Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

DD#1 found this little guy (well I don't know if it is a guy or not) chilling out in a puddle in the street.{I know, I know this is supposed to be Wordless Wednesday but I just can't help it} :)


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Money in a Fish

I love teaching toddlers and preschoolers. For the past 8 weeks, our small group has been learning about the miracles of Jesus. This past week we did the Miracle of the Fish and the Coin found in Matthew 17:24-27. I used The Beginner's Bible: Timeless Children's Stories to tell the story.

Usually I don't have a problem finding suitable activities/printables already made on the internet. But for this miracle, I was having a problem finding something that preschoolers could make that wouldn't take long. I remembered making a fish out of paper plates years ago when working in a daycare center. When I found giant plastic coins, I knew this would work (and I'm probably not the first one to think of this either--lol). You can make this craft as neat or as messy as you would like. For my preschooler class, we used crayons. For my toddler, I decided to let her paint (and it was her first time painting!)

The Supplies:
2 paper plates
2 giant wiggle eyes
crayons, markers or paint

Holding the two plates together rim to rim (so that it is 3-D), cut out a large triangle for the mouth.

Next staple around the edge of the plate. Staple one of the triangles on the back for the tail-fin.

Decorate the fish any way you want. You can use crayons, markers, paint glitter--whatever floats your boat. :)

These are the "ginormous" coins I found at the Dollar Tree. So they aren't a drachma coin, but I think they are pretty cool. They really are big. I like that I don't have to worry about my dd swallowing them. She can easily pull it out of the fish's mouth when retelling the story. If you can't find them, you can use any Plastic Gold Coins.

Next glue the eyes and other fin onto the fish. Place a coin in its mouth and you have a perfect prop for telling and retelling the story.

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I actually created this poster awhile ago, but ran across it again in my files while looking for some photos (I love my Target-find clock and Photoshop.) I made this when I felt like I was being sucked into the computer-surfing time warp. That's when you go to look up something quickly, and before you know it you've been on the computer for an hour (Don't tell me I'm the only one who has experienced this--lol) Since I've restarted my blog, this has been occurring every so often. So I'm trying to balance my blogging/digital scrapbooking/web-surfing time with my normal daily responsibilities (you know, stuff like laundry, cooking, cleaning and homeschooling.) Right now it seems like the time I'm giving up the most is sleep time. So I'm off to bed...see ya in the morning.

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Toddler School 4/20-25

Sunday is recap day at the Tot School website. Click on the link above to see what others are doing.

I am so thankful for good friends and groups to learn with together. Most of the formal activities that we did this week, we did during our co-op group.

One of DD#3's favorite thing to do is dress-up. Whenever we go to our co-op group, she is in dress-up heaven! On this particular day she sported the fluffy bunny ears and the superhero cape.

Lil Sis even joined in the dress-up fun! She looks like she's ready for a showdown ;)

DD#3 has been interested in learning body parts. I tried to explain that we have a heart inside our body. She listened for several seconds, but had more fun talking into the stethoscope instead. :)
In our co-op group, the little ones do a few music activities each week. DD#3 absolutely loved using the different rhythm instruments. She did a pretty good job with those rhythm sticks! My friend does a great job working with them. We try to do something music-related each week at home too---even if it is just singing and marching to the beat. (I've posted some helpful music links at the bottom)
I thought about doing this transferring activity with her this week, but passed. The last time she scooped the dried peas into various containers, she had more fun intentionally missing the containers. Peas bouncing off the cookie tray all over the table and the floor fascinated her. I think she missed the point of the activity :) I may reconsider and add this in her workbox for this upcoming week since we'll have some nice weather. Now I know to move this activity outside.

Preschool Music Links

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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Blast from the Past

Today we celebrated my mom's 60th birthday, which meant last night I stayed up late finding photos to display at her party. :) I knew that many of my photos were starting to fade, but several I noticed that if I didn't save them soon, they would be gone. The photo of my mom, brother and I was one of them. As you can tell, it is really pink. There are several ways to go about saving a fading photo:

1. Scan the photo at 300 dpi. Open up a photo-editing program and convert to black and white. Crop if necessary and then save.

