## Monday, September 23, 2013

### Math fact practice

We decided to take a break from L's Saxon math fact sheet today. I saw this idea on Pinterest and was excited to put my own spin on it. I filled water balloons and wrote doubles and doubles + 1 facts on them because that is what we are working on.

I went outside and wrote 2 columns of large numbers 1-20 on the street with sidewalk chalk. I would have used our driveway but couldn't move my car since my husband took my keys with him to work today. ( I am always the one who does things like that so it was nice to not be the only forgetful one!-haha...I'll save that for a later post) But no worries...vehicles rarely go down my street and if they do it's usually a golf-cart, so we were safe.

I had the boys take turns. When it was L's turn, he had to answer the problem and tell J what number to stand on. J had to find the right number, stand there and hope L didn't hit him. Poor guy! If he got hit, L got a point. When it was J's turn, L still had to answer the equation, stand on the number and J tried to hit him for a point.

When we ran out of balloons,  I counted out loud  to 20 and had them race to pick up the broken balloon pieces for extra points. The score was L-27 and J-16 but who's counting. I don't think J had any clue he came in second place but L stood by me and counted piece by piece to make sure he was the champion. I also emphasized the letter B for balloons for J's letter of the week.

E enjoyed handing the boys the balloons. And for all concerned mama's out there...I promise I took it away from her before it popped in her mouth but isn't she the most adorable thing on the planet?

Here's our heart moment: About two hours after we finished, I was working with L, J was on the computer using Starfall and E was asleep. J stopped what he was doing and said with a precious, trembling, baby voice, " I sorry I took sissy's balloon and broke it, Mommy. Will you forgive me?"
I looked at him and he was trying his hardest not to cry but looked absolutely heartbroken.  I picked him and up and hugged him and told me of course I forgive him. I love that tenderhearted little fella so much!

Did I mention that I LOVE homeschooling??

## Sunday, September 8, 2013

### All I have is Christ

There is not much more I can add to this except to beg God to change me to be more like Him.

## Saturday, September 7, 2013

### Happy Grandparents Day

I have been blessed beyond measure with an amazing woman to call my Gramma and quite the incredible Poppy too. She was young when I was born, 37, and most people thought she was my mom when we went out. I hated it, she didn't mind. Every Friday, Poppy would pick me up after school to spend the night at their house.( unless it was my sister's turn of course.) Poppy would order Pizza for him and Uncle Jerry and Gramma and I would eat Chinese. Sometimes we would go shopping or to see a movie but my favorite thing would be to cuddle up and watch TV in her big comfy chair. There was no safer place. I continued this tradition until I left for college and even now although I am married with babies of  my own, when I am home in NY, I still spend a night with Gramma. Unfortunately,  we no longer fit in her chair (we tried)  but we still stay up all night talking. She always had the best breakfast-crispy bacon, egg and cheese on a roll! Last time I was there, I was the one who cooked but it didn't taste as good. They came to every birthday party and major event, whether it meant coming to all of my track meets, church plays or singing concerts. Gramma proved she was the coolest when  at my second grade grandparent's day party she held our class pet, Monte the boa constructor. Poppy and I would sing opera on top of our lungs in the car on our way to my orthodontist appointments and any other chance we got. Gramma and Poppy were there to watch me get on the bus for kindergarten and every other first day of school. They watched me go off to college and Poppy shared a special dance with me at my wedding. Gramma is the one I call when I am upset and she never judges and always listens and cares. She is beautiful, funny, giving, a cancer survivor and my best friend. She has gone through many trials but last year in 2012, I saw my Gramma go through the hardest thing anyone has ever had to endure. She lost her first born son unexpectedly, my daddy, and yet she tries to be strong for all of us. That same year, she lost her home in Hurricane Sandy. Through these tragedies she has not complained, or given up and somewhere in there her spirit is not broken. She is still strong, beautiful and my shoulder to cry on. My daddy is watching her and she has made him proud. I love my Gramberloo and Poppernickle so much and I want to wish them  a HAPPY GRANDPARENTS DAY!!

