Pinterest Tuesday

Pinterest Tuesday- Make your own moldable sand

Make Your Own Moldable Sand- The Boundless Homeschool

For this week’s Pinterest Tuesday, we made moldable sand!

We live in Florida.  The boys love going to the beach and building castles and rivers in the sand.  But we still have to drive an hour to go to a nice beach with nice sand.  Making a little bin of moldable sand so we could make castles at home sounded like a great idea!

Make your own moldable sand

I took some sand from the beach the last time we visited.  I probably could have just gathered the sand from my car and garage. We seem to always bring most of the beach home with us.

Moldable sand and cup

There are many different recipes out there that you can use.  Shaving cream, corn starch, water, and dish soap are some of the ingredients I read about. I decided to pick the recipe that used flour and vegetable oil.  Mostly because it keeps, and you don’t have to add water each time you want to play with it.

Scooping Moldable Sand

The recipe:

1- 5 cups of play sand (I used beach sand)

2- 3 cups flour

3- 1 cup vegetable oil

Mix the ingredients in a bin.  Stir together until all the lumps and bumps break up.  If it doesn’t feel moldable, add 1/4 cup of oil at a time until it reaches a moldable consistency.  Store in an air-tight container. 

Squishing Moldable sand

I had enough ingredients so I doubled the recipe.  I also figured most of the sand would end up on the ground (I was right), so why not make a little extra. I’m wondering how the recipe would have turned out if I used regular play sand you buy from the store, because the beach sand was already fairly moldable to begin with.

Moldable Sand

The recipe worked.  The sand was moldable, and the boys were able to build a few little buildings and houses (even a sand snowman).  Unfortunately it was such a hot day that it was almost unbearable to play outside.  And it’s not quite as much fun playing in the sand when you don’t have salt water to jump in when you need to cool off.  So we didn’t play with it for a terribly long time.  But, it does keep, and we will be able to play with it more when the summer ends.

***UPDATE:  A few months later, I opened our container of moldable sand, and it had molded!  It may be because I used sand from the actual beach vs store bought play sand.***

Classical Conversations, Homeschool Basics

Classical Conversations – An overview and why we are giving it a try

Classical Conversations - An overview and why we are trying it

Classical Conversations. To know God and to make Him known.

This mission statement for Classical Conversations (CC) is the biggest reason I was drawn to this form of homeschooling.  But it hasn’t been an easy decision.  Before I get into the details of why we decided to give this program a try this coming school year — and why I was totally against it last year — I will write an overview of this homeschool community to give you a basic understanding of how it works.

There are many different forms of homeschooling.  Traditional, classical, Charlotte Mason, unit studies, unschooling, and electic are a few.  If you can’t tell by the name, Classical Conversations is based on the classical education approach.  The focus of classical education is how a student learns.  The following information has been adapted from the Classical Conversations Foundations Guide, written by Leigh A. Bortins, the founder of Classical Conversations.

Classical Conversations is not really a co-op, but a community. The communities are broken up by ages, so the classes are small. All Classical Conversations’ communities meet once a week for 24 weeks.  There are three cycles.  Every student, of any age, will be learning the same material.  Just at their own level.  Which makes it tremendously helpful when you have multiple children learning at home.

Classical Conversations (and classical education) divides learning into 3 stages: the Grammar stage, the Dialectic stage, and the Rhetoric stage.

Classical Conversations Programs

Grammar Stage

The Grammar stage is not ‘English Grammar’. It is the time in a child’s life where they learn by memorizing facts.  The age for this learning is around K4 through 6th grade.  In Classical Conversations this program is called Foundations.  Here tutors (CC moms who are paid to to lead a community group) help load facts from a variety of interesting subjects.  I know more about the Foundations program because of the age of my kids.  I won’t be able to go into detail on the community day for the other CC programs.

Each week during community day the students review previous memory work, get introduced to new memory work, practice public speaking, complete a science experiment, and work on a form of fine arts (art work and music-playing the tin whistle, or learning about classical composers).

