Top Educational Toys for Toddlers-PreK

*original post May 2013, updated*

I am a teacher by trade, and a mama by … everything else.  =)  My husband and I try to keep educational/classic toys and books in our home, avoiding twaddle, and “junk” toys.

A fellow homeschooling (and dear) friend, and a few other readers have asked me what we use for toys in our house (I think my reputation for a toy nazi must precede me?!).  So I thought I would make an easy list of educational and fun learning toys that we enjoy or wish we had to enjoy.

These have really been a blessing in our home and homeschool- I know that seems ridiculous to say about “toys,” things that are material.  But they have really helped Lexie learn so much, often times on her own, or through questioning me.  Many things were gifts or bought with gift money from family and friends.  We are very grateful for their love and support.

This is a list that excludes puzzles, books, baby dolls, and toy trucks, etc-the general toys kids have aren’t on here.  I will do another post on those recommendations.  But I don’t think you would generally find many of these items in most homes.

These are not in a particular order, except the first one.  All the others Lexie plays with equally as much or in conjunction with the Magna Tiles.  haha

1. Magna Tiles!  You probably saw my post.  They are an investment … I know; I was nervous clicking the checkout button.  BUT, they’re amazing learning fun!  Last time I talked about them on here (the light table post) I wasn’t kidding about grabbing them for $120 with free shipping and the free book promotion.  That is no longer available, two weeks later.  I scoped theses things out for weeks to get that deal; but it sells out quickly.
2. Sorting bears– she loves them.  And they are great for her to play with during independent play.  They are good for learning and imaginative play-this set comes in 3 different sizes.  We read the three bears and then I introduced them.  She plays with them several days a week (if you get them, be sure to get the set with 3 sizes like the one in the link)
3. These basic pattern blocks get used ALL the time, for all different things.  They also make the pattern block cards that go with them, to use for more instruction type learning/play.  My younger children love using the pattern block cards independently while I school with my olders.
4. Unifix Cubes, or some sort of snapping cube.  Unifix cubes are great for building, sorting, counting, and learning about number sense, etc.  They’re a great math manipulative!  I linked to the 500 count set because 100 isn’t really enough.  When you get into complicated math down the road (multiplication, division, fractions) you will need more than 100 to compare amounts, makes graphs, etc.  So I’d suggest the larger set if you are able  (Especially if you will have more than one child using them at a time)
5. This letter construction set is Ah-MAZING.  I think I paid $25 w shipping (we have amazon prime, it’s worth it just for the shipping on Christmas gifts for family, alone!)  The set is a little more now.  The set is very strong, the pieces are big and wide so they’re easy for little hands to manipulate, and it’s fun.
This wasn’t a toy Lexie just jumped into- I let her explore with them first, then when she asked, I showed her what they were really for.  Now, a few years later, all of my children enjoy this set.
6. The Thomas Wooden Railway.  She loves it and uses it all the time.  We got the wooden one, and the wooden trains to go with it (we only have a few, but she seems happy with that for now).  I thought she would get frustrated with it, because the tracks have to be put together a certain way, unless you have enough track pieces then it doesn’t matter.  But she doesn’t.  She just pretends, takes it apart, can almost get it back together correctly… but often she plays with the trains without the tracks. **All 4 children now enjoy this train set, playing with the train tracks, and the trains. One of the first sounds baby #4 learned was “choo choo”
7. this shape sorter wooden clock by Melissa and Doug.  I know- it looks simple but it has seriously been on her table in the living room for over a year, and she plays with it almost daily.  We have used it for numbers, colors, and shapes.
8. Lexie learned her letters and letter sounds with foam bath letters and numbers like these (they were a gift for her first bday, I have no clue what brand ours are.  But they are a nice thick foam made for the bath tub, though they’ve never been in the tub…)
She lines them up, sorts them by color, stands them up (that takes some time and focus!) She still plays with them regularly.  They are one of the toys I don’t really rotate out. Our set came with numbers as well.  This is also how she learned her numbers.  I would just point to the letter/number and tell her its name and the sound it made.  Sometimes the most simple things are so great for learning! She has done the same with her younger siblings, teaching them on her own.
9. A small dry erase board and dry erase markers– my mom brought one for the trip from Memphis to NE when we moved.  Bug really likes it, but it isn’t something I let her have all the time (we are learning not to bang the marker on the board….)  The board is a small 12 x 12 board, great for playing, and learning to write.  The one linked has both a lined side, and a blank side; so as children develop their writing skills they can use the lined side.  We enjoy ours so far!
10. Her doll house– it is the fisher price loving family dollhouse, I had when I was a kid.  She plays with it all the time, and we play with it together.
11. water beads– you may have seen my post.  Cheap and fun (and they come in colors, too)!  They aren’t something we do every day, or even every week.  But Lexie LOVES them!  I think we may cover them in shaving cream for some extra sensory fun in the next few days.
12. Magnets– So much fun, so much learning and exploring.

