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!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

5,4,3,2,1! Fun ways to count backwards

I had a mom ask me if I had any fun ways to teach kids to count backwards...which is actually pretty tricky when you think about it.

I don't think I have ever had a "lesson" on this with J &'s just part of our morning routine with calendar.  I also do lots of counting backwards when I push them in a countdown for a rocket blast off!

Here's how we incorporate counting backwards on a daily basis.

A BIG hundreds chart is a MUST!  
 A poster-size 100's chart is important for Little Learners to see how numbers 1-100 are organized in their specific pattern.  I prefer this over a 8x11 100's chart...bigger is better = doesn't this grab your attention rather that a paper chart laying on a desk!
Grab some High Lighter Tape or some Wikki Sticks to help and add some fun! We use this yellow Wikki Stick to help us keep track of how many days we have been learning....

which leads me to....
(this picture that is turned sideways - sorry!)

N and I have been counting forward till our 100th day of school, which is part of his morning calendar routine.  You can see we color in a pattern.  (at day 50, we decided to change the pattern to a tricker pattern)  BUT if your little learner needs help with counting backwards, then start with 100, and count backwards to 1.  If you don't see any point in celebrating 100 days of learning, then celebrate 10 days, 25 days or 50.  Adjust to what YOUR learner needs!

 This also goes along with N's and J's morning calendar routine.  Below, this number chart always matches our hundreds chart and our 100 day countdown.

If your learner is struggling with counting, dissect it for them.  Show them how the "tens" stays the same, but the "ones" changes...until you add another rod.  This can get complicated in explaining because I have my own way of teaching.  (I can always throw out a quick video on FB for you to see!  Just let me know)

Make number lines!!!!  Another great and fun way to work on counting forward and backwards.  Use a car to drive or a toy to jump and count.

When this mom came to me with this "counting backwards" question, I started asking myself how I would go about teaching this concept in a lesson...
Here's what I came up with:
Write a number line starting with 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99 

Have your learner start at 99 and jump and count backwards...
side note: I am a HUGE fan of chalk and outside learning time.  Getting all those different parts of the brain working together and OUTSIDE, really helps any type of learner, right?

 Add an index card "8" to change the place value, 

 Have your little learner run back to 89 and start counting back down again.
Then throw down a "7" card to change the place value and so on.
I guess you could say this is an advanced hop scotch kind of game.
Does this make sense?

And one more quick and fun way to practice counting backwards...
Make a countdown for ANYTHING - Birthdays, vacations, dinner dates, special visitors...
Here's a countdown for our Colorado trip a few years ago.

Here's our October calendar - Counting down how many Days until Halloween.

I hope this helps, inspires and encourages you to learn (and count in fun ways) with your Little Learners!

Happy Learning!

Friday, October 3, 2014

A Peek inside Our Day!

This post was meant for yesterday, Thursday, but the day got away from me...hmmmm, I wonder why!?
I took yesterday off - canceled learning!  Well, kind of...we still read books, played Legos...but I put MY lesson plans aside.  My throat hurt, MiniM was snotty and needy - so I threw in the towel about 9am when the coffee just didn't get it done.

SOOOOOOOO, today was much better and we sprinkled learning throughout our day.  And here's a peek inside our day!

First, a yummy breakfast off our menu - FREE CHOICE!!!  Kid's favorite!

After a much needed bike ride to get out our wiggles and reset, we began updating our calendar.

15 minutes of "sprinkled learning" -
 built a Month of the Year Ladder with our month labels; N fixed the numbers and worked on left-to-right progression.
Took a quick play break, while I started some laundry and did some dishes.

No pictures of this:
But spent 10 minutes practicing our weekly Reading Strategy - "Does THAT make sense?" while eating a snack

Everyone grabbed their Reading materials
N worked on this curriculum with Mommy; while J gave a new book a "5 star review" in his Reading Journal; MiniM just walked around from room to room, doing his thing.

J decided to read his new book to us (even handed out tickets at the door), which led N to do the same!  MiniM just listened and absorbed!

After our Reading, kids played while I prepped lunch.
Then we went outside for our "progressional project"...building their skeletons.  Each day they get a new bone(s) in their bone bags.  They lay them out in their chalked-out self on the front drive. 
Sprinkle of Learning - 10 minutes!

Play outside, then eat lunch.
And rest time...I do make sure I read with each kiddo individually during this time.  We spend ALL day together, so these moments are sweet - just me and them.

J rests then is allowed to wake up and play quietly until I am ready for him.  And this was his creation he made!  A police watch station - very cool!

N and MiniM are still snoozing - so J and I add another page to his cabin book.

And we do alittle dinner prep and perimeter lesson using crescent rolls. 15 minutes of learning fun!

Just add sausages and you have....
PIGS IN A BLANKET!!! (It was breakfast for dinner night!)

While I wake up the lil guys, J picks a quick workbox using Q-tips and flashcards.  
He adds a "bone"/Qtip each time he completes the flashcard.  
Sprinkle of learning - 10 minutes

Everyone is awake - and our Learning Time is done for the day.

A Sprinkle of Learning here and there; makes for a fun day with time to play!

Happy Learning with your Little Ones!

Tips for Hitting the Road with Kids

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