Monday, August 26, 2013

Keeping things Fresh and Exciting

Has it ever happened to you that one of your skirts or shirts goes missing in the back of your closet somewhere and you don't see it for months, in fact you completely forgot you even had it. Then one day, while cleaning out your closet, you come across this skirt/shirt and remember how much you liked it and now its almost as if you have a brand new piece of clothing in your closet and you're so excited to wear it?

Well, we can apply the same idea to our kiddos and their toys.

Since most of us are home for a big chunk of the day with our kids, their toys, books and games can get pretty old pretty fast.

So here are some good ideas to keep things fresh without having to break the bank...

If you have the space, get some plastic containers with lids from Walmart or even Bankers Boxes and put away a BUNCH of toys, books, puzzles and games and separate them into Holidays or months. Don't forget to label them and have them easily accessible.

This way, at the beginning of each month or Holiday season, you take down your box and the kids have a bunch of fresh goodies that they probably haven't seen for a long time, making it super exciting as if its brand new. For each box, you can put the appropriate things inside pertaining to that particular time of year, and like this it is also out of your way the rest of the year.

In regard to a Shabbat Box, you can change it up more often as they use it every week, and put in Shabbat appropriate things like board games, card games, new books (from the Library or home) and any other goodies that they will enjoy.

Of course if they have certain things that they play with all the time (Legos, wooden blocks, favorite dolls) then you are not going to hide it... but look around at the things that just seem to sit there and collect dust. Take it, put it away for a while and I can guarentee that one Shabbat afternoon if you randomly bring it out, chances are it will keep those little tykes very busy as it will be like something new to them. And if they are still not excited about that toy, give it away to someone who will enjoy it.

Also, by having this system, as you come across cool things through out the year on sale or recieved as gifts, you can put it in the appropriate box and by the time its time to open that box, you will have built up quite a collection without even realizing it. Example, a friend gives you a zoo puzzle that her daughter outgrew, put it in your Rosh Hashanah box and save it for that time of year for Parshas Noach or Days of Creation.

This is a win win as it limits the amount of clutter in your home and saves you money on buying new things.

Would love to hear how you keep things 'Fresh and Exciting' in your home!

Have a wonderful week,

Friday, August 23, 2013

Creating your own Jewish Homeschool Preschool Curriculum

I have received numerous emails in the past few weeks asking if I know of any Jewish Homeschool Preschool Curriculum that covers everything for the year.

In answer to those questions, the only two Jewish Preschool Curriculum that I own and think are really wonderful are:
From Plan to Product- Click Here to Check it out
Curriculum of the Arts- Click Here to Check it out

There are so many websites and blogs out there with Jewish Preschool resources that honestly, you can really make your own Jewish Homeschool Preschool Curriculum. Its just about proper planning and not getting overwhelmed by all the information that's out there.

At this stage in the game, its really not about content. Its about developing skills. If you take the average 4 year old in a Jewish Preschool who comes home with a state of the art Arts'n crafts project every day as well as a 5 page newsletter at the end of the week going into detail of everything the teacher covered in class that week about Rosh Hashanah, chances are if you ask them what they learnt about Rosh Hashanah they will give you the same answer as the Jewish Homeschooled 4 year old who spent the week playing, coloring, helping mommy bake round challahs and honey cakes and munching on apples and honey.

What we do need though, are things to keep our little preschoolers busy and challenged, things to help them develop those little brains of theirs. We also need our sanity so having a curriculum helps us stay focused.

With the help and guidance of my good friend and fellow Homeschooling Mama, Altie (she did a guest post on Kids in the Kitchen Here) I have put together some guidelines for creating your own Jewish Homeschool Preschool Curriculum. So grab yourself a notebook or iPad or open a word file on your laptop and answer the following questions...

What are your Goals?
In order to have a successful year, you need to figure out your goals for your days, weeks, months and year. You also need to know that as much as you plan, things will always come up and throw everything off, and that its okay.

 Goals for the School Day:
The average Homeschool Preschool Day is 2-3 hours. There is so much that can get done during that time, so if used right, those hours are gold. It may take a few days/weeks to find the routine that works for you. Start out with a lose plan and tweek accordingly. If your kids work better in the early morning, take advantage of that time. If baby naps in the afternoon, grab that hour. With Homeschooling, you really need to let go of 'the norm' and do what works for you and your family. 

