Friday, July 23, 2010

Art Center


Remember the Writing Centers that I created for a couple of Ryan’s friends as birthday presents? Well last week we tweaked the idea for another good friend, and created an Art Center!

I used the same great container from Michael’s (with a coupon of course!) and filled it with all kinds of goodies (a pack of construction paper, foam sheets, pom poms, googly eyes, liquid watercolors, bingo bottles, crayons, colored pencils, markers, model magic, paint brushes, pencils, paper plates, paper lunch bags, and letter stamps).

With all of the back to school sales going on it’s a great time to stock up on supplies to make  custom centers for all your gifting needs!

On the home front, we’ve been trying to do more art on a daily basis! I get an awesome weekly reminder by seeing the wonderful Art Box posts at Tired, Need Sleep. I’ve set up our art box, we just need to take it out more…



Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Kid that LOVES to write???


Just a couple of months ago Ryan didn’t want anything to do with writing. I was having a really hard time not pushing it. I modified our school activities to not include as much handwriting (actually hardly any at all). I left him tons of special messages.  I incorporated lots of ways for him to see me write in daily life, and I tried to entice him by creating an awesome writing center.

I’m not sure how all of my actions played in, but he took the time he needed and now I can’t get the kid to stop writing!! He is spending hours a day using his writing center and anything else he can get his hands on to ‘make mail’ for people, make signs, and leave letters for family members all over the house. I think I’m going to have to add postage stamps to our monthly budget!

It’s so cool to see his learning explode in a new direction, and to be validated in my knowing that all he needed was time and encouragement!


Area Tiles

math tiles

Ryan has a cool math puzzle from The Puzzle Man.  I love it’s big wooden pieces, but every time we have played with it I noticed some kinks. So, of course I decided to create my own ‘slightly modified’ version.

I recreated the pieces using foam sheets. I wrote the numbers on both side of each piece to make it easier for Ryan to use them without mastering spatial reasoning skills of flipping pieces in a very specific way. And, I made three sets so we had more options for activities.

Ryan enjoyed seeing how many ways we could make 10 (obviously, these aren’t all of the ways). In case you’re missing the point- all of the 10 blocks that we created were the same size. When doing it together we laid them on top of one another to check that.

The puzzle can be used for addition and subtraction. I would give Ryan a few pieces and say what do we have to add to six to get ten. It can also be a great self checking tool for simple addition and subtraction problems.

Of course, I’m posting the template (page 1 and page 2) for you!

Let me know how you use the area tiles!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Homeschool Hop- Favorite Family Board Games

I always have the intention of participating in a blog hop, the time to sit down and do it is a different story! But, since we love games, and could use some ideas for new ones- I’m jumping in on the Homeschool Hop!

Hi Ho Cherry-O has been Ryan's favorite game since we started with games!






Both Ryan and Ella love Zingo! (I really want the Spanish version)






Just last night we played Erudition all together. I think it would work much better with a group of kids.




On bad weather days the kids play Hullabaloo to get out some energy







When it’s just the adults we play.








Monday, July 19, 2010

Preschool Prize Pack Winner

Congrats to comment #6. Kate said...Facebook fan!
I hope your little preschoolers enjoy all of these goodies!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

My First Blog Award!

A HUGE thank you to Family Style School for awarding me my first Blog Award!


When you receive this blog you are supposed to thank the person that gave it to you, share 7 Things about yourself, and pass the award along.

So 7 things about me…

1.  I am a Doula that hopes to grow up to be a midwife one day!

2. I birthed both of my babies at home.

3. My husband and I met on the first day of college, where our dorm rooms where next to one another.

4. I was a classroom teacher and homeschool adviser before the kids came along

5. I was an exchange student to Thailand in high school, and will forever love Thai food!

6. I subscribe to Self magazine and Mothering Magazine and get an immense sense of joy each month when they arrive.

7. I ran my first half marathon this spring and am registered for another one in October.

Now to pass it on! As you know I have an extensive list of favorite blogs- but many of our recent activities have come from:

Chasing Marcus

The Adventures of Bear

Counting Coconuts

Along the Way

I hope you’ll check out these great blogs, and thanks again to Family Style School

Great Books- CHEAP!!

Most of our favorite books are Barefoot Books. My kids love the great stories and amazing artwork, and I love that they ask for them over and over! We LOVE the cd’s that come with many of their titles, and listen to them in the car daily. I wanted to let you know about their annual summer sale.

Some of our favorites are, The Prince’s Bedtime (I have given this book to over a dozen kids as a present!), The Real Princess, The Story Tree, The Fabrics of Fairytale, Port Side Pirates, The Animal Boogie, Thesaurus Rex, 1 Moose 20 Mice, Magic Train Ride, and Driving my Tractor.

I do receive credit if you use the above link. I always donate any free books that these credits generate to our local elementary school.

I hope you will checkout Barefoot Books and enjoy them as much as we do!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tot School Tweaks

Tot school with Ella is SO different than it was with Ryan. It’s really hard to get her to sit down and do any type of semi-structured activity. When I took out some blocks for sorting yesterday (in fact they are the counters you can win in my giveaway:) she promptly threw the entire bin in the air and proceeded to pretend to swim in them! Since every kid is different, I’m having to come up with some new and exciting activities for her!
photo 1
Today she loved it when I tossed a sheep puzzle piece in a bag. I shook it while saying “baa, baa, what’s trying to get out of the bag?” (For more puzzle ideas check out this post.)
Tomorrow we are going to practice colors using the bag. I’m going to fill it with a variety of different colored objects, and let her shout the color when I take each object out. Then she can look for items of a certain color to fill the bag.
Last week at a friend’s house she had a blast searching for hidden objects in play dough.
Do you have some fun tot school ideas? Please share!!
Tot School

Monday, July 12, 2010

Win a Preschool Prize Pack!


