Sunday, December 14, 2008

Tot School Dec. 8 -12

Tot School

This week in Tot School, it was very busy, but entertaining. We continued our lesson on the Letter B, and learned how to sort/organize our things. The sorting led itself to a review of all our colors. And she did great with that. Some of you may find a little something familiar with each of the pictures that follow. That's because I was super busy blog-stalking this week and got lots of great ideas from the other Tot School Moms. (Thanks guys!)

This idea was actually my own...I got out my small Xyron machine and let Lindsay make "B" stickers to put on the Blue Blocks and B's project we did.

This one has nothing to do with Tot School, but I thought it was too cute not to include! She's such a mess!

What a face!

We learned about sorting, using different sized boxes with different materials inside.

Clean up time!

Baking cookies with Mom! Yummy!

This is the old piano bench that we converted into a little desk for Lindsay.

"B" is for Belly Button!

Sorting - I love using Ice Cube Trays and brightly colored fuzzy balls. These are the ones with the little irredescent spikey things - they are a little easier for Lindsay to pick up and hold onto.

For other Tot School Reports from other moms, visit Carisa's blog at 1+1+1=1.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas Giveaways

I recently visited the One House Schoolroom blog, and she is hosting some really neat giveaways. Today's giveaway is for either a set of Mommy Cards or a Customized Blog Design. Go visit and check it out!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

It's Party Time....again...and again...and again!

For the exception of Tracy, all of my little ones' birthdays fall in either November or December. We didn't exactly PLAN it that way, but God did, so I don't complain. Lindsay's birthday comes first (Nov. 9), then Trey's on November 22 (sometimes it falls on Thanksgiving). Today was Addison's birthday (and coincidentally, also my mother in law's birthday). It's difficult for the kids to get birthday presents and then get excited about getting more presents on Christmas. But...they don't get a lot of presents throughout the year, so you'll not hear them complain!

Since Addison is my middle child, and sometimes gets a little overlooked because she's such a good girl, I always try to do something a little special for her. The other two got homemade birthday cakes and parties at home. But since Addie shares a birthday with her Grandmommy, we all went out to the Texas Roadhouse for dinner last night (since Daddy would have to work tonight). Addie loves to be the center of attention and informed me well ahead of time that she wanted everyone to sing Happy Birthday to her at the restaurant so everyone else would know she was a Birthday Girl. She's so funny that way.
She had no idea that the whole staff would come out and do their usual shout-out for the whole restaurant to give a big "YEE HAWWWW!" She fully enjoyed herself. Then today, since she had to go to school, I took cupcakes for her class. They sang "Happy Birthday to You, CHA CHA CHA!" Dad had to work tonight, so she and I spent the evening baking together. I think she had a really great birthday. She'll be disappointed in the morning when she wakes to find that her birthday is over. :(

Here are some pics of last night's fun!
Grandmommy and Addison

Cousin Cyndi and Addison (aren't they cute??)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Trey's Lessons December 1 - 5

Last week Trey started a new unit in all his subjects, so he's right on track, even though it was a short week due to a craft show I was preparing for. He did independent reading on Monday, and since my craft show was on Tuesday, I took the day off. But he was a trooper and buckled down on Wednesday so we wouldn't get behind.

We discussed the environment and the four things that change an environment: temperature, light, soil, and water. We did a couple of different experiments. During our lesson on temperature, we got out our handy dandy thermometers and recorded the temperature throughout the day in different parts of our yard (shady spots, sunny spots, etc.) To demonstrate the difference in soils in different environments, we took soils samples from different locations in town. We measured them, added water, shook them up, and observed them overnight. Then we recorded the layering differences in each jar. We also discussed how God made each animal specifically for it's environment (i.e. camels live in dry areas because they are able to store water for longer periods of time). We were supposed to dig up earthworms and observe how they tend to go deeper into the earth when temperatures lower. But since it was pretty cold that day, I guess the worms were already half-way to China, because we weren't able to find any! LOL!

As you can see, a lot of our week was devoted to Science. We were also busy with our other subjects as well, but since he got so excited with Science, I let him run with it. I've summarized what we did with our other subjects below.

Read Discovering Deer Isle, Maine
Identify states Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Massachusettes, New York, New Hampshire, Maine
Use old magazines to make collage of different kinds of boats.
Internet activity: Look up Lobster Fishing Boat, add to collage.
Discuss the importance of fishing in Maine

Language Arts
Learn to use guide words in a dictionary / Review alphabetical order skills
Play Dictionary Game (race to find a specified word in the dictionary)
Discuss why words with er, ir, ur have the same /er/ sounds. Examples: bird, church, herd.
Continue cursive Handwriting Practice.

Review addition/subtraction, fact families, carrying, writing the number word in digits, writing digits into number words. Adding coins. Money.

Gary and I have discussed the idea that Trey needs to be challenged more in Math. Addition and Subtraction for a third grader is just not sufficient in our opinion. I've wrote about this before, but the boxed set of curriculum I ordered is not exactly challenging for my son. I am doing a lot of supplementing in all subjects, just so he won't get behind the public schools should he want to go back in the future. (I've left this decision up to him). I have been downloading additional worksheets from edhelper, but I'm not sure this is doing much good. This was the ONE thing that I was scared to death of, because I'm HORRIBLE at Math. If anyone out there knows of any good (and free/low cost) Math programs, please let me know!!

Tot School

Tot School

After pining over Carisa's Bottle Top Name Thingies (I can't remember what she calls them), I decided I was going to make some. The only problem is that our family no longer drinks bottled water. I wish I could say it was due to the new movement toward reusable drinking containers. It's actually because we're on a budget now and that's just one of the sacrifices we made to save a few dollars each week.

