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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Lesson #241- The BOYCAVE

Who wants to see the Boycave! I do! I do!

I'm stoked to show you all. After living in a 4 room rental it's a blessing to have so much space a playroom/preschool room is amazing.  I am extremely  grateful. When we were house hunting I made it a point to have a play room for all that play stuff. One of the reasons we chose this house the boycave close to the main house so I can supervise while in the kitchen but still hidden enough that we can ignore the toy mess if we want. I can just toss toys around the corner and deal with it later when the boys are available to help with the clean up. Lets face it not all the toys get picked up right after use, they should but don't. Toys get discarded for something shiny. Crap happens, maybe I need to run to the store, then we have dinner, and BAM it's bedtime and the toys are still out. It's so nice to not have to look at it when I'm relaxing with my hubby. You know we look forward to that magical part of the day called bedtime. Bliss. I'm not picking up for the boys when they can help me do it first thing in the morning.

 I' m keeping it real and showing you our boycave on an average day. Toys on the floor and books escaping the bookcase. This is how we live daily. No my school room probably won't go viral on Printerest. Its not perfect with matching bins and furniture. I don't care. I'm still proud of it it's well used and real.

The overview
We have a split level home. This room is in the basement. As you can see it's have big windows and is still bright. To the left hand side is a big brick fireplace. I keep thinking I should pad it somehow before some kid needs stitches (Squeaker I'm looking at you). I use the hearth as a sort of staging ground I set up some toys there hoping they will play with them. It usually works. The play table is from when my hubby was a child. Really it's an oak coffee table. It need to be refurbished but works wonderfully as a play table. Next to the fireplace is a row of cabinets that we use to store toys and games. The wall above is our work wall. Next the window is the word wall with our sigh words. Under the window is the cat and a storage system with book slings on top. On the other side of the window is our calendar wall, and clock, under which is more toys. In the black cabinet is their dress up station, the top shelves are art supplies. Along that is our reading area, blue work table and a easel. Above is our theme wall where we post the work we do on our monthly themes.

 Whew that was a lot. Here is our Dress up locker and art supplies. I used a cheap window curtain rod like this. To hang in between the cabinet. Hidden under the clothes is a big blue bin of dress up accessories. The art supplies are up high.

Who doesn't like toy storage. The 9 cube is from target. I think everyone with kids has the same somewhere in their home. The storage system on the right has cars toys in the bottom tubs and a book sling on the top. I use the sling to store our library books and the books we have that relate to our theme of the month.

Next up we have the storage area. The work wall is for stuff we make not related to our theme. the wall adjacent is our ABC word wall.  Puzzles are stored up on the counter allong with supplies. Our Gerbils home is here also. The cabinets hold TONS of toys and games.

Next to the dress up cabinet we have our reading area. A small pocket chart and our themed wall. Musical instruments or in a green bin.

Lastly we have our blue table with stuffed animals underneath. The folding chairs are stored next to it to save room. An easel with dry erase crayons. and some white boards.

What do you think? I love it. It suits my family perfectly.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Lesson #240- Our curriculum this year...if you can call it that.

Do you subscribe to some of those other homeschooling blogs? Typically they have some older elementary school  kids they homeschool and a toddler and/or preschooler. So when back to school comes around they post all of their curriculum they have bought and plan to use for the year. Yeah I take a more laid back approach.

As you know I have done themes. Every month a pick a theme and then build my curriculum around the theme. I might have some vague idea of what we might do but some months I decided a week (maybe days) before hand what our theme will be. For example I can tell you that December's theme will be Christmas. However, October.... I'm still deciding. You might say "How do you do that?'  First I have tons of favorite websites for printables and ideas I check. But mostly I turn to Printerest. I freaking <3 Printerest. Look that way -------> see the link at the top of the page check me out.

We usually do a word of the day (WOD). The WOD relates to the theme and it designed to boost vocabulary. Sometimes we make crafts or do printable about that WOD. For example during dinosaur month we had a dinosaur or dino term of the day. For brontosaurus  we make a brontosaurus craft that day also. I usually make WOD cards for the month with the word and a picture on the front and a short definition on the back. They are about business card sized and printed on cardstock. Everyday I give them the new card during calendar time and we discuss the WOD for a few minutes. I found that around 20 WODs a month work great as we don't do them on weekends or special days like holidays.

