Wednesday, August 24, 2011


E-V-E-R-Y  Y-E-A-R   I draw up this ridiculously detailed schedule and E-V-E-R-Y  Y-E-A-R  

it N-E-V-E-R works!!!!!!

So I've decided this year we are taking each day as it comes!!!!!! 

Now don't get me wrong, I plan out our daily lessons and there are things to get done but when they get done, that is kinda in the air. See all my children wake up at different times, and I kinda like that. It helps me get one on  one time with each child. So there is N-O typical day in our family. And I'm starting to understand that when you plan so much, you aren't prepared to go where God leads or you miss out on important moments with your children.I'm working on being more relaxed and grabs opportunities to teach when they pop up. And when the T.V is off, the DS is put away and your children can't use the computer at their leisure those moments happen more often than you would realize. Education becomes interesting instead of a struggle and learning occurs!!! Which is why we home school, to help our children learn to discover the world around them and the talents God has given them and you just can't schedule that. 

So if you were looking for a post with more details and ideas of how to run a more scheduled day, head on over the Not Back to School Blog Hop's last week and thanks for stopping by!!!!

Friday, August 19, 2011

My SuperStars

This is such a fun week for the Not Back to School Blog Hop: Student Week!!! 
I am honored to introduce to you my Prized Pupils




We will actually do some fun Back To School Photos, like last year, but not until September. These three blessings are why on the hardest days I keep going the distance with homeschool. Yes, there are days I want to drive to the public school and throw them out, but God always gives me a reason; when I am feeling at the end of my ropes, to stay the course. And so we go at it day by day which is how we have entered into our 5th year and will continue to do so every day this year!!!! Happy Homeschooling Everyone!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Bob Book: File Folder Game

We L-O-V-E Bob Books. My boys were a bit older when they started reading but since CJ is only 4, her progress is not as fast. She wants to read and can sound out simple words but I'm not pushing her into sight words just yet. To help her stay interested in sticking with sounding out words I made these file folder to compliment the word families focused on in the first 4 books of Set A1:

I'm also working on a magnetic board to go with Chicka- Chicka Boom Boom using an old pizza pan, can't wait to show that off!!!!!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Our Class room

I am almost embarrassed to share these photos with you but hey this is my life!!! We have not "officially" started school but are easing back into doing seat work. I don't have any thing up on the walls yet and projects from summer are still invading our school room. We like to enjoy the journey and not focus on the destination. So here are a couple of photos taken of our humble school room:

This is looking in from the living room and to the left-side of our school room. We have our hands on/ quiet time/ free time activities, library books, scanner/printer and the kids computer table. It doesn't get much use yet as we have not started Teaching Text books but its waiting and hoping we will cut it on soon!!! ( If you look real close you will see our almost completed summer project of modge podging some aluminum cans to hold all our school supplies, can't wait to show you the end results!!!!)

This is the right side of the room and entrance into the kitchen aka home sweet home! As you can tell we keep our books on this side of the room as well as school supplies by the door. Can't wait to finish up those cans!!! Can you see the blue book shelf? That has our Sonlight books divided by year. I also keep any teachers manuals with the year we will use them as well. The bookshelf behind the dry erase board we have not hung yet, I can't decide where I want it, has all our non fiction and fiction books on it. And then in the corner, with my laptop, is my desk. I've got several projects going on and being stored right now but this will be where I work my magic with lesson planning and organizing and meal planning.

But here is where all the lessons get done. The good old trusty kitchen table. It seems like most activities always come back to the kitchen, which is why we moved our school room from upstairs to downstairs.

And now I'm going to go drool over other school rooms at HOTM's Not Back to School Blog Hop: School Room Week. I hope you come back next week to see my star pupils as we share photos during Student Week at Heart of the Matter's Not Back To School Blog Hop!!!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Foreign Language

I have a confession to make: I spent 6 years in Okinawa, Japan and never really learned the lesson. I know right.  And I love the Japanese culture, the food, the clothing, their television shows even though I couldn't understand what they were saying they had alot of funny shows, the island, it all made a lasting impression on me. So when we got back to the States last year, I was determined not to lose what understanding I had and was going to teach the kids how to read the Japanese Language. Well the stress of coming back to the states, buying a new house, visiting family and friends we hadn't seen in over 6 years kinda took up alot of our time and was a bit overwhelming. So I put those lessons on the back burner, hey isn't that why we homeschool, to fit our needs and this stressed out mamma needed a break!!!!!!

