Archives For Homeschool

Photo 11

We had a fun “Box” Day!!

Well, this year I have been very quiet about my curriculum choices. Really, I have been trying to slow down and focus more on our homeschooling. Here is a list of what we are doing at this point:

2nd Grade Curriculum, Emma

  • Sonlight: Core B+C (World History from Creation to the Present)
  • Sonlight: Grade 3 Readers and Language Arts
  • English: All About Spelling, level 2, First Language Lessons
  • Bible: Sonlight curriculum and Little Keepers of the Home
  • Math: Life of Fred, Butterflies
  • Science: Real Science for Kids Pre-level 1, some Apologia
  • Additional History Resources: Mystery of History 2, Veritas Press Cards
  • Physical Education: Ballet
  • Choir

Overall, the biggest change for me this year is using Sonlight. Last year, I felt that all of Emma’s courses just did not mesh together very well and my husband and I decided to look at Sonlight again. This led to me getting the core B+C, which is a one year condensed study of World History. So far, I love the Sonlight. Having everything in one spot and for her exact age is very relaxing to me.

I also ordered the language arts package from Sonlight and I like the readers. I do not like that they cover a whole different time period than the time we are working on with everything else, though. Also, I like the way Margaret Wise introduces grammar with the First Language Lessons very much. So, for now, I am continuing to use the First Language Lessons workbook for our grammar, and using the Sonlight writing program portion of the language arts, and sticking with All About Spelling for spelling because I like that as well. So, the language arts portion is all a bit random, but seems to be working for her.

12th Grade Curriculum, Nick

  • History: US Government
  • English: Wordsmith Craftsman
  • Math: Geometry/Algebra, Life of Fred
  • Science: Apologia, Exploring Creation with Chemistry
  • Elective: College Prep Genius, Prep/Take SAT and ACT. course
  • Foreign Language: Italian
  • Computer Science
  • Physical Education

For Nick, we are kind of down to the wire! He will be taking the SAT soon and he is working on preparing for that. He is doing a lot of Math and writing practice. He is at a point where he could either go onto college or take another year to get ready and take some local classes. We are thinking his SAT scores will help us make the final decision. Should be interesting.

Is this learning? Reading with Aunt Cait? Yes!

I first heard of Before Five in a Row (BFIAR) on a wonderful homeschooling site, Delightful Learning. Just by association, I trusted that this must be a thoughtful, engaging way to teach little ones. At the time, though, my youngest was a little older, and I had moved towards using a few classical curricula, and I never fully explored Before Five in a Row.

But, loved the idea of BFIAR, so I logged it in mentally and planned to share about it with my family and friends with little ones! Later, I realized that the original Five In A Row (FIAR), is beloved by homeschoolers. With the FIAR approach, students and teachers read a particular book aloud for five days in a row and complete specific activities together after each reading.

To some extent, BFAIR is what –in my estimation—the perfect mommy does as she takes time to explore with her little one, and teach in bits and pieces, through repetition and snuggly experiences!

Because we all know that learning through play and Mama’s attention are the building blocks of oh so much more.

When I heard that the TOS Crew might get a chance to review BFIAR, I asked for this one because I was excited to send it to my Mom and sister. My younger sister has a preschooler, a very busy preschooler, in fact, and while they do not homeschool, I know they spend lots of time reading to him and teaching him, and I thought it would be fun for them to have a guide of sorts to give them additional ideas for this busy little one. Frankly, my Mom thinks along similar lines as Jane Claire Lambert, the author of BFIAR.

How so? Well, my Mom was a teacher and worked with theme units way before those were popular. I remember when she worked on a unit for Antarctica and the kids made a cake of Antarctica and got to do an online exploration. Nowadays, that may be a bit more common, but boy were the kids happy back then! The kids worked hard, because the lessons were enjoyable and they really liked the teacher and wanted her to be proud of them. Without even realizing it, the kids were learning so much.

I enjoyed reading that Lambert also came from a family of teachers, and her daughter has followed in her footsteps. I would have guessed, they have the gift of inspiring students.