Dialectic Stage

The Dialectic stage is when the student learns how facts relate.  This CC program is called Essentials, and is around the 4th through 6th grade age.  From what I’ve read and been told, here the students really start to focus on writing. In the Foundations Guide, it says “the tutors model the grammar and dialectic tools of learning in English grammar, writing, and math drills. [The students] develop mental skills to sort and classify facts and learn the tools they need to become effective writers.”

There is a second program in the later years of the Dialectic stage (7th and 8th grade) called Challenge A and B. Here the students become much more independent, and the material becomes more challenging.  They focus more on group discussions as they learn logic and debate.

Rhetoric Stage

The Rhetoric stage is where the student begins applying the facts they’ve learned in the grammar and dialectic stages.  This CC program is Challenge I, II, III, and IV, and the age is 9th-12th grade.  Since I really only have young kids, and not much experience with CC in the older years, I am going to quote the Foundations Guide again.  The students “not only discuss, but learn to lead discussions.  Students can fully express themselves in creative, meaningful, and practical applications of subjects”.

The Bible even acknowledges these stages. In Proverbs 24: 3-4, they are referred to as knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.

Classical Education - Stages of Learning

Now, that most of the basics of the classical education has been explained, I will start talking about our idea of it.

I first learned about CC when Tanner just turned 3.  I thought the idea of a community was awesome, and I loved the idea that CC put God in the center of all the different subjects.  But there were a lot of things about Classical Conversations that I didn’t understand, and due to that misunderstanding, completely pushed me away from wanting to join. There’s lots of memory work.  And it seemed odd to me to make a child memorize so much stuff, but not really learn it.  Also, they learn Latin.  LATIN!  Is that crazy to anyone else?  I also figured I could put my own curriculum together.  You have to use separate Language Arts and Math curriculum anyway.

The turning point.

It was almost like God was leading me to this.  It happened fairly quickly. I was struggling a bit trying to figure out how to put my own curriculum together.  I wanted to make sure I covered what I needed to but didn’t over do it.  I was literally searching for a book to help me learn about gathering my own curriculum when I took a Facebook break.  And while I was scrolling through my newsfeed a homeschool mom shared a blog post from Family Style Learning about Bullet Journaling.  I didn’t really read the title, I just glanced at the pictures and saw how cool it was ( I love journaling).  So I clicked on it and began reading it.  Which lead to me being blown away by what the upper level Challenge students do.  Which then lead me to do more research on Classical Conversations.

After a few days of researching and reading, I finally understood how the Classical model works.  How the memorization in the younger years is NOT actually a waste.  I learned how the three cycles work well for the students.  For an example, Tanner will start cycle 3 this next school year.  Then he will be in cycle 3 again at age 8/9.  He will re-learn the information in a completely different way at that time. He will start asking more questions about the material because he will remember it from the first time.  So we will then be able to dive deeper with learning the material he is most interested in.

After learning more about CC,  I even realized that THIS IS HOW I LEARN!  My mom would help me memorize skip counting when I was younger, and I still remember it to this day.

Let’s give it a try!

So, I figured this was the best time to figure out if this will work for us.  If it does, I want the boys to have as many years as they can with this form of learning.  If it doesn’t work, it was only one year, and a kindergarten year at that.  Also, we don’t just have to memorize the Foundations memory work.  If there is something Tanner is interested in, we can dig a bit deeper with more activities.  There is CC Connected online where other CC parents and tutors create and post activities and printables for the students to use.  And Pinterest, of course.

This next school year is cycle 3.  Tanner will be learning about the USA in History and Geography, and Anatomy and Chemistry in science.  All of which he loves.  With CC you have to choose your own language arts and math curriculum, both of which we already have. I’ve heard that you either really like CC or you don’t. So why not give it a try?  I’m really looking forward to this community.  I, personally, need a community of other experienced homeschool parents.

