Homeschooling

Earth Day Celebration

Well spring cleaning has been going well but it has taken alot out of me! That means there really hasn’t been to much to share with you! But the other day our homeschool group got together to celebrate Earth Day! It was a perfect way to have some fun in the middle of a busy week! After a wee bit of decorating (it is me after all), we started out celebration off with a fun craft. Each child got a piece of natural earth clay and they rolled it into an earth. The they added some blue dyed stones. Add a shake of glitter and a stick, and now you have beautiful, natural garden markers! The kids had a lot of fun with it! Plus they turned out so pretty!

After that we read a fun vintage book called Junk Day on Juniper Street. In the story everyone decides that they need to get rid of some junk. After everyone clears out their houses, they needed to wait a day for the truck. As they waited, they started to find that their neighbors junk was just what THEY needed! In the end, there was no junk! We talked about how reusing thing is better then just throwing then away! Next we read the creation story right from the bible. After ward we talked about what Earth Day means and what we should do to protect they Earth and why we need to do those things.



Finally it was time to eat! We had a tea with all the food representing one part of the creation story! The kids thought it was so much fun and yummy! 😉 Do you want to see what food we had? Here they are:

God separated the light from the darkness.
Our food for this was eclairs, half dark, half light!

Next her separate the water from the sky.
Our food was jello with whipped cream clouds!

After that, God separated the seas from the dry land.
So we had dirt cake!

Then God created vegetation.
Obviously we ate some veggies.

Then God created the sun for day and the moon and stars for night.
This is our sun made from fruit with the darkness of space made from blueberries.

Next, God created the fish of the sea and the birds of the air.
We ate some Goldfish crackers for the fish and chicken salad for the birds (yes a bit disturbing, but we needed something for a main dish)!

Then, God created the animals.
Animal crackers are our food for this!

Finally God made humans.
We cut out bread in the shape of gingerbread men.
 
After all of this fun and celebrating our beautiful world,  the kids got time to just play and have fun together! Of course after a while it got pretty rowdy! So we put the Lorox on which seemed like the perfect way to end our day! While the kids had some movie time, we moms sat down to plan out the next year of plans! It worked out really well! I hope you all had a chance to remember the gift that the earth is to each of us! Happy {late} Earth Day!


School Days

Our week this week was another good one! Pup is always so happy when I tell her that it is a school day and Bunny is moving along with her work really well. She may even not hate school anymore! I think that having the structured excitement of the Botany has helped make this better. She is starting to read pretty well and can get through a level one reader without tears! Hooray! We also had an interested experience in math this week with her. I was having her do some bead frame work with Large Bead frame. This meant that she was adding 5 digit numbers together. She did one problem 3 times and couldnt get it right. I am still not sure what went wrong because she understands how to move the beads and do exchanged and everything. After a half hour of tears, and a note telling me she was mad, angry, and sad I finally suggested that she just try one problem without the beads. What do you know, she got it totally right! She then did four more all of them right! I guess she just didnt need the beads to work the addition. What I am noticing with Bunny is that she abstracts really well. We do a presentation and she may work with the materials once or twice, but she really would rather do it without if she can. I think that I need to trust her ability to know when materials are needed and when they are not. For example, she didnt need the bead frame, but the other day she had the golden beads out for division! Another thing Bunny is doing is researching horses! She labeled her tracings and everything!

 



Pup is just busting ahead with her letters and tracing. She wants to practice her letters everyday so she can learn to read. We now officially have all the the sandpaper letters out. She knows almost all of them. There are a few that we are still working on, but she is proud. We are also using the moveable alphabet. Right now we are just hearing the sounds of a cvc word and finding the letters. She not quite there yet, but she loves to try! Pup is also still tracing everything she can! I ran out of tracing paper early in the week and she was pretty upset that we didnt go out to the store right away! 🙂 I think we have gone through more  then fifty sheets of the stuff in the past couple of weeks! She has also been working with some sensorial work!

 
 
 
 

That is our week! We also did a ton of great botany work, but that is another post! I hope you all had a wonderful school week too! Happy Schooling Everyone!

