Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I Heart Workboxes!!!

It's almost Valentine's Day and I.Am.In.Love. :) Not just with my husband, but with the new system we started this week.....the WORKBOX SYSTEM! I have been reading and researching for a while now and have found that this system is one that many homeschoolers use and love. If you'd like to read more about Sue Patrick's Workbox system, you can visit her website or buy her book (I have not read her book, but I've read MANY different people's blogs and their takes on workboxes). If you'd like to see someone else's preschool workbox system at work, read this Behind the Scenes post. And no, I'm not making any $$$ off of giving these people credit...I have just found SO much *free* information out there and different people do it different ways. We have definitely found what works for us, for right now anyway!

I also started the Raising Rock Stars Preschool program with the girls (focusing on Little bear) this week. We begin each school day (Mon-Thurs) by going over the verse, life applications, and song...then reviewing the number, letter, and word for the week....reading a few books that go along with the week's verse, then we move into the kitchen to do WORKBOXES! You can read more about the RRSP program, created by Carissa at 1+1+1=1 here.

Here is our RRSP board:

I found these drawers on sale at Joann's and they are WONDERFUL!!! I went back and forth on whether to get the double set or the single 10 drawer set...and I'm so glad I went this route so that each girl has her own side. We are using Princess Numbers I downloaded from the Confessions of a Homeschooler blog :) So many people have so many great resources out there for FREE!
We aren't using all the boxes currently. Little Bear usually has 4-6 focused learning boxes (containing activities that have a definite end) and 3 star boxes (open ended toys). She has to finish her focused boxes in order and places her numbers on a number strip I made for her as she completes each box. When she's done with all of them, she can choose from the star boxes and play for however long she wants. Her focused boxes change daily, but the star boxes stay the same for the whole week.
Tiny starts off with 4 boxes at the beginning of the week, each filled with mostly open ended activities and she is allowed to play with each one however long she wants and does not have to go in order. As the week goes on, I usually add something to keep her interested. They both get SO excited each morning to see what is in their boxes. Here is a look at one of Tiny's favorites from this week:

Coloring the Bible verse for the week:

Tongs and puff balls:

Counting with unifex cubes:

Then she switched over to counting with magnets:

Magnets and Ladybug L sheet (found on Confessions of a Homeschooler blog):

One of this week's star boxes, magnetic letters:

Lauri Number Play puzzles (they both LOVE these):

Dot painting the letter Ll:

Dot painting Ladybug:

Cutting the Bible Verse:

Letter L Hunt (found at Confessions of a Homeschooler):

Counting Conversation Hearts (I put Valentine suckers in each of their Valentine themed boxes):

Finding Matching Hearts:
I was really concerned about how Tiny would do with the workboxes since she is so "involved," let's just say. She always wants to do EVERYTHING her big sister is doing so I figured she would just be "bugging" Little Bear and I the whole time we worked on the boxes. I am happy to say I was WRONG! She is thrilled to have her own set of workboxes and she usually sits on the floor and stays involved with her activities :) It makes this Mama's heart VERY happy to see my girls learning and having so much fun doing it!

What I love the most (besides the fact that they are learning!) is that this system keeps me organized and makes me use the fun stuff I have hiding away in my school closet, rather than *save* it all for another day! It does take time to plan and get things out and ready, but so far this has been much easier than any other method of organization I have used. I have found it very helpful to have a running list of all of the focused learning toys/activities and open ended toys we have in this house....then I can just look at my lists when I'm planning. I use a similar planning sheet to Carissa's plans at 1+1+1=1 (why recreate the wheel, right!?). I have been working on getting things ready to start for about 2 months now...and it feels GREAT to have actually started this week, even better to know the girls LOVE it as much as I do :)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Merry Christmas to All

We've been pretty busy these last couple weeks, doing Christmas activities, visiting with family, and getting through our day to day routines :) Here is a little peek at what we've been doing:

Christmas Books
As soon as I filled the book basket with the Christmas books, the girls dove right in! They had made some sort of fort thing with the couch cushions and laundry basket and it grew very quiet in the living room...which can be quite scary when you have little ones. I walked in to find them reading their books so nicely, melted my heart!

Christmas Printables
1+1+1=1 has so many adorable printables on the site this year! The girls have enjoyed these a lot. Little Bear completed the Christmas Counting page where she had to trace each number and then draw a line to the correct grouping.

