Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Our Homeschool Play Room

We re-did the Play Room in order to make it a Homeschool Play Room! As we are planning to begin working on Year 0/Kindergarten with Meghan this fall, having all of the learning toys upstairs seemed a good decision. Also having all of my preschool resources to create new activities for Katie to work on in her therapy (she has Global Developmental Delay) upstairs would make things much easier for me. 

We kept many of the toys in this room and some of them went to the girls' rooms. We originally planned to do this project and at the same time move the girls into a room together and turn Katie's room into a new Play Room. We won't be combining the girls into a room together in the near future, but still wanted to create a homeschool space on the first floor. So, here's what we came up with! I love it!! 

(First in video form, and then in photographs.)

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The Food Room

We love using this unfinished space in our basement as a "food room" for storing a stockpile of foods we use and eat on a regular basis. This is a place we store the foods I have canned and foods that we purchase at bulk or on sale. This room has lots of shelves, several plastic drawers, and our deep freezer. It's also where we store the canning and other food preservation tools. Come along on a tour.....

This is the view from outside the door - most of the foods are stored on the right side of the closet. The deep freezer is just to the left. Ahead is the sump pump and some food drawers. 

Right inside the door and to the left you can see the deep freezer. On top are two crates that hold condiments and juices. They grey tubs next to the sump pump store painting supplies, music books & supplies, extra storage containers, and our dehydrator. To the left of that (not visible) is a small bookshelf full of empty canning jars. 

Immediately to the right when you enter are the drawers of food - mostly pasta & crackers. The bottom two gray bins are Christmas decorations and the top one holds our favorite tortilla chips from Costco.

Next to the gray boxes is this shelving unit. Cole added extra strong wood to the shelves to make them able to stand up to the storage that it is expected of them. The bottom buckets store grains in food storage buckets with gamma seal lids. 

Above the shelving unit, the gray boxes, and the sets of drawers is this shelf Cole installed. It's a great place to store cereal boxes and things that we do not need to access often. 

To the left of these shelves is an old filing cabinet in which we store water bottles in case power or water goes out temporarily. 

This room is oddly shaped - this shelf is along the wall that is the side of the stairs - it starts near the deep freezer and moves back diagonally into the corner near the bookshelf with the canning jars on it. 

This shelf holds all of my canning supplies and other preserving supplies.

Our deep freezer is quite packed! We store lots of meat, cheese, vegetables, and fruit (and a bit of junk!).

That's our food room. It's an oddly shaped little room but it fits our needs quite well. Once a week, I go through our pantry and fridge upstairs and determine what things we need to have restocked. I quick trip down here restocks our pantry for day-to-day cooking. 

When I need to go grocery shopping, I come down to this room to determine what things we need to restock our food storage. Keeping this room fully stocked makes it possible to make almost all of the meals that we enjoy even if we can't get to the store. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Education is an Atmosphere :: Winter Edition

Our aim in Education is to give a Full Life....Life should be all living, and not merely a tedious passing of time; not all doing or all feeling or all thinking -- the strain would be too great -- but, all living; that is to say, we should be in touch wherever we go, whatever we hear, whatever we see, with some manner of vital interest.
--Charlotte Mason

When we say that "education is an atmosphere," we do not mean that a child should be isolated in what may be called a 'child-environment' especially adapted and prepared, but that we should take into account the educational value of his natural home atmosphere, both as regards persons and things, and should let him live freely among his proper conditions. It stultifies a child to bring down his world to the child's level. 
-- Charlotte Mason

We have a home that includes our children and makes space for them to participate in family life; but it is not what would be called a 'child-environment'. Our home is a space for the family. It is a natural place where learning and growing can take place in the context of real, family life. Here is some of what that looked like this winter: 


**NOTE** I don't share these images to make it seems as though we have figured this out or do it the 'right way' - this is just what an education atmosphere looks like for us in our home. I know I am inspired by seeing pictures of what a homeschool home looks like in the homes of others. I pray that sharing these posts provides some of that type of inspiration to your home.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Handiwork for Littles :: Plastic Canvas Sewing

Plastic canvas is an excellent medium for helping littles learn hand sewing skills.

