Tuesday, February 9, 2016

1st Grade History project {homeschool}

We had so much fun this morning studying King Tut that I had to share with any of my fellow homeschoolers that might be in the need of a fun no-stress project to change things up.

We love history in this house and so we look forward to school days when we study it. We chose King Tut as a theme recently, and even made a trip to the Carnegie museum where we looked at all the Egyptian goodies up there. The kids all squealed when they saw the skeleton that had been preserved. 

Yup, there it is!......

We took a lot of inspiration from this exhibition, and they all took something different from it. Brock and Summer loved all the beads and jewelry they made, and had found in tact, Sky loved the skeletons and the idea of the mummifying! Haha! 

They read a bit about King Tut and so I decided they would do a project. They enjoy doing mini studies where we go into depth. We watched you tube videos all about him and his life, and even about how they prepare the mummies. Brilliant and gory! 

We researched hieroglyphs and their meanings, and we even found their names as they have names that are also "things". Sky did ask me the symbols for car/spaceship...to which we had to have a "Duh!!" moment, and both had a good laugh at his "time" mistake.

At home I put together a little pamphlet that they could fill in from memory and colour after we studied together. It was great fun, and they love having something they can keep and show people to teach others about King Tut. So if you ever stop by our house, you can look forward to that. We have a few more historical figure studies, so I will share those in the future. I might put together a template and a lesson plan if these become a thing, and will happily share the unit with you all.

Here's a little look at what we did for the King Tut study. I just folded and wrote the bold letters, other than that he did the cuttings, sticking and colouring etc.:

..and this, our little Egyptian queen! We had so much fun researching the makeup they used back then and how they would adorn themselves. The heiroglyphics on her headdress have the meaning "Summer", she was SO pleased we found them. 

Hope if you're a homeschooler this gives you an idea with changing things up a bit, and also keeping things simple. I've seen lots of projects that seem very thorough, that you can buy, but for this age it just seems a waste of money to spend when they have limited attention spans, and this way I can cater it to their age and how much I think they will be able to do without losing interest. I want them to be excited about their work, and so keeping it simple and engaging is key for us.

Well, off to eat some lunch, it's been rather a long morning....

Stay well ~xoxo

Friday, February 5, 2016

{No fuss} Family Dinner ideas

It's Friday night, my favourite evening of the week. I love the feeling of taking a deep breath and knowing we have the weekend to exhale and recharge. (Not all weekends are time off, but most of the time we get to have a break for at least one of the days.)

I like to take Friday day to fix the house up, do a general "big" clean so that the weekend is relatively stress free. Anyone else of the personality type where you can't relax if you knew the sink was full, or the floors need swept/mopped? I drive my husband nuts at night when I can't sit down if there is something like that needing done. But it's worth the extra few minutes getting it done so I can fully chill out and watch a movie without feeling irritable.  I should do a post on my house cleaning methods. By no means am I implying my house is constantly clean, as i'm actually constantly behind on many things, but I do have a relatively well working schedule that keeps the house manageable and presentable. I'm learning every day, and am still looking for a laundry fix. Anyone with a blog post that tackles that brilliantly?

Ok, onto my Friday night post. I wanted to share how we keep our tradition of a family Friday night. We tend to have a relaxed school day as we do a 4 day week like many homeschoolers, but I sneak things in throughout the day that aren't "lessons" that they realize. So today we had a sock matching party where we included matching, counting, discussing how socks are made etc. We also went to the store to return a couple items and pick up diapers and wipes, so we discussed saving money and included them in adding the prices, and I explained about the coupon system. So little things like that become lessons along the way. 

I plan the meal that we are having early in the day so that if it's a slow cooker we start in the morning. Today we stuck with an old British classic Cottage Pie, and I wanted to make the dessert something the kids would have fun with, but also something Clyde and I could have for our at-home date night treat.  

Cottage Pie, if you don't know is much like Shepherd's Pie but it is made with beef, not lamb. I make my own recipe that has been the way my family back home made it, but I attached a very similar one here for you guys if you were interested in whipping one up yourself. {Please, excuse the already dug into pics, I forgot to snap one before we dished up the kiddo's portions!)