Anyway...I have been trying to figure out a way to get these things done without the use of bottle tops. And ya'll all know how I like to TWEAK things a little! So...I tried making my own sentence strips, and they didn't look all that great. (I'm somewhat of a perfectionist, and just couldn't handle the paper being a little crooked on one end). I thought about just going to my favorite teacher's resource store (The Tardy Bell in Texarkana, TX) for premade sentence strips, but I thought that would negate the whole idea of saving money, so I came up with this idea. I still like the bottle top idea better, though, because they are easier for Lindsay to pick up and they look like they would stay put a little better once placed on the paper. But I do like my version too, because since I used a full size sheet of paper, I could place it all in a sheet protector and store it in a little binder. I plan to make these for each member of our family. She really enjoyed playing with them today for Tot School.

All I did was get out some of my old unused 8 1/2 x 11 scrapbook paper, my square punch, some glue dots, a sheet protector, and a permanent marker. I punched out enough squares for her name in the purple paper and wrote the letters of her name on each one. Then I punched out the same number of squares on the top of the coordinating flowery paper. I then mounted the flowery paper to a piece of green cardstock (I used a whole sheet for stability, but one could certainly use an appropriately sized backing strip as well), and wrote the letters of her name in green squares. Then I mounted a photo of her (from last spring - I haven't actually printed a picture in quite a while - I know, I'm horrible) on to another piece of green cardstock. Then I slipped the whole thing into a sheet protector, and gave her the purple letter squares.

There are lots of other great Tot Tools on Carisa's blog: 1+1+1=1...go check it out!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Today in Tot School

Tot School

This week in Tot School, Lindsay is learning about the weather. Today we took a walk outside and sang our weather songs (below) while we looked at the clouds that were forming. We noticed the wind was picking up and talked about how that helps the leaves make their music. It never did actually rain, so we couldn't go puddle-jumping like I wanted to. Darn! we did the Hokey Pokey instead!!! We had a great day! Oh, in case anyone is wondering why my beloved child is in a summer dress and flip-flops in's because we live in Texas and while the weather has been quite chilly lately, today the temperature was in the upper 60's (storm's comin!!!)

Learn Weather Songs

Weather Song (Tune of "Oh My Darling")
What's the weather?
What's the weather?
What's the weather, everyone?
Is it windy?
Is it cloudy?
Is there rain?
Or is there sun?

Thunder (Tune of Frere Jacques)
I hear thunder, I hear thunder,
How about you? How about you?
Pitter patter rain drops, pitter patter rain drops,
I'm wet through
So are you!

Fun in the Rain (Tune of "Three Blind Mice")
Rain, rain, rain
Rain, rain, rain
Dribble, dribble, sploosh!
Dribble, dribble, sploosh!
Grab your boots, your coat, your hat,
Jump in a puddle and go kersplat!
Stomp about and become a drowned rat,
Rain, rain, rain
Rain, rain, rain!


Letter: B (we just got back from visiting my mom, who all the grandkids call "B")
Shape: Triangle

After we talked about all the different things that start with the letter "B," Lindsay completed worksheets on identifying triangles, and was able to find and color all the hidden "Bb's" on her coloring page.

After it was all said and done, Lindsay decided she wasn't finished with Tot School. She actually raised her hand and informed me it was time for blocks. I think she picked that up from the many hours of playing school with Addison! Too funny!!! She really is a great builder - I might have a future architect on my hands!!!

For those of you who are interested in joining Tot School, or reading other Tot Reports from other moms, go visit Carisa's blog at 1+1+1=1 and find some great ideas!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Turkey Cookies?

I saw these on the Crafty Crow (again, I know...I need help, I can't stop!). I thought they were too cute, so I gave them a try. As usual, I "tweaked" the recipe a bit to fit my baking abilities and time (or lack thereof).

I used a Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie mix, some of that "cupcake-icing-in-a-squirt-can" stuff to frost the cookies. And I couldn't find any orange or black icing in the little "Cake Mate" tubes. So I made my own out of some Betty Crocker Butter Cream cake frosting I had left over from Trey's birthday cake on Saturday. I just used food coloring to make it the right colors.
Then we decorated them with candy corn and Mini M&M's. They turned out too cute. The kids decorated some as are the pictures:

Lindsay is a Cookie Decorating Diva!

Lindsay's Cookie (looks like he knows what's in store for him tomorrow!!)

Addison took her job very seriously! She could be my next chef!!

Addison's finished cookies
Trey was not as interested as Addison, but did well anyway. He thought they tasted good though, which is why I don't have a picture of his finished cookies!! (Except for the group picture below - Thanks Trey for waiting at least that long!!)
And here's one of each of our finished cookies. Can you tell who decorated which turkey?
Clockwise from top: Mom's, Addie's, Lindsay's, Trey's.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanksgiving T-Shirts

I got this idea from the Crafty Crow, who got the idea from One More Moore. It was supposed to be a reverse applique type thing, but since I am beyond incompetent with sewing, I decided that I could "tweak" it a little to fit my abilities (or lack thereof). If you want directions for the reverse on one of the links above. They also have pictures and step by step directions.

So, this is what I came up with. I traced each of the kids' handprints onto white paper. Then I cut them out. Using that as a pattern, I used my pinking shears to cut the fabric. Then I pinned the fabric to the shirt, and used my sewing machine (yes I actually have one and can manage to operate it enough to sew a line, albeit a crooked one), to sew around the outline of the handprint.

Then I got out my needle and thread (even more shocking, I know), and sewed on buttons for the eyes and little gobbler thingy. Last, I got some black puffy paint that I had left over from our pumpkin shirts, and drew on the feet. The pictures are below.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Last Week's Lessons for Trey

Last week, we finished up all of our units on Washington (see lapbook below...very cool if I do say so myself!) We didn't get to the plant experiments that I wanted to get to because we had a rushed week. For some reason, my brain went all crazy on me (happens a lot, I know), and I didn't account for the last section in each of the units in my lesson plans. So there I was thinking we were in good shape. Then Wednesday rolled around and we only had two more days to finish up everything, and I was STRESS-IN!!!

