Learning to Read: Rhyme, Memorization, & Phonics {and a llama llama review}

You probably know by now, our family loves to read! My youngest children begin their love of learning with poems and rhyming books from some of the greatest authors of children’s literature. I have videos of my oldest at 18 months old reading a Llama Llama book from memory; that book, as well as many other Llama Llama books have become favorites in our home. But my favorite part of this character series is the rhyming!
The latest book from Anna Dewdey, a teacher, mother, and enthusiastic proponent of reading aloud to children, is Llama Llama Loves to Read. Anna’s passion for children and building their love for reading is evident in all her books. This time our children shared Llama Llama’s love for learning to read in this beautifully illustrated (as always) 40 page picture book.
llama llama loves to read
Llama Llama learns at school.
Counting, writing, reading, rules.
Friends and school — there’s nothing better.
Llama learning all the letters!
All of my children have learned to read organically; simply by listening to others read to them. We know research tells us reading aloud to children increases their own love for learning, as well as relationships, and test scores (yes, especially test scores!). What many may not know, is that reading rhyming books, poems, and nursery rhymes to children increases their overall literacy!
Rhythm and rhyming increase listening and speaking skills, which are the very foundation of learning to read and write. A child will not learn to read as easily if they lack the skill of hearing rhyming patterns and sounds-which is done by being read to early in life. (This is also why educators take courses in all areas of development, including physical education, where we learn to combine rhythm, motion, and rhymes! Think of the hand clapping games from your childhood-they were important, whether you knew it or not!)
Rhyming books like Llama Llama Loves to Read not only help build a child’s confidence as they learn the rhyming words on the pages, these books increase their fluency and set the stage for future independent reading.

Learning to Read With Rhyme and Memory Work

As I type this, I am thinking of my 3.5 year old daughter (3rd born) that read cvc words to me last week. On her own. Without an ounce of formal instruction or prompting from me. I don’t say this to brag, or inflate my mom ego, I say this to you because it truly has to do with our family culture and environment combined with her eagerness to learn to read. She has told me for months she was going to read soon “like Mister!” (her older brother).  I told her she could learn as soon as she wanted and it wouldn’t be long; she’s been asking all of us to help her write her letters so she could tell us the sounds, and eagerly listens to any book we will read to her. One day last week she brought her little journal to me at the homeschool table and asked that I write words for her … I randomly wrote cat, asked her each letter sound and then she read the whole word. Just blended it. Boom! She continued on to do several more and I was able to record her on video.
So how do I use rhyming to encourage literacy? Simply, we read a book, and the next time (after all, there is always a next time!) I leave out one word of each line or page. For instance, I would read: Llama Llama learns at school. Counting, writing, reading, rules the first time.
But the next time we read it, I would leave out the word school, and maybe even rules, allowing my kids to fill it in for me as I read. This pulls them even more into the story and encourages not only their comprehension but also application of vocabulary, as well as “reading” along with me. So far of my 4 children, none of them have ever been disappointed with their chance to say the next word. Even my youngest, only a toddler, can fill in the simplest words in rhyming books (Llama Llama Time for Bed being one of them).
We also start learning poetry very young, simply because it is SO fun! My oldest memorized a few poems during each season starting at age 3. I am not sure how many poems my oldest three kids know now, but it is probably more than me (I can’t remember them all like they can without some prompting). That same 3 year old that is reading CVC words has spent this year memorizing more poetry than her 2 older siblings combined! Her absolute favorite is The Fairies by William Allingham, along with several others from A Child’s Book of Poems.

Learning Letter Sounds

Before I began reading lessons with any of my children, we sing a phonics song throughout our days. From the time they are about 18 months old (?) until … well, my oldest is 7.5 and we still sing it haha, we don’t say our ABCS.
We sing them along with their correlating sound; during our morning time we do the song with a little letter chart like this one: 
The song goes something like this:
A, /a/, apple
B, /buh/ball
C, /ck/, cat
D, /duh/ dog
… you get the picture. When we sing it while swinging on the swing, playing in the floor, or walking down the driveway, we learn to use other words that make those sounds; instead of E, eh, elephant I may say egg or elbow. It is always fun to hear what other words they can come up with (you will be surprised); sometimes we extend that and just start naming words that rhyme with a word, who knows where we may bunny trail to! But it is a fun and easy, loving, and memorable way to connect with and teach my children naturally, without any formal lessons.
This simple song, along with reading aloud to them, truly lays the foundation for learning to read later. Sometimes when I talk I will just say “t, /t/ train!” when we see a train. Obviously my 7 year old gets less out of this than my 3yo and toddler do, but so often we can forget those little ones are still soaking up everything around them, as Little Miss showed me just last week. Having a literature rich family culture helps support children in their love of learning which, when they are ready, will help them learn to read.

If you want to submerge your children in a literature rich environment, reading rhyming books, poetry, and teaching letter sounds through play are the best places to start!

Disclaimer: Some links on this blog are affiliate links; when you use those links you help support my family, at no additional cost to you.  Thank you!

18-20 Month Baby Schedule & Summary {baby #4}

{yes, I am 4 months late on the 18month baby summary … I’m just now realizing it is the year 2018, and spring is here}

Wow. just wow!
My how 18 months has flown! I can’t even keep up with her baby summary posts. My how we love our sweet little baby #4.

