Saturday, 20 September 2014

5 tips for making memorization fun for kids!

After a long week, I've come up with 5 tips for making memorization fun for kids. If anyone else has children like mine, this may come in handy.

memorization for kids

I've heard it said that all kids love repetition.  My kids did not get that memo.  They do not watch the same movie over and over.  They get bored of a song after they've heard it a few times.  They don't have a favourite outfit that gets worn everyday.  In fact, the only things they do repeat are the words, "I'm hungry" (about 70 billion times a day).  I should have remembered this fact about them when I decided to introduce scripture memorization.  The best way to memorize something is to repeat it.  Over and over and over.  Obviously, this went over really well with my kids.

When I first brought out the memory verse box, the kids were intrigued.  Until I dared to repeat the verse a second time.  The third time was met with stares of disbelief.  Was I really going to make them listen to it again?!  And then, I asked them to say it three times with me.  I wish you could have seen the eye roll that I got then.

Luckily, I never back down from a challenge.  I know that memorization is an important skill to have.  I know it gives the brain a good work out.  And I spent a long time making those scripture cards so we are using them!

I don't particularly like whining though and I want my kids to enjoy the things we do when home schooling.  So I came up with five strategies for making memorization more fun (for all of us).

My first tip is to get loud.  As a mother of four children, this is probably the only time you will ever hear me encouraging an increase in volume.  I suggest waiting until nap time is over and maybe leave some ear plugs in neighbours mail boxes.  Seriously though, they love this!

  • ask them to yell the passage as loud as they can
  • see who can be the loudest
  • send one person upstairs and one downstairs and see if they can hear each other say it
  • go outside and yell it 
  • play music loudly and see if they can make themselves heard over it

This one is a little more my speed!  Get them up and moving while reciting their verse or passage.  It doesn't seem as boring when your body is moving and as an added bonus, you can count it as phys ed!  

Have them recite while:
  • doing jumping jacks
  • running in place
  • doing head stands
  • jumping rope
  • bouncing a ball
  • clapping their hands
The possibilities are endless.  This is also a good opportunity to get the wiggles out if you've got a squirmy student. 

 I used to do this with my Sunday school kids every week and it is so much fun! Have them say it while acting like different animals.  My kids love being mice; making themselves really tiny and saying it in their squeakiest voice or tigers; growling it out while swiping their claws.  They also enjoy singing the verses.  I often name a tune for them to sing it to (Phantom of the Opera is my personal favourite.  Hilarious!).  Have them try it in different accents or have them make up actions to go with the words.

Games work really well in this house.  They don't have to be complex or involve any prep time either. 

  • race to see who can say it fastest
  • bounce a ball back an forth, saying the next word as you catch the ball...if someone misses, start again
  • write the passage out on paper and cut it up like a puzzle for them to reassemble
I remember in school, there was a chart displayed on the wall and for every Bible verse we memorized, another sticker was put on the chart.  That was motivation enough for me!  I worked my butt off and ended up memorizing quite a few verses that year! Of course, I am a little bit (some might say extremely) competitive so that may have been a factor too.

 You can give stickers for every verse memorized or a special treat when they've memorized a certain number of verses.  Maybe they can earn a 15 minute later bedtime or be excused from their least favourite chore (if it got me out of laundry, I'd memorize the whole Bible!). 

I'm sure every family can come up with their own reward system.

So there you have it.  My five tips for making memorization fun!  

Is memorization a part of your homeschool?  What is your strategy?

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

The problem with schedules.

I am a lover of schedules.  I print them out in aesthetically pleasing charts and post them on my fridge.  I look lovingly at them throughout the day and pat myself on the back for keeping it together and staying on track.  Schedules keep me sane.  They keep me organized.  They keep me happy.

Until they make me crazy.

I have a bit of an obsessive personality.  If I'm not careful, I can start to take my beautiful schedules a little to seriously.  I'm the kind of girl who likes to make lists and methodically check off each box.  Sometimes I treat the schedule more like a to do list and leaving some of those boxes unchecked can make my eye start to twitch.

For example:  I have lessons scheduled for the morning.  We have always done it this way.  It worked beautifully last year and I had no reason to think it would be any different this year.

Of course, we had a small, stationary baby last year instead of the mobile, destruction loving toddler that we have now.  And we lived in our own house with lots of space and nothing interesting in it.  Grandmas house is much more fun...and distracting.  And we had daddy.  And I was getting sleep. Things are a little different now.

