Friday, September 19, 2014

Fall Homeschool Schedule

School has been "going" for a month now at our house.  This year we have a 2nd grader, a Kindergartener, a preschooler, and the baby.  So far, so good, though we're still getting into the swing of how things will work this year with three of them doing school.  I can't even begin to think about what life with 4 elementary aged children will be like in a few years!

Here's what our weekday schedule looks like this fall:

*We generally do school in the mornings, M-F.  This time is flexible, and depending on what we're learning, either all the kids will do school at the same time, or they'll all take turns-one after the other.   

*We use the morning for language arts and math.  We typically do sciences, social studies, history, etc. in the afternoon or whenever we're in the mood for it :)

*We try to use each "life" experience to our advantage, i.e. grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants, neighborhood walks, etc.  There's something to be learned from everything!

*On TUESDAYS, the kids come with me to one of my AM Kindermusik classes.  They love music and dancing, and this class is a family style class (0-7 year olds), so they fit right in!

*On WEDNESDAYS, the girls have soccer practice.  This is our only evening devoted to sports.  Generally, evenings are our family time, so we try to not to do much.  Ben coaches Zoe's team.

*On THURSDAYS, we have our co-op classes.  This fall, Ellie is taking an Art class and Ballet; Zoe is taking Spanish and Ballet; Aaron is taking preschool; Levi parties in the nursery with the other babies.  This gives them great classes, and time with other kids their own ages, too.

*On FRIDAYS, the big three take swim lessons.  It has taken me MONTHS to find private swim lessons for the three of them that could actually fit in my budget, and I'm SO happy to finally have found someone (group instruction didn't go so well this summer).  

We also try to do one park play date each week with some friends from another homeschool co-op.

At this point, we are loving the new school year.  We are learning lots of new things, trying lots of new activities, and meeting lots of new friends.  

How is the new school year going for you?  What are your favorite parts?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Fall Bucket List

Fall is my favorite season.  I love the colors, the smells, the crispness in the air.  This year, we made a Fall Bucket List with the kiddos.  We had to ban pumpkin related baking on the list because we had a ridiculous amount of pumpkin things that we bake every year (we've already brought a big batch of pumpkin scones to Ben's work).  But other than those items, we created a pretty fun bucket list.  We downloaded some cute fall fonts, made a "bucket", and the kids glued their list to the bucket.  It's displayed on our fireplace, and we highlight the things we've done.

What's on this years list?

*A trip to Apple Hill 
*Ride in a hot air balloon (did this at the soccer fields!)
*Attend the hot air balloon races (did this, too!)
*Attend the Reno Championship Air Races  (did this-for FREE-with our homeschool group)
*Take a trip to the Sacramento Zoo (I'm thinking I may need to move this to the spring, plus I need to find a Groupon deal for tickets)
*Bake a pumpkin, roast pumpkin seeds, carve or paint a pumpkin
*Visit Callahan park (one of my faves!) to collect leaves
*Ferrari Farms Pumpkin Patch (this one is FREE and simple, but fun)
*Corley Ranch Pumpkin Patch (I may change this to the Andelin Farm since Corley didn't plant the corn field due to the drought)

Along the lines of pumpkin:
*Pumpkin Spice Lattes (x1 every day all fall)
*Pumpkin Scones (done!)
*Pumpkin Chocolate Chip muffins
*Pumpkin Pancakes
*Pumpkin Granola
*Pumpkin puree (enough to freeze for later months)

Here's our "little" family at the Balloon Races ^^^

My kiddos at the Air Races ^^^

Levi LOVED watching the planes fly ^^^

My kids and their friends watching the soccer ball balloon (which they rode in) inflate at the soccer fields ^^^

Fall is so fun.  And since we homeschool, we can do things during the week, too (like the air races on a Friday, or the balloon ride on a Thursday)!  It's the best!