Development 18 months vs 20 Months

It has taken her longer than the first 3 children, but Squish has started walking and talking non stop (18 months). She is just totting around everywhere; her vocabulary has grown by leaps and bounds in the last few months. She is saying everything from her siblings names, to pointing and naming objects she wants/needs.

She tends to drag her right foot, which is worrisome, but hopefully that will resolve itself. If it doesn’t we will talk to our doc in July. Her disposition is still pretty tough most days (18 months), she goes through phases where she is extremely happy for a week or 2, and then is incredibly difficult for a few weeks. I’m guessing it is wonder weeks and development related? I haven’t been tracking WW much anymore, but I probably should!

At 20 months, she is now talking EVEN more, is almost always happy, and has really come into her own. She really, really enjoys playing independently, she is a very smart girl, love counting and talking about everything. I often sneak into her room during independent play, before I get her out, and watch as she reads books, dances, and does finger plays to the songs on Pandora (like itsy bitsy spider). She is so full of herself when alone!

Her favorite words are: Lexie, Maxie, Ila, baby, Huck, and every animal sound she can make. We brought Yona (our Anatolian Shepherd) inside for a week or so while she was getting over some tummy troubles (due to her puppy food!) and Coralie REALLY found an outlet for bossing others. haha I think being the 4th, with her 3 older siblings always talking, bossing, and being active around her, she rarely had a chance to be heard. But when Yona came inside, she had someone that had to listen to HER (our dogs are raised to submit to all family members, be calm and quiet around their animal charges and people), so I guess the cure to some of her frustrations was power… that’s a scary thought!

She still signs for some things, especially if we remind her to do so, but she will also attempt to say the words for most everything around her-cups, water, eat, more, two (which means more …), up, down, snuggles, night night, baby, please, thank you, stinky, poopy, t.t., potty, nasty, num num, blanket, outside, downstairs, seat (which means put me there or she is demanding someone else sit there). So, lots of vocabulary.

She definitely loves animals, talking, dancing, counting, and toting around her baby dolls. We put a newborn diaper on one of her dolls, and it was game. on. She is now mama to her babies, gives them bottles, swaddles them, puts them to bed. She recently took to a baby blanket that was Lexie’s and requests it all day long, taking it with her wherever she goes; Squish will tot to her crib and pull the blanket from between the rails and just looove on it. She is counting like crazy, knows all her body parts, sings songs with us, and loves organizing toys “just so.” This video was taken just last week, and is a perfect example of her personality!

SNUGLLES! Yall, oh my gosh, the snuggles. This girl has never been much of a snuggler, but more of a “give me want when I want it or I dont want it at all” kinda girl. It has honestly been hard to “love” on her, simply because she so often didn’t want that connection. But now?!  Oooh, now she is a lovey girl, wanting squeeze hugs, wrapping her arms around our necks, and saying “Nuggle! Nuggle!” It is so fun!

I really can’t say how thankful I am that her personality has blossomed so much; it has been hard for all of us to enjoy her… Not because she didn’t meet our expectations, or our views of having a baby, but because we didn’t know HOW to love her- she didn’t accept the ways we showed her love, if that makes sense? We tried everything, she liked food-check, she liked attention 1:1 with me in the mornings- check, She liked telling everyone else no-check … but nothing really screamed “connection” with her. Oooh how I am thankful for grace and what now feels like peace.

We’ve decided she is exactly like her oldest sibling; if Lady had been the 4th in the family, I suspect her very Type A, independent, determined, sweet self would have been exactly like Squish. They also look pretty identical, and really just have the same personality traits. I predict Coralie will be an early reader, a fast learner, and a determined girl like Lady, but we shall see!

18 months to 21 months has been night and day for her; all of our relationships have flourished with her, even the kids. Her ability to talk more, and finding interest in specific things has truly helped her disposition. I feel like even though we have always known her, we are finally getting a peak at what’s been inside those beautiful blue eyes for the last 20 months, or maybe we are just starting to listen? Either way, it is a blessing!

It is funny to watch how she interacts with each of her siblings: Lady she considers her care taker. She helps with Squish’s bath, getting her dressed, taking her downstairs to play, totting outside, sliding, and reaching things. Mister she sees as her playmate; they are silly together, romp, play silly games, get LOUD, shoot guns, and snuggle. The Miss … well, we are working on that dynamic, because the last several months have been all competition! Miss is learning to help care for Squish, and take some responsibility like the older 2, which I think is helping with how she sees Coralie. They both consider themselves the baby, and it is hard on them to share space, attention, and favorite items, but I feel like things are getting easier.

Overall, I am excited for this new phase with Squish!

just one of the gang, watching duckling splish splash

Schedule

So far Baby #4 is still on a one nap schedule- usually she goes down for nap abut 12-12:15, and gets up at 3:00.

