Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Today, more of the same :-)

Math: learning how to write her numbers which she already knows most of. She had a hard time with number 3 and number 9 but can do them good now. We'll have to practice again tomorrow. She really likes to use the little chalkboard from the handwriting without tears curriculum. (which I still haven't gotten the books for yet.. They should be coming in the mail soon hopefully).

Language Arts: still working on 3 letter short vowel words, but she is definitely reading faster than she was a few months ago. It's not torture for me to sit and listen to her read a story anymore (most of the time LOL)... Still good fruit for offering up my prayers. We worked on Left-right again and she is better than me LOL, and we worked on the letter T.

starting: Courderoy. What a sweet story. I still remember my parents reading it to me as a little child. If you haven't read it lately, go get it out of the library like we did because it is so sweet. This one we definitely would love to have on our bookshelf. Now I want to find the next book in the series.

Religion: reading about Angels and talking about them. Elizabeth just loves angels (and what little kid wouldn't?) funny though.. Her favorite picture of angels is of St. Michael the archangel stabbing a devil with his sword and stepping on his chest LOL.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

daddy teaching math Posted by Picasa

drawing of her guardian angel Posted by Picasa

Second Day of School

Today we made butter just like Laura and Mary from Little House in the Big Woods... except it turns out mommy isn't as cool as 'ma', because when we tried to cook the grated carrot in the milk to make the butter yellow (don't ask, just read the book LOL), I forgot that we needed some sort of cheesecloth to sqeeze the yellow juice (ours looked distinctly orange to me) out. I tried to use paper towel but lets just say that we decided that white butter was ok for this time. :-) Then we wanted to pat the butter into a mold like 'Ma' did, but the only thing I could find was a sandbox toy shaped like a turtle... so we had white turtle butter, but the kids liked it anyway.

We just had a bit of time left to do a religion lesson and we learned the guardian angel prayer today and elizabeth drew a picture of herself and her guardian angel for me. I'm amazed how good she is at drawing. oh- and she surprised me... she already knew most of the guardian angel prayer already!! I guess she listened to CatChat enough to memorize it :-)

After dinner daddy did a math lesson with the kids and they had fun too, although it took about 10 minutes for elizabeth to write her name on the top of the paper.. good training for daddy!
First Day of Kindergarten

Well, we got through our very first day of school. Elizabeth was so excited and had lots of fun, although she definately has a very short attention span (all the more reason to homeschool!!).

We started off the day with morning mass (which we've been trying to get to each day at 8am... somedays are easier than others), and then came home and said our morning prayers.

Elizabeth set up her little table like a real 'school desk' and took away zach's chair because she said that school desks should only have one chair. :-)
Then we did religion (learned the sign of the cross and read a story... and then she instructed me on the mystery of the trinity: " Mommy, did you know that Jesus and God are the same person, even though they have different colored beards?".

For Language Arts: we learned the letter 's' which she already knows, but had fun feeling 'smart' because school was easy for her :-) However throughout the rest of the day she was noticing the letter S everywhere and telling me what words started with it... that was neat to see her really learning. She also learned her Left and Right (which i was surprised to see she already knew!!) and we played a little game.

The two of them made a Snake on a paper with yarn and sequins and glue. We also read another chapter in Little House in the Big Woods. Later in the day we did a short phonics lesson. I definately have to keep her lessons to under 10 min each, or she loses concentration easily.

Before lunch we made a trip to someone's house to pick up an old set of encyclopedias that I acquired through freecycle (what a fun website that is! i'm not sure where i'm going to keep these new set of books, but they look like all sorts of fun to look through even though they are old). Elizabeth didn't want to take a nap, so I let her sit on the couch and read books to herself quietly. Of course she fell asleep, but when i moved the book off her face she immediately woke up and declared she wanted to do more 'school' and learn her math. :-) I wonder if this excitement will keep up through grade 12?

For math she really had fun. Math-u-see is a great curriculum and she loved to play with the blocks. I gave her a sticker on each page she did right (all of them because it was so easy for her) and had her practice writing her name at the top. I think she will really like this curriculum.

Oh, and we did a bit of FIAR and read How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World. She enjoyed that book a lot.

We had fun! Her little brother was sure grumpy though and wanted her to play with him so we took lots and lots of breaks. About an hour and half of school spread over 5 hours was pretty good, although I didn't get my laundry finished. That will always be there waiting for me.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Looks like some good booklists
My turn

Well all this homeschool on the brain has made me think I should start doing some reading and learning of my own :-) I guess that's a great side benefit to teaching your kids: you rediscover that love of learning.

