Cooking with Kids: Apple Crumble Pie

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The apple orchard is one of my favourite Fall activities, I just love the way our annual family photos at the orchard chronicle the ever growing love and joy that is our family! And with the photo and all the apples comes some awesome baking too. This year we started with some apple pies!

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We used this recipe for the filling. I had the kids help count the apples we needed, use the slicer to slice them and stir the peeled wedges. I took care of the peeling and cooking the syrup.

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The kiddos spooned the apples into the pie crust and I poured the hot syrup over top.

We prepared this crumble topping and sprinkled it over each pie. And then baked the pies, be sure to place them on a baking sheet to catch any drippings.

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Enjoy these scrumptious pies, they pair especially well with vanilla ice cream! Yum!

Novel Study: Freckle Juice

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Little Momma LOVES to read. She loves choosing books to ‘read’ on her own, she loves choosing books for me to read with her and she loves listening to me read-a-loud – makes a book-loving Momma like me proud!

I have wanted to start reading chapter books with her for a little while now, but the chaos of our bedtime routine just wasn’t allowing the greatest of opportunities. And so choosing homeschool for her this year has been a blessing in how it has carved out some extra time to make this a possibility!

I decided to start small with a short and easy chapter book, Freckle Juice. It’s a cute little story (only 5 chapters long) about a little boy who wishes he had freckles and his endeavors of trying to get some for himself!

We read a chapter each day and then spend some time discussing (and checking for understanding) and then predicting what could happen next. From my studies (and even common knowledge really!) I knew there were great benefits to reading aloud material beyond a child’s reading level. However, after completing our first novel, I am blown away by its positive impact on Little Momma’s comprehension, recall and imagination, as well as her oral communication. Reading novels has opened up a whole new world of literature for us, and I couldn’t be more thrilled!

Some of our freckled fun upon finishing our novel:

Making ‘Freckle Juice’

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Following the same recipe the main character does in the story, Little Momma had a blast mixing up some Freckle Juice of her own!

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Paper Plate Andrew

We drew the main character, Andrew’s, face on a paper plate and then used blue bingo daubers to add some fake freckles. Then we counted how many freckles he had, mine had 9, while Little Momma’s ended up with 28!

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Retell

By sectionning a paper into thirds, I had Little Momma depict the beginning, middle and end of the story. She completed this task on her own and even added some words. they were not a definite beginning, middle and end, but they WERE in chronological order, so a great first step!

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I am am very excited to choose our next novel and continue to read, learn and love together!

Join us on our journey and please share any novels you have read and enjoyed with the young people in your life!

Letter of the Week ~ A ~

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Although my philosophy of letter learning is that they cannot be studied in isolation and should be learned in the context of words, as this is how we see them most often, we have a letter of the week at Mommy School.

Why, you may ask, do I do something opposite to what I just finished saying I believe in? Well, for one, we don’t study the one letter in isolation. Typically, we complete a letter craft, create a search and find sensory bin using items that begin with that letter, learn about the various sounds the letter makes in different parts of words (because the English language is crazy!) and plan our weekly fieldtrip to somewhere that begins with our letter. Sometimes, I include the letter in other ways throughout our week, but that’s often just a sweet combination of luck and coincidence!


Here’s what we got up to for Letter A Week:

Letter Dictionary:

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Each week we will be adding a page to our cumulative alphabet dictionary. For Mr Man, this consists of tracing both the upper and lower case letter and choosing a letter object from the sensory bin to draw. Little Momma also chooses an object (for letter A, she chose an item for both the long and short A sounds) and dictates a sentence to copy – “A is for Ariel and Alvin.” (we also take a photo of each child with their chosen item to add later to their dictionaries!).

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Letter Craft: A is for Alligator

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To make your own alligator: Simply cut the letter A out of green construction paper, then cut small, white triangles, to be added as teeth. Allow children to glue the teeth on and add googly eyes!

Field Trip: Aviation And Space Museum

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My littles get quite the kick out of finding our weekly letter ‘hiding’ at our field trips! This week letter A was spotted as an airplane, an (extremely serious!) astronaut, the Avro arrow, and Canadarm!

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Bush Kinder Mornings

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I follow some amazing peeps on Instagram and came across this idea of Bush Kinder from some UK mommies on there. From the moment I first saw it, I knew it was something I wanted to do in some form with my own littles.

When the decision came to homeschool Little Momma, I quickly began networking with some like-minded homeschool families and began to orchestrate a weekly gathering. My goal was to find some homeschool playmates and to spend at least one child-led morning out in nature each week.

We are only 2 weeks into the program and my goal has been achieved and then some!

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Our group focuses on one nature trail each month, with the thought that the children will have the opportunity to work towards mastery of their environment, as they explore and discover on their own terms. And let me tell you, it has been incredible to watch these little ones running wild and free, choosing when to charge forward and when to take in the beauty around them. WHAT they notice is so refreshing and eye opening, and I can only count myself blessed and priveledged to watch it unfold.

