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Friday, July 29, 2011

Lotso Linkage...

Berenstein Bears Curriculum for a Year
This is really a nice resource and FREE if you're looking for a character developing curriculum for young children. I really like the usage of classic books from back in the day (at least in my day)that have very good messages. Check this one out for sure!

Free File Folder Games for all kinds of subjects and topics! I love file folder games, by the way , and so do my kids

Certainly going to use these with Lillie's Natural Spelling Program.

I really would like to get this book to add to my growing collection of "grown folk" books.

Friday Fun-Day...Flyin' High

So , to give the kiddos and myself a bit of a break from school work, Fridays will be kinda a free day. Short review of what we've covered the past week and then a special fun project or activity for that day.
This Friday, we read this book....

And to go along with the book we made paper airplanes. And by WE , I mean, me of course because they couldn't get the folds . Here's the plane we made...anything more complicated than this one and my one endangered brain cell would be offically extinct.

Here are some pictures of the festivities. The kids had a blast and I came close to losing an eye several times.

What Would I Do Without the Internet?

Shudder to think! LOL . I posted just the other day about Jack's career aspriations (at least this month) I think I've finally convinced him being a wild west gunslinger PROBABLY isn't the most realistic job fields.
But he's always loved animals and would rather watch a National Geographic Documentary than eat bologna and that's serious passion people! No one loves bologna more than Jack, nuff said. The girls aren't AS animal crazy, so I would really like to do some special things with Jack to prepare him for his monthly career choice, a vet or zoologist.
Found this this morning and it's FREE! Have I mentioned lately how I LOVE that word? Oh, I have? Sorry...I just want to scream it from the rooftop of my doublewide, but my neighbors probably already think we're a bit strange.

Check out all the other curriculum Erica has developed and it's SO VERY AFFORDABLE and looks to be of great quality. Explore around her site and get your bucket full of encouragement and ideas. Show her some love!

Discovering God's Animals

Just Some Reminders....

I found this on a blog awhile back and can't for the life of me remember who the wise momma was that wrote this...if any of you know, leave me a comment so I can give credit where credit is due. I have this typed up and framed under a picture of my kids and it hangs above my desk where I see it. It helps me stay focused on the BIG picture instead of freaking out over the small stuff. I hope it helps and encourages you homeschool mommas out there today, cause Lord knows we need to lift one another up! We've got alot on our plates, especially this time of year.

*Prepare them first for eternity, then for that order.
*Don't try to cover everything-no school could ever do that!
*Grade levels are not as important as allowing each child to learn at his own pace.
*Grades are irrelevant to children who understand the benefits of becoming a lifelong learner.
*Don't forget they are people, not educational products.
*No curriculum or method can "guarantee" success.
*Your own prayer and devotional life are vital to hearing God's aid and guidance.
*Don't let pride or fear lead you...let peace be your decision maker.

Have a blessed day!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tyler's Birthday and 4th of July

Yeah, yeah, I's old news, but my camera takes so long to load to blogger that it's pure torture to find enough time to post a picture heavy item. But, finally, here's the few pics I got from the holiday weekend.

I think it's obvious how he feels about cake....Two of my SweetiesDa Man!He looks as if he might have some sinister plot rolling around in his head...either that or he knows something we don't.You know you're the parent of many children when you catch your baby doing something very dangerous but instead of flipping out you run to find the camera because you think "That would make such a great picture." LOLI'm not sure what this look was for...but he's cute no matter what face he has on.Sweet Girl....

Doesn't this game look fabulously dangerous and totally age IN appropriate LOL I want to build one for myself.

Have a blessed day!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

2011-2012: Tyler

Isn't this pose HILARIOUS!

Before you think I've lost my rocker...I am not schooling Tyler LOL...just needed an excuse to post some pics and I don't want to leave him out. However, that being said...Tyler's educational plan consists of teaching him to NOT do things...For instance...

