Thursday, January 31, 2013

Travelin' Thursday

We're almost finished introducing our week of new features here at Life is Great in a 31 by 8. Today's feature is Travelin' Thursday. On Travelin' Thursday, we'll highlight locations across the United States that we plan on traveling to. Don't expect a lot of Disney, Lego Land, Busch Gardens kind of attractions. We're focusing on the attractions that showcase the wonders of creation, the natural places that we want our children to see, part of the reason we have "The Dream" in the first place. Join us every week to learn a little about some off-the-beaten-path wonders of nature, as well as some more well-known.

This week, in no particular order (i.e., this is not a leg of our journey!), we share:
(images are clockwise from top left)

  • Jacob's Well in Wimberly, Texas- This is one of the largest underwater caves in Texas with an artesian spring. Looks like a great swimming hole!
  • Lake Powell in Utah and Arizona is an enormous (almost 200 miles in length) reservoir. It boasts some amazing geological formations, including the Rainbow Bridge, the largest natural bridge in the world (that's higher than the Capitol and almost as long as a football field- wow!). You know that we're lake people, so this is right up our alley!
  • Watkins Glen State Park in Watkins Glen, New York has 19 waterfalls in the park! There is a gorge, and it's located on the Finger Lakes. 
  • Zion National Park, again in Utah, has more of Nature's beauty! There are intricate 2000 foot sandstone cliffs, literally dozens of canyons, gorges like The Narrows and geological wonders like The Subway.
  • Green Fly Geyser in Gerlach, Nevada is a man-made, accidentally formed, still growing geyser. It is on private property, so not technically a tourist attractions, but I've been told tours may be arranged, for a price. 
And that's all for this week of Travelin' Thursday. Where are you traveling? What are your top travel destinations?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

What We're Webbing Wednesday: Nature Valentines

Welcome to day 5 of our new features! Introducing...

At What We're Webbing Wednesday, we'll share websites we've enjoyed over the past week. has some fantastic free printable nature Valentines.... perfect Valentines for campers and nature lovers alike! You can also send Valentine nature e-cards!

Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas has an awesome idea for tie-dye hearts... and it's also easy and frugal!

Living Montessori Now has some tips on how to make Valentine's Day in your homeschool or roadschool class special. 

National Wildlife Federation has some nature-friendly Valentine's ideas.

Here are some really neat images of hearts found in nature. (Are you sensing a theme here?)

Speaking of amazing images, Dad has discovered this website called Fancy. It seems a little like Pinterest in that you can "fancy" images that you like onto your own page. (He hasn't quite gotten on the Pinterest bandwagon yet!) Michelle has some amazing images fancied... everything from nature, fashion (now what he was interested in), parenting ideas, etc. But mostly just spectacular nature photos!
(Speaking of Pinterest, are you following us yet? If not, please hop on over and follow us!)

And that's What We're Webbing this week!
What are you webbing?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Camping Tip Tuesday

Today is day 4 of our new blog features. Introducing... Camping Tip Tuesday!

On Camping Tip Tuesday, we aim to provide you with short nuggets of information that you can use on your next camping trip. Plain and simple tips to make your camping trip easier. We've included tips for all types of campers, from tents to RVs- so hopefully you will find some tips to use the next time you camp!

Such as...

