Tuesday, October 22, 2013

First-Grade Read-Aloud: James and the Giant Peach

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I read aloud to The Boy from a chapter book every day that we have school. It's my favorite part of the school day. (His is math. He takes after Isaac.)

We read James and the Giant Peach last month, and The Boy was positively wide-eyed through the entire thing. Giant insects, people in the clouds, and the Empire State Building...fascinating stuff for a seven-year-old. Roald Dahl is quickly rising to the top of our favorite-author list.

I asked The Boy just now what his favorite part was, and he said he liked the earthworm. Personally, I thought the centipede was better. Mostly because of its boots.

We watched the movie after we finished reading the book, and...it was all right. The movie is different--I don't mind if movies leave things out, but when they add new things in, I get grouchy.

The edition pictured here is the one we own; some more recent versions have more fun, cartoonish illustrations. Although I guess it doesn't matter all that much--a giant grasshopper is a wondrous thing, no matter how it's drawn.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

First Grade!

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We started first grade about a month ago. The Boy's only complaint is that school takes longer now than kindergarten did. I told him that it was because his brain is getting so big. He seemed to accept that.

Ideally, we'd be using the First Year curriculum from Latter-day Learning. Until we can afford it, though, we're doing just the basics--reading, writing, math--with some science or art thrown in once in a while. Here's what we're using:

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Within the Walls of Your Own Home

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"Teach yourself and teach your families about the gift of the Holy Ghost and the Atonement of Jesus Christ. You will do no greater eternal work than within the walls of your own home."

-Boyd K. Packer, "These Things I Know"

Friday, July 12, 2013

Yep, We're Okay

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I know that a few people in my life are a little...concerned...about our choice to homeschool. And I don't blame them, really. Heck, most of us homeschool parents get concerned about it, too--"Am I really pulling this off? Can I produce an educated, well-rounded person from this?"

Well, we've only officially been homeschooling for one year. So we're not quite done with the produce-an-educated-person experiment. But if you're concerned, here are some examples of what The Boy can do, without having gone to public kindergarten*:

  • read at a 5th-grade level
  • write sentences clearly
  • add and subtract 
  • play well with his friends
  • raise his hand politely in Sunday School
  • build rockin' LEGO vehicles

...and so on. In other words, he's doing fine.

The kid isn't perfect. Neither am I. But we're making it work, and I have a feeling that we'll continue to do so. 
**Not real glasses.**

*Not that there's anything wrong with public kindergarten. I loved going to kindergarten, and I have nothing but admiration for the kindergarten teachers that I know. Just sayin'.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

D stands for Donut

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A fun idea that I've used each time for D is decorating paper donuts. My kids LOVE being able to play with real sprinkles and I love that the don't have to eat a donuts to do this craft!

Here is my princess decorating her donut. And yes, she wrote the D in the middle.

Friday, June 7, 2013

B stands for Balloon!

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Today we learned about the letter B, me and my princess! We learn about the letter, learn the sounds, and learn how to write it. Then, we do a fun craft. I usually come up with the craft during learning about it, or a few minute prior. Yep, that's life with four kids sometimes. Luckily I think I come up with my best and most creative ideas this way.

Today we painted with Balloons. My princess thought it was great! So did the two others, so they joined in on their break!

A little tip that I've learned. You can never have enough craft supplies. I like to buy supplies for crafts throughout the year. A lot of my supplies come from the dollar store. (The red tray is a dollar store buy). This way you can come up with a lot of last minute crafts! Yes, I do have a huge bag of balloons, you never know when you need them!!

Friday, May 31, 2013


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First, I apologize for my lack of posting. I lost my camera, and post without pictures are not very fun. But the much missed camera has been found and pictures have been taken.

On to the post. Recently I started preschool again with my Princess. She has already been in two co-ops, so it wasn't the first time she's done preschool.

We've been using Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading. I love the book, however I find it a little dry. I like to add a craft when learning all the letters. We do all the letter crafts in one notebook.

Today's letter was U. I Googled umbrella crafts, and there were a ton of examples of the activity we ended up doing. (so I can't really credit it back to a certain person).

