Tag Archives: homeschool

K4: First Week

I wanted to start out the week like I’d imagine most classroom teachers do: setting the schedule and expectations.

The general schedule for our week will be to fit in an hour of dedicated school time the four mornings a week Landon has school.

The first couple days were spent introducing Lucy to the workbooks we’re going to start out using. She shows such an aversion to all things written [as opposed to drawn] that I bought a couple of books below her skill level to boost her confidence.

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I also bought one of those packs of blank books at Target and we spent a couple days creating an “About Me” book for her. Here’s her family page where she intentionally left off her brothers. She told me later she’s okay having two little brothers, even if it means she has to keep her stuff picked up.

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The star of the week was this science kit I snagged on Amazon for $8. We did the first experiment where you mix citric acid and baking soda.

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She loved the measuring and quick reaction. We tried it with hot and cold water as well.

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We played a few games and lined the alphabet magnets up in order to clear out the summer fog.

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If you want to get my daughter to sit still for extended periods of time, this fashion drawing pad I got her seems to be magic.

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doll fashion girl had *quite* a few updates this week.

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For anyone with a creative kid who makes you more treasures than you could ever hope to keep, I highly recommend going to blog route. We tried out the artkive app and liked it okay but I had to email the creations when I uploaded them. This way Lucy can go back and check out her work and I don’t feel bad about sending out 15 emails on a particularly creative day.

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Our School “Plans” 2014-2015

If there’s one thing almost five years of parenting has taught me, it’s the need for flexibility. Flexibility is definitely the name of the game this fall.

If you’ll remember, last year we expressed a desire to be a homeschooling family. We still have that desire, but we also have some other factors to consider. I think we’ve talked about Landon’s challenges before so I won’t rehash them here, but I will say that his third birthday has been extremely bittersweet. Turning three means he graduates out of his early intervention program that has been supplying speech and occupational therapies to him for the last 14 months. His services will now be supplied by our county’s special education program. In order to make that transition, we had to first have an evaluation. I talked about that evaluation a bit here, but I’ll summarize that the results were a bit surprising for us. We had assumed we would be taking him to our school district’s early childhood center for speech therapy to supplement the tot school we are doing at home. We went to Landon’s first IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meeting with that in mind, where it was instead recommended that he go to the early ed center for three hours a day, four days a week exclusively in a special ed classroom. We left that meeting feeling rather shocked. We’d been told his therapists didn’t think he would qualify for much, but instead he qualified for the most intensive, maximum amount of therapy available. We asked the opinion of the therapists who have come to know and care for Landon over the last 14 months and they said they thought he would benefit from going to the early childhood special education (ECSE) preschool. After an incredible amount of prayerful consideration, we signed him up. We don’t want our desire to homeschool to impede upon what’s best for our children.

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So here’s Landon when we walked over to his new school to register him this week. I’m really not sure how he’s going to do, honestly. I’m really not sure how I’m going to do, honestly. It’s hard having a child with extra needs. It’s hard when he fights me on everything [going potty, eating breakfast, wiping his face, getting dressed, going potty, sharing toys, not running into the street, not wanting to walk in the grass, wanting to eat leaves, riding in his car seat, not rubbing against the car, holding my hand in parking lots… You get the idea]. It’s hard to think of him needing something and being unable to express himself to someone trying to take care of other special needs children at the same time. And I know these are just mom worries. I know he’ll be fine. But it makes my heart hurt a little. And I might have started balling last week when a school bus drove down our street.

So that changed our “plans” for this year. We’ll continue to do Parents as Teachers with Cohen. We’ll have a pretty set schedule of taking Landon to school Monday through Thursday. And I’ve got big plans for Lucy.

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And she deserves it. The thing all of the wonderful support and intervention programs we’ve been a part of fail to help with is the sibling support. I asked her if she was jealous that Landon will go to a “real” school and she said, “No! I’m glad he’s going so that you and I can do big kid school and he won’t mess it up!” Ugh…

Last year we started the year doing a themed letter of the week concept for tot school. We got to ‘N’ and she said, “Mom, I know my letters, I like it better when we play games.” Well, okay then.

