Sunday, January 25, 2015

Homeschool Music Time - Playlist #2

It was time to update our playlist a bit after having kept the same songs for most of our PreK schooling. I think I changed it a bit too much, but the kids loved the worship songs. We talked about the lyrics and the videos. I might have shed a few tears when explaining "Kings and Queens" to Grace. It was a very moving music time this morning.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Homeschool Rules

We are transitioning our oldest from public school to homeschool.  She is really excited, but I know from past experience there were inevitably be days when motivation wanes and negativity creeps in.  Just like there are rules at school away from home, there need to be clear rules in place at home. I started over at Confessions of a Homeschooler with the Day 3 Enrichment post.  Keeping in mind the most important commandment to "Love God, love others" (Matt. 22:36-38), my husband and I settled on the following:

1. Show respect. (Exodus 20:12)
2. Be kind. (Eph. 4:32)
3. Work hard. (Col. 3:23; Prov. 16:3)
4. Pray all the time. (1 Th. 5:17)
5. Help each other. (Eph. 4:2-3)
6. Be positive. (Phil. 2:14-15, Prov. 17:22, 1 Th. 5:18)
7. Give thanks. (Eph. 5:20, Ps. 107:1)

In many ways some of the rules - like "Be kind," and "Love other," overlap - but for our kids and their current ages we wanted to emphasize a few specifics in order to help with character development.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Preschool Goals

What does my toddler need to know/do?

I had better know what Boy Hoot needs to know before I start teaching, right?  I wanted to keep it simple, but measurable so that I could track progress.  Sure, "be nice" sounds like it should be a good thing to work toward but how do I measure an improvement in "nice"?  It's not impossible, but I needed to narrow that down more so that I know what social skills we need to improve - is it sharing that is the difficulty?  Or taking turns?  Or is he only unkind if sleepy or hungry?  

I can't tell you what your child needs to learn without knowing your child.  Maybe your kiddo is great at sharing and talking to others, but never ever picks up after himself.  These are the points that were important for us:

Spring 2015 Goals
  1. Recognize capital letters A-J.
  2. Count to 20.
  3. Number recognition to 20.
  4. Recognize written name - Uppercase with lowercase.
  5. Answer questions - “What’s your name?” and “How old are you?”
  6. Increase fine motor skills - scissors, pencil grip.
  7. Identify colors - ROYGBP + Black, White, Gray.
  8. Identify shapes - circle, triangle, square, rectangle.
  9. Draw lines - curved and straight.
  10. Participate in sit down arts and crafts.
  11. Brush teeth correctly.
  12. Clean up after meals and snacks.
  13. Pick up own toys.
  14. Memorize Bible verses - 1 per two week period.

I try to give myself both the goal and what I need to track and measure progress. I take into account what he already knows and what we need to work on. For us, social and practical skills are more important because academic skills come to him more naturally so they take less work and practice. These are also skills that develop best through play so that fact is reflected in our daily routines and activities.

What are your goals for your toddler/preschooler? Why?

Feeling stuck? Leave me a comment or send me a message. I'm happy to help.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Homeschool Preschool Schedule

Things have been pretty crazy around here for the past year between me working on and off, finishing graduate school, renovating and selling a house, moving across town, then moving states.  The only thing routine about life has been the lack of routine.  Transitioning now (finally) into a calmer state of affairs, I find myself again at home with a toddler.  However this toddler is entirely different than my last one.  Boy Hoot learns differently, with less structure and more action.  So while I previously put together loosely structured lessons for Lil' Hoot's homeschool preschool at an even earlier age than Boy Hoot - he's not ready.  So I gathered up some resources from the Internet and Pinterest. Then sat down to give it some thought.

Questions to Ask
  1. What is important for my toddler to learn? (And why?)
  2. What does my toddler love to do?
  3. How much time do we need to spend outside of the house?
  4. What is the best time of day for my toddler to do _______ activity?
  5. What are my resources?
My two children are very different so the answers to these questions for Boy Hoot were a departure from how I approached preschool in the past.  For example, Boy Hoot dislikes leaving the house for any reason (even if it's fun) so I know that one outing a week is really all he can handle right now.  I also know that his naps are unreliable so if there is something I really want him to learn or focus on then it better be something I teach earlier in the morning.  

Next I went searching for free printable cards to make a Daily Routine Chart.  However, I didn't find one that fit what we needed so I made up my own.  Click above for a copy in case it's helpful to you.  For us, what time we do things and how long we spend on activities varies quite a bit from day to day and for Boy Hoot that doesn't seem to matter so I just post the picture that corresponds with the activity and we walk through them together.  Our routine looks like this:
  • Potty, Breakfast, Get Dressed
  • Chores
  • Calendar Time
  • Music
  • Potty Break
  • Guided Choice Time (Snack) - This makes up most of our morning.  He can choose the activity but I have already grouped the bins.  I try to lead him to new activities and work with him to develop skills through play.  Examples include: puppets, art, musical instruments, play doh
  • Outside Time (if possible)
  • Bible Time
  • Lunch 
  • Potty Break
  • Outside/Active Time
  • Reading
  • Potty Break
  • Quiet Time/Nap
  • Potty Break
  • Free Choice Time/Play with sister 
On Wednesday we take a morning outing so that replaces Guided Choice Time for the day.  This routine also works in conjunction with sister's homeschool Kindergarten schedule so that Boy Hoot is busy at the same time as sister.  He is free to join us, but sister enjoys sit down work more than brother so his visits are typically brief.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

I'm Back Baby!

What better way to re-start the blog than with Friends?!

That's right I'm officially back from my graduate school hiatus...and renovating a house, and selling it, and moving - twice.  One thing I learned from moving twice within six months is that I had too much junk for my hobbies.  And too many hobbies.  I had a bag of stuff for jewelry, a 4 drawer tote of scrapbooking supplies, box after box of fabric, a tote and a half of yarn, a box of items to eventually upcycled, a box of doomed Unfinished Objects, the list could go on.  I paired it down once when I first packed up while staging the house, then again when we packed up the storage unit, and again when we repacked the storage unit.  I thought I got rid of lots of stuff.  

Then, we unpacked at our final destination and I still had almost a dozen boxes (of various sizes) of "stuff".  I fit most of it into my allotted craft storage space, but I'm still overflowing by two totes and a large bag of stuffing/foam.  So here's my plan:
  1. Tackle the items in my "Fix It" pile
  2. Complete planned projects
  3. Use my stash to make fun items to GIVE AWAY
So...coming soon I will post pictures and then you guys can claim it.  If you need me to ship it, all you pay is cost of shipping (which should be $5 or less, nothing larger than a Priority mail flat rate envelope is planned).  I get to keep creating and my end products get a place to be loved.  I consider that a win-win.  Anything you recommend I try?  I have tons of fleece and felt.

Right now - I am practicing (and I need a lot of practice) paper piecing so I can make some fun pillows with that large bag of stuffing/foam.  And finally using all the fun fabrics I've been collecting for (literally) years for an I-Spy quilt for the kids (before they outgrow thinking it's fun).  Grace helped me pick out some of the fabrics, lay them out, and move them all around into a pattern. To those of you who donated fabric or allowed me to purchase some of your scraps for the I-Spy quilt - THANK YOU!  Please let me return the favor soon.

 The five pointed star is giving me fits on the last seam - any body have tips?

It kills me a little bit that it's so random, but I could have spent hours debating and arranging. I am truly grateful that Grace was so helpful and decisive in her choices.