Sunday, May 31, 2009

Guess what came to our house?!!

Oh yeah! The ice cream truck!! I was right in front of him in the neighborhood, and I called Joel to bring the girls out. He turned around a few houses before us (we are the last on a dead end), so I turned around and chased him down (oh yes, I did!). I asked if he'd come back down, so my girls got to get ice cream from the ice cream truck!! It really is the small things in life, isn't it? What fun!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Where do you get your great ideas?

I would be nothing without the generous people on the internet!!

Here are some places I go a lot!

~ Yahoo! has groups for almost anything you can imagine! Here is a great one for workboxers!

~ Homeschool Share is a great resource! It is mostly based on Five In A Row (FIAR) and designed for lapbooks and notebooks, but you can often use the resources in many other ways (filefolder games, extra practice, etc). They are going to have a workbox section soon! (Homeschool share also has a yahoo! group.)

~ I have a Delicious account. It is a networking site for bookmarks. You can see mine by clicking here. You can get on lots of trails to more great stuff. the blue numbers on the right of each description shows how many other people have bookmarked the same page. You can click on different users to see what they have listed. Fun stuff!

~ There are many homeschool message boards. I have recently joined The Homeschool Lounge. It looks to be very active, and full of good information.

Okay, your turn! What are your favorite places to visit? Do you have a Delicious account to share with us? Do tell!

I will do a post soon of some of my favorite homeschool bloggers, but you can look on my profile at blogs that I follow for a great list!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Tot School

Have you read about Tot School? I am going to be using this for a lot of ideas for Anna this year. Go here to read all about it. That link has a page of all the bloggers who participate in tot school, and gives a great description of what it's all about. You can even use many of these ideas in workboxes!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Are you planning for your next school year?

As you know from my previous posts, I am in planning mode! I am working towards a schedule to keep us on track so that I can manage our home, school, socializing, and still enjoy down time and fun time.

Here are some nuggets I'm trying to remember as I make plans and set priorities.

~ I will plan my quiet time for early in the morning. I draw my strength from Christ, and do not want to train my children or relate to my family outside of Him. I will begin my day in the Word and in prayer, so that I will be working in His strength.
~ I will exercise more regularly. I need the energy and good health to keep up!
~ I am going to work on training my children to do more chores. The more help I have the more time I have to do fun things with my family.
~ I am going to schedule planning time into each week so that I can sit down to focus on our calendar or events, our school plans, menu plans, and the like. When I have a plan, I can get more accomplished and spend less time wondering what we will be doing, eating, going, etc.

I am going to plan school time for each of the girls this year. I have not been focusing enough on Anna, and while I don't think she needs formal schooling, she needs some intentional time from me. I am going to be compiling a list of themes, skills, and the like that I want to do this year.

I love planning time!!

What are some new goals you have for the upcoming year?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

What I'm Reading

We are headed to the beach tomorrow, and I have my reading bag ready! Want to know what I'm planning to read? Of course you do! Right?

Anyways, I'm going to tell you either way :)
~Managers of Their Homes by Steve and Teri Maxwell ~ This is a great book about scheduling for homeschool families. I've borrowed a book from another lady, but I will be ordering the book when my homeschool budget recovers from convention! The book includes a scheduling kit, and I know this is a book that I will re-read every year.

~Just Around the Corner by Steve and Teri Maxwell ~ This one is a devotion book by the same people who wrote Managers of Their Homes. She has written a series of devotions for moms and he has written them for dads. I am being encouraged and challenged by each one. This collection is from about five years (1996-2001 I think). They are still writing these monthly, and you can subscribe to them for free on their website.

Teri Maxwell has also written several other books including Managers of Their Chores, Managers of Their Schools, and Homeschooling with a Meek and Quiet Spirit. You can read all about them on their website at (They will be in my town this fall, and I can't wait!!).

The other two books in my bag are To Train Up a Child by Michael Pearl and Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Trip. I am about half way through Shepherding a Child's Heart and it has been wonderful so far.

