Our Schoolroom

Not Back to School Blog Hop

I’m a little late posting our school room information – but still wanted to get it up. I was hoping to have it more organized and clean before I took these photos and posted online…but have decided this is as good as its going to get for now.

Our house was built in 1958, our schoolroom/playroom (like a lot of other families) is the dining room area. This space was the most ideal because of the amount of time I spend in the kitchen and the need to keep an eye on the babies. Well the babies are growing, but more are joining our family.

Petra and Jasper will turn 3 and 4 this fall, and our new baby foster boy is 8 months old. So this room needs to work for all three, at all times.


This summer we painted the room a bright green to brighten it up, and we included magnetic and chalkboard paint on one wall. The left side of the wall we use to display the children’s work. On the right side you will see the chalkboard and calendar. Across the top of the chalkboard are some of the traits we are working on as a family – Love, Obedience, Patience, Joy, Forgiveness, Compassion. and Self-Control. I also have a few phonics posters hanging up at the moment.

The hard part with the magnetic wall has been finding magnets that are strong enough to hold up artwork and posters. It has been no small feat. So far, neodymium magnets have worked best and I need to order some more.

Below the chalk board is an assortment of baby toys that are now essential to the room. The bouncer seat is my life saver because baby is old enough to hold his own bottle and will sit it in happily for at least a few minutes.

Also on the chalk board is our current memory verse hanging in a pocket chart that I picked up from Target for $1. Unfortunately figuring out how to hang it was more complicated. And ended up with fancy hook magnets that fall if the kids tug on it at all. So I need something more permanent.

The bookshelf is my favorite new addition to the room. We picked it up off Craigslist for $15 and repainted it. The rug was a more recent addition and was necessary to keep the baby toys from sliding across the floor when baby pulls up to a standing position. Jasper’s a little disappointed its no longer in his room, but it works better in the schoolroom for now.

And then on either side of the bookshelf are the Petra and Jasper’s work boxes. This is simply the easiest and most effective way to be sure they do their work while I’m away at my full-time job. The nanny helps them with it. And I know they are staying on target with what I want them to learn. And its not rocket science…yet…so this works fine at the moment.

The shelf houses some of our most important everyday materials and the children can reach everything on it. The bottom right pink bin holds baby toys. The bottom left pink bin holds library books. In between are a number of other plastic boxes for tape, glue, crayons, markers, chalk, magnetic letters, foam animals, etc.

The top shelf has books we use on a regular basis and a dictionary, puzzles, and other games. The top of the bookshelf has our “class” pet fish, our index holder for our memory verse cards, and some big coloring books and workbooks.

To the right of the bookshelf is Petra’s workboxes, a watermelon (as seen in this photo), and also the kitchen stool that the kids drag out all the time to help with cooking.

The other side of the room gets junked up fast. It has the kids table, the IKEA easel, and shelves that hold arts and crafts, paints, dry erase markers, some puzzles, flashcards, play dough, and need to put away pile, and other random kitchen items like the mixer, protein powder, vitamins, potatoes and onions, etc. I guess you could say its a catch all area.

And finally, my latest edition to the room is the new laminator. Not sure where I’m going to store it, but I’m so excited about having one finally.

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Kindergarten Goals

I’ve been looking around at different schools in the area, mainly to see what they try to accomplish in the kindergarten year and if they list curriculum. So far, Christ Classical Academy in Tallahassee is my favorite (and has been for a while.) They have a very comprehensive list of kindergarten goals online. I’ve copied and pasted it below:

Reading/Language Arts

  • Be immersed in a literature rich environment in which students will develop phonemic awareness, oral language, and auditory processing skills
  • Develop a love for literature and gain awareness of beautifully illustrated stories
  • Listen and respond to stories, rhymes, conversations, discussions, and one and two step instructions
  • Know that print is read and written left to right and top to bottom
  • Recognize the parts of a book
  • Show their understanding of a story by retelling the order of important events in the story or by acting out the story
  • Recognize beginning, middle and end of stories
  • Recognize and categorize folktales, nursery rhymes, fairy tales
  • Distinguish between rhyming and non-rhyming words
  • Participate in shared reading and writing activities
  • Compare and contrast different versions of the same story
  • Predict outcomes of stories
  • Create books such as class books and individual take home books
  • Recognize that books are made of words and words are made of letters and letters stand for speech sounds we call phonograms
  • Identify number of syllables in words
  • Identify simple parts of speech (noun, verb, adjective)
  • Be able to identify, verbalize, and write the basic single and multi-letter phonograms (visual and auditory)
  • Begin to recognize phonograms in print
  • Learn correct handwriting strokes of capital and lowercase letters
  • Begin to spell, read, and write words using phonograms
  • Learn correct posture and pencil grip for writing
  • Begin to write simple sentences using capital first letter, proper spaces between words, and correct end mark
  • Take risks in writing
  • Begin to write thoughts on paper through journal writing
  • Write first and last name using capital first letter and completing with lowercase

Mathematics

 

  • Skip count by 5, 10, and 25 (to 100)
  • Verbally count to 100
  • Count objects (one-to-one) to 100
  • Identify patterns in nature and environment
  • Using manipulative identify patterns, add to them, and create new ones
  • Sort and arrange items by traits or by category
  • Use number words to describe how many are in a set
  • Use one-to-one correspondence to describe relative sizes of sets
  • Make and use graphs of real objects or pictures to answer questions
  • Read a daily calendar, using days, weeks, and months
  • Describe the order of events or objects, using words such as first, second, before, after, and between
  • Compare daily temperature and weather activity
  • Compare and order objects according to length, weight, or capacity
  • Identify, describe, and compare shapes and solids in real-life objects
  • Use manipulatives in order to move from the concrete to symbolic levels
  • Use a variety of manipulatives to recognize number groups
  • Use a variety of manipulatives to create number group addition/subtraction patterns
  • Recognize and use correct signs for basic equations (plus, minus, equal signs)
  • Solve problems in everyday life
  • Use correct stoke patterns to write the numerals 0-9
  • Identify, verbally name, and draw six basic shapes
  • Identify coins and their value
  • Be able to count coins to $1.00
  • Read clock by hour and half-hour
  • Understand time concepts such as yesterday, today, tomorrow
  • Estimate quantities in a set
  • Use daily chart graph to recognize place value (ones, tens, hundreds)

 


Bible

  • Understand the nature of God as Creator, Redeemer, and Savior
  • See the Bible as the living and life giving Word of God
  • Praise and worship God through prayer, song and Bible study
  • Be introduced to people of faith through Old and New Testament stories
  • See God’s work of Redemption through the birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ
  • Delight in God’s love and experience a heartfelt response to Him through obedience

 

Memory Work

  • Psalms 139:1-16
  • Psalms 100
  • Psalms 19:1-11
  • 1 John 4:7-21
  • Exodus 20:1-17
  • Selected poems/finger plays/songs throughout the year

Science

  • Observe weather changes and record weather patterns daily
  • Name four seasons and name characteristics of each season
  • Identify unique attributes of self that has been created by God
  • Identify primary and secondary colors
  • Know how to create secondary colors from primary colors
  • Identify the five senses and use them to make observations and discoveries
  • Identify simple plant parts and their function
  • Observe and understand the conditions needed for seed germination and plant growth
  • Know different types of plants
  • Observe and record changes in plant growth
  • Classify animals by type, as well as by environment
  • Identify characteristics of pond life
  • State differences between freshwater and saltwater
  • Look for patterns, designed by God. in the natural environment
  • Share in science activities by bringing items from home and travels

Social Studies

  • Understand significance of patriotic holidays
  • Use maps, pictures, and symbols to gain information
  • Identify self by name, address, telephone, number, and birthday
  • Identify family members and traditions
  • Place events in order of time (first, next, last)
  • Identify different forms of transportation
  • Name community helpers and their contribution to society
  • Differentiate types of landforms and aquatic life and source
  • Compare and contrast living conditions in the present day life to life in the past

