Wednesday, July 1, 2015

A New Beginning!

This post may contain affiliate links.

Today marks the first day of our school year for 2015-2016!  Not that the kiddos had much of a break between the last day of school (yesterday) and today, but for all of us it means a new beginning.  I LOVE new beginnings.  To celebrate, I convinced the kiddos I needed a photo of them before breakfast.  (I wanted to make sure that they were still clean, hair done, etc.)  We also went out to lunch, and are officially starting our 4th of July festivities.

Today is also the beginning of our FIFTH year homeschooling!  I can't even believe it.  Dinomite and Bulldozer were in preschool when we began. Has time flown by or what?  (If you're trying to calculate all of this, remember both Dinomite and Bulldozer were held back last year.)

Lastly, today is the beginning of our THIRD year using a Montessori-inspired method of learning.  Just when I thought I was understanding everything and feeling confident in the preschool curriculum, the three older kiddos move up to the early elementary curriculum.  Can we say YIKES!  Dinomite did dabble in it a little bit last year, but not too much.  Bulldozer will continue to work with some preschool materials, but academically he'll be introduced to all of the elementary materials and concepts.  
What does that mean for the blog, unit posts etc?  Are you ready for this? Wait for it...  CHANGE!!!  I couldn't be more excited about this.  Now before you get too worried, the changes won't be that significant.  In fact, I think you'll really enjoy them.  It may just take a little getting used to.
Starting with next week, (I still have one more unit to blog about from this year.) you can expect our studies to be divided between five different posts each week.

1) Unit Studies:  These include the four core subject areas:  Language, Mathematics, Science, & Geography/Culture.

2)  Art & Music:  These post will include all of our art and music activities each week.  In years past we have not put much emphasis into these subject areas.  Now that the kiddos are older and basic fine motor skills are developed, we're ready to dive in and (literally) get our hands dirty.  The kiddos are super excited.  They have been asking for more art and music activities for a while.

3)  Therapies:  All of our kiddos receive OT, PT, and Speech at home each day as part of their studies.  Therapists do not come into our home mind you.  My husband and I work with the kiddos.  You've seen some of these activities in the past.  We just don't call them therapy.  Instead they're known as Practical Life, Sensorial and Grace & Courtesy lessons in the Montessori world.  In years past we've put a lot of focus on Practical Life and Sensorial Activities.  This year we're going to put a lot of emphasis on Grace & Courtesy as well!

4)  Religious Activities:  I don't blog about our religious activities often, but they are a very big part of the kiddos' homeschool education.  Besides religious activities on our shelves in the classroom, we dedicate one night a week to teaching our children religious concepts in our home.  I want to make these activity ideas and printables available to my readers, as well as document all the work the kiddos are doing.

5)  Tot & Preschool Activities:  All of Sunshine's activities will be included in these posts each week.  I have high hopes for her this year, as we finally received cognitive scores from IQ testing.  It turns out Sunshine is smarter than the doctors thought.  She scored a 92!  We couldn't be more excited.

I can't promise that each themed post will be shared the same day, each consecutive week, but you can be sure they'll all be shared by week's end.  In regards to other types of posts written by Jason and myself...  When we feel inspired, you'll see them.  The Learn & Play Link Up will continue.  The 12 Months of Montessori Series will continue through December.  Then we'll see what new adventures await us.  I'm so excited!

Welcome to the Learn & Play Link Up!

This week's features celebrate Montessori.  They are full of wonderful information, activity ideas and resources.  You would regret not reading each and every post!


Free Montessori Materials Online from Living Montessori Now



Learn & Play Link Up Every Thursday


Now it’s time for this week’s link party! This new link up is for all blog posts that include learn and play activities and hands-on education for kids. We are excited to read your blog posts and to see what you have to share! Please link up below and grab our button to display on your blog.
If you are a blogger, share your family friendly posts here. We are looking for things which include:
  • Montessori Education
  • Homeschool
  • Sensory Play
  • Tot and Preschool Trays
  • Fine and Gross Motor Activities
  • Kids in the Kitchen
  • Healthy Recipes for Kids
  • Arts and Crafts
  • Natural Living
  • Free Educational Printables
  • Family-Oriented Activities
  • Healthy Living
Your post will be shown on each host’s blog where we will individually pick features every other week. That means there is more of a chance that you will be featured!
Everyone, please meet our link party hosts:
learn and play party hostesses
Guidelines for Linking:
  • Please link up 1-3 posts
  • Follow each of the hosts on social media
  • When you link up, please add our button and place it at the bottom of your shared posts or link back with text link.
  • By entering a link, you’re giving us permission to feature an image on our blogs. Proper credit & links will ALWAYS be given.
  • Please visit a couple of shared posts and leave a comment for them
  • Remember that you must link back in order to be featured
Christian Montessori Network

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Summer Learning (Learn & Play Link Up)

Welcome to this week's Learn & Play Link Up!

