About Me

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Stockbridge, Ga, United States
I am married to the love of my life and blessed to be the mom of 6 amazing kids, 5 here on earth and one I long to see again in heaven. We are entering our third decade of parenting together, and love all the blessings along this journey. I am a homeschool mom,a writer, a trainer, and a speaker, but mostly I am a sinner saved by grace who desperately desires to encourage others on this path and to live a life that brings Glory to the One who saved me.

Monday, April 16, 2012

synonyms- grammar practice

The synonym bag is based on the same concept as the homophone bag. I found these adorable lady bug eggs in the clearance rack in the same box as those cute turtles, but you could really use any plastic Easter eggs for this project.
Inside of each egg are 12 words that match into six synonym matches.

The object of each egg is simply to match the words on the cute lady bug chart.

And that's it- cute, easy and another competency to practice!

Daily Grammar fix-its

Grammar is one of those things that plagues the best of us, so I was so excited to see these "Daily Grammar Fix Its" from Amanda Nickerson on the Teachers pay Teachers site. This is a perfect idea to complement my competency bags!
She designed these wonderful pages and I only made one adjustment- simply to shrink them to 4 to a page so they fit into my bags. I love the idea of these. Each card starts with an improperly written sentence that the student needs to correct. Then there is a space for the correct sentence, and then a box to illustrate it. I laminated mine so that these can be used again and again, and I printed on both sides of the page to save space in the bag. Throw in a dry-erase marker and a wipe off cloth and it's finished!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Fun Fractions!

The idea of fractions is generally not something I think of in the same sentence as the word "fun", but that doesn't mean that it can't be there. I set out to make a fractions bag that was fun while learning, and I think this one fits the bill.
So the fractions on the cards are in two parts. There are some that have the fraction on the left and a blank list of lines on the right. They are laminated so that these can be used as a dry erase set.  These can be colored to match the fraction. I have another series I cut apart and had my little girl color in advance (She was helping and had no idea that she was also learning fractions at the same time- so cool!). That set will be used as a matching game.
The other component I added to my competency bag was this fraction flip book I found at Dollar Tree. I'm beginning to think there is nothing you can't find at that store!
Anyway, it's a fun flip book that matches the fraction, the picture and even the decimal! Still working on some games to play with this one, but otherwise the bag is complete!

Journal prompts

The simplicity of this competency bag is almost too easy to post, but the concept is so good I didn't want to miss it. These are simply journal prompts, gathered from many different sources (They are EVERYWHERE on-line!) If you are not familiar with these, they are simply story starters designed to give ideas for journal writing.

I added a blank journal in my bag, and I think I might add a special pen too since this is a bag I plan to have my sweet girl use everyday. The task- choose a journal prompt, write a page in the journal! Love this one!

USA Geography and state capitols

So this competency bag took me a bit longer to accomplish than some of the others, but it's such a cool concept I just had to try it, and I love the way it turned out. The biggest part of this one is paint sample chips-free and easily accessible, so it works well in the budget!

I started with 10 colors of paint chips. (Get a few pieces of each color). My samples had a dot already perforated on one side so I used that for the clothes pins, but you could easily cut a circle out if your doesn't come that way. Glue a color onto 10 different clothespins (or however many you would like to use per page.)

The next task was creating maps that could be labeled. I broke the states down into 10 per page on 5 pages so it wasn't as overwhelming to try to locate all 50. At the top of each page, I listed the states to be found on that page, and then glued a small square from the same color paint chips.
Then I draw a line from each state to the side of the page. Like this.
I laminated the charts so they can be used again and again, and I would be glad to share them if you want to email me for them. The task is simply to identify the state by the correct color clothespin. This concept can really be used for anything that requires labeling, like systems in the body, or life cycles of plants or animals. Once the clothespins are ready, you can simply keep the colors on the charts the same and use them again and again!

So that covered my state labeling part, but I wanted some work on state capitols as well. I found a gem at Dollar Tree (Love that place!!) one pack of cards that lists each state on a flashcard and one that list the name of the capitols. TA DA!! Matching game for a whopping total of $2!
So my bag contains the components to cover some basic geography and capitols as well! Should keep her entertained for a while and will sharpen those skills nicely!

