Chalk Stencil

I recently did a random art project with my younger two.  This is from the book Preschool Art by MaryAnn Kohl.  First you put masking tape down on a piece of cardboard (we used a mailing envelope) in any design.  You can put the pieces down so that they make a nice design (the example in the book is in the shape of a flower).  We chose to place ours randomly to make it easier.  Then you rub your chalk onto a wet sponge, then press the chalked sponge all over the cardboard.  The chalk is supposed to stick to the cardboard.  We had a hard time getting very much of the chalk to transfer to the cardboard, so we ended up colouring directly on the cardboard and then smearing it all together with the wet sponge.

Tape and Chalk Stencil

After you are done you can peel off the masking tape to see your design.  The kids loved peeling the tape off and it was good for strengthening little fingers.

Tape and Chalk Stencil

They loved drawing with the chalk, so we got out the spray bottle to experiment with wet chalk.

Drawing with ChalkDrawing with Chalk

Any project that involves a spray bottle is good in their book.

Drawing with Chalk

Wet chalk makes such bold, dark lines.

    Drawing with ChalkDrawing with Chalk

Jitterbug’s grip is so much better with these short pieces of chalk, I may have to get him using some short pencils when he is writing and see if that helps correct his awkward grip.

Drawing with ChalkDrawing with ChalkDrawing with Chalk

Easy project and not too messy!

Gilgamesh the King

Story of the World Chapter 8 on the Assyrians tells the story of Gilgamesh the King.  We used this book by Ludmila Zeman to learn the story. 

Gilgamesh the King

I had pinned this post from Creekside Learning some time ago to remind me to do this with the kids.  We rounded up our various props and acted it out as I read the story to them. 

Gilgamesh the King

  We used a lovely combination of toob animals & people, lego, blocks, and Little People.

Gilgamesh the KingGilgamesh the King

Gilgamesh the King ruled the city of Uruk with quite a heavy hand.  Here he is ordering his people to build an extremely tall wall around the city.  They were quite afraid of him as I’m sure you can tell.

Gilgamesh the King 

Meanwhile out in the forest lived Enkidu with his animal friends.  (Enkidu was really part man, part beast but I didn’t have one of those laying around!)

 Gilgamesh the King

I was too busy reading the story to get good pictures of the rest.  Basically Gilgamesh becomes threatened by Enkidu and uses the beautiful Shamhat to lure Enkidu to the kingdom so he can destroy him.  Quite the tale, it becomes a love story but has a wonderful battle scene where Enkidu…well, you’ll have to read it if you don’t know the story already.

 Gilgamesh the King

Apparently at the end the people of Uruk stood on the walls to celebrate.  At least in our house they did.

Gilgamesh the King

Ladybug busied herself building her own towers.  And she refused to smile for me but did give me this look of…um…utter satisfaction with herself and her towers.

Gilgamesh the King

There are two more books in the series.  For now we enjoyed the first one the best.  The other two are a bit much for the younger crowd, we will revisit them in the future as there is so much to discuss in these.

The Revenge of IshtarThe Last Quest of Gilgamesh (The Gilgamesh Trilogy)

Teaching Virtues

Here’s our new We Choose Virtues wall.  It’s in our kitchen right next to our comfy futon sofa (with the wonderfully coordinated throw pillow) and right above our read-aloud basket.

We Choose Virtues

Each week we choose a new virtue to study, the kids take turns choosing.  Last week Jitterbug chose Hockey Stick Nick, I am Honest.  I am a truth teller!!  Jitterbug wants to know when he can get his own hockey stick.  I cut down some sheet protectors and tacked them to the bulletin board to hold our flashcards and parenting cards.

We Choose Virtues

The first day, during our snacktime, we pick our virtue for the week.  We read the catchphrase, antonym, and Bible verse.  We read the Virtue Kid’s story from the back of the parenting card and discuss what the virtue means.

