Thursday, February 28, 2013

What to Do When Errands Prevent You From Homeschooling

Sometimes I really worry that scheduling our appointments in the morning lets my boys off the hook for learning that day.

Since we began homeschooling I tend to make sure that we run all of our errands in the morning and make all of our dentist and doctor appointments in the morning to avoid the crowds.  This works out well since we can get our errands done quickly but I often worry that the time away from home isn't as productive as it should be.

Here are a few things we do when our mornings get too busy for me to teach:

1.  Rely on Unschooling/life learning.   Just because I am not teaching doesn't mean they are not learning.  My boys got themselves ready early because they knew we were leaving the house early (time management lesson!).  They asked the dentist lots of questions and got their teeth cleaned.

2.  Encourage them to bring reading and learning materials with them.  Alec and Evan brought Pokemon books with them and they all read books in the car while we headed out to do some errands.

3. Incorporate lessons into the errands.   Ian wanted to stop at the craft store and buy himself an art set so we headed there first.  It was hard for the other two boys to watch Ian spend his own money while their piggy banks are empty and they can't buy anything.  They all love to spend their money.   They have not yet learned the value of saving their money and since they are so young my husband and I have been letting them spend all they want in an effort to teach them that when it's gone, it's gone!  While a bit harsh, I think it is one of the best ways to teach them the value of a dollar.  The store did not have the art set Ian was looking for and rather than spend his money on something else he decided to save it!  Maybe those lessons are finally sinking in.  (Money management)

 4.  Remember that school is more than just reading, writing, science, math, etc.  We had a homeschool gym day again today and we hadn't had one in a while.  The boys were really excited to run, play soccer, catch, and basketball for a whole hour with some kids that we're just starting to get to know.  There was another new family there that we hadn't met before, but, like most kids, they quickly make friends and make up games to play with one another.  It's great to have an outlet like this set up for us especially when it's been rainy and miserable and they're just dying to burn off excess energy.  Besides, gym days have the added bonus of getting to socialize with someone other than their brothers.   (Physical education and socialization)

 5.  Plan some fun and lessons for the afternoon!     One of the benefits of homeschooling is being in charge of our own schedule.  We can "do school" at any time of the day we choose.

6.  Schedule all errands and appointments for the same day so you're only missing one day of school.  I used to try to run just one errand or go to our appointment and head immediate back home in the hopes of getting home early and settling down to work on some schoolwork but I have learned that we never really settled down to work on schooling.  I realized that if we just set aside one day to run ALL the errands it works better for us.

7.  Make appointments and schedule errand time for the afternoon when your lessons are all done. Yes, I know this is kind of a no-brainer but honestly, I'd rather give up a bit of learning time and get our errands done in the morning rather than watch the clock all morning while trying to make sure no one gets so involved in their lessons that we can't just pick up and go when we need to.

8.  Double up on schooling another day. We could always make sure to pack more lessons in another day of the week.  It's easy to make up missed learning time by digging just a bit deeper into each subject the next day.

 Once home,we had a nice lunch then I went to go change into painting clothes.  As soon as they were done eating, they changed too.  They were so thrilled that they were able to help me paint the last wall of kitchen today!  I even let Ian try a hand at using the brush to cut in.

They played Dominoes, played in a sink full of water with the animals, were in and out of the house
playing with the all terrain and hover craft remote controls in the water, digging in the sand, etc. 

 It was a wonderful afternoon and my kitchen is all done.

I've created a monster though, Ian is already asking to re-paint the living room!

What do you do when  you're too busy to teach?
Linking Up With:

Thursday Favorite Thing blog link party

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

"Quizzes" and such

I was asked last week by another homeschooling mom if my kids got "quizzed" by family members.  She was upset that her family doesn't support homeschooling and so therefor quizzes all of her kids when they get together to see what her children do and don't know.

I could honestly answer this has never happened to us.... until last night!

We've been really lucky in that everyone (and I do mean EVERYONE) has been very supportive of our choice to homeschool.  I'm sure some think it strange, but aside from what I've come to view as the "typical questions" (you can click through for our 10 FAQ about homeschooling) we haven't had anyone say anything negative to us.

