A Christmas Tree, Some Books, and a Challenge

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

In my life this week…
The Christmas season is in full swing. We've got the lights and the tree up, my oldest spent some time at Amma's house making Christmas goodies. 
The baby is very excited about the tree, he even wanted the tree to hold him! He loves to have other people hold him and he reaches out his arms as his way of saying "hold me!" and he has done that with the Christmas tree. He loves the lights, he loves the ornaments, he loves the branches. It's all fun and exciting, he was so excited the first few times that he started laughing hysterically when he saw it. I suppose that if I didn't know better I would probably find a decorated tree inside our house pretty funny too!
In our homeschool this week…
I shared in other posts this week about the learning that we are doing. My oldest is excited about learning to read and spell. We are using several different methods, I shared some of those in a post.
We have been taking it pretty easy with the holidays but since he is so excited about learning we have been spending time on stuff that he wants to learn about.
Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share…
When they show an excitement about learning something - go with it! Foster that love of learning!
My favorite thing this week was…
Watching my boys play together! They adore each other and I couldn't ask for more!
Things I’m working on…
Getting my entrepreneurial endeavors to the point that I can work those alone and be able to focus more time and energy on homeschooling. I really want to be able to 'retire' from my home preschool within two years. I want to be active in homeschool groups and other daytime activities.
I’m reading…
A link or quote to share…
On my other blog I am preparing for a Habit Building Challenge that will be in the month of January! I would love to have you join the challenge if you have a habit that you would like to build! It will help you get your new year started off right! The habit can be anything, click the image below for more info:

“You will never change your life
until you change something you do daily.
The secret of your success
is found in your daily routine.”

–John C. Maxwell

For the LOVE of learning!

One thing that I absolutely LOVE about home education is the fact that the love of learning can be cultivated and not squashed! I remember being a child and I loved learning, but I really did not like school.

I really love being able to cultivate my son's love for learning. He's so excited about learning new things (both of them are, but I don't quite consider myself homeschooling the baby yet - though I know that I'm teaching him a great deal!)

Right now my oldest is excited about learning to read and learning to count to one hundred. Not only do I get to be the one teaching him these things and watching him learn but I get to go with the flow and teach him as he has the interest.

Taking advantage of that is amazing! He doesn't have to feel pushed into learning something that he has no interest in yet, nor does he have to be held back and wait for something the school system is not ready to teach yet.

Isn't this the way learning is supposed to be?

It really is an adventure because I don't always know what is going to work when teaching him something. I was baffled at how to teach him to read because I was trying various "systems" and it just wasn't clicking.

Then I had the thought to sit down and write out the word AT. He sounded it out pretty quickly and then I added an "S" in front of the AT and he sounded out sat. He was so excited! We high-fived and I wrote out a bunch more AT's and started adding new letters in front of them.

In no time at all he had sounded out all of the three letter AT words in the English language! He was so excited and as soon as he could he started showing people his list and reading it to them.

We went through the same process with the IT words and he was equally excited!

Now he's focused on learning how to count to 100 so today I'll teach him 30, 40, 50 and so on. Now that he grasps the concept of 21, 22, 23... he can apply it to learning the bigger numbers. I think that he'll be able to count to 100 if not by today then by the end of the week for sure!

Favorite Educational Activities!

It has definitely been too long since I've posted! We've been very busy and making good progress, it's good that we're doing Pre-K for my oldest this year since there is so much going on and I have so many young kids in my daycare. It helps me to feel more relaxed about homeschooling Pre-K than if it was Kindergarten.

I want to share some of our favorite things!

This dry erase activity center was a birthday present and is now one of our staple homeschooling items! Just take one tracing sheet and it now has a lifetime of use! We use worksheets over and over with this! 

This is especially useful for things that require a lot of repetition. My 5yo is now able to write the whole alphabet and has used it to learn how to write his name as well as other things. I've also used it to write out words for him to learn to read. It's a great way to teach phonics!

