Monday, October 26, 2009

Down On the Farm

We took a trip out to a local farm this past weekend with my parents, and my brother and his family. The kids had lots of fun hanging out with their cousins, picking fresh, organic vegetables and pumpkins, and riding in a tractor-pulled wagon. They pretty much hated the petting zoo though. They were both crying and terrified of the giant goats begging for food. :(

Seriously, picking fresh veggies straight from the ground was just about as fun as trick or treating for these two.

And then, they both passed out on the way home. :)

A good time had by all!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Weekly Workboxes

Yeah, my weekly post about workboxes isn't going to happen this week. I had a totally unmotivated week in terms of homeschooling (though my Christmas gift making has been way inspired!). Out of our normally 4 days of school we only schooled twice this week, and both days I forgot to get photos of our boxes!

Friday, October 23, 2009

CostCo and Pizza

We go to CostCo every 2 weeks for all our grocery shopping needs. This past weekend, the fresh ready to cook pizzas were on sale for $6.99, so we decided to give one a try. We brought it home, and while my wonderful dh put the groceries away, the kids and I opened a can of olives and decorated our pizza while the oven warmed up.

Check out Miss O (and yes, that's me with her. I actually kind of like that picture of myself! Shocker!). I was slicing the olives and invited her to decorate the pizza while I sliced. She made this circle of olives of her own accord. I found it so interesting because it is so like her to decorate it in an organized manner. Any time she is presented with something that is unorganized (like that pile of olives), she is drawn to organizing it. She is way into sorting and compartments, etc. Hopefully this means she will be a neat person!?

Now look at Bean. Of course he came in and saw that Miss O was getting to help "cook" and wanted in on the deal. Look at her masterpiece after Bean got hold of it--no organization there.
Luckily for us, pizza tastes great no matter how the olives are organized! :)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Pigs

Remember I said we wanted to adopt a couple guinea pigs??? Well, they are finally here! Things didn't work out to get Amelia and Chloe (the two pigs we applied for); instead, we got these two sweet little bundles, and we are all so in love with them (me more than anyone else though!).

Guinea pigs aren't "just" rodents--You wouldn't think it, but they are actually very sweet and have little personalities all their own. Our two piggies, who are about 3 or 4 months old are as sweet as can be. Both will sit still on your lap and just relax while you pet them, making little squeaks and noises to show you that they are happy. They also love to run around their cage chasing each other, zipping behind their hidey houses and "popcorning" (ie. jumping) up and down in excitement. They steal each other's food too. It's not uncommon to see them playing tug of war with their dinner vegetables!

This one is yet to be named. We keep calling her "the brown one", so hopefully we can come up with a name soon! I just had to share this picture because her eye is just so buggy in this picture, which is totally her personality. She is so skittish! When you come near the cage or make any sudden noise she runs off to hide. Once you can get hold of her though, she is a real sweetie. She is munching on an orange pepper here; can't you just see her saying, "Stay away from my pepper!"??
Here is a better shot of her where she doesn't look so nervous!
And this is Pepper. Miss O named her that because she said that her ears look like little pepperonis! ;) I can see what she is saying--they are kind of thin and floppy like a pepperoni! Pepper is the sweetest pig ever! She doesn't run away when you come to pick her up, she will just let you lift her. She is very trusting, and overall, just a lot more serene than her "sister". She is significantly smaller than "the brown one", and it's funny because she seems to look up to her and copy what she does. Sometimes you will see "the brown one" start grooming and next thing you know Pepper is grooming too. Or when we take then out to exercise in the hall (they love that!), Pepper follows "the brown one" around and copies everything she does. So sweet!

So those are the two newest additions to our family. Aren't they cute!!??

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

How I Plan

Hopefully this will be of some interest to the homeschoolers out there. I want to talk about how I plan for our homeschool days.

Firstly, and most importantly, as you know, I use the Workbox System by Sue Patrick. If you don't know what it is, Google it. Go. Now. There's no time to waste! Just kidding, but really, the Workbox System is a huge part of how I pan our homeschool times.

I plan each week the week prior. I've tried planning nightly (way too time consuming), and I've tried planning monthly (this doesn't work either because it means that if we don't stay on schedule, I have to go back and redo everything. So, every weekend I spent about 30 minutes planning for the following week. I use two forms, both available from Sue's website when you purchase her book on the workboxes. One is a weekly planning form where I write down which core subjects we will do on which day of the week. I do one for each child. This one pretty much stays the same every week, except that the page numbers and assignments change as we move through the curriculum. From there, I use another form that has a numbered grid for each school day. I write down what will be in each workbox for each day in the following week in these grids. Again, one sheet per child. I make notes in the margin if there are any supplies I need to gather that we don't have on hand, or if there are copies I need to make, etc.