So, I did have to watch last night, with amusement,  as my husband's aunt quizzed my middle son when she came to visit.  I remembered this mom asking her question last week and being baffled as to why family would act like that and I STILL am! 

Our aunt was asking out of fun; it was a game between her and Alec and one that both of them were having great fun playing.  I know she supports our decision to homeschool-- heck she's even asked to come be our substitute teacher a time or two! 

The Keywords being fun & game--- I think that makes all the difference!
It all started when Alec came over and started reading to me, out loud, from his new Pokemon book.   Once he fell silent and started reading in his head she looked at me with that look of amazement I'm so used to by now and just said "Wow! He reads so well!"

She noticed his attention had wavered from the book to the movie on TV and so she asked him if she could see his book.  She wanted to see if she could find some words to stump him... she flipped through the book and pointed to random words like sinister, perseverance, determination, etc.  She did manage to stump him a time or two and she'd tell him what the word was but more often than not he'd tell her the word without really even looking at what she was pointing at!

They were laughing and smiling and having a great time. 

She finally gave up and told me she though he probably read better than most high school students.  What a wonderful compliment!  Alec was radiant with pride.
However, had this not been a game or done in jest I would have intervened.  Just because we have chosen a non- traditional method of educating our children it doesn't give our families the right to test and quiz my kids on what they are learning.

I have been thinking of how I would have handled it and here are a few things I might have done if this were not all being done in fun with love and support:
  • Smiled at the family member and sent Alec to play in another room.
  • Changed the subject and asked them about something unrelated to kids and schooling.
  • Talk to them calmly about WHY they feel the need to test my child; do they do this for ALL children?
  • Help them find a good topic to talk about WITH my child instead of firing off questions. 


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Color my world.. Blue!

Well, maybe not the whole world but the kitchen at least!

The boys helped me pick out some paint so we could re-paint our kitchen.

We're fortunate enough to have a large kitchen with large windows so we went with a dark navy color for the walls.

This morning the boys were up bright and early, eager to help me paint.  I used painter's tape to tape off all the trim, outlets, switches, etc and then the boys watched me brush around the outer perimeter of the room before they each took a turn with the roller.  They had so much fun and did a really great job!

They soon lost interest and asked to watch The Science of Disney's Imagineering; Newton's 3 Laws of Motion.  They just LOVED it!

The Science of Disney Imagineering Newtons 3 Laws of Motion [Interactive DVD]

The movie is only 30 minutes and, while it was a bit advanced, they really enjoyed watching it.  It didn't hurt that many familiar Disney rides and attractions are featured in the movie. 

After the movie was over I heard Alec saying they were trying to use the motion of Evan's body to get Alec's body to move just like the movie was talking about.  They told me all about motion using simple terms rather than the scientific ones in the movie but I was pretty impressed.
Alec finished off his Hula skirt that he made for his cousin out of duct tape and tried it on then decided to give hula lessons to Ian.  It was hilarious and so nice to see these two really getting along. 

Alec then offered to make masks for each of his brothers and was hard at work most of the morning making a dog mask and a "regular mask."   Ian wanted a silver one so he could be the silver surfer and Evan wanted to be a dog. 

While he was busy making things out of duct tape his brothers were playing "gold mine."  They used the sink as a sluice, mini trucks as their mining equipment and they worked together to "cut down" trees and "dig dirt."
 After lunch, we finally decided it was time to wash up, clean up, and get ready for the day.  I honestly had this moment when I was making lunch where I wondered what all the other families were doing on their vacation when I remembered that we weren't vacationing; we were homeschooling!

It's rare that we have a day where all runs so smoothly and two days like that is just unheard of! 

Alec decided to spend the afternoon in the bathtub with a bunch of his animals and Ben 10 figures.

