Ideas for homeschooling during Quarantine

Like most parents in California, I was not expecting to have to homeschool my child because of the COVID-19 Pandemic. I wanted her to remain in school- I was enjoying finally having some me time to get back to my pre-child weight, declutter the house, and finally return to the work force. But, it happened, unexpectedly.

We recently moved to Northern California, and because of that, I was so ready for this. We had to stay in corporate housing for a month, so we tried online homeschooling to lessen the impact of the move. Each city here seems to have their own school district, so we decided to keep my first grader home until we could find a permanent school.

Now, three months later, we are ready to homeschool again. I am not making the same mistake that I made when we enrolled her in an online homeschool. Instead, I am letting the child lead, or something like that. This is the schedule:

We painted our door with magnetic, and chalkboard paint to create a learning hub. I wrote the schedule down and wanted to erase it immediately to have more space to draw and add vocabulary, but I left it and added the actual schedule on the sides. I’m glad I didn’t erase it. Keeping it up really helps remind me to follow daily plans. It’s not meant to be a ridged schedule. We deviated from it on the first day and end the day at 4 p.m. instead of at 2.30 p.m. Everyday the schedule moves around, subjects change places yet we still do most of them because it’s up on the board. We still haven’t had a chance to incorporate STEM in it’s full sense, though. We only get to complete the science and math portion of it. Technology and Engineering, you keep evading us!

The following pictures are the resources we use for math, English, and Geography:

I wish I could tell you this is easy, it’s not. I love every minute of it, most of the time, but it’s draining. It’s difficult to maintain order when you’re doing worksheets for Math, and English. Having the chalkboard really helps, because my kid can go up and do some work on the board instead of on their usual worksheet. That’s the fun part. The lack of attention and interest is the worst part. The thing that helped with attention was to threaten to remove recess. I’m usually a positive parenting follower, where kids learn from natural consequences. Just this once I’m keeping this threat in my side pocket to use only for emergencies.

Manipulative’s really help to lessen the struggle of math. I’m not saying to go out and buy a ton of tiny blocks or toys, just use what you have at home. If you have cotton balls, q-tips, legos, anything that is small and can be counted to 100 or more is perfect.

If you want to purchase some items, I have a few affiliate links to share at the end of this blog that I can recommend from personal experience.

For English: we journal, use a grammar book, and a reading comprehension book. This Wednesday my little did not want to work at all. During lunch, she set up her stuffed toys around her table and served them each a meal. So, instead of getting her workbooks out, I brought out a few sheets with poems from Robert Louis Stevenson, which I got from Here. I gave a sheet to an owl, Eevee (Pokémon), myself and my kiddie. She read poems for each animal (in their respective voices) and for herself too. She ended up reading six poems at the end of our lunch. I also read, because if you don’t join in, it’s not as fun. Maintaining a laid back attitude really helps with the day. Yes, it’s good to finish the worksheets, but, literature is also part of English. So, let it go sometimes, and find different ways to talk about grammar or spelling throughout the day. For example: While playing chess, my kiddie was able to retrieve a second Queen. I said, “that’s a plural noun! What do you call them?” And she responded with, “Queens!” You can incorporate English anytime this way.

I am a fluent Spanish speaker, this doesn’t mean I’m a good Spanish speaker, or that I have taught my 6 year old any Spanish. My husband and I primarily speak English to each other, so we haven’t really been immersing ourselves, or our daughter in this second language. During this lockdown, I am taking advantage of this learning period, and I am including Spanish lessons in the day. I’m using music and a few books to help teach Spanish. We found a good album on google play: Con Cosmo Uno. The songs are catchy, and easy to remember. My little kept singing the song even after school. If you know a second language, try to incorporate it now. I’m sure you’re not like me and haven’t waited until this very moment to teach it! But, if so, look for videos on YouTube, or even songs from iTunes or Googleplay that sing your second language.

For Geography we purchased these. Every birthday we kept collecting a continent or country, we even found the Asian country puzzle on Etsy! I asked my kid what Continent she wanted to study this week, and she chose Asia. With this puzzle, we take the country we are focusing on out of the puzzle and trace it. Then we use a pin to poke the outline and use it as a lovely window decoration. I took advantage and taught history while also teaching geography. I read through the Encyclopedia of History and found interesting people, facts and terms to talk about, and wrote them down on the chalkboard. We will keep doing that for the rest of the week and will change to a different continent or country the following week. I also used Trillium resources for geography. This is one of my favorite lesson plans to work on.

