You can find entries on a specific topic if you'd like by clicking on the subject under TOPICS in the left column. There's all sorts of stuff- Lapbooking, Lesson Plans, Recipes, Projects, and More! If you're a homeschooling blogger or have a site geared towards homeschoolers and would like to trade links, let me know!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Free Phonics Website for Pre-K and Up.

I just wanted to share this great website I found for my daughter the other day. 

It's a free website (YAY!) that is geared toward teaching phonics - perfect for our little ones!  My daughter is in love with it!

Hope you enjoy it as much as we have.  :)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Busy Bag

"What is a Busy Bag?", you ask?  We'll get to that in a moment.  :)

I'm Kristin from over at  Homemaker@Heart currently lending my "expertise" (yeah right Lol) to MandyMom and sharing my homeschooling experiences.  I have a 3 1/2 year old daughter who is SO eager to learn, everyday is an adventure to her (and to myself).  This is our first "official" year of homeschooling. - preschool! :)  I'm winging it and Kylie is loving every minute of it! 

Back to the Busy Bag....

My Grandmother made this very bag for me when I was about 6 years old. (If you do the math, she made this bag roughly 20 years ago!)  You know how Grandma's keep everything.  :)  I was near near tears when I saw Kylie's face as she tore the wrapping paper off of this on Christmas morning!  I remembered how much fun I had with this, how I carted it everywhere with me and now Kylie was going to get that same experience! 

This is what was inside:

A deck of cards - we use these to play Old Maid, War and Slap Jack (or Slap Queens, sevens or twos) "My First Dictionary" - which is great because there is large colorful pictures that go with the definitions, construction paper - which we'll use for just about everything, Go Fish - this deck is kind of neat.  Instead of asking for numbers, in this game you ask for either animals or letters.  IE you can either ask for "b's" or "bears", 120 Bible sing-a-long songs and a work book.  Hours and hours of homeschooling fun and lots of knowledge to be learned. 

There is also a  pocket on one side that holds pencils, one on the otherside that holds a ruler and the scissors, glue and crayon pockets in the front. 

This morning Kylie lugged this bag up to the kitchen table while I was doing up the breakfast dishes and got back down.  A few moments later she came back with 2 bears and a dolly.  I let her go and kept doing things in the kitchen.  A moment later I hear her taking to her stuffed animals "Now you need to obey Mommy.  Today we're going to read about Winnie the Pooh."  I asked her what she was doing and she said "I'm homeschoolin' my bears Mom, they need to learn too!" 

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Homemade Play Dough

I have twin boys that just turned 4 and a daughter that is 9. I sometimes have a little difficulty getting the boys to patiently wait for their "schooling" while I work with my daughter. I am so blessed that the boys love "school". We don't do any official curriculum, but we have certain things we work on regularly: saying their abc's, counting orally and with objects, spelling their names orally (and now starting to write it), reading books, coloring, etc. The problem is sometimes they are done with a independent activity before I can finish with my daughter.
I love the idea of them having an activity box, and often times they will get out their blocks and play with them. But I recently found something they love even more - play dough!

I had seen recipes for homemade playdough on the internet and decided to try it. I wasn't sure how it would go, but it was worth a try. I made a batch last night with things from my kitchen (plus I purchased some Alum out of the spice section of the grocery store). There are lots of recipes on the internet - you can just google "homemade play dough" like I did. Most of them called for large amounts of flour (like 4 cups) but I wanted to try smaller version first. So, here's the recipe I found online and used:

Alum Playdough

2 cups flour
1 cup salt
2 tablespoons of Alum
1 cup water
2 tablespoons oil
liquid food coloring

Pour dry ingredients into large pan. Stir together to mix. Stir oil and food coloring into the water. Pour liquid into the dry ingredients while mixing, squeezing and kneading the playdough. If too sticky, add more flour. Keeps best in the fridge.

I found that we did need like an extra tablespoon of flour.. and there was enough for each of my 3 kids to have plenty to play with. You could add a little extract to make different scents - but I didn't want to entice the boys to eat it. It is all natural since all the ingredients are edible and from the kitchen, but I don't believe it would taste very good. Perhaps that would be for an "older crowd". They sat and contently played with it for a couple hours last night (until bedtime).

The boys weren't sure what to do with it at first, and I decided next time I would give them some cookie cutters to use with it. I also noticed that as I put it away - the dough was a little dry. It will probably need some more water and a little oil when we get it out again. You could also do different colors to give some variety.

