Charlotte to the Rescue!

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This long winter has been a little rough on us…especially me. Between blogging, homeschooling, and all of the other day-to-day activities involved in keeping up a house and raising children, I have grown weary.

Last week I was at a point where I was ready to shut down. I went back and forth about whether or not to continue blogging. I just needed a break. So I had some decisions to make. Thankfully, I have some very sweet blogging friends that helped me come up with a plan. Just because I have a blog doesn’t mean I “need” to post 4 or more times a week. So here is my plan. No more than 1 review a week (which I hope to have down to 2 per month by summer) and 1 good post per week. I have set limits on social media time too, which has helped tremendously! And now to the important part…the children.

One of the reasons I worried about continuing blogging was I didn’t want my kids to ever feel like I was choosing the computer instead of time with them. I don’t want their childhood memories to be of me typing on the computer, especially when it is something I don’t “have” to do. And how can I tell them to stay away from electronics when I am on them?! I am so thankful to have recently discovered the Charlotte Mason philosophy of education. It has been a breath of fresh air to what was a stale homeschool life.

Thanks to various Charlotte Mason books, I have discovered so much about education and how kids really learn. Here are some new aspects of our day that are direct results of what I am learning.

*The kids are spending as much time outside as possible. We have a beautiful picnic table we are using whenever we can. We are enjoying all types of weather and I am seeing a creative side to my kids that I haven’t seen in a long time. I no longer have to guide them as much in what to play. They are showing much more independence and are doing the things kids should be doing…climbing trees, getting muddy, watching birds, and soaking in some sunshine.

*We are focusing on reading good books. Next school year (which will probably start in July) we are going to be using Ambleside Online in addition to KONOS. Friday will be our fun day with KONOS and I will choose topics based on what the kids are learning through Ambleside. I want my kids to become life-long learners that aren’t afraid to learn something new and soak up as much knowledge as they can through good books.

*We are going to spend a decent amount of time focusing on character issues using Laying Down the Rails as a guide. This is something I have let slide way too much around here. Too often I compare my kids to the rest of the world and think they are doing just fine. But I need to stop grading on the curve. I need to set standards and expect them to be met. I want my kids to thrive in life, and not just survive.

*I am spending much more of my free time reading. Charlotte Mason has a lot to say! Every time I read about her philosophy I learn something new. I only wish I would have read her books years ago! I always though Charlotte Mason was just a light and easy way to educate…boy was I wrong!

So if you were wondering why it has been so quiet around here lately, now you know! I am busy working on plans for the kids for next year and trying to get my blogging life set straight. We are also doing our best to enjoy the beautiful weather that we have missed so much for the past several months. Things are looking up around here! Hope things are going well for you all too!

 

 

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Motivated Moms Review {Schoolhouse Review Crew}

Motivated Moms review

Do you struggle to keep your home in “company-ready” condition? I know I sure do! One of my biggest concerns is that someone will show up to my home in the middle of a school day and see what it really looks like…no photo editing or moving things for a picture. Well that is all changing this year. Much of this is thanks to a great new tool I am using called Motivated Moms. The Motivated Moms Ebooks are exactly what I needed. If you need a nudge in the right direction when it comes to organizing and cleaning, you may want to check it out too!

Although Motivated Moms has planners that are Ebooks they also offer an app. But for this review I was given my choice of one of the Ebooks. Each Ebook is $8 for a whole year’s worth of cleaning and organizing tasks already planned for you to use. You can choose from planners that have 1 day per page, 1 week per page, half-size pages, and you can even get a planner that has a yearly Bible reading plan included. I chose the planner with 1 week per page and the Bible reading included. You can see below what a typical weekly schedule looks like. The daily chores stay the same but the tasks for each day change.

