Homeschooling

Meet Cindy

The other day while we were out at the store, I came across one of those buildable body models with squishy organs. I always thought that we should get one, and Pup was so interested. She was just looking at it and holding it and begged for it. So I bought it for her (Bunny thought it was gross). When we got home, she wanted to open it up so badly that she almost didn’t want to watch tv! The next morning she was ready to build it again at 6 in the morning! She informed me later that the body’s name was Cindy! And so Cindy has become a new member of our classroom! She is inspiring a whole new study in the human body! Pup is wanting to read books, make pictures, and all other sorts of work! She even knew exactly which Magic School Bus episode she wanted to see! With all of this enthusiasm, I see Pup starting a pretty deep study on the body. She seems to work really well when she is immersing herself in a certain topic (do you remember the cheetah project). So I now I need to make a few materials and to find a pile of books! Here are some pictures of Pup and Cindy, plus an art project that she really wanted to do with her body!

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I love it when the girls find something that they are really passionate about! When this inspires more learning, I get really excited. I mean seriously, this is what learning is all about. It is about finding out about the things that interest us and really finding joy in the discovery! So this is what I was waiting for from this year. Finding something amazing to learn about. Pup is excited and I am happy to help her learn whatever she wants to! What do you do when your kiddo finds something that they just have to know about? How do you inspire learning?

Princess Theme School

So…if you have popped by here lately, you may have noticed a million changed happening all day! 🙂 I am still trying to figure this web design thing out and once I do it will be great! However, we are not there yet! So please bear with me! I am trying to keep all the basics in place to make this easy. But if you have something that you would like me to include, please let me know! Since you are the visiting and navigating, you should have a say!

Now on to more fun things! my little sister is three and this year my mom is starting some theme work for her each month! So I of course thought that I could help out! You  who have been following along with me for a while knows that I love to make Montessori inspired themed trays of work! So I brought out a theme set we did a couple of years ago and I added some fun elements to it! So I thought I would share the tray with you in case you have a little girl who would love some of this fun too! I was able to use some printables and create some work that still holds true to the Montessori principles. The Printable kit is free from 1+1+1=1!  Here is what we have on the shelf!

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Princess Play dough
(Purple and sparkly with these cookies cutters I had)!

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Cards and Counters

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Reading and Matching

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Color by number

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Pouring in a Goblet

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Princess and Not Princess Sorting

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Princess Three part Cards
(These are more reading practice then educational. We used them for memory match too)

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Finish the Pattern

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Scrubbing Glass Slipper

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Spooning Fairy Dust

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Transferring Crowns
(These were vintage glass decorations that were my grandma’s. Aren’t they fun?)

So this is how I was able to combine some Montessori fun with the convenience of a printable. With printing things out and making them a tray work to be chosen when the child want, you are able to preserve the essence of the Montessori work. There are a lot of other ideas on my Princess Theme School Pintrest Board. So do any of you use printables in your homeschool? Do you use them with Montessori work? I would love to hear how you work with your preschoolers! Happy Schooling!

First Day of School 2013

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 What do you think of our school pics this year? I took them with my mom last week! The kids had a ton of fun! Today though, we have officially started school here. However, we are easing into it! No real long work or big new things! We are starting with basics. So today Pup and I reviewed some sandpaper letters, writing, and her numbers. Bunny started her math book (simple addition) and we also read the beginning of her history book. Plus we started her notebook for her First Communion preparation! Nothing earth shattering, but enough to get things moving! I think that it will be a good year. Here are the first day pics!

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As you can see it went pretty well! We even used the chalk board a couple of times! So my question for all of you is….when do you start school? Have you made the big leap yet, or are you going to wait until after Labor Day (which was my plan originally)? And I am linking up at Montessori Monday! Be sure to join me there!

My Montessori Mess!

Well, I spent the day working on organizing the school room for starting our learning again! I am making a chalk board for our space, and I am figuring out how to make things flow! Want to see my results? Well here is what I have:

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Not what you thought you’d see is it? 🙂 What a mess. I emptied all the shelves and started to rearrange everything! My goal was to make things flow better and have cleaned space. I felt like there was stacks of stuff on the shelves that were not easy to get to. Plus, I didn’t need the table top chalkboard since I was making one for the wall. That freed up some space and it made me able to use it differently. I love using the Montessori materials as decoration,  but I felt like things were too cluttered. So we are changing that too. Plus, I am trying to make the art shelf stocked and ready! So….you will have to wait to see it all when its not a huge mess! I hope it will be in the next day or two! On a side note, I do know that not only is my school room a mess, so it my blog! I am working on that too! So now, it is time for me to stop talking (typing) and get to work! Happy School Planning!

