It’s Back To (Public) School For Us! {25% off coupon at OshKosh B’gosh, too!}

I participated in a Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for OshKosh B’gosh. I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.  #backtobgosh #BgoshJeanius

Osh Kosh B'GoshLast year, I homeschooled the boys.  It's what was right for our family at the time and given the opportunity, I'd do it all over again.  I'm so happy that I had extra time with my boys!  The Captain was in kindergarten and D followed right behind him, trying to do all that he did.  About mid-year, the Captain, who had major school anxiety in pre-k for months, started talking about maybe trying public school for first grade.  We talked about it a lot since then, and now he is fully on board and registered for first grade public school.  This mama is nervous, he's a bit apprehensive, (big word that his Grampy taught him!) and he convinced D (and us) that he needed to try pre-k, too.  They love being together and I think they will both do better knowing that Brother is there, too.

Well, now D is very apprehensive, so we are doing all that we can to encourage him and let him know that he will: A) have fun and B) be okay!  I hope to update you in a few weeks that things are going great.  Pray for us!!

The first step in back-to-school preparation is shopping, of course!  We went to OshKosh B'Gosh to get some great deals on clothing that we all can agree on.  The Captain loves his sporty clothes and D loves jeans and lucky for me, OshKosh is the perfect place for both!  They have great sales, coupons (check below for a great one,) clearance, and their clothes are great quality that will last.  

#backtobgosh #BgoshJeanius

D is my child that would rather run around in mismatched jammies and save all of his money that he earns.  The Captain is always talking him into spending his money on different things, most of the time, it's gum.  D would spend $20 on just gum if we let him.  I wanted him to be excited about going to school and wearing new clothes, but he was not so thrilled to go shopping for clothes.  When he laid eyes on this awesome shirt, though, he was sold.  Throw in some jeans and some sporty clothes, and he was done.  He quickly tried them on and then it was back to being silly 4 year-old.  

The Captain grabbed four times as many clothes as D and enjoyed every second of the whole clothes shopping process.  They are two totally different personalities!  Neither of them are crazy about trying clothes on, but when it involves a large dressing room with your family, then it's not so bad.

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Watch Disneynature’s “Monkey Kingdom,” Learn, and Give Back!

monkeykingdom54877da023d63I am so excited about the newest movie from Disneynature!  "Monkey Kingdom" is coming to theatres on April 17, just in time to celebrate Earth Day 2015.  My boys are excited about this movie, because they are in love with animals!  

About the movie:

Life is an adventure for Maya, the clever and resourceful blonde-bobbed monkey in “Monkey Kingdom,” Disneynature’s new feature film set among ancient ruins in the storied jungles of South Asia. Maya’s world is forever changed when she welcomes her son, Kip, into her complicated extended family. Like all families, Maya’s has more than its share of colorful personalities—and she’s determined to give her son a leg up in the world. When their longtime home at Castle Rock is taken over by powerful neighboring monkeys, Maya's whole family retreats, and she uses her street smarts and ingenuity to uncover untapped resources amidst strange new creatures and unsettling surroundings. Ultimately, they will all have to work together to reclaim Castle Rock, where Maya can hopefully realize her dreams for her son’s future.

 

Featuring a rich variety of characters, including a mischievous mongoose, simple-minded langur monkeys, predatory leopards and monitor lizards, “MonkeyKingdom” is narrated by Tina Fey (“30 Rock”), directed by Mark Linfield (“Chimpanzee,” “Earth”) and co-directed by Alastair Fothergill (“Chimpanzee,” “Bears”). With music from award-winning composer Harry Gregson-Williams ("The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," “Shrek” movies), Disneynature’s eighth True Life Adventure—the follow-up to 2014’s “Bears”—swings into theaters April 17, 2015.

monkeykingdom547fa84e5b6d9 monkeykingdom547fa84e7cbf9And to make the educational message stick further, download the free activity pages in the Educator's Guide.

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Did you know?

  •   For every ticket sold opening week (April 17-23, 2015), Disneynature will make a donation to Conservation International to help    protect monkeysand other endangered species in their natural habitats. 
  • “Monkey Kingdom” is the sixth theatrical release for Disneynature, the first new Disney-branded film label from The Walt Disney Studios in more than 60 years.  The label was launched in April 2008 to bring the world’s top nature filmmakers together to capture a variety of wildlife subjects and stories.
  • The first five big-screen releases under the Disneynature label—“Earth,” “Oceans,” “African Cats,” “Bears” and “Chimpanzee”—are among the top six highest grossing feature-length nature films of all time.
  • Walt Disney was a pioneer in wildlife documentary filmmaking, producing 13 True Life Adventure motion pictures between 1948 and 1960, including “Seal Island” (1948), “Beaver Valley” (1950), “The Living Desert” (1953) and “Jungle Cat” (1958). The films earned eight Academy Awards®

Watch this "Thank You" clip from Disneynature:

Will you be seeing "Monkey Kingdom" this weekend?

