Saturday, November 18, 2017

Our Homeschool Day: Busy Binders

Time for the next installment of "Our Homeschool Day"! Are you excited?! I know I am. I really enjoyed sharing our morning calendar board with you. Next up, busy binders.

Our busy binders have been an ever evolving part of our learning world. It started off as only one binder with a handful of fun Pinterest finds. It was the busy binders that inspired me to start making our own activities. I caught busy binder fever if you will. *giggle snort* Judge my nerdiness if you like but these busy binders are a favorite of Squeaks. On days when we're not really scheduled to "play school" or I don't have enough pre-planned activities for my hungry learners, busy binders save the day. Now our one little binder has grown into two; one for ABC's and color activities, and another for numbers and shapes activities. They're both awesome and still full of mostly Pinterest finds but I'm slowly adding my own designs as well. I'm excited to share links to all the fun!

The binders themselves are 2 inches but probably should be 3 inch binders to accommodate the ever growing number of activities in each one. I picked up both of them at Target along with a few of the zippered storage pockets inside. I have since found these pockets on Amazon and I much prefer them because of their accordion sides. They stick out of the binder a little more but they hold a lot more too. 

Lets start with the "ABC's and Colors" binder:
1. Tucked into the front inside cover pocket are these cool tangram alphabet printables. I downloaded the whole alphabet but only printed out and laminated the letters for Squeaks' first name. In the zipper pocket up front are multi color pompoms and kids jumbo tweezers (both purchased at the dollar store). We use these for counting, sorting colors, and fine motor skills. 
2. This is one super awesome color matching wheel. Just add clothes pins.
3. Pocket three is completely custom by yours truly. These are a variety of first name activities for Squeaks. No printables for this one but here's my inspiration of the ones I made.
4. Another custom pocket. Alphabet fishing! I cut out multicolored fish on my Cricut and wrote a letter on each one. Then I attached a metal paperclip to each fish. A small piece of dowel rod, string and a magnet make a fishing pole to pick up the fish. Cute, no?!
5. Gotta love Target dollar spot during back to school season. Picked up these fun alphabet puzzles and punched holes directly in the packaging so I could store them in the binder.
6. Lastly, in the back cover pocket are the alphabet tracing and beginning sounds pages from this post. Just pop them in a clear dry-erase pocket and learn on.

Now for the "Numbers and Shapes" binder:
1. The inside cover pocket holds some space theme play dough mats. I made these ones just for us but here is my inspiration. A few weeks ago Squeaks asked to learn about astronauts so I mixed these into the lesson. Each mat has a number on it and you have to count out and make the correct number of stars with play dough. Cute! Also in the pocket is our Roll It, Write It, Count It game. We have little dice for Squeaks to roll out a number, the page is laminated so we can practice writing the number out, and then in the last section we count it out using color chips or some super cute mini-erasers from Target dollar spot. A mini clear zipper pouch from Target holds our mini-erasers and counting chips.
2. I love these oversized number flash cards. We use them as play dough mats, either counting out play dough balls for each card or "tracing" each number in play dough. I could not for the life of me find the exact site I printed these from, but type "play dough number mat" into Pinterest and you're options are nearly endless. This pocket also holds our stack of lego sequence cards and our dice for the Roll It game.
3. Next up, snap cubes! I love these things! I have oversized cards to show how to make numbers 1-10 with cubes and some more sequence cards. These snap cubes are also great for keeping Little Dude busy during big sisters lessons.
4. This Bugs In A Jar game is one of Squeaks favorites and it's such a simple idea. We use the same dice from pocket #2 to roll and count out the number of bugs for the jar. That's it! Doesn't get any easier. I'm sure you could come up with variations on this but we like to keep it simple.
5. This pocket holds my number matching wheel. Squeaks was having trouble matching the written numbers with the counted number. This wheel has helped tons. I will be making another one with numbers 11-20 soon.
6. My shape matching game is one of the first activities I ever made. Each shape is matched to the laminated sheet underneath using velcro dots. It remains a favorite because toddlers and's like cat-nip.
7. Lastly some fun numbers and shapes puzzles, and clip cards from the cornucopia that is the Target dollar spot. Again, I just punched holes directly into the packaging to store them in the binder.

