Sensory Games

Sensory Games

GROUP games for review time

  • Musical chairs (place questions/ categories or cards on each chair)
  • Fly swatter (swat the questions/ categories or cards to answer)
  • Bean bag toss / catch (repeat the answer as your tossing the bean bag to a partner)
  • Mother May I (march, baby steps, jump, hop, skip, frog jump, scissor steps, scoot on the booty, duck waddle, crab walk, deer leap, snake slither, pirouette, etc)
  • 4 corners (amy mitby’s game)
  • Draw back (Draw on each others backs with a finger)
  • Snowball fight (get cotton balls for right answers… when all the answers are done, throw cotton balls at each other)
  • Marco Polo (when someone is tagged answer a question, you could say questions and answers instead of Marco Polo “apud, with”)
  • Wall Tag (tag the answer on the wall, answers taped with painters tape throughout room)
  • Freeze Tag, Blob Tag (the ‘it’ person tags someone and they answer a question – they can help each other if needed)
  • Freeze dance (answer a question together when music stops)
  • Twister (colors represent categories)
  • Hopscotch (questions in spaces)
  • Obstacle course (get to go thru when you answer a question)
  • Hot potato (sing history sentence… when it stops you don’t want to be holding the potato… answer a question if you are holding the potato when the music stops)
  • Pretend to be a ____ today (cowboy hands lasso answers, safari with a butterfly net and canteen catching answers, hunter shooting the answer)
  • Pick up items with toes only (items could represent categories or questions)

SOLO  games for review time (some of these can be group games)

  • Silly voices
  • Eyes closed, tongue out, fish lips, opera, king, robot, baby, etc)
  • Hand motions
  • Dress the tutor
  • Metronome movement – say the answers to the beat
  • Hide small items in a sensory bin, each item represents a question or category
  • Blow up a balloon and watch it fly away, or pop it
  • Swing and say
  • Rope Climb and say
  • Mummies in the dark (answer questions while wrapped up)

In-between resetting items

  • Vowel stretch – make body like each vowel, folding and unfolding the body, while deeply inhaling and pronouncing the vowel on the exhale
  • Joint compression
  • Body brushing
  • Swinging
  • Pulling or pushing the wagon
  • Carry something heavy, put something heavy on lap

Sensory play for geography or letters / numbers (add spray-bottle with water for another dimension or toys to run through medium):

  • Shaving cream
  • Sand, dry or wet
  • Lotion
  • Pudding
  • Gelatin
  • Sweetened condensed milk
  • Grains, cooked or raw
  • Spaghetti, cooked or raw
  • Theraputty / weighted arm or leg bands
  • Cornstarch
  • Tissue and (1 part glue, 2 parts water) to paint on tissue and lift off paper to leave color behind
  • Applesauce
  • Yogurt
  • Slushie
  • Slurpee
  • Shake
  • Toothpicks and food
  • Custard
  • Gently warm 2 tsp cornflour, 1 tbsp sugar, vanilla extract, 2 cups milk or milk substitute. Let cook before play.
  • Playdough
  • Gently warm until ball forms in pot: 2 c flour, 1 c salt, 4 tsp cream of tartar, 2 c water, 4 tsp veggie oil. Optionally add sand, safe smelly oils, or glitter. Store in airtight container.
  • Ornament dough
  • ½ cup cinnamon, ½ cup applesauce, 1 tsp glue is optional, mix and roll to ½” thick, make a hole with toothpicks, and let dry 10 hours

Non-sensory

Note: could set up review centers that parents help administer

GROUP games

  • Jeopardy
  • War (person who flips the higher card gets to answer the question. If they get it wrong the other person gets to try and answer. Correct answerer gets cards).
  • Headbandz (put clues on your head and try to give the wearer clues or answers to guess what it is)

Group OR solo

  • Number Dice + Color Dice (color indicates subject, # indicates review week)
  • I spy / I see a steamboat coming / Memory detective – give clues to the question or answer… This is all the same game. “I see a steamboat coming and it’s loaded with…”
  • Penny Toss or ping pong toss (into numbered muffin tins or cups)
  • Clothesline cards (clothes pin cards to a string, see how long you can make it)
  • Treasure hunt (hide cards in the room and find and answer them)
  • Bingo
  • Penny for your thoughts (correct answers get a penny)
  • Sports skills (answer so you can try to kick a ball into the goal, etc)
  • Build a tower, shoot it down
  • Make a story
  • Any board game (answer before your turn)
  • Draw a picture
  • Build a lego man
  • Hangman (right answers mean you can go again, wrong answers add a body part. Or you can use actual hangman with a secret code the kids discover as they get to guess a letter with each right answer).

