10 Reasons I'm Excited About Next School Year

I am joining IHomeschool's Network 10 in 10 (a 10 week series). This week's 10 in 10 is, 10 reasons I'm excited about next school year.

  1. School Supplies ~ I love school and office supplies, especially when they are on sale.
  2. Organizing the School Room ~ We don't actually have a room, which makes organizing key to a successful year. The children need to know what they are responsible for each day and a place to put supplies when they've finished.
  3. A New Curriculum ~ Last year we used a computer based curriculum and I am so excited to switch to a Unit Study this year.
  4. Field Trips ~ We are studying American History, so we are planning some great field trips. We are in a fabulous, historical area.
  5. Homeschooling Only ~ Last year I burned up the road and our wallet going to co-op and classes. Not this year.
  6. I'm Teaching ~ In the past, We have picked curriculums where the children are self-taught. This year, I can keep them on track by teaching them each day.
  7. Electives ~ I have planned more time for Art, Projects and Science Experiments, the Fun Stuff.
  8. 4 Day Week ~ I can adjust my schedule, this year, to a four day school week instead of five.
  9. Read Alouds ~ I didn't make reading to my children a priority last year, because they fell behind in their school work. I love the bond that reading brings between my children and I. 
  10. April, 2013 ~ We will be finished in April, instead of June! Hurray!
This is my Top 10 list for this week. Join me each Tuesday for my new Top 10.


7-11 Day is on Wednesday ~ Free Slurpees

7-Eleven is offering free 7.11-oz slurpees on July 11, 2012 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. We went in May for the special, so I guess we will just have to go back to our friendly, neighborhood 7-11 again. We love this treat!

Dress Like A Cow and Get Free Chick-fil-A

On July 13, 2012, if you stop by Chick-fil-A dressed like a cow, you’ll get a free meal at Chick-fil-A.
If you’re too chicken to dress from head-to-toe like a cow, you can wear anything cow-related and you’ll get a free entree.
There are a bunch of pictures posted here from readers who dressed up like cows if you need ideas or inspiration for your costume. We have done it every year, but not fully dressed head to toe. I'm going to see what I can come up with this year and post pics. My older children say they are too old, but we'll see ; )

Thing To Do # 12 ~ Flip His Own Pancake

If you're going to learn to flip pancakes, all by yourself, your Mom might as well make it special ; ) I used a normal, just add water mix and added a little extra water to make it runnier. I just freehanded the pouring from a bowl, but I have seen people use recycled ketchup bottles or other bottles to squirt the ABC's
I stood him on his stool, next to the griddle, and told him to wait for the bubbles. It didn't take long and they were ready to flip. He slid the spatula all the way under his letter "K", to make sure all the edges were loose and FLIP. My little man is learning how to cook. When he was finished, he added maple syrup and some blueberries to the pancakes and Enjoyed.


Blueberry Picking

I love this season, all the fresh fruits and vegetables. Blueberries, Blackberries and Cherries are in season. We are pulling up beans, squash and cucumbers everyday.

We have had a heatwave on the East Coast but we were all home this fine Sat. morn and my husband decided this would be the perfect day to go Blueberry picking. Woooh! It was 85 when we left at 9:30 and it was only going to get hotter.

We get there and everyone gets a bucket. Our motto is "Many hands make light work" so we thought we would get in and get out with tons of berries. 10 minutes later, "Mom, are we done yet" says my preschooler. "Mom, can you get me some water", "Mom, I'm really hot, can we go". We gave him water, propped him up under some shade and gave him a bucket. "Here honey, pick these berries right here around you." We weren't there for much longer but we had a great, sweaty, time and made a new memory. 


It's Hot! We need a Model!

