Monday, August 13, 2012

Where We Do School

This week the “Not” Back-to-School blog Hop is featuring a School Room Hop. I haven’t really posted on our school room since we moved the basement (ahem, almost a year and a half ago) so I thought I would take this opportunity to share some pictures.IMG_3709

Our basement is not finished, but we have made some cheap (as possible) improvements to create a space that would work for us – we threw up some paneling which we painted a turquoise color, and some cheap carpet so that we wouldn’t be standing on cement.

Right about the time we were finishing the basement we were offered some giant white wood shelves 5 of them actually!! We gladly accepted them and had them filled up by the end of the week!!

I did my best to create “stations” around the room, in order to keep things better organized.


I don’t have a great picture of this, but it’s the first thing you see is our timeline above the train table.


Directly to the right of our timeline is what I refer to as the tot-station, because it’s where I keep all of the toddler/preschool activities and games that they are allowed to play with without question. Having a station like this helps keep the little ones entertained while working with the older ones. IMG_3710

I have a shelf full of books, puzzles, mr. potato head, a leapfrog letter game and alphabet stacking blocks stored here. Next to that are the bins that contain our tot school education sets – such as our peg board and pegs, foam blocks, our magnetic tanagram set, large wooden lacing beads and more.

Spelling Board

Next to the tot-station is our AAS/AAR magnet board and magnets that we use with our curriculum. In front of this area is a small table and chairs that the kids and I sit at for these subjects. IMG_3711We like to move around during school, so this gives us a great opportunity to at least change the scenery in school.


Continuing around the room you will come to my reading chair and rain-gutter shelves where we store our books for the week – the top shelf usually includes our artist study books, which are usually around longer than a week (more like 4-6 weeks), the middle shelf typically holds the books that we use more long term so far this year this includes:

  • The Story of the World (Volume 1)
  • Our ESV Family Illustrated Bible
  • Usborne Illustrated Encyclopedia of Nature
  • Everyday Graces
  • Window to the World
  • The Children’s “What The Bible is All About” Bible Handbook

The lower shelf contains our weekly readings – including the book we are rowing, and our read-alouds for history and science. IMG_3713

Of course these shelves are not ALWAYS in order, but that’s the gist of how they are supposed to be set up ;)

When it’s time to do our reading, we will either read here or upstairs (depending on our day), if we read here the kids like to grab their comfy chairs and couches from the connected “play area” to lounge in while I read.

Art Closet & Supplies

Next is our art closet and supplies, followed by our

Daily Calendar and Board

The kids have desks sitting in front of this area, and I’ll be honest, this is the ONLY time of the day they use their desks (thankfully we got them free on the side of the road :)). IMG_3717This is usually the first thing we do in the morning, and sometimes I will even slide my reading chair over and we will complete our read-alouds here as well (like I said, we like different scenery sometimes).

Television, DVD and Wii

Once we finished off our basement, I really really wanted to get the TV out of the Living Room, for my own good. I was finding myself in the bad habit of turning on the TV after I would lay the kids down, just because it was there. Since moving it down stairs, this hasn’t been as big of a problem. We do use the TV for two of our subjects (Latin and Art) but other than that, the TV is ALWAYS off during the school day.

Book Shelves

I have the book shelves first organized by subjects and then further into specific topics. The shelf closest to our reading chair are our Bible books, History & Geography books and our Art books. IMG_3714

The shelves along the outer wall contain all other subjects literature & fiction take up almost all of one shelf  while the other shelf holds our science, miscellaneous curriculum, math, language arts and nature books. IMG_3718


I bought these workboxes off of Amazon and I LOVE them!! Both of the older kids have one set of drawers each, while I use the other sets for different things I want to have close by. Eventually Audrey and Baby Boy T will have their own drawers as well.       IMG_3721

Alexa’s drawers are on the left side of the white shelf, Treyton’s are on the right. They each get the top of their drawers for any additional resources they might need or that didn’t fit easily in their drawers. IMG_3724


We do the majority of our school work together at the table. I sit in the middle with the two big kids on either side, I work with each of them (practically simultaneously) as they are getting through their work. Obviously, I rotate their toughest subjects as much as I can so that I’m not literally explaining two subjects at once, but honestly, that still happens more than I would like. Gratefully, this has worked out okay and both kids have been able to work well even when I have to alternate between the two of them. If there is a time when one child needs more quiet on a particular subject, the other child is excused to do his or her own thing for a while (quietly of course, or upstairs) while the other one concentrates more fully. IMG_3719

Audrey is typically sitting on the other end of the table with whatever activity she chooses to pull out.

