Monday, September 1, 2014

This Week in Homeschool

So last weekend while all of my kids were out of the house, I rearranged and reorganized the kids room, part of our room, and the living room. So school work itself was pretty light this week since I was still doing a number of touch ups on things.

In an effort to maximize storage and access to frequently used items, minimize clutter, and keep Kit from demolishing all of the big kids treasured possessions, we made some changes to the bedrooms. 


After swapping the girls' dressers, we then had room for lockers. Yup, I found lockers on sale at Home Depot online, and it was a very helpful solution to fix several problems. 

1.) They gave me a place to put Kit's school supplies, without it being open shelving, which is irresistible to Kit. Out of sight, almost out of mind, is a very important rule with her. 

2.) It gave me a place to put away, but still have within the big kids reach items that Kit is not allowed access to either at all, or without strict supervision. And again it is neatly tucked away.

3. The big kids finally have a specific place for their treasures, and for school stuff that we don't need every day, but often enough to need quick and easy access. The kids have the option of putting locks on theirs if they need them, and we can on Kit's also if need be, but so far she has mostly left them alone.

In the living room we've made some big changes as well. And hopefully they will make it easier for everyone to better keep things organized.

Our library books now have a permanent basket in which to stay when they are not being read. This already has made it easier to round up library items on their due date!

A second basket provides a home for a couple dozen of Kit's books. Not only does it give her easy access, she can also easily put them away herself. Not that she does, but hopefully, in time, she might!

One of Kit's new school items is called Goki. I don't know what that means or where it is from originally, because I forgot to look before I threw away the box. Oops! The little wooden cards show the beads in an arrangement, and the goal is to move the pegs in the puzzle to make them match the card. Kit and I have done this a couple times this week. I encourage, and guide, her to match the pattern. But I don't push it. Cooperating with directions is a long and winding process, and we have time. I'm fine if she spends most of her time just playing and exploring moving the pieces.

The adorable little puzzle below has been the most used "school" activity in the house since I opened it Saturday night. Since I was kid-less that evening, I had the luxury of being the first to explore it's adorable, chunky, little pieces. Kit spotted it immediately upon coming home from her weekend at Auntie's, and made multiple rearrangements. Grace literally spent hours playing with it on Monday. And Zak creates tiny sculptures every time he sits down on the couch next to it. In fact, it has become a great way to hold a good conversation with him, as when he's playing with it, his body is calm, hands are busy, and his mind seems to slow down a bit. So this little preschool puzzle called Day and Night, by Smart Games, has turned out to be a family favorite!

In fact, the big kids, like and have played with every item from Kit's supplies that we have opened so far! These wooden threading toys, again captivated Zak, and he happily sat completely focused on threading the lions mane and made calm conversation the whole time. 

Math this week went well. Zak decided he wanted to move on to his 7th grade Teaching Textbook, so we did. Grace took a couple of days and worked with her MiniLuk. This set came with her 1st grade curriculum, and we got a replacement set last year after too many pieces disappeared very shortly after Grandpa moved in. (Pretty sure from the number of pieces I saved from being thrown away by Grandpa that the missing ones were ones he tossed when one of us wasn't around to rescue them.) So the incomplete set keeps Kit quite happy, working next to Big Sister with her restored full set! These puzzles help stretch thinking skills, memory, patterns, and much more, and Grace really, really likes them! Probably going to need to get another expansion pack soon!

We had some fellow homeschoolers here again this Thursday, so I split them into teams for their Geography assignment. Our GeoSearch pages have worked out really well. The kids have gotten quite skilled at searching out the answers using the tablet. The girls got so distracted looking at pictures of native Louisiana wildlife, they forgot to write anymore down. And in the flurry of trying to finish quickly, we laughed at Zak's creation of two new states: North and South California! I knew he meant Carolina, but it was fun to point it out and hear him laugh when he realized his typo. :) He, however, gets irritated every time he does these and he gets to my typo: state logo. I really did mean to write 'state motto', but didn't catch it until after I had made about 30 copies. I assured him I would correct it on the next draft.  

One of the best parts of preschool is learning to use scissors! And not only did Kit get an adorable pair of toddler scissors, the kind you squeeze with your whole hand instead of trying to fiddle with finger holes, but she also got three progressive skills booklets! She gave a puppy and a kitty whiskers before moving on to chopping them up into tiny pieces! She thoroughly enjoyed the activity, and even happily helped clean it all up, thanks to the "clean up" card on her visual schedule!

Kit likes to play with her new farm counters when it's her choice of activity. The mat zips up at the corners, becoming a little carrier, and the pond becomes the lid! She cannot zip and unzip the set by herself yet, but again, we're in no hurry. The only thing I wound change with this set, is I would give the pigs an actual mud hole! We have to make her pigs bathe in the pond, an idea that took her some major convincing would work just as well as mud for play purposes. She makes it very clear that we just "pretend that is mud, because that is not mud, that is a pond, and pigs don't live in ponds! Right mama?" 
"Right, Baby." 