So her days look like this:

  • 7am wake, snuggles, breakfast
  • playtime/workout with mama time
  • read school books with us in mama’s room
  • independent play while we do table work, sometimes a snack first
  • 11:15/11:30 lunch
  • 12:00/12:15 nap
  • 3:00 up from nap, snack
  • 5:30/6pm dinner
  • 6:40 bedtime

She is drinking out of a straw sippy, and Thermos brand sippy cups. She enjoys eating some things with a spoon, and I often let her do the last bite of messier foods with a spoon, everything else she eats with her fingers. Her favorite foods are … pretty much everything! We discovered this winter that she has a cashew allergy, and thus probably has a pistachio allergy. She reacts to the oils and the actual cashew nut; it also appears when she has too much peanut butter she reacts? So we are playing that one safe and avoid peanut butter for her most of the time.

She has recently graduated from her Zipadee Zip to a regular sleep sack. I thought this might lead to thumb sucking, since she sucked on the sleeve of all her zipadees and swaddles, but so far I think we are thumb-sucking free!

 

 

 

Disclaimer: Some links on this blog are affiliate links; when you use those links you help support my family, at no additional cost to you.  Thank you!

Baby #3 Summary: 18 month Update and Routine

Well … Talk about dropping the ball  =/  Poor Ila hasn’t had very many baby updates.

But, here I am with her 18 month baby summary!

Personality and Development

Ila walks to the beat of her own drum, for sure.  While Mister and Lexie are out running around on their many adventures, Ila is usually either off in her own world (playing with trucks, or sitting in a hole in the yard playing with dirt), or totting right behind them.  She is still obsessed with animals and tends to talk back to them in their language, more than she speaks to us in ours.  She moos at cows, tweets and whistles at birds, growls at the dogs, and SCREAMS some wild meows at the cats; she can call, “here chick, chick, chick” just as well as I can, doesn’t have a single fear of those calves in the barn.  As far as she is concerned, Thora and Charlie belong to her and she is one of them.  (she doesn’t discriminate!)

Speaking of walking … Ila started walking full time somewhere around November (14 months) which is the absolute latest of all my babies.  The first two were walking by 9-10 months.  Ila just wanted to take her time.

Speaking of speaking … Ila has words, she just chooses not to use them most of the time. Ha!  Her vocabulary consists mostly of: Tho-ra, charlie (which comes out something like chagie), dog dog, meow, cat, air (airplane), mama (for mama, more, please, I’m waiting! and NOW!!), dada, dada home (cause that’s the biggest deal of the day besides meals), and my absolute favorite which comes out plain as day Yes Ma’am! haha  Why of all the words we have taught her did that phrase stick, we will never know…  There are a few more I am forgetting I’m sure, but these are the most widely used.  She won’t say Lexie or Max yet.

She does sign for her drink and please … but that’s about it.  She CAN doe “more-more” but chooses not to most of the time unless I really make her. 😉

I can say this about her- she is smart and hilarious!  She picks up on things so fast, without us even really realizing it, which I am sure is because she is submerged in a literature and language rich environment AKA living with her siblings.  They talk to her, sing to her, read to her, pretend with her, and if I’d let them they would feed her (that may or may not happen on occasion).  One day after dumping the ABC beanbags into the laundry basket, I found her sorting out the bean bags and laundry, putting each item where it belongs.
She is so funny, and will do just about anything to put a smile on your face.  She also finds herself quite humorous … I think she takes after her daddy!

18 Mo Baby Summary and Schedule

My silly, sweet, snuggly little rag-napper.  She enjoys stealing my rag off the kitchen sink

She is the snuggliest of all my babies.  Max was a snuggler, but mostly because he was refluxy and cranky and needed lots of reassurance; that snuggly behavior stuck through his personality to today.  Lexie liked snuggling as a baby (and really craves it now at 5.5) but then she wanted to go do her thing and come back again later.  Ila will just snuggle all day if you let her; she walks up to J.Tom and me and gives the BIGGEST squeeze hugs around our legs.  She often just wants to be held and lay her head on my shoulder.  She gives great big, squeaky kisses that put the slobberi-est of dogs to shame!

Eating and Favorite Things

At meals, she likes to be the first to fold her hands for the blessing so she can start eating.  She has started pointing to things and counting (like she sees Mister do), and she likes to bring me letters and say Mmmmm.  Apparently all letters are M (probably because Max says M-A-X Max! all day long).  She has discovered her spit (ew) and blows spit bubbles to get attention.  Her favorite foods are probably whole pears, which she has been eating since she was about 8 months old, and anything I cook that is warm.  She will devour anything, but like beans and ham, spaghetti, turkey sandwiches with spinach, and loooove green beans.  She really likes the tomatoes out of my vinegar salad and roasted broccoli.

She has finally started enjoying listening to me read to her; up to this point she just wanted to sit in my lap while she held the book and thumbed the pages.  Somehow it just soothed her, the feeling of the pages flipping.  And she still enjoys that, but we have started reading her Bible and she is actually listening and points to the pictures, etc.  So that’s nice.  While Mister and Lexie are doing school, she likes to ask for crayons and paper … but she just eats the crayons.

Her favorite things are our animals, anyone’s shoes, flipping through books, eating, and dancing.  She will play with Mister’s toy trucks for what seems like hours and rolls them all over the house.

