Monday, August 31, 2009

Fun at the Arcade

Tonight was Brandon's last night before he has to go back to California. We went to a pizza place and played the arcade. Hunter did really good at the Nickelodeon racing game (partially because you can't fall off the edges in this one) and played a shooting game, too.

He loves the shooting games, of course. They weren't too graphic which is always a plus. He doesn't usually get to play games like this so this was a fun little evening for him.

We are going to both miss Brandon a lot while we wait for housing (still don't have any idea how long it will take) but we are excited and know that we will be seeing him again soon.

"And I will shoot three arrows on the side thereof, as though I shot at a mark."
1 Samuel 20:20

Hunter is 4 years, 5 months old

Friday, August 28, 2009

Welcome to Our Room, Part 5

(This is part 5 of the series. For part 1 click here.) 

This is my desk. I got this at Ikea three years ago and I adore it. It works so well for me and is so functional. I have set it up to be perfect for doing all my Doman materials and planning, although I wish my use of it was as picture perfect as this little scene (it usually doesn't look this organized. Just so you know.)

To the left of my desk is a file cabinet. It holds flashcards exclusively, both those that are in progress (this is the majority, unfortunately) those that are ready to be used, and those that have been retired. On top of the file cabinet is a 3x5 organization system that contains addresses, passwords, to-do's, journals, and a lot of other things (I use a system similar to, but got the original idea after reading The Happiness File, a sequel of Pam Young and Peggy Jones' first book)

Under the desk are my other files, and the pink bins contain mostly flashcard supplies (page protectors, extra folders, cardstock, and lamination roles). The top right drawer holds electronics and camera supplies.

Close-ups of desk: This is one of my favorite things about this desk - the file racks that you see to the left. The shelves are "To File", "To Do", and "Documents", and the bottom two are blank (right now they are holding various larger projects in them). I love this so much because it eliminates desk clutter (when I use it right, at least), because instead of just tossing papers on my desk, I toss them up there, and usually work on them / clean them out once a week (in theory). Under those file holders is a blank CD tub and my handy-dandy pencil-can-on-steroids, containing everything from pencils and pens to paper clips, exacto knives, rubber bands, a calculator, ruler, and any other little thing I might need. This tends to get pretty cluttered too, and would probably be a lot more magnificent if I always put my stuff away where it belongs (which I don't).

On the top shelf you will see my other "system" - binders. I haven't been using these as effectively as I would like but the binders currently are these subjects, respectively - Childcare Business, Blog, Prayer Journal, Goal Journal, Website, Wedding, Lesson Plans, "Home Journal" (menus, emergency plans, etc.), and Hunter's Ancient History Timeline. In a perfect world these binders would get their ideal use. But in all honesty, well... some of them are more along the lines of "nice idea" than functional reality. And, those little white boxes right there? Well, one of them is extra office supplies (extra ink, staples, pens, etc.) and the other one is labeled "treats". Yep. It's my secret stash of chocolates, gum, and whatever other sweet-tooth curer that finds its way there.

Directly below on the middle shelf is a little organizer for making flashcards. The top shelf holds a Newton's Cradle and some pocket foreign language dictionaries (SpanishFrenchGerman, and Sign Language). The next two shelves hold card stock and lamination rolls.

On the desk directly below are some plastic drawers with "works in progress" flashcards at different stages of development, as well as card stock scraps for making small flashcards. On top of the drawer unit is tape, a pencil sharpener, stapler, timer, and a bin for holding copy paper, notebook paper, and envelopes. To the right of the drawer unit is a stand-up vertical file organizer, which holds more works in progress (right now, President bits, and some folders with coloring pages and worksheets in them).

From the top: to the left we have some picture frames, flowers, figurines, and a plaque. I find that I work so much better when my work area is pleasant (now only to solve the inevitable clutter problem that seems to constantly sneak up on me). Hiding behind those frames is a bunch of unused jewelry (I'm not that organized!) To the left are my fancy drawing supplies - the bottom suitcase is an organized holder with lots of pencils, charcoal, fancy erasers, pastels, etc. The old tackle box harbors more supplies, and under that is a sketch book and extra-large sketch paper. I drew a lot as a child and even all the way up through high school, but amazingly enough, I haven't touched those supplies in years. But they sure look pretty.

On the middle shelf are books I reference a lot, or am currently reading. There is a mayonnaise jar filled with coins on the end to serve as a makeshift bookend. Below that are some more pictures, a mini monthly calendar, and my printer / scanner / copier / fax machine. Which mostly just gets used for scanning (as the ink price is atrocious, so I use another printer). To the left is my laptop, and behind that are some little office organizers for catching scraps of paper with notes on them. I tend to collect a lot of little mental notes on every possible subject, so this helps keep me sane.

