Archives for category: homeschool

So it’s been a few years since I have written on the blog (or accessed the dashboard to do so….holy moly it looks intimidating) but it’s time for my triumphant return. First, let’s take a look back on some things that have happened since my disappearance, shall we?

  1. A huge reason why I stepped away in the first place was a little guy I was growing. Remember that birthday party I didn’t have the heart to do much for? It was because I was so.sick all the time. Funny how I went as a house for Halloween that year…I was perhaps hiding a bit of a bump behind it all ūüėȬ† After the first few weeks of the pregnancy, things did improve dramatically. Baby Heath arrived in June 2014. He’s a little firecracker now of course.img_1698
  2. While pregnant with Heath, we of course took on the kitchen renovation. And by pregnant, I mean 9 months along. I had called and asked for some shelving to organize the kitchen a little in a nesting rage…and that night the husband starting knocking out¬† walls. Anyway, it turned out gorgeous.
  3. We’ve done plenty of other house projects too, including both kids rooms, front door, and backyard. Maybe I’ll write about them one day. Probably not.

    4. I’ve still been cooking and sewing and schooling nonstop throughout it all.

    5. And we have done a few ridiculous birthday parties…12238248_10107734921237651_4402035916461737501_o6. As well as epic Halloween costumes…

    The biggest news of all though is what is yet to come, and the reason for my return to the blogisphere. We are embarking on the next huge chapter of our lives–a move to IRELAND! What?!? So in an effort to document that journey, I am back!

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So after a fun trick or treating night with dear friends,

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we ended up with a good amount of candy.¬† We don’t eat a whole lot of candy around here so this year we decided to have some fun with it! Instead of letting it sit in a bowl and collect dust until the next “candy season,” we did some art and experiments with it all.

First we dumped it all out on the kitchen floor and sorted it.

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Starr Lily sorted her “dulces” based on color, or type, or shape.¬† We found candies that had S’s on them (her new favorite letter) and made a separate pile for all the skittles.

Next we practiced some cutting,

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and more sorting,

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and pouring.

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Then, we observed.

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Within a few seconds of adding water, we had some awesome colors! And because she put different colors into the same bowl, they started blending! It looked really cool. I pulled out the paintbrushes and some paper and she painted with those colors for a little while, but the blending was what really captured her attention.

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Eventually she poured them all into the same bowl, but she made this little work of art first.

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Isn’t it adorable?¬† Ha! I think all her art works are great. But seriously though, look at how focused she was at getting those little papers to stick with her skittles paint!

I’m not sure what else we”ll do with the other candy.¬† Maybe see if they float or not? Talk about density? Maybe cut some open and dissect them with tweezers and other pincer tools? Either way, I think she’ll enjoy playing with them.

Have you done fun experiments with candy? I’d love to hear what you did.

After We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, I decided to do a less …exciting book? That’s not the right way to describe it….maybe more low key? Yes, a more low key Before Five in a Row book. Not every book lends itself well to a TON of extra activities, but this was still a very sweet book to read everyday.

Prayer for a Child is a simple prayer in the voice of the little girl in the book. I found my copy at our local library book sale for fifty cents! I’ve found quite a few FIAR titles there and at Salvation Army for very cheap. Anyway, the girl blesses everything around her (“Bless this milk and bless this bread”) in a cute rhyming prayer.

Most of the activities we did were straight out of the Before Five in a Row suggestions. I printed out the cycle of where milk comes from and where wheat for bread comes from and we talked about that process (though I had already taken him to the farm recently to see a cow being milked….he drinks a couple GALLONS of milk a week). I found a puzzle at the thrift store of children around the world and we talked about how they might look or dress differently.

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Our verse for the week was “The Lord bless you and keep you” Numbers 6:24. Pretty easy to remember (and he loves recording himself and sending it to Grandma Nina so she can hear his weekly verse!).

We also talked a lot about the pictures in the book, and just read it a few times a day.

In other work, we did a few lessons each from Rightstart and All About Reading. Charlotte is really doing well recognizing all her letters and letter sounds! For science, we made a bug hotel and garbage viewer (both from Science Play). Our ‘chicks’ (still call them that, but they are pretty big now) were very suspicious of the bug hotel.