My Desk

This is where the bulk of the planning happens – the shelf behind my chair holds the Tapestry unit and resources we are currently working on, our Five in a Row handbooks, our lesson plan box (which is broken down by weeks), extra curriculum (that we will be moving into later on in the year), Bibles, paper, teacher resources (a lot of Charlotte Mason books and Books recommending books). Immediately next to my desk are also the drawer system that holds all of our extra school supplies. IMG_3725

We love our school space and are truly blessed to have such an open area in which to do school. My man worked hard to give us this space, and I truly appreciate it!!

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Sunday, August 12, 2012

Field Trip: Milwaukee County Zoo

IMG_3806This past week (August 8th) the kids and I headed to the Milwaukee County Zoo to meet up with my sister and her kids for a fun field trip. IMG_3801I have lived in Wisconsin since I was 9 years old and have never been to this zoo. After paying to get in, I can see why :) It was a little pricey, but it is truly a beautiful zoo. I really enjoyed it. IMG_3772

As excited as she was to be there, sadly, only a half hour after we got there and situated Audrey ended up getting the stomach flu, and yes, it was as AWFUL as it sounds. She ended up throwing up all over herself, me and the reptile building floor. Thank God, my sister was there – seriously, I don’t know what I would have done without her. There I was 2 hours away from home, with a sick baby and two kids whose only desire in the world at that moment was to see the animals. IMG_3804We spent 4 hours total at the zoo, it was truly a beautiful day – a perfect day (weather wise). The older kids had a good time, excluding the fact that mom’s nerves were frayed and to say I was “uptight” would be a little bit of an understatement. IMG_3800Treyton’s biggest disappointment was that he had really wanted to go to the Sea Lion show, but after Audrey got sick, all I could manage was  getting the kids to see as many animals as we could and sitting with Audrey was just not an option.          IMG_3770

At the end of the day, we decided to take the train ride. This was a highlight for the older kids. IMG_3810 



IMG_3820Poor Audrey not only missed most of the zoo but I felt helpless as I watched her deteriorate more and more as the day went on. By the time she got home she was beyond lethargic and her fever was at 102.5 she could barely move – after not keeping anything down ALL day, she hadn’t cried even once – I mean I barely even got a moan out of her. Gratefully she was over it by morning…. and so far no one else has gotten it. IMG_3822And check it out ---- big mama got a new t-shirt through the whole deal!  IMG_3769

Week 6: The Patriarchs From Ur to Egypt


Our primary reading was in the Bible this week – I took a patriarch per day (Abraham on Monday, Isaac on Tuesday, Jacob on Thursday, Joseph and His Brothers on Friday) and we read about them. After we would read about them I had a craft for Alexa to complete and I would have Treyton either complete a lapbook piece or complete a draw and caption page.

Abraham & Isaac 

IMG_3740 Abraham and Isaac Wheel

IMG_3741 Jacob

IMG_3829  Jacob’s Ladder DLTK Collage


After studying Joseph we made thumbprint family trees (one of the patriarchs and one for our family).  

IMG_3831 Thumbprint Family Tree Printable



Language Arts:  IMG_3757As we’ve continued to add words to our word-bank I decided to add color-coded cards to the word bank to help Treyton and I review.

This week we learned about sentences. “A sentence is a group of words that expresses a complete thought” we have also started working on the four different types of sentences – covering the declarative/statement sentence this week.


After finally putting together our sentence board, Treyton worked on putting even more sentences together this week using his word box. We talked about the different types of words that he used and that ever sentence has to have a subject and a predicate to be a complete sentence.

I quizzed him by making a few fragments and actual sentences – he didn’t get a single one wrong.


This week we did not row a book to go along with our science. We worked on finishing up our animal studies – we learned about Mammals (which was more like review for the kids) and then we moved into reviewing what we learned about all the invertebrates and vertebrates.

