It's Election Day!

Today is an important day and no matter what age, I feel it is important for us to teach our children in the most age appropriate manner. So I was surfing teacherspayteachers for items to use and there was so much devoted to actually talking about Trump and Hilary, but our kindergartners don't understand who they are or what they represent. I think all they need to know is that these two people are running for president and they both have different ideas for how to run our country. Some stuff was going way BEYOND their little minds. I did find something kind of fun. It is a little book titled Yes! You can Become President! Very basic. And it came with a fun cut and paste activity AND a true/false comprehension worksheet. Just right for my little Preston. I also am going to read a couple of books. One is called One Vote, Two Votes, I Vote, You Vote.  A Dr. Seuss book! It is wonderful! And I have another book called If I Ran for President. Later on today I found another blogger I subscribe to write a post on election day and she provided a list of things you can do and she gave a great idea! Have your child watch as the states come in. Print out a map and have them color them blue or red. This is an AWESOME idea! Coloring AND involving them a bit in that process is neat, so I am going to try that out as well! And, of course, I will be taking him to the polls with me so he can experience the process and know it is important to be a part of our democracy!

Do any of you have ideas on what to do for Election Day activities with little ones? Please leave a comment!

Day in the Life of a Homeschooler!

Well, friends September is almost behind us and we have created some wonderful memories so far this school year, but reflecting back on the month I think about what it looks like each day to be a homeschooling Momma. Our days are so busy because remember I am an actual teacher and I teach all day, so our homeschooling schedule begins at 4 PM each day. Probably unusual for most, but hey, you have to do what works for your family. However, just because we start at 4 PM doesn't mean this momma isn't preparing. I actually begin each day at 6 AM with plenty of caffeine. I will make sure I have all things ready to go for that day, so I am printing and laminating away! I will then fill out my awesome Daily Log that is required by the state of Pennsylvania as to what materials we use each day, so I fill that out for the day prior. Now usually, as a teacher I like to plan the entire week out, but I don't find that efficient because each day brings different things and I never know if Preston will master a skill, so I want to allow for flexibility. However, I do have a mental plan of what it should look like. So after I fill out my Daily Log, I fill out my planner for the day prior documenting all our learning activities.

Okay, so both my little ones sleep late because I keep them up until 10 PM. Again, this is NOT traditional and many people love to judge away, but this works for my schedule. At noon I have lunch. At that time we will do the calendar and the days of the week. We will also do the weather and the seasons. I only get a half hour for lunch, so I am rushing around taking care of both Preston and Riley. I can only imagine what it will look like when Riley turns preschool age! Two to homeschool! I think at that point I will just have to become a stay-at-home mom.

At 4 PM Preston's TSS arrives and we have goals we work on, but in between that we start to sneak in our school work. Now I don't adhere to a structured schedule. I think in terms of content and whatever is heavier or more difficult, we do that first. Sometimes it is easier to transition to school work by doing our sight word flash cards. We are almost through the kindergarten sight words already! Fry's first 100 are almost mastered! It is the most amazing thing to see your child learn to read! But each day we cover sight words, spelling, a story with or without activities, phonics, math, art OR music. In art we may do cross curriculum, but we are focusing on particular artists this year. We just learned about Pablo Picasso. For music we are using rhythm sticks and hand bells. We are also learning about the various orchestra instruments. We then cover either Science or Social Studies, and writing. Health, PE, and Safety are somehow incorporated as we can.

All in all it is a busy day. We are usually done by 8PM, but sometimes it is a bit later. Now it takes us longer because we take frequent breaks. I find by doing that Preston retains more information and then doesn't put up a fight.

So as you can see we are very non-traditional in our ways.

Please comment as to how your day looks!

Getting Sick While Homeschooling

Well, I have come across a problem that I never really gave much thought to. We have been moving along just fine and then I returned to work. That first week of work wasn't too bad, but the second week was just downright awful. It was awful because I was sick. I caught a cold from my littles. So it started three weeks ago when Riley caught a cold. I didn't think much of it. I took care of her and she seemed to be doing well. Well, the first week I go back to work Preston is sick. He got sick on a Friday. We did no school work on a Friday. 

I got to thinking, what do I do when we get sick? Well, I suppose the same thing as if he were in school. He would stay home. When Preston gets sick he is REALLY SICK. We literally did nothing. So I just noted that on my daily log and moved on. However....