Science is so fun, too! It is one of the best subjects. I’m a big fan of math, and geography, but science is really the best kid teaching subject of all. I use a ton of activities for science, but for these lessons I am using The good and the Beatuiful science PDFs. I purchased the Space PDF and printed out the lessons. It took us three days to finish the first lesson, only because I accidentally put it close to the end of the day and we were so pooped by 3 p.m. we really don’t want to do much. It’s so easy to follow along, the lessons are short and sweet, they do have scripture, so if that is a problem, there are also other space lessons on the website Teachers Pay Teachers. We will work on space and switch from that to The Good and the Beautiful’s Kingdoms PDF. I’ll post more blogs about the science projects we do in the future.

Art class is usually just painting, or watching the new Mo Williams lunch hour which you can find here. We love his hilarious books, and while this might not be the best for children under 3, it’s so awesome for my 6 year old. We had to pause it to do the drawings, and sometimes we rewind to listen to MO’s funny commentary twice. Mo is so interesting and funny!

We haven’t sectioned off PE, because we do activities during recess and lunch. We have been lacking in the 4 hour of outside playtime so our days are longer then what I would like. If anybody has any resources that can help with this, please let me know in the comments.

The previous links were not affiliate links, I do not profit from the links that I posted.

If you click on the following, I will get a small percentage from the purchase. Thank you for doing so, if you purchased it from Amazon. These are the links: Montessori Multiplication Bead, Atlas, Grammar and Punctuation. I hope they are useful if you did purchase the items. We love them!

Experiencing this quarantine feels as if though we are living in the 1950’s to me. It also feels like I’m living in a Ray Bradbury book or short story, but it’s necessary and I wish everybody out there stays safe and healthy. I hope my resources help out in some ways during this tough time and that you can find a good schedule for your littles.

Reducing waste

This year, I vow to reduce my plastic consumption. I’ve always been mindful of plastic waste since I was a little girl because of school and The Earth Day Special movie. I was really impacted by it when I visited the Arches National park in Utah and witnessed a ton of plastic bottles dumped at the bottom of Delicate Arch.

Its disheartening to view pollution anywhere, but I never expect to see it in nature. Hopefully, we are all aware that there is a ton of plastic in the ocean, with no end in sight. We, as individuals, need to take a stand and advocate for more sustainable products and packaging.

These are a few of my strategies so far(they are not extensive or exhaustive, but I’m working on it!):

  • Make my own deodorant, I use this site. I try to buy baking soda with no ammonia. You can find it at Sprouts.
  • I go to lush for the shampoo and conditioner:
  • I also try to visit Farmer Markets and bring my own bag.
  • Make your own soap
  • Use coconut oil as lotion, or other items that come in glass or can be transferred to reusable jars.
  • Started buying yogurt from a jar. Nounos creamery is delicious!

I have not gone to Whole Foods to attempt to use my own mason jars to pick up the bulk bin items to reduce plastic waste. I will create a new blog once I do! I’m sure they will be game. I will also try that at Sprouts!

There is one issue with the plastic consumption problem: Instacart. If you have not heard of Instacart, it is a personal shopping company that delivers grocery items to your home. We just tried the service this year and I have not figured out how to choose paper, instead of plastic, for the bags. So, I have a ton of plastic bags that I use as trash can liners.

We have not started composting, which I think will be the next move after I have tackled all of the other plastic issues.

I hope this post was helpful and will also modivate you to reduce, reuse and recycle!

Please feel free to comment on your tips and tricks.

Valentines Day Craft

Valentine’s Day is one of my favorite holiday’s. Not because of all of the delicious and incredibly tasty chocolate (although that helps)- it’s because of all the LOVE!

The holiday is commercialized and over the top anywhere you go, but if you remember the reason why it all began (follow link to my previous post here) and embrace the giving aspect of the Holiday, you will end up celebrating the entire month of February!

Not only does the month celebrate Love, it’s also the month to celebrate Black History Month! Another reason to be excited about this amazing MONTH! People who are born this month are so lucky!

The best way to show you care, on this spectacular month, is by making a heart felt craft. My representation of this is a Heart-felt-craft:

When I visited lakeshore, I purchased a bag of chalkpaper valentines, and thought, “I can make these a hundred times better!”