Reading The Little Engine that Could and taking a train ride with Nan!

BFIAR is geared towards preschoolers, ages two to four, so the activities are designed to work well with little ones, while developing tons of pre-learning skills.

The first section of the book has the recommended book readings, each with suggestions for ways to explore the book for the five days. You will find all sorts of ideas and it is easy to choose a few and really finish something, together, with your preschooler!

Lambert includes ideas for everything from Bible to Science to outdoor escapades and in 6 pages or so for each suggested picture book. She does this for 24 titles in BFIAR. This is so wonderful, especially for those who question their own creativity! (Yes, I mean me) I also like that you can choose from many ideas—BUT you still have a solid kind of unit lesson plan to go by. I like that, so I feel like I really finished something.

After these titles, Lambert adds a section on “Parents Treasury of Creative Ideas for Learning Readiness.” In this portion of the book, you’ll find activities and ideas to encourage reading readiness, large and small motor skills, activities for the kitchen and bathtime.

I really, really recommend getting this book if you have a preschooler, or even spend any time with a preschooler. You certainly do not need to be a homeschooler to enjoy using this book, although using this book might just turn you into a homeschooler! Just fantastic.

Read all about BFIAR on the BFIAR website. Go ahead and purchase the book at $35, through Rainbow Resource.

Visit Homeschool Creations for some extra fun ideas, printables, and even a link up for bloggers using BFIAR with their children!

See what my crewmates have to say about Before Five In A Row.


I received the Before Five in a Row book through the TOS Crew for review purposes. I have given my honest opinion.



This week, I have a sort of “nesting” going on. I have a decent feel for what I want to do with the kids for curriculum and main schedule.

In many years, I have kind of “played it by ear” from there. I would know the gist of what we needed to complete that year for my kids to be well educated. But, I also like relaxing on the couch and reading good books, letting the learning come through slow and steady. Through experience.

I don’t like to be bogged down and frustrated by my own high expectations and by schedules and restrictions…so I just called myself laid back and tried to “go with the flow”.

Problem is, I’m not really that laid back. And, as the children get older and my energy wanes here and there –ha! yes, it does– and with five children and two of them being homeschooled, learning over fifteen different subjects, I need some order.

AS IN, I prayed and calmed myself…and it is what it is. I decided I NEED a schedule for survival this year!

I needed a clean bookshelf with a shelf JUST for the current semester’s books.

I needed a shelf for that day!

I needed a clean school closet.

I needed empty workboxes ready to be filled with the right curriculum.

I needed visual confirmation that this was coming together.

I really needed a hard copy schedule in MY hand. I figured I could handle figuring out 9 to 3:30. I still have some openings and may need to increase the time for some subjects, but for now, this helps.  A simple MSWord table document broken down by 30 minute blocks.

Tentative Schedule, Nick 2011

Tentative Schedule, Nick 2011 (click to view)

Tentative Schedule, Em 2011

Tentative Schedule, Em 2011 (click to view)

I decided I even needed to split up the kids classes into even and odd days to focus well on specific studies.

I needed to build in a “run errands” day.

I needed to end school at 3:30 so that emergencies would fit in…and my husband wouldn’t always come home to a room strewn with books and no dinner.

So, while I am doing a strange, laid back mix of curriculum that even includes Illuminations, I now have a tentative schedule.

I have cleared away non-essential schoolbooks. No matter how wonderful I think they are, if I’m not teaching it, it is out of my way.

I think one thing that stopped me from doing our schedule earlier was that I worried “Our” schedule wouldn’t look good enough to others. I was worried every other homeschool mom “had it all together” and our schedule would look silly.

That is NOT what I needed to believe. I have had tons of support from other homschoolers and I know that each of us choose the way for our families and we need to respect ourselves as well as each other.

My schedule works –ha, I think– for me. And that makes all the difference.

I feel GREAT. Ready to tackle actually teaching these things!

Oh, and I also picked these up for the hard days:



Good Luck!


