Thursday, October 6, 2011

Mommy Got an iPad!!!!

I have been asking for an iPad for a few months never really believing it was a possibility, but when my birthday started coming around the corner my amazing husband got onboard. He actually just took me to Target one night at 8:00 with all 4 kids a few hours before I left for a week long trip I hadn't packed for and told me to pick one. Sadly, I don't do spontaneous well and couldn't bring myself to spend that much money without mulling it over, and over and over...

So, about a week later he finally convinced me that we should just go for it (ironic, huh?). Of course, I later realized that I married an evil genius because I paid for half of it out of my school budget and picked out my own gift!
Since then I have had to referee 56,326,354,564 fights over whose turn it is to play on it, but I've also sneakily downloaded tons of educational games for them to play. I guess that makes me Mrs. Evil Genius ;)
I can't wait to share all the ways we've discovered to use it in our homeschool. Maybe I can even actually blog all the things I want to since on my iPad I can take a picture and then blog it thus eliminating the waiting to download pictures wait time (can you hear angels singing right now? I sure can!).

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Why I Haven’t Done a Sensory Box in a While…

I love sensory boxes. I have an entire board on my Pinterest account where I put all the cute ideas I find for them. I do have plans to do another one soon, but then I remember the feeling of picking up all the little pieces and the look my husband gives me that I have lost my mind. I guess I can't blame him. Our "Going on a Bear Hunt" tub turned into this:



I guess a lot senses were being engaged at least!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Double Trouble Fun...

DSC_0197I am ashamed to say that I don't spend enough time working with the boys as I should. When you are #3 and 4 your over siblings often overshadow you. On this day however, the big kids were gone and I was determined to do something with Will and Wesley. There is nothing they love more than popsicles so I thought it would be fun to teach them how to make their own. They helped me make Koolaid and pour it into popsicle molds. They were surprisingly great about taking turns and letting each other have a chance at all the different things.

They were so preciously excited to be helping mommy. Such a simple thing but such a great memory. The only thing that wasn't so great was how they didn't understand it took a really long time for popsicles to freeze...


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Homemade Goodness...

We have this wonderful Aunt Donnie who is quite the seamstress, and lucky for me she only sews for my kids (pretty awesome, right?). Occasionally as I am blog surfing I see really cute homemade goodies and just happen to send her a link...

And because she has the ability and time to focus and follow through (unlike me) she will shortly show up at my door with some homemade goodness.
I'm really working with the boys on their numbers so was very excited to see these cookies with different "chocolate chips" to count on one of my favorite blogs, Counting Coconuts.

Since the twins are their father's child I knew this activity where they got to go fishing to practice counting would be a big hit:

I saw this button board on Tired, Need Sleep and knew I needed one :)
The possibilites are endless with this board: fine motor skills, shapes, colors, patterning and maybe even learning how to button their jeans back after, well you know.

So, here's a little bloggy love to our crafty Aunt Donnie. We are SO glad you retired :)

Sunday, July 31, 2011

2010-2011 School Year In Review...

I went through some pictures to share for the slide show at our tutorial slide show. I'm always hard on myself because I always dream more things than it is possible to do, but I didn't really feel like this was our best year. Mostly because we were so busy with other things which really took us away from school more than it should have. Monday we were mostly home, but we were always tired and slow to start. Then Jackson had guitar lessons. On Tuesdays and Thursdays the twins went to Mother's Day Out at our church. I thought we'd get more done with them at school for a few hours. Some days we did but getting up and getting out and then having to pick them up... Of course, then there was also the thrill of only having two children and luring me to Target! Wednesday I had to take them to speech therapy, and Friday was our tutorial. All this kept us going and going and not as much school happening as I would've liked.

My main goal this year is to streamline our life and not allow the HOME part be removed from our homeschool! Yet, when I looked back through the pictures I had taken maybe we got more accomplished than I gave us credit for- more important things at least, like field trips, projects, quality time. That's worth getting behind in a few workbooks any day, right?

So, here are some of our 4th/2nd grade highlights. We always take "first day" pictures. Aren't they cute? Of course, Will wouldn't cooperate :(

Every year we always raise butterflies. I couldn't believe how into it the twins were this year! Will especially was amazed and loved everything about the entire process.

Of course, I love the educational value and all, but I have to say the great pictures I usually get on release day inspires me in no small part :)

We had a great time on "Release Day". We use orange slices to entice the butterflies to hand around a bit. The twins loved it, but it was a challenge to keep them from eating the orange slices :)
Of course, Jackson is in his happy place any time animals are involved:

One of our favorite field trips of the year is the Trade Days at Traveler's Rest where they have lots of reenactors showing trades from the 1800's. My kids definitely inherited my love of history and always want to stay there all day!

