Homeschool Room Tour Fall 2014

Not much has changed since our last homeschool room tour here {which also has a video}. But there are a few changes, and I will focus on those in this post!

Homeschool Room

Our Homeschool room has evolved greatly over the years.  Here’s a look back, for those of you who like to see how I got to where we are now. Posts go in order from oldest at the top to most recent at the bottom.

Our Current Homeschool Room

Here’s a view of the entire room, kind of. It’s hard to get the whole thing!

Homeschool Room


The first new addition is a central computer area for the boys, mostly since they are using Teaching Textbooks math.  We got the desk at a thrift shop for $20 and it fits perfectly!

Homeschool Room Computer


The colored drawer unit is VERY old and was in our storage room.  I relocated it to have a place to sort out Ladybug’s K units ahead of time.  I used a dry erase marker to write directly on the drawers and will erase as I switch out units.

Homeschool Room Storage Drawers

Right now, the top 4 drawers have her upcoming Kindergarten Literature Units all ready to go, and the bottom drawers have her You Can Read units all ready to go. We are prepped and planned through the end of October at least.

Homeschool Room Units


Towards the front of the room, we had to add a gas heater so our original movement corner had to move.  We also added K’s gymnastics mushroom {see it in action here on Instagram}. To the left is Ladybug’s theme shelf {set up for our My Cats Nick and Nora Unit}.

Homeschool Room


Opposite of that corner is the rest of our movement stuff; a trampoline, a gym mat, and some other things.  You can also see our learning toy storage system.

Homeschool Room Movement Area


To the left you can see our Spielgaben free play area. The shelf is Trofast from Ikea.

Homeschool Room Spielgaben Free Play Area

Close up of our current drawer labels.  Learn how to make your own here!

Homeschool Room Drawers


In the back left corner of the room is PacMan’s area, this is his desk. We use two shoe shelves from Target for his books. {Ikea no longer carries the Expedit system which is his desk.  The new Kallax line is similar but doesn’t seem to have his desk yet.}

Homeschool Room Desk Homeschool Room Desk


Each shelf is labeled to help prevent messiness.  It works well!

Homeschool Room Desk


This is the view standing at Pac’s desk looking forward.

Homeschool Room

Homeschool Room

Our crayons, markers and colored pencils are sorted by color in these bins, hooked to this ledge {from Ikea}. We have used this method for years and it works great!  On the bottom ledge are Ladybug’s easy readers and another cup containing sharpened pencils.

Sort crayons by color

Our Continent Boxes are stored up on top of the big white shelf by Pac’s desk.

Continent Boxes

On a middle shelf are the chapter books I have selected so far for the boys. P’s are on the right {7th grade}, K’s on the left {3rd grade}

3rd Grade Chapter Books 7th Grade Chapter Books

On the very bottom shelf behind our bean bag is our collection of Children’s Bibles and our container of fidgets {sensory items for little hands to hold}. The other shelves contain magazine boxes with our books, see the book storage method we use.

Children's Bibles


In the shot below you can see the white shelf on the far right. The two little desks are the same as last year.  The one with the red chair is Ladybug’s and the other belong to Krash.  He needs a bigger desk soon but we are saving money and making this one last as long as possible!

Homeschool Room


All kids still use their color coded school supply storage bins.  I refreshed each kid this year with new supplies!

Color Coded School Supply Storage

That’s a brief tour for this year, be sure to visit iHomeschool Network to see even more homeschool rooms!

Some other helpful posts that feature our schoolroom and things in it {past and present}…

Tame the Toys  Color Coded Homeschool Supplies

Help for the Energetic Child  organizing school and office supplies in an over the door shoe hanger

school supply labels  Calendar Time Ideas and Printables

Homeschool Room Tour 2013  Homeschool Room


Blessed with Boundless Energy

Help for the Energetic Child

Almost since his birth, we have noticed that our sweet Krash was a bit on the HIGH energy side of life.  Now at age 7, we have more than confirmed that his daily energy output is much more than the average child and literally exhausts adults around him! We choose to look at his massive energizer bunny state as a wonderful gift from God.  If you ask him about it, he will tell you his abundant energy is a gift, not a problem.  It is our job as his parents to help him channel this energy positively and teach him how to have self control when he needs to put his high activity level away.