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I still want chickens! Apparently quail are legal backyard animals here.

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After the week was up, we pulled the bugs out and Dexter drew pictures of them and counted body parts for his journal.

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I’m a little bit of a sissy and so I threw in some rubbing alcohol when he wasn’t looking so the bugs wouldn’t be everywhere…

The garbage viewer still needs a little time to make sense to him I think.

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We will keep an eye on it in the next few weeks so he can make observations about the decomposition.

The theme of the week for science was ‘Our Neighbors’, so we also baked muffins and cookies to share with the neighbors, and I made a collage of the animals that visit our yard often (squirrels, gopher tortoises, herons, hawks, blue jays, cardinals, ibis, pigeons) so he could find them when he was outside. He REALLY loved that, until Charlotte ripped it. I’ll have to make him a laminated version. We also read books about the insect world.

Pretty low key week for us. Anyone else ever make a bug hotel or garbage viewer? I would love to hear about it! Have you read Prayer for a Child?

You may (or may not) have noticed from our school posts lately that it seems like the furniture is ever changing.¬† I’m in the process of revamping that whole area.¬† The walls are all getting changed around because we no longer need a giant palm tree, but a big map to talk about places we read about in Five in a Row books makes more sense.¬† And All About Reading has us using lots of letter tile magnets, so a magnetic chalkboard to fill a good portion of the wall gives us space to practice handwriting as well as arrange our letter tiles.¬† So the walls are a work in progress right now, but the furniture is now done!¬† There was nothing wrong with our Ikea table and chairs, but they were a little small for both kiddos to be working on something at the same time.¬† When they were in each other’s space they didn’t work as well together.¬† I kept my eye open for a good table on Craigslist, but every one I found was either the same size we had, or sold before I got it.¬† On one of our many Ikea trips during the bathroom remodel, I spied an unfinished wood dining table in the As-Is area…and it was love.¬† Just a plain table, nothing special, but the perfect size (and price, since it was marked 40% off for being scratched….it was unfinished though, so that didn’t matter to me).

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Nice find! We always mosey around the “as-is” area in Ikea too.

Doug chopped the legs down to make it kid height (it took a couple tries…we didn’t want to cut too much off and make it too short).¬† We settled on a height of around 21.5″.

And, since I knew I would sell the old set together with the chairs, I searched for some new ones.¬† I figured actual school chairs would be a little sturdier than our others, and slightly bigger since Dexter was outgrowing the old ones.¬† I had no idea how many heights and options there were, and am glad I didn’t buy online!!¬† New school chairs were actually a lot pricier than I thought they would be, but constant Craigslist searching helped me find some vintage Virco chairs for $4 each!¬† Score. They had a few different heights to choose from so I just had Dexter try each out.¬† I swore I would want 13″ so that they would last a little longer, but when I saw him sit in it, legs swinging, I knew they were way too big.¬† We went with 12″ instead, and his feet are comfortably on the ground.¬† I loved the mustard yellow color too.¬† I cleaned them up and they were looking pretty great (here’s the before and after)….

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These chairs bring back some memories!

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Haha, umm, these two pictures look the same.

I wasn’t in love with the brown legs though.¬† That made them look a little too seventies, so I decided to paint them.

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I used some bags and masking tape to cover all of the plastic, and spray painted with a hammered finish black (the texture in the paint helped to hide any blemishes).

Any that might have seeped onto the yellow wiped off easily with mineral oil.

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There is something appealing about that nice and rusty brown…

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They don’t look dramatically different, but I think it’s just enough of a face lift to look a little bit sharper and less rundown.

Back to that table though.¬† I couldn’t leave it unfinished without it getting destroyed of course (first day they sat at it, Charlotte colored on it with a dry erase marker that wouldn’t wash off).¬† I decided to paint the legs with gloss white trim paint, and the top in chalkboard black.¬† First I did a coat of white on the legs, and sprayed primer on the top…

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After a light sanding, I finished off painting the legs and let them dry for a day.  Next I tackled the top, just a few coats of black chalkboard paint.

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Looks great!

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We may or may not actually use it as a chalkboard, but I figured that finish would hold up well to all of Charlotte’s stray crayon, marker, and glitter.