13. Lacing cards– we have a few different sets of these from friends and family.  My kids use them often, they are something fun to do together as well.  They pretend to sew, knit, and crochet like mama.  Great for fine motor, critical thinking, and hand eye coordination.

14. Melissa and Doug Buckets– we have a few different versions of these- they are all VERY well loved, and have held up so to much abuse play. Living on a farm, outside toys like buckets get used on an almost daily basis and these have no disappointed! This is one toy that we can’t really have too many of.

15. ABC Bean Bags– I cannot count the ways we use these bean bags! One way, is by throwing them into those buckets I posted above. These have been so much fun for all ages in our home (7 down to baby). We toss, stack, count, hide, and tote around these bean bags daily. We also like our shapes bean bags and I plan to get the number bean bags eventually.

So, there are my top toys for toddlers through PreK children.  Of course always supervise your young children with any toy.

*This post contains affiliate links.  Thank you for supporting my site!  I was not paid or compensated in anyway for these opinions; they are my own.

The Resolution {from a 6 year old}

The Resolution

Today, we were working in our Sonlight Language Arts, grade 2, for my oldest’s language arts.  The lesson was about the major parts of a story- plot, setting, characters, conflict, and resolution.  We talked about how all stories, from all cultures and parts of history, have each of these elements.

As her assignment, Lexie was to choose a Bible story and go through the elements of the story.

I asked her if we needed to grab the Bible for her to choose a story, and she promptly informed me that she had her story already in mind-

Adam and Eve.

So I asked her, what was the plot? She responded with the obvious, “Adam and Eve turned away from God when they listened to the serpent, or Satan, instead of God.”

The setting, she said, was the Garden of Eden.

The characters were Adam, Eve, Satan, and God.

The conflict she said, was when Adam and Eve chose to listen to Satan, hide from God, and were then sent away from the Garden. <—now mind you, most people would have said that the resolution was God sending them away.

So I asked her, then what was the resolution?

She replied, “God sent Jesus.”

That’s it, y’all.

God sent Jesus.

There’s the resolution to it all.

Every tear, every doubt, every suffering we experience. Every time we battle the desires of the flesh, every time the enemy is on our backs or working actively on our family; for every single lie we believe because we are human and not perfect,

there is Jesus.

And He bears it all. He gives us grace to make new our mistakes, He hears us when we need a quiet moment before we lose our minds in the chaos of our home.  He resolved it all. His death brings meaning to everything we endure here, because we know This. Isn’t. It.  We cannot even imagine what He went through, so that we don’t have to endure everything on our own.

No matter how unbearable, how lonely, how sickly or fallen life is here, God has taken care of all that.

The resolution, is Jesus.

And thank you, Sonlight.

PS- Yes I know the resolution to the small story of Adam and Eve was probably God making them leaving the garden; but the resolution to the *whole* story, is definitely Jesus.


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!

Learning Latin with Memoria Press & Prima Latina {a review}

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I’ve wanted a gentle and simple way to introduce latin in our homeschool, but it wasn’t until having a chance to review Prima Latina Complete Set by Memoria Press that I really became excited about it!

We have been using Prima Latina a few times a week for several weeks now, and we have loved it.  Memoria Press offers classical Christian education and homeschooling programs at every level, and they *never* disappoint!  Prima Latina has been no exception.

What it is

Memoria Press’s Prima Latina is a gentle approach to learning latin for early elementary/beginner students. We have learned latin words and their definitions, derivatives in the english language, and are learning a prayer (but there is even more great lessons to be learned).