Well I was talking to a friend who is stationed there AGAIN, without me, the nerve right!!!! And she was talking about how she was going to KUMON over there. I didn't even know adults could go, if only I had known!!! Anyway, she told me about how they were teaching her son, I would adopt him in a heart beat if she would let me!!!, and her how to read Hiragana and Katakana by associations each character with a picture and she said it really worked. I thought seriously could it be that simple?! I had tried so many programs aimed at teaching an English speaking person to learn Japanese and NONE of them focused on Hiragana or Katakana first. So of course I went to Barnes and Noble to check out their Foreign Language section and this is what I came up with: Japanese Hiragana and Katakana for Beginners. The method that's helped thousands in the U.S. and Japan learn Japanese successfully. The only reason I got this was because each character taught is assosicated with a picture. Here is an example

The second character on this Hiragana chart is "i" pronounced like the ea in easy. So in the picture it has two coconut trees behind the two strokes and in front of that is : Hawa( picture the strokes and the coconut trees making up the word Hawaii. Make sense, if not head to the book store! Now in my head I have connected with the "i" character, Hawaii so I know how to pronounce it and ever time I see that character I think of the ending of Hawaii. And it has really helped us. In just one week, we now have down the first two lines of characters in the chart above. (We did not use this chart, I'm just showing it as an example) Which is amazing!!!!!

Because I was around the language for 6 years I don't have any problems with pronouncing it. But if you have never been around the Japanese langauge some of the CDs by Judy Mahoney would be very helpful and for adults I found Japanese in 10 minutes a Day useful as well!!! You will also want to get your hands on some books that have Hiragana and Katakana in them. My two favorite are 1st 1000 Words in Japanese by Usborne and Japanese Picture Dictionary by Berlitz Kids.

One of the greatest things that handicapped me in learning to speak Japanese is because I depended on Romanjii. Romanjii is good to use in learning how to pronounce words in Japanese but don't cheat yourself and use it in place of Hiragana and Katakana!!! Also you would be amazed at what you will find if you google teach children Japanese. That is how I found alot of my links under Places I Go in my right side column!!! Feel free to ask away, I will be more than happy to share any of the resources I have found.

And I think that wraps up my curriculum review for this week. Whew!!!! If you missed anything so far this week you can check out what we use for History/Geography, Math, English and Bible Study. I am not including a review for Science because it is the first year we will be using it, so I'm not sure how we will like it just yet. And of course don't forget to check out everyone else who is linking up at the Heart of The Matter's Not Back to School Blog Hop Curriculum Week. Happy Homeschooling everyone and I'll see you next week for School Room Week, guess I've got a long to do list for the weekend!!!!

Not Back to School Blog Hop

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Bible Study

Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is older he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6
This has been our reason for homeschooling, to give our children a good foundation in the truths the Bible holds. That is just how we roll around here. And although Sonlight does provide a Bible Study I wanted something that all my children could study together, different level but same lesson and I found that in Bible Study Guide for All Ages!!!!

What I like about Bible Study Guide for All Ages is the fact that it is teaching straight from the bible.

For the Beginner Pages it seems that they have changed the format a little bit, so some of the sections I mention might not still be in the format, sorry!!They use to have Memory work( This is a review section as well as starting to memorize different parts and verses from the bible), My Bible section (helps get your little ones comfortable with their bible), Application (helps make personal the Bible lesson for the day and also has prayer prompts), and Discover the Bible section(the Bible lesson which your child colors in as they listen to what you read. But since what they have to color in is color coded, you know when they are not listening so its a fun way to engage them and help you make sure they are comprehending what they are hearing.)It seems like they still have most of this on the pages just have changed the names up a bit and fine tuned the format!!!

