Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Enjoying Dinner

Monday, September 28, 2009

Raising Rock Stars

Raising Rock Stars

I'm always in awe of moms who can homeschool, run multiple websites, maintain daily posts and still think up creative ideas and themes! Carisa from 1+1+1=1 is one of those ladies I admire.

Recently she posted about an idea she had about being intentional and laying a solid Biblical foundation in the lives of her children so that they can "shine like stars" and stand on Christ the solid rock. I love the idea! We have been doing our own studies through the years, but it will be nice to see what others are doing and have a little accountability.

One thing that we have been doing in our local co-op is keeping a Faith Journal. Basically the kids write down prayer requests and then write the date the prayers were answered. Sometimes they also write down the answered prayers of others in the group too. I work with the Kindergarten/1st grade group. Since most of the have a harder time writing, I made up a sheet for their Faith Journals. They draw a picture of an answered prayer or something they are praying about. Then they either write a short sentence by themselves or with adult help. I thought that maybe someone else might find this sheet useful too.

Faith Journal printable- early elementary

Faith Journal Printable


Wordless Book Nesting Cans & Song

Wordless Book

I had a couple questions about the song so my son helped me create this short video. Please excuse the singing--lol! See what I do for you all? ;)

I used a film cannister for the dark page, tomato sauce can, reg. soup can, large pork & bean can and then a big chicken broth can. I cut the paper to size and then ran it through my Xyron, which adds adhesive to the back of paper making it a sticker. I did find that burnishing the paper to the can helped the adhesive stick better (you can use a stylus or the back of a spoon to burnish the paper). If you don't have a Xyron, spray adhesive will work. Make sure you file any sharp points on the inside of the can so that no one cuts themselves.

Once done you can use more than one way:

--Tell the Wordless Book Story
--Sort objects according to color
--Practice arranging from smallest to largest and vice-versa, using the correct terminology (big, bigger, biggest etc.)

For more information on the Wordless book, check out my recent Wordless Book article.

I also created two more printables that could be used with the Wordless Book:

Jesus color-by-number
Jesus coloring page (for younger kids)


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Tot Schoool (34mo)

toddler schoolIt has been awhile since I've posted anything that we've done with dd#3. Now that we are kind of getting back in the school grove, I'm planning a few more intentional activities with her. I created a list of activities to choose from in order to cut down my planning time. This has helped me tremendously.

At the end of last week we went to the zoo. It was dd#3's first time going, so I was pretty excited to see her reactions to the animals. The zoo we went to was a small but very cute zoo. It was just the right size for a first zoo visit. The first animal she saw was a monkey and for some reason she was terrified. It took a little coaxing and assuring her that they couldn't get her before she agreed to be put down. After that she started enjoying the animals. We saw wallabies, chickens, goats, a llama, an eagle and probably some others but I can't remember at the moment. The zoo is under construction with a few more exhibits planned, but I loved that it was something you could do in an hour or two. I enjoyed walking through the butterfly garden the most. The kids enjoyed playing in the water fountains the best. Here are some highlights from our zoo trip and our tot school week:

The zoo had tunnels that you could crawl through and "holes" that you peek out of and act like prairie dogs. At first dd#3 would not go in the tunnels. She stood outside for the longest time, watching her other siblings dart in and out. Finally she gathered all her courage and slowly walked in. I couldn't believe she actually traveled through the tunnels. This was her expression as she came out of the tunnel. I love it. :)

We practiced our observation skills this week. We had a variety of objects that she looked at with the magnifying glass. Then we used words to describe the objects.

This week we started our co-op class. We are going to be studying oceans (the older kids are going through Swimming Creatures of the 5th Day and I'm modifying the content to teach preschoolers). I found this puzzle at a garage sale recently. We pulled it out for some puzzle practice this week.

We are still working on colors. This week I tied our color practice to the Wordless Book. I made these nesting cans to teach the Wordless Book story. These work particularly well with the Wordless Book song which you can find in the link above.

One fine-motor skill she did this week was putting coffee stirrers into an empty Parmesan cheese container. This was a big hit. In fact, I had to keep telling the 7yr. old to let the 2yr. old have a turn.

So these were a few of the things we did this week. For even more Tot School ideas, check out the links at:Tot School.

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Phriday Photoshop Phun

So how many people cringed when they saw the spelling in the title? LOL! Yes, my attempt at humor and being clever. I know, I know--I'm trying too hard :)

Today a friend came over and had me show her some stuff in Photoshop Elements. It's when someone asks you to teach them something when you realize you don't really know that much! LOL! It didn't help that I just upgraded my PSE version and am still trying to get used to my Bamboo tablet. I hope she was able to understand my ramblings and pick up a few tips and tricks!

