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.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

And the winner is.....

.....Grandma Bonnie! Thank you for entering and I hope you enjoy your new things. I will contact you for shipping information. I also want to thank those that entered.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Revisit: The Very Hungry Caterpillar

We love this story for so many reasons. We love the art and we love the idea to grow into something wonderful.  This revisit was mainly a review for Benji  and an opportunity to extend higher learning for Jacob. 

We read the book and went over all the stages of the caterpillar and then learned our really big word Metamorphosis. We talked about other things that go through a metamorphosis.
We used our story helpers from Kizclub to help retell the story and to let Benji work on sequence. After that we worked on summarizing the story and used this wonderful worksheet to record our summery. 

We also did some fun crafts. We cut out a simple set of wings for a butterfly and then used a craft stick for the body. We used sponges to paint.

We did some recycle art for the caterpillar. We reused egg cartons and painted them and used some left over scraps from the art bin to make them special.

Here is the final product. Don't forget to display the art in the classroom or in your home. 

Extensions and Resources:

Monday, October 10, 2011

Review: Rory's Story Cubes

This is one toy we love! We received this wonderful addition as a gift from a wonderful Aunt. We opened the storage box that looks just like a book and found nine very nice dice inside. The game couldn't be simpler.....just roll and start story telling. If you have more then one person playing, share the dice and take turns adding what ever is on your dice to the story. We have officially made this a game we like to play for journaling and also before bed. These bed time stories couldn't be beat. 

Rory also offers other products including a set with "picto-verbs" and an app I would love to have if I actually owned a phone that would support it(my current phone doesn't even have a camera!) It sounds like they are even looking into making a larger version as well.

For more information including more ways to play in the classroom, go to

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Clean Out the Closet Giveaway!

I'm cleaning out my closet and and having a giving away to celebrate the nearly 5,000 visits.
October 6th through 17th

What's in the giveaway:

  • Lakeshore Learning Listening Center: Sight words- enough for up to eight students 
  • addition and subtraction workbooks
  • Basic not boring science curriculum for k-1
  • sight word wheels for study 
  • build a train sight word kit
  • 0-10 dot to dot counting book
Ways to enter:
  • leave a comment about why you want this set 
  • go to Lakeshore Learning and come back here and comment on what products you like best
  • become a follower of this blog
  • blog about this give away
  • like my school land on Facebook
  • leave a comment on another post of this blog
  • subscribe by email
Each entry will count toward a chance to win. The winner will be picked by random drawing at the end of the 17th and the winner will be announced on the 18th.
Good Luck to all who enter!

Giveaway Day

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Art: You can too!

Have broken crayons? No Problem!

We did some crayon recycling with our old bin of crayons that we've had for about six years now. Some of the crayons were starting to look a little sad and no one would use them and so this project was born. 
The first step was to sort by color, some variation is acceptable such as light green and dark greens together.
Now for the tedious part which is peeling off the paper and breaking them.
While you are doing this part preheat your oven to 250 degrees.
After all the crayons are ready you will want to prepare what you are going to melt them in. I have some silicon molds that I am using, but any kind will work well. If you don't have any of those, an old cupcake tin will also work. The thing to keep in mind is that you will probably not want to use it for food after word, so cheap is good! I am placing my mold on a cookie sheet that is lined with foil and wax paper should things some how spill.
Then I place the whole thing in the oven and let it melt till it is all completely melted (about 10-15 min.)
After it is all melted, I took it out very carefully. Remember, it's melted wax and it is very hot including the molds so be very cautious and let this step be for the grownups only.
As you can tell from the photo above the waxes and the pigment are needing to be stirred, a popsicle stick or tooth pick will work just fine.
After that, you just wait for the wax to harden and your have a new set of crayons ready for coloring. Just be sure that if you make a brown one, to make sure the kids know it's not a peanut butter cup!
*With the holiday seasons just around the corner, some fun molds could lend this to be a great home made gift. I plan to make a set using a christmas tree mold for my kids I teach sunday school to.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

I'm almost to 5,000 hits! I think it's almost time for a give away...

Leave a comment and tell me what educational give away you would like to see this thursday!

