B4FIAR – Katy No Pocket (Sept 2014)

Here is my attempt at providing a glimpse into our adventures with Before Five in a Row (B4FIAR) when we “rowed” Katy No-Pocket! We do so much and it was so long ago (Sept 2014!!!) I’m having a hard time getting it all down but hopefully these photos will help! This is not the first book that we rowed I’ll be going back and gradually adding each book as I get time!

We did as the B4FIAR manual said and read the story each day and then did either bible, math, language arts, science, social studies (that’s what they call it) and art.

Here are my planing sheets:

   
 I chose to set up our cube shelves with ‘tray activities’ to spark conversations with the kids about the book and related themes for them to have access to all week.

Some ideas were straight out of the book and others were a stretch to relate but I tried to use as many items from home and our library as possible! The puppet, 1 of the puzzles and the books were from the library the rest we either had, I found on the internet or I just made it up (like the tool matching)! The only bought item was the Kangaroo and joey which we got for reduced for $5 (long story short I looked and agonised over buying it for ages because it was $25 or there about’s. When I finally decided to make the purchase I noticed some of the stitching was coming undone and when I pointed it out they dropped to price to $5! I was ecstatic!!!!!! More excited than the kids really!)

Full Set up of our Katy No-Pocket themed shelves
Full Set up of our Katy No-Pocket themed shelves
Close up of shelves: Kangaroo pattern blocks sheet tray, katy no-pocket colouring page, kangaroo lacing, tool outline matching, kangaroo themed books and Noah's ark puzzle (it had kangaroos on it!)
Close up of shelves: Top shelf L-R: Kangaroo pattern blocks sheet tray, katy no-pocket colouring page, kangaroo lacing Bottom shelf L-R: Tool outline matching, kangaroo themed books and Noah’s ark puzzle (it had kangaroos on it!)
Top shelf: Kangaroo puppet, map of Australia puzzle & Kangaroo with joey (I Love this toy) Next shelf: Kangaroo Montessori matching cards, Kangaroo free play diorama and Australian Animal puzzle
Top shelf: Kangaroo puppet, map of Australia puzzle & Kangaroo with joey (I Love this toy)
Next shelf: Kangaroo Montessori matching cards, Kangaroo free play diorama and Australian Animal puzzle
Master 4 playing with the mother and joey
Master 4 playing with the mother and joey
For Art on the last day (Friday) we all painted 2 different Aboriginal Kangaroo dot painting pictures! The kids and I had lots of fun doing it! (Yes I also painted some!)

Kids painting their Kangaroo Aboriginal Dot Painting
Kids painting their Kangaroo Aboriginal Dot Painting
Using our Aboriginal Art Books to copy designs for our kangaroo dot painting
Using our Aboriginal Art Books to copy designs for our kangaroo dot painting
Miss 22 months painting
Miss 22 months painting
Master 3 painting
Master 3 painting
Master 5 painting
Master 5 painting
Here is our finished work from the week:

   
    
    
    
    
    
   

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B4FIAR – How I plan & organise

This post is to explain and show how I plan and organise our B4FIAR (and plan to do the same for our FIAR weeks).

Here are the items I use for planning each book we row:

  • Before Five in a Row manual 
Our Before Five in a Row manual which is an absolute must of course!
Planning sheet to get all ideas, books, crafts, activities out of my head and down on paper
Week at a Glance planning page this is just the back of the planning page above which you can write down what youre doing each day.
  • Pinterest – I have a board for every Five in a Row book there is! It took forever to organise but it truly is a time saver because when I want to plan a book to row I go to that board and just look at all the ideas I have pinned previously. Here is my ‘Katy No-Pocket’ Pinterest board to give you an idea. 

Here are the items I use to store my planned ‘rows’ ready to go:

  • Clear plastic wallet
Clear plastic wallet to store planning sheet and all other worksheets etc that are needed for the week. I also use this after we’ve rowed a book to keep any non-consumables and the completed planning sheet so I can reuse with the next child.
  • Suspension file box 
Suspension file plastic store box to store each plastic wallet and extra items that wont fit inside the wallet.
  • 6 Drawer Trolley
6 Drawer Trolley to organise each days worksheets and books ready to be used on the day they are needed

Here is how we keep our completed work:

  • 3-ring Lever Arch File
Large file to store all completed work. I also print out the photos I’ve taken and put them in this file to help us remember all the fun we had.
  • Plastic sleeves
Plastic sleeves to store the kids work. Its best to use a 3-ring file as the weight of the paperwork can get very heavy.

 How I plan:

First I gather everything I need

 

I gather the following items to organise each row: B4FIAR manual, Picture book we are rowing, iPad, Worksheets I’ve printed, Planning Sheet with clipboard & pen.
 
