Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Fall Sensory Box for September!

Fall is my favorite season so I was really excited to put together our fall themed sensory box. It was pretty simple. The bottom of the box contains pinecones the kids and I collected. I was also going to use the acorns we found but after transporting them home a lot of them lost their caps and instead of gluing them back on I decided to use them for other crafts!

The rest of the box contains:
Plastic Jack-o-Latern pumpkins (The Christmas Tree Shop)
Plastic resin pumpkins (The Christmas Tree Shop)
Scarecrow and Happy Harvest small wooden pieces (The Christmas Tree Shop)
Silk Leaves (Hobby Lobby)
Orange pumpkins and gourds (The Dollar Store)

I am so excited about the fall themed activities that I have planned for our first mini-unit of the month and will be posting them mid-way through September!

Friday, August 26, 2011

First Week of School

Here is the re-cap of our first week of school:

First I decided to start T, my 18 month old, with boxes of activities every day. His first box was a double stacking toy, a mirror, two books, plastic baby bead toy and plastic Easter eggs with pom poms in them (idea from
Fun & Engaging Activities for Toddlers)


My three year old little princess had four busy activities in her plastic bins every day. My son is learning to read and in order to keep her occupied I gave her activities to complete every day.

Day 1: Coloring and Cutting practice, Fruit Loop "beading" on pipe cleaners, Play Doh on a mat, Practicing her name.

Day 2: Number counting, puzzle, letter A items, spooning flat marbles

Day Three: Scooping colored balls into the matching colored cup, felt cupcake decorating (Unsolicited Advice), measuring flour with measuring spoons (by far this has been the favorite of the week for both of the older children), Leap Frog Magnets

We also learned our letter A this week. Each day we had a new activity for the letter. We glued construction paper apples onto the letter A (I cut our each of them by hand). We also read a book about apples and had an apple as our snack.

The second day we read Anansi and the Moss Covered Rock. We also made fingerprint ants and ants on a log snack.

We made popsicle stick A's and read Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

We are working on the numbers 7 and 8 in math, and are reviewing some of the basic sounds in reading along with some easy readers. J is also reviewing one letter a day in handwriting.
For Bible we started the story of creation. Our memory verse is Gen. 1:1: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. I have found the best way that he learns his memory verse is to sing it. Each day we learned about one day of creation. I could not find an activity I really liked for the first day of creation, so I took the kids down to the basement and turned off the lights. We would say "and God said let there be light" and would take turns turning on and off the flashlight. Day Two we created the sky (blue construction paper with cotton ball clouds) and the third day I had them color a picture of what God created on that day.

Our mini unit is healthy eating. For the first day we talked about the food groups and glued pictures of food to the correct part of the food pyramid.
We watched the Reading Rainbow DVD: Gregory the Picky Eater and we sorted play food by food groups.
Overall we had a pretty good week and we were able to do everything we had planned. It did not always go as smoothly as I would have hoped but with three little kids I think we had a successful first week of school!

Tot School
abc button

Monday, August 22, 2011

Busy Bag Swap

As if I did not have enough to do, I signed up for Unsolicited Advice's K-2nd grade busy bag swap. I am so excited and cannot wait to recieve my box (I only got the email yesterday so I know the box is about a month away!) That being said I am already finished with my assigned activity! I was assigned pinchers and small things. I purchased plastic tongs from The Dollar Store (they come four to a package and were located in the seasonal section in my store), pom poms from The Dollar Store and plastic containers (they come four to a package) from The Dollar Store. I also included some miscellaneous buttons so the children could have a variety of sizes and shapes to use and not just pom poms.

The goal for each bag is to keep it to $1/bag or less (which I did) and that everything fit in a resealable bag. I will send it off to the coordinator of my group and then will receive back 30 different activities for my son. This ends up costing about $60 (since it is about $30 for the 30 activities, $15 to ship the box to the coordinator and I will send $15 to the coordinator to mail my box back).

