Friday, November 14, 2014

Homeschool Preschool Weekly Recap {Age 3}

H is 3 and 2 months old, and loves Homeschool Preschool.  Not only does he join us for Circle Time and Stations (logic puzzzles and math manipulatives) in the morning, but he doesn't nap anymore so he participates in ALL our school work.  Even with Kindergarten-level work I'm having a hard time challenging this sharp little guy.  I think it's a good thing, however, to give him a majority of easy-mastery activities at the moment to keep school light and fun.  Here's a sample of what we did this week...

Friday, November 7, 2014

Easy No-Bake "Cinnamon Rolls" {Cooking with Kids}

Here's a snack that kids can make themselves.  It's a great exercise in Montessori Practical Life skills.  All you need is sliced bread, softened butter or margarine, cinnamon, and sugar.  Here's how the kids make it...

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Bead Belt Craft for Kids {Native American Unit}

Last month, I started an eight week unit on Native Americans with the kids (ages 3, 5, 5).  Every week we read a story about a little Native American boy or girl from a different tribe in the book Eight Little Indians by Josephine Lovell.  The book belonged to my husband when he was a young and despite being published in 1936, it depicts the Native Americans in a very positive light and is a wonderful resource for educating children on the varying traditions of the different tribes.

The first story we read was about Leaping Trout, an Iroquois boy who loved to swim and built his own canoe.  When Leaping Trout's father sent out a messenger to invite others to his party, he gave the messenger his wampum belt to show that the message was really from him and not a trick (the large amount of purple shells on his belt indicated his power and wealth).

For a fun handicraft to go with the story, the children made their own wampum belts.  My 5 year old twins were able to make these with only minimal assistance.  This would also be a great craft for kids for the Thanksgiving holiday!  Here's how we did it..

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Teaching Kids to Think { Review}

I want my kids to be problem solvers.  I want them to approach new challenges with confidence.   I want my children to grow to become men and women of "infinite-resource-and-sagacity".  I want them to be thinkers!  

This is where early education often fails.  It seems that these days so much emphasis is put on academic skills (learning to read, learning to add/subtract, memorizing facts, etc..) that the cognitive skills that are the building blocks of learning are often neglected.  If young children had the chance to play in ways that trained their brains in areas such as visual-spatial recognition, working memory, attention, and fluid reasoning using multi-sensory experiences, their capacity for learning would be increased.  

Two years ago (while raising my three young children) I quit my job as a software engineer and set out to develop my own curriculum to teach kids to become better problem solvers.  Today I'm proud to announce the official release of the La La Logic Critical Thinking Curriculum for children ages 3-6.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Homeschool Preschool Activities

My little boy, H, will be 3 years old next week!  This means that he has graduated from Tot School and has started Preschool (homeschool).  H participates in Circle Time (and other activities) with his older sisters (see my Homeschool Kindergarten day-in-the-life post), but he also gets plenty of his own activities...

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Artwork by a Five Year Old

E (just turned 5) is our resident artist.  I wanted to share some of her masterpieces.  E prides herself on the realism of her art.  Sometimes when I'm reading books about nature and animals aloud to the kids, I'm not sure if E is listening, but then she makes detailed drawings and starts telling me stories about the behaviors of the different animals.  Here's another nature drawing..

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Miss Rumphius - Painting Lupine Flowers

Nothing makes a picture book more fun than letting the kids do a special activity related to the story.  After reading Miss Rumphius a book by Barbara Cooney about a woman who plants Lupines to make the world more beautiful, the girls painted their own Lupine flowers.  Here's what we did...

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Homemade Game: Travel Tic-Tac-Toe

We had a total of eight road trips with the kids this past summer - most of which were six hours long.  To help the kids pass the time, I put together a number of busy bags and travel games.  This little magnetic travel Tic-Tac-Toe game only took a couple minutes to put together (using dollar store supplies) and was a big hit.  Here's how it's made..

