Tuesday, August 20, 2013

{Not} Back to School Pics

We are just about to start our 2013 - 2014 school year on Monday/Tuesday, so we just did our {Not} back to school pictures.

This year Dude is in 1st grade:

Strawberry is in Pre-Kindergarten:

Linebacker is just along for the ride:

And we couldn't leave Boy Wonder out:

Then it was time for a group shot....let's just pretend this only took 1 attempt, haha.

The kids all picked their desks, and I have all their individual work setup in them, so they wanted a picture at their desks:

We are planning to start next Monday/Tuesday and I already know of one thing that will put one day on hold. I have only planned a 4-day week, so we should be able to get it accomplished. Did I mention we are away camping this weekend.......

For His Glory!

I am linking up with iHomeschool Network's Not Back To School BlogHop

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Our Schoolroom Set-up

This week the {Not} Back to School Bloghop is featuring school rooms, so I have decided to follow suit and showcase our Schoolroom. I have just spent the summer organizing both curriculum and our new Schoolroom (formerly our formal living room which sat untouched). The room we are using is right inside our front door.
It is the first room people see when they enter our house, but I think we can keep it neat and not scare everyone off. Linebacker is snooping out the window as usual. It was important to me that we have lots of natural light and can see outside, but we live on a court so there won't be too much traffic to distract us. It is also separated enough from the rest of the house to eliminate other distractions. Here is a view of the whole room from the entrance of our house:

As soon as you enter our room, we have our Homeschool Vision posted on the wall (and apparently we forgot to put the plate back on the switch).
My husband and I sat down and answered some questions and then came together to compare answers and that is how our vision was put together. I wanted to hang it somewhere to remind us, as we enter/exit the room, of why we are doing this....especially on those challenging days.

In the middle of the room sit our desks. I wanted something where we were all together since my kids aren't readers yet and independent work is a few years off still. At the same time, I went with separate desks so that, down the road when they are working more separately we can move them around to different areas of the room.
. The kids each have their own desk, and until Boy Wonder needs his, I'm using it. We have these desks from Ikea (got them on a sale promotion, woohoo!) The chairs are also from Ikea (again, price reduction FTW!). In the main drawer on their desks is their daily learning binder, Dude's geo binder (didn't fit in the cupboard) and their pencil cases.
In the smaller drawer are their Bibles and handwriting binders:
and in the cupboards are their subject workbooks. Dude's cupboard has his Math U See on the top shelf, Bible colouring book and then dry erase board on the bottom, Strawberry has her Bible colouring book, cookie tray and dry erase board in hers.

Opposite the window is a built in bench my husband made a few years ago. We have made it a reading nook of sorts. We used dog beds from Costco as cushions since it was much cheaper then actually getting the real thing.

In this area I have Strawberry's All About Reading Uppercase Poster, All About Reading progress charts, our World Map, a poster I made for reading comprehension, and the ABC character cards that go with The ABCs of Godly Children.

On the long wall I have 2 big shelving units. One is a Martha Stewart Collection from Home Depot and the other is the Expedit from Ikea. These shelving units store every else we use, or will use, or just have. Our Bible and commentary collection alone take up 2 shelves ;) and that's without the 4 in our desks.

On another shelf is all my teacher's manuals that are currently in use, and beside them are the student books that aren't used everyday but are used quite a bit.

These shelves also store all of our "busy bag" style materials. I found these great containers at Target (again, on sale one week) to store everything in.

On another shelf is more of the All About Reading stuff. This one features our review and cards boxes as well as Ziggy!

These shelves are separated into categories (I'm a bit of an organization junkie) and are the extra and complimentary resources for some of our learning. One shelf is math, another Language, Bible/Preschool, and Science/Geography.

On top of these shelving units is where I have our Betty Luken's Bible in Felt resources (they are big and just don't fit anywhere else).

Beside the shelving is where I have some wall storage, and things we hang up. I have the workbox schedules:

Independent worksheets and activity pages:
I have them stored in file envelopes I picked up at Costco last year and then in a wall file pocket chart I got from Scholar's Choice a few years ago. They are sorted by type: Patterns, Numbers, Math, Counting, Alphabet tracing, etc.

Under the window is Dude's All About Reading/Spelling tile board:

Under the other side of the window is our workbox carts, I'm not sure exactly how we will use these yet, but I think I'll be putting in the daily supplies for activities and books they need to work on that are not in their desks already.

On the last half wall we have our morning learning book activities and the whiteboard and chalkboard for copywork.

Well, that's our schoolroom. I can't wait to get in here in a couple short weeks and get going, the kids are eager to start to. I just have a few last minute details to organize and we will be ready to go!

For His Glory!

