Our Homeschooling Room

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by Laura

Room reveals are SO fun and I wouldn’t want to keep our new Homeschooling Space from you especially since it’s so cute!  For the past month I’ve been laminating allthethings, have printed 300 pages of material, and the cherry on top was this week, Target had adorable wall pretties in their doggie tail-wag section.  So, thanks to a clock that didn’t get changed from day-light saving, I stayed up until 2:30 last night finishing the room.  

Deciding where to do our Homeschooling was an automatic move to the basement.  Our home didn’t have another space that would have functioned well.  Luckily, Eric and I completely tore apart the old basement with wood paneling, and a dropped ceiling. Then we built it up again and made it look so bright and beautiful down there.  Here’s what the main basement room looks like from the stairwell.  

My desk is on the left, our non-homeschool space at the back, and school stuff on the right.

My desk is on the left, our movie space at the back, and school stuff on the right.

There are two main Homeschooling walls in the basement.  We’ll start our Homeschool Day on the stair wall for our Circle Time!  Here’s that wall.  You can see the flag, a foam clock, a sheet with our address, emergency numbers on it to review, the pocket calendar, a white board, and a pocket calendar with the jobs for Circle Time.    

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During our Circle Time we’ll do the Pledge of Allegiance, and Pray.  Then we’ll do the Calendar with some fun Month and Day of the Week songs before we move to the Clock, the Weather, and then their Allowance that day for chores, (5 whopping cents).  

This wall also encapsulates our learning themes and the book of study for that week period.  Malachi will do Circle time and then his 10-15 minutes of structured school, (I did the same with Eva when she was 3).  So, he’s starting with Letter A, there’s shapes and colors integrated. His vocabulary this week is fruit with a big focus on the apple.  Eva’s learning this week revolves around the story Lentil.  We’ll fill in the Author and Illustrator, and some themes from Lentil that we’ll study are: Ohio, Music, Taste, Monuments, and Architecture.  Which leads us to the other Homeschooling wall.  

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Here we have the materials and schedule that we will use for the rest of our Homeschooling Day.  From left to right you can see a table and chairs, a white cabinet which holds my Teacher Supplies, cute crayon stickers, our daily schedule on a bulletin board, two Ikea Trofast System’s holding all sorts of things, the World Map, a fun banner, baskets with commonly needed items, a clipboard style holder for Eva’s passport and Story Disks, and then our book caddy with theme books for the week.  

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The white cupboard holds snacks, some supplies I don’t want the kids getting into, (my velcro stickies, tape…) Laminating Sheets, Page Protectors, Construction Paper, Extra binders, BOB books, and then containers with Math tools/Alphabet or Word tools.  The pieces of paper taped to the doors remind me what they can do during center time, and how snack will work each day so that I don’t have to think.  Thinking is too hard.  

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The Math bin and Letter/Word bin currently are ready to go for this week and this is what they look like: 

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The bulletin board got covered with yellow poster board and I found dry erase strips on that Target run I was talking about so I put up our daily schedule on that.  There’s some velcro pictures beside things that will eventually change.  The bottom of the bulletin board has an INTENSE Daily Schedule and Week One Schedule.  I’ll write about that in a Homeschooling Organization post, but you have to wait until I’ve tried out my current routine for a while.  

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that one you can’t read? That says 2:00 Centers. This is all subject to change people.

The bins hold a LOT of stuff that we’ll use on a daily basis.  Here are some of the art bins.  

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Every homeschooling room needs a place for the teacher to get her work done. I took the time to clean, organize, and beautify my desk.  I love how colorful the kids area is and I love that mine is a contrasting space, with little clutter and still right next to the kids.  On the top shelf are Eva and Malachi’s paper keepsake boxes.  They have one file for every year of their life.  The second shelf has my Home Base Binder, Bible Study materials, and office supplies by the clock.  The desk itself is very bare.  I have a box with notepads and pens in it under the computer and then the giant printer and that’s how I like it!  

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Today is our first day of School!  I’m sure you’ll see pictures on our Instagram or Facebook of our day.   Thanks for taking the tour with me!  

 

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Take a Hike!

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by Laura

This post is dedicated to my mama.  Who took us on SO many hikes, gave me a love for nature, and who WILL NOT SHUT UP ABOUT THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF CHILDREN AND INDEPENDENT NATURE PLAY.  Mom, I love you and I GET IT!  

