Said in the same fashion as “Confidently beautiful with a heart, “(Remember, Miss Universe 2016? Filipina Pia Wurzbach?”, I sort of coined this phrase during the recent homeschooling workshop on Multilevel Homeschooling as I wrapped up. Yes, homeschooling on its own is overwhelming. What more Multilevel Homeschooling?
However, after sharing success stories, “pick up and stand up again from failure” moments, and tried and tested strategies for homeschooling several kids that differ in so many facets, I said, “Yes, be positively overwhelmed. “
Stress we all know may be positive, negative or even neutral. So in a sense, the key, in multilevel homeschooling, is to face stress as inevitable but taking all the possible positives from it. Veteran homeschooler and my “ate” Felichi Buizon says that, “Life in general is a series of interruptions.” And since homeschoolng is life, then expect, embrace and roll with them . Don’t get us wrong. It isn’t having a pessimistic, bleak outlook or having a new mantra ala Murphy’s law, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” Rather, it is expecting , stress, interruptions, and a whole gamut of things that are out of our control as teachers/ parents, and find ways to positively turn these experiences to benefit most, if not all.
We’ve just wrapped up our 4th quarter of SY 2016-17 and we are down to the our last homeschooled son at Level 5. One more year? Maybe two? Oh wow, who would have thought, 15 years would come by as it did.
A few days ago, I was delighted to see our Guava Tree back in full bloom and ready to bear fruit. I was in awe. It was just a several months ago that I posted an image of luscious green guavas with a crunchy outside and bright pink, sweet tasting inside Guava fruits, leaves and trees are very much part of the growing years of my side of the family. We climbed its branches, hung from it like Tarzan as we jumped into a pool, ate its fruits for snacks and yes, even boiled its leaves for wounds and skin infections.
However, I noticed, after bearing fruits, parts of the tree began to decline. Leaves were drying and shriveling up, the branches looked ill and the last few fruits didn’t anymore taste as good. I thought that was the beginning of the end of “reliving” our childhood days in our Antipolo residential farm.
Some who saw the tree said, “It may die soon like the langka tree beside it.”
But a few days ago I was in shock, as I peeked out of my window, lush and green leaves blended with bees feasting on the countless flowers! Our lessons in Botany came in full swing again. The bees would play a crucial role in pollination in order to produce seeds and fruits!
How does a tree heal? How did our guava tree heal? With proper conditions of sunlight, lots of rain lately, and yes, the presence of helper birds and flying insects, it looks like our tree will yield fruits again. This whole idea made me think and smile.
We often find ourselves in situations whether as wives, mothers, sisters, aunts,daughters or friends, where we have done everything within our control to try to solve a problem. The problem however lingers. The self preserving nature in us just wants distress, discomfort and pain out of the door as fast as possible. But there is no clear answer ahead, there is no light visible in our the “tunnels” of our lives. And so we do what we all hate to do, wait.
The happy bees reminded me that waiting can bear fruit when that is what our dear Father in Heaven is asking us to do, to wait and trust. Waiting hones character and builds up faith.
I remember one mom sharing in a seminar that she fears her homeschooling experience with her preschool daughter has gone really sour and it’s time to click “restart”. Sometimes, all it takes is probably saying sorry to our loved ones to see the beauty in “restarting”. On other occasions, it may mean, letting go of the “self inflicted” pressures we put into our homeschooling days that put our relationships with our students in jeopardy. In the rush, we all need to take a few steps back to see really where we are going and to check what areas in our lives really need a restart. And when we have put in place the elements for a good restart, many times, we just have to wait and let new memories with our children replace the hurtful ones, and like the guava tree, we just grow together and for sure, the tree will be fruitful again.
Prayerfully waiting in some way is similar to what happened to our tree. Nature and time just took its course and eventually healing and blooming set it. It’s toughest to wait and “do nothing.” I’ve once read that “Praying” is not doing “nothing”. We seem to always have the tendency to believe that many of our stressing about can actually change, heal, restore, solve problems but we do need to know when Someone is asking us to just wait and let go. Then one day, the blooming and bearing fruits will happen again.
I so needed that learning that day. And I am sharing it with it you. It’s fascinating how Jesus Himself looked at nature to explain foundational lessons in life in Matthew 6:28-30, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life. And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendorwas dressed like one of these.If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?” That morning, I knew it was Him who was saying , “Look at the guava tree, Donna, Look at it everyday .” (and while your at it, “Bee grateful” for those who have come alongside in the painful process of waiting).
