Friday, 31 August 2012

The End is Nigh....of Summer Holidays

Are they leaves or lesson plans falling on my head?
I saw this cartoon and thought how apt it is for how I am feeling as we leave the last days of our Summer and move at breakneck speed towards the first day of our official first (full) academic year of official homeschooling on Monday! Phew that was a mouthful.

Much like the man in the picture, us homeschoolers can feel like we are "buried" under leaves. Only ours are leaves of paper. From notebooks, curricula, text books, downloads and so much more. It can seem a little overwhelming.

Take heart dear home-schoolling mums (and dads), you have done all the prep, you have bought the books, you have researched the styles and the methodologies. You have written and rewritten your schedule, you have typed up your lesson plans. You have done all you  can.

So as I peek out from under the pile of "leaves",  knowing that the Almighty Creator has led me to this point and will not abandon me now,  I offer you the same comfort.

You have prepared, now PRAY and then step out on FAITH!

Happy New Homeschooling Year to all my fellow home educators out there. May God be with us all


Tuesday, 28 August 2012

How I Organise My..... New Series

The idea for this blog started out as a "How I Organise my Homeschool" kind of thing. The more I thought about it, the more I realised that actually I am a person who thrives on, nay requires, being organised in all aspects of my life. So this little mini-series was born.

                                     HOW I ORGANISE MY...........

Over the next few weeks I will be covering topics such as;

- Planning
- Housework (Cooking /Cleaning, etc)
- Curriculum
- Homeschool Supplies
- Bambinas School/Artwork
- "Classroom" area
- Working from home

To start off with I think a quick disclaimer is in order. I am by no means the most organised, disciplined, SuperMum out there. This series is about what I have found that helps me in my constant desire to become more organised and thus more effective.

My hope is that in sharing my successes and failures, someone out there in blogland might find something that can be of use to them. Or at the very least help them avoid pitfalls!

So, today I will be focusing on my new love (don't tell Superman), and that is...drum roll please.....

My "hats" organiser. No not one of these...
                      One of these...
OK, so not terribly exciting but thanks to bloggers such as Danielle over at Domestic Serenity , who graciously shared the way she organises, I was inspired to invest in a 5-subject notebook. My one has tabs for each section where I can change the labels (this is really useful as the organiser develops and/or needs change). Currently I have divided it into;- Home-Education                - Household
- Blog                                    - Work 
I haven't thought of the fifth one yet. I call it my "hats" organiser because as a wife, mother, homeschooler, blogger, student, business owner, etc, I have many, many hats.

There is also a nifty pocket for loose sheets of paper and a ruler at the front. All for £2 from Asda (UK equivalent of Walmart - in fact owned by them). Result!

I really wanted a month to month calendar in mine so I printed a great one from Donna Young , I printed enough to take me to August 2013, and placed these in a plastic sleeve and stapled the sleeve to the front of my organiser.I like this because at the end of each month I can just change to a fresh sheet and write in what I need to remember for the month to come.

I then went through each section and made lists/notes on important things such as;

Home-Education; Subjects, Extra-curricular activities, Budgeting, Outgoings, Expenses, Field Trip ideas
Household; Monthly Bills, Meal Planning, Cleaning, Medicines, Vitamins & Supplements
Blog: Blog post ideas, Linky Party/Hop dates, Passwords, etc

It is still a work in progress and I'm adding to it as I see the need. I refer to my organiser a lot and everyone in the house knows its a "no-go zone" unless permission has been received.

Although I have only been using this organiser for the last month, I can already see the benefits in my daily life. I know where everything is. There is no more "Where did I put that list?" Superman knows where to put something he needs typed/sent etc. It gives me a place to put all my "hats" until I need one of them. It gives me a focus I didn't feel before. I realise now that I can be semi-organised in lots of different places and still feel generally disorganised. By putting everything in one place I am giving myself a jumping off point and a place to come back to.

I seriously encourage anyone reading this to try developing an organiser that fits your individual needs. There is no format, be creative and make it work for you.

I hope this has been helpful and that you will join me as this series develops.

Happy organising.

This is being linked to The Hip Homeschool Hop over at HipHomeschoolMoms. Hop on over.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

If Wishes Were Horses......Beggars Would Ride

 Ever spent a couple of hours on the internet looking at beautiful million pound homes? Or trailed round the shops looking wistfully at designer brands?

Or are you a simpler soul whose wishes run more along the lines of "I wish I were a little bit taller..."?

