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Under Construction


under construction

Warning: Under Construction

As I sit to write this post, life is swirling around me.  After all, life happens doesn’t it.  I have many pictures in my head of what things should look like and how they should all shake out.  Then, at the end of the day or week, I look back and it’s just not what I thought it would be.  Sometimes this is fine, after awhile I start to wonder…is there something I need to change?

In regards to the past two weeks, I look back and reflect on activities I have done with Mason and wonder…have I done enough?  I don’t want to cheat him.  I don’t want to overwork him.  I don’t want to get caught up in the striving of planning four lessons a day, making sure to cover all standards for the week, etc.  I came from there, I don’t want to go back.

I have wondered this past week, if I should begin to get a lesson planner and go to setting plans down for the week.  After all, I am familiar with this, maybe it would work?  Then, I think to myself…Mason is four.  I’m really not ready to push the whole, let’s do a pre-scheduled school week structure.

Life is swirling.

I do have a feeling that there will come a day when I am more planned out in a process and procedure for learning.  I know the Lord will lead us into that which is right for us.  However, right now, I just don’t know what that looks like.  I don’t want to neglect, and I don’t want to push.  I want to foster Mason’s natural love for learning and foster new experiences.  There are times I am overwhelmed and wonder just what have I gotten myself into!  I know this is the path for us, and the path I desire to take.  I must also say that at times, I feel completely ill equipped for the journey that is ahead.  Yet I know, all is not lost and we are doing ok.  I think.

Week-in-Review

Handwriting:

Fall Tracing Sheet

all about fall image

Numbers

  • I noticed this week that Mason was having some trouble writing numbers, which he had been doing well with.  So, we used a writing workbook from the store that has pages to trace and write numbers.

Reading: 

Fall Word Search

  • Again we used the All About Fall pack mentioned above.  We used page 15, which is a fall word search.  I wasn’t exactly sure how he would do with this, since it was a little more involved than other word searches we have done.  He did great, and we were able to talk about each word and how it pertained to Autumn.  Score!

Science:

Season Characteristics – Fall Trees

  • Page 8, in the All About Fall pack, is a tree color-by-number sheet.  I was doing this more as an arts-and-crafts type project, but while coloring we ended up talking about two types of trees – those that lose their leaves and evergreens that  stay green through the winter.  A wonderful blend of art and science!

Image courtesy of Feelart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Comfort Zone

A trend is developing in our lessons.  

I find it easy and natural to quickly prepare math and language arts lessons, two areas in which I feel comfortable and confident.  I have seen this trend developing for a few weeks now, but didn’t give it much thought.  Armed with this observation, I am going to challenge myself to bring in a few more science and social studies based activities (areas I do not gravitate to naturally).

The coming of Fall is lending me a helping hand in this area.  One of our kindergarten standards in science is to describe characteristics of the four seasons.  So, we have already done a lot of talking about the Fall – change of weather, leaves changing color, leaves falling, wearing jackets, etc.  I downloaded a cute Fall pack from www.servingjoyfully.com.  It is a great resource of really cute activities.

all about fall image

In printing out and using this Fall pack, I made note that many of the activities were review for Mason (4 yrs).  However, more pages than I expected would interest Madison (2 yrs).  This is a great shift for all of us, I simply need to expand my searching in regards to lessons for Mason, and begin making a more conscious effort to think of activities on Madison’s level.

Week-in-Review

Math:  

Basic Facts Addition Practice – Addition Blackout

  • Write the numbers 2-12 on a piece of paper.  Roll two dice and add the numbers showing.  Cover up or mark off the number on your sheet that matches the sum rolled.  The first person to cover or mark off all the answers wins.

Basic Facts Addition Practice – Addition Bingo

  • We used the portion of the game that focuses on addition facts 1s – 5s.  The answers are on the BINGO cards, and the question cards have simple addition questions such as 1 + 4.

bingo copy

Reading: 

Sight Word Practice

  • Mason used the PowerPoint for Dolch sight words, Kindergarten List 1.  More details about the list and download option, here.

(K)List1 image

  • We then made a sight word “parking lot” to match the words on this new list.  Below is an example parking lot picture, but not the one that actually matches the (K)List 1 words.  Click here for more details on the “parking lot”.