Ian and Evan spent the afternoon using remote control vehicles again.  Evan had great fun trying to crash his all- terrain vehicle into every available surface.  It was pretty hard though, since it doesn't travel in a straight line. 
We also spent a good portion of our afternoon playing Life.   The boys really enjoy the game and I love all the reading and math they're utilizing while playing.  It also gives them a chance to plan out real life scenarios.   It was loud and it does get annoying to play with three boys who are yelling, giggling and just plain silly but I know they learn so much too; counting, adding money, making change, reading, deciding if college careers are worth the time and money, etc.
Hasbro The Game of Life Game
I decided to send them outside. They brought out the hover craft and the all terrain vehicle and used those in the snow, sand and water.  I finally convinced them to stay along the shore walking with them.  Then, when the vehicles stopped working they went right to using tools (and their hands) to chop up the ice.

I've long since stopped asking them not to play in the water.  I've learned that boys are just compelled to mud, water, ice, and all that messy, cold, wet stuff.

They thrive on it and I'm sure they're learning all kinds of wonderful science and cause/ effect stuff.

It was pretty cold today but they all had on boots, ski pants, gloves, winter coats and hats so even though everything isn't 100% waterproof  they are wearing all that I can think of to help them stay warm and dry.

Monday, February 25, 2013

A Day in the Life of an Unschooling Family

A day in the Life of an Almost Unschooling Family:

Cooking, Reading, Math, Science:

Ian decided to try making waffles this morning; it was a great math and kitchen -science lesson.

We double the batter recipes every time we make waffles and pancakes so we have extra for the freezer and this time I had Ian read the recipe and tell me how much he needed of each ingredient when doubling it.

He got out the recipe book, found the page for making waffles (using the index without my mentioning it!), got out all the ingredients and measuring cups and spoons by himself.  He read through the list and double checked with me that he was using the right measuring tool and the right amount.

I was so proud of him.

He needed some help cooking them since he's a bit afraid of getting burned on the waffle maker but he tried!  He measured out the amount of batter needed and poured it into the waffle maker, he just didn't like the steam that came out when we had to open the waffle maker so he asked me to open it and remove the cooked ones.  

Life Skills:

The boys have trampoline today and Alec knew he had no athletic pants clean so as soon as he woke up he told me he needed my help watching him clean his clothes.

 I'm proud to say that other than getting the laundry detergent down and helping him pour it into the cup, he did his laundry all by himself!

 I have helped the boys by putting stickers on the washer and dryer showing them where to turn the knobs, taken the time to explain the different settings and why we use the ones we do, I've also made myself available as a "coach" as often as they've needed.

Arts and Crafts:

While Ian and I were cooking breakfast Alec took out a crafting book he had gotten for his birthday all about making items out of duct tape.  He has 5 rolls of assorted duct tape too to go with it and spent the morning making himself a cat mask using the instructions, some duct tape, scissors, a ruler, and a pencil.

He rarely asked for any help (and if he did need help it was only with getting the duct tape off the roll!).

It came out great-- don't you think?

The cat mask-- 1/2 done!
Using Math With Crafts:

He then went on to try his hand at making a grass skirt for his cousin.  He needed to make strips that
were 24" long and when I asked him how he would do that he said "Using a ruler. One of the numbers must equal 24."  When I asked him how many inches were in a ruler he told me 12 and then I asked him how he would find 24 he told me 12 plus 12 would be 24 so he just needed to use the ruler twice.

After making 2 of the 24" strips he told me he thought it would be quicker to make them twice as long and then just cut them in half when he was done since the instructions call for 28 strips.   I thought that sounded pretty good too but he got real frustrated when the tape kept tangling and sticking to itself.

He ended up crying and I suggested he take a break and we could always try again later; perhaps sticking with the 24" this time. 

reading the instructions
Measuring the tape

the cat mask with whiskers

Science and Discovery:

Evan was playing with remote control machines most of the morning.  He tried using the hover craft, the all- terrain vehicle, and the snake that we have.  Evan was pleasantly surprised to discover that the remote for Ian's all terrain vehicle works with his all terrain vehicle.  We then talked about remote controls working on a frequency and how the two vehicles have the same frequency.

Alec pointed out that it was pretty obvious that the remotes would work for each since they were the same toy made by the same company.  The batteries were starting to die so Ian and Evan worked on replacing them.

They were trying to get the compartments unscrewed and I heard Ian tell him to turn it the other way... "righty tighty, lefty loosey" he chanted.  I said "That's right.  Where did you learn that?"  "From working with Papa."  So Ian used the screwdriver to open some of the battery compartments and plugged in the chargers for those toys that had rechargeable batteries.

