Friday, May 30, 2014

And Our Lists Goes On!

A great way to get your Little Learner excited about writing is to start with List Making.  We have been on a list making kick for a good month or two around here.  And I have been so excited to share one of J's list with you.

But first let me share with you how this list came to be...

J's obsessed with Super Mario Bro. these days.  He drew out each of the Mario Worlds/levels and labeled the characters (beginning sound only) and other important things.  ALL HIS IDEA!  I didn't "tell him what to do", I just made suggestions only when asked.  I was in the kitchen through the whole process, just washing dishes and doing what Moms do...

Title page - he wanted to laminate Mario and Luigi.
We added velcro so he could take them off and play with them.

 It was hard for me not start teaching using his idea, but I knew eventually keeping my mouth shut would help out later!  I have big plans for this book, you know!  But I needed to honor his idea so he could have that sense of ownership.

About a week later, he came to me with his idea.  He wanted to make a list of ALL the powers that Mario gets in the game.  Once again, this list was COMPLETELY his own idea...which made my heart BURST with excitement!
(Top) SpinyHat, Freeze Power, Mushroom Power, Fire Power, (blue) Penguin Power, (bottom) little power

It's not perfect (and sometimes that's hard for me to handle that) but it's hard work of MY favorite 5 year old!  He has the idea of making a list and showed me that without me asking him to do it.

When we finish any type of writing project or lesson, I also end with a few compliments and 1-2 suggestions.

Compliment:  "J, I love the way you wrote your list down the page!"

Compliment:  "J, I really enjoyed your illustrations...they helped me read your words!"

Suggestion:  "When you write a new list, maybe you could work on spacing (showing him his last 2 powers all jumbled)."

Even if it's scribbles that resemble "a List", that's a start.  And remember that YOU are their best teacher!  If you "model" this simple task, they will mimic you and surprise you when they do!  Invite your little learner to watch you make your grocery lists.  Create Birthday party guest list or gift lists together.  So many ways to get them writing and have fun doing it.

Happy Learning with your Little Ones!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

What's behind door #3? Planning closet and printable forms!

It's nothing fancy.  It's cluttered in some ways, but organized in others.  Here's a peek inside my Homeschooling Closet.  

This is actually one of the 3 closets inside our Master bedroom.  So lucky!   

This is a monthly white board that I bought at Sams Club and I am so glad that I did!!!  

Here's my monthly plan.  Thank goodness for wipe boards, because this is adjusted weekly.  I usually set it up at the first of the month, then alter it as the month goes.  Jeremy and I set monthly goals for the kiddos instruction.  I document those goals in a journal that I refer to when I plan.

This is my curriculum file cabinet drawer.  Yes, it's color coded!  I used to have these files in plastic filing bins, but found that just wasn't convenient for me.  

Here are some great planning tools that I was given by a leader (Thanks Jenny!) in our GROW Homeschooling group.
This helps you document what you've taught that year (or could be used to plan for the year ahead) 

You can download the PDF file for planning tools below.  

I am in the process of creating a Family notebook to organize our Homeschooling notes, To-Do list and such.  With J starting "kindergarten" in August, I will need to get alittle more serious about planning and keeping notes of what we've learned.  

Here is a great website (Thanks again, Jenny!) for planning sheets.  This Mama has a planning sheet for EVERYTHING!

Happy Planning & Happy Learning:0)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Moon Men

Today was a day I will always was one of those "good ole days!"  

It was fun, full of learning and excitement and oh-so memorable.

We started with a "Get It Done" Goal list.  

Why the list?  A few reasons:
*We needed this!  I feel like we have had so many things planned lately and haven't been getting them done...THAT has been driving me crazy!

*Gave me a chance to revisit "List making" using interactive writing -
 (see May 12th post)

*Open discussion about goals and why we do them and celebrate them.

Now, on with our great day!  
J had a Science Workbox to complete (and we have been putting this off for days).  It was using flour and play dough to recreate Astroids making Craters on the surface of the moon.  

The pictures speak for themselves:
Up-side down picture!  SORRY!  J created these different sized "asteroids"

Adding the flour/"Moon dust"

Dropping astroids to make craters
 And this lead to...BIGGER craters
 And that lead to...
Two boys, in a tiny plastic bin dumping and throwing flour EVERYWHERE!

Once that was cleaned up and lunch was eaten, we made Earth and the Moon using balloons, tissue paper and watered-down glue...
Dipping tissue strips into watered-down glue

Sticking them onto Moon balloon
Almost done!

J worked on the Earth

I didn't get pictures, but we hung the balloons up in the sun.  They dried and we popped the balloon so that all we have left was a tissue paper shell.  

We have big plans for this little model of our planet, Earth and our Moon.  Keep checking in on us...It's coming soon!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

MiniM's messy kind of learning

MiniM is ready to learn, in his own cute and messy way!  Every time he is in our Learning room, he crawls toward J's Workbox bins, pulls off the number card that is Velcroed to the front and then pulls out the drawer.

