Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Homeschooling Part 1: Goals and Preschool

     In the past this blog was about design and DIY's and projects and headbands. I quit blogging shortly after I had Luca, my third child,  because it wasn't how I wanted to spend my free time.  And I didn't want to constantly be thinking about blogging or my business when the most important thing for me was to focus on my little guys. I know this time is fleeting and I didn't want to have regrets. (Instead I painted, sewed, and read books... without feeling like I had to BLOG about it!)

    My kids are still small, but I am now homeschooling and have had so many questions over the past 2 years that I figured a few blog posts would be the best place to refer people to for answers! Who knows, maybe I'll want to blog again. I am passionate about homeschooling and love helping others that want to try it out so I hope these posts help someone.

First off: How we started.

I didn't know exactly how I wanted to homeschool when I started my oldest daughter in pre-k 4. My main thoughts and goals for homeschooling my children then and now have been as follows:

I want my children to LOVE learning always and forever.

 

I want my children to have close relationships with one another and with my husband and I.

I want my children to be challenged and to be able to explore their interests and ideas to the fullest, and I wanted to show them how.

 

I want my children to be confident, well-adjusted, fun, and a little nerdy. 

 

I want them to love books.

 

Is that so much to ask? I know, I know, you can't ensure any of those things in life for other people. But I will know I tried my hardest to make it happen at the end of all this! And I have not ruled out ever sending my kids to school. I don't think schools are evil or that homeschooling is the only solution. I think it is a great solution for my kids at this time in our lives, and I'd love for it to continue until they go to college.

For Pre-k I bought a few things to get started.
 Get Ready for the Code (we breezed through books A,B, and C because she already knew the sounds of the alphabet) and then started with Explode the Code Book 1

I think these are great because they have the kids do lots of different visual exercises to see if they know the sounds of the letters. They also practice handwriting. With my second daughter we have also been loving this book for preschool. I made my own set of the shapes for making letters (Handwriting Without Tears). We also practiced letter and number writing on chalk and slate boards, and with our fingers in sugar and yogurt.

For math and numbers I used some books my mom passed onto me (she homeschooled my youngest brother who is 18 years younger than me for a few years). We mostly did math with her dolls and duplos though. Oh and food. She loved counting and adding food (and so does her sister currently).

Above you can see from my instagram feed, a photo of some things we did with duplos. She graphed objects around the house, she did fractions, and solved equations. On the right is a sample of how I planned a week of school (sometimes-- I wasn't always this organized last year). I wanted preschool to be about what she was interested in. So I would ask her what she wanted to learn about that week (often we got ideas after reading or watching something) and we'd go to the library and check out lots of books on the subject. Then I'd come up with little projects to do as well and occasionally find a documentary. It was fun and laid back. My 2.5 year old would join us when she felt like it. My baby slept (we did "school" during his nap). Off the top of my head here are a few subjects we explored: Killer whales, dolphins, deep sea creatures, sea slugs, animal classification, microscopes, factories, food groups/nutrition, the human body, fish, bats, foxes (after loving the song "what does the fox say" we checked out and read every.single.book. on foxes from the library system in our county), weather, costa rica, rocks, and arctic animals. I learned so much myself! One of the perks of homeschooling is relearning things you'd long since forgotten, or perhaps never knew.



(ABOVE PHOTOS FROM PRE-K): We got memberships to museums and living history places. We studied the human body and made our own. We learned math and engineering concepts by building large structures with these blocks. We studied and then dissected fish (very cheap from a fish market!). I gave her the challenge of making a drawing solely out of squares, rectangles, triangles and circles.

For art, I made sure I had good supplies (as in quality paper and paints) for them to use. I'd usually just put out the supplies and collage materials (pom-poms, sequins, feathers, popcicle sticks) and let them have at it. I really dislike teacher-led art projects with a specified result in mind. Perhaps that's good for teaching something else, but not creativity. This year I took a different approach and put out the supplies so that they can be used at any time (except tempera paints and other messier things that I need to monitor). We always have out tapes, glues, collage materials, pipe cleaners, watercolors and brushes, crayons, washable markers, colored pencils, pom-poms, and a giant roll of white butcher paper ($10-15 at costco or sams).


Perler Beads are great for practicing fine motor skills! And they take lots of patience.