My original thoughts were to have my mom-in-law do a lesson with Trey on plants, parts of plants, greenhousing, etc.; because my thumb is completely black, and she could grow a plant from a piece of charcoal and a paper clip. Ok, small exaggeration, but the woman can grow anything, and my plants always seem to commit botanical suicide when they see me coming!

Anyway...I was so proud of Trey. I know a lot of mom's don't take grades on the work their kids do, but I have chosen to because Trey may one day re-enter public school. And while Texas is currently completely unregulated with regards to homeschoolers (that is, we don't have to report anything to anyone, once he's appropriately withdrawn from public school), there's no guarantee that it will always be that way. SO...with that possibility in the back of my mind, I thought it safer to go ahead and document everything, even attendance...JUST IN CASE.

At the end of each of our units (we use Alpha Omega LIFEPACS), Trey takes a unit test and we tally his scores for each subject. He already had A's in every subject, but he brought each of them up at least 4 points last week. He worked extremely hard so that we could take our entire Thanksgiving Break off. Sometimes he had a "working lunch," and sometimes he worked through his afternoon breaks. He now has at least a 99% in each subject. I couldn't be prouder of him!!!

This week, all we have planned are some Arts & Crafts projects, and some cookies to take to my mom's for Thanksgiving. He will also be writing a letter to the soldier he "adopted" in Iraq. And of course, we will honor our tradition of reading Thanksgiving Poems, telling Pilgrim Stories, etc. while we're doing our projects. There will be plenty of lessons to be learned this week, but the kiddos will never suspect they are actual lessons!!

This Week in Tot School

Tot School

We're taking it a little easy this week in Tot School. Addie is out of public school for the week, and since I revolve his schedule around hers so that we're all on the same page, that means that I, too, am on a "break" of sorts. Not that homeschool moms ever get a break - especially around the holidays, but it is a technicallity that I cling to.

So I took a cue from Carissa at 1+1+1=1, and gave Lindsay some activity options and let her choose what she wanted to do. She chose water play, so I got out all the old recipe books, tupperware, measuring cups, spoons, and spatulas, and let her go to town. I showed her how to measure very carefully, and then as I began to cook our lunch (soup), she also made several dishes (of the most delicious water I've ever tasted). She carefully put them in the refrigerator, one by one; and then when the soup was ready, she carefully transported her dishes to the table for everyone to enjoy! She was so proud of her new found culinary talents! Unfortunately, I didn't get pictures of this moment because I spent most of the time trying to mop up water out of the floor.

After lunch, we played with the Play-Doh at our craft table. She used her rolling pin and cookie cutters like an old pro. We talked about Thanksgiving, and being thankful to God for all the blessings He's given us. I think this was a little above her level, but she likes to talk with Mom, so she didn't mind. :)

No, I don't allow my children to run around all day in their underwear; I just usually strip Lindsay down before craft time so I can cut down on my laundry. I had intentions of putting her craft shirt on, but she wasn't having any of it. On the table, you'll see one of my favorite things! It's a Dora the Explorer disposable placemat. I bought these a couple of years ago from Target. They come in a box of 12, I think. They have peel-off type tape on the back. You peel off the backing and tape it into place. I bought them to use in restaurants (because I'm a bit of a germ-a-phobe), but since we don't go out much anymore, I use them for craft time. It doesn't damage my table, and it keeps my little artist from making too big of a mess.
For other Tot School reports from other mom's this week, go visit Carissa's blog, 1+1+1=1.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Our First Lapbook

For those of you who know me, you're already aware of my love of scrapbooking. You probably also know that I haven't had time to do any of it since Lindsay was born. Somehow she takes more time out my day than Addie and Trey ever did. So imagine the immense joy I felt when I ran across this idea of "lapbooking." It combines the creativity and unique design aspects of scrapbooking with a new kind of learning that my kids really enjoy. So I get to scrapbook and call it a lesson!!! YAY!!!

Since we're wrapping up our unit on Washington State, I felt it appropriate for our first lapbook to be centered around Washington and all the things we've learned about it. I surfed around for different templates, etc., and even downloaded some. In the end, I found that it was easier just to do it myself. My primary inspiration came from some of the lapbooks I saw on I also downloaded the Washington State Flower/Bird mini-book there (I think). So I'll give them credit where it's due. :) The coloring book under the red flap was downloaded from the Washington State Legislature.
I also added a special sliding title flap, so I could have a way to keep the book closed without using a bulky ribbon or grommets.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Tot School Anyone?

Ok, I admit it: I'm a serious blog-stalker. I was surfing around trying to find ways to get Lindsay (3 years old) involved in our home-school lessons. I knew she wasn't ready for the types of activities that Trey (9 years old) was doing, but I couldn't stand seeing her just sit around all day watching cartoons - waiting for Trey to get finished with his work so they could play. I felt like we were wasting valuable time! So I started making out lesson plans for me to work with her on while Trey was working on his lessons. This created a few problems: 1.) Trey is ADD and does NOT work independently. 2.) Lindsay wants all the attention for herself and gets extremely aggitated if I have to stop working with her to help Trey. 3.) While Lindsay had loads of extra time on her hands each day, I couldn't seem to find enough!