We Choose Virtues

The rest of the week: We colour the Virtue Kid colouring page.  Here’s the one we did for Penny Jenny.  Ladybug for some reason refuses to do these.  Jitterbug likes to do two for each Kid, and Mama likes to do one too.  :)  This bulletin board hangs above our art table in our schoolroom.  I might move these to hang in our kitchen with sticky tac above the bulletin board in there instead.  I will keep all these for their notebooks, I may bind them together into a finished book for each of them.

We Choose Virtues 

Something we need to incorporate: which of the three rules does the virtue fall under?

We Choose Virtues 

The extras on the bulletin board are printed from the teacher’s handbook.  The handbook details how the program works, which is good, but it’s a bit lacking in terms of detailed ideas for teaching each individual virtue.

We Choose Virtues

To fill in the gaps I’ve been using Kids of Integrity from Focus on the Family (Canada). 

Kids of Integrity

This is a free program.  (Note that it is about growing Godly character, this wouldn’t be for secular use.)  Their lessons match up really well with We Choose Virtues.  There are some extra virtues, we will probably study those as well.  For each virtue you can download the whole lesson (click the green ‘Download PDF’ button toward the top of the lessons) or just the sections you need.  There are loads of suggestions in here: prayers, memory verses, practical activities, Bible stories with discussion questions.  The lessons work for all ages, just pick and choose what you want to use for your kids.  Each day I pick something from the lesson to discuss.  For perseverance we talked about Noah building the ark.  For honesty we talked about Abraham saying his wife was his sister.  I also read them some of the memory verses.  If I can find a picture book or story related to the virtue we read it also.  But I’m finding that after we’ve studied the virtue it is easy to point it out in stories we read.  He was really patient, wasn’t he?  Do you think she was a truth teller?

I’ve also downloaded some of the free character studies from Confessions of a Homeschooler.  Each virtue has four days of lesson plans including Bible stories, memory verses, and activities.  Between these and the lessons from Kids of Integrity, there are plenty of ideas for teaching each virtue.

I was glad that Jitterbug chose I am Honest this week.  He’s been lying a lot, but I really don’t think he understands what it means to lie yet.  He just tells us what he wants to be true.  Sometimes I’ll tell him that what he said was a lie, and he's incredulous.  “That’s a lie?”  He tells me that I’m lying if he doesn’t like what I’m telling him.  He’s still figuring it out.  He’ll get there one day, and in the meantime Hockey Stick Nick is his hero!  (He glanced up at me just as I snapped this picture so I go that cute tongue-hanging-out-in-concentration look.  And the dimples.  Love the dimples on this kid.)

We Choose Virtues

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

P is for Penguin!

P is for Penguin Pre-K Pack

Some time ago I created this Pre-K Penguin Pack which we never ended up using.  I had big plans to use it as a preschool supplement for my little ones to use while we were reading Mr. Popper’s Penguins.  We were going to study Antarctica at the same time and just have some fun learning about penguins.  I’m still hoping to do this at some point.  I ended up postponing Mr. Popper’s Penguins until later this year but now I forget why.  In the meantime, I’ve got this file to share!  (Download link at the end of the post.)

P is for Penguin Pre-K Pack

If you are familiar with Pre-K packs from all over blogland then most of these worksheets will be a familiar format.  For our use, I purchased some display books (similar to these) that are full of sheet protectors.  Many of the pages from the pack I print on regular paper and they go into this display book for the kids to use with dry-erase markers.  That way we can erase them and they can use them over and over again.  These are the pages I print on regular paper for the notebook (this is the same order as the pages in the file):

~ Notebook Cover Page ~ Which One is Different ~ Colour the Penguin ~ Pre-Writing Practice ~

~ Penguin Maze ~ Penguin Counting ~ Penguin Graphing ~ Penguin Counting Clip Cards ~

~ Find the Letter P/p ~ What Comes Next? ~

You may wish to laminate the clip cards, sometimes I use them as worksheets instead.  The What Comes Next? page can be printed on regular paper and either used as a worksheet or as a cut-and-paste exercise.  The last pages I print on cardstock, laminate and cut apart:

~ Penguin Number Strip Puzzle ~ Letter Pp Play-dough Mat ~ Letter Pp Sorting ~

~ Penguin Magnet Page ~ Penguin 4-piece Puzzles ~ Shadow Matching ~

P is for Penguin Pre-K Pack

Jitterbug loved his notebook at the beginning of the year.  Once I had this pack made it’s been easy to create a page here and there for whatever theme we are working on.  Ladybug also loves to have her own notebook, I just don’t put quite as many pages in hers yet.  I created this file according to what my kids were enjoying at the time, I hope they will be of use to some of you.  When we do our penguin unit later this year I’ll be sure to post some links to other resources.

