Design Your Own One-Of-A-Kind Study

You’re really passionate about a certain topic and want to learn all you can about it. You know you can do it on your own, but you’re not sure where to begin.

Any topic can be turned into a one-of-a-kind study designed to fit your personal needs. Here are a few suggestions to get you started on your way:

  • If you have specific interests about your chosen topic, write down what you want to know, and any questions you may have, and move on from there.
  • As you’re learning, jot down any questions or thoughts you may have. They will help to direct you when you’re ready to take on another area of your chosen topic.
  • Learning on your own doesn’t have any rules, you get to start anywhere you want, and go in the direction that best suits your needs.
  • There aren’t any time constraints when you’re in control of your own learning journey, so spend as much time as you need satisfying your curiosities.
  • Go with the flow by allowing the learning process to take on a life of its own. Doing this will allow the topic, or topic area, to take you on a learning adventure designed just for you.
  • You’re only limited by your resources. Thinking out of the box and being observant can be your greatest allies when finding resources to learn from.
  • If you don’t know where to begin, watch a video, read something such as an article or a book, or talk or listen to someone. You may begin to form questions, or get curious about some of the things you read or hear, and be able to go on from there.

In my next post, I’ll offer some tips about finding resources that can be used to suit your learning needs.

Thanks for reading!
Fran W.

If this topic interests you, I invite you to connect with me via email, Facebook – Twitter – Pinterest  Google+
If you have any questions, please leave me a comment and I’ll address it as soon as I can. You can also send me a message at learningisnatural@gmail.com.


Related Posts:

Note: If this, or any other post on Fran’s World of Discovery, 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!

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Create A Comic

“Famous Funnies 1933” by “Famous Funnies”
– Carnival of Comics

A really creative and fun way to play with language is to use pictures to communicate an opinion, thought or story. Comics can be used to do this, and the great thing about them is that they can be as short as one box, fill a strip of boxes, or an entire book!


What would you like to say using pictures and maybe some words? There’s no end to how creative you can be while making one of your own comics!

To make your own comic you will need…

A ruler, plain paper, a sharpened pencil or fine tipped pen/marker

Optional items: Colored pencils, colored makers

What to do…

Use a ruler to make a box or a series of boxes on plain paper. Then draw your comic with a sharpened pencil, a fine tipped pen or marker, and color in your picture with colored pencils or markers if you want to.

You can also use Make Beliefs Comixto create a comic of your own online.

If you need some inspiration, look for comics in the newspapers, or comic books and graphic novels in book stores or the library. 
Tim Hunkinused comics to show how to do a variety of science experiments. 

There are all kinds of comic book heroes that may inspire you into making your own as well. Read some comics through before you begin your own if you need to.

Comic Book + has a large collection of Golden and Silver Age comics that are legal and FREE to read online, although registration is required to download them. They also have comic strips, pulp fiction, pamphlets and other publications.


Famous Funnies – American’s first comic. Preview old copies online or download digital copies.

There have been many famous comics over the years! 
Here are some popular ones…


Marvel Comics offers visitors the chance to design a comic strip or book right on their site, and provides heroes and villains to place in the comic. Registration is required if you want to use the save option.

Comic history


Websites can change at any time! Child supervision is suggested when viewing the sites provided.

Printable Templates

Printable Pages: Comic Templates

Select a language, then make a comic using the items available.
Click on the printer located at the top right-hand corner of the page for a variety of printable pages.


Related posts on Fran’s World of Discovery…

Building Writing Skills – Activities that build writing skills, naturally. 

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Note: Has this or another activity on Fran’s World of Discovery 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!

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

Now we use some other things like stamps, stencils, cut-outs, paper punches, holiday paper, decorative scissors, old Christmas cards and anything else we have on hand!

We make many of our own stamps by putting foam stickers on bottle caps and make stencils and patterns from recycled cereal and cracker boxes.

After writing down a list of people we need to make cards for, we get busy.

Here are some of the things we put on our holiday cards, depending on who we are sending it to:

Trees, presents, sleighs, candy canes, snowmen, holly, stockings, snowflakes, bows, a nativity scene, a snow scene, a cabin in the woods, a religious symbol, train, puppy, a cup of hot cocoa, penguin, gingerbread house, etc.

When it comes to making homemade greeting cards, anything goes! For us, the main idea is to think of how to put a smile on someone’s face this holiday season and to be as creative as we can be.

The natural benefits of making homemade greeting cards?

We make our own holiday cards because it is something we enjoy and look forward to doing a few times a year, but there are many natural benefits to making them, depending on the challenge we are up to at the time. Making cards that pop-up or out, slide, or fold a certain way, all take patience, planning and measuring. Simple cards can offer the maker a chance to be creative, use their imagination, practice cutting and/or drawing skills, and help to build language skills and self-confidence. We personally find it fun to challenge and add to what we already know.