1. Fish in the toilets

2. Bite into Food Coloring

3. Sticking his Fingers into electrical outlets

4. Use his teeth for evil instead of good.

2011-2012: Chloe

I can't leave Chloe out of the mix. She's only 4 so forget doing anything formal with her. I haven't worked much with her, but she already knows most of the Kindergarten skills. My focus will be on Math and Reading with copywork, but pre-writing skills. She'll do phonics but I'm only going to work with her a couple days a week...lots of learning at her age takes place in the course of daily life and also by sitting in with Jack and Lillie Anna as they do their work. But here's a couple of things I am going to do with her for sure....

Starfall (Which she can do herself)

Letter of the Week from No Time For Flashcards (This is a great resource and we'll do one letter a week + a related book. There are activites for upper and lower case.) I will pre-cut the shapes and assemble the pieces in ziploc bags and make kits so we can just pull one down whenever she wants to do one.

Letter mini books in which we'll hunt through magazines to find words that begin with each letter of the alphabet and then put them in a binder in pockets.

The key for Chloe's age is flexible , fun, easy going learning. Let her join in with the older ones whenever she wants, let her work when she wants. I do want to spend 20 minutes just me and her before starting with the others so that she doesn't get lost in the mix. From all the books I've been reading lately my mind is at ease with this approach. I think the tendency is to rush kids at this age (girls more so than boys it seems) to try to get them hitting milestones early for whatever reason. But I've lived and learn and agree whole heart with such great minds and pioneers in changing the way we see children as far as development and learning go as Dr. Raymond and Dorothy Moore and Ruth Beechick. Better Late Than Early! Their wisdom and research and documented studies have made such a difference in the way I will take on the task of educating my kids...I am so thankful.

2011-2012: Jack

Jack just turned 6 and is very excited about being in the first grade. This year, instead of going super involved , my main focus will be on math , reading , and writing. I will combine science, history , and Geography with Lillie and Chloe. It would just be far too complicated to try and personalize these subjects, especially as they can be adapted easily to fit any target age.

BIBLE: Drawing the Bible, Memory Verse (Bi-Weekly), Copywork from Scripture

READING: Phonics: Explode the Code 1 , 1/2, and 2

Sight Words: The School Bell Dolch Word Kit (FREE)

Word Families: 1+1+1=1 Word Family Folders (Not Going to Follow Exactly, but it inspired me to try and use lapbooking to help Jack learn the word families.

Word Way Activities

Apples4Teacher Word Family Activities (Free and Excellent Variety

of activities and resources.)

Construct a Word Game

Here's some more GO TO sites for Early Reading and Phonics:


Word Blender

Kid Zone Phonics

MATH: Working Through a List of Skills (Read Lillie's Schedule Below for Links)


HISTORY, SCIENCE, GEOGRAPHY: The Same as Lillie Anna, except I want to do something a little extra with Jack. He loves animals and has already said he wants to be a vet or a zoologist or biologist, so I'm going to use this free animal report form and we're going to do 2 animals a week and make a sort of field guide. I also will incorporate more biology in our science this year to cater to his desire to learn about animals.

2011-2012: Lillie Anna

Lillie Anna is going to be 8 years old in September and she is at that age where fostering that love of learning is critical. That window of opportunity is going to close in a few years and there is so much I have missed that I want to give many things I wish I could do over now that I'm slightly older and wiser. But God's able to turn our mistakes around, I truly believe that. After searching high and low, list after list, comparing prices (and finally deciding I can get by with not buying things LOL) here's the general plan. Keep in mind this is going to be scattered as I just tend to jot things down throughout the day as they come to me so it's not uncustomary to see little slips of paper laying all over the place with ideas. This will also be lengthy with lots of links and things because she is also at the age where formal lessons really begin to come into play.


I will read Catherine Voss's Story Bible. In addition, I am going to use my Ed Emberley Make a World Drawing Book and have her make her own little book about each story where she illustrates it and writes it herself. Here is the article that gave me the idea. We will discuss the key issues of the story.

Here's a sample of Ed Emberley's books (I love his focus on simple kids LOVE his books and I hope to be able to invest in them all) He takes simple shapes and step by step shows how to build up to the finished product. I love the Make a World because it has a little of everything in it and it's like heaven for the artistically challenged, such as myself.

