My Little Readers is a place where you can learn about our family's learning adventures, techniques to help build literacy, and ideas for activities to engage in with your children.

Monday, September 10, 2012

First Day of School

Snootz was very excited to start 4K today (at home) and he has been the one saying that the Twins are going to be in 2K so that is what we are calling it.  In reality it is more like damage control all day long with a little bit of learning thrown in.

So we started our school day out with some painting.  Not a great plan on my part because I was pretty frazzled and stressed out by 11:00 and had to take a big long break to get everyone outside to burn off some energy.  I think it's going to take a while for me to get a good schedule in place that works for everyone.  Unfortunately, right now I'm not sure *what* will work for the girls.  Especially Kitty Cat who is our little "destructo girl" who rips, crumples, dumps, shreds, destroys and throws away all kinds of things that she shouldn't.  It's challenging because she'd often rather get into something she shouldn't rather than play with her toys or participate in something we are doing.  But Snootz LOVED painting and putting together the dinosaurs.  And they turned out so cute even though they were a lot of work.  I found the templates at Learn.Create.Love and if you are looking for cute art projects like this I would encourage you to visit her site.  She has a ton of different things to make.  I'm sure we'll end up doing others.

I must say that I'm extra exhausted tonight and wondering if we should take a field trip for our second day of school......well, maybe we'll wait a few days but it's tempting because it's *hard* to be home all day managing two year old twins and also working with a very motivated 4-year old.  He whips through his work so quickly and I could barely keep up with him at times.  I found some nice printables at Royal Baloo and we worked on a lot of them while the girls were napping.  We also started our Bible memorization today, we are using ABC Bible Verses along with some printables over at 1+1+1=1.

As for other subjects, we will begin Spelling tomorrow; we are using All About Spelling.  And maybe next week I will begin Math and Science.  For Math we are going to use Math U See and for Science we are going to use A Beka, Discovering God's World.  As for Art, we will be using Home Art Studio.     And I'd like to continue to have themes intertwined as well to make sure we are keeping things fun and interesting.  All the subjects I mentioned probably sound like a lot for a 4-year old (I know it sounds like a lot to me) but Snootz is begging to learn more.  If you don't know him, he's a really bright little guy, a super fast learner and just thrives on learning new things.  And to paint a better picture, he's been reading since he was two.  That's right, he was *two* years old when he read his first beginning reader book.  And no we did not push him into it.  He initiated it and we just went with it and now he's probably at a second grade reading level.  So needless to say he needs to be challenged or he'll be bored.  I'm hoping I made all the right decisions with the curriculum but if not we can always change what we are doing.  As for the next couple of weeks, we will continue to work through our Dinosaur theme and have lots of fun doing it.  If you know Snootz personally, you are aware of his love for Dinosaurs.  He's a big fan of the meat eaters.

A few weeks ago we finally finished Snootz's Dig a Glow Dinosaur that we had bought for him for Christmas.  It took quite a while to get all the "bones" uncovered and we weren't consistent about working on it so that's why it took so long.  But even though the dinosaur is a plant eater (Triceratops) Snootz enjoyed the project and was very pleased with the end result.  While we were putting the dinosaur together the girls had a bunch of fun getting out their toys and books.  Look at those innocent faces! :)

**On a side note, I don't know when I will get around to putting my new and improved blog site together.  I had thought I would get it done last month but guess what?  I didn't.  I actually didn't work on it at all.  I was so busy preparing for homeschooling and getting ready for the Twins 2nd birthday party that I didn't touch my blog (except for deciding on the new name and a general design).  I will let you know when I do something with it.  At the rate I'm going, maybe by 2020!  In the meantime, if you are at all interested in this blog I encourage you to subscribe to be on the email list.  That's a great way for you to know when I put up a post, since I don't feel like I can make any commitments right now with how often I will post something.  I'm hoping we'll get into a nice routine at home and I can do more blogging in a few months but I just don't know yet.  For now, it will just be kind of sporadic.  Thanks for hanging in there with me!!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Changes Ahead

I have been working on some changes to my blog, including a blog name change, domain name change, a new design and links to Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.  So basically, a complete overhaul of my blog.  I hope to have these changes completed by the end of the month, if not sooner, and will let you know as soon as I have everything changed over.  I plan to do more regular blog posts at that time and you may or may not see any new posts before then.  I'm not sure how much time I'll have.  But I am so excited about these changes and can't wait to share them with you!  Until then, stay cool, stay healthy, and enjoy the rest of your summer!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Making Soap Clouds

We did a super inexpensive, easy and fun "experiment" last week with Ivory soap.  I got the idea from Money Saving Mom and I'm so glad we tried it.  We put a bar of Ivory soap in the microwave and turned the microwave on for a couple of minutes to watch the bar of soap grow and grow and grow into puffy white clouds.  We actually did this activity two days in a row because Snootz had so much fun with it.  The first time I let the children play in the bathtub with the big cloud of soap and the second time I let them play with it at the table.  It was fun for them to feel the change in texture and see how crumbly the soap could get.  Unfortunately, there was a huge mess to clean up when they played with it at the table, so I would recommend taking your soap cloud outside to play with or let your children enjoy it during bath time.