Wow! It's Hot.
When it's hot my children don't want to go outside, so they're spending a little too much time together in close quarters. I got an email from Michaels and Hobby Lobby for their holiday coupons and now I know what I'm going to get...plastic models. My older boys got a Step 2 model that needs to be glued and painted. My preschooler gets a Step 1, they are Snap Tite, snap together. Hindsight, I should have gotten a larger model to work with, this one had smaller pieces. He had some trouble, a few lost pieces, but I didn't mind helping him finish. It will keep my older boys busy for hours. : )


Birthday on a Budget ~ The Cake

It's all about the Cake! This is an ice cream cake we bought, I have yet to try and make an ice cream cake. 
One summer, when my children were smaller, I was looking for a little hobby, something to look forward to and get me out of the house. I decided to take the Wilton Cake Decorating Course. It would save a lot of money to make the cakes, for all of my little ones, myself. I loved the 1st course, then took the 2nd, then the 3rd. I made a little business for myself, but it was very stressful with all the little fingers that could possibly go into the cake I just made for someone.

 I will show you you how to do your own transfer onto a cake, of any character, from your coloring book.

Vacation In The Outer Banks

I love a vacation. We came back well rested and had a great time. My husbands philosophy about vacationing is, Do what you can't do at home, so we spent a lot of time on the beach. We went to 2 of the 3 lighthouses and just drove by the Bodie Island lighthouse that is being renovated. Then, we took a Ferry ride to Ocracoke Island to hear the Legend of Blackbeard (my children are suckers for hearing a good, mysterious tale). Finally, we went fishing and ate some great seafood and treats.

Vacation Tips for Preschoolers: Have a bag of entertainment
                                                 A working dvd player with good movies
                                                 A video game system with fun games
                                                 A cookie sheet with magnetic letters, paper dolls or car cut-outs
                                                 Busy Bag
                                                 Crayons and Coloring pages
(Cookie Sheet Template coming soon)


Things To Do With Your Preschooler #11

This is at my parents yard (previously my yard), full of scapes

Did you ever make a grasshopper house when you were little? We had a yard full of these scapes (tall weeds with a seed head on top). Well, I got a chance to show my preschooler.

Pull about 10-15 scapes, about the same length. Bend them in thirds

Bend them until they meet in the middle and secure them by knotting one of the scapes around the top.

This is your Grasshopper House. Fan out the bottom and place it back in the field and hope a little grasshopper and his family will move in. :)


1/2 Price Shakes All Day At Sonic

Sonic is celebrating the Summer Solstice ( the longest day of the year) by giving you 1/2 price Shakes. Go and beat the heat at Sonic. Check ahead and make sure your Sonic is participating.


He is FAST!

That moment when you don't know whether to laugh or fuss. Let me back up. My JJ loves to roast marshmallows. We were making smores and let's just say there are more marshmallows being set on fire than eaten. Then, I see this duck swimming toward us and he looks like he's injured. It looks like he may have a fungus on him or maybe he was attacked by a territorial goose. As he swims closer, I start thinking of ways that I can help him. When all of a sudden, I realize he isn't hurt at all but the victim of an air assault by my 5 yr. old. Yep, he was hit by a roasted marshmallow. We decided not to fuss, but laugh as we watched the duck pick the marshmallow out of his wing. ; ) He is fine and JJ says he'll be more careful.


"Beachy" Crafts Coming Soon

Well, school is out and Summer has begun. We have started our vacation with walking, swimming, fishing and playing games. Tomorrow is crabbing and shopping. I am so excited to share with you some ways we have come up with to keep my preschooler and other kids happy and busy. I have planned some great "beachy" crafts. Have a great Summer!


Happy Father's Day


101 Things To Do With Your Preschooler

Wondering what you are going to do with your Little Ones or your Big Ones when school is out? Here is a CheckList to help you get started. Follow us as we go through this list for our "Incredible, Summer School!"

