Thursday, December 26, 2013

Epiphany Countdown

I made this quick little Epiphany Countdown this morning for my kids using clipart and Microsoft Publisher.  I love it because it is portable - perfect for our trip to Grandma's this week!  I will add the link below for anyone who would like to print it for themselves.  It is plain black and white and I just printed it on colored paper.  Enjoy!

Epiphany Countdown

Updated 11/12/2014 -
Epiphany Countdown 2014

I've also made a smaller, consumable coloring page version.
Epiphany Countdown Coloring Page 2014

Monday, December 23, 2013

December School

December was a light month in our little homeschool.  We made sure to do math, phonics, and writing every day, but other than that we took advantage of a lighter schedule to focus on our Advent work.  We also did a lot of Christmas related work such as learning about Christmas traditions around the world for geography and history.   It is nice schooling year round - it gives us plenty of opportunity to rest when we are feeling a bit burnt out! I am working on putting together our new curriculum for next semester and will get a post about that put together soon.  Thanks for reading!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Service Advent Chain

I put together a little Advent chain project for my daughter's American Heritage Girls meeting.  We have been learning about the first part of the AHG oath: I Promise to Love God.  We read about and discussed Jesus' telling of the greatest commandment - to love God above all else and to love our neighbors as ourselves.  We pledged to work throughout Advent at loving God and loving our neighbors through acts of service.  I had printed out 25 ideas on mailing labels for each girl.  They simply stuck the labels on each strip of paper and created an Advent chain with those strips.  I'm so excited for this fun little chain and am looking forward to doing something similar each year!

Our 25 Acts of Service
  • Do someone else's chore for them.
  • Read or tell a story to a younger sibling or pet.
  • Ask mom if she needs any help in the kitchen today, either with making a meal or cleaning up.
  • Tell each family member how much you love them.
  • Pray for each person in your family.
  • Hug someone in your family.
  • Draw a picture or write a note that you can send to your grandparents to let them know how much you love them.
  • Pick out a toy that you no longer play with that can be donated to a family in need.
  • Ask your mom if you can purchase an extra can or two of food this week at the grocery store to donate to charity.
  • Make an effort to smile at people all day.
  • Do extra chores this week to earn money that can be dropped in a Salvation Army Bucket or in the collection basket on Sunday.
  • Secretly perform a kind act for someone today.
  • Obey your parents, teachers, and others in charge of you today.
  • Be patient today and do what you can to please your parents and family without complaining.
  • Say a Hail Mary for someone who is sick.
  • Offer to say Grace at mealtime.
  • Say a prayer for all the world's hungry people.
  • Find a quiet place and sit for a few minutes, letting God love you.
  • Do not lose your temper when angry or frustrated today.  Think of something else you can do to radiate God's love and forgiveness instead.
  • Talk to your parents and check if there is a service project your family can do this season such as buying a gift for a giving tree, sending a care package to a soldier, etc.
  • Draw a picture of the Nativity today and think about how much God loves you.
  • Take care of God's creation by cleaning up a piece of litter or putting out some food or water for your friendly back yard animals.
  • Ask Mama Mary to prepare your heart for Jesus' coming.
  • Be nice to someone who is hard to get along with.
  • Jesus is born!  Think of God's love for you, and offer him all the prayers you have seen and kind deeds you have done this Advent.

I tried to stick to ideas that wouldn't involve a ton of parental involvement just in case the parents were a bit overwhelmed with their own holiday preparations.  Also there does not have to be any particular order other than the Jesus is born one being on Christmas day.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Advent Countdown

This is what we are using again this year for our Advent Countdown.
The left panel has Mary and Joseph traveling closer to Bethlehem each day.  The middle panel is our Jesse Tree using ornaments that I created several years ago.  We also put up an Advent candle on each Sunday since a wreath is out of the question with a rambunctious toddler in the house!  The right panel is our secular panel where I write something fun for us to do each day leading up to Christmas.  Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Co-op Science: Types of Rocks

A couple of months ago I hosted another science class for preschool-1st grade age students.  This time we were studying the 3 different types of rocks - Metamorphic, Igneous, and Sedimentary.