Circle Time- Honestly, circle time never really went down in my house. It got old really quick, so if it works or you, go for it, but don't be too hard on yourself or your kids.

Davening- It's always a good thing to start the day with giving Tzedakah, singing a song about Tzedakah and then davening. Decide what prayers make sense to do with the little ones. Too much will have them yawning, acting up, scooting across the carpet and getting into trouble. Start small and add on new tefilos when you see they are ready. Have a special mat or blanket where you do it every day. Bring in a CD if you have (I recommend My First Sing-Along Siddur ) and props (a stuffed Torah, musical instruments, standing up, doing motions)- make it exciting for them. Remember, this can take only 5-10  minutes. It's okay, have realistic expectations and have lots of activities lined up for the rest of your school day. 

Here are some things to include in your davening time-

Alef Bet- Hebrew Reading and Writing-  At this age, its about introducing the letters to them. Make it fun, very tactile. Giving your 3 year old a matching worksheet will buy you about 1, maybe 2 minutes. Giving her a big letter Alef with finger paints to color it in will give you a good 5, maybe even 10 minutes, so plan accordingly!
 Here is a list of Alef Bet Curriculum you can explore:

Goals for the School Week:
How many days is your school week? Some do Monday-Friday, Some do Monday- Thursday (thats me!) and some include Sunday. Decide what works for your family and plan accordingly.

Parshah- The Weekly Torah Portion- The weekly Parshah is a great time to learn about Halachos and Midos from that specific Parshah. It's always nice when things are connected so try bring out those gems each week for your kids.

Goals for the School Months/Year:
Yom Tov- Jewish Holidays- It is really easy to get overwhelmed when planning your school year. You know yourself and you know your kids. Take some time at the beginning of each month and write down each Holiday and underneath each one write down a bunch of fun and easy Arts'n crafts projects and activities that you will do. Designate, however many days or weeks as you want to work on these projects. Make yourself a Pinterest Board and closer to the holiday, start jotting down the days you want to do each project/activity and get the supplies you need. You dont need to do 25 fancy projects with your 4 year old. Keep in mind that simply peeling an apple by themselves and cutting it up with a plastic knife is a fantastic and very rewarding activity for them.  
Here are some resources:

And here are some Jewish Holiday Crafts Books:

The above is your very basic Jewish Preschool Curriculum. Yes, it's so much easier to just 'follow' a curriculum, but chances are your child may not be interested in everything in the book. If you know your child, work with them and give them things that they love doing. I know my son has no interest in coloring, so giving him a Rosh Hashanah coloring book as an activity to fill up 20 minutes is not going to work. But giving him clay and asking him what Rosh Hashanah things he would like to make and then paint can buy me a serious half hour, maybe more! But give my daughter the coloring book and she will be busy busy busy with her crayons, markers, colored pencils and paints as she creates masterpiece after masterpiece.

So as we get to know our kids, take each holiday, Parshah, Special Jewish Day, Hebrew Reading/Writing and gear it toward them. You will both benefit because when the kids are happy and busy, mom is happy too. No need to fight with our kids to do something they clearly have no interest in doing. We all lose that battle.

So the bottom line is, have realistic expectations from your kids. If they are playing on the floor happily, don't stop them to tell them its time to do an activity. Let them play, use that time. If they are busy doing an activity, don't stop them to tell them its time to go play outside. Have lots of flexibility within your day and you will all be happy.

Most important- Breathe. Allow LOTS of playtime- work it into your schedule. I am working on a Jewish Homeschool Planner and hope to post it soon.

Have a wonderful Shabbos and I hope this was helpful!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

A Day in the Life of Guest Homeschooling Blogger Chaya

My daughters are turning 4 and 6 and I have been homeschooling them for the past 3 years. Before I go into detail about how our day unfolds, I just want to emphasize that what works for one homeschooling mom and child might not work for the next and if certain things you are doing get old or just aren't  working, change it up, nothing is ever set in stone.

