First Year of School – Preschool/PreK Curriculum Choices

Cammie will be doing school for the first time this year.  She has sat in the school room with us her whole life.  Her “school” before has been playing with play dough or manipulatives, coloring pictures, helping us with projects and experiments, and of course going on field trips with us.  This is the first year she will have curriculum and lessons.  She is really excited.  We will keep it short and simple.  She will probably just be in the room for an hour or less.  If she wants to be with us longer, there is a big crate full of picture books for her to look at.  She also will continue to play games and be involved in as much as she possibly can.  She likes to be right in the middle watching and copying what her big sisters are doing.

Here is the curriculum choices we will be using with her:

Pre-K (Cammie – 4yrs old)

Horizons Preschool

Horizons Preschool Curriculum Kit

I used this curriculum with Breeley and liked it.  I had already purchased that kit with all the teacher’s books, resources, and CDs, so all I needed to order was the 2 student workbooks.  There is a lot of coloring and activities in this curriculum, which I like.  When they are 3-4 I really do think that play is the best thing for them to learn.  So coloring, crafts, and things that help with fine motor skills are really what we focus on.  There is also a lot of music with this curriculum.  Playing more music while we are in the school room is a goal of mine.  This is a great way to get some listening and movement in as well as making it fun.


Abeka K4

K4 Homeschool Child Full-Grade Kit (Manuscript Edition) -

Note on Abeka: I honestly have gone back and forth about Abeka and use to down talk it.  Then I realized that it honestly is such a great foundation for students.  We actually use a lot of it.  I have called it dated (which it can be), but it also is teaching timeless methods.  Sometimes you don’t have to be fancy and fix something that is working and tried and true.  I would probably not use just Abeka, but I do think it is a great base curriculum.

This is our first time using Abeka at this level.  Looking through the books I think it is going to be great.  I like the books that she eventually will be reading, but I am not going to stress if she isn’t reading at 4 years old! It is considered a Kindergarten curriculum, but for Cammie I really just want her to be doing school every day.  She will still be doing K5 next year.  This is just all an introduction and starting to get her confident and ready for Kindergarten next year.


Positive Action Preschool Bible – Exploring God’s Love and Story Cards

Exploring God's Love Student Manual (2nd Edition; Preschool K4) -

We have used this curriculum for awhile, but again, I have not used the preschool level before.  They are expensive, but I really like the story cards.  My girls hear Bible Stories a lot but this year I think I am going to use these as a devotional to start our morning.  There are 3 cards a lesson so we will take turns reading the cards.  They are labeled for example lesson 4a, 4b, 4c.  So I am going to have Alyse read the A cards, Breeley the B cards, and then I will read the C cards for Cammie.  Then she will do the workbook page (which is a lot of coloring, cutting and pasting.) It is 20 lessons of Old Testament and 20 of New Testament.  We are going to do Old Testament Aug-Dec and New Testament after Christmas Jan-May.


Mailbox Day by Day Preschool Plans

I really like this book for weekly themes to cover.  Apples, pumpkins, holidays, community helps, the zoo… There are lots of activities, crafts, songs, and ideas to use.  I like using it to get some creative ideas to celebrate and learn about lots of different topics.

Fun School Journals – Alphabet and Count & Color for Girls

We really like Fun School Journals.  They are a great supplement that we use.  They are perfect when the girls are done working on something and are waiting for me to help them.  They also like to take them to my parents house, in the car, when we are waiting on someone at a class or doctor’s appointment.  Alyse and Breeley have a number of them, so I got Cammie these.  She will be doing 2 pages a week in each of them.


Scholastic Flip Charts – Calendar Time Nursery Rhymes, and ABC

    Scholastic Classroom Resources ABC Sing-Along Flip Chart and CD (SC978439)

We use a lot of flip charts.  These are some basic ones for calendar time, ABC songs, and Nursery Rhymes.  They all come with a CD so again it is a fun way to add in music and memory.  They are also easy to write on with a dry erase marker, so we can circle the letter of the day, or find rhyming words, or write sight words that go along with our calendar time.

I will also be using some units from Moffat Girls and other fun things I find on Pinterst, I am sure.

Cammie really loves to just be involved.  My goal for this year is simply that she will know her ABCs, numbers, and that she will have lots of fun.

(All Curriculum is linked.)

Books, Books, and More Books! 

A lot of people ask me about what books the girls and I read for read alouds and series. There is a very long list I could come up with. Honestly this is not all of the books we have read but this should be enough to get you started. I would recommend these books for Grades 1-6.

We have always started with Junie B Jones. Ramona books and the Ralph Mouse Series (Beverly Cleary books) are also one of our first series. But you may want to start with Little Bear Series or Frog and Toad books.