 
 


School Days

Today I had grand plans to play hookie from school and just get the house cleaned! 🙂 However, the girls had other plans! They begged to do school first! WHAT???? I wasnt sure who these kids were! 😉 So off to school we went! They worked really hard. Pup worked on the tracing project that she has worked on all week. She decided early this week to trace an entire Strawberry Shortcake book. She has been working on it for hours this week and she even wrote a story to go with it! I was really proud of all the hard work she did on this. She told me that she was SO glad that she she finished it today and that she was SO PROUD of herself! 🙂 Bunny was really busy this week! She did a ton of work with fractions, she did some money math, writing, and READING! Bunny has been reading alot more lately. She is still working on doing fluently, but she has taken to trying to read signs, longer books, and things I am writing! I am really proud of her! But I know you want to see some pictures, so here they are!

 

 

 
I didnt take as many picture this week because I was making materials while they worked! They have been working so hard this week despite having half a week of work! I am looking forward to more fun next week!
 


Botany~ Leaf Week

This has been a rather interesting week full of fun and friends, but not as much work. However, we did get some fun botany in this week (along with some other things)! We were talking about the parts of a leaf, what a leaf does for the plant, and about a few of the different types of leaves. We didnt get everything in that I wanted to, but we did do some of it! Bunny told me that she thinks she is learning to love school work again, so we must have done something right! 😉 Here is some of the things we did in Botany.

We explored the parts of a leaf by using a real plant! Since spring had decided to hide again and there is not much growing, I was very thankful for the plants that I did have in my house! It turned out perfect for looking at the parts of a leaf!

Pup and I did the parts of the leaf with the Montessori Botany Puzzle and with the traditional 3 part cards. She was mildly interested, but had other work that she needed to get back to.

Bunny and I went deeper. She found the parts on the plant. We then talked about how the plant makes its own food. I used a combination of presentations. I like how my albums talked about it simply with the chart. However, the Waseca Biome Study really described the way the molecules work together and how the leaf puts out oxygen. The Waseca Study explains how to demonstrate this using a group of kids, I used buttons instead. When I explained it that way, Bunny had an Aha moment! We used the buttons on a leaf and moved them around showing how the leaf takes in carbon dioxide and water. Then we see how the sunlight breaks the water molecule apart and and the hydrogen molecules hook up to the carbon dioxide! Then it is easy to see how the oxygen is free to go out into the air. The Botany chart I made illustrated that and Bunny loved it!

 
We also talked about the stomata that allow the gases to come in and out of the leaf. We were not able to see them on out plants without a microscope. However, we did an experiment where we put some fresh leaves in water and left it in the sun for a couple of hours. The time allowed the oxygen in the leaves to come out and form bubbles on and around the leaves! Bunny was amazed! I had forgotten about it and Bunny ran it to me and was SO excited to show me the bubbles!

 
Finally, we also finished up some of our other experiments from last week. Our seed experiment about the needs of plants work out pretty well (i may have accidentally let then dry out over the weekend). We did see that they all sprouted except the one with no water. Then we noticed that only the one with everything started to grow a little bit. It had the small leaves starting.
 
 
 
 

 

Here is Bunny’s report on the experiment!
 
We also measured the seedlings again! They are exploding! I really dont know what I am going to do with them! I am defiantly going to need to transplant them. Unfortunately it will at least be a few more weeks before I can plant them outside. By then I will have zucchini all over the house! We will see what happens! They grew about an inch in a week!

 
Another thing that Bunny is doing alot of is copy work! I have taken the three part cards  from Karen Tyler’s Course and photo copied then next to line paper. I then wrote out definitions for each part of the leaf, plant, flower, root, and stem. Bunny then takes blank one and copies the words and colors the picture. Pretty simple, but she is really loving it! It is a really great way for her to start practicing her handwriting and getting those letter going the right way!
Here is Bunny’s

Here is Mine. She did a pretty good job didnt she!

Hers above, mine below!

 
She has done a couple of the parts of a leaf. I included the ones she hasnt done yet too so you can see the definitions in case you want them!

 
So there you have our Botany for the week! I didnt get time to go into different shapes of leaves yet, but we will soon. Plus I wanted to take a leaf walk, but the rain and cold has made it really hard to get out. Maybe tomorrow! I hope you have had a good school week too! If you have a favorite botany idea, share it in the comments! Happy Schooling everyone!
 


Avoiding Spring Burnout!

