Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Christmas wreath...

I am loving my new tradition of having the boys make a wreath for the door for the different seasons.  We retired our fall wreath, and have made a Christmas one.  I let the boys pick out some decorations at the craft store, and while I was worried about what the finished product would be - I really shouldn't have.  They picked out two huge pointsetta flowers (which they later wouldn't use when I told them I'd cut the stems off), some sparkly stuff, some christmas balls, and a glittery plauque I bought for the occasion.

I helped them cut up the sparkly stuff and then they got busy with their glue guns... to create this:

Yes, they often do crafts while still in their pj's.  Regular clothes are a battle I rarely fight unless we're going out.  And, the boys were so proud of their creation and so enthusiastic in their posing that Vin (who was making sure that nothing fun fell on the floor while they were working) just had to jump into the picture as well!

Our advent tree...

The holidays have kept us uber-busy but there are a few things I want to write about so I can remember them for next year.  One of my favorites is our changing fall bucket list  tree which is now an advent tree.  All of the fall leaves have fallen and been removed -- what can I say? Once they were within easy reach, it didn't take the boys long to make them fall to the ground.  repeatedly. until they were mere pieces of what they once were...  They served their purpose so it was fine.

We made 24 ball ornaments to decorate the barren boughs instead.  I lined up a long strip of clear contact paper and let the boys go to town with christmas colored tissue paper.  Once they were done, I covered it with red, white and green construction paper.  We might have added a lil glue here to make sure it all stuck or not -- I don't remember now.  I traced a glass to make circles and cut them out and then we stuck them onto the tree to decorate it.  I used a sharpie to write on a few with things I wanted to do for advent.

Then I cut out a christmas tree shape from brown paper bags and had the boys paint it green.  We hung that from another wall, and every day we moved one ornament over.  Any time anyone asked when Christmas was, they were pointed towards that tree to count ornaments.  It was a game at first, then they stopped asking, and then it became exclamations of excitement when they could easily see how many were left.

The tissue paper pack had a few shiny silvery plastic-y type sheets, and we used that to cut out a star to stick on the top.

The ornament to-do's:
-Watch a Christmas movie
-Elf somebody
-Go Christmas shopping
-Decorate the house for Christmas
-Explore Smithville
-Write letters to Santa
-Have hot chocolate after playing outside in the cold
-Make some Christmas ornaments
-Christmas Baking
-Make presents for family
-Make snowflakes
-Decorate some Christmas foam shapes

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A fall wreath...

Since one of my New Year's Resolutions was to decorate for each of the holidays, and since we haven't decorated anything since Valentine's Day...  we are going all out for fall/Halloween.  And one of the things I deemed we needed was a wreath for our door.  We started by gathering pine cones and acorns.  I bought a grapevine wreath and some silk leaves and we were ready to create.  The boys started by fancying up the pine cones.  We painted them with glue and dropped them into ziploc bags, sprinkled glitter, sealed and shook.  Even Vin got in on the action...

I didn't get any pics in progress - I feared for what would happen with all three boys working together...  We let those dry overnight and the next day we put the wreath together.   One glue gun, two boys (Vin was happily playing by himself while we worked) and some INTENSE concentration later...

We have a beautiful wreath for our front door...

The boys were so proud, but then thought it would be hysterical to make faces while I tried to get a group shot. 

Friday, October 8, 2010

Morning Calendar Time

I'm really trying to get into a morning groove with the boys... Ideally, this is what I'd like to see happen. The day starts after I shower (before dh leaves for work).