Solo

  • Quiz bowl (cards in a bowl)
  • Banana grams
  • Penny for your thoughts / sweet thoughts (earn a penny or candy for each answer)
  • Draw what you see / hear
  • Math 500 (math review)
  • Make a museum (find items that represent memory work, set up around the home, and explain to dad when he gets home)
  • Target #
  • String beads while listening (make a bracelet for right answers)
  • Make a pasta tower (string pasta on spaghetti, stick spaghetti in putty or play dough to make it stand up, get more pasta for right answers)
  • Marble pictures (marbles rolling around tray through paint) while listening
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Homeschool Mid-Year Review

We’re almost to Christmas, and I haven’t done a formal review since October 12th. There are some questions I like to address as I do a review, so I thought I’d write them in this blog (a) for accountability, (b) so you have an example you can use too, (c) to get me ready before my big planning push in early January.

Here’s a copy you can print of the pages I use.

This is the first year I’ve invited other ladies to join me for a planning day. Since I need peace and quiet, and supplies at home, I’ll do the actual planning at home. However, I hope they’ll meet me for breakfast and lunch that day for chatting and camaraderie while my husband whisks the kids off to some fabulous adventure.

Before I start this review, let me say some prefacing statements. I’ve enjoyed getting more and more pregnant this year, which is now making me tired as I run into the last leg of welcoming the baby. I am going to approach this assessment with grace for myself – I am not full of pride, nor do I have an inflated view of what we’ve done. I do my best to not compare myself to other moms who are homeschooling, and I hope you aren’t either.

We’re almost 40% of the way into our school year! Woohoo! This is Micah’s “Transitional Kindergarten” year, because he started the year at 4, and will end when he’s 5.5. We’ve completed 69 homeschool days so far, and have 121 days left to go, if I’m trying to reach 180 days. Truth be told, I teach all summer too, so I don’t know why I’m counting. Probably just because I’m analytical about this, so I can quantify it for my own accountability.

Let’s go with the assessment now.

How well are we doing overall in our home? In homeschool itself, we are doing well. There are so many things I can do better but we are progressing in the main areas, so for that I’m grateful to God to have given us the persistence and discipline to keep moving forward. Some improvements I’ve made have been due to linking certain parts of our day. Other improvements I’ve made have been due to me following the rhythm of my children.

  1. Making beds before breakfast.
  2. Morning Bible, Devotion, Reading and Math before vitamins.
  3. Breaking when the kids get crazy for outside play time.
  4. Allowing myself the mercy of at-home days when I’m just plain tired, or when we’ve had an especially packed time the day before.

How well am I meeting daily goals? We’ve taken 3 days off of homeschooling in the past 40 school days, and 3 of them were field trip days; however I’ve only written down notes for 20 of those days. How can you track what you can’t measure? I’d say the first 8 days of this assessment period I recorded our progress just fine, recording an average of about 90% of what I’d want to track. But after day 8, the majority of the days I just tracked the bare minimum, only writing about 10-25% of what we did that day. This is ridiculous because I have the tools already in place – but I’m a little tired right now – here’s what I do when I’m tired of schooling. Also, you could see this post about resetting and regrouping your homeschool year about this time last year.

  1. We’ve only done our memory verses 7 / 40 times – given how important this is, I’m most concerned about this. And I’d say we’re not praying consistently enough. We have been faithful however with our Morning Symposium, which is just daily Bible reading and devotion time.
  2. We need to do a better job in the areas of daily toy-pick-up-before-dad-gets-home, and helping with chores. The problem is I don’t consistently hold to a reward system.

What progress am I seeing in the following areas?

Bible. We were able to start The Children’s Bible on October 3rd (before this review period begins), and we are 51 stories into it, in a 50 day period. This is because Micah begs me for more each day. In 3 more stories we will be done with Genesis and get do start Exodus. My 2 year old doesn’t enjoy this older Bible as much. Ian and I decided we need to really get Kade’s Bible time in during his nap time every afternoon, since it’s much more on his level.

Ian also continues to read a chapter from the Bible during dinnertime. We finished Revelation and moved onto Psalms, but for December, we’re taking a hiatus to work through the devotions in our advent book, “The Advent Jesse Tree: Devotions for Children and Adults to Prepare for the Coming of the Christ Child at Christmas“. I love this devotion book for Christmas, and Ian and I will read it long after the children are out of the nest – there’s a child’s portion and an adult’s portion of the book.

We also started “Young Peacemakers” lessons on October 24th, and finally finished Lesson 1 twenty-eight lessons later. Remember, this is not about speed.

Timeline. Micah continues to love his CC history timeline. We’re moving into week 13, so that means we’ve learned 91 “pegs”, or events on the timeline so far, starting with Creation. For this review period, in Cycle 2 of Classical Conversations, we’ve moved from weeks 7 to 12, which means we went from when Jesus was born to The Spanish Inquisition, so we’re into the Age of Exploration at this point. Last week, we did a big timeline review where Micah “competed” with Ian, and Micah was able to put all but about 4 cards in order for each week – we have a card for each peg. He can’t sing the Timeline song without help from start to finish (he loops back sometimes), but because we played the game I know he can recall the song if you put cards in front of him and use the song to get those cards in order.