This fun game teaches a lot of math skills! It teaches spacial reasoning, balance, counting, hand eye coordination and imaginative thinking. It also encourages fun time for family members!

This pattern block game is great for many reasons. The pieces are magnetic and so is the board, making it easier to keep the pieces where they are supposed to be (and less likely to get lost!) The cards have two levels making the life of the game even longer. So far this has provided many hours of fun learning! It's great for traveling too with the handy case that comes with it!

This fun spelling puzzle helps them to get excited about spelling words. The pieces only fit on the right word and the kids get so excited when they've spelled a word. This has been a big hit for not only my oldest but many of his friends who come visit!

The Leap Frog tag system is an excellent learning tool! There are countless books to choose from and even a couple of maps that I have my eye on. There are so many skills that it teaches, fun games, awards, and more. It's interactive, fun and teaches a lot!

The Leapster Explorer is a handheld game system that has a lot of educational games. It can be a little too much fun at times and I typically have to limit the time on this simply because it is a handheld game. 

What are your family's favorites?

Beginning of Pre-K Year

Homeschooling Pre-Kindergarten 2011-2012

We began our Pre-Kindergarten homeschooling year on Wednesday, September 7th for my oldest because of the simple fact that was the first day of school for all of the public and private school going kids around here. It was a good motivator for me to get things rolling and I definitely needed the motivation because of how relaxed homeschooling was last year with my third trimester and the new baby.

A lot of the learning came from watching educational shows such as leapfrog, super why, team umizoomi, etc. He also used the leapfrog Tag books, some learning games, puzzles, blocks, legos, and I threw in as much learning in every day activities as I could.

He actually managed to learn the remaining bit of the alphabet that he didn't know and all of the sounds. He learned about patterns and other math skills too. He grew in his writing and drawing skills just by sitting down with a paper and crayons or pencils. He basically went from scribbling one day to drawing actual pictures and coloring in the lines the next day, it was pretty amazing!

We've been talking about the days of the week each day, though we need to keep working on that because he says the days in random orders each time. He can count to 23 in the correct order, which is great because that's a skill that is expected by the end of kindergarten.

He has been tracing ABCs and his name with a special wipe off board that is transparent and you can place paper underneath. He enjoys that and it saves on paper and ink! We also have other wipe off stuff: a learning book, sheets of paper with the alphabet, a phonics book (not ready for that yet), and even a board on a wall.

Along with that he's been excited about a workbook, doing all kinds of different activities from letter tracing to matching to pre-reading to cutting and pasting and more. When he first started he didn't want to stop at all.

Learning through play. We've been spending quite a bit of time with tinker toys, lincoln logs, legos, blocks, games, puzzles, and such. They each help him to learn different skills and to think about how to make things and what works with what. There are a lot of different skills involved with these activities and spending hours on them is a great way for him to learn those skills.

When I play with him that adds to the learning even more as he watches what I'm doing and learns how to apply those skills himself. I have him look at what I made and have him figure out how I made it and have him do that himself.

We've also been playing with counting tokens and he's been placing them into color groups, adding numbers, and more.

He loves his art time so he's been having a lot of fun with drawing, coloring, painting, gluing, using pipe cleaners, folding and cutting paper, play doh, pencils, crayons, pens, stickers, and so much more. He's very creative!

Sensory. We've also gone to a park several times during the really warm weather. The park has a “splash pad” with a lot of water activities for the kids – that's much better than a water sensory table! Also bath time works very well for water sensory, learning about how things float or sink, how bubbles work, etc.

The park also had a huge sand box and lots of other typical park stuff like swings, climbers, teeter totters, etc. More ways for him to learn how things work and great opportunities for exercise as well.

We took a field trip to the children's museum where there were plenty of learning opportunities. Many more than we had time to explore with just that one trip, we will definitely be going back! There was a floor piano for stepping on to make music. There were puzzle games to figure out, there was a glow in the dark room with many activities to work on, focusing mostly on creating designs from shapes. There was a water room, an airplane to pilot, a bus to drive, and so much more!