Above is my magnetic dry erase board, another fantastic feature of this desk. It holds a calendar (which I just made, set for next month), some random notes, and a 3x5 organizer specifically for blogging notes. This tends to get cluttered a lot, too.

And... this marks the end of our little room tour. Hope you enjoyed it!

"He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good..." 
Micah 6:8

Hunter is 4 years, 5 months old

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Welcome to our Room, Part 4

(This is part 4 of the series. For part 1 click here.) 

This is "my" side of the room, per se. The obvious and main components are my bed and desk. This is where many, many hours of planning and school prep have been lived. A little more about it:

- Under my bed is a lot of storage, including boxes of flashcards and books we aren't currently using. The gap between the head of our bed and wall holds blankets, pillows, and physical exercise materials (crawling tunnel, tumbling mats, mini punching bag). The foot of my bed has some sideways milk crates with books I'm using for lesson planning, with the top one being unit folders for the next two years (but don't even think those folders are even close to being filled out, though). Over the bed is where the brachiation ladder usually goes.

"He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good..." 
Micah 6:8

Hunter is 4 years, 5 months old

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Welcome to Our Room, Part 3

(This is part 3 of the series. For part 1, click here)

-Hunter's bed and desk area. Above Hunter's bed is a net for all of his stuffed animals. On the wall at the head of his bed are postcards from all around the country and world, sent from his aunt, and on the side wall is his map and flag display with all the world and state flags. His fiber-optic nightlight is plugged in below. I also store some things under his bed, like some puppets, a box of word cards, and some games.

-The wall above his little table / desk has a little number line, quantity / numeral cards, a hundreds chart, and a large multiplication poster. There is also a picture of Psalm 144:1-2 on it, and three military-themed "motivational" style posters (with the words Command, Strength, and I forget what else).

-His desk has a little shelf / sorter with various types of paper in it, a cassette tape shelf, cutting strips tin, a pencil can, and a solar system placemat. Underneath his desk is a set of plastic drawers with a lot of art supplies in it, including coloring books, paints, letter tracing cards, stamps, etc.

-To the left of his desk is the "math and music" shelf - the top shelf holds a CD player / clock and a CD rack. The middle shelf holds a variety of games - Chinese checkers, Rush Hour, a fractions puzzle, a "Busy Bugs" patterning game, "Mighty Mind" game, a Lauri visual discrimination puzzle, dominoes, and a Chess / Checkers / Backgammon / etc. game set. The bottom row holds some geoboards, and some drawers with various math materials (Math U See counters, playing cards, quantity cards, ruler, compass, dice, etc.)

Then there is the Ikea wardrobe (which is mine), but it doubles as a poster display, with Ancient China and Ancient Egypt posters, Parts of Speech poster, and Hunter's days of creation craft. On the right side there are some Bible verse posters and sight word posters, both homemade.

"He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good..." 
Micah 6:8

Hunter is 4 years, 5 months old

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Welcome to our Room, Part 2

(This is part 2 of the series. For part 1 click here.)

-The doorway / entrance area is also home to many learning posters. Right now it holds our monthly calendar, our  days of the week calendar, a variety of foreign language alphabet posters that I made, some "types of clouds" posters, and a picture of the American and Christian flag (for pledges).

-To the right of the door is a bulletin board, which I have attempted to use for a variety of purposes, including simply displaying Hunter's art work and projects, to posting daily schedules (in big letters so Hunter could easily read them), to even posting all the categories of bits and other subjects we would be using during the week. Right now it has a few random crafts as well as a daily schedule on the side.

-Below the bulletin board is Hunter's clock (which at the moment has no hands on it. Really useful, I know) and to the right is a bunch of empty wall where I have been intending to hang some amazing bookshelves for, er, I think it's in the years category now.

Here are some close-ups of the other components of this wall:

-Hunter's toy shelves, which I absolutely love. We have had these for years and they not only hold a lot of toys in not very much space, but they're also accessible, make clean-up easy, and are a very attractive display (although this picture doesn't exactly say much, considering all the dust visible on the floor and the half-filled bins). Right now they hold: -Wooden blocks, alphabet blocks, train set, tinker toys, misc. musical instruments, builders and benders, misc. cars, and some other stuff (like kids meal toys and nun chucks).

-This is a fairly new addition, and in the spirit of "Montessori" style accessible shelves. On the bottom shelves are a variety of board books and a great deal of wooden peg puzzles. On the middle shelf is a basket full of baby toys, alphabet stacking / nesting blocks, a pound and roll toy [link is newer version], and a pound-a-peg toy. In case you couldn't tell, these shelves were mostly intended for my nephews and the kids I babysit sometimes, although Hunter still plays with these toys every once in a while!

