Tot School Week 4: Favorites

For Sam (23 months), I go by his lead.  I don't pressure him to learn anything and there's no expectations other than "have fun".

Going by his lead, the boy loves to color.  Loves.  To.  Color. 

Because he loves to color, and to be included when his big brother and sister are busy with a worksheet, he gets these adorable sheets, Zoomin' Movin' Alphabet, from Royal Baloo.  This week he got Q is for Quad.  The only goal I have for Sam with these is just the most basic of introductions to the alphabet.  I'll say "Q! kwa!", then hand him a stamper to do whatever he wishes.  I'll often also say the color a few times while he stamps.

We go to the library once a week.  Lately, Sam spends 100% of his time there coloring.  He colored every sheet they had on the table. 

This week, if he wasn't coloring, he was playing with this "tot tray" I had set up for big sister.  She was learning about sounds and ears and Sammy just fell in love with the whole thing.  He opened each egg and would keep busy pouring into little buckets and back into the egg.  Over and over again. 

His most favorite thing, every week so far, is his harmonica .  I am so very glad I got this for him.  It goes everywhere with him.  Most kids run and play at the park.  Sam?  No.  He'll just sit and serenade the crowd.  ;)

I just love the harmonica.  As a first instrument, you just can't go wrong with this.  The noise isn't offensive like some beginning instruments can be.  lol.

(I advice not to go cheap on harmonicas.  We got one from the dollar store to "save money" and it was a waste of time and money.  They are hard to get to make any noise and are so poor in quality.  Get a good quality and it is so simple to make a noise!)

Linking up with:


The Quiet Way Home {b4fiar}

The Quiet Way Home, by Bonny Becker, is often a skipped over title of the Before Five in a Row (b4fiar) line up.  It is out of print and hard to find for a reasonable price.  In the past we just did similar titles, like The Listening Walk .

This year, we were finally able to fully enjoy this wonderful title, in a new way.  It is available (for only $0.99) in the app store for iPhone or iPad use, read by the author herself!  I do enjoy a real deal book more.  However, since that wasn't an option the iPad was a decent substitute. 

We "rowed" this with a 1, 4 and 7 yr old.  They all had a grand time.

Each day we begin our lessons with Long Story Short: Ten-Minute Devotions.  I absolutely love this book.  Love love love it.

This week, after devotions we sang along with Seeds of Purpose, Psalm 34:11-14 with this great printable at Bible Verse Printables.

After bible lessons, we move on to some character education.  We use Kids of Integrity and sometimes we use Character Education printouts and videos.  This week we focused on Attentiveness.

What goes better with Attentive education than some listening ears!?  I had saved the cardboards that are at the bottoms of some paper packs or the end of pads of paper.  They came in great for this.  Cereal boxes would be great too.

The best book for this, we found, is Listen, Buddy .  It is so fun for the kids, and they get in some rhyming practice.  We read this every day, by the kids' request.

One day I put Sam on my lap and read The Ear Book, by Al Perkins.  The other two quickly gathered around also.  This is such a fun book to introduce "ear science" to the littlest guys.

Afterward I busied Connor and Emma with an ear worksheet each, from  Meanwhile, I gathered our silliest Easter eggs from storage.  Inside each one I put just whatever random object I could find.  I ended up with: 1) pencil eraser, 2) black beans, 3) craft feather, 4) rice, 5) quarters, 6) marbles.

I put a matching item into one small plastic tub each.  (I saved some applesauce tubs for painting and we use them all the time for various things). 

When the kids were done I called them over to guess what was inside each egg as I shook it.  I pointed out their choices in the tubs.

Emma got mad at me about the feather.  She was insistent there was nothing in the 'feather' egg.  I opened it and the feather shot out.  She doesn't like to be wrong so she quickly grabbed those up and declared we were all done with them.

This "sound tray" was such a HUGE hit.  (and it didn't take long for Sammy to come hurrying over demanding to be included).  It ended up staying on the tray all week, to move around from kitchen to living room for play.  Sort of a tot sensory tray I suppose. 

Ears are also responsible for balance.  I read a non-fiction kid book on ears, from the library, to Emma.  (it doesn't matter which one.  There's so many out there, just grab whichever is available at your library).  At the end of the book it was saying how the liquid in our ears will keep moving, if we suddenly stop.  That's why we get dizzy sometimes.  So of course we had a round of spinning in the living room, where yet again, everyone came running for a turn.  Fun for the kids, not so fun for mom, who needs more than 5 seconds to recover from a spin.  lol.