The Intermediate Pages takes up studying a notch. It includes a Remember It section (this reviews the lesson from the day before), Memory Workout (More than just remembering scripture but also specific details from what they have already learned), Guess What section (Quick facts from the Bible), Map section (helps them become familiar with the area that the bible lessons come from) Flashback (a quick review of the current bible lesson, Apply it(same concept as Beginner Pages but it now requires your child to finish the story and also asks questions to help them connect how to put into action the wisdom from the Bible as well as prayer prompts,and Discover the Bible section (this time the bible has to be read to get the answers to the questions which are still color coded but more detail is asked.)

I currently feel like the Intermediate is just fine for my 5th grader how ever they now have Advance Pages aimed at 4th-6th grade.

We only do two lessons each week as there is alot of material to cover. Another thing I really enjoy is the fact that I learn so much from their lessons as well!!! And if I was really motivated I could order the Adult Bible Study Guides and do those along with my children, but honestly the Intermediate ones are about as much as I can handle right now, lol.

I will be using Explorer's Bible Study And It Was Good! to start off our days. I like it because it has hymns to learn weekly, vocabulary that I use with the older kids and the Q & A section really makes CJ feel apart of the discussion as she can answer the questions along with her brothers.

And of course, the heart of our memorization is our AWANA verses!!! I have a last year Cubbie, last year Spark and 3rd year TNTer. If you are looking for a way to review verses with your children, check back in September as I will be sharing some tricks of the trade that I use with my children and our club!!!!!

What Bible Curriculum do you use and why? I haven't decided 100% on what I will do when we are finished with year 4 of BSGFAA, it would be really easy to start again with year one as the lessons are more in depth but I also though maybe I would take a break and try something new so suggestions are greatly appreciated.

So there you have it, my review for Bible Lessons. Tomorrow I will be sharing what I use for our Foreign Language: Japanese. And if you missed it here is what we are using for History/ Geography, Math, and English. Don't forget to head on over to the Not back to School Blog hosted by Heart of the Matter as we share what we use during Curriculum Week!!!

Not Back to School Blog Hop

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


This subject is one that I pull from alot of different resources. One of my greatest mistakes when approaching English,at the beginning,  was trying to teach reading before I taught phonics. And before you can teach phonics your child really needs to be able to recognize their letters, which is where I made my second mistake!! Please read carefully!!!!! You should teach your children lower case letters first!!!!! My logic behind this is that they will be able to recognize more letters in a book since most of the letters in a sentence are written in lower case !!!!!

So it would be safe to say that a prerequisite for English would be Phonics and Reading. And here is what I have used and will be using with CJ (4 yo) and/or JJ (7yo) this year:

The Letter Factory DVD
Bob Books (all my children have used these books to become confident at sounding out words)
Happy Phonics (A great program that uses phonic games to help build a solid phonics foundation)
KidsSoup ( You have to pay for a membership but it has alot of Letter specific activities to do with your child. What I like is you can save the worksheets to your computer so when your membership expires you still have access to them. I made CJ a booklet with 4 different worksheets for each letter.)
Reading Eggs (Another website you have to pay for but well worth every penny. It is what helped JJ realize he could read. It goes from pre reading to around a 2nd grade reading level. The also give you a 2 week free trial but beware, you children will beg to keep playing!!!)

Now once your child is reading you need to consider readers. Sonlight has readers as well as Learning Language Arts Through Literature Red Book. The easiest definition of a reader is any book your child can read independently, make more sense now?

Some book series we have used in the past are

Dinosaur Cove
Bob Books
Dick and Jane
39 Clues
The Magic Tree House
Dr. Seuss books

Then comes spelling and handwriting. Both of which LLATL covers but I chose to skip those parts of the lessons, again because of my teaching philosophy. I felt that if a child was exposed to the correct spelling of words through ALOT of reading and had a great phonics foundation that spelling lessons was just busy work. I decided to teach my children italic so I started off with these Italic books but once I ordered the StartWrite program, I used that program to make worksheets out of the Bible verses my children were learning weekly. Because LJ wanted to learn cursive this year, I was thankful that the LLATL Yellow Book introduced that in their lessons so I just used their weekly lessons and made italic worksheets off of what they did. (Does that make sense?)

