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Monday, August 31, 2015

Thematic Wall Decorations- America

With each weekly unit, I try to have pictures or posters on the wall which help to introduce our topics and remind the children of important things we learned during the week.  This set of pictures will be hung up during our "A is for America" week the spring.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Summer Theme: John Deere

We had a birthday this week.  Skimmer turned 3!
This was the cake my mom and sister made for him.  It was a train with 4 sections, which stretched out about four feet.  It was pretty amazing.

As part of Skimmer's birthday celebration, I asked him what theme he would like to do for Mommy School this week.  I suggested train, since that was his birthday party theme.  He insisted on John Deere.  Trains would have been easier- we have a lot of trains in the house.  Instead, I "followed the child" and did a tractor theme.

This is how Skimmer spent most of the week- outside in the dirt with his new John Deere tractor.  He's come in covered in dirt every day this week.

The problem with a "John Deere" theme is that we don't have any tractor toys (except for the big one in the other picture).  The kids were asking for a sensory bin so I gave them this one with green rice "grass" and a few bugs from the Safari toob.  They didn't care it didn't have any tractors in it.

The inspiration for this sensory bin came from remembering my granddad's coffee breath.  He was a farmer.  I used instant coffee, a dropper, and a few bugs.

Books: Fantastic Farm Machines
            Johnnie Tractor Saves the Parade
            Farm Machines
            I Drive a Tractor
            One Tractor: A Counting Book
            Following the Tractor
            Tractor Day

Other ideas: mud painting
                    tractor washing
                    tractor coloring page
                    construction paper tractor picture
                    tractor kindergarten pack

Friday, August 28, 2015

Science Notebook Printable- Milk Tasting

One of the activities in Dragonfly's Science Notebook and Skimmer's Scribble Notebook this year will be a "milk taste test."  The simplest way to alter the milk is with different flavorings.  I plan to make chocolate, strawberry, and plain for our test.  After the kids have tasted all three of them, they will record their favorite in their notebooks.  I made a simple worksheet for them to fill out that outlines these steps.

You can download if for free here.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Science Notebook for Preschoolers

As I said in a previous blog post, I have a science girl in the family.  In order to encourage and direct her interests, I'm adding a "Science Notebook" to our plans for next year.  I'm listing the planned pages on this blog to help me organize them and to make them easily accessible throughout the year.  Of course, if you see something that you'd like to use for your kids, then go ahead and grab it.

The first page of the notebook (pictured) is an introduction.  I wrote for her, since she's not writing yet.  The text says, "My name is ___.  I am 4 years old.  I am a scientist."  I also had her draw a picture of herself.  She drew herself as a little baby and then as a "grown-up."  I had her glue the drawing into her notebook and explained that we're going to be doing a lot of coloring, cutting, and gluing this year in Mommy School.  This little project was a great introduction for our materials and how to use them. I also plan on reading the book "What is Science?" with her soon.

Here are the rest of the pages by theme:

apples- life cycle coloring and pasting (free on TPT) and parts of an apple (free from A Little Pinch of Perfect)

milk- taste test (DIY) and parts of a cow labeling (free from TPT)

trees- parts of a tree coloring (free from the Helpful Garden) and trees in season labeling (free from the Helpful Garden)

seeds- germination experiment (free journal from Teaching Mama) and parts of a seed (free from the Helpful Garden) and life cycle of a pumpkin (free from Montessori for Everyone)

insects- ant and lady bug life cycles (free from Lapbook Lessons)

rain- color mixing chart (free from Adventures in Kindergarten) and rain cycle (from Two Teaching Mommies)

fire- fire safety book (free from Every Star is Different)

ducks- sink/float experiment (DIY) and duck family (free from 1+1+1=1)

eggs- butterfly (free from Lapbook Lessons) and frog life cycles (free from TPT or here)

ocean- sea turtle life cycle (free from TPT) and parts of a fish (free from the Learning Parade)

universe- planet order pocket (free from 1+1+1=1) and planet mini book (free from TPT)

harvest- label a turkey (free from TPT)

cookies- candy cane experiments (free from TPT) and cookie science (free from TPT)

