Mobirise

    



Hi! My name is May. I've been blogging since 2009.

1950s housewife to the bone.

I'm a lifelong foodie, raised in restaurant kitchens and with Sunday dinners at my grandmother's.

I homeschool my three children in Los Angeles with my husband of 17 years.

I drink tea when I knit and coffee when I do everything else.







Periodic Table Battleship

Homeschooling

What a neat idea this is! I believe original credit for this game should go to Karyn over at Teach Beside Me. There are a lot of cute and fun educational ideas in the subscriber section of her blog, totally worth a look!

When I first came across this idea, it was just a photo someone had shared on my Facebook with no instructions. So when we tried it out, I used my favorite printable of the periodic table we have been using. It involved coloring in every square and I think that’s great practice for the kids (& me too) so that’s what we did.

Essentially, all you need are four laminated copies of the periodic table, 2 file folders, a paper clip and dry erase markers. Just attach the two file folders together at the top with the paperclip, and secure two of the periodic tables there as well. The other two periodic tables just sit on the open part of the file folder.

There are official rules to this game, you know, like in regular Battleship. When playing with younger children, you can be a little looser with the rules. I just let the kids circle an equal number of ‘battleships’ of equal sizes. So to start, they each went with three battleships, one was 2 x 1, one was 2 x 3 and one was 2 x 2. If you’ve never played before, you mark where your own battleships are on the periodic table that’s laying on the open part of the file folder. Then you guess where the other person’s battleships are by calling out elements. Each time your guess ‘hits’ or ‘misses’ the other person’s battleships, you mark it on the other table on your side. Whoever locates and ‘sinks’ all the other people’s battleships, wins!

The periodic table is something that is usually introduced when kids are in 3rd grade or older. You can introduce it sooner with games like this! You can play the game the way it was intended, or have younger kids just pick a few elements and guess! There are lots of other fun games to play to engage younger kids in learning the periodic table, you just have to get creative – and have a look around!

Here’s a picture of the version we made!

Karyn’s original version is great! The printables are on her subscriber page and there are some details on her blog over here – http://teachbesideme.com/periodic-table-battleship/

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Managing Your Children’s Activities – Part 2 (homeschooling)

Homeschooling

This is the second (and a half) post in my 10 post series, 10 Areas to Master For Managing a Household. Join me every Thursday for a new installment! This post focuses on homeschool activities and working on a homeschool schedule, see last week for after school activities for kids in school.

I wouldn’t dare write a post telling any homeschool mom how to make a schedule because I know that not only is it a very personal thing, it can be such an intense hot button issue. Anyone reading this right now that does not homeschool will likely not get why it’s such a big deal. It’s a big deal because taking on the sole responsibility to educate our children can be stressful and scary at times. Being told we are doing it wrong through a lack of planning can make perfectly capable homeschool moms second guess themselves. That is not what this post is for at all. My intention in writing this is to share some ideas and maybe a few warnings on ways to schedule, not what to teach or when.

Much like over scheduling after school activities for kids in school, homeschooled kids are even more likely to be over scheduled with enrichment activities and homeschool classes outside of the home for two main reasons. First because we want them to have as many enrichment opportunities as possible and also because of the dreaded S-word of homeschooling – socialization. I find that my kids have more interaction with both kids their own ages and kids of other ages and adults now than when the two older kids attended school, but the stigma is still there of course. So, the urge to put homeschool kids in tons of activities, enrichment classes or not, is strong to ensure they make friends, spend time with their peers, etc.

The issue with over scheduling homeschooled kids spills into two other areas. One being there are only so many hours in the day to work through all the curriculum that needs to be worked through, and being in classes all day instead of at home actually doing your main school work stops you from being productive in that way. The second being that even though one of your many daytime jobs is educating your children, it is one of many daytime jobs! Laundry needs to be done, sinks, bathtubs and floors need to be cleaned, pets need to be cared for, and on and on and on. These tasks are generally done during the day, either while the kids are breaking between subjects or for lunch, or while they are working independently. Either way, those tasks are not getting done when you’re not home.

First, you have to look at your tasks for the day, both your chore lists that you’ve made up for each area of your home, and your task list for school. Again, I’m not going to tell you how to plan your school day, your courses are your choice, but I will say you need to take all those courses and plug them into a schedule of some kind. If you are a very laid back homeschooler, that’s fine, but bear in mind that if you want to meet a specific benchmark or goal, you will need to set aside time to do the work.

