Monday, December 17, 2012


Today I teach my seven year old,
My first grader, my first born.
She is hear for me to hold and love,
While others can only mourn.
She is a wonderful surprise,
Thought she'd never come our way.
And yet she's here and her sister too,
Just thankful for another day.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Fun times at Creekside

We are well into our second month of this school year and things are going well. We have had a few rough moments and at least one really ugly day but so far I am pleased with everything. Zoey is really enjoying her new math programs and Sierra seems to be picking up number value with lightening speed. Sierra loves to count things and now is adding small numbers. Not on paper, but for example the other day she was finishing a bowl of cereal. I asked her to take two more bites and she did. She then came over to me and said she had already eaten four bites and shows me four fingers. Then she tells me she had two more. She puts two more fingers up. Next she says, "That means I had six bites because see, 1, 2, 3, ..." she proceeds to count her fingers up to six. The the other day I saw her standing on Mom and Dad's deck counting the chairs and she let me know we needed one more chair for dinner. Kids can be so amazing. Of course if we are going somewhere Sierra does not want to go she CANNOT walk but hey she can count to six!

Sierra is also enjoying doing "The Letter of the Week." We just finished "C" and she is finding "C's" where ever we go. Zoey makes me laugh when she wants to do some of the letter of the week activities too. So far I have kept it very simple and only do things when she wants. It is always a challenge with both of them to give them enough to keep them learning and interested but not so much that they burn out and dislike learning.

Sierra is sharing her caterpillar C that she partially laced.  Zoey wanted to do the caterpillar activity too.

Zoey is progressing well with reading, math and handwriting. We just finished learning about silent letter and are now on R-changed vowels. It used to be so hard just to get her through a reading lesson and now it is a breeze. Math can be a challenge some days but the new curriculum we are using has games included and we both have fun with those. It is amazing to see her go from struggling with something to having confidence doing it just because of playing a card game a few times.

In history we are continuing with American History.

We learned about Abraham Lincoln and made hats. Sierra did not want a tall "boy" hat so she made a short pink one. What a funny girl.
In science we have had a few failed science experiments in a row but the girls are having so much fun with the garden on our back patio. The sunflowers we planted earlier this year bloomed and dried out. Zoey got seeds from the flower and planted them in other pots. They are growing quite well. She did the same with the marigold flowers. One day they discovered bugs all over the green bean plants.  Then they had great fun smacking them off with brooms and then squishing them with their shoes. Gross! We did the celery in colored water and that worked quite well.

Here the girls are enjoying doing some nature sketching. They sat there quietly drawing for the longest time.

Here are a few pictures of the garden in August before the bugs took over the green bean plants.

Now that it is September gym class and science classes have started back up. That always adds excitement and challange to our days. We also are having fun with the Five in a Row curriculum.  So far we have done Miss Rumphius, Daniel's Duck, The Finest Horse in Town, Harold and the Purple Crayon, and How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World with Five in a Row. This is primarily for Zoey but Sierra joins in. For Sierra we do Before Five in a Row. The books we have done so far are, Goodnight Moon, The Carrot Seed, Blueberries for Sal, Corduroy, and We're Going on a Bear Hunt. I wish I had time to write updates every week then I would be able to share what we did with each book. Oh well, here are a few pictures.

Playing with buttons after reading Corduroy.
Zoey and the Purple Crayon.
Zoey cutting up celery for the chicken stew we made. It was a recipe to go along with the book Daniel's Duck. She was so surprised I let her use a sharp knife. I was so surprised I did too and that she did so well.
We just started Follow the Drinking Gourd with Zoey and Angus Lost with Sierra. I am excited about all the learning opportunities these books present.
As soon as I upload all of my pictures to Shutterfly I will share them so you can see more if you would like.  I just realized the other day I hadn't uploaded any since last December!
Thanks for reading and sharing in our journey as we teach our children at home. Also, I wrote this on and off over a few weeks so if it is choppy I apologise.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Five in a Row contest

Today is the last day to enter the Before Five in a Row contest. Check it out here...

Did I mention that I won a book on Tuesday! I am so excited. It is called Higgens Bend Song and Dance. We will use it next year when Zoey moves on to volume 4 of Five in a Row.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

They're Back!