Matthew 6: 31 – 34 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Gino is about to complete his reader for this month, Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. This will be my 4th time to read and discuss this material in maybe 10 years as it has been an a required reader for all of our 4 children.
For some readers, I began using some accompany workbooks or supplements to help “maximize” the learning experience. I have used the Total Language Plus (TLP) series for other titles like Charlotte’s Web, The Cricket in Times Square, The Wheel on the School, Lion, Witch & the Wardrobe, Christmas Stories, Twenty One Balloons, Where the Red Fern Grows, Courage of Sarah Noble, The Whipping Boy and after using Total Language Plus several times, I started doing my own DIY version of book review lessons/ extensions of Reading via notebook activities. For non TLP titles, I just either created exercises and reading comprehension questions in notebooks or downloaded study guides or activities.
“Shiloh” is a fairly easy read for levels 3-5 with some guidance on some “slang” or even colloquial terms. It deals with a very familiar, close to home “kiddie” subject: “a beloved animal/ pet that needs to be saved.” Both boys and girls will easily get hooked with the suspense and captivating plot.
Set in an Appalachian town of West Virginia, devoid of all digital modernities children are so accustomed with nowadays, Marty and all the other characters become a part of very thought provoking, interesting yet unsettling plot. The twists and turns are exciting and you would not be surprised if your child asks to read more than the assigned chapter for the day!
I appreciate the ways in which this story will allow your children to think through their motivations, their plans, and decision. It will give you a springboard to teach valuable moral lessons on honesty and integrity, righteousness, respect and honor.
It will provide the venue for you and your students to dig deeper on the areas of compromise, rationalization and justification and of the questionable belief that “the end justifies the means. ”
In this world of uncertainties, where the boundaries of right and wrong can be made to appear blurry, this material is truly spot on in challenging our children to think and reflect.
The book costs about Php 290.00 from National Book Store or Fully Booked. Truly worth every peso! Every chapter is overflowing with opportunities for deep reflection and pondering. Your children can easily draw valuable insights from the situations presented in the the story!
To create lesson extenders, or to help you have a richer experience of the story, you can download good study guides on it by just googling the key words : Study Guide on Shiloh, Reading Comprehension Questions for Shiloh, Lesson Plans for Shiloh. I particularly liked this one and we’re completing it this May 2017.
My daughter who loves to draw, paint and do Arts and Crafts painted her own version of “Shiloh” when she read the same story several years back.
So, I encourage you to give this book a try. It may hook you to the habit of having good and well thought of discussions with your students!
James 1:22- 25 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
I first came across the “mentoring” idea when I was part of our youth group in Christ’s Commission Fellowship in the late 1980s. It was through the verse: 2 Timothy 2:2 You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.
For some reason, it was ingrained in my mind that we need to be constantly passing on what we have received to continue the cycle of blessing. From teaching Sunday School and and leading a teen care group, to volunteering in a creche when we were assigned in the UK, from hosting couples Bible study groups to beginning the MILK (Mothers of Infants and Little Kids) with my bff Candy when we were young mothers, I just happily received and passed on.
When I would feel inadequate or unworthy, I would remember, another verse from Paul to Timothy in 1 Timothy 4: 14 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. I rested in the fact that I didn’t have to reach some sort of gold standard in order to start teaching others but I I was simply a vessel to pass blessings and always, always point to the Great Provider of blessings. Focus on the Giver they say, never the gifts. Point to Him, never to yourself.
Parenting, however, is a daunting, close to impossible task. And when you are asked to share about raising children, you have this nagging and crippling feeling that you can never start preaching when the products of your own “parenting ” journey have not been tested. But then , the call is to pass on what you have learned. Paul didn’t say, perfect the skill first, memorize the principles and produce awesome children then start teaching others. Just pass what you have learned from God in the most real, authentic and transparent way.
I found some solace and peace in an Apologia textbook entitled “Who Am I?” the 2nd of their What We Believe Series. They reiterated the call for parents, the call to faithfulness to what God was calling us to do as fathers and mothers to our children. The business of transforming hearts of our children is God’s, not ours. The same principle applies for all relationships, we cannot change people. We can simply help with ingredients needed for growth but I firmly believe, it is God who causes growth or change. What a liberating thought!
