Free Preschool Sight Word Flashcards

Whether you are homeschooling or trying to supplement your child’s ability to read, you’ll love these free preschool sight word flashcards. Simply print them using your home computer.

Welcome, friend. We’ve started homeschooling already this year and my boys are doing awesome! My oldest is now in Kindergarten and we have been working hard on learning to read. Can I be honest with you? I was terrified to teach reading. We’ve been working on it over the summer with the help of Hooked On Phonics. If you would like to know what else we are using, be sure to read my posts Our Preschool Homeschool Curriculum and Our Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum.

My son is doing well reading emergent readers. I ended up creating some flashcards to help him and I thought I would share them here on the blog. Let me share why I think these free preschool sight word flashcards are helpful to your new reader.

Is Your Child Ready to Read?

Although this post is labeled for pre-schoolers, honestly it is for any child that is a beginner reader. “Level 1” just doesn’t have the same ring as Preschool. I thought about trying to teach my son to read in preschool, but I did not feel he was quite ready. How do you know your child is ready to tackle reading? Believe it or not, children give us clues that it may be time to start introducing reading on their own

  • They are motivated. Children who ask to learn to read or show signs of motivation to read are probably ready to put forth the effort it takes to learn reading.
  • They know how to navigate a book. Children should have already grasped the concept of how reading works like starting on the first page, going from the top to the bottom of the page and words going from left to right. They may start pointing to words and letters on the page. Additionally, they may even point and ask what the word says.
  • They recognize letters. Children should be thoroughly familiar with recognizing all letters of the alphabet.
  • They should have a good understanding of phonics. Kids should understand what a rhyme is. They should know what a syllable is and should have a good understanding of the phonics of single letters.

If your child is not there yet, don’t fret! Children learn at different stages. Some may need more familiarity with letters or letter sounds before they move onto reading. That is perfectly okay. Over the summer, my oldest started to show motivation, something he had lacked all through preschool. He would sit in his bed and pretend to read, repeating phrases he had memorized from the book. That was the main reason I knew he was finally ready. He was showing interest and motivation…finally.

sight word flashcards

Using Sight Words

Sight words are words that are short and easy enough for your child to recognize and read without having to sound it out. Sight words also make up 50-70% of the sentences we use all the time. So learning how to read sight words can immediately build confidence when your child starts reading emergent readers. Sight words help build the foundation for more challenging, complex words.

To use these flashcards, print them out on white card stock on your home computer. Make sure that your printer is set to full bleed and that it doesn’t shrink down the pages or the alignment may be off. Trim down following the trim guides. If you prefer, you can laminate them for extra sturdiness.

Sit in a distraction-free area and show your child the flashcards. Model the word. Have your child repeat the words back to you. If your child loses focus, redirect them to look at the card. Also, if your child struggles with the enunciation of the world, hold the card up to your mouth so they can see how you are making the sounds with your lips. If your child begins to become frustrated or very disinterested, stop and resume another day. Young children have a short attention span and you don’t want this to be an awful experience.

For best results, do this daily. When you feel your child is ready, challenge your child to read the words by himself or herself. If he or she is incorrect, I suggest not telling them they are wrong as this can crush budding confidence. Instead, keep it positive. Simply model the word correctly by saying, “The word is…” Then tell them they did well for trying. Always boost your child’s confidence whenever you can.

Extra Practice

If your child is practicing handwriting and you feel they are proficient enough to start writing full words, you can always give them sight words to trace or copy. This will help them become even more aware of helping them memorize them. I have a printable you can download. The words are printed in light grey and your child can trace the sight words with their favorite pencil or crayon.

I hope that these help you and your little one enjoy the beginnings of your reading journey. If you would like some other fun printables to do with your kids take a look at my other posts like Valentine’s Day Bingo and Printable Halloween Memory Game.

Our Preschool Homeschool Curriculum

Need some help teaching preschool at home? Today I’m sharing the resources we used for our preschool homeschool curriculum.

our preschool homeschool curriculum
This post contains affiliate links. Should you make a purchase through one of the links I provide, I may receive a small percentage at no cost to you. Your support helps me offset the costs associated with this blog. So thank you!

Today I’m sharing some of the resources we just finished using for preschool back in May. I’ve had lots of friends reach out to me about homeschooling their preschool child because of Coronavirus, so I decided to sit down and provide all of our resources. You can take a look at the Kindergarten curriculum we are using for my oldest this year in the post, Our Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum.

Homeschooling isn’t as scary as it sounds, at least not at the preschool level. Not only will you child be learning lots of things, but it is also an incredible bonding opportunity for the two of you.

Most states don’t have regulations for homeschool preschool because preschool typically isn’t compulsory, but always check your state regulations before getting started to make sure the curriculum you choose complies with state guidelines and prepares them thoroughly for kindergarten. You can find your state regulations here.

A Preschool Introduction

Before I begin, I want to clarify that young children at the preschool level learn best by doing and by learning through play, not textbooks. I organized our school year by unit studies. Meaning we focused on a particular theme for a week and did activities around them. If you are interested, I’ll provide our unit studies below

A typical preschool day for us includes the following:

  • Math (number recognition, counting, patterns, reinforcement of shapes and colors)
  • Handwriting (how to hold a pencil correctly, learning how to write numbers, letters and basic shapes)
  • Reading (Reading favorite children’s stories)
  • Bible Study (simply reading a bible story from your favorite children’s bible)
  • Phonics: Letter recognition, letter sounds
  • Arts & Crafts (fine motor activity like coloring, painting, drawing, paper plate crafts, etc)
  • Science (informal introduction to our body, animals, plants, space, etc)

Math

One of the best teaching tools I’ve ever found are little animal counters (called manipulatives). You can use them in many different activities. I have found that children learn math best when they can visualize it. That’s what makes these counters invaluable. My oldest, now in Kindergarten, is grasping the concept of subtraction and addition thanks to these. Honestly, I think this is about all you need to teach math in preschool with the exception of learning to write and identify numbers. Here are some of the activities you can do in preschool just with counters.

  • SORT BY COLOR: Color sorts challenge your child not just to select the correct color but also eliminate the incorrect colors. It provides you with a way to gauge how well they really know their colors and how well they can distinguish between colors that are similar such as blue and green, orange and red, purple and blue, etc.
  • COUNTING: Obviously, you can use colored counters to simply count. Most counters come in packs of around 100 making it great to count all the way to the 100.
  • SKIP COUNTING: Once your child masters counting, they can learn to skip count with the counters. Like counting by twos, by fives, and by tens Many children don’t learn this until Kindergarten so it’s okay if they aren’t ready for it in pre-school.
  • PATTERNS: Counters can also be a tool for critical thinking. Identifying patterns is an early Math skill. With colored counters, you can create patterns (e.g. blue-blue, green-green, blue-blue, green…) then have your child finish the pattern. Or you can remove a counter and ask your child which color is missing. Once your child has mastered identifying patterns, challenge him or her to create their own patterns.
  • POSITIONS and QUANTIFIERS: Counters are also a great way for your child to learn positional directions like above, below, first, last, top, middle, bottom, right, left and quantifiers like more, less, greater, less than, etc. Lay them out in different directions and then ask your child to identify the one on the right, left, on the bottom, etc.

our preschool homeschool curriculum

If you prefer a workbook/textbook experience for Math, we love Horizons. We are using it for Kindergarten and my son loves it because it incorporates hands-on and textbook learning.

In fact, if you want to make things simple and just do a textbook experience, Horizons offers an entire all-in-one preschool curriculum. It covers Math, Phonics, Physical Education, Health, Science and Social Studies and comes with a DVD and manipulatives. Note: Curriculum is Christian-based.

Handwriting

I wish I had known about this program when first teaching my son to write. We tried multiple programs and every program left both of us in tears! My oldest was very resistant to writing. He was great at pre-writing activities, but had no desire to use a pencil. I had heard lots of great things about this program so in the final months of our preschool year I changed our handwriting curriculum to Handwriting Without Tears. The results were amazing! We made more progress in the first month of the program than we had in the prior 10 months of the school year. (We homeschool year round). In three months, Jack was finally writing his own name without any help or prompting. I honestly can’t recommend this program enough. Now he begs to do his handwriting first before other subjects. It has totally changed our school day.

