Thursday, August 20, 2009

07-29-09 Sleeping Squirrel

(posted 8-20-09) I've been catching up on some of the older Tray Time stuff, I thought I would throw a more recent one in there as well...

A neat little impromptu lesson during lunch! Ryan, Cassada and I were eating lunch on the deck and I look up and happen to find a sleeping squirrel on a branch. We had JUST been re-reading one of our Animal Baby books about squirrels the night before and one small section was talking about their sleeping habits. Well, I can say I've never personally seen a squirrel sleeping on a branch, so I was super stoked about it. Ryan was too, since I'm assuming he's never seen one either (haha). So, we got to talk about squirrels a bit more during lunch and watch this little guy sleep, stretch, reposition and sleep again. Nice...

(The pictures are a little blurry b/c I was taking them through the screen on our porch and he was a good distance away).

Friday, June 19, 2009

Posts are not always in order...

I was talking to a friend today and she mentioned that she checked my blog occasionally and noticed I had not updated in awhile. True. But, I started thinking later that some posts may have been missed. Since I started and use this blog as a journal of sorts, I don't always post in order - I post in the order they occurred, not the order I blogged them - so, you may see the "front post" for a few weeks, but unless you receive the emails or blog reader updates, you may not have seen that I have actually posted several posts and they are stuck in the middle somewhere! I do my personal blog (Bond Family Journey) the same way. It never occurred to me people might not be mind readers and just automatically know I do this ;) So sorry!!!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

06-17-09 Now that Summer is almost here

I thought I would share some of the spring activities we've been doing. I haven't posted in awhile, but that doesn't mean we've stopped doing tray times and activities! On the contrary! Ryan just keeps me busy with them - plus, the new kitchen and Cassada - not a moment's rest. But, I'm loving it.

Here are a few things on the wall - lots of things we've talked about and played around with - rainbows with all the rain we've been having, why plants need rain, caterpillars, butterflies (with a visit to the local butterfly farm All-A-Flutter), sunshine, baby animals - including a GREAT, impromptu lesson on baby birds with the Cardinal bird nest right outside our front door, planting, gardens, etc. Oh, and let's not forget the garbage truck (?) - we HAD to throw in a few activities about the garbage truck...

I'll post more about the activities with other ones thrown in as time allows :)

PE Activities

Another good one from TheHomeSchoolMom - I received the newsletter today and promptly checked it out since I am always "at a loss" when Ryan and I go outside without anything specific planned. He usually figures it out, but I like having ideas to fall back on also. This was a really cool one - especially for the days he doesn't seem to be that motivated about doing anything other than playing with cars/trucks/anything with wheels. Plus, this helps me "introduce" him to new ways to move. Like you need to do that with a toddler/preschooler, haha.

PE Teacher Toolbox

Do you ever allow PE to get the short end of the stick in your homeschool? I found that it is very easy to ignore this important topic but I definitely want to be sure that my children get enough activity in their day. The National Association for Sport and Physical Education publishes monthly activity calendars that list some great ideas for keeping kids active. Each month also offers a parent's letter with activity and resource suggestions. June is National Great Outdoors Month, so log on and find some fun ways to celebrate the outdoors in your region!

Sign up for TheHomeSchoolMom's emails HERE - I've been LOVING her information!

Friday, June 5, 2009

6-5-09 Rainbow Week

This week, with all the rain, we've been talking a lot about weather and rainbows. Ryan has been loving checking the radar with Eric every night and seeing "where the green is". We've talked a lot about why it rains (so plants get water) and that plants need sun and water to grow. We've done a few coloring sheets and rainbow activities. We have not made it outside to "make a rainbow" with the water hose yet - but that will hopefully be in the next week. Every time I tentatively plan it, IT RAINS. Oh well...but, our "style" tends to be to do a few activities/crafts to introduce a subject and learn a little and then move on so it doesn't bore the two year old - but, bringing it back up time and again over the following months (usually his choice, sparked by a question). Such as, next time it rains, we'll pull out another fun rainbow craft or activity. Or, if we see one in the sky, we'll do another one if he's interested.

We read a couple of books, but he really liked What Makes a Rainbow. We made our rainbow chain through each page (with the stapler).