The Prima Latina Complete Set includes:

  • The Basic Set
    • 25 lessons, each including grammar lessons appropriate for primary grades
    • 5 vocabulary words with corresponding English derivatives per lesson
    • A practical Latin phrase per lesson
    • One line of a prayer per lesson that is learned in totality over 5 lessons
    • Easy-to-read, 2-color format
  • Flashcards
    • Vocabulary with derivatives
    • Latin sayings
    • Conjugations & Declensions
  • DVDs
    • 3 discs, 9 hours (15-20 min./lesson)
    • Comprehensive teaching by Leigh Lowe (<–she is SO great, fun, and easy to listen to!)
    • Recitation & review, vocabulary practice, and explanation of derivatives
    • On-screen notes, diagrams, & examples
    • Self-instructive format

Prima Latina Complete Set

Because my oldest student is so young, we have been moving very slowly, and repeat lessons at least once before moving on.  My daughter doesn’t mind this and I think it helps us both with retention, because of our learning styles.

We have enjoyed the student text, flashcards, and smooth, gentle lessons immensely, but …

The video lessons are the icing on the cake!  The lessons are so gentle and move at a perfect pace; we do re-watch lessons a few times because it just helps us learn.  But because my daughter is an independent reader, she is able to read the student book (to be used with one student) on her own, and complete the pages independently after doing the DVD lesson.  I don’t have to teach anything!  I can just relax and listen along.

Prima Latina Review {memoria press}

The pages in the student text aren’t workbook style, at least not the way I think of workbooks.  It is more like a note booking style, in my opinion.  There are lesson “notes” on one page, and then simple questions like writing definitions and answering questions from the video lesson.  Lexie enjoys reading the lesson in her book, and looking back at her work, reading the prayer, etc. so we think of it more as her latin journal.

We are currently learning the first prayer together; she really enjoys saying oremus before each prayer at meals and bedtime.  My 4 year old also enjoys learning the vocabulary, which he has picked up on from his big sister using it in our home. When I ask my daughter some review questions, Mister can almost always answer them on his own. haha.

I made a simple chart with the words that we keep up on the dry erase board with magnets; this way we can review throughout the week when we aren’t “doing” school, since we school at the table & put everything away when we are done in the mornings.  We review words and prayers at the dinner table with Daddy many nights of the week.

Here is a Prima Latina Sample DVD Lesson from Brian Lowe on Vimeo.

Summary of What We Think About Prima Latina

We have really enjoyed this program!  I like that we can go at our own pace (which is pretty slow!  haha), can review lessons as many times as we need to, and I don’t have to teach anything! I can put the DVD in my computer, and play it for my daughter to watch, while I listen and work right there in the kitchen.  My son picks up on what he hears in the lessons, and that is always a bonus.

If you don’t know the benefits of learning latin, I will let you do the research there. =)  I took latin in my homeschool during high school; I do remember the derivatives and that latin helped me greatly when writing papers, while taking my ACT, and when I was taking college courses.  Because so many languages derive from latin, it is an easy way to transition into learning other foreign languages! (which we also want to do!)

There are other program by Memoria Press, for other grade levels:

You can see reviews on these program by clicking on the banner at the bottom of this post.

This is a great latin program for anyone wanting to introduce latin at a young age while learning the basics of english grammar, or families wanting to lay a strong foundation in latin for an extremely thorough language arts program later.

For us, this is definitely a great fit!  We will continue our slow progression through the program, so we can enjoy it and apply what we are learning (and YES- I am learning with my kids).

 Connect With Memoria Press


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Weekly Wrap Up {homeschool update} with Baby #4 Summary

So, how goes being a mama of 4, 6 years old and under?  It is going really great!

Weekly Wrap Up {end of november}

We have fallen into our groove with routines, baby is sleeping great *most* days for her naps, which helps with our learning time as a family.  The kids are enjoying their school time; we have finally gotten pretty comfortable with Mister doing more activities while I teach Lexie.  Ila walks around with her ABC flash cards (I laminated them and put on a ring for her) during most of learning time. She likes to come sit in my lap through out the morning and “read” to me.  =)

Lexie (6 years old)

The Lady is just flying through everything I give her or introduce her to.  She enjoys reading; we are still going over the rules as we work through All About Reading, because I don’t want her to have gaps down the road.  However, she is reading on a 4-6th grade level.  Next we are going to start working to build her vocabulary, because when reading at a higher level, she is coming across many words she doesn’t know yet.

She is learning her math facts in math and really enjoys challenging herself with those.  She does her math sheets independently and we do calendar most days (sometimes I just forget ..).  Whenever we do hands on math with manipulatives Max likes to join in.  He can do math on her level, but his writing skills aren’t there yet so we don’t focus on a math curriculum at all for him- just hands on fun! (like it should be).

