Young Entrepreneurs

Today was the last day of our co-op. We are so sad it’s over, especially as it might not pick back up, again, this fall. I’ve mentioned before how much we loved it, because it was just the right size, for the right amount of time every week, and covered the right subjects (the “fun” stuff). My oldest cried as we left (an hour later than we usually do, because everyone played at the nearby playground afterward). “I may never see some of them, again!” I know how she feels. When things are so good, it’s almost sad, because you’re afraid there’ll never be something that good, again. But there will be. We’ve just got to find it.

This last day was a really special one, because the three older groups (a co-ed 5-7-year old group, over which I and three other moms were, and then a girls 8-12-year old group, and a boys 8-12-year old group) got to have a little young entrepreneurs activity. They made various things at home, and then sold them to their peers during the co-op time. Each child got $30 in play money, and set the prices for their wares. It was wonderful, because no one really had a shortage of money, and as happy as they were to buy from each other, they were also so excited to sell. Even the kids in the 2-4-year-old group (of which my son is a part) got to come buy some things. It was just plain fun. I think if one really wanted to, one could devote an entire semester to teaching all about business: starting one, all the terminology and financials.

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That’s a picture of the kids setting up. They sold so many things, from cookies and “decorate your own” mini cupcakes, to lemonade, to handmade yarn pompoms, to magnets, to jewelry, to “portraits drawn while you wait” (which I found utterly adorable).

By the end, everyone had sold out of everything, which made them all so happy and proud.

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I’d almost forgotten: I was supposed to teach, that day, and wanted to do something extra, so it was suggested that I provide bags for the kids to decorate, if they so chose. There’s Jenna making one (and my youngest, in the background).

I wish I’d taken more pictures, but it was all just so much fun, I wound up forgetting just a few minutes after it started.

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Monday Library Craft

Monday is our library day. We take back all of our library books, get some new ones, and do the craft they have every Monday. I keep meaning to take them to Story Time on a day they have it, but you have to pre-register online, now, and I always seem to forget. But we almost always make it there for the craft.

The craft is for little ones, since it’s from 9-11, when most of the big kids are in school, but Jenna, my 6-year-old, still enjoys them. They’re perfect for Simon (3 1/2), and Nora (17 months) has just graduated to working on them, too. There’s another craft time, on Wednesday afternoons, for older, school-aged kids, but I don’t know if they’d let Simon make one, too, and I don’t want him to feel left out. Next year will be rough, because Jen will really be too old for the younger craft, and Simon will still be too young for the older one…

The crafts are simple: usually coloring, with some stickers or a little glueing. Today’s was pretty cute. They handed out large snowman pictures to color, and a bag of mini marshmallows to “lick and stick” to make snowflakes. Nora scribbled a bit, then ate her marshmallows. Simon stuck almost all of his on his picture, and Jenna did about half and half.

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I really love this library, and it’s obvious I’m not the only one – it’s always packed for the craft days, and for the story times, too (which is why they had to start requiring registration)! We’re developing a good relationship with the librarians, and I know as homeschoolers, that’s a really great thing to do.

Fun at the Co-op

We found an absolutely wonderful co-op, this semester. It is everything a co-op should be: parents working together to inspire our children and provided that ever-important social interaction people think homeschoolers are missing. We don’t focus on core subjects, just the “fun” stuff — art, science, history. Things like that. I and three other women take turns every Friday teaching Jenna’s age group (5-7-year-olds). This works out perfectly, because we only have to teach 3 times each for the entire semester, so no one gets burnt out or just phones in a lesson. We really put our all into it.

This week, I got to teach there for the first time. Since tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, I decided to do V-Day-themed crafts, and then I devoted some time to Presidents’ Day, with a fun craft for that.

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First we talked about the history of Valentine’s Day, and I punctuated certain facts/topics with pictures I’d saved to my Kindle (I love that thing!). Then we went over to the tables and stitched around a plastic canvas heart to make magnets (they can later add a photo, if they so choose).

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Jenna wants to fill in her heart with more yarn, so we left the magnet off the back until she does. A lot of kids opted to do this. They really enjoyed the stitching.

The thing above the plastic canvas there on the plate is a bird feeder. That didn’t go as well. We read If You’ll Be My Valentine, by Cynthia Rylant, and then made a “valentine for the birds.” I had some stale bread, but I guess it was too hard/stale, because when we went to cut out hearts with cookie cutters, some of them broke. Luckily, none of the kids really seemed to care. They were more interested in spreading on peanut butter (I checked with every parent prior to this lesson to make sure we had no peanut allergies) and coating them with bird seed. It was messy fun.

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Then we did a Valentine’s Day word search — and Jenna made another word search and a maze she insisted I copy and give out, as well. While they did that, I laid out materials to make Valentines and also bags for collecting Valentines from their classmates, when they did their little exchange, later.

