Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Our New Nature Study Group

Before I became an unschooler, I often wondered about some of my unschooling friends.  The children played in the mud. They played in the creek. They played on the trampoline. They played with us in the middle of the week . . .  I didn't get it. Didn't they have books to study and worksheets to fill out? Didn't they ever learn?  

But now that I understand more about what unschooling is, I get it.  You learn through playing, and learning happens throughout the day, at any given moment.  Children immerse themselves in the world and learning happens naturally. There's no need to force it or push a schedule.  Learning, as it often happens for us, happens at 9 or 10pm, as we're winding down our day by looking up things we learned in our current read-a-loud, like when we learned about Pompeii or the Great Chicago Fire.  Or when we looked up an antique auction because Paddington Bear had gone to one and we just had to see it in action.  Or when . . .

You get the picture.  

For us, we go out and explore.  Play.  Read.  Hike.  Study our surroundings.  We form questions about what we see or hear. Then we take those questions and research them on the computer.  We've answered a lot of questions recently, and none of them were through a textbook.


After resigning my nannying job in March, things got a little lonely around here.  It was just me and my boys.  I loved it so much, but often times I craved a couple of more kids for us to play with.  My boys eventually formed a few relationships with some preschoolers a couple houses away.  The problem is, they go to school, and aren't available to play until they get home.  

I love being with my boys and bonding with them.  But I get lonely too.  I love interacting with other moms.  

Back to my unschooling friends who never stopped playing to learn a thing.  Those friends created a nature study group in my area a few years ago.  Problem was I wasn't an unschooler at the time, and never joined.  And they meet at the exact same time every week, a time that I'm unavailable to meet.  

Now that I'm an unschooler, I loved the idea of having a nature study group.  A nature study group that immerses themselves in nature together, sharing knowledge about the things we find.  

I joined a few Facebook homeschooling groups in my area.  I then asked if anyone was interested in a nature group.  So many people responded!  I created a group and set up an event, hoping and praying that this idea wasn't crazy.  

It wasn't.  

Over 60 members are in the nature study group, and we had one successful event, though only a few of those 60 came.  And that's okay!  It was great!

My baby just wanted to sit and enjoy the sand.  He was not happy we kept moving!

Frog eggs

Beaver's live here, and we can see a beaver den on the right.  However, we haven't spotted any of the large rodents, but the boys sure were looking!

A beautiful blue heron flew onto to pond!

This guy was crossing the street.  The kids scared the pee outta him :D

The boys (because there were no girls on our hike today!) all gathered around the "hugging" turtles.  :D

This week, I took a risk.  I created a nature study group with local strangers. And a few of us banded together today.  And it felt great.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Spreading My Wings

I haven't blogged in a year.  And so much has changed this year, but mostly since March.  You see, I have entirely transformed my homeschool.  

Several weeks ago my husband and I went on a cruise.  And with every vacation, I re-evaluate my homeschool approach.  I read.  And read.  And read some more.  I discovered unschooling, and what it meant to so many people.  And then, I really dove into the topic.

My oldest son can't focus for more than a few minutes at a time.  More specifically, he can't focus on worksheets for more than a few minutes at a time.  Some homeschool days were pure torture because he couldn't get his work done.  

But after researching unschooling, it dawned on me that Joshua wasn't a problem child.  He just wasn't interested in worksheets because they bored him.  


He was bored!?

There was no medical diagnosis for him- although I'm positive the ADHD label would be slapped on him so fast.  He just needed a different approach to school.  

Unschooling sounded like a dream, staying outside and learning, studying our interests.  No pressure to succeed at a standard curriculum because my sons and I decide what we want to learn. 

And just like that, I came home from vacation and shredded his remaining language, phonics, and penmanship worksheets.  I kept his math and spelling.  When your son can read the Bible, an 8th grade level Book, he does not need phonics instructions!  When he knows how to write in cursive, he doesn't need copy work that doesn't mean a wit to him.  When he could care less about copying random sentences just to learn that each sentence must start with a capital letter and end with a period, he doesn't need language worksheets.  He also doesn't need someone to tell him what stories to write.  How uninspiring!  

We kept math and finished out our curriculum.  We began doing our own writing assignments.  Learning suddenly become so much more fun.

