Sonlight Core B (Core 1): Week 7

Hmmm - so I'm not very good at updating our Sonlight hands-on activities! Sorry. Miss Precious, though small, has caused my free time to shrink to almost nothing.

Here's what we did for week 7:

Animals of the World
  • Listen to rainforest sounds
  • Watch video of Anteaters
  • Giant Anteaters mini book
    • Walk on our knuckles: Anteaters walk on knuckles
    • Try to get candy out of bottle using our tongue. Now try again with straw: Anteaters’ nose allows them to go deep into the ant nest
    • Blindfold and look for something by smell: Anteaters find things by smell; eyesight is not good
  • Read Soaring with the Wind by Gail Gibbons
  • Do Eagles Nest & National Symbols minibooks from HSS

Houses and Homes
  • Try handwashing some socks or other items of clothing like the Indian women did.
  • Do the Follow thePlan activity
  • Read Alphabet City and A Year in the City
  • Make our own city
Akebu to Zapotec:
  • Locate Papua New Guinea on the map. Do minibook
  • Talk about how the Elkei people live in the jungle. Color some jungle pics
  • Color flag and put on poster
  • The country has amazing butterflies. Make a butterfly craft

    Teaching Preschoolers: My Notes, Part A

    I'm reading the best book right now: Mommy, Teach Me! Preparing Your Child for a Lifetime of Learning. It's got so many great thought and ideas on how to practically implement Montessori ideas in a homeschool setting. I wish I'd read this 2 kids ago! Here's some of my notes I'm taking as I read the book (only 3 chapters in at the moment) in case you're interested:

    Observation is important. I need to take time, even if just 2 minutes here and there to watch my kids and ask some of the following questions:
    • What does she like to do and how could we adapt it to create more learning opportunities?
    • What activities help him stay calm and focused?
    • What frustrates him, distracts her, makes her worried?
    • What produces a feeling of accomplishment? What a feeling of discouragement?
    • What brings out her best? What brings out her worst?
    • What hurts her feelings? What encourages her?

    My example is so important! I need to observe myself to find actions that aren’t good examples and conversely, begin to exhibit actions that are models for them to imitate.

    And what about my attitudes? My children don’t need a harried, distracted, depressed and frustrated mother. They need someone that’s patient, focused and filled with the joy of the Lord (key to remember - not my joy...His.)

    God gave children a drive to become independent that starts quite young! When they do something annoying, messy, etc. (like trying to pour the milk themselves), don’t react in anger and frustration. They’re not being bad and you don’t want them to feel like they are. If your child shows a desire to learn something and isn’t quite ready, find a way to get him there.

    Life is rushed, but it’s vitally important that we slow down and give a child time to learn how to master things himself. “Children are born imitators.The best way to avoid spills and messes is not by keeping everything out of their hands, but by using exaggerated care in the little things they watch us do and then giving them opportunities to join.”

    Find ways to encourage my children in independence. As they learn to tell time, give them a clock to let them regulate their own schedule. Teach them to make food for themselves, and then have them do it!

    Need help with toddler activities?

    I love my 2yo Mr. Moose. He gives the sweetest hugs, makes the cutest faces and delights his family with the funny things he says. As he's hit the big 2, I've noticed a marked change in his attention span and interest. He sits longer for books, is picking up more info like colors and numbers and wants to do more "speyschul" (special) activities with Mommy.

    And that's a problem.

    I'm running low on "special" activity ideas that fit his developmental stage and energy levels. We've been doing a different type of sensory bin every 2 weeks (confetti, flour, rice, oatmeal, etc.) and I've been emphasizing colors more, but other than that, it's just been a lot of trucks, trains and dirt.

    That's why I was SO excited to discover this toddler curriculum tonight. For each month of the year, there are simple, theme based activities grouped by week. How fun! And these types of activities are perfect for my little guy. Not heavy on the "learn this shape, learn this number" like so many of the tot time stuff is. Just fun books, games & crafts that are theme based so that I can start introducing him more in depth to the beautiful, amazing world around us. Hope you find it useful.

