Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Tent Town #6

I finally got my life (and backyard) organized enough to have our first Tent Town of the school year!

We did Stone Soup again.  Some of the kids brought their own veggies to contribute.  Some kids are more likely to taste something new if they have more of a hand in the planning and prep of the food.

One little boy was so cute!  When Grandma Cindy was showing the kids the vegetables that they needed to chop while she read, he was the first kid to excitedly proclaim which one was an onion.  I think he's the only kid that cut it, too. And then when it was time to eat the soup, he made sure his mom found him a bowl with onion in it.

This time was smaller than usual due to last minute illness cancellations.  So we were done with all the reading pretty quickly. We had 6 story tents and only 8 children.  To buy time while the soup finished cooking, I had coloring pages for them to do.

In our soup we had zuchinni, cauliflower, brocolli, potato, tomato sauce, salt, pepper, canned peas, canned mixed veggies, canned green beans, egg noodles, onion, green bell pepper, and cooked hamburger.  It was so yummy!  Oh, and can't forget about the stone.  The kids really enjoy taking turns stirring the soup and finding the stone.

This time I decided that I did not want to read.  I enjoyed being able to stand back and monitor the flow of the event.  I also helped usher children from tent to tent, especially my own.  If I wasn't doing that, little 2 year old Quartus probably wouldn't have participated at all.  

Big thanks to my friend Sarah who let us use her pop-up shade.  The weather wasn't too hot, but it was nice to block some of the sun.

Three of our readers were "big kids" this time.  My daughters, plus another 9 year old girl.  I love giving the older kids opportunities to read to youngers.  I think it has potential for such a good experience for both parties.  And I think reading out loud to a group is an important skill for big kids to practice.  

I used to own only two tents, thanks to my brother who was cleaning out before a move.  So I really had to rely on other moms to bring tents to share.Then after a Tent Town or two, one supportive friend just let me hold on to hers.  Then several months ago I picked up one through a free-cycle type group, bringing me up to 4.  Finally, a few weeks ago I thinned out my baby clothes stash.  I was able to exchange some of the clothes for two more tents at a consignment shop.  

So now I personally own 6 kid-sized tents!  Yay!  Now I have one less thing to worry about when I want to plan another activity!

I like to have some kind of prize or favor for the kids to earn by filling up their entire stamp card.  This time they got to pick out a book to keep. I went to Goodwill Outlet and picked up a bunch of early readers for only 25 cents each.

 The books that were read in the story tents this time were More Spaghetti I Say, Horton Hatches the Egg, Gerald and Piggie, Leap Back Home to Me, I'm Already There, and From Head to Toe.

I'm hoping to get the next one planned soon since we missed our fall event.

Friday, February 6, 2015

My 2 year old knows the ABC's!

You guys! Constantine is only 2 and he knows his ABC's! Not even joking! He started pointing to Christopher's Brigham Young University shirt and saying letter names. Then we realized he was saying the letters correctly! Then I ran and got flashcards and a camera.

He can identify the letter names for almost all uppercase letters! What the heck??

I did NOT believe Christopher at first when he said he was getting them right! Then I kept asking if we were in the Twilight Zone lol

My friend's theory is simply, "He is a very smart boy. It's because he's a watcher. VERY observant and thoughtful!"

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Nursery Update

It was only 5 short months ago that I was bragging on our Nursery.  Now we're in a new year and we've been combined with another ward which means new kids and new challenges.

Ok, so NOW I understand why people don't like to serve in Nursery. I still LOVE nursery, but now I'm more humble. :)

We have a biter, a couple criers, a pincher, one who likes to dump everything he can get his hands on, and an escape artist. And we have people opening and closing the door all day (which upsets the criers and gives the escape artist a chance to sneak out) to bring us random new kids who don't know what's going on, and don't want to be there. My beautifully planned schedule/routine is not working out for us so well.

We've asked for another helper and are going to re-evaluate the weekly routine.  And I've made new signs which I pray the parents pay attention to!

This will be posted on one door:

And this will be posted on the other.  It'll be attached with velcro so it can be removed and slid under.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Friday, January 9, 2015

Don't Say This to Homeschool Moms

One of my favorite bloggers is Kris Bales over at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

She shared a list of 7 Things You Should Never Say to a Homeschool Mom and I think it's very well done (and super funny)!  So go read that and then come back here for my commentary.

