Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Ready For Take Off?

Today was a busy day. Much to the kids' disappointment, we had to skip out on co-op. Luckily, the disappointment was followed by joy when they learned that we were going to be having some friends over for the day instead. We all expect a certain amount of chaos when you have little ones running around. My lesson for the day was that I need to tame my clutter!! Well, more like toy clutter!

I usually keep all the toys out of reach so that they don't all get taken out at the same time. But unfortunately, it's a flawed system. When you have more than one child, you have to expect that each child wants their own toy. Then they get all mixed up, toys get left behind, and it becomes a bit of a mess. So now I'm out with my handy, dandy electronic labeling machine. Every toy has to have its own bin…ahem…LABELED bin. J At least this way, it will be easier to get the kids to recognize in what bin things belong. Or is this really an excuse to go crazy with labeling? Whatever the case may be, I'm happy typing and printing away. So far, here are the labels I have.


  • Hot Wheels/Cars
  • Barbie
  • Baby Toys
  • Planet Heroes
  • Stuffed Toys
  • Kitchen Toys (3 of these!)
  • Animal Toys
  • Shark Attack
  • Dress Up

Of course, I included one for each child since they all have their bins that I rotate for use only during school time. *Click here to find out what I put in our school boxes. Tomorrow I will have to continue separating the rest of the toys and classifying them into their own groups.

Next step after our main living areas are done? Label, classify, and organize all the toys and school supplies in our basement play/school room. I am ready for this? As ready as Anthony is ready for take off!!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

What's for Dinner?

So I have always been terrible at getting dinner together. Well, maybe not always...only since I've had 3 kids. But that's a long time! I tried doing menus, but they never worked because I would always forget and then by the time I got to the grocery store....a big mess.

But lo and behold I get an email from my sister mentioning Menus4Moms. It has been my lifesaver ever since! I get a week's full of recipes (5 days) including side dishes and dessert! The shopping list is also already made. You just download and open it in their shopping list program. Don't like what they have for the week? You can browse their archives and find something just right!

It has been 4 months since I started using this and my life has been so much easier. I have just included making my own menus and mixing it up a bit. Now that it's part of my routine, I don't miss a step. Well, there have been a few times when I've strayed! But now making dinner is a snap; I even get to freeze meals for future use!

Check it out. It's free! http://www.menus4moms.com/index.php

This Week's Menu:
Monday
Breaded Pork Chops
Zucchini Herb Casserole
Apple Turnovers

Tuesday
Baked Ranch Chicken
Creamed Corn
Spinach Salad

Wednesday
Roast Beef with Potatoes and Carrots
Fruit Cocktail
Dinner Rolls

Thursday
Swedish Meatballs
Egg Noodles
Green Beans
Banana Pudding

Friday
Spaghetti Pie
Spinach Salad
Italian Bread

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Newest Member of KISS?



Our Daily School Schedule

Saxon Math

  • Finish up to Lesson 65

MFW

  • Water activities & worksheets

Reading

  • Fox Hops independent reading

Phonics

  • Reading (PP) pg.58
  • Review (PP) pg.55 words (write 4-6 words)
  • Explode the Code pg. 14-16

Science/Art

  • Water Unit Study/Lapbook to go with MFW

Religion

  • Rosary prayers

Unit Studies

  • Map Unit Study

Handwriting

  • ZB pg. 45-48

Misc.

  • Piano Practice

This week we are tackling the water cycle. We'll be working on a water lapbook and some experiments. As for all the 3 R's, we are moving along.

I wanted to post what my daily school schedule looks like. I just post this thing on our board and I know what we have to do. I now do a daily schedule because things were getting out of hand with planning 2 weeks in advance. We never really ended up doing what was on schedule because we were either moving faster than expected or slower. Daily planning also helps me get myself together. I sit down the night before and spend 30 minutes making the plan and taking out all our supplies. When we get up in the morning and start the day, everything is all set to go!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Our Schoolroom!