The most common way is to look at how the materials break down into lessons. For example, maybe your math textbook has 100 lessons. Most school years go for 180 school days, so when you plug math into your schedule you’d know you wouldn’t have to do math every day, but you would have to plan out when you’d do it, so you wouldn’t fall behind. Or you could choose to schedule math every day, and give yourself 80 review days.

There are some electives that you don’t really need to finish. If you’ve chosen to teach piano or classical art for example, you can look at the number of lessons the book you’re using the same as you’d do for math, or you can just decide that after everything else that has to be done in a week, you only have room to do music or art every other day. This would apply to things like photography or digital art, or even an additional foreign language. For example, we do French through our charter, but we do Latin as well because we choose to. So when I plan out French I make sure we finish on time, but when I plan out Latin it’s ok if we don’t finish by the end of the school year.

Once you have laid out your core classes and your at home electives, you can add in enrichment classes and social activities. Generally two classes a week, especially if they do not require homework, is a safe number that should fit within the rest of your schedule and still leave time for a social day and downtime. Unlike after school activities, enrichment classes that happen during the day for homeschoolers are often family oriented, so they may have multiple classes going on at once where all your children can participate. If not, you can always bring your most portable subjects with you to do with the other kids while they are waiting, I tend to bring language arts with us when we are in situations like these. If they are distracted or don’t feel like working in a different environment, we can at least read.

When it comes to social activities for homeschoolers, I have found that these park days are very popular because they are simple and the kids and all just ‘go play’, but they are often chaotic and kids don’t really get a chance to connect in any meaningful way. So I like to host social activities for our homeschool friends. If we do not know them well, I tend to choose an indoor playspace or similar environment. Sometimes, I have suggested a new friend try out a class one of my children is taking. Most places have a ‘bring a friend’ option where your friend can attend a class for free to see if they like it. Once we know them though, I like to host an ongoing weekly event. It can be hard to get others to commit to a weekly date. You will come across moms that love having a standing weekly date and you’ll never have to make plans with them again. I have a few friends at both extremes and several who just cannot commit to once a week. I tend to see these friends more like once a month or so. For my own sanity, I have a day set aside specifically for rotating friend dates. Occasionally, no one can get together that day and it ends up being a relaxed day at home, not exactly a bad thing!

The most important thing to remember when it comes to planning out kid’s activities when you’re homeschooling is to make sure you have scheduled (or at least set aside time) to complete all your core courses. Then really think about how much time you want to devote to classes, park days, the library and social activities before you map out what your week looks like. I try to keep some spontaneity in mind, (I know, I know, I’m lame for planning to be spontaneous). I just want to leave room for it. If my weekend is jam packed and my daughters friends are over on a Friday night and ask if they can sleepover, I want to be able to say yes without worrying about moving everything else around. Many of our friends do not homeschool, so we try to be as flexible on the weekends as we can so we can spend time with them, too!

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February Homeschool Giveaway The Story of the World

Homeschooling

We were out in California for three weeks, the plan was two weeks but that turned into three weeks and as fun as extended vacations are, and as much as I love and miss living in California, I am happy to be back home and back to routine. I’m also really excited to announce my giveaway for this month!

This month I am giving away a set of homeschooling books that my kids love and I think yours will too! They are from a popular series, The Story of the World and I’m giving away volumes 1 & 2! Volume 1 is Ancient Times and Volume 2 is The Middle Ages. I will post more about these workbooks and textbooks, but first here are the details for entering the giveaway.

Entering is easy! Just follow, like, share or comment on any of my social media posts (every action counts as an entry) and tag a friend to join as well. This giveaway is open until the end of the month, Tuesday Feb 28!

Find me on social media here:



Good luck! Here are some more images from the Story of the World books. I really love them because you can casually read the textbooks as bedtime stories and go over the workbooks during morning basket time or usual history time. This books are the history curriculum suggested in the classical education guide, The Well Trained Mind. Even if you are not using the classical education approach to your homeschooling, it is a wonderful curriculum.

 
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2016 Advent Day 6

Domestic, Holiday, Home, Homeschooling, Kids, Utah

Today was one of those perfectly perfect days that was so full of Christmas cheer we could have been a Hallmark movie. Cheesy and sweet! We kicked off our day with a trip to The Capitol Theatre to see The Nutcracker! We listened to Tchaikovsky while we got dressed up and ready to go, Daphne was dancing around the kitchen to make her dress twirl and it was just the sweetest thing. Our elves greeted us first thing in the morning in the kid’s bathroom on one of their cabinets in there. It was a busy morning with a lot primping going on, so they chose a good spot to see all the morning action!