 Next thing I knew Evan was trying to get the screws out of his battery compartments too.  He was able to replace them on his own; working very hard to keep the screwdriver turning the right way.

The look of intense concentration was great!

He even realized that the Phillips head screwdriver wasn't working and so I showed him how our screwdriver can change from Phillips head to flat head.  He played with that for a while and then went right back to work on his toys.         

Now I should mention that all this took place BEFORE 8:30!

It was a very impressive morning where I could see how well unschooling was working.

They got along, did their own thing and accomplished a LOT.

Reading Comprehension and Physical Education:

We headed out for some quick errands while listening to some books on CD; our new favorite book is Officer Buckle and Gloria.  We stopped back in at home to drop off our bags and so the boys could eat an early lunch before we headed out to Trampoline.  They were so happy to get back to trampoline class.  It's been 3 weeks since we've had class and boy have they missed it!

Math Games:

Evan and I played Add A Bug and Uno while the older boys jumped, learned, and played with friends.

Physical Education and Socialization:

The boys had some new kids in the class and the boys were very friendly.  They also learned some new moves.  Ian learned a swan jump and a roller.  They're always eager to show off their skills and I love seeing how excited they remain about trampoline.  Ian told me today he'd like to try and make it to the Olympics with trampoline.  Wouldn't that be something?

Science and Dealing with Separation Anxiety:
From trampoline we headed right to our local public school for their Mad Science class.  By the time we arrived Evan was excited since we were pretty sure this class was all about water and waves.

We walked into the school and ended up being the first ones in the room.  Evan is shy and was not sure he wanted to stay without me staying too.  He was quite comfortable by the time the small group showed up.  He didn't yet want me to leave and they played the telephone game while waiting for the science people to set up.  He was giggling and rolling on the floor laughing.

They went to walk back to the table and I said "OK I'm going to get going then" and he was clinging to my neck saying "no, don't go.  Stay!"  I told him I could stay for a minute or two but not the whole thing.  He really wanted me to stay for the whole thing.  As this discussion was taking place I did carry him over to the table and sat him down near his brothers telling him he wasn't alone, he was safe, his brothers were here with him, etc.

 I finally looked him in the eye and said "I could have left while you were playing the game and you wouldn't have noticed.  I can wait until you get involved in playing and then sneak out but I'd rather just say good-bye so can you give me a hug and a kiss.  So I can leave?"  He hugged me tight, gave me a kiss, and turned around putting his back to me, ready to learn.

I was floored!

All this took less than 5 minutes.

He never cried, clung, tried to leave with me, or anything!

All the boys LOVED their science class!

 They talked about solids, liquids, and gasses and made silly putty.

They experimented with dropping vinegar onto baking soda and using paint to color the solutions.

 They told me they talked about molecules and made models of molecules using toothpicks and marshmallows (which they ate plenty of!).

And that's how many of our days go! 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Craft Room Organization: Brads, buttons and bows

OK so day #3 found me organizing my bin of brads, buttons and assorted embellishments.

I may have bitten off more than I can chew as I only managed to organize my brads today.  I had no idea I had so many!  I should have realized it since it is my favorite embellishment to use.

 I have brads in Disney shapes, cooking and kitchen utensils, trucks and tractors, stars, and every color of the rainbow.  I have had this magnetic organizer for well over a year.  I kept waiting for my husband to hang it (and for me to decide WHERE I wanted it) but today I decided enough was enough and I filled it up.

I had bought some extra canisters and honestly, I need  more.  But I love how it looks with all the colors sorted.  And I love the idea that I can see them all.  I often forget to use embellishments or re-order ones I already have forgetting that I bought them.

I am mounting  his over my bins of paper so it will be at eye level and easily accessible.  One small corner at a time this room is getting organized!

Day #1- Paper

Day #2 - Scrap paper

Linking Up With:

Strawberry Butterscotch

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Scraps, scraps, scraps-- Organizing Paper Scraps

I had a bit of time this morning and decided that rather than do the dishes I'd prefer to work in my craft room.  I had 4 drawers that were filled with scraps of all shapes, sizes and colors and
I often pull all 4 of them out when looking for a specific piece or color of paper.