PICTURE BOOK

I’ll read the book to get an idea of the story and themes it covers. They are all such beautiful precious books that the kids and I love. 

BEFORE FIVE IN A ROW MANUAL
Basically I open the manual and write down all the activities I’d like to do on my planning sheet. 

IPAD

I use the iPad to search my Pinterest related board and write down ideas from here, printing anything I haven’t already done. It’s also great for reserving any books I want to get from the library so they’ll be ready for me to collect before we start. 

WORKSHEETS/PRINTABLES

At the start of the school year I printed, cutout and laminated all worksheets/printables I wanted to use for all the books we were going to row which has saved me a heap of time each time I plan a row. 

Lots of Printables/Worksheets can be found on the following websites:

PLANNING SHEET

All the ideas I write in the planning sheet side are then transferred to the Week-at-Glance side according to what I’d like to cover each day eg. 

  • Monday – Bible 
  • Tuesday – Math 
  • Wednesday – Language Arts
  • Thursday – Science/Geography
  • Friday – Art/Cooking

It’s then a matter of just slipping each day’s printables into my 6-drawer trolley along with any additional library books or activities we will do and I’m set for the week. 

So that’s how I plan and organise our ‘rows’ hope it’s been helpful. 

Feel free to ask any questions if you’d like more information or I’ve missed something. 

Keeping pets – Silkworms

I know, I know silk worms are not official a pet, as such, but when it comes to our family silkworms are treated like pets! 

The kids seriously LOVE them and talk to them and pat them and try to cuddle them! (We probably should buy them a dog!!!! Nah! Silkworms are good!)

We’ve enjoyed reading this book about silk worms:

  

 

The pictures are great (of course being Steve Parish’s work) and show each stage of the silkworms life!

At the moment the silkworms are still in the larve stage and have yet to become moths but they are growing bigger and eating a huge amount of mulberry leaves every day!

Here is a progression of photos to show how much they have grown so far:

 

The paper napkin has the eggs attached and the tiny black lines are newly hatched silkworms!
 
   
    
    
   
 It’s going to be so exciting to finally see them spin their silk cocoon and eventually hatch out! 

There is nothing better than seeing, touching and experiencing nature to really learn! So much more can be taken in than just reading a book! They also become such great memories for the kids to remember in years to come!

Have you ever had silkworms as a family? 

Keeping Pets – Aquariums

We keep fish. We’ve had them for a couple of years now.

In terms of keeping pets, fish are probably the easiest, quietest, cheapest (cheap to buy that is, it does cost a bit to set up your tank initially) and least messy. So often I forget we even have “pets”.

It’s great for the kids learning about the fish, watching them eat, how they interact with each other (some fish are territorial and aggressive), behaviours and also learning about life and death (yes fish die and often too). It’s actually been a good lesson when their favourite fish dies and has been opportunity to talk about it openly. In fact we had a beta fish (or Siamese fighting fish) that died last year and I was quite upset about it, he was sick for a day and I kept going in to check on him it really affected me more than I thought it would.

We’ve just added a recent addition to one of our tanks, a blue yabby. We’ve called him “Bluey”.

“Bluey” hiding in his new home about to eat a piece of carrot
Being this is the first time we’ve had a yabby it’s given us the opportunity to read up about them.  We’ve found out a few interesting facts about yabbies like the fact that they like to eat carrots and they’re apparently very good escape artists.

“Bluey” the mountain climber with ‘Neon tetras’! Not sure if hes trying to escape or catch the fish!
The latest amazing thing that has happened is he moulted or shead his outer layer.

Here is his shed outer layer just sitting at the bottom of the tank!
There are so many varieties of fish and we’ve had a lot of the tropical varieties that are available.

‘Rummy nose’, ‘Black widows’, ‘Scissor fish’ and ‘Red eye tetras’ are in this tank
The kids have really enjoyed looking and learning about the fish and so many ‘lessons’ have been learned purely by observation.
What about your family, what pets do you keep?

A perfect ‘school’ day

Today was unlike our ‘normal’ homeschool days were we sit and do Circle time around the table like I mentioned in this post. I decided to mix it up a bit to keep the kids interested and it worked well. 

We sat on the floor in the lounge and used our ‘Betty Lukens Through the Bible in Felt’ to tell the story of Gods promise to Abraham “Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That’s how many descendants you will have!”

 

The kids loved putting all the pieces on as the story unfolded!

Then we got out our musical instruments and sang ‘Father Abraham had many sons’ while dancing around and making a beautiful band together! ☺️

  
Then I surprised the kids by getting out our puppets to ‘teach’ some table manners from this book!

  
The kids absolutely love talking to the puppets and telling them all about their day and even using their own teddies to talk to him! 