Finally! Our schoolroom is pretty much done and I have just one update to make to it and that's the addition of a cubical bookcase to replace my plant stand (it's the one holding our Staples catch all!). Thanks to everyone who's posted their own schoolrooms for me to get inspiration from. I can honestly say that this is the best organized room in the house and the most used! I tried to show as many views as possible and put some descriptions below the pics. By the way, the room used to be our rarely used dining room.







Keep 'Em Busy Games: Stuff I take out when I need to distract the kids while I'm working one-on-one. I try to rotate them every couple of weeks.

School Supplies: Everything is in its own bin. From crayons to glue sticks and scissors to fasteners. Keeping everything separated helps me find things fast!

Current Curriculum: All the stuff we are currently using for our schoolwork. ETC, Saxon Math, handwriting, etc.

Reading Books: These are our fun to read books. I pick out a few every day to read out loud. I also rotate them with our books located in the basement play/school room.

Supplies Drawer: Rolls of paper, manipulatives, laminator, etc. Stuff that can't fit in a small bin.

2 Week Bin: I call it this because we replenish this with new books every 2 weeks. This is where we keep all our library books and some of our own books.

Toddler Bin: I keep this bin on the floor handy for our 2 year old. I try and change the toys out regularly. It helps when I have to say, "Anthony, why don't you play with those toys while we finish up here."


Map Wall: I change this as we change what we are doing. I like to post up displays when we do certain unit studies, but the map is usually always up.

Drawer Organizer: This is what really keeps all my paper in check! I have construction paper, unit studies, finished work, and everything else stored in this thing.




Flip Board: I move this out of the way when we are using the dry erase board. On the back side I also keep a pocket holder with all our centers.

Centers: These are basically all "take to your seat" centers. It took forever to get this many together, but I love them!


Finally, this is my dilemma. What do I do with this wall? But up our word pocket chart? Hang art? Put another bulletin board? Any ideas are welcome!! I'll post a new picture once I decide what to do with the empty wall.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

My To Do List Goes On!

Well, I was just asked recently, "What happened to your to do list? I never saw an end to it on your blog." So that got me moving and now I am updating it once again! At least I was able to cross a few more items off the list!

* Organize upstairs school room (bookshelves, school supplies, drawers)
Furnish school room with new bulletin board & supplies cart
Rearrange school room to better hold our flip chart, book basket, MFW files, etc.
* Organize downstairs school room/play room
Get rid of couch
Organize bookshelves and desk
Arrange toys in baskets/bins
Create easier to use arts & crafts center
• Create reading corner to replace the couch area (new floor pillows, book basket)
• Reorganize bathroom storage
Clean up outdoor toy bin (get rid of unused toys, balls, etc.)
Finish with decluttering and donating of items
* Reorganize master bedroom closet

So I have yet to create a cozy reading corner in our school/play room. We haven't been spending too much time down there anyways, so I'm not in a rush to do that now. As for bathroom storage...it's on its way! My main accomplishment has been making our main school room completely functional and organized. Everything has a place and everything gets put in its place! I know I promised pictures. They are on their way!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

First Grade Curriculum.

So if it isn't obvious by now, we are following recommendations from the Well Trained Mind. So far this is our 1st grade curriculum. There will, of course, be plenty of read alouds and unit studies (I can't resist a fun unit study!).

Math

We are moving on with Saxon Math 2. I have enjoyed teaching with Saxon and the use of its manipulatives. It is a spiral approach to math, which we really enjoy around here.



Phonics

I'm hoping to finish with Phonics Pathways this year. It has been a great program so far and we all enjoy the learning games that help solidify phonics learning. I highly recommend this book since it is all in one.





Readers

We are still deciding on what readers to continue with. For the moment, we love Nora Gaydos and Bob Books. Eventually, I'm sure we'll spread out into others.



