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.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Each week we will have an art lesson. I picked up the curriculum this summer and it is called Building Motor skills in Art. I really liked how it worked on fine motor skills and did not require a lot of fancy materials. I could make it age appropriate for each of my kids as well with out having to get separate workbooks as well.

The lesson this week was about coloring in the lines.
We first worked with crayons and a coloring page with some geometric shapes on them. You can practice these steps as well. Just make your own paper with a few shapes.

  • color in one direction
  • color to the line, but not beyond it
  • highlight the lines of the shape

After a fine effort on the coloring page, we did a larger project using "do a dot" bingo markers. If you don't have these you can use lots of other things like sponges and some tempera paint or scraps of colored paper. I made a large picture in pencil of the state of Texas on butcher paper. Bigger is better for this kind of project. You could do any shape that works for you. Just sketch it out on big paper and make sure it doesn't have too much detail. Then I let the kids use just a few colors for the inside and a few for the outside of the shape. This was our finish product:
I had it hanging on the wall as we stamped, and I have to say I was very impressed my walls stayed nice and clean!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

My top 10 list of...

Things we needed to start homeschooling! 

I am now in my third year of homeschooling and am now at a point where I can see the necessities from the niceties of teaching my young ones. When I first started, I felt like I needed lots of stuff. I came to schooling with preconceived notions that I not only had to duplicate the school rooms of the public education world to the "t" but  that I also would have to spend lots of time and money doing it by buying up pricey texts and libraries of books and supplies. I now know how untrue those notions are. If you are just getting started and are looking for the things you really need, consider making a top 10 list as well to help you prioritize and cool your heals in the midst of the teacher stores. Some of the basic things we use day to day cost pennies, so this is also my wallet friendly list as well.

  1. writing utensils- I usually at most need a couple of pencils and a set of crayons. Everything like markers and paint sets are really just extras. You can do lots of wonderful art projects just with a box of crayons.
  2. Paper- You really can get by with just a few of the notebooks you can buy on sale at the beginning of the year, a pack of construction paper, a pack of index cards and a ream of printer paper. You may need more or less depending on how many kids you have, but again, these are the basics!
  3. A library card-nothing is more valuable to me or my kids for homeschooling than our precious library cards. This is our gateway to books, videos and other media galore! We are able to check out leap pads and other really exciting media like signing time videos and more. Oh did I mention they have shelves full of phonics books, because they do!
  4. A set of math manipulatives- this does not, I repeat, do not have to be pricey bears or what ever other stuff they are peddling at the stores. My kids find great joy counting beans, macaroni, pom-poms, bottle caps, and other objects found around our home. Gosh, you could use anything you could collect like bread ties and old keys. These homemade ones are really great and cost little to nothing. You also don't need pricey bins to store them either, zip top bags work great.
  5. Internet- not so much for your child, but for you, so that you can access the amazing amount of learning materials available for free download. I can not put a price tag on the generosity of others that have put together websites and blogs and shared their talents to help educate. 
  6. A binder with some dividers-Being organized is what helps me stay on task when it is time to learn. I have utilized workboxes and folder system but really, if space and money was tight a binder with some dividers could get the job done of compartmentalizing my child's work. 
  7. A park or yard or a place to play- It is important that kids have play time. People undervalue playtime sometimes, but kids are learning all the time and play time is no exception to that. I don't think you have to have a climbing structure or all kinds of crazy equipment. After all, you don't need anything more than a yard to play tag. If you do splurge on some sport stuff, keep it simple to stuff like a ball or a frisbee and a jump rope. Open ended items get way more use than those "one hit wonders". 
  8. A workspace- This could be a kitchen table or desk or even a clipboard. Where ever and what ever it is, it just needs to be friendly to what ever possible writing and drawing activities may arise. My kids favorite days are when we take the clip boards outdoors and do stuff there. Don't have a clip board? Check your park for tables!
  9. A willingness to be inspired-That's right! I would imagine that every homeschooling parent could concede that being open to inspiration has led to amazing things. You could be looking for ideas for science projects or helping your child through a tough stage, but either way a willingness to be inspired can really make a difference.
  10. A support system-I suppose I could have just decided to homeschool with no help or support from others, but at this stage I see that as crazy talk. You know that phrase "It takes a village to raise a child", it couldn't be truer. I am not saying you have to run out and join the nearest homeschool coop, but I am saying that having the support of your spouse and those around you can make for a great deal more joy in homeschooling. I was overjoyed when the local firehouse was more than happy to have my little homeschoolers come for a tour, as was the local grocer. I find that with the right attitude and the right words, most people will want to help be a part of educating our kids. 
Well that's it. No fancy books or software or pricey science/math "stuff". Just what you really need to educate your child from home. If you do want to know about the cool stuff that I have picked up along the way, then just stay tuned!

