Are you trying to decide what homeschool curriculum to use? Today I’m sharing our first grade homeschool curriculum for classical homeschooling.
Hey there, friends. It is hard to believe that we are done with this school year. I don’t know about you, but our homeschool year went by in a blur. I always get lots of questions regarding the homeschool curriculum we are using. If you are new to homeschooling, you may want to take a look at my posts, How to Start Homeschooling and Homeschooling Methods Explained to see what kind of method you would like to use with your children. We definitely prefer classical education as that is how I was homeschooled.
If you are looking for our previous years you can find them in the posts. Our Preschool Homeschool Curriculum and Our Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum. Today I’ll be sharing our homeschool curriculum for first grade. I am still waiting on a few backordered things to arrive, so I will update this post with additional photos once they come in. Thanks for being patient with me.
For Kindergarten, my son used Horizon’s Math and he absolutely loves Math because of it. I personally cannot say enough good things about Horizons. I had considered using the Math You See, but it looked like a ton of prep work. Saxon Math, though it had a lot of rigor, seemed like extremely dry course work. Horizons is the perfect compromise. There is very little prep work for parents. Horizons uses a set of two student workbooks (teacher’s manual also available). The first-grade curriculum is very similar. It contains two workbooks and a teacher’s manual. The first-grade curriculum focuses on the following areas:
Units of Measurement (Dozen, Pound, Ounces, Pint, Quart, Gallon, etc.)
We saw amazing success with the Kindergarten curriculum. I was surprised that in the Kindergarten books, they were al rv,ygfgdggvxbd vuynobukmb jkoiiiio kbk bioready introducing algebraic concepts with addition. My son did so well with it, he started doing multiplication and square roots on his own! Math has become his favorite subject. I will absolutely advocate for you to buy some manipulative. Manipulatives were also a huge part of our success. Manipulatives help children visualize the math and turn it into a practical exercise. Using the blocks has really helped my son do mental math.
I highly recommend purchasing the teachers manual. The manual will help you plan out your lessons as well as provide hands-on, fun activities to teach the lesson. It will also provide additional explanations or exercises for the struggling learner. It also provides ways to make sure your child understands the concepts before moving on.
Where to Purchase
You can purchase Horizons Math through Amazon or Christian Book. It is currently cheaper on ChristianBook (links below)
Build a strong foundation for math learning with this balanced, well-organized first grade curriculum! Using a spiral-based approach, 160 brightly illustrated daily lessons follow a pattern of introduction, reinforcement, and repetition to ensure thorough understanding of counting, addition, subtraction, time, and other concepts. Includes two student workbooks; teacher’s guide with answer keys, tips, and activity ideas; lesson plans; and reproducible work sheets. From Alpha Omega Publications.
This year we are using Science in History series by Berean Builders. Every lesson has a hands-on activity which is great for tactile learners who learn best by doing. This series is compatible with classical, traditional, and Charlotte Mason methods. One very interesting aspect of the particular curriculum is that it is in chronological order from the early days of creation through discoveries and inventions, to our modern world.
Another unique aspect is that this curriculum isn’t designated into grade levels, rather mastery levels. For example, in the first series Science in the Beginning, the course work is separated by younger students, older students, and oldest students. This is wonderful if you are teaching multiple grade levels because you can teach all your children with the same curriculum. Younger students like kindergarten and first graders are given comprehension questions rather than written work. Also, once you buy the full curriculum, you can use it from Kindergarten to sixth grade.
I do want to clarify that this curriculum teaches Science from a Christian worldview. If you are non-religious and want secular Science, this curriculum is not for you as a Christian worldview is often discussed.
Because this curriculum is hands-on, there are experiments with nearly every lesson. Most of the experiments use everyday household items. However, since we plan on moving this year, I don’t want to have to worry about sourcing those things, so I purchased the lab kit which provides it all for you. The lab kit is only available on Christian Book and not on Amazon.
Where to Purchase
Berean Builders is available on both Amazon and Christian Book. Links for both below.
Science in the Beginning is an engaging, exciting, hands-on, multilevel elementary resource that is the first in a planned series of books by Dr. Jay Wile.
Introducing scientific concepts in the context of history, the days of creation are used as a structure through which a wide variety of scientific topics are introduced, including: light, energy conservation, air & water, botany, the solar system, zoology, and some aspects of human anatomy and physiology.
A total of 90 lessons are included; 15 for every creative day in the Genesis account. The first 12 are “normal” lessons and the last 3 are challenge lessons. Depending on how much science you wish to teach in your homeschool, there are enough lessons to cover every other day for the length of a school year, or, you can finish the book by only doing two lessons a week (and skipping the challenge lessons).
Students will love the hands-on activity that begins each lesson. Most are experiments (that have been field-tested for homeschoolers!), and include step by step directions to keep you on track. As this curriculum was designed for all elementary-aged students to use together, the main lesson text takes a conversational, easy-to-read tone that all students can comprehend; illustrations and photographs are integrated throughout. Review assignments close the lesson; questions are grouped for “youngest, older, and oldest” students. Students are instructed to keep a notebook, and the activities include both drawing and writing type notebook assignments. For evaluation, the notebook or oral questions can be used; tests are not included, but are in the Helps & Hints book (sold-separately).
Experiments use common household goods, though for some items that may not be on-hand, a list is provided at the beginning of the book. A full materials list for each creation-day chapter is also included for easy preparation.
299 pages with glossary and index. Hardcover. Elementary Grades K-6.
