Friday, June 20, 2014

Five Little Pumpkins resources and ideas

This is a unit from In the Hands of a Child.  This company has the best lapbooks of any other lapbook company that I have found.  They're laid out with daily lesson plans and everything that you need to complete the lapbook.  There's even a list of additional books that go along with the unit.  If you want a unit on just about any topic, you can probably find it on their website.  There are 1 week units and many 2 week units too.  The units are labeled with the grades that they are meant to cover but they are also easily adaptable for children younger or older than the specified age range.

Five Little Pumpkins is a unit labeled Pre-K to 1st Grade.  Of course, Elijah will be participating with us so I will be adding some additional work for him to complete in his Notebook (Officially his FIAR binder but we will refer to it as a Notebook this year as he is learning to research and take notes on what he is learning).  He will be completing some of the Notebook pages from the FIAR Notebook Builder (by far the best $24 I've spent on homeschool materials in the past 3 years, these pages can be used with ANY curriculum and are great for taking a unit that would be more for your younger children and adapting it for use with the older child).

Five Little Pumpkins This unit covers the following concepts: the color orange, numbers 1-5, circles, square, the letter "P", sequencing, and graphing. Tracer font or cut and paste answers are provided for this unit.

You can see that these skills are even a bit below that of a 1st grader but this unit will serve as a great review and confidence builder for Levi.

The lessons each day are fairly short so this unit will fit nicely for the last week of the month of October when we are doing other fun fall activities as part of our everyday life.  I've only scheduled 2 units for October due to the arrival of the new baby, which turns out even better since Goodnight Moon turned into a 2 week unit.

Some easy/fun fall activities:

Carving a pumpkin- count seeds after cleaning and then roast them for a tasty snack.
Find the Tree that Matches the Leaf
Pumpkin scented play doh
Pumpkin scissor skills 
Nature Collage
Bake a pumpkin pie
Bake pumpkin bread or muffins
Pumpkin measuring
Some really cute and fun pumpkin activities
Counting/Number match cards
Pumpkin Contractions 
Pumpkin seed multiplication
Pumpkin pie fractions
I love this fun fall Bucket List.

More in-depth educational activities:
First Grade pumpkin themed Literacy pack 
Preschool pumpkin themed activities
Montessori inspired Pumpkin activities.

Specific to this poem:
List all of the verbs

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Goodnight Moon resources and ideas

Moving forward in compiling some ideas before I start the detailed lesson planning.  For more about my planning process, read this post.  For more Before Five in a Row and Five in a Row resources and ideas, you can read individual posts that I've labeled as Five in a Row.

Be sure to print out the Goodnight Moon Fold n Learn from Five in a Row.  These are available for FREE by signing up for the FIAR newsletter.  The link is on the right hand side and once you type in your email address and submit, you will get a welcome letter with a link and password for the Fold N Learns.  These are simple lapbooks that reinforce the concepts taught in the story and guides.

Also, this story is a Before Five in a Row story so the book guide is well below the level that my 3rd grader will need.  I will be using notebook pages from the Notebook Builder to assign more grade specific work for him.  I am also looking at possibly using the Exploring Nearby Space Project Pack from Hands of a Child with both the 1st and 3rd graders.  I will wait to decide this based on the amount of resources that I am able to pull together.  If I add this project pack, this unit will likely become a two-week unit, which is exactly why I choose only 20 books for the year.  It gives us time to explore topics a little more in-depth.  We will be reading Owl Moon later in the school year as well so I am not yet sure the direction that study will take us.  I'd like to use this unit as an introductory unit to the solar system for the older two and Owl Moon as a more in-depth look at the solar system.

I really like the simplicity of the activities that this blogger used for this book.  

A classroom teacher shares her art projects and additional reading material on this blog.

I like this activity found on Teachers Pay Teachers.  For my preschooler, I would print two sets of the picture/word cards and cut one set out for him to match with the other set.  For my first grader, I would use the mat with only the words along with the picture/word cards for him to match.  For my 3rd grader, I would use only the pictures and have him write the word.  The vocabulary and spelling part of this will be a bit below his level but he does need the cursive handwriting practice.

