Sunday, March 25, 2012

Mid Year Curriculum Change

Along with our new classroom we are getting some new curriculum. There were so many things I loved about the Bob Jones curriculum, but for the same reason I switched Wyatt off the math I had to make a change with my Reading program for my younger set as well. The BJU curriculum is just to labor intensive and I find it a bit confusing with characters that represent rules and so forth. It is probably wonderful for a classroom but homeschool is so much more intimate. It was just not the right fit. It was not working for our family.

Our first box came yesterday with another scheduled to follow next week. Everyone is switching over to "All About Reading" and I could not be more excited! I can't wait till Monday!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Our Latest Sensory Boxes

Spring Has Sprung and Ocean Fun are our two latest sensory boxes. I have changed my set up a bit and I am finding these to be much more user friendly.

As you can see we have lots of scoops and funnels and pots to plant things in. There are magnifying glasses and bugs galore. The dirt in this box and the sand in the other are made from a mix of wheat flour and baby oil. You just dump in a bag of flour and work in oil till it is the desired consistency. It feels a little like wet sand. I adore it because it holds shape for building castles and cleans up so easy. It also smells wonderful.

Our Ocean Fun box is half "sand" in the form of flour/oil and half aquarium rock. I got a piece of coral from the aquarium section of Walmart and some sea creatures and buckets from a discount bin at the craft store. I also got a tube for added fun.

I used to use a shoe box sized tub in an attempt to keep them on the table top but it was not working for us. Little hands got frustrated in such small spaces and the tubs ended up spilling. Also with so many kids in the house they all inevitably want to play and there is just not enough room for that in a small box. I upgraded to three large thin tubs from Walmart. They are just what we needed.

I found these adorable monkey rugs at Target in the dollar section. I bought four and put them around the tub. The rule is you pick a spot and stick to it. everything in the tub stays in the tub. Period. Spills are ok and inevitable. The box is about exploring and fun, but no throwing or dumping allowed. Also no taking the toys elsewhere to vanish into the abyss.

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Science Behind Our Laundry

I have been making my own cleaning products for some time now. I got tired of the chemical smell and headache after cleaning. I hated the idea of putting all those chemicals into my environment. So I made the switch. Now with the wonderful world of Pinterest I have found even more recipes for homemade products. I also tried my hand at making my own detergent.

My eldest son goes to a private school and is required to participate in the science fair every year. He decided this would be a good chance to put our new detergent to the test.

His project consisted of taking 5 white rags and staining each with 6 stains. We chose grass, grape juice, oil, spaghetti sauce, make-up and soy sauce. We also tested Sharpie by default because we used it to mark the rags. The rags were left to sit for 24 hours and then washed in Tide, Arm and Hammer, Purex, My homemade recipe and for control we washed one in plain water.

My son hypothesized that my homemade detergent would work the best because "mom rocks", bless his heart! We were surprised when all the rags were washed and dried. Not one detergent worked on every stain. I was actually very disappointed at how much material was left on all the rags. Tide was a clear winner because all of the other rags had a dingy quality. The Tide Rag was white as new. The biggest surprise was that Purex (which is very inexpensive) was a close second to Tide. It actually removed more of the stain but the rag was not as white as the Tide model. My homemade was third. The stain removal was adequate but the dingy quality was disappointing. Arm and Hammer even had Oxi power and was the clear loser in our experiment.

As a result of our test I will not be making homemade detergent anymore. Not that I will need detergent in the near future. I bought 4 bottles for the experiment and I have three homemade bottles on the shelf. When I do need to restock I will be using Purex. With the money I invest in my clothes for such a large family (and the fact we love hand-me-downs)it is important to me to care for the clothes well. Purex just did a better job of cleaning then my homemade. Plus, it is just as economical as the homemade which made it a no brainer. "Wait," you might be thinking, "Tide won!"
The slight whitening Tide provided does not justify the huge price difference in my world.

So there you have the sciece behind our laundry!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Our New Classroom

Our new house has a big room off the kitchen that was perfect for a classroom. It has huge built in bookcases that go from floor to ceiling. It is bright and sunny thanks to a sliding door that leads to our backyard.