The old too small rug moved to Dexter’s room (and is getting a lot of love from his cars), so now I’m on the lookout for something that might fit there a little better.

I did buy four chairs for when we have a friend or two visit, or just in case Doug ever changes his mind and decides we can have more kids…so all said and done, the new table and chairs was right around $61 (not bad, considering I wanted the size they sell at Pottery Barn Kids or Land of Nod), and I sold our old table and chairs….so the whole project including paint was only $32 (I only needed to buy chalkboard paint since we had the rest).

What do you think?  Anyone else in love with the vintage school chairs?

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Working nicely on All About Reading.  They very much enjoy the craft sheets from My Book of Letters.

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Emmit always chills out right here during school.

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Love that they have their drinks right next to them!

Handwriting Without Tears in action.

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Right Start Math….the interesting part is how well Dexter can work with what’s going on around him….zoom out….

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Obviously, Char is plotting ways she can get the toys to attack Dex, without his noticing…

An animal picnic?

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Story cards for We’re Going on a Bear Hunt (printables from here).¬† I helped him put them in order this time, but throughout the week he did them by himself.

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We’re Going on Bear Hunt board game, also from Homeschoolcreations.com.

Dexter and Charlotte are both in LOVE with the book this week.  They want me to read it a few times, multiple times a day.  The board game came out again as a reward after dinner/clean up and before bed.

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Deep in thought Dex
Char still plotting…

Charlotte has her counting bears and dots while Dexter matches the words to the picture.  He did it with no help, just used the beginning sound in each word to find the first letter.IMG_0842

Clipping the mini clothespins on the first letter of each word.

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A hula hoop sectioned off a portion of the yard, and they used their magnifying glasses to get a close look at the natural community there.

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Baking mini pizzas (part of science…learning about the community).¬† We also went on a nature hike and made an entry in our science journal for the week, and talked about different people who have different roles in the community (like firefighters, chefs, cashiers, etc).

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Char told the toys Dex should hang around since he know his letters.

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All About Reading letter N.  Charlotte looks like she might be trying to cheat.  We also got through letter O this week.

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A sensory box for We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.¬† I used white beans, made grass by stapling cut foam sheets onto an uncut piece, forest from our train trees, snow from some random sparkly balls, the river is hair gel (double bagged), mud is play dough, and the cave is a mini bilibo.¬† We did have a brown bear but it went missing for a few days…we found it and replaced the polar bear.¬† They had fun acting out the story with their fingers (I let them watch the story on You Tube).

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so cute!

A Right Start Math game.  Games are a huge part of the curriculum and he loves them all.

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Dexter practicing entering numbers on the abacus by looking at the printed number.  I had Charlotte pick a number for him, bingo style, and try to call it out (so she got practice orienting them, and identifying them).  Numbers are from Confessions of a Homeschooler printables, mod podged onto milk bottle caps.

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Mmm, how do I get some here?

Some bear claw cookies.  Just basic chocolate drop cookies with slivered almonds stuck in them.

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We are definitely doing these soon!

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt!¬† On Friday, to end the week rowing the book, we had some friends over to go on a bear hunt together.¬† They all had a blast!

Charlotte models the homemade binoculars….toilet paper rolls, tape, and yarn.

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Dex looks like he’s ready to find some bears.

Long Wavy Grass….

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A Deep Cold River

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Thick Oozy Mud

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A big dark forest

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Must be a fun texture! I want the recipe.

Swirling Whirling Snowstorm (made from Insta Snow…big hit)

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Did they all fit in there?

A dark gloomy cave

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We’re not going on a bear hunt again!

(Though they did….quite a few more times)

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adorable!

A bear mask craft after the hunt.  We also had a themed lunch, with spinach noodles for the grass, water for river, chocolate avocado pudding for mud, broccoli trees with ranch for the forest, cottage cheese snow, and rolls with bear cookies inside for the cave.

They definitely loved school this week!!

Last week we added in Science! I was nervous about overloading our schedule for nothing…it is mostly outside play and fits in very easily. More preparation on my part though to read through everything and make sure I have all of the materials.¬† I imagine that it will be easier to prepare as I get accustomed to the set up.

