We are about 3/4 of the way through our first year of full-blown homeschooling. February, the month of love, seems like a great time to share what I LOVE and what I HATE!
First off, I LOVE all the stuff that I am learning. We just finished a unit on space, and it is seriously blowing my mind. Elementary science is totally wasted on the young. Talk about bringing perspective to my boring adult mind. And ancient history? Its better than a novel. I have really enjoyed seeing how all these cultures that I vaguely know something about fit with each other in history.
I also LOVE planning. Yup! I get excited at the end of the week when I get to mark boxes off and plan something new. When its time to start a new unit, I LOVE gathering relevant resources and activities that incorporate all different facets of learning around one subject. And in my planning world, everything is always well organized and lovely and the children are listening and getting everything done in a timely fashion.
I LOVE the fact that I can make them clean toilets every Friday as part of “life learning”.
I LOVE that we are getting to deal with some authority issues that I kind of brushed away up to this point, before they are teenagers and all hope is lost.
I LOVE that we can pick up and travel whenever we want and give them field trips to exotic places.
Okay, so now the not-so-pretty.
I HATE that I am too tired at the end of the day to want their friends in my house. I’m pretty sure most of their friends think I am a grumpy old woman.
I HATE that I have to make a jillion more decisions every day than I used to, and that my kids know when I am weak from such decision fatigue and ask for ridiculous things that I will probably grant.
I HATE that my planning world is never my actual world.
I HATE that they are picking up even more of my bad habits than before.
And most of all… I HATE the intensified sibling rivalry and irritation that we often have with each other because we are spending almost every waking hour together.
Now that last point has had me thinking for a while now about how to more intentionally speak words of blessing and encouragement to each other. Ideas have been brewing and what has formed is my “Let’s all get along Valentine’s Day unit!” My hope, and prayer, is that as we speak loving things to each other, we will be more grateful for one another, that our defenses will lower a little bit, and that they won’t feel like they have to constantly compete for their piece of attention and respect among so many siblings. But along the way, we’ll learn a little bit of all the traditional school subjects too!
We’re staring this week, the week before Valentine’s Day. We just finished up an English Unit, so we’ll take the week off of English to have time for the extra stuff. It’s split into five days, but you could spread it out over a longer period, or pick and choose just a couple of activities for a shorter period of time.
DAY ONE: THE HISTORY OF VALENTINE'S DAY
We’ll talk about the origin of Valentine's Day, which is mostly legends about St. Valentine from 3rd century Rome. We just started our Roman unit in history, so it is a great connection that I didn't plan. There are a lot of weird videos on Youtube that tell the stories about Valentine's origin. This was probably the most well done and appropriate for kids.
However, she presents everything as fact, and there are a lot of discrepancies in the story. Without getting into too much detail, I will point out to the kids these key points.
-There may have been three different St. Valentine's from which the stories derive.
-There was a Roman pagan holiday celebrating love and fertility and some say the legend of St. Valentine's was used to Christianize the holiday.
-In this story, it is hard to know what is truth vs. legend.
1st grade : Write 3 sentences re-telling the story of St. Valentine.
2nd-5th grade : Write your own legend about the beginning of Valentine's Day. OR Design a comic strip based on the legend of St. Valentine.
Creating a comic strip can be a good exercise for reluctant writers (which all of my children are!) Here's a template I created to get them started.
DAY TWO : TRUE LOVE
Day Two will be all about “What is Love?” We will read the biblical definition from 1 Corinthians 13. I’ll have them copy the verses in their best cursive writing on a nice fancy paper. Then we’ll make these spinning wheels and do this word search.
DAY THREE : LETTER WRITING
Day Three we will talk about the mechanics of letter writing, stamps, post offices, etc. We will learn how to fold our own envelopes from paper, using my template below. We’ll talk about postage, how post offices work, and how to address an envelope.
They will learn their own address and then pick a grandparent to write to. They'll have to do the whole process of making and addressing the envelope.
DAY FOUR : MAILBOXES!
This is where we take out all of the boxes I've been saving up and each kid will get to design their own mailbox. They can decorate it any way they want. I remember doing this as a kid and covering an entire box in conversation hearts for the competition at school. They will also get to make up their own address and keep it in outside their bedroom when they are finished.
DAY FIVE : CARD-MAKING AND SENDING
Now we will get to work making Valentines for each other and sending each other encouraging messages. Since we are staying in a foreign country and I’ve not quite figured out the postal system, we will pretend mail the letters. I’m going to set up a box where they can put the letters and each day they can take turns as the postman delivering them to each mailbox. There will be a small fee for each “stamp” (heart sticker), and we will put that money toward buying candy for a Valentine’s Day party.