I keep both of these forms, plus sample work for each child in a three ring binder separated with dividers. Pretty self explanatory. It's simple, but it works for us (so far!).

So that's how I plan weekly. Each school day I have to prepare for the following day as well. We do school on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. So it's basically like a two day week, a day off and then another two day week. The night before a school day, I set up our boxes, gathering materials (hopefully on hand by now), and organizing the boxes with every supply we will need for a lesson, down to the pencil or piece of chalk. This does take a bit of time, usually 15 to 30 minutes a night, so to cut down on that, I like to clean up the workboxes fairly quickly after the kids have used them up during school time. If they are both busy on work alone boxes, I start cleaning up what they have already used. I keep my school area really organized, with everything easily accessible and easy to store. That way, as soon as they finish something, I can go about putting it away, which means that night, when I am preparing boxes for the next day, I don't have to trouble with putting away used materials.

That is one hard thing about the workboxes--you use a lot of materials. I literally have to rack my brain at times because we never have something new to put in the boxes. We use all our materials again and again. I guess that's a good thing too. It just makes for more getting out and putting away though. So that is how I plan for our school days.

Still wondering what the workbox system is? Go check it out!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Oatmeal Container Baby Cradle

I made this homemade baby cradle out of an empty oatmeal box as a Christmas gift for Miss O this past week. To make this, my husband cut out the appropriate sized papers for me out of some scrapbooking paper and I Modge Podged them to an empty oatmeal container. After a couple coats, it was done! So easy, and I know Miss O will love this. Now to find a baby tiny enough to fit inside! :)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Weekly Workboxes

I wish I had a cute name for these posts! But, alas, I do not, so we will continue with the functional name Weekly Workboxes! :)

The Workbox System, created by Sue Patrick, is a organizational tool used by some homeschooling families, including myself. The Weekly Workbox post is a weekly post I do displaying some of the things my kids are learning and some of the activities I am putting into our workboxes. If you use workboxes, please feel free to use the Mcklinky at the bottom of this post to link up to the exact blog post you have written about your workbox system. I love to see what other homeschooling moms are doing and how they are utilizing the workbox system in their homes! Also, feel free to grab my weekly workbox button from my side bar to include in your weekly workbox post if you like! It will link your readers back to my blog so that if they too would like to participate or check in on other bloggers who link up to the workbox posts they can do so easily.

So here's what Bean did one day this week:
Handwriting Without Tears K:
TJ Bearytales and his book The Tale of the Cave Bear was in one of his work alone boxes. I love using TJ for the times when I really need a few minutes of peace to work with Miss O. Little Bean takes TJ off to his room, listens to the story and a few songs and then returns. It gives me just enough time to complete my work with Miss O.
100 Lessons--we are on 40 something now.
All About Spelling--This has been going better lately. It's not Bean's favorite, but as long as I keep the lessons short he does alright with it.
Playdough--a nice, relaxing, easy activity for him after we've spent time with reading and spelling. I try to intersperse his boxes like that so that he has a chance to relax after the more difficult boxes. Notice there are only two toys--twisting and cutting--I purposely chose two things that he can improve on while still having fun!
Right Start Math, Level A--we did the bead stair this week, worked on counting backwards from 10, and worked with seeing ten another way--as 1 and 2 and 3 and 4.
This is a new book I picked up at the teacher supply store. Do yourself a favor and get it on Amazon. It's cheaper, even with shipping. Each page has a simple drawing and instructions on how to draw the picture. Then below are some sentences the child can copy down. We did this twice this week, and since Bean is way into writing right now, it was a hit! His drawings are not all that great, but I think it's a great way to practice his writing and drawing.
This last box was a vowel sort. We talked about vowels in All About Spelling, so I hid some vowels and consonants in this tactile bucket and he was supposed to sort them. It didn't go all that well; not sure if he was just tired or what, but he didn't really enjoy this one!
Miss O is finishing up Book B already in the Explode the Code series. We finished "h" this week and moved on to "d". I can tell she will have the same issues with d, b, and p as Little Bean does. This box also has he handwriting book--Handwriting Without Tears, PK. We did "A" and worked on drawing triangles.
Here we have a capital and lower case letter sort. Miss O was to find lowercase letter tiles (in the yellow box) and match them with the foam capitals. She didn't want to do this alone, but when we did it together, she did alright. This turned into a game of spelling every family member's name that we know though. :)
Here she had a few Tangram puzzles to complete. She does really well with these. FYI, these came from Ross. I get that question a lot, so I thought I would just add that in this time! Actually, Ross has a bunch of education type games like this for pretty cheap. Most of them are by The Learning Company.
Here are some Unifix cubes. No real goal with this box, just something to keep her occupied. And she did really well keeping busy with these. She sorted them all by color (unprompted), and then she stacked the colors in long lines and proceeded to pass out "ice cream cones" to Bean and I.
Here is a lacing card. Neither of the kids are very good at lacing these correctly, but I still put them in occasionally. The funny thing is that sometimes I am so busy with Bean that I don't have a chance to check what Miss O has done until I am cleaning up at the end of the day. This particular day, I found that she actually had laced about half of this card correctly before messing up. I was so impressed!
Here are two file folder games from Both are matching games where you have to match both the shamrock color and the color of the heart. The shades are very similar, so this was a little challenging for O. She kept at it though, with my encouragement, and was able to finish. Sometimes all it takes is having me sitting alongside her to enable her to have the confidence to finish a challenging activity.