Ladies and gentlemen, I've found my answer. The great news is that I don't have to spend the entire day doing it. I can work it into our morning schedule before Trey starts his lessons. It's called Tot School. It's just a group of moms devoted to their toddlers, trying to make a difference by spending one-on-one time with them while sneaking in a little education. You can learn more about it here:

Tot School
As for our first day of Tot School, it went really well. Of course, Lindsay likes to be the "teacher," so I let her run with that. We couldn't quite make the 1 1/2 hour mark because, well, Lindsay was the teacher. So that will be one of my goals as we progress. I'm a former Pre-K teacher (Jack of all Trades, I know), so I like a little structure in our learning time. I think this is good for Lindsay because most of the rest of her day is unstructured. So I made her a make-shift "desk" from our piano bench and a little chair of hers. This is the way that she and Addie play school in the afternoons, so I thought that I shouldn't mess with a good thing. All that being said, I do like Carisa's approach to child-led learning. This week we are doing a mini unit study on the letter A. We are learning all about apples, doing some arts and crafts, and singing songs. Here's a little bit of what we did today:

Floor Time:
Talk about the Letter A and apples.
Learn Song: Ten Shiny Apples -by Victoria Smith
(tune: Angel Band)
There was one, There were two, There were three - SHINY APPLES!
There were four, there were five, there were six - SHINY APPLES!
There were seven, there were eight, there were nine - SHINY APPLES!
Ten SHINY APPLES in that tree!

Arts & Crafts:
For Arts & Crafts, we colored a picture of an apple and the letter "Aa", and pasted it on red construction paper.

Our favorite thing we did today was to cut out apple tree shapes out of construction paper. I numbered each apple 1 - 10, and she pasted the apples on the tree while we sang our song we learned during floor time. I typed the song out and she pasted that on there, too.

She also did a worksheet or two from her Pre-K workbook, in which she was directed to color all of the pictures that start with the letter A. I know she's not quite at the Pre-K level, but I like to challenge her. She did great!! She loves the idea of having "school" like Trey and Addison, and even referred to one of her worksheets as her "test". Then she told me to stop talking during school...yep she's definitely got my genes!!

Then she helped mom make her snack of applesauce, graham crackers, and juice.

We have lots of other fun activities planned for the rest of the week as well. And the great part is, that I have tied all of her lessons to coordinate with what Trey's learning about Washington State this month. So she'll be able to help us out with his Washington State Lapbook as well!

Click here for more Tot Reports from other moms!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Halloween/Fall Festival Costumes

Ok, so I'm a little late posting the kids' Halloween costumes...they were too cute, though, albeit a little'll understand in a bit...keep reading. We were trying to save a little money and either make our own costumes, or make do with something we already had. Trey wanted to be a Jedi problem - a $1 remnant of fabric from Wally World and a light saber he already had and he was set.
When I asked Lindsay (who is 3 years old) what she wanted to be, I expected to hear something along the lines of a fairy or something. WRONG...she wanted to be a polka dot. A WHAT??? How in the world am I supposed to make her into a polka dot? Well, the creative juices started to flow and I had a great idea to turn a large piece of cardboard into a giant polka dot with some scissors, paint, and a small amount of duct tape. I was so impressed. Lindsay wasn't. She changed her mind at the last minute and decided she wanted to be a princess. In defeat, I went back to Wally World and purchased a $20 Princess dress (from the dress up section because the Halloween Costumes were already too sparse). She was of course, adorable.
Addison was the eye-opener. She wanted to be a cheerleader. And for those of you who don't know me, cheerleading was my THING in high school. I lived for cheering, but like a lot of teenage girls, I always thought I was soooo fat. I lived on Slim Fast and was totally convinced that I looked like an elephant in my uniform. (I have long since gotten over this feeling, and had realized that while I was not what most people would describe as "skinny," I was a healthy weight and not "overweight" at all.) But I was still surprised to see my tiny little 7 year old actually WEAR my skirt from high school. It actually fit her perfectly in the was a little long, and of course the top was way too big, but she looked cute nonetheless. Wow...what an eye opener! I saw this as a teachable moment for Addie, so I talked to her about self image, and why it is important to love yourself. I told her that as long as she exercised, ate nutritious foods, and stayed healthy, not to ever worry about "fat" or "skinny," and to never ever ever ever, compare herself to others. Of course, she was looking at me like, "HUH?" LOL...
Here's our Halloween costume pics...

Lindsay as a "Princess"

Obi-Trey Kinobi

Go Lions Go!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

This Week's Lessons

So, I've been a little busy...last week was a rushed, but thankfully we've caught back up. This month, we've been studying Washington State in History class. I realize that a lot of folks do weekly units on states, but our curriculum has an entire month of lessons for each state that we study. So we're getting to do a LOT more projects. Trey has done internet research projects on the state facts of Washington; he will be making a Washington State Flag, and we downloaded a Washington State Ebook that I'm using to supplement the curriculum. We also have plans to discuss the other areas of significance in Washington, such as the Space Needle and Mount St. Helen.

We are doing an "apple" tie-in as well, since Washington is the top producer of apples in our country. Lindsay is getting involved as well and loves helping Mom make homemade applesauce for snack time.

In light of Veteran's Day today, we wrote a letter to the soldier we "adopted," and sent a care package to him, thanking him for his courageous service to our country. Trey read The Memory Box by Mary Bushong, which worked alongside our Veteran's Day mini-unit for today.

For Science, we are studying the different parts of plants and their functions. We discussed how temperature affects plants and what happens when a plant gets too cold. We are growing plants from seeds, and charting the different stages of growth.

Because our boxed curriculum does not include any definite vocabulary words for Trey to be tested on, I have started putting a list of 10 words together that include different words from each subject: mostly History and Science. I have also decided that I don't like the Spelling Words they give him each week, and believe that he can handle a little more difficulty in that area.

Trey began learning upper case cursive letters last week, and is continuing that this week. He's doing pretty well! Lucky for him, his spelling words are extremely easy this week, but there is a method behind my madness. I chose this weeks spelling words based on short vowels becoming long vowels when you add an e. So his spelling words this week will be: at, fat, cut, cap...etc. NEXT WEEK they will be ate, fate, cute, cape...etc. I decided to do this after I noticed that Trey is still having trouble spelling these types of words. That's the glory of homeschool!!! I can adjust our lessons to fit HIS needs.