Preschool Update

In case you haven’t met us in the past….and you are just now visiting our website.
My new name is mommy-pommy. I like to sew and really wish I had more time for it.
This is daddy-paddy. He likes to fish and never has time for it. And spends all his spare time on writing his dissertation.
(Speaking of fishing when Jasper woke up last weekend he told me immediately that he wanted to go to the woods and go fishing. So it seems that our little boy has an interest in it and has probably been dreaming of it. It’s not normally something you would hear first thing in the morning, certainly not the first words from his mouth.)
Back to topic. Our new names should give you somewhat of an indication of how much rhyming is going on in our home these days. Petra calls us this continually through the day…and sometimes she calls us Ms. Sherri or Thomas, because this is what she hears other children call us, but this is not an approved form of communication. So usually she sticks to the rhymes.
But she is not the only one rhyming. Jasper has picked up on it too. He is rhyming on a daily basis –so he is picking up on some skills very early. He rhymes on a daily basis. For instance I was saying something “stinks” and he quickly informed me that “pink and stink rhyme mommy.”  And he threw in a few more words while he was at it.
Jasper is picking up on a lot. I’ve been very happy to see how much he doing and understanding over the last three weeks. I’ve been wondering how much of Petra’s reading lessons he has been absorbing, and I would say it’s quite a bit. He will hear me or her sounding out a word, and he will blend the sounds together into a word before one of us does. For instance Petra will say “th” and “ing” and Jasper, who’s working on a puzzle 3 feet away, voices “thing” before Petra even has a chance. He’s also been working on the Bob Books app on my iphone and does pretty well on it. Oftentimes I give him this to play with while I teach Petra her lessons. That way they both are doing a “reading” lesson at the same time. This app is very useful and has several different levels of difficulty. Other times I quickly go through letters and sounds with Jasper – but this is the extent of his reading lessons at this time.
I picked up this really cute Noah’s ark puzzle from the dollar store. The only problem is the pieces are so low quality that they move and shift all over the place. It’s very hard for me to keep them together, not to mention a 2 year old. So I would not recommend it.
Over the last month, Jasper also hit a new level with puzzles. I’ve really been shocked at how quickly he is advancing. Last week he did a 36-piece puzzle by himself. This is something Petra does not do…she really doesn’t care for puzzles.  Petra usually doesn’t enjoy puzzles, but sit down this week and also did a 36-piece puzzle by herself. Which was quite shocking because I’ve never even seen her do a 12-piece puzzle by herself. But she set her mind to it and wouldn’t let us help. Buts it is funny to see them working together on a puzzle because Jasper will quickly know where a piece goes and she will struggle with it…and he will say to her “right there” and she may still be clueless. But to be fair to Petra, she really doesn’t like puzzles. Jasper on the other hand likes the challenge and will insist on doing it alone.
Petra is this way at reading. If I try to help her with a word too much – she will say “No, let me do it by myself;” she gets upset and tells me to be quiet. I’ve moved her reading lesson book down to a shelf she can reach. She pulled in out at least 5 times over the weekend and asked to have a reading lesson. I’ve started writing several sentences (with new words/sounds) on the easel each day and she practices reading those throughout the day – that way I know she is reading some while I’m at work and getting practice on words from recent lessons. So she does this on top of the work that is in her workboxes – which usually includes some copywork, spelling, math, mazes, and puzzles. The nanny knows to go through the sentences with her once or twice during the day. And sometimes Petra reads them off before I head out the door in the morning. The sentences usually aren’t the most exciting or interesting, and sometimes sound funny so she can practice new words – and Petra always wants to know “why.” We were sitting around the table last night and I wrote a few words (shelf, sink, sank, this, chip, costs, quack, sing, shell, etc) for her to read. She wanted more. So I wrote: “Jasper will jump and trip” – which she read with ease. And then she always asks “why” and I tried to explain I was just writing a sentence for her to read and it didn’t mean Jasper would actually jump and trip….but I think she wonders why I write sentences and words that don’t carry much meaning.
Petra has started reading “fun” books in the evenings. She gets a sticker to put on a chart after each book she completes. She wanted to transcribe the titles to the bottom of the chart to record each book she read.
I’m also trying to focus more on math work. Both of the children know same, different, bigger, smaller. I went through a few preschool pages with them over the weekend just to see how they did on these – they had no problems. And Petra can identify many of her numbers 0-10 and write them on her own.  Petra is starting a kindergarten math workbook which has same and different at the beginning – but the pictures are a little bit more complex and make it harder to tell which thing is different. Jasper is also doing well at math concepts.
In fact, I jumped in the car last week and blurted out what is 1+1 – Jasper shouts out 2. I haven’t really taught them addition. I’ve shown them an addition formula a few times. We have talked about it some. And we spend time counting up sets in books, and then counting the sets together to see the total – but nothing really formal. I was a little shocked. I don’t think Thomas would have believed me if he had not been there for himself. We just looked at each other dumbfounded.
I wish I had more time to teach them each day. Jasper is most definitely ready for more math from a concept level – but not ready for the writing that accompanies it.  Because of their age, they really need to learn through more hands on activities, and less workbook pages. However, it’s a lot easier to leave workbooks and puzzles while I’m away at work, than hands-on math ideas. But there are simple ideas I can leave – it’s just not as much as I would like. Today I left different color beads for them to make a pattern. For instance ABABABAB. I need some simple ideas for teaching them math, especially Jasper, that doesn’t involve writing skills. Petra’s new math workbook has an activity suggestion to go along with each page – so at the moment I’m going to be using this to as the hands on activity to do with both of the children.
And while school hasn’t officially started, and it sounds like we are doing a lot, we really aren’t. Their workboxes are usually done in half an hour. And Petra may get a total of 30 minutes of reading time throughout the day – so its not a lot. Everything I mentioned can be done very quickly.

