2016 Curriculum Choices

I’ve had a few people ask me what curriculum I’m using this year. These are my three main curriculum choices for the year. I have selected some supplemental curriculum to go along with these, but this is what we will be doing on a daily basis.

Cowgirl and Princess are seven and going into second grade, Tank is 4 and in preschool, Monkey is 18 months.

The Family School by Latter-Day Learning. We are using this for all the kids. The subjects covered are: Art, Geography, History, Literature, Music, and Science. I bought the online subscription in the spring when they were offering a discounted price. I wanted plenty of time to look it over before the school year started. I’ll admit, I didn’t spend as much time reviewing it as I originally intended, so we’re just jumping in. There were a few things that I liked about this curriculum.

  • Teaching subjects from an LDS worldview.
  • The one-room schoolhouse format allows me to teach all grade levels at once, with individual assignments for each grade. So I can teach one lesson to everyone and then use the different resources to make sure that everyone is getting exactly what they need at their level.
  • The price. I did get mine at a discount, one that they offer every spring. There are pros and cons to a monthly subscription rather than a one time purchase. For this particular curriculum I felt that the monthly subscription was a good option. (If you would like to give it a try you can use this link and you will get $30 off your first month and I will get $5 off my monthly subscription!)
  • Foundations. There are 5 foundations lessons that are taught each year at the beginning of the school year that are intended to lay a foundation of good habits to build on for the rest of the year.
  • I can teach my lessons from my tablet, there is no need to print everything. There are some things that I prefer to have printed out and I thought that I would not like the online format, but I have found the lessons to be very well laid out and easy to follow. I teach my lessons from my tablet and print out any handouts or assignments.

So far I’ve only taught the first lesson, and reviewed several others, but I really have liked everything that I’ve seen so far and I’m excited to use The Family School for the rest of the year and see if we still like it.

The Good and the Beautiful by Jenny Phillips is the Language Arts curriculum that I’ll be using for A and M. I printed out one course book and one handwriting book for each of them and had the books spiral bound.

  • There are worksheets within the curriculum, since I printed and bound the books my girls just write in the books. This way everything stays together and we have a record of what they’ve been learning.
  • I love the Handwriting books, at the bottom of each page is a space for them to draw or color after they’ve finished the handwriting on the page.
  • The curriculum is very low prep, it really is one that you can just open the book and begin teaching. There is some prep work at the beginning – assembling the mini books, cutting out phonics and sight word cards, printing the activity pack and cutting out all the pieces – but once that’s done, everything is ready to go.
  • There is a FREE PDF download of levels 1-5!

Saxon Math We love Saxon!

  • Manipulatives are used in most of the lessons from Kindergarten through third grade. I have found that using manipulatives to teach math skills helps the younger children to understand the concepts better and grasp what is being taught. The pieces can be put out for kids to play with between lessons and they end up doing math without even knowing it!
  • Lessons are very easy to follow. Very little prep required, the lesson begins with a list of materials needed and anything that needs to be done or gathered before the lesson begins.
  • Math concepts are built line upon line. The lessons build upon each other, and there is lots of review to make sure children truly understand and remember what is being taught.
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Book Review: The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry and The Big Hungry Bear.

(this post contains affiliate links)

I cannot tell you how much we love this book! We have read it dozens of times and never get tired of it. The illustrations are beautiful and colorful, and the story is creative and fun. Cowgirl and Princess had it memorized and would recite their favorite parts before they learned to read. They would give advice to the mouse, and pretend to eat the strawberry. The Big Hungry Bear has become a favorite in our home library.

DIY Paper Pattern Blocks

We love pattern blocks! Before I had the space or money to buy a traditional set of pattern blocks, I made some paper pattern blocks for my girls. I printed the outlines on colored cardstock and then cut them out (this was a little time consuming). This was several years ago, so Cowgirl and Princess were about two and a half at the time and they loved these! I was worried that the paper would be too thin for little hands to handle, but it wasn’t an issue at all, my girls were able to handle the pieces just fine. We have found several uses for these paper pattern blocks over the past few years, and even though we now have a set of pattern blocks similar to this one

, and this magnetic set

, we keep finding new fun things to do with our paper ones.

The first time we used them I printed out some pattern mats for the girls to lay the pieces on. I recommend putting the pattern mats in sheet protectors or laminating them to make them more durable. I organized all the paper pieces in a dollar store muffin tin. This was a very popular activity for several months.

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For Cowgirl’s and Princess’s fifth birthday party I used masking tape to attach clear contact paper to the wall with the sticky side facing out. Then I put the muffin tin with the paper pieces on the floor underneath. I used this as an activity for the kids to do while we were waiting for the rest of our guests. They had so much fun! Most of the pattern pieces came off of the contact paper neatly so the kids could rearrange things if they wanted, and we were able to save the pieces for another activity.

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We have also glued our pattern pieces to construction paper to make collages and to decorate drawings, worksheets, plain wrapping paper, and coloring pages.

Want to make some?

  • Printable blocks from Jessica’s Corner of Cyberspace – she has several different templates including traditional colors, black and white outlines to be printed on colored paper and several other colors and patterns.

How about some free printable mats and inspiration cards to go with them?

Here are more ideas for using pattern blocks

Book Review: Children of the Book of Mormon

(This post contains affiliate links)

Book of Mormon Children: A Collection of Stories Set in Book of Mormon Times 

by Merrilee Browne Boyack

Book of Mormon Children: A Collection of Stories Set in Book of Mormon Times

This book is amazing! There are 26 stories, told from the perspective of the kids in the story, a perspective that is not found in the Book of Mormon. I love how it brings the story to life and the kids have been able to relate better to the stories and add another layer to their understanding.  I have been reading one of the stories to my kids every night at bedtime. After each story are some activity suggestions, including Family Home Evening suggestions, and some facts about things in the story. We really have been loving it!

 

Libraries of Hope

I discovered the most amazing website yesterday!! “Libraries of Hope is dedicated to restoring the lost arts of educating hearts of children.”

I’ve listened to the audio and watched the video on the Training page, and watched “History of the Well-Educated Heart: Part 1 Roots” and begun watching “Part 2 Stems” on the Archived Training page. I’ve loved everything that I’ve heard so far. I love the education philosophy that the founder of the page Marlene Peterson teaches: that it is more important to educate a child’s heart in the early years and educating the heart will lead to a well-educated mind. (She explains it much better than I do, I’m very new to the concept). I also love the concept of teaching in layers, that an education looks more like a spiral that slowly builds on itself rather than a straight line. Marlene explains this concept in the video on the training page, and the entire website seems to be built upon this concept.

There are links, also, to a ton of free online content, sorted by age group and subject. I haven’t explored these very much yet, but it seems as though it will be very easy to navigate and find exactly what I need for each topic.

All of the information and resources can be a bit overwhelming, so start by watching the videos on the main page, then do the Introductory Course, then jump right in! Learn as you go and your kids can learn with you.

Elderberry Syrup (and Gummies)

I’ve been wanting to make elderberry syrup for a while, I though it would be fun to make some gummies for an easy way to give the kiddos (and myself) a dose a few times a week when we are trying to prevent illness and a couple of times a day when we are fighting something off.

We tried this recipe from Wellness Mama. It was too spicy for us. The kids wouldn’t even eat the gummies that I made because they didn’t like the flavor. I might try reducing some of the spices and see how we like it.

But I also want to try this one from Real Food RN, this one from Simply Healthy Home, and this one from Learning Herbs. I plan to try these out one at a time, and I’ll review them all.

I also want to make some regular gummies, just for fun 🙂