Wednesday, January 30, 2013

I'm on top of the world!

I feel important!  I feel special!  I feel like I felt after so many successful endeavors before I became a Mom and my biggest success was changing a poopy toddler as he runs away laughing.  Why do I feel so giddy?  Because I submitted an article to and it was posted today!!!!!  Melissa ran a story on me the other day and after reading it, I got to thinking about so many conversations I have had lately and decided I needed to write.  I typically write my major ramblings in a notebook but I decided to type this one since I was already sitting at the computer.  Read it and let me know what you think.  I just might submit more of my ramblings later because it feels so good to see that someone else actually enjoyed reading something that I wrote.

Simple Tie-Dye

This is an extremely simple way to tie-dye nearly anything in about 2 hours. 

You will need:  white items to be tie-dyed, a bag or two of rubber bands, a bottle of RIT dye, a cup of salt, rubber gloves, trash bags to protect surface and a sink of hot water.

    Take small sections of the fabric and twist then bunch up to make a tight ball.  Secure with rubber band.  Do this in random places on the item. 

Once you have made as many bunches as you would like.  Wad the item into a tight ball and secure with rubberbands.  You will need many rubberbands for this step. 
Fill one side of the sink with hot water, add 1 cup of salt and a bottle of RIT dye.  Put on the gloves and then drop the item into the solution.  Roll the item around a time or two and then let it sit.

It will sink on it's own after a minute or so.
Leave it soaking for an hour and then wearing gloves, remove it from the water.  Place on trash bag and remove the rubber bands.  Each item will be one-of-a-kind but will look so cute!

Wash the shirts with normal amount of detergent on cold.  Dry and wear! 
Note:  For the first few washes, you should probably wash these seperately as some dye will continue to wash out.

See how easy that was?  I made 6 shirts and a onsie today but I could see this getting to be very addictive.  I'm wanting to go back and get a few more colors and a couple of packages of white tees.  Hello, cheap Summer Wardrobe for the Kiddos!

Note:  I originally said wash on warm, as that was the instructions on the bottle.  When I washed ours, they weren't as bright anymore.  I am rewashing them on cold now and will add the photo of the dried shirts once I am done.  They still look great though!

Monday, January 21, 2013

A New Plan

   I had such a good visit with my friend this morning.  She shared with me several websites that have some great ideas for teaching science concepts without a textbook.  She also explained a few of the methods that the 6-9 teachers use in the Montessori school that she works in.  One of the links that she shared with me was a link to the Scope and Sequence for Montessori from ages 3-12.  You can find that here  I read through this last night and made notes of where each of my boys are and where we need to be working.  Some of the things we need to work on I am familiar with, others I will need to read and study in order to teach those.  I have the 3-6 manuals from Montessori Research and Development that will describe these things in more detail and may decide to purchase the 6-9 manuals as we move farther into the topics covered in those.  Many of these lessons can be found online without purchasing the manuals.  Most will be very easy to implement into our school day and all are much more enjoyable and teach the skills much better than any textbook could.  So, going along with this S&S, I will share what our plans are for the next few weeks. 

Reading & Language Arts-
     Elijah-  continue to read Bob Books; continue with book 2 1/2 Explode the Code as we use sandpaper letters to better understand blends; use the blue language kit found at to put these new skills to practice with daily spelling lists, sentence reading, etc; introduce nouns, adjectives and verbs during daily nature walks and entries in a nature journal. 
     Levi- continue Getting Ready for the Code using sandpaper letters along with the lessons.

     Elijah- use our weekly Bible verse as daily copywork beginning with him copying the verse from the board and later moving to him looking up the verse in the Bible and copying from there; he will be writing this on notebook paper so that he can learn proper sizing of his letters without the dotted center line. 
     Levi- writing letters in the sand tray, on unlined paper and the chalk board; trace the Bible verse each day using to make it.

     Elijah- using pictures provided, compose stories and share orally during morning group; write (can be written or recorded orally) simple stories on given themes.
     Levi- tell what is happening in a photo and what may happen next. 

     Elijah- blue spelling cards mentioned in Reading section above; continue weekly spelling lists in the spelling textbook; continue weekly sight word packets (we only have 3 packets left).
     Levi- encourage him to continue writing letters and creating words that he says spell certain words; provide him with the correct spelling of words as he asks; introduce him to the first few cards of the pink language kit.

