Friday, April 23, 2010

Our Classroom!!

If you're like me, you love to surf the web in search of pics of other homeschool classrooms.  But to be honest, there's just not very many pictures out there.  What's up with that??  Are people afraid that some serial stalker will show up at their home, based on an interior shot of their school room??  Good golly!  Seriously?

So in honor of my fellow stalkers browsers...this one's for you!

Heritage Homeschool

This used to be the Dining Room.  There was a hu. MON. gous crystal chandelier hanging from the ceiling (lol, where else would it be?).  We replaced it with a much needed ceiling fan.  There was so much wallpaper, it made my head hurt.  Below the chair rail was painted burgandy.  The chair rail itself was pink.  The door was also pink.  The wallpaper put up a great fight - winning round 1.  However, I finished strong with a 1-2 punch of Texture (Joint Compound) and Paint.  I think it turned out great~  The green carpet will have to stay until we get a wealthier!  So I tried to work it into the overall scheme of the room.  I don't think it's quite AS noticable...until I point it out anyway!  :O

Reading Spot

I found the bean bag chair at Wal-Mart online for about $40.  Free site to store shipping!! 

I took down the pink door - it's handy to be able to see all the way through the kitchen when you have a preschooler running around the house!  And yes - my OCD immediately took over when I saw this pic and I've already climbed the ladder to fix the crooked-ness of my alphabet. 

That's an old Hoosier cabinet that belonged to my great grandmother.  I've always loved that piece, and when we moved I was sad to find that I didn't have a spot for it in my kitchen.  I think this is the next best thing.  I love using antiques for everyday tasks...I think they have a spirit about them that longs for use and appreciation.  I just taped some colored paper to the door inserts, so I could rotate artwork and quotes in and out.  Here's an upclose shot....

And another...

Moving on to the other side of the room...

My desk and antique armoir supply cabinet.  For my desk, I chose really cheap kitchen base cabinets, and an inexpensive countertop for the surface.  I intentionally moved over the left base cabinet a little so I would have storage space for my bulletin board stuff underneath.  

The hubs was kind enough to build me some shelves to go inside the cabinet.  I've had this piece since I was in high school, and it's served many purposes.  It's been a TV cabinet, extra closet, blanket storage, and media it's home to many, many supplies.........

A glimpse into my life of OCD...even my label maker is labeled.   Oh - and I was pleased to find that the little storage caddy fit perfectly inside the cabinet - like a glove!!  You can find them anywhere, but I got mine here at Target, I think.  I just took out the colored bins (using them in various places around the room and throughout the house), and replaced them with clear shoe-box type bins with lids. 

See? I told you I use the colored bins!!! Much too pretty to be locked away in a cabinet! I love organizing books this way - especially for my preschooler.

I rotate books in and out of these bins periodically, so the kids don't get bored, and so I don't have 12 bookshelves in my schoolroom...I don't have the room, and I hate the cluttered look. The other books are stored in the cabinets in our living room.

I find that the kiddos are much more likely to put their books back where they belong, if where they belong is not a mosh pit of paper cuts. This way, Lindsay can pull out her bin, thumb through it, find the perfect book, and then put it away when she's done.  Genius, I can stop clapping now... ; )

So there you have it - your own personal tour through Heritage Homeschool!  I hope this inspires some of my fellow homeschoolers to get that camera out and post some pics of their classrooms for the rest of us to snoop through!  :)   Have a great weekend!!

Workboxes - Back to Stay!

If you followed my previous blog, you may remember that I tried the whole "Sue Patrick Workbox System" craze last year.  I'm such a rule-follower, that it never occurred to me to *tweak* the idea to make it work for us, until I started seeing that other people were successfully using Sue's idea, but making it work for their indiviual needs.  I rushed out and bought 12 of the traditional plastic shoeboxes, knowing full well that our books would never fit and my OCD nature would have me in fits that I couldn't keep them looking tidy. 

And at the time, we really didn't have room for them - we were doing our lessons in our breakfast area in our kitchen.  Then we moved to the dining area, which wasn't much better.  But we really liked the idea - Trey is just like his mother.  He likes organized and scheduled spontanaeity.  I know - weird.  We like surprises, but only if we know how they fit into our plan for the day - and it helps to know that we're being surprised. 

So when we moved into our new house and I was able to have an actual classroom, I decided to get with the program again.  But this time (being less "new" to homeschooling has given me a greater sense of confidence in my decision to stray from the rules a bit.  lol), I did my research and found these Sterilite Latch Boxes at Wal-Mart that fit a standard size textbook PERFECTLY!  (I bought mine individually in the store, not in the set they have online).  The handles latch the box closed so Trey can stack them neatly once he's finished with his boxes.  They also have different sizes available, which is great because some of my workboxes include chore cards or suprise cards that don't take up as much space, thereby eliminating the wasted space in a bigger box.  I do use a couple of shoebox size boxes, too, because I like that size for crafty-type workboxes, and all of Trey's smaller workbooks, magazines, mad libs, etc.  Here's what our workbox station looks like:  drumroll, please......................................

