Homeschool Highlights {December}

As I said in our November Homeschool Highlights, I wasn’t sure if we would need more time off in December or not. Turns out, we needed time off for a reason I wasn’t expecting in the least bit.

If you read this, you know why!

On December 7th we got a call from our adoption agency about a baby boy and he came home to us just 10 days later!

This Homeschool Highlights will be different from all the rest, but here was our December:

It started like any December! One of our traditions is to have a movie night where the children get to eat dinner while watching a Christmas movie. This year the feature presentation was Frosty the Snowman!

IMG_4313.JPG

The first week of December was spent on a business trip with Dave. We were actually on that trip when we got the phone call about the baby. Nine days after that phone call, we went to court where the Judge ruled the baby to be placed for adoption with us! That was a joyous day!

20161216_132701.jpg

The next day, December 17th, we welcomed Beau (that is his blog name) to the family! We took one last picture in front of our Christmas Tree as a family of five moments before Beau arrived home!

DSC04938.JPG

The kids were all anxiously awaiting the arrival of their new baby brother! We did not tell our family anything about any of this until Beau was in our arms. Later that day, we surprised both sets of grandparents by showing up with a new baby! It was an epic Christmas surprise!

IMG_4561.JPG

The next morning, the children did this on their very own. Beau was siting in the rock n play and all 3 of the other children pulled up a chair and sat there admiring him. It was love at first sight for all of them.

IMG_4597.JPG

Because of the craziness of this month, we didn’t get to most of our Christmas traditions this year, but this was a tradition I wasn’t going to let go by because we could never go back and do it next year. It is my tradition to take a Santa picture on Baby’s 1st Christmas. Six days after Beau came home we went to visit Santa! He did great however Sarge did not want to sit up! Dave and I ended up each holding a boy and the girls sat on Santa’s lap and we got an adorable picture of our family of six with Santa on Beau’s first Christmas!

IMG_4747.JPG

The first week Beau was home we worked on completing his nursery! We were actually in the process of this and just sped everything up. We were planning to start the adoption process in the New Year and were moving the kids around to make room for a nursery for a new baby! All we had to do was move Little Bug out and to her new room and paint Beau’s walls gray and navy blue. I love how it all turned out! We just need to purchase the crib for the long-term as I have no plans to take Sarge out of his crib anytime soon.

IMG_4756.JPG

We were simply amazed at how quickly Beau bonded and attached to us and us to him. It was a beautiful thing to watch. Sarge absolutely loves him.

IMG_4774.JPG

We did manage to walk the neighborhood looking at Christmas Lights on Christmas Eve! This is one of our favorite traditions!

DSC05085.JPG

Fortunately, I was already pretty prepared for Christmas when we got the call, so I just had to do a little more shopping one day and I wrapped all the gifts 2 nights before Beau came home! This year we got a trampoline for everyone and then each child had 2 more gifts under the tree.

IMG_4780.JPG

It thrills my heart that my children are satisfied with a simple Christmas. No junk toys they are going to forget about in 3 days. All meaningful, purposeful, useful gifts they will enjoy on their own or with their siblings.

DSC05159.JPG

This girl right here mostly got books for Christmas. As you can see, she was completely satisfied and wasted no time in starting her first book. She has read 10 chapter books this December!

DSC05189.JPG

Our family of 6 on Christmas Day!

DSC05246.JPG

We have enjoyed several family walks in the afternoon or evening. The boys love to ride in this double stroller that was gifted to me this past summer. It is going to come in very handy for many more months to come with these boys. In fact, one afternoon we set out on a walk and I had put Beau in the single stroller and was going to let Sarge walk. Sarge was not happy until we figured out he wanted to ride in the double stroller with his brother.

20161230_124140.jpg
Beau has been home now for 2 weeks. It has been 2 weeks of adjustment for all. I have not attempted formal schooling at all and, really, this has been the perfect time anyway for another break right at Christmas time!