Our book last week for Five in a Row was Goodnight Moon. Dexter is in love with the solar system right now, and we’ve just changed our night routine in the past few weeks on account of having a sibling bed (Charlotte was in a family bed before) so talking a lot about bedtime can only help, right?

Monday: We did All About Reading, read Goodnight Moon and talked about what we do before bed and started our animal classification cards (Charlotte loved those so much she hid them though….), did our math lesson (we started counting by tens and worked with equilateral triangles), and we did a nature walk and started a science journal. It had just finished raining so there was lots of things to talk about on our walk.

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Aww, cute face!

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Looks like he loves school.

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Started journaling already? Amanda would frequently make her students journal – even in a math class!

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I also found a copy of Draw, Write, Now! at a local thrift store for a quarter, and Dexter LOVES drawing the pictures from it. We talk about shapes and parallel/perpendicular lines as he draws. I use this as a reward for getting through the other school work.

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Impressive!

 

Before lunch, he played some iPad games (Reading Raven and Native Numbers) since apparently all of that just wasn’t enough school time.

Tuesday: Dexter had his 4 year wellness appointment so we were gone most of the morning, but when we got home we did a fruit observation. I gave him a plum, peach, and nectarine and we talked about how they were the same and how they were different (activity in his science work for the day), then we did All About Reading. We finished up with some FIAR. I read Goodnight Moon again and gave him picture cards from their Fold&Learn (found on the FIAR blog) while we read. He found the picture as I said each thing in the story, then we played Memory with them afterwards (where a match was if they rhymed). We baked moon pies together to finish off our work (I modified the suggested recipe to use homemade marshmallow fluff without corn syrup…it has a lot of maple syrup in it so definitely more tan than white).

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We (Starr Lily) is getting better at drawing inside the lines.

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Mmm, I want these in my belly now!

 

Wednesday: the kiddos really wanted to play all morning, so we didn’t do school until around 2:30….so just math today, followed by reading Goodnight Moon with friends. I handed out the memory cards for the story so that each child had some words to listen for, then we made night skies out of black construction paper and star stickers. Dexter added a moon on to his (it HAD to be round and white…..I gave him a glitter pen to make it and¬†¬†it wasn’t white enough, and he was upset that the alternate location didn’t allow him enough space…).¬† We also read Genesis 1:14-19.

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Love how they know exactly what they want.

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It has been NON STOP thunderstorms here.¬† I haven’t seen the sun in about a week, we are all going a little crazy.¬† Especially the dog, who has severe thunderstorm anxiety.¬† Feel free to share strategies on dealing with that…

Thursday:  A day off for the holiday!

Friday:   We did another lesson in AAR and Rightstart to finish out the week, and read Goodnight Moon once again.  This time, we tried focusing on just the color of the room and how it got darker, and read through again to look at the color of the window getting brighter (Dexter says it was because the moon moved up in the sky and lit it).  We watched a video of Goldilocks and the Three Bears on YouTube and compared it to the three bears sitting in chairs found in our story.  Then we read through Hey Diddle Diddle a few times.  I showed Dexter how we dressed up for Halloween as Hey Diddle Diddle in the past, and we looked at the page in Goodnight Moon of the cow jumping over the moon.

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Cutest cow costume ever! And Char was so little!

 

Daddy had the day off so we also went bowling (we had planned to go to a baseball game and see fireworks, but rain just wouldn’t let up….)

How was your holiday week?  Did you get to see fireworks, or have LOTS of rain instead?

We couldn’t wait to start school in the fall and decided to just dive right in. My thinking is busy times come and we take a week or two off here and there, but when we can fit it in, we do. Gotta love that sort of flexibility.

