I can't believe it is already September! Where did the summer go?? We had a crazy, but fantastic summer, and I'm getting excited to jump back into a school routine again. Now that we will be starting "school" again soon, I want to also get back into blogging occasionally. The first thing I want to share is some of my favorite websites. These are sites I go to all the time, and have been a huge inspiration to me. I use ideas and free printables from these sites constantly, and I thought others may enjoy checking them out too. These sites will be most applicable to people who have children in the 2 to 7 year old range. So in no particular order, here are some of my favs!
No Time for Flashcards
I LOVE LOVE LOVE this site! There are tons and tons of crafts, ideas for hands on play, and great book suggestions. They are organized by topic or theme and are often the perfect compliment to any unit study we are doing. I am not a crafty person, so to have a resource of hundreds of simple crafts to do with kids is a huge help to me. All the crafts are simple, and use materials that are easy to find, and often readily available in your home. The crafts are also adaptable to many ages, which is a huge help for any homeschooling family.
Carissa, the mom who is the author of this site is amazing. She homeschools her three children, and has an overwhelming number of printables that are free, or bundle packages you can buy for a very low cost. There are great ideas for what she calls "Tot School", which is hands on learning activities for young children. She has a whole program she developed called Raising Rockstars Preschool that is fantastic! It is simple program where you focus on one letter a week, learn a Bible verse, and song. This would be a great introduction to children just learning their letters. There so many ideas and things to print out that you will just have to check it out for yourself.
Here is another great Christian, homeschooling mom, with tons of ideas. I particularly like all her themed printable packs. If you are doing any books from "Before 5 In A Row" you have to check out her free packets and ideas to accompany the stories!
Confessionsof a Homeschooler
Yet another wonderful site! Erica, the homeschooling mom who is the author of this blog, also has developed her own preschool curriculum and early kindergarten curriculum. While I haven't used the whole curriculum, I've used many of her letter printables and ideas when Naomi was learning her letters. I also really like some of her math pages that you can print off for free. There are some wonderful kindergarten printables too, all free! Erica has ideas and some printables for older children as well. For moms there are lots of practical tips about organization, meal planning, ect!
The Moffatt Girls - Ready2Read
This is not a blog I have followed closely, however I think the Ready2Read program Annie Moffatt has developed is excellent. If your child knows all their letters and corresponding sounds, this might just be the program for you! I really like that it combines using word families (phonics) with sight words. Each unit covers two word families (hat, bat, cat, rat, ect) and a list of sight words (the, see, and to, ect). If your child is ready to start blending letters into words this may be a great place to start. With each little unit there are two mini books you can print off, so your child is reading a book on their own right away! This could be a complete program on its own, or perfectly supplemented with the "Explode the Code" series. There is a cost for the program, but it is minimal, especially considering the many more expensive options out there. The only thing that some families might not love is that the graphics are a little feminine. This might not be any concern if you opted out on some of the coloring activities.
This site is for you if you have all ages of children, and not just young ones like me! There are book unit study ideas, resources to go with the "Before Five In A Row" series, and my favorite, lots and lots of lapbook ideas and printables!
What IS Pinterest? Pinterest is a virtual pinboard (think coark board) where you can store and organize links to the sites you find online. As I started surfing the web more and more, I found wonderful ideas, but didn't have a way of keeping track of all the links, and often forgot where I had found things. This was especially true for ideas I wanted to do in the future. Pinterest changed all that for me! I organize my "boards" by theme unit category, so as I am surfing the web, and stumble across something I'd like to do for Easter I "pin" or save the link to my Easter board on Pinterest. That way, when Easter comes around, I have tons of great ideas that I would have forgotten about otherwise! You can also follow people on Pinterest, see what types of things they are pinning to their boards, and copy it to yours if it's something you like! I follow all of the bloggers I mentioned above, and have come across zillions of great finds that way. To see the main Pinterest page, click above. To see my personal page, and some of my finds, click here. Beware, I found this very addicting when I first started!!! :-)
This site has nothing to do with homeschooling, but is all about organizing your home, your time, routines, cleaning tips, and meal planning ideas. When I first stopped teaching to be a stay at home mom, I went to this site daily. It really is the basis of how I organize my day, clean my house, and plan our family meals. Of course I adapted it to work for me, but it really does have some great ideas. Check it out if you want to be inspired to finally organize that overflowing closet, or dig through the piles that have accumulated on the steps in your foyer!
There you have some of my favorite sites! My husband Jim has really inspired me throughout our marriage to use the Internet as a tool, and not just a time waster. Now I find so many great ideas, and have been completely inspired by some of these amazing bloggers. Hopefully you can find some of that inspiration too!
As a side note, don't be overwhelmed by all you see out there. I was at first. Don't waste time comparing what you're doing to what others are doing. Find just one idea that you think you would enjoy doing with your children and go from there. Ideas tend to build on each other, so start with something small and enjoy the ride.