Friday, September 10, 2010

A Little Turkey

Everything falls into perspective when you open your classroom door and this is waiting for you.

Gotta love that farm life. Especially when it takes 40 minutes to get them back in the pen where they belong. Those little turkeys!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Sometimes The Best Things In Homeschool Are Free

Today was a tough one! I have a cold. It was a long weekend. My behaviorally challenged child, who I thought was finally "getting it," took his behavior issues to a whole new level. I was feeling less than supported about homeschool among other things. But we went out to class anyway! I refuse to let life get the best of my kids education. We did our circle time and sat down to work through our drawers. Both of my Kindergarten kids just couldn't get it. The writing portion of the worksheets are not working for them. I was already just at my whits end. I felt totally ill equipped to teach them. I felt like a total failure. It was definitely one of those " I am sending these kids to school" kind of days. I quit, came back, then quit again in my head. The kids moved on to the next box frustrated and looking sad. Erica's new printing worksheets were in there and I was thinking "NOOOOOO". But Something amazing happened. The way she had designed the sheets just spoke to my kids. They both understood in seconds what three weeks of our curriculum had failed to make clear.

At this point I need to tell you that Ava was so proud of herself, so happy, that she was wiggle dancing in her chair. I watched her and it was clear that these moments define homeschool. In a classroom a teacher would be responsible for 30 kids and probably not even notice the kids frustration. A teacher certainly would not be able to get a individualized curriculum for each struggling child. A teacher would miss that cute little dance that sent my heart flying. Teaching your own kids is not always easy and sometimes even the best scheduled plans and the most researched curriculum might need adjustment, but isn't that the best part? As homeschoolers we can do exactly what is best for our children. And sometimes the best things in homeschool are FREE!

Check out Erica's new printables here:

Monday, September 6, 2010

Tales and Misadventures of Black Eyed Pea

The kids were playing a fun filled game of "chase me" through the living room when I heard the telltale scream. Ava had tripped and crashed into Owen who then fell into Emma sending Emma flying head first into the coffee table. I christen thee Black Eyed Pea.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Emma's Sensory Boxes

My sensory boxes are finally taking shape. I have decided to make my boxes with single color themes and a few season/holiday boxes as well.

I started the boxes by selecting a base product and color for each box. Pasta, rice, split peas and beans are a few awesome base products. The nice thing about using pasta and rice is that you can dye it any color. I used cous cous for the brown and it took the dye perfectly and ended up as our favorite base because it feels like sand or dirt and looks great in the box.

For my pink box I used a mix of white and brown rice because I thought the two varieties would pick up the dye differently and and visual interest.

I started by mixing food coloring to rubbing alcohol. I tried using vinegar, but it made the pasta sticky.

The process was to add the base product to a gallon ziplock then pour the food coloring and rubbing alcohol mixture and shake. I let it all sit in the baggie for about 30 minutes flipping it over every 10 minutes or so to make sure the pasta got an even coat.

Then you pour it out onto a cookie sheet to dry like you see with the orange pasta below. While the pasta is on the cookie sheet you can add essential oils or candle scent to make your base product smell good too!

I used Orange essential oil for the orange pasta, mint for the green split peas, pumpkin pie spice for the brown, Grape for the purple, lemon for the yellow, and apple spice for the red.

The next stage was the hardest! Finding interesting trinkets that encourage the use of all of your child's senses can be trying! I added a lot of textures by adding pom pom's, curled ribbon, buttons, a bowl and some type of scoop, painted letters and shapes, toys and trinkets to each box. As we go through them I will add something that Emma can taste to each box.

I prepped our fall box to go the extra mile by finding some apples, Thanksgiving and Halloween trinkets to add and remove as the holidays come and go. One of the activities will be to identify the new items and the missing items!

I am putting the finishing touches on the boxes and then they will go into the storage closet and come out one at a time. Emma, Ava and Owen got a hold of the "pink" box tonight as I was working on assembling all the boxes. They immediately instigated a 2 hour exploring session and a lot of begging for school to have a Sunday school day added to our week!

Our Curriculum Part 2 (Kinder and Tot)

This year I decided to do Kindergarten with both Ava and Owen. Ava is a little young but she wants to do what Owen is doing and as long as she is able to do the work I can't think of a good reason to say no. With the program I have put together I think she will do fine. I can always do a different Kindergarten with her next year if necessary. Emma is going to do a pre/tot school along with us and is proudly sporting her own desk and set of workboxes.

Our day starts with circle and board work with all the kids. We review the weather and are keeping a graph. We discuss the month, day, and year and the pattern our colored numbers are creating. We have a shape, color and a journal as well. The little kids and I do our journal as a discussion and Wyatt is required to write his out. We also do our scripture reading at this time.

We move to our separate work stations after circle time. We are using Bob Jones, "K5 Beginnings" for our base curriculum. I love everything I have used from them in the past with my older son. The Kindergarten math book even has a farm theme! It is perfect for our one room schoolhouse! The social studies program is worked in and so we are learning about towns and careers. Here is our board and our "houses" and the kids in their fire hats:

The "Beginnings" program introduces two letters a week. Owen and Ava already have a pretty solid foundation with letters and sounds from using Erica's, at Confessions Of A Homeschooler's, wonderful letter of the week program. You can find it here: . The kids and I enjoyed her printables so much that I am using them again as reinforcement for Owen and Ava. Emma can do some of her printables so I fill her boxes as she is able. I have laminated some of her sheets for each letter so they are more durable and can be used over and over and the others I use as worksheets and add to their binders. The kids love these and look forward to finding them in the workboxes.

For our bible portion besides the scripture reading we do during our morning circle and board work time, they have a scripture memory verse from Jolanthe at:, they are awana's printables. The printables are easy and cute and a blessing because all my kids are loving the little photo albums she suggested using.

This week was amazing. It went really well and was much smoother than I had anticipated. The kids and I enjoyed it and they begged for more each day when we wrapped up. We laughed a lot and had no tears! Among so many other things we learned about our families. Owen and Ava made family photo albums:

They were both very proud of their work. Owen had everyone in a cowboy hat, everyone but Ava because "she is a princess". Ava was hysterical! She had a long dramatic story for each picture. One of Sarah playing volleyball, sick with "green chicken spots", one of Anna crying because "you forgot her in the car and went shopping (has never happened by the way)".

The only foreseeable problem is that I am a curriculum junkie. I am always looking and needing more. I spent last weekend and I anticipate spending this one searching, finding, printing and laminating. I never have enough! I am finishing up some sensory boxes and holiday theme kits and some activities for Emma's tot school and then I need an intervention!