Thursday, December 31, 2015

Fun-School Spelling Journal by the Thinking Tree {Review}

It's no secret that my family loves the journals available through the Thinking Tree. Sarah Janisse Brown has created some amazing resources for homeschooling. While we have decided to return to our homeschool curriculum, we are still going to be utilizing a lot of these journals.

One of the journals my 2nd grader, Mercie, will be using daily is the Fun-Schooling Spelling Journal. This journal is for children ages 5 and up, but I would use it for a child who is writing and reading on at least a 1st grade level.">Fun-Schooling Spelling Journal - Ages 5 and Up: Teach Your Child to Read, Write and Spell (Homeschooling for Beginners) (Volume 3)

There are 180 pages of fun activities in this journal. Here is an example of each activity:

On this page, Mercie colors the picture on the left, and on the right side she has to find 10 words with a certain number of letters. She can look at cereal boxes, movie cases, books, magazines, anything to find the words. Then she was instructed to draw something. There are many pages like this with different pictures.

On this page, she had to write one word for each letter on the left page. I instructed her to use words she could find in the Bible. She wrote angel, Bethlehem, camel, donkey, Esther, fishing, God, heaven and injured.

There are several pages to draw your own comics. She hasn't gotten to these yet.

On these pages, she had to spell five words that could describe the picture on the left. Then, she colored the picture.
I plan to use some of these with grammar concepts. For example, on this page I will have her write five adjectives that could describe the mittens {soft, striped, fluffy, etc}.

There are several pages like this. She will write a short story about the pictures. She hasn't completed one of these, yet, either.

On this page, she will have to use every letter in the alphabet in only ten words. I'm sure I will have to help her with this, but it looks fun.

This Fun-Schooling Spelling Journal is a great way to learn how to spell. Mercie wants to work in this journal first thing every morning. I let her choose her own page for the day, which she likes. It's such a fun addition to school, and it doesn't feel like "school work".

This journal is only $24 on Amazon! It's a full year of daily spelling practice, not to mention some writing, coloring and drawing, as well. We plan to continue to use this every day.


Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Blogging Through the Alphabet: I is for Intervews! {with my kids}

We are Week 9 of Blogging Through the Alphabet. This week "I" is for Interviews! I've never interviewed my children before, and I thought it would be a fun thing to do! My children are ages 3-13, and I wrote down exactly what they said! It gave me a few chuckles.

Mikaela: 13 years old

What is your favorite subject? Why?
"The Math Journal is fun and makes you think, without being too hard."

What is your least favorite subject? Why?
"Definitely  history, because it's boring."

What do you want to be when you grow up?
"A cosmetologist. I love fixing people's hair and doing their makeup and nails. I think it would be a fun job."

What is your favorite thing to do?
"I like hunting because it's so peaceful and quiet and I like shooting."

What is your favorite food?
"I like the curly fries and hamburgers from the Little Freezer." {local restaurant}

What is your favorite Bible verse?
"1 Corinthians 14:40, 'Let all things be done decently and in order.'"

Eli: 10 years old

What is your favorite subject? Why?
"My favorite subject is history because it's fun to learn about things that happened in the past."

What is your least favorite subject? Why?
 "Math, because you have to do the same problems over and over again when you've already practiced it a lot."

What do you want to be when you grow up?
"A baker, because you can decorate all the delicious goodies you want."

What is your favorite thing to do?
"Eat, because I love food."
What is your favorite food?
 "Fried chicken legs. They are so good."

What is your favorite Bible verse?
"Psalm 1:1, 'Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful."

Mercie: 2nd grade

What is your favorite subject? Why?
 "Math, because it's fun and you learn a lot."

What is your least favorite subject? Why?
 "History, because it isn't fun and hard to understand. I don't really like learning about presidents and stuff."

What do you want to be when you grow up?
 "Hair-cutter, because it would be fun and you make a lot of money."

What is your favorite thing to do?
"Jump on the trampoline."

What is your favorite food?
"Chicken nuggets!"