The funny thing is that it feels like we haven't really done all that much but when I sit down to write out what we've done it shows me that we've really done a lot of learning activities in just a week! Also the more that I write, the more that I remember that we've done. I'm sure there's probably even more that I've forgotten and will write about later! I'm glad we're doing so well so far!

Pre-K is not a time where we have to worry about intense curriculum but it is nice to know that there are so many hands-on things that really provide good learning opportunities. My goal is for him to be at least a grade ahead of where he's at, if not more than that. It seems like a lot of homeschoolers are ahead of the game like that and he is already doing very well.

I don't want to push him or have him feel pressured, if he needs extra work and is behind in an area then I want to work with him on that as needed. That's one of the great things about homeschooling, being able to work with the child where they are at and not forcing them to work at the same pace as everyone else.

Computer Issues

I keep saying that I'm going to start getting this blog active and different things keep arising to make that difficult!

My computer died about a month ago and I've had limited computer access since. I've been able to get it working for short periods of time here and there (I was able to get most everything off of it since I didn't have a backup!) but mostly I am relying on other people's computers.

Which can prove difficult when I am running two blogs and a home business or two. I've been focusing on the home businesses and letting the kids just enjoy the summertime. We've done some minimal learning as my older son does love to learn and he has more and more interest in learning to read! I'm pretty sure that by the time he gets to the K level he will be reading basic words.

We're finally getting nice weather, it's been rainy 90% of the time in June and July. We may not end up starting curriculum until October because of the late summer.

But truly I will attempt to make this blog a great place! :)

Our Life This Week

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

Since I have not been keeping up with this blog very much at all, participating in something like this is the perfect thing to get me back into the swing of things! :)

In my life this week...
My infant:
-Started sitting up on his own
-Finally has his first tooth poking through
-Showed an understanding for the word 'no'

My preschooler:
-Attempted to ride his bike without training wheels
-Took the training wheels off himself
-Declared that he will be the best pro skateboarder someday

My dad went to the hospital for emergency surgery. :(

In our homeschool this week…
We took it pretty easy, there was a lot going on and we mostly just played. We sat down with flashcards one day. He likes to play with the learning games on my ipod and he was using his Tag books for a couple of days.

Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share…
Get involved with others, don't go at it alone!

I am inspired by…

The sun being out, it really gives energy and inspiration to get a lot done!

My favorite thing this week was…
Watching my kids play together and adore each other!

Things I’m working on…
Creating a schedule that works for our family.

I’m reading…
A lot of books on kindle!

I’m cooking…
Completely non-milk

I’m grateful for…
My family
The weather
Friends who understand
The ability to work
My home

I’m praying for…
My dad's recovery

A photo, video, link, or quote to share…
How to Unlock Your Full Potential

Nursing Cover Winner!

I'm a few days late with this announcement as I have had internet connection issues.

In my last post I reviewed the amazing Baby Bond nursing cover and had a giveaway!

I used random.org to get he number 7 (lucky number 7!) and the person who left the 7th comment and wins the nursing cover is....





Adriel from The Mommyhood Memos!

Congratulations!! Enjoy your new nursing cover!

Baby Bond Nursing Cover Review & Giveaway


I am very excited to be able to review (and give away one to a reader!) the Baby Bond nursing cover! What makes this cover unique is that it covers mom but not the baby. It is practically revolutionary! I loved the concept from the moment that I heard about it!

If your baby is anything like either of mine, they do not enjoy being covered up! This solves that problem because most covers end up getting kicked, pulled, twisted, etc. and are hard to keep on. Which is why I have rarely used my covers.

I found this very easy to use (with some practice at the beginning) and I love that it fits easily into the diaper bag to go anywhere! It's so nice that I don't have to cover my baby with it, he loves to be free and not covered in a blanket while eating. Not that I blame him! I wouldn't want to be covered up while eating, either!

