Monday, August 26, 2013

back to school picture

Incase you are new to my blog, I thought I better put this out there again. I never really thought I would send my kids to preschool.  I never went to preschool. I believe in homeschooling. But although most of the learning my kids do is at home and with me, last year and this year we have sent Bubby to a great preschool at a local church.

It was very helpful in getting Bubby to come out of his shell last year. It also helps me to have some one on one time with Bugaboo for his therapy/special needs.

Yes, I homeschool. Yes, I plan on homeschooling. But two mornings a week Bubby learns away from me. It's not for everybody, but it's for us.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The ABC Bunny - Five in a Row Style

I'm over a week behind in updating what we've been up to around here.  We had fevers. The Hubs started back to his third semester of nursing school.  Bubby started back to his two mornings out of the house for preschool. Bugaboo keeps on with his therapies. Awana started up again.  Life.

So here is the recap of us rowing The ABC Bunny. I didn't take very many pictures of this unit for the aforementioned reasons.

Once again I was surprised by how much the boys a) love the "old fashioned" looking books Before Five In A Row uses and b)love the repetition of reading it (nearly) everyday.  During this unit we read lots of ABC books. Bugaboo (yes, Bugaboo!) knows most of his capital letters, so I am looking for some lowercase ones. Both boys enjoy reading through new (and old) alphabet books, not just with this unit, but throughout the year.  Some of our favorite ABC books that we discovered the last couple of weeks:

  • An Edible Alphabet: 26 reasons to love the farm
  • Curious George Learns the Alphabet (has upper and lowercase)
  • Spot's ABC's (lowercase)
  • Z is for Zookeeper
  • Z is for Moose (we've read this before this unit, and we all love it)

I made a sensory bin with craft-pompoms we had on hand and crepe paper shredded. I threw some magnet letters in, and both boys enjoyed that several times this week. I am trying to push myself to do more sensory bins for Bug's benefit. They used spoons and measuring cups and tongs to scoop and dig.

Bubby and I "graphed" the names of our family using index card letters and the mini-pocket chart from Target's dollar spot. (Sorry, no picture of this. The idea I found thanks to Pinterest.) We watched Chicka Chicka Boom Boom on video for an extension of our ABC theme. That has never been my favorite kids' book, but the boys like it.

Just like many weeks, the boys played with the LeapFrog letters on the fridge and the wooden blocks with letters. I am finding most activities that have a worksheet feel to them I don't want to do with my kids. I think worksheets are fine for handwriting and reinforcing math, but I can't justify using a bunch of ink to print off a bunch of things I don't think my kids will be into. I may change my mind on that, but so far we are not too big on worksheet type of activities.

For another sensory and ABC activity this week I let the boys draw letters in shaving cream.  With Bug I just wanted him to make circles and lines. For a kid who usually craves input, during our OT sessions he hasn't liked the shaving cream activities. So I was pleasantly surprised at how much he liked this.  He even smiled! It is usually so hard to get him to smile for pictures, but not this time.  I encouraged Bubby to write his name and practice his letters, but it wasn't too long before he just wanted to play in it, too. Fun times for all.

Sidenote: Due to Missouri legislation, I no longer have/can be paid for Amazon affiliate links. I think this is unconstitutional, but any links attached to my blog which could have had a financial contribution for my family no longer will do that at the end of this month.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Not Back To School - School Room Week

This is the second week of the Not Back To School Blog Hop. It's school room week. We do not have a school room for a few different reasons:
1. My children are still preschool age.
2. My house has does not have the extra space or room for a school room.
3. My budget does not have the space for a school room.

I also believe one of the best things about teaching my kids at home both now and in the future is that life is our classroom. We spend a lot of time playing and reading books in the boys' room. We also read a lot on the couch.  We do art projects and math at the kitchen table. Our school supplies are kept in The Hubs' office.  Some of the supplies/resources are on top of the boys' dresser and some are inside the dresser. (Their clothes also take up some of the dresser which, yes, is in The Hubs' office - evidence of a small house.)