After writing the letter U a few times, there are more U's on other pages. We made an umbrella out of a pipe cleaner and a cupcake wrapper. She thought it was great! And it wasn't very messy, so I also thought it was great!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

I love book lists!

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I don't know a lot about Kumon. I do know that The Boy loooooved Kumon's My First Book of Cutting when we were doing preschool.

And I learned today that Kumon has free downloadable reading lists. I love a good book list, people! There are some great books on these lists. For example, Level 2A includes Penguin, which is one of my favorite children's books ever.

I can't wait to check out the ones I haven't read yet.

Do you guys have any good sources for book lists? I have a billion of them bookmarked, and I know that we probably couldn't even read all of them in our lifetime--but I just love them so.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Learning to Play and Playing to Learn

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This is what part of our school day has looked like for the past several days:

And it's awesome. The Boy loves building with LEGOs, and I love seeing how his creations evolve. He learns so much from those little blocks.

When I try to build with LEGOs, all I get is a headache. The Boy can build for hours because he loves it--that's how his brain works. I'm a firm believer that every child has an interest (or two or ten...) that lights them up, and that as parents and teachers, one of the most important things we can do for a child is to let them pursue that passion.

And yes, we still read and do chores and go outside each day. It's not all LEGOs all the time around here, although I'm sure The Boy would be all for that.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Kindergarten is Done!

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Sort of.

What I really mean to say is, "We did kindergarten for 36 weeks! Yay!" A typical school year is 180 days, or 36 weeks, of school. How a homeschool family divides that up depends on their situation; for us, we school year round with a roughly three-weeks-on/one-week-off schedule. That might change, but it works for now.

Like I wrote in this post, we didn't magically finish all of our kindergarten stuff at once. (We did have a pizza party, though!) And that's okay with me. It's actually worked out pretty well, since it's left us with plenty of material to work with until we get all of our first-grade curriculum assembled.

I didn't take any cute photos of The Boy holding a "Last Day of Kinder!" sign. There probably won't be any cute scrapbook pages made about it. All I have is this photo of a mess:

...from when I was sorting through all the kindergarten "stuff." We didn't even use a lot of what's pictured, but like I said, we're using it now. (Because I paid good money for it, dang it!)

One year--thirty-six weeks of school time--boggles my mind a little bit. (Don't laugh at me, homeschool veterans!) This has been a crazy, unexpected, sometimes hard, sometimes awesome journey. Thanks for reading along--your comments online and in real life have meant a lot to me.

So...let's keep moving forward! I'm excited to see what the next year brings, and I'm excited to share it with you here.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Kindergarten Art: Playdough Bugs!

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[This project was inspired by these Play Dough Bug Sculptures.]

We were learning about bugs a couple weeks ago--you know, head, thorax, abdomen, that kind of thing--so I thought we ought to do something buggy for our art project at the end of the week. Thanks to Pinterest, I found something SUPER easy and open-ended.

Here are our materials:

Pie for Breakfast: Kindergarten Art: Playdough Bugs
You can use whatever you've got around the house.
And here's one of my first bugs. As we all know, I'm really good at lots of intricate details and stuff.

Pie for Breakfast: Kindergarten Art: Playdough Bugs
Not. But at least he's cute, right?

The Boy spent most of his time on this Dangerous Bug:

Pie for Breakfast: Kindergarten Art: Playdough Bugs
I would die if I ever saw a bug like this in real life.
We also made some ladybugs, a caterpillar, tons of made-up bugs...we tried a butterfly, too, but it just looked lopsided and weird. Oh, well. I guess that's why God makes bugs, and we don't.

Anyway, we didn't do anything scientific or overly realistic with this. Just fun with odds and ends. It was a good wrap-up for our buggy week.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Kindergarten Read-Alouds: Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner

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I've had The Complete Tales & Poems of Winnie-the-Pooh on my shelf for years and years and years. I pulled it out to use as a read-aloud for The Boy toward the end of this year, and we had a...different...experience with it than I would have expected.

Your kids have probably seen the old Winnie the Pooh movies. (The Boy hadn't. We watched them afterward.) If they have, let them know right off that some of the stories are different from the movies. Some parts of the movies were lifted right out of the books, though, so that's fun.

