Drat.   I have Heart of Dakota.  It should be said I LIKE it!

But, for whatever reason, and I can’t even put my finger on it, I’m not using it this year………..  We’ll see how this goes.

Follow along if you’d like.  If you have a child’s bible (and my favorite is by Catherine Vos) we’ll be using what I have on hand and links from the internet for right now.

Week 1 – Creation

Monday

Reading:
Leading Little Ones to God Ch. 15
Memorization:
Introduce Verse – Genesis 1:1 – “In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth.”
We are memorizing the books of the Old Testament right now.  We use Wee Sing’s version of memorizing the books and I freely admit I sing it to myself everytime I need to find something.

Coloring:
This site has cute coloring pages for Creation.

Alphabet:
Sing the ABC’s
And, finally introduce the letter A.  We used the templates from DLTK, printed on cardstock, cut out, and laminated for our corkboard.   And matching coloring page for the letter A.

Tuesday

Reading:
Review yesterday
Chapter 16 – and page 14 from The New Bible in Pictures

Memorization:
Same verse

Coloring:
More creation coloring pages.
Alphabet:
Sing the ABC’s
Play-Doh for an activity today…. Allow free play but also making the letter “A” out of play-doh.

Wednesday

Reading
Ch. 17 & T.N.B – p. 18

Memorization:
Same

Activity:
Nature Study followed by drawing.  Label the drawing for little ones.

Alphabet:
Coloring Page

Sing the ABC’s
Play Eric Carle’s The ABC Game – this is a new game for us (Target) so I’ll see how I like it.  It’s specifically for ages 3 and up.  Review to follow.

Thursday

Reading
pp. 24-26 in  Bible for Little Eyes

Memorization:
Same as above

Activity:
Noah coloring page

OR
Noah’s Ark Sequencing Cards
Noah’s Ark game

Alphabet:

Sing the ABC’s
Cut and Paste Activity
to follow the A is for Alligator.

Friday

Read:
pp. 28-30 in Little Eyes

Memorization:
Same as above.

Activity:
Netflix – Noah movie   (Yes, I know.  GASP!  You can’t believe I’m using the t.v., Fridays are my light days and I’m abusing the privilege of Netflix.)

Alphabet:
Sing the ABC’s
Refrigerator letters – find the “A” uppercase and lowercase.

Finally, I’m not a fan of a huge BLOCK of preschool activity.  Essentially this is set up to do this:
Introduce the Bible concept, sing a song, read the reading.  Move to the table, do the associated activity with the Bible reading.  After naptime, during snack is a good time to sing the ABC’s and then give them the alphabet activity before their outside time.  It’s a nice transition.

That’s it! Week 1 done.  And thankfully?  Ana did her lesson plans this weekend as well.  Christian and I will do his as he learns to write his own daily lesson plans.  And I’ll do Lizzie’s later today.

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I’ve given the recommendation MANY times that preschool (and kindergarten for that matter) is utterly unnecessary.

And I believe it.  I think the average child in the average home is going to pick up the skills he or she needs to successfully begin formal schooling somewhere between the ages of 6-8.  I’ve seen it work well.

That said?  If I don’t keep our little ones busy, they’ll keep themselves busy, and they are FAR, FAR more creative than I am.  For example, I know I would NEVER think of fingerpainting in toothpaste on the  walls.  I know I would NEVER think of making an animal “trap” out of all of Daddy’s zip strips from his garage.  I know I would NEVER think of making a fishing pole from PVC & fishing bobbers and for that extra special, can’t resist, secret fishing tip, stuff part of a jar of very nasty catfish bait into the PVC.  These are things I simply wouldn’t think of.  And yet, somehow, these are only RECENT examples of what my bright & beautiful preschoolers have done.  We are never bored.  And I am often sidetracked.

