Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Spider Lesson Plan for Preschool (Includes links to FREE printables and instructions)

     This is SPIDER WEEK!  I have been so excited for Spider Week since it is a great way to wrap up Charlotte's Web, which we finished reading a few days ago. And it is a perfect transition into my Halloween curriculum for October.

Below is a general layout of my Spider Unit curriculum for preschoolers.

- The Itsy Bitsy Spider (One of my favorites to sing instead of just read!)
- Little Miss Muffet Counts to Ten


  ^^^I created this printable because I felt the unit study needed an assignment that encourages creativity.  It occurred to me that most preschoolers are familiar with the song "The Itsy Bitsy Spider."  This printable allows for young children to fill in their own ideas and create their own version of the song. Your child can dictate their ideas to you, and it does not need to rhyme or make sense. That's part of the fun! Don't forget to sing it out loud for your students. ;) Enjoy!
SPIDER SNACK (Ritz Crackers, Peanut Butter, Pretzel Sticks, & Raisins)


- Netflix --- Scholastic Storybook Treasures: Amazing Animals (Includes Diary of a Spider)

- Make a web from yarn (Cooperation & Self Worth) You need multiple participants for this one.
- Spider Ring Game (Math & Probability)
- Spider Web Walking (Coordination & Balance)
*Great link to a blog with 30 Spider Activities for Kids

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Wilderness Explorer Trail at Disneyland

     Did you know that there is an entire wilderness experience at Disney's California Adventure?  I am so excited to have discovered this portion of CA Adventure! Seriously though...what a great idea!
     It is located right across from the Grizzly River Run ride and it is called "Redwood Creek Challenge Trail." An activity map is provided to all participants.  The activity map guides you through the trail indicating six tasks that should be completed to earn your Wilderness Explorer badges.  Once all the badges are earned, the kids are directed to the camp circle where they are sworn in as Senior Wilderness Explorers. The kids get to meet Russell from Disney's movie UP and possibly catch a glimpse of the very rare bird named Kevin. It is all unbelievably adorable!!
     The trail is appropriate for the whole family but the activities and badges are targeted toward children under the age of 12.  We took our girls through the trail and they had the time of their lives.  Even Dylan, my toddler, had so much fun crawling through caves and climbing rope bridges.  Marley, my 4 year old, is not quite 42 inches tall yet, so she was not able to do some of the activities like rock climbing or zip lining. But there are so many other activity options that earned her those badges.  She was so excited to complete all the tasks and earn all 6 badges on her activity map:
1) Tracking
2) Bravery
3) Rock Climbing
4) Wolf Howl
5) Animal Spirit
6) Puzzle Solving

     Marley's favorite part was entering the "spirit cave".  My girls were able to spot cave drawings and place their hands on an enchanted part of the cave where it indicates which animal spirit you are.  Dylan was an eagle, and Marley was a fish.
     I found the whole experience very enriching.  The surroundings were not authentic in terms of actual wilderness, but it was a beautiful and kid friendly substitute.  We all got some great exercise doing all the activities and obstacles.  And Marley was able to learn about completing tasks to earn badges.  I highly recommend doing this, and it can easily be part of your homeschooling curriculum. Our whole family loved it!  Well done Disney!

Monday, September 22, 2014

BODIES the Exhibition & A Toddler Tantrum of TITANIC Proportions!

     Thanks to a wonderful event called "Educator's Day," we as homeschoolers were able to plan a field trip to BODIES the Exhibition and TITANIC the Experience in Buena Park, CA...free of charge!  I had been wanting to visit this place for years, so I was very excited about the opportunity to take my family.

     The BODIES exhibit was very cool! Real body parts dissected and preserved for study, are placed on display.  My daughter Marley (4 years old) said the faces were "gross and creepy" but she liked seeing the muscles and brains. This photo, to the right, of the skeleton was taken just before I was informed that no photography is allowed in the exhibit. Oops.
     All the body parts were quite fascinating and we allowed our kids to look around and ask questions as they desired.  One of my favorite moments was when Marley noticed the male genital part and said, "Oh look mom! This one is a boy." I replied, "You are correct. That is a boy."  My toddler Dylan liked seeing the heart parts and whenever she saw what looked like blood, she said "Eww! Gross!" Haha. My silly Dyl-ee.

