Thursday, February 25, 2010

Multiplication Math Lapbooking.

We have always done Saxon for our math studies. It is straightforward for me to teach, the kids don't hate it, and I think it is a wonderfully strong program. But at times, math can get a little boring for both teacher and student. My solution to mixing things up? Lapbooks!!

Marco is working on his multiplication...I won't say what lesson we are for fear of embarrassment, but things are going fairly well. We just need a little push; something different to make it fun. So I searched high and low for a quick lapbook and found some really great sites!

We will use a combination of these different sites, just to make this multiplication lapbook our own. Hope you find the following links useful. We'll be spending the rest of the afternoon cutting, pasting, learning, and reviewing our multiplication tables. Pictures will follow!!

PDF of a mulitiplication lapbook (and links to other lapbooks as well)
Multiplication File Folder Games (good for lapbooks too!)
A good visual of a multiplication lapbook from blogger Dishpan Dribble.
Another visual from Dots and Daisies.
Multiplication Facts Game Lapbook (for a more game oriented lapbook)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Playing Mass.


Today was a highly stressful day for me. Things are happening around here so fast lately that I feel like my head is spinning. But in the midst of chaos, my children were able to ground me. How so? By playing a long-time favorite "game"...Mass.

Since Marco was about 2 or 3, I've delighted in playing pretend Mass with him. From dressing a makeshift altar to serving "wine" in a glass, playing Mass was a way for me to introduce the beauty of our faith to the kids. Now, however, I don't need to be as involved as I once was. The kids are able to gather all the supplies needed. Using a blanket as an altar cloth, providing kneelers made out of pillows, and using just the right plate for the Paten. They got it all figured out!!

It's nice to participate and hear "Father Marco" say his homily. Isabella usually brings in the gifts and Anthony always does a "reading." They played Mass so well this morning, that I decided to surprise them with a Miniature Mass kit for Easter. It's a beautiful replica of the real thing and you can find that here.

Who knows...perhaps playing Mass will lead one of them to a vocation as a priest. But at least for a moment today I was able to marvel at how my children looked so wonderfully angelic imitating one of the most wonderful gifts of the Catholic faith. I was also secretly praying that their pressed bread and apple juice, although far from being consecrated bread and wine, was blessed nonetheless.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Celebrating Mardi Gras and Lent.

This year is the first in a looooong time that we have failed to make it to Mass on Ash Wednesday. Having a daughter with a broken arm that hurts, a child with croup, and another with a stomach ache didn't help our situation. So I decided to skip it and tend to my children at home instead.

But we are off to a great start this Lent season, nonetheless! On Tuesday, we celebrated Mardi Gras with some fun crafts that our friends from co-op dropped off. The kids spent much of the afternoon coloring, decorating masks, and making crowns. We then topped off the night with breakfast for dinner...purple, green, and gold pancakes and all!! It was a big treat for everyone!



On Ash Wednesday, we also colored our path to Easter Sunday. You can find this download at Catholic Icing. Each day the kids will be putting a star on the day mark it off. We will also be doing other crafts and activities about every other day to celebrate Lent. These are scheduled into our school days so that I make it a priority to actually do them!



Here are a list of activities to help you do things at home.

I might add to this, so keep checking for updates!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Another Curve Ball.

It seems that sometimes, we can get a bit too comfortable with the routine. It's times like that, that something always seems to come up to shake things up a bit. Curve balls keep coming our way and I take it as God's way to keep me on my feet! On Saturday, my baby girl Isabella broke her arm.

It wouldn't have been such a big deal had the bone not pierced the skin and had required emergency surgery. So with family far away, I had to call on friends for help...and I'm blessed to have such wonderful friends! While I sat bedside to Isabella, my friend Katie watched the other children. Not only that, but she cleaned my house and did some laundry! Wow!!! We've been truly blessed and touched by her generosity and understanding!

My daughter has been the bravest girl I've ever seen. Not one tear was shed from the time we got to the hospital to now. She has an amazing strength that I admire. I'm sure she is making my life easier and I am constantly thanking the Lord for her!



Saturday, February 13, 2010

How's It Going?

Well, for most homeschoolers the halfway point in our year has come and gone. So...how's it going? It's exciting when you first start the year. New books, new plans, new hopes!! The kids are excited and you are raring to get started. But as the year goes on, sometimes we get tired. The children start complaining, "Do I really need to do math, Mom?" and some of our wonderful plans get thrown to the side.

It's important not to get burnt out...especially if you are just starting out on your homeschool journey!! Even though I've been technically been homeschooling for three and a half years (starting with preschool for the oldest), I still have a LOOOOOONG way to go before I'm done.

I like to look at my bookshelves sometimes. They are filled with books I swore I'd incorporate into the kids' curriculum, books full of projects I promised myself I'd do with the kids, and books full of promises on how to make my life easier. But there they sit...on the shelf! As a matter of fact, many of them have already been packed away.

I don't feel bad, however. Our core curriculum gets done on a daily basis and I still find time to do fun projects with the kids. Maybe I won't use ALL the extra books, but I have used some of them. And whenever I'm in a rut, I look to all these wonderful books to fill me with new ideas, hopes, and energy. I still order books. I still print out endless project and craft ideas. I still bookmark links to great blogs. It's all good!!

I'll admit that I may not always be on top of my game. I'm not ahead, like I hoped I would be. But perhaps starting the year with a new baby, a hospitalization, and other out-of-the-ordinary events slowed us down a bit. The important thing is that I'm OK with that now. The kids are still learning and having fun.