The green box on the floor is where he puts all of his workbox contents once he's completed the assignment. 

This works well for us because the boxes and contents are separated immediately, rather than piling them all together in one large tub, where everything gets all jumbled up. 

The boxes get stacked on the right, the box contents go in the green tub, and his completed assignments (in paper form) go into a tray on my desk labeled "Completed Work".  (BTW, there's a second tray on my desk labeled "Graded Work," that Trey checks at the end of each day and places in his Portfolio Binder.  It really saves me from having to dig for his work.  I like organization. 

 This is a pic of our larger, textbook-sized workbox.  There's plenty of room for his book, paper, pencils, etc. 

I can't really say enough good things about these boxes - I. love. them. 

They have the interlocking grooves on the top so they can be stacked together and not fall over!  I know - I'm easily excited. 

I got 3 different sizes of these - because we have different sized activities.  They have the shoebox size available, but I couldn't justify buying them when I already had some at home.  :(  Yes, the OCD in me is really bothered by the aesthetic difference. 

And we're stacking.....

I have to say - I hated the schedule cards that were part of Sue's system.  Not just a little, either.  I really hated them.  Trey didn't like them either because they made him feel like a preschooler. 

So in lieu of the schedule cards, I decided on this idea.  He likes file folders (trained him well, I know!).  So I have devised a 2 or 3 page schedule list that I print out each morning.  Snacks, Lunch, and Playtime are all built in to the schedule, just as Sue suggested, and that works well for Trey.  In fact, he just loves it.  I no longer hear 400 times a day: "Mom, what all do we have to do after this??"

Each morning, after he finishes his morning chores, Trey comes to the school room at 9am.  He takes the folder of the appropriate day of the week and places it on his desk.  Then he gets to work checking off each Box Number. 

I try to include at least 2 "Surprise" Cards a day...Trey loves these.  They are as simple as 30 minutes of Computer Time, or as elaborate as a surprise field trip to see a real steam engine roll into town.  We also do a lot of picnics, art cabinet raids, hiking at the park, Mad Libs, Bananagrams, Dominoes (great for Math!!), and other fun stuff like designing a bicycle obstacle course. 

Trey loves the workbox system and so do helps us to stay organized, but it also reminds us to schedule a little fun into our day as well!! 

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Lindsay's Preschool Lessons - April 12 - 16, 2010

I found the coolest mini-unit study on called From Caterpillar to Butterfly.  It's only $1.99, and worth every penny!!  (No, I'm not a paid advertiser, but I when I like something I let people know about it!)  :) 

I had been waiting to start this particular unit because I really wanted to find my Very Hungry Caterpillar book from a box that has been missing since our move.  Well...the VERY day that I gave up all hope of finding my own copy, and reluctantly decided to purchase another one, I went to our homeschool group's monthly meeting where we were having a Book Swap.  And the very book I needed was on a table labled "FREE"!!!!  Can you believe my luck?  I mean, it's not like the book would have broken the bank anyway, but still!  I never get this lucky!  I was really excited!!  Ok, so it doesn't take much to excite me.  :)  Moving on...

We started with B is for Butterfly.  Then moved on to C is for Caterpillar.   We are now going over the #7, and will move on to the Life Cycle of a Butterfly, Nutrition, Mazes, and Sequencing.  The booklet I downloaded also includes Narration Ideas for The Very Hungry Caterpillar, so that she can explain different concepts to me in different ways, using different mediums like play-doh, crayons, etc.

There are loads of other activities that we have planned that are outlined in the ebook, but I wouldn't feel right posting them on here since they're not my ideas.  :)  I urge you to get this and try it out.  It's small, so it's great for a mini-unit for the week.  :) 

Hope everyone is having a great week!!  :) 

Trey's Lesson Plans - April 12 - 16

Wow - it's already Wednesday!  What a wonderful week it's turning out to be!  Last week, Trey and I finished up our unit on Electricity.  We made a very cool game called the Steady Hand Game using a Series Circuit, a block of wood, and some welding wire.  It's similar to the game "Operation," but without all the bells and whistles.  It was fun, though!  I'll write another post explaining the procedures with pictures a little later on - so stay tuned!  :) 

ALSO!!!!  My little man was BAPTIZED this past Sunday!!!  I was so proud of him!!!  :)  Woo hoo!!!  What a wonderful little soldier he will be in God's Army!! 