Monday, October 3, 2011

October Book Bin

This month is one of my favorites. I love fall. I have a great time every year pulling the books for this bin. I pulled books about Autumn, Thanksgiving, and Halloween.  

 This year will be wonderful since we will be incorporating some of these books into our up coming unit about the new world. What's also new is that Jacob will be able to have these selections pulled for D.E.A.R.S and will be able to dream up new ideas for his journal writings.
What are you guys reading this month?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Home Keeping...

              Because to say chores just sounds like work! I think one of the main differences between homeschool and public schooling moms, is that we don't have several hours in a row to get a whole bunch of work, errands or what ever done. This is by far my most often asked question when I mention that I homeschool the kids. People want to know how I get anything done around the house. The truth is I just have to squeeze it in. Some days things are more tidy than others but from what I understand, that's actually normal for anyone. I do have a couple of resources that I call upon to keep things "clean-ish" and I try to leave it at that. After all, I don't want to make things more complicated then they have to be. Also, don't be afraid to enlist the short people for help. Benji thinks there is nothing more fun then running the swiffer around the house.

Picture by Susan Landor Keegin 
Time Warp Wife - Darlene is a wonderful christian gal, who shares her ideas and inspirations on how to build family bonds,  AND she also shares how to organize your home and home keeping so that it is part of the day or part of the week rather than making it a huge ordeal. She has printable cleaning calendars and shopping list/meal planners too. What's not to love?  Oh and she even has a recipe for a winning window cleaner that can be made with stuff you probably already have under the sink.

Martha Stewart Online - Martha is the quintessential homekeeper in my opinion. With her checklists, you can be spick and span before you know it. She has daily, weekly, monthly, seasonal and annual checklists. And if that wasn't enough she has tips on how to organize just about every room in the house. Most of her ideas are reasonable afforded but some of her organizing ideas can have bit of a price tag. What I know is, she might use high end materials, but you can duplicate them for your own home with lower end materials or just some good ole imagination. I love her ideas, I just don't have her budget so I like to hit up the discount stores instead of the department store. Can my family tell the difference? Nope!

I like to keep my checklists in clear page protectors in a binder, so I can use an expo marker to mark them off as I go and then wipe them off at the end of the cycle. What do you do to keep your home tidy?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

10 Things I've learned....

From Homeschooling!

I am in my third year of homeschooling and I feel like as my children have learned things, so have I. One thing I know about my self is that if I don't write something down, it goes away. So I am writing(...err typing) this list so I can remember some of those wonderful things that have been brought to my life.

  • I can too be organized! I really can, just ask my husband. I am generally speaking not a person that organization comes natural to, but homeschooling has helped me become organized. It also made me realize why teachers like to pick one grade and park there a while! With all the planners and such I have learned to neaten I just need to do it around the rest of my home!
  • It's not to late to learn something new- I think a lot of people get hung up in the idea that you have to be a master of all subjects in order to teach or that you are too old to learn new things. It's simply not true. I can't even begin to mention the countless facts I have learned opening the book and reading alongside the kids. Did you know Paul Bunion was 6'3" and that George Washington never actually cut down that ole' cherry tree? These are just a few things I have picked up along the way.
  • Learning is all around us- I used to think Charlotte Mason was a bit "laissez-faire" as compared to other teaching models but what I have learned is that before there was school, people were out discovering things for them selves. Before there were books of plants and animals, people would go out and see them and capture them with their own pen or pencil and draw, label and write of these discoveries and observations. Totally educational and doesn't cost anyone anything but time well spent. 

  • Parents are teachers, and are the first teacher in each child's life- I always have to hold back a small chuckle when I hear others say they could never imagine teaching their child. I say that because they were already their child's first teacher before this subject even becomes relevant. Teaching how to eat, walk, talk and dress are very important skills first taught at home with pride. Don't think you're cut out for teaching health...well bite your tongue, because chances are you have taught your child how to brush their teeth, wash their hands and other health related lessons.