Here's where our experience wasn't what I expected--some parts of the stories were hard for The Boy to follow. I thought (based on the movies) that they'd be easier, but they're written as though A.A. Milne were sitting right there telling them to you, so sentences go on and on forever (like this one), and he sometimes uses words that I had to stop and explain because of their British-ness, and sometimes he uses silly words that he probably got from Christopher Robin (the real one), and I'm done with this sentence now, but that's how large parts of the stories read.

Which is fine. And I expected The Boy to lose interest--but he didn't. There's something about Winnie-the-Pooh that kids love, even when they're not sure what the heck Rabbit is talking about. And I enjoyed reading them, because the characters are just so stinkin' sweet.

So we read all the way through both Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner. I'm not saying that you would have to, of course. We read some of the poems, too, but we were pretty tired of the book by then--it has about a bajillion pages.

So, overall, I'd recommend it as a read-aloud. And, whether your kids like the stories or not, have them watch the old Winnie-the-Pooh movies. I've never met a little kid that didn't like them.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Make Your Own Bubbles!

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Easter happened to be a gorgeous day, which is pretty rare here in the Pacific Northwest. We were at my parents' house, and The Boy really wanted to blow bubbles outside. But, try as we might, we couldn't find any bubble solution in the house.

So...my sister and I made some. (We used this recipe.) I really didn't want to go to the trouble of making it, but it wasn't much work. And it's a good way to use up old corn syrup that you might have lying around. It makes pretty strong bubbles--the smaller ones landed on the grass and didn't pop.

My sister, The Boy, and I took our homemade bubble brew outside and played for a long time in the sun.

Make Your Own Bubbles

Oh, did I forget to mention the fly swatters? After we mixed up the bubble solution, we realized that we didn't have bubble wands. Luckily, we found my grandma's old fly-swatters-turned-bubble-wands in the basement. If you want to make your own, just cut shapes out of the mesh part of a fly swatter. You'll get big- and medium-sized bubbles through the cut-out parts, and leetle tiny bubbles through the mesh. (My grandma was an early-elementary school teacher. She had tons of cool ideas like that.)

Anyway, The Boy tried his hand at the bubble blowing...

Make Your Own Bubbles

...but he really preferred to chase the bubbles that my sister and I blew.

And we kept blowing bubbles long after The Boy had gotten tired and gone into the house. Why waste perfectly good sunshine and bubbles?

Friday, April 5, 2013

Children's Books about Spring

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Hey, guys! Can you believe it's spring already? (I know, it's been spring for a couple of weeks. I'm a little slow sometimes.)

One of the ways that we celebrate the seasons at our house is by checking out library books that fit the season. I have a few spring-y books posted on my children's book review blog:

The Storybook Shelf

And we'll be checking out some new ones pretty soon. Do you have any good recommendations for books about spring?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Boy's Nerdy Future

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Don't call CPS--we don't actually let our six-year-old use a soldering iron. It's his dad's, and he's had it drilled into his little head that soldering irons are NOT for touching. Unless Dad says it's okay because Mom thinks it would make a cute picture.

I don't know whether The Boy will really grow up to be a soldering maniac like his father. But if he does, homeschooling gives us the freedom to let him explore that potential interest as much as he wants. Or his interest in cars. Or his interest in soccer. Or...his interest in soldering cars while playing soccer. Whatever. As long as his interests are legal, he's got our full support.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Easter Art: Do-A-Dot Bunnies

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Easter Art: Do-A-Dot Bunnies
Look, I squeezed in an Easter art project! Be proud of me. 

I saw this on Pinterest a few days ago (originally Kids Activities Blog's Cute Bingo Dauber Easter Craft), and since The Boy loooooves his Do-A-Dot markers, I knew it was a must-do.

Also? It's the easiest art project ever. Just do a bunch of dots, wait a minute for the dots to dry, and draw little bunny faces on the dots with a marker.

The Boy and I each made one. I was surprised that he had the patience to draw a face on each of the bajillion dots he made. Shows what I know. Homeschooling: surprising parents who underestimate their children, one day at a time.

