"…And she smiles at the future." ~Proverbs 31:25

Archive for the ‘Homeschooling’ Category

Good, clean fun

Shhhhh…..Can you keep a secret?

The kiddos in one of our homeschool groups enjoyed a fun, end-of-the-school-year party last week. Since our family does school year round, I made sure to keep that “end-of-the-year” part quiet (and you will, too, right?!) but we were all about the party part! Here are the kids that were present that day, after they were all thoroughly slimed from the games we played:

We started the event by loading them up on pizza…

…followed by some red velvet cupcakes to celebrate our sweet friend’s birthday. (Happy birthday, Ellen!)

Then we headed outside for some silly games, beginning with the old standby—sack races.

We started with the littlest racers…

…who really had absolutely no idea what was going on…

…followed by the bigger kids…

…and then, even the teens got in on the action. Those teens can jump, too!

Actually, the adults got in on this activity, as well. I will not be posting pictures of our race. (Let’s just leave it at that.)

Next up were some funny relays.

Next it was time to pass out the eggs. Again, the little ones didn’t have a clue what was up, but they’re such good sports they just went along anyway!

And they are ready for the spoon relay!

Then it was time for the egg toss. Of all the games we played, I can’t say for sure which was the most fun for the kids…but this one definitely provided me with the most hilarious pictures. They started out close together…

…and gradually spread apart. Notice their funny faces as they try to catch their eggs!

Look at E’s face (and look at her hands to see why)!

After the egg toss, it was time to cool down with some snow cones before our next round of games.

This is where things started to get really messy. Thankfully, the moms who planned it had the foresight to bring old T-shirts for the kids to wear. We started with a couple of brave volunteers:

Then we added a very willing decorating committee…

Time for some new volunteers…

I knew it wouldn’t take much looking on my part to find someone who was eating the ammunition. Yep—that would be K.

So, what do you do with a face like this?

You trust your friends to lend a helping hand…

Finally, we broke out the Silly String. I should add that by this point the kids were soaked and slimed from the shaving cream and the water used attempting to wash it off, as well as some raw egg here and there…all of which made a nice, sticky canvas for the Silly String…

Apparently, a couple of the boys found the discarded shaving cream cans, too.

I loved watching siblings play together. I loved watching kids of such different ages enjoying each other, helping each other, and loving each other. I loved the big smiles on the faces of parents and children alike. I loved that it was all good, clean fun.

Here we all are…hot, sweaty, and exhausted. And happy. And very, very thankful.

Not because the school year is over…but because we were able to experience it. Together.

Thanks for stopping by!

Hey, moms–do less!

Most of us who are mothers struggle, for one reason or another, with “mommy guilt” from time to time. Often, we are made to feel like we should be doing more. Rarely are we told we should be doing less, but maybe it’s time to start thinking that way.

Julie B. Beck said it, and I agree:

“Mothers who know do less. They permit less of what will not bear good fruit eternally. They allow less media in their homes, less distraction, less activity that draws their children away from their home. Mothers who know are willing to live on less and consume less of the world’s goods in order to spend more time with their children—more time eating together, more time working together, more time reading together, more time talking, laughing, singing, and exemplifying. These mothers choose carefully and do not try to choose it all. Their goal is to prepare a rising generation of children who will take the gospel of Jesus Christ into the entire world.  That is influence; that is power.” 

Here they are, my very good reasons to start “doing less:”

Thank you, Ms. Beck, for the inspiration. I am taking your words to heart.

Thanks for stopping by!

Baseball, not blogging

Two years ago, I made my first foray into the world of blogging with the launch of Why Amy Smiles.

One year ago, I took my first break from blogging because I was all wrapped up in this:

And now, a year later, I’ve taken my second extended break, but for a different reason.

This spring has kept us hopping. The culprit? Baseball season!

Photo by Trey Granger

Photo by Trey Granger

I am proud of Chandler. When we told him we weren’t able to pay for the homeschool baseball league he wanted to join, he went out and got a job. Except for what he gave back to God on Sundays, he saved every penny and used it to pay for the fees, uniforms, and equipment he needed.

