Starting School II

September 7th, 2010

But first, Verity.

Since Verity’s tube was pulled over a week ago, she has gradually increased her daily milk intake.

A few stats~

~She started out at 13 3/4 ounces per day, and her highest total so far is 16 3/4 ounces, set on Sunday (and her minimum goal is 18 ounces)…

~Her personal speed record so far was 3 ounces in one hour, set on Saturday morning (she usually travels at 2 ounces per hour)…

~And the most she has taken in the space of two hours is 4 ounces!

I’ve been bravely resisting the nearly overwhelming temptation to weigh her.  She’s fine; I’m the one showing signs of withdrawal from tube dependency!  Must turn thoughts away from baby scales!   We’ll wait until tomorrow afternoon, after her first session with her occupational therapist.  By then, one week will have passed since the last weigh-in.

She is also showing some progress in gross motor skills, especially in her ability to hold her head up for increasingly longer periods of time.


Throughout the past week, we completed all our school preparations in a calm and unhurried manner, thanks to the reprieve granted us by the headmaster!  These preparations took place in between dr. visit, physical therapy, three visits from friends, a washing machine tune-up, Joseph and Daniel working one full day for my brother, a piano lesson, and the usual household chores.

Joe’s aunt next door called to offer her help again, and what a blessing that she offered on the day the big boys were gone!  When the little guys heard that they were going over to play in her basement, John Michael said, “Good!  When we did that on another day, we had FUN!!”

We finished putting together and organizing the preschool activities.  This was the most time-consuming project, but we are now armed for the next nine months at least!  There are about forty-five options on the list, with additional possibilities from combining some activities.  We got most of our ideas from THIS WEBSITE.

We made a list of preschool phys ed activities and went over the rules and procedures with Joshua and Laura.

I trained Joseph and Daniel to know how to properly oversee the twins one at a time, as they work in their Rod and Staff preschool workbooks.

Daniel made a complete inventory of all the food in our pantry and freezers, so that I can ease back into planning the meals again.  We’ve been eating meals that take no planning and very little preparation.

We made two Sunday preparation checklists–one for when we meet at our house, and one for when we meet at someone else’s house.

I went through the winter clothes except for snow things.  The girls are the only ones with space for both summer and winter clothes, but even they had outgrown some things.  The boys’ winter things are organized, but still in the bins.

Some other, more minor details have also been duly attended to, and so we began again this morning.

I walked around and shot a few photos, to prove that I am not trying to impress anyone!   Because if my goal was to impress, I would not post these pictures!  Hahahaha!  Anyway, I enjoy seeing pictures of others’ household organization, and maybe someone else does, too.

As you peruse our preschool, imagine that you hear the calm and measured strains of the Bach Orchestral Suites floating through the atmosphere…

We used what we had as much as possible.  We had a bookshelf in the barn that just needed to be cleaned up.  We had bins.  So even though they don’t suit each other perfectly, we are all skinny enough to get past this set-up in our skinny hallway without knocking them down every time.

A friend gave us the two green baskets with Verity-things in them earlier this year.  They now hold many activity bags.  The cookie sheets are very handy for creating instant work surfaces.  Plus magnets stick to them.  Nice.

The pony beads bin holds supplies for several different projects.  The children were given those two busy Bibles by Grandma and Grandpa.  My hot glue gun is tucked back in there, too.

The dried bean mixture is for sorting into ice cube trays.  The alphabet bin holds several types of flash cards and ABC magnets for various matching activities.  The paint brush bin includes cheapie housepaint brushes from the Dollar Tree.  Little ones like to use them to paint the sidewalk with water.

These spray bottles and several old baby washclothes are for cleaning things that can handle being cleaned with water by preschoolers!  The button and paper clip cans are clean Pringles cans with slots cut into the lids.  The supplies bins include items that are needed for more than one activity.  (Yes, we do need to re-hang that picture!)

This card is removable, and serves as a guide for which objects the child should look for in the rice.  The instructions called for birdseed, but we didn’t have birdseed.  We had rice.

The little ones haven’t tried this yet.  I may have to remove some of the rice if there’s so much they can’t find all the objects.  Yes, the list does say “saw,”  but don’t worry.  It’s a keychain.  [Edited later to say that yes, we had to remove some rice to make the bottle about 2/3 full.]

Laura enjoyed putting together this pattern matching activity.  Some of the patterns were simpler than others.  Whoa, that orange towel looks bright in this picture.

Much better.  (It’s the photographer’s fault, not the towel’s.)

The twins threaded pasta onto yarn…

…using a very large, very blunt needle.  I used masking tape to secure the end of the yarn.

James likes blue.

Peter likes red.

If I can fit four preschoolers into the space I have–!