Animal Classification

I printed off the animal classification cards from Homeschool Creations, these were great for the kids to do some hands on classification with – I would highly recommend them (and they’re free!) IMG_3735

I also printed off the Animal Classification Graph from Homeschool Share and had the kids pick animals out of our animal bin and graph them. IMG_3765Both of the kids LOVE graphing, so this was a fun activity for the both of them. IMG_3760They would take turns pulling an animal out of the box and then graphing it on our graphs.   IMG_3761  IMG_3764I used the pictures from this site to make vertebrate classification poster for our school wall.


Math Alexa is flying through her Kindergarten math book covering two units (6 and 7) this week. We first worked on patterns, which I had her do mostly hands on with beads and magnetic tanagram shapes. She rocked it. IMG_3736

Unit 7 was on measuring things and sizes. I had her and Treyton measure (in footsteps) the living room – we talked about how they came up with different numbers because they are different sizes, which is why we use specific measurements (like inches, feet, yards, etc.). That was as much as I talked with her about specific measurements. For the rest of the time she worked on finding the tallest, shortest, widest, etc. items in her workbook. She did great.

We also continued working on putting numbers 1-20 in order together. She does really, really well with her numbers 1-12 and pretty well from numbers 13-20.


Alexa started her Explode the Code book 1 this week – this was HUGE for her. She was soo sooo sooo excited to get her new book and get started. She started with her pretest which she passed with flying colors. We then started working on lesson 1 which focuses on the short sound /a/, primarily –at words. She read and then wrote many of the –at words.

This is her first attempt at really writing words other than her name. She had started doing it on her own earlier this week – writing the word dog (which incidentally she would write backwards spelling it g-o-d) before we even got to book 1, I think that the transition is happening at a perfect time for her.

It is such an exciting time!

Field Trip: Zoo

On Wednesday of this week we went to the Milwaukee County Zoo for the first time I thought it would be the perfect ending to our animal kingdom unit. I am posting our trip separately but let’s leave it to say that Audrey ended up getting the stomach flu while we were there, so it didn’t go as smoothly as one could hope.



Joseph’s Coat of Many Colors Craft on DLTK

Monday, August 6, 2012

Week 5: Babel to Ur – Early History of Mesopotamia

Read-Alouds this Week

  • Genesis 11 – the Story of the Tower of Babel
  • The Story of the World: Volume 1 – Chapter 1, 3, 5 and 8
    • This was our primary reading this week, I really enjoy this book and I look forward to using it throughout the year. It’s written in a way that Treyton can easily understand, which I appreciate.
  • Tower of Babel


Ziggurat: This week we created a Ziggurat (a Mesopotamian temple) using the directions in The Old Testament Days book. Originally I wasn’t going to do the project, but then halfway through the week, I changed my mind. IMG_3665The kids loved it – though we had a hard time covering the shoe boxes with simple washable paint…. oh well…. I think they still got the idea.

Sumer: Treyton drew and captioned about the Sumerians this week, we turned it into a two day caption (I only have a picture of 1), because we wanted to talk about the Sumers before Sargon created the Akkadian Empire as well as before when they were all their own city-states. Treyton was at first very interested in Sargon, when we read in The Story of the World, the tale about where he came from (a story sounding very similarly to the story of Moses). But once Sargon started trying to take control of Sumer, Treyton’s fondness of him quickly faded. IMG_3658

Preschool - Bible

Tower of Babel Coloring page for Alexa

Build a Tower of Babel - I keep Alexa’s “history” much more simple than what I do with Treyton (obviously). At this point, I am just trying to teach her the Bible stories in a way that she can remember them correctly. She had fun this week building a Tower of Babel with Audrey using building blocks. She retold the story to Audrey as she did it (she didn’t know I was listening), I was impressed by the amount of detail she used.

Narration for The Story of Gilgamesh

I don’t have Treyton narrate enough, so this week I had him narrate the Story of Gilgamesh from Sumerian Mythology after we read it in the Story of the World.  He did okay, this is definitely something I think we could do more.


Lapbook Pieces:

  • Noah’s Ark
  • Tower of Babel
    • This piece was broken down into “who”, “what” and “why” Treyton did a really great job coming up with simple sentences that he wrote with little to no help from me. Usually for his draw and captions and lapbook pieces, he will come up with what he wants to say. I remember it and slowly repeat it back to him, helping him spell words correctly. It’s encouraging to see some independence in this area.