But the schedule says lessons happen in the morning.  So lessons need to happen in the morning.  Even if this means spending more time chasing the little tornado than I do teaching.  Even if it means cleaning up all the potatoes she threw out of the cupboard (she also took a bite out of each one because just throwing them isn't enough fun).  Even if it means wanting to rip my hair out every time it comes time to do school.

That's the downside of schedules.  They can't adjust themselves to changes in your life.

I've always said that our schedule is more of a guideline but I haven't been treating it that way.  The beauty of home schooling is that we are able to be flexible in the way we do things, tailoring our day to fit our current situation.  The problem is that you actually have to let yourself be flexible! I could see that what we were doing wasn't working but I was having a hard time making the changes that were desperately needed.  All for the sake of sticking to a schedule.

I'm stepping away from the schedules and check lists for a while so I have the time to re-evaluate.  It's hard to stay on track when you aren't even sure which track you should be on.  I need to see how our days unfold naturally.  To try a few things and see what leaves me with my sanity intact.  To have some time to remember that my schedule does not have to define my days.

Hopefully soon I will have found something that will work in our new environment (I'm going to take a wild guess here and say schooling should happen while the baby is sleeping) and I can put up a new schedule.  This time, I'll remember that it can (and should!) be changed as our life changes.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Preschool Planning {plus free printables!}

I will admit that up to now, I have never planned for preschool.  I am a huge believer in play based learning and letting them learn through everyday life.


I have four children. One of them is doing grade work.  Two of them are in preschool.  One of them just likes to destroy things.

I tried doing the same laid back, unplanned, let it happen style preschool that we did last year and the wee ones were not amused.  They took their education into their own hands.  They learned about buoyancy by dropping things in the toilet.  They experimented with gravity by throwing things down the stairs.  They played sorting games with clean, freshly folded laundry.  You get the idea, right?  It wasn't working.

So this year I am a planning her preschool mama!

I'm still keeping it laid back and play based.  I have activities that they can do with minimal supervision and I  have some mommy led activities (ie. "work" like big sister).  There are some work sheets because they have asked for them but no pressure to finish them.

I plan by the month because I don't have time to plan weekly and I could never sit still long enough to plan the whole year!

I'm continuing with our monthly play doughs and sensory bins (though they often end up staying longer than a month) and I will also rotate the tot trays out monthly.  I only have shelves for four trays but I plan eight so I can switch them around if the kids start getting bored.

Our themes change weekly.  I try to have a worksheet for each day so the kids can work on that while I work with B.  I try to keep a variety on hand: colouring, tracing, cutting, do-a-dot, play dough mats, etc.  I try to tie  our daily activities into the theme as well (baking, painting & drawing, modelling, crafts and handwork).

W and A are quite happy with our new set up and R isn't crying (much) so I can only assume she likes it too!

I've put together some planning sheets that I thought I would share.  There are three: one for the monthly planning, one for weekly planning and one to record everything you need to do, make, buy, etc.

preschool planning printables

***Terms of  Use: Before you download the pages, please agree that you will not share these files directly via social media, email, blog posts, etc. If you would like to share them (and I hope you will!) please link directly to this post with this link address:

Please do not sell or change these files in any way. 

Thank you!***

Monthly Preschool Planning Sheet

Preschool Monthly To Do List

Weekly Preschool Planning Sheet

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Our first day back to homeschool!

Our first day of school was Monday.  Given all that has been going on around here, it went relatively well!

True, I didn't get any of the morning meeting sheets printed.  No, I didn't put together the pre-school activities that I had planned.  And yes, I completely forgot to unpack the painting and craft supplies.

BUT I'm still calling it a success.  There's nothing wrong with easing into things, right?

We started the day out with a new not back to school outfit.  I want to give them the experiences that I enjoyed most as a child during the back to school season and that ever so important first day outfit was always one of my favourites!

I put their brand new (empty) morning meeting binders and pencil cases with their very own school supplies on the desk for them to find. They were very excited about that! The idea is that they are responsible for their own things this year.  We will see how successful this is!

After we finished lessons, we went out for our traditional first day of school lunch and spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying the sun!

It was lovely and low key and there were no melt downs (those started the next day).  B even told me she thinks this year won't be "so boring, like last year".  

I guess I'll take that as a good thing! 

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Our Borrowed School Room

As promised, I am going to share our borrowed homeschool room.

We are staying with my parents for a while so my mother has graciously offered up her scrap booking room for us to use.  It a pretty big room but there is a LOT of stuff in there (have I mentioned that my mom takes scrap booking pretty seriously?) so it is a little snug.  Luckily, I tend to fall on the minimalist side of things so we didn't have too much too bring in!