We had a few decisions to make regarding what level we wanted to start her at. Every kid is so different and learns so differently. So I’d say we’re starting out on a K4 level. She’s crazy smart but sometimes things look backwards to her and she’d rather spend her time playing  and imagining things. So I’m trying to pull something together that’s catered just to her. I have hopes that it will be heavy on the play-based learning, gentle on the standards-based skills, and light on the worksheets– you know all while being relatively inexpensive and not requiring too much of my time to plan or put together. No big deal…

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Homeschool Preschool | Letters H & I

After eight weeks of “maternity leave” we’re back to school.  You’ll have to overlook the fact that these pictures were taken with my phone, it seems to be the best way to capture their activities naturally and without interrupting their work flow.

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The construction paper letters continue to be a favorite.  I’d intended the blue squares to be windows but Lucy insisted it was a windowless house with two chimneys. Sounds good!

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We also painted hearts with q-tips. I just took a sheet of cardstock and folded it in half. I cut out a heart and then taped the frame of the heart to a clean sheet of cardstock. When they were finished painting we took off the top sheet and had some hearts.  I asked Lucy who she’d like to send them to and she couldn’t decide so she said, “Maybe we should just keep them.”

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We also talked about being helpers and one day when Daddy came home earlier from work we all made dinner together.

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I can’t find where I saw this idea to credit it, but we also said H was for hammer and hammered the alphabet pieces into our crepe puzzle.

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For ‘I’ we drew icicles.

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While Lucy was in quiet time one day I set up a ‘big I’ and ‘little I’ for her to put together when quiet time was over. It was actually pretty awesome because it extended my mama time juuuuust a little more.

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We also had some fun sensory play with a big bowl of water filled with water beads [instead of ice]. We threw our Toob penguins and whales in as well, but of course transferring the water beads from big bowl to little was the favorite part for both kiddos.

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Homeschool Preschool: The Letter G

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How cute is the craft from the letter G? Here’s our inspiration. Usually I cut out the pieces and take a picture of what it “could” look like and then I show the picture to Lucy and let her do her work independently. I’m learning more and more about her learning style each week of school and I think she really dwells in a hands-on, self-taught learning environment so I’m trying to figure out activities that build into that and make her feel she has a safe place to learn.

Our favorite books for the week were:

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How Groundhog’s Garden Grew by Lynne Cherry
The Curious Garden by Peter Brown
Who Am I? Giraffes by Moira Butterfield and Wayne Ford

Because we had a vegetable garden all summer, they really enjoyed the gardening books. We did a fun art activity where I cut some brown “pots” out of construction paper and let them plant whatever they wanted.

homeschool preschool | hey, beth baker!

homeschool preschool | hey, beth baker!

I let them use our special [read: not washable] Mr.Sketch smelly markers and they loved them. I thought they both did well. Lucy actually made a daisy, a pink rose, and a purple flower. She then went to her room for a while and I heard a lot of banging and crashing. When she emerged, she’d planted a “real” garden of her very own.

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We’ve had some very specific homework given to us by Landon’s occupational therapist so he’s been doing those for his “school”.

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He’s been riding on the sit ‘n spin to work on his core muscle strength.

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His speech therapist let us borrow this awesome Old McDonald set where Landon wears a felt type glove and there are animals with velcro so we can sing the song and put animals on his glove. He is a big [BIG] fan.

homeschool preschool | hey, beth baker!

homeschool preschool | hey, beth baker!

I found these playdough mats at learn.create.love and they enjoyed playing with them. We have been working on helping Landon stay engaged in activities for longer periods of time. We laminated ours so they’ll last a long time.

homeschool preschool | hey, beth baker!

homeschool preschool | hey, beth baker!

They both enjoyed the pattern block alphabet cards I found at Confessions of a Homeschooler. I laminated those too. I laminated a lot this week. :) It was great.

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Landon’s OT asked me to think of things he could stack that would require him to engage both hands. So cloth diaper laundry provided that opportunity. When he couldn’t make them all work in one stack he decided to try to stand on the stacks. Did.Not.Work. Hehe.