What about socialization?

Making sure our children have opportunities to interact with other children and build friendships is important.  Duh.  But why the heck is this still people's go-to criticism?  It's getting old and not as big a deal as many think.  I think most moms are capable and intuitive enough to look at their kids and notice if they need more friends or social skills.  Moms are smart.  Trust us.  If our kids need something, we'll take care of it.

What do you do all day?

I've never been asked this question. I must be lucky to be surrounded by unusually wonderfully supportive friends and acquaintances.    More often than not, the people in my life are the ones that are reminding me how busy I am when I try to volunteer to put one more thing on my plate.

Just think, if you didn’t homeschool, you’d have more time to clean house.

 Yep, my house is often pretty messy and I'm never fully "caught up" on dishes or laundry.  But that's ok.  And hypothetically just because I send my oldest kids to school, doesn't mean I'll clean all day while they're gone.  I would easily find more important things to fill my day with (errands, volunteering in classrooms, taking the littles to activities.)   I also really like that the kids are home to see what it takes to keep a household running, and learn to pitch in.  Life skills!   

You must have so much patience.

I wish I had more.  

Do you own anything besides yoga pants?

I actually don't own yoga pants, though I wish I did.  But if you drop by my house unexpectedly during the day, it would not be unusual to see me still in pajamas.  So what?  And I do put on "real" clothes before leaving the house.  Unless I'm going to Walmart.  In that case, what's the point?

Since you’re home, would you mind babysitting for me?

I usually have no problem babysitting for friends during the day on occasion.  I can be flexible.  And sometimes giving my kids an opportunity to play with/help take care of younger children and teaching them the importance of giving service takes priority over grammar lessons.  The problem would be if it turned into a regular thing and it really started to cut into our school time.  Hopefully friend would have the courtesy to at least offer to compensate me, and hopefully I would have the courtesy to make my concerns known.

2015 Goals

I have a few goals (I don't like calling them "resolutions") for this year.  Please pray for me that I can keep them!

1. Be better about RSVPs.  
I'm the worst at RSVPs.  If I'm supposed to RSVP by phone, it just doesn't happen.  If it's a Facebook invite, I'll usually click Maybe right away but then I probably won't go back and update it.  I've hosted enough events to know that it sucks to have an inaccurate head-count.  It's disrespectful and I don't want to be a hypocritical jerk anymore.

2. Recognize family birthdays. 
Until this year, if you didn't come forth from my womb, then you couldn't expect to receive any recognition on your birthday.  I just think birthdays are for kids.  But I've realized that just because I don't care about receiving birthday cards for myself doesn't mean others don't appreciate it.  I need to see birthdays as an excuse to remember to tell someone that I love them.

So this year I plan to send birthday cards (likely just drawings from the kids) to all parents, brothers and sisters, and nieces and nephews.  My brother has a birthday tomorrow.  Oops!  I'm already behind!

3. Eat like the kids.
At our house we eat more processed and pre-packaged stuff then I think we should.  But at least I work pretty hard to make sure the kids have a good balance of fruits and veggies during the day!   But when I sit the kids down for their 9:30 snack of fresh fruit, do I munch on the apple slices with them?  Usually not!  When I instruct them to put a big handful of veggies on their lunch plates, do I sit with them and do the same?  Nope!

I really need to eat healthier in general, and I think eating what I feed the kids will be a good first step!

4. Family Home Evening plan.
We were good about doing Family Home Evening every week for a while.  But then Hubby started a Monday night class.  And we just never settled on a regular day to do it.  But even after the semester ended, we didn't get back in the groove.  But now we're going to!

And to make lesson planning easier, our lessons are going to consist of grabbing a scripture story picture from our Gospel Art Picture Kit and talking about the story.  Then the picture will be taped to a wall.  If we have time to come up with a fun activity or craft to go along with it, then awesome.  But if not, then we will still at least be filling our heads and home with wonderful art and scripture stories.  When the wall is full and the Kit box is empty, then we'll have to figure out something else.