We started off by having a rock show and tell.  I asked the kids to bring some rocks to share and I borrowed some fancy rocks from a friend to show off as well.
Igneous rocks are formed from cooling magma and so to demonstrate this, we lit some small tea candles and had the children pour the liquid wax onto wax paper and let it harden.  This of course should be done with adult supervision!

Sedimentary rocks are formed from various layers of loose sediment being compacted and cemented together over time.  We demonstrated this by having the kids create layers of colored sugar in baby jars and pushing down with a spoon to compact them.  I was planning to purchase a sand art kit, but couldn't justify the cost.  The food dye colored sugar worked just as well.

Metamorphic rocks are formed when pressure and heat are applied to any other form of rock.  We demonstrated this by giving the kids different colors of playdough and having them form layers to create a sedimentary rock.  They then pressed them between their hands as hard as they could - which of course applied both pressure, and body heat.  The melded result was their metamorphic rock.

We ate a related snack as well!  I made a Sedimentary cheese sandwich and then applied heat (stove) and pressure (spatula) to create Metamorphic grilled cheese.  Then I gave the kids a small amount of vanilla ice cream with some magic shell poured over it.  The resulting shell after it hardened was their Igneous dessert.

This was so much fun and I could see the lightbulbs going off in their heads.  Good times!  Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Charlotte Mason Preschool

Having a child that is Preschool aged is hard if you have chosen to adopt the Charlotte Mason philosophy.  The whole world tells you that formal education begins at Preschool (3 or 4), while everyone in the CM world is shocked if you begin before the age of 6!  What's a CM mommy of young children to do?

I know that Charlotte Mason doesn't recommend starting "formal" schooling until age 6, but that doesn't mean that 3-4 year olds can't benefit from a gentle introduction to some CM techniques.  In fact, there is a TON of things you can do with your 3-4 year old children to build up the skills they will need when they are older.

*Disclaimer!  I am NOT a CM expert (or purist) by any means!  The following is just ways that I've worked on schooling my 3/4 year old while still trying to remain true to CM teachings.

Nature Walks
It's never too early to build a love of nature in a child!  Basic nature studies build a strong scientific foundation in a young child as they begin to observe how the world works and start making connections and asking questions.  Spend as much time as you can outside - playing, having fun, and learning about the world around them.  This is applicable year round - through whatever the weather may be granted they are dressed appropriately.

Living Books
Reading to your children is so so important!  Build up a love of good, quality, age-appropriate literature.  There are TONS of great book lists out there including my favorites: Mater Amabilis and Ambleside Online.

Habit Training
Charlotte Mason encouraged building up strong habits of obedience, attention to detail, self-discipline, etc.  Creating a foundation of these habits while children are still small will lead to smoother days when they are older.

Once your child has developed the fine motor skills to work on a handicraft, this is a useful employment.  Handicrafts are wonderful for developing persistence, patience, and attention to detail.  The kids are also so very proud of themselves when they are able to accomplish something and see that they created something with their own hands!  Simple sewing/weaving projects, and are all things we plan to work on this year.  For a younger child "busy bag" type activities are wonderful for beginning to develop the fine motor skills necessary for handicrafts.

Fine Arts
While it is too early to start formal Artist or Composer Studies with a 3-4yo child, it is really a great age to begin an appreciation of art, music, and poetry.  Our family has found a great way to incorporate these extras into our day by implementing a daily Tea Time.  It's nothing fancy - simply the kids normal afternoon snack time.  But while they are snacking, I read them poetry, we listen to music, we look at art, or even read history-related picture books (more on history below).

Social Studies
Geography, History, basic "government" can all be taught to young children in a CM friendly way.  Learning to navigate through nature naturally leads to discussions and "lessons" on map reading and cardinal directions.  Reading living books about historical time periods and different areas of the world help children get a sense of history and geography.  As you read each living book, talk about where the authors lived and look it up on a map.  Exploring the historical monuments in your area and discussing the natural landforms and habitats in your area are nice hands on ways to learn.  Another way to get a sense of history is to look at photo albums and discuss your own family's history.

