Four Weeks In

Well, we are four weeks into homeschool 2015, and so far so good. Our curriculum choices are working out well, and we are all getting into the school routine.

Here are some things that are working out well for us so far this year:

A Daily Schedule

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I got crafty and made a daily schedule with pictures for Ivelina. It only took her about 2 days to be able to to “read” her daily schedule. The subjects mostly stay the same each day except for a couple of variable times. On Monday, we visit the library, on Wednesdays and Fridays we have speech therapy, on Thursday afternoons I go to work and Ivie stays with a friend, and of course some days we do errands or a field trip. We also throw science and geography into the mix a few days a week. She loves knowing what is happening each day, and the picture schedule is helping so much! She also likes to turn over the cards when we finish something. This helps her see how we have left to do until afternoon free time. That’s her favorite part of the day of course.

PlayDoh abc’s

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Our All About Reading curriculum is going great. It is providing a nice easy review of everything Ivelina learned last year in pre-k. We review one letter each day as well as practice some essential reading skills like rhyming, counting words, counting syllables, and listening. We are currently on Letter Q. After we do about 4 letters, I am having Ivie do a PlayDoh activity that she really likes. On scrap paper, I draw out the last four letters we have reviewed with bold black marker. I help her count the number of lines needed to form the letter. We talk about many long lines and how many short lines we need. Then we make the correct number of PlayDoh snakes and place them over the black lines. She can measure to see if the snake is too long or too short. Lastly, we put them on the table or floor and she has to line the letter cards up in alphabetical order. This is a challenge for her! Tomorrow we will do this activity with all of the previous letters up to Q, but she’ll only make PlayDoh snakes for the last four letters. We will just keep this up until we get to the end of our alphabet review.

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Cooking

Ivelina loves it when I have cooking lessons on our schedule for the day. I try to plan a recipe for her to help me with once a week. So far we have made banana breakfast bars, 3-ingredient peanut butter cookies, and peanut butter oat bars. This week: corn bread! Cooking together provides an opportunity for our little one to learn her way around the kitchen, learn the names of common kitchen tools, learn about nutrition, and practice some different fine motor skills. She is also being exposed to fractions, measurement, recipes, (and Pinterest… Because basically everything I cook comes from Pinterest). I’m trying to expose her to washing dishes too, but she would rather sit in front of the oven watching and waiting for her creations to be done.

Peanut butter cookies image

What has not worked so far for us:

Reading The Little House in the Big Woods 😦  I finally got tired of my child complaining everyday about my read aloud selection. I want to build stamina for listening to a read aloud, but I also want it to be fun, not a chore. I love all things Liitle House, but since she’s not into it, we switched to The American Girl series about Felicity. It is still historical fiction, but It is holding her attention better. It still has a few color pictures, which are more interesting to her, and she had some AG paper dolls, so she can make connections between the story and her dolls. Win!

Gearing up for Home School

For the past several weeks, I have been doing little projects to get ready for home school. Today’s post is simply about our curriculum choices for the year.

Ivelina will be in grade K-1 this year. We considered last year sort of a Pre-K year as she learned English, learned the alphabet and practiced her numbers 1-10. Some days we were just practicing how to hold a pencil. This year, she will still be working on mastering many Kindergarten skills, but later in the year, we will be working on some very first-grade skills as well.

We have set some specific goals for Ivelina this year; they mostly fall into the areas of language arts, math, and Bible. These are the subjects for which we actually purchased curriculum. Science, social studies, art, history, and geography will be taught naturally as we encounter these topics in books and in real life.

Language Arts

We are using All About Reading, the pre-reading level, this fall. This pre-reading level focuses on recognizing the upper case and lower case letters and on knowing the letter’s sounds. This will all be purely review from last year, but I feel like our little one will need that reinforcement before she begins the next level of AAR. Letter sounds are one of her strengths! I estimate that we will finish the pre-reading level sometime in late Winter 2016, so I plan to have All About Reading Level 1 ready to go so that we can move right iAll About Readingnto it mid-school year. We plan to keep school going throughout next summer and try to regain some education ground that Ivelina lost during her early years in Bulgaria.

I will also be using my Letter of the Week curriculum from last year. As All About Reading reviews each different letter, I will pull LOTW activities for her to practice, especially the tracing and writing activities.

Something new I will be trying this year is a scheduled read aloud time. We always read library books before bedtime each night, but I want to help build Ivelina’s listening skills and her stamina by reading a longer book with her this year. I chose The Little House in the Big Woods for our first book. I think it will be of interest to Ivie, and I think it will provide opportunities to incorporate a little U.S. history, U.S geography, and homesteading lessons into our school time. Ivelina also has an independent reading time slot scheduled into our school day as well where she can look at her many astronaut, scuba diver, and shark books. Geesh, we have a lot of those!

