Bishop Museum Family Field Trip with Young Children

The Bishop Museum Is a great experience for the whole family. Immerse yourself in Hawaiian culture, History, Art, and Science with kid friendly hands on activities in a beautiful setting.

The Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum located in the Kaliki district of Honolulu is quite impressive. The museum itself is stunning. Built in the Richardsonian Romanesque architectural style and is home to over 24 million natural history specimens and Polynesian cultural artifacts. 

There is something for everybody in the family here at the different buildings and immaculate grounds.  There is a Planetarium (the oldest in Polynesia), The Sports Hall of Fame, Art and History in the Hawaiian and Pacific Hall, Science Adventure Center, Libraries and Archives, and Native Hawaiian Gardens.  

Before we go any further though I would like to say maybe I am not accustomed to Museums because I thought it quite odd but intriguing all the creepy, morbid, and nude “gems” we found throughout our time here. The kids and I were fascinated around every corner to say the least. Be Forewarned.

The first part of the museum we explored was the planetarium. An educational and research facility devoted to astronomical sciences. They had great hands-on activities for the kids including a small sand bin to shape the earth and build mountains and ravines, that was even equipped with a water shower to fill the oceans you create. There was also small robot arms to control and gravity bowls to throw weighted balls in. Not to mention the planetarium itself!

After that we headed over to the Pacific and Hawaiian Complex Hall that starts off immediately impressive with large hanging marine life like a massive shark and even larger Complete sperm whale skeleton and life like mold. 

These structures were once dubbed “the noblest buildings of Honolulu” and it is easy to see why.  The walls are adorned with a multitude of gorgeous Koa wood display cases. Today this wood is worth more than the original Bishop Museum buildings! 

Each little divet showcases different aspects of Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders history. You will find hand carved statues, replicas of the old ways of living, and plenty of things to make your kids oooh and aahhh. 

My son especially loved seeing all the wayfarers, ships, and other water craft. The collection of tools, old photos, and showcases of expeditions uncovering the old boats was expansive and instilled a sense of wonder in my little ocean lovers. 

There was plenty to keep my touchy kids needs met here also with lots of interactive displays.  There were microscopes to look in, string to weave, ships to build, dress-up in native clothing, and pattern blocking. 

After you wind your way through the four stories you will find yourself on the top floor where you will finally get to come face to face with the behemoth of the sperm whale they pieced back together from the ocean floor. It was truly impressive to see and my kids couldn’t get enough.

When we made our way to the little building that housed the art exhibits things got a little odd but we laughed a lot and thoroughly enjoyed the little bit of time we spent in the dark rooms filled with odd little and big findings.  The art ranged from graphic photos and statues, to large pieces that made you ponder their existence. 

After all the excitement we settled down some in a breezy shaded pavilion in the Native Hawaiian Garden. We were the only ones there so I didn’t mind my kids running about like crazies after all the quiet observing they had just underwent. I decided to skip the cafe and instead we chowed on our favorite quick fuel. The Perfect Bar, oranges, and bottles of water. This is not an ad. I am just seriously in love with these organic protein bars. 

And finally we made it to our favorite part of the day.  The science adventure center.  Designed as a learning center for children, it includes tons of interactive exhibits focused on marine science, volcanology and other related sciences. 

Right when you walk in you are greeted with a large wall covered in shiny disc that show you the impact of air by turning the windmill and  beating on a drum. The kids Loved it. 

You will also find all kinds of creepy crawlies like beetles, insects, birds, and butterflies. This was one of the oddest encounters but my children were quite fascinated.  The hands presenting dead birds. I was happy to get on to the Volcano play room right ahead. 

The volcano had caves, a small slide and when you made you way to the top it was interactive when you pushed buttons to see the effects of gases and geysers.  This was definitely geared to the younger crowd though. I can’t imagine older children being nearly as excited as we were. 

We also got to walk through tunnels of black light painted walls that seemed other worldly that led to a cavern seeming room that made you feel as if you were under the ocean.  Here we met at the “hot spot” and got to watch a live showcase of pouring hot lava.  I learned that my Leo Gemstone Peridot, is actually gem grade lava crystals! Fits right in with my fiery nature…

All-in-all, it was an incredible learning adventure for my children and I.  There was so much to do and see and the kids had a blast exploring the beautiful museum as much as I did. I can see why this is at the top of the must do lists of things to do on Oahu with kids! 

Visit their website for up to date hours, prices, and exhibits.

Have you been to the Museum? If not, I hope this post made you want to go! Let us know if you enjoyed it as much as we did!

Learn + Play Beach Days| Unschooling

Some of the Best Dreams are made in the Sand and Sun

Beach days can be much more than just play and relaxation in the sun.  There are a multitude of ways to make it a learning experience for your toddlers and preschoolers.