    Sonlight Core B (Core 1): Week 6

    Ahhh. I'm sitting in Panera, sipping a soda, enjoying a bagel and getting a few quiet minutes to myself. I've been reading through others' blogs and thought, "I should update my own blog as well!" So, here's our latest round of activities for week 6 of Sonlight. I actually took pictures this week, but don't have my memory stick with  me. Maybe I'll add them later...

    Houses & Homes:
    • Made a project from The Ultimate Building Book. We made a newspaper strut teepee. The first version kept collapsing and testing my sanity. The second version (with much stronger struts) lasted 2 days and restored my faith in my engineering abilities. 
    • Played "Build a House" online game
    • Made igloos with marshmallows and toothpicks. Fun idea in theory. It was a disaster in practice. Our igloos looked more like teepees (according to Happiness), but at least they were fun to eat.
    • Looked at pictures of Coober Pedy
    • Created our own underground homes out of sheets and blankets.
    World of Animals:
    • Read Littlest Llama - excellent living book on the wildlife in the Andes mountains
    • Watched video of leaf cutter ants
    • Created a rainforest canopy poster. The girls got to each choose an animal from each layer of the rainforest. We then found coloring pages for those animals, and while I was creating the canopy poster, they colored there pictures. Mr. Moose even got in on the fun and colored his own Toucan. He was very excited to add it to the poster. 
    Homer Price:
    • Created a large ball of string (actually, we didn't do this. I had planned it, but forgot to buy string in advance!)
    • Created a safe bug trap 

    Sight Word Games

    Sight words are hard for me to teach...but not as hard to play! Happiness and I are working through a sight word list, so I've been compiling a list of games to be the proverbial "spoonful of sugar" to help these words get learned! Thought I would share some of the game resources for others:

    If you've come across any great sight word games/activities, share them here. I'm always looking for more ideas.

      Chinese language learning resources

      Part of our 2011/2012 curriculum is learning Mandarin Chinese using Usborne's 1000 Chinese Words. I'm keeping my goals quite low - hopefully by next May we'll know somewhere around 40-60 vocabulary words and will be using them on a regular basis.

      Here's some resources I recently discovered that might be useful to others:
      Any resources you've discovered for learning Chinese? If so, share them with me and I'll add them to this page. 

        More math game fun

        Just to let you know there's a whole host of new game links added to my Early Elementary Math Games page. If your kids are like mine, they find games addictive and don't even realize they're learning! Hah! If only they knew...

        Want to be a SAHM and a freelance writer?

        Just sent off an e-mail with some advice to another mom who is trying to increase her freelance writing pay, and thought I should post it here as well. Maybe there are others who would be interested. Nothing really profound or deep in my advice...just some resources that I've found helpful:

        Hey, M-. Well, I would say ramping up your income is a bit of a slow process, as you must build your clip portfolio and locate new employers. Here's some resources I'd encourage you to explore:

        • I really do get good work from The biggest thing with finding work here is you HAVE to be picky. Only apply for jobs you're genuinely interested in and only apply at the rate you want to make. If the employer doesn't want to pay that, move on. NEVER waste your time on the millions of low paying jobs that are listed on there.
        • Have you looked into magazine writing? Get an online subscription to the magazine guidelines and start pitching mags. Doing that is where my career really took a giant step forward, and now that I have magazine writing experience, I can command a higher pay.
        • Read this blog:  Lots of great stuff.
        • Read this book: Writer's Digest Handbook of Magazine Article Writing
        • Find a writing niche - what do you know and what are you good at?
        • Pursue copywriting. There's very good money in that, and I've only scratched the surface of that market myself - not enough time in the day and too many little kids to corral! But if I was serious about generating more income, I'd pursue that without a doubt.
        I hope that helps. As I'm sure you've discovered, it takes a good bit of work to get good work! But it does pay off. Good luck!

