Friday, July 1, 2022

Week in Review - Another Birthday, Bowling, and Basketball


Saturday was Eli's birthday. He turned 17! I cannot believe he is almost an adult. He's such a great kid! I made hamburgers, my special beans, and baked potatoes for his birthday dinner. We also went bowling with all of his siblings, including Mikaela and Daniel. It was fun! 


We stayed home from church today. We needed a little break to just rest and relax together. I cooked meatloaf, macaroni and cheese, and the leftover beans from Saturday. Mikaela and Daniel came over again, and we had ice cream cake for Eli's birthday with Rod. The kids helped Rod bushhog one of the horse pastures and disc up Mercie's arena area for her barrel racing practice.


Silas and Titus had dentist appointments this morning, so Mercie and Eli watched Zeke for me while I took them to the dentist. We came home, and I cooked Spanish Rice Casserole (it's not even a casserole) and macaroni and cheese with bacon burger (to please everyone). We worked outside a bit in the yard, picking things up and killing wasp nests. Eli had to work after lunch. He had a basketball game this evening we went and watched. 
Go #5! (in white and green)


Today was a really busy day. I did so much running around! Titus, Zeke and I went to speech this morning - an hour there and an hour back. We did stop and eat Popeye's for lunch because Titus has been wanting to try their macaroni and cheese. He wasn't that impressed with it! We got home around noon and then I had to take Silas to the doctor at 2:15. After the doctor visit and filling his prescription at the pharmacy, we didn't get home until 4. Then at 5:30 I had to run Titus to Taekwondo. I vacuumed out my car, filled up with gas, and ran it through the carwash while I was waiting for him to finish. I was exhausted when I got home! Eli worked all day today.
He wants to do Summer School like his brothers.


My parents got home from Nicaragua late last night, so we went and visited with them today. I picked up some frozen pizzas and drinks since they didn't have much food after being out of the country for a while. We hung out outside, and two of my sister's kids came to visit too. Mercie stayed to ride to church with them (she goes to their youth group on Wednesdays). Eli had to work all day today. I FaceTimed this cutie since they went to Mississippi for a few days!


Two of my nephews came over to visit with the boys today. We didn't do much all day until Titus had Taekwondo in the evening. Mercie's friend Ellie came over and they rode horses and practiced the barrels. 
They give Zeke a broken controller and he thinks he's playing with them on the Xbox!


We plan to go to the library today to exchange our books. I have a pick-up order to get, have some things to mail for Etsy and Ebay, and cash Eli's check from work. 

Summer School

The boys worked in their Daily Notebooks each day. We made some little mini-books for our big Old Testament lapbook we're working on. Titus is getting better with his math facts! They've both been reading much more - Titus found a book series he loves - Dragon Masters! I actually bought these for him last year, and he just found them on his shelf. He read an entire chapter book in one day - which is awesome for him! He earned his second dollar for the summer. He has the books 1-8 and asked me to order him books 9-12. One thing my kids know - I never say no to buying books.

On the Blog this Week

How was your week? I'm linking up with Friday Favorites.

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Preschool Picture Books & Art: The Fuzzy Duckling & Handprint Duck

The Fuzzy Duckling is such a cute and classic Golden Book about a duckling taking a walk through the barnyard, counting the various animals as he sees them. I wanted to make a cute painted handprint duck, but Zeke was very much against painting his hand so we opted for this way instead! It turned out really cute and was so simple.

First I traced his hand on a sheet of yellow paper. I made him keep his four fingers together to form the backend of the duck with feathers and his thumb straight up for the neck and head. Then I cut it out for him.

Next I had him paint a paper plate "pond" blue. 

While the paint was still wet, he stuck the duck on the pond. Then I put a dot of glue for him to stick the googly eye on the head.

Then I drew three lines and he placed three yellow feathers on the body of the duck. I cut a small orange rectangle and stuck it on the head for a beak. I think this turned out really cute! 

Check out the other books and arts and crafts in this series:

Birds and Feather Painting

A Tree is Nice and Cork Tree Painting

The Mixed-Up Chameleon and Paper Plate Color Changing Chameleon

Monday, June 27, 2022

Blogging from A to Z - Essentials for Preschool

This is my sixth time going through preschool with my kiddos! It's so hard to believe Zeke will be 4 late this fall. We are doing a very gentle preschool with him this year using The Gentle + Classical Preschool curriculum. I've been going through all of our preschool books, resources, and supplies trying to pare down to what we will use and need the next two years. (I plan to do another preschool year next year, as his birthday is the end of November.)