Thursday, March 14, 2013


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So, before I post the fun activity I need to say a few things. We have been doing a homeschooling program and doing their curriculum. We've been hating school. The girls hate it, I hate it, heck even my husband hates it. We have pretty much halted in our learning. So. I've decided going back to HOME schooling. I chose to homeschool because I think learning should be hard work, but tons of fun.
And to the real reason for the post..........................

Today we started back into "My America and My World" (an Abeka history book). We learned about Egypt. We learned about the Sphinx and learned about Pyramids. So, we made those out of sugar cubes. These are pictures of the progress. My kids decided it would be lots of fun to paint their pyramids.. So we did, you can do that when you're homeschooling!!!

 My princess decided eating them was just as fun as making stuff with them.
 My fashionista decided to try and make a sphinex, that's why it's rectangular instead of square.
 My scientist made a pyramid and building to go around it.
 My pyramid.. Because I get to enjoy learning right along with them!
Baby Brother got to "glue" with water.. and he ate all his sugar cubes... Yeah... He enjoyed every second!

What things we've learned from this lesson:
Math: you need the same amount of cubes on each side in order to make a square.
Science: Sugar melts in water, also because paint has water if you add to much it also melts the sugar
History: About pyramids and the Sphinx
Reading: Each kid took turns reading outloud from the history book

*by the way, i don't get anything for mentioning Abeka.. I just LOVE how simple the history books are and how they get more advanced every year.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


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BOB Books Set #1: Beginning Readers
Picture from here

My fashionista has been really struggling to read. We've try different approaches. I was getting really sad because she was hating reading. And I know that she could really love it.  She's six years old. My other daughter was reading chapter books by six. I assumed my fashionista was behind because she wasn't reading chapter books yet. About a year ago, she really struggle with reading the first set of Bob books. We have a few other sets, she has struggled but made it through most of them. I have felt that she needed to start all over on the Bob books along with the other reading program we do.
Today we started over. She read six books, easily. No problem at all. She turned to me and said "wow, reading is fun."
She is seriously floating on cloud nine and is currently reading more to her sisters.
When we're with our kids and teaching them, it's hard to see their progress. Especially when they are struggling. It's so encouraging to go back and take what your child has struggled with and see the real improvement. I challenge you to do this. Go back and revisit an area of schooling your child was struggling with. And help them see that all their hard work is paying off!!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Shamrock Art FAIL

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When I saw this cute shamrock art project on Pinterest, I thought it would be super fun and easy. Bell pepper + green paint = St. Patrick's Day awesomeness.

Unfortunately, I can't cut a straight line to save my life our kitchen knives are really dull. We ended up with this:

{A couple of okay shamrocks, but mostly...not.}
The Boy was pretty disappointed. Soooo, we took a page from Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood. (The Boy hates it when I sing the "When Something Seems Bad" song, but I do it anyway.)

And this is what The Boy came up with as a solution:

Painting his own shamrocks! He was pretty happy with that. Crisis averted.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

101 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum

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...not my top picks--I haven't been homeschooling long enough for that! I'm talking about Cathy Duffy's 101 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum.

When I was planning The Boy's kindergarten year, an earlier edition of this book was THE number-one best resource that I found. I checked out this new edition from the library as soon as it was available--partly because I wanted to use it to help me plan The Boy's next year, and partly just to see what's new.

The first few chapters of the book help you get yourself together--figuring out your homeschool philosophy, your learning/teaching style, your children's learning styles, and so on. I always want to skip those chapters, but I plow on...because the work you do in those chapters is important for using The Chart.

(That's just what I call it, capitalized like that. Because I love The Chart. A lot.)

The Chart is the next section of the book. It has each of the top picks listed by subject. The top picks are a pretty good mix of curricula I've heard of (Saxon Math, All About Spelling) and curricula I haven't (Genevieve Foster books?). And then The Chart rates each top pick, on a scale of 1 to 5, on all kinds of things--what learning styles it works for, which homeschool philosophies fit with it (told ya that you should do those first chapters!), how easy it is to use, how much writing it requires, whether it has religious content...and more.

