Sunday, June 5, 2016

2015-2016 Curriculum Review (Sonlight)

Just Google these titles. I didn't want to link everything. :) Here's how we liked what we did this year for Kinder/1st grade.

Right Start Math B- 
We loved this math! There were a few times when Kruiser would complain about having to do it, but once we got started he almost always had fun. It is very hands on, & the worksheets are minimal which was perfect for us this year. Math is my weakest subject, so I wanted something scripted for myself. I followed this thing word for word! (And that is not my personality. I am usually tweaking curricula like crazy.) I questioned the techniques many times in the beginning, but when I started "getting it" and started seeing the fruit in Kruiser, I realized it was all worth it. We went more slowly than it recommended, taking 1-3 days to finish each lesson, but it was a grade level ahead, so it was ok with me!

Sonlight Core A-
I am literally in love with Sonlight! We are not using it next year, because I want the boys to be on the same level, and Skipper (age 4) is not at all ready for that yet. I am going to go through withdrawals. I may even use the PreK level for Skipper some. It looks excellent as well. The books are amazing, for the most part. They have changed the content for this year, so I am only going to review those books that we read that are also STILL included in the Core A list.

Story Bible & History books- Excellent! We read Wild Places, Living Long Ago, & the Usborne Encyclopedia.
Dr. Doolittle- We loved it. Very funny. (Don't watch the old movie. It's boring for this age group. :) )
Please & Thank You Book- Excellent. Lots of good tips for kids. Kruiser loves "rules", so he liked it.
My Father's Dragon- This one may have been a LITTLE over his head, but we enjoyed it for the most part. We made an island out of modeling compound, and then added little plastic animals we had as read about each one. That was fun!
Dolphin Adventure & Treasure- These books are super simple, but he really enjoyed them. We watched Dolphin Tale afterward. It's great.
The Light at Tern Rock- Not our favorite. A little over his head. It has a good moral but is a little boring.
A Grain of Rice- Again, this has a great moral, but I'm not sure he fully understood it.
A Hundred Dresses- The book starts slowly, but the moral is VERY clear. We still talk about what we learned from it!
Twenty & Ten- Some things went over his head, but he understood the main plot. It's a great story.
Boxcar Children- We read this 1st, and I think he talked about it alll year. I think it was his favorite. It was actually one of my least favorite to read, even though I read all of them as a child, but even my 3yo enjoyed it. We watched the movie after (which is pretty much exactly like the book) on Netflix.
Mary on Horseback- No, just no. I'm really surprised this made the cut on the new list! It's not age appropriate in my opinion, both in comprehension and subject matter.
Johnny Appleseed- Pretty good. Maybe so so.
Here's a Penny- We loved this one! One of the favorites. Cute story. We are reading the sequel next year.
No Children, No Pets- Some went over his head but overall a good story.
Winnie the Pooh (we read House at Pooh Corner instead, but they are super similar)- We both loved it! He even got a lot of the humor I thought he would miss. We watched the 70's Disney movie afterward.

Beezus & Romana was one of his favorites, and they took it off. :( There's a movie for that one too. Not like the book but clean.

We did this sheet to summarize each book. I changed "themes" to "moral". He just dictated to me the answers.

Abeka Phonics & Handwriting-
I love Abeka for language arts (well, not literature, but grammar, phonics, etc.) Kruiser was not a fan, but he isn't a fan of many worksheets. I am very eclectic in my approach to teaching, and what determines curriculum style for me, even more than the child's learning style, is the subject. This is my and Kruiser's best subject, so we didn't need anything fancy, hands on, or scripted. It comes naturally to us. Despite his protests, he learned a ton & moved quickly, finishing the 1st grade phonics, many of their readers, & the kinder handwriting. We have switched to Simply Charlotte Mason for handwriting (their copywork books), when we finished the K book, and he likes those better. But I think the little house drawing was so important in helping him learn to write this year! But we will stick with SCM for handwriting now and will only be using Abeka for phonics next year. (And for grammar in the future. I just can't let it go. It's excellent!)

Apologia Swimming Creatures-
We loved it! I skipped over some of the more complicated concepts while reading it to him, but it was good. We did this at co-op where I taught 6th graders the same thing. They enjoyed it as well!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Curriculum '15-'16

Here's a peek at our curriculum choices this year! We are excited! 

Kruiser (Kinder/1st Grade):

History/Bible/Literature (read alouds)
Sonlight Core A! 
We are already loving this set. I bought the Instructor's Guide on E-bay, and then I found all the books on the list on various sites- Amazon used, Paper Back Swap, Half Price Books, etc. We are also doing the Create-a-Calendar and timeline. 

