First Day of School

When we made the decision to homeschool I knew this day would come…. the first day of school.  I wasn’t worried about our first day of school (excited about that actually).  No, I worried about how I would feel when my friends posted all their pictures of their children’s first day of school, especially this year when so many, just like ours, are starting kindergarten.  Would I be jealous seeing their children in their brand new outfits wearing oversized backpacks and big smiles?  Of course we aren’t going to make our educational choices based on cute photographs.  Especially when there is such an easy solution… take my own adorable pictures!  And make our own traditions.

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Our Future Graduates

One tradition we started… Taking a picture every year in our high school graduation shirt.  My husband made the 2027 Graduate logo that we ironed on to white T-shirts (we LOVE iron-ons!).  The plan is to take a picture of the girls in their shirts every year and watch as they grow into them.

Graduate TshirtsGrad

Just in case you also have a 2027 Graduate, here is the image we used: 2027 Graduate image for shirt

Or you can download this powerpoint and make changes as necessary: Graduate Tshirt design

School Cones

Another tradition was our “school cones.”  I heard school coneabout this German tradition from a friend and it sounded perfect for our family.  I included new school supplies as well as some special treats.  I had also closed up the school room a few days beforehand to get it ready so the girls were surprised when they entered and saw the room all set up and their school cones on their desks.

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They also had all their new school books sitting on their desks for them to look through and get excited.

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All About Me worksheet

On that first day we also completed our “All About Me” worksheets which we have done in the past and do at least once a year.All About Me Worksheet

Download All About Me worksheet

Self Portraits

And we made these self-portraits from their first day in kindergarten, which just might become another start of the year tradition for us.

kindergarten self portrait

Download First Day of Kindergarten Self Portrait

All About Me Worksheet

To kick-off our “school year” we did these All About Me sheets.  My plan is for the girls to fillP1040758 them out each year so we have a great journal of how they have grown and changed year.   I saw a few different versions online but had Ed make our own.

Download All About Me worksheet

It was great to hear their answers and capture this moment in time.  We also went back and did some of our “I am Special” activities.

All About Me Worksheet

The best answer… Mia saying that when she grows up she’ll be a “ninja princess scientist.”

Rocks Rock

We’ve been doing a rock unit since Tucson has been hosting it’s annual Gem and Mineral show. The girls have also been super into rocks since their niece, who they love and look up to, is a rock hound. We sorted rocks, took fieldtrips to explore, played rock games, did rock crafts, and did rock science experiments.
Enjoying the rock exhibit at one of our local museums (Flandrau Planetarium actually)

Enjoying the rock exhibit at one of our local museums (Flandrau Planetarium actually)

Rock Sorting

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We spent a lot of time looking at rocks, describing them, feeling the different textures, sorting them.  Sometimes the girls grouped them by size or color.

Looking for rocks?  You can just use some colorful ones from your own yard.  You can also purchase rock kits or starter collections.  We had picked up a few special ones from rock shops in the past and then also enjoyed the ones from when we went gem sluicing.

Monster Rocks

Originally the plan was to make pet P1020256rocks but the girls had other plans.  First we painted the rocks then decorated them with all kinds of goodies–googly eyes, feathers, sequins, glitter glue, gems, pipe cleaners.  (We have a plastic bin where we keep all those fun things so that when doing a project like this we can just pull it and go to town).

This project was a big hit.  The girls loved their rocks so much they showed them off to their friends who came to play who insisted on making their own rocks.  So we started another round of monster rock making!

I spy

P1000784This is a great game to play with real rock collections to learn how colorful and diverse rocks can be.  We visited a few at some of our local museums to look at their collections.

 

 

Fieldtrips

Get ouP1020133tside and explore some rocks!  Check your local area to see where you can do some good exploring.  Living in the desert it seems that we have rocks everywhere.  We had a blast exploring a local cave (Colossal Cave for my Arizona friends).  Now for a moment of mommy bragging–the cave tour had lots of stairs, was dark, and required good listening for a long time.  I was worried since I was alone with the girls but they were awesome!

Gem Sluicing

P1020122Very similar to panning for gold, this is so much fun!  We were able to do this on our cave adventure.  But really you could do this at home–just use a screen or sifter and a running hose, stream, bin of water.  There are sluice bags you can purchase with gems, sand, and other rocks or you can make your own by hiding gems or your special rocks into sand and dirt.

Geodes

What’s a rock unit without cracking P1020251open geodes?  Check your local rock shop to find some.  Gift shops for science related attractions also tend to have them or you can order some online if need be.  My niece took me to my first real rock shop and I have to say it was quite an experience.  I had no idea how interesting they could be.

 

Rock Mosaics

P1020255We made these using air-dry clay (from Crayola purchased at Michaels) for our base.  Then the girls pressed small rocks into it to make a design.  Once the clay was dry we covered them in a sealant so that their creations could find a home outside.  Just be sure to cover the entire thing, top and bottom, in a heavy duty sealant.

 

Rock Hunt

P1020029Of course we went hunting for rocks outside, just to look at as well as some to use for our crafts.  We also hunted for rocks around our house.  The girls were surprised to see that rocks were used around the house from the granite in the countertops to their pencil tips.

Homemade Sensory Table

We recently made a sensory table for the girls to use.  Well, when I say “we” I really mean that I draw up a plan and then Ed did the actual building.  Sensory tables are a great place for your little ones to explore with their senses (hence the name) and for messy projects but they can be pretty expensive.  This design was relatively cheap, under $20, and didn’t take too long to make.  A huge thank you to my friend Kendra for the inspiration.

And here’s a picture of the girls enjoying their finished sensory table.  They were exploring volume using measuring cups, jars, and bottles with the rice and beads in the bins.

Another great part about this design is that it can easily be adapted to meet different size needs. You can build it to whatever size bin you purchase. You can also easily add more compartments, creating a square or a row of stations.

Supplies: 2″x2″ baluster (cheaper to buy in 8 ft segments), 1 1/2″ wood screws, lag bolts (heavy gauge screws with a hexagonal head for a ratchet/wrench), plastic bins, drill, sandpaper, spray paint

 

Measure according to the bins and cut the baluster wood to shape.  When measuring, just look at the sides, don’t include the lip of the bins since you want it smaller so that it hangs from the lip.

Use 1 1/2 inch wood screws to connect the pieces.  We made one large rectangle and then inserted the middle piece.  And use a miter box at a 45 degree angle for all four corners.

Choose the height for the table (we went with about 18″ plus the 2″ of the frame) and then cut the leg pieces also from the baluster.  Attach the legs with lag bolts (really what you want are large bolts that have a hex head so you can use a wrench or ratchet on it.  You will need to drill out the holes first so that you don’t split the wood.  Ed used a larger drill bit so that you can sink the bolts so that they are flush with the wood and don’t stick up.  (The center prong will create a guide hole for the hole you drill for the bolt.)

Sand it so that the wood is even and the corners rounded to make it safer/softer.  You can puddy in the gaps but on ours they were so small it wasn’t worth the effort.  Then paint it.

Drop in the buckets.  For the bins, try to get as flat a bottom as possible.

We’ve been having a lot of fun with our table.  Above, they are having water play with water beads.  They are beads used in floral displays that puff up with the water and are squishy.  They come in all kinds of colors, are fun to tough, and can squish into all kinds of bottles, etc.

Just to show how much money you are saving, here are some similar sensory table designs…

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