After meeting with her, I decided to mess around with a current photo I took. I tried some of the new effects, messed with brushes and layers. You can see the before and after pics. below. I like how it turned out.

black cat

black cat art


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Look Who's Talking: Featured Blogger Posted

Oh it has been a long day! Due to unforseen circumstances, I ended up pulling an all-nighter. I did manage a small nap today, but boy I need my sleep! :) I did manage to post the featured workbox blogger of the week:

Look Who's Talking: Featured Blogger Sheri H.

As much as I surf the web, I do occasionally miss some good blogs and posts about workboxes. If you know someone or blog about workboxes and would like to be featured, please sent me a link via the contact button me button. Thanks!


Monday, September 21, 2009

Workbox Highlight: Active Activity Cards

workbox activity cardsI am still tweaking some things with our workboxes this year--trying to make it so that refilling and recording keeping go easier for me. Having a 2yr. old and a 1 yr. old sure makes for interesting school days. If I have the boxes completely set-up for the older 3, if one of the younger ones is really needing more of my attention, I'm able to give it and not feel like I'm dropping the ball with the others. Of course this is requiring me to be extremely organized and I'm not there yet--lol! So today I'm reworking something, printing, laminating, cleaning etc.

One of the things I really like about the workboxes is that I can plan extra activities, especially active activities into my kids' day. Before I would forget, or get distracted, but now I have some of those activities on their schedule cards. I wanted to showcase a set of cards that Candace Crabtree created on Homeschool Share that I think are a wonderful addition to our schedule.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Big Daddy Weave

Last weekend my friend and I took our daughters to their first concert. We drove to Kokomo IN to see Big Daddy Weave! I was looking forward to spending some individual time with my daughter, but was a little ambivalent about the concert. I really like Big Daddy Weave. I don't particularly enjoy being in huge crowds. I would have been just as happy to hear him sing on my car cd player as I would in person, but being at the actual concert doesn't happen every day. So I went for my daughter. Well I don't know why I wasn't excited! It was an awesome concert! It was held outside at a park, which just made it more personable, and I love that he wasn't just performing, but worshiping too. If you haven't heard of Big Daddy Weave before, you can hear some of his songs here: BDW Discography

Since the concert was out-of-town, we booked a hotel for the night. The girls had a blast! It is so nice that my good friend and I both have girls the same age, and that they are best friends. Our goal this year is to plan a couple intentional outings with our tween daughters to create memories with them and have opportunities to talk to them about growing up and growing deeper with God. What a fun weekend!


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Learning Curve and Workbox Stuff

For the past several months my wrist and hand have been hurting me if I'm on the computer too much. The problem is, I need to be on the computer to continue my free-lance work and my digital scrapbooking work. So my wonderful husband surprised me by getting me a Bamboo Fun Tablet. After he saw it sitting in the box for over a week, he asked why I hadn't installed it yet. Truth was, my computer was on the fritz and I thought if I added one more thing to it I might just get the blue screen of death! So once again, my husband went the extra mile for me and gave me his new computer! When he went to get it set-up in my office, he couldn't believe how small the work-surface on my desk was, and he thinks that also contributed to the amount of hand/arm pain I was experiencing because I couldn't rest my arm properly and use the mouse. So he switched desks with me! I now have a huge desk where I can put 2 laptops (I have to get all the files off my old one still) my Bamboo tablet, a couple EHD's and a light. I'm thrilled! I also installed PSE 6.0, which came with the tablet, replacing my PSE 4.0. With all this goodness though, I'm finding there is a little bit of a learning curve. So I probably won't have many posts until next week.
One thing I would like to point out is a new feature I'm trying called : Look Who's Talking About Workboxes. It is a dynamic (constantly changing) article that highlights who tweets about the workbox system, who blogs about it, and each week a featured workbox blog post picked up from my internet searching or via submitted submissions. So if you tweet, it would be helpful to use the hash tag: #workboxes or have workboxes somewhere in the tweet. If you have a helpful tip, or a blog post about workboxes that you would like highlighted, send me the link. Your blog will be featured on the Look Who's Talking site and listed here on my blog. The first featured blog post will be on Wed. Sept. 23. If you have a post you'd love highlighted, send me the link via my contact button. I will just be linking to your article, not reprinting the article. The cool thing is that just by talking about workboxes we can also raise money for the Salvation Army at the same time!


Monday, September 14, 2009

Graphing Apples in OpenOffice

apple graph(click photo to see full-size)

I want to thank those of you who participated in our informal apple survey. Today I had my 9yr. old son tally the results and make a graph in Open Office. It looks like Golden Delicious apples were the winner.