Right Start Math. Some online friends recommended this for a very hands-on curriculum. It's pretty teacher intensive, and pretty pricey, but I chose it because Kruiser is not writing well yet. I didn't want to stress him out with a workbook based curriculum. The other reason is because Math is my weakest subject, and I wanted a great script for myself. This is an award-winning program, and we really like it so far! We started with B, the 1st grade level, but we are going more slowly than it recommends. Some lessons take us 2 days to get through, which is fine with me!

Language Arts-
ABeka. I just got the Phonics workbook, and we are still working through the Handbook for Reading from last year. We'll finish it before the end of the year though. I have tons of their old readers from my mom and various other readers as well. We just started the Kindergarten level handwriting book.

Apologia. This we do through our co-op, once a week. I read the chapter to him at home, and then he has one worksheet per week to complete. With most of those, he's dictating to me what to write. :) Our focus is on History this year, so this is just a fun add-on.

He also has a memory class and fun phonics class at co-op. And I pull other fun things for him to fill his workboxes- maze books, puzzles, random worksheets and learning activities. 

Skipper (3 YO Tot School):

Skipper loves animals, so I figured this would be right up his alley! We do the letter art and ONE other worksheet from the weekly bundle each week. I also have one of those huge PreK workbooks from Sam's we pull from if he wants to do other worksheets. He is MUCH more prone to want to do worksheets/coloring than Kruiser was at that age.

The other resource I use is Easy Peasy All in One Homeschool. Getting Ready 1 has lots of links to fun vidoes on each letter. Getting Ready 2 has great "math" links to videos and internet games. We do one video/game per day. All free!

Skipper will also be going to co-op, where he will have stories, chapel, crafts, and also a memory class with big brother.

The other thing we do is "tot trays". I have 2 white shelves from Wal-Mart that hold 6 trays, just like these. I place different things out each week, and he chooses what he wants to work on with me. I will post some ideas in the future, hopefully, but this site has tons!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Kids' Checklist for Non-school Days

This post probably would have been better timed at the BEGINNING of the summer, since that's when kids are out of school with unstructured time. But it can work on weekends as well. We are beginning homeschooling year round this year, so I will also use it on those weeks off during the nice spring & summer months (when the rest of you will be stuck inside all day... I'm not gloating ;) )

This list is for a 5, almost 6 YO, so you would want to add more for an older child, to keep them busier. 

He checks them off as he goes. Some things are at certain times, like rest time. With others, he can choose the order. I don't make him do the worksheet or chores on Sundays. Under "pick one", I have: make a card or picture to mail to a family member, bake something for a neighbor, help Mom or Dad with something, read for 15 min, listen to a book on tape, I-pad educational games for 15 min, learning activity Mom picks. (You can add your own.)

I don't use this on days where we're gone all day. If we're just gone for the morning, sometimes I'll cross things like "room time" off the list. 

The reward- Screen time! He gets an hour of screen time, but not until all this is done. :) It works really well for us, and sometimes he gets so involved in whatever he's doing, he forgets about screen time, at least for awhile....

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Simple Color/Art Tot Curriculum

Looking for something simple to teach your kiddo his colors and art at the same time? Skipper really enjoyed this that we did last year. 

Here are the free print outs we used. (We use lots from this curriculum.) Just pick out which picture you want for each color. I printed on card stock. Then I came up with a different art medium for each color. Here's what we did:
Blue- markers & crayons (not shown)
Orange- paint with brush
Green- finger paint
Yellow- dot marker
Red- stamps
Brown- water color (he added in some other colors ;) )
White- cotton balls
Purple- tissue paper
We stapled them into a book when finished. 

Some action shots...

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

5 minute soothing to sleep technique

Being around my sisters-in-law over the holidays (3 of whom have newborns) made me reminiscent of that stage, some memories being good and some very stressful. Questions like, "I wonder if he got enough at the last feed?", "it's only been 2 hours; could he be hungry again??", and "WHY is she crying?!" Made me remember asking those same questions, over and over. 

We discussed parenting styles and books on sleep, babywise, baby whisperer, happy sleep habits, and the rest of them. We were very middle of the road with our babies, routined but flexible. No co-sleeping yet no cry-it-out either, for example. If you also find yourself somewhere in between two extremes, this technique may appeal to you.

This is something I came up with on my own, merging various methods I had read about, but it worked so well for my kids. This is for when you know baby doesn't need to eat and it's nap or bedtime, but he is fighting going down. I also would not personally use this method until 3/4 months. 