After tons of research into trying to find curriculum for unschooling, I realized that was quite an oxymoron, and I would probably have to look at this homeschooling thing another way.  Thus begins my story of hoarding all the knowledge from as many different homeschooling stories, families, scenarios, and learning methods as I can find. 

One little curriculum I am very glad I purchased is called The Peaceful Preschool and it has a multitude of great ways to incorporate playful learning into your days. 

I went with the Ocean Guide because I have always been a beach baby myself and I don’t plan on ever being too far from the ocean for too long.

Here is some of the ways I use the simple curriculum to teach my babes phonics, counting, fine motor skills, large motor skills, practical life skills, and art all at a leisurely day at the beach and evening at home. 

Just playing in the sand and sun is a great way to get out the energies of my always overly energetic children and to build bonding relationships.

homeschool kids bonding at beach
Brother and Sister Playing Happily Together is Always Good Learning

It also builds on 

  • Physical development: Children playing with sand and water are practicing eye-hand coordination and using fine motor skills to scoop, sift, funnel, and pour.
  • Social and emotional skills: The beach is such a great place for my children to practice cooperative play and sharing. It also helps them explore and enjoy the sensory experience of manipulating fluid and solid materials. Digging in sand or splashing water also provides an acceptable way for them to vent anger or frustration when the cooperating gets a little too tough.

After letting them have some much needed wild and free time where I get to sit back and see what kind of things are coming to them naturally we had some guided play time. There are lots of fun ways to promote learning without them knowing they are doing anything but playing.

children learning about fish in homeschool day at beach
Getting an Up-Close Experience with A Fish Caught in Net
  • Phonics Tracing letters in the sand, arranging shells into letters, pointing out and finding things around you and their letters ( what do you see that starts with B) 
  • Counting seashells or other treasures, asking them to build 3 sand castles, or dig 5 holes to put 2 seashells in. Count the people around you or point out that there are 3 girls, or 6 other children swimming.  Finding numbers is easy. Sneak in a few counting exercises throughout your time on the beach instead of all at once so they don’t get burnt out or catch on to your sneaky teachers ways.
  • Fine Motor Skills will come naturally at the beach.  Try giving them funnels and measuring cups, burying small items in the sand or asking them to place seashells on sand castles, build shapes and letters or numbers with shells or small toys
  • Large Motor Skills Fly a kite, building sand castles, play with beach balls, have them put on their own floats and go for a swim, pretend to fly like a seagull, or inch across the sand like a sea turtle
  • Practical Life Skills have them help pack the beach bag and decide what should go, fold the towels, discuss beach safety, have them apply sunscreen themselves or say the body parts of where you are applying and why it is important, pick up trash found on beach and take home to recycle or throw away, check the tides and discuss low tide and high tide

Our favorite afternoons on the beach are simple strolls collecting treasures. We love to bring a basket and find as many different varieties of specimens as possible. We also collect sand to bring home for lots of different play and science experiments. 

Baskets full of Beach Treasures

Once home we will look through ocean encyclopedias or use the home computer to identify all the fun things we found.  

After we know what we are working with we mix a cleaning solution of warm water and dish soap or a touch of bleach and grab a toothbrush or straw cleaner to scrub our treasures clean. 

We use the shells, sea grass, broken bits of coral, and other fun treasures as painting and art materials, for wind chimes, fun class materials for forming letters, numbers and shapes. 

Baking the sand makes for a great science and kitchen lesson in one. Learning about temperature safety, while learning kitchen etiquette and cleanliness, hypothesizing about how long it will take to go from wet to dry, and guessing whether it would burn or not, were all part of the fun in drying and sanitizing the sand for future play. 

On this day we glued some of the sand we prepped to a piece of paper and then painted the ocean and sky. We also glued some small pieces of shells and seaweed after it was all dry. In retrospect we should have painted first then glued the sand but that was part of our learning process and I didn’t mind that I got to explain that to them as we learned it together. 

Learning at the beach is really quite easy and there are so many options.  I like to take it slow and not do to much in one day, or push to much at one time as it seems to fustrate everybody and take away from the learning and just plain happiness of the experience. 

So grab up your kiddos and get to the beach for a great day of playful learning!

Let me know some of your favorite beach day activities and if you homeschool I would love to hear how you incorporate learning in your nature play!