Here are our plans for this week:

For Trey

Math -
  • Metric Capacity (Gallon Man!!)

Science -
  • Begin unit on Sound and Light
  • Experiment:  What makes sound change?  Tie a string around the neck of a 2 L bottle (tie in with Capacity!!!), Fill the bottle about 1/3 full, and screw on cap.  Use the string to hang so the bottle hangs freely.  Pluck the string and watch to see if the water vibrates.  Experiment with plucking the string gently/hard, how far the bottle hangs down, how much water you fill it with, etc. 
  • Discuss Sound Energy (Tie in with music - use Guitar)
Reading -
  • Koya's Cousin Del 
  • Skill Lesson : Visualizing
  • Also read selections from Little House on the Prairie with eyes closed - How does it look to you?  How do you feel? 
Social Studies -
  • The Southwest - Grand Canyon, Saguaro Nat'l Park, Arizona, Beaumont, Texas.
Spelling -
  • Plural Possessives
Grammar, Usage, Mechanics (GUM)
  • Comparing with Adjectives - use adjectives to compare two people, places, things. 
  • 2 or more syllables = use "more/most"  (Most Beautiful)
  • 1 syllable = just ad -er  (Smaller)
Writing Skills
  • Library Skills
  • Card Catalog
  • Call #'s
  • Dewey Decimal System
  • FIELD TRIP:  Library Scavenger Hunt!!!!  Use learned Library Skills to find books on list! 
  • Why Am I Here?
  • To Love and Obey God. (Abraham's Sacrifice)
  • To Praise God. (Paul and Silas, David)
  • To Worship God. (Israelites Worshipped Golden Calf, Moses)
  • To Serve God. (Daniel, Making Choices, Priorities)

Friday, April 9, 2010

Matching/Memory Game with CUPCAKES!!

For Easter, my mother gave the kiddos each a craft kit (GREAT alternative to giving them more chocolate, by the way).  Trey got a drawing set, Addison got a card making kit, and Lindsay (bless her heart), got a cupcake decorating kit. 

The kit came with a book full of really cool decorating ideas (which she'll probably use when she's a little older b/c they were fairly advanced), a piping bag with all the tips, and a silicon cupcake baking pan. 

When we drove up in the driveway that Sunday night at 9pm (after 3 1/2 hours in the car) , Lindsay was already asking where her apron was.  I promised her that we would get to them on Monday, and that she would be decorating in no time.  Well, we baked Monday night during dinner preparations, but had to let them cool overnight.  FINALLY, Tuesday morning arrived and she was going to decorate those cupcakes if it was the last thing she did!!  I had to beg her to allow me to at least get Addison to school first, and she reluctantly agreed. 
She was so excited Tuesday morning when we returned from dropping Addison off at school!  We donned our aprons, and commenced to frosting, sprinkling, (tasting), and decorating!  The sprinkles were flying in every direction!  I'm still picking them out of my hair. 

And as if that weren't enough fun, I had the wild idea of making our time in the kitchen a learning opportunity - not only about baking and proper kitchen procedures, but I wanted to include some of her language lessons into our baking.  So we made this cupcake matching/memory game!  We laid out all the cupcakes on the counter so she could match them up together.  Then, she ate one!  And since she was only allowed to eat one for morning snack and one for after dinner snack, she had to remember which one she ate first so she could eat it's match after dinner.  It was a really cool game that all the kids enjoyed.  :) 

A is for Apple

B is for Bee!

C is for Caterpillar (don't make fun of my deformed caterpillar!)

D is for Dora (who else??)

And our cupcake decorating session wouldn't be complete without a final tribute cupcake for her grandmother, "B" for giving her this lovely gift!! 

Thanks B!!!!

Monday, April 5, 2010

What to Do with Leftover Easter Candy

Did Aunt Myrtle give the kiddos an extra dose of chocolate for Easter this year?  Are your kids eating candy for breakfast?  Here's my alternative to a sugar-induced coma...

We always travel to my mom's house for Easter.  I allow the kids to indulge in the sugary goodness of the weekend.  Then, when we return Sunday night, we pour all the candy into a collective ziploc.  And we make a big production of storing their Easter baskets in the closet for next year. 

I then separate the chocolate candy and marshmallow peeps from the rest of the candy (which is used for treats for extra chores, special lunchbox treats, crafts, etc.). 

The chocolate candy and peeps can be used with graham crackers to make Smores for Spring camping trips, sleepovers, or an evening by the pool.  Here's my quick and easy recipe:

One Smore:
2 graham crackers
2 or 3 mini Hershey bars
1 marshmallow Peep

Microwave about 40 seconds or until melty and YUMMY!!  :)