Monday, November 26, 2012


Last night was our "decorate the house for Christmas" night. I love this time of year. It's chalk fun of memory making opportunities. My children are super excited about everything--cookies, snow, the tree and presents! For us, Christmas is about more than that. It's about celebrating the birth of a Savior- God who became man and died for our sins. We want  our children to grow up to desire God and serving him.

On our decorating day, we listen to Christmas music as Bob puts up the tree and we bake cookies. Before we decorate it, we give the boys one gift (the same one every year), a little people nativity scene. Bob reads the Christmas story from their children's Bible and they play with the set. Dawson was so cute when we asked him who the baby was. "Baby Jeeeesusss." I'll have to video him saying it. It is too cute.
         I always picture this night like those commercials. Everyone dressed in coordinating outfits. The spouses hugging while the children neatly hang ornaments and periodically ask to hear the story of one of those beloved ornaments. Instead I have to beg Ollie to put clothes on and wrestle Dawson into pants.    While baking cookies, Dawson is jamming his fingers into them. They are both pulling out ornaments and throwing the paper they were wrapped in all over the floor. They are wacking  each other with the branches from the tree.Eh. This is what memories are made of, right?                                                                                                                                 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Preschool co-op

We had our first preschool c-op of the year last week.There are three families in our group including us. Three four year olds, three two year olds and two two month olds.  This time only one other family came.  I decided to use the theme owls.

We started by reading a pebble plus book Owls by Mary R. Dunn. Pebble plus books are great nonfiction books for young kids. They have very colorful photographs with only a few sentences per page. After the book, we discussed what we learned. The four year olds dictated a few sentences to their moms. Then, the kids illustrated the page themselves. Ollie chose to draw a caterpillar. I'm not sure why. We may need to work on that!

The younger kids worked on a worksheet I found here. It has a ton of cute worksheets with owls. The boys were to color the owl bellies to match the color word below. They mostly just colored.

Next, we did what Ollie had been dying to do--dissect an owl pellet. I picked up a rel owl pellet at the local learning store here. For those we don't know, owls eat an entire animal and then puke up whatever they can't digest into a small ball. The boys loved this and as a matter of fact, we discovered an entire rodent skull inside ours. When I asked Ollie later if he liked it, he said, "Oh yeah. More than you even know." I scored major mommy points for that one. Best $7 I ever spent.

We moved right into a craft after much hand sanitizer. I found this craft in the October edition of Family Fun Magazine. It's my favorite! Ollie chose bright colored baking cups at the store so our owls were pretty funky. This craft used a paper towel roll, two baking cups, two construction paper circles, two hole reinforcer stickers, glue and a black marker. They turned out pretty cute.

For lunch, we made owl sandwiches. I pre-cut a bread body. I used a heart cookie cutter but I rounded the top. I also cut ham to match. Then I cut two large cheese circles and two small ones and one triangle cheese for the beak. The kids ate this up...literally.

 They did one more counting worksheet before free play. I had also printed the scissor practice sheet and the handwriting one from the link above but their wasn't time. All in all, I think it was successful. We've  continued on owls during our school time. Ollie actually told me he wanted an owl party for his birthday and Dawson was begging to do school this morning. I'm hoping to take them to an owl program tomorrow I found through our county conservation club but ollie has been complaining about his ear so we will have to see when our doctor's appointment is!

Thursday, November 1, 2012


For those who are unaware, we do plan to home school. I know what you are thinking: What about socialization? Your kids will be freaks, etc, etc, etc. As for socialization, there are plenty of ways to get socialization within our family and with kids in our community. For example, my kids go to church every Sunday and Tuesday night where they are in classes/play with their peers. Ollie also goes to gymnastics. We go to storytime at the library almost every week. We go to Mom's circle 2x a month. We have preschool co-op 2x a month. We also have frequent playdates. We are choosing to home school for two reasons: quality of education and to have more time to instill our values into our children. Besides, who wouldn't want to do school in their jammies?!  I can't tell you for how long we will keep them home. We are on a year by year plan.

So far, it's great. Ollie begs to do school everyday. I love being able to specialize his education. He is really gifted in math so we are doing lots of kindergarten and first grade math. Dawson loves art. Our activities include plenty of it. I did not purchase a curriculum this year. Ollie just turned 4 the end of August and I see no reason to make school rigid  at this point. My goal for the year was to get into a routine and to help my kids love to learn. So far, so good.

Since it is fall, we are focusing on Fall type themes. Last week, it was pumpkins. I try to have 3 activities ready per kid per day. Some days, that doesn't work. Some days Ollie does his workbooks (math, hand writing and reading) while Dawson sleeps or we count the science center as school. Nonetheless, we did some fun stuff.

I should mention that we also do Bible activities. Last week we talked about the creation story. My children used chalk and yellow streamers to make a light scene on black paper. The chalk was a big hit.

As for the pumpkins, I cut each boy some pumpkins out of orange construction paper. Ollie has been working on ordinals. So I wrote 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th on five different pumpkins and had him put them into order. For Dawson, I cut three pumpkins all different sizes and had him order them from smallest to biggest.

Another activity we did involved emotions, I gave each boy 4 pumpkins and had them add mouths that I had cut out. We talk about the way each pumpkin was feeling. This was really easy for Ollie. Dawson did very well with happy and sad.

I created a sheet for each boy with the letter P and a pumpkin. Ollie had to first do a bit of handwriting with the P then he got to paint the pumpkin. Dawson and I talked about the P and then he painted it. My kids love painting.

Ollie is working on fractions. I cut four orange circles into different fractions- 1/2, 1/3, and 1/4. He had to glue the correct pieces into squares I had labeled. Dawson worked on the color orange. I gave him several orange shapes and he happily glued them to paper.

 To review concepts, I filled two bags with some objects. Ollie had to tell me which started with the p sound. Dawson had to find orange things.

I may have forgotten a few things but if I don't take a picture of it, I can't remember that we did it! I really love teaching my kids. It seems they really love being taught by me. I love the freedom or incorporating things they love into their assignments and planning days so that their isn't too many things that discourage them. I love that they can interrupt a book to ask a question without being scolded because unlike a regular classroom, we have time. The only people waiting are us. I love that we can go outside anytime we want to go to lunch or watch a movie. I love that I am giving them a strong foundation so that when they do go to school, they can stand on their own two feet. I love my kids and I love being with them.

Pumpkin Patch

I'm really behind on posting. We'll see how much we can currently get done this morning before my crew gets out of bed. A couple weeks ago, a dear friend of mine, Carrie, and I took the kids to Williamson's pumpkin patch. It is a free pumpkin patch so it doesn't have all the bells and whistles that Center Orchard does but it was free and it is close. It also made for a quick outing!

The weather was gorgeous. I sure am enjoying those unseasonably warm October days. I think they might be over though. At the patch, the kids did a maze, swung on a tire swing, played in a "corn box", saw and fed some animals and picked a few pumpkins.

 Ollie and his pal sophie

Since the weather was gorgeous and we had packed a lunch, I found a park on Ankeny to eat and play. Ollie is always hot and I guess I over dressed him so he had to take his shirt off. Dawson, as always, followed suit.