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Sep 21, 2012

Keeping my Tot BUSY!

Hello everyone. Every week or so I meet someone who says, "You're homeschooling, that's great BUT what do you do with the toddler while teaching the older kids?"
Well we do many things. First I'm "blanket training" with bins. Typically I use two large bins to hold a variety of activities and try to pick out something for every 'subject'. I lay out a blanket on the ground and let her choose one item at a time to play with while she sits on her blanket. At first she wouldn't stay on the blanket but now she's getting much bettter. The idea behind this is that I know she's not wandering around the house getting into whatever she finds. I know where she is and what she's doing. She doesn't need that much freedom yet anyways.

Also I usually have one art activity picked out for the day. At least once a day I play kids music and let her pick out instruments to play along with the songs or we dance (usually at the start of the day). For Bible I love the Character Builder Series from Alpha Omega.

Lacing Beads from Doug and Melissa a tot favorite!
Cheap bin filled with books, flashcards, musical instruments, and a sketcher. I let her pull out each item at a time. She usually plays with each for about 10min at the most.
Putting straws in the top of a can for eye-hand coordination practice.
Books and puzzles always work great.
Another bin filled with her favorite toys. We're still getting into a rhythem but this seems to working great for both. She likes being around us while we work and she works.   
I am also slowly integrating the Letter of the Week Curriculum into her activities-the ones she can do without too much supervision and yet still begin the learn her letters and numbers.

This is a simple start to her schooling but a fun one. Happy homeschooling the tots!


Sep 14, 2012

Thirty Devotions for Mothers

Welcome! Because I am a young budding homeschooling mom I feel its nice to share encouraging things  with you. BUT I haven't been doing this: mothering, schooling, wife-ing long enough to share my own advice. Therefore, I think it more wise to share positive things with you (and with myself) to remind myself to rely on women who have, the proverbial, 'been there, done that.' Here are thirty devotions all of which I really like and am truly encouraged by them.

File:Mother child kissing.jpg
Mother kissing her child
1. Motherhood: A Rigorous Training Ground

What an awesome responsibility mothers have to their children. Cultural stereotypes promote the idea that giving birth miraculously endows a women with kindness, compassion, and goodness. But we all know better. Many of us can witness that we are made more aware of our weaknesses and impatience after becoming mothers than we were before. Godliness and generosity are not prerequisites of giving birth; they are characteristics that God hones and whittles into our characters over time. Motherhood provides a rigorous training ground where we can daily practice and model the disciplines of love, honesty, and compassion before our children.

Dear God, help me to teach my child what it means to be a Christian by my example every day. Amen.
---Rebecca Laird

Grace to You,

Sep 13, 2012

Bugs, Insects, and Mud Oh My!

This weeks unit is about insects! Because it rained A LOT this week we mostly did indoor stuff, but had a little time one afternoon to get elbow deep in the bugs and mud in our backyard. We learned a lot, had fun, played games, and yes caught bugs!

Day 1: Dazzling Dragonfly Craft

Day 2: Flashcards review and hand lens investigating

This image is chosen randomly from a collection
Day 3:  Internet research, coloring printouts, and insect games galore
Day 4: Fireflies Craft
Day 5: Catching bugs
 Found these cute bug catchers at the dollar store. I showed the kids how to flip over a rock to find all sorts of interesting bugs in the dirt. Then we scooped them up with our handy-dandy shovels and put them inside.

Make learning about bugs fun, even if you're a person not very fond of them.

*Interesting fact: Many foods we eat have insects or insect parts in them, that we don't see. The Department of Health and Human Services has set a standard called the Food Defect Action Levels, which (to quote a publication) "are set on the basis of no hazard to health... These levels are set because it is not possible, and never has been possible, to grow in open fields, harvest and process crops that are totally free of natural defects."

Happy Entomology Exploration,

Sep 7, 2012



OBJECTIVE: Exploring tools of discovery, Identifying tools that help us observe

VOCABULARY: binoculars, camera, discovery, eyeglasses, hand lens, microscope, telescope (optional/we used pics off the computer)

MATERIALS: worksheet

Children "discover" by using all their senses.  Students have been introduced to the five senses of hearing, touching, smelling, seeing and tasting.

Scientists and inventors have invented “tools” that help us to experience each of the senses in more detail.