Eventually this passing on nature found its way to homeschooling as I began opening our doors to teaching and mentoring others. As we released one teen after another to regular schooling, (we’re now down to one tween). I had found more time to actually share what I had learned from our own homeschooling journey through this social media, some interviews, and eventually to seminars and conferences.
The last 6 months opened a whole lot of doors to come alongside homeschoolers and parents in the homeschooling/parenting journey and it’s been a great ride. Let me post a sort of timeline here:
Nov 2016: with support of Phoenix Educational Systems, I spoke on “Raising Creative Learners”
Dec 2016: with Sunlife and Businessworks, Inc, we mounted the “Building Blocks of Homeschooling”seminar. It was really memorable doing this with my family: brother Anthony and sisters, Felichi and Maricel!
February 2017: CCF “Chosen, A Retreat for Mothers” at the Makiling Retreat and Training Center.
Here speaking to mothers on, “Becoming Mothers After God’s Own Heart”
February 2017: Educating for Life’s Flavor of Homeschooling at, “The Study” by Enderun in Podium. This was a workshop on Unit Studies. I met another bunch of the sweetest and most dedicated mothers ever!
I finally took on something that I’ve been wanting to do for several years now. I wanted to run a small, mentoring class on homeschooling. Though big, high impact conferences may have its place in moving homeschool forward and creating real ‘homeschool” noise, nothing beats the connection , the laid back, relaxed set up and lots of interaction which a small group can offer. So with the encouragement of Ms. Arlene Sy and with help of some friends, and Gino, my working student-seminar assistant, we pulled of the first of hopefully a continuing and evolving Homeschool Mentoring Series with 2 sessions in Alabang. Our topics were: How to Start Your Homeschool Journey and Multilevel Homeschooling.
Again, these two groups floored me with their commitment, friendliness and warmth!
As mentioned several times in past posts, I do volunteer work with Visions of Hope Foundation. And by God’s awesome orchestration, when the poor children we work with needed to be home educated in home care facilities several years ago, I was at the right place at the right time. They needed a homeschooler! And I was willing and available. It has been several years now that we had been training and providing material for preschool teachers in the poorest preschools of our country where Visions of Hope foundation operates. Recently, I had the chance to spend 3 days with another set of passionate and committed teachers (and mothers): the Visions of Hope Christian School teachers of Malungon, General Santos and Palawan . In June 2017, the Visions of Hope Christian School in Malungon, Saranggani will be opening its doors to around 130 students with a new building and new, somewhat homeschool inspired curriculum!!!! This, for me, is a kind of “passing on'” that I never really envisioned. It is amazing indeed when you just make yourself available for God’s work. Visions of Hope Foundation sees every child as a vision of hope. If you are led, to “pass on” in whatever, way, shape or form, do check our website and, volunteer and give.
And so, the “passing on” continues and may I invite you to any of these coming seminars:
May 11 & 12 , 2017:
May 25 & June 1:
Hope to see you in any of these above mentioned events! And for those who have been a able to learn a thing or two in any of the recent seminars I have conducted, please continue to pass on the learnings and yes, do give me feedback on how we can improve further through firstname.lastname@example.org.
Titus 3:5 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.4 Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children,5 to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.
After 15+ years of homeschooling, we’ve probably had 30x of major decluttering of homeschool materials, books, supplies and yes, even toys. I’ve passed on many of our favorite story and reference books to younger cousins but I’ve kept my all time favorites because the children, though a bit older now, still love looking at many of these timeless pieces and I guess, I still use several of them with my last homeschooled son at level 5.
But there are indeed timeless pieces which I want to keep in a room with a rocking chair and a rug! Can you picture what I am envisioning? God willing, I will one day become more than just Tita Donna welcoming little and grown up nieces and nephews in my home with their favorite chocolate chip cookies. For the little ones, I sometimes read them a book, do some arts and crafts or homeschool a bit here and there. God willing, I will be, hopefully be a cool, endearing and warm grandmother with the best books and toys in her house!
Though not arranged in level of importance, here are my top favorite printed material: reference books, storybooks, and chapter books!
For the Study of God’s Word and Character Education:
2. Stories we just kept reading night after night for maybe close to a decade and our favorite Read-A-Louds!
All Time Favorite Read A louds:
My Father’s Dragon
Mrs. Piggle Wiggle series
Five Dog Stories
Number the Stars
The Tale of Despereaux
Mr. Popper’s Penguins
Christian Heroes Then and Now Series
Mystery of History and Apologia What We Believe Stories
and many others!