On Father’s Day I arranged a hike for our family to go on knowing it is one of Eric’s favorite activities.  Not two minutes into our hike Eva turns around and says, “This is the best day ever, I wish we could just move out here and live”.  As I inhaled the clean oxygen, walked clear-minded with my family, and explored, I knew how she felt. 

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Father’s Day Hike complete with mulberry mouth.

When I was growing up, most weekends were spend fishing with Dad which meant my sisters and I had time to hike trails along the lakes.  We loved it. Stopping to look at little animals, making “squirrel houses” out of hundreds of tree branches and pine needles, it was the perfect amount of exploration our minds needed.  

This hike was shaded almost the entire way. Loved the sun coming through the trees.

This hike was shaded almost the entire way. Loved the sun coming through the trees.

 

Today, researchers are saying that because children are not getting outside, their wellness is being affected in every way.  Mentally, children who are outdoors are not just better problem solvers, better in school, and less likely to have ADHD, they are SIGNIFICANTLY more effective in those areas.  There are studies that also test the bodily wellness of children who are playing outside, unstructured, results say those children are healthier, less likely to get sick, and have better vision.

So, what might it look like to literally Take a Hike?  

Quick Google Search

When you decide you have an hour to spare, do a quick google search with your City Name and the word trail.  Example: Iowa City, trails.  This should lead you to a site that includes a map!  You can also try typing in your County parks, trails. Example: Clark County Nevada, trails.   Again, it is going to pull up the trails and usually a printable PDF for you.  

We found dozens of Mulberry trees on our hike and ate them all along the trail!

We found dozens of Mulberry trees on our hike and ate them all along the trail!

10 minute Packing 

Choose a time of day when it won’t be blazing hot, when energy levels are up, and not too close to a meal time.  We like to go first thing in the morning, or around 3:30 in the afternoon.  Hiking clothes and sturdy sandles, or socks and shoes for the kids.  Sunscreen, sunglasses, or sunhat and BUG SPRAY.  Water bottles, and snacks for after.  We love bringing our REAL camera with us.  You’ll be surprised that cell phone service doesn’t always come with your hike.  

The kids thought walking on the boards was SO fun.

The kids thought walking on the boards was SO fun.

I usually include a full change of clothes, including shoes and some baby wipes for the kids.  That way if they want to splash in water, get into mud…I can say yes, without too much car damage.  

Know your Trail

Get good directions to where you are going.  Know where the trail starts, (close to a campground, a road, sometimes the trail entrances are not well marked from the car’s view), and where the closest parking is to that trail head.

You will want to know if the trail is an “Out and Back” or a “Loop”.  An out and back trail means you are going to walk out and turn around and walk back the very same way you came in.  Loop, means you’ll make a giant circle and come out where you went in.  

You want to know how LONG it will be.  

We let Eva and Malachi lead almost the whole way!

We let Eva and Malachi lead almost the whole way!

We carried infant Eva on 5 mile hikes no problem.  Now our kids are 3 and 5.5 years old and their magic number is a 2 mile hike.  

If you are going to a County Park, there will be a Ranger Station you can get maps at, and most parking lots will have maps including trails on them.  

Before you start

Decide if you need to bring any water with you, then use the bathroom and put on the sunscreen and bug spray.  Be aware of any real protection you might need against poisonous plants, dangerous animals, cliffs, or water.  That way if your children run ahead you know if there’s going to be a ledge they will fall off of, or like us on Sunday, our children had to stay on the trail because there was Poison Ivy everywhere.  

Allow for lots of exploration

If you can, try not to be in a rush.  Let your kids stop and look at everything, let them look independently.  If there is mud on the trail, or a branch blocking the trail, or a bridge, let them discover how to get around it.  This is a wonderful opportunity for that independent play.  

Stopping for Mulberries gave the kids time to rest, and explore on their own.

And then we found black raspberries and I told the kids they could reach their hands into the thorny branches and pick their own because I am trying to be more “fun”.

Eric and I both kept saying how relaxing it was for us to be out there with them.  It was a 20 minute drive, but it felt like we got away from life!  

So! What are you doing this Saturday?  Get out there!  And don’t forget a doughnut or ice cream stop on the way home!  