     After we were finished with the BODIES portion of the walkthrough, we went through the TITANIC experience where we were given boarding passes (of real people) as if we were passengers.  I was particularly interested in this part.  We watched a video and heard historical accounts of what it was like to be on the Titanic back in 1912.  The tour guides were dressed in authentic looking costumes and spoke with European accents.  We were able to sit in a room that replicated the lifeboats on the ocean, and we watched a CGI Titanic sink while sitting there.  It was a fun theatrical experience.  Both my girls were pretty attentive most of the time. But their favorite part was a room where there was a giant ice block made to look like an iceberg.  It was the one thing we were allowed to touch, and the girls kept running their hands across the ice for a long time.   Here is Marley posing as if she is about to walk up the Titanic staircase (on the right: she froze in that position just to take a picture), haha. She had a great time!

     Now...what I didn't mention before is that in between the BODIES and TITANIC sections, Dylan had a major meltdown out of nowhere!  I knew before we arrived at the location that we were treading on thin ice since she had skipped her nap that day.  I was hoping she wouldn't get cranky until after we left around dinner time...WRONG!  I was also hoping that if she started to get cranky at the museum, she could be consoled with snacks or being carried...WRONG AGAIN!
     It was one of those times when you don't remember how it started.

  • What set her off? I don't know. 
  • How did we get to this point?  Again clueless.  
  • How was I able to keep my composure and not toss the little monster in my minivan and take off?  I have no earthly idea!  

     I only remember the screaming and the faces of nearby people.  Luckily, I had my calm, collected husband with me.  He is always a good influence on me, because he is able to laugh at crazy stressful situations and just enjoy the moment.  Thats right! I said enjoy the moment.  Sounds strange, but we let her do her worst and we filmed some of it, while we smiled at people and employees walking by.  A few people looked shocked and uncomfortable, but most people would either walk over her flailing body and ignore her, or they would walk around her and laugh.  I really appreciated the empathy most people showed.  It was an amusing and adventurous little moment.  Wait, did I just say little? Well, Tantrum Part One lasted about 15 mins.  Tantrum Part Two, which took place in the car ride on the way home, lasted about 35 mins.  So we are looking at almost AN HOUR of kicking and screaming.  Thank heaven for parental sense of humors. ;) Care to see about 50 seconds of emotional chaos?  Check out our video...

     Ah, memories. LOL.  Funny thing: Dylan calmed down so quickly in the car when we played back the video for her.  She watched herself kick and scream and cause a ruckus.  She was completely captivated and silent while she watched the video over and over again.  I told her, "Oh that is so sad! Isn't that sad that Dylan is crying?"  She replied "So sad."  I believe it provided a learning opportunity for my toddler.  Stepping outside of your situation and observing your actions is often a valuable life lesson.  I wonder how we would react if we were able to playback some of our frantic moments. Ugh. That does NOT sound pleasant, does it? Haha.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Ebook Review & TWO GIVEAWAYS: 60 Homeschooling Tips From 60 Years (Two thumbs up!)

Interested in purchasing this ebook for only $5? Click here to view more details   

     In all honesty, I was not expecting to be so intrigued, reaffirmed, and inspired by this book.  It has all the basic elements of what you look for while trying to homeschool, with an overlying tone of faith and spirituality.  Homeschooling is a difficult task, but with the right faith and hope, it can be a glorious and rewarding adventure for your family.  This book discusses the heart of those efforts and rewards.

     Kathie Morrissey & Donna Reish, have a combined experience of 60 years of homeschooling.  These ladies know their stuff!  It is obvious they have been through most of the scenarios and trials of homeschooling.  Through their powerful love and faith in Jesus Christ, they have managed to work through those trials with grace and peace in their hearts.

     The book has an excellent format that is refreshingly easy to read.  Each tip only takes up a page of explanation and is straightforward and to the point.  This makes it easy for readers with short attention spans (like myself!) to get the main focus of each tip.  Because it is formatted in such a simple and user friendly manner, this book is one that I will go back and re-read or reference in the future.  I even noted several tips throughout the book and told my husband to read those certain numbered tips.  In the past, when I've asked my husband to read a book, he rarely gets around to it.  In this case, it was easy for him to skip right to certain tips in the book and read them and discuss them with me. Even my husband was impressed with the book. It led to several thought provoking discussions as homeschoolers, parents, and spouses.  We both received valuable insight from these tips.  It was great!

