Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Summer Vacation "World Explorer" Activity Kit

I found this awesome kit to "make and decorate crafts from around the world" at the Goodwill thrift store today for a mere $3.25. It was new, sealed, totally unused. It's called the Summer Vacation brand "World Explorer" Activity Kit (ISBN 1585539783).
It has a guidebook with little lessons about each country. Then it gives instructions and supplies to make a craft from each country. It has:
USA & Canada: Make a Dream Catcher
Mexico: Make a Pinata
Chile: Make a Rainstick
Japan: Make Origami
China: Make a Chinese Lantern
Kenya: Make an African Mask
Morocco: Make Castanets
Italy: Make a Carnival Mask
France: Make a Stained Glass Window
Australia: Make a Propeller Boomerang
Continents: Make a Jigsaw Puzzle of the World
The jigsaw puzzle looks cool. It has the oceans in blue and then all of the continents outlined in white. You get to label it and paint and marker on it to decorate it as you please.
Then it also includes a World Explorer "Passport" book. This is pretty cool, too. It has maps and worksheets for each country with questions to answer from the lessons. When the child has made the craft and completed the worksheet and map for each country, they get to put a sticker that pictures the craft they made onto the passport. Then there's a travel journal in the back of it where they can write about a trip they've taken and also write about what they'd like to see in one of the places they've learned about. It seems like it will be a lot of fun! I got this with Haylee in mind, as she loves crafts. It says it's for ages 7+ targeted at 3rd grade. I figured I'd just pull it out as we study one of the listed countries. Very cool!
They had another one targeted at First Grade for the same price. Had things like decorating letters of the alphabet. It was the same price, so I might go back and pick it up for Holden, just for fun.
Have I mentioned how much I love shopping at thrift stores? My favorite is the Goodwill Outlet Center where you pay for everything by the pound. Pretty much everything is 59 cents/lb., except clothes are $1.29/lb., and books are 25 cents each.

Reviewing Shapes with Resist Art / Our Ladybug Story

It's been a while since we worked on learning shapes last year, and Holden has forgotten a couple of them, or gets them backwards sometimes. So on some scrap cardstock, I used a white crayon to draw some shapes and fun pictures. He couldn't see what I'd drawn, and I asked him to stamp all over the paper with Do-a-Dot markers. Then I took a damp paper towel and swiped over it to reveal the images! He had fun identifying the shapes in this way. It was good practice and held his attention. I could see his anticipation building as he stamped all over the paper and waited for me to swipe it with the paper towel! Here's a sampling of what we did.
For his Abeka craft, he got to glue Baby Moses in the basket and finger paint the cattails. He likes fingerpaint! He also made Dexter Donkey and Ellie Elephant for his letter crafts (we're on letter F for Freddy Fish this week, but we were behind on his letter crafts and had to catch up! LOL).
Over the last couple of weeks, Haylee has anxiously watched the transformation of the larvae in her Ladybug Land into beautiful young pink ladybugs. As luck would have it, they emerged on Saturday...the day hurricane Irene dropped 10 inches of rain at our house. Luckily, you can keep them for up to a week before releasing them into the wild. If you don't release them, they sadly only live for a couple of weeks.
The weather is now beautiful, so this morning, Haylee invited her little girlfriends over to watch her release her ladybugs. There were 13 in all.
We put a stick inside the habitat so they would crawl onto it, and then we removed the stick and held it up to our holly bushes to allow the ladybugs to crawl off. Unfortunately, however, we didn't realize until after we'd released 5 in this way that there were tiny spiderwebs all over the bushes! We didn't see it until one ladybug got caught and eaten! We tried to find as many as we could and knock down the webs, but it was no use. Haylee was very upset.
So then we found one flowering Black-Eyed Susan and released the remaining 8 onto there. They seemed to like it very much and have happily made it their new home!
May you live long, beautiful ladybugs! We hope to visit you often!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Neat Alphabet Worksheets for Preschoolers

I've been finding lots of cool resources to help Holden learn his letters, both upper and lower case. We're working on both simultaneously, which is not the approach I used with either Hayden or Haylee. It seems to be working well with Holden so far.
In the process of looking for some activities that work on both cases, I found these super cool FREE printable worksheets. I've been having Holden find and mark the correct letter of the week using a Do-A-Dot marker. At the bottom of the worksheet, it says to print the letters in the boxes. We're not writing yet, so instead, I gave him a set of capital letter stamps I found in the Dollar Spot at Target and letting him stamp the correct letter in each box. He loves that!
Here's one he completed recently. He really enjoyed this activity, and I could really see his little brain working as he hunted for the right letters. I was impressed that he did it right all by himself!
I also got lucky and scored a brand new, unopened Grasshopper Preschool Prep Kit - Getting Our Hands Ready for $5! This retails for $30, so that was quite a score. I found it on Craigslist for $10 and offered her $5, and she went for it. I so love my negotiating skills! LOL. Anyway, I ran out and picked it up on Friday before Hurricane Irene made its appearance. We survived an earthquake and a hurricane, all in the same week. Sheesh! We've had a chance to try out most of the activities in the kit, which really are cute and useful. I must say, though, that I would never pay $30 for its contents...$5 was more appropriate! Feeding the froggy was really cute, and he loves stamping the bugs in the weird lightweight dough that feels like air. I laid out the crayons and coloring sheet for him, but he hasn't tried that one yet. He's never been big on coloring. He seems to only enjoy the Crayola Slick Stix. But I'll keeping coaxing him to try out those mini crayons in the kit so he can practice his pencil grip.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

New School Year Just Around the Corner!!!

We managed to finish up our school year a little early this year, so we've enjoyed a nice break of about 3 weeks. We've never had a break that long before at any time of year! Now we are ready to start our new school year on Monday. Hooray! I'm just a bit excited about it myself. Hopefully, my enthusiasm will rub off on the kids, too.

