Saturday, June 25, 2011

Wild Animal Safari...

We were overdue for a good adventure so today we headed out to Wild Animal Safari!    This place has been around since I was a kid and was formerly known as Exotic Animal Paradise.  Located in Strafford, MO it was only a hop, skip, jump up the road.  We had a great time!  First we boarded this luxurious open-air bus!

Then received our delicious on-board snacks.
 Not!  Oh...wait...those are for the animals?  Oh...ok then.
 We are ready to go!

 The animals thought the snacks were delicious.


 Even Maggie enjoyed feeding the animals!

So!  If you are looking for an adventure...and a tasty new snack...check out Wild Animal Safari!

(BTW:  Check out their page on FB for a coupon to save 20% off admission prices AND if you are doing the Green County Summer reading program there is a free child's admission with 1 adult price!  Whoo hoo!)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


About 2/3 of the way through Kindergarten Kayley started getting frustrated.  I couldn't figure out why...she was blasting through the subjects with ease and she enjoyed learning.  I finally narrowed down and realized how awful it must be to sit down to work on schoolwork with Mom...only to not know when it would be over!  It hadn't occured to me how frustrating it would be to not know when there would be a break, snack, "recess," or the end of the "school day."  I wasn't interested in being terribly structured, but I ultimately realized that my lack of structure was creating frustration for Kayley, so, we started using a WorkBox system that I have grown to LOVE!

We started with a single "workbox" (the blue one) and a "tool kit" full of school supplies (yes, also blue).  The workbox is a 6 slot magazine organizer.  I put Kayleys schoolwork for the day in each slot...and as she works through the boxes, she puts the completed items in the gray upright magazine holder in the center.  When the slots are empty - she is done for the day.

She has enjoyed the freedom that has come from the workbox.  It allows her to work independently on some things as well.  When she is done with her completed work, I file it in a matching file crate.  (Yes, the blue one.  hehe)  Kayley has really enjoyed being able to see the end from the beginning.  I never would've guessed that a lack of structure would've created frustration...but it sure did!

I have been a little stressed about how to track her portfolio.  The homeschool laws here in MO are really friendly, but we do have to track school hours and maintain a file/portfolio.  1000 hours per year, 600 from core subjects, 400 from electives.  ALL documented.  (eeek!)  The portfolio contents I have down, but the actual tracking...I still need to work on that.  I know there are some good software options out there - all NOT compatible with iMac.  I'll work on that.  I hadn't worried about tracking Kindergarten because K isn't even required here in MO.  But, I want to cover my bases and track for 1st grade even though Kayley hasn't reached the age of compulsory attendence yet.

If you noticed the red WorkBox, Toolkit and Crate it is because of my Type A personality...and in my wiggedy-whack desire to have everything match...I already set up Maggie's WorkBox too.  :)
We're already using it.  I usually keep 3 or 4 fun things for Maggie's "school work" in the workbox.  We only use them for school...and she joins us for at least 10 or 15 minutes (sometimes a lot longer!) during Kayley's school time.  I am not filing and tracking, but I have stashed some of her 1st artwork and will probably file it away one day.

So - there you have it.  WorkBoxes are awesome!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Character Training - Obedience

For this Stay-at-Home-Mom, (I hope that I am not alone and that some of you are/were a little like me) many days (for me it had been most days) I would end up feeling overwhelmed and frazzled and tired...and, well, I could just go on and on.  By the time my husband was getting home from work I felt like I had been trampled by a herd of antelope.  I have a 1 year old.  I LOVE my 1 year old.  She is spunky, bright, and beautiful.  I also have a 4 year old.  I LOVE my 4 year old.  She is also spunky, bright and beautiful.  She has been described as a Pistol (which I love) but, sometimes 4 year olds are, just, well.... FOUR.  Mine, on some days, is 4 going on 14.  (With out the whining, thank goodness!) But, I digress.  We have been struggling at our house.  It ends up being one of those things where, you have to shout to be heard, and you have to say it 12 times for it to get through...and, well, sometimes it just isn't worth the battle.  And then on bad days - really horrid days - you discover that maybe, just maybe, YOU are not in charge here at all.  Now.  I think something is wrong here.  I'm pretty sure that I should be in charge.  At least most of the time.  (gulp!)