        Sonlight Core B (Core 1): Week 5

        We're having so much fun in our Sonlight journey! One of the most successful aspects of my pre-planning has definitely been the Notebooking pages. The girls love their notebooks and love adding to it each week. Soon I'll do a post about Sonlight Notebooking and how we've implemented it. Now here's the extras for Week 5:

        Houses & Homes:
        • Try to do some school using walkie-talkies, just like farm kids in Australian outback
        • Watch Farm Dog Martha
        • Have other farm books to look at, as well as activities from theNC Dept. of Agriculture Coloring Book
        • Use wikistix to build reed house frame, then do some paper weaving to make the walls.
        • Look through The Ultimate Building Book together and find a project or two to tackle next week.
        World of Animals:
        Homer Price, Chps 1-3
        Before sharing the extras we're doing with Homer Price, I've got to give credit to where credit is due. I got my ideas from a very creative homeschool mom who posted them on her blog as part of their FIAR study. Check out her full list of Homer Price activities.

        Summertime Filler Ideas!

        Well, the heat is turned up outside and the AC inside, and thanks to the fast approaching due date of our little girl, we're basically stuck to the AC environment. Outside is no fun...maybe in a few weeks....maybe...anyway, until then, I've been trying to come up with activities that my girls can do inside (or outside with limited supervision). Here's some of the ideas I've got in the queue. Hope they can be of help to you!


        Popsicle Bracelets

        Sound Eggs

        Homemade Pinata - DO

        Celebrate Spring - Hop Counting

        Homemade Silly Putty
        Sun Tea to go
        31 days of Summer Fun ideas

        Pardon the formatting

        Please pardon the funky formatting of the blog at the moment...I just added a new template, but don't have the time to tweak it as necessary...really, it will look better eventually. I promise!

        Sonlight Core B (or 1): Week 4

        Why did Sonlight have to change core names on me? That's so confusing...though I'm sure there's a method to their madness. Well, whatever the case, here's my list of hands-on activities we'll be doing for Core B's fourth week. (And I should note, I'm using the 5 day schedule, but only schooling for 4 days each week. Thus, ever so slowly, my weeks are becoming different than Sonlight's weeks!)

        Peoples of the World / Houses & Homes:
        • During breakfast, listen to a variety of world music and discuss the different sounds! Spanish guitar, Arabic Ud, Sitar, Bagpipes, Indonesian xylophone, African drums
        • Watch video of flamenco dancing.
        • Notebooking: Put different types of houses on the timelines.
        • Use modeling clay and construct some houses for show & tell!
        • Mud is everywhere! Easy for anyone to build with. Create some mud bricks in ice trays. Put them in the sun to dry. Later, use them to make a structure.
        • As we learn about tents in Houses and Homes, we can also read this go-along - Amelia Bedelia Goes Camping  
        Animals of the World
        • Watch video about baby loggerhead turtles
        • Read One Tiny Turtle
        • Give each girl 8 cards, each containing one of the living things from the science game below.
        • Play Food Chain Game. Let them both click on the living things.
        • Then, as read about each of the animals, have them lay out their cards to represent who eats who in the food chain. Then finish the online game. 
        • Play Camouflage game

          Scholastic eBooks for $1.00!

          There's a great sale going on at right now. Through Memorial Day weekend, you can get tons of eBooks for the same price as a cheap toy at the Dollar Store...and much better quality too! I've purchased several of their eBooks in the past and have loved them. And many of the books are regularly much higher priced. So let your fingers run on over there!    To see the books eligible for this sale, you can go here.

          Creating a Circle Time Board

          As part of our morning routine during kindergarten/preschool, we would fill in dates on a calendar, look at our art picture of the week (from Artistic Pursuits) and memorize a Scripture verse. I transferred this to our bulletin board eventually and it became a mini-circle time.  The girls enjoyed this morning ritual, and the routine of it got us all into "school" mode.

          As we're beginning first grade / kindergarten, I've decided to take our circle time routine to the next level! I got quite a bit of inspiration for it from Jolanthe over at Homeschool Creations (And quite a bit of material from her free printables!). It took a while for me to figure out exactly what I wanted to include and what wasn't necessary for us at this time.

