Friday, July 31, 2009

The Preschool Activity List

I updated my preschool (and now Kindergarten) list of activities. These are the educational activities that I provide for Leah and Sam to do each school day. I start at the top of the list (which is posted on the wall in supply closet), pull out 4 activities, and place them on the floor or on the little table. Leah and Sam will play with these activities during our school day. I cross out each item as I use it. When I get to the bottom of the list, I print out another copy, tack it to the wall, and start over. As I reminded my readers last year, I did not acquire all of these activities recently! I have slowly collected these items over the last 11 years or so. Each summer I purchase 3 or 4 new things, and the children sometimes receive items on this list for birthday and Christmas gifts.

The List:

fun noodles
Lauri puzzles (I have several of these, I will put out 3 or 4)
cut lines on paper
tong pick-up
letter magnets
dress the bear puzzle
geo blocks
wooden bead sequencing
counting bears
pattern blocks
nuts and bolts
Mr. Potato Head
popsicle sticks/glue
foam blocks
24 piece puzzle (I have a few of these too)
wooden beads
stacking pegs
beads and pipe cleaners
flower arranging
watercolor painting
sponge, water, bowls
ABC floor puzzle
lacing cards
plastic buttons
Cuisenaire rods
new pattern blocks
pom poms/clothespins
ring builders
woodkin dolls
dry erase board
fit a space
garden beads
magnet boards
play doh
painting at easel
water dropper/bowls
preschool puzzles
Leap Pad
number peg puzzle
sequence cards
soft beads
Mighty Mind pattern blocks
see and spell
Little People
form fitters
go together cards
large farm puzzle
lace and link letters
count the farm puzzle

If you have a question about any of these activities, just leave a comment!
Happy Schooling!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

School Prep Update

Align LeftI have finished every item from my Panic List except preparing for the back to school treasure hunt, and preparing Clay's spelling. I also completed several more items that I didn't even think of when I typed the Panic I think we are on track to start school Aug. 3rd! Tomorrow will be our Pre-School day. On this day I will sit with each child individually and review his school plan for the year. I will explain the set -up of his binder, thumb through any new books, and explain to him my expectations for him for the school year. We also will have a special breakfast, back to school photographs, and the back to school treasure hunt. On Monday, we will be ready to dive into school, bright and early!

This year Leah will alternate working with me (math, phonics, and Sonlight read aloud time) and playing in the schoolroom with educational activities. I plan to have 3 different sessions with Clay (one for general schoolwork help and checking his work, one for IEW, and one for history read alouds). Thankfully, Olivia and Julie will complete almost all of their work independently. I will address their needs between my sessions with Leah and Clay. Sam will begin his day with Leah and me, reading books, singing songs, and playing a simple game each day (Bingo, Candyland, Memory, etc.), and then he will alternate playing with our rotation of educational activites in the schoolroom and playing with Leah, Clay or Julie.
I listed our upcoming school year's curriculum in the right side bar. Feel free to ask me any questions about what we are using.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

School Prep 7

I am planning to begin our new school year August 3, but I may have to move it to August 10, depending on how much I get done this week.
Here's what's left on my "To Do List"
1. Pick up 8 workbooks that I had spiral bound at Staples.
2. Make copies for Clay's IEW
3. Check science supply kits that I ordered for missing items (things that are not included, but that we will still need) and prepare the 3 science kits. I haven't even begun collecting the items for Biology.
4. Clean schoolroom and school bathroom.
5. Put up Medieval Times wall decor and timeline.
6. Sort history books by time period (Dark Ages and Middle Ages) and by grade level (some are for Julie, some are for Clay, and some are for our family read aloud.)
7. Make a schedule for the school year.
8. Install all three Teaching Textbooks maths, Mississippi History, various computer literacy programs, and Building Thinking skills on three different computers.
9. Make a new preschool activity list for Sam and Leah.
10. Upload Clay's spelling words on his iPod (Excellence in Spelling sold by IEW).
11. Locate various books (in our house) that Leah will need for her Sonlight kindergarten curriculum.
12. Prepare clues for our Back to School Scavenger Hunt.
13. Wrap the little gifts for the scavenger hunt.
This list does not include the 2/3 of the items on my Summer List that I never got to. Where has the time gone this summer???
So, if you are homeschooling and are not quite ready for the new school year either, please join me and don't panic!!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Clay's New Chore

A couple of weeks ago Clay began mowing the grass around our house. This is a big help to Jimmy, and Clay does a super job!