babies- human life cycle (free from Education.com) and nativity labeling (free from TPT)

night- nocturnal animals lift the flap (free from TPT) and comparing day and night (free from TPT)

king (week of Christmas)- gifts to Jesus drawing (free from TPT)

giraffe- parts of a giraffe book (free from TPT)

vehicles- will it roll experiment (DIY) and community helper's vehicles (free from TPT)

laundry- bubble solution experiment (DIY)

winter- measuring snow (DIY) and melting ice experiment (DIY)

jungle- 4 things needed in a rainforest book (free at Tina's Dynamic Homeschool Plus) and food from the rainforest recipe (free at Artful Parent and DIY) and the snakeskin/glue experiement

Penguins- life cycle of a penguins and parts of a penguin

Yarn- parts of a sheep worksheet (free from TPT)

T-rex- paleontology dig (DIY) and parts of a paleontologist (DIY) and dinosaur mini books (free from Kids-Dinosaurs.com)

Lollipops- gummy bear science (free from the Homegrown Preschooler) and rock candy experiment (recipe from Paging Fun Mums)

Monsters- self-inflating monster (idea from Artsy Momma and DIY) and slime (recipe from All Things Simple)

Food- what happens when food is cooked (free printable from A Mom With a Lesson Plan) and magic milk (recipe on P is for Preschooler)

Desert- Cactus experiment (seen on Stay at Home Educator) and the life cycle of a snake (free from Kid Zone)

Resurrection (nothing planned)

Idaho- my world mapping activity (free printable on Every Star is Different)

Nests- chicken life cycle (free from Learn Create Love) bird labeling (free from TPT)

America- color the regions (DIY)

Earth- landforms book (free from TPT) and land/water coloring page (free from Hello Kids)

Hat- oobleck experiment (free at TPT) and states of matter sort (free from TPT)

Garden- parts of a flower (free from 123Homeschool4Me) and what plants need (free from Corkboard Connections)

Body- my fingerprints (trace hand and stamp) and "about me" book (free from TPT)

Pirates- parts of a pirate (DIY) and pirate ship experiment (DIY)

questions (open to what the child wants to learn, so not planned activities this week)

Zoo- what is a habitat (free from TPT)

Juggle- balance experiment (free from Primary Science)

Quilt (no science planned this week)

So, there it is.  Mommy School officially starts on Sept. 8th.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Our 2015-2016 Classroom (decorations)

I still get very excited about back-to-school sales every summer.  One of my favorite things to do with school supplies is to decorate with them!

The crayon art board is an 11x17 canvas from Walmart and two and a half 24 packs of crayons.  I took out all the non-rainbow colors, including pink, and lined the rest of the colors up according to the rainbow.  All the colors have two crayons each, except for the main colors, which have three.  I used a hair drier to melt the crayons, but a heat gun is better if you have one available.

The crayon box on the wall is empty- I just thought it was fun.

This wood tray came from Goodwill.  It holds our globe, microscope, and a vase of dollar store flowers.  The vase is a clean tin can with pencils hot glued to it.  It took just under 40 pencils to cover the can.  The tray sits at the very top of our shelves when not in use.

Another school supply that I've used for decorating is clipboards.  I hang them on our walls around the room and use them to rotate signs and quotes throughout the year.

I shared earlier this month how I used rulers to make a border on my calendar board.  *Here's* the link to that post.

Although it isn't exactly a school supply, the above poster was bought a Teachers Pay Teachers and is new this year.  I printed it as a "colored blueprint" from Staples, which cost me less than $5.

Hope this inspired you!  How do you decorate your homeschool classroom?

We're linked up!
Christian Montessori Network

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Build-a-Letter Pieces

I realized this morning that I never posted my build-a-letter packets on this blog.  I had uploaded them to the cloud drive, but hadn't done anything else with them.  For shame!

Available In
- plain black
- radical purple
- harvest orange
- dinosaur themed
- jungle green
- ocean blue
- night sky

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Summer Theme: Construction

We're not schooling as much this month, since I've been focused on getting our schoolroom ready and finishing up all my unit planning.  I had planned a bunch of fun things for a construction week, but we didn't end up doing any of them.  Here's what we did instead:

Dragonfly (4) spent one afternoon playing with homemade play dough and carefully cutting it into bunches of tiny pieces.  The play dough was peppermint scented, so it made the house smell really nice.

