Homeschool Highlights {March}

Language Arts

Little Bug has never really enjoyed reading out loud to me. I have not pushed it, being satisfied with her reading out loud to me the stories from her All About Reading readers. One day she came up to me and asked me to listen. She had just finished reading The BFG by Roald Dahl and she wanted me to hear the very last part. She fluently read through a page and a half, laughing at the words, clearly comprehending the text and appreciating the words written in the story. She will sporadically come up to me and want to tell me all about a book she is reading or has just finished. I feel at this time, I don’t need to push a “reading curriculum” on her. She loves to read and right now I feel continuing to foster that love of reading is what is most important for her. I am thinking about what we will use next year to dive deeper into literature study, but for now, she is devouring book after book to the point she has read through our home library of chapter books most of which I had in my 4th grade classroom when I taught public school! She has been checking out books at the library and to date she has read 126 chapter books since June 2016!

There is big news this month about Copywork! Little Bug has started doing true Copywork where she has a text and copies it onto her own paper. She was not ready for this until just this month. She even surprised me and told me she wanted to write on notebook paper (instead of the big lined paper). I am so proud of her progress!

There are many opinions about whether a child in CC needs grammar instruction before reaching the age of the Essentials program at age 9. Many say just knowing the Foundations English grammar is enough. Others say it is helpful to have some grammar instruction before Essentials. I have been on the fence about this. I want to trust the CC system, but I can see both sides. I don’t think a hardcore Language Arts program like CLE’s is necessary, but I didn’t necessarily want to do no English grammar with Little Big either.

I had heard about First Language Lessons a few years ago. I found it on Amazon for $12.99 and decided to take the plunge and order it. I am so glad I did!! We are only 7 lessons in (out of 100) of Level 1, but so far this seems to be a good fit for Little Bug and our homeschool for several reasons. The lessons literally take 10 minutes to do! There is no required writing for Little Bug. There are “enrichment activities” that I can opt for her to do if I want, but the majority of the lessons are done orally in 10 minutes or less! FLL includes Copywork which comes at the perfect time since Little Bug is just beginning true Copywork. I feel very good about FFL and feel it is a good balance between doing a hardcore LA program and doing nothing before Essentials.


Sweet Pea finished COA 4/5 Kindergarten! Towards the end she called her work “baby work” and she was ready for something more challenging, especially in math. We have continued to work through CLE’s Kindergarten II. I think I will begin having her skip things in there that are too easy so we can get through those books before next year when I plan to start her with All About Reading Level 1! I have really tried to focus on having her practice handwriting so she can be ready to start formal academics next year.



CLE Math is amazing and I am so thankful we made the switch. I don’t know if Little Bug is just developmentally ready to learn time and money now or if CLE’s way of teaching it finally clicked with her, but she is finally grasping the concepts of time and money. CLE’s systematic, spiral approaching to learning is a perfect fit for Little Bug. We are on LightUnit 104. We will keep plugging along through LU 110 and then move on to Level 2 from there. There is a Counting Book where the student writes all the numbers from 1 to 1,000. They write 10 numbers per lesson (some lessons skip the Counting Book). This is such a good exercise for Little Bug as she is still grasping number sense.


Sweet Pea is loving her big girl math book…Horizons K! I already had this on the shelf for Sweet Pea although I plan to start her with CLE Math next year. In the meantime, she will probably work through the first book of Horizons K at the rate she is going! She loves her math work and does about 2 lessons a day. We pull out manipulatives to play with and then she enjoys doing the worksheets as well.


Classical Conversations

We only have 3 more weeks of Cycle 2. We continue to spend about 20-30 minutes reviewing the Memory Work. We used to do this right after Bible time and before we would start Language Arts, but I found that Sarge enjoys CC Review and with him sitting at the table I can review with the girls. He loves the history songs and doodles on a map while we review our Geography Memory Work. The CC app is so helpful during review time. It helps the girls get the memory work to stick in their minds. The girls also love the Timeline Cards and we have several games we play during review time. I mix the cards up and they have to put them back in order. I let them draw a card from the stack and then we say the timeline and they have to remember the missing card. The girls continue to randomly trace maps and draw blob maps. We don’t really have a set routine or schedule for this. They just do it whenever they feel the desire! Sarge had to go with us to Community Day one time this month and he did a great job not being a huge distraction (like he was last time I had to take him!). The girls always love to show off their baby brother at CC. Normally, both boys stay with my mom but my parents were out of town that week so Sarge came with us and Beau stayed with Dave (who was working from home) to take his nap.



We are still working our way through reading Genesis! We are on the story of Joseph, which is one of my most favorite stories of the Bible. There are big lessons about trusting God when things don’t seem to be going the “right” way and about forgiveness that I am looking forward to teaching my children. We also continue to work on memorizing our monthly Bible verses. I find memorizing a Bible verse per month (instead of a weekly verse) is more impactful because while they are memorizing less verses, more time spent on each verse plants it deeper into their hearts so it sticks down the road!


