Sunday, October 7, 2012


Bug has been learning about rocks at school, so that has been THE topic around here.  We have acculumated quite the collection of rocks and books about rocks.  Hubby took Bug to the Mineral Museum yesterday and she was in **heaven**!! :)  This picture below is of the hoodoo Bug built.

I haven't updated this blog lately, because we aren't doing anything different.. there are only so many things I can say about each state we do or each letter we focus on. 
Buggy is still working on the Road Trip USA program - we are on New York, making our way through the Northeast.  She has had more homework lately, so we spend some time each day doing a little of that, too.  Despite school getting a little more in-depth, she still wants to do "school at home" almost every day.  I am trying to keep it light, though.  But, being the mini Type A that she is, she has created her own binder for the state information.  She has re-written everything about each state so far and 3-hole-punched it, and put it in the binder.  I find myself regularly saying: "PLAY!!! You are 6!! Play! Have FUN!" :)
And Lulu is doing the Letter of the Week activities when she feels so inspired. :) At her age (2.5), she is spending a lot of time in imaginative play and it is SO fun to watch. 
That's about it for us here... :) Happy Fall!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

DE & CT wrap-up ~ ME & MD next!

Our road trip through the US continues!! We finished up Delaware and Connecticut last week, and then did a quiz game to test Bug's knowledge.  She did great!!

She even answered a couple "bonus" questions and won a pack of Pokemon cards. :)

We then moved on to Maine, which we both decided is a place we'd like to visit.  Their state berry is wild blueberry so of course we had to make some wild blueberry muffins!

We are currently working on Maryland.

As so many of these states are known for seafood, we headed to Red Lobster for dinner Friday night.  Bug tried some crabcake and crab legs, but promptly decided she was not a fan.  All the more for mom and dad to eat!! :)

Homework started last week, and Bug comes home from school some days pretty tired, so we are just doing these "extras" when the energy and time is there.

Here is what our after-school-school schedule looks like:

"To Do Work" is something Bug does at school.  As the kids are arriving for the day, their teacher has worksheets laid out at each of their spaces.  They go and sit quietly and start their work until everyone gets there and school begins.  Bug *loves* this and is always asking for worksheets... so - following her awesome teacher's lead, I have put together a "To Do Work" folder that I fill each day before Bug comes home.  She heads straight for the folder and gets to work while I am unloading the car and taking care of the little one.  We have been doing this workbook for awhile now, and it's wonderful.  Learning to read maps, what symbols on a map mean, how to read longitude & latitude, etc.  Bug loves it.  I also have some Dollar Store 1-2 grade workbooks that we keep on hand for her to do as she feels the urge.  The girl loves her worksheets!!

She also started getting spelling words last week, so we reviewed those words 2-3 times during the week to prep for the Friday spelling test.  Each day we will do a little of her weekly homework during this time.  Then, of course, the fun stuff - making food, playing games, and reading.

After we finish our after-school-school, the girls go play on the iPad, watch TV, do puzzles, play DS, or just come up with fun little imaginary play games while I get dinner going.  This flow seems to be working really well for us, and I will even go so far as to declare that we are officially in our school year groove. Whew! :)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Letter of the Week

I can't leave out the tiny one! :) Lulu has been doing the Letter of the Week curriculum and we love it!! The best deal I have seen yet on Pre-K curriculum.  For $10, we have a full-on preschool program.  Shapes, colors, lesson plan, letters, matching, etc... it goes on and on! Book recommendations, too!!

We started with A this week, and put up a Chicka Chicka Boom Boom tree.  I ordered it off Amazon... and it's puny. Really puny.  So I need to find something else.  The idea behind it is that as we finish each letter, we put it up on the tree.  I had not read the book before, and it's so fun.  We all love it.  I have caught myself randomly chanting "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, will there be enough room?" while we are out and about.