     Elijah- continue Saxon twice a week (he's working one grade level ahead); complete his number roll to 1000; using golden beads, create numbers using thousands, hundreds, tens and ones, saying those numbers using correct language; introduce the addition stamp game.   {These are things that I know he can do at this point but I'd like to spend some time reviewing these concepts with him using concrete materials before moving on to multiplication.}
     Levi- introduce the red and blue number rods; continue working with the number cards for one to one correspondence; continue working with the spindle box.  {He asked for a Math workbook so we started Horizons Kindergarten a few weeks ago.  We will continue using this book along with Montessori materials and other math manipulatives through out the book.  He's still a year and a half early on starting this so we will be going at his pace and not rushing to complete the book anytime soon.}

Geometry-  I will be reading more about presenting these lessons and will update these plans as I understand the materials/methods better. 
     Elijah- review basic geometric shapes and geometric solids; introduce definitions of these shapes and solids.
     Levi- review basic geometric shapes; introduce the geometric solids. 

Geography- this is one of the areas that my friend offered some suggestions and ideas.  I will be getting the Children in Action and Mission Friends literature to use in the Fall as our Bible curriculum, studying missionaries, their work and where they serve.  We will use this to help guide our study of the continents and other areas around the world.
     Elijah- puzzle maps of each of the continents (study history, culture, climate, etc of the continents as he is interested but discussions will be initiated by me if he doesn't initiate further discussion of a region, beginning with the US); landform trays {this doubles as an earth science lesson} (lesson idea from my friend:  use a cookie sheet, modeling clay and water along with small cards portraying the landforms.  Have him use the clay to make his model of the landforms given and then pour water into the cookie sheet.  This lesson is not meant to be mastered in a day but to be done over and over again as he wants.  The cards can be found here:  Nomenclature cards, picture cards and books are also available on the site.)
     Levi- continent map. 

History- this is an area that is actually covered under geography as Economic Geography.
     Elijah- timeline of his life and then each member of his family. 

Science- this is another area that my friend helped with today.  We spent quite a bit of time on this one.  The things mentioned below will take up the rest of our school year.  We may change up our study of birds but for now this is the animal that the boys want to study. 
     Elijah- nature journal, recording things seen during daily nature walks and time outside; begin study of birds, learning parts/several species found in our yard/what they need to survive; solids, liquids and gases (this is just as important as a good understanding of place value is in math.  You can find lots of ideas for teaching science here: and here:; forces such as gravity and centripetal force; life cycle of a plant (using dry beans you can soak the bean and dissect it, you can also sprout the bean studying it as it changes and then plant it in the garden to watch it continue to grow). 
     Levi- living/non-living lessons; animals/plants lessons; nature notebook, drawing pictures and labeling them orally so that I can write the labels; introduction to birds.

Practical Life- I feel that teaching these should be a part of our daily life and shouldn't be taught only during school hours. 
     Elijah- learning address and phone number; using a knife; using a hammer; putting things away.
     Levi- learning address and phone number; pouring; using knife; using screw driver; putting things away. 

Sensorial- this is another area that I need to study better before being fully able to teach the boys.
     Elijah- 3rd color box.
     Levi- 2nd color box; metal insets.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Frustration turned relief......

  Can't believe it's been over 6 months since I last posted.  Maybe that's part of my problem, I really need to vent in order for me to think through to a solution.  That's exactly what I did on Friday night as I vented to a friend of mine.  I thought up a solution and she offered a suggestion to take my solution a step farther.

The Problem:  Last year was our first year homeschooling.  The boys were 5 and 2, K and just a toddler.  We started the year off with many different Montessori lessons and made it through December with no textbooks at all.  Then it happened.  I began to wonder how I was comparing to public school teachers and where my son was in comparison to public school kids.  I was frustrated that we were having such trouble with reading.  All of his Montessori friends were reading the year before Kindergarten.  He was half-way through and still unable to read more than a simple 3 letter word.  I packed up the boys and jumped in the car one day over the Christmas break.  We drove 1 hour to the nearest homeschool bookstore.  Thankfully they have a play place for the kids because I was able to look through many textbooks and find what I thought I needed to make me feel better. 

   I bought a Horizons K Math book, the 2nd half only, and Book 1 of Explode the Code.  My son did great with both of these.  I added in math manipulatives, many of them Montessori materials, as they went with the lessons.  I added sandpaper letters and the pink language kit as they went with ETC.  Oh, I also bought Bob books, which we read as my son was able.  Having these books helped to give me a little more direction in teaching him, which was great. 

   The summer hit and since these books were so helpful, I decided to look for other books to help me with first grade.  I went to school to teacher pre-k.  I had taught pre-k and also worked with toddlers.  I had run a daycare center.  I had substituted in older classrooms.  I had only spent a little time in 1st grade rooms and knew NOTHING about teaching first grade.  I felt like I needed those books to give me direction.  I got 2nd grade Saxon math (my son was able to skip the first 25 lessons because already knew the material), 1st grade BJU reading, Bible, heritage studies and science.  I stuck with ETC and a basic handwriting book, which we have used handwriting books for years, even while he was still in preschool at the Montessori school.  We also got weekly sight word packets, weekly DOL packets, a spelling book, LA lifepac and a separate LA workbook.  We have too much and haven't even started Bible or Science. 