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For a Montessori inspired activity, Lucy polished my wood salad bowl. We just used some food grade wood oil, a paint brush, and a cloth to polish it. She got a little tired of doing it halfway through but persevered to do both sides when I asked. And in the end she was proud of her work.

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We did some work with our Learning Resources self-correcting sequencing cards [they were like 3 or 4 bucks at Toys ‘R Us]. These actually give us a good opportunity to work on some of the consonants we’re practicing for her speech. She’s not in speech therapy or anything, we just work at home on g, p, and f. If she can’t pick them up in a few months we’ll decide if she needs to get evaluated but I think for now we’ll just keep practicing. Landon’s speech therapist gave her some “homework” and she loved that she was included.

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She’s been practicing making lists. :)

So it was a great week. It was very light on worksheets and even letter formation but, like every week, it’s Lucy-led so I’ll just continue to try to give her activities that she asks for. It was fun to include some more pictures of what Landon’s week looks like. When I think of it as him doing “school” I do notice myself being more intentional and mindful of how he spends his time; that can’t be a bad thing!

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Homeschool Preschool: The Letters E & F

Sometimes I look at other preschool blogs that I really enjoy and they’ll show all the work they did in a week and I’ll think, “How!!?” We’re pretty [age-appropriately] low key around here. It works for us. I can’t even seem to post these updates with regular consistency, so I couldn’t imagine adding more activities! Just a good reminder [to myself] that you do what you can, when you can and you do your best not to compare to others. So, bonus post: two letters for the price of one. We definitely had some fun with the letter ‘E’.

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We started off the week by making an elephant puppet. I can’t speak for all toddlers, but my kids love puppets. So much. I didn’t really have a template for this. I did a Google image search for ‘elephant paper bag puppets’ and cut the pieces out of construction paper. I lined it up on the table to show her what it would look like and showed her one of the pictures on the computer. The rest is all her. :) She did most of it with a glue stick but we did have to reinforce the back seams of the heavier pieces like the ears with masking tape. This is definitely a preschool activity, not so much for the younger set.

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He was, however, completely occupied by the play dough.

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We glued googly eyes to a big construction paper ‘E’. She had a great time doing this, but it did lead to an interesting conversation about phonetics that she did not care about one bit. She had complete faith that if I told her eye begins with an ‘E’- well then it’s true.

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Our ‘E’ books were great.’ Dot the Fire Dog’ is still holding strong [spoiler alert: we’re still reading it]. I really enjoyed ‘I Am Eyes’.

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I picked up some Crayola dry erase boards on clearance at Target and Landon has really taken to his. We’ve been working with him to try to get him to engage in activities for longer periods of time and this guy is really helping out.

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We continued playing in our space rocket and Lucy continued to add “buttons” and adornments. Silly girl. We should find a safer helmet alternative, but that one only stays on for 30 seconds or so.

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This was my favorite moment of the week: anxiously awaiting story time.

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The letter ‘F’ week was a little light on the paper work. :) It was a beautiful week outside and each passing day of the calendar reminds us that our outdoor playground time is fleeting so we went to a different park nearly every day. We still did our F do-a-dot worksheets and practice but we didn’t do too much else.

The ‘F is for Fox’ activity was meant to go along with ‘The Fox and the Hound’ but I couldn’t find our copy of the book. I did, of course, find it this week. [p.s. our school desk is looking, “well used and well loved”. Gross.]

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We also did a craft with the book ‘Fish is Fish‘ [same author as ‘Swimmy’ which is another favorite]. Leo Lionni’s illustrations are amazing, so we did a craft to try to capture that in some small way.

homeschool preschool | hey, beth baker!

homeschool preschool | hey, beth baker!

I grabbed every different color of blue [washable] paint that we have and put them out on a palette so that color mixing would be a bit inevitable. Instead of using sponge stamper brushes I used some masking tape to adhere a cotton ball on the end of a craft stick. I do that for quicker clean up – no brushes to rinse out! And, the cotton balls gave the kids a surface which had different levels of absorbancy and gave their fish more dimensions.

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At two, Landon was mostly interested in getting as much paint on the cotton ball as possible, but that’s what art smocks were made for…

homeschool preschool | hey, beth baker!