What is your favorite Bible verse?
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son for whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16"

Silas: Kindergarten

What is your favorite subject {thing to do in school}?
 "The thing where you have to color the numbers. A journal is what I mean." {His Count and Color Journal for Boys - so cute.}

What is your least favorite subject {thing to do in school}?
"Flashcards. It's so haaaaaard." {He is talking about his alphabet flashcards. Poor boy is having the hardest time memorizing his letters.}

What do you want to be when you grow up?
"This is what I really am going to grow up to be. Rubble on the Double."

What is your favorite thing to do?
 "Spend the night with Nana."

What is your favorite food?
"Puppy Chow."

What is your favorite Bible story?
"Jesus created the earth and the world."

Titus: 3 years old


What is your favorite subject {thing to do in school}?
 "I don't know."

What is your least favorite subject {thing to do in school}?
"Um, do homework and that's it."

What do you want to be when you grow up?
"Daddy. And Chase is on the Case too."

What is your favorite thing to do?
"Um,  just Paw Patrol."

What is your favorite food?
"Macaroni and cheese."

What is your favorite Bible story?
"{singing...}Jesus loves me, yes I know, for the Bible tells me so. Holy holy holy."

I thought these were sweet, and I wish I would have thought of more questions! I will have to do it again sometime.

Linking up with Meg and Cristi and Blogging Through the Alphabet.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Mixing It Up!

After Christmas,  we usually change our homeschool curriculum up some. I wasn't planning to this year, though! We have been using Do-It-Yourself Homeschooling Journals since mid-October and enjoying them very much!

However, yesterday, my ten-year old son, Eli, asked if we could take a break from the journals and return to Heart of Dakota's Bigger Hearts for His Glory. After all, I did say that we were just taking a break from HOD to see how the journals worked out. I was surprised, to say the least! Especially after talking to both Mikaela and Mercie and hearing the same thing.

So, we are mixing things up!

The tentative plan is this: Use Bigger Hearts Monday-Thursday {condensing 5 days into 4, which is very doable} and have Friday for Journal Day. They will use the books and information they learned from HOD that week for their journals. Mercie will continue using the Fun-Time Spelling Journal and the Bible Devotion Journal daily.

Mikaela isn't doing HOD, but she wants to return to America the Beautiful and Science in the Ancient World. However, the ATB workload was starting to stress her out, so we will be stretching out her daily lessons to two {or three} days. She will read about half of her lesson and complete half of her activities one day, and finish reading and completing the activities the next. I don't mind going slower, if it means she will retain more information and not be as stressed. She will do science twice a week instead of three days. She will continue using the Spelling Time Journal and the Math Book from the Thinking Tree.

Silas's schedule won't change much. I am planning to add in more science and Bible for him, and I would love to do FIAR with him. If it were up to him, he would watch Paw Patrol all day and call it good.

As I said, this is tentative. I do want my children to enjoy learning, and I take their feedback seriously. I don't, however, allow them to make the final decisions on school. I liked Bigger Hearts and enjoyed the time we spent together, so I think this will be just fine.

Are any of you changing things up?

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Blogging Through the Alphabet - H is for Homeschooling Kindergarten

We are on Week 8 of Blogging Through the Alphabet, and H is for Homeschooling Kindergarten {how we are doing it right now}!

Silas is 5 1/2 {very important to add the 1/2} and in "kindergarten" this year. I hesitate using a grade "label" for him, as some of his work is preschool level and some is kindergarten/1st grade level.

I believe homeschooling should be fun, especially in the early years. I do not allow our "school" each day to go over an hour, and most of that hour is fun! Here are the books Silas is using daily:

Handwriting: He is using the Beginning Manuscript Handwriting workbook daily. This workbook is great for beginning writers. There is one page a day to complete, and it takes him maybe 5 minutes {including coloring the adorable pictures on each page!}.

Math: Silas is working through Essential Math B right now. We don't do this book every day, as some days we use fun things to learn math. {Some of my favorite resources below!}

Readiness Skills: Silas is using Rod and Staff workbooks to work on his cutting, gluing, rhyming, and other thinking skills. He usually works around 3 pages a week in these books. Right now, he is using Finding the Answers.

