Sunday, December 27, 2009


Sorry I haven't posted in a while. I was busy with some personal stuff, and immediately following that was the week of Christmas! We've had a lovely holiday season this year. The kids sang in our annual Christmas play at church, and were so cute! We spent Christmas Eve at home, just our little family, reading the Christmas story and opening gifts. The kids had a lot of fun! Then Christmas morning we had breakfast at my parent's home with my brother and his family and opened gifts together. We still have one more celebration on Tuesday night with some close family friends of ours.

Believe it or not, even though last week was Christmas week, it wasn't much busier than any other week, and we managed to get in a full week of school, though we took the week prior off! I didn't take pictures, but it was a lot like it normally is, covering all our main subjects, with a few fun activities thrown in as well.

As we move into the new year, I know many homeschooling families are re-evaluating their curriculum and sometimes choosing different things or discontinuing others. For us, not much will change in the second half of the school year. While I know for sure some of the curriculum I got for this year I will not continue with next school year, for the most part everything is "good enough" that I will continue with it until we finish it and then look for something new. The ones I know for sure I'll keep even next year are Handwriting Without Tears, Explode the Code, and Right Start math. I'll have to do some research for the other subjects.

That's it for now, I just wanted to drop in and let you know I'm still here, I'm just enjoying my holiday, relaxing and blogging only when the urge strikes me!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Kid Made Christmas Gifts

I adapted this idea from a post I saw here. To make these, I cut out a simple shape from clear contact paper, and then stuck it to some watercolor paper. I gave the kids our Parent's brand paints (because they are SO vibrant, with so little effort) and let them have at it. The only thing I really wanted was for them to cover the whole page of paper. Once they finished, I peeled off the contact paper and ta-da! These beautiful paintings were the result. I love how they turned out, and they are all wrapped and under the tree now--two for their Gymboree teachers and two for Grandma and Papa. The kids really enjoyed this activity too. It's been too long since I've gotten out the paints, and they loved seeing the surprise white background when they were finished and I peeled the contact paper off. The site where I got it from actually printed a poem on the white part, which I considered, but I think they look pretty this way too, so why mess with a good thing??

Don't you love how they turned out?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Homemade Baby Cradle--the dolls

Remember that homemade baby cradle I made a while back for Miss O's Christmas present? Well, I never did find a doll to fit perfectly inside, and since I'm on this embroidery kick, I decided to embroider some instead. I sadly cannot find the link where I got these two patterns, but if I find it, I'll definitely give credit where it is due.

Here's the baby girl enjoying being rocked:
And here they both are standing side by side on my couch behaving so nicely for their pictures:

I hope Miss O enjoys these! These are also under the tree for her this year! I managed to make quite a few homemade gifts this year, so I'm pretty happy about that!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Shape Scapes--A Different Kind of Building Toy

Have you heard of Shape Scapes? Shapes Scapes were created by a Los Angeles artist and feature over 90 unique and durable plastic shapes that click together. Your child can make any number of different sculptures and designs as they explore and build fine motor skills while they play. These normally run about 30 dollars a set--well worth it though if you are on the look out for a really different and interesting building toy other than the typical lego or mega block. We were super lucky to find a complete set at our local thrift store for only $2.92!! I was stoked, and the kids have had a great time playing with these!

"Animal With Big Eyes" by Little Bean:
"Clapping Man" by Little Bean:
"A Bird Resting in the Sun" by Miss O:

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

DIY Dollhouse--for next to nothing

I don't know how many of you love the Charlie and Lola books by Lauren Child, but in our house they are an absolute favorite. I actually discovered them in my Children's Lit class in college, and fell in love. So when I stumbled across this Charlie and Lola themed do-it-yourself dollhouse here, I knew this was something I wanted to make for Miss O. I've finally finished it, and it's sitting under our Christmas tree as we speak. Here is a link to a tutorial on how to make this super inexpensive, fun project for your little ones. In the mean time, enjoy!!

Charlie, in his room making sure Lola stays out of trouble!
In the kitchen together. "But, I don't EAT apples, Charlie!"
And of course, Lola's room. Painting at her easel IS her favorite and her best, you know!
And relaxing in the living room together. Lola's checking out those pink books I think!
And a top view: The dollhouse is made from foam core board from the craft store. The walls are scrapbooking paper, and the decor is from an old magazine. My dh did all the measuring and cutting to get the dollhouse to slip together correctly. I traced with pencil onto linen fabric from a Charlie and Lola book we already had, and hand embroidered the dolls. I stitched them up into stuffies on my mom's machine. I LOVE how this turned out, so hopefully Miss O will too!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Weekly Workboxes!

Another workbox post!