We are back in school for the 2012 / 2013 school year. We officially started Monday, August 6 and had a great week. The first few days Zoey couldn't get enough of school and Sierra was thrilled with her own workbooks. By Friday Zoey only wanted to do one math lesson instead of two or three. One lesson a day works for me. Sierra has always had Zoey's old workbooks to play with but this year I got her a few of her own. She still wants me to make "math worksheets" for her. Her "math", as she calls it, is a paper divided into four parts. In each part I make an activity for her at her level. I include simple things like matching, mazes, copying letters or numbers and simple pictures to color. They are not beautiful or wonderful in any way but she loves them and asks for more. I don't love making them but I keep doing it because well she is so cute!

We started of Monday by taking first day of school pictures. Well, they opened their new backpacks (thanks Grandma) with all the new school stuff in it first then we took pictures. Here are a few highlights...
After a while Zoey said she was tired of all the pictures. I laughed and thought, did she just get here? I always take tons of pictures.

So anyways, the first week went very well. Zoey is using new math curriculum but pretty much everything else is the same. History and Science will be changing when we finish what are currently working on. We are still using Five in a Row with Zoey and I started Sierra with Before Five in a Row. They join in with each others books so it is working very nicely. The book Zoey did this week was, Daniel's Duck by Clyde Robert Bulla and Sierra did Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown.  Although this was our first official week of school we did FIAR (Five in a Row) the week before this just to warm back up to school. It was a nice week with FIAR only. Zoey did Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney and Sierra did Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey. We had a great time with all of the books. I love to see how Sierra is remembering things with this curriculum and just having a blast. So now I am off to decide what we will be doing this next week. Thanks for reading.

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Story of Ferdinand

I promised a while ago (two months) to share how our week with Ferdinand went. I thought for sure I would get to it way before now. I will try to keep it simple and short so I actually finish it. So here goes...

The book of the week was The Story of Ferdinand. I set up a little thing called a teaser. It is a collection of items including books, pictures, and anything else you can think of that go along with the book. The girls were excited when they saw it and couldn't wait to get started.

We started off the week as we always do. After reading the book we colored our story disk and found Spain on our world map. Both Zoey and Sierra are doing the story disks this year so there isn't much room on the map for all of our story disks but we are making it work. Next we learned a little about Spain. We tried out some Spanish dancing and a few Spanish words.

On Tuesday we learned about interjections. Wow! Zoey thought every sentence that ended with and exclamation point was an interjection so I had to explain the difference. Later in the week she added a few interjections to some pictures she drew. Very cute. We also talked about how this story is a fantasy story and not a true story.

The next day Zoey and Sierra acted out some of the scenes in the book. I expected this to be fun and it was. Also very fun was finding the humor in the illustrations.  We tried to come up with what some of the people were saying and this made Zoey laugh uncontrollably. She begged me to do it over and over again every time we read the story after this.

Zoey the Matador

For applied math on Thursday I showed the girls how many inches are in a foot and how many feet in a yard. Next I measured them on their growth chart to see how much they grew, just like Ferdinand.

To close out the week we learned about vultures. There is a vulture pictured in the book. This lead Zoey wanting to know more about scavengers. On the back of the vulture book we got from the library it showed other scavenger books. We were all excited that our library had them and we reserved them online. We also learned about cork. We watched a video on YouTube to see how cork grows and is harvested. I also had a surprise set up for Zoey and Sierra. I told them it was not exciting but just something funny. I took a bunch of corks I had (thanks mom) and attached them together with paperclips and attached it to a tree in the backyard. In the book Ferdinand likes to sit under a cork tree. One of the funny things about the illustrations in the book is that the cork tree has corks hanging from its branches. We had talked all week how that is not how cork trees really look. Zoey laughed and laughed at the corks hanging from our tree. Sierra giggled some too. The picture below isn't great but you get the idea.

Next we made small boats using corks, tooth picks, and paper. I let them test out their boats in a small container of water. That was fun but soon the boats were changing into other things and they were gone into pretend land. It was so funny to watch. They really crack me up.