  • Breakfast
  • Upstairs for chores (clean bedrooms, make beds, brush teeth, get dressed -- eventually by themselves while i clean up from breakfast)
  • Back downstairs for morning calendar time. Right now, we just do the calendar -- what day it is, count up to the date (the boys insist we count the whole calendar AND the date... I let them use a hand pointer which they love!), we sing a "today is" song, talk about what we're doing that day and each boy writes the main thing (nic does it himself, joe gets dotted lines to follow, but he doesn't quite get that idea yet. He's learning a few of his letters all on his own anyway)

  • Eventually I want to follow that with a few more formal things -- count out the date in money, telling time, etc. but I haven't gotten that board made yet.
  • Also eventually I want to follow this with independent, Montessori-ish type activities that they can freely choose from. So far, we do the activities, but I'm leading them and not leaving them out on shelves. One day I will trust that they can handle options and not just make a huge mess with it.
  • Snack time
  • Nap/quiet time
  • Lunch time
  • Free time -- usually a trip to the park, errands, crafts, etc.
And that should take us up til dh gets home, dinner, and bedtime :) Of course, it rarely happens like that and I have a hard time saying no to certain things... so we're scheduled for Goodsports ( a sports program for Nic) on Tuesdays at 11 (screws up naps, we fit in calendar time but then we're out the door). And we have brainstormers, our homeschool coop on Thursdays from 9-2 (we barely get out the door for that one). We have playgroups scheduled for 1:00 on Wed and Fri... and Mondays are usually good for a homeschool field trip... But... that's what ideals are for... something to strive for... not necessarily to maintain ALWAYS...

Til then... we're having fun along the way and that's got to count for something, right?

Countdown to Halloween

Inspired by almost unschoolers fall tree bucket list, we decided to make our own. The boys helped me pick out some leaf shapes online, we printed them and picked 4 colors of construction paper (ok, so they were coached... it helped that we didnt have purple construction paper!) ... and I cut out a bunch of each shape. The boys eschewed cutting out leaves in favor of just cutting... I was in a bit of perfectionist mode, so it worked. :) I cut out a tree shape and the boys helped me tape it to the wall. Then we brainstormed the fun things we wanted to do this fall... our leaves include:
  • go on a hayride
  • drink warm apple cider on the deck
  • explore a corn maze
  • pick apples
  • go to a pumpkin patch
  • see changing leaves on a nature walk
  • explore one new park
  • jump in a pile of leaves
  • decorate for thansgiving
  • make and send flats (flat stanley project)
  • go on a fall scavenger hunt
  • go to fright fest at great adventure
  • go to a car race (for monkey and dad)
  • make thankful thanksgiving turkeys
  • rake leaves
  • go on a squeegee hunt
  • roast pumpkin seeds
  • bob for apples
  • read a Thanksgiving story
The boys hung up all the leaves using blue tac (their favorite part) and then I decided we needed a Halloween countdown, so we printed out a ghost. I cut 31 ghosts out, and Nic helped me add eyes and a mouth. Then we brainstormed things we wanted to do specifically for Halloween -- most of them are crafts to decorate the house/outside with, and some of them are just blank.
  • Make a scarecrow
  • Make a wreath for the front door
  • Convince daddy to wear a halloween costume when trick or treating
  • Make pumpkin luminaries (both painted and tissue paper versions)
  • Decorate foam pumpkins and ghosts
  • Make tin can luminaries
  • Decorate a foam pumpkin garland
  • Make yarn spiders and tape webs
  • Make coffee filter bats
  • Make a Halloween totem pole
  • Decorate wooden Halloween houses
  • Go trick or treating
The boys added the ghosts to our tree. At that point we were done for the day. But, we came back to it the next day because we needed a haunted house for our ghosts to fly to as we ticked off the days towards Halloween. Every day as part of our calendar time - one ghost flies over to the Haunted House and we can see how much closer we are to trick or treating!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Homeschooling Goals

I keep trying to plan out the themes and activities and trips and... I am getting way above myself here. There is so much that I would love to do -- some of it age appropriate, some of it might be a bit above the boys right now but just sounds like so much fun... I need to create some goals for myself and keep my priorities straight.

I know I'll try to do too much. We haven't even started yet, and I think we're overscheduled... in the name of making sure the kids don't miss out on anything, I've been signing up for EVERYTHING (well, not EVERYTHING but a good portion of the stuff I've come across anyway).

So... for the year... here are the BIG THINGS... I'm going to limit myself to 5 and then I'm not going to worry about the rest if it passes us by.

