Homeschool Room Updates

Hey Loves!

So, if you are new here, I am a homeschool mom. This year, I am homeschooling 2 preschoolers. Thus, updates were greatly needed.

The first thing we needed to maximize was space. One of the reasons I chose to homeschool was individualized lesson plans and one-on-one learning. I don’t think you can do that without space to learn. That meant re-organizing what we already had, removing some things and adding a few things (I know adding things doesn’t make sense but go with me).

Removing

Don’t hate me. I got rid of the train table while my children were sleeping. Yes, I waited until they were sound asleep, dismantled it and put in the garage and the immediately gave it away. There was an adjustment period of maybe 12 hours. Why? That’s simple. Valuable real estate. That thing was freaking huge. Plus, the kids didn’t use it properly. Train tracks, trains, cars and whatever else were always flying and my kids would not stop crawling up on to the train table. It was no longer safe…for my sanity, of course. So, off it went. Man, oh man. The joy of that space.

Re-organizing

To start, for me, meant evaluating our space and seeing what works for us. I new our circle time wall and safe space for reading and calm down time worked and worked well. Our art table is very close to the bathroom and that works very well (easy access to handwashing is a must!). What didn’t work was our lack of storage. So, I took the cubby organizer we got from Ikea from its horizontal position and placed it vertically. BAM! Not only did that make the cubbies more effective for children to access their toys, it gave two cubbies AND a shelf to store curricula supplies and supplements. What????

I also moved our world map to a blank wall that was lower, giving my children more visual and physical access.

The cars, trucks, planes, etc. from the train table I placed in storage bins and totes under our bench in the learning room.

Adding

I added a map of the USA (Dollar Tree). Geography and map studies are going to be a big focus for us this year and I wanted constant visuals of this. I also added a small table from Ikea (who doesn’t love Ikea???) in order to have to learn/work spaces for my boys because …frenemies. #thestruggleisreal I also made another art display because double kids equal more art to show off. I thought I was done and then… Target dollar spot got me. I bought two more pocket charts to display our visual schedule and one for WORD WALL. What in the actual world, people???

That’s it! Any suggestions for me? For pics, check out my facebook page! You can also keep up with my (almost) daily ramblings about life.

Love you. Mean it.

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Homeschooling Inexpensively

Hey Loves!

I am going to try to make this quick but this is important. Very important. As overwhelming as homeschooling can already be, the cost can sometimes be very daunting. I know this personally. I am no millionaire, but even if I was, I wouldn’t want to spend a ton on homeschooling. I could you know, feed the hungry or something. For those who aren’t millionaires, have budgets and bills, but want to homeschool and can’t get over the cost, there are ways around that.

  1. Buy used: I know some people abhor this concept but hear me out. Buying used curriculum is a great way to save money. You can see in a previous post that I saved a ton on our math curriculum. If you are worried about germs, Lysol. Most homeschool moms take great care of the curriculum they invested in hoping to recoup some of the cost so you get a good product at a fraction of the price. Look for homeschool sales in your area or search online. You can also buy books used from local thrift stores and online. This has saved me a ton and I am sure it will save you a ton as well.
  1. Download free curriculum: Well, duh! So many people have created free curriculums and units studies for your taking. Take them gleefully! My Pinterest board is full of them.
  2. Create units and activities from books: This may not be for everyone but for some, it can be a great teaching experience and yield awesome results.
  3. Buy supplies inexpensively: Stock up during back-to-school sales. Crayons, pencils, markers, composition notebooks, glue sticks- grab them all. During the year or for more specific items, check your local Dollar Tree. They have amazing items for ONE DOLLAR. You can’t beat that price.
  4. Use what you have: If a project calls for something you don’t have, look for substitutes or another version to see if you can use something you already have.
  1. Buy and split: If you have some homeschool friends that all need the same supply item that needs to be ordered, but comes in larger quantities at a higher cost, split the cost and share the quantity.

Ok, those are my tricks and tips for now. Did I miss something? Please tell me if so!

Love you. Mean it.

My Lesson Planner

Hey Loves!

Ok-if you are new here, planning is my jam. Planners are my joy. My old friends, nothing new here.

So, this was my first year researching and purchasing a lesson planner for homeschool. The past 2 years, I created our curricula and typed them up as I planned them. With purchasing curriculums and planning for two kids, I needed a planner to stay organized.