So, we have backed off on our academic pursuits for a few weeks in favor of more spiritual pursuits in the hope that I can gain some semblance of peace in our house.    I'm really pleased to report that it is working!  (If it wasn't I never would've blogged about it I

Here is what we are up to:

I am using Courtship Connections "Character Building For Families" by Lee Ann Rubsam.  I love it!  The first lesson is on Obedience, which is perfect!  It uses the King James Version of the Bible and gives you scriptures on obedience to memorize together...biblical stories/examples of obedience...and suggested topics for discussion.  We spent this last week focusing on a solid definition of obedience, what is expected...and what will happen if we do not obey.


Right now we are working on memorizing Ephesians 6:1 and Colossians 3:20.  We also are memorizing our operation definition of obedience which is
"We Obey: all the way, right away, with a cheerful heart."
I am also using several materials from Christian Light Education - Which I also LOVE!  Wisdom and the Millers tells stories from Proverbs and a Hive of Busy Bees is AMAZING!  It tells the story of 2 children who are staying with their grandparents and one child gets stung by a bee.  Grandma goes on to tell the stories about other bees who's stings are MUCH worse.  
The first one we learned is Bee Obedient. 
My handy hubby drew a wonderful, big, beehive - and as we continue on in our study of character traits we will be learning about the other "bee's" and adding them to our Hive.
 As we continue to add our bees from "A Hive of Busy Bees" many of them will start to overlap with President Hinckleys 9 B's as well! So we will also be studying those.
But, for right now, it is amazing how much stuff we can learn from the scriptures about being obedient.  Today we used the Nest Animated Bible Story of Abraham and Isaac.  We discussed how grateful we are that Heavenly Father doesn't test us in this manner today - but what faith Abraham had to be obedient - even though it was really hard, and the blessings that come from being obedient.

We also just learned the story of the Creation this week and it fit in well seeing how Adam and Eve were disobedient by eating the fruit of the Tree and because of their disobedience they were cast out of the Garden of Eden.  

Anyway - it is going great!  I have felt a lot less frazzled.  I felt a lot happier.  Our home has been a lot more peaceful during the day.  It is really wonderful to realize that, I do not make rules just because I like to torture my kids and make their lives hard.  In fact, I don't really make the rules at all.  Heavenly Father makes the rules...and there is a scriptural foundation behind each one!  I think my kids, well, Kayley, since Maggie is just along for the ride, feel better knowing exactly what IS expected and what exactly will happen if we do not do what is expected.  I was spending so much time just saying "don't do that!" "no!" and "stop-that's not ok!" that I never really spent much time training my kids in what IS ok and what they CAN do.  It has made such a difference in just one week!  Whew!  I love it!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


 There is nothing quite so fun as building a tent in your room and spending the night in it!

Monday, June 13, 2011

More Pre-Preschool ideas...

 We are not taking the summer off from homeschooling.  We are staying busy with several summer bridge activities.  While Kayley is working on her school work, Maggie stays busy working on her "schoolwork" too!  I have several toys and projects that I have set aside that we ONLY use during school time so they stay interesting.  The Elmo Shape Sorter is fun and we've also learned how to draw and color!  I've found that having Maggie color on a paper plate is easier than paper, since the paper tends to curl up and scoot around while she is drawing...the paper plate is nice and thick and lays flat while she draws.  (I bet card stock would work well too).
 Our local library is AWESOME.  This peg board toy, and the cursive toy in the background, are both available for checkout just like books!  You can keep them for 3 weeks.  We have had fun playing with new toys thanks to our library.  Maggie made this stack all by herself!
 She is pretty pleased with herself.
 I also found these textured "flash cards" online.  They are awesome!  They are "touch and feel".  Mag loves looking at the pictures and identifying the thing on the card.  She already knows the words for kitty, dog, baby, and fishy.  Sort of.  :)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

You turn your back for 1 minute...

