Homeschool Convention Notes 2017

I was like a kid in a candy store when I walked into that exhibit hall 🙌🏻 & the night before was my Christmas Eve. So I guess you could say I was a tad bit excited about my very first convention for homeschool.

The main speaker was one of my favorite people, Sarah Mackenzie. She’s like the Beyoncé of homeschooling. Her book changed my whole way of thinking.

It started at 8:30 and me and Lydia arrived at 7am because I’m crazy. But Sarah was the first speaker and I didn’t want to miss a minute.

One of the first questions she asked us was to think of how we want our kids to describe being homeschooled 20 years from now. Like imagine your kids are 25 years old and out to dinner with friends, what will they say?

We all shouted out things like loving, fun you know all the sweet adjectives we could think of.

She starts laughing and says oh you mean you don’t want them to say that they knew all their letters by 2.5 years old or that they completed their entire geometry curriculum on time?

That really got me to thinking. Even as a public school student, how I describe my school years has zero to do with what information I learned when and do I even remember half the things they tried to shove down our throats so that we could finish our workbooks by June… 

When I think back to school I remember my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Phillips, who was so wacky & fun. I remember Show & Tell and the sand & water tables. I remember Mrs. Rhinehardt who read Corduroy to me for the first time and sent me home with the ragged old bear to take care of for the weekend. I remember Miss Dunn who lived with her parents on my street. She was so sweet and probably not older than 25. She had us do a project where we designed a restaurant making blueprints and then we had to create a menu. I loved that and at the time thought I for sure wanted to open my own restaurant. I remember mean Mrs. Maine. Nobody liked her but I don’t know why. She read to us Little House on the Praire. My family moved mid way through the year and we hadn’t yet finished the book. She knew I loved it and bought me my own copy. Its on my bookshelf to this day. Its still my favorite book. 

In the later years I remember Mr. Navetta. The absolute best. He taught me Algebra and he worked so hard to make sure I understood. If you made lower than a C on a test he would have you come in a relearn what you missed. He was available before school and after school for free tutoring. He always made time for me. He was obsessed with the book “How to Kill a Mockingbird” and he was a math teacher, go figure. He had the quotes from the book all over his classroom. I visited him every year after I left middle school until I graduated high school. 

I only have 1 memorable teacher past middle school and I can’t remember his name but I can see his face and his balding red hair. He taught AP English at my high school. It was the morning of 9/11. We were all very confused by everything that was happening. We had the news on the tv and when people started jumping from the buildings he turned off the tv and said y’all bow your heads. Now I don’t remember his exact words but he said a beautiful prayer. This was public school and he was a Jewish man. But that day it did not matter. He did what he knew to be right on that scary day and I’ll never forget it.

So when I think about what I want my own children to say about their homeschool experience, I want them to remember all the books, the feeling of being snuggled up to mom, the laughter from playing with their siblings. I want them to know that if I saw they were interested in something that I tried to give them all the opportunity I could to learn all about it. I want them to know how much I cherished the short time I was given to fill them with Gods truth and His love. 

Another important comment that Sarah made was about an airplane and a hammer. Sounded weird to me at first too. But here’s the deal. We buy curriculum because well it’s pretty and organized and we are all excited about teaching the lessons. Come January we are hardly half way through and we are not sure if it’s really going to get finished. And the curriculum stares at us with its not so real eyes and judges us from the shelf. Well Sarah says curriculum is a tool, much like a hammer. Its useful only when you need it and want to use it. You don’t buy a hammer and say well I better use this hammer everyday or I’m a failure. You don’t just go along hammering holes in the wall just to say you used it. Use your curriculum to your benefit, when it suits you and your children. Don’t feel like you have to check it off a to do list. You are the ruler of your school day, the curriculum is only a tool to help. 