Until next time, much love and God bless.

Courtney Short-Prudhomme
Homeschooling Mom Extraordinaire

Thursday, October 1, 2009

A difference in schooling

I want to share a comment posted on my blog, that I found in my inbox this morning.

"Hi there, I just found your blog and I have been reading it all. :) Just wanted to share my $0.02. I am a native of Brazil and married and living in the USA. I have 3 children and one more on the way and we homeschool. In Brazil, children go to school for half a period. They either go to school in the morning or in the afternoon. We spent 11 years in school instead of 12 years. We don't waste our time with classes like Home Economics, Typing, Drama, Music, etc in school. those are subjects that are taken in your personal time at your own cost, after school. We are still a gifted and talented country. :) Everyone has to take Algebra, Chemistry, Physics, Foreign language in High School. By the time you finish HS you had Calculus.

I went to Public school in California for 2.5 years. I went to Middle and high school. I can tell you that the US school system is weak and deficient. Teachers do not use their time wisely in school. There is a lot of wasted time. There is NO need for 10 hours of school a day, 5 days a week!!! I believe like you do that we as parents are the ones that should be training our children. They are precious gifts from God and we need to spend time pouring our lives into theirs. I truly enjoy my children and love to see them learn and blossom AT HOME. I think we Christian homeschoolers are blessed that we have seen the Light. :) I believe the whole Public school system has nothing to do with education but indoctrination, but that is another subject for another day. :) Be blessed, Tereza"

One thing I want to point out is that, in reality, children today go to school for 14 years, from Pre-K to 12th grade. When I was a kid, Kindergarten was a half-day event, but now, it's not uncommon to have a full-day Kindergarten.

I don't think American children could even fathom attending half-days for their whole grade school "career", but they sure would enjoy it!

Thanks for sharing, Tereza!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

How is it going?

So, we're officially into Autumn now. How is your school year going so far? What are the ages of your "students"?

This year, my daughter, Merika, is in first grade and my second child, Nolyn, is in preschool. However, both of them are doing the same curriculum. Having children close in age has been a great benefit in this area, as the same curriculum can be slightly altered to fit both kids, even though they are about two years apart. They work together, helping each other out.

Keagan is two, so he's not doing any official work, but enjoys doing his activity tray and sitting in on lessons and activities with his siblings.

Some days are a little slow, as I am currently 10 weeks pregnant, and sometimes feel very queasy or overwhelmingly tired!

Anyway, let us know how things are going for you- what are your frustrations, what excites you about this year, and what are your hopes?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

So many workbox blog links your mind will explode

Okay, so I gave in and bought Sue Patrick's e-book- The Workbox System. Let me tell you, I love it. I already knew I loved the idea, but reading her book made me adore it even more.

Of course, this should be no surprise to her as her system has taken the homeschool community by storm! It's hugely popular! I wish I had the money to go purchase this all right now, but my husband has a big job coming up and, unforunately, has to shell out money from his own pocket for it. He'll be paid back by his company, but this means that money will be a little tight for now.

So, to prove it's popularity, more links to SPWSers!

I love Julie's set-up. It's always nice to see how people implement this for multiple children. I like her use of magazine holders. That's a really nifty and space conscious idea.

I hope she doesn't mind that I borrowed her photo, but doesn't it look so beautifully organized and colorful?

I have to admit, I am really drawn to colorful, organized spots. And, I've always wanted a wall full of shelving like this.

Maybe you're like Mimi over at Frump's Findings. You're happy with most of your organizational methods, but you do like some of the ideas within the workbox system. Mimi tweaked her system a bit by using "workboxes" labeled with the days of the week. If nothing else, we can all glean some wisdome from the workbox method and come up with our own system that works for us.

My friend Amy from Milk & Cookies (and also co-owner of Heart of the Matter Magazine) has some great ideas, along with printables. Sue Patrick was one of the speakers at HOTM's online conferences, which I sadly missed. I am sure there's a whole new wave of homeschooling mothers getting pumped up about it now!

And, speaking of Heart of the Matter, Heather Woodie's article, Thinking Inside the Box: Using the Workbox System, is definitely a good read!

Leah is a mom of four who is using a modified version of the system for her children. She's given several examples of what goes in the clear drawer units, along with photos and other tidbits.

