So, We Found A Parachute…

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So, we found a parachute while cleaning out some boxes today,  and Maxwell wants nothing more than to play with it tomorrow at homeschool. So, I’m gonna make it happen.

The plan:
Normal homeschool routine with parachute joy at the end to keep the high energy to the end and to serve as an incentive to stay focused through o other activities.

“Normal Routine:
Hello Song
Pledge and US Geography
7 days of the week
Weather Chart and Graphing
Number of the Day
Nursery Rhyme
Story Time
Goodbye song review

While researching parachute activities I came upon  this great blog Read Sing Play and it inspired most of our lesson

-Nursery Rhyme
Come Under My Umbrella (tune of The More We Get Together)
Come under my umbrella, umbrella, umbrella
Come under my umbrella, it’s starting to storm
There’s thunder and lightning and wind and rain
Come under my umbrella it’s starting to storm

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-Parachute comes out!
Act out songs:
Come under my umbrella
The Wheels on the Bus
Pop Goes the Weasle
-The grand finally…
parachute+balls=popcorn

I’m pretty sure they’ll be really amped up after this so well probably need to head to the park then.

I’m excited. Let’s hope they are too!

Blogging for Us and Others: A Liebster Award!

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I started this blog a month ago with the main objective of recording our daily activities and for the practical reason that I seldom have access to my laptop and could write down lesson ideas and resources from my cell phone while putting the boys down for bed each night. Since then I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find a rich community of bloggers with humorous, heart touching, and practical blogs whom I have learned from and enjoyed meeting virtually. Even more surprising was discovering that others found inspiration in my blog as well! Erica who writes the great blog Just a Little Dot is one of those people and graciously nominated me for the Liebster Award, a recognition for new blogs. This led me to revisit all of my favorite blogs that I follow and pay the recognition forward. I’d never heard of the award before receiving the nomination last week, but here are the details.

Here is how it works:

  • Link back to the person who nominated you.
  • Answer the questions given to you by the nominator.
  • Nominate up to 11 other bloggers with less than 200 followers.
  • Create 11 questions for the nominees.
  • Notify all nominees via social media/blogs.

Here are the questions she asked me to answer:

Where is your favorite place you have traveled?

My stay the the Shunkoin Buddhist Temple in Kyoto, Japan while I was participating in a U.S./Japan teacher exchange program was on of the most peaceful places I’ve ever visited.

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 What would you choose to have for your last meal

Thanksgiving Dinner with my family.

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If you could have an evening with any person in the world who would it be?

I quiet night with my husband. I miss date nights.

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What was your favorite childhood toy?

First Lamb. My dad gave her to me on the day I was born at the hospital. I still have her.

What is your favorite quote?

“Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.”― Horace Mann

and

“Our greatest responsibility is to be good ancestors.”
Dr. Jonas Salk

Cabin in the woods or oceanfront cottage?

Cabin in the woods for sure.

Android or Iphone?

Android

Pearls or Diamonds?

Diamonds

What is your favorite post on your blog?

Sorting by Color and Rocking Your Kid’s World

What is your favorite way to release stress?

Drawing or painting followed by a bubble bath with a very full glass of wine.

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If you won the lottery what is the first thing you would do with your winnings?

Pay of my student loan debt and then put more money in the boys’ college fund.


Since I started blogging a month ago I’ve met some great people and seen some inspiring, useful, and fun blogs. Here are my 11 nominations for the Liebster Award:

Sleep Deprived In Seattle

The Happy Family Blog

Farm House School House

The Princess, P, and Me

At The Well

On Life and Leche

This Peculiar Joy

Saranganimommy

The Mommy Blog

Lifestyle of a Momaholic

Our Family Journey

These are the 11 questions I’d like my 11 nominees to answer:

  1. What flavor of jelly on your pb&j?
  2. If you could visit any other time period in history for one week, when would it be?
  3. What is your favorite holiday and holiday tradition?
  4. What is your favorite blog post  you’ve written?
  5. Are you a mountain or an ocean person?
  6. Favorite flavor of ice cream?
  7. If you could only eat one type on cuisine (italian, mexican, indian, etc) for a month what would it be?
  8. Which 3 books have had the greatest influence on you as a person?
  9. What is your favorite scent for candles?
  10. If you could invite anyone in the world past or present to a 5 person dinner party who would it be?
  11. Why did you start blogging?