I am giving myself grace when it comes to learning how to manage the four children and homeschool the girls. We will fall into our rhythm soon enough. That I know. For now, we will simplify our already simple homeschool while we continue to adjust as a family of six and bond and attach more and more each day to the precious little life God has added to our family.

Beau was born on the very day the adoption from this past summer failed.

God is a Redeeming God, wouldn’t you say?

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL!!!

Posted in Adoption, Homeschool Highlights

I’ll Be Home for Christmas

crop

December 7th we got a phone call from our adoption agency about this little guy. The next 9 days saw his mother signing her consent to terminate her parental rights, us meeting this woman, a court hearing to put a motion to intervene in his case (he was in the state’s care) and then another hearing where the Judge ruled that it is in the best interest of this baby to be placed in our family. He came home on December 17th, eight days before Christmas!

Once again, our lives have been uprooted with the sudden and quick addition of another child into our family, but we are confident that God orchestrated everything to bring this child to our family and He will give us what we need to meet his needs. He was born the day the adoption from this past summer officially failed. God is a Redeeming God and we trust Him to redeem the brokenness he has already experienced in his short life and we give God all the glory for what He has done and will continue to do!

Posted in Adoption

Favorites {Classical Conversation Materials/Organization}

The final post in my Favorites series is all about our favorite Classical Conversations Materials and how I organize it all.

Let’s start with materials.
dsc03619

The Foundation Guide is the only thing that is required for Classical Conversations. It includes all the Memory Work. We also have the Cycle CDs which are very nice to have for Memory Work review, especially in the car! Each student also needs a tin whistle.

dsc04696

Trivium at the Table Placemats are perfect for Geography Memory Work review. The maps are big and in color which make it easier for my little ones to find locations on the map. We are also big fans of reading Usborne books that correspond with our Memory Work.

dsc04695

The Timeline Cards are an excellent resource to have on hand for learning the Timeline and History. We also love reading the If You Were… series.

dsc04694

The Magic School Bus series and Let’s Read and Find Out science books are fun ways to read more about our Science Memory Work.

dsc04700

 

Here is how I have organized our CC materials!

DSC04909.JPG

This is what you could call the “CC corner” of our dining/homeschool room! Most of the resources we have for CC are stored here on this 8-cube bookshelf. Our Usborne books are organized by subject.

DSC04910.JPG

There are 3 baskets along the top of the bookcase and each serves a purpose!

DSC04911.JPG

The biggest basket is where I gather all of the books and activities we will be using over the next six weeks of CC. Since I plan for CC every 6 weeks, this keeps everything in one place and I can easily find books and activities when it is time for learning!

DSC04905.JPG

The two smaller baskets hold our Timeline Cards and the Memory Flashcards. I find the Memory Flashcards very useful when we are reviewing more than one week’s worth of Memory Work (like now during Christmas break).

DSC04907.JPG

This is our Morning Basket and I put materials for daily Memory Work review in this basket. You can see our Geography placemats, games for review and supplies for Blob Mapping.

DSC04903.JPG

I like to display the Memory Work each week. I have the Memory Work typed up and stored in this folder so I can pull out the week’s Memory Work to put on display. In our old homeschool room, I had it displayed on the wall. I am not sure I am going to do that in our new dining/homeschool room. I will probably have a 3-ring binder that I will use as a flip chart as we review the Memory Work daily. That way the girls can still see the Memory Work as we review. It just won’t be on display all the time. We will see if this works for us.

DSC04900.JPG

I have a file folder for each week. In the file folders I keep activities and printables that we will do that week.
dsc04693

This is the bookshelf (that my dad made!) which is in our living room. I keep books that correspond to our current Memory Work on the shelves for the children to read at any time! The lowest shelf has books specifically for Sarge and the top shelf is for Read Alouds.