Homophones- fun grammar lessons

I love seasonal items, and I especially love clearance items, so this project works well for both. First of all, if you don't have any leftover plastic Easter eggs left over from last weekend, RUN to your nearest store and pick up a few batches. Look for really cool shapes like these great turtles. I managed to pick mine up at 50% off this week, ,so I'm sure you will probably get them cheaper this week. Hurry, though. The stores don't hold on to these for long!

So this package of eggs was called the Spring garden collection, and mine came with 7 adorable turtles. (It also came with lady bugs and butterflies, and I already have plans for those too!) I was looking for a creative way to teach homophones- those tricky words that sound the same but are spelled different and mean different things. Let's face it, most adults don't get this right, so it's probably good to start this one pretty young.

Inside each turtle, I put pieces of paper, each with the same sounding words. (Like to, too and two). I also put the definitions for each one in the same egg.
Then I created a little turtle chart to match the strips. I made 7 of the little charts.
Cute and easy!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

I have...Who Has?

Apparently this game, "I have...Who has?" has been around in classrooms a while, but I was fairly clueless about it until recently. I'm not typically up on the latest classroom endeavors, especially since we have been homeschooling for 7 years now. Anyway, I came across this game and I LOVE how well it works into the competency bag concept. In this pursuit, I came across a web site that EVERY teacher should know about and use- www.teacherspayteachers.com. WOW! What a wealth of resources!! If you type in "I have...Who has?" in the search engine, you will come up with literally HUNDREDS of options of how to make this game work into your curriculum.

So how does it work?

In a classroom setting, each student is given a card. On the card it shows a part of the puzzle, starting with "I have". The student reads what they have, then ask the question at the bottom of their card that starts with "Who has?". Whoever has that on their "I am" part jumps in and starts the process again. Sounds complicated but it's really very simple. The types of information on these is everything from matching alphabet letters to matching information about the presidents or mathematical equations. AMAZING! I even found some on DNA and genetics!

So here's how I converted this idea to the competency bags. I printed the cards and included a series of plastic links. I bought these a while back, but I have seen these at Walmart and at School Box, so they shouldn't be too hard to find.
The possibilities here are simply endless. For my second grader, I have found these in versions of multiplication, plural words, elapsed time, seasonal studies and so much more. This activity might turn into several bags!

ABC Order Competency bag

This is a very simple concept bag and doesn't take long to create. I wanted to teach the topic of alphabetical order, and so I printed about 30 words that come from a 1-2nd grade word list and put them on scrapbook paper. I included an ABC desk list to help in case she gets stuck. I bought my desk list in a pack of 30 from the Dollar tree.
Sometimes simple is the best kind of project!

Greater than/Less than Competency bag

I must say that this bag gave my laminator quite a work out, but the end result was so worth it! I wanted a fun way to teach the Greater than/Less than concept, and a friend mentioned that she used a Pac Man symbol. From there this bag was born.

Materials needed:
Scrapbook paper
Tin gift card holder (I got mine for $1 at Dollar Tree)
magnet tape

So I started with cutting out three shapes- the Pac Man is the "greater than" symbol, the monster is the "less than" symbol, and then a square "equal" sign. I typed up a really random group of numbers, making sure I had several duplicate ones so the equal sign could be used. The amount of numbers isn't as relevant as the variety. I wanted to make sure I had some 1,2, and 3 digit numbers to show place value. I cut everything out, glued the numbers to scrapbook paper, laminated everything and put a small piece of magnet tape on the back of each.

So there are several ways to use this. The tin is a great metallic surface for assembling the equations.
Jamie can put 2 numbers up then choose the right symbol, or we can put 1 number and 1 symbol and have her choose a number that makes the statement true.

The symbol pieces store nicely in the bin. I also included some laminated true/false cards for extra dry erase reinforcement.

Music Competency bag

This turned out to be one of my favorites. My six year old just started playing clarinet this year, and has had some trouble remembering the notes as she is learning to read music. This bag is the perfect solution, and lots of fun too.

I covered several competencies in this bag, including learning the names and shapes of notes, recognizing the placement of notes and memorizing clarinet finger positions. You could really make this work with any instrument.