2. Take a photo of the photo. Yep, that's what I did. My scanner is buried under papers right now, and since I do most of my work on my laptop, I would have to bring my laptop over to the scanner (well clean off the scanner first) and plug the scanner into my laptop---way too much work for a last-minute project. So taking a picture was the easiest route to go. There is a technique for doing this though. You want to shoot in natural light and not use a flash, and you need to be directly over the photo shooting down. I placed the photo on the floor and snapped the photo.

I use Photoshop Elements, and since fading was the issue, I took the easy route and converted it to black and white. I messed with the levels and did an overlay using "multiply" in order to bring out some of the faded details. You could also convert the faded photo back to the original colors, but that seemed like too much work and the black and white looked good. :)

If all that sounded too complicated--just ignore it :) But I do encourage you to look through some of your old photos and see if any need saving. And for extra points, I dare you to journal about what you remember about the photo. More often it isn't the photos that fade, but the stories behind them.


P.S. -- My friend Cassie has a great tutorial to walk you through saving photos that might have scratches and tears. Besides being a great reference and resource--it is on sale this weekend :) Click the photo for details.

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Drawing Nature

I'm sure I'm not the only one who has come across a good idea, thought that they should implement it, but didn't. That is what happened with nature journaling and our family. I had heard about nature journaling/nature studies from reading articles on Charlotte Mason. The thought of letting kids be outside to explore, observe and study nature on their own was something I strongly agreed with in theory---but just never got around to putting it into practice.

I decided that this spring would be the perfect time to start our botany unit and nature studies. We have all our unit pages going in a 3-ring binder, so for their nature drawings/observations, I have the kids take a piece of cardstock outside with colored pencils. Then when they are done they can place the drawing in a page protector. I have been pleasantly surprised that ds has been the one most interested. At first I thought he only wanted to do it in order to get outside and get away from all the "school" stuff. But he is really putting thought and hard work into his pages. And I think that the change of scenery is good for all of us. We were stuck in a rut--and needed to get some fun back into learning. This method is helping! When I get my scanner unearthed from the mounds of paper covering it, I'll share some of his observations.
Now I know that they are supposed to be outside observing nature, but on this particular day, DS determined that he was too cold and brought his sample of a non-vascular plant (aka moss) in with him (I'm sure Charlotte Mason would have sent him back outside---lol)

I know others go more in-depth with their nature studies, but this is a good start for us. I'm learning right along with them. In fact, I hope to post my digital versions of nature studies in the near future. For me, my art tool of choice is my camera and I plan to digital scrap my observations. I might even hand over my camera and let the kids give it a try too. Digital scrapbooking isn't just for adults ;) Until then, here are some resources I've found that can help you start your own nature studies.

Nature Studies/Nature Journaling Resources:
What is Nature Journaling? -- lots of links here
Nature Journaling Notebook pages
The Outdoor Hour-- wonderful challenge on this blog--also samples of nature study pages

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Happy Earth Day!

This year we have been working on becoming a little more "green" in our household. We started our own compost bin made from an old plastic tub. It is so rewarding to see our fruit and veggie peels, egg shells, and newspapers start to become dirt! My oldest DD is particularly helpful in keeping up the compost bin. She makes sure that things make it in there--even if it would be easier to just throw them away in the kitchen garbage can. We are at the point where we need to start another bin. That just might be one of the projects the kids do today. Here are some instructions to get started: Decorate Your Own Compost Bin

The other small step we've taken is to get our rain barrel set up. I got it at a Garden Fair last year and we finally put it in place this week. It was perfect timing as we had rain! I was excited to see how it worked, so after a night of rain I went to check on the rain barrel. When I looked inside---it was empty and the ground around it was saturated with water. Looking at the bottom of the barrel it was plain to see that someone left the water flow knob on. So when the water came into the barrel, it went right out the hose into the grass. Now everyone knows not to touch Mom's rain barrel. :)

These are just a couple of small steps we have been taking. I've purchased a couple of reusable/cloth grocery bags, but I keep forgetting to bring them into the store with me. That's my next goal--to remember the bags. :) Oh, speaking of bags, don't forget to stop at Walgreen's tomorrow to pick one up: Walgreen's Coupon. I also hope to get my garden going this year! So far we have some herbs growing in our front window. This is all new territory for me--so I'll probably be asking for lots of tips.