Our week also included a lot of very tall tower building, which is a mama favorite too!

To end the weeks we reviewed all the letters we’ve learned so far using a salt tray. The tray is from the Melissa and Doug Lace and Trace set and held up the flashcards perfectly.

homeschool preschool | hey, beth baker!

homeschool preschool | hey, beth baker!

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Homeschool Preschool: The Letter D

I don’t want to say ‘D’ week was a dud, but it was certainly different. It was a four day week because of a holiday so we spent Monday at the park. It was perfect, actually.

homeschool preschool | hey, beth baker!

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We also made some sensory items as suggested by some of Landon’s therapists.

homeschool preschool | hey, beth baker

Sensory play is kind of amazing. My little guy is a bit of a seeker. He’s a thrill seeker [and likes to climb really high and fall]. He’s a smell seeker [be it the diaper pail or fall scented candle]. He’s a tactile seeker [he likes to rub his food on his arms to feel the texture]. He’s an affection seeker [but who’s complaining there]. And he’s a visual seeker [give that boy a picture book!]. At first it was suggested that he might have Sensory Processing Disorder [google it if you must] but after a couple evaluations we’ve happily landed with the decision that he’s just a little quirky and interested. He doesn’t have the behavioral problems that could stem from SPD and he’s able to control those impulses with some positive re-direction. I mean as much as any other male two-year-old. So, with that, it was suggested to us that if we don’t like some of the ways he seeks to have his senses delighted, we provide positive solutions. We can do that.

This is spiraling to a different place than the letter ‘D’ but I’m going to go with it. So, for example, he likes to climb and fall. Instead we’ve been making sure we get some swinging time in. Or another option suggested to us was the wrap him up in a blanket like a burrito and roll him out. But he likes the swinging. And we’re working on behavior correction for the diaper pail thing. Because him sticking his head in the diaper pail is gross. But he’s a good listener. He’ll get it. And he can smell that pumpkin candle until his little heart is content. There’s a Montessori thing with “smell jars” maybe we’ll try something like that.

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For a positive tactile experience we made some homemade play dough. They would play with this stuff every day. To put it over the edge we added some scents like cinnamon to one and peppermint essential oil to another. Maybe I’ll talk about that more later, but it’s been a fun little journey so far. We are so blessed with the early intervention program we’re in right now. We initially started the program just before his second birthday when he wasn’t talking. That led to speech therapy once a week. After a few months with our speech therapist, I asked her about a couple of Landon’s quirks and she brought them up with our service coordinator who agreed that maybe occupational therapy would be useful for our little guy [I guess during his initial evaluation his scores for areas like adaptive behavior were “borderline”]. Sometimes I think the stigma around these services is that they’re for kids who have something wrong with them. Not for normal kids. Which makes me feel a little crazy. I went to speech therapy as a kid. Actually, I wasn’t recommended for speech until the ripe age of nine when we moved houses and changed schools. I loved speech. Loved. I loved the “teacher”. I loved the fun games she had us play. I loved that after being in speech for a few months I was getting better and better at the consonants I couldn’t pronounce, which meant fewer and fewer instances of being picked on for the way I talked. Why wouldn’t I want that for my kid?! Okay, sorry. Whew!

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We started out the week with more books than these. There was a book about counting dinosaurs I thought would be an instant hit. But nope, these two were the real winners. And I’m not complaining because they’re great; totally the kinds of books you don’t mind reading over and over.

homeschool preschool | hey, beth baker!

The letter ‘D’ craft was inspired by this one. I think the construction paper letters are her favorite so we’ve had a great time doing those. The crazy part, to me, is that she wants to do them independently. I say it’s crazy because there are so many other aspects of school where she tells me she likes that it’s “Mommy Lucy time” but for the crafts she wants me to give her the gist and let her fly. I’m grateful. And to show it I lay on the couch until she’s done. ;)

homeschool preschool | hey, beth baker!

So, we didn’t spend a lot of time in the school room. But we did spend a lot of time on the living room floor. Reading books. Stacking blocks. All of that good, definitely just as important, stuff.