On Valentine’s Day we’ll actually be starting a unit on Anatomy, which as luck would have it, begins with the heart/circulatory system!
What do you do in your homeschooling, or life in general, to encourage healthy sibling relationships? What are your LOVES and HATES about homeschooling?
A few years ago, Luke and I did a huge reading challenge and ended up reading over 50 books. A feat I never, ever dreamed of completing! It created a newfound love for reading in me. It was like going to school on my terms and learning new things about myself, history, and the world, all the while enjoying a good story or two just for the fun of it. The next year, I created my own reading challenge, hoping to travel the globe through books, but I had to make a huge pit stop when we found out we were expecting number five and had to relearn how to live life in our passport country. Basically my brain turned to mush and I quit reading for a while. Last year, I probably started twice as many books as I finished and I realized that a structure and goals were crucial for me to be intentional in my reading.
This year, I am committing to fewer books (just 12 - one per month!) on more specific topics that I am really interested in learning more about.
So here we go :
1. A Book about Education/Homeschooling
2. A Book about Biblical Prophecy
3. A Book about Honor/Shame
4. A Book Someone Recommends
5. Biography of a Christian Woman
6. A fiction book from a country I don't know anything about.
7. A Historical Non-fiction
8. A Fun Book!
9. A Book about Health/Nutrition
10. A Commentary on Colossians
11. Free Fiction
12 Free Non-fiction
This month I started "Susie: The Life and Legacy of Susannah Spurgeon" for category #5. I'd also like to read "The Weight of Glory" by CS Lewis for category #4, which my dad recommended to me a year ago.
To keep track of everything, and to motivate me to finish, I've created a Reading Log in my new 2019 Bullet Journal. I know I'm a bit late to the bullet journal fad, but so far it is rocking my world. Maybe more about that later.
What are you reading this year. Do you have any suggestions for great books that would meet my reading goals this year?
We are just finishing up an English unit, and with Christmas season in full swing I wanted to take a break from the usual curriculum and doing something different. In our history unit, we are approaching a chapter on Homer’s Odyssey, so I could feel all the stars aligning for a Christmas Poetry unit! Its still very much in the works, I don’t have any cute printables to share with you. But I wanted to get the idea out there before Christmas was done and gone and I would have to wait for another year. So here’s the framework that I’ve been coming up with. My kids range from pre-school to 5th and I am trying to incorporate something for everyone. If you are still scrambling for a good December plan, feel free to join in on the poetry fun!
I’ve organized what I want to teach into six lessons. For each lesson, I will introduce a poetry term, a type of poetry, a Christmas poem (when possible), and have the kids do a range of activities from writing, to STEM projects, to art projects. I cut a big Christmas tree out of green poster board and wrote each term on an ornament. We'll hang them up one by one as we go through the lessons.
Poetry Term : Poetry
Poem Type : Epic
Poem : Homer's Odyssey
We would have done this anyways in history, so it will kick off our poetry unit. We’ll be listening to Mary Pope Osbourne’s audio edition and be coloring these great printables from TeachersPayTeachers. This will be a filler activity for several weeks as we go through the ancient Greece portion of Story of the World Volume 1.
Poetry Terms : Rhyme, Stanza
Poem Type : Narrative
Poem : How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Activity : Grow the Grinch’s Heart 3 sizes! (Science project) and the Grinch paper plate (Art project).
Assignment : Write a 2 stanza, rhyming poem that tells a short story.
Poetry Term : Alliteration
Poem Type : Limerick
Poem : Still googling some cute Christmas one's that I'll put in a short powerpoint. We'll also use Dr. Suess' A-Z to really learn the alliteration.
Activity : Melting Snowman picture -->This was my inspiration!<--
Assignment : Write a limerick about a snowman to match the above mentioned picture, using your own name and some alliteration. I’m going to be flexible on the syllable count for this because I don’t want that to stunt their writing at this point. I came up with my own as an example!
"There once was a snowman named Julie,
Who loved to consume good coffee,
But coffee is hot
so before she was not
She solemnly switch to sweet tea"
Poetry Terms : Simile/Metaphor
Poem Type : Narrative
Poem : The Night Before Christmas (We’ll listen to Jim Weiss’ rendition, which is on sale this month over at welltrainedmind.com for a whopping 99 cents! We’ll also check out a copy at the library and identify as many similes and metaphors as we can.
Activity : Sleigh Building Challenge
Assignment : Write a few similes or metaphors. For the younger kids, I’ll start specifically with colors, eg. “Santa’s coat was red like a tomato”. It can be very, very simple!
