Pinecones and Purpose

This Monday morning started out hopeful and optimistic. I had quite a bit on my to-do list portion of my planner and the week ahead of me to knock it out. Despite a little bit of a sore throat, I was ready to face the week. A week full of purposeful activities planned out ahead of me.

I swung my feet over the side of the bed and my feet touched the floor. All bets were off after that.

Isn’t that how most days go? Or is it just me? I have pie-in-the-sky ideals of how my day with my two littles is going to go, and then I wake up.

So today was no different. We didn’t have any big interruptions to our morning. It was just one of those days where things were not coming together. We sat down to get into our Mother Goose Time lesson plans and my eyes had gravitated to the fun little postcards included in our Daily Discovery Bag. We pulled them out and proceeded to prepare little hellos to the grandmothers.

Peter’s first postcard attempt

Peter’s tree and roots going down deep into the soil.

My oldest getting in on the action


Peter carefully examining the pinecones including in the Discovery Bag for the birdfeeder activity.

However, like I mentioned before, today just wasn’t flowing. Mama was little grumpy and the kiddos wanted to be out in the nature that we were discussing. And so we decided that one activity was good for today. Out went the plan, but we kept the purpose.

This may not seem like a big deal to you. Maybe you are one of those super flexible parents that can just roll with it. If so, that is awesome and continue showing those of us a little less stretchy what to work towards. But for me to choose to throw out the to-do list (not only on my planner, but the one that I walk around with in my head), and to not see the day as a “loss” is a big deal for me. It’s a little sad, as I type it out, how often it’s been all or nothing for me. That I wasn’t open to the interruptions and sidelines, and definitely not open to the lessons that could be learned from them in the moment. Maybe a few days or weeks later, looking back. But definitely not in real time.

But today, we chose purpose over the plan, and I think we chose well. Because while the kiddos normally can sit and craft away most of the morning, and we’re able to go over several of the monthly theme’s daily topics in one sitting, today they just needed to play. They needed to get out into the trees and rocks and zipline at the neighborhood park. They needed to add some experiences to their little minds so that when we sit down tomorrow, they can apply some of what they learned in the park to what we’re discussing at the table.

It goes both ways, the learning. From the desk (or table in our case) to the park, and from the park to the desk.

I could have tried to force the lessons, pressed on at the table, and I’m sure we would have been a cheery bunch by noon. Yes, we would have checked off some lessons and tasks, but what is the benefit if the kids aren’t engaged and tensions are high? I don’t want to sacrifice my relationships and my time with my kids on the altar of production, as if that is the only meaningful thing in life there is. I don’t believe that, but how often have my days reflected that?

I’m slowly gaining the freedom and flexibility to know that sometimes changing the plan is the most purposeful thing I can do. Sometimes realizing that what I thought was a good idea may still be a good idea, but not today. Because today calls for being out in the sun and wind and nature, for cuddles and quick hugs, pushing on the swings and trying to find painted rocks at the park (apparently it’s a popular local thing).

So, maybe we didn’t learn just one little lesson today after all.

 

 

As an official Mother Goose Time Blog Ambassador,
I receive curriculum in exchange for posting about our honest and authentic experiences with the curriculum.
Click here for more information on Mother Goose Time.

Summer Fun (Yes, I mean school)

This week, I was reminded of one of the MAIN reasons that I love our preschool curriculum, Mother Goose Time. Yes, it’s super cute with adorable, colorful graphics so that it’s visually appealing for the kiddos and me! (Don’t underestimate the importance of the appeal for the teacher!). And it’s really easy to facilitate. One doesn’t need a degree in early childhood education to teach it. I could go on and on about our love for MGT. But the main reason that we LOVE it is because we know that there will be some activities each day that my kids will really enjoy, and honestly feels more like they are playing than “doing school.”

If we’re having a low-key day around the house because we’ve had a couple more activities during the week than the norm (playdates with friends, bible study for me, errands to run, you know – just life stuff), then I don’t feel like I am cheating my kids at all when we sit down to just pick and choose what lessons sound fun to us for that day, and go with it.  I know that they are filled with so many opportunities for great conversation starters, areas we can build upon if we get into a activity that is really stimulating to them, and if not, we can move on. There are at least 4 activities per day (so we’re talking 80+ activities each box), so even if we were on the top of our game and not leaving the house all summer (which isn’t gonna happen), we still probably wouldn’t check all those off our list. So we get to choose what we want and what we feel like fits best for our kids. And that is the MAIN thing I love about Mother Goose Time. It allows us to easily choose the flow and freedom we want for our household!

One of the benefits I appreciate so much that comes along with homeschooling is getting to design what our days look like. Being the one teaching my kids day to day, I have a front-row seat to get to see how they learn, what activities excite them (and in turn which ones make them sigh and slump down in their seats), and we thankfully have the freedom to choose a lot more of the former types of activities than the latter. I believe that these natural bents are purposed by God, that He specifically placed an interest for anything creative and artsy in Natalie, but also gave her super strong skills in math, whereas Peter loves anything that requires working with his hands and with wind, (so we’re speculating a future career in aerodynamics). My husband and I can then choose activities that are going to foster those skills and passions. We have the freedom to provide the type of educational diet they ingest.

I used to feel pretty stuck, like I needed to check off each box in every lesson plan of curricula we were using. I wanted to ensure that they were getting a holistic approach to education, and definitely because I was not one to have a firm grasp on all the things they “needed” to be learning at each age and stage, I relied heavily on the writers of these curricula to provide that for me. I feared that if we weren’t doing ‘it all,’ the kids were going to somehow miss out on something important they should be learning.

