Posts Tagged ‘homeschool’

Can you tell there are tights on the table?!

I have gotten back into the routine of having my quiet time with the Lord first thing in the morning.  Before everyone is fully awake and needing me.  Before the house is turned upside down by the chaos of the day.  A time when it may truly be quiet, if I am lucky.

Today, I read this verse.  I wanted to share this with all my fellow homeschooling moms, who I know will completely understand.  It made me smile thinking of my own herd.

Proverbs 14:4 “Where no oxen are, the trough is clean;  But much increase comes by the strength of an oxen.”

My trough is so not clean.  My house is filled with the daily living of many oxen.  But my heart would be filled with grief without them.  Praise God that is not the case.

My oxen are strong, and they have increased the joy in my life immeasurably.  Thank you, Lord, for the chaos and the mess and the constant tasks of feeding, clothing and discipling my little ones.

Enjoy your day!


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I took a little break from posting our books last week.  We school year-round, doing three weeks on followed by one week off.  We have done this for the past two years, and it just fits our lives perfectly.  Our off weeks are spent with friends, at the dentist, catching up on household work, relaxing a bit more, and mostly PLAYING!  We end refreshed and ready to return to our routine.

Here are just some of the highlights of our week:

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Prudence & Moxie by Deborah Noyes – This is a silly picture book about two unlikely friends named, you guessed it, Prudence and Moxie.  Their personalities are their names come to life.  Not only was this book entertaining, it also led to a great discussion of these character traits and the pluses and pitfalls to each.  Cute.

Picture Study Portfolio: Rembrandt

Simply Charlotte Mason Picture Study Portfolio: Rembrandt – I have struggled with pulling off picture study since we began following a Charlotte Mason philosophy.  No color printer means no color pictures.  Rather essential.  Finding a great book of the artist’s works from the library was challenging, since they were almost always geared towards adults and included information and works I would rather not highlight for my little ones.  Do I even need to explain why looking at them online just doesn’t do them justice?  So, I am thrilled that Simply Charlotte Mason (fabulous, by the way) came out with their picture study portfolios this past summer.  I snapped up two of them, and have no regrets.   The information in the booklet is just enough, the listed resources help you dig deeper, and the prints themselves are just what we needed.  We now officially have our first work of art properly displayed in our home for both study and enjoyment.  Thank you, Simply Charlotte Mason!

Exploration Through the Ages: The Voyage of Magellan by Richard Humble – For some reason, my entire library system does not have a single children’s book about Magellan.  Weird.  Thankfully, my fabulous friend Jane does!  She lent us this little gem, and we love it.  The illustrations are fascinating – each two page spread covers a different topic related to his voyage and sailing, and the illustrations help immensely with engaging and increasing understanding.

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Over the River and Through the Wood by Lydia Maria Child – This charming picture book version of the song from our childhood (well, mine at least) builds anticipation for one of our favorite holidays – Thanksgiving!  My littlest ones especially love books that are sung.  It includes several verses in the book and the piano music at the back.

Crinkleroot’s 25 Fish Every Child Should Know by Jim Arnosky – Jim Arnosky has given us so many nature related treasures.  This one, in his Crinkleroot series, is filled with 25 watercolor paintings of fish.  Some we knew, and some are new to us!  Even as I am typing this, my six-year-old boy is flipping through the pages and talking incessantly about which ones he knows and asking me when we will be able to research more on the others.  Thank you, Jim Arnosky!

The High-Rise Private Eyes #6: The Case of the Fidgety Fox (I Can Read Book 2)

The High-Rise Private Eyes: The Case of the Fidgety Fox by Cynthia Rylant – This easy-reader series is cute, fun and just challenging enough.   I do love a series and, in my opinion, Cynthia Rylant is the master of the easy-reader series.  The High-Rise Private Eyes is another winner.

Blaze and the Mountain Lion (Billy and Blaze)

Blaze and the Mountain Lion by C.W. Anderson – Billy and his horse Blaze are off on another adventure, and taking us along for the ride.  All my kids, but especially my boy, love this series.  They are not new – this one has a copyright of 1959 – but they are timeless.

Hope you found some gems this week!  Leave a comment to let me know what books you are enjoying right now.

