Inaugural Bingo Board

The peaceful transfer of power is a hallmark of our country and on Friday we get to watch it once again.  I personally am excited and will be watching it with my children and friends.  In order to help my children get the most out of the event and keep their attention, I created a bingo board filled with questions whose answers should appear during the Inaugural coverage.

If you prefer, I also listed the questions in a simple worksheet with lines for the answers.  And I made an answer key if you don’t hear the answers or want to check yourself.

Inauguration Bingo Board

Inauguration Worksheet

Answer Key

 

 

Our New School Room

I love our new school room!  Over the summer I just got fed up with our school room.  It had been cute when we set it up but as the actual schooling got under way, it just became too disorganized, drab, and depressing.  It needed a redo and desperately.  Take a look, here are our before pictures…

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And now, ta da!

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I really wanted the room to be brighter and happier so I went with the bright green, blue, and pink.  And we desperately needed more organization.  The room was fabulous when it was first set up but now that the kids were older and a baby was in the picture, we had outgrown the original design and it was a hot mess.  I wanted to move away from the crowded cupboard to more shelf space that was organized.

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We bought the shelves from Walmart for only $30 a piece and then the colorful baskets came from Michaels on sale.  I made the tags out of scrapbook paper (all those stacks of it finally came in handy) and black chalkboard paper.  I just used a white paint pen to write on them.

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And here is the front of the room…  The bulletin board is for our Bible verse that we are memorizing.  And on the white board you can see our timer which has been so helpful in keeping us on track and helping the girls focus on their schoolwork.

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On the next wall is my desk.  When I first set up the room, I didn’t have a desk for me–my thought being that this was a space focused on the kiddos (and I didn’t see how it would fit at the time).  But that just didn’t work.  Maybe it’s the teacher in me but I needed my own space to work, prep, and plan.  The bulletin boards will soon be filled with the kid’s work and the bean bags are our reading nook.

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And here is our science center.  I really love it!  I covered an old bookcase in patterned contact paper (like what I used on the filing cabinet).  It hid the water damage and stains.  On the shelves are all of our science and social studies books and activity kits.  On top are our science tools.  The Parts of the Scientist poster came from here.

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The filing cabinet is one of my favorites.  My dad had given us the filing cabinet but it was pretty dingy.  I spray painted it purple and covered the drawers with the purple chevron contact paper.

redone filing cabinet

Be sure to take the drawers all the way out and remove the handles, etc.  There should be screws in the back that you can use to pry them off.

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Really I went a little spray paint happy.  Once I did the filing cabinet, I decided to paint my little plastic drawers.  I’ve had this set for years (you can usually find it at Costco or Michaels) but was just done with the multi-colored look.  So I painted all the drawers purple.  I also took off the silver handles to add the labels.  In the past I’ve used paper labels but this time I used dry erase tape so that I can change it whenever I want.

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I also painted our school desks.  They were looking dirty and dingy but this really brightened the entire room.  Just be sure to put many coats of a sealant such as polyurethane coating for wood.

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Finally, I added the paper flag banner to be a finishing touch and help bring cheer to the room.  I wanted a place that made me smile when I entered because I knew that would make the children smile too.  I used scrapbook paper and twine that I already had around the house.  For the flags I used the template from Flairy Tales found here.

Paper flag banner

Not only is the room happier, but it has made us more efficient.  It’s easier for the kids to help the room stay clean and shows them just how much we value their schooling.  Win win win!

First Day of First Grade

So we started another school year two weeks ago.  I can’t believe it’s already been two weeks.  We got a bit of a late start due to our big trip back East (we did a LOT of traveling this summer) but it’s been good to be home and get back into the groove of things (even if the transition has been a little rough).  I just wanted to share some pictures from our first day back and our family traditions.

graduate Tshirts

I love these shirts!  We bought large ones and made the 2027 logo last year.  We are taking a picture of the girls in their shirts every year to show how they grow and change.  By the time they graduate high school in 2027 the shirts should be fitting a little better (tearing up a little thinking of them growing up so fast). 2028 Graduate

Want to make your own?  Just choose your year, download the pdf, and print it out on iron-on paper.

2026 Graduate

2027 Graduate

2028 Graduate

2029 Graduate

Need a different year?  Here it is in powerpoint so you can change the year: Graduate T-shirt adjustable year

And of course we take normal pictures too:

This is one of my favorite, just because they look so joyful

This is one of my favorite, just because they look so joyful

 

Another tradition is entering the school room.  I shut it down before we start school and work on getting everything clean and set up nicely (this was actually a huge project this year which I will blog about soon because I’m so proud of how it turned out).  This year I decorated the door a little to build up the excitement.

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And then we have all of their new school books sitting out on their desks.  In addition to the books are all kinds of special treats–scented markers, new crayons, smarties candies–just some things to make the day special and celebrate their new beginning.