Reading List This Week:

The Memory Box by Mary Bushong (Veteran's Day tie-in)
The Space Needle by Shannon Jackson
Fire Mountain by Joyce Furstenau

Arts & Crafts This Week:

Make a Washington State Flag
Apple Crafts

For Lindsay Only:
Color: Red
Letter: "A" is for Apple
Apple Unit Theme Coloring Pages
"5 Little Apples" song/fingerplay with felt finger-puppets

Poem: Red Apple
A little red apple
Hung high in a tree
I looked up at it
And it looked down at me
"Come down, please" I called
And what do you suppose---
That little red apple
Dropped right on my nose!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Misconceptions about Homeschool

I had to share something that happened to me the other day. I was at work (to help out until they can find someone), and I just had to brag on Trey a little about how well he's been doing. Then someone said, "Wow...that's got to be real hard with his MOM as his teacher. And I bet you're not the slightest bit biased, are you?" I laughed it off, because working in a police department has taught me that most of what people say shouldn't be taken personally; because most of the time, those types of comments are made without much thought. After a day or two, though, it hit me that this may very well be a common misconception some folks have about homeschoolers. So I wanted to take a minute to assure those folks that homeschooling is no "easier" than public school. The academic content may actually be even more difficult, as well as the expectations of "the teacher" being higher if only because she knows your true potential.

Trey was really struggling in public school, and not because of the academic content. He was struggling because the school was unwilling to provide any modifications for him due to his ADD. For instance, they would put all of the math word problems at the top of the page instead of at the bottom. He would get stuck on the first one and was never able to move past it. Instead of nudging him to keep moving, the teacher would let him run out of time, and he would end up failing the test. This was very hard for him (and us) to swallow, because we know how smart Trey is.

Because he is now at home, I can nudge him to keep moving along. If he doesn't know the answer the question, I can nudge him to skip it and come back to it later. I do not give him the answers, and if you ask him, he'll surely tell you what a challenge it is, because when I ask a question, he can't hide in the back of the class hoping that someone else is going to raise their hand.

I test him weekly on the lessons that we have covered in his boxed set of curriculum. There are "Self Tests" at the end of each section, and there are 3-4 sections in a unit. The self tests are NOT open book, and he must score above an 80% to be allowed to move forward. On the rare occasion that he scores below an 80%, I make him review the entire section, and then I give him a separate quiz to insure he has mastered the material before moving on. He has 4 core subjects (Language Arts, History/Geography, Mathematics, and Science), and we also do Spelling and Vocabulary, and extra Enrichment activities that usually consist of experiments, Library visits, mini-units, etc. He doesn't do near as much reading as I would like him to, so I am considering starting a Boys Only Book Club through TEACH so that the boys can have something to challenge them to WANT to read.

Last week, he completed his first round of Unit Tests. He received high A's on everything. I give 2 bonus spelling words a week (just like public school), so his AVERAGE in Spelling is 110%. I couldn't be prouder of my little man! The only drawback seems to be the socialization factor so far. But there are a lot of sweet little boys in our homeschool group (TEACH) that he will get to play with a few times a month, so that will help. And Trey has never been one to have a lot of friends. Due to the insensitivity of most of the teachers he's come across, he has been made out to be the "problem child" and so most of the kids in the public school classrooms didn't want to have a lot to do with him. I realize that he's a challenge, but he is such a joy! He really loves people. He prays for people, even if he has no idea who they are.

I know I've told a lot of folks this story already, but when Trey was in the 2nd grade (last year), a dear friend of our family (Lindsay's babysitter, Karen) had a medical scare. I told the kids that we needed to remember to pray for Ms. Karen. Trey immediately asked us all to meet him in the living room. He instructed us to join hands and go around in a circle one by one and pray for Ms. Karen individually and then altogether. The next day, he went to school and had the entire 2nd grade praying for Ms. Karen at recess.

That is why I am so thankful for him (and all special needs children). Because they end up teaching us far more than we could ever imagine!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Tie-Dyed T-Shirts

I totally forgot to post photos of our Halloween T-Shirts. We borrowed this idea from Jenny at Little Acorns Treehouse ( She has such great ideas on her site. I think she said she borrowed this idea from Family Fun magazine. We used some of Trey's old undershirts that he had either grown out of or were stained. That way, we didn't have to purchase new ones...I love re-purposing! Anyway, here are the photos!

The kids drew on the designs for the jack-o-lantern faces (Lindsay had a little help from mom). And then I used black and green fabric paint to fill them in. They turned out soooo cute!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The following was in an email I received from my mother in law, Debby. Please watch this video and continue to pray for our precious freedom. We have a few days left before election and a huge portion of our country is leaning heavily toward a man with an undisclosed past. What will our future hold if he is elected? That is the billion (or TRILLION) dollar question.

God bless you, God bless our troops, and God bless America! McCain/Palin 2008!!! This will give you chill bumps as well as some teary eyes. This is one of the most beautiful renditions of this great song you will ever hear and it was performed by both elementary and high school student chorus'. These kids are fabulous! GOD BLESS AMERICA AND GOD BLESS OUR TROOPS!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Lesson Plans...