Hilltop Homeschool does the same in her blog. It's always interesting to read how others implement this sytem, and how it improves their homeschooling experience.

Sometimes (okay, often) I come across photos of workbox setups which are just so lovely that I want to grab it out of the picture and place it in my own homes. Cassie's set up is beautiful and ... *sigh*. She used an IKEA shelving unit I was eyeing earlier today in the catalog. Seeing it used as I had intended make me want it all the more. I wonder if my husband could build it for cheaper... hmmmmmmmm...

Her bins are from Target, and man, do they fit nicely! Oh, and Cassie's "check in/check out" cards are "totally awesome duuude". [FYI, Sue Patrick's method calls for children to "clock in" and "clock out" of school, which I think it a great idea. Clocking in helps them get in "school mode".]

Have you noticed how my easy going/unschooling ways have morphed into more structure? Well, I'm finding that my kids are actually hungry for the structure now, which is pleasing, because I'm at the point in life where having a plan and a structure of sorts is really helpful and brings a feeling of peace.

Anyway, I haven't been able to find Cassie's actual blog (if she has one), but you can read more about the system she's organized at Spell Out Loud. I think what is really appealing about it for me, besides the fact that is included IKEAness (one of my obsessions) is that she has used digital scrapbooking (my other obsession) to jazz it up.

Spell Out Loud has also blogged about her own setup, including her toddler workbox system.

Now, I'm a bit nosey, so I love to see what others are putting in their workboxes. Don't get me wrong, I love, love, love to see the workbox setup in photos, but it's like peeking inside someone's bathroom medicine cabinet.... (which I have never, ever done, btw *wink*) .... you often find some interesting stuff! Enduring Prize has opened up her "medicine cabinet", so to speak, and given us a glimpse of the items inside her children's workboxes.

Aimee reminds me of myself. "I am an unschooler at heart but it does drive both my parents and husband crazy that the kids should be doing more formal learning," the blogger at Journey2Learn writes. "I knew to get the kids back into schooling, I would need a new approach."

I can definitely relate. However, as I mentioned before, I've noticed my children are actually craving stucture, and.. well, so am I.

Meet Me In Melange is yet another homeschooling mom that has tweaked the system to fit her needs and style. "I didn’t want to change what we were doing completely, but I did see imense value in altering Sue Patrick’s origional idea to fit our needs. Any idea that helps organize a homeschooling family is worth it’s value in gold, as far as I’m concerned," she writes.

Exactly my thoughts!

Allison at Wazley Academy also uses the Sterilite-style drawer system, and, bless her heart, has actually posted pictures of what's inside. It's like Christmas in Workbox Land!

A Mother's Journal tells the story of her first day of Workboxism. Her day sounds so fantastic, it'll make any mother want to run out and purchase her system today! (Or at least buy Sue Patrick's book!)

Heather talks about some of the amazing organization systems out there, several of which she has already put into use in her own home, and how these revolutionary ideas invented by parents are so darn simple that we could have thought them up ourselves!

"What's most interesting to me about the vast majority of the wonderful ideas that float in homeschool circles is the absolute simplicity of so many that are embraced. We all know that necessity is often the mother of invention. Why, then, do so many of us seem to walk around with the same necessity and no invention?" she muses.

Oh, come on, you know we've all had those moments when a new idea is introduced to us by someone, and we exclaim, "Wow! That's simple and easy... but profound!" shortly followed by, "Why didn't I think of that?"

Tree House Academy
uses shelves to divide out the work, which is also a great idea. The bins are nice for the kids to be able to take to their work station, but going binless is much cheaper, and the kids can (obviously) still see the work they need to do. This is something woodworking husbands could make fairly, maybe with leftover bits of wood (if you're like our family, you may have small shelf-sized pieces littering your garage).

Tina at Being Made New also put the system into play, and I love the bright pink and blue boxes she chose. She said her first week using the system was "the best school week ever". She admits she had some reservations going in, but obviously she was cured within the first few days!

And, if all these links aren't enough to keep your head spinning with ideas, you can join the Workbox Yahoo! Group! I told you it was a major homeschooling craze! You might want to put it on digest, instead of single emails, as some months have brought in over one-thousand messages.

But wait... there's more! There's a whole blog devoted to this workbox system. It's called "What's in the Box?" and it is loaded with ideas (and fun memes!)

Now, I really, really can't wait to get started on it. I'm not a patient woman, but I guess I don't really have a choice, do I?