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Sunday, September 26, 2010

LENS challenge: Love

This week over at Home Is Where You Start From  the  LE.N.S. (LEarning Never Stops) photo challenge theme is Love.

Here is my photo... it needs no words!

Stop by Home Is Where You Start From to see all the other LOVE-ly pictures that are being linked up!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Tot School Week 1: Introducing the Alphabet

Tot School

Eden enjoyed her first week of tot school last week. I have decided to [partially] use the Letter of the Week curriculum I purchased from Confessions of a Homeschooler.  The curriculum focuses on on a letter of the alphabet each week and centres the whole week around a theme.  In order to kick that off I decided to have a alphabet introduction week and used the Chicka Chicka Boom Boom book by Bill Martin as the theme of the week.

I made a coconut tree (printable here)  to put above Eden's workspace.  Each week when we finish a letter we will add it to our tree.

We also made a Chick Chicka Boom Boom lapbook that I found here and here.   It was a fun lapbook to put together with Eden... she had seen her brothers make lapbooks so she thinks it is great to have her own!

Some other activities we did over the week relating to the theme were:

Alphabet Bingo -I called out a letter and she used a dot art marker to stamp it on her "bingo sheet".  She recognized most of the letters and by the end of the week missed only a couple.

She worked on this ABC floor puzzle by Melissa and Doug. The first time I did it with her and the second time she did it almost on her own.

She spent lots of time in our ABC sensory box that I highlighted in my last post.

We watched this rendition of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom on Youtube which has continued to be a hit even into this week!

We made a hand print coconut tree- I painted Eden's hands green and she stamped them on a sheet of white paper.  Once it was dry we cut them out and glued them on to coloured paper and added a trunk (brown card board) and brown textured foam coconuts.

 We also had fun with homemade play dough and had a life skills lesson when I set up a washing area for Eden to wash all the playdough toys/ utensils.. she did a great job cleaning up and had fun playing in the water.

Some of the books we read were:

Curious George Learns the Alphabet by H. A Rey
Dr. Seuss ABC's
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin

It was a great week! Of course in addition to the activities above much time was spent playing and interacting with her brothers. I really enjoyed the focused time I had with Eden each morning and I look forward to watching her grow and develop over the course of this year.

See who else is participating in Tot School over at 1+1+1=1

For Tot books and Tot packs like the one we made check this out:
Tot Books & Packs

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Sensory Boxes

For a while now I have wanted to incorporate sensory boxes into our learning experience. I procrastinated the whole of last year so during the summer I made up my mind that we would have one sensory box per month for this school year.

You may be wondering what a sensory box is and how we use it. Simply, a sensory box is a box filled with different tactile materials for your child to explore. Some schools will have a sensory table but as we don't have room for a sensory table, a box is a good replacement. The one I have presently set up is a clear plastic container with a tight fitting lid. The possibilities of what you can put in the box are endless. They are great for kids who love to use their hands. Playing in them is very engaging and can also be relaxing.

Our first sensory box was built around the ABC theme as that was the theme I used for Eden's first week of Tot school. I filled the box with dry ABC pasta and wagon wheel pasta and then I added letters made of foam, wood and plastic. I also found little objects for each letter of the alphabet and "hid" them in the pasta for the kids to find. The loved rummaging through and finding all of the little items especially since some of them were their toys I had kidnapped with out their knowledge a few weeks ago. It was funny to hear Micaiah say. "I have been looking for that!"

Most of the time the sensory box has been available to them for free play and they know all of the items and the filler (pasta) must remain in the box or the privilege of playing with it will be taken away (I am really not all that interested in cleaning pasta up off the floor every day!!) In addition to the free play, I also photographed some of the items in the box and created a an I spy sheet for them.(An idea I got from my friend MariAnn) They had fun with that.

I had intended for the box to be mainly for Eden and thought Eli might be interested in it as well but it was actually a hit for all 3 kids! It has kept them entertained for hours already and there is no indication that they are tired of it yet.

I now am trying to decide what theme to use for October.
For more sensory box ideas check out MariAnn's wonderful blog Counting Coconuts.

Monday, September 13, 2010

So What Do we do all Day? {Part One} Our Curriculum

One of the first questions I get when someone finds out that I homeschool my kids is "What curriculum do you use?"

