Every now and then my wonderful husband helps with homeschooling. On this particular day AJ (5 mos) was giving me a hard time. She wanted to nurse and sleep in my arms and ONLY nurse and sleep in my arms so it was a long day. Thankfully daddy stepped in and tried to follow my schedule. I battled on wither or not to post this picture since SJ’s hair isn’t done but then I figured, hey this is real everyday life!
As you can see K is teaching the kids sight words. I have have found two amazing sites that I use for phonics and literacy. The first is Progressive Phonics. My kiddos love that these book allow them to read with me. There are words throughout the printable books that are red, these are the words the student reads while the teacher reads the words that are in black. This is a great way to reinforce independent study. I will often give the printed book to SJ(5) and ask her how many of “mommy’s words” she knows.
The next site I use to identify popular sight words for SJ’s age. This is based on American standards. In some other countries children are reading fluently around 4 so I introduce both the previous books mentioned as well as the sight words to KJ (3). I use Dolch Sight Words which is a free site that gives you sight words by grade. They also have printable books.
As the kids are learning and growing I am having a lot of fun seeing what works and what doesn’t. I have found that for us it works best for me if I have general standards or goals I want to reach. I refer to the common core standards for my state. If you are interested you can find yours here. I have not decided to stick to the standards but I do like to have an idea of what others in my daughters age range are learning.
I’ve also learned to go with the flow when it comes to teaching. My kids don’t care what the common core standards are, they don’t want to stick to my objectives for the month, week, or day they just want to discover something awesome, and we get to teach them.
I am loving the tile floor in our classroom and all the cool new ways I am learning to utilize it. This past week I used it for both a sight word and math drill. I define drill as anything I want the kids to answer at a rapid pace.
For our sight word drill, I placed one flash card per tile. The flashcards are double sided. One side is written in blue the other in red. I placed the cards red side up.
When I say the word the kids run to that word and flip it to the blue side. I had to do one child at a time because my kids are so competitive. Once all the cards were flipped to blue I would say the blue word and they got to pick the card up.
For the math drill I allowed both kids to play simultaneously. SJ (5) worked independently since she can count in her head. KJ (3) and I worked together since he still uses his fingers for math.
I placed one equation per tile square on the floor and I gave each kid a stack of cards raging 1 through 10.
I had 30 equations and 20 answer cards so we had to improvise and double up some of the tiles. This is a game we will play often I’m sure.
This game could use any equations, so it is something that is easy to utilize as a learning tool that grows with the kids.
You can also use puzzle mat pieces to play tile learning games, check them out here!
Math is SJ’s favorite subject so I’ve created baskets to keep her busy when she is bored or just wants something to do. We have two math baskets since all the activities won’t fit in one.
The first basket has flash cards that we use pretty often with KJ (3). We have him name the numbers in English and Spanish and put them in order. The card game Jump which is a cross between phase ten and rummy this is great to teach kids sequential order, counting by 2’s, 3’s and 5’s.
SJ enjoys puzzles so we house the latest dollar store puzzle in the basket.
We use base ten blocks to teach the kids’ place value. They like to use the blocks to build (even though they aren’t supposed to) but since we taught them to write out numbers for the other to decode with the blocks they love it! The last items in this basket are the clothespin games.
If the first basket was geared more toward SJ (5) this one is geared more towards KJ. Its focus is on fine motor skills. The Lacing Shaper is a $1 find from Target. The objective is to lace a shoelace-like string through a hole punched robot. I keep a folder in this basket of tangram pictures along with a baggie holding the shapes.
The baggie also holds fraction circles.
We have not formally begun teaching fractions but the kids love playing with them and can answer questions about how many it takes to make a whole.
Geoboards have been a lifesaver for me. I hardly ever get rebuttal when I tell the kids to go get a geoboard. Finally, I let the kids use yarn and beads to practice making patterns. All of these activities keep them busy while teaching them important math skills.
I love to combine subjects. The easiest subject to combine with another is reading or phonics. This puzzle mat game allows my kids to use phonics and science to identify and place animals according to their name. In a previous post I told you about finding these wonderful mats at the dollar store. They are awesome!
We have a tile floor so I had the kids place one letter per tile all across the classroom floor.
I then stacked all the animal squares. Each child got a stack.
I had them match the first letter of the animal name with the corresponding tile.
They had a blast!This is something you can use for beginning and and end sounds of the animal names. I then had them put the mat back together in order. This required them remembering where each letter went as well as working together.
This quick, easy, cheap game was a great way to reinforce their letters, and phonics.
