Friday, May 28, 2010

Sight Word Garden

This is our sight word garden! I bought cardboard flowers from Michael's and we painted them using our liquid watercolors . Each flower has a sight word on it and all of the flowers are put into a flower pot. When Ryan really knows a word (can quickly identify it, find it in stories, and spell it or sing it's song) he gets to plant it in the garden! So far Ryan is loving our garden, and I love that he's excited about learning these words and that we've come up with a cute way to make sure we keep practicing them.
During our morning calendar time (which I'll post about soon) we practice our flowers in the pot, count how many flowers we've planted and play games with the ones already planted. 
That's our summer reading chain hanging above the garden :)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tot School Tuesdays (Ella is 25 months old)

Ella used magnetic pom-poms to fill in number shapes

She pressed different shapes into play-dough.

She stole the last of the winter carrots right out of the garden!

She used liquid watercolors to make butterfly wings.

She pet a chicken at a local farm tour.

She picked and ate TONS of strawberries!

Check out what other tots are doing:
Tot School

Monday, May 24, 2010

EcoMom Fingerpaint Winner!

Congrats to comment #5- MamaLake was chosen by! I hope her kiddos enjoy the awesome finger paints from EcoMom!!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Animal Match

One of the many activities I brought along on vacation was Animal Match, a game that I printed from Home School Share. Home School Share's tagline sums the site's mission up beautifully- because many minds make light work.

Anyway, back to the game. I printed this game out knowing that it would be too easy for Ryan and a bit of a stretch for Ella. But it was a quick, easy, and most importantly NEW activity. To assemble the game I printed two copies of the game board. I cut one up and attached a magnet to the back of each piece. I use magnets frequently since I bought a huge lot of adhesive backed business card size magnets on ebay. I taped the game board to a cookie sheet (we have a set that are just for school), so that the magnets could keep the pieces in place on the grid.

Ella really enjoyed this game and it provided tons of practice with a variety of skills. Obviously, it's a great lesson in visual discrimination, and provides some fine motor practice. But, I was really impressed at the opportunities it provided for vocabulary building. Not only could we talk about the silly animal pictures, but I also talked a lot about where to look on the grid. "I see the butterfly at the top of the page" or " The squirrel is next to the duck".

I was amazed at how much easier this game became for Ella the very first time we played it. By the time Ryan realized that we were playing a game without him, Ella didn't really want or need his help blatant takeover!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Back from Vacation with a Giveaway!!

We are back from a wonderful beach vacation! We enjoyed tons of fun outside with of course a little bit of 'school' mixed in!

 Ella loved throwing rocks into the creek at our vacation rental.

Ryan love wading in it (even though it was freezing)!

We had a few kayak adventures!

We enjoyed gorgeous coastal hikes. Ryan hiked over 4 miles (with promises of smores curtailing the whining:)

OK, enough with the pictures- I promised a GIVEAWAY!!

One afternoon we enjoyed some down time with EcoKids Finger Paints compliments of EcoMom.
I love that these paints are made with natural ingredients including fruits, plants and vegetables. The paints come in powder form. It was great to mix up just enough for one session and have lots left for many more hours of painting. I was excited about the beautiful, vibrant colors when I added water.

The colors ended up being  more muted when applied to paper. The earthy tones were perfect for Ryan to paint a scene from our kayaking trip that day, and for Ella to get as much purple paint as possible on a single sheet of paper. Ryan did a couple of thick puddles and they dried with a neat texture that made me think they will be great for dinosaur scenes in our upcoming dino unit.

Ecomom has TONS of great eco-friendly products for the whole family. Their EcoPass allows you to purchase  a $99 annual membership, which provides for a 15% discount on every order, as well as free shipping with no minimum requirement!

I know their customer service is amazing! The first package they sent me was taken form my front porch!!!  Jody quickly replaced it for me.

EcoMom has generously agreed to give you all 15% off your first order! Just use the discount code SBBL322 before June 30, 2010.

