Saturday, November 16, 2013

Learning about the first Thanksgiving

Last year, I quickly discovered that most of the library books about Thanksgiving were gobbled up (lol) before I could get to them. I put a few on reserve, and did get to borrow some...but yeah holiday books at my particular library can be tricky to nab in a timely manner.

So, I bought a few, since I figured we'd want to read about Thanksgiving each year anyway. I love to preview books on Amazon by using their "look inside" feature to get a handle on the text and illustrations. Some books that sounded awesome in reviews ended up not suiting my purposes. It's nice to just be able to preview some pages/chapters without buying it first.

Our preschool Thanksgiving books:

Earlier this week, we read some of the books together and then thought it would be fun to reenact the Pilgrims crossing the ocean on the Mayflower using toys.

I grabbed Johnny's pirate ship, dug out some Playmobil people, and we put down a blue blanket to be the ocean. We used our huggable globe to point out their starting and ending routes and then captain Johnny set sail. Fortunately, we also had an ark that Vivienne used. Couldn't share ships, apparently. Good grief.

Upon arrival in the New World, we had Squanto and Samoset join them. We built them some Duplo cabins.

All the while, Johnny was talking through the storyline of what happened --basically narrating back to me much of what we just read. He just did this on his own and I was impressed at what he remembered and understood.


Later, we watched the Charlie Brown's The Mayflower Voyagers on Netflix. I've had trouble finding other Thanksgiving movies on Netflix -- anyone know of any? We also watched an episode of "My Life as a Turkey" lol. Really bizarre but you could see baby turkeys grow.

Johnny was talking about doing some sort of craft, and I'll probably do a quick search for free Thanksgiving coloring pages to print and color. Maybe a more complicated craft via Pinterest, I dunno. I'm not going to overthink it.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Our preschool day on Monday, August 26

Note: I found this still in my drafts. Thought I'd hit publish. I have no idea what we did the rest of that day, so I can't finish the post. Heh.

This morning, I quickly threw together some activity cards for the kids to do and we got to work.

I pulled out the Lauri uppercase and lowercase puzzles first. The MFWK set came with I think the lowercase? But I also bought an uppercase, since we could make good use of it and if I had one puzzle set for each child that would go waaaay better.

They played with the letters, matched them to the pictures underneath the puzzle, and put them back. I had Johnny count to see how many letters there were in the alphabet. He can count to 100, but sometimes he skips #13. Does he think he's a hotel with a 13th floor or something?

Next up, workbooks. Did two pages in Developing The Early Learner (a simple trace-maze thing and a match an item to the big picture thing). That page showed a picture of a lit match, and then a picture of a campfire and a picture of trees. He was supposed to color the picture of the thing the match went along with. Instead, I had him circle it. We were going to do more coloring in a minute.

Next up, we read the Adam and Eve story in our Bible Pictures to Color/Read books. This time, I read the story while they colored. I'm not really sure if it's an approach I want to take too often -- not sure how much Johnny was listening but many kids *do* listen better while coloring, so who knows. We had some discussion after I read the story.

Vivie didn't want to color that page in her coloring book. She just kind of wants to do her own thing with it, and really I'm going to let her I think. Mainly I want to keep her entertained and occupied, rather than "color this correctly."

I grabbed another workbook for her to flip through and do. She likes doing "paths" (mazes) so she sorta did a few, and colored some things.

I had Johnny do two pages in the Counting With Numbers book. We're on number 4, and he just isn't interested in the repetitive nature of writing a bunch of 4s. Didn't push it. Not that big of a deal. So he did the next page which had him count and label objects with the appropriate number. We'll hit handwriting again with his kindergarten, so at this point it's just exposure and if he will form the letters and numbers correctly, that's great.

Following that, Johnny asked if he could do a craft. Sure! I asked which supplies he wanted me to grab, and he wanted a paper plate, some googly eyes and his markers and glue.

Great deal on some educational DVDs

We picked up the boxed set of Liberty's Kids and Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego? a few weeks back, and we've watched several episodes together.

They're decent, with some educational content within.

Liberty's Kids focuses on the American Revolution and the Carmen Sandiego one is different than the game show -- it's an animated series tracking Carmen the thief around the world. So it's more geography/cultural/etc. based, I suppose.

Anyway, each show's boxed set contains 40 episodes. At $5.99 per boxed set, that's an insanely cheap deal.

Use it in conjunction with your studies on the American Revolution, or maybe a geography thing, or just for when you are laying on the couch nursing a tiny baby and would rather have something like that vs. total drivel.

Episode list for Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego?

Episode list for Liberty's Kids and see the main website for extras

Friday, August 16, 2013

Planning some 'extracurricular' social time

This year, we're joining two regularly meeting social groups. The first is MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and the second is like MOPS, but not affiliated. I think. I haven't been to that one yet.

We went to the first day of MOPS this morning, and I think it will be just what we need. I tried a different MOPS group 2 years ago when Vivie wasn't even crawling yet and Johnny was 2.5. We went to the first meeting but I just wasn't in a good physical place to commit to going more.

But now, I think it will be great for my kids and myself. Johnny will be in a class of 4-5 year-olds and Vivie will be with the 2s. They'll have their own activities, do a craft and have a snack and playtime and such. I'll be with the other moms and there's usually guest speakers, a hands-on project and social time.

This group meets 2x/month, and on weeks that it doesn't meet, there's also Bible study offered (with childcare as well). I'm thinking that would also be good to join.

The second group meets once per month, and the first meeting isn't until September.

I really want my kids to have a chance to play with other kids their age, and see the same kids on a regular basis to develop friendships. Since we're not doing away-from-home preschool, this is the next best thing for playing in a group, as far as I can tell.

I know I'll need to take some time away from everything once the baby comes. I just hope I can spring back to stuff sooner rather than later. Perhaps it will help my kids from being too restless.

I briefly considered also signing up for Kindermusik -- but the price is a bit much considering we will probably miss several weeks. Perhaps we will do it next semester when I have a better handle on life with three kids.

Also on my radar is Awana, but it doesn't look like we'll be able to do it this semester. I can't find a location that has a class for both Johnny and Vivie's ages, and I'd really like them both to be involved rather than just Johnny. Vivie wouldn't really appreciate being left out, but she's too young to be in with Johnny's age group. Plus, the classes near me meet pretty late in the evening -- it wouldn't be done until after 8 p.m. which is our target bedtime.

So...maybe next fall for Awana?

Not sure if we'll make it to any library classes. There is a preschool class with no parent in the room for ages 3.5-6 or so, but again that's just Johnny and not Vivie so I don't really know how I'd handle that. There's a few story times that we could all do, so maybe just that.

Lastly, there's a homeschool group that meets at a park every week. It's as laid-back as it gets, which is perfect. I'm hoping to connect with some families who also have some young ones like me.

