Thursday, June 30, 2011

Book Unit: Animalia


Animalia by Graeme Base

I will be honest, I did not really love this book, and I think there are better “animal”  books out there that we could have read. Oh, well, Lexie and I still enjoyed our first week of preschool.


Because I wasn’t super excited about the Animalia book we actually focused a little bit more on the story of Noah’s Ark.

Our primary activity was a paper plate Noah’s Ark and some craft stick puppets to go in to our new ark.  IMG_0009Alexa insisted on doing all of the gluing herself, she let me help her cut them out. She is growing so fast, as is her independent nature, and while it can sometimes be frustrating, I’m thankful that she reminds me often that she can do it herself.

I forgot to take a picture of our finished product…. I’ll try to remember to attach it later.

IMG_0010 As you can imagine, with her love of cutting and gluing comes a love of doing crafts so I printed off a bunch of paper animal crafts from DLTK. Her first choice was the cat. IMG_0056

At first Lexie wasn’t too excited to play the animal matching game I had made, but after she got going, she liked it. One thing that I like about my home-made set is that the pictures don’t match, so she has to think about the animals to actually match them together. For example, I have a picture of a lion cub and a adult male lion instead of two male lions.  IMG_0025

Lexie has always loved cutting, and she is getting better and better every day. I pulled out some animal cutting and gluing practice pages from her Kumon workbook, which were a big hit. After playing with them, we added them to her lapbook pages.  IMG_0001   IMG_0008

Alexa made a pig toilet paper craft from DLTK, she loved making it, but loved playing with it even more.


Letter A Activities

IMG_0050I printed off and laminated the play-doh mats from Homeschool Creations, we used them for letter tracing. For just learning how to write I thought she did a phenomenal job writing a capital A!!   

I pulled out our Handwriting Without Tears Wooden pieces and mat and Lexie worked on building the letter AIMG_0052 She was really proud of herself. IMG_0053 She built and rebuilt the letter over and over for 15 minutes or so.

IMG_0054Other Preschool Activities

Position Words: While working in one of her preschool workbooks, we began talking about position words (top, bottom, middle). Lexie was having a hard time understanding so we decided to bring it to life by playing a game on the stairs. I would call out a position word and Lexie would go to where I called.


IMG_0011  IMG_0013Size Order: Lexie doesn’t really need practice with size order, but she asks to do it, because she likes to play with the cupcakes!

IMG_0038 Lapjournal Pictures IMG_0073 



Extra Links

Preschool Corner @ Homeschool Creations

Animalia Lesson Plans

Animalia On-Line Site (for older kids)

Animal Classifying Folder Game

Noah’s Ark Lapbook by Carissa

Noah’s Ark Coloring Pages

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Week 1: Ten Commandments – Jericho

We started school on June 20th. We are all still getting used to having a routine again, but it feels great to be back!!

This is what we did for week 1:

Bible: We read about the Ten Commandments, the Tabernacle, Twelve Spies and Rahab. We are trying to get through MFW 1st grade before the fall so we have been moving right along.


IMG_0099  IMG_0101Treyton has taken on a new interest in his illustrations and works hard to add as much detail as he can. Drawing people is still the hardest part (I’m pretty sure that’s genetic and he gets that from me!), but I am proud of both his narrations and illustrations and am surprised at the improvements in just a month.

Science: We have started the Science with Water Usborne Book and Treyton is loving the “experiments”. This week we learned how water takes all difference sizes and shapes, and how different cups hold different amounts of water.


We had lots of fun taking out all different types of glasses and pouring 2 cups of water into each of them. We started out by guessing which glass we thought would hold the most, Treyton, Lexie and I each had a different guess.


Come to find out we were all right!! All of our glasses hold exactly 2 cups of water, except 1 and it holds 1 1/2 cups of water.    


