Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Sick day

We have had more colds and flu's this year than I think I have had in my entire life. Thank you preschool! It is insane and very annoying. But here is a look at what a "sick day" looks like in our world.

These little guys got us our daily exercise when Momma just couldn't do more than hang on the couch!

What do you do to cope through a mommy sick day??

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Beet Roast

Do you like Beets?

We don't. I use them to juice. I will toss one in because I know it is good for us and provides nutrition and good stuff for our livers, but I can not really stand the taste. H4L flat out refuses to drink or eat anything with a beet in it.

Well, what are we to do when our vegetable co-op brings in for the week, more Beets than one family should possibly ever see?

Toss them in the compost bin? My H4L's suggestion.
Juice them all? I could never drink 50 beets this fast.
Roast them? hmmmm. My mom suggested and showed me how to do just this, and my oh my these gross little vegetable became quite delicious.

So here is what to do if you ever find yourself drowning in beets.
1. Wash them real good.
2. Dry them real good.
3. Cover them in a light coat of cooking oil (we used canola)
4. Dash them with good salt.
5. Place them in a pocket of aluminum foil (or in my case my clay baking pot)
6. Cover and roast at 400 degrees until a fork inserted goes in smooth as pie. (maybe an hour or two depending on beet size)
7. Remove from heat and cool.
8. Peel skin off, it just comes right off, pretty cool learning for the kids actually
9. Eat the now delicious used to be yucky vegetable!!!!

So easy. I was really surprised and very happy we did not have to waste a whole bunch of beets.

*I have also heard rumors of using beets in a chocolate cake, therefore making said chocolate cake healthy. hmmmm I will be exploring this soon.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Backyard Science

Every morning we try and hit the backyard for some fresh air and exploration time. Sometimes we fail and we just look through the window at the exploration possibilities as we rush off here or there, but I really try to get this time in. We never know what we are going to discover or encounter, but it is always something amazing.

Flowers climbing over the fence from the neighbor's yard.

A little backyard fishin'.

Big Sis DIVA's Beans. Now they live  where they can climb!
One amazingly beautiful morning this week, I opened the back door and let in the fun. We rushed out and found so many unplanned fascinating things to discover.

Some of our Backyard Science Tools. 
Big Sis DIVA loves flowers. We have a beautiful Gerbera daisy plant growing that she loves. On this specific morning, we had the privilege to be witness to a bug in "action". A real  live bug sipping on some nectar from Big Sis DIVA's favorite flower. It was really cool. I personally have never seen a bug "Eating" on a flower, live, so it was a real experience for me too.
Bug having some Breakfast!
We talked about the flower and the bug and flower nectar and dirt. I just kind of guided the conversation a tad and then let the questions flow from my tot. This invited us to explore more plants and flowers in the yard. On this adventure we came across snails hiding on leaves and snuggled down tight next to pretty purple flowers. We also happened across a REAL hatched egg and feathers.

Big Sis DIVA LOVES "baby eggs" so this was a real gem.
I love that we have a "classroom" right outside our backdoor. A place we can go and learn unstructured, un-planned, un-censored. Just soaking up nature and knowledge and life, together.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A flower is an educated weed.

A quote I ran across recently, really sums up our lessons this last week. Thank you Luther Burbank for letting me borrow "A Flower is an educated weed."
Growing from within the "Earth"
Learning best in the "Earth"

