The Worth of a Challenge

If you give a child a fish, you feed him for a day.
If you teach a child to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.
But if you teach a child to learn, you feed him for a lifetime
and he doesn't have to just eat fish.

Thursday, September 30, 2010


So here are the little squirts playing their violins. It was Jacob's idea, and then whatever Jacob does, Benji wants to do too. Jacob plays a 1/10th and Benji is playing a 1/16th size violins. We are learning the Suzuki music.

Here is Jacob

Here is Benji

Wednesday's Centers

Wednesday Centers
So I am trying to play "catch up" so here are yesterday's centers starting with Jacob's which are first grade level centers and then Benji's which are preschool-preK level centers.
1st grade centers

Center 1: is for making rhyming words as a way to learn and discover word families.  I purchased my wheels from a center's book at lake shore learning, but you could easily make your own and I know I have seen them online to download and print for free.....I'll get back to you with a link later...

Center 2 is a Math center working on patterns....these are patterns that came with our saxon math cd, but you could easily make your own.

center 3 is another language center. this is one I purchased and it is easy to make. You draw a card and try to write all the sounds in the word. I like that it is a big step toward independant writing.

Center 4: another math center....I downloaded this one for free and like anything else I can possibly use over again, I laminated it.  Here is the website I found it at:

Preschool-PreK Centers

Center 1: ABC's with fun foam letters......using our Sing Spell Read and Write mat you put the letters in abc order while learning their names and sounds.

Center 2: Math.....number sense and counting.....look at the card and then build the tower then find the tower's matching dinosaur. The cards are found here and the blocks are from my awesome aunt who taught Kinder for over 35 years. For those who don't have my aunt, you can get them at a learning store.

Center 3: Jellybean and Monkey shape matching puzzle cards. All downloadable from

Center 4: Bristle blocks, I think these are the Parent's brand ones, but you could use building blocks of any kind to work on motor skills which is the primary goal here.

I use an index card and write the number of centers on it for each kid and then as they finish each one they can cross it off of their card.....then they can go in what ever order they want and know which ones have been completed and which one still need to be completed.

Do you need ABC resources?

You can find them here for free. That's right, FREE!
There are a variety of activities, worksheets, flash cards and even playdoh workmats. 

Just know that this is a drop in the barrel of free printable helps for your child's learning. A little printer ink and some time googling and following blog links and you'll be running to the store to return those pricey workbooks.

Our Daily Routine

I know lots of people ask the same question....
How do you do it?
Well, in a few words, start with a plan and then change the plan when it doesn't work

Our Schooling Routine
  • 8:00am wake up and eat breakfast. I also let the kids watch one or two cartoons
  • 8:30-9:00am get dressed and I toss in a load of laundry
  • 9:15am we head on up to the classroom and I ding the bell
    • we say the pledge of allegiance
    • sing America
    • do our morning calendar(similar to circle time)
    • Sing our ABC/phonics songs 
    • start our work
      • Tuesdays and Thursdays we do seat work either using lapbooks or workboxes (I will post more on what those are later)
      • Wednesdays and Fridays we do centers in the morning and then workboxes in the afternoon.
  • 10:15am we have a little bit of a snack and then we go back for more schooling 
  • 12:00pm we eat lunch 
  • 12:30pm we break for playtime at the park (we have a great group of homeschooling kids we meet up with
  • 2:00pm Benji takes a rest(quiet play or nap) and Jacob does more advanced work that needs my undivided attention like spelling tests
  • 3:30pm we are done for the day. At that point I let the kids just play until we eat dinner unless we have some where to be like violin or gymnastics.
  • 6:00pm Dinner
  • 7:00pm Bath time
  • 9:00pm Bed time(yes you read that right, it says 9, because then my kidlets sleep in and I like that. We do however get into bed earlier on sunday nights when Jacob at has to be at school at 8am)
So there it is and at the end of each day, I go in after the kids are in bed and grade papers and load up workboxes and I find this takes me about 30minutes to complete. I think it's worth it to go bit by bit rather than let it stack up and spend hours wading through worksheets and projects.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wall space is a premium!

Something I learned quickly is that my children needed lots of visuals, and that I had no wall space for all of it. My solution was to use a science trifold back board to put up our daily calendar. Most of them are things I found for free a matter of fact I am a huge taker when it comes to free online printables.

