Easter Idea

Apr
2014
19

posted by on DIY Crafts

I’m mighty tired of all the candies we have accumulated.  I still have candy from Halloween in my house!  Yikes!

This year, I have decided that I would get more creative with the kids egg inserts.  No more cheap plastic-y toy that would eventually end up in the garbage, and no more crazy amount of sweets!

Here’s what I came up with:  

I created some personalized puzzles for the girls with characters I knew they’d enjoy seeing.  Just googled some pictures online and added some text to it.  On the back of each completed puzzle is part of a riddle (each puzzle numbered so they can read it in the correct order) that will lead the girls to their Easter basket filled with some goodies that is not chocolate and candy!  Ok, so one chocolate bunny got into each of their basket this year, but the rest is stuff that I knew the kids would like and it was not edible (like dress-up clothes, a doll that I found on clearance that they’ve been wanting, gift card, stuff I knew they’d hang on to for a long time)!

Each puzzle piece was put in an egg and will be hidden around the house for them to find on Easter morning. 

The beauty of this is that they will need to work together to find their Easter baskets!

Here’s what you need to make this: Blank puzzles, Sharpies, T-Shirt Transfer sheets, and a hobby knife.

You print out your images on the T-Shirt transfer sheet -make sure to mirror it so it turns out right!  Once ironed on, flip it over and write your riddle on the back with a sharpie.  (Next year I’ll make sure to add the riddle on the front -no idea why I didn’t think to add it to the front -oops!)

Then use your hobby knife to carefully go over each individual piece of puzzle so it comes apart.

Then just insert one or two pieces into a plastic egg!  Voila!  Easy peasy and a fun treasure hunt for the kids for Easter morning!

UPDATE EASTER DAY:

It was a great success!

opening their eggs

I have to admit I was kinda worried about how the oldest would take this new twist on egg inserts.  The youngest two I really didn’t think it would impact much, but for the oldest who was used to a tremendous amount of candy and chocolate and plastic cheap toys inside the eggs.. well, I was worried she’d be rather upset about the change.

My oldest actually thought it was pretty cool!  She loves treasure hunts and so really enjoyed putting the puzzles together with her sisters, flipping them over, and reading the riddles!

The best part was it was truly fun!  And the girls had to work together to find their hidden stash!  Definitely a new tradition has been born!  We’re going to do this  next year for sure!!

Hope you all had a wonderful Spring/Easter/Passover/Whatever Holiday you Celebrate this time of year!  :)

Wordless Wednesday

Apr
2014
16

posted by on Random Photos

Did you see the moon turn red?

Helpful Tools

Mar
2014
19

posted by on Schooling Resource

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately on what works and what doesn’t when it comes to homeschooling.  Sure, having some basic tools can be very helpful!  Like a microscope, library card, internet access, etc.  But what else is important to have when homeschooling?  Here are some things I’ve come up with based on my own homeschooling journey.

The biggest most helpful thing to have would be -hands down- patience!  Patience with yourself more than anything else.  There are good days and there are bad days.  There are days when everything just falls into place and you’ve managed to accomplish everything you wanted to get done.  And there are days that just don’t quite work out the way you dreamed it would.  Have patience.  Seriously, the world will not come to an end if things don’t go quite as planned.  In fact, things rarely go as planned and that, dear readers, is what I love most about  homeschooling!  Go with the flow.  Don’t worry if everything on your list didn’t get checked for that day.  Once you find your rhythm, your groove, you’ll notice things will be easier.  And to get there, you need patience. :)

Keep realistic expectations.  Sure you’d like your child to be ahead but do you really need that kind of stress of rushing to get there?  Or would you like to simply cultivate your child’s love for learning and see them blossom naturally over time?

We found ourselves quite ahead in one subject and I went with it.  Followed the pace of my child.  Now, we’ve found ourselves on a plateau in said subject because it’s getting more challenging and I find that going at her pace is making the process of learning said subject far more pleasant.  There’s no “hurry!  you need to get this done by x date!”  The whole experience of schooling this subject is more relaxed and my child is more open to learning this challenging subject.

Routine.  I’m not sure if this is for everyone, but for us routine is KEY to getting it done.  I used to tell my oldest that she could pretty much get her independent work done whatever time of the day that she wanted.  As long as it got done before bedtime I would be happy.  Well, allowing her to do it whenever ended up causing tears and frustration when she forgot to do her work and needed to complete twice the work the next day.  Now, we have a routine in place.  We get up in the morning, get our morning chores done and out of the way, grab a bite to eat, and head straight to our desk to get our assigned work done for the day.  Once it’s all done -and it’s usually done before lunch!- she is free to play and do whatever she pleases!  No more “woops! I forgot!”  No more tears, no more stress!  We have time to head out the door to co-op, to a field trip, to get together with friends for a playdate, etc.