History. We’ve learned about the Reformation and the 95 theses, the French Revolution, the Magna Carta and the 100 years war, European explorers, Napoleon Bonaparte and General Wellington, and the Industrial Revolution. Since I do book hauls (here’s how, including what books I pulled for these weeks), Micah is not just learning random facts, but he’s reading a little bit about each topic – this goes for all topics, not just history. We’re also working our way through a social studies book called “My World”. I’ve only done 2 lessons in 40 days. Ideally, I would have liked to have done 8.

English. English I’ve found to be a little more challenging this time, because in addition to some possessive adjectives (ok, not so hard), he’s working through a long list of pronouns that go from reflexive, interrogative, demonstrative, and indefinite – it’s the indefinite list that is indefinitely gruesome, even we have a cute song to help us remember them. I obviously haven’t found the right pneumonic for this.

Science. Science has been awesome. We love all things space, so Micah’s been able to learn quickly the kinds of stars, phases of the moon, parts of the sun, other bodies of the solar system, planets (we’ve known these for a long time) and U.S. space missions. The projects for science have been great and have ranged from making constellations, to launching rockets, to making a giant parking-lot sized proportionate model of our solar system. We also took a trip to a solar program this year, and that was amazingly fun. We also read Act One of “The Human Body Theater” which was all about the Skeletal System. This was fascinating for Micah since he likes bones. We will learn about muscles next, and some physics. We like physics in this house, so I don’t anticipate any issues here.

Geography. In geography we’ve studied the European peninsulas and seas, Eastern Europe, the Mid-Atlantic World, the Caribbean, Southwest Asia. Next we’re going back to Northern Europe. I haven’t had Micah do much mapping by hand, though he watches me trace the map for the next week’s work each week – I put these traced map up on a learning board that we both use throughout the week. He’s mainly learned this through the CC cycle 2 App, which I have on our devices, and sometimes play it through Apple TV on our one and only television.

 

Latin. Latin seems easy because we’re only doing 1st conjugation endings, and I have him listen to some Sing Song Latin Songs (but I never drill him on Sing Song Latin). He could use some work on remembering the tense and the first word for each tense. There are only 6 sets of these we have to learn this year, and we’re looping back through to the first set already.

Math. Micah LOVES math. He sometimes opts to do more math than I have him set to do. We finished Kindergarten Book A in Singapore Math and he was elated. We started book B, and while this version is black and white, he doesn’t seem to care. He breezes through the pages. What’s tough for him is the writing part of it. As of now, we don’t do any formal handwriting, except for what appears in his math book. We will start handwriting this January, however. In Kindergarten Book A we covered matching, sorting, numbers up to 10, ordering numbers, shapes and patterns, comparing sets, and measurements. To be honest, this book was far too easy for him. I think that’s why he likes math though, and I like that he’s practicing his handwriting in such a low-demand way. Book B takes him from comparing numbers, to numbers up to 100, number bonds, addition and subtraction, more ordering, time, even and odd and fractions. Micah can count well past 100 by now, and can mostly do his skip counting from 1 to 15, and then by 100’s up to 1,000. He’s just starting to connect the dots that skip counting means multiplying. Micah can also add and subtract decently, but especially with manipulatives. His weakness is working too quickly, so I like the review in Singapore, and there’s not hurt in going over math until it’s second-hand nature, since it’s cumulative. We only did Abacus 1 day. However, Micah is thoroughly enjoying dot-to-dots and he loves mazes. And I love these because he’s also working his fine motor skills, or pre-writing skills.

Reading. Reading is a big deal for us this review period. We did well here, and it’s the hardest part of Micah’s day because it takes the most focus on his part, and the most patience on my part. We started the Book It! Program and that has been very motivating to Micah, and a useful accountability tool for me. He’s earned his reward for 2 months in a row now, so he’s 2 for 2. We need to go get his Pizza from November and celebrate. We are two lessons from finishing “How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.” This means on Tuesday we get to have a big celebratory ice-cream party! And believe me, I will be celebrating just as much as he will be! I ordered this book in October of 2014 when Micah was almost 3, but we started it at the tail end of Micah’s 3rd year. Before that we did lots of phonics games, and it was perfect. Now I’ve been met with the challenge of ‘what next???’. I got great recommendations from trusty, more experienced homeschool moms. I was generously given the “Spell to Write and Read” core books, and have done some digging myself. I decided that next we will (a) move onto easy readers at level 1 and 2 from the library, (b) start hand-writing very slowly, (c) review phonics, and (d) start spelling using the Spell to Write and Read. Funnix was a good program, but I spoke to a rep on the phone from Funnix, and it’s only computer-based. Micah’s just too young for required screen time in my opinion, and I sometimes see behavior whip-lash from screen time. I’d rather go with something that still allows us to cuddle up somewhere if we want. “Spell to Write and Read” is a complicated program to pick up. It requires a lot of pre-reading on my part. I purchased the amazing, wonderful, tremendously helpful “Uncovering the Logic of English” book and am reading that before starting back in “Spell to Write and Read”. There are 11 steps to complete before getting to “The Wise Guide for Spelling” which contains the actual lesson plans for this curriculum. I anticipate we will spend at least a solid 40 days practicing phonograms, playing phonogram games, reading easy readers, and learning correct cursive penmanship for the 26 letters and 0-9.

