Friday, December 2, 2011

Advent - Week 1

First, a couple pictures from Thanksgiving. Bug made pilgrim and Native American hats at school. Look #1:

Look #2:

And, this weekend, we got the tree up:

And, we changed out our nature "table" for Advent:

For Advent Week 1, we are focusing on helping those in need. (We got a great packet from church with all sorts of neat ideas - in it is a book called "Celebrating Advent at Home". Great simple and fun ideas!!) At school, the Holiday Project has begun - this year, each classroom has been assigned a child for whom the kids are bringing in donations. Also, our church periodically does a food drive outside a local grocery store, collecting food donations for the ICS Food Bank. We are taking the girls to help out this Saturday morning.

Happy Holidays!! :)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Play and Book Fair and More Debating.. oh my! :)

We all were sick last week with bonkus in the conkus and Lulu and I had ear infections.. .good times! But we survived and are now back up and running. Before that all happened, though, we were invited to see Bug's class do a play called "How the Turkey Got Its Colorful Feathers". SOOOO cute!! Here she is - dressed as a lamb for her part in the play, and then they did some songs, etc. She painted the picture she is holding.

The kids all did a great job - it had to be unnerving to walk out and see all the parents watching, but they were pros! :) It was very fun to watch. We also go to visit the book fair while we were there. Good stuff all around.

Which leads to my latest homeschooling thoughts... being sick this weekend, I had to spend a lot of time resting and laying low. It gave me time to think some more about all of this. I am someone who likes to make a decision, solve the problem, get it all resolved, and move on to the next issue. So this whole 4-years-of-debating-whether-to-homeschool-thing can be crazymaking. Each time I think I'm decided, something makes me re-think it all. Arrgh.

The reason we sent Bug to school was because hubby and I both loved school. We liked the yearly traditions, the new clothes (that was more me! :) ), the new school supplies, finding out who the teacher would be, seeing what friends are in your class, etc. And that all started on Day 1, or before. We loved being part of that school community. And we didn't want to "take that" from Bug. We found this wonderful little school - high ranking, in a lovely community, and they say it's like a private school education for free. And truly, it is.

But 4-6 weeks in, I started feeling like it wasn't anything special. I posted about that at the time, and got caught up in the idea of homeschooling again. Because, after all, if there wasn't going to be that sense of community and the excitement of school, and that was our main reason for sending her... why do it? The class was great, her teacher is amazing, the Spanish 2x/week? Love it! But I didn't feel that indescribable "thing" we both were remembering.

Well, I guess as adults, the whole "yaay we are all together doing this school stuff and neat things together" community thing doesn't automatically click on Day 1, like it does for the kids. Over the past month, I have started to really feel like this truly IS the amazing little school we thought it was. The play, the book fair, the report cards (so exciting!), a classmate's birthday party, etc. It's all coming together and hubby and I are starting to feel that "thing" we loved as kids. Bug's enjoyed school from the beginning, but she's really hitting her stride and was so excited to see her friends this morning after the long weekend. Her report card was great - she is learning new things and cute songs... I guess maybe the first month or so is review or catch-up? Because they have done some NEAT things since then.

If anyone out there is reading all my blog posts, it must feel like I go back and forth back and forth back and forth... and I have been. Even before this blog, in my other blog... this was the topic of much debate. But I started this blog so I could honestly write down what I feel about all of this and where we honestly are at. So that's where we are at. Back to where we were over the summer... in love with Bug's school.

We'll see where this journey takes us! :)

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Lulu - It's Starting!

When Lulu plays, I leave a puzzle or shape sorter type toy next to her, to spark her interest in them. Sometimes I sit and do the activity and she watches me and thinks about it a bit. This morning, I put a puzzle next to her with the pieces removed (the fish/turtle/crab one in the background of the pic below). I sat at my desk near her to catch up on email, and I heard these increasingly frustrated sounds coming from her. I looked over and she had put the turtle and crab in, but was struggling with the fish. I helped her with it and got out a simpler puzzle:

She's getting it!!! Matching up the shape with where it goes and working to put the piece in. My heart was singing. :) I have said before that this is the age where I started "teaching" Bug at home.. but I haven't wanted to force Lulu into it. I wanted it to start organically like it did with Bug. Lulu has been starting to recognize numbers lately (thank you Umizoomi! :) ) and a couple colors. And now the puzzle - yaay! I think she's about ready to do more purposeful learning activities!!

I'm beyond excited that we are embarking on the homeschool journey with our baby now. It's been so rewarding and precious with Bug; I am looking forward to adding Lulu into the mix. :)

My joy was overflowing, so I thought "Blog Post!" :) Thanks for sharing in my happiness!