MonkeyBears Preschool
My Monkeybear is 4 so he will be going to kindergarten next year. OMG so soon. I have no qualms about him being ready academically. I could just let him play all year but he wont let me. He's loves to lean and eagerly awaits preschool time every day. Here is my overview, broad generalized plan for him right now. I have no doubts that it will change... maybe in a few weeks.... maybe a few months. I'm fluid like that. I try to adapt to his needs. Part of the reason I blog is to flush out these ideas. So with out further ado...

Reading/Writing- MonkeyBear is advanced in reading. He is constantly begging me to teach him more, words and letters have always been is interest. This kid knew his letters before he could talk. I follow his lead as to not stifle his love of learning. This year we will be working on Phonics, Journaling, Writing and Sight Words. Of course we do a lot of reading here in the Geeks House, lots and lots of reading. He will go read independently or with a parent at least 10 books a day.

Math- Not a favorite of MonkeyBears but at least it's not hated. Right now its mostly a game with him. On deck for this year is add, subtract, patterns and counting. Currently we are working on counting by 10s, We also do funnixs math computer program. I'm not a big fan of it but hey I got it free and MonkeyBear enjoys it when the mood strikes him

Science- Some of our themes will be centered around science. Dinosaurs and space come to mind as examples. We will  do a  few random science experiments here and there.

Social Studies- Again some of our themes cover this area such as community helpers.

Art- More art is being done now as Squeaker loves it so I try to do a project daily. MonkeyBear will not color or draw. He will only write letters. I can force him to draw or color but he does not like it at all. I know he has the fine motor skills because he will write letters all over the page but drawing a dog or a house is not his style. He does need scissor practice so we are going to do tons of cutting projects

Life Skills and Social Development-  We are always working on this area. While he is advanced in reading he is behind in some life skills. I am proud to report that he is now potty trained and can dress himself. Last month we started a chore system and it's coming along nicely.

Squeakers Tot School
Tot school is all about play based learning. Lets face it a 2 year old has next to no attention span and mine really isn't interested in anything without wheels. I try so do at least 15 mins one on one time , a few times a day playing games with him, doing art project, talking about car colors etc.

Reading/Writing- He can sing the alphabet song. He knows some letters independently. I attrubite that more to MonkeyBears teaching him then anything I have done. in a few months we will start a letter of the week program with him (LOTW) to work of individual letter recondition and sounds. Again lots and lots of book being read to him by his brother or a parent.

Math- We will have a shape and a number of the week to go along with the WOD and the LOTW. He can count to 20 by rote.

Science and  Social Studies- Hopefully he picks up something from the monthly themes.

Art- More art is being done now as Squeaker loves it so I try to do a project daily. Lots of scribbling and painting with some play dough mixed in.

Life Skills and Social Development-  Chore time is iffy and he's a toddler who is testing boundaries but we work on it daily to build a  foundation for later.
Saturday, August 25, 2012

Lesson-239- Reboot

Alrighty then.  I've given the blog a new look. What do you think? I've set up our new home in our new state. Our new schoolroom/playroom is a work in progress but 90% done. We are calling it the boycave a witty combo of bat cave and man cave. So now I feel comfortable renewing our preschool practices. I have been lax in my planning and blogging.

One of the great things about preschool is that it can happen anywhere. Go grocery shopping and ask you little one to find check out number 12, digging for bugs under rocks, building blocks. These are all preschool learning. Printables are fun but somehow I think the real learning and thinking is done in everyday life.  We have been doing these types of preschool activities with maybe a worksheet here and there. Just not as formal as the themes. I missed it, the boys missed it so we are starting back up again. So here we go, hold on its going to be a bumpy ride.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Lesson - 238 - Word of the Day- Plants

Without further ado here are my word of the day for June. I don't give our WOD cards on the weekends or special days so I average about  20 WODs per month.

