Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Our Year At A Glance

I am so excited for our school year to start!  I just wanted to share what the boys will be learning about, a few of our curriculum choices, and some of our plans for the upcoming school year 2011-2012.

Both Isaac and Nate are doing nearly the same things.  As they are only 5 months apart in age, their "grades" have kind of merged, and their skill levels are very similar.  This makes it pretty easy and fun for me!  At the end of last school year, I sat down and asked both boys what they wanted to learn about.  Those ideas combined with grade level standards, and a few ideas of my own, and here is what I came up with...


Character Building - I worked really hard this summer putting together a 12 week Character Building Bible study.  It is mostly based off of the book,  A Child's Book of Character Building, but has other components as well, including more Bible stories, memory work, songs, crafts, movies, and other games and activities to enrich their experience.  It is a 4-day-a-week plan with an optional 5th day for review and crafts.  I found these cute Character Building Movies by Alpha Omega, and they compliment each week of study perfectly!

We will review the Nativity Story for the month of December, and start up the new year with a Bible Basics study.


Sequential Spelling - This is new for us this year.  It is basically teaching rhyming words and word families through a spelling test every day.
A Reason for Handwriting - Another new one.  The kids' copy work is based off scripture verses, which they practice first, and then are encouraged to re-write on special paper, and share it with someone else.  I loved this part of the approach...Sharing God's word with others!
BJU Reading 1 and 2 - Classic literature with lots of comprehension activities.  We are also starting book reports this year too, as they become more comfortable with their writing skills.
BJ Booklinks (we have 3 of these to do) - These will be a fun little break from "normal" school to do a more comprehensive,unit study type approach.  All components are included; literature, science, math, art, and history.


Horizons Math 2 - We are making the switch over from Saxon Math, which seemed way too repetitive and easy for Isaac last year.  I dont' want my kids to be bored during school, especially math, as I fear they will start to dislike it.
Money Unit - A compilation of activities and tools to practice money skills.  I made most of these last year, and they will still work for this year too.  Practice makes progress, right?
Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace Jr. - We wanted to instill a strong spiritual foundation for our kids' money management.  This kit should be a great start!
Time Unit - A compilation of activities and tools to practice time telling skills.  I made most of these last year, and they will still work for this year.


Rather than purchasing a science text this year, we are approaching this subject on a unit by unit basis.  These are all special requests by the boys (except for the manners one....that is necessary!), and I searched all summer for various materials for each unit.  They have also requested more experiments, which we will do several over the coarse of the year.

Human Body Unit
Health, Nutrition, Safety, and Manners Unit
Solar System Unit
Weather Unit


A Winter's Promise - This is a lovely curriculum that is literature based.    So much more interesting than a boring text book, the kids will learn history through a series of stories and a few projects to make history come to life. (Our set is an older one, and we will be selective about what we are using from it.)  We will make a timeline for the school wall with these wonderful Timeline Figures too.

ART - As usual, I've included art projects  about once per week.  Two of the older three love to paint, color, and sculpt, so art is really fun to do with them.


Both boys will start Piano Lessons with me next month.  They are really excited about this!  Our house is flooded with music all throughout the day, whether it is from my I-pod, or a certain princess who sings at the top of her lungs.


This is an area I hope to be able to improve upon from last year.  Our new house provides us with nice walking sidewalks, and a park very close by.  We will combine that with the wii, xbox k'nect, and lots of indoor games I found this summer.  I would love to sign all of the kids up for a gymnastic class/tumbling class if budget allows for it too.  I am not yet ready for competitive sports and the commitment they involve.


We will do these about 4 times this year, maybe more.  Here is what I have planned out....

Denver Museum of Nature and Science - We all love this museum.  So much to see!
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo - Can't wait to go see this zoo!
Focus on the Family Kids Korner - We've been once before, but since it's free - got to do it again!
Pioneer Museum - Saul and I went here the year before Isaac was born.  Since we are working through Early American History this year, this seems a good fit.


Since we are Homeschooling, not Car-schooling, we are home most of the time.  We do however participate in and host our own  Play Dates.  The kids are also in Sunday School/Children's Church every Sunday morning.  I assure you my kids are not socially awkward, or introverts.  In fact, quite the opposite is true around here.  They all make friends easily, and are able to manage not to be social misfits!