  1. Empty spice bottles make great containers for q-tips (Hey, you may not consider them a camping necessity, but I do!) or matches (glue sandpaper to the outside for striking the matches.
  2. Always, always, include a small travel kit of pain reliever, antacids, allergy medicine, tweezers, and first aid items.
  3. Use wet dryer sheets to clean bugs off your RV or camper. 
  4. Extra batteries for everything... flashlights, lanterns, etc.
  5. Pick up several packs of glow sticks at the dollar store. You can get 10 of the bracelets for $1, snap them on the kiddos, and always know where they are at night. Plus they're tons of fun to play with too- glow stick hunts (think Easter Egg hunts, with glow sticks), ring toss, dive into the water and find them, open them and pour into bubbles...
  6. We store latex/ nitrile gloves and a small bottle of hand sanitizer in our bumper with the sewer hose for use after the dump station. 
  7. Bring a rope to tie between trees to hang wet clothes and towels. 
  8. Baby wipes have 101 uses while camping. So do duct tape, ratchet straps, bungee cords, and clamps. 
  9. Make fire starters before your trip with dryer lint in an egg carton. Pour melted wax on top, and you have 12 fire starters.
  10. Some people invest in fancy and expensive camping lights, particularly for RV awnings. I just can't bring myself to do it, when we have a much more frugal, and still beautiful solution... Christmas Icicle Lights. 
  11. When RV camping, always make a final check before pulling off... Awning Latched? Antenna down? Wheel chocks removed? Water hose unhooked? Electricity disconnected? 
  12. If you're low on space, use a 7 day pill organizer to fill with small amounts of your favorite spices. 
  13. For RV campers, or those who will have electricity hookups, bring extension cords and a fan, particularly in the summertime. 
  14. Extra TP. More than you think you need. Trust me. 
  15. If you are camping in an RV that you use frequently, invest $50-$100 into a memory foam (generic) mattress pad. It will transform that cheap camper mattress!
  16. Sprinkle Comet around your campsite where your RV tires or jacks touch the ground to prevent ants from crawling up and entering your camper. I'm sure this would probably work for tents as well.
  17. Place a clamp, chip clip, binder clip, or similar on your RV antenna crank while it's up. The clip will serve as a reminder to let the antenna down when  breaking camp. 
  18. Check the weather forecast before you go. Pack accordingly. Always have an extra tarp and rain gear for unexpected showers.
  19. Make a list before you go. Check said list. Commonly forgotten items are bikes, scooters, floats, sand toys, flippers, toiletries, dish soap, trash bags.
  20. Check out the campground on the internet if possible before your trip. If you will have a choice of sites, have a list of a few that you like. Be aware of rules and regulations, like a locked gate, pet restrictions, quiet hours, restrictions on adult beverages, etc. 
  • What tips do you have to make camping easier? Check back next week for another installment of Camping Tip Tuesday!

Monday, January 28, 2013

RV Maintenance Monday: DIY Frugal Floor Duct Vent Covers and Stove Top Cover

Maintenance Monday: DIY RV (or mobile home) floor vent covers and Stove top covers 

Today is Day 3 of our new features! Today, we bring you RV Maintenance Monday!
At RV Maintenance Monday, we'll share how tos and DIY activities for keeping your RV or camper in tip-top condition. We'll feature tutorials for basic maintenance tasks like winterizing your RV or defrosting your RV refrigerator, as well as tips and tricks to make your home on wheels more livable.

Livability is a big part of RV life. That's one reason we are so happy with our Jayco Eagle. It is truly livable! But we've made some modifications along the way to increase the livability of our space. We'd like to share two of those with you today.

One big headache of RVs, or mobile home trailers, or even some brick and mortar homes is the floor vents. I don't know about your house, but in my house on wheels, you can look inside the floor vents at any given time and see cereal, hair bands, crayons, jewelry, and assorted crud inside the floor vents. Not only is it disgusting to look at, but there's always an inevitable earring or other important item that must be had right. this. minute. when we are running out the door. Plus those vents are just gross... in my RV anyways!

From nasty...
to neat!

So here's your 5 minute, 5 cents fix:
You will need a white bath pouf/scrunchie (Color really doesn't matter, but white is less noticeable).
You can do like I did, and use a used scrunchie for free, or you can buy one for $1. Your RV vents, your choice!