These are the moments that pull me away from my need for planning and curriculum and towards the unschooling movement. I see value in both ends of this continuum, but cannot argue the value of learning initiated and directed by a child (with some adult facilitation of course!).

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I am beyond excited to continue this adventure of learning and growing at Bush Kinder, alongside some amazing littles!

Art Appreciation: Van Gogh

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I love the arts, especially the creativity it evokes in young people. However, my own artistic ability, as it relates to visual arts, is very limited, and so I thought a fun way to integrate it into our school plan for the year would be through monthly Art Appreciation projects.

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For September our muse was Vincent van Gogh and a study in Impressionist Art.

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Material Required:

– pastels

– heavy drawing paper (we used cardstock)

– paper towel

– examples of Van Gogh’s paintings (we have some Artist cards and the kids chose to emulate his works The Starry Night and  Sunflowers that we used)

After looking at a number of Van Gogh paintings and labeling their ‘blurry’ appearance as Impressionism, the kids set off studying and replicating their own versions of their chosen paintings.

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Once they were satisfied with their work, they rubbed their drawing vigorously with the paper towel to give it the desired ‘blurry’ or ‘fuzzy’ outcome.

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I was so impressed with the finished products. They were beautiful interpretations of an incredible artist! My offspring may just have been blessed with better drawing skills than my own!

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The Starry Night, By: Mr Man

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Sunflowers, By: Little Momma

 Check back next month to see where our monthly Art Appreciation project takes us!

{Hint: We will be taking to more natural surroundings for inspiration!}

Name Activities

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Learning to recognize and then write their name is one of the earliest (and most exciting) literacy skills for young children. And even once they’ve mastered it, there is a pride that comes in celebrating it again and again! After all, don’t you want them to LOVE the name you spent countless hours mulling over and trying to agree upon with your significant other?!?

Here are some fun and easy (read: minimal prep!) name activities we have done to kick off the new school year!

1) Tracing and writing with pens, pencils, markers, highlighters, etc. – Simple, right?! But this will give you an excellent opportunity to assess your child’s pencil grip and fine motor capabilities, from there you can decide on appropriate letter size and whether tracing or copying is best suited for their level.

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2) Q-Tip Name Tracing – Put out a variety of paint colours (we used crayola glitter paint for some pizazz!) and have your children use q-tips to trace each letter of their name.

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3) Piercing Cardboard with Toothpicks – We had a few great layered cardboard pieces leftover from some IKEA packaging (you could also use Styrofoam or floral foam) that I printed each child’s name on. I then gave them a selection of plastic toothpicks and allowed them to pierce the letters of their names, naming each letter along the way.

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4) Erasing – I printed each child’s name on a mini-whiteboard and allowed them to erase each letter as they spelled out their name. Without realizing, this allows them to practice letter formation by undoing instead of doing for a change!

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5) Blocks – I labeled some mega blocks with the appropriate letters of each of the kids names, then I hid them in the rice table. The kids had to search for their letters and build ther name. Upon completion, I also had them count the blocks to determine the number of letters in their name.

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6) Wax Crayon/Candle and Watercolour Resist – Using a birthday candle (or a white crayon) I printed the kids names onto a sheet of paper and asked them to read it. Both of them told me I was mixed up and needed a pencil not a candle (silly mommy!). I set them up with some watercolour paints and told them they could just paint the paper, since my ‘pencil’ wasn’t working.The wax writing resists the watercolour causing their name to ‘magically’ appear! This one is lots of fun and always a big hit with the kids, as it really seems as though the writing appears from nowhere.

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7) Clothes Peg Matching – Print your child’s name on a sentence strip and then write each letter on a clothe peg. Allow your child to pinch the pegs over the matching letters on the sentence strip to spell their name. This is great for practicing the proper letter order of their name, as well sneaking in some fine motor skills.

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8) Wooden Stick Puzzle – Write one letter of your child’s name on individual Popsicle sticks (or larger wooden craft sticks). Mix them up and have your child order them to spell their name. Little Momma added a picture across her finished puzzle, to make it more ‘puzzle-like’, too.

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There you you have it – some great ways to encourage young writers about how fun writing can be, and all with their very favourite topic…THEMSELVES!!

ABC Search & Find Sensory Bag

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Do have a tactile learner? Are you looking for a fun way to learn or review letters and letter sounds with your child(ren)? This ABC search & find sensory bag is quick and easy to make, you can even have your child assemble the bag contents to add to the excitement!

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To get started, all you will need is:

  • 1 large size ziploc bag
  • foam alphabet letters
  • glitter or confetti
  • 1 bottle of hair gel (we used blue, Dollar Store brand)
  • clear packing tape

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Begin by selecting an assortment of letters. Little Momma helped assemble this one and chose to include the letters of both she and her brother’s names, as well as a random handful of upper and lower case letters.