Homeschooling can certainly be a challenge for me, and I am constantly trying new things to help our day run more smoothly. I learned early on that doing things the old fashioned way would never work with him, so we’ve always homeschooled a bit on the livelier end with him.  Now, in 2nd grade, the subjects get a bit longer and the seat work required is a bit more.  I am attacking the challenge head on and doing my best to adapt our environment to meet his needs, while also challenging him to learn self control and the ability to tone down the energy at specific times.  We call it, “putting the energy in your pocket for now.”  We never want him to think his energy is a nuisance, a problem, something that makes him a bad kid, or anything negative.  We firmly believe God will use his boundless energy for great work in the Kingdom one day! We are thrilled that he was blessed with this gift, even if it does challenge us at times!

Many of the ideas I have in this post have come from lots of research I have done browsing around on OT {occupational therapy} sites.  Krash isn’t diagnosed with anything, but I am always looking for ways to engage his energy seeking body. I am a student of my child and constantly reading, growing, and learning all about how to meet his needs

Adapting Homeschool for an Active Child

Here are some of the things we are doing during the school day {and all of the time} to help him channel this energy.  Specifically, I have him do some highly energetic movement and some relaxing focused balance type work right before we begin any seat work.  We have been going in this order and it has helped a lot.

You can follow me on Instagram to see many of the things he is doing, sometimes I show little videos of him.  Here are a few if you haven’t seen them:..

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{disclaimer ~ affiliate links are used below, thanks for your support!}

Energetic Work

  • Jumping on the mini trampoline, often crashing into our huge beanbag {}
  • Jumping Rope
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Cartwheels, Round-Offs
  • Running up and down the stairs a few times
  • Play outside if weather and time permits

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Focused, Calming, Balance Work

  • Handstands, Headstands
  • Using the balance ball for balance in many ways
  • Lying on the floor for a balance or medicine ball “massage” from mom {basically I roll the ball over his back and arms to help relax and calm him}

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Help While Working at the Table

    Obviously seat work is required for a 2nd grader, as much as he wishes it wasn’t! We have high expectations for him as he learns that there is a time to wiggle and a time to control the impulse to wiggle. We do provide him with some resources to try to help him, since even as an adult I struggle with the wiggles!   We have found the Balance Board to be the best solution, with the Balance Disk coming in a close second.

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We have tried sitting on the balance ball but it didn’t work for him, for now he is on a simple stool, but I’d love to find a better seating solution that is affordable. For now this has to work.

In the photo below he has the disk up on a stool but we had to remove that since our stool wasn’t sturdy enough and kept flipping {translated ~ driving mommy nuts}.  Placing it on the floor {as shown above with the board} is working better because it forces him to sit closer to the edge of his stool which helps with the rocking back and forth on the stool {also drives me nuts}. He prefers the board {above} over the disk {below} right now.

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Sometimes he uses a hand fidget {the purple spikey ball shown below}, but often for him they become a source of trouble.  It varies from day to day whether it is a distraction or a help.  For some kids it is a BIG help, it’s worth a try! You can also see the hands on math work he is doing, I bring as MUCH as possible for him to do with his hands.  Here’s a simple blog post explaining what a fidget is if you’ve never heard of them.

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The specific tools we have are listed below and throughout the post.  We have acquired them over the years and have been adding to our collection as we are able to.  Some of these are pricey, so I am putting them in the order we are using them most.

Putting Krash in gymnastics was one of the best decisions we ever gymnastics meet-1416made, he is now on a competitive team and is thriving in so many ways.  It has given him focus, determination, and helped his self esteem tremendously. If you have a child with boundless energy, I definitely think trying gymnastics is a great idea if you can afford it! It has been way more than just a sport for him, we are so grateful.

We love our little energizer bunny and are so grateful for the journey we are on with him.  Children blessed with boundless energy are unique and wonderful, I feel it is our job as parents to help them see themselves this way.  Often the world will look at them as being a problem, even close friends and family members will often see them this way. Our positive attitude towards our child’s energy can help them feel more confident in who God made them to be!