Reading: Coming back to school has gone really smoothly in every subject, but if there were a bump it would have been with his reading. He was hesitant and less-confident with his reading and it caused some poorer skills than what we had left off with. Truth be told, we weren’t able to practice reading as much as we should have on our break, so I think we will work through this slight bump in the road by merely practicing.

Math: We started Singapore 1B, it’s going well, pretty easily actually. Which is refreshing after struggling through so many weeks on addition and subtraction, to finally get back to some “easier” topics for Treyton. It helps build his confidence in his mathematical ability, which is great. I want him to know how good he really is at math. 

Read Alouds: Read Alouds are definitely Treyton’s favorite part of school. This week we read:

Art: Drawing Animals IMG_0058Treyton loves to use his Usborne “How to Draw Animals” book to learn how to draw new animals – one afternoon, after school, he decided to draw a flamingo and a moose.


  • Composer Study: Sebastian Johan Bach
  • Artist Study: Jackson Pollock
  • Memory Work: John 17:17, 1 Peter _:_ and the first 5 NT Books
  • All About Spelling: Steps 5-8

I’m really satisfied with how our first week of school went, and I’m really looking forward to our first grade year. Treyton really is a natural learner with an inquisitive mind. I can’t wait to see what this year will bring.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

{Review} Bambino Starter

Given the opportunity to review my choice of a product from the Timberdoodle Baby or Toddler Core Curriculum Kit – I chose the Bambino Starter set with Bambino Special. 


The BambinoLUK is a workbook system that requires no writing, but instead uses a plastic base (they call it a controller) with six tiles. When the tiles are put in the correct spots they will create a pattern on the backside, allowing the child to check their own work.

According to the parent-teacher guide the BambinoLUK provides the following benefits (of which I would agree):

  • Strengthens fine motor skills
  • Enhances eye-hand coordination
  • Promotes self-esteem
  • Improves memory and concentration
  • Boosts visual perception
  • Develops critical thinking ability
  • Builds foundations for reading, writing and math

The Bambino Special Workbooks that we received were geared towards toddlers ages 2+, and proved to be a little too easy for Alexa. However, I think it was a nice level to get her started with using and used to the BambinoLUK. 

As an added bonus, when we received our BambinoLUK we also received online access to designing our own exercises (see more about this below).

We were both thrilled to receive the “goods” in the mail and as soon as we got it in the mail Lexie started playing with it. I had to make her stop so that we could eat dinner.


I appreciated the fact that this program is reusable. Because there is no writing in the workbooks you can use them over and over again and with multiple children.

IMG_0002 Alexa never looked at the BambinoLUK as “school” it was more like a fun game. Being our “independent child” she loved the fact that she could at least attempt to do it on her own. Of course she liked when I stood over her shoulder watching, as long as I didn’t touch anything ;)

I also liked the durability of the tiles and board. Our kids are not always the most gentle on products, but from the thick-paged workbooks to the durable plastic tiles, I am happy with the quality of the product.

It is a progressive program. Two of the books we got Lexie flew right through but the sample book has been of great enjoyment to her and even a challenge. You could use this product for several students at different levels as long as you purchased the workbooks for their levels.

My favorite thing about this product is it’s uniqueness. It’s not the same-old-same-old workbook style of school. It’s hands-on, it promotes independence and resusable, all things I can appreciate as a homeschooling mom of 3!


Honestly, there wasn’t anything we didn’t like with the actual product. Lexie, as independent as she is, at times couldn’t figure out how to correct or even how to initially set up the board. It was challenging to get her to allow me to help, yet it was just slightly over her head (not the workbooks but the system itself). In time, I don’t think this would be an issue.

I was also disappointed with the fact that I tried several times to access the design your own templates online, and every time I did it would tell me that “registration is currently disabled”. I plan on still trying, and I’m hoping this is just a temporary glitch.


You can visit BambinoLUKs site to play and use an on-line controller yourself to see how it works, a try-before-you-buy opportunity.


