Thursday, November 10, 2011

3-Letter Words: Reading, Stamping, Building

Pin It Last night I went to print off Read! Build! Write! Mats only to discover our printer was low on ink. No printer ink and class the next morning?! I guess that’s what I get for waiting until the last minute to prepare materials.
Before the school year started, I had picked up a ton of paint color samples for different lessons I had in mind, so I got those out and made up a bunch of 3-letter words we’ve been working on.
Next, I cut 8.5X11 cardstock in half and wrote the words in marker at the top. They were color-coded according to the paint samples.
Instead of having Madelyn and Sarah write the words out, I got out our alphabet stamps for my little stamping addicts.
All materials fit on one of our magnet board/cookie sheets.
Madelyn sat and admired each of her finished cards.

Alphabet stamps
Stamp pad
Paint color samples



Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Fall Sensory Bin and Crafts

Pin It This fall themed bin contains:
Red scoop and bowl (Dollar Tree)
Pumpkin and leaf table scatter (Target $1 spot, I think)
Leaves (Target $1 spot last year)
Pumpkin and leaf cookie cutter shapes (Dollar Tree, I think)
Mini gourds (Dollar Tree)
Making “fall soup” was something the kids came up with during one of our days using the bin. Basically, they’d scoop different contents into the bowl, stir it up, and ask if anyone would like a try.
They used the different colored leaves to make patterns.
Some days I added in a pumpkin tray, easy grip tweezers, and mini poms to keep this little guy busy while I worked with the older kids.
On Halloween, while everyone else was trick-or-treating, we stayed in and had some fun of our own.
We painted with corn, and mixed yellow and red paint together. Sarah informed me that they learned all about color mixing long ago on a Dora episode. Thanks Dora! We marble painted pumpkin shapes…minus the marbles lol. I used a golf ball instead. Even though they are a bit harder to control, they leave a really neat textured look.
Thumb and finger print spiders turned out to be much messier than I had anticipated. Maybe we’ll try it again when the youngest turns 13 ;).
Sarah and her friend made wonderful Christian pumpkins.
While our crafts were drying, we enjoyed some “creepy crawler” pudding (gummy worms, oreos, vanilla pudding) that CJ had made with the kids while I was at work.
Happy Fall!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Sneak Peek: A NEW New Room

Pin It Remember when we transformed Madelyn’s old bedroom into our school room back in February? Well, since the school year began in August, this space hasn’t had much use. The desks, as much as I love them, allow little room for me to sit with the kids and guide their learning process. By the end of the first week of school, the dining room table started serving as our main learning area. I liked being able to see what everyone was working on, and I could multi-task much easier by all of us being at the same table. I began brainstorming about how to make changes to the school room in order to make it work for us.

One day, a magical blog post at Confessions of a Homeschooler gave me a great visual of what I could do to our room. I became so obsessed with her school room, on top of having a great reason to go to Ikea, that I checked the pictures out several times a week for almost 2 months while making a list of items I liked and wanted for us. CJ agreed to an Ikea trip at the end of October/early November.  After waiting patiently for about a week, I began to drive him nuts with my begging and he agreed to go sooner. Lining up a babysitter beforehand worked in my favor.


Saturday we drove to Cincinnati and back. I spent that evening helping my friend put together my furniture. By “helping” I mean I talked to her while she did most of the work. I did manage to put some furniture together by myself on Sunday because deep down I actually do enjoy this type of work…it’s a productive way to take out frustration. Here is where we are at so far:

Madelyn's Bday 253

CJ still has to hang a white board, maps and posters. We also need blinds or curtains. The light is blinding in the morning!

