Training

Putting Sam, our four year old, in Pre-K was a hard decision for us. We value so much keeping the kids home during the precious early years, and our older two did not start “official” schooling until they were six. There were several factors, however, that really made the choice clear, including the fact that his teacher is amazing! Another thing we took into consideration was knowing how much I would have to focus on the older two kids’ lessons, and I really did not want to neglect him during the at-home days. Sam being in Pre-K has been a blessing on so many levels, and it has allowed me to give him individualized attention. So many of the activities that he got to do as part of his curriculum are things that we have done in our home, especially with the older kids. But with the older two in school, I am not sure I could have, or would have, made the time for him to experience as much as he did. He loved his activities and looked forward to them every day.

I took pictures with my phone of several of the activities and I wanted to share them because they are simple, hands-on things you can do at home with your little ones. They all reinforce areas of development during the toddler years. Most of these activities are found in the book Mommy Teach Me by Barbara Curtis. I highly recommend the book for anyone who wants to add some purpose and perspective to at-home activities. In the book, she clearly explains how to go about each of the activities, making the connection to the significance of training our children in the Lord.

Nine times out of ten, the other kids would want to join in also! We usually have some sort of hands-on activity right before lunch, either from Sam’s lesson or an art project, and as a side note, this is what keeps them busy while I make lunch!

Practicing letters in rice- other options are flour, sugar or sand.

Sorting Legos with salad tongs.

Transferring water from one container to another with a sponge.

Peeling carrots!

Slicing apples for apple sauce.

Transferring water with a dropper. I saved one from a medicine bottle. Adding food coloring to the water makes it more interesting!

Transferring beans from one container to another… Always left to right.

Sam has practiced and developed his hand-eye coordination, left to right sequence, sorting, handwriting, patience, attention span, and so important at this age–self-control! But it is clear to Sam, and became clear to us, that the purpose of all these activities is one thing… mere training for the more important things in that boy’s life…

 

The Magician’s Nephew Cake

Our school finished reading The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis last week, so of course we had to celebrate! The kids got to come to school dressed up as one of the characters from the book, and enjoy some Narnian activities during lunch.

At morning assembly, the headmaster planted a piece of toffee in a big pot, telling the kids that it was soil from the land of Narnia. At lunch time, we pulled back the curtains and lo and behold, a full toffee tree had grown, with toffee ready for picking! The kids went crazy- it was awesome.

There was also a trivia game that the classes competed in- winner got the silver apple. It is an actual apple, dipped in white chocolate, and spray painted silver. The first grade won, and sliced the apple into twelve pieces!

The lion was molded out of rice krispie treats by my husband. He is so talented, no?

Charlotte’s Web Party

Jeremiah’s kindergarten class finished listening to Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White this week, and to celebrate I helped organize a simple party. I was able to snap a few pictures of the activities while running around helping!

We divided the class into four groups and had them rotate through different stations in the room.

First, was Zuckerman’s Farm, where Charlotte hung on her web. The kids dug through the “dumpster” trash, like Templeton, and had to find words that describe Wilbur.

 

Then they each had to write the word out with white pipe cleaners and place it on the web to make it look like Charlotte wrote it!

These are some of the words they found…

The next station was the Somerset County Fair! The kids played a few carnival games and won prizes.

The prizes were small plastic pigs, rings with scenes from the book, “ticket” candy, and crazy straws.

For the next station, I brought our farm animals, small blocks, and a carnival Lego set. They got to build their own scenes from the story on the floor.

The last station was set up for coloring. We printed coloring pages and provided crayons… a few little girls asked if they could stay at this station!

For snack they had popcorn and pig cake pops!

The kids really enjoyed the party, and after sitting quietly all semester through the whole book… they deserved it!

Two things I simply forgot to do… I wanted to bring buttermilk for them to taste, and E.B. White has written a letter to children that I wanted to read to them. Oh well, I’ll have a kindergartener next year!

These are the days

We are half way through the first semester. I have been teaching the first grade class at our school, unexpectedly, so my days have not been what I had planned. However, I am so thankful for the days we are at home… Thankful because even though we have a couple of crazy days every week, the rest are filled with what I hope the following pictures capture- very normal homeschool days.

The easiest way for me to capture these moments throughout our days is with my phone, so the following images are a collection of photographs taken without a plan, or a flash, or a zoom… just with my phone.

The kids have been hard at work…

Antonella sits at the table to do most of her work.

Jeremiah and Sam sit in old school desks (thanks, Nina!) for some of their activities.

We take lots of trips to the library.

 

Some field trips…

And recess every day!

Antonella works on her project

while Jeremiah tuckers out. So much thinking and learning and studying in kindergarten… enough to wear one out!

Sam sorts and works on fine motor skills…

And August takes advantage of the grey areas in our dress code policy.

Lunch Ladies

We had an unusual homeschool day last week. Some of Antonella’s friends came over for the day and completed their lessons with us. They are a sweet group of girls and I am so thankful for the friends that she has.

For lunch, the girls requested “crazy kabobs”. We got creative and they had a great time preparing, and eating, their lunch!

They made mini meatballs…

Peeled and sliced hardboiled eggs…

Chopped and selected cheese, fruit, and veggies…

Cooked up the meat…

And got to work on their kabobs! Blueberry, mozzarella, green pepper, meatball, egg, tomato, avocado, grape, repeat!

So what if lunch took up most of the afternoon?

They were developing fine motor skills and self-awareness, practicing sharing and taking turns, learning kitchen safety, mathematical concepts of fractions and division, patterns, along with the intense scholarly discussion on the combination of fruits and vegetables… I’d say it was a successful homeschool day!

Reusable Sandwich Bags

I pack lunches for our whole family twice a week. The kids also get a morning snack and an afternoon snack. I quickly discovered how many ziplock baggies we used in one day… enough to choke a whale.

I was putting their sandwiches in plastic tupperware-type containers, but I also discovered that these took up a lot of room in their lunch boxes.

I also like our earth and would like to do my small part in conserving its resources. Obviously when it is somewhat convenient to me, but nonetheless.

So while the kids ate their lunch today I sewed up some reusable sandwich baggies. With the leftover fabric I made smaller baggies for crackers and such. I don’t expect these will last too terribly long. I didn’t put much effort into making them sturdy and Sam-proof. They are far from perfect, but since I had the fabric and other materials, I figured it was worth it.

I cut up some large ziplock bags and lined the fabric. I folded and sewed the sides, added a velcro closure, reinforced with some hot glue, and that’s it! I had to add some cuteness to Antonella’s, and I did have to convince the boys that theirs was a jungle print, not flowers.

The fabric I used for the boys’ baggies is a thin flannel that I think will hold up better. I hope to be able to wipe these clean most of the time, and rinse them out when I need to.

I would like to make baggies for their snacks as well to differentiate between the AM and PM snack easily, so I will report back when I get around to those! Maybe I’ll use a pattern and zippers and hidden seams… Nah, it has to be done before the kids finish eating!