Monday, December 14, 2009

Been a bit crazy around here

I realize it's been a little while since I've posted.
It's been a bit crazy around here. Our little Ember is now 7 months. She's a darling baby but also the kind who refuses to nap once put down, so that does somewhat limit me a bit. You simply have not enjoyed cleaning a toilet unless you've tried doing so while wearing a baby in a Mei Tai carrier. LOL

School wise, yet again I find myself making changes. I have to say that homeschooling is something that I think is always a work in progress. By that I mean that if something just isn't clicking here with either the kids or myself (as far as my teaching needs) then we are so blessed to be able to make that switch and make it now. I'm sure every homeschooler would agree that we are very lucky to be able to do that on a whim to suit our kids/family needs.

Both girls will "graduate" from their perspective grades after Christmas. Skylar will be in 3rd grade in January and Summer 1st grade. We enjoy doing a ceremony of sorts with my parents when they are visiting.
What an amazing improvement I've seen in Skylar's reading over this past year. It's been fantastic to be a part of helping her along that journey. She is now reading books like The Beginners Bible and the Magic Treehouse series. This is a girl who hated reading just last year.
Summer's handwriting is developing beautifully, what a huge change that's been to see over the past year and I've enjoyed reading over her stories (she likes to make up stories and jot them down).

Now for the changes:
Skylar and I seem to be having a hard time with Math, in that it's hard to find the perfect program to suit her needs and to suit my teaching style. She seemed to really like certain elements of Christian Light Education's Math. So since I have that, we are giving that a revisit today. I personally love MUS but I feel that I am a bit lax with lessons because of the set up. I'm thinking of meshing the two styles a bit and seeing how that goes for us since MUS has some great ways to approach solving. And I have to say that their teaching of place value via decimal street is amazing and lasting.
We just talked about it again today and she said "I like the one with the speed drill the best" (which is CLE).

I've also realized that we are not using the whole Sonlight LA 2 program, I find I'm just using it for readers and copywork (and even copywork not so much since I have Queens Spelling through copywork for Skylar to use each day). So when I think about it, I'm using it just for the schedule of the reader package. So since that's the case, I'm setting it aside and just going to keep on going with the readers, Skylar doing a chapter a day, and still using Queens for copywork. I'm going to add in Spelling workout, since I don't feel we need to be doing phonics at this point. And we're working through a grammar workbook together, but I don't feel a huge love for grammar for younger kids so that's just a gentle intro I guess you could say.

For Summer, she does need more work on Phonics so she'll be using The Complete Book of Phonics. She worked up to Explode the Code 2 already but I see there are some things she needs review on and I didn't want to cover ETC again and wanted a colorful option. I love ETC though but just in this case I thought a switch and adding color would work well for her at this point.
I'm thinking for her, quite possibly she might enjoy MUS but I'm not going to start that up right now. She's using Kumon for math and seems quite happy with it.

So other than that, the only other changes I see for now at least are adding in things like creative stories, which I have been very lax on. I think it's great to have the kids narrate a story to me once a week so I can journal it for them. The keepsake it creates is amazing to look back on.

History we'll be using some Christian Liberty Press once we finish up reading about the Pilgrims. And I plan to get Skylar some of the Famous Young American Books which I think she'd enjoy reading about famous women.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Birthday week has begun

Since Skylar and Summer's birthdays are so close in days, we celebrate what we call, (drum roll please LOL) ........birthday week : )

We bake, craft, play, eat goodies, and just have a fun old time.

Today we made our own pizzas for lunch together. That was fun, and the kids all said "this is the best pizza ever." Wow! I guess I'll be buying those pre-made mini pizza shells so we can make our own together more often!

After lunch we baked cookies together. Then we ate a bunch of them LOL

(all cooking was done while Ember was in her Mei Tai baby carrier). Gosh I love that baby but boy she is a heavy monkey.

Then off the girls went to play with their new Barbie dream house my parents sent them for their birthday's.

Tomorrow we'll be baking Summer's birthday cake together, (she has requested Strawberry Shortcake).

We're on school break until Wednesday the 18th.

Phys ed in our house LOL

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Exercise ala jump on AJ
Create your own slideshow - Powered by Smilebox
Make a Smilebox slideshow

I've been wanting to post this for awhile of my kids having a blast with my brother.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Storing workbox cards

I have seen some really neat ideas for this. I went the cheap route with what is on hand and use the empty containers you get from buying strawberries. That keeps all my schedule strip velcro backed cards and also my larger inside the workbox cards.