One thing I know for certain - you don't have to have a preschool curriculum to homeschool preschool. I have done it several times without any written curriculum! However, the season of life I'm in now (homeschooling a 7th and 5th grader and having a newborn in September/October) calls for something already planned out for me. I chose The Gentle + Classical Preschool for many reasons - wonderful book lists, handicraft and activity guide, art and music scheduled in, memorization work, and short lessons are just a few. If you're looking for a preschool curriculum, a few that I've tried or read many good things about are:
  • Before Five in a Row and More Before Five in a Row - both of these programs are amazing! You will read so many good books. The guides provide plenty of discussion and jumping off points, and I always added extra worksheets and activities.
  • ABC Jesus Loves Me - this is a free curriculum for ages 2, 3, 4, and 5 year olds, but you can also purchase a printed version for pretty cheap! I used this with Silas (my now 12 year old) when he was 3 and 4 years old. 
  • My Father's World Voyage of Discovery - we have never used this program, but it looks fantastic. It's a bit more expensive, but you do receive lots of educational toys! We use My Father's World for Kindergarten and it's just terrific. I have no doubt this would be great!
  • The Peaceful Preschool - I didn't finish using this, but it's a wonderful and gentle preschool program for moms who don't want a lot of worksheets. There are plenty of book suggestions, life skills, and fine motor work scheduled it.
  • Heart of Dakota's Little Hands to Heaven - this is a really gentle Bible based curriculum for ages 2-5; tons of games and hands on activities; few worksheets
There are so many more options to choose from! I don't consider a curriculum essential, so I'm going to move on with my list of Essentials for Preschool.

Well-Stocked Art Cabinet

This probably tops my list for any elementary grade level! Having a well-stocked art cabinet will be so handy for homeschooling preschoolers. It's so easy to complete fun projects and hands-on activities when you already have everything you need right there. I keep two tall plastic drawer systems and one smaller one in our laundry room stocked full of supplies. It's not beautiful in the least, but it's tucked out of the way (nobody ever goes in my laundry room you know!) and easily accessible by me and the children. Here are some of the things I keep a supply of year-round:
  • paper plates
  • paper bags
  • stickers of all kids
  • dot stickers in all colors
  • ribbon, yarn, and string
  • craft sticks in all sizes and colors
  • pom poms in multiple sizes and colors
  • clothespins
  • pipe cleaners in all colors
  • wooden dowels and skewers
  • construction paper, cardstock, and printer paper
  • foam and felt sheets
  • googly eyes
  • beads and buttons in many colors and sizes
  • paper brads
  • masking tape and scotch tape
  • hot glue gun and glue sticks
  • dot markers
  • markers, crayons, colored pencils
  • modeling clay and playdough
  • paint and paintbrushes

  • It looks a little messy, but I promise everything is organized!


Puzzles are so fun and versatile - here is a post I wrote recently on the types of puzzles Zeke has worked from ages 1 to 3. Puzzles are great for critical thinking skills, problem solving, fine motor, and focus. We have puzzles that help Zeke learn his shapes, colors, numbers and counting, upper and lowercase numbers, animal names, and more. I like to keep a nice supply of puzzles that we can pull out when Zeke is bored or needs a little bit of quiet time. He works them on his own and sometimes I will sit with him, naming letters or counting objects. 
Zeke loves these 24 piece wooden puzzles from Melissa and Doug.

These two piece puzzles are great for teaching how to do jigsaw puzzles.

Lots of Books

We have so many bookshelves in our homeschool/playroom! Zeke has one shelf just dedicated to his special books, but we also have many other picture books on another shelf. Books are such a great way to teach preschoolers! Zeke has lots of favorites that we read and reread. He has already learned beginning narration skills just from being read aloud to daily. He has learned animal names, letters, numbers, and so many vocabulary words from books. I like to keep plenty of classic books and high quality picture books, but we also have our share of 'twaddle' books - silly books, cheap books, and character books. If you're not sure about which books to stock your library with, there are lots of great lists online! Check your library, too. We have checked out many books that I purchased afterwards because they were so great.
This shelf is dedicated to board books, Before Five in a Row, More Before Five in a Row, and Five in a Row picture books, and some of our other favorite picture books.

