Math, engineering, home ec and Motrin.

And coffee. Lots of coffee.
Today I thought I’d be a “cool mom” and turn this toddler tent craft into our schoolwork for the day.
It seemed simple enough. Take a set of old sheets, make some rectangles, sew them together, and drape over a card table.
There would be measuring, math, home economics, engineering, design, graphic, learning to scale, and…
Motrin. Lots and lots of Motrin. And Coffee. Let us NOT forget the coffee.
Taderbug got to use my new machine since it has the ability to step along really really slowly.
Doodlebug was all work on my old machine. She impressed me today! She paid attention to measurements, did the math, and spent 20 minutes rethreading the machine when it jammed.
We also learned that hand me down measuring tapes that are SO old that they aren’t even plastic tend to shrink over time and will ruin your measurements by a lot. We’re talking 1/2 ” here! I hated to toss it but I didn’t want to accidently use it.
Even Lil Man got in on the action! It’s not child labor if it’s educational right?
Well, here’s our tent. Two doors, two windows and tons of fun. The girls put a couple books on the table to the top would stick up like a princess castle. I’m pretty sure there is a camp out planned for tonight.
Hubby thinks I should make them (without the child labor) and sell them. I think that means he likes it. I like it when he likes my stuff.
Blogging from my Android….probably from the bathroom.

A Curriculum Review: Time4Learning

We have been homeschooling for four years. I have been pregnant for two of them. The other two were “new baby” years. As a first time homeschooler we tested out a variety of curriculums, mostly handed down pieces and free online resources.
We bought an all inclusive one for our daughters first grade year and it bored her. It bored me too.
Last spring, we purchased another curriculum, gently used, thinking it would be easier for mom during our “baby” year. We scrapped it in a couple months.
I wanted so badly to be the cool mom with crafty lessons and lapbooks and unit studies and experiments and stuff. I just couldn’t do it. I had one daughter that was desperately trying to tell me she liked the more textbook-y stuff and one daughter that only liked it if it didn’t exercise her brain – at all.
I had a toddler and now a baby and started looking back at all the ideas I had turned down before.
One of them was the online curriculum Time 4 Learning. I had been to the site several times and kept turning away from it because of the cost. At the time I was finding material for free, justifying the monthly fee to our Mr. Daddy Principal Man was hard.
A month ago I found myself at their site again. Now we would have two kids signed up. Now I have a better idea of what motivates my girls. When I did the math I realized that EVEN IF we did school 12 months the total sum of the monthly fees was less than the cost of the last curriculum we purchased! (They do have an option to put your account on hold over the summer!)
I needed to convince Mr. Daddy Principal Man to give it a chance. God provided me an opportunity to show him how great the site was when I received an email invitation to review the site for one month FREE! I posted the disclaimer on my blog (it’s been on my sidebar all month, recently moved to this post), and signed my girls up!
My time is up, we’ve renewed the membership, and now for my official review. Thanks Time 4 Learning for giving us this opportunity!
****************This review is 100% my own opinion. At the time of this posting I am under a PAID membership status with them.

It’s pretty obvious at this point that my review is overall positive, after all I DID pay for another month. There are some highlighted points I do want to make about their program. We are currently working on the first and third grades.

  • No commitment. Charges are monthly, cancel anytime.
  • The Backpack and The Parent Login! : The Backpack is a place where my daughter can go to see her work for the day/week/month and the icons let her know what she finished and what her grades were. The Parent Login now allows me to do the same thing from my laptop while they are still logged in and working. Imagine my 9 year old’s surprise when I tell her to go back and finish an activity! “Moooom, how did you know?”
  • When you choose your child’s grade level, you are given access to the activities for the grade level below and above them.
  • The activities are short for those ever elusive attention spans!
  • Many of the first grade activities READ to my child.
  • The child can click the “Resource”link under their activity and print their worksheet.
  • Quizzes immediately show the child their score and what questions they missed.
  • I can use it anytime, anywhere I have an internet connection and a computer and at our own pace.
  • Reasonably priced.
  • Blocked “Playground” area, full of educational games, that only unlocks once the student had worked for a PARENT specified amount of time. I can, at any moment, override this for special days or as a special reward.


