Blog Archive

Little House in the Big Woods & Pioneer Unit


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For the last few weeks, every day during lunch, I've been reading, Little House in the Big Woods, by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Growing up I remember watching the TV series, but I had never actually read any of the books.  Boy, was I missing out!  (I'm seriously tempted to buy the entire set for Princess for Christmas, just so we can read them together.)  When we finished the book today, I had to make sure the kiddos didn't see me tearing up.  I'm not sure whether my sadness for the end of the book, was because I enjoyed reading it to them so much, and watching them play afterwards, acting out specific things, or if it was because the time in history when this book takes place, is one of my very favorites. I loved reading about it every day, and now we're moving on.

I wish I had read the entire book through before I had put this unit together.  I could have put together so many more activities.  Hopefully we'll have another unit in future years for Sunshine.  I was running behind this week.  Not even all the activities here were on the shelves the first and second days of learning time.  The kiddos didn't care.  They were so excited about new activities in general.  There are many times when they helped me create new activities based on what they wanted to learn more about, and questions they had.  Here are the activities we did do this week!

Language:  
Cinnamon Spiced Play Dough Spelling
The kiddos will use the cookie cutter letters to create the words on their spelling list.  All animals are those mentioned in the book, or those encountered and/or used by pioneers.

Source: I created the printable for this activity as part of my Little House in the Big Woods & Pioneer Unit Printable Pack 1. For your free copy, click on the link located at the bottom of the post.

My Phonetic Words Book
This activity is not necessarily related to Little House in the Big Woods or pioneers, however it's simplicity resembles how I feel about those times.  The kiddos complete the pages in the book, circling the picture of the word shown on each page, and then practice writing it themselves.  Surprisingly all of the kiddos have tried and enjoyed this activity, even those who usually despise writing activities.  I think it's simplicity makes it less intimidating, and therefore popular.

Source: Anastasia from Montessori Nature created this printable. For your copy, click HERE.  (This printable is not free.)

Math:
Button Addition
We were given a gallon size bag of buttons from a friend a while back.  I love when we have opportunities to use them.  The kiddos will answer problems on the cards using large buttons as counters, if needed, and small buttons as markers.

Source: I created the printable for this activity as part of my Little House in the Big Woods & Pioneer Unit Printable Pack 1. For your free copy, click on the link located at the bottom of the post.

The Town Store Money Activity
The kiddos will practice purchasing items of the times from the general store.

Source: I created the printable for this activity as part of my Little House in the Big Woods & Pioneer Unit Printable Pack 1. For your free copy, click on the link located at the bottom of the post.

Science & Culture:
Animal Tracks Match Up/Memory Game
This activity was a big hit. The kiddos studied animal tracks, matching them up with each animal card.  Bulldozer asked for a magnifying glass to be added to the activity.  Another day he asked me to play memory with him.  No matter what way you use the cards, it's a great learning process.

Source: I created the printable for this activity as part of my Little House in the Big Woods & Pioneer Unit Printable Pack 1. For your free copy, click on the link located at the bottom of the post.

The Oregon Trail
This activity is not specific to Little House in the Big Woods, but is related to the pioneers in general.  The kiddos will read the map and put the puzzle pieces in order from first state to last that the pioneers traveled.  It's been a great activity for so many reasons.

Source: I created the printable for this activity as part of my Little House in the Big Woods & Pioneer Unit Printable Pack 1. For your free copy, click on the link located at the bottom of the post.

World Continent Cards
Pioneers have come from all over the world.  When they came, they brought their heritage and culture with them.  I love how this activity helped me teach that to the kiddos.  The kiddos sorted the picture cards by continent. The control is the frame on the pictures. Frames match the continent they belong to.  Dinomite has done this activity every day this week.  He just can't get enough of it.

Source: Anastasia from Montessori Nature created this printable.  For your copy, click HERE.  (This printable is not free.)

Music:
The kiddos continue with their piano lessons.  We've also been learning some of the songs from the book Little House in the Big Woods.  Finally, we've learned all about the fiddle, listening to it's music etc.

Art:
Tin Hole Punching
I was super nervous about introducing the kiddos to this activity, worrying that they wouldn't have enough hand-eye coordination to pull it off, or that they wouldn't have enough strength in their arms and hands to punch holes through the tin pie plates.  I was pleasantly surprised.  The kiddos did AWESOME!  Each day they've worked on their tin hole punch pictures, adding new designs etc.