Here are Bean's boxes:
100 Lessons, we are on 68 now: Right Start Math--we have been working on money A LOT! He is really enjoying this, and getting it too.
Explode the Code--still working on three letter decodable words. He does 2 pages a day in a work alone box:
This was a simple craft I made up for both kid's boxes. I drew some simple shapes on a piece of paper and then taped different materials to the back which would leave a textured look when colored over. The kids colored each shape in a different color, and then Bean cut his out:
Handwriting Without Tears: We've started lowercase letters, and this week we did c, a, d, and g:
Here's our All About Spelling. Bean sometimes does his spelling from dictation on the whiteboard:
And, Draw Write Now. He doesn't draw that well, but this is good for copywork and the drawing element is fun for him:
And here are Miss O's boxes:
Hi Ho Cherrio--she plays this by herself by spinning the spinner and following the directions:
Making silly faces with Colorforms:
Here is her work with mom box--Kumon Uppercase letters, and Go for the Code, in which we were working on "z":
Then we worked on counting foam shapes and matching them to the numeral:
Here are some simple 2 part puzzles. Miss O really didn't like these. I think I may be getting rid of them because she doesn't like them and Bean is too old for these. We have had them for a while and they have never been a favorite, unfortunately:
Here's that project I was talking about that was in Bean's box

And that's it! If you have a post on workboxes from this week, link up!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Giveaway Winner!!

And the random winner of the write and wipe clean alphabet book is Adriana from My Bilingual Boys! Congrats, Adriana, and I will be in touch! I have to say, the giveaway was very rewarding for me. There just may have to be another one in the near future! :)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Our School Room

Only a few hours left to enter my giveaway! Go here to enter!

So we are lucky enough to have a whole room that we use as a playroom that is downstairs, right off of the kitchen/living room. Until recently, we had our toys in there, and then we had our school supplies and desks and workboxes upstairs in the guest bedroom/office. One day I realized that with the amount of time we spend in the school area, we needed a bigger space. So, I switched things around. I put our toys upstairs in the guest room/office, and the school stuff now has a whole room dedicated just to school. I am SO much happier with this arrangement.

I thought I'd give a little tour of our school room and how I keep things organized. Rest assured it is not normally this clean. I actually had to vacuum before taking these pics because there is normally bits of paper and dried playdough lying around and of course the games and puzzles that they want to leave out for Daddy to see. :)

Here goes:

This is left over from when this room was the playroom. It's velcroed to the wall, and since we do use a lot of magnets during school time, I just left it there. This is to the right of the doorway as you come into the room:
This is also left over from the playroom. This a felt board my mom made us from posterboard, felt and glue. It is also velcroed to the wall, beneath the window. Beneath in the yellow bin are the felt things, and the white bin holds our library books:
I actually just added this tactile bin in today. We usually store it under the couch, but I had this empty corner in the school room and thought, why not? I'm hoping having it out will give the kids more opportunities to play with it:
Here's where I keep some of the items that the kids are free to get into on their own. In the blue containers and the small drawers we have all our crafty things--scissors, glue, glue sticks, popcycle sticks, googly eyes, etc. Next door in the three drawer bin we have playdough, coloring books and paper, and stickers. On top are pencils and markers. The kids have free access to all of this except for scissors, which they are supposed to ask for first:
This was a toy shelf when we had toys in here. Now it holds our workboxes. The top shelf is where I store handwriting paper, math and science manipulatives, extra workboxes and Miss O's Itsy Bitsy Books:
Here's Miss O's desk. As you can see, below my storage shelf is where Miss O has her workboxes. In front of her desk is a wall chart (dollar spot find!) and it has all the alphabet letters she has learned so far. She gets them down a lot to trace them with a white board pen and then re-organize them on the chart:
This is where I store the bulk of my curriculum. This is above the shelf where Little Bean has his boxes. I like having it out in the open so I have easy access. I have the numbers for their workboxes stuck to the wall, and their handwriting manipulatives on a hook next door. Below I store all the curriculum stuff that we use every week. On the left we have our All About Spelling flashcards and Sentence School cards. Beside that are the teacher's manuals and workbooks, and next to that are our capital letter cards and wood pieces:
Below that shelf are Little Bean's boxes. He also has a wall chart, and his holds words that he is learning in 100 Lessons:
This is a shelf in the closet. It's a small walk in, so I took off the door and it's just open to the room. On the top two shelves I keep things that I don't want them having access to all the time. The top shelf has pop beads, magnetic/non magnetic things, and stamps. The second shelf has Little Bean's readers, unifix cubes, small manipulatives, tangrams, that kind of thing. The bottom two shelves they are free to get into. The purple and pink buckets are buttons and beads for stringing. Then they have the peg boards, which they largely ignore. On the bottom are our books. To the left is a basket with tactile things in it--popcorn, lentils, rice, etc.
This is also in the closet. This holds all our games and puzzles. The brown folder is our file folder games. The rest on the top of this shelf are our puzzles. Below are all our games. The kids have free access to these as well.
You'll notice that I don't label everything. I just have general places for things, and since it's all out in the open, it's pretty easy for me to see what I have. Looking at this post makes me realize how much stuff we have for their schooling! We are so blessed! :) Hope you enjoyed the tour!