My husband was not too keen on the cost, but it is well worth it to me because I know to duplicate all 30 activities would be more than $30 , plus my time to put it all together is well worth more than $30. If you are interested she has done other swaps in the past: a toddler swap, Pre-K swap, and a K-2nd swap. She is also planning on a K-2nd reading and math activities swap in the future. Even if you are not interested in the swap she has great busy bag activity ideas that are great for keeping your child busy when homeschooling, traveling or whenever they are bored!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Official Start of School!!!

After a failed attempt to start this summer (which was totally my fault, since I lacked a lot of planning and with all the craziness I really need the planning) we are officially starting school on Wednesday, August 24th! J is starting kindergarten and my princess with be starting preschool. I know I am probably totally insane, but I really do not have a cirriculum. I went to a homeschool convention in March searching for preschool cirriculum, handwriting cirriculum, Bible cirriculum and math cirriculum and all I found was math! I did not like any of the cirriculum they were selling so I decided to take on the very big job of making-up my own (which since I do not have an education background- I have a Masters in Business, has been a lot of work) but there are tons of blogs out there, that if you have time you can find oodles of ideas- TIME being the key! So without further ado here are our plans for the school year:

Bible- Every week has a theme here are the themes I have decided to start with:

Creation (spread to a week and a half of lessons- one day of creation per day)

Adam and Eve and the Fall

Noah's Ark

Joseph and his Brothers

Joseph in Egypt

Joshua and the Battle of Jericho

Daniel and the Lions Den


The Tower of Babel

Moses- this will continue for a couple weeks

Math- J is currently working on Singapore Math- Kindergarden Early Bird book, my little princess with be learning her numbers up to 10 (maybe up to 20...)

Reading- J is continuing on with Hooked on Phonics (I will be starting my daughter on the preschool version as well) and using readers to reinforce. For preschool we will also be featuring a letter every week with crafts, snacks, books and activities for each letter.

Mini-Units- Every two weeks we will be featuring a new mini-unit. I love the idea of unit studies and this is my way of incorporating that into our school. We will be reading themed books, doing activities, crafts, eating snacks based on that unit, and every month the sensory box will be based on one of the two units. The units that I have so far are:

Nutrition/Food Groups


Geography: North Carolina

The Farm



Tall Tales (Paul Bunyan, Davy Crockett, Johnny Appleseed...)



Weather (Tornadoes, Hurricanes, Tsunamis, Earthquakes)

Ancient Egypt

I am planning on posting about our first week at the end of the week and will also posting our first mini-unit: Nutrition.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Gnome Project

Since we still have not sold our home we are still taking the long road trip to visit my husband every few weeks. The first trip I had tons of activities for the car and we had our travel DVD player. The kids barely played with the activities and instead wanted to watch movies. The second trip I brought all our kids DVDs and only a few activities. Of course they asked for their activities and I was not as prepared. So this next trip I have decided to be prepared this time (which means they probably will only play with them for a few minutes. Here is one of our new activities: color gnomes. Right now I have only made eight, but once I am less busy (will that ever happen) I plan on making more. They are super easy and I got my inspiration from Little Red Whimsy and adorable etsy shop, and hers are definately cuter with hair and faces. They are made of unfinished wooden people from Hobby Lobby (the regular price is 2.99 for a bag of 8 people), hot glue and felt.

All I did was cut two small pieces of felt and attach them for clothing and a hat with the hot glue gun.

I was planning on keeping these a suprise but my two sons saw them before they were finished (the one who is 18 months won't remember but I guarantee the 5 year old will ask for them as soon as they are in the car.)

I have linked up this post to Sugar & Spice on Seven Thirty Three, click on the button for more great craft ideas for little (and big) girls!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Fun Learning Garage Sale Finds!

