Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Teaching Through Song

Something that we have found very effective in teaching Trevor is music.  I know this concept is very familiar, but I thought I would share a few of the songs that we have used to teach basic facts to Trevor. 

The Alphabet Song  (obviously =)

The Days Of The Week

Months of the Year

Vowel Song (to the tune of B-I-N-G-O)
  • There was a letter had a name,
  • Yes vowel was it's name, Oh!
  • A-E-I-O-U
  • A-E-I-O-U
  • A-E-I-O-U
  • Yes vowel was it's name, Oh!
  • You get the idea...I've seen lots of variations online for this.  You can use the vowel sounds instead of the names, if you want as well.

Skip Counting (we made this one up to the tune of Skip to my Lou, so here's a video of it.  It's a little embarrassing, so don't make fun =)  It would be better if my option for a camera man who was older than 16 months.)

I was amazed at how quickly Trevor caught on to the info from these songs!  In a mater of a few listens, he was singing along, and after a few days knew them very well!  (We did just introduce one at a time.)

What songs have you found effective in teaching your little ones?

Happy Learning!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Lesson Plan Week 1

                                                                                                                                        (You can click on the image to make it bigger if you are interested =)
                       MV = Memory Verse   CB = Chapter Book   CT = Character Trait   FP = Forest People

Posts showing in more detail some of the items above:

So here we are.  Our official 3 year old school year will begin tomorrow.  This is my plan for our first week.  We've already been doing a lot of this throughout the summer, but I'm adding in science for this new year, and I hope to do more with math.  If you want to see the resources I'm using, click here.  If I've missed something and you're interested, let me know.  This chart really isn't an explanation of what we are doing, so if you want to know anything more specifically, just ask.  I plan on highlighting some of the different subjects over the coming months, so hopefully that will put meat on the bones of this skeleton too.

What are you doing this week?  If you have a blog, put a link in the comments, I'd love to check it out!

Happy Learning!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Thoughts from Vacation

This past week Tim, Trevor, Mackenzie and I went on vacation.  It was our first family vacation ever and I so thoroughly enjoyed it.  We went to Maranatha in Muskegon, MI.  Its a place that my family went each year when I was growing up, so I was very excited to go with my little family.  We chose to go last week because it was homeschool week.  We enjoyed being surrounded by families who love children and take seriously their responsibility to train their own up in the Lord.  We enjoyed the opportunity to sit under teaching geared at homeschoolers three times a day.  We absolutely loved having everything you could ever want in a vacation right there on Maranatha's grounds (fantastic Lake Michigan beach, pool, tennis, put-put golf, hiking, play grounds, canoeing, etc. all included in the very reasonable price of the vacation).  I wholeheartedly recommend Maranatha for anyone who is looking for a relaxing and encouraging vacation (though I cannot unreservedly recommend every speaker, so if you go, please check out who the speaker is on the week you want to go!)

Maranatha partnered with INCH (Information Network for Christian Homes) to provide the speakers for the week.  We are really new to the homeschool 'community' so it's hard to me to give an opinion on the whole thing, but we did enjoy some of the speakers that we heard throughout the week.  I just wanted to share a few thoughts that were great reminders from the lessons.

  • You are exactly the mom (or dad) that your child needs.  God made you as the perfect person to train them up.  Never think that you are not smart enough, or patient enough, or creative enough to teach your child.

  • Your children are exactly what you need.  God custom made your children just for you!  He knew exactly what you would need to help you along in the sanctification process.  So next time you are frustrated with one of your children, remember to be thankful that they are bringing out (negative) things in you that you have the opportunity to work on.  On the same note, your children are most likely going to turn out just like you, so if you see a behavior in your child that you do not like, know that they are probably picking it up from you and that it is something that you need to work on in your own life as well.  

Very convicting.  Very encouraging.  Great reminders.  Thank you Maranatha and INCH!

Happy Living!

I've linked up to:


Friday, August 19, 2011

Happy Birthday, Big Boy!

Today my baby turns three.  Happy birthday Trevor!


1 Year Old

2 Years Old

Enjoying one of his gifts on his 3rd birthday.