Lazy Rainy Day Play Doh Experiments That Are Incredibly Easy

Some days I have no patience and a zero mess tolerance. These simple Play Doh creations are extremely easy to make, have simple and safe on hand ingredients, keep my children engaged in a creative sensory learning environment, and is hassle free when it comes to a quick clean up!

close up of boy holding homemade play doh and step by step instructions of how to make it

Since we have adopted a less is more attitude lately we don’t have a lot of toys or extras around the house. This minimalist lifestyle has not hindered us a bit. In fact, we are able to find so many different ways of getting creative and find most of our time happy and discovering outside. Unfortunately, rainy days happen even in paradise and this mama doesn’t always have a plan or patience to quite deal with 3 energetic little ones, especially when there is something I am obsessing over to get done.

You don’t need a plan, patience, or a lot of time

to get your kids in a good place of engaged, creative learning so you can sneak some time for work, relax, or play. I personally end up doing all three every time we do these fun experiments. The kids and I get to connect through fun sensory play together before I sit and zone out watching them and wonder at their ways, before finally letting them have at it while I do housework, write, or catch up with my photography or blog.
All it takes is finding some simple kitchen and/or nature ingredients and gathering a few household supplies.

Supplies

  • Large Mixing Bowls
  • Rubber Spatulas
  • Bed Sheet
  • Beach Toys
  • Sensory Toys (beads, sticks, etc)

Ingredients

  • Flour
  • Cornstarch
  • Baby Powder
  • Sand
  • Oils ( coconut, olive, baby, etc)
  • Clear Handsoap
  • Conditioner

Does that look like a lot of ingredients to you? Pick 1 solid and 1 liquid and have at it. I find myself looking at all the perfect moms and there perfect play-doh recipes on pinterest and I love them for all of the amazing inspiration they give me… BUT

I’m just not that bright, colorful, perfect mama everyday

engaged learning and hands on fun with homemade play doh
Hands on Fun

But my kids don’t care how pretty play-doh is. They care that we made it. They care that we get to play with it together. And most of all they care that they are free to make messes, build, and destroy their creations at their own whims.

We started with our large mixing bowls and rubber spatulas, 1 solid and 1 liquid.Our first attempt and favorite was inspired by this post for 2 Ingredient Fluffy Cloud Dough from Southern Plate. Since I’m not usually one for measuring but prefer to go by eyeing and testing I figured we couldn’t go wrong with this recipe.

For this soft fluffy fun stuff all we did was throw corn starch in a bowl then add some cheap conditioner and start mixing. It always starts off a little crazy and you will think you surely did something wrong. Once you start seeing it clump together just start kneading with your hands and Viola. Play-Doh. I’m not sure if this is magic or science but we are going with both for now.

My daughter picked pink strawberry suave since she is slightly obsessed with pink and my son picked a blue suave conditioner that smelled like ocean breeze. These actually weren’t bad and made the end result a soft, cool to the touch, faintly sweet smelling concoction of fun.

Some of our experiments did not turn out as easy but were still pretty manageable. Like I said, you will come to a point in most of these recipes where you wonder how this will work. When we mixed corn meal and baby oil it was pretty sticky at first. Then we added some hand soap and it was worse. Until it wasn’t. The oils will absorb after enough kneading and even this ridiculous mess of yellow that seems to be completely covering my hands worked up nicely. 

The possibilities seem pretty endless when it comes to experimenting and playing. We loved making pumpkins, snowmen, animals, and shapes. The kids especially loved when I made something and they could destroy in some hilarious new way.

To make sure to keep it an easy to clean and stress free environment for you, just throw down a bed sheet. Our wrinkly sheet from the garage was a wonder and shook out easy outside. Bonus if it is raining for sweet mother nature will clean up the rest for you. It is also extremely easy to sweep off a tile floor.

Snowman made out of homemade play dough, photography of childhood imagination
Snowman in July … Why Not
beach toys for play with diy play dough, creative childhood play
No Shirt, No Shoes, No Worries .. Just Play Kinda Day

The point of this post isn’t to show you how to make play-doh though. It is to let you know that it doesn’t have to be perfect. It can be a little messy and unmeasured and you still can’t fail. Because what it is really about is finding a brief moment to step away from “the rest” and connect with the kids.

For me on this day I was having a rough go. I’m not sure we even got dressed. I had a few million things that I wanted to accomplish and felt the weight of it all with the pressure of being cooped up inside on this rainy day. When I started taking it out on the kids I knew I needed to cope with what I could. The world would wait like always.

20 minutes and a few things thrown together from around the house and I was in a much calmer state of mind. The kids were engaged and happy and I was able to chip away at the mountain of wants, needs, and goals that will always be there.

To look back and see the pictures of my smiling happy babies I get so emotional. Once upon a time I wouldn’t have been able to step out of whatever situation I was obsessing over and would have resented the time the kids were taking from me. I am so grateful for the days I am strong enough to look at a situation and know it can wait just a few minutes.

image of a smiling happy boy
smiling happy girl with bright beautiful blue eyes

Because these smiling faces right here are what it is all for anyway.