What were our favorite field trips? We had three chances to feed the animals at Emma Prusch Farm Park – that’s a major draw! Each time we go, Ms. Lisa explains something different to us, and we observe new behavior about the animals. The last time we went we learned about some of the digestive needs of the goats, we helped her find a growth on one of the bunny’s eyes that needs attention, learned about how much care these animals need and how farm hands sanitize their dishes, and we watched how aggressive turkeys are around their food – yikes!

We also loved Yosemite National Park in the snow – we built snowmen and had snowball fights! We adored the Fremont solar program, the Portola Redwood Forest, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

We tried camping at Uvas Canyon County Park and failed. Due to Rain. The first time it rained since we moved here. Noah was finishing his Arc next to our tent. That’s how much it was raining, so it seemed.
But… we hiked and explored Rodeo Cove in the Marin Headlands, Coyote Point Recreation Area, Fort Funston, and Sanborn County Park. We played at many, many playgrounds around town.
This time of year brings some seasonal fun too, like a visit to Spina Farms, the fall festival at church, birthday celebrations, and Christmas in the Park and a Walk Through Bethlehem.
We did some focused outreach. Some of this outreach happened before this review period, but some leaked over into this review period.
What was our favorite art or music lesson or topic? Someone should sound a fail alarm for music, because we only did one formal piano lesson in the last 40 days. We are still learning music theory, however, and he knows a relative amount of theory for someone so young. Micah’s picked up learning tin whistle, and can play Mary Had a Little Lamb, but I lament his lack of piano here. And I haven’t taught him more than the one song on tin whistle. We haven’t found a piano teacher, and I need the accountability of someone else to teach him. Oh yea, grace for the season, right? At least he started learning a new instrument and likes it! In fact, the last six weeks have been all about tin whistle, music dynamics, rhythm, scale, and music symbols.
I also made playlists for all 24 weeks of lessons, so he listens to rounds of various scripture to song, classical music, seasonal / holiday music, folk music, and classic kindergarten songs in addition to memory work.
He’s moving into the age where he’s really beginning to enjoy drawing, so I purchased the Draw Write Now Book 1 and he’s enjoyed the lesson we tried. We are starting to move back into visual arts again in CC, so we’ve been looking at fine art together. I’m excited about the next 6 weeks of CC!
We enjoyed some math art, and of course, holiday crafts and cooking too.
Oh, and he tried a hip hop dance program at the YMCA and loved it! We need to go back!
What were some of our favorite learning games? Micah’s favorite learning games, by far, include War, building a tower with Solo Cups, solo cup bowling, and solo cup CC-Pong. I’ve gotten lazy in offering him quality review time. Kade has not been napping! It’s exasperating. And I’m tired and need the down time being this pregnant. Grace for the season, right? Micah LOVES legos and spends a long time building new creations almost every day.
What trends have we noticed in behavior for each child? Kade is fully in his two-year old stride. He’s ready to potty train, but I’m not ready to potty train him! And he requires consistent follow through, that I do what I say I’m going to do. Micah needs more patience with Kade and to learn to let me help Kade share, comply, or whatever the case may be. There is the normal brother teasing that happens every. single. day. So tiring. Micah does better in correction if I pull him in for a hug and a smile while I correct him. Sometimes this is not possible.

What improvements in character have we seen in each child? I’m enjoying Kade’s “my turn” phase. He’s really wanting and trying to do everything himself! While this doesn’t have to do with character, it’s more developmental progress I want to recall. Micah is so sweet and compassionate about his baby sister and my pregnancy it’s just darling. And many times I find him helping his little brother, or talking sweetly, or recruiting to persuade him instead of force him to do something. It blesses me to see Micah have patience and discipline to finish hard things. We are benefiting from Peacemaker lessons!

What needs more attention?

  • Scripture Memory work!
  • Chores and cleanliness, including ‘the daily 15 minute round-up’
  • Indefinite list of pronouns and grammar games
  • Abacus and manipulatives, math games, mazes and dot-to-dots.
  • My World lessons. There are 6 units, and I’m on Unit 3 Lesson 4.
  • Piano and music appreciation. Perhaps we should pay Ian what we used to pay his favorite teacher and make it a formal weekly lesson again so he structures his lessons. I did purchase music flashcards for Christmas so he will have fun using those.

How well have we followed through in new ideas, investigations, and integrations? I’ve done a better job honoring God first with morning symposium than last review period – this is important to our family. We didn’t do as well with being consistent with scripture memory work, but we have done better in reading and math consistency. I noted last review period he needs more time with geography, the timeline, english review and manipulatives. I think I’ve done the best with the timeline, but the rest lag behind a bit.

What answered prayers have we noted? There are so many answered prayers to list! God answered me about taking in the Support Representative position with CC. He’s been so clear to some specific questions I have for Him. He’s given me peace and wisdom for homeschooling and parenting, and I notice a change in behavior when we pray throughout the day, but especially when we set the tone in the morning.

