Wikki Stix Alphabet

Back in February we went on vacation to Maui and on the airplane, my girls received coloring books and samples of Wikki Stix from the flight attendants (seriously, A+ Alaskan Airlines!).  The girls loved the Wikki Stix and spent a good portion of the flight playing with them.  For a mom traveling with 2 small kids, anything that keeps them occupied is a total win in my book.

Imagine how awesome it was to see that Timberdoodle carries Wikki Stix and that they are used in an educational capacity! Timberdoodle has the Wikki Stix Alphabet in their Pre-K Curriculum Kit which is perfect for Kaylee’s age!

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Kaylee is 4.5 and is right in the middle of mastering her letters.  She knows most of them well enough that she sometimes gets bored doing the standard alphabet workbooks but she does need more practice to master them.  This Wikki Stix Alphabet set is perfect for her to keep practicing her letters while switching up to something new and different and FUN!

Wikki Stix are easy to use and easy to manipulate.  They bend and flex in the tiniest hands and you just push them gently onto the boards to stick.  The boards clean up with a dry paper towel without leaving a sticky mess around (because we’ve got enough of those already).  As per the instructions, we cut a few of them into halves and thirds but the girls were also happy to fold them over as needed.  Try as Kaylee might, they don’t just tear apart which is awesome if you have a little honey badger like I have 😉

Even 6.5 year old Avery got into it!  Since she wanted to try them out too, I gave her the boards with b and d since she still occasionally mixes those up.  She also went “rogue” and started spelling her name and small words with the Wikki Stix.

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As I’ve mentioned before, one of my favorite things about Timberdoodle curriculum is that it is FUN and the girls don’t necessarily see it as “doing schoolwork.”  Wikki Stix Alphabet totally fits into that category!  The girls love it and choose it during free play time, in addition to when we work it into school time.

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Anything that puts such huge smiles on my girls’ face is worth every penny….the fact that its educational?  A serious bonus!

 

Disclaimer: I received this product in exchange for my review.  All opinions are my own!

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Electro Dough

We are at that point in the school year where I am cleaning out the curriculum closet to make room for the new stuff.  I’m basically going through everything to see what I still want the girls to finish, what we never used and can sell/trash, and I’m even finding treasures that I had forgotten about.

One of those was the DIY Electro Dough Kit from techwillsaveus.com  I had ordered this at the beginning of last year in our Timberdoodle kit with the idea that the girls could do it with dad (he worked as an apprentice electrician for a number of years and his dad is an electrician).  The major problem with that plan?  I’m not sure I ever told dad about it or I might have mentioned it briefly but then stuck it in the curriculum closet where he never goes!  And here I was, wondering why he never did it with them….whoops!

We finally took it out today and played with it.  We had a ton of fun but the kit is seriously lacking in instruction/explanation.  The kit has the dough recipe and some brief examples of easy circuits you can make to get started.  No explanation of what the parts are or WHY it works so it helped that we had an electrician making with us, lol.  You can go to their website for more advanced projects and the manual which goes more in depth in the terminology and the WHYs.  So it really depends on your own personal knowledge of electricity and circuits as to whether or not you would need the manual—I need it to help me explain why/how you can turn the lights and buzzer on with play dough but dad didn’t need it.

The thing that I really love about this kit is that we can keep it and do this again as much as we like.  At their ages, the girls LOVED the novelty of getting the lights to turn on using play dough but they weren’t totally interested in the concepts behind it.  But as their curiosity grows or if they have a unit on electricity in their next science course, we can pull it back out, make a new batch of dough, and keep playing and learning!

So for now, this will get put back into the curriculum closet and hopefully not forgotten about this time…

Brave Writer

Any Brave Writer families in here?

Like many homeschool moms, I was recently evaluating the curriculum we used this year and making a plan for what we will use next.  Almost all of the curriculum that we used, “worked” for us this year.  Still, I couldn’t help but wonder if there was something else out there that might work even better. Something that might excite and intrigue us.  There are so many homeschool curriculum options that I just want to explore them all but, nobody’s got time for that.

I consulted the school principal (aka my husband).  I consulted the veteran homeschool moms in our co-op.  For the most part, everyone else said that they would stick with what worked because maybe next year or the year after, it won’t work anymore and that will be the time to find a new and better option.

Wellllll, I’m not taking their advice. I really did want their opinions and I do value them but once I stumbled upon Brave Writer, I just can’t get it out of my head.  Several of the things that we used this year that worked but weren’t anything special were our spelling, writing, and handwriting resources.  All of those can be replaced with Brave Writer.