EcoMom is also providing a FREE EcoKids Finger Paint Set (including shipping) to one lucky reader!!

To Enter: Follow me on Facebook, become a Google Friend, or subscribe to my blog via email (all of these are found in the right hand toolbar). You must do at least one of these things, but you can do all 3 if you're that awesome!

Extra Entries:
Follow EcoMomCEO on Twitter
Become a fan of EcoMom on Facebook
Join EcoMom's newsletter

(You need to leave a separate comment for each option since I use to pick winners.)

I will choose the winner at 8:00am on Monday, May 24, 2010 and announce it that day!

As with all of my product reviews. These are my own opinions and I was not compensated for this review.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Free Books for Summer Reading!

I surprised myself and had a second to write this up before we leave town! I wanted to be sure you knew about the free books from Barnes and Noble and Borders :)

We are using a fabulous idea by Amy, from Teach Mama to make sure we keep reading tons through the beautiful summer months. We are making two paper chains for Ryan's room, a long one, and a short one.

He removes a link from the longer chain every time someone reads him a book. When he finishes his long chain he gets to choose any new book from the book store. He also has a smaller chain that he removes a link from every time he reads us a book. When that chain is gone he gets to choose a new book AND we'll go to frozen yogurt!

We'll be sure to take advantage of these great summer reading programs! Don't forget to check if your local library has a program too!

Barnes and Noble is giving away a free book to reward summer reading for students in grades 1-6:
  1. Kids read any eight (8) books of their choosing.
  2. Kids use the Passport to Summer Reading to document the places visited in each book. A parent/guardian signs the Passport when it's complete.
  3. Kids bring their completed Passport to any B&N store between May 25 and September 7, 2010.
  4. Kids receive a coupon for a FREE BOOK (to be chosen from a list)
For more details, to download the passport, or to see the list of free books:

Borders is offering a smaller giveaway list, BUT their summer reading program is open to any child under 12!
For their program you list 10 books you read on their form, and return it to any Borders, Borders Express, or
Waldenbooks store to receive your free book!



We are taking a family vacation! I'll be back to tell you all about it 5/18 :)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Making Writing Meaningful

My normally school loving boy has been objecting lately! I've come to realize that he doesn't love writing; and that's fine since it isn't exactly developmentally appropriate for an almost four year old.  The actual physical act of writing is difficult and frustrating for him all of a sudden. I'm pretty sure the change has come from learning lowercase letters, and from me placing more of an emphasis on handwriting.

For me the most important part of homeschooling my children is fostering their love of learning. So, we're making modifications around here to keep the love going. For example, when his Explode the Code workbox requires writing I sometimes let him use magnets or stamps instead.

With each task we do I 'm asking myself what I want the focus to be. When we made our butterfly observation book last week. The important part was learning to observe. We did this through talking and drawing. I wrote some of our observations in the book and he just added his name.  I won't modify forever, when handwriting becomes more developmentally appropriate we'll have to work on it.

I do want Ryan to enjoy writing, and be exposed to it everyday. So, I'm working on making writing meaningful for him.  He loves writing letters to friends, and adding notes to pictures he draws. To help keep him writing I created a writing center. I actually made one for him and two for friends with birthdays next week. I bought the cases at Michaels (they're 40% off right now). In each case there's a smaller box with an assortment of pencils, pens, crayons, and markers.  I included note cards, list paper, journals, all kinds of blank paper, postcards, post its, stickers, letter stamps, envelopes, personalized return address labels, a clip board and a dry erase board. I hope all of these supplies will get the kids excited about writing!!! I personalized the outside of each case and included some ideas on the inside to get the kids started. You can print the ideas here.

Tonight we're going to set up a family mail center. Like the one on from Let's Explore!

How do you encourage your kids to write? Please leave a comment with your ideas.
Have you written or seen other great posts about getting kids to write- if so link up!