Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Cut & Paste Queen

Ellie has discovered a new obsession: GLUE STICKS!

She has been cutting (with help) and pasting all morning! She did a couple from her Kumon Sticker and Paste book and I have been searching the web trying to keep up with her desire for more to glue! I found some cute FREE ones on teacherspayteachers, but am wondering what cut & paste resources all my teacher and homeschooling friends use?

ISO books or website ideas to fulfill this cuties desire to glue stick!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Science Fun- Smelling Molecules

Here's some cute pictures from our science experiment today:

We've been studying atoms and molecules since last week.

Simple list of supplies for today's experiment:

 First the kids all smelled the balloon (yuck!):
Then we added vanilla extract and SHOOK the balloon!!!

Zoe was really shaking it!

The vanilla spread throughout the balloon:

AND- The vanillin molecules were small enough to pass through the balloon- we could SMELL the vanilla scent of the vanillin molescules on the balloon!

 Experiment reports:

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

2nd Day of School 2014

So I realized on my 1st day of school blog post (here), I didn't show my older two doing school! 
Here's a glimpse of each kid doing school today: 

Cian working on his journal page and his Singapore Math.

Grace doing a Critical Thinking Company CD game. She is also doing Math on the computer this year! We switched to Teaching Textbooks. I have to mention that I do think it is much easier than the math we did last year, so I just bumped her up a grade to 6th grade math. It has been SO positive for her and I both this year so far. She said she likes seeing them do the problems (visual learner) and I like that she and I aren't dreading doing math together, lol!

Ellie showing off her Letter A magnet work. She was SO excited for school today, she started getting in her workbox bins before I was even awake. Yikes! She was very excited to find magnets!

Zoe's journal page. And yes, she is in her pajamas, lol!

I HAD to include a zoomed in picture of her journal because the little pictures cracked me up! I loved her smile and her goggles in the photos. A BIG change for a girl who wouldn't put her face in the water last year! These say (in inventive spelling- I wouldn't tell her how to spell anything even though she asked me like 10 times! LOL! For journaling, I want her to just sound out words and try to write.): "Jump in to the pool, Swim in the pool, and Swim underwater."

Fionnuala - It's so hard being a baby. ;-)

Zoe insisted I put this picture on the blog. She wanted everyone to see it, lol! She was just playing with Ellie's magnets. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

1st Day of School 2014

Today was our first day of the 2014-2015 school year. I have to admit, we are spoiled by a homeschool schedule. This year is way more work for all of us. I have a 5th grader, 3rd grader, Kindergartner, and Preschooler all doing full curriculum. See our subject list here! Add to the top of that, a 4 month old who nurses around the clock during the day. Yep. It was busy. We did spend a little time doing 1st day photos this morning and have more subjects on Mondays since it is a day we don't normally have to go anywhere, but gosh, we didn't finish school until 2:50!! It was like being in traditional school again, lol! I'm sure it'll get faster as we get a routine going.

Zoe and Ellie are using workboxes this year. All three kids used these our first year of homeschooling. There's a picture of mine on that first year's post - you can see it here.

Cian and Grace are sticking with their printed daily assignment sheet from Homeschool Tracker Online that we used last year. HST Online is SUCH A TIME SAVER!! All my lesson plans are done for the whole year!! I spent a week doing it this summer and now it's done for the whole year AND the lesson plans are saved for the rest of the kids when they are in those grades. If you are interested in it and decide to get it, can you go through my link? (It gives me a referral credit towards my own renewal! Thanks!) It is here.

Special Snacks for the 1st Day of School

I saw this idea on Pinterest and LOVED it! The websites with the printables I used are saved on my back to school Pinterest page - here's the link or the specific ones I used are linked directly to the sites below.
 "Looking forward to a WHOPPER of a great year."
"You are one smart cookie."

Here are our yearly back to school photos on the front porch:


I do the year in school signs with the kids. I have seen these ALL over pinterest and got all the big kids printables from there. I have them pinned on my Back to School page you can find here.

Since Fionnuala is not in a grade- she's a baby, I thought it would be funny if she still had a sign. Hers says, "I'm just AUDITING this year."

Here's a few pictures from our 1st day:

One of the few things that keeps Fionnuala happy besides being held.

All 4 kids at the table this morning doing school work. :-)

Ellie doing the calendar! It is her 2nd favorite thing! Cutting with scissors is number 1, but I was unable to photograph that for fear of loosing a finger or a child during her excitement of cutting!!