Next came Presidents’ Day. I again used my Kindle to show some pictures I’d saved, and we talked in depth about George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Then we did this awesome craft, that I got from this awesome website.

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George Washington on one side, flipped over is Abraham Lincoln. They loved this, and it was so simple and fun.

And that’s how we filled two hours worth of fun activities at our co-op, this Friday!

Bubble Wrap Painting

While looking for books for this week’s topic of study, my son found an awesome book on kids’ painting projects called Look and Make Painting. I got it on a whim (I recommend you always pre-screen your children’s library book choices before checking them out and bringing them home, but my kids were on a roll, this Monday, and between breaking up a rousing game of tag and finding my 3-year-old’s stuffed doggie wedged behind some books after 15 minutes of frantic searching, I was d-o-n-e with the library), and was pleasantly surprised by the projects listed in its pages. The first one we decided to try was what they called the “spotty dotty turtle.” We had all the necessary supplies: paper, tempera paint, brushes, and bubble wrap.

The book says to dampen a sheet of paper and then put “big splodges” of paint on it, and then to press the bubble wrap into the paper to get the paint onto it, but that didn’t work very well for us. I highly recommend just painting directly onto the bubble wrap, preferably with a sponge brush. Then press the wrap firmly onto a clean sheet of paper. We used white because we’re boring.

The results were pretty cool. Both my 3- and 5-year-olds were amazed as they peeled the bubble wrap off the paper. My daughter was so impressed by her pink/blue/purple one that she insisted on hanging it in her room, and so no turtles were to be made from it.

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We traced a cereal bowl for the large turtle shell, and a cup for the smaller ones, then I freehanded some turtle heads, limbs, and tails. We cut them out and pasted them onto the back of the shell. Jenna said they looked like a mommy and babies. I think we’ll eventually have to do a unit study on turtles, so she can learn about how lonely baby turtles really are.

It was a difficult Monday, to say the least, but a fun craft like this sure brightened up the afternoon. 

Lapbook Friday – Dinosaurs and Animal Classification

Last week I asked my five-year-old what lapbook she wanted to do for our next Lapbook Friday. She excitedly said, “Animals!” “What animal?” I asked. “Just animals,” she answered, “all of them.” So I did my best to cater to that. We used another wonderful set of pre-made lapbook materials from HomeschoolShare.com, picking what we liked and leaving the rest (like we’ve been doing with most aspects of homeschooling, thus far). We used some supplemental materials, listed below, to help round out the study. I think next week we’ll spread it out over all the days so it’s not quite so intensive. Jen was exhausted at the end, but very proud of her finished product.

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Books:
Fascinating Science Projects: Animal Life, by Sally Hewitt (we’ll be coming back to this one in the coming weeks; the projects are short, easy to duplicate, and hold a young child’s attention very well)
The Usborne Internet-Linked First Encyclopedia of Animals, by Paul Dowswell (we didn’t bother with the internet links, just looked through the book and learned some characteristics of different animal groups)

Videos:


For my 3-year-old, we did a dinosaur-themed book, which I knew he’d like. We used some of this set from HomeschoolShare.com, but not much, because we are not a creationist family, and much of it tied in the dinosaurs with creationism. We just used the memory game included in the PDF, coloring and pasting some of the pictures into the file folder, and then making matching cards and a pocket for them. The result is a fun little match game that’ll let him learn some of his favorite dinosaurs and their names and features. It was just enough for him, today. He was too jittery to sit still for much else, and he now has a fun book to show his dad, this evening.  

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Lapbook Friday – All About Me

We do “school” four days a week, and on Friday we do lapbooks. If you’ve never heard of lapbooks, don’t be ashamed – up until a little while ago, i hadn’t either. They’re a really fun way for hands-on, visual learners to become familiar with an also reinforce topics they’re studying. Lapbooks can be about anything, and can be formatted in any way, but typically, they are made from poster board or file folders and are large enough to fit on a child’s lap (go figure, huh?). From there, they’re filled with interactive informational goodies: flaps to lift, things to flip through or turn or pull out, pockets and pictures. The kids have ownership over the creation of these books, they can make them as simple or complex as they want, and they control the information that goes inside, as well as the design. I’ve never been into scrapbooking but this, *this* has real value.

To kick off our very first Lapbook Friday, we decided on an All About Me theme. We used the fantastic free lapbook template from Homeschool Share (I’m hoping to create new, unique ones as time goes on and my children get older and can contribute more to the process and acquiring the information) for both. Obviously my five-year-old’s was going to have more elements, as she can write and has a longer attention span than the three-year-old. But they both got something out of it, and we all had a great time. It was relaxing, it was fun, and it’s something they’re proud of and can show off. My son is enjoying looking through what he calls his “All About Simon” book.

A little more information about their construction: we took a posterboard from the Dollar Tree and cut it in half. I folded the ends toward the center, for my 3-year-old’s book, and accordion folded it for my 5-year-old’s book (which, she was happy to discover, gave her “two books in one”). 

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