Review: The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading

I have loved using  The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading to teach Petra. This book is the perfect backbone for teaching the average child to read. And even better–its not expensive. I truly believe it should be given to anyone you know with a young child.

I started Petra in the book in May when she hit 3.5 years old. She has been working through the lessons for about 3 months now. We skipped section 1 on letter sounds because she already knew every letter sound forward and backwards  and honestly it seems rather silly to make her memorize a poem when she already knew the sounds. That poem looked very tedious even to me. I’d recommend you just buy Leap Frog’s Letter Factory DVD for learning sounds and practice with your kids all the time. Practice at home, practice in the car, practice anytime you see a letter. Section 1 is good for memory work — but I’d rather use the Bible or famous poems for memory work.

So we started in section 2 with reading lessons. Some children at this age have a hard time understanding how to sound out words and blend them together and I had already been working with her for weeks at this point on just “at” words. But it had finally clicked and we moved into the book with gusto. (On a side note, Jasper is having no problem blending words at 2.5 years because he has been exposed to it so much with her doing it).

The authors, Jessie Wise and Sara Buffington, (Jesse Wise is quite famous for her classical homeschooling books), present the words and move through lessons in a methodical way. It makes sense not only to me, but also to Petra. It builds very nicely so that on nearly every page she is able to read the words before I even explain the rule.

Here is how we have proceeded:

  • We started with about 5-10 minutes a day, and now we usually work 15-30 minutes a day. And sometimes we go back and review sections later in the day.
  • Instead of reading the script, I paraphrase. And instead of her reading from the book, I often write the words on a white board. She loves to read them off the board. Sometimes I have her help me write some of the letters, or add the last letter to the word and then read it. Sometime I have her copy the words from the book to the whiteboard, and then read. Then I also take the whiteboard in the car while we are traveling as a family. I scribble down a word and hold it up for her to read. And then sometimes we just read straight from the book.
  • We are moving through a lesson every 1-2 days and Petra loves it! She is disappointed on days that we don’t have time to do a reading lesson. It is a very special time for us, and probably will be some of my fondest memories through the years. She is becoming phonetically trained and is sounding out words she has never seen before.
  • I also have bribed her with a piece of sugarless gum (or sometimes 3-5 tic tacs) after each full lesson that she does well on. She has to sit still, pay attention and concentrate. If we are just reviewing, she doesn’t get any  gum or tic-tacs. It is saved only for new lessons.

Petra added the “s” to each word in the photo below. I had her read the word, add the “s,” then reread each word.

