Wednesday, December 22, 2010

December Memories

This month has gone by so fast to me! I have noticed with so many doctors appointments now the days and weeks seem to go by quicker than before. I don't like it and will be glad when my health is fully restored and the appointments are no longer!

Still, we have had great memories and activities. I only have pics. uploaded on my computer from the first week so I will have to add the rest after Christmas.

We made a Scripture Countdown chain. So everyday we take turns on breaking one off and reading out loud the verse.
We put up our tree. It's a 4ft tree this year. The boys love it the same.

We made our first popcorn garland. It was fun, easy, and took some time. I can't imagine how long it would take for a 7ft tree and look good. ... I'm thinking about having the boys do it next year. It takes preciseness, concentration, and patience.

I read A Treasury of Christmas Miracles by Karen Kingsbury. I found it very inspiring!

I also read a few stories out of A Prairie Christmas Collection. They were great heart warming, happy ending stories.

I hope everyone has a Beautiful, Wonderful, Merry Christmas!!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Lesson 12, 13, & 14 ~ Goat, Cow, & Horse

*We kicked off our farm series by making a farm sensory box. I got this awesome idea from this awesome teacher! Because her ideas are fabulous the boys loved this! I took a wholesale pasta box, construction paper, and farm templates and let them decorate the outside. They each got 2 sides to their self. I spared you all four sides and posted one. :)

Here's the inside: The boys spent two hours straight playing with this when it was finished! Seriously!! They played with it at least 30 minutes every day! I was astonished at how much they took to this project and plan on incorporating more when I can.
* I used DTLK's Farm Crafts and Kidzone's Farm Unit. I found the Kidzone the most resourceful. From their farm unit we made mini farm books, played farm sudoku, created a collage of crop fields, and played with farm sentence sequencing cards! Spread out over the three weeks of course. :)

* I recommend these books with the farm lessons for MFW:

The Year at Maple Hill Farm by Alice and Martin Provensen

Animals That Live on the Farm Goats by JoAnn Early Macken

Animals That Live on the Farm Cows by JoAnn Early Macken

Animals That Live on the Farm Horses by JoAnn Early Macken

They offer great basic information (no overload so they'll remember what they do learn better) and great REAL pictures (excluding Maple Hill Farm - it's drawn).

* A friend of mine who also uses MFW is working on a Farm Field Trip for the kids! I'll post pics. if it works out.

Well that wraps up our extras for MFW Farm Lessons. It also wraps up MFW Lessons for the rest of 2010! We're breaking from MFW for December. It was a great stopping point so it just worked out that way. We will use December for plenty of other learning opportunities!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Handmade Christmas ~ Week 7

I know this certainly is not the seventh week I've posted on Handmade Christmas! I had every intention of participating weekly to help me stay on top of things and because it's fun! Oh well, No looking back - just looking forward :) Here's what I worked on this past Thanksgiving week:

Bookmark: I made this bookmark for my mom. Purple & horses are her favorite. I'm going to purchase a book for her and put the bookmark in it. I'm thinking of The Shack but not sure yet.

Fingerprint Ornaments: I made one for each set of parents. I got the idea from Girl and a Glue Gun and just turned it into a Christmas idea. :) I used Sculpey clay and play doh cutters the boys had. I also used my new Shimmerz Spritz! I wrote our names and year on the back of each with a Sharpie. It was pretty easy and I liked how they turned out.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


I finally received my Shimmerz order Saturday. I have wanted to try out Shimmerz forever it feels and then it took about two weeks to receive so it's been a long wait. :)

I am enjoying my little paints so far and will be posting on them soon! Tomorrow I will be linking up to A Handmade Christmas in one of my present crafts I used Shimmerz!
Happy Crafting to me!!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Lesson 10 & 11 - Water & Insects

I realized that the whole month of November almost went by without any MFW posts! I'm combining these two because they are short posts. I will also be combining lessons 12 - 14 because they are all about farm animals and posting on them the first week of December.

Lesson 10 - Water
*We just followed the lesson plan exact for water with no extras. He created a chart for liquids, solids, and gases in his observation journal. We didn't check out any extra books that week.