Routine has really changed the when we do things and for the better.  Some mornings I find that she has gotten up before everyone and has completed her independent work without prompting from anyone!  She has come to realize that business before pleasure really is a good idea and a great life lesson.

If it doesn’t work -drop it!  Yes, really.  Yes, I know you spent a lot of money.  Yes, I know you are not made of money.  Nor am I!  This is why I spent hours and hours, days and days, researching curriculum before spending a penny.  And sometimes I end up absolutely loving a curriculum, ordering it for my child, and she absolutely hates it and it just isn’t working!  Arrrgh!  So yes, I too have found myself in this boat.  The frustration I feel and the frustration my child feels -well, you could hear it miles away, I’m sure!

For us, homeschooling is the opportunity to find what works and if it doesn’t find something else.  Not everyone learns the same way.  Sometimes pace must be adjusted and sometimes curriculums need to be changed.  Being given the opportunity to find the right materials for my children, is one of the biggest and best reasons that we chose to homeschool.  So I feel your pain if it comes down to this.  I really and truly do, but you will find your child will not learn if it isn’t working and all you’re doing is causing more stress (for yourself and your child!) and a growing resentment towards whichever subject you are adamant at seeing through with the wrong-fit curriculum.

On that vein, have confidence in yourself.  Confidence is key to homeschooling.  If you feel like you can’t, I bet you your child is seeing it and in turn will likely feel like s/he can’t do it either.  Believe in yourself.  If you have chosen this path for your family, then you can do it.  There is literally an ocean-full of curriculum choices, plethora of information at your fingertip via the Internet.  There is so so very much out there on every subject under the sun!  

I kid you not when I say I flunked algebra.  There, I said it.  The whole world wide web now knows.  I failed algebra.  It was the only subject I absolutely feared teaching.  Well, because, how could I possibly teach a subject I did not get!?  Well, in my case, I am re-learning it right alongside my daughter by finding an amazing company that helps teach the subject.  There are online classes, there are message boards with tons of others like you out there that could provide information, assistance, curriculum, co-ops, etc. that could help you.  Have confidence in yourself.  It is possible to homeschool even though you are not a professor in all the subjects.  You do not need to be a professor or have a PHD or anything like that!  You, yes you dear reader, a wonderful individual who wants what is best for their child, can accomplish this great and wonderful feat of educating your children.  Have confidence.  You have all the tools you need.

 

ALEKS Math Review

Mar
2014
07

posted by on Schooling Resource

I posted a review over at the SecularHomeschool.com for ALEKS math a while ago.  I thought I would post it here, too, on my blog along with an update since more time has past since I posted my initial review.

Here’s the review:

Member Ranking – Extremely Positive 

We’ve been using it for two years now (Grade level 3 and 4 with QuickTables) and will be continuing on to Grade level 5 in a few short weeks.

This is an amazing program that has helped my daughter master her multiplication through its QuickTables.

This program can be used independently by the child but you can choose to sit with your child (as I’ve been doing!) and work with them. We sit together and choose a topic or two to do a day. We hit explain several times till I feel my child gets it, then she enters the answer all on her own the next few times till the program says she has mastered it and can move on.

What we really love about ALEKS is how all the topics in the grade are divided into a pie-chart. The child can choose what they’d like to learn that day! More pieces open in each pie when they’ve completed a prerequisite piece. It’s really fun seeing how much of the pie is complete each day as she progresses!

The program is also intuitive enough to know when to have the child take an assessement. If the child needs to relearn a topic, it simply re-opens the piece in the pie and she can re-learn it when she wants. Your child won’t move forward till s/he knows it well!

You can also assign worksheets and quizzes from the parental login and that has been a great asset to have!

We’ve had such amazing results and are really pleased with ALEKS math for our child!

PROS:

  • QuickTable mastery of Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, and Division
  • Reviews done automatically everyday on previous days topics to ensure she has retained and understood the material learned.
  • Games
  • Intuitive Assessment
  • Quizzes you can assign
  • Worksheet printables
  • Under the master login, you can view progress reports and progress reports also get emailed to you to keep you updated.

We’re actually currently doing Middle School – Grade 6 with ALEKS.   So this makes it our fourth year with ALEKS and we still absolutely love using ALEKS for math.  Although this is geared towards the child to independently learn and do the work, I opt to still sit with her.  I am, essentially, re-learning algebra!  See?  Never too old to learn!  And that is what I keep telling my kid.  I didn’t quite get it when I learned it all the first time around so here I am re-learning it.  And I am actually getting it!!  So I am indeed rather proud of myself :)

But getting back to my daughter -she is quite capable of doing this alone at this age, but I also like that we work together.  We just keep hitting “explain” until she gets it and then does all the next examples on her own till the program says she has mastered it.  This method works great for us!

I definitely plan on sticking with ALEKS for the time being and truly recommend it to both young and old (like me! ;) )  Can’t argue with results!