Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Signing off

Ok...I am standing in my semi-packed up kitchen, boiling eggs for tomorrow's Thanksgiving dinner, power blogging!  My timer is set for 5 minutes...GO!

Unplugging for a day - my goal - but might stretch it to 2 days;0)
Packing and Moving!

Party Planning - This boy turns 6!!! REALLY 6 (for all of you that said "WHAT?!!!?")  
Last Year - hard to believe!

Planning and teach my first Writer's Workshops for Little Learners! AHHHH!!!

This blessed life needs to be all about time, memories and patience with...

these guys!

(planning to write a blog series on how we did it all...ekkk!)

Have a blessed and wonderful Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 14, 2014

A few things to be thankful for...

Today was just one of those "sweet days".  Everyone was sweet!  The cold weather felt sweet!  Brisket cooking all day in the oven smelled sweet!  So thankful for days like these.

We needed a day like today.  The first of our week was good but not "sweet", like today.  And with Thanksgiving around the corner, it was sweet to get to learn about thankfulness!

I sprinkled a little learning throughout our day.  (Which often end up being some of my favorite days!)

I was SO tempted to turn on Christmas Carols, but I refrained while we cut, pasted and colored this 6 page Pilgrim book.  And while doing that, we talked all about what we had remembered from "This is America, Charlie Brown"...which we snuggled up and watched yesterday.

Something so simple and sweet with great conversation lead to happy kiddos that were so thrilled about the book they had just created!

After lunch, "movie rest time" while building with Legos, we started creating our Mayflower Ships.

Just took washed out applesauce containers, painted them with brown acrylic paint (NOT washable; tell you why later)

While those were drying, we created our sails by tracing shapes onto white paper...
 Then taping them onto wooden BBQ sticks.

We attached the Mayflower Mast to the boat using clay.  I asked the boys to think about how much clay they would need to still keep the boat 'a float.  

Finish product and happy kiddo!  
Tomorrow we will take them outside and use place them in water (probably use the sand table).  **That's why we didn't use washable paint!**

I want the boys to predict if their boat with sink or float.  Then we are going to rein-act the bad weather the Pilgrims experienced and see how our Mayflowers hold up.
I'll post pictures to Facebook...
So be sure and check in there! 

Hope you next few weeks are as "sweet" as I'm praying ours to be!  
I think if we, as parents, just slow it down, enjoy to moments, then days like today are filled with grace and thanksgiving.

Happy Learning with your Little Ones!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

What's with those Workboxes? Final part to series

So you have a little background to how we "do" workboxes at this house.  And if you missed it, be sure and check out the Part 1 and 2 of this blogging series.

And I wanted to end this series with a few of my favorite "go to blogs" and a few printables to get you started.
  • Purchase a craft cart or storage organizer for your work box station.

  • Print "worktags" for your boxes and attach them using velcro dots.
"Worktags" are the numbers listed on the front of each box.  Once your lil learner has finished that box of work, they remove the worktag to show that it is complete.  

Here's a few links for FREE printable Worktags:

  • Decide curriculum/subject matter you will stuff your boxes with

This is a great PDF to print to help in your decision.

  • Start implementing workboxes very slowly!  Don't stress over getting it all ready to go at once.  Honestly, I would introduce 1-2 workboxes a week until you and your little learner are comfortable with this system.  

  • Have FUN!  Learning with Lil ones should be fun!  Create excitement by switching out your worktags or adding play into your workboxes.
Feel free to email me with any questions you have about workboxes.  I am NO expert, but can lead you to those homeschoolers/blogs that are!  

Happy Learning with your lil ones!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

What's with those "workboxes!"? - Part 2

Welcome back!  I hope that my last post gave you some good insight on Workboxes and the way we use them around here.  Make sure you peek back at the Part 1 post if you missed it.

Part One - Workboxes

Now that J is "kindergarten" age, I see the importance of using the workboxes.  And the past 2 years, just taught me how I should alter and adjust to make these work for my kiddos.  If you google or Pinterest "Workboxes", you'll notice quickly that Homeschoolers have done just as I have - MADE IT WORK FOR THEM!