This week I'm featuring some fabulous ways to keep the learning going during the summer whether homeschooling or not.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading each and every one my selected features, and hope you do the same.


Summer Learning with Lapbooks from Year Round Schooling

Yes, We Homeschool All Summer from Clark & Luci Learn


Fun Trampoline Games for Learning Letters from Hands On:  As We Grow

Learn & Play Link Up Every Thursday
Now it’s time for this week’s link party! This new link up is for all blog posts that include learn and play activities and hands-on education for kids. We are excited to read your blog posts and to see what you have to share! Please link up below and grab our button to display on your blog.
If you are a blogger, share your family friendly posts here. We are looking for things which include:
  • Montessori Education
  • Homeschool
  • Sensory Play
  • Tot and Preschool Trays
  • Fine and Gross Motor Activities
  • Kids in the Kitchen
  • Healthy Recipes for Kids
  • Arts and Crafts
  • Natural Living
  • Free Educational Printables
  • Family-Oriented Activities
  • Healthy Living
Your post will be shown on each host’s blog where we will individually pick features every other week. That means there is more of a chance that you will be featured!
Everyone, please meet our link party hosts:
learn and play party hostesses
Guidelines for Linking:
  • Please link up 1-3 posts
  • Follow each of the hosts on social media
  • When you link up, please add our button and place it at the bottom of your shared posts or link back with text link.
  • By entering a link, you’re giving us permission to feature an image on our blogs. Proper credit & links will ALWAYS be given.
  • Please visit a couple of shared posts and leave a comment for them
  • Remember that you must link back in order to be featured
Christian Montessori Network

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Toddler & Preschool Activity Themes for 2015-2016 School Year (Learn & Play Link Up)

This post may contain affiliate links.

It's confession time.  I REALLY struggled while homeschooling Sunshine this year.  Transitioning her into our learning time environment, schedule and practices was so hard, and at times downright awful.  I tried to make things work.  I rearranged the environment. Schedules were changed.  My expectations were lowered.  Still, our first year's experience was not at all what I had hoped it would be.

The sad thing is Sunshine LOVES learning time.  It's her favorite part of the day.  All she wants to do is copy what her older siblings are doing.  She LOVES the activities I create for her.  If she could spend the day in the learning time room she could.

The problems lie in the fact that she's 2 1/2 years younger than the sibling closest to her.  Her cognitive and adaptive skills are well below average making the gap even larger.  She requires a one-to-one at all times.  Sunshine's attention span and focus can be compared to a ping pong ball bouncing out of control.  Every 30 seconds she's up switching out activities, if no one's watching her.  She has a very low frustration tolerance and often tantrums over the simplest things.  Then there's the sensory issues, RAD behaviors, etc.

It wouldn't have been as horrible, if she didn't have three older siblings that require attention too.  But the truth of the matter is, Bulldozer requires a one-to-one at all times already.  Princess' RAD behaviors are real and seem to always be in high gear during learning time.  Dinomite, depending on the day, may have 1 to 5 meltdowns.  Though there are many more positive days than negative ones, learning time can be very difficult sometimes, even without Sunshine added to the mix.

Words can't express how thankful I am that my husband is back home full time again to help with learning time, behaviors, those that need one-to-one assistance with everything, etc. This change alone solves half of our problems.  I feel like I can finally breathe and enjoy the journey again. 

There's only been one other challenge.  I have no clue where to go with Sunshine.  We have worked so hard (going on 2 years now), to teach her shapes, colors, numbers and letters, yet have seen minimal results.  Sunshine can match and sort objects perfectly, but there seems to be no understanding of the content behind the activities.  She's extremely verbal, but doesn't make any sense half of the time.

This month Sunshine is undergoing adaptive and cognitive testing.  We're half way through and have already been told the numbers don't look good.  I'm definitely not surprised, but it's all so very depressing. One would think after having gone through this with three other special needs children, I would do better this time around, but no.  I think the process only gets worse.  Sunshine is more delayed than any of my other children.  All three other kiddos knew all of their shapes, colors, letters, and numbers by the time they turned three.  Bulldozer knew all of them by the time he was two!  Every kiddo is so very different.

