"For I know that I am fearfully and wonderfully made in You...You make it Beautiful Somehow"

Friday, October 26, 2012

Preschool at Home

Growing up I never thought I would home school my children. I went to a private school till 4th grade and really enjoyed it. When my family moved and there was no longer a good option for schooling available, my parents decided to home school us children. We were extremely involved with our local home school Co-op and were able to take classes once a week, meet friends, go on field trips, attend our Prom, and even have a graduation ceremony with our peers. It was wonderful. After graduating, going to college, and meeting my husband, I still thought I would put my child in public school. My husband grew up in public school and was comfortable with the idea. Our minds changed however when we had our first child. Now, don't get me wrong, we are not against public/private schools. My husband and I prayed about the idea of home schooling, and God put it in our hearts that it was the route to go for our family.

Jack just turned 3 in July and we decided to officially start Preschool with him. He loves learning and loves structure, so I knew he would thrive having a "school time" during the day. We decided to start with learning his Alphabet.

"Preschool Our Way"...
Each week we learn a new letter of the Alphabet. Each project/craft/work page is centered around that specific letter. We currently use many different methods to help him learn each letter's name and sound. I try to vary between structured worksheets, a craft, a song, a game, and hands on learning/sensory.

While we do have a few work books that we purchased, the majority of worksheets are made up by me. Pinterest has also been a wonderful help with finding many free resources for teaching methods, projects, and even lesson plans.

Here is one of Jack's favorite games: He has to dig out the foam letters from the bean box, then put them into the appropriate matching box on the paper. When he places a letter in the box, we say the letter name and the sound it makes. Repetition is the key! The more you can go over and over and over, the better they will remember.  I also throw a few letters in that he has not learned yet, those he puts into a separate pile, acknowledging that they do not match.

To practice our writing skills we have adapted a few different ideas. Jack isn't quite ready for the trace the broken lines concept so instead I simply draw out the letter with a marker, and he traces the letter with a paint pen. These paint pens are his favorite thing to use!

This is great pre-writing skill builder! Draw out the letter you are learning and have your child place stickers in a row along the letter. It is wonderful for fine motor skills and hand eye coordination practice. I will say this is not Jack's favorite since it takes a lot of focus for him. So I try to keep him motivated to finish and then we do something a lot less intensive after to let his little mind rest. Seriously, he looks like his brain has been zapped after this activity from focusing so hard! lol

We do have a few workbooks that we use. We have phonics, numbers, cutting, and pasting books. However, with all the free resources on line, you honestly don't even need to bother buying them. For the week of the letter A instead of using our cutting book I made a Trail of Ants instead. He loved this activity so much!

What else do we like to do:

Library day: On Mondays we try to make a trip to the library to find books that start with the Letter of the week. For letter A week we read about Ants, Armadillos, Alligators, and Apples. We read through the book once, then go back and find as many letter A as we can.

ABC Bible Verse: This has been my favorite part of our preschool. I did not think that Jack would be able to really retain a full Bible verse, but decided to go ahead and try it. I am amazed at not only how quickly he learns them, but how well he remembers them even weeks later! We are using I Can Teach My Child's ABC Printable Scripture Cards. They are wonderful! And free! Each letter has it's own Bible verse to learn with it. We simply put hand motions to the verse and repeat it a few times every day. Jack has learned it in full by the end of the first day, and usually can say it all by himself by the second. So, that makes Wednesday-Sunday (we do the verse, not school, every day) simply review and committing it to memory.

Grocery Store Letter Hunt: This is Jack's all time favorite game to play. Before we go out to any store I give him a 3x5 card that has the letter of the week written on it. As we are going through the store, Jack's job is to find the letter any where and tell me about it. It is so cute how excited he gets..."the letter A mom!!!!!!!!!" The first time playing this took a little while for him to get the concept but now he is a pro. He has even started pointing out the letter on billboards and signs outside when we are driving in the car.

Letter Craft: We love to do at least one really fun project where we turn the letter of the week into something else. No Time for Flash Cards has a fantastic list of crafts for each letter. You can also find free printable letters to use for crafts from Learn Create Love.

Our structured sit down "school time" usually consists of around 30 minutes -1 hour a day.  This is when we will go over what our letter is, practice our handwriting skills, and make our craft. Learning happens through out the entire day though. We have reading time, and play with play dough- spelling out our letters, or making a dog for the letter D. We paint, color, or sing. I think sometimes our most meaningful lessons happen during our every day life as opposed to our structured time. And of course we make lots and lots of time for just play. 

Make sure to stay flexible. If there is a day in which Jack is really struggling to stay focused, we will only do one structured, focused activity and then try to do more hands on, sensory, or play based learning. Every child is different and therefore learns differently. Just because something works great for my child, doesn't mean it will work perfect for yours. Take time to learn your child's interest and strengths, then come up with a plan to use those to help them learn.

In a nut shell (or a very long blog post) that is how we do it.

