Thursday, February 16, 2012

Sorting - Hot/Cold

I recently read another blog which outlined the importance of not only sorting but also using different sensory skills to sort (because we use/exercise different regions of our brains for different types of sorting i.e. sight vs feeling). One idea that particularily caught my attention in the post that I'd never thought of before, was the idea of sorting hot and cold. Besides being different, and therefore fun, I thought it might be a more obvious thing for Jackson to try and sort on his own. He enjoyed playing with the hot and cold stones but didn't necessarily sort them in any order. We'll have to try this activity a couple more times before making an official assessment of its teaching effectiveness. Reagan decided she wanted to check out Jackson's hot/cold sorting game as wellJackson decided he wanted to try again since Reagan was interested (this is typical). Reagan wasn't appreciative of the assistance at first and Jackson didn't like Reagan's sorting process. I suggested to Reagan she work with Jackson and try to explain her process for sorting as well as helping Jackson make decisions on where the stones should be placed. She liked the idea of teaching him and they began to work together. This was both sweet and probably the best instruction we received from this sorting project during our first attempt with this activity. As I've found is often the case (and one of the beauties of homeschooling) the best learning frequently occurs in ways you didn't intend or expect during any given project. Great teamwork Reagan and Jackson! :)

Superbowl Sunday 2012

Uncle Dan and Aunt Dorothy invited us over to their house for the Superbowl. Somehow I didn't manage to take many pictures but I thought this (slightly posed) picture of all 4 guys with remotes watching the game was pretty cute. :)Before we headed over for the party Missy K and I made a S'more dessert Aunt Arla found on Pinterest. Jackson was down for a nap and Reagan was being a bit difficult so Missy K and I had some quality "Elly Melly/Mommy special time." As you can see Missy K was pretty excited about helping out with this dessert. Silly girl! lol :)Working hard to spread out the graham cracker mixtureMeasuring and spreading out the marshmellows Carefully spreading all the red and blue marshmellows. I had wanted to have opposing team colors but since both the Giants and Patriots use blue and red we ended up looking more patriotic than opposing teamish. Oh well... :)Grammy used to tell us that part of being a good cook was cleaning up after ourselves. We haven't discussed that much previously, but I decided to introduce the idea and Missy K did a great job using the washcloth to clean the counterspace off while our dessert baked.

The finished product - I have to say it looks much better than it tasted. Probably won't be making this one again. :)After completing our Superbowl dessert Missy K wanted to make some hot chocolate with some new peppermint mini marshmellows Grammy gave us. We made our drinks and settled down to watch the "Polar Express" together, also at Missy K's request.All in all a good Superbowl Sunday! :)

Reading Together

I don't know if Jackson began bringing books to Reagan to read or if Reagan began reading to Jackson but one Sunday after church I turned around to see this reading session in progress. The two of them were beyond adorable reading and enjoying several books together! Love it!!! :) Our sibling moments aren't always quite this sweet so I sure love to see and capture these precious moments! :)


My timing of this post is ironic. Reagan and Jackson are sick and we are having a very low key day vegging out and watching TV (so I thought I'd take advantage of the time to catch up on some blogging). As I was getting ready to hit "publish" for this post Reagan began yelling at me to come help her in the bathroom across the hallway. Jackson had brought one of his favorite books (Eric Carle's "Have You Seen My Cat?) to her to read to him. She doesn't feel like reading to him and he refuses to let me read the book. They're both a disaster but it's pretty funny bless their sick little hearts! lol :) Now he has brought me "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?" so I'm going to go give my sweet sick baby some love and attention.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Jackson Begins His Preschool Career

As I have mentioned previously, we are planning on homeschooling when Reagan begins Kindergarten this coming Fall. One semi challenge we have faced is how to keep Jackson busy, happy, and ideally included and learning while I'm working with the girls.


