Saturday, December 29, 2012

New house - New year - New stuff

Its been a very busy few months - okay - half a year...
At the beginning of the summer we started looking for a house to purchase, we were lucky enough to find a great one in a wonderful neighborhood and moved in over this past Labor Day Holiday (2012). Things were going very well and then my husband's employer of 26+ years laid him off just before Halloween. It has been stressful but we've enjoyed the holiday's and even though we are worried we are trying very hard to get ourselves back on track here.

Part of getting back on track is getting the Red Ranger's homeschool stuff organized and ready and the first thing is this great calendar/weather/daily skills practice notebook that I found to replace our board work. I'm not using all the pages in this lady's packet but choose what I wanted and I'm supplementing with other things to give the Red Ranger some busy work.
We are also starting the 1st book of Story of the World history series by Susan Wise Bauer. We've been using it when history dates come up but now we are going to start with Volume 1 - Ancient Times.

I am also starting him on All About Spelling, I got several great resources from some of the holiday sales that I'm really looking forward to adding to our homeschool journey. Two things that the Red Ranger got in his stocking this year from Santa were the next two sets of Rory's Story Cubes (Actions and Voyages). The other day I found that he had opened both sets and taken them into his room to make up stories. I never once told him to try them out but I love that he did!

And these were some of the other things under the tree that have a specific homeschool use.

I also have added a Facebook page for more daily postings. If you are on Facebook please join us over there - Braddock School Rooms

Here's the blog that I downloaded from and some pictures of what we are going to be using starting next week.

Here's our Notebook pack....

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Dry Erase Houses and McDonald's Happy Meal Boxes

A long time ago I started using Happy Meal boxes from McDonald's to store game pieces, themed games, card games, spelling and vocabulary index cards, story sequence cards, etc. They were cute most of the time because they were all from movies and all about kids, the lids even close up. What could be a better place to store extra's without them being in plain site if you are short on space.
The Night at the Museum ones worked for just about anything related to a museum and the Disney Pirate and Princess ones...well they were great for anything from fairy tales to anything to do with pirates. I usually just put a "post it" with whatever problem or task I wanted The Red Ranger to complete and he tossed the appropriate cards or game pieces inside the top.

Last week I was shopping the outlet section of Really Good Stuff's website and found a set of Word Family Houses with word cards and the houses each have a dry erase strip to write on with a dry erase marker or dry erase crayon with a slit to slide the cards through. I ordered the set and love it, it was only $6.99 to start with (at the time this post was written) and will go much further than just the word families because of the dry erase strip. 
Here's the link to the Word family houses product from Really Good Stuff .

Really Good Stuff Houses
Then I looked at my happy meal boxes -
As any thrifty homeschooling mom or teacher will tell idea will get our minds to working on three other ideas!
Yep, I have re-purposed the happy meal boxes again - who knew they had such a long life....

First off, let me say that I love the ones I bought. I highly recommend them, but they are on clearance, so who knows how long they will be available.
Second, my husband is a manager at McDonald's - I get a lot of Happy Meal boxes...
Third, I have a lot of scrapbooking supplies....:-)

The HM boxes to use are the plain old red ones with the smile on them and of course have no food stains inside. They make it much easier because there are no designs or pictures to worry about but I'm happy with what I ended up with -
and so is Rexy the dinosaur, the card slot is right below his mouth....

1) I started with those "Hello, my name is" labels, I cut the red parts off so that I would only have the white sticky part left, you'll end up with a strip about 3 3/8" X 1 1/2".
2) Then I took page protectors (glossy matte) and cut one down the side so that it opened and then cut a long lengthwise strip that matched the 3 3/8". I then cut this down with the 1 1/2" measurement, this then gave me seven pieces to work with.

Step 1
Step 2

3) I ran the clear plastic strips through my little Xyron 150 sticker maker, I did have to cut the strip down a little lengthwise to fit in the top of my Xyron. Since it was a clear item that I was running through I had to pay close attention so I knew when to add the next piece in, you'll end up with a long strip.
4) Then I peeled the now sticky plastic strip off the paper and covered the white sticker strip (that was left over from the "Hello" tags).

Step 3

Step 4 - Part 1

Step 4 - Part 2

5) Then I just placed combined stickers on the boxes where I wanted to place them. Then cut a slit for the cards to go through with a utility knife. (I think I'll add a colored tape on the slits to make them more noticable.)
6) Using a dry erase marker write the facts/lesson that you want learned or reviewed. It easy wipes off using your fingers or tissue.

Steps 5 & 6

After your child is done with the activity or center you can have them move onto something else while you check to see what ended up in the boxes. Better yet have them check how many they got right with a master sheet.

I see these being used a lot because they'll be adaptable for any subject. In fact after I was done making them and organizing the draft for this blog post The Red Ranger was already into them!
I can't ask for more than that....

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Monday, June 11, 2012

New Homeschooling Pages on blog...

After my judging gig I decided to start revamping my blog pages for easier navigation, something I learned while visiting other blogs. I'll be adding dedicated homeschooling pages to the menu bars above, I've already added two - Homeschooling Tips and Curricula - hopefully this will clean up the blog. Both of the new pages came from recent conversations with new homeschoolers looking for advice, I thought that it would be easier to say, "I have a post on my blog about this with lots of information and links to other homeschooling blogs".
I'll be going more in depth with certain pages and posts and others will just be a collection resource landing page with links. I hope this helps and hopefully some of the ideas I've had, those that I've found out about or have been shared with me by other homeschoolers will be passed on to others.
I've also added a "search" box function, "pinterest" link and a "labels" box to help with navigation.