I had a very hard time choosing history. I liked Story of the World, but I heard a lot of reviews from Christian parents who didn’t care for a lot of the course work. It seems many parents were concerned about the emphasis on pagan religions. Children need knowledge of other religions, but typically this is introduced at a much later age once children are first grounded in the faith.
Ultimately, I ended up choosing Bede’s History of the US by Veritas Press. The is a very simple book that doesn’t go too in depth. I’m fine with that because I am going to be heavily focused on reading, phonics, spelling, and math. Each lesson is only two pages and the book is about 74 pages total. There are a few hands-on projects throughout the study and the book is in full color. Each lesson provides a very basic introduction of a social study concept.
The book opens with with the creation story as the very first history lesson. From there, it goes on to US relevant events. Some of the topics are The Civil War, Lewis and Clark, Pocahontas, Native Americans, The Wild West, history of inventions, Jazz, flight, immigration, the great awakening, the history of hymns as well as some art and music history.
Bede, the adorable ball of yarn with googly eyes, is a timeline. This cute character introduces young children to the basics events of American history in a fun, once-a-week lesson that emphasis what happened when. Chapters are written directly to children in a child-friendly font, with simple activities that involve drawing, lapbooking, and hands-on activities. Topics cover the breadth of American history including Pocahontas, Lewis & Clark, Lincoln, Jazz, Immigration, flight, Reagan, and more. 83 pages with cut-out activity pages in the back, softcover. Grade 1.
Reading has been quite the challenge for us. Jack started off really well in Kinder, but quickly lost steam during the second quarter of the year. We limped through the rest of the year. While my mother-in-law was here (she was an middle school English teacher for 20+ years), we talked to her about Jack. She stated that we should switch up the curriculum and try something different. So over the summer we added First Start Reading to our curriculum and we will continue that to help him with his reading.
A wonderful introduction to early language arts skills, First Start Reading covers consonants, short & long vowels, common words, and manuscript printing. Simple, effective, and reasonable, this enjoyable curriculum accompanies the lessons with artist-drawn coloring pictures and drawing pages for every letter. Your child will begin reading in the very first lesson as he or she progresses through five student books and two teacher’s guides.
The teacher’s manual will guide you through the program; reduced student pages are prominently placed at the top of the page; beneath, a scripted introduction and lesson are provided, incorporating letter names and sounds, ear training, letter formation with pencil checks, blendings, workbook exercises, reading comprehension questions, and other applicable exercises.
Workbook A features coloring pages with items with the same beginning letter as the accompanying handwriting page; students trace letters and can draw their own picture. Short stories are included in the back (with room to again draw a picture), and a word mastery list is provided.
Workbook B includes the letter pages, short stories, and word mastery list, as well as room to write in dictation exercises
Workbook C features handwriting practice that focuses more on words, longer stories, and a word mastery list.
Workbook D covers CVC common words, final consonant blends, and completing words.
Workbook D covers CVC common words, final consonant blends, and completing words.
Workbook E covers long vowel teams, soft c and g and the three sounds of y.
This Kit Includes:
Teacher Guide A-D, 327 pages, softcover, with blackline masters
Teacher Guide E, 80 pages, softcover.
Workbook A, 68 pages, softcover.
Workbook B, 76 pages, softcover.
Workbook C, 106 pages, softcover.
Workbook D, 72 pages, softcover.
Workbook E, 80 pages, softcover.
For Spelling we are using Traditional Spelling by Memoria Press. The student will have ten new spelling words once a week. Each day of the week, there is an exercise for your child to complete. The exercises include finding rhyming words, counting syllables, and focusing on short and long vowels. The will have four days of lessons. You can purchase additional practice sheets if needed or you can simply choose to have your child practice the words as homework. On Friday, you child will have a spelling exam. Both the teachers manual and the student workbook are coil-bound books.
The Traditional Spelling series from Memoria Press is a comprehensive, mastery-based phonetic approach to teaching spelling!
Each lesson of Traditional Spelling I has a four-page spread of written activities in the student book; at the beginning of each lesson students are given a word list that aligns with a phonics focus. The main focus of each lesson is on the phonograms being taught, but all aspects of each word are addressed. In each lesson, students identify consonants and consonant teams/blends with one colored pencil, and vowels and vowel teams with another. This aids in visualization of each word and its phonetic chunks, and makes students better decoders as they begin to see patterns in words. Students will also use different colored pencils to outline or mark different parts of the word. Word-Bank exercises, room to record dictation exercises, and a short story that utilizes that week’s spelling words are also included.
This course was designed to be the culmination of the Memoria Press Primary Reading & Phonics program. It is designed to follow completion of the Memoria Press Kindergarten Curriculum or First Start Reading Books A-D, which ensure students have mastered reading “consonant-vowel-consonant” words with short vowels. It can also be paired with StoryTime and More StoryTime Treasures in first grade, or with the literature study guides in second grade.
146 pages with glossary, softcover spiralbound. 34 Lessons. Grade 1.
This set of practice sheets is a supplemental resource designed to be used in conjunction with the Memoria Press “Traditional Spelling I” curriculum. It includes room for students to copy each word in the lesson twice. 37 pages, softcover. Consumable and non-reproducible.
This teacher’s guide is designed to be used with the Traditional Spelling I Student Book (sold-separately). It includes reduced-size student pages with overlaid answers and notes to the teacher in the margins. Lessons include an introduction and a day-by-day teaching overview with instructions on integrating the Memoria Press Phonics Flashcards and Classical Phonics (both sold-separately and both required to use this curriculum). Activities and instructions for guided student work are also provided. 179 pages, softcover and spiralbound.