This was our first time at the Capitol Theatre, and it was decorated for not just Christmas, but for The Nutcracker. What a perfect time to go! We went to one of the few daytime showings courtesy of our homeschooling charter. We didn’t really go ‘with’ a class, but we were technically part of the school board’s group. That afforded us access to amazing seats we may otherwise not have been able to get, and it allowed us to go in the middle of the day when the kids are at their best and not later at night when they would rather be at home in their PJs. What a great opportunity!

 
 

When the ballet was over, the girls picked a ballerina ornament from the Ballet West gift shop as a souvenir and hung it on the tree in their room. So cute!

Instead of heading straight home, we stopped at a cute French bakery a quick walk from the theatre called Eva’s Bakery. The girls got ham and butter sandwiches on crusty bread and chocolate chip cookies with hot chocolate. I chose a turkey panini with marmalade and it was perfection. We ordered some festive macaroons to go (eggnog and candy cane) and headed back home.

 
 

I hid (& the kids searched for their) advent gifts of the day when we got home. I was a little laid back about it today since we had been out all morning and everyone was curious to know what they got. Richard got 3 more copic markers, Helena got a hilarious and very silly book about zombie guinea pigs from a book series called Undead Pets, and Daphne got a tiny Daisy and a mini Belle. Helena finished her book in just a couple of hours before she passed it along to Daphne, who also got a kick out of it.

Our advent cookies were super fun today! The kids got into it and made most of them themselves. Today we made Candy Cane Cookies, and judging from the comments and messages we got about these when I posted them, it seems these cookies are an annual tradition for many families!

 

Our advent activity for today was a Christmas movie marathon and that was an easily accomplished mission! We watched Mickey’s Magical Christmas, Barbie Christmas Carol (this one is my fave), The Polar Express AND Alpha and Omega’s Howladay (which really isn’t very Christmasy at all, but Daphne insisted and it did have ‘howladay’ in the title).

We are managing the balance of festivities and school fairly well, I think. The rest of this week we have normal schoolwork and my husband’s company’s Christmas party is this weekend. Then next week we have three fun field trips planned, and one more week of regular schoolwork before Christmas break officially begins!

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Homeschool Clips – March 2016

Homeschooling, Kids

We have been making little videos for a while now for fun, and to share with friends and family. Recently, we have discovered that some of our videos have been helping other families to find their own homeschooling groove. We would love to encourage others who are trying to navigate homeschooling themselves too!

This video was from one week last month, it was our first pieced together video. People have since asked us about making a video about our version of the ‘morning basket’, we are working on that this week.

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Positive Discipline Lesson Four, Part Two

Homeschooling, Kids

Can we just gloss over my recent absence and jump right to to part two? Thaaaanks. Part two of this lesson is routine charts! I made a detailed (and sort of complicated) Velcro schedule last year when we were in a million different places at once. It made it easy for any of us to see at a glance what was going on with everyone, and since it was Velcro, it was really simple to change plans, and see if you even had room to move something to later in the week. This kind of routine covers other things like field trips, doctor appointments and things like that. You could absolutely use something like this as a family thing, but for the purposes of positive discipline, we also need some very straightforward wake up and bedtime routines.

It is stressed that you make these charts with your children because including your children as part of this process will not only increase their sense of belonging, but they take ownership of the routine and it becomes a list of reminders for themselves, not a list of things you’ve told them to do. Brainstorm with them first and ask them what they need to do at bedtime to get ready. Jot down their ideas without correcting or thinking about sequence. When they’re done, if there is anything you feel they have left out (and if it’s one of the big ones like brushing teeth), ask if you can offer a suggestion. There may be something unusual on this list, like my youngest randomly suggested a pre-bedtime puppet show, when we have never done a puppet show before bed. It was her list though, and a pre-bedtime puppet show made the cut.

Once you have all their ideas down, talk about how long each task will take, this is when they may reconsider whatever their version of a puppet show is (or not). This is one of those areas of positive discipline where you really have to follow the ‘no rewards’ rule. This routine chart is a reminder of tasks that have to be completed just because they have to be done. It is not a reward chart. We did a lot of sticker charts prior to positive discipline and my kids really wanted to be able to put stickers on them. So they are given stickers arbitrarily, and can stick them on whenever they want, but not as a reward.