We started off with Right Start Math, and I’ve been adding in our other curricula one at a time. As of this week, we do math, All About Reading,Five in a Row, and Handwriting Without Tears about four days a week. Charlotte participates in everything but math for the most part, but kinda like a buzzing bumblebee. She tries, runs away, does some other activities I take out for her, joins back in, etc. Dexter, however, is still loving Right Start (I’m amazed at how quickly and easily he learns what I consider to be slightly advanced things….he easily recognizes quantities of 1-10 without counting them, looks for parallel and perpendicular lines everywhere, can tell you that a square is just a special rectangle, etc. it’s really fun). All About Reading has been a blast as well. We tried one lesson of Level 1 before the PreReading one came in but it didn’t go so great. Not bad, just not amazing. I started out with PreReading instead and it was an instant hit. I found a Ziggy puppet used, and though I was suspicious of whether it was necessary or going to work with Dex, I decided to try it out anyway. I need to record him when we use Ziggy. It’s absolutely hilarious because he is just giddy the whole time. Everyday when I say it’s school time he begs for Ziggy to join us, too. Such a silly boy. So he’s breezing through the material, but that’s okay. He is enjoying it and Charlotte joins us for a good part of it. I was originally going to skip over most of the ‘art projects’ but the kids love that part so much that we do them. I was hesitant to do PreReading since he already knows the letters and letter sounds, but it also teaches syllables, rhyming, word boundaries, and reinforces what he already knows.

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Too fun!

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Handwriting Without Tears fits in nicely because AAR has us do ‘something more’ with every letter we talk about, so that’s usually when I include handwriting. We work in his workbook, do Wet-Dry-Try, use our homemade letter pieces, or use our homemade Roll a Dough Set. I also just finished a homemade See Stamp Screen Set that they enjoy. I love their manipulatives, it’s just been fairly easy to make cheaper versions. His writing has already improved a lot since we’ve been more formal with how letters are formed, instead of just make the letter anyway you can. We sing “Where Do You Start Your Letters?” often. Charlotte has the My First School Book but still just scribbles over the whole page. The other manipulatives have been really helpful for her though as she’s learning to recognize that she can form the letters herself. I don’t think the workbooks were very necessary and probably wouldn’t buy them again, but we do use them since we have them.

Five in a Row is our most recent addition to the daily schedule. I’m trying to tell myself we don’t have to be perfect rowing every book and can always row them again, so that I don’t avoid tackling a book. Last week we rowed The Carrot Seed since I had some gardening work to do, too. We planted some beans in paper towels to hang in the window and watch sprout (which they did, then Charlotte took them down, and ripped them apart), we put a cut carrot in a jar of water and watched it sprout, read the Parable of the Sower and the Seed and watched a YouTube version, and we read some other picture books about gardening. He made some drawings for me to make into plant markers for our actual garden, too (I’ll photocopy them smaller, crop, and laminate, then attach to some sticks to put in the garden). We also weeded and talked about profiles in the artwork in the book, and the colors of the pictures in the book.

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I want to try this with Starr Lil’s.

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How does a typical day look here? We start off with the kids waking up, getting dressed, eating breakfast, and then playing for awhile with each other. It’s like they wake up everyday and need to make up for the lost time that they didn’t get to play with each other while they slept (though they do share a sibling bed, so they potentially are playing in the middle of the night…). After they start to settle down with whatever game they’ve made up (and I’ve done dishes, or laundry, or some other awesomely fun task), we do school time. I try to always end with painting or play dough or something they love the most, and then I prepare lunch or snack for us to have while they finish up. Next, we do some more housework typically, like vacuum or clean a bathroom, and then off to the gym or off to run errands. Then we are home, have outside play time and make dinner, fit in some swimming, then it’s bedtime! With lots and lots of reading in bed together. I still prep their boxes of work the night before, with one box for each subject (science gets a spot on the shelf). I just read ahead and see if there’s any materials we need and put them in the boxes. Over the weekend, I read through he whole week in case there’s anything to be purchased.

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I love that they can just get their little box and start working!

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Anyone else do school year round? What does a typical day look like for you?

Inspired by Five in a Row, I decided to create my own ‘mini unit study’ based on a book we own, The Color Kittens by Margaret Wise Brown¬†(she’s also written Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny, which are found in Before Five in a Row).¬† The first most obvious theme in the book is colors–the kittens have primary colored paint and they are trying to mix it to find other colors they love and see around them.¬† The secondary theme is imagination.¬† The kittens dream about a different world where all the colors are mixed up.

To do this unit study,¬†I suggest starting every day of the week¬†by reading the book, then selecting some of the activities below to do afterwards.¬† If you’d like to include a Bible lesson, you can also include a memory verse for the week that talks about color (or maybe read about Joseph and the Coat of Many Colors and have them draw what they think it might look like).¬† Our verse this week is “Quench not the Spirit, 1 Thessalonians 5:19″…it was a main verse in our Pastor’s sermon this week and I thought it tied in well enough.

