Friday, January 30, 2015

I'm Back! ... in the Classroom that is!

I'm back!  I have had such a great time teaching preschool for the last 4 years.  It has been a wonderful experience and a fantastic time of growth for me.  I have a new understanding of starting a project (opening a preschool) and running with ideas to build the best possible experience from the ground up.  I REALLY enjoyed the freedom that came with doing a project like this by myself. I was able to create things that otherwise may not have happened under the direction of someone else and on someone else's dime.  I've also grown in the understanding of child development and the importance and best practices for laying the foundational building blocks of literacy, in both math and reading. 
Today I am back.  Back in the classroom, hanging out with Kindergartners and you couldn't wipe the smile off my face for anything.  The classroom is where I belong and the new and exciting possibilities for the future make it clear that my life is blessed.  And although the traffic is a bear, the day will be great.  Even with its challenges. 
Happy Learning!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Pirates Book Club

Today was the last day of the indoor sandbox.  Phew!  We certainly used it to its full potential though. Every 6 weeks our homeschool group LEARN has a book club.  We decided in August that we would read the first 6 books in the Magic Tree House series and have book club based on that theme.  Our theme was pirates today and the sandbox made for a fantastic opportunity to dig for treasure while listening to presentations. It's a fantastic opportunity for kids to create a book report in any style that works for them and then share it with the group.  We're getting art, writing and public speaking into a memorable activity every 6 weeks.  I was most impressed with Miss Katrina, who ran this book club.  Her ideas and materials were impressive!  We had personalized pirate hats, treasure in the sandbox, coloring pages, spyglasses, and I'm sure I'm forgetting other things.  Great work creates memorable opportunities! 

A Love and Logic Roller Skating Experience

Picture this: each morning you get up to the regular routine.  You make sure the kids have a good breakfast, you attempt to get school work completed and you try to get out the door in time to go to a scheduled event.  All the while you are nagging, stressing, doing things for your children that you shouldn't have to (like dress them) and overall it's a really stressful experience.  Sound familiar? This is the story of my mornings.  Every morning.  Until today.  

Today was a Love and Logic training day.  I was set up and prepared.  I woke as usual and let both boys know that my car would be leaving with the children that were ready and had completed their school work at 9:45.  Any child that wasn't ready should consider how they will pay the babysitter to watch them while I was at skating lessons. 

Then the hard part began.  We went through the morning with me requesting things only once.  I did slip up and ask them to start considering how they would pay the babysitter.  I'd like to cut those reminders out of my vocabulary next week.  I didn't nag.  I had to force myself to breathe deeply and accept that each child will make their own choices this morning and regardless of the choice we will all learn and be happy in the end.  At 9:30, 15 minutes prior to departure the doorbell rang.  Our babysitter entered and sat at the kitchen table.  At this point in the morning I was still uncertain about if any or all children would be staying with the sitter while I enjoyed my morning at skating lessons.  I finished getting ready and amazingly so did the boys.  It was recommended to them that the car was then leaving in 5 minutes and if they didn't want to miss their opportunity that they go ahead and get their seat belts on right away.  I paid the babysitter for the full 2 hours that she could have been at my home and then went to skating with a light and happy heart.  The key for me was to have it planned and arranged that I would pay the babysitter for the 2 hours regardless of if she stayed with my children or if she went home after 15 minutes.  That way I was happy about the outcome regardless of how the cards fell.
What happened at skating was amazing.  The first thing out of EMan's mouth when I first told him we were going skating today was that he does not like skating and will not be joining us.  As the morning unfolded and he decided that he would in fact be joining us he joined the skating group happily.  You see, it was his choice.  And best of all?  Both boys actually skated today!  Rather than spending the majority of the lesson on their hind ends or dragging down a teacher they were skating.  Skating.  Not even "very carefully walking" on skates.  Skating.  

That, my friends, was an enjoyable morning for all.  I'd call it a Love and Logic Training Session win.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Opportunity Taken!

Every Wednesday morning, CJ and I work on his homeschool work until it's time for preschool to start.  Once preschool starts CJ works independently on assignments not finished or is free to play (he generally chooses Minecraft) until preschool is over. Today I had planned to read the first Magic Tree House Book "Dinosaurs Before Dark" to the preschoolers while they were playing with dinosaurs in the sandbox.  I thought it would make a great opportunity for CJ to practice his read aloud on a text that is just above his reading level.  He has heard the book about a million times though and did a great job reading it.  He ended up reading 2 of the 10 chapters to the class, at quite a remarkable level of fluency.  I'm so proud of him for starting us off so well! 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Trees Remain a Passion

It was a lovely 70* day that deserved a walk to the park, where we spotted our favorite climbing trees.  Yay!  I think climbing trees simply doesn't happen enough in the lives of children today.  I wrote a whole post about it just short of a year ago.  Find out why we climb trees here: 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Flipped Classrooms and Flipped Learning

I'm really excited to be able to go to a few educator conferences in the next month.  Today I was reading about the difference between a flipped classroom and flipped learning.  I wonder if I can apply this to more of our homeschooling lessons...