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Word Wall Ball

Last week  I put on a Word Wall Ball for our military homeschool group and it was… word wall ball titleAWESOME!  Okay, I know that is totally braggy but I’m just really happy with how well it went and how much fun we all had.

So what is a Word Wall Ball you ask?  Well, my sister gave me the idea from something she observed in a kindergarten class.  The idea was that kids would have their list of sight words on their word wall when they have learned all of them they earn a ticket to the Word Wall Ball.  Really we just celebrated everyone’s accomplishments in reading, whether it was learning sight words or starting to read for the first time or finishing a grade level.

DSCN1720We held it at the community center on base and everyone brought a potluck dish to share for lunch.  I said for the kids to dress fancy for them–whatever would make them feel special–and boy did they dress up.  I had helium filled balloons floating around with strings long enough for the kiddos to catch them and then other balloons on the ground for kids to bounce around (if you know me IRL you know what a big deal this was for me because I HATE balloons).  When they entered I had royal music playing (alright, it was just the march from Sleeping Beauty) and as soon as the kids came in and saw the balloons and everything they started screaming and bouncing around and dancing.

In addition to the balloons and dancing, we also did a cake walk.  If you haven’t done a cake walk, you are seriously missing out.  Think happy musical chairs with cupcake prizes.  We had sight words cards for our spaces.  When the music plays the kids walk around the circle.  When the music stops, we call out a word and the child standing on that space gets a cupcake and leaves the circle.  Add in a DSCN1686new kiddo and begin again.  We just played until everyone got a cupcake. (Okay in a real cake walk it would be cakes and then you would start with a whole new group, but I really like it this way.)

Download the Sight Word Cake Walk

 

I also had out scratch out for the kids to do.  Such an easy craft–just set out the supplies–but such a big hit.

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And we had a photo booth!  I think I love the pictures even more than the kids loved taking them. 🙂

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I found my props online; then just cut them out and added shish kabob skewers.  I recommend using an exacto knife for the eye holes and other fine details.  And before sure to glue the skewers with the pointy end against the paper piece so no one gets hurt.  So many are for weddings or adult parties but I found good ones for the kiddos at Accent the Party (a great list) and Creative Juice.

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But the best part of all for everyone was recognizing the children’s accomplishments.  On the walls I had a img074book for each kiddo celebrating their achievements in reading.  I had the parents write me with what they wanted to celebrate and then I just copied and pasted them onto the book stencil.  At the end of the party we gathered the children around to acknowledge each of their accomplishments.  After announcing the child’s name, I would read their “book” to the group and we all cheered.

I am uploading the book template as a powerpoint file so that you can make adjustments and add your text.  I am also adding it as a pdf in case you can not open the powerpoint.

Book template powerpoint

Book template pdf

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In homeschooling kids can miss out on public recognition of their achievements.  While we shouldn’t do things just for the applause, it certainly is nice to be celebrated.  I think all the parents were surprised at just how much it meant to our children to recognize them in front of the group.  You would have thought they won the lottery when I called a name.  We will definitely be doing this again in the future.

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That night the girls told me how proud they were of themselves.  Looking at those smiles, I know that the greatest part for them was getting recognized for their hard work.  And one of the greatest parts for me…  Mia ran up, gave me a giant hug, and said “Thank you Mama!”

P.S. We used the plain scratch art paper that I actually cut in half sheets and it worked just great. The kiddos loved creating their own designs. But if you are looking for something a little more fancy or structured, there really are all kinds of great options.

I am Learning All the Time Book

Recently we went to a homeschool event in our community.  In addition to beingDSCN0549[1] something fun for the kiddos, I love big homeschool events because I love seeing the diversity of the homeschool community.  It’s definitely not the stereotype that people picture (well, that I know I pictured).  It also reminded me of one of our favorites books, I am Learning All The Time by Rain Perry Fordyce. Finally a story book for homeschoolers.

My girls love this book because it is all about a little boy describing his homeschool day.  They like seeing someone do similar activities to their own.  I like this book because in addition to being a great depiction of homeschooling, it is also does not put down traditional forms of education.


I first came across I am Learning All the Time when my girls started asking questions about traditional school and if they would be attending one.  They were having a hard time understanding that our school at home would be taking the place of the brick and mortar schools their friends would attend.  I realized that we had many books on our shelf that involved school and that was leading to some of the confusion.  So I cleaned out our bookshelf and went looking for a children’s book that captured the homeschool experience.  I am Learning All the Time didn’t let us down.

I know that I get overwhelmed with all the DSCN0548[1]picture books about school (especially this time of year) so for us it’s been great having a story book about homeschooling.  If you have young ones, I highly recommend checking out this book.

 

 

 

 

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