What's on your bucket list this fall?  What fun things do you have planned?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Shaving Cream Writing Part 2

I've posted before about shaving cream writing inside a bag (see HERE), which is a great option for those of you who don't like messes or for when it's cold and you don't feel comfortable with shaving cream all over (under, around, etc.) your table.  But since the weather is still nice in my neck of the woods, and school is back in full swing, we went outside this week to practice our spelling words with shaving cream!

Because our patio table has slatted wood, we used trays to give the kids their own smooth space.  You can find cheap shaving cream at Walmart for $.98.  My 2nd grader practiced writing her spelling words, my kindergartener practiced writing her blends (ba, be, bi, bo, bu, etc.) and my preschooler practiced his name.  

Then, they went to town giving themselves mustaches and beards and drawing pictures in the cream.  It's such a fun way to practice spelling!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Studying the Continents in Our Homeschool

We are continuing with homeschooling this year, after deciding that we for sure, really did enjoy it last year (it took a while to get to that point).  We began school in mid August, and are adjusting back into the swing of things.  We have a 2nd grader, a kindergartener, and a preschooler this year (as well as the baby!).

This school year, we have joined two home school co ops.  I've been involved with the ladies from one throughout the summer, visiting different parks together and hanging out while our kids play, but I'm joining a second one this fall in which my kids get to take art, Spanish, and ballet classes.  We are continuing to use A Beka curriculum for our language and arithmetic, and are pretty eclectic with the rest of the subjects.  We joined a post card swap with 49 other homeschool families (one from each state in the US), and will be studying different states as our postcards arrive in the mail.  We will also be doing a study on the continents, both with one of our co-ops, and on our own.  We are generally pretty frugal, and so we try to keep our school expenses at a minimum.

In regards to continents, here are a couple new items we've bought (or want to buy) and will be using in our homeschool this year:

I love this continent ice cube tray, and I think my kids will think it is so cool!  I suppose you could also use it to create crayon shapes (out of old, broken crayons), or even use cant melts to make little continent shaped candies!  The best part is that it's only $3.72 shipped from Amazon!

I bought this world map from Amazon, as well, and my kids think it's so cool.  While we have small maps or atlas books, they love how big this one is, and they love finding new places on the map.  It is paper, so I'll need to buy some clear contact paper to protect it, but for about $5, it was totally worth it!

I love this Melissa & Doug floor puzzle!  It's such a fun and simple way for little ones to learn about Earth and the continents.  Plus, ALL my kids love puzzles!

I'm so excited for another school year with my kiddos!  I love seeing them grow and learn.  Already, my 5 year old is starting to read, which is particularly exciting because she had zero interest in reading up until a month or so ago.  What things are you most excited about for this school year?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Building a Household "Important Papers" Binder

Ahhh!  After about two weeks of a totally broken computer, our new computer arrived in the mail yesterday!  Woo hoo!  

Oh, I have so much to blog about, too.  I'll start with this post of mine that ran on the Reno Moms Blog last week....

"If there were ever an emergency near or in your home, such as a fire or natural disaster, what would you grab?  After getting my family out safely, I would grab things like my pets, my wedding album, and some clothing/toothbrushes/etc.  But then there are all these little things, like social security cards, birth certificates, and insurance policies that would be great to grab, too.  Our family decided that we needed to keep all these items in a single place for such instances, and so we decided to create an Important Papers Binder.  It’s super simple to create, and it not only keeps us organized on a daily basis, but in case we ever had an emergency, we can easily grab all these important things at once..."

To read the rest of the post, including supplies to help build your own binder, what should go in your binder, etc. head to the Reno Moms Blog!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Zoe's 5th Frozen Birthday Party

Our second born, Zoe, turned 5 this month.  FIVE!  How we got to this point so quickly, I'll never know.  Yet here we are, with a beautiful, spunky, independent little girl.  Zoe, like every little girl, loves the movie Frozen.  How could you not?  It's simply amazing.  Her birthday party was OBVIOUSLY a Frozen theme.