 

Spring is here and the warm weather is just begging for days outside! But then you remember that there is school work to be done, and summer….well its a far way off still! *Sigh*.  The long dreary winter is heading out and frankly, you are ready for school to go with it and so are the kids. Work is starting to get old and boring to everyone. Text Books, which were like treasure chests in the fall are now like jail cells. All of the beautifully organized materials are used, old, and cluttered. The bright happy school room, is dark and confining and everyone is trying to escape given the right opportunity!  Ok…I may be getting a little overly dramatic here, but that feeling is real. That feeling is often the beginning signs of burnout. Burnout is a word that is feared among homeschooling mamas all over the world. Burnout means you lost your edge, that learning is no longer fun, and that you may need to give up or go under! To me, early spring is right when most mamas are feeling that burnout starting to happen and summer break cannot get her soon enough. My goal is today is to share a few ideas that can help stop (or at least slow down) the burnout feeling that threatens your whole amazing year! Here are a few thoughts that have helped me  and some that other moms have mentioned that were helpful too!

1. Find a new learning path:  These are sometimes referred to as Bunny Trails, side paths of learning that are not in the curriculum, but that have great discoveries along them. For example, we are jumping head long into Botany. I had not planned on doing that this year, but everything came together for it and the girls were excited about it! So we are going to embrace it right now! Maybe your new Bunny Trail will take your outside and into the fresh air where you want to be anyway! The nice things about Bunny Trails is that sometimes they are long, sometimes they are short, but they are always exciting. Plus they will still allow you to hit some of the important goals on the curriculum plan at the same time!

2. Change the Scene: Try taking your school work somewhere new! Drag a table outside to the back yard, head out to the park, go to the library, even school at the zoo! Sometimes you may get less done, but you may find out that it is more relaxing and a bit more fun! Who knows, maybe you find a place where everyone works the best!

3. Take the Pressure Off: Another tip that I think is super important is to take a real look at what you have done this year and what you needed to get done. What are really required by law to make sure your kiddo learns? Just because you only got through 2/3 of the lessons you wanted, chances are you have probably met or even exceeded what they have to know to pass. That doesnt mean you need to stop schooling, it just means that you can relax a little bit! By taking pressure off of yourself to get EVERYTHING done, you will unconsciously take pressure off your kids too! That will allow you a chance to have more fun while you learn because you wont be worrying about the to do list! 🙂

4. Have an Adventure: Take a field trip! There is a reason why all the schools start taking field trips in the spring! It can spark some fun, some real learning, and may even start you down a Bunny Trail! Plus scheduling some a few field trip into your month gives everyone something fun and exciting to look forward to! Work and school time doesnt seem quite so bad when there is a field trip to look forward to in the future!

5. Get Rid of Screen Time: Ok….now I am not talking about giving up all your screen time, but I am saying, take a close look at what your a reading. Pintrest, social media, blogs, etc are full of amazing ideas, but sometimes these amazing ideas can make you feel like you just dont have your stuff together! So a good way to look at it is, if you read a blog or search for things on pintrest and it leaves you feeling overwhelmed and stressed, then stop! If you leave feeling inspired and uplifted, then read on sister! Honestly, every blogger out there probably feels just like you most days, like things are out of control and overwhelming. The Internet is filled with a million and ten amazing ideas for learning and having fun, however there are probably a million and nine that are not right for you. So pick what works and what feels like it will work for your family, and throw out what doenst!

6. Talk it out: And sometimes talking with a really good mommy friend is the best way to help get your mojo back! There are days when I dont know what I would do with a good chat with my mom or my best friend! Sometimes just talking about the stressful things that are driving you to burnout and hearing that you are not failing, is all you need to kick it back into gear!

Those are my tips to help you keep going and loving what you do! Some of these ideas are ones I have used, some were shared by my mom (who has been homeschooling for more then 20 years) and some were ideas from other friends! That is what a good community is all about, sharing ideas and helping each other through the tough moments! So that being said, be sure to add your ideas for avoiding burnout in the comments! I would love to hear them, and I know the other who stop here too! I am linking up to Montessori Monday and Hip Homeschool Hop and The Super Linky Party so stop by there for more great learning ideas!

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School Days

Well this is the end of a pretty descent week! The girls were busy with all sorts of things! I thought that I would share some of their work with you all in one post! Here is what they have been learning!

Bunny and Pup started school the other day by measuring with markers! Pup had a great time hooking them together and measuring all sorts of things. Bunny then got involved too! It was a fun spontaneous learning moment!

Pup is also just starting to work with some of the moveable alphabet pieces. She isnt quite ready since she still has a hard time isolating the middle sound of a word, but she thinks its awesome to move the pieces around. She loves to pick out the sounds! She told me the other day that she needs to keep practicing letters so she can read soon!

The Easter Bunny brought some new playdough! So I set up a new tray. It amazes me how much Pup will roll, cut, and shape playdough!