We are in the process of setting up a dedicated classroom space in our basement (I'll be doing some specific posts on that soon). In that space, we have activities specifically for Jackson. Additionally, by setting up our classroom in the basement Jackson has easy access to several toy areas including our Thomas Table (Jackson is an enormous Thomas fan), the kid's kitchen and our Little People Village. I have also learned that it makes more sense to do things like practicing violin with the girls while Jackson is taking his nap. This is an activity which takes my full attention. As a result, it is a time when he is likely to become frustrated because of my lack of ability to provide him any attention for a prolonged period of time. It's been a slow process (and one I expect to continue - and continue to change) but we're slowly figuring out what are the best times of day to accomplish what.


On Friday, I let Jackson sit at the table while Reagan was working on her Math and Writing schoolwork. He had a great time working on his Melissa and Doug Door Puzzle (it's not really a puzzle, I just don't know what to call it, every door has a different mechanism to open it and discover different animals in varying colors and numbers). He has played with this before but he was intensely more interested in it sitting at the table working like a big preschool boy. :)

I have fallen in love with a book that was recently recommended to me called "The Well-Trained Mind A guide to Classical Education at Home" by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise. This book was suggested to me by some vetran homeschool mothers who are part of a book club Dorothy introduced me too. If you are considering homeschooling, I highly recommend this book as a resource. It is assisting me greatly in figuring out the framework I want to use for homeschooling. I will provide further details on this in an upcoming blog post, but for now I wanted to mention it because of an acitivity it suggested and I used with Jackson Friday morning.


The book recommended drawing counter clockwise circles with young children. Many many circles in whatever type of pictures you want including simply drawing circles. This is a beginning writing skill. Many letters include a counter clockwise circle but our natural inclination is to draw circles clockwise. This is especially interesting to me because just recently Reagan, who has been writing for sometime, began trying to write her letters in a clockwise direction (something I've discovered some of her friends have been doing as well). This has led to writing many letters backwards. As such, this activity seemed especially appropriate for us and is something all three kids can do and learn from. The aim is for counter clockwise circles to feel more natural and intuitive.


When Jackson grew tired of playing with his door puzzle, I gave him a pencil and paper and started working with him on his counter clockwise circles. As you can see from the pictures below he was ready to burst with pride! He sat there and giggled and giggled and smiled and smiled. It was beyond priceless! He absolutely loved sitting at the table with his big sisters and doing his own work. He has colored and done other activities while I've worked with the girls before but somehow he had a different association with this. He clearly thought he was part of the group and doing "real" schoolwork. He is so determined to be a big boy and do whatever the girls are doing I think we can officially declare his preschool career to have begun. :) What a big boy you are becoming Jackson! We are so proud of you sweet boy! :)I'm pretty much caught up on blog posts now (I can't remember the last time I was literally to the day caught up!) so I may be MIA for a few days while I work to put the finishing touches on our classroom. I have several blog posts I want to do regarding our classroom space as well as curriculm choices we have made. As we begin this homeschool journey, if you have any recommendations or suggestions for us we would appreciate and enjoy hearing them!