Monday, November 14, 2011


Our little two-week break is now over and we are back to afternoon school this week. Grandma D returned home the first week of November, and then last week we had flu shots and check-ups and a holiday (Veterans Day). This is a great time of year for homeschooling, so we are excited to be back to it. So many fun lessons and crafts... ahhh the holidays are upon us. :)

I am learning that the biggest requirement in homeschooling is flexibility. Right now we are in a weird situation, with "school-school" in the morning (Kindergarten) and some supplemental school at home in the afternoon. For a little while we were doing a full curriculum (almost) every afternoon. But that's a little bananas and quite frankly, too much for me to handle. (I'm also still working about 12 hours a week from home.) So our new incarnation is to have one subject a day and just focus on that and have fun with it for an hour or two. We are focusing on 1st grade lessons during our school time at home.

Today was math - yaay! We played Frog Pond Fractions and discussed how subtraction and division take away, while addition and multiplication add. We talked about halves and quarters, etc. Then Bug did some worksheets.

Thinking ahead to next year. I am more and more sure that we are going to homeschool, so I've got a lot to prepare and plan out in the months to come. Good thing I LOVE to prepare and plan and organize... can't wait! :)

For you homeschoolers out there, how do you do the major curriculum planning? I'm assuming if I take one Saturday a month, say 4-6 hours, that would be enough to plan the outline for the next month and place my Amazon (or wherever) order for supplies, etc. And then each evening, maybe 30 minutes to make sure everything is set up as needed for the next day?

I really want to set up a great system and make it as organized as possible to avoid burn-out. I'm sure I will burn out occasionally, but a minimum of that would be ideal. :)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Giving Thanks

We are so thankful here - it's finally autumn weather!! The leaves have started to turn color and fall. Here is one off the tree in our front yard:

Although the tree still looks like this (below) - we are getting there! Bits and pieces of yellow and brown throughout the tree. Slowly but surely...

We had a grand time gathering up leaves the other day. I'm sure they will be put to good use in some autumn-y craft we come up with. :)

And here is our weekend project - our Thanksgiving Advent calendar. I love Facebook - this idea was linked to on a page I "like". Here is the link for the directions if you are interested, and to give credit where credit is due! I made some changes - used a foam tri-fold board I got awhile back, and some tiny kraft envelopes I had bouncing around. I had some scrapbooking paper and stickers from the Target $1 section, so this was a really cheap project!

We are going to start tomorrow, and fill each pocket with things we are thankful for each day. Then on Thanksgiving, we will read them all. Genius! :)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween! & Maps

We have been doing all sorts of autumn/Halloween activities and crafts here. We went to the pumpkin patch with Bug's school. Here she is on her search for the best pumpkin:

And Lulu came separately with Daddy & Grandma to join in the fun. (Mainly because Ms. Lulu is having a rough time with being away from Mama lately...) She had a great time in the pumpkin patch.

School-wise we are in a bit of a belated fall break. Grandma D is in town and we've had Halloween activities and the field trip, etc. going on. We will start up again later this week. We have been working on maps. I got a great book at Lakeshore Learning for K-2, intro to maps and directions and how to read maps, etc. It's been great fun. Here is Bug thinking hard about where something is on her map. :)

I have also started teaching subtraction. The worksheets for this aren't sparking Bug's interest, so we started out using They have a balloon-popping game for subtraction. She loved it, and cruised up to Level 3. I don't know what I would do without the Internet!!! Thank you Al Gore. :)

Homeschooling update: Still seriously considering doing it full-time next year. I've been feeling that way for a couple months now, so we'll see what the future holds for us education-wise. :) I am feeling very blessed these days to have the opportunity to teach my daughters. There are days I fall into bed exhausted beyond belief, but I love every moment of it. Okay, well maybe almost every moment of it. :) It's about 95% happiness and roses and 5% battle of the wills. Pretty much like parenting!

We hope you all had a safe and fun Halloween trick-or-treating with your little ones! We had a blast. Lulu was getting the hang of it by the end. She started saying "ick-or-eat" and "thank you byebye" and even a few "a. ee. awoeeen"s thrown in as well. Say that last one out loud and you'll get it. :)

Happy November!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Week 2 - Afternoon School

This curriculum is awesome!! I am still in love with it. :) We are being a bit more structured this week. Here is how it goes for every day except Wednesday, our "off" day: Circle Time, Language, Social Studies/Science (we do each 2x/week), Music, Math, and Arts/Crafts.

This week so far we have done some leaf painting (pics below), which has led us to the realization that we need a field trip! There are a whopping 2 or 3 types of leaves in our yard and neighborhood. We are going to plan a day that we drive up the mountain to where there is more variety. We'll do bark rubbings, gather some leaves, and enjoy the change in scenery.