 For these cards, I had my 15 year old son draw out the pictures of a treble clef, bass clef, whole note, half note, quarter note and a rest. I guess I could have just printed these onto card stock from on-line, but he was sitting there and he draws well :) Anyway, the task is simply to trace the shapes of the notes with the pipe cleaners. Easy, and a great way to help her remember them.
Next up in this bag is clarinet finger position flash cards. We wanted to have something that was a visual reminder of what Jamie was trying to replicate in class, so this was a good fit. My sweet hubbie found the finger position chart on line (and believe me, there are TONS of these for EVERY Instrument, so finding these shouldn't be difficult!) He zoomed in until we got the size we like, then we printed them, wrote the correct note name on the back and laminated them. Great review without having to lug that instrument out of it's case each time!
The last part of this competency bag is simply a laminated chart of many different notes with blank lines under them. I threw in a kitchen timer and challenged her to complete each of the lines in less then 15 seconds. I figure it will at least take a few tries to get there!
And there you have it, out music note competency bag. As she gets better and better at reading music and playing the clarinet, there is room for many more notes and symbols along the way!

Compound Words

This seems like the easiest competency bag to make, and since it's mostly free, I will start here. The competency covered here is compound words. I used a stack of paint sample chips cut in half to write each of the words, then laminated each one. (And Walmart probably thinks I am doing some SERIOUS redecorating based on the number of paint samples I have picked up for these projects!)
Each word is one part of the compound word, like the words "Sea" and "Side" are written on two different cards. The task in this bag is simply for the child to match as many cards to it's mate(s). Several cards match to more than one word. I also included a chart that says, "How many compound words can you make?" and laminated it so that it becomes a dry/erase board. Also included in the bag is a dry erase marker and a piece of white felt for cleaning board.
Easy and covers a great concept. What do you think?

Competency Bags

     Like most homeschooling moms, spring is the season where I begin to think about what we want for our kids for the next school year. I'm a non-traditionalist when it comes to curriculum selection, and I really hate buying complete packages of curriculum only to find that at the end of the year we really haven't used many of the components. Seems like a waste of money and still leaves me wondering how we could have done it better. I tend to try new things each year because even after 7 years of homeschooling among several different personalities, I have yet to find too many things that work for everyone for every grade level. So in the midst of planning a graduation for our son Brandon this year, I am busy hunting and planning out what next year will look like for the rest of our crew.

     There will always be textbooks and workbooks and writing and reading, but what I look for most in this curriculum search are those things that stand out as fun, educational, and something my kids might actually enjoy. We spend a HUGE amount of our homeschooling time outside of the home doing book-fairs and other events, so school needs to be portable but still educational. I hate doing busy work, and I imagine that my kids would hate it too, so we really don't do that. When they are working on a school assignment, I want them fully connected to the material they are working on and I want them to learn through every process. Completing another worksheet as a "review" isn't a good use of their time unless of course, they really need the extra practice.

     So with that said, I have found TONS of amazing resources called "Busy Bags". The concept of these is fabulous. You simply fill different bags with different materials and each one is a self-contained exploration for little ones. My toddler will be completely set when I get all of his finished. The problem with these is that everything I am finding is focused on toddlers and preschoolers, and pretty much end with Kindergarten. So it got me thinking. What if I could create these bags based on more than these basic Pre-K concepts and create bags based on COMPETENCY? There's a bunch of talk these days of the Common Core Standards, and that's generally where I begin my curriculum search, so this idea is to create multi-level grade projects that each center around a competency. So for my upcoming second grader, I began with the core standards for second grade. I browsed through looking for specific competencies- those things that at minimum she should have mastered by the end of next year. My list had about 40 different ideas on it, but this will give you some ideas of some of those items:

greater than/Less than
two digit addition/subtraction
compound words
identifying nouns, verbs and adjectives
counting coins
telling time to the minute
and so many more!

So I set out to find fun ways to teach each, and found some fun ideas.

So my next few blogs will be dedicated to some tutorials around creating wonderful COMPETENCY BAGS and some ideas for planning these out for all grade levels. These bags are terrific for homeschoolers, and could work great as centers in classrooms as well. Enjoy!