Big Blessings in "Small" Packages

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Our First Lapbook Adventure!

Whitley, Melody, and I attempted our first lapbook today. Topic: Fire Safety/Firefighting. I let the girls do all the cutting and pasting and they really enjoyed it. It's really good for fine motor skills for Melody especially. She did really well! There are a few interactive pieces to it, and I think Melody will enjoy getting it out and playing with it. It definitely could be better, but not too bad for our first try! Click on the pictures to make them larger.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Melody - my "Kindergarten Girl"

I'm so excited to teach Melody this year for Kindergarten and she's thrilled to be a "Kindergarten Girl". She's such an enthusiastic learner that I know she will be a joy to teach. I look forward to seeing her blossom even more this year! Now I want to share some of the curriculum we will be using.

First, my friend Suzanne shared a super idea with me and some other ladies yesterday. I've seen "lapbooks" before online, but never in "real life". We had a field trip yesterday and all got together to visit afterwards and she brought a bag full of them! So... we will be doing a few lapbooks this fall. It sounds and looks right up Melody's alley! I will post some pictures when we get started, but I believe our first lapbook will be on fire safety, based on yesterday's field trip to the fire station. Here is a cool website that Suzanne said she uses a lot for her lapbooks:

Here's an example of a lapbook centered around a human body theme. I got this picture off of lapbooksbylarisa's blog:

Phonics Pathways - Melody is itching to read and she's in the very beginning stages of it. PP is a simple, no-frills curriculum that still provides plenty of fun. For the most part, she knows all of her letter sounds and is beginning to blend. She can sound out some CVC (consonent-vowel-consonent) words but she's mostly working on two-letter blends:

Just for a fun supplement, we are using time4learning as well. It's great for phonics! Whitley used it for awhile a few years ago and loved it and Melody does too. We may move on to Headsprout later in the year.

Singapore and CLE Math - For K, Melody will be using Singapore Math. I'm just waiting for her to grow into CLE First Grade math. We have it just waiting on the shelf for her! But in the meantime, I think Singapore will be a good start.

For everything else, Melody will be sitting in on Whitley's school - Apologia, Mystery of History, Rosetta Stone, etc. Because Whitley and Noelle will both be in school on Wednesdays; Melody, John Isaac and I will be spending some special time together. I've labeled these days "Wacky Wednesdays" and Melody is very excited about it. ;) So far, she's only decided to go out to eat together. We'll also go to The WonderPlace, the zoo, ec. and of course it will be a good time to focus on her schoolwork without her big sister around.

Just for fun, I want to list some of my other favorite homeschooling resources/websites. These are listed in no particular order and are all fabulous! Some of them I'd even forgotten about until I revisited my "favorites" - so I'm glad I did. Are any of these new to you? List your favorites in reply!

Make your own crossword puzzle! We've used this with Latin and Greek root words before.

This is a great place to order blank books, blank board books, blank game boards - you name it! My mom got Whitley a bunch of stuff from this website a few years ago and she's had a lot of fun with it!

This is a cute way to help new readers distinguish between the lowercase letters "b" and "d" - Mr. Beady Eyes. 8-)

That's all I've got for now!

Friday, July 23, 2010


So most homeschooling mothers either love or hate to pick out curriculum. Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it... I love curriculum! For those of you that are curious (or bored), this is what we have on tap for this year for 4th Grade and Kindergarten.

Christian Light Education math - Whitley's weakest subject is math. She must have gotten that from me, not her CPA daddy, Papa, or late Granddad! However, we started CLE math this spring and it has been a lifesaver! It is incremental, spiral in approach (lots of review), and Whitley loves it! I never thought she would love a math curriculum. I want her to love to learn, so I have never told her I don't like math. But she developed a distaste of it on her own until we started CLE. One afternoon she asked me if her cousin Anna used CLE. When I told her no, she said, "She needs to try it - she'd LOVE it!". That's a pretty good endorsement, I'd say! It schedules flash cards and speed drills... I really like that feature. There is no CLE K program, so Melody will be using Singapore until 1st grade, when she will also start with CLE.

Apologia Science - We will be using the elementary Human Anatomy textbook this fall until Whitley starts SEEK. Science is one of Whitley's favorite subjects, and she's particularly interested in the human body. I love the way Jeanne Fulbright has written these texts in an engaging manner. It makes it interesting and fun to learn. Melody will be sitting in on it as well and participating on her own level. Whitley will be attending SEEK again this year as well. She has gone every year since First Grade and we love it. The students go one day a week, all day, and spend at least half the day outdoors - rain or shine. This *really* fits Whitley's learning style, as she learns much easier when she is moving! Melody also can't wait to attend SEEK but they start in First Grade, not Kindergarten so she has to wait another full year. Anyway, we will be doing Apologia for the first 14 weeks, SEEK lasts 12 weeks, then in the Spring we will do science experiments once a week. I have not decided on a book or curriculum for that yet. Here are the links to Apologia and SEEK.