This is a really inexpensive activity that could actually be free if you have an Ivory coupon that you pair with a sale.  I bought a 3-bar pack from Target and since I had a coupon for $1.00 I only paid about $0.20 for the 3-pack.  I also love that this was a quick, easy and fun filler activity that didn't require any planning or preparation ahead of time.

*Please note: Use ONLY Ivory bar soap - apparently no other brand of soap works for this.  Also, be aware that the soap may be very hot when it first comes out of the microwave.

With a fork and a spoon in hand Snootz looks like he is going to try eating it
but thankfully no one put any soap in their mouth.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Bookworm Gardens

I can't even believe a month has gone by since my last post.  Time has been flying by!  During this past month we've been having lots of fun being outdoors most days and I've also been tackling some necessary housekeeping projects.  There are so many things that have been pushed to the side for the past two years as I was pregnant (and sick), then we moved ten days before delivery of our twins and then those two beautiful babies came into the world and have been keeping us busy (along with their brother) ever since.  It's been a really slow process getting our house in order since we moved almost two years ago (I can't believe it's been that long!) but I am determined to make some significant progress. So I've been tackling some of the projects that I'm finally making a priority and I'm happy to report that although progress has been slow, I'm actually seeing some decent results.  Mainly I've been purging unnecessary items from our house, especially from our basement, and I've been working on organizing everything that needs to be organized.  I really want to get our house in order by September when Snootz starts 4K at home and Kitty Cat and Tootsie Pop start "2K".  I feel the only way we will be successful is if we have our materials organized and our house decluttered.  We also need a daily schedule that works for all of us but that's another topic. 

Anyways, I want to tell you about this awesome place we visited last month.  We took a mini-vacation as a family over Memorial Day weekend to Sheboygan, Wisconsin.  We went to a wonderful little place for children that's located on the UW-Sheboygan campus called Bookworm Gardens.  It is the perfect place to take young children where they can connect nature with literature.  There are different themed sections of the garden that have been created around various children's storybooks.  It was a dream come true for me and our children :) Seriously, I loved it and I even think my husband enjoyed himself!  

The grounds are beautifully kept and it is such a peaceful place, even with all the children milling around.  They have books that can be taken out of little cubby holes in various places throughout the garden and there are plenty of spots to sit down and read a book.  Of course, our children wanted to keep exploring and playing but Snootz did actually sit and enjoy a book for a while and we all sat down for story time and were able to listen to books that were read aloud by a volunteer.  And that's one of the amazing things......the garden was created and is kept up by donations and volunteers. There's not even an admission or parking fee charged!  So, if you are ever in the Sheboygan, Wisconsin area I encourage you to visit Bookworm Gardens with your children.  It's a hidden gem!

Main Entrance
Hansel & Gretel House
Snootz sitting and reading in The Magic Tree House
Enjoying Story Time
Dinosaur Bones
Snootz the Paleontologist
Horton Hatches the Egg
Washing Harry the Dirty Dog
Goldilocks and the Three Bears
Frankie the Walk 'N Roll Dog

Harold and the Purple Crayon
The Magic School Bus
Winnie the Pooh

One Leaf Rides the Wind

Friday, May 25, 2012

Let's Get Reading!!

Ok, so I told you last month that Snootz will most likely participate in one of the Summer Reading Programs.  Well, he is super excited about it but we actually chose two programs with LESS structure, rather than MORE structure which I had said "we" needed.  I was probably just feeling overwhelmed that day and thought I'd need more structure in order to help Snootz follow through.  But after I thought about it I decided that Snootz doesn't need more structure.  He loves reading and we should have no problems going to the library to pick out ANY books that he wants to read and then I can help him keep track of them.

Sooooo, I talked to Snootz yesterday and he decided to participate in the Barnes and Noble Summer Reading Program and the Half Price Books Kids Summer Reading Program.  The Barnes and Noble Program looks to be for children as young as first grade but I have read comments on some blogs and it seems like it won't be a problem that Snootz is younger.   He's reading independently and should be able to fill out the form (with help).  If it turns out they won't accept his form then I'll just purchase the book that he has already decided he wants as the reward book.  Barnes and Noble provided a short list of books to choose from that the child receives free once they read and record 8 books they have read on their own and take it to their local store.  Snootz already looked at the list and decided which book he wants!