Back to School Shopping Guild!

So one thing that everyone asks me a lot is where do I get my materials for school. Since it is that time of year, I thought I would put together my list of shopping places that I really like to use! These are my tried and true places to go for great learning materials. Some are Montessori specific, some are just really great at what they do! Bear in mind some of these places are affiliate accounts I hold, so if you stop by using my link and order, I get a wee bit of a kick back! But here we go!

1) Montessori Services: This is my first go to place for all those little bits of Montessori fun. They have the best prices on nice plastic trays (a must for water work and scrubbing) they have the best practical life material I have ever seen! Plus they have some elementary materials and LOTS of great science work!

2) Kid Advance: This where I buy ALL of my Montessori Materials. The quality is pretty good. It wouldn’t last through gernerations of kids, but it works just fine for the few kids that use it here! Plus, if you have an order over $200 you get 10% off! Another thing about them is they have been good with some of the little issues I have had with some of my orders. They always make it right!

3) Kiwi Crate: Love this company. If you are feeling like you need a little art mixed with learning this is just for you! Each month a box full of learning and art comes right to your door. It has everything you need for each of 3-4 projects, plus some little extras! One thing I love about these boxes is that you could easily use this as a Montessori art tray,  since all the directions are in words and in pictures for the non readers! These boxes are just way too much fun and really great way to add art with out too much work!

4) Rainbow Resources: This is the ULTIMATE homeschooling website! They have just about everything you need to make the perfect curriculum! I ordered a lot of stuff from them this year since we are starting to need some more books! I bought research resources and I bought actual curriculum. This place is awesome and HUGE! Plus orders over $50 ship free!

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5) Amazon.com: This is my go to to find reviews and sometimes less expensive prices on….well everything! What I love about amazon is that there are a lot of reviews and sometime hearing what other have to say can help make a decision! Plus, I have prime shipping so I can get things in 2 days when I am in a pinch! 😉

Montessori at Home

6) Montessori at Home! This is the best place to start with preschool work in my opinon! It is simple, it is straight forward, and it has a ton of pictures (I need pictures)! Plus there is a whole printable bundle that you can buy to go with it!

So there you have it! These are some of my main picks for places to shop and look for great homeschooling products! The thing about homeschooling is that everyone is different and everyone is looking for different things. So what are your favorite places to shop before school time? What are looking to get for your classroom this year?

 

Friday Five~ Montessori Language

Well I am excited to tell you that Lori over at Montessori Moments is starting a new link up called Friday Five! Each Friday, she is sharing her favorite things from a section of the Montessori classroom! Today she shared her five favorite things in the Language area! Here are mine:

1. Sandpaper Letters: I love these, the kids love these, and they are an amazing way for kids to learn the letter sounds simply! Pup has learned her letter sounds so quickly with these and I have had other kiddos over to my house and they have learned too! Who knew learning to read, write, and spell could be as simple as sand covered letters? I use the D’neialian script since its a bit like cursive and print at the same time!

2. Metal Insets: We LOVE these here! When I first started doing Montessori work, I was confused about why these were considered a language materials. When I found out it was about learning to use and control a pencil, I could instantly see it working! Both of my girls used these a lot! In fact we used them to make pictures. Snowmen, houses, even people have been made using the insets!

3.Grammar Farm: Grammar farm is actually not something we have used as much as I thought we would but we still love it! 🙂 Honestly, you don’t need to have use a farm, any play scape set up would work just as well. Use a doll house, a construction scene, or a train set. The make some tags with words for each part of a sentence (Noun, Adjective, Verb, etc). The child sets up the piece and uses the work tags to build sentence about the objects. Its fun and game like! A perfect way to play with sentence parts! Bunny didn’t get to use it too much because she was still trying to read! But I think this year she will still have fun with it!