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4th of July Neighborhood Parade

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by Angela

I love a good parade! And my favorite holiday is the 4th of July! So what a better mix! Add in the pieces of a hometown feel of homemade decorated bikes and families and flags in every yard on the block and patriotic music and watermelon and well you don’t even need fireworks. That my friends, is the making of the Cutest. Neighborhood. Parade! Like most ideas- they are not original. My dear friend Tammy in AZ introduced me to this idea and invited us to her neighborhood parade every year and well, when we moved and we had a park out front, I saw the perfect parade route and was ready to create my own parade!

If you want to add a Neighborhood Parade into your 4th of July festivities I highly recommend and have a few tips to share!

Start by inviting your neighbors and friends:

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Have a BBQ before hand and decorate your tables because you  really can’t have too many decorations on the 4th of July:4th of July Table Scape Collage

In the Morning on the 4th, take flags and place one in each house along the parade route and have kids come with their bikes decorated (be sure to have a prize for the winners!)

Pre Parade Route

 Line up at the starting point to parade around the block, have a truck or car if you want some patriotic music:

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Kids ride their bikes and parents walk along the parade route. Make your parade route as short or as long as you desire or your parade participants can ride:

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After the parade- play some old time games. You know like- relays with water and sponges, sack races, water balloons and kick ball:

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Add in a fun Photo Booth…

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Have some good old  Patriotic Fun!! It’s So Delightful I tell you!!!

 

 

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My Garden Update

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by Laura

Today I want to give you the garden tour! I’ll show you how it started and how it is progressing.    

Last year we had a little garden area in the back yard that was maybe 12x8ft.   My husband and I didn’t know what we were doing, but we had a ton of fun, learned a lot, and were ready to get a little more serious this year.  So for #garden2016 we Eric built garden beds, had a TRUCK load of dirt dumped on our driveway and wheelbarrowed it back to the beds for days.   Then it was time for the good stuff: the planting!  

Made the boxes, filled with dirt, built chicken wire trellis.

Made the boxes, filled with dirt, built chicken wire trellis.

This year we made two garden beds and next year add two more.  On the right bed, we planted spinach, green beans, peas, and onions all around.  On the left bed went the tomatoes, peppers, and asparagus.  

asparagus starts out SO weird.

asparagus starts out SO weird.

Asparagus is super creepy looking when you first plant it.  You have to bury it pretty deep, and then every time it pops up you keep covering it until the soil is flush with the top of the bed.  The asparagus will take another two years to develop and will get 5 ft. tall!  Here’s the little baby asparagus.  

baby asparagus

baby asparagus

Also in this bed we have the tomatoes and peppers.  I’ll let you take a look at those.  

grape tomatoes

grape tomatoes 

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Those green peppers are the size of my thumb nail right now.  Over in the other garden bed things started off slow like this:  

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We have already harvested most of the spinach, Eric took it every day in his lunch.  Now the right side looks like this: 

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The peas have been climbing and today started to flower.  One of my favorite things about peas is the way they curl around anything they can to stabilize.  Check out the peas.  

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Which brings us to the green beans.  They too, unfurled just this morning!  

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I think gardening brings such wonder to our lives.  Every single day we come out and see new things.  Our kids get SO excited when there are flowers, or they get taller, or the produce starts to come. Elsewhere in our yard we have rhubarb and blueberry bushes.  

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We have already made three rhubarb pies this year, and we might get a handful of blueberries, but they aren’t really supposed to produce much for another two years.  

I hope you guys liked seeing the progress in our yard!  It’s going to be HOT and HUMID here this weekend, so wherever you are, I hope you have ice tea, watermelon, and deodorant!  

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The Homeschooling 180

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by Laura

A few years ago Eric approached me with a question.  He said, “What would you think about homeschooling?”  Eva was a few years old, and I wondered what made him think of that subject. He told me that he had been reading some books in which the consensus was that parents have the most influence on their children up until age 8-9, so he was hopeful that we might have the maximum influence on Eva and wondered if I would consider homeschooling until 2nd grade.  

My throat lumped up, and I managed to say, “we can talk about that”, knowing full well that in my heart and mind I was pretty dead set against it.  

Homeschooling seemed daunting even though we had done some toddler school at home.

Homeschooling seemed daunting even though we had done some toddler school at home.

There were SO many reservations swirling around.  