Jack still struggles a little with handwriting, but compared to where he was a year ago he has made tremendous strides. Handwriting without Tears was the program that helped Jack break through his hatred of handwriting. He still a little reluctant, but he has come so far in such a short time. This year, we will continue with the program which includes three books
My Printing Book: Workbook were student will practice word drills
Writing Journal: Workbook for writing stories or paragraphs.
Building Writers: Workbook for child to start writing complete sentences
We also use the student chalk board for practicing.
This workbook is designed to be used alongside the My Printing Book Teacher’s Guide (not included and sold-separately), which contains the lessons and directions. Lessons emphasize the correct use of lowercase letters in words and sentences and teach writing on different styles of lines. In addition, activity pages combine handwriting instruction with other language arts skills.
This curriculum can be supplemented with the wood pieces set for capital letters, capital letter cards and mat for wood pieces, Rock, Rap, Tap & Learn CD, Magic C Bunny, slate chalkboard and blackboard with double lines, slate chalkboard, Flip Crayons, and Pencils for Little Hands.
This edition features more expanded room for writing, accelerated capital letter instruction, and more opportunities for practical application of handwriting skills.
94 pages, softcover. Page are reproducible for a single child only; copies cannot be made for other children other than the child the workbook was purchased for.
The Learning without Tears Building Writers composition workbook series offers extra practice for developing writing skills. Students become better, more fluent writers as they write about cross-curricular topics and practice narrative, information, and opinion-based writing styles. Simple black-and-white illustrations are paired with age-appropriate writing prompts that ask students to write facts about animals, to write a story, write an opinion essay, copy sentences, and more. 86 pages, softcover. Consumable workbook; pages are reproducible for one child only. Level B is for Grade 1.
Building Writers B covers the following skills:
Narrative: writing a story in order with details and an ending
Information: writing topic sentences, facts about their topic, and an ending
Opinion: writing an introduction that states their opinion, reasons that support their opinion, and a conclusion
This journal is designed to be used with the Handwriting without Tears Yellow Level B/Grade 1 “My Printing Book” resources. This journal is appropriate for first grade students and provides a place for strengthening handwriting and creative writing skills during independent writing time. It includes regular double lines plus space for drawing. 80 pages, paperback.
Handwriting without Tearsaims to make legible and fluent handwriting an automatic, mastered skill. Simple for home educators to use, lessons take only 15 minutes a day. The main objective for students is to achieve goals, not to finish a set number of pages.
The student workbook provides the examples, practices, and exercises for the 1st Grade Handwriting without Tears student. Perfect for students who are learning to print lowercase letters and could use some capital and number review, students who are writing words and simple sentences should be placed in this level curriculum. Lessons emphasize the correct use of lowercase letters in words and sentences, while “Learn & Check” sections help teachers and students check letter, word, and sentence skills. Activity pages combine handwriting instruction with other language arts lessons. 95 pages. Pages are reproducible for the same child‘s practice and benefit. Pages are not to be reproduced for siblings or others. Grade 1.
This 1st grade teacher’s guide provides tips and lesson plans that emphasize letter skills, word skills, and sentence skills. There’s plenty of information on how to prepare for lessons, stages of learning, instructional stages, a scope & sequence, posture, grip, spacing, and other helpful hints. Lessons include scripted questions, reproductions of reduced-size student pages, multisensory activities, finger trace and check models with instructions, page numbers, word lists, and more. 182 pages, softcover.
Designed for use with Handwriting Without Tears K-1 curriculum, the Big Sheet Draw & Write Paper‘s 11″ x 17″ sheets are perfect for writing and drawing. Use for full length sentences or to build a 8.5″ x 11″ journal by folding pages in half. The Wide Double Line Paper solves the problem of line confusion and helps keep letter placement uniform and neat.
The Rock, Rap, Tap & Learn Audio CD features songs to help develop coordination and rhythm, developing self-esteem and body awareness through upbeat and “rocking” songs. Tracks will help students develop pencil grip and writing posture, as well as letter and number formations. 25 songs and Lyrics booklet included.
Teach your students letter formations and placement of letters on double lines with hands-on blackboard activities. Measures 10″ x 17″. The sets of little sponges and little chalk pieces can also be used with the slate for parents using the Wet-Dry-Try method.
This Grade 1 kit includes:
1st Grade My Printing Book Teacher’s Guide, 182 pages, softcover. Updated Edition.
My Printing Book Student Worktext 95 pages, softcover. Updated Edition.
Big Sheet Draw and Write Paper, 100 sheets
Wide Notebook Paper, 100 Sheets
Rock, Rap, Tap, and Learn Audio CD
Blackboard with Double Lines, 10″ x 17″.
Little Chalk Bits
Little Sponge Cubes; cubes are 0.5″.
Now aligned to Common Core State Standards in English, Language Arts, and Math, this new edition makes it easier to integrate handwriting into your curriculum. In the new teacher’s guides, applied writing activities provide additional lesson ideas, and home links provide strong school-home connections. Expanded teacher guidelines are also provided. The student workbooks provide new features to benefit your child, including lessons that now integrate cross-curricular connections.
So I’ve noticed that the Traditional Spelling curriculum, Handwriting Without Tears and the First Start Reading all contain elements of phonics. However, because my little guy is behind the curve, I’m going to also incorporate a dedicated phonics program. So we are adding Horizons Phonics and Reading as well. It is set up very much like the Math books of Horizons. It is in full color and workbook style.