This was a crazy long post.  But there was a lot of information I wanted to share.  Next week I will be attending the 3 day Classical Conversations Parent Practicum.  It will help me understand this program, and classical education, much more.  I am planning on sharing my experience after I complete it.

What about you?  Are you interested in Classical Conversations?

 

 

 

Pinterest Tuesday

Pinterest Tuesday- How to make your own bouncy balls

How to make your own bouncy balls- The Boundless Homeschool

It’s time for another Pinterest Tuesday!

Even though there is less than 2 hours left of Tuesday.  Today the boys and I created our own bouncy balls!  I figured this would be an exciting project to do because of the amount of measuring and mixing involved.  My oldest is learning about measuring, and my youngest has always loved watching and helping me cook.  So this was definitely something they wanted to do.  And what kid doesn’t like a bouncy ball?

Since we do many activities like this one (homemade slime, mostly) I already had a box of borax on hand.  It’s actually the same box I’ve had since my 5 year old was 1.  It still mostly full too! All the other ingredients are usually found around the house. Especially in a homeschooler’s house.

Ingredients for DIY Bouncy Balls

What you’ll need:

  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 Tbsp borax
  • 2 Tbsp white (liquid) glue
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • Food coloring
  • Optional: Plastic disposable cups and plastic forks.  The clean up was so much easier because I could just throw everything away instead of scrubbing cups/bowls.

What we did:

I definitely did not make this  “instagram worthy”.  No high definition, posed pictures here.  I am actually surprised I remembered to take any pictures at all.  I could have taken over a bit more and made the balls perfectly round and smooth, but I really let my boys do most of the work.  This is for them, after all.  I made one whole recipe for each boy.

DIY Bouncy Balls- Mixing Ingredients

DIY Bouncy Ball

In the first cup, we mixed the warm water and the borax.  In the second cup, we mixed the glue, cornstarch, and food coloring.  Once everything was mixed thoroughly, we poured the borax mixture into the glue mixture and stirred.  It hardened almost instantly.

Mixing ingredients for DIY bouncy balls

After a few seconds of stirring, I pulled out the glob with the fork and squeezed it in my hand a few times.  Just like the slime you can make with borax, you need to knead it a bit.  Once the ingredients seemed to bond together I let my boys roll and squish them until they formed into a ball they approved of.  Only once the glob mixture was too slimy to bond together.  So I dunked it back into the water a few times and that did the trick.

Our four balls are a lot larger than I was expecting.  You could easily make two out of each.  Next time I will half the recipe to make more but smaller bouncy balls.

Oh, and YES! They actually do bounce! We stored ours in plastic bags.  I will come back in a week or two and update here how they hold up.  Another Pinterest Tuesday win!

Edit: They did not hold up very well.  They are basically slime, so they do flatten out.  It was very hard to actually roll them back out, but that may have been because ours were so big to begin with.  Also, if any of the bouncy balls are touching while stored, the colors will bleed into one another.

Pinterest Tuesday

Pinterest Tuesday- Colorful Fizzy Liquid Chalk

Fizzy Liquid Chalk- The Boundless Homeschool

Pinterest Tuesday

That name may change, but for the meantime, I am calling this new series of posts “Pinterest Tuesday”.  My boys always love the days where we create new fun things.  I’ve been pulling ideas from Pinterest for as long as I have been a mom  (is there anyone who doesn’t use Pinterest?).  Usually they all work out well, or I can at least salvage it and make it work out in the end.  Rarely have we had any fails.

Often times I find myself avoiding these fun experiments because of the prep time and the MESS.  And I just want to kick myself because these are fun memories my boys are creating.  They LOVE this stuff.  So I am forcing myself to step out of my cleanish comfort zone.  We are going to attempt (at least) one Pinterest activity every week.