We have started using the CD that came with our science (Apologia’s Astronomy 2nd Edition)- that way I don’t have to read, but I can listen along and pause it to go more in depth or explain something a little better.  The kids follow along in the book, and then Lexie does the science journal.

Handwriting and math are part of her “clip board work,” that she does independently; I check over these after she has completed them to be sure she did her best, or understood everything.  She loves watching herself improve, and I enjoy the discipline she is learning in completing her work on her own.


Max (4 years old)

Mister is just reading like crazy.  He does not like to read formally, off a piece of paper yet. He likes me to write words on the board for him to read, and I am 100% okay with that!  He is only 4, after all.

He is working through Reading the Alphabet by I used that with Lexie and she *loved* it, so he is enjoying it now.  Each week we go on to a new letter/site word.  His favorite activities are the mazes (he is constantly asking me to find mazes for him to do), and he enjoys syllable counting.  Max is also very interested in counting to 100 .. every. single. day.  Which is great so I go with it; he likes to get out his number chart for that (check our Rainbow Resources for those!).

PS, K Weekly Wrap Up {end of november}

Mister is still obsessed with puzzles and anything he can do with his hands.  We try to make sure he gets plenty of movement, hands on learning, and has lots of play time so he continues to grow a love for learning.

Ila (2 years old)

Ila is tagging along with us in everything we do.  Right now she enjoys puzzles, dolls, coloring, and practicing her letter sounds.  She doesn’t actually know the letters that correspond with the sound, but she likes to try and I like encouraging her.  She is going to follow Lexie in her eagerness to learn and read, I think.

PS, K Weekly Wrap Up {end of november}

Our Routine For Now {baby #4 is 4 months old}

  • 7am baby up, nurse
  • 7:15-7:20ish I get Max up for mama and baby time while I give baby a bottle
  • Mister gets “the sisters” up =)
  • I cook breakfast, baby hangs out in bumbo or bouncer, older 3 do morning chores/get ready for day
  • everyone eats breakfast and we do our morning basket “stuff”
  • 8:25 baby down for nap
  • all 3 bigger kids go outside or downstairs to play until 9am
  • 9am we begin school
  • 10:30- it is time to get baby up and fed.  We are usually done with school by this point, Lexie may have some clipboard work to finish on her own for the rest of the week
  • 11:15 everyone has lunch
  • 12:00 baby takes nap, then I put Ila down for nap, bigs go outside to play
  • 12:45 Mister goes down for nap, Lexie has rest time reading books, mama writes blog posts, does chores, or rests
  • 2:00 time to get baby up for feeding- Lexie usually comes in to spend time with me and baby
  • 3:00 everyone up from naps, outside or downstairs to play or we run errands
  • 3:30 baby down for last nap, I prep dinner if not yet done
  • 5:00 Baby up, nurse
  • 5:30 everyone eats dinner, baby gets solids
  • bath, wind down, sometimes we watch a show like Mister Rogers, Bob the Builder, Boxcar Children, etc
  • 6:30 baby gets bottle and goes right to bed
  • 7:00 everyone in bed, unless Mister napped good then he and Lexie get to stay up a little later (but they’re always ready for bed-that’s what happens when you spend most of your day running around a farm!)
  • Mama and Daddy time- this is my favorite part about keeping a good routine while our kids are young~I get 1:1 time with my husband and we can unwind from our days together without little people needing us non stop.  It’s nice!

Not everything is set to a specific time, but naps and feedings are.  Everything else works around that, and just sort of falls into place; it is simple and flows well because I don’t have to force anything.

Coralie {4 months old}

Baby #4- wow.  She is already 4 months old (19 weeks) and SO happy.  The best thing I could have ever done for this baby is getting a good sleep schedule down- without it she would still be crying, fussy, unhappy, and unpredicatable.

Because of her eating and sleep routines I am able to pinpoint what she needs, she rarely cries (and if she does it is because something is wrong), and she sleeps very well as long as I hit her wake time right (too short results in a short nap, too long results in crying).