That's it! Feel free to link up to any posts you have made this week about the workbox system. And if you do link up, would you leave a comment? MckLinky doesn't inform me when someone links up, so unless I come back and visit my own site (or my MckLinky account), I don't know when someone has linked up. And I would love to see what you are doing, so by leaving a comment you will really help me out!

Saturday, October 17, 2009


Miss O called me in to see her latest drawing the other day--little people in states! We have been reading this story about a little girl who finds her state on a map of America, and then finds her town on a map of her state, and then she finds her street on a map of her town, etc. Shortly after we read this story, Miss O drew this picture, saying, "Look Mom, it's people in states!" She was so pleased with herself!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Homemade Magnetic Dress Up Doll

I saw these printable paper dolls at Wee Wonderfuls, and knew that they'd be perfect for a little magnetic dress up game for Miss O. To make this, I printed the dolls, laminated them, and then stuck them to a piece of a sticky back magnetic sheet. I purchased the tin at Michael's Craft Store. The doll I stuck on the lid of the tin, and then I stored her outfits inside. I made two sets of these--one for Miss O for a Christmas gift, and one for a toddler friend of Miss O's who I hope will also enjoy playing with this. :)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Family Portrait

I loved this little family portrait Little Bean drew recently. As he explained to me who was who, he said, "See that one with all the curly hair? That's grandma!" So sweet! And yes, that is a carrot next to grandma's head...not sure what that's about! ;)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sorting Pretty Beads

Miss O spent some time sorting these decorative beads this week. She loved exploring the different colors, and spent quite a while working on this activity.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

My First Embroidery Project

I saw the patterns for these sweet critters on Wee Wonderfuls. I printed it out, used a mechanical pencil to trace it on a piece of muslin, and then used a simple back stitch to embroider them. Finally, I sewed them together, stuffed them, and added a little jingle bell inside for fun. These will be a Christmas gift for a sweet baby girl that we know!

Aren't they sweet?? :)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Lil' Robots

Little Bean and Miss O had these sweet little robots in their workboxes last week. Little Bean had to both cut and paste, Miss O only had to paste. I thought they turned out super cute!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Weekly Workboxes--Moving Right Along


The Workbox System, created by Sue Patrick, is a organizational tool used by some homeschooling families, including myself. The Weekly Workbox post is a weekly post I do displaying some of the things my kids are learning and some of the activities I am putting into our workboxes. If you use workboxes, please feel free to use the Mcklinky at the bottom of this post to link up to the exact blog post you have written about your workbox system. I love to see what other homeschooling moms are doing and how they are utilizing the workbox system in their homes! Also, feel free to grab my weekly workbox button from my side bar to include in your weekly workbox post if you like! It will link your readers back to my blog so that if they too would like to participate or check in on other bloggers who link up to the workbox posts they can do so easily.

This week, my 4 year old Kinder worked with our Handwriting Without Tears wood pieces:

He also continued working on his reading, using 100 Lessons. We are close to lesson 40 now:
He use Explode the Code Book 1 to reinforce some of the things he is learning in his reading lessons:
He worked on strengthening his finger muscles by spending some time playing playdough:
And here is his math work. We worked some more on odds and evens, and recognizing units of tens up to 100:
This is a reading game I printed from File Folder Fun on word families:
We continued working on segmenting words, vowels and consonants in our spelling curriculum:
And Bean did some lacing, which he really seemed to enjoy:
Miss O worked on practicing her handwriting with her HWT Pre-K workbook, and also learned the letter "j" in her Explode the Code, Book B:
Here is a pouring activity using Perler beads (those little plastic beads you use to make iron on designs):
And this was a review of the letters Miss O studied in ETC Book A. I put a few pictures to match each letter and Miss O had to match them up:
Miss O practiced sorting and stacking with this peg board:
And she did this color matching worksheet:
Her last box is a tonging and sorting activity with pony beads:
Are you using workboxes as well? Link up with the McLinky below:

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