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? 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Ideas for the New School Year

School Box or Time Capsule...
Make a school box that you'll add to each year (or a separate "time capsule" each year)... Either hide the capsule to open at the end of the year, or tuck it away to open years in the future. The contents may include some of the ideas listed below. 

A Hand Tracing or Hand Print
At the beginning of each school year, trace your child's hand or make a hand print, then cut it out & laminate. I got the idea from Crissy's Crafts, although her idea is a little different, and goes along with the book "The Kissing Hand ." I love the idea of doing one hand each year then keeping them on a ring to see how they grow each year! 

Monday, August 4, 2014

DIY Planner

Last Spring in my before-the-baby-is-born spree of preparing all our Fall school stuff, I was re-evaluating how I keep our school records. I was using SkedTrack, which I think is a great tool, but it just wasn't a perfect fit for us since it is based on school hours and our state doesn't require us to track hours, just days. I looked at some pre-made paper planners which all had a LOT of stuff in them that I just don't need, so I ended up making my own. Surprisingly it wasn't too big of a deal. Here's what it looks like...

The first section is calendars, for my own reference to jot down appointments and things. I just printed some pre-made printable calendars online (from here).

Monday, July 28, 2014

DIY Natural Body Sprays

Remember my post about how pretty much all commercial skin care, bath & body products are full of BAD ingredients like parabens and mineral oil byproducts? (If not, read it here!) It'll probably come as no shock to you that artificial fragrances are bad for your skin (and the environment) too. They're a cheap, synthetic, chemical knock-off imitation of real fragrances found in nature. But you can make your own naturally-yummy-smelling body sprays using essential oils! (If you haven't found out already, be sure to check out what all the fuss is about essential oils!)

Besides smelling good, essential oils (when they're therapeutic-grade) are chock full of healing properties. So, when you make a body spray using therapeutic-grade essential oils, then besides smelling good you get the added bonus of those oils' healing and aroma-therapeutic qualities. It's a win-win! 

Today I'm sharing the recipes for a couple body sprays I tried at a Make-n-Take party. They both smell scrumptious.

Here's the base recipe (found here)...
  • 8 oz distilled water in a spray bottle
  • 1 TBSP witch hazel
  • 20-30 drops essential oils (see examples below!)
To make it, just combine ingredients, seal the bottle tightly and give it a good shake. Remember to shake it before each use.