Category Archives: Homeschool

School Evolves With Spring

Spring has arrived in Alabama.

The kids are more easily distracted from book work. The lure of a warm sunny day calls to them. It beckons to be played in, and discovered. So with that our lessons evolve from snugly days reading, afternoons coloring, regular crafting, and page after page workbook lessons to a world of discovery outdoors.

School Evolves With Spring

Paige’s craft from when we discussed chickens.

We are discovering animals  anew. Long walks lead to a discussion on cows, and their nature. An introduction of the baby chicken to their new environment, begins a discussion of life cycles. The planting of seedlings produces a wonder in the cycle of life that the Lord has created. The children marvel at how a seed so small can grow so large, which again open the door for more discussion.

School Evolves With Spring

The baby chicks around 1 week old.

Teamwork and diligence are demonstrated as a green house is being assembled. The value of hard work is being passed on to the next generation.

School Evolves With Spring

Rusty and a family friend working on the frame for our large greenhouse.

Playtime out doors brings its own lessons. Creativity and imagination develop as they turn an old box into their play house. They learn the value of sharing when there are three of them and one softball bat. New skills are being discovered as they are roller skating, riding bikes, and learning to climb trees.

The lessons don’t stop because the weather is warm. They simply evolve.

There is time enough for book work and crafting when the weather is  poor. So while the sun shines I will let them play, for in play they are still learning.

What are some ways that you can inspire learning outdoors where you live?

***Share this post with a friend if it has touched or inspired you in any way. Please just be sure to link back to the original post.***

Please continue to bear with us as we slowly work to update and improve this blog. 🙂

No-Cook Playdough Recipe

My girls and I are fans of anything crafty. I love sitting down working with them on a project. It is just so much fun to see what they will create or how they will interpret what I demonstrated. Sometimes though when they really want to create, I still have house work to do or other work that needs to be done.  This is where playdough comes in, because a little girl can see crayons for only so many days in a row before revolting. (Disclaimer: While yes, I pull out the playdough when I have other work to do, I still must be nearby to supervise. Playdough must not leave the kitchen!)

We have done store-bought playdough in the past. In terms of consistency, it is great I know what I am getting, but it can get expensive to have to continually replace. I also prefer homemade because then I know first hand what is going into the product, and then the girls can also get involved in creating it.

I have tried my hand at both cooked playdough recipes, which for us were a flop, and no-cook recipes. A simple Google search led me to The Best Ever No-Cook Play Dough Recipe. Anna, the author of the blog, offers up this simple recipe. It creates a soft dough that the kids have used for the last two days and there have been no signs of drying out. It produces a great end result that I will turn to again and again.

As great as the result was though I noticed it was stickier and tackier than playdough should be, when I followed the recipe exactly. So what follows below is a slight adaption of the original recipe. (It is worth noting that she does say that you might need to add a touch more flour, but since what I had to add, 1 cup, was more than a touch I will explain how I did this.)

No-Cook Playdough Recipe

No-Cook Playdough Recipe

(Adapted from The Imagination Tree)
 
 

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (reserve one of the three cups)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 tablespoons cream of tartar
  • Up to 1.5 cups boiling water (add in increments)
  • food coloring (optional)

 

Directions

  1. Mix the flour, oil, and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer.
  2. On a low-speed add the oil.
  3. Add the boiling water in  1/4  cup increments mixing until the dough is smooth.
  4. If you still have tacky sticky dough and the mixing is not helping go to your flour reserve, and add a 1/8 cup at a time till dough is smooth to touch.
  5. Divide playdough into the different number of colors that you wish to create. Work food coloring into dough by hand, kneading the dough as you go. (This can get a bit messy so gloves are an option here.)

Store your playdough in an airtight container, and it should last for months.

 

Valentine’s Day Sun Catcher and Giveaway

***Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. This just means I get a small referral rate paid out to be for each item purchased using a link (not all the links.) I also promise to only endorse products I fully believe in and any comments related to the products are 100% my own, unless otherwise stated.*** Getting ready to write the post for today I noticed that this will have been the 10oth post I have a published. It is a small milestone, but a milestone none the less. I just thought I would share that observation, before sharing today’s craft.

