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Oh Lovely Sight Words

Sight words….they are every kids worst nightmare and every homeschool moms least favorite to teach…at least for me it is. Our six year old is a problem solver and thinker, so sitting down to recite and memorize sight words is agonizing to him. I can hear him as I write this blog say, “Awe mom, please don’t make me do sight words again.” And I get it, they never end. Sight words keep showing up every day of the month….in, out, her, his, had, has, her, his, our, they, their, who, when, where, say, said, and the list goes on and on and on and on.

sight words 1

Since they aren’t the favorite thing to do at our house, I decided a few weeks ago to switch it up a bit. I simply hid the words around the house and told my son that if he found them all and was able to read all but two of them he could have a sweet treat. At that moment something shifted…all of the sudden he was moving quickly through the house and when discovering a word, he almost immediately read it. As I watched him, I thought to myself, “This could not be the same boy who fights me at the desk to read just one word. This could not be the same boy who at the hearing of the words “sight words”, lays his head on the table.” But it was. Before I knew it, he had not only found all the words, but read them aloud as well. See he was in his element. He had solved the problem and was rewarded for doing so. I knew after this I needed to find some more creative ways to work on our “oh so lovely” sight words.

Here are a few activities to help create an exciting way to learn sight words:

  1. Sight word Go Fish – write each site word twice on individual index cards, shuffle and play
  2. Sight word Hop Scotch – as you jump from word to word, recite the word.
  3. Sight word Bingo
  4. Sight word Seek and Find – this can be as simple as writing a bunch of words on a sheet and have them highlight or circle their current sight words or grab a book and see how many points they can get for finding sight words in the book.
  5. Sight Word Search and Find – write many words, pictures, stickers, etc. on a piece of paper and have your child highlight the sight words.

You can find many more activities at Childhood 101 and by googling or searching Pinterest for sight word activities. With activities like these, I believe both you and your child will find sight words a little more lovely. If you have any ideas to share, please do so as we are always looking for creative ways to learn.


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Pre-K at Home!

I remember over two years when my mother-in-law asked me to sit down as she had something to share with me. As she shared with me things she saw in me, she quickly said, “Now don’t freak out when I tell you this, but there will be a time in your life I see you homeschooling.” And yes, I laughed out loud. I was a working mom and staying at home to teach was not in my plans. However, I am in month 7 of “homeschooling” my five and two year old boys. I write “homeschooling” because it is only Pre-K and I am not implementing a particular curriculum, but in my mind school is school.

So what got me here? I became a stay at home mom when my family moved to Texas and my oldest son was approaching Pre-K. At the end of 2013, he had begun our church’s Pre-K class two days a week and we were now approaching the fall of 2014. But due to a late birthday, he would remain in the same class at the church, which meant he would be receiving the curriculum again for the 2nd time. Therefore, I knew I needed to add to what they were doing or I could pull him out of his current class to attend another Pre-K school. Since we had recently moved, I did not want to remove him from a place he had become familiar with and really enjoyed attending, so I went with the other option…homeschool! (And yes I saw my mother-in-laws face as I made this decision. LOL) I decided I would reimplement what he was learning in his church class and add to it by including science, history, and math as the church’s class was more focused on writing, recognition and phonics.

So in August 2014, Pre-K began in our home. I remember the night before the first day of school at home, I sat in my chair wondering where do I even begin as I felt my brain had been stuck. Then it happened, it was like a literal lightbulb went off, I opened up excel and started creating lesson plans for the week. I started with letter A…genius I know. I began thinking of words that began with the letter and went from there. The word chosen would lead, for the most part, the art, science, math, and reading lesson. For example, A is for apple would include writing the word, apple art prints, learning about how apples grow, guessing and counting the seeds within the apple, using the seeds in a science experiment, writing the letter A using the seeds, reading Ten Apples Up On Top by Dr. Seuss, and more. Many of my ideas would come from a google and Pinterest key word search like “apple pre-k or kindergarten lesson”. I also purchased workbooks from Target and the Dollar Tree that were Pre-K and Kindergarten specific. Below is a link to what my lessons look like.

Pre-K Letter A Lesson Plan

There is definitely much to improve on and more to tell when it comes to what our days look like including have a two year old involved, but I wanted to give you a glimpse into homeschool for our family. I hope this helps you think through homeschooling as an option for you even if it is just Pre-K.


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“Why Is It Just With Me?”

“Why is it just with me?” I do not know about you, but as a mom I have this question many times during the week. The kids are with their dad running to the store and dad returns to tell you how perfect they were. You pick the kids up from school and the teachers brag on how well-behaved your children have been . The kids leave for the weekend to be with their grandparents and when you pick them up they call your kids “sweet angels”. Yep, these are a few of the scenarios I have lived through and have many more to share if you would like to hear.  🙂

I am not sure if it is because I am home with them more or what, but my sons like to have the most tantrums, fights and crazy moments with me more than anyone else. Even my husband will say in confusion, “I just don’t understand.” (Feels good to know someone sees it, too, and I am not crazy. LOL. ) Well I didn’t understand either until I started thinking more about it, reading a few articles and talking with other moms.