After The Chart, you'll find the actual reviews of each of the top picks, with more details about how each program works. I've only read the first few chapters of this new edition, and I'm so excited to plan this next school year (our "year" starts in April) that I might explode or something.

Or...instead of exploding, maybe I'll just make myself a Super Nerd t-shirt and call it good. Hmm...yeah, probably that.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Kid Craft: Footprint Penguin

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Footprint Penguin Craft
I got this idea from Pinterest, and it originally came from Little Family Fun. Click through there to see the tutorial.

Although, really...you can probably figure it out from the photo. In which the penguin should look black, not gray. But whatever.

The Boy finished putting his penguin together in about twenty minutes, so this is a good, quick project for a boring winter afternoon. He only needed help with tracing his foot. (Word of advice on the foot tracing: if your kiddo is ticklish, make sure you have a good grip on that foot while you're trying to trace it!)

And on a related note: what the heck is going on with construction paper these days? I got a big pack of Crayola construction paper from Amazon, and it's super flimsy and the colors are faded. I thought it'd be better quality, being Crayola and all.

So, what brand of construction paper should I get next time? Anyone have a suggestion? Because I'm not buying this stuff again.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Bring Back the Home...

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(Found picture  here)

At the beginning of the year I decided to sign the girls up for an at home charter school. Essential we got funding to buy books through the program and funding for doing activities. I thought it was an amazing idea. We only had to report once a month and do a few other report things. Don't get me wrong, it's a good program that we are going to continue doing.

However, it feels like all we do is worksheets. And worksheets. And worksheets. My scientist has been telling me how bored she is, and honestly so am I. I've stopped preparing fun activities. Stopped spending hours getting excited for the next day. I've become as bored as my kids.

I was discussing this with my husband and he's noticed it to. School isn't fun. It's boring. Yep, it's as boring as public school.

So this next week or so, I'm going to start working really hard at bringing back the home to our homeschooling. I'm going to start looking things up, creating new fun games, and get the love back for teaching my kids. This way they will get the love of learning back.

My first idea that we are starting today are the smiley faces. Every time the girls finish a subject they get a smiley face. On the back of them there is an activity or something fun. Some of the ideas on the smiley's are: drawer, paint, pick 3 craft items and create, spin a dice and that's how much computer time you, 15 jumping jacks, draw with pastels, model clay, and etc. So far the girls seem excited!

What do you do to make homeschooling fun for you? and your kids?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Kid Craft: Embroidered Valentine Card

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Sounds fancy, right? It's really not hard, though.

This photo's been floating around Pinterest lately:

[photo by Red Bird Crafts]
Click on the photo credit link to go through to the tutorial. When I saw it, I thought, "Hey, The Boy could do that. Probably." The only way to know is to try, so we did.

Embroidered Valentine Card

The Boy caught on pretty quickly, and it didn't take very long to finish. The card turned out just like the ones in the tutorial. (Different colors, though.) I'd definitely recommend it, as long as your kid can handle one of those blunt needles. I think it would also be cute as a Valentine's Day decoration.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Yo, I Heard You Like Reading

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"Reading changes your life. Reading unlocks worlds unknown or forgotten, taking travelers around the world and through time. Reading helps you escape the confines of school and pursue your own education. Through characters--the saints and sinners, real or imagined--reading shows you how to be a better human being."

-Donalyn Miller

I just started reading Donalyn Miller's book, The Book Whisperer. I'm not very far into it yet, but I really like it so far. Especially that quote up there. Reading does change lives. I love that any kid can be inspired to be a reader.

Also...The Boy thinks it's hilarious that I'm reading a book about reading.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


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So Andrea was talking about what she did for Handwriting. I thought I'd share what we do. We are using Handwriting Without Tears.. 

But. That's not what this post is about. We also do what I call "journals." Each day they have to draw a picture in their book about something that happened, or anything else they want to draw a picture about. Then they have to write a sentence trying to spell each word themselves. Then I write it the correct way. And then they re-write it correctly. It's helped my girls become a lot more cautious about their writing, and they try a lot harder to get it right the first time and make it neat. If they get it right the first time, they don't need to re-write it.  Here are some examples from our first few entries:
Homeschool Handwriting Journal
Homeschool Handwriting Journal

                                (Appletree is a place.. she wasn't talking about apple trees)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Valentine's Day is in TWO WEEKS.

