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Almost School Time

It’s that time of the year again. Backpacks are being stuffed with unsharpened pencils and brand new notebooks. Kids are boarding big yellow buses. Home-school moms are filling in plan books. Homework is being assigned.  It’s back to school everyone goes.

Except us.

This is the last September that I won’t have a school-aged child. Next September it will be time for Ladybug to start kindergarten, and not too far behind will follow Stinkbug and then Doodlebug! Home-school, charter school, private school, public school– it doesn’t matter what kind of school we do, it will be time to do school of some sort.

I had been stressing about choosing some curriculum, some plan, some format for home-school preschool this year. I want to maximize the time I have  with my little ones. My blog reader and Facebook feed are full of excellent time managers planning and executing preschool at home for their little ones…and I felt like I should be doing something.

And then I looked at our life…

…at the white daisies we wondered if we could change colors…

…at the avocado seeds we wondered if we could grow into trees…

…at the ordering and pasting we did with whales after a trip to the beach…

…at the coloring by number and initial letter sounding we did because the Bugs are into letter sounds (Thanks Leapfrog videos!)…

…at the reading and preparing mom and dad are doing for nightly family worship times…

…and I realized that I may not have Sonlight’s 4/5 curriculum (or any “curriculum”!) to follow this year, but I don’t need it! We have shelves full of books, a cabinet full of art supplies, and a world full of mysteries at our fingertips!

So I might not plan our home-school preschool in a teacher’s plan book. I may not even call what we’re doing “school”. And I certainly won’t work myself into a frenzy about what I’m doing or not doing to school the Bugs this year.

Instead, I’m going to listen to my children’s questions and help them find the answers. I’m going to read aloud. We’re going to the zoo and the beach and the weekly bazaar, and maybe a farm. We’ll ride taxis, buses, trains, possibly even an airplane. We’ll talk about colors and numbers and shapes and letters. We’ll write and we’ll color, we’ll cut and we’ll glue. And we’ll soak up every minute of this last year before a new chapter begins. The chapter of “Schooling” and all that comes along with that.

For now though I think I’ll pour myself another iced coffee and enjoy the sounds of the kids playing their imaginative games.


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Don’t Grow Weary!

I know it’s been quiet here at MyBusyHome… mostly because my busy home has been, well busy. I’m in a tough, demanding, active, crazy, overwhelming season of life. I have busy kids who hurricane around the house overwhelming me constantly with their endless energy.

There’s a four-going-on-thirteen-year-old, self-declared princess, who creates and perpetuates drama, but also initiates sweet conversations about God and life. There is a little boy running around in big boy undies, so busy with playing and jumping and laughing he sometimes forgets to do his business in the potty. And don’t forget the adorable, mobile baby who is as fast as lightning and has a fascination with electrical cords…

Some days I drop into bed at 11pm and I wonder how I made it through the maze of another day, and if I can muster the energy to do it all over again tomorrow.

So, I haven’t felt very inspired to write here about how to manage a Busy Home, because more days than not it feels like my busy home is managing me instead.

In days and weeks like I’m having lately, I find the greatest comfort in verses like Galatians 6:9:

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

I cannot express in words the comfort that this promise brings to my heart.

I shouldn’t grow weary. I must not give up. I don’t need to stop doing what I’m doing. I can’t stop sowing into my children. I just need to keep putting one foot in front of the other… And, one day, when it’s time, I will reap.

Isn’t that a precious comfort? Don’t give up! It will take hard days, and long weeks, and toil and struggle and tears, but WE WILL REAP if we don’t give up!


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Indoor Exercise for Preschoolers

When it’s cold and rainy, or gray and dreary, it’s hard to get little ones outside to jump, run and climb like they need to. I’ve found that during rainy weeks, and winter months, it’s pretty easy to get some preschool exercise time indoors to help expel built up energy!

There are myriads of games and activities you can create inside to get your toddlers up and moving. But if you’re lacking energy yourself, there is a pretty simple way to lead your preschooler in some exercise time without having to do much planning or preparation:

Cue YouTube!

After lunch, and before nap on yucky days, I set up the laptop in the living room and announce that it’s “Exercise Time”! That brings my kids running! We have discovered a few YouTube favorites that my kids love to sing and dance with!

My House Preschool Exercise by LotstoLearn

Show Me How You Shake by kidconcoct

Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes by Jangiankotla

Five Little Ducks by upaglossy

So, next time you’re stuck inside on a rainy day, try some YouTube exercise fun!

**I can attest that the above videos are appropriate for children, however, not everything on YouTube is appropriate for children. Please check all videos yourself before showing them to your children.**


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DIY: Dyed Macaroni

During the rainy, cold, snowy days of winter, having some indoor activities in your arsenal is a good idea.  Preschoolers love to string colored macaroni to make necklaces and crowns, and they can learn some valuable things while doing so! (Practicing fine motor skills, color recognition, patterning)

Materials:

  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Food Coloring
  • Dry Macaroni
  • Ziploc Bags
  • String

1. Put some macaroni in a Ziploc.  Squirt in some rubbing alcohol and the color of your choice.2. Enlist the help of your preschooler to shake the bag and coat the macaroni with the dye.

3. Spread the noodles out and let dry.

4. Give your preschooler a piece of string and let them string the macaroni.  Tie off into a necklace when they’re done.


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Thank You Notes

My mom cursed blessed me by always making me write thank you notes when I was a child.  Nowadays I still hear her voice when I receive a gift, “Don’t forget to write a thank you!”

It is a dying art.  And nothing says Thank You quite like a handwritten, thoughtful note.  I want to instill in my kids a sense of gratitude and the ability to properly express thanks to someone who has given them a gift.  So, the best time to work on this is… January.