One nice thing about the program is that it breaks the letters down into individual strokes for your child. Instead of just trying to copy the letter in full, children color and fill in a picture using the strokes that will be needed to make the letter. Then they’ll try to trace and write the letter on the next page. Over the book, it increases in difficulty. Struggling writers are often frustrated by the precision and concentration needed to write small. So the book has students practice on a larger scale in order to build confidence before asking for precision and control.

If you can afford it, splurge on the chalkboard. It made the lessons extra fun for my son and he loved the novelty of doing extra practice on the blackboard.

Reading

Many preschoolers are not ready for reading on their own yet. That’s okay. The way to encourage your child to read is to read to them. Reading to your child every day can foster life long literacy. Just one or two storybooks a day is all you need. I normally tie our books into our weekly unit study. For instance, if we are studying ocean week, we read at least one ocean-themed book a day. You don’t need to spend a fortune. The library is a great resource for books. Many libraries even allow you to search and reserve books online so you aren’t spending a ton of time searching for them at the library. You can see some of the classical books we are reading through preschool and kindergarten here in my post Classical Books for Kindergarteners. Don’t worry, they are perfect for preschoolers too.

Also, you can keep track of all the books you read with your child with my FREE Reading Log Printable.

Phonics

Learning to read starts with learning the sounds of the alphabet. It’s really that simple. There are lots of ways to teach that. My son learned the alphabet really well by three. Then after his third birthday, we started to work on all the sounds the alphabet made. It is still hard for children to start putting the sounds together into words. That’s where phonics programs really help.

There are lots of phonics programs out there. Ultimately, you will need to choose what is right for you. Explode the Code is a very popular choice for homeschoolers and it is heavy in writing and drawing as well. A good friend of ours taught their twins how to read using nothing more than the book entitled, How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. (We are also using that book as a supplement) A comprehensive program that some friends have used is Little Champion Early Reading, but it is on the pricey side as far as programs go. There is another popular program entitled All About Reading. And of course, there is the very popular Hooked On Phonics. We are currently using Hooked On Phonics and we started at the Pre-school level.

The main reason we chose Hooked On Phonics is that it has been around for a very long time (my own brother used it) and the price is in the middle price range of phonics programs. We used it all through pre-school and now we are using it in Kindergarten and my son loves to read the emergent readers. More than anything, it has helped him become interested in reading instead of resistant.

And that is the best kind of advice I can give you when it comes to homeschooling. If you or your child are becoming increasingly frustrated, more often than not, the curriculum just isn’t a good fit. Don’t be afraid to change what isn’t working. You know you have hit the sweet spot when your child is engaged, willing, and making progress.

Arts & Crafts

Arts and crafts are very important for preschoolers for a variety of reasons. First, arts and crafts are fine motor activities. Having to use glue, scissors, crayons, paint, etc, fine-tunes their fine motor skills which inevitably helps with writing. It gives them an opportunity to use their budding imaginations and is also a sensory experience. All you need is a small list of supplies and the possibilities are endless! Honestly, we just found a craft every day on Pinterest that coincided with our theme.

Preschoolers should also be mastering the use of scissors. By doing arts and crafts they will get plenty of practice, but if you still feel like your child needs more practice (like mine did) you can purchase a scissor practice book. I’ll provide some links for art supplies because honestly, Target is one of the more reasonable places for school supplies.

our preschool home curriculum
arts and crafts

Science

There isn’t a lot of resources for preschool Science. We just bought a few educational Science related things to help foster a love for Science. Children at this age really just need to be able to distinguish between living and non-living things. They also should be able to recognize and name body parts, basic things in nature (plants & trees, animal types, the weather, and the seasons). Keep in mind, lots of Science can be learned by simply including the subject in your daily reading.

For instance, we purchased this book with 20 STEM pre-school activities. We also received this awesome body book from our Aunt and we decided to incorporate it into our studies by going through a page or two a day. My son became totally obsessed with the human body. I’m shocked at what my son learned by going through it. Then we got a Science lab kit and we found some fun kitchen experiments. We are using it again this year for Kindergarten.

We also used a Pre-K Science workbook by DK Workbooks. It isn’t very in-depth, and I really wish it was in color instead of black and white, but it does include many of the basic concepts that preschoolers should know.

Bible Study

If you are religious and you want to start introducing God into your studies I have found at this age all that is needed is to read a bible story and ask your child some questions. In Kindergarten we are using The Complete Illustrated Children’s Bible. However, the wording may be above your preschooler’s vocabulary. My oldest child wasn’t quite ready for it when we started preschool, but was ready around Kindergarten. What a difference a year makes in a child’s vocabulary! Therefore, the other two we used at the younger preschooler age was 365 Bible Stories and Prayers and The Beginner’s Bible.

Before You Go

Thanks so much for taking the time to visit today and read about our preschool homeschool curriculum. As always, if you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments. I’ll try to respond promptly.

If you are nervous about homeschooling, don’t worry. You and your child will do great. It can be a little scary at first. As parents, we want to make sure our children aren’t falling behind in school, but I promise it isn’t as scary as it seems. Children learn so much by playing and by you explaining things to them. So take every opportunity to do that and try not to stress over it too much.

Check out some of my other homeschool posts like How to Start Homeschooling and Our Homeschool Room Tour

How to Start Homeschooling

Interested in homeschooling, but don’t know where to start? You aren’t alone. Take a look at my quick guide on how to start homeschooling. It’s easier to get started than you think.

how to start homeschooling

If you are here, it’s because you are considering homeschooling. First off, let me say I’m proud of you for taking charge of your children’s education. Whether you are dead serious about starting or simply want to find out more about what it takes to educate your children at home, know that you are doing a great thing for your family.

There are lots of reasons families decide to educate at home. Currently, many families are considering homeschooling due to COVID concerns and the instability it might bring to the upcoming school year. Whatever your reasons they are both valid and personal. Today, I am going share with you how to start homeschooling.

How To Start Homeschooling

Review Your State’s Homeschooling Laws

Homeschooling is legal in all fifty states. The very first thing you’ll need to do is review your state’s homeschool regulations. Homeschooling laws are regulated by your state, not the federal government. You can find your state’s homeschooling laws at HSLDA. Some states, like Texas where I live, have few regulations, giving parents lots of freedom and autonomy. However, other states have moderate regulations and a few states (primarily in the North Eastern United States) have far more stringent regulations. These laws will tell you:

  • How many school days are required
  • Mandatory subjects
  • Mandatory number of days (attendance)
  • Record-keeping
  • Testing Requirements
  • Notifying the local public school/withdrawing children from public school
  • Teacher qualifications
  • Immunization requirements

Figure Out Who Will Teach

There are a few states that require homeschool teachers to have teaching certificates. Some states only require it if you are teaching additional children that aren’t yours. That’s right! Did you know that many states allow people other than parents to homeschool? It’s true. Homeschool teachers can be parents, neighbors, aunts or uncles, even grandparents. This can be a great solution for working parents who want to homeschool. For example, in Texas, you can teach up to five kids that aren’t yours before the state requires a teaching certificate. So if my brothers wanted me to homeschool their kids alongside mine, we can. You’ll need to figure out who will be facilitating school and make sure it is in accordance with state regulations.

Decide on a Homeschooling Method

There are lots of ways to educate a child and homeschooling provides different methods of teaching. If you are homeschooling temporarily due to COVID, you may want to consider doing Traditional homeschooling. Traditional homeschooling will mirror public schools in structure and method. There are other methods like Charlotte Mason, Classical, Unschooling, and Eclectic. I’ve created a separate post entitled, Homeschooling Methods Explained, where I explain the differences in detail.

Decide on a Schedule

Part of planning your homeschool will involve planning out your school calendar. It is important to note that some states have a required number of days your child must attend school. 180 to 185 days is the average requirement. In some states, like my home state of Texas, there is no attendance requirement. This is great because it means you can finish your school year as quickly as you want or you can stretch out your school year-round with lots of days off during the year. Many families simply follow the same schedule as their public school system. For some it just makes it easier.

Personally, we homeschool year round. First, it ensures your child doesn’t forget things over the summer. Plus it means I don’t have to remotivate them (or myself) at the beginning of the school year. Also, it means we can take lots of vacations or time off anytime we feel we need it during the year. This really helps us from feeling burnt out. It means we don’t have to take our family vacations in summer when everyone else is also vacationing. (Thats right. No lines at Disney World!)