That pretty much sums up our plans for the year.  You'll have to check back often to see what we are up to next!


Tuesday, August 30, 2011


"There is only one happiness in life:
to love and be loved."
-George Sands

Beautiful flowers, a celebration dinner. 
Memories shared with our children of our special day.
A day spent remembering, honoring. Our anniversary.

Elaina asks, "Did he kiss you mom?  On the lips?"
And Isaac replies, "Doh!  That's what sweethearts do!"
"Ewe," captures what Nate is thinking, his expression says it all.

 Since Saul had to work, I awoke early to prepare a special breakfast:
Double Berry Parfaits
Secret Recipe Muffins
Sausage and Eggs
Mango and Orange Juice (his favorite)

All four kids had crammed into the kitchen to "help" make our anniversary breakfast.
"Why do you have a am be-bersary?' ponders E.
"Who cares.  At least we get cake!"  Isaac is sure that could be the only reason to celebrate.

Twelve years.  Gone like the blink of an eye.
I married my best friend, promised to love, to honor...
To esteem, to admire. Devote myself to him, and only him.
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking,
it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 

To have, to hold...
To start a new life, joined into a new family.
To leave.  To cleave.
"Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife,
and they shall become one flesh"
Genesis 2:24

In good times...
There have been lots of those. 
Times with good health, great connections. 
A strong sense of closeness.
Times where laughter, fun, and happiness abound.
Times with financial easiness, times of plenty.
Love and devotion seem effortless.
"The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
 3 he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
   for his name’s sake."
Psalm 23:1-3 

In bad times...
There have been those too. 
Times when everyday seems a struggle.
Where connecting and intimacy become suppressed,
whether by life or by circumstance.
Distance sneaks in.
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,
whenever you face trials of many kinds,
 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
4 Let perseverance finish its work
so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
James 1:2-4 

In sickness and in health...
Times when we need each other most,
but feel guilty about our dependence.
Times riddled with pain, suffering, depression.
It's easy to commit to a life that is full of health and ease.
Wealth and fellowship.
When we are not challenged by interfering schedules,
diminishing resources, loss of dreams.
"Carry each other’s burdens,
and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ."
Galatians 6:2

Until death parts us...
From that balmy summer day of our wedding, to my very last breath.
"Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
Mark 10:9

As a new bride, I really had no idea what marriage would look like.
I had a notion, a hope of what it would be.
Life hasn't been what I expected.  Or what I planned.
It has been better...

"No eye has seen, no ear has heard,
and no mind has imagined
what God has prepared for those who love Him"
1 Corinthians 2:9

Thank you Saul for 12 wonderful years!
For being my best friend, my love.
For listening, encouraging.
For nurturing and providing.
For laughing and smiling.
For memories to pass on to our children.
For walking alongside me in good times, loving me through bad ones.
For dreaming with me. 
For keeping your hope in the Lord.
You are loved beyond measure!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Heart and Star Crayons

I've been wanting to make these up-cycled crayons for a while now.
The kids were requesting a craft this morning, so we set to working on them.

First, we picked out all of the broken crayons in our crayon bin.
Then we removed all of the wrappers.

They had to be broken into small pieces, around a half inch long.
We arranged them into these cute silicone molds that I found at a thrift store for $0.50 each.

Then we melted them in a 200 degree oven for
about 15-20 minutes.
Once they cooled, I carefully popped them out of the molds,
and Viola
New crayons! 

We made one multi-colored heart.
(It kinda looks like a face...)

These were perfect for the Baby's chubby little fingers. 
The other kids had fun drawing with them too!

School Begins

" Life isn't a matter of milestones,
but of moments."
-Rose Kennedy

As we are gearing up for school to start,
I thought I would start back to routine with my youngest.
The Diva was eager to "help" and the two of them had a blast this week!
(The boys are busy making the most of what is left of summer.)

I set out a lacing/bead game similar to these to work on fine motor skills for the Baby.
This is a great game with wooden pieces and a thick sturdy lacing string.
All of the beads are different colors and shapes,
which allow me to introduce and re-enforce those words with O.
We did this several times this week,
as she requested it every time we were in the school room!

We played a game with these Baby Einstein First Words Discovery Cards.
(Couldn't find a link...sorry!)
After choosing a few to work with,
I collected similar items that were on the cards into a basket.