I am linking up with the {Not} Back to School BlogHop, check it out!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Curriculum 2013 - 2014

The 2013-2014 school year is approaching quickly, and I have been very busy over the last couple months researching, ordering, and assembling curriculum to use this year. I now have everything we are going to use and have written up my lesson plans and am working on my weekly prep lists now to help gather supplies for each week and get the library books we will need.

I was going to wait and do this curriculum post closer to September but the iHomeschool Network is doing their annual Not back to school blog hop and this week the link-up is for curriculum, so I figured I would do the post sooner and join in the fun.

This year Dude will be a 1st grader and Strawberry will be in JK (here in Ontario). I will start with what they will be learning together...

One Room Schoolhouse (together learning):
They each will be doing their learning notebooks, I got the printables from Erica at Confessions of a Homeschooler.

They will be doing the same Bible Curriculum. We are still using Children Desiring God curriculum. We are in the Old Testament and will move into the New Testament Curriculum once we are finished, should be around Jan/Feb. We will be using this curriculum daily. I ordered the teacher's manual, verse pack, resource packet, and 2 colouring books.

To compliment our Bible curriculum, we invested in Betty Luken's Bible in felt. It has been great in helping the kids visualize the stories we are covering. Just be prepared it is a LOT of cutting out to get all the pieces ready. However, it was worth it because the set is just stunning and we will be using it for many years to come.

They will also be working together on The ABCs of Godly Children Curriculum. I got this curriculum when it was part of a Homemakng e-bundle earlier this year. They will be working on this 2x per week, one day the lesson and an application and the second day a craft that goes with the character quality. They will do it together when the traits are the same for girls and boys, and separately when they are different.

We will be working on handwriting daily also. I am forgoing curriculum for this and just put binders together with real handwriting paper. Dude will copy a Bible verse daily and Strawberry will start with tracing her name and we will go from there

Dude and Strawberry will be in the same Sunday class this fall, and they have a Bible verse to memorize weekly for class, so that will be included in our prayer time each morning.

Dude's First Grade Curriculum:

Reading: He will be doing All About Reading - level 1. We ordered the full package for this and it includes Teacher's manual, Student Activity book, 3 readers, progress chart, learning cards and storage box, and a phonograms CD. We also ordered the letter tiles set, and Adventures in Reading with ZigZag zebra lapbook games.

Spelling: He will be using All About Spelling - level 1. The letter tile kit goes with both programs, so we just ordered the spelling kit which included the Teacher's manual, student packet and card storage box. We will be using this with the reading curriculum daily, but the way it works is he will do one or the other everyday.

Math: He will finish up Math U See Primer level and move on to Alpha around Nov/Dec. We ordered this last year and got The teacher's guide, instructional DVD, student work book, song CD, and Decimal street poster (with clock on back) and block manipulatives.

Science: We are going to use Alpha Omega's Lifepac Science this year. I got the Teacher's manuals and the 10 workbooks. It covers colours, body, senses, animals, plants and more. It is set up workbook style, but since Dude isn't reading yet I will have to be more hands on. It is very colourful and looks like a lot of his interests and questions will be covered

Geography: We are going to *try* Erica at Confessions of a Homeschooler's Expedition Earth. I say try because it may be too much at his age, but he has a definite interest in places, and the way countries are set up and about people around the world, so it may be alright. I got this curriculum included in the iHomeschool omnibus last year. I also ordered A Trip around the World, Another Trip around the World and Usborne's Encylopedia of Geography to compliment it. I also bought a book to look into Canada more in-depth when we do that country

Strawberry's JK Curriculum:

Reading: She will also be using All About Reading, but the Pre-Reading level. We ordered the teacher's manual, student craft book, student learning cards and storage box, alphabet CD, 2 readers and Ziggy the Zebra puppet (who they are already in love with). My lesson plans have her going through 1 letter in 3 days. She will start by doing the entire uppercase alphabet, then go back over it using the lowercase alphabet. That will take us almost to the end of the year, so we will likely start next fall still doing the pre-reading level and covering the sounds of the letters

Other: I got a limited time free curriculum tip through Motherhood on a dime for a pre-school alphabet based curriculum called God's Little Explorer's. I have gone through and picked a few of their lesson plans to compliment the letters we will be doing. I also got some math ideas out of here as well. I plan to do one number/math related activity with her each day. I printed the curriculum and just put it in a binder.

In Addition:
The last part of our school year plan is a couple of complimentary books to our curriculum. A few passed-down curriculum's Discovering God's World to add to our Science, and Before Five in a Row to pull some activities for Strawberry from. A bunch of Usborne math books, sticker addition and subtraction and See Inside Math (a suggestion I got from my BFF). Another Usborne book Flip-Flap body book to go with Science. A character book for Dude God's Wisdom for Little Boys. Prayer cards I printed from my favourite Canadian blogger Time Warp Wife, we will be using these for our prayer time each day.

