Saturday, October 24, 2009

Tot School - Color matching and sorting

Tot School Bubby is 35 months old.

Sorry I am behind on Tot School. These pics are from a few weeks ago, but representative of what we have been doing this past week.

I made Bubby some color matching cards. I got them from the ChildCareLand website. This was originally meant to be an emergent reader book, but I made the pages into cards to better suit this activity. Each card has a different colored car, and I painted a clothespin to match the color of the car. He clips each clothespin to it's matching card.
This is an activity in which I get him started, and then he can work on it while I'm helping the older kids with their schoolwork. Tot School works better if I will sit with him, and let the big kids come to me for help. The way he sees it, Mom's presence is the same as Mom's attention.

Bubby has also been helping me with laundry chores. I've found that for sorting, it is better to give him one color and have him pull everything that is that color to put in a pile. His favorite is to sort out all the jeans. It is challenging for him to lift some of that stuff out of the deep hamper, but he likes to show off his strength.

He also loads the washer and pours the detergent in after I have measured it out for him. He loves helping with this chore, and I'm not allowed to load the washer without him.

One funny thing: On the inside rim of the washer, there is a little sign with a picture showing that you should make sure all the items are all the way in the washer before closing the door. He has taken this to heart, and very meticulously will arrange each item until it is completely inside to his satisfaction. Great attention to detail!

Check 1+1+1=1 blog for more Tot School posts!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Burgess Books Online

Here is a list I have compiled of all the Thornton Burgess books I could find that are available for free online.

If you have read any of the Burgess stories, I know you have fallen in love with the little characters. We always look forward to hearing about nosy Peter Cottontail, mischievous Sammy Jay, and wise Grandfather Frog. For me, the best thing about them is reading them aloud. The dialog is charming, and I love doing the different voices.

I know that Ambleside Online curriculum recommends some of them, as do other homeschool curricula. They are wonderful stories which teach morals and values while exploring the world of wildlife.

The majority of the Burgess books that you can find online are at There are a few more out there, however, that are not included on Gutenberg. Most of these are not available in text format, because they are scanned images. They do include the color illustrations by Harrison Cady.

Burgess books on
Burgess Bedtime Stories from an old calendar.
The Adventures of Peter Rabbit
Bobby Coon’s Mistake
A Great Joke on Jimmy Skunk
The Neatness of Bobby Coon
A Merry Coasting Pary
Paddy’s Surprise Visitor
The Three Bears
Reddy Fox’s Sudden Engagement
Grandfather Frog Stays in the Smiling Pool
A Robber Meets His Match
Peter Rabbit Proves a Friend
Young Flash the Deer

Additional Link: Podcast of Old Mother West Wind by Lori K. Brooke. There are audio versions of some of the Burgess books available at and, but I wanted to share these because they are different, and not as easy to find. The woman reading them has a grandmotherly, sweet voice, and there is background music added which gaves them a relaxing, bedtime feel.

Please comment if you know of any other Burgess stories available online, and I will add them.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Tot School - Wonders of the Bathroom

Tot School
(Bubby is 33 months old)

This is the most interesting thing Bubby has picked out on his own. He loves to have me open the lid to the toilet tank and tell him about how it works!
He has a book called What's Inside? Great Inventions which has an illustration of the inside of an old-fashioned toilet tank, and it explains how it works. I don't know how much he understands about it, but he certainly does like to see all the parts and compare them to the picture. You can see the book lying open in the photo above.

His older brother, now eight, loved the very same thing when he was two. In fact, that is how I potty trained him. His reward for "good work" was that I would lift the lid to the tank and tell him about everything inside before he flushed. I couldn't get little Bubby interested in the same thing while we were potty training, but now that we are almost to the end of that road, he is very interested.

Usually he will ask twice a day if he can look inside the tank. We go in the bathroom and I stay with him until he has seen enough. He asks for the names of the different parts (I don't know what everything in there is called, but I do my best) and we talk about what happens when you push the handle. Then at least once he needs to get down on the floor so he can see the water pipe coming from the floor and entering the tank.

I have never heard anyone else say that their kid was this interested in the workings of a toilet tank, although since both my boys have been so big on it, I am assuming there are other kids out there that like to see what is going on in that tank. One of the hidden mysteries of life!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Frugal Friday: Organizer boxes

When I was organizing my over-the-dryer cabinet a few months ago, I needed a little box in which to store some cleaning pads. I didn't have time to run to the store, and I wasn't sure they would have one as small as I needed anyway.

So I took an empty cardboard box and made one. I covered it with some decorative Con-tact® paper to make it look nicer and make it stronger. It turned out very nice, and I saved the money and time I would have had to spend finding the perfect box.