As for official Earth Day activities that my family will be doing tomorrow---we'll be doing them on the fly (I'm good at that ;) )

So have a Happy Earth Day! I'd love to hear what you all did.

Here are some Earth Day resources:

Earth Day Crafts from Kaboose

Earth Day Game - early readers from Star Fall

Coloring Page of the Earth from ABC Teach

Earth Day Activities from DLTK Kids

Tons of Earth Day Ideas--from lapbooks to arts and crafts

Like that Earth Day Card?
Yes, I am a green scrapper too ;) I created it using digital supplies from the following ladies:
Have A Heart Vol. 2 by Pattie Knox
Fasten Its No. 2 by Pattie Knox --coming soon!
OuterSpace Page Set by Anna Aspnes -- coming soon!
Lifted Wings by Katie Pertiet (butterfly)
MailRoom No. 1 by Katie Pertiet
Meadow Ridge Kit by Katie Pertiet (Leaf)
Botanist Notebook No. 23 by Katie Pertiet (branch)

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Digital Layouts-Downloadable Lessons

(I created this layout by following Cassie Jone's Laying It All Out No. 14 Tutorial Kit )

I'm often asked how to digital scrap. I could try to explain it all, but Cassie Jones has done such a better job at it with her tutorial kits. If you use Photoshop Elements or Photoshop, her tutorials are a valuable resource. So why buy when there are a ton of free how-to's to be found on the web?

1. It is convenient and time-saving to not have to do a web search to find a certain technique.

2. The tutorials are a full kit. It includes all the digital elements needed to create a full layout using whatever technique you want to learn.

3. The lessons are so thorough! Cassie explains things well and includes step-by-step screen shots to walk you through the lesson. The lesson that I used to create the layout in this post was over 50 pages long! That might sound overwhelming--but it wasn't. It was full of screen-shots, tips, and instructions broken down into easy-to-read sections. The lesson was very easy to follow along.

4. If you get stuck, you can easily contact her on the message boards and she is so willing to help.
Here are a couple of my favorite:

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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Toddler Time Week in Review 4/13-4/18

This was a pretty relaxed week for us. After having several days of rain, we finally had some nice days! DD#3 spent alot of time outdoors just naming the things she saw, playing on the playground, and riding her toy cars.

Since most of our spring flowers have already bloomed, DD has been smelling everything that is growing. She smelled these and told me they smelled like dirt--lol.

DD#3 has been having some jealousy issues with her younger sister, so we've been working on that as well. As you can see, at this moment she was being very loving---even if little sis didn't enjoy it. :)

One new thing that DD has done this week is ask to pray. She specifically asks to pray for Dad's Jeep. The only words we can understand in her prayer are the words, "Dad's Jeep," and "Amen." I'm sure the Father knows exactly what she is saying though :)

We also did lots of singing(and lots of singing of silly songs that I just make up on the fly), some reading, and spent way too much time watching Barney (she is on such a Barney kick right now!)


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Farm Fun

Carisa over at Tot School challenged moms to take pictures of their toddler's week and then post a summary of the week on Sunday. Well I'm late, but I thought this would be a good motivator to get my pics. off my card and posted. When I glanced through what photos I had taken of last week, I saw a theme. You would probably think I planned it---being the good educator mommy that I am ;) Guess what, I didn't. That happens to me alot. I think when I pray for God to direct my day, He does and then later I see how things fit together! :)

Earlier last week I was wandering Target when I found the cutest foam animal lacing set. Since I was looking for things to add to DD3's workbox, I picked them up.

She really was more interested in pointing to the sheep's eye than lacing. One step at a time I suppose :)

Our town held its annual Farm Festival. I have to admit that I wasn't looking forward to attending because I already had a sinus headache and knew the hay and animals would make it worse. I decided to go because I knew that DD#3 would love it. For many reasons, I am so glad we did go.

