Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Preschool Update

Nate is officially doing preschool.  We are focusing on learning the letters and the sounds that go a long with it.  We have done the letter of the week letter crafts.  We have lots of fun with it. 

Here are some links to places where I find my crafts to do with Nate.  Homeschool Creations is the site where I find my jumping off site.  She has a great list of alphabet activities.  Crystal and Co. is a place that has templates for the alphabet crafts.  They are cute and fun and simple.  We also get some templates from Miss Marens Monkeys.  I don’t think that she has the complete alphabet at her site but the ones she has are very cute and easy to use. I have also visited The Measured Mom to get some free letter books.  She includes lots of neat songs and finger plays.  I also visit Homeschool Share that has many free letter lapbooks.  I often don’t use everything in the lapbooks but I do pick and choose what I think that Nate will like.

E is for EagleLetter F

Other activities that we do are playing with his letter puzzle.  It is a wood puzzle that we bought from the Farmer’s Market.  We have so much fun.  We started at first learning where they go in the puzzle.  He has now able to pick up a letter, name it and tell me what animal starts with that letter and find where it goes.  He is correct about 95% of the time.  We also have alphabet magnets that we play with. 

So in short we do lots of play with letters and he is learning them.  I love to hear him tell random people that H is for Hippo and F is for Fox.  He loves to show off his skills. 

We are also trying out  So far it is not a hit.  So I think that we will try for some of those games. 

computer work

Nate also gets involved with the science projects that we do with Mickey.  He loves to learn and he even has the names of the planets down. 

Helping with Science

We are also trying to make regular trips to the library during their storytime.  Nate loves books and the puppet show, but I think his favorite activity is the hokey pokey. 

Hokey Pokey

Monday, September 1, 2014

Trail Guide To Learning–Unit 1 Review

As I have written we have changed curriculums this year to Trail Guide To Learning. We are using Paths of Exploration books this year.  Our first unit was focused on Christopher Columbus for six weeks.  We incorporate reading, copy work, word study, grammar, science, history, geography and art.

I had a few concerns when we started because reading and copy work are areas that Mickey needed to work on but she also complained greatly by having to read so much or write all the time. Now that we have finished up our first 6 weeks Mickey tells me that her favorite parts are reading and copy work.  She has greatly improved in both of these areas. 

We had a lot of very hands on activities which is just what I was looking for.  In the first week of our unit we studied about Bazaars where people bought food and clothing.  It is very much like our Farmer’s Market that she attends weekly.  So we made a special trip to a night Farmer’s Market where Mickey took a photo journey and added it to an album that she would use in her end of unit presentation.  She LOVED this. 

Mickey Farmer's Market

Mickey Farmer's Market2

We also had a lot of hands on science activities.  We used Trail Guide for Learning and also our Astronomy book that we use from Real Science 4 Kids.  I was so thrilled how the 2 correlated in our learning.  We studied planets and put together a solar system model.  The end product is now hanging in my daughter’s room.  She is very excited. 


Mickey Planets

We also studied constellations.  The kids enjoyed learning the stories and finding the constellations on their own board. 


Mickey Stars

We also learned about the weather.  I think that one of the fun things we did was learn about clouds and rain while we had a thunderstorm going on outside.  It really made the lesson come to life. 

Nate Cloud

Nate is feeling the heat from the water.  I don’t know why is has the sock but it made him happy. 

Mickey Cloud

Mickey being fascinated about how the “clouds” were releasing the rain.

We also tried our hand at making a sundial.  There is a lot more that goes into a sundial than I ever knew.  It was fun creating art and science at the same time.

Nate SundialMickey Sundial

One of my greatest joys taking this journey is the excitement my child had while reading about Christopher Columbus.  She couldn’t wait to read on and learn what else was going to happen.  She didn’t fuss about reading her book because she knew that I was also going to read to her from my book.  Her reading improved and she enjoyed reading.  How great is that??  Her writing has also greatly improved.  She looks forward to the copy work and likes to see how neat her writing can be.  She enjoys working in her lapbook and likes to cut and paste.  This program has been a huge blessing to our family. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

First Day Photos

Technically these are not first day photos since we started school a few weeks ago.  So these are our beginning of the year photos. 