Cut the center rope that holds the bath pouf together. You will be left with  a tube of netting. Leave it in tube form, so it's doubled over already. Cut a length of netting long enough to cover your vent, with plenty of extra. Remove the screws holding down the vent cover (they usually are square headed screws) and lift up the vent cover. Spread the netting over the vent cover, and set the vent over back on top of the netting. Replace the screws. Use a pair of scissors, opened, like you are using an exacto knife or cutting paper, ran along the edges of the vent cover to cut off the excess netting.

Presto! DIV 5 Minute 5 Cent Vent Covers! The netting is so thin, it will not impede the flow of air in your RV heater or AC.

Our second RV maintenance project is just as cheap and easy! You will need white contact paper or shelf paper. I guess you could get crazy with the Cheese Whiz and do patterns or other colors if you desire.

From Nasty...
To Nice!

When we purchased our RV, the previous owners had let the stove top cover develop a little rust. It annoyed me to look at it, so I devised another 5 cent, 5 minute RV maintenance task!
You simply cut contact paper to fit the size of your stove top cover. You will want to measure each of the pieces separately, so it can still fold up. Stick the contact paper on the stove cover, being sure to press out any air bubbles. You will want to trim the edges and wrap around the sides for maximum attractiveness. I looked at replacing the RV stove top cover, and they run about $60 at Camping World. A couple pieces of contact paper... almost nothing! Hmm, you do the math! I think my DIY stove top cover looks just as nice- you can't even tell it's not original!

Well, that wraps up RV Maintenance Monday! DIY Floor Vent Covers and RV Stove Top Cover, both for 5 minutes and 5 cents!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Road Schooling Sunday: 5 Educational Ideas for Learning While Camping

As promised, we are continuing our seven days of new features here at We'd Rather Be Camping.

Today's feature is Road Schoolin' Sunday. Not on the road? Never fear! If you're a homeschooler, an unschooler, or even a classroom teacher, we'll have ideas for you too!

First and foremost today is an awesome, free, and educational iPad app perfect for roadschooling or USA studies. Discover USA is currently free (not sure how long this will last, so snag it now!) You can take a virtual road trip across the United States, learn about geographical landmarks, play fun games, and customize postcards. Check out to download.

A big part of schoolin', whether it's roadschoolin' at a campground or in an RV, homeschoolin', or traditional school, is reading. It seems to me that today's children are so exposed to media, tablets, iPads, e-readers, etc. has changed the way kiddos read. The more interactive, the better. Even simple text on a Kindle engages children differently than a traditional book. Not to mention, some children struggle with reading and need text presented in a way that meets a different learning style.  I've found several resources to provide my kiddos with more engaging texts. I love the fact that electronic texts don't take up any room, which is great for roadschooling.

We're encouraging our children to read more difficult texts, some of which are really above their frustration level. In searching for alternative texts, I stumbled upon a Youtube channel called CCProse. They provide youtube videos of public domain classical literature. My oldest is currently reading The Secret Garden.

What I really like about these videos is they read the text aloud and show the words on the screen, but they only show a few sentences at a time. This is a lot less overwhelming than looking at a page full of small words. Not only does this method appeal to the visual learner, but also to the auditory learner.  There are easily a hundred plus texts recorded in this fashion, all for free! Your child can read Tom Sawyer, A Little Princess, War of the Worlds, Treasure Island, Wizard of Oz, Romeo and Juliet, Peter Rabbit, The Jungle Book, and many, many more. And they won't clutter up your bookshelves if you are roadschooling!

For more modern books suitable to younger readers, TumbleBooks is a subscription service that provides animated books on video. They have a huge library, organized by reading level,etc. I'm not affiliated with them in any way- I just think their books are awesome! They have quizzes on the books, as well as an option to have students create an electronic book report. They also have a section for older readers, called TumbleReadables. They do all have free trials, so you could use them for a limited time for free. Again, no books taking up space in the camper- yay!