Math

We purchased Math-u-See, Primer level. Number sense is a weak skill for Ivelina, but last year we discovered that she is a pretty visual little gal. Math-u-See has great reviews, and I have heard it is especially effective for children with learning difficulties and for children who are visual. I feel this one level will probably actually last us until May.I’m going to just wait and see. I might purchase the next level later this year and have it ready to beMath u seegin next summer to get a little bit ahead, but it’s just too early to decide that yet. I also plan to do a more formal calendar math this year as well. We really didn’t do that at all last year. Her vocabulary just was not there, and time was way too abstract of a concept to try to tackle. This year, I think she is ready!

Bible

Bible roadtripI have been super excited about our Bible curriculum. Last year, we simply read through the Jesus Storybook Bible, and Ivelina memorized a few Bible verses. This year, I have printed a year’s worth of lesson plans from The Bible Road Trip. These lessons take a child through the entire Bible in three years. Wow! I love that. I also love that each week’s lesson has suggested stories, a verse to memorize, and craft ideas. The crafts are super simple and to the point. Most of them are actually designed to help the child remember the story more easily. Best of all, these lessons are FREE! I have been really pleased with the theology in these lessons as well; they are full of meat– no fluff and no wat365 Bible Storiesering down the scriptures. I do feel that the lessons are advanced for our little gal, but I figure it is better to have a curriculum that is a bit too difficult and just try to simplify it than to have a curriculum that is too fluffy and have to try to add meat to it in order to make it acceptable. The companion Bible story book is the one pictured to the left, 365 Great Bible Stories. I ordered it for us to use this year accompany this FREE curriculum, and so far I really like the look of it. The stories are kept short and manageable, but with 365 of them, all of the major stories and many obscure ones are included. A plus is that Jesus is central throughout this entire book.

Other subjects will be taught through these three primary areas and through field trips. I feel good about our choices. As always, teachers must be flexible. I may be totally surprised by our curriculum’s effectiveness and our daughter’s abilities, but for now, these are the choices we thought would best fit us and our daughter’s needs. Of course, I will post updates throughout the year to let you all know how it’s going.

To all you fellow home-educators out there, happy schooling!! What curriculums are you excited about trying this year?

Why “On Our Hearts?”

For quite a while, I wrestled with a title for this new blog of mine. I didn’t want the title to be too specific; I didn’t want to feel limited in what I could post here. It is not just an adoption blog, and it is not just a home school blog, and it’s not just a faith-based blog. It’s about our family…and all of life really. I wanted to choose a title that would encompass anything I could potentially want to write about here.

So I won’t always post super-spiritual stuff here, but the way I chose my blog title just happened to be from Scripture. My first pick for a title was, “With All Our Hearts.” This was based off of one of my favorite Bible verses, Deuteronomy 6:5. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart…….” I thought this would be a great title because I do strive to do everything I do as an act of love for my God. I fail miserably most days, but I do love God, and I want everything I do to be out of a heart of love for Him. This blog title was already taken unfortunately.

So I turned to that chapter in Deuteronomy and read the whole context of that verse hoping something else might come to mind. In this chapter, the Israelites are preparing to enter the promised land. God has given them His law, the 10 Commandments, and he is giving them final instructions for living a life before Him in their new home. In Deut. 6:6, God says, “These words, which I commanding you today, shall be on your heart.”

How fitting! As my husband and I strive to raise our daughter to be a God-worshipper, and as we strive to draw closer to the Lord and His word each day, these words, God’s words should be on our hearts always. I confess that sometimes I am too busy struggling with my own sins to keep His words on my heart, but this is my desire. I thought giving this blog that title would be a daily reminder for me to keep the most important things on my heart each day.

So, yes, at times, I will be writing about how God’s words are impacting my heart and our lives. Sometimes I will just share thoughts, musings, life struggles and life victories. I will post about my kid. A lot. I’m sure sometimes my posts will be totally random! But, every time I log into Word Press to send some more thoughts out into cyber space, I will be reminded to check my heart. What is on my heart today? Is it the things of this world or the truth of God? What should be on my heart?

So that’s the story of how this blog came to be.

 

 

A fresh new look

I’m super excited to be unveiling our new blog today! On our hearts has been on my heart all summer. Our previous blog served us well during a time of going on mission trips and adopting our daughter, but I have been ready for a fresh new look for a while now. I was also interested in trying out WordPress; it is proving to be a bit more complex, but I loving all the sleek new features that Blogger did not offer. (I gladly accept WP tips and advice from any seasoned pros out there.)

I have not written very much at all about our summer, but I did get my first smart phone and I can actually make a photo collage now. I know, I know… So, now that I am all tech savvy and everything, here are some photo collages to help summarize our summer 2015.

imageJust some random shots from summer. It was the summer of swim lessons, learning to ride a two-wheeler, visiting parks, and building relationships with our neighbors.

swim lessons

I hope all of my previous readers will follow this new blog, and I hope to meet some new blogging friends along the way too!