Learning About Presidents’ Day {Plus a DIY Presidential Timeline!}

This Presidents' Day post was brought to you by Oriental Trading Company.  All opinions are mine.  This post contains affiliate links at no additional cost to you.

The Captain and D are both very intrigued by countries and leaders.  They love learning about the different countries, capitals, and lately, the presidents of the United States of America.  Presidents' Day is coming up in February, so I wanted to provide them with many opportunities to become acquainted with some of our great leaders from the past!  Homeschooling this year has given me freedom to teach different things that the boys show interest in, at their levels, and tie it in to other subjects and things they need to learn.

The first thing the Captain wanted to do was play this presidential matching game from Oriental Trading Company. There were far too many cards to begin with, so we found the matches and only played with about 1/4 of them.  It was fun to find the different matches and hear the Captain try to pronounce their names.  He does pretty well, but it is still very cute!  Each president has two cards – one blue and one red – with different, interesting facts.  We learned a lot about the presidents this way, plus it was fun.  Fun education is the best kind! 

presidentialmatchinggame2The boys also flipped over the presidents door border, (which is a steal at $1.38 right now, if you're interested!)  All of the presidents are displayed, along with their names, years that they served as president, and they are all in order, as well.  What a great way to capture the history of our country and a fabulous way to introduce the boys to a love of history.  The Captain loved quizzing my parents via FaceTime about some of these men, too!presidential door frameThe most fun the boys had in our study of the presidents was the fun masks!  12 presidential faces were fun to play with.  From George Washington and Abraham Lincoln to Barack Obama….they love to pretend to be the presidents and try to talk like they think they might have talked.  These masks would be great for plays or pretending to give important speeches. 
presidentsday

That's definitely not all, just search for "presidents" at Oriental Trading and see the great teaching tools you can find.  

I used one of the 12 president rulers that came in a pack to create our very own presidential timeline.  I simply cut the presidents' faces out, which had their names and years served underneath, and made a timeline using sentence strips.  Each year was represented with a half of an inch (great since I had a ruler right there, ha!)  Then, I wrote each president's name in red marker and the Captain came along and matched each picture to the name.  Seeing it all on a timeline was educational to me, too, because I could see how many years (or days – some presidents didn't get to serve for very long!) each president was in office, how many terms, and incouraged the boys to ask questions about each president.  I mentioned earlier how the Captain was excited to talk about the presidents with his grandparents and show them his timeline….what a great way to learn even more and practice skills like math, writing, matching, measuring, and much more, all while having good conversation with his relatives!  

DIY Presidential Timeline for Presidents' Day

Materials needed:

DIY Presidential Timeline

Instructions:

  1. Write the years that began each presidential term, counting 1/2" for each year, using the presidential timeline ruler.  
  2. With a different color, write each corresponding president's name above the spot on the timeline that they served as president.
  3. Cut out each president's picture.
  4. Match each president's picture to the time period that they served and glue or tape to secure.
  5. Display your timeline and enjoy being able to visualize the history of our nation!

 

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Celebrate Earth Day and Learn All About the Earth!

This Earth Day post was brought to you by Oriental Trading.  All opinions are mine.  This post contains affiliate links.

Earth Day Education

Earth Day is April 22nd and we are prepared to learn!  Oriental Trading provided us with complimentary educational materials to facilitate plenty of lessons about the Earth, how to take care of it, and the fabulous things the Earth does.  The boys have really enjoyed using this awesome stuff to have fun and learn.

I always thought that Oriental Trading Company was just for parties and Vacational Bible School, but it's so, so much more.  I went to check out their recommended products for Earth Day and came up with so much stuff.

We started our Earth Day fun by planting DIY seed pots and the Watch It Grow Plant Viewer:

Earth Day Grow

The boys and I loved watching the seeds sprout and roots go down into the soil.  We love our garden, and this brought so many more teachable moments concerning the life cycle of a plant!

roots

Earth Day pots

There is just SO much STUFF that parents and teachers can use to teach.  Educational products are always so expensive, but I was impressed with the cost at Oriental Trading.  A four pack of life cycle posters was only $5.99.  Huge, full color posters like this one:

life cycle butterflyWe used each of the posters and created a fun lesson about the life cycles of the butterfly, frog, chicken, and plants!  The visual really helped the boys understand it all.

