We Choose Virtues New Website & Giveaway

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We Choose Virtues has launched a brand new website, and has an awesome 20% discount code {FAMILY 20} for the Family Kit, which includes: familyKit_grande

You can see a post I wrote last year about using We Choose Virtues in our home.

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I am excited to host a giveaway too! 

One of you will win a set of Parenting Cards {34.99 value!} teacher-virtue-cards-family_grande

Just use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter!

Giveaway is open to US residents only and ends 1/24/13

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Just Color ~ Valentine’s Day Love

The idea behind Just Color! is simple ~ theme packs all focused around coloring. There are mostly coloring pages, and a few coloring activities. The coloring pages are all in one download to make it easier to download and print all at once, in case you have coloring monsters like I do!

I just added a new Valentines Day Coloring set!

Just Color Valentines Day Love

This set features a few pages with traceable Bible verses about love, which is what we focus on around Valentines Day!

Love Bible Verse Coloring and Tracing

Remember, if you want to make a mini coloring book, you can always scale down PDF files! If you have any problems downloading or printing these or other PDF files, see troubleshooting tips here.


Looking for more Valentines Day & LOVE fun?

Love Printables and More



Teach Them Diligently

Teach Them Diligently Convention

The following is a guest post written by David Nunnery, for Teach Them Diligently.  Although I will be unable to attend any of the 2013 conventions, I am honored to have them as a blog sponsor and am excited to spread the word about this amazing opportunity.  If you live close to one of the venues {Spartanburg, SC; Nashville, TN; and Omaha, NE}, I pray you will have the opportunity to attend! The focus of missions is obviously near to my heart, what a wonderful way to combine so many aspects of parenting, Christian faith and homeschooling all into one convention!

The Teach Them Diligently Convention was born out of a recognized need for more events celebrating the focus of Christian Homeschool Families—which is to disciple their children to glorify God. The organizers of this Convention are also officers of Worldwide Tentmakers which is a Mission Agency focused on Tentmaking as a missions strategy as you would find in Acts 18. Therefore, Missions, discipleship, and parenting will be a large focus for the Teach Them Diligently Convention. This will be added to the normal Homeschool Convention focus on teaching techniques and use of curriculum.

Second, all of the profits for the Teach Them Diligently Convention will go to missions. It is our hope to help parents infuse their educational programs with a Great Commission focus. Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God (I Cor. 10:31). We desire to focus parents and children on the fact that we should be seeking opportunities to spread the fame of our Lord Jesus Christ whether through school, playing sports, or running the family business.

Certainly, families attend Homeschool Conventions to learn and buy new educational products and to hear speakers and attend workshops. Another driving motivation is camaraderie. I know this is true with my wife and myself. After spending vast amounts of time with people in churches and larger family outings where there are few homeschoolers around, there is this underlying feeling that your focus and parenting do not match those around you. Then at a Convention, a mom or dad or child is suddenly surrounded with several thousand homeschool families. By further specifying that this is a Christian Homeschool Convention in which the vast majority of the families are attending because of their desire to disciple their children, it is our belief that camaraderie will be that much more enhanced.

So in conclusion, why should your family attend the Teach Them Diligently Convention?

•It will be enjoyable!

•Great Speakers and workshops

•Fellowship with other Christian Homeschool Families and Speakers

•Preaching

•Missions

•Knowledge, Wisdom, Understanding

•Shopping and Introduction to new educational products

If you are a Christian Homeschool Family, this is the Convention you want to attend. There will be something for everyone.  Our featured speakers this year are Pam Tebow, mom of Tim Tebow; Ken Ham, of Answers in Genesis; Sally Clarkson, and Heidi St. John. 

Teach Them Diligently Homeschool Convention Speakers

We also have many other terrific speakers you will not want to miss and a large exhibit hall.  All three of our conventions are in May 2013 in Spartanburg, SC; Nashville, TN; and Omaha, NE.  Hope to see you there!  www.teachthemdiligently.net.



How to Plan Using Themes for Tots and Preschoolers

How to Plan Using Themes

I don’t always have a theme going on, but I often base Tot School, Preschool, and Kindergarten activities around a theme. I am going to share a bit about how I organize my thoughts, our stuff, and our week within a theme. This post is more for those moms who are feeling a bit lost and just need some simple direction. If you already use themes in your homeschool, I doubt you will learn anything new ~ I could probably learn from you!

Before I begin, please know that it is totally OK if you don’t do theme based learning with young kids.  I did very little of this with PacMan, and he has turned out just fine!  I think we homeschool moms can tend to go overboard sometimes, and feel the need to do it all.  I struggle with this too and need to remind myself that my simple presence as their mom and teacher is more important than any theme we ever do!  That being said, I do enjoy our themes and so do my kids.  We all think it is fun, so it works for us right now during this season of life!


~ How I Choose Themes ~

Themes in our homeschool are usually chosen one of two ways.  First, I will develop a school theme around a particular interest my child has.  A few examples of this in action are below…

The second way I choose themes is based around seasons or holidays.


~ How I Plan for the Theme ~

Once I have decided on the theme, I gather all of my own items, which includes:

  • Sensory Bin items {we don’t always have a sensory bin, but often I do include one for theme weeks}
  • Special toys {animals, games, etc.} that go along with the theme
  • Printables
  • Books IMG_0668

After I gather what I already have I begin searching online for what is new, mainly in the area of printables.  I create a Pinterest board for the theme and record all of my findings, whether I use them or not.  Using the Angry Birds theme as an example, here is my idea collection board. I try to keep my Pinterest Boards alphabetized in the theme section, so you can easily find my ideas.  This way when I go back to blog about anything, I can easily find links to share when we used things others have created.