Core Subjects
This is not exactly kosher, but I think even core subjects such as Math, Reading, and Writing can all be begun at an early age.  I'll go more in depth about this in a later post, but for now, these are some great websites to read.  Math can be broached in a hands-on way using manipulatives to introduce basic concepts such as counting, patterning, 1 to 1 correspondence, spatial concepts, comparison, basic geometry, etc.  Writing can be begun by having children trace letters and numbers in sand, forming letters out of playdough, etc.  And reading can be taught in a very basic way as well by pointing out letter sounds and basic words.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

On Letting Go

The last several months have been beyond crazy and I feel like I have been thoroughly inducted into the "experienced" homeschool mama club.  I started off this school year at full speed, thinking that we could be in every single co-op in the area and still do a CM education, all while at the same time trying to "keep up with the Joneses" and squeeze in all the traditional public school subjects as well.

Looking back, it's obvious that this wasn't a pace we could keep up with for long.  I have gone through a period of complete burnout - and only halfway through our first semester! not a good sign.

I've been reading a lot more of Charlotte Mason's volumes and as I immerse myself more in her thinking, the more I realize that it is ok to let go and stick with our schedule without trying to add in a million extra things.  I am also trying to simplify our schedule so that we have more time to truly be at home and allow ourselves time to explore and learn without constantly feeling rushed.  I have to remind myself that a public school has different goals in mind and thus must use different methods - methods that I don't need to replicate in my simple two-student setting.  It is an incredibly freeing thought!

What a beautiful thing homeschooling is, that there is room for adaptation and change and the ability to do what is best for each child and family in that moment!

Thanks for reading.  :)

Saturday, November 2, 2013

All Saints Day

For some crazy reason I decided to volunteer to run the All Saints Day party at my co-op.  We've never had a chance to celebrate before but I had always wanted to, so it was really fun finding games and activities online.  Pinterest was my best friend in this case of course!  Since I didn't have a lot of volunteers available, I was looking for games that would be able to be played without an adult helper.
So many neat Saint costumes!  Michaela is towards the bottom left of the picture dressed as Mary, and Rafael is next to her dressed as St. George.


Pin the Halo on the Archangel
I printed out a picture of the Archangels from Happy Saints and had the kids tape felt halos while blindfolded.  This particular page doesn't seem to exist anymore, but I know it is available in one of their wonderful e-books.

Crown Mary Ringtoss
One of the wonderful moms already had the Mary cutout, and I simply brought along a door wreath that I had previously made out of some dollar store items.

St. Isadore Pumpkin Bowling
I taped a harvest tablecloth to the ground as the "lane" and a box at the end of the lane.  The kids had to roll the pumpkin into the box.

St. Peter's Fishing Game
I made a fishing rod out of a stick, string and magnet attached to the end.  The fish were paper cutouts w/ paperclips attached.  The kids tossed the fishing rod into the basket and tried to catch a fish.

St. Anthony Lost and Found Game
I put some religious medals, cards, and various items into the wipes box along with some shredded paper.  The kids had to find the items inside.

Saint Cake Walk
I printed out pictures of various saints from Happy Saints, laminated them, and taped them to the ground.  The kids then walked around the circle as the music played, and when it stopped, the person who was on the Saint I called got a cookie.

St. Joseph Wood Craft
The children made a cross with popsicle sticks and yarn.

It was a really fun day!  Thanks for reading!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Co-op Science: Senses

I teach preschool-1st grade science classes a couple of times a month through a local co-op group. My first class was all about our 5 senses!

We started off with a group activity where we ate popcorn and practiced using describing words to talk about what we were experiencing with our senses.

After the group activity, the kids took turns experimenting with the "stations" I had set up for each sense. 


I had 4 cups with various substances: unsweetened cocoa powder, lemon juice, sugar, and salt.
They had to taste each once and decide if they were bitter, salty, sweet, or sour.