This was Skimmer's first time using scissors.  He did very well.  He also enjoyed running his trucks through the dough and making tracks.

While the other two were cutting play dough, Skimmer (22 months) learned to poke sticks into holes.  The container is a Walmart brand crystal lite drink canister.  He put the sticks in and dumped them out.  Putting the lid on was challenging for him because of its shape.  He did the whole series of activities with the car in his mouth because he was afraid that his brother would steal it if he set it down.

I finished my Montessori-inspired Number Rods this week.  Slowly, I'm getting us all set up for the next school year.  The rods are half inch dowel rods cut down to increment lengths from two inches to twenty.  True Montessori Number Rods are done in graduated sizes from ten centimeters (about 4") to one hundred centimeters (or 40").

Our "Pink Tower" arrived this week.  Here is Tadpole stacking the blocks by size.  He found so much satisfaction in building the tower and giggled every time he completed it.  As his parent, it was really fun to watch.

This is another picture of Tadpole working with the tower.  The table isn't the ideal place for him to build, but it did help he and his siblings take turns with the new "toy."

Construction Books
- Good Night, Good Night, Construction Site
- Who Swings the Wrecking Ball

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Handwriting Help for the Do-It-Yourself Educator

As I have been preparing for a new school year, I've been doing many wild goose chases through Pinterst and Google in search of the things I need to make my school run smoothly.  Since I am a do-it-yourself educator, I've been searching primarily for "pieces" that I can use, rather than already assembled kits.  Here's what I've found that's free:

handwriting charts from 1+1+1=1 (many fonts and types)

Free Fonts
- KG Primary Italics which looks the most like DNealian script
- KG Primary Penmanship which is the regular "stick and ball" letter formation style
- KG Primary Dots for tracing
- Ulusa Okul cursive font
- KG Traditional Fractions for writing math worksheets

Journal Topics
- theme words from Zeek's Zoo
- monthly prompts from Busy Teacher's Cafe

I feel strange because this post isn't very exciting.  Perhaps someone will find it useful anyways.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Our 2015-2016 Classroom (calendar)

Post #2 of our classroom.  Post #1 is *here.*

New this year is our calendar board.  The board itself is made from a black foam boards, lined with wood rulers.

The upper left corner has our months of the year circular calendar.  The Earth is anchored and the big wheel spins, but the whole thing can be taken down to show how the Earth goes around the sun.  The graphics for the rainbow months come from Mr. Printables (here).

Below the year calendar is a card for the seasons.  The cards are included in my calendar packet.

The ABC Bible verses came from Homeschool Creations (here).

I ran out of velcro dots, so I haven't been able to finish the calendar yet.  The numbers and headers are available in my calendar printable pack.

To the right of the calendar is the small months of the year list.  I think it will be helpful to have all the months in a list when we sing the "months of the year" song.  The graphics on the cards match the monthly headers that I made for the calendar.  I think this will help us to find where in the year we are and to see which months comes before and after it.  These cards are also be included in my calendar packet.

Left of the months is our weather area.  Skimmer (>3) loves to tell me the weather each morning (It's sunny to-day!).  I made realistic picture cards to show our most common weather options: rainy, cloudy, sunny, snowy, stormy, and windy.  These cards are in my calendar packet.

Lastly, the weekly calendar in the top middle has been posted about before.  *Here* is the link to download a blank version of the rainbow weekly calendar.

To download the complete Preschool Calendar Kit, click *here*

We're linked up!
Christian Montessori Network

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Our 2015-2016 Classroom (work boxes)

I've been reorganizing the homeschool room in preparation for our next school year.  I got rid of the K-cup machine, which we hadn't used it probably 6 months, and cleared a place in the kitchen for the microwave.  Those two changes freed up an entire shelf to use for homeschooling!

I bought another 5 paper drawers and stacked them on the shelf.  As you can see, each drawer has a label to help us all find what we need.  On the left side, I numbered the drawers 1-6, because these will be our "work boxes" for each week's theme.  Each drawer will contain an activity or two for our school time that the kids will do at the table.

