July 30, 2014

A Tour of Our Homeschool Room

I did a slight redo of our homeschool room this summer.  I moved some things around and did some major cleaning out (and boy did it need it!!!)

So, let me take you on a tour of our homeschool room.  I cleaned it just for you!  It will not look this good again until next summer...

Here's a view of our room as you come to the top of the stairs.  Our homeschool room is in our loft. 
You can see our bean bag pile reading corner on the right, our giant IKEA table in the middle, and our awesome IKEA shelves on either side.  I added a fun new thing this year and you can see them on the back wall between the windows.  Those are magnetic boards that hold pencil cups and containers for paper, sticky notes, and index cards.  My hubby picked those up at the Container Store.  They are awesome! 

Here's a close up of my new magnetic boards.  They look like giant Lego blocks.  I've stocked my containers with pencils, pens, rulers, markers, and paper.

Here's the other set of magnetic boards.  I love the colorful dividers you can buy!  I think I might need to add some more in my homeschool room.  Unfortunately, my hubby bought the last sets in the store!  We'll have to make another trip!

Here's a shot of the right side of the room.  The kids have a computer desk where they take turns typing.  The white bookcase holds all of our read alouds, readers, and history books for the year.  There are math maipulatives and totschool toys in the black tubs on the bottom.  And of course we have our comfy bean bag reading chairs close by.

Why yes, we will be studying some astronomy this year!  And can you see my essential oils diffuser?  We love to scent our homeschool room in the morning while we work!

Here are some of our read alouds and readers.  Can you see my colorful coding system?  I use electric tape to color code all my books by grade level.

Can you see my little yellow sign on top of my shelf?  It says, "I am silently correcting your grammar."  I might be a grammar nerd!

I love the drawers on our table.  Each side holds the curricula for each child.  This is Bee's set of drawers and Ladybug uses the bottom drawer for her preschool books.

Here's the left side of our school room.  I have a little totschool corner where I color and do work with Ladybug and Punkin.  

The clear plastic drawers hold busy bags, craft supplies, and totschool manipulatives.  There is a giant canvas tote of coloring books hiding behind the table.  And there is my very well-loved US map on the wall.  It's time to find a new one!  And I need to find a world map as well.  The colorful bins hold flashcards.

Here is our other bookshelf.  This black shelf holds teacher manuals for me and notebooks for each of the kids.  I spent some time with the printer and printed all of their pages for the school year.  Then I filed everything away in their binders so we would be ready for a new year.  The red tubs hold math manipulatives, science readers, and spelling cards and tiles.  The white tubs hold science supplies.  Our Bible timeline and maps are on the side of the shelf and on the wall nearby.

I love having colorful binders!  I found some editable binder covers on Teachers Pay Teachers and made covers for everyone.  Now my shelves are colorful!

This is our art corner.  I have a cabinet full of art supplies and art books and DVD's.  The little art table has seen many artsy messes in the past few years!

Here are our paints, papers, pastels, clay, and the ever important trash can!

The wall above the art table has some science posters and our whiteboard.  Above the white board is a shelf that holds some divided tubs.  They hold the art supplies that I want to keep away from little hands-glue, scissors, permanent markers, charcoal pencils, and artist quality paintbrushes and colored pencils.

I wanted a place to display my art cards and my hubby didn't want to run any more errands.  So he hung some ribbon on the wall so I could clip on my cards.  I'm still searching for cute baby clothes pins for my wall.  I plan to let the kids decorate the tiny clothes pins and use those to hang my cards instead of the giant pins.

There's my chair and all of our drawers full of books and curricula.  The kids also have a drawer divider in the top drawer where they keep their pens, pencils, markers, crayons, erasers, and highlighters.  I keep Kleenex, marker boards, erasers, and a cup of pencils, pens, and dry erase markers on the table.

Our room would not be complete without a baby gate to keep little people away from the stairs!

So, there is a tour of our room for the year!  I can't wait to get started the day after Labor Day!

Hip Homeschool Moms

July 28, 2014

{Poppins Book Nook} Cyrus the Unsinkable Sea Serpent

Affiliate links may be used in this post.

This month our theme was pirates!  We chose one of our favorite books by Bill Peet.  

This book is about Cyrus the Unsinkable Sea Serpent who decides he wants to wreck a ship.  When he sees a ship in trouble, he changes his mind and determines to save all the passengers.  He keeps them safe through a storm and creates wind to propel the ship through the doldrums.  Then pirates attack the ship and Cyrus once again comes to the rescue.