Posted in Favorite Homeschool Resources, Homeschooling

Homeschool Highlights {November}

Bible

Through the end of November, we continued to read God’s Names and recite our Monthly Memory Verses.

dsc04816

Copywork

Every morning while I am reading to Sarge before he has his Independent Playtime in his bedroom, the girls do their Copywork. Right now, this basically looks like handwriting. They work on one letter per week from A Reason for Handwriting K. I put the page in a reusable dry erase pocket so they can practice writing the letter every morning. Then on Friday they take the lesson out of the dry erase pocket and write their very best on the paper. Little Bug also writes 1 Bible verse per day. She is tracing over my writing by writing on a dry erase pocket. If they are finished with their Copywork before I am finished reading with Sarge, they are to get a book and read while they wait for me. (No pictures but I will try and write a post about this including pictures because it is working very well for us!)

Language Arts

We are enjoying All About Spelling Level 1! Sweet Pea likes to join in on the lessons and since the words are basically CVC words, it is perfect for where she is right now in learning to read. Little Bug is also continuing to work through AAR. We do 2 days of AAR and 2 days of AAS weekly. It won’t be long before Little Bug completes AAR Level 2. Sweet Pea continues to work through Confessions of a Homeschooler’s Kinder curriculum and Little Bug continues to have her nose in a book very often most days!

picmonkey-collage

Math

Little Bug is already over halfway finished with the first book of Horizons 1. We just continue to plug along with lots of review and practice of the basic math facts so she has a solid foundation of basic math concepts. We do the Saxon 1 Timed Tests over and over again. Sweet Pea finished BJU K5 and we are now working in Hands On Thinking Skills! Confessions of a Homeschooler curriculum includes fun math games and activities too. We’ve been working on counting to 100 and skip counting.

picmonkey-collage

Classical Conversations

Mid-November we completed Week 12 of Cycle 2! We are now on Christmas break and will go back to CC in January. I love this break. It is nice to have time to review the first 12 weeks before moving on to the next 12 weeks. The last 6 weeks of science we learned about the Solar System! I couldn’t wait to teach the phases of the moon with Oreos! That was lots of fun! The girls also kept a “Moon Journal” where they recorded what phase the moon was in each night. Sarge still asks to go outside and see the moon nearly every night!

moon

Thanksgiving

I have mentioned before that I love the flexibility year round schooling affords us. We hit a lull right before Thanksgiving and I knew we all needed a break so…we took a week long break at Thanksgiving! It was so refreshing and just what we all needed. That week we did fun, effortless-on-my-part Thanksgiving activities and read lots of our favorite Thanksgiving books while talking about the first Thanksgiving long ago.

thanksgiving

Another reason I decided to take a week off at Thanksgiving was because I needed time to organize the dining/homeschool room! The last week of November we put this new set up to the test and it was absolutely marvelous!

img_4249

Field Trips and Special Outings

We enjoyed a couple field trips during the month of November: the zoo with our CC community and a family bowling night!

trips

We also went to a Gingerbread House Workshop with our CC community!

gingerbread

The Saturday after Thanksgiving we went to pick out our Christmas Tree!

dsc04852

Now it is December and Christmas is fast approaching! We will continue on with school and I will evaluate closer to Christmas whether we will need some more time off or if we can keep going through December!

dsc04870

This was a VERY fast 1st semester to the 2016-2017 school year!

Posted in Homeschool Highlights, Homeschooling

Homeschool Room {2016-2017 Update}

dsc04809

Our Homeschool Room has moved yet again!

DSC04809.JPG

This room is suppose to be the formal dining room of our home and it now functions as a dining/homeschool room!

DSC04807.JPG

My goal was to move away from the “school room” look and make a space that is both functional for eating and schooling. Bright colors and school posters were removed and two new pieces of furniture were purchased to give this room more of a dining room feel but yet still be able to function as a place where I can organize and store curriculum and schooling materials.

DSC04825.JPG

I love the way this all came together!!

Our school materials are organized in baskets by the time of day that they are used.