Add glitter and the bottle of hair gel. Zip the bag, combine contents and remove air. Then fold the top over once or twice and secure it firmly, to avoid accidental spillage, with the clear tape.

And voilà – you have a new resource to add to your learning repertoire, it can even be included in your busy bag stash as an independent activity for your older toddler, preschooler or kinder-aged child.

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To use, simply have your child find a letter, then depending on your child’s level, ask them to name the letter and/or sound, think of a word that begins with that letter, string together simple words or challenge them to find and identify specific letters. The possibilities are endless!

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Morning Circle

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I love circle time. Something about singing and collectively doing one task makes my teacher heart happy! And so although most of my homeschooling is more relaxed, I enjoy starting our learning time with this little routine everyday! (Note: My kids also enjoy it…but sitting and singing isn’t for everyone 😉 )

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Here’s how our morning circle time normally goes (you will have to mentally interject with random questions and needs for the bathroom and a snack!):

– We start each day with Oh Canada and Prayer (it’s a teacher thing…) and I personally value both of these!

Morning message: Each morning I leave a message for the kids on the chalkboard. I allow Little Momma to point out any words she recognizes or can read and ask Mr Man to point out his name.

Welcome Song:  My kiddos really love to be formally welcomed!!

‘Good Morning Train’ (Tune: She’ll be Comin’ ‘Round the Mountain)

The good morning train is coming how are you? Choo Choo

The good morning train is coming how are you? Choo Choo

The good morning train is coming, the good morning train is coming, the good morning train is coming how are you? Choo Choo

We say hello to….how are you? Choo Choo

And we say hello to….how are you? Choo Choo

And we say hello to…. We say hello to… And we say hello to… how are you?

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Calendar Songs: We discuss each item before the song and I have the kids point along and try to make this as interactive as possible.

* count up to today’s date

* Identify the month

Months of the Year Song (Tune: 1, 2, 3 Little Indians)

January, February, March and April

May, June, July and August

September, October, November, December

Those are the months of the year.

Days of the Week song (Tune: The Addams Family Theme)

There’s Sunday and there’s Monday

There’s Tuesday and there’s Wednesday

There’s Thursday and there’s Friday

And then there’s Saturday

Days of the week (snap, snap)

Days of the week (snap, snap)

Days of the week, Days of the week, Days of the week (snap, snap)

* Identify what the day of the week is today

“Today is…” Song (Tune: Frere Jacques)

Today is (Monday), Today is (Monday)

All day long, all day long

Yesterday was (Sunday), Yesterday was (Sunday)

Oh what fun, oh what fun

* We check the calendar for any upcoming holidays! birthdays or special days. If something exciting is coming up we count how many days and discuss.

Weather song (Tune:??)

What is the weather, what is the weather

What is the weather doing today

What is the weather, what is the weather

What is it doing today

(Then we hold up our hands like binoculars and look our the window to check the weather and move our dial to select the appropriate weather on our board)

* select the season

* Read today’s date together and then cheer it

Sing the ABCs

Review our plan for the day

Daily read-aloud story

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I know that in writing this seems to be never-ending, but it only takes us about 15 minutes in all. And it sets a happy tone for our day!

Do you do a routine circle time? I’d love to hear about it!

Do you have different routines you stick to?

Becoming a Homeschool Mom

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Today I became an official homeschooling mom. After much discussion and prayer, we determined that Little Momma would benefit most from home instruction for her Junior Kindergarten year. This does not mean I think every other kinder parent who put their child on a bus or dropped them at school today made the wrong decision. It simply means that our children are different, our families are different and as a result, we may do things differently. So please don’t feel even for a moment that my decision passes any judgment on yours (and I ask for the same treatment in return please!). I am fully aware that each of us is on a mission to do what is best for our individual families and children, and you’re best, and mine is AMAZING!

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Our first day was not perfection…in fact it was far from it!  Mr Man was a feisty terror, Baby Girl is cutting a million teeth and we had some extended family health issues and an extra canine family member to add to the mix (nothing short of exciting over here will do!). And yet still, more than once today I stopped and commended myself for sticking with my gut and making this difficult, and against the grain decision. Although I’m still finding my bearings, I truly believe this is going to be a beautiful and fulfilling journey for all of us!

My *goal* is to journal daily for each child on what we touched on that day (for the assessment and reporting obsessed teacher in me!) and I must say I am flabbergasted at how much we covered for our first day. Check out our Instagram feed @mommyschool for details on today’s activities! And keep following along to see what we get up to in the coming year. I am looking forward to sharing our adventures!

I hope to find my groove in the coming weeks, but for now I feel a sense of peace, telling me that for the time being, we are exactly where we are meant to be ♥

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Happy Back to School (or not) to everyone! 🙂