One morning as we were starting our school time, the girls saw a squirrel out the window who was being quite entertaining! So much so that Daddy heard the commotion and came out from working to see what was going on! We watched him for a good bit. The girls wondered what squirrels eat so we looked it up and read about it. Then, later that day they put cheerios on yarn to hang outside for the squirrels.

We don’t do any formal “nature study” because I find my kids naturally observing nature just like this all the time! We often see squirrels and lizards all over our property and the children love to watch them!


Managing the Littles while Homeschooling

A friend of mine was telling me she didn’t know how I homeschool and manage 4 kids. I told her it is like a puzzle and I just fit everything together so that everyone’s schedule and routine melts together to make organized chaos every single day!! I need to write a post about our current schedule, but I will briefly explain here how I homeschool and manage a toddler and baby at the same time.

The girls do their handwriting and copywork first thing while I am getting the boys down for nap (Beau) and in room time (Sarge). I read to Sarge before he plays in his room for 1 hour. This gives me a good chunk of time to get the majority of the girls’ school work completed for that day. We read the Bible, do Language Arts and Math with Little Bug and Kindergarten with Sweet Pea. When Sarge’s hour of room time is up, we still have about half an hour of school left to do so Sarge has “table time” where he plays at the table with puzzles, manipulatives and basically anything I know will hold his attention! Sometimes, Little Bug will play with him if she is done with her work, but most often she is still working and he sits with us at the table. We do CC Review last because Sarge enjoys it. Little Bug does have some independent work she does in the afternoon but we are able to finish school this way nearly every day!

Right now, Beau is sleeping all during school time, but I have started the process of teaching him to play independently during room time. He plays happily for 15-20 minutes during his first wake time of the day (so before his morning nap) and we will gradually increase that time to 30 minutes while he still takes a morning nap. Once the morning nap is dropped, his room time will increase to 45 minutes and by age 2 he will be doing 60 minutes of room time! Room Time is a lifesaver to our homeschool. I could not do it properly without the littles in room time for at least part of our homeschool time!


We only have 7 weeks left of this school year before we take the last part of May through June off so I can attend the Homeschool Convention, purchase any curriculum we will need for next year and prepare us for another year of learning! I enjoy this time of year as we are closing out another year and beginning to prepare for a new year. I have already started thinking about plans for next year as I do every year about this time!

Posted in Homeschool Highlights, Homeschooling

Mid-Year 2016-2017

I typically like to write a post mid-way through the school year to evaluate where each child is and where I see us going in the near future as far as their academics go. Since we adopted Beau in December 2016, I never got around to writing this post during the Christmas holidays, so I will write it now even though we well over the halfway point of this school year.

Here’s a brief overview of each child and where they are mid-year of the 2016-2017 school year and where I am headed with each one:

Little Bug ~ 7.5 years old

All About Reading

Little Bug has completed Level 2 of AAR. She is an avid reader, but I still feel like we need to keep going in AAR. There is more than just phonics instruction in AAR and I already have Level 3, so we will begin that probably in the new school year, if not before this year is over. Little Bug enjoys AAR. The format of the lessons suits her learning style perfectly which is why I have decided to stick with AAR even though she doesn’t really need phonics instruction anymore to learn to read since she is a fluent reader.

Explode the Code

Even though Little Bug doesn’t need phonics instruction, she is doing ETC for phonics practice and reinforcement. I think children should have phonics instruction through 3rd-4th grade. ETC is something that Little Bug can do independently. She is about finished with Book 3 1/2 and then she will start Book 4. I had her do Book 3 1/2 when she did not pass the test for Book 3. The half books are reinforcement and she certainly needed to learn the concepts and rules from Book 3 again by doing Book 3 1/2. Her skills have much improved in Book 3 1/2!

All About Spelling

Little Bug is halfway through Level 1 and when she is finished with Level 1 we will move right into Level 2. This is a solid Spelling curriculum. I am a little concerned with how teacher intensive it is (not in preparation for lessons as it is certainly an open-and-go curriculum but because I am required to teach every lesson). I hope that I can keep up the teaching instruction with 2 children in AAR and then 1 child in AAS next year. We might have to have a small schooling session once the littles are in bed for naptime to get it all in. I really love All About Learning curriculum! It has been so effective for Little Bug!

Handwriting Without Tears

We worked through the Kindergarten book at the beginning of the school year and it was another great tool to use to give Little Bug the extra handwriting practice I felt she needed this year.

A Reason for Handwriting K

Little Bug is working through this book for the second time. I gave her a choice of doing this book again or letting her choose a different handwriting book and she chose A Reason for Handwriting! Once she is finished with the K level, she will begin Level A which will have her writing the letters again and then eventually Bible verses! The lessons are very short which will be good because she will also be doing Copywork. Ideally I don’t want her handwriting book and Copywork to take more than 10-15 minutes tops.