     - I received notable ideas such as, "compensation techniques...for non-readers and non-writers...providing audio materials galore, reading aloud four to five hours a day to them, and taking dictation of their spoken words."  I love that this facilitates educating through creativity and adapting to self paced learning.
     - There were some tips that helped define what I have already been doing, which allowed me to expand on the concept and gave clarity to the idea. For example, using the "bus stop approach for multi-level teaching."
     - Quite a few tips offered in this book are essential reminders to creating a happy family and homeschool environment.  "Don't compare your homeschool or family to another's."

     These ideas and tips would definitely benefit any homeschooler, but some of this book leans on a religious background or a strong faith in scripture.  I do have a solid religious background, so the occasional quotes from scriptures had a very positive effect on my heart and mind.  Personally, I feel it is through a spiritual connection that homeschooling is a beautiful success.  

     I highly recommend this book to any homeschooler! As you will see and understand by reading this book, homeschooling is not only about educational advancement or academics.  Homeschooling can be a path to stronger family relationships of love and respect.  Kathy and Donna show us in their book that they were not only encouraging their children to become great scholars; they were also providing a way for their entire family to grow together to be happy, successful, Christ-like human beings.

**NOW I am authorized to GIVEAWAY two digital copies of this fabulous book.  Here are the giveaway details:
 - GIVEAWAY entries will be accepted Sept 19th through Sept 27th.
 - The two winners will be contacted via email on Sept. 28th.
 - Choose 1 of 6 options to enter the giveaway.  1 entry will give you a chance to win, and if you choose to do more than one option, your chances to win will be higher!
 - Click on the link below to be entered in this giveaway, and good luck! I am excited to share this book with you.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

AND NOW to celebrate the launch of this ebook Character Corner is offering a Grand Prize Giveaway of a $300 value! Check it out by clicking the link below.

Register to WIN at The Character Corner

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Enduring Some Bad Days of Homeschooling

- Sweltering hot weather..
- Husband out of town..
- Pregnancy hormones..
- Lack of sleep..
- No quality time to myself..
- Screaming, cranky, disobedient children..
- Homeschool?..forget it..

Sometimes I want to SCREAM! Sometimes I lash out at my kids! Sometimes I want to run away!  Sometimes I'm just D-O-N-E!
...And I've barely started homeschooling.

     The last few days have been horrific.  I have never yelled so much or sent my daughter to her room so much, ever!  I have felt like an awful parent.  I was talking to my husband on the phone, telling him I think Marley is purposely at war with me right now.  I can't ask her to do anything without a battle.  I ask her to sit down to eat, she says "No, I don't like that food!"  I ask her to clean her room, she says "I don't want to!"  I ask her to please stop bugging her little sister, she says "I'm not bugging her!" as she continues to yank on her sister's arm.  Pretty much everything she knows she isn't supposed to do, she has been doing non-stop for the past two days.  Yesterday, I barely managed to get the minimum school work completed that I had planned for my daughter.  Today, school just didn't happen.  Way too much defiance and struggles were being worked out.
I've been angry, sad, confused, tired, exhausted, and just plain helpless.

     Today started out bad, but I had an epiphany that got me thinking.  Trials are there for us to grow and progress.  As much as I have resented the past couple days, I was bound to get some sort of wisdom out of them.  I prayed for guidance and wisdom and comfort.

My prayer was answered.---

---After a significant battle with my daughter, I went into her room to talk with her about her disobedience.  This is what I normally do after she has been sent to her room for a while.  I discuss what she has done and why it was wrong and how she can be better next time.  She normally says "I'm sorry" and " I won't do it again" and I say "Ok" and we walk out of the room together.  But this time I was INSPIRED to do something out of the ordinary.  After the talk was over, I looked her in the eye and said, "Marley, I forgive you" and I gave her a hug.  She embraced me tightly and she began to cry fervent tears.  ~She had never done that before.~  I can't even write about it without crying.  I was so moved by how much those words touched her heart. We both cried and embraced for about a minute.
The rest of the day went by so smoothly, I just couldn't believe it!
     I told my husband about what had occurred, and his reaction was, "Wow. That was smart.  A clean slate is a powerful thing."  I can't say that it was smart, because it was more of a last minute spiritual prompting. But the words "I forgive you" had been very powerful.

