Moonday! (This year in homeschool preschool…)

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Last school year I was a little obsessed with educating my child. I felt like I needed to spend every moment of his life educating him, but not always on the important things. I was working so hard to “make” him learn his letters, colors, etc… Yeah, I was terrible. Totally not age appropriate first of all, and planning things for him to learn truly bored him. He’d be interested in something else, so the things I wanted to teach him… well he couldn’t stay focused, and got very frustrated with me, which makes total sense. This year, I wiped that crazy board clean and decided to 100% follow his lead.

The first thing I decided to do was set up a “classroom” so that he would have a place to go to focus, and we could still do normal preschool activities like go over the calendar, read books, sit for puzzles, and go over our letters and numbers. These aren’t going to be forced things, but they are available, and if he chooses to do them himself, great! He often does. He loves puzzles, he loves matching games, and he is actually really interested in putting letters together and finding different letters out of a set. Part of the problem last year was that our schedule was always set, I would force him through the activities, and we would be in the living room or kitchen which was set up for other things as well. This year he will have a learning sanctuary that is his choice. It’s also a good way to keep all of his craft supplies, sensory buckets, and blocks in one place.

Now the next thing I did was realize that he had to already be interested in what I wanted to teach, so I decided that every Saturday we’d talk about the things he likes. Trees, weather, space, the ocean, firemen… whatever it may be, is what we will focus. Which leads me to…

Moonday! Last week Caleb let me know that he thought the moon was really awesome. I turned that into a whole week of learning about the solar system, but all he really wanted to learn about/play about was the moon and stars, which is completely understandable since he can actually see and somewhat understand them. At the daycare I work at, I did Moonday (Monday) with all of them, and want to share how it went with you all.

We started when I got there learning about gravity and the difference between gravity on Earth and the moon. We did this in a very simple way. I brought a bunch of Styrofoam balls and asked the kids to each grab a regular rock. We talked about how those rocks, Earth rocks, were heavy. Then I explained that on the Moon they would feel more like the Styrofoam balls and be very light. We played “moon rock toss” and tried to get the balls into a bucket.

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Next was snack time! Let me just add, this was delicious, and it’s my new favorite snack… We started with a rice cake base, smeared with cream cheese, layered with banana pennies and some little pieces of kix. One of our kiddos couldn’t have the cheese, so we used sun butter on her’s instead of the cream cheese, but it still looked really great.

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Then, I had each of the kiddos make their own telescope. I had prepped this activity so that the kids would each have a different color telescope, and wouldn’t have to spend the time painting. Instead they just each got a sticker sheet of stars to decorate the way they would like to.

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From there we went over to the rug and had a blast with this sensory bucket I set up for them. First of all, the bucket itself has a spot for each of the kids to set their wrist so they aren’t fighting for a spot or pushing one another, which I thought was great and a super bonus. Then I stuck on some star stickers, poured two bags of black beans in, added some of the white beans, about 15 glow in the dark stars, clear stones (because space is cold and full of ice!), and these awesome astronaut, ufo, spaceships, and jet erasers that I got at the Dollar Tree. Each child was assigned a different thing to find, and then they were able to just explore freely. They were so wonderfully focused on this bucket, it was a great time to call them over one by one for the big craft of the day…

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These were so much fun, and showed the personality of all of the kiddos. Just looking at them the other teacher and I knew exactly who made what. First each kiddo painted the back ground with their chosen combo of blue and purple. One little girl’s favorite color is blue, and only used blue. Caleb loved mixing colors, so used more purple than the others, because he likes swirling the two paints together. Then they each picked a glitter to sprinkle over the paint before it dried. After it all was dry, they got to glue on five of the glow in the dark stars and a cardboard moon however they wanted. I had painted the moons in an attempt to save time. We have such a limited amount of time the kids can stay sitting, that sometimes we just can’t let them do every part of a craft alone, sadly. Lastly I trimmed up to edges, and these lovely crafts were finished!

Along with these activities we used the sunlight to show how the moon rotates to make different phases, goes around the sun, and the size with little models of the Earth and moon I painted. We sang songs, pretended to be astronauts, and learned the sign for moon and stars. It was an excellent day of learning, play, and creativity, and it was all influenced by Caleb’s love for the moon and stars.