Last night was crazy! I didn’t get home from church until late, I barely made it home without falling asleep. I went straight to bed and woke up at almost 8 this morning! School starts at 9 ya’ll! So I make breakfast (eggs, potatoes, and tomatoes) and sent my husband to the store. We were out of many things but the most important thing we were missing was coffee. I managed to start school on time but without my daily devotion time AND coffee I’m all out of sorts.
After our daily review the kids wanted to play outside because starting late this morning also meant they lost out on their morning playtime. So we took school outside. The kids used chalk to write their letters. I was pleasantly surprised that KJ could write so well.
We then gathered leaves, glued them to a paper then talked about what was the same and what was different about the leaves. Even Princess AJ joined us!
We ventured back in the house worked on some sight words, read a few books and the kids worked in their math books. Before I knew it, it was noon. I instituted quiet time for an hour and the rest of the day the kids get to play.
I did not follow the lesson plan for today but after writing it I guess we got more done than I realized. I’m getting used to going with the flow when it comes to my children’s education. I want them to learn the way they learn so that means being unconventional with their learning.
As I am visiting with a friend I hear the water running outside I yell out the screen door. “KJ turn off that water!” “Okay mom!” He replies and I hear the faucet is being shut off. A few minutes later I hear the water running again. “KJ!” “Yes mommy?” “Is that water back on?” “Yes.” He sighs knowing he is in big trouble. “Come inside and go get in the bed until I come talk to you.” “I was just trying to water the grass,” he mumbles as he comes in and goes to his room.
I turn to my friend an explain to her KJ’s position.
“I was just trying to water the grass, after all in the heat of summer the grass is now in patches in the backyard. The grass needed water. What was the big deal? I was being helpful. I was doing what needed to be done. I took initiative and now I am being punished for it. I don’t understand.”
As I went on and on she stopped me and said, “Okay, okay I get it.”
See this is how we are when it comes to things that God tells us not to do. We hear it all the time, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” In fact that is one of my favorite quotes. The problem wasn’t that he was watering the grass. He was being disobedient. He thought he could see and understand things I couldn’t. He was mistaken. Isn’t this how we are with God. We see an opportunity and though God tells us to stop, wait, or move we decide on our own. We know He is older than us, wiser than us, stronger than us but we still want to do what we feel is right based on the information we have on hand. Isaiah 55:8-9
My sweet boy had forgotten that just a few days earlier as soon as the sprinklers were turned off a very large snake crossed the yard. He does not realize that our state is in a drought and he has absolutely no idea that the water he is frivolously using is a utility that needs to be paid for. In his mind he was doing the right thing.
It blesses me so much when God allows me to see myself in my children, because once I see myself in them I am better able to respond to them as close as I can to the way God responds to me.
My SJ is a STEM girl through and through and I unfortunately am not. I see I am going to have to keep up with programs and classes in our area as she gets older. Today she was asking to do an experiment. I really like to give them some room to participate in what we learn. Since there is no (or very minimal) common core directives for science in kindergarten this is a great place to let the kids flex their freedom.
First we defined experiment. SJ said it was trying something for the first time. KJ said its going faster and slower. Um….okay. I explained that an experiment is a test to see if something is true.
We decided to see what would happen if you boiled an egg. We also wanted to know what happens when you boil a potato.
I let the kids handle both them state their hypothesis. As you can see KJ though they would both be soft and SJ thought they would both end up hard.
I let the kids prepare the experiment. The more hands on they are the more they retain.
They waited a whole 20 minutes which is really long when you are 3 and 5. As soon as the potato was soft I removed it from the heat and put in on a plate to cool.
The kids got to squeeze the potato and peel the egg.
The kids were excited to see that the proteins in the egg bind together when heated and the starches in the potato break down. I then let them act it out. When I yelled protein they stuck together. When I yelled starch they ran away from each other. Both my kids have a hard time staying still and since science is at the end of our day I try to limit frustrations from all parties by keeping them up and moving as much as I can.
We had cooked potato and cooked egg the natural progression was to let the kids make their own lunch. Potato salad! They loved being able to cook for themselves.
Why are test so stressful?! Today SJ’s education specialist from the charter school came by to give her a kindergarten assessment. So a few things happened.
First the ES per an earlier conversation was supposed to be here at 9am but she sends me a text at 8:50 asking if “can meet today?” Hint: She isn’t coming at 9 so we start our school day late because of course I spent the early morning running around cleaning, and getting the kids dressed.