Play-doh, paint, and glue are stored above the fridge for obvious reasons. The boys have lots of books in their room. We have favorites we read all of the time together and board books the boys will "read" with or without me. This weekend I even rearranged the shelves a bit to get out the early readers because Bubby may be ready to read them in the not-to-distant future. We also have puzzles and other fine motor/educational toys on the shelves and in nooks and crannies.

This week I made a calendar board for Bubby. Of my six years teaching in public school, I only spent one in first grade. One of the things I did not enjoy was calendar time. However, Bubby is obsessed with knowing what is going on in terms of time/schedule, so I thought maybe this would help. He also likes calendar time on the two mornings he goes to preschool, so with resources from Royal Baloo, 1+1+1=1, and my own preferences, I created a calendar board. We will use it in the morning in Bubby's room or at the kitchen table, but it will be stored in the office because our dog would probably chew it up.

The map I just taped up in a nook in the boys' room. I've had it since my first year teaching, but I just got it out as Bubby has also become interested in where things are. We will use it during calendar time and from time to time when we read stories.

So that's our not-school-room for not-back-to-school. Like everything else in my life, so far it seems simple and efficient and no-frills. Someday there may be frills for us, but not today.

(sidenote: I did not clean up every piece of clutter in the boys' room for these pictures. Just keeping it real here, friends.)

Friday, August 9, 2013

My Blue Boat - five in a row style

(Disclaimer: Post includes affiliate links. If you make a purchase from the links, my family is blessed to receive a small portion which goes into our family budget.)

The last two weeks have been full for us. I finished up my last week of baby-sitting. We have had a couple of extra appointments on top of our usual weekly ones for Bugaboo. There have been play-dates with other moms and kids from church. Each time Bubby has come home happily caked in dirt or mud.  We have also been soaking in the last days of summer before The Hubs returns to being a full time nursing student on top of his counseling job. This has meant trips to the pool. Bubby and I also spent an afternoon at our local hands-on children's museum.  So it is easy to see why it took us two weeks to go through My Blue Boat.

This book was simple and sweet. We had natural conversations about new words (harbor, swell, fleet). Bubby liked the story each time we read it, and he was fascinated with the lighthouse. Bugaboo is starting to become obsessed with letters, particularly the letter O. Therefore, we did "O is for ocean and O is for octopus" to go along with the book and his favorite letter.

Here is our "O-octopus" made from supplies we had on hand. Bubby worked on coloring withing the lines, which is not his favorite thing. I was pleasantly surprised how well he cut out the outer circle for the O.

We also worked on fine motor skills. Bubby traced/painted W's and O's using paint on Q-tips. He is not a fan of using a pencil to work on letters, so we have used this method in the past. It works so-so in my opinion, but he enjoys it. Bug wanted to use a paintbrush with his fingerpaints, and later had a meltdown when he was using his fingers to paint. Ah, sensory issues.

I had high hopes to make boats, do some sensory water play, and even make a cute Solo cup whale I saw on Pinterest. But we did not. Bubby and I drew a boat out of crayons to work on drawing simple shapes, and then we water colored over it. He loves to paint, so he sat there for quite awhile trying to cover every spot with blue paint. Usually he likes to do his own thing and paint with all the colors, but today he stayed with the blue shades for the water/sky. I couldn't believe it. He did choose to make his boat orange instead of blue like the book or brown like I suggested.

We read books about ocean life for our non-fiction selections.  To go along with My Blue Boat we also read The Puddle by David McPhail and Max Lucado's The Boy and The Ocean. Bubby really enjoyed that one, so we read it more than once.I am really enjoying the flexibility and ease of doing learning activities based upon book suggestions of Before Five In A Row. Next week we will be looking at The ABC Bunny to build on Bugaboo's interest in letters.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

"Not Back To School Blog Hop" 2013-14 Curriculum

So I think I can call myself a homeschooler now. Much like everything else in life, there is no perfect label for me or what I do. However, I am excited to share what I am planning on doing with Bubby (4) and Bugaboo (2 1/2 with special needs) this school year on this blog hop.