Memoria Press’ Music Enrichment book is designed to be used alongside the Kindergarten, First Grade, and Second Grade Memoria Press Curriculum Manuals (all sold-separately). This volume provides parents with a short backstory on each piece and biographical information for its composer, as well as a few questions for discussion about the music being studied. Teach your child more about what the song is about, interesting facts about the instruments used in the song, interesting aspects about the song’s structure, and why the composer wrote it. Purchase of this book also includes links to Spotify and Youtube playlists where you can listen to the selections, as well as iTunes links if you would like to purchase them. This book is organized by grade-year first, then by the week; the backstory on the piece and discussion question(s) are provided here. The composer biographies are at the back of the book. 178 pages, softcover. For use with Grades K-2.
I purchased some art cards through Memoria Press. These 5×7 full color cards are basically flash cards. On the front is a piece of art. On the back there is the name, the artist, the date, the genre/style, the medium and lastly where the art is currently displayed. The goal is to have my son familiar with all these pieces of art. Some of the art included in this pack:
Enrich your child’s educational experience with beautiful pieces of art from all periods, including the Renaissance, Romanticism, Impressionism, and more! The front of the card features a full-color work of art; the back of the card notes the name, year, author, artistic movement, type of medium, and where it currently is housed. These supplements are coordinated with the Memoria Press primary First Grade Enrichment Guide: Classical Core Curriculum (sold-separately), which contains short biographies of each artist and information about each piece. Set of 33 5″ x 7″ Art Cards. Grade 1.
We decided on Christian Enrichment by Memoria Press. Like the Music Enrichment textbook from Memoria Press, the Christian Studies Enrichment Book from Memoria Press also provides lessons from Kindergarten through Second grade. Since we didn’t use it for kinder we will double up the lessons in first grade to twice a week.
The Christian Studies Enrichment uses The Story Bible as a companion. You will read the assigned bible story. The you will study the definitions in the study guide and have your child answer the questions. You can choose to have your child complete it orally or as a written assignment.
Memoria Press’ Christian Studies Enrichment: The Story Bible for Kindergarten through Second Grade features week-by-week lessons for use with The Story Bible from Concordia Publishing (ISBN 9780758619020) (not included and sold-separately – this book is a required resource).
Each week’s lesson plan has a list of unfamiliar vocabulary words with definitions; before reading each story in The Story Bible, go over the vocabulary words and discuss their meanings. A list of questions is given for after reading the story; answers for teachers are provided right after the question for an easy discussion flow. Lesson plans are organized by grade, with weekly plans given for Kindergarten, Grade 1, and Grade 2. 128 pages, softcover.
Introduce your child to the wonder of the Bible with this Bible storybook written especially for children who are beginning reading to help them grow confident in their reading and understanding. With more than 130 Bible stories and magnificent illustrations, children will be captivated with the adventure and excitement as they discover the Old Testament promise of a Savior and the New Testament fulfillment of that promise with the coming of Jesus. The Story Bible also includes includes:
Wording drawn directly from the Scriptures
Read-aloud, or read-along format
Glossary of key terms
Recommended for ages 3+.
That’s it for our first grade homeschool curriculum. I will update this post throughout the year if needed. Also, please excuse the odd lengthy links. I don’t care for how Christian Book has their link system set up. I’ve provided a Christian Book link since they are the most reasonable price wise, but you can find many of these titles on Amazon as well. I’ve linked to both when available.
We have some news. We’re moving this year and other news like job changes, changes to my Instagram and our new homeschooling year.
You may have noticed, I’ve taken almost a month-long hiatus from the blog. I’m sorry about that, but I needed a long break. There has been so much going on in our lives over the last few months, that I needed to step away for a little while. I hope to be back now. However, you’ll see that I will have a lot of change going on in the next few months, so my blogging may be a tad sporadic. Allow me to tell you why.
If you have followed this blog for any amount of time, you may know that for the last few years we have been facing job uncertainty. Like one thing after another. We’ve been office closures, layoffs, more layoffs, and now we’ve been acquired by another company. In light of that, we are moving to the Houston area. We tried to find something else that would allow us to stay here, but we couldn’t find anything.
I am not thrilled about it. All my family is here in San Antonio and I uprooted years ago. I struggled heavily with homesickness then and vowed I would never do it again! I am very concerned about being isolated without friends or family. Well, here I am, doing it again, mainly because we didn’t have any other options.
We have just started construction in a semi-custom home and I have a lot of heartache because of the cost just to stay in the same kind of home we are now. Still, I am trying to be obedient to God and trust in His plan and timing. Obviously, I’m also trying to get our current home ready to sell and that is taking a lot of my time right now. I’m sure I will be writing more about this later on when things get real! We probably won’t move into our new home until late Fall this year.
We Could Be Displaced for a While
So it is very possible that our family will be displaced because of this. My husband will have to report to work in Houston before our new house is finished. Therefore, we will very likely be separated for several months before we can be reunited permanently. I expect my boys to struggle with that. Also, we will have to sell our home around the same time. So there is a good chance I will have to live with my parents for a few months while construction concludes and we close on our new home. I have no idea how that will impact my blog schedule.
