Sunday, September 29, 2013

Tuesday Tea

This year we have added a few special days to our weekly routine.  On Tuesdays, the girls and I have tea in the afternoon after Lil Sis wakes from her nap.  They play pretend tea party with their play tea set often, so to really have this time with real tea and dishes was a sweet highlight to their week.   

We have had great fun gathering tea accessories from thrift stores over the past couple of months anticipating our Tuesday Teas.

During tea, we discussed our favorite poetry which happens to be Mother Goose's Nursery Rhymes at this time.  I so wish I had a recording of this week's tea.  They had me in stitches as they were doing their best to behave and speak properly.  This was indeed one of our most joyous events of the week.

Why do I love this pic?  Big Sis snapped it of her place setting.

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Sunday, September 22, 2013

We're Going On a Bear Hunt

This is a title covered in Before Five In a Row which both girls are doing together this year.  This happens to be a favorite around here!  Lots of pretend bear hunts took place this week.

Story Discovery Bottles
I created discovery bottles by filling water bottles with objects to portray each of the things the family had to walk through on their hunt.  I heard lots of swishy swashy and squelch squerch this week!

Sequencing Cards for the story from Sparkle Box

Real Bear Pretend Bear Sort
There were lots of great discussions as we did this together.  This was a great introduction to classification for Lil Sis. This actually wound up being one of her favorite go-to activities.

Lil Sis shaking her favorite...the mud bottle!

Big Sis Reading and Sequencing

This was a typical occurrence throughout the week.  Big Sis would read the story and Lil Sis would find the bottle and shake it to go along with the sound that Big Sis was reading.

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Friday, September 20, 2013

The Plan

You all haven't heard from us in quite some time.  During this time, I've been pondering and debating about keeping the blog.  I love sharing what we do and all of our crazy-little-cute pics, but it takes T-I-M-E!  You know that precious commodity that there never seems to be enough of?  

After talking things over with my hubby, we decided that the number one priority is the girls and their schooling.  If I have time at the end of it all then blog about it, but just not in the detail that I did last year.  My husband loves the chronicle of our homeschool and we feel that the girls will delight in looking back on it some day, but it is rather difficult to teach with a camera in your hand. It also takes time to filter through all those pics to portray your thoughts and ideas on the blog.  So, my new focus is to share an activity, a theme, or an idea that worked really well in our homeschool instead of chronicling our entire week.  It may fall weekly sometimes and sometimes it may not.  Other weeks, I may share a couple of things we did.  It may be just a pic with a sentence or two.  It just really depends on how things go in our little nest.

We started with our official school time two weeks ago and it has been a wild ride trying to set and follow our routine.  Lil Sis who is now 2 1/2 is fully aware of the time that Big Sis gets with schooling and is now daily demanding her circle time and one-on-one time.  Last year, she could have cared less about it when her busy-little-toddling-self was all about making messes with Big Sis' stuff.   Big Sis is on the verge of becoming a reader and is as enthusiastic as ever about doing school.  The curiosity, the creativity, and the desire to learn in these two little bundles of energy is bringing such joy to this teacher-mama's heart.  With all that said, meet my sweet little class...

Lil Sis and Big Sis

Lil Sis is 2 1/2 and she will be doing Tot School this year.  My primary focus with her is exposure and vocabulary development.  I am using 1+1+1=1's Tot School Printables primarily.  She also does Bible, Circle Time, Before Five In a Row (BFIAR) and themes/theme trays with Big Sis. 

Big Sis is now 4 years and 9 months.  She is not quite Kindergarten age, but is so ready for the structured learning time. I am doing what I call Jr. Kindergarten with her.  I'm doing basically what I did when I taught Kindergarten, but following her pace and her lead as we go.  After we complete the plan that I have mapped out, we'll assess where to go from there.  I'm not obsessing about placing a grade or a time frame on her.  I want her to continue to grow in her curiosity and enthusiasm for learning.  This is what I am using with her this year:

This gives you an idea of just how much fun we have!
We also have a few other fun things planned in our weekly schedule to enrich our learning...
  • Tuesday Tea - To discuss our favorite poetry, which is basically Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes right now!
  • Story Time at the Library- It always ends with a neat craft and a book hunt for literature to enhance our learning theme.
  • Mom's Group - We host this on Friday mornings to connect with other moms and their children.
  • Friday Night Candle Light - We have candle light dinner as a family, practice our best manners while listening to classical music, and discussing our week.

What a week! What are some fun, enriching activities that you add to your schedule each week?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Red, White, and Blue Summer School

I have two little patriots in the making!  My girls love the American Flag so much that it has turned into a game to see who can spot American flags when we are driving.  Building on their interest, I chose a Red, White, and Blue Patriotic theme as our first theme of Summer School.  We started our theme for Memorial Day.  We've had Flag Day and we will be finishing up at the end of this week with the 4th of July.  Following are some activities that have been available to the girls during this time.  