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Homeschool Preschool: The Letter C

The letter ‘C’! I’ll be honest and say I’m proud that we’re still going strong.

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I forgot to mention it last week, but it became obvious pretty quickly that we’d need a way to organize all of the fun stuff we’ve been doing. So we’ve been filing everything away in a 1 inch binder [that’s filling up a little quicker than I’d like!]. We also hang out our work for the day so that Chuck sees it when he gets home and the kids can talk to him about it.

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Here are the books for the week: The Cat in the Hat, Clifford at the Circus, Curious George, The Hungry Caterpillar [not pictured], and How to Hide a Butterfly. The butterfly book was added in because Lucy was still talking about them from last week. It’s ironic because she’s terrified of butterflies in real life. It worked out for our letter of the week because the whole book is about camouflaging.

homeschool preschool | hey, beth baker!

We focused pretty heavily on cutting and counting this week. The cutting she loved. The counting she despised [fickle toddlers]. Mead workbooks are always great so when I saw this one focused on cutting on clearance at Target, I snatched it right up. The basic idea of the book is that you have colored sheets in the back that you [the adult] can cut out and worksheets in the front. The worksheets are like stickers so they remove a piece and then snip up the strips you’ve provided and stick it on. Then when it’s all finished they can color on top of the parts they didn’t peel away.

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For counting we used Learning Resources Counting Cookies [which it doesn’t look like they make any more]. She loved this. She matched up the cookies [chocolate or vanilla and matched the colored filling] and then stacked them up and counted them. We also used the Lauri Number Play Puzzles. She’ll do just about anything puzzle related. It was when I started asking her about numerals that she declined. :)

homeschool preschool | hey, beth baker!

One day we went camping in the living room and she opened up a Barbie hospital/clothes store. Yep.

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homeschool preschool | hey, beth baker!

For our letter ‘C’ craft, we read The Hungry Caterpillar and did this craft. Landon lost interest in approximately 18 seconds. I thought he would like ripping the tissue paper but it was actually a little hard to rip. I already had the circles cut out on cardstock so after we ripped the paper I showed Lucy how to collage the tissue on using a paintbrush dipped in half glue, half water. She did a couple circles by herself and then asked for me to help her do a few more. We hung them up to dry and that afternoon I cut around the circle shape again [since some of the tissue spilled over the edges] and I gave her a bottle of glue to finish the craft. She had a really hard time gluing the pieces down because she wanted the caterpillar to be in a line, not in a ‘C’ shape. Which, let’s be honest, makes sense. So it would have perhaps been more successful if the paper she was gluing the circles to was already in the shape of a ‘C’.

homeschool preschool | hey, beth baker!

homeschool preschool | hey, beth baker!

homeschool preschool | hey, beth baker!

Worksheets were fun, as usual, and she’s working really hard to write her name. Her letters are already fairly neat but sometimes she gets so excited she loses track of what goes where. I did wonder this week if it would be a challenge for me, a right handed person to teach my little southpaw. I mean obviously teachers do it all the time, but they’re trained professionals. ;) She also requested a more challenging sheet for learning her numbers so I found one that included some tracing work [which she enjoys].

homeschool preschool | hey, beth baker!

Uncharacteristically, we stayed inside most of the week. The temperatures were in the triple digits and mama is six months pregnant. I did keep them occupied quite a while with some Hotwheels and a tube that came with a rug we purchased. They spent nearly an hour sending cars down the tube.

homeschool preschool | hey, beth baker!

The last activity we did involved our Toob animals [we’re building quite the collection] and some flash cards from the dollar spot at Target. We went through and tried to see how many animals on the flash cards matched ones from our collection. And then she got silly and replaced the turtles with a missile and the fish with an eel. But those giggles were pretty great, too.

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Homeschool Preschool: The Letter B

My goodness. We had so much fun with the letter ‘B’! Since it was successful last week, we used worksheets to ease our transition from weekend to school time. The key to keeping Landon occupied and happy seems to be having a lot for him to do so after he did some do-a-dot sheets I gave him some stickers. Stickers are great for working little fingers and coordination. To make it easier on him I removed the negative space part of the sticker sheet.

homeschool preschool | hey, beth baker!

