Homeschool Must Haves {Part 1}

Here it is... my homeschool must haves post. Well, kinda.

This is going to become a multiple part post. I have three different age groups (technically four, but the great part of homeschooling is that I can put my girls in the same grade.) so I think to save you from reading a novel about homeschooling I'll break it down.

This post let's focus on the Pre-K kid in my life. I've had a lot of people ask what curriculum I recommend or will be using for Anne, my four year old. I actually taught fours at a preschool program locally here, so I do have some good insight into this age. 

Here's what I'm using...nothing. 

Gasp! What?? Yes, you heard me. Nothing. I'm not grabbing a curriculum that is structured or scheduled. So much of their lives are handled in the structured, scheduled, and dictated way when they get older. Let them be little for just a little longer. 

Here's what I am doing...
  • getting outside and getting into nature (Dinosaur Train anyone?)
  • reading books from the library!!!
  • playing with playdough
  • utilizing activity bins (those are explained below)
  • watching educational videos (list coming soon)
  • play lots and lots of games!! (on and off the iPad)
  • not stressing out about it
The last one is probably the most important. The truth is that children, especially younger siblings, learn from so much more than we realize. They learn from exploring, and touching, and asking one million questions. They learn from seeing and experiencing things. I don't have any doubts that she is already picking up on stuff now as we do school during the day.

One thing that I do know though is that if she is not busy, she is up in my business. So I created for her some school activity bins. They also could be called busy boxes, but mine usually have some educational purpose. Pinterest is a wonderful resource of ideas.

Most people are on the Amazon band wagon, but I feel like there is still so much to be explored. I utilize Amazon for most of my shopping these days and when preparing for homeschool it was no different. Many of the items I have in my activity bins are either from Target dollar spot, or Amazon. We both know what will happen if we step foot into Target. Let's not talk about it though.

The boxes I chose were at Walmart, but I found these on Amazon and they would work great as well. IN FACT, I actually wish I had gotten these. My Walmart ones have broken down quite a bit already.

My requirements for the boxes were: stack flat, fit paper flat, and be big enough to put actual activities in if I wanted. I have four, because we only school four days a week, Friday's are for cleaning, fun and friends. I put them under our school central desk and she can grab the one she wants and go find a spot to play!

I have a variety of items I like to put in her boxes, but every box has the following:

These are great for practicing her name or any other writing I want her to do. I took a sharpie and wrote her name on the top line of the board, then wrote it in dotted form. This is in each box, that way she is practicing her name every day.

Flash cards are great, simple and easy to put into her boxes. I like to have a variety of them so that there is one in every box.

Everything in the box needs to be something she can do on her own, which may make you pause and say, why did you put Go Fish in her box? Matching uppers and lowers my friend. Great for letter recognition and letter/sound association.

WORD OF CATUION:: When picking flash cards that teach letter and sound association, it's imperative that they teach the correct letter sounds first! Most flash card companies don't pay that close attention to it and put any cute picture with the letter, for example Ii-Ice cream. WRONG!! Ii-Iguana, Igloo, Insurance, etc... So, pay attention to the vowels and make sure that they are all the short, first vowel sounds. (Aa-apple, Ee-Elephant, Ii-Iguana, Oo-Octopus, Uu-Umbrella) IF you are just doing matching then it doesn't matter, like the animal go fish, that wouldn't be a big deal to me. However, if I am sitting and working with the flash cards with her, then I want to make sure what I use is going to teach her correctly first.

Because the box is big enough I do have a few of these to throw in there. I don't work for Learning Journey, but wish I did. I love their products!!!

The rainbow letter popsicles have lasted soooooooo long in this family. Which is saying something about their product because my kids are not easy on toys.

As I said before there are a lot of resources on Pinterest and whenever I've found some consumables, or printable's I like for her I usually laminate them. That way I'm saving paper (and trees if you are into that) and they can be used over and over. This is the one that I have and I've used for years.

If you are homeschooling, or have littles not yet school age these are great resources for some quiet time! Do you do activity or busy boxes for your littles? If so, comment some of your favorite resources and ideas!! 

Affiliate Disclaimer: Yes, those are affiliate links. Four kids is expensive you guys! If you click it and end up buying it I get "mama needs coffee money." Not enough for "Mama needs some wine and a vacation," but still. I wouldn't recommend something that wasn't a good product at a good deal, not only would my grandmother turn in her grave, but that's not what friends do. Happy shopping friends!

We made it

We made it. Mostly. My sanity seems to be intact.

We started out easy this week. Just tried to find a rhythm. I realized that we are not traditional morning basket people. I need to get my people fed and then my butt to the gym, so my idea of "morning basket at breakfast" needs to become "morning basket at snack." We are definitely snack people. See, get my butt to the gym, read as eats too many snack.

With that being said, everything went great. The kids all started a fun typing program on the computer, and I *love* being a fast typer so I totally took over one of their turns and did a placement test. Felt like I was in high school again. I'm a nerd I know. Kids did great at piano. I had an allergic reaction to the cats, so I felt like Hitch when he has the allergic reaction to shellfish. Totally embarrassing and totally the irony of my life.

We joined a nature group and took a hike with them. Heard rumor of a snake on the trail and thankfully never saw one. Hard. Pass. Still we were terribly hot, dirty and had a great time. They all four couldn't stop saying how fun it was to go hiking and make new friends. At one point the oldest said, "Mom, I'm not sure if I'm awake or asleep because I'm so worn out, but that was a great day." Mission accomplished!

Later down the road we will be nature journalling. I actually plan on having them do it today, recalling things they loved and saw. When we talked about the hike during lunch, Hazel mentioned all the things she heard instead of saw. I thought that was an interesting observation and totally true to who she is. She has always been very observant and aware of sounds, especially those that are too loud. 

Topped the day off with a few hours at our pool and it was a great day!! 

Everyone keeps asking how homeschooling is going. Honestly, the schooling part is easy and awesome. I love watching them learn something and help teach each other something. I've not once thought, "When do you guys go back to school?" The harder part is the home and conflicts part. They aren't getting a break from each other, but at the same time, it's growing their friendships with each other! I know I need to continue to create boundaries and rhythms for them to feel they have their own space and special place in our family.

This is a grand adventure for us all and I can't wait to see where it leads!

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