As I sit here contemplating my wish list, I hear my mums voice telling me "If wishes were horses, beggars would ride", a refrain I heard not infrequently in my youth.

So is it wrong to have a wish list? Does it show ingratitude for what we have been blessed with? Whilst I strongly believe that we should all spend some part of every day reflecting on the blessings we have received, here are some reasons I also believe strongly in having your personal wish list.

1) Something to aspire to; Keep it realistic but don't be afraid to dream!

2) A way of knowing where/who you want to be; Sometimes our wishes are really a manifestation of the
    kind of person or lifestyle we would like to be/have. Once this is know, it can be acted upon

3) Sets a "minimum expectancy"; Sometimes it is good to have a minimum standard for things, below which
    you simply will not go. This is especially true for relationships

4) Gives direction; If you wish to be a Doctor, there is no point studying mechanical engineering!

5) Sometimes wishing leads to reflection; When you wish, you may end up reflecting on the blessings you
    already have. Maybe you actually won't need a wish list

There are many more reasons why a wish list may be useful. Perhaps you could start a wishlist and see where it takes you?

Get on the horse!!!


Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Scrap-Lap Book?!! What?


To save space, and let me be honest because its easier, I have decided to "Scrap-Lap Book".

OK so this  may not become the hottest new craze in Home Education with its strange hybrid title, and I am sure I'm not the first to think of it, but it "does what it says on the packet". smile

Let me explain. Lapbooks generally look like this;

This is a great and extremely popular method of recording and demonstrating what a child learns during a Unit Study. For me though it always seemed like an awful lot of preparation. Also I was concerned about the storage issue.

I could foresee a shelf groaning under the weight of Lapbooks! Another issue is that Bambina is only 5, so she isn't really producing an awful lot of written work yet. This is absolutely fine but it means that our Lapbooks could possibly end up being filled with printed text from the internet or my writing (horror!).

My solution was to buy these scrapbooks from Amazon (I spend far too much money with them!) for £2.
 We are now using these to stick our Unit Study "products" in, we still use Lapbook inserts, but instead of lots of separates, we have a collection of topics in each book.Like below



So far this is working great. The first scrapbook is looking quite cohesive due to Bambinas current interest in Countries of the World. Will I still like it as much once it becomes a patchwork quilt of topics? Hmmm, we shall see.

So what do you think about "Scrap-Lap Booking"? Let me know.....


Sunday, 19 August 2012


                           To All My Fellow Muslims! 
                   May Allah Grant Us Forgiveness and 
                     Fill Us With Love For Humanity.


Friday, 17 August 2012

China Unit Study - Part 2

Following on from my last post about Bambinas China Unit Study this week, I thought I would post some pictures as we bring the topic to a close. She enjoyed this one thoroughly as it was much more crafty. The Chinese children cut outs are from Activity Village as are the China Map and the handprint dragon. Loving this site right now!

I got the China Lapbook from Homeschool share , an indispensable free resource. OK I'm shutting up now to let Bambinas work speak for itself. Hope you're inspired to try a China unit with your children, we had a blast.


At the time of posting we had not yet made the Moon Cakes from DLTK so please forgive my use of their picture.


Thursday, 16 August 2012

China Unit Study

Hi there,

July and August are quiet months for us. Instead of her normal schedule of activities, we just focus on topics that Bambina has shown interest in.

As stated in a previous post, we have a laminated sheet on the fridge where she can write any topic she has an interest in. The understanding is that once she sees it has been rubbed off by me then the topic is prepared and we will do it soon.

Recently I put a world map  up on the wall and it sparked a flurry of countries on her list. Last week we did India, which to be fair wasn't great, probably due to how overtired I was due to work commitments. So I am determined that this week China will be more fun.

Whilst looking for Chinese themed craft ideas I came across this on the Activity Village website Handprint Dragon. I printed off the template (head, head ruff, tail & feet) glued them onto card and we covered the parts in shiny silver paper and red tissue paper, then added googly eyes.

Then we got busy handpainting for the body.
Once they had dried and been cut out, we assembled our dragon.
We are also using the China Lapbook from Homeschool Share and library books on the country and its culture. We have been having lots of fun with this unit. Watch out for our version of Chinese Moon Cakes on Friday!


Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Things That Go BUMP! In The Night

Bambina is scared of the dark and of toys coming alive. Not unusual I am sure for her age, but it got me thinking.....