I’ve had to ease Little Bug into Copywork. She started by tracing over what I had written using a Dry Eraser Pocket (genius invention!). By mid-year she was writing on the line below what I had written. By the end of this year, I would like to see her doing some Copywork in the traditional form of having some text and copying it to her own separate piece of paper.

Horizons Math

Little Bug completed the first book of Horizons Math 1 and then I knew the time had come to switch curriculum because there were too many problems crammed on the pages. I wanted to find something straight-forward without any fluff or busy work.

Christian Light Education 100 Math

When I found CLE and realized their scope and sequence is advanced just like Horizons, I decided CLE was worth a try. We have used it one month now and we both love the change! I love the systematic way math is taught. I love the simplicity of the math pages and that there are no colorful distracting pictures. I love that the Teacher’s Guide is truly there to guide me in teaching every single concept in ways that are just genius! I love the emphasize on basic math fact memorization and that there is a nifty little flashcard system built in to the curriculum for daily review of math facts in a very orderly, systematic way! I love the daily speed drills. CLE has every aspect of a math program needed for mastery of foundational mathematical concepts and skills taught by spiral review. I love everything there is about this math curriculum!

Sweet Pea ~ almost 5.5 years old

Confessions of a Homeschooler’s K4/5 Kindergarten Curriculum

Sweet Pea has nearly completed this, although she is only completing the bits and pieces of it that I decided we would do this year which is way less than half of what the full curriculum offers students! I knew we would have multiple things to dabble in this year and didn’t want to commit 100% to one curriculum for her. The activities she has done have been good for letter sounds and phonological awareness. She can sound out most CVC words which was my ultimate goal in doing the K4/5 Kinder curriculum. There has been some good basic math practice as well with skip counting, adding and subtracting and number recognition and counting to 100.

A Reason for Handwriting K

We’ve been taking this slow, working on one lesson (letter) per week! I think I will pick up the pace as I fully intend for her to work through this book twice just like Little Bug is doing. This is by far my favorite handwriting book for learning letter formation.

Explode the Code Primers ABC

I haven’t started Sweet Pea on these books yet. I’ve decided to hold them off for next school year once she has strengthened those writing skills even more.

BJU Math K

Sweet Pea started the year off working through the first half of this math workbook. Little Bug had done the last half of the book when she attended the private Kindergarten school right after we adopted Sarge. Sweet Pea loved working through this book and I saw that she catches on to math concepts quickly.

Math Games

We played lots of games towards the beginning of the year and I need to plan to play them some more with her throughout the remainder of this year.

Horizons Math K

While Horizons Math 1 wasn’t a good fit for Little Bug after the first book, I do really like Horizons Math K as an intro to basic math concepts for my 5-6 year olds. I had planned to start this with Sweet Pea at some point this school year, but then I discovered CLE Math and I know that is the direction I want to take our homeschool. As I said above, Little Bug started CLE Math in February and I decided to start Sweet Pea on CLE Math in the next school year and not do Horizons with her. CLE Math 100 starts at the very beginning of math and it would not be necessary for her to do Horizons Math K to be ready for CLE Math. However, just last week, I could tell Sweet Pea wanted more, so I pulled out the first Horizons Math K book and she wanted to start it right away. And we did. And she completed the first 10 lessons right then! So my plan with this is to work through it with her as long as she is interested. We most likely won’t do the entire Horizons Math K curriculum and we may not even get through the entire first book because I do still intend to start CLE Math with her next school year.



Dave started reading Apologia’s Who is God? to the girls at the beginning of the year, but they stopped as he felt it was too much for them at their current ages. He thought the book was excellent and we fully intend to pull it off the shelf again when the girls are a couple years older.

We read The Jesus Storybook Bible from beginning to end and we all really enjoyed that.

After that we read God’s Names which was an excellent book to read through with the girls to teach them about the character of our God. We actually have a few names still to read about from that book that we will get back to at some point in the near future.

We are reading from the NIV Adventure Bible now. There is nothing better than opening the actual Word of God with your children first thing in the morning!

Classical Conversations

This year I planned very minimal activities and projects to do to correlate with our Memory Work. I did that on purpose because we were adopting in July and I knew I needed to keep this school year extra simple with a newborn in the house. I had everything planned and ready to go in file folders by week (and many weeks had nothing at all because, like I said, I was keeping this year simple). When that adoption failed in late July and we ended up not having a newborn in the house at the start of our school year, I didn’t add anything to the file folders and I decided to keep this year very simple and see how I liked it compared to last year.

I think next year I will be planning more activities to do to correlate with our Memory Work. This is partly because they are fun and my children enjoy them but mostly because I have been looking forward to the content of Cycle 3’s Memory Work since we started CC! American History, the Human Body and USA Geography are fun to learn about and there are so many fun activities and projects we can do!


