Friday, September 30, 2011

Before Five In A Row: Blueberries For Sal

I knew a good part of this book would go over well because my LittleBear LOVES blueberries, much like LittleBear and Sal from the story. Seriously. We buy them from Sam's Club and they are gone within three or four days (and he's the only one that eats them). In fact, we didn't even get to make jam this week as scheduled because LittleBear ate them all before we could get to the jam making. Oh well, it enforced the story even more :)

Here is what we had planned:

Day 1- Wear a Blue Shirt
Read Book
Blueberries for snack in a metal pail
Blue Sensory Bin
Have Ben add "blueberries" (blue dots) to a drawing of a bush that I made.
Day 2- Read Book
decorate letter B with blue fuzzballs
Read Bear classification cards
Day 3- Read Book
Talk about the story of Ruth & Naomi from The Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes. Where you go, I will go-Ruth stayed with Naomi.
Blueberries for Sal Are you my Mother activity
Make Blueberry jam

Day 4- Read Book
Dot paint his name
Move LittleBear preposition cards
Go out & "pick" blueberries into a metal pail (in our case, we pretended & used acorns)
Go visit bears (BU campus, zoo)

This was the longest of the three books we've done this far and the first two days he didn't really seem to want to finish the book, but by the end of the week, he was bringing it to me to read. He liked all of the activities except the math mat activity, which I think was a bit above his level. He did enjoy putting the blueberries in the pail, so that's good.

Here is a small photo gallery of our week:

Week 3- Blueberries For Sal

Inspiration, ideas and printables I used for Blueberries For Sal can be found at:
Delightful Learning
Homeschool Creations
Homeschool Share
In Lieu of Preschool's Pinterest Board on Blueberries For Sal
Confessions of a Homeschooler
My School Pinterest board

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Fun Things From Our Backyard: The Monarchs Are Here!

The Monarch butterflies arrived this morning!!! LittleBear & Mommy were so excited. We walked all around the backyard and driveway pointing out butterflies. LittleBear really enjoyed seeing them swoop and fly about, then settle to sip nectar from the flowers on our bushes. I don't know what kind of bushes these are, but I know that lots of butterflies really love them. I'd just about given up on the Monarchs coming this year, but I'm so glad that they did! Click on the picture below for a small photo gallery :)

We took a brief break from our Before Five In A Row study to further investigate these butterflies together. This site had a lot of good suggestions and LittleBear liked the pictures and slideshows. As it happens, one of LittleBear's favorite books right now is My Oh My a Butterfly from the Cat in the Hat's Learning Library (we love all the books we have read from that series by the way), which has a section devoted to the annual migration of the Monarchs to Mexico. These books are often found at Marshall's or Ross for half the price of Amazon and have been great! Ok, infomercial over.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Before Five In A Row: My Blue Boat

I hadn't planned on doing this book until later on in the year, but it is one of the hardest books to find and Interlibrary Loan at Baylor found it a lot sooner than I anticipated :) LittleBear really liked this book and loved looking for the sailboat on each page. It's hard to know for sure, but I think he really liked the watercolor style of the illustrations. If this book weren't so hard to find and so expensive when one does find it, then I'd think about buying it and adding it to our collection. As it is, I'm thankful that the awesome librarians at Baylor were able to find it for us.

Here is what we had planned for the week:

Day 1- Read Book
Sensory bin
Marble Painting
(using blue & white like the ocean)
sing Row, Row, Row Your Boat
make a laundry basket boat

Day 2- Read Book
Read the chapter about Noah and the Ark from the Jesus Storybook Bible
(also bring out the Little People Noah's Ark)
Animal Classification Cards (whales and dolphins)
Watch videos on whales & dolphins (we used: whale song, dolphins playing, dolphins talking, whale size)
watch and learn Baby Beluga
Act out the dancing whales & swimming dolphins
decorate the letter W

Day 3- Read Book
Put the stars in size order
show a picture of Van Gogh's Starry Night & compare it with the page where the boat dances with whales
paint the sailboat with watercolors
talk about stars & moon and how they are easier to see at night
Counting Star activity
& sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Day 4- Read Book
look at pictures of Uncle Vic sailing
Make boats out of ice, foam and straws and float them in the tub

Have a fun picnic at the lake with a lunch like this & watch for boats

I think his favorite thing the whole week was the sensory bin again. He asked to play with that every day, multiple times a day. He did seem to really enjoy painting the boat with watercolors and also doing the paper towel water painting. The Noah's Ark is also usually a hit around here. He really liked singing the songs and even tried to sing the first line of "Row, Row, Row Your Boat!" He did very well with his counting and is now successfully counting to five on a regular basis!

He wasn't especially fond of the blue marble painting, which I was really excited about, but I think it might have been better with less baby oil. I think I'll still file the idea away for later.