He was really excited about the stickers. :)

homeschool preschool | hey, beth baker!

homeschool preschool | hey, beth baker!

Lucy has been breezing through hers so I’ve been trying to pull out some that will be more of a challenge for her.

homeschool preschool | hey, beth baker!

We started off another morning reading some books on bears that we got from the library. If you’ve never read “We’re Going On A Bear Hunt”, I will tell you it’s a much more fun read if you chant it.

homeschool preschool | hey, beth baker!

While the kids were eating breakfast, I hid a bunch of bear paws around the living room. I drew them freehand on a sheet of brown construction paper (with my husband’s help) and then numbered them and cut them out. I stuck them in their hiding places with painter’s tape.

homeschool preschool | hey, beth baker!

After she found them we ordered them by number on the window. She wanted to do this a few times so of course I obliged! It was seriously fun.

homeschool preschool | hey, beth baker!

For a fun day we took a ‘B’ picnic to the mall. We took rice cakes with “butter” as my kids call sunbutter, broccoli, and blueberries.

homeschool preschool | hey, beth baker!

The winning activity of the week was definitely the bumble “B”. She had a great time. It engaged her for a good amount of time. And then at the end she ran off to find those flower stickers to feed the bee. :) Here’s some directions for the craft.

homeschool preschool | hey, beth baker!

So I had this idea that it would be really fun to have a bubble bath scavenger hunt. We went through our big tub filled with all sorts of toob creatures and pulled out the things that start with ‘B’. We had everything in there from bugs to buses. I gave them sifters from our beach toys to dig stuff out. But here, my friends, is the problem. My three-and-a-half year-old was completely freaked out by the idea of bugs in the bath. There was shaking and screaming. Meanwhile Landon ate the bubbles. Mom fail. :) Learn from me. Laugh with me.

homeschool preschool | hey, beth baker!

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She did not, however, protest to the gummy bear graphing that we did. My sweet girl likes to sometimes pretend she doesn’t know how to count. I’m not sure why, but it’s obviously not vastly important [right now] that she perform that on command. The gummy bears, however, had her counting up a storm. We try to eat really healthy, but even I was a little embarrassed that this was the first time she’s ever had gummy bears. I helped her to know which color each bear should be on the sheet and then we put it in a plastic bag after so that the gummy bears she was going to eat wouldn’t sit on the marker ink [even if it is non-toxic].

homeschool preschool | hey, beth baker!

We also made our favorite banana bread [although we always make it as muffins]. This is what my children do while things bake in the oven. :)

homeschool preschool | hey, beth baker!

Lucy got a chance to paint one day while her little brother was sleeping.

homeschool preschool | hey, beth baker!

And we made ‘B is for berries’ smoothies. No recipe here, just threw kale, apple juice, frozen blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries, and fresh strawberries into a blender.

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Homeschool Preschool: The Letter A

As I promised in this post, I’m here to give a round-up of how our first week of homeschool preschool went. If you’re not into that kind of thing feel free to stick around for pictures of my adorable children. ;)

Our first week was ‘A’ week.

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We start off each Monday with these Do-A-Dot letter sheets. They are the favorite of both kids. Sometimes we do the dollar store rocks and then the markers but both kids agree that these are fun. I don’t usually recommend kind of expensive art materials but these markers are amazing. We tried the bingo markers from the dollar store and quickly found out they’re not washable. If you use a 40% Michaels coupon you can get the Do-A-Dots for a reasonable price.

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Thanks to garage sales, thrift stores, used book sales, and library discards we have a pretty decent home library for the kids. We did go to the library together to get the alligator and crocodile book because I knew Lucy would enjoy it.

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To go along with that book and the AlphaTales cd that is on repeat in our van [no, really. Sorry Chuck!] we did this craft. I saw it on this site, they have something for every letter so it’s a great resource.

homeschool preschool

We’re doing letter practice each week. I think it’ll be really fun to look back on it in 6 months and see how her penmanship has improved. Honestly, I see a huge difference in just the two weeks we’ve been going at it. Right now we’re mostly working on tracing, though she is practicing free-handing her name.

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We used our gems and some ice cube trays to practice sequencing.