But the BEST part of her routine-she went from HATING going to sleep in her crib, to *loving* it.  Before about 15 weeks old, she cried every time I laid her down on the changing table to put on her sleep blanket (we use THIS ONE).  Now, the girl is happy, kicking, and ready to go to bed as soon as I zip her up!  We talks and babbles while I sing Jesus Loves Me, sucks/gnaws on her hand (teething), and when I lay her down she goes to sleep within 20 minutes.  Sometimes she fusses after talking for a bit, but never cries for me to get her.  IF she is crying-crying, I will go rub some oil on her gums or try to burp her and then lay her back down.  Then she usually drifts off to sleep.

She is still a very social girl, loves talking and playing.  She got a jumper from her grandparents for Christmas, which I had to let her play in early because A) babies outgrow things fast and it seemed silly to waste a whole month of having it but not using it and B) she is all about kicking these days.  She loves it.  This way she can see everyone and know what is going on, which is right up her alley.

She is eating every 3.5 hours, her wake time is anywhere from 85-95 minutes (lengthens as we go through the day), and she is experimenting with solids.  We have done soft boiled egg yolk, green beans, squash, carrots, and peaches.  She devoured all of them, and stares at us while we eat.  I think she is ready for more in her day, but honestly I am not ready to have to tote around baby food, spoons, bibs, etc every time we leave the house.  I already have to pack formula and hot water, so Im good for now.  I am going to try to get by without daytime solids until 6+ months.  She is only having them at our dinner time (5:30) now.

That is pretty much it for our weekly wrap up and summary.  We are just trucking through everything, enjoying it as we go.


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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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2014/2015 End of Year Homeschool Overview {Pre-K and Preschool}

curriculum choice 2014/2015 Sonlight

{6/21/2015-we are now done with Sonlight P4/5- yay! I am still unsure of when we will begin 2015/2016 school year}

In the past few weeks we have been finishing up our 2014/2015 school year.  We really have a few days left of reading from Sonlight P4/5, but we are traveling at the moment, and I chose not to bring the books.  So we will finish when we get back home.

But, here is what we have been doing in the last few weeks.

Lexie (4.5yo) Pre-K year:

Lexie has been finishing Sonlight’s P4/5 core (Bible, history, geography/other cultures); we have loved the bible in this core, and may sub it in next year, through Core A.  (or use it for little brother).

In math she has been working through the last of our Singapore Early Bird books.  Honestly, this has taken what seems like FOREVER because I haven’t stuck with it as much.  She can do everything in the books, but doing the assignments is good practice.  In between working through the pages, we have done hands on math using manipulatives like: blocks, counting bears, unifix cubes, and

She has been working on recreating and expanding patterns on paper and using manipulatives, skip counting (which she LOVES to do), and counting backwards.   She is now seeing patterns in everything we do, and everywhere we go, which is fun!

In science we have learned about and discussed the types of animals and what attributes make them mammals, amphibians, reptiles, bird, insects, etc.  Lexie lap booked the frog lifecycle and really enjoyed that.  We have also learned about the seasons and a bit about outer space and the planets.  Obviously none of this was very in-depth (she is 4.5, after all).  But it was all interest led by her and Max.  We used our online science program, Digital Science Online and books to read about and better understand these topics.

In reading, language arts, and handwriting Lexie has been breezing through All About Reading Level 1 and HWOT pre-writing.  We are still working through AAR; some lessons are longer and while Lexie’s ability to read is fairly advanced, her ability to sit through an incredibly long lesson isn’t there. As in most children, her abilities and development in other areas don’t all match up perfectly (hence HOMESCHOOLING bliss!).  So we still have about 10 lessons in AAR to get through.  We are going slowly to keep her confidence up and she loves it!  I hope to finish AAR Level 1 over summer, before we actually begin Core A for the next school year.

HWOT has been great!  I think we are pretty much done with needing the pre-reading level. She is ready to move on; we will use the K level for this coming school year.  Honestly, I am not sure how long we will stick with HWOT.  It has been great for her because her confidence while holding a pencil or crayon was terrible, and now she LOVES writing and drawing of all kinds.  But I am not sure how the methods will work for creating pretty, neat, legible handwriting.  (I hate my handwriting, and wish someone had made me write neater growing up.  So I hope to help encourage her neat handwriting.)  There are a few other programs out there, and after we do the K book, she should developmentally be ready for something a bit more thorough and strict.  We will use HWOT for Mister when he is ready to learn writing; I do believe it is a GREAT beginning program for little ones that need a bit of direction and encouragement.  But again, not sure how I will feel as they get older and need better handwriting.