My Father Is Very Ill
My dad, who suffered a heart attack years ago in 2003, has had congestive heart failure since then. In recent years, his health has taken a serious decline and has needed a lot more care and help in the last twelve months. With every month that passes, he requires more care which has been difficult for my mother in particular who has her own health problems. Please keep him and her in prayer during this tough time. He has been in and out of the hospital since last June. It has been very hard on him emotionally and physically. It’s hard to see someone you love, suffer. Still, I must acknowledge how faithful God has been to grant us peace through all of this. Truly, His grace is sufficient.
We are trying to also wrap up our homeschooling year. I admit, we are running a little behind in Math and Reading. We took time off throughout the year and we still need to wrap up some subjects. We finished Handwriting but should finish up Science, Geography, and Spelling in about a week. I expect that we will continue Math and Reading into July. In August we will start our new school year.
I have received a lot of our homeschooling curriculum and I will be creating a blog post that goes into detail about our choices. I still need to order a few subjects and should hopefully have the post up soon. Then comes planning the year out which is always a major undertaking! I’m not sure how all of this will play out including starting our new school year with moving so be patient with me and this blog.
My Little Guy Is Turning Six
My little guy is turning six this weekend and we are having a family party. I am so excited for my cute boy and his birthday request was very cute this year. Or nerdy? Maybe nerdy is the better word, but I think it is still cute. He absolutely loves Math and has really enjoyed the Netflix show Number Blocks and so he asked for a number block party (Math party).
I should note that they don’t make any number block party stuff, so this mama is going to have to figure out how to make that happen!
My Instagram Has Changed
If you are following my Instagram, you may notice a huge shift in my content. I’ve gone from promoting this blog to promoting Christ. I had been so bothered by all the things going on in the world and to me the solution is simple. It a sin problem and the Gospel is the solution. I am still trying to figure out where my account is going to settle. I really want to keep sharing theology, but I feel such a beginner Christian compared to other Theology accounts. It’s odd since I have been a Christian all my life. I have been prayerfully considering what exactly God wants me to do with it. Either way, I want God to be glorified, not me.
I used to only share things about my homeschool life and life as a stay home mom and for a while there, boldly proclaiming the Gospel seemed most important. I still think that should take front stage, but I am also considering that glorifying God also includes living out biblical womanhood. Therefore, I think I will be interjecting more of my daily life back into my IG schedule.
Sharing the gospel and Theology has really been an interesting experience. When I first started sharing about Christ I lost about 200 friends. These weren’t strangers. These were people I knew. Five women from my mom’s group unfollowed me within the first few weeks. One, deleted and blocked me on every social media account. Another even removed me from all her accounts including her business accounts. Ten different old co-workers unfollowed me. People I had been close to. I expected to lose a lot of my atheist friends. I did not expect to lose friends who were professing Christians. But that just tells you that many Christians are receiving a watered-down gospel with no real substance or conviction.
I’ve Been Praying About My Old Posts
Over the last year and a half, my theology has changed dramatically. My theology has gradually become more reformed. Reformed theology seems to be a very love it or hate it thing in the Christian community, but I do think it is the correct lens from which to view scripture. It also radically corrected me on worldly ideas that I had adopted. In particular, things like self-love and other worldly things that I feel God has convicted me on. Therefore I think I will be going through my old blog posts and deleting things where I feel like I have misled my readers away from God.
I have repented to God for adopting secular world views that are masquerading as Christianity. I’m very glad that God allowed me to see the truth about where I was deceived because when you were deceived you don’t know that you were deceived.
I’ve also considered removing some of my journal prompt posts because as I dig deeper into scripture itself I feel that things like self-discovery or looking within yourself for answers is a very secular worldview.
The Bible is sufficient to understand ourselves, to understand the world to understand our problems. So I am seriously considering removing some of my journal prompts. I myself personally stopped journaling for that reason.
For now I’m going to continue to pray about it and to also see what the Bible says I am about things like that. Sometimes the Bible allows us some Christian liberty on secondary issues I’m also going to seek wise counsel from other women who I feel have very sound theology and ask them what they think before I do anything really drastic so bear with me.
One of the major changes that have taken place in my life in the last six months has been the fact that I have almost entirely given up television. I was always an avid reader when I was young but once I had children it just sort of fell by the wayside. Instead, I actually spent a good amount of time vegging out in front of the TV which is very unproductive. About six months ago, my husband and I felt like we were wasting too much time in front of the TV. We were also very off-put by the content on TV. As we became closer to Christ we could not fritter away our free time watching some of the very things that Christ died for. We started by cutting out some of our favorite shows because they glorified sinful things. We started to replace that time with bible study or reading and honestly, we just found we had little to no interest on TV.
In an upcoming post, I’m going to share the books that I have already read this year with a quick review I and links if you’re interested in reading them yourself.
That’s it for now, friends. I will keep you posted on our moving news.
Today, I’m sharing what has happened with us since Coronavirus and a major announcement. Oh 2020, you’ve been a turbulent year!
Can we all just agree that 2020 sucks? Oh, my Lord, 2020 has been a crazy year. I remember when my naive little self swore up and down that 2020 would be my year. This would be the year I reinvented myself. This would be the year I lost weight, had a successful blog, and made a new circle of friends.
Little did I know that I’d basically not leave my house from March until…what month is it? In March I traveled six hours to see a friend of mine. God, I miss that girl! It was a hard trek with two kids and in tow, but it was all worth it to see her. Unfortunately, that was pretty much my last outing. When I came back the Coronavirus was on an upward swing and my hometown was the haven for many of the newly infected patients that were coming off cruise ships.