It helps them to confidently place their stitches in the appropriate place.

It also helps them to confidently form a variety of stitches.

Meghan has been working on learning sewing skills during our handiwork time of school and she is LOVING it. She begs to work on her sewing even when we aren't doing school.

So far she is just working on a running stitch and very content to keep going with that stitch.

However, in the future plastic canvas can be used to teach cross stitching, blanket stitching, and a variety of other embroidery stitches. It's quite a flexible learning task. It's quite inexpensive. And it can also be used to make gifts for the grandparents come the holiday season (Grandparents, forget that you read that by next Christmas!).

The materials we currently have are: large piece of plastic canvas (though there are a variety of sizes and shapes available that we will likely use in future projects), a blunt metal needle (a real tool - but safe), and cotton yarn (the type used for making dishcloths). In total, the materials we currently have cost about $5 - and they will last us quite some time.

As skills develop, a quick Pinterest search will reveal a variety of fun projects that a little can work on to create something useful with their new skill. Because, handiwork with no purpose is just a craft....and we much prefer that our creative work be beneficial and useful!

I hope you and your little can enjoy this fun handiwork project together! We highly recommend it along with a good story or some soft beautiful music!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Our 2018 Homeschool Preschool Plans

We are changing up the way we are doing things in school here at the Hoosier House. Well, not so much changing things up - we are just moving forward in our homeschool experience!

So far, with littles, school is nothing super formal, but it is super fun! There are several excellent free curriculums available online. We have also found some print resources that are working well for our family.

But, being a former teacher, a curriculum nerd, and a special needs parent I can't just use a curriculum as written. I don't just buy or find a boxed curriculum and use it as is. I just enjoy, want to, and (sometimes) need to adapt it to fit our home perfectly.

I thought I would write out and share what we are currently doing for preschool with our two girls.

Katie is 1.5 and has some developmental delays - especially in language - so my over-arching goal for her is to help give her vocabulary to use.

Meghan is 3.5 and has (high functioning) autism - she is incredibly smart and LOVES "doing school". We are doing mostly kindergarten work with her, though all at her speed, with no pressure, and no pushing. It's just what she's doing!


Sources I Used To Build Our Curriculum: 

A Mind in the Light (I plan to use most of this with Meghan beginning in the fall - I tried to be sure NOT to use books that were planned for the coming year.)


ABC Jesus Loves Me

Other Good Book Lists (were used to purchase/ask for books that built our library)

(My own experience & research.)


How We Blend Everything Together - Resources We Use

Bible Learning
  • Read a Bible Story from The Complete Illustrated Children's Bible 
    • Other story Bibles we use, though not currently because they are less comprehensive: The Biggest Story & Jesus Storybook Bible
  • Read the Proverb of the day.
  • Read a page from Everything a Child Should Know About God 
  • Read a page from Everyone a Child Should Know
  • We listen to the hymn we are working on memorizing. 
  • We work on memorizing our Catechism (New City Catechism - the app is awesome! It includes songs for the answers). 
  • We then review previous catechism questions, Bible verses, and hymns using the method at Simply Charlotte Mason. 