This is a preschool level project pack that correlates with this story nicely.  If I choose to do the additional project pack with the older two, this would be a good one to do with my preschooler and possibly my 2 year old to keep them engaged for a few extra days.

I LOVE the ideas found on this blog, especially the Tot Trays.  Her science lesson would be great for each of my kids.

A few great ideas for using a light box along with some activities for toddlers.  I probably would come up with a few things for the older boys as well since they've never done any work with the light box.  She also has a fun vocabulary lesson for toddlers.  Don't forget the fun sensory activities. 

A GREAT list of Montessori inspired activities that go along with this story.   I am personally in love with this blog.  I foresee many more days spent lost on this page.

And some Montessori moon activities for the older kids.  Wow!  What I thought was going to be a short simple BfFIAR unit will end up being a really good study for all of the kids and will be able to stretch to at least 2, if not 3 weeks.  We visited Kennedy Space Center in August 2013 and I bought quite a few solar system posters and books.  We will get some great use out of those during this unit!!!

This is a really good printable pack that has some activities that would work with each of the boys.  I wouldn't print everything for each but instead would pick and choose the things that I feel each would use and add those to their assignment folders for the week.  Of course those activities would later be punched and added to their FIAR notebooks.

I am so excited about all of the great resources that I found for this unit and can't wait to continue my lesson planning so that we will be ready for school this fall.  Be sure to check back for updates to this unit as I do plan farther and also to see how the unit goes for us.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Learning to Ride

   Learning to do new things is sometimes scary.  You have to let go and just give it a try sometimes.  Recently my 5 year old learned to ride his bike.  He took his training wheels off and with just one push from Dad and another from Mom, he had it figured out.  In all actuality, I think we should have taken the training wheels off of his bike a long time ago.  He really already knew exactly what to do, he just needed to actually let go and give it a try.  As soon as he realized that he could do it, he immediately wanted to "catch up" with his brother, who was riding down the road.  He had barely gotten the hang of it and he already felt behind.

   So many times I find myself wanting to do the same.  I've barely learned to sew a straight stitch and yet I want to make something with ruffles.  I can barely make homemade ice-cream but I want to make blueberry ice-cream with homemade blueberry syrup.  How many times do we do this with homeschooling as well? We've barely made the decision to homeschool but yet we want to catch up and have the Pinterest Perfect homeschool classroom and daily Pinterest worthy lesson plans.  We struggle to catch up with those around us that have been homeschooling for years.  We strive to have everything together and have a perfect year but what we forget is the learning curve.

   Three years ago we made the decision to homeschool.  I found some great Montessori homeschool blogs and I was going to do it all just like those moms.  I worked all summer trying to make lessons and buy those that I could afford.  I saved up money that I found in the laundry, babysat for a few friends, sold a few scrapbook things and worked in my husband's office in order to have money to purchase those expensive materials.  Things were great.  We had a few friends join us the first few weeks of school and all was going great until I started to fall behind on my work for my husband's company.  He hired someone to take my place but then we had to move out of the office area that we were using for a classroom.  It was early December and I felt like my plans for the year were just over and that our year had been horrible.  We rushed to finish a room upstairs, moved our bedroom up and then used the old bedroom as our classroom.  All was well with the world again but I still felt like I had failed my kids.  For our co-op yearbook that year, a good friend of mine made a collage to be used as our family page.  Take a look at the year we had and tell me if you see the chaos.  What I see when I look at that collage is a great year full of fun, laughter and learning.

2011-12 Collage for the year book.

