Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Leaping Into a New School Year!

The sign above says it all!  Fredrickson Academy is back in session.  :)

Before I show you more of our frog themed first day and week, here is a quick peek at what our morning board looks like this year...

We've changed a few things - removing items we didn't use as much and adding new things like my son's star (sight) words and the Pledge of Allegiance.

Don't you LOVE our handprint alphabet?  If you'd like to make your own, we found most of our ideas on this blog.  :)

And YES!  That is a new homeschooling fiction book in our reading corner.  I quickly whipped one up to go along with our first day of school and our frog theme.  More on that further below in the post.

Here is another exciting addition to our classroom.  We have our very own candy machine now!  :)

Did I ever mention we have our own hospital in our homeschool room- a pencil hospital to be exact.  When pencils get broken, we can drop them off at the hospital to be healed (sharpened) when the electric sharpener is brought out.

My kids each have a paper above their desks listing ways they can earn money towards a turn at the candy machine.  They earn pennies for great assignments, cleaning up, etc.   Once they have 25 pennies, they trade them in for a quarter and a sweet reward!

I can't remember if I posted about this before so I'll post the idea again just in case - it is so cute it deserves a second mention anyway. 

Every homeschool room needs a good jail, right?  ;) Ours is made from a plastic protector sheet, and the bars have been drawn on the front with a permanent marker.

The jail is where we put commonly misspelled words or perhaps repeatedly missed math facts.  To remove a word or fact from jail, one must be able to successfully spell or repeat the math fact (or perform some other form of "bail").  I was inspired to make this because of another blogger's post here

Okay, okay - let's hop to it and get on with the first day theme!  ;)

Here's our breakfast table, complete with "lily pad" plates.  Each child's chair also had a sign proclaiming that spot his/her lily pad seat.

Each child received two bookmarks (these are available as part of a homeschool packet in my TPT store), a frog pencil, and mini frog.

What did we have for breakfast?  Fly pancakes (chocolate chip pancakes) and cattails (sausage), of course!  ;)

Since we're on the topic of food, I should also mention that for a snack later on each child had blue (pond) jello with a gummy frog on top.  

With breakfast over, the kids literally hopped into the school room via lily pads on a pond made from cheap vinyl blue tablecloths.  

The frog is holding party blowouts (those curled up red things you blow into and they uncurl) which were GREAT for frog tongues!  My kids really loved running (or should I say hopping) around with these. I can't take credit for this idea though- I saw how someone had used them on a frog craft and knew I wanted them to be a part of our big day.

Here is what greeted the kids on the other side of the door - lots of blue balloons!  Hey, a pond has to be fun, right?  

I also made each of my kiddos a giant lily pad (not shown) to sit on during our morning meeting time.  I simply cut these out of a cheap green vinyl tablecloth, and the kids were pretty pleased with the results!  It isn't every day you get your very own giant lily pad to sit on, ya know!

Homeschool Elf strikes again!  The reproducible pattern of Homeschool Elf can be found inside "The First Day of Homeschool" book (see link below).

Part of the morning included our fun treasure hunt tradition of following clues left behind by the little mischief maker himself.  The kids finally found him and their missing school supplies hidden in a kitchen cabinet (the presents are wrapped up school supplies - unwrapping gifts just seems to add to the excitement of the first day of school).

BTW - the frog M&M container was super easy to make.  Just add two pom poms and wiggly eyes.

What's a first day without a good book to go with it, right?  We read "The First Day of Homeschool" (see link below) AND this new book to begin our day...

Note:  These are not all of the pages of the book - just a snippet.

Without getting into too much detail, the story tells of a frog who decides he wants a homeschool (although he doesn't know what one is) and follows your family home one day in hopes of finding a homeschool of his very own. 

What?!?  Our family?

Yep.  Your family.  I inserted blanks throughout the story for parents to insert their family's name and individual children's names as well so that the children become characters in the story.  

My kids loved hearing their names as we read together!  :)  

After following your family home, Mr. Hop-a-lot finds himself among items he assumes must be pieces of a homeschool.  He attempts to build with them, eat them, and even wear them!

Finally your children walk in on him and put an end to his confusion and silly behavior by telling him what a homeschool REALLY is.   I included blanks on that page so you can add your children's own words to the story explaining this concept.

As you can see from the final page above, the story ends on a very happy note with your children inviting him to come live with the family.  The delighted frog agrees, and they all homeschool happily ever after.

The book is simple, fun, and only $1.75!  Just download, print, and bind - we had ours comb-bound at an office supply store for only $1!  It is part of a packet I made which includes the frog bookmarks and sign shown in the breakfast pictures above AND the Venn diagram below.  Ready to download?  Click here.  

P.S.  If you find any errors in the story, please feel free to let me know.  I was trying to finish this in time for our first day so my editing efforts may not have caught everything.

With so many back-to-school books available that involve a classroom setting, I thought it might be interesting to compare school and homeschool settings, so I created this Venn diagram to do just that.

Remember the pond from the first day of school?  Well, I decided to put those lily pads to further use.  The kids were supposed to hop from one lily pad to the other and tell me the math fact answer or letter stuck to the lily pad.

For this activity, the green plates were considered lily pads.  Each time my son could tell me a letter name correctly, I would let him place a frog sticker on top of that letter.   

This was our frog life cycle project.  I found several of the items we used for it by searching in our pantry (those eggs are dry chickpeas).  We painted them, discussed the different stages, and put them in order to show the life cycle of a frog.

My kids love sticky hands!  Because of this well known fact, I knew they probably wouldn't need any convincing to try this game.  ;)

They were supposed to be the frogs, and the sticky hands were their tongues.  They would roll the dice, find the corresponding numbered fly, and try to catch it using their sticky hand/tongue.  

Mr. J was reviewing the alphabet this week so I used these colored frogs for some ABC practice.  We put them in order first.  I would then hide one frog, and he had to guess which one was missing and find it.

Last year we had caterpillars for class pets.  This year I TRIED to get a tadpole, but it didn't work out.  However, I came up with the next best thing (or something fun at least) - paper pets!  :)

The terrariums are plastic sleeves with a paper inside.  Each child decorated the paper in a way they felt would make a great habitat for their frog pet.  My son mentioned a lily pad but ended up drawing lots and lots of presents for his frog.  Too cute.  I'm sure any paper frog would be overjoyed to live there.  

The frogs were actually from a frog notepad.  I cut slits for the mouths and stapled a plastic baggie behind the mouth to catch the flies they were fed.  I then gave each child some sticky notes with either number sentences (older child) or numbers (for younger one) written on them.  Those notes told them how many flies to feed their frogs that day.  

You'll notice the frog in the picture has the word "Jill" on it.  Well, what fun is a pet if you can't name it?  So that is what they did and that is why the frog has the word "Jill" on it.  Being clever moms, I'm sure you had already figured that out.  ;)

BTW - I also purchased some multi-colored frogs on Amazon for sorting and counting practice.  I just didn't take pictures of them.  :)

Thanks for hopping by today to see what we've been up to!  "Hop"e your first day is a great one!