Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Curriculum Review || 2017-2018 Homeschool Year

Hey guys! Last school year is officially behind us, and we're gearing up for a new one, so I figured now was the time to share some of my thoughts on the curriculum we chose last year for 1st and 3rd grade.

K-3 Old and New Testament
     The Picture Smart Bible has been a great fit for our family for a couple of years now. We use the K-3 manual, but the 4-A is great for many ages, as well, as you can give younger students the master drawing, like a coloring sheet, rather than having them tracing or writing in detail. This curriculum feels like a TRUE curriculum, rather than simply a "bible study", as we do our own devotions as a family, and I feel conflicted about teaching my kids that being in the written word of God is a "subject" rather than a lifestyle. The Picture Smart Bible covers the themes, characters, timelines, and an overview of each book of the bible, without personal commentary added in, so that by the end of the curriculum, they will have illustrated or colored the entire bible, one book on each page, and can tell you exactly what each book entails. My husband and I continue to grow in our understanding of the bible as a whole thanks to this curriculum, and we're so thankful to have found it for our kids, as well. They have been so generous as to offer my subscribers a 50% off code, as listed:

Use code TPSB2018

Drawing Americana
    As someone who has very little artistic training, yet desires to know and understand art, this program blew me away. I have struggled to make any sort of connection between crafting with my kids, studying an artist, and doing a picture study, but with this program, all of the bases are covered. Drawing Americana, just like is sounds, features American artists and their pieces, as well as teaching your students how to critique art, recreate variations of their own art, and learn about said artist. I actually completed this curriculum WITH the kids, and look forward to using another one of Marrissa's bundles this upcoming year. Psst...be sure to come back next week to win a bundle of your choice!!!

The Middle Ages, v. 2
    This is our third year using SOTW, and we have now completed all of volume 1 and volume 2. We do this with friends, so I read the book aloud during the week, and we work on the projects together on the day that we meet. We absolutely love it, and will be moving onto volume 3 this upcoming year. The stories are engaging and descriptive, it's hard to recognize it as "history", as my experience with history was quite boring in school. It really comes to life through SOTW.

Simply Charlotte Mason
Visits to Europe
     I love the approach that Visits to Europe takes for teaching geography. If you would like either a little guidance, or a full curriculum, this, along with Material World and Hungry Planet, is a great option. We didn't finish, per se, but used it as a launching pad to explore the books on our own. 

Swimming Creatures
     This is a hard one for me to write, because I REALLY wanted it to be a "yes" for us. Unfortunately, it was a "no", but NOT because of the curriculum. I still love Apologia's immersive approach and hope to continue to use their curriculum as reference, but I see that my family prefers to be a little more interest led, so a full year study of the ocean was wearing on them.

Grade 1
   Keeping with the same structure that worked for my daughter, this program worked well for my son. Bright, colorful, and engaging, the lessons aren't too exhausting, and the curriculum does a great job at reinforcing concepts as the lessons move on. 

Level 4
    It's no secret around here that we LOVE TT Math! My daughter has about 10 lessons to go before she can start level 5, and she's super excited about seeing what her new "buddies" will be! Check out my video below to see how and why we use TT math!

Simply Charlotte Mason 
Spelling Wisdom & Using Language Well
     I LOVE THIS PROGRAM. That's my full review. Just kidding! Short lessons, encompassing both spelling and grammar, and only twice a week. Need I say more? There...now THAT's my full review ;) 

Delightful Handwriting
     Unfortunately, this is another "the program is great but not the right fit" books for us. It was actually a good fit for my 1st grader, and he may continue, but I need something for a child struggling with handwriting, vs. something that is teaching from Point A. I do wish that I had started with this years ago, as the WAY it is taught, very calm, simple, and self correcting, is something that I really appreciate about the curriculum.

Level 2
     We are big fans of "All About Reading" levels 1 and 2 in our house. My daughter flew through at 4 and 5 years old, and my son, who was a reluctant reader, completed levels 1 and 2 in about two full school years. He still has a few lessons to go, but as his desire to read took off, he no longer needed the curriculum to assist him. However, we will still complete it in order to reinforce good habits. This program has been great, therefore, for both a child who does, and a child who does not, naturally read well. I beleive that is due to their multi-sensory approach (flash cards, games, magnet tiles, etc.)