Now, I don’t want to delve into the amount of time I spent researching planners because that will just end in a judgment of me but I will say in my research I stumbled across the Scholastic Teacher Inspiration Planner.

Total transparency here, it was the cost that drew me in. Then, I did more research. How were others using this? How functional was it? Is it one of those “you get what you pay for?” deals? I learned that it was very similar to the Erin Condren Lesson Planner and, well, let’s just say in my pre-mom days Erin Condren planners were my world. 

I did know I wanted a little flare with this planner but it also had to be extremely functional. Hold up for at least this school year, and hopefully last on the shelf for following school years.

Armed with my research, I decided to try it. I got in the mail and was pleased before opening it because it was longer than I originally thought. I assumed it would be the length of my day planner. This meant I had more room to write in each subject session.

Opening the planner and reviewing some of the pages, I realized quickly, like I did with just about every other planner, some pages I would not used as-is and, thus, I entered the world of washi-tape and made those pages my own. I also used washi tape to indicate field trips, and days we would not have school.

While I have written in lesson plans up until the end of December, I haven’t finished adding everything to the planner I want. I will share the updates when I have them. Until then, happy planning!

Love you. Mean it.

P.S.- I have since joined some new homeschool Facebook groups and, y’all, my planner game is about to be seriously upgraded.

Our Homeschool Curriculum Picks

Hey Loves!

So, as I mentioned earlier, with homeschooling too kiddos, the time and research to create another curriculum were daunting and more than I could bear. Also, James was excelling at a rate I could not have predicted and I wanted to be prepared for that if the acceleration continued.

 Enter research. Getting Overwhelmed. Giving up. Repeat 96 million times.

Determining a curriculum is hard work, people! I had NO idea. So, more research. I happened to stumble across a youtube video from My Busy Bees and Me that shared their curriculum picks for the year and Erica detailed “The Good and The Beautiful”.

“Ummm what is that exactly?” I asked myself… and then google… and then more youtube. Then, in my heart, I knew this was the literacy and language arts curriculum for us. It encompassed all of my goals for James and enable him to confidently learn. It was also broken down into short lessons that, if needed, could be repeated. We purchased the hard copy and digital download. The hard copy came with the lesson book, flip books, and manipulatives. The digital download includes all of these items as well.

 Then, math. Ok friends, I had a budget to stick to and as amazing as the Good and The Beautiful math curriculum seemed to be, it was simply out of my budget as I knew I wanted the hard copy and digital download. So, more research and more giving up. Because Facebook is all up in my beeswax, it showed me several of my friends were interested in a used homeschool curriculum fair in a church about 8 minutes from my house. “This seems interesting,” I thought. “If nothing else, I could meet other Black homeschool moms and get good information.”

I went with $40 cash as my budget because I refused to come home with a bunch of stuff we “might” use because “it was such a good deal!” I’ve been there. Done that.

I went in not expecting much honestly. I walked around and found Math You See. I remembered it from my research and knew I liked it but did not like the retail price. The learning level was about first grade. I knew James was at Kindergarten level in math and was not sure how fast he would accelerate so I asked the seller some questions about it and pondered on it. It was listed at $10 which was already a great price but then the seller said, “if you want it to you can have it, I’ll sell it to you for $5,” “SOLD!” I replied with glee. So, winning, right? Not exactly. I needed a math curriculum for this year…

Again, I perused and found a table with what seemed to be all middle school curriculum. We definitely aren’t there but research doesn’t hurt, right? As I am looking through, I see she has a BJU K literacy curriculum and I begin to ask her about it. She explains how she has everything with it and how she loved it. In my head, I am repeating to myself, “You only need math. You only need math.” She then points to the BJU math curriculum and explains how she has the teachers manual, disc and all the manipulative for $20. I quickly look up how much it retails for… the teacher manual alone was $70-$80. The workbook was $26. I paused and thought… I looked more and couldn’t resist it. I loved the curriculum and the seller so helpful. She also sold me an entire 4-inch binder of math worksheets in page protectors, making them dry erase for $5. 

Y’all! I scored our math curriculum for 3 years for $30!!! I got all the things and stayed under budget!

Now, for social studies, I knew I wanted to focus on elections/voting, maps, and a lengthy Africa study. I purchased These 2 inexpensive workbooks from Amazon: 

180 Days of Social Studies for Kindergarten

DK Workbooks: Geography Pre-K

These will be integrated with map exploration and, well, whatever else we want because we homeschool. 🙂

Science… you guys should know I said I would never be one of those homeschool moms that have multiple curriculums for their kids. That’s just too much. Doesn’t make sense, I thought. 1. Never say never. 2. Repeat number 1 often. 3. See numbers 1-2.