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Okay, it's a little more than two weeks away. Close enough.

We don't do as many arts and crafts around here as I would like to do. The Boy enjoys them when he's doing them, but he doesn't ask to do them very often--he's usually busy building something. And I honestly forget.

(That's one reason that I recruited Melissa for this blog--she's waaaay better at kids' arts and crafts than I am.)

Anyway, I do make an effort to do art projects when a holiday is coming up. Even then, we keep things simple. This photo is from last year. It's just a printable color-by-number, which The Boy wanted to paint instead of color. (I don't remember where that color-by-number came from, but Education.com has one here.)

Now that Valentine's Day is so close--it ALWAYS sneaks up on me--I've got to get in gear! We'll probably do some of the stuff I have pinned, and I know we'll be doing more coloring sheets. 

I also like Melissa's idea in her last post, where her kids had to earn their art supplies to make Valentine's decorations. Do you readers have any good Valentine's art/craft ideas? Go ahead and share them!

Friday, January 25, 2013

So, you homeschool?

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Usually that question is followed by the comment, "I could never."

Homeschooling has it's ups and downs. I don't know one parent who homeschool who has had everyday be a good day. It take a lot of patience and a lot of redoing things.

Yesterday we had a bad day. I really bad day.
Pie for Breakfast: Earning Art Time
 So, it was time to try something new. I decided that we would do a craft to decorate for Valentine's Day. In order to do the craft my kids had to earn each item they needed by doing their different subjects. They each need to earn scissors, glue, each color of glitter, and paper. Once they earned the items we made some decorations. This also meant we were done all our school work. It worked amazingly!

We will be making decorations until Valentine's day. I'm thinking of also making Valentine cookies, Valentine cards to send, pretty much anything I can think of as a craft for Valentine's day... Yes, it worked that well.. Once it stops working, I will have to come up with another plan, but for now, I'm going to go play blocks with my kiddos because our schooling is already done!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Very Last Page!

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A Reason for Handwriting K
I think I've mentioned this before, but in case I haven't--we started The Boy's kindergarten "school year" in March. Because we could, that's why! That's really the only reason.

And now, as we're rounding the final corner toward finishing up this school year, I've noticed that we're not at all in the same place in every subject. We still have a ton of lessons left in The Boy's math program, and we just bought and started an Explode the Code workbook. I'm pretty sure that we won't finish either of those by March.

But that's okay, and it's one of those cool things about homeschooling. I don't feel any pressure to keep our subjects perfectly lined up. Last March, I planned things out so that we'd finish everything at the same time, but I knew life would happen and our schedule wouldn't go perfectly. We just needed a plan to start out with.

Anyway, I'm getting off track here. The point of this post is that The Boy did the very last page of his handwriting workbook today--that means we actually finished one subject early! And we didn't even do handwriting every day. A Reason for Handwriting K only has 80-ish lessons, so finishing by the end of the year wasn't hard. Heh.

It feels weird, though, with this being our first official year and having finished our first workbook. (The Boy likes workbooks. A lot.) It's like the beginning of the end...of the beginning...hmm. Yeah, that sounded better in my head. But it's a weird feeling, even if I can't express it very well.

For the next few weeks, I'm going to make up some handwriting worksheets. Probably with sentences from whatever read-aloud we're reading from. That's an idea that I saw...somewhere...anyway, I didn't come up with it myself. But I think The Boy will like it.

For next "year," I'm not sure what we're going to do for handwriting yet. I don't think I want to continue with A Reason for Handwriting--I'm not really into using Bible verses for handwriting. (If you are, though, that's perfectly fine with me.) Anyone have a handwriting workbook or program that they like?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Tues-day, Sew-day.

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First of all. It's been a while.. and a lot has changed.

In a last minute moment, my husband applied to a different University. He got accepted, and so we moved. It's been a stressful, very eventful, and we're hoping things will start calming down.