What's on your reading list for this summer?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Workbox Intro

The Work of Childhood blog is hosting a carnival of homeschoolers who are using the workbox system. She's titled it Thinking Outside the Box. This week we are introducing ourselves and telling a bit about our homeschool. . . If you are thinking about or doing workboxes, this should be a great place for information, ideas, and inspiration!

Here are some questions she posed on her blog.

How many boxes do you fill? Right now, my 5 year old is doing 9 boxes. I hope to move up to 12 before Christmas. My 3 year old will start with 6 boxes in Augusst or September.
Do you expect your children to go in order? Mary Helen (5) goes in order. I think I will probably let Anna (3) do in any order.
Do you use the schedule strips? no, but I am considering it beginning in the fall.
How long does it take you to fill the boxes? I try to plan ahead, which takes about an hour a week, then about 10-15 minutes daily.
Do you fill your work boxes EACH night with all new items? Some of our boxes are themed, so I just pull the next math worksheet out of the book or add a new Bob book to the box. I am trying to have 4-6 that are the same theme, but not really the same exact all the time.
What do your kids do with the empty boxes? They go right back to their spots.
Do you put away the ‘supplies’ each night? or do your kids? I have a box on top of the workbox shelf where she puts completed items. I put them away weekly usually.
Anything else you want to add? I'm excited to get more done and we spend more time together. I am also using lots of the "extras" that I've purchased along the way. I hope I can do this successfully with Anna (3) this fall!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Planning Time!

We're still doing beach week here, but that's not what I'm blogging about today.

Even though I plan to do school year-round, I can't help but see Fall as our "new year". I am gearing up to get us on a different schedule, one that will include some more things for Anna. I am going to do some "Tot-School" with her, and she is going to have her own workboxes.

So, I am evaluating and setting some priorities and goals for our family. I am prayerfully considering what our days, weeks, and months will look like next year.

I am making lists of cleaning jobs that have to be done, menu idea, theme ideas, workbox ideas, field trip ideas, things I want Anna to learn, etc.

Are you setting goals for next year? What would you like to accomplish in 09/10? What are you going to do to see that it gets done?

Editing after Mama Snail's comment ~

In your homeschool calendar, are you doing like 6 weeks on, 6 weeks off. Or 9 on 9 off? Or 3 on, 3 off? Or just take time off when you want? We don't set a calendar per se, but we will pretty much go all year. We will be taking breaks when life gets hectic, when we take vacations, or when we get overwhelmed with house duties such as deep cleaning or yard work :)

When will your girls "graduate" to the next grade level? In August? Which is why you think of it being the new year.... What about a first day of school tradition/ceremony...are you going to do something for that? Mary Helen began Kindergarten in March. If she were in the school system, she would be wrapping up her Pre K year now. We will continue on with Kindergarten this coming year, and she will move to first grade in the Summer or Fall of 2010. We will celebrate when we decide to end Kindergarten, and have our picture made for the first day of 1st grade. I don't know yet what I'm going to use to determine that she "passes" kindergarten :)

Are you going to make a home management binder? I have a home management binder, and I plan to do some purging, some adding, and hopefully a lot more utilizing of it for this year! I also plan to order Managers of Their Homes when my homeschool budget recovers from convention so I can fit everything into our day, and hopefully make better use of our time.

I am curriculum/material shopping planning now. I haven't set goals yet. But to make sure it gets done...I have you to help me!
I am SO glad we have each other for accountability now! We will have to get together with our binders one day and all our plans, etc!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Imagine the Possibilities!

This is very random, but I think we are going to enjoy it!

I was making some craft stick word families for Mary Helen, and was trying to figure how we could keep them separated . I decided these small bathroom cups would be perfect, but I didn't know how I could make them stand up. I pulled out this foam board from some other project and hot glued the cups in rows. As I was glueing, I thought of all the fun things I could do with the board!

Here's the board ~
use for patterns (can use pom-poms, beans, noodles, etc)
use for sorting

for word families
you can also use them for alphabetical order, sight words, adding, etc.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Beach Day 2!