Bible Verse Memorization : 1 verse bi monthly. Any time shorter than this I don't think she commits it to long term memory and verse memorization needs to be a life long habit and retention should be the key, not the number of stickers on the verse chart.

She will copy the verse every other day for some handwriting practice. This will help her spelling also, I think.

She will be assigned a passage of scripture to read...probably one a week.

READING: Explode the Code Book 4, Amelia Bedilia books for readers. I also started a reading incentive program for Lillie to encourage more independent reading. For every book she reads by herself I give her 25 cents. Another thing I've been doing is using a tape recorder for her to record herself reading. Lillie Anna tends to get embarassed easily if she makes a mistake and so she doesn't like to read to other people and that includes me. So when she's ready to read a book, I let her record herself in her room all by herself. Then later I go back and listen to it and follow along with the book to see if there's anything I need to address. Early on in her education I was so very stupid as to push her with reading because I fell prey to that whole "She needs to be reading by the first grade" spill everyone thinks is correct. I pushed her when she was not ready and now I will do anything I can to help her reclaim a love for reading, even bribing her with money. I'm not above it . LOL

MATH: This area is where I tend to freak out the most because I myself am not very good at math, or at least never felt like I was. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree obviously because I can see alot of the same issues I had with math in school cropping up with Lillie and I don't want her to hate math or think she can't do it. So I looked through my Home Learning Year by Year by Rebecca Rupp (this is a great book and I've plum worn it out) and started in the first grade math section (yes, Lillie is in 3rd, but when you don't go by a packaged curriculum , gaps can be a real issue if you don't stay on top of the list of skills commonly suggested for the grade your child is in.) and made a list of math skills and topics we needed to cover and ones we needed to review through the 3rd grade...I was pleased there weren't more gaps to say the least.

So I will take that list and we will knock those out one by one the goal being mastery of those skills as opposed to finishing the whole list by the end of the year.

Lots of hands-on games and activities, online computer games, worksheets and real life experience.

Here are some of my favorite resources for math worksheets and activities

Lesson Pathways I strongly suggest this site for all subjects. It covers all subjects grade K-5. You can assign pathways to each child and it's TOTALLY FREE. Music to my ears!

Super Teacher Worksheets BEST WORKSHEET SITE EVER!!!!!!!!!! And I only use all caps when I'm really really really pleased with something.

COPYWORK: Daily/ Bible verses, poetry etc....

SCIENCE: Nature Study at least twice a month (it's kinda hard to take walks with all the kids right now on a weekly basis)

Weekly Science Experiments pulled from the books I have here at the house and the internet.(FREE)

Human Body (yes...still)

Beakmans World and Magic Schoolbus from NETFLIX (Check out the all caps)

HISTORY: (Weekly) Topics I want to cover are the Presidents, Vikings, Explorers, Ancient Rome, Ancient China, Maya and Incan Civilizations.

We will use our Book of Centuries Timeline (This is FREE and it's Simply Charlotte Mason how can you go wrong?), books from the library, projects pulled off Lesson Pathways, Notebooking and some Lapbooking though I don't see alot of that going on right now as it's very time consuming and hard to get all the kids involved and you can't leave the others out, you know. :)

The History Channel has a This Day In History on their website...I thought it would be good to add these events to our book of centuries and if the kids showed an interest in learning more about an event, then we'd stray off the beaten path and explore a little. This way they're getting a lot of snip-its of history they can go back to.

Tennessee State History and hopefully some cheap field trips around the state throughout the year. This site is great if you're interested in Tennessee History.

GEOGRAPHY: World and United States ( Including the 50 States) Bi-Weekly

Notebooking will be or primary learning mode here. I have the GeoScribe (see previous post) set and the 50 states Copywork and Notebooking pages. Basically we will be using dry erase atlases (Basically a notebook of printed maps put into sheet protectors so that they can use dry erase markers on it and reuse the maps) to find the place we'll be learning about. I want the kids to make a Physical Geography (Landforms) picture atlas of their own. I was going to purchase the Geography Challenge Books by Arnold Cheyney, but the cheapskate in me who needs ink cartridges more than books right now decided to search out a FREE alternative...Enter National Geographic GEO BEE!