B is pretty excited about having a desk.  The way the desks are set up will be perfect to keep certain preschoolers from writing on B's papers. Our calendar board will stay on top of our cube shelf when we aren't using it, as will most of our arts and crafts supplies.  Beside the shelf is a closet and I'm attaching our white board and clock to the door.

I realize that two pictures isn't much of a tour but they sum it up pretty well. Please excuse the quality.  The lighting is terrible down here!

Truth be told, I am really missing our dining room table.  Annnd the house it resided in.

We've been here for two weeks and Ryan has been gone for one.  I won't lie.  It's been hard.  The kids have been loving it here with grandma and grandpa, which has mostly distracted them from daddy's absence. There have been some rough patches with tears, attitudes and a general increase in chaos but that has mostly subsided.

I'm looking forward to starting school on Monday.  It will be a nice distraction and we need the rhythm it brings to our days.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Our Weekly Routine (Free Printable)

Cleaning Printable

My mother is the most organized person I know.  Everything has its own labelled basket or shelf.  She doesn't own a box of tangled computer cords or have a junk drawer that will explode if opened.

I did not inherit this gift (or my dad's public speaking skills).  I got thin hair instead.  Thanks guys! ;)

And so, since this does not come naturally to me, I have to work to keep things running smoothly in our house.

I recently shared my School Day and Class Schedule Printables.   I'd like to share a printable for weekly routines as well.

On this sheet, I keep track of cleaning to do's and weekly commitments that we have outside of the home.

You'll see that there's a spot for cleaning zones.  I do not like cleaning.  And with four children under 8, it seems kind of pointless anyway.  However, Ryan doesn't like having to shovel a path to the bed so I try to stay somewhat on top of things!  I find breaking things into small and manageable chunks makes it all seem less overwhelming.  Each day I do a quick fifteen minutes in the morning and again after the kids are in bed.  Then I do a longer "zone clean" during our chore time.  This just means that I spend about 30 minutes cleaning that particular day's zone. The kids each choose one or two chore sticks from our chore jar to help out with the zone cleaning.

If you would like your own Weekly Cleaning Printable, just click on the link below!

***Terms of  Use: Before you download the pages, please agree that you will not share these files directly via social media, email, blog posts, etc. If you would like to share them (and I hope you will!) please link directly to this post with this link address:

Please do not sell or change these files in any way. 

Thank you!***

Weekly Routine Printable

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Don't say goodbye, say so long.

Yesterday was a big day for this family.

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that Ryan had joined the military.  Yesterday, he left for basic training.

As we spent our last day together, I felt a huge range of emotions (and I'm a very emotional person in normal circumstances so as you can imagine, I was a bit of a wreck).

Fear.  Fear of the unknown.  Fear of the known.  Fear of being without my better half for too long, which will most definitely lead to too much of my crazy showing.  Fear of having to do everything by myself.  Fear of what he will experience while living in a strange place with strange people.

Sadness.  I missed Ryan the second he left.  It will be about a month before we see each other again and that seems like an eternity to me (especially when I'm trying to put four children to bed by myself).  I miss him when I wake up and when I go to bed and pretty much every minute in between.  Things seems strangely empty without him around.

Pride.  It takes a lot of courage to go after the things that you want.  Especially when that involves trading everything that you know for push ups and military style sheet tucking.  He's making a lot of sacrifices but we both know that in the long run, it will all be worth it.  He is the bravest person I know (I feel queazy just thinking about doing something like that) and I couldn't be more proud of him.

Excitement.  About what the future holds for us.  About this adventure we're starting.  About learning to take the garbage out and handle the bills all by myself!

And as I watched him drive away in his lime green beetle (he won't get made fun of for that, right?) and all I could think about was drowning my sorrows in a tub of Baskin Robins ice cream, I thought about all the families that have done this (and so much more) before us.  So many families have sent loved ones away farther and for longer.  Sometimes there is no communication for months.  Sometimes they send their mothers or fathers to countries filled with danger, not knowing if or when they'll see each other again.  And somehow, they've all survived.

I have so much respect for these families...for the sacrifices they've made and the strength they've shown.  I've been lucky enough to know a few and I am so in awe of how they do it all.

Maybe I can be a little stronger too.  

I'm sure there will still be many tears and I may have already eaten 24$ worth of junk food in one sitting...but I know that we are all going to be okay.

So remind me of that the next time you see me blubbering over another lonely Friday night, will you please?

Linking up with The Homeschool Mother's Journal and looking forward to following other Mother's journeys.  
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