Sarge has definitely added an extra measure of challenge to our homeschooling being a 2-year-old this school year, but overall, we found our groove in keeping him busy during school time so we were not constantly intervening his antics to destroy school! He loves his room time and currently at 2.5 years old he still has his room time in his pack n play which is set up in his bedroom. He plays happily in there for 60 minutes 4-5 days a week while listening to music! It is an absolute lifesaver to me having that solid hour to do what I need to do with each girl without the “help” of their toddler brother! Once Sarge is out of his room, we have been able to complete our morning school work by having 1 sister play with Sarge while I am working with the other sister. Most recently, I started implementing “table time” with Sarge where he joins us at the dining room table sitting in his booster seat and I give him puzzles, coloring or magnets to play with while we finish up. I’d always heard it is harder to homeschool your older children with a toddler underfoot than it is to homeschool with an infant in the house and that is totally true!

My goal with Sarge this year was to read to him daily and I do this every morning before he has his room time. He knows the routine. We go read in his room and then we come back to the dining room (where the girls are doing copywork) and he says bye to his sisters as he goes off for his room time! I will continue to read to him daily during this time. We read more throughout the day, too. By age two, I want my children loving books and I have successfully gotten Sarge loving books!


My goal was to get Beau on a solid and predictable eating and sleeping schedule. I wasn’t sure how long it would take me to do this as I knew our first priority needed to be attachment and bonding, however, I am confident giving him the gift of an eating and sleeping schedule helped him learn to trust me as his caregiver! He was so desperate for sleep and routine and predictability…and he found it here at home. He sleeps during our morning school time, going down right before I take Sarge to his bedroom to read to him!

When the babies start sitting independently, I start intentional “room time training” where I teach them to play happily in their pack n play. Beau is nearly an independent sitter so it is almost time to start teaching him about room time! (Before this, the babies have some independent playtime on the playmat to get them used to playing by themselves. Unlike the other 3 kids, Beau became mobile before he could sit up so the playmat time doesn’t work with him as he just scoots right off the playmat!) Soon, I will start having Beau play in his pack n play for 10ish minutes in the morning sometime before his morning nap. Gradually, I will increase the amount of time until he is at 30 minutes by 12 months old. From there the time is gradually increased to 45 minutes by 18 months old. By age two, they are doing 60 minutes of room time! Their room time increases as their morning nap time decreases. Once they drop the morning nap, they are already trained to have room time. Room time takes the place of their morning nap so we can still get school work done in the morning!


This school year has flown by. I have greatly enjoyed having the majority of planning and prep work done for the entire school year at the beginning of the year! I did that in preparation for the baby and it still paid off in the end since we adopted Beau in December! I really worked hard in June planning and prepping and I intend to do the same (maybe not quite to the extent that I did it last year) this June.

Both girls are making progress and learning although after this year they will both have a big shift in their school work. While Little Bug will still practice phonics through 3rd-4th grade, I need to decide what we will use for learning about literary tools and the other components of language arts. I hope to have some clarity in this after this year’s Homeschool Convention. Sweet Pea will start her formal academics next year and begin learning to read. I look forward to seeing another one of my children blossom into a fluent reader!

We are well on our way to a successful end to our fourth year homeschooling!

Posted in Homeschooling

Homeschool Highlights {February}


We’ve been reading Genesis straight from the NIV Adventure Bible. I read one chapter each morning. We’ve had some wonderful discussions. There is nothing sweeter than having the privilege of being able to open the Word of God every morning with my daughters to begin our school day. We read the chapter and discuss what we can learn about God, mankind and sin from that chapter. Some mornings our Bible time has inched it’s way into school time but that is the beauty of homeschool. I don’t have to stop at a certain time to move on. We can open the Word of God and stay there as long as the girls’ attention is there. We also daily work on memorizing our monthly Bible verse.


Language Arts

Little Bug is plugging away in All About Spelling Level 1. She is halfway through Level 1 and I already have Level 2 ready to go. I love the way AAS teaches spelling! I am not a natural speller. It has been proven that random spelling lists and a weekly test do not improve spelling. Learning spelling rules and knowing how to spell the individual sounds in words improves spelling skills and this is the way AAS teaches children to spell! I have a feeling I am going to improve my own spelling skills simply by teaching AAS to my children!

Little Bug is also halfway through A Reason for Handwriting K for the second time. She knows how to form all her letters. It is just a matter of whether she wants to write neatly, or not. Going through ARFH K a second time has been good, extra practice for her.

This month, for Copywork, Little Bug started writing the Bible verses on the line below where I wrote the verse. Previously, she had been tracing over what I wrote. In the next couple of months (before the end of this school year), I want to transition her to true Copywork where she will have a text and copy it on to her own paper.