Mathematical Concepts

  • Katie: 
    • We talk about the color and shape for the week from ABC Jesus Loves Me. We look at flashcards, read books, play with manipulatives, etc. 
    • She also watches the Preschool Prep DVDs about these concepts during her TV time while I empty the dishwasher and prepare the kitchen for the day (she's an early riser!). 
  • Meghan: 
    • Saxon Math Grade Level One 
    • Kumon Number Writing Workbooks (to build confidence)
    • Kumon Preschool & Kindergarten Logic/Thinking Skill Workbooks
    • Preschool Prep Math Fact Movies
    • Addition/Subtraction Flashcards with Abacus (she loves this "game"!)
Language Concepts
  • Katie: 
    • Body/Clothing Vocabulary from ABC Jesus Loves Me 
    • We read TONS of board books.
  • Meghan:
    • McGuffey's Eclectic Primer & First Reader (Purchased from Easy Peasy because they were blown up to a larger size with word lists for the Primer - it was cheaper than the time it would have taken me to do the same.)
    • Abeka Book Readers - I have found the whole first and second grade sets second hand.
    • She enjoys reading easy reader books and then taking them to her room to read to her stuffed animals during "roomtime" (quiet time).  
    • We read the same picture book every day of the week - I made a list of literature for us to read before starting kindergarten (Some places to get booklists: Sonlight, Memoria Press, ABC Jesus Loves Me higher levels, The Good & The Beautiful, & Ambleside Online). We read one book from that list each week.
    • I am also starting to read her some chapter books. Sometimes she cuddles with me for this and sometimes she does something with her hands while listening. 
      • Kinetic Sand 
      • Legos 
      • Water Beads 
      • Play Dough 
      • Coloring
    • She is starting to journal using a Primary Journal. She tells me what she wants to write, I write it in highlighter, she traces it, and then she illustrates it. 
      • We also use Handwriting Without Tears Preschool, Kumon Letter Workbooks, and the Magnatab to practice letter formation - she loves practicing.
  • We read a stack of picture books together most days during lunchtime to expose both girls to the excellent collection of children's literature that we have in our home. The girls also get read to before bed and throughout the day as they request. 
Science Concepts
  • We use the animal of the week from ABC Jesus Loves Me. 
    • Katie has a flashcard to look at and a Schleich animal to match to the card for each week. (This is also a language building activity for her.)
    • I read from the Kingfisher Animal Encyclopedia about the animal of the week. 
    • Meghan learns the Spanish word for the animal of the week.
  • Meghan and I are working our way through the Fairy Alphabet Coloring Book - they are fun pages to color together and helping us learn to identify more flowers by sight. 
  • We are also reading living books about science topics as they come up through the year and as we are interested. 
  • Of course, lots of time outside and lots of nature trail walks. We will also have our membership to the zoo again this year. 
Social Studies Concepts
  • We will be reading living books about social studies topics and holidays throughout the year.
  • Meghan will be working on geography puzzles (she's so into puzzles right now!). 
Learning Fun/Logic Skills/Fine Motor
  • We will be doing sensory play with materials and activities we have on hand. 
  • We will be doing some craft projects - I hate meaningless projects, but as we have interesting activities to try or meaningful handicrafts, we will do them. 
  • Katie will be working on a variety of fine motor tasks that I have DIY'd for her to play with. She and I also work together using fine motor activities that we have received for her (stacking rings, shape sorter, pegging toys, puzzles, etc.)
  • I use Timberdoodle curriculum lists to come up with ideas for fun logic/math/fine motor games and manipulatives for the girls to play with in learning - grandparents are happy to purchase these fun things as gifts for holidays!
The Arts & Riches
  • We will be reading poetry together daily. We have several excellent children's poetry collections that we will be reading from throughout the year. 
  • We will be doing 6 weeks of artist studies for each of the artists that we have Mini Masters books for. The girls love these books and I have printed free prints from the artists for the girls to look at and observe. We will be collecting all of the prints we study into a notebook "art museum" they can look through at any time.
  • Meghan has been learning the names of musical instruments and we will continue supporting this interest with books about people/animals playing and naming instruments. 
  • We listen to classical music and/or Maestro Classics & Classical Kids cds. 
  • We are also listening to songs we sing at church frequently throughout the week. I have a Spotify playlist and add songs each week so they become familiar to the girls and they can more fully participate in Sunday Worship Service with us.

We are having so much fun with school! Writing out everything that we are doing and using makes it seem like we must "do school" all day every day. But we really don't. It's an easy, enjoyable part of our daily rhythm. Sometimes it's exhausting, but that's just life parenting two tiny humans. It's so worth it. I love watching my children learn and discover. I wouldn't trade this for free time and quiet - it's totally worth that sacrifice to share this time and these experiences with them!


Look for an updated Homeschool Plan post in the fall! This is the plan we will be working with until the fall season when we will start a new "school year".

I'll share more about the "hows" of how our school day works and looks as days go by. I share quite a bit on Instagram. 

