In my life


In my life this week…

Do things ever slow down? Church, school, sports, dance, meetings, friends, playgroups, housework…I’m thankful that summer is approaching, I love when things slow down.


In our homeschool this week…

We are learning about South America- specifically Brazil and the rainforest. The kiddos have been researching rainforest animals and we made masks after watching a video on the Brazilian Carnival.



Helpful homeschooling tip to share…

Don’t give up. This is about the time of year where we begin to get weary, hang in there. The finish line is near!


My Favorite thing this week…

Camping. I love getting away with our family and friends. It’s a whole weekend of no technology, friends and food.

DSCN9383 (2)



I’m reading…

The Fine Line

I rarely have time to delve into a fiction book, but this one had me captivated from the get go. Few books can inspire me and challenge me to question what I believe at the same time. Could I love a prisoner without judgment, with pure Christ like abandonment? … This book carried me deep into the heart of a Mexican prison where I couldn’t help but to fall in love with the characters, where I was reminded that God’s love shows no partiality.


Things I’m working on…

I’m writing a K-1 curriculum for next year. It’s something I have had on my mind for awhile but with Olivia entering kindergarten next year I have been more motivated.

I am also considering the Paleo diet. Checking out menu plans, and recipes. I don’t know if I could go at it 100% but I think it’s something I might think about.

Trying to keep up with this blog. Ugh, such good intentions, so little time.

Learning more about Essential Oils. I bought a kit from Young Living last year and have found so many uses for them, but I feel like there is so much more to know.


I’m grateful for

A God who is living and active in my life. He continues to speak to me through his word and others.


I’m praying for

Our country, our world.


A verse to share…

This one has been close to my heart this week.

The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live.  Deuteronomy 30:6




Teaching Sight Words to Reluctant Readers Part 3

While I tend to do most of our teaching of sight words in context and through fun repetition, I do like to reinforce learning with games whenever possible.  Any game that gets my children moving is a big hit at our house. So this sight word hunt game is perfect!

Step 1: Place colored sight words around the house


Step 2: Make sure your student has a coordinating crayon for each color you chose.

Step 3: Once a sight word is spotted, have your child find the corresponding sight word on their grid sheet and color the box the same color as their word. 

sight word hunt

You can download the game all ready to go right here or make up your own!

We also like to play Go Fish, and Memory with our words. I have him say the word before he can take it when we play memory just to make sure that he does know it. If he can’t say it, then he can’t keep the match.

I like these games because they are quick to put together with note cards and can easily be changed.

I love to use games and items that we already have to incorporate play with our words, I showed you this game at the end of last year with our car mat, Zack also loved this game that I found over at The World Gone Blue Blog, using his nerf guns! I have pinned tons of other sight word games over on my Pinterest page. Check it out!

Although I would love to incorporate more games into our schedule, the reality is we can usually only get to one or two games a week per subject, and that might be a wee exaggeration some weeks.

Check out Part 1 and Part 2 of the Series for more ideas

Teaching Sight Words to Reluctant Readers Part 2

As I stated in the first post in this series, I believe that teaching sight words {and vocabulary} in context is the most effective way to get the words to actually move from the front of the brain – all the way into the sticky part way in the back. {obviously not a biology major} Winking smile 

When we teach in context and not in isolation we bring the words to life, we give them a purpose and our children see that the words we use, have a use.

When we first started formal school for Zack I used the units from The Moffat Girls. They were bright, and fun and the repetition was great. But much to my dismay Zack hated it. While my older daughter looked on with green envy in her eye over the “fun” activities her brother got to do. I was met with much groans and frustration. He didn’t want to color, cut, and paste even if the activities were so darn cute!

So this year I scrapped all that cutesy stuff and stuck to the basics. Our day is much more enjoyable, although not without it’s struggles.

Here is how it looks now.

I start the week by introducing a few new sight words. I usually only choose 5 and I make those five words part of his spelling for the week.