I’m in LUST with these ideas and lifestyle changes to integrate “curriculum” into life.  I’m trying not to jump in blindly and buy a ton of stuff right off the bat (Hello, I’ve been on amazon finding THE PERFECT tea set for poetry teatime even though we already have a teaset….PUT THE CAR IN PARK, LADY!).  I’m trying to go slow, I’m reading the Writer’s Jungle right now and want to finish that before anything else.

So, are you a Brave Writer family?  Do you follow it all or just pick and choose components?

                   The tea set that I am currently swooning over!

Year-round or summer break?

Do you homeschool year-round or take a summer break?

I think we are going to be year-round homeschoolers. First of all, our summers are routinely 115- 120° so we don’t spend a ton of time outside. If we’re going to be stuck inside, we might as well get some work done, right?  Also, we’ve taken week long breaks several times throughout the year for vacations and we’d like to be able to continue to do so.

I am planning to wind down as Avery finishes each subject and then do a week break & celebration before moving her up to the next grade.  She is the type of person who needs or wants that clear definition of when she is done and moving up. She has already finished her geography book for the year and has about 3-4 weeks left of math and writing.  As she finishes each subject, I’m planning that she will just have less to do each day and focus more on any subjects that remain (we’ve apparently taken several extra weeks off of spelling because she has about 8-10 weeks left of that).  We should be done around the end of May when traditional schools are also letting out.

We’ll take a week off, bake a special year-end cake, and maybe visit an amusement park.  Then we’ll head right into our next year! 

So, how do you do it? Year-round? And if so, do you always just keep rollin’ or do you make a definition between the grades?

Outside School

Where we live in Southern AZ, we’re blessed with spring temperatures already.  It has become a daily thing for my girls to request “outside school”.  We set up a blanket and all of our work for that day right outside our front door.  The girls take turns doing their work on the blanket with me and playing in the driveway.  We take out our bikes, scooters, chalk, etc.

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We get so much more work done when we do outside school!  Even though they are continuously playing, they are more motivated to focus on their work when its their turn and BECAUSE they are continuously playing, they don’t get restless and fidgety.

I love outside school too because it gives us a rare opportunity for 1 on 1 learning time.  Neither of my girls nap anymore so we usually all 3 sit at the table and work together.  It works fine but I know that 1 on 1 time is important too.  Outside school keeps one happy and playing and not interrupting while I get to focus on the other.  And then we switch!!

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These girls would probably do a week worth of school in one day, as long as we did it outside!

Oil & Water

We have started our official curriculum but still need something more fun for science.  Our science curriculum has started off a little slow and science experiments are a favorite in our house so we’re adding in extra fun!  I’m hoping that our curriculum picks up but in the meantime, we have plenty of really fun experiment books to work through.

Today, we played with oil and water.  We saw how they don’t mix, talked about why they don’t mix, and finally added a magic ingredient to make them mix.  The girls loved it and really get into their experiments, as you can see with their safety goggles and “studious glasses”, lol!  These girls crack me up daily and I am so thankful to spend my days with them!

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(https://u4439.myubam.com/p/4060/365-science-activities)

Curriculum Review: ThinkPlay STEM Junior

One of the reasons we picked Timberdoodle curriculum was because we loved the focus on thinking skills, STEM, and hands-on activities.  ThinkPlay Junior fits right in with that and we’re loving it!  We love building blocks and Legos so I was pretty sure that this would be a great fit for our curriculum.  The best part is that I do not have to work these into our daily schedule, my girls choose this as a free time activity and just as regular play.

ThinkPlay Junior is included in Timberdoodle’s preK curriculum kit but the recommended ages are 4-8.  I was actually looking at getting the ThinkPlay Advanced because we’re doing K-1st with Avery this year but Junior was on sale during the damaged/closeout sale so we went with that (and no damage that I can see on ours!).  I figured that if it was too easy for Avery, we could use it for Kaylee’s preschool.

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As it turns out, its great for both girls!  The pieces are interlocking and can be stacked as well.  This set includes 400 pieces…blocks, wheels, different connectors, etc.  The blocks are brightly colored and different shapes. It comes in a great tub with a locking lid (which is great if your kiddos also have a tendency to knock it off the shelf).  There is a spiral bound idea book and also some bigger poster-size idea pages.  There are different levels of difficulty in the book too, Avery can do a lot on her own but the bigger projects are great for all of us to do together.  Kaylee (3 yrs) sometimes has a hard time interlocking the pieces by herself but she’s getting the hang of it.  Last night, we built a whole scene….the sun, 2 different flowers, a butterfly, and a bug. Fun for the whole family!

We will definitely get a lot of use out of this set and I am so glad we decided to add it!  The possibilities are endless and the possibilities can expand as their little minds do too.

*I was not paid or solicited to review this item and I paid the normal (sale!!) price for it. Just sharing a product that we love!