I am so excited about what I found at a garage sale. I saw on Craigslist that there was a retiring elementary school teacher having a garage sale to clean out all of her teaching supplies. I packed my kids up and headed over. We were there a couple minutes before it was scheduled to start and there were almost ten other people with the same idea as me! I bought all this for $5, which I think was a fabulous deal (since one of the card sets alone was orginally $10!) And none of the pieces were missing on the puzzles or the games or card sets.

This is what I bought:
Two workbooks
Four puzzles
Toy Story Game
Misc Dinosaurs and Animals
Stencils (2 packs)
Foam Letters and Numbers Stickers
Sequencing Game
Three Reading/Words Cards
I Spy Card Game
Phase 10 Kids Dice Game

I was so excited, but once I got home I wished I had bought more from her (she was selling the workbooks for $.25 so I wished I had picked up more!)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Seventh Generation Diapers Winner

Congratulations to Christina F. the winner of the Seventh Generation Diapers giveaway. Christina tweeted about the giveaway. Thanks to everyone who entered!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Homemade Pickles!

I love homemade pickles. When I was a little girl I remember eatting my grandmother's homemade pickles. Last year when I started canning I thought I would try my hand at pickles. My kids love pickles and I knew they could not be too hard if my grandmother made them every year (she was not the best cook in the world, but she made yummy pickles!) I was right, they are super easy. All you need for pickles are pickle cucumbers (they sell them in the produce department of many stores, or if you have a farmers market close you can buy super fresh cucumbers- I did this since the farmers market is only 15 minutes away from my husbands house and they had several stands selling cucumbers!) , vinegar, pickle seasoning spice packs, water and sterile jars. I follow the directions on the back of my spice pack, but pickling cucumbers only requires you to cook the vinegar/spice mixture and cut your cucumbers. It was so easy I was able to make thirteen jars in about an hour in my husband's tiny one bedroom apartment. The picture is a jar that we already started to enjoy!

Monday, August 8, 2011

My Great Trip to Walmart and the Gap Outlet

I am not a blogger that typically writes about money saving shopping trips but I was so excited about a shopping trip this week. My first stop was to the Gap Outlet. I love this store. I am always able to find something great for really cheap. This is a store that is located in a warehouse park and everything is sold as is and there are no returns or refunds (so buyer beware) but if you can take the time an effort you can get some great deals. Here is what I found this trip:
Two t-shirts for me, three tank tops for my daughter, a pair of socks for her and a bathing suit for next year for her. All for $3.50!! I was so excited!

I had to go to Wal-Mart for a few items (not my favorite place to shop, but it is convienent when you need multiple types of items and only want to go to one store). But I was glad I stopped there- I love to hit their $1 and $2 racks and I am always sad I don't pick-up more when I leave. I have not hit this good of clearance there since January and here is what I found:
Two shirts and a pair of jeans for my daughter and a dress-up outfit for my little guy (it is 4T and he is only 18 months but for $2 he will grow into it!)

For my five year old I hit the jackpot! Eleven shirts, three pairs of pants and a pj bottom. My favorite is the lego t-shirt with a pen and two mini-figs for only $1 (I bought two identical shirts- I have lots of boys to buy for so one will probably be a gift!)
My two trips totalled $24, I was very happy since I have not done well lately finding good clothing at garage sales. Clothing for older kids is harder to come by and my target price is about $.50 a piece, but for $1/piece of brand new clothing I am very happy!

Keep your eyes open for Wal-mart clearance racks!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Ice Cream Sensory Box

With the end of summer I decided it would be fun to do an ice cream sensory box for the month of August, plus I think it will tie in nicely with the food group mini-unit that I have sceduled for the end of the month. I had a lot of fun with this box and I know my kids will too!

What's in the box:

Ice cream bowls from Hobby Lobby

Ice cream scoops from Hobby Lobby

Ice cream bowls and matching spoons from The Dollar Tree

Ice cream mini erasers from Target

Stuffed ice cream cones from my childhood

The bottom of the box is neopolitan ice cream (its really pink, brown and white pom poms) and cherries (little red pom poms).

This sensory box is really making me hungry!!!