Toys that Teach: Color Sort Vegetables

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Instead of buying the gigantic mess-monsters that are the 200 piece sets of pretend food, we chose to buy this simple vegetables and color sorting baskets from Amazon.com two years ago for my oldest son’s first birthday. I can honestly say it’s one of the smarter toy purchases I’ve made for the kids. Not too many pieces, easy to understand sorting activity for the kiddos, and good for pretend cooking as well. It’s one of the few toys that have stayed in the play room this long.

Check it out here: Color Sort Vegetables $29 on Amazon.com

It came out again for this week’s focus on color sorting and you’d think it was a new toy the way Maxwell took to sorting and little brother stirred the food with a play hand blender.

For more color sorting ideas check out my post: Sorting by Color and Rocking Your Kid’s World

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The Great Room Re-Branding: A New Shared Montessori Style Bedroom

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UPDATE Post: No Couch Shall Come Between Them : An Update on the Shared Montessori Style Shared Boys Bedroom

My son’s bedroom has been suffering from some very negative PR lately. Everything from the lack of light in the room at night to the disturbing presence of an exclamation mark on one of the pirate posters, and the absence of little brother have been cited by Maxwell as reasons why the room is terrifying. Coincidentally the master bedroom is all things good, not scary, and sleep inducing. As a result our king sized bed has been sleeping six-Maxwell, Patrick, our two dogs, and my husband and me pushed to the edges- for more than three months now.

After one too many sleepless nights we decided that Maxwell’s room needed to be rebranded to sell him on the idea of sleeping in it again. I set to work trolling the Internet for ideas. One thing was clear, Patrick would need to leave his crib (he’s been trying to climb out for awhile now) and join Maxwell. Both boys have been wanting to sleep together for some time now, but a shared room poses some obvious challenges so I decided that the child focused, simple, and safe montissori style room was the way too go for us.

Learn what it means to have a montessori style room at these sites that helped me when brainstorming their shared room:
9 Simple Steps to Set Up a Montessori Style Toddler Bedroom

Are Montessori Floor Beds Bad For Your Baby/Toddler’s Sleep?

The Montessori Parent

Montessori Style Improvements/Changes:
-Initials were added above each boys bed

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-The awesome pirate ship toddler bed moved to a playroom

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-We simplified by removed that was not rest safe and sleep inducing. All that remains are books, stuffed toys, pillows, a couch, and two crib sized bed.

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-The books, stuffed toys, night lights, and bed are all child accessible and as safe as possible.
Video monitor dusted off and added to ease my concerns about my two mischievous boys sharing a room
-Maxwell helped choose calming nature themed wall decals, bedding, and stuffed toys

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Continue reading

When Little Brothers Attack

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Twenty-two months is the difference in age between a child who wants to play with toys and one who wants to eat them.

I’m really struggling right now to keep the peace and the integrity of our lessons with an increasingly “involved” 19 month old. When we started our hour a day homeschool less than a month ago Patrick was perfectly happy to wonder the play room and check into our activities when we were singing our making animal noises. I’m excited that he wants to be more engaged now, but ripping color labels of the wall and literally throwing today’s color activity in the trash is very upsetting to big brother and not the least bit distressing to me.

So far I’ve explained to Maxwell that we have to teach Patrick to be a big boy like him and that we’ll do our special Patrick free activities during baby brother’s nap. This works insofar as Maxwell will now yell instructions and remonstrations at his brother instead of just crying, but I haven’t been able to follow through on nap time special lessons because Patrick has been napping less and less.