I know my kid is only 3 years old. I know she is not in school. I know she has a short attention span. I know the majority of her learning at this age is through playing and experiencing. When I talk about our lessons, please know I'm not strapping my kid down to a chair and demanding she read a novel and write a short story. I do not expect her, nor do I want her to be at a level that far surpasses her age. We are simply spending 5 to 10 minutes here or there throughout a given time of day in what we call "school time". All electronics are turned off at 9am and we "play" and "learn" through many different mediums for the next 3 hours. Many times I do not even think my kids pay attention to the "lessons" I have for them. But I chug along because the most important thing I want them to gain at this point is routine, a passion for knowledge and the skills to absorb information and learn. Oh and I really enjoy spending this uninterrupted time with m kids too. For me and them.
Learning letters at breakfast
That being said, it always makes me so happy to see when my Big Sis DIVA has actually paid attention and in fact IS absorbing the information I am teaching and not just gaining skills to use her mind later. This week we learned about Earth. I talked to her about it and she would respond here or there or give me that blank 3 year old stare. We just continued on and I hoped for the best. Then at my parents over the weekend, Big Sis DIVA noticed a glass clear globe, an Earth. She looked at it from across the room and without be provoked and shouted, "Earth". Then proceeded to tell her Gah that Earth was a planet. I was tickled that she had learned AND retained the knowledge of the week.
Learning to sort Trash, courtesy of Classroom Freebies Too
I printed a Stash of play dough mat's a while back. This one fit perfectly!
We are spending two weeks covering the same theme. Earth, Recycling and Nature. You might can see why; that is a ton of topics and could go on forever. I wanted to cover earth day in our lessons, but I also wanted Big Sis DIVA and Princess Pork Chop to be introduced to Earth as a planet and to get out and see some nature. So, I structured the 2 week period to encompass all of it.

While out strolling in nature, we were lucky enough to watch a nasty storm roll  in. Complete with  impressive clouds and noise. Part of "Earth's" activities.
We had to taste the rain of course!
This week we looked at the Earth in all its forms. Pictures of the planet Earth. Dirt, by looking into the sky and discussing where we are. you name it. If I could fit Earth into the conversation I did. We talked about recycling and not being wasteful. We also spent a lot of time outside playing in the dirt, becoming one with nature. Honestly we did not have a lot of classroom time this week. We explored more out in nature and discussed life as it happens. I think that is the best way to learn, personally.
We found a small ant hill and watched as the ants worked in the "Earth"
This little guy snuck up close to Big Sis DIVA's foot. He caused quite a scare and was  deemed the "scariest  monster" ever.
We are hanging this one in our classroom this week to accompany our lessons, thanks to  Teachers pay Teachers

Saturday, April 14, 2012

I have a Princess...theme week


Big Sis DIVA and I at Disney on Ice!

Big Sis DIVA has never been a girly girl. She has never showed a real interest in the Princess side of being a little girl. She prefers to flip the carriage over and inspect the wheel base to see if it was built properly. We go with it. Individuality.

A few weeks back, Big Sis DIVA awoke from nap and our world changed. She was all princess. She now wants to wear princess dresses, princess shoes, princess hair. She has a baby doll she has to cuddle and love and feed and dress. She wants make-up and purses and pretty girly things. This is a huge change. I have no idea why or where she found this change, but we roll with it.

I found this great Princess Lessons theme pack a while back for momma school. I saved it but figured Big Sis DIVA would not ever be interested or repsonsive to it, and thought perhaps I would pull it out of Princess Pork Chop at a later date. I was tickled pink when Big Sis DIVA developed her passion for purple tutu's and all things girly, because I knew we could use the Princess Theme pack. It is the small things that make me happy. :)

I chose "Princess" as our theme for this last week for several reasons. One, it was right after Easter, so I knew I would have lots of pinky pastel things leftover to princess"ify". Two, we had already scheduled a fabulous play date field trip to Disney on Ice for Friday. What better way to end Princess week, right? And lastly, I really wanted to take advantage of Big Sis DIVA being on a girly kick, and have fun with it.

Here is a pictorial rundown of our week:

Here we are, playing "Cinderella".

Rapunzel Pork Chop in her "tower"

Thanks to 1plus1plus1equals1, We have great Princess lesson material which I have printed, laminated and prepared for use each day during our class time.

Reading Library books. We had 3 trips to the library this week. :)

It was a pretty easy lesson week. We used the letter "P" and the colors Pink and Purple. We also spent time working on our first and last name again. The spelling and proper way to say it. We also worked on our phone number, the date, etc. We spent a lot of time outside this week just exploring the backyard using backyard science, and playing, playing, playing. The weather was beautiful, so we wanted to soak it all in. Because we were outside so much this week, we didn't do any crafts. But I did have some planned. We just ignored them and played in the sunshine instead.