Do you have a child blessed with boundless energy? 

What are some ways you are helping your child?

Homeschool Room Tour 2013-2014

Homeschool Room Tour 2013

Note ~ there is a video tour at the end of this post!

Our Homeschool room has evolved greatly over the years.  Here’s a look back, for those of you who like to see how I got to where we are now.

Now, an updated view into our “new” schoolroom which we have now happily and GRATEFULLY used for 3 years!  This will be our 4th year in this room and I am still so thankful for this amazing space!

I do not think everyone needs a specific homeschool room, nor one this large.  Many families enjoy schooling all over the house and not having a designated room.  Some aren’t able to have a designated room, or have a very small area.  I don’t think it matters at all!  We were blessed with this amazingly large space and I am forever grateful for it.  It fits my personality perfectly and feels a bit like God reached down and gave me just the perfect “I love you” gift.

Our schoolroom opens into our dining room, as you will see.  This is the view as you are walking in…

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I will take you through the room, with details about each of the main sections.

This is the front left corner, which has a little play area, our large US wall map {no clue where it’s from, it was a generous hand me down gift}, and our movement area.

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I repurposed an old shelf and created a little play area for the kids.  It is also used for Ladybug’s theme work display if we have a theme going on.

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This is our movement area, the basket in the corner is filled with all sorts of PE type things, they mostly enjoy the jump ropes!  We also have an exercise ball, but have to keep it up since the cat likes to claw it!  The kids LOVE the trampoline, it is a fabulous addition as of last year for helping with the wiggles.  The things on the left are called paralettes and are for working parallel bar skills {for Krash who is on a boy’s gymnastics team}.

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We have 4 tall Trofast shelves put together, but the ones we have are not on their website anymore.  I am not sure if they still carry the exact ones we have at the store or not.  The easel is also from Ikea. 

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Each bin is already labeled like this, or in the process of being labeled.  I copied the image from the product site or a Google search and printed them on cardstock, then laminated {no, I don’t have a printable to share, sorry}. This has been a wonderful addition, helping the kids remember all of the great stuff we have to play with!  The kids are allowed to access any of this at any time.



This is Ladybug’s current learning area, the shot was taken right before school started this year…

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Items you see: Large Pocket Chart, blue calendar, red weather calendar{similar}, cork boards, Trofast shelf, Trofast drawers.  Desk is from Ikea, but it is no longer carried.


Below is a new shelf repurposed from another part of the house.  I wanted all of our Bibles in the schoolroom next to the beanbag {Ahh Prods}, and a place for our essential oil diffuser!  I also made the bottom shelf for Ladybug, to put her letter focused activities on.

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I reworked this area below into a writing/drawing area, but the kids have largely ignored it so far. The basket is filled with different scrap paper, our drawing books are on top, and different coloring books, activity pads, blank pads, etc. are in the drawers.

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This is Krash’s area, his desk is an old Ikea table donated to use by friends.  His is the brown chair {Ladybug’s desk is right net to his with the red chair}

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The green drawers used to be his Workboxes, but we don’t use them anymore, I followed the lead of the child and he wasn’t digging them.  He likes his work better on a list to check off.  So now, he has some storage drawers, which he really needed since he drags things everywhere. 

To the right of K’s desk area, is another storage area, where a variety of items are stored.  {links to bookshelf and ledges in this post}.  You can see much of our All About Spelling and Reading items on the shelves. The crayons are in these, also from Ikea.  On the top of the shelf with drawers and the bottom book ledge is our current continent study materials.

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To the right is a white bookshelf from Ikea, which stores our MANY books {well, part of them}.  See our book storage post here!  Near the top is where our Continent Boxes are stored, as well as a few math supplies.



This is Pac’s desk, links to specific items he has are in this post.  New this year is an additional shoe shelf {from Target} for his textbooks.Homeschool Room -5943


This is on the wall opposite of Pac’s desk, the door leads to our mud room/garage/outside the front of the house door.  Much on the wall isn’t school related, but more “front door” related.  We have books and other school supplies stored on the back shelf. In the white cabinet is our games, and other books.  The cabinet is from Ikea too, shocker {no clue what it’s called}.