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Choose a Curriculum

The idea of choosing a curriculum can be really overwhelming to parents who are homeschooling for the first time. My advice is not to stress too much over it. If you and your child are struggling you can change the curriculum at any time! One of the best resources I ever found is a book entitled, Duffy’s Homeschool Picks. In this book, Duffy writes in-depth curriculum reviews and also helps you assess which curriculum will best meet your needs. Here are some things you need to consider when choosing curriculum.

How to Choose Curriculum

  • TEACHER-LED OR STUDENT-LED: Curriculum is designed to either be led by a teacher or by the student. In the early years, students will likely benefit more from having you work directly with them. However, as your child matures, independent learners may benefit more with the autonomy found in student-led curriculum.
  • SECULAR OR RELIGIOUS: You will need to decide whether you want religion to play a part in your child’s studies. Some religious families opt for a secular curriculum with separate religious or bible studies. Others prefer religion to be intertwined in subjects. Many secular curricula are religion-friendly, meaning there is unlikely to be anything in direct opposition to religious tenets. This will become especially critical in Science when deciding whether to teach creation or evolution.
  • YOUR HOMESCHOOLING METHOD: Curriculum varies widely in their approach to learning. Your curriculum choices may be impacted by the homeschooling method you wish to employ. Be sure to read my post, Homeschooling Methods Explained for an in-depth look at the different homeschooling methods.
  • YOUR CHILD’S LEARNING STYLE: Just like us, children have different learning styles. Some children are auditory learners, while others need to visualize concepts. Still, others benefit more from a hands-on (tactile) experience. One advantage to homeschooling is the ability to use a curriculum tailored to your child’s learning style. It is important to note that young children are generally tactile learners and may change learning styles as they mature.
  • HOW MUCH TIME YOU WANT TO SPEND: Some curriculum requires prep work on the part of the teacher, while others allow you to dive right in. Some curriculum is relaxed, others are rigorous and of course, there is everything in between. You will need to figure out how much time you are willing to dedicate. This is especially important if you are a single parent, working parent, or are teaching multiple students.
  • SPECIAL NEEDS: Consider if your child has any special needs that may influence the curriculum you choose. Not only are there curriculum choices that are special need friendly, but there are also support groups for families.
  • YOUR BUDGET: You will decide how much you are willing to spend on the curriculum. It is important to note that there are many free and low-cost options available. In fact, some school districts even offer public school online at home and it’s completely free!
  • ONLINE OR TANGIBLE: You will need to decide how much screen time your child has. There are pros and cons to both. Some parents want their kids to be tech-savvy and comfortable with online applications. Whereas other parents feel too much time online can stunt literacy. Many families find a happy medium or encourage technology in later years like high school.

Join Homeschooling Groups

One thing that is wonderful about homeschooling is the community. I have found homeschooling families to be wonderfully accepting and helpful to other families, especially those just getting started. Other families are a valuable resource for both motivation, advice, and socialization, so look into joining homeschool groups. You can find many online, even on Facebook.

Other Common Questions

I hope I have answered some of your basic questions on how to start homeschooling. If you have other questions, feel free to leave them in the comments and I will answer as soon as I can. Thanks for reading!

Easy Low Carb Meatloaf

This yummy recipe leaves out all the heavy carbs and grains for a protein-packed, easy low-carb meatloaf that will be your new family favorite.

Easy low carb meatloaf

I’ve got a new recipe for you. Well, it is new to you but old to me. That’s because this is actually my grandmother’s recipe. I’ve been making this for years and when I got on the Keto diet, I thought I should share it with others for those looking for a low-carb meatloaf recipe. Hold up, don’t run away. I hope you give this recipe a chance. I know there are a lot of people out there who cringe at the idea of meatloaf. Admittedly, I’m not a meatloaf fan of the other recipes I have tried in the past. This is the only one I like!

Meatloaf is a nice hardy dish to serve your family. Here in the south, it is comfort food. I love serving it with a steaming heap of buttery mashed potatoes and some greens like Southern-style green beans or roasted Brussel sprouts and bacon. By the way, if you are looking for another easy weeknight recipe, take a look at my Easy Chicken Tetrazzini recipe before you go.

Making Easy Low Carb Meatloaf

One thing that is nice and different about this meatloaf is that it is low carb. If you are doing a special diet like Paleo, Atkins or Keto, this is going to be great for you. Obviously, if you are doing Paleo, you’ll want to try and use grass-fed beef. Lots of meatloaf recipes call for breadcrumbs, stuffing, or other grains to form the loaf shape. This recipe uses absolutely no breadcrumbs or other grains. The only carbs in it are from bell pepper, onion and a small amount of tomato sauce. Instead of using breadcrumbs to hold the meat together in a loaf, this recipe uses protein – one large egg. The egg acts as the binding agent.

The other thing that makes this meatloaf unique is that it uses ground breakfast sausage. I highly recommend using Jimmy Dean Breakfast sausage. I like to use the sage version for added flavor, but you could also use the regular or even the hot if you wish.

It takes about an hour in the oven to cook the 2-pound loaf. However, it only takes a few minutes of prep time. You can even prep it the day before, then pop it in the oven when you’re ready to start dinner. I personally don’t need a sauce with this meatloaf because it is so flavorful, but you can add your favorite meatloaf sauce to it.

easy low carb meatloaf
easy low carb meatloaf

This recipe calls for simple ingredients. Ground beef, breakfast sausage, green bell pepper, white onion, one egg, a small amount of tomato sauce and salt and pepper. Just combine and press into a regular-sized loaf pan. Then you’ll cook it for one hour in an oven preheated to 375. Let the meatloaf rest for about five minutes before serving. This keeps it juicy and allows the juices to recirculate through the meat.

Storing the Meatloaf

This is a great meal for leftovers. Because of the sausage (high-fat content), the meat doesn’t dry out when reheated. You can reheat it in the oven again or use the microwave. Also, you can store in the fridge for up to three days in an airtight container. I have also frozen it before and it freezes well for up to a month. Honestly, I’ve never stored it longer than that. If you are freezing it, just make sure you wrap it really well to prevent freezer burn.

dinner
dinnerdinne

Easy Low Carb Meatloaf

This yummy low carb meatloaf is all meat and few carbs and is sure to become a weeknight favorite!
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 15 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 6

Ingredients
  

  • 1 lbs Ground Beef
  • 1 lbs Breakfast sausage Jimmy Dean preferred
  • 1 Lrg Egg
  • 1/2 Bell Pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 Sm White Onion, chopped
  • 3-4 oz Tomato sauce about half of an 8 oz can
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 375°
  • In a large mixing bowl, add beef, sausage, onion and bell pepper. Knead well until combined to avoid bites of only sausage or beef. You can use clean hands or use a pastry cutter to help combine them.
  • Add one egg and knead until fully combined.
  • Add tomato sauce and knead until fully combined.
  • Transfer meat mixture into an ungreased loaf pan. Press into pan to pack meat tightly. Level the top.
  • Place in oven and bake for one hour at 375°
  • Let meat rest for 5 mins before serving.
Keyword atkins, beef, beef dishes, comfort food, ground beef, healthy meals, italian sausage, keto, leftovers, low carb, meat, meatloaf, southern recipes, weeknight favorite
meatloaf

12 Reasons Your House Still Looks Dirty

There is nothing more deflating than to spend time cleaning your house and it still not look clean. Let’s discuss 12 reasons your house still looks dirty.

12 reasons your houses still look dirty

Hey there friends. Today we are talking about cleaning. But specifically, we are talking about the things that can make your house look dirty or messy even after you have cleaned or things that make your house look dirty even when it is fairly tidy. Here are 12 reasons your house still looks dirty.