And honestly?  I just want to spend time with my littles.  It’s imperative I sit down with my almost 6yo and my almost 8yo and work on phonics.  We sit together as they practice handwriting.  They need help with math manipulatives.  I simply must sit down with my 10yo and 13yo each day and teach their math, discuss their writing, or read them their dictation.  There’s just no way around it.  The baby will fuss for me and just wants Mama, so she will be held and loved and snuggled.  But an almost 3yo and a 4yo?  The creative genius in them will keep them busy for HOURS.  They are both fairly content children and as long as they’ve been fed, semi-clothed, and given free reign, they’ll run amuck, playing, singing, jumping from things, amusing themselves all day long.  I’d prefer it be a wee bit more structured and a tiny bit less chaotic. 😉

Preschool gives me the excuse I need to sit down with them for a bit, put my feet up, and ENJOY them.  Preschoolers are easy to enjoy.  Happy children are fun to spend time with…  And children are happiest with something productive to do, lots of exercise, healthy food, and a routine.  There’s a reason routine works so well with these little ones… They know what “comes next.”  They can’t tell time yet, but it’s comforting for them to know we do chores, then breakfast, then Mama will sit down with you and read for a bit, then we’ll go outside.  They learn that everything has a place, that they are useful, needed little people in this family.

Our AM schedule looks something like this:

Breakfast
Chores  (sometimes we reverse breakfast and chores)
Family Bible Time
Preschool – Reading, Singing, Talking
Arts & Crafts at the table
Snack
Outdoors for an hour
Indoors – Potty & Wash Hands
Free or Structured Indoor Play
Lunch
Clean-up
Read-Aloud
Nap

And I’m sure you’re wondering what in the world the big kids are doing in all this.  Well, they’re busy.  If you can teach them in the AM before the littles get up this generally works out best.  They also know they should probably wait ’til I’m available to them for questions.  I’m available during Arts & Crafts, Outdoor play,  Clean-Up time,  and Snack.  Obviously they are with us for Family Bible Time.  And just as you’d tell a child on a standardized test, if you don’t know something, go to the next thing and then come back to it.  Essentially that’s how this works.  My oldest two children are quite independent learners and good readers and so it simplifies much of what I have to do.  The most difficult one to balance is, of course, Elizabeth, because she’s not quite on the level of a completely independent learner or reader!  And that isn’t terribly surprising at age 7.   But you’ll find you have time…   We work in concentrated blocks, much of it during naptimes when littles are down.

I can say that most of my day pivots on something important.  The first is tomato – staking.  If a child is tomato staked, they never get the opportunity to draw on the walls, get the catfish bait, OR grab Daddy’s zip strips.  I’ve become very lazy at this lately as I prepare for our new school year, and honestly?  Most of the summer.  I feel like *I* took the whole summer off as well, and that’s just NOT a good thing.  You can learn about this vital & biblical concept here, at Raising Godly Tomatoes.  The concept is very simple.  Keep your children WITH you.  If your children are out of earshot, you can’t correct their attitude or what comes out of their mouth.  If they are out of eyesight, you can’t correct their atttitudes or their actions.

Let’s pretend a child misspells the word CAT.  He spells it KAT.  When he writes it, he writes it K-A-T.  When he hears it, he visualizes K-A-T.  Nothing has led him to believe that KAT isn’t correct and without you to make the correction and to further train him in the correct spelling by reinforcement, this child will continue in his wrong belief and behaviour.

Let me add some caveats here.  Have you ever watched the Dog Whisperer?  An amazing man.  He excels at what he does because he understands pack behaviour and he knows what he can expect in behaviour and he trains to the EXPECTATION.   The problem with parenting is very few people know what type of standards to expect from their children these days.  OR they are unreasonable.  An oddity I’ve noticed is over 1/2 of his cases, the problem behaviour is fixed by the owner’s giving appropriate affection, a routine,  and lots of exercise.  I can’t emphasize enough the impact exercise has on these dogs.

Now, don’t get huffy, I’m not calling your toddler a dog.  But I’m saying we have higher expectations of an 8 week old puppy than we do of our 3 year olds.  And I certainly know MY Abigail is smarter than Legend, and he’s a German Shepherd, lol.   Children need GOOD food.  This will get rid of most of your convenient foods, Mom.  They need REAL food.  They do not need food additives, preservatives, food coloring, or most things that come out of a box.  They don’t need refined flour, refined sugar, or no-calorie sweeteners.  They need REAL food.  I’d suggest you I.L.L the book by Dr. Sears, The Family Nutrition Book.  Look, Dr. Sears, I like some of his books.  Others, not so much.  But when you start learning about whole foods, the books people recommend are OVERWHELMING.  You’re going to start reading books where you need to milk your cow, grind your wheat, grow your own food organically, make your own yogurt, and ferment kombucha.  And WHAT is kombucha?  And, are you kidding?  It’s just too much.  This is a GREAT introduction to real food.  You THINK what you’ve been buying at the grocery store is real food, but you’d be surprised.  Most of the nutrition in the checkout line is synthetic and our body just doesn’t know what to do with it.  Don’t look at the label – buy the stuff without a label…. Produce.  And don’t even get me started on bread!