While big sister was working on numbers, Tiny colored the J is for Jesus worksheet. When she was doing this, it just looked like a bunch of scribbles to me...but now looking at the picture I took of it, you can actually tell she colored in only the capital and lowercase Js :)

Little Bear is REALLY into figuring out beginning sounds of words lately so this page was just right for her. She did a great job and pretty much did this by herself. She had some trouble writing letter S, but with some practice attempts on the back she finally mastered it. And she insisted on writing lowercase Js for Joseph and Jesus simply because she likes to make the dot at the top ;)

Both girls worked on this shape Christmas tree decorating page. Little Bear did it ALL.BY.HERSELF. and did a wonderful job! Tiny just needed a little help identifying colors and she pretty much found the shapes on her own. Fun for both of them!

Snack Time
One morning we made these adorable Christmas Rolo Candy Turtles. I pulled up the recipe on the computer and had the girls help me look at the different steps we needed to do. They each had a cookie sheet and lined up pretzels in rows (they were thrilled to find out they could eat the broken ones!). Next, they put a Rolo candy on top of each pretzel and we baked them for 4 min. Then we placed a red or green M & M candy on top of each Rolo and pushed them down. Yummy!!!!!
The girls have also helped make some candy cane bark, homemade Cookies in a Jar for gifts, and we have big plans to do more cookies later this week!

Art Time
Kids LOVE when I got out some red and green paint and allowed the girls to have some "free-paint" time after finishing another little project, they were loving it! Tiny is so serious when she's creating!

One of the projects they did was a N-O-E-L decoration. Little Bear painted letters N and E with red and Tiny painted letters O and L with green. After the paint dried, I cut the letters out and hole punched them to hang on a strand of twine to use as a decoration in our house. HOWEVER....the N mysteriously disappeared and this project could not be completed. I have no idea where it could be, I DO know WHO helped the lovely N escape and I know it's somewhere in one of her many collections in our house ;)They made and decorated their own shape Christmas trees the day after we decorated our real Christmas tree. While we did these, we talked about the different shapes that were used, 3 triangles, 1 rectangle, and 1 star. Then they glued on their shiny ornaments :)

Our Jesse Tree reflection last night was the story of when the angel Gabriel came to Mary to tell her she would be pregnant with God's own son...which was my inspiration for the angel craft we did this morning. The girls loved painting their hands and gluing the parts on to form the angel, but their favorite part by far was decorating them with GLITTER GLUE! This was Tiny's first experience with it and she was in heaven :)

While they worked on their angels, we discussed the symbolism of the angel at Christmastime. I printed out the Bible verse Luke 1: 30-33 that we read last night and we made this beautiful scene on our door for everyone to see.
This is one of my most favorite times of year and I wish I could just s. l. o. w. down time for the next few days! It's so much fun to witness the joys of Christmas in my children. Just today at lunch, Tiny was having trouble getting her chair scooted up to the table. Little Bear noticed her and ran over to help her right away and said, "Christmas is helping, so I helped." I think she's really getting the concept of loving, giving, and helping lately.

We want to wish all of you a wonderful, joyful, MERRY Christmas and a very happy New Year!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving AND Christmas is Coming!

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving around here and managed to squeeze in a few activities and crafts...I have been a little more motivated lately since our little man usually takes a pretty regular morning nap and I can focus on the girls. Here are just a few of the things we've been up to: (so thankful I had all sorts of activities made from last year to reuse plus a few new things too!)

Little Bear focused on coloring her Color the Turkey little book

Tiny REALLY focusing on her coloring, her face makes me giggle :)

All the while, we have this little guy waiting patiently for his turn to "do school"

Playing a little Thanksgiving Matching game...I wasn't sure if she would get the concept of matching quite yet, but to my surprise she was a pro!

Playing the Turkey Hunt alphabet game, finding lowercase letters to match the uppercase ones. This was actually too easy for her this year, but she had fun clipping the clothespins on anyway.

We made Thankful Turkeys! Little Bear wrote all the people she was thankful for on each of the feathers and glued them on. I helped her with spelling some of the names, but that was it! She's really loving to write lately, even sounding out some words on her own. Tiny made a turkey also, but I wrote the names for her and she LOVED using the glue stick to glue on the feathers.

