Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Art Lessons

One of Annaliese's favorite activities is getting real art lessons from her Uncle Chris. She is so serious about her artwork. It's amazing what she learns when she has a paintbrush in her hand. The lessons go far beyond basic art....the conversations and questions that come up while she's painting are so thoughtful and deep.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Nature/Science School

Annie loves, loves, loves going here each week. She attends this class once a week for 2 hours. It's perfect for her. They learn so much about so many different animals, habitats, weather, insects, dinosaurs, etc. These pictures are from her holiday celebration. You can see how eager Maggie is to join in!

Friday, December 17, 2010

The letter "K"...

We are rolling along in handwriting...except for the letter K. I'm not sure what it is about this particular letter, but Annie is having the hardest time with it. We are building it with wood pieces, using the mini chalkboard, tracing, etc., and I know it will just click one day, just not today. I just feel bad for her...she is so good at forming letters, and this bothers her that she is having trouble with this one. We finally left it alone and jumped into reading and math! :) You can see what I'm talking about in these photos. Poor thing. ;)

She read a whole book to me today, which made me so happy! I asked her to just read me one page, then another page, and sure enough she read the whole book! We just need to work on some sight words and then she'll be on a roll.

In math, she is still reviewing even and odd numbers, patterns, and she is learning about rows and columns.

In this photo, she laid out all of her dot cards, in no particular order, and then put a red tile underneath the even numbers and a green tile underneath the odd numbers. Then, she put all the dot cards into order from least to greatest (she's learning those terms) and again, placed the tiles under even and odd cards. From that, she was able to see the pattern of even, odd, even, odd, etc.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Back to the Books!

We have been on the go for a couple of weeks, and now we are back in a routine 'of sorts' for a little while! This week we've been having fun with letters and reading, especially. I am so proud of Annaliese. She is able to sound out and spell so many words.

In this activity I would ask her questions about a letter and then she got to color the letter. For example, I would ask her, "Which letter sound do you hear at the end of the word LION?" She would tell me, "N". She is really good at recognizing letter sounds. But, she did ask me, "Why does CAT start with a C and KITTEN starts with a K?". Oh my goodness, if I only knew that answer!! You never realize how silly the english language is until you are teaching someone to read. So many of the rules do not make sense and do not carry through for many words. How about the pronunciation of the words, HEIGHT and WEIGHT, or the spelling and pronunciation of the word COLONEL? I could go on and on. ;)

Friday, November 19, 2010


Well, we are currently on the road with mommy's business. Annie loves helping me out with every aspect of it. She loves the design process, the selling process, and all the interactions that come along with running a business. I admire this, as we are definitely trying to instill that "entrepreneur" spirit in her. She is learning so much and even makes her own artwork to sell, too. She even negotiates the price with her customers. It is really cute, although she really takes this quite seriously.

I love that we are able to do this together. CarSchooling will be our life for a couple of weeks!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Learning Even & Odd Numbers and Addition

Annaliese is moving right along with her math curriculum. We're learning even & odd numbers and she has really grasped this concept. RightStart Math does such an amazing job introducing these concepts and makes it fun to learn. I never dreamed she would know even & odds at such a young age. It's very cool.

We're also working on addition using tally sticks. As an example, she has to add llll + lll. But, instead of just writing 7, she has to write the answer in tallies. So she has to remember what the 5 looks like in tallies and add 2 more.

I'm so proud of her.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Thanksgiving Turkey and The Caldecott

I have begun incorporating fun, holiday crafts for Annaliese to do in addition to her regular lessons. This is such a fun time of year and there are so many fun crafts to do. We have reserved lots of books at the library that focus on the meaning of Thanksgiving.

We are also focusing on The Caldecott award winners. Annaliese is loving this. She loves to illustrate stories, so she is very interested in these books. So far, we're off to a great start in November!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Plotting Coordinates

This is one of Annaliese's new favorite activities. She really got the hang of figuring out the grid coordinates and plotting them by coloring them the correct color. She especially likes the surprise picture she ends up with after it's completed.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Busy week already!

Look at what Annie has been learning this week in math!

She's been reviewing tally marks.

She's been using the geoboard to make different quadrilaterals.

She's been learning about aba, abba, aabb patterns using colored tiles.

She's been keeping herself busy with a little numbers game I printed off for her. She counts the bats and puts a clothespin on the correct number of bats. A cute Halloween activity! We also taped it up high so Maggie can't get to it. Annie just pulls her little stool up to the door when she's doing the activity.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Teaching Through Cooking

Last week we decided to take our math lessons out of our classroom and into the kitchen. Annie is learning how to properly use the measuring spoons and cups to cook/bake her favorite treats. She is doing most of it on her own now with my supervision. She even "doubled" a recipe all be herself! She was making pudding and wanted to make a little extra, so she figured out how to add the numbers together to get her recipe doubled.

