Saturday, June 7, 2008

Ideas for Little Ones

From Life Take 1


Fingerpainting with yogurt, pudding, whip cream


Sandboxes and dirt. Make mudpies. Yummy!!

Watertables -- can be filled with water, rice, sand, feathers, hay, anything just be creative. Use various things to play with such as utensils, measuring cups and spoons, funnels, tongs, sifter,... Remember to include somethings that won't work to further enhance the experience.

Nature walks -- sit and watch the ants, look for birds in the trees and new plants sprouting up. Look for changes in the colors around you, weather changes, and more.

Hand rhymes and songs

Lacing shapes, string wooden beads, and puzzles

Chores and basic hygenie

Legos, wooden blocks, lincoln logs,

cutting paper


magnetic letters with a lap size magnet board (you can use an old cookie sheet for this)



own homeschool stuff, as much as possible. including a notebook to draw/write, own pencil box with whatever drawing implements she is permitted (if they can be different or new from her usual drawing materials, so much the better), safety scissors (they make somethat only cut paper, not hair or clothes, if you think that's an issue.) and glue stick.

own "worksheets" at the pre-K level matching, coloring, etc - there's lots of printable stuff on the internet, just do a search for printable worksheets

special math manipulatives, counters, bears, linking cubes, pattern blocks etc. My younger son's favorite was real coins, used with supervision, of course.

craft stick games - get a bunch of craft sticks and use markers to color designs on them in matching pairs, using different shapes, colors or numbers of dots. mix and let her match. Or turn over to blank side and playmemory. or make a set with ascending numbers of marks, and order them.

Old deck of playing cards - let her do what she wants with them, or suggest ideas like sorting, or use with playdough to build structures rounded point toothpicks and playdough - if you are really ambitious, you could draw some simple designs on index cards (2D) or make samples (3D) for her to try to copy.

a 9 x13 baking dish or jelly roll pan with a thin layer of flour or cornmeal in the bottom for drawing with a finger OR spray shaving cream on a baking sheet and draw, shape, etc.

A coloring book with large, simple line drawings for mosaic fun - fill in the drawings with small pieces of colored construction paper (cut into squares or tear; paint sample cards free from your local home store is great for this) glued on with glue stick.foam letter and/or number puzzles. for usual use as well.

relief rubbings (put a sheet of paper over the piece and rub with a crayon)a large bin (like the Rubbermaid underbed storage kind) filled a couple of inches deep with rice, and a set of measuring cups and spoons. Put a sheet down on the floor first for easy clean-up, or let her clean up with asmall dustpan and hand whiskbroom.

Push a stepstool or chair up to the kitchen sink and let her "wash" a selection of plasticware. OR find a small pitcher and let her pour into small cups (like small sippy cups without lids) and bowls. Fill the sink with water or use a large bowl full of water in the sink to dip thepitcher into to be filled. In the other sink put a baking dish or large food storage container with short sides to hold the cups to be filled. If you don't have another sink, put the pan on the counter next to the sink and monitor the spill level in the pan, or you could have quite a mess
Encourage her to pour the filled cups back into the reservoir (sink or bowl). Can use measuring cups and spoons here, too.

Take a sheet of paper and draw some coin sized circles on it. Let her cover the circles with counters or coins. Have some sheets with more circles and some with less. To make it harder, use different sized counters or coins and make the circles different sizes too.

Take several colors of construction paper or card stock, and cut different shapes - circles, squares, triangles. Sort or line up by color or shape. Make it harder by making more than one size of each shape, or adding more shapes, or more colors. You can use these when she is older (or with older children) by making patterns in the lineup and having her figure out the pattern and choose what comes next. Or making rules to follow in building the lineup - the next piece must have one thing in common with the one before, or two things in common, etc.Paperclips, regular or large size, to chain or lump together, or whatever.

A set of large stencils - the ones with small designs are just frustrating for little kids.