So here's some of my "Ah-Ha!" moments I have had over the years with on workboxes.

  • Each box that I plan must be a REVIEW for J.  (N doesn't do workboxes)  If I have taught it, this is a great way for me to assess what J has learned or what I need to reteach.  I have tried putting new concepts and skills into the boxes for J and it just turns into a frustration fest for us both.

  • I have marked the boxes to help me plan. (see labels inside boxes)

  • Some need to be fun; some need to be serious.  But overall, keep it simple!  My serious workboxes are usually assessments (which happens every month or so)
This workbox, J is using Halloween stickers to create Math equations or story problems.

  • Just add CANDY and "Work with Mommy" icon!  Wouldn't that make any Lil Learner excited about learning.
"Work with Mommy" icon is in the box, bottom right
Just add candy!  Fun vowel game with candy corn that we played to review vowel sounds

  • Less stress is best!  If I don't have workboxes planned for that week, it's going to be ok.  I just plan more 1-on-1 lessons. Because I don't use a specific Homeschooling curriculum, planning can get tricky and time consuming.  But no specific curriculum is our preference (for now)  I pull from the internet, my own files and my own teaching brain...that can be time consuming.  
I have tried to do lesson plans me old fashion, but the pencil&paper thing is all I need!
I plan in pencils and write updates and notes in red.

And there ya have it!  Alittle peek into how this workbox thing works for us.  Just keep in mind, it's been a LONG work in progress.  But that's what is so sweet about homeschooling - making it all work for you and your child!  You ARE their best and first teacher!

Stop by next week for a bunch of printables to get you started on your very own workboxes for your Little Learners.

Happy Learning! 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

What's with ALL those Workboxes? Part 1

When J was about 4 and N was 2...I pretty much knew that we were going to homeschool.  So I started researching and found the "workbox system".  

I knew that Erica over at Confessions of a Homeschooler was using them and I liked the idea.  
So I gave it a good go!

I don't wanna explain Sue Patrick's system, because it's complicated.  
But I will share how I use them in our homeschooling day - hoping to inspire you to do the same. 

Here's what our system looks like:

This is our current Learning Room.
Found this craft cart at Sams for $30 - by far the cheapest I've ever seen them.

Once J has completed a workbox - he pulls the "work tag" off and places it in his book.

This part of the system has remained pretty consistent over the years.  And how many workboxes J has to complete changes daily.  Flexibility is my main goal as a Homeschooling Mommy of 3 boys under the age of 5! 

I'll be first, this system was VERY overwhelming!  I felt like I was planning my pants off.  And now that I look back, my kids were TOO young to be doing the workboxes.  Doing away with workboxes would have simplified my life and their learning.  

Flash Back Pics!

Sweet baby boys!  So YOUNG!

But I've lived and learned...and I am glad I struggled through the process. Now, I can enjoy the workbox system that I've molded and made to work for my Little Learners.  

Looking forward to sharing what my planning looks like and give you a peek inside each box
 in Part 2 of this series.  So stay tuned!

Just curious...are any of you using a workbox system or one that is similar?

I would love to hear about it.  

Happy Learning with your Little Ones!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Last years treat to THIS year's treasure!

What a surprise I found in our Fall Bin of decorations!!!  I had actually saved a piece of writing that J  and I had written last year around Halloween.  It's title was "How to Trick or Treat".  

Last year, we wrote using a "Share the Pen" activity (I wrote, he wrote) because he was only 4 years old at the time.  He added some simple illustrations, we stapled it, and called it GOOD!

Picture from October 2013
When I found this simple piece of Writing THIS YEAR, I instantly knew what I wanted to do with it and I was so excited.

Because we've been working on "adding details to our pictures and words" during our Writing Time, this would be a perfect extension!

So today, we just added sticky notes with pictures of our ideas.  I even played like I was trick or treating to have alittle fun and spark some writing ideas. 