4. Grammar Symbols: I love these for teaching grammar! There is a bit of a story behind each one and this really allows the child to “see” each part of the sentence when they see the symbol. Bunny loves them totally and always wants to know more about them. I think that one of the things she loves to do is to put the right symbol over the words in a sentence and use all the colors!

5. Object Boxes: I love these because there are about a million fun ways to use them! The set above is from Montessori Services and it really does have about everything! I am thinking about buying this for Pup this year because we are missing a lot of sounds and this has them all! You can make sound boxes with these, opposites, rhyming, eye spy, and well a bunch of other games! There is a lot learning packed into these little bits!

So those are my picks! Want to play along? Well pop on over to Montessori Moments for a fun linky party! Stop and see what others are saying are the best Montessori language materials!

School Plan for Next Year (as of now)!

 

Well I have been pretty MIA! But I will tell you why. Today I think I finally have a working plan for our school year, at least for now! I am sure that things will change as we go and as I break it down into a plan, but honestly you have to start somewhere. So I thought that I would share some of our plan (so that if you have a better idea, I have time to work it out)!
We have a ton of changes coming to our homeschool and I think that the biggest one is that Bunny is going to be moving away a bit from a Montessori. Now pick jaw up off the floor! We are still doing some, but we are going to be using some text books this year. Why you ask….well after trying to do the elementary work for the Montessori method last year with Bunny, I realized that it just didn’t work well for her. She likes to have structure and having such a big field of study was just too much for her. I felt like the beginning of the year was very scattered, but once I started picking a topic and working through it, Bunny was happier and leanred more. The other things that I noticed was that Bunny was done with a lot of the materials. I was trying to get her to work through the math serquence with materials, but once I let go of them and just let her do some worksheets, she excelled. So as a true Montessorian, I realized that following the needs of the child was more important then following what I thought I had to do. Another major factor for me in this change is the fact that I cant keep trying to make all of the materials. I feel like each subject has so many parts that I need to make and keep track of, there is no time for me to do some other things with the girls. We didn’t get to do a lot of art or music or other studies that are fun. I felt like all of my energy was being funneled into making work for simple subjects. Math and Language are pretty well researched and there is a lot out there. I feel like I am wasting so much time making things that others have perfected. Why reinvent the wheel? So this has led us to look into other ideas of learning this year. So what exactly is Bunny going to do this year? Let me show you!

MATH: BUNNY: No doubt about it, the Montessori math work is the best! However, Bunny loves her worksheets for practice. So this year I am going to buy Modern Curriculum Press for math. I have looked through a lot of books and I think that this is really just worksheets in a book all organized by the different parts of math. Since Bunny is really good at this and a little further ahead of the average greade, I am getting her the Third Grade book. My goal is to use this book with the Montessori math materials. When we are learning a new concept of she is stuck, there is still shelves of math work to use! 🙂
PUP: Is going to start really working on the traditional Montessori math sequence. We will be starting golden bead and bead boards with her. I think that she is going to have fun!

GRAMMAR AND WORK STUDY: BUNNY: I looked long and hard for a great grammar program, but came up without anything really good for us. First Language Lessons is a good program (best I looked at), but it was just not going to be a good fit here. So I am going to be using my Montessori albums in a modified way. I hesitation with using the Montessori method for this is the grammar boxes. Bunny doesn’t like to use work cards for anything and the thought of maing all those materials was really daughting. She does however LOVE LOVE LOVE the grammar symbols and building things.  So I will be writing words on the board as we talk about each part being the building blocks of a great sentnence! Writing it out on the board will work much the same as word cards, but more directed and less independent. However, I think that this will meet the need here. Plus I will use some of this as Bunny’s copy work to help with handwriting. Plus she will be reading something everyday!
PUP: is going to be starting some moveable alphabet work and some object boxes. She wants to read SO badly. I am also hoping that she can sit in on some of Bunny’s lessons and pick up on the grammar things as we go!

SPELLING: We were working on All About Spelling Level 1 and we will be continuing on with that! Plus it does start to cover some word study, so that will be helpful there too!
PUP: well she isn’t working on spelling exactly. But we will be working on sounds and making words!