Trust your kids. They will learn if we follow their lead. I’m so incredibly sure of that. You can learn the alphabet during fun activities, you can help them learn their name using sensory boards, themed puzzles, and songs… Children learn through play. When you take the play away is when the learning stops. Trust your kids.

You Are Loved!

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I Help?

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I stand at the sink washing the hundredth dish of the night, when this sweet boy comes in. “What you do mama?” he asks me. “I’m cleaning up baby,” I tell him. He walks around for a few minutes, comes and watches me wash a few dishes, and then he takes a few steps back. He asks me, “I help?”

Way to melt a mama’s heart. I told him that he could pick things up from the floor and put them in the trash if he wanted. He did just that, and he did it happily. I thanked him for helping me clean our home. We finished up our work together, and went into the living room to snuggle a while.

I’ve never made him clean up. I will almost always ask him to pick up his toys, and often he will, but if he doesn’t I do it for him. Usually if he sees me cleaning up his toys, he comes to help me. When I do my own household duties, I try my best to do them cheerfully, because I have little eyes watching. He sees me happy to do these things, willing to do all of these jobs to help our home, and he picks up on it. He will now happily help without asking, because we always made it just another part of the day for our family instead of a chore, a pain in the butt, that just had to get done, because I said so.

Our family works together to make a home, and he is part of this wonderful home. And… I am so grateful.

You Are Loved!

Toddlers: The Personal Space Invaders

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Last night my sweet, adorable, loving child decided that the only acceptable place for him to be… was glued to me. Now I love snuggling, really, but snuggling (that really means being climbed all over, pushed, prodded, and jumped on) for ten straight hours is just really not my cup of tea. I would stand up and the banshee scream would come out of his small body. I had to go potty at one point and actually shut the door. The poor thing stood outside the door and cried, but my skin needed just a moment to relax and not be touched before going back into the prison like state this little being had put it in. I had been feeling a little ragey and really needed that few minute breather before I made bad choices.

I’d put him down, and he’d cry to me, “I want huggies, I want huggies!” I’d comply every time, because I will NEVER say no to a hug from my child. He’d lay right over my whole chest, and despite how much discomfort I was in, I took a deep breath focused on how much I loved him. Because… my mommy intuition knew there was a reason for his extra lovey and needy state. Sometimes you really do have to drop everything and just BE there for your child, because a need might seem silly to you, but make all the difference for them.

Him and I had just been away from Corey for most of a week, then with him constantly for two days because his days off came up right when we got home. Yesterday his daddy went back to work, and his sweet heart just couldn’t deal with it. He really missed his daddy, and was using my touch to console himself. I just couldn’t bring myself to be the strict, mean mommy that put him down and left him to cry out his pain. I know when I used to miss Corey so severely, before we lived together, I would have done anything to have someone hold me and tell me it would all be okay. Of course I want to be that for Caleb.

I can’t always/don’t always do the right thing. Sometimes I just NEED my space, but last night I knew that he had to come first. Today, he’s been eating like crazy, so I suspect he was also having a growth spurt yesterday and probably feeling some pain in his joints not helping with his already broken heart. Soon as daddy got home last night he was, of course, fine again… but all in all I don’t regret giving him that extra love yesterday.

I’m really not sure of the point for this post, but I felt compelled to share about this scene with my sweet boy. Today, I look at him and I am just filled with love and I’m so grateful that he will always know love, because not everyone has that privilege.

 

Remember, YOU ARE LOVED.

DIY Educational Book Shelf!

Quite a while ago I bought this book shelf for Caleb. It was a dingy white with partially ripped flowers all over it. I was so sure that I’d be able to get some paint and work my magic on it… six months later, it was still just sitting around in it’s original state. This morning specifically we were just using it as a foot rest in the living room.

I looked up at this super cute snowman hand print project we did yesterday, and it just came to me. I grabbed the book shelf and brought it out to the table for a scrub down. Once it was clean, I put a quick layer of yellow paint over the whole thing. Then I traced Caleb’s hand, and made two of each rainbow color. Next I painted another layer of yellow paint, and placed the hand cut outs where I wanted him.