We "practiced" finger painting - I say practiced b/c Ryan is not always one to enjoy it. He's finally learning that it's ok to get paint all over your hands, mommy will clean them later. He hasn't liked getting his fingers "dirty" with paint until recently. Whew... So, we made rainbows with our finger paint...

And then we practiced (haha) making rainbows on his arm...

Back to the paper...

And finally to the brush (his choice of instruments usually)...

We even had a rainbow lunch!

I think we'll work on manners next, haha...

We even pulled out an activity from the archives (see St Pat's Day activities) and did the rainbow pot of gold one again. Although, I think he enjoyed shaking the m&m's in the jar more than putting them on the paper, so they are all crumbled at this point. But, they DID make some fun music!

And let's not forget the rainbow felt board - I got him started on the colors and he started putting them into rows. It wasn't his favorite activity, but he sort of enjoyed it for a bit.

We, of course, did quite a few other activities that I don't always take pictures of - many out of the archives, some new ones. Our trays are always filled and waiting for the fun to begin - just whenever we have time or whenever he decides it's time to do "Tray time!!!"

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

06-03-09 Impromptu Tray Time - Ryan's Game

Ok, so he is catching on quite nicely - he was in the playroom playing with daddy and a big wooden spoon. After a few minutes, he comes and asks for my bin of marbles (I was in the kitchen).

Me - "Sure, but why?"
Ryan - "I want to do a tray time."
Me - "Ok :) "

So, he decided he wanted to carry the marbles from his blue table to the bowl on the table across the room - and then carry two, etc. Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth and so on...

I know they are always curious and want to play and do different things, but it's interesting to me that he already knows that his playing is "learning" (he thinks learning is apparently called "tray time", lol).

Yeah little man!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Homeschooling the High Schooler

This is a post I had drafted awhile back, but kept forgetting to email for permission to post - so, I finally did and thought I would go ahead and update. She always has great information - see for more!

I know I don't need this right now - but an interesting read. Plus, I'll just 'file it away for later'...much much later...

7. Article - Homeschooling High School by Terri Johnson, author of Upper Level Homeschool, providing guidance and instruction for parents of middle and high school teens.

When it comes to high school, most homeschooling parents approach these years with fear and trepidation. I will admit that I did, as well. But I am so pleased that we decided to take the plunge and continue home schooling our oldest daughter rather than pursuing private or public school for these final four years.

Are the high school years approaching in your home? I encourage you to stop, take a deep breath, and consider the possibility that homeschooling your high schooler might be a tremendous boon for you, your student and your whole family. Here are some reasons why...

  1. This is when homeschooling really begins to pay off. Your student has become an independent learner and can schedule and manage his own work load. High school level work should not require a great amount of your time (although more of his than he might be used to!).
  1. Ideally, your student, who is approaching high school, has become a real helper to you and her younger siblings. This is a wonderful time to have your teens home by your side, learning to cook, garden, manage a home, build a deck, balance a checkbook, etc. Often high schoolers enrolled in public or private school do not have time to learn practical life skills because of the excessive class time and increased home work that their teachers demand.
  1. High Schoolers are fun to be around. This is when your children become your friends. Now, don't get me wrong, you still need to be their parent, BUT you are beginning to let go, little by little, letting them make their own mistakes, letting them learn from their own successes and failures. This is a time when kids can really begin to open up and talk - talk about real life issues, debatable topics, philosophical or theological differences, social pressures... Wouldn't you like to be the one that he or she turns to? Wouldn't you like to be the one that he asks advice from? Wouldn't you like to continue developing that life-long heart-to-heart friendship? Homeschooling the high school years can foster and grow this relationship because you have time to just "hang out" together.

So these are just a few reasons for you to consider as you decide whether or not you will press on. But how can it practically be done? This is a good question because we all know that high schoolers are learning material that is often above our heads. We often do not remember our Algebra 2 courses or advanced grammar exercises.

