Wednesday, February 23, 2011

my first sensory bin & Bolivia lapbook

I have been wanting to do a sensory bin with Graham for awhile now, and finally got around to it. We are working on the Transportation Preschool Pack from Homeschool Creations, so I decided to do a transportation sensory bin. Believe me, Graham is DEFINITELY a sensory kind of kid. This child's whole world is a sensory bin. He is constantly into my things, exploring and finding new ways to play with them (not always so much fun for me). Anyway, needless to say, the first test drive of the sensory bin proved to be successful. He played with it uninterrupted for about a half hour. Here is a run down of what's in the bin:

*Polished rocks
*Multiple matchbox/monster trucks
*Discovery Toys stackable dump trucks
*A spoon
*A small amount of play dough (for making tracks, etc.)
*A small shovel
*A small plastic measuring cup
*Play dough roller for rolling out playdough or dropping rocks through
*Two packs of transportation stickers--puffy and foil.
I used mostly what I had, and spent about $4 on some new things at the dollar store to make it new for him.
He had lots of fun scooping and pouring the rocks (he loved the noise!). He made tracks through the play dough with his cars and trucks. He filled up the dump trucks and dumped them out. He decorated the box with the stickers, which are removable and can be re-decorated.

Have you ever noticed this child is half naked in every posting? He has a major aversion to clothing right now. We are working on it.
Isaac just finished his Bolivia lapbook

We picked Bolivia because that is where our Compassion child lives. We both learned a whole lot more about Bolivia. Lots of fun!

Monday, February 21, 2011

President's Day

We are observing President's Day at our house, but sadly (for Isaac) it isn't with a day off! Today we worked on a President's Day lapbook, which we will continue for the rest of the week. I also picked up a few good books at the Library last week, and we read one this morning I was super impressed with:

Abe's Fish is a fictional story about a young Abe Lincoln who chooses to give a fish he caught for his family to a hungry soldier of the Revolutionary War. One of my favorite excerpts from the book:
"Freedom must be a big deal, Abe thought...Abe wondered about freedom. Once when he'd put a cricket in a cage, it stopped moving and chirping. But when Abe let it go, it jumped quickly through the grass and started singing again. But people don't live in cages, thought Abe, so how could they not be free? Why would they need to fight for freedom?"
What a great starting point for discussing Freedom with even young children!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Looking Ahead

OK, so I have been doing a little pre-planning for the upcoming school year. I now understand how completely important your choice of curriculum is, and so I truly want to make the "right" choices. However, I also have learned that the "wrong" curriculum is not the end of the world. That is what's great about homeschooling...flexibility! I can keep doing what works, and change what doesn't! A Beka has definitely worked for us for phonics, spelling, reading and language arts. Therefore, that decision is easy! I know Isaac has vastly improved in all of these subjects since the beginning of his first grade year. And, the way I measure a good curriculum (in my limited experience) is to ask myself: Did I use all/most of the curriculum. If I am skipping lots of the curriculum, I know its time to move on. If I am using most or all of it, its a winner!
For math, I have liked Developmental Mathematics, but have found that there are very key elements that are missing. I have had to supplement these workbooks for the past few months. I will probably look for something new for Isaac's second grade year, and have no idea what that might be at this point.
I am also considering "Five in a Row" for a supplemental reading program. I am still learning about it, but it seems like something that might work well for us.
I will keep doing lapbooks/unit studies, which coincides with FIAR. We will continue using this as a way to implement history, science, etc. Whether I will purchase an actual curriculum for these subjects remains to be seen.

Graham will be doing four year old preschool with me full time next year. I plan on using "Letter of the Week" with him, as well as preschool packs and lapbooks. I would like to purchase this for him for next year.

Friday, February 4, 2011


We are all done with our China unit study! This was such a great unit study, way better than I anticipated. When Isaac chose it, I was a bit surprised, but it was a really an enjoyable study for both of us.
Here he is with his lapbook:

The paper dragon he made:

Here are some pictures from "Chinese New Year" night at the library. Dave took him and they both had a great time. Love this picture:

Practicing chopsticks:

Making his paper dragon:

There are some fabulous chinese-themed children's storybooks out there. Here are a few we read:

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Answered Prayers...

Last Saturday, my sister in law and I were at the Women of Faith event at Hope Lutheran Church here in Fargo. In-between sessions, I happened to mention to her that I was in need of a good daily Bible devotional/lesson for Isaac. I have bought a couple, but have not been impressed. I told her that what I really wanted was a daily devotional based on scripture only, with maybe a few application questions to go with it. It seems like what is out there for children is only daily devotionals that are stories, with maybe one Bible verse thrown in for good measure.
A few minutes passed, and it was time for door prizes. Keep in mind I NEVER win anything. I sat stunned as my name was drawn. I went up to the front to claim my prize, and it was this book:

It was EXACTLY what I had been looking for! The back of the book even says it is ideal for homeschoolers!
Each day, there is approximately one chapter of scripture to read, followed by five or so questions pertinent to the daily reading. And, these are not froo-froo questions. They have a little meat to them, which is how I like it. Also, there is a section under the scripture for further study of various words and their meanings, or other contextual things (just like an adult study Bible, except it is geared to children).
I LOVE it when our Heavenly Father answers prayers that quickly and that clearly. It doesn't usually happen that way, but when it does, it is such a good reminder that I am not in this alone.

More lapbooking fun: LEGOs and a Batman Preschool Pack

Sometimes when I blog about a project we have just done, I say "It was a lot of fun" and then I ask myself...was it fun for me or for the kids? Usually, the fun is a little less evident on their part. But, with the LEGO lapbook we just completed, I can honestly say Isaac had a lot of fun. (click on lapbook to see it bigger)

We learned about the history of Legos and about the company itself. We learned the process of making LEGOs and the Scientific ideas behind why they fit together.

Isaac got most excited when he did some graphing of how many LEGOS of various colors he had in a cup. I didn't know he would enjoy doing something like this, but he did!
He also had to do some adding and subtracting as he guessed how many LEGOS were in a cup, how many he actually had, and how much he was off on his guess.

Graham did a Batman Preschool Pack recently (click here to find out more), and had lots of fun with that. This child is a sponge, and soaks up every moment of "school" that he can get. He wakes up in the morning asking me if we can "do school." Hope that love for learning lasts!

Graham did a good job "catching the bad guys" and practicing his pre-writing skills.

I found a great website recently (I always say I couldn't homeschool without the internet, and that is totally true!) with all kinds of activites you can do with preschoolers. This is one of the ideas that came from childcareland
He had lots of fun sorting fake gemstones into a muffin tin by color. Kept him busy for probably 20 minutes, which is a record for Graham!

We are wraping up Isaac's study of China right now. As our final activity, he is headed to the library night for "Chinese New Year" perfect is that? Great timing! He will be making a paper dragon and practicing his skills at using chopsticks.