The example given in the book is bath, brush teeth, snack, books, hugs. I feel that it’s a counter productive order to list brushing teeth before having a snack, but maybe that’s just me? Haha, your children’s lists will look different, based on what works for your family. I had to resist the urge to open Photoshop and make them all cute and cartoony. I made myself a cute and cartoony one when I made my Velcro schedule. ;) If your kids are very small, you can make something like this and have them color it in.

There are so many fun ideas of how to make these and of course a lot depends on the age of your children. Some people have taken pictures of their kids doing each task on their list, and strung them together as a photo to do list. Some have cut pictures that match with tasks from magazines and made a collage to do. I gave mine a large piece of paper and they opted to stick it on the wall in the hallway by their daily date and weather board.

It is really sweet to see kids creating these routine charts. While we were making these I couldn’t help but draw a comparison between these charts and the ones I have made for myself with the Flylady system for running my home. I also need morning and bedtime routine charts, but mine look very different. It all comes down to the same reason though, right? We are teaching our children to make healthy choices and get done what needs to be done in a day.

This is my favorite drawing from their charts. This was drawn by my 7 year old for ‘hugs’.

I think I will include a part three with this as well because this chapter also includes family meetings and we love our family meetings, they deserve their own post!

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Velcro Schedule with free printables

Homeschooling, Kids

Sometimes when I give into the crazy desire for order that mild OCD and a seriously type-A personality often produce I wonder if I’ve gone off the deep end. I think the creation of this velcro schedule comes pretty close, but it’s so cute and useful!!

                    

I learned fairly early on that the only way (for us) to really homeschool with any sense of order was to follow a schedule and get some routines in place. Posting a schedule makes it easy for the kids to see what’s going on and when, I know all children are different but mine really benefit from being able to see at a glance what our week looks like. I’ve posted schedules in the past, just printed out the basic order of school and downtime and taped it to the wall in the kitchen and it served it’s purpose. I wanted something cuter and more customizable, so I made one myself and I’m sharing it with you!

All of these sheets are so fun, you can just print them out and fill in the blanks. Or you can print them out, laminate them and fill them in with a dry erase marker. Oooooor, you can pull a crazy lady like me and print them out, as well as all the activities / meals / tasks and attach it all together with velcro dots! Worth doing!

 

I printed and laminated 7 ‘today’ pages and put a sticky velcro dot at each hour. Then I printed out, cut, laminated and cut again, all the details. Each little rectangle got a velcro sticky dot too and I just mapped out our week. If something comes up, I can move things around. I feel that having these little guys will help me remember that when I have to move a history lesson because of a doctor’s appointment, I will physically put it somewhere else and it will not be forgotten! I’m also going to use bright Post Its on days when there is something really special happening.

I am including the ‘today’ page and two pages of activities, with some blanks. :)

I used the font ‘A Gentle Touch’, if you want to type up some specific to your situation.

Today

Activities Page 1

Activities Page 2

Peek at the Week

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My Nature Trackers (and sun prints)

California, Homeschooling, Kids

Between Wild Kratts and Dinosaur Train, I’m sure there are millions of kids out there calling themselves nature trackers and I love it so much. My girls have really gotten into it with bugs and gardening and sea life at the aquariums and the beaches and lately, anywhere they can. It’s a great supplement to homeschooling as well, because they are learning so much about the world around them while having fun with each other and their friends!

They are both into watching You Tube videos made by kids their ages and they really wanted to make some of their own. My bestie was inspired by their nature tracker flag on their playhouse and suggested they start a channel about that and off they ran with that idea.

 
 

Last week, we went to Wilderness Park where we did a scavenger hunt and made prints with UV reactive paper. First you lay the paper down and quickly place your objects on top of it. If they are flat, you lay a sheet on plastic on top, and wait a few minutes. The paper is originally a dark blue and after just a few minutes the paper is a very light blue. You remove the objects and wet the paper to stop the reaction and then let it dry. Once it’s dry, it returns to it’s original color. So fun! We saw some plants and flowers we had never see before, a turtle we had never seen before either and the most pine cones I have seen since we left Canada. So so neat!

We are aiming for weekly installments of these videos and their second one is already underway.

The girls would love to share their adventures with you, and while my oldest is often absent from the videos he is usually behind the camera and he’s the one editing the videos!