The top middle drawer is where I'll put a mini sensory bin or the supplies I want to use for a big sensory bin.  For example, if we're doing pirates, I would put our wooden letter X, the "pirate treasure," and the gold coins.

The next drawer will hold our books for each theme- or at least the ones that will fit.

The bottom middle drawer is for Dragonfly's science notebook and school supplies (see the Science Girl post for more information).

So that Skimmer doesn't feel left out, I've given him a drawer for his supplies.  I'm calling his composition book a "Scribble Journal."

                                       There are two empty drawers right now, but I'm sure they'll be
                                       filled before the year is over.

In the top right drawer, I have our "sand tray" for letter writing practice.  Our current sand mixture is blue with silver glitter, but I anticipate changing it every month or so to keep it interesting.  Our sandpaper letters will probably also be stored in this drawer.

The next two drawers have my things in them.  One is for school supplies: my scissors, glue, extra pencils, the staples, etc.  The other drawer has our calendar board pieces, the sign language alphabet cards, and our build-a-letter pieces.

The girl on the picture is holding an ink pad and stamp- this is the drawer where I'm storing our letter stamps and any other random ones we've collected.

My last labeled drawer is for "math stuff."  The main thing in
this drawer is our spindles for counting.  I'd like to add math
beads one day (like this).

I will post more about our classroom soon.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Christian Doctrine for Preschoolers?

Several years ago, a lot of homeschooling bloggers were talking about the "Songs for Saplings" ABC project and how helpful it was for learning Scriptures.  Because of the ages of my kids at the time, I put the idea on hold and waited.

A week ago or so, I ran across a blog post that was again extolling the merits of "Songs for Saplings."  On a lark, I went onto the groups website, where I saw that they were having a major sale.  I immediately bought their entire collection, eight CDs, for about $8 (they normally would have cost me almost $100).  After I bought them, I wondered if I had been too impulsive.

I am so glad I bought them!  Firstly, they aren't annoying kids' albums with lots of strange sound effects- this is real music with a variety of instruments.  Secondly, they're not filled with fluffy songs- every song contains solid, Biblical teaching.  Thirdly, I can't think of a better way to teach doctrine to my kids than through music.

The main collection (Questions and Answers) is six CD's of pure Bible doctrine.  Every song has a question, an answer (hence the name), and a Bible verse with reference.  For example, one person sings, "Who made you?" and then the rest of them answer "God made me."  They sing this question and answer a few times (which is great for memorization) and then they sing "Genesis 1:27, In the beginning God made man, in His own image...."  It would be hard to not learn the Bible while listening to these.

Like I said before, these are not fluffy CDs.  This is good spiritual food for kids.  Topics covered include:
the official website also has free
chords and sheet music- they encourage
you to use it in your church!
- who is God
- what is God like
- the Trinity
- how God made man
- why God made man
- the traits of man (body and spirit)
- what else God made
- the perfection of the Garden

And that's just disk one.  Disk two covers sin and our need for salvation.  Disk three is all about Christ's work of atonement (yes, they use big, heavy Bible words like that) and his role as Prophet, Priest, and King.  Song about the Word of God are on disk four and songs about prayer and the sacraments are on disk five.  Finally, the collection wraps up with Christ's return.

I think the most extraordinary thing about these CDs is that they're useful for adults too.  I often find myself playing the disks when the kids are sleeping or playing elsewhere.  Because each song is meaty with Bible verses, it makes for refreshing listening.  This music makes you feel good.  As yet another bonus, the songs are available in multiple languages, and they're continuing to translate the songs into other languages.

Here's the Songs for Saplings website.  Buy some good stuff for your family, in digital copy or CD- today.  You won't regret it.

*All thoughts and opinions are mine.  Songs of Saplings isn't paying me or giving me anything for this blog post*

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Preschool Year Two Planning

For our second year of homeschooling, we're keeping most of the themes and order the same, but there are some differences.  One of the factors in my scheduling is the holidays of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter.  I like to have specific themes during the weeks before of during those holidays.  Everything else, I tried to keep in the same order; although some of the themes have been renamed.  And, just as a reminder, this article explains why I'm not teaching the letters in ABC order. The bold themes are new this year.  Under each theme, I've listed all the printables I've made for it.  Other printables can be found by clicking on the "printables" tab.

