Springtime Study with Eric Carle

Friday, February 24, 2017

   Isn't it great when two of your favorite things come together to make one!  You know, like peanut butter and chocolate, or the sand and the ocean...  or particularly this week, books and springtime!!!
   We have enjoyed fantastic weather here in western NC the past week, and although its still 'winter', it feels so much like spring!  Easter Lilly's are blooming along the road, there's the chirping of birds to wake me up in the morning.  Springtime feels like its here!  And although there may be a few more cold, and perhaps even snowy days remaining, we know that spring is just around the corner!
  How better to celebrate than some amazing spring books!!!

   Eric Carle has been one of my favorite artists since I was a child.  I remember fondly watching Reading Rainbow in those early years and being fascinated by his use of color and paint techniques to fill a space.  A modern-day artist, with incredible talent!  And yes, I say artist, because although he is a fantastic author of children's books, he's equally as talented with his color and illustrations.  I just love Eric Carle, and his bright artwork makes his books standalone works in children's literature to be loved through the ages!

    This week I unpacked some of our favorite Eric Carle books and visited our local library in search of some more.  I wanted to pour this artist into my sweet kiddos, and for them to enjoy every moment of it!  The bold colors, the fantastical stories about the smallest parts of nature that they will soon be outside enjoying!  We were all excited about this study, these books, and the artsy stuff to go along with it!
   The first book we chose was little Hero's favorite book ever.  The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

   We also had an extra special treat!  I found a youtube video of Eric Carle himself reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar!  My kiddos especially loved hearing this!

Next we began on our craft for the story!

   Bella is an artist, so we keep a lot of acryllic paints on hand.  We are very fond of the Apple Barrel paints that we get at Walmart for only .50 cents a piece!  I also picked up some paper plates to use for some of our other crafts, and we used those as our palletes.  For this project though, we didn't use paint brushes, we used a chopped up potato!

We made green circles for his body, and a red circle for his face! 
While we were waiting on our heads and bodies to dry, we enjoyed watching the Very Hungry Caterpillar on Netflix!

 We finished up our project with a fine paint brush to give him eyes and antena, and we have some very hungry cateripllars!!!

Our next fun spring book we visited was the Grouchy Ladybug

My kiddos laughed and laughed at this book as the grouchy ladybug crosses the land to find somebody who wants to fight with him!  But in the end, he becomes more friendly and finds the friendly ladybug was willing to share all along.  Such a cute book, with fantastic colors and vivid animals!  We loved it!
We used our same potato stamp paint method to make a page of ladybugs!

    For our last book this week, we read the Tiny Seed!

For this project we took out the paintbrushes, and painted a scene of a sky and land onto a paper plate!

Next, we added painted popsicle sticks for stems, and silk flowers that I picked up at Walmart onto the plates!

Now I have some beautiful spring gardens to hang on my wall!!!

   Please come back next week as we study more of Eric Carles work!  Next week we will be reading the Very Busy Spider and the Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse, learning to paint like Eric Carle, and learning a bit of art history on the inspiration behind Carle's work in the Blue Horse book.  I can't wait!  Hope you'll come back!  

Join me and my friends over at the iHomeschool Network to find out some fun spring book ideas!

*Some links are affiliate links!

Motivation Monday: Work it out

Monday, February 13, 2017

        The following few weeks have been so hard!  The last week in January I got miserably sick.  Like stay in bed, surrounded by kleenex and the bitter bite of defeat sick.  I recovered and did well for a week!  Then two days ago, it hit me again!  Round two was even worse, complete with fever and an entire evening spent in bed.  Three days later I'm still stuffy and in misery...  what gives?
   The thing I can say is this, the week after I was sick was the best week in a long time.  Something about being sick makes you appreciate being well more than before.  So hopefully I can kick it into high gear afterward? Especially since Disney is just a few weeks away....
   So I'm giving myself a spot of grace away from the weighing in
   This week I wanted to talk about working out.  I know that some of you are a lot like me.  You're stay-at-home Mom's, with working husbands that are gone a lot, and when they are there the last thing you want to do is spend that time at the gym.  Thus being said, you are busy with the kids for the biggest part of the day, and don't have time to go to the gym early in the day..  and going to the gym after about 4 in the afternoon is a big joke, because who has the energy for that after you have exhausted so much of your day already, and still have dinner to fix, chores to do, papers to check and bedtime routines to try *SO* hard to stick too?  Nope.  For the majority of my children's young lives working out has been something that I've put on a shelf.     Thankfully, last Easter I made a commitment to work out, prayed hard about it, and made the best purchase that I've made in a LONG time.

