Getting Ready

It is officially September and we are gearing up for our new school year! I’m pretty excited and optimistic about this year’s dynamic with two kiddos participating in the school day! We won’t get officially started until Monday, September 11th, so we are wrapping up our current theme and this mama is getting all her materials together in the curriculum closet (more on that later).

Over the summer, both kids have enjoyed Peter’s preschool curriculum, Mother Goose Time, and it’s allowed us to stay in somewhat of a school routine, but also with a low-key nature to give ourselves a little breather between school years. We’ve really enjoyed August’s theme, Superheros, and we were wrapping up some of the days today that we hadn’t gotten to yet! Day 15 was a big hit as we discussed Protecting Animals and about what animals are endangered.

I love the visuals that MGT includes each month. Here are some of the animals highlighted in Day 15 that are in the endangered species list. Peter was super sad to see a turtle on there.

Peter’s turtle, featuring the creative shell (a cupcake cup) and a fun new tool to us, wax sticks! These will definitely be a keeper in practicing our letters and numbers this year for Peter, and for another spelling manipulative idea for Natalie! I love that Mother Goose Time offers so many fun little resources.

As I mentioned above, I’m in “school nesting mode” and have been cleaning out my curriculum closet to make sure we have all our supplies easily accessible for this school year. It’s definitely still a work-in-progress (as you will see in a minute), but I’m so thankful for a little nook to be able to store all our supplies close to our dining room table (where we primarily land for school activities) that allows us to also close the door after school hours to offer some healthy boundaries between home life and school. While I want my kids to learn and enjoy learning 24/7, I also want to be able to give them (and myself) a break from the visual triggers that remind us of the day’s lessons so that we can have healthy rest and play.

So here is my closet (ta-da)!

Nothing much to look at, but it makes my heart so happy!!! The colorful rolling cart houses completed work (currently all the crafts and fun art activities that we’ve been doing this summer with Mother Goose Time), with magazine files (a bright find from Ikea) that hold Peter’s 4K workbooks, ranging from Alphabet and Number workbooks to Kumon cutting and tracing books. I have a major weakness for cute academic workbooks, and you’d be surprised what you can find at Dollar Tree, too! I have also snagged a few magnet boards from Target’s Dollar Spot over the summer to help with simple phonics practice, doubling as spelling practice for Natalie.

Next to the rolling cart is our art bin full of various supplies and do-dads, which gets pulled out on the regular. Hanging above it are two desk mats that I found on Amazon this summer, which are great table protectors (so we’re not engraving our daily math lessons into our new dining room table). Unfortunately we discovered the need for this after the grand kids visited Nanny & Pop’s house. Good thing grandparents like little reminders of their grand kids around the house, right? (Ugh, maybe not so much craved into their table.)

On the wall shelf, from left to right, we have the read-alouds that came with my daughter’s curriculum, a space next to them where my extra school supplies tote usually goes (was currently on the table when the picture was taken), and then we have our current DVD storage solution in 4 totes to the far right since our living room since we no longer have use for a TV stand, which is blinded out by our current light solution for our lightless closet. Like I said, work in progress!

As you enter the closet, on your left hangs this cute shelf I found a year ago at HomeGoods. This is where I keep my Teacher’s Guides and what I will be using on a daily basis, as it’s super accessible and allows me to organized by student. On top we have my teacher’s materials for Peter’s 4K curricula, Mother Goose Time and K4 Curriculum by Confessions of a Homeschooler. We did both with my daughter, Natalie, when she was 4 and I just loved aspects of both programs, so we’re going to see how it goes. I’ll definitely keep you posted!

On the bottom, we have my daughter’s curriculum’s teacher guide ( Adventures in US History by My Father’s World), as well as the teacher’s manual for Spelling by Sound and Structure, and I’ll probably be throwing my planner in there as well, which doubles as my lesson planner where I keep track of what we’ve accomplished each day.

And then dangling from the end there are some fun encouragment stickers to remind us all that we’re making imperfect progress and that we want to be encouraging teammates for each other!

As you keep walking into the closet, you’ll see our daily supplies on the blue rolling cart. This we roll out every morning for school, as well as the desk mats I mentioned earlier, to set up our spots at the dining room table. Next to the blue cart is a rolling drawer cart, which has all of the Mother Goose Time math and shape manipulatives that we have collected so far (each month we receive two new sets!), as well as a drawer for construction paper, and the top for small supplies like kid teezers and dice. Pretty soon I am going to have to find a new solution for our maniplatives that we will be adding each month! The kids also use these daily, so it’s great to have them accessible. On top of the drawer cart, in the white crate, is my daughter’s 2nd grade books. Most of what you see is recommended by My Father’s World, but we have added a few fun resources that we felt would supplement US History quite nicely!

Hello beautiful!

The middle shelf holds our Daily Learning Notebooks which will start out our daily routine, as well as Leading Little Ones to God, a book that a friend recommended that we will try out as a family devotional before Daddyman leaves for work. Because Natalie’s curriculum is Bible-based, and Peter’s curriculum has a Christian add-on called Experience God, I am excited that we will be encountering intentional conversation points during our day as we’re learning about God’s creation and our nation’s history.

I love that I have several Usborne books represented in this year’s choices, including my newest favorite, Not-Your-Everday Illustrated Thesaurus. I am a complete word nerd, so I’m totally going to be using this personally, but I was also thrilled to see the kids’ interest in it so far. It is going to be an awesome writing tool this year! Like pretty much everything you will find through Usborne, it is just so visually appealing, great quality, and so kid-friendly! I also snagged My First Storybook Writing Book & the Illustrated Elementary Science Dictionary.

And last, but definitely not least, is my poor little Mother Goose Time curriculum solution. HA! We’re literally working right out of the box these days. In the past, in our old house, I had two colorful rolling carts set up for each child, and intentionally separated out the week’s daily lessons ahead of time into its own drawer (so Monday was red, Tuesday was orange, etc.). However, I then ended up with a craft & art project storage problem, as I had nowhere to keep all the fun little creations they were making each day. So we then opted for the rolling cart to become a place for the completed work until we could have a Show-and-Tell with Daddyman, and then find out which crafts were heading towards Mommy’s keepsake bin and which ones did not (shhhh, don’t tell them). The daily bags then got filed into daily hanging files in a little clear bin. But right now, I don’t have room in my curriculum closet for this at the moment.

So we’re back at square one with storage for Mother Goose Time. I’m considering adding a filing cabinet to my closet, where I can easily separate the daily bags into 20 separate hanging file folders at the beginning of each month. But I am open to suggestions! I will definitely be checking out my fellow Mother Goose Time Blog Ambassador’s set-ups to see what I can glean!

So there ya have it! My nesting urge is still pretty strong, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we get a couple weeks into school and I realize that I need to change the whole thing! But the ultimate goal is to make our space functional for us day-to-day, accessible materials that enable and empower my kids to be able to engage and learn when the inspiration hits them. I will be there, right alongside them to help, but I love it when I see their eyes light up with new ideas and they can run by themselves to our closet to get what they need to make their idea come to life. So we’re working towards more of that. But I also know that I thrive when things are neat and orderly, and so for some self-care and teacher-care, it’s great to be able to organize a space that meets our needs!

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.


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.