One of my passions is reading good books and it seems like ever since I've had babies and toddlers in the house, I've had no time for my own reading time. I'm lucky if I have an uninterrupted 30 seconds to browse the subjects of my emails, so I'm always afraid to start a good novel. I have so many I want to read and re-read.

On the bulletin board for I have found a great discussion thread about Catholic book recommendations for grown-ups. (They also have great discussion areas for all sorts of other homeschool and catholic stuff)

I'm also inspired by this new series Loyola Classics: it's old catholic fiction that is being reprinted by Loyola press and looks like what I might be wanting.

I also want to read the rest of the books in his 'Children of the Last Days' series by Michael O'Brien.

For now, I'm enjoying reading 'Little House in the Big Woods' with the kids. Elizabeth has a paper doll set that goes with this book and is begging me to keep reading it to her every time I sit down.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Tea Time
I've been reading about other homeschooling moms who follow the English tradition of tea time and thought I might start a little tradition for our afternoons as well. I want to teach the children good manners at the table etc... and to enjoy quiet music, a good book or poem, and some nice conversation. We'll see how long this lasts with a 5 month old, 2 year old and a 4 1/2 year-old-going-on-17 LOL.

We baked gingersnaps together after their nap, and when they were ready, I suprised the kids with a little kid table set with real tea cups (not fine china by any means.. just my boring clunky coffee mugs LOL), and a tablecloth, cloth napkins (which we learned go on our laps), nice plates, and a teapot full of lemonaide.

We put on Baby Mozart for atmosphere and then I read to them a few stories from "The children's book of Faith" by William J. Bennett. We chose Daniel and the Lion's Den, and the Legend of St. Christopher. Even my little toddler sat quietly while we sipped our 'tea' and read our stories. Afterwards, the children helped me to clean up by gently taking the plates, cups and napkins and putting them away... and then they were back to being noisy silly little kids.
Hopefully this can ease the cranky 4:30 hungry kid syndrome that is attacking our house lately. Especially since daddy doesn't get home till around 6pm and we don't eat till later.

Here is her narration of the story we read: (almost 5 years old)

Daniel was really wise.
The King chose Daniel to be his greatest
helper. The guys told the king not to praise God, and then the guys saw
Daniel praising God.

They told the king that Daniel was disobeying
the law, and the King said
that he could change the law, but the guy said
They threw him into the lion's den.
God closed the lion's mouths and
he sent an angel to help Daniel.
They got him out of the lion's
den. Then Daniel was safe.
The End.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Well I had my phone meeting with my 'advisor' from STAA today and am excited to start soon. For kindergarten she told me to go really easy and gently. In fact, right up until the end of grade 2 she is still just my little girl and we don't have to be too 'academic' until grade 3.

These are some of her reccomendations:

  • for this year, the only really important thing to do each day is a little reading and a little penmanship. For reading, I will continue to do Ordinary Parent's Guide to teaching Reading, and gently move into Little Angel readers/workbooks. For penmanship, handwriting without tears is a good program to do 2-3 times a week and the other days just practice writing stories, drawing, trace-overs etc...
  • She had a good idea of her drawing a picture and then having me write her story down, and then her tracing over my letters with a crayon or a highlighter etc...
  • keep her best work of the day/or week in a nice frame on our wall to show it off.
  • have a folder of her work of each day to show daddy at dinner time
  • have a daily or weekly 'report card' for her that we put stickers next to her subjects that she did good in.
  • her natural attention span for something that I ask her to do at this age is from 5-10 minutes... keep this in mind!!
  • if she starts getting cranky, grumpy etc... then this is a sign she might be getting overworked etc.. and to lay off a bit.
  • we don't need strict schedules, but i need to start gently introducing a 'routine': i.e. we do these 3 things today.
  • try to get our work done in the morning time. We need about 1 1/2 hours of work per day, but this should be stretched out over 3 hours. 5-10 minutes of lessons at a time.
  • aim for 40-45 days of school per quarter... but going to the dentist, park days (PE), clay classes (art), phoenix, etc.. are all school too
  • keep a portfolio of her work and her attendance, and her course of study.
  • for my toddler: have a box of stuff that only comes out during school time, or have a plastic swiming pool that is a 'learning centre' for him where he has a specific activity he can play there (blocks etc...or the tent set up with his cars etc..)
I need to sort out a routine for the following:
-Religion: 2-3 times/week bible stories, 2-3 times/week catechism
-Reading: 2 to 3 times/day, 3-5 days a week
-Penmanship: 3 days/week formal instruction, 3-5 days a week practice
-Big thoughts for little people (composition): 20min, 2-3 days a week
-Writing stories: 1-3 a month
-Health/science (from Five in a Row)

The rest are all just casual fun stuff that don't really have to be regimented or scheduled.
-art appreciation: for one quarter use FIAR or child-size masterpieces
-music appreciation: for one quarter: classical kids
-art/drawing: for one quarter: ed emberley is good! i should buy this book
-science: for one quarter: FIAR

We have decided to start our 'first day of school' on monday the 29th of august. I think we will have a party just for the fun of it and take some first day of school pictures etc...