Lesson 11 - Insects
*We have the ant hill but I totally failed on having the ants by this time. We will probably order them in the spring because the pamphlet said its not a good idea to order in the winter.
*I found a early reader book in his stage nonfiction about ladybugs! Which I thought was great that he was able to completely read about them on his own. I wished I could find at least one book like that for all the lessons! We did check out at least one book about each of the suggests insects: ants, bees, and ladybugs. Unfortunately, I did not write them down and I can't find them on the library's site.
*Awesome enough there is a lap book for the Ants and the Grasshopper and the moral matches the Biblical Concept MFW gives for that week! Here is the front of Chris' completed lap book - He does this without any help so it takes a lot of his mental energy. He is not required to do anything else but math and play on a lap book day. The lap book covers reading, arts, crafts, moral lesson, vocabulary words, and science.
*We went into the backyard and I had him find three insects and draw them along with observations about them in his observation journal. Him & his brother had fun chasing the bugs around. :)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Nice Morning

I've had a nice leisurely morning. I made & mailed out some Thanksgiving cards. I even enjoyed my walk to the mailbox. The trees were bright and crisp, the clouds big and fluffy w/a tint of grey and a nippy breeze. Then printed out some recipes for December and made some shopping lists. One is for our Christmas Adventure project we are doing as a family. I can't wait to post on it. The other list is for the homemade gifts I'll be making soon! I just love and relish every bit of this season!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Thanksgiving Links

Just wanted to share some Thanksgiving/Fall links that I am enjoying:




Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Mommy, Teach Me!

I've checked out a few Montessori books from the library and this book is the best preschool montessori book in my opinion. My library didn't have this one. I picked up at the homeschool convention. It was the first book I read out of everything we bought there. The picture is linked to Amazon and you can view inside the book there.
Summary of Book: Barbara Curtis starts out telling you her story, which is wonderful. She explains why your preschooler can thrive at home, how your the best teacher ever, and why the home is the best "classroom". She then shows you how to "release your teaching ability" and how to "release your child's learning ability". I found these two chapters extremely helpful and filled with points and ideas I've never thought about. Chapter 4 is filled with "exercises" that are all pretty much practical living skills. Then the rest of the book gives ideas on how to teach these subjects: Manipulatives, Imaginative Play, Beginning Math, Science, Geography, Fine Arts, and Spiritual Life. I probably will not try all of the ideas but there are definitely a lot of good ones I want to do. We have done almost all the exercises in Chapter 4. I figured these were the most important to learn since they are all practical living skills and are a base skill for something else.
What Meant the Most to Me:
  • Encouragement in my choice to teach at home was refreshing. (chapters 1 & 2)
  • the "take extra time" paragraph on page 40 was convicting. She is so right about when I'm in a hurry I find myself doing things for my boys that they can do for themselves. She suggests adding on 15 minutes to give your child time to get ready in whatever ways he has mastered.
  • "From the earliest days, give your child choices whenever you possibly can: 'Do you want to wear this red shirt or the blue one'?" ~ yeah I so did not do that whenever I first read this book. I am slowly working on that and getting much better at it!
  • She suggest to demonstrate things in slow detailed movements when first teaching your child a skill. I got an absolute kick out of picturing one of us walking painfully slow to bring a bowl of cereal to the table!
  • She had an interesting take on why we should make child size spaces for our toddlers/preschoolers that I enjoyed.
  • One of her suggestions for developing concentration is coloring books. Many "mason advocates" blogs and writings I've read have scorned against these. However, Curtis brings up some points worth thinking about such as we are created in the image of a Creator - it would take more than a mountain of coloring books to stifle the creative impulse of a young child. They also help develop fine motor skills. My own personal opinion on coloring books is - if your child likes them and you have a great art curriculum you are doing who cares if he/she colors in their free time. Seriously, there are worse things!