  • Never say never- I really should needle point this on a pillow because anytime I say it, I find my self having to eat my words. I said I would never homeschool, so there you go. 
  • There really is beauty all around when there's love at home- As the person who compiles the lessons for school, I didn't think it would be right to leave out loving one another. I'll never forget the night I laid Benji down for bed and he leaned over to me and said "Mama, Jakey is my best friend". I have to say, if that isn't beauty I don't know what is.
  • All kids are gifts and all kids are special- There are two labels in the public school that make me want to climb the walls and spit nails. One is "gifted" and the other is "special ed". The reason why this is so troubling to me is the labeling that goes with the child reflects in their self esteem. In the short time my oldest was in public school, he was being pushed toward special ed, and the other kids were quick to let him know what they thought of it and not in a happy way. I really appreciate the philosophy of Dr Suzuki who says “If he or she really goes about it in earnest, anyone can cultivate ability in ten years, I believe. Even in one year, shortcomings can be changed into good points if only we set our aims high enough. Continuing for ten years, we can become outstanding indeed...There is no limit to our shortcomings. Until we die, we should spare no time or effort in changing our weaknesses to merits. To do so can be pleasant and interesting. We can become like the horse that starts last and yet outruns the field, reaching the wire first; it is the same fun.”  Shinichi Suzuki, Nurtured by Love: The Classic Approach to Talent Education 
  • Teaching and homeschooling = Crafting - My sister said I was blessed with a crafting gene. The ability wield fabric paint and cut/paste and use a hot glue gun was something I have always had since I was very young. If you take a gander at most teacher and homeschool sites, there is a fair amount of crafting going on, and I LOVE it. Some project have required more skill and inspiration than others, but that is how I find joy in all the hours I spend cutting, assembling, and laminating.

  • Learning doesn't have to equal eight hours glued to a chair and desk- When I first starting schooling, my kids must have thought I was insane. I would pull out the work and we would park our bodies in chairs till it was done and I would go on and on till sun set on the afternoon. After much pain and tribulation I realized I was making way more work than needed to be done. After all, even the kids at public schools got a chance to escape to a reading nook or do some out door learning. Since then I realized that our learning can be different and that can be a good thing. We do some sit down work, but we also can do math facts while jumping on the trampoline in the backyard. After a few hours at a time, kids just need to be kids and play.
  • A little faith and inspiration can really make a difference, even on crazy Mondays! -  Each year......excuse me, ....each day, I find my self needing to tweak something to make it work for our situation. With that in mind I always have a back up plan. I love those books that are on the market called For Dummies  that teach different things. What I like is how in the back of each chapter they have a section called "the least you need to know". While I feel this is served up to kids in public schools daily, I can use this for situations like when someone is sick, has a doctor appointment, we get rained out of a  science field day and so on. This is also a technique I use when we are doing a unit study and there is a low level of interest from the group. We learn the concepts and then vote on a new unit. 
Any how, I feel like homeschooling has been just as much for me as it has been for the kids. I learn new stuff and get the privilege to see my kids take their first educational steps. Something I wouldn't miss for the world.

Friday, September 23, 2011

A Writer's Guide

       I thought it would be great to have a display for journal so Jacob can check some simple writing points and I found one that was FREE from The First Grade Parade. It's a sweet set that leaves a few open pages for adding to it if you want.
       I kept to what she had available since we aren't moving on to more complex stuff till packet two(second six weeks)
Points the display shows:

  • Capitalization
  • lower case letters for the body of a sentence
  • spaces between words
  • end punctuation
        So if you are still trying to get these basics mastered this would be great to have. If you don't have the wall space you could print them out and put them in a binder or print them four to a page and they would occupy much less space that way.  And YES, that is the back of my space gets wasted in this room!

Just F.Y.I.

Crazy For First Grade is having a give away!

She is giving away a $25 gift card for Office Max and 3 FREE items from her TPT store.  Who wouldn't want some extra dough for stuff you need and some cool stuff to give your lessons and classroom a boost.

