Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Using Mother Goose Time Curriculum to Multi-Age Homeschool

I have this annoying thing that I do...I brag that I never ever get sick. When my hubby does his little sneezing and pathetic coughing, I smugly smile and talk about how being around students for so long gave me total immunity. Well, my words came back to bite me on Sunday. I think I have the plague. I literally can barely move from my bed. My throat feels like it's been plunged by a thousand knives. Fun times!

I've been writing about homeschooling multi-aged children and the topic is becoming increasingly interesting to me. I want to show you how I used a few Mother Goose Time activities to differentiate their learning needs based on the objectives that they're each focusing on. 

We did a simple counting game. Spin the clock and move that number of spaces. Strong B is learning about numbers so the steps of this game were sufficient enough for his learning. For Tiny B, because she is in kindergarten, I had her compare numbers...Who spun a higher number...Who spun a lower number...How many more it would take to be equal...And the bonus was that Strong B got to hear this as well. I'm noticing that he does a lot of his learning by listening to me and Tiny B!

We also did some counting with our sheep manipulatives from this month's box.


Then we read from the read loud for the month, which is always a "must do" lesson because of the passion that I hold for teaching my kiddos reading comprehension skills. 


We brought in some of Tiny B's kindergarten objectives. For example, we discussed which nursery rhymes could really happen and which are make believe. We spent quite a bit of time on this. 


I remember when I used to be sick, and I'd have to write detailed sub plans for my substitute. I was so thankful today when I recalled those days and instead of furiously trying to get plans written, I simply allowed the children to play while I laid in bed. Of course I worried that I wasn't going to be able to send Tiny B to her two days of school "caught up" but I reassured myself that it was okay...that it would be okay...and that homeschooling is just so different. 

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Really Observing (and Looking Into the Soul of) My Children

Looking at this picture of Strong B literally makes me weak in the knees. It is a feeling of love so deep that I truly can't even put it into words. Mother Goose Time has asked us bloggers to write about the topic of observation. As a mom of two bustling children, I often look like a deer caught in headlights. I'm so busy worrying about the things of life that I don't often just observe. I think all homeschooling parents and teachers should make it a priority to just sit and watch and really take in what is happening and question how our children/students are feeling.

Something that is of extreme importance in my homeschooling journey is the belief that assessment drives instruction. It was paramount in my past classrooms and it is paramount in my family room where I teach my lessons now.

But perhaps observation should drive instruction as well? 

As I homeschool more and more the public school teacher parts of me (which I still love, don't get me wrong) are moved over bit by by and the homeschooling mom bits are allowed in. And perhaps watching my children interact with the subject matter and the way in which I present it is as equally important as assessment. 

I've pulled aside the Mother Goose Time lessons that are absolute must-do's and I had forgotten about this one. With Tiny B I am working on story elements and different types of questions (literal, figurative, and off the page questions) so the MGT read-alouds are a beautiful opportunity for me to integrate Strong B's MGT lessons and Tiny B's kindergarten. 

After we  read the story we went over the facts about clearcutting and sustained forestry. I observed their emotions during this and felt their concern. (This book is an excellent way to indroduce these concepts to young children). 

We then went on to discuss the bear. 


We began an Invitation to Create which was a bear's den. This is where I just observed. 

Strong B's gears were spinning as he planned out what his den would look like. I observed how much he's grown in his scissor using skills. I thought that maybe it's time to get him stronger scissors and that maybe he'll enjoy using my "silly" scissors. 

Jack the Standard Poodle was also observing the bear den action as he equally observed the paper clippings that he will likely steal to eat later. 


I observed Tiny B's AMAZING GROWTH! She cut that hole in the bowl by herself. For a girl who spent years in occupational therapy until I pulled her out months ago (It was yet another trip out of the home that exhausted me), she is doing fantastic. Unbelievable. Although truly, it is believable because this girl knows no bounds and WILL accomplish what her heart desires. 

*I am leaving the pile of laundry in this picture. It's real life and I'm all about sharing what real life looks like. 


As I observed the complete joy and excitement that both children exhibited, I decided to extend our learning. MGT gives me so many opportunities to give them diverse experiences...and experiences that we wouldn't have had if I hadn't taken the time to observe!

When I first begin opening my heart to homeschooling, I saw a program about a homeschooled boy who chose to center his learning around his passion: skateboarding. That had stayed with me as I teach my children and any time I see a passion or interest, I try to extend it. 

So I found YouTube videos on bear dens and we watched them while the kids created their own dens. 


Tiny B wanted to use her bear manipulstives to extend her project. 


Soon the bear was resting, as the real bears do when making their den. 


The two finished products represent my observations of them loving their learning and extending it due to those observations.

And these dens are just so darn cute! 

Today was a day of observation, bears, extended learning, and just plain JOY!



Thursday, February 16, 2017

Denise Austin Program--Lifefit!: Round 3! Blog Post 8

Lifefit by Denise Austin is out! I've waited for this program for the last two months, and I'm loving what I'm seeing. 

Through my eyes, I see the new program as a way to love yourself through taking care of yourself physically as well as mentally. It's about loving ourselves as we age and being oh so thankful that we are blessed enough to be alive to age! Denise emphasizes healthy food and habits and making health a way of life...Not something you do for a few months and then stop. 

And it's because of reading her recent blog post on aging that I am able to see the beauty of this selfie that I took. At first glance, I was horrified by my new facial and neck lines. At age 40, the lines and gray hairs are coming on fast.  I purposely put this as my Facebook profile picture because I felt that it showed the true me...lines and all...even though I felt self-conscious. But after reading about her views on aging...I now smile when I see this picture.


Can I just be truthful here? I think I'm going to have to be.

