Saturday, January 15, 2011

Preschool on the cheap vol #2

People are always worried about the cost of homeschooling. There are plenty of ways to do it for bookoo bucks but there are also ways to do it for cheap or even for free. And that's without taking into account using any sort of state run program that gives you money for homeschooling expenses (although that is also an option.)
Value Village / Salvation Army / Other Thrift Shops are your Best Friend. (and think outside the box)

Ideas: make your own, thirft shops, friends, freecycle, & the dump (yes the dump!)

Once you know what to look for you can find an amazing array of educational supplies. Here is my check list when evaluating any item/toy/craft
  • Is it 'natural'? (does it have life or is shiny dead feeling plastic?)
  • Will it support my children's imagination?
  • Can it be used opened-ly? / Can it be used in multiple ways?
  • Can it be used for multiple age ranges?
  • Is it a official school item or is it a toy box item?
  • How much prep or involvement does it need from me?

Found at the dump. A totally perfect memory game set.

                                      Cloth pin gnomes made from random bits out of the craft box.

Practicing numbers. Old file folder and some random bits of felt cut into numbers to play with.

Also found at the dump! This box had a cool info book about dinosaurs, plastic glasses, a 'pick' and a wooden hammer, this cool dino plastic mat, and some cement with 3 little dinosaurs in it we 'excavated'.

Thrift shop score! this cute little info page & bird craft came in a box with a few other minor crafts and a whole list of January-ish craft activities.  The thrift store had all 12 months of these little themed craft boxes for .99 each and that day they were even a half off item!

Freecycle find. A mom was sorting out the attic after her kids were grown and gone so I got these.

Curriculum Review #1

Kumon makes a gazillion workbooks. Then I found these cute little ones for the 2+ age group. Kumon Books Can be found at Barns & Noble for about 7 bucks each.
The one pictured above was our favorite but they also have a color, fold, and cut one. These books are really very good for the price and are great at practicing fine motor control. 

Good points: 
  • great fine motor control practice. 
  • fun. 
  • start off easy and then progress to more complicated work pages.

Bad Points: 

  • Not really do-able for most 2 year olds really more for 3+
  • Repetitive. 'Color the white spot on the strawberry red' - 'Color the three white spots on the icecream cone the correct colors.' 

All in all I say that if you are going to buy one go with the sticker or cutting one and pull it out once in a while when you don't have anything, or it's a sick day. Makes you feel like a good mom to get 'something' done
If your toddler or preschooler digs it then go ahead and buy all of them. Some kids just thrive on repetition and workbooks. Mine were all into it for 1 book and then lost interest now they get pulled out every now and then and are fun for about 1 pages worth of work.

Stars: 3 / 5

Friday, January 7, 2011

A day in the life...

So sparked by the 'peek' into other homeschoolers lives via several email groups I decided to throw my 'Day in the life of a homeschooled preschooler' out there.

Plenty of things change this schedule. Normal things like sickness, holidays, or things that must be done, but generally heres the scoop.

8 - 8:30 - we wake up. I am not a morning person my boys on the other hand feel that mornings are super-de-duper. I spend anywhere from 10 -30 minutes trying uselessly to convince them it's still sleepy time and they should just go back to bed.

Get up, make breakfast, eat breakfast, pour coffee, check facebook via itouch.

9 - 930-ish I get dressed. Sometimes the boys get dressed depending on their mood. We homeschool. I totally don't care if they wear their PJs until it's bed time again.

10-ish We do 'circle time' I light a candle, sing opening verse, song, closing verse, then blow out the candle.

 - Now in a normal school this is where the kids get together in a circle, sing a couple of songs, some fingerplays, and maybe a story that relates to the weekly theme. -This is not circle time at our house. -
Asher (1yr) adores anything with music, fingerplays and cute little songs are right up his ally. Loch (almost 4) on the other had loathes circle time with a deep passion. He always has, even at story time when he was just a wee babe. So 'circle time' is me doing the above with varying degrees of his running wildly around going on around me.

10:15 or so Sometime after this I ask him to check and see what the homework fairy has brought him.
The homework fairy comes in the night and leaves his school work in 4 large plastic drawers. He can normally find at least one of these that he wants to do right then.

Main lesson / Homework fairy projects can take anywhere from 5 minutes - an hour depending on what they are and his interest level.

10:30/11:30 a bit of housework and some free play

Noon is lunch followed by babys nap and a little tv time for 'quite' time.

1 or 2 is time to head out if we have things to do in town if not we finish up any left over work or projects.

3-ish Running around in town / free play at home

4 - dinner prep / housework

6 - dinner / daddy gets home / daddy time

8 teeth brushing / books / bed

Monday, January 3, 2011

Chalk Drawing 101

Chalk drawing can be very intimidating. In fact it's down right Scary
Drawing in general is scary for most of us with the few exceptions of those who are artistically gifted for such things. Even if it is only to be seen by the kids and not to be studied in a museum of fine art. 
All the books say the same thing about the fine arts. Something along the lines of;

"It doesn't mater how well you can sing/draw/paint/dance, just do it and your kids will enjoy the creative process."

Okay well thats great but my stick figure drawings are just not up to par. They look like nothing and are definitely not waldorf-y. So what is a mom to do?  COPY

That's right, I said COPY. 

*Secret - In the early grade school years of waldorf children copy the drawings of their teachers. It's not the dirty word we have been lead to believe.*

From that and from the Oak Meadows kindergarten curriculum I can find a image that works for me.

See the L? Directly from the LMNOP book. 

This mountain scene for M? Also copied from the LMNOP book. My addition is the golden spider for our #8 story in Oak Meadow.

Okay so this one did come out of my head, mostly. Oak Meadows provided the N within the fence but since it was Solstice/Christmas I drew the Nativity. It fit with the season and with the letter N. 
In all fairness though it's not like I came up with the magnificent imagery myself.

This week is the letter O - also totally copied from the LMNOP book. See the formerly mentioned stick people? 

Now normally I change the drawing while the children are asleep. One because it's kind of magical for them to 'discover' the new drawing but mostly because if I do it while they are awake they want to 'help' which leads to less of a chalk drawing and more little kid chalk fingerprints. 

Today I broke out their own chalk boards while I did my drawing. I gave them no prompting in anyway as to the what or how of their drawings. The instructions were merely to "share the chalk there is plenty for both of you." and "draw on your own board."

Yule - 7 years.
"The world is our mom"

Loch - 3 1/2 years.
"The world - and some robots."