Next thing – EXERCISE.   I am not saying introduce your 4yo to pilates.  I’m not advocating a treadmill for the 5yo.  I’m saying GET OUTSIDE!  Get them plenty of fresh air, let them yell, let them climb, let them jump and run.  If you do NOT do this things, you are asking for what you get….  I am a FIRM believer that children can and should be taught to sit and sit quietly, but just as every year has a season, every child should have a healthy time to play and run and get out physical energy.  THIS IS ESPECIALLY TRUE IF YOU HAVE BOYS!  Oh, I’ve had people argue that point, but I’ve got 2 boys and they are entirely (ENTIRELY) different.  They were made to work.  They were created for physical exertion.  And they desperately NEED to get out the physical energy.  Also, it is an important sidenote that this will also destroy the Mom Guilt factor when you require them to sit still and be quiet and you’ll be a better trainer and more consistent.

Now, let’s get to the bottom line.

I know what you’re thinking.  I BARELY get done the minimum.  How in the world do I work all this in?

I can almost guarantee if you have untrained preschoolers and toddlers, a huge percentage of your time, more than realize is, in the words of FlyLady, spent “putting out fires.”  In other words, you’re inefficient.

Oh I’m NOT saying you’re not busy!!  Quite the opposite.  I’m saying you’re busy with busy-work and not with what needs to be done.

For example, let’s say you have to make lunch, and in the meantime, Little Junior dumps out the legos, and the play-doh, and tosses the pillows and blankets on the floor in a mini-fort.  After lunch, you have to clean all that up.  If you had had Junior WITH you helping make lunch, none of it would have happened and after lunch you could have read aloud or gotten something else done.   Let’s say your Little Monster, er… Junior doesn’t take “rest” times or naps.  Instead he goes upstairs and you spend the next hour yelling at him to lie down or cleaning up whatever mess he made.  Please, close your eyes and dream with me for a moment….  At 12:30 you tell Junior it’s naptime.  You read to him, kiss him, tuck him in.  In ten minutes, Junior is sleeping and will continue to do so for about 1-2 hours.  And you can concentrate on what you need to do.   Let’s even say Junior isn’t a sleeper…. That’s fine.  My 5yo isn’t a sleeper either.  She has a choice.  She may either quietly look at books or she can sleep.  What she can’t do is get out of her bed, fuss, wake up her little sister in the same room, or in general move for 1.5 hours.  She’s been given a choice – books or sleep.  She may make either choice.

So you’re thinking, “Must be nice…”  And I’m telling you YYYYYYYYEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSSS!  I deeply appreciate what I’ve got.  But please don’t kid yourselves that it came easy.  Ah, no!  The reason why I appreciate it so much is because I had the little terror that wouldn’t nap and would destroy her room and I’d yell upstairs, and occasionally flip out. 😛  And her name was Ana.  And she was awful.  And I only had TWO children and I got less done at naptime than I do now with all of them.

So, how do you train for something like that?  First you exhaust them.  You feed them well.  You create a routine.  And you be CONSISTENT.  You tuck Junior in and you wait, like a cat… Because you know he’s going to do something.  And then you pounce.  🙂  Okay, it’s slightly LESS dramatic than that, but the truth is, correcting behaviour isn’t about waiting until you can’t ignore it.  It’s about catching it right away and correcting it immediately.   It’s setting clear expectations in YOUR head and then training them to it.   It is REASONABLE to expect a five year old to rest or read.  We stop with naptimes when they have graduated to learning phonics.  Then they are expected to do Phonics with me and then quietly look at books.  If I find they are not old enough to do this, they revert back to naptime.  This includes whispering.  I LOVE my naptimes and I will not give them up.  I refuse.  It’s a hard and fast and necessary rule to making our house work smoothly… Or at least as smoothly as it does, lol.