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Typical Homeschool Day - Kindergarten/ 1st Grade

After a whirlwind summer, with four week-long vacations, visitors from overseas, and the twins' 5th birthdays, we're back home and getting into the swing of homeschooling.  This is my third "Day in the Life" post since I've been blogging, and it's always fun looking back and seeing what homeschool was like for us at each stage.  Here's A Day in Our Homeschool Preschool and last year's Homeschool Kindergarten Daily Schedule.  This year the girls are "officially" in Kindergarten again (we're getting free Calvert materials through an online charter school), but I'm adding a lot of 1st grade material as well.

No homeschool day is the same for us, but here's a little glimpse into a day in our life....

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Wildflower Nature Study {Homeschool Kindergarten}

I've been taking nature walks with the kids since before they could walk and encouraging them to observe the world around them.  Last week we did our first "formal" nature study, on wildflowers.  Here's what we did..

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Tot School - 33 Months

H is 33 months old and it's amazing how much his attention span and capacity for learning new things has jumped in the past month.  The line between Tot School and Homeschool Kindergarten (with big sisters) has become blurred as H participates in most of our homeschooling activities.  Here's a bit of what he's been up to lately..

Friday, June 27, 2014

Cooking with Kids: Crepes {France Learning Unit}

In our study of France in Homeschool Kindergarten, the kids and I made crepes.  It was a great Montessori-style practical life activity with plenty of fine motor skills work.  Here's what we did...

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

GoVoxBox from Influenster

Getting something in the mail is so much fun - even more so when it's a box from Influenster full of wonderful products to try!  I recently received my third VoxBox from the Influenster program: the GoVoxBox, which was a perfect fit for this busy, active Mommy.  Here's what was included:

Claude Monet Artist Study

Since we learned about France last week, it seemed natural to use Claude Monet for our artist study in homeschool Kindergarten.  After looking at some of his better-known works (especially the water lilies and haystacks), and learning about impressionism, we made some art inspired by his paintings.  The picture above was a collaborative effort between me and E (almost 5) using the oil pastel / watercolor relief technique (lots of fun for Mommy too!).  We tried different mediums, as well, and by the end of the session everyone was obsessed with lily pads..

Monday, June 23, 2014

Ivory Soap Science Experiment for Kids

I've been seeing the Ivory Microwave Experiment on blogs for years and have been meaning to try it.  When the girls got ivory soap for soap carving at the art museum, this experiment is the very first thing that came to mind.  First I invited L and E (almost 5) to place two different brands of soap in a bowl of water and observe what happens.  The Ivory soap floated, and the other brand did not.  The girls predicted that it was because it was lighter, but then were not so sure when they felt the weight of both bars in their hands (I should have brought out the scale so we could compare them).  I asked some prompting questions to get them thinking about how some objects that are filled with air float...

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Foil Sculptures

The girls really enjoyed making foil sculptures last week (using aluminum foil over pipe cleaners).  This project came from the Usborne Art Treasury book in the study of a sculptor named Alberto Giacometti.  It was a nice change to incorporate some three dimensional art in our artist studies...

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Homeschool Kindergarten Weekly Recap

Lately we've been taking a gentler approach to homeschool Kindergarten.  We've been spending less time on worksheets and 'formal schooling', and more on reading together, doing artwork, nature studies, and LEGOs/ games.  The main reason is that I've had less time for homeschool planning as I'm wrapping up a software engineering project that I've been working on for the past 2 years (I'll announce it on my blog when it's officially done).  The secondary reason is that although the kids have been enjoying our school routine, I felt that they both needed a break, and I've been inspired by Charlotte Mason and Thomas Jefferson Education philosophies to 'inspire' more than 'require'.  Here's what we've been up to the past 2 weeks:

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Penny's Worth of Character - Math Lesson Plan

We recently finished A Penny's Worth of Character by Jesse Stuart, which everyone loved.  It was also a wonderful bonus to be able to have a discussion about the importance of honesty.  While we were reading the book, I put together a little math game for the kids to help them learn about the values of coins...

