Sunday, July 10, 2011

Forward Facing Bookshelves

 Look what I done did made!  For only $5 each, I was able to make a couple of 24 inch, forward facing bookshelves for the playroom using Ana White's ledge plans.  I decided to make this type of bookshelf after reading the theory that children read more and longer when the books on a shelf face forward.  I read that online, so I'm sure it's true.  :)

Immediately, the children went nuts 

I actually finished the shelves a week or two ago, but had them lying on the floor because I wasn't sure how I was going to hang them.  Finally, I bought and tinkered with some dry wall anchors only to find out that there was a stud in the exact spot in which I wanted to hang them.  So, I ended up just screwing them straight into the wall (after pre-drilling, of course).

Here's what the twins were doing while I was hanging the shelves...

Must run.  Gotta get to work on the cubby storage system!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Handwriting Without Tears

As a homeschoolin' mama, I am very, very blessed to have the Leticia as my mother-in-law.  Letty has probably 20 some years of teaching experience.  Not only that, but she has taught special needs kiddos.  Not only that, but she taught them in both English AND Spanish.  Are you impressed yet?!?  She is a*maaaaa*zing.

This past Sunday, Letty came up to visit for my hubby's bday.  And, of course, she brought with her an entire trunk load of teaching materials for me!  Letty gives a whole new meaning to "junk in her trunk!"  Whoo-hoo!!!

I am most excited about the Handwriting Without Tears curriculum that Letty brought me.  She even gave me a teaching demonstration using my son Merrick and his cousin as pupils.  I was in complete awe watching her in action.  I was dubious of the kids' willingness to participate, especially since they were sitting in my dad's "man cave" with a 50 inch tv in front of them.  But, Letty presented HWT as a game and they were entranced!

For her example, Letty chose to teach them the letter F.  She used several different tools to teach this: play-doh, dry erase board, and the Mat Man you see above, mostly.  The kids loved Mat Man.  After they put his body together, Letty asked which parts of his body we'd need to "borrow" to make the letter F.  Merrick only needed to think about it for one half of a minute, and then he got it!  I was so impressed!

After the lesson, Merrick gave his Bita (short for Abuelita, which means Grandmother) a big hug and said, "Are we going to do this again tomorrow?"  He had no idea he was "doing school".  He was just enjoyed the games. 

I so look forward to learning more about this program and learning how to imitate my MIL's ability to nurture a child's nature love of learning.

Homemade Daily Schedule/Circle Time

So, here's what I'm up to lately.

Aside from continuing to build and paint furniture for the school/playroom, I am also attempting to make calendars and daily schedules for the circle time area.  What is circle time, you ask?  Honestly, I had no clue before 5 days ago.  My mother-in-law, who has probably 20 years teaching experience, asked me if I was going to have circle time with Merrick and I replied with a very hesitant, "Ummmm...."   She was less than satisfied with my answer, I think.                    

Thankfully, she was kind enough to fill me in.  It's pretty simple, I think.  And, I'm thrilled because my MIL thinks my 2 year old twins will be able to participate in this part of our school day. Basically, the children sit in a semi-circle.  We have two different calendars on the wall which we use to talk about the day of the week, the weather of the day, and our daily schedule.  We can even add in a few of our own twists, like the scripture of the day.  Also, my mother in law gave me a little picture book with classroom rules that we're supposed to read together everyday (and focus on one guideline every day).

Mari-Ann over here at Counting Coconuts has some great input on how she does circle time with her son.  Here's a pic of her homemade calendar:

Although I've seen many calendars for this purpose online, I just have to make my own!  I am waaaay too picky about stuff like that, especially when it's going to be hanging up on a wall in my home.

Here are a couple of pictures of the beginnings of our felt daily schedule tool.  I'll post again once it's finished.

I'm trying not to be too particular about the schedule "ornaments."  I have a tendency to be a little too perfectionist-y over stuff like this, but I'm trying to relax a little bit and just have fun with these.  

Can't wait to show you the finished product!