Lord, please help me to teach this boy your ways.  Help me to show him grace and love in the midst of training and discipline.  Let me reflect Christ to him in my daily actions.  Please tug on his heart until he comes to love you.  Thank you for blessing me with him!

Happy Birthday!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Peace that Surpasses All Understanding

On Saturday my dad had a heart attack.  As I sat in the waiting room (before I knew what had happened) while he was getting 5 stints put into his heart I found myself having a hard time praying.  I was not angry at God.  I was not bitter or confused.  I was just at peace.  I'm sure it's partly my being used to health problems with both of my parents and this was just another curve in the road.  Mostly it's because I can confidently say that I have a great God.  A God who is in control and who has plans that reach far beyond our short lives on this earth.  Will I be sad when it is my dad's time to leave this earth?  Obviously!  Will I grieve? Yes, but it will (Lord, help me!) be grieving with joy, knowing that he has lived a great life and been a great witness of the gospel, and (when that time comes) that he will be in the place that I long to be!

All that said, I am happy to report that, all things considering, my father is doing great!  He is still in the hospital, but is recovering well.  I am so thankful for his life, and mine, and all my family and friends, but I will not cling so tightly to life on this earth, because we are just pilgrims passing through. 

4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
With God's strength....

... I will rejoice in all things, even sickness and death.
... I will not worry, even about things which I have no control over.
... I will be be thankful, even when the circumstance seems unfair.
... I will think about things that are true, and not bog my mind down with 'what if?'
... I will rest in His peace, peace that surpasses all understanding.

If you do not know this God who brings peace through Jesus Christ, please ask!  I would love to share Him with you. 

Happy Living.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


The Complete Tales of Winnie-The-Pooh

About a month ago Trevor and I finished reading through The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh.  Sometimes we would read a chapter during our school time, and other times we would read a chapter before bed.  Something about this simple, playful, silly old bear just captivated Trevor's attention.  He loved staring at the little pencil drawings scattered throughout the book while I read and would ask tons of questions about what I was reading.  This is the first chapter book I have read to him, and honestly I was not expecting him to make it through a whole chapter in a sitting, but I found that my voice always wore out before his attention did!

Each character has his own unique personality and their reactions to situations are pretty predictable (which is probably part of the reason why little kids love them!)  I just love the simplicity of the story lines.  Nothing is forced.  Oftentimes the reader will find Pooh and Piglet just walking along.  Sometimes they will talk, other times not.  It really is just a day in the life of Winnie-the Pooh.

The only thing I do not love about the books is that there are often misspelled words, because it is mimicking how a beginning speller would write.  I found this cute, and reading the book aloud, the spelling does not impact the hearer, but I think I would have a hard time handing this book to a youngster to read to himself until his spelling was very good.

When we were about half way through the book I heard that there would be a Winnie-the-Pooh movie coming out in mid-July.  I was very excited!  We had never taken Trevor to a theater before, and I thought this would be a great first movie for him.  So Tim and I took him on a Monday morning.  I think there were only about 30 people in the theater, which was nice.  The running time is just over an hour, so they definitely knew their audience would be of the preschool set.  Half way through the movie  Trevor stood up and said "My legs are getting tired of this."  I'm glad they knew to make the movie short =)

I enjoyed the movie, but I didn't love it.  I loved how they often showed the words on the screen like it was zooming in on a page from the book.  I loved the scenes where the characters were gathered together trying to come up with a plan (to find Eeyore a new tail, or to catch the Bakson, for example), or walking along to go to a friends house or somewhere like that.  What I didn't like were the scenes that were obviously hyped up to be attention getting (like Pooh's honey dream or the scene describing the Backson).  I just found those so out of character from the books.  

Something that I find so interesting is how Tigger plays such a key roll in modern Winnie-the-Pooh.  He was not even introduced in the first of the two books in The Complete Tales of Winnie-The-Pooh and when he is around in the second book, he is not a main character.  Tigger is a loud, hyper animal and we are a loud, hyper society, so I know that (like the out-of-place scenes in the movie) the creators of the movie are just giving the people what they want, I just think it's too bad that we cannot be satisfied with the simple. 