## Thursday, September 5, 2013

### Triplett Preschool

J is doing preschool this year!  I have put together many resources as he is learning one letter per week starting with the vowels. We are so blessed by this day and age to have unlimited resources at our finger tips, and many of them are free!  I am having more fun than I imagined with the Letter of the Week. Every homeschool looks a little different so I'm going to share our version of Preschool. Here's how we do it!

# 1. The bones of my curriculum is Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading by Jessie Wise and Sara Buffington. For K3, my goal is to do the first 26 lessons and stretch out one lesson per week. Each Monday, I make a new flashcard and we learn a little poem. For example, A's poem would be " A is the first letter will say /a/ is the short letter sound of A."  We then review and finish the lesson during the week.

I store my flashcards in a little case that I found at Staples.

#2. I also use large alphabet flashcards from Abeka. J loves these because each one features an animal with a cute name and story on the back. I keep it up by his desk for the week and we review it and read a little more of the story each day.

# 3. I have him work on my computer independently with headphones while I am working with L. We  use educational websites like Easy PeasyStarfall and PBS.kids. He only has access to a kid browser under our family login that has a password. I am amazed at how well he can navigate the computer at age 3.

#4. He does Letter of the Week hands-on activities. This is my favorite part of preschool because it's fun and besides learning the letters he is also learning math skills like numbers, colors, shapes,  patterns, and grouping . I found my materials by mixing  and matching curriculum from some of my favorite blogs like confessionsofahomeschooler.com and  1plus1plus1equals1.com. There are probably many others but those are the main two that I use along with whatever I can find on Pinterest.

We practice the alphabet often and he uses a Daily Learning Notebook too!

A is for apple! Here he is putting the apples in size order and you can see his dot page in the background.

He LOVES using dot markers.

Here he is using the dot page and making the letter O out of o's. ( cheerios) This is great for his fine motor skills.

I know he is upside down here, but I wanted to show the page he is doing. He is practicing his colors with octopuses.

Here he is using his fine motor skills by cutting and pasting the octopuses. The sheet says " O is for Octopus"  and he did his best tracing the sentence.

I also have so many activity books from Walmart, Target and even the Dollar Tree that I use. My goal was to have everything printed, laminated, cut, filed and ready to use before school started but that did not happen. A was the only letter that I had prepared. I just stay about two weeks ahead now and so far so good. At least it will be done when E is ready to use it. I have about 10-15 activities per letter and I store them in a letter size portable file tote. ( I had to look at it to know what it was called.) Each week, I take all the activities and put them in weekly folders so they are ready to grab and use. At the end of the week, I file them back in  the tote.

# 5. I also reserve books from our local library to go with the letter of the week. He loved reading about igloos and iguanas last week, but I think Izzy Iquana was his favorite. We probably read this book 50 times.

#  6. Lastly, we do hands on experiments, crafts and projects that go with each letter. This works great because I can usually incorporate a phonics sound that L is working on. E does everything with us too!

We made apple trees with our hand and foot prints. Poor E screamed when I tried to paint her feet, so no apple tree for her.
Can you guess who's is who's??

Practicing  the letter E with shaving cream

We made Italian Cream Soda's

YUM!

We also discovered the fastest way to melt ice by rescuing insects from ice! We tried salt, water and saltwater.

We concluded that the fastest way to rescue the insects was by throwing the ice on the road and breaking it!

YAY!! He's free!

We practiced the letter O by making ocean boxes.

J is a joy to teach and we are having a blast at Triplett Preschool!  My goal is not to have him reading by age 4 but to instill a love for reading and a love for learning.

Oh, and for all of you who are thinking that I am an ignorant slob for saying octopuses and not octopi... watch this!  Haha!