I always put their towels in the same places so that they become comfortably familiar and not distracting.  Peter is the peacemaker, thus his spot is strategically placed in the middle.  Stephen is the littlest, and the closest to where I work with Verity.  John Michael is the oldest and needs the least oversight of the four, so he is just around the corner from my line of vision.  I’d put them all in the room with me, but like I mentioned earlier…the space…just the right house for a bunch of skinny people…

When they finish threading projects, I get them set up with their next activity, then take their chain apart and put the “beads” back for another day.  We have pasta, cut-up drinking straws, and pony beads for them to thread.

Sweet-one Stephen plays happily for at least half an hour with each activity.  Shorter without the Bach.  He hasn’t chosen a favorite color yet, so I made a temporary executive decision on the matter.  When I look at him, I see sweet baby cheeks to kiss, but he is a precocious child who speaks in complete sentences and sees himself as a big one now.  Verity is the baby, after all.  :-)

Can you see why Joe calls me, “Happy Mother of Children?”

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15 Responses to “Starting School II”

  1. Felicity says:

    Whoa – I feel totally disorganised after reading this, and I only have one preschooler and one toddler!  But really great ideas!!  I feel inspired.
    I’m glad Verity is making progress too.

  2. Susanna says:

    Oh my, Felicity!  (Beautiful name!) I didn’t organize this kind of system until I was *forced* to it two years ago.  I was the pregnant mother of a 2 1/2 year old active boy and twin 1 1/2 year old boys, and was due the beginning of October.  I was desperate for a plan that would allow the older children to study peacefully while occupying those three little boys during the time I would spend nursing their baby brother.  Turned out he was a speed nurser, so we were able to have a more relaxed approach than I’d anticipated.  But we still got plenty of use out of all those activity sets for “Table Time!”  By this past winter, the only boy interested in most of those old sets (designed for ages 1 1/2 to 2 1/2) was 1 1/2 year old Stephen.  Hence the search for activities for older preschoolers.

    If what you’re doing is working, I’d encourage you that there’s no need to fix it! :)

  3. Denise says:


    Great ideas!!

    I hae a “list” that we have to pull from– but what a great idea to have it all on one book shelf!

    Thanks for all the GREAT ideas!!!  LOVE IT!

    You have been busy!!  VERY BUSY!!

    SO glad things are coming together (organizationally)– I do understand where you are coming from in most of your posts– I really do well with order– chaos does not fit me well at all!!  ;)

    SO happy for you! 

    PS:  No picture of verity in this post!!  lol– just kidding!

  4. Alison Darty says:


  5. Stephanie Blanchard says:

    Go Verity, go! I’m gleaning ideas from you. Yesterday was insanely chaotic with schooling!

  6. Joy Horton says:

    As usual, I’m leaving the site VERY inspired!! I’ve been wanting (and feeling the desperate need) to do this sort of thing but had absolutely NO idea where/how to start. Thank you SO MUCH for posting pics. I love the ones of the boys at activity time. That is just such a testament to your parenting! Beautiful!

  7. Tami Swaim says:

    Oooo looks like fun!  How much do you charge for preschool?  I’d send my kids!  I’m still working on training Josh and Zach to do “preschool” activities with Daniel and Moriah.  Moriah of course is still quite young but is a very inquisitive little lady!

  8. Wonderful news about Verity!!  praise God!!
    I’m amazed and inspired….  you have given me courage.  Is there a website that has this ideas and what you need to make up these activities??  Sorry to question, but I’m needing activies for my young ones who are not in school yet.  Will be helpful for when I’m teaching my older children.  Thanks and big hugs!!
    May the Lord continue to be your strength!!

  9. Ok, just wanted to say I looked through your older posts and found the website.  Thanks!  Now off to make up my own list!

  10. Tina says:

    This post has encouraged me to go finish what I started!  Thank you for all your time put into details and pics.  It has motivated me!

    The picture in your most recent post of Verity (on her side with binky) just MELTS MY HEART!  Such a beautiful, precious baby girl!  Thank you for sharing her.  You are often in my thoughts and prayers, I just haven’t ever had any luck posting a comment here…hopefully it works this time!
    Blessings and love,

  11. Shari~hotfudgecustard says:

    I loooooooove this post!!!  It reminds me of the best days of teaching kindergarten, when the kids were busy, humming along (lots of times literally humming!), learning and doing.

    Congratulations on finding a good groove!

  12. Rebecca says:

    Thank you!  I just love how you organised this all, that’s just where I was falling down.  :)  :)  :)
    Rebecca in Alberta

  13. Marilyn Osborn says:

    I’ve been working on the same kinds of things.  You gave me some fresh ideas!  THANK YOU!

  14. wanda says:

    Susanna, just wonderful ideas. Thank you so much for taking the time to share this. I can’t wait to try a few of them. I am having a time figuring out what to do with the little ones :) Love you !!!

  15. Jillian says:

    Towels – ingenious!!! I love it. Not to mention all of the other fantastic ideas here. Thank you. You have given me inspiration once again!!! :D

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