Pattern Blocks and Cards

Pattern blocks are a great math tool for elementary children. They are so much fun to play with - I remember being a kid in public school when the teacher pulled out the pattern blocks for us to use! It was so exciting and I always wanted a set at home. Pattern blocks were one of the first homeschool resources I ever purchased! You can do so many things with them - colors, shapes, patterns, building pictures, counting... I printed off and laminated these free alphabet pattern block cards. I had a copy with my older kids but misplaced them over the years. You can also purchase pattern block cards with pictures, numbers, and more!

We love using these cards from Tara West on TPT.


We have wooden blocks, Legos, Duplos, Magnatiles, and linking cubes. All of these blocks are great and can be used for so many things. Wooden blocks are perfect for imaginative play and fine motor skills (building tall towers). Legos and Duplos are also great for fine motor skills (snapping those little blocks together and pulling them apart!). Following directions to build is also a critical thinking skill. Zeke can put his sets together, take them apart, and put them back together again without even thinking about it! And linking cubes are great for counting, patterns, color matching, fine motor skills, and other math skills. Keeping a wide variety of blocks is a great idea, but even if you only have one type you'll be able to do many different activities!

We use linking cubes for many things, even building letters!

We stamped wooden blocks into playdough to see the shapes!


We have lots of counting bears, bugs, and vehicles that work great for so many different activities - sorting by color, sorting by type, patterns, and counting. We also have quite the collection of small plastic animals and dinosaurs that we use for the same activities. It's not necessary to have so many different kinds of counters, but it does keep the activities fresher and newer when you're counting dinosaurs one day, bugs the next, and cars another. It also makes it easy to coordinate with themes if you're doing that. You could always just use dry beans!

These insect counters have been used for so many activities!

We have lots of different small plastic animals, like these dogs.


I don't use flashcards for drill-and-kill activities, but they are really nice to have for hands-on activities. You can lay out alphabet flashcards and have your child put them in alphabetical order, match uppercase to lowercase, or build the letters with blocks or craft sticks or playdough. You can lay out number flashcards and ask your child to place the correct number of counters on each card or put the numbers in order. There are so many games you can play with a really durable set of alphabet and number flashcards!

We use buttons or counting bears for each of the numbers on these simple flashcards from The Peaceful Press.

We use these alphabet matching cards for lots of games!

Fine Motor Tools

Working on fine motor skills is so important, and if you've been reading my blog for long you know that I'm always trying to find new and interesting ways for Zeke to work on these skills. Lacing beads and other items for threading, tweezers and tongs to transferring, and syringes for squeezing are just a few of the items I keep on hand for setting up these activities. You can also use many of the things from your well-stocked art supply for these - pom poms, beads, craft sticks, buttons, and cotton balls are just a few.

These wooden lacing beads are a favorite around here!

Toothpicks and styrofoam blocks make a simple fine motor activity.

Transferring pink water with a syringe!

Of course there are tons of other resources that I don't think are essential for preschool, but are really nice to have on hand. I do think you can homeschool preschool with just this list of essential items, and even less than I've listed! What are your preschool essentials? Is there anything I left off that you would add to this list?

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Friday, June 24, 2022

Week in Review - Birthday, Heat Advisory, and Rodeo


Mercie had another rodeo today. She didn't have her best run, but her time wasn't bad at all - 19.8 (it was a bigger pattern than last time). They knocked a barrel over, so that added 5 seconds to her time so she didn't place at all. After the barrel run, she went with a friend to the Play Day in our town. She got to run barrels, run poles, and do the flags. She placed first in her division (13-17 years old) and won $21. 

Mercie has been working with Dakota, the colt born a few months ago.


I woke up and made a big breakfast (I do this every Sunday for Rod as it's his only day home each week). I also prepped lunch for after church. I made Cornbread Casserole and black eyed peas with bacon, Rod's favorite meal. We also had cake and ice cream for Silas's 12th birthday which is Tuesday. Rod bought Silas a left-handed gun for his birthday. Silas loves to hunt, but we don't have any left-handed guns so it's always awkward for him to shoot. Rod has been looking for one and finally found the perfect gun. He shot his gun after church and is very accurate with it! We watched Old Yeller before going to bed.

