How to Personalize Notebooks for the Year

My kids are getting older and developing their own interests and opinions. I am so much in love with the people they are becoming but also in all the little things they are discovering.

I wanted a way to capture them at this stage. Their abilities, what they love and be able to watch them progress over time. I have seen so many amazing nature journals, regular journals and lap books but none of them were exactly what I was hoping for. Maybe I just didn’t want 10 books to keep track of and that’s a good enough reason for me.

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Moving at Christmas!

December is generally a crazy time of year for people around the world. In our house we decided to make this year a little extra crazy. You know, for fun!

We moved!

That’s right. During our holidays we are packing up, moving, unpacking, celebrating Christmas and finishing renovations at our current place to get it ready for new renters. To say we are a bit crazy is an understatement.

new-home

In the end I am sure everything will turn out just fabulously. That is if I have any hair left!

Have you moved with little’s in tow? What were your secrets for success? You must have secrets.

Below are my top moving tips. I saved them just for you!

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STEM Learning, How About STEAM Instead?

Have you ever sat back and watched a child play? What did you see? How did they process the information that they were absorbing? Did they try something then try again?

If you haven’t taken the time I highly suggest you do. Kids are amazing! I am always impressed with how many complex concepts that they manage to teach themselves. Kids have a determination that I wish I possessed. More often than not they will try and try again until they master something. Once mastered they often come up with a different way to do something and occasionally end up creating an alternate result.

Now let’s talk about what kids learn. Specifically subjects that our society places a higher value on.

STEM, is the study of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. This philosophy has been growing for years. These four subjects are vital to our current world however they were missing an important piece of the puzzle.

Art.

Have you ever purchased an app that was not visually appealing? Did you keep it or was it hard for you to utilize? Personally, if I don’t like the look of it I won’t waste my time using it. Completely unconsciously too, it just happens. Have you ever walked into a house where the layout wasn’t right? All the correct things were present but the flow was stifled.

Both of those situations are because the Art aspect was either forgotten or not prioritized.

It has been said that “Occupations in STEM-related careers are some of the fastest growing and best paid of the 21st century, and they often have the greatest potential for job growth.”1

How amazing is that?!?

As a mom of little’s I want to prepare my kids the best I can for the world that they will grow up in and potentially the world where they become leaders. I firmly believe that by moving from STEM to STEAM they will be better equipped for their lives. They will know how to think outside of the box while accomplishing a plethora of tasks. I want my kids to know how to think creatively, critically and how to be inventive. While also understanding the value that those skills bring to a variety of situations.

Do you have similar goals to me? Do you want your kids to stand out from the crowd?

Let me introduce you to one of my new favorite resources. This post contains affiliate links.

Steam Kids 50+ STEAM Activities

Steam Kids is a book that will inspire children to:

question like a scientist

design like a technologist

build like an engineer

create like an artist

deduce like a mathematician

and, most importantly

play like a kid.”

What does this all actually look like? Check out this fun video.

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2016 – 2017 Preschool Weekly Themes

I am so excited to start our first year of home school! I almost cant believe that we are already at this stage of life.

I am excited but still nervous. To combat my nerves I have come up with a plan. I am a planner girl and I need a plan to thrive. It’s what works for me. I have gathered some excellent themes for us to study and can’t wait to dive in!

Preschool Themes 2016 - 2017

Below I have written down our weekly themes. Beside each theme you will find a link to my Pinterest board that I used to brainstorm ideas, Our Plans, Workboxes, and a Book List followed with a review post. Once a month I have left a week theme-less… is that even a word. I left one for us to be able to follow our interests or address topics that need attention. I’m not sure what this year has in store but I definitely want to follow my kids interests.

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Workbox Revival

A couple months ago I found myself in a Tot School rut. I needed to find a way to keep myself motivated to change the bins but also a way to provide me a direction to accomplish our education goals.

 

I am a stationary nerd and for some reason fresh labels completely revitalized our workboxes. It was the change I needed. Simple and easy but it works for me!

