I have never written about it on here (or maybe I have, but not very much) but last January we decided to homeschool Eva. She started grade one in school, and was gone all day, five days a week. It was such a change to get used to driving her to school every day, doing the whole morning routine and using some the small bit of time we had together in the evening to do homework. Some nights, when I would announce that it was supper time, Eva would cry because she knew bedtime was coming soon after. She would say, “I didn’t get to spend enough time with my family today!”
Originally, I wanted to homeschool from the very beginning. For whatever reason, I just couldn’t get my hands on the kind of information I needed and I felt completely overwhelmed by the idea of it. I thought I had to make up all the lessons myself, and no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t find enough time to figure out something that worked for us. So we sent Eva off to school and felt very happy with our choice. I felt pangs of wanting to homeschool during Kindergarten and into grade one, but I always told myself that while homeschool might be my ideal, it doesn’t fit my reality of what I can handle.
One October day last year, it snowed, and Peter made a passing comment about how we should just homeschool instead of having to deal with the daily commute to her school (approximately a 15 minute drive each way, but much longer when you count in bundling up three kids, buckling them, dragging everyone into the school to drop Eva off at her class, back out, drive home and unbundle, all to do it again at the end of the day…). I called a friend of mine who has been homeschooling for quite some time now and she brought over all her materials and showed me all of it. It turned out that there is a TON of awesome homeschool curriculum out there, some of it fully prepared for you so that you have very minimal prep work to do and no lesson planning!
Peter and I prayed and discussed and prayed and discussed and decided we would give homeschooling a try, even if only for a couple of years. I feel very positively about Eva’s experience in school and there are lots of things I really loved about her going to school. I also love a lot of things about homeschooling too, and I feel like they are both awesome options — it just depends on what works best for the family and for right now, we feel like homeschool fits our needs. It’s possible we will send our kids to school again sometime in the future, but for now this is what we have decided to do.
Last year before we started, I wanted to have some “busy bins” for Ezra to keep him occupied and doing something while Eva and I were working together on her school work… but I never got around to it. So it was a huge goal for me to do it for this year, and I actually accomplished it! A lot of friends have been interested to know what is in Ezra’s bins, so I took some pictures to share here.
Here is a picture of all the bins, labeled Monday-Friday. They are only to be used during school time and only on the specified day, to keep the interest piqued. Most of the ideas came from my Homeschool Preschool board on Pinterest, so definitely check that out if you are interested in making something like this for yourself. Some of these items I already owned, but most of it was purchased from Dollarama.
1) Under the Sea board book
2) Mega blocks pattern cards
3) matching number puzzles (from a number kit purchased at Dollarama)
4) circle lacing card
5) locks and keys for him to figure out
6) scissor practice
7) a photo album filled with sight word cards (from Dollarama)
8) Letter maze sheet and bingo dabber
1) Find the Kitten board book
2) number spinner (from number kit/Dollarama)
3) letter tracing in salt with these flash cards
4) pipe cleaners and cut up straws and beads for fine motor practice
5) Count and Color book (from number kit/Dollarama)
6) lacing card
7) Letter Maze sheet
8) Ball with rubber band around it (fine motor practice, inspired by this)
9) Ice Cream Count & Match
10) pom pom sorting with tweezers (sort by size, color, etc).
1) Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star board book
2) Counting flash cards (from Dollarama)
3) lacing card
4) Plastic Egg alphabet match
5) glass bead fine motor practice
6) Cutting Practice
8) Letter maze sheet
1) Baby Beluga board book
2) Rubber bands (left up to his imagination I guess…)
3) Number pipe cleaners
4) Alphabet matching cards (can’t remember where I got these, but free online somewhere)
5) lacing card
6) magnetic numbers (from Dollarama) with baking sheet
7) Letter maze sheet
8) Alphabet spoons
1) addition mat (from number kit at Dollarama)
2) alphabet magnetic letters on baking sheet (from Dollarama)
3) Cutting practice
4) color matching popsicles (made by hot gluing pieces of felt together and I had some colored popsicle sticks)
5) Number sheets with paper clips
6) lacing card
5) Dr. Seuss Board Book
6) Alphabet cards with glass beads (inspired by this)
7) Letter maze
These sheets are in a page protector and he will trace over them with a dry erase marker.
Each week a new number, letter and shape is introduced.
And lastly, I found these pre-K math and reading books at Dollarama. The pages inside are exactly the same as a book I saw at Staples and Wal-Mart, but much cheaper. These were only $1.25 each at Dollarama, and $3.99 at the other stores.
I am also hoping to get Ezra doing a daily journal, he can draw pictures and tell me what they are about and I will write it all down for him. Since Ezra has also been naturally interested in letters, numbers, colors and now even interested in telling the time, I have decided to try doing some reading lessons with him to see whether or not he catches on. We will work on some sight words and also do lessons from Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. He is only 3.5 right now, so if he is interested in that then that’s great, but if it isn’t working out then I’m not putting any pressure on him. He has just been naturally interested in that sort of thing so I thought I’d give it a shot and see how it goes.
There are a few other activities that I am in the process of making for Ezra’s bins, and I hope to make even more as the year goes on so I can swap out activities for him and keep him interested. Both Eva and Ezra were really excited as we prepared the boxes and I was happy to see how these simple activities kept them occupied for so long! I think Eva will be a bit jealous as she watches Ezra play with this stuff while she has to do other work, but it can be motivation for her to complete her work so that she can have a turn too.
I hope you enjoyed taking a peek at our busy bins, I hope to post more about them as I add new activities throughout the year!