I wish I could have really captured her expression the first time she petted the goat. The owner was so tickled by her response. She was in awe of the little creature.

Then later in the week, totally forgetting all the farm stuff, I started working on a magnet set for DD#3's workbox. Using my digital supplies, I created a farm set for her. The older kids drew a big farm scene on the dry-erase board and she played with it there. She also played with it on a cookie tray. (I'll have a post explaining how to make your own set later this week).

So those were some of DD#3's educational highlights!


Homeschool Share Blast!


I was so thrilled when I came across Homeschool Share at the beginning of the year. According to their FAQ,"Homeschool Share (HSS) is a on-line cooperative effort of several homeschooling moms to provide free but quality literature-based unit studies and resources." They have lapbooking,notebooking, unit study ideas and printables available to you for free! Not only that, but most units are based around living books, which is what we use in our homeschool. This website has been such a great resource to me.

Right now they are having their HSS Blast contest, which is a fun way to motivate and reward people for sharing their creations. I plan on giving it a try---if I can think of a topic! LOL!

So I hope you'll check it out and maybe consider submitting something to the site. The official contest rules, sponsors and prizes can be found here: HSS Blast!

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Friday, April 10, 2009

The Colors of Easter

Every year I try to remind my kids (and myself) that for us, Easter is more than jelly beans and Easter egg hunts. I have this master list of cool Easter ideas to do with my kids(here's a list of Easter lapbooking ideas)I don't know where the time went, but I haven't done a single thing with them this year! In fact, those eggs in the picture above were done via digital egg coloring! I didn't want to deal with the mess this year.

So while I was thinking about Good Friday and Easter, I was reminded of what we spent the last fall sememster learning. It was in fact, reminding them of Easter. We have a small group of homeschool friends that we get together with each week. This past fall/winter, one of the things we worked on as a group was learning the Wordless Book. Each child made a book and a bracelet, learned the scriptures that went along with it, and practiced sharing the story. It's such a simple yet life-changing story. (Click here to read the Wordless Book Story)

Wordless Book Resources:

Here is a list of websites and printables that I came across that I'd thought I'd share.

-- We made our own Wordless books out of construction paper.

The Gospel Glove is another way to share the story

Lap-n- note pages by Jfeliciano @
Word-less book1

Wordless Book2

Green Page: Grow by Mozer

Verse cards by Mozer

A cool wordless book preschool poem on the Hayes Happenings blog.

When I was searching the web, I had never heard the wordless book song. I found this on Youtube:
The Wordless Book Song

I also found this resource after our class. I haven't heard the song, so I'm not sure if it is the same as above or different, but I thouht I'd list it as a resource.

The Scripture Lady Sings the GospelCD

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Thursday, April 9, 2009

Stuck in Traffic

DD#4 trying to squeeze through, but got stuck.


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Workbox System Here We Come!

One popular organizational system floating around on numerous homeschool message boards is the Workbox System by Sue Patrick. I am so glad that I'm not the only one who needs some help organizing their school day! I have so many great ideas but I get sidetracked, forget I have the items, forget to check their work etc. This system is a visible way to help the teacher and the student know what to do during their day.

Right now I am working on customizing this system to work with my family's needs. I've decided to go with the racks, just because I feel like my kids need the actual visual reminder of the boxes. I still need to go get the boxes and print a few more things out, but I hope to have it up and running in our household after Easter. I'll post more about it then.

Here's an article called Working the Workboxes which lists different set-ups, links to free workbox printables and more.

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Monday, April 6, 2009

Copywork Comments

Yesterday my 2yr. old and 7yr. old were working nicely at the table. Ok, rewind---that's what I hoped was going on. At first glance it seemed like they were getting along. It turns out that the 7yr. had left to do something and came back to find the 2 yr. old in her seat (This happens daily). The 2yr. old was working quite well, drawing on some scratch paper. The 7yr. old took the paper and the 2yr. old yells, "THAT'S MY COPYWORK!" :)

Speaking of copywork, we have enjoyed using The Happy Scribe series as handwriting/copywork. I like that there are a variety of topics that can be easily integrated into whatever themes we are studying. Each download comes with 3 styles of handwriting, making it usable for all ages. Here is a free Pets download if you want to check them out.