Valentine's Day Sun Catcher and Giveaway

Valentine’s Day Sun Catcher

 

Materials:

  • Tissue Paper
  • Painter’s Tape
  • Marker
  • Scissors
  • Single sided self-laminating sheets

 

Directions

  1. Cut your tissue paper in 1×1 squares to 2×2 squares . (You could cut other shapes as well but use your sizes for squares as a guide for rough sizes of the other shapes.)
  2. Using your marker draw a heart on one of the self-laminating sheets.
  3. Peel off top strip of the back off the self laminating sheets and using painter’s tape secure the sheet to the table there. Finish peeling off the rest of the backing and secure at the bottom edge using more painter’s tape.
  4. Now that the project is set up invite your toddler or preschooler in the room.(Those are the ages I have found enjoy this most. I have done this with a child as old as six and as young as a 18 months.)
  5. The child can stick the tissue paper anywhere on the self-laminating sheet, but the only part you will need will be the part inside the heart. Let them place tissue paper till their hearts are content.
  6. When they are finished, peel the bottom strip of painter’s tape off.
  7. Peel the backing of a second self-laminating sheet, and gently secure it to the back of the one your child has been working on.
  8. Carefully remove your sun catcher from the table (it will still be secured by the top strip of tape.)
  9. Cut the heart shape out.
  10. Now you will have a heart-shaped sun catcher.  (How to hang them will be your call. I simply use shipping tape and tape them to a window. Although you could get a hole punch, punch two holes, and then string some yarn between the holes.)

Have fun and enjoy the beautiful colors.   Now in celebration of 100 posts I would like to offer a giveaway. In this giveaway I will be offering two books and .

Desperate is a joint effort by Sally Clarkson and Sarah Mae each lady has a way of writing that speaks to the heart and encourages the soul. In their book Desperate they are seeking to encourage the desperate mom, the one who feels alone, who is stressed to her max,  and just needing to feel a little less alone. It is a book that speaks to the heart of every mother whether you are a brand new mother or a veteran mom of many, because at times we all need a breathe of fresh air and encouragement.

Under the Sun Giveaway

Educating the WholeHearted Child was wrote by Clay and Sally Clarkson. It was wrote with the homeschooling family in mind. Even if you are not homeschooling or not planning on it, this a book that I would recommend to every family, because every parent is a teacher and every home a classroom. It will provide a comprehensive over view of using real books and real life to nurture the heart, soul, and mind of your child. Quoting the description on Amazon, “Whether you are a first-time homeschooler or a longtime veteran, this comprehensive guide will equip and empower you for your journey of faith as a family. Discover the joy of bringing relationship-based, book-centered learning into the natural daily life of your home.”

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Winter Themed Printables and Activity Links

I like to have a variety of things for the kids to do that will not only entertain my girls but also be educational. The more resources I have available each month the easier it is for me to plan our days, which in turn leaves me with more time to spend with my girls. So I would like to share with you today some of the resources that I have found that I like for use over the next month or so. I went with a simple winter theme mostly because we don’t really get much snow here in Alabama and it seems magical to the kids.

Printables

Winter Themed Printables

1+1+1=1 is offering two different printables that I really like for your preschool and toddler ages. The first package is a simple set of coloring pages. The second package is Carrisa’s winter fun tot pack. I highly recommend you check out both of these, especially if you have never seen anything of hers before. The packs are of a consistent and wonderful quality, and my girls enjoy each one.

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Winter Themed Printables

Serving Joyfully also creates wonderful printables. Her winter themed pack is no exception. It is filled with bright beautiful colors, and is designed to teach and challenge a PreK/K child.

 

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Winter Themed Printables

I found these coloring pages and thought they were too cute to pass up, they are from Kids Activity Blog.

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Crafts and Activities

WInter Themed Crafts

I Dig Pinterest has a couple different ideas on cute crafts to do with the children. We will probably land up trying out all of these before the month is up.

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Winter Themed Activity

 

The Very Hungry Preschooler has this really cute idea for snow painting, now if only we had snow. I included this though because I know some of you live in snowy areas.

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Winter Themed Activity

Snails and Puppy Dog Tails developed this really cute sensory bin with a winter theme. Currently my girls are not at the right stages for this particular bin, but I wanted to share it and the link because I know plenty of momma’s this post would inspire.

***Don’t forget one of the best ways to find this post again is to share it on your Facebook wall or post it to Pinterest.***

***What are some winter themed ideas that you have to do with kids?***

4 Links to Inspire Fall Learning Fun

I wanted to share with you four of my favorite links this last month that I used to form lessons, inspire creativity, and have fun learning with my children. Now these are all fall or Thanksgiving themed so if you want to indulge in them you still have a little time before the onslaught of winter/ Christmas activities.