    Not thinking about the actual successes of the year, I focused on things that I just couldn't keep up with.  I decided that Montessori homeschooling just wasn't for us and I purchased curriculum.  You know, the kind that has a whole collection of text books that look just like what I used in school, along with nice crisp workbooks.  I was in love!  Everything was going to be soooooo easy that year.  Boy was I wrong!!!  Elijah hated them!  You know what he loved?  The extra activities that I planned to go along with his lessons from the textbook.  Desperate and upset that I had spent all that money on curriculum, I talked with a Montessori teacher friend that decided to spend her day off with us and give me some textbook free ideas.  Again I felt disoriented with our homeschool journey and just knew that I was doing my children a disservice by keeping them home.  I didn't have a fancy collage of photos through out the year this time but you know what I did have, a little boy that would beg to stay up after bedtime to read.  I had another little boy that begged to have stories read to him all day long.  I asked them if they wanted to go to school in the fall and they asked me, "Why?"  It seems they enjoyed the year and like being at home with Mom.

End of the year celebration and Student of the Year trophies.
I even got a Teacher of the Year plaque.

   This past year was possibly our worst one yet.  We now have 2 foster children and have had several others come through our house over the past school year.  Thirteen to be exact.  We even had a newborn for a few weeks.  As hard as I try to stay organized, I lost all sense of organization when the second foster child entered our home.  She's been with us a year now and I'm just now getting into the groove of things and trying to get organized, of course, we now have a baby on the way of our own.  Anyways, so this past school year we started out going back to Montessori but we added a Math curriculum that fits well with the Montessori philosophy.  I thought the year was going to be great because I was so ready, I didn't know that the state was going to throw in extra family visits during the week.  I didn't know that having afternoon activities 4 days a week was going to affect our entire day.  I didn't know that Saturday morning soccer games and Sunday morning church were going to keep me from getting anything done on the weekends.  Needless to say, very little school got done until we stopped all activities and visits in January.  We managed to fit in 9 months of school in just 4 months before we were completely burnt out again.

A day at Walter B Jacobs, a nature trail and wildlife refuge.
September 2013

   Was this year a disaster?  I'd say so!  Did I learn from this year?  Certainly!  Will I always remember how horrible this year was?  Probably not!  The truth is, that regardless of how bad this school year was, there was still much good in it.  My kids love our math program, ShillerMath.  They love to read and visit the library.  They love their school work and are looking forward to starting back in the fall.  As I have done each May since we first decided to homeschool, I gave my kids a choice.  I asked if they want to go to school or continue homeschooling.  Their answer always puts a smile on my face and reminds me that despite all of the challenges of homeschooling, we must be getting something right.  My boys don't want to go to school, they want to stay right here at home and continue homeschooling.

   I won't say that I've completely learned to ride yet, but I can proudly say that I continue to get back up each and every time that I fall.  I've got scars to remind me of the journey and the lessons that I've learned along the way.  Each time I fall, I have to remind myself that I haven't failed, I've only learned one more way that doesn't work for our family.  I'll be trying things a bit different this school year too.  There will be more trials and lessons to be learned but through each one, we are still learning as a family.

   Keep learning to ride.  Get right back on when you fall off.  Remember the lessons learned with each and every fall.  The trail is a rough one but one day we'll look back after the last child has graduated high school and we'll realize that we've finally learned to ride.  We will then be ready to teach others how to ride!


Friday, June 13, 2014

That moment.....

We all have that moment when we hear that weird noise coming from the bathroom, accompanied by running water.  Normally that moment would evoke a feeling of panic in a mom.  She rushes into the bathroom, turns off the water and puts a stop to the fun.  But then there's that other moment.  The moment when we just don't care anymore.  We let the kids keep making the mess because they're occupied for the moment and we have that much needed moment of peace and quiet.

That's where I am this afternoon.  I'm sitting at my desk in tears for no reason other than hormones, I got woken up early from my nap this afternoon, I had to cancel my planned shopping trip for tomorrow and honestly, I just wanted a few minutes of quiet.  The two year old was eating Oreos happily in the living room, right in my line of vision and the 3 year old was making coffee in the bathroom.  They were completely oblivious to my moment of self-pity and they were having a blast.

