Going into the North America week, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had a lot planned for the week, and some of the concepts like money, naming the states, or naming the presidents could have caused the week to be too intimidating and stressful for the girls. However, this ended up being one of my favorite units of the year!
I think one of the smartest things I did when planning was really focus my lessons on learning three concepts: the presidents, the states, and money. We focused first on the states, and I found some great items that really helped us learn our states this week (puzzles, color-me-in map of all the states, a felt states and landmark activity, and a magnetic map). Having a lot of ways to check the map of the USA out was great, and we were able to reach out goal of finding and naming 10 states by week’s end. However, the best thing we found for the week was a book called The Scrambled States of America. Not only is it a silly and fun way to learn the states with a goofy story about the states changing locations, but there is a great Amazon video of the book that you should definitely watch alongside it. There is also a video called The Scrambled States of America Talent Show that was super cute too.
Aria loves George Washington, so we had fun doing crafts focused on him and Abraham Lincoln in honor of President’s Day. We did some fun masks and built Lincoln’s house during co-op, and we learned facts about these presidents along with what makes a president and what laws Aria would enforce if she was president (everyone has to play outside and do science experiments during rest time and no bedtimes were two of her laws). There are lots of fun videos on Youtube about presidents and states that we spent an hour watching and learning from during the week! We didn’t reach my goal of learning lots of president names, but we were having a lot of fun with those two so we ended up staying focused on them.
Money is still something we need to work on post this week, but we had a good introduction to how much each coin is worth and played a really fun game I bought off of Oriental Trading that was all about counting money and amounts. Being super visual really helps when talking about money.
Overall, we learned a ton this week and had a lot of fun doing it, which is the best of all worlds! I will continue to work on states, presidents, and money during the year, but this week was a really fun push in the right direction! Hope you check this unit out and consider doing it in your home (whether over president’s day or not). Perfect intro into America before starting history next year.
Valentine’s week is always a fun week. Nothing like taking a little break from anything strenuous and celebrating love! We had a great time baking cookies and making gifts for friends in our extracurricular classes, making crafts for loves ones, and doing a bit of learning too!
As I’ve mentioned before, Aria is most interested in science right now, so it shouldn’t be too surprising that those activities were her favorite this week. There are loads of fun valentine’s experiments out there, and the most fun ones were the easiest to do (baking soda heart science, bubble science, and dancing conversation hearts).
Last year, after Valentine’s Day I went to the store and loaded up on some crafts for this year at 80% off (and I highly recommend you doing the same if you do holiday units; saves you a bunch of money). So, we were able to give out some cool gifts I got on major sale from Pottery Barn kids and do some awesome and cheap crafts all week from Michael’s. This allowed me to take a bit of a break from the heavy prep work of the previous weeks, as we moms deserve a fun week of celebrating too!
My girls loved spending time making cards and presents for their family and friends, and we had a wonderful special day on Valentine’s Day showing each other how much we love each other! Special weeks like this make me really appreciate not just my family but my amazing readers too for checking out this wonderful website and giving me the push I need to continue improving as a mom and teacher week after week! Happy Valentine’s Day!!
In life, I think you should give pretty much everything a few tries before you admit that it isn’t your cup of tea and giving up, and sports week is one of those things on my list. It wasn’t a terrible week and I think the girls had some fun learning new sports (the Dollar Store actually has some great games that teach sports that I highly recommend) and there are some amazing letter and number activities out there for sports. But I just could feel all of the joy get zapped out of me this week, so this is a unit I’m going to say a fond farewell to going forward.
However…if you have a child who loves sports, there are some great gems in this unit that I suggest checking out. I found a lot of different learning activities for loads of sports, a lot more than I thought I would find. I will say that I had to do more physical prep work for activities this week than almost any other week this year, but Aria seemed to really like the ones I worked hard to prep, so in the end it was worth it.
I think the unit was timed really well to correspond with the super bowl. We are not a football watching family, but we do watch the super bowl, so this was really the girl’s only chance to see the game. We spent the afternoon of the Super Bowl doing a bunch of football activities and even playing football in our living room until the ball got dangerously close to breakable items, so that was probably our most fun day.
Wednesday, baby Skylar turned 3!! So we took a break and had a princess tea party with friends. We then traveled to Atlanta for the weekend to celebrate with family, so very little school overall got done throughout the week (which was probably good per my enthusiasm). But we had a great time celebrating her and I can’t believe how old she is now! She’s so big and loving school. And extremely fascinated in doing “her schoolwork now,” which is adorable.
Long story short, sports week can be good if you enjoy sports. If you don’t I suggest skipping it unless you are stubborn like me! Instead, get your kids involved in sports so they don’t miss out on the physical exercise and learning about at least one sport (we do dance and gymnastics here), and you are all set!
P.S. check out our new schoolroom we set up next week when Skylar moved into Aria's room!
If you look at my pictures, you wouldn’t think that we did much this week, but you would be wrong. Weather week was fun and we actually did a lot, but we also dealt with some sickness this week and an ear infection so I didn’t take as many pictures. This was the second week in a row that I felt an epiphany about organizing next year in a different way, so I spent a lot of time during rest time this week planning what I want to do next year when both Aria and Skylar will be starting school. I’m excited to tell you guys about it at the end of the year and show you the awesome outline for next year I’ve been working on!