Transferring Flags
Lil Sis matched the flags to the holes of the reused spice container.

Folding the American Flag
I introduced this work to Big Sis on Flag Day.  I took apart a small flag that I found at the Dollar Tree, Googled How to Fold the American Flag, and printed out the directions.  She has almost gotten this work.  It gets difficult for her to keep the triangle fold lined up with the slippery fabric.

Transferring, Counting, and Ordering
This tray was multi-purpose.  Sometimes the flags were matched to the stars.  Other times a star with a number was drawn and that many flags were matched to the tray.  We also practiced ordering the stars by number and matching flags one-to-one.

Patriotic Floral Arrangement
Big Sis had the most fun with this.  She arranged the flowers on the foam in various ways.  I wish I would have gotten a pic of one of her creations.

Tweezing and Transferring Twinkles
Lil Sis calls stars twinkles, because her favorite tune happens to be...  You guessed it!  Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.  She was not fond of the tweezing alligator.  She much preferred using her own pinchers to do the work.  I would challenge Big Sis to use the tweezers though.

USA Map Puzzle
Am I the only person that scavenges the toy sections at TJMaxx, Ross, and Marshalls looking for bargains on Melissa & Doug items?  Big Sis loves this puzzle.  I was quite impressed with her memorization of where each state goes into the puzzle.  I especially like this puzzle, because the pieces are shaped like the state.

Weaving Basket
This is a reused produce basket with various weaving materials for the slots on the basket.

Spooning and Sorting
I used red, white, and blue star erasers and a three part tray with a matching colored star taped to each section.  The girls would spoon the erasers and drop them into the correct section of the tray as they sorted by color.  This was Lil Sis' favorite activity.

Tweezing Flowers
I took apart a patriotic colored lei and the girls tweezed and transferred the silk flowers to another bowl.

Red, White, & Blue Playdough Tray
Playdough is a favorite at our house, so I always try to incorporate it into our theme.  Lots of red, white, and blue creations here!

The Girlies in Action

 I love how they sorted the flowers from the floral arrangement tray with the stars by color also.

 We also added a little Patriotic flair to our classroom.  In our study, we have also been learning America's symbols, landmarks and patriotic songs.  I think our favorite song so far is I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy! :)

We used the back of our over-sized chair in the living room as a shelf just for our patriotic books.  We've had some great reads and discussions about the flag, various states, and presidents as we relaxed .  I think that I will do this with all of our theme books from now many sweet teachable moments.

You can probably guess how they feel about their American flag swimsuits!  Aren't they the cutest!?!

 We are going to finish off our patriotic theme with some 4th of July crafts this week.  Hope you all have a wonderful 4th!  How will you be making memories with your little ones this 4th?

For more Red, White, and Blue ideas visit my Pinterest Board with all types of patriotic ideas for the kiddos and your home.

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Thursday, June 20, 2013

5 Ways I Want to Leave a Legacy for My Children

When I hear the word legacy, my mind immediately goes to images such as this...

Photo Credit:  Antique Images

I have been pondering this legacy stuff for some time.  I remember when I first heard Nicole Nordeman's song, my soul resonated with a deep longing as she sang, 

"I want to leave a legacy
How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love?
Did I point to You enough
To make a mark on things?
I want to leave an offering
A child of mercy and grace
Who blessed Your name unapologetically
And leave that kind of legacy."

Having little ones again has stirred the legacy stuff  in me.  Some days it almost feels like I get a "do over" as a parent and other days it feels like "can I mess up any more?"  Regardless of what the day looks like, I know what I want the future to look like.  I want to leave a legacy!  As I looked back in my journal, I have been scribbling notes about this since April.  I compiled all my doodles into a final draft.  This is what I pray my heart reflects to my future generations.  May you be inspired to think about the legacy you're leaving...

5 Ways I Want to Leave a Legacy for My Children

1.     To Esteem and Cultivate Loving Relationships
·       Especially among family – The girls are best friends and Big Brother and Sissy are always watching out for them.
·       Grandparents are a treasure.
·       Aunts, Uncles and Cousins are important parts of your life that you will share all the special moments and seasons of your life with.
·       Friends are gifts from God.

2.      To Remain in Vibrant, Active Faith
·       Always believing that today is a great day and that something good is going to happen to you today.
·       Always believing that God is working everything out for your good.
·       Always seeing and believing the best in people and circumstances.

3.      To Have a Sense of Fully Living and Enjoying Life
·       To not be distracted, but to live in the moment.
·       To recognize and to make the most of the moments and times that will soon pass away.

