Monday, August 29, 2011

Back to School

Ivy started back to school last week and I am happy to say it was a huge success. She loves school so much it makes me wonder what is wrong with her! She is trying out for a part in a school play, she is on the dance team and she is co captain of the Anime club.

Birdy will start school next week and I have butterflies already! As I mentioned earlier, we will be starting a homeschooling co-op with a friend and former teaching partner. I will be taking the girls Monday and Wednesday and She will have them Tuesday and Thursday. We have both been working hard to get ready. I thought I would share a few photos of our learning areas and how I am organizing all the (massive amounts of) supplies.
 So this is the changing table which was given to me and which is now serving as a school supply storage unit. Mommy's supplies are on the top drawer.

 These clear plastic drawers I found at a garage sale. The supplies we use most are in here. I like that they are down low so that the kids can get in to them when ever they need to. I also like that we can see what we are looking for.
 The clip boards hanging on the wall hold a copy of our schedule, a field trip list and lesson plans. I keep these here so I can refer to them easily when ever I need to.
 This is my planner. We planned out units for the year and then I went through all of my curriculum and all of my ideas that I had piled up around the house and organized them with little sheet protectors and filed them away according to unit and month so I can find them when I need them.
 This is our temperature chart. Twice a day we check the temperature and chart it here in different colors. One color is for the AM temp and the other is for the PM. This is actually July's because I didn't have a photo of August. It's just as well, I don't think my chart goes up to 112!
And this is the children's work table. All of the supplies that we use on a daily basis are stored here along with scraps of paper, blank journals, and alphabet stamps and ink pads.
And finally our back to school sensory tub. I will have more on this tub later. But I wanted a picture just to show that this will be a standing part of our class room. When I taught preschool I loved the big sensory tables in the rooms and so I will try to recreate them every month at home for Birdy and her friend. That is all for now.  If you have any tips for organizing a home school class room, I'd love to hear them. Hope you enjoyed and thanks as always for stopping by. 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Let down your hair

When Ivy was little she was WAY in to dolls. If she didn't have dolls to play with she would make them out of rocks of tissue paper. Birdy has never been that child. She has several baby dolls, but they stay in her toy box until a friend comes over and digs them out. She has also never really been in to princesses, so I was a little surprised yesterday when she came to me and insisted she needed a Rapunzel doll and she needed it ASAP! I needed to channel my inner Ivy. I made a quick inventory of what items I had on hand and discovered, to my horror, that it was not a lot. I did have a small amount of pipe cleaners and this is what I came up with
Rapunzel with her long flowing hair.
Eugene, I think he looks dashing!

And last but not least, the witch.

Apparently Birdy was introduced to the movie Tangled and decided to use her new magnetic blocks to build a tower. Once the tower was constructed she decided she needed the characters of the story to go along with it. 

Now I don't want any one to judge my artistic ability on these dolls. You have to remember that I had just a handful of pipe cleaners and an impatient 4 year old so I just kind of threw them together. But they have inspired me. I feel the need to make a run to Hobbily Lobbily for some more materials. Perhaps my next set of dolls will turn out better.
I'll let you know what I came up with!
Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

School Lunches

So, I'm a little geeky excited about this new lunch box I found for Ivy. I've been packing Ivy's lunch for 7 years now and I am constantly trying to find ways to perfect it. I don't like the idea of leaving her with a stack of trash to throw away, but all those little containers prove hard to keep up with. I was in my local grocery store and stumbled across these bad boys.

It's by a company called Smash (as in Smash the trash) out of Australia and it is basically a bento box. It is bpa free and has all these little compartments that hold your food with out needing to fill the lunch box up with plastic baggies. And all the lids are attached so you don't end up with 50 tiny containers and no lids.

It comes with this little carrying case that is made out of wet suit material so it insulates the food. And it has a little pocket on the side for a water bottle! So far Ivy has loved it. I'll let you know if it last the year.
I'm not going to take a picture of what I pack for lunch every day because, frankly that just sounds exhausting, but I will tell you the menu for this particular day was:
Turkey sandwich
String cheese
Carrot sticks and dressing(the insulated cover keeps it cool!)

If you have an idea on how to smash the trash this year let me know!
And thanks for stopping by.

Man, it's HOT!

How hot is it? Well, it's so hot that if you were to peel a bunch of crayons...

Break them in to pieces....

Put the pieces in a nifty ice cube tray you found at Ikea...

And leave them in your front yard for a while....

You'd end up with these cute little crayon hearts, perfect for little hands!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Simple Machines

Some times the best way to beat boredom are the simplest of things. Like these simple machines! It was that time of the day when everything falls apart. One minute they are fine, having fun, in good cheer. And the next minute they are whining and cranky and demanding snacks and TV. I am making a deliberate attempt not to cave in to this and so when I see this coming, I try to think of a quick way to head it off! This time it was with a folding table I found in the garage.
I raised one side of the table up and allowed the other side to stay folded creating this perfect ramp to roll all manners of balls and cars and whatever else we could find and send them zooming across the living room floor.

 This was an activity that both Birdy and Bug could really get in to. They almost immediately fell in to jobs. Bug liked to watch the items come racing down so he served as the "fetcher." He stood at the base of the ramp and gleefully clapped as the balls and cars came pelting toward him, then he would run off and fetch all the items to hand back to Birdy. Birdy was our chief roller. She started off one item at a time, but soon began to race them against each other. What will reach the ground faster, the ball or the car? What will roll the farthest, the car or the empty oatmeal container?
 Once the ramp had been thoroughly explored, we looked for other methods to send items zooming across the room. This is an attempt to create a catapult out of blocks and a spoon. Our angle was evidently off because the objects went flying upward instead of outward, but it was still fun trying.
Even with a pretty quick shutter, I had a hard time actually catching the objects as they went flying, which is disappointing, but you will just have to take my word for it. Fly they did! All over. I think next we will have to work on creating a pulley. I see a bunk bed contraption in our future!
It's Playtime at hands on : as we grow

Monday, August 22, 2011

Light Table

Well I have been inspired. Everywhere I look there are light tables and awesome, awesome activities for light tables. So when I saw this DIY light table from Teach Preschool, I knew that I could have one of my very own!