-The top shelf contains some lacing and tracing cards, lacing beads, (also for younger kids), a jar of telling time matching pawns that I got at a thrift store, a jar of magnetic numerals, a jar of magnetic alphabet letters (99 cents a pack at Wal-mart), a Rubik's cube, some brain teaser puzzles, and a balance / scale [link is newer version].

-On top of the shelf is a mini globe of the world, a table-top easel (found at a thrift store), a 100-bead abacus, a telling time clock [again, link is new version], and a (fake) little plant.

Next stop: piano. This little corner holds our keyboard, a First Act guitar, a National Geographic telescope, and a magazine holder full of music books. Above the piano are some headphones, a sticker chart for music lessons, a little light, a guitar tuner, and some music terms and musical notation flashcards.

"He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good..." 
Micah 6:8
Hunter is 4 years, 5 months old

Monday, August 24, 2009

Welcome to our Room, Part 1

I always liked it when other homeschool blogs showed pictures of their "school room" (or wherever else they do a lot of their activities in the house) as sort of a reference point and whatnot.

Realizing I never took a full, panoramic picture of this room until now (because there have always been things I wanted to "edit", like hanging bookshelves or adding picture frames) I figured it was finally time since we're moving and, well, saying goodbye to this much-loved little adventureland.

- The alphabet mat: We do a lot of playing, games, and physical exercises on here.

- The bookshelf: The top shelf holds a Playmobil pirate ship, a solar system model, and some picture frames. The shelves hold books (sorted by type - i.e. books he can read, science, poetry, foreign languages, etc.), some picture frames and wooden vehicle toys, and a skeleton model. The bottom shelf holds a some games and puzzles that we've been playing recently (Brain QuestChutes and LaddersSpiderman Memory GameI Spy Alphabet Bingo, and a couple homemade games, as well as a bunch of jigsaw puzzles including a Fire Truck PuzzleUSA puzzle, and a variety of puzzles from the dollar store).

- His dresser harbors all of his clothes, and the drawers are labeled (as is pretty much everything else in the room). His dresser also has some realistic train stickers on them that he has learned, some from the 1890's and some from the 1950's. On top is a TV for watching science and foreign language videos, a piggy bank, some picture frames, and to the side are his towels and a basket of hygiene items (stain remover, comb, thermometer, etc.) On the right side of his dresser (not visible) is a periodic table of the elements poster, and on the wall are three file holders for holding flash cards (very easy access).

The flashcard-holders fit nicely above our basket for library books, and behind our rocking chair [note: link is newer version], which I got at Hunter's baby shower. It's amazing all the memories this chair has been through, from the corner I breastfed Hunter in while reading new parenting books to the place where Hunter and I read our first story together. It has been through many a story and cuddle, we will really miss it!

-Also behind the rocker is the entrance / coat rack. We got this cool mirror / small shelf / coat rack at a garage sale, I love it! This is where we hang our jackets, Hunter's backpack, my purse, etc. It is hard to keep this area organized though! The little shelf has a candle and some little boxes for hair accessories. More coming up on part two!

"He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good..." 
Micah 6:8
Hunter is 4 years, 5 months old

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Hunter Reading

As I've mentioned before, Hunter has known how to read for a while. He can read a lot of whole words by sight and figured out the basics of phonics pretty much effortlessly. The problem is, he just really doesn't (usually) care to read on his own, which I can't blame him for. He LOVES being read to and will ask for many, many books each day, but reading them on his own is just a little too, um, slow.

I haven't really worried about it but, I know how important reading is and have been thinking of ways to motivate him to practice reading so he can become more fluent. I know that once he gets started, there will be no stopping him.

So I've been having him read to me every day, preferably twice or more. At first he was a little reluctant but after less than a week, he has become very excited about reading aloud to me. I hung a sticker chart on his dresser and he gets to put a sticker on it for every book he reads.

The book he read in this video - the Bob Book series' "Muff and Ruff" - has been his book of choice for three days in a row. It was his fourth time reading it. It is wonderful to see how quickly he has progressed even in just a few days, and is reading words much more quickly and only sounding out occasionally.

"...and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them"
Deuteronomy 17:19

Hunter is 4 years, 4 months old


Hunter has loved puzzles since he was a baby. He used to love doing those wooden cut-out puzzles, the kind with little knobs that you fit into matching pictures. Now, for the past couple years, he has progressed to jigsaw puzzles.

Mommy loves puzzles too. It has always been a habit of mine to let Hunter play with puzzles on the bathroom floor while I take a shower. Which is, in my opinion, a way better option than many parents' shower solution - park them in front of the TV. It's not that I'm totally opposed to TV but I don't think it's a "must" as an electronic babysitter and I know that there are many beneficial alternatives. Parents have survived for thousands of years without the black box, after all.