We also did some addition work this week - we went through 1-10 and Bug told me all the ways you can add up to each number. She did great! :) We used a couple piles of Cheerios to aid in the tabulations as the numbers got higher.

We have also introduced the delightful Math Gnomes - Plus, Minus, Times, and Divide. :)

Plus filling in a blank calendar with special days and moon phases, drawing pictures of the moon, and we started playing around with the recorder.

The curriculum is fairly simple and leaves room for a lot of extras. If I were to do it full-time, this would be a great base on which to supplement. I've added in some extras for today. We are going to start learning about maps in Social Studies, and we are changing up our craft and doing something Halloween-y.

I still need to tackle finger knitting and then teach the Bug. Looking forward to that! :)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

(Afternoon) School is in Session!

We officially started our 1st Grade Oak Meadow curriculum this week. Yesterday was our first day, and we spent the time learning the opening and closing verse, and talking about the seasons. This curriculum is Waldorf inspired, which I love. It's like the big sister to Little Acorn Learning. It's an actual curriculum, based on state standards and all that good stuff. But it's all earthy and rhythm-y and I'm in love. :) We are going to ease into it and start rhythms that work for us, and take our time and enjoy it.

Waldorf is big into teaching about seasons and phases of the moon... in reading the intro to this curriculum, I learned more about why. During the early years, defining time by seasons and holidays and such is much easier to grasp than learning how to tell time on a clock. (Disclaimer: I am by no means a Waldorf expert, and all my comments are based on my interpretation. :) ) I love that, and I love-love-love the daily rhythms. That's what I loved most about Little Acorn Learning, and it's part of Oak Meadow as well. And it's a HOME-school curriculum, so there are notes about which story to read at night before bed, and then talk about the next day. It's created to be used throughout the day, throughout your life. Not just during "school time". Perfect.

Can you tell I love it? :) We are going to do the 1st grade level this year in the afternoons.

Another part of Waldorf is the seasonal table. We started dressing our table for Autumn. Bug did this on her own, and it's lovely. :) As we go on more nature walks and to the pumpkin patch, and all that good "fall-y" stuff, we will add more season-appropriate items.

Here is the table, and some more decorations we put up.

Happy Fall! :)

Monday, October 3, 2011


Every week there are free downloads at This week's looks really cute - fall-themed number matching.

Check it out here. :)

You can sign up for the email newsletter, and they send you info about the free downloads.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Budding Musician?

Lulu likes to rock out. :) Her new favorite place to play - right next to the music basket.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Getting in our groove...

We're back!! The school year is in full swing, and I think we are finally in our routine. Bug is in a great class with a wonderful teacher. It's a small class, with 12 kids, so she gets lots of teaching tailored to her needs. It's an ideal situation all around. :) She is very happy and dove right in from Day 1 with no problems.

Now that the year is underway and I see what all they are doing in class (I've been helping once a week), something in my brain has kicked into gear. Over the past couple of days, I've started thinking about how wonderful our homeschool experience was last year, and feeling kind of wistful about it. I don't know if this topic will ever be 100% settled for me either way, but for now I'm just observing and thinking and comparing. Her school experience is wonderful. The basics are there and they are good. Excellent, even. The kids are learning 2 letters a week, they have Spanish 2x/week; and PE, Art, Library, and Music once a week. They were tested for reading/math aptitude and are taught according to their levels. It's all excellent stuff. I love seeing the work Bug does. Her teacher is very artsy, so there are some neat projects. She can recite her colors in Spanish and randomly tells me interesting bits of information she has learned in school. Those are all the positives. I really have nothing negative to say about it. My only complaint would be that there hasn't been any planting of seeds, no ant farm or fish in the room, nothing "above and beyond" like that. That all may come, and it is just Kindergarten, so it really is just about the basics at this point. But... I miss homeschooling. I know that we could be doing so much more at home. I am in the beginning stages of my comparison, and just typing as I think (have I mentioned that I am an extrovert!?! :) ), so it's all very nebulous. I just have a tiny seed of "hmmm" going on in my head and I'm listening to it. I'm sure I will be revisiting this throughout the year, and making sure that the path we are on is the right one for us.

Moving on from that -- we are supplementing at home with lots of neat activities. We have been playing a LOT of "Sequence for Kids", printing out tons of coloring pages and worksheets, reading many many books, and on our drive to and from school, there is a lot of "Name everything that starts with F" or "I'm going to make up a story for you" going on. And, of course, CRAFTS. It's hot here, so we don't get to play outside very much. So to fill the time and keep us from going stir-crazy (or catatonic from too much TV), we draw. And paint. And cut and paste. And decorate with stickers. I just filled up the craft cabinet with a bunch of fall activities from Michael's today. I also have a flower pressing kit that we put together, and can't wait to use. Check out the new activity we tried - reminds me of those t-shirt decorating places at the mall when I was younger. Spin art!