Dirty Baseboards and Corners

I am going to share a big secret to making your house look cleaner. Get down on your hands and knees. Wait, don’t click away! I know the idea of getting down on your hands and knees to clean is really unappealing! But I am always amazed at all the dirt and grime that is missed when you don’t get down to floor level. When we vacuum, sweep, and mop, dust, and dirt gets pushed towards baseboards and corners where it accumulates and settles. I’m going to give you an embarrassing peek into my own home. I hadn’t done a deep clean in my Master Bath for about a month. I had wiped down the bath, toilet, shower, and sinks, but I hadn’t mopped or descaled the glass in four weeks for no reason that I was just being lazy. At first glance, it doesn’t look bad.

bathroom

But then I got down on my hands and knees to deep clean the floor and here is what you can see. Dirt and grime in the crevice of the tile wall and baseboards. I had to get down and zoom in so you can see it, but it’s there. I always get down on the floor and clean the perimeter of the room, baseboards and corners to make sure I pick up all the dirt.

dirty corners

Not Re-Caulking

Caulk is used to seal the seams of your house – like where wood and drywall meet. It prevents bugs, water, and air from entering your home. Silicone caulk is used to seal around your cooktop range, sinks, and often tubs. Over time, the materials in your house settle and flex. Temperature changes outside cause your house to expand and contract. After years of this, you may notice gaps in molding, baseboards, sinks, tubs, showers, etc. You may notice that the caulk flakes off or has shrunk over the years. The cracks can make your house look aged and dirty. Just take a look at an area in my bathroom. I put some fresh caulk on the molding in about five minutes, but it took years off the wall. If you have gauges in the wood, you can fill it in with a little wood filler then paint over it. Take a look at all these uses for caulk in your home.

wall caulking

Clutter

Clutter…everyone has it! My maternal grandmother was a master at handling clutter! Her house was small and simple, but beautiful. Not only was she always cleaning it, but she constantly purged. I remember her having garage sales multiple times a year in order to expel the clutter from her home.

Clutter is any collection of things that are disorganized. Clutter is the opposite of clean. It creates a frenzied, messy appearance in your home. It also creates more work for you. The more things you have, the more things you have to put away. If you want to spend less time picking up and clearing away surfaces, get rid of the clutter! The most important thing about keeping a clean house is having a place for everything. When you have too many things you will find you don’t have room for them. Surfaces, cupboards, and closets will be spilling over with things and will resort to stacking and unsightly piles. Even when decorating, remember less is more. Too many decorative things makes a house look messy too.

If you want to get started, take a look at my post, 50 Things To Throw Away Right Now. Not all of us are willing to do the Konmari method of decluttering. That’s fine. Start small if you must by setting decluttering goals every week. There are even apps for your phone that challenge you to do one decluttering activity a day in just a few minutes. If you are hesitant to throw things away because you spent good money on it, read my post 8 Places to Cash In Clutter. No matter how you decide to start, set some goals, and make decluttering a habit.

Dirty Walls

Walls get dirty. I’m always surprised at how dirty they can actually get. They are easy to scuff and scratch. In kitchens, you may find splatters and drips on them. Believe it or not, these unattractive marks can make your house look dirty when it really isn’t. That’s why spot cleaning walls should be on your seasonal deep clean checklist.

You’ll be glad to know cleaning walls isn’t hard. I will add that flat paint is harder to clean up than satin or eggshell finishes. All you need to clean painted walls is some warm water and mild detergent. If you need a little more scrubbing powder you can add baking soda and scrub gently.

Lastly, keep in mind that paint dulls over time. If walls are really dingy a fresh coat of paint can do wonders for a room facelift.

Windows

For years I underestimated how much windows made a difference in your home. A while back we were touring some new homes and I couldn’t figure out why those houses were so bright and airy. It made the house feel so clean, fresh, and open. It was the windows. The windows were clean. Honestly, that’s why I don’t have blinds in my house. It kills so much natural light and when you kill the natural light it can make your home feel dark and dank. There is a reason why when you look at gorgeous homes on Pinterest none of them have blinds! I’m not throwing any shade at you if you have blinds. (No pun intended) Lots of people are in a position where they need extra privacy. I get that. I just think it is just important to know that there is a trade-off for it.

Lastly, dirty windows are also a mood killer. Dirty windows, including window screens, create a haze on your windows which again filter the natural light coming through your windows. It is amazing how clean windows can make the house feel cleaner and brighter. I find my first-floor windows are much dirtier than my second story. This is because they are closer to the dirt and soil in the ground. I recommend cleaning your windows seasonally or every six months. You can hire a service or use a pole washer like this below.

12 reasons your house still looks dirty
Photo by Francesca Tosolini on Unsplash

Paper Clutter

Paper clutter is the devil! I am a pen and paper girl. I prefer using a paper planner rather than a digital one. Honestly, I don’t like whiteboards and command stations. I prefer paper lists. And can I be honest? I forget about paperless bills! Out of sight out of mind. I prefer using paper to organize my life. Of course, that means that I also have to deal with the paper that accumulates from those things.

Paper clutter can make your house look messy and chaotic. Toss junk mail in the trash as soon as it comes in. Set a time every week to open and shred mail so it doesn’t pile up. It baffles me how quickly paper can stack up. No, you don’t have to save every drawing your kids do. It’s okay to throw them away. Make a folder for the bills you need to attend to and when you are done, shred them. Set seasonal goals to go through file cabinets and see what can be shredded or thrown away. Store coupons in a folder or envelope.

Unmade Beds

Why should I make my bed when I’m just going to sleep in it again in 12 hours? Isn’t this one of life’s greatest conundrums? Believe me, I ask myself this a lot. What’s the point? The point is that making beds makes bedrooms look so much cleaner! You can have a clean bedroom but having an unmade bed makes the entire room look messy! I think of my bedroom almost like a sanctuary. It’s a private space or maybe more specifically, a private retreat. Unlike the common areas of the house where toys and shoes are spread in frenzied disarray, my bedroom is a place that is just for me to retreat. So with that, I want it to be a quiet, calm place. Making your bed brings calm and order to your bedroom. I also feel satisfied slipping into a clean, neat bed with crisp, fresh linens at the end of a hard day. It’s soothing. So maybe consider doing it as a treat for yourself when you are tired later. I’ve learned it only takes five minutes to make my bed.

12 reasons your house still looks dirty
12 rea12 reas

Dirty Dishes

One of my least favorite chores is doing the dishes. It is tempting to put it off, but it is so overwhelming when they pile up. Even if the rest of your kitchen is clean, a sink full of dirty dishes makes your kitchen look dirty. Not only that but it makes your kitchen stinky which kills any clean vibe you had going. Frankly, I feel like a dirty stove also brings down the entire state of your kitchen. And personally I feel like when my kitchen is dirty, the whole house feels dirty. Maybe because the kitchen is the heart of the house.

I have found the best way to deal with dishes is to clean up after every meal. As a stay at home mom, I wash dishes three times a day! It’s a pain, but they’ll pile up otherwise, and letting dishes sit too long make the job harder. Food will get stuck on and you’ll have to resort to soaking dishes before you can wash them. I always try to remove all the food from dirty dishes before they go into my sink. I scrape the food out and rinse them really well. You may only decide to wash once a day. Whatever works for you! But the key to keeping a clean house is to make sure you are staying on top of chores.

Unstyled Shelves

Shelves are wonderful for collecting small objects or books in one place, but they can also make a house look messy if they aren’t organized. Also, having too many objects on your shelf can make it looked cluttered. The more things you have on a self, the less of a visual impact it makes.

Consider putting small or unsightly objects in baskets or boxes to hide them. Group books into small stacks and hold books straight and upright with bookends. You can place books vertically or horizontally, but make certain they are in neat stacks. Leave plenty of space between objects. Set large sculpture pieces or objects d’art by themselves. Showcase smaller items in pairs or threes. Lean artwork against the back wall of the shelf and keep an eye out for balance and symmetry.

Mounds of Laundry

Anyone who knows me knows one of my big pet peeves is piles of laundry! Whether it be dirty clothes on the floor or piles of clothes that need to be folded, I can’t stand to look at laundry. Laundry that isn’t tamed is a sure way to make your home look unkept. If you have a family, I’m sure you feel like laundry is one of those endless chores! Between linens, towels, and clothes, there is always laundry that needs to be washed, folded, ironed, or put away. That means that there are lots of opportunities for laundry to pile up and create a mess.

Make sure you have a hamper in rooms were clothes accumulate. Hang and fold clothes immediately after drying. Not only does this reduce wrinkles, it stops piles of washed, but unfolded clothes from accumulating. I set a timer every day for folding and putting away clothes. Keep a stain stick in your hamper for quick stain treatments. This also reduces the need to layout clothes for treating stains in your washroom. Consider a laundry schedule. For instance, maybe you wash all the bedding on Saturdays, towels on Sundays, and members of the household have a specific laundry day. You can also invest in a laundry sorter to make washing easier.

