Friday, January 30, 2015

"My Family" Preschool/Kindergarten Lesson Plan

     We did a week of "Family" themed activities.  This was a very generic subject, but we had fun talking about family members and what they mean to us.  We also briefly discussed how to make a family tree and we made a basic version of one.  Genealogy is am important part of our faith.  We feel it is so important to know about our ancestors and to keep record of their lives, culture, and progress.  I also taught Marley the importance of journals, which made me realize we need to put together a journal for her.  To be continued on another blog post ;) ...

Here is my outline for our "My Family" lesson plan:                        

PICTURE BOOKS:
- Are You My Mother?
- Daddy Did I Ever Say? I Love You, Love You, Every Day
- Song and Dance Man
- All Kinds of Families!


EDUCATIONAL BOOKS:
- Who's In My Family?: All About Our Families
- Me and My Family Tree


WORKSHEETS:
- Big or Small
- Family Counting
- Creative Writing: I love my ________ because...
- Semi Circular Family Tree
- Make Your Own Printable Handwriting Worksheets

A confused look on Marley's face.  I told her to practice writing her name.  After starting, she stopped and said, "Hey, this is not my name.  This is YOUR name!" Haha.  Just keeping her on her toes. ;)

Preschool, Family Tree, Kindergarten
Handprint Family Tree
ART/CRAFT PROJECTS:
- Family Tree
- Family Magazine Collage


GAMES/ACTIVITIES:
- Family Bingo
- Family Memory Game
- Mommy Says (Like "Simon Says")

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Pants Refashioned to Lace Trim Shorts

   
     What do you do when your little girl is so active that she thrashes her clothes?  Throw them away...or make them work.  Today I attempted to make them work.
     These grey pants from Old Navy had gnarly holes at the knees, so I cut right above the holes and hemmed them to be shorts.  When I put them on Marley, she asked if they were boy shorts, haha!  I said, "No, they are girl shorts, but we can make them look more like girl shorts."  I rummaged through my sewing supplies and found some cute lace trim.  Perfect!  I just added the lace trim to the ends and it made all the difference.  Marley loves her new shorts.  Her response was, "Oooh, these are so cute!"  Such a girl!

 

 So we ended up having a lesson on being resourceful and creative with clothes.  It was a nice project I could do beside my daughter for Home Ec this week. ;)


Monday, January 26, 2015

Field Trip to Creamistry! Ice Cream Made with Liquid Nitrogen (Science Fun for Kids)

     What better way to engage your child in a scientific activity than to eat some ICE CREAM!  We heard about a new way of serving ice cream.  Some places are specializing in making the ice cream right in front of you by freezing it with liquid Nitrogen.  Science experiment meets ice cold deliciousness.   Sounds perfect!  For our Family Night we decided to do a field trip to our local Creamistry.  Before we went, I did a basic explanation of elements and Nitrogen to my daughter (almost 5).  Obviously this kind of information won't sink in completely, but I think it's appropriate and respectful to try to explain things to young ones.  I told her we were going somewhere to see how liquid Nitrogen works.  She was excited, and she didn't even know we were going to eat ice cream.  I wanted to keep that part a surprise. ;)  She even asked, "Can we go get ice cream after the science experiment?" Hahaha.  We said we'd think about it.
     She had the biggest smile when we walked in and she saw all the yummy toppings.  Her dad enjoyed explaining the process to her and giving a few quick facts about Nitrogen.  And when the liquid Nitrogen started going, it was all smiles.  Marley loved the whole thing!  And our whole family loved eating the finished products.







Here are some awesome educational links that can supplement a field trip to Creamistry or Sub Zero Ice Cream.

Periodic Table of Elements for Kids

Elements for Kids: Nitrogen

Nitrogen - Quick Facts

Liquid Nitrogen Science Experiment (YouTube video)

Nitrogen Frozen Whipped Cream Experiment --- Makes your kid look like a dragon! :)

Things To Do with Liquid Nitrogen

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Joys of Cardboard

     What is it about cardboard that makes us homeschoolers excited?  Every time I see cardboard, I want to store it away and do something creative with it in our lesson plans.  I say, "Why are you throwing away that perfectly good box? ;)  Toilet paper rolls, paper towel rolls, big boxes, small boxes...we see possibilities and can't quite put our finger on what they are. Haha!

Here are some fun links I found to help guide our imaginations:

- 101 Things To Do With a Toilet Paper Roll
- 22 Kid Crafts for Toilet Paper Rolls
- Toilet and Paper Towel Roll Crafts
- 101 Things To Do With a Cardboard Box
- 30 Cardboard Box Crafts
- Cardboard Box Crafts
- Egg Crate Crafts
- Egg Carton Crafts for Kids
- What Can You Make From An Egg Carton?

Ready?..Set...CRAFT!



Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Sibling Rivalry - Does It Ever End?