Here are some pics of Lulu learning about A and doing her activities (she also did some shape matching, pattern finishing, and put some apples on a tree :) ):

A is for Apple - matching with lower and upper case As

Doing a Dot-to-Dot page with upper and lower case A

Thursday, September 6, 2012


Bug doing her language and math worksheets:

After doing math/letters, and practicing writing our address and phone number, we moved on to our tour of America.  Our journey began with Connecticut.  We learned all sorts of interesting things about this beautiful state.  The state bird, flower, fish, and of course... information about CT food!! :) Did you know that Connecticut was the first state to serve a hamburger?? And, the curriculum we got includes a delicious-looking recipe for Connecticut clam chowder.  So, we had to have burgers and chowder for dinner, of course! :)

The clam chowder was **delicious**.  Yum. :)  It was my first time making clam chowder - I usually just go with canned - so I'm learning things too!

We also started reading If You Lived In Colonial Times (recommend reading in the curriculum), and will continue reading parts of that book throughout our time in the Northeast states.  This is a great book - lots of fun facts about what people wore and did back in those days.  Very clear and interesting for little ones. :)
Next up: Delaware! 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Road Trip - Animals!

This morning, I put together the Road Trip USA Animals board for Bug's after-school-school program.  It's so cool, I had to post a picture of it here. :) I am so impressed with Confession of a Homeschooler's curriculum. I also got the Letter of the Week curriculum for Lulu (will post about that later), and so far I am very happy with the quality.

So the Animals board -- as you can see, there are 6 categories (mammals, reptiles, etc.) posted.  As we learn about each region/state, we will learn about their animals.  Bug will figure out which type of animal each is, and stick it on the board accordingly.

So. Cool. :)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Road Trip!

I started Natalie's after-school-school today :) I have visions of us spending time learning about different countries, learning a few words in that language, making some food from that region, etc... but first we are going to start small and learn about the good ol' US of A :)  I found this wonderful curriculum on Confessions of a Homeschooler - it goes by region and is pretty in-depth about each state.  We put together the binder today:

And talked about some important parts of our country and history (and my computer does not want to rotate pictures correctly, sorry!):


Our first region will be the Northeast - first state: Connecticut! :) We had a lot of fun talking about how America started and what "freedom" means, etc.  She is a little sponge and just wants to know everything about everything.  Very fun to teach. :)

I asked her what else she would like to learn about for her after-school-school, and she has requested "learning to write in a different language."  OK then!! :) That should be interesting.... :)

Friday, August 31, 2012

Preschool with Lulu

Time for "school" again in our house! :) Bug is at first grade all day, and so Lulu and I have been getting into our own little groove during the day.  I plan to work on colors, numbers, letters, and shapes with her for the first part of this school year.  Thanks to the iPad and TV and big sister, Lulu already has a firm grasp of those things, so we will just have fun with them all.

Here is what we have so far - a simple color/shape sorting activity.  She *loved* it! :)

I also will be supplementing Bug's school starting next week - with fun hands-on activities (science experiments, gardening, crafts, etc.) and I think we'll do a "trip around the world" to learn all about different countries. :)  She is doing fine at first grade, but says every day that she would rather do school at home.  Her reasons include "the worksheets at home are more fun" to "I want more interesting things to do".  The curriculum is pretty dry (gotta teach to those standards!) and there is a lot of sitting (26 kids in a multiage class... yikes...) so hopefully a little something extra each day at home will keep her from turning into a drone.  I want to encourage her curiosity and love of learning! :) I am always looking for more blogs or sites that have neat at-home ideas -- pass some on to me if you have found new ones!! :)

Monday, May 7, 2012

Cave & Science! :)

We have been exploring our neck of the woods on little Saturday morning "field trips".  It's getting hot here in the desert, and we are working on avoiding the cabin fever that inevitably comes each year at this time, when the temps start rising.  So, we went to the International Wildlife Museum a few weeks ago - super cool, but I took pics on my iPhone and not sure how to download those to the computer?

But last weekend, we went to Colossal Cave!! I stayed outside with Lulu (she would have definitely wanted to run rampant inside - she's 2!) but Bug and Hubby went in.  They had a blast.  Here are some pics from their adventure:

This weekend we had a birthday party (fun!!) so we didn't get to go on a grand adventure, BUT - we did some science experiments here at the house on Friday afternoon.