And so the airplane… the pilot has a flight path all mapped out. He has a plan. You don’t just board a plane and say ok let’s wing this, where we headed? Bermuda? So you see, the curriculum is your flight path. The plan for the year, so nice and orderly. But just like most flights, there’s bad weather and we have to adjust the path. There are going to be events and sick babies that slow down your pace. Don’t panic, just adjust your path. Don’t rush through your lessons just to get caught up. Be aware of when Jesus is purposely trying to slow you down. And when all else fails, get a blanket and a book and read to those sweet children. 

& don’t forget to date all your paperwork, work book pages & projects – lol

I am so excited for our very first Kindergarten year with Timmy and a little sad about my last year of Grace being a preschooler. Luckily for me I get to start all over with Lydia and maybe by then I’ll have it all figured out.

Homeschool: Letter G, Squares and Garden Theme

This week was a little hectic. Both kids had colds and it seemed like we had a lot of distractions. We had old friends pop in, the bug guy, the lawn guy and play dates. It seems like anything that takes me away from my schedule throws off everything after. My biggest set back is when I don’t keep up with my chores. I find it hard to do anything when the dishes are piling up. But regardless there was a lot of fun learning this week:

The best part of this week was our sign language lesson. I’m doing language as a center twice a week and Timmy just picked it right up. It was so amazing to see that little light bulb go off. He knows 20 words.

We sorted Pom poms by size and then again using tweezers. He totally understands size and sorting so I tried to have him sort by color. We definitely still have some work to do with colors. Right now he knows blue, green, purple and brown.

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My mom bought Timmy this Mickey Greenhouse and I knew it would be perfect for garden week. Timmy loved putting this together.

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We are already seeing results and Timmy is so amazed by it every morning. In just 5 days this is what the cucumbers look like:

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Both kids lived the fruit flowers snack.

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We made a sunflower but first Timmy explored the sunflower seeds with his magnify glass. He really loves the magnify glass. I really want to get him a microscope.

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I really had zero expectations for Timmy and handwriting but he is really surprising me. He was so proud of his g’s!

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Timmy made flowers and planted a play-dough garden.

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We read a story about Matisse for our artist study. The book was called The King of Color and I highly recommend it. After we cut paper into small pieces like Matisse and made a snail using his technique. I need to add more cutting to our days because Timmy loves to cut paper.

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For the g on the wall we did finger print flowers all over to go along with the garden theme.

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On Thursday we skipped the library and had a play date. There was lots of crying in the beginning over sharing toys but eventually they were giggling and having fun playing with chalk, bubbles and play-dough.

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For Field Trip Friday we went to Botanical Gardens. Mrs. Wendy read the kids a flower story and we planted pumpkin seeds in toilet paper rolls. The boys were very interested in the centipedes and pine cones. Timmy learned how much fun it is to run and roll down a hill.

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When we got home we did some more planting and seed exploration. This kept Timmy’s interest for a long time, maybe over an hour. We did a seed germination jar, seed counting in an egg carton and then I just have him dirt, water and a spoon and let him free. It was a little messy but worth it.

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I am amazed just as much as Timmy with all these seeds sprouting. I find myself so excited to check their progress every morning.

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Timmy really enjoyed this theme so I’m going to extend it into next week. We were so into the gardening part that we did little to learn about squares and I want to spent more time on The Creation story. I’m quickly learning that I need to use pencil rather than pen.

Homeschool: Letter X, Rectangles & Treasure Theme

We are so excited for this first homeschool year! We chose God’s Little Explorers as our curriculum. For sure I needed a guide and Stacie Ann Nelson lays it all out in black and white. I know it’s not for everyone but I’m loving the bible aspect of this curriculum. Nothing is more precious to me then sweet little faces so excited to read the Bible.

Our daily schedule looks like this:
8 – Wake up, Eat, Get Dressed & Ready
9 – Bible Devotion, Calendar, Weather, Storytime, Songs & Instruments
10 – Play Outside & Snack
11 – Grace Naps & Timmy does his Themed Adventure, ABC’s & 123 work
1 – Lunch
2 – Storytime and Center-like Activity

We are going to use that schedule Monday through Wednesday. I try to include Grace in most of the days activities and do the concrete learning while she naps. On Thursdays we go to our library Storytime and visit Great Grandma and Aunt Jessica. I also want to reserve Fridays for fun field trips with our Mommy & Me Playgroup.