A hole punch and/or staple remover. My younger son went through a period of fascination with the staple remover at about 4 yo. He used it to "bite" paper. He named it Fang, and he played with it every day for long periods of time. He still loves to hole punch (he's 6 1/2 now).

shelling salted peanuts- and then when a large enough amount has been shelled (and not already consumed) you can put them in the blender with a dash of vegetable oil and make peanut butter. Then the younger one can spread the pb on crackers, and have snack during the next lesson period.

On a similar vein- using cookie cutters ( stars, hearts, etc.) to cut out pieces of bread. Then spreading cream cheese on with a butter knife and decorating the surface with raisins, nuts,olives etc. ( if you use a circle as a cutter-they can make faces- and use sprouts or cut up vegetables too.)

spice paintings- using white glue on contruction paper and then using any old spices out of your cupboard as "glitter".

Good old ooblek ( cornstarch/water/food color)- try making two or three colors and filling "honey bears" plastic squeeze bottles with them. Then give her a rectangular cake pan to squeeze them into. ( A plastic table cloth laid down first is a really good idea.)

Sorting buttons and beads. Stringing beads in simple patterns. Attaching buttons and beads to styrofoam blocks with old fashion hair pins (like bobby pins but with thinner wire)

Speaking of wire- playing with twisteez (plastic coated wires -- twisteez are for all ages!) and playing with pipe cleaners- the more the better.

Using eye droppers to mix colored water. Fill an assortment of small plastic cups with colored water (I use liquid watercolor from discount school supply- but food color will also work) Make sure the colors are fairly diluted- then give one small cup of clear water and let the color mixing begin.

Taking the kernels off Indian corn.

And in case you happen to have a hand crank wheat mill around- grinding wheat berries into flour. (I know - most peole don't have a wheat grinder- but if you do, it should keep your little one entertained for a while. Especially if the goal is enough flour to then make pretzels or pizza for lunch)

Using the Handwriting Without Tears laminated letter cards and playdough or pretzel dough to form the letters.

Using mini cupcake tins, and cookie cutters with playdough along with an assortment of plastic gems for decorating with.

Using measuring spoons to move colored pebbles ( the type for aquariums) from one container to another. Add colored sand to the pebbles, pour the mix into a tub and a use sandbox sifter to separate them. (again Discount School Supply has the colored sand)

Dover Publications has a bunch of reusable sticker sets - some with imaginary scenes and some with scenes from different environments and different times in history. I'm going to try to get some that correspond with some of the subjects my older child is working on and see if they keep my littlest one engaged.

as a different approach- sometimes we move the "schoolroom" into the back yard. Then my littlest can play while my older one has lessons. Granted this works best for either me reading to him- or his reading to me. But we have also managed to do math lessons out there. I have also taken to giving my older one a break between subjects by reading aloud a book that both he and my 2 year old will enjoy. This seems to help too.

The main thing to remember is to keep whatever activities you choose special for school time only, not other times. Anything that looks like or is what big people use is fun and special.


ABC Bingo (Trend Enterprises, available at teacher stores)

Numbers Bingo (Trend Enterprises, available at teacher stores)

Lacing Tracing Cards (Lauri Products, or Trend)

Puzzles (floor puzzles, wooden peg puzzles, lauri puzzles -- any kind basically)

Math Manipulatives (Kitty Kat counters, Pattern Blocks, Cuisenaire Rods, Multilink Cubes, and Attribute Blocks. I also have pattern block animal cards and the cuisenaire rods alphabet book. And a scale. For a long time,I just let her play with these however she wanted or directed her play toward counting/math activities but lightly.)

Scissors (I started with a blue pair that is one continuous loop and really easy for toddlers. I also used the Fiskars "My First" pair. These are neat and both are available at Teacher Stores.)

Construction paper.

Runny glue, stick glue, pasty glue

Craft supplies

My old calendars to cut up.

Trend Trace and Erase Workbooks (one is called Before I Print, one is Counting Fun, one is Shapes and Colors. Available at office stores or teacher stores. Kids love them because they are markers.)

Lacing Beads and Cards

My First Uno and other games

Cocentration (we had the Veggie Tale cards, now we also have the Blues Clues cards.)

