School in a Day

I promised I'd post about how we fit our school plans into our day.
This is my attempt to do that.
But don't forget that this is coming from an amateur.
I'm no where near having it all together.
In fact, there is generally one point in my everyday where I feel overwhelmed.
Then again, thats just motherhood for you!
What matters is that at the end of the day I still love being a mom, having the opportunity to be home with my kids and to teach them.
I wouldn't change any of it.
I am content.

Enough rambling.
Here goes.

My biggest help is this handy dandy binder.
It contains the master plan.
Plus a million other things.


I have a schedule for each day of things that I want to get accomplished.
A wannabe lesson plan, if you will.
Complete with book page numbers and activity descriptions.
At least until Christmas.
(Note to self: Get Christams planning done!!)


I keep a circle time plan in my binder.
75% of our learning happens here so its kinda important.
And my head is a little foggy at 9am.
(Yes, I'm one of those.)
A little guidance helps immensely!



A lot of lists can be found in my binder, too.
Like craft and activity ideas for upcoming themes.
Books I need to reserve at the library.
Songs we'll want to learn.
Its ALL there!


Finally, our calendar board is a huge source of organizing our learning.
We use it each morning during circle time.
The girls love being the ones to add the date or the weather.
The printables for our board were found at the following sites:
Calendar and Seasons: Montessori For Everyone
Weather and Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow?: Confessions of a Homeschooler
Color of the Day: 1+1+1=1
Memory Verse: Totally Tots
( We have some extra space left in the top left hand corner. I'm thinking we'll put a hundreds chart there to count to our 100th day of school (from 1+1+1=1). )


In terms of how we fit our school time into our day, its pretty simple.
We spend 30 -45 minutes in the morning (usually) doing our circle time.
This includes our calendar board activities, Bible lesson and All About Reading lesson.
Everything else (ie. nature studies, cooking lessons, math, french, and themed workbox activites) gets fit in where I can find a good place for it.
I try my best to do it on the day on which I had originally planned it in our schedule.
But it doesn't always work that way.
And it is rare that we accomplish everything I set out for us to do in the week.
As long as a good chunk of it gets done, I'm happy!

Also helpful has been my husband's suggestion to make Friday a free day!
Nothing is planned for that day.
Instead it is reserved for catching up on schoolwork or housework or simply to get out and do something fun!
(Sometimes I do all 3!)
But its been wonderful in giving me some space to get things completed!

I'm enjoying this new level of organization for us this year.
It keeps me in order and not feeling like I'm pulling things together at the last minute.
Running around like a chicken with my head cut off is never fun!
As well, I love that homeschooling is something that you incorporate into your life.
The idea that you sit you kids at a desk for 8 hours a day in the basement is a false one.
We're living together, learning together and growing together.
And its beautiful.
(And frustrating and rewarding and time consuming and a blessing...)

In the end, I have no advice for how to 'do it all'.
Except to say that you simply don't.
Nor can you.
Its all a process of learning how to balance and manage it all and deciding what's most important.
A domestic triage, perhaps?
















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Links Worth Sharing

Thought I'd share a couple of great links with you before the new week really takes off!


Need some ideas for practicing pre-writing skills with your preschooler? Teach Preschool has some great ideas demonstrated in a video segment! Check it out!


Ever thought about the effect your stress has on your kids? Children and Secondhand Stress is worth considering...

Finally, a must read: Motherhood Is Application - "The gospel is not just something to talk about Sunday morning while you are in clean clothes and the kids are looking orderly. It is not limited to quiet times and reflective moods. It is something to apply while you are in a difficult position in the back of the car trying to buckle a child up who is playing the kazoo and needs their nose wiped. "

Enjoy and have a lovely week!

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Roller Coaster of a Week

This week I felt like I was really dragging my feet.
Too many busy weekends in a row meant that I hadn't been able to catch up on sleep.
And I was feeling it!
Somehow we were able to keep up with school though.
And despite not accomplishing everything planned, it ended up being educationally packed anyways.

Our fav project of the week?
Our own little Garden of Eden.
Complete with Adam and Eve peg people!


Piper made us all a mean lunch of strawberry banana sandwiches on cinnamon raisin bread.
I think she's found her calling!