I am not a radical unschooler.  Not yet anyway.  But I'm still learning.

A few weeks after the cruise my husband remodeled our kitchen COMPLETELY.  He sent me and the kids to the Shenandoah Valley for a week.

It. Was. Life. Changing.

Our school year's curriculum was complete, so I was free to start seeing how unschooling really worked for us.  Every morning we lounged around until the sun came out and the pool opened 😄. We swam, came home and got in the jacuzzi.  Then, we'd eat, play some more, and nap. And then we'd play some more, and bathe again.  It was a glorious week.

We ventured to the "playground" on that first Saturday.  But do you know what we found???

A creek.  A CREEK!!  Who wants to play on the playground when you can splash in a waterfall???  It was 90 degrees, and we were in Heaven.

Through the course of the week the kids climbed trees, threw rocks in the water, made friends, and found tadpoles.  We also learned about the water cycle because the creek had dried up, trapping a fishy downstream away from his mate.  Joshua worked alongside the kindest man I'd ever met, working to get that waterfall flowing again to rescue that fish.  There was just so so much learning going on.  I won't write out a list of everything because I fear people do that out of guilt, as if they have to prove to people their children are smart even though they're unschooled.  We have nothing to prove to anybody.  But I have never looked at nature this way, at PLAY this way.  Playing is learning.  And when I backed up and let the children roam free through the woods and creek and playground, they learned far more than I ever could have taught them, far more than I even know.  You see, children are just as smart- or smarter- than adults.  We might have wisdom, but they are incredibly intelligent beings that deserve our trust.

I'm ashamed it has taken me 7 years to learn this.

But learned it, I have.  And when you learn something, you act upon it.  And so here I am, totally in awe of my child. I have found I'm totally smitten with this independent, creative, sweet, intelligent child.  I will not force him to sit at the table for hours every day to do worksheets.  He doesn't have a disease or a problem because he can't or won't focus on that activity.  That lifestyle is not for him, for us.  We crave freedom.  And we will get an education based on that freedom.

Here are some shots of the children roaming free and learning through play.

I hope you enjoyed this post.  Looking forward to sharing our unschooling journey with you.  

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

8 FREE Bingo Boards, plus lots of new Youtube videos!

Hi, Friends!

It has been a long time since I've blogged!  But after experiencing a bit of mom burn out (you too, huh?), I remembered that I need time for ME.  And for me, that's creating!  Sometimes I sew.  Sometimes I cook.  Sometimes I write music or books.  But lately, I've been creating free printables for YOU.  

I can't just sit around and make myself happy.  I'm not happy unless I'm serving others in some way shape or form!  And friends, that means I'm here to serve YOU.  

Lots of things are happening behind the scenes of Training Treasures.  My baby and middle boy are both getting ready to have birthdays!  Colin will be 4 in November.  Oliver will be 1 in December.  (Insert tears here!).  That means my middle boy will be in K5 next year, albeit homeschooled.  And my baby will be walking around the New Year!  It is so fun being a mom!

As for me, I'm as busy as can be serving as the music director of my church.  I am in charge of a LOT, and although the first part of the year had me in tears over this huge responsibility (on top of mothering three small boys), I've adjusted just fine.  I've even been taking piano courses and teaching the piano.  One of my students is a very special 6-yr old boy dear to my heart . . . 

I have recently begun videoing more of our homeschool day.  I have really enjoyed keeping a "homeschool diary", if you will, about our life.  Please follow me on my YouTube Chanel!  I want everyone to get to know me and my boys and be encouraged in your journey!  We are NOT experts, but just fun loving people who want to connect with the world.  I recently made a video on How I Taught my 3-yr olds to Read.  Just like any mom, I recorded the video in secret as I hid from my children . . .  Haha!  Two were sleeping, and one was very curious about what I was saying behind my closed bedroom door.  :)  I am very flawed and down to earth.  Hopefully these videos will make you feel a bit more human!  You might enjoy the part in my video where I couldn't even remember the address to my blog . . . :)

I've also just posted our first video of our week in review.  Follow me and my boys in our wonderful (and oh so messy) homeschool journey!  In this video I show clips of highlights from our week including our trip to the pumpkin patch, pureeing 20 bags (40 cups) of pumpkin, and a reward trip to the park (which includes my son chasing the ducks!)  I try to keep things interesting, light, funny, and inspiring.  Watch us in action here!

