Back to School With Jane

This is a sponsored post. Thanks to Jane for providing the free back to school items for review! All opinions are my own.

Jane is a daily deal site for the whole family. I got the opportunity to shop on Jane for some back to school items. I bought some backpack tags and a first/last day of school card set. Shipping took a little while on the tags – because they’re custom – and the cards arrived very quickly. I’m very happy with the quality of the items that I ordered. And my kids are super excited to have some cool Back to School items.

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First off, have you ever tried to get 3 excited kids to stand still for a picture? It’s basically impossible! I did get their bag tags attached to their bags but they weren’t shy about moving around while I was photographing. They’re apparently all ready to go!
IMG_20170725_103351 IMG_20170725_103226 IMG_20170725_103104I am quite happy with the tags. They’re a nice thick plastic and my kids names and my phone number are printed on so I don’t have to worry about the information getting lost somehow. This is perfect for if my child looses their backpack or if my child gets lost while at co-op, preschool, or other school activities.

They each picked out their favorite color for the tag. And I think that the tags match well with their backpacks.

Plus the kids are super excited to have their names on their backpacks. I’m sure their teachers are going to appreciate this as well!

The next item I ordered was the First Day of … / Last Day of… cards. The front of the card has The First Day and the back of the card has The Last Day. They come in a deck with preschool to college so I’m basically set for the rest of my life!

I just love the bright colors on these cards! Though, after we took pictures, the kids wouldn’t let me have them back. They insisted on hanging their posters on their walls.

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I’m fairly certain preschool is going to have their hands full with him. I was going for a nice picture and this is what I got!

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She’s all ready for first grade. Her reading and math have both actually improved over the summer so she’s definitely ready to have a great first grade year!

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And this girl is all ready for fourth grade! I’m not sure I’m ready. Seriously, how do I have a fourth grader already? It seems like just yesterday she was a baby.

We had bunches of fun browsing Jane and finding some fun Back to School items. They even have some back to school t-shirts that I suggested to the kids but they thought the posters were way cooler for some reason and since it’s all about them being excited about getting back to School, I got them what they requested.

3rd Grade

Everyone says that 3rd grade is a leap. And I would definitely agree.

I would add though, that even though it’s a leap. Pushing my 3rd grader to achieve has not been extremely hard. She was definitely ready for 3rd grade.

Heading into 3rd grade? Here’s a few differences I’ve noticed between the first couple years of school and 3rd.

  1. You must be reading – everything for a 3rd grader assumes that the child is reading on or above grade level. A lot of books are for 3rd to 5th graders. It’s really important that your child be reading on at least grade level or you can have them there before the end of the year. Even her Sunday School teachers assume that all the 3rd graders are reading, capable of finding a specific page in their Bible, and can follow along while other kids in the group read.Just a quick plug for reading comprehension worksheets. If you want to know how your 3rd grader is doing reading, these are awesome! The ones I have give her 4.5 minutes to read a one page story and answer 5 questions on the back of the page. She’s usually done with about a minute to spare. It’s been great for increasing her reading confidence. And for increasing my confidence in her reading. We done one a week and it’s like a quick little test just to check that she’s where she should be at with her reading.
  2. More Independent learning – it’s assumed that a 3rd grader is capable of achieving some things on their own with minimal assistance. I can help her understand instructions as needed but unlike K-2nd her school work is not designed for me to be standing next to her assisting every second.I’m not saying I just hand stuff to her and tell her to figure it out. We definitely walk through new concepts and challenging concepts together. For example, multiplication with more than one digit in the multiplicand. Sometimes she gets it, sometimes she doesn’t. So, I walk her through problems as needed. But sections with concepts that she already knows well, I tell her to do them and grade them when she’s done.There’s even a couple of subjects, handwriting, spelling, Bible, and sometimes English, that she’ll tell me she wants to do on her own without any assistance. She does them well on her own and lets me know if she doesn’t understand something. So I’m happy to let her do it.
  3. More Independence – This kind of goes hand in hand with point #2. It’s perfectly acceptable for me to drop her off at dance lessons and return 2 hours later to pick her up when her class is over. She can handle her class change, shoe change, and between class water and snack on her own.  And I’m not alone in this. None of the moms of 3rd graders are sitting in the lobby for their child’s entire dance class.
  4. Critical Thinking Skills – You can teach a kindergartner critical thinking skills every day and most of them just don’t fully get it. In 3rd grade, you actually have a chance. A 3rd grader can handle thinking through things.In math, this would be your story problems. In science and history it’s your open-ended questions like what happens if we do something different? Or why do you think this person did this? No more blank looks of “what are you talking about mom?”. My 3rd grader has lots of opinions about how science experiments should turn out before I even finish telling her what we’re going to do.
  5. More Steps per problem – She’s expected to remember all 11 capitalization rules and find all the missing capitals in a sentence. In math she is doing more complex problems like long division. We still practice our addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division tables because she needs to get faster, but it’s assumed that she at least knows how to do this.
  6. Independent Thinking – 3rd grade is where I’m seeing a lot more independent thinking. More questions like why is this actually a rule? And why do we do this this way?I just love the questions! I want my children to ask questions. If I don’t know the answer, we look it up. Sometimes the answer isn’t what she’s expecting. (sometimes we just do something a certain way because that’s how I like it, there’s no other reason). Sometimes it’s fun (like is the cheetah or the ostrich faster?). But, overall, it’s an increased awareness and curiosity about the world around her. A greater awareness of how others around her are feeling and what they might think about something. Or the realization that just because we’ve always done something a certain way doesn’t mean it’s the only way to do it.

