Friday, October 28, 2016

U is for Us!

(MFW Kinder, Unit 7)

I want to take a minute to explain our "number of the day" system. Each day, the boys circle a number on the chart (alternating boys/colors). We identify the number. One boy adds a popsicle stick, and we count those (we bind in groups of ten each time we reach a multiple of ten, then count those by tens). The other boy adds a "penny". (play felt $ from the Target $ spot) We use the fewest coins we can to get to our number and then count those. I've promised them ice cream or something special when we get to 100!

"Us" (human body) ideas...
read books about body parts, play "point to body parts" game, read books about how God made us special, smell=do a smell guessing game with a blindfold, taste=same as smell but with tasting things, hearing=make instruments (see below) or do a hearing guessing game with different sounds, touch=put random items into a long sock & have stick their hand in & guess what they are feeling, sight=put 4-6 items in front of them, name & study each one, remove one while they aren't looking & have them try to guess what's missing

Number of the Day
Cuisinaire U page

Our hands-on letter was using glitter glue
Making "us" badges
We did a smell test to study the sense of smell. Each boy's answer is listed 1st with the real answer listed 2nd.
beginning sounds sorting
For the sense of hearing, we made homemade instruments- drums & foil folded over a comb
...a "guitar" with rubber bands of various thicknesses & a shaker (water bottle with dried beans) super simple!

Life happens...
Superman jammies!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

T is for Turtle!

(MFW, Kinder, Unit 6)

Hands on letter activity ideas. Each week we try to choose one of these.
  • make the letter out of play-doh or any other modeling compound
  • make pancakes or cookies in shape of the letter
  • trace the letter in a box with salt or sand or go outside & draw it in the dirt
  • make it out of sticks (best with straight line letters)
  • make jello & use cookie cutters to make letter shapes
What we did for our turtle unit...
made turtles out of paper bowls & green foam for the legs, head, & tail; read The Tortoise & the Hare; I watched during the week to catch them using perseverance, and they did a couple of times :) ; sorted out small animal reptiles & played in water with them; talked about the characteristics of reptiles; and observed our own red-eared slider, Timmy (sorry, didn't get a pic).
all his work for the unit
Math sheet "turtle race", working on ordinal numbers (MFW)
Kumon cutting sheet was about a turtle race!

T is for tower!
reptile sensory bin
making letters out of sticks
painting turtles
the finished product

Life happens...
Kruiser at his desk, which is in the other room to avoid distractions.
This is how active boys read.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Things I'm Loving

Sitting out on the porch in the early morning (especially the few teasing days where it feels like fall in October in Texas) reading my Bible & praying on this
Best Choice Products Hanging Hammock Chair with Arc Stand.

I got mine for $170 on, but this one is now $124! Super Dad doesn't like how much room it takes up on our back porch, but he said I could do whatever I wanted with our garage sale money, so.... ;) It is amazing and so comfortable! All my friends who have seen it want one.

Pumpkin spice. Even though cold weather is nowhere to be found except on random mornings where it dips down into the 50's for a few minutes, we can still enjoy one perk from fall! Here is my iced coffee with pumpkin spice creamer (yes, it's fake, because I haven't seen that flavor in any of the healthy creamers yet) & these new bars I discovered that were on sale this week at the grocery store. The protein is grass fed whey, no fake sweeteners, added fish oil, and yes, pumpkin flavored. :)

Podcasts. While doing dishes or housework, I've been putting my ear buds in to listen to something inspiring or entertaining. Since none are ones I'd want to listen to every day, I switch around. Serial (real life crime cases), Jamie Ivey's Happy Hour (Christianity/living well), John Piper's Ask Pastor John or others (theology/Christian living), Heidi St. John (homeschooling/mothering), Chris Kresser (health/nutrition) are ones I've been enjoying lately. 

Yoga. I've been doing some free videos off of, the ones that look void of prayer stones, relics, chants, or saluting the sun. I just want to do the bodily positions. I have already noticed a difference in my posture & the way I carry myself. My back & core are in desperate need of this! There is Christian Yoga out there, but I couldn't find enough free videos on it.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

N is for Nest!

