Reptile Kindergarten Unit

I’m going to start keeping track of what I’m doing for my kid’s school by posting it up here. ¬†This way all my links are in one place for me, and hopefully someone else can benefit from my work ūüôā ¬†I will primarily be posting what I am doing for my youngest two. ¬†The first one I am going to put up is my reptile unit:

Materials: printer paper and ink, cookie cutters, dish sponges, tempura paint, pipe cleaners, ruler, paper, crayons or markers, paper plate, string, paper bowl, foil, cardstock or cardboard, glue, dishwashing soap, food coloring, paintbrushes, googly eyes

Everyday we will be using this Kindergarten Kit.

We will also be watching Magic School Bus season 2 episode 12, Cold Feet on Netflix streaming.

Day 1:

Read Eye wonder: Reptiles

Learn about reptiles

Rr is for reptiles coloring page

Reptile sponge painting (can use cookie cutters to make the templates and use tempura paint)

Day 2:

Read Verdi 

Ss is for snake printing page 

Snake cut and paste

Snake measuring activity

Day 3:

Read Crictor

S is for snake coloring page

Silly Snake video (scroll to bottom of page)

Spiral Snake craft

Day 4:

Read Look Out for Turtles!

Turtle craft

Tt coloring page

Tt printing page

Turtle cut and paste

Day 5:

Read A Color of His Own ( I will use this paint instead)

Chameleon craft

Day 6:

Read Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile

Cc is for crocodile coloring page

Cc printing page

Black Caiman video

Alligator craft¬†(alligator…crocodile…close enough!)

 

Please note that more than likely some of these will be spread out over two days instead of one. ¬†We are focusing primarily on phonics right now so when we hit a letter we don’t know very well I will split the activities up over two days, read the same book both days, and have the kids practice the letter that I have assigned both days. ¬†I will be making flashcards each time I introduce a letter and we will go over the flashcards each day before we begin the other activities.

Momma’s in college and the kids are homeschooled…

We are still homeschooling, it’s been four years since we made the plunge and we still feel like it’s the best thing that we’ve done for our children. ¬†I’ve spent hours coming up with “perfect” lesson plans, finding resources, organizing the school year, etc. ¬†The thing is, I’ve been called to change. ¬†Although at times it was frustrating and overwhelming, a part of me has loved every minute of it all. ¬†Now God has called me to do other things with my time as well and something had to give. ¬†I started college in January. ¬†Thankfully my degree is 100% online and on my schedule. ¬†I am told at the beginning of the week what I need to get done, and I turn it in by the end of the week. ¬†Without this kind of flexibility I don’t think I could do this, God is so good to have set this up for me like that! ¬†I realized early on that I couldn’t go to college and homeschool the kids the same way that I have been doing it.

Enter online schooling! ¬†My oldest is using the curriculum at All In One Homeschool¬†and I have to say that I love it! ¬†It is so thorough, teaches everything exactly how I would teach it, and teaches my daughter to take personal responsibility for her work. ¬†We do not use the math or science on there though. ¬†We use Saxon Math, not the crazy expensive homeschool version, just a used public school textbook and I don’t think she could get a better math foundation from any other curriculum. ¬†She really wanted something special for science we tried a few things and decided on Uzzingo¬†and she seems to really enjoy it. ¬†I think this fall though we might switch out to Apologia science but I haven’t decided 100% on that yet. ¬†My second child is using Time¬†4 Learning. ¬†It’s not my favorite program ever, but it will work just fine for now until he is old enough to use All In One Homeschool independently. ¬†My youngest two are using ABC Mouse¬†to learn all of their basics.

This new way of homeschooling is so wonderful for us right now.  It allows us all to get done what we need to get done for the day without everyone waiting on Mommy to sit down and teach them.  Of course I still go over things with them and check their grades to see if there is anything they need special help on, but it saves me so much time and allows me the time and energy that I need to focus on my goals as well.