 Then for dessert, I didn't want to buy anything in special so I was trying to think of something I could make with ingredients I had at home, but as I was buzzing around Kroger I found some strawbs & kiwis on clearance (don't you love those little red stickers when you spot them on something you love! I always feel like I won. Haha!), they definitely looked like they would need to be used up that day and so I immediately knew what I was going to make for a date night treat. Fruit Pizza!

The kids love to help with this, so if you want a family activity too this is a great option. Throw together your favourite sugar cookie recipe (this is a great one, and you'll more than likely always have these ingredients on hand) and roll onto a greased tray and bake for 10-13mins, whip some cream cheese and powdered sugar together and use as you would use the tomato sauce on a pizza, and then add "toppings". Get creative if you have fun things in your fridge/cupboard! We have done individual pizzas before so they can decorate their own cookie.

Needless to say, they went down a treat!!!

My thoughts on family dinner is to aim to have at least one a week that is when everyone sits down together and chats. Most nights the children eat first and we eat after they go to bed so that we can have some quality time together, and eating together seems to be a good way to have that catch up time. I don't know about your children, but our dinner times tend to be loud, fast paced and with all the second servings, drink fillup moments, napkin grabbing and catching the baby's flying food we wouldn't have too much time to talk as adults, so that is why we like to wait. BUT, the children LOVE family dinner and so it's a time that I try to make happen. I don't put pressure on myself to make it like a TV family, we sometimes eat dessert off napkins (see above) and the children use their water beakers (these stay out all day on the counter so we don't have 196,870 cups to wash at the end of the day) to drink from to avoid unnecessary cups being dirtied and the volume is off the charts, but I love hearing what they have to talk about, and the things that make them snort with laughter. There is a lot of giggling. 

I always prefer to force myself and the husband to try and cook something as it's so much more satisfying than a take-out, even better is knowing you've saved $$! 

The kiddos make sure to have changed into jammie's before we eat, so all we have to do is brush teeth before bed, so after dinner we snuggle on the couch and watch a movie, or play a game (usually the game is chosen and then they spend the entire time wrestling their daddy and so the game doesn't get played) or their current favourite is to sing karaoke on their machine that Grammie and Papa bought them. So much fun! Even the littlest loves to sing. 

Well, that's my little tidbit of info into a fun family dinner night, keep it simple, keep it homemade and just enjoy each other. I think Friday is a fun day as you get to go into the weekend in good spirits, and it is deserved after a day of cleaning and prep for a couple days off. 

I wanted to share a couple of my fave moments this week:

{This little guy finished his science book and was SO proud. He is ahead in science and just loves
the subject. So we are moving on to 2nd grade now. THIS is why I love homeschool. 
He get's to learn ALL subjects, but excel in the ones he loves, all at his own pace.}

{These two. They have a special bond, it definitely seems like a "we are both naughty pickles"
 bond, but scrumptious all the same. The giggle and giggle together and I have no clue
 what about most of the time, but I love that a 6yr old will sit with his 1yr old 
brother and entertain him without being asked or bribed.}

I hope you all have at least a little bit of rest this weekend and get to enjoy some family time together. We have some organizing planned, we are sorting out old baby bits to sell/giveaway and catching up with laundry/setting out clothes that don't fit. I weirdly enjoy stuff like this though, so i'm looking forward to it.

Happy Weekend friends! 
~Stay well, xoxo

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Our Homeschool Room {and some curriculum}

Do I have any readers who homeschool?

I get asked quite often which curriculum we use, where we "homeschool" and how my day is spent, so I wanted to do a mini-series, for lack of a better word, where I approach these questions.

Today I'm going to introduce you to our homeschool room and a few of our main books that we use.

Firstly, my most important tip would be to STAY ORGANISED. It is easy to visit a bunch of sites that tackle homeschooling, and to get overwhelmed and think you need allthethings. You don't. My first year I made this mistake and went with a strict curriculum, with certain specific books picked out for me. I realized about a month or so into it that it was not the best path for us. 
We have five children, 3 that are doing school. (1 kinder, and 2 first grade) and all our children have different personalities and I found myself doing exactly what I feared would happen at school. Trying to have one mold and fit them all into it. Needless to say, this failed. But since I had spent money on it, we decided to adapt it to ourselves while still keeping the books we'd been given.  It was an expensive mistake, as the curriculum was not cheap, and we had created the homeschool room at the same time, so a lot of $$ went out that year.
We are now in year two of homeschool and things make a lot more sense this year. I made a trip to Barnes and Noble and had a much better experience picking out the curriculum myself according to how I wanted to teach. Keep in mind, each state is different and so your requirements might be different. We are in Ohio, and the rules for us are to report that we are homeschooling, get permission from the district and then show proof of work at the end of the year. 


