Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Discovering Great Artists

7 year old

8 year old
We are using Discovering Great Artists by MaryAnn Kohl and Kim Solga. It is a wonderful and inexpensive resource. Each week, we study a new artist and try out their technique for ourselves.

The supplies are pretty use to find. I am NOT a crafty person but I can even handle this and I love the price tag compared to the other art programs out there.

This week we learned about Joseph Stella and mixed media. These are pictures my children created after the lesson. They are very excited about home school days, if they know there is going to be art. I save art for the end of the day to hope motivate them.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Balancing Act

Unless you have a maid, driver, personal shopper, and personal chef, you probably have more responsibilities than just as a home schooling mother.  Sometimes it can be hard to balance all of these things.   I know I feel overwhelmed at times.
With all that you do, it is important to have some quiet time for yourself.  I am not a morning person by nature, I am one by habit.  I have to make an effort to wake up before the kids or I feel like I am running behind the rest of the day.  I do a daily devotional, pray and have a cup of coffee.  Then I start breakfast.

There are other things that help me stay somewhat organized. 


If you are more interested in a printable version Motivated Moms is an excellent way to physically check off the daily activities.  They also have an option to have schedule Bible reading.  They also have a new android and apple app.   Motivated Moms spreads out the tasks so it isn’t overwhelmed but your house is guest ready.
Click here to visit Motivated Moms.

For meal planning, I cook many meals in the slow cooker.  I try to make extra so I can freeze half and have a meal ready to go later on.

I also made a reverse meal schedule.  I wrote down what everything I made for dinner for a month. I wrote meal on an index card and put it into an index card box.  When I finished my month, I had thirty dinners I knew my family liked and I knew how to cook.  I use these meals also the framework for my next month.  I reserved a day a week to try something new.  If my family likes it, I put it in the box.  Now my index card box is full of things my family loves.  I get new inspiration from cookbooks from the library, websites, blogs, and food network.

Monday, October 22, 2012

NOEO Science Sale

My favorite science curriculum is on sale for the first time ever.  For one week only everything will be an additional 10% off.  To get the discount, you have to use the code "Add10" at checkout.  I wish they have this sale in the summer!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Life Happens

I have a wonderful schedule created on home school tracker. It fits perfectly with holidays and birthdays and our evenly spaced breaks.

Then everyone gets sick. Not just sniffling but with a stomach virus. For the last week and a half, I have had at least own warm damp body sleeping on my sofa during the day. They don't beg for a snack or to go out and play. They don't even argue with one another. They have been sick, really sick.

So much for perfect schedules, I try to remind myself that we are not behind.  That my best case scenario schedule wasn’t perfect because I can’t see ahead.  I can’t see the next minor emergency but God can.  I need to not be so upset that my plan isn’t working and to allow life to happen.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

My Favorite Free Preschool Resources

The cost of preschool can be as high or low as you want it to be. There are plenty of at home preschool kits where you can easily spend hundreds of dollars for just a few months. There are also many great free resources online. Here are just a few of my favorites.

1 Plus 1 Plus 1 Equals 1 is a site packed full of Montessori rich activities. There are activities like "Tot Trays" designed to inspire hands on learning and exploration. There are tons of free printables to help preschoolers learn the basics. Many include popular cartoon characters like Disney's Doc McStuffins or Nick's "Octonauts." The site is not only inspiring but doable as well.

Starfall is another great free resource. It is computer based, so you might need to help your little with navigating the site. The site helps little ones learn the alphabet and the sounds the make. It helps older children learn how to read and how to become more fluent. Starfall is both educational and entertaining. The original site remains free but they have expanded to include "More Starfall" which is not free.

Letter of a Week is a valuable resource at no cost. There "curriculum" can be used from birth all the way up to 11 years old. The lower levels place the focus on reading to your infant or toddler. The lesson plans include Literature recommendations, nursery rhymes, music, exercise, French, and speech. The lessons are simple and designed to create a love of learning and literature.

Counting Coconuts is a unique blog that has many ideas to use for your preschooler. It has brilliant recommendations for Montessori activities and resources. The blog has gorgeous and inspiring photographs that are sure to give you some great ideas and motivate your preschool. There are free printables and themed activities to keep you as busy as you want to be.

DLTK Kids is a must visit site for non-crafty moms. It contains many crafts sorted by ABC's, 123's, Books, Shapes, Animal Crafts, Bible Crafts, Different Cultures, and holidays to name a few. The crafts require simple house hold items. The instructions state what age the craft is appropriate for. You can print the templates right at home. The site also contains songs, coloring sheets, and printables.

These sites help you create a rich learning environment in your home. They provide low stress activities at no cost, so you can spend more time and money on other things. What are some of your favorite free preschool sites?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Preschool Expectations

I don’t have too many expectations for preschool.  I don’t do flashcards or thick workbooks.  I want to be careful not to kill the joy of learning by forcing my little man to sit at desks for hours listening to me lecture.   In my opinion, that is not what preschool is about.

That isn’t to say we avoid learning.  Preschool isn’t a four letter word to be avoided. Preschool means before school. Preschool for my kids began at birth.  I named the object that they saw.  I let them play and explore.  I talked to them and read to them. 

Now my son is three I answer questions constantly.  “Where did the sun go?” or “Why can’t I eat a cookie for dinner?” 

Play is an essential part of learning at this stage.  Pretending and building towers or castles out of Legos is more valuable that piles of worksheets. My son is learning to work with others, to share, and discovering the world around him.  After crashing innumerable towers, He knows to build a wide base for a taller tower.  After trying to build a tower on my dog, he knows that flat surfaces are better too.

Just because he doesn’t do a math worksheet doesn’t mean he can’t count.  We count everything: the steps on the stairs, the scoops of flour for the pancakes, the petals on a flower, the wheels on the bus and the dinosaur toys on his shelf.  He learned to count down when he turned a box into a shape ship to blast off in.

I still read to him constantly, I use a great picture book reading list and load up at the library.  He shows and interest in helicopters, fire trucks, or the rain forest I check out a book on the subject.  Now, he knows about rotors, CRVs and sloths. 

I don’t force him to write his letters.   However, he does have his little notebook he carries around pretending to take notes. He uses crayons and he has proper grip of the crayon.  That will help him transition to pencil later.

He paints with tempera paints that he can mix together to know that two colors can mix together and make another color.  He has learned the colors because as I pour the paints, I call out their names and when I give him a choice of shirts, I ask if he would like to wear the green one or the red one.

Preschool doesn’t have to be high pressure and stressful.  It is as hard or efficient as you make it.  The most important part of preschool should be developing the love of learning in a natural unforced way.  It doesn’t have to happen at a desk or in a circle.  It can happen in the grocery store, the kitchen table, or a mother’s lap.