3. Nothing beats Apologia Science Resource Textbooks – These are written as Read-A-Loud material with easy to apply Science experiments doable at home!
4. To keep the Filipino culture, history and language alive in a practical and relevant way.
I supplement these Adarna History Story books above with my own Read A Loud Style ( or assign chapters for reading for the independent student) using the following and my student’s own Social Studies textbook. So I do read ahead sometimes so I can read the historical texts like a story!
Here are our well loved story books from Adarna/Hiyas Publishishers
Health, Science and Filipino Language (and culture) for the win, from Hiyas! Available in OMF Bookshops.
6. World History
a. The Mystery of History series
b. The Story of the World Series
7. How I became the kid’s first Art and Music Teacher
If you’d like to start an art series with your preschoolers, try this series on this blog. Just use the search bar and type Art, colors, lines and shapes and you’ll see a whole lot of Art Lessons you can do at home!
8. Various Reference Books!
Though online materials are truly award-winning, engaging and cost-efficient, we prefer to have a library of quality materials. With four children, nephews and nieces, even using them as guides in teaching others how to homeschool, and probably grandkids in the future, I truly believe that costs both in time and money (endless searching for good deals, discounts, sharing balikbayan boxes with others, purchasing some in installment), were all super worth it.I am sure some books in our library which were not mentioned for this first blog post of favorite materials feel bad! (“We were not featured yet we taught them so much!!!” said the unmentioned books.) I will add and edit along the way but these are the ones that came to mind instantly! For Math, we’ve been Mathusee users for more than a decade and supplement a bit here and there with other approaches like Singapore Math or Simpao Math (Hahaha! The practical way of applying Math I guess!).
I shared these materials to give you a picture of what to look for in reading materials to purchase! You may come up with a totally different set of titles and that’s surely OK! I guess the best gauge for good quality materials would be how often they are used, the memorable experiences they bring and the in depth learning they provide.
“Without libraries what have we? We have no past and no future.” -Ray Bradbury
We super love the Mystery of History series and are now on our 3rd volume after maybe 7 years of being introduced to this material.
The other day, my 11-year old student and I learned about philosopher and political theorist, John Locke.
“The English philosopher and political theorist John Locke (1632-1704) laid much of the groundwork for the Enlightenment and made central contributions to the development of liberalism. Trained in medicine, he was a key advocate of the empirical approaches of the Scientific Revolution. In his “Essay Concerning Human Understanding,” he advanced a theory of the self as a blank page, with knowledge and identity arising only from accumulated experience.His political theory of government by the consent of the governed as a means to protect “life, liberty and estate” deeply influenced the United States’ founding documents. His essays on religious tolerance provided an early model for the separation of church and state.” (www.history.com)
How then do you bring this closer to a 11 year old’s mind? How do you explain the concept of “tabula rasa“, the state of being brought into this world with blank slates/ minds, without any mental content and that all knowledge come from actual experience??? Did we totally agree with it?
Light Bulb Moment!!!!! (pun not intended, you’ll realize in a while) One of the beautiful things with being able to see your children grow 24/7 from infancy to school age years lies in seeing all the moments you can always look back to, laugh about, ponder on and just “bond” endlessly through shared memories. So this is how I drove this seeming “high and mighty” big concept closer to home for my son.
Mama Donna: Gino, remember when you touched a lit light bulb (Mama’s bedside lamp, now there’s the pun!!) and burned your little finger ? And you cried so hard?
Gino (chuckling) : Yes (laughing now).
Mama Donna: Well, like this argument of John Locke, you can say you had a blank knowledge about the fact that light emits heat and therefore a lit bulb is hot and dangerous to touch. Without that knowledge, you went ahead and burned yourself. And as John Locke says, you have learned something new by this experience (that act of touching it and burning your finger) and will most likely not do it ever again, right?
By this point, I know, because of something so “close to home: an unforgettable and painful experience” for my son, I knew I got his attention.
I then proceeded to challenge him to think by citing the argument that though you learn through experience, there are absolute truths in life. There are truths that you do not need to experience in order to learn the lesson or the principle. (Can you know imagine where this conversation can lead to? I can talk all day, Gino, but I controlled myself.)
For Christian families, absolute truth comes from the Word of God. The commands laid out, we believe, are there for our own protection, given by our loving Creator. In faith, we believe in that. We do not need to experience theft, or slander, to know that it is wrong. We do not need to kill in order to know that murder is evil.