Sweet Pea only has about a month left of Confession of a Homeschooler’s K4/5 Kinder Curriculum. She is also working through A Reason for Handwriting K. Sweet Pea was wanting more so I decided to order Christian Light Education’s Kindergarten II curriculum. This curriculum covers language arts and math through a variety of interactive worksheet activities. She completed two of the 10 books this month!



We made a big change in math this month by switching math curriculums! At the end of January, Little Bug finished the first book of Horizons Math 1. As I looked ahead to the second book, I could tell the presentation of Horizon’s math was no longer going to be best for Little Bug. When I looked at samples of Christian Light Education’s math curriculum I knew the straight-forward, no fluff approach to math was exactly where we needed to go. Plus, CLE has math fact flashcards and drills built into the curriculum for daily practice! This is something that was missing in Horizons and is something I always had to compensate for. The Teacher’s Guide for CLE Math is phenomenal. We have completed 20 CLE math lessons and we both agree that we enjoy CLE Math!


Sweet Pea has been working on learning some basic math facts using K4/5 Kinder’s Add It math game! She learned the +1’s, +2’s and +3’s this month. She has also been working on skip counting. By the end of this month, I could tell she was wanting more, so I asked her if she wanted to start Horizons Math K. She was so excited and did the first 20 pages of the book the first week of March. (I will talk more about this in March’s Homeschool Highlights post.)


Classical Conversations

We are on the last 6 weeks of our second year of Classical Conversations! I love how CC naturally breaks up our school year. We begin our school year in mid-July since we school year round. So, we get 6 weeks of school in before CC starts. Then, we do the first 6 weeks of CC which brings us to October and our first break week. I use that break week to review the first 6 weeks of Memory Work with the girls. The second 6 weeks of CC takes us to mid-November when we break for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. That break is nice because we can spend time reviewing the first half of the year’s Memory Work! Also, if there is a special project or activity I wanted to do with the girls that we didn’t get to, the break week is the perfect time to fit it in. (This year we didn’t do that because we were adopting a baby!) The third 6 weeks of CC begins in January after the holiday break and takes us through mid-February when we have another break week. Again, we use that time to review the previous 6 weeks of Memory Work and catch up on any activities we didn’t get to. Then, the final 6 weeks of the year is split with a Spring Break week halfway through the final 6 weeks. We finish up the CC school year in mid-April, which means we still will have about 5-6 weeks left of the school year before our break month in June! We use that time to review all of the Memory Work learned that year and we also use the time in our schedule for CC Review to add something to our school routine that we don’t normally do (like Blob Mapping)! I have naturally fallen into a 6-week routine of planning for school, evaluating each subject for each child and making sure we are still headed in the right direction. Every 6 weeks, I also go through completed work to save several pieces to go in their Portfolios. CC has brought an unexpected order to every aspect of our homeschool!

In the picture below, on the left, the girls are reviewing the past 6 weeks of Memory Work during our February break week. I would ask a question and for every correct response they got to choose another part for their Mr. Potato Heads! The picture on the top is Little Bug intently working on her art work in her CC class. The picture below is Sweet Pea giving her weekly presentation to her class.

We absolutely LOVE Classical Conversations and I cannot wait to start planning for Cycle 3 soon! I’ve been looking forward to Cycle 3 since we started CC at Cycle 1! Cycle 3 is all about American History and Geography. That is going to be lots of fun to study with the girls!


Valentine’s Day

The girls had fun making Valentine Cards for their friends at Classical Conversations. They used pink and purple paper and stickers to create their cards. We bought pencils to attach to the cards.


Table Time

Homeschooling two children with a 2-year-old underfoot definitely has it’s unique challenges! One strategy I use after Sarge has completed his daily 1 hour Room Time (a vital part of our homeschool morning when Sarge plays independently in his bedroom) is Table Time! Sarge knows when he leaves his room it is time to come sit at the table. There are some days he is not in the mood for Table Time, but for the most part, this works well in buying me time to finish up school with the girls without a toddler wreaking havoc on everyone’s work! Sarge does puzzles (this mostly consists of taking the pieces and playing with them), plays with his cars and plastic animals (his favorite toys), puts animal and ABC magnets on the cookie sheet, colors and sometimes he just sits and somewhat participates in what we are doing! If we are doing CC Review, he loves to listen to the songs!



Little Bug is quite the artist of the family! Next year, I hope to look into more ways she can create and do art during our normal school routines, but she is always finding ways to be creative. The large elephant was already on this handwriting sheet that she colored but she drew the baby elephant free-hand by looking at the big elephant and copying it! Then one day during rest time (when Little Bug often chooses to spend her time being creative) she came to me and showed me a picture of “Mona Lisa” that she had drawn. She saw the real Mona Lisa in our Usborne Art book and copied it!