I really just love this age! We can finally have more interesting conversations and she likes to sit and talk with me about what’s going on in her life. It’s such a fun age of discovery, asking questions, and engaging more.

 

Fall Break

As a homeschooler I don’t usually plan to officially take fall break. I usually plan something the week before or the week after because there’s no crowds on those weeks.

This year, however, with no extra curricular activities, no co-cop, and everyone talking about fall break. My kids decided that fall break was a must. We were needing a break anyways, so I got a lot of organizing and cleaning done around the house, and since the weather was beautiful the kids spent a lot of time outside.

Really, if I’m going to take a fall break, this is the way to do it. So, what did we do?

1. I replaced my huge desk with something smaller. This desk took me several hours to build but it was totally worth it. My previous desk was pretty flat and not well designed for how I like to use a desk.

This one is great. Things are way more organized. And I’ve gained several square feet of space in my den. Horray! I’ve been working this year to clean some things out and better organize. I have a few more things I need to swap out in my den and then the room will be way more organized and useable.

With all the building and moving, and organizing, this took up two days of fall break. The kids took my boxes that my desk came in and hung out in the yard making posters, boats, beds, houses, and all sorts of other things. They’ll probably get another week of play out of these boxes before they are destroyed and I throw them away.

img_20161014_1414569002. We met friends at the Aquarium one day this week. The kids had a blast looking at fish, petting crabs and jellyfish and watching the divers feed the fish and such. Plus it was lots of friend to see some out of town friends again.

I have promised the kids another trip to the aquarium this winter because they want to go back – and they have discount days for locals sometime in January.

3. The kids played outside a lot! The weather was beautiful this week. Dry, and in the 70s. Just perfect for playing outside all day. The kids spend every minute they could outside, which aside from being good for them, also means they didn’t mess up the house that much and it was way easier for me to get things cleaned up and organized.

I’m also loving having the windows open and airing the house out after a really hot summer!

What did you do for fall break?

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This Year’s Curriculum

I know you’re just dying to know what curriculum I’m using for my kids this year. Actually, if you’re still trying to decide on what you’re using, you probably are at least curious.

Reading / Phonics

I am just in love with Hooked on Phonics for early readers. My kids love it. It makes reading fun. And they seem to pick up quickly as well. Teaching reading can be so painful and Hooked on Phonics really isn’t. My Kindergartner is doing the Purple Books which is Kindergarten Level and my Preschooler who is pretty certain he wants to read (I mean, everyone else is, so why shouldn’t he) is participating with her and doing the Red (preschool) books. My Kindergartner likes to help him with his preschool books. They have fun, and she’s getting extra phonics in. It’s working so well for me.

My 3rd grader is loving these Lego DC Comics books. She’s reading well but is still afraid of chapter books. At this point, I just need to find something that she likes to read and we’ll make great progress. I got her a couple of these for her Birthday and she’s so excited. She read 4 of them in one evening. They’re writing more so I should be able to keep her supplied with these for a little while. And hopefully when she’s done with these she’ll be ready for another chapter book. I keep touting the Bobbsey Twins so maybe by the end of the school year I’ll get her reading them.

Also, I’m using Abeka 3rd Grade Reading and Comprehension sheets. It’s timed reading with questions that she does once a week. She’s needing to focus on reading all the details so these along with all her fun reading should hopefully have her reading really well by the end of the school year.

Math

Abeka Kindergarten for my Kindergartner and Abeka 3rd for my 3rd Grader. I like Abeka math and it’s working well for my girls. We’re also working on addition, subtraction, and multiplication tables with both girls. Using flash cards and number charts. My oldest needs to get faster and the younger one needs to learn them. Plus, this is more fun with two or more.