A few years back, I discovered how much better it is to store clothing vertically in drawers. You can get way more items into a drawer and it helps to ensure you don’t forget about clothes you own. Seeing it vertically helps you to put more of your clothes into your rotation.

Unused Products

Let me first say, I am totally guilty of this one. All one has to do is take a look in my pantry and you will see I have a bad habit of letting unused products pile up. This also includes products like toiletries and cosmetics. This problem is almost always created first while shopping. You see a bargain or perhaps you think you might need it, so you buy it and it goes unused once you get it home. Before you know it, you have shelves full of canned goods and toiletries that are just taking up precious space and making your house feel cluttered. I think that this is rooted in shopping impulses, but I also think that we need to be real with ourselves about whether or not we will actually use these items. It is hard to pitch unused things in the trash when you spent good money on them, so consider giving them to someone else or donating them.

Soiled, Dirty or Dusty Fabrics

The last reason that makes your house look dirty is soiled fabrics and dirty fabrics. Look at how much dust accumulates on wood furniture. That is how much is accumulating on your fabrics. It’s really important to vacuum and spot clean the fabrics in your home. Fabrics wear a lot faster than woods and as you already probably know, they seem to be a magnet for stains. Soiled, dusty fabrics can make your house look dirty even when it’s clean. That’s why it is so important to vacuum them regularly and spot clean. I talked to a few who maids that I know and they stated fabrics should be vacuumed twice weekly. Drapes can be done less often. However, they suggested that houses with indoor pets like cats and dogs should be vacuumed even more.

That’s it. I hope you are inspired to get cleaning. In the comments below, I’d love to hear what your most dreaded chore is. Confession, mine is descaling the shower!

Our Homeschool Room Tour

Today I am pulling back the curtain and giving you a glimpse inside our homeschool room. Join me for our homeschool room tour!

Our homeschool room tour
Some links are affiliate links. Meaning, should you make a purchase through one of the links I provide I may receive a small percentage at no cost to you.

I am often asked about our homeschool room and with so many friends turning to homeschooling this fall due to COVID, I’ve decided to give you our homeschool room tour. First, let me start by saying, I know how blessed I am to have a dedicated room. I know most people don’t have an extra room to use. That said, many families opt for the kitchen table or home office as a learning space. However, when my husband and I were building our house, years before we had children, we knew we were going to homeschool. Therefore, we built this room just for homeschooling. If you are just homeschooling for this coming year due to COVID, a kitchen table is fine! If you are interested in learning about more about homeschooling permanently I have lots of homeschooling posts including, Homeschooling Methods Explained.

Lots of moms have asked me if you need a dedicated room. I would say you need a dedicated space. That doesn’t mean the room can’t serve more than one purpose. Up until last year our classroom was also a playroom. But since we buckled down on home education, we removed the toys and put them in their bedrooms. That would probably be my only caveat. I have found that if you have little ones, removing distraction is key. Having the toys in the same room as our learning space is just too distracting for my little guys.

Let’s start our tour and I will explain why and how I do things.

Our Room

our homeschool room tour

Our room is the game room in our house. It is at the top of the landing in our house. Before kids, it was just another comfy living space. Our space isn’t really decorated. I added some color with a rug, but it was more to protect our carpet in case we accidentally spilled glue, paint, or other stuff. I’d rather replace a $100 rug than wall-to-wall carpeting! I put up some matching curtains for color and made some streamers and alphabet with paper and stickers. A few of the alphabets have fallen down and I just haven’t made time to get the ladder from the garage and put them back up. I’ll do that before we start school again in a few weeks. Other than that it is a hodgepodge of bookcases and file cabinets. I don’t really care if things are matching. It’s more about functionality than aesthetics.

The Desk and Chairs

I’ll be honest, it took me forever to decide what kind of desk and chairs to get. There are so many options and I had no idea what I wanted it to look like. Well, I finally made a decision a few years back. I decided to build my own desk with IKEA accessories. I got two desktops from IKEA in gray. They are basically long rectangles. Then I bought four drawers and put the tops on top. We then secured the top with brackets. I offset the drawers to create a square table with four workstations which gives us plenty of space to work.

Furthermore, I decided on this set up for one main reason. I have no idea if we will always be in this house. Right now, we have space to create this four-workstation look. However, if we have to move, I can take this desk apart and create more of a traditional workstation with two drawers on each side and a rectangular top. It’s versatile.

PARDON MY KIDS THINGS ON THE FLOOR. I purposely didn’t pick them up because I want you to know this room is almost never pristine! We live in this room and it is often messy and disorganized. Real-life, friends!

In the drawers, I keep art supplies, workbooks, construction paper, playdoh, paper plates (for crafts and painting), and all kinds of other school-related materials. On top of the table, I found a cute craft carousel from Michaels Craft Stores. Here I keep all the supplies we use all day long so they are close at hand. Things like paintbrushes, glue sticks, glue, markers, pencils, erasers. dot stampers, pencil sharpeners, watercolors, rulers, etc.

I decided on these chairs by IKEA because they adjust to the children’s height as they grow. They were $35 each and they still have them on the IKEA site. Additionally, we have an old tv in the room for when we watch educational videos and we have a Melissa and Doug Calendar.

Where to Buy

desk
desk
desktop organizer

Bookcase & White Board

whiteboard

We repurposed my husband’s old office bookcase. In here I keep our curriculum, educational books, some educational games, DVDs, dictionary, thesaurus, etc. I keep a large trash can here for all of our craft messes. I also keep some folders (Target Dollar Spot) for my teacher organization. I also keep my teacher planner (The Happy Planner) on this rack. We have a teacher whiteboard and a wooden abacus which really helped my little ones count and are helping them learn addition and subtraction. Below the whiteboard, I repainted an old coat hook mint and sprayed the metal gold. I found some metal pails at the Target Dollar Spot and filled them with things like dry erase markers, colored pencils, crayons, etc.

Small Desk

little desk

We have a smaller children’s table and chairs which my mother had specially made for my boys. It doesn’t provide enough room for our studies so we use it as a dedicated coloring station. I have this awesome roll of paper dispenser which is bladeless for the kids to draw on. I give them each a pail of crayons and they have fun drawing away.

Where to Buy

Tall Bookcase & Filing Cabinet

our homeschool room tour

We use an old filing cabinet for a lot of my teaching materials including teachers manuals, sensory bin fillers, file folders, worksheets and other things we want put away from the kids. We have a globe which the kids absolutely love! It has been such a great learning tool! I’ll go through the bookcase with more detail.

our homeschool room tour

On the Top

Up at the top, I keep bins for Art, Colors, and Language. The art bin contains things like paints, glitter, etc. I keep these things up high so that the kids can’t get into them and potentially spill them on the rug. In the colors bin, I keep colorful counters that we use for math and color sorting as well as other color-related activities. Lastly, I have a tub labeled “language.” In this bin, I keep different kinds of letter related activities.

On the second shelf, I have some awesome picture vocabulary photo cards I bought from Lakeshore learning. I keep extra boxes of pencils and erasers. I keep dot markers in a glass container. Also, I have two photo boxes (purchased at Michaels) that are full of all kinds of math activities and learning items like play money, shapes, etc.

Middle Shelves

Shelves

On the Middle shelves I have a storage container with drawers. These are similar to what you might use as an organizer in your garage for nuts, bolts, and screws. Originally, I used this for language. I had letters of the alphabet on each of the drawers and inside the drawers I put objects that started with that word. For example, the letter ‘C’ drawer had things like a candle, cotton, candy, coins, a car, a crayon, and a cardinal. You get the idea. After my kids outgrew this, I use it to store small parts that we use for homeschooling. We use TOOB figures in our learning all the time. For example, when we learned about Egypt, I bought some TOOB Egyptian figures. We learned what everything was called and then we pretended to excavate them in kinetic sand. So much fun!

The decorative boxes are just filled with miscellanies like flash cards, lacing cards and other things. The decorative boxes were purchased at Michaels craft stores.

Bottom Shelves

Our homeschool room tour

The last shelves have some miscellanies. I have a nautical tote filed with felt activity books (quiet busy books). We use these for quiet playtime during the day. I promptly put them away after using so that we don’t lose pieces. In the magazine holders, I have activity books organized by grade level.

On the bottom, I have file boxes. In these boxes are 180 manila file folders. They represent 180 school days. Each one labeled with a day (e.g. Day 1, Day 2, etc) I organize the kid’s schoolwork into these folders. Once we get through all 180 folders we are done for the year.