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Playing with Playdough

DD#3 is two years old. At two, she thinks she should be able to do everything the big kids do. So when we are working on school stuff, she wants to be right in the middle of it. Sometimes that is a good thing---other times it's not. In order to keep her busy, one of the older kids has Toddler Time with her. On this particular day it was DS's turn to have Toddler Time with DD#3. It was the first time he was given this particular task, and I have to admit, I did not have a pre-planned activity. That thought scared me, so I quickly went through my idea file (aka--my brain) and rummaged through my cabinets to see if I had all the stuff to make playdough. Yes! I actually had cream of tartar on hand! Not only that, the kids had talked me into buying Koolaid packets at Aldi the other day (I rarely let them have it), so not only could I make playdough, but I could make scented playdough! :) The playdough was a big hit. In fact, I had to keep reminding the older kids that they needed to share some with their younger sister. I will definetly be adding playdough activities on the list of stuff to do during the week. And I've kept my homemade playdough in the fridge for several months with no problems.

Scented Playdough
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 package unsweetened Kool-Aid
1/4 cup salt
2 tablespoons cream of tartar
1 cup water
Mix flour, salt, cream of tartar and Kool-Aid® in a medium pot. Add water and oil. Stir over medium heat 3 to 5 minutes. When mixture forms a ball in pot, remove. Knead until smooth. Put in a plastic bag and refrigerate.

Even more playdough recipes

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Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Players

Spell Outloud Terminology:
DH --dad, well actually it stands (most of the time) for Darling Husband
DD --Darling Daughter
DS -- Darling Son

DD#1 is 10yrs. old
DD#2 is 7 yrs. old
DD #3 is 2 yrs. old
DD#4 is 8months old
DS, yes is the only boy, and he is 9 years old.

At some point, if things get really confusing, maybe I'll come up with cool codenames (I doubt it---as I'm just not that witty or clever) Most likely, I'll just use their real names. But for the time being, I'm just going to be using message board lingo. I hope you don't mind.


Thursday, April 2, 2009

Tuesday Tea on Thursday

Last year we started a tradition called Tuesday Tea. I wish I could take the credit for implementing such a clever idea, but I can't. I got the idea from the BraveWriter website. Basically, as a family you read poetry or books over tea. It is an intentional time to create a memory with your family while introducing them to good literature. Last year we did Tuesday Tea pretty faithfully. My mom even gave the kids their own china cups to use. My oldest DD likes to go all out for Tuesday Tea. She makes sure that we have some sort of baked good to eat (by either reminding me to make something or making something herself). She likes to pull out the tablecloth and artfully set the table (or picnic table) for this occasion. She makes it special.

So today since there was nothing to eat for breakfast, I decided to make a double batch of chocolate, chocolate chip muffins. I was not thinking "Tuesday Tea," well because one, we've been hit or miss with it all year long, and two, it was Thursday. The fragrant smell of muffins baking must have reminded DD about this tradition. Before I knew it, the picnic table was set, the muffins were carefully arranged on a plate and a pizza was baking (she decided to make it a tea/lunch). She even brought out the two Shakespeare books I had checked out from the library a month ago but never got to. [My intentions were to start a short 2-week Shakespeare unit--and do this annually-- so that my kids would have exposure and background information for when they had to read the real deal in a couple of years.] You know, I realized today that I missed doing Tuesday Tea, and learning about Shakespeare was kind of fun. I'm going to have to make a better effort to keep the tradition going.

Shakespeare Resources
We are just starting out this unit, so most of these resources I am hoping to get through within the next couple of weeks. If you know of any other good resources, I'd love to hear about them. Here's what I have found so far:


Resource Website:

Shakespeare's Storybook: Folk Tales that Inspired the Bard (I think my DD read the whole book today)

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