Sunday, December 27, 2015

Looking Back...

I felt like it was just August and I was planning the beginning of our 2015 homeschooling year. And now, we are ringing in the new year, ready to launch our Spring “semester”.

So many wondering things have happened and so many amazing things have been learned.  Our family has learned how to embrace the flexibility of homeschooling over the past few months. And we took a BIG leap of faith by launching our school year in Colorado at our family cabin.  

As we moved into October, we had big plans for burritos and 2 brothers.  We had submited a “business plan” for The Acton Children’s Business Fair at the end the month.  I knew it was going to be fun but never expected we would have learned SO much through this one experience.  
Leaves are starting to fall and the weather is getting cooler.  So what did we decide to do?  Head for the beach!  Once again, we embraced the moment and headed south to Mustang Island, Tx.  The beach was empty, the weather was perfect and the learning was fun.  

This was a giant shark that I drew in the sand without any of it's fins.  We had been learning about the different shark fins and their purpose.  They drew the fins on to complete our "Sand Shark".

A week prior to our trip, we began our Shark Lapbooks.

This simple experience ignited a love for learning in my 6.5 year old. He has become obsessed with learning about Sharks…all due to this family field trip. 

I planned to take our learning too (and my in-laws) I can’t think of a better way to spend time as a family than with these two, lovely people.  They were the ones that suggested homeschooling to us in the first place.

We even made time for a rainy day field trip into the Aquarium.  And who would have thought... they had a special exhibit on SHARKS!   

As the calendar turned over to a new month, I was starting to realize time was going WAY to fast.  We were about to celebrate our first born that was turning 7 years old…how could that be? 

Birthdays are a BIG deal. (probably because I make them that way!)  With so much to do, I decided to invite J into planning for his own party.  After all, he does know WAY more about Minecraft than I!  

I put “schooling” on the back burner for a few days.  Instead of what I had formally planned for school, we:
*researched and picked-up FREE boxes for “real Minecraft backyard building”.  
*shopped online for materials to make the Nether Portal
*Used Google Drawings to make Minecraft Food Labels for the party.

*We made a VERY tough piƱata together.

But most importantly, he discovered how much I love to plan parties and how much I love him.  That sweet boy told me over and over how thankful he was that he was homeschooled so that he could help me plan and prepare his own party.  THAT’S WHAT IT IS ALL ABOUT…AMEN?  And it’s the memories and connections that we made as mother and son.  He will remember these moments so much more than a phonics lesson or math assessment.  

We’ll have plenty of time to get to that in the new year...

Wishing you and your little learners a blessed 2016.  Remember to love always, learn a little and play a lot!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Why we went to having a Screen-free WEEK!

Our September vacation to Colorado impacted our lives in so many way!  And if you need to revisit my posts about that experience - there are the links:

This amazing cabin holds an awesome secret that we discovered will change the way we set up our tech-time at home.  
Get this...THERE'S NO INTERNET SERVICE!  Yes, you can hike up a small hill about the cabin, if you need to make a call.  But you can't just turn on a tablet or flip up your laptop just to check your email or play a quick game of Minecraft.

Not having THIS luxury for 2 weeks really changed our lives. 

We connect more, talked often...we found ourselves NOT needing anything... but each other!

But THIS was the biggest discovery!  We watched our kids imagination come to life - NO internet needed!

These were the ONLY toys the boys had all week!  It's amazing how they made up games, created stories and interacted with just one, small basket.

So my husband and I decided that this needed to carry over into our daily life back at home.  We decided to make "tablet time" more of a privilege than part of our routine.

And this is how we did it...

We have this assignment board that tells the boys what they are expected to do for learning that day.  And each assignment is worth a number of points that is undetermined until AFTER it's completed or taught.  

I base their points on attitude towards the assignment, focus during the process and their finished product. 
Make sense?

After dinner, the boys are responsible to add up their points and document them...on this:

Click here and download your FREE printable!

On Friday evening, they total up their weekly points to see how much screen time they will get to use over the weekend.  Some weekly totals have been small and they know exactly why!  Some weekly totals have been BIG and we celebrate that with high fives and tablet time! 