We are still using Little Acorn Learning, as well - September was full of stories about squirrels, different types of families, leaves, and we made a nature notebook. Here is a picture - Bug picked out all the pictures on the cover. She has drawn a bird (we found one dead in our yard and it impacted her), a grasshopper we found in our driveway, and many other "nature" things that she has seen outside, or at least things that belong outside. Unfortunately, as I mentioned above, it's HOT. It's finally becoming tolerable, so we will be able to actually go out and experience the outdoors, and she'll have more to draw.

Also, please say a warm welcome to our new friend, George. He is going to help us learn where all the organs and bones go in the human body. Mommy included. Because, as you can tell from the way he's currently set up, I have NO idea where the liver, spleen, etc. go. This will be a learning unit for the whole family! (Maybe Grandma Barb should come visit and pass on her medical knowledge!! :) )

He's doing a little sassy kick with his leg bone. :) I think George is going to provide us with hours of entertainment.

That's plenty for now. But I'm back in the school swing, summer break is officially over, so I'll be updating the blog more. :)

Happy Fall!

Monday, August 8, 2011


To kick off our summer, we went to the Hershey Factory and learned ALL about chocolate. One of Bug's favorite things. We went on this ride three times, where they showed the whole process from cacao beans being picked to how they are processed and treated, and then made into yummy milk chocolate. A fun field trip!

And then, we got to make our very own candy bars! So exciting... :)

Our Summer :)

It's so hard to believe that our summer is drawing to a close. But it's true ~ Bug goes to Kindergarten in THREE days!! So here's a wrap-up of what we have been up to over the past few months.

Lulu sorting shapes, and Bug teaching her how to do puzzles:

From late spring/early summer, the desert in bloom:

A hummingbird nest and eggs in our front yard:

Lulu is getting more into learning with her big sister! :)

The last month has just been HOT. So we did 4 weeks of swim lessons in the mornings, and then came home and read books, watched (too much, probably!) TV, played games, and did a lot of crafts. I need to replenish the craft cabinet!

I just printed out the September Little Acorn Learning booklet, getting ready to do some fun things with Lulu in the mornings and with Bug (and Lulu) in the afternoons.

I hope everyone had a safe and fun summer! :) Happy New School Year!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Lulu's Learning Area

Lulu = the baby who has previously been referred to as Monkey :) She is going to start playing a bigger role in this blog as I start her at-home preschool experience.

As I've said before, I like a blend of Montessori/Waldorf/our own thing. I've started creating little spaces around the house with age-appropriate activities for Lulu. She is big into taking objects out of a container and putting them back in, or into a different one. So I need to come up with more of those activities for her.

Anyway, for now - this is what we have in the learning area - Duplos, little bird house with soft birds that can be put in a hole and taken out the side, some board books (another basket of books is out of the picture to the right), a shape sorter, and a basket of musical intruments:

And I LOVE these soft blocks (below) - these are normally stacked on the other shelf (on the other side of our nature/season table). Lulu is a fan too! :)

In the "kindergarten" realm, I am preparing some more plant-centric activities for the week for Bug. And thinking about ordering the June curriculum from Little Acorn Learning for some more Waldorf ideas. Summertime gets rough here in the Desert - I need all the ideas I can get for keeping us all occupied and happy! :)

Thursday, June 2, 2011


My brother was kind enough to spend time teaching the Bug how to play chess. She is such a sponge!! She remembered how to set the board up and what move each piece makes. Of course, her favorite piece was the "horsey".... :)

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Kindergarten Countdown!!

The countdown has begun... we made a paper chain to count down the days left until Kindergarten. Today = 71 more days! This is our new calendar set-up, still working on it - but you can see the paper chain off to the side. :) I also have a laminated piece of paper on the bulletin board and every day, we write down the new countdown number.

Monday, May 30, 2011


We have been talking about plants lately. As I posted awhile back, we were working with a plant kit we got at Barnes & Noble. That was a dud. Despite us giving the plants sun, water, and love, they did not grow. So I guess that turned into a lesson of how sometimes, things just don't work. :)

I'm so excited that Bug is reading all sorts of words. It has expanded our horizons as far as school goes. We sat and did the "parts of the plant" board I created for spring, and she read all the words out loud and put them where they went. Without prompting from me. Wow! :)

I re-purposed our train table into a Learning Center, and this week it's still all about plants. (Next up: Bugs and Butterflies!) Here is the center - I created a bunch of activities that involve matching words with food from plants, parts of plants, etc. I will put out one or two a day this week. (Monkey is getting in on the action too!)

