Friday, June 27, 2008

Tot Books.

Yes, it seems like I am on a roll for planning things for Anthony. I recently found this website that does tot books. Check it out! It looks like something I'll incorporate into our preschool schedule. They are basically lapbooks for little kids.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

VBS and Schedules.

Well, this week the kids have been attending Vacation Bible School and they are having a blast!! It has really allowed me to have some quality time with Anthony and Christian, since they are too little to attend. My DH has this week off, so it's been great to spend time together!

It is our home improvement week, so DH will be power washing the house today and I'll be painting the mailbox. On Friday, we are leaving everything behind and taking off for a camping trip in the mountains. The kids are counting down the days!

With all this going on, I'm getting my materials together for next week's schooling. I have been doing math and phonics with the kids but nothing else. Next week I'm starting EVERYTHING!! I have been putting it off a little because I have felt so unprepared, but I'm using my time wisely this week while the kids are away.

Today I'm planning on setting up the bins for each child where the daily assignments will go. I already have them in place, but haven't used them since we stopped doing all our other subjects from kindergarten and preschool. I'll have to figure out a better way to get all the paperwork organized.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Weekly Menu.

Well, here is our menu for the week! I hope that I'm able to give someone some ideas, especially with lunch and snacks. This week I don't have to worry about the morning snack since the kids will be at VBS. Breakfast is never scheduled for me since the kids always want the same thing (cereal, pancakes/waffles, eggs) and I just rotate.

Also a note about having a 5 day menu...we usually have leftovers on the weekends and it's not unusual for us to go out to eat. Mainly, it's my time to take a break from the kitchen. I fix whatever is easiest and snacks usually are repeats from the week.

Lunch: Taquitos served with sour cream and salsa
Afternoon Snack: Mickey Mouse cheese & crackers
Dinner: Sloppy Joes, green beans, coleslaw

Lunch: Turkey sandwiches, fruit
Afternoon Snack: Tortilla chips & bean dip
Dinner: Chicken pepper pasta, sugar snap peas

Lunch: Baked potato with toppings
Afternoon Snack: Applesauce
Dinner: Savory swiss steak, collard greens, brown rice

Lunch: Scrambled eggs & sausage
Afternoon Snack: Pretzels & marshmallows
Dinner: Baked ravioli, salad, italian bread

Lunch: Make your own mini-pizza
Afternoon Snack: Fruit smoothie, crackers
Dinner: Leftovers

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Organizing My Home.

So who hasn't heard of Fly Lady? I think everyone and their mom has probably visited the website and I must admit that I was even a subscriber! But amidst the never ending email reminders, I decided to fly the coop and unsubscribe. In theory, Fly Lady's system is wonderful. But for me, it just doesn't work. Their system is great; however, I'm just not into the whole constant email reminders and such.

This week has been my trial run for my new schedule. The kids are not completely following it, as I'm waiting yet another week to fully start school with them, but I'm trying to adhere to the scheduled activities as much as possible (wake-up time, snacks, math, etc.). I must say that I'm loving the extra 2 hours I get in the morning to do chores or get on the Internet. I'm not one to wake up early, but this is definitely worth the effort!

Seeing that I'm sticking to my schedule, I'm finding that I have better control of my house. We're doing things at assigned times and that is helping me stay on top of household duties. So long to frenzied cleaning hours!!! Now I actually have time to clean throughout the day, which means that the work doesn't pile up on me; therefore, I get to skip out on trying to clean the whole house in an hour. It's just working out!

But getting back to Fly Lady...I really liked the thought of making zones in your home and dedicating a week to focus on a particular zone. So this week I will be organizing my home into work zones and assigning days and weeks to each zone. It will then all go into my household notebook. Here are the zones to my house.

Zone 1
Outside entry
Hallway bathroom

Zone 2
Living Room
Laundry Room

Zone 3
School Room

Zone 4
Master Bedroom
Master Bath

Zone 5
Kids Bedroom
Baby Bedroom
Hall Bathroom
Hall Area (Computer station)

Since the kids are responsible for their things, they are in charge of their own room. They are also in charge of cleaning up the playroom, taking down their dirty laundry, and doing small chores around the house. All the trash in the upstairs areas are also their responsibility to take downstairs or outside (this is usually done by Marco, although Isabella likes to help).

Lightening my workload is essential. I've come to realize that every member of the family has to have certain cleaning responsibilities. This is especially true as a homeschooling family. I don't have the same time as a mom who sends her kids off to school for the day, so its important that everyone does their share.

Organizing BFIAR. Activities.

Well, I have decided to put off doing BFIAR with Anthony for another couple of weeks (we'll be doing some Kumon books in the meantime). I have the majority of the books, but I'm going to be gathering some materials for his little activities to go with each story. I'm still going to keep it simple, but I need to keep him engaged. Here is what I am planning to go with the stories. Most of these are taken from the suggestions in the book.

Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear?
  • Bear dress-up paper doll.
  • Cloth swatches to play with (different colors and textures)
  • Potato stamps (different shapes)
Yellow Ball
  • Paint a reproduction of a picture from book
  • Make a collage of all the things found at a beach
  • Play with a ball
  • Animal classification
My Blue Boat
  • Color matching
  • Animal classification
  • Make a boat
The Little Rabbit
  • Animal classification
  • Color matching (match crayons to colors in book)
  • Visit a pet store to look at rabbits (we have one down the street)
Ask Mr. Bear
  • Animal classification
  • Lapbook
Blueberries for Sal
  • Animal classification
  • Blueberry picking (if available)
  • Blueberry alphabet matching cards (from Homeschool Share)
Goodnight Moon
  • Animal classification
  • Read "Hey Diddle Diddle"
  • Make "Hey Diddle Diddle" mini book (Homeschool Share)
  • Goodnight cards activity(Homeschool Share)
The Big Green Pocketbook
  • Animal classification
  • Green pocketbook pocket (Homeschool Share)
  • Lapbook
  • Felt green pocketbook
The Runaway Bunny
  • Animal classification
  • Coloring page from HarperCollins
  • Memory game using picture cards (self made)
The ABC Bunny
  • Animal classification
  • Alphabet flashcards
  • ABC Bunny activity card (Homeschool Share)
If Jesus Came to my House
  • Shadow show
Caps for Sale
  • Animal classification
  • Hat story kit (from library)
  • Monkey art (draw tree, child puts fingerprints on tree, draw tails, arms & legs on fingerprints to make a monkey)
The Carrot Seed
  • Plant bean seeds
  • Sorting and matching different seeds
  • Measure different vegetables
The Snowy Day
  • Colored tissue paper art
  • Make paper snowflakes
  • Snowy Day activity card (Homeschool Share)
The Quiet Way Home
  • Listening game
  • Make list of quiet sounds
Play With Me
  • Animal classification
  • Nature walk
  • Animal guessing game (Homeschool Share)
Prayer for a Child
  • Sort and string buttons
  • Make homemade prayer book
  • Make a shoe box altar
I am an Artist
  • Animal classification
  • Nature walk
Angus Lost
  • Animal classification
  • Sorting legs game (Homeschool Share)
  • Pretend cave
Katy No-Pocket
  • Animal classification
  • Memory game
  • Make an apron
  • Animal homes matching game (Homeschool Share)
  • What's in the pocket sorting game (Homeschool Share)
We're Going on a Bear Hunt
  • Animal classification
  • Story cards (Homeschool Share)
  • Hide a bear game
The Red Carpet
  • Object recognition in book
  • Follow the red carpet (using a red streamer)
  • Animal classification
  • Button sorting
  • Make a piggy bank
Jenny's Surprise Summer
  • Animal classification
  • Cat matching game (Homeschool Share)
On top of the above activities, I'll also be doing some activities that take no preparation or planning...such as pointing out the shapes in a book or "can you find" searches using the pictures in the book. If I find something fun to do along the way, I'll just add it to the week.

I'll be organizing each week by using Anthony's bin. I plan on having all craft supplies ready and put in Ziplock bags along with the book. This way, all I have to do is open his bin and take out the bag.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Weekly Menu.

Following is the lunch, snack, and dinner menu for the week. I have been using Menus 4 Moms for almost a year and it is a really helpful resource. I usually try to map out our lunch and snack menu for the week as well. My kids are like clockwork. They will be ready for a snack at 10ish, lunch at noon, and a snack again at 3 or so.

It's so much easier to have a menu and make it a no-brainer. I usually keep the menu on my fridge or in our household notebook.

Morning Snack: pretzels and cheese
Lunch: mac n cheese, fruit
Afternoon Snack: yogurt and crackers
Dinner: roast pork tenderloin, peas, potatoes, applesauce

Morning Snack: popcorn, fruit snack
Lunch: turkey sandwiches, fruit
Afternoon Snack: carrots, celery with peanut butter
Dinner: tacos, black beans, Mexican rice

Morning Snack: bagel with cream cheese
Lunch: quesadillas, leftover rice, fruit
Afternoon Snack: apples, mini muffins
Dinner: grilled BBQ chicken, corn on cob, cornbread casserole

Morning Snack: hard boiled egg, toast sticks
Lunch: noodles, fruit, celery
Afternoon Snack: fruit kebabs, crackers
Dinner: pork lo mein, salad

Morning Snack: Ritz crackers, lunch meat, cheese
Lunch: grilled cheese sandwich, fruit
Afternoon Snack: dry cereal, yogurt
Dinner: leftovers, salad, smoothies

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Back from IHM!