Throughout the rest of March and April we really just did like everyone else and stayed home. My hubby was able to work from home and I decided to have a good attitude about being shut-in. We dug in and enjoyed our home. We dined outside, played in the back yard, and had cozy family movie nights. Also, we ate about nine loaves of homemade bread. You can find my simple bread recipe on the blog.
In May my oldest turned five. We are so lucky to have a beach just three hours away. Port Aransas is such a fun weekend getaway and my youngest loves the ocean. We were able to socially distance the entire time we were there. The nearest people were a couple hundred yards away and the boys had a blast! It was totally good for the soul. After almost two months of being cooped it, it filled my cup.
We spent lots of time helping my parents prepare their house for sale. There was so much to coordinate and since they are both high risk, we took on a lot of the things that needed to be done.
In June, we did more of the same. We stayed home and really only saw my parents. The strange thing is that I had become perfectly content. I was not missing any of my old activities anymore. However, I did make one big change. I got off Facebook. Can I just be honest? I needed a real break. I was really tired of everyone’s opinions. Everyone was suddenly a doctor with Corona opinions. The political discussions were getting nasty and vulgar. My newsfeed was filled with post after post of negative, hateful comments. It was exhausting seeing that every day so I decided it was time for a break.
I’m not purposing that we stick our head in the sand and ignore current events or be uninformed about vital issues. But there is lots of misinformation and biased information around Facebook. Not only that but people are just nasty to each other about differences of opinion and when my newsfeed became flooded with that kind of stuff, well…it felt like I was watching a twenty-four hour news cycle. And who wants to do that? I want to see pictures of your cute kids and what you did this weekend.
It also dawned on me that the reason why it is so soul-sucking is because we aren’t meant to digest that amount of negativity. Years ago, before the media invaded every area of your life, you were largely unaffected and removed from the awful things happening in the world. Sure, you’d hear about big events, but you weren’t bombarded with it 24/7. These days, there is almost no escape. Everything is politicized.
I just needed to step away and regroup. Regain composure. Renew my mind. Seek some peace and balance. I really felt like God was nudging me to step away. I really struggled with it because I get a great deal of my blog traffic is from Facebook. How would my blog survive? I obeyed God and totally trusted him and his leading. It really helped. My joy came back! I spent the majority of the time loving on my kids and husband and dipping in my parent’s pool. We spent nearly every weekend with my mom and dad. It really filled my cup. It’s September now and I don’t miss Facebook at all. And my blog is more successful than ever. In fact, this year, I paid for all my blog expenses and made a profit.
June also found us in the hospital. Instead of celebrating Father’s Day with my dad, my poor pop spent it in the hospital due to pulmonary edema. COVID was starting to escalate in San Antonio and so it was rather scary to have my dad in there. It was also pretty frustrating that they didn’t really resolve his problem, they just did more of what he was already doing. Please keep my dad in prayer for healing as he is still dealing with it.
In July, my mom’s condition worsened and she had a heart procedure done. It was really scary but COVID was at an all-time high here in San Antonio. They sent her home from the hospital pretty quickly to reduce the chance of infection. My mom’s procedure didn’t solve my mother’s ailment. Another battery of tests would be needed to get to the root of her condition.
My grandfather also took a turn for the worse. He had stopped eating and was very sick. They hospitalized him in early July and I drove to Houston to be with him. All these hospitalizations during COVID have been so stressful. You can’t be with your loved one in the hospital which really compounds the stress. My grandfather’s health is still waning.
As for us, we continued preparing my parent’s house for selling and we spent a lot of time in our garden. We had a great harvest. My oldest son enjoyed collecting vegetables. It was such a novelty to him.
We also learned that because of COVID, my husband’s company would be doing layoffs. We weren’t worried about my husband’s job because we felt like he and his position are highly valued. Little did we know this situation would take a turn (keep reading).
We also started homeschooling earlier than expected. My oldest son was begging to start homeschooling already. You can read all about our Kindergarten curriculum. This is also the first year that I am teaching both kids.
My mother’s health continues to decline. This month she’ll have a biopsy and multiple tests done. They are looking to rule out cancer so we are asking for prayers.
We also finally found our grove with homeschooling. I am managing well with teaching tot school, kindergarten and my household responsibilities.
Oh, August. You were the month that changed everything. This month we were informed that my husband’s company is closing their local office. They will be laying off 20% of their staff and relocating those who remain to Houston. Y’all, this was a gut punch to us. If you have been reading this blog for a while, you know we just went through this a year ago! It was so stressful to job hunt for six months and here we are again!
With the combining of offices, we may not be as secure as we originally thought because of the potential duplication of roles. Also, with my parent’s health declining, parting from them is the very last thing I want to do. The week we found out I was really upset. Like had-a-complete-meltdown-with-God kind of upset. There were lots of ugly tears and complaining. I couldn’t sleep worrying about all the possible undesirable scenarios. I think my breakdown was also a build-up of the stressors we have been dealing with for months. The stresses of all my loved ones who are ill, the stress of selling my parent’s house (and knowing we may have to go through it again for us), the fact that life is so different post-Corona.
I decided to be obedient to the Lord and accept whatever His will is. I’ve made up my mind not to worry about this and laid it at the cross for God to sort out. Y’all, I don’t know how all of this will turn out. I don’t know what will happen or how we’ll get through this. Instead of obsessing over what I don’t know, I will dwell on what I do know. What I do know is the Lord is insanely good. His plan and His will are perfect and flawless. He radically loves us and is always working for my ultimate good (salvation and sanctification). And He never ever leaves us!