Sight Word parking

Science:

Season Characteristics – Fall Trees

  • I went on a search for cut-and-paste activities, and this Fall Leaves download came across my path.  It is so simple and perfect.  As the kiddos are cutting and glueing, it gives a great opportunity to discuss fall characteristics such as leaves changing and falling, weather growing colder and more rainy, etc.  Not to mention, I absolutely loved seeing the artwork side of things, and how differently their pictures turned out.

MandM fall trees

The New

This was a week of new things.

In my many Google searches for educational resources, lapbooks keep coming to the forefront.  For those who aren’t familiar with such things, it seems that lapbooks are file folder games on steroids!  They are one or more folders folded and glued in such a way to create a book of activities that kids can complete and/or revisit time and time again.  They can house informational booklets, pictures, word searches, mazes, small games and activities.  You name it, and it can likely be housed in a lapbook.

With that, I thought what a great way to introduce a new topic.  Once I had decided this is what I wanted to do, I found a fun free lapbook, downloaded it and got stuck.  All of a sudden, it was overwhelming to see all the information that was in the lapbook, as well as the explanations of how to build the thing.  It was too much.  So after several days, I decided to simply do one of the activities that looked fun and useful from the math lapbook I had downloaded.

This is when I realized the key.

You don’t have to (and probably aren’t supposed to) complete the whole lapbook and then present it to the child!  You do the activities and then secure them in the lapbook as you go, a way to organize and store them.  Wow.  So simple, and yet very revelatory for me!  So the week before last we did a math BINGO game and this week a basic addition game, which both made it into our math lapbook.

This past week our family started the celebration of Feast of Tabernacles which continues through part of this week.  Being our first themed “unit” of such, we placed our activities into a Feast of Tabernacles lapbook.  Most of our lessons this week revolved around learning the history of the Israelites journey from Egypt to the Promised Land, as well as why we celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:33-43) – to celebrate that the Lord dwells or “tabernacles” within us through Holy Spirit, as He did with the Israelites in the wilderness, Solomon’s temple, and as He dwelt with us through the person Jesus.

Feast of Tabernacles activities/lapbook (so far):

  • Day 1 – build a sukkah (tent, or temporary dwelling) – This was much fun and we used it as a time to discuss the word sukkah and its meaning both as a simple vocabulary lesson, as well as how it tied into how the Israelites lived during their transition time to the Promised Land.

IMG_1311

  • Day 2 – coloring sheet and activity of how the Israelites camped around the tabernacle – I found a black and white image online and printed it for the kids to color (I would share, but I didn’t find any license and/or copyright terms.).  Then I created a fun matching activity to learn where each of the twelve tribes camped around the tabernacle.  Mason really liked this.  We first tried to match it from the coloring page, but the angle didn’t work so well.  This led to tweaking the final product which you can download below, which includes the first letters of each of the tribes – helping Mason match the tribes to where they camped.  We secured the coloring sheet and the Israelite camp activity into a lapbook.  I also made a small pocket to secure into the lapbook in which we could keep the tribe pieces.

day2

(click to download Israelite camp puzzle and tot version)

  • Day 3 – read and discuss the “God Tabernacles With Us” booklet – This is a simple flip booklet that we attached to our lapbook.  We used it to discuss how the presence of God first dwelt with the Israelites, “God’s People”, in the tabernacle, and then temple, then Jesus, then within us through Holy Spirit.

fot booklet

(click to download booklet)

  • Day 4 – Feast of Tabernacle word tracing – I created a sheet of tracing words that pertain to the Feast of Tabernacles.  I cut the side off a page protector and glued it to the back of the lapbook.  This way Mason can trace them over and over again.  We discussed each word as he wrote it.

fot tracing

(click to download word list)

  • Day 5 – look at a map showing the route of the Exodus – I found a map that was simple enough to not get bogged down in details (or unknown details).  We traced the map with our fingers, discussed the parting of the Red Sea with Moses, Mt. Sinai, and the parting of the Jordan River with Joshua (actually the priests as they stepped into the river).  We also discussed map facts such as how to tell land from water, and you could easily add in north, south, east, west, legends, etc.

These are the actual days lessons we have completed.  I am thinking that the next couple of lessons will be looking at and discussing Solomon’s temple, and discussing Jesus’ birth (which may well have been at the time of Feast of Tabernacles).  Pics of our fun:

Week-in-Review (other than the above unit!)

Math:  

Basic Facts Addition Practice – Addition Blackout

  • Write the numbers 2-12 on a piece of paper.  Roll two dice and add the numbers showing.  Cover up or mark off the number on your sheet that matches the sum rolled.  The first person to cover or mark off all the answers wins.