Then we began talking about how it is our responsibility to take care of this Earth that God gave us.  The Captain loved coloring these Earth Day magnets for our fridge, to help remind us to recycle and go green!

magnetsGlobes are cool.  Every kid loves globes.  But an inflatable globe?  SO MUCH FUN!  We can search for countries and continents on the globe and talk about the oceans, then take a break to toss it in the air.  This was the boys' favorite part of our Earth Day study:

inflatable globe

We also found an awesome sorting game that really got us thinking about recycling.  The Learn to Recycle Activity Boxes was tricky, but so much fun.  We divided up the items to be recycled and talked about each piece and what it was made of.  

recycling game

Lightbulbs, cans, and even worms were part of this fun game!

recycling game

Each box has a "Fun Fact" on the side to help you decide what to put where:

Earth Day recycling

I am so thrilled that I discovered all the great, well priced teaching tools at Oriental Trading.  Check it out for all of your supplies needed for teaching, homeschooling, Sunday school, holidays, VBS, and more!

Happy Earth Day!

Earth Day bible verse

 

 

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The School Quandary for a Fall Child

Captain Fussybuckets' birthday is in November.  Here in Texas, you have to be 5 on September 1st to start to kindergarten.  So, while one of his cousins and most of his preschool buddies will be starting kindergarten in the Fall, he will not.  He has been in the 4's and 5's class at a two day preschool program since September.  It was the first year of this program, so they were still trying to figure out which class to put the kids in when school started.  The Captain was three when he began the 4's and 5's class, and that's where he stayed when they pulled some younger kids out and put them in another classroom.  This has been such a great experience for him, as he has made new friends his age and learned new things, as well as practiced being away from Mommy and Daddy for long periods of time!  

His first daycare experience didn't go quite as well.  After his third birthday, we put him in a daycare that was owned by friends of ours from church.  In fact, his teacher from church was the director of the daycare.  He had been asking to go to school and well, we thought it would be great for him.  And it was!  For three hours, two mornings a week, he happily went to daycare where he played with his friends and loved his teachers.  But then he got sick about six weeks into it and had to miss a few days.  I think then he realized how much fun he was missing at home, so he didn't want to go back.  We tried to take him back, but he just wasn't having fun and so we pulled him out.  There was no sense in forcing him to stay there if he didn't want to and we didn't need him to.  I really feel for you parents who have no other choice.  I don't know how you do it!

drawing

So back to the current situation….a few times he hasn't wanted to go to preschool but that passed quickly, although we thought it wouldn't.  But now we have started to realize something….in the fall, he will be going to school with maybe a couple of the kids from this year, but mostly it will be kids from the younger class that have moved up to his class.  We assume that he will have the same teacher, in the same room, learning the same things over again.  This is great for his social well being, but is there a better option for him?  Well, maybe.  We have heard the local daycare where he attended before has a great pre-k program.  There is also a pre-k at the school that he might qualify for, but being a former teacher, I know those programs are meant for kids who really need them, and I do not want to take that spot away from someone who might need it more than he does.

So where does that leave us?  I know how great an extra year can be for some kids.  An extra year of maturing, an extra year of preparing can be great, especially for boys.  But I've also seen how an extra year can be negative and I've seen a few kids…even boys! with summer birthdays thrive in kindergarten.  I do believe that it's all about how you prepare them in the preschool years.  Sometimes it depends on maturity, which you can't really teach or force, and maybe the Captain won't be mature enough to handle kindergarten in the fall, even if we were given that option, but as his mother, and also one who taught kids his age in the past, I would say he will be ready and he would thrive in kindergarten in the fall.  Of course, though, that's not my decision.

Over the weekend, we went to visit my parents.  Luckily my sweet mother had saved my teaching supplies, so I grabbed some of those and brought them home so I can maybe work with him on a few things at home, to keep his learning momentum going.  Also, hopefully we can sit down as a family and consider our options and we will find the answer to the question – what's the best choice for our child?  I'm just happy and feel so blessed that we do have so many options.

Daycare?  Pre-K?  Preschool?  Montessori?  Homeschool?  Private school?  Public school?  I'm interested to hear what the best answer has been for your family and why!