Originally, I had done quite a bit of blog-stalking on other Homeschool sites. There's this one "Super Mom" who posts all of her plans and lessons for the rest of us who need a little inspiration. I had thought I, too, would use this blog to keep track of all of our Lesson Plans and share them for my family in case they were interested in our progress. However, these are just getting to be too time consuming to post each week, so I've decided to just summarize what our plans are instead of posting detailed plans for each week. If anyone gets interested in what we're doing, I'm certainly not opposed to emailing them. But for now, especially since we going with a boxed set, I don't think there's anything particularly special about my curriculum or lesson plans that would inspire anyone else to the point where they would need me to post them. :)

That being said, we have a lot of plans for this week. We are taking a hint from Jenny on her Little Acorns Treehouse blog, who did some really cool Halloween Tie-Dye t-shirts with her kids. I think she got the directions from Family Fun Magazine. Currently, we are in the rinse cycle of our tie-dye process, so tonight we may be able to decorate the shirts. I just used some old white undershirts of Trey's, even for the girls. That way, all I had to spend was the money for the Rit Dye, and I think I'll also go purchase some black fabric paint. So all in all, I think this will be a very cheap, but cute project. (Albeit a little messy).

We also decorated the tiny baking pumpkins this weekend, thanks to ACE Hardware Store! Last week, Trey had to do some measurement exercises for Math, and we needed a yardstick. We didn't have one, so I drove to Ace (the nicest people and cleanest store in town!) They had a display up outside with all their pumpkins half-off, so I told the kids to pick out some little ones that were only 50 cents each. Addie was still in school, so I picked one out for her, and let Trey and Lindsay choose their own. We went inside the store, and looked around a bit. I love clean hardware stores. Everyone was so helpful, and even stopped to speak to the kids (which I always appreciate). We found our yardstick and headed for the register. The yardstick was 64 cents with tax, but the computer didn't recognize the pumpkins (of which we had 3 - so that would have been about $1.50 with tax). So he told me we could just have the pumpkins. And of course, I didn't have any cash (or change), so all I brought with me was my checkbook into the store. I told them I would have to put it all back and come back with some change because I couldn't reasonably write a check for 64 cents. So he let me have it all for free!! I asked him if he was sure, and he said he I was ECSTATIC! I will forever give my business to ACE Hardware Store over Home Depot and Lowe's now.

I'm so excited!!!

I can hardly contain myself! Lindsay is finally showing signs of being potty trained this century!!! She'll be 3 in a couple of weeks, and up until now, has been totally defiant against anything having to do with the potty. That is until I tried this new method by Lora Jenson, a stay at home mom (and potty training expert). It's called the 3 Day Potty Training method. It cost me $24.99 to download the ebook from the website, but I have to say, that was the best investment I've ever made! I would recommend it to anyone struggling with potty fact, I would recommend it to anyone who is about to start. Why go through all the other junk first, if you can get them trained in a matter of days?

I am a very skeptical person by nature...I used to not be that way, but working in law enforcement will do that to you. And with our new budget restrictions due to my new homeschool mom/teacher status, I was very tempted not to purchase it. But then after another hour of getting screamed at by Lindsay just for suggesting the word "potty", my mind was changed. So I clicked the "Order Now" button, and 6 hours later, my little stubborn toddler was coming to tell me she had to go potty. I couldn't believe it. It was really half a day yesterday by the time I ordered it and read it, so today is really our first full day, and she's been totally accident free!

Is this the same child who would sit on the potty and scream bloody murder (no really...I had to shut the windows for fear that the neighbors would call the police), and pull her own hair and scratch herself out in a fit of outright rage?? She now loves the potty and even stayed dry all night last night! I would kiss Lora Jenson if I could!!!

Here's a link to her website if anyone's intersted:

Thursday, October 23, 2008

One nation under God...

For those of you who know me, you know I try not to get too political. I have always kept my opinions to myself. But I have recently come to the conclusion that too many people are keeping their mouths shut out of fear of being found "politically incorrect." Folks, we are on the verge of a crisis here, and it has nothing to do with Barack Obama's skin color. I am so tired of people assuming that I am a racist because I wouldn't be caught dead voting for him. Anyone who knows me, knows that's absurd. I do not even entertain the thought with worrying about that. The fact is simple: I do not trust the man's past, his present, or his future. There are too many unanswered questions, and it seems that lately, if you ask a question to the man, you'll be ripped to shreds by the national liberal media. What happened? When did it become such a crime against humanity for a normal person to ask a question and expect an answer from a presidential candidate? Never mind the answer he received!! Good grief!!! I can't even go there or my blood will start boiling!

Calming down a bit, I would like for anyone who's reading this to please take a look at this You Tube video. It was sent to me by a good friend who happens to share my beliefs that this year's election is about many more issues than the economy and foreign policy. The very core values that support our nation could be at stake. Without these values, our country will inevitably crumble. Please join me in prayer for our great nation under God!

During the next couple of weeks, I will also be praying for both Presidential and both Vice Presidential candidates - as both sides need our Lord's guidance in their decision making.

Now please excuse me while I go put more McCain/Palin signs in the yard!!! LOL...had to go there!!!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Lesson Plans - Week 2 : October 13 - 17

Addie was out of school Monday for Columbus Day, and since Trey and I took a week off before we began, he doesn't have any of the 1 day holidays like this off. So Addie took this opportunity to learn a little about what Trey does in a typical day of homeschool. We planned a lot of extra crafts and activities for Columbus Day, so she had a lot of fun as well!

Columbus Day Activities:
Learn about the voyage of Christopher Columbus.
Make Columbus hats and paper bag puppets. (October 2008 - Teacher's Friend Publications)
Read 1492 Poem. I wrote the poem out on poster board with the rhyming words omitted. The children (even Lindsay) had index cards with all the different omitted rhyming words on each one. The child with the correct rhyming word got to come up and place the card on the board in the place of the blank. Then we read it again all together. This was a good activity for all the different grade levels.