So funny how things change! LOL. Just this morning I was lamenting over what books to buy and now I don't have to buy any! I've found a reasonable and quality alternative to every single book I wanted to purchase. Now I can buy office supplies! LOL I'm like Meg Ryan in that movie You've Got Mail ( I too love a bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils.) And call me simple minded, but is it weird that I am super stoked that now I can justify buying myself a THREE HOLE PUNCH?!!!! I want a pink one! I have never had one and I am so very sick of using a single...oh yeah and a stapler! Not one of those dollar mini ones either...I mean one that holds a WHOLE ENTIRE ROW OF STAPLES!!!! Oh man, life is GOOD!

SPELLING: Lillie likes spelling like I do and she's very good at it, so I bought Kathryn Stouts Natural Speller to use. Kathryn Stout is one smart lady and her articles have helped me out alot lately.

WORD OF THE WEEK: Pretty self explanatory. Starting at Page One of our Childcraft Dictionary (a salvaged copy from my childhood...brings back good memories ..YES I read the the dictionary for fun.) one word a week. Copy the dictionary entry for it, work on it's spelling, use it in sentences, whatever.

I had purchased Karen Andreaola's Simply Grammar, but she doesn't suggest starting it until 9 and since this is my first year really covering a whole slew of subjects, I will gladly leave off one.

So, that's the plan for Lillie. I know it was lengthy and possibly very boring, but maybe the links will be helpful. I always like to see how other people schedule things and such and this will be a reminder for myself that I can go back to to stay on track.

Well, that time of year has rolled around for alot of homeschoolers and I wish you God's blessings on your journey!

Have a blessed day!

School Planning....AARGH

I am truly excited about this school year...finally feel like I've gotten some kinks worked out and my research has really helped me focus on what's important and not stress about what isn't. That being said...can I mention that I hate being broke this time of year? Seriously, I've spent a week working out my amazon and orders with some really great quality books and then this morning as I was working the budget, alas, the list has dwindled. I still might be able to pull off my full list once I see what this weeks payday looks like...but all this got me to pondering. Yes, I'm going to launch into a ramble...
Why is my excitement conditional on the material things? If I don't get the books on my list is that going to kill my enthusiasm? Because if I don't have some enthusiasm right out of the gate, then this year is going to not go as I want it to.
I have prided myself on the fact that I spend little to nothing on books and things for school...not because I necessarily like to have to do all the leg work it takes to school the way I do, but because I HAVE to. When you don't have a set curriculum and make up your own as you go, there's alot of work and hunting the internet for projects and free resources. But you know what? I kinda like the challenge. I'll see a product or curriculum component I like and if I can't buy it, I find a substitution that's either cheaper or free, or in many cases, just try to replicate it on my own. But necessity truly is the HOMESCHOOL mother of invention LOL. The challenge is to cover what you need to WHILE keeping it exciting AND within a reasonable price range.
So, here's my list of things I know I must buy:
INK for the printer
Paper for the printer
Index Cards
Folders (for Notebooking)
File Folders (for Lapbooks)
Notebook paper
Comp books for Nature Journals
(All of which is on a great sale this week at Walgreens, so that's where I'll spend quite a bit of my alloted money) THose are the musthaves for my school.

For now, I will order two books that I know I will use the most and use very early on in the year ;(the link is below, but I got mine alot cheaper on keep a list of the other books and resources so that I can buy them one or two at a time as the money becomes availiable:
Geography Challenge Levels 1 and 2 by Arnold Cheyney

Upon sorting through my vast cd roms of curriculum downloads, I realized that I had the Whole set of History Scribe and Geo Scribe! Also a 50 states copywork curriculum. I must've ordered these when they were dirt cheap on Currclick or something. But that's enough to pair with some library books (interlibrary loan here I come!) and videos from Netflix and you Tube to tide me over for the whole year if I want it to. Some lapbooks and a LOT of notebooking, plenty of science experiments (online for free) and fun hands on projects. Hopefully, while we study Tennessee History we can take a few nearly free field trips around the state!