Friday, January 16, 2015

Denver Stock Show

Even though I've lived here now for almost 10 years, I've never made it to the Stock Show.  All those crowds make my crazy introvert self freak out.  We decided we'd go this year with our homeschooling group on a field trip and I'm so happy we did.  We went to the Pro Rodeo and had a blast!  EMan was a little worried about the fireworks but ended up loving it.  Maybe next year we'll visit the petting zoo and explore a little more...

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Roller Skating

I remember when I was a teenager and roller skating was the cool thing to do.  Was that the same for you as well?  For the 2013-2014 school year CJ went to a roller skating class once a week (most weeks).  He progressed from not wanting to put on skates to skating around on the carpet in about 3 months time.  He eventually would try to skate on the rink but was quite nervous by it.  So we took a break for about a year and now we're trying again.  Today was the first day we got to go and, as pictured, both boys (and many of their friends) spent the majority of the class on their hind ends.  It wasn't easy but I still hold onto the hope that one day their large motor skating skills will kick in.

Monday, January 12, 2015


Have you played Minecraft yet?  I have to tell you, I've never been a computer game player...until now. Even I'm enjoying playing Minecraft.  We gave the game to CJ for his 6th birthday and it has become a family favorite.  We have 2 computers and can play together, wich adds tons of fun to it.  The game is basically a sandbox of bricks representing different elements (such as dirt, stone, coal, lava, water, etc.).  You can play the game on your own level wich means EMan runs around hitting stuff (that's how you "mine" it).  CJ and I make basic houses and try and explore some more interesting adventures.  Then there is Steve.  Mr. Steve as we refer to him with our homeschool group.  He's been playing computer games his whole life and has learned *already* to make circuts and a timed harvesting system for growing sugar cane and a way to make a portal to another world.  It's crazy!  The opportunities this game presents are amazing.  In fact, I've started thinking that I should get a job teaching at my kids Options program and teach a class based completely on Minecraft.  I'm sure it would be a hit.  I guess in order to really understand it though I'll have to play it much more....

Last night Steve and I wanted to play Ticket to Ride (a fantastic board game by the way).  We determined that the kids could watch a movie while we played.  Guess what their choice of movie was?  Seriously.  It kills me that people think kids have to be forced to learn.  Just find their interests people!  Still wondering what the boys wanted to watch for their movie night? The boys asked to watch Minecraft tutorials.  Yup.  An instructional video on how to play the game better.

And they couldn't hardly get close enough to the screen.  They were practically on the piano completely absorbed in the content.  It. Was. Awesome.  They also jumped and squeeled when the man leading the tutorial got attacked by a zombie.  Oh.  There are zombies in this game.  Rock on.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Education Excitement

I'm in the midst of an intellectual growth period where I am consuming all the videos and literature about education and what the ideal educational situation may be for my children and the children I have the priledge of helping to teach.  I've watched this video a few times and each time it blows me away.  I have 7 years until CJ is Logan's age.  Is there any chance in the world he will be as articulate and have such clarity about the importance of life?  Once again, I found myself taking notes and pondering what the nitty gritty day to day should look like in order to achieve greatness.  Check out the video if you have 12 minutes to watch:

Welcome Back!

So it seems that this blog has been much neglected in the last year.  Homeschooling life is busy and I found that the last thing I wanted to do was head down to the dark basement to write about it.  It became a chore and I didn't have any clear expectations about what I was going to write about and such.  I've decided that I'll let go of any expectations and not stress so much about appealing to a certain audience.  I'll share what's going awesome in our day, I'll share what's not great.  Some posts may be 50 words and a picture.  Some posts may go on and on forever with tons of excitement about education and awesome homeschool stuff.

Here's a little food for thought for those of you interested in education.  I've watched it about a zillion times and I finally stopped to take notes and ponder about how it applies to my life and those I'm helping to educate.


Ice Skating

How much fun was that?  We had such a great time going ice skating with our friends today.  We talked about talents in preschool this week and we have a cute little sweetheart who is very talented at ice skating.  She's the one in the pink helmet.  The one who didn't need a "walker" all the time.  The one who was able to get up on her own if she fell and had the confidence and love to make it an awesome time.  I hope my boys find a confidence and love soon! 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Breakfast with They Might Be Giants

Seriously.  Have you checked out They Might Be Giants, Here Comes Science?  Music I'm happy listening too and the kids love.  Plus, they're learning from it.  This morning CJ told me that he had the "Elements" song stuck in his head and asked if I could play the music video during breakfast.  I remembered that I love the album and that I'd really like to get our homeschool group together and discuss the information in each of the songs.  A little co-op/play-date learning.  Maybe I still will someday...

Monday, January 5, 2015

Improved Writing

After completing the mid year assessment (report card) for CJ I recognized that he hasn't been doing a whole lot of writing.  I decided to make a change in our every day routine and have him write his narration of the book he read and add a picture.  It helps that EMan always wants to hear a story and I can have him do the same assignment at the same time, on his own level of course.  Today CJ read Balto and I'm so impressed with their writing.  Great job boys!