Bunny pulled out her Golden Beads to do some division! I was really surprised that she chose to do it!
 
I also tried to do a chalk board version of the Hierarchical Material. I’m not sure that she quite got it and I dont think that this was the best way to do it. She seemed to get it, but I think it could have gone better. However, I cant afford the large material. Does anyone have an idea of how to do this?

She was so happy that she got the first problem right! 🙂

After she did one, she invited Pup to come sit with her. She asked Pup to name the numbers on the board! 😉 It was too cute!

I showed Pup a new work! She was interested for a little bit!

Pup almost has all the letter sounds learned! She is so proud of herself!

 
As you can see, Pup has really been busy and so has Bunny! I really hope that next week is just as good! Now I do have a bit of business stuff to talk to you about! You may have noticed that I have a few new links on the right hand side of my blog! These are my new affiliate accounts! What that means is that if you click on the button, and make a purchase from one of these suppliers, I will get a bit of sale! So here I am (shamelessly) begging you to think about making a purchase from Montessori at Home, Montessori Services, or from Kiwi Crate, then please stop here to access the site! I hope you all have a great weekend! I should have another awesome birthday party for you all to see this weekend, so stop on back! Plus there are some awesome giveaways coming up in the couple of weeks! Happy Weekend!
 


School Days

I realized that I havent updated much on what we have been doing in our school work lately! I think that we really havent been up to much. We basically are just moving forward in the work we have been doing! Bunny has worked really hard with fractions more then anything. She is also reading everyday and working on her project. We were able to sketch out a pattern plan for her skirt and it allowed some real life math practice. Pup has been really interested in coloring and writing letters in “words”. She is still not able to isolate the sounds in words to write them out, but we are starting to put the sounds she knows into words and she thinks this is exciting! Another new thing for her this week is the moveable alphabet! She knows almost all the alphabet sounds and I thought it was time to pull it out. She LOVED it! So we will start working with that! Pup is also coloring and creating things endlessly with all the craft supplies. But enough talk. Here is what we did this week!

 

 

 

Pup and learned about living and non living and the needs of living things!

All in all it was a good week! I love that they are interested and have been mostly good at working right along! I hope that you all had a great week! Happy Schooling Everyone!

 
 
 
 


School Week Wrap Up!

The week has been an interesting one. The time change really seemed to mess with all of our heads, so our work time in the beginning of the week was pretty rough. Everything was boring and both girls were rather less then interested in working! But we did get some good stuff done! Bunny (who decided that she hated math) started adding and subtracting fractions and she also was doing more work with the bead frame. She has been making some math problems on the chalk board all on her own and solving them. We also did a review on some of the grammar symbols we learned since we took a break from grammar. She also been working on All About Spelling and writing some letters to me! On a really exciting note, she has chosen a new project that I think will be a longer lasting one. She is going to design her own clothes! We’ll see how it goes! 🙂 Pup did her number rods all by herself, and she is working on her sandpaper letters! She also did a bit more work on her Cheetah project. She made a cheetah out of a pop bottle, painted some cheetahs on the board she made last week, and she traced an African map out of a book (she was really interested in where the water was). Here are the pictures of our learning!

 

 

 
 
 
 

 

 
So that was our week! It was really rough at points, but it ended well! Our Montessori work has been good. Pup’s interest in rivers has me thinking of some geography presentations, and maybe some zoology work tool. Her cheetah project seems to be winding down, so it would be a good time to add something new and fun! Bunny is still working away and I think that we are going to keep going with some fraction work and we are going to get back into grammar. Both are things she loves! I hope your week went really well too! Happy Schooling!


Montessori Work Plans for Kids!



Today was the perfect day of Bunny’s work plan working really well! She knew what she needed to do, and she did it with minimual help from me! We even got in a new presentatio! She had fun, I was relaxed and work was done well! In fact Bunny did mre math problems on her own the she would ever do with me assaging a set amount! Every Montessori homeschooler (well…any homeschooler) knows the value of a good work plan. Every homeschooler does it a bit differently, but we all have one, and we all need one! However, it is something that I think really becomes a sticking point for so many Montessori Homeschoolers. How do you require certain work while still offering the freedom to choose their own work? It is hard, but it is not only possible, but necessary. Without a work plan we dont know what was covered and if it was covered consistently. Just doing something one day and not doing it again for months doesnt always guarantee a solid understanding of the work. So we need a work plan. There are many different ways to do this and it really depends on your child and how they like to plan it out. These are the three that I have heard work really well.