Monday, April 21, 2014

Kandinsky Circles Art Project

I'm starting to introduce my kids to famous artists and their works.  Last week's artist was Kandinsky and E created an oil pastel / watercolor relief inspired by his famous painting of circles..

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Homeschool Kindergarten Week in Review

This week in Homeschool Kindergarten was very relaxed and productive.  I was consistent in getting the kids together for school-time in the morning and it seemed that all the kids were a lot more focused and less argumentative than the previous week.  Here's a glimpse of how our week went..

Monday, April 14, 2014

Monsters Theme in Homeschool Kindergarten

One of the days last week, I decided to make a fun "monster" theme for the kids during our homeschool time.  We read books about monsters, made crafts, wrote stories, and built our own monster creations (the one above was designed and built by E all by herself!).

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Easiest Glider You'll Ever Make!

After reading an article in Click Magazine on flying squirrels (and how they glide rather than really fly), we made our own gliders.  It literally took me less than 5 minutes to make three of these gliders with the kids (including finding supplies)...

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Pond Life Theme in Homeschool Kindergarten

We completed this mini-unit about pond life earlier this school-year in Homeschool Kindergarten, but I totally forgot to post about it.  After reading some books about the various animals that live in ponds, the twins had a chance to make some cute crafts which I'd love to share...

Monday, April 7, 2014

Learning About Sheep

We're reading through Among the Farmyard People by Clara Dillingham Pierson (free on Google Play Books and Project Gutenberg).  After reading a chapter about a lamb who bragged about his long tail, I decided to let the kids make a quick (and cute) sheep craft.  The one pictured above was H's (2.5 years old) - I made the sheep and he glued the cotton balls for the wool.  The twins (4.5 years old) made their own..

Friday, April 4, 2014

Holland {Netherlands} Learning Unit

The twins (homeschool Kindergarten) and I just finished reading The Dutch Twins by Lucy Fitch Perkins.  It's the first book in a series about twins from different countries.  Since it was written in 1911, it's in the public domain and we read about The Dutch Twins on Google Play free on my iPad.  My own twins absolutely adored the stories of Kit and Kat (the Dutch twins) as they went to market with their father, churned butter with their mother, drove the milk cart, learned to ice skate, and met St. Nicholas.  The book also taught them a little bit about Holland, so I decided to include some Holland-themed activities: craft windmills, painting tulips, baking Dutch apple cake, and more..

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Diaper Science {and Sensory Experience!}

The other day, the kids were playing out on the deck when they ran to me with a gooey substance in their fingers asking what it is.  At first I was worried that it was something toxic or some type of insect egg and freaked out a little as H (2 years old) wanted to put it in his mouth.  A couple hours later I realized that H's diaper must have torn and this was the absorbent substance from his diaper (called sodium polyacrylate).  This inspired me to try an experiment with my twins (homeschool Kindergarten) to learn about The Science of Diapers...

Monday, March 31, 2014

Montessori-inspired DIY Weight Cylinders

If you love Montessori manipulatives, but can't afford the price-tag, try this easy DIY version of the Montessori Weight Cylinders using empty Play-Doh containers and dry beans.  Here's what we did for this little sensory / math activity...

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Tot School - 30 Months

Now that H is 2.5 years old, we've decided to put him to work on the farm.  Here he is milking the cow..  :)  Actually, H's "Tot School" time has been full of playing, exploring, fun, and learning (even on vacation).  He loves to participate in "circle time" with his older sisters and soaks up new information like a sponge.  Here's a tiny peep into some of his favorite activities lately..

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Graphing Rainbow Goldfish Crackers

Here is another easy edible math activity that kids just adore...  When my children begged for some rainbow goldfish crackers, I put a bunch into a bowl made a curious face and started asking them questions:  How many fish do you think are in there?  (More than 100?  More than 10?).  Which color fish do you think there are the most of?  etc..  After piquing their interest, the girls were eager to investigate further...