Do you remember waking up on Saturday morning, pouring a GIANT bowl of Lucky Charms and watching these until your parents stumbled out of bed!?

Well, our learning point system seems to be working the same way!  Our kids wake up early and are SUPER excited to have the PRIVILEGE to use their well-earned tablet time.  

My husband and I get a chance to wake up slowly and enjoy some Saturday morning quiet time while the kids enjoy theirs.  

All inspired by a simple vacation that forced us to UNPLUG!  And we sure have enjoyed getting back to the simple life.  No more asking if they can play IPad!  No more arguments about when and who gets to play.  It's all posted here for ALL to see...

Is this a system that you could see working in your home?  If so, I'd love to hear about it.  Feel free to leave comments or questions below!

Happy Learning with your little ones.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Got Gingerbread? You Gotta do this!!!

I randomly bought a packet of 4 gingerbread boys at HEB today.  $2.45 - SOLD!  

I knew I wanted to decorate them with my boys this year and this was the easiest (and cleanest) way to get this done!  I am all about making messy memories - but a nasty sickness is going around our house.  I just needed something easy!

And this was lil packet was perfect!

This packet came with 4 gingerbread cookies!  One for each boy (I have 3 boys, if you haven't figured that out by now) and one for ME, right?  

No thanks!  I'm not a big fan of gingerbread, so THIS is the idea that came about and I hope that you can join in on the fun!

The final #4 Gingerbread Man will be apart of my kids lives for 1 week.  (Similar concept to the Flat Stanley idea)

They will decorate that #4 Gingerbread Man together and we will place him in a ziplock baggie.  
Wherever they go, that Gingerbread Man will go!

And we are going to document it all with Iphone pics, drawn pictures and journal entries.

I can not wait to see what he "looks" like after a week with us!  Park play, bike rides, walks to the library and so much more!

I created this cute printable, just for you, to help you get started!  Have fun, learn lots and make memories along the way.

Printable with lines

Printable with NO lines

Be sure and check back here for our Gingerbread Man adventures!

And be sure and post yours on our facebook page!

Mommy's Little Learners Face Book Page

Happy Learning - there's LOTS to learn with you are little.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Word Wall - but not on a wall?

In elementary classrooms, you'll find a GIANT word wall that students can use during reading and writing time.  And it's just want it says... a WALL covered in WORDS.  These are usually basic sight words that kiddos need to reference because they are tricky to sound out or spell.  

(For a great list of basic sight words...check out this resource from Lakeshore Learning)

Back in the day, when I was still in "teacher mode" rather than "homeschooling mom mode' (yes! there is a difference)...I had a word wall in our Learning Room.  It was beautiful and BIG!

We had only hung names of our family members (with pictures) at this point.  J was only 4 and wasn't reading.
This wall had its benefits - like exposure to the alphabet, visual formations of letters and a reference for kids when we were discussing words and family members.  

Now, we are in a different house and kids are older!  My schooling style has changed and I honestly don't feel that we need one wall devoted to just words. (plus my husband might kill me!)  So this is how I helped with the adjustment.  And maybe some day, when I have a space designated for just "schooling", I might devote that one, lovely blank wall to just words.  But for now, we learn EVERYWHERE and this "wall" can move with us.

Personal and Portable Word Walls

This sweet, little thing can go ANYWHERE!  We keep it in the Writing Area or hanging up by our computer.  J uses it ALL-THE-TIME!  I have taken words that he can read and writing them in this book using a fine-tip sharpie.  As he learns more words, we add them.  **Remember, this is a resource that is for words that can't be phonically sounded out.  Refer to that link above for examples**

Below, he is using it to write a letter to our elderly neighbor.  

J also uses it when he types emails to friends and family.  So I have a hook that he can use to hang it up on above the computer.  This really eliminates the "MOM!  How do you spell...."  which can get frustrating with you are playing and teaching other kids in the house.  

