Window Shopping, with a contest

This post seems applicable since I recently posted about ‘Kid Powered Toys’ (see two posts down).  Another site is running a give-away in combination with Bella Luna Toys Check out these links to see some awesome toys that are all ‘kid powered’, everything you find with be well made and beautiful as well.  If the site just has too much to look through in one sitting check out my favorites!

If I were to list my top choices based on what we have, love and use daily it would be:

Lyra Color Giants
tree blocks
doll sling

If it were based on what I want now that I’ve looked through the catalog it would be:
Build a Tree House and Furniture
Knight’s Tent and Cushion
fish pond by Sarah’s Silks

If I were to base the list off what I feel I ‘need’ right now:

Another set of Lyra Color Giants
Play clips
needle felting kits

Happy Window Shopping!

We’ll miss you Great Grandma Lucie!

Great Grandma Lucie Ingeborg Boecker, long time Ridgecrest CA resident, passed away on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2010. She was 83.

Lucie was born Dec. 18, 1926, in Berlin, Germany, and moved to California in 1961. She spent many years volunteering in the community as a Pink Lady at Ridgecrest Regional Hospital. She was also involved with the Eastern Star and White Shrine Organizations in Ridgecrest.

Kid Powered Toys!

Something I truly love is an afternoon listening to the kids play games from their own imagination, especially when their imagination is bursting with ideas from our recent field trips, books and learning together.  Back in August of 2008 I was inspired by some ‘habitat boxes’ that were at an exhibit at our local zoo.  I took detailed pictures and vowed to make this for our family- which ended up being 7 boxes so I could gift them to the other families in my home school group as well.  That box combined with a good set of play silks are about the best kinds of toys available for children of all ages (habitat box has some items that would need to be held out until a child is past the age of eating the contents).  Here are some of the highlights from the past few weeks of how my kids have used these ‘toys’ plus their own ideas!

  • mini marshmallows with wood skewers and a tiny battery operated tealight provided many giggles and fun for 3 and 4 yr old friends ‘roasting marshmallows’ over their campfire (and the older kids wanted in on the fun too!)
  • Yellow play silks worked as a sandy desert and blue silks were used to make the Mediterranean sea and the Nile River to go with their Egypt Playmobil.  Some of the yellow play silks were on occassion waved over the whole scene to create sand storms as well as used to cover some artifacts for the archeologist playmobil men to find.
  • The kids used the piano bench to be the pier in Seattle and their legos to build the Seattle Aquarium.  Pieces of the habitat box were used in combination with play silks and some under the sea Playmobil to create the underwater scenes (under the pier).  Kelp forest silks are hanging under the pier, yellow silks for sand bottom habitats and rocks form rocky bottom habitats…all kinds of fun!

The Caterpillar

We are enjoying our ‘First Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind’.  In particular the kids are enjoying the poems they are memorizing.  Here’s a look back at the first poem they learned, ‘The Caterpillar’.  Elias is showing you his clay rendition of the poem which he made the first day when they were introduced to the poem (mom reads aloud 3 times slowly and clearly).  Hannah’s video is the last day (a week later) when they had learned the poem in its entirety.  Note: yes, my kids are home schooled and yet my daughter thinks uniforms are really cool and therefore likes to ‘dress up’ for school on occassion.

Click here for Hannah’s Video

A look into our school room (and Workbox System )

We have a room off the kitchen that is our ‘school room’. Standing at the door of this room I am looking at Elias and Hannah’s shared desk.

This room used be used as a toy/play room but all toys in the house have been sorted into like boxes and labeled and moved to a finished shed that is detached from this room (out the back door). We now rotate whatever play things are in the house and this ‘library toy system’ works very well for us. That freed up this room to be an open space for school learning. That transition is why it has taken me 6months to actually start the workbox system once I learned about it and decided it would be a good fit for us. You can see Elias’ set of boxes there beside the table in the back of the picture.






Here you see Hannah’s boxes all set up. I chose an adjustable shoe rack and boxes purchased via The Container Store and the stick on numbers and such are direct from Sue’s website, its the 2 student starter kit which is not expensive and saved me valuable time and money because I didn’t have to put it together Workbox System Starter Kit (2 Child)

Elias’ boxes have the same assignments but in a different order. My kids work differently and so I put their assignments in an order that I think they will work best with. I have more active and get-up-out-of-your-chair assignments put in boxes between writing assignments and such for my son because I know he will be happier and do better at his sit down assignments when he’s had some movement in between. Also they work at different speeds, so again- I set up in a way that makes sense to me even if at the end of the day they have done the same work.

Hannah’s boxes have in them (or had, she had started box 1 already):

box 1- Morning chore/routine chart (I believe I have a downloadable version of this on my blog)
2- Bible (we are listening to an audio version I have on CD using the reading schedule from my motivated mom’s planner)
3- journal with assignment written on strip of paper
4- scale drawing picture of a bird (I made this worksheet to reinforce the lesson we had yesterday in ECC about maps and scale. Last time we started ECC I had them map a room to scale and I didn’t feel like having them do it again, this is a less intense and fun shorter refresher type lesson to understand scale)
5- First Language Lessons Peace Hill Press Store
6- Writing with Ease (same link, one of my big goals for this year for the kids are their writing skills which is why I have these. I integrated these two programs last week before I re pulled out ECC)
7-Exercise worksheet (another worksheet I made which is great to put in the line up between a lot of writing work before I ask them to do math or something)
8-Math U See (MFW suggests using Singapore to add on to their curriculum once you get past K and 1st, when math is integrated into the program. I felt like their integrated in math was totally fine but once you get to older math and they ‘outsource’ I went to MUS. I tried Singapore but I am not a fan of that program in the slightest, I’ve found MUS to be a much better fit for my goals for my kids)
9-letter writing to their friend in Spain (my journal assignment above, usually written on a sticky note or strip of paper in their journal, varies from writing prompts Write Source – Writing Topics to memorization copywork, to response prayers to our bible listening, to what I assigned today which was a response letter to a friend in Spain that wrote to them this week. So in box 3 they wrote a letter, when they hit box 9 they bring me their journal and I help them get that draft into a final form and help them get out stationary and write it up so we can mail it. I’ve at times used thank you notes and such as journal assignments. Usually my journal assignments are a time I don’t correct work, its a creative writing time and I just let it be whatever it is and however it comes out of them….just depends)
10- piano (timer is in box already set for 30mins, notebook has book names and page numbers for assignments they need to practice during their 30mins, when their timer is up they can call me in to the piano to try to pass songs if they feel they are ready)
11- chapter book (again 30min timer and this is for pleasure reading, I don’t quiz them on what they read or ask them to read aloud- its just for their enjoyment)
12- I have this one turned around because we don’t need it for today