We've discussed Sunshine's education plans with her developmental pediatrician.  Sunshine turns four in November, so this year she should be starting preschool curriculum.  The problem is, she's not at all ready for preschool material.  My husband and I have talked at great lengths about how we should approach this next year with her.  Though an understanding of shapes, colors, numbers, and letters, may come any day, we feel that it shouldn't be the main focus of her studies.  Sunshine is teaching me so much about Montessori's concept of following the child.  She wants to learn what her older siblings are learning.  She loves their unit study themes.  Though she can't count or identify all of her colors, she can tell you all about the human body.  Her animal identification and impersonations are amazing.  I don't know of any other 3 year old girl who knows as many dinosaur names as she does.  It only makes sense to focus on things she enjoys and is actually learning.  There will be a few color, shape, number, and letter concepts in each unit, but they won't be as obvious as one might think.  You will see a lot of practical life and sensorial components to her units.

Here are our plans for Sunshine!

July
Unit Theme:  Space
Week 1:  The Moon
Week 2:  Stars
Week 3:  Astronauts
Week 4:  Tinkerbell  (Peter Pan themed Birthday week)

August
Unit Theme:  The Earth
Week 1:  Rocks
Week 2:  Weather
Week 3:  Blue Themed Activities
Week 4:  Toy Story (Preparation for Hollywood Studios, Disney World)

September
Unit Theme:  The Animal Kingdom
Week 1:  Horses
Week 2:  Birds
Week 3:  Fish
Week 4:  Turtles
Week 5:  Frogs

October
Unit Theme:  Vacation & Holiday
Part 1:  Yellow Themed Activities
Part 2:  Mulan (Preparation for Epcot, Disney World)
Part 3:  Black Themed Activities

November
Unit Theme:  My Community
Part 1:  Emergency Vehicles
Part 2:  Road Safety & Signs
Part 3:  Garbage & Recycling
Part 4:  Thanksgiving

December
Unit Theme:  Christmas
Part 1:  Bears
Part 2:  The Gingerbread Man
Part 3:  Christmas

January
Unit Theme:  Learning is Fun!
Part 1:  White Themed Activities
Part 2:  Letters
Part 3:  Numbers
Part 4:  Shapes

February
Unit Theme:  Valentine's Day
Part 1:  Purple Themed Activities
Part 2:  Sweet Treats
Part 3:  Emotions
Part 4:  Valentine's Day

March
Unit Theme:  Vehicles
Part 1:  Construction Vehicles
Part 2:  Trains
Part 3:  Cars
Part 4:  Airplanes
Part 5:  Easter

April
Unit Theme:  Animals Around the World
Part 1:  Kangaroos
Part 2:  Elephants
Part 3:  Monkeys
Part 4:  Brown Themed Activities

May
Unit Theme:  Introduction to Botany
Part 1:  Plants
Part 2:  Flowers
Part 3:  Bees
Part 4:  Orange Themed Activities

June
Unit Theme:  At the Farm
Part 1:  Farm Animals
Part 2:  Crops
Part 3:  Farm Vehicles
Part 4:  Nutrition

I have hope that the upcoming year will go much better than last year!

Welcome to this week's Learn & Play Link Up!

Be sure to check out our amazing features this week!

Montessori Homeschooling-Overcoming Challenges from Montessori Nature

Best Tips to Avoid Burnout While Homeschooling Year Round from The Natural Homeschool

Preparing for Homeschooling Your Child with Special Needs from Golden Reflections Blog

Master List of Homeschool Unit Studies from Gypsy Road
Learn & Play Link Up Every Thursday
Now it’s time for this week’s link party! This new link up is for all blog posts that include learn and play activities and hands-on education for kids. We are excited to read your blog posts and to see what you have to share! Please link up below and grab our button to display on your blog.
If you are a blogger, share your family friendly posts here. We are looking for things which include:
  • Montessori Education
  • Homeschool
  • Sensory Play
  • Tot and Preschool Trays
  • Fine and Gross Motor Activities
  • Kids in the Kitchen
  • Healthy Recipes for Kids
  • Arts and Crafts
  • Natural Living
  • Free Educational Printables
  • Family-Oriented Activities
  • Healthy Living
Your post will be shown on each host’s blog where we will individually pick features every other week. That means there is more of a chance that you will be featured!
Everyone, please meet our link party hosts:
learn and play party hostesses
Guidelines for Linking:
  • Please link up 1-3 posts
  • Follow each of the hosts on social media
  • When you link up, please add our button and place it at the bottom of your shared posts or link back with text link.
  • By entering a link, you’re giving us permission to feature an image on our blogs. Proper credit & links will ALWAYS be given.
  • Please visit a couple of shared posts and leave a comment for them
  • Remember that you must link back in order to be featured
Christian Montessori Network

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