What else am I missing? I really want to keep it all fairly low-key so not to overwhelm myself. But, I do value having things like this to do.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

How to make a workcard system for organizing preschool activities

You might have heard of the Workbox System. I've read the book and took some ideas from that, and a mis-mash of ideas from people on the interwebs, and I came up with something that will hopefully work for my little preschoolers.

As you can see from my goals and curriculum choices for the semester, I want this time to be fun and no-pressure. I also want to make the most of the ridiculous amounts of educational games, toys and manipulatives that I've acquired (some through used sales, some were gifts, some I bought with Amazon gift cards and some I bought new).

Right now, those items live in a large closet so the pieces don't wander off, never to be seen again. But it's also easy to just plain forget they're in there.

Finally, I would like some structure to our school time. Not a rigorous schedule mind you, but more like "here's what we can do today; let's dig in and enjoy ourselves."

So now, I present these workcards. 

 I went through Amazon to quickly find high-quality photographs of the educational materials I want to use. Why not just take pictures myself? Because the marketing photos are much higher-quality, have better white space, and it was much faster to just grab those photos and save them to a word doc and print, than pull everything out of their boxes, arrange it in a visually appealing way, take the photo and edit it.

- I resized the photos to fit on a 3x5 index card (just eyeballed it on my screen, and had two columns on each 8.5x11 printer page so roughly 8 images per page), printed the pages, cut out the images and used a glue stick to adhere them to an index card.

- I sorted them by general theme and numbered them, but looking back I wish I numbered them on the back side of the card instead. Whatever.

- Next up, laminating. This was my first time laminating anything, and wow I now see why so many homeschoolers love that device.

- Then came the velcro. I bought some from 3M that came in squares, but they were sort of hard for me to remove from the backing. They're working so far, but if I had to do it again I'd try to find another brand for this task.

I used the soft velcro part on the index card and the rough velcro on their individual work card holder thing.

I have a few "box 1," and "box 2" cards so I can put whatever I want in an empty shoebox. Maybe a craft, book, or game that I don't have an individual card for, or who knows.

How I made their work card holder:

- I used black cardstock, since that's what I had and it was sturdier than construction paper. I put their names on them with stickers and also added sticker numbers to show the order I wanted them to proceed with their cards. There's a front and back to it -- on the back are spaces for #5-8.

- I glued a plain index card (x8) on the card stock to help me line up where the workcards belong. I also put a little reward sticker on each index card.

- Laminated the large cardstock, and then added the rough velcro to the middle of each index card. The lamination didn't adhere perfectly around the index cards. Must have been too think, but I think it will be ok. I should have used 3x5 printer paper instead so it would be thinner, but that would have taken longer to cut to size.

To me, all that sounds labor-intensive and fussy. Normally I'm not up for such tasks. But it was fun and it went smoothly. Hopefully these things will last awhile.

Using the cards in a school day:

On Sunday night, I put some cards on each of my kids' pages. We're still in pilot mode, so I didn't want to overthink my selections too much. I wanted to add some variety, fun, and activities that wouldn't take too long so they wouldn't be overwhelmed.

I used 8 cards for Johnny on Monday:

Three workbooks, but I only had him do a page or two in each. I started with the maze book since he already knew how to do mazes and they were fast. He did 4 pages and then I stopped him. He then took the card from his page and put it in an empty plastic shoebox to show that he was done with it. He thought that was pretty fun.

Next up, one page in Developing the Early Learner. Rip and done.

Last, two pages that involved coloring in Adventures with Books. When I previewed the first pages for this one and saw it involved coloring, I wanted to make this one the last workbook of the day. That way, he'd have two cards accomplished already and he could spend as much time as he wanted coloring. It was a good move for us.

Switching gears, we did the lace & trace activity from MFW-preschool. Vivie joined us for this and we laced some shapes, and then we did a little memory game (I put out three shapes, had them look at it and then close their eyes, took one away and asked if they could remember).

Next was a card that said "read with mom." We read through a few library books.

At this point, it felt like a good time to take a break. Reading books on the couch together feels like a break, and's not! :)

He had some free play after that, and we picked up our remaining activities:

For Vivie, I chose:

Four cards shown plus "read with Mom."

She thought her activities were fun and she liked having tasks to do. I was glad we could include her on the things she wanted to be involved in, rather than dealing with a toddler tantrum.

The first day was a big hit and I do think the cards helped us have a little rhythm going, and it made me feel like we accomplished something schooly.

That night, I asked Johnny how many cards he wanted for Tuesday. He thought 3 would be a good number, so that's what I did:

A page in the Counting with Numbers workbook, introducing the Cuisenaire Rods and alphabet book, and our SmartMax magnet blocks for building.

I had Vivie play with tangrams and geoboards with rubber bands, and the farm animal counter game thing.

Johnny didn't care so much about aligning the rods with the diagrams in the book. He just wanted to free-form and that was fine with me. But Vivie surprised me, since she came and joined us with this and she liked matching up rods with the diagrams.

She then blew my mind when she made a house figure in the book, saw that it needed a triangle of a certain size for the roof, and went and grabbed a triangle tangram that pretty much fit. Uh, your brain cells are firing well, little lady!

I was glad to have a lighter day anyway, since we had a doctor's appointment and some grocery shopping to do. And I really don't want to do too much too fast.

Now it's Wednesday and I didn't prepare any cards for them today. I wanted to see if they asked about it, and if not I might just prepare some for tomorrow.

Keeping track of cards we used

I am now going to make a spreadsheet to help me log the cards we've completed and when. I'd rather log ones we actually did, then ones I intend to do. Because we know how intentions and plans can go.

I hope this log will help me keep fresh activities in rotation, and space things out in a reasonable manner.

I retrieved each activity for them when it was time for the next thing, rather than have it all out at once. I know that's the point of using an official workbox station, to have everything already laid out -- but for space reasons and for the fact that they're preschoolers (didn't want them jumping ahead), I like this for now.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Preschool stuff for the week of July 8

Last week, I pulled out a few of our preschool materials to give them a dry run. I thought I'd get a little feel for how we felt about them before we jumped in. It was a nice week!

I also wanted to mention that the week confirmed that my son truly is a preschooler. I know some moms use the MFWK curriculum as a preschool year, and maybe that would be fine for us, but where we're at now with the materials I've selected seem to be a perfect fit. Yay!

Monday -
  • Read Bible Stories to Read story #1
  • J&V colored the first picture in the Bible stories coloring book. I like how Johnny picked realistic colors and took his time to color every aspect of the picture. He doesn't color a lot -- mostly he draws, so I'm looking forward to watching him progress throughout the book. Vivie wanted to do a scribble on each page of her book, but I wrangled it from her and explained she could only do one page in THIS book, but she could color any pages she wanted from another one we have. I want to work on her listening and following directions, so that's why I pushed it a little.
  • Johnny and I played one game of Chutes & Ladders at his request while Vivie watched a show on Netflix
  • Johnny and I did 5 cards from MFW preschool. We did them all from the Lauri Kids Puzzle. He enjoyed every one. Topics included sorting by color, making patterns (we did AB, ABBA, ABC today), counting forward and backward, and lastly when it was time to put the pieces back on the puzzle board, rather than just doing the puzzle I had Johnny shape his body like the puzzle pieces. He thought that was great!
  • Read some library books together!