What were some of the most memorable moments and victories this month? The biggest victories or memorable moments are probably finishing out his math book A, and seeing how excited he was to move up a level! I’m so glad he’s happy about this accomplishment.

Kade’s language is really exploding into 3 and 4 word sentences. He can almost count to ten. He understands letters represent sounds on a page, and asks me to write his name all the time. He loves to tuck his animals into bed and says “here go” to them, and “aw” as he admires them. He loves to pray. He can do summersaults really well now, and is very brave climbing challenging structures on the playground.

What were some biggest evidences in grace, mercy, faithfulness, protection and provision we noted? God is helping us budget better, or have more discipline. I’m understanding some hard lessons learned about stewardship and waiting on Him before I make decisions. I’ve learned about the topics of Grace and Righteousness, doing some deep dives myself. I’ve been really blessed by some women friends from church and CC! Surprise baby showers. Who would have thought? With regard to the SR position in CC, He’s rolling that right along too… and the biggest fruit from this is my listening, prayer, and new friendships forming.

What insights, revelations and feedback have been impacting this month? 

Hmmm… probably how much more we should focus on our ‘frogs’: Worship time, prayer, Bible, and scripture memorization. Then everything else can come. I need to do a better job setting time-slots for work and honoring margin with the new SR position. I need to do a better job getting the boys to do chores. Less TV time even if I need to lay down. Be more creative with other quiet activities for the boys.

Some things I’d like to keep in mind for next semester:

  • Math – There are 151 more pages to cover the Kindergarten B book, so I expect this will take another 75 school days or so.
  • Start Young Peacemakers Lesson 6.
  • Start hand-writing and spelling, and phonics. I anticipate we will spend at least a solid 40 days practicing phonograms, playing phonogram games, reading easy readers, and learning correct cursive penmanship for the 26 letters and 0-9.
  • Start The Properties of Ecosystems. There are 35 lessons. I’d like to do one a week.
  • Start the Lives of the Scientists – there are 18 of them. I’d like to do one a week.
  • Read the Human Body Theater – start at Act 2 muscles
  • Try the idea of loop schedules for more items
  • Try presentations for Dad each weekend

Loop schedule samples

  • social studies
  • science – ecology
  • spelling deep dive
  • science sundays
  • history
  • geography game
  • math game
  • review time
  • daddy presentations
  • art project
  • music appreciation
  • bake 

Outdoor afternoon loop schedule

  • nature journal
  • bike ride
  • park play date
  • YMCA dance
  • chalk drawing in back
  • dog bathing
  • sidewalk sweeping 
  • hike
  • gardening
  • entrepreneurship 
  • farmers market
  • tour/museum/extracurricular 

Chore Loop schedule

  • declutter
  • wipe walls
  • wipe cabinets and baseboards
  • sweep floors/ mop
  • dust surfaces
  • sort toys
  • clean hamster cage

Quiet time loop study

  • Lego’s
  • Jenga
  • poetry 
  • Aesop’s fables

How to do a Classical Conversations Book Haul, Cycle 2, weeks 11-14

I enjoy sharing my book hauls so you can gather some ideas for your next library visit. We are well embedded in the grammar stage of classical learning, which means we are focused on the who, the what, the when. Sometimes we learn the how and why, but I don’t necessarily embellish for topics for things that are complex like things of historical nature. Rather, we make indulgences in science to learn the why or how of things, listen to more music or look at more art. More often we are just out exploring nature and the things around us.

Let’s get into the book haul now.

We happen to have the timeline cards for classical conversations, and the science cards. We also have a science encyclopedia. But when I approach a new section of learning for CC, I look up about three weeks of information at a time. This happens one of two ways:

Method one. Online in my library’s online catalogue… in this case I ask the library to reserve the books for me and set them aside. This allows me the flexibility of picking them up from the check out area at anytime, kids in tow or not

Method two. At the library either by myself or with the kid’s librarian’s help… in this case I need my husband’s help focusing on my kids while I search

Before I go searching and compiling. Before I use either pick up method, I just make a list of the upcoming topics covered by CC. In this case, it was weeks 11-14. I just literally handwrite a list starting with the timeline, history, science, math, English and geography topics. And in that list, I look for overlapping subjects, so I can consolidate the books I need if possible.


I also look up the book list from Half A Hundred Acre Wood’s blog online. And the kindergarten, preschool, and picture books lists from my local library, including early readers. And note any upcoming holidays.

Back to compiling my books. If I’m using method one, then while I’m logged in to the library’s catalogue I write down call numbers and sections where I will find the topics I want to cover. Then I literally go hunting, comparing a few books from each section to make sure I have one appropriate for my young Kinder-aged son. I have a heavy preference for cartoon books, comic books, picture books, story books or rhyming books if I can find related ones. Next, a heavy preference for simple explanatory books. We may not read every one word for word. Sometimes I summarize. Sometimes we soak in the pictures if the book is very advanced but that’s all that was available.

