Saturday, September 9, 2017

Our new homeschool room

After four years of using our dining room as our learning space, we finally have our very own school room. This may not seem like a big deal to some, but to this mama it's HUGE! 

I've had dreams of this space for so long now that it hardly seems real. We start our new school year this week, and I can hardly wait! 

My three little students are equally as excited about their new room, and I overheard them saying "I can't wait to start school! It's only three more days away!". 

That's a win!

Since I had been using our dining room furniture in our previous learning space, I had to start from scratch with this room. Thank you IKEA for having so many wonderful pieces at such reasonable prices! I braved the IKEA shopping trip on my own, and was quite a spectacle trying to juggle three carts through the self-serve area. 

The main pieces of furniture were from IKEA, and the other little decor details were mostly from Home Sense (my all-time favourite spot). The letter board (which I absolutely love) was purchased on Amazon here.

Our nature table is actually our old diaper change table, and it works perfectly for housing the larger Montessori learning materials and STEM building sets, etc. I love that it's all out in the open, inviting the kids to use it. 

For our large table, I actually used two small IKEA table tops (and the corresponding legs). I attached them using white zap straps around the legs to keep the two tables from sliding apart. 

The little blue IKEA cart was in our school area previously, and it works perfectly as an art cart. I love that it can be moved around as needed. 

The small bookshelf behind my chair is for my own use, and holds my journals, books, day planner, and planner supplies/stickers (yes, I'm a total Happy Planner geek!). I've tried several different planners over the years, and the Happy Planner is most definitely my fave. (And no, they aren't paying me to say that 😉).

I think this is my new favourite room in the house! I'm so looking forward to many, many days of learning with my boys here. This homeschool journey is not without its challenges, and certainly not for everyone, but I feel so lucky to be able to do it. I can't believe this will be our fifth year of school at home! I blinked, and my big boy is in grade five! 

This year is going to be a good one. I can just feel it.


Sunday, March 27, 2016

Focusing on Nutrition Facts (starting them young!)

The boys are I were invited to attend the 'Focus on the Facts' Nutrition Education event last week, to learn more about how to read the nutritional labels on the food we buy/eat. 

The event was held at Save-on-Foods on Cambie Street, and it was a lot of fun! As we arrived, the boys were given super cool Sherlock Holmes-esque detective hats and magnifying glasses, as well as a cool bag that they got to decorate while we waited for the other guests to arrive. They couldn't wait to get started on their mission to find and compare food products around the store.

We started off by learning about how to read the nutrition labels. It's really quite simple, and the kids caught on really quickly :)

The first thing you need to look at is the Serving Size. The serving size is the amount of the product that would need to be eaten to receive the calories/nutrients listed on the label. It's important to be aware of the serving size and to adjust the nutrient amounts as needed, if you're consuming less or more than the serving size. 

The next important number on the label is the %DV or Percent Daily Value. This shows the percentage of the recommended daily value of each nutrient that is found in each serving of the food product. We learned that 5% or less is a little, and 15% or more is a lot!  There are good nutrients that we look for (Calcium, Iron, Vitamins, Fibre, Protein, etc.) and some not-so-good ones such as Trans Fats and Sodium that we try to avoid.

You can see more information on nutritional labels and how to read them here.

Our family tries to avoid as much sugar as we can, so we also look at the Carbohydrate/Sugars amount in the products that we buy. Some products are tricky, and show great %DV of nutrients such as Calcium and Iron, but at the same time have very high amounts of processed sugars. We prefer to avoid these types of products and get our vitamins from fresh fruit and vegetables, such as Kale (the boys LOVE Kale chips!). Wouldn't it be great if kale had a nutrition label to show the %DV of Vitamin A (206%!) and Vitamin C (134%) that it contains in a serving size of just one cup (chopped)?  We're going to continue on with our nutrition eduction, and learn more about which fruits and vegetables contain the most amounts of nutrients.

It was a great learning experience for my little men (and ME!). We were asked to search the store for products that we could compare in three different categories: Breakfast foods, Soups/Sauces and Breads/Grains. The little detectives got out their magnifying glasses and figured out which products were more suited to our family, and which ones we would rather avoid.

I try to do most of my grocery shopping around the outer edges of the grocery store. I always start with fresh produce, and fill my cart up as much as I can with the good stuff before moving on to anything that comes in a package. That's not to say that we don't buy some healthy-ish snacks and treats as well ;) I just notice that we all feel much better (and have less dodgy grumpy days!) when we're eating right. 

After all the chocolate they consumed this Easter weekend, we're going to be eating extra healthy next week! Our new favourite breakfast is a smoothie bowl with chia seeds and fresh fruit, and it sure starts the day off right! 

If you'd like to enter to win a $300 Grocery Shopping Spree, check it out here. :)

 This event and post were sponsored by Health Canada, the Food and Consumer Products of Canada (FCPC), the Retail Council of Canada (RCC) and the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers (CFIG). 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

A Very Hungry Caterpillar Party (Rory turns 3)

My tiny man is 3.


I need to start getting used to this growing up thing. I am sentimental to a fault, and cling to every stage like my life depends on it. For some reason, it's harder with my baby! Why is that??

Maybe it's because I feel like there are so many 'lasts'. The last time I'll have a two year old. The last time he'll nurse (and no, that last still hasn't happened yet).  I need to shift my focus to all the wonderful firsts instead, right? The first time he'll say "I'm FREE" (three). The first time he'll get to go in the IKEA play area with his big brothers, because he's finally not needing a diaper. The first time he'll ride a bike. SO many firsts to come. Thank goodness!

But for now, he's still my tiny man....and three is still pretty tiny, right? 

He's following in his big brothers' party-planning footsteps, and had this party planned before I even had a chance to hit up Pinterest! He chose the theme himself (his favourite book right now!) and insisted that his party needed to have "ALL the sings (things) the catuhpilluh eats!". It was tricky, let me tell you!

I couldn't find plums. That was the only thing, believe it or not! Other than that, we had all sorts of caterpillar-friendly fruit and snacks. I found a 'bulletin board pack' for teachers on Amazon, and used the little cutouts for making the food signs as well as all of the 'story board' decorations on the wall. The birthday boy and his big brother had all their friends sit down while they told the story of The Very Hungry Caterpillar (using the story board pictures on the wall).  

For favours, I made some playdough and put in it mason jars. Simple, easy, and doesn't include more sugar ;). 

The cake was inspired by one that the birthday boy spotted on Pinterest (yes...he likes to browse around with me for party ideas). It was super easy to make, so I was in! 

Tiny man was so happy...surrounded by his little buddies.  All in all, it was a fun little party. :)

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