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Landon was there, too. ;)

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I’m not sure it’s normal for a 3.5 year old but this kid has some serious spatial reasoning skills so her “fun” activity one day was a set of tangram cards I found at the dollar store last year. We put drawer liner under the shapes to keep them from sliding down and remove any frustration that might cause.

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We read 10 Apples Up On Top and tried out this activity. I thought she’d definitely like it because it involves using a glue stick but it failed. We tried it a few different times [because sometimes it’s just how she feels on a given day] but no dice. So we might try these the next time we work through the letter ‘A’.

homeschool preschool

Our games for the week included Deja Moo!. It’s pretty much a matching game but the cards are face up and they’re of the same cow but just a little different. So, for example, you’d have to find the match where both cows are wearing sunglasses.

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Ruk Shuk is a favorite of the adults of this house, but Lucy likes to pretend she’s playing by correctily ordering the rocks horizontally [instead of stacking them].

homeschool preschool

Castle Logix is just the right amount of puzzling logic for her. It has different levels of ability so it’ll last her a while. Which is good because we have a box full of 24 piece puzzles she’s discarded.

homeschool preschool

Landon likes to get in on the action sometimes. He wanted to help unload the dishwasher so I set him to the task of organizing the sippy cups.

homeschool preschool

Our fun ended with a “tea” party outside that included mulch and water. Yum.

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You’re Gonna What?!

homeschool preschool

This week marked our first week of homeschool preschool. Does that surprise you? I feel like it surprises a lot of people. I mean, my husband is a public school teacher. We support our schools. We support a strong community-based school system. The school district we live in isn’t great but we could send our kids elsewhere. The district Chuck teaches in has one of the best early education programs in the state, and it’s within walking distance of his building. It’s not a matter, for us, about feeling like public [or private] schools aren’t good enough.

Our homeschooling discussion actually began when we were still relatively newlyweds, not soon planning for a family. Oh a whim we picked up a book from the bargain bin one day called, “Crunchy Cons” by Rod Dreher. The premise of the book was that there are people who can cross the line between conservative and the granola-farmer’s market-tree hugging-Birkenstock wearing crowd. Granted in 2006 when the book was published the crunchy conservative group was probably a little smaller than it is now. But, for us, the book came at a time when we were trying to figure out how to “do” our marriage and who we were in the great, big world. It places a strong value on the importance of strong faith, families, and communities and we loved that.

In the book, Dreher spends more than a few pages talking about his family’s decision to homeschool. He talks about how it strengthens families. How an education can be perfectly tuned to the needs and desires of each child, each family.

“Strong, healthy individuals and strong, healthy societies cannot be made without strong, healthy families. Homeschooling puts the family first, and involves all its members sacrificially in helping its youngest learn and grow… ‘We want our children to be thoughtful and perceptive, to be able to weigh information and make wise, well-grounded decisions. We want faith to be an integral part of their lives, not a separate subject. If someone’s going to put spin on a topic, it’s going to be [us] and it’s going to be in the direction of what we believe to be right and true.'(p. 138)”.

So we kind of tucked that information away. It would be a few years before we started a family and then a few more we would even consider their schooling. And yet somehow, quicker than I would have ever believed, here we are.

And our situation has changed slightly. When Lucy was diagnosed with food allergies to wheat, dairy, eggs, and peanuts the choice to homeschool became easier. Without seeking, I stumbled upon story after story of parents who take on exhaustive, emotional battles with their children’s schools to ensure they have a safe environment in which to learn. I thought of her sitting alone at an “allergen free table” while her friends laughed at a lunch table farther away. I thought about her having to miss classroom activities where food would be involved. I read stories of children dying because they had an allergic reaction at school and no one was close by who could recognize the signs or administer an epi-pen. I think Lucy is understanding her food allergies more and more every day. She has experienced the digestive wrongs of just a small amount of something she can’t have and now asks, “Will this make me sick?” We don’t live in constant fear of her food limitations but we do recognize the need to exercise caution and the extra effort required to keep her safe.