And you know what i found? My kids hated it. And I kind of did to.

Because they are SO different. Some activities were great fits, and others huge flops. And while there is a necessary foundation of knowledge and skills that my kids need and will learn in order to succeed in different areas of life, they don’t need to be experts at all of them. And because I get to observe how they approach life (during school and outside our daily lessons), I get to catch a glimpse of God’s design for them and can start to weave our daily lesson plans around what I believe will foster their natural interests and skills.

So when it comes to Mother Goose Time, we’re not here to check off every box by every activity just to say that we completed them, but we’re trying to fill our days with things that we believe are equipping our kids for what God has purposed for their lives.. And because I know the writers and makers of Mother Goose Time put so much thought and energy into their lessons, I can be assured that when I add one or more of these to our daily lesson plan, that I’m getting a quality and enjoyable exercise for my kids. Not all of them are going to connect with my kids, and that is OKAY! And we have the freedom as parents and teachers to see what is and isn’t working, and move forward accordingly. We don’t have to have a one-size fits all curriculum that meets every child’s needs, but we can engage with them and learn what relates, and then choose accordingly in the future. Learn as we go.

And it’s always nice to  hear my kids asking me if we can pull out Mother Goose Time. They get their supplies set up (desk mat so they don’t inscribe their daily lessons into our dining room table, cup full of crayons and a pair of scissors, maybe some markers and a glue stick), I pull out my Teacher’s Guide and Daily Discovery Bags for that week, and we’re ready to go. The kids love to unpack the daily bags, eagerly asking what each cotton ball and foam shape is for, and we explore together what we’re doing for the day. I’m not one to really go over the lessons ahead of time because honestly with all the prep that MGT provides, I don’t need to. I can literally just pull out a bag and we get going. It’s a beautiful thing. Not all of life is like this, so I will take it when I can!

So here is some of the fun that we had this past week as we continue in July’s theme of Camping!

Both the kids made backpacks as we discussed what items we would want to take camping with us when we go!


Super serious face as he concentrates on tracing his hand!

Finished product


Nat’s had to have lips, of course.

Fun to see Natalie be able to construct her backpack, including the handles, which I needed to do for Peter at his age.


Meet Mrs. Backpack


Peter is working in The Little Journal for this month, focusing on the letter “G”.


Meanwhile Natalie was creating her guitar as part of the Make and Play activity for this day.


We wrapped up the week with painting outside with Daddy. I personally avoid getting out paint most of the time because I dread the clean-up involved, so we saved up a lot of the daily activities that required painting for Saturday when Daddy would be home to help out. It turned into a great day of creating outside while we still had our shade in the front yard!

As an official Mother Goose Time Blog Ambassador,
I receive curriculum in exchange for posting about our honest and authentic experiences with the curriculum.
Click here for more information on Mother Goose Time.

 

Living Room Camping

It’s already July! I cannot believe it! Even though we don’t keep a traditional school year, we have still acknowledged that it is very much summer, and it’s flying by crazy fast!

We have found ourselves almost two weeks into this new month, and are just now breaking open our July Mother Goose Time box, Camping! We’ve been really looking forward to it, as my kids are dying to go ‘real’ camping.. My husband was able to go with a couple friends a few months back, and since then, they have been on us to go themselves. We even went as far as to purchase a tent, but had yet to take it out of the wrapping until this past week!

What better opportunity than a few holiday days off work for the hubs to break out the tent and have a practice run in our living room!

 

 

 

 

All in all, it was a great success (especially considering there were no bugs, minimal prepping, and I got to crash on the nearby loveseat).

So as I said, it was a great way to kick off the new theme!

With Peter being newly four, and already getting so many opportunities to learn alongside his older sister, I don’t feel pressured to make sure we are covering all the activities each month. I’m really just allowing our interests and natural flow to dictate our content right now, and I love it. I love that Mother Goose Time has already done so much of the work for me, so that I can just pick and choose what I feel like is a good fit for us right now. It so often feels more like playing than anything else, and yet they are learning so much! I get to enjoy my little buddy and be able to observe when he is turning a corner developmentally, just like I did this week!

Since I knew we wouldn’t have an opportunity to get to all the fun-filled activities for all 20 of our Daily Discovery Bags this month, I chose to highlight a few activities I thought Peter would really enjoy from Day 1. One of them was the journal activity for the letter “B.”

 

 

For one that has never been much into writing, I saw him take a very meticulous approach to tracing his “B’s” during the journal backpack activity. He also used the same precision to cut out his “B” card to create the flap for the backpack, as well as then proceeded in usual form in coloring in the entire image. He is not a scribbler. In fact, when his older sister even attempts to call one of his drawings as such, he takes great offense and we have to work through some conflict resolution before we can continue on. He takes a lot of pride in his work already, so it’s really neat to see this continue to develop and his personality come out more and more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I loved being able to witness this new change in his approach to writing, and honestly it was a relief as I was really anticipating quite the battle with him this year. So once again I am reminded to just relax and allow my kids to develop at the pace that comes naturally to them, continually exposing them to opportunities to engage differently with each topic. Peter would definitely still prefer letter manipulatives to actually writing, but he’s not as resistant as in the past, and I will take that as a major win!

And of course, like most days, we start out with some imaginative play with our math manipulatives. We collected these a few years ago when my daughter was 4, but they continue to be usual go-tos when it comes to designing the latest boat or animal.

This latest creation was entitled “The Boat of Dreams” by Natalie Harwood.

 

As an official Mother Goose Time Blog Ambassador,
I receive curriculum in exchange for posting about our honest and authentic experiences with the curriculum.
Click here for more information on Mother Goose Time.