The kiddos drew a design on their pie plate with an erasable marker, then they started hammering.  Make sure you have a very thick piece of unwanted wood/cutting board, under the tin before you kiddo stars hammering. Otherwise you will ruin whatever surface is underneath the pie plate.

I'm not quite sure if the kiddos completely understand the concept of punching holes where they drew their lines, but I guess that really doesn't matter. They're still creating amazing pieces of art all on their own that look fabulous when the lights are off and a flashlight shines through the back of them.

If your kiddo is smaller, you can use a disposable pie plate, which would be much easier to poke holes through.  Beware! This is a very loud activity.

Physical Education:
We continue with our Fun Family Physical Fitness ideas.  Dinomite is also taking swimming lessons.  I also introduced the kiddos to square dancing through videos.

Practical Life/Sensorial:
Sewing
The kiddos have graduated from lacing cards to sewing activities.  Again, I'm pleasantly surprised about how well they're doing.  They work on their little circle sewing project each day.  I do see more sewing projects in our future, which means, Mommy needs to learn how to sew better herself. Lol.

Making Bread
This week we've had so much fun in the kitchen.  (We're actually still not finished as cinnamon rolls are last on the list of things to make for tomorrow.  They were Bulldozer's choice.)  Dinomite helped Mommy bake this delicious bread that even Sunshine can eat!

Making Johnnycake
Princess was supposed to help Mommy back johnnycake, but she decided she didn't want to, so I made it myself.  Everyone but Sunshine who can't because of food allergies, has enjoyed the bread.

Spreading Butter
All of the kiddos have practiced spreading butter on various types of breads throughout the week. We've also added honey, maple syrup, etc.

Stringing Buttons
Originally this activity was part of our addition activity but Bulldozer enjoyed the process of stringing beads so much, that I decided to make it a separate activity.  All of the kiddos have enjoyed it.

Spooning Dried Beans
The kiddos will transfer dried beans using the spoon provided.  All of the kiddos choose this activity on a regular basis, but it's definitely not a favorite as it proves to be difficult for them.  I think it's the shape of the spoon.

Little House in the Big Woods & Pioneer Invitation to Play
I hesitated putting this activity on our shelves this week.  At times invitations to play tend to dominate our learning time and I worry that the kiddos aren't covering the material they're supposed to, or developing skills they need to.  This week Bulldozer and Dinomite were practically begging for one on the shelves.

I watched them today as they each took turns playing and realized they learn more from invitations to play than many of the other activities on our shelves.  They're practicing fine motor skills. They're developing coordination and muscle strength, as they practice rolling out the pumpkin pie spiced play dough.  They're reviewing their animals and learning about their habitats, as they recreate scenes from the book we've been reading.  They're working on their engineer skills as they're trying to build forts and homes out of popsicle sticks.  And what better way for the kiddos to learn about the pioneers than to be given the materials to act out just what their lives would have been like? I've decided not to worry about having invitations to play on our shelves anymore.  When all was said and done, this activity was the popular thing for about an hour, and then the kiddos put it away and moved on to something else.

For those interested in the printable pack, click on the link below:


As part of this unit, we also studied our religious heritage and the pioneers who made the trek out west to the Salt Lake Valley. The kiddos watched some fabulous movies about the realities and hardships of the trail and journey.

Next week we'll be moving on to our Shark Unit in preparation for Dinomite's favorite TV event:  Shark Week!  Not that we have TV to watch any of it, but he thoroughly enjoys watching what's made available online.

Our Family: Routine and Schedule


This post may contain affiliate links.

Many of you have asked what our routines and schedules are like, or just how we do it on a day to day basis, etc.  Welcome to a detailed look at our everyday lives.

For a larger view and option to print for more detail, click HERE.

So, that's what our schedule looks like on paper.  Now for the why, how, and what questions?