Here a few things I have learned. These have encouraged me and I hope they encourage you if you are experiencing any mom vs. kids’ moments.

1. Your kids feel safer with you so any feelings and emotions they don’t share with others, they decide to share with you. Yep, mom you are their safe place and in their safe place they will let their emotions free.

2. Your kids are literally with you more, which means the more time with you the more opportunities for crazy to arise.

3. Your kids, especially if they are between the ages of 2 to 5, see every day as a day to test boundaries. When they are in an unfamiliar place, they are more likely to play it safe, but when they are in the familiar the greater likelihood for them to take the risk and push the boundaries you have set. So moms, stay strong and keep the boundaries set in your home. Let your “no” be “no” and your “yes” be “yes”. The more consistent you are, the more your kids will realize that they cannot move the boundaries no matter how much they try.

Therefore, when you are feeling defeated and/or asking yourself “why is it just with me”, realize it is not you. You are not defeated. You are not failing as a mom. You just happen to be the person that your child feels safest with and is usually with the most. Despite how hard the day may be, try to realize this. In the next crazy moment as your kids are pushing the boundaries and/or letting their emotions free, remind yourself that you are their safe place. Remember every day you have the opportunity to keep the boundaries in place. Take being the safe place as a gift. Take every day to stay strong and keep the boundaries set. And most importantly, take every day to love them through and through. This doesn’t fix the chaos, but I pray and hope it may encourage you to see things differently in the midst of it all.


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Role Play

Role Playing is to assume the role of another character…to pretend to be someone for a moment. It is something all kids find themselves doing, whether they are superheroes flying through the backyard or teachers who have all their stuff animals as students in the classroom. My boys role play as lions and dinosaurs on a daily basis, which means my background noise is literally a constant roar. I know that most of the role play is pretend and birthed from their imaginations, which I absolutely love watching, but what if we took the role play to real life. For instance, what if you role played behaviors, communication techniques, and so forth. And what if role playing became a reality. Well, since our soon-to-be two year old is starting to communicate so well, we have been performing real life role play. (Seems like an oxymoron I know, but work with me.) One example is to role play sharing. We literally have a toy and pretend the other wants it. Then use words, not hitting or yanking the toy from the other person, but asking for the toy with manners. After practicing some we move on to the next thing. But what is absolutely amazing is when the real life scenario comes and the younger brother discovers the older brother’s favorite t-rex. In this moment, I bring the role play to reality. As the older brother is running to tackle the younger brother for his toy, I say or shout (lol), “Just ask him for it…simply try asking him for it like we have practiced.” The older brother takes a step back and says, “Can I please have my toy?” and the younger brother gives it to him. It is a wow, OMG moment not just for me, but for them as they realize that what we have been preforming actually works in real life. We role play other things like asking for food, giving each other space, how to act in a store, what to do when adults are talking, etc. Now the truth is that there will be moments when little brother gets tackled down to the ground, but that does not take the wow from the moments when he doesn’t. I do my best to celebrate the moments when what we have practiced in role play comes to fruition. A simple pat on the back, hug and “you did so great” goes a long way. Our kids love affirmation. Here is what I do know…kids love to play and pretend, so why not play and practice real life. Give it a try. Play with them too. Who knows you might get the role of that famous cook or CEO!

Is there something your kids need to practice or role play? Do you have any role play suggestions? 😉


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Survive the Summer with Kids by Guest Blogger Kari Leblanc

I am thrilled today to have Kari Leblanc as my first guest blogger. She is a woman I admire in so many ways. She is an amazing wife, mom to five children, cook, friend, blogger and most importantly loves Jesus with all her heart. Today she is providing us with some great tips for how to make it during the summer with the kids at home. If anyone knows her, they can vouch that Kari is a mom who is “on top of her game” to say the least! I hope her tips help you this summer. You can glean more of her wisdom for her blog Convos with Kari.

SURVIVE THE SUMMER WITH KIDS

Thanks so much to my sweet friend Jen who asked me to write a blog post on how to survive and thrive in the summer with littles 🙂 I’m honored! I’ve been working on our summer schedule for the last couple weeks. Summer is a fun season, but it can easily be purposeless since everyone is usually ready for the break from the normal routine.

My most important tips for summer are to PLAN & BE FLEXIBLE. I need a plan so days don’t fly by in a blur of video games and t.v. and I need to be flexible for the days that something comes up. This is my plan for our summer. I hope it helps you!