Here’s some of what we learned this week:

We practiced writing the Letter X and tested out our school desks.

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For music time we’ve been listening to the song of the week which was The BIBLE song and then we listened to a baby genius nursery rhyme cd. Their favorites were Baa Baa Black Sheep and BINGO. During snack time I turn on the classical music.

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Timmy made paper towel roll binoculars and then went on a treasure hunt for the Bible. Then he wanted to keep hiding the Bible for me to find and then that turned into a game of Hide and Seek. Turns out Timmy a little peeker. It was so much fun.

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We made a Treasure Map to track the Letters we learn each week. Timmy loves anything that involves glue.

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This activity kept Timmy busy for a whole hour. I had him sort the paper clips by size and then I gave him a magnet to explore with. I was impressed with his sorting skills.

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I put a large X in a plastic sleeve with hopes that he would create an X with his play dough but that didn’t happen. Even when I tried to show him how he was like, “Wow mommy great caterpillar!” And, “Oooo a helicopter!”

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We twisted pipe cleaners together to make X’s and then we went fishing with a magnet. These also eventually turned into helicopters.

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We went on a treasure hunt for rectangles. All I did was cut construction paper into rectangles and this was a huge hit. Of course he had to hide them for me too. I think I will do this each week for a shape activity.

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On Thursday we went to Storytime and visited Aunt Jess and Great Grandma.

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For Field Trip Friday we went to All Around Gymnastics Friday Free Play.

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Homeschool: Circles

So this is my third attempt at starting some sort of preschool/homeschool environment for my kids, mostly Timmy of course. At first I was just winging it but it felt like nothing was getting done because there was nothing documented. Then I bought a curriculum from another homeschool mom but I’m not sure Timmy is ready for it so I’m going to start that in September. I just want to have fun with him with a little bit of structured learning. I think that happens everyday whether I try or not but I need to see it on paper and I really want my husband to see it too. He says he’s on board with homeschooling but I think he’s still on the fence about it. So I thought if I put it all on here, in a few months we could look back to see what worked and what didn’t.

This week was a lot of fun. Pretty sure we have circles down pat. What I think helped a lot was getting the kids dressed and ready for the day as soon as they woke up. Then we would eat breakfast. Some of his meals where themed all on their own like pancakes made into a snowman and cut up bananas.

After eating we did the calendar and weather.

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Then we would read a verse from our daily bible and the story for the day. After we went for a walk everyday either in the stroller or bike with Grace in the ergo. When we got back we played in the yard. Then it was naptime.

When he woke up I would already have his lunch ready and his activity for the day set up. With lunches I just used a cup to make circle bread sounds simple but he thought it was cool.
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On Monday we had snowman pancakes, read A Snowy Day and made a snowman with different shaped circles. This was Timmy's first experience with a glue stick. It was hard to get it away from him when we were finished. He did an awesome job and then we hung it in the playroom. When we played outside I made some fake snow that he got as a gift for his first birthday. >
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Tuesday we read The Very Hungry Caterpillar and made a caterpillar with the circles of our thumb print. This came out really cute but of all the activities I think learned the least from this one. To make up for it we practiced with a safety scissor for the first time and I let him use the glue stick again to put on the tree and leaf. When we went outside we went for a Circle Treasure Hunt. This was a big success!;
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Wednesday we went to the Zoo and played at the splash park.20140308-170529.jpg

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Thursday we made a lion out of a paper plate. He was very proud of the finished product. And the best activity was so simple. Different colored pompoms in Tupperware. He would count each one as he took it out and then would put them back by saying the color. I was so impressed. He mastered counting to 5 and sometimes counted to 8. He knew colors yellow, white and green sometimes purple.

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