Where to Buy

Thanks for joining our homeschool room tour

Thank you for joining me on our homeschool room tour. I hope I’ve given you an insight as to how we stay organized all year. If you have questions about anything, I am happy to answer them. Just leave me a question in the comments and I’ll answer.

Quarantine Journal Prompts

If you are struggling to make sense of quarantine, why not work through those tough emotions in a journal. Here are twenty-five quarantine journal prompts for deep reflection.

Quarantine Journal Prompts

Are you as baffled as me about what has happened this year? This time last year we were facing job loss and doing through those struggles. By September our lives had quieted down. I can’t even imagine explaining this to my past self from a year ago. It is surreal to think about where we are right now. Like most people, I have some pretty strong, complex emotions about all kinds of topics surrounding quarantine. So that got me thinking that it might be beneficial to work through some of the emotions and even logical reactions I’ve had to some of this quarantine business. I felt better after having journaled about these things. Maybe you will as well.

For me, the hardest thing about quarantine was not seeing my parents and my family. It was very hard to be away from them particularly when it came time to celebrate birthdays. But it also made me appreciate how important it is to have meaningful relationships. For example, although I am very grateful that we had Zoom and social media platforms to use as a lifeline for social interaction, it also made me realize just how valuable the human social experience really is. I promised myself that when this started to settle down, I would stop relying on social media to make me feel connected to others. The truth is, it doesn’t. In fact, it provides only the illusion of connection. Seeing what someone had for lunch or where they went on vacation does nothing to bond with another person. In fact, some research suggests that this actually creates the fear of missing out and even emotions of jealousy. Today, I decided to take a break from Facebook in lieu of more personal connections. I plan on taking about a month-long break and see where it leads me. If you’d like to take a break from social media, be sure to read my other posts Living Without Likes and Social Media Detox.

Has Social Media Become the New Journaling?

I also needed a break from opinions. I am as opinionated as the next person, but scrolling through my Facebook feed was beginning to feel like a constant heated debate or like watching a 24-hr news cycle. It was just exhausting me mentally and emotionally. One thing I have noticed is just how polarizing opinions are when it comes to quarantine. I have seen blatant disrespect and sanctimony on both sides of the argument.

Some citizens are concerned that basic rights are being stripped away under the guise of “protecting us.” Others are concerned that the virus is deadlier than the government officials report. There is evidence that suggests news outlets are being less than honest about a wide range of information. There are real, intense emotions that come with isolation, job loss, and death. Regardless, of how you feel about these things, I want to challenge you to perhaps try reflecting and processing some of these thoughts in a journal and not on a social media platform.

Trying Taking Opinions Offline

I’m not saying you shouldn’t express your opinion publicly. But I do think that it is healthier and less damaging to relationships to first work through (and perhaps release) your emotion to a journal which is benign instead of your friend’s newsfeed. Honestly, that is probably one of my biggest pet peeves about Facebook. Many people use it to express every thought they have almost like a journal and it is very hard to take words back once they are published publicly.

I think as we work through emotions our views may even evolve. I know I felt one way in March and differently in May. However, this process is interrupted when we do this online. People challenge us, criticize us, and condemn us, for our viewpoints which then causes us to defend our position. This defensiveness then stops us from challenging our own perceptions and arguments because we go into defense mode.

Either way, I think that the events around COVID-19 and quarantine have been unlike other events. Take some time and express how you feel and what you think without the consequences of personal attacks.

Quarantine Journal Prompts

  1. How has quarantine changed your world view?
  2. What can you learn from this experience?
  3. Describe three quarantine memories.
  4. How do you feel about things reopening?
  5. What was the hardest thing about quarantine?
  6. How am I connecting with friends and family right now?
  7. How has quarantine made you more grateful?
  8. What are you afraid of right now?
  9. Will you continue to practice social distancing? Why or why not?
  10. Where have you seen the good in people during this?
  11. Looking back, do you feel like quarantine was necessary?
  12. What did an average day in quarantine look like?
  13. What is one thing you wish the world would learn from this?
  14. How has social media affected your attitude during quarantine?
  15. How will you describe this event to future generations?
  16. Describe what you will do when this is over?
  17. What gives you hope about this situation?
  18. Write down some positive plans or goals for the future.
  19. How do you feel about the political landscape right now?
  20. Did anyone you know become sick with coronavirus? What was that experience like?
  21. If you had been President of the United States, how would you have handled the situation?
  22. What were your initial feelings about Coronavirus during January and February? How have your feelings evolved?
  23. How do you feel about China’s handling of the virus?
  24. Describe any self-discovery you experienced.
  25. How have you been financially affected by the pandemic?

Other Journaling Prompts

Before you leave, be sure to take a look at some of my other journaling prompts.

Read My Latest Posts

Our Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum

Are you looking for some curriculum recommendations? Here are our Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum choices as we start schooling at home this Fall.

our kindergarten homeschool curriculum
This post contains affiliate links. Should you make a purchase through one of the links I provide, I may receive a small percentage at no cost to you. Thank you for your support.

I have been asked by numerous friends and family about our curriculum choices for Kindergarten. I am certainly happy to share what we have decided to use. First, let me share the tool that really helped us make some decisions. This book has been a Godsend to me. It is a handbook of sorts for homeschooling families. In fact, I’ve included it before as a must-read homeschooling book in my post 4 Books You Need to Read Before Homeschooling.

The resource is Duffy’s Homeschool Picks. In this comprehensive book, Duffy provides a questionnaire to help narrow down the homeschooling method that is right for you and your family. (You can read more about homeschooling methods in my post Homeschooling Methods Explained) Then, she provides information on how to determine how what kind of learner your child is. For instance, some students may be tactile learners (hands-on), visual or etc. Some children prefer to work independently, while others need instructor-led education. Some families prefer textbooks, while others want an online experience. This book helps to determine those choices and ranks curriculum based on those needs so you understand which material will be a good fit. The book also provides a thorough review of each of the curriculum choices including the time intensity of the program, other materials that might be needed, and cost.

You can purchase Duffy’s Homeschool Picks through the affiliate links below. You may also purchase it through her website, Cathy Duffy Homeschool Reviews. I think the book is easier to navigate than the website and provides more handholding when choosing a curriculum, but the website is also a wonderful curriculum source.

Lastly, when it comes to choosing which subjects you are going to teach, understand that some states may have specific requirements. So, don’t forget to look up your state’s requirements first.

Where to Buy Curriculum

First, all publishers of the curriculum have their own websites with information and links on where you may purchase curriculum. However, my favorite shopping source is Rainbow Resource. Even though they are a smaller company they have one of the largest selections. They carry about 40,000 educational resources all geared towards homeschooling. You can purchase online, but they also provide (for the asking) paper catalogs that you can browse through.

Homeschool Buyers Co-Op is another good source for curriculum. They run sales often and even provide teacher and student IDs for your homeschool for about $5. As a co-op, they have big discounts on lots of curriculum. You can also find curriculum on Amazon, Christian Book, and The Curriculum Store. You can even buy used curriculum in Buy/Sell Homeschool Groups on Facebook.

Our Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum

Social Studies / History

Most kindergarten curriculum does not include social studies or history at this age. However, even at the preschool age, I introduced my son to Egyptology. He is fascinated by The Great Sphinx. Jack can name things like a cartouche, sarcophagus, canopic jar, and hieroglyphics. He can even recognize the images of Pharaoh, King Tut, and Nefertiti. We talked about the four directions (the points on a compass). I taught him how to find our city, state, and country on a globe. We’ve also talked extensively about our Apache heritage. My point is that even though they are young, your child may enjoy social studies and history. Most children don’t really start this until the elementary years, but since our son has expressed interest and we are history lovers ourselves, we have introduced it earlier. You certainly do not need to include this in your homeschooling unless your state requires it.

We are using 180 Days of Social Studies. I plan on using this workbook for regular social studies lessons. Additionally, I plan to supplement some fun field trips to museums and historic sites here locally. The social studies workbook has 180 days of lessons which is the average length of a school year.

The social studies workbook introduces concepts like civics, economics, and history. I admit that I don’t like that these books are in black and white. The lessons are also very simple. I would prefer something more comprehensive, but there aren’t a lot of choices at this age so I’m willing to use this for now to at least introduce the subject matter. I’m sure in first grade I will find something more in-depth.