(MFW, Kinder, Unit 5) 

This week, I wanted to write a little about how we simplify MFW Kinder for the Pre-K level. First off, we do a theme for 4 days instead of 6. We only do school with Skipper 3 days a week, so it takes longer than a week, but we just do whatever day is next in the plan. Here's what we do for the language arts part each day.
Day 1- introduce letter & flashcard, trace letter with finger, we sing the Leap Frog letter sound song for that letter. "The A says /a/, the A says /a/, every letter makes a sounds, the A says /a/," to the tune of The Farmer in the Dell. Then we sing the MFW song for all the letters. We also do the cut apart page. (This is Day 1:1-4 on their Teacher's Guide.)

Day 2: We do a hands-on letter activity (see next week), sing a song about the vowel sounds, do a handwriting sheet- we use this book instead of the sheets MFW has, but some PreK-ers would be able to do those. (Day 1:5 & Day 2:1-2 in TG)
Day 3: a review game w/ MFW stuff, sound discrimination sheet, & blend ladder (see pic below) (Day 2:3-4 & Day 3:3 in the TG)

Day 4: play a review game where I put 6 letters out- we review all of them, and then I say a word & he points to the letter that begins that word, another phonics worksheet- whatever I can find, & then we play a phonics review game- again, whatever I feel like that day. (Day 3:2, 5 & Day 4:5 in the TG)

Nest ideas...
make nests out of straw & mud or play-doh, observe nests outside, match animals to their homes (there are lots of worksheets online), play with or learn about birds or eggs

Skipper loves our hammer pictures as much as Kruiser did. I don't think they sell this set anymore, but it's similar to this.

Math game from K4 Letter of Week. You circle the numbers you roll, and whoever circles all theirs first wins.

playing an animal/home matching game

Life Happens...
I put Skipper in the front of the cart after he begged to ride. We quickly realized he was too big! :( So I documented his last ride in a shopping cart, haha. It's the little things. He had to bring his bear along for the ride.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Ways you are Ruining Facebook for Everyone

  1. Posting only about one thing. We understand your passion, but try to vary your posts as much as possible to appeal to a wider audience.
  2. Using your personal site as primarily a business account. For business, create a page, not a profile. If you're posting more than 25% about your business on your personal site, you'll lose friends or followers because of it.
  3. Unfriending people over differences. If someone is being outright rude or abusive, I block them (I think that's happened once... I have great friends!!). I only unfriend if someone's being creepy or scary, and that's never happened, because I only friend people I know in real life (with a very few exceptions of people I've known online for some time, and then only females of course!) I realize people have facebook accounts for different reasons. If you only want family on your account, or only close friends, that's completely fine. However, unfriending or blocking someone because you don't agree with everything they say is immature. Don't be afraid to let your views be stretched.
  4. Being offended over every little thing. So your friend called formula feeders lazy. Speak up if you want; she may not have thought about all the reasons someone may need to formula feed. That will help her think more thoroughly & accurately about her future posts, but try not to take it personally. If you know laziness wasn't your motivation, just move on. There's a joke meme about candy giving you diabetes. This is different, because it's a joke. The vast majority of us know this would only be talking about Type 2 Diabetes, and while it's also true that not all of those cases are caused by lifestyle, it's a joke. We're all offended at times, and it's easy to think of things that don't offend you as no big deal, but I also think we could all benefit from giving others the benefit of the doubt. Their motives for posting were to advocate for breastfeeding and to make people laugh, both noble motives, right?
  5. Posting controversial things and being shocked when people offer a rebuttal. Did you think everyone would automatically agree with you? If it's controversial, it's going to be controversial. If you don't have an intelligent answer back, maybe you need to revisit your belief.
  6. Complaining about "all the negative posts". There are those who want FB to be only a happy place, full of funny memes & baby pics. That's fine, but like your mama taught you, you can only control yourself. Post only that stuff if it makes you happy. Some personality types like to battle ideas; some like to post areas where they're struggling to build rapport with other strugglers or ask for prayer. Let others have their thing. Allow them to be different.
  7. Posting about your absolutely perfect life ONLY. Really guys, no one's buying it. 
  8. Being rude. Seriously just don't. Respect others enough to be tactful. When you start insulting, you've lost your argument, and intelligent people know this. 
  9. And finally... (and yes, this one's for the Baby Boomers), posting "forwards" you haven't yet verified. ;)