I made mine a little differently. For one, I couldn't find the cordless lights for the inside, but I think mine turned out great. I'll be tweaking it for a while I'm sure. I found a bin with a lid and headed over to IKEA for an under the cabinet light to use inside. I found one for around 9 bucks. I lined the bottom of the bin with shelf paper and attached my light to the lid. We turned the whole thing upside down and, viola!
Our brand new light table!

 I found these clear plastic magnetic blocks on sale at Lakeshore Learning. The magnets allow you to build 3d structures.
 These little circles have metal rings which work well with the magnetic blocks.

 I found these slides in the garage. They're some of mine from high school art, but I am pretty sure I have some from actual artists out there some where. 
If I keep looking, I'll find them.
 Our chiropractor kindly donated these x-rays of hands and feet.

 Birdy loved looking at all the bones. She has been very interested in bones lately. She asks me what all of the names are and is constantly feeling around on her body to find new ones, so I knew she would enjoy seeing pictures of all the little bones of the hands and feet.
He says next time we come in he may have some of necks and spines for us!
Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Let's make it rain!

As I might have mentioned, we are in the middle of a drought here in the Lone Star State. It hasn't rained in...well...a really really really long time. I thought it might be time to take matters in to our own hands!

As I explained to the children, what you need to make it rain is hot and cold air. When the cold air high in the atmosphere meets the warm air rising up from the earth, condensation is created. When the drops of moisture become heavy enough they fall to the ground.

We created our hot air by boiling a kettle of water.  We created the cold air high in the atmosphere with a tray of ice.

We had to be patient for this experiment. It doesn't happen right away. At first it didn't work at all. We had our tray too high up and the heat wasn't reaching the cold air. I explained to Ivy that this was what  was in fact happening in Texas right now. Although we have plenty of hot air (its supposed to get to 107 today) There has been a high pressure system hovering right smack on top of us for a while now and its pushing the cold air up.

Once we lowered our tray the condensation really started to build up. Birdy and Ivy took turns touching the top of the tray to feel the moisture.

I tried to get a good picture of the drops as they started to fall but all the steam from the tea pot made that difficult. But, huge drops did start to form on the bottom of the tray and when they got heavy enough fell down in to the dish I had set underneath. Ta Da! Rain!
It's Playtime at hands on : as we grow

Exciting news

This is a photo of me and my friend Mary. We taught together a few years ago in a 3 year old class. We discovered right away that our teaching styles were pretty different. As any one who has had a partner with teaching styles that differ from your own, you know that this could turn out very good or very bad. In our case, we discovered that each of us came with our own strengths and weaknesses and areas we felt passionate about and where one of us lacked the other one stepped up. Franklin Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families calls this synergy. He says this happens when we begin to celebrate each others differences instead of allowing those differences to come between you. In the case of Mary and myself, we discovered that our differences created a very well rounded classroom.

Mary has two daughters, one of them is Birdy's age, the other is a couple of years older. Last year I came to Mary with an idea. I told Mary that I would not be working at the Pre school next year and that I would like to invite her kids over once or twice a week to do some activities with Birdy. Mary, who knows how to take an idea and run says to me, "Yeah, we could do that.....or.....what if we organized a pre-school co op? You could take the girls twice a week and I could take the girls twice a week and we could have themes and field trips and everything!"(that may not be word for word)

And so each of us has spent the last few months planning. We have selected themes for the year so that we both stay on the same page. Her focus will be on language, literacy and pre math concepts, my focus will be art, science, sensory, and motor skills (fine and gross.) I think I got the better end of it! I have been spending the summer getting my class room, aka the dinning room, and my out door classroom, aka the back yard, ready for the school year. We start after labor day and I am so excited! 

I will of course be blogging about this but the format of the blog might change while I get my self used to this. I am very proud of this blog in many areas. Its play based and child centered and I would like to keep it that way. But I also would like to incorporate our new homeschooling activities, so I'll have to play a little to figure out how I want to do that. I am praying for this school year and for my and Mary's sanity as  this all comes together. I hope you all stay tuned to this adventure!

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Trip to Mimi's: part 3 or Life on the Porch

My grandparents have a wonderful porch. Nothing too fancy but its big and its covered and its the perfect way for the children to get out side with out being directly in the hot hot sun. It was 104 degrees almost the entire time we were visiting, but we were still able to get out side almost every day.

So here are a few photos from Mimi and Papa's porch....

The baby pool was a big hit with Birdy. 
 Bug preferred the bubbles.

 Ivy stayed hidden away reading until we brought out the watermelon.
 The nice part was that they would get all juicy and then go jump in the baby pool to clean off. No mess, no stress!
 My Grandfather found this easel in the trash. Can you believe the things folks will just throw away? It's going to get a makeover very soon and become part of our out door area!

And what porch would be complete with out a porch swing?

We had such an amazing time last week with my grandparents. But now it's time to get back to work. Summer is winding down and the school year is about to start. Preparations must be made, lesson plans prepared. But I'm glad we had this last slow lazy trip before all the madness begins. Thanks for stopping by!