A Fresh Start

Yesterday my daughter started first grade. We are officially homeschooling.

Last year for kindergarten we did an online public school and it wasn’t a good fit for us. I called it homeschooling, but really, it was public school at home.

We have only schooled for two days and already the change is amazing! Both of us enjoyed our laid back and relaxed learning time. My daughter learned plenty in the past two days and actually enjoyed doing it.

The highlight of her first day? Studying the bible! Be still my heart.

She also enjoyed our read aloud, which was done on our sofa, complete with soft pillows and a cozy blanket.

Last year sucked the joy out of both of us. I never had the energy to write a blog post because I was just plain worn out. We just don’t trust restaurants and I cook every meal my daughter eats. So, between cooking all the time, cleaning, the online school and life in general, I was super frazzled.

And my daughter didn’t like learning last year either.

This morning, day two of our new journey, my daughter walked into the kitchen and exclaimed, “When are we going to start homeschool?!?!”  What a huge change!!!

This year is a fresh start. I have plunged deep into homeschool blogs, Pinterest boards, and curriculum reviews. I have printed and downloaded like a mad woman. I even purchased a laminator! It’s been so much fun preparing for teaching first grade (Again! I’m a former public school teacher. Once upon a time I taught first grade.)

Day one and day two are officially in the books. I can’t wait to see what the next 178 days of first grade holds for us! (My state’s requirements is 180 days of school under our homeschooling option.)

Maybe I’ll have the time to even blog more this year! 🙂

Until later, my friend.

Homeschooling my Preschooler: Easy Paint Chip Sample Games

I have chosen to homeschool SG for preschool this year. I am actually a former public school teacher. Once upon a time in a land far far away from Iowa, I taught first grade. For four years!

Today I’m going to focus on easy games that use paint chip samples. I saw a few pins on Pinterest that used paint chip samples (here on out referred to as PCS). The best thing about PCS are they are FREE! SG randomly collects them when we shop at Lowe’s. It keeps her busy while I browse the actual colors I like.

I had a pile of PCS and started there. A quick trip to the Dollar Tree for a pack of paper clips and clothespins and I was ready to go. I also had Sharpies at home and some stickers. That’s all I needed to make a few easy and cute preschool games.

These games don’t have names. I’ll just make some up right now. 🙂

Game 1: Clip and Count
To Make:
Using a Sharpie, write the numbers 1-10 on ten clothespins. Use 10 PCS and color dots using the Sharpie for each number. One dot for one, two dots for two, etc. We currently focus on 1-10, but you could do 1-20 or counting by 2’s to 10 or 20. Store in a plastic baggie.

Clip & Count

I colored circles with a Sharpie.  Round stickers would also work.

I colored circles with a Sharpie. Round stickers would also work.

To Play:
Mix up the cards and clothespins. Count the dots with child and find the matching numbered clothespin. Let child clip it on the correct PCS. You may have to assist several times before child can play alone. For an added challenge, ask child to put the numbers in the correct order after the clips have been added.

Clip & Count

Game 2: Spell My Name
To Make:
Use a Sharpie to write child’s first, middle, and last name on PCS. One name per PCS. Then write one letter per PCS for their full name. Keep the letters for each name in a separate plastic baggie. Put the whole name in front of the individual letters and store on top of the baggie.

We do this for SG's first, middle, & last name.

We do this for SG’s first, middle, & last name.

I store this with the name card on the front so I can easily grab this game & stay organized.

I store this with the name card on the front so I can easily grab this game & stay organized.

To Play:
Place the name card on a surface. (We play this on the floor.) Mix up the letters that spell that name. Show child how to spell her name using the name card as the guide. Eventually, the child can do this by herself. SG now doesn’t need the name card. She uses it to check herself. This game taught her how to spell her name in just a few weeks! And we only played it 2-3 times a week!

Game 3: Paperclip Counting
To Make:
Choose 5 PCS and write the numbers 1-5 and spell it out under each number. One number per PCS. Count out 15 paperclips. Store both in a plastic baggie.

Paperclip Counting

To Play:
Show child the number 1 and point to the word “one.” Explain she needs to put 1 paperclip on the PCS for the number 1. Repeat with 2, 3, 4, & 5. For a challenge, mix up the cards, have her clip the paperclips herself and then put them in order from 1-5 or descending from 5-1.

Game 4: Sticker Counting
To Make:
Choose 5 PCS and write the numbers 1-5 on the PCS. One number per PCS. Choose 5 more PCS and put one sticker on the PCS for the number 1, two stickers for 2, etc. (I chose to use the same stickers for each PCS because I didn’t want SG memorizing a butterfly sticker for number 1, two balloons for number 2, etc.) Store in a plastic baggie.

Sticker Counting

To Play:
Mix up the sticker PCS and mix up the numbered PCS. Assist child in matching the number 1 PCS to the PCS that has one sticker. Repeat. For a challenge, mix them all together, the stickered and numbered PCS. Have child match them alone and order them from 1-5 or from 5-1.

Game 5: Sticker Spelling
To Make:
You will need one PCS per letter of child’s name. I put one letter per PCS. I did it for SG’s first and middle name. I stored both names together in one bag. If child isn’t ready for this, store one name per baggie.

Sticker Spelling

To Play:
Have child spell her name, assisted or unassisted.

Game 6: Paperclip Addition
To Make:
Choose 3 PCS. Write these math problems on them using a Sharpie: 1+1= 1+2= 1+3= On the other side of the PCS, write the answers. 2 3 4 Store in a plastic baggie along with 9 paperclips.

Paperclip Addition

This is how SG checks her answers.

This is how SG checks her answers.

To Play:
Tell child you are going to teach them how to add numbers. Show her the first PCS of 1+1=. Have her put 1 paperclip above the first number 1 and another paperclip above the second 1. Tell her you are both going to add the paperclips. Count them together. Then tell her it’s just like that for the math problem. Point to the math problem and say, “1+1=…” Then count the paperclips again. Ask her what 1+1=. If she doesn’t say two then you can tell her. Show her how to check her answer by turning the PCS over for the correct answer. (Note: My exact wording isn’t needed. I typed it out as an example of how this can be worded. Feel free to say what works for you and your child.) Repeat per PCS and add more addition problems when child is ready.

I keep all of these games in an inexpensive photo box. The box also matches my living room decor, so the games are nicely camouflaged in our living space.

These are some of the skills SG learns when playing these simple games:
1. Following directions
2. Counting
3. Fine Motor Skills
4. Simple Addition
5. Learning to recognize math symbols (+ and =)
6. Able to put numbers in order from 1-10
7. Able to put numbers in order from 10-1
8. Learning to spell name (first, middle & last)
9. Matching number sets to numbers
10. Sitting still to work on and finish a task

(As a side note, SG is 3. She turns 4 in late November. We started these games in August and they are age appropriate for her.)

SG enjoys these games (especially the paperclip ones!). I love that these games were simple to make and have taught SG a great deal already!

I hope this post has brought encouragement to someone out there.

I have more ideas to share for another day.

What about you, friend? Do you have any easy and frugal preschool ideas?

(I was inspired by this blog post & this one.)