I have from when I was growing up a series called The Ten Commandment Mystery series. There is also a Beatitudes Mystery series. They are very short. My girls like them. Not sure if they are still in print…. Janette Oke also had an animal series. Spunky’s Diary was my favorite. They also read my old Alex Series.

We love Mrs Piggle Wiggle! We also love Gooney Bird Greene books. And the Herdman series by Barbara Robinson. (The Best/Worst series. Most people just read the Christmas one but there are 3.) Caddie Woodlawn. The Mandie series. Grandmother’s Attic series!

Other series are: The Boxcar Children. Flat Stanley. Magic Tree House. Nate the Great. Judy Moody. Humphrey Series (about a hamster.) Ivy+Bean, Geronimo Stilton and Thea Stilton books, Sarah Plain and Tall series. Wayside School series. The All of A Kind Family series. The Oz book series (not just Wizard of Oz). The Littles, Cam Jansen, The Culdesac Kids, AtoZ Mysteries. Adventures in Oddessy books (Imagination Station books) The Nancy Clancy series. Amelia Bedelia books. (The series but also story books). Wonder and the other books that connect the characters.

We love all the shoe books. (Think You Got Mail ?) Dancing Shoes, Theater Shoes, Ballet Shoes, Skating Shoes.)

Usborne book series we have – Pony Crazed Princess, Sandy Lane Stable series, Billie B Brown, EJ12 series. Penny Dreadful.

My girls are big Carole Marsh fans. We read her mystery books when we are going somewhere (Biltmore House, Disney, Ft Sumter…) or if we are studying a place. So this year we will do the one about the Great Wall of China and Roman Colosseum.

We also like Who Was books. They are Biographies of people for kids. So again when we went to Disney we read about Walt Disney but we also will read about people we are studying. They also have What Was and Where Is books about famous places and events.

We went through a Roald Dahl time too (Matilda. The BFG. George’s Magic Medicine. The Witches…) and Judy Blume books. (Freckle Juice)

Natalie Grant has a few series. They are FaithGirlz series. (Glimmer Girls. There are other series too though.)

Classics: Charlotte’s Web. Secret Garden. The Little Princess. Little Women. Pollyanna. Anne of Green Gables. Stuart Little. The Velveteen Rabbit. Black Beauty. Heidi. Narnia Series.

Alyse loves Nancy Drew, The Bobbsey Twins, and other old books we get at vintage stores. She also loves American Girl books to go with her dolls. You can find the older ones of dolls from when we were younger at a lot of vintage/antique stores too. (Samantha and Felicity are our favorites!) She also loves Bryer Horses. They have a series of books that she gets to go with the horses. (Canterwood Crest series. But there are others.) She also has recently read all the Harry Potter and The Guardian Herd series. She has also read Serafina. I’m thinking of getting her Babysitters Club books.

Other Random books: The Chocolate Touch. The Saturdays. Pippi Longstalking. The Moffats. Tale of Despereaux. Harriet The Spy, Mr Poppers Penguins, The One and Only Ivan. Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Cricket in Times Square, Mixed Up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankweileder. The Year of Miss Agnes. Because of Winn Dixie. The Willoughbys. How To Eat Fried Worms, The Courage of Sarah Noble. The Door In The Wall. The Railway Children.

For just on their own just to get them reading but really not of any great value:  The Rainbow Fairies and other fairy books by Scholastic. They also read these Magic Bunny, Magic Puppies, and Magic Ponies books. Alyse also read Princess Ponies and Pony Tale books and Pony Pals. The Saddle Club series. (Notice a horse theme!) Breeley has also started reading these Mermaid Tales books. Honestly they aren’t great literature but as long as they are reading on their own. They also like the Whatever After series and The Never Girls.

We are huge audio book people. It’s a great way to listen as you eat lunch, in the car, making dinner, cleaning up the school/play room. Sometimes if books are above their reading level they read along with CD. Great for building sight words and expands vocabulary.

I’m also a fan of storybooks even when they are older. Alyse will read them to Cammie. Our favorites have always been the Berenstain Bears books. Alyse was obsessed with Olivia. Breeley’s favorite is Betty Bunny. (It’s her Bunny self). Cammie also likes Miss Lina’s Ballerinas and all the Fancy Nancy. We do a lot of Angelina Ballerina. Eloise books are also big at our house. Plus Madeline. Lilly’s Purple Purse. Chrysanthemum. The Little House. Miss Nelson is Missing. Gigi (God’s Little Princess.) We like Dr Suess of course and Tomie DePaola books.

I suggest The 20th Century Children’s Book Treasury. We read that in Kindergarten even though we have a lot of the books inside. Preschool we do Nursery Rhymes. Also American Tall Tales by Mary Pope Osborne is great for traditional folk tales. And I have a collection of Aesop’s Fables and Hans Christian Anderson. (I always try to do Fairy Tales that are kinda the original and not always Disney version.)