Guys, meet my amazing, under $120 elliptical!!


And the story of how we came together...

     Easter Sunday last year was a hard day for me.  We spent it back in our hometown, and it was the first time we had spent a significant amount of time in our hometown since our move last January.  We were going to our home church, and all of my kids were dressed, matching their Daddy in their navy and coral ensembles.  I was particularly excited because I had purchased a new outfit as well.  It matched theirs, and it was a simple skirt with a white shirt.  I had tried it on in the store, but I suppose I wasn't really prepared for what it would look like in person.  We were staying at my Dad's, and I stood in the bathroom in his full sized mirror and looked at myself..  and immediately started to cry.
   It looked so bad.  I was miserable.  How had I let this happen?
   After church we went to eat at my Mom's, where I stepped on the scale which revealed me to be the heaviest I had ever been in my life.  More tears.  I spent the day thinking about how bad I felt, about myself and just how bad I felt physically.  I decided to change, and had no idea how to do it.
   The next day my husband and I were in Sams and we saw an elliptical machine.  It looked great!  I told him that I needed that..  it was what I used in the gym years ago.  The only issue was that it cost $500, and we live in a 2br apartment and there was nowhere to put it.  Sadly, I went online to try and decide whether or not to make the plunge and buy it, forcing it into some corner of the room...  and praying it would be worth it.  
    After lots of research I found something that was simple, and a lot cheaper!  It actually had gotten great reviews.  I never spend that much on something, and was a bit skeptical at first..  but I finally made the purchase, and I've never been happier about a purchase before!

     I'm so glad I bought this rather than spending all that money on the one at Sams!  This little machine fits perfectly in my house! I can move it easily from room to room without issue.  It's the perfect workout for me, and I've spent a lot of time on it for almost a year now and its still in great condition.  The first few months of being really determined and working out on this I found myself 10 lbs lighter.  I've maintained that 10 lb mark since then, yet my inconsistency has kept me from getting lower.  But I'm still thankful for this little machine, which is perfect for this season in my life, where working out at home is my best option!!!
   Also, I have to mention that this is SO quiet!  I can honestly do the workout while my little guy is still napping and he doesn't wake up.  I frequently move it into the living room to workout on while everyone else is asleep, and its completely silent!  I LOVE this machine so very much, it's been my go-to, and I believe the reason I've been able to keep off those 10 lbs this past year.

   And for those who wish, for a few dollars more.... it comes in pink!

   So that's all for this motivation Monday, hopefully next week will bring wellness, and a more encouraging post!

*Links are affiliate links

Our Homeschool, Whats Working, and What's Not

   It's a new year and a new semester  Back to school!!!  It's that time of year when you've had a few weeks off and its time to start again, refreshed and ready to begin a new school semester!  And for many of us, a time to revisit our curriculum, cut out whats not working and jump right into the improved choices!  At least that is par for the course in our happy homeschool life!

If you visited my post about our Curriculum choices, most of the things I chose have been working out wonderfully for our family!  But we have made a few changes that I thought would be fun to share on the Homeschool Mother's journal this month!

We stuck with Not Consumed Ministries for our Bible studies, finished and loved a Contented heart and moved onward to My Brother's Keeper.  The girls are loving this so far!