Introduction to 3-digit numbers – impromptu

  • I noticed Mason was playing a lot of games that involved three digit numbers, so we began to stop and work on how to say the numbers correctly when they appeared – wii sports game scores, Monopoly, numbers in the car such as speed and our gas milage (destination to empty) display.  This will likely turn into a more focused lesson this week.

Number Quantity

  • This was for Madison (2yrs), but Mason found it fun as well.  I numbered the places in an egg carton from 1-12.  Then, the correct number of beads are to be placed in each space.  It was difficult to get the beads out of the egg carton, so we used measuring spoons.  The kids thought this was a blast and the beads soon became “ice creams”, and they were scooping ice cream into and out of the carton!

sensory duo

Reading: 

Sight Word Practice

  • Mason’s reading has really been progressing recently, so I thought it would be good to begin to add to his sight words.  Using the Dolch sight words, I created a PowerPoint.  Each Power Point presentation is comprised of 10 sight words and a sentence to accompany each of the words.  This could be a great way to do a spelling list if desired.
  • I hooked the computer to display on our TV and Mason thought it was the greatest!  I will definitely be creating more of these Power Point presentations in the near future.

two slides

click to download List 1 and List 2

Just Do It

I have recently found myself caught up in a whirlwind of stuff.  There are so many free activities, lessons, units, etc.  This is a good problem.  However, I find myself looking for…

the next best thing 

I have a difficult time settling on an activity because what if the next link I click is the perfect one!  This week I have been brought back to a place of just do it.  We are definitely not short of time at the moment.  So, without wasting our time, I can do that great activity I found AND we can still do the “perfect” activity if it happens to be a click away.

As an example, I had downloaded a “limited time” free addition activity.  I wasn’t completely sure if Mason would like it or not.  Finally, I decided to just do it.  It was time to stop deliberating and decide to move forward.  He loved it!  It was an addition bingo game that is part of an addition and subtraction lapbook designed by Cyndi Kinney at knowledgeboxcentral.com.  He played it 3 or 4 nights in a row.  It was something he could do with me during the day, as well as sharing a game with Daddy after dinner.  It was amazing.  Throughout the week, Mason did over one hundred basic addition facts simply by playing BINGO.

bingo copy

Much of the uncertainty comes down to the fact that I have never before walked this road called homeschooling.  After ten years of teaching, I knew my curriculum.  I knew the “best practices” of teaching middle schoolers.  I knew the type of activities that really worked, and those that were big flops.  What I am having to remind myself is that I didn’t learn that overnight.   And so I am reminded and comforted with:

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” – Isaiah 30:21

There is grace on this journey.  Mistakes are lessons in learning.  We, as a family, get to learn together in the complete grace of the Lord.  Blessings.

Week-in-Review

Math:  

Basic Facts Addition Practice – Bingo

  • This is the activity described above.  We used the portion of the game that focuses on addition facts 1s – 5s.  The answers are on the BINGO cards, and the question cards have simple addition questions such as 1 + 4.  This is ultimately part of an addition and subtraction lapbook, that we will be putting together as we complete each activity.

Handwriting:

Tracing Letters

  • We are still making our way through the learning workbooks that have come at birthdays and Christmas and such.  Mason did a few more of these alphabet pages.

Disney alphabet book copy

Reading: 

Audio Book

  • I have been wanting an audio book for Mason to follow.  Not finding any I liked at the library, we happened across the CD that accompanies his children’s Bible.  He sat and followed along better than I expected.

Story Sequencing

  • Using the Blue’s Clues story sequencing cards (that I purchased in college!), Madison “sorted” the cards for him, while Mason put the four part stories in the proper sequence.
  • This was a great sorting activity for Madison.  She loves to find ways to be a part of it!

sequencing

Sight Word Practice

  • Mason’s reading has really been progressing recently, so I thought it would be good to begin to add to his sight words.  Using the Dolch sight words, I created a PowerPoint.  Each Power Point presentation is comprised of 10 sight words and a sentence to accompany each of the words.  This could be a great way to do a spelling list if desired.
  • I hooked the computer to display on our TV and Mason thought it was the greatest!  I will definitely be creating more of these Power Point presentations in the near future.

two slides

click to download List 1 and List 2

Word Fishing

  • From cardstock, I cut out eighteen 3″x4″ cards.  I drew six pictures that were ‘S’ words (snake, sock, etc), six pictures that were ‘M’ words, and six pictures that were ‘D’ words.  I then put a paper clip on each card and put them on the floor in a “pond”.  I attached a string and magnet to a pencil for both Mason and Madison – creating “fishing poles”.
  • Then the fishing began!  The objective was to first catch all the ‘S’ words.  If one was caught that was not an ‘S’ word, he would have to throw it back.  They both loved this activity as well!