Also, I will be recording videos of our monthly large library hauls.  My older boys are ages 3 and 6, so if you have young readers, follow us as we share our favorite books that we are using in our homeschool!  There is one awesome picture book I feature in this video that you don't want to miss.  Make sure you comment below or on my Youtube channel and let me know which picks are also your favorites!  We cover about 80 books in this video.  

As my husband suggested, I am going to slip a link in my blog posts where anyone can donate money for the work of this blog.  I would rather offer free printables that people WILL use rather than offer things for sale that just sit there and help absolutely no one.  And I'd love to keep my website ad free.  I hate ads!  If you have been blessed in any way shape or form by the services I've offered on this blog, you may want to send a monetary gift my way.  If so, that would be most appreciated!  I love what I do and am looking forward to helping others educate their little ones.

Today, I am offering a special game for you to play with your emergent reader.  It is called Color Bingo.  There is an easy version (made specifically with three-yr olds in mind), and a more difficult version.  My three-yr old loves to fill up his entire game board.  We skip all the Bingo rules and just play until every space is covered!  The more advanced version includes 11 colors, and several of them are repeated multiple times.  For both games, I used pretty graphics I found on TpT, but tried to keep everything simple yet pleasing to the eye.  I wanted my son to be able to focus on the colors and not be distracted by the objects.  

Here's what I LOVE about Color Bingo:

1) Easy to play.  Draw a card.  Have your child read the color word (or read it to them and have them repeat after you).  Then, place a gem or rock on the picture that is the same color they drew.  Once they fill a row (diagonally, veritcally, or horizontally), they call out Bingo!  Reward winners with a treat if you wish!

2) You're drilling your child via flashcards and they don't even know it!

3) Low cost!  Simply print the Bingo pages on cardstock.  You can even print double sided to save on paper cost!  Slip into a page protector.  I didn't even laminate the Bingo cards themselves.  I figure if they get ruined, it's easy and cheap enough to print another copy.  Print three copies of the advanced Bingo word cards, and one of the sets of cards for the easy version.

4) Can be used to teach color recognition.  If your child can't read yet, or if you have children of multiple ages, this freebie can teach colors and color words.  Simply call out the color word to your child, and have them find the correct color on their Bingo board. 

5) It really works!  My three-yr old is picking up on those color words!  It won't be too long before he's mastered these words.

Visit my TpT store and download the beginner version here, and/or the advanced version here.  

I'll be back with more freebies soon!  I have some more reading games up my sleeve!

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Saturday, April 30, 2016

CVC Tic-Tac-Toe Bundle

It has been a long time since I've blogged.  Not because I don't want to.  I honestly just don't have the energy or the time these days, what with my nannying job, homeschooling 2, plus my four-month-old baby.  Oh, and can't forget the hours of piano playing I do.  Yes, hours.  Every.  Single.  Day.  Usually about two, but four if I'm buried beneath sheet music, and having a blast all the while!  I've also started teaching my five-year old how to play, and that has been fun!  My three boys will learn how to play.  They don't have a choice in the matter!  :)

Anyway, I got off work a little early on Friday and was surprisingly caught up on my piano playing.  That meant I had time to print some new homeschooling resources, and make a few new Tic-Tac-Toe board games.  Let me tell you, I haven't had time to touch my computer, let alone make homeschooling resources for MONTHS.  I've been simply using resources from Teachers Pay Teachers.  Thanks to anyone who has ever given away free resources!!!

If you are teaching a child or multiple children how to read, these Tic-Tac-Toe games are a life saver!  Your little one will be learning how to read in no time!  My son is three and we spend an hour every day playing reading games or taking turns reading books.  

Even though I didn't teach my oldest with reading games, he still loves to read. Today we went to the library and I went down each shelf, realizing that he has read EVERYTHING.  No kidding.  He has read all of the books that are on his level and lower, and that he would be interested in.  I had to go home and research on the library's website, finding books that he can read but aren't on the shelves.  That was an unexpected but GLORIOUS problem!  

I bundled 16 different Tic-Tac-Toe games in BW and Color, and they are for sale in my TpT store here for only $3.  