I hope that helps any of you who are doing your curriculum research for the upcoming school year. Let me know if you have any questions, and be sure to check out my video for an in depth review!

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Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Summer Lunches

Sweet summertime, when my floors are covered in sand, my wash is loaded with towels, and my table is FULL of beached out hungry kids. Often times, and especially in the summer, I pull out a tray, load it with some mix and match bites, and call it a "snacky lunch". No dishes, no plates, no complaining - there's something for everyone. My only request is that the kids try one piece of food from each section. Here's a peek at what the kids ate last week:

This lunch included organic grapes, Aldi's organic cheddar puffs, rainbow carrots and baby bell peppers with hummus, and a fun treat, The Incredibles' yogurts, which were an ALDI special buy. They also had smoothies that consisted of oranges, beets, kale, mango, banana, and hemp.

Tuesday's lunch looks rather bland, but it was a big hit with the kids. This one is a mix of strawberries, apples, peppers, and tomatoes, and a fun play on pizza. For the mini pizzas, I used whole wheat mini bagels, baked at 350 for 5 mins so they wouldn't get soggy, and then topped them with organic jarred pizza sauce from ALDI, and some mozzarella cheese. I popped them back in the oven for about 5 mins and there ya have it...easy peasy!

Wednesday called for some creativity because I needed to get to the grocery store, so I grabbed some cheese sticks, hard boiled eggs, and fruit cones. Fruit cones are a fun summer breakfast/snack treat I pull out when necessary, and the concept is simple - chop up some fruit nice and small, let the kids stuff it into cones, voila. Suddenly fruit is really fun! To be honest, if you compare the label between a cone and a box of original Ritz crackers, there's not much difference, so don't get hung up on the fact that it's a cone...its a special treat!

We were feelin' the Thursday blues this week, so I decided to put a little extra effort in and theme our lunch. Clearly, I went with breakfast, which happens to be the most simple theme for ANY meal. Here we have blueberry muffins, berries, grapes, kiwi, and whole grain waffles with peanut butter. Their smoothies were quite sad - oranges, bananas, water, spinach, and hemp. But hey, you win some, you lose some, and they enjoyed them, so I'll call it a win for the sole reason that it gave them a veggie for the day.

BOY Friday was a rough one. We had an extra mouth to feed this particular day, and we were all WHOOPED from the beach. I literally grabbed the cheddar penguins (like goldfish) that were left in our beach bag, quick chopped some cucumber and apple, and made a few PB&J sandwiches cut into nibble size bites. The verdict? This was their favorite lunch of the week. Of course it was...

 So there ya have it! Do you do snack trays in your house? What are your kids favorite snacky lunch foods? Be sure to check out my video. which also includes MY lunches for the week, and let me know if you'd like more posts like this!

Monday, July 2, 2018

Preschool Tag

Hey everyone! Today's post is answering some questions about homeschooling for preschool, and I was tagged by Momma Schmooze Reviews! Thanks, friend!

1. What is your preschooler's favorite picture book(s)?
Eli is a little book worm, and gravitates toward books he can "read" himself, meaning picture books, number books, or shine a light books. These are his favorite at the moment and you can find them HERE

 He also LOVES the PRESS HERE series

2. How do you teach them the ABCs, colors, shapes, and numbers 
(shows, tablets, hands on, etc.)
In the past, we've used a lot of pinterest for this, most specifically the letter of the week crafts, but this upcoming year, we will be using the reading corner, check out my review HERE. He also sits through most of our school days, and little ones are sponges!

3.Do you use a curriculum with your preschooler? If so, mention curriculum choices.

We've used Five in a Row and some printables from 1+1+1=1, but this upcoming year, we're sticking with some FIAR, but bringing in The Reading Corner and Let's Play School

4. What are your favorite websites to use to teach prek?

We've always loved 1+1+1=1, and Delightful Learning!

5. Do you take your preschooler to any community activities on a weekly basis?
Yes, beyond county sports, we meet once a month with friends and celebrate a holiday with a "class party" or field trip, as well as a weekly homeschool PE class that he participates in.

