Friday, February 26, 2010

Diorama

Diorama.  Been there.  Done that.  Bought the t-shirt.  I'm sure you have.  Have your kids?  My kids ate up this project.  They so loved it.  Here...just look at the pictures.  (Click on any of the images to view them larger.)
I helped Kohen with the mom and child figures for this fantastic work.  I enjoy this off-the-wall book.  It ain't your Mama's storybook.  And yet, it is so Kohen.  Such a sweet book.

Rachel worked on her model of a Junie B. Jones book.  Yes, I know it's a Christmas theme.  She has torn this book apart.  Such a great reader.  I am so proud of her.  Creative artist as well.  Cutie!

Reese got in on the action too.  Her book was about a frog and a tub.  You can see how we used a mandarin orange box for hers.  We ran out of shoe boxes.  The top turned into our frame for the tub.  I don't have finished pictures of her work.  She really enjoyed this project.

This was the frame for the tub.  I cut out the corner squares.  I folded the sides up.  I reinforced the corners with tape.  We then added blue construction paper to the inside to mimic water.

Her first work was this...
 

And then for our last project we used a Kleenex box.  Any box will do.


Inspired?  Do it.  Have fun.  You'll be glad you did.

So much fun,
Melissa

Tortilla Crisps

 

Quick.  Easy.  Delicious.  Passes the test for me.  Snack time hits our house twice a day for five of us.  So, I have to keep on it.  Here's one thing we do.

Tortillas, butter, sugar , and cinnamon.  For my cinnamon and sugar mix that I have stored on hand at all times I use approximately 1:5.  One part cinnamon to five parts sugar.  Mix to your liking.

1) apply a thin layer of butter to a tortilla
2) sprinkle a thin layer of cinnamon and sugar over the tortilla
3) cut into triangles
4) transfer to cookie sheet
5) HI broil for approximately 3 minutes in the high position -- watch carefully
[Or, you can bake at 400* for about 10 minutes.]
6) let cool for a pinch and enjoy

Next time you need a snack, enjoy this fabulously easy treat.

Hungry,
Melissa

I Love My Mom

One of the excellent things about homeschooling is that my kids have the beauty of a lingering, casual, spontaneous, purposeful relationship with my parents.  Both of my mother's parents passed away by the time she was 16.  Her father died when she was four.  Her mother died when she was 16.  I never knew my mother's parents (obviously).

The other day my mom stopped by with donuts.  We continued our study of 1 Corinthians 13, ate donuts, and made memories with Nana.  This truly is a precious piece of homeschooling that I do not take for granted.

Thanks, Mom, for making our homeschool experience so precious and so special.  Thanks for the donuts.  And thanks for coming over.


We love you,
Culver Team

Me Too!

I totally blogged about how great this idea is in this blog here.  But, I just had to share with you how Kohen was able to write a letter to the editor as well.  Enjoy his letter.  And click on the image(s) to enlarge it/them for easier reading.


Humbly,
Melissa

Shoe Knew?

So we had some friends over the other night for dinner.  In our post-dinner conversation we were lamenting the overall design of our homes and the lack of storage space.  My friend then informs me that she uses an in-closet sweater hanging system to house her sheets.  Um, wow!  Thank you for that random piece of organizational wow.  I then remembered the in-closet shoe organizer that was no longer being used in one of our closets.  And yes!  It now houses sheets for my kiddos.  So thank you, dear friend, for that fabulous idea.  I'm liking it.



I'd love to organize my home more.  What do you do?  Share your thoughts here in the comments below.

Humbly,
Melissa

Clutter Doesn't Matter

(Click on image for larger view.)

In this picture you'll notice the articles of clothes drying over the backs of the chairs and the baskets of laundry that need to be folded and put away.  You will notice the Awana books that have not been put where they belong.  Can you spot the VHS tape of the Olympics?  We don't have cable and my parents taped it for us.  Can you see the pliers?  The basketball?  The soccer ball?  And yet, you notice one more thing: a child learning.  I have come to realize...or I am slowly and yet still realizing...that clutter doesn't really matter.  My child's heart for learning will forever rise above the clutter that only matters to me.

Humbly enjoying my clutter,
Melissa

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Tooth

The tooth.  The whole tooth.  And nothing but the tooth.  Not really.  I must admit that it will be nice when her tooth finally does come out.  It has taken her a mighty long time to get to this point.  Loose and poking out.  Her anxiousness has caused her to push on it and play with it like mad.  And that is why the sweet tooth is poking out like a puppy dog from a car window on a beautiful spring day.  Dear friends, I will be excited when her hillbilly tooth comes out.  Yee haw, friends!