Clay in action!
Leah and Sam want to mow too!

Friday, July 24, 2009

A Visit With My Family

Last weekend the children and I drove over 300 miles in one day! First we attended my daddy's Family Reunion, and then we traveled to my parents' house to visit for a few days. At the reunion, I saw cousins and other relatives that I have not seen in many, many years. Some of the people had not seen me since I was a little girl, and they all thought that looking at Leah was like looking at me all those years ago!
Leah and Pops (my daddy)

Sam and Clay playing at the reunion

Karen, Ray, and me. These are my only first cousins on my daddy's side of the family. I had not seen them in over 13 years!

My parents are on either side of Olivia, and that's my Momo (my daddy's mother) in the front center.

Momo and Pops

During the visit to my parents' house, the children enjoyed another mini vacation. They had no chores, and they crocheted, watched TV, and generally did nothing but play for 3 days. I took this opportunity to work on my school preparations. I took my paper cutter, laminator and 2 crates of school supplies! Happily, I accomplished a lot! We ran each night at the local track, and one morning my mother kept all of the children while I did a 10 mile run. It was nice not to have to run 10 miles on the treadmill or on a 1/2 mile track.

Leah, Clay, and Sam enjoying a bednight (bedtime---one of my children started calling it a "bednight" snack a while back!) snack of ice cream

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

School Prep 6

Creating the Binders

I only have a couple of pictures....but I am going to list step-by-step directions for how I put together my children's school binders for this year. The final products are a compilation of ideas from my sister-in-law Megan, Managers of Their Schools by Teri Maxwell, and my own brain!

I decided to buy one 1.5 inch binder for each of my children to use. In past years, they have had multiple smaller binders, one for each subject that needed a binder (not all subjects need a binder).

The finished binders

Supplies needed to create school binders:

1. 1.5 inch (or bigger if you think you need more room) binder per child

2. tabbed dividers (one per subject). I bought Avery brand plastic dividers for durability. I printed out the labels on the computer and then slipped them into the tabs. Hopefully, these plastic tabbed dividers will last for many school years. Some of my subject labels include: science, IEW (our writing curriculum), history, computer literacy, home economics, geography, etc. I tried to use generic labels---science instead of biology--so I could reuse the tabs in future years.

3. construction paper--for making dividers within the tabbed dividers. I cut the construction paper to 8.5 x 11 with my paper cutter. Then I make a label on the computer (Avery shipping labels, I think they are 2 x 4 in.), stick it on the construction paper, and then laminate the paper. I 3-hole punch the laminated divider, and then place it in the binder.
The procedure I followed to create the school binders:

1. Cut, label, and laminate a construction sheet for the cover of the binder. Mine say the student's name, grade and year.

2. Create the tabbed divider labels. See #2 above.

3. Create the laminated construction paper sub-dividers. See #3 above. For example: within the Science tabbed section, I made laminated dividers with these headings--Vocabulary Words, On Your Own, Experiments, and Study Guide. These are the sections that Julie and Olivia needed for Apologia science. I also included loose paper behind each divider. Clay is doing IEW SWI level A, so I made laminated dividers for his IEW section labeled: Sources, Outlines, Compositions, and Stylistic Techniques and Banned Words. Some subjects do not require any laminated dividers.

4. Type the daily lesson plans for each subject. I try to complete plans for the entire year. See my School Prep 5 post for details about how I plan for the year. The student will cross off each item as they complete it. I place each subject's detailed daily lesson plans right behind its subject's tabbed divider. For some subjects, the lesson plan is all that is included in that subject's section.

