Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Homeschool Lessons - Week 2

Things are going much easier this week now that our stuff is organized and we have a designated place to play school. I say "play" school because I do not consider myself a trained teacher and what I'm doing teaching my one child preschool doesn't even compare in my mind to what the hundreds of awesome home school parents that teach multiple children birth through high school are doing. However, EVERYTHING I do matters to God according to His word. So every little thing I do should be done as unto the Lord.

Lessons I've learned this week:

  • If you're giving it your best effort, you will likely spend way more time preparing the lessons than your child will actually spend doing them.
  • There is literally TONS of good preschool material available...and you don't have time to do it all! Pick and choose what works best for your individual child and how they enjoy learning.
  • The goal of 3 year old preschool should be to teach kids to love to learn as much as it is to learn the ABC's and 123's. So make it fun!
Products that have helped us:
(I do not get paid to review any toys or materials, this is just my humble opinion offered to help anyone in the same life phase as me.)

  • In the 3rd picture above you can see my child using the Crayola® Dry-Erase Activity Center which is awesome because it saves you from having to laminate all the great activities you want to be able to re-use. You just slip in any letter size page and let them draw away with dry erase markers. It comes with 4 markers, an eraser, and several activity pages including alphabet tracing and handwriting practice lines. 
  • In the first two pictures we are using wooden color cubes purchased in the craft section at Hobby Lobby for less than $2. We used them for counting, graphing, sorting, color recognition, and building. So many uses and my son loves to learn by doing so these are so fun for his little hands to use. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Time to Get Organized!

It's been a crazy week around here this past week. First, our thoughts and prayers are with my father-in-law (AKA "Papaw Racecar") who started radiation treatments for cancer this week. We know this will not be easy for him but with his positive outlook and faith in God, we know he will make it through it okay.

While my oldest son is in his second week of 1st grade at public school, the little brother and I officially started home school Preschool this week. I was so excited to find some great Christian written curriculum at Confessions of a Homeschooler blog called Letter of the Week. It's great curriculum but I must confess we are off to a bit of a rocky start. The little boy would much rather sit in front of the TV or play video games than play school with mommy, yes, even at age 3. So I have already learned my first lesson - I have to get organized!

I'm using the file folder system I used over the summer with both kids.  I have folders labeled Monday - Friday and each contains their lessons for that day. I load them up before the week starts then there's no scrambling for lesson plans or worksheets each day. In case you're wondering, it's only about 1 hour of actual work time per day for my 3 year old. That's about as long as he can tolerate right now. We also do other "learning" activities as he helps with the housework, cooking, playing, like counting the towels we fold or measuring ingredients, etc.. 

So my problem came in that our school supplies were everywhere! We were trying to play school at the kitchen table and some of our art supplies were there, some were in the office, still others were in the kids rooms. I found every time I needed something to complete a lesson I was running to get it while my son was loosing interest and getting distracted by my searching for things. I needed a dedicated area for our school time and all the stuff that goes with it! Solution......(drum roll please) move it all to brothers room! I know, I know, its ironic that the preschoolers school is going to be in big brother's room but that's just the way it worked out for now. Big brother LOVES art, science, and building things (future engineer?) so he wanted all the supplies in his room. Also there was the small detail that we couldn't get the big bookshelf around the tight corner to fit in his room so it had to go to little brother's room. So for now.....
Toys in little brother's room.
 At first it bothered me that the toys were all on this tall shelves where about half of them are out of reach for him. Then I realized that he doesn't really play with them all that often and it is kinda fun that I can switch them out from time to time and he finds things he forgot he had and it's like Christmas for him. He likes that they are off the floor and organized in bins. So do I!

School Supplies in big brother's room.
These white cube shelves are actually 2 units that used to be one in each boys room full of toys. The tall shelf, previously used in another area, was brought in for toys and the 2 white cube shelves were stacked to hold all the books and school/art supplies. These were assemble yourself shelves from Target that we bought about 5 years ago and have held up extremely well. The white boxes on the top row are inexpensive photo storage boxes from Hobby Lobby.  I love them because they have the silver label holder on the front where I can label with a simple sheet of paper and not have a sticky label mess when I need to change the contents as they grow (this is totally going to be my craft storage when my kids outgrow it!). The key lesson in organization here is this: USE VERTICAL SPACE! The boys room are not huge and their beds take up a chunk of the floor space so it's critical to take advantage of their 10 ft ceilings and store things taller.
Notice how after we got everything all in it's place it was older brother who wanted to build a project with the craft supplies and he wanted to use the floor instead of the table I put in his room for this purpose. Go figure. I'm not giving up on little brother though. I'm praying that this week the new space will inspire him to want to learn as we "play school". 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

At Home Spa Treatment

I’ve been busy doing some of the inspiring projects I’ve seen on and I’ll post some of my favorites that I’ve actually tried. After all, what good is inspiration without motivation?  Today it’s an easy do-it-yourself spa treatment…Lemon Sugar Scrub.  This isn’t something new in beauty treatments. The ancient Egyptians used olive oil and other botanicals as beauty treatments thousands of years ago. So, in a way, I guess this is truly a vintage beauty treatment. It is tried and true. All the more reason to mix up a batch of sugar scrub and treat your tired feet and hands to moisture rich luxury that months of hand sanitizing and flip flops have deprived them of.

Lemon Sugar Scrub
1 cup EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
2 ½ cups sugar
4 Tablespoons of Lemon Juice (or essential oil of choice) I used juice of 1 lemon plus a little lemon zest.

Mix thoroughly and store in jars with air tight lids. This will make about a pint. The sugar will settle over time, just stir to reconstitute.  Rub on hands and feet and rinse with warm water. Ahhhh, soft as a baby’s…..

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Bible Presentation

Our Pastor, Dr. Bridges, presents all of our 1st graders with a new Bible with their name on it.

"But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing those from who you learned, and that from childhood you have known the sacred Scriptures, which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work."  2 Timothy 3:14-17

Thursday, August 11, 2011


Little brother was feeling kinda sad that big brother went back to school today so we had a special day of games, Happy Meal, and cupcakes. What a great day!
I love the look of pure joy on his face while eating this delicious chocolate molten cupcake with marshmallow cream topping.
I have the same look on my face when I eat chocolate too!

He's playing these great little games that I made up inspired by something I saw on my new favorite website It's like a virtual scrapbook or pegboard of all the things that inspire you. I like to browse this site for ideas for kids crafts, educational games, home decor, recipes, etc. These are just pencil bags with the see through front and zipper top that I got for 75 cents at Walmart then I put shape puzzles, counting games, letters etc. in them. There are thousands of free printable preschool games online! They are super portable for carrying in the car for example while waiting for brother in carpool line and he likes that they are like games instead of worksheets. ;) {shh, don't tell him he's learning something!}

1st Day of School

First day of First Grade! My goodness how he's grown!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Back to School Bash

The Back to School Bash was great fun....
   getting kids back in the routine for school next week -  not so much fun.

2nd Lost tooth

Again, gently pulled by Mom against some protest (afraid of bleeding).
Excited it doesn't hurt to eat anymore!