  • The software, at this time, does not have the ability to “assign” students certain tasks on certain days from within the program. I do that on daily lesson pages that I made up. Not a deal breaker, just adds a manual step in my planning. (This functionality is available to classroom teachers only at this time)
  • The added on subjects, like social studies and science, do not read the questions to my non reader for the first grade. They do have information in their forum on a free program that will read to your child but I have not tested it yet.
  • There is only one worksheet per activity. Again, not a deal breaker for me because I know of a dozen great places online for additional FREE worksheets.

My biggest issue is with planning lessons and assigning them. This has been an issue with other curriculums so I have difficulty really blaming it on Time4Learning. I have enjoyed our free month and look forward to using it the rest of this school year and the next!
I’ve been invited to try Time4Learning for one month in exchange for a candid review. My opinion will be entirely my own, so be sure to come back and read about my experience. Time4Learning is an online educational program that can be used in many ways including as a homeschooling curriculum or afterschool tutorial. Find out how to write your own curriculum review for Time4Learning

Game Day at the Schoolhouse

This year I’ve done a few things different.  Planning different. Teaching different. Stressing out differently.
I also scheduled our Christmas break. A LONG one. It will feel great waking up next Monday morning knowing that we are not doing school and it is OKAY.
That makes today our last day of school for 2010.  The girls are excited.  This mom is excited.  I can’t imagine what they are going to do when they find out our last day is going to be “Game Day”.
Last Tuesday, The Homeschool Village held a twitter Christmas party and one of the questions asked was “Do you use games in school?” (or something like that, it’s hard to keep up with parties that rockin’!)  I use fun and games to teach all the time but must admit I have never sat down with my kids and a board game and played with them as a planned part of our schoolwork.  The list of games came pouring in over tweetchat and made a point to pull up the party on Wednesday and start making a list.
Today, Daddy is home from work.  Today, our last day of the school for the year, we are going to play games.  No Wii games (great idea, we just don’t have a game that everyone can play yet).  No computer games.
I think we’ll start with Skip Bo, then UNO, and see if I have any hair left before moving on.
They will be excited.  Once I get the game going, Daddy will be excited. I am the one that struggles with this.  I love games, and I love my kids.  I simply have a hard time enjoying it while bouncing a 20 pounder on one knee and distracting the 2 year old so she won’t move around all the pieces.
Here are a list of games they mentioned at the party:

Non “Board Game” Ideas that were shared:

  • Cooking
  • Counting down until…bedtime, dinnertime, etc.
  • Playing store with coupons, boxes from kitchen, empty containers
  • Dress up, act out stories you have read
  • Minute to Win It! Practice some of the games from the game show!

What games do you play with your kids?  Do you ever do it as part of your planned schoolwork?

Some of the links here are Amazon affiliate links.  If you were to purchase it, yes, I would get a few cents to go towards our school fund.  This link offered a great description of the product and reviews and I only included them on games I had never heard of before.

Stolen from Public School…. it’s Math Blitz Week!

Salt Tray Math

My friend Laurie tweeted this morning about her local school system having a Math Blitz Week and how she was going to do the same thing with her kids this week.  Being the total copycat mom that I am I have stolen her idea and the school’s idea and am having a math blitz week of our own!

Today, made up some basic addition facts flash cards and practiced them, both grades (3rd and 1st) together.  Then we drew a giant number 10 on a piece of art paper and decorated all around it with the many facts that equal ten.  The girls earned a tootsie roll for remembering all of them without my help.  I pulled out some old workbooks and set Tader up at the kitchen table to work through the fun pages while Doodlebug and I sat on the floor to formally introduce her to multiplication.

My NON math child now knows how to multiply and filled in a multiplication table up to the nines!!  I couldn’t be more excited!

Here are some links to the resources we’ll be using this week!

Won’t you join us!?

Salt tray "chalk boards"

Today school was tough. There was whining and fussing about rounding numbers to the nearest 100.  There was laying on the floor in near tears over not remembering our basic math facts.  I knew for sure there would be crying over doing cursive practice.
Then I remembered something a friend of mine mentioned to me.  She had suggested I pour salt on a cookie sheet and let my daughters write in the salt.  (It was during a conversation about teaching phonics)
I wondered if the change up, the idea of playing with food, the texture and the ability to easily “shake” away your mistakes would put my Doodlebug at ease with working on her math.
So I pulled out a craft tray and covered the bottom with salt.