Princess week was a success. I did not use all of my prepared materials, so I think we might have Princess week again in month or two because we had so much fun with it. And the possibilties for lessons are endless, so, some more pinterest princess hunting might be in order.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

"Momma School"

I have made a decision. I am about 97% sure I will be homeschooling my tots. I have come to this decision after doing a good amount of research on the process of homeschool, the outcomes, the how and the whys. I am by no means done with my research, nor will I ever be, but at this point, this is the path we are going to take. (Before I get attacked by anti-homeschool folks, please know we are keeping our options open and still applying to the local schools just as we would if homeschool was not a possibility.)

I am also not an ignorant parent. I do know that this path is not for everyone. Lucky for us, I have found this option early on and I am willing to do it by choice, not necessity. Big Sis DIVA is not even allowed to enter kindergarten until 2014 based on her birthdate. So, we have the next 2 whole years to practice homeschool on a preschool level. I mean really, if we can master a good working environment for learning at the preschool level, we can master anything. So we have merged our lives into this plan.

The last few months I have been testing the waters. We have set up a solid routine for "momma school" as it has been rendered by Big Sis DIVA. I spend a little time each week preparing a "lesson plan". This is not a rigorous outline that rules our day by any means. My kid is 3. Play still centers our world, but this is more of a nice list of activities and ideas that I can reference to keep us structured. It acts as a guide to keep me on track and to help when I need a little something to entertain a tot a quick notice. I have a box prepared each week that coordinates to this lesson plan. Inside the box I place all the supplies needed for the exercises and activities on that weeks lesson plan. This can be worksheets, art supplies, printouts of songs and games, etc. At any point during the week we can hit the box and our supplies for any given fun learning are there at our fingertips.

I am slowly implementing a strict time routine. I want there to always be free thinking and learning, but I also believe that there is a designated play time and a work time. Granted, at this young age of 3 our "play"time is far greater than work time, we still are going to adhere to a schedule. Schedules work well for us in other areas and by having a schedule those around us who do not homeschool can understand our time restraints with ease. We have 3 hours a day that are specific for school. Currently, from 9am to noon. We don't have lessons this whole time, but we are engaging in learning with each other during this time. No cell phones, no TV, no Internet unless it is for a lesson. These 3 hours are for momma and tot uninterrupted learning and playing time.

4 days a week we have guided mommy school. At 9am the TV is shut off until after dinner and we start our lessons. Some days find us outside doing backyard science, some days find us in the playroom being architects with Lego's, and some days we have actual worksheet lessons and some other days find us on field trips to playdates for social skills or other places we visit to see and learn in our community. It varies from day to day, lesson to lesson, as I seek out what works best for us. But we do stay on track and from 9am to noon each day we are learning and engaging in something with each other.

Although the day to day activity can vary, we do have our "Daily's" that stay constant. We also have a theme each week which helps solidify the conglomerate of learning we have each week. Our "daily's" open each day with a check of the weather outside that we report on a weather chart in our classroom. We discuss what day of the week, the month, the date, the season, the year it is. We also go over our first and last name for phonics and spelling, and our address and phone number. And we do a letter of the week now, so we work on words that start with this letter or draw the letter on the chalkboard. I also have started doing a concept each week for life skills. Such as table manners or bathroom hygiene. Simple things we already know but I just emphasize them and expand on them as needed. And we also work on a academic concept throughout the whole week. Such as left versus right, or spacial understanding. The latter two are used throughout the whole week and whole day, not in structured learning but rather as they came about in the daily happenings.

I found in my research that the state of Texas has no real regulations for homeschool (I do plan on keeping substantial records and have been looking at ways to do this), but they do require studies in 5 areas. I'm working on structuring our preschool to coincide with this structure, so that transition to school age learning flows right in. Right now, we work on science/math, reading/language, arts/crafts, life skills, and outdoor play. Some days we hit all 5 areas, some times we work on only one area all week. Over time we will gradually switch to areas that are more similar to what the state requires.

So that is what has been going on here in my world in regards to school and education. I welcome any input or thoughts or resources you might have. I am learning and new to this and would like to gain all the knowledge and know how I can, so that I may provide my children with the best I can give them.

11 months old???

How the hell did this happen?

Princess Pork Chop is only 1 month shy of being an entire year old. An ENTIRE YEAR OLD!!! It is insane! I just can not believe it.