What's your favorite part of homeschooling? One of my favorite parts is seeing where my children interests are. I've focused a lot on my Scientist's interest. I figured it was educational so I should really encourage it. However I felt like I wasn't really reaching my Fashionista.. For Christmas she wanted a sewing machine. What 6 year old do you know that wants a sewing machine and fabric??? My awesome mom found a smaller sewing machine, bought different kinds of fabric, and gave it to her for Christmas. On Christmas day we sewed a pillowcase together. She was SO happy.
Pie for Breakfast: Homeschool Sewing Skills
We decided that Tuesdays would be our sew days. Sadly last week, she misbehaved and lost it. Today is going to be our first official sew day. I'm excited. We're going to use some old clothing and make baby doll blankets out of them.

I love that I am able to help my children develop the talents that they are interested in. That is why I home-school. To strengthen my kids in areas that they have talents. (yes along with to strengthen their struggle areas too) I've learned that each kid is SO different. I don't know how public school could even work. I think children learn so much through experiences. Each kid needs to learn through their own experiences, the ones that they are interested in. Home-schooling lets me plan accordingly!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Kindergarten Read-Aloud: The Wizard of Oz

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Reading. It's important. Perhaps you've heard?

(For more on the benefits of reading aloud to your children, and to get some read-aloud ideas, go here, here, and here. And check out The Read Aloud Handbook, which I've gushed about before.)

Reading aloud is one of the best parts of our school day. The Boy reads to me, and I read to him. It's good for both of us--time to sit back, cuddle up, and read together.

We've been using Sonlight A for part of our curriculum this year, and I'll be honest--some of the read-alouds (the chapter books that I read to him) have gone right over the poor boy's head. So we've skipped a few. He did enjoy My Father's Dragon, The Boxcar Children, and The Story of Dr. Doolittle. Our latest attempt has been The Wizard of Oz.

And let me tell ya...this one was a hit with him. He follows the story well, and he likes the wacky characters. (Way wackier than the movie. Just sayin'.) So if you've been having trouble getting lower-grade kids into read-alouds, give this one a try.

Our next read-aloud, after we finish Oz, is one that I'm super excited about. I'll post about that one once we get going with it.

Do you guys have any good suggestions for kindergarten or first-grade read-alouds? I'm always looking for more to add to my list, and I'm sure our readers are, too.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Aaaand We're Back! And We're Memorizing Stuff.

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Well, hey there! I'm really glad you're here. And that you've put up with our absence. I'll let Melissa explain a little about what she's been up to when she posts next. If you'd like to know more about where I've been, head on over to this post on my personal blog.

And now, the good stuff! Our homeschool routine was pared down to the basics during November and December. On most days, our routine was: read-aloud, handwriting, and a math worksheet. That's the bare minimum for us. 

I did squeeze in a couple of other things when I felt up to it, and this is one of them. I'd read part of The Core, by Leigh Bortins, and although I didn't love everything she had to say, I really liked what she said about memorization. The Boy is six years old, and he's at the perfect stage to memorize piles of stuff--planets, U.S. presidents, state capitals, that kind of thing. (Just an example. We haven't memorized any of that stuff yet.) When he's older and ready to learn at a deeper level, he'll have the basic facts memorized and ready to use.

Buuuut...I didn't know where to start, and I wasn't very motivated to put a lot of energy into anything homeschool-related. So I was racking my own memory, trying to come up with something we could start with that would be easy to memorize. Preferably something with a catchy tune. 

I finally came up with The Books in the Book of Mormon. (Click through to hear the song.) The Boy picked it up pretty quickly, so I made these cards to test whether he could put them in order on his own:

...which he did easily. So now I'm stuck on what to memorize next. Should I stick with the scriptures, and have him learn the songs for the books of the Old Testament and New Testament? Or should we move on to something completely different? Choices, choices.

(By the way, I'm not in any way saying that you must teach your grammar-stage child The Books in the Book of Mormon. I'll bet if you think about it, though, you know a catchy song that helped you memorize something when you were a kid. Start with that.)

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