Since we started homeschooling, I have become somewhat discouraged by the fact that I seem to have such small amounts of actual “schooling” time. On the best of days, where we cover many subjects, it only takes about an hour and a half to two hours of our day. Also, I was having some difficulty teaching because M could do very little, so I would often put her in front of a pile of toys in the playroom or pop in a Veggie Tales so I could work with JR on reading. However, knowing she was watching Veggie Tales would distract JR, so he couldn’t focus on his reading. Then, after lessons, the kids get bored, often wind up watching Veggie Tales, and so I began researching new ways to do this homeschool thing. I began learning more about Montessori schooling, and have learned to appreciate what it is about–particularly for younger children. What little I know of it is this: you basically give children activities that involve one or more of their 5 senses, instruct them how to do it, then allow them to figure it out for themselves. In the process, they learn focus, independent play, coordination, and a number of other skills (depends on the activity). Now, I must mention here that I do not consider the Montessori method to fit with Biblical principal in some of its practice, and therefore, it will never be the basis of our curriculum. However, I think some of the activities involved can be very beneficial. So, since I am not very creative myself, so I decided to duplicate a few items to save some money, and unfortunately must confess I did have to settle for plastic in some cases. Anyway, today was a huge success, and the kids LOVED their new activities.

Sorting Activity: They really enjoyed the challenge of this activity. You simply need a bowl full of items to sort (i.e. coins, stones, marbles, toys, etc.) and a container to sort them in. I found these “non-choke hazard” v-shaped glass stones in the Wal-mart craft section, and got a couple of packs of childs bracelets and rings. You can change the activity by changing the item they sort or how they sort (color, size, shape, etc.). You can increase the challenge (and thereby, the skill lesson inadvertently learned) by not allowing the use of hands for sorting. Use an age-appropriate tool such as tongs, bag clips, or chop sticks.

Measuring activity: Of the things we did today, this was no doubt the favorite. You just need a tray a couple of inches deep, a couple bags of split peas, lentils, decorative sand, or aquarium rocks, etc. Then put a few extra kitchen items and measuring tools in the tray. I used a small plastic measuring cup, a tall 1/2 cup measuring glass, measuring spoons, a funnel, and a formula scooper. I found the split peas sometimes stick in the funnel, so I also added a bamboo chopstick to help stir the peas through when necessary. I think they would play with this for hours if I let them. Although they are too young for learning much about measurements, they are already learning the basics–it takes x number of formula scoops to fill the tablespoon, x number of teaspoons to fill the funnel, x number of funnels to fill the glass, etc. They also learn hand-eye coordination for pouring and preventing peas from coming out of the tray.

We also did some painting today. I had the kids paint some clothes pins for an activity I will discuss when it is completed, as well as their Halloween pumpkins.

You can tell the kids are still into the “mixing colors” phase! I drew these pretty little pumpkin faces for them to paint, and they just covered them up with various shades of mostly gray. What appears to be a painted face on the one is just my bit of fun when M finished her pumpkin.

I love homeschooling! You just have to learn how to assign a category to all your activities. So we can play in split peas and call it “Math” and paint pumpkins and call it “Art”! Isn’t that fun?!

I have pretty much decided to take a break from JR’s computer phonics for a while. He advanced pretty quickly, and he isn’t quite ready for the next stage. So, probably once a week or so, I will have him review a previous lesson, but otherwise, we are going to just have a lot of read-aloud time in his Bob books. We also pulled out the United States puzzle map and JR learned a new state. He now knows each state he has lived in, the states his relatives live in, plus one.

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