A few hours later I went back to it with a sharpie. The top hands spell out Caleb’s name, and each finger (as well as the purple heart) have the alphabet on them, and then the side hands have their color written on them with 1-15 written on the fingers. I’m debating on adding more, like maybe some shapes on top? I’m quite pleased with how it came out so far though. The last step, once I’m totally sure, is to modge podge the whole thing so that Caleb can’t rip the hands off, because that’s totally something he would do.

Either way, this was a wicked easy project, and has a lot of uses! Alphabet, spelling his name, counting, practicing colors, and holding some of his wonderful books inside make it totally worth it! What do y’all think?

Autumnal Paper Chain: Home-school Pre-school Day Four

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Caleb had a very productive day of learning. We were supposed to focus on the letter A and number 1, but he knows those pretty well. We did a coloring page of the letter A, and talked about “one crayon at a time,” but then we moved on to something way more fun, because I kept looking out the window and seeing the beautiful colors of Maine in fall.

I took him outside to go learn about, and pick, leaves. We talked about how they start on trees, and then fall to the ground as it gets cold. Then I showed him all the colors they come in. I asked him to pick a bunch for our craft. I wanted to grab some of the incredibly beautiful and bright leaves… but I’m short. So we ended up with some cool gradient leaves instead. Orange and yellow, green and yellow, and red and yellow are what we ended up with.

Before we went I cut up a sheet of green, yellow, red, and orange construction paper, then when we got home I showed him the papers and how they matched the leaves we collected. Next it was time to talk about patterns and practice our color recognition while building a cool autumn leaves paper chain. I had him hand me ONE green, one yellow, one orange, one red, etc, etc, until all the papers were gone. He would hand them to me sometimes, and other times he would slide it through the last chain. We clothes pinned it up, and Caleb chose which chains would have leaves hanging from them. So much fun!

Even though this wasn’t originally on the curriculum, figuring it’s cow week not seasons week, I decided I couldn’t pass the chance up. We still got to talk about green (the color of the week), read a few books, and the fine and gross motor skills used to identify and say colors, as well as threading the paper through the previous chain, was a great practice, and covered what was planned. Oh, and while we were reading I pointed to a piece of broccoli. I asked Caleb what it was, because he loves broccoli and can say the word, but instead of identifying it he said, “Green.” I was really pleased. It was a fun day of learning for the both of us, and really nice to bring nature into our learning.

Craft Time: Cow Tube Kites

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This week, for our home-school preschool curriculum, our theme is cow. I don’t have specific things written up for weekend activities, but figured we could do a random craft involving cows anyway. I put on a few cow videos to introduce Caleb to cows, and I prepped this while he watched. Super easy project:

White Paper Cut to Fit Around a Toilet Paper Roll

Black Paper for the Legs (cut into strips and accordion folded)

Black Paper Cut for the Spots (or washi tape!)

Marker for the Face

Glue Sticks

To start, I had Caleb put the glue on the white paper, and I wrapped it around the toilet paper tubes. Then I ran out of glue! I ran around trying to find more, but instead found some black washi tape. I drew a quick cow face on each of these, and then cut a bunch of washi tape squares. I helped Caleb glue his tail on, then we each went to town putting on the spots. I showed him how to fold the legs, we cut them out, and we both taped the legs on together. I have seen these with some other animals, and I figured it would be cute with a cow as well.

Right now they are handing on our “project line.” Later we will tie a little yarn to the top, and bring them outside to blow in the wind! This is a very easy project, but it has a lot of steps. By the time we got half way through the spots, Caleb was pretty done. We got up and danced to Old McDonald for a few minutes, and he was ready to go back to the craft. It’s okay to take breaks!

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Emotional Intelligence and Respect

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This is a topic that I think is really important for every parent to learn about. As a whole, most adults have a hard time validating the emotions of children. Adults get angry, sad, happy, and every other emotion that can be felt. We have had the time to learn how to handle these feelings and we have been made hard by the society we are in. Children feel all of these same emotions, so passionately, but have no idea how to handle and express these feelings. Often what comes out of it is what so many people describe as tantrums and people look at these children as if they are giving their parents a hard time. They aren’t giving us a hard time, they are having a hard time!