I let them continue.  Does it make me a bad mom?  A good mom?  Who really is the judge of that anyways?  I'll tell you what it does make me.  It makes me a mom that got to have her moment all to herself while the kids were happily doing what they wanted.  It didn't hurt anything that the 2 year old ate too many Oreos and the 3 year old made a mess on the bathroom floor.  Those things will soon be forgotten but the peace that I gained in those few minutes (and the few while I'm writing this, as they are standing at the door watching Daddy get out of the truck) will do much to carry me through this weekend in which I had to give up something I was excited about.

Friday, June 6, 2014

David's Gift needs your help!

We have a family that needs help from David's Gift to pay for the services for their 2 month old baby.  The family has paid some towards this but I know that we can raise the money to pay the difference.   We need to raise $910.58 this weekend.  If you can help with this, please visit to make a donation.  Thank you!!!!!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Moving tonight.....

No, not moving physically, just moving away from Facebook for a while.  I've actually been thinking of this for quite a while and decided that tonight was as good a time as any.  I'll continue posting homeschool specific things but I will also be posting a bit more about our day to day life.  I really do enjoy posting about the cute random things my children do and sharing with my friends on Facebook.  I realize that Facebook also zaps a lot of my time and energy throughout the day too.  My friends list has gotten really big, I downsize and then it grows again.  I'm a pretty public person so really there's no need to keep a closed friends list anyways.  We're in the phone book, my name actually comes up in a Google search and my address is considered public information because of the non-profit registration of David's Gift.  I enjoy writing and through the years I've filled probably hundreds of notebooks with stories of my day, memories that pop into my head or ideas for stories that I'd like to write one day.  Though these things may not be specifically homeschool related, they are a part of our homeschool trail because they are a part of our daily lives.  As homeschoolers, the world is our classroom.  We aren't confined by walls or rules.  I'm going to let this spill over onto this blog.  I look forward to this new "home" to share the joys and frustrations of homeschooling, foster care, being a preacher's wife and contractor's wife, as well as being the Mommy of 4 (about to be 5) crazy little ones.  I'm glad you'll be joining me!

Pumpkin Runner resources

Another unit from Five in a Row.  This one is found in Volume 4.

I will be posting links to random resources that I find for the book and will later organize those links and post my detailed lesson plan for that unit.  Once we have completed the unit, I will post photos of our family enjoying these activities.

Kangaroo dot to dot

A list of 36 pumpkin activites

Great blog post about this unit.

Co-op blog post about this unit

Activity ideas from the author

Fun math ideas

to be continued.....

Lon Po Po resources

For this story, I will be using the book Using Caldecotts Across the Curriculum.  It is very similar to Five in a Row though the lessons aren't as in-depth.  

Again, I'm just compiling a list of resources at this point in my planning and will come back later to add detailed plans and once we've completed the unit, I'll add photos of our adventures.  I may just randomly post links at first but will go back and organize once I'm finished gathering resources.  

I had trouble finding a lot of activities and ideas for Lon Po Po outside of what is in the guide book and the two units above.  This unit will require some creative thinking on my part!  Stay tuned for updates.  

Caps for Sale resources

Continuing with my "folder filling".  Working on ideas for Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina.  This is one of our favorite stories but we've never done a unit study on it.  You can find the study for this story in Before Five in a Row.

Be sure to get the FREE Fold n Learn from Five in a Row.  You will have to sign up for their email list in order to get the links.  These are full color printables to use to make a small lapbook.

More great printables can be found here!

This is a great blog post for preschool and 1st grade using this story.  I LOVE her ideas!!!!

Fun stack the caps cutting and pasting activity.  This will be great for fine motor.  

Fun photo op for the book.  Kids wear funky hats and hold these up.  

Free themed writing paper to use with an older child.

Cute dramatic play with different hats.

Reading/L.A. activities to use with older students.  

Fun art activity 

I will update with extra book list and detailed plans for our week as I get farther along in my planning.  Right now I'm just gathering ideas and printables.