So now that we have closed this gem of a book, I am on the lookout for our next great read!

I'm sure all of you have some memories of Winnie-the-Pooh and have probably shared it in some form or another with your children.  Did you see the move with your kids?  If so, what were your thoughts?

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Spotlight on Art - The Color Wheel

Last week we started art using Baby Lambs Book of Art.  I initially thought that we would do a page from this book once a week (mostly just to make it stretch the whole year), but Trevor is really enjoying it, so we've done a page almost every day.  I'm going to have to modify my lesson plans a bit!  I really enjoy how each page has a simple direction to follow (I have to read it to him, obviously) and that there is not so much going on that it distracts him.  The directions really make him focus and not just scribble all over the page and be done in 5 seconds (like usual!)  It's nice to see that he actually can color in the lines (sort of) and take a few minutes to color in a page nicely.  It really seems like a nice book for teaching a little one to draw/color. 

The pages we did this past week focused on the color wheel.  Trevor had never heard of this concept before, and I thought he did really well!  We talked about primary colors and secondary colors, warm colors and cool colors.  I could tell that he wasn't even slightly getting the warm and cool colors concept, so we spent some time on the computer looking up pictures of things that were certain colors (yellow-sun, orange-fire, blue-water, etc.) and talking about if those things made us feel warm or cold (like fire is hot). 

He's by no means an expert on the color wheel now, but I was really happy at how well he payed attention and how much he retained.  I think we will probably revisit this concept throughout the rest of the book so he doesn't forget =)

Here are the pages we did (you can click on the images to make them big if you want to get a better idea of what the book is like).


Happy Coloring!

Question for the Readers: Book Recommendations

Hello Friends!

Today I am looking for something from you.  Book recommendations!

First, I'm looking for a new read-aloud for my 3 year old.  We finished two classic Winnie the Pooh books about a month ago and he LOVED them.  Then we started Alice in Wonderland, but just doesn't seem to do well listening to it.  I'm big on twaddle free books and am also looking for a chapter book, so if you have any favorites, pretty please let me know!

Second, I am thinking ahead to Christmas and am looking for a good children's book telling of the real-life St. Nicholas.  We are still sorting out how we are going to do Christmas in our family, but I know I would like to have a good resource to tell the kids who all the Santa hype is based on.  I'm looking for something factual, but still presented in a fun way for the kids.  If you know of any, please comment!  And if you are a real-life friend who lives nearby, I'd love to take a look if you'd let me =)

Happy Reading!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Goals for the 3 Year Old School Year

Here are the goals I came up with for Trevor for this year.  They range from academic, to social and every in between.  Some are very specific goals, while others are more general.  I'm sure I have missed some key areas, but at least this is something for us to aim for!  

Goals for the 3 Year Old School Year:

  • Be able to write all Uppercase and Lowercase letters
  •  Be able to count to 100
  •  Be able to skip count by 10’s, 5’s, and 2’s
  • Be able to write numbers to 100
  • Memorize 50 Bible verses (this sounds like a lot, but I'm thinking one a week)
  •  Improve fine motor skills through arts and crafts
  • Improve gross motor skills through play and possibly a ‘sport’
  •  Be able to dress and undress himself well (he's alright at this now, but still needs some work)
  •  Learn to think of others before himself (not interrupting, not taking toys from Mackenzie, etc.)
  • Begin understanding the concept of addition and subtraction through manipulatives
  • Understand concepts: vowel, consonant, syllable

Now that I've written all of these down, it sure seems like a lot! All I know is that last year I completely under shot in my goals, so I thought I'd think big =)  Trevor never ceases to amaze me in the amount of information he can grasp, so I figure why not expect more than I would initially think!

See any areas I've missed? What are you working on with your 3 year old (or any age!) this year?  Any advice from mommies who have been there and done that with a 3 year old?

Happy Learning!