      In the Math ballgame, we started out a little scattered, with two of the kids doing Math U See and our oldest doing a combination of Life of Fred and Teaching Textbooks.  After a bout with each, we decided to try Algebra I of Math-U-See with her, something she wasn't originally interested in..  and she actually really enjoyed it!  So now Mr. Demme happily instructs all of my children in Math, and I couldn't be happier about that!
    In another note, Brother has been doing Reading Eggs in his computer time, and doing Math Seeds included in that program.  He seems to enjoy it!  Math isn't as much of a priority to me as reading at his age, but I think that he's doing well with basic addition facts.  His reading game is on point, which to me is most important for my 1st grader!

   History is our biggest game changer this month!  Sister has grown even more attached to her American Girl study, especially since she got her first doll back in October for her birthday.  She loves studying them, and that is one thing she very much looks forward too!  Bella however wanted something more challenging.  So we settled on a combination.
   We are still doing American History and are working through the same time period.  Right now we are camping out for the month of January studying the aftermath of the revolution, and working through the rest of Heritage Studies 3.  I LOVE this series, but since it is a little below both of the girls grade level wise we are working through it rather quickly.  So we will be finishing it up by the end of the month, and moving on to Heritage Studies 4 together in February.  Sister will be working through her Portraits of American Girlhood Studies as a special study on her own, which she really enjoys!  Bella will also be working through Joy Hakim's A History of US:  Beinning with the civil war.  She enjoys these books and they also give her a challenge, which she enjoys!  *I will write a blog post about our pioneer studies soon and give you all of our wonderful resources we found along the way!
   She is also undertaking Geology and History at Schoolhouse Teachers to supplement our Zoology study from Apologia.

    One last thing that I'm struggling with is art!  My children are very creative sorts, and I'm- well, not so much.  So I really want them to have a good solid art class but I'm not really well equipped to teach it!  So I finally decided on See The Light Art Class, a DVD art program by See the Light production.  It was a toss-up between this and Home Art Class, so I'll let you know what I think about Art Class first!

   Lastly, and I'm doing this last because its absolutely rocking my socks off.  Most homeschool Mom's are shocked that I haven't heard about this before, but I hadn't!  The website is SchoolHouse Teachers and oh my goodness!  What a plethora of information is available on this site!!!  We are using it on some of our math review!  Bella also uses it for History, Geology and Art!  We are also really excited about checking out the music courses as well!  It's less than $13 a month, and for all that it has to offer that's a fantastic price!  We still haven't had time to evaluate everything, but we are excited about checking it all out!
   Homeschool is a blessing because you have the ability to tweak what you are doing when it is suitable for you and your family.  You can cater to a child's interests and help them find what works for them.  It is absolutely an amazing learning environment.  I'm so thankful for the blessing of homeschool, and to be able to take time and change directions when it benefits my sweet babies!

Linking up with my friends over at the iHomeschool Network!

*Some links are affiliate links!

Homeschooling Reading: All About Reading!

Friday, February 10, 2017


Welcome today 5 and the final day in our homeschool hopscotch blog hop!!!  Today I wanted to share a post with you about the reading program that we love most in our homeschool, as well as our journey to finding this program! Enjoy!!
Follow the rest of my hopscotch Here!

Day One:  Math 
Day Two:  Science  
Day Three: History  
Day Four: Computer Programs 
Day Five: Reading  

 I remember one of the most fearful things about homeschooling to me was worrying that I would not be able to teach my kids to read.  It haunted me.  My oldest went with My Father's World, and I loved the curriculum..  however when it came to learning to read, we still struggled.  We made it halfway through first grade with that curriculum before we started switching up and trying new things.  We tried a year of Time4Learning, and she stared disliking school very much.  Somehow thought, between what we learned from MFW and Time4Learning, she was slowly learning to read, and starting to enjoy it.  
   It was at that time she actually began a private school for about three months, which solidified her learning curve.  She was reading pretty well by the time she got out of the school, only to begin homeschooling again in the following year.  When we started back, we jumped into Explode the Code and Reading Eggs to finish her program. Somehow, she emerged a strong reader, and loves reading!  I'll always say it was Gods provision and his alone that led her to her reading, because her education was really unstable during those early years, but He is good, and she learned anyway!  However, when my son began 1st Grade, I didn't want to go down that same road again.  