Are you looking to complete your homeschool curriculum for this upcoming year?

I’m in the midst of figuring out exactly what we want to do…it is hard to not overwork my kids, there is so much great curriculum out here!

Anyway, I have more than I need and maybe something here is just what you need to round out your year. So, FOR SALE!

My paypal email is: Shipping is not included. I will ship media mail.

FOR SALE, High/Jr High

  • Exploring Creation with Physical Science. 2nd. edition. Fair condition. Does have some writing, highlighting. Beat up a bit. Will be heavy to ship, add media mail shipping. $65 new, asking $30 plus shipping

Text only.

Text only.

locPositive Action For Christ, The Life of Christ. Includes Teachers Manual hardback binder, Full Color Students Manual softcover, Transparency CD. Retails 42.95 for Teacher manual/binder, 18.95 for student book. Asking $30 for both. NOTE: the first 3 student lessons have been written in).

  • simply draw Simply Draw with Bob Parsons. In hardback binder, does not include dvd-that went missing:( Retails $37.50 on sale. Asking $15 in great shape, the careful child used this!
  • Set of Nine Stories From History Graphic Novels. Retails $6.99 each ($72) Asking $15
  • vocabaheadVocabAhead, SAT Vocabulary: Cartoons, Videos and Mp3s. Softcvr. Retail $12.95. Asking $5

For Elementary:

  • all togetherScott Foresman Social Studies, All Together, K-1 curriculum. Hardbk. new. Retails $43.47. Asking $15


  • Set of 4 Computer Video Games (work on pc/mac) for children– Elmo’s World, Dora Saves the Crystal Kingdom, Dora’s Lost and Found Adventure, Go Diego Go’s Great Dinosaur Rescue and Safari Rescue. Retail from 16-20 each. Asking $10 for all 4.

I am also listing the curriculum I need for the upcoming year. If you have any of these and are willing to do a trade on something, I am interested, email me and maybe we can work something out:

High School:

  • Easy Grammar Plus. Nick’s testing results from this year in Grammar…necessitate this one!
  • Mystery of History Volume 2 (I’ll be using Illuminations, of course:) I have some $ saved from being an affiliate, but I really want to purchase Illuminations downloads for High School and Elementary and purchase MOH2.
  • An easy Spanish book/wkbook. Nick has done all sorts of “bits” of language, mainly online. We need to get serious without using too much of his energy on this

My Elementary One:

  • Math U See Alpha

Gosh, I need a lot to do what I’m thinking! Can you tell I’m a procrastinator? My husband and I were brainstorming today and finally…um…finalized what all I really want. So there it is:) Come September 1st, I WILL be ready, Haha!

Our Schoolroom!
Not Back to School Blog Hop

Hi all! Welcome:) This week’s theme in the Not Back to School Blog Hop is Our Schoolrooms! This is a fun one for me as I love to see others schoolrooms and get ideas to use in my home.  Join In by visiting Heart of the Matter and linking up.

I hope you enjoy this peek into my home. I am usually very private but I thought this was a fun, easy way to share, using the video. (Excuse my voice, earache, sore throat going on here!)

Anyway, if you do not homeschool, come on over to our side, we often have cookies, and coffee and I am enjoying getting to know my children so much!

Honestly, homeschooling may sound odd, or at least difficult~but it is a very nice way of life for our family. I encourage you to consider it. I like passing on my world views, my love of books, my time to my kids. They are a blessing, indeed.

Now, for full disclosure {grin} I do have children in public school as well. Honestly, I wish they were home as well. I got into this homeschooling thing way after the pioneers, and I made the choice to only homeschool some of my kids (pretty much the one the public school was failing). Once I began, I then continued with my younger child.

So, its a busy place around here, with two highschoolers in public school, one homeschooled highschooler and an elementary homeschooler.

I tell you what, the time is going by so quickly!

Not Back to school hop

In Read For The Heart, Whole Books For Wholehearted Families, Sarah Clarkson follows the delightful path her parents traveled as they shared their knowledge with books such as Educating the WholeHearted Child.