I provide lots of exposure to those words through books, magazines, lessons, activities, and  games. I also try to point them out when ever we see them while we are out and about.

sight word matching

I consider the words mastered when I am able to hand him a book with those words in it and he can independently read it.


If we get to the end of the week and he is still struggling (sigh, it does happen) then I just add those words to the next weeks list.




Next week I will share some of the fun games we have done to reinforce our learning.

How to Teach Geography and Map Skills

This is the first year we have put any real emphasis on geography in our schooling. I was challenged and motivated by Leigh Bortins book The Core to up the ante with our children- and they have surprised me with how well they are doing and catching on. I have adapted her schedule to fit our needs as well as to fit more effortlessly into our curriculum. But if your interested in the whole schedule on teaching geography the classical way, you should check out her book. We are currently finishing up lesson two.

Here’s a peak into how it’s going.

Lesson 1: (This lesson is repeated until students can do this without looking at an atlas)

Using an atlas, ruler and unlined paper,  line up your paper on the atlas to make the marks where the Equator, Tropic of Cancer, Tropic of Capricorn, Antarctic Circle, and Arctic Circle should be.  Label those lines appropriately.

I expect my third grader to be able to write the words out correctly, but I allow my first grader to abbreviate. Even Olivia can do this!


Lesson 2: Add the Prime Meridian to your students paper along with lesson one information. Here is where you discuss lines of latitude and longitude.

I drew a ladder on the board as a visual reminder that Latidude and Ladder sound similar as well as point out the rings on the ladder going lateral.  I then drew a spider sitting on the top of the ladder with Long legs- representing longitude.

We also discussed how the equator and the prime meridian were both 0 degrees on the map.

Along with our geography we are also working on map skills, I believe they go hand in hand. Our curriculum uses the book Maps and Globes by Harriett Barton which is excellent for explaining all things to do with maps in a kid friendly way, so we have used this book extensively.

We started with the compass rose, I read the section on the compass from the book, and then drew a large compass on our driveway to play a direction game where we took turns calling out North, East, South and West. They had to walk in whatever direction was called. (They still ask to play this game)

Next we moved on to using a Map Key. I like to add as many real world experiences as possible to our schooling, So when we took a trip to the Zoo we used the opportunity to practice using a map with the one provided. At home we practiced with other real maps from Six Flags, our downtown area, and our state.



Once we had looked over various maps and understood what a map key was used for, we drew a map of our school room and made a map key to go with it.


Next in our lessons is plotting out where each continent is in relation to the tropics and the circles. Sola Gratia Mom has a great post showing where we are headed with this.

Stay tuned for updates on how we are fairing!

I’m always needed great geography ideas- there are many to be found at All Things Beautiful.

Homeschool Mother’s Journal

homeschool Mothers Journal

In my life this week…

I have been busy with distractions. I feel like I am dreamily moving from one thing to another without actually accomplishing much. I have been overwhelmed with small tasks that just can’t ever seem to get done. We finally got Christmas put away but I have yet to fill all those spots that the Christmas decorations had taken up. Actually as a matter a fact those spots have now been taken up by toys. {sigh} Toys. Toys. Everywhere. Oh, and junk. You know the kind that sneaks in behind your back and slowly takes up residence, and before you know it you actually forget that it doesn’t belong there.



I know. I should be embarrassed. But this is the real me. The me that you get if you just show up at my door un-announced.

I also started a new part-time job that I just knew I would love and I’m sure I will, but it turns out it’s work. Who would have thought? Winking smile I came home one night feeling like I ran a marathon!


In our homeschool this week…

I have been so discouraged. You know the crawl up in your favorite chair and want to cry kind of discouraged. It has been a battle the whole week with all of our school work. I really began to doubt our decision to homeschool. I did manage to pull it together by today and realize that I just need to take a fresh look at what we are doing and what’s not working. I’m going to spend some time on that this weekend. Today we spent part of our school time doing fun file folder games. I really just needed to end the week on a good note.