I hope holiday card making becomes a fun family tradition in your home, as it has in mine.

Need some inspiration?

Pop-Up Cards


Christmas Pop-up Card
This site offers illustrated instructions for making a beautiful holiday pop-up card with presents inside.

How to Make a Christmas Tree Pop-Up Card
Illustrated pictures show you how to make a simple pop-up card. Be sure to check out the how-to video on the bottom of the post as well.

Multi-Material Cards

Better Homes & Gardens: Homemade Christmas Cards
Better Homes and Gardens offers a slide show of 35 Christmas cards made with a variety of items such as felt, paper, fabric scraps, recycled materials and a few other things. This slide show, on the same site, has 13 more cards.
If you have some old Christmas cards that you would like get creative with, you will find some wonderful ideas here on this same site.
HGTV: 16 Handmade Holiday Cards – Move through the picture gallery via the arrows on the left and right of the picture.
Handimania: 17 Beautiful DIY & Homemade Christmas Card Ideas – Scroll down to check them all out!

Related posts on Fran’s World of Discovery…

Christmas/Holiday House

Candy Countdown Calendar

December Activities


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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!


Make Your Own: Scented Play Clay

Scented Play Clay by Fran W


To make your own play dough, you will need:


1c flour

½c salt

2 tsp cream of tartar

1T oil

1c water

Optional:

1 package of flavored drink mix (w/o sweeter)
Ex: Strawberry, fruit punch, grape, cherry, lemon, lime, etc.

Food coloring – Use as many drops as needed to get the color you want.

What to do…

Put all the ingredients together in a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat. Stir mixture constantly until all the lumps have been removed and the dough forms a ball (3-4 min). Allow dough to cool a little, then knead on a floured surface until smooth.

Tips..

  • Food coloring or scent can be added to the pot to make one color/scent.
  • To make more than one scent/color, add nothing to the pot while making the dough, then break it up and add food coloring/scent a little at a time while kneading.
  • Instead of unsweetened flavor packets, use cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice, essential oils or food extracts as scents.
  • Mix colors to get a new color.
  • Form dough into shapes and allow them to dry. Drying may take a few days depending on the weather and thickness of your creations.
  • Store leftover dough in an airtight containers for a week or refrigerate in airtight container to make it last longer.


Note: This dough is not edible.

Make Your Own: Tic-Tac-Toe Game Board

Tic-tac-toe board by Fran W

Tic-Tac-Toe (Crosses & Naughts)

Strategy games have been around for centuries and were often made with or from natural items.

Strategy games are great for building critical thinking skills because players need to observe the game so they can block the other players and take advantage of moves in order to win the game. They’re also good for thinking ahead and deductive reasoning.

Tic-Tac-Toe is often played as a pencil and paper game, but creating a one-of-a-kind board to play on over and over can be fun to make and use. 

Tic-Tac-Toe is simple to learn how to play and can be enjoyed by any age! 

To make a tic-tac-toe board, you will need…
A 6 inch cardboard square, ruler, pencil, markers, 10 bottle caps – 5 of one color and 5 of another color. 

Optional: Two different types of coins can be used to play, as well as shapes made from cardboard.

What to do…

Using a ruler and a pencil, draw lines on the cardboard square like a number sign # as evenly as possible, then trace over them with a marker.

To play… 

This is a two player game where players take turns placing their pieces on the board. 
The object of the game is for one player to get 3 playing pieces in a row vertically, horizontally, or diagonally to win the game.

More suggestions…

Decorate the board

– Cut a construction paper square the size of the cardboard, glue it to the board, draw even lines in the middle to play the game, then decorate around the edges with markers or stickers.

– Use a picture from a magazine for a border and glue a game board to the middle.

Tic-tac-toe game board

– For an extra challenge, make a frame out of construction paper. Measure the center opening, and when you cut a piece of construction paper to fit the middle, add an extra half an inch around so it can be glued to the back of the frame. Glue the whole thing to the cardboard. Use a pencil and a ruler to make even lines for the game, then trace them with a marker. Use the picture as a guide if needed.

Game Pieces

Play Tic-tac-toe


Make game pieces out of cardboard and construction paper. Glue an envelope to the back of the game board to hold game pieces. If you use bottle caps, tape a clean, recycled zip-top bag to the back to hold them. Add stickers if desired.

Score Board

Extend the game board to include a score board and make tally markers from cardboard.


History of Tic-Tac-Toe

Tic-Tac-Toe has a very long history! Learn about it here.

Making a permanent board will allow you to take it with you when you travel. 

When you’re on vacation, and the weather is uncooperative, recycled items can help pass the time.