The bottom shelf has our Morning Basket which includes everything we need for Bible and CC Review. (Beside the Morning Basket are the trays for turning in completed work. This makes keeping up with yearly portfolios a breeze.) Moving on up to the middle shelf, you will see two more baskets. The basket on the left has our Morning Work (Language Arts) and the basket on the right has our Afternoon Work (Math). The top shelf has Bibles and small manipulatives used frequently.

It is so simple and so organized!

DSC04810.JPG

The cabinets store all of our Language Arts and handwriting materials! Language Arts materials are on the top shelf and handwriting materials are on the bottom shelf. I was even able to keep the alphabet poster without hanging it on the wall in the dining room by putting it on the inside of the cabinet door.

DSC04765.JPG

I did keep our workbox system because I find that the workbox system is extremely useful for the preschool and kindergarten years. Most of Sweet Pea’s work is put into these boxes weekly. Each color box represents one day of the week. The work she does with me goes in the top box and the work she does independently – while I am teaching Little Bug – goes in the bottom box. The small white board for All About Reading and All About Spelling is beside the workboxes.

DSC04823.JPG

This is the second piece of furniture we purchased. I had the chalkboard hanging and had not put it up anywhere in the house yet. It is the perfect place for me to write our Monthly Memory Verse. The basket on the top of this cabinet is for educational activities for Sarge.

DSC04815.JPG

Inside the cabinet is all of our math materials and the numbers chart that I really didn’t want to hang on the dining room wall either.

DSC04768.JPG

I finally found an accurate world globe that didn’t cost a fortune at Target.

DSC04773.JPG

This is a silverware organizer for entertaining, but it works great to house all of our school supplies and it blends in well with the dining room decor.

DSC04769.JPG

This corner has the 8-cube shelf with all of our Usborne books organized by subject.

DSC04824.JPG

The baskets on top have the Timeline Cards, Memory Flashcards and Usborne books that we will be using over the next six weeks as well as the file folders with any activities we will be doing with CC Memory Work.

DSC04819.JPG

I guess this corner looks a little school room-ish with the white board, but it passes in my book because it is functional and it serves a purpose. The three baskets of books are our Magic School Bus books, If You Lived books and Let’s Read and Find Out science books, which we read all the time in our history and science studies.

DSC04814.JPG

 I did have to move some of our homeschool materials to other places in the house. Curriculum not in use went to a bookshelf in the master closet. Preschool materials went to a closet in the hallway and all games went to the kitchen island cabinets. 

I love the serene, clean, organized feel this room now has!

Posted in Homeschool Organization, Homeschool Room, Homeschooling

Favorite {Geography}

One of my favorite things about Classical Conversations is the Geography! Between the 3 cycles we will cover the whole world!

dsc03619

Rand McNally Signature Map of the World is a self adhesive map that you can stick on your wall and it will not harm the paint! You can peel it off and relocate it.

dsc04697

Trivium at the Table Placemats are extremely helpful in reviewing our Geography Memory Work. There are several great Usborne books for Geography too!

dsc04696

Posted in Favorite Homeschool Resources

Favorite {Science}

We approach Science in the same way that we approach History so the backbone of our science is Classical Conversations Memory Work!

dsc03619

My girls enjoy science as it is natural for little ones to be curious about their world! We read Let’s Read and Find Out science books, Magic School Bus books and, of course, Usborne books to dig deeper each week about our science topic. We also have the complete series of Magic School Bus DVDs which has been an excellent resource as just about every CC science topic is covered in the Magic School Bus series! We also enjoy reading The Berenstain Bear’s Big Book of Science and Nature.

dsc04694

This was also a first year Homeschool Convention purchase that became one of our favorite resources! The World God Made and Our Father’s World are fun to read with the preschooler-1st grader as an introduction to fun science topics.

dsc02732

Posted in Favorite Homeschool Resources

Favorites {History}

The core of our History studies are the Classical Conversations History Memory Work sentences! The CDs for each cycle have a catchy song for each sentence and we enjoy listening to the songs in the car.