We are also using DK Geography Workbook. The geography book covers topics like how to read maps, our community, landscapes, and spatial skills. The workbook itself is fairly short (only about 40 lessons) so I will combine it with the social studies.

Math

Math is a scary subject for me. Perhaps because I’ve come to realize that it’s very easy to fall behind and then stay behind. So far, Jack has done very well learning things like counting to 100, number recognition, etc. I think that he may need some visual and hands-on work as we start to introduce additional math concepts to him in Kindergarten. So I found a program that is both Classical-friendly and also has some tactile learning, Horizon’s Math. The set includes two workbooks and a teacher’s manual. The lessons include directions and positions, introducing simple fractions, time, days of the week, money values, adding and subtracting single digits, etc. The other nice thing about Horizons is that they have done the lesson planning for you into 180 lessons. So far I am very pleased with this curriculum. Aside from the workbook, the teacher’s manual provides additional games and activities you can do with your child to cement concepts.

In addition to the curriculum, we use these math manipulatives and math counters so that our children can visualize addition and subtraction. We also use dominoes which is a great way for children to learn patterns and visualize numbers in the dots as well.

Horizon Math

Handwriting

Jack is struggling with handwriting. He hates coloring and using a pencil. Honestly, it has been a frustrating experience for both of us. Because he laments doing anything that requires writing, we had been more focused on pre-writing skills. We’ve been doing lots of things that don’t feel like handwriting practice, like salt writing, tracing, looping, etc. After lots of discussions with teachers and hours of research, we are going to be using Handwriting Without Tears. This program seems to be one of the better ones for resistant learners. Hopefully, this will help us break through some of the frustration. HWT is a workbook based writing program but includes multisensory learning. It has leveled books and a teacher’s manual. Wish us luck!

UPDATE: We’ve been using Handwriting Without Tears and we have a completely different child! After four weeks of using the program, Jack is writing! He loves it. We had tried other programs during pre-k, but none of them managed to break through his resistance to it. I can’t even begin to explain my love for this program. It is quick and easy and it has made writing fun for Jack. I will tell you one thing that really helped was using the program’s chalkboard in addition to the workbook. He wants to do handwriting first before other subjects every day. The blackboard isn’t currently available on Amazon. You can buy it through Christian Book below.

Blackboard with Double Lines (Grades Pre-K – 4+)

our kindergarten curriculum

Phonics and Reading

So far, choosing a Phonics program has been one of the hardest things I’ve researched. There are so many choices out there that claim to be the best. Dyslexia runs in my family, so naturally, I am concerned about that with Jack. I do think that Jack needs a program that is fun and engaging. We are starting with Hooked On Phonics. One of the main reasons we are choosing it is because my brothers and I used it to read when we were children, so obviously, it’s been around for a while. It tried and true. There are two levels for every grade and you can buy them individually. The levels are about $26 each so it also one of the more reasonable programs out there. I figured we can try it and if it doesn’t work out, we haven’t invested much.

Since we are classical homeschoolers, we focus heavily on reading. Here is our fiction reading list. We will also be reading lots of other books that are about science, notable people, places, and other things, but here are our storytime books. I’ve included them in the post, Classical Books for Kindergarteners. We are getting most of them through the library and used book sources.

We are also playing a fun phonics game called, Launch and Learn: Beginning Sounds from Lakeshore. This really isn’t part of our curriculum. It’s just something we can do as a family, helps reinforce phonics and doesn’t feel like learning! It’s not available through Amazon and is only available on the Lakeshore website.

Bible Study

Our Bible Study is simply consisting of reading stories from The Complete Children’s Illustrated Bible. This bible is in full color and has beautiful illustrations on every page. One thing I love about this particular bible is that it does not omit stories that other children’s bibles do. For instance, in the Moses story, it plainly says that the Egyptians drowned when God closed the Red Sea. It does not water down Cain murdering his brother Abel or the killing of the firstborns by Pharaoh. Nor does it leave out Sodom and Gomorrah. It does however, leave out the Song of Solomon. I love that even though it is in story-form for young readers, it still is very complete.

We are reading 2-4 pages per day. Since a great deal of the pages are illustrations, it is a very quick read. In addition to reading Bible stories, we will also be singing some praise songs, hymns, and children’s Christian songs.

Science

You may find that Science is hard to come by at the Kindergarten level. Most children begin learning Science in first grade. I did not include Science in my original version of this post because we were still trying to find resources. My husband, who is a chemical engineer is excited to help with our Science class. Here are the resources we are using.

First, we are using a DK workbook. We only do one or two lessons per week. The DK workbooks are very simple and not very colorful, but there isn’t a whole lot out there at this age. It does introduce basic concepts like botany, light, the five senses, states of matter, etc. I often expound on the lesson with experiments or observations. I was going to use Berean Builders but decided to use that in the first grade instead. We also have a simple Kindergarten science lab kit to conduct kitchen experiments. My son loves to wear the lab coat when we conduct our experiments. Then we purchased two books, Awesome Kitchen Science Experiments for Kids and Awesome Science Experiments for Kids, to do our kitchen experiments. So far he is loving it!

science experiment

Supplements

Melissa and Doug Learning Clock

I never considered how confusing it is to explain the concept of time to a five-year-old. Seconds, minutes, hours. The 7 represents both a 7 and 35. The 12 is a 12, 60, and a 00. This learning clock by Melissa and Doug has been awesome. We bought it in May this year and it has totally helped him under the concepts better and he’s doing fantastic so far telling time. First, we worked on learning 5-minute increments along with the hour. After being fluent in that, we will then introduce how to read the precise minute. Then we will introduce quarter and half-hours. This clock comes with flashcards to practice. It has been so helpful! In just the first week of owning it, my son finally understood what I had been trying to explain for months.

learning clock

Play Money

This past year we started to implement a small allowance for my oldest in exchange for doing household chores. It’s important to us that he learns the value of money and delayed gratification when it comes to buying things. That said, it dawned on me that he had no concept of the worth of money, so I decided to dedicate some time to learning about money. Sure, we played “store.” He understood the concept of money being exchanged for goods and services, but it was time to learn how to count money. So, I purchased some realistic play money to be used in our math studies.

Calendar

We learned about seasons and weather in preschool. Now in Kindergarten, I am requesting that Jack use this Melissa and Doug calendar at the start of our homeschool day.

Music and Arts & Crafts

We will incorporate arts and craft times throughout the week. I find hobby stores have lots of seasonal crafts that are fun as well as coloring and painting.

Over the last couple of years. Jack already knows some musical terms like piano, pianissimo, crescendo, accelerando, forte and fortissimo. We will continue to introduce and add more musical terms and we will listen to one piece of classical music a day. Jack already loves several pieces by Verdi and Peer Gynt “In The Hall of the Mountain King.”

That’s it. If you have questions about curriculum or homeschooling, feel free to ask them in the comments section. If this is your first year of homeschooling, try not to stress too much about it. Homeschooling is a journey and there is a lot of trial and error as you find your way. You can find me on Instagram where I share our homeschool day and activities.

Blessings,

Mary

Classical Books for Kindergarteners

Introduce your child to the joy of reading classical literature. Here is a list of classical books for kindergarteners for homeschooling or reading pleasure.

classical books for kindergarten
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Classical books are some of the greatest teaching tools for your children. When you introduce a child to reading, you introduce them to a vivid imagination, new vocabulary, and novel concepts. Classical books that stand the test of time in regards to storytelling, subject matter, and quality. As a classical homeschooler, we focus heavily on Classical literature. But even if your child is public schooled, I encourage you to read classic books.

Many classic books are more conservative than their contemporary counterparts, thus preserving your child’s innocence. Also, classical literature typically contains richer vocabulary than most modern books which are full of modern colloquiums. Classic books also offer a different perspective of history and the world, which brings me to my next point.

Classical Literature For a Lifetime

Starting the habit of reading classical literature can foster a love of classical reading for a lifetime. I was very blessed that my mother read all the books I’m about to share below. As I grew, my love of books continued well into my teenage years and remained a cornerstone of my classical education. As your child develops and matures, continue adding age-appropriate classics. For example, as a pre-teen, I loved reading Jane Austin, Bronte, Mark Twain, Edgar Allen Poe, Arthur Rimbaud, and James Fenimore Cooper. By high school, I was reading books like The Devine Comedy (Dante), Paradise Lost (Milton), War and Peace, and In Cold Blood (Capote) and The Count of Monte Cristo. As a young adult under twenty, I read 1984 (Orwell), Animal Farm (Orwell), Atlas Shrugged (Rand), Crime and Punishment (Dostoevsky), The Canterbury Tales (Chaucer) and The Prince (Machiavelli).