1.  Why do Jason and I wake up so early?
Bulldozer and Sunshine are our nonsleepers.  Their anxieties are worse at night.  This is part of their autism.  They will not sleep unless we are all sleeping.  If we want to make sure they get enough sleep, and we don't listen to screaming for hours each night, we go to bed when they do.  We just discovered this worked over the summer, but being a night owl, it has been very hard for me to adjust.  Usually I'd just let Bulldozer fall asleep on the couch watching movies while I stayed up at night working.  But his mood and behaviors weren't the best, and I know both he and I needed more sleep.  Sunshine would drive me mad, when I'd just gone to sleep at midnight, and she'd wake up at 1 AM screaming until 5 AM.  (I am so thankful, for the most part, food allergy diet alterations have remedied her middle of the night screaming escapades.)  However, she does still scream when she goes to bed for quite some time (1-2 hours) if we aren't upstairs too..  Instead of Jason and I having alone time at night, when kiddos are supposed to go to bed, we have alone time in the morning.  

On a more personal note, I have found I eat much less during the course of the day, if I go to bed early.  I may have a chance to actually get 8 hours of sleep, if I go to bed early, no matter how many times kids wake me in the night.  Over the past four years I've gained an extra 15 lbs a year, bringing me to my all time high weight of about 200 lbs.  As I've had blood work done, talked to my doctor, and started meeting with a personal trainer, the one thing they've all mentioned is that my body will not work properly if I don't sleep.  No matter how healthy I eat, or how much I exercise, if I don't get sleep, I will continue to gain weight.  Sleep is my first priority, then healthy eating, and then exercise, per the directions of my personal trainer.  On days when the kiddos are up all night, especially Sunshine, Jason and I skip out on our morning alone time, blogging, the gym, etc. for a chance to catch up on sleep we missed, before he has to be to work at 7 AM.

2.  What is included in our weekly cleaning schedule and daily chores?
About six months ago, I a came across an amazing blog post with a checklist for cleaning on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.  I fell in love with it.  At first glance it seemed completely overwhelming and unrealistic, but I knew that the end result was exactly what I wanted our house to be like.  It took me three months to be successful at just completing the daily list almost every day.  It took me another two months to be successful at completing the daily and weekly list, every week. This wasn't because my house was that dirty, but because accomplishing the tasks on the lists means your house is picked up and organized. There aren't extra unfinished tasks or items laying around.  It also took Jason and I a little while to figure out the best time to tackle the daily and weekly house cleaning tasks.
There are days when I'm not able to get to daily tasks because of RAD issues, ASD meltdowns, illnesses, etc., but it's so easy to jump back in.  Over the course of the summer, we've been away a lot and our weekly cleaning has slipped a little bit.  When this happens, Jason and I dedicate a whole day to getting the house back in order, instead of a family fun activity in the afternoon.  Usually we do the same to accomplish the monthly tasks as well.  If you'd like to check out this fabulous cleaning schedule and print out a copy for yourself, go to Simply Kierste!

And in case you're wondering, the three older kiddos (ages 5, 6, & 7) make their own beds, wash their own dishes & put them away, sweep under their chairs after meals, pick up their rooms and living room when asked, and bring dirty laundry downstairs to be washed.  If the messes are too large for them and they seem overwhelmed, Jason and/or I help them.  When we clean their bedrooms on a weekly basis, the kiddos love to help vacuum, dust, and wash windows.  Dinomite and Princess LOVE to vacuum under the couch cushions and ottoman in the living room as well.

Our weakest area, when it comes to taking care of our home, is outdoor yard work.  I love gardening, but rarely get a chance to take care of things.  We have a lawn mower that doesn't like to work, so that's incredibly frustrating. Hopefully by the end of the summer we'll be doing better at this.

3. What does the kiddos' morning routine look like?
The kiddos wake up, get dressed, put their dirty clothes where they go, make their beds, comb their hair, eat breakfast, and brush their teeth.  Depending on the day, they may also take a quick bath in the morning.  Dinomite and Princess can usually do their entire morning routine with out assistance, except for their hair.  Bulldozer and Sunshine usually need one-to-one assistance with all tasks.

4.  What does our school day look like?
This year we've implemented the uninterrupted Montessori 3 Hour Work Cycle.  I admit, I had my doubts, but it only took the kiddos one week to get used to it and now they LOVE it.  The kiddos choose from activities on the shelves, workbooks, writing journals, math facts, and reading tasks all morning long.  It is amazing to see how much they accomplish.  During lunch, I fit in our read aloud time.  They listen so much better when they're eating.  In the afternoon I fit in their exercise, and then at night before bed, as part of their bedtime routine, they read to Jason or me.  We homeschool like this year round.  Sometimes our family fun time includes a field trip, sometimes it doesn't.  If I have a special movie related to one of our themes, I want them to watch, I save it for my movie day.  Music is on in our home continuously, if they don't fit enough of that in with shelf activities.