Fun Schooling: Silas is working through this Fun-Schooling Journal for ages 3-7. He has a variety of pages to complete in here each day and the number of pages he does varies from day to day. I really just take cues from him on when to stop. Some days, he may want to do 5 or 6 pages, and some days he may do 1 or 2. Here is my review post on this journal.

Art First - Dyslexia Games Series A: Silas is also working through Dyslexia Games Series A, Art First. He has to complete patterns and pictures which helps his visual discrimination skills. He usually does 3 pages a week.

He is also using All About Reading, pre-reading. We are still working on recognizing lowercase letters. He has finally gotten most of the uppercase! Yay! We haven't worked on sounds yet,  but we will get to that. AAR takes him around 20 -30 minutes a day. We review the letters he knows using play-dough, flash cards, craft sticks, and other things to form letters. He learns a few new letters each week.

I know that it looks like a lot of workbooks, but he only has around an hour each day of "workbooks". The rest of the time is spent with educational toys, puzzles and games. I am going to mention a few of our favorites!

These number flash cards are great for tactile learners. The sandpaper is fun to feel, and the kids can really "see" how to form the letters by rubbing them.

Counting bears are so much fun. They are great for sorting by color and size. I found these pattern cards on ebay a few years ago, and they are a lot of fun for working on patterns!

Silas loves to complete the pattern cards, and I printed off the alphabet cards to help him learn his letters. All of my kids enjoy these pattern block cards.

I love these flash cards. They are not only colorful and textured, but they are great for learning letters, shapes, colors, and working on vocabulary.

We have several different lacing cards, but these Very Hungry Caterpillar ones are my favorite! They are so colorful and fun, and the lacing is great fine motor skill practice.

There are so many more things we use: puzzles, games, sorting, beads... The main thing to remember is:

Homeschooling Kindergarten is a lot of fun!

Linking up with Meg and Cristi at Blogging Through the Alphabet.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Week in Review: December 14-18, 2015

Wow! I can't believe how quickly Christmas has come this year! We did a little school this week, but plan to take off the entire week next week.

Mikaela and Eli went to the hunting camp with Rod on Tuesday and came back on Thursday. Mikaela killed her first doe, and they all had a great time!

They did school on Monday and Friday. Both of them worked in their journals and on Khan Academy. Mikaela worked on different types of angles, and Eli worked on decimals and fractions. They also have some extra things they are working on from School House Teachers.

Mercie and Silas had a little more school work this week, but I didn't push it. Mercie worked on addition and subtraction with carrying and borrowing on Khan Academy. She also reviewed collective, singular and plural nouns. She started working in her Fun-Schooling Spelling Journal and absolutely loves it! {Review to come soon!} She has an art class she is "taking" on School House Teachers, and she made a Picasso inspired picture.

Silas reviewed his uppercase alphabet and we worked on "a" - "f" lowercase alphabet. He practiced counting to 30, writing his numbers, and we played a fun game. I took the numbers 1-12 from a wooden clock we have, put them in a plastic container and he had to draw one out. He had to tell me the number, write it in his salt tray, count out that many vehicles and then put the number on the clock. It was fun, but he still has to work on recognizing 7,8,9,11, and 12. He also built with wooden blocks and Duplo's, built train tracks, and played with puzzles.

Mercie, Silas and Titus went to Team Kid Wednesday night at church and had a Christmas party. Their teacher gave them each a gift bag, and they were excited to see watercolors in it! They did some painting today.

At my mom's house, we made these cute stable ornaments from craft sticks and foam glitter stickers. They will give these to their Sunday School teachers at church Sunday.

We also made these reindeer and tree ornaments.

Two little boys got much needed haircuts this week! We also took pictures with my sister's kids. We are so glad to be home, and anxious for Christmas! How was your week?

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Junior High Junction: Link-Up!

I will be starting a link up geared toward Junior High/Middle School age kids starting the first week of January! Any posts that are directed toward Junior High will be allowed. This includes:

  • week in review
  • curriculum picks
  • reviews
  • give-aways
  • tips and ideas
  • activities or experiments
  • a post by your junior high student
I am so excited about this! Mikaela is in 7th grade this year, and I find that I often leave her out in our week in reviews and other homeschool posts. I don't want to do that anymore! I also enjoy reading about other junior high homeschoolers and how they do it!