We staged our own pirate battle in the kitchen with mini marshmallow cannons.

To make our marshmallow cannons you'll need paper towel tubes, balloons, scissors, tape, and mini marshmallows. 
  • Cut the paper towel tube to 3 inches.
  • Take one balloon and tie shut.
  • Then cut off part of the other end of the balloon.
  • Place balloon inside tube and wrap the cut end of the balloon around the tube.
  • Tape securely around the outside edge of the paper towel tube.
  • Then put some marshmallows inside your tube, grab the tied end of the balloon, pull back and let the marshmallows fly!

We tried several different types of cannons using various paper cups and the paper towel tubes.  We found that the cannons made with the tubes were the sturdiest and shot the farthest.  My kids could shoot the marshmallows clear into the loft upstairs.  And you'll never guess what I spent the next two days doing?  Cleaning up mini marshmallows!  I even found some in the air vents on the ceiling!

 Be sure to visit all the wonderful hosts of the Poppins Book Nook!

Enchanted Homeschooling Mom ~ 3 Dinosaurs ~ To the Moon and Back ~ Planet Smarty Pants ~ Farm Fresh Adventures ~ Growing in God's Grace ~ Chestnut Grove Academy ~ Learning and Growing the Piwi Way ~ The Usual Mayhem~ Preschool Powol Packets ~ Monsters Ed Homeschool Academy ~ Adventures in Mommydom ~ Teach Beside Me ~ Life with Moore Babies ~ Kathy's Cluttered Mind ~ Are We There Yet? ~ Our Crafts N Things ~ Hopkins Homeschool ~ ABC Creative Learning ~ Joy Focused Learning ~ P is for Preschooler ~ Laugh and Learn ~ A Mommy's Adventures ~ Inspiring 2 New Hampshire Children ~ World for Learning ~ Ever After in the Woods ~ Golden Grasses ~ A glimpse of our life ~ Journey to Excellence ~ Happy Little Homemaker ~ Little Homeschool Blessings ~ Raventhreads ~ Tots and Me ~ As We Walk Along The Road ~ Stir the Wonder ~ For This Season ~ Where Imagination Grows ~ Lextin Academy ~ The Canadian Homeschooler ~ School Time Snippets ~ Peakle Pie ~ A Moment in our World ~ Every Bed of Roses ~ Finchnwren ~ At Home Where Life Happens ~ The Library Adventure ~ Embracing Destiny ~ Day by Day in our World ~ Our Homeschool Studio ~ A "Peace" of Mind ~ Thou Shall Not Whine ~ SAHM I am ~ eLeMeNo-P Kids ~ Simple Living Mama

Enter the giveaway here!

Poppins Book Nook Pirate Plunder Giveaway! Every month the Poppins Book Nook group will be offering readers a chance to win a brand new storybook or product that ties in with our theme for the month. This month weare partnering with Jennifer Altman an Usborne consultant to bring one lucky entrant a chance to win a copy of either the Pirate's Handbook (recommended for 8 years old and up) or Pirate Stories for Little Children (recommended for ages under 8 years old)books. One of these books is sure to add to your pirate fun!

The winner will be randomly picked by Rafflecopter and will be notified by Enchanted Homeschooling Mom via email and posted here. Entrants must be 18 years or older and reside within the United States. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook,Twitter, Pinterest or any other entity unless otherwise specified. Prizes will be issued by Jennifer Altman who is an Usborne consultant. By entering this giveaway you are also acknowledging that you have read and agree to all of the Rafflecopter terms & conditions as well as Enchanted Homeschooling Mom's disclosures found here {http://enchantedhomeschoolingmom.org/disclosures/}.  Just enter the Rafflecopter below to win:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Link up your favorite pirate reads and activites!

Mary Poppins inspired clip art by the talented:

July 25, 2014

It's Read Aloud Time - Our List for the School Year!

Curly and I have a fun list of chapter books with some pictures books thrown in for fun.
Here's her 3rd grade read aloud list!

Tiger and I will be reading through the 1st grade read aloud list which includes a few chapter book series as well as a list of readers that he will read to me.

Bee and Ladybug (who have zero attention span) will be listening to me read from the PreK II read aloud list that contains lots of fun picture books.

What are you reading this year?

