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!