The bambinoLUK Starter Pack, is $19.95 and comes with a sample workbook. You can purchase other pack sets – usually 2-3 books for between $9.95-$14.95


Also, as part of my review, timberdoodle sent me their toddler core curriculum planning folder. I loved reading through this and seeing some of the reasoning behind the products chosen for the timberdoodle’s core curriculum kits, and different ways to use them. This is a great resource for parents looking to purchase through timberdoodle.

If you are interested you can view a free homeschool catalog for Timberdoodle here.

DISCLAIMER: I received this product and the workbooks for free from Timberdoodle, for the purpose of my review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

2011-2012 Curriculum

I’ve had my curriculum picked out and bought since attending the Midwest Homeschool Convention at the end of March. I am so excited to finally sit down and organize it all on “paper”!!

UPDATE: I have tweeked some of our curriculum after 9 weeks of school.

Core Curriculum – will once again come from My Father’s World. This year we will be going through the Adventures Program which will include our History, Bible, Geography, Literature/Read-Alouds and simple Science – the focus is on early American History and the 50 states and the different names of Jesus (light, bread of life, etc.)

We will actually be completing the Science portion of Adventures with a four-family co-op that will meet once a month. I'm really excited to be a part of a small co-op, where all the families are using the same curriculum, and our kids can develop close relationships with one another.
Because we will be doing the MFW science as part of our co-op we will be doing other science on our own. I haven't decided what exactly we're going to do yet, but for now we are getting lots of hands-on, real-life learning done through nature study. It's fun to follow the kids interest in what they want to learn about, but it can be time consuming and a little frazzling to plan things on the fly at times, so I don't know if I will be able to keep up with it throughout the year, or if I will purchase an actual science curriculum.

I am currently adding in Pandia Press’ REAL Life Science. We are “trying before we buy” with a 10 week unit on the human body. 

Bible – As well as what MFW offers Treyton will continue working through the Sparks AWANA program. Memorizing approximately a verse a week (instead of the MFW memory verses).

Math – just this week I considered changing my mind (again). After going back and forth for several months I had purchased Singapore 2A and 2B, but I continue to think about using Horizon’s 1st Grade. I’ve asked Treyton on 3 different occasions which one he thinks he will like better and he’s picked Singapore every time – after hearing my “speels” for both. We still have 1B to get through so we will see if I change my mind before we even get to 2a and 2b.

Spelling – I have heard tons about All About Spelling and we have really enjoyed it so far (we have already completed up to step 5). I love the multi-sensory approach, and how untraditional it is compared to other spelling programs. I also appreciate the “rules” it teaches, as this really helps Treyton learn and retain.

Language Arts/Grammar – This was not an easy decision, but after months of research I went with Language Arts for the Very Young. We have not started it, and we won’t until we start Adventures, but I really think we’re going love it – it offers short, simple lessons which I think is all Treyton (a 6 year old) needs at this point. It has copy work, memorization, picture study, grammar, reading, narration and more. I’m not sure if I will have Treyton do the memorization or not, it depends on if he is able to learn it while learning his AWANA verses. If it proves to be too much I will take it out.

In addition to this I am having Treyton complete a few Explode the Code pages a day – this is more of a phonics program, to encourage mastery of what he already knows.

Art – This actually came with our MFW Adventures Core, it’s called I Can Do all Things (How Great Thou Art). It’s a 3-year program. I am obviously lacking in the art department, but it looks pretty self explanatory without too much prep on my part (always an added bonus).
We will also be continuing using Mark Kistler Drawing Lessons on-line, because we have the membership, I think it’s good practice and Treyton and I both enjoy it.

