Thursday, August 14, 2014

Prek 4 week 1

Our first full week of Pre-k 4 was great! I had a lot of fun working with Oliver and he had a lot of fun doing his school time. Some things I learned:
  1. It's important to really sit and have one on one time with Oliver while we are doing his different activities (especially writing, or new challenges to him).
  2. Lot's and lot's of praise goes a long way in encouraging him to continue and push him a little when he wants to give up.
  3. Having activities ready for Aleksandr to play with is a must. 
  4. Also including Aleksandr where I can is helpful too (paint dots for him while Oliver is coloring patterns).
  5. Preparing a bit the night before so that the flow of our work time is smooth.
  6. Breaking up sitting work time with lots of exercise related activities (singing and moving, marching, going on a bear hunt together, or rather alligator hunt etc.)
  7. Prayer. Lot's of prayer for help, passion, love, compassion, guidance, discipline and fun!!
My husband is such an encouragement to me and I love sharing my heart with him, as well as areas that I just am not disciplined in. Teaching is certainly an area I feel inadequate in, as it's not my background. But I know the Lord has called me here to this place, at this moment and until He shows us otherwise I will continue to do the best I can in homeschooling. I am thankful so much for my husband's insight and wisdom and I encourage other mom's to seek out the council of your spouse, as well as prayer with the One Who made those sweet kiddos you are training. I think I often will let Oliver give up or quit on something when just a little bit of encouragement and a lot of praise when he finishes goes sooo far. I learned this after talking with my husband one night about quitting, or giving up easily. This very thing came into play when Oliver worked on some patterns. They were tough for him (some may have been too hard for him at this point), but I stayed right with him and encouraged him to keep going and he was so proud of himself when he finished them. Seeing that little smile of accomplishment will teach him much as he continues to grow and learn. Hard work is worth the effort for all it teaches you!
Here is Oliver working on some train themed patterns.

Preschool Year 4!

It's a new school year here at home as we begin year 4 for our Oliver. I had spent much time praying about what curriculum we should use this year. I was debating using ABCJLM (Abc Jesus Loves Me) versus so many other great options that are out there. My criteria were essentially: free (there are so many options online, there really isn't a need to purchase for these little years), Christian, and fun! I didn't want a rigid scheduled, long drawn out school day for him. I wanted to be able to teach him basics, heavily influenced around the Bible. God is the center of our home and I am daily trying to pour into our two little boys with the help of Jesus!!
This year it was also a little different with little brother wanting to participate in all that his big brother is doing. Between a 4 year old and a 2 year old I knew I'd need to think out some activities geared towards both, and also specific play things that a 2 year old would want to play with for a little bit of time.
Ultimately after researching, praying, talking it over with my husband, and seeking out the wisdom of veteran mom's that are homeschooling I decided to once again use ABCJLM. Allowing myself a little planning time in the evenings was a tremendous help in making the day run smoothly. I wrote out a loose lesson plan (following an example on ABCJLM's site) and filled in what activities we would cover for the week. The first day I wasn't prepared enough, at least for our 2 year old little boy that wanted to do everything Oliver was doing. Overall not a very smooth day, filled with lots of tears and whining (from Aleksandr). Soooo, I learned from that and made sure to have something special just for him the next day.
Today is our third and final day of school for our first week and it was so much better once I had something set up for our 2 year old. Oliver did so great and worked hard, and I'm so proud of him and the effort he put into it. I am learning so much as I again start up another year. I am thankful I had a year to get my toes wet at the homeschooling thing because it feels a little easier this year.
I think one thing that helped me as I started thinking through schooling this year was sitting down and determining what my goals were for the year. What was I wanting him to learn? How was he going to learn? How will little brother be able to participate?
And like I mentioned above, my heart is to tell our boys who God is, and the rest is centered around that. Including character traits was a big goal of mine as well. There are a lot of sites out there that can help in this and I found a printout actually from the Duggard's blog that has a full page of character traits with Scripture relating to it. It's a great reference and I hope to start memorizing them in our own home. Right now though we are using the character traits that are mentioned each week at ABCJLM. This week was faith and trust, and went along with the Bible story.
I'm having a lot of fun so far, and I am continuing to pray for this. May the Lord continue to guide me as I train and teach these little boys!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Christmas time! 2013 part one