My Uncle has a small sailboat and my incredibly awesome Aunt made up a photo gallery of their sailing adventures for LittleBear to look at, which he really enjoyed. Sadly, we didn't make it to the lake this week, but will for sure put that on the list as a fun thing to do in the future. Maybe tomorrow morning with Grandma :)

View a photo gallery of the week below:
Week 2- My Blue Boat

Inspiration, Ideas and Resources came from the following:
Before Five In A Row manual
Walking By The Way
Frugal Family Fun Blog

Homeschool Creations
Our Homeschool Fun

Totally Tots
Homeschool Share

In Lieu of Preschool's Pinterest Board on My Blue Boat
Word of Truth Boys Academy
Confessions of a Homeschooler

My School Pinterest board

Monday, September 19, 2011

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Before Five In A Row: The Yellow Ball

For our first week, we read The Yellow Ball by Molly Bang, which we happily found at our local library. It has great illustrations and was very different from any other book we had read so far, so I was interested to see what LittleBear's thoughts about the book would be. He loved looking for the ball in each picture and seemed to really enjoy the book each time we read it. We had four days of school planned which included activities from the Before Five In A Row book and also some of my own. Really, it was more like structured play time- we both had fun (mostly)!
Day 1-
Read Book
Yellow Yarn Ball Lacing Card
Yellow flag book
Go to grocery store for a yellow scavenger hunt. Buy lemons & make lemonade.

Day 2- Read book
Talk about Bible story: Luke 8:22-25 (Jesus calming the storm) using the Jesus Storybook Bible
Give Ben his own yellow ball & play games with it. Dribble ball with feet, stop, pass, etc.

Day 3- Read book
make a picture of yellow ball book cover with foam sheets
field trip to look at fish at pet store

Day 4- Read about the setting- about all the things we like to do at the beach, things we see, the ocean and what kinds of creatures live in the ocean.
make yellow ball prints using homemade paint

I think his favorite thing the whole week was the sensory bin (which I found out about through this blog) with beach gel clings, so we brought that back out every day. He also really enjoyed coloring the components of the flag book and liked doing the letter Y activity with the yellow yarn and double stick tape. He also did a good job for his first try with the lacing card.

His least favorite thing was making the lemonade (though he loved going to store and finding the yellow items- everyone in the store knew when he found something yellow). He also did not care for watching an animated video of the "Yellow Submarine" online. Our Yellow Ball prints with homemade paint came out a little differently than I planned. The paint was more of a gel type paint (I'm sure I bought the wrong thing for cornstarch flour) and LittleBear became very upset when it got on his hands (so I finished the painting for him).
We also worked on a magnetic fish puzzle from Michael's clearance section every day, which LittleBear loved.
Funny story time! We were talking about the beach (which is the setting for the book) and things people do at the beach and I mentioned that some people like to bury their feet in the sand. Well, LittleBear proceeded to empty the bin and stick his feet in, then cover them with rice. It was great!

For the grandmas out there and anyone else who wants to see the week in action, here's a photo/video gallery :)
Week 1- The Yellow Ball

Inspiration, Ideas and Resources came from the following:
Before Five In A Row manual
Delightful Learning
Homeschool Creations
Confessions of a Homeschooler
Homeschool Share
Lakeshore Learning
Our Homeschool Fun
Walking by the Way

Monday, September 12, 2011

Introduction: Crestwood Oaks Academy

"...So they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified." Isaiah 61:3

One of the things that made me fall in love with our house were the beautiful established oak trees greeting whomever into the house. They provide shade in the summer, insulation in the winter and cover our house much like I picture the Lord covering our lives. They've been there for years will hopefully be there for years to come. It may sound silly, but they just look wise.

In looking at what to do for school for LittleBear, we have recently come to the decision to start out homeschooling. I have lots of friends who are teachers and have nothing against public or private school. Really. We have both gone to both types of schools and think we turned out ok :) We are going to re-evaluate each year and see what we should do for the next year (this post has some really good questions to ask during that process). Out of that thought process for starting school, Crestwood Oaks Academy was founded.

I love learning and the prospect of seeing what thrills and excites LittleBear really makes any work I put into it totally worth it. I admit I am not naturally a great teacher, but thankfully there are lots of moms out there who are and they are happy to share what they have learned for free via the internet mostly through their blogs. Much of what you will see here is a conglomeration of things I have found through others (I will do my best to give credit wherever possible). If you are not interested, feel free to skip these posts. As long as I have my part time job, LittleBear will attend Mother's Day Out once a week and he also goes to BSF with me once a week, so I'm only planning on four days of school each week. We will also be visiting a dear friend's homeschool to learn with good buddy J at least once a week, so there will be lots of times when we are learning with friends and enjoying the company of others. As best I can tell, for now "school" will be taking about an hour every day, unless he is really enjoying it and wants to go longer.

At the moment, LittleBear is working on his basics. He can successfully identify some colors including yellow, blue, green, red, white, purple and (as of yesterday) pink. Orange still throws him off and sometimes he recognizes black, but not always. He's starting to count to five and loves to shout out "two!" when he sees the number two. He can also identify several letters of the alphabet. So that's where we are starting from.