Today was one of those days. We got a late start and Mary Helen and I seemed to take forever to do our jobs this morning. So, we had lunch late, quiet time late, and school WAY late. But, we got it done and we didn't stress out about it.

First up, I'll show you what was in our boxes. I had a math sheet and her Bob books that I didn't take a picture of. In the first picture you see a sheet about jellyfish that we read and then she colored, the supplies to make a jellyfish craft, and a card that says "Help Mommy make a special recipe". those were her last three boxes.

Here you see her Draw Write Now book, a set of word family craft sticks (-at was today's family), and her sign language cards.

This is a sorting/counting activity we did using colored goldfish.

Here are pictures of her doing her thing!
Sorting goldfish.
Making jell-o aquariums.
showing off her jellyfish...

All in all, we're having a great time!

Beach Theme Books

Head over to the Bookworm's Booklist for some great recommendations for a beach theme!

She has great booklists for lots of themes. Her blog is bursting with books! Enjoy your visit and show her some love with your comments!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Beach Week Begins!

We kicked off our beach theme today. Mary Helen did lots of work today! I moved her from 6 boxes to 9 boxes today. She was a real trooper through it all ~ she even had a couple of extra chores today that she did without complaining! She is really maturing!

Here are some pictures from our day!

Here are our workboxes for today:

1. Math Sheet (we are using Horizons)

2. Bob books (we read book 3 today. it is challenging for her, but she is doing great!)

3. Shells and palm trees ~ she had to make two patterns for me.

4. Draw Write Now - Our book has a whole section of ocean habitats! We spread one lesson over three days. She writes two lines on each of the first two days then does the picture on the last day.

5. sign language cards ~ we are starting with the alphabet. I am adding in 5 a day until we finish, then I will introduce word cards more slowly.

6. Fishy swizzle sticks - used as pointers for our ocean words in the "beach" area.

7. Book about animals that live in the water, fun foam ocean glasses, and Nemo gummies.

8. Two worksheets: one about fish with several fish to color, and one to count different things under the ocean (

9. Leap Frog phonics puzzle game.

Here she is with her shell/palm tree patterns.

and doing her Draw Write Now book.
ocean words (words printed from kidssoup, pocket charts from dollar spot at Target!)

Reading at the beach!

Anna also enjoyed the Nemo gummies!

When Mary Helen finished the shell patterning, I put the shells and palm trees in the pool for Anna and my day care child to play with. They had a ball too!
We have lots more fun stuff planned for the next couple of weeks!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

We're Going to the Beach!

We are taking two beach trips back to back beginning in a couple of weeks, so we are going to have a beach/ocean theme for the next two weeks. I have some fun things planned, and I will let you all in on the fun. Here is our beach area.

It is set up in part of our playroom, behind our couch. I will use the kiddie pool to corral sand activities that are on the agenda. The girls have had a blast already! They played in there for a couple of hours tonight. They had all of their kiddie chairs lined up with all of their stuffed animals sitting around the pool.
ever see a kangaroo at the beach before?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Busy Week!

I wrote and scheduled several posts for this week which is good, because I have not been motivated to update! I have had quite a week trying to get all my stuff organized. Since we are going to school year round, and our breaks will be times that we are super busy or out of town, I don't want to take off to regroup. So, we've been doing school, and I've been reorganizing all of my homeschool stuff and life in general. I don't know about anyone else, but it seems when I work on one thing, a thousand others fall apart!
Thankfully, I have a wonderful husband. He took us all out to eat and to Lowes for a few hours last night to get me out of the house and to stop focusing on everything that needs to be done around here. Then when we got home, he did a couple loads of laundry. Bless him!

So, here are some highlights from our week.

I got this critter carnival at the convention last week and we found some roly polies (pill bugs) in our backyard to play in it. While they watched them play, I looked up information on them and read it to the girls. Mary Helen thought it was very interesting that they molt then eat their skin!
She was so taken by the roly polies, we decided to keep them. I read about what they needed and we fixed up a little home for them. It's hard to see, but there is one crawling on that stick.