The older three kiddos work in the learning time room which is right next to our living room.  Sunshine works in the living room.  I go back and forth between the two rooms. The door is always open between them.  I'm able to see all of them at all times.

5.  What is media time?
Sunshine tends to have PTSD reactions to media, especially television, movies, and computer.  All of these devices are off when she's awake to prevent her from becoming physical towards others.  (We'll tackle this monster when she's old enough to understand it.)  When Sunshine takes her nap, the kiddos have media time.  Each kiddo has a designated day for them to choose a movie they'd like to watch.  (We don't have cable or satellite.)  Jason and I also have a day.  The iPad is made available for this time for any who'd like to play games etc.  During this time I have a chance to work on the computer, either blogging or preparing learning time activities for the kiddos.  This is the only media time the kiddos have during the day, unless it's a special occasion.  If the kiddos choose not to participate in media time, they can read, choose a quiet activity to do at the table, etc.

6.  What does the kiddos' night time routine look like?
At this point the kiddos have already finished picking up their rooms.  Some nights they have baths first. Then they're expected to put on pjs, but their dirty laundry where it goes, brush teeth, get a drink of water, go potty, read stories with Mommy and/or Daddy, and finish by saying prayers.

7.  Why are there no extra curricular activities, therapies, play dates, etc. on the schedule (with the exception of Dinomite's swimming lessons)?
Last fall, we made the choice as a family to say goodbye to extra curricular activities and therapies and replace them with family fun activities and vacations.  There were many reasons for this decision.  Jason was returning to work after being home as a foster father for 2 1/2 years. He used to run them to their activities, while I stayed home with the other kiddos. That wasn't an option anymore. Taking all four kiddos to every extracurricular activity was not possible, especially with special needs and allergies.  Finding a babysitter was even more difficult.   Then there's the fact that we only have one vehicle, which Jason uses for work.

On a more personal note, I could not pull off all of the extra curricular activities and therapies, and meet the requirements for homeschooling the kiddos.  Yes, those hours contributed to learning, but transitions, travel time, and abrupt changes to schedules due to weather, sickness, therapists being late or cancelling, etc., were more than the kiddos could handle.   Their behaviors caused me to be extremely overwhelmed and stressed out.  One small change and the kiddos were off for the rest of the day.  I found it easier to just do things myself at home.  The kiddos stay more regulated. There are less meltdowns and PTSD episodes.  All of us function better.

The kiddos do have play dates on occasion, but they are a big deal.  It takes a lot of effort for any of them to enjoy play dates because of their ASD and RAD.  Dinomite looks forward to them, and then doesn't want to have another for at least another month, because the process of playing, sharing, and not melting down was so hard for him.  Bulldozer enjoys them, but would rather play with Dinomite.  Princess is trying hard to make friends, but she struggles with it.  She has so many fears associated with play on top of the RAD behaviors, that makes the process incredibly hard.  Sunshine always prefers people over objects, but she's not appropriate with her boundaries.  When we do have play dates, they usually occur in place of family fun activities or Saturday afternoon activities.  Our developmental pediatrician taught us how to keep them structured and planned out, to help the kiddos cope.  Usually we try to go to a mutual place of interest, rather than our home, just because it's so much harder to share at home etc.  With that said, the kiddos have started to show interest in neighbors, and enjoy inviting them over to play in our backyard, when we're outside in the afternoons.

In regards to Dinomite's swim lessons, I have a firm belief that all kiddos need to learn to swim and ride a bike.  Our local YMCA offers swimming lessons for all kiddos who are 7 years of age for the entire year.  Dinomite is finally showing enough coordination skills and muscle development to conquer swimming this year.  When the other kiddos turn 7, I'm guessing they'll do the same thing.