I do not print an entire printable pack.  I usually will only print a few pages specific to the interests/abilities of my child. 

I utilize notebooks to save on printing and laminating.  I will put together a notebook with printables.  Printables that can be used with dry erase markers are slipped into heavy weight sheet protectors.  Consumable printables are 3 hole punched and placed in the notebook also, so I don’t forget what I have. Below is a photo of her Fall Theme notebook…

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I get my new themes set up for the kids on Sunday evening, so that is my final night of prep and set up.  By that point it is fairly easy to pull out and set up everything I have gathered.  Here are a few photos of theme set ups, the beauty only lasts for a few seconds on Monday morning, the rest of the week it is always a bit chaotic.  I enjoy the organized set-up and display! I do NOT always do an elaborate set-up for a theme, it is certainly not necessary at all.  Ladybug really enjoys the display so I will do it for her if I have the energy!

All photos are linked to the blog post they came from. Our shelf is from Ikea {Trofast}.

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Pumpkin Tot School-3446 Thanksgiving Theme Tot School-4075



~ How I Organize the Stuff ~

Along with themes comes a lot of stuff; books, sensory bin items, special toys/games, and of course printables! When certain themes are not in use, the stuff is sorted so I can find it easily. 

Printables are stored using this methodStoring Theme Printables

 

Books are sorted using this methodBook Storage

 

Extra stuff, including small toys, animals, and more are stored in labeled bins.  Although, some things that are played with on a regular basis, are sorted within their regular toys so I have to remember to dig things out. Here are a couple of my bins, which are stored in our storage room.  You can see our homeschool storage room here, and here.

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I store seasonal themes in bigger bins, with the book boxes alongside.  Here is a shot of my storage shelves for the season themes…

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~ A Few FAQ ~

Do you use everything you print, or set up out for a theme?

NO!  I almost always have more than we use.  If my young child isn’t interested, we skip certain things.  I do my best to print and create activities my child will enjoy, but sometimes I am wrong.  I believe in child-led exploration and learning during the younger years, so even though I may fill her trays and notebook with many activities, it is OK if she only chooses to do a few. 

What about “normal” school during a theme?

Usually I just throw in a theme along with whatever curriculum/program we are using.  There are times I will take a break from regular curriculum and just do a theme.  I don’t have any set rule for this, I just go with the flow.

What about multiple ages?  What do your other kids do when a theme is planned specifically for 1 child?

I do my best to include the other kids in a theme as much as possible.  PacMan joins in with special games, and also loves sensory bin play! If a theme is for Krash {such as Angry Birds} I find ways to included the other 2 in the play/learning time too. Same is true when ladybug has a special theme, such as Doc McStuffins.  We all played doctor the animals together!  I usually focus my theme efforts around one child {age}, and then will add in a couple of extras for the others.


Be sure to visit iHomeschool Network to see more Homeschool Planning posts!

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The Best Seat in the House

Ahh Bean Bag Chairs

AHH Bean Bag Chairs {Ahh Products} have been a part of our life for a few years now!  I wrote a bean bag chair review back in 2010, when we were first introduced! We currently own 3 bean bag chairs, and they are each used daily.  If you follow my blog, you see them in tons of homeschooling pictures!  Be sure to read my full review here, if you are looking for even more details, this review is an update now that we have owned them for a couple of years.

Bean Bag Chair

Because my children use these beanbags not only as places to snuggle and sit, but also as jumping pads, they have had to be refilled. Jade from AHH Products has really helped me understand this and why jumping on them will flatten them out and just sitting will leave them feeling fuller.  Bean Bag Chair

So, I will say, if you have kids who you think will use these for fun, you should expect to refill them in the future.  Jade assured me that when they are used for sitting only, the air in the Styrofoam pellets doesn’t compress and flatten out as much.

Bean Bag Chair

Jade told me her daughter has a 37” bean bag and has had it for 5 years and it has never been refilled, but she only uses it for sitting!  My kids most certainly use ours for active play.  For us, this is great, and the refill is worth it.  They are pieces of furniture for us, but also are durable enough to withstand the craziness of our kids.

Bean Bag Chair

Also, I must share that 2 of our bean bags have been urinated on by our cat, and you would never know.  The covers slipped right off and the waterproof liner protected it as it said it would.  The cuddle fabric we have washed up beautifully and still looks brand new.

Bean Bag Chair

Some specific info on the bean bags from www.ahhprods.com ~

  • Cover, Liner, and Filling: nothing else to buy
  • Zip-off, machine-washable cover
  • Covers made of high quality fabrics, including "true" 14 ounce denims
  • Water-repel, stain-resist liner made of extremely strong microfiber that holds the filling
  • Refillable liners have child-resistant self-locking zippers
  • Double-stitched seams on covers and liners, will not break
  • Hidden seams for finished look preferred by professional decorators
  • Made in Virginia, USA
  • 10 year warranty, will last years beyond that
  • Exceeds U.S. flammability standards
  • Choice of regular or virgin bead Styrofoam filling for what you expect a bean bag to feel like
  • $25 refill discount for AHH bean bag owners only
  • 365-day no-hassle return policy
  • Shipping included