July 24, 2014

{Review Crew} Apologia - Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms

During my summers I try to get in a little time for self-education and encouragement for the upcoming homeschool year.  I do this by attending conventions, watching webinars, and reading good books.  This summer I was blessed to review Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms from Apologia Educational Ministries.

Flourish Book Review

What is it?
Apologia Educational Ministries may be known for their science curricula and their newer worldview curricula; however, they provide many other resources.  They have published numerous books including some for homeschool moms as a means of support and encouragement.

Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms was written by Mary Jo Tate.  She is a single homeschool mom of 4 boys who also has a successful editing business.  In her book, she shares how she finds balance and prioritizes her time in homeschooling, taking care of her children, keeping up with her house, and running a home-based business.

This book was written for any mom who desires to find balance in her many roles and enjoy the journey of motherhood.

Flourish Book Review

The book contains 16 chapters as well as several appendices of planning forms and tools.
  • An Invitation to Flourish
  • Change Your Mind to Change Your Time
  • The FREEDOM Toolbox
  • Where Did My Time Go?
  • Aim High: Setting Goals
  • What Do I Do Next? Seven Essential Planning Tools
  • We Interrupt This Program
  • It's Time for an Attitude Adjustment
  • Oxygen Masks and Monkey Bread Days
  • Training Your Children
  • Making Memories
  • Managing Your Home
  • All of Life is Learning
  • Solo Act: Flourishing as a Single Mom
  • Home Business
  • Moving Ahead

What did I think?
I received this book in the mail and began right away as part of my summer reading.  I read the book in 1 week because I could not put it down.  I found that this book was exactly what I needed to help me focus and plan for my new school year.  I'm fairly certain that the author and I could be great friends because we seem to think so much alike.  She presented many scheduling and planning ideas that were similar to what I was already trying to use in our homeschool; however, she took them several steps further and gave additional insights that I had somehow missed.  It must be the fact that she's much more of a veteran homeschooler than I am. 

As I was reading the book I almost skipped the chapters for single moms or for those who run a home business.  I am neither and I was sure that they would not apply.  I'm so glad I didn't.  The chapter about single moms gave me such a perspective on their struggles while providing ways I can encourage and help.  This quote from the author really resonated with me, "If God has called you to homeschool your children, He will provide you the strength, patience, grace, resources, and time to do it.  Let your family and your life be a testimony to God's faithfulness."  I needed that!  It's not just single moms who feel inadequate at times.  I think every mom could use a dose of that encouragement.

In the chapter for those who run a home business I found advice that proved helpful to me as a blogger - even though my blog is not a money-making business.  Mary Jo Tate challenged me to balance my time and to pursue what I enjoy.  I found that this chapter inspired me to keep blogging and to work to build my audience and write about topics that are a passion for me.  "You have to learn and do simultaneously.  Take action by implementing what you learn."  This quote encouraged me to learn more about writing and hone my skills while still blogging.  It also challenged me to continue to learn about homeschooling even while I'm in the midst of a busy homeschool schedule.

"Find peace in the space between the ideal and reality."  This quote was exactly what I needed.  I so often struggle with finding balance and allocating my time between all the things that I would love to do.  The book showed me that I have to prioritize my time but more than that, I had to make peace with my to do list and know that there are some things that are not quite important enough to make that list.  Reading through the chapters on setting goals gave me such freedom to be realistic with myself.  With 5 small children, my goals won't be as lofty as I would like, but I have to be practical with the time I've been given.

Mary Jo Tate provides a FREEDOM toolbox.  It stands for Focus, Reflect, Educate, Eliminate, Discipline, Organize, and Multitask.  In the section about educate she encourages moms to continue to educate themselves during the homeschool years.  We often are so wrapped up with teaching our children that we forget to educate ourselves and learn new things.  This so encouraged me to make time in my schedule for personal reading or some things that I wanted to do and learn.  I have found such balance and peace in making sure that I have some snippets of time for my own education and edification.  But my favorite part of the FREEDOM toolbox was the eliminate section.  This is where Mary Jo Tate encourages the reader to be realistic and to let some things go.  There are some things that should not be on my to do list and there are other things that I should delegate or even outsource to someone else.  This was so freeing to me!