Photo by Trey Granger

Photo by Trey Granger

I am proud of Chandler because he knew that being the new guy on the team this year meant he might not get as much playing time as the more seasoned players would. But whether he was on the bench, at the plate, or in the field, his attitude blew me away. This young man loves baseball!

Photo by Trey Granger

Photo by Trey Granger

So forgive me for abandoning this blog for a time while we drove all over the world (or, so it seemed) to watch our firstborn enjoy his, and America’s, favorite pastime.  Thanks to all of you who prodded me to get going again, and to all who understand that, as long as I have kids at home, I am a mom first. 

And although I wasn’t sharing them with you here, there were plenty of things that made me smile while I was away. I am glad to be back, and look forward to catching up.

Thanks for stopping by!

Have you checked out Cheerful Learning?

It occurred to me recently that I never officially introduced my other blog on this site. Cheerful Learning is all about ways to teach and interact with your favorite preschooler, whether that’s your child, grandchild, niece/nephew, or friend. It’s also helpful for Bible class teachers, preschool teachers, and child care providers looking for fresh, new ideas.

For those who haven’t visited yet, here’s an introduction to what you’ll see if you stop by Cheerful Learning:

There are fun Storybook Activities (snacks, games, crafts, and more) from children’s books like Snowmen at Night

…and How the Grinch Stole Christmas

…and The Sesame Street 1,2,3 Storybook.

There are LOTS of activities to go along with Bible stories such as The Tower of Babel

…and Noah’s Ark

…and The Rainbow Promise.

I’m working on getting up pictures from all the fun activities we did to teach numbers and numeral formation. Zero and One are already up, and more are on the way soon!

I’ll also be posting the fun activities we did to learn the letters and their sounds, including games, crafts, snacks, and much more. There are holiday activities (Valentine’s Day coming soon!) and ideas for movement/PE, visual discrimination, and fine motor skills practice.

I hope that, if you haven’t yet, you’ll come on over to Cheerful Learning to see what all the fun is about! And when you do, be sure to first check out the pages About Us, Our Story, and About Our Curriculum ; they’ll fill you in on how we do things in our preschool program, and why.

Finally, if you are considering doing preschool activities with a child you love—either as their sole preschool experience or as a supplement to what they’re learning elsewhere—you may want to read through Should We “Do Preschool” at Home? and What Do I Need?, both under Getting Started.

I hope those of you who have preschoolers will enjoy Cheerful Learning and that the ideas I post there will help you make the most of your time with your child, by eliminating the hours of planning and preparation you’d spend coming up with your own curriculum.

Thanks for stopping by!

 

Recycled backyard fun

You know the phenomenon:

You spend time and money buying your one- or two-year-old child a special gift that YOU think is fantastic, and all the child is really interested in is the box it came in, or perhaps the wrapping paper itself. We’ve all been there, right?

After yesterday, I’m starting to think the same principle applies to those expensive backyard play sets. Who needs ’em, as long as your child has a healthy imagination?

Although it’s been several months since we moved, our trampoline never did get set up in our new backyard. At first there was no grass, and then when there was we had to let that grass get good and healthy, and by then it was too hot….You know how it goes.

It doesn’t seem to have been a problem for the kids, though; especially for Addy, who is pretty good at making her own fun.

Recently, she was helped along by the mysterious appearance of a construction spool in our backyard. (I guess it wasn’t TOO mysterious, considering that our whole neighborhood is still one big construction zone and that my husband loves checking the discard piles for little treasures…or in this case, big treasures!) I’m guessing the spool was to be used as a work table of some kind, but Addy had other plans.

Yesterday, she decided to use it as her own rolling balance beam.

Remi was interested but I wasn’t ready for her to get up there, so I laid a board down flat for a balance beam for her. Of course it was too easy, so we had to change her challenge to hopping down the beam.

Then Addy had the idea to combine both girls’ equipment to make a seesaw. It was hilarious to watch their faces! (Click the picture for a better view.)

I should probably mention a couple of things here:

One, I do realize it is January. But while much of the world is huddling inside to stay warm this time of year, we in South Texas are heading outdoors to finally enjoy some nice, cool weather.

Two, my youngest daughter is in that stage….you know, the one where it is important to dress as a princess at all times, even when playing on boards in the backyard. (Addy did put down a towel for her to sit on so she wouldn’t mess up her dress.)