Bottom line: No wall space, No problem! We also plan to make our word wall using this same method.


What are we learning?

One thing that I felt very overwhelmed about was figuring out what I want to do about curriculum. The Charter School allows us to pick our own or use what they have available based on what our child's learning strengths are. I looked online to perhaps find something and when I saw the large array of what they had, I felt overwhelmed(yet again!) So with that, I went ahead and let them see how Jacob learned best, and used what they provided us. 

Language Arts: We are using Sing Spell Read and Write.....Benji is doing the All Aboard book(Alphabet basics) and Jacob is doing the Raceway Book(more advanced phonics)

Math: We are doing the Saxon's far it gets the job done, and then we spend a lot of time doing math fact games and activities. I would say easily what ever grade you think your child is, you could go a year ahead or do a year's worth each semester. Jacob could easily finish Math 1 by winter time. Why not skip? Because I don't want to risk missing something critical to the next step because everything else was "easy"

Health, Safety and Manners: You won't see this at the public school! I purchased separately (thank you Amazon!) books about health safety and manners. Why you might ask? Because I think it is important to know how to act appropriately whether it be at home, school, church or anywhere else....stuff like setting the table, proper bathing habits and knowing not to play in the street is part of being educated, and it is sad that it is being kicked out of schools to make way for kinder kids knowing algebra. 

See how happy he is already!

Foreign Language: As part of Jacob's classroom time at school he is learning Spanish, but at home we are learning as a family how to speak German. It really appealed to me because of some great friends I had as a child and now because my brother(air force) is stationed there. We use this book and then a set of printable books form

For Science History and Literature, we are doing unit studies and are currently as follows....
Science: Earth: How it is formed and rocks and minerals
History: Early America: Westward expansion
Literature: We are reading and writing about the book Chrysanthemum

* For read aloud time, we are reading Dr Doolittle.

We also use a large amount of supplement materials for helping with the learning and manipulatives and other fun activities are used. I will feature them as I go along this year. 

So the first thing about schooling at home.....stuff lots of stuff!

Getting Organized!

When we dove in headfirst into the adventure of doing some schooling at home, I was unprepared for how much stuff we would accumulate. The school says when you go to pick up the books and supplies to bring a box and possibly something with wheels....I had no idea! The more time flew threw that second half of the year, the more "stuff" grew in my the end of the first month I was at the Big Lots and dollar stores looking for organizational stuff. By the end of the year my goal was to have it all up in the playroom. It's taken lots of organizing and reorganizing and this is what I've got so far.

I would just like to note, that while it was very tempting to go out and buy lots of new shiny things to accomplish my goals of being organized, I found it was much more budget friendly to check out the old craig's list and discount stores, and also that kids don't care one cent if something to stack stuff on was pricey or cheap. Especially, when it comes to kid stuff, cool whip containers and other recycled items are great, because if something happens to it, it will keep you and your child from bursting into tears.

So here is the view from the door with our awesome desk, thank you craig's list($50)

Here is our listening center

here are the old shelves from our dining room that we had taken out a while ago and had games stacked on them(the games got moved to the closet shelf) And lots of plastic drawers.

Here is the rest of the wall!
I do confess I was worried Benji (or Jacob for that matter) would run in and ran sack all the drawers but it hasn't been as bleak as I thought.

So here is a better view of what I am talking about, using old containers and baskets to keep like items stored.

So what's been going on?

Well....over the past few months there has been a lot going on.

First off, the reason why you don't see any school pictures from the second half of school for Jacob is because we ended up having a huge disagreement with our local public school and their philosophy about how time is spent and what the over all goals of going to school are. They are under the impression that testing and being trained to take and past tests is the most important goal and my goals for my child did not coincide with it. Eventually when we were spending more time crying than learning and building a love of learning, we knew it was time to go. We moved to an awesome charter school where we school part time at home and part time in a school house. Both kids are doing gymnastics and learning violin and piano.

But just when things were getting figured out my wonderful husband, who was at his retirement class, was called and asked to serve just one more time before he retires on the USNS Mercy.

Thankfully, time has flown by and a new school year has started. I love new beginnings. It makes me think of a box of new crayons and a chance for a start. New goals this year and new adventures. I'll do my best, and capture it here.

hang in there!

I know it has been a super long time since I have blogged, but I am revamping the blog to meet where my family is now in our schooling hang in there!