Merry Christmas! (and happy new year, since it's actually a new year at this point)
This year I was determined not to get too busy with things that didn't matter (excessive shopping, excessive baking, excessive anything for that matter) and really wanted to pare it down to what mattered. Jesus, love, giving.
Looking back I can see that we did a good job of teaching what Christmas is about to the boys. This was the biggest thing on my heart as we approached Christmas. Each year Jonah and I talk about what we will give and how we will teach the reason of Christmas.
This year we didn't get to send our Christmas cards, or hand out gifts to neighbors. It was on my 'wouldn't it be nice' list in my head, but when it came down to time those just had to come off the list.
However I must say, Jonah went above and beyond a card this year and made a VIDEO of our Christmas. It's amazing. He's picked up this skill all on his own, and has learned a lot about videography. It's time consuming (edit process) but it's pretty amazing when it's done.
I did make two gifts this year though, one for each of the boys. I made Oliver a pizza set made of felt (he's really into play foods and making his own things). And for Aleksandr, ah, I was sentimental about his. You see I was looking on etsy and found an old pattern of a toy I had when I was little. I had forgotten all about it until that moment. It's a fabric toy carrot that holds little bunnies in it. It brought back memories and I called my mom to see what had happened to it and who had made it. As it turns out my grandma made it for me years ago, and it has since been swapped up by one of my sisters (somewhere in a storage box). My grandma was an amazing woman that was skilled in so many domestic areas, I only wish I could now sit down with her and just LEARN from her. She has been with Jesus for several years now though. I searched ebay for the pattern and found it, ordered it and eagerly set out to make this thing.
I'm an amateur at sewing in every aspect. But I really wanted to make this toy. After many ripped out seams, torn out thread, and a little blood (I pricked my finger), sweat and tears (I may have cried a bit when it was finished) I succeeded. I made this carrot toy (complete with zipper, what??!) and was happy with the result and happy that it will be in our family for our own kids to play with.
Here is the pattern that is similar to the one I bought on ebay. My bunnies and leaves were a bit different but still like the one I had when I was little.
It was so much fun making things for the boys. I didn't make a gift for Jonah but still enjoyed picking out his gifts too! It's so much fun to give to others!
It was a lot of fun watching the boys this year too. Oliver had much more excitement about everything as he is older now, and Aleksandr just enjoyed getting excited when his big brother did.
I think in the end Jonah and I again realized we would do just fine to only give the boys one gift, but we know ourselves too well to try and stick to that rule. The boys were SO excited after opening one gift. We could have stopped at that point and they would have been thrilled to play. But maybe we will narrow it down again next year. We are thinking maybe just 3 gifts each (one you want, one you need, one you give away) but we'll see....
We continued our traditions this year: baking cut out cookies and decorating, visiting local Christmas lights, watching a Christmas movie with cocoa with Oliver (polar express, first time!), opening our chocolate advent calendar, having Oliver choose a gift to buy and give to a friend, and having amazing bacon on Christmas morning...along with so many other little things that have become our traditions. It's fun to add things as they boys grow and as we find new things that work with our family. I love this time of year. I kind of wish we could keep it all year round, but then again I guess it would hold as much excitement. I love that we can celebrate because of the most precious gift given, Jesus. I always loved being pregnant during Christmas as it reminded me of how little Jesus was when He came to earth. Perhaps another Christmas I will experience that, but it was sure special celebrating and remembering our Savior. I hope I can keep that part of the season passionately in my heart all year.

oliver on Christmas eve last year


thanksgiving 2013

Thanksgiving recap! Yes, I realize it is now January. BUT these past couple months were busy. BUSY. I wasn't planning on it being so busy, but I have some wonderful memories from the holidays, and for that I am so thankful. We spent our Thanksgiving with family and were at great Grandma's house (hence the sweet, vintage decor). Aleksandr had started to get better at walking but was still adorably tipsy as he tottered around. I love the photos of him teetering down the hall. We also spent some time catching up with one of Jonah's old buddies from childhood and it was great to hear stories of their past. Overall, we had a nice time eating a lot of food, laughing at the kids antics and enjoying being together.



Friday, November 22, 2013

Preschool week 12 (letter Hh, number 6 and Gideon)

For this week we covered a lot for our Bible story. We covered the letter Hh, number 6 and the story of Gideon. After reading through the story of Gideon in the Bible I wasn't sure how to go about teaching it to Oliver. Everywhere I looked for resources the only part covered of the story was the very end when he used torches to march around the city. There is SO much more to the story and it's awesome how God worked through this man, and prepared him to lead. So I decided to break up the story through several days and focus on different parts each day. The first day we covered the part where God spoke to Gideon by causing fire to come out of a rock.
I had Oliver find a rock and we tore up orange tissue paper and glued it down to the rock (with only elmers glue too!)

The next day we read about the fleece Gideon put out on two nights asking God for a sign (one night the fleece stayed dry and the ground was wet, the next night the ground was dry and the fleece was wet). I tried to explain this to Oliver as it's something he doesn't quite understand, seeing how I am not able to create a miracle (ha!). To physically show this, I got two pans. One had water in it and Oliver dropped a napkin in it to watch how it got wet. The next pan was dry and I put a napkin in it and let Oliver put water on it. I explained how they both got wet and how God was able to make a miracle by keeping the parts dry that shouldn't be. Oliver may not have understood this, but he enjoyed doing the physical activity. I know once he's older he'll understand :)

Another day we focused on the next part of the story, when God had Gideon separate out his men that would go into battle with him. Gideon had thousands of men for his army, but God wanted him to take them to the river and watch how they drank the water. If the men were down on the ground, drinking water directly out of the stream they would not be chosen. The men that used their hands to cup water up to their mouths would be part of his army. This dwindled the number of men down to merely 300. I'm amazed at how few God required, but it showed how great He was and that it was not on account of men that they defeated the Midianites.
I had Oliver build a stream out of his legos, then showed him how the men were chosen by how they drank from the stream. He liked practicing this one, but only a couple times, then he was done! It was a good visual I think.

