Monday, November 16, 2009

Bat Lapbook

We are just now getting the hang of unit studies...Our very first one was on Stellaluna. Hunter worked so hard on it and was so proud of his completed book!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

such good intentions! we are well into our school year and this is only the 2nd time that I've blogged! LOL! We've done a lot of neat things, fun things, regular things, etc but we've been more buys doing them than me taking pictures of them non stop. I've tried to do better and give a little insight into what we are working on currently.

Hunter turned 8 in September and we are rocking along pretty well with his schoolwork. We have just (this week!) tackled lapbooking and our first unit studay is on Stellaluna. It's going well..I'm amazed at what all we are learning from a little book about a bat that was dropped into a nest of birds!

This unit study should only last us this week and who knows what we'll get into after this one. Hunter has a lot of interest in many things and lapbooking is a great way for him to learn a lot while having fun and not really feel like he's doing "school".

Dalton is 5 and in kindergarten. He is working on a notebook every week based on one letter of the alphabet. We have done a good many so far and I will *try* to go back and take pics of them so that you can see what we did. This week our letter is the letter "Ff". Here is his "F" book.

For each letter we have several worksheets and projects to do...for the "Ff" we have talked about frogs, fish, firetrucks, five, feelings, and obviously a FOOT! I painted the bottom of his foot blue and he stepped on to his folder! We are sure making great memories with these books! Here he is working on some pages for his notebook.

I just love those chubby little fingers!

Sometimes Hunter does his reading workbooks in his room..(or in this picture Dalton's room)

Here's Dalton working on a worksheet about

We are looking at possibly re-joining a homeschool co-op in our area..I am wanting the boys to start going to park days so that they can meet some other homeschooled children and for me to meet some other moms as well.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

a glimpse into our day

The basics:

2 boys

Hunter, age 7, 2nd grade

Dalton, age 5, kindergarten

Here's Dalton sitting at his desk drawing in a notebook. You can see his "workbox" at the right in the picture. His workbox contains 12 large envelopes and there are all kinds of different things in the folders..anything from worksheets, to books, to projects, to play dough (well not technically IN the folder but just behind it or something). Dalton LOVES his workbox and is not amused with me if there is ever a schoolday that I don't have them fixed for him.

Here's Dalton, again, working a worksheet on "Where Does It Belong"...there is a barn and a house and he draws a line from objects on the paper to where they belong (table, tractor, etc).

Hunter working in his Handwriting Without Tears workbook..and tears...hahaha..rolling eyes.

Here's Dalton about to work on his lapbook/notebook (not sure what it should be called) on the letter "A". We are doing a lapbook for each letter of the alphabet.

Hunter found Banangrams in one of his folders today!

Dalton coloring (and yawning..ROFL) can see his "A" folder at the front of his desk. He decorated his "A" with stickers..ants, apples, and an alligator!

Hunter doing math work and using his Base Ten Blocks to help him figure it all out.

Dalton coloring in his Handwriting Without Tears book. He is at the pre-k/K level and the main focus is learning to hold the pencil correctly, stopping on a line, etc.

Here is a shot of the boys at their desks so you can sort of see how our classroom looks...

Dalton working a puzzle...

Hunter reading to me.

Dalton making a book (I found it online and it mimics the book "Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See?")

Now, granted, this showed quite a bit of seat work...we also do lots of other fun hands on activities most days as well. We have a flannel board and lots of story pieces, puppets, play dough, a huge art cart, etc.

I will try to take pics of the things that we do. Hunter is starting a unit study on the solar system and he's going to make a lapbook about it. We have a cup with all the letters of the alphabet in it and Dalton drew next weeks letter for us to learn and it is the letter "Gg". Should be fun!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

First Day

We started school back yesterday.

Here is Dalton, my kindergartener.

And Hunter, my 2nd grader.

I pieced together our curriculum this year and I can tell that school is going to be much more relaxed and much more fun for us. The boys are doing their workboxes and they love it! It's fun for them to see what is in each folder each day.

I'm going to try to update this blog pretty regularly with pics and projects as well as day to day school stuff.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Gearing back up! seems like so very little time has passed since our last day of school on May is it time for us to start back??? Granted we've been to Baltimore twice, the river a few times, physical therapy twice a week for Dalton, and out in our pool everyday. I've gotten the schoolroom straightened up and everything from last year is packed away and all the stuff for this year is up to date. The boys are ready...more-so Dalton than Hunter. Dalton is excited because this will be his first official start of school since he's starting kindergarten. We've been reading some books that I ordered from's a "get ready for kindergarten" pack. I'm excited about the new school year starting...looking so forward to getting back into some kind of a routine.

Stay tuned for more regular updates once we get started back. Right now my plans are to start back next week or the week after@

Monday, May 11, 2009

School's Out....

for the Summer! Wooot!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Are you looking for a tool to aid in Spelling practice for your child?