 It seems like I've gotten to the point where I don't want to throw any scraps away. 

But I'm starting to feel like scraps are taking over my room and most of my time too. 

I finally decided to organize my scraps by color too so I dumped all the drawers out and started sorting.  I used my hanging file cart to store all the paper scraps once they were sorted.

 My room is now a much bigger mess than I started with as I promised myself I'd focus on one small area of the room each day and organize just that one small area.  It will take time (and money) but I think it's high time I dedicated myself to making the room all I want it to be. 

I love the idea of sorting everything by color because 9 times out of 10 I know what color I want.  I also just love how pretty the rainbow of colors looks. 

Perhaps one day my room will be so organized and pretty I won't want to leave it!

Why Do We Have Trophies for kids.

I really had such high hopes that Ian's team would win their last game today.  I know playing sports isn't all about winning but just once I'd love to see the look of sheer joy on his face when his team won.  Instead he had a smile on his face as he received his participation award.

His basketball team did not win one game all season long (sad to say they often weren't even close to winning).

Ian has played quite a few team sports and every team, every sport, every time they've lost. 

 I know this builds character.

I know this redoubles his efforts to win, but still it would be so nice to be able to celebrate a victory with him once in a while instead of always trying to cheer him up.  I have to say he takes it really well though and the losses have in no way dampened his love of the game and for that I am grateful!

Now, the participation trophies, however, I could do without.  

I'm sorry, I know many people would argue that it's cute and I couldn't argue that the kids don't enjoy getting them but I just don't understand how or why we started handing out trophies to everyone, for what seems like every little thing.  

 I don't understand why we hand out trophies period at this age and stage at all, if truth be told.

The children were all happy enough to have been playing.  They found joy in the game and in the challenge of improving their skills.

It was intrinsically rewarding! 

Somehow I think giving kids trophies for participating in all the sports, every time they play, takes something away from the joy of the game. 

They begin to expect to be rewarded just for trying.

Why do they need to be rewarded at all?

 Most kids didn't know they were getting trophies and they were fine with that.  I thought if they had charged less for the kids to play and not purchased trophies, they might have had even more kids playing.

But, all that said, I knew I had to take pictures of the trophy ceremony (and good thing I did too since Ian asked if his father saw him and I consoled him with the photos I took to show dad!). 
Linking Up With:

A Listing of Video and Computer Games for Learning

Anyone who follows my blog know I have such a hard time allowing, regulating, and enjoying video games with my children.

I used to enjoy them and play games with them.  I was pretty good at Super Mario Bros.  I really enjoyed such Wii games as Wii fit, Wii resort sports, etc.

But when the boys were in school most of the day, and we had homework, after school activities, and busy weekends we did have all that much time to play.

I think video games are great fun but they do need to be limited.  Now that we homeschool we're home a lot more and have much more free time on our hands.  My boys thought they could play video games whenever they wanted for however long they wanted.

They soon realized that was not the case. 

I do have to admit that I've really started to watch very closely to see if they're learning anything from any of the games they play.  I will not argue that ALL video games are educational and while I still don't condone all out access to them I do have to admit at times they can be lifesavers (long plane rides could not be imagined without screens!).

That said, there are some video games I'm much more relaxed about them playing.

Kindle games:

While, not a game, my boys often ask to read books on my Kindle.  At times they prefer the Kindle books to real books.  To me reading is reading so I'm OK with that!
  1. Words with Friends-- my older two boys use math to compute the scores of a word before playing and they are improving their spelling and vocabulary skills.
  2. Chess-- Alec really wanted to learn how to play and since I didn't know how we downloaded a chess game onto the kindle where he can play against the computer. 
  3. Math Bingo-- Alec learned to add two- digit numbers (in his head even when he had to "carry over") and Ian practices his multiplication facts. 
  4. Hangman-- again more spelling practice and when they play with me they also learn new vocabulary words. 
  5. Stack the States- a fun trivia game about all 50 states
  6. Stack the Countries-- just like Stack the States but with all the countries of the world
  7. Minecraft PE- lots of constructing, building, and foraging skills in this survival game
  8. 2048- A fun & addicting math game working on doubling sums