Most of our trays have come from Chapters 4 and 5 in this book. I plan on doing some of the activities in the Geography chapter as well as the Fine Arts chapter. Chapters 6 - 8 & 11 I didn't find that great. However, I think the foundation of what is taught in this book as well as there are many great activities will make it worth your time and/or money!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

November Trays

Silver Polishing: practical living skills, eye-hand coordination, fine motor control, and development of concentration (both)

Sewing Cards: eye-hand coordination, fine motor control, and development of concentration (both)

Folding Napkins: pincer grasp, precise movement, development of concentration. I'm starting them out with washcloths then working up to napkins. (both)

Matching Cards: visual discrimination (Zack)

Song Play: The Wheels on the Bus (Zack)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Winter Wonder

As fall's breeze gets chillier my thoughts wonder to winter ... winter preparation. Some have more elaborate winter preparation lists than others. Mine is fairly simple. We have always rented and lived in apartments so all I have to do is make a phone call for house winter prep and maintenance does the job for my hunny! Here is what I do:

  • Read this article for inspiration.
  • Take out fall & winter clothes and put up summer clothes. During this time I take a mental note of everything we have and make a list of what everyone needs. We shop sales off season so one child may have winter boots and another doesn't based on what was available or able to be handed down. I put the list in my wallet (because I go back and forth between purses, bible study bags, library bags, diaper bags ... you get LoL). No matter what bag I'm using - I have my wallet with me so when I see a good deal/clearance/sale I can pull out my list, not double buy, and purchase with confidence.
  • I better plan my routines, outings, and cleaning schedules. I do this more in the winter because that's when your inside more. So cleaning matters more to us. Some may find it as important year round. In the summer we just keep the home de-cluttered and picked up, there's no dusting and deep cleaning. However, when your inside all the time and it's too cold to open your windows cleanliness matters. :) I adapt FlyLady's ideas to fit our family during this time. She is awesome! I refresh my FlyLady memory and create new routines and schedules.
  • I create a two week menu plan and shopping list so that when I know the weather is going to be rough for awhile I just pull out my two week shopping list and am ready to go!
  • I print out my Holiday Control Journal. I used a Holiday Control Journal for the past 4 years and I think I will do so for a long time! It works perfect. I even created extra pages adjusted to our family to add.
  • I keep all my papers divided and organized in a Control Journal. Here is an awesome post on building a home planner!
  • Check our medicine stock. This is different for everyone as well. I'm big on trying/using the natural remedy first before using something man made. Whatever you choose for your family when a member "comes down" with something it can be costly if not prepared! I make a list of what's needed and buy one to two items once a week until our cabinet is restocked. I feel this makes it as easy on our budget as possible.

These are my basics that I find the most helpful and make sure I do every year. Hopefully something has helped you as well or at least inspired you in caring for your family. :)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Gifts for Friends and Family

Abbi @ Proverbs 31 Living is hosting a Handmade Christmas for the next few weeks. You can link up w/your own ideas or go to view others. She also shares her own thoughts and ideas. I think it's awesome! She is on week 2. Here is my link from week 1.

I think "handmade" puts a little something special in Christmas season. Especially when there are families you want to bless because they have meant so much to you. We just started this last year. I really liked the idea but had lots of conflicts when it came to making for family. Friends were easy to think for - bake! However, we have big families and though whom we actually buy for is a small list I wanted to make sure that what we made meant something, looked good, stayed in our budget, and wouldn't be tossed somewhere. So here is what we did last year:

Ornaments: The actual glass ornaments were only $1/each at A.C. Moore! Then we bought the ribbon and charms for about $5/all. The biggest expense was the special paper we needed. Which was this. If you decide to make these and buy that paper - make sure it is exactly that paper or it will not work. It needs to say print, apply, and transfer. For a total of $32 for 8 people ($4/person) plus tons of that paper left over for future projects or gifts!

