This is what I have been doing.

The funny thing is that I have seven kids, and before this week I had never dyed pasta with food coloring before.  But it’s “N” week for my co-op preschool class and we are going to string necklaces.  I debated calling the noodles “macaroni” and using them for “M” week, but noodle necklaces have the double “N” and I think that really works better.

This homeschool co-op and my little preschool class have really taken over my brain and much of my time since we began last fall.  In almost eight years of homeschooling, we’ve never participated in something like this and it’s been quite an adjustment.  I am hoping that eventually the getting prepared, going to, and then recovering from co-op, will stop feeling like quite such an ordeal at some point.  But then, it might not.  On co-op day we have to be up a couple of hours earlier than usual, not to mention out the door with books, pencils, snacks, lunches, decent clothing, and tidy hair.

And then there are my preschool supplies, mainly art supplies and Montessori inspired activities that I tote in bins to and from co-op each week.  To give myself some structure I am following, or rather creating, a letter of the week plan.  I make this slightly funny bulletin board up each week to support that.  Each week I print up coloring pages, and then I color them.  (Yes, I realize that there is something a little ridiculous about that.)  Next up they get laminated and pinned to my cork board.  There was a novelty to all that coloring at first, but it quickly wore off.  But what am I going to do?  I don’t have a color printer, and the kids really like my boards!  It’s the same every week: the letter itself, a letter themed coloring page from this site, a Jan Brett letter tracing page, a seek and find (the kids LOVE these), and a saint whose name begins with the letter.  I started out very ambitious, coloring one of the beautiful iconic style saints from this amazing stained glass saint coloring book each week. That took awhile though, and I’ve started laminating pages from this Alphabet of Catholic Saints instead, because our copy is falling apart anyway.

I try to find an open ended or process based art activity for each week that begins with our letter.  It hasn’t totally worked out though because I can’t always think of something.  For instance, letters “J” and “K” were combined in one week and while I have some ideas now for next year, I couldn’t think of anything at the time.  A friend told me that we should just do “Jrawing with Kulors” and I’d be fine.  I think that’s about what we did.  Thankfully, the kids love it when I supply them with simple blank notecards, scissors, tape, stickers, and some sort of crayons or colored pencil, often crayon rocks,which they love.  (Look-there’s a special Valentine’s day box of them!)

Anyway, this is what I have been doing:  coloring, making play dough, choosing books to read to the kids, and all sorts of preschool-y things while wondering just how to fit it all in along with everything else that makes up our days.  It’s good though; I think this is all very good, and just what I am supposed to be doing right now.


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  4. Stephanie says:

    Can another parent from the co-op help with the coloring or bulletin board stuff? Or you have a group here, if you planned in advance, I bet you find people volunteer to color one page! (sjn821 on Rav)

  5. We are in our second year of a homeschool co-op & I can tell you I still find it exhausting!
    It’s wonderful and fulfilling but tuckers me right out.
    I do feel I have built up some stamina, but I still need a full day afterward (maybe 2) to recover.
    We meet 2-3 days a week which really keeps up the momentum during the week.
    Looks like you are doing a wonderful job and having fun with it.
    You’re a treasure.

  6. How fun! (Well, not the busy-ness, but the co-op sounds really neat and you are the perfect one to participate). What if you printed off some colored letters and let the kids color them in? I guess it would take some work because you’d have to know what letter you needed, but maybe if you let each kid color a different letter and then just saved them to use when you needed the specific letter? Just an idea 🙂

  7. Oh girl. I feel you on this. We started Classical Conversations this year- our first time do anything in our 7 years of homeschooling. It has just about kicked my tail! I am teaching and I find that all of my time I would generally use to plan for my kids, I’m planning for our community day. It’s been a huge adjustment for me. But we really do enjoy it! It’s just very different in implementation and even philosophy from anything we’ve ever done. It sounds like you are doing a great job! Hang in there!

  8. J is for jewelry, jam, jumpingjacks
    K is for kittens made out of pussywillows, kites, kings
    sounds like you are having fun!!!
    here’s a nice valentine’s seed project:

    happy day!

  9. J is for junk modelling,K is for kite! O for owls, P for penquins, Q for Queen of England, R for rubbish, S for snake, T for tractor, U for umbrellas, V for vans, W for water, OK so I run out for X, Y for yaughts, Z for zoo.
    I loved my time a s a preschool teacher. Can you tell!

  10. Sounds like your hubby needs a color printer for his birthday;]

  11. Bless your heart Ginny. I’d be pulling my hair out just trying to homeschool one child let alone 7; and then all you do for Co-op day too – you deserve a Gold Medal.

  12. I teach preschool art at my homeschool co-op here in Washington too! Boy, is it a lot of work but fun. I only have five to get out the door but with three of them preschool age it’s still hard. I am trying to focus on the art process and not the finally product of our art classes. Last week we did straw painting but it sort of turned into finger painting. That was okay. But messy. We actually just got home from co-op 5 minutes ago. On co-op day I need an hour of alone, quiet time to recover and so I’ve locked myself in my room with a cup of coffee to read your blog and work on my new tea label design. Happy week to you Ginny!

