Introducing my Amazon Storefront

IMG_20190223_103750_762I have been working on something for you guys for a little while and am excited to share it with you today! One of my favorite things about following other homeschool accounts on Instagram and blogs is discovering the resources and products that other families use and love. I love seeing them in real life in their schooling and in their homes. Many of you ask me where I get certain things and what brands things are that you see in my Instagram posts. My hope is that I can share with you what we are using and love and that is helpful to you as you make choices on what to purchase for your own journey.

Recently Amazon introduced Amazon Storefronts, which is a place for small accounts like mine to post recommended resources all in one place with links for purchase through Amazon! I get a small kickback if you purchase an item from my storefront, which helps me buy more homeschool supplies. The products that I recommend are the exact things I have bought and are tried and true by my family. I plan to add to my Storefront over time, but for now I stocked it up pretty good with things I use and love if you want to take a browse.

Lesson Preparation

These are the products I use to print, laminate, and organize my curriculums and lessons. I especially love my printer and laminator! I use both every week and have had no problems with either one. The Amazon Basics laminator is an especially good price!

IMG_20190124_130536_133Sensory & Fine Motor Supplies

This category includes everything from the scissors we love to the net swing that we have hanging in our front yard for vestibular input. I have also included things you would find in a sensory bin like the water beads I buy and fine motor tools for scooping and grabbing!

Books

Here I have listed the must-have books for your home library. They are they ones we use for tea time poetry, reference for multiple lessons, or read-alouds that we read over and over. I have also included my top reads for the homeschool mama!

What Mama Loves

This was a fun one to put together as it is full of all the random things I personally love. Shoes, home decor, and my favorite coffee making gadgets. I am a fairly simple woman, but I have a few things that really bring a lot of joy to my life that I wanted to share.

Practical Life Skills

In this category I have included the things that we have that encourage my children to work alongside me in household chores and in the kitchen – things like child size aprons and a small handheld broom. My favorite in this section is definitely the hard nylon knives that they use daily in meal prep!

Art & Handcrafts

This may be my favorite section and my favorite part of home education! You will find the exact crayons,  watercolors, and clay we love and use on a regular basis. Everything in this section we have on hand for various projects. The yarn needles and the weaving loom are amazing tools for introducing handicrafts to littles.

IMG_20190218_103603_915Toys We Love

Here I have all of our favorite open-ended toys! These are basically all of the toys we own and encourage so much imaginative play. Currently my kids are mostly playing with Calico Critters and Magnatiles!

Phonics & Handwriting

I can’t say enough good things about the products I listed here. These are the books and resources we use everyday. I have also included the pencils and pencil grips we love!

Visit my storefront to see all of these items in detail. If you found this helpful, be sure to keep checking back as I will add items as I discover new things that we are using and love!

Habit Training: Household Chores

“The mother who takes pains to endow her children with good habits secures for herself smooth and easy days.” – Charlotte Mason

Processed with VSCO with a5 presetOkay, so I wouldn’t go so far as to say we’ve arrived at smooth and easy. However, I have definitely seen the benefit of persistence in the area of daily chores, even through all the whining, the “I can’ts,” and the overwhelming temptation just to do it myself. As I write this post, my children are newly 4 and 5 and a half years old.

To start, I want to share my why. Why do I believe that it is important to make household chores a part of their daily routine? I have a couple of main reasons.

First of all, as a homeschool family, we spend the majority of the hours in our day at home. There is no dropping off the mess-makers at school while I come home and clean in peace. More time with children in the home equals more messes. I simply cannot carry the entire load of all of the household chores and still have time to create, teach, imagine, and be a peaceful mama. I need them to carry a piece, and the only way that that will happen is if I start small and come alongside in training them.

Secondly, training them to care for their environment, their belongings, and their family members is a value that my husband and I want to instill in them. When they put the baby’s clothes away in his dresser, they are loving him well. When they pick up their toys from the living room floor so they don’t get stepped on, we are teaching them to care for what they’ve been given. When they stand back and take pride in a shiny clean dining room table, we are giving them the gift of accomplishment and training them to seek beauty and order.