          Once I came up with what our circle time should cover, then it was time to create! I went to Wal-Mart, bought a $8 display board (which my 6yo promptly cracked once I got home - aargh!) and some velcro stickers, then went to work. It took a while to get my layout set, but I'm pretty happy with it overall! It includes:
          • Scripture memory poster (We're doing Psalm 1, per Sonlight's suggestion)
          • Daily weather chart (from Homeschool Creations)
          • A spot for our weekly art study picture
          •  Skip-counting facts to review (again, from Jolanthe's site)
          • Days we've been in school (Jolanthe yet again - this is to help my girls get a better grasp on 1s, 10s, 100s, etc)
          • A spot for the poster we're going to make each week for our unit study based on From Akebu to Zapotec (Another Sonlight curriculum resource)
          • Our Chinese vocabulary flashcards
          • A spot for my girls to display one of their pictures from the week (they like to show off their work!)
          And that's it! Anyone else do circle time? I'd love to see pics and hear more about how you've implemented this type of school routine. 

          FIAR: Storm in the Night

          Well, the end of my planned school year is upon us. To fill in the time between now and when we start Sonlight, I've decided to do some Five in a Row units, mainly inspired by the incredible creativity of Angela over at Kinderdays. As I looked long and hard to find ideas to to fit my girls' interests and learning level, I thought I might as well share it with all of you.

          Day One:
          • Read Storm in the Night
          • What are the girls afraid of? Talk about, then memorize Psalm 27:1 and paste in lapbook.
          • Art: Leaf through the book together and point out the blue darkness contrasted with the white raindrops. Paint different shades of blue on watercolor paper. After it dries, use white chalk to make raindrops.
          • Science: Read Like a Hundred Drums & Thunder & Lightning
          Day Two:
          • Read Storm in the Night again. This time, look at the expressions on everyone’s face. What does each expression signify?
          • Art: Read Walter Was Worried - Then draw our own expressions and put in lapbook.
          • Science: Read Flash, Crash Thunder & Roll.
            • Talk about what we should do during a thunderstorm, whether inside or out. Put our answers in minibook (on harddrive)
            • Using a fan, talk about the different levels of wind.
            • Make a weathervane to measure from which way the wind blows
            • Go fly a kite!
          Day Three:
          • Read Storm in the Night. This time have the girls listen for words they don’t know the meaning of. Then we’ll write them in their book, along with a definition!
          • Read The Cloud Book by DePaola.
          • Make a Cloud art book:
          • Talk about the age difference between Thomas and his Grandfather. What is the age difference between the girls and various adults they know? Make a minibook, and use the abacus to record the results!
          • Cut out and add this aging pictures to lapbook
          • Play Weather Match Three

          Sonlight Core 1: Week 3

          Another week of hands-on activities. Post a link to your own blog here if you're also doing Sonlight Core 1.

          Peoples of the World
          From Akebu to Zapotec
          • Locate Bhutan on the map.
          • Color a picture of Bhutan’s flag to add to Bropka poster.
          • Do the “Where are the Himalyans” minibook (From
          • Show picture of plateaus farms. Then use legos build our own. Take pic and add to poster. 
          World of Animals

          Get Free Scholastic Books

          This is an exciting deal - I love free books. Go to the Learn & Earn site, then have your child complete several Scholastic activity sheets. Send them in with the redemption form, and you'll receive up to 5 free books. The activities (at least for the 5-6 year olds) look easy, so it's not a complicated process. Enjoy!

          Sonlight Core 1: Week 2

          Here's the list of hands-on activities we're going to do for week 2. Please e-mail me or leave a comment if you have any further suggestions!

          Peoples of the World:
          • Read Now We Can Have a Wedding
          • Talk about what foods looked good, what foods looked bad.
          • From sheets bought at Goodwill, dress up in sarongs, saris and turbans. Take pictures and put in Notebook.
          • Paint our faces or coloring book faces, then take pictures! 
          World of Animals
          • Watch Lights, Camera & Highspeed Action
          • Read Hungry Animals
          • Place your animal cutouts from the story onto different colored squares. Start with any animal and then put what animal you think would hunt it in the square next to it or place an animal you think it would hunt in the square before it. Do all animals eat other animals (carnivores)? Do all animals eat plants (herbivores)? Do some animals eat both (omnivores)? Now, try putting the animals into three columns according to what kind of food they eat!
          • Animals senses: Hearing - Play "What Is This Sound?" and "Guess Who I Am?"
          • Senses: Bug eyesight - Make a mosaic picture to illustrate how bugs see