How do you organize your school room??

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Don't Forget to Enter My Giveaway!

Don't forget to enter my giveaway to win this nifty book for your preschooler! Click here to enter!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Weekly Workboxes

I thought I'd do something different this week with my workbox post. By now, if you've been following the workbox posts, or if you look over them in the archives, you've probably seen most of the things that we often put in our boxes. I mean, we only have so many supplies that I rotate through. So, instead of just featuring what was in our boxes this week, I thought I'd do a little homeschool walk-through of our workboxes.

A typical school day (lately anyway) begins in the afternoon. The kids usually eat lunch at about 11:30 or so, and then they spend an hour in their rooms for "quiet time." Usually Little Bean will play, and Miss O either plays or falls asleep for a while. After quiet time, they know that school time usually begins. So when I get them out of their rooms, I let them know that we will be starting school, and part way through we will have afternoon snacks. We head to the school room, and Miss O begins working alone while I work with Little Bean on reading and math.

On this day, Miss O started off with lacing. She isn't great at lacing, but has shown some interest in it lately, so I thought I'd start her off with it this time. Unfortunately, she wasn't into it this day, and did a lot of complaining and whining when the strings weren't cooperating. Since many of her activities are open ended and don't have definite end times, my rule is that neither of them moves along to the next box until the other child is ready to move on from their box. In other words, she is expected to play with the lacing cards until I am finished with Little Bean's reading lesson. Sometimes this means that she is laying on the floor with nothing to do for a few minutes, or sometimes she will take out books or playdough while she waits.
When Bean and I finished his reading lesson, we pulled out the math box. Miss O played dress up with this Woodkin's doll while we did math. On this day, she was more interested in what we were doing, and asked to sit and listen. As long as she isn't being disruptive, I don't mind her sitting in. Sometimes she'll ask to work with Bean's abacus during math time. Usually I don't have a problem with that either. After the second box, we usually break for afternoon snack. If for some reason we are doing school in the am, we still break after 2 boxes for morning snack.
After I finished working on math and reading with Bean and we've finished a quick snack, he is ready for some alone time, so I usually give him two work alone boxes in a row. This gives me enough time to work with Miss O on her "reading" lesson (alphabet sounds) and on handwriting, as well as any other box that she may need some guidance with. On this day, she had a number worksheet in one of her boxes. She was supposed to trace the numeral and count the number of hearts. I worked on this with her. That way I could see how many of the numbers she recognized and how accurate her counting was.
While Bean continued his alone work, Miss O and I got busy with her Explode the Code primer. This day we were working on the letter "y" in her primer. I usually read her an Itsy Bitsy Letter book and then we open her primer and work on the corresponding letter activities. Usually we do 3 pages, but if she isn't into it, sometimes we only do 2. It normally takes us about 4 school days to finish all the pages on a particular letter. Next we pull out her handwriting book, and we generally do only one page from that book per day.
The way I do her "lessons" is as follows: I simply follow the pages, dictating sounds to her, naming pictures, and letting her tell me the sounds that they make. I explain the instructions and guide her as she works through the activities. Sometimes I pull out letter cards and she will match them with the correct pictures (initial sounds). I don't do anything really elaborate, and I don't usually have to plan anything in advance, so it's pretty straight forward.
Once we finish her "work with mom" boxes, it's back to work alone boxes for the remainder of the school day. Usually I have a few more boxes to do with Little Bean (Science, Grammar, Spelling, etc), but sometimes in there I have a break where neither of them is scheduled to "work with mom". During those times, I like to work with Miss O a bit more if she has a box that I think she would benefit from having a bit more guidance in.
Here she had a Magic Pics coloring page (kind of like Color Wonder):
And then here she was separating fruits and veggies with our felt food. This was way too easy for her!
This last box is an example of one that she would likely need more guidance with. These preschool worksheets fell during a time when I had nothing to do and was not needed, so I spent a bit of time going over it with her.
Once Miss O finishes her work (which usually is before Little Bean even though I do try to make the load even time-wise), she is free to go play or do as she pleases. Usually she goes into our school storage closet and chooses an activity to keep herself busy--playdough, coloring, stringing, a game, or some other material. When Bean finishes up, they run off to play together.

So that's a typical school day for Miss O! How does the workbox system play out in your home? If you've written a post this week about your workboxes, link up below! Please be sure to link to your exact post about workboxes, and it would be awesome if you could link back to this post so that others reading your post will be directed here and can start linking up or enjoying other bloggers who have left their link as well.

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