Well, SpellQuizzer just might be what you've been looking for!

SpellQuizzer is a spelling program for helping children learn their spelling words.
SpellQuizzer is spelling software that helps students practice their vocabulary.
You can download pre-made spelling lists for SpellQuizzer from their web site.

I am not getting paid for my review of this product. The developer simply contacted me and asked me if I would be willing to use the program and review it on my blog. No strings attached! My review will be an honest review of how the program works for us. Thanks, Dan, so much for this opportunity!

For starters, I've only just downloaded the program this evening so I've not had a lot of time to play around with it..but let me just say that what I have seen so far is very impressive! For starters, SpellQuizzer wasn't designed with any one spelling curriculum in mind. That's right! It should compliment virtually any spelling curriculum that you use because you create your own custom spelling lists!

The program is available for a 30 day free trial after which you can purchase it for just under $30. To me, that's a great price..I mean, afterall, this is something you can use for years and long as your child is learning to spell words then this program will be a vital tool.

The only two things you need for this program to work for you are 1.)a Windows operating system and 2.)a PC microphone, which can be purchased for $10 or less at most retailers.

Ok, so once you download the program it creates a shortcut on your desktop. You can use that part of the program to create new lists for your child. It's SO easy...I created one in about a minute just to do a test run. You type in the word, record yourself saying it, and save it. This program works well for all children whether they are in public school or homeschooled. Basically you get the words that you want to use on the list and you say the word and a sentence using the word (if you wish). You save the list and then your child comes along and clicks the "quiz me on a list" button. He/She can play through the list and type in the spellings for each of the words.

On the SpellQuizzer website there are several spelling lists already made for you to download to your SpellQuizzer desktop program. Some of these lists include:

* Seasons, Months, & Days
* Sample Spelling Lists by Grade (grades 1-8!)
* Dolch Sight Word Spelling list (with over 300 sight words!!)

and many more!!!!

From what I can tell so far, this program is super! If your children are like mine any kind of computer work is "fun" work to them. Wouldn't this program be so much better than having to stand and call out spelling words night after night?

Make sure to check the SpellQuizzer website out for yourself, and in the meantime, check back here for more updates as we start using this fabulous program!

**Edited to add 4/22/09: After Dan read my review he invited me to participate in the SpellQuizzer affiliate program. Basically anyone that clicks on the SpellQuizzer picture at the top right on this blog and chooses to purchase the program I will make a little commission on the purchase (20%)...Likewise, if YOU purchase the program you too can become an affiliate and earn your own 20% by people checking out the link on your own blog or website! It's a great deal and a GREAT spelling software program!!**

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Today was a GREAT day!

Wow..I'm almost speechless. lol..Ok, well anyone who knows me knows that's a lie! All I can say is that the workbox system is a miracle. Hunter LOVED it! Dalton did too! Dalton is only 4 so I didn't push him. He started on his first one and it was a Noah's Ark coloring sheet...we colored for a bit and he was dunzo. Only when Hunter hit his 7th envelope, which contained 2 suncatchers and paint, did Dalton decide that he might should get busy. LOL! Last night I explained to Hunter how the system would work (ie: he would do the folders in order from 1-12 and he would take breaks according to the little schedule that I had made.) Well morning comes and he's up before 8am...but Dalton is playing with in between eating breakfast he's playing blocks with Dalton. I reminded him twice that his school work was waiting..but I didn't push or force..finally around 9:30 I said "ok Hunter, let me put it like this...I don't care when you choose to start your school work but the tv will not be turned on until it is finished AND you have a baseball game this evening and if your school work isn't complete we will be sitting here instead of going to the game." wise boy, he decides to go to the school room and get started. He worked VERY well on his folders..I didn't time him on anything so some things took him longer than normal..He finally finished his last envelope around 3pm, which is way later than we normally are finishing up. On the flip side, we did finish, we did everything I had planned out, including "site word bingo" and an art project that included paint! I know that as soon as it gets a little warmer and he realizes that he wants to get in the pool in the back yard that he will get a little speed going. Of course, I don't want him rushing and not getting something..but he definetly could have worked a little quicker today. I reminded him once that had he gotten started when he first got up that he could be finished by now...this was about 1:30pm. He totally agreed so I expect tomorrow will be even better. This afternoon once he was finished he told me that he loved his workbox and wanted to do it again tomorrow!! I found putting together the boxes today was even easier than it was yesterday. Dalton finished all 12 of his envelopes today too! I am so proud of them! I took pics, but it's late and the camera is in a different room and I would, um, like have to get out from under my covers to go get it. lol (If only I had a Snugglie...ROFL!)