They have lots of fun stations for the kids to make things:

But this year BY FAR their FAVORITE thing was the washing clothes station. I cannot begin to explain how much they loved this. They washed clothes for probably 30 minutes and were upset when we had to leave! Maybe I need to set something like this up at home. I'll take all the laundry help I can get!

We started off the year with a fun unit about TN History. Of course, Ashton was all about the crafts and her iris turned out beautiful:

These two were working on their diaramas for our history fair. Maggie made a Native American scene and Jackson created Fort Nashborough. Ashton made Ruby Falls.

We took a field trip to the Bicentennial Mall which is wonderful. On the giant map of TN Jackson found his namesake city. We played lots of great games on this giant map to learn the geography of our state. I love this place.We also went to Fort Nashborough to see the beginnings of our great city.

Every year our homeschool group has a History Fair. It's the first event we ever participated in and remains our favorite. This year we presented our TN history projects. It came out pretty awesome. We made lifesize research reports of famous Tennesseans and wrote acrostics with their names and facts about them. Maggie chose Nancy Ward. Ashton chose Grace (?) a famous opera singer mostly so she could draw a pretty dress :)

Jackson, of course, chose Andrew Jackson.

They also did a leaf collection. I gave them a menu of project choices to complete like watercolors of the state symbols, flip books of facts, maps of the 3 grand divisions, Q is for duck flip book (including facts like V is for TN because it is the Volunteer State). Ashton also worked with her Aunt Donnie and sewed a state flag. They were all so wonderful we almost didn't have enough display room!

They also insisted on dressing up. Maggie was Nancy Ward. Jackson was Davy Crockett, and Ashton was a little girl from the Civil War.

What a great day to show off lots of hard work!

This year we had the amazing opportunity to participate in a tutorial. I taught Story of the World to grades 2nd, 3rd and 4th which meant that I got to have both kids in my class! It was great teaching in a "classroom" setting again, and the kids loved it and made some great friends. They both took anatomy which included dozens of fun experiments. Jackson took an IEW class, and his writing was really improved by the end of the year. Ashton was in heaven in her Meet the Masters art class. They both took sign language which to be honest I was a little unsure about at first. However, their teacher was phenomenal and they both took to sign language and were quite good at it.

I only remembered my camera about twice. This is Jackson in my class making a mosaic when we studied Rome.

On the last day of my class everyone got to dress up like Romans. My history loving kids had chosen to be Romans for Halloween this year, so that was easy :)

So, as I look back it truly was a great year. Homeschooling is such an honor and a blessing. I'm even more excited about this year and looking forward to many more years spending time and making memories with my 4 little blessings.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Why Didn't I Come Up with This?

Jackson got this very complicated toy. It's made of little pieces of wood. That's it. Oh, and it usually sells for $60 though I paid a third of that at Costco. So, why didn't I think of selling little pieces of wood for 400 times the cost?

Seems so simple, but you can't imagine how much he has enjoyed these little pieces of wood! It just goes to show the simpler the toy the more they are able to use their imagination. Remind me why I have all these toys lying around everywhere again? I'm so tempted to throw them all away and let them lose with some cardboard boxes that I can just throw away when it's cleaning day.

OK, off my soapbox now. So, Jackson has created many great things:

I think here he is really just trying to keep Wesley from knocking down his creation:

They even, gasp, worked together! I loved the fire in the middle. This was Fort Nashborough we studied during TN history.

By far, my favorite was the Coliseum since we had just started studying Rome. I thought it was pretty impressive:

They were so proud of their creation (and Mommy was just waiting for the crying, screaming and gnashing of teeth about to happen when this cute little 3 year old knocked it over!).

So, go pick up some CitiBlocs and wish you'd invented them too!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Music Fun...

The kids were supposed to go on a field trip to the symphony when it occurred to me that I haven't done a great job teaching about all the instruments. I'm embarrassed to say that I never seem to fit music in the day like I wish I could. I figured there was no time like the present and at least they'd have a base of knowledge to build upon when they did go to the symphony. I found these great instrument cards at a wonderful Montessori inspired blog I love, Counting Coconuts. I printed 2 copies on cardstock so they could later play a matching game.

First, we talked about the categories of instruments. I have them sort one set of the cards into a giant graph and tell me which one had the most:

As usual, it was a pajama kind of day. In this picture you can also see the edge of the Coliseum they built, an art easel, and a house we were using for our bear hunt sensory bin. Oh, the joys of a homeschooling house...

Then they played a game of instrument go fish. Good times, and they didn't realize it but they were learning the names of all the instruments. Sneaky me :)

So, we still have a long way to go in the music education department, but what a fun way to start! They also absolutely loved the symphony, and we plan on going back soon.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

First Chapter Book!!!!!!!!!!