This week I knew I wanted to do something fun that the boys could help me prepare, but preferably something outdoors. I need to slowly ease into the mess thing, right? I decided on liquid chalk, because it hadn’t rained in forever, and the old chalk on our driveway, from a month and a half ago, was fading out.  A few pins mentioned using vinegar to make everything fizzy, so that’s what we went with.  Tanner is in a big chemistry phase at the moment, and this is right up his alley.

Some pins used squirt bottles, others used balloons.  I went the muffin tin and paint brush route, for Wesley mostly, since he enjoys painting.  I’ll most likely invest in squirt bottles for future activities.

The recipe I settled on was simple.  Equal parts baking soda, corn starch, and water.  I used 1/3 cup of each ingredient, for each boy.  It seemed a little thin to me so I added more baking soda.  But I wouldn’t do that again.  I ended up having to stir it a lot to get every thing to mix, and if anyone has played with ooblek, or other non-newtonian liquids, it’s hard work stirring that.  It would have been fine sticking with the original recipe. Once it was all mixed, I poured the liquid into the muffin tin and let my boys choose which colors they wanted to use.  We used what I had on hand, which was food coloring.  But I have ordered washable liquid watercolors to use next time, so I won’t have to worry about it staining clothing.

Mixing Fizzy Liquid Chalk

Colorful Fizzy Liquid Chalk

Painting Fizzy Liquid Chalk

The boys went to town painting the driveway.  I was actually surprised how vivid some of the colors were! I’m not sure if that’s due to the gel food coloring we used or the powders in the recipe.  Once the chalk was dry, I gave the boys little cups of vinegar and an eyedropper.  They loved how the chalk fizzed when the vinegar touched it.  It took Wesley a little longer to grasp that concept, he preferred just pouring the vinegar out all at once.

Fizzy Liquid Chalk Painting

Fizzy Liquid Chalk Paint

Fizzy Liquid Chalk

The driveway was so colorful.  The boys were so proud of their creations.  And because it just makes since, the sky opened up and we had a downpour rain storm, literally within minutes of finishing.  So everything, including the chalk from last month, disappeared.  But the boys enjoyed playing in the rain, and it made clean up that much easier.

So I’d say our first week of Pinterest Tuesday was a success!  Making this fizzy liquid chalk was fun for all of us!

Let's Get Real Wednesday

Let’s Get Real Wednesday #2

I have one kid who is getting over an aggravating cough, and another who woke up with a fever and is feeling pretty crumby.  So since today is going to be a take-it-easy kind of day, I figured it would be a good time to write a “Let’s Get Real Wednesday” post.

As you can tell, it’s been over 3 weeks since I’ve written anything.  I have been told many times that I always have it together and do all this awesome stuff for my kids and their schooling.  I don’t want people to think that about me.  It’s not true.  I struggle, a lot.  My last post was written at the beginning of April.  We were getting close to finishing a deployment.  I was in over my head with stress.  I couldn’t keep up with the household chores, the boy’s messes, school/blog stuff, my Etsy shop, time with friends, time for myself (gym), and other activities.  My anxiety was at an all time high, and once dinner and the boy’s bedtimes came I was so spent that I just needed to watch TV and do nothing, or go to sleep myself.

By the grace of God I got through that funk in time for Easter, and my husband’s homecoming.  This last week we’ve been spending quality time with him.  It’s such a strange feeling.  Spending months away from him creates a new routine.  Then once he is home, he has a week off from work, which is just long enough for us to get used to having him home all day.  And now he’s back to work during the days, which has us readjusting to a new routine again.  But starting all over, with a fresh mind, is exciting.  I’m not stressed anymore and I’m looking forward to creating more fun stuff for our homeschool.

That’s enough venting for now.  Time to get back into the school groove!

Printables

{Free Printable} Egg Letter Matching

Egg Letter Matching Free Printable

I promise I have other posts planned that involve more than a printable.  I’ve just been so ‘on-the-go’ lately that making printables have been sort of, relaxing?  I’m also making them for my boys, and I figure I might as well share them with you.  I will be writing a post about Classical Conversations, soon.