That Sunday, I got it. I didn't think it was going to be bad, but it was terrible. I got to thinking well what do I do when I am the teacher and I cannot teach? This is a serious problem. Well, I did the best I could. We only did Math on that Monday, then on Tuesday we did three things and then on Wednesday we were up and running again. I simply just noted it on my daily log. I mean what can you do when you are sick? Not much. This is also why it is important that we do year-round learning. It allows for much more flexibility. 

But now we are back in business and learning many new things. Preston is working  continuing to practice beginning sounds for Spelling and Phonics. We just finished learning about short A and will be working on the -AT word family. I will talk about Kiz Phonics, which is what I use as curriculum order to follow for explicit teaching of Phonics. I actually think I need to make my own curriculum. 

In Math, we are almost finished skip counting. We did 2s and 5s. This week we learn the 10s. In Science we are learning about frogs and the pond habitat. Preston learned the frog life cycle and the levels of the pond. A field trip to the pond will be taking place next week. Then we will be taking a break and focusing on apples for the month of September. There are so many things you can do with apples.

In Social Studies we continue to learn about community helpers, but it I think we will take a break and schedule some field trips in and learn about what it means to be a good citizen. This way he can link the community helpers together.

So many fun things taking place in our home in regards to learning. It is so good to be back and rather healthy. We all still have some symptoms, but feeling much, much better.

If you homeschool, or even if you don't, comment below as to how you manage to get through your day.

Learning to Read!

So, our school year has been off to a great start. We are all settled in and things are going well. I have to share how exciting it is to teach your child to read. It is the MOST amazing and exciting thing ever. So we started the kindergarten curriculum the last part of last year, so we are almost done with Fry's first 100 sight words and will be moving on to the first grade sight words. 

Now when I began my journey teaching my son I knew that I would be responsible for his reading. I didn't expect to see it so soon. I thought it would be a while, but these sight words are really the foundation! So for the last month or so he was stuck on a good chunk of words, so I stopped instruction and focused on those words. They include she, has, then, they, what. THEN has been the worst for him to get. So I am ready to move on to finish this curriculum. I turned to Pinterest and I found THE most amazing resource for Fry's first 100 words. It is sight word fluency readers. It can be found in Mrs. Kadeen Teaches store on Teachers Pay Teachers. This is AMAZING and worth the $23 I paid for it! It includes 100 simple sight word readers for all 100 hundred sight words from the Fry's First 100 list. Each sight word page targets a specific sight word. In the reader I had Preston read it three times. I read it first, then I had him read it to me, and then we read it together where he then colored that sight word in the passage. Then at the bottom it lists the sight word with the physical prompt to say it three times. I did this for those hard ones. Guess, what? The next day he had them down. I was never so excited in my life. 

But you know the best thing? He was reading!!! IT was the most amazing feeling in the world. And when I told him he was reading he got the biggest grin on his face. 

Me being the one to teach him and see that process in person is priceless. I could not ask for more. My 'lil man is reading a little bit. We are about to start the easy readers since we are learning the vowel sounds now and doing blending. I bought the PAW Patrol Phonics readers set, so it will keep it interesting.

But above all I want to shout from the rooftops, I TAUGHT MY SON TO READ!!!!

Back To Work, Back To School!

So, I went back to work yesterday. I had such high anxiety as to what it was going to look like. And even then it won't look right until September 6th when I actually begin teaching. These next two weeks is professional development. All about getting things ready. 

So home life was not too bad. Preston and Riley reverted back to their normal sleeping pattern, which is to sleep rather late. Riley awakes around 10ish or 11ish, depends on how napping goes during the day. Preston wakes up noonish. My children sleep late because we go to bed at 10. I do this for a reason--so I can manage my work day around them. Most of my pertinent live sessions are done first thing in the morning. I get all those done while they are sleeping. Riley tends to wake during that last live session. So when I get the chance I get her up and ready, then provide her with breakfast and juice while watching cartoons. From then she wanders between the living room (which I can see from my office) and our bedroom. The kitchen is gated off, the stairs are gated off, and everything else is not necessarily dangerous. Believe it or not she is quiet. I don't know how. I am not going to ask.