We sometimes worked out of this awesome preschool daily notebook from Confessions of a Homeschooler.  This year I have A kindergartener and a 3 1/2 year old (and 2 year old) who wants to do school when big sister does it. I use that notebook but I also added in pages from various pre-k workbooks I owned. She loves "doing her school" notebook. We also use the Handwriting Without Tears book I mentioned above. Next year I will use the "Get Ready for the Code" with her since she is still learning the alphabet and numbers more thoroughly this year.

Here is my homeschool: preschool board where I pin lots of ideas to use for this age! Ive used many already.

Books to inspire your teaching:
The Well-trained mind- I don't follow this exactly but liked alot of her ideas and she makes great school-age curriculum.
Teaching in Your Tiara - great for people who are scared of homeschooling and don't know where to start!

Great Homeschooling blogs:
Creative Homeschool- lots of freebies!!
Confessions of a Homeschooler - freebies, posts about how she homeschools, and curriculum she's written that you can print out in the comfort of your home!
Wildflower Ramblings- she's also a teacher turned homeschooler (there's lots of us out there!) who does a lot of montessori and Reggio-inspired activities.
No Time for Flashcards- great source for preschool ideas
Mom at Home- montessori ideas
Mud Hut Momma- I think she has great ideas out there in the Bush of Africa!
Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers- I mean the name says it all. Love this blog.
 There are a MILLION-and ONE homeschool and teacher blogs out there you could read, but those should get your started!
 (Also everyone always says, "oh but homeschooling.... your child wont get socialized!" It makes me want to laugh and say rude things, but I usually hold my breath. Oh darn, so my kids wont learn about condoms and the "f" word in kindergarten? They won't have boys telling them they want to have sex with them and pinching their butts in fourth grade? They won't have all the girls in their class leave them out intentionally so their self-esteem lowers gradually over the years? They won't have a teacher squash their creativity and tell them people don't have purple hair? DARN! (Those are true stories of people I know and love.) They will have chances to socialize. At church, at homeschool playgroups and outings, in the myriad classes offered to homeschoolers everywhere, and with neighbors. I mean come on. Also, kids usually only turn out as weird as their parents. And I hope mine are as nice and weird as me!

If you have more questions about things I wrote in this post please leave it in the comments as it will help me in writing more posts.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Clip-on bow-tie for GIRLS (or boys)!!


I really should have a better "Introducing baby Luca!" photo for you all, but if you really care about seeing my adorable, now 2 month old baby boy who weighs THIRTEEN POUNDS, we are probably already friends on instagram. If you follow me on there then you already know how super cute and pudgy he is, how he looks just like my husband, and how the reason I haven't blogged in 2 months is due to trying to cope with 3 kids 3 and under, and a week long stay in the hospital that lead to 2 more weeks of double vision. <----not at="" computer....="" for="" good="" p="" staring="" the="">
I am now getting into the swing of things and am better adjusted to this crazy crazy life of mine. It is NO JOKE taking care of three baby/toddlers! Just taking them somewhere is a workout. Getting three kids buckled, un-buckled, into strollers etc is killing me. I don't like having to go too many places because I'm sweaty and worn out! But one day they will all be able to walk themselves, unbuckle themselves, and get themselves situated in the car and life will be a tad easier in that department. For now I am just trying to focus on how cute they all are (when they aren't screaming at each other or coloring on the walls of course). I love being a mother, more than I ever imagined (I always thought I didn't want kids--HA!), but its also even harder than I imagined. Luckily I have a really great, helpful partner/husband who gives me lots of rest on the weekends. Only 3 more months left til that's over and he starts his Ob-Gyn residency! ahhh!

Okay, so on to the subject for today: BOW-TIES! Yes, tutorials are all over the internet, and in fact one of my most popular posts of all time on pinterest, is the Big Bow Tutorial. Which you can use to make the bow-tie itself. This tutorial is for making it work on girls, women, and baby boys with crew neck instead of collared shirts.
Materials needed:
a bow, large or small, fabric, leather, felt, crochet/knitted, whatever you want!
2 snap clips as shown below
hot glue/gun

I love bows and bow-ties, but the traditional way to make one has a band around the neck, or a clip that goes sideways, and both require a collared shirt to be worn. I originally came up with this solution when a friend of mine asked me to make some felt bow-ties for her baby who mostly wore onesies, but I figured out it works for adults as well.
 1. hot glue the two clips on to the bow, at the width apart that works for the wear-er/ bow. Okay, now you are finished.
Attach to yourself, your baby, your son or daughter! I love love love mine, and made 3 at once.
 And if you happen to own one of THESE adorable collars, then you can attach it for another look! Eek! (note: she didn't make the collar shown above, hers are higher quality (I own quite a few), this was an attempt at making a rectangle that I somehow accidentally made into a curved rectangle, much like a collar!!)