  13. J is also good for Jell-o if you want to do some cooking or make Jell-o wigglers. K is good for kites and you can make them pretty easily with pre-schoolers. Just don’t expect them to fly very far. Yes, I used to teach this age along with Special Needs kids. We did a lot with books and acting them out. And, pre-schoolers love Chicka-Chicka Boom Boom!

  14. I have two pre-schoolers and am wondering what your input is on the order of teaching the alphabet? Do you go in order from A,B,C… each week or do you prefer to “skip” around the alphabet? I’ve seen it done both ways. I hope this even makes sense ha!

  15. If my 3yo daughter could join your class, I’d sign her up in heartbeat! What a great post, Ginny, thank you. I bet your little students love you.

  16. Ginny, That all looks so great!! Thank you for sharing with us! Your pictures are so beautiful! I’ve been doing a letter of the week for my daughter’s home school kindergarten year and we’ve been following Elizabeth Foss’s alphabet path : It is literature based and she has fun ideas for letter themed activities and even snacks!

  17. How lovely! Photos and activities like this are what make me wish I could homeschool (not exactly illegal where I live, but enough red tape to make it practically so). Enjoy!

  18. If you do it again you can make jelly sandwiches for J. In my experience pre schoolers love the chance to make their own sandwich! K you can make crowns for Kings. Especially good if you can time around Epiphany. I love this type of activity feel free to email me if you get stuck on any others. (I’m a trained early years teacher, and loved it before I gave up to home ed’.)

  19. Yes!! This sounds all very good to me.
    Are you a little surprised to find things working out so well? Not that you should – but I remember being super surprised at every week that didn’t fail when I started the toddler class at church! I would wonder in disbelief at how gung-ho they were for classroom stuff when previously they just got to run around and play.
    You are doing great work. LOVE the coloured pasta necklaces.

  20. Looks like you are doing a great job. Fenestrea Fidei is my brother-in-law’s book! My kids love colouring those pictures.

  21. This sounds both exhausting and awesome for someone with seven kids. I always hear about (and worry about for myself) getting to the “bigger” homeschool years and neglecting all the fun art and preschool things I do with my littles now. So easy to devote all the time and plans to the oldest kids. But you have a reason to color letters and do preschool art again!

  22. that’s lovely! (I am thinking you can save the letters to do again later since you worked so hard on them!? 🙂 )! I am glad you are able to do this, an effort for sure but a good one!

  23. This is very good and what you’re supposed to.
    I love these words about yourself. They are good reminders! Keep going!

  24. It sounds wonderful Ginny 🙂 i used to do a lot of that sort of thing when homeschooling little ones. Fun years.

  25. I’ve never dyed pasta before but I know my kids used it in preschool and I always wondered how it was done. They also had dyed rice, I wonder if it’s the same process. It sounds like your preschool co-op is going well. I’m glad you’re doing it.

  26. Does Larkspur like to color? My oldest is around her age and loves to color- and help. For me to ask her to help me with my lesson would be a dream come true. (Let Larkspur color your page for you! imagine how excited she will be when her page is laminated.) I mean- don’t we all love something laminated?

    • I do recruit help from the kids sometimes, even my older boys have helped a little. My problem is that I want everything colored “just so.” I know–silly.

  27. You’re doing a great job just where you are.

  28. For lots more art ideas check out Ann Wiseman’s books at your local library. They are paperbacks Vol 1 & 2
    Making Things. The include art, musical instrument making, handmade clothes, weaving, art games. Fabulous books. Saved my life when I taught K-8. They are from the 70s and if they are out of print if you email me I will copy mine & send copies to you. My local library has them in the on the kids floor in the parent/teacher section.

  29. I completely understand how enveloping the weekly responsibility is for you. I run a gardening/environmental program at my kids’ elementary school and it has become a beast. A wonderful, fulfilling, and inspiring beast but a wild animal nonetheless. There is so much momentum to a weekly responsibility like your class and my meetings. I have to plan the lesson and activity for 30 kids, gather all the supplies (I look like a pack mule some days going into school), make a snack and more. I won’t even mention the behind the scenes gardening and curriculum planning. I have other parent helpers but I have a delegating problem. There is always the voice in my head saying, “how can you ask them to do x or y? They are busy moms too and this was all your idea anyway?”

    So I can empathize with your love of what you’re doing but the awesomeness of the responsibility and expectations at times. Hang in there. It sounds like you’re making a real difference in their lives.

  30. I love what you’re doing!! And I am beyond impressed that you are getting it all in with the schooling for the bigger kids too. I have one kiddo that will be four in a couple weeks and I’ve don’t next to nothing with him this year other than read books to him. I really want to do more but find myself running out of time each day….and I only have five kids! Before you did the co-op, did you do a lot with your preschoolers? Last year we were part of a co-op that sounds somewhat similar to yours and I had similar feelings to yours. It was wonderful but so much work! We moved the end of last school year and the new one we have joined is purely social. I think there are pros and cons to both 🙂

  31. Jenny, you have given me some wonderful ideas! I am going to teach PSR to our first graders next year and already working on my lesson plans. (For once trying to get ahead.) These resources are just what I needed! Thank you very much!

  32. Thanks for all the great ideas and resources! You are indeed right where you need to be.

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