**I have a confession, most days when we are not leaving the house I let my kids wear what they want. Today I picked their clothes with little protest from them because they were excited to have a visitor.**
So I start school late, get them through all but science and our ES comes at 11:30. In the previous post you can see we end our school day by noon because I have noticed that after that time it is very difficult to get my kids to sit still or listen to anything instructive. They prefer to go outside and play, go figure. So she shows up to test SJ who immediately goes into “what can I get away with” mode.
Now I’m frustrated, SJ is restless and the ES is ready to give her the assessment. She starts with asking SJ letters that are mixed up, SJ does good missing only one or two after declaring that she wanted to do something else.
She goes from what the letters are to how each letter sounds, same result. SJ is then presented with short vowel words and asked to sound them out. She does the first one, skips the next two and gets the fourth right. She doesn’t want to read the long vowel words at all and by the time we get to the sight words the only ones she wants to say is “a” and “is”.
So I am sitting there frustrated because my ability to teach my child is wrapped up in this assessment presented by an ES who has just met my child and has no idea how brilliant she is! I desperately need this affirmation so that I can prove to the imaginary “perfect mom” in my head that I can best her. So here I am asking myself why this test was so important.
See my identity is not wrapped up in what I do, how smart I am or how well my child scores on an assessment. My identity is wrapped in I Am and I homeschool my children not for my glorification but for His. I guess the test wasn’t for SJ at all. I hope I passed.
Today was our first day of school!! I read these home school blogs where moms get up at 6 am have devotion time, make breakfast and start school all before 8 am. I admire those women and their ability to adult, let alone parent before the break of dawn but I am not that person.
So this is my schedule with the kids. I wake up carefully around 7:00 and try not to wake the AJ who sleeps with me to make nursing easier for us both. Once I successfully pry myself from my bed (I am not a morning person) I go into the kitchen, make my coffee and start breakfast (today I made pancakes with caramelized apples). By this time both SJ and KJ are up and on my heels. I feed them breakfast, talk to them about their dreams and whatever else the little people may come up with.
I then send them outside to play. I love sending them outside to play! They need the fresh air, imaginary, adventures and mommy needs some quiet time. Did I mention I am not a morning person. Well once they are in the groove of playing I finally get some quiet time with God, its about 7:45 now. I read the Bible, pray and I may read a devotion or book. Right now I am reading Rival by Lisa Bevere so far I love it.
I call them in at 8:45 to get their beds made by now the baby is up so its okay if they are loud. At 9:00 am school starts. We start with reading, geography, have a quick break then do math, science and history. Here is a look at our classroom.
This is one is the has the order of the day.
At the bottom a string with clothespins hold their favorite pieces of work.
It can be anything they are proud but they can only choose two I file away the rest of the work.
SJ loves math and can tell time so she loved that I used clocks for our schedule during breakfast and throughout the day she made it a point to tell me what time each activity should start.
She is also learning to read so the combination of the two is proving fruitful.
On the left side of the “Today Is…” chart are our super stars! Each star has the kids names on it and represents a subject we are going through. We have one for reading, math, science, history and geography. The last two subjects share a star. As the day goes on and we complete each subject the kids get to put a hang their star up. SJ is on the left, KJ is on the right. The kids love this because it helps them keep track of whats left to do for the day. They also are both very competitive so this way they work hard to get a star rather than to best the other.
I wanted their classroom to be filled with historical pictures of people who look like them.
They have had so much fun asking me questions about the various heroes on the wall and are inadvertently learning history in the process.
I have a state and world map in my classroom (it was remounted after this picture to be flush with the wall). The kids loved hearing the story of how we came to live in California since we have gone through some other states. They also got to make their own flag today and tell me about their made up state which they thought was really fun. My map covers this bookshelf which houses all our homeschool stuff. I need to get more baskets so it could be a little more organized but the kids know where everything is.
So far I have an…
Art basket: colored tissue paper, glue, pipe cleaners, finger paint, chopsticks for the glue, and construction paper
A coloring basket: markers, crayons, pens, chalk, and pencils for some reason I also have play doh and a shower curtain in here. (The shower curtain makes for easy clean up when the kids play with the play doh.)
A math games basket: tangrams, geoboards, string and beads for patterns and dot to dots
Mommy’s basket: curriculum books, and adult coloring books
The kids can access all but the top shelf any time they want. If they don’t want to play outside they can play games in the classroom.
The last station is the math station. I have base ten blocks in the top drawer and the bottom drawer is where I store their work books. The basket below it houses a math card game, the clothespins from the previous post you can read about them here, flashcards and puzzles.
All this and I forgot to take pictures of the kids on their first day!
I guess we will have to take second day of school pictures tomorrow.
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