     I found myself realizing that this is part of what homeschooling is about.  One of the blessings of homeschooling is the strong family bond that results from more time together.  Not always great, loving, or exciting times.  Families are not naturally close and perfectly happy.  A strong family relationship results from overcoming the roadblocks and obstacles that arise.  The bond is created by learning about each other and working together to get through hard times.  

     My daughter and I had a very rough patch together, but we both got through it with a better understanding of love, respect, and forgiveness.  In the end, I am grateful for the rough days and the opportunity to endure those days with my family.

"Behold, we count them happy which endure." (James 5:11)

Monday, September 15, 2014

Farm Field Trip 2014 - Link to Educational Worksheets for Kids

     This past weekend we were able to visit a local farm to go along with our Farm Animals theme for September.  So I had to dress my sweet Dyl in her spiffy little overalls! Haha.  She got to sit on a real tractor and feel awfully special for a few minutes.                               
     The highlight for me, as the educator, was the cow milking demonstration.  The girls saw them wash down the udder and hook the cow up to the milking machine.  We saw the milk get transported through clear piping to a refrigerated system.  And Marley pointed out a poster nearby indicating with a flow chart how the milk gets to the grocery store.  It made me so happy to see her focusing on the educational aspect of the farm.  I think it helps that we watch a lot of "How It's Made" on Netflix.  Haha.

     The girls interacted closely with the calves, because the cows walked over to us quickly and began mooing loudly.  The girls really liked this part and were convinced those baby cows wanted to be our friends.  

     I think the most surprising sight at the farm was the peacock and the peahen.  I did not expect to see peafowl there, but it was cool and we sat down and watched them for a while.  We learned that the male peacock is the one with the colorful feathers, where the female peahen does not have them. Apparently that is so the male can attract the female with it's more beautiful feathers.  Interesting!    
     The farm had all kinds of animals: Geese, Chickens, Chicks, Roosters, Pigs, Cows, Goats, and Sheep.  There were many others, I just don't remember all of them.  The farm also had so many fields of different crops. 
     It was a very fun morning and we experienced the farm with much interest.  Since we had already covered sheep and pigs this month, I was able to review some facts with Marley and she impressed daddy with her knowledge.  I guess you could say it was a fun way to do a pop quiz without any pressure or intimidation. ;)
     On the farm's website I found several printable educational worksheets to go along with the farm experience.  It was a perfect way to go home and review what we had seen and to continue the educational value of the trip.  Click here to view the farm worksheet options.

Chestnut Grove Academy Field Trip Friday Blog Hop

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Disneyland Counting Book - FREE printable template

     In honor of the annual "Not Back To School Day" at Disneyland.  I would like to share a fun preschool or kindergarten activity that we did at the Magic Kingdom today.  This activity was an adventure for the whole family. It also gave Marley the opportunity to apply counting, math, search skills, drawing, tracing and the experience of creating her own book.

     I told Marley she would be creating her own counting book from things that we see at Disneyland.

  1) While exploring and enjoying rides, we found objects around us that corresponded with the numbers 1 through 10.  I helped her with this process.  By the end of the day (even after we completed the assignment) she was pointing out everything she could count.

  2) I took pictures of the objects, so that we could refer back to those pictures at home.




 3) When we got back home, I prepared a traceable template for her to use as a base for her book.

 4) I wrote in the missing words and titled it "My Disneyland Counting Book." I had Marley trace the title and numbers.

 5) I asked Marley to illustrate her own version of each object we found.  This is when referring back to the pictures helped. (I decided to insert the pictures into the document so that she could refer to them easily and it added an official look to the book)

 6) Once it was completed, I stapled the left side in 3 separate spots to create a quick binding.

     It was a drawn out process, but very enriching in many ways for both of us.  I was very impressed with how much the assignment engaged Marley. She was very focused and said, "This is a fun project."  Marley enjoyed the tracing and drawing portion very much, and she now has a cute little memento from Not Back To School Day 2014.

     Marley made her counting book about Disneyland, but counting books can be themed for anything or anywhere: the grocery store, a playground, around the house, etc.

Here is my free printable for your child to create their own My Counting Book.

     I hope some of your children can have fun with this assignment!