Spelling game.


Post-It’s are great. They can be used for a lot of thing, including this lesson.

What you do first is decide what words you want to focus on. Then write each of the letters on a Post-It. Place them, all scrambled, on a flat surface.

Then call out the first word. Have your child sound out the word and move the Post-It’s around to make the words.

We used:


Toddler Tuesdays: shapes and in and out.

Tuesday’s lessons were super simple. All you need is a place to draw with chalk and some chalk.

To work on shapes I picked 4 shapes and drew them on the ground: Circle, triangle, heart, square. Then we went “in” and “out” of them.

I got to pick the shape and the kids ran around and got in the shape. Then they hopped out and ran around some more. When I called out the new shape, they jumped in it.

It was a good lesson on in and out. We carried the whole “in and out” theme throughout the day. I made sure to emphasize putting things into baskets and taking things out.




Here’s our navigation map and the words we practiced writing today.

Today’s lesson was on navigation.

We wrote the word “navigation” three times. I love our wipe-off boards from Target’s $1 bin. They allow us to change media – from pencil and paper – and do a bunch of writing. We also wrote the word “map” four times.

When we were traveling, one of the nice Delta pilots gave us a plane navigation chart. We happened to be delayed for hours in ATL and so they were making the kids happy and handing out navigation charts.

So we pretended we were pilots. We took off from ATL and flew to the various destinations on the map. We used colored crayons to trace our paths. My youngest just colored the map while we pretended we were pilots.

Then we made paper airplanes and flew them around the house.

Lastly, we made a map of our house and used it to help us “navigate” around the house.

It was fun. The pilot thing was the best.



Here we are, making butterflies with stickers and paints.

Today’s lesson is about butterflies.

First we had to read The Very Hungry Caterpillar. We like that book so much that we did it twice. Then we made puppets.

We really like pipe cleaners. They are versatile, cheap, and can be reused sometimes. They are a great toy for the diaper bag. We did our puppets out of pipe cleaners. Our caterpillars were green and yellow ones twisted together. The butterflies were orange and black. The we used the puppets to act out The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

We took a break after that and went on a butterfly and caterpillar hunt. We took our magnifying glasses and walked around he neighborhood. It was a fun walk. We didn’t find anything.

After our walk we came home and practiced writing the words “caterpillar” and “schmetterling”. Schmetterling is butterfly in German.

Then we decorated some butterflies I cut out of construction paper. We used stickers and dot paints. The stickers were a little smaller than usual to force Abby to develop better motor skills. She has to work on motor skills when she peels the stickers off and puts them onto the paper.

The stickers were suns, rainbows, frogs, apples an the like. We reviewed the German words for each picture on the sticker. We also practice the English spelling for each word.

So that was our butterfly lesson for the day.



Nicholas is holding one of our pipe cleaner puppets from our puppet show.

Toddler Tuesdays: Getting dressed

For today’s Toddler Tuesday we are working on getting dressed. As adults, we take this skill for granted. As parents we are scared of what others might think of us if our kids dress themselves.

But making the choice of clothes, putting them on, brushing hair and teeth, and doing laundry are all important skill to learn.

To make this fun for my older son, he got to practice articles of clothing in German and load the washer with the right amount if soap. He also tried to talk Abby – my 18 month old toddler – into different clothes. He was trying to practice his persuasion skills. Too bad Abby is stubborn like a rock.

We went to Abby’s room and played there for a while before having her get out of her pajamas. Because her attention span is so small, I make sure to break up the tasks and give her one direction at a time.

Then she was asked to pick her clothes. She chose her shirt and shorts. We then practices spelling the works shirt and shorts. We also said them in German. Then I let her get dressed. She had a tough time, but when she got stuck I put my hands over hers and helped. I never did it for her.

Then we brushed hair and teeth. I had her brush her own hair and had Nicholas show her how to brush teeth. That way, Nicholas has his skills reinforced by teaching.

Then we did laundry. All my kids can take their clothes to the washer. Then I turn it on after the soap is in.

Abby got a “I dressed myself” sticker. I make them out I address labels on the computer. This way, everyone knows and no one states at me strangely.

It was a fun morning and I even got chores done!

The monuments in Washington D.C.

We are back to studying, or at least reviewing, the things we have already learned about the monuments before we go. So far, we have learned about Presidents Lincoln, Jefferson, and Washington and why they are important. Now we are looking at the monuments themselves and why they are neat.

The National Park Service has a great Junior Ranger book for the Mall and the monuments on the Mall. We printed it out and filled in what we could fill in. There are some places in it to draw pictures of the monuments (those will have to wait until we get there) and some other things like that. But all of the trivia and the puzzles we did. It was a great review of the Presidents and why they might have monuments dedicated to them.

The National Park Service also has a website dedicated to games about different national parks, solving mysteries, and all kinds of fun things. The website has over 50 games. It took my son 2 hours before he wanted to stop playing with the national parks games. I normally don’t go for that much screen time at once, but the games were really interesting. He now knows a lot of trivia – he’d make a great date to a cocktail party if he was older than 4.

We built our own Washington Monuments out of sugar cubes. We tried to get them really high, like the real monument, but failed. It was interesting talking about how the Washington Monument is built out of stone and not glued together, so we tried that with our monuments and it wasn’t really working. It was just a fun, hands-on activity to demonstrate how hard it must have been to build the Washington Monument.

We also did some talking about WWII. My grandfather and grandmother are WWII veterans. Both of them served in the Army Air Force. My grandmother served as a nurse and my grandfather as a doctor. It was interesting to try and put WWII into context for a 4 year old. It went like this: There was a big fight among all the countries of the World – that’s why it was a World War. During this war, lots of people died. But eventually, the U.S. won and now everything is peaceful. It is an extreme oversimplification, but I’m not going to do a deep, in depth, explaining of WWII for him. He tends to take information and assimilate it in dreams, and I don’t need him being scared.