5. The first tabbed divider for each child's binder is Daily Plans. This is where I place the overall plan/checklist for each day. I fit 4 weeks per page. I create this checklist using a table, and I include the weekly dates and the days of the week at the top. The side of the table lists each subject. This checklist does not list the details of what the student is to complete for each subject, (this is found behind each subject's tab) but it is a general checklist for the child to make sure he completes each subject each day. Some of our subjects are worked on the computer, and they do not have a tabbed divider in the notebook.

6. Finally, I add a zippered pouch to store pencils and other necessary items, and other useful laminated pages......maps, multiplication tables, lists of prepositions, literary terms etc.

The front of a binder

I know that this post is hard to read......I have spent several minutes working on the spacing between items, but blogger is not cooperating!!

I also created Test Binders for each child. These have the same cover pages, and I also made labels for the spines since these binders will be stored on a shelf instead of in each child's work bucket.

The test binders have only two tabbed dividers: Tests to be Taken, and Completed Tests. Behind each tabbed divider I made a laminated divider for each subject that has tests. I then placed each subject's tests behind the appropriate laminated divider. As the children take the tests, I will move the graded tests to the Completed Tests section of the binder, behind the appropriate laminated divider. At the end of the year, I will have all of the year's test in one location. I plan to take the children's completed writing assignments for the year out of their school binder and place the writing in the test binder at the end of the year before storing the binder.
Visit We Are That Family for more tips and ideas.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Design A Wish 5K

Very early Saturday morning we left for the Design A Wish 5K in Memphis. The weather was pleasantly cool, unusual for July. Jimmy graciously pushed Leah and Sam in the stroller, and he set the pace for me. I wanted to try to finish the race in less than 25 minutes (really an unrealistic goal!), so Jimmy ran beside or slightly ahead of me (when I got tired!) running an 8 minute/mile pace the entire race. In spite of the nice weather and an awesome pacer, I fell slightly short of my goal----I finished in 25:06. I was disappointed for a few seconds, but quickly reminded myself that ran my absolute best! I was on the verge of an asthma attack and getting sick the last 1/2 mile! I really appreciated Jimmy for pacing me! I would have never run that well without Jimmy! Thanks honey!

Jimmy and Me after the race--as soon as we finished, Jimmy ran the race course again--this time faster than we did the first time!
At the awards ceremony, Jimmy won 2nd place, Olivia won 2nd place, Julie won 1st place, and Clay won 2nd place!! Yay Family! No, even though I ran my personal best, I did not win a medal!! In my age group the winners all ran 22-23 minutes!
Leah enjoying a post race donut--she was tired after being pushed so fast!
Clay enjoying his post race donut!
Olivia crocheting after the race
Julie and Leah
After the awards ceremony, we quickly toured the Pink Palace. The race was held at the Pink Palace, and our family membership that we purchased last year at this race had not expired yet, so we enjoyed another visit.
Lynn and Kelly and their family were in Memphis too--Lynn and the children had just picked up Kelly from the airport. They called us, and we arranged to meet them at the Rendevouz for lunch. Yummy!

Avery, Leah, Sam, and Jared enjoying their very messy ribs!

Everyone's face looked almost as bad as Sam's!

Olivia and Julie enjoying their ribs

Next we all walked over to the Peabody Hotel to look around and see the ducks.

All of the children on the steps at the hotel

Our family on the roof of the hotel

All of the children in the lobby area. Jimmy says that he remembers these same dogs when he was a child.
We had a fun day--both running the race and spending time with the Mims Family.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Flower Girl

Last Saturday Leah was the flower girl in a dear friend's wedding. The bride formerly babysat for me for a couple of years (once or twice a week), and she still occasionally helps me with Leah and Sam at local races. Her parents have been good friends of ours for many years, and now we have gotten to know her new husband too.

Being the flower girl absolutely thrilled Leah. She took her job very seriously! She practiced dropping rose petals on the floor and then picked them back up numerous times before the ceremony! But meeting the ring bearer proved to be the most fun of all! Jackson and Leah hit if off almost immediately! They are the same age, and they spent most of their time together during the rehearsal, the rehearsal dinner, before the wedding, and at the reception talking, giggling, and acting silly.
Jackson and Leah at the rehearsal dinner
Leah and Jackson sporting their new hats given to them from the bride and groom. Hers says "Flower Girl" and his says "Ring Bearer".

