Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Web Wednesday

The internet is a wonderful thing!! I wanted to start sharing some of my online favorites with you on a more regular basis.

You can always see some of my favorite blogs and websites in the favorites section (found in the top nav bar).

Speaking of the top nav bar, what do you think of our new look? I LOVE it! I wish I could say I'm this talented, but no. Our new design is the work of Jolanthe, at Relevant Designs. Not only does she make everything look awesome, but she is great to work with and incredibly affordable. I don't know how she does it all! I highly recommend letting her remodel your blog, or at least create a blog button for you (only $5!!!)

One more TOTALLY AWESOME thing to share with you on our first Web Wednesday- Have you heard of Tumblr? It's been around awhile, but I just found it. Carisa, of has a great introductory mini-tutorial hereCheck out my Tumblr page: To quickly see my 'idea file' check out the quick view (aka archive). I think this is an awesome way to keep track of the great ideas & inspirations in the blogosphere!

Do you have a suggestion of a website, app or blog for me? Please leave it in a comment!


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tot School Tuesdays (Ella is 26 months old)

Ella is starting to get very interested in letters. She calls them all 'A' :)

Ella got very frustrated with our new Melissa & Doug Lacing Cards

So she decided to ride the horse instead :)

We have been doing tons of art!

And tons of swimming in Grandma & Grandpa's new pool :) This picture was taken at the beginning of one of our first visits. Now Ella is a little fish and will probably be swimming on her own by the end of summer!

We turned Ella into an experiment with static electricity.

We've been doing lots, but I haven't been great about remembering to take pictures. I'll have to focus on that this week!

See what others are doing for tot school:
Tot School


Monday, June 28, 2010

Simple Sure-Hit Snake

Ryan loved this simple craft. He used construction paper (pre-cut into strips), toilet paper rolls (cut in half), yarn, a hole punch, googly eyes, and felt (for the tongue). If you wanted to make a longer one, it could be a great pattern activity. 


Saturday, June 26, 2010

A Shrinky Dink Mobile

Yesterday we celebrated Ryan's last day of preschool for this year. We are so fortunate that a good friend of mine has an amazing in-home preschool.  I don't really feel like Ryan needs to attend preschool, but he loves it. I helped the students assemble a mobile for the teacher.

Each student traced their hand on shrinky dink paper. Then they colored them and added their name. I used a hole puncher to add a hole to each hand and baked them. I followed the same steps with a large circle for the top piece. Lastly I threaded each hand on a piece of wire and let the kids add their own beads.

It turned out really cute and will look great hanging in the classroom! I love shrinky dink and think we'll make a mobile to go with our ocean theme in the next few weeks.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Great Giveaways from The Activity Mom

There are few things that I love more than Giveaways (my husband, my kids, chocolate, winning giveaways...) You get the point, they rank pretty high!

Anyways, one of my favorite blogs- The Activity Mom is hosting a month of giveaways to celebrate 1000 readers! Be sure to check out all of the awesome stuff you can win!


By the way- help me get to 1000 readers and I'll do a month of giveaways too!! ;)


Monday, June 21, 2010

HeidiSongs Winner!

Congratulations to comment #13: Joyful Learner said... We can really use the Sing and Spell CD to help writing letters in a fun and catchy tune!

Our winner was chosen by 

My blog is getting a remodel (with the help of Jolanthe at Relevant Designs). We'll celebrate the new look with some more giveaways, so STAY TUNED!!


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to an AMAZING Daddy!

We are so lucky to have an amazing daddy that loves to play, loves to be with his family, and works so hard for us! Thanks for everything you do Daddy!

We finally had some professional pictures taken! (Aren't they great! If you're in Northern California be sure to check out Photography Bee) We decorated mugs and tile coasters for Daddy's office. Plus, we made a Super Dad card from HeidiSongs  (Don't Forget to enter the Heidi Song Giveaway TODAY!!!)

Friday, June 18, 2010

2010-2011 Plans

As a new school year approaches it's time to gather my thoughts about our goals and curriculum for Ryan's Kindergarten year and Ella's first full year of Tot School.

I would like to try a year of thematic unit studies. We will include: Under the Sea, Dinosaurs, Bugs, Pond Life, Our World, Musical Instrument, and more depending on where the kids' interest takes us!