Lastly, I have worksheets, busy bag activities and an ipad full of apps to fill some time while I am working with the other child.

Phew...that was long, but I feel really good about our plan for the year and ready to go come September when we start.

For His Glory!

I am linking up with the {Not} Back To School Blog Hop.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Spotlight: Boy Wonder

It's been 4 whole months (actually, almost 5 now) since Boy Wonder was brought into our lives. Here he is now:
It is getting much harder to take these monthly poses since he is moving all over the place now. Boy Wonder is active....crazy active, it reminds me of Dude and he is just a fiery ball of energy....and we think Boy Wonder is even more active....yikes.

His smile will make you melt
He seems to be pretty laid back. I'm not sure if that's just his nature, or a 4th child syndrome and he has no choice but to wait or go-with-the-flow most of the time. Daddy was just saying tonight, "he is quieter then the others were", give it time Daddy, give it time. He will soon realize how to be heard.

Boy Wonder, like Linebacker, is a thumb sucker
It is a great tool for self-soothing, but I hear breaking the habit will be tough....for now though, I find it cute.

He sleeps through the night (so far, still waiting on the 4 month sleep regression that kicked my butt last time) and wakes up smiling almost every morning. He is starting to form some napping habits but we just go with whatever works that day.

He is adored by his siblings, here with Dude
They love making him smile and giggle. They make faces, jump around and laugh at him just to get a reaction from him. Linebacker (my blanket lover) is constantly getting a blanket for him and making sure he has one at all times.

I couldn't imagine life without this little man in it. He just lights up my heart and is such a delight. I am so glad he clung on and survived that scare (read about it here) and was able to join our family. I never knew how people could feel "done" having kids, it just seemed unfathomable. Now, I get it. Boy Wonder completes our family and I just love the dynamic our family has now.

I might be biased but.....isn't he just the cutest baby you've ever seen?

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Our new chore set-up

I've decided recently to encourage and engage the kids in the running of our household. I've decided they are willing and finally ABLE to contribute to some of the cleaning around the house daily. I have pinned several "chore boards" the last while, but none of them seemed to fit our style or suit what I wanted. Most of them were focused on earning money, or reward tickets that after a certain amount they got a toy or prize. This was not the approach I wanted to take with our kids. I find, that despite our best efforts, the "Entitlement Generation" as I like to call it, is creeping into our home as well. I don't want my kids to help around the house with a monetary goal in mind because that is only encouraging selfishness, which in elementary/preschoolers is ever-present and something we are trying to teach them out of. I want them to help around the house because they want to be contributing members of our family and because they feel more confident in themselves as a result. We need to start young, so that by the time they are ready to start their own homes, they have all the skills necessary to run and manage their own homes.....and don't need to call and ask how to make scrambled eggs (Seriously, my sister has done this twice!!!). My goal for my kids (boys and girl) is for them to be able to do all the homemaking skills, I want to be able to say "your welcome" to my sons wives one day, beacause we have trained them to be thoughtful, helpful men!

Anyway, back to the "chores", I hate that word! It brings negative thoughts when you say it, or when completing them. If my own mantra in completing household tasks is Colossians 3:23 - "Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people", than calling them "chores" just doesn't suit me well. I've been wracking my brain the last while trying to come up with an alternative, and finally it came to me....Contributions! That's what my goal is, to have them contribute to the running of the family, so it just makes sense.

Next, I had to come up with a system...Boards, and because my kids can't read yet, pictures it was! I went around the house taking pictures of things that they could do everyday. Everything was ready to create, so I went to Dollarama last night and browsed for supplies I could use....

This is what I found:
These cork tiles came in a 2-pack and they are thin, so I was able to attach them to the wall with pushpins in the corners.

Next I found these:
4-pack of self adhesive clips (I forgot to take the pic before opening). I stuck these clips onto the cork tiles:

Next, I printed a few copies of the pictures I took the other day:

Then, I busted out the Cricut to make the name labels and title area for the boards:

I stuck the names and title onto a piece of black paper, I used my paper trimmer (couldn't live without this). This is mine:

I was really happy with how they looked.

Now it was time to laminate everything. I couldn't imagine my life without my laminator. I have a constant wall file of "to be laminated" stuff...as you can see, I was laminating more then just the stuff for this project. This is the one I have here.

After cutting everything out, it was time to assemble the area. Here is the finished product:
I added a couple of boxes. One for the kids to put completed pictures into, and another for me to store the pictures in. Now, to see if our new system works......