Getting Hands-On

One of our (both mine and the kids’) main goals for this school year was to get more “hands-on.” Several years ago, when I first began envisioning our homeschool, it was incredibly hands on. Unfortunately, reality hasn’t worked out that way. In fact, this is one of the elements that weighed heavily on my decision to stop working outside the home. It seemed absurd that I was making the effort to homeschool, but my efforts were limited by what I was able to cram into a given day. My employment was governing my home life, and I simply couldn’t make peace with that. But I digress…

Where was I? Oh, yes, hands-on.

Step one was getting a few curriculum pieces that would make this transition easier. Since we were accustomed to primarily bookwork, I figured I needed a little inspiration to turn the tide. Catholic Heritage Curricula is where we found many of the books we were most excited about. I think they do a great job of bringing lessons to life through hands-on activities. As such, I get to integrate more of the hands-on learning I was longing for, but I don’t have to worry about getting too creative, since the lessons come with suggested activities and supply lists. We just did the cutest little “experiment” in Jack’s science class. He’s learning about seeds (Every seed is a baby plant!) so we soaked some beans and split them open. Lo and behold – there were little plant sprouts on the inside! So much fun!

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Step two, as suggested by Jack, was to add an art class. I am not artsy. I am not crafty. The thought of this made me cringe. Yet, he was insistent that he needed to take art. I looked through endless art books, hoping to find something I could work with. A lot of art books that I saw were geared more toward art appreciation – looking at and studying great works. While this certainly has merit, I knew what he meant. He wanted arts and crafts. He wanted to cut and glue and play with paint and glitter. Finally, I went back to one of the first books I looked at (and initially disregarded due to the certainty of very large messes) and bit the bullet. We became the proud owners of Art 1 for Young Catholics. This book offers several projects each month based on the liturgical year, and it is truly a gem! Even Andy, who initially declared that he would NOT be participating in art under any circumstances, loves the projects and activities. Today’s project was in honor of Mary’s assumption into Heaven and it came out oh-so-cute.

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I never have any trouble getting my kids to tune in when we’re doing catechetical lessons. Their sweet little hearts are truly eager to learn more and more about their faith. But when the kiddos discover that today’s lesson came with more than just stories and discussion, they were elated! We all had so much fun that I don’t even mind that my kitchen floor is covered in glitter.

To help make sense of our art project: Today is the feast of The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. If you don’t know what that means, but would like to, visit here to learn about the feast in 12 little Q & As



11 thoughts on “Getting Hands-On

  1. Next time we see each other, mind if we talk homeschooling? We’re wanting to start Preschool stuff with KP but I’m so overwhelmed!

    • Definitely! Maybe we can get together some time this weekend? For me it’s been a continual learning process and some trial and error, but I’ll be happy to help any way I can. I thought talking to homeschooling mamas was much more helpful than what I found on the internet. Sometimes all I learned was that a particular approach would never work for me….but even that was helpful because I could rule something out. I don’t know if that makes sense? How old is KP? 3 or 4?

      • This weekend may work, I’ll check with Brian to make sure. That definitely makes sense. I tried talking to some homeschoolers in a local group but they seem to put too much pressure on their kids and I don want to do that. KP will be 3 this month. I was thinking of using but not sure how to supplement with other things or even where to get reasonably priced supplies.

        • I see that a lot in the group I’m in too. My guess is that a lot of them are sort of overcompensating. I think they’re just trying to prove to others (whether they realize it or not) that their kids are better off for being homeschooled. I struggled with that, especially in regards to reading, at the beginning. I felt like if Andy could read way above his reading level, it would get my family off my back. You’re so wise to see that error from the beginning! Sure, a homeschooled kid could go to college at age 15, but if that’s not the path my kids want to take, I don’t want to try to make it happen. I like letteroftheweek! It’s basically a unit study based around the letter, which I think is really neat for preschool. I don’t know if you’d really have to supplement it that much? If you did everything they suggested, you’d be pretty busy. You could lengthen the lessons she likes or add in more crafty stuff if you want. We rarely do anything for just 15 minutes. I think you could get everything you need for letteroftheweek from the library and youtube. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself; remember puzzles, activity centers, and free time are big part of preschool. Even when it looks like she’s just playing, she’s learning. Part of your day can even be practicing different life skills like waiting patiently, following directions, taking turns, etc. (which for my wild boys really just means learning some self-control!) The formal teaching stuff should probably only take about an hour a day at her age.

        • What kind of supplies are you looking for? Right now is a great time to get markers, paper, etc. All the school supply stuff is super cheap this time of year! Walmart has crayola crayons for $.50 and markers for $1.97. If you mean like curriculum stuff…that’s a little trickier. Last time I looked, there wasn’t much available for preschool. At least not much that was worth the price. For me, something available online like letteroftheweek is a much better way to go. For preschool, I prefer to spend whatever I have budgeted on manipulative stuff like puzzles, counting bears, magnet sets, a play clock, etc. Discount School Supply has a lot of stuff like that…but that’s not where I ended up ordering this year. I’m drawing a blank and can’t remember the company’s name…I’ll let you know when I think of it! Also, google “busy bags.” There’s tons of fun ideas for keeping little hands busy and learning even when you’re not formally teaching.

          • I’m really looking for ways to store/organize things, crafty type stuff, and puzzles. I definitely want to get her some counting bears! I thought those were a great idea when I saw the boys ask to use theirs.

            I’ll look into busy bags, thanks!

            So, letteroftheweek, some crafts, manipulatives, and maybe some small kiddo instruments sounds pretty well rounded?

            • EAI Education!! That’s where I got the kids stuff this year. I thought their selection and prices were better than Discount School Supply. I think your plan sounds perfect! Very well rounded. As for organization…my hallway linen closet doesn’t have any linens in it. It’s all my school stuff. I don’t have much in the way of bins and containers. You could try ikea or the container store? There’s also really cool teacher carts with all kinds of compartments and storage but they’re not practical for us. I don’t really have anywhere to park the cart.

              • Thanks! I’ll check them out! I think Brian has temporarily banned us both from Ikea. I guess I’ll have to wait until I get all my supplies and then figure it out. Oh the joys of apartments and no real storage space. :) I like the teacher cart idea. Thank you so much for your help!

              • Ah! I replied yesterday but it didn’t go through I suppose.

                I think Brian has temporarily banned us from Ikea after our last trip lol. I like the teacher cart idea but I guess I’ll just need to wait til I get everything together to see what I need and what will work.

                Thank you so much for all of your help! I really appreciate it.

  2. I just noticed your last comments in my spam folder. Sorry about that! I have no idea why it did that. Best of luck to you girls as you get started!! Maybe we can do a field trip together some time?

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