5. No Facebook during school hours.
I may be a little addicted to facebook.  If I turn on the computer for any reason, I can't help but log on to facebook and then it's too easy to waste too much time just clicking around.  Any communicating that I need to do with my friends on there can wait until after school hours.  Teaching these kids is my job and I think workplaces are perfectly justified in firing people for indulging in social media on company time.  So I think it's inappropriate for me to use fb to distract me from my important work.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

How NOT to Criticize Homeschooling...

I ran across the following anti-homeschooling rant online. This is a direct quote and I found it quite educational.
"I'm the narrow minded person that still feel that a child should go to public school because they are out with other people to their own age and I feel that keeping a child from school hinders their social skills and teachers take a long time in school to learn how to teach children annnnnd parents most of them are ill equiped to keep up with children in school because their parents don't know enough to teach their children at home unless your a teacher!"

How to totally undermine your own argument, look like an ignorant idiot, and make homeschoolers laugh hysterically at your anti-homeschooling convictions:

1. Use horrible grammar and spelling.
I don't have perfect grammar and spelling all the time, either.  I'm human.  We're all human.  And some of us are just bad at written English.  That's fine.  But if you're going to be criticizing someone's educational choices, you might want to try extra hard to sound educated yourself.

2. While you're at it, just forget periods all together.
Nothing says, "I'm an ignorant troll on the internet" like ignoring basic sentence structure rules.

3. But if you're going to use any ending punctuation, make sure it's an exclamation point.
When I see that all I hear in my head is, "I know nothing about this issue but I'm passionate so that counts for something so you should take me seriously!!"

Now to finally get to the meat of the rant:

4. Bring up the socialization argument.
This issue is a non-issue and it isn't a new concept to homeschoolers.  We've all heard it a million times.  And anecdotally, we've all personally seen it debunked a million times.  The idea that kids should be only with kids their own age in order to learn proper social skills is especially hilarious.
I won't bore you here with the counter argument.  But if you're truly interested in the other perspective, just search some homeschool blogs (like mine or ones on my side bar) for "socialization."
And if you're still concerned about the socialization issue and you want to discuss it, then how about quote some facts and share some links and research?  Even specific anecdotal evidence is good to get a discussion going (provided both parties understand that anecdotal evidence can't necessarily be generalized to large populations).  I appreciate opinions backed up with data.

5. Insult parents' intelligence.
No one likes to be told they are too stupid to teach basic addition and must go to college for 5 years in order to find out how to do it.  That just makes people defensive.

I've said it before and I'll say it again that I don't care if you put your kid in public school.  I love to hear about public schools and public school teachers who are doing a wonderful job.  I'm not going to generalize that "all public school is bad" so please be respectful in turn.  Every child, family, community, and school is different.  We should all have the freedom to choose what we feel is best without ignorant, unproductive, unfounded criticism.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Beowulf Costume

In September we read about Beowulf in Story of the World, volume 2.  Tertius usually isn't terribly interested in listening to our history lessons, but that day he was very glad that he stuck around!  A super strong warrior who fights a monster with his bare hands?  Right up this boy's ally!

When I asked the kids soon after what they wanted to be for Halloween, he was positive he wanted to be Beowulf.  In our Story of the World student pages, there was a Beowulf coloring page so we based his costume on that.

A long piece of brown fabric made a loin cloth and bracers. I used a sharpie to draw muscles on a white shirt. Finally, we needed a wolf hide for our fierce warrior to wear.  The closest we had was this big teddy bear.  I think it worked pretty well.  Though, Hubby may have wanted to hold a funeral for his poor old stuffed animal.

"Bow Card" Tutorial (by Secundus)

I have a folder somewhere on my computer of pictures of things that Secundus made and wanted me to share on my blog.  She's very creative, likes to do crafts, and loves to show off and teach others.

Her latest favorite craft to make is something she calls a "Bow Card."  It's a three-flapped card that is roughly the shape of a bow.

I recently got a new camera, so along with the novelty of that, she insisted all day that I take a video of her explaining how to make it.  So here is Secundus' first ever tutorial!  We may have a a future vlogger in our house!


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Isn't one of those Wild Kratts named "Vulva?"

This morning I had Tertius, my preschooler, do journal time.  All he has to do is draw a picture and then tell me about it so I can write his explanation on his paper.