Ok, I will take you on a tour of our school room and give you info along the way, this way i'm covering most of the important stuff for you... 

 I bought this caddy from Target for $3 and I keep all the basic every day supplies in it, and make sure they are full, sharp and working so we don't have the "my pencil is blunt" excuse over and over. Trust me, they will use it if you allow it!!!
I keep glue sticks, glue, coloured pencils, regular pencils with erasers, crayons and felt tip pens in it at all times. 

This is the spot for the extra supplies. We use an ikea cube storage, 4 spots left empty for books, and 4 spots have the drawer installations. In the caddys (also from Target) I keep just a bunch of markers, dry erase pens, pencils, crayons etc.  In the drawers are maths supplies, paints, crafting bits etc. and all are marked with a label so the children know where to find stuff.

This is the desk for computer work. We don't do a whole bunch of this yet. I'm thinking 2nd grade will be more work done using typing etc. I keep my "what a 1st grader needs to know" book on hand here too (the white and yellow book). This book is AWESOME if you want to be sure you are on task with their learning. We try to stay organised with where we are at and so our progress records are all on file so at the end of the year we know what we need to hand in.

You'll also notice our diffuser on the left. Yes, that cool looking thing has a great function! We rarely have a homeschool day where we are diffusing. We go between calming blends and focus blends, depending on the kind of day we are having. I'd LOVE to direct you in this if it's something you're interested in. We truly believe in the power of essential oils helping with our learning and our frame of mind. They are very much a part of our homeschool room. If you'd like info on the ones we use specifically feel free to contact me! (shop for oils here)

We like to do visual pieces to decorate our school room with, and the children love having something they can show people who visit.  Don't forget the little fun projects you can create when things get a little monotonous during the day. 

Having a clock on the wall is great as a teaching aid. You can assign a different person each day to be time keeper and who let's the teacher know when it's time for break, or a different activity. 

We use this map a bunch, and are going to start a project here soon using it to mark off the places we have visited or want to visit, using different stickers. Visual aids are important! We also have a world map on the other side, which can be written on with dry erase markers. That one has been a great teaching tool. The dry erase board is fantastic when you are teaching the group. Many a diagram has been drawn on here! (hanging in the corner are our paint overalls)

 These are some books we have collected along our homeschool journey. We love using reference books, and even though we use the internet for youtube videos (there are a bunch of great teaching tools on there), I prefer using books as each child can take one and use it without needing my help. 

These are some of their reading books that we are doing book reviews on. I read these aloud and then we discuss social issues, or their thoughts on the content. I will detail a book review one day for you, as they enjoy those projects. We tend to read a bunch of classics, and also use audio books (detailed in an older post) to get them familiar with stories and story format. The more you read or they are exposed to literature, the better! (I also feel the same about music. We often have classical music playing during school to encourage concentration and also questions about the music itself!)

This is a pretty good tool for history that helps give them an idea of where in time things happen. They cut out a picture, colour it and stick it in their timeline as we study each thing. We got this with the curriculum we bought the first year, and this is one thing we kept as I liked it alot. (the curriculum was sonlight. If you are big on routine and a TON of reading and busy work, then it is a great curriculum, we just prefer a more laid back, learn as we go style. I like incorporating a bunch of lessons into something that interests them. (A form of "unschooling" I suppose.)

This is a pretty great series for learning to read and write. We kept this from the sonlight curriculum.

These are our main books (other than history, art, music etc) that we use every day. We have completed the science, and almost the geography and will move onto 2nd grade next. The Harcourt Family complete curriculum has been great for us. It's thorough, engaging and challenging. We haven't touched the test prep section as it's not something i'm keen to do until they are confident.

Well that's it for now, I need to get back to my daughter's homeschool, I will go into more detail about how I approach the arts and history next time. 

If you have any questions about how/why we homeschool i'd be happy to answer, so either comment below or send a message using the tool in the sidebar.

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Stay Well ~xoxo

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