Language Arts:
Read The Story of Pedro, and discuss.
Work on cursive handwriting: letters b,f,h,k,l
Handwriting Checklist

Review multi-numeral addition / subtraction facts: (a+b-x+y=z)
Place values / Number sequencing.
Numbers game using index cards labeled 0 - 9. Place all 10 cards face down on table. Turn over two cards at a time. Determine the highest number that can be made using the two digits. Repeat this step until 10 numbers are formed using 2 digits each. Place each number in order from lowest to highest. Reverse the numbers (ex. 53 turns into 35). And rearrange them again in order from lowest to highest.

History & Geography:
Continue Kansas Unit Study: Study about Soddies and Dugouts, Life as a Pioneer. Discuss how Lebanon, Kansas is the geographical center of the United States. Internet research project: research corn production.

Your Body Digests Food. Discuss how the digestion process works.
Experiment: 1 large glass (half - full of water); 1 smaller glass; 1 paper towel cut to 8" x 4", folded in a funnel shape with no hole; 1 tablespoon salt; 1 tablespoon cocoa. Mix salt in large glass of water until completely dissolved. Stir in cocoa powder until liquid is brown. Slowly pour into funnel in small glass. Remove the paper towel and taste the mixture. Discuss how it tastes like salt and not cocoa, and why. Discuss how our digestive system works similarly as a filter for the food we take into our bodies.

belt, cost, bend, ill, shell, knee, knock, knot, hum, caps. Bonus: dugout, sod.

Bible Memory Verse: John 3:16
Columbus Day activities on Monday.

In the Kitchen with Mom: Recipe from Cheerios Cookbook : Roly Poly Peanut Butter Balls

Library Day - Friday

Lessons for Mom...

Week 2 of Homeschooling went very well. Although I have learned some valuable lessons already, that I'm sure other home school moms will nod their heads emphatically about as they read them.

1. Always be sure to read through the curriculum BEFORE purchasing it to insure that your child is compatible with it's style and format. We got a late start and therefore didn't have time to familiarize ourselves with all of our options. Trey received an 80% on 3 different quizzes on Thursday, not because he doesn't know the answers, but because the style of the quizzes are so different than what he needs. (Example: My son has ADD and gets distracted by all the colorful illustrations. He finds them "too busy" for the page and gets distracted by them. What I have done to alleviate this is to re-type the same questions in the same order onto plain white paper. I asked him to re-take the test and he got a 100%!!)

2. Just because something says "Grade 3," it doesn't necessarily mean it is academically challenging enough for even a typical 3rd Grader. If you want your child to stay up to speed with what public schools are teaching, you will want to hand pick your curriculum to follow or at least compare to what they are learning. Example: My second grader is bringing home more challenging things than the material my 3rd grader is reviewing. I say "reviewing," because all of the material he has seen so far, he already mastered in either the 1st or 2nd grades. (Example: all he is doing so far in math is addition and subtraction. I originally thought they were just starting off with a review of previous lessons. WRONG! That's the main subject matter for the next several months.) I will have to supplement just to keep him from getting complacent.

3. When you buy a "Boxed Set" of curriculum, you are assuming that your child is at the same level in all subjects. I didn't account for the different strengths and weaknesses of my son. (Example: Trey's Reading Comprehension is very high, and his Reading Speed is very slow. So I have to try to find short stories {so he can be finished in a reasonable amount of time}, with a strong content level {so he can stay challenged}. I find that he enjoys magazine articles and newspapers, as opposed to lengthy books. He still likes the lengthy ones, but I find that he enjoys it more if I read it to him, or if he reads only a chapter at a time. )

4. I seriously underestimated the amount of time and preparation that goes into being a Homeschool Teacher. This is not to say that I'm not up to the challenge. I had done my homework and knew that it was going to take a lot of work. I didn't jump off the deep in without knowing what I was getting myself into. That being said, it's STILL a lot more work than I thought! If you read every book out there about homeschooling, and you think you have a good idea of the time and preparation it takes...take that number and multiply it by 3. I realize that by the time one gets a routine down, that number might go back down to the original estimate. Gosh I hope so!!! LOL.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Week 1 Lesson Plans - October 6 - 10

Language Arts -

Introduction of Alpha Omega Curriculum

Practice cursive handwriting: under curve letters - i, t, u, w, e, r, s

Building sentences using word blocks.

Math -

Review all addition / subtraction facts

History / Geography -

Kansas Unit Study - (Alpha Omega Curriculum)

Read A Summer Vacation, and The Six Parts of Kansas

Internet Research Project: Look up Kansas State Facts

Art -

Dinosaur Project (Kansas Tie - In)
Color / Cut / Paste Dinosaurs & Names, Facts

Make Kansas State Flag

Spelling -


Bonus: Kansas

Science -

Our Body Breathes Air - Alpha Omega

Discuss how air enters our body and goes to our lungs.

Discuss how our bodies inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide.

Make model of lungs using plastic cup, balloons, straws, clay, tape.

Discuss how many breaths we take while sitting still as opposed to

Discuss why our bodies seem out of breath after exercising.


Library Day - Friday

Composition Work - Interesting Facts about Kansas

Cooking in the Kitchen with Mom - Make dessert using recipe / measuring.

Homeschooling Week 1

We started our first full week of homeschooling this past week, and I have to say that everything went smoothly. We took a good week off...Trey needed a little break from everything, and I needed an opportunity to get my house back in order. 5 years of working full time took it's toll on my ability to keep the laundry monster at bay.

Starting this past Monday, we began our home school experience. I was so proud of Trey...he really did well. Of course, by Thursday, he had begun to test the limits between Mom and Teacher. But he really was exceptionally behaved. He received all high A's on his quizzes, and he was so proud. We are still in the planning process of our classroom, so he is working out of the living room for now. I made a make-shift bulletin board from a large framed print that I had, and I posted his work up above the piano for the whole family to see. Of course, I didn't leave Addie out...she has a math quiz hanging up there on which she made a 103%.