I had six baby food jars w/ a cottonball dipped in various substances: cinnamon, lemon juice, vanilla extract, almond extract, peppermint extract, and orange extract.  They had to try to identify what was in each jar just by smelling.

I had a dozen plastic eggs filled with 6 different items so that each item had a match.  They were beans, rice, a coin, nothing, lentils, and a bottle top.

Balloons filled with different things to match simply be feeling (sand, water, beans, rice, lentils).

A magnifying glass with interesting items to look at.  They each had a journal to write/draw about their observations.

It was a great class!  Thanks for reading!

I'm linking up!

Feast of St. Francis

I LOVE the Feast of St. Francis.  His love of animals makes him so accesible and kid friendly, while his attitude towards showing love through action is something that really helps them understand what it means to live the Gospel.

To start the day with, we watched this really cute video that the kids loved:

We didn't get to much else, but at our Catholic homeschooling co-op that afternoon, they learned more about him and made some really cute bird feeders made out of bagels to help care for our friendly front yard friends.

I found some really neat resources in planning some fun ideas for next year:
10 Ideas for Bringing St. Francis to the Classroom
St. Francis and the Blessing of Animals
Celebrating St. Francis of Assisi with Young Ones
St. Francis of Assisi Notebooking Page

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Celebrating the Archangels

My kids are all named after Archangels so we always try to celebrate Sept. 29th - the Feast of the Archangels in a special way.  It was a crazy day so we didn't get to do too much other than read stories about the Archangels and color a coloring page.

You can find this neat coloring page at Happy Saints.  I LOVE his artwork and have many of his ebooks on my homeschooling wish list.  :)

I found a few other neat ideas for celebrating this day that we'll have to try next year.  Thanks for reading!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Narration for Young Children

A big part of a Charlotte Mason education is narration. The idea is that when a child knows they will have to recite a story or lesson after it has been read, they will pay better attention to detail.  The process of narration also helps solidify the lesson in their memory as they work to re-tell it.

Charlotte Mason does not recommend narration before the age of 6 as it can be difficult at first and can dampen a young child's natural curiosity and love of learning.  I was noticing though, that as I read to my children, there were many times it was obvious that they weren't paying attention.  I realized that some simple narration might help so I brainstormed techniques that would be age appropriate and fun. 

Puppet Shows and Plays

The first way we have started working narration into our days is through plays and puppet shows!  They naturally tend to do this anyway, so I knew it would be something they enjoy. 

Last week they were obviously zoning out as I read to them so after I finished I suggested we do a puppet show.  Michaela, my little perfectionist gave me a look of horror and then sheepishly asked me to re-read it to her.  After a couple of readings, she finally attempted a puppet show and did so well!  I was impressed at what she was able to recall, and we will definitely be doing this more in the future as the need arises!


We journal pretty much everything.  We found these wonderful primary composition books with space to draw on top and manuscript lines underneath.  They love to journal items they found in nature, or about what they did that day.  At this age, they basically draw everything and ask me to label it for them.  We recently started journaling their weekly bible stories as a way to help them remember them a little bit better and I am impressed by the details they remember.

Do you do narration with your young children?  Please share in the comments if you do, I'd love to get more ideas!  Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Habit Training: Starting the Day off Right

Habit training is a big part of the Charlotte Mason philosophy as an essential step in building character.  It's also VERY important in making sure that our homeschool days run smoothly!

As we geared up for starting school in late June/early July, the first step I took in habit training was in making sure that our days started off on the right foot!  It seemed like our mornings were always painfully dragging as I nagged the kids to JUST.  GET.  DRESSED.  ALREADY!

Then I would start the day off angry and annoyed, with my patience level dangerously low.  Not a good way to start every day.  So I implemented a simple wake up system that had the bonus of giving me a little extra time to get ready in the morning without the kids bothering me for a snack.

I created a simple sign and put it on the back of the big kids bedroom door.  Before the kids come out of their room each morning they have to do their 3 things:

1.  Say a simple morning prayer: "Thank you for this day Lord, help me to be good."
2.  Make their beds.
3.  Get dressed.