Ellie is doing the Letter of the Week curriculum from
I used it with Zoe and really liked it. It's so nice now to use it again since I laminated it all the first time around.

Another activity from LOTW. 

Zoe and I can TAKE TURNS with the reading! So proud of this little reader!!

I added in a music curriculum for the littles. Fionnuala loved sitting in the swing while the other two and I did sing songs and sang to her.

And finally- a Teach Academy tradition, DONUTS on the first day of school! YUM!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

10 Back-to-School Traditions

This week's assignment for my H&H blog group came from yours truly! I love cute, fun traditions for the kids and am always looking for new ideas. I thought it would be great to hear what my blog group and other friends do for their kids for back to school traditions.

Here are our 10 back-to-school traditions:

1. We have always done first day of school pictures on our front porch. 

These are from when Grace was in Kindergarten in 2009!


That same year, Cian went to a daycare that did "school." He went for two days a week and my mom watched him the other three, so we photographed that first "school day" as well.

Two big changes have happened since we started doing this tradition!
#1- We now homeschool!
#2- We moved!
So, the porch is different, and the kids aren't backpack in hand, but I loved this tradition and still do it.

2. Year in School Sign 

I replaced the backpack in the photos with the a sign of what year they are in. We have done this for both of our years of homeschooling and this has become a new tradition. I got mine at iheartnaptime blog.
I REALLY like the chalkboard-looking ones though, and will probably switch this year!

Here is last year's blog post.
Here is our 1st year's blog post.

3. This one is also pictured above: Class photo!

They are each others classmates after all! We've gotta have a class photo each year!

4. Backpacks! 

When the kids were in school, getting a new backpack was always a back-to-school tradition! They loved picking out their favorite character all on their own. I always made sure to get at least one photo of the backpack too!
Grace in Kindergarten 2009

Ellie last year 2013
Tot School
 Surprisingly, we do still use backpacks, just not daily. We take some work with if we are going to activities or field trips that require a bit of a drive. They still like getting new backpacks, but we don't get each kid a backpack each year anymore. This year, I bought Ellie a new 10" one... as you can see the 12" from last year's picture is still pretty big on her! Walmart was having a $5 sale on backpacks so I let Ellie get a $5 Tinker Bell 10" size and Zoe got a $5 My Little Pony one. Grace has a NICE one from Target that holds her ipod and a zillion other things, so she won't be getting an new one anytime soon and Cian is quite content with his from last year.

5. A special treat!

A homeschooling friend had this adorable idea she did on the last day of school last year. It was a little Hostess cake and said something like, "1st Grade was a piece a cake, you're now a 2nd grader." I plan to use that at the end of this school year, but might also do it for 1st day starting back with adjusted wording.

6. Memory books

We do this, but at the end of school. I make a yearbook for the kids and also have a school memory holder book for each kid. These hold special drawings, papers, etc from that year. I also put their school photo and class photo taken on the 1st day in it.

7. Self Portrait

I am doing a journal supplement for Zoe's Kindergarten that has her draw and write about herself each month. It also has a page for "1st day of Kindergarten."

8. All About Me Journal

Why should Kindergartners get all the fun?! I found a free "All About Me" on There are lots of really cute ones to purchase, but I think this free one here from The Savvy Corner is great too and did I mention it was FREE! It says "Elementary School" on it, but we just write our homeschool name on it.
I also found a 1st day interview from pinterest I'm going to do too!  

9. Donuts!!

This one is a win/win! The kids get a special treat for breakfast, and I don't have to spend time making breakfast. This gives us that little extra time as we are getting in our new groove.

10. Handprint

This will be a new tradition for me this year! I saw a cut out on a pinterest back-to-school pin and loved the idea. I will probably just flip over their All About Me journal and trace it there.

Monday, August 4, 2014


One thing that I think is really important in the elementary grades is exposing children to writing. Some really great teachers I know start their Kindergarten students journaling from the first day of school. It can even be a few letters or scribbles with a picture narrative if they can't write letters yet. The school Grace attended for K-2nd didn't have Kindergarten students write journals until 2nd semester, but I thought that way too late to start introducing her to daily writing.

I have continued the importance of journaling in my homeschool. These are just a few of the zillion awesome writing resources out there. Most can be used for different ages as well, this is just when I personally use them.