Yikes that's a lot of links! We really do love these busy binders though and hope you do too. If you'd like to start your own, I offer a numbers and shapes starter bundle complete with binder cover on my Etsy shop.

So what kind of activities would you add to your busy binders?

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

FREE Alphabet Bundle

 I love making new homeschool activities! I've got a free one for you and all you have to do is enter your email in the ol' subscribe box there on the right side of the screen. Not only will you get the five page alphabet bundle but you'll receive updates on new blog posts. Now who wouldn't want that!?

Now lets take a look at these super cute printables. The alphabet bundle includes a two page beginning sounds activity and three pages of alphabet tracing (uppercase, lowercase, and a combination of the two). Since these are sent directly to your email (be sure to check your spam folder and add Arrows & Applesauce to your contact list) you can print as many as you'd like. Or, if you're into saving a few trees, use these super cool clear pockets and a dry erase marker to help them last longer.

Squeaks is just starting to make the connection between letters and the sounds they make. I think these are going to be a hit with her. She's catching on so quick. I see lots of fun alphabet activities in our future. Yay!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Our Homeschool Day: Calendar Time

I take a very relaxed approach to how we homeschool. I really don't want to rush anything and squash any natural desire to learn. We have been focusing more on learning through playing rather than using structured activities. Lately though Squeaks has been asking for some activities more than others, so I thought I'd share what homeschool looks like for us these days. Most weeks we only do school maybe two days. Other weeks we do maybe half an hour a day. I leave it up to her and try not to push her to do more than she can focus on. If she starts getting impatient, I know it's time to stop for the day. It is only preschool after all and she's only three so there's no need to push it. I also try to structure most "lessons" around an interest she has. For example, one week I asked her what she wanted to learn about and she said octopuses so we did a lot of ocean themed activities that week. She's more likely to retain information if she's interested in the subject.

Aside from the themed activities we do, there are three learning tools that have been consistent hits that I'd like to share. I'll share each one in it's own post because each one is so fun and full of great activities.

Most homeschool days start out with calendar time. Both Squeaks and Little Dude love calendar time. Although I think LD mostly likes it because I sit on the floor with them and he can crawl on me. I try to include him as much as possible though even if his little two-year-old brain has the attention span of a gnat. I made our calendar board from a foam presentation board I got at Walmart. The Calendar itself was from Target and the activities on the board are a mix of Pinterest finds and my own creations. I laminated everything and attached it to the board with TackNStick so it can be easy reconfigured.  In addition to the links listed below, I include a number and letter we focus on for the week and the current weeks Awana Bible verse. (She just started Awana a few weeks ago and shes loving it. Plus she looks crazy cute in her little vest.)
 I'll start at the top and work my way clockwise down the sides first.
Months of the year banner -I attached each month directly to the board instead of hanging it as a  banner. We use a clothes pin to mark the current month.
Days of the week wheel- Squeaks loves turning this wheel while we sing our days of the week song. (See my songs board here.)
"Today's weather" wheel- We sing a weather song for this too. We live in California so we don't get a huge variety of weather, but if we visit the mountains this winter we'll use the "snow" option. 
"What Season" Wheel- Yet another song for this one. 
Our letter, number, and Bible verse for the week are behind Little Dudes head.
Rainbow Colors- I literally just Googled "rainbow", found an image I liked, opened it to PicMonkey and typed in the color names. Easy-peasy.
Shapes- I cropped it to fit everything on the board, but aren't these little shape people cute!?
Numbers 1-10 poster- I offer this one free on my Teachers Pay Teachers site. Enjoy!
ABCs chart- Squeaks loves pointing to each letter and singing her ABCs.
A closer look at the sides, although I've rearranged a bit since then.
The kids love adding the new day to the calendar (each day attaches with a velcro dot), turning all the wheels, and singing our songs. I also use a mini white board (Target dollar spot) to let them practice writing the letter and number of the week. I don't get to strict with penmanship yet though. We always end saying the Bible verse and praying together for the day. Altogether, calendar time takes about 20-30 minutes depending on how many times we sing each song (there could be multiple encores of the ABCs) or how much time we spend with the white board. So fun!

Up next in our homeschool routine: Busy Binders!! You're going to love these!

How about you? What's your favorite way to start your homeschool day?

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