WRITING: Will be covered it all the other things we do. Writing about geography or history or just writing a story! She can pick that each day!
PUP: is still trying to write words. I am going to really be working with her on the moveable alphabet, but she loves to write the letters so it may just be done on paper instead of with the letters! 🙂 All that tracing have paid off for her!

SCIENCE: BUNNY: This year science will be rather laid back. We have done ALOT of science in the past couple of years and I think that we need to work on history and geography a bit more. However, that being said, Bunny wants to do nothing but science! 🙂 And more then anything she wants to build a robot! So I found an awesome robotics science program that I think will really get her excited! It called OLLO and it is for younger kids. I am planning on getting the starter set that has a 12 week program to go with it. My hope is that it will help her better understand how things move and what it takes to get them to move!
PUP: Well she is probably going to be getting a random bit of science as she finds something that interest her. She is wanting to learn about her body and about animals. So we may start there!

HISTORY: I love the Great Lessons and while I think it is really important to study all of history and have NO idea where to start and how ti do it without a good base. Enter Story of the World! If you have not seen this history program, you should look at it! It is amazing! It starts in prehistoric history and slowly goes all the way to modern time over about 5 books. These books are told from a story perspective and offer just enough information to be interesting and get a kid interested in a time period, but not so much that there is no more to learn! I am going to do book one this year and I have ordered the guild so I have all the maps, charts with early writing, book lists, and coloring pages that go with each chapter! I know that Bunny is going to LOVE this and even if we just read it as a story she will learn at TON!
PUP: will be doing this with us I am sure! Whether or not she remembers it is just fine! I think she will love to listen to the story and color some coloring pages!

GEOGRAPHY: Our homeschool group had decided to take a trip around the world this year and each month we will pick a continent to study together for the day. I thought that this meant we could do a deep study each month! So we will have a monthly contient that we will be studying! This is one area where I think my Artful Homeschooling will really come into play! Each week we will be picking an activity to do for that contient. So one week we will make a map, another week we will cook a food, another week we will find some landmarks, and the last week they get to pick something that they think looks interesting! It is going to be an overview, but enough that if they find something deeper they want to study they can! 🙂
PUP: will be doing the same thing here! I was thinking that she could learn about an animal from each continent and make sort of a zoo! Maybe sculpt each animal and create the habitat for the animals!

ART: For art we are going to be working that into our other studies. However, I did buy Artful Parent, and ArtLab for preschoolers incase we lacked inspiration! 🙂 That will be for both girls!

Curriculum Week in the 2013 Not Back to School Blog Hop

So that is our plan for the new year! I have linked this post up with the Not Back to Homeschool Blog Hop! Now I just need to order the books, organize the school room, and write up plans by week. I am also hoping to get back into some regular blogging! I feel like things have been rather busy with little summer things that haven’t been recorded because I really just haven’t had my camera on me! We are relaxing and having ….well summer! But school is coming and I think that it will be a good year! What are your school plans for the year? Do you have a brilliant resource to share? Are you doing something new? What about extras in your school work?  I would love to hear your ideas! Plus if you are stopping by from the NOT Back to Homeschool Hop, WLECOME! So glad to have you! Happy Schooling!

 

Artful Homeschooling

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We have been having lots of fun with art the past few days. I really love all the creativity and the happiness I see on the girls faces. This has really factored into my schooling planning for the year. In the book, the Artful Parent, she talks about how she makes art a part of her home life with her kids. She calls it artful parenting. I am thinking that we are not only going to do that,  but take it a step further and become Artful Homeschoolers! Art is important to me girls and I love it too. I read about the Project Based Homeschooling and I loved the idea of it. However, that is based on what the child chooses to study. While I love doing that, I have the issue that my girls are going to need to do certain things in their school work, even if they don’t want to. So instead of waiting for them to choose something to work on and dig in, I am going to make the art a part of the school plan for the lessons that I am going to give. If we are learning about Africa, then they can create a map or an animal that they are learning about. If we are learning about Space, then they can create planets  and solar systems. The possibilities are endless and they can even create with their math and language work. Make puppets to go with their story or make fractions out of clay. You see the more I think about this, the more I realized that they need to create to learn thing on a deeper level. They cant just read about it or hear me talk about it.  They need to discover it on their own. As Maria Montessori said, “Education is a natural process carried out by the human individual, and is acquired not by listening to words, but by experiences in the environment”. Their work is so important. The work of their hands is really what is going to help them learn. I can see Bunny and Pup both moving away from a lot of materials. It makes me sad, but at the same time I am proud that they are mastering so much. However, their need to work with their hands hasn’t gone away! So I see some of their work this year becoming more artful. As they make things they will need to know the information to do it well. So our Montessori journey has led us to be artful homeschoolers! My goal for their education is that it inspire them to want to know more about the world around them! I want them to dig really deep into the things that mean a lot to them and to know how to find the information. So I think that our path is changing and I am excited to see where its going!