Mixing colors:

And then we added some crystals:

And let them sit for an hour or two, until they turned into this:

We used this wonderful little beginner science kit we got at my favorite place on earth (Lakeshore Learning):

There are several more experiments in here - we'll work on some more this week! :)

(PS - I know I had said I was going to move my blogging to my "Everything About Kiki" blog.... but I have realized that this kind of stuff - living & learning - is really what my life is about these days.  Sooo yeah. We're back to this one. :) I love the Cactus Schoolhouse!!! And summer "school" is almost in session... stay tuned!)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

It's the fairy time of year again!

I cannot believe it has been a year since we built our fairy house last March!! Time has flown by. I am now officially finished with my job and am very excited to go back to being more hands-on with the kids and do educational/crafty/fun things with them. For the past 8-10 months, work has been crazy hectic, and life has thrown some curveballs, so I have been on overload. It's only been a few days since I stopped working, but I already feel lighter and more sane. More balanced, if you will.
So, back to the fun school-y stuff, instead of making a fairy house this year, we are making fairy wings. We started out following a pattern I found in Little Acorn Learning.... but it did not go well. It called for using wire and panty hose, and then shaping the wire into wings.. and it turned out like this:
So, the Bug and I got crafty and used some Trader Joe's bags to create paper wings instead.
I used some of the wire and duct tape to put them together, and then a safety pin to attach the waist part of the panty hose... and voila!
We are in the middle of glue-gunning flowers and ribbon to the wings. Stay tuned for pics of the final product! :)
We also made some fairy bread - which is basically bread and butter and sprinkles, cut out in the shape of something with a cookie cutter. I didn't have white bread, which would have made this more delicious, I'm sure... but we used wheat. This is one of those instances where the fun in creating was not directly proportionate to the deliciousness. :)
Today hubby and Bug are on a field trip, and I am getting a glimpse of what life will be like next year with just me and Lulu all day. (Bug will be in school all day - first grade!!) We did puzzles this morning, and talked about numbers and colors and shapes.. it's fantastic. She is absolutely ready for me to pull out some preschool file folder games and learning activities. I am hoping to do more with her one morning a week (at least) this spring. So far, she has been doing a lot of independent play (and a LOT of imaginary play - ADORABLE!!), but lately she is asking for books to be read, and pulling out the "higher level" toys (like the puzzles). She showed me a circle, square, triangle, and heart today. She couldn't figure out which shape the heart was, but when I said "it's yellow!" she got it. We are using these wonderful "Fit-A-Shape Boards" I got at Lakeshore Learning a couple of weeks ago. Bug likes to play with them too - fun for all! :)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Winter Fun

So we are still here, still learning, still having fun in the Desert, exploring our world. :) As most of you know, I have given notice at work, yaay! I was feeling very swamped and overwhelmed. One of the casualties of that was that I was unable to do all the fun school-y and crafty things with my kids that we all so enjoy. I have now (once again) re-organized my office space, pulling out all the work stuff and getting the preschool activities organized. Lulu is turning TWO next month, and is so curious and ready to learn all about the world. So I have to get ready to accommodate that!! :) My last day will be sometime the week of March 5th, so I am going to get the Little Acorn Learning stuff ready for March. I'm so excited! :)

Here is what we have been doing:

Homemade playdough, with added sparkles for "snow" -- but the dough wasn't as white as I would like. Do they make white food coloring that I should have used?? The making of the dough and waiting for it to cool, and then playing with it? What a fun afternoon.

We also did some other snowman crafts throughout January. Lulu participated in her first crafting session with us. Gluing cotton balls onto a snowman. I put the glue down for her and said "stiiick" and she stuck each ball down. I also broke out the Crayola toddler markers (you can see the red one in the pic below). They are big chunky things with a marker on top. Honestly? I don't think they are any better than other markers. It's still a marker, and will get misused by a toddler no matter what you do to it!! I got them on clearance, though, and they are pretty cute.

My mom made ADORABLE aprons for me and the girls - Lulu likes to wear hers to bake "cookies" she got for Christmas. :) (Natalie had hers on above for the play-dough making)