Monday, February 27, 2017

Alice in Wonderland : Poetry teatime

You can do a poetry tea time ANY way you want!  You could do a picnic poetry time, or go to starbucks, or not have tea but have some other favorite snacks instead.

Today I chose to go with an Alice in Wonderland theme because my 5 year old happens to be really interested in all things Alice in Wonderland.  She wanted me to read her the book and we have watched many movie versions of it as well.

When coming up with ideas I go with the ones that will be the easiest (in my opinion) and that will have the biggest impact.  So, the "eat me" and "Drink me" and letting them come up with a costume if they wanted was basically the full plan, but a I will talk about a few other details as well for people to see how this rolls out in real life.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Party School! & 11th Birthday

This picture is still hanging up!
We have always loved read aloud books!  My favorite part of doing school is reading aloud to my kids and back in the day, that was almost entirely picture books of course.  At some point when my oldest was about 8 I started reading other choices like the "Little House on the Prairie" series, and all the Narnia books.  At first I had to stop often when I saw their interest drifting and "set the scene" as I called it.  I would stop and ask if they knew what was going on.  Somehow they'd gotten lost so I re-capped for them.  I would describe how the setting looked and whatever was going on that was such a big deal in the story!  Generally as they listened to the re-cap they were then re-engaged so they wanted to hear more of the story! Also, beginning with the Narnia books I started adding in watching the movie versions and listening to the audio versions that I could find to go along with reading the stories as we read the seires!  It just made sense that they could follow the books and enjoy them more if I could engage their imaginations in more ways than just my own voice.  We talked about how the movie versions were different from the books and in what ways.  Some things we discovered we liked more in the movie versions and some parts we enjoyed more in the books.  Last year we read through "Heidi" and watched ALL (and I mean all!) the movie versions we could along with documentaries about the Alps!  Their absolute favorite part of the book that they quoted over and over was never in the movie version as satisfactorily.  Last fall we started reading the Harry Potter series aloud and watched the movies after each book.  Some great talking points came up and going deep with my kids in conversation as we enjoyed these together!  The movies lose so much of the whimsy that is in the books, but again, it is great to observe these things and enjoy them in different ways.  We finished the series in January near my oldest daughters 11th birthday and she wanted to have a Harry Potter theme party!  What better time to continue this literature rich adventure than with a party!  It was epic, but at the same time actually pretty easy to set up.  I will share my secrets to setting it up with ease. ;)

Fun-schooling: the Early Years

Too often, people think that academic learning and school should be hard.  Like if it isn't hard and tedious then they aren't actually learning.  Yet, in reality we should work to the level of success!  

We should find every day life and interests to enjoy together.

Tie books to movies to games to art to field trips.

Be curious with your child about things they find in nature.

If they have a question you can say the truth that you don't know and google it to find the answer together!

Grab a huge stack of books from the library on a subject and don't worry about reading through them all.  Flip through or skip parts or read as much as they wish for.

I so often focus my research and homeschooling efforts into my oldest (because she is the one in the front to usher in each new stage!) that I got to thinking how I don't write as often about what I have been doing or have planned for my youngest.  She will be 6 in a few months and mostly has been benefiting from what I do with my older two.  I have done so much research over the past 7 years because of homeschooling my oldest, and we have tried several different curriculum choices.  Only now I feel like I've finally found our sweet spot and after all that testing and research (and research again!) and testing some more.  I feel like I can recommend my favorite choices!  BUT, the point isn't to do what works for other people, but to find what works for you and your family.  So, just know this is what works for us!  I hope it helps other people as well, but you are on your own journey and it will look different from mine.

Monday, January 16, 2017

December Traditions and Ideas

Next year I will likely forget the ideas I tried this year so I'll blog about it just for my own records. :)
I bought gift boxes from the dollar store (the smaller ones were in a multiple set for a dollar!) so that I'd have 24 total boxes that I could fill with books and crafts and such!  Each day the girls got to open one and the first few weeks this was absolutely wonderful, but it did get a little old in the week leading up till christmas.  I might do a 12 days before Christmas or something else to make it shorter.  Maybe just week days and not weekends?  I don't know, it needs more tweaking.  :)

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Coloring Pages

I have made several coloring pages for my girls and wanted to share them!
 You can print them from this link.---  CHRISTMAS COLORING!
Enjoy, and Merry Christmas from our family to yours!
My coloring buddy and me.  After seeing me make some coloring pages she started making her own and giving them out!  First we worked together and now she is making them alone. :)

Friday, December 02, 2016

Story writing contest for kids!

My 10 year old (resistant reader/writer) wrote a story for this contest!  I played editor as any professional writer would have and now her story is on Youtube with some others as well!  If she gets lots of "thumbs up" on her video then she might win a prize.  Just doing this project has been encouraging and helpful to her, but obviously it would be encouraging to win a prize too.  She also has the book they show at the end and has writen more stories independently in it!  It is so encouraging to see her actually enjoy writing.

The full list of stories read aloud with pictures is linked here and below (everyone had the same pictures to choose from and base their story off of.)  Listen and watch and like your favorites!

Lily's story is called "Our Adventure in Photos, by Me, Cliff Pony"
The whole list is here - Thinking Tree Writing Contest 2016:

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thanksgiving coloring pages!

 I made a couple coloring pages for my own kids and their friends for thanksgiving just now!  And hopefully it will be easy for anyone to copy/save the pictures from here and print them out for your own kids.   I know how kids tend to get a little whiny when waiting for food!  ... or they could even be used for that adult relative that gets a little whiny while waiting.  ;)
Anyway, I made them myself and am giving you all permission to save and print as many as you want to use (obviously not to sell) for your own Thanksgiving gathering!

Enjoy!  And Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

A Look Inside and a Life of Learning

I shared briefly in the previous post about this pocket journal, but it was brand new and I hadn't gotten a chance to use it yet! It has a different feel than some of the others so is worth some extra attention.

My 8 year old thought it looked amazing and she wanted to use it right away, but I personally think it would work best for possibly 6th grade and higher or for a child who loves to read a lot and isn't as into the coloring and drawing and much.  The small size makes it feel more doable and less intimidating for children who don't enjoy writing as much, or for adults who want a book to guide their own studies but don't have a ton of time to put towards them.

This post will give you a peek inside this journal and how it can look to use it, but since I was the one using it, I will also share how it can be used for a mom book.  Or some people say "awesome adulting" or other people call it being an example, or modeling how to learn for our kids.  Whatever you want to call enjoying being an adult and learning what YOU want to learn is what I am going to talk about.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Thinking Tree books in Categories! (& Ideas for using them!)

 We have loved using the Thinking Tree books for over a year now (and longer if you include the Dyslexia Games books that we have used on and off for about 3 years too!  Which started back when I was learning about Right Brain dominant learners.)

There are SO many books by them and they are a different style than we are used to seeing (great for the right brain dominant learners!) But that can make it confusing to know which to pick.  I thought it would be helpful to share some ideas about the types of books (in categories) and a few ideas on how someone could plan to use them.

Many people have wondered how these books work and how they can use them.  I've broken the books down into a rough 8 categories to make it easier for people to see what types of books are available.

Poetry Teatimes Continue! (And my Poem about it!)

We have been doing "Poetry teatimes" for long enough now that we have started writing our own poetry at the end almost every time!  It might be silly or short or not that great, but still it is fun and a great creative time.