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Elementary Color Theory in Kindergarten

The kids have wanted to paint every day this week, so I decided to throw in some activities to allow them to learn more about color mixing...

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Cheez-It Math Worksheet for Kindergarten

The kids love edible math manipulatives, and this snack cracker worksheet that I quickly put together was a big hit in our homeschool.  Just because Common Core doesn't cover area and perimeter until 3rd grade doesn't mean that Kindergarteners won't understand it..

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Colored Celery Science Experiment for Kids {Capillary Action}

Back when we were learning about plants, the twins (4 years old) did an easy little science experiment to learn about capillary action (how water travels up a plant's stem).  Here's how its done..

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Homeschool Kindergarten Lesson Plans - Weeks 21-25

Although we've been doing a lot of themes recently in homeschool Kindergarten, there is plenty of playing and learning activities that don't exactly fall within the context of those thematic units.  This post will be a mishmash of all that "other stuff" we've been doing that I haven't had a chance to blog about...

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

101 Chapter Books to Read Aloud to My Kids

It's no secret that I love to read.  When we visited a furniture store last weekend, the girls pointed out every (fake) stack of books that was displayed, yelling "Mommy, look at the books - your favorite!".  I've been reading chapter books aloud to the twins since they were 2.5, and it's still something special we enjoy every day.  I had assumed that when the girls learned to read they would be eagerly seeking out books and enjoy reading on their own, but that didn't quite happen.  They're technically amazing readers for their age, but don't have the passion for independent reading quite yet (I need to remember they are only 4.5 years old).  So for now I'm just reading lots and lots of book aloud to them (and starting to include my 2.5 year old boy too, although he doesn't quite have the attention span yet and wanders away).   I love being able to share classics from my own childhood with my children, as well as discover some "new-to-me" books as well.  Amazon recently released its updated list of 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime.  Since surfing Amazon is my "hobby" (yes, really!), I was inspired to come up with a list of 101 read aloud chapter books for kids (33 that we've already read, and the rest on my "wish list").  Here goes...

Monday, February 10, 2014

Combinatorics in Kindergarten {What Will Little Bear Wear?}

It's been a bit chilly here lately so the girls and I have been reading plenty of stories about cold and snow.  One of the stories in circulation this week is "What Will Little Bear Wear?" from the book Little Bear by Elsa Holmelund Minarik.  I threw together a fun little math activity related to the book. (It would also go great with the book Jesse Bear What Will You Wear? from Before Five in a Row)...

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Learning about Africa in Homeschool Kindergarten

This week our theme was "Africa".  I'd like to do some activities for Black History Month later in February, so I thought a good start would be to learn a little big about Africa first.  This involved a lot of crafts (like the African mask art pictured above) which the girls really enjoyed.  Here's more of what we did..

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Homemade Math Game: Feed the Clown

We've been working on math facts in Homeschool Kindergarten for what seems like forever.  Instead of flashcards and pop-quizzes, I prefer to mix things up by playing lots of math games.  Here's an easy homemade math game that I put together in a couple minutes and turned out to be a roaring success with the twins...

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

National Braille Literacy Month Activity

Did you know that January was National Braille Literacy Month?  We spent a whole day last week learning about blindness, Helen Keller, and braille..

Monday, February 3, 2014

Shoes Theme in Homeschool Kindergarten

One of the days last week, the girls and I worked on learning activities that were all centered around the theme of "shoes".  I had fun putting it all together, and the twins really had a good time with all the activities..

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Half Birthday Party for the Twins

The twins celebrated their half birthdays last weekend.  In L's words: "It's not our real birthday.  It's just a holiday that Mommy made up".  I didn't invite any other kids in fear that their parents would think that celebrating a half-birthday was a little too self-indulgent, so we just kept the day low-key and fun.  Childhood goes by so quickly - why not take the time to celebrate all the little milestones?  Here's how our "party" went...