I planned and planned this room so it would function as a inspiring learning environment. What we ended up with surpassed my expectations. We all love this room. In fact we could probably do away with the rest of the house. It is so amazing when your classroom is your favorite room!!!

This wall is made up of the largest and smallest "EXPEDIT" units from Ikea. They are perfect size for storing all of our learning tools and keeping then visible so we remember to use them! I did not have a red and black theme in mind when i started it just developed over time and I love the way it turned out. It is so inviting and vibrant.

All of our manipulative's are labeled and in hands reach so the kids are putting them to good use and remind me to use them as well.

I got these inexpensive file holders at Office Depot. They are the perfect size to hold all of our centers and lapbooks and our "Letter Of the Week" that we love, from Confessions Of A Homeschooler.

Our table is really two tables put together. They are small table tops from Ikea with red metal legs attached. The chairs I got from our school district. If you homeschool the property control staff at your school district should be on speed dial. I have gotten chairs, tables, desks, rolling carts, projectors and more from them over the years for pennies on the dollar. It has been a huge budget saver. These chairs were an ugly blue. I paid $2. each and spray painted them red to match my decor. For $15.00 I got 5 beautiful chairs!
You can just make out our easel and reading corner in the back there. We have big red throw pillows we use for reading time and the easel gets a ton of action every day!

This is our calendar area and white board for our "All About Reading" and "All About Spelling" We also have our map displayed here for our Geography. We use a combination of "Little Passports", "Expedition Earth" and my own creations. I use the Little Passports only to introduce the country. It is not a school quality curriculum in my opinion and I was disappointed when it arrived on my doorstep. It has very cute items in it but the information is fluff. I immediately ordered Erica's Expedition Earth program and as usual have not been disappointed. We have made it stretch two years and we love it!

Each side of our calendar area is bordered by those built in's so we use them as book cases and for our computer. Wyatt does research for his history and geography projects and his Teaching Textbooks math program on the computer. My little ones do learning games for reinforcement and typing practice. We all do the homeschool version of Rosetta Stone Spanish here as well.

I made this little clock for the wall out of a $3.00 clock from Walmart. I saw the idea somewhere on Pintrest and fell in love. It is a great tool for learning to tell time.

Our sight word wall was also a Pinterest score. We all high five our sight words a few times a day. It just feels good!
So there you have it. Our favorite room. I even study in here!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

San Diego

The last few months have been filled with upheaval for us. Daddy went on the road and we do not get to see him everyday anymore. We moved to a new house. Revamped school and I decided to go back to school and finish my degree. We have been very busy and had a few bouts with some gnarly illnesses. So, when Daddy called and asked if we wanted to come to San Diego to visit him and our extended family, we jumped!

My sister and her husband have a boat and we were fortunate enough to be invited to go out deep sea fishing for the day. What a fun adventure.

The kids were so excited. They had never been out in the open ocean in a boat before.

The baby was happier with Daddy in the cabin at first.

But after awhile she decide it was ok to lounge with me and soak up the California sun.

The bait fish proved to be way more fun than the actual act of fishing.

The kids decided to try to catch birds instead.

Anna decided she had no fear and was running all over the boat which caused me to be terrified and enjoy exactly zero relaxing in the sun!

Wyatt decided to be king of the world and had an absolute blast seeing how far he could hang out of the boat.

It was an amazing day and we were so blessed to get to experience it! Thank you Captain Matt.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Beach

What a wonderful thing it is as a parent to watch your children experience the beautiful earth we live on. To see them wonder at God's creation. To see pure joy on their faces and sand on their feet.

There is no toy or T.V. program or video game that will leave the lasting memories that time well spent will. I am so blessed to have the opportunity to be home with my children. To teach them myself. To watch them grow every step of the way.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Saying Goodbye To The Farm

This post is sad and hard to write. We have had to make a lot of hard decisions in the last few months and one of the biggest is letting go of the farm. The expense of running the farm, the way the animals deserve it to run, has become prohibitive. Hay is up to $18 a bale so that alone with our long winter season is beyond our means. There were a lot of personal things behind it as well. We gave our beloved goats to a friend so we will still get to visit and see our spring babies born. For now though the best interest of our family is to move to town and scale back. I will be doing my best to urban homestead and provide my children with the same values and lifestyle we have established.