Friday, December 21, 2012

Merry Christmas Everyone! (early)

Just in case I go into labor before Christmas (which there is a very high probability of), I thought I would post my virtual Christmas card for everyone. I hope you all have  a wonderful holiday (or HAD one if you celebrated Hanukkah)!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

projects only seen on my instagram! (some of what I've been making this month)

 a pom-pom garland I finally strung and hung in my girls' new shared room! (I made the pom-poms almost a year ago)
 and the felted ball garland I strung after buying the balls a year ago to make a wreath (but discovered what I had bought would only have filled a 1/4 of a wreath form).
 a Gold posterboard triangle bunting/garland for my tree!
 died (food coloring) and glittered (spray adhesive+glitter) pasta garland (I re-strung onto twine and tied each pasta bow on, rather than gluing which didn't work well).
 Made stockings for my family (and made 3 extra just.in.case.) out of a felted wool blanket, antique doily trim, and turkish (antique) wool felt coasters! All things my mom had so nicely passed on to me as she cleaned and organized all her vintage finds.
  spray-painted the front of Amélie's new $2.50 shoes (on sale) from H&M.
And bleached a bunch of bottlebrush trees that I bought  last year for this very purpose!

 The last trimester of pregnancy (plus not having to do a fab.com sale this year) really helped me kick my butt in gear! And this is only maybe 40% of what I have actually made and done. I don't like to be TOO obnoxious on instagram or this blog so I try to leave some of it out... or spread it out:)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

New Sponsor: REEVE WRITES!

I am thrilled to tell you all about my new sponsor Reeve Coobs of the blog "Reeve Writes." I often look at decorating and crafting blogs, but until now hadn't wandered onto the blogs of any musicians. I love Reeve's perspectives on things, not as a just a DIY'er (though she does have some cool DIY's as seen below), but as a song writer and singer.  And her music? Her voice? Amazing.

In Reeve's words: I'm a singer-songwriter living in Davidson, NC. I'm in the process of finishing up my first full-length studio album, YAY! I love sad songs, dissonant harmony, drums that make you move, and songs with an element of surprise. You can read more about her fun, quirky personality here. I personally can't wait to here her album when it is finished. Her voice, both literal and written are the kind I like to listen to when I paint, craft, or do other creative things. Gorgeous.

 Music to buy and sample here
tutorial found here.
So check this girl out! You will love her too, I am sure!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Magnetic DIY Nativity Advent calendar

I made this advent calendar the last week of November, and somehow I didn't get around to posting about it until a week before Christmas. Sorry peeps. That is just the lame kind of blogger I am! My family and real life take priority over this little space, and so I make and do a million projects that never get posted on here! I guess you could always pin this one for next year:)

MATERIALS NEEDED:
Metal serving tray, or the like (I used a vintage t.v. dinner tray!) that magnets will stick to.
Magnetic "Canvas" (available where you find the magnets at Michaels or JoAnn's)
Acrylic paint/brushes
kitchen scissors (or scissors you don't mind cutting the thin magnet canvas with)
Felt, or fabric to make a pouch for storing the pieces (I used felt of course)


PIECES TO PAINT:
Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, hay for the manger, the manger,  mouse (cow, or other barn animal), donkey, 3 wisemen, 3 gifts, large Shepard, small Shepard, 2 sheep, 3 angels, 1 large star, 2 small stars, the stable logs (there are 4 of them-used all for one day of the advent)

These are the pieces I chose to paint so that we would have enough to last 24 days. You can do it differently, those are just my suggestions. I had a hard time figuring out 24 different things to put up there that would all fit on my tray!!
 I first created a basic envelope with velcro closure to store the pieces.

2. I then painted directly onto the magnet canvas little cartoonish figures. I wanted this to be a fast and easy project so I didn't stress about how they looked, just on having different colors, and having them be small enough to fit the tray. Make this simple. Paint circles for their heads, and a solid shape of color for their bodies. It doesn't have to be a work of art!