This is how they looked most of the evening!

Saturday morning, Leah and I were told to arrive at the wedding place at 11:45. dressed and ready for pictures. I packed Leah's pretty flower girl dress and shoes in the car and laid out a play dress and sandals for her to wear on the way. I instructed her to get dressed and just wait while I showered and got myself ready. I entered the den around 11:20, at just the exact time I needed to usher Leah into the car so that we would arrive on time.......I couldn't find Leah anywhere! I called and called her. No response. I saw her dress and sandals still lying on the couch where I had placed them. Where was Leah? It was time to go! I did not want to be late!
I found Leah-----IN THE SWIMMING POOL! Soaking wet! I panicked! We needed to leave immediately, and here was Leah leisurely playing in the pool! I calmly instructed (YELLED at) her to please come inside and get dressed for the wedding! I could not believe how late we were going to be, and I was so sorry to be doing this to the bride! I quickly blew dry Leah's hair, dressed her, and left! I texted the bride telling her what had happened.....As we were driving across town, I happened to look at the instruction sheet the bride had given us the night before. It had the picture schedule listed. Yes, Leah was supposed to be dressed and ready at 11:45, but her actual pictures were not scheduled until 12:30!!!! Hooray! The bride knew that some people would be running late so she assigned us an early arrival time! We wheeled in at 12:00, and I had Leah dressed and pretty by 12:05! Whew!

Don't they look precious?

They both did a fabulous job! The wedding was beautiful!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new." 2 Corinthians 5:17
Sweet, precious Julie became a Christian yesterday! She made the decision to commit the rest of her life to the Lord, and she was baptized by a dear friend of ours last night. Rejoice!
While I spend most of my time blogging about our family and the fun we have, the places we visit, our running, homeschooling, and homemaking, all of those things pale in comparison to eternity. The most important goal I have for my 5 children is that they all become Christians, and then live their lives in service and obedience to the Lord. That is the big picture! If we miss heaven, we have missed it all!
"...knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of the Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot." 1 Peter 1:18,19

Homeschooling With Toddlers

Homeschooling with it even possible??

I recently had an email from a friend asking me for suggestions for how to keep her toddler occupied during their schooltime. Here is my response:

1-3yo.... When mine were that age, I just kept them on my hip! :) Also, I planned our school day where each older child had a 30 minute block of playing with the baby. Each child played with the baby in a different location (Clay--outside; Julie--in the child's room; Olivia--in the playroom or den). Then for each location, I typed a list of what they could play each day. Outside--M-chalk; T-balls, etc. Child's room--M-play kitchen; T--baby dolls, W-legos, etc. Playroom--M-lincoln logs; T-wooden train; W--balls; etc. You get the idea. Now, I did not REQUIRE that they do the scheduled activity, but it gave them an idea of what to do if they couldn't think of something better. The suggested activities were typed and taped inside the closet of each room. When about 5 minutes were left, I would instruct them to clean up whatever they played with. They were also taught not to destroy the room, but to play with one or two things at a time, and clean up the activity before moving to the next one. I alternated sibling playtime with time in the room with me, either with no scheduled activities (I could just hold them or supervise them playing with the toy basket or book basket in our schoolroom), snack time, or playtime with specific toys stored in the schoolroom (like Little People sets, stacking blocks, anything developmentally appropriate.)

Small children (well, really children of all ages) appreciate order and routine to their day. The predictability of playing with siblings and being with Mama, in the same order each day allowed the toddler to happily participate in our day.

This has always worked for me and my homeschool!
Please visit We Are That Family for more tips and ideas.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

More of Julie's Birthday

Julie posing with her presents!

Leah and Sam helped her open the presents.

Sam gave Julie a set of monogrammed stationery, address labels, and stickers.

The birthday girl with 12 candles on her cake! Julie requested a "dirt cake". We also enjoyed homemade ice cream.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Happy Birthday Julie!

Happy Birthday Julie!