These are more learning tools, Spielgaben on top, phonics drawers on bottom along with learning supplies we use often {green boxes are from Target}.

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I store office supplies like this, in the plastic Target bins.



This is a view of my desk from the front of the room {links and more about my desk here}.  The kick out portion of my desk is where the kids come to sit with me individually when they get their 1:1 instruction, or when they have computer time {we have a family desktop computer}.

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Beyond thrilled that Target dollar Spot allowed me to refresh the look of my desk for SUPER cheap! All of those nice new orange and pink bins are new!

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For those of you who are super interested, I made you a video tour!  I consolidated as much as possible but I still blabber a bit, so it is about 9 minutes long!

Cruising with Young Kids ~ Tips and Tricks

Cruising with Young Kids

It is true – we have been on quite a few cruises, and we realize what an amazing blessing this is.  We could never afford to do this on our own and are spoiled by grandparents.  Recently real life friends asked me for advice about cruising with tots, and I figured they probably weren’t the only ones with questions!  Because of our cruising experience, I thought I would share some things I have learned along the way for those of you who might be thinking of taking a cruise in the future, with young kids. It really is a great experience and way more affordable for us homeschoolers who can easily go during the off season.  All of our cruises have been purposely planned {by my mom} during the absolute cheapest times of the year {usually Feb-Mar}.

We have cruised multiple times {with young kids and without}, but with the young kids we have been on Royal Caribbean {once ~ Freedom of the Seas} and Holland America {more than once ~ Nieuw Amsterdam, Westerdam, Eurodam}.  The youngest we have taken a child cruising with us was age 1 {Ladybug}.

Our favorite…

Holland America for sure!  Here’s why…

  • Holland America ships are smaller ships with less to do.  This may seem like a bad thing with kids, but we personally think it is a great thing.  The Royal Caribbean ship was so big {we weren’t even on their biggest one!} and had so much to do {rock climbing, putt putt, ice skating, etc.} we felt like we were always trying to fit in something else. It was honestly exhausting!
  • HEATED POOL…need I say more?  Oh yeah and it has a glass “ceiling” that closes if it rains or is chilly!  The pool wasn’t huge and is “deep” even at the shallow end, but this didn’t bother us-the heat made up for it! Royal’s pool was freezing and it was chilly the week we went so we were in the pool very little. Sure they had an awesome kiddie pool and spray park but my kids were shaking and blue because they were so cold!
  • The service…amazing!  Although Royal Caribbean had awesome service too, Holland America steps it up a notch.  Honestly it is just in the genuine kindness you feel from just about everyone on board.
  • The food…awesome!  Again, Royal had great food too, but Holland America steps it up, especially with their breakfast/lunch buffet options.
  • HAL Kids Program…wonderful!  It begins for age 3 and goes up.  Each night, we had a late dinner seating {8pm} but HAL opened at 7pm, so the boys could just eat at the buffet {Lido deck} and head up to their club. Other ships have amazing kids’ programs too.  Be sure you know ages, most are potty trained 3 years old and up only.

But, you might not be like us!

Many people would disagree with us for choosing an “older people” ship as our favorite with young kids, but we like to relax, not be so busy.  If you enjoy constant activity, have lot of energy, love crowds and tons of kids, I definitely recommend choosing Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Carnival, Disney or one of the more kid activity based ships.