So up to date Princess Pork Chop is eating like a normal little human. There is nothing this child wont eat. We do not make her special food. Whatever we eat, she eats, just in smaller bites. But I tell you, she can put away some food. She eats more than Big Sis DIVA by plates. She has 8 teeth right now possibly working on a couple more, if the drool indicates anything. She sleeps through the night. Bed time is 630-7pm and she sleeps until 630 ish the next morning. Now, she will wake up around midnight some nights, but it is only when she is cutting a tooth or takes a big nasty dump in her sleep. I know TMI, but it happens.

What else. She says Mama, Baba (bottle) and has a full range of other words that we have no idea what they are. Grunt was not offered as a foreign language back in my day. I have no idea her weight but she is wearing 12 month clothes. And she refuses to drink ANYTHING but formula. She only uses a sippy cup as a chew toy and will not drink anything BUT formula from a bottle. So unlike her sister who willingly, actually demanded to give up a bottle at 6 months old. She hates all juice and hates water and hates cows milk and hates other milks. So, formula in a bottle it is for some time yet.

11 months old. How is it possible???

Monday, April 9, 2012

E is for Easter, and Eggs, and Everything!!!

Last week in mommy school we had an Easter theme. Who didn't? I mean, holidays make curriculum planning super easy. This last week I did something a little different than we have been doing in previous months. Instead of using a different letter to learn about each day, I chose to keep the same letter the whole week. And it worked awesome. It simplified preparing for the week and made those spur-of-the-moment lessons less intimidating.

All week long we followed activities and lessons that centered around Easter and/or the letter E. And of course a few other topics as we encountered them.

Getting into the Easter spirit, we planted magic beans, thanks to Pinterest for linking us to the blog, See Jane Blog idea.The Easter Bunny just had to sprinkle the magic beans with a bit of Easter magic so our beans could grow in to magic candy sticks! My kid is 3. After we planted the beans she lost interest and never looked back. I will try this again next year.

Gah came over for an "art" lesson in how to Dye Easter eggs. Taught by the famous Big Sis DIVA of course.

We learned about the letter "E" in conjunction with our Easter theme. Surprised? A lot of Excitement was had all week long.

"E"lmo helped us a lot this week. Princess Pork Chop and Elmo are really great friends!

We started the week off with a science experiment. We made "E"ggshells disappear. This particular exercise takes several days so it also helped us work on one of our life skills, "patience". We dropped an uncooked egg into a mason jar filled with white vinegar. I recall this experiment from my childhood, but if you would like directions, here is a good source. Immediately the egg begins to bubble. This is very exciting for a 3 year old. Big Sis DIVA checked in on her egg many, many times throughout the day to see it "hatching" as she called it. By the end of the week we had a wonderful egg with out a shell that resembled a rubber ball. WEE were able to see the inside of the egg too. I like this exercise because it can reach a wide variety of age groups. We will be able to repeat this many time at many different educational stages to gain very different perspectives of the experiment.

Throughout playtime I try and work our letters and our theme of the week in at various points during the day. During morning Lego time, we made super big letter E!

As a Family, we have made the choice to live better and eat healthier. We are really big into juicing our veggies and living healthy and trying to teach the girls about this. Well this lifestyle change has also entered our playtime. I found the girls and daddy making a "pig" juicer during Lego time!

Princess Pork Chop has her own social circle developing. She attends a weekly playgroup all of her own, without Big Sis DIVA. This week, in Egg theme, I put together balloons filled with various sensory items. Flour, sugar, rice, beans, etc. I was so proud of myself. But the babies just wanted to eat the balloons. FAIL!!!

These were a ton of fun. We made these cracked eggs, or Dinosaur eggs. I got the idea from Pinterest. They were really easy and looked so awesome. Still didn't get Big Sis DIVA to eat a boiled egg, but Princess Pork Chop and H4L had no problem packing away the dinosaur eggs.

And no week is complete without coloring. I honestly do not remember where I found these coloring sheets. Somewhere on pinterest I am sure. I just printed out a few and we colored throughout the week.

Mommy School is always developing here at Pink Haired Momma's. We try to have science, math, reading and life skills each week. How we work these areas into our daily world varies and grows right along with my tots. Learning never stops, and never does our mommy school. We are always striving to learn more!

Blog Widget by LinkWithin