Monday, August 22, 2005

Feast of the Queenship of Mary Posted by Picasa
Well... World Youth Day is over and everyone must be coming home by now... How I wish one day we could go to one of these celebrations before we are too old :-) I know my vocation is to be here at home with my family though. news has some good articles and a virtual pilgrimage for those of us who couldn't be there.

Busy Weekend!!

She's already getting into our school books and we haven't even started yet :-) I love watching her excitment for learning. She pulled out her 'Draw Write Now' book and drew this picture for her great-auntie who is visiting now.

She insisted on finishing the copy-work below it before we left.

This morning she's been busy working away at a pot-holder from the pot-holder kit that I bought at CHER last week. (what a fun store to go to... you could spend so much $$ there)

Oh... and I made a little quilted table runner on the weekend that is so pretty. Sometimes I wonder if I was born in the wrong century. I love doing all these handicrafts, cooking, baking bread, gardening, wearing feminine clothes like skirts and long hair etc... I sure don't feel like I fit in with my peers most of the time.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Peace and Quiet
Well, my two oldest are at grandma's house for the day, and I'm just enjoying the quiet of my clean house (we had company last night so it's still clean!!). I just ordered our Math program for next year.. my this is starting to get expensive. Good thing for government funding. I'm not sure how people can afford homeschooling in places where there is no government funding.

Good news! I found the writing program I wanted (Writing in Narrative A). The original publishers are no longer printing it, but there is a new company who is doing it now:
Christian Family Resources.

I have my first advisor telephone appointment on next Tuesday morning to go over my program guide and curriculum packet for the year. STAA seems like it's working out to be a good fit for us. I definitely need the structure.

Oh- and the picture is of my oldest who is now almost 5 years old. How fast time goes by!!! There is something so peaceful about a sleeping baby.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

What a fun day for us :-) We went to one of the homeschooling bookstores in town (Canadian home education resources... see links to the right) and bought lots of fun stuff. It was so busy in the store, and it was really good to see other homeschooling families in there. Lots of big families with many kids ( a few teenagers walking around holding their toddler siblings etc...). They have so many resources in that store and it's so much fun seeing all the curriculum in real life.
this is what we got:
  • pot holder making kit (klutz)
  • Little House on the Prairie paper dolls (Elizabeth has already been playing with these)
  • Five in a Row Vol 1
  • How to bake an apple pie and see the world
  • Clown of God
  • Annies book of art: etiquette and good manners
  • How to use Child-sized masterpieces
  • some more pretty pencils
  • Dinah Zikes big book of books (for lapbooking)
  • Draw Write Now vol 1
  • HWT mini chalkboardd
  • Ruth Beechicks "The 3 Rs"
  • The Beginner Bible
  • Honey for a Child's Heart
  • Classical Kids CD: hallelujah Handel

I was disappointed that they didn't have any of the HWT books in, and they might not be carrying them anymore. Now I'm not sure what handwriting program I'll use... maybe the Little Angel's program will be enough for now.

I still want to get Michael O'Brien's book A Landscape with Dragons, our Math books/manipulatives and the Writing in Narrative A program (but this might be OOP).

Monday, August 15, 2005

Feast of the Assumption

I didn't notice it was such a big feast day until I got to mass this morning... how could i miss the assumption??

I need to set up a calendar soon and mark off all of these great feast days so we will remember to celebrate them, and integrate them into our homeschool.

Mary, pray for us!

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Getting Organized
Yesterday I bought a big zipped binder and some school supplies to get organized for starting to homeschool. Being the melancholic temperment that I am, I love to organize paper and schedules so this is fun for now :-)

Our first school supply shopping trip:
  • binder
  • dividers
  • loosleaf (wow it's still really cheap)
  • sparkly glue
  • new markers
  • composition books for elizabeth
  • thumb tacks to hang-up all of elizabeth's artwork
  • stickers
  • new pretty pencil elizabeth picked out
  • alphabet noodles for playing with

I'd still like to maybe get a little desk or table for her to work at so her legs don't fall asleep sitting up at the kitchen table.. but we'll see if I have room for more furniture here. I definately need more bookshelves to keep our growing library of books.