Skylar has also decided that she wants to do school with us, so that has added a whole new element of complication. Skylar knows her colors really well and so we were able to finish a whole color workbook and are working on a shapes and color workbook this week (thank you, Dollar Store!) She’s still too young to really be able to follow the dotted line well, but she really wants to be like her sister so I want to help her start school if that’s what she wants. I don’t talk about Skylar much on here, but she is my talker and is very smart, so I am actually excited to start school with her next year. Aria, however, is not. She is taking it really hard that my attention is more divided now, so I am doing my best to give her my undivided help when Skylar gets distracted with her toys.
Weather week was great this week. There are loads of hands on activities out there for weather week and I bought an awesome Green science weather in a bottle kit that really helped us to learn about temperature, wind, rain amounts, etc. It even acts as a greenhouse, so we planted seeds and will see what happens! Even though Groundhog Day probably aligns better with a winter unit, I always like to do winter around Christmas time. So we usually do a weather unit in conjunction with groundhog day. I found a bunch of great literacy and craft activities for Groundhog Day which were fun to do, though we kept Groundhog Day simply to one day and spent most of the week doing weather.
I divided the remaining days of the week into “weather as a whole,” “clouds and rain,” “Co-op: weather crafts,” and “severe weather.” The biggest hits of the week were the weather movement game where the kids had to follow the instructions of the dice to go to the right weather. I think we may have played it every day of the week, which I was fine with since it got out energy. I also love so many of the science activities that have to do with weather, and even my husband got into those, doing some that we hadn’t had time to get to in the morning with the girls while I went to the gym one day.
Aria hasn’t been as excited about art as she has about science each week, so we have started saving a lot of the thematic art activities for co-op day, since the friend we do it with just loves crafts which gets Aria more excited about doing them. To replace thematic art on days I want her doing art, instead we have been working in our Famous Artists book (see year plan for more details). That way we are still doing art most days, but I don’t have to put in loads of work setting up crafts she complains about doing. Just trying to figure it out week by week right now!
Learning about the weather is a necessity for any kid, but next year we may just learn about it for a “science club day,” since Aria has specifically requested a weekly science club next year versus a whole week focused on weather. Not sure how I’m going to set them up yet, but I have some thoughts that I’m sure ill have organized enough to share by May! Happy Groundhog Day and hope you all enjoy an early spring!
Be a superhero week was as fun as always, and I actually found loads of literacy activities for this unit that allowed it to be even more educational of a unit than years before. However, this was the first unit that I did this year with Aria that I felt like we were finally aging out of. We had a blast but everything we did would be far too easy to do again next year, so while we enjoyed the week, it is time to say goodbye to the superheroes and simply leave them for play now.
The best activities of the week were definitely the literacy and science activities, as I think Aria got a lot out of both. The sensory activities were fun and Skylar enjoyed being able to take part in them, but they were definitely easy and more for fun than learning. For this unit, many of the activities we used were from a massive superhero packet we found at firstgradewow.com, who did an amazing job coming up with all sorts of literacy, math, science, and art activities. Her unit is a must to check out. I also loved the sight word snappers activity and this year made sure to save some Dollar Store popper fireworks from the 4th of July so that we could really enjoy this activity. The girls absolutely loved the activity!
One of my best suggestions for any unit, but one we really benefitted from when it came to this unit is trying to consistently check out consignment sales and stores for school gems. I’ve found loads of good stuff over the years, but science kits are one of the best things Ive been able to find, and I found a really amazing and unused “Top Secret” science kit that was perfect for this week. We pretended we worked for SHIELD and were trying to figure out how to stop a bad guy who used science to create evil in the world. What a blast and a great learning opportunity. So I highly suggest loading up on science kits when you find them and storing them away for the perfect moment.
We didn’t just focus on superheroes this week but also on how to be a superhero to people around us in the community or our homes. We colored and wrote a book about how we are all superheroes, we talked about how to be superheroes to each other and Aria wrote about how Skylar was a superhero to her because she is a sweet sister (which was just the cutest). Aria also read a book to her sister and we went through their toys and picked out items to donate in the process of moving Skylar into Aria’s room and actually making a schoolroom. We’ve continued doing our Fruits of the Spirit rocks from earlier in the year and this week luckily overlapped with filling our jar the second time. So we also talked about how showing the fruits of the spirit in our lives and to others makes us superheroes!
If you’ve never done this unit with your child but they love superheroes, I can’t recommend it enough. My girls are obsessed with anything superhero and play with our box of superheroes almost every day, so it was great to set them up to look at their box of superheroes now and think about how they can also be superheroes. While I of course am glad we had a chance to so thoroughly review our letters and sight words, if there is one lesson I hope is most effective this year, it is how to be good human beings in their community and in our home. I can’t wait to see what sort of superheroes my children become someday and hope they always take every opportunity to help those around them.
Jessica and Ana
Our Homeschooling Mission Statement: We will strive to be patient, godly examples to our children, integrating biblical principles and morality into every subject. Learning should be fun. We will foster an attitude of lifelong curiosity and play while providing the best possible education we can through books, art, technology, food, tactile activities, and cultural experiences. Learning will not be dictated by hours on a clock but will be a way of life for our families.