Here is a close-up of the file folders I created with the plants we eat, what "group" they belong in, and their names:

Fun! :) Also going to order this for the Monkey: flower toy from Amazon. I love these stacking wooden toys. But they are EXPENSIVE. So I'll buy one every so often.

Will post soon with more info about starting school for Monkey @ home.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Our year is almost over...

At the end of last week, I read through this blog and then I spent the weekend reflecting on this whole homeschooling thing. I am very happy with our school choice. I think Bug will have a great time making friends, and will thrive there. However... I am sad that we are not exclusively homeschooling. These past 8 months have been truly wonderful. Exhausting at times, and kind of scary as I pondered the idea of being solely responsible for my child's education, but looking back at the posts and thinking about all that we have done, it has been a great experience. So I can say with absolute certainty that if I am not happy with Bug's experience at her school, I can bring her back home and we will be a-okay.

Time for a post-mortem of the year, to get my thoughts jotted down somewhere:

We started out doing the boxed curriculum from Calvert. Great package, but not right for us at this time. For one thing, trying to re-create a classroom at home did not work. And, the curriculum was too easy. I will save that curriculum and use it with Monkey towards the end of next year. It's a good fit for a 2-3 year old, I believe.

Then we moved on to doing our own curriculum, and the workboxes. That was wonderful - it was great to tailor the day to suit our needs, and to tailor the projects/lessons to our teaching/learning styles. But, when the weather outside got nicer, we wanted to spend more time out there doing fun things. So we eased off a bit.

The past 3 months, we have been doing "unschooling", if I had to put a label on it. It was great for us to step back and just have fun without planning every lesson. When Bug asks for worksheets, we do them. When she wants to do something formal, we do it. Otherwise, it's just been games (Memory, Monopoly, Yahtzee, etc.), reading a LOT of books, and getting outside to enjoy the beautiful desert air. We have been to the zoo, the Desert Museum, the park, and on some lovely walks where we have explored our world. We visited California and discussed how different the climate and terrain are there. We have had some wonderful conversations about life and learning, without the assistance of curriculum. It's been very laid-back and refreshing. Amazingly enough, without doing Hooked on Phonics very much during this time (maybe once or twice in the past three months), Bug is suddenly reading all sorts of random words that haven't been "taught". I love that. Every day brings unstructured learning experiences, and it's been a joy to go through that together.

We really did get into our homeschool groove this year. I could do this, and strike a great balance. For me, a truly Type A person who likes to have things organized and planned as much as possible, it has truly been a learning experience for me as well. I can step back and not have to micromanage every aspect of this. We can have weeks (or months, like we just did :)) where we just learn through living. My children will learn at their pace and be OK, and even thrive while doing it. I think there is a great balance between unschooling and workboxes, and that is what we are going to do this summer, and going forward, with the Bug. Monkey is ready for some more structured "playtime" that includes purposeful toys designed to help her start learning shapes/colors/letters/etc. And as she gets older, I will move on to learning centers with interesting learning toys set out for her to play with at her leisure - much the same as what I did with Bug at this age.

I think I'm going to continue this Blog. Life gets so crazy sometimes, it's nice to come back and look at what we have done. Also, since I'm posting it to FB, it's a good way for friends and family who are far away to see what we are up to. :)

Thanks to you all for joining me this year, and for all your comments and support!

Friday, April 15, 2011


Our spring table: (which now has additional nature-y items from California)

Spring is in full bloom here in the desert! It's wonderful to see all the seemingly harsh and prickly plants opening up. The cactuses have flowers, our rose bushes are in bloom - spring!

So that has been our main theme lately. Along with that, we have been talking about plants. We started a plant project this week. Just a little kit I picked up at Barnes & Noble awhile back. Bug is so excited every morning to check out the plants to see if any progress has been made overnight.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Fairies & Dragons, oh my!

This month has been all about fairies and dragons so far (and of course, leprechauns and pots of gold!). We have been collecting branches and rocks and anything we can find to build a fairy house. We put it together today, complete with a tiny swing that Bug thought the fairies would enjoy. It's all ready to go outside under the "perfect fairy bush" - today is too windy, though, so we are waiting until tomorrow. The rock pile consists of all the rocks Bug has collected for the "fairy path". She has put a lot of thought into this. :)

The weather is wonderful here right now. March & November are my two favorite "outdoor" months in the desert. We have been doing a lot of walking, hiking, and exploring. Bug is getting into running and bicycling, so she has been joining me when I exercise. Monkey is good for about an hour in the stroller, but then shows signs of distress. She wants to run and bike too!