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Nature study six-year-old boy style:


Upon hearing about Jack’s latest hole, a friend asked me if there was a reason for the hole he was digging.  What?  He needs a reason?  Better not tell him that.  The only thing he needs is permission from the gardener (check), permission from the shovel owner (check) and raw ambition (big time check).

Praying Mantis

Praying Mantis are just about the coolest things my kids catch.  I witnessed the capture out the window as I was washing dishes, and then watched (and heard) him sprint across the lawn and up the back stairs to show me his find.  Of course he drew a picture:

Nature Notebook Entry

He asked me if he could make a nature notebook entry before releasing the little lady (fellow? – please don’t tell me how I can find out).  And then he decided to add some lightning.  Just because.  Very nature-y.

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At least it was a productive day.

Option 1:  Tackle massive pile of dirty dishes accumulated throughout a very busy, long day OR

Option 2: Put off tackling mound of dishes in order to feed my sourdough and write about my dishes.

Things I did today:

  • Showered (other mothers of many young children will agree that this alone qualifies as a productive day)
  • Taught the kiddos
  • Baked two loaves of Oatmeal Bread
  • Made Potato Corn Chowder (Yum.)
  • Baked a batch of Breakfast Cookies – this time with walnuts, dried cranberries and chocolate chips.
  • Took all five children to the dentist for cleanings (no cavities :))
  • Let the kids play with clay
  • Filed and paid quarterly taxes for Blessed Roots Farm
  • Created a pile of dishes that spans half my kitchen
  • Stepped in poop on a bathroom rug and lost a pair of undies, the rug, and my sock in the incident
  • Fed my sourdough starter

A full day, indeed.

Alas, the dishes did not do themselves while I was typing.  Guess I better get back to work . . .

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The fabulous, creative ladies over at 2 Teaching Mommies have created several adorable printable packs just for Fall.  This one even has a section specifically for toddlers!

Click here to go to their website and print to your heart’s content.

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All the Places to Love

My kids love it when a book makes me cry.  Happy crying or sad crying – it makes no difference to them.  They are entertained.  “Look, Mom’s crying!” is definitely an announcement that turns heads while I am reading aloud.  And, I have to say that I love it when a book makes me cry.

All the Places to Love by Patricia MacLachlan, illustrated with paintings by Mike Wimmer is sweet, poignant, lovely and well – a crier.  At least for me.  My children seem to have hearts of steel.  Request this one from your library, curl up in a snuggly place with every child in your house who will let you, and have a good, cozy cry.

You won’t regret it.

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dogs collage

The mommies over at Homeschool Creations and 1+1+1=1 have put together 2 really adorable printable packs for us again!!  They have created one about dogs and one about cats.  So, depending on your child’s current love, you can print one or both.  These are a great activity for keeping little preschool hands busy (check out my post here for many more such ideas) while you work with the older crew.  Thanks, Ladies!

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A stack of manila paper.

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Here is my list I promised you on Saturday.  Most of these activities can be done with items you already have around your house or can find for free online.

15 Activities for Your Homeschool Preschoolers

  1. Paper, scissors and tape – Nothing else needed, I promise you.  You could go wild one day and throw in a glue stick.
  2. Salt dough – They can create things and let them harden, and then paint them with water colors.
  3. Puzzles and lacing cards – You can easily make some homemade lacing cards with a piece of cardboard (an old cereal box works well), a marker, a single hole punch, and yarn or a shoelace.
  4. Blocks
  5. Books – Give them a big ol’ stack of great picture books to page through, and when the hour is up let them each choose some for you to read aloud.
  6. Paper, crayons and stickers – Stickers, glorious stickers.
  7. Beans and containers – This one is a classic, but for good reason.  Just grab a container, dump in some dry beans, and give them multiple containers (bowls, cups, baking pans) and utensils to play with.
  8. Water and containers – Same exact idea as the beans.  This time, make sure you put them on a hard surface and lay down a few towels underneath them.  Expect a wet mess.  Or, if you only have one preschooler, let them play in the sink.
  9. String or pipe cleaners and beads – Give them beads large enough not to frustrate them, and something to string them on.
  10. Tracing, coloring pages, or worksheets and crayons – You could easily make these or search for them online.  Find some with letters or numbers on them if you are feeling particularly academic that day.  I have found some fantastic resources here and here.
  11. Cars or a train set – Any vehicles will do.  For some kids this will be enough on its own.  Other kids might need a start by giving them a mat that has a little town on it, or give them strips of cardboard (again, cereal boxes work great) or the inside of a large box to make a road with.
  12. Paints – Yes, this is a messy one.  But just think of that hour in the mean time.  You could do watercolors, tempera, or finger paints.
  13. Playdough – ‘Nough said.  Actually, you may want to save this one for a time when you need 3 hours to work :)!
  14. Toys – Well, that’s a little obvious, right?  But, these would be toys chosen by mom that are educational in nature.
  15. Computer time or learning DVD – This is always a last resort for me, and certainly not something we use on a weekly basis.  My kids tend to get “media head”, and after exposure it seems to be all they think and talk about for way too long.  But, I do want them to have very limited interaction with the computer, and I cannot sing the praises loudly enough for the LeapFrog alphabet series.  All of my children have learned their basic phonics sounds and rules through these with absolutely no effort!