Her eating schedule looks just like ours now.  Here is her daily routine:

  • 7am wake/snuggles
  • 7:30 breakfast- fried eggs, homemade oatmeal, and fruit with water
    • play while we finish morning school basket/do morning chores, begin school
  • 9:00/9:30-10:30 she goes to independent play in her crib while we do parts of school that require a little more quiet (Lexie reading aloud, math, me reading aloud if she is being particularly loud!)
  • 11:15 lunch
  • 12:00 nap   She usually sleeps until 2 or 2:30
  • 3:00 everyone up from naps
  • outside play/play downstairs if weather is nasty
  • 5:30ish dinner
  • 6:15ish bath
  • 6:30/6:45/7pm bed, depending on what time she woke up from nap.  If she slept until 2 or later bed is 6:45 or 7pm
  • All kids are in bed by 7, earlier if Max didn’t nap good

Everything is flexible by a few minutes other than sleep times.

This month marks the firs that we have truly been Wonder Week free!  Whew- let me tell you, since about Christmas, we have had one WW after another.  Some of those wouldn’t have been that noticeable, except that hers manifest themselves in waking at night- not just waking, but screaming all night unless being held.  A few times I tried to hold her, but she wouldn’t go to sleep, only stop crying.  So we had many wakeful, exhausting nights.  And once she came out of the WWs (I think they were the last 2 until she turns 2?) everything went back to normal.  Thankfully!

I think that is about it on her baby summary.  My next will probably be when she is about 2.  Of course we should have a newborn by then, so the summary may be a little late  😉

 

 

 

Baby and Preschooler Summaries: 18 months and 3.5yrs

{I began this post in march, but just now finished proof reading and editing errors. So, It is a month late! =) }

On March 2, Mister will be 18 months- we FINALLY have molars! He has cut the top right, and just finished the bottom right. He is now getting the right eye tooth, and has started cutting the left molars. I have to be honest- I was starting to wonder if we should see a dentist such as Dentist Framingham to see what was going on. The boy hasn’t had a tooth in months! By 18 months, Lexie had ALL but her two year molars. She had a mouth FULL of teeth, poor Max doesn’t. Hopefully by summer he will be about done (of course then it will be time for his two year molars …).

His sleep is mostly good. He takes one nap; I put him down at 12:00 on the dot, and he stays in bed until 2:30-3:00 depending on how long he sleeps. During all the teething his naps have been hit or miss- some days they are only an 1.5 hours, other days they are over 2. I have been rubbing diluted thieves oil on his gums before naps and bed time, and he loves it. The thieves helps numbs his gums.

building a city with unit bocks

building a city with unit bocks

Language

I have looked back at Lexie’s 17-18 month summaries, and wow! That girl was talking like crazy (and has never slowed down …). Mister had lots of words, but isn’t using complete sentences. The most he says in the way of sentences at this point is “bye bye, dada!” Everything else consist of one or two words for things he wants.

He signs more and please, and uses words for most everything else. He is bad about wanting to grunt for things- but I really try to make him use his words instead of responding to his grunts.

Physical Development

His physical development is crazy good- especially his fine motor skills. For a boy, he has always had advanced fine motor skills. His gross motor skills are good too-climbing stairs, moving stools, climbing on furniture, kicking a ball. He and Lexie love to “play soccer” in the back yard or in the house. He recently learned to climb the ladder on the playground out back, and is very proud of himself. Lexie is in gymnastics, so naturally she is all the time doing rolls and cartwheels around the house. Mister tries SO hard to do forward rolls like big sister. It is pretty cute.

shape sorter during morning

shape sorter during morning “learning time”

He especially loves to tinker with things; you will often find him putting small toys inside cups, pretending to eat with a spoon, or stashing odd and ends inside a jar. Water is still his favorite activity, and calms him instantly. He will just let the water run through his fingers and is instantly soothed.

Personality

Personality wise- Max Payne is all boy. he never stops. Ever.

He is determined, and gets frustrated very easily. He is very vocal about what he does and does not like, over all is very sensitive, and snuggly. The only time he stops to relax is if he is getting tired. He loves to read books, but a few pages in has to get up and do something, then come back to finish. During playdates he does great- he snuggles me at first, and then is off to play and explore, even in new settings.

mommy and max time

mommy and max time

Lexie is most definitely his favorite person; he follows her around and does what she tells him to … most of the time. He is her little minion- she asks him to pick up her toys or hand her something and he just doesn’t so happily. Haha, that probably won’t last much longer.

Overall Max is a joy and my biggest challenge (other than losing the weight I put on while pregnant with him). He gets bored easily and wants to do everything big sister does, even when he isn’t quite capable. That frustrates him. But it won’t be long and he will be doing everything she does and more!

When we decided to get Lexie a violin for her third birthday, and start her in lessons there were some people that told us “good luck with that; a 3 year old in violin. ha.” I am proud my girl has proven them wrong! =) She graduated from her practice violin (which helps young children get used to handling the violin, the weight of it on their shoulder, etc) her teacher made to her real violin. She is learning to play little rhymes on each string/note and where to put her fingers. She knows all her positions and how to hold her violin properly, though she is getting used to the new shoulder rest.