At the end of the day, I think..."Did I do my best today? Did I offer myself up to God?" If I can honestly answer "yes" to those questions, then I feel alright. If not (and there are many days that I answer "no") I'm happy to know that tomorrow is a new day.

For now, I'm off to make my children's lives better in any way I can. Love of God, family, and their education are my top priorities. There are sacrifices we all make to provide these things for our kids...and all the stress and hardships are worth it!!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Sweet Valentine Get Together.`

It was a fun filled morning at our home as a "few" of our friends came over to enjoy a "small" Valentine get together (19 children altogether between 5 moms!). It was lots of fun and lots of fun chaos as the children ran around and played with their friends. Some children even got to make Saint Valentine's day cards and color some pictures!




Lunch was pizza for the kiddos and Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup with salad for the moms. Oh...and lots of candy and treats! Lots of good laughs with friends made the day extra special.







After the party, the kids and I sat down and worked on more Valentine Day crafts and cards. It was fun to spend an afternoon talking to them about their morning and hearing all the fun stories about them and their friends. Crafting is a sure way to connect with your kids!! And to show their appreciation for the fun day, the kids all split up chores and helped get the house back into tip-top shape!!


Anthony's favorite chore is cleaning windows. He washed all the windows and glass doors in the house. Although only the bottom half of the glass was cleaned, I was so happy to see how proud he was of his work!



Isabella scrubbed all the trim, chair rails, and base boards. She did a great job, although some places require a little more elbow grease than she is able to give. But she looks like a happy mother's helper!



Marco did the unthinkable (or am I setting too low standards?) for a 7 year old. This is his look after cleaning the entire kitchen...floors, counter tops, dishes, and table. Not only that, but he continued his cleaning streak with helping me pick up the living room and clean the bathroom. No complaints from him...I love my little cleaning dude!!!



And while Christian slept through our cleaning frenzy, little Jimmy enjoyed practicing his new talent...rolling over! Such a Heart Breaker!!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A Laundry System for Large Families...and small ones too!

A few years ago, I was about ready to give up on doing laundry. Luckily, one of my good friends (with 6 kids!) suggested a great way to organize myself with this arduous task. I now call this "Stephanie's System," and thanks to her, my laundry is under control...for the most part!!

Steps to follow.

1. The best way to start is with about 2 weeks worth of outfits for everyone to wear. This will help extend how often you do laundry.

2. Every child in the family gets their own laundry basket. In our home, my DH and I share baskets, one for darks and one for lights.

3. Once a basket gets full, the child (if able) brings it to the laundry room to be washed. This means that you will do about 2 loads of laundry per child (1 lights & 1 darks).

4. Once washed and dried, the clothing is immediately folded and taken to be put away. Since the clothing is already separated, it only takes about 5-10 minutes to fold and put away!

5. Stagger your days when you do laundry so that you aren't doing it every day. For me, it's about 2-3 times a week with 7 total in my family. But...those three days are EASY since I don't have a mountain of clothing to wash! You might find that some weeks you will have less laundry than others.

Tips:
  • Wash your linens (sheets, towels, etc.) on a light day. I do this about every other week.
  • Buy matching socks. We love Gold Toe from Target for boys and girls. The lines on the toes make for easy size matching and my picky daughter loves that they don't bunch. I gathered all our old socks and either threw out the ones without matches or donated them.
  • Have a small basket for "can't wait" loads like soiled underwear, uniforms, etc. that need to be washed frequently. I have a hanging basket over our laundry door for this purpose.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Preparing for a Sweet Get Together!

This year, Valentine's Day falls on the Sunday right before Ash Wednesday. Because we won't be celebrating the sweet holiday with our co-op friends, we decided to host our own little get together!

Our Sweet Cookie & Craft Valentines Get Together will give us the opportunity to make some fun crafts, enjoy some yummy treats, and trade Valentines with a few of our friends. Today I'll be posting links to help anyone plan a great little party for Valentine's day. With only a few days until our own celebration, I thought I better plan ahead as much as possible.

Paper Roses (a YouTube Video tutorial)
Victorian Party Favor Cone
A collection of wonderful Valentine's Day Crafts!!

I'm excited to get everything ready and start some crafting with the kids!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Valentines.

Today we took a day off from our regularly scheduled school work to do some fun school. Monday's are typically our co-op days, but with all the snow outside, co-op was cancelled and we were given a whole day to fill up with enrichment activities.

CurrClick has a great lapbook all about Valentines Day that we are working on for this week. And at only $4.00 for the download, it's a great value!! The lapbook is geared towards 2nd through 6th grade; but with some minor adjustments, I'm making it work for our preschooler and kindergartner as well as for 2nd grade Marco.

It's hard to think ahead sometimes and plan fun things to do, especially when you are busy packing for a possible move! But I'm trying really hard to keep things fun around here! Luckily, there are plenty of websites to visit and get holiday crafts and things to do.

For our lapbook we studied the history of Valentine's Day, as well as how it was celebrated during the Middle Ages. Anthony wasn't able to follow along with the more in-depth questions I made the older children answer, but he was still involved with some preschool valentine activities. Enchanted Learning has some great valentine activity books you can print out. We used this activity book from them and glued it to the inside of his lapbook. He also practiced writing letters and did some coloring.

Here are some additional websites that I love and can always find things for not only my preschooler, but for Marco and Isabella as well. Some of them do require a subscription, but I find that they are well worth it!

www.abcteach.com
www.enchantedlearning.com
www.teacherfilebox.com
www.dltk-kids.com
www.first-school.ws


Getting our mini-books ready for the lapbook.



Marco having fun with his work.


Isabella gluing stuff down.



Anthony working on his own preschool version.