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Friday, December 26, 2014

New Year Memory Keeping

I was like most Mama's when TC was born, and had the best intentions of keeping up with his growth and milestones in the cutest books and charts. AND... just like most Mama's I lost track and stopped doing all of that stuff when he was around a year old. Let's be honest - life gets in the way, and we are busy.  I tried to come up with a way that I could keep up with the most important things in a way that would be easy to keep track of. That is where these next two tips come in - and a freebie for you too!

Personal Growth & Memories:
Frustration and guilt over not having recorded our favorite memories led me to come up with the New Years Day Memory binder idea a few years back. I bought a binder, some page protectors, and printed some pages for our little guy using our home computer. It wasn't much, but it took on a life of it's own, and it has since become a tradition.

Every year on New Years day, when the hustle and bustle of the holiday season is behind us, we spend some time reflecting and recording in our binder.

TC writes his name, traces his hand and foot, creates some art, and we write all of our favorite memories and milestones.  It's been easy to keep up with, and is so much fun to look back on each year. We slip each page into a plastic page protector, and keep the binder on the shelf with the photos albums.

FREEBIE  ----> This year I decided to create the pages ahead of time, and share them with you! They are all ready to go and FREE at my TPT store. You can download them ** here **. 

Homeschool Memories:
As a homeschooler we capture so many fun moments during learning activities, co-ops, field trips, etc. I knew I could order a yearbook through our homeschool support group, but I also wanted to capture specific memories for TC from his exciting school year.  I am creating him his own yearbook using Shutterfly's Photo Book creator, and I LOVE it!

Did you know that if you have an account with Shutterfly you are given unlimited photo storage at no cost to you? That's my favorite thing about them! I also downloaded the app on my phone, and I upload photos regularly. EASY.

Creating a yearbook could be stressful but with Shutterfly I can do it all while maintaining my sanity! Their site allows you to start creating a photo book at the beginning of the year, save it under your projects, and add to it as your kiddos make memories!

You can use their school memories page layouts and create an authentic looking year book for your homeschoolers too. We have one in the works, and I love how easy it is to add to. At the end of the school year I'll finalize it, and have it shipped. Oh! And I won't be stressed because it's being stored and organized for me. YAY!  (I'm not a Shutterfly affiliate. I just love their site and products.)

How do you keep your child's milestones and growth memories organized?

Wishing you all a Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Number Sense Fun!

Our 5 year old is up for anything that comes in the form of a game or competition. I use that to my advantage ALL of the time! Our learning time works much more smoothly if we're playing a game. When it comes to math it's usually no work at all to take a learning activity and turn it into some game time fun! Recently we've moved into addition, but we're still constantly reviewing basic number sense concepts and mastery of counting numbers.
Below you'll find descriptions of a few review activities that our son requests often!

For two of the following activities you'll need number cards. We made our own, but you can purchase a ready made set like these: 

Number Shuffle! 

We scramble number cards around on the desk and then use a timer (see my previous post on great timers to use) to see how quickly he can accurately organize the numbers in the correct order. We started this activity with just a few numbers, but have since worked our way up. Once he masters organizing the numbers in 2 minutes (consistently) then we add five additional numbers to the "game".  He is very excited to beat his best time and to master a new set of numbers.

Counting Forward! 

This is a very simple activity that we complete often. I have numbers 0-100 in a jar. Our son mixes them up, closes his eyes, picks a number out of the jar and then counts forward to 100! Sometimes he'll get a number very close to 100 and he giggles with excitement as if he's won. Other times (and it seems more often) he'll get a number less than 50 and will have some serious counting to do! Those are usually the days when he wants me to "play" as well.  It's a great opportunity to introduce and review greater than/less than concepts as well. He often marches as he counts and makes this a physical activity too!

The last activity calls for a number line. Again, we created our own, but this one is on our wishlist as it even includes negative numbers!

Mystery Number! 

Kindergarten standards typically include teaching the position of numbers using the terms before, after, and in-between. There are loads of worksheets available that will allow for practice of this skill, but we wanted to make it more "game" like. We placed a number line on the wall. We take turns creating questions for the other to answer. I will ask a question such as "What number comes after 36?" and he'll answer. Then he'll have to create a question and tell me if I answer correctly. The trick to this is that sometimes I answer incorrectly to be sure that he is thinking through the problem himself. He's corrected me with no problems so far. At times he still confuses before and after so we incorporated some visual posters that illustrate the concept of before, after, and in-between.

So far these simple activities have proven fun and engaging for reviewing these number sense concepts.  What number sense concepts do you turn into learning fun?