          Gardening Unit: Days 4-6

          It's been a busy two weeks, so I haven't had time to get the last half of our plants & gardens unit study up. Finally, here it is:

          Day Four:
          • Circle Time: Look at lapbook and review what we’ve learned so far.
          • Read Pumpkin Town and What Kinds of Seeds are These
          • Look at pictures of various plants and have the girls circle the stems (flowering plant, herb, cactus, vine)
          • Do both “Why Plants Have Stems” experiment (Evan-Moor book)
          • Do the “4 Ways Seeds Travel” minibook from HSS
            • Explosion: Tear or cut up pieces of scrap paper to make confetti (seeds).  Place the tiny pieces in a lunch bag or baggy or balloon.  Now hold the end of the bag almost closed and blow air into the bottom.  Hold the end closed so that the air doesn't escape.  Now pop the bag.  What happened to the seeds?
            • Flying: Make a Whirlygig to show how some seeds travel
            • Floating: Put sunflower seeds in water and watch them float!
            • People & Animals: Put on an old pair of socks, then walk in burr seeds next door. Notice how they stick on!
          Day Five:
          • Circle Time: Look at 2 new flower pictures (find ones that are native to NC) and 2 new tree pictures.
          • Read I Am a Leaf and A B Cedar: An Alphabet of Trees  and Leaves
          • Fill out lab record from yesterday’s experiments (Evan-Moor book)
          • Gather leaves from outdoors. Bring them inside and compare them. How are they different? How are they the same? Do some leaf rubbings and put in lapbook. If possible, identify the tree from which they came.
          • Draw a plant with green leaves for logbook and write what the purpose of a leaf is!
          • Make a seed mosaic with extra seeds. Show pics to give them ideas!
          Day Six:
          • Go on a nature scavenger hunt at a local park or nature preserve. Bring along a field guide and identify trees, flowers and other plants encountered. For extra fun, bring your digital camera to take pictures. Later, incorporate those picture into lapbook. 

          Gardening Unit: Days 1-3

          This week we've been doing a garden/plant unit study that I devised with the help of Evan-Moor's Learning About Plants (Grades K-1).  This is the first time I've attempted to do a unit study where everything wasn't already planned out and I've been very pleased with the results so far. It's been incredibly fun and the girls have been learning a lot. Plus, it's been a nice break from our normal school routine...a break I needed! Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures as my husband requisitioned the camera for his own use this week.

          Here's some of our activities, though I'm withholding the ones that came directly from the Evan-Moor book. (Which, BTW, is totally worth the purchase price. It's packed FULL of great lesson ideas, activities and read-aloud suggestions. It's been a good fit for my 4 & 5 (almost 6) year old, though some of the writing has been a bit much for Sweetness (the 4yo). I just have her dictate the answers to me or help her write something simple.)

          Day 1:
          • Circle Time: Look at pictures of state tree and state flower. Work on address song.
          • Read Pearl’s First Prize Plant & The Rabbit in the Garden
          • Learn about characteristics of living things
          • Decorate terra-cotta plant holders to use for planting their personal flowers
          Day 2:
          • Circle Time: Look at pictures of state flower and state tree. Work on last name song.
          • Read Sunflower (FR) and Flowers
          • Look at a picture of a flower. What are the different parts? See how many the girls can name (flower, stem, leaves & roots).
          • Now dissect a Lily. Point out the 4 parts of the bloom (Petal, Stamen, Pistil & Sepal).  
          Day 3:
          •  Circle Time: Look at state flower & tree pics. Then see if they can describe from memory.
          • Read One Bean and Paddington Bear in the Garden
          • Examine roots from different outside plants.  Have the girls draw pictures of the roots and put in lapbook.
          • Plant beans in clear plastic cup and watch them grow! (EMP-K; Use page 32)
          • Fill pots with dirt and plant seeds.
          • Make some Coffee filter flowers
          Review plant part names by playing Make a Salad
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