 

Some of our puppets ‘Daffy Duck’, ‘Dad’ & ‘Billy’
 
‘Daffy Duck’ read them the book and then ‘Dad’ and ‘Billy’ role played some scenes and the kids had to say if they were using their manners or not. They thought it was hilarious when they slurped their food, stood on their chairs and walked around during the meal. 

Once our puppets went to bed I settled on the couch with a read aloud book we are almost finished reading while the kids played cars on the floor!

  
The kids and I have thoroughly enjoyed this true story about a lion who was bought from Harrods Dept store by 2 Aussie guys living in London who eventually release him back into the wild in Kenya, Africa. (I think it’s quite a famous story but I had never heard about it before) It’s written simply enough and the chapters are short so that Miss 2 has been able to follow the story and enjoy it too!

After we’d read 2 chapters Master 4 and I made play dough! He played with the kitchen scales experimenting with what different items weighed and it was a good exposure to large triple digit numbers! We had trouble getting our green food colouring to colour the play dough so ended up also adding all our purple colouring which only just tinged it slightly so we then used all our pink colouring! This is the final colour we ended up with a nice purple colour!

 

After adding green, purple and pink we finally ended up with a nicely coloured playdough! I’m just glad it didn’t turn brown!
  
 

Once our play dough was done
we went outside and the boys played while Miss 2 and I weeded the backyard garden beds in preparation for some seed planting! By this time it was lunch so we had to stop for something to eat and then the kids went into rest time! After rest time they had a snack and watched a video and then we went back outside to finish the weeding and plant some seeds!

So now we have thyme, oregano, sweet basil, parsley, marigolds and sweet peas planted in our herb and veggie patch! The kids all got involved in planting the seeds and I hope we have better success than the last ones we planted which got eaten by the bugs most likely slugs, snails and slaters. It’s going to be their job to squish any they see from now on. 

Once this was done Master 6 decided he wanted to make a bug catcher like we’d seen in this book!
  

So I gave him a shovel and he dug a hole to put his jar in to catch the bugs like this …

  
I’m sure they’ll be out there every 5 mins to check it’s got bugs in it this week! I was amazed though at how resourceful he was in finding the right sized rocks to hold up a brick he found to cover the jar to stop rain getting in exactly like the book had! He also dug it all out by himself which was a big job for him! All I offered was encouragement and told him where to find the jar and the rest he did himself! 

Wish I could show you photos but it’s too dark outside! Maybe I’ll attach them later! 

Anyway that is how our ‘perfect’ school day went today! Lots of learning but heaps of fun too!

Ladybug Lifecycle

We recently read about the life cycle of ladybugs in the “The Wonderland of Nature” by Nuri Mass (I blogged briefly about how we use it here) and then we’re blessed enough to actually see some ladybugs in their different stages of life cycle.

Here you can see the ‘aphid eater’:

“Aphid Eater”

Here is the Ladybug in the pupa stage:

 

Ladybug pupa
  
Here is a Ladybug  that has emerged from the pupa stage:
Beautiful orange Ladybug with black spots
 
It really is amazing the transformation that it makes to become an adult Ladybug!

If we hadn’t read about it recently I would never had realised what the aphid eater was to be able to point it out to the kids. It’s wonderful to be able to see and experience it in nature after you’ve read about it in a book. 

We purchased a second hand hardback copy of the book on a homeschool sell and buy site but if you’re interested in the book they can be purchased new in soft book form from Homeschooling Downunder

  

Curriculum 2015 (Part 1 of 3) – Circle Time & Group Learning

This is the first post detailing the curriculum we have used this year in our schooling. The next two posts to follow will detail what we have used for Kindy and First Grade. 

Each morning we start of together as a group in some learning activities. This time is called “Circle Time”. For those of you not familiar with the concept you can find more information on the Preschoolers and Peace site. The ebook they sell is only $4.99 and is a great help to get your Circle time planned and provides lots of ideas for what to cover. 

Here is our normal Circle time structure:

BIBLE READING

  
We’ll normally read a few pages of our bible to start. 

PRAYER DOOR

  
We then move into a time of prayer praying for our own family, our sponsor children, some missionaries we support, any families we know who are sick, in need of prayer and/or who need salvation. 

CHARACTER TRAINING

  
This character curriculum has lots of wonderful ideas and activities to introduce the concepts of each character quality simply for young children to understand. It’s designed to be used each day for 5 days and covers the definition, a memory verse, the ‘I wills’, a simple prayer, and activities and lessons to reinforce the application in real life. 

Here are some sample pages:

 It really is an open and go structure making it easy to implement without any prep (besides gathering a few basic supplies when doing the lessons) as per below:

  
You can purchase the ebook here. I printed mine out and spiral bound it at Officeworks which makes it easier to use. 