Max (2.5yo) Preschool:

Mister has been learning to identify his letters.  He knows them now, but his first reaction when asked about a letter? … “I don’t know!” But he does in fact know …  So, again development and personality play a huge part in that.  =)  We are working on identifying his lower case letters, and he does pretty well with that also.  We will be using our book, S is for Smiling Sunrise, to help with that task (read more about that HERE) through next year.

He is still working on identifying his numbers (he knows a few), has grasped and enjoys counting with 1:1 correspondence, counting past 20, counting backwards, and sorting.  He loves to sort by size, color, etc. especially when we play with the counting/sorting bears

For science he has just tagged along with us through the year, focusing mainly on weather, seasons and animals for him.  He likes just about anything that involves him getting attention or touching things!  Typical 2 year old male.  😉

I went ahead and got Mister the AAR Pre Reading Level for next year.  I hope to do a quick lesson with him first thing each day, while Lexie does independent work, so maybe he won’t “need” me as much during her big girl school.  It will be fun for both of us, and encourage his love of learning and reading.

Recently I started back to our circle time routine.  I had taken a break from it after Ila was born, simply because I didn’t have time with nursing & pumping every two hours and I was worn out.  Max also wasn’t very interested in it before now.  Since we have started back he *loves* circle time, singing the songs, and absorbs everything we are doing.  It also helps get some of his wiggles out before we start reading our core books and learning time, which means he is less of a detraction and more cooperative!  *score*

We are also working through his Before Five in A Row, and will continue that through next year.  When that is complete he will just do literature based unit studies that go with whatever topics we are discussing in Core A, until I can decide who will team up with whom for school.

Developmentally and maturity wise, Mister is not where Lexie was at almost 3 years old.  And that is okay!  Some days it is hard, because he is all up in the terrible two’s and Lexie’s were never like this, but he is fun, active, and has a HUGE imagination.  I in no way want to discourage that or put that out by pushing him into academics too soon.  He loves to just run around, dancing and singing or playing with his trucks and tractors.

We will technically homeschool year-round with several breaks throughout; this will allow us to take off when we have illnesses, spring fever, or mama just needs a break.  We will take a few weeks off in the summer from full blown school hours; but we will continue some activities many days of the week just so we have some focus in our home during the day.  Being at home with no routine just in the last few weeks has driven ALL OF US crazy; the kids are begging for school every day, and J.Tom and I are definitely feeling the difference in their attention and behavior with no real structure. 

I will do another post on our hours/weeks of school and breaks.  Since we are in the process of moving to KS (again, love homeschooling because we can start/finish/continue/break when we need to!), I have not yet figured up our number of required hours per day and all that. 

2015/2016 will be my trial year for record keeping, so I will update you on all that soon!

Through all this year, I have reminded myself that BOTH of the older kids are still little.  They are young, and while they love school and learning, play & reading books are still the most important things!  We will end this year on a great note, play and learn all summer long, and pick back up right where we left off in the fall!

How has your homeschool year gone?  Are you ready for a break?

Charlotte Mason Handicrafts for the young {finger knitting}

Our homeschool is a mix of the Charlotte Mason and Classical Education models.  Charlotte Mason is a literature rich, and gentle method of learning; she recommends school aged (or as they show interest and ability without frustration) children complete 3 handicraft projects per year.

My daughter loves to watch (and join) me while I sew, embroider, cut fabric, paint, construct DIY projects, etc.  This past winter while I was knitting, she asked if she could learn.  Knitting is simple enough, but using the needles with 4 year-old dexterity is the tricky part.  We did work on it together, and she did a great job, but it isn’t something she is quite ready to do alone.

Lexie is 4.5 and as I mentioned, has always shown interest in my personal crafts.  She has reached an aged where her dexterity is getting better, and she is ready to try some handicraft projects (which she loves!) she can enjoy by herself and/or with assistance.

While reading over the Simply Charlotte Mason website a while back, I printed off their list of handiworks recommended and finger knitting caught my eye.  So I youtubed how to do it. This past Saturday while snuggling during the babies’ naps, Lexie asked if she could knit.  I immediately thought of the finger knitting method, and how that would probably be a great foundation for future knitting; not to mention it would build her confidence.

So we grabbed some yarn from my yarn bag and went to work.  I turned on the youtube video I’d watched before and Lexie was so excited to learn!  I think she did a great job.  She told her daddy, “I am so, so proud of myself for learning to knit all by myself!”