## Saturday, August 24, 2013

### Our Homeschool!!

After two full weeks of officially beginning our homeschooling journey, I can honestly say that I am blessed beyond measure.  There have actually been moments where I have stopped and my heart swells with joy because I have the opportunity to teach my children. Yes, it is exhausting and things don't always go as planned. Yes, there have been a few tears and I have lost my temper a time or two but overall it truly has gone even better than I expected. There are so many things that I want to expound upon but with this post I am going to address the question I get the most ( and one I have asked others myself before we started) HOW DO YOU TEACH ALL 3 AT THE SAME TIME? The key is God's grace, prayer and planning! I have also spent a great deal of time researching how others homeschool with a toddler in tow. It's not so much that I am teaching different grade levels, which I am sure will be a challenge as well. It's that they are all so young. My kids are ages 6, 3 and 1. Being our first year and having a baby in the mix,  I have already decided that this will be my most difficult year and that no matter what I am committed. I have read that you need to do what works best for your family and I completely agree, but it was hard to know what works best before we ever started. For me, I know that I need a schedule. I have been a teacher for the past 8 years and I am used to staying on schedule. I need to know what's coming next and I need to have a plan. That is why for the first few weeks, I want to stick to our routine the best I can and try not to schedule anything else during school hours. I turn my phone to silent and stay off the internet unless it is for a lesson plan.

The set up...

I spent the week before we started the same as  I spent every other year I have taught...setting up the room, organizing and lesson planning.

Some people need to write things on paper for lesson plans but I prefer to do everything online. I have searched many online programs but  the simplest thing I have found is planbookedu.com. It was exactly what I was looking for and it's free! You can upgrade and do a bunch of fancy things like post links to educational websites and PowerPoints (which is totally cool) but I just stick with what's free.

I organized most of my materials in a cabinet that the children are not allowed to get into. So far, so good!                                            .

I labeled the days of the week in my filing cabinet and put everything I need for each day in daily folders. I plan on refilling them each week when I do my lesson plans. I have a file for each boy's finished work that I fill after each assignment or project is completed. I empty that folder each week and put their completed work in a portfolio. There is also a file for future work.

I empty the daily folder the night before and put it in my version of "work boxes" . L's work is on the bottom right. The first drawer is for  Language Arts. He has a folder for Phonics, Writing, Spelling and Reading. He does this box first but can do the assignments in this drawer in any order except Reading because we do that together. The second drawer is for Math and the last drawer is Science/History and Art. J  has the Math and Reading bins on middle shelf. I put his independent work in there but we are still working on that. I was filling these bins with whatever supplies he needs but I actually end up keeping them higher because I am also trying to figure out how to keep E from the very tempting goodies in there. On the bottom left are our library books. They can choose a book when they are finished with their work. I planned on using the top bins for snacks and any supplies that we might need but E had too much fun emptying those too. Sometime's I'll put a surprise in there as her "workbox"

Our Typical Day...
This will pretty much answer the question of how we do things and how I am able to effectively teach L first grade without being interrupted by his little brother and sister.

Here is our family schedule

This is what it looks like in a nutshell..

7:00- I wake up, work-out, take a shower, throw a load of laundry in and make breakfast.
8:00- Kids are up, fed and dressed. No TV in the morning! They can look at books but they usually end up playing, chasing each-other and jumping on my bed.
9:00- School starts!! I ring my cute little bell ( yes, I have a bell and they love it!) and they come running and find a spot on our circle time blanket in front of our calendar. We pray, pledge, go over the calendar, weather and whatever else we are working on like skip counting and ABC's. We also go over Classical Conversations memory work at this time and have a dance party to the CC History time line song. They LOVE it!

I know it doesn't look like they love it here but it's because I am so busy that I keep forgetting to take pictures and made them sit back down after our dance party. hehe

9:30- Bible. I will have to write a post on this later but we are studying famous missionaries, learning a character trait and memory verse with each one. This week we are starting with Amy Carmichael,  learning about kindness and memorizing Ephesians 4:32. I am really excited about this but I'll expand more later!
10:00- "Be still" time. I know this might sound crazy but I set the timer, put on Bible.is and we sit on the couch and practice being still. I do this because we need the practice, especially because the kids sit with us during church services many times and need to learn how to sit still. Even E does this with us. She does not like it very much but she does it.
10:05- LOL..yes, so far "Be Still" time is only 5 minutes long but it's a very long 5 minutes and we are working our way up. Next, we have Silent Reading time. This is where I set the timer for 10-15 minutes and they each have a special blanket, find a special place to read and look at books. They can get up to exchange a book but they need to stay in the place they started. They really love this and have gone to their same special place almost every day. I'm actually really surprised at how well they do and how much they love it. I also sit and read my Bible. It gives me a few minutes to read God's Word and I think it's important for them to see Mommy read as well.