After nap?  Snack, activity, lots of outdoor time.  Our afternoons are FAR less structured than our mornings.  But they cannot have lower expectations for behaviour.

Our chore charts turned out beautifully by the way.  I think I gave the inspiration link on these a couple posts ago.  The “check-off” pictures attach via velcro.  A hint?  Buy the velcro dots at somewhere OTHER than the fabric store… They were expensive!

The chore charts were made from Googled images and Excel, very simple.  We also made Activity cards to go into each child’s folder.  The activity cards – again Googled images and Excel.  We cut them out, laminated them, and all was well.

I’ll add pictures in the next post as I can’t get the camera to work right now.

Timothy was a good little boy…  A very active, energetic, slightly frenetic, albeit creative little BOY.  His mama loved Timothy very much… Most days.  But it always seemed as though the occasional, odd day would come along that sweet Timothy would seem to get into everything.

Poor Timothy.  He just didn’t understand.  He was only trying to help.  Why did Mama have that funny look on her face?  Why did her mouth get all tight around the edges and her eyebrows furrow together like that?  Why did she look like she wanted to say something…. But didn’t.   It was because Timmy’s mommy was biting on her very own tongue.

Timothy isn’t much of a sleeper.  As a matter of fact, some might call him an “early bird.”  Rising at the crack of dawn each day, Timothy, our sweet little hard workin’ boy was raring to go from the first light… Some times even earlier than that.  Many days it was before Mama had had her coffee.  And Mama desperately needed a full cup of coffee in order to be prepared to take on the day a la Timmy.  And, even more amazing than Timmy’s ability to wake early even though Mama was shockingly quiet, was his ability to tiptoe down the stairs and into the kitchen with no one hearing him.

But, never fear, if there was one thing Timothy was good at – it was making coffee!  Oh yes!  Coffee was Timmy’s specialty.  He would get out her favorite mug.  He knew she liked it ‘specially well because even though he had dropped it, and broken off the handle, and chipped it, she refused to throw it away.  And he KNEW she really LOVED creamer, because you should see the absolute FIT she’d throw when he’d drink it all up in a cup.  Oh, yes, Mama loved her creamer.  A good, strong shot of creamer, some coffee… What else could Mama want?  Cocoa!  Mama always loved it when Daddy made her cocoa!  But why was his so lumpy?  Daddy’s cocoa didn’t look like that.  Oh well.  Timmy figured he’d just cover it up with a bit of whipped cream!  Oh drat!  Why did it always have to stick to the spoon like that?  Just shake it harder.  Whooops.  We’ll wipe that up later.  Oh Mama is going to be thrilled.

(Little Timmy takes the coffee into Mama’s computer room.  Mama is indeed…. um, well… speechless.)

 

 

Disclaimer: Even though the author does indeed have a sweet little four year old son Timothy, she vehemently denies that the boy in the story bears any resemblance to her son.  All events in the episodes of stories about Timothy are indeed fictionalized.  Any such similarities to events or persons are purely coincidental.  Mmmhmmm….

And thank you Judith Viorst for writing the truly original Alexandar and The…  as we’ve enjoyed it over and over and over again.  Gosh, I wonder why.

Entry 2?

Yes, it’s true.  They didn’t know you could MAKE play-doh.  Sigh.  Briana and CJ were telling the little ones, “We never had boughten play-doh.  Mama always made ours.”  Um, yes, that would be a guilt trip you hear.  So, Tuesday, we made play-doh!

Bless the genius who thought of using Kool-Aid to “scent” the play-doh, because not only did I get points for making the play-doh but it was SCENTED!  Rebecca was absolutely over the moon with this and spent THREE hours yesterday playing with our play-doh.  We only made three colors. (It was supposed to be four, but who knew the “berry” kool-aid in the BLUE packaging would color my play-doh pink?)  But, it didn’t matter.  She was thrilled.  Rebecca really likes to use her hands and just function a little in her own world.  (That’s another post someday.)  But, it was neat to see her busy at work and showing off her creations.  I’ll post pictures sometime today!