This file can be downloaded here and is also listed on my Printables page.


Have you heard of Family Time Fitness?  It’s a fitness curriculum to be used at home (actually I think they make a school version also).  It’s one I’ve been looking at purchasing and this week it’s on sale at Currclick for $47 USD.  The price at the Family Time Fitness website is $79, so this is a great price.  The price includes lifetime access to program updates/revisions.  With the curriculum you get access to video demonstrations for each lesson, that makes it about priceless for me!  There are 260 planned lessons that last 30-45 minutes each, 3-5 days per week.  Have a look at their site to find out more.  Also, here’s a link to a review at Confessions of a Homeschooler.

Not long ago I was out for a walk with the kids and passed the local Christian private school (where my kids would likely attend if they were to go to school).  I saw some kids outside for a PE lesson and it made me think about how we’re going to do that kind of thing at home.  The boys play soccer, which is a winter sport here and spans two school terms (so weekly games and practices for about six months).  They have weekly year-round swim lessons (very common in Australia).  Occasionally they go for a run or a bike ride with their dad, other than that it’s just playing, jumping on the trampoline, riding their bikes around home.  There’s a local kids gym that I’ve thought about signing them up for once Jitterbug turns five (not too far away!).  We tried a tumbling class but it didn’t suit us at this point.  There is also plenty of opportunity to be involved in other team sports- cricket, footy, basketball, netball for Ladybug.  One team sport at a time is enough for us! 

I’m hoping that this curriculum will help us form a habit of fitness, teach the kids some basic exercises, build coordination, and give them more confidence with physical activity.  Assuming we do the lessons regularly.  Which depends on me…ugh!  :)

The sale is for “this week only,”  not sure how long that is…I got the email Tuesday morning our time so that would have been Monday afternoon in America.

ETA: Looks like they have now lowered their regular price on their website (and through Currclick) to $57.

Are you happy you were homeschooled?

I’ve been reading an interesting post over at Pioneer Woman Homeschooling.  Every week they post a Community Question.  It might be about curriculum, or methods, or record keeping.  This week’s question is: Are you happy you were homeschooled?  A question that every homeschooling family wonders about.  Will my kids be happy with this decision?  Will they feel they’ve received a good education? 

There are many comments to read through.  A common theme seems to be that it depends on the parent and their style of homeschooling.  One commenter says that if the parent is organised, involved, consistent and not overbearing, overly critical or overprotective then the child most often loves the homeschooling experience.  I agree with this (in all my homeschooling expertise of having just one child who is school-age and still so young!).  It really depends on the family’s commitment to homeschooling and the home environment.

The results of this community question would be skewed, of course, people who are not happy they were homeschooled are less likely to be reading and commenting on a homeschooling blog.  Some describe siblings that were unhappy with it while they themselves were happy, leading many to comment about personality differences in relation to homeschooling.  One of the early comments is from someone who was homeschooled but is ambivalent toward the whole thing and unsure if she will homeschool her own children.  There was one detailed comment that talks about why it worked for their family- she feels her personality was well-suited to it and that homeschooling has to be a “serious endeavour.”  So true, it’s not to be taken lightly.

Click on over to take a look.

ETA:  I had comment numbers in this post so that you could find the specific comments I refer to but it seems the comment numbers have changed…and the number of comments have doubled since I first looked at it.

Transit of Venus

Since we are studying astronomy this year we had to see the transit of Venus.  Our local science museum had their telescopes out so we had a look.  Apparently the transit of Venus back in 1769 led to the discovery of Australia.  Captain Cook travelled to Tahiti to document the event, and later in that voyage came across this little land we’re on.