8.  How do meal times work in your home?
Jason and I eat breakfast before the kiddos get up.  The kiddos are able to choose what they'd like for breakfast.  Lunch usually consists of left overs from dinner or something else very simple.  At dinner time I'm committed to making a meal that everyone can eat.  This is not an easy task with Bulldozer and Sunshine's allergies, but it's worth it.  For any who don't like it, (Dinomite), there is always an option of a peanut butter/sunbutter and jelly sandwich.  In our dining room we have a meal plan for the week written on a whiteboard.  In the kitchen, we have a monthly meal plan, that I create at the beginning of each month.

I love cooking and baking, except for in the summer.  Jason enjoys cooking as well.  So neither of us gets burned out, and so I can attend to other tasks at times, we rotate preparing dinner.  Ordering or eating out really isn't an option with all the food allergies and special needs.  After dinner, Jason and I rotate kitchen duty and bedtime routines with the girls.  The boys won't go to sleep for Jason.

9.  How do you find time for yourself?
I find that when I'm in need of a break from my kiddos, most times, if I spend more time with them doing something fun, the need passes. However, there are definitely times when I do need a break.  On those days, the minute Jason comes home, I leave, and return at bedtime.  I'll go out and meet a friend for dinner and/or errands, etc.  Saturday afternoons are some of my favorite times, as I'm able to be by myself for several hours, shopping for groceries, clothes, gifts, and other misc. items, running errands, and listening to some of my favorite radio shows on NPR.  As long as I have no expectations for anything to be accomplished while I'm gone, Jason can handle playing with the four kiddos for a few hours.  They look forward to this.  I find if I leave the house more often than once a week, it really throws the kiddos and their behaviors escalate.

10.  Do we really have it all together as it appears?
I always look at our schedule as the goal.  Sometimes we're running late.  Sometimes due to no sleep, I don't get anything done during those early morning hours, and I spend my Saturday afternoons catching up.  Sometimes we end up going to bed late, for various reasons, and that's okay.

I am surrounded by people in my house who crave and need very specific schedules and routines.  If they are not in place, others can't function, and so I'm not able to function.  At the same time, I am one who loves to be spontaneous.  I'm very social. I love traveling and going places.  In some instances, I've learned it's not worth it to try to force my kiddos and husband to do spontaneous things and be social.  The consequences are too serious.  However, in other cases, I push them along.  If I wake up and I feel we've been doing great at our schedules and routines, I may surprise everyone and say we're going to do something totally different today and have the energy to help them work through the change. When I get antsy for travel and new scenery, I figure out a way to fulfill that need for myself, even if it means going it alone with four special needs kiddos.  Usually we have a fabulous time.

The hardest day of the week for our family is Sunday.  It is always our goal to go to church, however this is much easier said than done.  If I know one of the kiddos is having a hard time and church will make it worse, we don't go.  If Princess' RAD behaviors and PTSD episodes are at a high, I don't chance taking her somewhere things will escalate.  Due to food allergies, we don't attend church on holidays.  Bulldozer and Sunshine would think nothing of someone giving them a special treat and eating it.  Then there are times we're on vacation or out of town.  We can't forget those Sundays when people are just sick.  On average, we make it to church about 2 times a month.  I hope that as they get older this will get better.

On a day to day basis, I do okay, however, I always feel behind in something.  Usually I'll focus on one or two things and let something else slide.  I work incredibly hard to chase away feelings of defeat if things don't go as planned, especially during times of increased anxiety, PTSD episodes, and RAD behaviors for the girls and meltdowns for the boys.  The hardest thing for me to realize for quite some time was that when our schedules and routines don't go as planned, it's not because I'm a bad person, or because I'm not trying hard enough.  Usually it's because of a situation or scenario, that's completely out of my control.  I try to remember that this too shall pass and we'll pick right back up where we left off, which we always have done.  I'm only one person, who can only do one thing at a time, who is just as human as everyone else.

I've tried to answer any questions I thought you may have, after taking a look at our schedule.  If you have others, please don't hesitate to ask in the form of a comment.  I will respond for you and future readers!

Book Review: I See. I Wonder. I Create. An Art Activity Book

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As many of you know, I work very closely with Anastasia from Montessori Nature in the blogging world.  She is an amazing person and dear friend.  It's rare that a day goes by that we don't chat with each other.  Working with her has made my blogging experience so much more enjoyable than I could have ever imagined.