The Play-Doh Recipe:

Per Color:

2 cups of flour
1/2 cup of salt
1 tablespoon of oil
1 tablespoon cream of tartar
1 package of kool-aid
Stir well into a large sauce pan.  Add to this:
2 cups of very hot water
Food Coloring if you choose
Stir over med./low heat until it loses it’s stickiness and forms a large ball.

Then go have fun with your little ones!  I give you permission to put off the dishes, ignore the laundry, and let the dust settle!

That’s right.  It’s February.  It’s when all of us stereotypical homeschool moms expecting a large tax refund because we have a dozen children buy our curriculum. 😛  It’s said tongue in cheek but there is more than a little truth to it!

So after MUCH torture, a lot of research, even more second guessing, I’m made a decision.  (Drum roll, please.)

 

Tapestry of Grace Year 2

Tapestry of Grace Year 2

It was no easy decision.  My criteria was stiff.  We’ve followed The Well Trained Mind (loosely) for years.  I firmly believe the Classical Method of education has much to offer.  I prefer it in a more Charlotte Mason format than how Susan Wise Bauer outlines it in TWTM, but all in all, I think it offers children the best education.  That said, I’ve found it more and more difficult to accomplish.  Could the six children being born in just under eight years have contributed to that?  Possibly. 

I will say that I chose this curriculum based on my oldest two children.  Last year we did Sonlight.  I’ll say right now I think Sonlight is excellent.   I had drooled over it a lot before we bought it.  But, when it got here and I had chosen three different Cores because my children just weren’t able to combine.  We had a VERY academic 12 year old, a 9 year old, and a 6 year old.  It just wasn’t working because I wanted to discuss the books, do all the read alouds, and do it at my pace.  Sonlight is VERY well laid out… down to the day as a matter of fact and I’m not that organized.  I don’t like daily plans, they are very constrictive to me.  And I didn’t like reading aloud 3-4 hours a day. 

What I’m hoping Tapestry of Grace will offer me.  Well, for one, they offer weekly plans.  Their discussion lessons are loose, based on a general subject, not specific, so that you can supplement books to their program and not just use only their spines.  It’s really MEANT to be supplemented and I love that as we are constantly getting books from the library on every topic that comes up.  Second, it is the single most combinable curriculum I’ve ever seen.  When you get to Lampstand Press which is their bookstore, it’s going to ask you what year.  And then it will show you ALL the books for each learning level.  This is one year, customized to each level, and they all fit together.  The weekly suggestions are all right there for you in the single curriculum, by level.  Which means, that at a glance, I’ll be able to lay out plans for my 7yo, my 9yo, and my 12yo. 

I’m NOT thrilled at making my own lesson plans.  But I have such great Excel spreadsheets drawn up from doing it for the past eight years, I’m sure I’ll manage.  More importantly it’s about tweaking it to our family.  And it’s really built for multi-ages, not just an after thought. 

 

I am NOT doing this with our little ones.  I think like most Moms of Many (MOMYS) we often feel pulled in two separate directions.  We have to do school with the olders and middles by necessity.  And it feels as though the littles don’t get the same Mama Time that the first half did when they were little. 

Little Hands to Heaven by Heart of Dakota

Little Hands to Heaven by Heart of Dakota

Little Hands to Heaven is a complete preschool program that includes:

  • letter recognition
  • letter formation
  • letter sounds and motions
  • early math skills
  • Bible activities
  • devotional topics
  • art projects
  • dramatic plays
  • active exploration
  • finger plays
  • music

More importantly, it’s just plain fun and gives me a chance to play with and giggle with my littles.  Rebecca is just at the very top end of the age range and I know it won’t challenge her much, but she’ll enjoy the stories and the songs and the Mama time and Abigail and Timothy will be able to do it as well.  Rebecca is a little girl that LOVES to “do” school and while I’m not fond of workbooks, she loves them.  So we’ll round her out with a little Italics workbook and with Explode the Code and of course, we always use The Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading.  

I’m still up at arms about Science, but quite honestly we do a LOT of hands on science and science reading, so I’ll figure it out.  Right now it’s just a relief to have a decision made.  Now, we only have to get through the wait for our boxes!  Time to clear a shelf!  Uh oh…….