Once Remi had had enough of their homemade seesaw, Addy used the board to make an incline for another type of balance beam.

Before I knew it, she had created an entire obstacle course for herself.

The towel (?) was the starting point, and from there she had to go up the plank

…and across the next board

…and then walk off onto the spool and roll as far as she could.

I should note here that all these ideas were Addy’s. Of course, once Remi saw how much fun Addison was having, she wanted to get in on that action, too, and Addy was so sweet to help her all along the way.

I love seeing siblings helping each other out and having fun together!

Next Addy made a slide, and taught Remi how to climb up the spool and cross the plank to get to it.

Now for the sliding fun…

Addy needed to take it a step further—of course—so she started going down backwards!

By this time the sun was starting to go down, but the girls weren’t ready to go inside just yet. So they added some more layers of clothes and brought out their blankets, then laid the porch swing down flat to make themselves a comfy little bed on the back patio.

As it got cooler, they decided to make the whole thing into a tent. Look closely…

Did you notice their custom “tie-downs?” Cutest weights ever, huh?

Addy added some more layers, both inside and outside the tent, to make it warmer, then proclaimed it ready to spend the night in. (I’ll just assume you know what my answer to that was.)

Again, if you looked very closely, you saw that she used Troy’s tools, and even my hair accessories, to hold the covers on. (Click on the picture below for a closer view.)

I love that about Addy—she is the queen of “use-what-ya-got!” She never asked for help; just figured out what would work and made it happen.

Remi, meanwhile, was rounding up the babies who would be “spending the night in the tent, too.”

So here’s my advice, friends:

Next time you’re tempted to go out and spend hundreds of dollars on some play equipment for your kiddos, I recommend taking a step back and letting them use their imaginations for a while, instead. It just might end up being even more fun!

Thanks for stopping by.

FREE PRINTABLE: Capture your child’s life now with this New Year’s interview

Kids grow and change so fast, and those of us who are parents or grandparents often wish we could somehow capture a slice of life from each stage to hold onto forever. So today I am offering you an opportunity to do just that!

The changing of the calendar year is a great time to reflect on the rapid changes in our kids’ likes, dislikes, and personalities. I created this interview sheet to use with my own kids, and decided to share it with you here. There’s a download link below, but first, here’s how the interview looks:

Interview p1Interview p. 2

It’s two pages long so you’ll want to print on front and back. Keep in mind that in our family, we have four kiddos ranging in age from newly four to seventeen, so I included questions to fit preschoolers through teenagers. I purposely started out with the easy questions like favorite colors and foods, then progressed to the more thought-provoking ones.

If you are using this with toddlers, you have several options for adjusting it to their level:

1. Print the first page only, and use the empty space on the back to stamp a handprint or let the child “draw” pictures. (Read: scribble)

2. Selectively answer whatever questions from both pages you feel apply to your child.

3. Make changes to the questions that don’t fit your child’s age. For example, with my youngest I’ll cross out “youth group activity” and replace it with “things to do with my friends.”

Even if your child or grandchild isn’t talking yet, you will want to fill in favorite songs, toys, foods, etc. to have a record of this stage in your baby’s life. You might even want to fill one in for yourself while you’re at it!

Of course, you also have the option to use my idea as a starting point and create your own interview to fit your family’s needs. But for those of you who want to skip the hassle and use what I’m sharing, here’s the link:

New Year’s Day Interview Sheet 2013

Our family always has a special dinner on New Year’s Day and that’s when I plan to go over these sheets. Our older kids will fill them out on their own, and I’ll let our youngest dictate her answers to me.

Won’t it be fun to look back in a few years to see how their answers have changed?

By the way, this is my very first FREE PRINTABLE offer, so please leave a comment to let me know what you think.

Thanks for stopping by!

 

My little linguist

I was sitting on the couch with Addison, reviewing her Latin verbs, when we came to the word “porto.” The definition I was looking for was “I carry,” but she had a very different answer.

Her: “I potty.”

Me: “What?!”

Her: (surprised that this wasn’t right) “You know…..like a porto-potty!

And then I found her drinking applesauce from a glass.

Never a dull moment!

Thanks for stopping by.

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