Anastasia is very passionate about nature and art.  Her life experiences are very unique and definitely shaped her to be who she is today.  As her partner in crime, I had the privilege of previewing her very first book:  I See. I Wonder.  I Create.  An Art Activity Book, for free.  I did not know what to expect from this book.  Anastasia gave me no explanations ahead of time. 
When I looked through the book for the first time, I could read, see and feel Anastasia's deep love and appreciation for nature.  It was a sensory experience I could feel inside and out.  It was very easy for me to imagine many of the things I was invited to draw.  But, in all honesty, it didn't matter what I thought.  This book was designed for children. What mattered was what they thought.

I decided to put Anastasia's activity book to the test.  I didn't have to look far to find the most honest critics I know. After all, they live in my own home.  This would not be an honest review, if I didn't express my hesitancy and anxiety when presenting this activity to the kiddos.  You see, I'm not an art person.  I love nature, but I'm not one that puts the two together.  My kiddos enjoy nature, but are not artists either.  Between struggles with fine motor skills, attention deficit problems, defiance when asked to follow directions, and meltdowns when unable to complete a task to one's own standard of perfection, this activity had the potential to be a big fail.  But, I wanted to try.

I picked out pages from the book that I felt each of my kiddos would enjoy, and then presented them with the task.  It took a little more time than I would have thought, for them to understand the process of closing their eyes and imagining something, but two of them have autism, so that would be difficult, especially if it's not something they're obsessed about, that's in their minds all the time. Even to tease those obsessions out was hard work.  Once they succeeded at closing their eyes and imagining, I had to explain to them that they needed to open their eyes before they started drawing their pictures.  Lol  It was a fun process, but they learned something new, and that was fabulous!

Each of the kiddos took a different approach to their task.  Princess, age 4, simply colored her picture.  
Princess' work.
 Bulldozer, age 5 (with autism) thoroughly enjoyed making his spider web, although he decided it needed a spider, and then the spider needed to catch some food in his web.  I loved how he just kept imagining things.
Bulldozer's work.
 Dinomite, age 7, (with autism) struggled at first, insecure about his abilities, but then did an AMAZING job drawing different objects in his fossil rocks.  In fact, he ran out of room.  This didn't stop him from drawing one more thing.
All of the kiddos did such a fabulous job!  The boys, especially surprised me with their overall demeanor and enjoyment with the activity.

I love that this book, as simple as it is, invited us into another world.  This was HUGE for my kiddos.  We've all enjoyed nature around us, but to be able to imagine something not in front of us, and how it would look, is something we don't do enough.  Completing the art activities in this book is not just about drawing or coloring, but encouraging your child to go to a place, children so rarely go these days.

I highly recommend this book for kiddos of all ages.  If my young special needs kiddos can do it, anyone can!  Thank you Anastasia for giving my kiddos and me such a transforming experience.

If you're interested in experiencing what our family did with this great book, please visit Montessori Nature to purchase your own copy.

Kids Learning Printables Linky Party #14

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Co-host:   Montessori Nature

This week at our house, we've been trying to get back into a routine for the new year.  The kiddos and I are all adjusting to our new schedule and so excited about new changes still yet to come.  I find it easier to take baby steps when making changes that will effect the entire family.

I was so delighted to see our linky party growing!  There were so many great printables shared.  As the new year starts, I'm trying to make some changes at Every Star Is Different also.  My Kids Learning Printables  Linky Party posts are not bringing in an audience for those being featured, like I would like.  I want everyone to know about your great printables.  Starting next week, you'll be noticing a few additions to the linky party posts in hopes that they will attract a bigger audience.  After all, YOU deserve a bigger audience.  Thank you so much for linking up your great printables!

Here are my features for the week:
 1.  Student Calendar from A is for Adventures of Homeschool.


3.  Tanogram Inspired Shape Puzzles for Toddlers from Totschooling.

4. Squigz Building Cards from Memorizing the Moments.

5.  Watermelon Do-a-Dot Printables from Gift of Curiosity.


Here's how this works!

You:
1.  Link up to 3 educational printables for kiddos.  Free, paid, and giveaway printables are welcome.
2.  Add our Kids Learning Printables Linky Party Button to your post or blog.
3.  Support your fellow educators by commenting, pinning, and/or sharing the post published before yours.
4.  If you're not already doing so, follow me on FacebookPinterest, Twitter, and/or through my blog.
5.  You give me permission to use and repost images from your blog.

