Monday, August 11, 2014

Lemonade Stand & Life Skills

This weekend the kids decided they wanted to set up a lemonade stand.  As a child I loved selling lemonade to the neighbors so with fond memories and a smile I readily agreed.

Old Crow immediately began by making a list of all the things we would need.  (He is definitely his mother's child!!)  We created a plan and made it happen.  

The cash register was filled with change.  The sign was created.  The lemonade and cookies were prepared to be served.  Smiles were ready to be shared.

During all of the preparation and during our sale, I noticed just how much learning could take place with a simple lemonade stand.

Money skills:  coin recognition, counting money, making change
Organizational skills: list making, gathering supplies
Advertising and promotion:  creating signs, balloons to draw attention
Manners & etiquette:  please, thank you, pleasant voices and tone, eye contact  
Character traits: patience (especially on a hot day and between customers), helpfulness
Work ethic: setting up, cleaning up, not leaving the job
Basic economics: earning a profit, pricing to sell

It was a lot of fun, a lot of work, and totally worth it!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Schoolroom: Where Life Happens

Being a former public school teacher, I began homeschooling over 3 years ago with the mentality that I would do school at home.  I had a room designated for school with bulletin boards, a calendar, tons of manipulatives, ABCs mounted on the name it and I had it.  I had EVERYTHING that one would find in a classroom for 20+ children.

Each year I found myself using less and less and spending less and less time in that school room. I realized that we were using our entire house to learn because that is where life happens.  In the kitchen.  In the living room. On the screened porch.  Not in a tiny school room shut off from the rest of the house.  Many people find that necessary, and it works for their family.  For my family and this season of life, it just wasn't working.

The majority of last year we used the kitchen counter and bar stools.  We enjoyed the kitchen and being in the main "hub" of the house.  So this summer, an idea came to me and the husband was on board.  We brought down the child-sized table and chairs from the upstairs schoolroom and plopped them in the sitting area next to the kitchen.  Now the kids can work comfortably without sitting on their knees.  The bookshelf, chairs, birdcage, and wood table were already there.  Books already filled the cabinets around the television.  It seems like the perfect plan.  One can hope! ;)  

The basket on the wooden table was also already in this area.  It holds our library books.

The bookshelf offers the perfect place to house the few things we do need daily.  A basket organizer for pencils, scissors, glue, etc.  I brought over the pencil sharpener and CD player as well.  The large baskets hold the kids' school books.

This year I did away with the rolling carts we had been using as workboxes.  I love the workbox idea, but this just simplifies our materials especially since this year I will use more of a block schedule.
Here is a look inside Crazy Horse's basket:  

Block 1: Math
Block 2: Listen to Mom Read
Block 3: Handwriting
Block 4: Reading & Piano
Block 5: CC Memory Work
*Once we begin Classical Conversations his CC notebook will be added.

Here is Old Crow's basket:
Block 1: Math
Block 2: Listen to Mom Read
Block 3: Writing & Grammar
Block 4: Piano & Reading
Block 5: CC Memory Work
*Once we begin Classical Conversations his CC notebook will be added.

I also added a basket with fun games and activities that correlate with our CC studies.  The kids will be free to grab anything that interests them. 

Books can also be found in the cabinets.

Here's a look in the kitchen where I keep my important materials.

In a corner of the kitchen I keep my teacher's guides, read alouds, calendar, lesson plans, etc.
Everything is easily accessible and right in the middle of where the action happens.  A drawer below holds CC materials and a few math manipulatives we use frequently.  A nearby closet holds our art/craft supplies and things we don't use daily.

Let's continue on with life and learning (wherever that may be).  :)

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Spring Project: Eggshell Planters

As spring and Easter approached, I remembered an activity my friend told me about several years ago...using egg shells as planters for grass seeds.  This is such an easy project for kids.  With just a little supervision they are able to practice "gardening", learn about plants/seeds, and welcome a new season.

I began by collecting eggshells.  I washed and rinsed them thoroughly, and I even sprayed them with Clorox Anywhere (we've met Salmonella before so I was super-cautious).  Once I had enough shells, we moved the project outdoors.  

An old egg carton helped keep the shells steady as the kids filled them with potting soil.  Then they sprinkled rye grass seeds over the soil and covered them with more soil.

This led to a discussion about what seeds need in order to survive and grow.  While the boys went off to ride bicycles, Memphis Belle and I headed inside to water our newly planted seeds.

We placed the egg planters in ceramic bunnies that I bought from Hobby Lobby several years ago.  We made sure they were close to a window for natural sunlight.  Each day the kids would check on their seeds.  After only a few days small, green sprouts could be seen.  The kids were so excited!

And they continued to grow and grow.

Save your eggshells, gather some seeds, and watch new life grow.


I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.  So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.
1 Corinthians 3:6-7

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Drawn into the Heart of Reading

Heart of Dakota has a special place in my heart.  We love that curriculum.  Although we have moved on to Classical Conversations, I have continued to use the reading program created by Heart of Dakota.  It is called Drawn into the Heart of Reading.  It has been a wonderful choice for Old Crow's 2nd grade reading curriculum.  It is a literature-based guide that covers genres, story elements, and Godly character traits.  It offers guided literature discussions, creative projects, vocabulary development, graphic organizers, and story maps.

Old Crow is currently in the adventure genre and is reading Stone Fox.  

To introduce the adventure genre, a treasure hunt is lots of fun and memorable.  Old Crow still remembers this treasure hunt from our adventure book last year.