He's still at the stage where he just draws some scribbles and then decides afterwards what it is.  So he drew a bunch of circular scribbles and then hands the notebook to me.

Me: "Ok, tell me about your drawing."
Tertius: "It's a vulva."
Me: Blink.  Crickets.  "A what?"
T: "A vulva."
Me: "Do you remember what a vulva is?"
 (We use the correct anatomical terms for body parts in our house and he has sisters.  So I wasn't freaked out or worried, just surprised.  Usually he draws robots, monsters, or ninjas.)
T: "Yeah, from Wild Kratts!"
M: "Oh!  That character from the show!  What was her name?"
T: He stumbled a bit on trying to remember what her name was but kept coming back to insisting that it was "Avulva."
M: "Well, no, because a vulva is a girl's private parts."

I finally remembered that her name was actually Aviva and everyone in the house laughed and laughed.

I guess it's a good thing we homeschool!  I wonder what kind of note would come home from the teacher if this was at a regular preschool! :)

Friday, November 7, 2014

Declaring a new Holiday: Crazy Day

This has been one of those weeks where academics got moved to the back burner.

Tuesday I worked at a polling place all day and so I prepared lesson plans and scheduled a substitute teacher (Hubby.)  But then he became ill with an absolutely horrible stomach bug so school got cancelled.  The kids did come spend some time with me at the polling place, so I guess they got Social Studies that day, but that's it.

Wednesday I needed to make bow ties for a friend's wedding.  Plus, the house was a disaster and I was stressed out, so I told the kids we were taking a vacation day.  When Primus asked what holiday it was, I explained that I just needed a day off because I was feeling crazy.  She then promptly dubbed the holiday, "Crazy Day."  We did go to music class in the morning, so I guess we got one subject in again, but that's it.

Now here we are with today, Friday.  We have to leave by 11:30 to get to the wedding, which my kids are all in.  No school for us this morning.  Instead we'll be cleaning the kitchen (because it is still a stress-fueling disaster), bathing, curling hair, picking up dresses, packing lunches, making a reception delivery, and then enjoying lots of time with some people that we love!

This would be one reason I love homeschool: we can take vacation days when we need them.  Flexibility is nice.  If you miss 3 days of public school in one week with no doctors' note, don't you get detention or something?  For us, all we have to do is turn the upcoming Veteran's Day into a normal school day and plan to work through one of our Christmas vacation days (the charter school scheduled us for 3 weeks of holiday this year.)  The third missed day this week has already been taken care of because we worked through Labor Day and "banked" that for just such an occasion as this,

It could be argued that if the girls were at public school, then I wouldn't have needed to take random, impromptu days off due to "staffing issues."  But then I still would have had to deal with pickups and dropoffs and homework after school,  And I've said before that I can't stand being a slave to daily, inflexible pickup and dropoff times, and homework is awful.  Plus, that wouldn't solve the problem of the wedding being on a weekday afternoon.  So homeschooling works for us.

Friday, October 24, 2014

We're not cut-out for public school...

I had a dream last night...

There was some special event at the local public school so I sent Primus.  She had a wonderful time so I got to thinking, "Hey, maybe public school is a good option for us afterall."  So for the next 3 days I sent both her and Secundus and they liked it ok.  On the fourth day I slept through my alarm, woke up more than an hour after school started, noticed that none of the kids had woken up yet either.  I lay in my bed for a few moments, deciding if I should jump up and rush them all awake and out the door.  Then I decided that we're apparently not cut out for public school, rolled over, and went back to sleep.  

When I eventually woke up in real life, I noticed that I had in fact overslept my alarm and was up almost an hour later than I intended.  I love homeschool!  :)

Monday, October 6, 2014

Conference Reflection, 300th Post, and GIVEAWAY!

I started this blog at the start of my family's homeschooling journey when Primus began Kindergarten.  But it's about so much more than education.  This has also been my place to share craft and recipe ideas, talk about the Gospel, muse about beauty standards, and other randomness.  I hope you've found something to interest you!  I don't claim or aspire to be a good writer.  But I have enjoyed having a space to document my family's school life and share ideas that I hope can be of help to others.

Actually, my first step into the blogging world was in 2008.  At that time, all of a sudden a lot of my friends and siblings were signing up on Blogspot.  I jumped on that bandwagon right away and have actually outlasted most of them. And now I have two!