We had a great time with Ferdinand. We have not been doing Five in a Row every week this year but I am glad we are back to doing it. It is so much fun and what they learn really stays with them.


Monday, February 27, 2012

Are you still homeschooling???

Is it the end of February already? The quote, "The days are long but the years are short," is a quote that if I didn't know better I would think that I wrote it myself.  However, I did not. Gretchen Rubin wrote it but it does describe how I feel about things lately.  The days have been sometimes painfully long but all too often I realize the girls are growing up at lightening speed.  Yes, they are still young, but they are no longer babies. I do not want another baby nor do I want them to be babies again but it does give a mommy and odd feeling when a stage of your child's life is gone.

Zoey especially is far from babyhood. Sierra still requires somethings that make our home not completely baby free (diapers at night) but at three and a half she is so very independent. Zoey is completely and totally a school-age child. This is fun and new to me. Teaching preschool for so many years left me with the experience of children only to the age of five. Going off into this new stage in her life has had its ups and downs and with Zoey they are some wild ups and downs. No surprise there. This brings me to the title of this update, "Are you still homeschooling?" I have a dear friend that asks me this every time she sees me. It makes me laugh on the inside. She says it nicely but questioningly. I always answer with a smile on my face, "Yes." "How are things going?" Good, is always a better answer than, well I wanted to drop her off at the closest school last week and not pick her up until she turns 18 but I decided against it. And I mean like not pick her up at all. Ha ha! Yes we are still homeschooling. Yes we have good days and bad days. Yes she is learning. No I have not decided what we will do for high school yet. My goodness she is only six.

So what are we doing and how are things going? At the beginning of the year we started an American History curriculum that started with Native Americans. Zoey loved this so much and she continues to love history now even though we have moved into American Revolution and so on. Lately we have made wigs, like George Washington, that were so cute. We made binoculars and went exploring like Lewis and Clark. We continue to learn about a new state or two each week. Zoey was very happy to finally get to Texas and Florida. I wonder why she likes those states so much. She also has memorized her address although she still says South Carolina sometimes. Science continues to be fun to with simple experiments that both girls can do. One of my favorite things about homeschooling is seeing that Ah-ha moment. We were doing an experiment where we put ice and water in a glass jar and waited.  After a while we observed water on the outside of the jar. I asked how it got there and Zoey looked and looked at it then her eyes lit up. "It is from the air! The water in the air!" This was something we had discussed before but now she saw it happening right before her and connections were made. She was so happy and proud of herself. We were all excited. I thought it was funny though that it took a while for a tiny bit of water to appear. In Florida there is water on the outside of your glass all the time. No waiting required.

An ah-ha moment happened today too with math. Zoey was using the Cuisenaire rods and discovered one of her math problems had a 12 in it. The Cuisenarre rods are one through ten.(Thanks cousin Danielle for the C-rods)  I showed her how 12 is simply a ten rod and a two rod. No biggie. We have done this before. I took that time to show her how the ten rod was the 1 and the two rod was the 2. I explained some very basic place value and a light bulb went off. "Ohhhh, I get it...." and she continued on telling me what she did indeed get. I love moments like those. We have very frustrating times too but what would you expect when you put me with Zoey?

Zoey is doing very well with reading and loves to read to her sister. She really amazes me with the words she can read sometimes. She tells me all the time how happy she is that she can read.

We also are still doing unit studies. I want to keep up-to-date on those too but they need a whole separate post. Maybe there will be a post of Ferdinand in a few days. Please don't hold your breath. Life is just too crazy. As always thanks for reading. I still can't believe it is the end of February already. Only 13 more weeks of school left. Why does it go so fast? Note to self: slow down and enjoy. It will be over before you know it.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

All About Spelling and Reading

All About Spelling is a multi-sensory spelling program but you don't have to take my word for it. Check out their website. They are having a contest for a $100 gift certificate to their website and one way to enter is to blog about it. I really want this program for the girls. It is excellent but if for some reason someone ends up not liking the program it can be returned within a year of purchase! Wow! That is some return policy. 

With my spelling I can use all the help I can get to teach the girls how to spell correctly so I hope to win this!

They also have a new program to teach reading, All About Reading. This will be perfect for Sierra this fall.