I was struggling here. I knew what concepts and terms I wanted James to be familiar with. I knew I wanted him to keep a science journal. I knew what his interests were. Making it happen in a timely fashion and still having hair and sanity at the end of it did not seem likely. So, back to the Good and The Beautiful I went. I truly do love their science curriculum. It grows with the child, expanding their knowledge of subject matters from year-to-year and encompasses all of my goals. I selected Arthropods and Human Body units and purchased the digital downloads. I am seriously considering getting the space unit. I knew I wanted to do an expansive human body study with the boys so that was easy. Arthropods and Space and my kids’ interest. We are also learning a lot about the weather because my kids are interested in that as well. Lastly, we got a small book of Experiments from Usborne that I will use as well as activities from our Koala Crate Subscription.  

 Black History

This is a very important subject. James is at the age where I want to do more than just repeat facts every day. I want him to learn and understand how Black History is American and World History. We will use a variety of storybooks, short videos, and other items to explore and learn about African American first and heroes as well as field trips and other activities. We will do a lengthy Harlem Renaissance study starting in 2019.

Bible, Music, and Art will mostly be used from God’s Little Explorers. This is a free curriculum, although she does have a paid option. This curriculum does exactly what I need for Bible exploration and learning about classical composers and historic artist. I purchased Anholt’s Artist series books (USED, of course!), to assist with this. We will also use parts of the literacy and math for Jude.

So, yes. That does seem like a lot. This is why we plan. Any questions? Comments? Concerns? Suggestions?

Love you. Mean It.

Homeschool: How To Get Over the Hump

Hey Loves!

So, I’ve had lots of conversations about why I chose to homeschool (I’ll work on that post later) but mostly how I do it? I mean, having kids 22 months apart doesn’t lend itself to lots of downtime to research and explore. Then, you add the special-needs and therapies in the mix and I wonder how I do it sometimes.

For me, it starts with planning. Hope is wonderful but it is not a plan. You have to plan! However, I know just a quick Internet search can leave you feeling overwhelmed and, frankly, inadequate. At least that was my story. So, I started with the basics:

-What did I want my children to learn?

-How much time would we spend on school per day?

-What were my goals?

Those 3 questions can save lots of time and heartache. Next, I suggest finding out where your kid is academically. For example, I knew James was advanced but I didn’t know how advanced. Once I did a preliminary evaluation, He easily is doing most Kindergarten math at 3. That’s not boasting, just an example because I would not have guessed that.

 

Also, learning styles- find out how you and your kid learns! This will greatly impact how you teach. This will also impact what curriculum type you will be interested in if you choose to do one at all.

Goals are a tool of the prosperous. I make goals at the beginning of the year, check in in January and see where we are, and at the end of the year do a summary. It really is that simple. One of the amazing benefits of homeschool is you can customize learning. DO. IT. You guys know I am a crazy type-A planner with zero cares about your need to be flexible. However, homeschool has taught me flexibility is a little bit ok. I promise.

Circle Time Wall Update

Hey Loves!

So, if at first you don’t succeed, try again, right?
Well, that’s what happened. Two weeks into school and I realized James had a hard time changing the calendar information. So, off to many stores I went. 
Finally, at Walmart found some cork tiles and wall mounting tape. 
Then, the Internet didn’t let me down and found these printables to describe the calendar information for the peg board. I broke my laminator so I couldn’t laminate them. Let’s have a moment of silence. 
I’m still in mourning. 
Then I got 3 push pins because my son can do that-he can push the pin into the cork tile. 

(That’s why it isn’t straight…my OCD is being tamed y’all.)


That’s it. That’s all it took. It’s ok if something doesn’t work out. It’s not ok if we just don’t try to make it work taking another route. Happy teaching

Mini Masterpieces Art Display

Hey Hey!

So, we are homeschooling, if you couldn’t tell by the 8 million post on the subject and we needed something. It was critical. We couldn’t make it without it. Well, we could but what’s life without some fun drama? 😜
We needed something to display artwork because… I’m not sentimental. I wouldn’t keep it. I may take a picture of it and trash it. Horrible. I know. Feed me to the wolves. I’m not worthy. 
Anywho, I came across this via Pintrest during my middle-of-the-night pregnancy insomnia searches and went to Home Depot 4 hours after I found it. Talk about being inspired, right?
I grabbed a yardstick that 3 people had to help me find for a whopping $.98. 