Please do not misunderstand me. If you know me in real life, you will know that I am a “creative type”. You know, the ones whose space looks like a bomb went off in the midst of the latest cooking endeavor or a crafting adventure. It usually stays that way long after the dust of the idea settles. Despite my greatest efforts, my laundry room/homeschool storage is atrocious, which is the exact reason I have never posted a photo of how I store and “organize” all the things. But I am getting better each day and as I train them, and I am hoping that I too will be trained.

We have been practicing “Morning Chores” in our home consistently for about a year. The first few months were the hardest, for me and for them. It was 75% me, 25% them. It looked like me talking and encouraging them through each step and literally at times holding their hands as they worked through the entire chore. Keep persisting! Make it routine and keep it positive. Now, a year later, I can honestly say its 5% me, 95% them!

Everyone needs to find their own system, but I wanted to share what has worked for us in hopes of inspiring you. I knew from the beginning that our routine needed to be simple and flexible. I made this simple chart and I print one out for each week. As you can see, we don’t do a structured chore time on the weekends. The longer we’ve been at this, the easier it is for me to ask them to jump in on the weekend and do a chore spontaneously without complaint.

Each morning after breakfast, the kids run off and play and I “survey the land”. Which chores need to be completed before we can start our day in peace? Is there a pile of clean laundry on the couch from the night before? Then I will choose “sort and put away clothes” as one of our chores. Are we going somewhere that needs a picnic lunch that day? Then I will write “help pack lunches” as a chore. I sometimes choose quicker chores if we have an outing we need to get to. After I do the morning’s dishes, start a load of laundry, and get dressed, I call the kids together to begin our Morning Chores.

Here is a list of some of the possible chores you may find on our chore chart on any given day. Remember that at first, I practically did the entire chore while they watched. It has been a slow transition of them doing more and more of each chore independently. There are still certain chores that they need a significant amount of help accomplishing.

  • Clean bedroom (this is primarily sorting toys into labeled bins)

  • Clean living room

  • Spray and wipe dining room table and chairs

  • Vacuum living room, bedroom, or downstairs rug

  • Load washer/ dryer

  • Clean out the van

  • Sweep kitchen and dining room

  • Help pack lunches

  • Make beds

  • Sort and put away clothes

  • Fold washcloths and towels

  • Gather library books to be returned (I print a list and they find them all over the house and check off the list)

  • Clean bathrooms (toilets, mirrors)

Each day I also write “get dressed” as one of their chores. We go through the list and the kids take turns choosing a chore to complete. We all complete them together. Whoever chose it gets to cross it off once it’s complete (believe me, this matters). Once all six are complete, they get to put a sticker on the chart and on their shirt.

That’s it! Our chore time takes between 30 minutes and an hour each day depending on which ones I choose. After Morning Chores are complete we are all dressed and have a clean and orderly space to sit down together, have a snack, and start morning school activities.

Here’s a post with more details about our Daily Rhythm.

To download a blank chore chart like the one show above, click here.

Our Homeschool Preschool Daily Rhythm (updated)

Recently, I took a step back from schooling and took some time to read, pray about, and discover more of what I believe is important in these early years. Out of my discoveries I felt the need to shift some of our routines, taking things out and adding new things into our daily rhythm. I derived most of these changes from things I learned studying Charlotte Mason’s philosophies. In a nutshell, I felt we needed more margin in our days for outdoor time, a heavier emphasis on habit training, and more spiritual truth being taught in a natural way. I was thrilled to walk away from all of this research to find that the current curriculum I have been using, The Peaceful Preschool, lines up very well with the direction I hope to continue to go in home educating.

I am a huge believer that every family dynamic is unique and that each family has to discover what works for their household as a whole. A family’s rhythm with infants or older children will look different than a family with only preschoolers in the house. I also have experienced that nothing is set in stone. There is always room for shifting as your family’s needs and interests change. So I share our current daily rhythm only as a starting point to get you thinking about what would work best in your home. I am strongly passionate about giving children structure, as well as room to explore and play with no strings attached. We say “no” a lot and have zero regrets about that.

I wanted to share with you our entire weekday schedule, not just the school part because I want you to see it in light of the big picture. This is our Monday-Friday schedule, as weekends usually start the same with breakfast and morning chores and then take on a life of their own with outings and family time.

