Sunday, August 30, 2009

How to Make Your Own Book or Magazine Holder

We have a handful of workbooks that we use for preschool. I was keeping them up in my supply cabinet in the kitchen, but it was impractical since Avlyn couldn't reach them. I saw an idea in Family Fun magazine where a mom turned cereal boxes into book/magazine holders. From the pictures sent in, it looked like she used tape to fold in the edges and left the design the cover of the cereal box. I liked the idea, but wanted to avoid using a bunch of tape and wanted a cuter box.

Project: Homemade workbook holder
Cost: Used supplies we had on hand, but you could factor in that the cereal cost around $2.
Time: Around 30 minutes

Using a large cornflakes box, I started by cutting the the top off the box. Then I traced an angled line from the top corner to the bottom corner and cut off one side of the box I repeated this on the other side, trying to make the sides as equal as possible.
While I was busy cutting and measuring, the kids decorated pieces of white paper with their own creative drawings.

Once the box was cut it looked like this:

I used clear tape to adhere the kids' drawings to the outside of the box, like this:

We now keep our homemade book holder in the center of our dining room table. It turned out quite nicely, and the kids are proud to have their artwork displayed for all to see. It's also a more practical location for Avlyn's school supplies. Not only do we keep her workbooks in it, but we also keep her crayons, colored pencils, glue, and scissors in it. Happy homeschooling!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Teaching Letters with Cereal

I always review during the first month of school by reteaching letters and numbers. When I did a review of the alphabet with Avlyn, I noticed that there were a handful of letters she still struggled to recognize right away. These included: M, R, T, and W. After working with her, I realized that she is confusing M and W, and just needs a little practice with R and T.

I'm starting with M and W since I think she'll pick up R and T rather quickly. We have done coloring sheets, practiced writing M, printed out a letter M book that we read daily, and today we made a cereal M. You can find free letter printables at:DLTK

While I don't recommend wasting food, and know that a lot of homeschoolers are thrifty folks, using cereal or any other familiar food is fun for preschoolers. Not only does working with ceral or macaroni help teach letters, but it also helps with motor skills. If you really have trouble using food for projects, just use the crumbs that collect at the bottom of the cereal box or broken pieces of macaroni. Put the crumbs or pieces in a bowl, and let your child sprinkle them onto the letters. We did this with the little m, as you can see in the picture. You will need white glue for this, as a glue stick just won't adhere the cereal. Happy homeschooling!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Preschool Homeschool Voted One of the Best

Just wanted to say that The Preschool Homeschool was voted one of the best blogs for homeschooling moms by So a big thanks to the folks at for recognizing all the homeschoolers and for giving a great list of resources.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Make Your Own Flower Crown

I am a happy subscriber to Family Fun Magazine, but sometimes I find the activities either too expensive or time-consuming for our family. But I'm challenging myself to find at least one activity out of each issue that is neither expensive, nor too tedious to put together. I plan on doing the activity and blogging about it with step-by-step pictures. Avlyn and I started today with the wildflower crown from August's issue. You can join in this challenge by leaving a comment about any fun project you do that doesn't cost a lot or require a whole day to put together. It doesn't have to be a Family Fun idea.

Cost: none
Time needed: Approximately 1-hour total, but we picked the flowers in the morning and created the crown in the evening.


1. Take a walk and find some sturdy, long-stemmed wildflowers. I'd love to be able to tell you the names of what we used, but I have no idea. We used a couple types of grasses that had fuzzy stuff on the end and then some flowers we found growing along the edge of the national forest we live next to. The grasses have the sturdiest stems, so I used them to get the crown started. After washing them to get rid of bugs, this is what we had:

2. We let the flowers dry while we ran errands. The crown only takes about 10 minutes to put together. Starting with a sturdy long-stemmed flower or grass, hold the stem horizontal. Using another piece, loop it around the first stem and tie a knot. Lay the flower or grass flat and repeat. If you can't tie a knot, just loop the second stem around itself like this:

3. Now repeat the process, holding the stems together while you loop and knot. Once the crown is long enough for your child's head, feel free to go back and loop some smaller stemmed flowers into the crown. That's what we did with some small white flowers Avlyn wanted to add. Tie all the stems together with a loose knot to close. When we were done it looked like this:

While I think this is a great craft to do for together time and helps kids learn the basics of weaving, you could use it for a nature unit or flower unit, too. I have three other projects we're going to try from this same issue. I'm excited to try them and share them with you. Happy homeschooling!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Free Ebooks for Kids

Today is our first official day of school and I'm online printing out some templates to work on the letter M. While I'm busy doing this, Avlyn is busy following along with an E-book from Tumblebooks on my laptop. The Santa Clara City Library offers this program for free from their website. Just click on Tumblebooks in the sidebar and let your child pick a book. Some of the older books just show the illustration, but some of the books are animated and more engaging.

This is a great option for families who live far from a library or don't have a library card. You can find tons of books on here to enhance lessons or just enjoy a little story time. Click on the title of my blog post to get to the site. Happy homeschooling!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Free Handwriting Printables

Preschool is the time to start teaching handwriting. A friend sent me a great file related to the Handwriting Without Tears program that gives ideas for teaching kids how to form letters. If you'd like to try utilizing these letter formation ideas into your curriculum, you can check out the files at

My suggestion for beginning writers is to avoid the structured handwriting tablets frequently sold in stores this time of year. I focus on using the tablet once my child has the basics for each letter down pat. I use a dry erase board and markers to teach letter formation. I prefer starting with a dry erase board and letting them free form their letters by using letters I've written as a guide.

After the Christmas break, when they have all their letter formation and recognition down pat, I move on to the structured writing tablet. I also like the dry erase board because it's just fun. We have a large one that allows us to lie on the floor and write together. Another idea is to buy small dry erase boards and write in your lap. You can even play a game where you call out a letter to draw, hide the board while you're writing the letter and then flip it around to show each other your letter. Kids like this because it has an element of surprise. Happy homeschooling!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

We're Back

Well the family is back from vacation and getting ready for school. My son starts third grade on the 17th, and my daughter will be starting her official year of preschool on that day, too. This week I'm going to blog a little about school preparation and how to prepare for that first week, or at least how we prepare for that first week.

The first step to preparation is organization. I cleaned out the cabinet where I keep all the supplies for learning and fun and took an inventory of anything I needed. A basic list for homeschooling preschoolers includes:

Blunt scissors
Construction paper
Handwriting tablet
Brown lunch bags
Paper plates
Cotton balls
Pipe cleaners
Googly eyes
Coins - fake or real
Counting manipulatives

Not every family will use all of the things I mentioned, and some will need added materials to teach. As you can see, I didn't mention workbooks because I think every family should decide whether or not they want to go the workbook route. I do have a couple workbooks I picked up at yard sales, but most of our activities I print off the Internet or create myself. If you're not sure what to use some of the mentioned materials for, feel free to ask and I'll share some ideas. Happy homeschooling!