My 3rd Grader


Pre – K

I realized today that when I started on this homeschooling adventure he was just a baby. How time has flown.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Curriculum Choices for 2014-2015 School Year

The most asked questions I get about homeschooling is “Do you buy curriculum”  and “how do you know what to teach every day?”  I think that when we think what it is involved in homeschooling our children we often are overwhelmed of where to start.  I remember wondering if I had to create everything that I taught my children.  Thankfully that answer was no.  But there is a lot of research that goes into picking the curriculum that you are going to use with your children. 

We have been using the same curriculum for reading and phonics since kindergarten.  Mickey is now in 3rd grade.  At the end of the 2nd grade year I was realizing that it just wasn’t working for us anymore.  I knew that I needed a history program that was more than what I have been doing. So this began my journey to figure out what was going to work for 3rd grade. 


3rd Grade Curriculum Choices

  We are using Trail Guide for Learning, Paths of Exploration.  This is a history based curriculum but also includes science, reading, language and art.  It is unit based on explorers.  There are six units – Christopher Columbus, Jamestown, Pilgrims, Daniel Boone, Lewis and Clark and Trails West.  Each unit is 6 weeks long. Each week has lessons for Day 1-4 with day 5 being a catch up day and a deeper exploration.  I love that there are real books that we read together and that she reads on her own.  My daughter loves stories about real people, so this is right up her alley. 

We are almost at the end of our 3rd week of using this curriculum and I am happy to report that so far it has been a success. Mickey is enjoying reading her Christopher Columbus book.  One of the best things that I have found is that she loves history and doesn’t realize that she is also getting reading, geography, language, writing and penmanship.  She is excited to do school everyday.  There are plenty of hands on projects to keep her busy. 

We are using Spelling You See for spelling.  Trail Guide for Learning incorporates spelling into their program but I had already looked into this and thought it was a good fit for Mickey.  One of the things that Mickey struggles with are tests.  She panics and fears the worst.  This program does not put the emphasis on what she does wrong but what she is doing right.  So far this  has been a good fit for her. 

  We switched to Math U See last year. It was a good switch for us.  We don’t move on until there is mastery at each lesson.  We started at Alpha last fall and ended with Beta at the end of 2nd grade.  So we are picking up with Beta, which focuses on addition and subtraction.  We will then move to Gamma which focuses on multiplication.  I am so happy that we found Math U See last year.  It works great for Mickey. 


Preschool Choices

I am not buying any specific curriculum to use for preschool.  We are being more intentional in our preschool time this year.  I am thankful for Homeschool Creations.  She has activities for helping little ones learning their letters.  We are focusing on one letter a week.  We are building a notebook with all the alphabet crafts that we make.  Nate is already loving making the crafts.  We are learning the sounds and the shapes.  We start each day with a book that we all read together.  I am trying to keep the books we read to the letter of the week.  We will be using our ABC puzzles and magnets. 

We are also working on numbers and playing with counting bears.  I am also finding poems and songs that we are learning.  We are learning as we go and finding different activities that we can do every day.  Lots of coloring, cutting, gluing and puzzles.  I see a great year ahead of us! 


I am linking this post up with iHomeschool Network.  Go take a look at what other families are tacking this year. 


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Researching Curriculums

ResearchingI piece together Mickey’s curriculum.  I feel like this meets our needs as a family and as well as her academic needs.  So around this time of year I take an assessment of what we are using and see if I think that we need to continue on with what we are using or try something else.  Then the long search for what to replace it with begins. 

Currently I am satisfied with most of our curriculum choices and think that we will be sticking with them for awhile.  The area that I am in need of help is History.  This is how I am going about my research.