In school supply shopping this year I have got Hunter some new puzzles. He is moving up to the 60-100 piece puzzles now and doing really good with them. One great thing that I love about them is that they are so inexpensive - you can find all kinds of small puzzles ranging from 24 to 100 pieces for just a dollar. And even when you get up to higher level puzzles, you can get nice 200-5000 piece puzzles for $5-$10 at many places. These 60-piece Disney puzzles where $1 from the Family Dollar. I got some geography ones at Target for $1, too.

Another thing I love about this practice is that it teaches self-control, too. It's not that he's really tempted to get up and run around when he's doing a puzzle - he's usually enthralled in it. But he knows that when Mommy is in the shower he is to play with the puzzle and stay seated and not get into anything.

He has been doing a lot of puzzles these days - as well as other sit-down activities, such as drawing, coloring, or logic and thinking skills games. It is always nice to know that even when I have to be busy with something else, he can still be actively involved in something educational and fun.

"From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part..."
Ephesians 4:16

Hunter is 4 years, 4 months old

Monday, August 3, 2009

Read, read, read...

Hunter reading from a phonics reader, inspired to earn stickers on his new reading chart.

This book, by Son Light curriculum, has a lot of funny stories and ends with your child reading at a about 2nd grade level. He really likes this one nowadays and has been really inspired to read.

"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."
2 Timothy 2:15

Hunter is 4 years, 4 months old

Sunday, August 2, 2009

It's been a while..

Sorry I haven't posted hardly anything in the last month. Between planning for a wedding, packing for a cross-country move, trying to prepare a whole year's worth of schooling materials ahead, and many others, life has been a little busy lately, and I've gotten behind. Did I mention that my sister is getting married this month too? Yeah. Lots of excitement lately.

Hunter is currently sitting across the room from me in his desk eating eggs and toast (his favorite meal), listening to the infamous "Space" songs. We just came inside from riding his scooter (picture at right) and I thought I'd take a few minutes to post an update.

The wedding is in three weeks. It has been proved interesting planning a wedding in three months, but it has been doable, and everything came together surprisingly well (sometimes I could almost say miraculously). Brandon, as I'm sure you probably assumed since we're still planning for the wedding, didn't end up getting deployed. We still don't know when we're moving. It could be September or October, it could be later if military housing takes a while to go through.

(below: Hunter helping put together decorations for the wedding)

I've been working on getting most everything packed before the wedding, or at least the things we don't use on a daily basis. It has been great, because in all this packing I have been getting the opportunity to organize a lot of long-neglected odds and ends, re-think my systems (like cleaning routines, menus), and get a lot of school stuff ready for the year. Getting a handle on my desk has been one of the most rewarding tasks of all. There was a lot of "stuff" sitting in files for months, even years, and seeing what's there, throwing out what's outdated, and planning for what's to come has been refreshing and motivating. I've been able to see the simplicity of it all instead of being overwhelmed by the great pile of unknowns.

It's been fun and exciting seeing what stuff we have for our new home as we pack. It's funny how thrilled you can get about finding an available mop bucket or end table or knick-knack shelf, envisioning its potential use in your unfurnished soon-to-be home.

(below: Hunter watching from a distance as a friend buzzes off the railing to our front porch. We have been doing a lot of cleaning and home repairs in preparation for the out-of-town guests that will be visiting this month)

Hunter's had a lot of fun packing, cleaning, and getting excited about the move and wedding, too. He keeps telling everyone that he is going to California "tomorrow", but I keep reminding him that he still has a few weeks to go. He is excited, and I know he will love California and have a good life there, but I realize that he doesn't really grasp or understand the fullness of the change that is about to occur. He's lived in the same house his whole life, currently with ten family members taking residence, and his cousins Anthony and Jordan have been like brothers to him. We come from a pretty close-nit family, and it is going to be strange living thousands of miles away from everyone and having a household of just three people.

It's going to be a big adjustment moving away from all that is familiar to him, making new friends, and missing his relatives. He will be fine, but keep us in your prayers as we transition into this new season of life.

Things are going to be crazy for the next few weeks. I recently got a new phone, under my soon-to-be husband's account, which isn't yet set up with twitter or mobile blogging. I had better get on that, since it will probably be the main source of updates for a while.

I hope to blog more about Hunter's academic life than I have been. Recently, we have been focusing mostly on reading (practicing reading aloud, so he can become more fluent) and math (keeping up the mental math). He's been doing great at both, which is encouraging. We've also been reading a lot of books about science (astronomy) and ancient history. That has been, for the most part, the majority of our schooling activities. I hope to soon start up again his piano lessons, start his art curriculum, spend more time on foreign languages, and get into a regular physical excellence program again, among other things. It'll all come together, soon.

"Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."
Proverbs 3:5-6