2015-2016 Lesson Plans

a is for apples (so classic)
          - wormy apples
         - thematic pictures: apples

m is for milk (farm)
          - milk taste test
          - cow poem beginning reader

t is for trees (life cycle, autumn)

s is for seeds (types, food)
          - seed matching game
          - seeds coloring page
          - thematic pictures: seeds

i is for insects (bug life cycles)
         - insect matching game
         - bug sorting
         - jars for bug counting
         - thematic pictures: insects

r is for rain (color, light, and rainbows)
         -  rainbow colors spelling
         - rain words spelling worksheets

f is for fire (safety, prevention)
          - fireman 3-part cards
          - firetruck roll and cover

d is for duck (pond)
          - turtle roll and cover
          - frog hop race
          - turtle counting
          - ducks number line
          - duck pond letters game

e is for eggs (frog and butterfly life cycle)
         - metamorphosis roll and cover game

o is for ocean (coral reef)
         - Finding Nemo matching game

u is for universe (solar system)
          - roll and cover game
          - scale model
          - picture matching/bingo
          - space count and clip
          - space picture matching/bingo

h is for harvest (Thanksgiving week)
         - Thanksgiving spelling activity

c is for cookie (Christmas, cocoa, coffee)
         - cocoa shop words
         - cookie addition
         - Christmas cooking graphing

b is for baby (human life cycle)
          - mammals busy bag
          - mammals mini match cards
          - Bethlehem game

n is for night
          - Nocturnal Animals poster
         - pillow shape matching

k is for king (3 Kings, presents)
          - counting jewels game

g is for giraffe (African Savannah)
          - safari spelling words
          - giraffe measuring

Vv is for vehicles (cars/trucks)

l is for laundry (clothes/washing/folding/sewing)
         - even and odd socks
         - laundry sorting
         - sock matching
        - thematic pictures: laundry

Ww is for winter (arctic)
         - marshmallow counting game

J is for Jungle (rain forest)
        - making teen numbers

Pp is for penguins (antarctic)
          - measuring
         - food chain
         - transportation sorting

Yy is for yarn (fiber/sources)
         - yarn color matching
         - yarn worksheets (set 1)
         - yarn worksheets (set 2)

T is for T-Rex (dinosaurs)
         - dino bone measuring
         - paleontologist anchor chart
         - dinosaur skulls toob matching

L is for Lollipops (candy, tooth-brushing)
         - colored graphing worksheet
         - roll and cover game
         - lollipop matching game
         - rainbow candy patterns
         - candy shop words

M is for Monster (math)
          - monster math game
         - monster word sorting
         - monster size sorting
         - monster roll and cover game
         - monster (set 1)
         - monster (set 2)
         - monster (set 3)

F is for Food (health, shopping, recipes)
           - groceries count and clip
           - grocery worksheets (set 1)
           - grocery worksheets (set 2)

D is for Desert (American West)
         - desert mini matches cards
         - cattle drive roll and cover game
         - desert animals 3-part cards

R is for Resurrection (Easter week)
          - resurrection spelling words
          - resurrection opposites
         - color gradient matching

I is for Idaho (mountain habitat)
          - 3-part cards
          - hungry bear roll and count game
          - camping worksheets (set 1)
          - camping worksheets (set 2)
          - camping worksheets (set 3)

N is for Nest (birds)
         - backyard birds 3-part cards (Safari toob)

A is for America (overview)
         - North American Animals 3-part cards (Safari toob)
         - venn diagram sorting
         - river animal 3-part cards (Safari toob)
        - American History 3-part cards
        - American Inventions 3-part cards
        - themed wall decorations

E is for Earth (continents, oceans, maps)
           - regions of Asia

H is for Hat (Dr Seuss)

G is for Garden (plants, bees)
         - flower to hive pollen transfer
         - beehive counting by 10's
         - bees and letter B game
         - hexagons and beehive worksheets

B is for Body (health, hand-washing, body systems)