Here are some suggested activities:

Art:  Give your child the colors the kittens had in the book (red, yellow, blue, white and black) and have them mix to create the new colors the kittens discover.  Allow them the freedom to create a painting of their choice with the new colors.

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(Dexter only paints spiders right now…)

Imagination:  Talk about the dream that the kittens experience.  Have your child close their eyes and tell you about what they see.  Tell them to draw a picture of everything they imagined.  Explain that we can use our imagination to come up with just about anything.

Absorption Color Wheel:¬† Details for this can be found at Chasing Cheerios.¬† As an extension, maybe try creating different color carnations through absorption and talking about how flowers ‘drink’ water to grow.

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(orange and purple didn’t turn out as well as green….maybe I needed more red coloring?)

Science:¬† Talk about how as the Earth rotates, the sun appears to move across the sky.¬† In the afternoon, the sun is lower in the sky and we see long shadows.¬† Maybe explain this using a flashlight inside first, when the light is directly above there is almost no shadow at all, but towards the side creates a longer shadow.¬† Extend to a little history and make a sundial if you’d like, too.¬† Go outside different times of day and talk about the shadows you create.

Scavenger Hunt:  This can be done indoors or out, but probably more fun and more science extensions if you go outside.  I Am Momma did a good version here, maybe use an egg carton that you color in advance instead to make collecting a little easier for your little one.  I suggest scouting out where you are going to walk first to make sure your child will be able to find the colors you are having them find.  This would be a great activity to do at a local park!

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(He LOVED this.¬† Little sister had the other part of the egg carton, colored in the spots herself, and joined us…but lost her items every time she started moving.¬† I suggest not cutting the lid of the carton so that you can close while you hunt for the next item)

Food:¬† Create a muffin tin color meal.¬† Here’s some inspiration over at Muffin Tin Mom.

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(mmmm…..the kiwis and bananas got left behind since they are still quite¬†suspicious of kiwi, and bananas are either eaten in bulk or untouched)

Math:¬† Talk about the number 2.¬† (Side note:¬† Drea and I were in a master’s level math class together in college where the professor spent the entire first lecture talking all about the number 3.¬† Is this 3?¬† Or is this 3?¬† It was crazy abstract…)¬† Show your child different representations of the number¬†2 (use like objects to start, like¬†2 counting bears, or¬†2 cups).¬† Show them other numbers with the objects (1-3) and have them tell you whether it is¬†2 or not.¬† Take two trays and put¬†2 items on one and¬†3 items on another and ask if they both have 2.¬† Have them find¬†2 of their favorite toys.

Art:¬† Have your child color in a color wheel.¬† Talk about how when we mix colors it creates new colors.¬† Here’s a good printable.

Supporting Book Suggestions: 

Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See by Eric Carle

Freight Train by Donald Crews <—by the way, favorite book of both my children…I read it like 5 times a day, minimum.

Oh the Thinks You Can Think by Dr. Seuss

A Color of His Own by Leo Lionni

Little Blue and Little Yellow by Leo Lionni¬† <—found this at the library.¬† REALLY great tie in!!

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I’d love to see your version if you decide to follow the unit study!

Dexter and I are having so much fun trying out RightStart Math (our math curriculum for next year) ‘early’, that I decided to go ahead and take on Five in a Row this week, too. Who says schooling can’t be year round? Plus, I like the idea of trying everything out now to see if it works for us anyway.

Five in a Row basically has you do unit studies covering all subjects based on a single book for a week (five days in a row). People on the interwebs call these studies ‘rowing’ a book…so I’ll say it too to sound cool. The first book I decided to row is called Storm in the Night¬†by Mary Stolz, selected for a few reasons. A) The library by my house had it. B) Dexter really likes weather and talking about clouds right now. I printed a planner sheet from¬†Homegrown Learners¬†to figure out what we would do.

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I’d love a digital copy of this Amanda ūüėČ

First, I went to the library to get the book, as well as some other books to accompany it.