I just got back from IHM Catholic Conference yesterday evening. I had such a wonderful time! It was great to drive up with friends and get the opportunity to chat about homeschooling and life. The conference itself was very good and the speakers were great! My only complaint? No strollers in the talks...that makes it difficult when you have a sleeping infant whom you don't want to wake up by picking him up.

The vendors were wonderful as well. I truly appreciated that I didn't have to worry about the materials I was looking at because I knew that they were all Catholic (or Catholic-friendly!). Luckily, I had already purchased most of my materials for our school year. That left me with plenty of time to browse all the fun stuff. I did miss that "looking for a good curriculum" feeling. But in the end, I am fully excited about Angelicum Academy and all the great books that I'll be using with them!

I am definitely coming back next year...if possible, without any children. Christian did so well while with me. However, it's nice not to have to worry about toting a baby along. For the time being, I'm getting ready to start the new year and I'll be spending the rest of the day looking through all the neat books I purchased at IHM.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Preschool Decision. BFIAR.

I finally decided on my preschool curriculum for Anthony! I'll be using Before Five in a Row. Why? Well, the fact that I've used it with Marco (successfully) is the main reason. The second reason is that it is an extremely gentle program that even a 2 year old can do. Thirdly, there is little or no prep time in what you are doing, so this make a great fit into my schedule. Lastly, the books they use are wonderful and we own most of them already.

I'll also be adding some Kumon books now and then for him to do, as well as using the Leap Frog videos. Overall, I think this combination will be perfect for him. There is still so much time before he gets to kindergarten age (2 years!), so I'm not worried about doing anything that's above being read to and getting into a structured day.

Here are a couple of websites with BFIAR stuff. Check them out!

Homeschool Share BFIAR: This is the best site with resources including lapbooks, field trip ideas, animal classification cards, and so much more!

FIAR Forums: This website is a forum with posts on what everyone else is doing with FIAR. Lots of ideas on implementing and planning.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Getting Ready for Conference.

Only 3 more days until I head out to IHM Catholic Conference in Washington, D.C.!! I'll be leaving Thursday afternoon with a couple of other friends and the conference starts on Friday morning. It will be a good weekend to reflect and get ready for our new school year. I'm excited about being able to spend some time looking over what we have without all 4 kids running around me!

We are done with choosing curriculum, although there are still some reading books I have left to buy. I'm just really excited about the sessions they have. They all sound really wonderful and I'm sure I'm going to come home inspired and recharged! I'm counting down!!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Scheduling a Perfect Day.

I have finally completed our new schedule for the new school year!! I has been about a month in the making and now I can finally say that it is done! It took a while since I had to look at all the subjects we were doing and how often. Now that I'll have more than one child doing school work, I see the challenge before me.

Let me add that my schedule is for a perfect day. I know enough to say that days can get out of control and the unexpected always seems to happen. I'm giving myself enough flexibility in that our Fridays are really open (we'll only be doing math and phonics on those days) and Saturdays are open as well. With all that said, I present you with my daily schedule. is scary!

But the schedule still looks scary!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Choosing Curriculum for a 3 year old.

I know. A 3 year old should not have a curriculum. They are young, they need to explore, play, discover, etc. But after taking a good look at what our schedule is going to look like this new school year, there is no way that Anthony is going to have free play time ALL DAY LONG. He needs a little more structure to his day and I feel like I need to start introducing him to the alphabet, math, and reading. Sitting in on our read alouds will also not be sufficient anymore, especially since we'll be moving on to more difficult and mature material.

The programs I'm considering are BFIAR (Before Five in a Row), Little Hands to Heaven, Little Saints, CHC Preschool, and Letter of the Week. I'm really not sure at this point, but I'm looking for something that is more literature based with some crafty components. I also can't dedicate all day to it, but rather an hour or so a few times a week. I think that would be more than enough for a gentle introduction to "school."

Considering I own BFIAR and CHC Preschool, I will be considering those first. I'm planning on sitting down tonight and looking them over again. BFIAR worked with Marco when he was little, so I might consider that again. CHC was not a good fit for us back then, but it might work now. I'm hoping that there will be a preview of Little Saints at the IHM Catholic Conference next week, since the program looks really attractive as well.

In all, I would like to *ideally* make a decision as soon as possible. Since we'll be starting on our new schedule next week (hopefully), I want to have something ready for Anthony to do so he can feel like he gets special time with me too. He also needs a little more order and discipline to his life. He functions so much better when we have our routine and schedule in place.

Any suggestions out there are welcome!!

New School Room Tour.

It's back to school time and it seems like everywhere in the homeschool blogosphere, people are giving tours of their learning spaces.  ...