I think it was successful 🙂 Don’t you?

Learning about charts: our readers favorite things

A big THANK YOU to all our readers who took the time to share with us their favorite colors and favorite fruits!

Here are our results!

Favorite Colors:


Favorite Fruit:



Taderbug had a blast seeing all the responses.

We have colored our maps of the USA and hopefully I will get around to gluing them to our boards so we can tack up where everyone was from!

My Kindergartener is looking for volunteers! Learning to make a chart!

We’re looking for ten great people willing to answer three questions for Taderbug.  CIMG0582

We’re going to learn how to make charts and graphs today!

If you’re willing to help her out please leave a comment below with your answers, and we’ll post her charts when she’s done!





Question #1:  What is your favorite fruit?

Question #2:  What is your favorite color? (red, orange, yellow, blue, green, purple, white, black, brown)

Question #3:  Where do you live? (we will be looking at our map and grouping by general location: MidEast, South, or by country)



Thank you in advance to everyone who helps!  And if we get more then ten that would be awesome, I’ll just print a bigger chart!


I know that’s not the most creative name for a game but I’m working on limited brain power these days.
This past week my dear hubster and I have started playing canasta again. Actually I played, he just handed me cards until I won! HA HA (sorry baby, couldn’t resist, I’m sure you’ll get me next time!) Doodlebug, our eight year old, desperately wanted to play with us. I remember playing when I was eight, but I really don’t. think Doodle’s is ready. Her math skills aren’t where they need to be to play effectively. So, today I’m going to try to help her with her math by using cards in an effort to hone her card playing skills.
I call the game TEN!
I’m sure if you google ‘card games to teach kids math’ there will be some mom who already has this idea, it’s not that amazing or unique 🙂
Think OLD MAID crossed with GO FISH with addition.
We’ll deal out 5 cards.
Leave the rest in a pile in the middle.
I’ll pick a card from her hand, and see if I can add it to one in my hand to equal 10. If I can’t, then I’ll draw one card. First one to empty their hand wins.
If she does well, then we can play again but add to 11 or 12 and so on. Maybe at some point letting her use up to three cards to total the correct amount.
I’m considering taking out some of the K,Q, and J’s to keep the deck small.
Wish me luck! We’ll be playing after breakfast!

A Counting Up Craft

My daughter is having some math issues. This gives me great grief as I am pretty proficient mathematically. I’m very visual and it was driving me nuts every time she would add 5 + 1 by starting with 1,2,3,4,5…….. 6! The number one reason for this is simple… well, she’s in Kindergarten. She turned six after the “Birthday Cut off” for public school. THEY say she’s in Kindergarten, I say she’s almost in First Grade. Doesn’t matter now, she’s home schooled… I can teach her whatever I want. SHE wanted to learn addition. She did okay with it, once I convinced her that 2 + 2 was NOT 22!
It wasn’t until we purchased the “Hooked on Math: Addition” workbooks that I realized the concept I was trying to teach her actually had a name: Counting Up. They put a little line on the top of her work book pages that had the numbers 1-20 on top. She could put her finger on “2” and count up 2 more numbers to get the answer 4…
We started using her ruler as our number line for all of our math worksheets. Worked well until we had 8 + 9. Her ruler stops at 12. So I created a “counting up” chain for her to use. The instructions are below:

Counting Up Supplies

The numbers 1-20 printed on cardstock… feel free to use mine Number Cards
Plastic straws (about three will do)
String, or cord… anything your kids would normally use to make bracelets or beaded keychains etc. Mine was some sort of plastic stuff
Beads, to weigh down the ends.
1. Cut out the number cards
2. Tie a knot in one end of your string and add three to four beads.
Beaded Ends
3. Cut the straw into pieces (at least as wide as your tape, not wider than the number cards) and add them to the string.. you need twenty total pieces of straw.
Attaching the cards
4. Add three to four beads, leave some room (at least six or seven inches) then tie another knot.
5. Be careful with this step… make sure your numbers are all facing the same direction and in order and tape the cards to the straw pieces.
My daughter lays hers across her table. She finds the first numeral in the equation, and slides over the number of numerals to be added to the first one… the last card she touches is the answer!
Final Counting Up Pic
Ok, it’s cheesy, but it got her to do her math homework 🙂