I may have to ask the librarian for help if certain books are missing. See how not everything is crossed off my lists? That’s okay!

Here’s how my lists end up looking before I go hunting.


If I’m using method 2, I look at user ratings to help me decide which ones to pull.

My kids also get to pick books at random that they’d enjoy.

This is what we ended up with for weeks 11-14 for Cycle 2 of classical conversations.


In my last book haul, you’ll see we covered Week 11 already. I don’t mind doing weeks over again, whatsoever. We have a break week due to Thanksgiving, so we can take advantage of that buffer.

This is where the type A in me halts to a grand stop. We read twice a day, before rest time and bed time. We read four or five books… or if the books are long, a chapter… or if the books are really long, a page. We “dog ear” where we left off and pick it up again whenever we feel like it.

As our three weeks comes to an end we either return the books we’ve had enough of, or renew the books we want more time with.

We are discovering so much this way! My son’s favorite book from the last haul was called “Plagues, Pox, and Pestilence”. I never would have guessed that he’d be so into that! And on our drive today he proclaimed “I really love Buzz Aldrin” and asked me if I knew about Vostok missions.

Here’s one more view of the book haul for weeks 11-14 for Cycle 2 for you.


There’s no way around the fact that this is time-consuming. Method one takes a solid hour and a half for me to cover three CC weeks. Method two takes me a good two hours. But we are finding the benefits are innumerable.

I didn’t include the silly books my sons picked this week or the early readers, since I am focusing on how you can do a CC haul.

We are in the grammar stage, but my young Kindergartener wants to know what he’s memorizing, so off we go every three weeks to fill in some of those learning pegs with a little meat.

While some moms have impressive book collections, we don’t have the space or money to purchase all these books every week, and I’d feel gridlocked if I did it that way anyhow. I do, however, prioritize making the time.

I hope this helps some of you enjoy CC more!

Cycle 2 Weeks 8-11 Book Haul

Here’s my book haul for K-3rd for Classical Conversations weeks 8-11 for Cycle 2. I take account upcoming holidays too.


We like very hands-on math activities. Here’s a little space puzzle for skip counting 14’s. I found the image by searching space images in google. I glued the popsicle sticks with elmer’s glue on the back of the image. Then I used a kitchen paring knife to carefully slice through and divide the popsicle sticks on a cutting board. My son didn’t want to do it until I walked away and acted like it didn’t matter if he did it or not. 5 minutes later he “surprised” me, and asked me for help with the last few pieces which weren’t numbered.

A Day in the Life of a Homeschool Mom

My kids are 5 and 2 years old. Both boys. I thought it would be fun to post a day in the life of our home. Our schedule is more of a routine than it is a schedule, meaning we follow patterns over being gridlocked by timing. That said though, there are regular things we do each week and month.

This morning both boys were up at 6:30am. I got up and put on praise music, and made a quiche for a ladies’ gathering which was meeting at 9:30am this morning, and heated up two pieces of quiche that I had made from two days ago for the little one and myself. My older son doesn’t like quiche, regardless of what I call it: egg pie, egg cake, egg pizza… he will have none of it. Thus, we all enjoyed hot cocoa and peaches for breakfast, and either muffins or quiche.

Then we got on to our morning symposium. This is our Bible story, and as of right now, a Young Peacemaker’s “sliver” of a lesson. We are reading from the Bible I had growing up, because my oldest son is finally ready for this one. It’s Paul Hamlyn’s Children’s Bible in Color. I say we do a sliver of a lesson in Young Peacemakers, because that’s our attention span right now. My son is fully grasping the concepts, however, so I am grateful that I’m meeting the purpose instead of feeling some false external insane time-bound pressure.

Right after our Bible time, we go on to our reading lesson in “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons”.  I wrote about how we do this reading lesson here, but I will add that I started numbering the lines of the long stories. It puts my son in control of his ‘reading guide’ and enables him to have the book right in front of him instead of closer to me. As I become more pregnant, I am having trouble scooting up close enough to the table anyway.

After reading, we do math. We are using Singapore Math Kindergarten Book A. At the time I didn’t realize I ordered the Common Core Edition. I don’t think there’s any difference between regular Kindergarten math and common core kindergarten math, though, so I don’t mind. My son does well in math, so lessons are quick. I do the book more so he can practice writing. We don’t do formal writing yet, for many reasons.

After that, I consider it break time. During that time, the little one who is 2, is either running through the house, or sitting down with his own drawing notebook (a composition book) to draw, scribble, paste and do dot art. Every time he sits down to draw, I write a ‘the next’ capital and lowercase letter on the page, so when we go back through his notebook to admire his drawings we can practice the alphabet.

Today we headed out to a Bible study. The kids play and the moms get some much-needed reflection time. Some moms bring a treat to share. Like I said, I brought quiche. Our whole morning lesson took an hour. Sometimes if my son is really focused, it could be faster, but we’ve literally covered the core pieces that I care about already, all before 9am.