Scientific truths like gravity, concept of time (day and night), the Earth’s rotation and revolution are absolutes. No one can argue those things. And yes, Gino, light energy also emits heat. Mama is truly sorry that I was not able to teach that earlier on so you could have prevented that burning incident. Experience then taught you big time and you will probably never repeat the same action, but then if I had told you the truth that lit light bulbs are hot to touch, you probably would have not touched it in the first place, right ( or curiosity can actually sometimes confuse things, or you may not believe Mama and try it out yourself )?
This seemingly simple 10 minute conversation with my son during homeschool time was precious. I know we both got thinking on how life and lessons merge and how basic principles in the course of our study can make one stop and think and wonder, and yes relate what you’ve just read to many other areas of your life. AND, THIS. IS. WHY. WE. LOVE. HOMESCHOOLING. AND .WHY. IT. ROCKS!
Deuteronomy 6:7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
I love Science. I think that is one of the reasons why I love homeschooling. I want to spread how cool Science is and how we always find ourselves in awe of our amazing Creator of all living things that make up the bulk of Science!
One of the reasons why I ended up completing Medical School was to really to master the human body. It’s simply the most spectacular, awe-inspiring creation of our Good Lord!
This is my 4th leg in teaching Anatomy and I don’t tire really ! So let me share with you our exciting unit study on SKIN (The Integumentary System) .
I usually begin a lesson with stating the relevance of the lesson. I try to captivate the interest and curiosity of my students with unique facts or practical applications where the lesson may be applied. So for the skin, I say, ” Do you know that the skin is the largest organ in our bodies? ” or I may make them think with, ” Can you imagine if skin wounds do not heal? ”
Parts of the Unit Study:
Students need to know the basic parts of the skin. You may opt to watch a video, download a skin template to fill or make your own representation of the skin as shown below. Focus on learning how the skin works and the functions of the part of different parts.
You may , if the student is interested and not easily grossed out, show basic conditions of the skin like rashes, pimples, dryness, allergies or eczema. My Xmen loving son was quite interested when I told him that Hugh Jackman suffers from recurrent melanoma, aka skin cancer.
Try to explain also what gives skin their color and you may push the lesson further if you’d like to discuss the various issues that concern skin color.
2. Fingerprints are determined by the patterns on the skin surface of the skin. It would be noteworthy to look at various patterns of fingerprints. As an activity, have all members of the household and maybe even some neighbors, put their thumbprint on a piece of paper and label with the corresponding name of the owner of the print. Compare the various patterns on one’s skin.
Here is an activity I borrowed from wikihow. It is a fun activity! Be detectives for the day by “finding fingerprints in a crime scene.” You’ll need powder, make up brush , finger prints on glass materials (on a glass slide, on a glass, mirror or magnifying class) scotch tape .
3. For older students, introduce news articles that make the lesson . Introduce the study of Forensics.
4. Art may be extended by doing thumbprint creations with variety of colored stamp pads.
5. Using pork meat (with skin), pretend to be plastic surgeons of the day in repairing a laceration .
Giving local anesthesia!
Don’t forget to bandage!
This was fun, and I guarantee 100% depth and mastery. For the win, right? Have a go then?
So there, hope you enjoyed our more than skin deep Unit Study on the Skin!
1 Samuel 16:7 “But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
Steps on How to Celebrate National Homeschool Day 2017 1. Check out www.hapi.ph for various announcements regarding this day. There is an ongoing video contest that ends tonight, 12 AM! The prizes are awesome.
2. From the map below, decide if you will join any of the groups as mapped out in the Philippine Map. Check out the Homeschoolers of the Philippines (HOP) FB Page and type your area in search bar (the general areas are Quezon City, Pasig, Taguig, Makati, Paranaque, Muntinlupa, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal (Antipolo), Cebu and Davao. Read the post about these meet ups and contact the person in charge or visit the FB page they’ve set up for this specific Homeschool Day Meet Up.
3. Bring packed lunch if the place you plan to go will not offer food, and bring money since some meet ups will have some “2nd hand sale” of sorts. Some meet ups may have to charge to cover for venue cost, aircon and sound system.