Also, our printer ink came in today so I printed of some cool Earth Day stuff to use for tomorrow and Hunter and I printed some "horse" stuff off for him to use in his lapbook tomorrow. Wooot!

Pics to come, I promise!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Worboxing and Lapbooking!

I feel like I am finally with the times when it comes to homeschooling. I feel like it's all starting to come together for us. It's been quite a journey so far and I feel like I have tried and flopped at so many things...but finally I feel like I have an answer to the issues. The first issue was Abeka...enough said (I blogged about it a few posts back). We've branched out and all of our curriculum for next year has finally all arrived and I am beyond excited! We have just over a month of school left and I can't wait until July 6th when we start our next school year!! Hunter will be in 2nd grade and Dalton in kindergarten. (Wow, can you believe they are that old already???)

In doing various research I have found so many wonderful bloggers that are so open with things that they have tried and have either flopped or have worked. It has helped me so much while I have been searching for something to keep school interesting, fun, and something we look forward to everyday! I fully believe that two of those answers come in the form of workboxing and lapbooking.

The workbox system was designed by a fellow homeschooling mom. It is a system that helps with so many skills, not only for your child, but for YOU,, the homeschooling teacher! YOU prepare the boxes (or in our case, folders) the evening before (I will do mine in the afternoon after school is over) and you get everything together that you need for any task that you put into the boxes. It helps the children have a visual of what they have to complete before they are done with school for the day and to some degree they are in control of getting it completed. In our house we have a "no tv before school is done" this will help that. I plan on using the folders until we are finished with this school year. If it's successful then I will probably go ahead and purchase each of the boys 12 boxes for next school year.

The next thing that we are starting to tackle is lapbooking. If you are new to homeschooling or you don't homeschool and you've just found my, the best way I know of to describe a lapbook would be to say it's like a mini scrapbook on one topic...though scrapbooking sounds gay for boys. LOL You can make them out of anything...file folders, notebooks, etc. I have some of those paper folders (you know, the kind with the brads that hold the paper in the middle?) so that's what we are starting with. You can make a lapbook on any subject/topic that you want...I've seen them on anything from horses, to letters, desert, etc etc etc...the possibilities are really limitless! I told Hunter that he could choose the first one he wanted to make and he picked "horses". So today we cut out the letters on some sticker paper that I have and he wrote the first page on why he chose horses as the topic. I ordered some ink for our printer (we've been out for AGES!) so he'll be able to print off some pictures, coloring pictures, and information on horses to use in his book. I am going to purchase a filing cabinet for the school room and we will file the lapbooks away and definetly pull them back out for review or reading fun on down the road.

I'm really excited about both of these ideas! We will start tomorrow with the workboxes. I just finished getting both of their boxes ready.

Here's what's in Hunter's 1st Grade Box
1. Awana book (verse)
2. Phonics worksheet
3. Phonics flashcards (work with mom)
4. Horse lapbook
5. My America, My World (history book) (work with mom)
6. Math worksheet
7. Art (tomorrow is painting two sun catchers)
8. Math subtraction flashcards (work with mom)
9. Reading
10. Health, Safety, & Manners book (work with mom)
11. Fun Math book on weights and measurements
12. Site Word Bingo (play with mom)

He will take breaks after every 3 folders. The first break is 15 minutes of free time, the 2nd break is do to chores off of his chore chart, and the 3rd break is another 15 minute free time. As you can see, this system has plenty of "work with mom" time as well as many things that he will be responsible for on his own. If I'm right there by him all the time he tends to need to ask me 600 questions when I know he can figure it out on his own.

Dalton is only 4, but he wanted to get in on the I gladly made him a workbox folder set as well. Here is what I've got ready for him.
1. Noah's Ark coloring page
2. Number worksheet
3. Fishing game
4. Awana book (verse)
5. Science book (A Robin Grows Up)
6. Art (same project as Hunter)
7. Reading book w/mom
8. Alphabet flash cards
9. Penguin audio book (book comes w/cd and the cd chimes when he turns the page..he loves them!)
10. Number puzzle
11. Number flashcards
12. Name writing practice

I will take some pics of the system and post them tomorrow! Can't wait!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

All About Spelling

I have found an AWESOME spelling curriculum and I just have to share it with you! It's called ALL ABOUT SPELLING! Do you remember in grade school we were given a list of words to memorize? Well not anymore!! All About Spelling is a program that explains spelling in a fun, hands on way that makes it easy to understand for kids! I went to my homeschool board looking for answers on some different curriculum and over and over several people recommended All About Spelling to me! After looking at their website I can see why. I was sold! The price is easily affordable. You pay around $26 for a kit that contains hands on letter tiles (we call them our Scrabble tiles), magnets for the backs of the letter tiles if you want to use them that way, and a cd rom. Then you purchase one kit per the level of spelling that you want to teach. For levels one and two the kit, which contains the teacher guide and student packet, is around $30. For levels higher, it's just a few dollars more. The great thing is that if you have multiple children/students, you only need to purchase a child packet and they are $12.95. Once you make the initial investment of the letter tile kit then you only have to order the teacher and student kit each year. Currently you can go as high as a level 6. Hunter will be in 2nd grade but we are starting at a level one since the curriculum we were using did nothing more than just hand out a spelling list.