  • I made a list of what was important to me in a curriculum choice.
    • It had to have hands on activities
    • I also wanted something that I could as a lapbook with it.
  • I looked around my homeschooling friends and looked at what they were doing.  I even asked a question on my homeschooling community what they would recommend and why.
  • I started looking at two websites that are known for their reviews.  Both of these websites have categories on the side that you can click on to see what items have been reviewed. 
      • Reviews are about other homeschool parents who tell their experience with the curriculums.
      • Cathy Duffy is a research specialist who researches curriculums and then tells the reader her take on the curriculum.  At the end of the review she tells you who it is a best fit for as far as Social  Sue, Wiggly Willy, Competent Carl, Perfect Paula. 
  • I narrow down what curriculums I have seen that I think that will work for our family.  Then I begin using Google to find reviews on blogs to hear more about the day to day of how it is working for them. 
  • I go to the curriculum website and begin pricing it.  I see if I have to buy the whole package or if I can make do without purchasing all the books.  I also make a list of books that I can get cheaper through another source or through the library. 
  • If I know someone who is using that curriculum that lives near me I ask them questions and ask to see their books.
  • I am now prepared to go in the vendor halls in a homeschool convention and look and touch the products.  I also don’t have to feel overwhelmed when each table is looking at selling me their great product that might or might not work with our family. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Cool Videos

I followed a link to watch a video on YouTube. I am always on a lookout to learning the States and capitals.  I really liked this song and I think that it would interest my girl. 

I was interested to see what else that they had done.  I found this one about the different countries.  Loved this. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Take Time to Recharge

RECHARGE IMAGEThere are a lot of demands on us as a parent and a homeschooling teacher. We are on duty 24 hours a day.  If you take sick day, (like I had to last week) you are still a parent. There are little ones to take care of, meals to make, activities to drive to and houses to clean.  There is a lot on our plate and more so if your spouse is working a lot of hours or like mine on the road half of the month.  I know that there are some good weeks and some not so good weeks.  There are weeks that I make it to the end and wonder why can’t every week be as easy as that one? 

I am a firm believer that we must take time out of the week or even day to give us some breathing room and to recharge.  If we don’t we will not be at our best nor giving our best to our loved ones.  It is so hard to take time for ourselves and really focus on our needs.  I know that I am guilty of not taking that much needed time to breath. 

How do you recharge?  Here are some ideas to give you some ways to recharge. 

  • Take a few hours and head out of the house when your spouse is home to take care of the kids.
    • Go to the park and read a book that is not for school.
    • Wander around the mall and window shop
    • Go and get your hair cut.  (When was the last time you made that appointment? 
  • Spend time in God’s Word
    • Whether it is a few minutes throughout the day or a dedicated time at the beginning or ending of the day.  His word will refresh your soul.
  • Do something that you enjoy at night when the kids are asleep. 
    • I put my kids to bed early… because they are still young and because I need that quiet time. 
    • I read
    • I play games on my phone
    • I work on my photography
    • Watch that show that I dvr’d weeks ago.
  • Call a friend
    • Take time to talk to that friend or make lunch plans and go out and eat (with or without your kids)
    • Just taking timeout and connecting to someone often helps us to carry on.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Sick Days

In my house if the kids are sick we take a sick day.  What to do when Mom is sick or just not feeling well?  It depends on how I am feeling bad and what we need to do.  Today is a day that I am feeling not so good.  I had a rough night and it is hard to focus.  But I am not feeling so bad that we can’t get a few things done.  So today we compromised. 

Today, we took school to the living room.  Mickey brought her school books.  Nate brought his toys.  Momma showed up.  We did not get a lot of stuff done today. Mickey did not do a lot of school work today but she did what she could.  I was nearby to answer questions and something was done. 

I think that we need to remember that it is okay to take things slow.  If I was feeling worse then we would not have done school and that is okay. 