Something I like to do whenever my children read is have them create a foldable Flip Flop Book. This is simply a piece of construction paper folded like a hot dog (lengthwise). You cut flaps just to the center fold to create however many flaps you need. For example, the one pictured has a flap for characters, setting, problem, new vocabulary, and figurative language. While my children are reading, they look for and jot down information to go under the flaps. You could customize the topics to absolutely anything- concepts your child is struggling with, skills you are working on, etc. You can have them search for homophones, contractions, rhyming words, or answer basic comprehension questions. I find that this keeps the kiddos more engaged and accountable while they read, and also gives them a purpose for reading.

An awesome site I have found to make the somewhat dry topic of grammar a little more palatable is IKnowThat. Again, this is a subscription site I'm not affiliated with, BUT, you can do the activities for FREE if you don't mind ads. I'm particularly fond of Alien Word Mine Wack a Word (think Whack a Mole, but with parts of speech). The animations and sound effects are hilarious! The website makes you think you must register to play the game, but there is a small green bar that says "Click here to start your activity". Sneaky!
The Punctuation Paintball game is also great. IKnowThat also has math games, as well as Science, Social Studies, and critical thinking.

So, there you have it! Some ideas that you can use to incorporate into your roadschooling, homeschooling, or even your classroom!

What do you do to keep your children engaged in literacy?

Introducing... Camping Science Saturday! Bubble Fountains and Antacid Rockets

For the next seven days, we'd like to introduce you to some new features here at Life is Great in a 31 by 8. Today's feature is Science Saturday!

Every Saturday, we will provide you with fun, easy, and engaging science activities that you can do with your kids using common household materials. Or, in our case, common camper-hold materials!

We plan to bring you fun activities that are easy to do while camping, at home, in a classroom, with Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts, or wherever your heart desires. We may even sneak in a little science learning!

Today, we have for you two experiments!

The first experiment is a tried and true favorite. It requires nothing fancy, other than items you probably already have at home (or things you probably take camping).

It's been referred to as Elephant Toothpaste, but the scientific name is the decomposition of hydrogen peroxide.

You will need:
1 cup hydrogen peroxide
Dish soap
Food coloring (not really necessary, but makes it cooler looking)

1 T yeast
3 T water

Pour peroxide, several squirts dish soap, and some food coloring into a bottle (Water bottle, Coke bottle, Gatorade bottle, whatever you have on hand at the campsite or recycling bin. Preferably NOT an adult beverage bottle!)

Mix yeast and water together.

Please, do this experiment outside, or on a tray, inside a dishpan, etc. This WILL make a mess!

Pour the yeast mixture into the bottle of peroxide/dish soap/food coloring.
Step back and prepare to be amazed.

I'll give you a little hint about what happens.
camping science
But you  have to try it for yourself if you want to see the really cool stuff!

Now, our second experiment is an example of the scientific process. Sometimes, science works. Sometimes, it doesn't.  Today, it didn't.

Madison came up with the idea of creating an antacid rocket, an experiment she'd seen done before. She needed a film canister and some antacid. Of course, a film canister was nowhere to be found, but we did have a prescription medicine container with the non-childproof cap (you know, the ones that you turn the lid one way to be childproof and flip it over to be non-childproof) that just snapped on. She asked for antacid, so I handed her some Tums (or maybe Rolaids).

She filled the medicine bottle 1/3 full of water, dropped the antacids in, snapped the lid on, and stood back. Oh, and she narrated a mad scientist introduction video too! We waited, and waited, and waited.
Nada, zilch, nothing.

So we tried another variable. We put 3-4 antacid tablets in. Still nothing.

Budding scientists that we are, we discussed what other variables we could change. Madison said, "I just don't understand. The Alka-Seltzer worked great!" Ding! There's our problem!

We didn't have any Alka Seltzer on hand, but we did have denture cleaning tablets from another science activity. Hmmm.... Well, we tried one. Not a thing. So we tried two. Nada. Then we tried crushing 4 of them.

We ALMOST had some results. You could see the liquid fizzing, but it didn't build up enough pressure.