A 10 month old learning at it's finest!

So...this is what I made him!  

All it takes to make is:
*5 minutes
*Laminated paper stars
*Sharpie marker to write letters on individual star
*Velcro squares on the back of each star and on the wall 

 This simple activity helps with fine motor skills, introduction to letter identification and just plain fun for a 10 month old.

Happy Learning with your lil Ones!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Grocery Shopping Day! Let's make a list

People think that I have lost my mind (and give me THAT LOOK) when I walk through the doors at our local grocery store.

Yep...I have 3 kids!
Yep...they are all boys!
Yep...they are all under the age of 5!

And I say "YEP!  I shop with all 3!"

We were out of town this weekend, so that puts me behind on planning and doing.  I did have time to create a menu and make our grocery list on the ride home.  But, curriculum wasn't ready to go, laundry needed to be done, and we were worn out!

Ahhhhhh...the joy of homeschooling!  So we slept in, did some laundry and did a little bit of learning.

We used "writing a list" as our lesson for the day.

"Do I need a finger space in between my words?" Jackson asked.

I assumed he knew about lists.  He has word list, check list and chore lists...but we never talked about LISTS!  And I LOVE A GOOD LIST!

So, this opened the conversation about what a list is and what it looks like.  Why should you make a list?

Jackson used his Mario Game, the empty Milk jug and label from the egg carton to help him write his list.  

Sorry, this picture is upside down!  But this is Nixon completing his list.  He chose 3 things, because he is 3 years old.  Notice he is just writing the beginning letter/sound for Lettuce, Lunch-able and Yogurt.  Writing each word would frustrate the both of us!  I wrote the letter on the white board for him to copy.

Jackson's 5 items + Mario Gummies that he used his chore money to buy.  (Milk, Eggs, Celery, Apples, Tortillas (I spelled, he wrote) and Mario Gummies)

The boys carried their list around the store and found their items.  I even allowed Jackson to push a mini-cart around.  Something so simple, so fun to help N & J  hold an important purpose and teaches them a great life skill!  I challenge you to try it next time with your Little Learner.  And if you already do this, share your ideas!  I love learning from others:o)

Happy Learning with your Little Ones!

**Quick note!  If you have a non-writer...have them use pictures from th weekly store flyers to cut and paste a list.**

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

'What DO Yall Do all Day?" - Afternoon Sneak Peek

I hope you enjoyed seeing how this crazy-fun mess is run during the mornings.  If you missed our Morning Routine Sneak Peek (May 1st post), check it out!  I thought it would be helpful to break up our day into 2 different post.  Some of your kiddos might go to 1/2 day preschool, so it would be more helpful for you to see it this way.

12:30 - N Read and Rest (I read a book with N and tuck him in while J plays with MiniM in the living room)  N naps in Mommy&Daddy's helps to separate the boys to cut down on silliness.

1:00 - J Read and Rest - MiniM usually joins us for a quick read or plays **I set a timer and Jackson has to lay quietly until it rings!  If it's "one of those days", I turn that timer for a full 60 minutes.  It's all in my control!**  J rests in his room.  And some days, he does fall asleep.  He plays so hard and really needs it!

1:00-2:00 -  Quiet house - Mommy and MiniM time!  He goes wherever I go! Need to kitchen work?  He plays with magnets on the fridge or takes a "sink bath" for some sensory play.  Need to fold laundry?  He sits in the basket while I fold or plays in the room that I am folding in.  Yes, I talk to him!  It's the only time of the day it's just us and I eat it up!

MiniM playing with AWESOME magnetic gears from Lakeshore Learning!  
Our Learning Room is in the kitchen.  MiniM is exploring with plastic pegs (from Lakeshore Learning) and a
metal tin = FUN and NOISY! 

2:00 - MiniM goes down for nap; J gets up.  Still a "Quiet House" and J makes choice off the list pictured below.  J and I finish up his Learning Check List (later blog post) before everyone is awake!  If his school work and my Mommy work is all done, we play...just us! And we love it.  

2:30 - N wakes up; Tablet time for N and Wii time for J; Mommy time for shower, snack prep, quick clean up.

3:00 - J&N complete afternoon chores and Mommy starts dinner prep - since I cook most meals on Sunday, this usually involves getting it in the oven to warm or making salad & such.

3:30 - MiniM wakes up; we all go outside for snack and play

4:45 - Inside play or back yard play

5:00 - Daddy's home!!!

5:15 - Let's Eat, Pete!  Dinner is ready...time for some "Table Talk!"

6:00 - Dinner clean up/$$Earn Chores$$/ Family walk or bike ride

6:15 - J&N Math with Daddy 

6:30 - Play

7:00 - Baths; MiniM to bed

7:30 - BlessingsBooks and Bedtime

7:30 - 10:00 - SILENCE!!!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Oh Sweet Sunday!