I still remember how my attitude towards how to teach my child changed after reading Educating the Wholehearted Child. (If you haven’t read that one, be sure to look for that—a new edition is due out soon)

Because I had enjoyed that book so much, I was very interested to get a look at this new book by their daughter, a homeschool graduate and lover of literature.

The book is above all a reference book, with a marvelous compilation of reading list recommendations. Clarkson includes reviews of hundreds of whole and living books for children 4-14. The books are categorized by age group and topics, such as:

  • Picture Books
  • The Golden Age Classics
  • Children’s Fiction
  • Fairy Tales and Fantasy
  • History and Biography
  • Spiritual Reading for Children
  • Poetry
  • Music, Art and Nature

However, the book is also much more than a reference book, as the author spends time exploring the reasons for and benefits of instilling a love of reading in your home, your homeschool.

Her enthusiasm is wonderful and I recognized so many books in her listings from my childhood. Many I had also shared with my children, but some I had forgotten, so I am so pleased to have these lists! The concept is simple, but having these listings actually makes my life easier and I love it.

Whether you have voracious or reluctant readers, this book can be an invaluable tool for your homeschool planning. You can find tips on how to engage the reluctant readers, and find new ideas for great books for book lovers. I can’t recommend it enough. You can see a sample chapter on the Apologia website, as well as the Table of Contents.

The book retails for $17 and can be purchased here.

See what my crewmates have to say about Apologia, Read From The Heart

I received Read For The Heart through the TOS Crew for review purposes. I have given my honest opinion.

Song School Latin Review

Heather —  March 30, 2011

I just had to share this video. When I told Emma I wanted to do a little review video for her Latin, she replied that she would do it. I kind of laughed and forgot about it. She came back a bit later with this video she did all by herself!

A little while ago, I received Song School Latin for review. Prior to getting this review, the thought of teaching my kindergartener Latin had only briefly flitted through my mind, when I was researching and choosing some Classical curriculum.

I had decided to incorporate much more classical based studies into Em’s elementary curriculum plans, but deep down, I thought Latin was something that would be too difficult for her and I—and I suspected it would be boring and stuffy. I decided to avoid Latin.

So, it was ironic when I got this to review. I have to say, the study really has changed my concept of what Latin is and I am so glad! The text we have is called Song School Latin, and it is an introductory curriculum for little ones. It is anything but stuffy! The curriculum includes:

  • 30 weekly lessons including review chapters
  • 100 + everyday vocabulary words
  • Accompanying children’s music CD (30 songs) comes in the back of each student text
  • Classical and Ecclesiastical pronunciations in both text and CD
  • Interactive workbook text with lots of activities
  • Grade level: Kindergarten through 3rd Grade

We are on about lesson 12 and have been doing the study as an added little fun thing in our homeschool. Each lesson has 3-4 pages with a song or songs that go with the lesson. The audio CD has decent singing, adding new words to old familiar tunes. We usually listen to the songs several times and then begin the workbook work. The illustrations are attractive and Emma likes the little monkey.

So far, most of the lessons entail learning up to 8 words and the exercises vary with matching and simple answer…a bit of writing and some cutting and coloring. Overall, I find the 30 minutes or so spent on Latin to be very enjoyable and Emma does also. Now, I see Latin as just another language to play with…not some mysterious thing.

The one thing I was a bit confused about as a new teacher was whether to choose to use Classical or Ecclesiastical pronunciations. I actually did not follow directions in the beginning (yeah, so me) so I ended up choosing by not choosing—we just started with the audio on Classical, so I stuck with that.

Now, Emma is a good student and loves writing. That makes my life easier as a teacher. But even if you have a child who doesn’t like the writing, this text would work, because the audio is such a strong part of the program and much of the workbook has the little ones drawing lines to match and circling and such. I definitely think this is a good curriculum to begin with so the children look forward to learning Latin.