7:30 – 8:00 am Breakfast
(My kids don’t sleep very late…) Everyone usually wanders into the living room for their daily devos once they’re up. I put my oldest son in charge of breakfast for the summer. He’ll get some simple cooking practice and he’s usually the first one up 🙂 We made a list of easy breakfast options that he can handle and that everyone likes (some days it’s just “take the cereal boxes out of the pantry”). While he’s doing that, I can get my head wrapped around the day. 🙂

9:30 – 11:30 am
Time for our daily-themed activity! *See below

11:30 am – 12:00 pm Lunch
Back home for lunches or Chick-Fil-A with friends 🙂 My oldest is in charge of lunches this summer. She will also get some simple cooking practice (and responsibility practice. 😉

12:30 – 3:00 pm
This is the hottest and laziest part of our day. We usually need a break from whatever we did that morning and we all have a full belly. 🙂 During this time, the littles may take a nap or have a rest time, everyone reads for 30 minutes to 1 hour (based on their age) or they may all lay in the living room and watch a movie. This is also when I prep dinner.

3:00 pm Snack
We have a small snack to signal the official end of rest time and get ready for the rest of our day.

3:00 – 6:00 pm
I think of this part of the day as Free Play. My kids love to play hide & seek, ride bikes, draw with sidewalk chalk, etc…

6:30 pm Dinner 
After dinner is unofficial family time since Dad is done with work (typically). We have family devotions once a week, we may rent a movie or visit friends.

I found this idea for daily themes on Pinterest which gave me some general direction for planning. I love it! This is what we’ll be doing every weekday morning:
M – Make Something Monday – Look through Pinterest to find lots of easy crafts and keep simple art supplies on hand.

T – Take a Trip Tuesday – On these days, we visit cool, free places around our city. Google family activities or sights in your city and keep the list handy. Nothing fancy, just  something to explore.

W – Wet & Wild Wednesday – Make a weekly visit to the splash park, pool or pull out the slip-n-slide & sprinkler.

Th – Thinking Thursday – I keep a list of simple science experiments for my older kids and fun worksheets for the younger ones.

F – Fresh & Fun Friday – This day is reserved for whatever I can come up with… Maybe we bake something together, have a Just Dance contest on the Wii, a scavenger hunt around the neighborhood… Just be creative!

Besides this, we’ve got guitar lessons, football camp and swimming lessons that we’ll also fit in.

Have a plan, be flexible and anticipate a great summer with your kids!!

 


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Couch vs. Floor – Tip Tuesday

Couch versus floor…what on earth am I writing about. What is most comfortable? Preference of sitting? Well actually neither of those questions. As a stay-at-home mom of two young boys, I have noticed the difference of the couch versus the floor from the perspective of parenting. I have always been one to sit on the floor or lie in the grass as some like my husband might say I have some hippie tendencies. Hahaha. As a parent this “hippie” characteristic has been beneficial as I have watched the difference I have interacting with the kids from the couch versus from the floor. On the couch I am met with distractions and limits such as the nearness of my phone, the t.v. remote and the ability for my kids and I to really have room to play. On the floor playtime has endless possibilities. We can toss the ball, build legos, pretend play with dinosaurs, and, of course, tackle as I believe this is an innate feature of all boys. I am not saying that if you are sitting on the couch or your recliner you are disconnected from your kids. I am saying that for me the decision to move from the couch to the floor creates undistracted face-to-face playtime. As soon as I plant myself on the floor, the boys are immediately jumping on top of me. It is as if their eyes discover my placement, there bodies say, “Let’s jump on Mom!” I step into their world when I am on the floor. If you have young ones, I would like to suggest to you to take time to move from the couch to the floor and see what you discover as your kids come rushing towards you. It is a beautiful moment when you step out of your world and into theirs. But remember, sit on the floor with caution as they could come rushing in to tackle you!


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Toys, toys and more toys….

Toys, toys, and more toys…this is how I felt when we moved from our house to our apartment. In the house the toys were not so obvious, not because they didn’t exist, but because there was more space, rooms, and corners to sneak them into. When we moved into the apartment, it was as if a toy tornado had come through our home on a daily basis. We would pick up and pick up until we could pick up no more. I had to come up with a solution to this problem.

The problem I realized was that most toys were in the kid’s reach. Therefore, the solution needed to require all toys in the sky. Okay, maybe not in the sky, but high enough where they had to ask to get them down. So one day we went and bought these inexpensive containers from Ikea and began separating toys…cars and trucks, superheroes, animals, trains, dinosaurs, etc. (Yes, dinosaurs are an animal, but in our home they are definitely something separate as our four year old is slightly obsessed with them.) Each “type” of toy had it’s own container and then they were placed at the top of the closet. Viola!

Now this has not completely kept toys from being found on the floor and some of our two year olds toys are within his reach, but for the most part, these containers have done wonders. When the boys want to play, with animals, they ask. When they are done and want something new, we pick up the animals before getting another container down.

If you feel like you live in a toy tornado, this storage solution maybe something to try out.

What are some of your toy solutions?

P.S. – This solution has only been tested on toddlers. LOL. However, feel free to test it out on your teenagers.