4.      To Differentiate Wisely and Effectively Between What Really Matters and What Will Soon Pass Away
·       To live a life that emphasizes what really matters.
-        People not things.
-        Leaving a legacy for future generations… whether it is making a wise choice over foolish alternatives or caring for the earth, nature, or our home.

5.      To Cultivate an Appreciation and Desire for Beauty and Adventure
·       Beauty can be found every where... in a good book, a beautiful picture, a freshly picked flower, a finely set table…dream of the beautiful.
·       Adventure can be found in great books and all sorts of activities that lie in nature…a hike in the forest, an overnight camping trip, wiggling your toes in a babbling brook while looking for rocks to add to your collection.

Some day I will be the vintage image, the ancestor, that passes on something special to her future generations.  My legacy will live through my children.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

7 Things I Learned My First Year as a SAHM

Oh my goodness!  After making the decision to leave my job as a teacher of 15 years, I didn't realize what a student I would become of myself and my family this first year as a stay-at-home-mom.  I learned a great deal about myself and the often unrealistic expectations that I set for myself.  I am approaching my second year with more ease and more wisdom behind me and I am looking forward to what is ahead.  I hope that you find hope and encouragement from the lessons that I learned in my first year as a SAHM.

1.  I prefer routine over a schedule.
As a teacher, I lived every minute of my day by the clock literally.  I gravitated to what was familiar and scheduled our days and our weeks just the same.  I soon found myself in an inward turmoil trying to keep up.  When I realized that I was the only one who had set these ridiculous unrealistic expectations for myself , I relaxed.  That's when routines came into play at our house.  Boy, do my girls love routines!  Our routines are a sequential order of things that we do throughout the day without the stress of the clock.  The girls are fully aware of what comes next in our routine and, oh my, don't even consider skipping anything!

2.  As hard as I try, I am not a morning person {yet}!
I admire those who are morning people.  It is a deep desire of mine to be have devotionals, to exercise, to be dressed for the day, and to have the wonderful aromas of my cooking breakfast wafting down the hall to wake my slumbering family.  I tried...tried really hard to make it happen.  I would get as far as two or three days with each attempt before finding myself waking up with the kiddos again.  I could give in to the old adage, I'm not a morning person!  But, on the mornings that I did conquer, those days went much more smoothly.  I felt better equipped and ready to take on whatever came my way.  

3.  I need time to myself.
That may sound selfish, but really it's not.  I (we all) need time to hit Reset.  My husband and I decided on an evening each week that I could leave the house by myself  while he stays behind to take care of the dinner dishes and baths.  Sometimes, I meet a friend for a cup of coffee and a chat.  Other times, I find myself at the bookstore alone flipping through a beautiful magazine.  It's my time to breathe without anyone expecting anything from me.

4.  It's okay to take time for myself.
Guilt had me trapped in this area when I was working.  I couldn't bring myself to leave the girls after having worked all day/week while they were in daycare.  I'm realizing now that it's not only good for me to take that time, but that it's also a good for them.  They have a time to connect with daddy while I take mommy time.

5.  I'll never finish it all in a day.
I have been one of those moms that try to get it all done before I go to bed...empty kitchen sink...pillows fluffed on the couch.  I soon realized that was not going to happen being at home all day with the girls and really living in our house.  There will always be one more thing that needs to be done and unless I'm going to go without sleep, it's not going to happen.  Our home is very lived in and every square inch is put to use.  I will not have the showcase house that I dreamed of before the pitter-patter of little feet.  Our house is a home.  I love that and would not trade it for anything!

6.  Intentional motherhood is not easy.
Intentional motherhood is about knowing what kind of person you want your child to become and being intentional about helping her become that person through your parenting, training, and nurturing.  It's also about being present in the moments that you live with your children...not being disconnected or distracted, but fully alive and aware of the time and experiences that you are having with them.  This is my heart's desire, but I have to admit...It. Is. Not. Easy!  Some days, it's a score!  Other days, it is a miserable failure!  I need God's grace every day to pick up the pieces and to start over again regardless of what the day before looked like.  I am thankful that His mercies are new every morning!

7.  I'm selfish.

I saved this one for last, because I find it kind of  hard to admit.  I have always considered myself to be a pretty patient person.  Well, I soon found myself plagued with impatience and frustration.  I searched for the answer as to why these emotions were raring their ugly heads.  The answer...impatience and frustration are fueled by selfishness.  I was appalled!  Me, selfish?!?  Then I started recounting instances where my interests were frequently being disrupted and my response...impatience, frustration.  In other words, don't count on doing anything I want to do during the kiddos' waking hours.  I found peace with the realization that this is a season and that  it too shall pass as the girls get older and become more independent.