Teaching cooking concepts incorporates all five senses into an awesome learning experience. I've said it before, but Annaliese is a very hands-on learner and it definitely helps to make the lessons/concepts more real to her if I teach her in a way that incorporates the use of her five senses. It is not always a neat process, but making tasty treats is a fun way to get lots of important concepts taught! :)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Working with clay.....

As a child, I remember playing behind our house barefoot in muddy clay. I loved the feeling of it squishing between my toes, or molding little characters with it. One of Annaliese's all-time favorite activities is working with the pottery wheel. From my own experience as a mom and a teacher, I believe that few art mediums kindle growth and skills in children in the way that clay does. Clay seems to have a unique therapeutic quality that I have seen calm and settle children, especially my own.

I love watching Annie sit at the potter's wheel and place her tiny wet hands on the spinning clay. Clay is familiar to children, and it begs to be touched and formed, twisted and rolled. There are so many sensory experiences going on within them. I love this form of art because it requires an understanding of the three-dimensional world. Children begin to understand shape, form, and perspective when they get their hands dirty with clay. It's a great first lesson in geometry.

I love the look on Annie's face as she creates her pottery. I appreciate the look of her clothes and hands when she's messy and artsy. She always beams with pride with any artwork she does, but there is something special about her pottery work.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

"I Love You Mommy Teacher"

These are the words that tell me Annaliese is where she needs to be right now. :) She loves our time of homeschooling and begs me to do it. I love that. She loves to tell people what she's learning and is eager to share her skills....most of the time. We have been doing lot's of review in HWT (Handwriting Without Tears) of the first 8 or 9 letters and she's really getting good at forming those letters. She likes to tape little "Keep Out" signs on the door for Maggie, and now instead of little scribbles she uses the letters that she has learned how to write. haha! It's so cute, though.

In RightStart Math we are learning so much. It amazes me how much her little mind can soak up....and remember! The program does a lot of looping so you are reviewing constantly. Here she is showing me what a parallel line and a perpendicular line look like.

She then was able to draw me a full page of different colored quadrilaterals without me reminding her of what they were. She's learning how to add quantities to 10. Here she is playing a memory/matching game. The cards have pictures of the abacus beads and she had to match the numbers.

Reading is my favorite time with her. I don't think there is anything more joyous than being able to teach your own child how to read and see their little face light up when they sound out a word! She is still reading little books that focus on the short A and short E sound.

Here's a little picture of her latest creation. She takes care of this garden and is so proud when she gets some little veggies! We were especially excited to see this little pepper because this plant has been having some struggles. Good job Annie!

Today we're headed to the Arboretum for some fun in the sun and to see the pumpkin patch! :)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

On a roll

Annaliese is doing great with her lessons. In math we have been learning how to use tally marks and the beads on the abacus. She has learned all about parallel and perpendicular lines and can identify them in the real world. She can pick out a quadrilateral and is working on ordering. We have even begun skip counting, which she loves because it has the word "skip" in it. ha!

She is loving reading. Now that she knows her vowels she is having a great time figuring out 3-4 letter words. Her handwriting is coming along pretty slowly. She does pretty well in the lesson, but applying it in real life is taking a bit longer. She still writes her name with backward Ns even though we have learned how to properly form them. It just takes practice I guess! She is also writing her name backwards, but I've read that this is fairly common with left-handed children. She loves read-aloud time and we do a ton of it. She's reading The Tale of Despereaux with her daddy and really gets into that story.

Here is a picture of her working on her ordering skills using tally mark cards.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Reading her first book

Here's a short clip of Annaliese reading her first book all by herself. We were focusing on the short A sound here. The BOB books are a wonderful resource.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Learning by observation

It is no secret that homeschooling is sometimes difficult with a toddler running around. But, is she really just running around or is she actually soaking up much of the information being taught? My little Maggie can usually be found at the kitchen sink playing in the water, passing water from cup to cup, or painting at her little table while Annie and I are doing a lesson. She's also usually singing or talking to herself during these activities. Although I've always known it to be true, it never really hit me until a couple of days ago. Children learn by observation. I mean, really learn. Watching and listening to what others do is an important way for them to gain knowledge. Children learn from watching and imitating their parents and siblings especially. Observation is a strong force in gaining knowledge. The reason I bring this up is because of what happened a couple of evenings ago. My husband, was asking Annie about the different vowel sounds we have been learning. He asked her what the short vowel A says, and before she could answer Maggie immediately told him, "a, a, a, a, a". The same thing happened with the short vowel O sound that we reviewed yesterday. It blew my mind that my 24 month old sweetie was really listening and soaking in the information that I was focusing on with Annie.