My Mad Scientist had to explain the reason for the experiment's failure, though. Something about the seal wasn't tight enough to build up pressure...

Did it work? Nope! Did we have fun? Yep! Maybe learn a little? You betcha!

If you try this experiment while you're camping, here are our recommendations:

Use a film canister if you can find one. 
Fill it 1/3 way with warm water.
Drop in an ALKA-SELTZER tablet. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Darling Vintage Camping Valentines

Who knew?

Camping valentines used to be quite the rage, apparently!

Maybe it's just me, but these are so much cuter than the One Direction /Peace Sign/ Spongebob/ Green Lantern Valentines you see these days.
Aren't they punny? (Yes. I went there. Couldn't help it!)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The most commonly used words on this blog

Interesting tidbit...  On Wordle, you can enter a website's url, and wordle will create a word cloud of the most commonly used words.

Free Camping Subway Art Printable

If you've never used Wordle to create word art, you definitely should! And a great learning activity for the kiddos to practice spelling, writing, and keyboarding skills. What I love is that kids can write a paragraph or story, paste it into Wordle, and they will have a word cloud of their story. The most commonly used words are larger. Give is a try, and share your wordles on our Facebook page!

Click on the photo above to download it. Print, frame--- instant camping decor! Yay!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

What kind of camper are you?

Something I created playing around at
I've heard there's a lot of buzz about infographics...
This, as I'm sure is evident, is my first stab at one!

Me, I'm a RV camper all the way!
How about YOU? What type of camper do you fall into?

Some other questions I just couldn't fit on my infographic:

Port-a-Potty or Chemical Toilet?
I'd rather go in the woods! ------> Primitive Camper
Not the most hygienic thing in the world, but it'll do in a pinch. ---->RV Camper
As if! --->
Go to next question:
What about a public toilet? 
Still disgusting---> Cabin camper (couldn't handle the draining of the black water tank in an RV)
Sure. No problem. ----> Tent Camper 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

(Almost) Guaranteed Method to Stop Kids from Fighting: The We Will Get Along Shirt

The "We Will Get Along Shirt"

I'm hoping you, dear readers, were blessed with children who love one another all the time and never, ever fuss, fight, or argue.

If you are that fortunate, do not read any farther! Really! I'm warning you... you really don't want to know what some poor parents have to do to get their offspring to get along!

Now, I'm assuming if you're still here, you have children, like my own darlings (who I wouldn't trade for anything in the world), who sometimes have just a small amount of trouble getting along together. Maybe they argue over toys, or video games, or the poor, unfortunate cat who gets pulled between two wrestling kids like a Stretch Armstrong. Perhaps the little angels occasionally hit, kick, bite, pinch, tussle, pull hair, or, ahem, flatulate on one another.

If you're like this mama, eventually Enough. Is. Enough. Sometimes, you just can't take one more minute of the children that you produced trying to maim one another. Sometimes you want to get a fork.

The following solution is rather drastic. It may shock you. It's a little unconventional. However, I can attest that is does work.

You will need... one adult size T-shirt you don't mind ruining upcycling (mine is adult XL, but I bet L would work too!)
                         Permanent Markers  (or fabric markers, or puff paint if you're trying to be all creative!)
                         2 or more arguing siblings

1. Use the scissors to enlarge the neck of the Tshirt to accommodate 2 heads.
2. Use your markers to write "The I will get along shirt", or whatever text you choose.
3. Insert two unwilling children. Inform them of the length of time they must wear the shirt. If they fuss, the time is lengthened!
4. Take a picture to mark the moment for posterity. If you're evil like me, part of the punishment is posting said photo on Facebook! Bwa-haha!

Trust me-- after a time or two of wearing "The Shirt", the mere threat of it will straighten any arguing kiddos right back up!

And, it takes up such little space, you can easily toss it into the camper!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

If you enjoyed this post, please take 5 seconds to share it! Thanks!