4. Bring the whole family and leave the gadgets at home (no IPADs, phones must be kept!)!
5. Have a cheerful, open, ready to mingle mind. Who knows if support groups or coops may be born out of this day?
6. If you plan to celebrate at home, or with a few families, don’t homeschool academic subjects and maybe just create a fun unit on homeschooling. Maybe it would be a good time to talk about how you guys are doing, get feedback and ponder on this year’s theme: “Building Up the Philippines, One Family at a Time”. Try to discuss why homeschooling can help in nation building ( that’s if your kids are old enough). Have fun (if only Homeschool Association of the Philippine Island HAPI can declare is a no homeschooling day). Do something different and check out what everyone else is doing by checking the different Philippine based Homeschool FB groups. Check out IG @wearehapi or #HAPIDAY2017.
7. You may also gather your other homeschooling families to avail of the hart to resist promo of Kidzania Manila. Check out their promo!
8. If you want to share any of the photos or videos of your celebration, please use the hashtag #HAPIDAY2017.
At this very moment, my 11 year old son and I are preparing for Pasig’s gathering at Valle Verde Gym 5. He is assisting in preparing for tomorrow and that is how we are homeschooling today! I will create a post for the Pasig Celebration. 🙂
Children love to hear stories. You can tell stories about your own childhood and how it was like growing up. It’s a good chance for the kids to get to know the younger you. You can use simple story books. Don’t be afraid to be animated and to act out the story. Just imagine you are the child and you’ll know how to read the story well! Oh, don’t do it perfectly or else, you’ll have to do that again and again for many, many bedtime nights!I have to say that this experience has been one of our ( my hubby Gilbert and myself) most favorite times with our children! And countless stories, relayed again and again, have bonded us indeed for life!
As they got older, I began to use chapter books which was read one chapter at a time.
2. Pretend Play
No wonder places like Kidzania are a hit! Smaller children love doing pretend play. They become “kings” as they pretend and they can out their imagination and enjoy. So create scenarios! Sometimes it could be as simple as pretend conversations but on other days, do the works and go all out with props and costumes !
Act out favorite stories! You may also include popular Bible Stories with important character lessons.
4. Messy Time !
For many years, “Mess” seemed like our 5th child. It went wherever we went. Oh, but we had so much fun with all the mess. We always had regular play dough time ( dough was either home made or store bought) We would create stories out of our creations or make play food and pretend we were in a restaurant. Or toys can actually have a party, play dough with plastic animals was always a winner.
I also made sure we had good quality, washable tempera or poster paint, brushes, sponges, mixing plates or palettes and all kinds of painting surfaces. Aprons were easy reach.
Involve your children in clean up. My kids loved cleaning paint brushes and they were thrilled to see how all the colors mixed! They also enjoyed using sponges with lots of foamy cleaning soap !
5. Water Play
This can be done using a water table or a giant basin on top of a toddler or preschool level table. Or it may be done during bath time. Just provide all sorts of water containers and gadgets (plastic pails, measuring cups, squirt bottles, water gun, watering cans, 50 or 15 ml syringes ( without needles, ok?) Some stores sell ” water toys” like a water and sand mill . Give the kids a treat by adding drops of water color to your water.
You may even disguise this time as a s fun ” cleaning time” where kids wash their toys or even shoes.
6. Sand Box Time
If we lived in countries where play sand is easily accessible, we can really maximize “sand play”. Returning home from a 2 year stay in London, I packed a bag or two of play sand for our two toddlers. This water and sand table from Early Learning Center London could be used for either water and water toys or sand and sand toys. It was our gift to our son who turned 1 year old. It was so useful for us as 3 more kids used it as well.
In Manila, we purchased a giant crab sandbox with cover and had a whole lot of “sand play” in our earlier homeschool experiences. We would recreate scenes like farm life with plastic animals and plants. Even use a small basin as a pond! Or we would create a “beach scene” with water animals.
7. Wooden Blocks/ Wooden Train Time
Wooden blocks, trains and tracks offer limitless possibilities. From building a castle or a fort , to using the blocks/connecting tracks to create a whole town; toys that can be used and reused, created and recreated are simply the best toys.
8. Kitchen Time: Cooking/ Baking
Toddlers or preschoolers can be able to help with simple baking or cooking duties like mixing, breaking the egg, measuring some simple ingredients, forming cookies using a mold or cookie cutter. For cooking, preschoolers can cut simple vegetables or fruits. They can help tossing the ingredients into the recipe.
9. Dance & Movement
Just go ahead and do it. Play some dance music and let loose. Carry them, or twirl them and just have lots of fun. Do some relays!
