Morning Math Routine

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As I am working on getting together materials for our upcoming school year I started ‘thumbing’ through Pinterest for some ideas. If you haven’t visited this site yet you MUST. I have gotten tons of great ideas for decorating my home, meals to make, crafts to try and –of course– homeschooling ideas.

I have always done a morning routine with my kids that involved base ten blocks, money, and a hundred chart that went with the calendar date. But each little segment seemed so disjointed. I wanted a way to display all of the results. I found tons of great ideas on Pinterest but none of them quite matched my needs. So I created my own chart using just the elements that were relevant to my morning routine.

By using this chart with my hands on manipulatives (real money, base ten blocks, tally sticks) I will create a visual tie-in to our morning math routine and hopefully make the language/math connection stronger. I love morning math because it only takes about ten minutes to complete but covers so many basic math concepts. Hope you enjoy your free download!

DIY 3 person desk and Bulletin Board

DIY 3 person desk from plastic storage containers and shelf

I have been spending the last week organizing our materials for homeschool in the fall. I decided to create a new workspace for my children because our old ‘art table’ was getting a bit too small for my 10yr old. (It was designed for a toddler!) I had 2 plastic 3 drawer bins that are on rollers. All I needed to buy was an 8ft long board at Lowes. This board was prefabricated out of particle board and already had a rounded plastic edge adhered to it. It was meant to use as shelving but when placed on top of my two storage bins it makes a perfect work space for 3 children.

The best thing about the desk is that it cost me a total of $12 to make. Another perk to this desk is it rolls. So I can easily move it from one wall to the other if I choose to redecorate. Or if guests come into town I can easily disassemble the whole thing and put a bed in it’s place.

DIY Bulletin Board: Materials Needed

DIY Bulletin Board: Materials Needed

You may notice the bulletin boards that hang on the wall in front of each child’s work space. I went to a craft store and priced bulletin boards that were 1/3 the size of these. The price was a whopping $14 each. So I decided to make these and save myself some cash. For a total of $9 each I made these bulletin boards that are 3 times bigger and in custom colors! That’s a savings of $15! Here’s how I did it.

You will need foam craft board, (I doubled mine up so I can use thumbtacks in them.) Dense foam sheets, (I needed 2 to cover my board.) Colored duct tape, Fabri-tac glue, a staple gun and scissors.

My boards came in a two pack covered in plastic sheeting to hold them together. I left the plastic sheeting on and glued my colored foam directly to the boards.

Glue foam sheet directly to craft foam boards

Glue foam sheet directly to craft foam boards

Cover the edges of the board with your colored duct tape. I put a strip of the colored duct tape down the center of the board to conceal the seam between the two foam sheets. I like the idea of two sections of the board so the kids have one half for school and the other half for home.

I glued the foam can holder onto the board on the duct tape in the center and then used the staple gun to really secure the cup holder to the board because I know this section will really get used taking pencils/pens in and out of it.

That’s it….now each child has his/her own work space and I did the whole area for under $30! Yay!

A new way to practice Flash Cards! Go Fishing!

Just attach a paper clip to each flash card and make a fishing pole out of lanyard string tied to a chop stick. Super glue a magnet to the end of the lanyard string and allow to dry before playing the game. How to play: Spread the cards out on the floor, use the pole to fish for them. When one is caught the player answers the question. If it is answered correctly the player keeps the card, if not the card gets thrown back. Great flash card fun!

File Folder Games

File folder games are a great way to practice skills. During the summer all kids need a little practice to keep up with the math and reading skills they have learned throughout the school year. By ‘disguising’ the practice as a game, you can help your child retain important skills and your child can have some fun.

Here are a few websites that offer Free File Folder Games:

I have also written an article about the assembly of file folder games for eHow. When the article is published I will post the link.

Outdoor Play Areas

We spend lots of time with our children outdoors especially in the summer. I have recently written an article for eHow on setting up an outdoor environment that is interesting and exciting for your children. My three children 3, 5, and 8 years old all enjoy these activities.

How to Create Outdoor Environments for Learning and Fun

Activity of the Day: Weather

With all of the GREAT weather we have been having your children will have a lot to predict and record. Make a chart (make it look a calendar) and write the Days of the week at the top of each column. Then go outside every morning and talk about what you see, hear, and smell and how it relates to the weather. Then go inside and make a prediction with your children. Will it be sunny? rainy? cloudy? warm? cold? windy? Draw a picture of the predicted weather in the box under the column heading for that day. At the end of the day reflect on your weather prediction. Were you correct?

This is a great activity that introduces math concepts of charts and graphs. Language skills like prediction and reflection are also practiced. So get outside and be a weather person today!

Activity of the Day: Simple machines

This one sounds complicated but it isn’t. Get out something long and flat…a board, a block…then roll some cars down it—inclined plane. (Use the language with your children too!)

We made a ‘Diego’ zip line by attaching a thick piece of plastic beading string (for kid sized beads) with clothes pins to the window frame at the high point and a magazine bucket at the low point. We attached the toy man with a elastic hair band that we threaded through the string before attaching it to the low point. Ta Da… line. (A type of inclined plane.)

How about a pulley? Drape a jump rope over the back of a chair or couch. Sit behind the chair/couch and pull a doll or animal toy up to the top of the couch. You can use this same concept on your jungle gym or at the park and pull a bucket to the top of a platform.

Lever: Use the same board you used to roll the cars and put a small block under it in the middle. Now put a light small block on one end and stomp on the other…flying blocks. Try moving the block that is under the board closer to either end…what happens?

Explore using simple machines today!

Activity of the Day: Labeling

Even if your child has just learned to walk you can label objects in his/her room. This is a great way to tie spoken language to the written word. Children love to ‘stick’ the labels on and you will be surprised with how much they remember. Remember to use basic rules of good english and printing. Write all letters in lower case (unless it is a proper noun like ‘Justin’ or ‘Wyoming’.) Use blue painters tape or masking tape for easy removal later. Have fun!

Activity of the Day: Box Play

Okay I have heard this one said a million times, but it is still VERY true at our house…”the box is more fun than the toy that came inside.”

So today I want you to find a BIG box (or a medium sized box that your child(ren) will fit inside.) Then I want you to PLAY. Make it a rocket ship, a school bus, a train, a house, a ‘cage’, a treasure chest, a submarine, a pirate ship, a cruise ship, or ANYTHING else you can think of.

Then send me the pictures of your play…I will post them here! Email Me here and HAVE FUN!