My original family blog is my journal, family scrapbook, and the kids' baby books all rolled into one and stored in a place where it can't get lost or damaged.  Isn't the internet wonderful?

Did you know that blogging can also be a way to do family history?

This weekend members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints watched General Conference. It's a time where we get to hear words of inspiration, council, and guidance from Heavenly Father through His servants the Prophet, Apostles, and other Church leaders.

One of the last talks of the last session was about family history and genealogy.  Mormons think that doing family history research is incredibly important for various reasons.  And in the past it was revealed to me personally that I needed to be engaged in this work.  But I haven't done much.  I kind of figured that's something I'll do in the Grandmother phase of my life.  But still, I sometimes feel guilty for putting off something so important.

During the aforementioned talk, Elder Packer mentioned that genealogy isn't just compiling names and dates.  "It also includes the present, as we create our own history."  He said that when a mother shares family stories and pictures, she is doing family history work.

When I heard that, I suddenly and unexpectedly felt the Holy Spirit strongly and tears came to my eyes.  It was revealed to me then that blogging is the way I'm doing family history work.  And it's important for my family.

I immediately ran to my bedroom, opened up my personal journal, and wrote it down before I could forget that feeling.  Then I read the words I wrote back to myself.  Again I was overcome with a warm, tingly, peaceful feeling that I know to be the Holy Ghost bearing witness of truth.

I am so thankful for the knowledge that my Heavenly Father knows me, loves me, and knows what I need to hear. I am grateful that the Heavens are not closed and that Heavenly Father has called prophets and apostles in our day to lead, guide, and inspire us!


This is my 300th post here on the Homeschool Is Not a Typo blog!  300 posts in just over 3 years.  In celebration, I want to give one lucky reader a special prize.

Because I love getting kids interested in reading, and this is primarily an education blog, of course the prize is a book.  The Reading Race by Abby Klein- a Ready, Freddy! story.

You have several chances to enter to win.  Six, to be precise.  This is my first time using Rafflecopter, aside from entering contests with it on other pages, so I'm excited!

The giveaway closes 2 weeks from now and is open only to residents of the United States.

Even if you don't have young children at home, you should still enter to win.  Surely you know someone who'd love to be surprised with it.  Books make great gifts!

Good Luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Math Fact Day

Getting the girls to memorize math facts is important to me.  So one day last week we set aside all of our normal work and just had a Math Facts Day.  (Actually, it was more like a math fact morning because the afternoon was filled with a visit from our ES.)

Each girl had a list like the following so they knew what their options were.  Primus focused on multiplication, and Secundus did addition and subtraction.  Each activity was only done for 5 minutes at a time.  I wanted to keep them moving quickly from task to task so they would have fun and not get bored.

Wraps is referring to these math wrap-ups.  It's basically a classic matching game where you draw a line from a number in one column to a number in the second column.  But you "draw" it by wrapping a string around a key shape.  And when you're all done, you turn over the key and see if you got all the answers right based on if the string is covering all the raised bumps.

The triangle game is called Minute Math Electronic Flash Card.  It's tricky to get used to, but it's really good to help you understand the connection between addition and subtraction.

Machine means this Subtraction Machine.  When you push the little buttons, they pop up and tell you the answer to the problem.  I don't know if playing with this actually helps them remember the facts or not, but they sure think it's fun to click all the buttons. 

Xtra Math is a great free website.  It helps the kids master the math facts at their own pace and tracks their progress.

The Computer Games were definitely the favorite from the list.  These three websites have some fun ones.

Flashcards.  Boring, old flashcards. :)  I made my own with index cards.

I gave the girls a blank Hundreds Chart to fill in.   They had to work on it, though, by counting by 2s, and then counting by 3s, and then counting by 5s, and so on until it was all filled up.  While not math-fact-specific, skip counting is a great skill to work on.

Speed Tests were something I remember really enjoying in school. In the back of their math books I found a page of fact review and I timed them to see how fast they could complete a section of it.  Did not work.  The timer did not motivate them at all.

This website has a good explanation of how to use an Addition Grid.  I handed the girls a blank 11X11 grid and had them make their own.

Our Math Fact Day was a hit! We'll definitely be doing it again next week.