And we're moving right along with our alphabet!
Full speed ahead!


There may have been some trouble on the home front though...
Notice the chore list in the corner?
Yep.
One check mark.
I cleaned the bathroom.
And don't let that menu fool you.
It was followed two fifths of the time.
But our saying as of late is "Chill out, dude."
And I'm trying.
Really trying.
Life's a gift.
Just slow.



This little purchase brought some cheer to my poor, neglected home.
The smell of autumn in a candle.
For less than $5.
Which makes it smell even better!



And I was a tad too excited about this purchase.
I'm just a little overly pumped about our dinosaur theme planned for January!



Then I had a good laugh when I went to meet my obstetrician for the first time.
After sharing that I had breastfed both of my girls successfully and with no complications they proceeded to ask several times if I'd like to attend the breastfeeding clinic!
Um, pass.
I'm pretty sure practicing on a teddy bear is unnecessary at this point!



The week ended beautifully with my hubby taking me out for supper
(whoohoo for a 'no cooking' night!)
And my in-laws kept the girls for the night.
*Inject happy sigh*
I even went a little crazy and bought a whole bucket of candy to eat while we watched all the season premieres we missed during the week!
I didn't even mind that I looked like a stereotypical preggo walking out of the store with only a bucket of candy in hand!
But it did make me miss Germany.
And Haribo.
And orange Fanta.
Mmmmm...


As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end.
Tonight I find myself ever so grateful for intense cleaning tools.
Like Lysol wipes.
I'm all for natural cleaning products until my kid pukes all over her room.
Me and Lysol are besties at the moment.
But I might not be eating crunchy peanut butter for a good long time....



And so, we finish the week off with a family movie night, a bucket on the floor, a little sister keeping an eye out for her most favorite companion and hopes that maybe we'll make it through the night with no other incidents!


What a roller coaster!
I'm just so glad that there is so much happy to balance out the exhausting, disgusting and disappointing!
Isn't that just the life of a mother?
I think my best advice is to always look for the good.
Believe it or not, its there.
And when you find it and dwell on it, it overrides everything else!










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Preschool Line-Up: Math, French and Phys. Ed.

Well, this is my last 'Preschool Line-Up' post!
That's right - we've come to the end of all of this years endevours!
I will take some time in days to come to explain how we fit these things into our week because from here it can look crazy and overwhelming!
I'm not even close to figuring it all out but I am learning a lot!
(And you thought it was just the kids who were learning!)

Let's start with Math!
Our main mode of study for math comes from this little book: MathArts.

Its full of crafty ideas that focus on building early math skills!
Genius, in my opinion!
Kids create masterpieces and learn math in the process!
For example, last week Piper made a bottle cap treasure board!



Not only did it provide a pretty spot to display our nature study findings, it also taught one-to-one correspondance!
The lovely thing about this book is that the materials needed are quite simple and the projects are fun and very kid-oriented!

Piper also has a math workbook for practicing writing numbers.
So far, its had little use.
When there is some spare time and she's up to it, I pull it out.
But at this point I'm not a big fan of offering workbooks and concentrating on copywork.
Right now strengthening those little hand muscles through various fine motor skill activites and strengthening the brain with counting, sequencing and matching activities are more important!
(That said, if your kid is really intent on workbook type work, follow their interest! I simply have not found it very successful for Piper at this time!)


We also pulled our Mighty Minds set out again.
I had ordered it last year for Piper as it was part of the Sonlight P3/4 curriculum.
It proved to be too advanced for Pipe, so I packed it away for awhile.
This year is a whole new story!
Not only is she capable of completeing the tasks but she enjoys doing it!


I just love watching her little mind figure the designs out and how excited she gets when she completes a card!


This year I have begun to purposefully introduce French into our learning.
Last year we simply worked on counting to ten in french and Piper caught on extremely fast.
Not only that but I have also marveled at their correct usage of Spanish words they've learned from Dora in everyday life.
I figured I'd be crazy to not start introducing some french vocabulary on a regular basis!
We're starting with colors and will add other common words as the year goes on.
Piper works on a page of her Basic French workbook each week.
Its quite helpful and well suited for her age group in that there is not much copywork but mainly coloring activites and such that require knowledge of the french word in order to be completed.