Today is Julie's 12th birthday. We began the day with the birthday girl opening her presents, followed by a special birthday breakfast. After attending our church services, we enjoyed a delicious lunch at Kyoto's! Yummy!

The Breakfast Table

Please visit Julie's Blog and wish her a very Happy Birthday!

We are having cake and ice cream later this afternoon, and tonight I will post more pictures of the fun day!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

School Prep 5

Wow! We are starting school 3 weeks from Monday! I am not ready yet!!


That is what I have been doing, and what I will be doing for the next couple of weeks. No matter what type of homeschool curriculum you are using (unit study, literature-based, textbook, etc.), you have to make a master plan for the year. This is the procedure I follow when making my plan:
1. Choose our starting and ending dates for each semester. We school 17 weeks each semester. We also take a 1 week break in both semesters. Previously we have taken all of December off, but this year we are not dismissing for Christmas break until December 11th. We will resume school on January 11th.

2. Calculate the number of days that we will have school. 17 x 5 = 85 each semester. Then I look at each subject and see how many pages/lessons/activities need to be completed for the semester. Next I divide the pages/lessons/activities by the number of school days (85) then I know how much work to assign to each day. Subjects like math are easy.....basically we do one lesson a day. If our math curriculum is shorter than 170 lessons (for the year)---like Teaching Textbooks, the child just finishes his math work early. If the curriculum is longer than 170 lessons a year, the child just doesn't finish the book....usually he has about 10 lessons left, and that is just fine!
If we are doing a unit study that lists activities to be completed, I just assign 2-4 activities a day based on my math equation described above. For assigned reading, I just assign the chapters or pages that need to be read each day. For some of Olivia's high school courses, I figured how many pages she needed to cover each day in the textbook. On the days that she had a test, I did not assign any additional reading.

3. I type up each day's assignments. My goal is to have every subject for each child typed up before we start school, but I may only complete 1st semester if I run out of time. Each child will have daily assignments for each subject typed on a separate piece of paper. They will mark off each item as they complete it. I do not date these assignment pages because (1) they may get off track because of sickness, travel, or whatever, and then have to play catch up and also (2) I can use the same checklist for subsequent children if it is not dated. I just label it Week 1; Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5; Week 2.....

4. The daily subject assignments are then placed in the front section of each child's 3 ring binder.

My next school prep post will explain how I set up my children's school binders.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Atlanta Peachtree 10K