Being an avid Michaels shopper, I knew they had tons of little wooden shapes and looked for the hearts! Sorry shoppers, I took them all! They’re not very expensive, and there were not really that many. I wish they had 100! (Micheals, if youre reading this: stock up!). I also purchased red felt sheets and chalkboard spray paint. I love crafting!

These hearts are so easy to make! Just be sure to cover your surface very well, because I didnt, and now there is splattered paint all over my patio table!

I cut out felt for the hearts and added a little chalk to the gift. Presto change-o, Valentine gifts are done and ready for the big day.

If you own a cricut, use that, my hearts are pretty deformed, but those little felt erasers are so cute!

Write messages of love daily to your loved one to make this month extra special!

If you decide to make one or a hundred, I hope you have as much fun as I did making these adorable tiny hearts and that the recipient enjoys writing on them. Let me know if you tried this or if you’ve made any Valentine gifts yourself.

If you dont get a chance to go to Michaels, Joannes, or Hobby Lobby here is an affiliate link for wooden hearts:

2-Inch Wood Heart 100pcs Blank Unfinished Wooden Slices Discs Cutout Pieces Wedding Guestbook Signin Party Guest Greetings DIY Crafts Projects

Combining Art Media with Literature

Recently on facebook, a viral post popped up that caught my attention. It showed children painting on a vertical easel made from a inverted table and plastic wrap. I tried it instantly! And not only did I love it, but, we found new creative artistic avenues while reading A House for Hermit crab and The Foolish Tortoise.

I turned our IKEA latt table over and wrapped the plastic wrap all around the legs, it was a little challenging, but not too much. I just hooked the first end to a leg and then continued to circle around the table. Here is our reproduction:

When painting we did not imitate Eric Carle’s figures, instead we focused on revisiting horizontal and vertical.

The first sheet in a House for Hermit Crab has shades of green and blue and a scribble going across the page. We repeated this same pattern, but on the plastic wrap. We used sponges to paint it on the wrap, and the ends of our paint brushes to make swirls horizontally across. Here is the first attempt:

Then we practiced Vertical by imitating the first sheet in The Foolish Tortoise. That page had light green and green with vertical squiggles. Here is that one:

I asked my toddler if she could pronounce vertical and horizontal while we painting.

We also discussed the words: consent, permission and respect with A House for Hermit Crab. Every time the crab asked a sea creature a question I would reinforce each term and explain it to my child. she was pretty annyoed and said, “I know, you said it last time.” We’ve read the book more than once.

Let me know in the comments if you practiced this or if you found different extensions for the books.

The books can be purchased by clicking on the images: (Affiliate links)

Storing 3 Part Cards

After buying a laminator, I went crazy looking for printables to laminate. The hard part was finding a way to organize and categorize each printed item. 

Originally, I used two folders to keep all of my Spanish and English cards. That wasn’t as efficient as it seemed at the time.

This is one of the folders:

It’s a disaster.

I visited the 99 cents store and found a small bin. I cut colored cardstock into filing seperators and sectioned off my laminated cards. 

This makes it easier for me to view and access the laminated cards. 

For the 3 part cards that have matching toobs, I put them in zip lock bags and stuffed them in a bin. 

The instrument printables are from Imagine Our Life.

Let me know if you try this and if it works for you leave a note in the comments. 

St. Valentine History for Toddlers

Valentines day is in a few days!

I always look forward to teaching my toddler about love, kindness and generosity. In February it’s especially easy to do because, Valentine’s Day epitomizes altruism.  Although people complain that the holiday has become too comercialized, the history behind it makes it one of my favorite Holidays.
Teaching history to people is not easy. The first time I took history in college I ended up with drool on my desk. Even though that happened, I never gave up on history because I knew it was interesting, and i had a great high school teacher. The history lessons you get in high school are sensored and compact (BORING). I was only interested in history because of Mr. Davis and his flamboyant stories of historical figures. Although, I had respect for history lessons I  would never go out of my way to find books, or even watch the history channel. Luckily for me, I took a western civilization course in college. That teacher rocked it!  I wish I knew how he did it, but history is now so interesting. I dont want my toddler to have to wait until she’s 20-something to love history. The following is an example of how to introduce a little St. Valentine history to toddlers:

If you’ve never heard of St. Valentine’s history click here. St. Valentine was valiant, brave, and lived at the end of the third century A.D.  Because toddlers do not fully understand the concept of time, using an hour glass while melting  ice can help explain events a little better.I used a heart shaped silicone mold to make my ice. While this does not explain the concept of A.D. Versus B.C, it will give some idea of time passing by. This is how I did it:

Here is the picture of the ice and hour glass. This particular hourglass takes 3 minutes to spill it’s sand.