So far, multiplication is best explained as boxes of popsicles. I have 1 box of 8 popsicles and that equals 8 popsicles. 2 boxes of 8 popsicles equals 16. I’m not actually pulling boxes of popsicles out of the freezer, but it’s about the concept of groups of items.

I’ve also gotten play money and we’re playing store a lot this year because the girls can count money but they can’t figure change. So, we’re going to focus on some money skills and have fun at the same time!

English

Abeka English 3rd for my 3rd Grader. The kindergartner is doing hooked on phonics and english/grammar really isn’t useful until she has some basic reading down.

I also have a fun story starter book this year. Something the girls can work on together or separately. Just thinking creatively is an important skill that I want to work on before they reach higher grades and actually have to write stories.

History and Science

Abeka 3rd grade History, Science, and Health for these subjects. The Abeka text books are fun to read and she loves these subjects. We’re usually done with these books early.

We also enroll in local science classes at our Science Museum and Zoo. They have lots of great age appropriate classes and my kids love them! And the girls are in a lego robotics class this year as well. I love that the kids get to do lots of hands on science!

I’d love to hear. What curriculums are you using this year?

Back to School

We’ve had a super busy summer. And covered many, many miles between my husband traveling for work and me & the kids traveling for family stuff. I had a sister get married, a brother come home on leave, my parents moved, two sisters graduated, and we threw in a few miscellaneous things just for fun.

I’m still finishing up my summer. It’s still HOT here in August – like in the 90’s, so we’ve got another good month of summer weather to go. I don’t even feel like starting school. But it’s that time of year, and since it’s important that we not fall behind, we’ve started school.

Part of the reason for starting when public school starts is because I’m required to do 180 days, and in order to get those all in plus all the fun things we like to do. I have to start on time. My books arrived Saturday, and we started Monday. Which means, we have plenty of days in our school year to still take breaks this month and take several trips to the local water park this year. Actually, the best thing about the water park this time of year, there’s fewer and fewer people there, by the end of the season we have the park to ourselves.

My kids all hate the cold, so come Christmas break, they don’t want to go outside. This means I have several extra weeks of school already planned in and we end early every year because of this. And snow days are school and then game days because there’s nothing else to do.

You ever had bored kids inside when it’s 10 degrees outside? It’s miserable! So, we do school instead. And play outside extra in the summer.

I think my kids are ready for school. They’re ready to see their friends at lessons and co-op and they’re super excited to be moved up to the next grade in Sunday School. I’m ready to see all my friends again too.

Summer was way too short, but we’re ready to move forward with things like learning to read, learning to multiply, and as many science experiments as I can stand. My 7yr old has requested that she be allowed to “blow things up” for science this year. I’m thinking the usual volcano, and a few other experiments like that. It’ll be a messy year for sure, but we’ll have fun and learn a lot!

M is for Mondays

I don’t know about you, but Monday is the hardest day of my week. Really, it starts on Sunday. We go to Church early, meet up with extended family for lunch, and meander home sometime around dinnertime. After the kids are in bed I prep and pack backpacks and lunches for our homeschool co-op on Monday.

I love our co-op, but boy is it hard to get up at 7 am Monday morning. My kids find it difficult as well. This past Monday, my middle child – the child who is impossible to wake up – would not wake up. I had lights on, in and out of the room, etc. for 30 minutes and still nothing. I ended up packing her clothes and carrying her to the car in her pjs and then dressing her once we arrived at our destination.

This kid is seriously hard to wake up. She once fell asleep in the car, I carried her into piano lessons, she slept through the lesson, I put her back in the car, stopped at a friend’s house to pick something up, came home, carried her inside to the couch, and she stayed asleep for another hour! And, yes, she always transferred well from the carseat to her crib when she was an infant.

On Monday, we finish up our school around 3 and head home. Once we get him I have work to do. I’m office manager for my husband’s company – check out his awesome website! -, and Monday is the day for invoices, paying bills, hours tracking, and any other fun number related bookkeeping items I can come up with. I take a break to make dinner and hang out with the kids until their bedtime and I usually finish up my work by 10pm.

It’s quite the Monday!

Luckily, the end is in sight. I have 3 more co-ops and then we’re done for the year and I’ve already switched to a new group for next year that meets on Fridays. Which will work out way better. Friday is usually our “do something fun” day and since my kids are convinced that co-op isn’t school (because how could science experiments, public speaking practice, art, history, geography, math, and latin with friends be school?), Friday can be a very productive “fun day” for us every week.

And my Mondays can be a slower start to my week. Since I’m just not a Monday person.

Anyone else struggle with Mondays? What do you do to make your Mondays a little easier?