10. Go Outdoors.
Take a nature walk. Go out into the rain! Visit the park. Fly a kite. Catch an insect. Go to an open field, set up a picnic and run around on a cool and windy day.
Oh, this post made me really look back with both a smile in my face and an ache in my heart. The toddler and preschool years were really one of a kind and may you make the most of this season as you think of activities to bond. Hope this list helps!
It all began with kidding my youngest about the times I would sing to him as a toddler before he slept and he would blurt out, “Sing, Mama, Sing!” when I would abruptly stop singing as I myself drifted to sleep. We then started remembering many more moments or should I say, predicaments, where I think I needed rescue. There were days, these moments became what I would often call, “Get me out of here” situations!
It’s quite ironical that what used to bring us exasperation when our older kids were much. much younger are the very moments we now sorely miss.
Let me try if we share the same list:
The Dreaded Shampoo in the Eyes situation
Bathing is usually fun especially when you use a bath tub or a giant basin. We always had water toys and lots of bubbles which the kids would pretend was hot coffee or cocoa with frothed milk. But it was tricky when it was shampoo time. “Not in my eyes, not in my eyes!” would often be their battle cry. I think we even contemplated on buying that plastic visor contraption to prevent soap suds from getting into the face. But day after day, that was stressful until the day they overcame the fear !
2. “Read stories?”
Oh, I remember our eldest always had 5 or more storybooks in tow during bedtime and would beg with his chubbiest smile, “Read stories? “. How could you resist? How could you resist the nth book he requests no matter how tired you were?
3. The Handprints on the Windows and Mirrors–
Chubby hands, small feet, peanut M&M or Dippin’ Dot toes… I don’t see stains anymore and it does make one sad.
4. The Fear of Medicine (white one, pink one, orange one)
Remember the stress of coercing, bribing them and practically ramming dreadful medicine down their throats by hook or by crook? I remember having to pray with them before swallowing the feared paracetamol or some yucky antibiotic. Or having to get the other siblings to rally as cheerleaders when it was time for medicine intake.
5. Nap Time Battles
Whether it be struggling to stay awake waiting for the little one to doze or the little one waking up the moment you put them down from being carried, the sleep sergeant in me would often find myself napping with them out of fatigue from the whole process of putting them to sleep. So some may say, nap when the baby naps but others find the nap times as “me time” to do other things. Oh, naps!!!!
6. The Loooooonnnnng Prayers
At bedtime, one son got used to praying against all his fears. So the list was long and he did it every night for years. Oh yes, you name it, he prayed against it! Volcanic eruption, earthquake, storms, bad guys, scorpions, snakes, and even tarantulas!
7. The Clingy State
There was an afternoon that I had to leave my son and so before he napped, he said, “ Mama, I want my nap to be so long so when I wake up, you’re here na.” How could your heart not melt with that? But of course there were days when we gathered with other homeschooling families and one child would not leave my side to play with all the other children. I envied the other moms who had more independent and less clingy children. But now that they are all not clingy anymore, you wonder why you rushed them to learn to be on their own????
8. Car Seat/ Stroller Struggle
Having live abroad without a full time nanny when we had one toddler and an infant, the Filipino babies needed to learn to sit and drift to sleep in their stroller or car seat. Usually, Filipino babies upon any sign of distress in their strollers and car seats, would be taken of their “dilemmas” and comforted. We had to see our eldest then cry it out and drift to sleep in his car seat and stroller. Oh it took a whole of crying ( and vomiting ) at one point.
9. Non Stop Questions
“How old is God?”, “Is Lola older than Noah?” ” What happened, Mama?” “Why, Papa, why? “. Oh, there are days that we may not be able to take another question from our curious children. Before you lose your patience, just write the question down and say, “I’ll try to answer that tomorrow.” But better record it so you’ll be amazed when you try to recall the many cute thoughts and wonderings they had.
10. The Fears
I had a nephew who feared big jars or big paintings. My daughter when she was 3 years old had a fear for old people with white hair and bald men. Many fear the dark. Recently, I just found out my 2 preschool children had some trauma in having to watch , “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” for a Sunday school activity. Most children will naturally out grow their fears. So do not fuss and fret.
Oh, dear younger mom with younger children, don’t rush these seeming monotonous, trivial, “get me out of here please” moments. Record them via journal and video, and above all, enjoy them (for sure, you can find something good in them)for they will soon (and time flies!) grow up!!!!