  Sunday is supposed to be the day of rest...but not for this mommy!  It's the day of the week for planning and getting prepared for the upcoming days.  I find myself cooking, planning and running around like crazy!  But if it helps Monday - Friday go smoothly... it's so worth it!  If it saves me 30 minutes so I can play outside with my kids... it's so worth it!  If it gives me 10 extra minutes to rock a's so worth it!

  Planning our weekly menu, before hand, makes a HUGE difference in our afternoons.  Friday night, the hubby and I sit down to make our menu for the week.  I like his input and opinion of food!

 Today I spent about 4 hours in the kitchen.  Yes, it was interrupted by diaper changes, sippy cup refills, and nap-time tuck ins.  But meals are cooked for the week and ready to go!  

Since Jeremy is home, I try to take full advantage of having another adult in the house!  We usually grill on Sundays which helps keep the house cool and helps with cooking masses of meat for the week!

On the menu tonight = Meat and bacon Shish-kabobs, delicious grilled mushrooms, onions and bell peppers served over rice with a side of fresh pineapple.  So YUMMY!  We also grilled 10 chicken tenders to use in quesadillas later this week for the boys lunches.

 Meanwhile, I cooked up 2 lbs of ground beef to use for Shepherd's Pie and Taco Salad.

 I also whipped up some homemade cream of mushroom soup bc we had so many left-over mushrooms!  IT"S SO EASY and so much better than the can stuff.  Here's the link:
Homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup

I used this soup in my Shepherd's Pie meat/veggie mix that I prepped for tomorrow night's dinner.

Here's a snap-shot look at that recipe (it's my mother-in-laws):
Ground beef (1 lb), 1 cup of cream of mushroom soup, 1 small bag of frozen mixed veggies, topped with mashed potatoes and cheese.  Bake 350 for 30 minutes

Tuesday, I will use the rest of my ground beef for Taco Salad meat.  For now, it's stored in the fridge.  Tuesday around noon, I'll throw it in the crock pot on low with a can of pinto beans, can of chopped green chilis, and taco seasoning.  I also plan to mix in the left-over white rice from Sunday's dinner into taco meat mix.  Throw that on top of some lettuce and chips = Great Taco Salad!

Wednesday, I will do a whole chicken in the crock easy!

Thursday night is always left-over nights:0)  Because Friday we usually go out to eat as a family.

I am sure that life will get easier when the boys are old enough to help with dinner prep, but for now this is a time for survival and efficiency :0)  And this is one way I can keep myself prepped and prepared!

Would love to hear any ideas that you have for time-saving mommy ideas!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

So What Do Yall Do All Day? - Peek inside our morning!

Since our move back to Texas in December, we have be getting used to a new home which comes with getting used to a new schedule.  But 4 months later, it finally feels like home and that we are in a great routine!

I highlighted "Mommy and Me" instructional time in red and "Learning through Play" time in orange.  I was interested when writing this post, how much time we spend doing both. 

Our schedule HAS to be flexible and does change from day to day.  And overall, this is what we follow on our "At Home" days.

So many have asked "What do yall Do all Day?"'s a sneak peek inside our crazy, busy morning - hour by hour!

7:30am - J&N are up!  Quietly play in the their room until Daddy is finished working out.  Mommy         S-L-O-W-L-Y wakes up (I am NOT a morning person!)

7:45ish - I get MiniM out of his crib and fix breakfast.  Nothing fancy!

8:00 - boys begin breakfast and hugs&kisses to Daddy

8:30ish - Start Mommy and Me Morning Procedures like N's calendar and J's Daily Learning Notebook.  MiniM just hangs out in our Learning Room playing and rolling all over the place!

8:45 - Morning Chores for J&N

9:00 - Boys earned tablet time or watch PBS kids for completing Morning Procedures; I start a load of laundry and make beds.  Brush my teeth, MAYBE grab a quick shower (depends on baby's mood), throw on some clothes.

9:30 - MiniM goes down for nap; boys have playtime in the back yard.  (Check on gardens and play)

10:00 - Mommy and Me Lessons (J completes 2 workboxes; N completes his reading curriculum)
N's reading curriculum is from an amazing teacher turned super homeschooler and fellow blogger:  Here is the link to Reading the Alphabet:

10:30 - Outside PE for everyone!  (MiniM is still asleep!)  Mommy works out in the garage while boys ride bikes in the driveway, play soccer, pull weeds, or just play whatever!  

11:00 - Mommy and Me Snack time and 5 minute Reading Strategy Practice (MiniM usually wakes up)

11:05-11:50 - Lunch prep; Mommy chores like throw laundry in dryer; feed MiniM; J&N Free Play - usually end out outside in the back yard because of the lovely weather.  

12:00 - Lunch and watch Sign Time on PBS

Just wondering?  How does your day look?  Would love to hear some fresh ideas and thoughts!  Feel free to email or leave a comment below :0)
Happy Learning!  

Soon-2-be Post will be our afternoon schedule.

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