If you don't need a checklist, you can print Pg.1  Pg.2  Pg.3  Pg.4  


Preschool/Kindergarten Curriculum Review

Are you overwhelmed by the homeschool curriculum you can choose from for your preschooler? Here is a short, breakdown of some I've used or looked at:
 Abeka, love their phonics with blend ladders. This curriculum is very thorough and uses reward pictures for getting the answer right (feed a bone to a dog for each right answer)
 Sonlight, if you want to bond with your children through read aloud books. Again, very thorough and laid out with a daily plan for you to follow. Great Books!
 Five in a Row, for a literature based unit study. You read award winning books and learn about history geography and other subjects while reading.
 Saxon Phonics, they use different manipulatives to make learning to read hands on.
 My Fathers World, I haven't used this curriculum but have heard great things. It's a Charlotte Mason influenced curriculum. It has an all-in-one, classical unit study approach. Strong Biblical base, uses real books and its hands on.
 Sing, Spell, Read and Write for my 4yr. old. He started by learning his colors and shapes, then on to his numbers and ABC's. 
 Alphabet Island each letter has been created into a character and they live on alphabet island. There are stories and songs that clearly enforce the phonic rules. 
 The Phonics Road teaches you the letters and letter teams and after a few weeks are already introducing beginning readers.  
 Dollar Store Workbooks, Winnie the Pooh will help with numbers, Cookie Monster will help with shapes. I love this affordable route to introduce your preschooler to fun learning.
ABCMouse.com that goes through K. It costs $80 for the year or $7.95 a month. My son has had a lot of fun. There is a learning path and he follows it and has learned a lot. Every time you play a game or finish a path lesson, a mouse gives you tickets. My son would go to the "mall" with his tickets and buy things or pets for his virtual room.
 Starfall.com Free or pay for a wider variety of activities. You pick a letter, then follow the "stars" to go through the reader and hear the sound that letter makes and words that begin with that letter sound. 

I hope you find this helpful. Picking a curriculum can be so overwhelming. Even going to convention or talking to your homeschooling friends can still leave you feeling unsure. Every child is different with their own strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes. I have found that just by spending this time with your little ones, they are developing confidence and security in who they are and the education will come.

10 Chores Your Preschooler Can Help With

I need all the help I can get, so I start giving my little ones things to help with pretty early. They love to feel like they are big and helping. I may have to redo what they did, but it's a training process. Some jobs I like to give them are:
  1. Spraying the windows *
  2. Emptying the little trashcans
  3. Putting silverware away
  4. Holding the dust pan while I sweep
  5. Vacuuming (we have a shorter, light-weight vac)
  6. Hand Vac on the stairs
  7. Dusting with duster or spray *
  8. Picking up shoes or toys and putting them away
  9. Scrubbing toilet with toilet wand
  10. Folding Laundry (washcloths, dish towels or his own clothes)
     My little guy is 5 now, but I started getting him to help when he was 2 or 3. He wanted to help. I started him on gathering shoes.
     It's a funny story. My older children were never putting their shoes where they were supposed to go, so one day we were about to leave and my older son is looking for his shoes. JJ (about 2 at the time) walked to the table, picked up his brothers shoes and brought them to him. We were amazed! He paid attention to their shoes. He knew which shoes everyone wore and knew where they took them off. He had a shoe gift and I knew just the job to give him. :)

*Please remember to supervise your little ones, especially with spraying jobs.


Birthday on a Budget ~ Party Theme

What will the theme of your party be? With 5 children, boys and girls, we have had just about every type of theme.We have planned ahead and ordered things from Oriental Trading (you can buy summer themes on sale in the winter, if you plan ahead). I have gotten everything I need from the Dollar Store for a few parties.
    For the girls, we have had:
  •  princess parties (dress-up items at the dollar store) 
  • mystery parties (invisible ink pens and mystery solving sets at the dollar store ~ made clues to follow that lead to the goodie bags) 
  • tea parties (tea sets at yard sales and good will)
  • animal parties (stuffed animals at dollar store) 
  • horse parties (also found at dollar stores).
    For the boys, we have had:
  • cars parties (make cars out of cardboard boxes and have them wear them to race) 
  • minute to win it parties (follow the blueprints and get  few items from the dollar store ~ ping pong balls, dice, popsicle sticks, coins, candy treats for junk in the trunk game) 
  • paintball parties (for my teenager, we set up a paintball course in the woods and made sure everyone was covered and protected and had an umpire monitor the game) 
  • buzz lightyear parties (made recycled jet pack out of 2 liters and cardboard wings) 
  • treasure hunt party (made clues in Homemade Rocks around a park that lead to the goodie bags)
  • Easter egg hunt party (I had a son born on Easter morning, so he has had many Easter egg hunt birthdays, but he loves the hunt) 
  • nerf war party(I asked kids to bring their own guns, but we had plenty if they didn't have one. We bought extra bullets because most families know the bullets go where the missing socks live.
I hope you are finding this helpful. Let me know some frugal birthday theme ideas you have.