Math bean bags!

I had some fun last night making some numbered bean bags for my little ones.

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They were super easy to make, I just cut some 5″x10″ strips of fabric, and then cut some numbers from an old worn out t-shirt. After trying it out I think a non stretchy fabric would have worked better, but live and learn! I took the fabric numbers and machine appliqu√©d them onto the strips, and then folded the strips right sides together and sewed the three open edges together, leaving a gap to turn the bags with. Then I turned the bags, filled with a bit of rice, and sewed the gaps closed. Easy peasy!

Struggles

As I struggle each day to raise young men and women for Christ my faults become apparent. Some days my “bag of tricks” for training my children becomes depleted and we just struggle to finish the day. I find myself unprepared for the task at hand and at a loss for how to shape these young and impressionable minds that God has entrusted to me. It is at these times that my daily prayers for guidance turn into desperate cries for help. Our God is good and faithful to help us in our time of need! He may not always give me every piece to the puzzle, but He does at least give me a piece. Once I have that piece in play He always gives me another, until the puzzle is finished. Perhaps I am just too hard headed and stubborn to simply receive an answer, or maybe it is just that He requires faith on my part that He will give me the answers as I need them.

Yesterday, after my daughter went to bed, I began to notice all the things she hadn’t done during the day. The trash that was supposedly taken out, the floor that was supposedly mopped, the laundry that was supposedly put up, etc… We have struggled with a lazy and rebellious attitude in her for awhile now. Every time I think we are making progress my love, compassion, and desire to trust her are put to the test. She has an amazing knack for knowing the precise moment that I let my guard down. Her spirit isn’t being shaped, just her persistent nature to do what must be done to hide the dark secret of laziness and rebellion.

As I spent some quiet time yesterday reading through some posts on Godly womanhood I stumbled across a gem here. I wasn’t fully aware of how her story had touched me until my husband and I sat down to once again discuss our daughter and what we need to do to raise her up properly. Then it dawned on me, just like the woman in the story, I needed to step back and allow my husband to take control. When she was a newborn (and during the majority of my pregnancy) my husband was deployed overseas, leaving me in single mom dominant mode. The funny thing is, despite the fact that I allow him full control over our other children I never really gave over the reins with her. It is almost as if I subconsciously view her as my own personal project, as if no one can understand her and shape her the way that I can.

As that realization dawned on me I realized that I have brought all of this on myself, both to my detriment as well as hers and my husband’s. His punishments, in my eyes, always seem fair and just with the other children, and yet when it comes to her I have always felt that he was too harsh, that somehow her sensitive nature required a different type of training than what we have proven works for our other three children. I have coddled her as only a mother can and now I have to pay the consequences. Today begins a new day, a day where my husbands wishes in all areas, including the training and discipline of our oldest, are paramount to my own. It will be a day that hurts, both my pride and my heart, but one that sets me on the journey of being the wife and mother that both God and my husband want me to be. If you are reading this please pray that I have the strength to do what’s right, to follow my husbands lead, and to rid myself of my own rebellious spirit that was secretly hiding, undermining all my efforts to be the wife, mother, and teacher that God wants me to be.

Strong bodies for a strong mind

Have you ever looked at your kids and wonder where you went wrong, why (despite your constant training) they just refuse to conform to your rules? Sometimes matters of the heart are a direct result of matters of the body, or vice versa, however you want to look at it. Sometimes that rebellion you see is less a result of direct intent than it is of wandering minds and excess energy. It is impossible to expect compliance of the mind without also training the body.

I’m not talking about prison camps where inmates mindlessly (and pointlessly) crush rocks all day long, just some good old fashioned work that the child can take pride in and truly benefits the family. A sense of family is easily instilled by working together as a group for mutual benefit.