There are of course a list of Christmas books (Christmas + books. 2 of my big loves!) Auntie Claus and Mr Willowby’s Christmas Tree are some of our favorites.

Books really are something we love. If looking for your grade/reading level that you want to buy or find at the library I lots of times look at the Sonlight list. (We don’t really do this curriculum but I like their book list.) is a great website to search through. If I’m looking for something new I usually head there.

This really is my basic list. I am sure I could (and may) add more.

Please note: these are not all Christian books. There are some with magic and wizards and things of fantasy. There also may be some “stupid”, “shut up” or other things you may consider “naughty”. The girls and I have had long conversations about what is appropriate for our family and that books aren’t always perfect. Our philosophy: we “eat the meat and leave the bones.”

Also please note: I have 3 girls! There may be some books boys also enjoy but we tend to be kinda girly.

I have links to most of these books on my suggested Amazon List.

Pound Cake

One of our go to recipes in this house is my pound cake recipe.

The girls and I made one for dessert the other night.  (Watch in our Cooking with Kids Youtube video).  They give the instruction in the video, but here is the recipe:

Pound Cake Recipe

Preheat oven to 350*

1 box yellow cake mix
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil
4 eggs
1 and 1/2 cup milk
1 stick of butter.

Mix all ingredients and pour into pan. (I use a bunt pan.)
Bake for 1 hour

We always cut up strawberries and whipped cream on the top.

It’s the perfect spring/summer dessert and a favorite at this house!

Fresh Flower Cake 

When Breeley and I discussed her birthday we decided we wanted lots and lots of flowers. So when I was planning her cake I decided I wanted to put fresh flowers on her cake. I just think it looks so pretty.

Of course I knew you couldn’t just stick flowers in a cake so I started researching what was the best way to put them on and if there were any flowers that would be poisonous or something. I honestly wasn’t finding any great “how tos” so I kinda just got creative. 

I sent Josh to a vendor Uptown (which is kinda like a little farmers market.) I thought they would have the best price and would possibly be more “clean”. (At least in my head they were…)

I looked at the flowers and checked to make sure they were safe. And they all seemed to be. 

She requested her cake be vanilla cake with chocolate chip filling. 

Because no one wants flower leaves or dirt with their chocolate chip cake, I decided to protect the cake a little by putting some parchment paper down. I put the paper under the cake pan I used and traced a circle. Then I cut out a small section in the middle (to put the candelabra and stems into). 

Then I covered the paper with more icing. 

Right before the party started I added the flowers. But again, I wanted to protect the cake as much as possible from dirt or flower pieces. The best way I could think to do that was straws and tape. (I’m sure this is just how the professionals do it!)

I cut some IKEA straws into 4 pieces each. Then put tape around the ends. I trimmed the flowers down and covered the stems with the straws. 

Finally I arranged the candelabra and flowed into the cake. 

I think it turned out really well. 

I did have a small moment of panic that the candles would light the flowers on fire, but all was good! No fire! And the cake was flower pedal, leaf, and dirt free. 

An American Girl Birthday

Last weekend Breeley turned 6! 

The 6th birthday at our house is when the girls get an American Girl doll. (Something my girls have to have because I never got to have one so I will make sure my girls get one! My parents didn’t love me. ?)

Breeley had already decided, by looking at the store before and in the catalog beforehand, that she wanted Mary Ellen. So she was set to go!  

She woke up to balloons (tradition at our house) and donuts. She actually didn’t have a lot of time because we also had the girls dance pictures that morning (which explains why they both have on a ton of makeup!). So after we finished up her photo shoot she changed into her new dress she had picked out and we went for shopping and lunch at the bistro. 

After lunch we took Alyse to her pictures and then headed home for another birthday celebration with family. 

Breeley had requested a party with her new doll and lots of flowers. (Actually she had like 10 decor ideas – Frozen, Descendants, Makeup/Fashion show… I had to tell her we were sticking just with American Girl.) 

I had picked up some little party favors at Micheal’s for the dolls so I decided that would be our colors. When at Target I found some more party supplies in the same colors so I kinda mixed and matched from the dollar section, the party section, and house decor. 

(I still haven’t taken the battery operated garden lights down yet.)

On Friday’s Uptown on the corner of Trade and Tryon they have a flower vendor. I asked Josh to go get me a bunch of flowers to decorate with and to put on her cake. 

The candelabra and sparkle candles are also from Target. 

I brought a small table down from the play room and made a little table for the dolls. The guest were Alyse’s Caroline and Samantha dolls, Cammie’s Bitty Baby and Layla (Breeley’s Next Generation doll from Target.) I also made a little cake just for their table. 

Breeley loved her party! 

Watch her celebration on our YouTube channel