Spelling

This was a tough decision, but we are leaning towards Spelling Workout A and then moving to B. I really enjoyed the My Catholic Speller series, so it might be a toss up in the end or a combination of both!




Grammar

This was an easy choice. First Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind.



Literature

Here we will be tackling reading about the Ancients as outlined in WTM. We are also going to be enriching our literature with Veritas Press First Favorites. This is a comprehension guide full of activities to accompany books such as Caps for Sale, Cuorduroy, Floss, and other great books. Since the kids enjoy hands-on so much, we might also incorporate some Literature Pockets to help keep it fun.



Writing

Zaner Bloser is going to be our handwriting program of choice. I think it's a good move from Handwriting Without Tears.



History

Story of the World 1 & Activity Guide along with the Kingfisher History Encyclopedia.



Geography

We will be using Uncle Josh Maps and possible tackling some geography unit studies along the way. Galloping the Globe is something we are thinking about supplementing with, if time allows.


Science

Living Learning Books is my ultimate choice for science. It follows the WTM, classical sequence, but all the planning work is already done for you!



Religion

The Faith and Life Series will be our catechism for the upcoming years. I really like the layout and the content is wonderful!


Art

We are continuing with Drawing with Children. A great program!



Music

Piano lessons will continue with Mr. Schafer along with listening to a variety of great music.

Getting It Together.

Honestly. I don't know how you other homeschooling, blogging moms do it. Lately, it seems that posting even the smallest thing is something I can't get to. I admire all you who do so much and still are able to keep your blogs rolling!

Continuing on with my failure to keep up...I haven't been posting on our MFW projects. It takes a little more time for me to actually remember what we did since I'm not a daily blogger. So as a favor to only myself, I am going to stop and just let you all know that I'm still doing all the activities from MFW. You are just going to have to get the program to figure out all the fun stuff for yourself!! ;)

On the up-note, I finally have semi-settled on our first grade curriculum! I have even purchased the majority of the books! Left on my things to get are our science kits (ants, butterflies, frogs, etc.). But I will gladly post a list of all the stuff we are going to use. I'm really very excited about it!

For now I promise to be back, but I can't promise when. Thanks for being so patient with me!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Today was a great Halloween day! I had been so busy preparing for our little party while still trying to stay on top of our school lessons. All I can say that planning ahead of time is key if you want to get things done with time to spare! We started our morning off with a visit to our friends' house for our monthly Story of the World activity day. We reviewed ancient Africa and made some crafts to go along with the Anansi the spider stories. The kids had a great time and they are always happy when it comes to getting together with friends!

On our way to our friends' home. It's a short drive with lovely views of the fall leaves. I had to take this picture, but it doesn't do the scenery justice. I love how trees line up every part of the highway.


Christian got to hang out in his jack-o-lantern suit while the kids worked on crafts.


The kids had fun creating their own Anansi spiders.


Final product! Not included are the shakers the kids made.


After we got home, our babysitter was waiting for us. And let me just add that we LOVE our babysitter!! She is awesome and the kids always have a great time with her! Melissa, if you read this...you ROCK! But back to the main idea. We got home and the kids played while I quickly picked up around the house and made some final dishes for the party. I had prepared mostly everything, so it wasn't too much to do. I then sped off to the costume shop to look for DH's costume. I found it, bought it, and got home with plenty of time to get ready.

Anyways...long story short. The party was lots of fun. We had our great friends over and the kids had a blast! The food was good and the company was even better. I was a bit skeptical that we would finish passing out all the Halloween candy, but at the end of the night, all the candy was gone! My only regret is not taking more pictures. This should be nothing new, since I always forget at each Halloween party to take more snapshots. Perhaps in the future I will post pictures of me and my hubby dressed as the king and queen....perhaps.



Our trick-or-treaters get ready to take to the streets!


Christian tries his hand at a craft.


Sweet success!!! Enjoying their loots are all the kids.