Go Fish, (Thomas Train cards, and works also with the cards listed above; plus there is a new Veggie Tale set like the ones they used in Jonah.)

Baby Einstein Flash Cards. (I used these more with my son, who was talking in complete five to eight word sentences at 18 months. He loved these cards. They are big. They are bright. And they are very sturdy! They have 3 sets now; and I just go the third for my baby's "school" this year.(animals, nature, and basic objects. Can't remember the official titles.)

Website Resources

Before Five in A Row (B4FIAR) is an excellent unit study that works for many families. It didn't work for ours though. The plan is to read one story each day for five days and to do activities to enhance the child's comprehension of the material.

Letter of the Week has activities for various age ranges including preschool and Kindergarten (as well as younger) to teach the name and sounds of the alphabet. Best of all -- its free!

Zip Lock Bag Activities

Teaching Resources

Preschool Readiness
The Preschool Busy book, The Baby Busy Book, and The Toddler Busy book by Trish Kuffner.

The Play and Find Out series by Janice Van Cleave

Slow and Steady, Get Me Ready by June Oberlander

Homeschooling a 2 Year old

From Life Take 1

2005-2006: It has only been a year since I last used Core PK and neither my middle child or I am ready to tackle it again. So, I decided to make my own curriculum SL style for my little guy based upon all the great suggestions I have recieved over the years. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do. I will be tweaking it as we go along so please do the same to fit your needs. The schedule will be posted no later than May 2005. So check back often for updates.

Sorry all.... looks like the schedule will be late as I have yet to purchase any of the materials I will be using next year BUT! I do have a list of resources that I will be using. I am hoping that this will give some of you some ideas while you are waiting for me.
  • Big Thoughts for Little People
  • The Young Learners Bible
  • Harper Collins Treasury of Picture Book Classics
  • You Read to Me and I'll Read to you: Books from the 20th Century
  • Curious George Treasury
  • Thomas the Train Treasury
  • Leap Frog DVDs (there are currently 4 available)
  • Preschool Readiness (available at RR)
  • The Train to Zebra
  • Animal Ark
  • My ABC Journal
  • Lauri Manipulatives
  • Cusenaire Rods with the following 2 books: On the Farm and In the Town
  • I Spy An Alphabet in Art
  • Boys First Book of Manners
  • Lacing Beads
  • Teddy Bear Counters
  • Magnetic Letters
  • Various Computer Games
  • Music for Little Motzarts
  • Signing Time Videos


From Life Take 1

Please make sure that you let Sonlight know on your order form when you registered, that Misty R. in AZ, was the consultant you spoke with. You can get to the Sonlight website by clicking on any of the banners that you see on this site or right here.

Tips For Sonlight

From Life Take 1

Sonlight can be overwhelming and confusing to anyone new to the curriculum but don't worry -- help is available!! And, once you get used to Sonlight, you will find it a breeze to comprehend. My first suggestion is to order the catalog, read through it; this will help clarify things and has a lot of useful information.

Cores Not Grade Levels

Sonlight was designed so that families with multiple children can study together using one program. Therefore, a Core is not equal to a grade level but can be used with a grade range. Please visit "How To Choose", for more information. Another great article on this topic is "How Can I possibly use a K program with a 2nd grader?"

To Use Or Not To Use

I have never come across a homeschool supplier before who actually lists out the reason why not to use their program but Sonlight does. It is just another example of how much they value their customers and how each one is considered a member of the family. For information on why NOT to use Sonlight, please click here. For information on why families love using Sonlight, please click here.

More Great Information

I cannot possible explain all the great things that I have come to love about Sonlight. Is it the forums, where I have unlimited access 24 hours a day 7 days a week from not only Sonlight Staff but homeschooling families who have been there done that? Is it the instructor's guides that have everything so carefully planned out for me with notes and more about what I am teaching? Is it all the great things I recieve along with my order (some for free)? Is it the possibility of a scholarship from Sonlight for my child's college education? Is it the online product samples that I can view?

