ABCs make A+ snacks

Author: Michele / Labels: , , , ,

Well we started our homeschooling year today. I was awakened at 7:30 by a little girl who was super excited to get started on school- namely she wanted to make caramel apples for a snack. One of my goals this year is to involve my girls more in cooking, to instill that love of cooking and to teach them the lessons that are inherent in food preparation: patience, measuring skills, reading a recipe etc...

Since we are starting our year off with A, the snacks we will be making all feature something that starts with the letter A. Two of these I will post on today are Alligator Swamp Water and Caramel Apples. Caramel apples are not usually a major production, except that the girls and I made our own caramel. The recipe is super-easy and very tasty and unlike other caramel recipes this one uses ingredients that are already in your cupboard. I call it 1 Cup Caramels.

One Cup Caramels
1 cup butter or margarine
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 cup Karo syrup
1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
dash salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine all ingredients except vanilla in a sturdy saucepan. Cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally until soft ball stage is reached. On my candy thermometer, to set properly I cook it to 245 degrees F, but the soft ball test, of dropping candy into cold water also is an accurate test. Remove from heat. Add vanilla. If making caramel apples, dip apples in hot caramel. If not, pour caramel into a greased 8x11 or 9x13 pan. Cool completely. I had some large leaf shaped sprinkles from last year and after the apples had sat for a few moments, I let Rachel press leaves onto the caramel for pretty fall apples.

Alligator Swamp Water
Mint chocolate chip ice cream
2 liter bottle of ginger ale, sprite, 7 up or Dr Pepper
Chocolate ice cream topping

Put 1-2 scoops of ice cream in a clear glass. Add soda until foam reaches the top of the glass. Let sit a moment until the ice cream colors the soda. Top floating ice cream with chocolate syrup. Serve immediately.

Baby Abby 3 weeks and a few days

Author: Michele /

Mostly I wanted to see if I could post pictures directly from my phone, which it appears as though I can. But this is my baby, 23 days old. In my opinion she is getting prettier and prettier everyday. I am not biased, I assure you...

Writer's Workshop

Author: Michele /

Found here originally:
I thought it looked fun so I decided to give it a shot...
Choose a prompt, post it on your blog, and come back and sign Mr. Linky. For good comment karma try to comment on the three blogs above your name!!

Things I have learned from my toddler. Parents cannot hear a baby crying two feet away if you do not tell them about it. Uncooked noodles and cat food are delicious. Playdough in the bathtub equals gooey squishy fun. Toys are so much easier to find if they are scattered all over the floor. 15 baths a day is a perfectly acceptable number. Fruit snacks = mana from heaven. If a story is good the first time around it will be amazing the 2 millionth time around, and its best to space those readings as closely together as possible. Any squishy medium is great for finger painting. No one wears shoes unless they are going for a walk or to the park.

Julia's Shapes, Colors and Counting

Author: Michele / Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Links: 5 Little Shapes and 5 Green and Speckled Frogs both came from The flashcards I sent to a friend for her little boy, and forgot to save the website. If anyone knows where they came from please let me know!

I find that flashcards are great for my kids, not so much so I can walk around and drill them on whatever it is we are working on, but so they have something to hold and carry around. Julia will take one to me and ask about it, then take it to her dad, and her sisters then back to me. The reinforcement works very well, and it gives her a special manipulative that is hers to "play with". The set I made her is for basic colors. This site had many more I would have loved to have, so please let me know if you are familiar with it. I saved the file to my computer, but not the address to my favorites.

The shape song is to the tune of Three Blind Mice, and can be found on Shelley's childcareland site, under the freebies. It promotes basic shape recognition and once again provides a manipulative for my daughter to use and move around.

5 Green and Speckled Frogs is a song I learned in pre-k many years ago. My oldest learned it in pre-k as well. The frogs themselves came from Shelley's site, although any clip art of frogs would work. You could also make a glove puppet or finger puppets, depending on your child's interests and learning style. The pattern was for a flannel board, which I do not have at this time. However, as I have shared before, I do have a metal board my husband made me, and so I find that magnets work well for us. As always, everything on here has been reinforced with packing tape, although contact paper or laminating sheets would work as well.

Many people I know do not actually do school work with their younger kids, but instead give them something to keep them out of the way. I find that involving all my girls in school makes things go more smoothly for me, and the little ones are learning more than I would have expected.

At not quite 2 Julia can sing the ABC song, count to 10 on her own, manipulate objects to 10, recognize basic shapes, as well as knowing the words to several nursery rhymes. She is also learning the letters in her name. I do not sit down with her and drill her and make her do schoolwork. But she loves to sing, so we sing, and she loves to count spoons, so we count spoons and she loves to sit on my lap and dictate shape-drawing or letter writing. So we do all those things and I find that she is already gaining a love of learning. When I say it is time to do school, she is often running at the front of the pack to get to the table.