The last two months have not been my fittest. I went from doing an amazing job on Round 2 of Denise Austin's program to not working out nearly as much and not watching my food intake. I wrote about it here about a month ago. But as I declared in that blog post, this is life and I know that for myself, it is impossible to workout every day and watch my intake every day for the rest of my life. My goal is to live a healthy lifestyle. We've all heard the beautiful saying that "It's progress, not perfection!" 

I've learned a lot about myself in the last few months...One of the things I learned is that fitness programs that are incredibly difficult are not for me. While I was waiting for Denise's new Lifefit program to start, I thought I'd try a program that I already had and have done before, and it felt like a serious boot camp that I did not want to be a part of. I lasted a week and I dreaded turning on the DVD! Oh, how I missed Denise's smiling face and her telling me that we are "burning the butter" and that "if I don't squeeze my butt, then no one else will!" I love this woman. 


So when I started her new Lifefit program last week, I felt like I was coming home. (Incidentally, I used the same words to describe how I felt when I met my husband 22 years ago). And that home is sweet and happy and makes me feel so darn good to be there and probably smells like fresh daisies.

Since I've lost some fitness I plan on taking it easy during the workouts just like I did in Round 1. I don't feel that I need to go back to Level 1, but I'm going to modify some of the moves for now. 

The beautiful thing is that I haven't gained much weight and I still fit into the smaller clothes that I bought at the end of my last round. Phew.

Her Lifefit program begins by making goals for ourselves and reflecting on how we will meet these goals. I'm going to spend this week filling out the goal chart. 


Denise started me off slowly by incorporating small amounts of movement into my daily activities. In this picture I'm doing a kickboxing preview. These short bursts of exercise are not nearly as intimidating as doing full videos right away. 


This week, which is week 2, started my full length daily workouts. I did my normal Level 2 but only gave about 85% so that I'm able to complete every workout (as I almost did last round!). I will increase my effort as I feel more comfortable and fit. 

At the end of "Fit, Firm, and Fabulous," it's as if Denise turned to me and said, "You did it! You are amaaaazing!" 


Then it's as if she said to me, "I LOVE the lines on your face! They are a testament to raising your special needs daughter for nearly 7 years now. And your 4 year-old boy contributed to at least a third of those lines. Be proud!" 


And then it's like she turned to me and said, "You accomplished the absolute hardest part, which is simply starting again. You have changed since you started Round 1 in September! You are not going to go back to 65 pounds ago. You are a new creation. Stretch, relax, and I'll see you tomorrow! And I'm so glad that you burned that butter. Now go and hold those kids who have given you your beautiful lines!" 


P.S. Look at one of the new shirts that she has in her shop. LOVE. 


Please follow my journey over the next 9 weeks. I will reveal my goals and I'll be honest. I'll continue to change my brain and my thoughts. That is where the real health happens. 

Burn that Butter and then hop over to the past blog posts I've written on my first two rounds with Denise!

I have been compensated for writing these posts, but I absolutely promise that my feelings are completely honest. 

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Mother Goose Time Manipulatives Giveaway!

Recently I've had a huge revelation that in order to effectively homeschool Tiny B, I need to fill Strong B's cup first. I wrote a post about that here and here.

A giant way in which I fill his cup is to do our Mother Goose Time lessons first, before starting on Tiny B's kindergarten lessons. After I've done this, I take out our now gigantic box of Mother Goose Time Manipulatives that I've collected over the last year and half, and allow Strong B to play play play with these beautiful learning tools. He counts them and makes patterns with them and combines them and builds with them.


The one set of manipulatives that I thank God for every day is the cubes that connect. I have used them to teach Tiny B nearly every math lesson. Patterning, addition, subtraction, greater than/less than/equal to, etc...Manipulatives are absolutely necessary when it comes to teaching math. There is simply no substitute for a concrete item that you can hold in your hand. When I taught 3rd grade I made it an absolute necessity to use manipulatives for as many lessons as possible. And if 3rd graders needed this...then you bet that preschoolers need this. Most learners at this age need to see and feel actual physical items in order to internalize the objective that is being taught.

I wanted to thank you for reading my blog by doing my first giveaway!

And to get you excited, I wanted to show you some of these beautiful manipulatives in action!

Just recently, we made bear dens and Tiny B found a bear manipulative to put in her den. (See those cubes behind her den? Those are on the table because we literally use them every day!)                                

Strong B loves making patterns with his shape manipulatives.

More shape manipulatives. These ones were see-through.

All of these pictures were all on my blog previously. They go back a year ago and they all take my breath away as I'm reminded how time goes by so fast. What is it the popular saying...? "With children, the days are long but the years are short..." 

Those are school buses. I don't remember what the lesson was. Look at that flower in her sweet hair. I don't even remember where that flower is now.

Last year as we focused on Tiny B's fine motor skills so much, we would often trace letters with our fingers. I believe this was some type of germ? Look at those fruit and veggie manipulatives above it. Those are my second favorite simply because of the cuteness.

This horse might have been from our cowboy and cowgirl theme. I don't remember exactly but I do know that there is no doubt that this horse had many adventures on beautiful ranches created by Strong B and Tiny B.

The person chosen will win some Mother Goose Time manipulatives! I don't know what it will be exactly, but I bet that you'll love it. 

All that you have to do is comment on my blog. You can comment once per day from 2/13/17-2/20/17. Prizes will be fulfilled by Mother Goose Time and may vary from those pictured. Must be 18 years or older to enter to win, and a resident of the USA. Void where prohibited by law. Winning entry will be checked to verify completion. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to notification of winning. Failure to respond will be considered forfeiture of the prize and a new winner will be drawn.

In your comment, please enter what you love about children. If you enter once per day, tell me a different thing that you love about children each time you comment!