Simple, right?  And yet it has done so so much to save our sanity!  The kids start the day completely prepared and all I have to do is get the baby dressed after breakfast while the kids work on handwriting.  I'll be posting our Chore Chart soon to show more ways we have been working on habit training.  Thanks for reading!

Monday, August 19, 2013

My Students

Meet the stars of our homeschool: the students!
Michaela - 5
She loves math and science and craves order in her day.
(Did NOT get that from me!)
Wants to be a teacher in a school when she grows up.

Rafael - 3
He loves handwriting and math.
He is a total bundle of energy!
Wants to be a Grandpa when he grows up.
Gabrielle - 18 months
She's not a student yet, but she certainly tries!
On any given day she can be found climbing furniture and emptying out all our school bins!
We are participating in the "Not" Back to School Blog Hop!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Term 1 & 2 At a Glance

As most students around the country, both home and public schooled, are gearing up to return to school, we just finished our second "term" of the year. We are trying our hand at year round homeschooling and have broken our year up into 3-4 week "terms" with a week break in between.  Here's what we've been up to the last couple of months.

In Our Homeschool
Term 1 - Finding our Groove
We went through three or four complete transformations in our schedule as we tried to figure out our new normal. By the end of the term we had finally figured out what seems to be working for now. I'm sure this will change again at some point as the children grow.
Term 2 - On a Roll
These past 3 weeks have been much easier for us.  We've figured out a good routine, and are slowly learning that everything doesn't have to go exactly as planned for it to be a good week.  The kids are surprising me with their inquisitiveness and we are spending far longer on certain lessons because they really want to go into detail.  The only negative is that our math curriculum doesn't seem to be working out for us very well (RightStart Math) so I am looking into changing to MEP soon.  Other than that, I'm really starting to enjoy this homeschool thing!

In our Life
My husband is a teacher and was thankfully able to be home for most of our first term. It was nice having him at the beginning as I was figuring everything out. He returned to work as we started our second turn and thankfully our schedule worked just fine, even without him home to help with the baby!

I've also spent the last couple of months joining various homeschool groups and trying to figure out which will work best for our family. I am an EXTREMELY social creature, as are the children, so I know a good homeschool group will be a huge bonus for all of us.

Around Town

Even though we started in July, our schedule still allowed us to enjoy plenty of summer fun!  Trips to the splash pad, 4th of July parade & picnic, field trips to the nature center and biopark, storytimes, and a week of VBS kept us plenty busy!  In August, we've been enjoying spending time with our MOMS Club friends at various playdates, and getting to know some new friends through a Catholic moms group I joined.  We're looking forward to starting a couple of co-ops this month too!
My Kitchen
This is probably my biggest struggle of the day. By the end of the day, instead of cooking dinner, I just want to sit down and zone out. I've been getting through by trying to make simple, easy meals. They are not always the most nutritious though, so that is definitely something we'll have to work on!

I'm Grateful For
The ability and the freedom to stay home with my kids and be their teacher.

I'm Praying For
Patience!  Some days are wonderful, but I have had my fair share of mommy tantrums.  I am praying that I can keep calm through the rough days and show my children the face of Jesus instead of the anger that so easily comes to me.

Things I'm Working On
This week we have off from school, so I have LOTS of projects I am working on right now, including a pen-pal template for my beginning writers (which I plan to share as a free printable!).  I'm also pulling together a preschool-1st grade level science class for one of my co-ops that starts this week.

Sharing is Caring
Here are some awesome posts that I found recently.  I hope you will find inspiration or humor in some of them as well.
The Homeschooling Mom's Prayer at So You Call Yourself a Homeschooler
The Forgotten Mom at Hip Homeschool Moms
When You Think Your Love Story is Boring at Lisa-Jo Baker
Raspberry Cheesecake Jars at Weelicious

I'm Linking Up

Thanks for reading!

Geography: Maps

We aren't following a Geography curriculum, but as we will be doing many hikes and nature walks this year, I wanted to make sure they understood how to read a map and what cardinal directions were.