Yes...Maggie did make this mess without help.  
She LOVES dragging things out.
If only I could get her to love putting things back where she found them.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Tornado Unit Study

 'Tis the Season...for tornadoes that is!  After all the scariness of Joplin, the few times already this year that we've had to duck and cover, and the big deal we made out of cleaning out the Harry Potter closet to be our "safe spot," we've raised a LOT of questions over tornadoes.  What is a tornado?  Why is it dangerous?  How are they made?  Since I didn't know a lot of answers it seemed like a perfect opportunity to study tornadoes and do a fun unit study!!
 We read several books on tornadoes includeing the awesome science experiement book from the Quirkles.  (If you have never checked out Quirkles I'd highly recommend!  Our local library has the majority of them and they all have 2 science experiments at the end!).  We also read the fanciful story called "Barn Storm" where a tornado came through a farm and 'rearranged' all the animals!  Very fun!  We created our own tornado in a jar (which would've worked better with a 2 liter bottle but we didn't have one) and completed a lapbook - free materials courtesy of HomeSchool Share!  (
It was fun.  Just in case you are inspired - we had planned to read The Wizard of Oz and do some coloring pages in conjunction with this, but we are STILL waiting on the book from the library.  I thought I was being smart so I requested an audio book since we wouldn't have to wait, but apparently the audio copy I received was the radio-version, not the book version, and I figured we could listen to it anyway, even though it is not the classic story - but it turned out to be scratched and it wouldn't play anyway.  So, we are back to waiting for the book again...  Anyway, I thought it would go along well with a tornado study! 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Chorepacks - Managers of their Chores

 We implemented something new this week.  Chorepacks!  So far they are working great!  Originally intended for large families, I have found this chorpack system to work great.  I printed out several Chore Cards, you tuck them into the pocket and attach it to your childs clothing.  They complete the first chore card, when its done they move it to the back and continue on with the next chore.
 When all the chores are completed, Kayley turns in her chorepack for "inspection" and if she did her chores cheerfully, quickly and completely then she receives a Best Bee-havior card.  When she has saved 10 Bee cards, she can trade them in for a reward out of the reward basket.

Since Kayley is only 4, many of her chores are grooming chores, but there are several others in there as well.  Feeding the kitties and watering the plants are 2 of her favorites.  I like feeling a little less overwhelmed with all of the general "picking up" I was doing and Kayley doesn't need constant reminders on what happens next.  

She has a morning chorepack and and evening chorepack (so an opportunity to earn 2 Bee cards a day - 1 reward each week)!

If you are interested in this system I bought the book Managers of Their Chores by Steve & Terry Maxwell.  You can find it here:
I'd recommend it, especially if you are trying to figure out how to get your kids more involved in chores and helping out around the house.  :)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Summer Fun

Congratulations to the Graduate!

Of Kindergarten that is...  
When we started homeschooling, I never would've guessed that Kayley would LOVE it...and fly through it!  Kayley is still 4 and has completed BJU's Kindergarten program.  Uhm, wow!  It was, honestly, kind of an accident that things worked out so well.  It was not my doing.  It was Kayley's desire to know as much as she could.  And who would've guessed that she would think worksheets are fun?  (I never did!)

We will be moving on to 1st grade curriculum although I am pleased that I am feeling confident enough to think out of the grade-in-a-box and try some new things.  I will be posting more soon about what we will be doing for summer and 1st grade along with some organizational things that I am going to try or have already started.  I am also looking forward to doing reviews for The Old Schoolhouse and The Learning Parent! 

Right now we are just taking a few weeks off.  We've been playing the pool, participating in the library summer reading program, doing some deep cleaning and reorganization of chores and curriculum.  We have plans to do "Super Science Summer Camp" here at home and our own "Vacation Bible School."  Check back to see what we are up to, I'll try to update more often.  :)
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