Here is a look into our daily rhythm. Scroll down to read each section in more detail.

7 – 8:30am Morning Routine

8:30 – 9am Morning Chores

9 – 9:45am Together Time

9:45 – 11am Table Time

11am – 1pm Outing / Outdoor Play

1 – 3:30pm Lunch / Rest Time

3:30 – 5pm Free Play / Poetry Tea Time

5 – 7:30pm Dinner / Nighttime Routine

7:30pm Children’s Bed Time

Now I will go into detail about each segment of our day.

MORNING ROUTINE

I am usually up by 6am to have some time in silence with my coffee and Bible before the day gets crazy. Between 7-7:30am the children are usually awake and hungry! They immediately jump in to help me make breakfast. When they are finished eating they clear their dishes and are free to play until I call them back for Morning Chores. During this time I start a load of laundry, empty the dishwasher and load it from breakfast, and get dressed.

MORNING CHORES

On our big chalkboard in the main area of the house, I write a short list of chores for the morning that we will all do together. “Get Dressed” is the only one that is always there. I add in different ones each day according to what needs to be done or a skill I want them to learn. Some other examples are wash windows, feed the pet fish, and sort laundry. All of these chores are done together at this point. We check off each chore and celebrate as they are accomplished.

TOGETHER TIME

If you are familiar with Charlotte Mason, you have probably heard of having a “Morning Basket”. This is that morning basket time for us. We gather in the living room on the floor or outside on the porch if the weather is lovely. We start with prayer, inviting God to come into our day and to open our minds to learn and understand. We thank Him for anything that comes to mind and pray for any needs going on around us. Then we sing a few songs from our music class, some nursery rhymes, or bible songs. Usually these include hand and body motions, visuals, and/or instruments and rhythm sticks. Next I read or review the Bible story for the week and we practice our memory verse with sign language. Then I read 3-5 books from our preschool curriculum or from Read Aloud Revival’s monthly booklist.

TABLE TIME

We all move from the living room to the dining room table, and the kids eat a snack while I gather supplies for our table activities. These activities are from The Peaceful Preschool and ones I have found on my own on Pinterest that correlate with the season or our current bible lesson. It usually includes a handicraft project or sensory activity. These activities are all set up as invitations with nothing formally instructed.

OUTING / OUTDOOR PLAY

This is the part of our day that we make mudpies, take a hike on a trail, or have a picnic. Often we have playdates with friends at our home or meet up at a playground. One day a week during this time we attend a family-style music class and another day every week we attend storytime at our local library.

LUNCH / REST TIME

We often pack a picnic lunch for our morning adventure or eat outside if it is a nice day. Around 1:30pm Titus and Josie go into their rooms for Rest Time. They rarely nap, but they play in their rooms until around 3:30pm. My son (4.5 years old) is allowed to keep his light on and listen to music or audiobooks. My daughter (3 years old) has the light off and ends up napping a couple times a week. During this time, I clean up from the morning, do additional household chores, and rest.

FREE PLAY / POETRY TEA TIME

Once or twice a week I set up tea time at the dining room table when they come out from resting. We have some treats and tea (or coffee or juice) and I read from a poetry book for 15-20 minutes. Other days this gets scratched and they head outside to the backyard as soon as they come out of their rooms. We have a trampoline, slide, swings, and a pots-and-pans drum circle. Usually you can find them playing with sticks, mud, and rocks. Sometimes they want to stay inside and play or do arts and crafts. We don’t have a lot of toys, but I’ve listed some of our favorite toys for open-ended play. We also have basic arts and crafts supplies out for them to use anytime they would like.

DINNER / NIGHTTIME ROUTINE

I usually bring the kids in around 5 and allow them to watch a show while I prep dinner. They currently like TumbleLeaf on Amazon Prime. After dinner, my husband usually bathes them while I clean up and then we all play or read books together in the living room. Sometimes I have them help straighten up their bedrooms if they got messy during rest time. They go to bed around 7 or 7:30, depending on how worn out they are and if they napped or not.

Our days are both full and calm. It took a lot of trial and error to get to this place, and my hope for you is that you can glean from this to create the rhythm that suits your family’s unique needs and desires!