Arts/Crafts:

Foil ‘Sun’ 

  • Mason is very interested in the sun, moon, stars, planets, space etc.  So as an art project, found in Alphabet Art by Judy Press, I cut out the letters s-u-n and several rectangles of foil.
  • Mason glued the foil to the letters and we will hang it as a mobile in his room.
  • There was also a flavor of Spelling to this.  I placed the letters on the table (out of order, stacked on top of each other) and asked Mason what word he could make.

sun

Day-by-Day

Keeping it honest here,

I will have to say that I did not put much effort into a focus of “schooling” last week.  In preparation to write this post, I started to reflect on last week and realized – I don’t remember a whole lot about it!  You know those weeks, where you just live it.  You walk through it and press on.  I love how the Lord prevails and toward the end of the week, I was able to come out from under the fog.

Last week, I decided that it would be fun to work within a theme of the Sun.  I did a little searching online, but as the last post stated sometimes there is just Too Much Help to wade through on the internet.  There are many units out there about the solar system, but not many just focusing on the sun.  I was having a hard time even knowing where to begin or what to do.  We did a craft or two, but it was a sensory activity that helped move me forward.

We poured out a good amount of regular table salt onto a cookie sheet (saw this on the web).  Mason enjoyed this and started writing his name, letters, and such.  Then I had the idea – the Sun theme.  I asked him to draw a sun.  Then I asked him to write a word that described the sun… he wrote ‘hot’.  Yes! I had a feeling I was onto something here.  He continued to come up with words to describe the sun.  Wow, a spelling activity within the theme of the Sun.  No striving, just flowing.

salt letters

There is a small part of me that wants to have a beautiful, complete, out-of-this-world (pun intended!) unit put together.  Yet, I know this is not needed, nor do I have the extra time in life right now to create one up front.  In the meantime, we will walk day by day exploring our sun, moon, stars, comets…

What activities would you suggest for a Sun theme?

Week-in-Review

Math:  

Counting Practice

  • While cleaning our utility room, I found a roll of Thomas the Tank Engine stickers.  Mason thought they were amazing and quickly stretched them as far as they would go on the couch.  Seizing the opportunity, I asked him to count them.

Recognizing Patterns

  • With the roll of Thomas stickers, there were over 30 on the roll.  I noticed there was a pattern every six stickers.  I asked Mason to find the pattern.
  • I also asked him how he knew the pattern was starting over.  I want to better understand how he is recognizing patterns.

stickers1

Basic Addition, Crayola Pad

  • A sheet of basic addition problems, purchased at Wal-Mart.

Crayola practice pad

Science:

  • We created a Solar System mobile.  This was a mixture of several activities that I had seen from an art book Adventures in Art by Susan Milord, and two other crafts online.  The mobile was a spiral mobile.  We made a circle of cardstock and stapled it together for the top – we used yellow paper to represent the sun.  The planets hang down each one a little bit farther to represent the distance that each planet is away from the sun.  I chose to use a smaller hole punch so that we could simply knot the ribbon behind the hole.  This was a fun way to work on the order of the planets.  Also, a great way to revisit the order time and time again.

planet mobile

Sensory Activity: 

Salt Letters (mentioned in post above)

  • We place a good amount of salt on a cookie sheet – Mason then went about drawing pictures, as well as letters, numbers, his name, etc.
  • I also classified this as a Spelling activity since he started writing words describing the sun.

And again, Mason worked on his calendar activities from RoyalBaloo.com throughout the week which covers some Handwriting, and Math – graphing, shapes, number awareness.

desk

Expansion

By some standards, we did not accomplish much this week.  

There were definitely more activities left undone than completed.  However, what we lacked in quantity we made up for in quality.  The art teacher from the middle school came and shared some activities with Mason and Madison.  It was a great change of pace for the kids and wonderful for me to experience the expansion that comes from inviting others to be a part of our education journey.

