Thursday, January 24, 2013

Snapshots of our School Days

Big Little turned five this past fall and while we have been homeschooling him since the day he was born, we've been slowly working towards a little more structure in our day.  I do not believe all five year olds need this kind of structure, but our son really seems to crave it, and thrives with the mental stimulation that he is getting.  Starting at the beginning of January, I adopted the above "routine" and we are all just about used it it by now.  We are aiming for "doing school" three or four days a week at this point and I am actually amazed how much we get done and in how little time! So I will share some of what we are doing, but please know that this is just what works for our family and do not hold it up as some kind of standard.  As you will see in the pictures, the boys are still learning mostly through play and I believe this is as it should be.

If your are interested in more information, I use Ambleside Online year 0 and we follow the Charlotte Mason philosophy
Some of our learning looks fairly traditional.  Note the look of concentration as he does copywork.
Biggie got to the letter "d" and wrote it the way you would write a half note - he didn't do the downstroke to the bottom of the line. I pointed that out and he answered, "Oh I never do that part. It's just a spot of bother."
Some of it is disguised as play.  (See the letters made out of legos?)
Some looks like "work".  (Trying out parsnips for the first time in our soup!)
sorting out lowercase and capital letters while Little Littles plays along
And we do lots and lots of reading.  And apparently, playing with string.  :)
Notes -
We are working through the Singapore Math level A book and we both like it very much.  We supplement with sorting buttons, working with an abacus, and various other math games.

For piano, I used to teach beginning piano, so I am just doing little 10 minute sessions with him using the Jane Smisor Bastien "Very Young Pianist" series, which I really, really love.  It uses wonderful illustrations, teaches the basics of music and it is simple and not cluttered with overly flashy cartoony stuff.

Science and Art and such very much follow our interests and whims... painting with watercolors, practicing with scissors, bird watching, etc...  As the weather warms up, we will be spending more time outside doing nature study.

And in between all of this, you will find me running laundry to the washing machine, folding it, working on a grocery list while the boys paint, etc...  Work, play, and school are all woven together into a rich and vibrant life.  It is a lifestyle that we feel blessed to live.

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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Tips for Keeping a Clean Bathroom part 2

That is not Lysol in that can!
Almost two years ago, I posted My Tips for Keeping a Clean Bathroom where I encouraged my readers to try keeping a spray bottle of vinegar and a stack of rags in each bathroom for simple, quick clean-up.  I still think this is a wonderful method, but I have found a few more simple cleaning techniques I'm excited to share that have really helped me keep up a clean bathroom.

First, I combined a few different ideas from Pinterest to create my own disinfecting wipes.  I used an old Lysol container and put in pieces of my husband's old undershirts that I cut up.  (I cut the body of the shirt into quarters for these wipes.)  About 10 of these wipes fit in the container.  I mixed up a cleaning solution in a jar that consisted of the following:
  • 1/2 c. vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. Dawn dish soap
  • about 15 drops of essential oils (I like orange and tea tree oil.)
I poured this mixture over the wipes, shook them up, and I had wipes ready to go for cleaning the entire bathroom.  They even worked nicely on the mirror!  (If yours seem a little dry, you can always add a little bit of water.  If they are too wet, you can squeeze out the excess liquid in the sink before using them.)  These 10 wipes lasted me about a month, and then I just laundered them and made up a new solution.  I have such a small bathroom and it has no cabinets, so this one little container hides in there very well.

The second idea is for cleaning the tub. I use coconut oil in my boys' bath water in the winter and this tends to make my tub get dirty in a hurry.  It is so much work trying to scrub out the bathtub, that I tend to put it off way too long.  I bought a little dish scrubber (shown above) and filled it with equal parts Dawn dish soap and vinegar.  I keep it right in the shower on the hanging rack.  About once a week while I'm taking a shower, I shake it up and do a quick once over on the tub and tiles.  This takes less than a minute and has been keeping my tub nice and clean.  I'm thrilled to give up the task of scrubbing out the bathtub every month!

Do you have any tips for keeping the bathrooms clean?

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