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I read through the FIAR suggested activities to get some ideas, and then searched some blogs to see what others have tried. I picked Philippians 4:13 for our memory verse since one of the big themes in the book is overcoming fears.

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Monday: We read the book together. It’s just barely within Dexter’s limit for book length….two more pages and we might not have made it (though he can sit through a good solid hour of story time with the right books).¬†He didn’t give me much feedback afterwards except to talk about his cat that he had wasn’t scared of storms (we don’t have a cat, so I’ll assume he was talking about the one in the book).

After reading the story, we talked about who he hears stories from and who he tells stories to. Then, we read about how clouds form from one of the supporting books we checked out. I paraphrased since the book was far beyond his reading level. When we filled in our calendar we talked about how today it is cloudy out and it might rain later.

Last, he did a cut and paste activity for hot and cold. Doesn’t tie in directly, but it’s to talk about weather in general and he loves cut and paste, so it was like a fun reward at the end. (we already did math and handwriting before we started with our book)

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Nice pasting Dex!

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I love how focused they get!

For story time later in the day we read about Noah’s Ark and sang Ark-y Ark-y.

Tuesday: We took the day off from school completely to go to a local bike trail ūüôā Dexter just learned to ride his bike (without training wheels!) so this was his first time on the trail! I think he biked like 5 miles. Crazy.

dexter first bike trail

Such a proud, big boy!

Wednesday: We read the book together again (this time Charlotte joined us….well for about half). We talked about what the Grandfather did when he was scared, and found the page of him hiding under the quilt. Dexter talked about the shapes on the quilt and made his own version with pattern blocks.

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Those blocks are great for pattern recognition!

Next, we went into a dark room so we could listen and smell, like the boy describes in the book.

Finally, we talked about what a profile was, like on the cover of the story. I took pictures of Dexter and Charlotte’s profile to show him what it looked like. Then I gave him a magazine to cut out profiles he saw for a collage. We did the cutting outside since I had laundry to put out, plus it was a beautiful day.

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Need to start saving some magazines.

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Later on in the day we read some more supporting books for read aloud time.

Thursday: we read one of our supporting books about where thunder and lightning come from. I paraphrased and skipped around quite a bit since the book was a little too advanced for a four year old. I set him to work making a cloud collage out of cotton balls and glue (he used purple paper since he couldn’t find blue….he said purple was pretty close). We talked about the different types of clouds and what they look like.

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I had him draw what his favorite weather looks like…

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“smile next to your picture, Dex!” and this is what I get….the picture is of a sun, by the way.¬† He made a windmill, too.

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Pin wheels are great for wind demonstrations too!

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We read Little Cloud by Eric Carle for story time, and The Rains are Coming by Sanna Stanley. Then, we baked meringues (‘cloud cookies’). He liked testing to see if there were stiff peaks yet, and determining if it was shiny or not. I had him add the sugar, too.

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Dexter ate one, Charlotte hated them….oh well. Apparently super sweet isn’t their favorite.

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Mmm, yum.

On Friday we went to a water park for the day, so no school again. I still had a few activities left to do, but I’ll save those for another time.¬† After rowing books, you find that every book you read you are thinking about extension activities to do!

Anyone else familiar with Five in a Row?  What activities do you do with books you read with the kiddos?

Maybe one day I’ll write about all the reasons we are homeschooling (if only to help convince the hubby…) but in the meantime, lets talk curriculum. Warning, there’s lots of words here…

First, yes, my son is only four. There is definitely a great argument to just let him play all day and imagine, create…not make him ‘do formal school’….but my kids like school time. When left to their own devices, they sometimes get into a little trouble (“let’s jump from the top of the closet, charwot!”) or they beg to watch cartoons. Or just eat all day. When we add a little structure in through school time, they get awesome mommy attention, learn something new, are entertained, not bored, and make good use of play time still. We play outside everyday whether on the playground, riding bikes, walking the dog, or all of the above…and we play dress up everyday too. Sometimes we are pirate ballerinas, sometimes a fireman who cooks…and usually there is some sort of game created by the two kiddos like a birthday party where everyone potties before they can have cake or some sort of race involving bells and carts….who knows. I love having kids so close in age to each other (18.5 months, by the way) that really love playing with each other.