1) Have a Daily standard plan: This is what we use. Everyday Bunny knows that she has to do a reading work, a writing work, a math work, and a spelling work. After those things are accomplished, she is free to choose whatever she wants to do. Usually this is where she is chooses some creative work. I will usually toss a presentation in here or there when she seems in between something that she needs to do. What I like about this plan is that it never changes. Bunny knows everyday what she has to do. The negative side to this is that sometimes Bunny will finish her “list”and be done. The thing we do is to have a set work time. We usually work after breakfast until lunch. This way everyone has time to choose more then just those few things. A positive is that on days when there is alot going on, Bunny knows the minimum that she needs to do, so we always seem to get something done!

2) Build a Weekly Plan: Over at What DID We Do All Day, they have a pocket chart for the week. The boys have a certain amount of work that they need to do over the week and they choose which cards go in which pockets. This allows them to place their work in the order they want it to happen while still have all the freedom! One positive to this is that they are learning to plan their time and week well! Another positive is that you can add specific things to the basket that you think need to be covered in a week. A negative to this (in my opinion) is that you need to make sure that you remember to get the plan done each week ( I tend to be a little lazy about that stuff).

3) Daily Plan Cards: This idea is from Jessica over at Montessori Trails. She used this idea with her son when he was younger, but it can be easily used with an older child too. Each day there was a basket with tasks that he would do, and baskets of other tasks for him to do in his free time! Each evening, she would make sure the tasks were replaced in the right baskets. Sticky notes on the back of the cards allows her to make sure that it was customized to the tasks! The positives of this is that it is incredibly customizable! If you dont do something, then it can be moved to another day with no problem. On the other hand it does require some work every evening to make sure it is all together. However, you can also sit down each morning with your child and work out the tasks that need to be done! It is a good way to go. If you think that cards take up too much space, you can use her paper clip idea too!

My hope is that this will help you to see how choice and freedom can still work even with a plan! We are not just making sure our kids have freedom to learn at their pace, we are also making sure that we are preparing them for life. Life requires a plan and time management and this is something important that kids need to learn! Learning this early is sure to help them manage their learning goals (and other goals) later in life too! There are many many ways to make a work plan for your family. In fact if you one that works really well for you, please share it in the comments! Sharing ideas makes it easier for everyone to find a plan for them! I hope you are having a great week! Happy Schooling Everyone!!!!!

Montessori Monday~ Learning in the Extended Classroom

Today we started off with some school time and both girls started the day by creating things with pipe cleaners. Bunny made a butterfly with woven wings! It was really pretty. Pup made a… you guessed it….cheetah! She then wanted to read more books. We did and then I asked her where she thought we could find out more about cheetahs, she suggested that we could see the two at our zoo! I told her she was right and asked what she thought she could find out. She wanted to know their names and what they eat in the zoo. She also suggested that we could talk to a zookeeper to find out. So…we packed up and headed to the zoo since it was sunny outside (cold, but finally sunny)! I wasnt sure what we would see since it was so cold out, but we luckily saw a lot of great animals! While we watched the cheetahs, we werent able to find the answers she was looking! So I thought we would find some people, but it turned out harder to do then we thought. We finally found someone at the Administration Office who called up to the zoo librarian. The librarian was more then happy to help us out! She found the names of the cheetahs, called up to the zoo educators to find out if they eat live food in the exhibit, and how old the cheetahs were. She also gave me her number so we can set something up next time! Hooray! Pup was there with me to ask the questions (even though she was too shy to do it). And I think that we learned alot! We found out that the cheetahs are about 10 years old, that they are both males that are brothers, and that they dont get live food to eat (they do occasionally get a squirrel that finds its way into the exhibit). Their names are Amani and Moja. It was a great trip and a wonderful start to helping the girls understand how to find information in the real world from experts. We also got to see alot of other things too and the girls had a really great time!

 

 

 
I forget how very fun going out can be and how much the girls can learn. Today we may not have found alot of information about cheetahs, but we did learn how to get out into the world and how to ask experts our questions to find answers. In the real world, to be able to find information is more important then knowing everything! Not only that, but we also got to see a real cheetah. There is so much value in a child being able to really see something that they are studying. They can see the claws, the eyes, the way the animal moves, the way he eats, plays, and where they live. I think that they can learn and solidify what they have learned by seeing things  in real life! This is what Maria Montessori called the extended classroom and she was right is saying that this is just as important as working in the classroom!
 
What do you like to do with your kids to get them learning outside the home?

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