dsc03619

If we want to learn more about the people, places and events in our Memory Work, we read books about the topics! Usborne books are our favorites but we also enjoy the If You Were history series. CC’s Timeline cards are fun too and provide more information to read.

dsc04695
I bought History for Little Pilgrims at my first ever Homeschool Convention. It is for Preschool to K-1st grade and is a excellent overview of the main history events from a Biblical perspective. We read through this last summer and both girls really enjoyed it. There is a coloring book as well.
dsc02733

This is something I added in for our history studies just this year. Little Bug LOVES history. She loves stories so she naturally loves history. While Story of the World is not biblically based, the storyteller is Jim Weiss who we absolutely adore. We have many of his story CDs and he is an incredible story teller. When I saw that he narrates Story of the World I had to buy Volume 2 of SOTW to see if Little Bug would enjoy listening to the stories.

Just about every day at lunch, I turn on SOTW and the girls listen to 1-2 stories while they each their lunch. I love that the stories are just about 5-7ish minutes long, which is perfect for the ages of my children.

I LOVE watching them eat their lunch and enjoying their story and lighting up when they hear familiar words from their History Memory Work! Almost every single day they will say, “Mommy! That was in our history sentence!” and then they will sing the sentence!

At the ages of my girls’ now (7 & 5) I am doing nothing more than History Sentences and SOTW, but when they get a little older and we really start to study and learn history, I feel like it will be easier for them because they will have already heard these stories through their Memory Work and these CDs…and then hopefully the history timeline and how all the events relate to each other will just come together for them.

dsc04589

Posted in Favorite Homeschool Resources

Favorites {Math}

These are our favorite math games and we play them beginning in the preschool years:

Sum Swamp – What a fun way to learn addition and subtraction and even and odd numbers.

Hi, Ho, Cherry-O – This is a game that is fun for learning to count, add and subtract.

Zingo 1-2-3 – This game helps with number recognition and also basic addition.

POP for Addition & Subtraction – We played this game a lot when Little Bug was learning her basic math facts.

dsc04690

Learning Resources Calendar and Weather Pocket Chart – We use this for so much learning! Calendar, number recognition, counting, skip counting, weather, seasons, days of the week & months of the year.

dsc04698

When my children are ready for a formal math curriculum (closer to age 6 than age 5), we begin with Horizons Math K. It’s a spiral approach (lots of repetition and reviewing) and very thorough on teaching basic math concepts.

dsc09444

We move right in to Horizons 1 after Horizons K.

dsc03612

These are the math manipulatives that we used most in the early years: linking cubes, base 10 blocks, teddy bear counters, 2 huge dice, dominoes, 100 chart.

dsc04685

Time is a hard concept for this age but this clock is a great help in teaching time. We also love Usborne’s Wipe Clean Telling the Time book.

dsc04689

Posted in Favorite Homeschool Resources

Favorites {Handwriting}

These are my favorite resources to use when my children are ready to learn how to write their letters:

A Reason for Handwriting – This book is an excellent resource to teach children how to write lowercase and uppercase letters.

dsc03120

Each lesson focuses on 1 letter and it first moves through the lowercase letters and then the uppercase letters (not in order). There are review lessons throughout as well. It is just enough practice to have my children writing 5-10 minutes each day.

dsc00852

Dry Erase Alphabet writing books are perfect for repeated practice in forming letters. We recently got Usborne’s Wipe Clean Alphabet book.

dsc04683

Drawing helps form the fine motor skills needed for letter formation and Draw Write Now books provide both drawing and handwriting practice.

dsc04684

As early letter writing practice we love The Measured Mom’s handwriting pages for preschoolers.

dsc00300

Another favorite way for my preschoolers to practice letter formation is by “writing” their letters in salt and shaving cream,

dsc08789

with magnetic pieces,

dsc04700

and with Play-doh mats!

dsc07091

Posted in Favorite Homeschool Resources