4 Links to Inspire Fall Learning Fun

I would also recommend as you look through the activities to keep a few things in mind:

  1. Where is your child developmentally? Just because the activity looks fun or cute to you doesn’t mean it won’t frustrate you and your child if it is outside his current skill set.
  2. What resources does it require? Can you afford to buy what you are missing? Is there a way for you to create a substitute for what you are missing here at home?
  3. Do you have the time and/ or energy to to commit to this lesson or craft?

 

From there enjoying looking through the links and discovering things you can do with your kiddos.

1+1+1=1 is always full of wonderful lessons and printables, and her Thanksgiving Preschool Pack is no exception.

 

Thanksgiving Preschool Pack 1+1+1=1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At Serving Joyfully, I found this wonderful preschool Fall Fun Pack, for my oldest, Chloe.

Fall Printable Pack- Serving Joyfully

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over at Frugal Homeschool Family, I was able to find these wonderful color pages that both my 2-year old and 4-year old have enjoyed.

Free Thanksgiving Color By Number- Frugal Homeschool Family

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The final link I want to share I discovered through Pinterest. This link from Diapers & Daisies provided much inspiration for us over the last couple months and I hope to find more inspiration from them in the coming months.

10 Best Fall Crafts to do with Toddlers- Diapers and Daisies

What I Have Learned From You, The Homeschooling Community

There are many wonderful things about homeschooling that drew me to it: the flexibility in scheduling, the personalization of my children’s education, and the chance to protect them a little longer. There have also been things I have learned that I value even more about homeschooling since I started preschool homeschool and started learning more from the homeschooling community.  It is these things that I am truly thankful for in homeschooling. It is these things that have made me appreciate the other homeschooling families all the more. They are also the reasons I appreciate the homeschooling community, everyone from those I have met through blogging to those I have met in person.

What I Have Learned From You, The Homeschooling Community

1. Homeschooling need not look like school at home

I have learned that if I try to replicate the model of the public or the private school systems in my home it is a recipe for burn out, burn out for myself and for my children. We can do school on the couch, in the kitchen, outside, behind a computer, or sitting at a desk. What they need is time with me coming along side them and showing how something works. And at their young age that can mean sitting down and playing a game of memory, or building blocks and asking them to repeat the pattern I created. I don’t need to drill them, or continually quiz them. With time I am sure tests will find their way into our homeschool but for now they are not here and that is fine. I can gauge their progress without a test.

I have also learned that homeschooling my girls takes fewer hours of dedicated instruction in the areas of book learning than it would take to teach a classroom full of young children. So instead of sending Chloe out of the house for hours a few times a week we can sit down for 10-20 minutes a day 3-4 times a week. For those of you who are skeptical let me reassure you, with this model I will have her ready for kindergarten level work by next fall, a full year ahead of what the school systems require of her.

Now of course if you have older children you will need to spend more time instructing them, but it still will not take nearly as long as the school day for those in brick and mortar schools. The reason is simply this: you will not need to spend as much time with busy work or covering material you already covered. Yes some kids will need you to still review, but working one on one you will know when enough is enough and stop the review portion when they catch on and then you will be able to move on to the next section.

2. There is not one right way to do this

I am beyond thankful that there is no one right way to teach my girls, or to organize a homeschool. There are families who have a school room complete with desks for the kids and a teacher’s desk for the mother (if you are a father homeschooling good for you but I am going on the idea the primary educator in most families is the mother.) Then there are families who have a school room but that is simply a place to corral the school supplies. I have also met and seen families who are un-schoolers, they let all their learning occur naturally albeit sometimes a bit directed. Or maybe some combination of the above.

So no matter what way you choose to teach, take comfort in the fact you are not alone. You are simply doing what’s best for you and your family. If you feel alone start by simply turning to the online homeschooling community. There are many of us, and I have found everyone rather welcoming.

3. Patience is not a pre-requisite.

One of the most common reasons I have heard on why a person can not homeschool is they feel they do not have the patience to do so. I understand this statement, I have said it in the past. Since I have dove into homeschooling, and learning more about it I have discovered patience is not a pre-requisite. In fact many veteran homeschooling moms still don’t feel like they are very patient. Just remember it is something you can learn and develop with time. Although even if you have spent years cultivating patience you will still need to work on it. People will always find a new way to test your limits, and your children more so than others.

4. Learning occurs in so many areas of the home life

As I have started to homeschool I have seen how learning can and does occur in a variety of situations. You can work on math as you are cooking dinner. Cooking offers a chance to explore counting, fractions, division (in some cases,) and following directions. Laundry can help with sorting, organization, motor skills, and more. The point is there is much for children to learn in the running of the home. And the biggest thing they can learn through chores is probably responsibility.