Lately I have been looking at ways to integrate technology into our curriculum. Truth be told, I'd rather they were rarely on the computer, but that's just not going to happen in my house. They see me on the computer all the time. They know I blog, Tweet, Facebook, digital scrap and write articles. My husband is in an IT related field as well, so he's on the computer often. Computers are a big part of our lives. My goal is to show them how to responsibly use technology, and to use it for learning, not just to keep them busy. I previously wrote about how we are starting to integrate digital scrapbooking into their schooling. I realized that I haven't been teaching them any word processing/database skills. Other than typing and playing educational/Webkinz games, they haven't been using much technology, and they haven't been using it as a tool for showing what they have learned.

So today's graphing lesson was intentional. We needed to review graphing skills and I wanted my son to learn how to create a table using OpenOffice. Combining the two created a great thinking activity. He first had to sketch out the graph on paper and record the results from my blog. Then we worked together to create his sketch on the computer. I taught him how to set up the table, add color, add columns, merge cells and change fonts. He loved working on the computer (I knew he would which is why I started with him--lol). In fact, after the graphing assignment, he stayed in OpenOffice and wrote a play! His idea! The boy who earlier that day was giving me grief about just filling in answers for a personal writing exercise wrote a mini-play.

So do you use technology with your schooling? (Technology can be more than computers--video recorders, Ipods, etc.) To what extent? Certain ages? Any great ideas on how to use technology at home to promote learning? I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject.

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Friday, September 11, 2009

This and That

disorganized messI've been working on a couple never-ending projects(or so it seems) this week. I still can't get my school room/supplies organized to where I feel inspired to teach. My biggest problem is figuring out how to store units in progress and supplements to our curriculum. Right now I have organized stacks of stuff all over the floor. I have some in Sterilite bins, which are working great, except I need something to house them all. That's what I need to figure out ASAP. If you have any organizational ideas I'd love to hear them.

I also created a list of ideas of things/activities to include in toddler workboxes. It's getting so long that I might actually break it down into separate articles. We'll see. :)

We're still working on apple things. Here's a super cute Apple counting file folder game from Mama Jenn. I plan on making it for my daughter.

ABC Teach has some apple printables---we're using the survey form and the shape book.

I also had many other apple resources and a printable in the post: Everything Apples

Jimmie had a really good post about Crafts and the CM Method. She always has such insightful blog posts.

Oh, and that cute little stinker---how she looks in that picture is how I feel-- a big mess! :)


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Brownie Try-Its: Space

(click to download)

I have been going through my hard-drive trying to clean up my files and clear up some space when I came across some printables I made to go with my daugther's Brownie Space Try-Its patch. I had so much fun presenting to the troop. Here's what we did:

1. Made M&M constellations. I had a file folder for each girl in the troop. On the front of the file folder I glued a piece of black cardstock. When the girls arrived, they each received a small bag of M&M's, one sheet of foil stick-on stars and a white crayon. They had to pour a handful of M&M's in their hand and then drop them on the black cardstock. Wherever a M&M landed, they would place a foil star. Once they had all their stars down, they had to create their own constellation.

space Brownie Try-its 2. Next I read some constellation stories from Constellations: A Glow-in-the-Dark Guide to the Night Sky . I had this cool little light that made the glow-in-the-dark stickers really shine. I turned off all the lights in the room and read a few of the stories using that flashlight. It really helped the girls see what the constellations looked like and why they were named that way. Then we went outside and tried to find some of the constellations we read about.

3. The next two activities we did in stations. At one station the girls created Oreo cookie moon phases. Click here for directions: Oreo Cookie Moon Phases Hint: buy double the amount of cookies you will need for the project as half will get eaten! We adhered the cookies to the plate with white frosting. Yes, we had alot of sugar that evening!

I found that the younger girls needed to keep this activity simple, so we only focused on four of the phases instead of eight.

4. The second station we did was film cannister constellations. Click here for the print-out: Constellations. These were so much fun to use afterwards! The directions call for a large safety pin, but we found that using jumbo thumbtacks worked perfectly. Each girl made three constellations.
space Brownie Try-Its Here is what I included on the inside of the folders. As part of the Try-Its, each girl had to draw a picture and chart the moon for a month. I thought that by putting everything in a file-folder--kind of like a modified lapbook---that we would have a greater chance of the assignments coming back. Everything was adhered to the file folder for each girl to bring home.