Family work should be a required part of any successful homeschool in my opinion. Of course we have daily chores that not only keep our household running smoothly but also tend to teach the importance of thinking of others. My children have their assigned room that they must clean daily, regardless of who made the mess. Believe me, the culprit is quickly made to understand the importance of cleaning up after themselves when a sibling is forced to clean up after them. Sometimes the disapproval of their peers can rectify a poor habit much more quickly and effectively than a nagging mother!

By far the greatest benefit though comes from work of a much less mundane manner. Cleaning can be a mind numbing and monotonous task, and for the sake of actually accomplishing something in the day we all break up, go to our designated areas and come back together when it is done. This solitary work is good, but sometimes the fact that it benefits everyone is lost in the monotony of it all. Hard work, done as a family group, builds ties, strengthens bodies, and brings minds into a respectful state of compliance in an almost magical way.

For example, we have been having a few discipline problems here lately, a little lying, a little laziness, and a little disrespect have been quickly ripping through the loving family foundation that we have been trying to create. A few days ago we decided randomly that there was some yard work that needed done. It started with mowing the grass (which is happily my job since it gives me a break from the constant “Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!” of my everyday life). This is a lot more work than it sounds like as we have a one acre plot located on a major corner of our subdivision. It seems like everyone who stops at the corner decides to clean out their car and dump their trash in our yard (makes me wonder if their mothers taught them anything about respecting others property!) this makes for lots to clean up, and it is just the beginning. With our 30+ trees in the yard there is always a huge amount of sticks and limbs that need to be picked up and moved to the burn pile as well.

Usually there is at least one boy close by (but at a safe distance if the mower were to sling anything) ready to come running if I point. I put on the brakes, turn off the blades, point at the stick or trash on the ground in front of me, and they come running to clean it up. This is great fun for them and keeps them active and occupied the entire time I mow. On the occasion that I am in the backyard and find something needing to be picked up I simply whip around to the front of the yard and give one of the boys a ride to the area. They love this part since they get a free lawn mower ride out of the deal.

After mowing it was time to trim back some new growth. This is a much bigger deal than it sounds like. There are constantly saplings taking roots in various parts of the yard, either because we were lazy and haven’t bothered with it yet (gasp!) or because they were hiding in some forgotten corner of the yard and just now caught our attention. Our trees also grow at an alarming rate and what at the beginning of spring was a branch too high to reach is now one that is dragging the ground, making it difficult to mow around and disrupting the flow of the yard.

We spent a few hours sawing through these new trees and dragging branches (adults only!), and dragging the waste to our burn pile. This work has proven to our children time and time again that life is truly mind over matter. Some of these “branches” are huge, and look like a whole tree in and of themselves. Many are too large for a child to move by themselves, but some are actually quite light, they just look really heavy. After initial resistance to even try, we convinced the kids that they could do it! After just a few tugs everything began to move and a sense of awe and pride welled up in their eyes. After that everyone was hard at task strengthening their bodies, developing persistence, learning teamwork, and using up all that extra energy so they could get a great nights sleep. Not only does my yard look amazing, but the kids are suddenly well behaved, happy to comply, and busy looking after each other. Even if I didn’t have the benefit of my yard looking nice, it was worth every bit of hard work and blood (yeah, I’m a bit clumsy), just for the mental transformation in my children!

The Fourth Grade Transition

This year our oldest is starting fourth grade. This is exciting, as the fourth grade is a huge transition year, and also a little sad because my baby is growing up. Even with that hint of sadness there is a lot of joy though, we have managed to raise up one of our children to the age that she can really begin thinking for herself and applying all of the truths that we have taught her. Of course she’s not ready to move out and be on her own, but this age is just as important to her development as that first apartment.

Up through the third grade life has been fun, all about songs designed to help memorize facts, lots of hands on basics, and plenty of time to just “be”. This year her studies will be more intense, and require her to think through the lessons, not just memorize them, so they she can begin the process of learning to apply everything that she has learned. We are also introducing good study habits that will carry her through college and beyond. Writing will also take center stage this year, as a means of memorization, communication, studying, and for just plain fun.