I also made sure that J looked at how his illustrations and letter formations had developed.  He was very proud of how far he had come as a author AND illustrator.

Here's a quick video of J talking through his writing.

Tomorrow, we will add the text to his illustrations.  
And eventually transfer it all onto white paper and add it to his original book.

Stay tuned for this lil learner's "published" piece of "How to Trick or Treat"
I'm sure he will have no problem reading it aloud to his audience.

Happy Learning with your Lil Ones  

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Meet THIS homeschooling momma!

I walked into our Monthly Homeschooling Meeting a few months back.  We always do a quick intros for before we start.

This Mom had just moved to Austin, mother of 3 kiddos AND....AND....a former teacher!

There she sat!  This is the Mom that I had been praying for.  God knew that I  needed someone that understood my craziness.  HE knew I needed someone that understood my frustrations and struggles as a "Teacher turned Homeschooler".  And there she sat, with a great smile...A sister in Christ, a homeschooling Mom and a new friend...

We were invited over to her home one afternoon.  And the second I walked into her happy, homeschooling home...I knew THIS was gonna be a special friendship!

I was trying to absorb all her wonderful ideas while 6 kids ran around playing Star Wars.  I wanted to know more, I needed to learn more...and that's exactly why God placed us together at His perfect timing.

I was so excited about ideas, I knew I needed to share them with all of you.  So enjoy this quick picture walk through Ms. Val's happy home.

Here's a simple schedule that she posts just to keep her kiddos on task.

  Ms. Val has these posted in her kiddo's bathrooms.
These are simple and so sweet!  Just want little learners need.

Once again...simple and sweet!  And I love the idea of working together, then coming to ask Mommy how they can offer a helping hand!
Here's the link to make your own simple and sweet Chore Charts:

What kiddo wouldn't want to see their awesome work displayed down the hallway!
So simple, so sweet!

Great Anchor Chart on Apples (which was their theme)
Here's her sweet purchase off of Craiglist to organize books and materials!  

This amazing mom has so much to offer!  You haven't seen the last of her and these "Classroom Teacher turned Homeschooler" ideas.  
Thank you sweet friend, for opening up your home for me to share with other Mom's of Little Learners!

Happy Learning with your Little Ones.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Our Week for YOUR glance...

It's been a F-U-N week, no doubt!  And we have taken full advantage of homeschooling and the flexibility you can have while doing it.

I've decided to try "year 'round" schooling, going 3 weeks on with 1 week off.  (A great friend is trying this with her homeschooling schedule and she loves it!)  And this week has been a great way to lead up to our "week off"...

We've spent everyday this week learning with other homeschooling friends.  Can't you call that "socializing"!?

So I wanted to show you OUR week for YOU to glance at...just to see how much we do enjoy the homeschooling life.

Monday - Christopher Columbus Day 2014 - Holiday/

No School for us because...

It's Daddy's Day off!!  Which meant "let's eat Pho (Vietnamese food)"
Spent alittle time at the park and just lots of fun with family.

Tuesday - PEMDAS/Science Club

We studied bones and how they make blood for our body.
 We even got the chance to make FAKE blood!

Wednesday - LEGO Club at our house - Transportation Theme

Here's our "Share Chair" session were each Master Builder gets to present their creation.  Others listen and then give compliments and ask questions.

Thursday - Learning with Team Chamberlain - 

This day will go down in our Homeschooling History books as one of the funnest!
We spent the WHOLE day with these kiddos and their fabulous mommy.
Val and I would trade off teaching, kids would take a "play break", then 
come back for another lesson.

Here's Val's Lesson on ordinal numbers using headbands for the kids.  
Followed by a fun read-aloud..."There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bat"

This was our candy sorting activity...
 Kids made a graph using their sorted candy to show "Least and Greatest"

Friday (tomorrow) - Field Trip FUN! - 

Headed to the Pumpkin Patch for some Fall Fun

So blessed and honored to have the title as Homeschool Mom!  
Not only are we learning, we are making memories together.

Happy Learning with your Lil Ones!

Tips for Hitting the Road with Kids

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