Tuesday -
  • Read books, grandparents came over for the afternoon/evening to visit
Wednesday -

  • Johnny was writing his name on his own, and I asked if he'd like to learn the correct way to write an 'h.' So, I taught how to write the lowercase 'h' using HWT stamp screen and the slates, then he wrote a few with paper
  • Went to the library to return books and pick up some new ones. I had a few on hold and then we browsed and added a few more. The kids wanted to color a picture before we left, so they did.
  • We read story #2 from Bible Stories to Read
  • Johnny did the first two pages of DTEL workbook while Vivie put stickers on a piece of paper.
  • Then, I grabbed the "Counting with Numbers" workbook and he did a few pages. Writing a "2" seems pretty tricky.
  • I asked what he wanted to do next and he wanted to color, so I grabbed his Bible stories coloring book and he did that page. Vivie didn't want to. She did the shape stacker Lauri toy. She likes sorting by color and totally gets that concept, so now I want to show her how to sort by shape with it.
  • Next, he wanted to play Candy Land. I put in a movie on Netflix while Johnny and I stole away upstairs to play. I wish we could include her, but she's kind of destructive when it comes to board games right now, so it was best to just distract and ditch. Sorry, Viv. 
  • Then, we did several MFW preschool cards. This time, we did the number puzzle toy and did several activities with that. He loved it! The cards have so many developmentally appropriate activities, and things that might not occur to me. I think I like sticking with one toy and doing several cards with it, vs. doing several cards but one per toy. For us, it flows faster and seems less disjointed to do it that way.
Thursday -

What did we do? I cannot remember! Surely something. 

Friday -

Went to the blueberry farm and picked 5+ lbs! Such a fun time, and of course we read Blueberries for Sal. I intended to do some activities from Before Five in A Row, but I kinda forgot. We can do that another time.

* * *
This week is busy. I have doctor's appointments, kitchen stuff appointments, and just general things to do for our kitchen renovation project. It's coming to an end, and everything should be done by the beginning of August. This week and next week will be my busiest.

I'm not sure that we'll get to any of our school-y activities this week. Hopefully just some good playtime and storytime, and that'll be a-ok in my book. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Our preschool plans for Fall 2013

In my last post, I outlined broad objectives I'd like to hit with each of my children for this preschool year. I figure it's a good idea to start with a bit of purpose, and choose curriculum around that, rather than the other way 'round.

Here's more specifics on what we are preparing to do:

Johnny (4.5 years, preschool)


  • Use the Rod & Staff "Bible Stories To Read" to guide us through 60 Bible stories. 
  • We'll read the story and color the corresponding picture in the Bible Pictures to Color book. I have a coloring book for Vivienne, too, so she can also participate here.
  • For memory verses, we may do the ones listed in the Bible Stories to read, or I might do the ones from ABC Jesus Loves Me year 3. Most of those go along with the Hide 'Em in Your Heart CDs which we already have and enjoy.
  • Bible songs will probably come from the Wee Sing Bible Songs CD. Perhaps I can get some of them to line up with the Bible stories we're reading.
  • I also plan to incorporate our Betty Lukens flannelgraph to help illustrate the Bible story we're discussing.

I'm not sure the pace we'll take, so I'm just going to start out doing it and figure out the pacing later. I'm working on a spreadsheet to help myself line up topics/verses/etc.

My Father's World Preschool

I bought the 3-5 year old set last fall, but we only got out the materials on occasion. I'd like to be more deliberate with using the toys in this set, as well as the activity cards. The 72 cards really have some great developmental activities for this age group.

Why this curriculum? To develop thinking skills, fine motor skills, phonics and math concepts while using toys.

Rod & Staff preschool workbooks

I bought the Rod & Staff preschool workbook pack (we have A through F) and I'd like to start with the first four, simultaneously: "Adventures with Books;" "Bible Stories to Read" along with "Bible Pictures to Color;" and "Counting With Numbers."

Why this curriculum? I like the simple progression of skills in these workbooks, and I think they'd be helpful tools without overwhelming us.

Developing the Early Learner workbook series

I'd like to slowly work our way through these workbooks. These are a different sort of concept -- they aren't teaching numbers and letters and such. Rather, these books are designed to help develop left-right tracking (important when learning to read and write!), eye-hand coordination, motor skills, visual strength, auditory and thinking skills.

Why this curriculum? These are all important skills for young children to develop!


I'd like to try some stories and activities within Before Five in a Row, Five in a Row, and Peak with Books. Part of me wonders if we'll actually like doing the activities, but I do want to give it a try. At the very least, the children's books that go along with these curricula are awesome, so we'll read some great books while we're at it.

Why this curriculum? I like the book selections. The activity ideas could be some that we implement, or they could inspire us to come up with our own. I don't have expectations here for how many activities, if any, we'll complete per story book.


I want to teach correct letter and number formation, since Johnny likes writing words but his style is all wonky. I don't want bad habits to become too ingrained, so that's why I'd like to address it now. We'll use Handwriting Without Tears materials.

I have their preschool workbook (but not the teacher's manual...and now I'm wondering if we'll be missing some things). We'll use the roll-a-dough activity, slate chalkboard, stamp & see screen, and I'll make cardstock templates of their wooden letter pieces from the kindergarten teacher's manual (I think that's where I saw it).

Why this curriculum? I love the multi-sensory approach here. Also, HWT is lefty-friendly, and my son is absolutely a lefty.

Other items we might add in at some point:

For Vivie, at 2.5 and in 'tot school'

She'll be tagging along and joining us when she wants, and doing her own thing when she doesn't. Resources I have specifically for her include:

  • I Can Color Toddler Big Skills for Little Hands
  • I Can Cut Toddler Big Skills for Little Hands
  • Let's Get Ready 3-5 Years (Gakken Workbooks)
  • Rod & Staff "About Three" workbook series (but she's not ready yet for this one)
  • The My Father's World preschool 2-3 year old set, (earlier I said minus the Wedgits...but I had some Amazon gift card money so I decided to order these and the cards)

I'd like to start with the MFW toys and the I Can Color book. Some of the other things can wait awhile. I also have plenty of 'educational games' for both kids that we'll incorporate somehow.

As far as I have no idea. I don't want to spend too much time in one day on school stuff. I'm thinking perhaps we can start with roughly three days per week and go from there. While the weather cooperates, I want to spend plenty of time at the park and generally outside.

I'd like to also have plenty of time for play dates, library time, and other fun outings.

I want to avoid overthinking all of these activities and schedules and routines at such. Analysis is paralysis, ya know? So with this general idea of what we'd like to use and what I'd like to accomplish, I'm just going to jump in.