We used this book as an introduction to maps and all their important features including symbols, compass rose, legend, etc.  It is so well written, and absolutely perfect for their age range.


After spending the week learning about maps, we made a small house with dollhouse furniture and popsicle sticks as walls.  Then I asked her to make a map of her house, including a compass rose, symbols, and a legend.  It was a perfect activity to end our map lessons!

I also asked her to navigate our way through the botanic gardens a couple of days later using the provided map.  I'm sure we'll be doing more of that in the future!  Thanks for reading!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Signs of Progress

When we made the decision to homeschool, we went full steam ahead, no looking back.  I memorized my responses to questions such as "what are you going to do for socialization?" and made sure that I NEVER seemed unsure of our decision.  But of course, as I'm sure is the case with the vast majority of homeschoolers in their first year, there has always been a tiny nagging voice in the back of my head telling me that maybe I made the wrong decision.  That maybe I will end up screwing up my kids in some unforeseen way.  Especially having chosen a "non-traditional" style and curriculum.

So you can imagine my surprise and happiness (and no small amount of "Ha ha!  I can do it!") when I started seeing signs of progress.  After almost 2 months of homeschooling, I can tell that what I am teaching is sticking and that my kids are getting the kind of education that I wanted them to have.

Rafael asked if he could write his name.  He is 3!  I didn't ask him to, and have certainly never had him do handwriting drills of any sort.  He practices forming letters with playdough and wikkistix though, so I was quite impressed to see it translate to writing. 

Reading to her brother.
Michaela is reading short stories on her own.  We do a simple 10 minute lesson a day, and apparently it is working!  She was skyping with her Grandma on Sunday and everyone was impressed with how well she is doing!
Making Connections
She makes so many connections on a daily basis that I can tell her little brain is working and learning all the time.  We were using equilateral triangles to make other shapes, and she noticed that in making a larger triangle, each row was a series of consecutive odd numbers.  (1 in the top row, 3 next, 5 next, etc.).  I love seeing her figure things out without me interfering in the slightest!

I'm looking forward to where else this year takes us!  Thanks for reading!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Homeschooling Through Sickness

St. Blaise, pray for us that we may not suffer from illnesses of the throat and
pray that all who are suffering be healed by God's love.  Amen.

I woke up feeling awful.  I've had a tickle in my throat for several days that I was attributing to allergies, but the way I feel today I'm pretty sure it's a cold.  The kids are also complaining of sore throats, though their energy levels don't seem to be affected like mine is.  (Of course, isn't that the way it always works?!)  Though this is my first experience homeschooling through feeling yucky, I thought I'd share some things that I am trying to do to make sure I can make it through the day and give my littles the attention they need!

I don't know about you, but I always feel better after I exercise, especially when I am sick!  I definitely did NOT feel up to it, but I woke up this morning and went running before Philip went to work.  Being outside first thing in the morning and getting my endorphins flowing definitely got me into a much better frame of mind than if I had slept later and woke up groggy and in a bad mood!

Take Extra Care of Yourself
It's easy to skip meals and snacks when my mind is preoccupied with feeding the kids, doing last minute prep work for lessons, and making sure the house doesn't explode with toys and books while the toddler runs around wreaking havoc.  I am trying to be extra conscientious today about eating well and drinking plenty of fluids.

Take Lots of Breaks
My mind just doesn't work the same when I am sick.  Both my mind and my body need breaks to get back to optimum running level so the kids are getting plenty of extra playtime in between lessons today!

Be Honest with the Kids
With the exception of the baby, my kids are old enough to understand that mommy is feeling bad, they need to give me a little break.  I tell them I am not feeling great and ask them to do their best to stay out of trouble.  Does it always work?  No, but all in all, I think they definitely work a little harder at being good when they see how miserable I am!