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Since our days can be unpredictable at times, I decided it would be best to have the ability to see the weekly schedule all at once so I could move things if necessary. Even though we are at the end of basketball and cheerleading season right now, Saturday is just not a day that I typically have a lot of extra time. This works out perfectly with Motivated Moms because the weekends are not heavily scheduled with jobs to complete. The point of Motivated Moms is to get the house cleaned in small and manageable chunks throughout the week. That way you don’t have to spend all weekend cleaning those things you didn’t take care of during the week. My schedule stays posted on the refrigerator (since it seems I am in the kitchen more than I am in any other room of the house). I also made up a little laundry schedule so I make sure all of our laundry gets done every week.

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One of the biggest issues I have had to address in order to use Motivated Moms to the fullest is the clutter in my home. When we moved to our current home I didn’t keep up with decluttering. We moved from a house we had recently built and therefore we were trying to sell it as “like new”. With 4 small children ages 8 and under, it was pretty overwhelming keeping a house looking new. So once we sold I took a break from the obsessive cleaning and decluttering. Now, over 2 years later, things have gotten out of hand. We have done too much hiding things instead of sorting through them, getting rid of things, and putting things away in a place where we can actually find them. Motivated Moms has lit a spark in me when it comes to getting my home back in order.

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Since I am dealing with an overwhelming amount of clutter right now, there are days that I have to focus on decluttering instead of cleaning. But the great thing about the Motivated Moms schedule is that I know the cleaning task will come back around on the schedule soon. So it works out just fine. I am working toward a goal of a “company-ready” home. As much as I would love to be able to snap my fingers and have that done, I know that is not realistic. Any steps I am taking toward that goal is an improvement from where I was. That is what I love about Motivated Moms. It is helping me achieve a goal I thought was unattainable a few months ago.

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I am sure if you had enough time you could probably put your own cleaning schedule together. But I would rather be spending that time getting things done around the house. Besides, who remembers to put things on their cleaning schedule like cleaning off the washer and dryer, or checking the furnace filter, or wiping off light switches, or cleaning out the freezer? Motivated Moms has already done the work for you…and they remember all of those little things.
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I do wish there was a way to edit the Motivated Moms list since I do have some things I need to do that aren’t on their list (like giving the dog her heartworm pill or returning library books). But even with the week’s schedule all on one page, I still have plenty of room to add things in if I need to do that. I typically write extra tasks on the bottom unless they need to be done on a specific day. I have also chosen to take one room each week and spend time decluttering an area (instead of getting overwhelmed with the whole house). So far, this is working out very well. We have donated about 3 car loads of things we don’t need and thrown quite a bit of stuff away too. A cleaner house it truly a more peaceful house.

So would I recommend Motivated Moms? Yes! It has been such a great tool for me and it keeps me from letting housework get to a point where it becomes overwhelming. Some days I get everything checked off the list, some days I don’t. But with the eBook, I know the task will come around again and next time I will make sure I get it done. They do also offer an app if you would rather have that type of planner, but for me I like the printable Ebook. I am so glad Motivated Moms has helped me take back my home!

You can connect with Motivated Moms through the following social media links:

https://www.facebook.com/motivated.moms
https://twitter.com/momoplanner

Want to see what other Crew members thought of Motivated Moms? Some of them reviewed the app if you are interested in an digital type of planner.

Click to read Crew ReviewsCrew Disclaimer

 

Spotlight on a New Favorite: English Lessons through Literature

Spotlight on a New Favorite English Lessons through Literature

Language arts can be such a difficult subject to teach. There are so many different approaches and different resources to use. After several years, we have finally found a program that seems to fit all of our needs… and that calls for some celebrating! Are you ready to see our next curriculum that we consider a new favorite?

{This post may contain affiliate links}

English Lessons Through Literature (previously called Language Lessons through Literature) is our favorite resources for teaching language arts in a way that is gentle, but thorough. Kathy Jo DeVore has put a lot of effort into creating a program that is perfect for a busy mom to use without much preparation. English Lessons Through Literature takes a Charlotte Mason type of approach to teaching language. Not only does the curriculum include reading great literature, but it also includes important learning tools such as copywork, exercises on the day’s lesson, prepared dictation, narration, picture studies, and memory work. It has everything I want for teaching language arts!

