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Yoga for Kids

wp-1457895052140.jpg I wanted to share this great book I bought yesterday.  I’ve been trying to teach my oldest son calming techniques, as he seems to become very emotional very quickly so he’s past the point of being able to “check” himself.  We’ve been working on yoga, meditation, and taking “lion breaths”.  He’s enjoyed the yoga moves up to this point, but as I am not an experienced yogi, our “sequences” have been pretty broken and disorganized.  We’ve done five lion breaths at the end of each session to practice meditation, but overall, he’s so silly during the exercises and meditation that it hasn’t really resulted in much calming.

When I saw this at Barnes and Noble I knew I had to buy it.  The pictures are beautiful, the sequence is simple, and the fact that it’s a bedtime story makes the yoga all the more appealing.  Daniel wanted to do it twice last night, and the first thing he asked for this morning was to do yoga.  We even successfully did three sets of five lion breaths last night.

 

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My Little Yo-Guy Doing the Tree Pose

Family Binder

I’ve seen Family Binders and thought they were a great idea, but as an single parent I didn’t really need one for meal planning and the kids’ doctors’ number.  I’ve designed one that suits our needs, kind of an organizational tool and kind of Pinterest in physical form.  We used a lot of papers from this list of organizational tools.

Essential information includes our contact info, doctor info, SSN, blood types, birthday lists (Word offers a few pre-designed pages), and passwords.

The Goals section includes anything goal related.  I have several blank goal sheets for what crops up during the year, goal sheets for checking of scriptures read, and our reading lists for Daniel.

Our schedules sections have a couple of different organizers.  I ended up just buying a daily agenda to go with my weekly one.  I have one that has a section for each of my activities (Family, Blue Goose Charity Organization, Work, Personal), one I downloaded from the previous link that tracks water intake, chores, and menus. I also keep a couple of blank monthly calendars where I write in doctor’s appointments, birthday parties, and tentative playdates, as I have a tendency to overbook.

The financial section includes my budget, any bills that are on a payment plan (Alex’s hospital bill-finally paid off this month!), and my most recent credit reports.

The food section holds recipes I’d like to try and lists such as non-processed snacks and healthy go-to meals.  I may try more formalized menu planning, but I’ve truly never had a problem budgeting groceries, planning meals, using leftovers, etc.

The work/school section includes any documents related to those.  As I will be job hunting if we move this fall, I’ll keep a resume there. School documents include my transcripts.

Crafts and learning activities are just printouts of what I’d like to try.  The learning activities have relocated to their own binder.

The homemaking section is supposed to include a cleaning schedule.  It’s empty at the moment.  The intention is there.

The spiritual sections are lessons or printouts along spiritual lines.  For instance, I have a list of verses I’d like to memorize as well as ones that are appropriate to children.  I have a couple of learning packs and printouts that have Biblical themes.  These include lessons from Confessions of a Slacker Mom as well as folder games from Finch Family Games. FHE is a concept I kept from when I was Mormon.  They do a weekly Family Home Evening that includes a lesson that accommodates your family’s abilities and needs, an activity that promotes family bonding and growth, and a snack.  I keep ideas for FHE and FHE snacks here.

Preparedness includes information and planning for creating 72 hour kits and food storage and other emergency prevention solutions.  This is also something I held onto from Mormonism.

The final section is my Word Study section.  I’ve seen this idea in a few places, some more religious-study based and some  less so.  The word I picked this year was Peace.  Honestly, I haven’t even touched it yet.

I have already found the binder coming in handy for passwords, calendars, and storing ideas.  It’ll be an organic system, growing and changing as our family requires.

A Lesson in Flexibility

This week kind of fell apart from the beginning.  We had a lot of obligations, and after Monday fell apart and I got called into work on Thursday, I decided this weekend will just be about enjoying the warm weather.  I’m a perfectionist by nature, so my first inclination was to try to cram everything into every free moment and catch up, but that wouldn’t be effective learning.