This year for Zoe is my 1st year teaching Kindergarten. When we pulled our kids to homeschool, Grace was going into 3rd and Cian skipped Kindergarten and just went into 1st. I have been pinning, searching and reading the last few days to find some journal prompts I want to use with Zoe this year. I found two on Teachers Pay Teachers that I really liked.

Journaling Prompts by the Moffatt girls for Sept-Dec
 (and since we begin school in August, I got a fun summer one)
Summer Writing Prompts by Emily Ames

1st Grade

A super sweet homeschooling friend, (with a really cool name), let me have her binder of reproducible K-2 journal prompts by month. I use it with 1st grade.

2nd Grade

Last year, Cian used a set of free writing prompts called, "If I Were...." from a google search and also I use a scholastic book called, First Writing Prompts, that is for 1st - 3rd grade. I also bought a book I haven't used yet, but will add in for Zoe, called: Complete Writing Lessons for the Primary Grades. I bought it for Cian, for 3rd, but it looks too easy, so will save for 2nd grade.

3rd Grade

I have bought some really awesome e-books from Scholastic that have the journals ready to print. Cian will be using all FOUR of these this year:

  •  Quick and Fun Writing Activities Just for Young Learners by Martin Lee and Marcia Miller
  • 40 Writing Prompts with Graphic Organizers by Stefan Czarnecki
  • Comic-Strip Writing Prompts by Karen Kellaher
  • 50 World Record Writing Prompts by Justin McCory Martin

4th Grade

Grace wanted to do creative writing instead of structured writing, so I let her do that last year, but am sure I will add in a little more structure for Cian next year. I haven't tried these two out yet, but so that I REMEMBER I already bought them from Scholastic, lol, I'm going to list them here:
  • 145 Wonderful Writing Prompts from Favorite Literature by Susan Ohanian
  • 50 Writing Lessons that Work by Carol Rawlings Miller

5th Grade

This year Grace will be journaling 3 days a week from, 1001 Writing Prompts for Students.
She will also be exploring the creative writing again, but with a book called, The Creative Writer Level 1 by Boris Fishman.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Ellie's PAW PATROL 3rd Birthday PAW-ty!

Ellie chose the theme Paw Patrol which is a show on Nick Jr. There is no party line or decorations available to buy yet, but I pinned lots of great ideas onto my paw patrol Pinterest page, and found lots of great printables on the nick jr. website itself.

These are the party hats I made off the nick jr website:

I chose to print them on regular paper, then I taped them onto pre-assembled hats from Walmart.

For the goodie bags:

 I took little cellophane baggies and added a sucker with the nick jr. printable, some mazes (also from nick jr.) and some dog food, okay it's actually it's whoppers. They looks like dog food though, don't they!


 I wanted to do little place cards for the food items like I had done for her Dora party
Since it was a DOG theme, I figured we better have hotDOGS!

I called this one "Zuma's Hot Dog Rescue." I found that cute little hot dog slicer at Walmart too.


I also had maid-rites, and since they look kinda like rubble, I called them Rubble Rites. 


 I placed all the rubble-rites and hot dog condiments in (new!) dog food bowls:


The final "main" dish I served was Mac & Cheese. I called them Chase's Chew Toys Mac & Cheese:


 For sides I had:

Rocky's Green Veggies Tray:

and Skye's PAW-tato chips:


(in dog bowls of course!)



I had made a banner from the nick jr site and thought it'd be a great backdrop for her opening presents:

She loved opening her presents!

Cake & Ice Cream

A local bakery made the cake for me and used the paw patrol image!

 Of course, I wanted little place cards for them also!

I had DALMATIAN ice cream.... chocolate chip! I of course called it  Marshall's Dalmatian Ice Cream:

Here's a close up of the cake. Since it was Ellie's party, I of course called it Ellie's 3rd Birthday Cake:
Since there wasn't enough sugar yet, I HAD to make PUPPY CHOW! I called it Ryder's Paw Patrol Puppy Chow:

Candle in place:

Ellie is ready:

Blowing out her candle:


 I got lots of great photos at her party! This one turned out super! This is Ellie and her Godparents:

 I found this cute face cut-out poster on nick jr. I tried to get photos of all the kid guests to use for the thank you cards. Here is Ellie in it!
 We even got Fionnuala in it!

Zoe thought it would be funny to put Ellie's new Skye doggie in  one too!

It waa a dog-gone fun day and a perfect PAW-ty!