In the meantime, I want to share the Egg Letter Matching cards I created for Wesley.  They’re not perfect, because I literally made them in a spur of the moment.  He’s working on learning all of his lowercase letters right now, and with Easter coming up soon, I wanted to create something that was themed a little bit.

He likes these a lot.  I was worried he would just look at the colors to determine the matching egg, but he is actually focusing on the letter at the moment.  I may have to create another set with just one or two colors down the road.

Egg Letter Matching

Printables

{Free Printable}- Preschool Measurement Clip Cards

Free Measurement Clip Cards- The Boundless Homeschool

Measurement Clip Cards Pre-K

More Printables!

Yes, I really do enjoy making these!  There are two more preschool aged printables coming, and a pre-k/kinder aged printable on it’s way.  I love creating these for my boys, and it makes my heart so happy to see others using them, too!

Free Measurement Clip Cards

I wanted to make some more clip cards for Wesley. He’s starting to become interested in math (he tries to join in while Tanner works on his Math-U-See curriculum), so I created these measurement cards.  He looks at the image, and measures how long it is by counting the blocks.

Measurement Clip Card

If you’ve read my Tot-School post, you know I like having trays and bins set up so the activities are easily accessible.  The clip cards are small, and Wes will play with them often throughout the day, if I make them available to him.  He was a bit tired of using the actual clothespins the past couple of days, so we decided to make little balls of playdoh to squish onto the correct answer.  Even though this was much too easy for Tanner, he wanted to join in as well.

Measurement Card activity

Click below for the free download.  And stay tuned, there will be more preschool math cards coming soon.

Measurement Clip Cards (Preschool)

 

Homeschool Basics

Tot School- What we did in our home

“Play is the beginning of knowledge.” -George Dorsey

When I wrote my ‘Why We Homeschool‘ post I explained how Tot School is really how I fell in love with the idea of homeschooling.  I loved being able to watch my children learn.  And I truly loved the fact that it was all play based.  It is so important for children to play.  There is absolutely no need for anything structured so early. I still have a mostly play based homeschool and my 5 year old is doing kinder/1st grade work.  Just because it’s “play” doesn’t mean it’s not learning.  In this post, I will show you a lot of examples of activities we did when my boys were doing Tot School. (Disclaimer, the picture quality will not be that great.  Most of these pictures were taken on a phone several years ago. Also, there are quite a few ideas with pictures in my Homeschooling with Toddlers post)

Tot School Trays

So, make it fun!

Make it colorful, make it noisy, make it messy! The one thing both of my boys loved the most, and still do, is sensory activities.

The very first sensory boxes I made for both boys were color based.  Each week we would spend learning one color.  You don’t have to have anything special.  With Tanner, I literally walked around the house and gathered little things that matched the color we were learning.  Toy cars, pipe cleaners, small stuffed animals, blocks, flash cards with colorful pictures, etc.  The fun came as the kids dumped everything out.  I also love using sensory bins with a”base”, such as: dry beans, large buttons, string, dry oatmeal, dried and colored rice and pasta. I then throw little manipulative toys, cards, etc into the base.  It can be a natural/nature learning experience as well, using sand, rocks, dirt, snow, and water/ice.

Tot School Sensory Bins Color sensory bin collage

I created a lot of different activities for the boys to do as well.  A favorite was popsicle stick shoebox puzzles.  I made one with colors, and one with shapes.  I also made a few puzzles that had velcro and magnetic backs.  It helped little fingers assemble the puzzle easier.  There is no need to spend a lot of money on this either.  You can even print out a coloring page twice.  Color and cut out the pieces of one, and let the child place the colored pieces on top of the black and white picture (like in the garden/flower image below).

Tot School Color Trays Tot School Shoe Box Puzzles

Tot School Activities

In the above picture you can see the oil drip pan we purchased for under $15.  We used that as a magnet board.  I hot glued magnets to colored pompoms, and sewed magnets into little felt shapes.  I always incorporated the colors and shapes each week.