(The pictures in this post will take you through one lesson from Level 3)

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Why do we love English Lessons Through Literature?

-I love the simplicity but thoroughness of English Lessons Through Literature. The kids don’t feel overwhelmed with their daily work, but they are still learning so much!

-The lessons are only 3 days a week so we still have 2 days a week to do other things for language (that is when we do Latin).

-This curriculum is open-and-go. As long as I make sure the kids have the literature book they need for their daily reading, we are set!

-We can use the iPad to read the lessons so I don’t even need to print anything out. We can do picture studies on beautiful pictures without having them printed or having to check a book out at the library.

-The kids are learning the most important language skills and soaking in great literature at the same time. Nearly every day they are reading a classic book, a beautiful poem, and a thoughtful fable from Aesop.

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How do we use English Lessons Through Literature?

-Currently we use English Lessons Through Literature on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. This rhythm seems to work for us, but you can use whatever works best for your family.

-I “try” to have the kids read the chapter of the book they need for their lesson before we start school. Some days that doesn’t happen. If that is the case, I have one of the kids read while the other is working with me on a subject like math. Either way, it is only one chapter a day. I have yet to have any complaints on book choices or too much reading. 😉

-Every third day there is either a picture study or a narration to go along with the lesson. Kathy Jo recommends possibly staggering your children’s lessons so one has a picture study while the other has a narration. We haven’t done that yet, but we may if I start to feel that it is too much to have both kids doing the same type of lesson on the same day.

-A typical lesson for us (after their books are read) includes reading the lesson, reviewing memory work, reading the poem, reading the Aesop’s Fable, doing the exercises, and copying the copywork. Some days also include dictation. Kathy Jo did create a workbook if you want a printable resource for the copywork and exercises. I just have the kids use notebooks, but I have debated getting the workbooks, especially since Caspian is starting sentence diagramming.

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What materials are needed?

-The books (or eBooks) for English Lessons Through Literature can be purchased either through Amazon or Lulu.

-All of the literature that goes with this curriculum are in the public domain, so no purchasing is necessary! I do try to get audio books from the library for Aurora if I can since she seems to read best following along with a book while she listens to it.

-You will either need a notebook, or you will need to purchase the workbook to go along with the level you are using.

-If you choose the eBook, you will either need something like an iPad to read it from, or a printer to print it all out if you prefer.

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**If you want to “try it before you buy it”click this link to get a sample of the first 2 weeks of levels 1,2, and 3. (Levels 4 and 5 are currently under construction)**

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Other products you may want to consider.

-Kathy Jo has several other language arts materials to use with your children. Currently, we are using Handwriting Lessons through Literature. It does a great job of introducing cursive through phonograms in a similar way to Writing Road to Reading.

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-Next year I plan to start Moose on her reading/spelling program called Reading Lessons through Literature. Again, this is an approach to spelling similar programs like Writing Road to Reading, Logic of English, and All About Spelling. I haven’t purchased it yet, but I am sure it is just as wonderful as Language Lessons through Literature.

-We recently started using her free literature program called Pathways: Language Lessons through Literature. It is a pre-K/ Kindergarten program that does a fantastic job introducing some of the best literature to your young children (and provides a great opportunity for some cuddling!).

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If you decide you want to give this curriculum a try (or maybe you already use it and love it!) there is a great Yahoo group for answering any questions you may have.

Do you have a favorite curriculum for language arts?