I've linked up at:


Friday, August 5, 2011

Resources for our 3 Year Old School Year

I'm still working on dotting the i's and crossing the t's when it comes to putting together the lesson plans for this year, but I believe I have all the resources we need for school this year.  Like usual, I believe all my ideas for this year were taken from one of two websites, either Classical Christian Homeschooling or Simply Charlotte Mason.  I'm sure my method of schooling will change throughout the years, but right now I really love the idea of living books which is emphasized in both the classical and Charlotte Mason models.  Charlotte Mason is is a very gentle style of learning (which I would be wise to take to heart!) while the classical model is more rigorous (which suits my own personal style), so right now a combo of both is right what we need.

Here is what we are using this year:

American Folksongs For Children  American Folksongs For Children

Child's Book of Character Building: Growing Up in God's World - At Home, at School, at Play, Book 1  Child's Book of Character Building (along with Simply Charlotte Mason Scripture Memory Box)

Writing Road to Reading 5th Rev Ed: The Spalding Method for Teaching Speech, Spelling, Writing, and Reading (Harperresource Book) Writing Road to Reading

The ABC's and All Their Tricks: The Complete Reference Book of Phonics and Spelling  The ABC's and All Their Tricks (To supplement the Writing Road to Reading because I am a terrible speller!)

Rays Arithmetic Series (8 Volume Set)  Rays Arithmetic Series

Among the Forest People (Yesterday's Classics) Among the Forest People  (and others from the series)

The Kids' Nature Book: 365 Indoor/Outdoor Activities and Experiences (Williamson Kids Can! Series)  The Kids' Nature Book

Baby Lambs: A Children's Art Book  Baby Lambs: A Children's Art Book

Hohner 6 Piece Rhythm Instrument Set

I have also collected things to work on telling time and counting money. And of course we will be playing lots of fun games and singing silly songs and reading great books.

When the school year 'officially' begins I plan on sharing more details of what we are working on (hopefully each week) and how we are using each of these resources.

Have you used any of these resources?  I'd love to hear any feedback you have.  Have you planned your school year and gathered all your supplies?  Please share!  I love to hear what others are doing.

Happy Learning!

I've linked up at:
Not Back to School Blog Hop

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

End of the Year Evaluation - 2 yr old school year

It's August now, and that means that a brand new year of school is about to begin.  I love to have clean notebooks and sharpened pencils and of course a new planner for the year, but before I get too far ahead of myself, I want to take a moment and look back to see if we accomplished what I hoped to this year.  A few months ago, I did a mid-year review evaluating where we were in the goals I had set for Trevor at the beginning of the year and at that time I amended some of my goals.  Now that the year is over, I'd like to check in again to see where we are at.

To review, here were the amended goals I set when I did a mid-year review:

  • Be able to count to 25
  • Be able to count items up to 25
  • Be able to recognize and say the sound(s) of all uppercase and lowercase letters
  • Continue learning new colors and shapes
  • I may start having him trace lines for early writing work
  • I may start having him "build" letters out of cut out lines and curves

End of the year check -up

  • He can count easily to 20, and with help to 30
  • He can count items as high as he can count and with help a little higher
  • He knows all his letters (uppercase and lowercase) visually and knows what sounds they make 
  • We did not specifically focus any more teaching on colors or shapes, but talk about new ones if they come up
  • He practices building letters and tracing lines used for writing letters
  • He can write the letters A, C, E, H, I, L, O, Q, and T (of course, not perfectly or beautifully!)
  • We have also started other types of things like Bible memory, listening to chapter books, music time, etc.
First, let me admit that I did not follow through on the curriculum we started the year with.  I was just board with what we were doing.  The curriculum was good at the beginning of the year, but  it was just too simple by the end of the year.  A few weeks ago, in this post, I explained what we have been doing this summer.

In the next few days I hope to post what my goals are for his 3 yr old school year.  So far I've never been accurate to what we actually accomplish (he usually blows me away with how much more he is able to learn!), but I like having benchmarks to base my lesson plans on and also to be able to look back on to see where we've been.

To my homeschooling friends, how did you like what you did last year?  Did you accomplish what you set out to teach?  Do you have any particular books or plans that you loved and can recommend?

Happy Learning!
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