Additional Space Resources:

Exploring Creation with Astronomy book & journal

Many Space Units/Lapbooks/Notebooking pages from Homeschool Share


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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Apple Craft

One of my favorite parts of the end of summer/beginning of fall is enjoying apples. As I mentioned before, I'm working on an apple unit with my 2 1/2 yr. old and 7yr. old (and certain activities the older ones join in too). Oh and if you click on the link above, could you please answer our informal apple survey? My kids will be compiling the results later this week :)

Here's a peek at one activity we recently did together. To see the rest check out my guest post at 3 Boys and a Dog.

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I Heart Faces--Back to School

Well I would have had my daughter pose with her teacher, but her teacher was still in her pajamas--lol!(Yep, that would be me). We are getting back into the school groove here in the Spell household. Of course the holiday this week is throwing me off. I need to get off the computer and back on track... ;)

To check out more back to school photos visit:


Saturday, September 5, 2009

Quick Pages, Workboxes and a Tired Momma


It has been such a busy week! I know my blog has been very quiet, but I really was accomplishing alot! I also had a couple of sick kids this week. My 2yr. old had some breathing problems and needed a nebulizer and a steroid (oh boy, she was quite a handful on those meds!) After that she got a virus, but is on the mend now. Her 1yr. old sister was also not feeling the greatest either. So both were a little clingy this week and needed a little extra TLC. The one good thing is that I got my carpet and couches cleaned this week because of them ;)

I did find time though, to put a couple articles up on Squidoo. I hope you'll check them out and pass them on to anyone you think might be interested (You can see the icons for them on my sidebar too)

Working the Workboxes (if you have anything you'd like to share or include in this article, let me know and I'll add your link)

Digital Scrapbooking as and Educational Tool (boy I really need a shorter title!LOL!)

Working with Digital Quick Pages (the layout above is a Quick Page by Lynn Grieveson)

I hope you all have a safe and restful Labor Day Weekend! I'm looking forward to sleeping in on Monday if my kids will let me :)

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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Scripture Lady--Review

I first discovered the Scripture Lady when I was looking for resources to go along with a Wordless Book unit for toddlers/preschoolers. At the time I wasn't able to purchase any resources, but I did sign up for her newsletter, which is full of tips, game ideas and downloads.

Recently, the Scripture Lady asked for volunteers to review her curriculum. Of course I offered! I was able to hear her songs and check out her "Sing a Song and Play a Game" curriculum book. I will definitely be using it with my preschool co-op class.

The curriculum is based on 10 songs that the Scripture Lady wrote and has 2 activities plus printables that go with the games. Geared for preschool/early elementary.

I really liked the songs. We thought the songs were entertaining, easy to sing along with, and I love that they are based on scripture! The arrangements were fun and I found that I didn't mind listening to them over and over again either. They were easy to teach and remember. Nice quality sound and arrangements. I'll be adding some of her other CD's to my teaching toolbox.

I like that she included two options for each song. The games reinforced the concept/scripture taught in the song. They can easily been done with small groups and minimal preparation.

I love that I was able to get my young kids moving and learning the Word at the same time. The Scripture Lady is a wonderful resource for teaching the Bible in an active way.

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Everything Apples

Apple QuoteI know it's been pretty quiet here on my blog lately, but believe me I've been working on some things to share with you! We've started working on an apple unit and are having a blast! I planned the unit for my DD#2 and figured my DD#3 could tag along with some of the stories too. I've created a couple of toddler activities to go along with what DD#2 is doing too. I've been surprised though that the older kids wanted to join in the fun too. So now we all are doing apple activities!

Here are some of the resources we are using:

Apple Trees and Apple Blossoms-great info. by Evelyn Saenz

Apples to Oregon unit from Homeschool Share

How to Make Apple Pie and See the World Unit from Homeschool Share

The Apple Pie Tree Unit from Homeschool Share

Johnny Appleseed:
Unit by Naturegirl 7

Mini-Unit and Lapbook from Homeschool Share

Misc. Apple Stuff:
Preschool Apple File folder game from Homeschool Share

Apple Tree Math Mat from Homeschool Share

Apple Pie Recipe by Aunt Opal from All

I spent some time last week photographing apples and I'm pretty proud of my attempt! I definetly won't be moving into food photography anytime soon though ;)I did however, enjoy using those images to create toddler apple pattern cards. DD#3 has been working on learning apple colors, so I thought she'd enjoy practicing using the apple cards. If you'd like a copy too, just click the photo. Apple Patterns

Next week I'll have a guest post showcasing one of our toddler apple activities. My 2 1/2 year old and I had so much fun putting it together. I can't wait to share it with you. :)

Oh, my kids are doing an informal survey and would love to know what your favorite apple is. We'd love if you'd post your answer in the comment section :)

Red Delicious
Golden Delicious
Granny Smith

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