You can ENTER HERE !!!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Up coming projects

I feel like there is a perpetual work list for things I want to make or do for the kids or their classroom. Here is my list of stuff and why I want it so bad

  • 1-100 number line - I need a number line now that the older kiddo is doing math that needs him to think past the number 20. I found this great printable from 2nd Grade Shenanigans among other things. Now I just need to print it out on cardstock, laminate it and then hang it on the wall. 
  • Flannel Story Box- The idea is using one of those folding suitcase style boxes and making it a portable flannel board story set. Also I need to make the pieces from the books we are reading this year so the kids can dramatize and review. 
  • Even and Odd Street -  This I need to make sooner than later since we will be going over odd and even numbers shortly. I loved the idea and inspiration I got from The Teacher Wife. You could use scrapbook paper or old wallpaper samples to make odd street houses. Don't forget the free downloadable template!
  • Personal work bulletin boards - I want little boards for each of the boys to hang up their own work at their own eye level. I have some ideas from some experts, but execution could be interesting. 
  • Rule Breaker Word prison- In our curriculum we have words that are rule breakers and I want to make a wall display that I can pin the words up as we learn them so the kids can be reminded all year about those naughty words that break the rules!
  • Some sort of large mural for one of the open walls just outside the classroom- I have know idea what this could be but I am open to suggestions and ideas here.
  • Water color leaves for a fall seasonal tree-We are making small trees to display the seasons as we get to each one. I thought it would be super cute to do the fall tree with water color leaves. 
  • Puppet Show Stage- I have a bunch of puppets and no stage....I see a vision of a science back board and some old fabric for this one so I can fold it and store it when I don't want it visible
  • Math mini office: second grade edition- I have desk strips for the kids and the one Jacob has is on the young side for what he needs. I have found some good ones from Step Into Second Grade with Mrs. Lemons. I just need to laminate it and mount it on the desk in place of the younger one. 
So I have some real work to do and hopefully you will see blog posts with these finished projects. Wish me luck and let me know what you're working on. 

Kitchen Science: Solutions

I love using my kitchen for learning stuff. It provides a hands on experience with the best part being that the end result can be touched and or tasted. Today we talked about solutions and we didn't even need fancy pricey lab equipment. We made Koolaid and Jello and then one more solution to show insoluble solutions. 
  • 1 large pitcher
  • 1 packet of Koolaid
  •  enough cool water to fill the pitcher
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 package Jello(my kids wanted the yellow kind)
  • hot and cold water as per the directions on the box
  • a small jar
  • vegetable oil
  • food coloring(any color will work except for maybe yellow)
  • a recording sheet(just some lined paper will work well and the kind with a blank area at the top is even better.

First we went over some vocabulary and wrote it on our big chart paper
  • Solution: groups of molecules that are mixed up in a completely even distribution
  • solvent: does the dissolving
  • solute: is what is dissolved
First we made the Koolaid and we added the dry ingredients into the pitcher. Then, we added the water.
 Just keep stirring, stirring, stirring.....
 Then when it was all dissolved we recorded what happened on paper. Oh and we drank the experiment!

Next, we made the Jello and showed how we can use hot water to dissolve solutes. We also practiced our spelling by labeling our hot and cold water.
 We slowly added the Jello packet and stirred showing how the heat dissolved the gelatin
 Then we added the cold water to stop the heat and start the Jello to coagulate. And now it's chilling in the fridge till desert time after dinner.

The last solution we made was in a baby food jar. I added some water and some food coloring and then a small amount of oil. I showed the kids that no matter what we did the oil will not mix with water. Even with heat the oil will still rise above the water and separate. I let them shake it and examine it and they loved seeing the bubbles rise up.

For more information on this and other great science activities for kids, check out

Beginning Blends: A quick and fun review

These past few weeks we have been reviewing our beginning blends to maintain our reading base from last year. We have been using our Sing Spell Read and Write curriculum as well as some other fine resources. I used the flash cards as stations to get my son thinking and remembering those blends.The first card of the flashcard set from Kizclub works very well for writing. I laminated my cards so I can reuse them and pass them down to the little pork chop who is still learning his alphabet! Allowing your little ones several methods for taking in this knowledge will give them the wings they need  to soar in reading and in learning all together. I have dug around the Internet and found some really great sources to share  with you and it is my hope that you will share what works great for you guys in the comment section below.