Here are some ideas that you can think about that might make homeschooling high school a more do-able scenario for you and your student:


One of the intimating factors about homeschooling high school is that it is most likely a 4 year decision. It is a lot easier to pull your student out of public high school than it is to stick him back in. Do your research before you make this big decision. Find out what type of subjects and the number of credits that your state requires. You can probably just do a Google search to find this information. Find out what needs to be recorded on a transcript and begin keeping this information from year 1 - when your student is finishing her freshman year. Find out what kind of programs are offered in your area for high school teens. That brings me to my next point.


I don't know about you, but there are just some subjects I would rather not teach. I have found out that there are many, many classes out there that my teens can take for high school credit, such as science, math, writing, speech/debate, Spanish, etc. Most of these classes are taught by private instructors in a traditional style classroom setting (although smaller than a public school classroom - usually 8-10 students). Many classes can be taken from our local junior college for dual credit. Tutors are available to teach one or more subjects that I do not want to teach. And classes can also be found online, taught through virtual conference rooms and corresponding through email. Think outside the box and find out what types of programs are available for your students.


You do not have to plan everything out in advance, but jot out a rough plan for your high school student's education, knowing that it will change as he specializes in certain subjects as high school progresses. If you know that your son dislikes foreign language, then just plan for 2 years of Spanish, instead of 3 or 4 (however, his university of choice may require 3 years of high school foreign language to be exempt from taking foreign language in college). If your daughter wants to work for NASA, then four years of higher math needs to be planned into the schedule. If you have a student that wants to work in Bible translation, then continue with grammar and even beginning linguistics all the way through the four years of high school. So, make a plan, but stay flexible for changes down the road ahead. Your teen doesn't need to know right now what his career is going to be, but he should be thinking about it.


Help your students to understand that their classes are their responsibility and that you are not going to hand them an "A" or a 4.0 on a silver platter. Good grades must be earned. This is the time to get your teen a planner where she can break down her assignments and write them into her day's schedule. Let her make some decisions about how and when she will study her subjects, as long as she completes her assignments on time (she still reports to you as teacher). You will no longer need to hover over every assignment, but do insist that she turn in her work on time (whether that be once a week or something else that you decide). Tell your student up front what is required to gain an "A" in a particular subject. Then place the responsibility for earning that "A" in her lap. Now, that said, you can decide that a 1 credit course is not quite complete in May and give your teen a month or two more to finish the requirements. Again, you are the teacher and can make these critical decisions along the way. Or you might choose to give half a credit now and the other half during the following year if those requirements are finished up later.


It is so hard to know when your student is entering his freshman year, whether he will attend college or not at the end of four years' time. However, it is important to choose a route at the beginning so that all requirements are finished during the high school years. In other words, unless you are certain that your child will not attend college, it is best to choose a college bound course of action. In this way, all the requirements that he will need to apply for and be accepted into the college or university of his choice will be completed. You may even want to look into the requirements of specific colleges and universities that your son or daughter might be interested in attending so that you can plan to meet them in the next four years.

Often your student can take courses at your local community college and earn dual credit during his junior and senior year. This may be an added benefit for acceptance into his college of choice or may hurt his chances as it could jeopardize his freshman status. It is best to find out before he takes courses for dual credit. Your teen may also want to take some CLEP (College Level Examination Program) tests along the way in order to test out of some college classes that are general in nature and cover material already learned during the high school years (i.e. general biology).

You may be certain that your son or daughter will not pursue a college degree, but rather apprentice or start his or her own business, or take another path. That is fine and then you can plan for more freedom or focus during the high school years. If carpentry is the career of choice, then by all means, put some of the school books aside and get out there and build things. But remember, carpenters use math every single day! If in doubt about whether your child needs a class, have him take it to be on the safe side!

Do not fear the high school years. They are delightful, focused and rewarding. Consider homeschooling your high schooler. I think you will be pleasantly surprised. I was!

Enjoy those learning moments…

Terri Johnson

Knowledge Quest, Inc.

Todd and Terri have been married 20 years, home teaching their children for 12 years and operating Knowledge Quest, a publishing business that specializes in history and geography curricula for the homeschool marketplace for the past 8 years. They are currently teaching two online classes – Homeschooling ABCs, providing guidance and instruction for new and/or overwhelmed homeschooling parents – and Upper Level Homeschool, a class providing guidance and insight for parents of middle and high school teens.