The other day, I decided that it would be better if the sides of the box were a bit taller. As I used and re-used the pads, they didn't want to stand up anymore, so I needed the box to support them so they wouldn't fall out and mess up my system! So I made a new one and took pictures this time. Here is what I did:

First, I cut one side off the box for my opening.

Then I taped the original opening closed. I'm just using a small piece of tape, because my box is getting very light duty.

I cut a piece of Con-tact® paper the size to wrap the box on two sides and the bottom, and overlap the edges a bit.

Then I peeled the backing away little by little, adhering it to the box. It's not perfect, but this isn't going to the State Fair. *grin* I also cut a second piece of paper to wrap around four sides of the box, this time missing the box bottom.

Here is the finished box, now holding my cleaning pads. (These are microfiber cleaning pads from FullerBrush, a gift from my mom.)

A couple of helpful hints: The sticky paper is not necessary, but it does help the boxes look nicer and keeps them sturdy. I could have instead used wrapping paper for looks, and reinforced the edges with packing tape. I have tried an off-brand of sticky paper that is supposed to act like Con-tact® paper, but it is more difficult to use, so I don't mind investing in a bit of the real thing. *smile*

The great thing about this project is that when I found that I needed a different box a few months later, I didn't have to go far to find a new one. It is really versatile, and if I re-organize later on, I just need to save a few boxes and I will have my own nearly free system ready!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Call Menus and Listening Skills

As a teaching mom, I get tired of explaining things to my kids and seeing their eyes glaze over. I know they are not with me. I will redirect them and say, "Are you listening?"

The answer is always something like, "Yeah. What'd you say?"

Or when I asked them to narrate back to me, a la Charotte Mason, I get a blank look, and if I hear anything, it is not related to what we just read. It is usually related to the picture on the front of the book.

It's aggravating, I know. But if you are in the same predicament, you might want to be a little easier on them. You might be doing the same thing yourself, but in an acceptable, adult manner.

Have you ever thought about this: How many times have you called a customer service line and had to listen to the computerized menu twice? Or thrice? I have to do that all the time. As soon as I press "one" for English, my focus slips down the drain like spaghetti. Somewhere between "three" and "four," I get hopelessly lost.

Now, what did they say? Was it "three" for account information? If I push "three", will I get a recording of my balance, or will they let me talk to someone? I really need to talk to someone. ..Oh, no! Now they are on "five"! What was "four"? Oh no, I think "four" was what I needed! Do I push "0" or "*" to make this thing repeat?

I wonder if you can still buy a rotary phone?
After thinking about this issue, I am resolved to be a little easier on my kids for their listening skills. I'm going let them push "*" to hear the menu again, and repeat with all the coolness of the computerized lady. I might even say, "Your call is valuable to me. Thank you for being a customer!"

And I really am going to look into getting a rotary phone.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Bible in a Year

Last year, I used a site similar to this one for my daily Bible reading. My goal was to read through the Bible in one year, and I accomplished that goal!

I found it hard to make a habit. I wanted to do it first thing in the morning, but after I had my coffee so I would be a more active reader, and perhaps remember what I had read, rather than just go through the motions! So I made a quick folder of bookmarks that encompassed everything I like to do online each day. The list included my email, Google Reader, some blogs that I can't read through Google Reader, and a freebie site I like to check daily. I put the Bible reading link at the top and my rule was that I could not move on to the rest of the links until I had my Bible reading finished. This really worked for me.

For more tips, visit Rocks In My Dryer.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Tot School: Gross Motor and etc.

Tot School

Here are a couple of things we did this week to challenge those big muscles...

I decided to share some picture of the gross motor stuff we do with Bubby as we go through the day. So often, I think we moms picture "school" with our little ones as some table time. They need to work on gross motor skills, too! Here are a couple of things we did this week to challenge those big muscles:

We called this one "Magic Carpet Ride." We used to do something similar in the laundry basket, which you can see in the picture. The blanket makes it a little more challenging, and it also makes mom worry less about possibly scratching the hardwood flooring! If you try this at home, use gentle starts and stops, but it can really work a little one's trunk muscles trying to balance. No standing up!

If this looks a bit chilly, sorry. We had a warm day, and the house was pretty warm, too. He had an afternoon bath, and he likes to have his "nekky" time!

I saw this next one in a book as a recommendation for a before-bed activity. I can see why they would say that; I'm sure it's supposed to be calming to a toddler, having that sensory input. Alas, Bubby loved it so much that he wanted to be a "papoosie" again and again, and went a bit crazy. So I don't think it would work for us for bedtime...but, hey, maybe someone else can use it. As it turned out, it is still a fun game! We laid the blanket out on the bed, put him on one side, and helped him roll up and unroll himself. The first couple of times, we unrolled immediately after rolling up, so he wouldn't get scared of being rolled up. I think he will get to the point where he can unroll himself. I remember that my brother and I had fun with this game as older kids!