What is the best way for us as parents to deak with her fears? Is there something we can do make her feel more secure?
At night, she prefers that I stay with her until she falls asleep. Initially I resisted this for fear of setting a pattern that I couldn't break in the future, but then it occurred to me. Was it really a problem? Did it really take anything away from me to take a few minutes to snuggle? Afterall, all that's waiting for me is washing up or folding laundry.
In all our efforts to have children who "self-settle",  go to bed at exactly 7pm every night and stay in their own bed until 7am (by the way is that even possible?), have we forgotten that these are little people with fears, hopes and questions? Are we losing a golden opportunity to truly connect with our children? In our rush to get back downstairs to all those tasks we've left until the children are "out of the way", do we miss out on hearing those fears, hopes and questions that are floating around in their minds just before they fall asleep?
Our bedtime routine now looks like this; after all the necessary ablutions and nightime prayer, I read to her and then we snuggle and talk until she drops off. This twilight snuggle time is when I get to hear what is really going on with Bambina and provides me with the chance to dispel fears, encourage hopes and answer questions.
All of this has gone a long way to making Bambina feel more secure. Yes there is still laundry to be folded, washing to be done and all the rest of it but none of those things are going anywhere. Bambinas childhood on the other hand is racing away. All too soon she won't even want me in her room!
So with a little adjustment in my priorities, bedtimes have become easy.
3am in the morning however is another matter! Oh well, it's a work in progress!

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Bookworms in Da House!!!

Book Worm alert!! We've been over run!

We absolutely LOVE read-alouds here. Bambina will ask me to read to her sometimes two or three times a day. She especially enjoys being read to whilst she eats her breakfast and lunch. This often means my food goes cold but it is worth it for the look of joy on her face as she listens.

Although I am happy to read pretty much anything she brings me, and I give her free reign at the library (within reason). I also strive to ensure that we have a piece of Classic or Modern Classic literature on hand. I am a total "convert" to the idea that good quality literature is a must for any young child and that it is important to read this to them not just wait until they can read to themselves. I feel that Classic (or Modern Classic) literature opens the mind and broadens knowledge (language skills, vocabulary, history, world view, etc) in a way that what I call "Pop-Lit" can not.

Don't get me wrong we read our share of "pop-lit" but I don't expect her to really gain anything from it, and I have definitely seen the difference in Bambina's attention span, enjoyment level and story retention when reading classics. I have also noted an increase in her vocabulary which is obviously age-related but I also think may be related to the kind of vocabulary she is hearing. We always stop to discuss a word she hasn't heard before and see how we can use it in a sentence. Charlotte's Web was amazing for this. She would ask "what does ..... .mean?"just before Wilbur did in the story!

Thanks to several blogs I have read, I now give Bambina a few simple comprehension exercises after each Classic/Modern Classic read-aloud. We discuss what she liked or didn't about the story, answer questions, draw pictures and do related crafts. The pictures above are the books we have read so far. I'm not sure which one we will read next. maybe "Stuart Little" or "James & The Giant Peach"? Hmmmm....bookworm strikes again!

This is being linked up to this weeks Hip Homeschool Hop

Happy Hopping


Saturday, 4 August 2012

Mixing it up

I'm sitting here doing some planning. I know, obsessive.

Anyway it occurs to me that Bambina is really getting into writing down ideas of things she would be interested in learning about on her "Things I Want To Learn About" sheet which lives on the fridge (gotta love that laminator!).

So having given her the opportunity to have input in her curriculum I now have to incorporate it into my forward planning don't I? Aaggghh

 So far in our homeschooling journey I have been planning monthly themes or Unit Studies as far in advance as possible so that from one month to the next themes are ready to go.

This works great for me but for two reasons it may not be whats best for Bambina. One reason is that if I prepare them all ahead she has no input and just gets thematic "ready meals", and the other reason is she may have forgotten or lost interest in what she wrote down on her sheet if I take too long to slot it into my planning.

 Catch 22

I may have thought of a solution. In a bit of a light-bulb moment I thought why not do both?! "My" topic, planned within an inch of its life for three weeks of a month and then a topic that Bambina has recently put on her sheet for the fourth week.

For example; in September I am planning to do the Solar System, studying each planet and note-booking about them. Complete with the mandatory model. But instead of doing this for 4 weeks, I crunch it down a bit, and complete it in 3. Then for the last week of September we go to her sheet for inspiration. Of course I will be looking to prepare just a little if I can, I'm not great at the "seat of the pants" stuff, can you tell?

Perhaps this is a bit "have your cake and eat it" but..... I like cake! So I think we will try it for September and see what happens. Wish me luck.

Any of you already doing this? Wanna join me? Or do you think think I'm barmy? I'd love to hear from you.