Would anybody be interested in seeing weekly plans here on the blog - what books we read, activities we do etc? Let me know in the comments or via a message! 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Ways to Homestead in the City

We live in the city. We will likely always live in the city. There are many benefits: it's close to Cole's work, it's close to grocery stores, it's close to church, it's close to museums & zoos & playcenters, etc.

But, it is a difficult place in which to homestead as you could in the country. In our county, chickens in the city are currently not allowed. In our neighborhood, outdoor (permanent) clotheslines are not allowed. That does not, by any means, mean that we can't homestead. We just have to look at how we homestead in a different light.

Even living in the city, look at all of these ways that our family can work towards "homestead" style living right where we are:
  • make your own bread 
  • can what you can 
  • dehydrate what you can 
  • practice minimalism
  • let the kids play outside and explore and know their space
  • use natural cleaning supplies
  • use natural personal care products
  • use reusable grocery bags 
  • using cloth over paper products
  • know basic sewing skills - be able to make repairs & modify second hand purchases
  • do yard work tasks yourself
  • use reusable products in the kitchen 
  • homemade applesauce/smoothie pouches for kids
  • practice back to eden gardening (in as big a garden as you can in your space!)
  • reducing trips 'to town' 
  • grind your own grain
  • compost & recycle 
  • hang dry laundry (indoors and out)
  • reuse water when possible
  • filter drinking water
  • shop less - especially in stores
  • learn creative, practical arts - I like crochet & quilt making 
  • homeschool - allow children to enjoy a free childhood
  • work on going paperless
  • use non-gas outdoor tools like lawnmowers and weed eaters
  • use bird feeders and encourage wild life to thrive in your area
I'm sure there are more ideas that we practice and that others practice. While it's not the country and never will be - there are plenty of ways to live a "homestead lifestyle" in the city. 

In what ways do you homestead in the city?

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

My Goals for 2018

As I said, in 2017 I declared it the "year of home". I feel like it was a very successful year in that sense. There are still several projects to come in 2018 in conjunction with that theme - but there just wasn't the time to do it all in one year. Nor were the girls ready to move into a bedroom together yet - when that happens there will be several home projects come up this year.

As we head into 2018, the new theme for our home is "the year of rhythm". I feel like we have appropriately minimized our items and settled our home to function well for us (this is an ongoing process, but I feel we are now to the 'maintenance' stage with minimalization). Now, I want to work on having a more consistent daily/weekly/seasonal rhythm to our family life. Some examples of how we see this potentially playing out this year include:
  • moving the girls into a bedroom together and establishing a new bedtime rhythm for them in conjunction with the change
  • establishing a monthly menu plan that can remain pretty consistent 
  • creating a general routine for our days that include the girls' changed needs as they have grown - include deep play time, time for errands/activities, routines for meals & rests, school time, art time, etc.  
  • creating a consistent breakfast routine by day of the week 
  • teaching the girls tasks for helping maintain our home
  • establishing a more consistent "morning time" as a part of our homeschool
There are many steps that will be involved to make these routines become more consistent. I know there will also be other rhythms established as we go through the year - some big, some little, some we'll share publicly, and some will remain private. I am excited to see how we work a deeper sense of rhythm into the way we organize our day to day living together! 

In addition to our new theme for the year, I have established a few goals for myself to aspire to in the new year. In past years I would make very long goal lists for myself, but I've found that keeping it simpler just works better for me; at least in this stage of life. Here are some of the things I am looking to try to do this year: 
  • Read at least 100 books - 15 fiction (I am terrible about making time for fiction reading!), 35 nonfiction, and 50 children's book prereads - I will be tracking my progress on this goal here. 
  • Figure out a few smoothie recipes that I like for myself to meet my current nutritional needs. 
  • Grind grains and bake bread on the same day to preserve nutrients from the grains.
  • In the gardens: create a butterfly garden with the girls. Fill our other beds with produce to preserve for the winter and work on repairing the infrastructure and add bird netting to protect our plants. 
  • Make time in the week for self care.

Those are my goals for this year. Fairly simple and freeform, but exactly what our family needs in this season. The year of home was a wonderful year and I'm excited to see where this year takes us! 

What are you working on in the coming year?