Some other manipulative toys I created were really easy and made from trash.  An empty, clean parmesan cheese container is perfect for fine motor.  We used large popsicle sticks for the large opening, and coffee stir sticks for the small openings.  I also used a cleaned icing tub and a baby puff container.  I cut a small hole in the lid for fine motor control. The boys pushed pompoms into the containers through the hole.  Another idea, flip a colander over and have your toddler try to stick pipe cleaners into the holes.  It’s hard work for a 1-year old.

Tot School Fine Motor

Felt is a fun item to use in tot school, as well.  You can create your own felt board and felt pieces.  Some people use pieces to tell stories.  I used felt to learn shapes.  You can create a body outline and cut out pants and shirts out of different colored felt and allow your child to match the clothing on the felt child to the clothes he or she is wearing.

Tot School Felt Shapes

Some tips:

Don’t make tot school (or even preschool) structured.  It will only cause issues in the future for both you and your child.

Some topic ideas: colors, shapes, numbers, and holidays

Keep it simple.  Don’t force too much in one day.  Sometimes our learning was 10-15 minutes, and that is ok! Don’t get frustrated, their attention spans are so short.

Make the activities easily accessible.  Put the activities on trays, or in bins, on a low shelf or table top.  You may find your child playing with them many times throughout the day.

And once again, because I can’t stress this enough, make it fun! Play, play, play!

Tot School Shoe Box Puzzle

 

 

Printables

{Free Printable} Animal Counting Clip Cards

Free Printable- Animal Counting Clip Cards

I have always loved using clip cards in our homeschool preschool.  It is a great way to implement a little fine motor practice into an activity.  And these animals!  They’re so cute!

Free Animal Counting Clip Cards

Don’t worry if you don’t have any/enough clothespins.  You can always use little balls of playdoh to push onto the correct answer, or use a manipulative to cover up the number.  Or, just let your child use their finger to point.

Animal Counting Clip Cards

I’ve created two sets of the animal counting clip cards.  One is in color, and one is black and white, to help save on printer ink.  I hope your children loves these as much as mine do!

Happy preschooler

Animal Counting Clip Cards (Color)

Animal Counting Clip Cards (Black and White)

Printables

{FREE Printable} Capital Letter Mazes

Free Capital Letter Mazes

I’ve used letter mazes for a couple years.  It was something Tanner enjoyed doing in his homeschool preschool lessons, but it wasn’t something he loved.  I didn’t start using them until our second year of preschool when Tanner was 4.

Capital Letter B Maze

Lately the boys have requested to watch the ‘Minion’ movies (Despicable Me 1 and 2, and Minions).  Everyday during free time.  So I found a printable unit activity from 1+1+1=1 that was all minion themed.  Wesley loved the entire unit.  But the page he continued to go back to, over and over, was the letter maze.  He did it close to 10 times back to back.  Forward and backward.  I immediately knew I needed to create my own letter mazes for him, A through Z. This is such a great activity for fine motor skills, and pencil grip and control.  Wesley still has a way to go with working on his grip, but he’s trying.  Watching his brother “do school” for all his life has really motivated him to join in! He’s so happy to be old enough now.

Capital Letter B Maze - The Boundless Homeschool

When I showed the pages to him this morning, he was so excited!  He wanted to do every single one.  After trying to contain the pages on the desk for him to redo, I decided to throw them all into a 3-ring binder.  He is currently carrying it around with him, and doing a page here and there in between playing with his brother.

Free Letter Mazes - The Boundless Homeschool

I will be creating lowercase letter mazes and number mazes to add to these capital letter mazes soon! I’m really enjoying creating printables, so if there is anything you’d like to see, let me know!  I have plans for quite a few new things!

I hope you enjoy! Please, if you print these out, take pictures! I would LOVE to see them in action!

Download here: Capital Letter Mazes