Lunch time is pretty hectic as we only get a half hour. By then, both Riley and Preston are awake. So I take care of both their needs, feed them or give them a snack, and then it is back to work. Live teaching is the only time I am not flexible. I have scheduled times to teach and I manage like you would not believe. The afternoon I only have a small RTII group providing a 20 minute intervention and a 20 minute asynchronous activity. The rest is meetings and planning. All, which can be managed with or without screaming children, as long as I am listening in and interacting. No one can believe how I do it. Half the time I cannot believe I do it. I mean, who does two jobs at one time? This woman does!

And people then say, "And you homeschool?!" Yep, sure do. I do it all. A jack of all trades. Schooling only take 2-3 hours, sometimes 4, but that is rare. My workday is done at 4. I have office hours at 3, so that gives me some flexibility. So I start schooling around 3 with activities that Preston can do at his table here in our schoolroom without my direct simple things that we can get out of they way. Normally a spelling page or some cutting, just depends on what we are doing.

Then from 4-5:30 we have a TSS here Monday thru Thursday. We do work on school at this time, but we will be working on some other skills here shortly. 5:30 I break to make dinner. I have a menu for the week. Organization is a must if you homeschool. If we don't get everything done before 5:30 we work until about 7ish, 7:30. If we go past 8 we are having a bad day because Preston is not having a good day or there was just so much to cover.

So our days are VERY busy, but this works for me AND we have such fun with school. It is the BEST time of day. 

You are probably wondering, what about appointments, shopping, etc? Yep, all appointments are made for 4PM and after, so those mess up our days, but hey, we are flexible here and we can work with it. Those days we have appointments we may skip Science/Social Studies and Art/Music. Those subjects are every other day, so they can easily be made up the next time. Shopping gets done on weekends.

As I am writing this, I think this sounds awful, but it truly is not awful. We are so connected all day and things flow quite well. Of course I have bad days, the kids have bad days, but who doesn't? We are not perfect. Overall, this works for our family. I'm sure there are people that disagree, but to each their own, right?

What is GREATER than greater than or less than?

What is GREATER to teach in math than greater than or less than? Those infamous alligators are so fun to use! So we have begun a new unit in math where we will be ordering numbers (so far, so good), comparing numbers, and learning how to skip count by 2, 5, and 10. 

Even though I may be a teacher I often wonder things and if I am doing them right. Right now my burning question is whether or not a first grader is able to have a hundreds chart while comparing and ordering numbers during an assessment. Right now we use a hundreds chart because I felt that was too abstract at this age to have all that in their little brains, but when I finish the unit I want to make sure it is okay to use the hundreds chart on the test. Maybe I will ask a first grade teacher where I work....

Anyway, Preston is incredibly brilliant at Math. I think Math is his THING. So last week we simply ordered numbers. We did groups of three, and then groups of five. Then at the end of the week we had a bottle cap center where he filled in the missing number. On Friday's I like to do something fun to end our week of learning. Check it out, it was so much fun Riley was playing with them!

Preston had fun searching for the numbers. We have bottle caps for 1-100. This idea came from Miss Giraffe on Teachers Pay Teachers. I use all her units and centers as my math curriculum since I already have the lesson objectives. Her units are amazing because they are differentiated and come with TONS of activities/centers, worksheets, and the unit test. And these all relate to the Common Core as well, even though I am not using the Common Core as my curriculum. It is nice to have that in the back of my head.

So I made these awesome, amazing alligators to use for Preston: 

I was actually very nervous starting this on Monday, because again he in kindergarten doing first grade work, so I always wonder where I will tap that ability out. He loved the alligators and I put the first problem on the worksheet on the board. I then asked him to pull out his hundreds chart and circle the two numbers so he could visually see it. Then I asked him which one was bigger. I taught him the alligator always eats the bigger number. I had him come up to the board and pull down the alligator that would fit our problem. 

So here is at the board and I am sitting there holding my he going to get it? It's like watching a nerve-racking football game, I tell ya. So here is his answer:

And the crowd goes WILD!!!! As Preston turned around I told him how awesome he was. He was very proud of himself:

Whoo-hoo!!!! So after we did each on on the board and I had him drag them down, we went back to the worksheet and I had him read each number sentence. He kept wanting to say plus for each greater than or less than sign. So, this week we are going to focus more on that. He has the concept down, now I just need to get him to understand the signs more.