Classical Academic Press has a very user friendly website. You can see samples and faqs and find coloring pages, all kinds of helps. Here are a few places to start:

Normally, I would just give you a link to this recap of Song School Latin, but, I really like this video description. We have experienced about everything the company has said they would offer. My daughter enjoys the Latin and we play they audio for fun…and she is easing into a pretty good little Latin vocabulary!

See what my crewmates have to say about Classical Academic Press and Song School Latin.

I received Song School Latin through the TOS Crew for review purposes. I have given my honest opinion.

I love it when our homeschooling is moving ahead with everyone pretty confident about their coursework and content with their schedules.

But, the reality of teaching several kids at different stages often translates into learning curves for all of us as we go through the year.

While most of our curriculum is working this year, I noticed a few things that needed tweaking. Two things stood out to me:

  1. Nick needed more English—especially Grammar practice
  2. Emma was bored with her Math

As I did not want to change up my major curriculum choices, I was not quite sure what to do. Luckily for me, I happened to get a chance to review some homeschool curriculum from Timberdoodle and The Critical Thinking Press.

I was inspired by the bright colors and entertaining artwork of The Critical Thinking Co. books. I liked the theme of challenging kids to think–developing critical thinking habits is an integral part of all their products.

And, I liked the idea of supplementing our current schedule with some items that would appeal to the kids and filled an important need in our curriculum.

As I was able to choose some books to fit the children, I chose Math Reasoning Level A (kindergarten) for Emma, and Editor In Chief C2, for Nick.

The book for Emma was an instant hit and totally solved our “boredom with math problem”. She loves this workbook. I was also thrilled with the colorful, sturdy pages that introduce and explain new math topics very well.

Bright graphics and positive reinforcement really motivate

Bright graphics and success really motivate!

The 250 pages reinforce many beginning math concepts without becoming dreary, as the authors introduce a concept, work on it for a few pages and then move to something else…and come back around.

For the first time ever, Em liked doing the number lines

For the first time ever, Em liked the number lines

This method of spiraling through many concepts gave Emma lots of practice while never leaving her frustrated and mathematical reasoningbored—the authors seemed to know exactly when to take a break and when to keep going! I began allowing Em to do as many math pages as she wanted each day—some days she will do at least ten without any motivation from me.

As the title suggests, the book teaches reasoning and problem solving skills, with topics including: addition, bar graph, calendar, capacity, coins, count, fractions, language, length, likelihood, match, number line, odd/even, order, pattern, real world problems, shapes, subtraction, time, weight, and whole numbers.

There is an answer guide included in the back of the book and this level can be used as a core math or a supplemental. We began using this as supplemental, but I soon felt that this book could easily be Emma’s complete curriculum for this level.

Look at some sample pages from the book.

We did not fare as well for Nick’s experience. But, it was not because the book wasn’t creative and just plain challenging. Our problem was that it was too challenging!

editor in chiefYes, I made an error in judgment on what level to get for him. While this level is recommended for grade levels 9th-12th, it is a serious grammar study—fun, yet the exercises cover some complicated concepts. Attempting to work through this book really forced us to decide to regroup and focus on grammar at an earlier stage–because Nick actually wanted to do this book, as it was entertaining, it showed me that he was not just lacking in motivation.

We liked the idea of the book, Editor In Chief. In these books, your child basically acts as if they are an editor and as they search for grammatical errors, they are truly analyzing the materials and thinking about correct grammar, punctuation, spelling, capitalization and more.

The 130 page book includes an editing checklist, 33 lessons, answers, even a guide to grammar, usage and punctuation.

They do have five other levels for this book. See which Editor In Chief Book might be age-appropriate for your kids, here. We will be getting another one, so we can have a bit of fun, too.

See a sample page.

Are you looking to fill a void in your curriculum? Looking for Math curriculum? Language Arts? Check out Timberdoodle for tons of educational items, including complete curriculum kits. I so enjoy their catalog!

Click to get their free catalog!

Click to get your free catalog!

You can even get fun updates on the Timberdoodle Facebook page.

As a member of Timberdoodle’s Blogger Review Team, I received a free copy of these books in exchange for a frank and unbiased review.