Something new for Decklin to make our day go smoother

Decklin is almost 3. He has had his own workboxes and will just grab what he wants. The issue is he never cleans it up, so by the end we have a mountain of Decklin's things all over the school room or everyone else stops as we go to tidy up. Last night I re-arranged our school room and next to Decklin's desk I put a large basket of "Decklin" friendly items, or preschool type friendly items that he can grab from. That way he can grab from there and put them right back in there. The whole being to put it all right back LOL.
I will still keep things in his workboxes but I am going to direct him to put it all right into his own basket beside his desk.
Here's hoping that helps a lot in keeping me or the other kids from having to stop in the middle of what we are doing to clean up his trail of school things LOL.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Our first history pockets

We are reading about the Pilgrims in Stories of The Pilgrims. We did our first history pocket from Evan Moor's Life In Plymouth Colony for grades 1-3. It was not as exciting or fun as we all thought it would be but we'll see how it plays out in future weeks : )

And there are photos from our first tea party on Oct 2nd.

Our Halloween school day

For Halloween we'll be taking a short easy day so that we can bake, watch some child friendly halloween shows and so on. We have been doing halloween type crafts all month. We did paper mache pumpkins, pumpkin stepping stones, balloon ghosts, pumpkin and spiders made out of clay, paper cup ghosts, water color halloween themed painting, drew our own haunted houses, a pumpkin unit study with life cycle of the pumpkin book, and colored some halloween pictures.

So for Friday our school day will look like this:

halloween math pattern sheet from Enchanted learning
 addition worksheet
halloween color by number

Language arts:
halloween wordsearch
She's also going to tell us a scary story she made up for Halloween.
Will read Pete and Ghost (book she enjoys that has a halloween theme).
online coloring page (computer and mouse control)

Reading about Bats and listening to them online and watching them on videos online.

Summer will be doing the same but some of her sheets are a bit different:
counting worksheet
halloween wordsearch

This is my brother with us : )

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

workbox stuff for Decklin (will be 3 in December)

New things we now have:  

-One of those mini cupcake/min muffin containers that you buy store bought baked goods in, large size cotton balls and tongs. He had a baggie with the cotton balls and dumps those on his desk. Then uses the tongs to put them in each cupcake slot.  

-We just made our own things similar to these: For this one we just used an old note paper storage cube we had on hand which happened to be golf related and made of wood, some non hardening molding clay and golf tees we also had on hand.  

-We made something similar to this as well: We are not handy here so we used precut and presanded molding and then my husband got the bolts we needed and drilled those in and then we got screws for that and had a small screwdriver on hand.  

-I also found these neat things at home depot called view tainer. It's made in the USA and you can make some fun games for those:  

-We also got felt foods from Etsy, one is a pizza making set, and another is sandwich making.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Some of our fun workbox stuff

Since the lead recalls from the China made toys we no longer buy any toys made in China for our kids. The only exception to that are Melissa and Doug toys which are well tested and Barbie dolls which we can't avoid since there is nothing comparable.

Old catalogs are great for having the kids make their own scenes on paper. And my older dd loves the thought of recycling.
My older dd has used the Lands End catalog to design outfits for people she's drawn in her sketchbook. 
My younger dd designed a room using a furniture catalog. 

My son loves the aquadoodle coloring with water.
I give him paint brushes to use with a cup of water and it keeps him busy for a good hour.

Melissa and Doug pattern blocks and boards:

Ed Emberely drawing books:
We have:
-Complete Funprint drawing book
-Drawing book of faces
-Drawing book of animals

Usborne I can draw Animals:

We have several of the Lauri Inc items:
My 2 year old through my 2nd grader use varying items of theirs.

My girls like to make cards with clear stamps and a block. We got ours at Walmart but Amazon has them also:
We use a set of stamp ink markers (they use those to color the stamps before using it, in place of a stamp pad)
My little guy uses a first set of stamps that are round. But here is something similar to what he has, but his are all boy things:

Lacing beads:

The girls use many of the Klutz books:
They especially love the fancy dressers, pom pom animals, and totally tape:


Play Foam:

Mandala Designers:

Other things they do for fun in their workboxes:
-Jigsaw puzzles
-leapster games
-Hot dots self checking activities
-hi ho cherry o with baby brother
-file folder games some from other sites, some of my own. To make my own I just google clip art or images for the theme I want. I made one of math facts using Christmas Trees and ornaments that I found online. I printed them all out on cardstock. I did another with a dog and bone. Those were fun to make. I did them for math facts for my 2nd grader.
-Melissa and Doug craft kits (like piggy banks, wood dolls, book marks)
-Card making
-painting and other various art, such as working with self hardening clay, water color crayons, etc.
-play with the cat
-various sorting games. I used a left over container from cupcakes that a friend gave us (super market container). It's the mini size and I let my son sort bingo markers by color in there.
-pouring activities (from one pitcher to another)
-scratch art
-dover coloring books (various)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

We're doing a world culture study

We're going to use Jeff Corwin's new show on Food network as something fun to build off. My dd's love cooking and food shows.