Beautiful February Weather

We have been enjoying unseasonably warm and beautiful weather this week. Fresh air is good for the soul! :) These first three pictures were three of my favorite from the day. Here's my beautiful little tree climbing, tree hugger, daughter. :)Jackson was being as precious as he could be busily exploring the moss and anything he could locate to pick up and check out. I told Kennedy I had gotten a really cute picture of Reagan and Jackson and I needed one of her. She very matter of factly told me "You have lots of cute and sweet Elly Melly pictures. You don't need anymore. You have enough sweet Elly Melly pictures." lol :) I couldn't argue with the fact that I do have a few pictures of her but I can always use another one! Thankfully she decided to oblige me. Telling that reminds me of another story I forgot to share in my MLK weekend post. Kennedy was basically climbing over the back of a chair to get into it for supper. Grand-dad looked at her and said "Kennedy, if you ask me, you're doing that the hardest way possible." Without missing a beat Kennedy seriously replied "I didn't ask you" and proceeded to climb into the seat her own unique way. Grand-dad and I laughed until we couldn't laugh anymore. Grand-dad said it was so funny because it was about the last thing in the world he expected her to say. What a cute little comic we have on our hands! :)When Grammy wanted to purchase this trampoline for us I didn't think it was necessary. Especially since she had previously purchased a small indoor version for us. I figured it would be something the kids would be interested in for a period of time and then lose interest. I couldn't have been more wrong! We've had it nearly 2 years now and all three of them jump on it any opportunity they can. It is the first thing they head to anytime we go outside. Thank you Grammy and Grand-dad!Pippi Longstocking and her neighbor Tommy having a coffee party (Anika wasn't interested in having any coffee)Jackson enjoying the privelages of being a big boy and swinging on the glider I thought it was hilarious when the girls decided to swing in the baby swingswhile Jackson was determined to swing in the big kids swing. lol :) My children are firm believers in the grass always being greener on the other side of the fence. lol :)
Jackson decided he's a big enough boy to climb trees today too. I thought Tim would flip out that I let him do this and took pictures to boot but he calmly told me he's helped Jackson climb trees before. Tim clearly has a double standard for our children because he's a Nervous Nelly anytime either of the girls begin scaling a tree, even now! Jackson was so proud of himself! What a smile! :)Yep, another little tree hugger :)I'm not sure what he was doing here he just kept working his feet up until he was fairly perpendicular in position and somewhat stuck. lol :)Haydn decided to give Kennedy some good loving :)How sweet is this of Kennedy helping Jackson walk back to the house for lunch? Melts my heart! ;) Reagan was also being a big helper at this point and had run back to the swingset to pick up my coffee mug. The weather here has been gorgeous which makes it so easy and nice to play outside. I hate to sound ungrateful, but we do all so wish it would snow! We love snow and we desperately want some to play and sled in at least once this winter!!!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Groundhog Day 2012

After learning about China after Chinese New Year we've been learning about hibernation in anticipation of Groundhog Day. We have also been discussing the concepts of migration and estivation (basically the same as hibernation but done by animals in climates such as the dessert because of a lack of water/food). I think Reagan has a pretty good understanding of the three concepts. I may have just confused Kennedy more than anything, however... I thought these concepts would make more sense if we acted them out. So we've migrated by flying down to the basement, we've been true hibernators (like groundhogs, hedgehogs, bats who are so heavily asleep they may appear to be dead), we've been the Antartic Cod one (if not the only) fish who hibernates during the coldest times of year. We've created different caves, burrows etc. over the past couple of weeks to accomodate our sleeping state(s). While both girls have had a lot of fun doing this, Kennedy's take away has apparently been as follows; if you ask her what hibernation means she consistently responds "You hide under a blanket and go to sleep! I'm a good hibernator!" We'll take another shot at it next year... lol :) One of our books specifically about Groundhog Day let us know that every year at precisely 7:25AM Punxsutawny Phil makes his prediction on Gobbler's Knob. The girls happily hopped out of their beds and into ours to wait for Phil's prediction. As you can see in the picture above Reagan was very excited about Phil's prediction of 6 more weeks of winter. She was surprisingly excited which I didn't quite understand. After hopping out of bed she immediately ran to the window and wanted to know where the snow was. That should have tipped me off to her excitement but I didn't get it until I heard her excitedly explaining to someone else later in the day that "Punxsutawny Phil predicted 6 more weeks of snow!!!" lol :) Poor thing! I sure agree that we need some snow around here! Thank you Phil for at least giving us a chance (even if it's not a full 6 weeks).The girl's and Daddy decided it would be nice to snuggle for a few minutes in bed before heading down for breakfast.Thursdays are a busy day for us as we have both violin lessons and then head over to St. Michael's church for our homeschool classes through the BHLC. Reagan is taking a Foods 101 class this semester in the morning. They will be trying different foods and learning where they come from/how far the food traveled etc. I think it's a really neat idea. When we got in the van Thursday afternoon Reagan announced "I love my 101 class! We had Pomegranate's today and they were much better than yours Mom!" I noticed her teacher getting into her car a couple down from ours so I conveyed the message to her and asked about her Pomegranates. She said she got them from Kroger. The same place I purchase mine. lol :) Her teacher pointed out it is much more fun and way cooler to try things out with all your friends. :)