So, there you have it.  I do love a plan.  Happy preschooling!

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A watercolour painting set.

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As I put the final touches on all my plans for our upcoming homeschool year, I am again faced with the challenge of the littles.  My two oldest are in 2nd and 1st grades, and I also have a 4-year-old, a 2-year-old (she’ll be 3 in November), and a 4 month old.  The 4-year-old and the 2-year-old no longer take naps, so they are with us the entire day.  They do like to play together.  But, notice I didn’t say they play well together.  They require a lot of intervention :).

We school year-round, so our typical schedule is three weeks on followed by one week off.  I would love to have 2 hours in my day to work with the older kids while the 4 and 2-year-olds are occupied and not squabbling.  I figure I can get one hour in the morning and one hour in the afternoon with this plan.

Each morning, they are going to have 1 hour of “room time” by themselves.  We played musical rooms again at our house to rearrange things, and now they each have their own room.  But, this is necessary for “room time.”  You could still accomplish this even if you put each of your littles in their own space, or even give them a large blanket to play on quietly.  So, the rules for room time are pretty simple.  NO COMING OUT UNLESS IT IS AN EMERGENCY.  My kids love to go down the list of what qualifies as an emergency – bathroom needs, vomit, blood and fire.  That pretty much covers it.  Although the 4-year-old likes to throw in “bad guys”.  Oddly, she hasn’t had one yet.  They are free to play what they wish or look at books, or even take a nap if they choose (ha, ha).  Ok, so that buys me one hour in the morning.

Each afternoon, I have planned a preschool activity for the two of them to do.  They will be in the same area as me while I school the other two, so I can lend a hand if needed.  I am not a never-ending fountain of preschool creativity, but I figured I could come up with 15 activities – one for each afternoon of our three weeks of school before we take a week off.  I will just use that same 15 day rotation (I’ll be posting my list on Monday) over and over until I feel inspired to don the thinking cap and make another 15 day plan :).

If all goes as planned, we will have both educating and sanity in the house.

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en: Portrait of William Butler Yeats by John S...
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“Education is not filling a bucket,

but lighting a fire.”

– William Butler Yeats

When I read this quote again today, I could not think of a more timely encouragement.  As we wind down this past year of school (we go year-round) and prepare for the upcoming one – I need to hear this.

When I drift too far off the trail, I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself to “educate” my kids.  I picture myself in that old infomercial with the Ronco rotisserie that came with that flavor injector device.  (Am I the only person who remembers this thing?)  Separate that skin and shove in the garlic!  If I just get the right tools, I can jam those little bits of information into their bodies and end up with perfectly seasoned educated children.  Voila!

But, then somebody pees on the floor (talking about the 2-year-old here – not me), so-and-so wants a snack, the baby just woke up, I need to order labels before the next farmers market . . .  And of course, my fabulous educational tools sit on the desk.  And I feel like I am failing my kids.

So, when I heard that quote today, I felt myself relax.  It isn’t about my tools, it is about their passions.  It isn’t about what we didn’t get done today, it is about what I taught them about learning.

No, I am not an unschooler (I am not that brave), and yes, I do use resources to teach, and I make a lesson plan, and we do actually (miraculously) get it done almost every day.  But, what I need to remember is that checking off those little boxes I make as a plan is not the goal.

Teaching them to love learning when I am not there handing them their little boxes is really why I do what I do.   Not just getting through any given Wednesday, but lighting the fires that will burn for their entire lives.

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