  1. Plant
  2. Soil
  3. Nutrients
  4. Water
  5. Sunshine
  6. Stem
  7. Leaves
  8. Flower
  9. Petal
  10. Helpful Bugs
  11. Pests
  12.  Roots
  13. Fruit
  14. Vegetables
  15. Pollen
  16. Wind
  17. Weed
  18. Compost
  19. Spade
  20. Hoe

I'm excited that Squeaker will now be able to learn with us. I'm be printing some tot packs once I find my printer. So he will now be on the same theme as MonkeyBear. He will also have the same WOD as I'm trying to keep it simple this month. I'm going to focus on  colors this month. Hopefully it will stick.
Friday, June 1, 2012

Lesson 237 - Lets play catch up.

As my last post stated we have moved. My husbands received a nice promotion within his company that moved our family aprox. 1000 miles. We had an extremely short time to organize a move. Then once we got to the new city we lived in temporary housing for two month while we purchased a new home. The moving truck left about a week ago and I am digging us out of boxes. So we have taken a long 3 month break from formalized preschool activities. So we are starting again in June in which we will be studying Plants and Gardens.

I'm overjoyed with our new home! We lived in a tiny two bedroom rental for he past 5 years. Moving to an area with a lower cost of living has been wonderful. We are going to have a playroom/schooling area. Like those fancy ones I see online. Right now we are calling it the box fortress.  Quite frankly I'm tired and had lots more boxes to unload. I will post some more in the upcoming days.

Friday, April 20, 2012

We have moved

Yet again this blog is on hiatus. My husband's company moved us with very short notice to a new city. Right now we are in temporary housing, while we wait until we move into our new home. Look for new updates most likely in June....sorry.
Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Lesson #236- Why I homeschool Preschool.

This is a lesson for the Parents out there. 

Disclaimer – I am not against formalized preschool. If it’s the right choice for your family and your child  that wonderful. 

Often I feel that there is a pressure, sometimes an intense pressure to send you children away to a formal preschool. Here’s a typical conservation

Mother ‘”What school dose your son go to?”
Me “We do preschool activates at home.”
Mother “Oh you should really check out ABC preschool. They are the best!  Aiden just loves it there. They have …(long list of ABC preschool’s benefits)
Me: Repeating ‘ We do preschool at home”
Mother: “ You have to send them to preschool. How else will they be ready for kindergarten? …. Oh are you just going to home school you kid”
Me: “Nope, sending them to public school for kindergarten but not preschool”
Mother: Totally bewildered as to why I would chose this “Oh”

There were several reasons that I felt that formalized preschool was not an option for our family. Most of the major reasons stated as a benefit to send my child to preschool seemed like things I was already doing successfully at home.

Cost – Preschool is damn expensive. We made sacrifices so I could stay at home to raise our boys. Our already very tight budget. I would of strained  to pay for preschool but it seemed unnecessary while I would still be at home with his younger brother. 

Socialization – We go to several playdates at week and when the weather is nice spend lots of time at the playground. My boys have lots of friends and play well with others. They share as well as a 2 and 3 year old can. In general they are kind, sweet, active boys. 

Academics -  By the time MonkeyBear turned 3 he was already reading cvc words. I had already started and completed a letter  of the week program. Number, colors and shapes were already known. I felt that we had the academics well in hand. 

Learning a school-like setting – This has been told to me many times. “They need to learn to stand in a line, raise their hand, sit in a circle, listen quietly, have some one other then a parent teaching them.” Some of these I feel he is learning from library story times, classes we go to at our local museums. If my kid sits, raises his hand and listens though a 40 minuet preschool nature program at the science museum at 3 I think he will be fine going to kindergarten at 5. 

But there is another reason I keep my boys home. A secret reason. They are small. They haven’t even been on this planet for 5 years. I stay home to love them. I want them to have a magical childhood. I want them to spend an afternoon tromping through the woods with sticks looking for bugs under rocks. I want them to be so bored that they create their own games involving elaborate rules that make absolutely no sense at all to anybody but them. I want them spend a hour drawling green monsters on the kitchen floor. What’s more I want to do it with them. I want to be the mom who climbs up the tree with her kids to look at the birds nest. I want to help them discover the effect of mixing read paint with blue paint. I will only be a stay at home mom for a few short years I want to soak it all in. 