Do you see a new path for your school plan this year? What new ideas are you thinking about?

School Work Storage

Do you have a million papers and art creations all over the place? I did. I felt like it was overwhelming as the school year ended. There were stories, drawings, math problems, art creations, and a bit of everything else! So what do you do with all of this wonderfulness? We can save it, but what will they do with it later in life? Pitch it? Probably. So I decided that I would scrapbook it. I started by taking pictures of each piece of work (yes this took a while). I used a light box that I made using this tutorial. This allowed me to get good, clean pictures of their work without any shadows. Then I scrapbooked the pictures using my digital scrapbook program. I added some pictures of the girls working and some of the other fun things we did that I didn’t have papers for. My hope is that this will become a fun way to look back over what we have done this year! I made sure I wrote out some of the details of what we learned for each subject so we can remember (I didn’t include any of those pages for you to see though, since they have the girls names all over them)!  I think that they turned out pretty well. Here are a few of pages I made for the girls:

Here are some pages from Pup’s book:

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Lily's School Work - Page 017

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There are some from Bunny’s Book:

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Carly's Work - Page 013

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This project took me weeks to finish, but I think that it is worth it. Not only was I able to save their work digitally. It also made me realize that we did a lot more work then I thought! It was so cool to put them together and see how the girls grew, changed, and learned over the year. It really was a blessing and helped me recover a bit from the burnout I was feeling. To see the great learning and the fun we had made me ready to start thinking about how to work next year too! Plus clearing things up is always a great way to feel accomplished! 🙂 So here is my question for all of you:
How do you save, preserve, and keep all those memories? Do you save them all or do you toss things out? Do you have a portfolio or just a box? I would love to hear what you do! Happy Summer!

PS. Yes I did throw out most of their work after it was photographed. They did each save a folder full of their favorites!

Bunny’s Watepark

Yesterday Bunny had an idea to use hula hoops to create a tunnel over the slide to make it like a waterpark. I am not sure exactly where this idea came from, but she was working so hard on it! She tried to prop the three hula hoops up with each other, she tied them to the top and then together, and she tried using Pup as a prop! 😉  Unfortunately she really couldn’t quite figure it all out. It was Daddy to the rescue! She explained her idea and together they brain stormed an idea that was easier (ok…safer maybe)! The result made Bunny so happy she was glowing! She LOVED it! It was just what she was thinking (she didn’t know the slide would lift up and she really needed more rope). It only too a few seconds for her to beg for the sprinkler to be set up so she could try it. I of course said yes! After being told we were the best parents in the world, the water park was open for business! Bunny and Pup had the best time playing! I think that all the work Bunny put into it made it all the more exciting! Something that she thought up in her head, she was playing on!

Here is her First Design:

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So there you have some of Bunny’s summer engineering fun! She loved to build things into bigger, better things! I love that our outdoor environment allows her to find the things she needs to start making things on her own (this brain child happened while I was cleaning up dinner)! As Bunny gets older and we move away from the traditional Montessori work, I can still see how making sure that we keep with those Montessori essentials is so important! Having an environment that has materials available is something that has made our world what it is!

  I have also been noticing that Bunny has been paying a lot of attention to how things work. I think she may really love to take something apart, like a radio or vacuum or something like that! Right now…we are going to keep slipping and sliding.! That is until there is a hole in the yard or someone gets a bruised hinny! Happy Summer!

Now I know that this isn’t all traditional Montessori work, but it is summer! So if you are looking for some more amazing Montessori fun, be sure to stop by Montessori Monday! We are there! We are also hopping over to Link & Learn! Stop there for some summer fun ideas!

bon@mailxu.com romulus-ellen@mailxu.com