  • Carl's Corner- This site has it all. If you want to one stop shop for reading stuff you can do that here. All of the content has been compiled by a wonderful teacher and poet. On the Blends Boulevard you have everything you need to teach blends from worksheets to dominoes and an assessment. Makes you wonder why I even plan to list anything else, huh! 
  • Confessions of a Homeschooler- Is there anything Erica can't do? I am not sure, but she has a few great printables for blends. One being the blends latter that will allow you to help your child learn the blends quickly going from letter to letter, blending the first two sounds and the other is a set of worksheets. I wouldn't use these as a stand alone for teaching but definitely for enrichment to another set of instruction. 
  • Free Phonics Worksheets- The creators of Rock N' Learn have put together a set of worksheets that could easily be used to teach not only beginning blends but vowel clusters and more. In a sequence that would get kids reading fast and know why the letters sound the way they do without a lot of senseless memorizing. 
  • Kiz Club - They have a few activities that would work great in conjunction with a blending program from flashcards to matching activities. It's worth a look. 
  • This and That - A great blog with lots of ideas for home grown activities that could work as a stand alone method for learning. There are folder games and crafting a plenty on this wonderful site!
  • Quirky Momma - They might call them selves quirky but I call them clever with their wonderful use of low cost materials to jump start fun learning like their use of multi color paint chips for teaching word families and blends. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Weather Lesson 1 mission 1

We just are getting started on our weather unit and I am combining our lessons from the core knowledge and our missions from for it. I am so happy to have found the wonderful blog Crazy for First Grade and using some of her great extensions as well. This can easily be adapted for grades higher and lower than the ones my kids are in by adding more objectives for learning or only picking a few.

In our first lesson we read the book Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. We then brainstormed about all the types of weather we know and wrote them in our science journal, which consists of notebook with printed copy of the "monster storms" cover mounted on it.

We also learned some key vocabulary words and wrote them in our journal as well.

  • Meteorologist- A scientist who studies weather
  • Atmosphere- The air in our world
  • Data- collected information
  • Weather- state of our atmosphere 
  • Storms- weather events
If you haven't already started, it's not too late, you can start teaching the kids to start noticing and collecting weather data in a basic chart and noting the temperature(we aren't doing actual temps yet, just hot warm cool or cold) Here is a great graph that you can print from teacher vision. And you can just use a piece of graph paper or large chart paper to make our temperature chart.  Next lesson will be about wind and how to collect wind data from our own home. 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sayings Week 3: "Look Before You Leap"

           This is a great lesson of cause and effect and also about thinking through what you want to do before you do it.  To make it fun we used our marble run pieces and made a tube and tried to get the marbles into a tub. This required a lot of forethought on their part. The moved the tub around and then they tried to find just the right spot for the tube so it wouldn't move when they released the marble. You can do this too at home with a tube from wrapping paper or a couple of paper towel rolls and a tub of any size. The goal is to get the kids to think things through and to know that they can change things to make it right if it doesn't work out.

In phase 1 Benji stayed at the top of the marble run and Jacob adjusted the bin so it would work right
 *please ignore the clutter in the background!
 Phase 2: They could both drop marbles from the top of the run. That tiny blue speck below the marble run is the marble on it's way to the tub. They were so thrilled they ran marbles for about an hour!
How do you teach your child to look before they leap? I would love to know what you do so don't forget to leave a comment!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Pair of Socks: A story time connection

Stop! Don't throw out all those cute tiny socks that have been out grown by your little cuties. I saved a few of mine and we are using them for our story time connection with the book A Pair of Socks by Stuart J. Murphy. The story is fairly short in length but is long on ideas for learning connections from learning to count by two's to color matching and more.
         After our book, we looked for rhyming words and highlighted them.

Then I took a small bin and put the little socks in there for the kids to match up.
 They loved matching the colors and patterns and then clipping them together with clothespins. I then opened up the opportunity for them to color their own pair of socks.

 For those that like dictation and copywork, I found this wonderful poem:

"Two" by Cynthia Cappetta

Two hands, two feet, two eyes, two knees— You have a pair of each of these.
Mittens, socks, gloves, and shoes, These things also come in twos.
Children born in pairs have a special name. Some twins look different, and some look the same. 

Extensions and links:
*I found some really great extensions from Weekly Reader(do you remember them from when you were young? I do, and they've gone digital)-"What is a Pair" is a great edition of that reader where I found the above poem and other great activities.

*Mathstart also had great ideas for hands on learning geared for kids three and up. 

*Laugh, Paint, Create had a great blog post about making a sock collage. It's a great idea that can foster scissor and glueing skills.