I'll probably start with the Bible activities and once we get into a groove with that, add some of the workbook things and so on.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Tentative plans for the fall 2013 semester

I'm going to view this school year in two semesters. Thinking about 9ish months of academics for kids who are 2 and 4 years old...yeah that's too much for me to take on. It's a third of my daughter's life and a big chunk of my son's.

Factor in the baby coming in September/October, and yeah I think it's best for me to just consider August - December and evaluate what we'll do from January-May closer to the time.

Here are my objectives:

Preschool: Johnny, age 4.5 (as of June)

  • Bible: Become more familiar with Bible stories, memorize verses, memorize songs
  • Expose to concepts in math via real-life and hands-on examples
  • Continue exposing to phonics sounds and decodeable words through books we're reading together, words we come across in real-life situations, and words he's otherwise curious about
  • Continue developing fine motor skills through coloring, cutting, pasting, folding, doing mazes and dot-to-dots, lacing cards, etc.
  • Demonstrate and practice correct letter and number formation, as Johnny likes to add words to his pictures 
  • Read lots of fun, age-appropriate literature together with the goal of enjoyment of the story, building listening skills, prereading skills, and critical thinking
With Johnny, I decided he and I both need a little bit of structured preschool before we dive into MFWK. In my last post, I debated whether to start MFWK in August or delay it until January or even the following year, and based on feedback I got from some forums and just listening to my gut, we'll wait a little while on this. I think we'd all do better by waiting. 

My primary goal with him this semester is to get into some sort of more structured rhythm and be deliberate with educational activities and endeavors. It has to be fun! If it's not fun, it's dropped. He's 4.

Tot school: Vivie, age 2.5 (as of June)
  • Bible: Become more familiar with Bible stories, memorize verses, memorize songs
  • Learn to play quietly/do her 'work' while I'm working with Johnny
  • Expose to coloring, cutting, pasting with the goal of having fun
  • Read plenty of stories together
Vivie is still super young, and she's only getting tot school because she wants to do everything her big brother does. I ended up keeping things simple when Johnny was that age, and I intend to do the same with Vivie, except she'll have specific activities for our school time. Mainly to keep her occupied, but also to work on her "it's ok to share Mommy" attitude. That one needs some work.

Coming up in my next post, I'll elaborate on how I hope to achieve those objectives.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Trying to figure out when to start MFWK

This post is a bit of a brain dump. I'm trying to sort some things out, so I'm hoping that by putting my thoughts to the keyboard (and asking for feedback!) I can make some sense out of when to start my son on My Father's World Kindergarten.

Some background:

- Johnny is turning 4.5 this week (December birthday).
- He is interested in learning to read. He knows all basic letter sounds, can sound out many CVC words and some extras if it follows the phonics rules he knows.
- He likes to write. He'll grab paper and a pen and compose a message of sorts, and he thinks that's pretty fun.

I already own the MFWK set, so I've been able to look through the materials. I think he's academically ready for the curriculum, but I know that some moms think the Bible lessons in some units are better grasped as a 5 or even 6yo.

I'm not sure if he's ready for formal daily schoolwork. We've never tried anything formal. I know I could start really slowly and just do a few days a week. I also know that MFWK starts off really slow and gentle, and gradually builds up.

I'm also not sure if his scissor skills are up to the cutting needed.

If it were just Johnny and his sister on the scene, I would most likely start MFWK this fall and just go at the pace needed.


Baby #3 is coming! She's due in late September or early October. With Johnny as a newborn, I was barely functional for a long time following his birth. It probably took me until spring before I felt reasonably human, but even so his entire first year is a hazy memory. Something about massive sleep deprivation and PPD causing problems...

Vivie was easier on me as a newborn. I had more confidence and experience, and she was less demanding (only as a newborn!! heh.). I bounced back much faster with her.

With baby #3, I'm hopeful that the due date will help with my recovery. Should still be decent outside, and it won't be around the horrible winter solstice. No daylight makes for a crabby mama!

So in theory, I might only want a month off after the baby comes before I think about adding school stuff back.

But in practice, I don't want to set myself up for failure. I don't want to have high expectations for the semester or even school year. He's 4 turning 5 mid-year. I don't have to report to my state. The only requirements are the ones I make for myself, ya know?

At the same time, if he's ready and I'm ready, I don't want to miss out on a fun learning time together. I'd hate to delay MFWK for too long, in case I miss the prime window of opportunity for him to get the most out of it.

I could:

1.  Start MFWK in the beginning of August and do a few weeks until the baby comes. Doing this would help me get in the swing of a more structured program, and by the baby's birth, I should have a good feel for how MFWK flows. It might help me get back into it later, knowing more of what to expect with each day/week.

If he's not ready, we could easily stop. No problem. A downside -- he's still so young. Do I really want to start as a 4yo?

2.  Start MFWK in January. From Aug-Jan. I could do some of the preschool activities we have, and keep it pretty low-key, but building up the structure (for both of our sakes). If we start in January, it might be difficult to finish by June or so unless we pick up the pace near the end. Not sure if I'd want to keep going, or combine some units/go double speed, or just shelve some of it for the following fall or skip it altogether.

Not sure if I even care when we finish. I did summer school in some form in each of my high school years and several for college, though as a youngster I think having summers off is fun (though of course, knowledge melts out of your brain during the summer if you don't practice your math. Reading? No problem to keep on reading through the summer).

3.  Start MFWK the fall of '14. His true kindergarten year. By that point, I bet he'd be reading much more and the phonics within the program would be all review. But, I like MFWK because it's much more than a phonics program, and I still think he'd get a lot out of it. I think it's ok if the kindergarten year is easy, because it's kindergarten! And it's a huge confidence boost for everyone.

After MFWK (whenever that may be), I'm open to using Heart of Dakota LHFHG (their k or 1st grade) guide. I also now own that, and I'm reading through it and some of the books to see if it might be a good fit. Or, if we do MFWK when he's a true kindergartener, we may go to MFW1st the following year.

I just don't know which start point would work best for me, for Johnny, and for my other kids.

Vivie is 2.5 (tomorrow!) also with a December birthday. She will probably want her own version of activities to do alongside her brother.

Who will be the better tag-alongs? A late 2yo/newly turned 3yo and a newborn/3mo? The baby will hopefully sleep plenty, and I think Vivie at 3 could be a decent tag-along.

Or, Vivie at 3.5 turning 4 (and definitely more preschool-aged in her own right) and a 1yo. Yipe, the 1yo. I wonder if that year might be a challenging one. So would it be better to have one year of a more formal structure under my belt ahead of that, or would it be just as well to start MFWK at that time, knowing it's gentle and doable, toddler tornado and all?

K, ye who have walked the path before me or have Googled until your eyeballs glazed over: lend me your brain cells and tell me what you think?

Swimming lessons are over, and a mile!