Monday, May 28, 2012

End of a school year - Well, yes and no...

No more pencils
No more books
No more teacher's dirty looks
Out for summer
Out till fall
We might not go back at all.....

Summer Vacation -

Remember that little ditty?
Did you sing it?

As homeschooler's summer vacation is not exactly the same as it was for my husband and I when we were kids going to a traditional brick and mortar school. We don't have the testing now for our 9 year-old son that we had to gear up for, we don't have that longing for summer and no school that the months of May and June brought to us as kids.
Our son, The Red Ranger, has a totally different outlook - May and June are time to take off a little more time for family summer activities before everyone else has off and does them. He gets to enjoy the days without the crowds that will eventually come. We take breaks a bit more often and spend more time on history as Memorial Day and the historical events that early June bring - Midway and D-Day.
We homeschool year-round now, it just seemed to happen that way over time. We transition into the next grade over the summer months giving extra time to maybe subjects that were a little harder this year or might need a little extra practice. We move ahead in subjects where The Red Ranger excels so that he doesn't get bored. We tend to hit the books harder in July and August when being outside is harder for me with my asthma or just too hot for being outside. It's easy to adjust with a year-round schedule, at least for us, to still enjoy the summer but get that learning in when we can or need to depending on the day. We take a break at the beginning of the brick and mortar school year in September to again enjoy less crowds and shorter lines during the weekdays.

It all just seems easier in this fast paced society we all find ourselves in, the rush here and there, the demands everywhere from countless people. It just seems to work for us this way, to enjoy that time together as a family when the moments appear rather than wait for the weekend or summer vacation. I'm sure it would be different if my husband had weekends off instead, but he's schedule varies and more often than not he's off one or two weekdays and so we adjusted.
We adjusted when we began to homeschool and its been adjusting ever since to a point where its more comfortable and it works well...for now...will we need to adjust again?
Probably - most likely.
Most definately when we finally buy our house at the end of summer, early September.

So, here we will still have pencils and erasable pens (The Red Rangers fav!) and books....
but we'll also have...airplane carriers and battleships, fighters and subs as we learn more this year about World War II and Midway and then that will transition into America's fight for independence for July and so on....its like that mouse and its cookie and milk isn't it?
.....Then in September when its all about back to school.....
we'll be at the zoo or shore, something like that....maybe just maybe we'll make up our own little ditty -

Homeschooling is.....
math in your pj's,
science in the fridge, (Oh, I hope not!)
history at a battlefield or on the history channel,
poetry in the park or writing in the sand by the ocean...


If you are gearing up for end of the year - have fun!
If you are schooling year round, clink the lemonade glass with us!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Story Cubes and Math Dice

For Christmas, The Red Ranger, received two presents that we had placed on our Amazon Wish List with the intent of using them for lessons. Oddly enough, since opening them yesterday for our homeschool, he has continued to play with them - last night and into today, one of our days off.

I consider this a BONUS! 

Many times I use or re-purpose games for use in our homeschool, make stuff up as we go and every now and then I find perfect games to fit in with what we are doing.

The first gift were Rory's Story Cubes from GameWright.
There are 9 six-sided cubes each with a different picture on each side. There are several ways to play but basically the idea is throw "X" number of cubes and use those images as a story starter. Great for creative writing, oral storytime, party games.

We had a ton of fun playing with these and they will work great for The Red Ranger's writing.
They say ages 8+ but I don't see why younger children couldn't use 1-3 or 4 dice to tell stories. Since there are several ways to play with them all ages should benefit from them.
There is also a set of Action/Verb - Story Cubes....which just so happens to be next on our list of purchases when my Amazon Gift Cards start piling up again from my SwagBucks!
They do have a website, although ours were purchased through Amazon, in fact we haven't even checked out the website...we are simply having too much fun playing with them.
The Website is:

The other gift was Math Dice from Thinkfun.

You roll the two 12-sided dice first add or multiply the numbers and that becomes your "target number", then roll the three blue 6-sided dice - combine those numbers and see whose roll comes closet to the "target number".
They can be used for addition/subtraction/multiplication/division/powers/roots and more.
Ages 8-Adult (again I'm sure they can be used for younger children), all ages and math levels and multiple players.
We haven't checked out their website either but here's the web address for it -

We are loving both of these and can't wait to get the other Verb Story Cubes, I've also added them to the new Amazon Store here on the blog, I've added a tab for the Store at the top of the blog. Its one way of showing you the items we use in our homeschool and in general in one spot in case you are interested in getting them for yourself. Sometimes the things we use are out of print or discontinued, in fact quite a few were purchased through Amazon Associates and through Ebay used.
So far through Amazon Associates I've made a whopping .71 cents in a year and a half...good thing I'm not doing this for money...LOL!
I remember starting out homeschooling and being completely lost, we were accidental homeschoolers, I hadn't planned on it at all. Finding the tools, curriculum, everything was very hard and from time to time I found blogs and other homeschoolers that had paved the way for me - it didn't mean that what worked in their homeschools or homes would work for us but a lot of times it did and I was always very grateful - still if I can add things from time to time to help out - I will....

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