The sense of sight probably has the most tools to help us observe and discover new objects.  Telescopes help us see the rest of the Universe, that we cannot feel, smell or taste.  We have instruments that can detect sounds that might help us understand our Solar System or the inside of our Earth.  Microscopes help us look at little things that we cannot see with the naked eye.   

  1. Ask students how they can see better.  As students respond, draw or write the "tool" they mention.  Display pictures of the items. 
  2. The following is a guide to help direct students comments.  Make sure you draw a simple stick figure so students have a guide when they draw.  Reinforce the concept that tools of discovery help scientists to see the world better.  Have students draw a picture of each of the instruments on the worksheet.

eyeglasses          helps people see                            
hand lens enlarges things
microscope makes little things large 
telescope makes very far things seem near
binoculars makes far things seem near
cameras records what we see

Continuing from yesterday we finished up our three part study on magnification and using the sense of sight to discover new ways of looking at and through things. Of couse the boys mostly wanted to play with the microscope while Sweet Pea ran around with the hand lenses (the non-expensive equipment ;). We wrapped the study by using the worksheet to make our own drawings of each object. Surprisingly they drew the pictures well enough to tell what was what. Again find the lab and fun others at Applied Science.

Happy Science Study,



OBJECTIVE: Comparing a microscope to a hand lens, exploring how objects can appear larger.

VOCABULARY: hand lens, magnify, microscope

MATERIALS: Microscope, magnifiers, paper strips


  1. Read The Naked Eye to children.  Make sure you go over some of the words in the storybooks by reading it first and then go back through the story and identify words that may be new to kindergartens.  Usually the picture helps explain the new word.
  2. The object of this lab is for students to decide whether the microscope or a hand lens makes an object more distinct.  Students will "vote" at each station whether the hand lens or the microscope makes the object larger.  Remember, you must have two identical objects if you did not purchase the kit.  Use the same kind of magnifier at each station.
  3. Review the use of the microscope.
  4. Students may have difficulty in looking through a microscope.  One eye should be closed and the opened eye should look through the tube.  You may want to use "pirate patches" over one eye or have the students put their hand over one eye.  This helps students see more easily through the microscope.  Do not have the students adjust the microscope.  Focus the material for students.  Remember the 2.5 objective is about 5.5 cm away from the object.
  5. Give students 15 LARGE and 15 VERY LARGE strips of paper to be used for voting.  Emphasize that you want your students to analyze how clear the image is.
  6. Have students go to different stations that are prepared with two similar items (you can limit the stations but we suggest 15).  Put one of the items under the microscope and examine the other item with the hand lens.  On the microscope use the reflected light option.  Children at this age have trouble looking at a thin section.  If you have not purchased the kit, select items that the children are familiar with like feathers, sand, fabric, seeds, dirt, or any other available items.
  7. After looking at both items, have students "vote" on the hand lense or microscope  that makes the item look the largest (VERY LARGE) and the instrument that  they think is not the largest, have them put (LARGE).
  8. After the students have been to all the stations, go to each station and count the number of votes.  Hopefully all the microscopes will win.  Discuss how the microscope makes objects more distinct and shows more detail.
  9. If you do not have the Swift-GH microscope or Prism Microscope, you may want to use another  hand lens.

 Junior really enjoyed this lab. He was completely taken back by how things look through the microscope. Especially this leaf from a flower. He thought is had "hairy legs like dad" which were not visible to the naked eye. 

A list of objects we used: key, leaf, flower pedal, ant, fly wing, ribbon, sand, dirt, rock, dime, celery, onion skin, dog tag, bread, hair, rice grain.

Also we did use a pirate eye patch for my Little Engineer but Jr. quickly learned how to shut one eye well enough to not need it. 

The boys really liked using the microscope and I have a feeling that we will be using it again just for fun.

This was a great lab and would highly recommend it for all you homeschoolers. Making little ones aware of the "microworld" really broadens their understanding of things and now it makes sense when I say "wash the germs off your hands" because they actually believe that their are germs now that they can't see but know are there ;)


Find this lab at Elementary/K/Applied Science/Lab C/comparing a microscope to a hand lens


Applied Science: Exploring Magnification


OBJECTIVE: Exploring Magnification, Discovering components of the micro world.

VOCABULARY: magnification, microscope

MATERIALS: book Greg's Microscope by Milicent E. Selson (borrowed ours from the library), coloring exercise, crayons

Greg's Microscope (I Can Read Book 3)
The microworld is different than the world we live in.  A grain of sand can become a boulder to a protozoa that wants to get around it.  A small obstacle for humans can be a challenge to the microworld. 