In recent weeks, now that we have firmed up our decision to ‘continue’ homeschooling (as opposed to enrolling Dex in VPK), I have been deciding which curriculum we will use. The amount of choices out there are overwhelming to say the least. I’m lucky to have friends to quiz and just a love for curriculum in general from my former life in the school system.

First, I decided what my goals would be and how I wanted our week to look. Our experience this past year provided a glimpse. The curriculum we used had a lot of pieces and a lot of repetition. That ended up being a bad thing for us, since Dex got bored. There wasn’t any sort of arc to follow….just here this is, try it. Some things he got right away (puzzles, sorting sizes, memorizing his verse) and some things he didn’t (cutting, pattern recognition, counting) but now at the end of the year, he doesn’t struggle with anything from the activities presented. Could just be a years growth, but practice certainly helped. The problem was, the activities that he was really great at were too boring and got skipped. The ones that presented a challenge were too hard and got skipped….he didn’t want to stick with it and would take long breaks. I feel it was because he knew his strengths and weaknesses already, and being shown the same thing turned him off. Having learned that, I knew I wanted a curriculum that was more conventional and followed some sort of scope, not the same thing every week. I think the one we tried probably works best as enriching work for a younger sibling while older children are working.

I first decided what subjects we would cover. Phonics/reading of course, since he is now at the stage where he recognizes all his letters and their sounds, I think we are ready to blend them together. And math for sure. I picked programs for those first. For phonics, we are planning to do All About Reading. As far as which level, I’m still up in the air. I think for now we will start with pre-reading and see how he does. If he is bored, we will move up to level 1, but as long as he enjoys it, we’ll stick with it. I don’t want to start him out on level 1 since it seems a lot of people use it for 6-8 year olds…and I don’t want to push him too hard. Our goal is to have fun and cultivate a love of learning, not have a super advanced kid. For math, I have chosen RightStart Math level 1. I like the heavy use of manipulatives and the particular approach it takes. We have already started working on it and Dexter absolutely loves it and begs to do ‘more games in the big book.’ I also have Miquon (orange) and Math U See Primer to mix in if we choose, but mostly to keep things flexible. So far, I’m not a Math U See fan.

I’m hoping we will cover math and phonics 3 days a week. Each subject will maybe take 20-40 minutes, so plenty of time for other things, too.

I also chose to get Exploring Science from Elemental Science. I was originally considering just making up my own unit studies for science, doing some Pinterest style activities and reading library books about a subject….but really, that might end up being a bit overwhelming and leaving me feeling underprepared. There is a two day a week option with the program, and that’s what we will try to do. Dexter loves science and learning how things work, just like every 4 year old I imagine, so I want to help his inquisitive mind think scientifically.

I decided to go with Handwriting Without Tears (kindergarten edition, though I have pre k in case he wants to take a step back) to keep up our handwriting practice. We will just fit this in wherever it makes the most sense.

We have Five in a Row Volumes 1 and 2 as well, in case we want to fit that in. Or need inspiration for books to choose. I don’t think I’m ambitious enough to take on making lap books or anything for it, but I like that we would learn about some geography, history, and world cultures.

I will continue having him try sports out at the Y and sing, dance, and play music with me at home (once upon a time I was a musician after all) and we will also keep up with our calendar and memory verse. There will be plenty of time to draw, color and paint. We will make trips to the library to check out non fiction books about other cultures and places. I will also make sure he gets to visit with his friends often, too. My goal for myself is to cut back on unnecessary time away from home, running errands or just being gone for no good reason. Or taking on too much at home that diverts my attention away from Dex and Char.

Ah, yes….there is little sister of course, too. She will participate in school time as well, mostly using the letter of the week activities that little man used this past year. She will read with us, too, of course, and I have plenty of other activities to keep her occupied when D might need more of my attention. Usually she just wants to do everything big brother is doing.

So that’s the plan. Seems like a lot, I know…..but my plan as of now is to do school from around August through October, take a break through most of November and December, then pick back up in January through April. Wherever he ends up is fine, we just pick back up and reassess for the next year.

Anyone else choosing materials? Now is the time since many families are finished for the year and selling what they used. Curriculum swaps abound!