I feel like I must first mention I don't do anything extremely formal.  All of the resource I use I only use on the days Bubby is interested. I follow his lead, and his interests because he is a preschooler. For instance, he didn't want to work on learning to read this week, so we didn't. We just did our normal read lots of books together and play a lot. Everything is a learning activity when you are four and two. Or thirty-two.

2013-2014 "curriculum"

  • The Ordinary Parents Guide to Reading - This is simple. No bells and whistles. It works for us at this point. I feel it gives a strong phonics foundation. I also write the lesson he is to read on notebook paper because the print is kind of small for my four year old's focus. We also use Bob Books and other phonics readers from the library from time to time.
  • Math-U-See Primer -we are only a few lessons in - Bubby loves working with the blocks. He also likes the worksheets which is funny because he is not a worksheet or coloring book kid in most other circumstances.
  • Handwriting Without Tears - Bubby is not a fan of writing or coloring. He would paint every day if I would let him. I am hoping this will be a painless introduction into handwriting since he can sound out/spell simple words, but he has no desire whatsoever to write them down.
  • Before Five in a Row/Five in a Row literature and activities. We started these books and activities this summer, and we love them.
  • For family devotionals we are using the Wondrous Works of God. I am also pondering using the Bible Road Trip (the preschool level).
  • Bugaboo, even with his mysterious delays, has really picked up on letters for some reason. Therefore I plan on doing some informal letter activities with him, as well as of course letting him participate in Bubby's activities as much as he wants and is able. We will keep working on his speech and language goals, his sensory activities and fine motor skills  for OT and gross motor skills for PT.
  • I also send Bubby to a Christian preschool two mornings a week. It allows me to get some one-on-one time with Bugaboo. I feel it helps him not feel left out since Bug goes to a lot of therapy activities where Bubby just has to sit, watch and be quiet.
Mostly we just spend a lot of time in our house reading books together, singing, playing. I am blessed that I get to stay home with my kids and take this type of a role in their education. Everything is flexible. My main goal is to help both of my boys with their strengths and their weaknesses and to instill in them a love  of learning.

Friday, August 2, 2013

there are other things to learn besides phonics

This week Bubby hasn't been interested in going forward with any reading "lessons." I could try to force the issue or guess the reasons why he says, "No thank you," when I ask if he wants to learn to read today. But the simple fact of the matter is he is four. We have the next several years for reading lessons. There are other beautiful lessons to learn each day.

So we keep doing what we do best - which is spending time together. We are reading books about boats and sea creatures this week, but we honestly haven't even done that the last couple of days. He has been playing a lot with his cars, trains and Legos this week. My favorite part of that is how Bugaboo plays with him or parallel to him.

Life is full for us even in the simple things. Between therapy sessions on Wednesday, we go to the big library. The boys climb on the turtle, play with the puppets, and we sit on the bench and read some books.  Bubby likes being able to use the self-checkout with a little help from me.

I am mindful of the need to soak in the goodness of having a four year old.Yesterday I watched him play happily with an assortment of friends on of the families' backyard fort/slide. I was glad to see my introverted little boy engage with a crowd of kids. He was sad when it was time to got, and it was a great way to spend a chunk of our Thursday.

 This morning our family of four went to the pool, and we pretty much had it all to ourselves. Bubby was finally brave enough to let us get him up to his chin in the water. This is progress.

I think I am writing this to remind myself to not just always do the activities that are my children's strengths. Go with their interests and enjoyment. Push them out of their comfort zone a little. But most importantly embrace the simplicity of the lesson of just being together in the everyday gift of lifelong learning.