6. How long (approx) do you teach your preschooler each day?
Honestly...other than helping me in the kitchen, which he LOVES, and participating with my older kids' schooling, I usually only sit and do one on one instruction for about 15 minutes with him while my older kids work on their Teaching Textbooks. I use Five in a Row specifically FOR him, but still have my older kids participate, so that isn't necessarily one on one instruction. I also bring age appropriate activities into our morning basket and family subjects, so he tends to have upwards of an hour to an hour and a half of concentrated "school" time each day, but specific preschool skills - 15-25 minutes max. 

7. What are their favorite educational shows to watch?
We're not big into TV here as of yet, so if I had to take a guess...Leap Frog? Other than Man v. Wild...is that educational? 

8. How do you occupy your little one while teaching your older kids (if this applies to you)?
See answer 6 :)

9. What is your favorite educational toy to use for teaching?
We have SO many favorite educational toys, but if I had to pick just one...probably this one:
That's it! If you'd like to check out my video answering these questions more candidly, with some random advice at the end, check it out here:

some links are affiliate, thank you for supporting my blog! 

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Favorite Patriotic Books

Hey y'all! I'm back today sharing some of our favorite books for The Fourth! We're prepping for a day full of friends, fireworks, and beach fun by reflecting on why we celebrate. These books help us do just that.

This book is similar to "How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World" (one of our all time favorites), but themed around the USA.

In this book, the main character travels across the United States, collecting materials needed to make a mixing bowl, rolling pin, spoons, etc.

 It's a fun way to visualize all of the resources that our nation has to offer.

This book is a super cute play on "The Night Before Christmas"

It's full of family traditions most children would be familiar with surrounding the 4th, and is sure to be a hit in your house!

My kids go crazy for "Shine a Light" books by Usborne, the concept being that until you shine a flashlight behind the page, parts of the image remains hidden.

This is a great book for bedtime, a rainy day, or in lieu of fireworks if you have some nervous kiddos.

Last, but not least, "Blue Sky White Stars" 

This book is sure to open up conversation with your older children, and the gorgeous illustrations will captivate your younger ones, as well.

The author and illustrator did an amazing job conveying the spirit of our nation and the trials that we've faced in very few words.

The book focuses on the flag on one side, with the same words on the opposite page showcasing a part of our nation's history. If I could encourage you to add one more book to your family library, this would be it!

Check out my video if you'd like to hear more!

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Thursday, June 28, 2018

The Reading Corner Review and GIVEAWAY!

Wow, it's been so long I've almost forgotten HOW to blog ;)

Today, I'm sharing a review of the preschool curriculum we will be using this upcoming school year with Eli. He is super excited to have his "vewy own" curriculum, and I am looking forward to minimal prep work and game-style learning. If only I knew about this years ago, this would've been an amazing fit for Jesse, as well.

A few things I love about The Reading Corner's year long preschool curriculum:

  • A focus on fun, interactive learning, vs. worksheets, instruction, and testing 
  • An understanding of motor skill development, with appropriate expectations by age
  • Teaches and builds upon concepts, with new letters and sight words introduced every four weeks (doesn't move too fast, but also engages young children with different activities practicing the same math and reading concepts).
  • Bright, colorful, exciting, and a truly FUN way to make lifelong connections
  • Kid-tested and approved 
  • Great design, full of tips and training for parent teachers. This is the main selling point for me - I am not a confident preschool teacher, but believe that young children are very capable and ready to start learning at this age. Having the lessons spelled out VERY well for me as the teacher is incredible helpful.
  • Countless videos and posts designed to aid teaching. 

Beyond year long curriculum, The Reading Corner also offers fun game bundles, recipe packs, math and reading packs, and subscription based learning. If you need help with placement, Karen Green, who developed the curriculum, will do an individual placement for any families who are a part of the (very affordable) online subscription. 

Make sure you take some time to watch my complete review, and visit her website HERE !

If you want to get your hands on a bundle, you're in luck, because Karen is offering the winner of this giveaway a year long curriculum of choice, 6 game packs, and a manipulative kit! Make sure you follow the directions in the rafflecopter, and good luck! THANK YOU SO MUCH Karen! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 19, 2016

First Six Weeks Wrap Up

Hey Y'all! Long time, no blog. I've been quite consumed with learning the ropes of YouTube and miss the simplicity of sharing on this here blog, so I figured I'd start with a once an every six weeks homeschool wrap up, our school scrapbook of sorts. Between now and next semseter's wrap up, I'll likely post some more memories of our last few major events: birthdays, vacations, etc.

So without further adieu, I present: our first six weeks of school!