3. Once they were all very dry (I let them dry over night), I cut them out with my kitchen shears.

 4. I then took an paint marker and marked them all on the front with their number for the day they should be put up.... before realizing I could've just done it on the back.... duh
You are finished! My daughters have been so excited to take a magnet out of the pouch each day and put it up on the board. It was so simple and easy to make this nativity advent calendar and I am so glad I did. I hope it gets entered into their memories of childhood Christmases as we do it year after year:)

Friday, December 7, 2012

Easy DIY kids ornament!

 We are doing a holiday activity every day as one of our advent "calendars" this year, which has been really fun! It has helped me get in the spirit of Christmas, and since my oldest is 3 1/2 this year she is really into everything we do. One of the first cards she pulled out said to "Make an ornament for the tree."  And I came up with this fun idea when we were at the Christmas tree lot!

Materials needed:
free slice of christmas tree trunk (you can go to a lot and ask for whatever they have. We didn't even buy a tree, just gathered loose branches and this trunk disc!)

paint, glue, glitter, spray paint (whatever materials you have on hand)

twine/yarn/string and hot glue (or drill a hole)

1. I spray-painted the disc gold on both sides
2. Olivia (3 yrs) painted it with her tempera paints
3. She added drops of elmer's glue and then sprinkled a few colors of glitter on top. We left it to dry over night.
 4. I cut twine and hot glued it to the back, sandwiched with a piece of felt. 

Easy! They make an ornament that is gorgeous and so simple! I like those kind of projects:)!!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

DIY: Holiday Garlands and Tassels!

Remember when we made that awesomely versatile shirt? Well, thanks to My Own Fringemaker I have been busy making more awesome things out of yarn for the holiday season. I seriously love this contraption, as it allows me to make fringe, tassels, pom-poms, and so much more out of yarn and ribbons you already have around the house. If you want some ideas for using fringe and such check out my pinterest board here.

For my first holiday decoration idea, I tied on my yarn and wrapped at about 1 inch apart (I did 2 at once on the fringemaker). The Fringemaker allows you to just hold the yarn ball, and then you twist the crank really fast and it winds it all on there in seconds! I also made several pom-poms at once on it and then put the two together to make a garland you could hang on your wall or Christmas tree.

I also made a large tassel out of my twisted strands and pom-poms (I really really love pom-poms, and not just cause they are trendy, but I always have! I even made a pom-pom scarf my freshman year of college--13 yrs ago).
Here is my tassel hanging proudly with my reindeer garland and wood flag bunting (made from balsa wood and twine). I love it!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Giveaway winner!!

Sorry to announce this so late today, but the winner of the Freckled Purl collar is .........comment #27!  From Mari who said,

"All the collars are wonderful!! Trying to pick only one is like going to Dylan's Candy Bar store and choosing one type of candy; impossible. I like them all!! If only allowed to select one, I pick the white Peter Pan collar. 
Wonderful talent and giveaway, thank you!"

mari please contact me with your information and I will forward it to heather so she can begin your collar! 
Don't forget everyone, you can still get free shipping if you use The code FREESHIP2012 at checkout! She can make all the collars you see onmy blog in adult of child. Make a great gift or photo prop!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Freckled Purl: the only accessory you'll need this winter! (plus a GIVEAWAY!!)!!!)



Heather of the Freckled Purl is a friend of mine, and when I discovered her talent for making adorable crocheted collars, I commissioned 7 for myself and family members. If you are friends with me on Instagram (I'm still private so you have to request) you know how obsessed I am with them! And if you follow my blog, then you know how much I love a collar to make a solid shirt or dress have a little more character.

Well, I am here to tell you some good news. We are giving away one of her collars this week!! You can win one to give as a gift or keep for yourself this holiday season.
I actually own 4 of the collars you see pictured above:)  If you go to The Freckled Purl you won't see all the colors pictured, but you can have any size (adult or child) or style (scalloped or peter pan) done in any of the colors she has shown here (yarn color options also indicated in the listings) 


You can use coupon code FREESHIP2012 at checkout to get free shipping right now, just because you read my blog!
And look how cute they are on little girls! ahh!

Here are the ways you can get a chance to win one of these cute collars.  Remember, each needs to be left in a separate comment!

1. leave a comment about what you think of her collars/ and or a link to your favorite one
2. like The Freckled Purl on Facebook (then leave a comment saying so here)
3. Post about this giveaway on your Facebook/ twitter/ and/or instagram! (and give me the link)

Good luck to all! The giveaway ends on Friday, November 30 at 11:59pm PST.