School Registration Fees

I have to keep telling myself that money does not equal a good education. That God gave me the privilage and made a way for me to teach my children at home. It's his job to provide and my job to handle wisely what he provides and not complain or get all bummed out when I don't get to buy every book or item I'd like. What he gives me is GOOD and it is sufficient. And he has given me a healthy does of creativity and a knack for finding things on the internet and so I must be a good steward. I have a library card, now I just need grace to take all the kids into it LOL.

Am I bummed? Discouraged? NOPE...I'm still excited because I've finally gotten some answers and some confidence (Finally) that I can , in fact, do this afterall. I've asked God for help and he has been faithful to give it to me whether I liked it or any Good Father would.

I want to encourage all you homeschoolers who are in the midst of planning or are done and ready for a new , fresh year to be content and confident with what you have. God can make the little things HUGE if we'll let him.

Soon I hope to post some of my many lists I've made while planning and some of my go to sites. Alot of them you can find on my sidebar.

Have a blessed day!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Random Acts of Education...

Although I believe structure needs to exist in my "home" school, I'm a big fan of child led learning. While I've been working out school kinks and planning and such, the kids have been "educating" themselves and it's been a rather productive time learning wise for them with and without me. Chloe loves to count dots on dominoes.... And I know I just posted pictures of my school "corner", but I redid some here it is and I rather like it....

The new school table is actually our former living room endtable. It is huge and it's one of those pieces of furniture that stayed when the couch went and it's been shuffled from one end of the living room to the other and served no real function and never fit in anywhere you put it. Now it has a function again.

Okay, so she's not really mad at me...she just wanted me to take her picture "wearing her mad face"...she is really cute when she's angry.

That's her again with, I think, playdoh stuck up her nose...I can't be sure...not really sure I want to be sure....
We were making letters from playdoh...

Okay and so, playdoh is really awesome especially when you make your own because it always comes out a really good level of solidness and squishiness... Now, the objective was for Jack and I to form his sight words out of playdoh...he, as usual, had other things in

Making an anatomically accurate (at least for a 6 year old) human cadavor LOL....look at this guys ribs...LOL...his little pencil legs and his Mick Jagger-esque lips and bulging

All kidding aside, I was quite impressed that Jack not only initiated this on his own, but that it was really quite good. He was telling me the names of bones and organs as he did it and...well, that just goes to show that children not only learn alot on their own but that a relaxed environment really fosters learning and creativity. Learning takes place anytime a child is awake...whether you want them to learn or not...they crave it. And when they find their passion, whether it be zoology or cooking or writing or making playdoh anatomical figures, we as parents should just go with it .

Have a blessed day!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Happy First Birthday!

One Year ago today...Tyler Edward made it safely into the big world a happy , healthy little boy! Been thinking today on those months I carried him facing uncertain and , truthfully, scary moments. Getting through 7 months of a grim prognosis, the daily threat on his little life that my body placed on him, the weekly 8 hour treatments to give him a fighting chance, the moments of panic, the testing...all a testimony to the Bigness of my God and his provision and love and grace and strength! Those days are a fading memory as they have been replaced with daily life with my kiddos. But as Jack is my reminder of God's foreknowledge and his inclination towards performing miracles...Tyler will always be a reminder of how much God cares for me and how even in dark, troubled times he's behind the scenes working things out. Looking back at where I was a year ago today I can see some of what God wanted to accomplish through my situation. I was able to share HIS grace and what HE had done for me with countless doctors and nurses and people in waiting rooms and maybe God has used those times to touch someone's life for the better...I like to think so. See, God can use the good, but when things are good we don't see things clearly. God does his best work in the dark times...when all self reliance is stripped away and aside from God there seems to be no hope, nothing to look toward. It's been my experience that those times are the closest I have been to God. So Happy Birthday to Tyler and lots of thanks and praise to God for what he did for me and my family during that rough time.