I’ll be posting more about this situation as we know more. In the meantime, please drop your prayer requests in the comments. I’d love to pray for you if you are struggling.
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.
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.
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.
Need some help teaching preschool at home? Today I’m sharing the resources we used for our preschool homeschool curriculum.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Today I am pulling back the curtain and giving you a glimpse inside our homeschool room. Join me for our homeschool room tour!
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Are you looking for some curriculum recommendations? Here are our Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum choices as we start schooling at home this Fall.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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
The Tinder Box (The Pied Piper)
Famous Grimm’s Fairy Tales
The Twelve Brothers
Hansel and Gretel
The Fisherman and His Wife
Little Red Riding Hood
The Bremen Town Musicians
The Shoemaker and the Elves
Thumbling Travels (Tom Thumb)
Briar Rose (Sleeping Beauty)
The Golden Goose
The Twelve Huntsman
The Wolf and the Fox
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
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.
Science can be fun learning at any age with these 10 toys that teach kids about the human body.
I’m not sure how it happened, but my four-year-old has fallen in love with the human body. He is fascinated by it. Even his pediatrician was taken aback when he could name all the anatomy of the human ear. He also knows the systems (e.g. circulatory, muscular, vascular, neurological, etc) of the body. So much was learned simply through play. Kids learn so much that way and they don’t even realize they are soaking it all in like a sponge.
So today, I’m going to share with you some of our favorite 10 toys that teach kids about the human body. I will try to include the age appropriateness with each of the toys. However, many of the toys can be used with younger children as long as they are supervised.
Magnetic Human Body
I love Melissa and Doug toys because they aren’t plastic. Even though the M&D products are a little on the pricey side, I still swear by them. This cute wooden Melissa and Doug set has twenty-four pieces that help children envision the human body and how it works from the inside. I found this was perfect for ages three to five. It is simple enough for some toddlers and all preschoolers to understand.
Squishy Human Body
The Squishy Human body has 21 pieces. This was an absolute favorite for my four-year-old. It does say it is designed for ages eight and up, but my four-year-old loved it. The bones come apart and it comes with a booklet explaining the parts and their function in the body. Even the skull comes apart to reveal a realistic brain. All the organs are squishy giving it a real feel and look.
Magic School Bus: Human Body Lab
Based on the Scholastic and Netflix series, this educational kit comes with experiment cards, a skeleton, posters, and stickers. This great for kiddos five and up. Fun fact: this was actually developed by Harvard graduates, scientists and educators to make it a full, exciting experience. This was a little lower on our favorite list, but still a great learning tool.
Kakiblin Organ Apron
This cute apron has felt organs on the front that is used to model the human body. The organs are completely removable by velcro so your little one can practice putting the organs in the correct place. Even my two-year-old loves to attach the organs with his older brother.
Learning Resources Floor Skeleton
Learning Resources has an awesome floor puzzle that helps kids identify bones and learn how they connect together. It is made of fifteen foam pieces that you assemble on the floor that stands nearly four feet. On one side is the image of the bone and on the back, it gives the name of each bone. It’s great for ages three and up.
Disgusting Science Kit
This toy isn’t so much about anatomy, but rather about what our bodies do. This disgusting science kit is full of fun hands-on experiments. Children discover and make fake blood and slimy snot, as well as the stinky intestines and their role in the human body. They also can grow safe bacteria and mold and how it can be used to fight infection. This is for older children around the age of eight and requires adult supervision.
The Journey Match It – All About Me
This word puzzle allows your child to both build their vocabulary and also learn to identify body parts and organs. There are 30 sets of puzzle pieces and this is great for children four and up. Even my four year old loves doing this in his beginning reading stages.
Genetics and DNA Science Kit
This genetics and DNA kit is for older children around eight, but it is a great way to introduce the science around our genetic code and molecular structure. In this kit they’ll construct models of the double helix DNA structure. Also they’ll learn about the pioneering scientists in genetics. Your child will feel like a scientist as they conduct experiments with this fun, educational kit.
Ben Franklin Doctor Lab Biology Kit
This takes playing doctor to a whole other level! This kit by Ben Franklin Toys, very much resembles a doctor’s kit. However, it delves deeper into the role of a physician. Children will conduct 12 experiments and tests. It includes 30 tools such as a stethoscope, bandage, shot, activity cards, anatomy model, brain game, eye chart, and more! When children aren’t conducting tests, they can use it for dramatic play like any other doctor’s kit.
Learning Resources Brain Model
This Learning Resources Brain Model is definitely better suited for older children. In this human anatomy model, children will build the brain using pieces of the cerebellum, frontal, parietal, temporal and occipital lobes. I will say the model is on the smaller side once completed. It’s smaller than four inches, but I do think it gives a very thorough look at the intricacies of the brain.
I hope you and your family enjoy these toys as much as we did.
So you’ve decided to homeschool but don’t know where to begin. With all the choices available it can be confusing so here are the homeschooling methods explained.
So you’ve decided to homeschool or maybe you are just interested and would like to learn more about it. Homeschooling methods can be confusing at first which is why I will explain in the simplest of terms.
Homeschooling can be a wonderful choice. There are lots of reasons why homeschooling is becoming more popular. You can read all about Why We Homeschool. Everyone’s reasons will vary and there are lots of myths that need to be cleared up. You can read all about that in my post, Debunking Myths About Homeschooling.
Today, I’m going to explain the most common methods of homeschooling. I think understanding the methods is crucial to how you will be selecting the curriculum.