I am very excited to be able to offer this as a giveaway to one of my readers! (Details below.) Or if you don't want to wait you can go directly to their website and order one. Use the code ADVENTURE to save 25%. It also makes a fantastic gift!!

But first let me share a little more about the cover itself. The covers come in three styles, click the images below to learn more about each style:

I chose the Couture because of it's versatility, being able to use it on top or over the stomach. I did need to watch a quick video to figure out how to put it on. There are also instructions on the tag so that if you need a quick refresher it's right on the cover. You can see for yourself how easy it is to put on: instructional videos

I didn't try either of the two other styles, but it looks like those are easier to put on if you don't want to deal with learning how to put it on. (I use a moby wrap for carrying the baby and this nursing cover is much simpler than that!)

Giveaway Details
*The giveaway will last from Friday June 10th to Friday June 24th.
*Open world wide!!
*I will announce the winner in a new post on June 24th. 
*Leave your email if you want to be emailed if you win.
*Leave one comment on this post for each entry that you complete.
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I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com created by WebBizIdeas.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. Tomoson Product review & giveaway Disclosure.

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There's an App for that

My 4 year old has a new favorite 'toy' - my ipod touch.

I have downloaded a bunch of preschool and pre-k apps for him to play. He loves them and he's learning a lot! I do prefer to keep the screen time to a minimum, especially during these warmer months.

One thing that I like to do is to reward good behavior with ipod time, so it's a double benefit. It's reinforcing good behavior and he's learning while he plays the games.

The great thing is that there are so many free apps for the kids and the ones that do cost money are typically $0.99-$1.99. A great gift idea is an ipod gift card. I'm really going to have to remember that for his birthday because the last thing that he needs is more toys...

Sensory Tables!

I have been going over all of my games, books, workbooks, flashcards, and wide array of learning supplies deciding on the focus of the summer. (If you recall, we took most of the school year off so we'll be working on Pre-K through the Summer.)

I also started going through some of my favorite preschool through kindergarten resources and was thrilled to discover that my favorite site has added a bunch of great resources and ideas!

I am so excited about the new Sensory Table list! There are so many different ideas for sensory tables, easily enough to last through the summer! You have got to check this out if you have kindergartners and younger! Sensory Tables

I hardly know where to start, but I do know that we are going to have some serious fun!

Bullying: Free Kindle Book

I came across a free kindle book called Bullying by Dr. Sabina Dosani. I had heard about her book awhile back when I was reading an article on the topic of bullying and she was someone who was quoted in the article.

The book is normally $19.78 so if you have any interest in it at all go grab it while it's still free!

It is a book written both to the parents of bullied children and the children themselves. In each chapter she gives a different idea or tool on how to handle the bully.

I don't know if any of the techniques work but they sound interesting and at least give some hope to the many kids who deal with bullies in the schools every day.

I remember dealing with bullies in school and it would have been nice to have a book like this as a reference to learn ideas on how to deal with them. I think that what is even worse for those kids is the ones who feel like they have nobody to turn to, that they don't have any adults in their life that will listen to them. I hope that kids can find this book in their school library or even on amazon.

Information is so readily available these days, I wish I would have had as much information when I was in school. The internet was really new when I was in high school, nothing like it is today sixteen years after graduating. (Has it really been that long?)

Go grab that book, I'd love to hear what you think!

Back in Business!

My baby is now 6 months and we have slowly been incorporating more and more homeschooling for big brother. Even though the Summer is upon us we are beginning our school year.

The good news is that big brother hasn't lost much of what he learned before our long break. I had him watching educational videos as much as possible when he wanted TV and I played educational games with him a much as I could.

I've brought back "circle" time: stories, songs, flash cards, etc. He doesn't enjoy it as much as he did before, he is really excited about his "workbook" that I picked up at the dollar store! I'm glad he likes it so much because we are having serious printer issues so I can't print off anything.

Also I will be back to blogging more. I look forward to catching up with all of my homeschool friends. Who are probably all getting ready for your breaks!! :)