Harvest Mice counting little game I made last year. Little Bear got creative and started clipping the numbers to the cards, rather than just laying them there. Again, this one was almost too easy, but always good practice!

Tiny was attempting to play the Pumpkin Color Match game, but she decided she'd rather play with the clothespins (taking them all apart too!).

Christmastime is almost here so I got out all the Christmas activities from last year. The girls are loving all the fun things to choose from and wanted to do them all the first day I had them out.

Putting the alphabet ornaments in order on the floor first:

Then putting them on the door in a "step pattern" as she calls it :)

Spelling Merry Christmas...they just had to match the letters to complete the phrase and even Tiny was trying to match the colors of the ornaments.

She did great at this game, Stocking Number match. She would first look for the stocking to be the same color, then look to see if the number matched. She loved it and was so proud when she finished!

Christmas Tree design matching! How fun for them to do together. I gave them each a stack of the small tree cards and they ended up working together to find the matches and put them in the cans. Of course this turned into an all morning activity because they were using the trees to decorate our living room after they were done finding all the matches :) Yes, my friends, my children are wearing swim suits when it's 30 degrees outside.
We started our Jesse Tree on Sunday evening and the girls have been very excited about it so far. Little Bear even remembered doing it last year because when she noticed the little bare tree we used last year sitting in the living room, she said very excitedly, "Oh, it's my Jesse Tree!!!" and gave it a kiss ;) We are looking forward to many more Nativity and Christmas activities in the next couple weeks, but most importantly, we're going to be busy preparing our hearts for the coming of the Lord!

Early Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Little Leave of Absense

Well, my's been WAAAAAAY too long since I've written a post!!!!! I assure you, we've picked back up with doing a little more school stuff, but I haven't taken pictures of everything we've done nor kept track of any type of plans to know what we have done. I do know that we've been mighty busy around here welcoming this little guy into our family:

Isn't he gorgeous?? And such a wonderful baby to have around :) We all love him VERY much!

In my weak attempt to get this blog caught up, here are just a *few* of the things we've done in the last several months that I actually caught pictures of:

Water Color Painting! Got these cute little water coloring books at Target. Pretty much a mess-free project, except if you have a toddler who likes to dip her elbows in the bowl of slightly-colored water ;) It's JUST water though!

We finally broke out the Wikki Stix the girls got LAST Christmas...they are a big hit! No, Little Bear didn't get glasses, those are Wikki Glasses!

REAL painting, with washable paints and Do-A-Dot paints....I haven't ventured to let them do this INside yet so we took advantage of a beautiful day and painted on the deck.

This was Tiny's first time with REAL paints...she loved it and did a great job! (and actually stayed somewhat clean!)

We took a trip to our favorite orchard, TJ's Orchard and actually did some apple picking this year, Granny Smiths! We made lots of goodies with our apples and even got into some of the apple games I made last year :)

Fall Tree art project: this was a LOT of fun for the girls. We took paper towel tubes and painted them brown, I cut strips down the top to make the branches and we attached the leaves with double sided tape (we tried glue, but the leaves did NOT cooperate so tape to the rescue!). They used fall colored dot paints to fill their "ground" with leaves. I got this idea from 1+1+1=1 and this was/is indeed my favorite fall decoration in our home :)

We have done MANY other things since my last post...too many for me to even begin to think of trying to write here. Little Bear has been writing her own name, her sister's name and Mommy and Daddy for quite some time now. She can pretty much write every letter of the alphabet and loves to "spell" things on paper. She is a HUGE lover of drawing and has become VERY detail oriented, I think we might have a budding artist on our hands!

Tiny is proving her skills as well, counting to 10 on her own and doing just about everything big sister does. She is really into lacing things right now and could sit for a long time playing with the lacing spools, clothesline, and alphabet beads we have. She recognizes a few colors and knows a couple shapes...she loves the triangle (I think she just likes the way it sounds).

The girls are growing up so fast and before I can blink, we'll have a cute little fella doing Tot School right along with us! Scary and exciting all at once! Hopefully I can do a better job of keeping up with the blog (haha) from now on :)

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About This Blog

We are a growing family who has faith in God's plans for us to educate our children at home. Our girls are 4 and 2 and our new little guy is 4 months. I have a Master's Degree in Education and taught kindergarten and first grade prior to becoming a stay at home mommy-teacher :) This blog is a glimpse of our "school" activities, beginning at the preschool level.

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