Haylee tried out some of her first-day workboxes this week. She did 6 of the 12. She said she really enjoyed everything, so hopefully that's a good sign for the rest of the year! Holden tried out a little of his first-day workboxes, too, and that went pretty well. Hayden hasn't started his yet, but he and I were busy catching up on 20 weeks' worth of music lessons! We abandoned playing the recorder back around Christmas time when we all became terribly ill. Following that, one or the other of us seemed to be sick with something or other for months on end! I didn't want us spreading germs in our instruments, so we just abandoned our lessons and never got back to them. But we both love playing the recorder, so we got 60 songs done in 2 days this week! Now we're on track to start our new lesson book on Monday. It's Beyond the 9-Note Recorder Method for Alto. This will be our 4th year playing the recorder, and it's really been fun. We did the first two years on Soprano, and the 2nd two years on Alto. Next, we'd like to move on to Bass Recorder, but it's a little cost prohibitive at $100-$300 per bass recorder. We especially enjoy doing duets, so we may just move on to a book of duets for both soprano and alto combined.

I have a 7th grader, a 2nd grader, and a PKer this year, so it ought to be an interesting year! I'm looking forward to getting everybody back into a routine of being busy with schoolwork every day, as the extended time off has become a little chaotic for my liking!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Great Toy Find

At the thrift store this weekend, I found a really cool educational toy for Holden, and it only cost me 75 cents! It's called Sesame Street Light & Learn, and it's like an older version of the modern Hot Dots type of game. This one comes with 10 double-sided cards for a total of 20 learning activities that practice letter identification and matching cases and number identification and counting. You hold the Big Bird pen in your hand and touch the tip to the correct answer in order for the green light on top to light up and a positive sound is made. If you select the wrong answer, you get a negative sound and no lights. It's very cute, and Holden can play by himself with instant reinforcement. He really likes it!Here's a link:

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Plans for School 2011-2012

Wow! It's been a long time since I've posted! It's been super busy. We all got super sick before the holidays with the plague...Norovirus, the horrible stomach flu. It spread like wildfire through every single one of us, and we were down for about 10 days before we could even think about eating any normal food. I lost 6 pounds in 4 days, and I was the only one who didn't throw up! It was just awful. I'm so glad that's over! It sort of spoiled all of our traditional holiday activities, and it didn't feel like Christmas until about Christmas Eve. But we had a really nice holiday, and we celebrated 3 birthdays...Holden turned 3 on Dec. 28th, I turned 39 on Jan. 1st, and Steve turned 40 on Jan. 7th. Then we had Holden's party on Jan. 8th. Plus, Steve and I are running the homeschool basketball and cheerleading program again, and practices just started this week with the first game this weekend. So it really has been like a whirlwind around here lately!

Now that it's January, I'm beginning to think about our plans for the new school year that begins in June for us. I started ordering textbooks yesterday.

So here is my plan for 2011-2012:

HAYDEN, age 11, Grade 7

Sonlight Core 7
Glencoe: The American Journey 2003 (Social Studies Supplement)
Sonlight Bible 7
Sonlight Science 7
Glencoe: Life Science 2002 (Science Supplement)
Saxon Math Algebra 1
Saxon Grammar & Writing 7
Wordly Wise 3000 Book 8
Switched on Schoolhouse Secondary Spanish (1st half)
Beyond the Nine-Note Recorder Method for Alto
Junior Scholastic Magazine or Science World Magazine

HAYLEE, age 6, Grade 2

Sonlight Core 2 with Readers 2 Advanced
Sonlight Bible 2
Sonlight Science 2
Silver Burdett Science Horizons 2
Silver Burdett English 2
Saxon Phonics & Spelling 3
Houghton Mifflin Spelling & Vocabulary 3
Saxon Math 3
A Reason for Handwriting C
Wordly Wise C
Complete Book of Spanish for Grades 1-3 (2nd half)
Harcourt Health & Fitness 2
Silver Burdett Music 2
Abeka Art Projects 2
Scholastic News 3

HOLDEN, age 3, grade PK

Sonlight PK 3/4 (2nd half)
Abeka Nursery Curriculum for 3's
Abeka PK Language Development Program
Tot Tray Activity Center (continuing with various Montessori type toys and activities)

So that's pretty much my plan for the coming school year. Hopefully, I'll be able to keep up better with Holden's stuff this year since Hayden will be dropping 2 workboxes from this year (he has completed 2 programs in spelling and art), and I'm switching Hayden's science and social studies supplements to programs he can work on independently with free online self-checking quizzes that correlate to his textbooks.

I signed up for the Amazon Mom program on December 2nd, so I get 3 months of Amazon Prime for free included with that. Then I made a qualifying purchase for Christmas of kids' toys and got another month of Prime added on for free. So that means I get free 2-day shipping on most items through April 2nd. I order from Sonlight on April 1st when the new catalog goes live, so that works out perfectly for me to order any remaining books from Amazon on the last day of my free 2-day shipping! That will really help me gets my books together faster than having to wait for shipments with super saver shipping, plus I don't have the $25 minumum order requirement with Prime. Amazon Prime has been such a convenience for the holidays that I might get suckered into buying the membership when this ends! LOL.

The kids are taking cooking classes at Young Chef's Academy this month on Fridays. I was able to get a large enough class together with my field trip group to hold private classes. That's always so nice! Holden just turned 3, so he is in the class, too. It gives me an hour and a half to go enjoy a coffee at Starbucks with my best friend, and it is a welcomed break!

I hope this new year is a lot better than 2010 was. It totally stunk! Hubby just got a raise and a nice holiday bonus, so that's a lot better than getting laid off as he did one year ago this month. Amen!