Any one else out there in the midst of preschool? Any tips or fun things that you and your children enjoy?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Pom Poms, Mint, and Brave Books

One of my favorite little additions to Charlotte's nursery is her mint green lamp. This was a lamp I had for quite a while but did not really have a home for it. It was creme and had a plain white shade. Not too exciting. So for the nursery I decided to spray paint the base and embellish the shade.

The color I choose for the base (looks darker in the picture than it is in real life) was Krylon Catalina Mist in Satin. Then, I found this adorable mini pom pom trim at the store and knew it would be the perfect addition to the lamp shade. I simply hot glued the trim to the edges of the shade. Easy peasy!

Oh and that little stack of books on the dresser? I have slowly been collecting books for Charlotte. Some of these were my favorites as a little girl. Now I know that Charlotte won't be reading Pride and Prejudice any time soon...but it is never too early to start a book collection. Right?

I love this list of Brave Books for Girls. There are still several on the list that I am looking for at thrift stores to add to Charlotte's collection.

Linking to: Not Just a Housewife

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Preview: Service

I have been sharing for a little while now about our family's journey to Houston to help plant a multicultural church. It has been almost a full year in the process for us, and over a year in the making for several of the other families on our team. In May 3 of the 4 families on our team moved to Houston, and we soon joined in August. This past summer has been full of community outreach and making personal and meaningful connections with families in Pearland.

After so much planning, anticipation, and hard work, we were thrilled to hold our very first Preview Service. Now that term may sound a little funny to some so I will explain what it means. A preview Service is just that...a preview of what your normal church service will look and function like. It is a chance to work out any kinks and to help figure out how to make things operate smoothly. You treat it just like a normal service but it gives us a chance to fine tune everything before the "official launch" of the church.

We had 33 people in attendace at our very first preview service. We had several friends and family show up to support us, as well as a few families from the community that we had met. It was so exciting to see the vision that God has put in front of us actually coming together!

We were able to hold our service at an event center at a park. Here is a little of what our Service looked like:

This was a few hours before the service started. Every one getting set up and sound checking. The location was perfect! We are praying that it will be open to us on a weekly basis when we launch the Church this January.

Our nursery all set up for the little ones.

The two and three year old class having their lesson time. We also had a good group of 5 kids for our older class that Chad and I taught, as well as 4 other little ones in the nursery section. We have been blessed with lots of little ones already.

We are all very excited about our next preview service coming up in November. Continue to pray for our team as we work even harder to reach out to the community of Pearland and make deep connections with families. We are so excited to see what God has in store for Pearland and Advance Church!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Forever Felt Ball Flowers

I have been keeping busy lately making a few odds and ends items for Charlotte's nursery. Here is just one of the little projects that I have finished.

Felt Ball Flowers

I have seen the felt ball flower idea in a few different nurseries on Pinterest and loved the idea! I find them very simple, sweet, and kind of whimsical. You can buy felt ball flowers already made on Etsy, but I am more of a diy girl, so I made a quick run to Hobby Lobby. I found a package of premade felt balls for just a few dollars on clearance and picked up the green pipe cleaners to be the stems. I used a needle to put a small hole in one end of the felt ball, squirted in a dab of hot glue and stuck the pipe cleaner to it. Tada! All done.

Now, if you want to really diy, you can make the felt balls yourself! Jump on over to Lil Blue Boo for her tutorial on how to make your own felt balls. It is surprisingly easy! Plus you can make them in any color or size you want.

These flowers would be a beautiful addition to really any room in your home. Mix and match colors like I did or go with a single color. You can use pipe cleaners or even colored wire. Make small or large balls. Get creative and add some beautiful color to you home!

oh and...we are now 27 Weeks! Ah! 3rd Trimester!

25 Weeks!

25 weeks down only 15 left to go if baby girl shows up on schedule! In the mean time I am keeping busy taking care of my boys, the house, my list of to-do projects, and drinking lots and lots of Red Raspberry Leaf Tea while reading books on birth and labor!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Ruffled Crib Skirt

I posted a little while ago about my long to-do list for baby girl before she arrives in January. I decided to get started this week with her bed skirt. Thankfully this project did not take as much time as I first thought it would.

So here you have it... a girly, ruffly, vintage inspired crib skirt!

I have been searching Pinterest for different ideas and inspiration. Here are a few things that inspired me to make this crib skirt...

I loved the ruffles on this ombre crib skirt! You can actually find a full tutorial on how to make your own on EmmmyLizzzy!

Here is another layered crib skirt from On To Baby. I love how they use so many different prints that aren't really "matchy" but they "go" great together!

I also looooove the look of this layered crib skirt! Head over to Makely Home to find her tutorial on how to make one out of curtians and save money on buying lots of fabric!

To make Charlotte's crib skirt, I started with an already made, thrifted, crib skit. The skirt was the yellow gingham fabric edged with the lace that you see on the bottom layer. The crib skirt was really wide so I simply adjusted the dimensions and added the top layers to part of the base of the crib skirt. I already had the lace on hand, sitting in my fabric stash begging to be used, and I found the other two prints of fabric at Hancock's for 50% off. Score! In total this crib skirt cost me less than $10! I am so beyond in love with it! I can't wait to finish the rest of her bedding and see it all come together!
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