Good & the Beautiful!  
     TGTB Extensions
Several moms have gotten together to host an "extras" page for this curriculum, which can be found here.  On it, you'll find :
  • Science
  • Language Arts
  • History
  • Extras (Notebooks, Typing, Handwriting, etc)

In each section, you will find :
  • Video Reviews
  • Links to accompanying video playlists
  • Printable list of playlist links
  • Printable reading lists
  • Printable activities

Mommy Island & the Kids Did It are hosting a giveaway hop.  Visit all of the pages below to win!
We are giving away a  $10 TPT Gift Card to be used in our Gypsy Road store at Teachers Pay Teachers.  You can use this on the World War II Lego-themed fun pack or any other product in our store.  Good luck!

Monday, May 14

Tulip Time (Andrews Sisters)

Holland Museum

We kicked off our trip to Michigan with a trip to Holland, home of all things Dutch!  Our trip even coincided with Tulip Time, the biggest festival of the year!
At the Holland Museum, we learned about the area Anishanabek Native Americans and the stormy seas of Lake Michigan. 
We saw things that the Dutch settlers brought with them (including a pewter spork!), and found this impressive bronze clock that demonstrated the Dutch governmental tiers.

Nelis Dutch Village 

From there, we headed to Nelis Dutch Village, a hands-on step back into time.  Children and adults alike can learn about the daily lives of 19th century Dutch immigrants. 
After visiting the Wooden Shoe, the farmer's wife taught us about animal husbandry and cheese-making.
We learned that Black Pietr brings gifts, rather than Sinterclauss.

 The dancers perform several times each day.
At the weigh-house, you can learn about measurement techniques, and even weigh yourself!

We learned how to make wooden shoes, both by hand and machine.


See that one red flower in there?  That's me!

The zip line is kid-friendly and a definite must-do!!!  It is located right beside the FREE carousel.

Windmill Island  :  Although weather kept us from visiting this spot, we recommend it to those visiting the area.