Me:
1.  Visit all posts.
2.  Share and pin as many links as possible throughout the week.
2.  Feature my favorite posts in next week's link up.
3.  Get to know you, your blog, and your printables for future use.

Let's get this party started!
Every Star Is Different

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20+ Spelling Activities for Those Who Despise Spelling


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I have a daughter who absolutely loves reading, writing, spelling, and every language activity I throw at her.  Then I have my two boys.  I'll give one some credit, he does enjoy reading.  But when it comes to writing, spelling, and every other language activity, the boys DESPISE them!  This is no understatement. In fact if anything, the word isn't strong enough.  When we first started our homeschooling journey, I tried drilling spelling words into their heads, and giving them spelling tests.  COMPLETE FAIL.  I stopped and decided to just let them learn naturally.  This didn't work either.  Dinomite would cry and tantrum for over an hour if he had to write anything, in part because he didn't know how to spell and as a kiddo with ASD he wasn't great at sounding out words.  Over the course of our last school year I created some different spelling activities to put on our shelves in hopes that they would learn spelling.  They became a weekly thing.  Surprisingly, my boys loved them and actually started fighting over them, when my daughter was using them.  Dinomite's writing has improved so much!  Bulldozer's reading abilities have soared.  Princess' abilities astound me.  I thought I'd share in hopes that these ideas may help some other struggling mother or teacher out there. 
Homemade Montessori Movable Alphabet Spelling Activity
This activity comes from my Life At Sea: Week 1 Unit.
The kiddos select letters to spell words shown on picture cards.  I provided a control card with the words, so Dinomite wouldn't freak out if he couldn't sound a word out.  There are many ways to create a Montessori Movable Alphabet.  You can use foam, wooden, or magnetic letters.  If you have the funds, order a real set.

Update (11/8/14):
The Real Montessori Movable Alphabet Spelling Activity
This activity comes from my The Wizard of Oz Unit w/ Free Printables.
Last month we purchased a real Montessori Movable Alphabet.  OH! MY GOODNESS!  It was so worth the money!  

Cookie Cutter & Play Dough Spelling Activity
This activity comes from my Christmas Unit: The Nutcracker.
Play dough is always a fun way to learn anything.  Make it more fun by changing it's color, texture, scent, etc.  Bulldozer is a HUGE fan of this spelling activity!

Scrabble Letter Spelling Word Activity
This activity came from my Christmas Unit: A Christmas Carol.
I found an old Scrabble game at the local thrift store for $2.  We've had so much fun with it!  All of the kiddos are fabulous at this activity.

Writing in Shaving Cream Spelling Activity
This activity comes from my Winter Unit.
If your kiddos love to get messy, writing in shaving cream is loads of fun.  Be aware of any sensitivities to smell your kiddos may have, as the activity can get very smelly.  Personally, I enjoy using whipped cream better, but it dissolves much quicker than shaving cream, so you end up using more.

Sugar Cube Spelling Word Activity
This activity is from my Extreme Weather Conditions Week 1:  Avalanches, Blizzards, & Ice Storms.
Creating spelling words out of anything can be fun. We use sugar cubes here.  Marshmallows and so many other things that don't roll around work great.  Don't forget LEGO bricks as a possibility.  This activity can be difficult for kiddos without a word template, so if you notice your kiddo becoming frustrated, help them, or provide a template for them to lay their items on.

Spelling Word Sensory Bin
This activity comes from my Extreme Weather Conditions Unit:  Hurricanes & Tornadoes.

This was by far my favorite spelling activity to create.  I just LOVED how it turned out.  The kiddos search for letters to spell their words in the sensory bin.  Bulldozer had so much fun with this, although I would recommend starting out with a smaller sensory bin, as one this large can be a little overwhelming.
This activity comes from my Memorial Day Unit 2.
This is another example of a Spelling Word Sensory Bin.  I made this one much smaller so the pieces were easier to find.

Build a Word Spelling Activity
This activity comes from my Chinese New Year & Extreme Weather Unit:  Earthquakes & Volcanoes.
In this particular activity the kiddos were building dragons as part of their Chinese New Year celebration.  They colored a head and tail, and then created spelling words with letters provided to go in between. The dragons turned out absolutely adorable.