Birthdays on a Budget ~ Games People Play

Lightning McQueen Pinata
I Love Party Games! Pin the Tail on the Donkey, Pinata, Limbo, etc.
One year, I found a Christmas pinata on clearance. I bought it, sprayed it white and added a picture of a puppy, which was the theme of my daughters birthday.
   You can also make your own Pinata. You can make a paper mache figure that matches your theme, Instructions Here
   We do the same thing for Pin the Tail on the Donkey. I find a picture or draw a picture that matches our theme then, blind fold the child, give him a good spin and let him tape an item to the picture. It could be a tire for a Cars theme, a crown for a Princess theme, etc. 
   We love doing the Limbo and that's as easy as getting a broom handle and some fun music. 

Some other GAMES:
  • Sticker the birthday boy/girl (a mix between marco polo and pin the tail ~ someone blindfolded calls out "Happy" and the birthday child says "Birthday" and the blindfolded child tries to put a sticker on the child.
  • Treasure Hunt
  • Balloon Races
  • Face Painting and Balloon Animals
  • Battle at Sea (You need 2 huge boxes (divide into 2 teams), and ping pong balls or water balloons (for a water party) One team at a time and when the other team has "launched all its missiles, tally up the number that made it into the other teams ship)
  • Boomer-Whiz (hide a toy in plain sight and find it ~ Make it a toy to go along with your theme ~ The birthday child hides a toy and when it's hidden says "Boomer-Whiz" then the others find it and whomever finds it becomes the new hider
  • Relay Race ~ Race to dress-up, Shoe Pile (race to get their shoes out of a pile),
  • Charades
  • Minute to Win It Games Blueprints Here 
  • Hot Potato
  • Hula Hoop or Jump rope contest
  • Animal Safari or Seashell Hunt (use little plastic animals, dinosaurs or seashells to hide around the yard)
  • Follow the Leader
  • Red Light, Green Light
  • Fishing for Favors (set up a fishing game for the goodie bags)
  • No Lose Musical Chairs (when you take a chair away, no one sits out, but they sit on someone elses lap. The end of the game is when everyone is sitting on one chair)
Outside Games
  • Bail Out The Boat ~ Use Sponges or Cups to move water from a big bucket to a cup with a line on the top
  • Aim and Squirt ~ Use a Strong Water Gun or a hose with a nozzle to take turns squirting a beach ball across the finish line
  • Bucket or Flower Pot toss with water balls
  • Bubble Fun (from little blowers to Hula Hoop size blowers)
  • Water Balloon toss
Balloon Games
  • Balloon Bop ~ Have children hit balloon over a string and earn two points each time for a set amount of time.
  • Balloon Stomp ~ Put wrapped lollipops in the balloon before inflating, inflate and then have the children stomp on them to get the prize
  • Catch the Balloon
  • Floating Balloons (keep the balloons in the air the longest
For tons of other games and instructions, go here


Birthdays on a Budget ~ Invitations and Venue

          There are so many different ways to save on invitations and where you want to have your party.