We have another 2.5 months left to this school year and then we will be headed into our 5th year of homeschooling! After next year, I will officially be a homeschool mom longer than I was a public school teacher!

Posted in Homeschool Highlights, Homeschooling, Uncategorized

Christian Light Education Math

We made our first ever big mid-year curriculum switch. After working through Horizons K Math and the first book of Horizons 1, I made the decision to switch Little Bug over to Christian Light Education Math.

I absolutely love the systematic layout of each lesson. There is the counting and review time, then the workbook time and after that, flash cards with a speed drill followed by independent work time. At first, it might seem like these lessons are long and drawn out compared to the front and back page of a Horizons math worksheet, but each component of the CLE math lessons move quickly. The variety of daily activities makes the lessons more interesting than just working the front and back of a worksheet every day!

Here is an inside peek into Christian Light Education Level 100 Math and all the components that work together to make this math curriculum so thorough and engaging!



This is what I purchased for Christian Light Education Level 100 Math: LightUnit Set (101-110), Math 101-105 Teacher’s Guide, Math 106-110 Teacher’s Guide, My Counting Book, Counting Chart, Addition and Subtraction Flash Cards and the Student Clock (with gears).

This post is going to walk through Lesson 38. This is the Teacher’s Guide for the first five (of 10) LightUnits:


New Skills/Concepts

Each lesson begins with a list of New Skills/Concepts that will be taught in that lesson. For Lesson 38, you will be teaching how to read a number line with a scale of fives and how to draw a triangle by connecting points. Your child will also begin memorizing 4-4=0 and 4-0=4.

Class Preparation

Next, you will see in the Teacher’s Guide a list of things to prepare before teaching the lesson. This is an open-and-go curriculum, so the class preparation takes under five minutes. It will have you gather the coins needed for the Money Cup (more on this later), it will have you get the Fact Card ready for the day and it will tell you where to move any fact cards that need to be moved (more on this later, too!).

Meet With Students

  • Counting – The lesson begins with counting practice. Your child will count by 5’s to the number 75 and from 9-28. The Counting Chart can assist them in this task.

  • My Counting Book Activities – The My Counting Book guides children in a written counting experience from 1 to 1,000. Beginning in Lesson 48, your child will write a sequence of 10 numbers each day all the way to 1,000 by the end of Level 100!
  • Review – Because this is a spiral curriculum, there is a list of concepts and skills to quickly review. Lesson 38 has the child reviewing the value and characteristics of a nickel and what congruent means. These are all concepts and skills taught in previous lessons.

Begin LightUnit Activities

After the counting exercises and the review, it is time for your child to pull out their LightUnit! This is LightUnit 102 and includes Lessons 21-40:

  • Title Bar – The lesson begins with a Title Bar activity. The answer to the Title Bar activity always corresponds to the lesson number. For lesson 38, there were 3 groups of 10 and 8 ones which equals 38.

  • Lesson – After the Title Bar Activity it is time to introduce the new facts. The child will copy the new facts. Then, there is a story problem for you to read aloud to your child. They write the math fact that tells the story in their book. After this, the lesson continues with specific instructions on what to teach and do for each section. The Teacher’s Guide tells you exactly what to teach and what you say to your child is even in bold so it stands out in the guide.

Drill Flash Cards – After the lesson, it is time to drill flash cards with your child. Memorization of the basic addition and subtraction math facts was missing in the other math curriculum we used before finding CLE. The math flash cards are organized in a genius flash-card system with 8 dividers: Unused facts, New Facts, Once A Day and a divider for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The Teacher’s Guide tells you explicitly where to move the cards. Follow the directions completely and this system will work!

Administer Speed Drill – There is a quick 1 minute Speed Drill for each lesson. Set a timer and have your child complete as many problems as they can in 1 minute. There is a box to write how many problems were answered correctly in the 1 minute. I love the emphasize CLE puts on these basic facts. It is so important children learn these facts in the early years so that when they reach higher level math, they are not having to still use a ton of brain power just to figure out basic math. Each Speed Drill takes up only half of one sheet of paper.

Explain and assign I Can Do This – Once basic math practice is complete it is time to assign your child their independent math work. This section is called “I Can Do This”. I love that positive words are being used every day to tell the child that, yes, you can do this! Go over each section with your child and then let them complete everything on their own. After they are finished, you can check their work and then go over anything they answered incorrectly.

The first part of I Can Do This in Lesson 38:


The second part of I Can Do This in Lesson 38:

Money Cup – This is another genius component of CLE Math! When your child comes across the cup symbol in their LightUnit, they know it is time to get their Money Cup and count the coins. There is something about being able to pour those real coins out on to the table and count them one-by-one that makes counting money like this so much better than trying to count coins that are drawn on a math worksheet.

Tests and Quizzes – There are 2 quizzes and 1 test per LightUnit.

