Thursday, October 16, 2014

A Peek into Our Home School Room

Want to see where some of our magic takes place? This is our school room...
I found the desks on Amazon, and think they're just about the cutest thing I've ever seen. Well, except for the boys that use them. :) The legs will extend up to make them into full-size desks in the future.

Here is a closer look at our art lines...
I made them using cute red drawer knobs and picture-hanging wire from Hobby Lobby. That's also where I found the little red wall baskets.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Work it, work boxes!

If you know what these are... chances are you're a home schooler!

Besides being a fun burst of color in our home school room, this little wonder is a tool of organization called work boxes! There are several ways to use work boxes, and I tried a couple of them before finding a good fit for us.

In each drawer (work box) I keep the supplies needed for one subject. Then it's easy to grab & go.

They each have a number circle on them that is laminated for durability and stuck on with sticky velcro. When a subject is done for the day, my little student pulls off its number circle and replaces it with a check mark circle.

Now my son can see what subjects he's done with for the day and how many are left before he's finished with school. There's no need to ask me if we're almost done (which of course is as beloved of a question as "are we there yet?" in the car...).

In our last workbox I keep a little reminder to clean his desk and sharpen his pencils for the next day, after which he can help himself to gum.

I started out loading the drawers nightly with only what was needed for the next day, but the down side to that was having to add and remove things from the boxes on a daily basis. And doing it in the evening.

After talking to a friend about how she uses her work boxes, I now keep everything possible for each subject in its box at all times, whether we'll use it the next day or not. I also leave every subject's work box in place whether it will be used the next day or not. Instead of looking through teacher's manuals the night before and loading each box for the next day, they're already loaded. All I do now in preparation is put numbers on the boxes of subjects we'll be covering that day. Since we rotate Science, Poetry, and Art (only doing one of those three each day), I leave the check mark in place on two of those boxes.

Next year when I'm printing my planner, I'll number my subject boxes in the planner to correspond with each subject's work box.

That's my version of work boxes in a nut shell. If you'd like to see how other people use work boxes, click here.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Another little tadpole!

Do you remember when I made frog and tadpole costumes for my boys?

I'm pretty sure that my little tadpole was the first baby in google image search history to be dressed as a tadpole. Well, you should be glad to know that now there's been a second little tadpole baby! Lauren M. used my tutorial to make this tadpole costume for her daughter's first Halloween. What's sweet is they always called her daughter "tadpole," even before she was born, so this was a perfect fit!

She says she isn't an experienced sewer but was able to follow along just fine. I think it turned out great, don't you?

Thanks Lauren!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Ear Flap Hats for Warm Trick-or-Treaters!

Do you remember when I shared my pattern for ear flap hats?

There are many variations you can make to this pattern, and it's great for Halloween because you can add eyes or ears to it for a number of different costumes. 

One of my lovely readers, Chelsea K, used my ear flap hat pattern as part of her son's Halloween costumes for the last two years. Here's the hat used in the Pocoyo costume she made him...

And here's the hat as part of a dog costume she made him the next year...

They live in Maine so she was glad to find an easy pattern to keep her son warm while trick-or-treating!

Thanks for sharing Chelsea!

To see lots of other cute ways my readers have used this hat pattern, visit my original post!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Easiest DIY Shelves Ever

In the process of organizing our garage, I came across the easiest shelving option ever. I just stacked up some Sterilite crates from WalMart, zip tied them together through the holes, and VOILA! A cute little shelving unit!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Bind it Up, Baby!

You may have noticed that I'm a little bit of a do-it-yourselfer. Today I'm going to show you one of my favorite tools I use in some of my do-it-myselfing. Let me introduce my Pro-Click Binding Machine...

This slick little device allows me to do my own binding. We use it for notebooking, binding school papers at the end of the year, and making my own planner.  

What's unique about the Pro-Click is the spines they use. You can "zip" them open or closed, allowing you to add more papers to something even after you bind it.

How cool is that?! (It's great for me since I usually change my mind later and decide to add something extra!) I love it! 

What are some of your favorite teacher tools?

Monday, August 18, 2014

Our Plan for First Grade

I thought I'd share what we'll be studying this year because...

Language Arts: 

I ended up writing a program of my own with a lot of help from The Three R's by Ruth Beechick. We'll be doing much of what you can read on my Writing page.

For reading, we'll keep going at his pace with easy readers. We're also going to use the Victory Drill Book, for practicing phonics, spelling, and word-building. Just for fun, I'm getting DICEcapades Word Pirates for game days. I am a believer in practicing skills with games rather than flash cards. It's more fitting for young children and doesn't zap the life out of school.


We did Right Start Math, Level A last year and loved it, so this year we'll be doing level B. It is a very hands-on math program with learning strategies that make SENSE, and make learning fun (or as fun as Math can possibly be!). (Read more about it in my Right Start review!) I can tell that my son is getting a great foundation as we work through this program together. I just hope I can keep up w/ the one-on-one time it requires, with a new baby in the house! (That's one thing that would make a regular "go sit down and do your math workbook all by yourself" program handy. But as long as I can swing it, we'll stick with Right Start.)

Social Studies (Bible, History, Geography)

We are studying ancient history this year, with a focus on Egypt and other civilizations of the time period. Our history curriculum is Simply Charlotte Mason History Module 1: Genesis - Deuteronomy & Ancient Egypt, which is the first module of a six-year chronological history program that incorporates world geography and social studies. For a timeline, we're using Stick Figuring Through the Bible by Grapevine, which is a great resource for making a child's first timeline in a visual way that makes sense to them. We're also using Visualize World Geography to learn the African countries, and notebooking about them with Discover Africa Notebooking Packet.


We are studying astronomy this year, using Apologia's Exploring Creation with Astronomy, and we'll get to do activities, labs and make an astronomy lapbook together with our co-op. If you're studying astronomy, check out this Out of This World notebooking packet!

I'd like to teach the little guy some constellations when we have clear nights. For that we'll reference a book we already own and love... The Stars: A New Way to See Them, by H.A. Rey. If you or your children are interested in learning to find the constellations, this is THE BEST book to use. I promise.

Since science is only scheduled two days per week, I'd like to also read a couple books the Simply Charlotte Mason book list of Living Science Books for young children. We've already started our first one and are enjoying it.


We're reading aloud classic children's literature together. I'm using the recommendations from Simply Charlotte Mason, Book Group 1 for Younger Students. Here are our books for the year:


We're using I Can Do All Things, by Barry Stebbing which is a beginning book of drawing and painting. Depending how much we do it this year, we may continue using it slowly next year as well. 

Character Building

Remember the co-op I mentioned before? I'm teaching the history portion, a friend is teaching the science portion, and another friend is teaching a character building class. We're using the book recommendations from Simply Charlotte Mason, which are:

A day or so a week we'll be doing an Enrichment class. Our first trimester will be poetry (reading "A Child's Garden of Verses" by Robert Louis Stevenson, our second trimester will be a music study about Beethoven and the last trimester will be a Van Gogh picture study (using this picture portfolio from Simply Charlotte Mason).

Our Daily Plan
We don't do every subject every day; several of them rotate. Here's our approximate daily plan:
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Math
  • Social Studies (Bible/History/Geography)
  • Science, Literature, Art, OR Enrichment

Well, that's my plan for the year, what's yours?