  1. Do your normal sleep time routine. Put them down drowsy but awake. 
  2. Wait until they start crying. A baby who is awake but not upset is completely fine to leave to see if they will go to sleep on their own.
  3. When they start crying, give them 5 minutes.
  4. Go in and rock or bounce for no more than 5 minutes, then put back down.
  5. Repeat this process. I have only had to do this cycle more than 3 times once. Usually after the second time, they are asleep. 
  6. This is important! If baby starts closing his eyes before the 5 minutes of soothing are up, put them down then. Don't wait until the 5 min are up. It's best that they get used to falling asleep in their beds at this age.
  7. The 5 min of crying only counts cry time, so if they stop crying for a few minutes, I start the timer over again when they start up again. I also may not start the timer until they really got going crying.
  • Your time soothing them is greatly diminished. It accelerates the total time to fall asleep.
  • You'll be surprised at what you can get done in 5 minutes in between soothings. Do something productive; don't just sit and watch the clock. (Especially if you are like me and can't stand crying).
  • The 5 min of crying tires them out so that when you go back in, they are much more ready to go to sleep. Usually the 3rd time I go in, they start nodding off right after I pick them up.
  • They are learning to fall asleep on their own, but not in a way that is harmful to their brains. 
 Have you had success with a different sleep method? Please share....

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Our new Toy/School Room!

I wanted to share our school/toy room. The kids love it as much as I do. :) They share a bedroom, so there are NO toys in there, and then that freed up this room to play in! This is the back right corner. The table & chairs were $30 on Amazon; I want to replace it eventually with a DIY, cute wooden table, but for now, this works. We use it for "table time".

 This the back right corner, our bulletin board and whiteboard. The pocket chart was in the dollar aisle @ Target, as were the animal flashcards. We're doing animal studies for science for the first 10 weeks, and we started with Jungle Animals. 

I've had this calendar since I taught Pre-K 8 years ago! 

Back left corner: The shelves hold our circle/calendar time binders, my school planning binder, and then I have whatever we need for the week in the plastic drawers, so I won't have to hunt things down when we need them. 

This was a Pinterest project reading nook. I cut the mesh off of one side of the pack-n-play and put a crib sheet over the top for a "fort" feel. 

Their work displayed.

Front left corner: This is the exercise area. They come up with routines in the morning during our circle time. We have a mini trampoline, a Waldorf rocker board, a balance disc, and a 5 lb. kettle bell. The stickers on the wall are all of Kruiser's Star Wars stickers. I gave him one wall, and said, "have at it!" lol

Front right corner: TV and train table.

The whole room from the door you walk in. 

I may need to add a pic of the closet later, because it is sweet. Just to the left, before you walk in is a deep walk-in closet where I store MOST of the toys, and all the school stuff. It makes me happy. :) This is a rent house which is the reason for the boring paint color for a play room!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Kindergarten Plans!

We have decided to do Kindergarten level with Kruiser next year. His birthday is right after the cut-off so technically he would be in PreK next year, but one good thing about homeschooling is that you can do what you want!


We are starting memorization with this catechism this year with K & Skipper (age 2). So excited. :)

This lady has written a 4-day-a-week curriculum on this book. It's excellent. It mostly consists of having conversations with your child. This is right up K's alley. We needed a break from all the crafts and activities!


I learned to read with this book, and I love it. It just makes sense to me. It takes you all the way from short vowel sounds through all the phonemes, with lots of practice. We'll also use Abeka readers in addition to BOB readers.

A phonics workbook we'll pull from.

And, as always, I will read aloud to them...


LOVE Kumon for reluctant writers, which Kruiser definitely is! We will still take it slowly in this area.


 For at least the next 2 years, we are planning on doing science one year and then history the next. Here's what we're doing for science this year. This will be for both boys.

Animal studies (8-9 wks)- I found this neat packet on various types of animals. Skipper loves animals, so I'm hoping he'll enjoy this!
Health/Safety (3-4 wks)
Experiments (kinder level fun stuff) (8-9 wks)
Nature Study (6-7 wks)- Go on nature walks, find stuff we want to "research" or learn more about. Collect bugs, rocks, etc. Learn about trees, plants, birds, whatever they are interested in. Very unstructured. Below is a great book I found for science for any elementary aged child.


We decided not to go with a formal curriculum or workbook this year. Partly because of his writing apprehension and partly because of this information (scroll down to "What Should we Then do?") Ironically, he randomly tells me math facts he has figured out on his own throughout the day, so we will just play with it, work with manipulatives, etc. This is the way we did it this year, and it went really well. I have play mats from The Mailbox, this clock, and am ordering some play $$ as well. We may do a couple activities per week.

My Kinder Pinterest Board.