Monday, August 19, 2013

Back To School...Like it or Not!

Last year we kicked up our extra-curriculars a notch and it really did a number on me. When it was all over, I revolted/recouped by choosing NOT to homeschool (or anything else for that matter) formally over the summer and instead we continued our field trips and took advantage of teachable moments as usual.

For the past couple of weeks, I have been starting to think about what I need to do to get back into the swing of things and get us ready for the year ahead insha'Allah. Duhn-duhn-duhhhh. That was supposed to be a scary, suspenseful sound, for those of you with little imagination, ha, ha!

I've never been a fan of any shopping frenzies, and Back-To-School shopping is definitely included in this mix. I do light, necessity-shopping to catch sales for items I already planned to buy, but that's it. I found this awesome blog post on just this, entitled 12 Reasons I Refuse to Go Back-To-School Shopping and I really enjoyed reading it. As if I need more courage to say "No".

art_class_supplies.jpgI purchased books toward the end of last year in preparation for this year so with the possible exception of a grammar workbook, I think I'm covered. 

I do have to prepare my All About Me booklet printouts so the girls can fill it out during our first week back, and I was thinking of also doing something like this Back-To-School Time Capsule Craft. At the very least, I think I'll be pulling out the hefty cardstock and color ink to run off a couple of Back To School Interview Printables to go into their AAM booklets (more about those in a separate post). For now, I return to the pep-talking sessions I've been holding for myself. Ah, the homeschooling life...


Monday, August 12, 2013

Boxes & Books

Written Aug 5, 2013

Today I'm a rockstar. My girls are thrilled and full of celebration because I brought home some oversized boxes I found at a FREE book giveaway organized by the Homeschooling Office for our county.

The event started at 8am, precisely twenty minutes after I'd hit the snooze that one last time, and ten minutes after I finally dragged myself by the collar from my bed and stepped over the kids who were camped out (and knocked out!) on a plush pallet on our floor.

By the time I dressed and drove there, it was about 8:30am, or the equivalent of eternity past the start of an event like that. Just as I'd suspected, everything was gone baby gone.

Wasted trip? Meh, a little. But to tell you the truth, I'm not very fond of most textbooks anyway, so no loss there. I had really gone to look for educational classroom decor & tools, manipulatives, binders, things of that sort. Well, none of that did I find, but I did knock out a few orders of business while I was there, one of which included filling out my Intent to Homeschool the Littles for the year.

About a year and a half ago, I just happened upon a message post on an area homeschool group's listserv that gave details about the existence of such giveaway events organized by my County's Public School System,. Now I know to keep my eyes peeled. I highly recommend checking into whether your county does the same thing, you might score some cool, free items there you can use in your classroom or homeschool.

My tips and suggestions:

  • Obviously, get there early, at least 5-10 min, but don't be rude by rushing the door EVER, especially before it's time. It's bad form and just plain annoying, especially that early in the morning.
  • Bring a rolling crate, some sturdy reusable bags, or make use of the empty boxes that are sure to accrue by patrons such as yourself taking supplies and books off the organizers' hands.
  • Find a way to tag your stuff. Everything looks exactly the same once everyone starts digging, and it won't be long before some other well-meaning homeschoolers wander over and start looking through your stuff you thought you'd set aside. If possible, try to take someone with you who can help you get it to the car and look over what you've claimed while you continue to search.
  • Don't be greedy. Only take what you can use and leave the rest for someone else. We're all pretty much in the same boat and there are people out there who might actually need the materials just as much or maybe even more than you do. Think of what an incredible waste it'd be for those 5 copies of The Cat in the Hat to just sit and collect dust on your shelf instead of being enjoyed by 4 other families teaching their child to read.
If all else fails and you miss out, don't fret, you just might find that one discarded box that'll turn you instantly into a rockstar. 

*          *          *          *          *          *            

There's tons of free stuff online available to homeschoolers, and I have a growing list on my Links page of all my tried and true favorites. Here are some additional links you can try:

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Thursday Book Rec: Clothesline Clues: Jobs People Do

I am a book addict. It's just that simple. I will steal minutes to read "just one more line" and hide out in strange places (like my closet) to get it in before the kids discover I'm missing. The good thing is, I've got them hooked, too, and believe me, there's no greater feeling than suddenly noticing they're suspiciously quiet, only to happen upon them innocently absorbed in a book on the floor (and that my favorite Sharpie is still where I left it).

Here's what we're reading this week:

Clothesline Clues to Jobs People Do

This book is a great guessing-game book for teaching about different professions. My youngest loved it and I had a lot of fun reading it to her. From page to page, there are uniforms and tools for each job suspended from a clothesline and it's up to you (your child) to guess who the clothes belong to.

I really like the "Guess Who" aspect of this book, and the fact that the answers will come to your (young) child quite easily, along with smiles and giggles when they guess each one correctly- at least it was that way for us. When they don't guess, it's still fun because it's a learning/teaching opportunity for you both. There are also some really great, refreshingly positive messages in those pages about gender diversity in different professions. This is one we could read again and again.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Ramadan Mini-Survival Kit: Printables and Islamic Apps for Kids

Ramadan Kareem!

Abstract background mosques
Wow, Ramadan, as always, is fast coming to a close! Here are some links you may find useful throughout the year, but especially now:

Mo Willems Does It Again!

I have been in the dark with just about everything lately since my plate is piled way high with P L E N T Y to do. So no surprises that I had no idea Mo Willems had released a new app until I was offered a review copy to check it out. Despite my stingy 8G of "space" (quotes because there's never any!) on my iPhone, I happily sacrificed a few audiobook tracks and twice as many of the kids' apps to cram this monster on there (905 MB!! According to my iTunes list).

I'm such a fan of Mo and what he thinks is funny.

There are lots of things to do in this app, all of which are peppered with Mo's great and always clever sense of humor, but I will keep this post short and sweet- relatively.
Dream Drive: Don't get me started on the mad cow!!

Dream Drive! This one had my heart racing because I'm so not a gamer and being timed to do a virtual task makes me unnecessarily all kinds of anxious. All of a sudden, my brain stops working and I panic as if my phone will implode when I run out of time, because, yes, I know it's definitely coming. I think I provided the kids with some real entertainment by letting them watch me play this one, drawing out the bus route for Pigeon to drive around obstacles to pick up all the ducklings. Side note: I loved how I started on level 27 then jumped to level 349 once level 27 was complete. 

Because I can tie just about anything to homeschooling/learning/things that are good for the mind, I have to give a small but mighty mention of the drawing activity where Mo gives you a part of a picture and it's up to you to fill it in as you like. There's so much potential for creativity and open-ended free-thinking there which naturally endears this activity to me.

My friends and I are notoriously and comically cheap when it comes to buying apps but this one would've been worth the purchase to me. A copy of it for your iPhone or iPad will run you $3.99 in the app store and here's the link for more information. They also make it for Nook ($2.99), but I only read books on that so....