So, now that I’ve sort of explained how we came to the decision, I did want to kind of put up a disclaimer that every person, every parent, every family is totally different and this is what we’ve decided to do right now. We are not “stuck” with this decision. It’s something we’ll seek out until God changes our perspective, if He so chooses. We don’t think it’s ‘right’ or that not homeschooling is ‘wrong’ [obviously, I mean Chuck is still a public school math teacher] but it is right for our family. There’s always a fear that someone will harshly judge you for a decision that you make, but that’s easily righted if you believe you’ve entrusted the decision to God. What I fear more is that someone would believe we think our present convictions are ‘better’ than theirs or that they’d feel any sense of perceived judgement coming from our direction. Just like everybody else, we’re just trying to build up a family that honors the calling Christ puts on our heart. Whew.

Onward. I thought I’d give a quick glimpse into what our days are looking like and how it’s going for us. Since Lucy is a few months from four, we wanted to start something official but we didn’t want to leave Landon (2) out of it. We plan on her being in preschool again next year so this year our objectives were simple:

-Following directions
-Letter & number recognition
-Write her name
-Memorize her address and a telephone number
-Create a positive perception of homeschool time, and begin a routine.

And for Landon they’re pretty basic:

-Following directions
-Imaginative Role Play
-“Homework” from Speech Therapist

homeschool preschool set up

We start the day with a Bible story and “devotion around the breakfast table. It usually involves these three books [The Jesus Storybook Bible, Thoughts To Make Your Heart Sing, and Big Thoughts For Little People] and we’re loosely following some of the ideas from here.

homeschool preschool

Because of their ages, our “school” time lasts between 20-40 minutes with Lucy fully engaged and Landon semi-participating. We’re trying out a workbox approach a la 1+1+1=1 but we’re only doing three per kid and I don’t have fancy bins. Before I commit any resources to it, I wanted to see how the kids would respond to the system so I used some organizers I had around the house [okay, they used to hold all of my fabric but with a baby coming in a few months and two toddlers to spare I’m not really doing much in the way of recreational crafting right now.].

On top of the shelves we’ve got a few workbooks. I know work pages are sort of questionable for some but Lucy LOVES them so I try to pick them up when I see them for a good price used [because usually a kid only did the first few pages and then it sat for a while and was quickly outgrown]. It’s cheaper to buy a workbook than it is to buy paper and ink for our home printer. I know, I did the math. :)

I also pick out three to five books for the theme of the week. Right now we’re just doing a basic ‘letter of the week’ thing and picking out topics that start with that letter. So for ‘A’ we did alligators and apples but I’ll share more in-depth about our week in another post. We’re also reading a lot of fairy tales, rhyming books, and poems with hand motions as suggested by our speech therapist.

homeschool preschool

There’s a bench adjacent to the little nook where the shelves are that we’re using as a desk. We’ve pulled up some kid-sized chairs and we keep our art trays on top to designate which space is for which kid. If you have two kids close in age that makes perfect sense to you. :)

homeschool preschool

On the first shelf we keep the “work” of the day: the printables based on the objective. Lucy has a desire to learn to write her letters so we’ve got some worksheets to help her towards that cause. The favorite sheet for both kids was actually the dot sheet.

Usually after we finish the first shelf we’ll go into the living room and snuggle up and read a few books and maybe sing a few songs.

The second shelf has our fun thing of the day. They’re both big on projects so we save those for second. They also involve markers, paint, glue, etc. so we wait to do those.

The bottom shelf has an independent activity for each of them based either on their interests or the theme, depending on what we already own. This is the most important shelf for Landon because he pretty quickly tires of the others. Which is okay. We’re really not looking for “book knowledge” from him as much as the ability to listen and sit still for a couple minutes.

It’s been fun to have this consistent routine. We’re doing these sit down days three days a week and keeping the other two days open for play dates and park adventures. This week we did the park one day and the zoo one day.

It’s working well for us so far. It’s just the right combination of structured and free play and short enough not to worry about it too much. I think it’ll be just the right amount of conditioning to make next year go smoothly. Hopefully I’ll learn a little something about how kids this age learn at home so that when L and L are older I have some activities to keep their younger siblings busy while they’re doing their reading and ‘rithmatic. :)

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