The reason we talked about WWII was to lead in Vietnam and the Vietnam Memorial and the WWII memorial site. He helped me fill out the papers to add my grandmother and grandfather to the WWII memorial, and we sent it in. We talked about Vietnam and I showed him pictures of the wall. He understands that Vietnam was only in one location on the globe (unlike WWII) and that lots of people went missing and died, and that we honor them. I don’t know what he’ll remember of this, but it was worth a shot.

Then we finished up our day with letter practicing and math. We always do our writing and math – I think it’s important to get a good grounding in basics.

Lazy days

Sorry for the lack of posts, we’ve been a little busy. There have been family events and friend events that have taken a lot of our time. We still do our letters and math everyday, but lessons are taking a back seat to play at the moment – as it should sometimes.

We are having lazy days. Days where we wake up and spend the day outside – the park is a favorite. We watch movies in the middle of the afternoon when it’s too hot to be at the park. We make meals as a family and simply enjoy spending time with each other.

What ate the kids learning? How to have fun, play, and be with their family. It’s great to spend these days together.

Toddler Tuesday: nature walks

For our Tuesday lesson we worked on nature. Nature is fun. Most kids don’t spend enough time in nature to really like it. I’m not talking about your yard as nature, or saying backpacking with kids is nature. But just being outside in an area with plants and bug where they normally aren’t.

We are lucky enough to have a trail along the American River right by us. We don’t use it as much as we should.

But today we learned, at home, how to do rubbings of leaves. We picked leaves and then made rubbings of them. We practices this skill before heading out on our 2 mile hike.

I do not allow toys when we are in nature. Instead they can pick rocks and sticks and leaves. So at the beginning they each picked a favorite stick. We also picked favorite rocks – which Nicholas insists are igneous rocks because theres a volcano right across the river from us (not really, but he has an active imagination). We also stopped and picked awesome leaves up and made rubbings.

At the end of the walk we ate lung and went back home.

We then used our compare and contrast questions (how are these things the same/how are these things different) to examine our leaf rubbings from home and the river.

It was a fun Tuesday.


Home Ec skills aren’t being taught or learned by kids………

There was an interesting article on Slate today that spoke of home economics classes and the skills learned there, and how today’s young adults and children don’t know them. The specific skills mentioned were: budgeting, chores, and cooking. 

I think the point of the article was to say that people could benefit from a Home Ec class, or a Family and Consumer Science class – whatever it is called. The author made the point that with food prices being expensive, obesity being high, and children being expected to help out around the house; learning how to cook simple, healthy foods for less that prepackaged foods would be helpful to families. Teaching children how to work a budget, use a measuring cup, bake a cake, do laundry, and sew on their own buttons are all things the author thinks are valuable. Additionally, the good point is made that simply because someone doesn’t know how to read, spending more time on those exact skills won’t help. They might need a break, an alternate approach, or another reason to read (like they want to learn to read directions for sewing or cooking). 

I whole-heartedly agree that those skills should be taught. At home. By families ideally. At school if they have to be. In our school district those types of electives are being dropped for classes with more academic focuses: AP classes, computer science. Even classes that help kids prepare for careers – auto repair, EMT training, and other career tech classes – are being dropped in favor of forcing kids onto the college preparatory path.

It is a shame that kids can graduate from school without knowing how to put on a button, do laundry, run a budget, or cook a meal. Those skills will, as the article’s author points out, make a bigger impact on their life than pre-calculus ever will (as a disclaimer, I not only took pre-calc but AP Calculus and have never, ever, used them since).

But in a world of standardized tests, these skills aren’t testable. They are simply skills. While the students might be able to talk over cooking about how much milk to use in comparison to flour (and thereby be discussing ratios and math without even knowing it), or how to use vinegar as a substitute cleaning solution (chemistry), or how to follow the directions on a sewing pattern (reading), these aren’t testable.

And it is one more reason I homeschool. My 4 year old can fend for himself if he has to. He gets to pick one meal, once a week, where he’s responsible for himself. I make sure to always have chopped up fruits and veggies in the fridge, and we have talked about meals needing to always have fruits and veggies, but other than that he can choose for himself. He tends to use the toaster and make himself toast with strawberry jam and carrot sticks. Recently he has also started doing this for his sister. If you mean to tell me I can teach a 4 year old to do this, but a high school graduate cannot….well I am sticking to my homeschooling intentions.

We learn math with measuring cups some days – and we all know that 2 halves make a whole – and what’s wrong with using cooking to teach that? Nothing.

Until the schools learn that standardized testing doesn’t help teach everything, and that sometimes alternate, integrated approaches work better than a strict subject based approach, I’ll stick to homeschooling. It’s more adaptable and I know that when my kids leave home they will have the skills they need to do what they want.



Play helps develop imagination. Toys that can be used for multiple purposes help kids learn to be creative and use the toys for many purposes.

We have Play-Doh at our house. Lots and lots. We got a Costco set 2 years ago and are just now running through it all. So what better way to play today than with Play-Doh?

I’m not a great artist so I have cookie cutters included in my Play-Doh toys. Plastic knives and spoons, clay working tools, and rollers are all part of our Play-Doh toys.

We make all kinds of things. Today we started with pretending the blue table was the ocean and we made fish and plants and sharks. Then we made an airport with planes and flew them around. We made letters and dragons and castles (not that thy looked like it).

But most of all we had fun as a family hanging out and playing. For 3 hours. It was a fun after lunch activity. And it made me remember how much fun my kids are to be around.


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