Give Yourself (and your Students!) a Break
My kids love school.  They love learning and reading and journaling, and everything else associated with school.  At the same time, it is really hard to concentrate and learn while you don't feel good.  The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak!  While I don't want to get behind in lessons, it's not a big deal if we do.  We can catch up on a weekend or on any of the several break weeks that I have planned in to our year.  Homeschooling is so awesome!  When kids go to school and are sick for a day, they just miss out on whatever is learned!  At home, we can make it up whenever we have a free moment!  While we've managed to take care of almost everything today, my goal was the three R's (reading, writing, a'rithmetic) - everything else is bonus in a house full of sickos!

Mandatory Quiet Time
The older two haven't napped in years, but as soon as the baby went down, they were sent to their room for mandatory quiet time.  I need rest, and it wouldn't hurt them either!  I don't care if they actually sleep or not, as long as they stay in their room!

Speaking of's time for me to try to squeeze in a nap!  Any other tips on how to make it through a homeschool day when you and/or your kids are sick?  Thanks for reading!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Nature Studies: Tadpoles and Caterpillars

Ever since we "discovered" the Charlotte Mason way of teaching, we have been immersing ourselves in nature and trying to be more aware to the world around us.  Thankfully God is helping us out a little bit by presenting us with amazing opportunities!

A few weeks ago, Philip discovered hundreds of tadpoles in the little seasonal pond that forms in the arroyo near our house during monsoon season.  He took the kids to see them and it was a unanimous decision to bring some home so that we could see their life cycle first hand!

Top Left: Hundreds of tadpoles in the pond, Top Right: Tadpoles Day 1
Bottom Left: Tadpoles Day 3 (Legs and shortening tail!), Bottom Left: Tadpoles Day 5 (Almost no tail!) 
We were out playing in the front yard earlier this week and saw a HUGE caterpillar inching along a patch of dirt.  I quickly ran inside to grab a large empty pasta jar, scooped some dirt and grass inside and picked up the caterpillar with a stick and placed it in the jar.  We did some research later in the day and discovered that this gorgeous caterpillar is actually going to turn into a dull brown moth.  The kids didn't care; they were thrilled that we might have a chance to see it pupate and change - even if it wasn't becoming a butterfly!

This particular caterpillar pupates underground so we made a habitat with tons of dirt and are hoping that it will pupate soon!  I did warn the kids that more often than not, caterpillars in captivity die so they are well prepared for that eventuality, but we are doing our best to encourage the natural life cycle of this little creature!

Thanks for reading!

I'm linking up!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Our School Room

While we do most of our schooling outside of our official schoolroom, I find it easier to keep things organized when there is a central location for all of our materials.  Plus, as Michaela attended a public preschool, she is comforted with the appearance of "real school" style decoration.  This may change as our homeschooling journey continues, but at this point, this is what we both need.

Our schoolroom is actually the baby's room.  As she is still sleeping in a crib, her room was the best option.  She is contained at night and can't make any messes.  She naps in the big kids room so that we can utilize the schoolroom at that time.

Our School Room
We have a small table for one on one work.  It is really too small, even now, so I am sure we will replace this with a larger one at some point, or just do our work at the kitchen table.  We also have 3 workbox towers.  I don't use them as "real" workboxes - just to store our supplies.  I also store misc. supplies on top and on the sides.  Above the table is a checklist we use to make sure we get our daily work done.  I don't really need this, but Michaela enjoys checking things off on her own.
Along one wall I have our simple pocket chart schedule.  I love it because I can easily move things around if we get off schedule.  I also have a simple pocket chart calendar (source: Our Aussie Homeschool), and a picture that shows them their options for free choice time.

On the same wall, there is our old coffee table with a book display in which we put all the books we are currently using.  Next to it is a basket with most of our Religion books.
Along the other wall I have a cabinet that holds most of our misc. school supplies.  Tucked in between it and the wall are a couple of pillows and a blanket that the older kids sometimes use during quiet time when they are listening to audiobooks.  Next to that is a shelf that holds most of our library books (we had just returned a lot, so it is a bit sparse).  We also have several educational posters scattered about the room to help with decoration.  :)

That is our school room tour for now!  Thanks for reading!