Fine Arts Study – Throughout our school year we will be studying famous artists and musicians. This will primarily be done through picture/music study, living books and our timeline. I have a list of artists and musicians I would like to cover this year (including: Jackson Pollock, Beethoven, Mozart, Joseph Haydn, Monet, Van Gogh and DaVinci) I plan on spending 4-6 weeks on each person looking at (or listening to) a few of their pieces, discussing them and possibly reading a living book on their life, if we are able to find appropriate ones. Many artists did not live “upstanding or moral” lifestyles that I’m quite ready to explain to my 6 and 3 year old…. We will be studying one musician and one artist at a time.
For our living books we plan on using “Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artist” Series (when available) 
For musicians the Opal Wheeler books (when available)

Handwritingwe will primarily be copy work (his memory verses) and poetry in his Language Arts Program, as well as his on going copying-a-book project he’s currently doing.

We are currently of lesson 6 of A Reason For Handwriting book A. We are both really liking it.

Latin – We will be studying a new latin root each week as part of our daily board. I made my own program from this year, very simple, covering only a few simple roots (1 per week I hope), next year I plan on finding an actual latin curriculum, but for now, I feel like this is a good starting point.

Treyton was doing so well with the roots, and they were helping out so much with his vocabulary I went ahead and got Song School Latin, which I hope to add in in the next couple of weeks.

Because Lexie is only 3, I didn’t want to start her on a hard core letter-of-the-week program, instead I decided to continue on with B4FIAR type study. I didn’t want to move up to Five in a Row yet because it would be a little over her head, so instead I’ve decided to use a few of my favorite sites (Confessions of a Homeschooler, Homeschool Share, 1+1+1=1, Homeschool Creations and a few others) and have put together a literature based, B4FIAR approach program.
Each week we will be reading 1 book for five days, I have found crafts, printables, games, lapbooks, preschool/packs and units to go along with what we are reading.
I have also associated each book with a letter, and plan on doing a small amount of letter recognition and writing in our studies as well.
I actually still have 5 or so B4FIAR units left from last year that we hadn’t finished yet, that I will be rolling over. I am more than halfway through my planning (up to letter S) this is what I’m thinking (as far as book titles go)
A- Animalia by Graeme Base (we will focus on the Bible Story of Noah’s Ark while working through this book).
B- Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey
C- If You Give a Cat a Cupcake by Laura Numeroff
D- Angus Lost by Marjorie Flack
E- The Excellent Egg
F- Play with Me (I’m doing a Frog Study this week) by Marie Hall Ets
G- Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann
H- One, Hand, Two Hands by Max Lucado
I- Ten Little Ladybugs (Lexie’s Favorit Book) by Melanie Gerth
K- Katy No Pocket by Emma Payne
L- The Lion & The Mouse by Jerry Pinkey
M- Curious George by H.A. Rey
N- The House in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson
O- Owl Moon by Jane Yolen
P- Princess (not sure on the exact book yet)
Q- The Quiltmaker’s Gift by Jeff Brumbeau
R- Muncha, Muncha, Muncha (Rabbit) by Candace Felming
S- Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
S- Red Sings from Treetops (Seasons) by Joyce Sidman
T- The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
U- The Umbrella by Jan Bret
V- Tops & Bottoms (Vegetables) by Janet Stevens
W- Davy’s Dream (Whales) by Owen Paul Lewis
Y- Yellow Ball by Molly Bang
Z- 1,2, 3 to the Zoo by Eric Carle

Some of the book units weren’t working out the way that I had hoped they would, while others worked out great (when I could correlate them with Treyton’s school). We are going to continue with our book units, but will be using FIAR books (volume 1 & 2) whenever we can correlate them with MFW Adventures, and the other book units in between.

I am really looking forward to this year with both of the kids and slowly introducing Audrey into some Tot-school activities, when that time comes. Mostly just play, play, playing – nothing really structured this year at all.

Monday, June 20, 2011

First Day of School 2011-2012

IMG_0076_1 First day of First Grade – June 20th, 2011

IMG_0073_1a   Treyton will be 6 years old at the end of the summer.

IMG_0017_1I couldn’t decide which picture to post – so here are both of my favorites of the three kids together.