  • You can print your own invitations with software on your computer (it's the price of ink that gets you)
  • Buy a pack or 2 at a dollar store that matches your theme
  • Handmade invitations never go out of style. Have your little one draw a picture and you write all of the important information.
  • Online Invitations ~ You can use Facebook, Evite, Punchbowl, etc. to create a really nice invitation to your event and then just sit back and count your RSVP's
  • Start looking at Groupon, Living Social or another local sites for great deals. If your child doesn't have his heart set on a specific place you could get a great deal on a fun place. (We went 1/2 price to an inflatable place in our area and had a great time!)
  • Check the restaurant or play place's website to get discounts and coupons. Most places will give you a discount if you have your party on a weekday.
  • Go to a public park. They have pavilions to use, usually first come, first serve. There will be equipment to play on and a grill to cook on. 
  • Have your party at home. I love opening up my home for a party, but it's the cleaning I need to do before they arrive and after they leave that makes me wish I had the party somewhere else ;)
This last party we had was very simple. I knew it would be after church, with family, so I texted everyone to let them know there was a party happening after lunch. Everyone texted me back, right away, to let me know if they were going to be able to come.

Keep it simple and affordable. The details are lovely, but usually overlooked by your guest of honor. They love playing with their friends, eating cake and getting a few presents. Have a Great Party!


My Preschooler Is 5 ~ Happy Birthday

At this age, my baby's best friends are his cousins. So, when his birthday fell on a Sun. I just asked if he wanted to have a party after Sun. lunch with his cousins and he said, "Yes."
                                                          *Hallelujah, save some money*
We had a wonderful lunch. My husband made a roast and some family add to it. We took the kids outside to smash the pinata, came back in and sang Happy Birthday and then he opened his presents. He had very happy day.

Preschoolers Giving Back 1

Here are the candy cups we are donating, we made over 100 with after Easter sales. Hopefully they will all sell and make some money for ACS.
  If you would like to donate to my team, you can Donate to Relay for Life


Preschoolers Giving Back

This weekend we are participating in the Relay For Life. We have been working this week on a ticket booth. Our team's tent is decorated for Easter and we are responsible for selling the tickets to the rides. So, my boys thought they needed a ticket booth. They would also like to wear bunny ears, so we'll see. Didn't think we'd be doing Easter crafts in May ;)


Happy Mothers Day


Your Childs Art On A Sandwich Box

Complete the entry form and upload your child's favorite work of art on the Rudi's Facebook Page and you'll receive a free custom sandwich box with your child's artwork on it. Like their page, press enter and fill in your information, then it will prompt you to uplaod your childs art. If you don't have a pic ready, you can print out their template, have your child draw and scan it in. I am not sure how long this offer will last, so sign-up now

Preschool Word Week ~ Phonetics or Memorization

There are 2 ways to learn to read; phonetics and memorization. This set is called the alphabet zoo and it works with memorization. This is the first book, I See Sam. It has 3 flash cards for the first book. I went over them and switched them around until JJ knew them and then read the book. He read his first book.

This is a self correcting Learning Palette. There are 12 colored circles and 12 cards. The matching items are on one side and the answers are on the other side. It will show in the middle of the card to match the little f with the red circle. You pick up the red circle and find the little f around the outside and place the red circle in the right place. When all 12 have been matched, you flip the card over and see if your colored circles match the correct colored circle. I hope I did a good job at explaining it.
Another great resource is Education.com they have a list a preschool and kindergarten sight word, flash cards. Very colorful and you know you covered all the sight words they need for their Word Wall.

Preschool Word Week ~ ABC Activity

Explode the Code ~ I love these for learning the ABC's. They have different activities to learn the ABC's sound and writing

This is part of Hooked on Phonics. Letter Flashcards. Great to quiz him on the go.

I love the dollar store. They have a whole aisle of affordable, educational resources
Another resource is Education.com they have pages and pages to print that help drive the lesson home.

Preschooler Word Week ~ ABC Trace and Erase

Repetition is key. I find as many different, fun ways to learn the same thing and really get it in his little mind. You can laminate and roll your Playdoh over the letter outline.

I also placed a clear dry erase board over the letter sheet so he could practice tracing.

Another alternative is buying the clear sheet protectors, the heavy duty works best with erasing, and placing the sheet inside. Use your dry erase pens to trace and erase.
I found these Playdoh mats at Homeschool Creations . They are free and Jolanthe does a great job with other ABC activities.