Unschooling is a very different method when compared to others. Instead of being teacher-led, unschooling is largely child-led. It is also primarily informal. Specifically, the child advocates for what will be learned as opposed to the parent having full control.
It’s important to note that although homeschooling is legal in all fifty states, unschooling may not be. Some states have specific requirements for the subjects taught, attendance, records, and other things. Unschooling is a complete contrast to public school and may not meet these state-imposed requirements. You can learn more about your state’s requirements on HSLDA’s website.
Charlotte Mason was a British educator in the twentieth century. She used a tri-method approach to learning. Her method is similar to Classical homeschooling which also uses three phases of education.
The first is the Atmosphere. This is the idea that children are to observe and evaluate the world around them but particularly in the home environment. In other words, children are watching our actions, our own behaviors, rules, and even the mood we set in the home environment. In our family, we try to model constant learning and look for opportunities to explain and teach. We encourage questions and try to maintain a peaceful, gentle atmosphere.
This is primarily the traits of good character. Modeling, instilling and cultivating good habits and enforcing a code of conduct, largely play into this area of teaching.
This last area pertains to academics. Charlotte Mason believed that children learn best in a living environment and not with the dry rigors of textbooks. Therefore, children learn out of what is referred to as “living books.” Most living books are a narrative or in a story form that makes the subject come alive in real-world examples. Children are then to explain and narrate the lesson to ensure comprehension. In other words, if children can explain it to someone else, they have learned it themselves. This is the only form of testing progress in the Charlotte Mason method. In fact, Charlotte Mason could be described as a very gentle method of learning.
In addition, children learn handwriting, spelling, and sentence structure by transcribing passages from classic literature. Children are also encouraged to spend a great deal of time outdoors absorbing nature, biology, and the work of God’s hand. Charlotte Mason is also primarily Christian-based learning. Lastly, children learn about classical composers, fine art, all the while learning deeply about their great works. Children may be educated in foreign languages like Greek, Latin, Spanish and French. As well as rooted in Math with an emphasis on Algebra.
Classical education is based on the ancient model of learning. When you consider some of the greatest minds of the past, you’ll discover they were classically educated. Below, I’ll explain the three stages of classical education, known as the trivium.
The Grammar Stage: Kindergarten Through Fourth Grade
There is a rigorous emphasis on spelling, grammar, reading, and writing. As well as cultivating a joy of numbers with both procedural and conceptual math. Also, the beginning framework of foreign languages are taught, typically Latin, Greek or both. In addition, there is a study of fine art, classical composition, and music theory. Children will be introduced to Geography and a comprehensive study into History, which is the telling of all human achievement until now.
In history, The Ancients (5000 BC-AD 400) are taught in grades 1, 5 and 9. Medieval (400-1600) time period is taught in grades 2, 6, and 10. Late Renaissance to the Romantic era (1600-1850) in grades 3, 7, and 11. Lastly, the modern era (1850-present) in grades 4, 8, and 12.
I will give you an example of the effectiveness of classical education. My own four-year-old already has fundamental knowledge about Queen Nefertiti, Ramses II, and The Great Sphinx. He is learning about Ancient Civilizations and Native Americans. He can describe the anatomy of the human ear and identify the different systems of the body (circulatory, skeletal, muscular, etc) and their purpose. Also, he can name the different celestial bodies and even knows musical terms like accelerando, fortissimo, crescendo, and pianissimo.
The Logic Stage: Fifth Grade Through Eighth Grade
The Logic stage, in short, is reasoning or critical thinking. In this stage, children will begin to examine and analyze the arguments of others and themselves. Students will analyze facts and arguments to deduce why something is true or false.
The Rhetoric Stage: Ninth Grade Through Twelfth Grade
Classical rhetoric is a combination of expressive persuasion and argument (debate). The rhetoric stage is built upon the greatest ancient philosophers and writers such as Cicero, Aristotle, Quintilian, Socrates, and Plato. Simply put, it is expressing the knowledge obtained during the grammar and logic stages and composing effective writing and speaking through academic papers and speech. In other words, students learn to articulate their own answers to important questions.
Traditional homeschooling resembles a similar structure to public schooling. You use a textbook curriculum. Children may use workbooks. You may even mimic a similar environment, with individual desks and a chalkboard. Normally, schedules are rigid with classes at specific times. Also, you may have tests and evaluations to determine your child’s progress. Traditional homeschoolers may even compare their progress or align themselves with public schools.
For traditional homeschooling, I greatly encourage you to read Duffy’s Homeschool Picks. This amazing book goes through the abundance of curriculum choices and gives unbiased reviews. Lastly, it helps you determine which curriculum is best suited to your child’s learning style.
Eclectic is basically just any combination of the aforementioned methods. Technically, I was an eclectic homeschooler because I was a mix of both classical and traditional homeschooling, although classical education was emphasized.
Some parents find their children do better with the strengths of the different methods. There is no one right way to homeschool. Each method has its benefits. As a homeschooler, you have immense flexibility and you are not in any way pigeonholed to one method. Yes, you can take what you like from the various methods and make it your own.
Additionally, some parents start off as eclectic homeschoolers, choosing to try out multiple methods before deciding on their way to educate. That’s perfectly okay too! It is also important to note that any of these methods can be religious or secular in nature.
Pin for Later
Hopefully, I have thoroughly explained the different methods of homeschooling. I am immensely grateful for my classical education. I encourage you to read the resources I’ve mentioned. Don’t forget to PIN this post so you may refer to it later.