For the countless minutes a day that my monkeys can't sit still, which sometimes feels like all the minutes, these help out. Meet Rover (Kit insisted), he was another reason I splurged on the full Preschool Curriculum. The other bouncers I have had in storage for well over a year. I had found them on sale online, but we had our big purple weighted ball then and that was working just fine. But a few months ago, it started shrinking, and after several attempts at re-inflation, and progressively faster deflation, we finally told it thanks, and threw it out! That was a few months after the demise of out treasured Spin Disc, and I wanted to see how the kids might do with out both, as they are large items and take up a lot of space. The verdict has been in for a while, the kids have enormously more difficulty self-regulating without them. So after Kit got her dog with her school stuff, I pulled these out of the drawer, Daddy blew them up, and now the kids are happily bouncing and rolling again.   

They have a little more room to do this now too, since the rearrangement!

It was a slow week in science. But Friday, the super patient, super sweet teen, H, that I hired for the summer as a Mother's Helper one afternoon a week, came. I'm so sad that Friday was her last day, as her schedule has filled up. With her hefty homeschool course load and prior jobs, she is stretching her time pretty thin. We will miss her so much! She has been a huge help, in too many ways to mention! I don't go anywhere when she comes, instead I'm able to really punch out major projects that have been stacking up, sometimes for months! And the kids get to play, do projects, build forts, and so much more! This Friday afternoon was no less fun, H brought sugar cookie mix, and they mixed and smushed and cut out cookies, and frosted and sprinkled and decorated, and licked off the frosting to do it again! And after all they were full, Zak went to play Just Dance, but the girls got to crack open one of the new science kits. This one, called the Primary Science Set by Learning Resources, is designed specifically for little hands and curious minds and has it all. Goggles, test tubes, funnel, a magnifying glass, a beaker, tweezers, a flask, and droppers too! I had to stop in between loads of laundry to take pictures!

Both the girls loved it, but Kit turned full fledged chemist on us and it was the cutest thing to see her carefully pouring her perfectly purple concoction through the funnel into the flask, hold it up, examine it, give it a swirl, pour it back and then hand it to me, and confidently command, "try it!"

She is indeed her Great Granddaddy's great granddaughter! And her Auntie's niece! Her mother's daughter, brother's sister...yeah, it kind of runs in the family. Just a little. :)

And this week we started with spelling again. We had taken about six months off from official spelling work, mainly because we were incorporating it into other areas of writing, and having spelling as well was leading to a lot of grouchiness for all of us. Grace is having a much easier time with writing now though, and Zak has taken to doing most of his "writing" is the form of journaling, sometimes 2-3 pages a night! With comics and illustrations of course, but a whopping amount of writing for my child that I truly thought for a long time was going to have a life long struggle with that subject! He is well on his way to filling his second 5-subject notebook with WRITING!!! 

So we are starting at the beginning of the program that initially really helped Zak in fourth grade. (We started then in book 4, and while book 1 is simpler, he can certainly still benefit from the practice.) I really like the Sequential Spelling method of starting with a very simple base, and building the word list off of that, and throughout consecutive lists expanding on the base working in prefixes, suffixes, plurals, and even some proper names! It is a logic based program, and that helps to make it, in my opinion, more educating than pure memorization.

So that was our busy week. I hope yours was just as fun!

Linked up with:

Weekly Wrap-Up    Mommy A to Z Manic Mondays Blog Hop    Thoughtful Spot Weekly Blog Hop


  1. So much fun to have the range of ages and grade levels and be able to mix and match with all the kids, including the expanded homeschool visitors! There was a lot of merit in having all ages in the same schoolroom, once upon a time... Very neat supplies, supplements your curriculum and imaginative teaching methods nicely.

  2. You are so organised! I wish I was that ordered in my home. Great make overs :) x

    1. Thank you! I try, but we still have many disaster zones. Thank you for reading!

  3. Wow it sounds like you've done so much. I love the lockers and the new, organised look you have created. I also like the sound of the science experiment, it looks like a lot of fun! #sharewithme

    1. Thanks! I really am loving the lockers! Thanks for reading!

  4. Love those lockers and how you've organised everything. I'm a bit of a home-organising freak and love seeing how other people do things! #sharewithme

    1. Thank you Becky! Always a great feeling to get everything in it's place! Not that everything stays that way around here, but still. Thanks for reading!

  5. Love the green lockers! Thx for linking up at the thoughtful spot!

    1. Thank you for stopping by! Green was definitely the way to go for us!

  6. What a great idea about those lockers. Good use of space

  7. WOW you have definitely got prepared that is AMAZING. I would love to homeschool my kids but I don't think I have the patience I once thought I had. Big props to you! Looks like you will have a fun packed year too with all that amazing toys, tools, and oraganization skills! lol Thank you so much for linking up to Share With Me. It's my first week back in the UK and my one year blog birthday so it's very busy busy in the LTM household. I am hosting giveaways everyday this week so a bit behind on commenting. So sorry. #sharewithme

  8. Thank you! It's a lot of work, but well worth it. I LOVE homeschooling! Congrats on one year of blogging! Thanks for taking the time to visit and for such nice comments!