 I used a silicone heart mold for the ice. You could add red water color paint if you’d like.

Here is the partial melted ice:

I used a sheet to create a time line, and used a glitter red crayon to draw the time line:

It took 50 minutes for the ice to melt. My toddler was getting a little restless. At 24 minutes I brought out an orca, because she wanted to put the dolphin in the ice. I let her know orcas prefer the colder weather, while the dolphins do not. She didnt care. We left them both in the small container. I also brought out a penguin book:

Affiliate link: Little Penguin (Look at Me Books)

It took 50 minutes for the ice to melt! We talked about past, present, and future with the time line. This will not make your toddler instantly remember minutes, and time, but it helps explain the concept. My toddler wanted to do this again the following day.

To teach about St. Valentine I created a felt puppet:

I chose this representation of St. Valentine because we have this book (affiliate link):

Affiliate link:Saint Valentine

I sewed the finger puppet, and cut the arms and beard:

I used my favorite glue:

Affiliate Link: Beacon Fabri-Tac Permanent Adhesive, 4-Ounce

I did sew the arms on because, while the glue is very strong, I wanted a sturdier hold for those arms, just in case they were going to move once I handed the puppet over to my toddler. I used a pen to draw the face on St. Valentine.

The puppet can be used when reading the book, or just when explaining the story. Here is the story I used:
“Once upon a time, in the past, there was a priest who went against an oppressive King. The subjects of the King who followed a certain faith were banned from marriage. They could not be friends forever. Priest Valentine would secretly marry these friends so that they could be together forever and continue to follow their beliefs.”
You could use animals, blocks, or Q and U for the “friends”.

I also made this song (happy birthday song):

Happy Valentine’s Day to you.

Happy Valentine’s Day to you.

Because, he married couples in secret,

Happy Valentine’s Day to you.

I hope these activities help you and your children celebrate Valentine’s day and helps your toddler become a fan of history.

Felt sheet

When my toddler was 2, I found out about felt story books and fell in love. I wish I knew about these when I was pregnant, I would have made a ton! Now I only have time to make one sheet every three months!

I’m attempting to make a calendar felt book, which I will post later this month. Today, I finished this wonderful bath and shower felt sheet.

I got the idea after I found checkered felt at Micheals. I didn’t use a pattern and instead cut everything by hand. I don’t mind that it’s uneven, or that I didn’t finish sewing the right side of the curtain. I can go on and on with the mistakes, but I’ll just enjoy the completed work now. 

I’m not a seamstress, I just know how to sew a very good uneven line. I also do not own a sewing machine (I don’t even know how to use one!). If you’re the same, and it hinders you from making anything for your toddler, I really encourage you to start with a felt sheet. I’ll post my current felt book soon, but this post is all about this single sheet. Here go the details:

First, I cut a checkered sheet in half and sewed them to a white felt sheet. I felt the checkered sheet looked like tile and used it appropriately.

For the bath I folded as white felt sheet in half and cut it to represent one. Here:

I sewed the sides and then I sewed the bath tub to the sheet. I made sure to leave the top flap free:

Originally, I was going to permanently sew the blue felt onto the bath, but when my toddler played with it she placed the “water” down the drain. Instead, I sewed just the edge of the felt piece so it could move and go down the “drain”:

The shower was made with a single straight-cut piece of gray felt that I folded at the top to turn into a shower. The running water was a small piece of light blue felt that I shredded with scissors to appear like running water. One of the pieces has already been cut off. There were three running “streams”. 

I was making capes for my toddler and had left over satin(?) material and decided to use it for the curtain. I had no idea what I was going to use for the curtain rod. I was thinking maybe a metal piece. This morning I decided to use a straw. Because, I’m a bad seamstress I sewed the curtain too tight and now it only moves half way! Here is the straw detail:

My toddler tried to pour actual water in the bath, but because it was water-color blue, I let her know it would stain the felt. You can see a few drops of the water on this felt sheet. I don’t feel bad about being strict with that, I feel she needs to respect her toys.

I wish I had more time to complete tons of sheets of felt that are effectively engaging for my toddler. Right now, I have to settle for one felt sheet every few months. 
If you have any tips on how to fix the curtain issue, I would appreciate it. Leave the tips in the comments if you’ve got them!