One last plus to the book is that it is greatly expanding Petra’s vocabulary. Most lessons have words that she doesn’t know. We make sentences out of the words. We look them up in a dictionary to find their meaning. And we talk about them.

I highly recommend this book to every parent of preschoolers or young children learning to read.

We moved on to section 7 today which begins with Lesson 65 on Long Vowel, Silent-E Words. Here is a video of Petra reading the sentences from today’s lessons. This was her third time reading these sentences. She read them through with some minor help the first time, then immediately I had her identify the long-vowel words and circle them and read it again. She flew through it the second time. We came back to it after a couple hours for the third time and for me to take this video.

I have only one complaint with the book and that is the font of the text. Due to the chosen font, a capital “I” looks like an lowercase “l.” Which can be confusing to a beginner reader. However, I’m sure this is pretty common in books so it may have been done on purpose. It doesn’t change my opinion of the book. Bottom line: buy it. It’s the best $30 you’ll spend on your child. Literacy is a wonderful gift.

Jasper the Brave

My favorite moments with my children often slip by too quickly. It seems like too often I forget to write down the moments that strike me as extraordinary. And then within a matter of days they are lost.

Tonight was a favorite moment. I don’t want to forget it.

On the way home from church tonight, Petra spotted an itsy bitsy bug on her car seat. I’m honestly not even sure it was a bug, it might have just been a speck of dirt.

Meltdown ensued. Screaming for help. Big tears pouring down her cheeks. She’s pretty girly, and she just wasn’t having it.

To the rescue was none other than Jasper the Brave. (despite the fact he was strapped down, he wanted to run to her rescue, he had no idea how big the bug was).

He quickly orders Petra:

“Be still! Do not cry! I will kill it.”

Our boy was quickly trying to maneuver his way out of his car seat so he could help. I almost thought it might be good to let him help. But we had to stop him  – I couldn’t have him out of his car seat when we were traveling 75 miles an hour down the highway.

We were so happy with his desire to help her and also his ability to quickly give such perfect directions. They were truly perfect directions for what Petra was perceiving as a crisis.

He has had a lot of compliments lately on his communication/speaking skills…and this is just another one of his very often displays of love and service he gives to those around him. I love this boy!

Bible Memorization

We have started using the Charlotte Mason Bible memory verse system and is just what we needed. We have often taught Petra a memory verse, only to forget to go back to it at a later date so that she retains it.

The Bible memory verse system by Charlotte Mason is simple and effective. You cycle through all memory verses at least monthly, and do the ones you are learning, or recently learned on a more regularly basis. And all it takes are some 3×5 index cards and a box for them.

You can check it out here.

Here they are reciting some of their verses. You will notice they can’t stand still…but they still know what they’ve learned. =)

And baby makes three …. again

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Jasper, baby boy, and Petra in the nursery

Last week we added another addition to our family – a foster son. Baby boy is 7 months old and is perfectly healthy, developmentally on target, and ready for action with the big kiddos. Petra is very happy about her new role as big sister to two. She makes time to play with him, doesn’t get upset if he gets in the way, wants to feed and care for him, and more. Big brother Jasper is taking a little more warming up. He is doing fine. This morning he brought baby boy a toy to play with – one of his cars. But sometimes pushes baby out of the way. The first few days were a little rough for Jasper, he suggested we take him back. But once I explained that he could play ball when he was bigger, everything was A OK.

Its been 4 months since we had 3 children in the house – and the last third child, Destiny, was a teen – so its very different. But baby boy is a very easy child. He likes to play, eat and sleep and is not overly fussy or difficult. His worst disliking is the car seat.

Destiny is back home and we miss her. But still get to see her weekly. Last week we got our first opportunity to watch her baby boy Aiden all by ourselves. It was actually a little quieter in the house than I expected with 4 children 3 years old or younger. Aiden is a very, very easy and sweet child.

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Petra, Aiden, and baby boy sitting in the playroom/schoolroom.

We haven’t heard any mention of how long baby boy might be with us, but we are expecting it will be quite some time based on previous experiences and our knowledge of the case. So I’m sure you will see more of him to come.