The book also provided practical scheduling advice.  The author's days follow more of a predictable routine in which her children know their chore and schoolwork expectations.  She provided sample chore and schedule outlines to help in planning.  I found that this chapter helped me begin working on a realistic schedule for next year, remembering to delegate certain subjects or to skip over things that are not a priority.

I loved the goal setting chapter!  Mary Jo Tate encourages you to write yearly and monthly goals as well as smaller weekly goals.  This helped me better organize my goals and create a more doable plan for my weeks and months.  She suggested putting goals in categories such as personal, family, and business.  She also encouraged the creation of a running to do list and a list of things that need to be stopped because they are not lining up with your overall goals.  After working through this chapter, I've written down some goals for each month in the categories of personal, family, blog, reading, and homeschool.  I also have kept a running to do list where I can jot down everything that pops into my head and then I can add it to certain weeks or months as I find time in my schedule.

Mary Jo Tate provides parenting advice for training children to be helpers around the house.  I've learned that I cannot keep up with the house and homeschooling by myself.  This lifestyle is a family commitment and this book has encouraged me to continue to teach my children how to help around the house and encourage family participation.  I also loved how she also addressed the attitudes of moms.  She challenged me to let go of my perfectionism and my guilt and make peace with the reality that is my current life right now.  And once I've found peace I can once more enjoy the journey.

My wrap up!
This is quite possibly the most practical and realistic homeschool book that I've read in a long time.  But what I loved most is that the book is also encouraging and uplifting at the same time.  I came away inspired and encouraged to dive into planning for my new school year.

The author's heart for homeschool moms and her experience as a veteran homeschooler shine through her writing and leave you equipped to tackle yet another homeschool year.  I have now recommended this book to all of my homeschool mom friends and I plan to read through it every summer to help me refocus and prioritize for every new school year.  

So, homeschool mommas, go get yourself a copy.  I certainly won't be loaning my copy out!  It resides permanently on my nightstand shelf.

More info....
Flourish can be purchased for $15

You can find Flourish and Mary Jo Tate on social media

Click to read Crew Reviews

Crew Disclaimer

July 23, 2014

A Wasted Homeschool Day

Do you ever have a homeschool day that you're just sure has been wasted?  I know I have those days.  That's when I heard the word "failure" in the back of my mind.  

But what does a wasted, failure of a homeschool day look like?

First let me tell you what does not constitute a wasted homeschool day:
Veering off the lesson plan to follow your child's interests
Not finishing the lesson plan because you were busy building a relationship with your child
Spending your day exploring the outdoors
Taking an impromptu field trip
Watching a movie together on the couch
Spending a day working on good character and resolving discipline issues

In other words, spending time together, building relationships, learning in various nontraditional settings, building character, and learning flexibility are not wastes of time.  Nope, on these days, your learning might look a little (or a lot) different.  But you're still learning and there is value to your day.  So on the days when you don't feel like your day isn't much to write home about, know that you're still accomplishing great things. 

So what is a wasted homeschool day?
  • When you haven't planned fully - This is the day that you think you'll wing it.  It's not long before your day crashes down all around you.  You're not productive; you feel scattered; your children feel lost.  On these days you spend time hunting down lost resources, re-reading parts of the teacher's manual that you don't quite understand, or running to the store for items that you forgot to purchase.  
The first key to a successful homeschool day is preparation and planning.  

  • When you haven't prepared your heart for the day - You might have lesson-planned and purchased supplies but you woke up with a rotten attitude.  You feel burnt out and tired or you don't want to face your children and attempt to teach.  Your day is wasted because you have so many missed opportunities to sneak in learning, excite them, challenge them, encourage them, and build on your relationship with them.  
The second key to a successful homeschool day is finding time to refresh and recharge through self-education, devotions, prayer, or encouragement from others. 

  • When you're not fully engaged - When your teaching with a divided heart and only giving your children part of your attention because you're too busy making plans for later or thinking about all the chores or cleaning or cooking or reading or sleeping that you could be doing, you just wasted your homeschool day.  Your children miss you and they don't rise to their fullest potential when you're only half-heartedly schooling them.
The third key to a successful homeschool day is being attentive to your children and their needs and being fully engaged and enthusiastic about learning. 

It's easy to waste away your homeschool day.  On the other hand, it's simple to experience success.  You don't have to be a rocket scientist to homeschool your kids, you just need a plan, a prepared heart, and a fully engaged mind.  Homeschooling success looks different for each family but it is achievable for anyone.

Hip Homeschool Moms

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