 

I discovered that I had stuck us in a corner by designating one activity for a particular day. I was fighting with myself on what bin we were going to do. For example if we had a physical activity planned for Tuesday then that’s what my brain said we needed to do. If the kids were already being rowdy or I wasn’t feeling great than we just skipped the activity all together. If the kids saw our planned craft and wanted to do it before the day I picked I was bothered and made up a reason we couldn’t do it that day. To say this wasn’t working for us was an understatement.

 

I changed our categories from days to “subjects.” We could do any bin we wanted or even multiple bins a day without my eye starting to twitch. It was such a relief! We now often repeat bins throughout the week. The best part about that is after I teach them what is expected they can play more independently and with confidence. They know what to do and what is expected. I have moments of freedom throughout the day, no longer feeling pressured to entertain the kids or constantly be by their side.

 

I spent a lot of time reading about different “subjects/topics” and why they are taught and at what stages or ages. I wanted to keep things simple with the 3 R’s but that sounded too basic and boring to me. Reading, “riting” and “rithmetic” are definitely the foundations of a solid education but where is the fun. The exploring. I needed the variety.

 

Workbox Wednesday

Our categories ended up being:

Creative Arts

Math

Language

Science

Our World

Foundations

Some of these are self explanatory but I have adapted them to suit our needs.

Creative Arts can be used for anything that helps the kids think outside of the box or develops skills. Often this includes a craft but not always. Some alternative examples to crafts are instruments, music for dancing, puppets for story telling, imagination play or simply a game. The sky is the limit.

 

Math. I was never a math person in school but I love numbers because of this I want math to be enjoyable for my kids. I also want them to see and understand how math fits with many aspects of daily life. Since my kid are still toddlers we mostly focus on counting and number recognition. In order to mix things up and stay out of workbooks we use lots of manipulatives, fun pictures, patterns, games and some writing. I am not anti-workbooks, I think that there is a time and place for them but we are not there quite yet.

 

Language gets a little tricky to label because there are many skills that are involved. Speech, letter recognition, pre-writing, reading, writing, spelling, etc. I very easily could have split this bin into two but I thought it would be better to provide a few more activities for the kids to choose from. I may split this into more bins later on, when we are doing more grammar, reading and writing in our studies. Only time will tell.

 

Science so far has been about exploring and introducing new concepts. We have been using this bin to explore with our five senses. Often in the form of a sensory bin. As my kids grow we will eventually follow a curriculum and participate in more and more experiments. We are going to have so much fun!

 

Our World. There are many curriculum’s that teach history and geography. With my kids being so young I wanted a category that combined those two but also provided us the freedom to specifically learn about things found in our world. An area to focus on what catches my babes interests and passions. I chose a lot of our topics currently but I try and listen to what my kids are enjoying. It’s tricky but we always find something to learn about. Our world is also the perfect category for studying holidays and special occasions.

 

Foundations is intended to begin our learning on a daily basis. The things that we have deemed most important and what we would like the kids to use regularly. The majority of the time this bin doesn’t change a lot. I have included our religious study material, early readers, flashcards, journal, nursery rhymes, a read-a-loud book and coloring books. I placed this bin as the last bin because I wanted the babes to be able to utilize everything inside whenever they want. Easy access for little arms.

 

We are loving this small but significant change. It has taken so much pressure and stress off of me. I am much more confident in my ability to provide my babes with a well rounded education. I don’t feel like I am always forgetting something. We can and we will learn what we need to while at the same time enjoying the journey.

We’re Back!

Organization proceeds follow though. At least that’s how it works for me.Weekly Workbox Labelled

The last few months we have been on a hiatus of sorts. We have been doing activities and having fun but there has not been any schedule or plans. It worked. Sort of. Most days it was easier to just play with my beautiful babes. Good but definitely not best. I have wanted to get back to a schedule but my planner instincts have gotten in my way. I can plan all day without actually accomplishing anything. It’s a problem. Please say I’m not the only one.

We have pressed on!

In the past I have read about work boxes. I love the idea. It makes sense to have a spot for each subject. For us, tot school, we don’t need that many options nor do we need to fill a set amount of time. I needed a system to help me stay on top of planning and organizing activities.

We went on a shopping spree and purchased some gorgeous white Trofast shelves with matching white bins. I slapped on some labels and wallah an instant area to plan my week.

School is in tomorrow. Not bright and not early but it is in!
Wish us luck!