I am certain of how introducing reading early, particularly classical literature and poetry, can cement a fondness for it that lasts a lifetime. I absolutely attribute my love of books to my mother, who read to us every day as children. Most people are surprised to learn I have dyslexia. Although reading and writing requires more concentration for me than for others, I’ve always enjoyed reading. Perhaps in a future post, I’ll compile a list of classical books for adults.

Classical Literature for Children

Although this list is long, you needn’t worry about buying every book. Public libraries are a great resource for classics. Some libraries offer the ability to order books from other branches if it isn’t available at your branch. Many libraries even have their catalogs online, so you can see if your public library carries it. Some even allow you to reserve copies online. Half Price Books, ABE Books, and other used book stores are also a great resource.

If you can only afford a few books, I recommend investing in Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Aesops Fables, Greek Mythology, and Hans Christian Andersen Fairy Tales. You will see that so many of the great stories we come to know as children originate from these books. You can find illustrated versions of these books at Amazon and other book retailers. Here are some examples of the stories you can find in those treasuries.

Famous Tales by Hans Christian Anderson

  • The Emperor’s New Clothes
  • The Little Mermaid
  • The Princess and the Pea
  • The Snow Queen (you know it as Disney’s Frozen)
  • The Ugly Duckling
  • Thumbelina
  • The Tinder Box (The Pied Piper)

Famous Grimm’s Fairy Tales

  • The Twelve Brothers
  • Rapunzel
  • Hansel and Gretel
  • The Fisherman and His Wife
  • Cinderella
  • Little Red Riding Hood
  • The Bremen Town Musicians
  • The Shoemaker and the Elves
  • Thumbling Travels (Tom Thumb)
  • Briar Rose (Sleeping Beauty)
  • Snow White
  • Rumpelstiltskin
  • The Golden Goose
  • The Twelve Huntsman
  • The Wolf and the Fox
Photo by Kelli McClintock on Unsplash

Benefits of Reading to Children

Reading is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your child. Just take a look at some of the benefits your child receives by daily reading.

  • The sound of your voice is calming to your child
  • It models proper diction and enunciation
  • Increases their vocabulary
  • Showing your child the text improves letter and word recognition
  • Promotes a longer attention span
  • Books teach about morals, situations, personalities, emotions, and relationships.
  • Helps to reinforce parental bonds and quality time
  • Fosters imagination
  • Raises IQ level

Classical Books for Kindergarteners

I really hope that this list of classical books for kindergarteners helps you and perhaps even challenges you to read more classics with your child. I know it will be a great experience for both of you! In the comments below, I would love to hear what your favorite book was growing up.

Easy Chicken Tetrazzini

Today I’m going to share my favorite dish to use up leftover chicken, easy chicken tetrazzini, a creamy cheesy casserole that is easy to whip up for a weeknight dinner

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I stumbled across this dish nearly two decades ago. When I first started making it, I learned that chicken tetrazzini was a casserole dish from the turn of the century. Some say it dates back all the way to 1908. You might think it is an Italian dish because of the name and the fact that it has pasta, but it isn’t. It was actually named after turn-of-the-century opera Luisa Tetrazzini.

Making Chicken Tetrazzini

It was very popular in the 1940s and 1950s as a staple casserole dish. In my household, it has become one of our beloved family favorites, not just because of the delicious creamy taste, but because it is a wonderful way to use leftover chicken. I also go to this recipe if I don’t have enough chicken to make it a main course. This recipe stretches a few breasts out enough to feed a family.

Apparently, that’s why it grew in popularity. During the Great Depression, it was used to make the most of the little meat families had. Housewives also used whatever pasta they had on hand. That’s why you see it with all kinds of pasta like spaghetti, broad egg noodles, linguine, even penne, and elbow macaroni. In fact, many people even use the recipe to make turkey tetrazzini with leftover turkey. I almost always do this after Thanksgiving. During the 1940’s and 1950’s some housewives even used canned tuna along with whatever cheese they had on hand. Tetrazzini is a truly versatile dish.

It may surprise you to learn that there is no universal standard recipe for tetrazzini. It was kind of a first throw-down recipe of sorts. Earlier recipes are slightly more complicated than what I will share today. Early recipes call for sautéing your own fresh mushrooms and then creating a cream sauce with heavy whipping cream, butter, white wine or sherry, meat stock, and cheese. However, thanks to the 1950’s housewife, she used a more convenient method of using Cambell’s Cream of Mushroom and Cream of Chicken condensed soups to quicken this recipe and that is what I am going to show you today – easy chicken tetrazzini.

Roasted chicken
Courtesy of Unsplash

Start by shredding your chicken while your pasta boils. If you prefer, you can slice your chicken or meat into bite-sized chunks. Once your pasta is drained, add it to a large bowl, combine your cans of cream of chicken soup and cream of mushroom soup. Add milk, half and half, or cream. If you are using cream you need about a cup of cream. If using half and half or milk, you can use about a half cup or change until you reach your desired consistency. We like ours extra creamy and rich. If you don’t care for such a heavy sauce, you can dilute with more milk. If you don’t have milk, you can substitute a half cup of meat stock to dilute.

You’ll add in your cheese to the cream sauce. I reserve half for spreading on top. As I mentioned earlier, housewives used whatever cheese they had on hand. I prefer parmesan because it adds a lot of flavor. But I’ve used Mozzarella, Monterrey Jack, Colby Jack, Cheddar and various combinations of cheese. Some people also like to put a topping on the top. Like toasted breadcrumbs, crunchy cornflakes or fried onions like a green bean casserole. I, however, don’t do that, although you can if you want. You may notice, I’ve omitted any salt from the recipe. That’s because there is plenty of sodium in the condensed soups and cheese. So I suggest tasting before you add any salt on your own.

Easy Chicken Tetrazzini

Al dente noodles and chicken are smothered in a creamy, cheesy sauce in this easy casserole.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 45 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 6

Ingredients
  

  • 2-3 Large Chicken Breasts, Cooked Shredded
  • 1 ½ Cups Shredded Parmesan or other cheese Divided (two 3/4 cups)
  • 1 10.5 oz Can of Cream of Chicken Soup Preferably Campbell's
  • 1 10.5 oz Can of Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • ½ Lbs Spaghetti or other pasta
  • 1 Cup Heavy cream or half and half (or milk for a lighter sauce)
  • 2 Tbsp Fresh Parsley, finely chopped (Optional)

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 375°
  • Cook pasta according to the package instructions
  • While pasta is cooking, shred cooked chicken into a large mixing bowl.
  • Add one can of cream of chicken condensed soup, one can of cream of mushroom soup and cream or milk. Stir well to combine.
  • When pasta is cooked, drain well, and combine with cream sauce.
  • Add half of the divided cheese into the pasta mixture and combine well.
  • Transfer pasta to a deep casserole or baking dish.
  • Spread remaining cheese on top and bake at 375 for 30 to 40 minutes or until it is bubbly and cheese is golden.
  • Garnish with chopped parsley before serving.
Keyword chicken, chicken breast, chicken casserole, easy casserole, easy recipe, family favorite, leftovers, pasta, weeknight dinner
chicken tetrazzini

Serving and Storing Chicken Tetrazzini

Chicken Tetrazzini is a heavy dish, so I like to serve with a garden salad or other green like roasted asparagus or green beans. If you have leftovers, chicken tetrazzini will keep in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. You can microwave it or warm it in the oven to reheat it. I have never tried freezing it, although pasta normally freezes okay if placed in a good quality container to protect it from freezer burn. Also, I’d probably allow some room in the container since cream tends to expand when frozen. As I said, I’ve never tried freezing it, so let me know in the comments if you try it.

chicken tetrazzini

Thank you for joining me for this recipe. I know you will enjoy it. Over the years, I’ve really grown to enjoy using older recipes because they are tried and true and women knew how to feed a large family and provide comforting home-cooked meals every day. If you are fond of casseroles, be sure to check out my Bacon Cheeseburger Casserole and Baked Ziti.