Overall, Lexie is a snuggly, sweet, happy, girl who is very eager to learn. The more she can take in the better- there is no such thing as too much information or reading at this point. I struggle to keep up with her thirst for knowledge and that is where she challenges me- I am always on my toes trying to fill her need and love of learning. I can’t believe she will be 4 this year. Where has the time gone?

Graduating from practice violin to real violin

Graduating from practice violin to real violin

Sonlight P4/5: What I think so far

After I wrote this post , I did a lot of praying, thinking, re-googling and reading, and a lot more praying.

The next morning I woke up, and began purchasing what we need for Sonlight P4/5 for next year.  Between Sonlight, Amazon, and eBay I got everything we need, plus supplemental materials, for less than the package from SL.  This is important to our family; we try to live on a budget and I needed homeschool for this year to fit into that budget.

Sonlight P 4/5 review Part 1

I don’t know if we will go with SL in the future?  I don’t know if it will (mostly) fit what I want for my kids as they get older, but I do know after looking in the instructor’s guide for P4/5, it will fit us perfectly this year!

In the Instructor’s Guide, I am excited to see (and wasn’t expecting):

  • extra activities, cognitive and hands on, that we can add into our lessons and Max can be included
  • room to write in other activities- like our extra memory work, math lessons, etc
  • character traits to focus on that go with the week’s memory verse (LOVE character lessons in this house)

I went back and ordered the binder and tabs.  The tabs (which are weekly) can’t be found elsewhere up to week 36, and the binders have their own reputation for holding up well.  I also bought extra color-coding stickers for our book spines, because I plan to add more books into our reading.  (I may get their P3/4 sticker labels for our BFIAR books, so I can organize them as well for Max later.)  We read a lot.  But what I like about adding in our own selections is that we can read them as quickly or as slowly as we want, and it just adds more great literature.

There are a few titles that I am super excited about; the The Berenstain Bears’ Big Book of Science and Nature is one of them!  I think that will fit nicely with our Big Book of Play and Find Out Science Projects we will add in on our own, and nature studies.

Another title I think will be fun is the audio CD of American Tall Tales.  We love books on CD, and this looks like a great one.  We have the stories that go along with these in our book of Children’s fairytales and fables, A Treasury of Children’s Literature, though Sonlight doesn’t actually call for the physical books for them.

Now, I just have to structure out our extra memory work (poems), All About Reading, and Saxon math lessons into our schedule, and we will be ready to go!  Well, I also have to decide when we will begin, because with baby #3 coming in September, we will need to start early (probably August); but I also like the idea of just taking the month before baby to do nothing but spend time with the kids outside and hold the structure off until after baby comes.  Who know what we will do!  =)

Have you used Sonlight P4/5 in your homeschool?  Are you using something else?  Please share in the comments!

 

Spring is here! {2014}

{pictures March 28, 2014, on an oddly wind-free morning!}

This winter, Lexie learned to swing all by herself!  And, she can actually go pretty high…  Then I convinced her (why, oh why?!) to jump out!  She is very proud of herself.

Spring day play

 

Max learned to climb to the top of the swing set by himself this winter.  We will spend the spring learning how to climb down ….  haha

 

 

Max enjoying the warm morning

Look!  Green grass!  (and a sweet, worn out dog.)

 

 

 

Charlie enjoying the spring day

Are you spending time outside this spring?

Preparing for Next Year’s Homeschool: PreK 4/5 Curriculum Choices {2014/2015}

curriculum choice 2014/2015 Sonlight

Well, for years months and months I have gone back and forth over what we will use for our curriculum next fall.  What curriculum, what style suites us best, what will keep Lexie’s fire going, her passion for learning; what will also work for Max so we can reuse some materials, etc.

I have also had to consider what will be easiest to fit into our life, with baby #3 due in September of this year.  =)

As you know I have mostly decided on a classical/Charlotte Mason education style for our family because it just fits us (and our love of the outdoors, learning, and books); but I have also been contemplating joining Classical Conversations.  There is a community not too far from us that a dear friend is also a part of.  I really enjoyed the open house I attended and Lexie did AMAZING sitting in the room with me for the 2 hours we were there.  However, I just don’t know if we are ready for it yet.

love the Charlotte Mason approach to learning.  It encompasses everything I believe about education and family uniting.  It is Biblically based, and literature rich (so is classical education).  It is truly where my passion for learning and educating my children comes full circle.

Charlotte Mason is also what I see in my children.  I see Lexie loving books- asking questions about everything we read; wanting to know more and making connections from her books to her world.  Max is beginning the same process- he didn’t love reading books at first, but at about 13 months old, he became obsessed with them, just like big sister.  When I sit on the floor, he will bring me a book and say, “boo-k,” turn around and plop into my lap.  He then proceeds to open the book and I will read.  He really likes for me to take his finger and point to everything in the picture and say its name.  He loves reading.  And that tells me he will also love learning.

I want to keep their fires burning, but I need to do that in a way that will fit our young family’s lifestyle.  As a busy mom of soon-to-be 3, there won’t be much time for the intense planning that a combined classical/Charlotte Mason style education can require.  So in the fall, (well, really in January probably) I think we will begin with Sonlight’s P4/5 curriculum.

Sonlight P 4/5 includes: read alouds and language arts, science, Bible, rediness skills, beautiful art books and studies, and introduces world cultures.  One thing I love about classical education is it begins history at the beginning.  So children not only learn there is much, much more to their world than just their immediate surroundings, but they also learn where it all began.  Sonlight does an amazing job of choosing wonderful children’s literature and living books to teach every subject, which is where the Charlotte Mason style comes in.  Another point I love is that Sonlight is fairly adaptable.  You can supplement with as many books as you’d like, whatever math you prefer (although they sell a few great curricula), and you can make it work with just about any style of education, if you really want to.  Their book list is what has driven their popularity for years, but as more and more families have used it, the more it has become known for being a wonderful core curriculum.  (no, this is not a review and I am not being paid to say any of this!).

We already have a phonics/reading program we will use, which we haven’t started yet.  I chose All About Reading because it is so child friendly and hands on, which I think will be fine for Lexie (as I am mostly sure she has a photographic memory) but I know will be great for Mister, because he is my 100% tactile learner.  We will use this with our Sonlight, along with Saxon or Horizon’s math, and a few supplemental activities in science.

I have many friends ask me about two things :1) homeschool curricula and options and 2) converting to a healthier, real food lifestyle.  #1 is mostly why I am writing this post.

I tell you, I cannot wait to get started next year.  We might begin in August, to get a head start, then take off in September-Christmas with the baby coming, holidays, etc., then start back in January.  Or we may just begin in january and go through part of the summer…  I know me, and I know Lexie, and chances are we will not want to take that much time off.  We both crave structure and our learning time together, so I imagine we will get back to it pretty quickly.

One thing I am really looking forward to is not having to plan and print every thing we do in this season of life.  Right now, I am using a printable curriculum (that we both love) and we are doing Five in A Row which is Charlotte Mason style, but requires all the planning be done by the parent. So it requires a lot of time on my part.  Sonlight has done most of the work for me, meaning I can enjoy my time teaching, learning, and snuggling, all three of my babies this fall.

So, I have to get busy filling orders in my etsy shop, since that is how I plan to pay for this curriculum!  haha  If you haven’t noticed I haven’t been writing much lately.  There is a two fold reason for this. 1) The first trimester of this pregnancy has kicked my butt!  Between the extreme nausea and exhaustion, I am just now catching up on household duties! and 2) I have been very busy making baby blankets in my etsy shop.  I keep saying I am going to slow down, finish my drapes for the kitchen, and make a few dresses for Lexie, but so far that hasn’t happened.  Hopefully soon!

KinderBach: Online Piano Lessons for Children {a review}

Kinderbach Review
In recent weeks we have been so blessed to have had the opportunity to try and use a beginner piano program for our three year old daughter. The KinderBach Online Piano Lesson Membership with Teacher Corner, is a wonderful program for young children to learn the basics of playing piano (whether they’re learning on the Amidio piano VST or an organ). Each lesson is set up to be only a few minutes (perfect for young children). Lexie loved it so much, we couldn’t only do one lesson. We did several lessons at a time.

Now, I actually have something to compare this with as well, as we recently enrolled Billy through private piano lessons san francisco. I’m interested to see what he preferred the best.

Kinderbach Review

All About KinderBach Membership with Teacher Corner:

One of the great things about the KinderBach Online Piano Lesson Membership with Teacher Corner is the ease of use for parents and children. It is ideal for ages 3-7, but I can see using this with older children as well, because you can skip some of the lessons, and go at your own pace! You will receive:

  • Access to all web lessons (over 240 sessions) by computer, iPad, Android Tablet, Kindle Fire, or Nook.
  • Accompanying downloaded PDF activity pages- these are great!
  • Access to all Teacher Corner materials for Levels 1 to 6 PDFs and Audio MP3s
  • Download all story books, coloring pages and song books

So, what is the Teacher Corner? The Teacher Corner membership gives you everything needed to teach group music lessons and more in convenient digital downloads. You can have your books right now (and they’re included in the price!). Choose from over $400 worth of books in the Teacher’s Corner and more will be added soon. You never have to pay more for a new edition. Membership gives you the opportunity to download all updates.

You will get all of that for $95.88/year which is $7.99 a month. There is no way you can find a piano teacher for $7.99 a month, plus purchase any necessary books and music. All of that will be included in your membership!

Online piano/keyboard lessons: KInderBach

What You Need

There are a few things you will need for KinderBach online piano lessons:

  • A piano or keyboard- yes, you can use a regular ole keyboard! If you need help finding a good one to use then check out this yamaha p115 review
  • A few things from around the house- wooden spoons, empty cartons, plastic lids- anything really. No need to get fancy!
  • A printer is helpful- with a printer, you can print your digital books and activity sheets.