IMG_0018_1Our Blessings: Treyton, Audrey and Alexa

IMG_0044_1 Audrey – 15 months

IMG_0052_1 Lexie’s First Day of Preschool

IMG_0058_1 Our Little Princess, is almost 3.

IMG_0059_3 IMG_0071_1

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Tot School: Part 3 – Printables

Yes, Yes, it’s been a while…. and don’t take this the wrong way, but it was a blog-break worth taking, and one that I really needed. The kids and I have been enjoying our time off, and spending (possibly too much) time outside!

Tot School copyI had finished working on this post a while ago, and I have slowly added a few things here and there, but I don’t think I’ll ever look at it as a “complete” list. There are so many great sites out there. These are just the main ones that I love and use the most.

Part 1 (of this series): Tot School – Beginning Questions 

Part 2: Educational Toys for Tots


I've recommended Confessions of a Homeschooler before because we have used a lot of her reusable printables/games. Here is the direct link to the numbers, shapes and colors these are our primary focus at this age, we start with colors then shapes, numbers and lettters. While there is some overlap, I am more “intense” (for lack of a better term), with one focus at a time. A few of our favorites from Confessions include:

  • Color Puzzles
  • Paint Brush Color Matching
  • Shape Puzzles
  • Shape Play-doh mats (which I laminate and primarily use with dry erase markers and tracing)
  • 1-10 Number Sticker Sheets
  • We’ve also enjoyed clothes pin number cards

I cut out and laminate all of these printables and we use them over and over again.

Confessions also offers a letter of the week curriculum which is GREAT but is geared more for preschool age (ages 3 and up).


One of our favorite ways to do school and learning activities at this age is through units that the child is already interested in.These are a great way to practice colors, shapes, numbers, letters and numbers while using a common (and likeable) theme!

Tot/Preschool Packs

Homeschool Creations & 1+1+1=1 both have several Preschool Packs  or Tot Packs ready for you to print and use with your child. There are a lots of different topics including Batman, Fireman, Transportation, Gardening, Doctors and Nurses, Nemo, Veggie Tales, Dinosaurs, Feelings, Noah’s Ark plus lots more and they are both always adding more!!

The direct links (for your convenience):

Some other great places we’ve used to find unit themes are:

  • Musings of Me – she has several LARGE units including spring, farm, valentines day and dental health. I usually print only the pages I think we will use. I highly recommend her units.
  • Our Little Monkeys - I’ve only recently stumbled on to this blog which also has several free printable themes to use with your tot schooler/preschooler.
  • 2 Teaching Mommies – Another recent finding so I’m not as familiar with this site, but seems to offer similar material as the others.
  • Lapbook Lessons – I have used some printables from this site for Lexie, however, some of these are too advanced to use with your tot, so you would want to be selective. (Note: to find the lapbooks scroll almost all the way down to the bottom of the page for their list) 
  • Mom to 2 Boys – has other printables (in addition to her tot kits including some units, a color and shape lapbook, color bingo, and alphabet printables.


Carissa at 1+1+1=1 (isn’t she great!!) also has some Tot School Printables by letter, that I am just starting to use with Lexie. They are centered around a letter of the week theme, but teach colors, numbers, shapes, etc. For example A is for Apple, it’s A and apple printables but you might be coloring the apples certain colors, sequencing, playing with number cards (1-10), etc. As of this post, she is up through L and adding every week.

Christian Preschool Printables – again, some of these are at more of a preschool level than tot-school level but I have used some of what is here.

File Folder Fun (Preschool Age) – We have made several file folder games from this site. We have the cupcake numbers one, the frog food color matching, and the alpha animals.

Making Learning Fun has a bunch of do-a-dot printables including numbers and animals (and alphabet) that Lexie has LOVED using. They also have lots of theme printables (I am using this site a lot planning for Lexie’s school for this upcoming year).


I’m sure I will be adding to this list as I go along, but this is plenty to get any “normal” person completely overwhelmed :)

As usual, if you have any questions, feel free to e-mail or leave a comment.