Packing Tips…

Cruising with a Tot

  • clothespins {to hang up wet suits everywhere!}
  • power strip {there are usually only 1-2 outlets and taking things in and out is a pain}
  • DVDs {check beforehand, all of our rooms had DVD players in room, if not-bring a small one}
  • noise machine, the hallways get loud
  • night light
  • wet bag {or plastic store bags, to tote wet items}
  • lanyard/hole punch {to use for your key cards, wear them as necklaces}
  • bandaids
  • more sunscreen than you would ever think you’d need, oh and sunscreen chapstick!
  • hats for everyone, swim shirts too-the sun at sea is brutal
  • wind breakers/sweatshirts
  • blow up ducky pool {many rooms have showers only, and if you have a kid who only takes baths, you don’t want the fight in a tiny cruise ship bathroom}
  • umbrella stroller {yup, even for kids a bit too old for one} We brought one on a whim when Ladybug was almost 4 and used it at every port and are so glad we brought it at the last minute.
  • baby carrier {Ergo recommended} for non-walking babies. We used this a LOT when Ladybug was 1.
  • small toys {Littlest Pet Shops, play doh, cars, squinkies, crayons, coloring books, etc.} They are easy to pack and bring to dinner to occupy kids when the wait is long.
  • small purse for little girls, or bag for boys {to carry those tiny toys you brought}.  We brought a tiny bag with tiny toys to dinner on the nights when she came with us and it helped tremendously for multiple course meals!  iPads/iPhones aren’t a bad distraction either!

      A few other things to think about when planning…

    Potty Trained?

Many cruise ships have a potty-trained only rule about their pools.  This means no swim diapers of any sort. Be prepared if you aren’t going on a ship with kiddie pools {no Holland America ships had kiddie pools}. I have heard people bring small blow up pools to let babies sit in on deck.

Sleep Arrangements

All cruises we have been on provided a pack and play free of charge and we used that, be sure to ask, I am not sure all cruise lines provide one.  When Ladybug was almost 4 she slept in the loft bed for the first time, with a nice pillow border we created.  She LOVED it!


Bring your own blow up rings/floaty devices, even for your older kids.  They are fun and every child wants one, we regretted the year we only brought one for Ladybug and not the boys.  Last year was much more peaceful, we brought 4 {in case one popped}. Also-goggles, swim socks/shoes for young tots {decks can be slippery}, swim shirts, hats {our favorite}, sunscreen, sunglasses, etc.

You Don’t Have to Get Off the Boat!

Some of our favorite times are when we stay on the ship when others get off at a port!  We have a few ports we don’t care for {with kids} and we love to enjoy the empty pool. Once our kids are older this may change, but while we have a young one, some ports just aren’t worth the trouble of lugging them all around, especially if you’ve already seen it once.

Balcony or Not?

We have only sailed with a balcony one time, the others have mostly been the cheapest inside staterooms, and once we had a window.  We got the balcony this past time and although it was nice, I don’t think I would pay extra for it, since we didn’t use it nearly as much as I thought we might. Some would disagree, but I vote for saving money!

Room Service Breakfast

It took a few cruises for us to figure out what a gem this service was to us.  You see, I am not a morning person and neither is Ladybug. Having to get dressed and look decent just to go get breakfast was a bummer to us.  Cruises offer free 24 hour room service, just fill out the card and hang it on the door with the time you want it delivered.  This also made sure we didn’t oversleep and miss the day!

Tot Food and Drinks

If you have a younger tot still using a sippy cup, be sure to bring a stash of disposable sippy cups and a small bottle of dish soap. I just rinsed them out all week long in our sink and we always had a cup of water, juice or milk in the little room fridge for her. Also, we would snag tot snacks for her to keep in the room too {yogurt, cereal, crackers, bananas}, all from the buffet or from room service.


Have you cruised with young kids?  Any advice to add to my list?

Following her lead…

Following the Lead of Your Preschooler at Home

As I continue to follow the lead of the child, I am back to the drawing board with Ladybug {age 4}. What worked for her last year, is no longer working and, it is time to change. I still like the current routine, curriculum, and plan I have, however, she isn’t thriving as she once was so I am back to the drawing board. I enjoyed rereading Developmentally Appropriate Practice for Homeschoolers {a guest post from Becky on my blog} to get my wheels spinning once again.

I have decided to not use any formal curriculum for Preschool or Kindergarten, and instead enroll her in Calvert 1st grade when I feel she is ready. This gives me a lot of freedom, and since she is a younger 4 {turned 4 in April 2013}.  I have plenty of time, we are in no hurry! I really want to enjoy these last early childhood years, it is truly my favorite time in a child’s educational life. We aren’t planning to have anymore children, so this is my last couple of years to fully engage and enjoy this time period with my youngest!