I think this week was a good lesson in intentional parenting, though.  While we weren’t learning based on a planned curriculum, I did make sure our activities were learning activities.

Between our normal play time, I incorporated a couple learning game with Daniel.  We used this letter match from Twinkl and the numbers I laminated for our Feed The Raccoon Game to play a fly swatter number identification game.

wp-1457754102435.jpgWith Alex, I tried to make his time more productive by not just holding him or handing him a bottle while I prepped dinner.  This week, while I cooked, he got a sensory bath (normal bath but with slotted spoons and pouring cups for toys), he played  with squash guts in the sink, we made music together with and without instruments, and we explored “treasure boxes”, which are just miscellaneous things in a box that are baby-safe and offer a variety of textures and sounds.  He’s at a difficult age for activity planning.  He’s at that age of curiosity and business, but he’s not going to sit down for any sort of manipulatives or sorting yet.  Right now it’s probably mostly going to be blocks and sensory activities.

wp-1457755294636.jpgThis week I also created an activity binder for Daniel.  This includes extras from printable packs or random worksheets I’d like him to do but don’t have time for in our curriculum.  He can work on them while I cook or the days I’m at work.  Earlier this week I found these Leap Frog books and card games at Toys R Us.  We have another set of card games that Daniel carried off.  I liked these books because the pages were simple and varied.  Whenever I buy an activity or handwriting book, I photocopy the pages I want to use; this allows multiple use as well as prevents him from just rushing through the book.  A few pages of these ended up in his learning binder.  Next week, when I switch into our St. Patrick’s Day theme, I’ll swap the pages for St. Patrick’s day worksheets that I didn’t incorporate into our formal curriculum.

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In December, I was at a charity event that helped families, and they mentioned the thirty million word gap between low-income and high-income children.  I heard about this when I was in school for teaching, but with this reminder, my resolution for the year was to read 50 books a month with Daniel to total 600 books by the end of the year.  This only includes books that I personally read with Daniel.  Also with the word gap in mind, I know that a large percentage of rich vocabulary comes from children’s literature, as it uses a lot of words we don’t use in daily speech (pounced, astonished, gravity) (for a list of children’s literature with rich vocabulary look here and here.  Where I’ve been known to skip sentences or summarize a book to shorten the process, I only count books I read through so he is getting  the full extent of the vocabulary.  You see we fell short in January and definitely in February because of our move, so we’re playing catch-up in March and April.  It helps me to keep a list because most nights five books sounds like a lot, but then I’ll think, five more for the list!

Another idea I plan to begin using is the concept of reading and  math logs.  The idea behind logs is that the kids record x amount of time doing a subject-related activity.  For example, measuring while cooking or doing math with legos would be appropriate for a math log. At this age, the reading log won’t be useful because most of that is done directly and through reading books only.  We’ll use the math log to help me remember to incorporate shapes, patterns, identification, and math discussion everyday.  I’m beginning with 15 minutes a day, and I’ll analyze what he needs from there.

Missing part or all of our curriculum isn’t the end of the world.  The learning of daily interaction and real life and the outdoors is just as valuable, if not more, than the formal curriculum.  As Pete the Cat would say, lessons come and lessons go, but it’s all good.

Bob Books: Book 1 Set 1

We are starting our reading with the Bob Book series.  The first book of the first series is “Mat”, which uses the letters m,a,t, and s.  The only words in the entire book are Mat, sat, Sam, and on.  I love the Bob Books because they have built Daniel’s confidence in reading and are helping him to realize the correlation between sounds and letters and letters and words.  There are a lot of Bob Book Printables packs online:

In Lieu of Preschool

3 Dinosaurs

Walking by the Way

We started each reading lesson by reading “Mat”.  Admittedly, he was way more excited on day 1 than day 3.  He understood how each letter had a corresponding sound, but he couldn’t run those sounds together to find the word.  He specifically had a lot of trouble with the word “Sam”.  Day 1 we used his Leap Reader to build some -at words.