This week's episode will be on Thailand.
Here are some things we'll be using for our Thailand study:

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Fine tuning our workboxing

I've opted to go with a 4 day school week. I need an extra day to just get the house in order.
Here is our new 4 day schedule:

Also we got new workboxes. I'll upload a photo of those in practice in our school room soon but in the meantime you can see them here at Sam's Club:
A fellow homeschool Mom on my workbox group shared photos of hers and I loved the way they looked. (so pretty LOL)

Obviously the workboxes are working here for us but I've just been adapting as our needs and direction has changed. I do really enjoy the system.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wow the year is almost at an end

We school year round with our new year starting in December.

Skylar will start 3rd grade, Summer 1st grade, Decklin will be 3 and doing preschoolish type things. Ember will just be being a baby : )

With all the changes this year I'm really hoping to keep it simple from this point on.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

On the road to losing weight

I've been reading the journeys of several homeschooling Mama's on the road to their weight loss and thought I'd share mine.

After the birth of Ember on May 7th, it seems that I am having more shall we say "Mommy Tummy" than after my other children. So I opted to use The 3 Hour Diet in an effort to begin to get myself back in shape. Today is day 8, and I've lost 6 lbs. I'd like to get back to about 120 or there about. I've found that for me with the breastfeeding on demand, about 1650 calories per day is the right combo for me.

The reasons I went with this method verses many others are:
- It's realistic for a breastfeeding Mom with 4 little ones to incorporate into my day.
- I am able to eat foods I really enjoy along with sweets.
- I don't have to follow recipes and can eat normally with my family.
- There is no additional expense in my grocery budget.
- I have not felt hungry and therefore not grabbed handfuls of chips or candy like I used to.
- I feel more energy despite waking often at night to nurse the baby.
- I don't have to exercise to get the benefit of losing weight.

I've not really added in much exercise more than housecleaning while carrying my 16 lb, 3 month old in a sling. I do try to add in some squats to tone my legs and behind and also a tummy exercise to close the gap in my belly muscles from pregnancy if time allows. For the squats I use one of those birth/ exercise balls and put that behind my back against the wall as I squat. These feel fantastic : ) For my tummy, I get on hands and knees and pull my belly button in as far as it will go. I also do this in a sitting position while driving or sitting at the table or on the sofa. I can definitely feel a difference. I also like those little dumb bells for arm exercises.
The Wii fit offers a fun cardio step workout as well as hula hooping which is fun. But again I'm not doing anything on a regular basis except for changing the way I've been eating.

Happy weight loss to my fellow homeschool mamas!

Sunday, August 9, 2009


I wanted to put all my workbox photos in one place so I'm doing another post on them and also for anyone who wants to know what a workbox is I figured it'd be helpful to have that all in one place.

What is a workbox?
It's a system developed by homeschooling Mom and author Sue Patrick.
It creates physical and chronological structure to a child's school day, using a visual cue (the boxes, the schedule strip) and encourages the parent to present work in bite sized chunks, mixed with fun things which make school time enjoyable for the child. The child is able to see what is coming when and gets structure and order while working through their school day.

Sue's book has downloads for all the items you need for your boxes, as well as schedule strip, school check in and numbers for the boxes and numbers that go on the schedule strip.
You will need either clear laminate or clear contact paper, cardstock to print your cards, file folders if you want to do file folder games and velcro coins (or velcro dots - nice and cheap on
ebay for these!)

Sue Patrick encourages the use of clear shoeboxes in a shoe rack, but I have seen many variations from magazine holders, cereal boxes, plastic drawers, hanging file folders etc.

Our day starts with my kids checking in to school using the pocket hanging on the side of one of our shelves. They seem to enjoy this.
Then they sit at their desks (they asked for school desks and love um!) and I have their schedule strip sitting there for them. There is a set of numbers and any other picture cards I want on there (these pictures are for things that do not have a box, like play with baby brother, Wii fit, do a puzzle, play with the cat, watch a dvd lesson - like Sonlight Discover and Do dvd or an episode of signing time and so on).

Then they take number one off their strip, attach it to matching workbox that has a number 1 on it. They take whatever is in their box to their desk and begin working.
Some boxes have a "work with mom" sign on them and the kids take that off when they get to the box and hang it on a wall strip I have just as a keeper for them, or they put it into a jar I have on my desk.
By the end of their school day (which is not long at all) there is nothing left in their boxes and their schedule strip is empty and they know they are done for the day : )

some of our printables:

Tuesday, August 4, 2009