Transit of Venus

Ladybug was a bit shy about it, but later she had a look through a different telescope.  While awkwardly balanced on my hip instead of by herself on a stool.  I don’t think she’d looked through a telescope before, but she did see the “big orange ball” when she looked through the lens.

Transit of Venus

I purchased a pair of eclipse glasses from the science museum on an earlier visit.  I’d looked at ordering these online but just didn’t know which to trust, I didn’t want to risk getting some that would be unsafe.  When I asked the guy at the museum about them he spouted off all the safety specs with these specific glasses and took me outside to try them.  When you look through them the sky looks black and the sun appears orange.  (With a black dot in front of it on this day.)

Transit of Venus

There weren’t many kids there (being the middle of the day during the middle of the week).  So we got a personal demonstration of planet sizes and distances.  Here’s Jitterbug holding the “sun” while the others spread out to show where Venus and Earth would be.  We also had our shadows measured (you can see on the ground behind Jitterbug someone else’s shadow outline from earlier that morning).

Transit of Venus

They had a telescope reflecting onto paper.  Hard to see in this picture but you could see several sunspots as well.

Transit of Venus

We went to the nearby shops and came back a bit more than an hour later to see how much Venus had moved during that time.  This was probably about 45 minutes before the end of it all and just before it became cloudy here.  Glad we didn’t wait until the end, once the sun went behind the clouds it stayed there.

Transit of Venus

We had another look at our shadows to see how much they’d moved during that time.

Transit of Venus Transit of Venus

Ultimately it looked like just a black dot on the sun, but it’s so neat to think that little black dot is a planet about the same size as us.   And that people have been tracking its movement for hundreds of years!

Kid of the Day

We have recently started having a ‘Kid of the Day’ everyday at our house, and it has been wonderful.  I first read about the idea over at Creekside Learning.  We’d been having so many squabbles, the worst one was who would let the dog out of the crate when we returned home.  We could never remember who did it last or whose turn it was and someone would inevitably have a meltdown.  Kid of the Day sounded perfect.  I grabbed a calendar and wrote an initial for each day.  We decided to make it consistent to start with, we can always change it up later.  But we’ll probably keep it this way, the consistency makes it easy to remember whose day it is. 

  • Ladybug- Monday, Thursday
  • Jitterbug- Tuesday, Friday
  • Skeeterbug- Wednesday, Saturday
  • Sundays are for Mama and Dada!

Kid of the Day

Kid of the Day gets to:

  • Let the dog out of the crate when we return home
  • Choose the park if we go that day
  • Go with us to the store if we need to run an errand
  • Choose the movie if we watch one
  • Say bedtime prayers (it was getting quite tedious and repetitive for us all to pray out loud every night before bed)
  • Choose the colour plate they want at snacktime (it’s the smallest things, isn’t it?) 
  • Control the Wii (Ladybug excepted, we just help her feel like she’s doing it)
  • Get their vitamins first (again, the smallest things!)
  • Feed the dog at night
  • Many other very small & seemingly unimportant things (yet so important to them) that kids fight over every day!

This is working so wonderfully and the kids often work things out themselves.  It’s very important to them.  Have I mentioned that I am an only child?  I’m not used to sibling squabbles!

Moon Phases

Here’s an easy activity to learn about moon phases.  We used a styrofoam ball on a bamboo skewer.  We put a lamp (without the shade) in a darkened room (we used our pantry).  The lamp is the sun, the ball on the stick is the moon, the person holding it is earth.  Hold the moon above your head for it to work (or you will block the shadow when your back is to the lamp/sun).  Hold the stick out away from you and slowly turn in a circle.  Watch the shadow on the ball change to reflect the phases of the moon.  Name the phases as you go.  Note that the same side of the moon is always facing you since it takes almost exactly the same time to rotate as it does to revolve around the earth.

Blurry photos since I am not good with light settings. :)

Moon Phases ActivityMoon Phases ActivityMoon Phases Activity

Ladybug was so cute with this.  She wanted to do it too, so I had her hold onto the moon and I spun her around while I told her such fascinating facts as “That’s the quarter moon!   That’s the full moon!  And look, you spun all the way around!”  What fun, she had to do it again.  (Yes, that’s a new haircut she is sporting.  She cut her own hair and it required a bit of, um, layering to even it all out.)