Very small organisms look different because they have different requirements than we do.  Their bodies look different than ours because they have adapted to a very small world.  There are microworlds in our refrigerator, in our bathroom, in our carpets, and in our hair!  Germs, which include many different types of organisms, are also part of the microworld.

The book, Greg's Microscope, will get students excited about looking through a microscope.  Greg and his family have so much fun, students will anticipate the coming lab.

  1. Read the book, Greg’s Microscope to students.  This reading exercise explains that microscopes make small things seem large.  Explain that the microscope is a tool to see items in more detail.  Our eyes are limited in the amount of detail it can see.  If we didn't have these tools we could not see the microworld.
  2. Discuss that the prefix " micro-" means small.  Anytime you see this in a word you should think "small."  The opposite of "micro-," is "macro-," which means large.  The terms microbe (small organisms), microbiologist (a scientist that studies small things), micropaleontology (the study of small fossils), and even microscope (a scope that looks at small things) are examples.
  3. The coloring exercise is to prepare the students for what they might see under the microscope.  Discuss what sand, a leaf, and a feather will look like under the microscope.  If you have the appropriate objects have the students look at them.  Have them draw a line from the word and picture to the appropriate magnification. 


This is the third week of science for us and so far it quickly become the favorite subject. Hands on activities and exploring new topics every week has been a blast. Part 1of 3 for this topic was simple and fun but still learning something.
Find the full curriculum at Elementary/Applied Science(K)/"Tools of Discovery"/Lab C/pre lab

Sep 4, 2012


Our last unit was Frogs. Again my kids choose the units so here we go!

Day 1: Reading. Familiarizing ourselves with frogs using the 5 W's. Again I checked out a lot of books from the library. These books include craft ideas, games, and art projects.

Day 2: Froggy Craft from Tippytoe Crafts

Day 3: Playing leap frog in mom's bedroom room. Of course it was a little difficult for the Engineer to easily hop over his big brother but he sure gave it a good shot while my little Sweet Pea just hopped around ;)

Day 4: Rock painting frogs. Anything including paint in art always works. For this craft I didn't have nice round rocks like I would have liked but what I lack in supplies my kids more than make up in imagination.
Go to link above for craft.
Day 5: A few cities over there is a great Nature Center where parents can take the kids to look at animals in their natural habitat as well as learn something. So Thursday afternoon we headed for a quick look at what they had on frogs then had a little picnic unfortunately I was too busy keeping track to think to take pictures, next time.

Overall a great week, a lot learned, creative thinking, and new adventures!

Grace to you,

Sep 3, 2012

Sewing Skirts!

Once every so often I get the DIY itch for some kind of craft. This time around I decided to try and make some skirts for the my little Sweet Pea. Fall is coming and skirts with leggings are what she likes to wear. Is this cost effective, I don't actually know but it was fun! Plus I figure if she's going to play with cars all day then why not do it wearing a skirt ;)

Step 1: Pick out fabric, measure, and cut.
22" at the top by 12" right angle by 34" bottom.
Step 2: Fold, iron, pin, repeat. 

Fold your bottom (at 1/2" double fold) and top (1/4" first fold, 3/4" second fold, then iron to hold the folds).

Tip: Iron the sides down to one side so when folding the top and bottom seams it is a cleaner fold.

Tip: Double fold the top and bottom to avoid fraying of the edges. Then iron to folds down for neat sewing. Don't worry about the extra fabric because once you add the elastic waist it gives you little girl extra tummy room to breathe ;)
Close up look the the ironed fabric before sewing.
Tip: Make sure to leave an opening for a spot to add the elastic band, button, and/or ribbon waist bands.
  Step 3: Once you have everything folded, neatly ironed, and pinned start sewing.
Tip: Sew as close as you can to the edge to leave room for the elastic band. For bottom hem I use a zig- zag sew line.

Tip: When you get to the corners fold one side under and over to get a rounded edge rather then a square edge.

Step 4: Add elastic and/or ribbon to waist band then sew it.
Tip: I used a safety pin to wiggle the elastic band through, and used a 1/2" thick elastic band.
Over pull the elastic through for plenty of sewing room. My daughters' measurement was 19.5"of elastic for a 22" diameter waste. Over measure everything for "mistake room." 
  Step 5: Add ribbon or bow if desired. Then dress up your cutie-pa-tootie!

Happy Sewing!
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