Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Fun...

As usual I had many more Christmas activities planned than we could ever get to, but next year, right??? I did finally get the kids their own nativity set which was really neat. They enjoyed this Playmobile one.

I was excited to do a sensory box when I found the shiny red and silver stuffer at the dollar store. Then I hid lots of ornaments from the dollar store in there. However, that stuff is packed in there tight and it was hard to find anything in there. Lesson learned, less is more :)

Ashton had them cover their eyes while she hid the ornaments in the sensory box. How cute is Spiderman here?

He used his Spidey senses to get him a good one!

Oh, sensory bins are they always messy?

Carissa had some good printouts for Christmas marble painting. For some crazy reason I couldn't put my hands on any marbles. Not even the Hungry, Hungry Hippos came through for me! So, we used one of our Magneatos making it giant marble painting.
I really wanted to do one since it looked so fun.

My crafty girl has never met a craft she didn't like:
Oh, the concentration:
Next step, Mommy cuts out the tree and then on to glue and glitter-
Glitter glitter everywhere:
We have always had the tradition of making reindeer food since this guy was little and didn't have hands as big as mine! This is the year he stopped believing (although he told me not to tell him any more) so I was very excited he wanted to still participate.
We did this on Christmas Eve Eve so girl of course was getting her hair did.
This was the twins' first time to make reindeer food. They loved it.
We're all about antlers in this household:
Didn't he do a great job?
Will thought it was "punny".
We always feed the reindeer on our way out to Christmas at Grandmother's.These boys were serious about making sure Rudolph got fed:
Let the rest of the Christmas fun begin!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Masking Fun...

So glad God sent me twins so Jackson and Ashton would each have a partner to craft with. I picked up these fun masks for them to paint. My little stinker:

Apparently, Will chose to read while Jackson did his painting:

There something so perfect about having all 4 of my kids around the kitchen table working. We love homeschooling!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Fall Sensory Bin...

After another fun trip to the dollar store (it's so wrong how much I love that place!) I found this leaf dish, fake leaves plus some tongs. They picked the leaves up by the stem with the tongs and put them in the dish. They all enjoyed this: Then I got brave and broke out the fall sensory bins. One is filled with corn and the other with black beans. I had different fall things like pumpkins hidden in them. All 4 kids played well over an hour with this which is a miracle in itself. They didn't make as big a mess as they did last year, but I still sat there and picked spilled ones up the entire time before it got out of hand :)

I had also hidden Halloween foam stickers in there for them to find. Will was a big fan:
Unfortunately, he loved them so much he wanted to wear them as tattoos:
Wesley was all about the pouring, and quite excited by it too:
He also worked diligently with his tongs:
These were a lot of fun. I'm really convicted to do more sensory bins. I adore anything that gets them all playing and using their imaginations. I've seen so many great ideas out there in blogland that I can't wait to try some more. Plus, that means I get to go back to the dollar store, right???

Monday, August 30, 2010

Science Fair Crawfish Edition...

Our wonderful homeschool group had a science fair and we decided to study crawfish for it. We decided this because we had been playing in the creek with our friends the Parrishes and the kids were really into catching them. They even found some really cool pregnant ones! They had lots of questions about them so we decided to study them.
My kids live for science and history fair days!
Some of the things we studied and included on our board were:
1. a graph of a survey of what people call them: crawfish, or crawdad
2. poem about them
3. scientific drawing of them
4. pictures we took of the ones we caught
5. research reports by each kid on different topics, for example: food, habitat, body parts, reproduction, etc.
6. an acrostic poem
7. a drawing

I love watching the kids show other kids their reports. It amazed me how interested they are in learning about other kids' reports and asking so many questions.

We did this with the Parrishes (Maggie got sick that day.) and even brought in some crawfish to show off:
Days like this reinforce why I homeschool and are such a blessing!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

My New Schoolroom...

I finally decided I needed to just embrace the fact we're homeschoolers and turn our dining room into a schoolroom. And yes, you can see all this as soon as you walk in my front door. This is our reality though. We love having our schoolroom here. Before the twins would be locked in here while we were across the gate working in the kitchen which made them crazy and had me hopping the gate like a jumping horse :)
So I bought these great white cubbies and can store so much in them. The centerpiece is the great school table I got such a great deal on. The twins love it being in here as well because they drive their cars around and around and around!
This is Jackson's side. We use the great boxes as our workboxes. On the shelves we keep clip boards and our three ring binders we use for Galloping the Globe and copywork.

This is Ashton's side with her 12 boxes, mini office and copywork binder.
The twins sit right across from the table at their little table. We use this table all the time for schoolwork and those naughty meals we eat in the living room.
This is the bookshelf I bought with the school table. I have it organized with Jackson and Ashton's separate book and on the back are our unit study books.
This is my favorite part. I keep all their workbooks right there within arms reach. It has made us be much neater as we can both just reach right behind us to replace them. The shelves are just tall enough that the twins can't reach the markers and pencils on top- thank goodness! The red bins at the bottom have a lot of math manipulatives and center materials in them.
This is my other favorite spot. This is Tot School central. These shelves are ideal for their tot trays. They can choose to work at their table which is close, on the little carpet or sitting in their cute chairs.

I had to include this picture because it shows where most of our "teaching" has been occurring lately :) I was always anti-mini potty. I figured you might as well teach them to use the real potty from the get go. Then I started potty training twins and spent the first two days taking one or the other over the gate to the potty all day- literally! Then I decided they needed one their size and easily accessible. Plus I love that they have their books right behind them.