Our first day photos:

I am loving our peaceful morning boards, which are for handwriting, hymn study, map drills, and bible memory. The kids have also enjoyed a little morning free time, where they choose to play school games together more often than alone. 

Math is always a fan favorite...NOT :) We have been starting our academic day with math to get it out of the way, and so far, it's been a good choice. 

Science this year has been a struggle for me. I'm not loving the way 
our curriculum is laid out, and so we've been a little slow going. I expected to get through three chapters in six weeks, but we made it through two, due to a combination of morning sickness and LONG chapters. Thank goodness Grandpa is taking over the projects again this year!

History quickly became our favorite subject last year, and this year is no different. A fun bonus is that we are doing it with friends this year and meeting a couple times a month for the projects. This last six week session included the first Olympics, complete with a fun kids pentathlon, and a traditional Greek feast, studying the differences between Sparta and Athens, and learning all about Alexander the Great. We LOVE Story of the World.

Geography is a new concept this year, as we switched from a workbook study to a Simply Charlotte Mason study of Europe. Each morning the kids do their map drills silently and I check their work. Then twice a week we read from either Hungry Planet or Material World, and then complete one of the suggested recipes or read alouds associated. It's amazing what kids are capable of picking up through living books, and I'm also blown away by what I DIDN'T learn in school myself, that I get to explore now as an adult. 

We just wrapped up reading The Complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh, and I can't believe it wasn't already a part of our home library. I loved it, and so did my kids. Isabella has no formal reading or writing curriculum for the next two years, so she has spent her time reading Katie Woo, Magic Treehouse, and Flat Stanley books. Jesse and I re-started All About Reading level one this year, and the difference between his readiness last year and this year is astounding. He was capable last year, but this year he is excelling. I'm so glad we took a break.

We have finished the Picture Smart Bible studies on "The Bible" and "Genesis" and are going to be continuing in order. I, myself, and studying Women Living Well's study on Joshua, so I'm looking forward to when our curriculum takes us there. We have been drilling the books of the bible memory work in our free time, but not consistenly, and another area that I need to crack down on is our scripture memory. I currently have us using Simply Charlotte Mason's cycle one scripture memory, and we are only three verses in after six weeks, but my kiddos have also memorized two of the three verses to "What a Friend we have in Jesus" so I'm trying to to overwhelm their brains and allow it to all soak in.

All of the extra "fun" subjects include our artist study, nature study, our art lessons, violin lessons, dance classes, recreation league football, and  4H. We are just getting started with a new year in each of these, as most didn't really begin until early September. Like our scripture study, I can see myself needing to put more effort into our art lessons, as we only got through three lessons in six weeks, but hopefully morning sickness will curb here soon and the smell of paint or glue wont be so overwhelming. As for everything else, Because of homeschooling, I do see all areas of growth in each of these areas, since I have been at every lesson, every game, and every class for years. This year marks the largest jump in maturity for my son, who has developed more of the "leader" mentality on his football team, and also a huge leap in musical readiness. My daughter was moved up a level in both dance classes and again, while she struggled at first, I have seen her grow SO MUCH because of the new challenges.

And then, of course, we have some fun preschool spinkled in here and there :)

Areas I hope to grow by the end of our next six weeks:
  • Regular library visits
  • More silent reading time
  • More outdoor time (we cut back on our horse/pony leases until I am feeling better, so our outdoor time has taken a hit, also we live in FL so unless water is involved, my kids melt outside, and our pool guy just had a baby with heart issues, pray for them please, so our pool is a little off limits, he's our friend so we told him to take care of his family and get back to us when he can)
  • I need to develop a plan as far as this science curriculum goes, changing our schedule may be necessary
  • Scripture study needs to take a front seat, bottom line.

And here's some of the fun stuff, you know, the REAL peek at what homeschooling looks like? Sometimes it looks like this...

"We NEED to get out of the house" days, even without swimsuits or a plan...

"Educational show = school" days...

"Everyone's going to Gramma's house" days...

"Please just go play like normal kids" days...

"You're too cute to force to do school today" days...

"We survived and deserve ice cream" days...

"I'm not going to win the energy war today" days...

"My second grader needs more handwriting help than my Kindergartener" days...

And then some! See ya in six weeks with our next wrap up. Hopefully we have more productive days this go round :)