Madelyn's Bday 257

Madelyn's Bday 255

Can’t wait until everything is finished! I’m happy to have my dining room textbook and worksheet free again!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

August Sensory Bin: Back to School

Pin It Preschool starts on Monday for Madelyn. My friend’s two children will be coming 3 mornings a week for FUN learning activities as well. Since the main school focus of summer was to concentrate on getting curriculum, schedules, lessons, etc. together for Samuel and Sarah, I am left with this weekend only to gear up for preschool. Luckily this is our second year for this, so I don’t need to do a whole lot.
Sensory bins are a favorite in my house. Seriously, I have our August box set out for Monday, and the kids are eagerly waiting to open it up as if I’ve wrapped a Christmas present for them. Last year I only did a few of these because of how messy they can be (on top of the other messes involved with teaching preschool…a VERY messy job) depending on the theme and objects involved. This year I am going to try to do 1-2 per month and I’ll probably only use it for a center once a week.
Our August theme is …BACK TO SCHOOL! (some ideas came from Counting Coconuts)



Contents of bin:
Ripped up magazine paper
Scissors for cutting magazine paper
Lacing string
Numbers from an old calendar that have been hole punched for lacing
Erasers to put on and match to pencils 
Pencil sharpener
Paper clips for linking and patterns
Pencil box
Magnetic letters that can be used on the tin pencil box
Strips of paper with kids’ names that they can use with the letters
A few crayons

The scissors will be removed at the first sign of anyone attempting to cut off fingers, hair, anything other than magazine paper. Other than that concern, which will be discussed before any use of the bin begins, this back to school fun starts in less than two days!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Our First Day

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Oh the first day…the first day…where do I begin? Today was Samuel’s first day of 2nd grade and Sarah’s first day of Kindergarten (Madelyn starts Pre-K next Monday).  We were ALL very excited for this day to come. They asked me to pick their outfits out yesterday morning (normally I do this in the evenings) because they couldn’t wait to see what they were going to wear. Aren’t they so darn cute?!


Our day started at 7:00am. After getting dressed, eating breakfast, brushing teeth, etc., CJ sat the kids down for a Bible lesson. Two minutes into it, Samuel asked, “Is this what we’re doing all day long?”


Next, we went outside for pictures!



Just look at how happy they are!


After pictures we came inside to discuss rules and goals for the year.  Samuel and Sarah did a great job at coming up with 3 rules and 3 goals (I chose 3 each in order to keep it simple and easy to remember) to help our school year run smoothly and effectively.


1. Obey your parents.

2. Be respectful to others (show kindness, no putdowns).

3. Be cooperative.


1. Have fun

2. Learn

3. Help others


I told/showed them how our mornings would function and where they could find certain materials. We went back into the school room to do our morning board and make pictures for the art frames I bought for the walls in the school room. I also bought them each a new pencil sharpener for a little first day present (I know, amazing, right?!). Then we did a few lessons together at the dining room table.




Our first day came to an end. We had planned on having a picnic lunch at the park, but some wrong choices while at Staples quickly changed those plans. We’ll try again tomorrow. Maybe we’ll start a traditional 2nd day of school picnic instead!

Overall, here is how they rated their day:



We can’t wait to get to know all the homeschool families in our area better! Here’s to a great year!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Our 2011-2012 Curriculum Choices!

Pin It Let me start off by saying that I am so excited to finally put into action what I’ve had the desire to do for so long. When CJ and I started dating, he knew how much I wanted to homeschool someday. I am thankful for a supportive husband who is totally on board and in agreement with this decision. Homeschooling the girls for preschool went so well last year, and gave me the confidence to say, “Hey, I can do this next year for grade school, and have Samuel join us!” The reasons why we chose to homeschool will be saved for a different post, but I can’t tell you how many people have asked why we chose this route and how we plan on socializing them (lol).
The following curriculum choices are based on what we thought would work best for our children. I’ve seen so many different options and read blogs about what others are doing where I’ve thought, “Hmm, should we be doing that too?” CJ continues to remind me that what works for others may not work for us. So, I continue to stay focused on my family through this journey while being excited about all the new families we will meet along the way. And somewhere in between I hope to get all my questions answered!

Madelyn (Pre-K):
For Pre-k, I am pulling a lot of resources from the internet like I did last year. We will focus on one letter/sound and number/math a week, have a theme of the month, sight words, sensory bins, etc. Madelyn’s friend Isabelle will be joining us again for preschool this year, so she will have a little buddy to do learning centers and art with.  I am adding in some Montessori aspects this year as well. I am hoping to do to All About Reading Pre-Level 1 with her, but other than that my preschool curriculum is mainly DIY. Madelyn will also take ballet lessons with a group of homeschoolers.