This week, my three and I will be playing lots of fun FREE games I got from TpT.  They are:

Rainbow Ride CVC Game
Roll and Read CVC
CVC Short A Bingo
I Have, Who Has, Color Words
And my FAVORITE: Pirates!  This one is very versatile.  I will be using this one download to play War, Go Fish, Memory, AND the game included.

Thank you!  May God bless you in your dedication to raising the next generation!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

6 Free Short A Tic Tac Toe Games- Color and BW

Where oh where have I gone?  That is the question!

My little babe is now 11 weeks old and sleeping through the night!  Woo hoo!  He is so cuddly, content, and smiley- just as much as my other two were!  Although, he is much more cuddly I think!  

It has been a busy month for us.  I have healed almost 100% from my c-section and have been doing my normal intense but short workouts (kettlebells, sprinting).  Although I can fit back into most of my pre-pregnancy clothes, I still have the mommy belly and about 15 extra pounds.  The pounds can stay or not, but the belly has to go!  That, however, will take a long time to condition.  And that's okay.  :)

We are a couple weeks out from a trip to Disney World.  I.  Can.  Not.  WAIT.  I need a vacation.  

And I'll tell you why.

I learned to play the piano about 10 years ago (I think?).  I've been playing for church for about 8 years.  And now I've been bumped to lead pianist at our church.  Although I absolutely love to serve in the piano ministry, it is a huge responsibility.  To whom much is given, much is required- and I feel the weight of this ministry more than you can imagine.  I just had a new baby.  I am homeschooling 2 little ones.  I babysit in the evenings and on non-school days.  I attend church on Wednesday evenings (choir practice, that I'm now playing for) and on Thursdays evenings for visitation.  That means I don't even go home after work on those days, plus on other days when we have special meetings (next Friday!).  I have to get food on the go for the kids and I (McDonalds), and then come home to put the three littles in bed.  It is a bit stressful for me, all this running around.  But then, juggling practicing the piano?  That's a tough one.  I might love to play, but I'm no composer.  I have to work at it.  And practice.  And practice.  And practice.  I practice at 6am, 10am, and 12pm every day.  I have called on many people to pray for me.  I need that prayer.  And it has truly helped me come leaps and bounds in my playing.  

Sadly, blogging has taken the back burner for now.  I really felt like God wanted me to blog.  I know people need help educating their littles, and that is my gift.  The piano playing is something I do, but it is not what I'm best at.  But it is my biggest ministry, aside from raising my three boys to love the Lord.  

I'm not disappearing completely.  I just need a bit of time to get a handle on all of this new responsibility.

I'll leave you with a fun freebie for teaching short a words- 6 colored and black and white tic tac toe board games!  My 3-yr-old loves to read the whole board (cheat) and place all of his game pieces everywhere, not leaving me a turn!  Fine by me!  He's reading!  Download it from my TpT store here.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

A Homeschool Confession and 2 New YouTube Videos

If you didn't know, I don't get paid one cent for this blog.  I have 0 ads (I hate them), and I don't do affiliate links or posts (I hate those too).  That's not to say I won't ever go that route, but for now, I don't do this for the money.  I blog because I have a burden, a passion for home education. Homeschooling is not easy, and I think there are many parents who want to homeschool but don't have the resources, or the confidence. Homeschooling is not for everyone, but I think that more people could do it if they had a little guidance and help.

Last spring I was in tears, begging God to help me homeschool.  I was teaching my son, but it was a nightmare. God kept telling me to homeschool, but I was failing at it.  I was ruining my child's spirit while educating him.  And yet, I was determined to keep going, and to make it work.  Nothing was going to make me back down.  

We took a break from homeschool over the summer.  I purchased curriculum.  I was pregnant.  I prayed and prayed. I followed dozens of homeschool blogs. All of those factors totally revamped our homeschool, and it became a joy last fall.  It wasn't, and isn't, perfect.  But it is enjoyable.

I know I'm not the only one with this kind of a story.  I know I'm not the only one who struggled with homeschool.  I know that there are women who did exactly what I almost did- gave up- because that was honestly the best thing for their child. Kids love school when they are little.  It is fun!  So why not send them if they're miserable at home?