Now, the paint…I couldn’t decide on a color until I realized I had to go dark to mask the neon orange writing on the yard stick. So, I applied 3 coats of grey acrylic paint. 


I already had clothes pins that I painted white last December but I went over them with two coats of white acrylic paint. I attached the clothes pins with super-strength super glue. Be careful. My phone was stuck to my hands, literally, for a little bit. As for the clothespin locations, I followed the tutorial, I started at 2 inches and then added a clothespin every 4 inches. 
I attached it to the wall with wall mounting tape also following the tutorials instructions. 


Viola! $.98 and about 12 mini. Cheers to more art projects!

Homeschool Preschool: One Last Thing

Hey Loves!
 

Sadly (I’m sure this excites you), this is the last installment in the series of prepping for homeschool preschool. I have one more tip: Don’t forget you!

 

You’ve thought so much about your little or littles and their needs, interest and wants; your wants for them, how you will help them navigate this year but have you thought about you? Have you prayed for you? Asked others to pray for you?

 

Did you put teacher tools on the back-to-school shopping list? Are you prepared? Did you get coffee, creamer, tea? Did you make your work out schedule? Meal plan to relieve stress in the evening?

 

You are just as integral, if not more, to this venture than your kids/students. If you aren’t together, neither will they.

 

Trust me, this is hard for me but we have to make us a priority. Don’t forget about you!

 

Have a great year and share all your hits and misses with me!

 

Homeschool Preschool: Get Excited

Hey Loves!
 

I’m back with more homeschool preschool and it’s time to get excited!!!

 

Can you feel it? You have researched, lesson planned, organized, gave up, got back on the proverbial horse, maybe made a circle time wall and now, the first day is almost here!

 

Let’s party!!! 🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉

 

Something to help get the excitement in the air?

 

Decorate! Put up a cute banner, a back to school door hanger or try a different table cloth. Anything is possible and it’s up to you.

 

Get school supplies! Crayons? Paint? Construction paper? Make a list and hit the stores! You can also find fun ways to organize it! Don’t forget sales and the dollar store to make this cost effective!!

 

Finally, spread the excitement! Someone, somewhere wants to celebrate with you! Find a community of support and rally with the troops!

 

You are on your way!

 

Homeschool Preschool: Circle Time Wall

Hey Loves!
 

I’m back with another installment of my homeschool preschool series. This week, we are talking visual effects. I will say this now, a circle time wall is not a necessity. This is totally optional and chances are, your circle time will look totally different than mine. And guess what? That’s totally awesome!

 

You remember how I talked about the Internet being a great resource? Well, it didn’t quit at lesson planning. All of my circle time items, were free and I printed them from my phone, so they were very easily accessible as well.

 

How did I compile my wall, you ask?

 

I started with knowing me and my child. He doesn’t need a bunch to look at and touch and I didn’t want a bunch to look at. I wanted everything to be used regularly and for play and education purposes. I also understood that some things would come later, like the weather.

 

So what did I print? What did I do I after I printed?

 

My circle time wall consists of a:

1. Peg board ($5-Target)

2. Months of the year

3. Days of the week

4. Dates of the months

5. Number flash cards

6. Letter flash cards

7. Dry erase board (purchased previously at a great price)

 

Again, everything I printed on cardstock (Walmart) I had left over, cut them out and laminated them. I chose to laminate because my child is slowly learning gentle and that paper not being laminated, will die painfully and quickly. Lamination is the difference between hospice and ICU in our house.

 

Back to the circle time wall…

 

It was also important to me to add to a visual schedule to help all of us. It takes team work to keep this house running and we all need reminders. Plus, the visual schedule will help James with transitions.

 

Ok, so, remember when I said our walls should look different? I really want you to do what works for you so I’m not posting the exact links of my items. I will post the websites and you can do what you want with that. I will also share photos of my wall only so you can see how minimal it can be.

 

Here are the sites. Until next time!

 

teacherspayteachers.com (To download you will have to create an account. Some items cost money but prices are very reasonable.)

 

pintrest.com (I’ve pinned some things that you may like, follow me @hitswiththemrs)

 

google.com (Yup, that basic.)

Ok, here is what mines looks like.