*You can check out my “review” of Reading Lessons through Literature here!*

More Planning and Lots of Cuddles {Week in Review-2/14/14}

Week in Review More Planning and Lots of Cuddles

Happy Valentine’s Day! How are you celebrating? We had a fantastic opportunity to spend the morning with 23 other homeschooling families at an indoor field house. The kids had a great time running around and playing games with friends. And then there is me…the mom who always forgets the camera! Ugh! One of these days I will have more than a few pictures to share. But at the very least I think we will all sleep well tonight. 😉

This week I went full force into homeschool planning mode. I was finding my generic checklists of school subjects just weren’t working anymore. We were spending too much time having to go back and clarify which specific assignment needed to be done. So I spent some “free time” (ha, ha!) entering all of their lessons into the Homeschool Helper app. Now if we miss a day (like we did today) I can simply bump their assignments and have them ready for Monday. I typically email their assignments for the week to myself so I can print them off. I color code each day so they know exactly what needs to be done. And they can always work ahead if they feel like it (although, let’s be honest, that rarely happens). For me, it feels good to have everything planned out.

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A Weekly Lesson List from Homeschool Helper that has seen a lot of wear and tear! 🙂

Last week I mentioned we were going to start using the Pathways Language Lessons Through Literature with the little boys. I am so glad we started this reading program! We are having a great time cuddling and reading some great books. I have found the best time to read with them is in the evening after dinner. It has been a very effective way to help them wind down from the activities of the day. They love the stories enough that they want them read multiple times. I love how they are getting exposure to great literature and even some poetry, science, and history. This new addition of our routine is providing great memories and some much-needed cuddle time with my little boys before they get too big to cuddle!

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I just love this cuddle time and I will dearly miss it when it is gone!

Our KONOS studies continued with love this week. We read some Bible stories about love, acted out the Good Samaritan, learned about some famous humanitarians, and listened to some of our favorite love songs. We have had some great discussions about the type of love we receive from God as opposed to the type of love we receive from other people. We listened to the differences between hymns about God’s love and songs about being in love. For the final activity on this unit we are making a heart-shaped cake. Nothing like ending the week on a sweet note!

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Our Vanilla heart cake with Chocolate Ganache frosting…yum!

Now I need some advice from you all if you have any to give. I have one child who is struggling with math. This child is not typical excited about school work anyway, but math seems to be the worst. How do you decide if it is the curriculum, or if it is just an attitude problem? I hate to spend money on a new curriculum just to find out that wasn’t the problem, but having something like Teaching Textbooks that would take me out of the math equation sounds pretty good right now! Any advice you have to give would be greatly appreciated. 🙂

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Little Bear taking a much-needed nap while still standing up after dinner! He was up at 5:50 this day 😦

How was your week? We are anxiously awaiting some warmer weather around here. It finally got above freezing yesterday for the first time in several weeks, and it feels pretty warm! Can’t wait for the warm summer sunshine! I think we all need it. Have a great weekend!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spotlight on a New Favorite: The ABC’s for Godly Girls and Boys

Spotlight on a New Favorite the ABC's for Godly Girls and Boys

This week I am excited to share with you all another curriculum that has become a family favorite. It is so hard to find a Bible curriculum that meets all of your needs, mostly because different families need different things! But this one fits our family so well, and we are able to use it over and over again!

{This post may contain affiliate links}

The ABC’s for Godly Girls and Boys is a complete Bible curriculum that takes your children through the alphabet as they learn all about God. Lindsay, the creator of this curriculum has done such an excellent job of putting this all together, making it fun for the kids, and making it easy for the parents. The kids look forward to doing their Bible activities every day, and I love the lessons they are taking away (how can you not love a 5 year-old taking about how he can “edify” others?!).The ABCs for Godly Boys and Girls

Why do we love the ABC’s for Godly Girls and Boys?

-This curriculum can be used with children of multiple ages. The author suggests it can be used for children ages 4-10. We are currently using the girls curriculum with Aurora (8) and the boys curriculum with Moose (5).

-There are some great games, activities, and crafts that come with the curriculum. Each week there is an activity and a craft for the letter of the week. You also get a bingo game, a maze, flashcards of the lesson for the week, and copywork for the Bible verse.