I'm sad that I created some horrible homeschool memories with my son.  I don't know that I'll ever forgive myself!  But I do know that "all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28).  I know that despite my mistakes, I can use them for God's glory, and help others in their homeschool journey.

If you didn't know, I have a YouTube channel.  It isn't much just yet, but I hope it will be in time.  I have a few videos with teaching phonics.  I uploaded two videos last week.  One is a very-pregnant me playing a game I learned during the library's story time called Hickity Pickity.  You can play this game ANYWHERE and with anything- letters, numbers, blends, words.  The kids love it!  Watch it here. The second video can be found here, and it demonstrates how we sing the blend ladders.  The kids LOVE this!  You use the same tune to sing all of the blends.  

Teaching a child how to read can be intimidating.  My oldest son was ready to read when he was 2, yet I waited a whole year before tackling the task.  I didn't know where to start! I'm currently writing a post about how I taught my children to read, and the goal is to create a video as well.  Stay tuned for those!

And for those of you wondering, we got almost 3 feet of snow- over 29 inches!  Yes, I shoveled all through the blizzard (I was the only one on my street doing that).  I had to shovel in between caring for the kids, but I did it!  I managed to shovel my husband's side of the driveway.  It only took 3 days to do it, and my neighbor helped me at the end.  But my husband bought me flowers to thank me :)  I finally saw him after 3 days!  :D  

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Friday, January 22, 2016

Free Subtraction Mats and Cards!

If your kids were like mine they loved the addition mats and cards.  Although I made multiplication mats and cards, my little guys aren't able to multiply just yet (but I made the games and filed them away for future use).  And now, just like I promised, I have made subtraction mats and cards too- but with different themes to keep things interesting! The subtraction facts covered are:

  • subtracting one and two (mat 1)  
  • subtracting three and four (mat 2)  
  • subtracting from the numbers ten and nine (mat 3)
  • subtracting from eleven and twelve (mat 4)  
  • subtracting from thirteen and fourteen (mat 5)
  • subtracting from fifteen and sixteen (mat 6)
Whether your child is in kindergarten, first, or second grade; there is something here for them.  Download the subtraction mats here for free.

The mats consist of one large grid, with each mat having a different theme.  The themes are spring time, barbecue/picnic, camping, flowers, kids, and beach.   Inside each square is a cute clipart with an answer to a subtraction problem (the difference).  On the page following each mat is another large grid with one image to match the theme and a subtraction problem.

Just print (I did mine double sided) on cardstock and slip into a page protector.  Then, print (not double sided!), laminate, and cut out the subtraction problems.  Your student or child will then match the subtraction problems to the differences.  Enjoy!

I'd love to keep my website ad free.  I hate ads!  If you have been blessed in any way shape or form by the services I've offered on this blog, you may want to send a monetary gift my way.  If so, that would be most appreciated!  I love what I do and am looking forward to helping others educate their little ones.

On a personal note, I am quite serious when I say that I live very, very close to D.C.- which means I am expected to get over 2 feet of snow this weekend.  In all of my 30 years, I have never heard a forecast like this for my state!  On Wednesday, a dusting crippled the highways, leaving people stuck in traffic for several hours.  No, I'm not kidding.  I don't drive in the snow.  End of statement.  

The Kindles are charged so the kids aren't burning down the house while I'm out shoveling the snow. Daddy will be sleeping at work, as he does snow removal.  I'm very nervous about this blizzard.  I'd rather not lose power, and I don't know how shoveling is going to go, since I am now just 6 weeks out from my c-section. My neighbors ALWAYS shovel for EVERYONE they can, including me.  But, since they are calling for 2 feet of snow, I think everyone is going to be struggling just to get their own driveways and sidewalks done. My husband told me to leave the snow for him, but I'm a hard worker.  I want to please my husband and serve him as best as I can! He has chronic back pain, plus a huge property to shovel during the blizzard.  I will do everything I can to hold down the fort while he's gone.  Luckily there is a neighbor down the street who has a snow blower and makes his rounds through the neighborhood. The path he takes does half of my sidewalks.  And guess what?  I have a new single neighbor next door.  I think I'll be chatting with him for the first time this weekend.  ;)  I have lots of desserts to bake for anyone who helps!  Wish me luck!  And if you're near this blizzard, enjoy the family time!  I'm looking forward to building some snowmen with my boys!

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