     My daughters have recently developed a routine of playing happily together for a few hours and then out of nowhere being at each others throats.  They are only 4 and 2, so it isn't too bad.  Just a bunch of screaming and taking toys away from each other, and a whole lot of..."Moooooommmyyyyyy!  I don't get it.  But I never had a sister.  I only had one brother, and we got along all the time.  I don't ever remember fighting with him.  Our personalities worked well together, because I am a very proactive and passionate person whereas my brother has a very passive laid back personality.  He usually went along with what I said.  I guess that made it easy for us to get along.  But both of my girls are very stubborn and willful.  They both know what they want and stick to it.  I have talked with a few moms and they say it is normal.  Oh good!  But still, it drives me up the wall to hear them screaming at each other and fighting.  Especially when one moment they are best friends, like this...

 ...And the next minute is a "Stay on your side!" kind of day, like this...

     I try to encourage using calm words to express feelings. But when emotions are running high in a house with three females, things get a little crazy pretty fast.  We all end up yelling.  It's not good.  And obviously, sibling rivalry can make homeschooling quite challenging.  Not much can get done when they are in each other's space and antagonizing each other.  To us moms it seems so easy---can't they just get along?!  Why isn't it easy for them?
     So here is what I want to know:
     How do all you moms out there deal with sibling rivalry?  What situations have you faced and what have you learned from them?  Does it magically end one day?  I'm only a couple years into this adventure, so give me your bits of wisdom, and wish me luck. ;)

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Homeschool Sick Day Lesson Plan


     My babies are sick. :(
     Coughs and colds and fevers are circulating our home and it's time to take a day off.  We had lots of plans today, but now the only plan is to rest and recover.  Marley reminded me of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood where he sang "When You're Sick Rest Is Best."  The episode is available here on Youtube and is called Daniel Gets A Cold Mom Tiger Is Sick.  I laughed and realized she had gotten a little bit of wisdom from that show.  TV can certainly be educational sometimes. ;)
Preschool Lesson Plan     Today we cuddled up on the couch with some juice and watched some fairy tales.  Luckily I had stocked up on some fun picture books at the library yesterday.  We read lots of books and I let the girls play My Little Ponies most of the day.  We didn't do much homeschool or educational activities, but I did sneak in a sensory/cooking activity by teaching my girls how to make play dough (<great play dough recipe I found).  Marley helped with measuring and adding ingredients.  I even added a few drops of peppermint essential oil to the play dough, which is said to help reduce fever (Two birds, one stone!).  It was a nice quiet low key activity and the girls practiced working as a team by taking turns kneading the dough.  But the real lesson of the day was learning how to take care of ourselves when we are sick.  It's tougher than it sounds.  It's not so easy making a toddler and a 4 year old relax.  Seriously though, where do they get the energy?? Meanwhile, mommy is dying for a nap.  Haha!



Saturday, January 3, 2015

That AWFUL Day When I Couldn't Be A Mom

     For a little while I didn't think I would make it.  Honestly.  About 2 weeks ago I had the biggest meltdown I've ever had.  I was at home with my three children: a sassy little 4 year old girl, an energetic tantrum-ridden toddler girl, and my 2 week old newborn baby boy.  My husband had gone back to work, so I was on my own.  And I don't ask for help.  Even when its offered by generous friends, I don't often accept help.  It isn't about feeling bad or about being afraid of help.  I have always been a stubborn fighter.  I don't like to feel like I can't handle things on my own.  I have an overwhelming urge for independence and self-reliance.  Dumb, I know.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with accepting help.  Especially when you really need it.  I needed it! But ya know...I'm stubborn.

     One day it was all just too much.  You know that day.  The day when you can't function because you are crying too hard.  The day when you look back at your life and think, "What happened?"  The day when you want to run away and never be heard from again.  I called my husband balling and saying he needed to come home because, "I can't be a mom anymore!"  He let me cry and vent.  If I had pushed it, he would have come home, but I didn't.  I am stubborn and I didn't want to feel like I needed his help.  So I hung up the phone and went back to my crazy day.  I cried on and off all day long. ---

The baby needed to be fed, I cried.
My toddler's diaper needed to be changed, I cried.
My girls started to fight, I cried.
Sometimes for no reason at all, I cried.

     Breastfeeding had been very rough.  The overwhelming pain and suffering felt like it would never go away.  I wanted to give up. But I fought and I fought hard.  I grit my teeth through the pain and tears, while my screaming girls tried to kill each other over the My Little Pony sitting on the couch next to me.   I couldn't move.  Partially due to pain, and partially due to being "stress-paralyzed"...yes, that is a thing. ;) (Name that reference in the comments below.)