Day 2 we used short a word sliders from The Measured Mom.  He still didn’t really get the sound-it-out process.  I’m going to have to look into some steps to bring him to that level.  We also did some of the word paths from 3 Dinosaurs.  He really enjoyed those.

Days 2 and 3 we did “word races”.  I printed sat, Mat, and Sam in large font on regular paper, and when I called out a word he had to run to it.  We switched the order of the words around and made it fun with jumping jacks and skipping.  He really got a kick out of making me do it!

I’m going to step into book 2 next week, but based on what I’ve seen so far I think we may have to take a step back to learn how to sound it out before we go any further.

Week 1: Writing

Writing has always been a struggle with Daniel.  At four, he’s only recently willing to sit down and practice.  I’m not too concerned because plenty of kids don’t really learn to write until kindergarten, but you know there are always those moms showing off their two year old’s cursive signature…

Right now, we’re introducing and practicing lower-case letters as well as working on fine motor skills.  Daniel still doesn’t hold a pencil correctly, and I’ve always heard not to force it but to develop the muscles so they naturally want to hold it the right way.

wp-1457060894461.jpgI used these “Size Matters” handwriting practice sheets from One Beautiful Home.  This week we are working on lower case a and x. I picked a to start tackling the letters in his name, and I chose x because it looks the same as the capital x.  We did the same  two letters every day; he was irritated about it on day 2, but day 3 he seemed to accept that that was just something we did.

wp-1457060848013.jpgOn days 1 and 2 we practiced writing “Daniel” with both upper and lower case letters.  To make it interesting, we used some of our other letter mediums to write his name.  He really enjoyed the stamps, which we later used with the “Making Words” sheet of 3 Dinosaurs’ Bob Books printables for Set 1 Book 1. He didn’t really make the words, but he used the stamp over each letter of the key.j

We also used a puzzle that I had printed and laminated awhile ago and so can’t source.  It required matching upper and lower case letters.  I chose about six sets for him to work on, about half of letters that look the same upper and lower case.

wp-1457060878266.jpgDay 2 Daniel also drew a picture of our family to work on his fine motor skills.  While he hates to write, he loves to draw and color, and at least that will work on his muscle development.  I’m the big smiley face to the left.  Alex is the screaming green one.

wp-1457310508750.jpgOn day 3, for some sensory learning, we used In Lieu of Preschool‘s Play Dough Word Mats with our Bob Book words.  I needed him to work independently so I could get something else done, so it’s not the prettiest masterpiece, but you can basically read the words.

Week 1: Math and Science

Math and Science have been my favorite to plan because they’re so simple, at least at this age.  We’re doing math lessons on days 1 and 3 and a science experiment/lesson on day 2. Right now, I’m working on counting and number recognition with Daniel, particularly with numbers 11 to 20. The science experiments are just what I think he would find fun and be able to understand.

Daniel enjoyed these Spring printables from Fun Handprint Art.  We counted out loud as we did our fingerprints.

I had briefly come across this game from Stay at Home Educator without really looking at it.  Apparently it’s called “Don’t Feed the Raccoon”, but we called it “Feed the Raccoon” and played by our own set of rules.  I made a raccoon from a shoebox and laminated some cards of the numbers 1-20 (found on Google image search).  I called out a number for Daniel to feed the raccoon.  It was a good chance to practice differentiation between, for instance, seven and seventeen and how the “teen” numbers have a one in the front.  His favorite part was when the raccoon “threw up” in the end to play again.

I’m definitely going to hold onto that one for letters and sight words as well.wp-1457302828379.jpg

For our science lesson, we used some of the bigger items from our nature walk to learn about water displacement.  Our first attempt was in a measuring cup with shells, but there wasn’t enough displacement to notice.  He kind of got it with our second cup and some rocks, and we got a double-lesson with buoyancy.  Ultimately, he got an orange stuck in the cup and really got to see how displacement works (all over the counter).