Our final part of the story. We read through the final part when Gideon led his men around the camp of the Midianites, blew their trumpets and broke their pitchers to reveal their lanterns. The Midianites were defeated by simple shouting, but by the mighty work of God. I helped Oliver create a torch and trumpet, using some paint, glue, tissue paper and toilet paper rolls. I have to admit we never finished his torch as we were letting the paint dry, but that's okay. Oliver didn't seem to mind as we became busy with other things!

And for our letter Hh I did something recommended from ABCJLM. I took a mirror out and had Oliver  breathe the "h" sound into it until he saw it fog up on the mirror. It was a great way for him to make the sound correctly and he continually says it correctly whenever I ask him what sound "H" makes. A great way to learn it! And he worked on the number 6, with some play doh, a favorite. I helped roll them out, as he's not that good with fine motor skills yet, but he's getting better at it.

Finally this week we started making thankful leaves in honor of the month of November with Thanksgiving. I cut out some leaf shapes in construction paper and strung up some yarn for us to tape them to. We are daily writing new things we are thankful for on our leaves and it's fun to see the string of leaves get longer and longer. We have so very much to be thankful for. God is so good and I am so grateful for all He has allowed us to have, and all He continues to teach us!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Fire Station Tour!

The best toddler trip ever!
Really, we had a great time touring a fire station about a week ago. Oliver is really into cars of any kind at this age and fire trucks are pretty high up on his favorites list.
I had looked up fire stations in our area and called and scheduled a tour. They are free and you can also bring a group. So I invited some other friends to come along.
It was so much fun! The firemen were so polite and friendly and showed us around the fire house. We watched a safety video, and checked out the everyday space the firemen lived in (they actually stay on shifts for 24 hours). I love the unity and family aspect they convey. Living in the same space so long, cooking meals and doing chores together (they actually rotate what chores they do each week, it was window washing day when we were there) can't help but bring these firemen together. It was a really neat experience.
Plus the boys were able to see some big shiny firetrucks, a police car and a police bike. The officers were so kind to my boys (to all of us that were there, really) and I got to sit in a fire truck!
Granted there wasn't a dalmation dog keeping watch, or a fire pole to slide down, but I guess I've read to many books :)
The boys had a great time. And it was free! I am thinking I'd like to bring some baked goods to them in the near future. It will be fun to do something for them to let them know we appreciate them.

Preschool Week 11 (Gg, 5, Bible story of Jericho)

For week 11 we focused on the letters Gg, the number 5 and the story of Jericho in the Bible. 
For a Jericho craft, I used the printout from ABCJLM and had Oliver color it, then cut out some pieces of paper to glue down on the wall pictured in the illustration. I thought it would be a good exercise for his fine motor skills, since we haven't used his scissors in a while. He enjoyed cutting and did pretty good with it. I started the cuts for him so that it wasn't such a large cumbersome piece for him. Then he glued them all down. 

I also used a free printout I found online that had G for goat, and a bunch of other G (and goat) things with it. One was sequencing, where I had Oliver match the largest to smallest goat picture with the correct numbers (1 with the biggest, 2 with the middle etc.). He did pretty well with it. 

While we were reading about the story of Joshua and Jericho, I was trying to think of something we could do that was creative and hands on for Oliver to really remember the story. I finally decided on boxes. Ha!
I pulled a bunch of boxes out of storage (are we the only ones that tend to save perfectly good boxes for   future use?) and stacked them up. Then we talked through the details of the story ( 7 days marching around the walls of Jericho, until the 7th day) and on the 7th day, after marching around 7 times they made a bunch of noise and God pushed those walls down! And at that point Oliver shouted and knocked down the "wall" of Jericho. He loved it so much! This was a fun way for him to be involved in the story, and he LOVES being an active part. He wanted to do it over and over, and started to build it by himself, including some cars, a stuffed animal and anything else that would fit on the "wall". (also take note of his baby brothers fascination with mom taking pictures, ha!) So much fun!

And finally, I used some more goat printouts. This one had about 12 different goats with a new color name printed on each one (in corresponding color). I let Oliver find the matching crayon for each one and color the square that had that color. I remember trying something similar to this with him months ago and he had no interest, and gave up easily. His attention span and observation has grown so much since then, and I can clearly see that while he colored away at these! It's neat to watch him grow in these areas, and also good to remember that there will be things he isn't interested in right now, but may change in another month or two.