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The Birthday Game

Today, I wanted to share about a fun, rainy-day game we play.  We call it “The Birthday Game.”  It’s a fun game because it’s very versatile and uses things that you already have.

The game got started when we were playing with a foam puzzle like this one:

The boys love to make them into a box.  So I started taking the top off and adding a small toy inside, and then the exchange goes something like this (it’s kind of like a knock-knock joke in that the exchange/responses are always the same):

Me: I have a surprise for you;
Child: For me?
Me: Yep :)
Child: What is it?
Me: Open it and see.

And then they open it and gasp (they get so excited, you’d think it was a “real” present! lol)….”Oh wow, it’s________” (Francesco, Lighning, buzz action figure, dinosaur toy…basically whatever would fit in our small box.)

This is also a great game to play on a long drive.  I brought our foam puzzle pieces and some small toys.  They each made a box in their seats and handed them up to the front and I filled their boxes with surprises…over, and over, and over!

Our game has grown and now we use a gift bag, and we’ve used it for homeschooling as well.  Here are some ideas:

-Alphabet birthday (fill a gift bag with toys/snacks that start with a particular letter)
-Number birthday (put a certain number of items in the bag)
-Community birthday (fill gift bag w/ toys related to jobs throughout community–fire fighter, police, ambulance, etc.)
-Color Birthday (fill bag with items of a certain color)
-Book time
-Nature Items

The possibilities are endless, and you can change it based on whatever you’re learning.

My boys enjoy this game so much that they now play it completely independently, filling bags for one another.

Here is a little video of a recent “Birthday Game” where Caeden prepared Logan a movie birthday.

Does your family have any fun or silly made up games?



Field Trip!

Yesterday was a fun day for us.  Daddy has been picking up acorns for work (He is a forest ranger, and one of his many tasks is to gather seeds for the state tree nursery).  So, yesterday we spent the morning helping him gather acorns.  We made it into a lesson about nature and trees, and the boys had a blast.  Please forgive the poor picture quality.  I think my camera was on a weird setting for part of them.

Here is what we spent the morning gathering :)

Logan, hard at work!  Someone gave us that halloween bucket last year, but we don’t celebrate halloween, so it became an outside play bucket.  Now, it’s an acorn gathering bucket.  He had so much fun filling it up, but mostly asking mom and dad to fill it up for him so he could dump it into the big acorn holder.

And of course, daddy was hard at work the whole time gathering acorns as well.

Caeden was so excited.  He woke up yesterday and said, “I have to get my work clothes on, because we’re going to work today.” Apparently, these are his work clothes:

Even mom was picking up acorns:

(Yes, I did really just post that awful picture of myself…see, all about authentic around here! lol)

And, we had some fun too:

The boys really enjoyed getting to “go to work with daddy” and we got to learn about the fall trees, and acorns and white oak.  We also learned that acorns can be really good math manipulatives :)

I wish I had taken a picture of the final product–a HUGE bag of acorns that we gathered over a couple of hours…but alas, I didn’t.

What are some of your favorite everyday field trips for homeschooling, or family outings?




Our “Homeschool Room”


We recently moved from a 1600+ sq. ft. home into a rental house that’s about half that size.  We had to downsize before we moved, and we still have so many things that don’t quite fit.  Needless to say, there is no space for a homeschool room.  Which is why I’m glad that a dedicated homeschool room isn’t required for effective homeschooling :)

So, I thought I would share our “homeschool room,” which is actually a series of spaces scattered throughout the house.

The Bookshelf

This bookshelf is located in our bedroom.  The top shelf contains our homeschool “curriculum” (which I’ll share about soon).  It also houses our dry-erase markers/wipes, etc.  I have repurposed some old shoe boxes to hold things like art supplies, learning games, etc. I also have flash cards, kid-song cd’s etc.

The middle shelf has some games and puzzles, along with a few learning books.  They also have a bookshelf full of books accessible to them anytime in their bedroom, but these are ones that specifically relate to lessons that we’ll be learning, or ABC books, and things like that.  I have actually since moved out some of the notebooks on the bottom shelf and replaced them with some additional books.  Huge score at my MIL’s goodwill–most books were only $.30!!!  I got tons, and some were elementary school “reading” books and workbooks.  So exciting.

On the bottom shelf are some notebooks (most of which have now been replaced by kid books), some random office supplies, art supplies, and my activity boxes.  One thing I’ve learned about living in small spaces is that we’re always growing, changing, and rearranging.  When this setup ceases to work for us, we’ll change and grow to somewhere else.