5. Education is Discipleship

The Free Dictionary defines a disciple as, “One who embraces and assists in spreading the teachings of another.” So no matter where our children are educated, we are creating disciples. They will take what they learn from the environment they are in and spread that to the world. So let me ask you, what is it that you want your children to learn to value? If you send your kids away for eight, nine, or ten hours a day they are learning much about the world from the world. Do you like the message they are learning there? I didn’t. I decided to teach them at home so I could help teach them a global view with a Christian perspective. That is not to say this couldn’t be achieved if the kids were in public school, it could have. It would have been more difficult is all.

No matter how you decide to educate your children, there are principles there for everyone. Take your time reflect on it. Digest it. Most of all appreciate that like parenting, there is no one exact perfect way to educate your children. Learn your options, they are many, and find what works for your family.

***What would you add to this list?***

 

Preschool Homeschool: Themed Lessons

In our preschool homeschool we have been doing themed lessons as of recently. I thought I would share one of our themes from a couple of weeks back. At the preschool level I like to cover character, colors, shapes, introduction of letters, listening skills/ reading skills, counting, and as Chloe advances  further along letter and number recognition.

As I read blogs from homeschooling veterans, and books from experts they all seem to agree on one thing. At this age learning through play is natural. With this in mind while we have lessons, I have decided to keep them short and enjoyable. The lessons themselves are centered around things my children already enjoy doing even without specific lessons in mind. I would encourage you even if you plan on sending your preschooler to public or private school to keep the idea of active playing or playing with purpose in mind with your preschooler. While free play is wonderful playing with purpose helps children to understand from a young age learning can happen in almost every environment.

My girls naturally gravitate towards arts and crafts, stories, videos, games, and anything that involves outdoor play. My two oldest girls also love helping Momma in the kitchen. What do your kids love to do? Think about those things. Use the things they enjoy to introduce new concepts and reinforce old ones. Time spent with building blocks, for example, can also be a quick lesson in counting or colors, simply by asking them to hand you a specific number of blocks or asking them to find a certain color block. Arts and crafts also naturally lend themselves to learning. With crafts, kids work on fine motor skills, cutting, pasting, counting, color/ shape recognition, and more. They just need a parent there to challenge them to try new things, help them when they get stuck, and supervise to make sure they don’t eat the glue or cut their sibling’s project in half. 😉

Now that you have the idea, here is my theme from a couple of weeks ago:

 

Homeschool Preschool: Themed Lessons

Fishies

I kicked off the lesson with a viewing of  Finding Nemo. I used the movie to talk about love, family, and listening skills. Plus it is just a cute movie.

Then we read a poem about fish. Now I really would have loved to have read The Rainbow Fish, but since we don’t have that book. I searched for children’s poems about fish. Reading is a great way to help young children build their vocabulary, so as you read  to them not only read their favorites introduce new stories, poems, and concepts.

The final portion to the lesson was a fish craft.

Materials needed:

  • construction paper
  • crayons/ markers/ paint (really whatever you are comfortable letting them use)
  • scissors
  • white paper
  • glue sticks

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Cut a fish shape out of your white paper.
  2. Draw face on fish.
  3. Cut scales out of construction paper.
  4. Demonstrate how to use the glue stick to put a scale on the fish.
  5. Let the kids have fun decorating their fish with the scales and coloring utensils.
  6. Display fish for all to see. 😉

***What are some of the ways your children learn best? What are some of your ideas for learning through active play?***

Now This Is Something New To Me… Church Schools

Moving has provided me an opportunity to learn more about homeschooling and how different states do things. Michigan is one of the most free states in the nation in regards to homeschooling. (If you want to know more about homeschooling laws and your state, refer back to my post on September 3 titled Homeschooling Laws. That post has some references to help you learn more.) Alabama has more regulation regarding homeschool than Michigan, yet the only regulation it has is that you must report that you are homeschooling. (In Michigan, it is optional whether or not you report that you are homeschooling.)

Now This Is Something New To Me... Church Schools

Coming from Michigan my frame of reference for reporting that I was homeschooling was simply filling out a form and sending it back to the state. Alabama takes a different approach and it has thrown me a bit of a curve-ball, at least at first glance. In Alabama you can homeschool via a (cover) church school or if you have a  teaching license under the title of personal tutor. The church schools are something new to me and each one is so different from the next. It seems each school provides a different level of oversight. Some say that the children must be taught by one parent who does not work outside the home, they must attend ‘school’ for 175 days out of the year, they get 5 sick days, 5 teacher development days, the parent turns in lesson plans and grades, the students must undergo regular standardized testing, and the family must provided a statement of faith. Then there are church schools that provide a legal cover and that is all, you are free to school under their cover in any way that you wish.