I'm not even sure what I'm going to write about each week, but I have a few ideas. Even just weekly recaps!

Get the word out, and start preparing your Junior High posts! Let's have a great Link-Up!
Stop back by January 4th, 2016 for the first Junior High Junction link-up! The link-up will go live at 8:00 am every Monday.

P.S. - how do you like the graphic?

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Blogging Through the Alphabet - G is for Games!

We are on Week 7 of Blogging Through the Alphabet, and G is for GAMES!

My children love board games! I thought I would share some of our favorite board games, and I am even going to break them down into age categories!

Toddler-Preschool {pre-reading}:

I know I have mentioned this game before, but it really is one of the best games I have found for the toddler/preschool age group. There is no reading required, no competition, and no winners or losers. It's called Roll & Play from ThinkFun! You simply roll the dice, pick a card of the same color, and follow the instructions on the card! There are cards where you make faces, find something of a certain color, make an animal noise, and find shapes! It's a great, fun game and my kids always love to play it.">Thinkfun Roll and Play Board Game
Ages 5-8:
My daughter and son love this Dora Carnival Fiesta Game! There are 6 carnival games you set up, like a ring toss and milk bottles to knock over. When you "win" a carnival game, you get a ticket. When all tickets have been distributed, you work together to put the puzzle together! There's not a lot of competition, since you work together at the end to work the puzzle.">Dora the Explorer Carnival Fiesta Game

Ages 9-12:

Clue is such a fun game to play! My kids and I love to play "detective" and figure out who killer was, what his weapon was, and in what room was the murder committed! {Sounds a little violent, but it's not!} This was one of my favorite games as a kid, and I was glad to introduce my kids to it.">Clue Board Game, 2013 Edition

Ages 13 and up:

My oldest is 13, but I included a few games I like to play, as well.

Monopoly Empire is the best version of Monopoly {in my opinion!}. The game is quick, as you add "billboards" to a "tower" when you buy them. The first player to fill their tower wins! The game takes around 15-30 minutes to play for us!">Monopoly Empire Game
Taboo was my second favorite game as a child, and I have yet to buy it for my kids! I'm thinking Santa may bring it this year. It's unspeakable fun, as the box says! You have a secret word that your teammates have to guess in a certain amount of time. BUT, you also have a list of "taboo" words you can't say to describe it. The opposite team has the list of words, and if you use one, they buzz the buzzer and you lose the word!">Taboo Board Game

There are many other classic games we enjoy playing - Scrabble, Apples to Apples, Candy Land, and Uno, to name a few! This next year, I am hoping to establish a family game night weekly, complete with popcorn, sodas, and maybe ice cream! My kids don't have video games, so board games really appeal to them!

I'm linking up with Meg and Cristi and Blogging Through the Alphabet! Check their blogs out for more great "G" posts!
Some of these links may be Amazon Affiliate links. If you click and purchase through my link, I may get a small percentage.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Secret Village Coloring Book Review and Give-away!!

We were given the chance to review these beautiful coloring books called The Secret Village by The Thinking Tree. Sarah Janisse Brown also graciously sent me 3 extra books to give-away to some of you!
There are so many details to color!
My daughter and I had fun coloring together. It was a great time to talk! Our hands were busy, so she felt more comfortable opening up.

My daughters like the cute woodland creatures!

Some of the pages are simple, which is great if you only have a few minutes to color.

The pages are blank on one side. This is wonderful if you want to use markers or gel pen - no bleeding through! We used Crayola markers, which worked beautifully.
The verdict? These coloring books are amazing! My daughters thought they were so much fun to color, and I find it so relaxing to sit and color the intricate details. The pictures are so fun! This would make a wonderful Christmas gift for the child {or adult!} who loves to color.

Now - I am going to give 3 of these gorgeous books away. All you have to do is a leave a comment! I will choose the winners on Friday, December 18, 2015.
Check out Sarah Janisse Brown on Facebook, her website, or Amazon!