My First French Book is being used in our circle time to introduce and dialogue about the words we are learning.


Finally, we can't forget about Phys. Ed.
What kid doesn't like that class??
They are generally just aching to move and stretch those muscles!
Eventually (ie. when I'm not pregnant!) I intend to incorporate a kid friendly exercise video into our daily routine.
For now, we're content to take a daily walk or trip to the park.
I also make a point of involving the girls in classes outside our home.
There are some things that I just can't teach them.
Like dance.
Its just not happening no matter how ambitious I am!
So through the school year Piper goes to a weekly class that she is crazy about and has a load of fun at!


As well, both girls attend a swimming class each week.
Not only do they adore the water but its a skill that we feel is very important for them to learn!


That wraps up all of this year's homeschooling plans!
Don't be too sad -
I'll be posting regularly about many of our educational adventures!
We're already off to a great start and looking forward to all this year holds!








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Preschool Line-Up: Bible Beginnings


We teach our kids about God and the Bible.
Surprised?
I didn't think so!
If you know us, you know that learning about God and His Word is a part of our everyday.
Our faith is the most important aspect of raising and teaching our kids.
So it only makes sense that I would incorporate a concentrated Bible time into our day.
Piper is at the point of being able to learn and remember various Bible stories and this is the first year that she has been able to learn and retain a memory verse with ease!
Our Bible time routine has changed from last year though -
we now read one story from The Beginner's Bible each day of the week.
The repetition of the same story all week has been very effective with the girls.
They remember much better what the story was about.
Then, I use the Beginning With God activity book to help introduce the story and the activites suggested in it to reinforce what we are learning.


There is a 'Make It and Munch It' section of the book that supplies a craft idea to accompany the story.
The ideas are very simple but quite effective at driving the point home.
The girls completed this craft after learning about how Adam took care of all the animals in the garden but couldn't find a friend who was suitable for him.
The girls stuck animal stickers all around stick figure Adam:


Then God made Eve to be the perfect mate for him. Thus the foam hearts pasted all around stick figure Adam and Eve! :)


Very simple but they LOVED it!

Memorizing Bible verses and the Catechism for Young Children has been incorporated into our circle time routine.
Last year we used Songs for Saplings to help us learn memory verses.
It was fun and the kids still love listening to it!
This year though, we are using Seeds Family Worship: Seeds of Courage CD and is it ever great!
I even love the music and the girls and I have a great time dancing around and belting the verses out at the top of our lungs!


Check it out for yourself to see what I mean!



Additionally there are numerous printables that you can find to go along with each verse at In My Heart @ Totally Tots.
It is so neat to see Piper be able to memorize these verses and get so excited about reciting them!
Often it is one of the first things we do in circle time because she just can't wait to say her verse!

During circle time we also learn songs that are commonly sung at our church.
I think it is important that the kids recognize the songs when they are sung in church and they be able to sing along as much as possible.
So, every morning we sing the Doxology.
(For the first little while Piper would ask to sing 'the ducks'! lol)
As well, we are in the process of learning Oh Protector of my Soul.
I wasn't totally sure how well it would go trying to teach the kids songs that weren't kid oriented.
But the more I read, the more I realized that they were more than capable of not just learning these songs but enjoying them!
This has proven true!
They are very excited every day to sing our songs!
Of course, there is generally a request for 'Jesus Loves Me' and thats OK too!
I am thoroughly enjoying singing together with my girls about the God I love!

Finally, I would like to highly recommend The Jesus Storybook Bible.
It is by far the best children's story Bible I have ever read.
I even learned new things from it!
The author, Sally Lloyd-Jones, does a beautiful job of showing how every story "whispers His name".
There are numerous videos of various stories on the Jesus Storybook Bible Facebook page to give you an idea of what it is like.
Well worth checking out!





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TWO!

When we woke up this morning, my baby wasn't one anymore...


I might have been sad if she didn't endlessly give me so many reasons to smile!

Like this expression when Mama brought out a Toaster Strudel with a 2 candle in it!
Accompanied by her 2 favorite breakfasts foods - a smoothie and eggs - we were off to a good start!



She was then delighted by her sister's gift (it pays to have a big sis who is a mean Dollarama shopper!)