-We can easy get the lessons done in a reasonable amount of time. The crafts and activities can all be done in about 20 minutes at the most.

-The combination of different types of activities each day is resulting in the kids retaining what they are learning. Hurray! There is such a sweet simplicity to this curriculum and I am so glad to have everything all put together for me.20140209-185441.jpg

How do we use the ABC’s for Godly Girls and Boys?

-Monday’s work includes reading the Bible memory verse and the lesson.

-Tuesday’s work is reading the Bible story for the week and reviewing the memory verse.

-Wednesday’s work is reading the extra Bible verses and reviewing the memory verse.

-Thursday’s work is the activity for the week and reviewing the memory verse.

-Friday is craft day! By this time the memory verse is pretty familiar to the kids. Even if they don’t have it perfectly memorized they usually understand the basic meaning of it.

-The mazes and bingo games are saved for afternoons and weekends. We don’t currently do the copywork since we have other things to practice handwriting and I don’t want to add too much writing into our day. 🙂

-Some weeks Aurora and Moose work together because their lessons are the same (like “D is for Disciple”). But Lindsay does a great job adding things that are different. When Moose was doing “B is for Bravery, Aurora was doing “B is for Beauty”. I love the combination of sometimes doing group work and sometimes doing individual work.20140209-185431.jpg

What materials are needed?

-Once you have purchased the curriculum, you can choose to either print off the lessons or use it on a device like an iPad. We have our books in iBooks on the iPad. That way we can click directly to the links posted for different songs and activities.

-There are some materials you will need for the crafts, but they are mostly materials that you would already have in your home.

-You need a Bible to read the Bible stories and verses. Sometimes with Moose I will read the story from a children’s Bible instead of reading it straight from the Bible since he seems to retain it better that way. Aurora does fine reading straight from the Bible.

-If you are going to use the flashcards and copywork you will need a printer.

Do you have a favorite Bible curriculum you use?

If you would like to check out some of our other favorites, just click on the links below.

Miquon Math

more to come soon!

 

 

Spotlight on a New Favorite: Miquon Math

Spotlight on a new favorite Miquon Math

Did you ever find a curriculum that fit so perfectly you wondered how you ever did without it? We sure have! Recently we have found several curricula that we find to be such a perfect fit. I know how much researching and debating can go into choosing the right teaching materials for your children so I thought I would share some of the great things we now use with our family and how we use them.

{This post may contain affiliate links}

The first curriculum I have to share with you is Miquon Math. Unfortunately it took until the third child to find this gem, but we love it and it is the perfect fit for Moose!

Why do we love Miquon so much?

-It is a hands-on approach to mental math that is perfect for young children.

-Kids can “see” math when they use the Cuisenaire Rods with Miquon.

-There is very minimal writing involved, which again, makes it a good fit for young learners.

-It can be taught in several different ways: either in order, or by topic.

-It is just plain fun!

Growing up, I was taught math using the typical textbook approach. Teaching math this way was a challenge for me at first, but now I see how much Moose is really understanding numbers, I wouldn’t have it any other way. He is learning concepts like multiplication at the age of 5.20140203-184637.jpg

How do we use Miquon?

Since we have all six of the workbooks, I choose to cut the binding and put them all in a binder together. The topics of the workbooks are separated by letters (A is counting, B is odd-even, etc.). Each workbook consists of different pages for the different topics. So the orange book covers some of the pages in addition, but then there are others that are more difficult in the other books. 20140203-184645.jpg

I found some binder tab dividers with the letters already on them so I put all of the workbook pages for all of the workbooks together in one big binder. I used some crayons to make a mark on the top corner of each page so I could easily see which workbook it came from. We don’t do much writing with Miquon, but if we do need to write some number is just use a page protector with the side cut and a dry erase marker.