This is a lot to throw at a kid all at once, so we are starting slow and adding just a few new things to her schedule at once. The first thing that she did was a book report. Not the kind where you mindlessly spit out some facts and call it good, but the kind where you have to really think, discover the reasoning behind the personality of each character, and explain what you can learn from the book. I was worried this would be a bit daunting to her, but she took right to it and is devouring her next book so she can write another book report. Come to find out she is pretty good at this kind of thing and wants to do a lot more book reports than I had planned on (of course I’m happy to oblige!).

The second thing we have been working on is outlining/taking notes. She’s definitely not ready to sit in on a lecture and take notes as I teach, but she is learning to pick out the important points from each chapter in her science and history lessons and put them all in a notebook for future reference. Test taking has not been a huge part of her school up until now, but it will be this year so she should learn pretty quickly how important these notes are to her studies. She has taken to the task heroically, not even batting an eye except for the first chapter she had to do. Once I explained the purpose she “battened down the hatches” and got right to work.

There are a lot more changes to come this year but we have to start somewhere and this is as good a place as any. Try to make these changes gradual and you should be rewarded with a willing student who is taking those first steps towards an independent adulthood.

School is back in session (a.k.a. Two year olds don’t like to sit still)

Well, school is back in session around this house. These first weeks are always tough, getting everyone back in the groove of sitting still, being patient, and listening. The little ones are the hardest, especially my two year old! She loved our summer school with all it’s long nature walks, time spent playing in the dirt and looking for worms, and especially all the really neat places we got to visit (learning about seashells on the beach in North Carolina was her favorite!)

Honestly, until she gets back in the groove there isn’t a whole lot of learning to be had for the others. We have found some solutions though. She loves her “lee-lees”. For those of you who don’t speak the language of two year olds, they are basically any small toy like Zoobles, Littlest Pet Shop, etc. She has her own box of these precious toys that are only brought out during school time. This keeps them special, and even if she doesn’t look forward to sitting down for a few hours at a time they do a lot to hold her attention.

We also try to find ways to keep her involved in our school time. This is especially easy during our science lessons, she loves to look at the pictures and anything that I’ve brought in to display for the lesson. By keeping her involved and letting her discover along with us she remains (fairly) quiet so that everyone else can learn. We also ask lots of questions, and give her a chance to answer some as well. Sometimes the only thing she can do is look at a picture and say that it’s her favorite,but she feels like an active part of the learning environment and doesn’t feel so left out. At two, I’m perfectly happy with her simply absorbing the pictures that’s she sees, it is laying a strong foundation for the future when I can explain what is happening in them.

We also make sure that she has a wide range of coloring pages to choose from, lots of colorful books to look at, and we take plenty of quick breaks to keep the little ones from getting too antsy. Some of these breaks are “wiggle time”, where everyone gets up and wiggles as much as they can for five minutes. These breaks are often quite hilarious, ending in the boys competing to see who can do the funniest dance, and it gets rid of just enough extra energy to allow everyone to sit still for another 30 minutes or so ( which is a long time when you are 2, 4, and 5!)

We have finally settled into a decent routine and now we can begin the more intense studies. There are still times when my somewhat distractible 9 year old has to go to a different room to finish her studies, but who can blame her. Preschool/kindergarten is all about talking and play, so it can get quite loud. She is just learning how to outline and take notes and since she must do that for every history and science lesson that we have she needs full concentration to finish these tasks.

I hope everyone out there who has already started homeschool back up is having success as well. You are sure to encounter some pitfalls but look at each one as a way to find creative solutions. Involve your children in finding these solutions, and you will soon fall into a routine that works for everyone! May God bless each one of you as you endeavor to do His will, and be sure to pray DAILY that He gives you the strength, courage, knowledge, wisdom, and understanding that are needed to shepherd your children through these impressionable years.