Week 1: Infant Activities

My homeschooling is really focused on Daniel, but I’m planning to have at least one activity a day focused on Alex’s learning as well as have song time with both boys.  I’d like Alex to sit in on our spiritual lessons, too, but so far we’ve done those after he’s gone to bed.

Day 1 had a water sensory bin.  Mom’s sink is perfect to hold a plastic toy bin, so I put a few fun things inside and let Alex sit in the sink while he played (doubled as bath time aftewards).  Daniel wanted to play, too.

Enjoy the baby bum!

Day 2 we made a “blue bin” and discussed all of the blue things inside.  Daniel helped me make an obstacle course to practice climbing, and Alex had fun knocking down blocks with me while Daniel worked on a sit-down activity.

Day 3 I made a noodle sensory bin.  I thought this would go over much better than it did (Patch Adams, anyone?).  Alex was very hesitant at first and didn’t like the taste of the noodles, but he got a little into the squishing and throwing after a few minutes.  I also made him a muffin tin bin.  He pretty much looked at it, went for the food, and disregarded the rest.  He’s definitely my kid.

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This is pretty  much what song time looked like.  This week we did “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” with signing.

I’m going to have to Google and make a list of what to do with him.  He’s at that age of not being able to do much but wanted to do and be involved with everything.  If you have any ideas, please share!

Week 1: Creation Story

This week we started at the beginning: the Creation Story.  I’ve talked to Daniel about God, and we’ve been to church a few times, but to be honest, I never really enjoyed denomination or church.  I was raised Disciples of Christ, and my father taught us to read and study and pray independently, and that’s what I prefer to do.  However, I recognize that my children will need church to help lay the foundation for a personal relationship with God.  So for our “formal” spiritual lessons, we’re going to hit the highlights first and go from there.

Each day we watched a YouTube video of the Creation Story while he did a related activity.  The three lessons this week were God Made Light, God Made Nature, and God Made Animals and Me.  I slacked on making the collage for lesson two, so it was combined with lesson three’s collage.

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For Lesson 1, after watching the video, I tried to prompt him to recognize that God made light.  He didn’t really get the difference between light and sun, so we discussed that God made everything and listed some things God made.  We made this collage by gluing “light” into “dark”.

For lesson 2, we took a nature walk with my mother.  I asked Daniel to collect some of his favorite things in nature.  We talked about all the beautiful things God has made for us.  I intended for the nature items to have their own collage, but we got caught up in running errands that night.

For lesson 3, we combined our nature collage with our “animals and me” collage.  We took some pictures from his National Geographic Jr. magazine and Facebook and glued it with some of the smaller items from our walk.

What I Learned My First Week of Homeschooling

I made it through week one! And I can tell you it went exactly how I pictured and nothing according to plan.

I envy these other Homeschool-Mom bloggers, but I’m telling myself that maybe behind the cute pictures of their children focused intently on a learning activity is the chaos that surrounded me this week.

Here’s what I learned after just one week:

-I’m lucky my child is only four…because I don’t know what I’m doing.  Luckily, it’s hard to do too much damage at this age.

-Plan, and then plan to not stick by your plan.  I learned this when I was a student teacher.  You have to have a guideline for what you want to accomplish, but inevitably the children will redirect your lesson, and you need to be able to work with it.  If you’re really good you’ll be able to roll with the changes and still accomplish your plan.

-Learn how your child learns.  I did a mix of sit-down activities and hands-on activities this week, but I can see I’m going to have to lean towards kinesthetic and sensory learning to keep Daniel’s attention.

-Keep both children entertained.  I know the what, I just don’t know the how. More when I figure it out.

-It’s okay not to do something or to spread your days out.  We have three days set aside for homeschooling, but the activities spread into five.

When it’s all said and done, I had a great time with my boys, and hopefully, they came out no worse for the wear.