She brought a few canvas boards.  Two had masking tape in the shape of an ‘M’.  One for Mason, one for Madison.  After laying out supplies, Mason and Madison went about filling the canvas with acrylic paint.  When dry, we removed the tape and had an original masterpiece for each.

Mason & Madison canvas

Then, she gave Mason a smaller canvas board and allowed him to place the tape wherever he wanted.  I’ll have to admit, at this point I had to concentrate on keeping my hands off the tape.  I absolutely loved his creation, and he was thrilled with his painting.

Mason freestyle canvas

I know that the arts are an area that is so easy to push aside for the more “necessary” subjects.  This experience confirmed in me that the arts will be very much a part of our education.  It not only gave my children an opportunity to express themselves in their own way, but it also allowed me to see the beautiful uniqueness that is Mason and Madison.

Week-in-Review

Math completed:  Dice math (one day), Roman Numeral lesson (impromptu, pictured below)

Handwriting Completed: none – though the dice math gave practice for writing numbers

Reading Completed:  none

Arts/Crafts Completed:  Canvas paintings, clay bowl created (with the art teacher to be fired in the kilm)

Mason saw an activity in the book Big Book of Math by Dinah Zike.  It was a foldable that helped with recognizing Roman Numerals.  I have known that we will soon begin working on clock activities and since all of the analog clocks in my house have roman numerals this activity seemed a great place to start:

Roman Numeral accordian

Up-and-Coming:  Activities this Week

Math:

Handwriting:

  • Trace Building Words
  • Triangle/Square Tracing Practice
  • Practice Writing our Last Name

Reading:

Arts/Crafts:

Following Footsteps

Something that I am enjoying, and sometimes find challenging, is Madison’s desire to be right up there with Mason doing learning activities.  I know this is a wonderful thing, yet at times it seems daunting to me.  I think the main issue is that I need to find a time to better plan activities for both.  With Mason, I had never done any prepping for activities when he was two (Madison’s current age).  We simply played and our playing was the learning.  With Madison we of course still mainly learn through playing, but when she sees her older brother doing these wonderful activities –

she wants everything to do with it!

It took me this week to see that I am capable to include both of my children, knowing each of their strengths, areas to grow, interests and developmental stages.  Madison wants to be involved, that is natural.  It had simply never even crossed my radar to have activities ready for her as well, at the age of two. I suppose I expected her to go about her playing while Mason and I worked at the table.  This week however, as Mason was working on a tangram activity, I offered it to Madison.  Knowing she was not able to complete the same puzzles as Mason, I quickly traced the individual pieces, in various orientations, onto a piece of cardstock.  When I gave it to Madison to work on, I was encouraged.  She knew exactly what to do and easily placed a few of the pieces, while others we are still working on.

Madison tangram copy

Perfect.

This activity included her in what Mason was doing, yet it hit right at her learning and developmental level.  It was a reminder to me that the adaptations which need to take place in order to include both children, even at varying ages, are often quick and simple.  While I don’t see myself making “formal” lesson plans for Madison yet, I will begin to think ahead regarding her involvement in the same areas/activities of learning.

Week-in-Review

Math completed:  Star Wars Roll & Graphing, Size Sequencing, Tangram buildings.

Handwriting Completed: Star Wars Letters Tracing

Reading Completed:  Review Site Words, Word Sundaes

Arts/Crafts Completed:  Q-Tip Flag

Mason really enjoyed the tangrams and spent a couple of days with different puzzles we found.  Click here for the free download of Madison’s Toddler Tangram sheet – I created a cleaner digital version.  The Toddler Tangram sheet will fit a tangram set that has a 1.5″ small square piece.  If you don’t have a tangram set or yours don’t fit, simply print another sheet on cardstock and cut the shapes out.  Some of our activities:

Mason tangram   Word Sundae pic   Mason flag   Madison flag

Up-and-Coming:  Activities this Week

Math:

  • Dice Math x 2 days
  • Measuring common items using 1″ plastic color tiles,  (print and cut to create your own)

Handwriting:

  • Trace Building Words
  • Buildings Matching worksheet
  • Triangle/Square Tracing Practice
  • Practice Writing our Last Name

Reading:

  • Review Sight Words
  • Word Families
  • Reading Simple Sentences and Drawing Pictures to Illustrate – based on our sight words

Arts/Crafts:

  • Guest teacher coming to the house
  • Guest teacher coming to the house

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