One of my favorite quotes is, “Tantrums are not bad behavior. Tantrums are an expression of emotion that became too much for the child to bear. No punishment is required. What your child needs is compassion and safe, loving arms to unload in.” -Rebecca Eanes.

This is the biggest truth that so many people have been led to not believe. What I want you all to get out of this is that children don’t have the emotional intelligence that we do but they certainly deserve our respect. Most children just want to be heard and understood. Open communication allows them to explain what they need and lets the frustration and tension evaporate. This is one of the times I can really appreciate Unschooling. A basic principal of it is allowing a child to express themselves and accepting it. Children react so much better to positive reinforcement and love compared to punishment and an, ‘I’m the adult, you’re a child, I’m right, you’re wrong,’ mentality.

If you get anything out of this, just realize that when you tell a child their feelings are wrong or don’t matter it’s like if someone were to tell you that your very much valid emotions are wrong. How would you feel? Multiply that feeling by 100 and imagine not having any way to deal with it. You’d be crying, screaming, and panicking too.

Thank you for reading my lovely readers! Feel free to comment bellow.

Home, Private, Public, or Unschooling? So Much Pressure!

Image     Before I even had a child I knew that I was going to home school. My own experience with school was pretty much miserable. I switched schools every year till my sophomore year of high school. Every school seemed easier and easier to me. I was never challenged so I didn’t learn to try. I could ignore homework and barely do my class work then just ace tests and pass each grade. When I got to Noble High School though, everything changed. Tests weren’t that important. Every assignment weighed pretty equally on my grade and the work was much harder than it had ever been. Noble is a testing school. Everything is taught differently and it could never hold my interest. I ended up so frustrated that I would cry and eventually I gave up. I didn’t understand what was going on and with no one to help me in a class of 30+ I became very depressed. Two weeks before I would have graduated I dropped out and got my GED instead. The only thing I really wish is that I had the option of being home schooled.

So after that little back story, here is how we decided what we would do with Caleb and the stages we went through.

First Corey and I were considering a private school. My aunt’s twin daughters go to one and they are wonderfully mannered, sweet, and academically advanced girls. The school checked out completely and I had really fallen in love. At only $300 a month, the price wasn’t bad either. I was completely on board because every time I mentioned homeschooling Corey had complained that Caleb was going to become a loner and an outcast and what not. My best friends through high school were all home schooled so I disagreed but sometimes you just have to give a little extra in a relationship. After hearing more and more about this new fangled thing unschooling though, I started wanting to have him home even more.

Unschooling is is an educational method and philosophy that rejects compulsory school as a primary means for learning. An easier way of saying that, is that you allow the child to study what they choose to study. It allows their talents and interests to flourish without restraints. I loved the idea of Caleb’s life being lived the way he wants it to. Homeschooling traditionally has a lot of constraints and requires you to control what they are learning. The thing is, that means your child gets to decide if they learn to read, write, and do basic math. I’m against that at my core. Every single person needs to learn how to read. If you are going to drive it is required. If you are ever going to get a job that is not a skill like blacksmithing then you need to read and know basic math. Not teaching your child those basic things hinders them in life and I just can’t stand behind it.

That right there crosses out Public, Private, and Unschooling. So what are we going to do? We are homeschooling with a lot of freedom. Caleb will have all the choices in the world and be able to study what he wants. It will be on a schedule with goals to keep him focused and he will be required to learn basic algebra, geometry, reading, and writing. Everything else will be his choice because anytime you are forced into something, it tends to be met with resistance. How can you live a happy and peace filled life when most of your time is spent resisting it?

So there you have it. That is our personal outlook on schooling our little man. It is an opinion that I feel strongly about but everyone has their own opinion. Not everyone has the time and ability to home school either. As long as your child is getting an education, you are doing a good job.

Thanks for reading! Comment with your thoughts and how you are schooling your littles.