Things that I have put in boxes that weren’t in there today include:

Daily Oral Language
Teacher’s Outlet – Carson-Dellosa: Daily Oral Language

Book Basket (basket full of library books for the kids to browse that are on the topic of learning we are focusing, this is always available but at times I will put a sticky note in a box with a timer that says look at books in the book basket for 20mins and when the timer is up come and tell me about something you learned/thought was cool)

Living World (science being used right now with MFW ECC, I grouped the weeks reading assignments into one sitting the other day which worked well for this week and I will do some weeks when I feel appropriate)

Maps and Globes (used it the same way as Living world this week)

Window on the World (ditto to last two for this week, may be different in future weeks as to how I split up the assignments on any given day/week)

board games (if it fits in the box I’ll put it there, if not I’ll set it next to the racks with a sticky note in the box)

Picture crosswords – Online Store


play dough (not often by itself but I’ll combine it in a box when appropriate, like once last week I had a reading passage with the kids and so I had clay in the box for them to work with while they listened and they LOVED this)


30min timer with a sticky note that says ‘Webkinz’ or ‘BrainPOP’ (sometimes free time and sometimes with a specific thing I want them to look up and watch appropriate videos and then come tell me about) BrainPOP – Animated Educational Site for Kids – Science, Social Studies, English, Math, Arts & Music, Health, and Technology

sewing free time or specific project time (they have their own sewing machine set up in a different room for this)


Commander Mark drawing program

Online Spanish (available through our library)

Meanwhile this is Bayus’ spot that he chooses to inhabit intermittently through the day (he’s 4, 5 in April). I don’t change out his 6 shelves every day but I do try to mix some of them up every few days, he loves ‘doing school’ and will pull out one tray with an activity out at a time. At the moment this picture was taken the shelves are kind of messy and there is too much on top of his table- ideally the top is clear and each shelf has one tray with an activity each on it.








And this is my spot where I’m at right now. I sit here working on my own stuff and drinking tea with occassional times where I get up to do some house chores or check in on their work or help them with something that you saw in the top picture will have a tag that says ‘work with mom’.

I have a form I made myself that I’m trying out for next week where I have pre-planned the workboxes. I looked at the weekly assignment chart in the ECC teachers manual and just plugged assignments into boxes in incremenets that made sense to me and left off stuff that I’m covering in a different way (like we have our own math and such). I don’t do ECC exactly,  its a back bone. I use it as a form and a direction in which we are going but I give myself plenty of freedom to use what I feel is appropriate and needed and leave the rest (one of the perks of being the ‘teacher’). I give myself permission to read a bunch from one book one day rather than read 2 pages from it all 5 days of the week….or split one assignment into smaller chunks if I feel it can/should be…..or completely replace their suggested assignment with something else that I feel will reinforce the same idea but inspires me more. I’d say 3-4 boxes were typically used this week for MFW ECC specific assignments.

PS- for anyone that doesn’t know, ‘MFW’ stands for My Father’s World My Father’s World – Homeschool and Christian School Curriculum and ‘ECC’ stands for their curriculum you can buy called ‘Exploring Countries and Cultures’

Also one other thing to mention: Had I seen this type of box system to use with the workbox system ideas I would have absolutely done it.

Daily Thoughts on my Tots….: Workboxes

Here’s a link to the chore charts.

chores | LifeVentures

I love that when my kids ‘start their day’ they are dressed, fed, teeth brushed, pets fed, hair brushed, bedroom clean and ready to go!

Other information:

In the picture that shows ‘my station’ you can see my home school planner open beside my laptop. This is the one I designed and sold copies of this past summer.

Bayus’ assignments can be all kinds of things, here’s an example
Feeling brilliant today… | LifeVentures

Right now we have some new years goals as a family which have resulted in me making the chore charts now reversible. Once they finish their morning chores they flip it over (they put them on the fridge) and work on their ‘healthy family goals’ for the day (flipping it back over in the evening when its time to do evening chores). The healthy goals include things like filling a water glass that they set at their spot at the desk/table and I fill small glass bowls with things like baby carrots, sugar snap peas and clementine wedges.

Oooh another note to add- the sliding glass door between the kitchen and the back room is my ‘white board’. Dry erase markers write on it wonderfully and wipe off easily. I have a suction cup caddy thing from the shower section of a store that sticks to the door and holds a few pens and the eraser. I have a few to do list items there that are right behind my chair for me (and my phone is always at my station and I can turn around and put notes up when I get a call I need to write a note about) and the other door and other side of the doors I can use throughout the day as needed when I need to put something visual up for the kids. Also the blue lines you see in that image is blue painters tape, I love that stuff and have about a million uses for it because it doesn’t leave a residue on anything. In this picture I’m using it on the back side of the door to create straight lines to write on on the opposite side of the door