Once we had all of our supplies together we picked out meaningful pictures for each person. Here are a few I found-
Left: Mother n Law -her deceased mother - a copy of one of her two pics. she has of her.
Right: Brother n Law - a pic. of him and my husband when they were little ( my husband is the cute blond btw ;)
Left: my Grandma - a pic. of her with all her children in their younger years, the young man on the right has passed away a few years ago. this meant a lot to her as she didn't have any ornaments w/her children on them!
Right: my husband's Grandma - a pic. of her and her husband - not only are there not many pics. of them but she had the scare several times last year of almost losing her husband! She was very grateful as well.
I was so happy that our first year of homemaking gifts was a success. Truthfully I was worried people wouldn't like it or think whatever about us.
Baking: Last year we chose to bake a variety of cookies for a few special families. We baked:
Salted Peanut Cookies
Soft Baked Ginger Cookies
Popsicle Chocolate Chip Cookies (a little fun for the kids in the family ... because cookies aren't already fun! LoL)
Decorated Sugar Cookies
Sprinkled Butter Cookies
We baked these on 3 different days and put them in the freezer until time to wrap & give. So we decided to wrap each type of cookie in a separate plastic wrap tied with ribbon. Then, we decorated paper bags to put them all in with their Christmas card. We decorated the bag buy cutting out Christmas song sheets from our newspaper and gluing it to card stock as a background. Then gluing a ribbon at the top for extra decoration. Our cookie gift total came to about $15 including everything! We gave to 7 families so this came to about $2.14/family! Some pictures I found of them -
Well those are my ideas from last year ... working on this year's! We all really enjoyed it!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pumpkin Patch

It is our family tradition to go to Snead's Asparagus Farm every fall. We have so much fun there. It's just a great way to slow down, enjoy each other, and have cheap family fun! This farm is free to explore on the weekdays (unlike other farms around here that can cost between $10/family - $15/person!). This works great for us since my husband's days off are weekdays.

You can climb haystacks plus play other farm games...

Feed their animals - which are llamas, goats, cows, horses, and chickens...
Nathanael enjoying his first farm trip...
In the pumpkin patch...Sunflower Maze...

Monday, October 25, 2010

Picture Frames

Another art project this past month was picture frames. These also were only $2 total. The frames were $1 each and the beans, paint, and glue were all on hand.

Painting Backgrounds: Gluing on the Beans:

Finished Projects: Chris'
This was a fun project that also is a good start for toddlers learning two - three step projects. We painted one day, then glued the next, and had to wait for them to dry.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

September Trays

I wasn't able to make October Trays and didn't get to post on September Trays so now I am. I'm working and deciding on what will be our November Trays and excited about it! So many choices. :)
Scents: (Chris) I had frankincense, lavender, lemon, and peppermint. The little cards have a picture of the herb or whatever on it along with the name. We covered up the labels later and also did it blindfolded.
Foundational Value: Olfactory Discrimination; Development of Concentration,
Quick Identification

Tongs: (both)

Foundational Value: Eye-Hand Coordination;Development of Concentration; Gross Motor Coordination

Stacking Cubes: (Zack)

Foundational Value: Cognitive and Fine Motor Skills

Matching & Sorting Cards: (Zack)

Foundational Value: Visual Discrimination; Development of Concentration
Stickers: (Zack)

Foundational Value: Eye-Hand Coordination; Pincer Grasp

Workbook: (Chris) I wouldn't usually put a workbook on a tray but since we were not doing the curriculum for the month I gave Chris two workbooks that he did a page a day. He loves workbooks and even though he did have to complete them he did.

Transferring: (Zack)

Foundational Value: Practical Living Skills; Eye-Hand Coordination

Eyedropper: (both)

Foundational Value: Practical Living Skills; Eye-Hand Coordination; Development of Concentration; Fine Motor Control

Workbook: (Chris)


I needed the tray break in order to get back on track after everything. I love making trays though and am considering some new ideas from some Montessori books I'm looking at! It feels good to feel back! :)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Lesson 9 - Octopus

We had a fun week learning about the ocean and some of the creatures living there!

Movie: I seen this movie in Redbox and checked it out to watch since one of the days suggest going to an aquarium and our closest one is 3 hours away. It was pretty good and something different since we don't watch TV or movies often. FYI: It did mention evolution quite a few times.
Books: We started out the week reading Exploring the Deep, Dark Sea by Gail Gibbons. It was a great introduction to the ocean and some of the creatures living there. The pic. is linked.
Other books we read this week were: The Amazing Octopus A Bobbie Kalman Book, Sharks by Gail Gibbons, and Whales by Gail Gibbons. They were all great books.

Map: Chris' first map. We talked about how the Earth is mainly water and the names of the main bodies of water.
Ocean Collage: Chris' first collage. He had fun with this!

In addition, we found some ocean color books and play sea creatures in the dollar section of Target.