Friday, October 7, 2016

Routine Tips Worth Remembering

If I could have just one dream job, it would be to make schedules all day for people, organizations, schools. My brother recounted recently my endless charts I would work on as a child against which the whole rest of my family would rebel. In my personal life, I feel like I've created many failures with them in the past. It's from those that I've learned what I'm about to share with you. Hope this helps someone. :) 

1- Set goals/priorities before you set times.
Write down what you want to accomplish with your day. Then realize it will be more than you are able. Once you start plugging that list into time slots, you'll realize it won't all fit. That's OK! Rotate things, or just cross it off your list for a different season of life. God gave you 24 hours. He doesn't expect you to do more than what will fit into those! If you expect that of yourself, throw that expectation out! It's just not happening. Later, when your kids are older, when you're in a different season of life, you may have time for it. Make sure you have room for your FEW biggest non-negotiables. 

2- Keep what's working.

Don't change your whole routine around every time one little thing isn't working. The parts of your day that run smoothly you want to keep like that! If it ain't broke, don't fix it. ;)

3- Margin, margin, margin!

There are many ways to include margin into your day. Here's how I do it. We have 3 30 min blocks in our morning school time. 2 of those take only 20 min to complete, usually, but I keep them in a 30 min slot. I schedule breaks throughout the day. Lunch break is 1 hour. It takes us 15-20 min to eat. Since my kids are still young (4 & 7), they need that extra time. We have other breaks scheduled throughout the day. Another thing I do is have large of blocks of time with a list to complete. 5-6 chores within a 3 hour slot. I don't schedule each one individually. Some weeks some of those chores don't need doing. Other weeks I don't even have time to get to them all. Most of the time, when I stay on top of things, they take an hour, and I get the rest of the time to work on projects I want to do, read, etc. The reason you need margin is so you don't stress when unexpected things (a.k.a. small children, or humans in general) come up.

4- Keep adjusting

For some reason, once my schedule was set, I thought it was admitting failure to change it (and I'd change the WHOLE thing, see #2 above.) It's really not; it's life. Something in your schedule won't work out right. Expect it. Sit down every few weeks for a few minutes & tweak it. This is why I write mine in pencil instead of typing it out on pretty paper & posting it up like I used to. (3 weeks in, it would be a mirror of my failure, staring me in the face, haha!)

5- Get up in time to feel on top of your day, instead of vice versa!

This is something I just started, and I am hesitant to even write about it yet. From the time my oldest was born until very recently, I never woke up before my kids. Ever. They were my alarm clock. Giving myself just 15 extra minutes is life changing. And I don't even know that I should have been doing it all along (definitely not when they were still waking throughout the night!). Maybe this is just the time in my life where God wanted me to start. It is a game changer for me and the rest of my day. The exact time will be different for everyone. This is helping me stay motivated. 
On the other end of this, have a bed time. I go to bed to read about an hour before I want to be asleep.

6- Flex time
Flex time is time set aside to make up for what's been missed because of unforeseen things that come up. Think of inclement weather days at school. If there's inclement weather, that day is set aside to make it up. If there isn't, it's a day off! Flex time added to each day, each week, and to days of school if you homeschool can help to add more margin. Another way to use it is to designate less important lessons or times as Flex Times. When I taught, I would set aside 2 weeks in each subject as flex time. Those lessons were the least important things I was teaching that year, so it was no big deal if we didn't get to them. I would move more important things into that spot as needed. That was so helpful the year Hurricane Ike swept through Houston & left us out of school for 2 weeks! I have 2 Flex Weeks at the end of each home school year for sicknesses, and we get those weeks off if we don't need them!