     I was at the end of my maternal rope! I finally decided to ask for help, and I prayed.  I prayed several times throughout that day.  I asked God to make the pain to go away.  I asked for the girls to just be quiet!  I asked for the comfort that I was going to make it without being the worst mom in the world.  I asked for a lot that day.  Cry, pray, feed baby. Repeat.
     That day will NEVER be forgotten.  It was a low point in my life.  I had never before really questioned motherhood.  That day I did.  I was ashamed of it at first, but my prayers were answered with the comfort that those days are completely normal.  It does not mean we are bad mothers and it doesn't mean we are weak or can't handle life.  It means we are delicate human beings with physical and emotional reactions.  These things are what allow us to learn and progress.  When we make it through those days, we do come out feeling stronger.  The week after that day, I took all three of my kids out by myself and let me tell you...I felt like a super hero and like I could conquer the world.  Just going for a drive and knowing that I made it through that awful day, gave me so much confidence and satisfaction.
Photo credit: Abinante Photography
     This is my little Desmond ("Baby Des").  This beautiful boy is so precious.  His sweet smiles and cuddles remind me that all the awful days are worth it.  I can do this! We all can do it.  We just need to remember that it's okay to crumble sometimes, and it's okay to ask for help.


 

SchoolhouseTeachers.com - An Online Collection of Homeschool Curriculums {Review}

SchoolhouseTeachers.com Review

     I started out 2015 with some great news! I have been given a Yearly Membership to
SchoolhouseTeachers.com.  It is such a fun website with loads of educational resources for homeschoolers.

     I have a 4 year old and a 2 year old who I include in my daily lesson plans.  This online curriculum program is appropriate for all ages, so it was a great place for me to explore.
   
     LAYOUT
     The website is organized nicely so that you can browse all the courses and resources by subject or by grade-level.  There is also an archive where all the lesson plans can be found in alphabetical order.  I found it easy to explore the website and find things I could apply to my own homeschool lesson plan.  I sifted through some subjects and courses that I wasn't interested in, but I found many I had never even thought of using.  Regardless of my interest level, I found that each course was thorough in it's purpose.  If you are looking for a detailed guided curriculum that is already laid out for you, these courses and lesson plans offered will provide you with daily step by step instructions.  The variety of subjects and methods of teaching are also helpful to homeschoolers (like myself) who like to piece together their own lesson plan.
     Attention Type A homeschoolers...This program also provides printable checklists where you can keep track of courses taken and the progress made within each course.  Ooh, love that feature! ;)
   
     CONTENT
     I spent most of my time utilizing the resources in the section titled "Schoolhouse Preschool."  Everything in this section is applicable to my children.  I utilized only a few different lesson plans, but I would definitely go back and reference all the resources to inspire other ideas.
     The course called Sensory Learning for Toddlers is a basic curriculum that provides activities by each letter of the alphabet.  This is the most popular way to educate young children, so I think this is a "go-to" course.  If I ever felt stressed out and lacking creativity, I would go back to doing Letter of the Week teaching.  It is simple, but having the letters and activities laid out for you is great!
     One course that I was very excited to use is Figures In History.  I am very interested in history and I am always looking for ways to pass that knowledge along to my preschooler.  It is not easy to find educational resources of history for young children.  I was excited to have found the section on Joan of Arc, because she is one of my favorite historical figures.  This course provides summarized historical accounts, coloring pages and standing cutouts which my daughter loved coloring and making.  While she colored I read the details provided about Joan of Arc and I engaged her in a discussion.   That evening, Marley was able to briefly describe who Joan of Arc was to my husband.  He was very impressed.
     Another section called PreK: Read & Play provides a list of popular children's books and activities that correspond to the story.  We chose to read If You Give A Mouse A Cookie, a family favorite.  Marley was more than pleased to hear that the lesson plan consisted of eating cookies.  She asked, "We get to eat REAL cookies?" Haha.  Yes, real cookies.  Obviously we do a lot of pretend play in our home.
She also enjoyed playing the role of the mouse and drawing a family portrait just like he did in the story.  It was a fun literary lesson and it was all planned out for us thanks to the easily accessible course. Yay!

     EXTRAS
     There is also section called "Test Your Knowledge" which provides a variety of quizzes in many different subjects.  These are more for older students, but as I clicked through the quizzes, I was intrigued and I would love to utilize those for my children when they are older.
     But wait! There's more! ;)
     I was pleased and surprised to find what is entitled "This Month's Menu."  This is where SchoolhouseTeachers.com goes above and beyond homeschooling needs.  They provide daily recipes for an entire year.  What?  Yup.  We all know that when you homeschool, there is even less time for meal planning.  Maybe some of the recipes are not perfect or exactly your taste, but when you are just homeschooled out, done for the day, and need someone else to think for you, this is a great back up plan!

     PRICING
     I think the pricing for this program is pretty reasonable considering the vast variety of resources provided.  They have a monthly membership for $12.95 per month or a yearly membership for $139.  And they do offer a FREE 30-day trial, so you can see if this program is a good fit for you and your family.

     OVERALL
     I really enjoy this program because of it's diversity.  I like to pick and choose my own lesson plans and this online curriculum website provides so many resources for me to look through.  I was able to use many of their courses directly and some of the courses I didn't use gave me ideas for other activities as well.  I will definitely continue to use this website and I will be recommending it to others as well.


SchoolhouseTeachers.com Review
Crew Disclaimer