A sample of a quiz in LightUnit 103:

Test in LightUnit 103:

I started Little Bug in LightUnit 102 (second book). It has been very easy for her but I wanted it to be easy as we transitioned from one math curriculum to another. CLE Math picks up in LightUnit 103, which we will be starting next week. I believe this change will continue to be a positive change for Little Bug.

Posted in Christian Light Education Math, Homeschool Curricula, Homeschooling

Homeschool Highlights {January}

We took 3 weeks off for Christmas and to adjust to having a new baby. The first week of January, I decided we would attempt to get back into the swing of things. My strategy was to ease back in to everything very slowly so I could see how our current routine might still work and what I would need to tweak due to the new dynamics of homeschooling a seven and five year old while managing the needs of a toddler and baby!

PicMonkey Collage

Our first day back was January 4th and it was a very simple day. The girls did their handwriting/copywork, we read the Bible and then I did a joint math lesson with them on Fact Families because that was Little Bug’s new math concept coming up in her math book that week. Sarge was having his Independent Playtime and Beau was taking his morning nap. I knew I needed that day to get the momentum going again for school since we had been out of the routine for so long. Those first couple of weeks were more challenging than normal, but we pushed through. Within 2-3 weeks, we found a new rhythm that I am sure will have to be tweaked many times from here to the end of our school year in May, but I am confident our homeschool will be just fine through this transition.

A big reason for that is because Sarge is already trained to play happily in his bedroom for 60 minutes every morning! If I didn’t have that time without a toddler underfoot, homeschooling would be a daily disaster. The last 30-60 minutes of our school morning can be quite challenging once he is finished with his Independent Playtime, but putting a sister in charge of playing with and entertaining him while I am working with the other sister and giving him “table activities” (coloring, puzzles) helps us make it through the last half of our school day somewhat sane on most days.

On days when our school day is a disaster, I remind myself that this is just a season. Every year, the littles will be a little bit older and, before I know it, I won’t have the challenge of a toddler underfoot while trying to school my older children…and then I will have a new set of challenges to deal with!

These boys already have a special bond. I pray one day soon, they will decide school time is “brother time” and they will go off and play cars together and do whatever else brothers like to do together while I am schooling their sisters. Wouldn’t that be nice?!


Classical Conversations

Like last year, I had plans to review Weeks 1-12 Memory Work during the 7-week Christmas break we had. Obviously, those plans did not happen, and that is perfectly okay. I do not feel like the girls have their Memory Work down like they did last year, but I would bet they probably know more than I am giving them credit for here because that is the beauty of CC!

We jumped right back into the routine of daily Memory Work review once we went back for Week 13 on January 10th. Grams and Gramps are attending Community Days with the girls during this time when I cannot leave Beau with anyone else as we work to form healthy attachment and bonding between us and him.

The girls received a telescope for Christmas from Grams and Gramps and they have enjoyed looking at stars and planets after studying the Solar System in CC before Christmas Break. They were also excited to see Gallon Man back for Week 13 math!


During our “get back into the routine” weeks, the girls randomly asked if they could trace the world map from their Geography trivium table. They both did such an excellent job and they both even labeled each continent! They took these for their presentations one week this month! I was so proud of them. Little Bug’s is on the left and Sweet Pea’s is on the right:


This Matching Matter! was a fun cut-and-paste activity we did the week we were learning about solids, liquids and gases in science.



We gave The Big Picture Bible to the girls for Christmas. It didn’t take us very long to read through the entire thing during our Bible reading time in the morning. I’ve heard such great things about this children’s Bible but, after reading it, I was disappointed in it. Like Little Bug said, it left out a lot (which I know children’s Bible story books tend to do). I guess I am still glad we have a copy because certain parts were well told, but overall I don’t think I would recommend this children’s Bible.

We are now reading Genesis straight from The Adventure Bible! This is something I have longed to do with my girls and I felt they were both at the age where I could keep their attention reading straight from the Bible. We are also continuing to work our way through God’s Names.


Little Bug

Little Bug finished All About Reading Level 2 on January 19th! She is an avid, fluent reader but we will pick up with Level 3 in the near future. We will skip over the phonics sections for the most part and focus on the other parts of All About Reading Level 3. She will continue to get phonics reinforcement with Explode the Code.


Little Bug finished the first book of Horizons 1 on January 25th! I will talk more about where we are headed next in math below.

We have started All About Spelling Level 1 and that will be our focus for language arts for the time being. I love that AAS reinforces what we’ve learned in AAR 1&2.


Sweet Pea

Sweet Pea continues to work through Confessions of a Homeschooler’s K4/5 Kindergarten Curriculum. I was planning to start some more formal schooling for Sweet Pea in the new semester, but with the new baby, I have postponed those plans. I am incredibly thankful for the freedom to do a very relaxed Kinder year with Sweet Pea. If we were choosing to send our children to public school, I probably would have “held back” all 4 children due to their summer birthdays. So, instead of entering Kindergarten at newly 5 years old, they would enter Kindergarten at newly 6 years old.

