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.) Goodreads.com 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.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/registry/wishlist/1DPZVDCO0TOCD

Celebrating Easter

Easter is a pretty big holiday at our house.  We buy the Easter outfits, the Easter bunny comes to visit, we do lots of fun crafts, and of course we spend a lot of time at church.  Our church has 3 days of worship experiences and watching people celebrate our Risen King is one of my favorite things to do.

Over the last few days I put together a few of our favorite activities to share with y’all.

My good friend Angela brought her kids over to have a little Easter party at our house.  We had a lot of fun having an egg hunt, bunny hop and egg drop races, and lots of playing.

I made lots of yummy food.  I love how Annie’s has a lot of bunny themed food, so I got a lot of their snacks to enjoy.  I also bought their mac and cheese, but I ended up using the noodles but doctoring up the cheese to make a crock pot version instead of the powdered cheese.  I also made a bouquet of flower cupcakes and bunny sugar cookies.  (And yes, I used my buttercream icing for both!)

I  had crafts for us to do.  We were so busy playing outside that we didn’t get much done, so I ended up sending them home with Angie and then afterwards the girls and I did them together.

The first thing we did was some Pinterest things that I had printed off.

For the last few years we read through this “devotional” about the Easter Bunny.  I feel like it kinda gives a reason of why the Easter Bunny comes to our house. (Found here)

Every year we also go over the Resurrection story using Resurrection Eggs.  We still used our eggs this morning, but I also saw these printable/coloring Resurrection egg craft and decided to do these too.

Then we also read these Bible verses about the Easter story.  (I’ve also used the Valentine’s hearts and the pumpkin verses in the past.)

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The girls favorite craft was making these pompom bunnies and chicks.

All you need is some yarn, googly eyes, and some different crafting puff balls. (And scissors and glue.)

Start by wrapping the yarn around your hand a bunch of times.  I didn’t really count how many times… Just remember the more you wrap the bigger and fluffier your pompom will be.  Also I tried to use the kid’s hands at first, but they were way too small.  I had to do the wrapping around my own hand.

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Cut a small piece of string to tie around the middle of your loops.

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Cut the loops on both sides to create your pompom.

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Puff and then add your eyes, nose/beak, and ears for the bunny.  (Actual cotton balls work best because you can stretch them out for more of a bunny ear shape.)

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Cammie also was really proud of her spring flower.  She could do it mostly by herself so she felt like a big girl.  All you need is green popsicle sticks, glue, and cupcake liners.  A dot of glue and you have a happy 2 year old.

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Every year we also make Resurrection Rolls.  (See my Instagram post for the recipe and Bible verses.)

And of course we dyed eggs.


I’m excited about getting dressed up and going to church in the morning and celebrating that HE IS RISEN!

 

Around Our Homeschool Room

Our homeschool room – sometimes we use it a lot.  Sometimes we are gathered in the kitchen around the table or counter.  Sometimes we are laying on the floor in a bedroom or cuddled up on the couch.  But this room is the headquarters… and the storage room.  I thought I would give a mini tour around the room.  Literally.  I stood in one spot and took four pictures just to show you a little of our classroom.

Classroom 1

When you walk in, my desk is facing the door.  I have a little set of drawers that holds papers, files, etc.  On top is a basket with all my teachers manuals. To the left are some colored cutouts. Those are the books that we have read together this year.  Alyse has her own little wall of cutouts for her books on the other side of the room.

Classroom 3

This room is almost all windows, which I love, but we only really have one wall.  Sometimes it kinda drives me crazy that this wall is top to bottom posters, but we are working with what we got.  I did hole punch a bunch of charts and posters and put them on the chart stand that is to the far right.

We only have a small white board right now.  Eventually I would like to get a bigger one.  We have a small black board also.  We don’t usually use that one very often.  Our yearly verse is written on it and the girls say it everyday.  (Psalm 19:14 – May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.)

The bookshelf has a bunch of baskets filled with flashcards, paper, computer games, CDs, and other things.  Each girl has a basket too that they have extra books in.

We have a calendar and a “Math Meeting” pocket chart (the green one on the cabinet door).  The yellow pocket chart is their Spelling Spot.  Alyse writes her spelling words each week and puts them there and Breeley has about 10 sight words at a time that she has there to work on.  The bulletin board on the top is for their art projects to be put on. Above the door is multiplication tables.  On the side is our daily count of how many school days we have had.  Each month we change the theme.  Apples, pumpkins, snowflakes, hearts, etc.

Classroom 2

This is my usual view.  Well, actually there are usually three little people in those seats.

We bought the desk in the middle for Alyse about 2 years ago.  This summer I posted on Facebook and asked if anyone had seen anything similar to it for Breeley.  By the magic of Facebook, my friend Ashley had 2 that she was trying to sell.  Amazing! One is a little smaller, but that works perfect for Cammie.

The cabinet is full of books, manipulatives, files, craft and school supplies, etc.  I try to keep it organized, but since this school year is almost over, it isn’t really in the best of shape.

Classroom 4

The windows in this room make it very bright, which I like.  They also can kind of distract the girls a little.  We just put a birdfeeder on one of the windows, so that is their latest distraction.  We also have a little seed science project on one of the window ledges.

The girls each have their drawers, one for each subject.  They keep their books and whatever is needed for their lesson in the drawer.  In the middle is another vintage school desk.  The crate has a bunch of books (mostly for Cammie to look at or for me to read with Breeley.)  We also use the bench front to stack projects on.  Those are some canvases waiting to be painted on when its a nice day, and some books that I need to go over with Alyse.  The little white chair pulled up to my desk is our conferencing chair.  That chair makes it easy to have one on one instructional time with the girls.

This whole room is colorful, kinda crazy, and a comfortable spot for us to work in. It makes my teacher heart happy to have our own little classroom to work in. As I said, now that it’s towards the end of the year it is a little messy and unorganized, but I like the phrase: Excuse the mess. The children are making memories.

Love Day

Last week we threw together a little Valentine’s party with my friend Angela and her kids.  We both homeschool and we always try to make sure that we celebrate holidays and do “class parties” so our kids don’t miss out on the fun and childhood memories.

I had a few activities and craft stuff put out for the girls.

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Most of the activities I found on Pinterest:

Heart sort and graphing

Valentine’s Word Search

Valentine’s I Spy

Valentine’s Tic Tac Toe (We used Hershey Kisses for the game pieces.)

They had a lot of fun.  I had bags for them to decorate and put what they didn’t get to finish, along with some bubbles and stamps into.

They got a little distracted because it started to snow big pretty flakes while they were sitting at the table.

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For the food the kids made fruit kabobs with melted chocolate and then they made their own heart shaped pizzas.

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They also decorated their own cupcakes.

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It really was so much fun.

Can’t wait for our next little party/playdate.  It’s always a little crazy with 8 kids running around but they have crazy fun.

(Thanks Angie for sending me some pictures!)

 

***On actual Valentine’s Day, Josh made sure all of his girls woke up to roses – pink for the little 3, purple for me. And chocolate – heart shaped chocolate donuts for them, chocolate covered strawberries for me.  He’s good to us! ***