Meaningful Composition - I am very excited about this curriculum! I attended private school growing up, and one of the strengths at my school was the language arts. I remember Abeka being advanced in LA compared to some of the other schools around. While I don't love Abeka, it is important to me that my kids learn how to write competently, but this can be hard to teach! I've looked around for another good program, and have been pleased with what I see so far with MC. It starts in 4th grade and looks very challenging. I'm looking forward to really challenging Whitley in this area. In addition, she will be attending another one-day-a-week program that focuses on geography/Bible/music appreciation/art appreciation. One of the things they do in that program is write a weekly report and present it to the class the next week - each and every week! So between the two programs, I think Whitley will make a lot of progress on writing in 4th grade. She's already a creative writer but needs a little fine-tuning on mechanics.

Rosetta Stone Spanish - This is a computer program that we already use and love. Rosetta Stone uses the immersion method of teaching. It is quite costly, in our opinion anyway, so it has taken me a few years to talk Jeff into buying it. But so far it's been worth it. Whitley will continue on with it, and Melody will start it. It is easy to implement!

English from the Roots Up - Greek and Latin... really? Really! There are several reasons to learn Greek and Latin, or at least root words, which is the approach I've taken. One of the most practical reasons is that it helps us figure out what unfamiliar words in the English language mean. If you know "metro" means "to measure", then it's easier to figure out that "thermometer" means "to measure temperature". "Photos" means "light" and "graph" means "picture" so "photograph" is a "picture made with light". I started this last year with Whitley and we didn't get all the way through the program so we are continuing on this year. I've found it so interesting to learn myself! We're taking the easy way out and just got the pre-printed flashcards and are learning a few each week. It has the root word on one side, colored in either red or green for Latin or Greek, and has a list of derivitives and their definitions on the back. It's a GREAT vocabulary builder for those standardized tests!

Mystery of History - I've already mentioned my love for MOH. It has some fun and simple projects and a list of books and videos that you can rent or borrow to go along with each week. I've gone through the list and made a list of Netflix movies for many of the weeks. I put a notecard with the name of the video in the file folder for the week before we need it, so that I can go ahead and get it ordered in time for the next week. (Does any of this make sense? I feel like it doesn't!) Anyway, check it out further:

Whitley is an excellent reader, so she does not *need* a reading program. But just to torture us both, I went ahead and ordered her one for this year. It is also by CLE, the same company her math is from. We'll see how it works out! Basically she reads a story out of her "reader" and then answers questions about it to see how well she's comprehending. She comprehends well, I know, just by the way she talks about the books she reads and the testing she has done - both standardized and otherwise. I felt like it couldn't hurt to add in a reading program, but if something has to "go" this year, formal reading will be "it"!

By now, it is late, and I'm tired and probably forgetting something. I will have to write up a post on Melody's curriculum tomorrow. It's much shorter. My main goal for Melody for Kindergarten is to learn to read (well) and to continue to love to learn. That is actually my goal for both of them each year. If you can read well and love to learn, I'm convinced you can learn anything else on your own... two great lifeskills to have. Goodnight!

Sumerians and Cuneiform

This year we are using Mystery of History volume I for our history. We love it! Check it out here:

Lesson 7 is "The Sumerians". We learned about cuneiform. To reinforce the concept, the author, Linda Hobar, has the kids making cunieform tablets out of clay! Simple and fun! Here are a few pictures from our morning:

Who We Are

We are gearing up for the new 2010/2011 school year. Because of my difficult pregnancy, we are doing some school this summer already, but our official first week of Fall '10 will be the first week of August.

Whitley is going into 4th grade. She just turned 9 in June. She loves swimming, drawing, playing outside, and reading. She has been taking a sewing and crocheting class this summer and has really enjoyed it! She's looking forward to taking ice skating in the fall. Whitley is an excellent big sister and loves to help with her baby brother.

Melody is 5.5 and is going into K. She is SO excited about being a "Kindergarten Girl". We've been working on letters this last year and I think she's pretty close to learning to read. She is very dramatic and loves to act and sing. I can't wait to get this girl into a drama class! She will be taking ice skating with Whitley.

Noelle is 4.5 and will be going to public school for PreK this year. She continues to have some delays and will receive cognitive and speech therapy through Tri-District. I'd love to homeschool her but she has the attention span of a gnat and thrives on a lot of structure. We like to keep our homeschool days a little flexible. She's very excited about school and I think she'll love it. Noelle is a charming, sweet, and loving little girl and has adapted well to being a big sister. God has blessed us with a unique opportunity and Noelle will be taking a dance class for children with special needs this fall. We're excited!

John Isaac is 4 months old and a delight to our whole family. We love to make him smile. He is an active baby and is just raring to go. We know that he'll be mobile before we know it. He is growing too fast. We thank God for our fourth blessing!

Jeff has been working at Windstream for 3 years. He enjoys the challenge and they keep him hopping! He does not have a lot of time for hobbies between work and family. I (obviously) continue to be a stay-at-home homeschooling mom and love it, most days. It is a lot of work to teach, parent, clean, run errands, day after day but the kids are growing so fast and I'm so blessed to be able to spend so much time with them!