Category Archives: fun homeschool

Sight Word Sticker Box

This past week my little ones have been having a hard time sitting still during our morning reading time. It was time to switch it up. We have been working quite a bit on sight words so this morning I decided to try an activity that would allow them to create. 
I found these letter and number craft stickers at Target a while back. I put them in a bin so the kids would have to hunt for the letters. They got to pick a sight word card, find the stickers then tell me the word.
SJ (5) ended up doing five words in the 20 min time frame. KJ(2) did two. Both had a good time but towards the end it got a little competitive since SJ found more words. 
Click here for another sight word game my kiddos love to play. 

Math Baskets

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 wont 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. 
You can read about the instructions here

If the first basket was geared more toward SJ (5) this one is geared more towards KJ. It’s focus is 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 hold fraction circles. 
We have not formally began 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 life saver 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 hope you find these activities useful!

Puzzle Mat Fun

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.

First Day of School!!!

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 got both the posters and the timeline from School Specialty

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. 

Planting Day!!!

We have not officially had our first day of school. I am still waiting for her school supplies from her charter school. Through the charter school I have funds allocated per semester to go towards school supplies and curriculum. This semester I ordered a lot of school supplies that I will be able to use for the next few years. Since the learning never really stops I am still doing fun teaching activities with the kids. 

Our family recently moved into a new home. Prior to that move I’d been buying various plants and seeds that we could put in a garden. The kids have been asking about these seeds but I kept putting it off. Well there was a loose pipe under the kitchen sink where I just so happened to store my seeds which caused my seed packets to be soaked through. So today became plant day, while daddy fixed the pipe. I’d asked my husband to put a cheap desk we’ve had for years outside. We then potted some rosemary, cilantro, dill and basil in pots. I have some pea seeds as well but I’m saving most of those for a pee tepee later on this fall. I did let the kids plant them in a baggie so we can watch it sprout. The baggies were then taped to the table to deter the kids from pouring out the seeds and dirt. 

After we planted the seeds the kids and I talked about what seeds need. I let them answer and ask me questions and found they new most of the basics. Even KJ (3) was able to answer questions about what plants need to grow and how all plants start. I’m hoping that as the kids see their seeds sprouts we can venture into photosynthesis and if we get SJ’s microscope in the next week or so we can even look at leaves on slides. This will naturally lead into the makings of a cell. I don’t want to push it to far. I want them to be able to understand some basic science terms though and science is all about exploration right?

The picture on the left is showing the sun, the run rays, and rain following onto the seed covered by the ground. That one is mine, I wanted them to use they materials in the art basket (shown on the table) to copy my picture to the best of their ability explaining what happens to a seed. 

They had fun. SJ did her own thing and put multiple seeds in her blue ground and KJ  tried to mimic exactly what I did. I love teaching these two!!

Yummy Dessert!

I LOVE to cook. I had some peaches that were on their way to being bad and decided to make a dessert out of them. I call this Caramelized Peach Puff Pastry. 

Ingredients 
2 large peaches
Frozen ready made puff pastry
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup of coconut milk
Caramel sauce:
  • Cover the bottom of a hard bottom pot with an even layer of sugar and let it sit over medium heat. (Watch the pot refined sugar takes about 8 minutes to 15 start to brown, raw sugar takes between 5 and 10 minutes.) At this time warm the coconut milk. 
  • Once the edges start to darken stir until you the sugar is liquefied. 
  • Add the coconut milk to the sugar and stir, but the stove top on low. (If the sugar turns into a big hard ball keep stirring trust me it will go back to liquid form…eventually)

The Pastry:

  • Cover you pan with parchment paper I used a bread loaf pan. 
  • Place peaches on the pan
  • Cover with caramel
  • Top with COLD puff pastry

I had left over peaches after the first layer so I placed more preaches (no caramel) then another cold sheet of puff pastry. It cooked at 400 degrees for 20 min and it was amazing!
I didn’t serve it right away and it had quite a bit of juice from the peaches so as it sat and soaked up the juice it tasted like a dumpling from peach cobbler. Another thing that contributed to the dumpling like texture was me letting the pastry get to warm before cooking. If you worry about this just pop the pastry back in the freezer for 5 to 10 minutes it should be thawed but cold. 
Please share any alterations you make if you try this recipe at home. As I perfect it I will update it here. 
Ciao! 

Puzzle Mat!

My kids love puzzles and I love saving money. At my last dollar store trip I found these awesome letter mats. I bought two one with animals and one with letters and numbers. I had the kids assemble it then KJ removed all the animals put them in a pile and put them back. This is great not only for his fine motor skills but also for his logic development.

As you can see he was pretty proud of himself for creating and completing his own learning activity. I am a firm believer that if you include kids in planning their activities then what they learn will stick. He also picks pretty good activities for a 3 year old.

Math Games

My little people LOVE numbers they did not get that love from me but it is a love I try to foster. I happened to find some clothespins at the dollar store. It came in a pack of 50 so I will have to go back for more to make an even 100. I took out all the clothes pins and added numbers to them, the kids loved them. The ASKED to play with the stuff I got from the store. It was only fair I oblige.

KJ added clothes pins to dots I drew on a circular cardboard cut out. I just did one through 8.

SJ decided she would work on her addition. We put the clothespins on the floor randomly so she also liked having to “hunt” for the right numbers.

Lastly we put the clothespins in order on our activity rug. The three of us worked on this with occasional help from K. SJ did most of the work and was proudest when we finished. I will be writing the numbers to 100 on some additional clothespins sometime this week. This was a few hours of math activity the kids enjoyed for a buck!

Types of Homeschool

While trying to navigate this sometimes overwhelming system I have learned there are many ways to start homeschooling.

1. Online Programs – Programs like K12.com allow you to work through the traditional school system but from home.
Pros: You child is on track with the state requirements, you have a teacher who you meet with weekly and your child learns from online daily. You are provided with all the materials you will need to teach from home including lesson plans.
Cons: Rigorous schedule, basic computer programs that kids may find boring, little room to deviate from plan. State testing (for those who want to avoid it), all forms including a record of vaccines or a religious exemption form.

2. Create your own school- Become a recognized charter school by the state, all you need to do is fill out a form and name yourself or whoever will be teaching the child as their teacher.
Pros: Complete control over what and when the student will learn, no testing, no vaccination records
Cons: No state testing may mean not being able to accurately track your students growth, must fund yourself, must provide own curriculum and lesson plans.

3. Public Charter Schools- Allow you to choose your curriculum as well as allowing you to choose what school materials you want to order.
Pros: Your tax dollars pay for your school supplies, the school has a per child per semester budget for you to use on approved school supplies. You pick the curriculum and design the learning environment. A teacher meets with you monthly to monitor the progress of the student.
Cons: You do have state testing, you have to fill out all forms including a record of vaccines or a religious exemption form.

We feel the public charter school is the best option for us. Its allowed us the freedom we want over or children’s education and the school supplies we may need are covered by the state. They do not cover any religious materials and the supplies are delivered to the teacher who then brings me what I need. She and I meet every 20 days for her to obtain samples and assess my oldest. SJ is the only one officially enrolled in school but since she and KJ are so close in age he tags along for most of her learning activities. This is our first year homeschooling and so far so good.