Now off to do more cleaning today. what a messy house! I have no idea how i'm going to keep it clean while i'm homeschooling in the fall and keeping up with my toddler and baby.

I had my dh rearrange all the furniture in the living room for me today, and he even moved the big piano. (good husband!!) Now there will be room for a little table for the kids to work at because they keep complaining their legs are falling asleep sitting up to the big kitchen table. Off to Ikea!!

Our happy family, with grandma and grandpa

Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Our Family Fall 2004 (i'm pregnant with heather here) Posted by Picasa
Getting Ready

We recieved Elizabeth's curriculum guide and program packet from st. thomas aquinas academy yesterday and we are excited to get started. This is what we are using this year:

The Beginners Bible (
The new St. Joseph's Baltimore Catechsim: 1st comunion catechism

Little Angel Readers (review at love2learn)
Big Thoughts for Little People (aquinas and more)

Handwriting without Tears Level 1 (

math-U-see primer (

Science, history, health:
Five in a Row (CHER)

Fine arts/music:
Art: Ed Emberley's drawing book of animals (
Music appreciation: Classical Kids
Begining Piano Lessons (haven't decided which book to use yet)
Homeschool Clay Classes (a local class at an arts centre here)

Phoenix Kinderkids :
This is a Kindergarten program in the city we are registered with and is designed for homschooling families. We will be going once a week for

Gym time, Explorers, Adventurers and Readers club.

Want to check out what we'll be learning there?

The Explorers and Adventurers classes are hands-on and involve fun learning activites that are themed according to the historical time period that they are currently studying. They start with the prehistoric world in september and move to modern times by june.

There will be extra art classes, field trips etc... The first field trip is at the end of september and will be to the Drumheller Dinosaur Museum.

mommy and first child Posted by Picasa
Where to Start with Homeschooling?

I thought for the first year of homeschooling we would register with a homeschool provider to keep me on track and accountable, as I have a hard time sticking with things when I

get tired or overwhelmed.

I chose St. Thomas Acquinas Academy and I'm excited about begining in September.

We are also registered with a local school board called Phoenix that has a great kindergarten program we will try to participate in as much as we can.

Some Curricula That I Would Like To Try Out

history curriculum:

home ec curriculum i want to try:

Mater Amabilis book list for their prep level:
The Orchard Book of Nursery Stories
or My First Oxford Book of Stories (Geraldine MacCaughrean)Kindergarten
Winnie the Pooh (A.A.Milne)
The Book of Virtues (William Bennet)
Beatrix Potter books
Picture Books
Alfie and Annie Rose,
Dogger and others by Shirley Hughes
Angus Lost (Marjorie Flack)
Blueberries for Sal (Robert McCloskey)
Brambly Hedge books (Jill Barklem)
Caps for Sale (Esphyr Slobodkina)
Corduroy (Don Freeman)
Dandelion (Don Freeman)
Goodnight Moon (Margaret Wise Brown)
Harry the Dirty Dog (Gene Zion)
Harry and the Lady Next Door (Gene Zion)
James Herriot Treasury (James Herriot)
Katy and the Big Snow (Virginia Lee Burton)
Little Bear (Else Minarik)
Little Grey Rabbit books (Alison Uttley)
Make Way for Ducklings (Robert McCloskey)
Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel (Virginia Lee Burton)
Millions of Cats (Wanda Gag)
One Morning in Maine (Robert McCloskey)
Petunia (Roger Duvoisin)
Stone Soup (Marcia Brown)
Swimmy (Leo Lionni)
The Little House (Virginia Lee Burton)
The Runaway Bunny (Margaret Wise Brown)
The Story of Ferdinand (Munro Leaf)
The Velveteen Rabbit (Margery Williams)
Thomas the Tank Engine books (Rev.W.Awtrey)
Wheel on the Chimney (Margaret Wise Brown)
Chapter Books
Happy Little Family (Rebecca Caudill) - pub. Bethlehem BooksHappy Times in Noisy Village (Astrid Lindgren) - pub. Bethlehem Books. Setin SwedenLittle Old Mrs Pepperpot (Alf Proysen)
Milly-Molly-Mandy Books (Joyce Lankaster Brisley)
My Father's Dragon (Ruth Stiles Gannett)
My Naughty Little Sister (Dorothy Edwards)
Paddington Bear (Michael Bond)
The Story of Holly and Ivy (Rumer Godden)