Computer games:
  1. Wild Kratts- they've learned all sorts of scientific facts about animals. They've learned to sort and classify.  I even watched Evan play the other morning and saw him learn how to find points on a coordinate!  He had to find the d-4 cell and click on it.  He found d, looked for 4 and looked to see where the column and row met-- I was very impressed.
  2. Word world-- Evan will play is learning to match uppercase and lowercase letters, spell simple words, and make letter/ sound correlations.
  3. Coolmath-- has wonderful math games that the boys really seemed to enjoy.
  4. Cyber Chase-- lots of fun math/ logic games based on the TV show.
Evan playing Wild Kratts
Some Computer games I'd like to get the boy to play regularly:
  1. Starfall (for Evan)-- I can't tell you how many mom's have told me that this site helped their child learn to read. 
  2. Scholastic Listen and Read-- a site with 54 read- aloud non- fiction books
  3. Scholastic Global Trek-- where kids can learn all about geography by planning virtual trips; it also encourages writing!
  4. National geographic kids-  I especially love the "Explore Countries of the World" section.  It's great because kids can click on a country they are interested in and learn all sorts of facts, see pictures of people, animals and landscape. 
  5. Khan Academy-- we do use it occasionally for mathwork
  6. Coolmath-- Fun math games that look like video games
  7. Teach Your Monster To Read!- A fun learning to read game. 

DS games:
  1.    Scribblenauts (or Super Scribblenauts)-- they have to spell words to get tools to help them through the levels.  I have often observed all three of them working together to try and spell words and the older boys help Evan try to sound them out. 
Wii games: 
  1. My boys argue that Mario & Sonic at the Olympics (we have a few versions) taught them all about the Olympics and how to play the different sports.  I'm not so sure about that one.
  2. World Of Zoo-- teaches Alec, my future self- proclaimed zoologist all about how to take care of the animals: what the like to eat, when to feed them, how to care for sick animals, how fast sickness can spread, etc.
  3. Family game night-- my boys argue this is just as educational as playing real board games.  I think some of the games are-- like Boggle teaching them to spell, but some of them I think loose something like Battleship where you just point the remote and click (I like having them have to figure out the coordinates when we play in real life). 

Linking Up With:

Home Matters Linky Party - Grab Button
Awesome Life Friday

Friday, February 22, 2013

Teaching Good Sportsmanship

My older two boys love Monopoly and keep begging me to play with them.

We've had a game going for quite some time now that we have kept set up at our dining table.

While I hate playing Monopoly I know it offers great opportunities for lessons in math, reading, and good sportsmanship.

Because I am the first to admit that my boys do not play with good sportsmanship.
  • Ian and Alec both cheer when someone lands on their property.  
  • They grin with glee when someone doesn't have enough money pay.  
  • They pout and sulk when someone goes by their property and they cry when they run out of money.  

It's tough but we're trying to teach them it's a game.

They have both played on sports teams and showed great sportsmanship when they participated; always smiling and encouraging their teammates, always congratulating the other team on a good game or a good play, focusing on trying to better their own skills and making friends.

But somehow when my two older boys start playing board games with one another the competition turns fierce and no game brings that out more than Monopoly.

The only way I really know how to teach sportsmanship is to model it.

I keep reminding my boys that whether they win or loose they should be focused on having fun!  Having fun is the whole reason we play family games.

When games get particularly cutthroat or someone is getting upset we will put it away or take a break and walk away for a few days.

Today we had loads of fun playing until Alec lost... I felt bad but this game has lasted weeks (perhaps months!) and we had long since run out of money and started making our own. I was happy to see the game finally coming to an end and vowed this one will be staying on the shelf just a bit longer.

In the meantime we'll play some other board games and hope that they are a little less cutthroat. 

Linking Up With:

Organization is the key- How I Organize My Craft Room

Looking to "neaten" up my craft room I've been searching Pinterest for ideas and inspiration for creating my perfect space.

Sometimes I spend what feels like hours searching for the right color or pattern on a paper to go with the photos for a scrapbook page, or I'll end up ordering a tool, stamp set, or embellishment & end up realizing I already own it!