It took me 15 minutes to rally them into the car and do a double check that I had all the items I needed to lead the study, bring the quiche and plates/cups etc, and diapers/wipes, etc. I should pack the diaper bag the night before every night, but sometimes I’m tired.

We got there on time, and I find these women revitalizing and enjoy their company. What a blessing they are to me!

We left at 10 after noon after helping clean up toys a little and picking some fresh lemons from the hostess’ tree. What a fine treat!!

On our 11 minute drive home I caught up with a friend, and lagged in the street talking because my tot fell asleep in that short time.

We had to try nap time twice today. But in-between nap time, I fed this crew some Annie’s mac and cheese mixed with last night’s fresh lemon cilantro parsley zucchini and carrots – mac and cheese day is an indulgent treat. During our lunch, we reviewed our new material for Classical Conversations (CC). It took only 10 or 15 minutes to do that.

Feeling big and pregnant, I let us watch a show. It was a lovely show about house cats that we found on Netflix. Then we read stories, and tried nap time again. Nap time didn’t work. So we got up, my tot decided to go #2 in the potty for the 2nd time (yay!!!).

Then we played stacking cups which is just making towers out of solo cups. We also played the old game that magicians play sometimes, where you hide something under a cup, and rotate three cups around to try and guess where it is in the end. <— these two games make great CC review games by the way. We tried balancing cups on our head and walking while reciting our math squares song for CC. This is how I fit CC into our day in a fun way. I’ve found that every single game under the sun can be a CC game. A few times doing this, and my son will have the whole week down. He already knows the science for this week, and I didn’t feel like I really taught it to him. Part of his knowledge comes from the books we choose. I’ll post another reading haul again in a few days, for Cycle 2 Weeks 9 to 12. I also put on CC music during my older son’s rest time, but it’s mixed in with about 2 hours of other music too. Much of that music is Bible verses sung outloud to beautiful music, and then your standard Kindergarten music. Also in that mix, is relevant Story of the World chapters.

After that, I put the tot on my back for a piggy back ride and played chase older brother through the house. And then older brother decided he’d delight me with brushing my hair. How wonderful! We also rehearsed our notes rhymes that tell us how to memorize the notes on a staff line while we played.

This is our homeschool day! It’s as simple as that, and it’s fun! If you’re thinking of homeschooling, don’t let anyone intimidate you away from it. Homeschooling is awesome. It gets more complicated as children get older, but that’s why we start young. Just remember to keep it fresh.

That’s our day today! On other days, we’ve followed similar routines, but portions of the day may be pushed later in the day because we’ve gotten an earlier start. And often on those long days, I’ve plunked my kids in a loooong bath to decompress… to the tune of an hour long pruney-fingered dunk.

I hope this encouraged some of you to keep it simple, and take it slow! Do what your children need, and put God first.

 

 

Sun observations for Cycle 2 Week 8

Since we are studying parts of the sun for week 8 of classical conversations in cycle 2, we found a sun program, and a star program to go enjoy at Fremont Peak.

Amateur astonomers volunteer to set up their scopes, or the observatory’s scopes, and happily share their knowledge with you.
Firstly, look at the spectacular view we are enjoying! For you CCers, this is definitely a scrubland. The clouds are not our friends when observing the heavens, but they sure are pretty!

“When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth.” 

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭3:14-15‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“Who can understand the spreading of the clouds and the thunder that rolls forth from heaven?”

‭‭Job‬ ‭36:29‬ ‭NLT‬

We also found some creepy crawlers that were entertaining. I will load these up to an app so bug-officianados can tell us what we saw.

This little obervation station was modest, but holds a much more powerful refractor than we have at home. Of course, the roof opens and then you can see out. Otherwise, the astronomers set their own scopes out on gravel pads outside.

I love these weekend adventures because it gets Dad involved and able to participate in what we are learning. 

We were able to meet Sal (in the white shirt) who told us how sun spots form, and that they usually occur in tandem with solar flares. From that, and some searching online, learned that there’s what is called a sun spot cycle, because there’s a rhythm that God gave their existence too. How amazing is our Lord!

“If he commands it, the sun won’t rise and the stars won’t shine. He alone has spread out the heavens and marches on the waves of the sea. He made all the stars—the Bear and Orion, the Pleiades and the constellations of the southern sky. He does great things too marvelous to understand. He performs countless miracles.”

‭‭Job‬ ‭9:7-10‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Even my 2 year old understood he was looking at the sun. How cute!

There is a special filter on these telescopes that allow us to safely see the sun. Otherwise, you’d burn your eye and go blind. We got some safety lessons too, and I appreciate when my children hear safety tips from other adults. You know – because children “tune you out” sometimes – because they hear you all day, especially when you homeschool!

This red image is a picture of what we saw in the lens of the scope with a filter that allowed us to look for solar flares. We didn’t see any solar flares, but we did see some texture on the sun’s corona (outer layer) that was interesting, however, barely observable.

This yellow image was what you see when you’re looking at a lens with a filter that allows you to look for sun spots. No sun spots were visible today.