Stone Fox ties in perfectly with our winter unit.  It introduced Old Crow to dog sledding.  He wasn't familiar with this so we researched online and found great Youtube videos of dog sled races.  We also watched Snow Buddies on Netflix.  Both sources gave the kids an accurate idea of dog sledding.

After Stone Fox we will move to the book, Dolphin Adventures.  I know Old Crow will love that one as well!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

It's Winter

The arctic blast blew through Georgia and brought with it freezing temperatures.  We were beginning our winter unit, and it couldn't have come at a better time...helping us experience winter in its pure form.  70 degree weather makes it hard to discuss winter. :)

So here are all things winter!


Our first night of below freezing temperatures, we set buckets of water outside to freeze overnight.  I placed a few toys in the water that they would have to "dig" out the next day.  Old Crow and I reviewed the freezing point.  When we noticed that the water had not completely frozen,  Dad reminded us that 32 degrees is the freezing point for pure water.  Impurities in the water can keep it from freezing unless at a lower temperature.  We made an educated guess that our water had some impurities.

They enjoyed feeling the ice and digging for their toys.

This also gave us the opportunity to discuss the states of matter.  We felt the ice and talked about how it was a solid.  We left the container of ice on our counter and watched it melt and turn to liquid.  After it had completely melted, we boiled it on the stove and watched the steam rise...creating our gas.
Solid, liquid, gas...all from one fun experience.

Crazy Horse and I read from an ABeka Kindergarten Science book about the different seasons.  He enjoyed playing a file folder game where he sorted various pictures and placed them in the correct season.

Sensory Activities

Our first attempt at making snow was a lot of fun for the kids...but extremely messy for me.  We made Sparkling Snow by mixing:
2 16 oz containers of corn starch
1 can shaving cream
White sparkling glitter, flakes, or confetti


Our next attempt at snow was much more life-like and MUCH cleaner!!!  We used Insta-Snow that I ordered from Amazon.  You can read more about our fun with Insta Snow here at my previous blog post.

We also made white slime from our trusty recipe that I first used back when we made green slime during our Grinch Unit.  Crazy Horse begs to make slime about every two weeks...that boy loves it!!!  
Directions for slime taken from Grinch Unit:

You mix 1 teaspoon of Borax powder with 1 cup of water.  Mix and set aside.  In a separate bowl mix a whole bottle of Elmer's glue (4 oz.) with 1/2 cup of water.  Add food coloring choice to the glue mixture (dont' add any to make white).  Mix well.  Then combine the glue mixture with Borax powder mixture.  Almost immediately the liquid will begin to form solids...perfect science lesson!  The more you knead and squeeze the more it will turn firm.  Pour out excess water and continue to squeeze!

Reading and Literature

Old Crow is currently reading Stone Fox and it is the perfect addition to our winter unit.  We enjoyed researching dog sled races to give us background knowledge for the book.  More to come on this soon! :)

We created a book basket with all of winter themed books.  We collected winter books from our house and checked out some from the library.  This basket was available so the kids could pull them to read at anytime.


We created our own snowmen art by making a white puffy paint.  We mixed equal parts glue and shaving cream.

I found that the younger two needed help in creating their snowmen.  So I created the 3 circles and then had them move the paint around until they were filled.  This gave them a template of sorts.

Once the paint dried, we pulled out our art materials and they had free reign to create their snowman.

Extra Fun

They loved pulling out the game, Don't Break the Ice, and it is a perfect addition to any winter unit.

Memphis Belle and I also enjoyed creating her snowman for her preschool class.  They sent home the snowman cutout from poster board and then each child could decorate it.  We had a lot of fun with this one.  It was her idea to cover it in the sparkly flakes that we had leftover from our sparkling snow activity. :)

Stay Warm,

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Qwirkle Fun

One of the boys received the game Qwirkle for their birthday, and it has recently become their favorite game.  They repeatedly said, "This is so much fun" and "This is the best game ever!"  They can validate the fun factor, and I think it is not too shabby as an educational game either.  It requires them to mentally strategize and offers practice in grouping by color or shape.


Along with the traditional game play, the tiles can be used for a variety of math skills.  Memphis Belle enjoyed sorting them by shape and color.

They can also be used for:
*Grouping by like attribute
*Comparison of groups
*Building Patterns
*Addition and Subtraction practice

Merry Qwirkling!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Instant Snow

For the past couple of weeks, we have been playing and creating with "winter."  Here in the South we don't get much of a winter (the arctic blast we had last week was a shocker) so the kids have enjoyed experimenting with "snowmen" and ice.  :)

Today we created snow, and it was definitely the highlight of our winter unit.  I bought a jar of Insta Snow from Amazon when I was online looking for another winter related activity.  It had great reviews so I thought I would give it a shot.

This one little can provided us with so much fun!!  A small scoop of powder and a little water...then snow began forming before our eyes.  It was even cool to the touch.  A perfect sensory activity!  It didn't take long for the kids to get their toys involved. Memphis Belle's ballerina danced in the snow and the boys acted out an avalanche with helicopter rescue. :)

It was super-easy to clean up (not at all like the sparkling snow we made earlier with corn starch...more on that later).  We can store it in a sealed container for several weeks, and tonight we are putting it in the freezer so we can have more life-like snow in the morning.

For the Classical Conversationers out there, this activity provided us with a great example of the states of matter.  We watched the liquid turn to a solid and compared the two different stages.  It also gave us the chance to practice our liquid equivalents. :)

Happy "Snow" Day,