Well, I did the classic thing that homeschool mommies are always warned about it. You'd think I'd know better, but I fell into the trap. I began to panic about the fact that my daughter didn't love to read and wasn't reading well enough. She was in the beginning of second grade and still chose step 1 reading books for free reading time. She would rather take the easy route than try something and fail so she always chose the books she knew she could read easily. Not only that, but she didn't like to read. I wasn't sure how that even happened. I mean I vaguely remember giving birth to this child so I knew she had to have at least half my DNA. I can easily read a book a day (if those annoying things like housekeeping, cooking and laundry don't interfere), so if the math is right she should at least want to read half a book a day, right?

But, that was far from the case and I was worried. It's hard sometimes being the teacher and the mommy because you take the full blame when something doesn't seem to be clicking. After a panicked e-mail to the homeschool mommies I admire who have older daughters, they all told me what I knew down deep inside (all kids learn at different rates, just keep reading to her and pushing her, the beauty of homeschooling is that they can learn when they are ready, etc...). They also included personal anecdotes about their daughters not liking reading at Ashton's age. Those were girls who now read voraciously, and who I usually talk books with when I see them. That renewed my hope and settled my panic.

I followed their advice and just encouraged my daughter where she was (although I did pack up all the easy, easy readers to take away that choice :). Then just about 2 months later she woke up and informed me that she had stayed up late reading a Junie B. Jones book and finished half of it! She asked if she could keep reading and finish it all. We quickly squeezed in some math then I let her read away. She finished it in the early afternoon. I told her she had read an entire chapter book in 19 hours- including the 9 hours she was asleep! We all celebrated like mad and made a giant, humongous, told everyone we know deal out of it.

And just like that, MY daughter became a reader:

And I became a little bit wiser mommy, very grateful for the gift of far wiser friends.

Symmetry the Fun Way...

I have this dream of the type of math teacher I want to be. I love the living math and hands-on approach. I just never seem to pull them off due to lack of planning time and inability to follow through. But today I rocked it (if I do say so myself-hee hee). We had a great time learning about symmetry.

First, we got out the twins' letter blocks and we sorted all the letters into symmetrical:

and non-symmetrical:
Then we used our Bendaroos (or Wikki Sticks) to show where the line of symmetry was and sorted the blocks into vertical, horizontal, or both lines of symmetry.

The bendaroos were perfect for this activity:

Then we figured out what the fraction of each category would be which was a great lesson in fractions:

Then I gave them more fraction questions to do on their own (what fraction are red, what fraction are yellow and blue together). They did great and really showed an understanding of fractions.

So, this day was a great math day. If only I could figure out how to make them all like this......

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Dollar Store Centers #10...

While I love shopping at the dollar store to make up new learning centers, it's nice to find one ready to go too. They really have a great learning section which I frequent way too often. Ashton did great with these synonym and antonym match ups:

I so need to make sure to do more learning games with her because she always has this face when doing centers as opposed to the angry face I sometimes (I know, shocking, right.) receive during school hours:

It was a good activity with some good words, especially for a dollar.

My girl is growing up way too fast!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Take a Shot at Drilling...

Always looking to add a little fun, we took our math practice to the court, the basketball court that is. I would flash them two numbers. Ashton had to add them, and Jackson had to multiply them. The first one to answer got to take a shot at our basketball goal. The first to 21 was the winner, but when math facts are being learned we're all winners. That's how I felt anyway :)

I think this is what you call a game face: As an awesome added bonus, it kept these two still for a couple minutes anyway as they cheered on the drillers:

So, come up with a reason to get outside and for a reason to count it as school as well!

Sunday, April 3, 2011


We just did a mini-lesson on symmetry and wanted to follow it up with some much needed art. After talking about all the places in nature that symmetry can be found, I challenged them to create a symmetrical butterfly. I was so proud of what they came up with. I loved Jackson's mean butterfly:

Ashton did a great job as well:

These came out so well I think a framing might be in their future!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Cars for Sale...

Imagine my surprise to come outside one day to find my little entrepreneur girl had turned our driveway into a car dealership. She already had some interested customers (it might've had something to do with the fact that she was "selling" their cars).

She was really putting the sell on this handsome customer: I love his look here like he's really thinking it over or maybe he's just trying to negotiate:
Apparently he feels like he got a good deal and seems pleased with his purchase:
She made signs and money and everything :)
This is a full service dealership and even offers repairs. They're free I'm sure!
I thought I was just there taking pictures, but she talked me into making a purchase as well:
I love how she always includes the twins in her play and they eat it up.