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Make Your Own: Crafts from Repurposed Items



Before throwing something into the recycle bin or trash, think of crafty ways items can be creatively repurposed! 

Luminaries are a fun craft project to make from clear plastic milk/juice/tea containers.

Save your egg shells, paint them with water color paints and make egg shell art out of them.

If your store still offers paper bags, bring your groceries home in a few and make a sturdy bag out of them by adding a handle. Paint the bag to match the season, holiday or whatever! It’s great for gift giving too!

Your old T-shirts can be transformed into a bag by cutting off the sleeve and neck at the seam and stitching the bottom up.


Make Your Own: Fun Putty

Fun Putty by Fran W.


Fun putty is easy to make and a blast to play with…so why not make a batch and have a great time exploring science!

To make fun putty, you will need:
Glue, liquid starch, craft stick, plastic zip-top bag, 3oz cup, or a plate, food coloring is optional
The basic recipe is…

1 part glue
1 part liquid laundry starch
How the putty can be made…
Quick and Easy Version…
Pour 1 T of glue and a few drops of food coloring into a cup, or on a plate, then add 1 T of starch and mix together with a craft stick until a firm ball is formed.
Pick up the putty, squish it until it tightens up a bit, and let the fun begin!

If the putty is too gooey, add more starch. If it’s tight, try adding more glue.
Experiment until you get the consistency you like.

Store in a zip-top bag and refrigerate.
Tip: You can mix the putty in a zip-top bag as well.
Try this Glow-in-the-dark version too!
Discovery Version…
It can be lot of fun to experiment while making this putty because you can watch the chemical reaction take place a little bit at a time while you mix the two materials together slowly.

Warning: This version will get really stringy and a bit messy before the mixture tightens up and forms the putty. It may be best to use this method while wearing old clothing in an area that is easy to clean up.
What to do…
Using a plate and a craft stick or your finger, pour a little bit of glue on the plate and then add starch a little at a time. Mix with the stick or your finger and observe how the the mixture begins to come together and tighten up. Add a little more starch and observe what happens as you mix it some more. Keep on adding starch a little a time until you get a flexible ball that is stretchy, pliable, and fun to play with!

Suggestions for play…

  • Stretch it.
  • Roll it.
  • Form it. 
  • Take it apart and make faces with it.
  • Allow it to relax and make shapes out of it with your finger.
  • Put the whole ball of putty at the end of a straw and blow through the straw to form a bubble.

What’s going on?

If you would like to know what’s going on in this experiment, please visit the following sites.

About: Chemistry: History of Silly Putty (Science of Toys) includes a brief explanation of what the reaction is and why it takes place. This site also includes other Silly Putty Recipes and some other fun activities/experiments that can be done with this material.

How Stuff Works: Silly Putty
This site offers the history of Silly Putty and how it works.

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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!


Make Your Own: Cocoa Lip Balm

Cocoa lip balm by Fran W.


If you like chocolate, then you may enjoy wearing this lip balm! 

3 tsp (or 1T) Petroleum jelly or shea butter
1 tsp Cocoa powder
1 Vitamin E capsule and a pin (optional)
Craft sticks
Measuring spoons
Heat-proof bowl for mixing
Small containers

How to make lip balm…


*Melt petroleum jelly or shea butter in a heat-proof container, add cocoa and the contents of a vitamin E capsule by piercing it with a pin, and stir with craft stick until smooth.

Once the mixture cools, it will become solid again.

Suggestions for melting jelly or butter…

* Boiled water – Pour boiling water into a heat-proof container, place the bowl with petroleum jelly or shea butter over the hot water, and carefully mix until smooth. Be careful not to get water in the mixture.

* Microwave – Place heat-proof bowl in the microwave for 10 seconds at a time until petroleum jelly or shea butter turns to liquid (do not allow to boil).


Note: If you want to make more lip balm at one time, use 3 parts petroleum jelly or shea butter to 1 part cocoa powder and an extra a vitamin E capsule.

Example: 
6 tsp (or 2 T) petroleum jelly or shea butter to 2 tsp of cocoa
9 tsp (or 3 T) petroleum jelly or shea butter to 3 tsp of cocoa

Tip: 
Look for small cosmetic containers in the health and beauty department of your favorite store. Contact lens cases can also be used for storing lip balm.

Scent alternatives…


Chocolate-Coconut: Use a small amount of coconut oil or a drop of coconut essential oil to the mixture. 

Try other essential oils such as orange, peppermint, berry, or another favorite scent.

Make Your Own: Cocoa Bubble Bath/ Body Wash

Cocoa Bubble Bath by Fran W



This quick and easy recipe will not only make a fun bubble bath but it can be used as a body wash as well!