*There will be links to the curriculum choices below soon (hopefully). 

Sarah (Kindergarten):
Phonics/Spelling- All About Spelling Level 1

Reading/Writing-Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, Bob Books, Handwriting Without Tears

Math- Math-U-See Primer

Science- Apologia Zoology 1

Social Studies- My State Fun Book

P.E.- Ballet lessons with a group of homeschoolers

Art- Library resources and whatever I come up with at home

*Not all of these subjects will be done daily. I plan on rotating some of them, and am not concerned with getting through an entire text book by the end of the year. My goal is to allow them to have a lot of hands-on experiences that they would not get from sitting in a classroom. Therefore, I don’t want homeschool to feel like public or private school.

Samuel (2nd grade):
Reading/Phonics/Spelling/Writing- A Beka Grade 2, First Language Lessons Level 2, Writing With Ease Level 2

Math- Math-U-See Beta. I went to a Math-You-See workshop and was sold on this method quickly!

Science-Apologia Zoology 1

Social Studies- My 50 States (from the same people who created the State Funbook for Kindergarten)

P.E.- Uncertain because I’ve heard that I should definitely sign him up for Swim and Gym at the Y, while others have said not to waste my money :)

Art- Library and whatever I come up with at home

Oh, and CJ is doing Bible lessons because he has an amazing gift when it comes to teaching others about the Bible.  :)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Summer Bingo Part 2

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Go here for Summer BINGO rules and info.

We are about 2 hours into Summer Bingo and having tons of fun! Samuel and Sarah are really enjoying marking off activities, and really concentrating on them, rather than trying to rush through the card. Right we are on a lunch break. Afterward, they will spend time reading and resting. This afternoon there will be some more time to complete squares on their Bingo cards. My goal is to have them do 5/day in order to complete an entire card at the end of the week.


Hook #1: Bingo cards and rules

Hook #2: Summer reading logs

Hook #3: Stickers, tickets, and pens

I ended up only making cards for Samuel and Sarah. Madelyn can always join in the fun, but she entertains herself during the day quite well.


Rather than getting the tickets from the store like I had originally planned, I just made some on the computer.


This is a card from Sarah’s pack for the week of July 4th. Some of the activities listed are watch fireworks, build something using red, white, and blue Legos only, and make s’mores.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Summer BINGO

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Okay, I am beyond ecstatic after coming across this SUMMER BINGO idea as a way to keep my kids active this summer without having to run 50 million places and sign them up for 100 costly activties. Even though Samuel still has about 3 weeks left of school, I am already getting started on making my cards. Samuel, Sarah, and Madelyn will each have their own set to complete. While I was typing up the first card, Samuel was eagerly reading everything. He can’t wait to begin! I thought I would share what I’ve accomplished so far.



The dollar store that is by my house will probably have tickets, and we have plenty of stickers to mark the spaces. I will post a card from Sarah and Madelyn’s packs once I get them made up. The activities I chose were a mix of learning, reading, indoor, outdoor, and character improvement(Samuel needs to work on how he treats Sarah).  I printed the rules and BINGO card off on cardstock, then glued them onto scrapbook paper just because I thought it would look cute. Once I have everything printed off, I am going to hole punch the top corners and keep the cards together with a metal ring. Does this sound like fun to you? It does to me!!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Homemade Magnet Boards

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I came across this today and loved the magnet board idea. My girls are very into magnets…they have have magnet version of paper dolls, magnet letters, magnet playsets, etc. Our dishwasher has been serving as the current magnet board area, but after a quick trip to the Dollar Store that has changed…


Aren’t they neat?!?!?!?!

These are so simple and quick to make!

You’ll need:

* Cookie sheets (dollar store)

*Magnet letters (I got mine a few months ago from the dollar spot at Target)

*Scrapbook paper (Mine was 1/2 off at Michaels)

*Mod Podge

Sarah and Madelyn helped out by smoothing out the “bubbles” after I glued the paper down.

When we travel I’m going to use them as trays for coloring/drawing, and they’ll easily tuck into the pockets on the back of our front seats when they aren’t being used. I’m super excited!!!