Here is what our learning table looks like right now:

It will be changed over the weekend to reflect a more spring-y theme. We have truly enjoyed exploring the wonder of fairies, though. It's great to see mystical creatures through the eyes of a child. :)

In more school-y news, we are continuing to work on the basics: writing numbers and letters correctly; lots of reading time; and a lot of excitement about school!! We are so fortunate - we ended up getting into the number 1 public elementary school in the area on open enrollment. Despite the longer drive (compared to the one I referenced in earlier posts), we have decided to go there next year. It has a very earthy vibe (a garden out front to work on!! mosaics throughout the campus with messages about respecting everyone and everything!!) and a few perks that added up to be a lot for our family. So it's official - on August 11th, my little girl will start Kindergarten!!!

And also in the category of "Time goes too quickly!", my little Monkey is about to turn one, so I am starting to think about her learning space. It was about this age with the Bug that I started looking into Montessori, Waldorf, homeschooling, etc. and boy have I learned a LOT since then! I have many ideas, and will start working on creating a space for her in the months ahead.

Happy St. Patrick's Day! :)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

February & The Future

(Side note: I just looked over and Monkey is STANDING in her playpen!!! On her own. WOW - break to take pictures and marvel at this new milestone.)

Appropriate oohing and ahhing has taken place, complete with Bug running out and knocking the Monkey over. (Cue the story about how I used to do that to my little brother when he was learning to walk... must run in the family!) Bug has been sentenced to her room, Monkey praised some more, and back to your regularly scheduled post. :)


February always flies by. Probably because it's a short month. :) (How profound!) But also, because it's truly the first "post-holiday" month to me. I am usually back in my groove by February, and then it zooms by.

We really didn't do much in the way of formal learning this month. We did some Phonics, a lot of Valentines crafts, dance class (which is not very interesting to the Bug, so when the session ends in a couple weeks, back to gymnastics with us!), and various worksheets and lots of game playing. So lots of learning, but not a lot of "We will have school from 8-10 today" going on.

We really enjoyed our unofficial game of the month, Monopoly Jr. It's a great practical use of addition/counting/reading, and Bug thoroughly loves it.

The new language-type skill we worked on this month is putting words in context, into a sentence. I got a game on clearance at Kohls, called My First Spelling Bee. It's just a wee bit above her skill level, but the "put the word into a sentence" portion was a hit. We've done that with Phonics words that Bug isn't familiar with, as well. We also randomly ask her to put a word into a sentence and she complies with gusto. :)

I have been giving a lot of thought to what I want our homeschooling experience to be for the spring/summer and going forward. We are waiting to hear if Bug got into an (even better than the one mentioned in my previous post) elementary school on open enrollment. We will find out next week. I'm so excited that we have these options, but also a wee bit sad that we will not be homeschooling. (Unless, as I mentioned before, something unforeseen occurs.) However, I want to continue learning together at home, supplementing what Bug may be learning at school, or even doing things that she is not. I envision a lot of science experiments, crafts, exciting field trips, and learning projects... for many years to come.

So. Here's where I am at on this crazy journey:

Before, I had a plan. Kindergarten this spring; 1st grade this fall; I was creating lesson plans and settling into my role as teacher. Now that has shifted a bit, and I'm still formulating how to proceed here. It took me several months to really get in my groove with homeschooling, and now I feel a bit adrift. I had a plan and a vision, darnit! :) I was all set to be THE educator in Bug's life. I'm pretty Type A and a borderline perfectionist. So when I do something, I want to do it RIGHT. I read all the books, I scour the websites, I take the quizzes ("What type of homeschooler are YOU?" etc). I soak it up and live and breathe it. I don't know if that's a good or bad thing. But it is what it is. :) Now, that role of TEACHER (at least the way I was approaching it -- a formally homeschooling teacher) has faded to the background once again, I find myself returning to where we were before this all began. I think I mentioned in one of my posts that I had an epiphany along the way this fall -- that we have been homeschooling for years. Just not in an official capacity. No forms filed, no grade level assigned... but my role as mom also included teaching my daughter about anything and everything that we encountered. It was organic and it was wonderful.

I am feeling more confident, after taking a breath to regroup and reframe my thoughts, in returning to the "Waldorf mixed with Montessori mixed with our own ideas" way of life we had going on. Maybe it's knowing that I don't have to be SO hyper-vigilant in ensuring that Bug learns everything @ home that she would have in a school environment now? I feel like there aren't any externally (I accidentally typed "eternally" the first time - that too!) imposed requirements or regulations on how we are doing things anymore. Nobody looking over my shoulder and saying "Oh you homeschool her? What is she learning at home this week?" like we have to report to everyone we meet about our progress. That pressure is gone now. (And, btw, I know this is an innocent question, and I love when people get interested in how we have done things -- but because I'm so Type A, I felt like I had to be on top of everything, so that I would feel I was doing it the "right" way and that nobody would judge where we were at.)