And spent some time making dolly talk at the Melissa and Doug Doorbell House.


But soon it was time for some b-day adventures!
And what does this girl love to do?
Well, dance for one!
And wouldn't you know - the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival was happening right around the corner!


She even got to show off her mad skills on the violin! ;)


After nap, we took the 'plunge' and did her other favorite thing - swim!
...and indulge birthday girl's obsession with the water slide...



To end the day, we went to the last place I was before my water broke and baby Taitum arrived - Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory!
(As legend would have it, it was one of their delicious apples that brought on labor. I'll be buying my fair share again in January! ha!)
Tait was not disappointed with this sweet treat!
Definitely worth entering the world for!



Happy 2nd Birthday, Taitum Jubilee!!
You're as precious as can be!
I love you so very much!






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Preschool Line-Up: Workbox Wonders


With all the various studies I had planned for Piper this year, I wasn't sure we would have the time or I would have the energy for any themed work.
BUT the girls and I love the theme stuff so much.
I really didn't want to give it up!
That's when I decided the best plan of action was to use a workbox system for all of our theme activities!

Here's how it goes:
I fill several different boxes with materials for an activity related to the theme and store them in the cube storage unit in our living room.
Then the kids are free throughout the day to take out a box and work on its contents.
Anything that is too difficult for them to do themselves or that requires supervision is tackled when I have some free time to sit and play.


So far, this is working out well for us.
I do have to remind them that the workboxes are available since I think they feel they are off limits if it is not school time.
Also, they do far better with many of the activities if its directed by me.
That's to be expected for a 4 and 2 year old and perfectly ok!
It just means that I have had to be careful to make a point to sit down and work on this stuff with them.

With Piper, this often happens to be after her quiet time when Taitum is still sleeping.
It keeps her quiet a little longer and provides some nice quality time for the 2 of us.



Taitum is a different story.
Any time I see her showing interest in one of the workboxes, I make a point of stopping what I'm doing to spend some time with just her. It generally doesn't last long. She is all toddler now and BUSY!


So the rest of the time I include activites I know she will benefit from and enjoy into our circle time.
Both girls play together and Tait learns a ton from her big sis!


Would you like to see exactly what is in our workboxes?
Here is what we've been up to the last 2 weeks.
The theme was Birthdays!

Gift wrapping: wrapping paper, bows, tape, ribbon and scissors.

Card making: Blank cards, stamps and ink pad

This activity included a printable from Musings of Me birthday unit.
The flat stones are placed in each of the circles on the picture.
This was a favorite of the girls!

Pre-writing practice pages from Musings of Me Birthday Unit.

Lacing cards from Musings of Me Birthday Unit.

Cupcake colors colouring book from 2 Teaching Mommies.

Find the cake game from Homeschool Creations.
Piper loved this game.
You hide the cake under a number and they have to guess which number until they find it.

This one was my own little creation!
Cupcakes made from styrofoam balls, tissue paper and muffin cups.
Each cupcake had a different numbered candle and the kids had to put the correct number of candles (toothpicks) in it.
( If you make them, I recommend cutting the styrofoam balls in half. They wouldn't stand up for us and it was a little irritating!)
We made party hats using an idea from Spell Outloud.
Of course, ours had to be more princess-y...
Piper would roll the dice and had to put the same shaped jewel on her crown as what she rolled.
This was definitely another favorite!

Not pictured is the game you saw Taitum playing in a previous photo.
We had several different colored balloons that I would lay on the floor.
(They were kept in a laundry basket away from little hands since Mama still gets a little nervous about balloons hanging around!)
Then I'd sing this song to the tune of "5 Little Monkeys Swinging in a Tree":

5 Little balloons sitting on the floor.
Being nice and quiet 'cause they can't do more!
Along comes Taitum as quiet as can be AND...
Finds the RED balloon!
Its as easy as can be!

I kind of came up with it spur of the moment but it ended up being a huge hit and was good practice for Tait who is learning her colors!

This is our salt box that Piper used to trace the letters we were learning each week.
Although not theme related, I decided I'd include a different letter workbox each couple of weeks since it is suggested in the All About Reading program.
There are so many wonderful pre-writing activities out there and I figured this was the best way to fit them into our day!