J chose our toy corner but actually looks at his books...so far, anyway!

10:15ish- I read on a few blogs that when you have little ones  you should spend time with the youngest and then work your way up in age order. This has worked out well for us.  I spend the first 10 minutes with E, reading or coloring while both boys work on their own. They both have Daily Learning Notebooks and then J usually has a puzzle or game and L does his  Language Arts seatwork. When the timer goes off, I give E a box of toys and she plays. I then go to J and spend 10 minutes with him going over his Daily Learning Notebook. When the timer goes off, he is free to play. He has chosen to keep "working" almost everyday. That means he has had 10 minutes of independent work and 10 minutes with Mommy. Then I work with L and go over his  notebook with him and offer any help he needs with his phonics papers. He works 20 minutes independently and 10 minutes with Mommy at this time. The first few days of school, I gave the boys something fun to work on independently and then  taught them how to use their Daily Learning Notebooks when we had our "one on one" time. It's only been two weeks and both boys now know how to use their DLN's independently before starting their work-boxes.

Here is part of J's DLN. I was so proud of his tracing!

Here is J working on a puzzle. This was hard for him.
He preferred E's puzzles.

Here is Luke working on a puzzle during his independent time before he learned how to do his DLN. I didn't introduce his seatwork until the second week of school.

11:00- This is the time we work on any special projects. I also might read L's History or Science at this time but for the most part it's something hands on and fun. It usually has to do with the Letter of the Week. I'll explain that more on a later post but J's curriculum consists of learning a new letter each week. I am so excited about this coming week. I've got some fun things planned for the letter "I" that also incorporates the special sounds that L is practicing. For instance,  we will be doing an Inchworm craft and "ch" is a special sound that L is working on.

Here are some pics of things we've worked on so far. Although we have done a bunch of cute things, I was so into what we were doing, I kept forgetting to take pictures but here is one thing we did.

11:30- Play time! This is when I switch the laundry, do the morning dishes and make lunch. The kids play on the porch, with their toys or play a game on pbskids.org

12:00-Lunch

12:30-E goes down for a nap and usually sleeps until about 3:00. I put J on the computer with headphones and he does his letter of the week activities from either Starfall or EasyPeasy. Our computer is set to "family" which means he can only use a kid browser. He is 3 but he knows how to find PBSkids and play Elmo or Curious George when he is finished with his "work". While J is on the computer, L and I do Math. This has worked out perfectly. It usually takes us about 30 minutes to do a Math lesson and then the boys switch places. This is a great motivator for L because he cannot use the computer  until he completes his Saxon math sheet. I have a math game set for him ( usually from EP) and them he can  use the kid browser and play a game. Then I  work with J on his letter of the week activities. I am using Ordinary Parents Guide and many other activities I find from different blogs that I love like confessionsofahomeschooler.

J loves doing his work. Here he is sorting apples by size for the letter A

He LOVES using dot markers!
L is exploring with pattern blocks and got a 100% on his first assessment!

1:30-I lay J down for a nap and usually read him a book and snuggle for a few minutes while L is still on the computer. I cherish this special time with him. We usually sing a few songs and tell stories. He usually sleeps until 3. Then I  work on Reading and Phonics  with L. He does not love to read yet, but we're getting there. He loves the alone time with Mommy while the little ones are sleeping and I have seen a great improvement in his attitude.

2:15ish- School is done! L has 30 minutes of rest time while I check email and relax! I set a timer for him and if he is still awake ( which he always is) I put a DVD from the library on for him and get him a snack. J and E usually wake up while a show is on and I get them a snack too.

3:30ish- We usually go outside for a walk, to the playground, swimming or we might run errands.

4:00-Chores ( mostly for me)

5:00- I start dinner and usually put a DVD on for the kids

6:00ish- Joey gets home around this time and we eat dinner

7:00- Playtime with Daddy, family worship/Bible time, baths

8:30- Bedtime for kids.

Here are some pics of our first day of school! We celebrated by going to Chick-Fil-A with Grandma and Grandpa.

We have a weekly library time,  meet with other home-school families on Tuesdays for Classical Conversations, play sports and will go on many field trips with our co-op, HEAT.

I am so beyond thankful to home-school my children!