Then we set the cards out in a circle pattern on the floor.
The girls ran around the circle, as I sang a song.
When the song stopped, they had to place an object on the matching floor card.
We could practice saying the object for O,
and spelling the object for E.
E also practiced her beginning sounds.


Here are a few examples of what we used:
Dog, Ball, Cat, Block, Tree, Phone, Cup, Bowl, Teddy Bear, Blanket.

Later on in the week, we took turns "hiding" the objects around the school room.  It was a race to see who could find the most objects!
E really liked this game.


The girls played with our Melissa and Doug Animal Nesting Blocks.
We talked about the groups of animals: Ocean, Farm, Woodland, African.
The Baby practiced making animal sounds.

The baby also practiced a very important life skill:
putting on and wearing heels!  Lol!

We just need to work on matching them!

We did lots of other fun things, these were just the few that I got on camera.
Next week, when school has officially started, the Baby will
go along with The Diva's Letter-of-the-Week curriculum and
other various themes that I have planned for her. 
My goal for the Baby is simple: 
learning through play! 

"What we play is life."
-Louis Armstrong

Thursday, August 11, 2011

School Room

                 "Moments spent listening, talking, playing, and sharing together may be the
most important times of all."
-Gloria Gaither

I wanted to post about how our school room looked at the start of this year.  Mostly because I know from experience things will look very different at the end of the school year.  It's so nice to start with a clean slate.  Things are organized, categorized, and over all, very tidy.

We spend so much of our time in our school room.  It's where nearly all of the toys are kept.  It's where we read, learn, play.  Putting the school room together was the best part about unpacking after our move.  Before this, our school room was our dinning room and living room, with school supplies stored in nearly every other room of the house, wherever I could squeeze things in.  It worked.  For awhile.

Now we are blessed with a special place for our school.  One central location to keep everything organized.  One room, with a specific purpose.  One room with a door that can close off the mess or distractions that pull at me every night - just one more project.  Just one more craft.  Just one more sweep to clean up.

The kids love their school room.  But I think I love it more!

Everything is ready.  Except I need to buy a table and chairs.
It's on my to-do-list. A.S.A.P

Most of our curriculum is stored here, in the two white pantry's.  Wooden and magnetic puzzles in the two cabinets on the left, file folder games, tot/preschool packs to the far right. 
The middle is storage for some toys, floor puzzles, and our "Circle Time" board. 
The basket on top holds our puppets.

A glimpse inside.  The left pantry holds our Bible resources and various media.  The right has a shelf for each child's curriculum, with art supplies and Spanish tools on the bottom.

Here is our "Circle Time" board up close. 
Included are the songs we sing about the days and months, color of the day,
the date, 100 days of school count-down, and the names of our family members.
The three white notebooks on the left are our calender/weather  journals.

I recently moved most of our books into a storage
bin in the main closet.  They are organized
by theme and topic.  I am hoping this will make it easier for me
to find books, and will also allow a better rotation of the
material that we have.

All four bins, filled to the brim with books!
The small blue unit on the left holds our electronic learning tools, mostly Leap Frog stuff.
The TAG, Little Leap Pad, Leapsters, and various other musical/educational toys.
We also have a bins full of readers, wooden train blocks, and a few other toddler friendly games.
Next to that is our pocket chart, bookshelf, and easel.

Here is the back wall of the room.  The built-ins are full of craft and teacher supplies. 
More toys and books on the shelves to the sides. 
I plan to switch out the books and toys on the counter to coordinate with our preschool/tot themes. 
The kids' artwork is displayed above.

The rest of our stuff is kept in the closet.  It spans nearly the entire width of the room.  We were pleasantly surprised to discover built-ins, as it meant we didn't have to purchase storage shelves.

A few of our Language Arts tools/toys.

All kinds of lacing...

Costumes and Dress-up
separated into categories:
Super Hero and Princess

Magnetic manipulative's

More Language Arts.

Math manipulative's and games.

As with each previous year, this school year brings excitement, anticipation,
a renewed sense of purpose, and lots of fun!
Though the academic basics are very important, it is the time we spend
listening, talking, playing, and sharing
that enrich our homeschooling experience.
Those times are our
Adventures in Homeschooling.