The kids finished their swimming lessons last week. Eight lessons total, and they ... wait for it ...

blew my expectations out of the water.

Heh! I'm here all week.

It took two classes for Vivie to really relax and uncling from me. Then, she started to be comfortable enough to explore more of what the instructor would have her do. Except, she didn't want the instructor anywhere near her. She'd give her the stink eye and wait for her to move on, and then she'd do what I told her. Sorta.

Ok, then.

Vivie enjoyed kicking like a frog, kicking like she's riding a bicycle, and then kicking like a frog riding a bicycle (??) while I held her at her waist. She blew bubbles in the water on occasion, and on one day I did dip her all the way under the water.

I held her nose for her and told her to close her mouth, and then dunk! She didn't like it at all, but she didn't cry.

She liked jumping from the side, but only if my hands were already on her. No blind-faith leaps. This was fine...but she is 30+ lbs. flying at me from shoulder-height and whoa, I got a workout.

Johnny's class went so well. I can't believe this is the same kid who as a toddler, regarded water and bath time as the ultimate form of torture. He listened to the teacher and tried to do all that was asked of him. His report card showed that he needs more practice with being underwater...but overall I think he did great!

Each day, all of the preschoolers gathered in a corner together while one instructor talked about safety and general swimming things. After a few minutes, they broke off to go with their individual teachers. The first two days, I helped him find his teacher. After that, I had him do it on his own. I thought it would be a good thing for him to do. Of course, I watched him the entire way from across the pool to make sure he made it to the right place.

On the last day of class, he even went off the diving board. What. There were two instructors/life guards in the water -- one to catch and one to assist getting them to the side. There was another guard standing right on the side, so I think they had the safety thing covered.

An instructor walked right behind Johnny, pushing encouraging him along and then dropped him in. His head didn't even go under, which probably relieved him a lot. Big smiles as he got to the side. He got in line to do it again, but let other kids in front :).

Class was over at that point.

Oh, and also on the last day the kids were given tiny inner tubes to use so they could more independently paddle around the water. We were given pool noodles. Such fun!

I'm planning to practice their skills at the hotel pool on our vacation later this summer. And also going to the public pool here.

Overall, money well spent. I wasn't even sure if the kids would get in the water every day, let alone participate. So proud!

* * *

Today, Johnny ran a mile on a track. Previously, he did 2 laps I think? Maybe 3 total at some point. Anyway, he heard I used to be pretty good at running a mile (way back in my high school days) and he thought he'd see if he could do it, too. He also heard how Daddy ran a marathon, so he's got his eye on that, too. :)

So, we all headed over to a school and he ran those 4 laps! Mostly running, with some walking. A mom-enforced water break after each lap and a minute or so to catch his breath and he was off again. I think it took him 13-15 minutes?

Vivie ran about 50m and then walked to the 200m mark and found a nice bench to sit on. Hehe!

Mama did no running. Didn't wanna, and since I haven't run in awhile I didn't want to mess with balance issues with the baby.

Daddy ran along side Johnny and took a victory lap with Vivie on piggy-back.

All we have to do now is teach the kids how to ride a bike, and I guess we'll get them signed up for the Iron Man or something. Sports!

Monday, June 3, 2013

First day of swimming lessons!

Ooh! I'm so proud. Johnny and Vivie had their first day of swimming lessons, and it went...wait for it...



Johnny was in a preschool group of 3-5 year-olds. There were four other kids with one teacher. Great ratio. He listened to his teacher and as far as I know, did what she told him. Yay! This is the same kid who as a young toddler would scream bloody murder during bath time, and fight with every ounce of his being to stay dry.

He's normally a laid-back kid, so you could tell there really was something about the bath that he didn't like. He has since gotten past that issue, and now takes baths cooperatively.

A few months ago, we went to a pool that had some fun things -- a kid slide, sprayers, etc. and a zero-entry access. It went well with both kids, so I was optimistic about signing them up for classes.

Vivie and I were in the mommy & me class for babies-toddlers. Vivie was less enthusiastic about it. Maybe because the water was really cold. Maybe it was because she couldn't reach the bottom, and was just a bit unsure about the whole thing. I didn't push her. I just wanted her to be in the water with me for the whole class, and to not throw a fit. We'll try more tomorrow.

She clung to me the entire time, except for when the teacher had the kids jump into the pool into mama's arms. Vivie didn't go under water at ALL. But she loved the jumping to mama thing, so that went well. I got an upper body workout I wasn't expecting (hello, she's 30+ lbs)!.

But yes. Overall, good stuff. Seven more sessions to go.

Johnny wanted to know why his teacher didn't show him how to do the freestyle stroke yet (he didn't know the name; he just did the motions). I like that he's thinking big-picture here.

In the middle of the pool, there was some sort of middle or high school swim team doing laps, and it really impressed my kids. It was a good distraction for Vivie, too, when she started getting ideas about getting out of the pool before the class was over. Heh!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Planning on using My Father's World Kindergarten

I hemmed and hawed about My Father's World Kindergarten. Ever since I saw the curriculum, I thought WOW! That would be so fun!

Then last year at a consignment sale, I bought the 1st edition teacher's manual and the associated letter flashcards for $15 total. I figured I could preview the manual and get a better idea for how it would flow, compared to just viewing the sample online. If I liked it, I'd buy the 2nd edition manual since it had lots of improvements.

But then...I was having doubts. I didn't like the look of the phonics so much, and the manual was confusing to me. I knew that would be remedied in the 2nd edition, since it had a grid layout and was supposedly better organized. But some of the things just looked too repetitive.

Some of the (hard to find, I should add) negative reviews said some of it was too repetitive. But other moms said it helped the kids learn.

Also, I was a little intimidated by instructions that said something like "Present information on zebras. Explain why they have stripes." I was supposed to pull that info from library books or an encyclopedia or something. Pfft. Why couldn't they just have little blurb factoids in the manual as well?

So part of me was like, maybe I will skip MFWK and do something else. I looked at other all-inclusive curricula for that age group. I thought about how I wanted the year to look at our house.

I thought some unit studies, involving fiction and non-fiction books on topics of interest, simple crafts, hands-on science and the sort would be fun. Something that integrated Bible would be great. And something gentle with math and reading instruction.

After making a list like that, I realized that was exactly what MFWK was. Why reinvent the wheel?

Rather than taking all the time to plan and pull things together (and probably fall way short and give up), I decided that MFWK really would be a good option for us. I could tweak things that didn't work, and that would probably be a million times easier than putting something else together. We could take a break from it and do our own thing for a little bit, but still jump back into that framework when we wanted.

Another factor? I found out that I'm having another baby! It was that positive pregnancy test, and knowing I'm due in late Sept/early October that solidified the need to keep this upcoming year really simple. I wanted something preplanned and laid out for me, because I think that having that guide and at least loosely following it would help me gain confidence. I know I could just take a big unschooling approach for the year, since Johnny is still young...but that's not what I'm wanting.