I happen to have a super supportive and handy husband who listened to my pleas for more storage space for school materials. He moved my washer and drier from the laundry room right off the kitchen to upstairs in our bedroom closet. It has been wonderful because I don't have to carry all our laundry downstairs and then back up. Plus, now I have an amazing amount of storage.
This is my new wireless printer (more awesome handy husband!), teaching books, science supplies, Play-Doh bin, orange bin for oversize Tot School stuff and the purple bin for things I am hoping to make into tot tools.
The best part is the 6 rolling drawers I was able to put where the washer and drier had been. They are STUFFED. They hold office supplies, art supplies, extra workbooks and tons of center supplies.
This used to be used for workboxes and now is on overflow space which also houses my beloved laminator!
We also have a world map that goes with Galloping the Globe. I was so glad to be able to move our bookshelf downstairs from Jackson's closet. It is much more convenient. I adore this bookshelf because my beloved grandfather built it for me as a child. Now it is two shades of blue because we painted it to match Jackson's old Blue's Clue's room and I can't bring myself to repaint it!
I am ridiculously excited about how organized these books are. Some are by author and some are by subject, but I know where everything is which is a small miracle.
This is the other side of my laundry room which is also my pantry. My husband installed all these shelves (this post is beginning to be an ode to him isn't it!). This makes me laugh because you know you're a homeschooler if your pantry has more school stuff than food! Only the third shelf has food on it :)I finally have a good place to store all our board games. They are even sorted by age. I'm hoping this encourages us to play them more. We all love to play games and I have no idea why we never seem to :(
Now we move back into the living room. We have a very good sized closet in there that I claimed for Tot School supplies. I have all our tot toys on the top 3 shelves because I only get them out during school time.
These are the bottom shelves which house their every day toys.
So, as you can see, it's a good thing I embraced that this is the house of homeschoolers because it is obviously taking over the house like it or not! In the interest of full disclosure my house is never this neat. I was part of a homeschool room tour my local homeschool support group did so I cleaned up for them and knew I better snap pictures while the opportunity was there!
Just wanted to share our space!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Free Goodies...

We have just started using Amanda Bennett's Download-N-Go units to supplement our studies. We are starting with Davy Crockett to compliment our TN history studies. Then we'll be doing Seashells before our trip to the beach. Ashton requested that one and Pizza. Jackson requested to study Benjamin Franklin and Amelia Earhart. The units are nice because everything is already done for you including internet links and videos. They also have a lapbook ready to go. I don't print everything (that would be hundreds of pages). I make a folder for them on my laptop, and they read through it on the computer rather than me printing a hard copy. That way when they get to a part that has an internet link they just have to click on it and go. They are fun supplements and cover a wide range of topics. I can't wait until we do Ireland! Did I mention they are really affordable too?
I plan on posting what we do with them in more detail as we work our way through them.
But this post is to tell you that you can get a FREE download of Expedition Mexico here. I hope you enjoy it, but hurry because it ends August 27th.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Tot School Prep...

My summer goal was to have some Tot School activities prepped and ready to roll. That way when my crazy, busy teaching 4 kids life rolls around, all I would have to do is grab something out of the pocket and be ready to roll. Plus, I got to use my laminator and it's always a fun day when I get to use my laminator :)
One of the things I always seem to let slip by are holidays. The holidays sneak up on me and I have nothing fun prepared. That happened to me at Easter, and I was so upset with myself because there are so many great Tot School Easter activities out there I felt like it was a wasted opportunity. So, I went ahead and printed all the great Easter freebies at Confessions of a Homeschooler (love, love, love that blog and all her awesome printables!).
I put my printer into overdrive, wore out some scissors and had my laminator smoking. Then I bagged each separate activity into cute little bags so it's be ready to roll come Easter. How's that for preplanning?

Then I had some more fun in Walmart's office supply department. I bought this expandable file folder in 3 different colors. This is now my holiday and theme folder. I'm working on printing activities for holidays as well as different themes I think the twins might enjoy like trains, farms or baseball. I also dream of making files for book studies including activities and crafts (I plan on starting with The Very Hungry Caterpillar next time I have free time-haha!).

My main accomplishment this summer was getting letter of the week activities ready, A-E at least. Again, I printed most of these from Erica's great blog. I'm so excited to start working on a letter a week with the twins. Some of the things I printed and prepared the boys might not quite be ready for, but I plan on using these for the next few years. I'll warn you that doing all this requires an investment in printer ink, but since it's free otherwise it makes it worth it. In fact, Jon and I decided to buy a Kodak printer since their ink is so much cheaper. I've printed and prepared A-E, and it's so thick with all the different activities that my nice file folder holder barely fastens! I'm going to have to get several more by the time I make it through the letter Z.

My kitchen table looked like this for a while, but it was fun. I have also scoured all my favorite blogs and preschool sites to find crafts that go along with the theme for each letter. I copied a picture of each craft I wanted to make and put them all into an alphabet document. For example, this week we started with the letter D for dinosaur so I found some fun dinosaur crafts to make with the boys. For some of them I went ahead and gathered the supplies for the crafts and added them to my letter D file.

It was so great this week when I was running around like crazy to just grab my D folder and start working with the boys. We had so much fun. In my file I also copied songs and rhymes to sing with the boys, but this time I made up my own "Dinosaur Starts with D Song". I've seen those blogs where people tape themselves singing songs and share. That is never going to happen here! You'll just have to trust me it was cute :)
I also have another folder for color, shape and number activities. They are also all things I've found for free on different blogs. For numbers, shapes and colors I intend to just pull out one or 2 activities here and there to go along with the letter activities.
I have to say I'm pretty proud of my organization which isn't always true with me :)
I only did the letters A-E to make sure the boys enjoyed the activities before I did them all. If this week is any indication, my only regret is that I didn't print and prepare more letters already.