The Morning Board Area

We have little to no available wall space, except in the hallway.   So, I set our morning time space up right in the hallway.  We have a coat closet in the hall, and the inside of the door is perfect for my morning board.  It fit perfectly, and it’s kind of nice that I can close the door when we’re finished as opposed to having our morning board hanging in the living room all the time. Yes, we have a US map on our hallway wall.

Also, we have boxes of stuff in the closet (when you reduce your living space by half…you end up with stuff in boxes! lol), but there is just enough room in front of them for a basket with all of our morning board necessities in the floor.  So, it really is a perfect set up, and we all just sit in the floor during morning board time.  It works for us right now.

The Kitchen Table

After our morning board time, we all migrate to the kitchen table.  I go to the bookshelf in our bedroom and retrieve the items we need for our next lesson and carry them to the kitchen table where we work.  It’s maybe a bit inconvenient…but remember, we have a small house, so we’re not that far away.   Sometimes, if I’m feeling motivated the night before, I will get together everything we’ll need for the next day and put it all in a box and just take it to the kitchen all at once.

Update: We now use these workboxes so that I can easily get everything ready to go before hand.

The Great Outdoors

As much as possible, I try to plan activities that can be accomplished outside, while the weather is cooperating.  This week, we’re excited to be helping daddy pick up acorns for work, and learning all about seeds and trees and nature.

And, there you have it…our “homeschool room.”


First Day of School!

You are seeing two VERY excited little boys!  They have been really looking forward to the first day of homeschool.

Here is our basic schedule, based upon the routine that our family naturally follows and adding in our school work.  I basically made a list of the items I wanted to include in our school day, and then tried to place them in an order that made sense for our family.  Right now, our school lessons make up about 2 hours of the day, with (4) 30 minute lessons. There will be days when our schedule changes, such as to accomodate storytime at the Library, playdates, etc.  And days when we’ll have field trips.  There will also be times when our lessons and fun activities overlap, resulting in a shortened day, and condensed schedule…flexibility is one of the many perks of homeschooling :)

I’ve added an extra subject.  A lot of kindergarten curriculum requires only 2 subjects, and just works the rest of the learning in with those, but it’s more helpful for me to separate it.  I feel more organized that way.  So, my third subject will be a rotating social studies, science, and health.

I am not using a curriculum.  We’re on a bare bones budget right now, but I really think it will be okay.  I got a $10 kindergarten workbook from Walmart, a $32 Bible Lessons book from Lifeway (that I could have got online for much cheaper!), and for everything else we’re just going to make it up as we go.  I’ll let you know how that works out :)

I have a 3 year old and a 5 year old.  Caeden will be technically in kindergarten, while Logan is technically in preschool.  For now, I’m going to be doing basically the same things with both of them (Logan is very smart!), and will continue that until it doesn’t seem to be working.  It’s a learning process for all of us.

Our Daily Routine & Tentative Schedule

6:00/6:30–Wake up.  Daddy is getting ready for work, and the boys usually hang out with him, and he gets them their breakfast if he has time.  My kids are early risers and always have been.

7:30–Breakfast/Morning Chores/TV Time for the boys (if they didn’t eat with daddy).  Breakfast and quiet time for mommy

8:30–Official start of the school day with our morning board. (I’m going to do a separate post with details of what’s included here).

9:00–Lesson #1 (Bible) We are doing a creation unit this month, working through this book

9:30–Songs/Movement/Snack Time

10:00–Lesson #2 (Language Arts–Letter of the Week)


11:00–Kids have morning recess while mommy preps lunch

11:30–Lunch Time, clean up

12:30–Lesson #3 (Math and numbers)

1:00–Story Time

1:30–Lesson #4 (Alternating-Social Studies/Science/Health)

2:00–Quiet Time

3:00–Outside to play

4:00–Clean up

4:30–Daddy gets home from work (unless he has to work late b/c of a forest fire)

5:30–Cook supper, eat, clean up

7:00–Family Time (outside, games, watch a movie together, etc.)

8:30–Bedtime Routine (bath, bedtime stories, prayers)

9:00–Lights out for kiddos.  This is the time when Chad and I can spend some time alone together, I can work on my blog, work on lesson plans for the next day, etc.

11:00–We try to be in bed by 11:00


(You can find more homeschooling posts at ihomeschoolnetwork or at the Homeschool Carnival

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