It has been an amazing first leg of this journey!  I feel more equipped each day as I surrender not just my weaknesses, my failures, and my insecurities, but also my strengths, my abilities, and my successes.  God is truly able to make all grace abound so that in all things and at all times we have everything that we need (2 Corinthians 9:8).  I wonder what lessons lie ahead on the next leg of this journey called motherhood?

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Summer Brain Breaks

I have this little one that is 4 years old and loves "doing school" with Mommy.  It's summertime!  I need a break from planning!  I had to think of something quick to fill in the gap of our routine where we usually did "school."

Surely I can find something on these shelves and in these cabinets to do!
I looked over our shelf and began to jot down on slips of paper every game, every object, every learning resource that we have inside and outside that the girls don't usually freely play with.  I placed the strips of paper in a jar and  labeled it "Summer Brain Breaks."  

Each day, the girls take turns pulling a slip from the jar and we do that activity as part of our summer school routine.  They love it!  We have done some things that I have forgotten we had or haven't gotten to in a while.  Some days we do two activities.  I think the best part for them is to shake up the jar and to pull out the slip of paper as we say, "Summer Brain Break," in a crazy echoish voice!  Silly, I know, but they love it! 

What are some of your quick and easy ideas to give your teacher-mommy brain a break this summer?

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Monday, June 3, 2013

Making the Most of Summer

What is ahead for us this summer?  Lots of learning and adventuring over here at Nestpirations!  We have officially made the decision that we will be a homeschooling family as long as the word remains and the grace to do it accompanies that word.  Since I have taken on the responsibility of educating my girls, I have learned that homeschooling is not a period in the day.  Homeschooling is a lifestyle.  Everything is a learning experience or can easily be turned into one.  I {heart} this!  Although my girls are only 2 and 4, I see that already being nurtured in them.  They love to learn!  They love me being their teacher and I love teaching them!  Our days will look a little bit different for the summer than they have.  I interviewed the girls and have observed their likes and dislikes over the course of the year and from that I gleaned what our focus will be for summer.  

The first part of our summer will be spent learning America's symbols and patriotic songs.  I have two little patriots in the making even without me being intentional about it.  They love the American flag!  I thought we would build on that with a Red, White, and Blue Patriotic Theme that will lead us into the 4th of July.

The second half of summer, we will study Ocean Life with a Beach Theme.  Big Sis remembers our day trip to the beach last year and periodically asks when we are going again.  One of the girls' favorite things is to play Shark with Daddy, so I thought we would learn about other ocean life through an ABC approach while compiling our own ABC book.

Big Sis on our beach trip last summer.

Big Sis has also requested to learn more about Jesus.  What a thrill for this Mommy!  So, we will focus our Bible time on stories of Jesus.

Sound fun?  

When I started this blog, I had so many ideas about what I wanted to share here.  With this being my first year as a SAHM who decided to home preschool with her littles, I had a lot to learn about planning, time management, keeping up with housework, cooking three meals a day, and all the things that can come up in a day.  So, needless to say, all my ideas got put on the back burner so that I could find my footing in this new adventure.  I found myself sharing just our homeschooling adventures with just a little of my heart sprinkled here and there throughout my posts.  I hope to share more of my heart with you this summer and perhaps bring a little light, hope, and encouragement your way.  So, stay tuned and check back with us throughout the summer!

Friday, May 31, 2013

African Animals with Letter Z and O

It has been very difficult for me to get to our post on our schooling, because we'd rather be doing this...

Or this...

Or this and this...

Needless to say, I didn't take very many pictures of our schooling time. I didn't even get the before pics of activities before they jumped in and started doing them.  Big Sis finished up with her final two letters of the alphabet.  We studied African animals as we learned Z is for zebra and O is for ostrich.

African Animal Theme Basket

These are just a few of our activities:

  • Match the number of animals to the correct number by cutting and pasting.  The girl loves to cut and paste, so this is a joy for her!
  • Roll and Graph Z
  • Roll and Mark African Animal Race - When we were done we had a comparison conversation of the race results.
  • We also did our usual letter identification activities and phonemic awareness activities using animal names.

We worked on an African Animal Poster as our theme project.  I drew the shape of the African continent on the poster and she cut out animals and glued them to the poster.  We would then read about these animals in books that we have or on National Geographic.  She loves her poster and it is still hanging in our classroom and is referred to often as these two little girls love the concept of animals, but not the real thing so much!  Lil Sis won't even touch the play crocodile!

Big Sis Teaching Lil Sis about Animals

Lil Sis loves Baby Elephant

Matching African Animals from Noah's Ark

African Animal Blocks Ready for Bowling!

Bowling for Animals