I bought the MFWK deluxe package, which also included a classical music CD, cuisinaire rods and a book with it, a book for moms that I already owned, an ant hill farm, a butterfly garden, a book about dinosaurs and an inflatable globe.

I then sold my MFWK 1st edition manual, the new flashcards that I got with my new order, and the new book, rather than my used ones. I figured those two new items might make the eBay auction more appealing. Would you believe I sold that set for a hefty profit? I started it low, but the bidders bid it on up.

So all told, my MFWK deluxe pack cost a net of $146. What a deal! I'll be able to reuse everything with my other two kids, except I'll need to buy the worksheet pack for each. But still. Good price, and at the end of everyone's preschool/kindergarten I might be able to resell some of it.

There are still some things about MFWK that I'm unsure about liking. For instance, the phonics, handwriting and math are integrated into each unit. So if we want to speed one area up or slow one area down, that might be difficult.

Also, I will need to use the library a lot. I'm going to keep my eyes out for some sort of children's encyclopedia (1 volume!) that might hit on a lot of the unit topics for quick reference. I could still reserve books ahead of time, and then pick up 2-3 weeks at a time, so that should be doable.

After reviewing the 2nd edition manual, I'm so glad I upgraded. The guide makes SO much more sense, plus there are additional activities, a beefed up reading list, and more notes from the curriculum's author.

Some moms use MFWK as a K4 preschool program, and start somewhere around when their kid is 4.5 if he is showing readiness. They might take it at a slower pace for awhile.

Other moms use it as a true kindy program.

I think it really depends on the mom and the kid.

I haven't decided when we'll start. Some of the units involve things in nature that are seasonal, such as leaves, apples, and the sort. So in a way, I'd like to start in warmer months to make the most out of that. We couldn't study leaves right now, since there are no buds on any of our trees yet.

Johnny is only 4 years and 3 months. Still really young. Maybe he'll be ready to start slowly in July or August (I'm thinking it might be fun to do a little bit when it's too hot to be outside? Play outside in the early morning, do a little bit of the school activities in the afternoon?).

Then, take a big ol' break when the baby is born, and restart when I feel up to it.

I don't know. I have time to figure it out.

I do know that it is just preschool/kindergarten. I shouldn't get stressed, because it's not THAT big of a deal. I want to keep it fun for all of us.

The MFWK program seems like a gentle introduction to more formal schooling, both for the child and parent. I'm optimistic!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

My first day off in 4+ years

My kids are spending time with their grandparents and have enjoyed their first overnight trip away from home sans parents. They aren't back yet -- I'm expecting them back "before dark" hopefully so we can get bedtime back on track.

But whoa. Two nights away, roughly 48 hours total ... and it is such a weird feeling. Previously, I've had quick bursts of time away in the form of a solo shopping trip, dinner out, or things like that. Never anything close to this.

I miss them! So much! And yet, this was good for everyone. The kids got to spend lots of one-on-one time with their grandparents, get spoiled x100, I had time to get some things marked off my to-do list and also relax a little, and Shane and I also had some much-needed one-on-one time.

They left late Tuesday night. I did a quick pick-up of the house and Shane and I went out to a new-to-us restaurant and then picked up some essentials at the store. Did some more cleaning after that so we could enjoy a tidy house for a few days.

Wednesday, I got up when I felt like it, and drank my coffee while watching the Today Show. So weird! So quiet! I headed out and went to Half Price Books, Aldi, and a butcher shop. Came home and Shane and I went to another restaurant for lunch.

Then, he got back to work and I went to see my grandma for a little bit. Later that evening, we went to an indoor pool which also had some fun activities, like water basketball, a lazy river (no innertubes though -- I guess that's TOO lazy for their standards) and the sort. I'm not much for pools, but at the same time it was fun to do in February and without having to keep an eye on anyone. That place has a fun kid area and I hope we'll go back soon with the kids.

Then, an episode of 24. We're on season 3 and it's just fun to have something ready to go on Netflix.

Today, I went to the library, out to lunch on my own, and then Trader Joe's to stock up on all things delicious and convenience.

I like to have quick things in the freezer from TJ's, because compared to fast food it's not that bad. Tasty, reasonable ingredients and cheap. Love that store.

Now, I'm just finishing up some stuff online and will maybe read a book or something before they get back.

The kids seemed to have a good time, and went to the mall, rode the mall train, went to WonderLab, and who knows what else. LATE bedtimes for both of them and plenty of treats. Oh my. I just hope they'll be mostly civil tonight and tomorrow once the sugar and adrenaline wears off :)

Just wanted to document this milestone. Kthx.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Should preschoolers learn to read?

I am such a fan of Ruth Beechick. I have the three booklet set of The Three Rs: A Home Start in Reading, An Easy Start in Arithmetic, and A Strong Start in Language. (Thanks, Christie for letting me borrow before buying!)

These are brief but right on point. I'd really encourage all homeschooling mamas to read these prior to the start of preschool.

I wanted to share a snippet from the booklet about reading:
"It is true that some children can learn to read remarkably early. But the fact that they can does not necessarily mean they should. Should is another question. One school district set up an experiment to help decide this question. Some kindergartners in the district received extensive instruction in reading. Others spent the same amount of time learning science. [...] ... no formal lessons in reading were held.

And what did the school district learn? By third grade the "science" children were far ahead of the "reading" children in their reading scores. The reason? Their vocabularies and thinking skills were more advanced. They could read on more topics and understand higher level materials.

The reading children, by starting earlier, used up a lot of learning time on the skills of reading, while the "science" children spent the time learning real stuff. And when they did begin reading, they were older and knew more and learned in a fraction of the time that the others took."

I'd better stop there, or I'll just copy the whole booklet. But wow.

I think there are plenty of 4 and 5yos out there who are ready and interested in learning how to read. There's also probably a good chunk of them who are subjected to reading lessons before they're ready. Early lessons may not accomplish much with those kids (except maybe sucking the life out of them and making them loathe reading).

Of course I want my children to be strong readers. I just hope that when the time comes, I have the sense to remember to slow it down, and make sure they are really ready. It's not about me.

Friday, January 25, 2013

January Kiwi Crate update

The kids have completed the two crafts from our January Kiwi Crate and now I'm back with some info.

First, I don't think the sibling add-on was quite worth it for us. While Vivie is a 2-year-old and doesn't share well, I think there still would have been enough materials for her to participate.

I'm dropping the add-on option for the upcoming month (and watch it be the type of month where duplicates would have been worth it!).

Comet toss game:

I had to help with all of the assembly on this one. I didn't read the instructions close enough, and taped the circles wrong, so I had to cut it and retape it (with my tape). That was my fault. I also had to help them assemble their little ball comets.

Johnny enjoyed throwing it and it was good practice for him, since his throwing skills aren't so great. Since it was a frigid day outside, it was nice to have an indoor physical activity to do.