I hope to use a lot of literature, art and music.
I plan to do 'circle time' each morning.

Ideally Kindergarten would be broken up into 2 chunks a day where the first session would be our standard routine including 'circle time', language arts, math, and Spanish, and the second session would be our thematic activities.

We use tons of supplementary materials (as you can tell from the pictures of our classroom). But, in this post I am just including our main curriculum.

Language Arts
Art  & Music

Tot School
Letter of The Week   (Curriculum by Confessions of a Homeschooler)
ABC Collage & Trace Book (from Tired, Need Sleep)
Crafty ABC's (from Totally Tots)
Activities from my favorite blogs & websites.
Activities related to our themes.

What are you planning for the upcoming school year? Please link your exact blog post to the Linky below and link back here too!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Tot School Tuesdays (Ella is 25 months old)

Ella loved playing at Natural Bridges State Beach. We also did some great tide-pooling while we were there. But it was too hard to watch them on the rocks and get pictures.

Ella loved her first gymnastics class!

Ella worked on a Power Glide Spanish lesson with her big brother, Batman.


Ella's favorite game since February has been playing Birthday party! 

We experimented with different musical instruments.

Ella played with her Commotion in the Ocean Felt Set

 Ella played with her button shape puzzle.

Ella made a necklace with beads. Her fine motor coordination is really developing! 


 Ella put beads onto toothpicks that were stuck in a styrofoam tray. We talked about colors and practiced counting during this activity.


My little girl is growing up so fast! She prefers the big kid swing. She's completely potty trained (day & night) and the binkie fairy came this week and took her binkies!!

Monday, June 14, 2010

30 Meals- The Best Idea I've Heard in Awhile!

I have a binder on the counter literally bursting with recipes. There is no organization to it what so ever, and it tends to bit a bit of a black hole! That's why I was soo excited when I came across the idea for 30 Meals at Nanny Goat.

The idea is very simple, and with a little time and effort to get the system rolling  your evening could be a lot less chaotic! I love the idea of using the system to lower my grocery budget as well.

Take a peek at Step 1 and let me know if you would like to give it a try!
I'm going to start putting together my 30 meals today.
To answer the question that I know I will get from both of my sisters- Yes, I'll make you one too :)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Heidi Songs Review & GIVEAWAY

I am so excited to share with you all an AMAZING addition to our curriculum! We have been using Heidi Songs daily for several months now, and they have truly been the catalyst in Ryan's learning of sight words. If you are looking for a great new resource for your household or classroom be sure to enter our giveaway!

Way back in February,  Kindergarten Teacher- Entrepreneur Heidi Butkus very generously sent me a huge sampling of her CD's and DVD's.  I was so excited when we first got them, but Ryan just wasn't ready for sight words yet. At that time we were just starting to work with CVC words. So I gradually started using, Heidi's CVC Word Families Resources. I can't believe how many resources are on this single CD! As a former teacher I loved that she has taken into account many different types of classrooms and learners. Her CD's include several versions of each worksheet to address capital, lowercase, and d'nalian print. There are also versions with different kinds of lines to be consistent with other curriculum you may be using. Her worksheets remind me of Explode the Code workbooks (which you know we also love). Heidi has created all of her own images and they are extremely well done and clear. Heidi understands teachers! She's done a great job of arranging materials to reduce copies and even includes blank worksheet templates to add your own words!

I kept trying the sight word songs a couple of times a week, and  within about a month it caught Ryan's interest. He is great with tunes and could easily remember her short and clever lyrics. Just a couple of months later Heidi Songs CD's have taught Ryan over 30 new sight words! We now listen to the songs for hours a day (while we play). Even 25 month old Ella begs for them, saying "H-E song please!" When we're reading and Ryan gets stumped with a sight word that he knows, I start humming its song and he gets it right away. These wonderful songs have really caught Ryan's interest and made him feel much more confident in his reading!

These materials are so great that they make me wish I taught Kinder (not enough though ;)

I have so many wonderful things to tell you about the Heidi Songs materials, but I know what you're all waiting for...the GIVEAWAY. (Don't worry I'll share a bit more throughout the week as I remind you to enter the giveaway:)

Heidi has generously offered for one lucky winner to choose any item (valued at $20 or less)!!! For your first entry visit  HeidiSongs with your kiddos and watch her sample videos. Leave a comment telling me which was your favorite. For a second entry tell us what you would order if you're our lucky winner!
(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, June 21, 2010 and announce it that day! Please make sure that there is a way for me to contact you or I will have to pick another winner.