Bull riding cake for my bull rider


Today we stayed home all day, which was nice. We woke up early and weeded around the rosebushes I planted by my back porch before the wasps came out. Then Titus spread some more dirt around them and he and Silas watered the garden. We played inside and outside since it's so hot outside. Eli had to work, but he and his friend came home for lunch. Mercie fried chicken, and I made macaroni and cheese and heated up the leftover peas from yesterday. It was so good!

Titus was reading his library book, so Zeke grabbed one too. He said, "Mom, we're reading in our heads!" 


Today was Silas's birthday! Zeke had speech an hour away, so Silas rode with us. After speech, we ate lunch at Waffle House. We ran a few errands in town on the way back through, then Mikaela and Daniel came over for a visit. We ate cupcakes and I cooked Baked Ziti and creamed corn for supper as that is what Silas requested for his birthday dinner. Eli had to work all day and didn't get home until 8:00. Titus had TKD, so I left Zeke with Mercie and Silas while I took him. We watched Savage Sam (well, I watched most of it before Zeke and I went to bed!). 
Chocolate chip waffles!

Zeke set up this picnic with Daniel in the living room all on his own!


We had to meet Mercie's new teacher at Cornerstone this morning and pick up an Algebra 1 book for her to work through this summer. Then we ran into the library and the kids got some new books to read. They aren't reading as quickly as I'd hoped (one book a week), but they're starting to pick it up. Mercie is into mysteries right now, and Silas picked up a mystery book as well. Titus chose a Boxcar Children book, and so far he is enjoying it and able to stay focused. He finally earned his first dollar last week for finishing The Runaway Racehorse
The heat just drains the energy from all of us.

We ran a few more errands in town and then picked up fried chicken for lunch. Eli called and he and Landyn were coming home for lunch from work. We spent a little time outside, but we were under a heat advisory so we mostly spent the day indoors.


We stayed home again most of the day. It was super hot. Eli had a basketball summer tournament an hour away and they won both games. He had 22 points in the second game - he made six 3-pointers, a mid-range shot, and two free throws. Titus had TKD in the evening and I ran to get a few groceries while he was in there. One of Mercie's friends came over and they rode horses and practice barrels for a few hours. 

Summer School

The boys worked in their daily notebooks every day this week. I'm only having them do four days a week of school, and it takes them around 30-45 minutes. I think they're getting the hang on the daily notebooks. We worked in our Old Testament lapbook this week - we did the mini books for Noah's Ark, Tower of Babel, and Abraham and Isaac. They also wrote in the Old Testament Tribune - a newspaper from Bible times. Reading their take on the stories in reporter form is really fun! It's a great way to sneak in some creative writing, too. Titus is getting pretty fast on his 3's and 4's math facts just from writing them daily. And it is keeping us from forgetting to do anything! I think I may start one for Mercie, too. 


I have been going through our school books from last year, trying to purge! I have listed a few things on Ebay and sold one thing already - our set of Rod and Staff grammar books for level 7. Zeke's preschool curriculum came in so I have been putting things in binders and folders and trying to see what books we have and what books I need to order. I have a long way to go on this project, but I want to get it all finished before I press "order" on the boy's curriculum. Otherwise I'll have boxes and boxes and nowhere to put anything! 
Zeke tested out a new Busy Bag today. It's listed in my shop - click the picture in the sidebar!

Button Patterns

On the Blog

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Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Preschool Picture Books & Art - The Mixed Up Chameleon & Paper Plate Craft

This is one of our favorite Eric Carle books, but honestly they're all so fun to read! I saw this paper plate color-changing chameleon craft and I knew we had to recreate it.

You need two paper plates, a paper fastener, paint, and a print out of a chameleon to trace. I simply searched for and found a basic chameleon coloring page and made it smaller when I printed it.

I had Zeke paint the paper plate (he actually painted two because he was enjoying it so much) with several different colors. He went all out and painted the entire plate - no white space left!

While he was painting, I was tracing the chameleon onto another paper plate. Then I cut the chameleon shape out using scissors. It would probably have been easier to use an Exacto knife, but I didn't have one. This was the hardest part of this activity, and it's not perfect! I left a little place to glue a googly eye on the chameleon!

We waited until the next morning to attach the white paper plate with the cut-out chameleon onto the painted paper plate. Then Zeke glued on a googly eye. When we spin the top plate around, the chameleon changes colors! 

This was a fun craft to do and a great go-along for the book The Mixed Up Chameleon

Check out the other posts in this series!

Birds and Feather Painting

A Tree is Nice and Cork Tree Painting