The sudden and unexpected adoptions of both of my boys when they each had an older sister that was in Kindergarten, has made me realize the beauty and freedom of delayed academics. Five year olds do not need formal schooling. At all. They do need plenty of time to play and explore. Sweet Pea likes to “do school” and COHS K4/5 Kinder meets those desires for her. I LOVE the Add It Game included in her curriculum. It is a game designed to teach children their basic addition and subtraction facts. We are focusing on that right now for math instruction. AAR Level 1 and Horizons Math K will come in their time and this is not the time!


In this season, I have allowed Sweet Pea to choose how she spends her “school time” many days. Once she completes her K4/5 Kinder work, she has asked to draw! She loves to watch Art for Kids Hub and draw with the instructors step-by-step directions. She drew this My Little Pony!



Our school day still begins with Copywork and handwriting practice. This is something the girls can each do independently while I am getting the boys settled in Independent Playtime and nap so we can begin our formal morning learning time.

Both girls are working through A Reason for Handwriting K. This is Little Bug’s second time through this book as she needed some extra practice in handwriting. Little Bug is doing 1 lesson (letter) per day while Sweet Pea is working on 1 lesson (letter) per week. I put Sweet Pea’s page in a dry erase pocket so she can practice the same lesson multiple times throughout the week. On Friday she takes the page out of the pocket and writes her letters on the paper.

Little Bug’s copywork consists of tracing Bible verses that I have written. I’ve placed the page in dry erase pocket so she can trace over what I have written. She does 1 verse per week and she is currently writing the Bible verses we memorized together last year. Next month, she is going to start copying the verses on the extra line below my writing (instead of tracing). Our eventual goal is for her to copy these verses onto her own sheet of paper.


New Curriculum

I have decided to try a different math curriculum – Christian Light Education. I have shared how every year at Convention I am always torn about what math curriculum to use. Little Bug has completed Horizons K through the first book of Horizons 1. As I looked ahead, I knew the “busyness” of Horizons was going to complicate things for Little Bug. When I looked at a sample of CLE math, I loved the simpleness that I saw. It was just straightforward math. No fluff.

Knowing Horizons is advanced in scope and sequence, I did not want to switch to another math program that was not. As I explored and researched CLE math, I quickly discovered that CLE’s scope and sequence is nearly identical to Horizon’s. That was my deciding factor to go ahead and make the switch.

Our first day with CLE math will be Monday, January 30th! I am looking forward to diving into this math curriculum with Little Bug. I think it is going to be a positive change for both of us. I will report how we like CLE math in next month’s Homeschool Highlight post!


CLE’s prices are astoundingly affordable, which was another huge deciding factor for me in deciding to take the plunge and give CLE a try. For this reason, I also decided to go ahead and buy Sweet Pea the Kindergarten II books! She will finish K4/5 Kinder before the year is over and since I am delaying formal academics, I decided these 5 books (for under $20) filled with language arts and math activities would be a smart choice for Sweet Pea.

Outside Play

When our formal learning time is finished, it is outside time until lunch time in our house every day! We recently fenced in our backyard so that I can safely send the older three children out to play while I feed Beau his bottle and get lunch prepped and on the table for the other three! Little Bug has taken to capturing lizards…and holding them hostage in my tupperware! I ended up giving her a few containers for her lizards that are not to come back in the house!


We’ve had a warm “winter” and have enjoyed many lunches out on our deck!


I love this picture Little Bug drew of our family of 6! IMG_5123.JPG

I look to the future with great expectation. This has always been my dream…to be a mother to four and homeschool them. There are certainly challenges and days when I wonder why in the world this is what I wanted! I am quickly reminded why when I stop in the middle of the chaos and think….

Mothers have the most important job in the universe.

Daily, we are training, molding and teaching our little ones in the way that they should go…so that when they are old, they will not depart from it.

I don’t take this role lightly in the least bit. It may not look glamorous to be up to your eyeballs in spit up and dirty diapers from a toddler and infant all while trying to educate and referee your big kids, but it is not lost on me that I am doing the most important work I could possibly be doing right now in this season of my life.

Posted in Homeschool Highlights, Homeschooling

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!


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!


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!


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!


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.


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!


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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!


Our family of 6 on Christmas Day!


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.

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?


Posted in Adoption, Homeschool Highlights

I’ll Be Home for Christmas


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.

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.


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.


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.


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.



Here is how I have organized our CC materials!


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.


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


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!


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).


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.


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.


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

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}


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



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!



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.


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!



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.


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!


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!


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


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


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!


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

Posted in Homeschool Highlights, Homeschooling

Homeschool Room {2016-2017 Update}


Our Homeschool Room has moved yet again!


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


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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


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.


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.


 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