(Feel free to click on the image to get a better feel for just how glamorous this hillbilly tooth really is.)
Impatiently,
Melissa

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Some Banana, Please

In our house it's ok to just have a small bit of a banana.  We use a steak knife to cut off the portion someone wants to eat and leave the rest of the banana right there in the fruit bowl.  Hours or days later someone else may come back to that same banana and use a steak knife to slice off the brown end.  And guess what?  The rest of the banana is just perfect!  It's a great way to have a snack that just the right size.  So next time you want just 1/3 of a banana, you can.

Humbly,
Melissa

Socks and Beans

We made our own beanbags.  And here's how we did it.
1) gather some mismatched socks
2) get a bag of beans
3) put about 1 c. of beans in a sock
4) tie end in a knot
5) enjoy


It's just that simple.


Here's Little R tossing her beanbags onto sight words.  I printed sight word cards and I have the kids toss bean bags onto the sight words.  I talked about turning reading into fun in this blog too.  (You can also get a list of sight words in that blog too.  You'll see the link.)

Humbly,
Melissa Culver

Cups, Cups, Cups

Did you know that yogurt cups and applesauce cups are top rack dishwasher safe?  We have stacks of these guys at home.  We use them for so many things.  Here are just some of the ways we use them: serving cups for raisins, serving cups for marshmallows, serving cups for nuts, serving cups for any small foods really, dirt cups for mud in the backyard, water fun in the tub, water cups for painting, indoor sandbox cups -- rice that is, measuring cups for rice, measuring cups for oatmeal, examination cups for science, building and stacking toys, planting seedlings, starting vegetables, growing flowers, cups for tossing marbles, indoor miniature golf course cups -- tipped up against the wall with ping-pong balls.  And the list goes on.  Use your own creativity.  What else can you do with these?

Humbly,
Melissa

Ahhhhh Quietness

 
Have you ever been a fly on the wall of our home?  Silly question.  Forgive me.  Well, if you had answered yes, then you have certainly seen me with these things on from time to time.  When the dryer is going, the dishwasher is going, the piano is going, and the TV are all on at the same time I may just be in need of a short noise break.  So, for brief periods of time I actually put these guys on.  I find a brief period of respite that is needed to gain a fresh perspective.  I pray, finish a clear, uninterrupted thought, and then I take them back off.  I return to the activities of the day a better person.

If you are having a hard time fitting in your prayer time, your verse memorization time, or you find yourself broken and beaten by the constant noise in your home, evaluate your possibilites.  This may be one of them.

Imperfectly,
Melissa

Sidewalk Dust

I learned this from another homeschool family and our family likes it too.  My kids turn sidewalk chalk into paint.  As they draw on the ground a fine powder soon emerges.  To this they add a pinch of water, and then use their paintbrushes to paint the pavement.  In lieu of drawing, they paint.  Or, sometimes they simply paint over what they drew.  Yes, I know you can purchase sidewalk paint.  We've done that too.  But, we like the diversity of this art application.  The kids like mixing the dust colors together and then painting with their newly-created colors.  It's fun.  Next time the sun is out, try this and enjoy!

Humbly,
Melissa

Let It Drip

You may already do this with your ketchup and your salad dressing, but have you ever thought about doing it with your laundry detergent?  I turn my laundry detergent upside down when I'm at the end of the bottle and let the last little bit drip down.  I get a good 16+ loads each year by doing this.

Humbly,
Melissa

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Unexpected

I have learned over and over again that in life you need to expect the unexpected.  I may have a plan.  I may have an agenda.  I may have objectives.  But, at the end of the day I need to work with what I got.  That may mean that I throw out all of my plans.  Or, it could mean that I adjust my sail a bit.  Nonetheless, my attitude must be flexible.  Flexible.  It must be flexible.

I have learned to find humor in more places.  I have found love in the little things.  I am more delighted in flexibility.  It truly isn't about my agenda or my plans.  It's about trusting the magnificence and the awesomeness of His master plan.

Just one example of our unexpected.  Chicken.  Our backyard.  Flexibility.


Humbly,
Melissa

Why Think Outside of the Box?

Sometimes we spend so much time trying to think outside of the box that we forget the simple things that are right around us.  Think 'inside your home'.  Why buy things that you don't have to?  Try free.  I like using Scrabble tiles for phonics.  My kids can take letters and identify them.  They can use them for phonics.  They can blend sounds together.  They can make words.  It's tactile learning.  My kids dig tactile learning.  Anything they can manipulate (examine through touch) is golden.  They love that.