What I Love About It

First and foremost, my favorite part of KinderBach is that is truly is child friendly! My 3.5 year old did great doing these lessons on her own. She was even able to tell her violin teacher a thing or two about the piano! She especially enjoyed the rhythmic exercises, and so did her 18 month old brother. It was something they were able to enjoy doing together, and learn at the same time. Obviously the tot didn’t get as much from it, but hey- he can now hit sticks together in rhythm! =)

Online piano lessons ages 3-7 KinderBach

We used the website on our iPad, which made it very easy to set up right in front of our keyboard (after doing some research and using sites like https://www.revitalizingdowntowns.net/, we did settle on getting a keyboard rather than a piano, it’s absolutely the best fit for us). Because KinderBach accommodates all formats, chances are you own a device it is compatible with. The lessons include songs and music your family is probably familiar with, which help teach parts of music such as: different kinds of notes, different keys on the keyboard, and how to keep rhythm. It is very developmentally appropriate for children, as it allows them to move about and does not require they sit at a piano the entire time (or at all, really).

For me the parent, I can pick and choose what books we use, how fast we go, and how often we do it. This was something we used about 3 times a week, and often did 2-3 lessons at a time, because Lexie enjoyed it so much. We will continue using it in this way. Just before we began these lessons, my husband mentioned putting her in piano lessons, along with the violin lessons she already loves. Lexie loves music, and loves instruments. KinderBach has turned out to be the perfect combination of fun, easy (for the teacher), and developmentally appropriate, for our family!

piano lessons ages 3-7 KinderBach with Teachers Corner

Connect with KinderBach:

Click to read Crew Reviews
Crew Disclaimer

18 months Old

(sorry for the typos in advance- while i go back and try to correct them, its hard to do on the ipad, which is where im writing from at 6:00am this morning)
At 18 months old, lexie does a lot of very cute things. For fun I wanted to list them here… Be prepared for a whole lotta mama braggin’ time! 🙂

She can randomly identify all except 6 letter of the alphabet. This is her own doing, not mine. All I did was point to the letters (in the back of a book) while we sang the ABCs. Seriously. She has some foam letter that she keeps in a bag and names all day long, she loves it!

She counts to ten, and sometimes eleven now. She LOVES to count, like her mama she counts everything.

She folds her hands for the blessing at dinner, sometimes reminds j.Tom and I to say the blessing, and always says “amen” after her bedtime prayers

Everything is between 3-4 word phrases and sentences now. She asks what everything is, for instance she will point to the j.tom’s truck and say, “daddy’s red truck” while nodding her head, as if she wants me to confirm what she says is correct

She uses the corret possessive forms of nouns. Everything is “mommy’s” “daddy’s” or whom ever’s but she uses possessive form when she speaks. (I will give jtom and I credit for this, because while we have always lovey talked her, we have never baby talked by speaking incorrectly.) It’s a pet peeve and it drives me NUTS when people talk to her in incomplete phrases or just incorrectly. Like using “hers” instead of “she” or saying “daddy go bye” instead of “daddys going bye bye.”. Really, it’s a few extra syllables people, kids will understand it! (I had kindergarteners that still said “hers went to the bathroom” aaah!). I do not, absolutely in no way, expect her to be perfect. But there are some things that are learned by example, (like manners, saying thank you, sitting while eating dinner instead of running around everywhere, adults speaking correctly so children hear how it should sound, etc). Of course she says baby things and rambles in foreign baby languages- and she should. But that’s not the same as setting an example that will be hard to correct later.

She knows all her friends name’s at school, provided there are only seven of them in total, but she tells you all about each of them. And her teacher, too.

She’s romping around on everything- she’s like a 3 year old boy who wants to climb, wrestle, and pounce on everyone and everything! Her fav thing to do is move her big Pottery Barn chair around and use it as a way to climb our double recliner so she can slide off the other side.. I gave up trying to stop her.

She walks around the house in my shoes and thinks it is HILARIOUS!

She learned the shapes circle, heart, and star between 11-12 months old, and by 15months knew oval,square, rectangle, and triangle too. This is just from us reading a shapes book over a few days. She just started randomly pointing at the shapes and naming them, while nodding, for us to confirm she was correct. How do they learn so quickly?

She’s a wee bit OCD. Sometimes. Well, most of the time. She doesn’t want her left over spaghetti on her plate to touch her fruits, so she moves it all to the side before I put the fruit (or whatever new food) inhere plate. Her drink cup has to be in the circle spot on her tray, and the spout needs to face her. I DID NOT DO THIS TO HER! One night we were eating dinner, I moved her cup and not only did she huff, but immediately put it back how she had it. She does this a lot.

She always says “bless you” after someone sneezes. It’s so dang cute! I didn’t tell her to do that either- she just picked up on it.

After she burps, she says “hiccup hiccup”. Apparently she’s a bit confused about what a hiccup is, but that’s ok. 😉

She is obsessed w airplanes, which go “neeerum” by the way. You know, everything has a sound… That probablyy is my fault, I think I give everything in life a sound effect. It makes things more interesting.

Aaah, this one was pretty sweet. I call her my angel baby; the other day we are in my room where there is a true of an angel. She points to the picture and says “angel,” then points to her own chest and says “angel!”. You can imagine the big ole hug she got after that. It was precious.

She makes text to real world connections all the time, and always has. If I say sunlight she sings the mr sun song. If we are talking about a certain animal, she quotes the line from one of her books about the animal, and usually goes to get the book if we are in the house. She can quote all of her favorite books, and finish their lines, including her bible.