I thought my craft room was pretty well organized but it has never been "perfect."  In the beginning I was just to happy to have one I didn't mind that I didn't have much money left to spend on organizing it and I made do with bins and containers I found around the house.

Here we are several years later and I don't think I've purchased anything to help organize it yet.  I have, however, purchased a lot more "stuff" and now the room is looking very unorganized.  While I am usually pretty messy while I'm crafting and often thrive in the chaos it's starting to get to me.

Taking a page from almost ALL the rooms I looked at I decided to tackle one small corner of the room today.  My 12x 12 scrapbooking papers.

I decided to color code all my paper this morning. 

It took a little over an hour as I even went through all my bound "books" of paper like DCWV (Die cuts with a view) and pulled them apart page by page.  I thought it might get tough when they were heavily printed but I had read on one blog where she decided what stack to put it in based on what color she'd most likely use (or the color that inspired her to buy it).

It ended up being fairly simple as most pages had a color or two that really stood out.  I did keep a few "themes" separate though; Disney, Halloween, Christmas, and Wedding.  I did that only with paper that could not possibly be used as anything else.  If it was Disney paper but was just colors, dots or stripes I mixed it in with the color stacks but if it had a character on it or a ride pictured on it I left it in it's own stack (same goes for Christmas, Halloween, and Wedding). 

I love how it looked in the end and used my label maker to further organize.   I think this should help cut down on the time I spend looking for just the right paper... if not at least it looks pretty!

*update*-- 4 Years later and I am LOVING this system!  It makes finding papers such a breeze. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Planning a Sledding Day with Your Homeschool Group

Alec decided he really needed to wash his clothes since he ran out of socks and asked me to help show him how the washer and dryer work.  We had a quick lesson and he was off!  He ended up doing two loads of laundry for himself.  It's not folded yet, but it's all in a basket in his room.  I can't nag him too much since he did wash and dry it himself and that is a huge step! 

We were heading out to meet up with our homeschool group today and go sledding together.

We enjoy meeting up with our homeschool group a few times a month and we're always trying to plan new and fun things to do together.

A sledding day was a fun and easy idea!
  • We could have met at a local park but one homeschool mom offered to host at her house.
  • We all came prepared in winter gear and brought sleds.
  • We picked a sunny day (in winter, when we actually had snow on the ground)
  • We chose a time that would work for most everyone but would still allow the most heat from the sun; in our case we're meeting from 12-2.

We arrived and I have to admit I was daunted by their hill.  It was very steep and, thanks to all the rain and cold weather we've been having, very icy.  Sometimes I think my boys are overly cautious, but not today.

Ian and Alec tried sledding down the hill on their bellies like penguins and then jumped onto their tubes.  Alec raced down the hill so fast (face first!) that he flew right over the snow plowed banks of the hill and landed on the pavement.

My heart was in my throat and I had visions of blood, emergency room trips, etc.  Luckily, like usual, I overreacted and found he was OK once I got down the hill.  He did hurt his hand and is still complaining two of his fingers are sore.

I think it was a minor injury compared to what we could have been dealing with.  He decided he was done for the day and I was relieved.  I also talked Evan right out of trying sledding.  Ian better understands how to use his feet to slow himself down, how to make himself fall off the tube if he thinks he'll get hurt and in general he's just more cautious.  He continued to sled, and really wanted to try snowboarding too but I didn't think that was the best place to try it for the first time.

 The younger boys and I sat in the snow and watched all the other kids try sledding (many of those wiped right out too and didn't want to try much after that).  We saw an ice boat on the lake in the distance and watched the sail turning in the wind.  We thought that was pretty neat and the kids wanted to know more about it so we looked it up once we got home to learn what it was called and how it exactly works.

The Hill
Alec decided to "just watch"

The ice boat-- do you see it; near the tree line?
Ian and his friend
can you see the ice boat now?  It's that white dot....
Ian gets Alec to try one more sled run using the toboggan and a smaller hill

Once the kids were all sick of sledding we decided to head inside and have some hot cocoa and popcorn.  I love seeing how much they enjoy our homeschool group!