Helpful homeschooling tips to share…

Being prideful isn’t helpful. Sometimes the problem is not always my children. Sometimes it’s me. They are often true reflections of me and my heart. {scary}


My favorite thing this week…

We took our oldest to the Titanic exhibit at our Science Museum. She has recently been fascinated by the story. We had a great time getting to look at all the artifacts. I’m thankful we live in an area that has so many of these great opportunities.




Things I’m working on…

Lesson Planning and preparation. I want to be more prepared for my children with their schooling. Some days we just wing it and do too much workbook stuff. It’s part of the reason why we have had some rough days. They love the days when we have games and projects to work on. It really isn’t too hard to make games out things we are studying.

I’m also doing some freezer cooking planning. It’s been a while and I miss have a stockpile of things to choose from on those nights when life gets too busy for me to cook.


Places we’re going and people we are seeing

Sadly, today we are attending the funeral of the mother of a sweet friend of ours. Our hearts are broken for their family and we are praying God’s peace and comfort for them all.


I’m grateful for…

My husband. I don’t know what I would do without him. He is so helpful and is so wonderful at giving me a “break” in the evenings when I need it. (I have needed it a lot this week)

The many, many people who have blessed our lives this past year in so many ways. I was just thinking about this yesterday. I’m thankful that God uses them to bless us.


Something Funny…


Keeping a preschooler busy

I never officially did preschool with my two oldest. In general I don ‘t think it’s necessary in a home that is filled with books. But Olivia doesn’t see it my way. She insist on doing school with us everyday, all day. To be honest- it’s exhausting. I put forth so much energy into planning for the older ones that by the time I get to her school, I just don’t have much creativity left. But when she pulls me in close with those big brown eyes and we get nose to nose so she can whisper “What can I do now, mommy?” I know I have got to come up with something.

So here is a peak into what we have been working on this week.

poem drawing

Olivia worked right along side us while we worked on our poem this week.  Here she drew a picture of a pigeon eating bread. Smile 


I found this great letter matching activity here. I love that it was a challenge for her to match the stickers with the letter on the sheet. It also took her about 20 minutes which was great!


Helping Zoe find the letters she needed for her spelling words


She joined the big kids in their investigation of our backyard habitat. (Although she quickly decided it was too hot to be outside and opted to enjoy the indoors)

letter maze

Letter Maze


Working on some fine motor skills by putting a toy car together


Although not school related ( I couldn’t resist) Olivia started dance this week and it was all she talked about the whole week. She LOVED it!

Despite the challenge of trying to keep her busy and engaged I am thankful that she has a desire to learn and wants to be a part of what we are doing.

Homeschooling…{Take 4}- the fourth year- that is


The first day of school usually holds a few mixed emotions, I have lamented over it here and here. And although this year was no different, I only allowed myself five minutes to panic, worry, doubt, cry- and then I moved on. And I’m glad I did. It was a great first day! The kids were excited – All of them – even my “There’s nothing I like about school kid” And we got a lot accomplished. One of the beauties of homeschooling is that the first day of school doesn’t have to be spent going over rules and routines. We can just jump right into it- and we did!


Even homeschoolers need first day of school pictures!




Starting the day off right!



At the beginning of each year I have them do an “all about me” activity. I love looking back at the end of the year and seeing what has changed. I ask them to draw pictures of themselves, family, to tell about what they like and what they want to be when they grow up…that kind of fun stuff.



DSCN1813  Although Olivia knows her alphabet quite well, we are going to do a quick review of the letters and sounds at the beginning of the year.


This year we are adding an intensive geography study to our curriculum. I’m excited to learn along with them! Using the suggestion for a beginning geography lesson from Leigh Bortins The Core: Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical Education  we are mapping out the equator, Arctic circle, Antarctic Circle, Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn.





Spelling Words!


It has become our tradition to celebrate our first day with a trip out to dinner.

Whew! On to Day 2 …