Because Thursdays are pretty full as it is, we don't typically plan too many late afternoon activities. We do usually stop by Sonic for their Happy Hour special - it's a good and inexpensive incentive for two little girls too cooperate all day long. It's especially inexpensive because believe it or not Reagan and Kennedy generally select small or medium slushes. This is especially true of Reagan. I'm not sure what has brought this awareness on, but lately she has been very aware of not being wasteful and not wanting to take too much. Last Sunday she became very upset when we told the waitress to go ahead and giver her a refill on her Sweet Tea. She later explained to me that she knew she wasn't going to drink anymore and she was right, she didn't even though it was in a to go cup which we took home. She may drive me crazy sometimes but then there are other times when she really surprises me with her awareness and self restraint. I just can't imagine most kids, including myself, being able to judge or request wanting a smaller amount of ice cream or other treat because they know they won't be able to consume it all.


Anyhoo... since yesterday was Groundhog Day, I did have a small art project planned for making groundhogs out of hearts (you guessed it, another Pinterest idea). Jackson didn't make a groundhog himself but he did discover that wiggly eyes are a lot of fun to play with and place on paper. :) He was so careful and sweet to begin with. The girls eventually wanted to select eyes for their groundhogs, however, and that positively infuriated him. In his efforts to pull the bag away he discovered shaking and dumping out the bag of wiggly eyes was even more fun! What a little stinker! lol :)

The girls cut out their large hearts for the groundhog's face using one of my Creative Memory Scrapbook cutting mats. I was hoping I would have the right size hearts for the entire project but we ended up needing to create the smaller ones. Missy K was pretty determined to do all the cutting herself but in the end let me help a bit before getting too frustrated.Cutting a heart in half to make the groundhog's earsReagan did a great job of tracing the hearts her groundhog required. She did a pretty good job cutting them out as well although she became a little frustrated and requested my assistance.
Cutting whiskers for her groundhogReagan gluing the groundhog together. I decided to let her try and do this on her own and she did a good job putting it all together. The one thing that ended up being a little funny was that I told her she would need to use extra glue for the whiskers. Reagan apparently took me very literally. Suffice it to say Reagan's groundhog's whiskers will never ever fall off!!! Our finished groundhogs made from heartsMy silly girls with the most colorful groundhogs I've ever seen! No one can say we're not creative around here!!! :)Recently Jackson has begun cleaning up toys. He sometimes volunteers but he is extremely good at it if you specifically ask him to help and show him what you want him to do. Here he is cleaning up his wiggly eye mess. What a big boy! :)Earlier in the day at the BHLC, we made groundhogs who could pop up out of their "holes" to look for their shadows. I thought this idea was cute when I saw it on Pinterest, but all the kids absoutely loved this activity! I would highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for something cute like this to do. The template for the groundhog can be found at the following link: for the wordiness of this blog but I think as I've explained before while I began this blog with the idea of keeping friends and family informed of the kids progress I've realized I'm the one who uses it the most. It's become my journal. I realized the other day that for that reason I should be taking the time to capture more of what the kids say here. Pictures are my favorite but I need to capture stories too. Having said that we had a super fun Groundhog Day and we hope you did too! :)


Kennedy kept mispronouncing Punxsutawny Phil's name all day. She would struggle with it and finally get something to the effect of Tunxsutawnypawny Phil out. It was so darned cute I wanted to catch it on tape. Wouldn't you know as soon as I asked her to say it she said it correctly! lol :) So I asked her to say it the other day. Then Reagan wanted in on the action too. I actually have several more takes of this trying to capture them both. Welcome to a portion of our personal repetitious version of Groundhog Day.