Anyway, that's where my brain is at the moment.. moving forward... to March -- Flowers and Bugs!! St. Patrick's Day and Spring!! I'm currently gathering things for us to do. I am also toying with the idea of buying Little Acorn Learning for the month. We used this program when Bug was about 18 months old, and since I'm feeling less "must-teach-everything-and-be-formal-about-education-y" and more "let's-do-this-my-way-and-create-our-own-rhythm-y", I think I would like to try this program again. It has a great rhythm to it and an earthiness that we both enjoyed. There are songs, stories, great crafts, and even recipes. Also a bonus - Caregiver Meditations. I LOVE those, and I have been missing something like that in my life lately.

So. Thanks for joining me on this journey as I figure out what the heck I'm doing!! And letting me be my extroverted self in sharing all my thoughts as they come to me. Whenever I do that, I am reminded of those who complain that blogs are just a vehicle for people to talk about themselves incessantly and then put it out there into cyberspace for all to read. Guilty! :)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


This isn't really about homeschooling, but it is peripherally related I suppose. It has to do with organizing the kazillion and three stuffed animals that Bug has accumulated.

I was online a couple of months ago, after yet another marathon session of tracking down and putting away all the little creatures my child can't live without (oy), looking for inspiration on how to contain the adorable critters, beyond the usual basket and bin method. Or the hanging net where they would be unreachable and probably just become dust collectors. I found this and immediately fell in love.

But, in the interest of saving money, I decided to be frugal and make our own. So, I took the box that previously housed Monkey's new car seat, turned it inside out, cut a little opening, and let Bug go to down decorating. I added some leftover Valentine's Day wrapping paper at the top to cover up the Safety First Logo, so it's all cute and heart-y. :) Thankfully, it JUST fits all her stuffed animals. Hurrah, problem solved!

I probably should not admit how blissfully happy organizational, creatively frugal projects make me.
So, we spent much of January cooped up inside with colds. Baby Monkey had a cold for a week, and then the Bug caught it and it turned into a sinus infection. So we had a good 2 1/2 weeks where we were at home. We are all social gals, so this was not fun for any of us. However, we did enjoy a lot of learning during this time.

Here is what we did:

Math - We have been working on addition and subtraction. We have really enjoyed playing this game I found at our local teaching store:

Monkey even joined in the fun!

We also have continued playing Frog Pond Fractions and discussing more in-depth about what each fraction means. And, I have introduced money into our lessons. We have talked about pennies, nickles, dimes, and quarters. We play a neat money bingo game I got from the Mailbox magazine.

This month, we brought Monopoly Jr. into our math game rotation, and it's been really neat to see Bug put her addition skills into practice with that game. I highly recommend this game, it's actually quite fun.

Bug can count to 120 and is pretty adept at writing her numbers. We are still working on the number 8, that seems to be a little harder for her.

Science: We are using this awesome box of file folder games I got at Lakeshore Learning. There are games about recycling, parts of the body, climates, food groups, animal habitats... it's really great. And not much work to put together, which is a bonus. Next time we are up at the store, I'm going to get the Gr 2-3 box.

We have yet to put the ant farm together - hubby is waiting until spring and then he and Bug are going to our church, where they have an abundance of ants to collect.

The Chick Life Cycle was SO fun. Every morning, Bug ran over and pulled the egg for the day. She was so excited to see how the little embryo was progressing. We looked online and researched more in-depth what was going on, and found some ultrasound-type images as well. Because of the Great Cold of 2011, we did not get to a chicken or ostrich farm, but we will soon, so she can see the life cycle in person, with real eggs and birds.

Reading/Writing: We have a few more lessons left in the first Kindergarten Level 1 box of Hooked on Phonics. What a great program! It's been neat to see Bug learn how to put words together, and to hear her read the Hooked on Phonics mini-books. Last week at the library, I found some great little books that focus on certain word families. Those are in a workbox for today.

Bug's writing is getting clearer every day. She insists that she is a horse right now, named Buttons. I told her how to spell Buttons, and she now writes it as her name on everything. She also can write her (real human) name without prompting, and some simple words like Mom or Dad. We have been working on lower-case letters this "semester" and so far, she's doing really well. By Kindergarten next year (see news below), I would like her to be able to write her full name, address, and phone number without prompting.