So for the actually English lessons I will be using LLATL's  Red Book and Orange Book. I usually skip the Blue book because its alot of phonic and handwriting and I already have that covered. I did forget to mention that LLATL has dictation but I skipped that part because I just felt like LJ wasn't ready for it. If the orange book has it I will start him on that this year as well.

One more thing I will be ordering for LJ is Common Sense Press' WordSmith Apprentice. It looks like its going to be fun and will greatly engage LJ, I'll let you know next year!!!!

As you can tell I take what I like from a curriculum and leave the rest behind. But honestly I haven't done much research concerning Language Arts so I am looking forward to seeing what other homeschoolers are using this year over on Heart of the Matter's Not Back to School Blog Hop!!!
Not Back to School Blog Hop

So far I have reviewed our History/Geography, Math, and English, tomorrow I will be reviewing what we use for Bible Study. And as always, if you leave a comment I promise to come on over and say hello!!!

Monday, August 1, 2011

McRuffy Math

we love it!!!! So much so that earlier in the year I bought all the books and workbooks I would need to cover the rest of our lower math education. I did this because, if they haven't already, they were switching to a new color workbooks. The ones I have are just black and white and that works for us.

This year 4 yo will be doing the Kindergarten book, 7 yo is in the First Grade book but will end the year with the first 20 or so lessons of the Second Grade book, and our 9 yo will finish up the Third Grade book and move into Teaching Text books.

What I like about McRuffy is that the lessons, for the most part, are short and sweet. (More on that in a minute) The lessons seem perfect for my boys attention span and it does a great job of re-enforcement through different learning styles. Visually through the workbook, cognitive with the manipulatives and auditory with oral drills starting in the second grade workbooks. They have unit tests as well as timed tests, although we did not use them.

McRuffy has helped me go from doing my own math lessons to using a curriculum without feeling like they are losing the benefits of everyday math because the lessons can be completed in a short amount of time, leaving me with plenty of time to "play math" with my kids.

The only warning I will give is that second grade math will need more than a normal school 36 weeks to complete. The lessons are much more intense than the 1st grade level and alot mathematical concepts are introduced that if your child isn't ready for them it might be best to just relax and wait for their brains to develop instead of steam rolling through them like we did with lots of tears and resistance. (Hey you live you learn.)

As a parent, I felt confident in teaching after reading the lesson overview in the teachers manuals which can be done 5 minutes prior to sitting down with your kid to go over the lesson. A big plus in my book.

We also got the Tangram Adventure and Pentomino Puzzle Book and they have been such a great hit with ALL my kids!!!!!

McRuffy did a great job at keeping their lessons within the attention span of most children without sacrificing the quality of the lesson. I do recommend buying the manipulative set as it will help your child do their lessons long before they actually grasp the understanding of what they are doing, which actually helps them speed along as soon as the light bulb goes off!!!!!

When LJ was learning to carry, he used the cubes and rods to carry into the tens place. It took him awhile to transfer the understanding that carrying a number from the ones place to the tens place was then same as exchanging one tens rod for ten cubes. He is the type of learner that has to work it out himself and the rods and cubes allowed him to do that alone.So once he did connect it, he was whizzing through his worksheets without the manipulatives in great confidence!!!!!!

One thing I don't like about McRuffy, but knew going into homeschooling, is that I can only use it with lower elementary which has left me combing over math curriculum for the last year or so. I have decided with Teaching Textbooks but am O-P-E-N for suggestions!!!!!! Seriously let me hear what you have used for 5th grade and beyond and why, P-L-E-A-S-E!!!!!

Not Back to School Blog Hop

Tomorrow I will be reviewing our Language Arts and Phonics curriculum if you want to drop by again!!! And if you haven't read it already don't forget to read what I had to say about Sonlight Cores 1 & 2. And of course don't forget to leave a comment so I can go blog hopping!!!!