So please, check out their website. I'm so happy with the program that I have decided to be an affiliate..which just means that anyone that purchases from them and uses my link I will get about 15% of the amount you purchase. Believe me, I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't think you would absolutely LOVE All About Spelling!!

If you are currently using All About Spelling please leave me a comment and let me know how it has worked for you!!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Schooling Outside the Box

Yeah, that's me...finally! After only using Abeka for two years I am branching out. I am finally confident enough in my homeschool teaching ability that I am piecing together curriculum for the boys for next school year, which will start in July.

For Hunter's 2nd grade I have ordered
Easy Grammar w/teacher guide
All About Spelling
Handwriting Without Tears
Math Made Easy (superhero edition! lol)
Smart Steps 2nd grade cd curriculum to use for fun extra learning

For Dalton starting kindergarten I have ordered
Handwriting Without Tears (I will use it to teach letter recognition, formation, and their sounds)
Math Made Easy
Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons (already had this at home)
Smart Steps Kindergarten cd to use for extra fun learning

I have ordered Rosetta Stone Spanish for the boys and I to learn. I took French in high school and know virtually NO Spanish!

After pricing Abeka's material because they really step up this year with would have cost me about $400 JUST FOR HUNTER! Today I spent $191.52 for curriculum work for BOTH of the boys and the Rosetta Stone was $259 BUT it is something we will use for a long time, not just one semester or one year even..and when we are done w/it we can sell it because it has a very high re-sell value.

I will be listing Hunter's first grade material for sale soon, along w/the Abeka Kindergarten and 1st grade that I had already ordered for Dalton! LOL!! Good thing it still sells for a good amount and with them being new (at least the boys workbooks) I can get about what I paid for it.

I am SO ready for the next school year!! Abeka has become almost a chore for us and now I feel the best I have EVER felt about homeschooling!!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Our typical day

Everyday varies, but a "perfect" day goes something like this:

1. Awana verses (they have Awana on Wed evenings so we review the verses during school time)

2. Phonics instruction (appx 15-20 mins)

3. 15 minutes of oral reading

4. Seatwork explanation (5 mins)

5. 30 minutes of seatwork (phonics and writing seatwork and copy work...this teaches him to copy things from a book, the board, also teaches him to work independently relying on himself to read his own directions...during this time I usually make the beds, unload/load the dishwasher, check email :p Once Dalton starts kindergarten I will spend this time with his instruction)

6. 15 minute break

7. Writing instruction (we are currently learning about sentences, phrases, etc)

8. Math instruction (appx 20-30mins)

9. Math combination practice (add and sub flash cards) about 5 mins

10. 15 minutes of reading

11. Science/History/Health (depending on the day) (10mins)

12. Poetry (5 mins)

13. Seatwork (math pages and time to finish up any seatwork that wasn't completed in the first 30 mins seatwork time)

14. art/science project

So as you can see this takes us about 3 1/2 hours. Somedays more, somedays less...but we are usually always done by lunch time. Somedays if Hunter is not concentrating as well we will do math/science/art in the a.m. and we'll do his phonics and writing in the late afternoon.

How do your days usually go? I'd love to know!!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Glimpse Into Our Lives

I started the blog last week but haven't had a chance yet to post any pics of our classroom to show you what life is like for us.

Our classroom is our old dining room. Our living room is big and about half of it was just a sitting area/play area for the kids so we decided to move the dining room table, curio cabinet, and china cabinet out and into that open part in the den. It was a perfect idea! It has worked out so well!!!

So here are some a ton of pics since we started doing school in our "official" schoolroom last summer. The first few pics were in the dining room before we changed it to a classroom.

Putting the date on the school calendar

Fun with the flannel board


Looking at "nature" objects

Hunter reading on the kitchen counter

Dalton working with counting bears

The tree in our room...we change it for all the seasons!

Our November bulletin board.

Our field trip to visit the firemen.

We had learned a little about the WTC and 9/11.....

Art time

Pine cone bird feeders


Spring has officially sprung in our classroom!!

Hunter making funny faces for brother!

Ok, so to clarify...Hunter was writing spelling words on the board and he proceeds to write "Mama is the #1 Mama in the world" (momo is the (sign of a finger held up) mom en the wrld.) lol

Ok, so that's basically caught up with pics I have taken since we've been in the new classroom.

I plan on updating regularly from here on out!