The Half Price Books Program tracks the number of minutes read each day.  Children need to read at least 15 minutes each day and once they reach 300 minutes they can take their completed form to Half Price Books to receive a book voucher for $5.00.  The nice thing about the Half Price Books program is that they allow children who are learning to read to participate.  So they allow 15 minutes of reading OR being read to per day.

We will probably also participate in our local library's program but first I need to look into that more so that I can understand the requirements.  But we are definitely planning on the Barnes and Noble and Half Price Books Programs.  We printed out the tracking forms yesterday, we have them posted on our refrigerator and we are ready to go!!

Math with Unifix Cubes

This week Snootz worked on math using Unifix cubes and he did really well.  Sitting down to read a book, complete a writing worksheet, or work on math problems is very calming for him.  He really enjoys it which is awesome!

Snootz picked out a worksheet on the KidZone website and chose Addition Math Tables with a picture of a dinosaur on the page (he was really excited about the dinosaur).  So, I printed it, pulled out our Unifix cubes and got to work (we purchased our Unifix cubes preowned from a seller on eBay).  I explained how the math tables were set up and then we started counting out some Unifix cubes to put into groups.  Then Snootz added the number of Unifix cubes so that he could find the answers to put into the tables.  He did so well!  For the last two tables he asked if he could add an additional number and find the answer.  Well, of course!  So he added 5+6+6 as well as others.

This was our first time using the Unifix cubes for a guided math session and they are exactly what we needed.  Using wooden blocks for math was good but these are even better because they snap together and don't tumble over if you accidentally knock into them (well, the whole row might tumble over but they probably won't break apart).  Snootz was also able to put them on the table horizontally or vertically and he could pick up the groups and compare their lengths (i.e. a set of 6 Unifix cubes is taller or longer than 5 Unifix cubes).

And yes, Snootz is still wearing his pajamas at 2:00pm in the afternoon.  That's the beauty of being able to learn at home.  If you are having a tired day, you can just stay in your pajamas :)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Why Homeschool? and a Glimpse into the Past Couple of Weeks

Stacie at Motherhood on a Dime did a wonderful post today on her reasons for homeschooling.  I think it is beautifully written and includes several of our own key reasons for deciding to homeschool next year.  I would encourage you to read it if you are interested in knowing more about homeschooling and why someone would choose to do it.  I plan to do my own post on our reasons for homeschooling at some point in the future.

On another note, here is a glimpse into some of the fun things we've done the past couple of weeks.  Many have been great learning experiences for the children.

Two weekends ago we took a family trip to the zoo.  Tootsie Pop & Kitty Cat took their first ride on the zoo train.

This was the closest I've ever gotten to an elephant.  The children were fascinated as this elephant balanced on the edge of the structure and reached out with his trunk to pull leaves off the bushes right in front of us.

Then a little over a week ago Snootz and Daddy built a rocket together!  Snootz learned a bit about chemistry and physics along the way.

We went to the park to launch the rocket but Daddy shook it too much and the baking soda and vinegar "popped" too quickly.  Unfortunately, it resulted in an unlaunched rocket.  Oh well, everyone had fun anyways and we'll try launching it again soon.  Plus, now we know not to shake the bottle!

Since we were at the park we decided to have some fun on the playground.

And play some tennis (without rackets) after Daddy found a tennis ball.

Kitty Cat is such a loving little mommy and had to make sure her baby was taken care of before we left to go home.  She insisted on pushing her baby in the stroller for part of the way home.

As for this week, it has been a very good week so far since our recent sicknesses have passed and everyone has been happier.  On Monday, Snootz and I had an opportunity to bake some Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies.  Yum!

Baking and cooking has been great for Snootz as he's been learning how to read and follow a recipe, and he's also been learning about measurements and various ingredients.  In this case he also enjoyed eating the result of his hard work!

Kitty Cat & Tootsie Pop have recently grown in their love for their babies.  I often see them feeding and putting their dolls to bed.  It's a lot of fun to watch them be so nurturing.  Of course, there is the occasional temper tantrum which results in baby getting flung onto the floor.  :)

I love this picture of Tootsie Pop.  She looks so happy holding her little doll.  (I really need to cut her bangs though.  The poor girl has her hair hanging in her eyes.)

And we also played dress up.  Well, that didn't go so well....... But Kitty Cat looked pretty even though she really didn't want to wear the dress.

I look forward to more fun days this week as we get together with friends and celebrate Mother's Day this weekend with our families. 

Happy Mother's Day to all you moms!