We are currently using the Alpha Omega Complete Curriculum set. Overall, I am pleased with it, but it does seem to be a little beneath his level. He was in an Advanced Placement school for Math and Engineering before we began homeschooling (Addison is still enrolled there)...and some of the things in the 3rd Grade Alpha Omega Curriculum is what he learned in Kindergarten. So, I'm having to do a lot of extra planning to make sure I supplement the boxed set adequately enough for his level of learning. Other than that, I like the fact that I can give a brief review of the previous days lesson and introduce new material at the beginning of each subject, and then he can work pretty much independently for the rest of the lesson. With Lindsay being not quite 3 years old, she's still having a difficult time letting me spend a lot of one on one time with Trey without interrupting.

I'd love to hear advice from anyone who is homeschooling an elementary level student, and also has a toddler running around. And I will try to post our lesson plans from this past week, as well as those for the upcoming week.

Home school is definitely a challenge, but I wouldn't trade it for the world. As I've said in recent posts, I used to work for the Texarkana Arkansas Police Department - actually, I still kind of work there. They asked me to stay on part time until they can find someone to replace me. I was kind of apprehensive because I knew how hard it was going to be for me to leave anyway...I really loved my job. I'm one of those cold-turkey types. When there comes a time for me to move on from something that I love, I am the type of person who needs to completely sever all ties, or else I wind up having regrets. I definitely didn't want to have regrets, but I couldn't tell them no. I grew up in a police family, so it was no surprise to me that I would come to think of them as an extension of my own family.

I only work for a few hours a week when I can...just to help them keep up with things until they find someone. But my first day back last week was a real eye-opener. Here I was feeling very apprehensive because I didn't want to regret leaving. But guess what...I didn't. The whole time I was there, I knew that I shouldn't have been. I felt so out of place...not because they had changed, but because I have. IN A WEEK! I knew that even though the department needed help, they didn't necessarily need ME. But my family does. EPIPHANY!!! It was one of those "Aha!" moments (as Oprah puts it).

While I will continue to fulfil my commitment to TAPD until they no longer need my service, I will never again question whether my decision to quit was a sound one. I know now that what I did was what was best for my son. That's all that matters...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Well, I did it...

I put my two weeks notice in at work yesterday. While the decision to homeschool was an easy one, actually carrying that letter to my Captain was a little difficult. I know I'm doing the right thing, but there's a lot that I will miss. I'll miss everybody I work with, and all of the victims I've met over the last 5 years. I'll also miss that feeling of accomplishment I feel when I am able to help a woman make her exit from an abusive relationship. There are a lot of things I'm proud of that I was able to accomplish while at TAPD. But I think there are other accomplishments to also be made while at home with my son (and 2 year old toddler!)

The excitement is growing within Trey and he can't wait to get started. We have set high goals for ourselves over the next several months, and we're eager to get started! One thing that we are eager to begin is the transition of our garage into our home school classroom. I have lots of plans and I will post pictures throughout our transition phase. If anyone has any photos of their classrooms, please feel free to share them! Send me a message, and I'll link you to my page so others can see as well! :)

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Lazy Day

I love my children! They actually let me sleep in this morning!!! Somehow they always know when Mom needs a little extra snooze time! I lost track of time and stayed up waaaaaay too late last night. I knew I was in trouble because my precious 2 year old usually rises with the sun. So imagine how delighted I was (followed by shear panic), when I looked over to see the clock read 9:15am! The older two (7 &8 years old) had fixed cereal for themselves and their little sister. They even put away their dishes! I was very impressed.

This sense of pride in my sweet, independent children was followed by immense guilt. Who was I to sleep in while my poor children had to fend for themselves??? I immediately began apologizing as if I were late for a major event in their lives. They looked at me as if I had lost my mind, and said quite simply, "Huh?" Evidently, it's not a major crime against humanity for a tired mom of 4 to sleep in occasionally. Go figure!!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Busy as an Angelbug!

Hi everyone! My name is Amy Smith, and I am the Owner/Designer at I specialize in Custom, Made to Order Gift Baskets, Diaper Cakes, Baby Gifts, Unique Gifts for all occassions! All of my creations are made in a smoke free/pet free environment, and are guaranteed to make you the envy of all other party-goers!! Check out for more information!

My Story....I am the proud mom of 4 beautiful kiddos...Tracy, Trey, Addison, and Lindsay. They range in age from 14 to 2, and they are the light of my world! My husband and I recently made the decision for me to quit my job as the Domestic Violence Case Coordinator at our local police department to homeschool our son, Trey. My last day will be the 26th of September, and while I love my job and it is very rewarding, our decision was a "no-brainer".

Trey was diagnosed with ADHD when he was in Kindergarten. He was medicated until he was referred to a Pediatric Cardiologist this summer for "extra beats in his heart rhythm". From that day on, he has been unmedicated. There's a long story here, but the (public) Math and Engineering School he attends (and earned an A average in last year), does not offer any services to children with disabilities. They will eventually send him back to his home campus for services; and Trey interprets that as a punishment. Afterall, he's just as intelligent as the other children that attend the school...and has proven it. Somehow this school has found a loophole in the federal Section 504 laws and the IDEA act. Since I don't understand it myself, I have not attempted to explain it to my son. Trey actually came up with the idea to home school. He asked me to do it, and considering all of our options carefully, we made the decision to give it a try. When I asked him to consider the negative aspects, like not having that many friends, he said, "Mom, I don't have any friends NOW." That statement sealed the deal, and I was determined to do everything in my power to save my sweet boy's spirit from being broken.

I have an incredible support system in my husband. I know that it's going to be a challenge to switch from 2 incomes to just 1, but he hasn't complained at all so far!!! This is very new for both of I welcome any ideas, budget advice, recipes for large families, etc!!