We left Warren and Holly's house at 5:30 A.M. We drove a short distance to the MARTA station, and then we joined several thousand more people and rode the MARTA train to downtown Atlanta. At 6:00 in the morning on July the 4th, all of the MARTA passengers were runners like us! This was Olivia's, Julie's and Clay's first time to ride public transportation. We were all still a little bit sleepy, but it was still exciting!
Julie, Olivia, Jimmy, and Clay at the MARTA station
Me and Jimmy riding the MARTA train
When we arrived at the downtown station, we joined even more runners and walked a few blocks to the starting line area. As we approached the starting area, we saw the beginning of the wheelchair race. How humbling and inspiring to see these made me very grateful for my health!
The Peachtree 10K is the largest 10K race in the United States. This year over 50,000 runners participated! With this size race, everyone does not begin running at the same time. The elite runners start at exactly 7:30, followed by 11 more corrals of runners. To be included in groups 1A or 1B, you were required to submit proof that you had previously run a 10K in under 55:00. Jimmy, Olivia, and Julie all had race times that qualified, so they were put in group 1B. Their starting time was 7:37. Clay actually has run a 10K under 55:00, but I either I did not turn in his time because I felt like it was safer for him to run with me, or he was put in a slower group because of his age......I really can't remember.....registration was back in March! Anyway, the rest of the runners are randomly assigned to groups 2-9. Clay and I were both assigned to group 7. Runners receive their race numbers and electronic timing chips in the mail a few weeks before the race. Each race number was color coded, so you had to stay in the correct corral. The 70,000 #s (group 7) numbers were pink! I was delighted to wear a pink number. I am not sure if Clay was as pleased!
Julie and Olivia at the starting line
Clay and I told Jimmy, Olivia, and Julie goodbye, and then walked several blocks to our corral. When we arrived, we joined the other people in group 7 and sat down in the road.....and waited....and waited.....and waited! Water and coffee were provided to the waiting runners. Around 8:20 we were directed to slowly move toward the starting line. By 8:35, we were there! The announcer gave us the command, and we were off! But it was a S-L-O-W start! We were trapped in between slow runners and many, many walkers.....I looked down at my watch and saw that we were jogging at a 14:40 minute/mile pace. Clay and I had set a goal of finishing in under one hour, and I knew that if we kept this pace, we would never meet that goal! I was disappointed! Gradually, holes in the crowd appeared, and Clay and I weaved in and out of the crowd, dodging runners/walkers, and slowly but surely we were able to pick up the pace. I felt a ray of hope! Maybe we could meet our goal.
The run was overall a pleasant one, and Clay remarked several times that this was his favorite 10K. I agreed. It was a lot of fun running down the streets of downtown Atlanta, and down the street was literally what we did! The first 3 miles of the course were downhill! We quickly made up for our lost time during the first quarter mile of the race. Then we encountered Cardiac Hill, which we had been warned about! Thankfully, Cardiac Hill proved to be relatively minor! These people apparently haven't run the Bodock 5K! Now that race has a cardiac hill!
Each mile of the race offered a water sprinkler which Clay and I both gladly ran through. There was also plenty of water stations (both for drinking and pouring over our heads), and strangely enough--snacks! Pizza, watermelon, and do-nuts! Who could eat while running a 10K?
Around mile 5.5, I grew extremely weary of weaving in and out of all of those runners. I quickly became claustrophobic. I was ready to get away from the massive crowd! Then, we saw the finish line! It was a downhill sprint to the finish---as much as a sprint as we could do with thousands of people running shoulder to shoulder!
We did it! My time was 59:06, and Clay's was 59:07!!!
We walked with the masses through the water bottle line and then to the t-shirt line. This is one race where you are not given your t-shirt just for registering. You must earn it by crossing the finish line. Clay and I picked up our shirts and then searched for Jimmy, Olivia, and Julie, who by the way finished with fantastic times!! Jimmy--45:57; Olivia--50:58; and Julie--46:00. We quickly found them, enjoyed some post-race refreshments, and then walked a LONG way to the MARTA train station.
Olivia and Julie after the race
Look at all of those water bottles on the tables!

Olivia, Jimmy, and Julie after the race

Clay, Julie, Me, and Olivia after the race

Jimmy and I waiting for the MARTA.

Clay, Me, Julie, Olivia
See the MARTA train in the background!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Visiting With Warren and Holly

When I signed our family up to run the Peachtree 10K, my first hurdle was child care for Leah and Sam. When I run local races either my parents or a dear friend from our church family (whose husband runs too) watch Leah and Sam while I run. When we travel to Memphis, I usually push them in the stroller. However, running a race 5.5 hours from home presented a child care challenge!

So, what did I do??? We invited ourselves to Jimmy's cousin's house for the weekend! Warren, his sweet wife Holly, and their 3 year old twins graciously agreed to host us and take care of Leah and Sam while we ran! What a wonderful family! How brave to open your home to 7 people for 2 nights! I am so grateful to Warren and Holly for their hospitality and generosity!

We arrived at Warren and Holly's just before suppertime Friday night. We enjoyed supper together, and the children had a great time playing both inside and outside.

Sam and Warren

Warren providing entertainment

Warren is an accomplished pianist and singer. He thrilled the children with his playing and singing! They begged for more!

After the race on Saturday we napped, then we rode over to Holly's brother's house where the children swam, Holly and I visited and supervised, and Warren and Jimmy fished on a boat in the lake.
Holly and Me watching the kids swim

Next, we ended our 4th of July celebration by taking a picnic into town and watching the spectacular fireworks display.

Clay at the picnic

Sunday morning, we attended Bible classes and worship service with Warren and Holly. We enjoyed their church family so much! After a quick lunch we packed up, cleaned up, and headed home!

What a great weekend!