Since then, she has added several worms and a snail to the collection. I couldn't find the snail to get it's picture, but here's the worm :) The snail is my favorite! I love to watch him come out of his shell and stick his antennas out. We will have to do some reading up on them for sure.

Here's Mary Helen with her first two Bob books. She can read them both! She is very proud of herself, and mommy is rather proud too!

Here is the closet I've been working on. I have all of our activities and books listed on index cards in a recipe box. Now when I plan our week, I pull out the index cards and when I get ready to fill our workboxes, I take my index cards to the closet and pull out what I need. Hopefully this will save me from looking through everything we have everyday.

Here is the closet that needs my attention. I am hoping to get shelves put in it like the other closet soon.

I have another busy weekend, but I hope to get some good stuff set up for our beach theme next week! We are going on two different beach trips in two weeks, so I figure we'll learn something about them before we go!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Discovery Toys Overload

By far, the Discovery Toys was my most expensive investment from the weekend. Here's what I got:

This Build a book has pages of pockets (like baseball card albums) and you use the cards to sort each page by a certain criteria. I think I will start it off with Mary Helen in workboxes.

Playful patterns ~ I love that these are slightly textured pattern shapes. I will use these for Mary Helen's workboxes as well. These are great skills, and just the type of thing she enjoys!

These fancy puzzle trains will be given to Anna for her birthday in July.

It's a Match! I don't know how to describe what this does, but it is awesome! It's one of those things that I looked at online and passed it over, but when I looked at it and played with it, I loved it! It has four books and covers many, many skills. Another one for the Workboxes.

*That's one of the best things about the convention ~ you can touch, play, flip, etc each item before you buy it.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Books! Books! Books!

At our house, we love workbooks and activity books. It is not unusual for Mary Helen to sit down with a dollar store alphabet workbook and do the whole thing while she watches tv.

These are sticker books and a few activity books. The stickers are all reusable, so these will last as long as we keep up with all our stuff! These are going in my bag for when I need quick, quiet, small entertainment (church, doctor's office, etc.)

The Draw Write Now books caught my eye, I love the way they are set up to let them draw, write, and learn all at once! I actually got this book in my free gift for subscribing to The Old Schoolhouse magazine. I picked up the workbook at another vendor during the convention. I plan to do one of these a week in workboxes.

These are coloring and activity books to fit themes I plan for us to do in the coming year. The two blue books have information on lots of animals included.

Here are some of Anna's goodies that will go in her quiet time bags.

Drawing books that Mary Helen enjoys. The Dora one will go in her vacation travel box. The others will be in quiet time bags.

Paint with water! I never see these books around here. These will go one page at a time in workboxes.

These books will be split up between summer travel, quiet boxes, and workboxes.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Phonics Reading Rods Activity Pack

I just think this is the neatest thing. Mary Helen loves rhyming, so I think she'll do well with word family type lessons. I plan to use this in our workboxes and have her complete one card each time it's in a box.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Homeschool Convention Time!

Boy, am I tired! I spent the last two days with great friends doing something we LOVE ~ shopping and planning for our homeschooling year!

Last year was my first convention, and I just loved it! I got so much encouragement and there are so many vendors with so many great things for our school. This year, we went to a different, and the workshops weren't very appealing to me, so I didn't pay the extra to hear them. I just went to shop. And shop I did! I am all set for the coming year. One thing I love about the convention shopping is that there are things that are good for things other than homeschool. I got several things to extend our curriculum, but I also got things for our quiet time bags, workboxes, and for out and about (restaraunts, car trips, doctors offices).

I think next year I will go to the other convention because I loved all of the workshops so much and the vendors were basically the same at both.

I will show you most of my stuff throughout the week and tell you how I plan to use it. One small piece of advice if you are planning your first convention...take one of these:

I filled mine up on Friday and Saturday. I made the little liner so my small things wouldn't fall through and so I'd have a pocket for small snacks and a bottle of water.

I'll start my posts of everything I got tomorrow!