So, try out something inside the home.  And think inside the box.

Humbly,
Melissa

Turning Ordinary into Extraordinary

My son wasn't too interested in reading when we first started out.  He was hesitant and apprehensive.  Knowing that he is a kinesthetic, tactile learner I had to formulate a plan that would encorporate these learning styles.  So, I went to Target and purchased a few sets of ping-pong balls.  On each ball I wrote a sight word.  Here's a link to 300 sight words click here.  I used some of the basic ones on the first 30 balls.  I would then slowly introduce him to some of the words just a few at a time.  We later turned it into a tossing game.  I would set just four balls in front of him.  Then I would say, "Throw 'to' to me.  Throw 'for' to me.  Throw 'this' to me."  He would evaluate the words in front of him and toss me the right ones.  Next, I would have him tell me the words I needed to toss back to him.

It was fun.  It was engaging.  It was visual, audial, tactile, and kinesthetic.  And he loved it.  Is he reading today?  Yes, he is.  And he likes it.

Change boring into fun.  Try something fun today.

Humbly,
Melissa

The Dryer!

Who knew the lint in your lint trap could turn into an art project?  Yes, it can.  If you are studying or plan to study clouds any time soon you can use the dust that you find in the lint trap of the dryer for an art project.  You can leave the patches full and puffy to demonstrate cumulus clouds.  Or, you can stretch the patches and demonstrate cirrus clouds.  Additionally, you can talk about the different hemispheres.  My kids enjoyed this fun art project as we deepened our understanding of the majesty of the heavens.  Try playing with lint.  It's free.

Humbly,
Melissa

Magazine Holder

Do you have a stack of magazines worth keeping?  Don't want to spend money on some gadget to organize them?  Try cereal boxes.  Cut a curve out of each face.  Cut sides where curves match.  And voila!  You can reinforce the slim carboard faces with duct tape, packing tape, contact paper or the like.

Humbly,
Melissa

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Letter Writing

Are you wanting your kids to develop their letter writing skills?  Have 'em write a letter to the editor.  I scanned Rachel's letter and emailed it to the newspaper--my way of saving on postage.  And they printed her letter.  What a sweet opportunity to have your child published.  You can then email the link to your entire family locally and out of town.  Everyone can share in this accomplishment together.  You also expand the reading audience for your child.  A wonderful way to get positive feedback from a wide group of people.
(If you are unable to read the letter just click on the image and it will take you to a larger view of the letter.)
Celebrate writing together.  Write a letter.

Humbly,
Melissa

Mama said there'll be days like this...

 
Remember that song by the Shirelles?
Mama said there'll be days like this,
There'll be days like this my Mama said
(Mama said, mama said)
Mama said there'll be days like this,
There'll be days like this my Mama said
(Mama said, mama said)
I don't care who you are, you're sooner or later gonna have a day like this.  Or two.  Or three.  Or fifty.  And that's ok.  It's sobering for me to have a day like this.  I am far more compassionate with my children when they have a day like this after I have had one.  As much as I want to get to the root of it, sometimes you just can't explain it out logically.  Slept well?  Eating right?  Bowel movement?  Teething?  You can pan the horizon of possibilities all day and never put your finger on it.  And that's ok.  Just roll with it.  Love 'em through it.  Discipline firmly and swiftly where necessary.  And remember you too have had days like this....my Mama said.

Ever had a day like this?  Add your comments below.

Humbly,
Melissa

Old Pig

Old Pig by Margaret Wild tackles the issue of death in such a sweet and beautiful way.  If your family will soon be tacking this issue at home, or you just did I recommend this read.  It's a great platform for questions.  Or, you can then talk about personal losses that you encountered when you were growing up.  Very well done.  A sobering book.  Pick it up at your local library.  Explore conversation on this.

Humbly,
Melissa

We'll grow grass later

I heard a story a bit ago about a man, a woman, and their boys.  The woman came into the house frantically declaring, "George the boys are ruining the grass!  It was just manicured.  The edges are nice.  They're playing football all over it.  I'm just heartbroken over how it will look when they are done.  Can't you do something about it?  George, please."

And his response was this, "Dear, we will only have our boys a short time before they grow into men and move out.  Let's grow boys now.  Let's grow grass later."

And so it is with my home.

Humbly,
Melissa