     I picked up Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.  It bogged me down immediately.  I picked up Abeka, but with two other children in two different grades, I was again really bogged down again with lesson plans.  I needed something that was very thorough, but took far less planning time on my part!  But reading isn't something I wanted to phone out on, its the foundation for everything else he will ever learn..  so I began combing the web for ideas and reviews, and thankfully, I stumbled upon All About Reading!

    It was by far the best curriculum purchase I have ever made!  We are LOVING both All About Reading as well as All About Spelling!!!   
   We begin our day by setting up our white board with colored tiles.  We have all of the letters laid out in front of us.  

   The teachers manual could not be easier!  It's basically just open and start school!  The letter tiles are interactive, so rather than writing the words, he builds the words, and loves that!  It keeps his attention, which is something that is hard to do for a wiggly 7 year-old boy!  He learned his vowels quickly as they were red and the other tiles were blue.  There's also tiles for consonant teams, such as Th and Ch..  etc.  It could not possibly be more easy!  The index cards work as flash cards, to hold up and read...  simple as it can be!

    We also have an app on my phone that gives us the correct phonics sounds.  Now I don't like to admit that I may need this sometimes..  being that I was an English minor way back when I got my Bachelors degree in Communication..  but what can I say?  Sometimes my southern dialect gets the better of me, so this is very helpful and used frequently!!!

   The activity book has amazing activities!  This one is feeding a monster!  The monster's bones have words written on the back side of them.  Brother reads the words, and if he gets them correct, he feeds the bones to the monster!

 This day, we cut out paper eggs, put them in a pan, and flipped them over to read the word!  A correct reading meant a finished egg!  Brother really enjoyed this one!

And today's lesson included a cutout of a cute little mouse, and cut outs for cheese!  The little guy would sneak up and grab a piece of cheese from the pile, and if Brother read correctly, the cheese was the mouse's to keep!

We also have some reading books to enforce the lessons that we are learning, and brother really enjoys these!  They are a good read, and he finds them very funny!

All in all, this program has been a BIG win in my house!  We absolutely love this program and everything that we have learned with it!  I'm thankful that we came across it, and am looking forward to using it for years to come, and with my other on as well!  Out of all the many reading programs we have tried, this one by far is the best!  It has little planning time, is easy to understand and is not overwhelming, and is very enjoyable to my sweet boy!  Thankfully!  I love this program, and would recommend it to anyone teaching someone to read!

*This post contains affiliate links!!

Home Schooling: Computer Programs

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Welcome to day 4 in our homeschool hopscotch blog hop!!!  Today I wanted to share a post with you about computer programs that I chose to supplement our homeschool!!  Enjoy!!
Follow the rest of my hopscotch Here!

Day One:  Math (2/6/17)
Day Two:  Science  (2/7/17)
Day Three: History  (2/8/17)
Day Four: Computer Programs (2/9/17)
Day Five: Reading  (2/10/17)

  Hi there!  I wanted to stop in today and write another home school review type post for my fellow home schoolers out there.  Today, I want to talk about online school, and all of the things available for home schoolers on the www!
   First, I have to mention that I really try hard to 'unplug' in a lot of areas of our life.  We don't have live television via cable or satellite in our home, and we haven't in years other than the one year we spent at a house that had cable included in the rent, but even then we didn't utilize it very much.  Once you get used to not having it, its really hard to live with!  That's another blog post for another day.  My kids have tablets, but their use is restricted to special treats and car trips.  I don't keep but a few game apps on my phone, and my rule about phones and my older children is that it is not allowed in their bedroom at all.  I realize that technology can have a BIG pull on everyone, and my deepest hope is that my children grow up knowing how to use it, but not depending on it and wasting a big part of their life staring at a screen in their hands.  So honestly, we don't utilize as much computer work in home schooling as we have in the past.  However, I do want them to know how to use a computer, and there are a LOT of great resources out there!
   My general rule is that we have some computer time on *most* schooldays, and we don't use it over the weekend at all.  For the younger children that is.  My older girls are allowed on their tablets for some time after the younger ones go to bed, but I usually find them reading or playing barbies instead.  That makes me feel accomplished in my endeavors!  But, as I said, there are a lot of good computer programs out there that are great working with school, and I wanted to take some time today and share some of our favorites!!!