Poetry Terms : Repetition
Poem Type : Sonnet
Poem : Joy to the World (not technically a sonnet, so don't yell at me. I'm not ready for Shakespeare yet!)
Activity : Identify repetition in Joy to the World
Assignment : Cursive writing practice - copy the carol in cursive and add a decorative border.
Poetry Term : Personification
Poem Type : Haiku
Poem : When Cindy Lou Who / Caught the Grinch with the presents / She believed his lies. - from 365 Christmas Haikus
Activity : Watch the book "Wish to be a Christmas Tree" on Youtube. Build a gumdrop Christmas Tree.
Assignment : Attempt a haiku about a Christmas object, using personification.
I made one of these up too! If I couldn't do it, I couldn't ask the kids too. Here we go. Don't laugh!
Christmas Lights Sparkle / Little elves dance on my tree / Delivering joy
And there it is! If I get through 4-5 lessons I will consider that a big success. What are your favorite Christmas poems?
We have never celebrated Halloween with our kids. Not out of any big conviction, but just because we have never been in the United States while our kids were trick or treating age. That is... until last year. Last year they got the full, candy-filled, costumed-out, Halloween experience. We went to Halloween parties, a Halloween parade, and trick-or-treated in our neighborhood (yes, our OWN neighborhood, which I came to sadly find out is rare these days). I was glad that they got to experience all of that at least once, even though it did start a steady stream of candy into the house that wouldn't end until after Easter.
So now, for the first time, I feel somewhat obligated to give the kids at least a little dose of festivities this year. Since the kids are in Pre-K, 1, 2, and 5, I'm trying to find activities that will be fun for everyone, with a little bit of art, science and math mixed in without them noticing much. And of course there will be candy, lots and lots of candy.
1. Halloween Bingo
This Free Bingo Download will engage all of your kids from Pre-K to fifth! There are 4 levels that include different mental math problems from Number Recognition to Order of Operations. But the best part is, they all end up in the same numbers, so that everyone can play together!
Level 1 - Number Recognition, suitable for Pre-K to 1st, depending on skill level. Even if your Pre-K student doesn't recognize numbers all the way to 50, this is a party, so let bigger siblings help them out!
Level 2 - Addition and Subtraction up to 20, Doubles, and Near Doubles Facts. For numbers over 30, its Missing Numbers. Ideal for K-2, depending on skill level.
Level 3 - Addition and Subtraction up to 100, a few Missing Numbers and a few Adding 3 numbers. This is good for 2nd-3rd.
Level 4 - Multiplication, Division, and Basic Order of Operations. This would work for 4th-5th.
Depending on your students' mental math skills, you could choose to let them, or not let them, work the problems first and write the solutions in the square. I love that it is so flexible, and I've kept it simple because ink is expensive! There are two different cards for each level. Click below to download!
2. Graphing M&M minis
My mom teaches sixth grade and has been doing this project with them for the 15 years! The key is the M&M minis! This means kids will have more candy to count, organize and graph, with less candy to eat. Sneaky, right? And this is great for all ages too!
Pre-K - Organize the colors and match them to a colored cup or square.
K-1st - Count the candies and organize them by color, least amount to the greatest amount. Older learners can also make a simple bar graph.
2nd-4th - Make a bar graph or line plot by color.
5th-6th - Make a pie chart of the color ratios.
3. Candy Science
Its definitely a win if you can use up some candy without it actually being eaten, right? So maybe these are great after-Halloween experiments to use up some of that trick-or-treat treasure in a way that doesn't involve cavities.
We are going to try Steampoweredfamily.com's Layered Lollipops, but she also has a whole 31 days of Halloween STEM projects that are worth checking out.
4. Pumpkin Art
My 2nd grader recently told me that we don't do enough art in our schooling and I have to admit that she is probably right. So I'm looking for easy, low-prep, low-cost ideas that I can incorporate on a more regular basis. When I came across this Pumpkin Apple Stamping from frugalmomeh.com, I thought it was so cute and perfect!
5. Candy Corn Fractions
I saw this on pinterest as an easy way to make a Halloween banner. But we are going to make it the day before and do some fraction lessons with them first. Then we can hang them for the next day's party!
So that is the PLAN for Halloween! We get back from Malaysia just two days before, so I am trying to prep now and cross my fingers that I will have the energy and togetherness to get everything ready for the big day!
You can follow on Instagram @thetypetree to see the final results!