Moon Phases Activity

Here’s a really great book to go along with this.  This activity came from our Apologia text, but it is also detailed in this book (although they use an orange instead of a ball).  This book had just the right amount of detail about moon phases for this age.  Many of these Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out books are too simple, this one was better.  (I just noticed this is illustrated by Ed Emberley, isn’t he the fingerprint art guy?)

The Moon Seems to ChangeWe will be doing the Oreo moon phases activity too.  How can we not?  The kids have been begging for it ever since they found the Oreos in the pantry!  We’ll probably make it a game like in this post from Delightful Learning.  We’ve got some moon phase cards to look at somewhere too, so we are not quite done with the moon yet.

The Claw

I’ve been struggling to get Jitterbug to hold his pencil the right way.  It’s similar to how he’s holding the paintbrush in this picture, three fingers on top, thumb below and pinky awkwardly on the side.  Ugh.


Enter The Claw.  (Insert evil-sounding laugh.)  It’s a handwriting grip that fits over the first two fingers and the thumb.  It forces a correct grip.


So far it is working, but he reverts to the incorrect grip when he’s not using it.  And he hates it when I try to get him to change it.  The Claw has a cool name (which means he can roar like a monster every time we get it out!) so hopefully he will continue to be happy to use it.  My only hesitation is that I naturally developed a grip that rests on my third finger, and so has Skeeterbug, and The Claw won’t allow it.  We’ll see how it goes. 

I got mine at a local educational store, Educational Experience carries it also.

BFIAR: Caps for Sale!

Caps for Sale

Caps for Sale is very much a classic picture book.  A peddler carries his hats on his head and walks through town calling “Caps! Caps for sale!  Fifty cents a cap!”  During the story he takes a nap underneath a tree and wakes up to discover his caps have disappeared.  Turns out there were some cheeky monkeys in that tree.  I can sympathise, I’ve got some cheeky monkeys around here, too!  ;)

(Be forewarned, this is a picture-heavy post.  My primary purpose with this blog is for it to be a journal.  I keep the camera nearby all day and end up with many, many pictures.) 

We did many printables with this unit.  All the links are at the bottom of this post including some I have made.  Some of the printables are specifically for Caps for Sale, others are monkey-related.  BFIAR is aimed at two- to four-year-olds, but Ladybug isn’t too interested in much of it yet, so it’s mostly Jitterbug who is doing these.  Skeeterbug sneaks in every now and then, too.  At one point he asked if he could do the work that Jitterbug was doing instead of his own!

Caps for SaleCaps for SaleCaps for SaleCaps for SaleCaps for Sale Caps for SaleCaps for Sale

Ladybug enjoys these magnet pages too.

Caps for Sale

The Bible verse for this unit was Proverbs 29:11~ A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.  We talked about Stop-Sign Madeline, our We Choose Virtues Kid who has the virtue I am Self-Controlled.

Caps for Sale   

We talked about Australian coins, looked at one of each and then Jitterbug did this coin graphing activity.  He loves these, this time he used stampers.  When he wanted to do it again he used a different colour stamper on the same page.  I had to print several of these for him to do because he liked it so much.  There is a paper die to go with it but it isn’t in the picture, it’s got an image of a different coin on each side.  Australia uses 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, $1, and $2 coins.  The smallest bill here is $5.

Caps for Sale~Coin GraphingCaps for Sale~Coin Graphing

We followed up the coin graphing with another coin activity.  I wrote amounts on the back of these hats and Jitterbug had to give me the right coin to buy the hat and then hang it on the tree.  Jitterbug loved this activity because we would yell “Caps! Caps for sale!” with every hat.

Caps for Sale~Coin Activity

We looked at all the ways we could make fifty cents.  I saw this at Delightful Learning but I made my own version of this to use with Australian coins (couldn’t use the one with all those pennies since we don’t use 1c coins here!)  Click the picture to see it a bit closer, you can download it here if you are interested.