Each day we start out with The One Year Devotions for Preschoolers by Crystal Bowman (from the Little Blessings series). Ben loves these Little Blessings books and most days will sit with me for "Bible time" as we read that day's devotion. For the rest of school this year, I've chosen to take LittleBear through the book Before Five In A Row. It's for ages 2-4 and uses an assortment of classic children's books to introduce the student and teacher to different subjects including science, arts, Bible, History, and others. It wasn't expensive and we can get most of the books through the library. LittleBear LOVES reading so I thought this would be right up his alley. The book goes through and outlines different activities, but I will also be adding in some other related activities that I think LittleBear will enjoy and benefit from.

Thanks for sharing this journey with us!

Crestwood Oaks Academy: LittleBear's First Day of Preschool

Of course I fully intended to start the last week in August when the rest of schools started in Texas, but I just didn't have myself organized enough to start then. As far as school goes for LittleBear, we're not committing him to homeschool through high school yet, but we did feel like it was best to start out with him at home (more on that in another post).

I'll do a wrap-up post at the end of each week reviewing what we did that week and how it went, but since today was LittleBear's first day of "formal learning," I thought it deserved a post of its own :)

Today went great! He liked or at least attempted all of the activities I had planned, which in my book is a success!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering 9-11

Recently, LittleBear has become really interested in the bells at the top of Pat Neff, Baylor's most recognizable and prominent building on campus. We have watched YouTube videos of the bells playing and heard them chime the hours on occasion. But when I heard there was to be a Carillon concert today in remembrance of September 11th using the bells in Pat Neff, I knew we had to go (despite the fact that it started smack in the middle of LittleBear's naptime- hey, sometimes we need to make exceptions).

Lynnette Geary, a Carillonneur, played a wonderful tribute lasting 45 minutes that all three of us enjoyed. When we got back to the car, LittleBear turned around and gave Pat Neff an unsolicted "thumbs up" meaning he very much enjoyed the concert.

Sitting on a blanket on the lawn, watching the wind blow through the trees and hearing the somber tones of the bells really was a wonderful way to remember those who gave their lives ten years ago. It certainly doesn't feel like it has been ten years. As survivor Ron DiFrancesco said, "Time does heal a bit, but it doesn't make you forget what happened. And I think, for our generation, it's our marking point in history. It changed the world that day."

Here's a video of Amazing Grace from the concert:

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Astros and Sesame Street -- Like Father, Like Son

One of my (Jeff's) favorite photos from when I was a kid is of me wearing an Astros shirt (rainbow gut, of course) and sitting on my Big Bird chair (I've always been a big Sesame Street fan). Keep in mind, this was before we even lived in Houston -- either my aunt or grandparents had given me the shirt.

I realized recently that I was two years and two months old when that photo was taken -- exactly the same age as LittleBear is now. It just so happens that we still have both the shirt and the chair, so we decided to try and re-create the photo. What do you think?


 Here's another cute one of LittleBear from the same set.

Too cute!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Family Garden: Tough Summer

Garden This Week

This has been one tough summer for gardens everywhere, but big time here in Central Texas. I can count on one hand the number of times it has rained and the longest of those was a light rain for about 15 minutes. So, I haven't posted lately because there really wasn't much to say other than I've just been trying to keep my plants alive in the hopes they will start producing more in the fall. I doubt the broccoli plants will and I really should rip them out, but they are still growing and I just can't bring myself to do it.

We did get a harvest this week!!! How fun! We got two handfuls of basil, two more honeydew melons, a handful of tiny onions and 1 cherry tomato. There are quite a few more cherry tomatoes on the plant, which I am very excited about. The weather looks like it might be cooling off a bit (as in under 100 degrees), so hopefully we'll get a lot more cherry tomatoes and maybe some peppers too!

The honeydew and cantaloupe vines both have lots of flowers on them, so we're also hoping for more melons. So, it's been a good week garden-wise! LittleBear has enjoyed looking for ladybugs each morning when we go out to water the garden. It seems they are always clustered in a rolled up pepper plant leaf (looking like they are asleep). He asks me to put one on his hand and let it crawl around for a few minutes. Then he is done. It's very cute...

Anyway, here is what the garden looks like right now:

Box #1:
Box #2:
Box #3:
I have learned some valuable lessons for next spring. For one, I'd like to do a bit more landscaping around the garden boxes to ensure grass and weeds don't grow up into the boxes (something like gravel paths in between). I probably won't grow as many carrots or onions again because I only get one veggie per plant (best case scenario). Still, it's been really fun and I'm looking forward to my new and improved spring garden. It's definitely been a fun learning experience!!!!!!!!

Cherry Tomato Blossoms!
Cherry Tomatoes!
Honeydew flowers:
Cantaloupe flowers:
Purple Sprouting Broccoli plant next to LittleBear: