Homeschool Curriculum Choices Part III: P4/5 Broken Down {with Sonlight Booklist}

I am working on catching up with my Preschool/Sonlight curriculum series.

Here is a breakdown of what we are using this year for the lady; she was 4 in September.  We ended up starting in the summer before baby Ila was born, and are still trucking through.  This is Sonlight P4/5 materials with some supplements in Math, Bible, and Language Arts (we are not using SL LA because she is too far passed it developmentally, but not ready for the next level up).  My 2 year old son joins us for all the read alouds, and then he colors/plays while we school.

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Sonlight Read Alouds labeled and on the shelf

Preschool Choices Part III

Bible

Reading/Language Arts and Readiness Skills

  • All About Reading
  • Developing the Early Learner Books 1-4

Math

  • Singapore Math early bird
  • Saxon Math K (we will go at whatever pace she needs, doing a lesson or two a day) *edit* we are probably going to save this for 2015/2016 school year)

Read Alouds

Science

World Cultures/History and Geography

In addition to each of these books, we will expand on topics as the kids are interested.  We just began a new science book, “What’s Under the Sea,” and they LOVE it.  So we have been watching some youtube clips of octopi, coral reefs, whales/dolphins, and sunken ships.  We go at our own pace.  =)

I know, it looks like a lot for a barely 4 year old and a 2 year old.  Keep in mind this is spanned out over 36+ weeks.  And I am under no illusion that we will complete every single thing, or that what we do complete will be on “schedule.”  This is they first year I am not piecing a bunch of different things together, printing everything, and that I won’t be making our schedule myself *yay*

Our days are filled with lots of fun- playing outside, dancing, music, playing pretend, singing songs, building forts, etc.  We are just adding more great books, and conversations to our days!  Fun!

Our learning routine looks like this:

  • 4yo, 2yo, and I snuggle into the big chair to read SL books together
  • memory verse
  • AAR, sight word ring (10-30 mins)
  • Developing Early Learner pages (she loves these)
  • Handwriting Without Tears pages (this program has built her confidence drastically in writing and coloring!)
  • Math pages, math concepts with manipulatives

I alternate the days we do math and HWT, so Lexie isn’t sitting for long periods of time.

Even if you don’t choose to go with Sonlight, keep in mind they are known for their great book lists- and you can get most of them on Amazon or in used book stores.

See my other Sonlight posts here:

Tot Time {sorting by color} December 2014

The month of December we were going to take a short break from learning time, however- both kids are still begging to do it each day!  So I decided to use this month as a trial for including Max in our structured learning time.  Up to this point he has just been too destructive and too much of a distraction for Lexie.

Tot Time {sorting by color- Quiet In The Chaos}

Two Year Old Development

However, about 10-12 days ago, Max woke up a different child!  (Mister is 27 months old) He is suddenly (a bit more) obedient, more independent, talking in complete sentences, eating so neatly, dressing himself, and his melt downs have become non-existent. (YAY!)  During the time that Lexie is working on her school work, Max has been coloring, identifying letters, and sorting by color (his favorite) with us at the counter.  He loves being included, and this fits well with our ultimate goal of everyone learning together.

This is my FAVORITE stage!  He has started showing interest in a bit more structured learning (Lexie always showed interest so we have done it since she was tiny).  Of course everything is through play and we/they play all day because that is the most important way for them to learn.

One thing I will mention is that, as much as I wanted to, I have tried not to push him to do learning time with us; he just wasn’t ready.  And although it was hard for a few months during his really terrible two’s, OMG he has come out of that developmental leap ready to participate a bit!

Between Mister participating in learning time, and Ila stretching her wake time and feeding schedule, we have an ever evolving daily routine.  So for a quick run down, our new routine looks something like this:

  • 7am- daddy gets them up, eat breakfast, while mommy feeds Ila
  • 7:55/8am – Ila goes down for nap, mommy cleans kitchen from breakfast, does a few chores, everyone ready for the day, kids outside if weather permits
  • 8:45am- Sonlight readings for the day, Bible verse of the week, and discussion of any books we read.  Sometimes we watch a video about what we have read (for instance this week we watched a few youtube videos on octopi, coral reefs, and sunken ships on the ipad.  this is a treat, not a regular thing)
  • 9:30/9:45- learning time- this includes Lexie’s All About reading, practicing sight word ring, shapes ring, HWOT work, any copy work, and math practice.  We don’t do all these things every day.  Some days we just doodle, color, and talk!
  • 10:30- Max and Lexie to independent play/mommy feeds Ila
  • 11:30- Ila down, big two eat lunch, outside if weather permits
  • 12:15 Max down for nap
  • 12:30 Lexie down for nap
  • 1:30/2 Ila up to eat
  • 2:30/3pm Ila down for nap
  • 3:00-3:300 L and M up from nap, outside again if weather permits, if not we play and read
  • somewhere in here I prep dinner if I haven’t already
  • 4:30/5- Ila up and eats
  • 5:30/6- eat dinner; Ila back down for last nap of day (we are working on stretching to a 4 hour schedule, when we get there she will drop this nap and do a bit earlier bedtime.  Until then she usually needs to be held during this cat nap.  We don’t have the swing up or I would use it instead)
  • 6:40- L and M to bed
  • 7pm- Ila’s last feeding of the day, in bed by 7:40

And that is it for now.  Hopefully in the next 4-6 weeks Ila will have her 3.5hr feedings stretched to every 4 hours.  AAAAAH the 4 hour feeding schedule- YAY.  That is when things really get easier.  But for now, this is working out well for everyone.  I have a little bit of time right now while all the kids are down for nap that I can rest, blog, or sew.  =)

But, back to learning time- sometimes after we do our Sonlight readings for the day, we just sit at the table and talk while we all doodle and color.  During this time Lexie spells words, practices writing and drawing, Max identifies letters, shapes, and numbers that I write on his paper.  We also count, Max may go get a puzzle to work on, etc.  So we are learning but it is much less formal and just as important as the formal stuff we do.  This is a precious time, and I am so fired up about teaching them!

I am so excited about this time together!  It is so much fun watching Max grow and develop from a baby into a big boy toddler; and Lexie is just becoming a sweet, precious little lady, while Ila is becoming more alert every day.  We have so much fun.

**One more thing I want to add- I never thought Max’s terrible two’s would end.  It was truly hard, stressful, and I was learning to breathe my way through the day.  But IT DOES END.  And on the other side there is a happy, independent, clumsy, and sweet phase- that’s where we are.  Lexie never had terrible two’s (or at least they weren’t very hard if she did) so it was all new to me.  If you’re a new mama in the throws of tantrums and all that is the two’s, just continue to be consistent and steadfast because it does end; and when it does, all the time, effort, and discipline you have put in during the hard time pays off!

And it is so much fun!  So let the tot-time blog posts begin.

Weekly Wrap Up: July 11, 2014

The last week we have finally gotten back into a routine form our travels to AR and TN. We got all the hard stuff (unloading, unpacking, laundry, etc) done the afternoon we got home and madly did it pay off! We had the rest of that week to menu plan, get groceries, pay bills, and just get things back in order. The last thing we want to do is find payday loans in Texas, United States. However, if we have too, we will.

The following week we started back on our learning time routine. We did a quick review and a lot of playing. We have spent all morning, every morning, outside playing in the back yard, playing in the pool, eating apples, and playing with the dog. It has been wonderful!

Here are a few snaps I managed to take during this week:

Lexie found a picture of blocks in the back of her Highlights magazine and she wanted to build what they were building. I helped her with a few pieces- but I was amazed at how well she would perceive what they had done. Some of these were HARD!:

building blocks {Quiet In The Chaos}

We have read more books this summer than I think we did while stuck inside last winter. Mister has really become obsessed with reading books, and of course Bug wants to (read or) be read to all the time.

reading together {Quiet In The Chaos}

 

My children *love* to be outside- we spend most of our time outside when the weather permits. Lexie had a great idea when she wanted to combine their love for books with the great outdoors!

reading in their

 

Our sweet Charlie girl:

Charlie Our Springer Spaniel {Quiet In The Chaos}

Charlie Our Springer Spaniel- 11 months old, July 2014

 

As you know, we *love* the free and fun curriculum from This Reading Mama (we use it with our AAR). Here, Lexie is working on her new sight word, “me.”

Sight Word

The week wouldn’t be complete without baking something yummy. We made (whole wheat, NO refined sugar) chocolate muffins. Lexie just had to lick the spoon. =)chocolate muffins {Quiet In The Chaos}

Last week was a lot of fun- during all this fun, we also started potty training Max. I do have some SUPER cute pictures of that, but they’re probably not appropriate for the blog. haha

Monday the painter comes to paint Lexie’s room; then the kids will start sharing a room! *so scary* Just praying they get used to each other and sleep through the night fine. Lexie wakes up needing to potty and sometimes with night terrors, so that could be a problem. After Mister’s room (aka the nursery) the nursery is painted, I can begin decorating, organizing, and playing in the nursery. YAY! Eight More weeks until baaaby!

 

Beginning Sonlight P4/5 Part II: Homeschool Organization

I wanted to share how I organize my materials for our homeschool.  I thought about breaking this up into more than one post, but then it is already part of a series … so that would be a bit confusing.  Sorry it is rather long!

We live in the midwest, where everyone has a basement but we don’t yet have a bathroom or bedrooms down there, just a big play/living area.  Because of that, we do most of our schooling upstairs in the kitchen.  I keep all my extra supplies in the basement (like extra manipulatives, craft supplies, books by topic, etc) while we aren’t using them on a regular basis, but our everyday school materials are kept upstairs on the main living floor.

Ideally, I will one day have a “school room” where we have pretty shelves and all of our materials are organized in there- I would do our core instruction together in that room, and the kids can do work they need help with in there with me, and do independent work wherever they want-outside, their beds, a desk, etc.  But that won’t happen until there are bedrooms finished downstairs and I have an empty room upstairs.  =)

Until then, this is what we are doing:

Coffee Bar Storage-weekly binder, extras basket, weekly outline frame

In the kitchen I have a picture frame (I lined it with scrap book paper a few years ago) that I write our weekly lesson outline on- our poem, Bible verses, topics/themes, etc.  It hangs over our workboxes.  (The workboxes have been great for us, and help her feel independence about her learning time.  She feels a sense of accomplishment when she returns a completed activity to its box and moves the label from the left to the right side of the box.)  These are next to the coffee bar, which is mostly not used for coffee anymore .. haha.  Suddenly in this pregnancy I don’t like the taste of coffee!  Random, since a month ago I couldn’t live without it.  Anyhow, on top of the coffee bar sits my weekly planner binder and a few other resources; on the top shelf are some books, Lexie’s art tote, and our white basket with lots of extras- Max’s crayon’s, extra construction paper, etc.  The very bottom shelf of the coffee bar (not pictured) has two baskets that contain puzzles, foam ABCs, patterning blocks, etc.

Learning Time Organization {Quiet In The Chaos}

 

Below is what is inside the “extras tote”- mostly stuff for Max, and things I don’t want little hands on all the time.

extras box- Learning Time Organization {Quiet In The Chaos}

 

Workboxes

Here are our workboxes.  I purchased these on Amazon- all the awesome blog posts i found about workboxes use these pretty, colorful drawer units, also on Amazon (or JoAnn’s).  But the colorful ones are not as sturdy, and many homeschoolers complain they aren’t heavy enough to hold their books/supplies and the drawers fall out.  So I went with the white and black unit; so far find it perfect for what we need.  I really like that they come with a try on top for me to organize my supplies- like pens, highlighters, paper clips, a small hole punch.  Again, if we were in a room where I had a desk, those things would be elsewhere.  but for now it works great for us!

workboxes Learning Time Organization {Quiet In The Chaos}

 

Calendar/Circle Time Board

Then we have the other side of the coffee bar where I have made what I am calling our “spring/summer/fall” calendar board.  We have a wonderful calendar/circle time area downstairs (picture of that below as well) and we all LOVE it.  But during these days of beautiful, warm weather we like to get outside as soon as we can after waking; I am also anticipating the baby coming and I know for the first 4-6 weeks I won’t want to round everyone up to get downstairs.  So, I threw together some things we already had, a made a calendar routine area.  *My very dear friend Ginny gave me the idea and motivation forgetting this done!  So thank you, Ginny!*

The top frame is our calendar- it was hanging in our pantry as a menu planner, but I have since started using a paper system and this calendar board was unused.  I need to redo the calendar grid, as it is made for menus and wastes a lot of valuable space for a learning calendar. For now, it works!

Then the bottom board is a bulletin board we were using right where it is at- it held Lexie’s violin certificate, and daily routine chart.

Calendar Boards Learning Time Organization {Quiet In The Chaos}

Now the bulletin board holds our numbers chart, weather chart, character lesson printable, and an ABC chart for Max.  It is a work in progress, I still need to make and print the days of the week and months.  Also missing is our shape of the week ring- I have this really great printable set of shapes that I keep on a binder ring for us to focus on each week/biweekly.

You can find all the great printables for our calendar area at Delightful Learning , 1 plus 1 plus 1, Homeschool Creations, Sarah’s Sweeties, and Confessions of a Homeschooler (1), and 2.  I can’t wait to print her actual calendar pieces for our calendar, once I get our grid fixed up.

Calendar Boards Learning Time Organization {Quiet In The Chaos}

Downstairs learning/play areas

Downstairs we still have our learning and play areas.  I linked to my old post at the top of this page, but here are a few updated pictures:

Here is our calendar/circle time area downstairs.  The kids really like playing with this calendar, Lexie “teaches” Max.  =)  And we will probably use this a lot more when A) it is winter, and B) Baby #3 is taking morning naps and we need to be quiet and away from upstairs.

downstairs/calendar organization {Quiet in the Chaos}

——

(please ignore the workout equipment- Lexie also likes to do her “out-work.”  I didn’t clean up the basement as you will see.  It is just real life pics, friends!)

So here is one corner of the basement: our snuggle chair, Lexie’s little chair, my cabinet with out extra books organized by category, a filing cabinet with more books, and our milk crates for Max’s things.

downstairs/calendar organization {Quiet in the Chaos}

——-

My mom gave me some of these awesome magazine holders that we use for our books- I made labels and organized our books by category.  There are two shelves that look like this, and a shelf of craft supplies in small totes and labeled.

downstairs/calendar organization {Quiet in the Chaos}

——-

This is Mister’s favorite area.  There are small board books, musical books, the big books I made in college, and some fine motor toys he enjoys.  That filing cabinet houses TONS more books, really.  (this is what happens when your mom  is a 25 year school teacher- you inherit BOOKS!  How awesome is that?!)

downstairs/calendar organization {Quiet in the Chaos}

——-

Our other favorite area: the light table.  My husband built this for us a few months after we made the big move to Nebraska.  It is so fun- probably Max’s other favorite area in the basement.  They both love playing with the Magna-Tiles; those are a constant in our home.

downstairs/calendar organization {Quiet in the Chaos}

——-

Then I have our Sonlight bookshelf- This is part of our very large entertainment center in the living room.  Because we use these as part of our learning time, and I don’t want them getting scattered about the house, I leave them up high.  Each morning I just grab the books we need for our read alouds that day and we go from there.  (I will have a third post about how we use and organize just our curriculum.)

Sonlight Book Shelf {Quiet In The Chaos}

 

 

 

 

That is pretty much it!  Nothing special, just how I have things arranged (for now).  I am always changing things, but for the last month this has worked great for us, so I don’t see changing it anytime soon.  =)

 

We Choose Virtues {a review}


We Choose Virtues Review

 I have mentioned before how much we enjoy character lessons in our home, so when we had a chance to review a set of Parenting Cards ($38.49) by We Choose Virtues.  The parenting cards are a wonderful resource for any family wanting to implement character lessons in the home, and are best used with children ages 3-18.  (I reviewed the NIrV of the parenting cards- this version includes both Old and New Testament verses.  The NKJV only has Old Testament verses.)

Each set of cards teaches the same virtues:

  • diligence
  • helpfulness
  • perseverance
  • gentleness
  • contentment
  • attentiveness
  • honesty
  • kindness
  • self-control
  • patience
  • obedience
  • forgiveness

How We Used The Parenting Cards

We enjoy character lessons, and integrating them into our conversations through out the day- everywhere from reading Bible stories to our own behaviors- Lexie really likes to point out which character traits/virtues we should be working on and when.  =)

Implementing these cards into our homeschool was very natural for us.  You can teach the virtues in any order you’d like.  As you may have read we are using Sonlight for our core curriculum.  Each week of our SL lessons includes a character/virtue topic with a matching Bible verse; I thought this would be a perfect way to add in our We Choose Virtues cards.  I simply organized the cards in alphabetical order for easy navigation, and choose the card that is most closely related to our topic in the SL.  Some weeks we had perfectly matched character traits (obedience, attentiveness, diligence, and kindness to name a few), and some weeks we just had to choose what was most closely related to our topic.  I loved doing it this way.

So after I chose which card we would focus on that week, I quickly looked it over.  The front of the card tells you which character trait you are focusing on, has a really cute catch phrase for what the trait means, then it also explains what that character trait does not look like (which is a great reminded for little ones!).  At the bottom there is a Bible verse that goes with the trait.  You can see an example below:

We Choose Virtues Parenting Cards {Quiet In The Chaos}

The back of the cards is where any “teacher notes” can be found.  Here you will see a “User Challenge” section that give your family a challenge for the character trait, such as doing kind things for others without them knowing (on the Kindness card).  It has a reminder of what the trait looks like coming from the parent, so for instance, “kindness is best taught by passion and lead by example.”  There is a “Teachable Moments ….” section that gives you things to think about, topics to discuss with the family, and activities to enrich your lessons.  At the very bottom on the back of each card, there is a “Kids of Virtueville” section that has the name of a character that goes along with the card to help children remember that particular card.  We didn’t focus very much on the characters themselves, but we did read their little story and discuss the question included.

We Choose Virtue Parenting Cards- backs

What We Thought

I truly love using these cards in our home!  I posted ours up on my weekly board in the kitchen, where I write down what we are studying (so I have everything handy for us talk about throughout the day).  This was a perfect spot, because every time bug looked up and saw it from the table, she wanted to discuss it!

I like that each cards says, “I am … ” Kind, Obedient, etc.  It is positive reinforcement that they already have these characteristics.  Then the “I am NOT …” tells what the trait is not and reminds us what behaviors we should avoid.  These cards are meant for the whole family- and I love that!  Because can’t we all use some character lessons sometimes?  (I certainly can!)

The cards themselves are made of a great quality cardboard material, so they are very sturdy.  If you have a laminator, which many of us homeschooler do, they would be easy to laminate, though not necessary.  They are 8.5 x 5.5 cards, which means they are nice a BIG, but not too big.  The illustrations and words are big and bright enough to help make them stand out.

We also received the We Choose Virtues Download Bundle; this bundle is $7.99 by itself, but is free when you purchase the Homeschool Kit.  The bundle includes extras to go along with your cards:

  • Teacher’s Handbook
  • Family Character Assessment
  • Coloring Pages
  • Butterfly Awards
  • Sing along song sheets

These were fun and easy to incorporate into our lessons- the teacher’s handbook has tons of helpful information and activities to include.  I did the character assessment for Lexie, but really she is a little young to understand the concept- however, she can understand the concept of improving, so that is what we focused on.  The coloring pages are of the characters that are mentioned on the cards; we didn’t do these with the lessons, but just for fun when she wanted to do some coloring (she really doesn’t like to color very much ..)  We have not used the butterfly awards yet, but this will be a huge hit!  And the sing a long sheets are fun!

Quiet In The Chaos: WCV Cards

 

****And for the month of June, use Promo Code BIG50 for 50% off WCV’s amazing set of 12 11×17 Kids of VirtueVille Posters!  Then, from June through August, use Promo Code BTS20 for 20% off anything in our WCV Store. This includes any kit. Let’s start School with Virtues this year!  (*Only one promo code per order)

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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!

 

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!

Homeschool Preschool

Lexie and I have so much fun playing and learning.  As you can probably tell from my posts about our typical day, we just use everyday life for learning; reading, crafts, playing outside, outings to the library, park, museum, etc make up our learning experiences.  After the move, Lexie will be 2.5, and she is so advanced in so many areas already, I feel like maybe we could start doing more in-depth conversations about the books we read, add more structure to some of our days, more sustenance … Basically add a little more intention to how we spend our time at home.  Obviously I am not going to fill every minute of our days with stuff to do- after all, just playing is how young children learn anyway.  But I think this spring and summer we are going to do Before Five in a Row.  

Five in a Row is a small, traditional learning platform (I wont call it a curriculum, because it isn’t) that uses great, classic children’s literature for teaching children ages 5+.  It includes books like “Corduroy,” “The Carrot Seed,” and “Make Way for Ducklings.”  Each story is read for 5days and you discuss a different part of the book each day, and do a learning activity (if you want to).  The BEFORE Five in a Row (or BFIAR as it is shortened), is the same thing, with books for younger learners; both platforms include daily Bible study along with the story activities.  Here is the description from their site:

“Dedicated to protecting and nurturing the early years of childhood, Before Five in a Row opens up the world of learning through great books and creative play, and builds a solid foundation for more formal education to come.”

  It is just a great, informal way to start introducing preschool or school in general.  Although I am not sure I believe in “preschool” as it is today, I know my Lexie; I know she thrives on learning and loves reading.  Sometimes we read the same book 7 times in a row until she is satisfied she has seen everything in every picture and has asked as many questions as she can.  She just loves to learn; not all children are this way, and I am sure not all of mine will be.  But she is, so I want to encourage her love of learning and help it flourish.

I could very easily choose my own books, my own Bible verses that go with the story’s “lesson” or theme, and find my own activities to do with them …. But this requires a lot of planning and is rather time consuming.  For $35 I can buy the BFIAR book with the ideas in it, and then enrich it with our own touch.  We already have a lot of the books on the list (there are 24, but one is out of print, though I am sure we can find it used somewhere) and what we don’t have I will find on amazon used or borrow from the library if we have to.  I’d like to buy them all, so we have a good collection of classic literature to always go to on our shelf; plus we can use it with each child.  I also plan to create a lapbooking journal for each book.  Lapbooking is a whole other topic in itself, but it is basically a project based way to “assess.”  Really, you just use a file folder to glue, write and keep together all your activities for whatever topic you are learning about.  Since she is a little young for that, we will keep a binder as a “journal” or portfolio, to put all the activities.  It will also act as a memory book.  The best thing is, the children can go back through it and recall what we did and what they learned.  As a teacher, I know this is a very important part of literacy and education.  Plus, Lexie Raye will love that!

After we do BFIAR this summer, and probably through to Christmas since it will take about 6 months to complete, I would really like to do Son Light P3/4.  It is a bit more expensive at $200+, and is very similar to BFIAR.  The difference is it is a little more intense.  I really think she will enjoy it; many mamas that homeschool for preschool use both BFIAR and SonLight together.  Sonlight is $269 if you get the included story books on their list, but we have some of them, and with some serious planning ahead, we can get all the books used.  Then I will only need to get the instructors guide; it isn’t very expensive.

I have been reading and researching preschool stuff since lexie was born ;). J.Tom and I have always known that if circumstances provided, we wanted to homeschool for preschool, and beyond if we are able. I will do an entire series on reasons why, because the reasons are too numerous to list or discuss in one little paragraph here.  But we believe we can give our children a Christ and family centered education, that is much more rich than any public school can.  Education simply is not what it used to be; an older, wiser homeschooling couple made a very valid point: you send your children off to school, to be raised by someone else for 8+hours a day, submerged in a sea children that don’t share the same family values as you.  Then you get them back 18 years later and winder, “what happened to my child?”  For so long children were raised at home, with their mothers who also taught them.  The family was a unit and we did not depend on the government or anyone else to raise out children and teach them all they need to know.  Honestly, I know where education is, and where it is going and I don’t want my children in it.  We want them at home, and with other families who feel the same way.  It doesn’t mean we shelter them from the world and all it’s ugliness; on the contrary. it means we teach them everything we can about the world and how to be Godly in it.  It means WE get to do it as a family, in God’s way.  It is something that we have a lot of prayer invested in, and will continue to do so, because who knows right now where we will be or what we will be doing.  OK!  Anyway, I will stop here on this topic before I get too far off track.  I will do another post about that later.  🙂

Back to preschool.  Sonlight is supposed to be a great program that is a little more like a curriculum, and is more intense that BFIAR.  After that she will be turning 4 and I’m not sure what we will do.  If we love SonLight, we may do their P4/5 program.  If not, we will try something else.  But at least by then we will know a little more about her style and how she likes to learn.

I am looking forward to it because I think it will be fun for her.  If she weren’t showing interest like she is, I wouldn’t even consider it yet.  I think it will be a great way to build on what we already do; and it may actually not even be as much as we already do on our own … but for $35 we will find out.  =)

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