Caps for Sale~Make Fifty Cents with Australian Coins, Free Download 

We had monkey sandwiches one day for lunch.  Found the idea here.  (There are many cute sandwich ideas on that site!)

Caps for Sale~Monkey Sandwich

We balanced a stack of hats on our heads like the peddler.  This was a fun activity.  We pretended to buy the hats from each other.

Caps for Sale Caps for Sale

Monkey mask.  Strangely Jitterbug was the only one interested in this and basically never touched it again after this picture.  Guess some days are mask days, some days are not!

Caps for Sale~Monkey Mask

I made a little Caps for Sale set out of peg people, I first saw this here and realised I had the materials to do it.  You can tell from the quality of my tree that I didn’t spend too much time on it!  I was also too lazy to sew all the little hats, so I just made the peddler’s hat and used felt circles for the rest.

Caps for Sale~DioramaCaps for Sale~DioramaCaps for Sale~DioramaCaps for Sale~DioramaCaps for Sale~Diorama

Monkeys have ears, do you?  Monkeys have tails, do you?  (If ever any little boy had a tail it should be my Jitterbug, you should see him shake his tail when he dances!)  These are from 1+1+1=1.

Caps for Sale

Upper/lowercase matching from 1+1+1=1.  Jitterbug is still working on consistently recognising all of his lowercase letters.  Love the look of consternation on his face.  Hmmm, where is that one?  After we looked at them all I picked up all the lowercase and gave them to him one by one to lay on top of the uppercase letter.

Caps for Sale Caps for Sale

I downloaded some monkey pictures from Wikipedia, we matched them up to a map and talked about how there are monkeys all over the world.  Well, okay, I don’t know if there are any here in Australia except at the zoo!  You can download this file here, the images are all from Wikipedia so I believe it is okay to share.

Caps for Sale~Monkeys Around the World, Free Download

We used these floor numbers from Confessions of a Homeschooler.  We put them in order first, then I mixed them up and called out numbers for him to find.  Too easy, but fun!  And good for Ladybug to play too.

Caps for Sale

I made some cutting strips to go with the unit.  Jitterbug cut all of these apart in one sitting!  I printed some more and Ladybug worked on them too.  These can be downloaded here (in the file I’ve substituted coin clipart for the real coin image below since I’m not sure where I got this coin image).

Caps for Sale~Cutting Strips, Free DownloadCaps for Sale

Do-a-dot marker pages for letter Mm. (M for monkey, in case you didn’t see that in any of the million pictures above.)

Caps for Sale Caps for Sale

Everyone was interested in the pin poking page.

Caps for SaleCaps for SaleCaps for Sale

Simple measuring, measure how high the caps are.  Not sure he got this at all.  :)

Caps for Sale

We made a monkey in a tree.  Modified version of this.

Caps for Sale~Monkey Tree Craft

We pretended we had handlebar moustaches like the peddler.  Saw this here, the printable for the moustaches (and lips!) are here.

Caps for Sale~Handlebar Moustache Caps for Sale~Handlebar Moustache

Skeeterbug continued with his narration activity wearing his moustache.  And dirty feet.  (On the table, no less.)

Caps for Sale~Handlebar Moustache

We ended it all by enjoying some Monkey Pops (frozen banana dipped in chocolate and covered in sprinkles).  Mine aren’t nearly as pretty as hers!

Caps for Sale~Monkey Pops Caps for Sale~Monkey Pops

There were a few other things we did: painted monkeys in a tree, other printables, but this post is long enough!  Now to get it all into a notebook…hoping to do something like this.

Links to printables:

My Printables for Caps for Sale (Click here for links to all my Printables)

Homeschool Creations: Caps for Sale printables

Confessions of a Homeschooler: Letter M for Monkey

1+1+1=1: Monkey printables

Homeschool Share: Caps for Sale

Inspiration for Caps for Sale:

Homeschool Creations: Caps for Sale Unit

Delightful Learning: Caps for Sale

Leading Little Hearts to Him: Caps for Sale

Wee Folk Art: Book Nook- Caps for Sale


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