   The year has been okay but I feel like we're getting behind.  We can't seem to catch up.  Elijah is bored with reading the chapters because much of it he already knows because we covered it last year just for fun.  We would read about something in a story book and look up the information to get the whole truth.  If the boys asked a question, we looked up the answer and studied it until we were satisfied that we had learned all that we wanted about the subject.  This year it isn't quite so enjoyable at all.  We took in a foster child in October which has made keeping house and doing school work a bit more difficult.  He's still young so he naps in the middle of the day.  All of this has combined to make our mornings full of house work and our afternoons full of school work.  Most days we don't even make it outside to play or if we do, it's after 4.  We still love homeschooling but it isn't as enjoyable anymore.  Something has got to change. 

   I've heard lots about Charlotte Mason so when I saw a Charlotte Mason book available as a free download on B&N, I downloaded it to my Nook.  I started reading it and then really felt like we needed a change.  There's much about CM that I love based on the book that I'm reading but the curriculums that I've seen that are supposedly CM, are textbook based with projects thrown in.  I am NOT a projects person.  I don't like to preplan to make sure that I have supplies.  I like manipulative type things, the occasional cooking lesson or art.  If we're going to study birds, I don't want to make a bird mobile, I want to be outside watching the birds.  I want to go to the library and check out some books about birds.  I want to do bird puzzles, nomenclature cards, games, etc.  I got to thinking that maybe I should step back into Montessori style and maybe add a little of Charlotte's ideas about nature to complete our curriculum.  It worked for Kindergarten so why can't it work for the rest of the grades?  I talked to some friends about it on Friday night and one of them reminded me of an amazing Montessori teacher that is a mutual friend of ours.  She said I should talk to her for some ideas.  One quick little comment on facebook and she agreed to come visit on tomorrow.

   Now I'm so excited to see what she has to say.  My son, now 7, is excited to talk to her about his schooling and hear what she has to say as well.  I'm gathering up our science, social studies and bible curriculums to sell.  We have a children's devotional book that we enjoy and haven't finished yet.  We will use that this year and next I am going to use the CIA and Mission Friends literature to teach bible, missions and geography.  It's actually meant to be used in church but I absolutely love the materials and my boys enjoyed it when we used it at our church.  We've stopped using it at church now so they won't be getting it in both places.  Adding the two together should give me plenty of pictures and information to make an entire month out of the content (both CIA and MF study the same missionary each month).  Using both will also allow me to teach all 3 of the children on their level!

   For science and social studies, we're going to see what my friend has to say and do those the Montessori way.  For reading, we are going to continue sight words, ETC and the LA lifepac (which is still pretty much phonics) that I've already purchased.  We're going to start the blue language kit and move into the green.  We've stopped the BJU reading because we got to a point where he couldn't read and comprehend because he needs to go further in phonics.  We're going to keep reading Bob books until he's ready to move forward in reading and then once we've finished the reading book, we're just going to read real books.  We'll keep doing the spelling book too.  We're going to stop handwriting and start doing copywork using our memory verse each week.  As for DOL and that LA workbook I bought, well, we're going to wait on those until we've gotten better at reading.  He just isn't ready for studying the parts of speech when he still can't read the instructions on those things on his own.  Math is working great so we're sticking with that, maybe adding some Montessori lessons with it.  In short, we're going to take what I have and stretch it out over a long period of time because some of it he just isn't ready for.  We're cutting out science and ss textbooks now and will cut out reading once we have finished the curriculum we have.  I will not be buying curriculum for next year! 

   He is ahead in math in comparison to public school but he's right on target for a Montessori school.  In reading he's on target with a public school but behind in Montessori.  I don't care though!  I want him to be where he's ready to be, not where another school says he needs to be.  I feel so much better about the rest of this school year now that I've realized what we need to do.  I can't wait to see what my friend has to suggest for us tomorrow.  She promised to get some things together for me this weekend and may even be bringing me her 6-9 yr old manuals to borrow.  After talking with her, I may even decide to toss out several of the books I currently plan to keep using.  All I know is that teaching my kids should be enjoyable for us all.  It shouldn't be something that we have to stop life to do.  School should be a part of our everyday life and should come naturally to us.  We're going to go at our pace from here on out.  I'm going to follow my kids and teach as they are ready to learn.  Not learning isn't an option and as a teacher it is my job to at least peak their interests so that they are excited about learning something different and new.  They need to learn research skills and a textbook doesn't teach that when it gives the information to you diluted.  A test doesn't tell if you truly know the information but a conversation does.  I want education to be our lifestyle, not something that is just kinda shoved into our day.  A day in which you learn nothing new is a boring day!!!!