Back to school is my favorite time of year!! Seriously, Target’s dollar bins and huge back to school set up makes me giddy! I thought I would share the love by giving away this preschool prize pack, in exchange for  you sharing your love of my blog :)

The first entry is simple- leave me a comment telling me you are a Google friend, or a Facebook fan. (If you’re awesome enough to be both, it’s actually two entries :)

For additional entries, share the blog with a friend. When they become a Google follower or Facebook fan they should leave a comment saying you referred them! (Of course they can then submit their own entries, and suggest it to their friends too!) Get as many friends to submit comments as you can!

The prize pack includes:

  • 4 activity books
  • Dr. Seuss Pencils
  • Markers
  • Colored Pencils
  • 10 dice (you can play all kinds of games with these!)
  • 150 foam counting blocks (spheres, cubes, and cylinders) (great for sorting, pattern activities, and use as math manipulatives)
  • A super cute Cat in the Hat tote to store it all in!

You need to leave a separate comment for each entry since I use to pick winners. I will choose the winner at 8:00am on Monday, July 19, 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.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Chicken Enchiladas & Mexican Rice

I've been working on my list of 30 Meals, and I wanted to start sharing some of them with you. I figured why not start with a favorite? EVERYTIME I make these enchiladas and rice for others they ask for the recipe.



Mexican Rice

(This is a super healthy & yummy dish. Tweak the spices  to make it work for lots of meals.) 


  • 2 cups brown rice
  • 4.25 cups high quality chicken stock (I make my own)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 pint of grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 4 tablespoons EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
  • 1/3 cup chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt


    Preheat the oven to 425. Spread the halved tomatoes on a cookie sheet covered in tin foil. Drizzle them with 1 tbsp EVOO and sea salt. Roast for 12- 15 minutes, until starting to brown.
        Heat the remaining EVOO in a large oven safe pan. (As always I prefer my dutch oven:) Add the onions and sauté until translucent. Add the rice and stir for a minute to coat. Add the spices and stir for another minute. Add the roasted tomatoes and stock. Reduce the oven temperature to 375. Cover your pan and bake undisturbed for 45 minutes. When the rice has absorbed all of the broth, remove the lid and enjoy!



      • 3 tablespoons EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
      • 1 tablespoon flour
      • 1/4 cup chili powder
      • 2 cups high quality chicken stock (I make my own)
      • 10 ounces tomato paste
      • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
      • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
      • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
      • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
      • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
      • 6 oz. monterey jack cheese
      • 4 oz. farmer’s cheese 
      • 1 pound of chicken (your preference breasts, thighs, or a mix of the two)
      • 10 corn tortillas


        Heat the oil in a medium saucepan. Add the flour and stir until smooth. Add the chili powder and stir for 40 seconds. Add the stock, tomato paste, sugar and the rest of the spices. Stir well. Add the chicken and cook thoroughly.  Strain the chicken from the cooking sauce, SAVE the sauce.
        Preheat the oven to 350. Toast the tortillas on a cookie sheet for 4 minutes. 
        Toss the cooled strained chicken, cilantro and cheeses together (** leave 1-2 ounces of monterey jack cheese for the top). Spread some of the sauce in a glass baking dish. Assemble the tortillas by wrapping them around a generous scoop of the chicken cheese mixture. Spread the remaining sauce and cheese over the enchiladas. Cover and bake for 20 minutes.
        These are amazing served with sour cream, avocado, lime wedges, and shredded lettuce.

      Thursday, July 8, 2010

      A Realization...

      As you can see, I've struggled to find time to blog his week (but that's a whole other story...)

      I had a realization this morning and wanted to quickly share it with you. It happened as I was walking to the kitchen to let the dog out, Ryan asked me to turn on his bedroom light. Normally I would tell him to wait a second and finish what I was doing. Then I realized, how often do I do something the fist time my kids ask?

      I always want them to do what I ask, the first time. And, I don't tolerate them telling me to wait. My husband and I parent by modeling good behavior.

      I'm going to work on this! But now I must go, they've asked for five things in the two minutes it's taken me to write this...


      Friday, July 2, 2010

      Do-A-Dot Names

      Ella had a friend over this morning while Ryan was at camp. For an art project we used our liquid watercolor filled bingo bottles (both from discount school supply.)

      I printed the Do-a-Dot letters for their names from Confessions of a Homeschooler's A-Z Preschool Curriculum. I left the large pages intact for them to paint (easier for little hands, plus then they got to do the lowercase letters also).

      When the paint dried I cut the letters out and they helped me mount them onto large paper.
      This simple activity packs a lot of learning in! Stamping the dots provides great fine motor practice and hand-eye coordination. The idea that each dot gets one stamp promotes the idea of one-to-one correspondence, especially if you count while dotting! Using the bingo markers is tricky for the little ones because they have to stamp without squeezing the bottle.

      Thursday, July 1, 2010

      Tissue Box Sentence Building

      You know you're a homeschool mom when you can't part with a tissue box without making it a learning tool first!
      Ryan enjoyed this simple sentence building game. I wrote each word of several sentences on separate index cards. I used different color markers  for each sentence. We took turns drawing cards out of the box and trying to make a sentence. I tried to make it so that you could rearrange the cards to make additional sentences (then they wouldn't all be the same color). This was a great way to practice the sight words we have been learning, more in context.