We drew a sun diagram in the gravel and named the parts of the sun we are learning. We threw rocks into our sun, trying to hit the various spots of interest too. Here you see the sun’s core, radiative zone, convective zone, sun spots (in the photosphere), and corona.

We made up some hand motions to help us learn the sun’s parts too:

  1. We start by making a small ball with our fists. 
  2. Then we blow “helium and hydrogen” in our hands to make our ball “900 times bigger than the Earth”. 
  3. And we then touch each part of the sun, and pretend it burns us, starting with the core (we poke the center of our imaginary sun and shout “Core! Ouch!”
  4. For the radiative zone we move our fingers in and out like we are patting glue or paint into a ball – our imaginary radiative zone is larger than our imaginary core so our hands are about a soccer ball apart from each other. 
  5. For the convective zone we “wave our hands around a ball”, and our hands are about two soccer balls apart from each other.
  6. For the sun spots we “poke the sun in spots further from the center than the convective zone (in the air) in the photosphere to make sun spots”
  7. For a solar flare, we pretend like a “fire cracker is shooting off the side of our imaginary sun in the photosphere”. 
  8. And we move our hands around the “giant circumference of the sun’s corona” in a huge circle mid-air. You get the picture.

Though you can find many more online, here are some cool pages to show you some more about the sun:

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and got some ideas you could try with your kids this year!

In closing, I leave you with this:

“The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard. Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world. God has made a home in the heavens for the sun. It bursts forth like a radiant bridegroom after his wedding. It rejoices like a great athlete eager to run the race. The sun rises at one end of the heavens and follows its course to the other end. Nothing can hide from its heat.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭19:1-6‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Tin whistle tips from an old flutist

I refuse to let my son’s tin whistle become disgusting. Enter old flute tricks. Note: I also played bass clarinet and piano. But flutist tips are most relevant here.

  1. Spit cloth & cleaning rod – I highly doubt you want to purchase an actual cleaning rod and fancy spit cloth. Cut an old rag into a thin strip, about an inch thick. Tape 3 wooden skewers together and cut off their pointy ends with some fine kitchen shears – you know, the ones you use to cut through meat and bones. Wrap the end of the taped skewers with about an inch of fabric, like the amount you see here in the picture (below) and jam it all the way into the tin whistle from the base to the tip. Give it a good Harvard swish or two. Let the cloth air dry inbetween playing. Throw the cloth into the washer when it’s funky. If you’re really special you might sew the edge of your cloth. But “I ain’t got no time fo’ that.” Plus, the thicker the edges, the harder it is to jam. And “I ain’t about no struggle”.
  2. Don’t play after eating sugar. Nor with dirty fingers. Duh. Brush your teeth if you must have sugar first. That rule goes for your kids too.
  3. Unless your kid is becoming a woodwind player tape over the bottom half of the holes so it’s easier to get a “real note” out of these little instruments (for younger children).
  4. Slightly curved fingers play better notes than stiff fingers.
  5. Don’t push your lips over the fipple. Back off. You’re smothering her. *that sounds wrong. I’m feeling fiesty tonight.*
  6. Just a little wind is plenty. Less is more. Tell your kids that “less air is more”. This is true in so many other situations too. Ha!
  7. To separate notes, barely tap the mouthpiece with your tongue. There, that’ll do.
  8. Breathe through your diaphragm. Vibrato happens from your diaphragm too. Vibrato will make the notes sound less threatening and more in tune. Start slow and stay slow until you develop control over your diaphragm. *Intonation is probably way too much to ask of a tin whistle. But if you progress your kids through each of these steps above you’ll all thank each other later.*
  9. For the love of all musicians, please say the correct names for the notes. When they have this sharp (#) next to them, say (note name) sharp. Because in B scale, F# and C# are sharp. And this really means something to musicians and musicians-in-training. Otherwise your child will excel in creating dissonance when he or she tries to transfer his or her note-reading skills elsewhere, or play with other musicians. Translation: a sharp (#) is an entire half step above a regular note. On a piano, it’s the “black key” right above the “white key”.
  10. Control and accuracy are far better than speed. Build muscle memory first, then work on speeding up the tempo to a normal pace. 
  11. Work on memorizing music a phrase at a time (ex: try playing “hot cross buns”. Master this phrase once before playing it twice in a row. Get the phrasing correct, holding the third note for two beats. Then work on playing it twice in a row: “Hot cross buns. Hot cross buns.” Get the phrasing right. Then work on “one a penny, two a penny”. Get the phrasing right. Put those together: “Hot cross buns. Hot cross buns. One a penny, two a penny.” Lastly, add the ending to the song: “Hot cross buns, hot cross buns, one a penny, two a penny, hot cross buns.” 
  12. It takes a long time to build breath control. Teach your child to take short efficient breaths between phrases where they naturally fall. They will not get dizzy and faint if they are light in their air flow and taking shorter efficient breaths into their diaphragms instead of deep belly-filling breaths. I hope that description made sense.

Okay, that’ll do. Happy playing! I hope these tips keep you and your little musicians a little happier!