  • How would I ever be self-disciplined enough to manage her schooling? I fight daily against lazy tendencies to be a good time manager, so that seemed like an extra war to fight each day. 
  • I wasn’t qualified to teach!  I haven’t spent years learning and practicing teaching styles and compiling resources.  
  • Would my relationship with Eva suffer?  Up to this point our similar personalities often sent both of us into extreme bad moods, and I worried that I would exasperate her so that she wouldn’t respect me.  
  • I wanted her to experience the JOY I had in the public school system.  I loved school dearly and remember vividly my early elementary years.  
  • Would her introverted-ness and anti-social tendencies only increase by staying at home?  I did not want an awkward child who couldn’t relate or interact with her peers.  
  • Selfishly too, I thought, “I’ve poured these years into her life, maybe when she goes to school I can work part time or pursue an advanced degree.”

So, those few years ago I brought these concerns to Eric, and we came to the conclusion that we wouldn’t home school!  Whew! Our decision had a great reason behind it. We gave Eva the name “Evangeline” because we wanted her to be a light in this world, and if we kept that light at home, not interacting with the world around her she might not ever feel comfortable talking to people who are different than her.  She might prefer to remain in the safety or her home/homeschool/Christian bubble.  Done and done. So, onward we went, had Malachi, and moved to the Midwest. 

Eva setting up her play dough balls for her letter of the day work.

Eva setting up her play dough balls for her letter of the day work.

Then we got the Kindergarten Registration packet in the mail.

I thought our Homeschooling conversation was done, and that we had come to a great conclusion about sending her to public school.  Eric was still wrestling though.  

So again, he asked me what I thought about it.  I came back with the same reasons, perhaps more emphatically because now it would be real, not just “what if.”  I spoke to my close friends and told them I couldn’t imagine homeschooling and really did not want to at all.  

I knew Eric and I were divided on this and I knew there were a few potential outcomes.  1.  One of us would do what they didn’t want.  2.  One of us would agree with the other. or 3. We would come to a compromise.  I was definitely holding out for Eric agreeing with me or some sort of compromise.  And to be honest, I was worried–worried that if this was what Eric really wanted, and I agreed to it, I would be bitter about homeschooling. I didn’t WANT to feel that way.

The first time Eva wrote an E to try to write her name. She was 2.

The first time Eva wrote an E to try to write her name. She was 2.

So I devised this plan.  I would get all the Kindergarten materials and homeschool Eva through the summer so that Eric could see that I was horrible at it, that it hurt our Mother-Daughter relationship, and that it wasn’t good for her.  Then, at the end of the summer, I would know what it was really like, Eric would see it, and then we could just keep going with her public Kindergarten plan without any loss.  I felt relieved that I would have given it a shot, and that Eric would see what a silly idea it was.  

It was time to go to Kindergarten Round-Up.  

I read the giant packet that said Eva would begin school at 8:30 and be done at 3:30.  7 hours.  She would be gone for 7 hours, not just one day a week, but every single day.  My heart started to sink thinking of being away from her for that long.  Even though we irritate each other, and stomp, I still couldn’t imagine missing 35 hours of her life every week.  

Now, this is me.  Not your story.  I feel this way. You don’t have to feel like a bad parent if you don’t feel this way, or disagree, or are counting down the days or years until your kids go to school.  My story, my family.  

Back to it.  So, to decrease her time away, we looked into half-day kindergarten.  Not really optional.  

I went to Kindergarten Round-Up and you guys, I walked out of that building knowing that I was going to Homeschool, at least for Kindergarten.  I felt physically sick during the entire Round-Up counting up the hours away from her, and then I remembered I could keep her, and I felt absolute peace about it.  That long list of reservations was not gone, and even our great reason for putting her in public school was not lost, but I was ready to change those from excuses and desires, to concerns and goals to legitimately face.  

You're a keeper Eva.

You’re a keeper Eva.

I can’t even believe the path that my mind and heart have taken this year with Homeschooling.  From being so callous about it, to now being excited.  So, remember when I laid out the options of ways Eric and I would move forward?  Well, I CHANGED!  

Our Homeschool room is almost ready, our curriculum is picked, I’ve interviewed some wonderful parents, and I can’t wait to show it to you. If you are curious, if you are intrigued, or if you might take the Homeschool journey, stop back and see what we’re doing at our home.  These are new faith steps for me, for her, for us.  

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