Way to go Mom for making it through another nail-biting lesson! Isn't it great when things go well? 

So, tell me how you learned greater than and less than in school by commenting below. I want to see if anyone learned different from the alligators!

Things You Can Do To Get Involved

I spoke about how education is all academics and how it really starts at home. Today I wanted to give you some solid ideas on what you can do at home. Now keep in mind that Preston is 5 and Riley is only 1, so the things I am providing ideas on are geared at that level. 

1. Keep a solid routine. Kids need routine and thrive on it. While I don't follow a strict schedule, we do do the same things each day, even though they may not be at the exact time. By doing this it allows your children to feel secure and it gives them something to depend on. I have a neat schedule that I have for Preston in which I feel it out each day. You can see it below. Above it I have a clock, since he will be learning time this year. Then I have different items that I can take on and off so he knows what he can look forward to. 

It is neat because I can write the time on there in whiteboard marker and then wipe it off. My son is loves this and is very interested.

2. Always STOP and LISTEN to them. No matter what I am doing, when either Preston or Riley comes up to me I STOP what I am doing and LISTEN. I want them to know what they say is important. We know that it is not always important, but this sets them up for success as they get older. You want them to be able to come to you with the very important stuff. 

3. Play with them. The dishes, the cleaning, the whatever can wait. Live in the moment. They are only little once. All they want is your time, not THINGS. That is what they remember. My kids love the monster thing I do. Preston often asks me to do it by demonstrating how I do it! How can you resist that? That is all they want is you and your time.

4. Give them CHORES. I don't really call them chores in my house because that word is's sounds like work. Being part of a family is not WORK. Yes, it takes lots of work, but it is not a job. It should be something that you want to do. Give the little ones things to do that is age appropriate. For example, Preston puts away the silverware from the dishwasher. Riley hands me all the plates, bowls, and cups out of the dishwasher. Preston also folds the washcloths and hand towels. He even pulls the garbage to the street. I also have him help me with little things, like putting baby clothes in the hamper or to grab something for me. He is very cooperative. By giving them things to do this allows them to see that they are part of the family, something bigger than they are. 

5. LOVE them! I give my kids tons of hugs and kisses all day. I love them so much I cannot explain it in words. I kiss them up and hug them up as much as I can. I also tell them I love them multiple times in a day. I want them to be confident in themselves and in my love for them so that they can succeed in the world.

6. Make shopping trips and outtings educational. This is always fun because I like to tie in what we are learning while we are out and about. Simple things like the colors of the stoplight, what each of them means, have them look for a particular letter. No matter where you go, give your child a job. For example, when going to the grocery store you can tell them it is there job to search for the oatmeal box. Again, this makes them a part of something bigger than they are. You can teach money concepts and number identification anywhere. You can teach community helpers. There is so much out there in the world! Show them the way! Talk to them, tell them all about it!

7. Make your home educational. I like the fancy houses with pretty themes. I have themes and colors, don't get me wrong, but my house is kid-friendly. It is about them. They know education is important because we got their art work around the house, we have the alphabet in the kitchen and in our school room, we have pocket charts on almost every door of the house, we have shelves and shelves of books, there are tons of art supplies, plenty of board games, the list goes on and on. The environment you create speaks volumes to your child. 

8. Read everyday. Don't leave the professionals to teach your child to read. You teach them to read! It starts right at home with modeling the reading skills to develop that love of reading. Now that Preston is in kindergarten we are going to take reading much more seriously. Each night we will read a book. And it will be a book of his choice. The library is a great place to start. Kids need to learn what the library is and how to act in a library. Let me tell you, my littles do not know how to act in the library. Going to the library stresses me out, but I am hoping it gets better. Then we are going to keep a reading log of all the books we read during the school year. Imagine his eyes when June rolls around again and I show him how many books we read! I can see it now!

9. Simply put, involve them in everything that you do. Preston loves to cook. No matter how impatient I am or how fast I want to get something done, I stop and think to myself that this is important to him. He also likes to put the laundry pod in the washing machine. Hey, if that is exciting to him then so be it. He is learning how to do laundry. When it is time to get the mail I have Preston go with me sometimes and let him open the mailbox and get the mail out. See how we can overlook the simple things that they do need to learn?

It all goes back to teaching them all these things and MUCH, MUCH more. I want to know how you involve your children at home. Comment below with what you do at home!