To make your own cocoa-scented bubble bath or body wash, you will need…

1c Unscented baby soap (liquid) or 1/2c liquid Castile soap
1/4c Glycerin
1/8c Cocoa power
1 Vitamin E capsule and a pin (optional)
1/2 – 3/4c Water
Funnel
Bowl for mixing
A bottle that can hold 2 cups of liquid (a recycled shampoo bottle will work)

What to do…

Mix a 1/2 cup of water with cocoa powder, stir with a spoon until the powder dissolves, and set it aside.

Pour the Baby or Castile soap into a bottle, then add the glycerin and water/cocoa mixture. Remove the funnel, pop open the vitamin E capsule (you can use a pin to do this), and squeeze the contents into the bottle and discard capsule. Add the rest of the water to the bottle, close, and shake well. 

How to use…

To use as a bubble bath, shake well then pour a couple of tablespoons or so of the mixture into running water.

To use as a body wash, shake well then put a small amount of liquid on a puff or sponge, squeeze until foamy and wash as usual.

Scent alternatives…

Chocolate Covered BerryInstead of using baby soap, use strawberry or raspberry shampoo as the main soap base.

Chocolate-Mint: Castile soap comes in peppermint and can be used as the soap base. Mint essential oil can also be added to unscented shampoo.

Chocolate-Coconut: Add a tablespoon or two of coconut oil or a few drops of essential oil to the mixture. 
Try some other essential oils such as orange, vanilla, cherry, or another favorite scent.

Tips…

Make a gift basket: An inexpensive gift basket can be made up for birthdays, holidays, or just because! 
Check the dollar store for travel-size bottles, bath puffs, and baskets. 

Label your creation: Think about making labels for your final product.

Related post:

Chocolate
Chocolate Lip Balm



Make Your Own: Bubble Solution

Homemade bubbles by Fran W.

People of all ages enjoy blowing bubbles and while commercial bubbles are a little more convenient, making your own can be a lot of fun!


To make your own bubble solution, you will need:

Dish soap (Joy, Ajax, Dawn, etc.)
Water
Corn syrup, sugar, and/or glycerin
Salt
Cooking oil
8oz Plastic cup
Craft sticks
Measuring spoons
Straw
String

Optional: Food coloring, pencil and paper or a recording device, commercial bubbles, pipe cleaners/chenille stems

What to do:

Create your own bubble solution!

Solution #1: A basic formula

Start by pouring a little dish soap and water into a plastic cup then slowly stir the liquid with a straw. When the solution is mixed, test it out by dipping the straw into the liquid and blowing through it to see if the solution can form bubbles, and how strong the bubbles are. If the bubble pops too quickly, decide if you need to add more soap or water to your solution. If you get one or two bubbles, or a stream of bubbles, and they last for a little while, you know you are on the right track. 

Solution #2: Bubbles that are stronger or last longer

Adding a little corn syrup, sugar or glycerin to your bubble solution makes stronger or longer lasting bubbles. Find out if this is true by adding a little bit of one of the suggested items to your solution.

Solution #3: Bubbles with Unusual Ingredients

Some solutions are made with salt or cooking oil. Try to make a bubble solution that uses some salt (pdf) or cooking oil in the recipe.

Pre-measured bubble recipes can be found here

Extra activities

– If you would like to keep track of how your solution is made, use measuring spoons when adding ingredients and then write, draw, take pictures, or record the procedure on a video or audio device.

– Compare your homemade solution to commercial bubbles.

– Find out what bubbles are and how they work.

– Do some experimenting with bubbles such as blowing a bubble within a bubble or make bubble structures using multiple wands. 

– Get a stopwatch and find out how long your bubbles can stay formed before they pop.

– How high of a bubble mountain can you make? Pour bubbles into a shallow pan and blow air into it with a straw to find out.

– Make your own bubble wands out of: straw and string, pipe cleaners, wire, paper and other household items. 

– Blow bubbles and see how many you can catch on your wand and blow them again to see how many you get the second or third time.

Something to inspire you….


After a brief explanation about how bubbles work, the following YouTube video features an amazing bubble performance by bubble artist, Deni Yang.




Sites to investigate….

A printable pdf written by Bernie Zubrowski filled with bubble experiments.

Learn what’s so fascinating about bubbles! 

Explore some other bubble related sites.

Activity Village
This site offers a recipe and some other bubble activities.

BIG Bubbles
Site offers suggestions for making very large bubbles.

Bubble Geometry
Thinking Fountain offers suggestions for simple bubble geometry.

Bubble Poetry (This link will take you to the poem, ‘Blowing Bubbles’.)
Familyfriend Poems has poems based on bubbles written by its members. Put the word “Bubbles” in the search box on the top right hand corner of the page to pull up more bubble related poetry. Some poems may not be appropriate for all audiences.


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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!