X Marks the Spot (pirates)
         - roll and cover game
         - picture matching/bingo
         - count and clip
         - counting treasure
         - treasure maps
         - pirate picture matching/bingo

q is for questions (child-directed)

z is for zoo (animal families, habitats)
          -  Zoo poster
          - roll and cover game
          - animal matching game
         - animal homes game

j is for juggle (circus)
          - roll and cover game
         - juggling CVC words
         - picture matching/bingo
         - circus picture matching/bingo

Q is for Quilt (patterns, sewing)
          - pattern busy bag
         - quilt squares busy bag

(Bold Themes are new for this year)

The 2014-2015 lesson plans can be found here.

Last year, I organized the materials in several different places.  The printed worksheets and folder games were in two binders, the "busy bags," game pieces, and "work box" materials were in a small plastic crate and homemade mini-files.  The books were in another location and the "hands on" stuff was in another.  Worst of all, I didn't have a master list to tell me what I had, so a lot of our materials went untouched all year.  What a waste!

I started this year by buying six more binders and several packages of zippered binder sheets (here).  I spread my themes out into the eight binders, adding a zippered page to each unit.  The pouch now holds all the laminated pieces that used to be housed in the crate.  I also added an "inventory" sheet to each unit.  The inventory lists all the pages contained in the binder, the laminated materials in the pocket, and the hands-on parts that are stored in another box.  It's not a perfect system but perhaps it will help me stay better organized throughout the school year.

So, what about you?  How do you organize your homeschool printables?

Christian Montessori Network

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Home-School Supplies for the Science Girl

Dragonfly (4) is a self-proclaimed "Science Girl," so most of my schooling this year with cater to that passion.  Most of our letter themes, math work, reading, and writing will be done through the lens of science.  I've been preparing our homeschool space for the next year and thought you might like to see what goes into a "Science Girl" classroom.
picture from Amazon.com

- chunky pencils
- pink handled safety scissors
- school glue (liquid)
- pink composition book
- 8 pack of regular sized crayons
- pink mini pencil box

Dragonfly has began learning to read recently, so this year we're going to try keeping a "Science Journal."  As we move through our themes, I'll have specific things that Dragonfly can add to her notebook.  Perhaps it will be graphing candy colors or coloring and pasting life cycle pictures or drawing diagrams of animals.  Dragonfly doesn't particularly enjoy coloring, so I think this activity may be a stretch for her.  I chose the pink composition book, pink pencil box, and special crayons in continued hope of enticing her to write (pink is her assigned color in the family).

picture from Amazon.com
Science Specific
- microscope
- life cycle sets
- Safari toob animals

Dragonfly received a microscope for her birthday.  I'm intending to give her many opportunities to look at things with it.  We may even grow a few cultures to explore (on purpose and the ones from the fridge).

One of our additions for this year is several life cycle sets from Insect Lore and Safariology.  We currently have sets for a butterfly, ladybug, ant, frog, chicken, and sea turtle.  You can read about how we used the frog life cycle set in our Tree Frog summer unit.  I plan on using the life cycles sets many times this year and in the future.

Our homeschooling is slightly Montessori-inspired, which has led us to do lots of matching and sorting activities with the Safari toob animals.  We also love using them in our sensory bins.  I store our toob animals in crystal lite containers, which are easy to open and fit the animals very well.
picture from Amazon.com

- felt world map
- globe (Amazon) and the printable one here
- alphabet stamps (Amazon)
- alphabet magnets (Amazon)
- phonics box
- sandpaper letters (Etsy)

Dragonfly is also very interested in the world and maps, so I'm planning on introducing her to those this year as well.  I think we'll call it "political science."  I think some of her interest is from having so many friends that have moved "overseas" lately.  I'm looking forward to showing her where exactly "overseas" is located.

The kids do a lot of pretend stamping with toys and object that they find around the house, so I think they'll enjoy having some alphabet stamps available.  We'll be able to stamp play dough and paper and practice spelling words.  We can even use them in our science notebook.

The last three items on the list are part of learning to read and write the Montessori way.  I'll write a separate post about them.

Well, that's my list of school supplies for the science girl.  What would you add?

Christian Montessori Network