The past year and a half I pretty much gave up blogging. We planned to take a short break from traveling and living abroad, and I actually intended to use the break to be productive and invest more heavily into the blog and my pre-made printable collection on Etsy. However, instead, I ended up investing 9 months into a creative project (Hello World, Again #1), which we now lovingly call Gale. We spent an extra year stateside, wondering what the future held and if we would finally just settle into what we like to call "normal" life. With the extra physical stress and emotional anxiety, I was left with the creative energy of a paperweight!
Neglecting the blog seemed inconsequential. When I wrote, I always felt like I was rambling on to myself. And that is pretty much why I was doing it - to keep track of lesson ideas, family travels and to challenge myself to write and create. I never imagined that anyone was really paying attention. That's why I was really surprised to hear from several random strangers over the course of the year who were loving my posts and wondering when I was going to finish some of my curriculum series.
Well, slowly we started to figured out how a family of seven functions and we decided it wasn't debilitating enough to give up our passion for travel and globally educating our small army. We are currently in India (Hello World, Again #2), where we really like to stay when we aren't hopping around Asia. Homeschooling has resumed after a one year experience in the US public school system. And we have some exciting trips planned for the next 12 months. So I feel that it is the perfect time for me to get back into the habit of forcing myself to write, and hopefully helping some of you in the process. And that's Hello World, Again #3!
Here's a bite size chunk of our last year and a half, which included plenty of exploring our own native lands. :)
My oldest girl turned seven this month. For the past year, she's been saying she wants a pool party and I kept telling her it might not be able to happen in October! But we just so happened to join the YMCA in September and they offer great rates on indoor pool parties. Even though it seemed a bit out of season, we had a blast celebrating with an Under the Sea Mermaid theme. There are so many cute ideas out there and I couldn't help but do more themed food than I usually do. Of course, first things first, I had to come up with a new invitation design. It was a good excuse to play around with my new iPad Pro and Pencil. I've been using the Astropad App to draw directly into Illustrator and it has been life-changing! The invitation is in my Etsy shop here!
I know party favors can get out of hand, but I do like to do something. The trouble is I always end up inviting tons of kids and it can get expensive! I knew I was on to something when I saw this great tutorial for homemade Sea Glass Candy. I put my own twist on the packaging and wha-la, party favors for about $10 total! I had to make 2 batches to fill 18 bags. For the couple of really young kids that came, I filled their bags with fish-shaped fruit snacks. You can download and print the tail template for FREE.
Then there was the food. I have to admit, after being away from the US for several years and not having access to Hobby Lobby, I was so amazed at all of the creative stuff you can buy now and had to control myself from buying EVERYTHING. But I couldn't pass up food spray paint. Apparently the kids had never seen it before either and were unsure about the gold oreos that I was inspired to make from this post. One of my friends was so quick in her wits to explain to the kids that ALL the food they were eating had some sort of artificial coloring and that they didn't need to worry.
The adorable crab sandwiches were inspired by All That Glitters and the jello oceans cups I put my own spin on after seeing a bunch of different versions. The seaweed celery sticks were my last minute attempt to provide something healthy for the adults!
There are a lot of really amazing mermaid cakes out there! Most of them are far beyond my cake decorating talents! I was inspired by this simple, yet cute cake done by RoseBakes.com. I avoid fondant at all costs, so I made the mermaid using the "Frozen Buttercream Transfer" Method. I have done it for one other cake in the past. Its a great option if you feel confident with piping, but not with fondant.
I hope that you found some helpful tips and party ideas!
Jolly Phonics - Letter L
We lick the lollipop
We lick the lollipop
/l/ /l/ /l/ /l/
We lick the lollipop
Mary Had a Little Lamb
Mary had a little lamb,
little lamb, little lamb
Mary had a little lamb,
Its fleece was white as snow.
This Little Light of Mine
This little light of mine,
I’m gonna let it shine
This little light of mine,
I’m gonna let it shine
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.
Leaf rubbing is a great activity to get the kids outside and could be integrated easily with a science or art lesson. You don't need anything but a blank piece of paper and a crayon (and leaves of course!), but I have included a worksheet that you can use that reinforced the letter L and the spelling of leaf. After collecting and tracing all of our leaves, we even incorporated some math by organizing them from the biggest to smallest!
The letter L coloring sheet is another great way to reinforce vocabulary. And the picture story reviews vocabulary from i to L. Not only is this a fun activity to read aloud together. But if you are teaching a class, you can print copies for the kids to take home and practice with their parents. This is a great pre-reading activity that will help build their confidence for further skills.
Print these letter L flashcards for easy practice of the L sound and vocabulary. You can use the black and white to let the kids make and color their own for practice outside the classroom. They are free to use, but do not advertise them as your own and do give proper credit when linking to them.
