Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

National Blog Posting Month: Toddler Art

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

September being the first full month this blog has been in existence, I signed us up for National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo). I have attempted (and almost succeeded) at NaBloPoMo at my personal blog, but this month, I’m committed to doing it!  Really!  How hard can it be to post every single day this month?  (Actually, it can be more difficult than you think.)  September’s blogging theme, which I can follow if I want, is “art.”  I thought this would be a great opportunity to share some of the kids’ creations.

I have written a lot about Levi, since he is the closest to school age, but Isaac is the artist in our family.  He holds a pencil like a pro, and has drawn some pretty detailed little drawings, especially for a two-year-old.  One obsession of his is helicopters.  A few months ago, he would ask me to draw him one practically every waking hour.  Once, I jokingly told him to draw his own.  To my surprise, he came up with the drawing you see at the right!  A few days later I saw him sitting at the dining room table drawing and talking to himself, so I eavesdropped.  He said, “Eyes … nose … mouth …” as he drew each feature on the face at the left. Isaac amazes me every day with his technical skill at drawing.  I can’t wait to see how this develops in the future!

Levi is also incredibly creative, but drawing is not his strength.  He prefers to work in 3-D media (found objects, Duplo blocks, etc.).  Check back often!  I will be sharing some of Levi’s creations and some more of Isaac’s throughout the month.




Taking it On The Road: Homeschooling Away from Home

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

Later this month, we are making a trek to the cabin where Nate and I stayed on our honeymoon.  Originally, this was going to be our time to reconnect with each other.  As the date grew closer, we began to realize that it wasn’t practical to leave the kids behind.  Naomi does not tolerate being away from me for more than a few hours, and the boys are simply exhausting to care for.  We decided to turn the trip into our first family vacation!  We will honor our seventh wedding anniversary by celebrating the family we have built together.

When I think about vacations my family took when I was younger, what I remember most were the learning experiences my parents planned for us.  We spent most of our nights away at campgrounds, rather than in hotel rooms.  Not only was this economical, but it provided ample opportunities to learn about nature through hikes, nature center visits and more.  We visited the living history museum at Fort Boonesborough, Kentucky and took a self-guided audio tour of the Gettysburg battlefield.  And who could forget the Insectarium with its roach-infested model kitchen?

I attended public school for my entire K-12 career, but not many learning experiences can compare to those I had in the name of family fun.  It is this sort of learning that epitomizes my ideal of homeschooling.  Nate mentioned in his first post that we are “officially” starting in October, but I’d like to think of this trip as the beginning.  Who says we can’t start school with a field trip?  We have planned visits to some “educational” destinations (what destination isn’t, really?), the locations of which we will share after we get home.  We will also be using the drive time as an opportunity to listen to our first curriculum purchases on CD: Song School Latin, Song School Greek, and the Math-U-See Skip Counting and Addition CD.  We’ll round out our playlist with free audio stories from  Check back in early October to read about our experiences with homeschooling on the road!

Mathcounts and Homeschool students

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

The HSLDA has successfully negotiated where homeschooling teams can again compete the Mathcounts competition.  Mathcounts is a math competition for middle school students.  It is good that groups such as the HSLDA defend homeschool students from discrimination.

For more read here.

Software Review: Toddler Flashcards iPhone App

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

Did you know that penguins say, “Hur dur-dur-dur-dur?” Thanks to iTot Apps’ Toddler Flashcards, I do!  As with many learning tools we have stumbled upon, we originally purchased Toddler Flashcards to entertain the kids.  It ended up being one of the better 99 cents we’ve spent!  Toddler Flashcards is engaging, entertaining, and educational.  Our kids love it and so do we.

The application features dozens of digital flashcards that kids can flip through with the swipe of a finger.  Each “card” shows the printed word, a crisp photo illustration, and an audio clip of the word being pronounced. Some categories provide additional enhancements. For example, each animal’s sound plays after its pronunciation.   Last night, Isaac sat and played the penguin card over and over ad nauseam, giggling the whole time.  Toddler Flashcards works great any time kids must sit still for an extended period, such as in the car or at a restaurant.  We always carry our phones, so it is there when we need it.

The interface  is easy for kids–even very young ones– to navigate.  Our two- and four-year-olds often steal our phones and have figured out how to load the app.  Kids can easily browse through one of several categories: animals, food, things, shapes, colors, alphabet, and numbers.  One option also shuffles cards from the first three categories.  The app is simply packed with information that teaches vocabulary, spelling, pronunciation, counting, colors–and plenty of trivia, such as the little penguin tidbit I shared earlier.

In short, we use and strongly recommend Toddler Flashcards to any iPhone user with toddlers or preschoolers.

(Note: We were not compensated in any way for this review.  We just love the app and wanted to share it with others who might find it useful.)

Free Resources: Letter Puppets

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

I mentioned in Saturday’s post that I do not intend to follow Slow and Steady Get me Ready to a T.  This week’s activities are a perfect example of how I might adapt the ideas presented in the book.  I opened up to “Age 4 — Week 12″ and found that the week begins by introducing the letter D.  Thanks to Starfall, Levi has been able to identify all of the letters and their sounds since he was two years old.  Two years later, he is beginning to put words together using alphabet blocks.  Last week he even wrote his name on his magnetic writing board!  You will see in the picture at the left that he has an issue with spelling: he does not understand letter order.  We wouldn’t want him to go around signing things “Vile” or “Evil,” now would we?  One activity suggested in the text is to look through magazines for words that begin with a particular letter.  I think this could help.  We may also try cutting out the words and making a collage?  Too ambitious?  Maybe.  I’d also like try digging in sand for letters, mostly because it sounds like fun.

To introduce each of the letters, Oberlander asks parents to make “letter puppets.”  When I think of a puppet, I think of the figure of a person or animal; I would generally describe these as “flashcards on sticks.”  However, I will refer to them as puppets to prevent confusion.  While I don’t find it necessary to introduce each letter, the author suggests other activities to do with the puppets, so I decided to go ahead and make them.  Being the nerd that I am, I made them electronically.  If you’d like to save some work, or aren’t particularly fond of drawing, you can download my version from the Resource Center.  Just cut the sheet in half between the two letters and have your child color it.  Then, fold it in half and glue the sides together with a stiff cardboard “stick” or a craft stick in between.  Voila!  Instant letter puppets!

I’ll report later this week about how the activities work.

Blue bees?!

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

Blue Mason BeeMany of you may have wondered why on Earth the bee in our header is blue.  As the mascot of our home school, we have chosen the Blue Orchard Mason Bee.  You can see what real blue bees look like in the photo at the left.  These friendly little gals make excellent pollinators for the small orchard that grows in our yard.  (Yes, there are “guys” in this species, too, but they don’t tend to venture far from the nest).  They are non-aggressive and rarely sting, even when threatened.

Why did we choose Blue Mason Bees as our mascot?  They represent many of the values we wish to impart: industriousness, helpfulness, and gentleness.  Their involvement with pollination signifies the cultivation of knowledge.  Throughout history, bees have been written about–often even revered.  Because our curriculum draws so heavily upon history, we like how the bee connects us to the past.

Thank you for joining us on our educational journey, and remember: Si sapis, sis apis–If you are wise, be a bee!