Nature Trackers on You Tube

Nature Trackers on Instagram

Here are some of my favorite pictures from Wilderness Park.





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Condensed Milk Painting

Crafty, Homeschooling, Kids

Painting with condensed milk is a fun and weird way to mix up kid’s art afternoons. The kids think it’s either really neat or really gross and honestly, either reaction is great. Something a little different than standard tempra, watercolor or acrylic paints.

We used a whole can of sweetened condensed milk and food coloring to make the colors. My girls couldn’t get over it being edible, every few minutes they’d ask ‘so I can just eat this?!’, and I’d reply, ‘yes, but don’t!’, since they were mixed in an old egg carton with brushes we use for painting all the time! The purple and red were not bright enough according to my littles, so I added a little dab of tempra paint to brighten them up. Defo not edible now!

The paint is a little goopey, and when it hits the paper it feels weird to make the brush stokes because it is thicker than paint. This is a fun experience for the kids (I thought it was really cool too) and the resulting art is different than it would be if it had the same consistency as paint. They got really into it as a sensory exercise too, and then got down to painting.

The neatest thing about painting with condensed milk is once it’s dry (this large masterpiece took two days to dry completely), it is so beautifully shiny! Shiny as if you’ve coated it in Mod Podge or sprayed it with a clear coat. It hangs in our hallway and is the shiniest piece there!

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Homeschool Meal Planning

Domestic, Homeschooling, Kids

With all the lesson planning and grading and keeping the house straight while homeschooling (plus, you know, actually teaching), sometimes menu planning gets pushed aside during the school year. Honestly though, when menu planning slips, mealtimes can become a source of stress. We are about to start our 3rd year and whether it’s getting breakfast on the table to start the day, taking a lunch break or finishing up for the day and starting on dinner (or fielding 10,000 snack requests throughout the day), knowing what you’re going to serve before it even comes up can really make your day a whole lot smoother.

For breakfasts, I like getting up before the kids do (mainly to help my husband get out the door early) and then I can make fairly simple hot breakfasts while I’m waking the kids up. They have said that waking up to the smell of breakfast cooking gets them pumped for the day more than a bowl of cereal could! Also, I try to save cereal for when I’m sick and exhausted. ;)

This is my basic menu plan for an average week. Monday breakfast is usually a big deal in an effort to make Monday less awful haha.

Breakfasts

Monday – Bacon, eggs any way they want and toast
Tuesday – Pancakes
Wednesday – French Toast
Thursday – Popovers These also make a great lunch snack
Friday – Brown Sugar Muffins

            
Bento Box Ideas

*Basically, ‘bento box lunches’ are just visually appealing finger foods in a box. My kids love, love, love the happy rice triangles, so I make them all the time.
If it’s a picnic lunch at home or a field trip lunch at the Science Center, it’s easier when it is already put together.
Monday – happy rice triangle, sliced banana, baby carrots, pinwheel ham sandwiches and mini cereal square
Tuesday – happy rice triangle, apple rings, celery sticks, homemade chicken pieces, mini cupcake
Wednesday – happy rice triangle, berries with yogurt, corn, teeny tiny cheese sandwiches, brownie shapes
Thursday – happy rice triangle, orange slices, nuts, mini hot dog octopuses, mini cookie
Friday – spaghetti nest w/ mozzarella ball birds, sliced peaches, pretzels, cute cutout face sandwich, lollipop

Make Ahead Snacks

I usually make these on the weekend and put them on out the ‘lazy Susan’ for the kids to snack on.
Homemade Granola Bars (wrapped in parchment paper)
Chia Seed Peanut Butter Cookies (in zipbags)
Pretzel Bites (in zipbags)
Fruit Roll Ups (rolled in parchment paper)

            
Dinners

Most of these recipes are slow cooked on the stove all day, but you can just as easily make them in the slow cooker. Some are quick meals you can make even quicker with a little prep.
Monday – Chili and Cornbread
Tuesday – Chicken Alfredo (prep the chicken earlier in the day and either make your Alfredo sauce in advance)
Wednesday – Dr Pepper Shredded Pork
Thursday – Spaghetti
Friday – Pizza Night (combo game night, so no prep and no cleaning makes the night smoother and way more fun)

            

I have found it necessary to plan meals and snacks so I can just pull it together or offer it immediately without having to look through the cupboards to see what we have, plan what to make and get started. The time lost throughout the day really adds up, especially when you’re trying to teach two children and a teen and keep your home from falling to shambles!

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