Charlotte Mason Handicrafts {finger knitting}


Here is the video we used:


Do you incorporate Charlotte Mason principals into your homeschool?  What about handicrafts?

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.

Sonlight Book list P4/5 2014

Sonlight Read Alouds labeled and on the shelf

Preschool Choices Part III


  • 101 Favorite Stories from the Bible– Sonlight
  • The Beginner’s Bible (the original out of print version, read 2 stories each night)
  • Memory verses from Sonlight
  • Character lessons (really discussions) using different online resources, based on Sonlight memory verses;  I am also incorporating our We Choose Virtues cards.

Reading/Language Arts and Readiness Skills

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


  • 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


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:

Weekly Wrap Up: Fall is here 2014 {w/o October 5}

The past few weeks we have slowly been adding our learning time back into our routine.  Honestly, I could continue our break from it, but Lexie and Max both request it.  So back to it we go!

AAR manuals

We try to start our Mondays off strong, getting in as much reading and foundational lessons as possible.  This week we did good in that area; Lexie read her AAR readers like a pro, and flew through her sight words.  Since The Miss {baby Ila} was born, the hubby has been taking Lexie to gymnastics on Tuesdays.  When Ila is a few weeks older, we will spend Tuesday mornings at the children’s museum with some friends, then head from there to the gym.  Until then, J.Tom taking her works perfectly.  It allows Max and I to have some time together during Ila’s naps, too.

Wednesday is our day “off” from learning for now; I got caught up on laundry, pulled out more of Lexie’s baby clothes for Ila (if there is anything Ila will NEVER need, it is clothes!), vacuumed, and the kids did some art.  This is going to be our mid-week cleaning day.  Sometimes I can get a TON done on Wednesday, other times not so much.

Thursday we did more Sonlight reading and took a walk outside.  I wish I could say we were walking more, but honestly I haven’t found the time to get out much yet.  Between nursing Ila, then pumping for Ila, reading to the kids, and making daytime lunch/snacks there isn’t a lot of down time for me until the kids are down.  Then I get a breather, but obviously can’t go for walks!  (thankfully we have a treadmill now, so soon I will start walking/running on it.)

weekly wrap up October 2014 do a dot paints

We love Do-A-Dot paints!

This week Lexie decided to write her cousin a letter, we made snuggly pallets on the floor, kept the windows open, and I began work on the kids’ some more fall/winter clothes.  I am making Lexie a dress and a ruffle pants outfit, and for Max a few pairs of pajama pants with matching shirts.  I plan to make Ila a skirt or two to match Lexie’s clothes.

The past few weeks we have been so blessed by precious friends that have brought dinner, which has made it much easier on J.Tom and me those nights.  Then our church family (where we have been visiting for about a month before Ila was born) brought us a beautiful gift basket/storage bag with diapers, Burt’s Bees Baby products, and an outfit.  I am getting anxious to get back to church and running around town, but honestly with all the illnesses everywhere, I know we need to wait until Ila has more of an immune system- this is cold and flu season, on top of the enterovirus and possible Ebola fears going around.

Here is to a beautiful fall!

weekly wrap up October 2014 pallets

reading and snuggling on pallets

A Peek into Our PreK Day with Pictures {Crew Carnival}

Our Homeschool Day in Pictures {Quiet in the Chaos}
This week we are linking up with the Review Crew’s “Our Homeschool Day in Pictures.”  Click on the image above to read other Crew members’ posts!

This week Lexie’s reading EXPLODED!  She has been reading her AAR readers like crazy; we love this program.  I am so proud of her, but mostly I am just thankful her confidence has gone through the roof.  She will try read just about any word I point to.  We are working on using her finger to point to the words (she doesn’t like to do this, but reads much better when she does) and not using the pictures to guess what the sentence says.  As you can see, we used an envelope to cover the pictures so she will read the words first, then look at the pics.

Weekly Wrap Up: AAR


And now we do a whole lot of this ….

baby collage homeschool day


We have snacks outside, twice a day.  (I think this is their favorite thing to do …)

A peek into our preschool day


The Mister enjoys playing “connect four” and reading books.

A Peek into our Preschool


We have also been gardening (LOTS of tomatoes coming off our plants), and just adjusting to having a baby in the house.  Overall, everything is going smoothly and everyone is adjusting well!  =)

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