I don’t have a solution to this problem yet, but will continue to try to encourage them both and minimize the damage.

Suggestions welcome.

Fine-Motor Latch Board

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If ever you want to feel super handy and proud of yourself for using a power tool, make your kiddos a “Fine-Motor Latch Board”. I’ve seen these all over Pintrest forever and after seeing both of my boys struggle to do things like use zippers, hold crayons, open containers, complete puzzles, and pick up small objects (all fine-motor skills) I decided it was time to visit the hardware store.

Materials:
A board- They had these blank boards with beveled edges ready made. So, of course that’s what I got, but you could use any splinter – free scrap wood you can find. I will say my board was not quite thick enough for all of the screws I used and I had to pull them out a little so that they didn’t poke through the back of the board. Learn from my mistake and get a board that’s thick enough.
Assorted locks, latches, and hindges- I mostly let the boys pick these out, but I was honestly shocked by how expensive some of these were. You could also get knobs or anything else that suits your fancy. I would do a pintrest search for “fine motor board” for more ideas.
A power screw driver- I tried to avoid the mess that is our garage by using a manual screw driver, but quickly admitted defeat and set to rummaging through the chaos to find the power tool.

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How to do it:
If you have older kiddos they could watch, but with my grabby little munchkins I figured it would be best to do this project on my own.
1. Lay out your locks, latches,  and whatnot the way you want them on the board.
2. Screw them down.
3. Get a hand massage (the project may be simple, but it takes a toll on your hand muscles)
4. Show your child(ren) how each feature works and help them try on their own. This is entertaining for a wide range of kids and wildly personalizable.

Warning: This board is surprisingly heavy and with two boys who love to throw things I am constantly vigilant for objects that could destroy a TV, toe, or nose. So, I recommend that this be used only when an adult can supervise

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Variations:
-paint the board
-have kids put stickers on it
-drill holes through it to create a lacing practice section
-Attach an actual lock and key
-Use scrap cabinet doors

Like I said there are tons and tons of ideas for this on pintrest, but I kept it simple. Like this blog, my fine motor board is a testament to my belief that I’d rather it be simple and done than over the top and half finished.

If you decide to make one of these of love to see how it turns out!

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Color Sorting + Scissor Skills= Geometric Art Project

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We’ve been working on sorting and scissor skills this week. So, Saturday is a great day to bring the two skills together in this super simple Geometric Art project.  Check out the posts Sorting by Color and Rocking Your Kid’s World and While Baby Brother Was Napping… the scissors came out from earlier in the week

Materials:
Safety scissors
3-5 colors of construction paper (child’s choice is best)
Glue (I recommend the liquid glue to sticks for the 3+ kids because the squeezing motion is great for developing their finger strength and fine motor skills, but a glue stick will get the job done if that’s all you have)
Markers the same color as the paper
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Objectives:
Child will be able to identify colors
Child will be able to recognize color words
Child will be able to sort objects by a single attribute (color)
Child will be able to use scissors to cut paper with adult assistance

A note on objectives: these are variations on the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills and are likely very similar to objectives for prek in most states. The expectation is not that the child will master the objective after just one lesson, but rather that they are simply working towards mastery over time

Lesson:
Super simple stuff here-just let your kiddo choose 3-5 colors of construction paper, help them cut it with safety scissors, divide paper into geometric quadrants using matching colored markers, help them glue their paper pieces onto the corresponding quadrants,  and then hang it up for all to see.

Tips:
1. Have two pairs of scissors – one for you and one for them. This way you can show them how to cut.
2. Hold and move the paper for them at first so they can focus on learning the open and closing motion of snipping.
3. Keep it easy and positive. This is a super challenge skill for little ones to master. So, don’t try to make any specific shapes at first,  and focus on their effort more than the accuracy of their cutting.

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