Observation is a powerful way to gain knowledge. It is also very subtle, as you pick things up you may not even think about.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


We started the Handwriting Without Tears program last week and Annaliese is loving it so far. We work on the slate chalkboard, with the wooden pieces as well as the workbook. I love these multisensory techniques that help teach consistent habits for letter formation. It seems to be a good fit so far. I am keen on any instructional methods that use fun, entertaining, and educationally sound principles. :)

I love seeing the joy it brings to her when she learns a new letter. Here she is practicing with the wooden pieces and slate chalkboard to create the letter E.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Science/Nature School

Annaliese attends a once-a-week science class that is a wonderful supplement to what we teach at home. At this class they become nature explorers and learn about habitats and ecosystems. From forests to prairies to wetlands, they explore the world around them. They learn songs, finger plays, and stories and discover how animals and plants make up a habitat, and how they adapt to that habitat. They learn how animals that are awake at night cope with living in the dark. They dig into dinosaurs and fossils.They watch the season as it changes into fall and heads toward winter. They talk about our responsibility to nature, and what we can do to help the plants and animals around us. They explore the many different habitats on the sanctuary, and get up close to living animal visitors.

We just love this program. :)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A is for Art

Art is fun. Art is messy....period. As a daughter of a very artistic father I have a strong belief that art is so beneficial...especially in young children and I will make it a huge component of our homeschooling program. Through art, children learn to identify colors, cause-and-effect, shapes, problem solving, sharing and cooperation among many other skills. Although I don't typically love a big mess I always have to remember that by allowing my children to experience art in their own way, I am letting them show me how they think and feel and how they see the world around them.

When Annie and I are busy doing lessons, I let almost two-year old little Maggie put her sweet little hand (although she starts with a paint brush) in a tub of finger paint and she happily smears all of the colors together on the paper (or table, or herself)....and she is creating her own little masterpiece.

Art is important for young children because of the way it makes them feel about themselves. When my children finish an art project and they are so excited to show me their masterpiece with a beaming smile it makes us all feel so good. When I watch my girls doing an art project I see they are not only learning to think and illustrate the world around them in their own interpretations and thoughts, but they are learning to take great pride in their accomplishments.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Patterns, Ordinal Numbers and the First 3 Vowels

Annie has really done well this week. She has been learning the short vowel sounds for A, E and I and really digs reading. She seems to really like Math, since it is very hands-on. We've learned about ordinal numbers and we have been working on counting/displaying numbers with tally sticks, which is preparing her for the use of the AL Abacus next week. She totally gets patterns when we are practicing with colored tiles. I can start any type of pattern and she will finish it; however, when I showed her patterns using the tally sticks it was really difficult for her. I made the pattern going from left to right and when it was her turn to continue the pattern she tried to put the next tally stick under or over another one, which is her creative side coming out. She was visualizing something completely different than what I was trying to teach her. She wanted to put things that she didn't understand into a different context, which made sense to her. That's our Annie, though. She is a visual learner who has a gift working with shapes and color. Things that require imagination are a strength for her. However, the closer to analytical thinking (Mommy likes this way!) we get, the closer to creative reasoning she gets.

Throughout the day we'll often talk about what we've been learning. By last night she was grasping the concept much easier.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Our First Day!

We had a great first day of pre-k! We started out with a pancake breakfast and the girls found their schultutes. I knew I wanted to begin a tradition with my kids for the first day of school to make it special. This is a German tradition that began in the early 1800s. The schultutes are filled with school supplies and other goodies. My girls felt like it was Christmas! I made Maggie a little one since she is officially listening in and doing some little preschool activities. I made Annaliese one that was filled with all sorts of fun things! She loved the little ballerina on the front of hers, and has named her "Carla Marva".

After "first day pictures" by the front door we were ready to begin. Annie and I started with our Reading/Phonics Lesson and math lesson. She did great. Maggie worked with some water colors at her little picnic table while we were busy with the lesson. After math we got to Annie's favorite...ART! She made handprints and painted a rainbow. Those were her choice. ;) After the art was cleaned up Maggie went down for a nap and Annie and I snuggled on the couch for our Peak with Books lesson. We're reading Bedtime for Frances by Russell Hoban, which begins our 7 week Thematic Unit of Family and Friends..

Later in the day it was time for the library! We love walking there and piling books into the stroller. :)

We only spent 1-2 hours total doing school. The rest of the day is spent running and playing our hearts out! :)

I got word today that her handwriting curriculum, Handwriting Without Tears, has been shipped! FINALLY! We are excited to dig into that. I think Annaliese will really like the format of that program. It's very hands-on.