There are days that we take things slow and allow our children to step up and do things that they may not normally do. My girl usually makes her own lunch.  I am so thankful that she does this as it helps me feel like I am not making a meal every time I turn around.  My son is 3 so him making his own meal is just not going to happen.  Today, my daughter helped my son make his sandwich for lunch.  She did this willingly and lovingly.  She did not have to do this but she did this because she knew her momma was having a rough day.

Some days that is what educating my children is all about.  My children are taught to love each member of the family.  That will look different depending on the day.  Today, it was about a sandwich. 

I am learning that the thing about homeschooling is that it is much bigger than the textbooks.  It is about taking care of each other and loving one another. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


One of Mickey’s favorite subjects is science.  We are studying physics right now with Real Science for Kids.  I really like and appreciate the hands on experiments that are laid out in this books series. It is easy enough where I can understand it and fun for Mickey to do.  I also like that Nate joins in the fun and it becomes family science time. 

We were learning about mass, inertia and force.  So we got out the marbles and had a blast.  Then we played a game of marbles after that. 


Monday, February 10, 2014


When I was beginning to homeschool Mickey in preschool I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. She was almost 4 by the time I actually started with her.  I did not know about how many resources there were at my fingertips on the internet. So I bought a boxed curriculum and used it and was satisfied. 

Now I am starting with Nate.  He is barely 3 1/2.  He sometimes likes to be included in school and sometimes would rather we not interrupt his play.  I view it as he is 3 and the boy needs his play and he learns through play.  So I am okay with where he is.  We will have plenty of time to “do school” in the years to come. 

Now on the days that he wants to be included I need something that will be fun and encourage learning.  He LOVES to have his “schoolwork” to show his daddy.  I found Alphabet Lap~n~Note from Homeschool Share.  There are small activities for little ones to learn the letter and glue and color pictures of items that begin with that letter.  Sometimes there is a finger play included.  Nate has loved these activities.  They are short and sweet and great for his short attention span.  He is also very proud of his work.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Digging in Pyramids

We have been studying Egypt and one of the activities that we had was digging in a pyramid.  It became a whole family affair as it was a little harder getting into than we originally thought it would be.  It was a fun activity. 

day 19

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Preschool for Nate

We are doing things a little different.  Nate has only been talking for about 6 months. I am very impressed with how fast he has progressed once he has started speaking.  This is a kid who likes to do things on his own timetable.  I have tried the box curriculums with him but they are not working like the did when Mickey was his age.  He knows how to count to 10 and his favorite two numbers are 4 and 14. 

Teaching him the abc’s is proving to be a lesson in thinking outside of the box.  Normally you sing the abc song and kids enjoys singing.  My son, hates it when I sing to him.  I am getting a complex and wondering if my singing is that bad.  NOPE, he just doesn’t like the attention it brings.  So we are now going through the abc animals.  They are big pictures with an animal and the corresponding letter.  We go through these and he loves it.  We are also doing a chant repeat to learn the abc’s orally. 

We are playing with lots of play-doh and blocks and having a great time.  The new school room is working out great for our needs at this time. 

day 7

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

New School Room

We have been in several places to do school in our home.  It really has been what works for us at that particular time in our life.  We have been doing school on our kitchen table which is connected to our living room.  Which means that our school has overtaken our life in our house.  School stuff is everywhere and that means that we are constantly clearing stuff off so we can eat meals. 

Our office has been a wreck.  It has been the storage area for all those things that we are just not using anymore right now.  So over Christmas/New Year’s break Jeff tackled the office and removed everything in there so that I can make a school room out of it.  I knew that it was time to move back in there but I was nervous. 

new school room

We have been having fun in our new room. We all have our own space.  I am in the middle so I can be near both children and work one on one with them.  There is also a little table for messy projects like play-doh.  There are school room only activities for the little guy to play with that will help keep his attention during those times when I need to have some focus time with Mickey. 

I think that this a good move for our school times and make the rest of the house a little bit neater not being over taken by all stuff school.