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.

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.

 

 

So sorry I’m so late posting this morning!  Woke up to no internet!  Apparently it was just one of those flukey things.  So, it’s all fixed thanks to our very nice cable man and I am grateful.  Now, I have to go work on something very special.  But, I promise to show you what it is soon.  Have a great weekend!

Reprint Friday everyone!  This is a reprint from my old blog dated July 15, 2008… Enjoy and have a lovely weekend

Yesterday was a bit of a… hmmm?  What’s that word?  Revelation!  That’s it. That’s the word I’m looking for!

Yesterday was our first day of school.  July in Iowa is sticky, hot, and sticky… Did I mention sticky?  So, we started school and we’ll take a break in late fall when the weather is gorgeous again.  So, new curriculum, new schedule, and new kids.  Well, okay, same kids, but I was hoping for at least the magical transformation of my three year old into this lovely, obedient preschooler.  Didn’t quite happen….

So here I am on Day 2.  I’m behind, lol, and I wonder, “How can that be?  How can I be behind on the SECOND day of school?”

See this year we are taking a new approach.  I’ve always made our own lesson plans, pulling eclectically from a hodge podge of materials that I’ve chosen based on merit.  This year, in a state of utter exhaustion, and admitting I’m not SuperWoman (who knew?!) I went with Sonlight.  Whew boy!  Didn’t QUITE realize *I* would be reading aloud 2-3 hours a day at a bare minimum…. (Three cores, yeah, that was genius.)

Yesterday was absolutely filled with revelations… Just one after another.

I sat here today sorting books and we’ve just recently picked up several of Mrs. Piggle Wiggle’s books.  And I found myself a bit resentful to be honest.  When we started reading Mrs. Piggle Wiggle I was reading rather intently, with the wild idea that I’d get something useful out of it.  You know you must be over your head a bit when you have a child’s book in front of you with a funny little woman on the front and you’re hoping beyond hope that SHE will have the secret to heeling your three year old.  Wrong.  Just wrong.  So as I put away these books this morning I really thought she was mocking me a bit from the cover.  She should be grateful she didn’t find herself in the trash can as I couldn’t find much use for her…  powders and candy.  If only.

My second thought came as I RE-sorted all the math manipulatives.  Our three year old (Noticing a trend?) came up with the delightful idea of playing with the lacing beads, attribute blocks, dominoes, stamps, pencils, paint brushes, and lacing animals… all at one time, in one big pile. 

And the thought occurs to me that “Quiverfull” is kind of like buying a timeshare.  Oh, it looks good on the brochure.  The cuddly, big family, curled in front of the fire… I think they use the SAME brochure.  But about ten years down the line……..  It just takes on a bit of a different look and you’re thinking, “Hmmm… would I have bought into this if I had known what I know now?”

Ahhhh…  In all seriousness I adore my children, with the exception of above mentioned three year old.  But I will be the first to admit there are days, lately, of utter exhaustion.  Those lovely moms of many know just what I mean!   Apparently, simply based on the fact that I get pregnant easily, this does indeed qualify me for Mom of the Year.  We have two olders (planned) 12 and 9.  Then, with Quiverfull conviction securely in hand, we’ve had the last six in seven years. 🙂  So now, they are trained well enough that I can take all of them in public with me.  And people are fairly certain that because they are all dressed, wearing shoes, and I look reasonably sane, that I really must be this amazing, fantastical mama, with a heart of gold and unlimited patience.  As I am not terribly fond of hypocrisy, I try to explain to them that this is simply not so and that I am a mama just like everyone else who does indeed occasionally lose her marbles.  This is of course then hurrahed as humbleness and I’m even more wonderful than before.

Let it be said here and now…  I am not SuperMama.  My kids would laugh at the very idea!