My sweet friend saw our portable word wall and created her own that is MUCH cuter.  So feel free to download that here, print it off and get started!
 Portable Word Wall Printable Freebie

If you take your colorful copies into a office supply store, they will laminate and bind it for you at a good price!

Happy Learning with your Little Ones.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

A Peek inside our Week

I hope you have had a great week!  Ours has been exciting, fast and blessed.

Here's a quick peek inside our Homeschooling week.


I got the awesome opportunity to speak on behalf of the homeschooling community in Austin Texas.


After our morning calendar and quick must-dos, we met up with some other kiddos and went hiking!  It was beautiful that morning. 


This is a out-and-about learning day.  Here's our co-op group using problem solving strategies combined with team building to "to get across the swamp to the island".

That afternoon, I drop off J's at his Saints PE class.  Snooze and snuggle with the lil guys while J is at class...then do a quick 1:45pm Tuesday Scope using the Perscope App.

Here is my REPLAY link

Afterwards, we ALL head to the skate park before dinner.  Those boys sleep SOOOO good on Tuesday nights!


Days at home are my favorite!  We started our Shark Unit Study and this was a great morning for measuring shark lengths out on the side walks. 

That night, we drove dinner to a mom/wife of a Veteran.  We ate, played and enjoyed each others company.  Even made cookies for desert!


Things were off to a rough start!  We had stayed up LATE and woke up early.  But after a few cups of coffee and some backyard play time, we were all set up for a successful morning of learning.

We added to our Shark lapbooks.  

Learned how to use tracing paper...
 Painted a shark...

Then snuggled in bed to read books! (Daddy was out of town!)


Tomorrow, we are taking our learning to the park with other Homeschoolers.  Just a chance to enjoy the beautiful weather, meet new friends and learn somewhere fun!

I'll be sure and post a few pictures from this great event!

Happy Learning with your Little Ones!

Monday, November 9, 2015

The Burrito Brothers - The BIG Business Plan!

On October 31, 2015, my young business boys suited up and sold 60 breakfast burritos in record time!  

All the prep work had been done about a month before and it blew me away how this one experience taught our whole family!

And if you miss the post on how this all came about - check it out here:
How it ALL Began!

Let me start from the beginning of our successful business plan....

We knew we needed a logo for this business and he wanted to make it unique!  So we called up a sweet 10 year old friend that has some mad-skills in Art and he created this...
It's it awesome!  We even decided to take the logo one step further and ordered t-shirts!  

If we were going to make and sell breakfast tacos, then we needed to know what "good" tasted like and how much they were going for. We knew that the price of eggs had gone up.  Something that we learned when we visited Ken's Tacos for a fun & tasty field trip.

Our tasty test at Ken's Tacos.  
We also stopped by El Faro for some breakfast tacos.

We made sure to study and notice where their menus were located and few other fine details.

We made a budget with brought out a SERIOUS MATH LESSON!  And created a "time line" to keep our business plan on track.

Back to the "price of eggs on the rise"... we wanted to invite a 5 year old friend that has backyard fresh eggs to partner up with us.  This would help with the cost of our eggs AND make them super tasty!  So our sweet friend donated 3 dozen eggs AND created her own logo to advertise with at the business fair.  

 Throughout the month of October, J learned how to use Google Drawings to create his own menus.

I incorporated making change into our monthly math focus.  One morning, we even had Jackson set up a Dollar Store.  MiniM and N were customers.  Perfect learning in every way - Imaginative Play for all while learning how to give correct change back to costumers.

Next up, was a Taste Test at Toybrary Austin!  This was GREAT practice for J to use his business-man words to sell his samples.  That kiddo brought home $11 in tips from his tip jar.  We couldn't believe it!!!  J and N decided to split that money.

October 30 had arrived.  That meant one thing (on that VERY rainy day!)...LET'S MAKE SOME BREAKFAST BURRITOS, BOYS!
And everyone needed to help!

It took a good 3 hours to make them all!  But the next day, October 31st, we found out all that time and effort was worth it!

Stay tuned for the next post, The Burrito Brothers - The Successful Business Fair

Tips for Hitting the Road with Kids

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