As with all of my product reviews. These are my own opinions and I was not compensated for this review. I did receive an awesome assortment  of Heidi's materials that I will be passing on to our local elementary school this summer.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Circle Time

We started a daily circle time last week and both kiddos beg for it everyday! This is part of my attempt  to add a little more rhythm to our day.

I had to resist the urge to completely fill up our board. I want to be able to add to it as we go.

On the left hand side you can see our weekly weather chart and weather graph. Under the graph you can see a flower that says "I've Planted ____ Flowers" This refers to our Sight Word Garden. We practice counting by counting the flowers, and we review our sight words by reading some that we have planted and all of the words still waiting to be planted. Also on the left hand panel you see where we practice our address and phone number. That chart is also from our Preschool Curriculum by Confessions of a Homeschooler.

In the center panel we have our months of the year listed. We sing songs to practice them and I ask questions like "Can you point to the current month?" "What month is your birthday in?"  We also have our calendar, and today, tomorrow, yesterday chart. The Rhymes & Riddles section will change regularly. As you can see we started with 1,2 Buckle my Shoe. I chose this because it's in the first section of our new math curriculum. I used an adhesive hook to attach a ring of Spanish Vocabulary.

On the right hand panel you can see the Songs and Fingerplays we are working on. The definite current favorite part of circle time is singing Old McDonald had a Farm with our popsicle stick puppets. The puppets are kept in half of an envelope attached to the board with velcro. We are also practicing the ABC's and the Hokey Pokey. The hooks under our song section will change frequently to include what we are working on. They currently include color puzzles and shape flashcards. Some mornings we might just flip through the cards, other days we might do an activity such as- say Ryan, choose a color word to write on our board and Ella will hunt for something that color.

Circle time varies everyday depending on how much time we have, and how much the kids are enjoying it.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Organized for Next Year

I'm very excited about our upcoming school year, and just as excited about our new organization systems!!

Ryan does very well with systems and routine. For example, our tv chart worked like magic. So, I made him this folder to lay out his daily tasks. He doesn't care about the cute cover or lamination, but it makes me giddy ;) On the back of our calendar I attach all of our activity cards with velcro. As you can see, there are two cards for many of the activities. One is for his folder, and one is for the corresponding workbox. As you can probably deduce from the picture, I put the days tasks in the To Do section and once completed he moves them to the Completed section. So far this week this has worked wonderfully. Ryan likes knowing what's expected that day and he gets a huge sense of satisfaction moving tasks to the completed section.

This is our new work table. This Childcraft table was a sweet $35 Craigslist find!! There are two small cubbies above the bottom baskets that you can't see well in the pictures. The huge work surface allows me to put the day's workboxes out for Ryan and still have plenty of space to work.  It's also great for puzzles (even the huge Melissa & Doug Puzzles we love!) and legos.

In our office I have our workboxes up out of little peoples' reach. Like I said, I put that days workboxes out on the table. The green crate is where I store Ryan's work for the year. It's really easy to just toss everything in the crate. I plan on going through it soon and weeding out lots of it. Inside the sewing table is more art supplies and some of my hobby craft materials.

You can see under my desk I keep our tot school materials and craft supplies in large tubs. Also, behind the trash can is a paper bag that the kids and I toss our scraps of paper, fabric, etc into for future projects.

I'm most excited about our new bookshelf from Ikea. It allowed me to organize most of our school materials!

I'm working on posts to tell you all about our curriculum and circle time. I hope to have them up next week.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Tot School Tuesdays (Ella is 25 months old)

Ella has been very in to drawing lately. She loves to tell you what she's making. Notice the underwear- she is almost completely day time potty trained!!

She loves her bead sequencing activity.

We played with Wikki Stix for the first time this week. Ella loved rolling them up and has asked to play with them everyday since.

Ella enjoyed the first activity that I printed from our new curriculum: Confessions of a Homeschooler's Letter of the Week.  

Also from Confessions of a Homeschooler's Letter of the Week we worked on these two piece color puzzles.

Most of the week Ella was wearing her Baby Malcolm :)

Check out what other tots are doing:
Tot School