Now for some other learning. Peanut has a book called Spot What. It is like the I Spy series of books. It seems a little busy for a toddler, but Bubby really loves this book and when Peanut will let him, he likes to sit with her and look at the pictures. Here they are getting in a little book time together. Bubby is in a verbal stage and he is learning new words all the time, and Peanut is so good to spend time with him naming things. In about five years, she is going to be a great babysitter!

I'm not really sure how I can make this educational, but Bubby loves my little sewing box that goes with my sewing machine. He loves taking the little feet out and putting them back. He doesn't put them back in the right spot; that is a little too difficult right now. This is something I need to explore further, because this little box can keep him busy for 30 minutes at a time!

Math Monday: Division with Place Value Blocks

Peanut is getting bogged down in division. She often has this problem with a new concept in math, or when using an old concept in a new way. I have learned that she needs to go into it gently, with me alongside, and then she will eventually get it. She does not do well with the "sink or swim" approach. It probably works with some kids, but not her.

We got out the old place value blocks this past week, and we are doing the beginning steps of long division with the blocks. This was tricky for me to figure out but we've got it for now. We use the dry erase board and work the problem out as we use the blocks for a concrete example of the problem. Currently, we are dividing by 2's, 3's, 4's, and 5's. It might get trickier this week as we step up to the larger single digits.

I am going to try to get up a "how-to" post about this during the week.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Bigger Library

I live in a medium-sized town near a metropolitan area. Our library is a nice place, very kid-friendly, has good programs, and they really try to be a help to all ages. But since they are small, they are not the greatest for homeschoolers, meaning that they do not have a huge selection of books, and what they do have is highly-utilized.

So every year, I invest in a paid library card to the large metro library system. The reason I am charged is because I do not live in the same county as the library, and my property taxes are not supporting the library. In my case, I pay $40 a year, which sounds pricy, but when you consider that if I can avoid buying just two $20 books each year, the card has paid for itself.

The library system has lots of great homeschooling books, and they are getting more all the time. They also have multiple copies of good quality children's literature, which means I usually don't have to wait longer than a week for the books I need for school. As with many libraries, they have an online catalog where I can request books from any library in the system, and go pick them up at the nearest branch. I don't have to go in and browse if I don't want to, and with a two-year-old to bring along, that is worth a great deal!

For more frugal tips, visit Biblical Womanhood's Frugal Fridays.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Dollhouse on a Budget

Here is something my daughter is just going to love. She and her dad are building a real dollhouse, but that is going to take a while to get up and running, because she is on a kid budget, and the furnishings are a little expensive. Here is something she wants to do in the meantime.

The Perfect Dollhouse- a cardboard dollhouse that can fit under the bed, filled with recycled creations. This site has directions on how to make many of the accessories, and although they are heavy on the tea boxes, they look very simple to make. (I'm mostly kidding, I know you can use other boxes. It's just funny to me that everything starts with a tea box!)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Works-For-Me Wednesday: Old Gift Bags

I always to save and reuse the pretty gift bags from Christmas, birthdays, and other holidays. Sometimes the bags become a little wrinkled and banged up from use, and they are not really gift-worthy anymore. When that happens, there are other uses for them.

  • The smaller ones make great lunch bags. Or use a larger one for a picnic lunch for the family.
  • Tote bag for a crochet or knitting project to take along with you.
  • Keep in the car as a semi-permanent trash bag.
  • Lay a larger bag flat for slipping a covered dish inside to bring to a potluck. Slip the serving utensil inside the bag too.
  • Organizer bag for a kids' toy with small pieces, such as a puzzle.
  • Emergency diaper bag, just to hold a diaper, wipes, and a juice cup.
  • Organizer for student "center" for kids. Keep scissors, staples, pencils, glue and markers all together in one place for daily use.
  • Hang a bag over the hook of a coathanger to hold the scarf, hat and mittens to go with each coat.
  • Keep one in the laundry room for mismatched socks while they wait for the next round of laundry to get done.
If you have any more uses, I'd love to read them in my comments section. For more tips, visit Rocks In My Dryer.

Get a Grip Kit for Math

This week, we decided to try something new. We bought a "Get a Grip Kit" some time ago. Peanut has started doing this as part of her math assignment each day. It does not go along with any certain curriculum, it is just an enrichment activity. Junior (7) has not expressed much interest in it, and I haven't required him to work on it, beyond showing him how to use it. It is just an additional activity.

The kit comes to you ready to go. You do not have to collect anything for it, but we did opt to provide our own lentils. It has small self-directed activity books, and the student writes the answers on separate paper. The problems get harder as you go along, the first book is very simple (working on greater than/less than problems.) The final book deal with decimals, percentages, fractions, and making a bar graph.

We are really liking this kit. The lentils also feel really nice, better than sand or something larger like pinto beans. It is designed for K - 6th grade.