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Since Moose is only 5 I let him decide how much math he wants to do each day. We usually do about 1 worksheet, but some days he wants to do 3 or 4. Now we are working on getting Little Bear used to the Cuisenaire Rods as he plays with this Alphabet Book. I haven’t used Miquon with the two older kids…yet. I think it may be in their future though, at least for Aurora.

What materials are needed for Miquon? 

-Of course, you are going to need the workbooks. Even if your children are older, I would suggest you start them at the beginning and just work quickly through the early levels. That will give them a chance to get a good feel for the Cuisenaire Rods and it will give you some time to get used to teaching with them.

-I have both the Lab Sheet Annotations and the First-Grade Diary. I have read through the First-Grade Diary a bit, but really the Lab Sheet Annotations are essential. I couldn’t do the workbook lessons without these notes.

-You will definitely need some Cuisenaire Rods. In our house, we can never have enough. I think we have 3 or 4 sets by now! There are both wooden and plastic rods. We have some of both and I prefer the wooden because the edges aren’t rounded a bit like they are with the plastic ones. But either one works… it really just comes down to a personal preference.

-If you are new to Cuisenaire Rods and mental math, I highly recommend you check out an awesome website called Education Unboxed. There are so many great videos on how to teach mental math using the rods. They have been very helpful to me when I reach an area that I don’t quite get.

There you have our first selection of our New Favorites! There are so many different math curricula out there and I am so glad we found one that works for our children. Have you ever used Miquon? What is your favorite math program?

Planning our KONOS Units {with a FREE Printable}

Planning our KONOS UnitsI am so excited about our new homeschooling journey we have started with KONOS! The kids are excited about it, I am excited about it, and that spark that was missing in our schooling has now returned.

{This post may contain affiliate links}

For some reason KONOS seems to be misunderstood. People seem to think it takes too much planning and is out of date. I am here to tell you that is far from the truth! This curriculum is full of exciting activities and lends itself well to rabbit trails. I wanted to walk you through how we plan our units to show you just how easy it can be.

1) Go through the unit and decide which activities you want to do. This is a pretty easy step. I usually just read through each activity and circle with a pencil the activities I think we would like to do. Don’t feel like you need to do them all. Some activities may not work for your family, and that it OK. There are so many to choose from and you are sure to find plenty that you want to do.KONOS circling activities

2) Figure out how many need to be done each day. I do this by simply adding up all of the activities I have circled from step #1 and dividing them by how many days we will be spending on the unit. For example, one unit I planned had 45 activities circled and we were going to be doing this unit for 10 days. So I knew we needed to average about 5 activities per day. But some of you may not do KONOS every day. In that case, you just divide by how many days you will be doing KONOS.

3) Jot down each activity according to its category. For this step I make simple columns and divide the activities into categories like Bible, science, history, fun, art/science, etc. This way I know how many days I need to plan for each category. I try to have a Bible activity every day. Other than that, it just depends on how many I have in each category. If I have 4 history activities in our 2 week unit study, then I choose 2 days each week to complete them. If I have 8 science activities, then I choose 4 days each week to complete them.KONOS activity list

KONOS weekly plan

4) Complete the planning chart. This is when it all comes together. I print our *KONOS Planning Pages* to jot down our activities in the days I chose from step #3. I also make note of any materials we need so I can make sure we are prepared. At the bottom of the page there is room to add in any books you make need from the library. I made this printable with 4 pages. This way it will accommodate 1,2,3, or 4 week units.KONOS unit planner

See! That wasn’t so hard, now was it?! I am loving everything about KONOS right now and it seems to work very well for my hands-on learners. I love that it is completely customizable based on your family’s needs. If you have any other questions about how we use KONOS, please feel free to ask. I am not an expert (yet!) but I would love to clear up any of the confusion associated with this curriculum. Stay tuned for much more in our journey with KONOS.

**Free Printable KONOS Planning Pages**

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