We read balance act, then played our own version with our animal tubs and Plan Toys scale (side note:  I wouldn't recommend this for homeschooling - it's hard to get things in and out of the baskets).

We don't eat a lot of canned food, so I actually had to make a point to buy 2 cans just to do this .... but it was a hit with the kids so it was worth it. 
(it doesn't work unless the string is taunt, but the kids had fun either way) 

To end the week, with the most perfect of timings... Connor jumped on his bike and rode it for the first time, with no training wheels!!  (he's always had sensory issues, so this is really huge deal for us)  We celebrated with a dessert date night out.  Little guy was so proud of himself and was sure to announce it to all who would listen.

In all the excitement I completely forgot about my first homeschool co-op meeting, but it was so worth missing.

Linking up with:
FIAR Link-Up @ Delightful Learning
 Weekly Wrap-Up
Next weekIf Jesus Came to my House

I am an Artist {b4FIAR}

This is our second time rowing with b4fiar.  When I first did it I had just Connor to school.  (Emma was a young tot).  To be honest, I didn't really love I am an Artist the first go around.  I did love our little art book we made, but I didn't save the pdf for that (what was I thinkin!?) and now it's gone off the interweb.  sad!

This go around with I am an Artist..... head over heels in love with how it turned out.  The difference?  I'm not pushing my 4 year old to do too many things in fear I'm not doing enough.  It's enough!  Lets say it again, all together now:  It is enough.

Let me show you, in a style that is not the norm here at West Word Blog.  (usually I'm wordy, and usually I save the best for last.... lets reverse all that)

Here's the icing on the cake - the end of our week memory maker:  a walk in a park. ...

Okay so maybe a little bit of words just for background.  There's this "grand" trail in town.  On said trail is, apparently, a pedestrian bridge.  All summer we tried to figure out the trail system and tried to find the bridge.  Each and every walk was a hot disaster.  We'd get lost.  We'd get cranky.  We'd walk for miles (6 one day!!) and find nothing.

At the end of our row this week I decided, spontaneously, to take the kids one last time to find this bridge.  And now I understand.  All those other times?  They weren't the right time.  We might have found the bridge, but we would have missed so much more.  I truly believe we were not meant to find it until this day.  No other day and no other time would have been like this.

I thought we'd merely find the bridge, and it'd be something sorta cool for the kids to walk over.  It was so much more.

We found the right trail (and knew it this time).  The kids ran the whole way.  You can't tell, but we are up high on a cliff, with a river below.  Just amazing.  Straight out of a story book.

After running, was some skipping.

And then magic happened.

"I am an artist when I see that the sun ... goes down in a fiery blaze." - Pat Lowery Collins

And then?  We found the bridge.


No body wanted to leave.  We had to, though, or we'd be finding our way back in the dark.

We turned to go and Connor screamed out.  "MOM!!  Moooom!"  The kid just about wept.  Then he finally stammered out.  "I'm an artist when I see shapes in a cloud!  Look!!  Looooook!  It's a feather!  Mom!! I see a feather!!!"

"Moooooom!!!  I see a crocodile!!!"

All of this evening was magical and nothing short of amazing.  It couldn't get any better.  Then?  This happened:

"Emma!  This is the best day ever!  Dance with me!!"

We had to, sadly, break them up and carry on with our trek back.  We got to the shadowy, treed part of the trail and I kept saying to Emma, "I am an artist when I discover shadows made by the moon!"

Emma stopped dead in her tracks, bending down to the ground.  "I'm an artist when I follow the line!!"  (coming back up with leaves)

We made our way back to the van, and with many complaints all the kids got wrangled into their seats.  The whole way home they kept yelling out all the various things they saw in the clouds.  We arrived home after bedtime, but it was so worth it.  Every minute.

Of course, we did do other things before, earlier in the week.  But all that doesn't even matter anymore.  This day, this moment - experiencing real things with them... that's what matters.

All the planning and worksheets in the world wouldn't have made a difference.  My plans can never compare to His perfect timing and His perfect plans.  He is the Artist.  The Creator.  If you only stop to look, you will be amazed and you will stand in awe, too. 

"And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good" Genesis 1:31

Linking up with:

FIAR Link-Up @ Delightful Learning Weekly Wrap-Up
Next upThe Quiet Way Home by Bonny Becker

Blueberries for Sal {b4fiar}

This post contains affiliate links, which means I might receive 4% if you make a purchase using these links. Affiliate links will be shown with an asterisk (*) beforehand, to clarify.
It's no surprise to me that Mr. McCloskey makes an appearance in the FIAR curriculum 3 times.  Robert McCloskey books are all just such a treasure, and this one, *Blueberries for Sal, is no different.  *Blueberries for Sal should be a "must read" for all children, it is just so special. 