We got some good news - Bug was accepted on open enrollment at a GREAT public school. It's just about 5 minutes from us, and I was so impressed when I went to visit it last year. So, barring any unforeseen surprises, Bug will be officially going to Kindergarten at a school this fall!!!

With that in mind, my focus has shifted slightly to Kindergarten readiness. She is so far ahead in some areas, but I want to make sure that she is up to speed everywhere else. I'm pretty sure she is, but we are going "back to basics" to make sure. With a homeschooling mentality, I haven't been pushing anything, just kind of going where her interests lead us. Part of why I wrote out the list above is so I can have a record of where she is at in relation to the standards. I am going to focus on writing numbers and letters, and keep working on the reading. Otherwise, not much will change through the spring and summer.

I also will keep doing at-home projects with her next year. This Kindergarten is a half-day program (which was one of my requirements when looking @ schools) so we will still have plenty of time to read books together, play our learning games, and doing crafts.

So that's where we are at. I haven't been super organized in defining what February's theme is, but March/April will be BUGS and FLOWERS! :) So many neat things to do with those topics. So far this month, we have done a little bit of Black History and of course, Valentine's Day. The rest of the month will be more Black History and President's Day, and finishing up any winter-type activities we have.

I hope everyone is healthy and having a great winter! :)

Thursday, January 6, 2011


We officially started Kindergarten on Monday! :)

This month we are learning about the life cycle of a chick growing in her egg. We are on Day 4 of that, and it's very exciting for Bug every day to open the next egg and see what is happening in there. We also look online to read about what is happening on the microscopic level. A visit to the ostrich ranch (couldn't find a local farm with chickens that we could visit, so this will have to suffice!) is planned in a couple of weeks as well.

We started Hooked on Phonics, Kindergarten Level I, and last night Bug read her first book!! What a great program, and it makes me all verklempt to see her reading whole sentences on her own. We all enjoy it, even the Monkey. When we are doing the DVD portion of the lesson, she rolls over and just stares at the TV. Maybe she will be reading by the time she's 2. :)

We are also looking at our state and learning about neat things going on throughout. I think we will plan some visits to some state attractions this month.

Here is a picture of Bug working on her puzzle, with the workbox set up in the background. The puzzle was the last thing we did, so the bins have all been put into the big basket for the day. The way it works -- Bug takes her number from her strip (we are just doing 6 boxes, so she has 1-6) and velcroes it to the number of the bin she is going to do first. She takes out the "work" in the bin and does it, and then tosses everything into the basket.


The Monkey likes to roll around on the ground and scoot (she has chosen to do a two-armed, one-leg body pull instead of crawling) to various toys and just hang out while we do school. Her favorite thing is to scoot over to the workbox shelves and pull it around on the tile, making a delightful noise. :) Here she is sitting at the little table with us:

I hope everyone had a fabulous New Year!! My new year's resolution is to update this blog more! I want to look back at the end of this school year and get a real picture of how everything went.

Hubby and I did a mid-year check-in with each other and we both agree that homeschooling has been wonderful. Bug is thriving - she isn't socially awkward or emotionally stunted. She makes friends easily and is quite the social butterfly. She soaks up new information so quickly, and has such a thirst for knowledge. She has been changing a lot over the past month - she now seems like a 5 year old. We still have 5 months to go until she truly is 5, but I can suddenly see this shift in her appearance and her behavior. She seems more and more grown-up every day.

And for me - I feel like I have gotten a handle on things more and have more realistic expectations for how my days will go. I have created a binder with pages for each section of the day, with an outline of how things should go ideally - a morning rhythm, afternoon, and evening. It helps me keep perspective. I also have dropped the mentality of "We will do homeschool when I get this house clean/work done/yada yada yada". Life is always going to be messy and in the way, so this week I have been focusing on doing homeschool during our "homeschool time" (as dictated by the aforementioned binder :) ), doing my work-work during work-work time, and housework during housework time, etc. AND RELAXING during relaxing time. :) That is one of the important components!!! It's very hard to sit and put my feet up while the house is still cluttered. But I'm getting there. I never thought that would be something I strive for, but there you have it.

I feel on top of things this week and like I have a healthy balance. I need to remember that feeling and bottle it up!! That's why this blog helps. I can look back and see what I was thinking/feeling that put me in that space at the time.

One last thing I have started doing - writing down what we do each day. This is partly for my husband so he can see what we are doing, but mainly so I can keep a record and on the days I feel like I didn't get anything done, I can see that I did. Even if it felt chaotic and cluttered and frenzied, I can see that we spent some quality time together. I'm just writing down the "school" stuff we do, including any park or dance/gymnastics time - that counts as PE right? :) Here is a picture of our week so far:

The binder says it's time for a walk, so a-walking we must go! :) Happy Thursday.