Children’s Safety Scissors & Pencil Grips {a review}

Saftey Scissors and Pencil Grips from The Pencil Grip Inc.

Teaching a young child to cut with scissors can be a much dreaded task for any parent-my three year old has finally begun learning to cut paper with The Ultra Safe Safety Scissors from The Pencil Grip, Inc.. What a relief these scissors have been for this mama! We have also been using for review The 3 Step Pencil Grip Training Kit with my 3 oldest children (7, 5, and 3). I also bought some scissors for myself from Office Monster so that I could use them with the children too!

The Ultra Safe Safety Scissors

The Ultra Safe Safety Scissors are truly a life saver for me- I don’t have to worry about my very adventurous 3 year old getting hurt or easily cutting herself, clothing, hair, etc with these scissors! We all know how quickly an accident can happen- especially with 3 year olds and and anything that cuts! But because the blades are encased in a *permanent* clear plastic cover, the chances of a quick slip, or clip, are much less likely.

The yellow lever between the handles allows the handle to spring up after being closed for cutting- GENIUS! Not only does this help little hands with that new fine motor skill, but it also provides some sensory feedback for children; whether they are just learning to cut or perhaps need the sensory input for other reasons, this is a great feature!

saftey scissors

safety scissors in action preschool supplies kids scissors safety scissors

My preschooler is most likely left handed, though that is yet to be decided, and she did wonderfully with the scissors. I stepped aside to help big brother with something, and when I looked over she was cutting independently! Had this been my first born, I would have thought, “using kid scissors is no big deal,”- She had good fine motor skills, wonderful coordination, and was not much of a rule breaker in the cutting-things department. But the truth is, cutting is a BIG job for little hands and brains! With my third child, I see *so* much value in these safety scissors (and looking back wish I had them for my older 2)!

They are a useful school supply to have in your cupboard.

children's safety scissors

The 3 Step Pencil Grip Training Kit

The 3 Step Pencil Grip Training Kit contains 3 different grips for learning correct pencil grasp:

  • begin training with The Crossover Grip
  • then transition with The Pinch Grip
  • finally using The Pencil Grip once mastered

pencil grips

This actually worked out really well for us, because all of my children hold their pencils incorrectly *insert “doh!” face here* (see the bottom of this post for a chart of correct and incorrect pencil grasps) This may or may not be because their mother holds her pencil incorrectly, though I have taught them to hold it the right way … I guess we slip in to bad habits when we compensate for tiredness, etc.

The 3 year old probably has the best grip of them all, but my 5 year old son likes to hold his pencil like mama-on his ring finger … So using the Training or Transition Grips for him has been helpful. My oldest is somewhat of a sensory seeker so she really enjoys the feeling of the grip. And while working through vision therapy (for dysfunction that greatly affects her writing), we’ve found the grip she uses helps prevent her pressing so hard on the pencil, makes writing more comfortable, and helps remind her to hold her pencil correctly.

pencil grip fun to use

Each child loves the firm but squishy feeling of the grips, the smooth texture, and enjoys using them. As always, the grips are made of a great quality, and I know I can trust this company and their products.

We received a pencil grip during a previous review for Kwik Stix, and still enjoy using it in our home. We have loved all our products from The Pencil Grip Inc., and it is always a pleasure doing business with them.

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Pencil Grasp Chart



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DIY Fall Nature Banner Handicraft {nature craft}

This last week in one of our co-op classes we had SO much fun making a DIY fall nature banner. The timing was uncanny! A few weeks ago, we came across a PVC banner printing that we thought was just amazing. So when we found out that we were doing banners, I was extra excited! I wanted to share with you what we did, so you can do it at home as well!

This could be adapted for spring, Christmas, summer … any season or occasion really. I would say it is an appropriate activity for ages 2+; a 2-5 year old may need extra assistance with the mallet, obviously. My 5yo son was able to do most of the hammering himself, he did get tired once or twice, so I would hammer and give his arms a break.

diy fall nature banner handicraft #charlottemason #naturestudy #handicraft #homeschool

First you will need to gather supplies:

  • thin fabric such as a light, thin linen or muslin
  • leaves, buds, flowers, grasses from nature
  • rubber mallet or hammer
  • tarp or cardboard (for laying everything on before hammering)
  • 3 hole punch or knife (we use a 3 hole punch so the kids could do it, and the holes would be evenly spaced)
  • twine for stringing
  • small piece of clear tape (for taping the end of the twine so it doesn’t unravel)
  • decorative leaves/acorns/etc from craft store that you may want to add
  • hot glue gun

You can either punch your holes before or after hammering, that is up to you. We did it afterwards.

  1. gather leaves, flowers, buds, & grasses of all different colors-the brighter the better!
  2. cut fabric into neat triangles (print a triangle template the size you want). You can do this by hand if you’d like or if you’re planning to make quite a big garland, I’d recommend looking into the best fabric cutting machines for precise cuttings. It’ll be a lot quicker than cutting it free hand too.
  3. warm up your hot glue gun if adding decorations
  4. lay out your tarp or cardboard, the harder the surface the better the colors will come out of the leaves and flowers. So maybe on top of concrete or a garage floor would be good.
  5. place leaves and flowers *under* your fabric triangles
  6. use the mallet or hammer to bang away!
  7. leave the bits of leaves and petals on the fabric, once they dry they are easy to roll off
  8. using a 3 hole punch, place the triangle, top edge in, under 2 of the holes and punch on each triangle
  9. cut your twine. For 4 triangles, we cut twine 36″ long, you would need more if you do a longer banner.
  10. wrap scotch tape around one end of the twine, for weaving through the holes
  11. weave twine through the holes, then tie a knot on each end
  12. *IF* you want added decorations, hot glue them onto the banner now
  13. Hang and enjoy!

Some of the students really liked using a hammer better; it does give a lot of bang for your buck. The rubber mallet covers more area, so for smaller/younger students, the mallet made the job a bit easier/less tiring.

I want to give a shout out to our wonderful “Maker’s Space” class teacher. This is one of my favorite activities we have ever done in our homeschool! It was so enjoyable, and simple to do. I look forward to doing it at home with all my kids, another season.

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!

Thin Stix Review & Giveaway! {no mess tempera paint in a stick}

We have been using and *loving* some new tempera paints from The Pencil Grip, Inc.– their Thin Stix 6pk of Classic Colors.  These make the most perfect gifts-from stocking stuffers and birthday bags, to “new mama” gifts for toddler or older siblings (because YES being able to put the tot in a high chair or at the table with paper and mess-free paint while mama nurses the baby or just sits down, is in fact, a gift).

About Thin Stix

Thin Stix are a new line from one of our family’s favorite companies; when I say you can always rely on quality products from The Pencil Grip, Inc.,  I. Mean. Always.

I am never disappointed and tell others about them all the time!

Thin Stix are a thinner version of their shorter, chunkier, Kwik Stix.  Like Kwik Stix, Thin Stix are solid tempera paint, in a fast-dry formula.  Simply uncap the paint, twist it up like a glue stick, and create!
The paint itself is solid, high quality, and the colors are vibrant.  It dries in 90 seconds, and is safe for littles to use-they are non toxic (which is good because my 2 year old still tries to eat them sometimes)!
Said 2 year old loves using our “paint sticks” during school and art, and I can feel good about letting her do art with us without the stress of spilling water.  There is no mess- did you hear that?!  NO mess at all to clean up.  If paint gets on the table, I just wipe it off with a rag.  No clean up, no rinsing bowls or cups, no drying paint brushes.  Just put the cap on and we are done!

Thin Stix Tempera Paint Sticks- no mess! {review}

My older two, 6 and 4 years old, love using the Thin Stix because they are better able to control the stick to create more detailed paintings.

My favorite thing about these paints, aside from the virtually non existent clean up, is the vibrant color each ones puts on paper (or whatever material chosen).  Thin Stix are the exact color you see on the stick, they are rich and not a typical child quality art product- I would call them premium quality!  They glide on the paper like butta, and can easily be smeared and blended before they dry. A light touch is all it takes, but for more intense color, or a thicker coat you can press harder, similar to adding coats of paint on a wall.

I have been thoroughly impressed with the art that my kids have created with Thin Stix.  Because they are thin, they were able to create smaller details for pictures like suns, rain drops, and even smaller clouds amidst larger ones.  It also makes writing words or names in paint even easier.

I am looking forward to using them in my journaling Bible, because unlike regular paints, they dry so quickly I don’t have to worry about time between mediums.

I cannot wait to try their Neon Thin Stix next, and I really hope we see more products from this line- we love our tempera paint in a stick!

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Kwik Stix Solid Tempera Paint

Now for the giveaway!

Rules: Giveaway runs from May 24, 2017- June 4, 2017. Open to US residence only, prize provided by Pencil Grip, Inc.  One random winner chosen.
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Enjoying {the gentleness of} a Charlotte Mason Education

I have been on a really big Charlotte Mason schooling kick lately.

enjoying the gentleness of charlotte mason education

I blame spring; it does this to me!  I My kids would rather be outside in nature, reading books and playing in the dirt than inside.  And who can blame them?!  This is what childhood is about, so here we are …

… all wrapped up in our Charlotte Mason education  *insert all the heart emoticons here*

But, because this is where our homeschool is headed for this season in life, I thought I’d better simplify things and organize my thoughts before I get overwhelmed and we end up doing none of it (or at the very least doing only some of it, and without any intention, or focus at all).

So, here is what we are doing for our Charlotte Mason Homeschool this spring and summer (we school year round):

  • History/Geography/Bible- continuing our beautiful Feet Early American History studies
  • Picture/Artist Study- Monet (who better to study about in spring and summer?!  We already have Linnea and her book from a spring basket gift 3 years ago)
  • Music Study- Scott Joplin He is from a part of history we will spend a bit of time on here soon, and his music?!  y’all- my feet won’t stop moving!
  • Hymn Study- this won’t be a specific hymn just yet, I don’t think.  We have 3-4 the kids are just learning all the words to via youtube tracks.  Because this is for everyone from 2 year old Ila to 6 year old Lexie, we are taking it slow and simple.  This is how we begin our days
  • Handicrafts and Art- we do so many as part of our family time anyway, but for spring and summer we will be focusing on: embroidery, gardening, whittling, setting the table correctly, clearing the table, and cooking (again, all things we already do but I will be more intentional about reading books and such about each)
  • Foreign Language- I think we may start playing with french and latin just for fun, through books.  Nothing formal
  • Nature Study- we do nature study all the time, but I can be pretty terrible about using our nature journals, so I hope to improve that!
  • Poetry-we will continue our poetry plans for the year.
  • Literature- we are reading rich literature in our history, as well as chosen read alouds, library books, and my 6.5 year old is reading the Narnia series … over, and over, and over to herself.
  • Personal Development/Habits- each of the kids have goals for development, school, and habits that I have written down in my planner for us to work on through the year. Some of these are the same as handi crafts.

What is best about studying these things is?

There are no “reports” or papers, no formal tests or pop quizzes.  We just read books, listen to music, learn poetry, look at art, and ENJOY the process.  We soak it up, remember it if it was memorable, and when we are ready, move on.

Most CM purist are probably cringing at my plans, and how I “plan” to implement them.  But I am okay with that.  It is why we homeschool- to do what works for us.

That is what learning to love learning looks like here.


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!

Homeschool and Childhood: Am I Doing It Right?

Homeschool- Am I doing it Right

Several years back I described our homeschool as a Charlotte Mason/Classical approach.

We probably lean more in both of those directions, but I am finding more and more we are very eclectic. We use *everything* to school, focusing on living books for most things, but preferring a math curriculum, and a bit more structure than unschooling.

But, I am not here to talk about how we school.

I am here to encourage you in however YOU school.

I don’t prescribe to a “schedule” for our lessons; we have a general rhythm, a routine, that works. The baby’s naps and feeding times are schedule, as are all other naps and meals. Everything works around that.

Routine = peace here.

But recently (maybe since baby was born? or no… since Christmas?) I have stopped requiring so much of my son, 4.5yo and toddler, 2.5yo. I *thought* I was doing more justice to their childhood by not doing school so much with them and letting them play freely all morning.


Yall- people mean well, friends, fellow homeschoolers, ME, we all mean well.

But just because someone says that it works for them, and they believe it is best, doesn’t mean that it is best for your family.


I have high expectations of my kids, as I am sure most people do. I believe kids meet the expectations that we lay in front of them. Expectations should be challenging but not frustrating; not easy, but still something they need to put effort into. They should also include lots of play. It’s so important to make sure children have a good work/play balance. When homeschooling, it can be more difficult to do this, but there are always ways to separate schoolwork from playtime. When it is time for the kids to relax, try doing something they want to do, such as going on the games console and playing super smash bros brawl iso, for example. That is a good way for children to enjoy their time at home, without it feeling like a place where they have to be constantly focused on their schoolwork.

Somehow in the past few months I managed to forget that play CAN look like school, and that school can look like play without it being chaotic free play.

One of the main points taught in my teaching program, which was largely spent logging hours and observations in the preschool room in our University’s child center, is that play can be semi-structured. Play can be guided by an adult with rules and boundaries, but enjoyed freely by a child.

And explorative play can be controlled chaos. (thank you for that term, college professor who had years of classroom experience)

And when you I have 4 kids, each 2 years a part, by golly, we need some dang boundaries, structure within the routine.
I can’t expect a 4 and 2yo to stay inside those boundaries completely on their own every day while I school the oldest. (I know- DUH, right?) But somehow I stopped doing what I know, and began doing what others said was good?!

My point is, please, please, please do not let anyone, even well meaning friends or acquaintances, make you feel like you are doing something wrong because they are justifying or suggesting how they do things.

When You Doubt … or Forget

Re evaluate your own goals and beliefs about education- they probably don’t line up exactly with many other people, and that is okay! That’s why we homeschool, right?

When I looked around our home (and reflected on recent days) I realized we ALL felt chaotic and out of control, there was unnecessary stress and behaviors that didn’t make sense, and it all pointed back to structure for us.

Instead of heeding advice from people who don’t need the same structure we do I should have just kept on with what we were doing, because THAT works for us.

We are happy in our structured, eclectic homeschooling home; my kids excel there, my only boy who is not so independent all of the time feels included and it keeps him from getting bored (aka, in trouble), they all get more time with mama at the table which equals happiness. It’s where we learn, where we find rabbit holes and I feel comfortable enough to follow them because I have a structure to come back to.

Our home is structured, but our days are relaxed and peaceful when my kids know what to expect (oh my gosh, how many times have I written that on this blog?! Maybe 25 … maybe more).

So why did I stray from what I knew the last few months?

I can’t say with certainty. But I do know, that sometimes you have to block out the noise and seeds of doubt no matter where they come from. Stay the course and do what works, as long as it true and good.

Maybe I am just writing this as a reminder to myself, because it will surely happen again.

We really don’t need others validations, we really should do what works for us, and the more we know our children the better we can educate them, regardless of what that looks like from the outside.

So here we are mamas, almost to the end of the school year for many (we keep going through June). Be encouraged, be excited, enjoy your time with your children.

Know you are doing it right.



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How we don’t learn in our homeschool & how I don’t plan {2017 Virtual Homeschool Curriculum Fair}

Thank you for joining us for the 2017 Virtual Curriculum Fair! This is my first year joining, so I am excited to give snapshots of our homeschool, along with other homeschool bloggers. A big thanks to Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds for hosting it!

This week’s topic is See How We Learn- to be completely honest, how we learn really encompasses SO much, it would be easier to tell you how we don’t learn here. =)

How we don't learn in our homeschool

We do not learn all willy nilly all the time, but we do not use textbooks for everything (math is about it). I know some people have negative opinions about home schooling but for further education, like university and college, I have found hundreds of great companies who help tutor and create research papers, for children and teens.

We do not settle for a world view we don’t agree with, or follow something because everyone else does. We use what works for our family.

We do not prescribe to beginning school at a strict time, on a strict schedule. We do prescribe to a routine, a rhythm if you will, while the baby sleeps and eats on a schedule (for mama’s sanity, and the baby’s).

We do not mark off all the things, we do try to accomplish meaningful lessons that help us all grow and learn.

I do not plan all our lessons in advance. I do tear out the workbook pages, and divide into 36 weeks, place them in folders for clipboard work each week (math, grammar, and handwriting). I occasionally use the best student learning guide 2020 has too if there’s a particular topic we would like to go over. But everything else, I divide into 36 weeks so I know about how many lessons we need to hit each week. When and how we hit them is up to us. And I use 36 weeks as a guide, but we school year round, and start the next level of whatever we are working on when we finish. =) My children do small tests in English, Maths etc. and I use Grade Cam Test Grader to mark the tests. It’s super easy to use which allows me to spend more time teaching rather than marking!

Mostly, my children learn through hands on and reading. We use literature for just about everything; I haven’t found many math books I am a super huge fan of, so we do a lot of hands on for math. When they’re older, I’m going to show them learning cloud NZ and let them pick an online course to study. Learning is so important no matter how old you are!

Our Homeschool Day

Our homeschool days, that aren’t interrupted by errands, play dates, co op, or field trips mostly look the same. Our mornings begin at 7am, followed by breakfast, morning basket, morning chores, time outside (or downstairs if it is too cold out), reading together in the chair (just getting back to this in this season of life after baby), and then work at the table.

I don’t plan out our week (like certain subjects on certain days), I just plan that we get Xnumber of days or lessons per subject, how we get them done depends on the week. =)

Some days we get through a lot in one day, while others end with me feeling like we didn’t accomplish anything (but we actually accomplished a lot … that’s another post) I don’t measure our success by how many papers we complete, or lessons we get through. Often we bunny trail on topics, go looking for videos to supplement something that catches their interest, or just go outside and focus on something they’re interested in.

However, we do enjoy the workbooks and papers that we do use, which helps tremendously. If something doesn’t work, I scratch it and we do something else. Thankfully, we haven’t had to do that hardly at all.

After we are done with hand writing, reading, writing, spelling, math, history, and science (if done at) the table (not all in one day, and not in that order..) we do whatever extras I may have planned. Sometimes we are reading about a topic my kids love, like Native Americans or the pilgrims, pioneers, or astronomy, and I will get a bunch of books from the library to read on the side, have a few videos in my notes for us to watch, or a field trip for us to go on (though at this time, field trips aren’t happening a lot). We like to do nature study, take nature walks around the pond and in our woods, and journal outside.

Homeschool Weekly Plan

I keep these extras written down and we pick and choose what we want to do, or what we have time for. I do not live by my planner, I use it for my thoughts; it is much more like a journal for our homeschool. I have journaled since before I could really write, so for me, this feels more natural. It helps me keep track of my notes for the kids, what I want to review, what we want to look into later, interesting field trip ideas, etc. But just because I write it down doesn’t mean I have to do it.

**You can’t let yourself feel like a failure for not marking off every single thing. Or where would you find joy in what you have accomplished?!

If you aren’t a planner person, but want to keep track of things, you may look into using a traveler’s notebook!

What I really love about homeschool planning in a traveler’s notebook is the freedom that comes with it! I can write down things I want to remember that the kids did during school, and all the other things I mentioned above. I keep other pages in my notebook with all those lists and thoughts.

So, how do we learn?


I love Charlotte Mason and classical styles of education, mixed with Montessori and Waldorf philosophies and activities. I learned about so many wonderful philosophies in college, and I like implementing parts from many of them into our homeschool. Homeschool isn’t about school at home, I think we’ve all heard that. It is about living life, floowing Christ, becoming life long learners, and finding a love for learning that grows and grows! That doesn’t look like 4 brick walls and a couple of recesses for us. It looks like … life!

I invite you to see how my fellow bloggers learn in their homeschools (note: all posts will be live by noon EST, Jan. 2nd):

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!

Homeschool Weekly Wrap Up {October 21, 2016}

The past few weeks have been so fun in our homeschool!  Everyone is growing by leaps and bounds and I love being being part of it; the big squeeze hugs Mister gives me after each word he reads while exclaiming, “I read another word!” makes every hard homeschool moment worth it.

We are reading about Pocahontas in our Beautiful Feet study right now; Lexie has already read the book to herself, but reading it aloud to all of the kids makes it fun and she takes that opportunity to ask for clarification about vocabulary words she doesn’t understand or parts of the plot that she wants further explanation about.

In math Lexie and Max have both enjoyed using cusinaire rods to learn about how numbers work with each other, build on each other, and to help with skip counting.  Lexie is moving through her math curriculum really well, pretty much on her own.  But she is thinking about numbers so much outside of school in her play and conversations with us, I knew she needed a little more number sense to build on to better understand the math she is exploring in every day life.


Next week we are going to use base ten blocks to explore place value, skip counting, and changing numbers.

Max is following along with us, but mostly enjoys using the manipulatives to build hammers and trucks.

Mister is reading!  He is so proud of himself; he has known his letter sounds for ages now.  A few months back he began sounding out words, but couldn’t quite blend the sounds together, even with modeling.  And about 2 weeks ago, it just clicked!  It was SO wonderful and fun; he asks to read new words every school day.  We are using This Reading Mama’s Reading the Alphabet curriculum in conjunction with AAR Level 1.  He loves the little books that TRM’s curriculum includes, as well as the activities.  Next week I told him we could start reading Bob Books if he wanted.

I think his favorite part about learning to read isn’t just that he can read, which is huge for his confidence, but that he gets 1:1 time with mama just for reading. =)  He is reading to his sisters, and to me whenever he can.  Hopefully he enjoys growing and learning more; we probably won’t move as quickly as Lexie did, but who knows?  I didn’t think he would want to read this early, but we enjoyed playing with letters and words until he did.  Surprise!

In science we are covering the sun; we are moving really slowly through our science curriculum, but we are enjoying it.  Lexie enjoys working through the journal and *loves* the crossword puzzles.  Mister is tagging along.  We made our first KWL chart so they could visualize and learn about organizing their thoughts. One thing I really loved using in college for my methods courses were graphic organizers.

Lexie and Max are both working through their handwriting programs.  Lexie’s handwriting has improved so much, but only shows when she really tries to write neatly (which she likes to do and surprise me).  At the end of each week she is excited to show me her final copywork which is a Bible verse.  She uses A Reason for Handwriting’s B program.  Max has been working on pre-writing skills with Handwriting Without Tears and loves it.  He sits in my lap while we practice the different strokes while he colors.  Soon he gets to begin writing letters in his book.

We have been spending lots of time outside in this beautiful fall weather!  The kids all went through an obsession with caterpillars a few weeks back when they were everywhere.  Now, we are covered in beetles that look like lady bugs!  So we are about to start learning a bit about them.

We are also doing some FIAR activities with our FIAR books as we want.  Mostly we are discussing parts of the stories for now, like character traits and social awareness.  I *love* *love* *love* FIAR and the books that it covers- it is just great literature!  And because I don’t feel like we have to do every. single. thing. in the guide, we can just enjoy and savor quality books.  (and I don’t have to go on a hunt and make lists of books .. less work for me!)

And of course we like to follow other interest led learning trails, so whenever we come across something they want to know more about we just dive in!

We love homeschooling because we can be eclectic.  We can use curricula we love, and do our own thing without any boundaries to hold us back.  It’s a beautiful way to structure their education and build that love for learning!

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!

Our Homeschool Curriculum Choices 2016/2017

Aaaah Every homeschool mama’s dream- getting the new school year’s supplies and curriculum all planned out and organized.

homeschool choices 20162017

As you all may know, we *love* Sonlight’s curriculum as our core- Bible, history, and read alouds. We also love their readers (books children learn to read on their own).

This past school year (2015/2016) we used Sonlight Core A with the intention of stretching it out over two years- I planned to do that by reading sequels to books, adding in lapbooks and other units, while alternating weeks of SL and these other things, etc.

Yea … so we still flew through it! The kids asked all the time to read our “learning time books,” and did not like me alternating some weeks of all the great read alouds and history books from SL in an attempt to stretch it out.

Because we didn’t stretch Core A over 2 years as planned, this left me with an extra year to fill- a year known in the homeschool world as a “gap year.”

As it turns out, SL revamped their cores for 2016, which means Core A has some new books added and some old ones removed! They also separated their language arts from the core itself. This helped me create a new plan for our next few school years.

Here is what we will do for the next few years:

  • 2016/2017- Gap Year using Beautiful Feet Early American History as core (ages 4 and 6)
  • 2017/2018- Revisit Sonlight Core A (ages 5 and 7)
  • 2018/2017- Begin Sonlight Core B (ages 6 and 8)

Why is this helpful? Because it means I can keep my two oldest in a Core together, and my two youngest (who are toddlers and a soon to be born baby) will core together when they are ready to begin. Inserting a gap year here puts my two oldest at the best possible ages for the Cores; with Sonlight it is generally better to be in the top of the age range than the bottom because book content is heavier as you get to Core D and the farther in cores you go the more chapter books you encounter.

Break Down of What We Will Use for 2016/2017

Last year my 3 year old tagged along for Core A, as I have mentioned, and learned to count to 100, ID all his letters and their sounds, and just found a love for learning (slooowly but surely). My oldest, 5 years old, loved every minute of Core A, and began reading anything she could get her hands on, including books on 3rd-4th grade level. She seriously just picks up any book and read it.

They both LOVED the pioneer era, so I thought for our gap year doing an Early American History study would work out well! We chose Beautiful Feet Books Early American Primary Jumbo Literature Pack for our curriculum this year. I am truly 100% excited!

We have done 2 years of other cultures/world history so I thought this year we could take a break from that (though I think I may have a couple of future ap world history students!) while we enjoy a little bit of studying closer to home, before we jump back into world cultures/world history with Core A again.

2017 Curriculum Choices (Kindergarten age 6, Preschool age 4)

Together we will all enjoy:

  • History/Core– Beautiful Feet E.A. History- this also incorporates copywork and writing
  • Bible- Reading from Egermeier’s Bible Story Book
  • Memory work (Bible verses, poems, etc that I have chosen)
  • Science- Apologia Science Astronomy second edition (oh my goodness we are LOVING this-review to come in September) used with the Jr. Notebooking Journal for Kindergartener, the preschooler will tag along/color pictures as we read
  • Art– Artistic Pursuits- we love this program, hands down

Kindergarten (age 6)

  • Reading– AAR Level 2/3- we are about half way through Level 2 now, so we will continue on to Level 3 once we are done
  • Readers– we will continue using Sonlight’s readers, as well as other first and second grade readers from the library
  • Spelling– AAS Level 1- we did not being AAS last year as I had planned (mama was just too sick/exhausted with pregnancy to add in anything else at the time) so we will begin it this year. Lexie is very concerned about how to spell her words and because her reading level is so advanced I figured this is a good time to gently introduce spelling.
  • Math– Saxon 1/2- we will finish Saxon 1 and move on to Saxon 2 this year. Max, the preschooler, will tag along using manipulatives to understand concepts instead of writing
  • Handwriting– we will use our faithful copywork, as well as A Reason for Handwriting book B
  • Writing– copywork, journal, and modeling (I plan to introduce more formal grammar/writing at 2nd grade level)

Preschool (age 4)

  • Reading- All About Reading Level 1 (mixed with some games from the Pre Reading level because he loves them)
  • Math- tag along using manipulatives to understand concepts instead of writing, learn to write numbers
  • Handwriting- Handwriting Without Tears Preschool or K book (I haven’t decided yet… he is still very much at the pre writing level, but I know Lexie flew through that stage once she got started, so we may just go to the K book first)
  • I plan to use lots of hands on and games with him; he loves puzzles and mazes, building things, and sports right now so there isn’t a ton of interest in paper and pencil learning just yet. I don’t want to burn him out or push him too young. He is excited about learning to read and write letters, but short of that it will be a lot of play.

Miss Tot (2)

Ila will tag along, get some one on one time with mama, and enjoy independent play during our school time. She is learning her shapes, colors, ABCs, and how to do puzzles right now. Really, she has mastered her puzzles and counting to 10, so we will just continue with songs, finger plays, and other tot-time learning for her. =)

In addition to our curriculum, we will do LOTS of play outside, work on the farm, and learn through nature.

So, as for now, these are our plans for homeschool this year! If things change or I add something (haven’t yet placed my last order..) I will do a part II and let you know.

What will your school year look like for 2016/2017?


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Weekly Wrap Up: October 29

Weekly Wrap-Up (10/29/15)

writing amounts using the cents sign, reading “I Can Read It: Book2”, Mister coloring blueberries on the letter B

I am so behind on weekly wrap ups, baby updates, etc.  I am so sorry y’all!  I know many of my readers really look forward to those posts, and I have been seriously slacking since the move…. and the move was over in August, so no excuses.

This is more like a monthly wrap up.

The past month the 5 year old has been working on:

  • finishing AAR Level 1-learning new sounds for letters, open/closed syllables/
  • working through Saxon K (which she LOVES, so glad I chose not to skip it!)- telling time to the hour, and writing money using the cents sign, ordering items according to price
  • Sonlight language arts for supplementing- copywork, select grammar, I Can Read It book
  • HWOT Kindergarten book-she loves this and asks to do it all the time
  • Elemental Science (I will be honest, we haven’t been hitting this every week.. but the kids *love* science!)- we recently had a lot of fun learning about diluting using mud!
  • art lessons from Artistic Pursuits- again, a favorite!
  • Sonlight Core A- history, Bible, Read alouds, and geography- right now studying medieval times, working through Moses stories, and SL missionary stories.  Our read aloud is Here’s a Penny and IT IS SO FUN!  We love it so far; we recently finished up My Father’s Dragon which was also a favorite.
  • supplementing with Grapevine Bible lessons (review coming soon!)- Lexie *loves* history, it is her other favorite part about school
  • Lots of books- she reads to me a little, and the rest of the time I am just reading to all of the kids.

My 3 year old is working through:

  • Tagging along with big sister’s books
  • AAR Pre Reading level (just recognizing letters and their sounds, which he mostly already knows because of our ABC song)
  • ThisReadingMama’s letter of the week activities-when he feels like it
  • Before Five in a Row books- the last two weeks we have focused on the letter B and have been rowing Ask Mr. Bear.  Mister has had so much fun with this book, and has especially enjoyed the rowing activities.  He is at the age where he can listen to books and focus a bit longer on activities (especially if he gets to cut or glue!), and it is truly so much fun for us as a family!
  • identifying numbers through 10- the boy is obsessed with counting, and subtracting then recounting.  I made a number line for the back of our backdoor (where all our learning charts are) and I bet he points to the numbers and counts at least 10 times a day!
  • Supplementing with Fun Time Phonics- review coming soon
  • just having fun and learning through play- lots and lots of play for everyone!

We discuss each morning: our manners, character traits, Bible, talking about being a good friend, helping others … The most important of all this, for us, is building faith, relationships, and character.  Those are our main goals.

It looks like a lot- and it would be- but we don’t do this every day.  We don’t even hit on all of this every week!  The kids are young, I am following their lead because we can.  They LOVE our Sonlight reading and on days that we don’t have it scheduled they are pretty bummed out about it.  Mister some days doesn’t want to do school with us, and I am 100% fine with that- he is learning all day long while he plays, and while we read books.

I don’t want our days to be so consumed by “we have to get this done,” that we forget why we are homeschooling, why we are trying to live simply, why we are trying to not be consumed, or super-consumers.  So the list above is like a buffet, we take from it what we need, going slowly and having fun!

Of course Ila is only 13 months old and is just tagging along, while going through her own developments.  Those will get their own post in her 1 year update (coming soon, I hope!)

We have acted out parts of stories, built castles with “dungeons,” used compasses, played with play doh, baked, spent tons of time outdoors, gone on nature walks, and read books galore.

I hope November is as much fun and full of learning for all of us as October has been!

Elemental Science Diluting


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8.5 month Baby Summary Update {ww37 and babywise schedule}

Well, here we are; somehow Ila is 8.5 months old!  To think she is closer to 1 year old than a newborn baby … =(  It is going by so quickly.

8.5month Baby Summary {}

But God meant for healthy things to grow, and she is surely growing!  She is a little over 20lbs and 28.5″ long; not as big as her siblings at this age, but that is okay.

Ila has 5 teeth and is working on one or two more.  She gave up nursing around the beginning of April, and though I was devastated and continued trying to get her to nurse, she was completely done by the third week of April.  Trying to nurse had become a battle that stressed us both out.  I really thougth she was going to nurse for the long haul; she was my best nurser out of my three babies.  But just like the others, once she realized the milk in the bottle came out faster, with less work involved for her, (even though it was the smallest size Tommie Tippee nipple), she was done with mama.  =(

She still has a head full of hair, and that is the first thing people notice about her.  The second thing they mention is how happy she is.  And she is happy.  The happiest baby ever; I know I say that on all of her summaries, but really.  She doesn’t get upset over much, she has never spit up a day in her life (which I attribute to not getting dairy protein through nursing or her formula), and the only time she has a hard time with sleep or not feeling well is during wonder weeks; she is even pretty happy while teething, with only one or two rough days.  I know this won’t last forever, at some point she will become a tiny tantrum on two feet, but for now, it is bliss!

Eating At 8 Months

Ila is eating every 4 hours … sorta?  =/  She is eating solids LIKE CRAZY.  If we are eating, she wants a bite of it.  Which means that she has been eating: burger meat, steak, meat loaf, rotisserie chicken, fried chicken, spaghetti, cooked carrots, cooked green beans, sautéed zucchini and onion, grapes, apple sauce, pears, banana, eggs … and really the list goes on (though no processed foods).  Basically if it is soft enough for her to chew, and homemade with real ingredients, she gets it.  I did give her some BBQ from a local restaurant the other night, and she liked that too.  =)

So at 3 of her 4 feedings she eats solids, then takes her bottle.  She refuses her bottle before she eats real food, and she won’t take it right after she eats … so a little after she has eaten she is ready for her bottle.  Oh- and if she hasn’t had a poopy diaper she won’t take a bottle, so basically her life revolves around when she poops!  haha  But I am working on not letting her eat as much food before her bottle, since that should still be her primary form of nourishment right now.


Ila has moved seamlessly to a 2 nap schedule.  I knew it was time to drop the cat nap because her naps were being interrupted, but she was still tired after waking and about 20 minutes later she would go back to sleep.  Also, the third nap just seemed to be messing with her night sleep and first morning nap.  So … we dropped to a 2-3-4 schedule (loosely) and it has been working great.  Really it is more like a 2-2.5-4 hour schedule.  She hasn’t quite worked up to 3 hours at that second nap yet, but it won’t be long.  I imagine after this wonder week (ww37) she will be ready.

So at 8.5 months, her schedule looks like this:

  • 7am wake, bottle, solids
  • 9 down
  • 10:30 usually wakes, rest until 11
  • 11 up, lunch, bottle
  • 1 down for nap #2
  • 2:30-3 wake, solids, bottle
  • 5:30 dinner, bath
  • 6:30 bottle, bed
  • Asleep by 7pm


Ila is doing new things every day!  Since my lsat summary, she has started sitting up, scooting on her belly, rolling all over the place to get to things she wants, clapping, and signing.  She likes to roll around on the floor and is really trying to crawl; she is thiiiiiis close to crawling!  But honestly, with the move, and rent house, etc.  I am not a huge fan of her crawling too soon anyway!

She has started signing for milk and more.  I think she started signing for milk about a month ago, but I wasn’t 100% certain.  Then she began signing for more, and it was pretty obvious what she was wanting!  haha  The baby is covered with fat rolls and loves to eat, what can I say?

The other day at the rent house Ila was in the floor with Scout (the singing talking dog).  It was singing a song and she started DANCING.  It was possibly the cutest thing ever.  So now, she just bounces and dances when it plays music.

Ila is working on grasping small pieces of food, and while she can usually pick them up, she has a hard time getting them into her mouth.  She has also discovered throwing things .. including her water cup!  NOT FUN.  Ugh.  But our little Mister is so sweet and gets it for her every. single. time she “drops” it.  haha  He is helping create a monster.  =)

Big brother and sister adore her.  I mean … just smother her to death adore her.  Including Mister- she is his “sweet baby girl Ila.”  I love that he is (usually) so gentle and good with her.  And big sister is mama’s BIG helper.  She is also in love with Ila and is always teaching her new things (works on signing with her) and cheering her on!  Did I mention Charlie loves her, too?

8.5 month Baby Summary Update {ww37 and babywise schedule}

As far as the WW is going … there is some fussing at sleep time and all around weirdness going on, but in the nest 3 weeks that should end.  *whew*

That is all of Ila’s 8month update I think … I *love* this stage! (minus the wonder week!)

What is your favorite “baby stage?”

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