Honestly while I am not opposed to parents choosing a higher level of oversight for themselves, I am thinking our household will be looking for a school with no oversight. I want, if need be, to teach my daughter  at seven years of age kindergarten/ 1st grade English, because that is where her skill level is at and not be told she is failing. I want to foster a love of learning, and not make it a chore. I worry that if they must perform to some preset notion of what level they should be at and instead of the level they are, then they will start to see themselves as a failure.

That being said I am not opposed to challenging children. I plan to challenge mine. It is through challenges and even struggles that we learn and grow. I just want to be able to set the bar for the challenges at an attainable level for my children. Basically I just want tailor my children’s curriculum to their individual needs.

My other big thing is I want to be flexible as to when we do school. By that, I mean if we are really sick for two weeks straight, I would rather focus on getting well than on studies. Or perhaps I would rather just take off for a vacation mid year and visit family. Flexibility in scheduling is part of homeschooling, to our family.

At the end of the day I will just need to pray and do research to find the right cover school. Perhaps the right school for us is not one with no oversight but rather one with more than I am currently comfortable with. Perhaps the Lord will use this as a learning experience for me.

 

Homeschooling Laws

If you are just now considering homeschooling, you may be curious about homeschooling laws in your state. I hope in this post to help point you in the direction of resources that can help you  learn more about the laws in your state. While homeschooling is legal in all 50 states, each state has varying degrees of regulation. There are states with high levels of regulation such as Pennsylvania, and then there are states that require no notification of your intent to homeschool such as Michigan.

USRegulatoryMap

Red is high regulation. Orange is moderate regulation. Yellow is low regulation. Green is no notification of intent to homeschool required. If you want more details click on the picture to go to the HSLDA site.

 

Overall, the HSLDA is an excellent resource in helping you in your homeschooling journey. You can join them and they will be your legal advocates if you face opposition from your state. Their website will help you get started with everything from finding laws to helping you connect, with your local homeschool community.

A2Z Homes Cool is another page that I have found that may be able to help answer questions. The link I provided directs you to a portion where answers and more links are easily accessible. Now, the author of the piece I linked to is not a lawyer and should not be interpreted as legal advice, but it can help you to understand the basics.

No matter what resource you use though, the best resource is your own state’s laws. Read them over carefully. You will want to make sure you’re not missing anything.  If you run into a situation that you need legal help, don’t forget that every homeschooling parent has access to the HSLDA. (To learn more about the HSLDA and membership go here.)

 

 

Homeschooling Through Transitions

In last week’s post I promised that this week we would discuss homeschooling through transitions. So here is that promised post, and another look into our homeschool.

One of the things I like best about homeschooling my girls is the flexibility it allows me. Currently we are in the middle of a big move and our homeschooling experience looks different from what it did a in the spring, or even over the summer. I really need the flexibility right now that I said I like.

When you are packing, traveling, visiting relatives, and unpacking it is hard enough to keep anything that looks like routine, let alone homeschool. I have found though, when we completely give up a habit (especially those that are healthy) it is that much more difficult for us to return to. The problem with that though, is I can not keep up with our normal activities and stay on top of the move.

Homeschooling Through Transitions

A little self-directed play time, all while working on skills.

4 Things I am doing in our Homeschool, while we are in transition:

1. Reducing the number of days a week we are doing school. If we know that we only have to get in school three days of the week we can work around the curve balls that moving likes to throw.

2. Focusing on the basics. This means arts and crafts, and science are taking a back seat right now. The girls are two and three, the more important things right now are play time, and learning: numbers, colors, shapes, patterns, and expanding vocabulary.

3. To reach our objectives, I am looking at methods and programs that can do more than one thing at a time. For example building with blocks we can play, discuss colors, count the blocks in our structures, and I can build things and see if the girls can repeat what I just made.

4. Last but not least, the one thing I am making a point of not sacrificing  is story time. Story time doesn’t need to be a long drawn out affair to be effective, just as long as we spend quality time reading together.

Curious George is a big favorite with my girls.

 

 

 

***During times of transition, such as the birth of a new child, a move, major illness, etc…, how does your family handle school? Do you take a break for a season and then pick back up? Do you find another solution that has not crossed my mind? Or perhaps you send your kids to school, so then how does your family handle the increased pressures of such times?***