We made a "Love is an open door!" sign to hang on our screen door using scrapbook paper from Michael's.

For party favors and party fun, we made these snowflake wands.  Thank goodness for Hobby Lobby stocking a Christmas department in the middle of summer!  We just used blue snowflake ornaments, ribbons, and small wooden dowels to make these (and a hot glue gun to attach the pieces).

We bought shiny white and purple gum balls, and light blue sixlets in the cake decorating section of Walmart and Hobby Lobby.  They went inside mason jars (of course-because they're awesome), and then we added some ribbon around the top.  We also bought blue and white chevron striped straws.  

In honor of Olaf hoping to enjoy summer, we put blue jell-o into clear cups and topped them with umbrellas (Dollar Store).

For food, we had sandwiches.  The little tag next to them reads, "we finish each other's sandwiches."

"Olaf's Noses" and ranch for healthy snack points.

Purple & blue forks/spoons (Walmart) and dipped pretzels in white & blue candy melts.  My pretzel-hating husband thinks these are good.  I'd have to agree, but I also love pretzels.  Anyway, I always do a pretzel dipped in candy melts at our kids parties, and they are always GONE by the end.  So good.

Instead of a cake, we had a "frozen ice cream" bar.  We actually already had all the sprinkles in our cabinet, but we bought jelly beans and gummy worms, as well as chocolate and caramel syrup.  Zoe got to pick out two ice creams at the store.  This was so fun.  I had a couple grown-ups help me with an assembly line to serve the kiddos.

Do you want to build a snowman???  These kids did!  We used toilet paper and cut out black circles and orange triangles.  They teamed up, wrapped a partner, and then stuck their buttons and nose on top!

^^^The birthday girl!  

In total, I spent $117 on this party, which is a little over my target party budget of $100.  But, I have tons of the wands left over that I can perhaps sell online or on etsy, lots of scrapbook paper left over for other projects, some ice cream and most of the syrups left over that will go to my belly, gum balls that I've been using for bribing my kids all week long, and of course the sprinkles are mostly left over too.  

Most importantly, Zoe had fun and enjoyed herself!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Parachute Play Without a Parachute

This week my sister and law and nephews joined me for one of my Kindermusik classes that I taught.  Half way through the class, we were doing an activity that utilizes a parachute and some balls, which, of course, is every child's favorite!  Really, if you've never experienced young children giggling with a parachute, you have been seriously missing out.  Anyway, I don't actually own a parachute, so I use a huge King size flat sheet. 

I got out my sheet for the activity when my sister in law, Jenny, was suddenly so excited.  "What a great idea to use a sheet!  You should totally blog this!"  And so, because I've been seriously lacking in the blogging department lately (my apologies), I said, "of course I should!"  Thus, here we are now. Parachutes can be pricey, and so I highly recommend pulling out a bed sheet to be used as a parachute.

Parachutes are great.  They are fun and versatile.  Here are a few ideas to try when playing with your parachute AKA large bed sheet:

*Baby, momma, and daddy waves...use your hands to shake the sheet to make small, medium, and large sized waves.
*Squat & those gross motor skills as you bring the sheet all the way to the ground in a squat, and then all the way up high in the sky on your tippy toes.
*Directional...pull the sheet out flat and tight as everyone walks to the left, right, center, and back out again.
*Rocket balls in the middle of your sheet and squat down to the ground.  Count backwards-10, 9, 8...blastoff!  Everyone lift the sheet up high on "blastoff" to send your balls high into the sky.
*Bouncing balls...make baby waves, or monster waves with balls in the middle.  How long can you keep the balls on the sheet without them falling off?
*Under the sheet...let a few people under the sheet at a time to enjoy watching the sheet rise and fall.
*Pop the bubbles...everyone sits on the ground and one person sits in the middle of the sheet.  The people around the edges shake the sheet while the person in the middle crawls around and tries to "pop" the bubbles.

Have you ever played with a parachute before?  What games do you like to play with a parachute? 


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