I only started making and keeping a schedule this past year and it has really worked for us. I hope it can help someone out there to plan out their day too!

The girls wake up around 7:30 and I serve them breakfast. After breakfast they play until 9:30. They have specific things they can play with during those hours but they mostly busy themselves with Play Dough at this point.

My 6 year old is in first grade in the Shluchim Online School which is from 10am-12pm. During her time online is when I spend time with my 3 year old and get a start on my day (cooking, emails, and phone calls).

When online school is over we head over to our CHABAD house for lunch and from 12:30 until 2:30pm I teach them in our classroom. We usually cover the current Yom Tov and anything else that is going on. We are home by 3pm.

I was really fortunate to have found a "Cultural House" about a 6 minute drive from where we live. There are all sorts of after school activities for kids of all ages. No food is allowed in any class so that worked for me in the Kosher department. I enrolled my girls for 3 days a week. It is an awesome program! They love  it and have lots of fun and I get an hour and bit to myself.

Then it’s home, dinner, bath time and bed. For those of you wondering when and how I make dinner, I stick a chicken in the oven before I leave and it's ready when I get back, or I cook in the morning (during Online school) or just something simple when we get home.

This year I will be enrolling them in piano lessons twice a week so they will have something to do after school every day.

That’s my very basic day. And lastly, some golden words I heard from a friend of mine, Esther who homeschools her kids: if you have a lazy/ not so great day, don’t be so hard on yourself- as long as it’s an exception and isn't all the time! Cut yourself some slack, be a little chilled (I wake up telling myself this;) and all will be ok!

Thank you Chaya for giving us a glimpse into your day!

Good Luck to everyone starting out their Jewish Homeschool year- I have many more goodies lined up to share with you all!
Wishing you a wonderful week,

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Alef Booklet for Little Ones

Here are a few Alef Worksheets I made for my little ones who are just starting to learn the Alef Bet. 

Enjoy and have a wonderful week,

Thursday, August 1, 2013

FREE Elul Homeschool Preschool Curriculum



Games and Activities from around the Web

Art Projects from around the Web

Baking Idea's

Music and Songs

Great Books on Mitzvot

Have Fun and Happy Elul!

Big Girls Do Cry

This week I spoke to three different friends, from 3 different parts of the world and all 3 conversations were so similar. I felt the need to share.

My first conversation was with my close friend who was telling me how she just got a new job and how overwhelmed she is trying to balance time for her kids, time for herself and time for her husband that on her way home yesterday she just pulled over to the side of the road and cried. She cried and cried and cried. 

My next conversation was with a friend of mine who has 2 little ones under the age of 1 and how she lives on the second floor of her building with no elevator and how getting both kids out of the house and into the stroller, running up and down the stairs, strapping one kid in then running up to get the next and by the time they leave the building the little one needs to nurse, and one day as she was leaving and the baby started crying, she just started crying too.

And yesterday I was speaking to my friend who was telling me how she was just thinking back to when her twins were newborns she had to go pick up her older daughters carpool and she didn't sleep the night before and it was a Friday and she still had to cook for Shabbos and had just gotten her twins down to nap when now she had to go and wake them up and put them into the car in the snow to go do carpool and the entire carpool she just cried her eyes out.

And today it happened. It was late afternoon, I had been up with one of my kids most of the night with an ear infection and I was exhausted. The kids were tired, some not feeling well, I was feeling guilty for letting them watch an extra video and they were all fighting with each other, the playroom was upside down, and I felt the lump in my throat. 

I quietly went into the bathroom and just let it out. A serious serious sob. Sometimes, we just need to let it out. And often, its just because we're tired and overwhelmed and the kids arnt well  and acting up. And guess what. It's okay. It's okay to cry about it because there is only so much we can do and handle. 

My teenage sister wrote on her Facebook page something like "I love being Happy, who has time to cry?" to which I responded that she has to make time to cry, because crying is healthy.

Just like we should laugh out loud when something is funny and we are feeling happy, we should allow ourselves to cry when we feel we need to.

So here's to tears. May we all be blessed to cry many more happy tears then sad ones, but to know that its okay to cry when we feel we need to.

Have a wonderful week,

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...