Break the Ice Spelling Activity
This activity comes from my 2014 Winter Olympics Unit.
My kiddos love the game Break the Ice.  This game is so easy to adapt for fun learning activities.  In this instance the kiddos choose a spelling word and tap out the letters.  Their goal is to NOT "break the ice."  Bulldozer and Dinomite had challenges to see how many words they could poke out before the ice fell.  I've seen people put stickers on game pieces before, but erasable markers work fabulous!

Candy Spelling Activity
This activity comes from my Valentine's Day in Paris Unit.
My kiddos will do anything for treats.  All of them thoroughly enjoyed this way of practicing their spelling words.  Who wouldn't enjoy making words using candy?  The only thing to be careful of here is food allergies.  You'll notice allergy friendly chocolate chips in a second bowl for Bulldozer to use.

Letter Scramble Spelling Activity Option 1
This activity comes from my Black History Month Unit.
The kiddos use the dot marker to dot the matching spelling of the word above the picture.  All of the kiddos enjoy this, although it is tricky for them sometimes.

Letter Scramble Spelling Activity Option 2
This activity comes from my Australia Unit.
If you or your kiddos don't like dot markers, use a small stamp instead!

Letter Scramble Spelling Activity Option 3
This activity comes from my Dinosaur Unit.
When I don't feel like mess, my kiddos have also used glass beads as markers for this spelling activity.

Window Writing Spelling Activity
This activity comes from my St. Patrick's Day Unit.
My kiddos don't enjoy writing, but if I give them window markers and let them write on the windows, that's another story! They LOVE this!  It's a great occupational therapy activity for them too.

Letter Cracker Spelling Activity
This activity comes from my In the Kitchen Unit Part 1.
Alphabet crackers, cookies, cereal, or pasta can be used for this activity.  No matter what you choose, make sure you have enough on hand so kiddos can treat themselves after each word they spell.  The only struggle we have with this activity is meeting the food allergy needs of all the kiddos in our house.

Pudding Spelling Activity
In the Kitchen Unit Part 2
Instant pudding is easy to make and comes in lots of scents and flavors.  Your kiddos can help you prepare it if you're willing to have them.  Once it's set, pour some on a cookie sheet and let them practice their spelling.  It's always great fun to make activities edible.

Chalkboard Spelling Activity
This activity comes from my Rocks & Minerals Unit.
Using chalk is special thing in our house.  My allergies do not react well to it.  So, when it does show up on our shelves, it's a big deal. 

Glitter & Glue Spelling Activity
This activity comes from my All American Summer Unit: The United States of America.
If your kiddo loves glitter and glue, this is a fabulous spelling activity.  Write the letters with glue and then pour on the glitter.  We used a small bin for emptying glitter, and voila!  The kiddos were so proud of their words.  This is also a great way to practice handwriting for those who don't like writing!

Pipecleaner Spelling Activity
Have kiddos shape pipe cleaners into letters.  Beware, if you kiddo struggles with fine motor skills, they may struggle with this activity.  I've only used it once to create numbers, and my kiddos became too frustrated with it.

Geoboard Spelling Activity
This is on my list of things to try when I get the chance.  The board must be large enough to create the words.

Stamping Spelling Activity
This activity comes from my American Football Unit w/ Free Printables.

Whether you use ink, play dough, or something else, the stamps will work great!

Alphabet Bead Spelling Activity
This activity comes from my Mermaid Unit w/ Free Printables.
Stringing beads can be so much fun, especially if you're spelling words at the same time.  For those that are just learning to spell, you may just want to include the beads needed to make the words on your list. For those who are a little more advanced, just include a handful of beads and let them sort through them.

Lego Letter Spelling Activity
If you have LEGO lovers at your house, anything to do with LEGO will work.  If you have duplos with letters, use them.  If your kiddo is super creative, have them create their own letters, or use this fabulous template from Wild Flower Ramblings.  The sky is the limit with LEGO.


Update (11/8/14):
Magic Mirror Spelling
Working with mirrors in the classroom can be so much fun. In this activity the kiddos must hold the card up to the mirror, to discover the spelling word on the card.  (Words have been spelled backwards so they can't read them without using the mirror. See post for details.)  Once they can identify the word, they write it on the mirror using the appropriate markers.

If you have another fabulous spelling activity for those who despise spelling, please share in a comment.  Every kiddo is different so it's always fun to see what others are doing!

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