8 Keys Lesson 1- Integrity

Every week we will be developing our character with the program The 8 Keys of Excellence. It consists of eight keys or values. The program is free which is also great and can be found at their webstie We will start each month with a key and work on learning it each week. Each Key has a body motion, definition and affirmation. I also like to find a small story or anecdote that would further reinforce the "key". I then write the word integrity (or what every key we are on) on a picture of a key and hang it up in the classroom. Here is a sample from the webstite:

INTEGRITY – Match behavior with values
Demonstrate your positive personal values in all you do and say. Be sincere and real.
Living in integrity means that everything we say and everything we do are true reflections of what we value, what’s important to us. Think about what your behavior says about you. Does it clearly show others what you value? Do you show up as honest and committed, or dishonest and indifferent? Are you spending your time with the people and activities you value, or is your focus elsewhere?
When we live in integrity we are sincere and true to ourselves—we don’t say or think one thing and do another. People trust and respect us, our relationships are solid, and we feel good about ourselves. Those positive feelings from others and within ourselves reinforce our values and build our reputation and self-esteem, leading us to greater success in all areas of our lives.
Middle School/High School: I do the right thing. Elementary School: I do the right thing. Primary School: I do what’s right—even when no one’s looking.
Body motion: Hands together over head (V-values, B-behavior).

Over all, it's a great program, it is virtually cost free and only requires our time, but isn't that what teaching and parenting is about

Monday, August 29, 2011

First Day of School!

I am sure I am not alone here.... Our first day of school is going great, but things didn't get started quite on time and every activity seemed to be super exciting and take more time than I planned for. Hopefully come tomorrow things will be not so new and move a little quicker.

Our desired start time was 7:45 but 8:15 is when we actually started
Our break time was supposed to be at 9:45 but it turned out to be 10:15

Jacob was ready and eager to listen!
Benji was excited and proud that he can do school things well!
Things we have done today:

  1. math meeting
  2. calendar
  3. math folder(folder 1)
  4. this wonderful word family set from Making learning fun(folder 2)
  5. a worksheet about following school rules(folder 2)
  6. our 8 keys character lesson

Stay tuned for our afternoon update!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Unit studies for 2011-2012

We do a great deal of unit study in our classroom. I spent a great amount of time finding them or creating them and this is what I came up with for this year. The boys do the unit studies as a group lesson, but obviously will have different objectives and learning outcomes.


  • Weather
  • Food pyramid and Food groups
  • Animal Families
  • Matter(solids liquids gasses)
  • Magnets
  • Famous Scientists
  • Our Systematic Body
  • Cells
  • Dental Health
  • Plants
  • Sound


  • Where We Live
  • Our Continents
  • The New World
  • Explorers
  • Nations of the great Continents


  • If You Gave a Mouse a Cookie / If You Gave a Pig a Pancake
  • Frog and Toad All Year
  • Dr DeSoto
  • The Tale of Peter Rabbit
  • Little Bear
  • A House For a Hermit Crab
  • Corduroy

One reason I like unit study is it allows us to study something in depth and allow it to overlap our other subjects. I will post all the projects or link to the lesson plan online so that those who wish to follow along can.

D.E.A.R.s Program

"What the heck is D.E.AR.s ?", my husband asked me the other day...and I responded that it stands for drop everything and read. This year we are going to have this as a part of our little school. It is an opportunity for the kids to do just as it says, drop everything and read. All the books will be available as well as a selection of books from the Texas Library Association. They have a great selection of books that are leveled for children from the very young all the way up to adult. This year we will be reading the 2x2's and the Bluebonnets. I know other homeschoolers might be interested in voting for the bluebonnet books and should contact their local library. Homeschoolers can vote there and if you are as lucky as we are, they might even have a kid version of book club where they can discuss books and talk about what they liked and didn't like about them. If you don't live in the lone star state at all, you can still read the books and maybe even start your own book club! Either way, I think taking 20 minutes to just read can enrich anyone young or old.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

2011-2012 School Room

I did a little rearranging and also I have made a huge change in the way my kids will do work.

One thing that is different is my new area devoted to the calendar and our math meeting. There is nothing "special" about it so much as, it is there and not on a science back board or in pieces all over the room.

 This is our bulletin board, born out of necessity it is on our folding doors that go to the closet. It really gave me the space I needed without having to move furniture. The theme is oriented around the stories and books we will be reading. We will be displaying work on it as it its completed.
 This corner of the room used to be filled with clutter but I have managed to streamline as much as I could and then also I turned the desk so I would have more floor space and give the kids a better academic view.
 This corner is a little different but really it was done for storage sake.
 Here is our trusty white/magnetic board ready for writing practice, word making and math fact practice.
 the listening center, same as always!
trusty art easel on the other side of the doorway
the sensory bin in it's new home under the window
And our new writing center, where writing, drawing and coloring supplies are available.
So did you notice what isn't there.......workboxes. I decided to do away with workboxes. They were a lot of work that overwhelmed the kids and me and they also occupied space I didn't have in the first place.
I have decided to switch to a folder/binder system instead. It allowed me to save on space and taper how much "stuff" went into our learning. I put a weeks worth of learning into my binder and then stuff four folders for each kid each night before school. Jacob has yellow folders and and Benji has orangie-red ones. When they are done with their folders they place them in their bins with their names so I can check their work.

No I did not quit, or run away, or end the blog!

I am back for the school year after an abrupt hiatus last spring. We moved and bought this ol' house and it has needed all the attention that I would normally put into the blog. But now that things have tapered off in that area, I can shift my attention back to blogging. I have also been spending many hours putting together this year's curriculum and rearranging the classroom. So really now the only question left is, are you ready for all the cool stuff this year?