I’m going to leave you with this awesome article. Read it, Memorize it. Print it out,  laminate it and stick it on your fridge.  What every 4 year old should know This article resonates deeply with me. Its my parenting style,  my early childhood philosophy. It touches my heart.  

My favorite quote is “Our children don’t need Nintendos, computers, after school activities, ballet lessons, play groups and soccer practice nearly as much as they need US. They need fathers who sit and listen to their days, mothers who join in and make crafts with them, parents who take the time to read them stories and act like idiots with them. They need us to take walks with them and not mind the .1 MPH pace of a toddler on a spring night. They deserve to help us make supper even though it takes twice as long and makes it twice as much work. They deserve to know that they’re a priority for us and that we truly love to be with them. “
Friday, February 10, 2012

Lesson #235 - Children Museum

My husband is lucky enough to get free tickets to the local childrens museum through work. So on a cold Sunday we headed over for some serious fun.

 Playing in the sensory bin. It was some slimy gooey fun.

Fireman MonkeyBear. I love all the costumes and pretend play.

Doctor MonkeyBear.

Squeaker driving with Daddy in the backseat

 He played in the grocery store for a long long time. Picking out food, checking it out, bagging it, putting it back on the shelves, rinse and repeat.
 Doll house playing
 Building gagets and gears

And Squeaker spent the almost the entire two hours we were at the museum at the train table.

After pretending to make a pizza we left the museum for a real pizzera.

Lesson #234 - Reading

Lets talk about reading.
We do a lot of it around here.
MonkeyBear who has always been obsessed with letters and words is officially reading. Currently he is reading level 1 and 2 books. Not bad for a 3 1/2 year old.  I'm following his lead and he desperately wants to learn how to read. But quiet frankly I'm a little out of my depth. I was a whole reading child and thus never learned my phonics. He is better at phonics then I am. I've been researching lots on teaching reading, and if anything I'm still confused.  I'm breaking his reading learning up into two parts, phonics and sight words.

For the phonics part mostly we are doing Reading Eggs computer program. He loves it, and it helps me get over my phonics block. In the future I will get more phonic related printable into our reading mix. I have yet to find ones that go past beginning and ending sounds. Which he find way too easy. The reading eggs challenges him. 

For the second part - Sight words I'm doing a modified version on the sight word program at 1+1+1=1 called "You Can Read" I really like this program. It's fun and easy. MonkeyBear likes it. We do one unit a week, I just print out what I think he will enjoy. Here is some of that program we finished.
I say modified as the You can read program has 4 words in a unit and I add an additional  two words to make 6 word units.  I make a simple printable for  the extra words to practice writting or in this case we stamped the word.

I also add each word to our word wall which I will share at a later date.

In all I'm happy with my compiled reading program. He's learning and enjoying it. I do feel that I need to introduce  more phonics so that will be my goal in the future.

Lesson #233 - Playdough sillyness

Just a quick post about playdough. Since we are sick and climbing the walls I'm coming up with easy activities with not a lot time. We have tons of play dough that I bought for a steal on a black Friday sale. We do have a playdough set with a fun factory and such. However I found that the boys really like to use the extras I put into the play dough bucket. Here's a short list of what random bits I've added that they use to while playing with the play dough, many are reused again and again.
  • Chopsticks - Play dough balls hold up the chopsticks and then you can add another ball to the top. Many a playdough puppet was made with these chopsticks. Poke the play dough to make holes or draw in it.
  • Drinking Straws - Can be cut with safety scissors to become legs, arms, hair, fur. Also can be used like chopsticks. You can make nice circles when used at a stamp.
  • Round toothpicks- Again used as limbs or hair.
  • Cookie Cutters - To make play dough into shapes
  • Google Eyes- Great for making all sorts of creatures. 
  • Pipe Cleaners - Threading, beading and twisting. 
  • Safety Scissors - To cut dough and straws.
  • Plastic Silverware - Knives to cut. Forks to poke and create texture. Spoons to transport. All the build as a foundation for clay projects.
Here's some photos
Squeaker likes to make a play dough ball, stick a chopstick in it then slide cookie cutters on to the chopstick.

MonkeyBear make this love bug, pipe cleaner tentacle and goggle eyes.