We "rowed" this with a 7, 4 and 1 year old and they all just adore the story.

Bible Study:
Our main bible study is done with *Long Story Short: Ten-Minute Devotions.  Along with that we sometimes do Grapevine Studies.  (for the record I prefer Long Story Short)

We were talking of Creation in our devotional time, and one day Sam was up early (we do school really early for my enthusiastic early risers and usually Sam is still in bed).  I printed off a super cute page from the Adam and Eve Bible Coloring Pages over at Mama's Learning Corner.  B is for little bear!

In addition to our devotionals, we focused on obedience this week.
We used bible verse pintables from Homeschool Creations, for Ephesians 6:1 (Children obey your parents).  Jolanthe is super awesome and made two versions, one for the younger crowd and one for the older.  So this worked out wonderful for our age range.
We listened to *Seeds of Character (Vol. 6), song 8 - Children and Fathers.

Again this year, we are using the free studies from Kids of Integrity.   The kids loved the "kick off craft" for this lesson.

There is also a great resource for Character Education, at Character First Education.  There's plenty of free downloads and video (poem, song, story); however, if you still want more there's things to purchase too.  (we just did the free things).  While I placed this under our bible study, it is not a bible curriculum.

We read 5 Little Monkey's Jumping on the Bed and 5 Little DucksKizClub has adorable printables.  For Sam, I found him an interactive *Poke-A-Dot: 10 Little Monkeys.

Further ideas for go-along with the obedient character trait:

Language Arts:  (writing, reading, phonics)

We have a high focus on literature in our house.  So when we row, we look for plenty of go-along books to look at and enjoy throughout the week.  Here's our great finds:

Emma (preK) also worked on her sight words, using Scholastic ebooks and This Reading Mama.

With Connor (2nd grade), I've been trying to match up the b4FIAR selections with a good quality chapter book in the same theme as we'll be rowing.  This week he read The Boxcar Children, A Graphic Novel, because of the foraging that they did to stay alive (the regular novel was already checked out).  It wasn't my first choice but was the only one of my list that was at the library, here.  Connor read Boxcar Children in one day, so we also read The Adventures of Buster Bear, which was a good fit.  My other (unavailable) choices were:

Sammy (tot) helped scribbled Emma's writing practice, which can be found at Homeschool Creations.  He also got printouts from the Zoomin' Movin' Alphabet.

Social Studies:

I had intended to read these books for our Social Studies, but again, they were unavailable at our library.
We did a family tree one day.  We could have used a bigger piece of paper.  lol.


For 2nd grade we read a few non-fiction bear books, one of which was I Love Bears.

We used this great resource for learning about blueberries (besides going to pick your own):  Blueberry Council.  We printed their poster, for Connor.

Emma worked on her Scholastic Sing-a-long Science, "My Body's Working", with the "berry good" sheet to accompany it.

Both Sam and Emma continue to adore our *Fruit (First Discoveries) book.


Sammy worked with Colorful Caterpillars, a game by Hape.

With Emma we practiced counting with the literature pack from Homeschool Creations and some flat bottomed marbles.  I got more than I bargained for when she began to repeatedly make up 70+ counting problems for me to do. 

She also would add a marble to her hand one day while reading, for each "kerplink, kerplank, kerplunk".  We then worked on positional words with the little book printout from above mentioned literature pack.  (so cute!)


We painted a bear from Learn, Create, Love.  Sam was super helpful painting his own as well as painting sister's and brother's.

Blueberries for Sal has definitely made an impression on Emma.  Each day she'd draw a girl eating blueberry pie or blueberry cookies - or she'd draw a girl carrying a pail full to the brim with blueberries.

Memory Making:

To end this unit, we made the obvious choice:  blueberry picking!  Emma, by far, was our most enthusiastic picker.  We had two completely full buckets and sister was not going to stop.

We also made a pie, using a cookbook from the '50s!  (thank you Grandma!)

To end the week we went on a walk to admire Creation (we'd been studying it for 2 weeks at this point).  The kids were so enthusiastic over every small detail on this walk.  Usually there is plenty of moaning and groaning, but today, this day, nothing but amazement and joy.

On our walk we ran into about 6 bunnies.  The first one Emma called out "D for Dash!!" as it ran away.  I just love FIAR.

We also are now proud owners of our very own blueberry bush!

Linking up with:

FIAR Link-Up @ Delightful Learning

Weekly Wrap-Up


Next up:  I Am An Artist by Pat Lowery Collins

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