Starfall is free, and has a lot to offer!  It has a great reading program, set up into different lessons based on the kids reading level.  It's also repetitive, so they get used to the books and lessons.  The kids love this site and have used it off and on for years as a supplement.  They also offer more for a low price paid account, but we have never used it, so I'm unsure of the details, but I've always heard good things!

   You've probably heard of this one, it is highly advertised.  I've used it on and off throughout the years.  The kids really enjoy it!  It isn't free, but it is only $7.99 a month.  That is a reasonable price for what it offers.  The kids enjoy setting up their classroom, and taking care of the animals.  Unfortunately, my son gets caught up in this and doesn't do as many lessons as I would like, but it is a fun game to play around on.  It also works great on the tablet as well.  

StoryJumper is FREE!  I love this website, as do my kids.  They create their own story books with a variety of backgrounds and characters.  It really extends their imaginations!  You can also buy a book that the kids have created!  I haven't purchased one yet so I'm not sure of the quality of the books, but hopefully I will soon.  For now, its something fun and imaginative that they can play around on!  

Again, this one is FREE!  Free is always good, lol.  I really like this fun little program!  My kinder really enjoys it, and he learns a lot from it!  You create your own monster and teach it to read, going through space adventures and such.  It is very fun, very cute, and very educational!!!

But by far, my MOST favorite two computer programs are:

I can't say enough good things about reading eggs!!!!
My daughter used it a little bit when we had a free trial for a few months, but as I mentioned before, she's not much of a computer based learner.  So we didn't use it for awhile, then when my Kinder started showing interest to read in prek, we started it again.  We purchased it for a year and used it very frequently after we moved here.  I can't tell you how much it improved his reading skills!!!  He enjoyed it, it got to a point where he was a little bored with it, but he certainly is reading on a higher level than my other children were at his age!!!  I have to credit it partially to this site as well, because rather than using a set reading curriculum, we learn through blend ladders, CVC words, site words and just reading, a LOT of reading..  so this has been our supplement and he's doing great!  He reads road signs and closed captions on the television, lol.  So I can't say enough good about this product!  It isn't free, but you can get a free trial I believe if you've never signed up before.  It is certainly worth what you pay for it though!    
 Next year we are starting All About Reading for him in 1st grade, and our year that we paid for us up, so since he is somewhat bored with it right now I am not going to purchase it again until we start again in September after break, but this will be one of the *HAVE TO* purchases for next year, it gives him computer time, improves his reading skills, and makes me happy that he's spending his computer time wisely!  I can't recommend it enough!

Our other favorite: SchoolhouseTeachers.com!!!

These are just a few of the many, many, many subjects offered from Schoolhouse Teachers!!!

I was introduced to schoolhouseteachers by another seminary Mom here on campus.  She said that it was a lifesaver and made her homeschooling adventure while being a busy ministry Mom (she also works, has three boys and is a pastors wife!  Love that busy lady!) So I thought I would give it a try!  Oh my goodness, I'm so excited that I did!  There is SO much information here!  Bella is currently taking History (Civil War era) Geology, Art and Logic!  Sister likes to learn new languages and go through the science book set (this is an incredible library that your SchoolHouseTeachers account gives you access too!) Brother is excited about trying out Violin lessons soon!!  
Me and Stephen are particularly excited that you also have access to RightNow media with your subscription to schoolhouse teachers!  This gives you access to a HUGE library of bible studies!  It's incredible!  All of this for the access fee of $14.95 for the Limited membership of $19.95 for the ultimate membership!  You can also do a month trial for only $5.00, which is a great deal and a great way to see if you do like the course!  There is no extra access fee for additional students, that's just one payment for your entire family, and accessing so much information!  It is incredible!!

*Note, from now until Feb 28 you also can have a membership for only $10.95 per month!  Fantastic deal!  

Day 5: Reading