He also got a huge kick out of the bingo card element. Throw the ball to a certain color, mark off that color on your bingo card. I think more bingo is in our future.

We then moved the target rings to our foyer, and dropped the comets from our balcony. That always makes things more fun, right?

We experimented with the comet by taking the ball out, and dropping just the ball or just the fabric square. Didn't work so well. Physics!

Overall, this activity was ok. Nothing mind-blowing, but it was entertaining and something I didn't have to come up with on my own. The ball and fabric square can be re-purposed for something else, but the cardstock rings won't last.

A DIY version could be using rolled up socks and throwing them in different laundry baskets or shoeboxes or such.

Game board:

Since we only had one glue stick and one pack of markers, I did have to round up another glue stick so they could both glue at the same time.

They both used the markers (and it was fine to share the 8 markers) to decorate their game tokens and the game board. Johnny didn't seem to want to decorate much on the board, and at first he liked gluing the pieces on the game board but he got tired of it and I helped him finish.

I just let Vivie do her thing, without much guidance. I figured she didn't need to follow the rules -- she just needed to stay occupied and out of Johnny's hair.

We put the game board together and did two rounds. Johnny won both times and easily understood the rules. It's a simple, Candyland-like game.

We spent about 40 minutes on the game board assembly and playing it.

I haven't done the "explore more" activities yet, but some of the videos and activities sound good.

I think I was more excited about this crate than the kids were, though Johnny says he liked doing it. Perhaps if they were a little bit older, it would have been even better. I thought about saving one game board and materials to do in another year or so, but then I decided to just let Vivie have one now.

Still a fun thing for us and while I'm dropping it down to one child, we'll do a few more months at least (and it does help that I have a referal credit to save $10 off my next crate!).

If you'd like to give it a try, use my referral link to save $10 off your first. Cancel if you don't want to continue.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Results of Kidzmet personality profile

I had Johnny take his first ever personality quiz just now, called Kidzmet. Heh! I took it twice on his behalf (I did the text version and then the visual version and got slightly different results: Introverted Intuitive; Introverted Sensor) and then I had him do the visual one and he got something a little bit different.

All three came up "introverted" just like his parents.

Johnny's result was "introverted thinking."

I think all three types fit him to a degree. And really, what's a personality profile going to show in a 4-year-old? What he's like now isn't indicative of his learning styles on down the road.

I imagine over the coming months and year, learning styles will become more obvious. Right now, the results suggested he learns best by observing.

Also, I'm working my way through Cathy Duffy's 101 Top Pics for Homeschool Curriculum. I figure it would be better for me to work out my teaching style and my kids' learning styles, and determine what I'm seeking from a curriculum so I can make better decisions.

Right now, the "buy too much and figure it out later" approach isn't working :/. lol.

I seem to be a "Competent Carl," and I can see traits of that in Johnny as well.

At this point, I know that I will not, nor likely ever, find a curriculum that perfectly matches my goals with my kids' learning styles. I will have to tweak everything to some degree, no doubt. I know this.

More thoughts on that book to come.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Family Game Night - January 2013 Kiwi Crate contents

We received our second Kiwi Crate in the mail Friday, and I've opened it and looked at the contents and I can't wait to dig in with my kids.

I know it can be a lot of fun for the child to open it himself, but I'd rather have a bit more control of when we do the activities.

I hid the box and photographed it from my closet. Heh.

Since last month's crate was huge success and Vivie participated as well, I thought it would be worth adding the sibling option for an extra $8. Some months it might be well worth the add-on, but others I can see how they could share the contents easily.

For instance, last month's Arctic Adventure was a one-kid option, and there were absolutely enough materials to share.

Here's what's in the box:

My Board Game

  • Sturdy game board for decorating and sticking on game pieces (x2)
  • Card stock punch-out colorful squares for gluing onto game board (x2)
  • Card stock game pieces (x2)
  • Glue stick
  • Two wooden game tokens to decorate (x2)
  • One wood cube block for a colorful die (x2)
  • Pack of thin markers. Not marked washable, but then again we're going to color on things that we don't want to smudge with usage  so maybe that's fine for this activity (STAY CLOSE BY THOUGH, EEP!)
  • Beautiful instruction guide for making game board and also game instructions
Comet Toss game
  • Silky purple square (x2)
  • Green squishy ball (x2)
  • Bingo card (x2)
  • Ribbon (x2)
  • Tape squares for assembling the paper loops (! Tape! How about that?)
  • Sturdy papers to make circles to toss the comet in (x1 set)
  • Instructions
Also included: Two samples of their homemade valentine kits. Looks like we'll have enough materials to make 2 cute little Valentines.

We're going to do the comet toss game after lunch. I've taken the other materials out of the box, so when he opens it we can focus on that one activity.

I think this will be a fun time for us. Kiwi Crate would be a good gift idea to a mom who just had a baby, and who also has 3-7 year-olds. 

P.S. they also have online "explore more" extension activities, featuring book suggestions, online videos to view and more at-home games. 

Here's my affiliate link, good for $10 off your first box (with no commitment for future months but you would need to cancel) and it's also good for a $10 credit for me. Thanks!

Will report back on what the kids thought, and if the sibling add-on pack was worth it.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Free Thornton Burgess books for Kindle

I first became aware of books by Thornton Burgess by browsing the Heart of Dakota curriculum website. The paperbacks aren't expensive -- you can get a boxed set of I think 5-6 titles for under $10 on Rainbow Resource -- but today I found more than 25 titles by the author for free on Kindle.

I don't believe these editions have illustrations (and I'm not sure if all the paperback versions do, aside from the covers). There are some titles that DO have illustrations, but those aren't free. Of course.

Still, free is free and it's a nice way to preview some books or have a bunch of children's read-alouds on hand.

I haven't decided how I'll approach Kindle books with the kids. I think they should have paper books for the most part. But for illustrationless read-alouds...I think a Kindle version isn't such a bad alternative (especially a free one).

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A peek at our week

We're battling yet another head cold, so we've been mostly trying to rest/avoid total boredom from not being able to do a lot. It's a fine line.

Wanting to get back in the groove of things and back on the preschool track after a little hiatus, I tried to be more intentional with some of our activities this week.

On Monday, we opened up Johnny's new science kit (gift from the grandparents!). I previewed the contents and instructions by myself the night before, and I was disappointed at the "70 activities" the box advertised. Some of the activities are nothing at all. Many of them build upon the prior.

We used fizzy tablets to make the 3 primary colors in test tubes, mixed the colors, used pipettes to move water around, and added some sort of polymer crystals to the colored water. The crystals swelled up and turned into a jelly-like blob. Kinda fun!

Wednesday, Vivie threw a fit while at Hobby Lobby, so we had to leave before buying anything (big sad! Arg! but ya gotta do it). We came home and she took herself a little nap.

She doesn't nap much anymore, and I'm not sure what this will do to her bedtime, but Johnny and I took the opportunity to have some one-on-one time.