January, what a dull month!  The Christmas decor is packed away, the winter doldrums are upon us, and we have plenty of time to write thank you notes for the nice Christmas gifts we opened last month.  OK, you may not feel like you have plenty of time to write thank yous, but let’s face it, if you don’t write them this month, it’s probably not going to happen!  Here are some ways to get your children to write notes, even if they can’t yet write their own name!

Toddlers and Preschoolers

  • Print out a picture for your child to color, write a simple message for them, their name, and the date.  (If your child can write their own name, let them add their name to the drawing.)
  • Give your child some blank paper and art mediums– stickers, glitter, markers, paints, crayons– and let them create a little masterpiece.  Write a simple message their name, and the date for them.
  • Print a picture of your child using/wearing the gift received and mail it to the sender.  Write a brief message on the back stating your thanks.

School-Aged Children

  • Create a simple fill-in-the-blank generic thank you note for your child to fill in.  (This not only teaches them to write thank you notes, it helps them learn the proper way to write a letter!)  Add a picture for them to color if you would like.

______/_______/_______

Dear ______________________________,

Thank you for the ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­___________________________ you gave me for Christmas.  I like it because _____________

_____________________________________.  I hope you had a very merry Christmas!

Love,

____________

  • If your school-aged child is a little older, buy (or help them make thank you cards), and encourage them to write a brief message of thanks for the gift.  The note doesn’t have to be long, just an expression of appreciation for the gift! Let them use special glitter pens or markers or stickers– let writing thank yous be a fun activity, not a dreaded chore!

Do you always write a thank you note for gifts you receive?


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December Memory Verse

9 How can a young person stay on the path of purity?

By living according to your word.

10 I seek you with all my heart;

do not let me stray from your commands.

11 I have hidden your word in my heart

that I might not sin against you.

12 Praise be to you, LORD;

teach me your decrees.

13 With my lips I recount

all the laws that come from your mouth.

14 I rejoice in following your statutes

as one rejoices in great riches.

15 I meditate on your precepts

and consider your ways.

16 I delight in your decrees;

I will not neglect your word.

{Psalm 119}

Download and print a memory verse with picture clues to work on with your child(ren) this month: December Verse

Thoughts on Scripture Memory with Toddlers and Preschoolers:

  • Use key words and word cues. When we started working on Scripture memory with Ladybug, I chose key words in a verse for her to say and I cued her with the rest.  The first verse she ever learned was Genesis 1:1.  It went like this:

Me: In the beginning

Ladybug: God

Me: created the heavens and the

Ladybug: earth

Me: Genesis

Ladybug: one, one

As she has grown, I give her more of the verse we are working on to say aloud.

  • Use picture clues to help your kids remember the key words.  As you can see on our fridge, this month’s verse is written with three pictures.  A baby, the earth, and a cross– Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.  (If you’d like to work on this verse this month, you can print it out using the link above!)  Pictures are indeed worth a thousand words when you’re working with children!
  • Individualize Scripture memory for each of your kids. Ladybug is (and always has been) a chatterbox, and she learned her first verse before she was two.  She already knows this month’s verse and can rattle off, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,” without help.  However, Stinkbug has not been very verbal (until recently), and has just started working on his first few verses.  Right now he knows, “Children obey,” (Ephesians 6:1) and “Be thankful,” (Colossians 3:15).  As you can see, his verses are short and sweet, which is perfect for his verbal abilities right now.
  • Be diligent about speaking, learning, repeating, teaching, saying, memorizing, and reflecting on Scripture with your kids!  Use the Deuteronomy 6:7 principle for learning Scripture with your children–You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. Practice your verses all the time– in the car, in line at the grocery, at the dinner table, before bed…
  • Set a good example. If you are learning Scripture right along with your kids, you are setting the best example.  Share with them which passages you are memorizing and show them that Scripture memory is a lifelong discipline!  (If you’re not great with Scripture memory, share that with your kids and ask them to help you learn your verses too!)
  • Teach the reference. I always teach a verse’s address as part of the verse.  To me, it is so important!  Some verses I have memorized over the years have faded, or get jumbled in my mind, but if I can recall the book, chapter, and verse, I can easily find it in the Bible to read it.


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Little Helpers

One of the greatest things about toddlers and preschoolers is their willingness to help out around the house.  To them, folding the wash cloths for mommy, or pushing a broom around the kitchen is a game, it’s fun.  (Don’t we wish mommy felt like that about housework?)

Stinkbug ready to do laundry with Mommy

Before our kids get too old to enjoy helping out around the house, we need to ask them to help, and build in them the habit of helping around the house.  It’s important to remember that our two, three, and four-year olds will not be able to do tasks like we would do them (groceries won’t be categorized alphabetically when your toddler puts them away!), but that is OK!

Choose some things you can start asking your young kids to do to help you, model for them what you want them to do, and be sure to praise them for a job well done!

Here are some ideas of things toddlers and preschoolers can easily do to help mom and dad:

  • Put groceries away in the pantry.
  • Put dirty clothes in the hamper.
  • Feed pets.
  • Pick up toys, puzzles, games, and books and put them in a designated place.
  • Put sorted clothes into the washing machine.  (This seems boring to me, but Stinkbug loves to be the one to push the clothes I give him into the washer!)
  • Dust at their level (shelves, coffee table, end tables, etc)
  • Fold wash cloths, dish towels, and hand towels.
  • Put their clean clothes away in drawers.
  • Wipe mirrors, windows, and glass doors.
  • Sweep the porch or balcony.
  • Water plants.
  • Empty the silverware compartment from the dishwasher.
  • Set the table.
  • Clear the table after a meal.

Ladybug "sweeping"

What do you ask your young children to do around the house?