I would have to say its all of these things and so very much more. If you want to read even more great articles about Sonlight and the opportunities it presents for your family, please click here.

About Sonlight Curriculum, Ltd.

From Life Take 1

Sonlight Curriculum, Ltd. is a Christian, world-focused, mission-oriented curriculum that is based upon great literature. It uses the philosophy of Ruth Beechick as a backdrop for their instructor guides and correlates nicely with Charlotte Mason and Classical educational theories of home education. This program can be adapted for use with secular families and/or to teach children of multiple levels using one core. The options, thoroughness, and planning that Sonlight does for you makes it worth every penny you will spend.
However, as you will soon find out, Sonlight is more than just a curriculum. It’s a family of homeschoolers all over the globe who help and support one another. The forums offer a great resource to answer any questions you may have. It is also a place to meet others, pray, laugh, and share about your life.

If Sonlight sounds like the right curriculum for you or you would like more information, please feel free to email me, visit the Sonlight Forums, and I would also highly recommend that you visit this page -- which is all about the Sonlight experience.
Sonlight Curriculum, Ltd.

Whole Home Learning Environment

From Life Take 1

Even though you may designate one area to your home to your child's education it is actually throughout your home that your child will learn. Every skill we teach our children is important. You cannot teach cooking from the desk in the office!

What I have done and continue to try to do, is to take advantage of every area in my home. I use bullentin board sets from the teachers store to decorate my children's rooms in whatever topic is their current favorite. We have one wall designated for this. In the bathroom I have posters of personal hygenie, the five senses, and body parts. The kitchen has a model of the food pyramid and a chart of different types of fruits and vegetables. The playroom is covered in preschool posters from ABCs and 123s to the ocean to tips on sharing. The dining room has maps and posters from all over the world.

This is how our 2 bedroom apartment was decorated. Since we moved, things have been moved around and placed in other areas of the home. Since we now have a school room and a playroom, a lot of things have been moved there.

My point is ... be creative. Every room in your home has something to teach your child. Just as every tree and flower in your backyard has a secret to share, homeschooling is about opening our eyes to the wonders around us. Not necessarily for the children, but for the parents. As we get older, we tend to overlook that which fascinated us as a child. The bread rising on the counter, the ladybug crawling on a leaf, the wind moving through the area, the dust on the furniture. Each one has their own story to share. Its your job as a parent to rediscover and share it with your child.

Meaghan's Hope

From Life Take 1

We would like all of our readers to take a moment and visit Meghan's Hope before continuing on with this site. Meghan was a beautiful 3 year old little girl who lost her life in a very tragic way on December 18, 2004. This website was created in her memory to protect all of our families from experiencing the same tradegy the Meghan's family has to endure. With help from us all, we can spread Meghan's message and save the lives of God's most precious gift ... our children!



Welcome to my newest website. Yep -- another one! I have deleted all of the past sites but am hoping to move all the information from there to this one. So if you are looking for something, please have patience, it is coming. If you are looking for something, email me and I will try to get it to you sooner.

For those who are new, let me introduce myself and catch up on what has been happening in my life. In 1998, I meet and feel in love with a man that I would marry six short months later. We have three boys who we love very much. However, after eight years of marriage, he was in a serious accident at work. Don't worry.... he is well but our marriage did not survive this time. I discovered that he had someone else in his life. Again. Our marriage was already rocky because of previous issues with this, there was no way to recover from it. My world changed instantly that day. I was a wife, mother, and homeschooler. Now, I would become the primary provider, a single mom to three small children, a student trying to complete here degree, and some where in there I needed to find time for me so I could juggle all of these things.

I did it. It wasn't easy on the boys or me but we made it through with God's grace and guidance. Each day was a challenge but we not only survived, we succeed. About 8 months ago, God brought someone new into our lifes. Recently he proposed, and so life again has begun. It never really stopped but today we are on a new path and a new journey than the one that we were on before. I wonder where God will lead us now?

Join us in our new adventures as we look back at the past and prepare for the future. For those of you who know me personally, I have designed another website that is the countdown for the wedding. If you need the link, please email me.