CALENDAR & WEATHER 

  
Next we update our calendar and weather chart and the 2 oldest complete their calendar notebooks:

  
  
The calendar chart printable and calendar notebook are from Our Aussie Homeschool. 

SCRAPBOOK JOURNAL (THURSDAYS)

  
On a Thursday the boys draw a picture in their scrapbook journal and then dictate a sentence on what they’ve drawn. Eventually they will copy the sentence and then we will progress to them writing it all by themselves. 

NATURE JOURNAL (FRIDAYS)

  
On Friday we will normally read a chapter from the Wonderland of Nature book, get outside to explore and complete a page from the notebooking journal that goes with it. It really is a beautiful book with each chapter detailing an aspect of nature to study but is written in a way that draws you into a story about Nuri and her son, Chris and daughter, Tess exploring and learning about nature together. It contains lots of facts and diagrams but introduces it in a gentle manner. Very easy to understand for young children. (Recommended by Charlotte Mason followers) 

  
Other times we might take a photo of an insect the kids have found print it out and put in their journal. 

  
  

BEFORE FIVE IN A ROW

Some weeks we will stray from this plan and just focussing on rowing a book from our Before Five in a Row manual but that is for another post. 😊

AMBLESIDE ONLINE/CHARLOTTE MASON BOOKS

I neglected to mention I also read some of the books/poetry recommended by Ambleside Online Year 1 while the kids are completing their work.  I might also cover this in another post as this one is getting long. 😳

Next up we will talk about the curriculum we use for our Kindy boy.  

Snapshot of year so far …

Being that we’re over half of the way through this school year and the blog has just started wanted to give a snapshot of what’s happened so far …

  • We started the school year earlier than the “official” school term mainly because we’d finished the 2014 school year back in November and the lack of structure for many weeks was starting to show. Also because I’d spent so long planning out what we were going to do and was stressing over how it was all going to work I just decided to start rather than stewing. 
  • All went well until I got so overwhelmed and burnt out after 6 weeks I decided to break for a holiday. During that time I was able to get outside and weed the garden and do some cooking just to clear my head and evaluate where I went wrong and what needed to change. I also took time to prep (laminate and cut out) more of the work I had planned for our Kindy work boxes so I wouldn’t have to do it every week. 
  • It took a few weeks before I felt ready to start back again but this time I didn’t gallop headlong into it but rather gradually introduced subjects each day and just did what we could manage rather than every single thing I’d planned out. 
  • Moving on down the track I’m still learning not to put so much pressure on myself and when sickness and interruptions come I’m more accepting of the pace that we have to go to get through. 

Next post I’ll outline what curriculum we are using. 

Lego Creations

Well it’s finally happened Lego fever has hit our house. This has been a long anticipated event for me. I’ve been waiting and waiting for the boys to want to build with their Lego but it just wasn’t happening. They had a few different sets but they just weren’t playing with them. Then it suddenly dawned on me it was the way it was presented and that’s when I had the brilliant but very simple idea to throw all our bits in one box and let them use their imaginations to build and … It worked!

   
 
By simply throwing them all in this box and letting them use their imaginations all sorts of creations have been made. 

Here is one day’s worth of creations:

   
    
    
    
    
    
    
 
Here is another days worth of creations:

   
    
    
    
    
    
    
 
This has been fantastic for afternoon rest/quiet time as it keeps them occupied and happy. 

So what was it that made the difference? I worked out the boys were looking at the Lego boxes and instructions that came with the pieces and getting overwhelmed by how complicated it looked. We initially made up the trucks and cars as per the instructions for them as the kids wanted them made up but then didn’t play with them after that. So by pulling everything apart and popping them in a box together with no instructions they didn’t get caught up making it try to look like the picture and their imaginations could invent some new creations. 

Admittedly the boys are only 4 and 6 years old but they are still more than capable of creating some awesome vehicles.  

Looking forward to more of their creativity. 

Letter and Number Recognition fun activity

It’s funny how when you’re homeschooling you become more aware of how simple everyday activities can be a teaching opportunity. 

Take for example our latest breakfast time ritual. On the days when we have eggs on toast about twice a week the kids love tomato sauce on toast. 

Somehow it came about that we starting drawing on the toast with the squeeze bottle of sauce. It started off as smiley faces, then the first letter of each person name, then we’ve moved on to numbers. 

  
The younger ones now tell me the letter or number they want written and then we say it together. I’ll usually say the letter sound and we talk about words that start with that sound. 

  
Our oldest writes his own which has been fantastic to practice letter/number formation and also for fine motor skills. It can be quite a challenge to get the letters just right. 

Just recently the kids have been asking for double digit numbers including our 2 year old which is a great learning experience and so much more interesting than just reading it off a sheet of paper. 

What different or weird ideas do you use as “teaching” opportunities?