Geography: A Map of Mesopotamia

We combined two maps this week onto one – the map of Noah’s descendents and where they are believed to have settled as well as our map of Mesopotamia.IMG_3657 Treyton really enjoys his map studies. Before we actually began labeling, we got out our atlas found Egypt (in Africa) and the former Mesopotamia (in Asia). We then grabbed our map to label and started working on it. IMG_3595The map studies are a huge part of the week for us, and I usually try to include it on the first day. Treyton is a concrete-thinker and by seeing the places that we are learning about on a map it solidifies the fact that they are real places with real people.

As far as the Mesopotamia map went: Treyton quickly learned the name of the Tigris river, but struggled a bit with the Euphrates, and he called the fertile crescent the moon crust :) but in general he did well, referring to and pulling out his map throughout the week.

Language Arts

This week Treyton added verb cards to his word bank and we began working on forming simple sentences. I didn’t realize (ahead of time) that we were going to make a Sentence Pocket so we didn’t have that to start with, but we made it work. I also have made pink flash card ending sounds to add to our verb cards as we form our sentences (for example s, –ed, and –ing to add to the end of the verb words). IMG_3661

I downloaded a synonym match from here, for Treyton to review synonyms. He also did the noun and verb worksheet from the same post – he did perfectly on both of them.  IMG_3682

I am realizing the deeper we go into grammar, how much I lack in this subject. Once you move past noun and verb, subject and predicate… you’ve pretty much lost me. I’m not sure how this happened, I vividly remember my mother torturing me with lesson after lesson of this stuff, but for some reason I can’t recall any of it!! So needless to say, I am feeling WAY out of my element here. Seriously, next week we’re working on Adverbs and I actually had to look up what exactly an adverb is…. unbelievable. I am thankful for the First Language Lessons that we have been using thus far to introduce the parts of speech, otherwise I don’t know what I would do.


In All About Spelling Treyton was on step 18. I was NOT a fan of this step… if anyone is asking. :)

The list was on different spellings of u sounds, it included words like you, your, put, pull, push, to, do and the rule breaker of. We focused on the three sounds that the letter o makes, the four sounds that the letter u makes and the four sounds ou makes. This was fine, however, there was no tips or rules given on when to use which sound. For example you can use the letter u or oo to spell the /oo/ sound as in put or book, but how do you know when to use which (besides just memorizing)?

By the end of the week Treyton could basically spell the list of words, but I wish there was more that I could have given him as far as spelling words in his everyday writing, knowing when to use which letters when.

Math: Multiplying by 2

This week Treyton worked on mastering multiplying by 2. He flew through the exercises. He has always been good at counting by numbers (2, 3, 4, 5, 6) because of this multiplying is coming very naturally to him.

Preschool – Math

Alexa’s flying through her math book. She just finished up working on learning to write and count (forward and backward) numbers 1-10. To review her unit I had her put the numbers 1-20 in order using her file folder game. IMG_3701This week we moved onto shapes. I wasn’t a big fan of how they broke it down, so I did a few of my own hands-on activities and we will skip unit 5 and move on to unit 6 (patterns) next week.

Alexa’s favorite activity this week was finding objects for different shapes that I would call out. She made different piles for each of her shapes. IMG_3695

  IMG_3698 Interestingly enough, she does really well telling you the shapes name on her own. If I say “Tell me the name of the shapes that you know” or “Find a _____” she has no problem. However, if I say “What is this shape?” she struggles a little bit more.

Preschool – Language Arts

Alexa is on the last letter of her Explode the Code book C, letter Xx. Instead of focusing on the beginning sounds we worked on ending sounds this week. This was tough for Alexa, switching like that, so I held off on pushing her too much in All About Reading this week, thankfully ETC offered plenty of practice, and I didn’t have to supplement anything else in. She continued to read to me throughout, but we didn’t add any new steps or letters. Instead we read some Bob books, and reviewed the stories she already has read in the AAR reader. IMG_3663

She is an amazing little reader and catches on very quickly. When she is trying (and that’s the trick) it’s a pure delight to read with her.