That to me is the beauty of homeschooling.

ABCs, Colors, Shapes, Cats and other School Activities

Author: Michele / Labels:

I am in the midst of preparing for school to start at my house. I had hoped to be all ready and started by Monday, but I seriously overestimated myself. Hey, it happens. So, today and the rest of the week are crack the whip time. Elizabeth will be home Sunday, so we will all start on Monday with school work, which means the rest of this week is time for me to set up our school room, aka my living room.

Rachel will be doing ABCs. I have some file folder games for her, a lapbook, recipes for snacks, an animal book, coloring pages etc... I will be posting as we do each letter. The first one, is of course A. We will have an alligator wall set up, as many of our crafts and science projects involve alligators. We will also be making pinweels for AIR. There are several songs we will be learning and a fingerplay. (All the information for this will be posted online, as soon as I get my pics up). I will post the links for you as well, and if there is anything on here that you are interested in, template-wise, feel free to leave me a message and I can email you what you need. I will also post the snack recipes.

Julia will be learning the 5 Green and Speckled Frog song, complete with magnetic puppets, working on the 5 basic shapes, colors and reinforcing her counting skills. There will be some overlap with Rachel's school work, as her coloring pages lend themselves well to kids Julia's age as well.

Elizabeth will be making a cat lapbook found here. The lapbook Rachel is making is also found through It's a great resource, especially if you are new to lapbooking. She is also learning American History, beginning with the Native Americans. My hope is to have some overlap between the lessons I am using for her and Thanksgiving.

Please note that almost everything I use I find free online, or get the idea from a book I have and go from there. I do not purchase any materials online whatsoever so you will seeing a lot of links on my blog this year (as much of Elizabeth's stuff especially is found online) and they are all to free materials you can print out on your own computer, or download and save. I promise I will get this laid out in an orderly manner so you can find what you are looking for. I will be posting off and on over the next few days, as I get stuff organized and set up.

Getting Back On Track

Author: Michele /

Well, it looks like Elizabeth will be taking a week long vacation with my aunt, so we will commence the school work when she gets home. I started gathering the materials I needed today. I found an entire workbook online for Liz for math, which will at least tell me what concepts she needs to work on and we can go from there. I also found a lapbook for her to do for science, and a great American History website for social studies. Throw in some vocab and a book/reading worksheets from and I think we have her covered. For Rachel we will be focusing mainly on ABCs. My plan is to do one letter a week. I will be using a lapbook for each letter as well as resources and templates from several of my books. The crafts I will probably just spread out among all three girls. For Julia, we will be focusing on counting songs, stories, nursery rhymes etc in addition to the basics like shapes, colors, numbers, etc.

I will, as always be putting up the resources, as I find them and posting pictures for your viewing. I was dreading school starting up again, just due to the amount of work in putting together not only one, but three curriculums, but what I found today is that I am actually very excited to get started. So, we will be gearing up. I may start with Rachel next week, while Elizabeth is gone, but it will depend on how quickly I get her information scanned in to the computer and printed off.

I also need to make a supply run. I have been keeping busy making diapers for Baby and making cloth shopping bags. My kids keep absconding with the bags I make, which is OK since the ones I have been practicing on have Dora the Explorer, Tinker Bell and Cinderella. I also want to get started making some Christmas presents. It will just be a matter of getting into some sort of routine. I am kind of putting any major plans on hold, while I wait to start school.

I would also like to get back into working on my novel, which I have started on the Pheonix Rising blog. It would be nice to carve that time for myself again, at least until Bible Study starts again. But, as always, best laid plans and all of that. LOL. I also need to finish Liz's toucan bookmark. Wow, the more I type, the longer my to-do list gets. I guess I should get off here and actually get busy.

I will have some pics up soon as I start making games and manipulatives for the kids.

Baby Abigail Here!

Author: Michele /

Well, baby Abigail Grace made her grand debut on the world on July 28, 2009, one day after Elizabeth's 6th birthday. She weighed 7lbs 6oz and was 21 inches long. Today is her one week birthday and she is doing great. She is a happy, peaceful baby.

The rest of us are trying to get back to some semblance of order. It will no doubt take us a bit, but the goal is to start school again on a serious note by the beginning of September. I am currently looking for any sites, ideas etc so if you know any let me know. Elizabeth will be in first grade, Rachel will be Pre-K/Kinder and Julia is Pre-K.

Thank you so much to everyone for everything. We will be back to business soon!