I practiced my fine motor skills (hee!) while cutting out some more felt figures from our new Betty Lukens Through the Bible in Felt package. This is gunna take me awhile.

Johnny did a few pages in his Kumon books -- a coloring page (just coloring in the white circles), a folding page (made a zebra), and several pages in his maze book. Two or three pages to go, and he'll complete the maze book.

It seemed like we should have stopped a few pages back, because he started getting discouraged when his crayon crossed the black line, or if he couldn't immediately see how to get through the maze.

Next activity: We opened up his new Mighty Mind game (gift from the grandparents for Christmas, yay!). It's a tangram activity and he did a good job trying to get the pieces where they should go in the little plastic tray thing. Again though, he got discouraged and said "it's too hard," and that's when I showed him the diagram, and we finished it together.

This "it's too hard" thing is new and I'm not sure where it came from. I'm going to try to keep my attitude positive. I'm definitely not pushing him too hard, so I'm wondering if he just didn't want to do it?

I think we'll put Mighty Mind away for a little while though, so next time will be fresh.

p.s. can someone comment? I don't know if commenting on these posts is easy or if you have to jump through hoops. I don't want it to be hard.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Teaching Spanish?

Do any of you have programs or some sort of method for teaching your child a second language? I'd like to teach my kids Spanish, since that's what I took in high school and college. I'm not fluent. I've had no real opportunity to practice. When I was in school, the focus was on translation, conjugations and more written language than spoken (ugh).

I think there's value in exposing young ears to second languages, so I'm interested in looking into DVD or computer programs.

I think I'd like Rosetta Stone when they're older (there's some reading involved, apparently, and it's more for the 6+ set).

I'm looking at The Learnables and Little Pim, but I'm definitely open to others. (Both are way cheaper on Homeschool Buyers Co-op).

Little Pim is available at my library (yay!), as is a Muzzy DVD.

Oh, and I just remembered about Speekee, which could be a good option at $7.50/month. A free one month trial can be had here.

Some Googling pointed me to a show produced by Georgia Public Broadcasting, called Salsa. There are 42 free episodes available for online streaming. (!!!) Each episode includes a pdf transcript, which has English and Spanish.

Other ideas?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Some takeaway points from The Organized Home Schooler

I picked up a copy of The Organized Home Schooler at Half Price Books the other day (what can I say, I got it for cheap!) and had a chance to flip through it.

I didn't particularly like the author's tone, and in general it wasn't my favorite book. I do think I'll hang onto it for review in a few years when I might need some help with house and heart reorganizing (this is a book written from a Christian perspective and has plenty of scripture references).

There were two points within that I thought were good takeaways. This is a paraphrase:

1. Make an accessible list of all curricula and resources you own. This is so you can make better use of what you've already got on hand. It should help from overbuying and from forgetting to use some great things you already own.

2. Decide what goals you have for each student, in each subject. What do you want to accomplish in a semester/year in each area? Figure that out on paper, THEN look at curricula to find a good fit. This approach is easier than starting with a curriculum and tweaking it endlessly, since you may not have chosen that item to begin with.

Straightforward, but spot-on.

I am tending to be a curricula collector. If I see something that looks interesting at HPB or a used sale for a decent price, I'll buy it. If I find a hyped-up item for a good price on Amazon, I'll buy it (maybe with cash, maybe with a gift card). What can I say? It's true.

Unfortunately, I already have way too much. There's no way I can possibly use all that I have with both children (and I do plan to resell some items). But what's worse, since some of my items are hiding in a closet, I may forget about them when my kids hit the right age for something. That would be such a bummer!

So...I'm going to take inventory here. I'm going to list all of my resources, by subject. The purpose is two-fold:

1. Help me to keep track of what I've got, so I can make good use of it.

2. Share with friends. If you see something you'd like to look over in person, you'll know I have it ready and available for borrowing/browsing or maybe buying from me. Or if you're far away, I can answer more detailed questions about something.

These lists will be static pages with navigation at the top of this blog page.

* affiliate link of course

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Such a fun day -- can we do it again sometime?

Yesterday, December 31, was such a fun day. It was just a regular day at home, and yet the kids were mostly cooperative and I was inspired. I want to record some more details of the day so I can look back and smile at how much fun this age is.

We started the morning with me in a grumpy mood due to little sleep (both of them ended up in my bed!). I realized that attitude was helping no one, and turned on my iPod to view the Bible verse of the day to get my heart on straight.

We made blueberry muffins (from a mix, whatever!) and Vivie had three time-outs in a row for not sharing/not listening. We're in that stage right now, but hey, she's 2 and she's learning. The muffins were delicious and messy.

I checked the weather and saw we were due for more snow in a few hours, and the temperature was a balmy 32. So, we bundled up and went in the backyard to try some sledding.

Unfortunately, with more than a foot of snow, it's hard to sled until you pack it way down, and we tried -- but it would have been easier if I still had an inner tube instead of a small seat-sled.

It was fun anyway, and the kids liked marching around, digging around in the snow and just being outside.

Normally, I am anti-snow and anti-winter. But sharing the wonders of the season with my kids makes it a lot more fun for all of us. Snow really is pretty neat, even if it makes roads a hazard.

After playing outside, we warmed up and had some lunch. We read some library books:

And Johnny's new book, the Bearenstain Bears' Big Book of Science and Nature. I preordered this and with a promo code got a good deal. This is a three-in-one book and I think I have the Nature Guide book from when I was a kid.

I am on the fence about how I feel about regular books in the Bearenstain Bears series, but this book doesn't follow that same story structure. It's meant as a science and nature guide!

I was amused that the first book in the volume (an almanac) started on New Year's Day. How about that timing?

We only read a few pages (it's a huge book. It's also in the Sonlight curriculum for I think the 4/5 age set?).

We made a craft thanks to our first Kiwi Crate. I saw a friend share a Black Friday deal and thought it looked fun. It was absolutely worth the $8ish it was with promo code. Next month it will be $19.95 and I plan to order one more before deciding whether to continue.

Will write more about Kiwi Crate to come. We did the oil pastel/watercolor postcard activity.

We did some free play with their new toys (Vivie can't get enough of her Playmobil123 farm!) and they were so wound up around dinnertime, I couldn't prepare the meal.

So, I went to the garage and retrieved their ride-on train and trike and let them do laps around the house while I prepared our New Year's Eve dinner of appetizers and snacks. Heh. It worked! I don't think I'll do that often but it was fun to let them get the wiggles out.

Overall, nothing particularly exciting happened that day, but it was a nice one and I also appreciated how Johnny treated Vivie all day. He is usually so great with her, but he really stepped it up a notch. We have been talking about what to do when Vivie isn't sharing or isn't being nice to him, and how if he treats her as he wants to be treated it goes so much better. Imagine that!

I love watching them get along and being friends. Doesn't get much better than that!

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