That's it!
And although initially getting all the activities together required a bit of work, its been well worth it in that it provides weeks worth of fun and I don't have to be preparing stuff each night!
As time goes on I'm sure I'll be tweaking the whole system a bit but so far I'd say its been a great success in our little homeschooling world!
















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Preschool Line Up: Nature Exploration and a Cooking Curiousity

One thing I am very adamant about including in our homeschool curriculum is a nature study.
The more I read, the more I am convinced that this aspect of a child's education is extremely important.
There is so much to be explored and discovered in the great outdoors!
The problem is, despite enjoying the outdoors, I know very little about nature.
How exactly am I supposed to teach my kids about it??
So I went on a search for a book that would guide me in the process but that provided ideas simple enough for a 4 year old.
That's when I happened upon The Kids' Nature Book.


It gives you a nature activity for each day of the year!
Although we don't do nature study each day of the week, it provides loads of ideas for what to do!
I discovered too that I am really not that helpless when it comes to nature related knowledge!
This book ended up reminding me of things I already knew but had forgotten.
Also, it keeps me on track according to seasons - when certain things are happening in nature or the best time to try certain activities.
Yay for organization!
And so our walks have taken on a whole new aspect.
We are opening our eyes to the world around us.
Becoming curious investigators.
Discovering fantastic and interesting aspects of this beautiful creation!
Ok, maybe not we.
Just me.
My girls are already good at this!
And we chat and inquire and collect and enjoy all that God has made!
Its becoming one of the most peaceful parts of our day.


After spending a morning collecting wildflowers, Piper, Taitum and I made suncatchers with our findings!
Talk about brightening up a window! :)


Now we are in the process of 'hunting' squirrels and watching them gather nuts.
Here, Piper is watching one that was in a tree we were walking by with an acorn in his mouth!


Then she gathered some acorns of her own - she tells me its for her "lection"...


"Let them once get in touch with Nature, and a habit is formed which will be a source of delight through life.
We were all meant to be naturalists and it is inexcusable to live in a world so full of the marvels of plant and animal life and to care for none of these things."
-Charlotte Mason

--------------------------------------------------------------
At home, in the kitchen, we're involved in some more tasty pursuits!
Once a week, Piper becomes head chef and follows a recipe all her own!
She is over the moon!
This book, The Do It Myself Kids' Cookbook, created the most excitement from her when her homeschool books arrived in the mail.


It not only has fun and unique recipes but also provides picture instructions!
Perfect for a child who is not reading yet!
As well, the recipes do not require anything sharp or hot to accomplish!
Yeehaw!


This week was Piper's first stab at one of the recipes: Honey, Berries and Almond Butter on Graham Crackers.
I set out the ingredients and went through the instructions with her.

And off she went!
Measuring, spreading...


Drizzling honey...


And voila!
A culinary masterpiece!


It was oh-so-good!
And Piper was oh-so-proud!


I realize that the recipes are rather simple.
This one probably more so than many of the others.
But I am excited about the skills she is going to learn.
Spreading, chopping, measuring, following directions...
The list goes on!
Eventually she'll move on to greater challenges.
(Like making supper for us? Please?)
But for now I think this is a great start!
And most of all her enthusiasm about getting to 'cook' all by herself is adorable!

Do you have any helpful links related to nature studies or kid friendly recipes?
Please share!
I am forever looking for fun ideas!






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I love motherhood.

We're a smiling family.

I'm a covenant keeper.

I love my husband.

I am above self pity.

I am a nation builder.

Motherhood=Adventure

Worth more than rubies.


“I am more convinced than ever that even in the midst of the mundane, burdensome, and oftentimes frustrating tasks of life allotted to me as a mother, God wants me to find his joy. He wants every single day of my life to be a celebration of his blessings, whether large or small. He wants me to celebrate life ~ the life He has given me.”

~ Sally Clarkson







My Hubby

My Hubby
He's my bestest.

Piper

Piper
She is my compassionate, dramatic, fun to be around 6 year old. She loves to shop, get dressed up fancy and anything else that screams girly!

Taitum

Taitum
She is my goofy, snuggly 4 year old who loves to sing and dance and smile all day long!

Renly

Renly
She is our one year old smarty pants! She does all she can to keep up with her older sisters and to keep them in line!

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