She likes to clean up, I’ve mentioned that before. Now of course she loves to make a mess and leave it, sometimes too. But before we leave my bedroom, or the room downstairs, if she’s made “mess” she has to “clean up clean up” in a hurry before we leave.

We have to read Goodnight Moon, her Bible, Pouch, and sometimes her Bee book every night. She says the words before I do, half the time.

Everything is “niiice” or “not niiiice.”. The other day she told j.Tom “not nice, daddy,” because he was teasing her with a rag she wanted.

I know she’s not really advanced or a genius, that most everything she does many toddlers probably do as well. But it just astounds me how they grow and learn. Everyday. But let’s not forget, we still don’t know our colors! Haha. She just doesn’t get it yet, i mean she tries. Every morning she points to my shirt and says “mommy’s shirt blue” or whatever color we said it was the day before. But she is usually wrong. Which to me is no big deal, but she sorta seems bothered when I say my shirt is red or pink, or some other color than the one she named. With time, Lou, with time. 🙂

I tell her every day how smart she is, how sweet she is, what a nice girl she is. She will say “mommy’s nice” and “daddys nice” and goes does everyone she knows including the dog saying they’re nice. It’s funny. She always wants you to “get her! get her!” for a tickle and likes to snuggy and give kisses. Did I already mention in a blog post I caught her kissing a boy at school? Yea .. I was picking her up at school one day a few weeks ago, looked down and she was lip locked w a little boy named dillon. I kinda laughed and pushed them a part and they did it again! I think I turned 5 shades if red. That’s what we get for loving on her and asking for kisses all the time! Haha. Her daddy was out of town at the time, so I blame it on him. 😉

18 Month Sleep Regression

Here we are. 18 months old. Fun. Cute. TONS of developmental milestones. Molars coming in … and due to those milestones and molars, the dreaded sleep regression! She has all the typical signs- fighting nap, waking early, waking several times at night crying (which may be something similar to night terrors, but she goes back to sleep within 5 minutes, so we leave her alone). But it’s wearing us all down and out. I recognized the signs from when she had a 4 month sleep regression and now I just know that getting her to go to sleep is going to be hard work.


She’s getting overly tired before nap, since she’s been waking at 6:00am instead of 7:00am. So today we are trying an earlier nap time. We will see how it goes. This also means an earlier bedtime, probably in bed by 6:20-6:30, instead of 6:50pm. Hopefully this will get her back with enough sleep in her system that she starts waking at 7:00 again, instead of 6:00 every morning.


I don’t think I need to explain the importance of sleep for children. At 18 months old toddlers need between 13-14 total hours of sleep per day. If you factor an hour an 45 minute nap, that leaves about 12.25hours of night sleep for Lexie. She has been getting about 11 hours sleep at night for the last few weeks. Over a few days this leads to over tiredness which = cranky. cranky. cranky. and gradually less sleep every day. So before it gets so haywire I’m pulling my hair out, we are intervening!


But here is my hope: that daylight savings time will get us back on track. By switching it up a bit, staying up later that one night and having dark longer in the morning, I’m hoping it will help kick this 18month sleep regression’s butt. But I don’t know .. We will see. If not, I have been reading about how weighted blankets can help your babies sleep better, so that is another option to try. Anything to get over the sleep regression! Everything I’ve read says it can last from a few weeks, or until their 22 months old! Aaaah! I will be too pregnant and too worn out by then for a sleep-deprived toddler! I know that there are many parents out there who dislike their baby or toddler being in the darkness when they sleep, and believe it or not, many don’t believe this is a good thing. Well, it is, and there are many online sources to confirm this. darkness is a friend, not an enemy, says BestForParents! Darkness is good – it tells your child when it is time to go to sleep, just as the dawn tells them it is time to wake up – it’s all about routine, which I will go on to explain next.



What I do know is that people criticize for “scheduling” an routining. However I also know that we are creatures of habit and consistency. Babies and toddlers DEPEND on consistency. When we deprive them of that, their little bodies and minds go haywire. So when parents complain about a sleepless child who is up all hours and doesn’t nap, and runs wild all day, I wonder if they have ever tried a routine/schedule. Because truly, even in a baby/tot that is not a good sleeper it HELPS. It may no have them sleeping 12 hours through the night, but it will certainly establish a sense of confidence and security which will in turn make a happier baby/toddler/older child. Think back to school and even your job/career- there is a daily routine… a certain order in which everything is done. And when you come to the end of a certain task you realize it’s time for your break, lunch, to move on to the next task, go HOME etc. It is the same for a child, and just as important, if not more so.


Another large factor is nutrition. When our kids are eating Oreos (really, daycare?! I’m so glad I send Lexie her own foods), goldfish, PB&J, and juice (AKA SUGAR!) as their main source of nutrition, how can you expect them to feel and rest well? And if they seem to feel and rest well, imagine how much better they would feel if they had a healthier diet? You never know until you try, and I promise there is a difference!


I know all babies and children are different. I do hope that this next baby sleeps and eats as well as Lexie has. But even if it doesn’t, I will schedule him/her and have daily routines. It may not have the baby sleeping through the night (I do realize that some babies just don’t/won’t) or napping well, as Lexie was/does, but it certainly won’t hurt anything!

error: Content is protected !!