This summer was a bit of a letdown in the weather department despite our almost 20-hours of daylight days. All that rain and the overcast skies make things a bit dreary, even with our summer homeschool schedule. So when our latest Think Outside Boxes (affiliate link) arrived we were thrilled. The theme for this month’s box is Night. Now that it is early September it’s getting dark at about 10:00 pm and the Northern Lights are dancing! (Scroll down to the bottom of this post to find our list of 25 free Northern Lights Resources for Kids). And by mid-December, we’ll be down to just about four hours of daylight. So this is a perfect time to share our Think Outside Boxes discount code and Night Box Review.
Think Outside Boxes Discount Code
Before I get into the contents of our Think Outside Boxes Night Box and how we’ll use it for learning about the night skies in our homeschool lessons, your exclusive Think Outside Boxes discount code is FIRSTBOX. Use it to get $10.00 off your first order.
What Are Think Outside Boxes?
Think Outside Boxes is a 13-month monthly subscription service to encourage families with children to get outside. This is our seventh box. Each box has a different theme. It includes three to five pieces of gear, a 24+-page activity guide, plus various educational material around that theme.
Using Think Outside Boxes for Outdoor Education
As a homeschooling and homesteading family living off the grid in Canada’s far north, outdoor education is a big part of our day. We live in a boreal wilderness just south of the Arctic tundra, and our home is on a ridge overlooking a beautiful bay.
We pump our water from the bay, heat with wood and propane, and depend on solar power, batteries, and backup generators to power our house. And we fish, garden, forage and try to homestead while living as close to the land as we can.
Related: Using Foraging to Teach
In previous posts, I wrote about how we used each Think Outside Box to enhance our homeschool outdoor education. They included:
- The Initiation Box (includes knapsacks)
- Wilderness First Aid Box
- Weather Box
- Navigation Box
- Nutrition Box
- Nature Box
By spending just 15-to-20 minutes per day on an activity from the monthly activity guide and resources, it takes about a month to complete our boxes. However, the kids often return to the boxes and gear on their own (especially the Wilderness First Aid and Navigation Boxes) for more hands-on learning.
Our Night Box Unboxing
This month’s box included the following gear:
- Multiple Setting Headlamp
- Emergency Flashlight
- Glow-in-the-dark carabiner
- Educational resource cards
- Glow-in-the-dark LED wrist strap with light
- Activity Guide
- Star Wheel
- Constellation Map Sheet
Now the girls already have their own headlamps. Santa brought them a couple of years ago. And since it’s dark so much of the time here in the winter, we use them a lot, even if we’re just bringing in firewood or to find our way to the generator shed or the truck. And with all that use, you can imagine how dirty they get! So these new ones arrived just in time.
My personal favourite piece of gear? Definitely the solar-powered emergency flashlight. My six-year-old was also pretty excited to see it. She had watched with great interest earlier in the summer as we replaced our solar panels on the roof so we’ll be less dependent on our generators. So she was pretty pleased with herself when she recognized the tiny solar panel on the flashlight. And I love that it comes with a hand-crank as well. Each girl is keeping hers by her bunk.
Using the Think Outside Night Box to Learn About Our Night Skies
Living off the grid up north of the 60th parallel means we have an AWESOME view of the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) from about the end of August right through to April. And even on the nights when the Northern Lights aren’t dancing, the night skies here are incredibly clear.
This year, our two youngest children are in the fourth grade and the first grade. They’re fascinated by the night sky – maybe because it appears around 3:00 pm in the winter. We’re gearing up to do a nighttime astronomy unit, and of course, we’ll learn about the Northern Lights. So this Night Box is timely. Some of the activities we’ll try include:
- learning about the stars and planets
- trying to distinguish stars from planets at night
- mapping the Star Constellations
- downloading the SkyView Free app to use with this month’s Resource Cards
- learning about navigating with the stars (perfect fit with learning about Vikings and our northern First Nations who navigated this way)
- making a Star Wheel
- making a Star Compass
- unit study on nocturnal animals
- night study on our back deck watching for meteor showers
It’s Time for the Northern Lights!
We live about a 35-minute drive from Yellowknife in Canada’s Northwest Territories. This area is arguably one of the best places in the world to see the Northern Lights. Tourists come from as far away as China, Korea and Japan to take in the incredible light displays.
Now I realize that other families might keep their Night Box gear stashed, well, in their Night Boxes. To use when they study the night sky, for example. Yet because of where and how we live, we find so much of the Think Outside Boxes gear becomes part of the girls’ daily life. For example, each time we head out foraging, they grab their knapsacks. And they’re using the compasses alongside their map unit in our Canadian Studies activities. We love Think Outside boxes!