Wait ~ does that mean I might stop using my own preschool program?  Yup. Just because I made it, doesn’t mean it is right for her.  All kids are different and she isn’t thriving quite as well as Krash did.  It may be because I am a bit burnt out with it, since I use it for my 4-5 year old Children’s Church class too. Maybe I have lost my enthusiasm at home, I’m not sure if it’s her or me.  I used RRSP in my church class all last year and am in the second round now. Plus, she just joined my class as a 4 year old, so she is getting the lessons there! So, although it is hard for me, we might be putting away most aspects of RRSP.  I do plan to still use certain aspects of it, but the overall program might be taking a backseat.

{disclaimer ~ there are affiliate links below}

Home Preschool

In preparation to change things up, I made a list of things about her that stand out to me…

  • loves books, reading alone and being read to
  • loves anything with paint {Q tip painting, finger painting, anything.}
  • loves music, instruments, dancing, and being silly
  • loves playing independently for long periods, once she gets going
  • loves creative play {role play, dress up, etc.}
  • loves bugs, dirt, worms, & being dirty {see example above}
  • loves the letter of the week idea, and the abc basket collections
  • loves playing with tiny toys, the phonics box items are a big hit
  • does not like letter mazes, color by number, or “school” coloring anymore
  • like cutting, and is getting more into bigger cutting projects
  • loves anything with glue
  • loves puzzles
  • loves themes and most of the theme pack activities
  • does not have good social/emotional skills
  • loves ABC Find It, and Animal ABC letter crafts
  • enjoys her All About Reading Pre lessons
  • does not enjoy her workbox set up anymore
  • loves displaying and admiring her completed work
  • does not beg to do school anymore, will do it, but doesn’t beg like she used to
  • loves playing for long periods, alone or with me
  • loves crafts {mommy directed is a big hit}
  • gets very frustrated with transitions
  • loves feeling significant and included, longs to have responsibilities
  • loves surprises and doing little things with me {games, projects, art}
  • loves sensory bins, sensory play, play dough, shaving cream play, ANY messy play
  • loves learning apps, especially if I cuddle up and learn with her
  • is resistant to learning to read, even though she has the basic reading readiness skills.  the desire isn’t there so she isn’t ready yet
  • loves Montessori style activities
  • loves magnets and her cookie sheet
  • loves “calendar” time and the silly songs and games we play
  • isn’t as interested in “doing what her big brothers are doing” as she used to be

I am currently praying about our plan, I have a few ideas in mind, but am going to think, pray and plan slowly over the next few weeks.  Sadly, I already got what I thought we were going to do all printed and ready.  It is very hard for my Type A self to let go of the original plan, but I simply must,  I want my child to thrive and love learning.  I must practice what I preach, and follow her lead.

You can see a similar post to this one, that I wrote when she was 32 months old. I revaluate often to meet her current needs.  As you make your own plan, or revaluate your current plan, I recommend making a list similar to the one above, and one for yourself too!  It is about finding the balance between the child, the parent-teacher and the entire family’s needs during this season of life. If it isn’t working, some simple changes might make everyone happier. Just because it looks really great on someone else’s blog, doesn’t mean it will work in your home!

Ideas in my brain spin…

  • Read even more than we already do
  • Art daily, or some type of messy play {we usually do, but I need to up this for her}
  • Be more intentional with music play, and use our Laurie Berkner DVD more
  • Montessori at Home! ideas {we use them, but I think using them more would be good for her}
  • Spielgaben Educational Toys {reviewing soon, this looks like a GREAT fit for her interests}
  • Keep letter of the week, she loves this, keep All About Reading Pre also
  • Definitely learning app time with and without me, and online books.  Use We Give Books more.
  • Lots of sensory play, themed or not
  • Focused social and emotional skills time {she really needs work here}
  • Reorganize our learning materials and make Quiet Boxes {for her own independent school time}

I am still brainstorming and praying, stay tuned to see our plan!