Last year when I started looking for curriculum I spent tons of time looking for the perfect packaged program.   Part way through the year, as my confidence grew, I realized that I would never  find exactly what I wanted in one box.  I had been given a copy of the Well Trained Mind - A guide to classical education at home.  Once I read that I began to formulate a plan for each of my kids.  I didn't follow the book's recommendations completely, but it was a great starting point for me.  Beyond that, I read various homeschool blogs, especially those who regularly review products, giving the good the bad and the ugly on various curricula, programs, on line activities etc.    I prayed (and continue to pray ) regularly for God to give me wisdom as I made the curriculum choices I felt would best meet the needs of each child.  After much time and consideration this is our line up for 2010-2011 school year.

Eli- Primary 1/ Kindergarten (I still can't believe he is that age already)

Reading/ Phonics
The Ordinary Parents Guide to teaching Reading - he is already well on his way to  reading!!
Modern Curriculm Press Phonics Level A
Various readers I have collected

Horizons- K   
I love Horizons Math- we used grade 1 last year for Micaiah

A Reason For Handwriting-K

I supplement these with hands on activities and other things I find on the internet.

Micaiah Primary 3- 2nd Grade

First Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind (Level 1 & 2) (We started this at the end of last school year so we are continuing where we left off)

Various chapter books- a mixture of  fiction and non fiction.

All About Spelling Level One and Two (we are breezing through level one as a review- I will be using it for Eli in January)

A Reason For Handwriting- level B- love that it uses Scripture verses to practice penmanship!

Teaching Text Books (CD Rom) 
An awesome program that teaches math concepts by walking the student through a guided lecture and then providing practice and test problems. It also grades the student so once Micaiah has finished a lesson I can see what he has mastered and what he still needs to work on.
Horizons- 2nd Grade

History (primarily for Micaiah but Eli will join in)
The Story of the World Book One
The Mystery of History vol 1
(we are combining 2 programs here so it will take us longer than a year to get through)

A Reason For Science Level 1
We had our first lesson on the weekend.  I am already loving this curriculum.  The workbook is beautifully laid out (as is the teachers guide) and the materials kit came with EVERYTHING we need for all of the experiments (seriously, EVERYTHING... paper cups, spoons, twigs, a dog biscuit...).  I also love that it ties science to the Bible.  We have decided to do science as a family on Saturdays so Daddy can join in.  Yay!! we are excited about that!

So there you have it!  I will update on how things are going with each component as we go through the year.

In Part 2 of "So What Do we do all Day" I'll focus on Tot School for Eden.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

First week of school!

As I was gearing up for the first week of school I couldn't imagine how I would care for a newborn as well as meet the needs of a 3 year old, 5 year old and 6 year old.  I knew that others before me have done it and many are in the same shoes right now so I trusted God that he would help me accomplish it all! I didn't know how it would look in reality but I put together a schedule based on best case scenario and figured I would tweak as necesssary as we go along.  The key word in all of this is F L E X I B I L I T Y!

I am happy to report that the first week went by with flying colours!  Sure there were moments that I became overwhelmed but all in all we had a great week.  It was a four day week because of Labour Day so that made it a little easier.  Marcus napped each morning for about 4 hours which is all we really needed get school work done.  There were some things I worked on with Micaiah in the afternoon but Marcus was content to sit in my lap or in his bouncer.

We made some changes to our work box system which will make life easier for me and help the kids stay focused.  We actually redesigned the classroom so that each child has their workboxes next to their workspace. (previously all the workboxes were lined up against one wall. 

This way also allows space for Eden to have her own workspace for tot school.

I also abandoned the use of schedule strips and cards for Micaiah and instead I print off his Google calendar each day and put it up on the wall above his workspace.  I will continue to use schedule strips for Eli and Eden but a much more condensed strip than we were doing last year.  Eden feels like she is apart of school now that she has her own numbered workboxes!

I mentioned on the day before school started that we should give our school a name and after a couple far out names, Micaiah came up with "Best of all Academy."  When I asked him why he chose that name he said because our school is the best school of all!!  How's that for a boost of confidence!  As I thought about it it is a fitting name for a number of reasons:

  • We decided to homeschool so that we could teach our kids how to live the best life God has planned for them.
  • We should all work hard to be the best we can be.
  • And as Micaiah stated it is the best school of all- sure we are a little biased!

It was a go.. that would be the name!  Once we had decided that the Lord placed Colossians 3:23 in my heart:

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men. 

A little poem I learned when I was in primary school also came to mind:

Good,  better,  best
Let us never rest
Until or good is better
And our better is best.

We have now incorporated reciting these two things into our morning routine.  (more about our morning routine in a later post).

So what are we doing all day at the Best of all Academy?  Stay tuned for more about our curriculum choices for the boys, Tot School for Eden and our Morning Board.

Until then, take care and be the best you can be!