Luke's great-grandparents immigrated to the US from Sweden, so I thought I should include it on my country list and learn a thing or two. I hardly scratched the surface of what there is to know about this rich and complex country, but I really enjoyed the month!
I really dropped the ball on this one and actually forgot to listen to anything throughout the month! I did come across this video that has gone viral in the past few weeks, a parody inviting all world leaders over for fika, the Swedish word for a sweets/coffee break.
There is tension in Sweden over racial and refugee issues like there are all over Europe and the US. Recently a Muslim school has come under fire for allegedly separating girls and boys on the school bus. They also reinstated their draft for both men and women due to the decrease in volunteers, but growing threat from Russia.
In honor of Allan Karlsson (the hundred year old man...) and his love for vodka, Skal! Cheers!
He struggles through his life being misunderstood, depressed, weak, lonely and afraid. His devotion to his work was often a means to escape the dark feelings that haunted him. If we were his contemporaries, we would surely criticize him for being a workaholic and unable to appreciate the important things in life. The book was also not a captivating story, it was pretty dry and boring, at least saved by the controversial letters from Alfred to his mistress of twenty years. I trudged through (for the sake of the challenge, mostly), and ultimately I’m glad I did because it has made me think about a few things more deeply.
In our obsession with enjoying life to the fullest, traveling, exploring and staying connected, do we forget that there were men and women throughout history that had to invent these things that we so casually enjoy? When we travel with ease across countries and borders, do we stop to appreciate the millions of people that have done something to make that possible? Alfred Nobel’s dynamite gave a huge advantage to the travel industry by greatly reducing the time to construct railways. Can I condemn him for creating something so destructive while enjoying the obvious benefits of it?
I have often sat at airports, gazing out the window as the planes are taxied, bags are loaded and passengers accommodated. So many people have to work hard at their jobs day in and day out to make my choice of life possible. This goes for almost everything I enjoy - the food I eat, the clothes I wear and even the books that I read. With all of the social strife that is raging today, maybe we should all stop and think about how the people that we judge, accuse and hate, might play an integral role behind the scenes of our daily lives and the luxuries we enjoy. Are we contributing to the future or just enjoying the fruit of other people’s past labors?
I wonder what Alfred Nobel would have thought if he had lived to see the twentieth century, the most barbaric and deadly of all time. His last will and testament, which established the Nobel Peace Prize, was not just a last ditch attempt to make up for devoting his life to destruction. He actually had a keen desire for peace all of his life, and his greatest ambition was to create something so destructive and deadly that nations would be forced to live peacefully. As anti-social as he was, he had a deep concern for world peace that we would do well to emulate, first and foremost in our daily interactions with one another.
Jolly Phonics - Letter K
Kites are flying in the sky
/k/ /k/ /k/
Kites are flying in the sky
/k/ /k/ /k/
Kites are flying in the sky, flying in the sky
Kites are flying in the sky
/k/ /k/ /k/
Kick the Ball
Kick, Kick, Kick The Ball.
Kick it very high!
Kick it over the garden Wall.
Kick it to the Sky.
Kangaroo, Kangaroo, hop up and down
Kangaroo, Kangaroo, turn around!
You jump so high,
That you reach the sky!
Hold your Joey tight!
"K is for Kick" coloring sheet -Reinforces vocabulary and practice handwriting skills.
Letter K Coloring Book - Reinforces vocabulary and develops an interest and confidence in reading books.
1. Fold along the middle dotted line.
2. Fold back and forth along the dotted lines like a fan, ensuring the title page is on the outside.
3. Put two staples to secure the spine.
4. Cut along the open edge so that all the pages open.
"K is for Kite" Craft - Develop fine motor and problem solving skills
1. Print the template on various colors of card stock. There are three kites per template and I've done my best to set it up in a way that minimizes cutting.
2. Cut the triangle pieces out (or if you have older kids, you can let them give it a go.) You can use this as a good teaching opportunity both for triangles, and for "Big, Medium, Small" since there are three sizes of triangles.
3. Mix up the colors, so that each student can get a variety of pieces for their kite craft.
4. Children can glue the pieces in the correct spaces on their kite picture.
Download the preschool letter K vocabulary flashcards and activity worksheets to use for personal and educational purposes. Do not sell them or offer them as your own. Please give proper credit wherever you use them.
The flashcards are formatted for A4 and can be printed back to back, cut and laminated. There is a color and a black and white version in case you want to save on printing costs and do the coloring yourself.
Luke and I are married and have four little munchkins that travel the world with us. I blog about living overseas, travel, kids, education and graphic design.
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