1. Create a good morning routine. Up, breakfast, dressed, morning meeting (go over the calendar, weather, what's going on for the day, do some yoga for grounding, learn some italian, sing a song or do a felt board something) ...I'm adding one piece at a time.. .So far we've just started the calendar. This is where I'm going to sneak in any schooling.

2. Get out to explore something in nature once a week, regardless of weather or motivation. (mental note: get a jogging stroller!) And, give the kids their own patch of garden to grow something!

3. Create some fun family memories and traditions -- especially around the different holidays.

4. Find some good friends -- ones that we can keep for the long haul (both for the kids and myself... and maybe even dh!)

5. Give the kids more ownership. Let them do more, contribute more, be more a part of the decision making process...

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Well, it's official. We're homeschoolers. I mailed in our letter to the superintendent of schools yesterday (you don't have to notify the school board for kindergarten, but since we registered him, we had to un-register him).

I'm a little apprehensive about it, but mostly ecstatic. I was reading Made by Hand: Searching for Meaning in a Throwaway World by Mark Fraunfelder and he had a few passages in there that really hit home to me. It's not even a book about education but about being a diy'er ... but there was a blurb in there about how schools are all about preparing you to be ready to do something but don't actually teach you how to do it... and that totally hit home. And I hope that my boys learn how to do along this journey, and never experience an action freezing fear of failure!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Our weekly rhythms...

There are a bunch of things that will be the same every week. I'll need to run errands and grocery shop. We'll have our weekly school co-op come September. I want to have a weekly park/nature day. I'll need at least one day to bake (Peanut is gluten free which means that we need to make most things from scratch -- especially now that he is eating more). So... I'm thinking that the week will be organized like this:

grocery/errand day

free day for all day field trips (childrens museum, aquarium, etc.)

baking day

school co-op

library day/nature field trip/ park day

free day/family day

church and sunday dinner at my parents house

It's a whole new start...

Way back when, I thought it would be a good idea to start a blog that I could one day publish as a "remember when" type book for the kids - a kind of reminder on how we spent their days when they were little. Something that would be a special keepsake for them. I read a few of my past posts, and noticed that I'm trying to find a voice that sounds real.. a voice that both speaks to them and about them... and then, Peanut started having issues (he's fine -- we just needed to figure out that he has a gluten and dairy allergy) and this blog went by the wayside. It's time to dust it off and try again... and I'm not "ready", but if I wait until I am... I'll lose another year.

Monkey turned 5 this year, and he should be heading to kindergarten. He's not -- we're homeschooling and I want to share some of the reasons why (in case he's ever interested). Part of it stems from his preschool experience. What started as a great experience slowly deteriorated into a leg grabbing, hand squeezing, mom-stay-begging dropoff... and I can't go through that anymore. (Budget cuts means no bussing for us... we live too close to the school, even though there are no sidewalks).

That started me seriously researching homeschooling (although - let's face it. It had been in the back of my mind a lot longer than that. We're part of a homeschooling coop (for preschool -- they let me stay and bring all 3 boys), I had my father make a train table that turns into a chalk board and desk setup for the playroom YEARS ago ... the signs were all there that I was heading in that direction if I had just paid any attention to them. It feels right. I don't hate school, although I do think they push academics way too early these days - and the amount of homework a kindergartner gets is INSANE... (I am a public school success story - was never bullied, got good grades, never did drugs, etc.) I just don't think it's necessarily the best or only option for my family. And, as long as I can convince my husband and we can financially afford it, (and it works, obviously).. I would like to continue to do it.

Anyway, the research out there is all positive... (as long as you don't count the mess your house will become, the time it will take you, etc.) The pros outweigh the cons for me considerably.

This is our journey... and it begins now... or, as soon as I decide summer is over!

(My goal is to start blogging again now. It probably won't be about what we're doing until I figure that out... but I plan to use this blog to throw around ideas so that I can organize our homelife into a recognizable rhythm around independent activities, household chores, naps, etc...)