So, now that I’ve set the situation up for you, here’s the rest of the background.  We have really great older kids.  They’re wonderful. We adore them.  They are the kind of kids you LIKE to spend time with.  To about age 4.  We love our resident four year old VERY much.  She’s an absolute delight.  But, age three NEVER fails to disappoint…  We pretty much hate age three.  Bring on the two year olds, but I don’t like three.  It is inevitably at age three they discover they have opinions.  Generally, contrary to my own.  And at about age three, I always have a new baby…  (When don’t I have a new baby, my mom would say.)   So, despite the fact that I’ve gone through this several times, I see my sweet, adorable two year olds and assume that THIS child will not go through this willfull, naughty stage, and we spoil them to death.  Only to pay for this six months later. 

We’re at that stage.  Add in one potty training 22 month old, and one needy infant and mama NEEDED to get out of the house last week.

So, we get dressed and we head to the park.  We’re all in high spirits, congratulating ourselves on being dressed and out of the house by about 9:00 when the weather is still cool.  And as we walk we bump into an older mom, pushing her three year old in a stroller.   Now, I’m in a great mood, but I’m wiped out and you know, you just know you’re having one of those days when….

Other Mom:  “How many of them are yours?”

Me: “All of them!”  Big smile

Other Mom: “Wow! I don’t know how you do it.”

Me: “Oh, it’s not so bad.  They’re good kids.”

Other Mom: “You must be Mom of the Year.”

Me: “Why?”  And realize this is said in genuine shock and a little horror mingled with true confusion.   There.  That was my genius answer. 

It never ceases to befuddle me why people think we just have it all figured out because we’ve had LOTS of kids.  Like because I’ve been bestowed with children, I’ve also been bestowed with endless wisdom… Don’t I wish it? !

Truth is, the more children I have, the more sure I am that I don’t know it all.  I always joke that when we had our first, I was pretty sure I knew it all about parenting.  After all, I had read all the books and we were doing everything right.   With the birth of number two, I just KNEW that I knew it all.  I had two, both of them keepers.  With the birth of our fourth, who was a very high needs baby, I began to suspect that we might not know as much as we thought we did.   Then came number five… a baby who had constant diahhrea until I stopped breastfeeding, a baby who turned into a toddler who was VERY behaviourally challenged until we stopped giving her soy.  (WHO KNEW?!)  It was then and there I admitted I didn’t know much at all.  As a matter of fact, there were days when I considered it a miracle that I hadn’t left any behind somewhere.

Okay, okay, so the quiverfull brochure has lost some of it’s charm.  I did about seven loads of laundry yesterday and I’m ALMOST caught up.  I am using THREE, count ’em, THREE Cores in Sonlight this year.  I have a 7th grader, a 4th grader, a 1st grader, a K, a Pre-K, a potty training almost two year old, and one seriously high needs newborn that lives in her Moby…  THIS was NEVER on the brochure. 

But, I also have one really neat daughter who is almost a teenager and I love her more than I ever did as a baby because she is absolutely fascinating to me.  I have a 9 yo boy who loves to take care of his Mama and loves God.  I have a 6yo who is a delight and makes me smile every single day.   I have a 4yo who is just never upset, always happy, and smiles the biggest smiles.  My three year old, while not well behaved lol, is very umm… creative.  The two year old makes me think every day, “Thank you God that we didn’t stop having children.  How would I live without her?”  (I still think this EVERY SINGLE DAY and she’s 2.5 now. )  She brings me joy every minute of the day… even cleaning up puddles.  And this high needs newborn…  Sometimes I think maybe she is an amazing blessing as well.  If she wasn’t so fussy how would I have an excuse to hold her all day in a family this size?  She’s in her Moby now, snuggled tight into me, snoring soft baby snores, and blissfully asleep.  She has soft woolly newborn hair, and soft, sweet smelling, newborn skin.   And while this may not be what I THOUGHT I was signing up for…  While it is SO much more work than I ever would have wanted…  While I go to bed every night wiped out and wake up in the morning with a long list of “To Do” options, it is so much better than I could have ever dreamed.

How does that quote go?

I’m not what I should be, but by the Grace of God, I’m not what I was.

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!