Friday, January 31, 2014

Chinese Paper Lantern Craft {for Chinese New Year}

One of our crafts for Chinese New Year (and our Kindergarten thematic unit on China) was to make this cute paper lantern craft.  I thought the kids would enjoy this activity because they love arts and crafts, but I had no idea how much they would get into it.  The girls kept asking to make more and more lanterns and now our house is completely covered in them!  It was a great way for the twins to practice following directions and to use their scissor skills.  Here's how you make them..

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Felt Fortune Cookies {Chinese New Year or Valentines Day Craft}

Earlier this month I read A Cricket in Times Square aloud to the twins.  In one of the chapters, the main character was invited to a Chinese dinner and was introduced to his first fortune cookie.  The girls and I made these adorable felt fortune cookies to go with the book and our "China" theme for January.  They would make perfect little crafts for both Chinese New Year or Valentines Day!  They were surprisingly simple to make.  Here's how its done..

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Art of Green Tea

I'm a daily tea drinker and have been sharing my love of tea with my kids since they were toddlers.  So you can just imagine how excited I was to receive a VoxBox with samples of Celestial Seasonings tea from Influenster.  If you're not familiar with Influenster, it's a great program that will send you free boxes of products to try out and share with social media.  If you're interested in an invitation to join too (I have 5 left), send me an email at creativetotmom at gmail dot com.  Here's what was in "The Art of Green Tea" box:

Monday, January 20, 2014

Homeschool Kindergarten Lesson Plans - Week 20

We're starting to get back into a decent daily routine with our homeschool.  Baby brother (28 months) has been waking up early lately, so instead of trying to rush to get the girl's school done before he gets up in the morning, I've been doing circle time with all three kids every morning.  It's a lot of fun and I'm realizing that just because I see the twins (4.5 years old) as academically advanced, it doesn't mean that I should forget that they enjoy singing, dancing, and listening to me read aloud picture books too.  Then in the afternoon (while baby brother naps) we focus on a single 'subject':  Sunday is Latin, Monday is Social Studies, Tuesday is Art, Wednesday is Science, Thursday is Music, Friday is History/Geography, and Saturday is 'Virtues'.  It sounds like a lot but we totally play it by ear and 'school time' usually isn't more than 1-2 hours max these days.  This past week we learned about China, families, Benjamin Franklin, and more.  Here's a taste of how our week went...

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Tot School - 28 Months

Baby H is almost 2.5!  My little boy is really going through a big developmental growth spurt right now as he's communicating more effectively, following directions, and craving more challenging learning activities.  He always asks to "do school" (so he can be like his big sisters, of course).  Here are some of the activities I've been giving him..

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Tu B'Shevat in Homeschool Kindergarten

Tu B'Shevat is a Jewish festival celebrating the "New Year for Trees".  I happened to find these books in our home library (I think we got them for free from the PJ Library when the twins were babies), which inspired me to do some tree-themed activities in our Homeschool Kindergarten today in celebration of this holiday.  Here's how our day went..

Monday, January 13, 2014

DIY Lego Table for Under $30

I totally forgot to share this little DIY project when I made it back in November.  This homemade Lego table was ridiculously easy to make, and the price-tag of under $30 provides huge savings over the $70-$100+ Lego tables that are out there.  Here's what I did...

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Homeschool Kindergarten Lesson Plans - Weeks 15-19 {Plus Christmas & New Years}

I trying to be a more consistent blogger this year and would love to resume the weekly summaries of our homeschool activities (I know that now that Baby H is nearing the age that I started this blog I'm having a lot of fun looking back at old posts and remembering what activities I did with the twins at age 2.5)  Anyway here's a glimpse of the Christmas and New Years themed activities we did this year.  December seemed to just go by in a flash...

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Unit Study - Snow {Homeschool Kindergarten}

After a snowfall last weekend, the girls and I did a mini-unit on "snow" in our homeschool Kindergarten.  It was simple, but a lot of fun.  Here's what we did: