Homeschool Curriculum: First Grade In Review

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I sat down and counted up our school days the other day and realized we have less than 20 days left before we hit our required number of homeschool days.  That means I'm less than a month away from having my first true year of homeschooling under my belt! (I am not counting kindergarten.)

Last year before we started I shared all about my curricula picks for first grade.  So how did all that work out for me?  Here's the breakdown:

Math

What We Started With: Rightstart Math

What We Ended With: Rightstart Math

I have zero complaints about this curriculum!  Rightstart has an unusual method and order for teaching math, but I was really impressed it.  I love how it teaches underlying math concepts, instead of just rote memorization!  This curriculum was such a good fit for my teaching style and Wyatt's learning style! We love all the manipulatives, the way it reinforces concepts through games, and the focus on teaching kids to visualize numbers in their heads.  It is so much more enjoyable for Wyatt and myself than doing endless math problems and worksheets.  I am really happy with it, and will use it with all my kids as long as it fits their learning styles!

What We'll Use Next Year: Rightstart




Reading

What We Started With: 100 Easy Lessons and Rod And Staff

What We Ended With: All About Reading

As we were entering the school year last fall, I knew we were going to be finishing up 100 Easy Lessons before the year was out...so I knew I'd have to shift to something else.  We limped along with 100 Easy Lessons until I had Georgie, and to be honest, by the end we were kind of hating it.  I really love the first half of that book, which takes your child from knowing nothing to reading sentences.  However, by the time we got about 75% of the way through the book we were really bored and frustrated.  I was also a little irritated because that book took forever to introduce all the letters/sounds, and didn't go over all the rules I wanted to teach Wyatt.  It got him reading, but by the time Georgie was born we were fighting through the lessons and I was ready for something different.

We were loving our math curriculum so much because it had different activities and manipulative to go with each lesson, so I was wanting something more like that for reading.  I did a little research and decided to give All About Reading a try.  I've heard so many good things about it (and it was recommended by a great blog friend too!), so I ordered our level and got started.  Wyatt flew through that whole curriculum in a few months and we both stopped dreading reading so much!  It gave him so much confidence, so it was definitely the right call!

In the end, I don't regret starting with 100 Easy Lessons, because I still think that book has the best method for teaching blending that I have come across.  Blending is only covered in one lesson in All About Reading, and if your kid doesn't naturally get it, 100 Easy Lessons would be a great resource.  I think the reason we got through AAR so quickly was because we started with 100 Easy Lessons.  For my other kids, I will probably start them on 100 Easy Lessons and then switch halfway through the book instead of suffering through the last half.

What We'll Use Next Year: All About Reading





Writing/LA

What We Started With: First Language Lessons, 100 Bible Verses To Read And Write
What We Ended With: 100 Bible Verses To Read And Write

I took a more casual approach to writing and language arts this year, since the language arts priority was solidifying reading skills.  We did copy work (mostly with the 100 Bible Verses book) and wrote notes to family members for writing.  For language arts concepts, we had plans to use First Language Lessons - but if I'm honest, we hardly used it at all.  We talked about some LA concepts as we were doing All About Reading, and I'll review a few things over the summer with Wyatt before we start a more structured writing program this fall.

What We'll Use Next Year: TBD



Science


What We Ended With: Apologia Flying Creatures, BFSU, and random library books

I'm going to be honest and tell you that science kind of took a backseat with the whole having-a-baby thing this year.  I had so many grand plans to do all the experiments in our Apologia science book, the science activities in BFSU.  I was going to be a science-super-mom!

However, after Georgie was born I just was not organized enough to plan a bunch of experiments and do a really organized study - so we ended up going through a few random sections of Apologia and BFSU (according to whatever looked interesting), and grabbing coordinating books from the library.  We did a couple field trips, and a couple science experiments - all interest led though, not really what was in the books.   We kind of just went flying by the seat of our pants!  I'm actually quite happy with how this turned out.  Science at this level is mostly to get kids interested anyway, and I'm fine with that!  My plan is to do a few more science activities this summer to introduce different concepts that I really wanted to cover this year, and then start fresh in the fall.

What We'll Do Next Year: Stay Tuned, I'm figuring that out now.



History

What We Started With: Beautiful Feet Books

What We Ended With: Beautiful Feet Books

I love this curriculum!  For history I knew I wanted a literature-based approach to American History, so we chose the Early American History set from Beautiful Feet Books.  There are all kinds of suggested activities in the study guide, but we have really just read the books and done coordinating field trips this year.  We are stretching this curriculum out for two years instead of just one, so we are finishing up half the curriculum this year, and we'll finish it next year.  We haven't covered a huge range of historical events, but what we have covered I feel that we've covered well - my kids have retained a lot of what we've read this year.  It makes my heart happy every time they see a historical reference somewhere else and exclaim "It's just like in our book!"

What We'll Use Next Year: We are continuing with Beautiful Feet Books Early American History for sure, and may throw in another set (possibly the World History set from BFB or Story Of The World).

Bible

What We Started With: ?

What We Ended With: CBS

If you remember, I was a little unsure of what we would use for a Bible curriculum.  I had a really hard time finding something I was satisfied with, and I honestly just gave up searching as I approached my due date.  Then after Christmas we attended a visitor day at our local Community Bible Study, and I loved it! I did CBS growing up, and I forgot how thorough and deep the lesson books are.  This will basically be our Bible curriculum from here on out.  Once the kids reach grade school, they get their own lesson book that coordinates with the adult lesson books, which I love!  We work through the passage together and then attend our CBS meeting each week to discuss with others, so it's a social opportunity and Bible curriculum all in one!

What We'll Do Next Year:  CBS

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I'll do a more in-depth post soon about what we will be doing next year for 2nd grade and kindergarten!  But in the meantime, I've been searching for books to read for me over this summer.  I like to read a few homeschool-related books in the summer to keep my motivation up and give me ideas.  If I get a good list going I'll write another post, but I'm excited about this one:



My blog friend Elizabeth is also one of my favorite homeschool bloggers - she gives so much inspiration, ideas, and encouragement on her site.  Well, she wrote a new ebook called Lifestyle Homechooling, and it's launching today!  I'm really excited to pick this one up, because I'd say "lifestyle homeschooling" is a perfect term for what I'm going for in our homeschool.  This past year I have been loving how flexible homeschooling is, how I'm able to work it into our family life and fit it into the life stage we are in right now with a baby.  I'm looking forward to getting some ideas from Lifestyle Homeschooling - definitely check it out!

(Note: I am part of the launch team for Lifestyle Homeschooling, and will be receiving a free copy of the book in exchange.  Follow me on Goodreads to see my eventual review!)


When You Feel Unsettled



I'm sitting here typing this, and there is a tinge of smoke in the air.  Despite some beautiful flowers poking through the ground and dressing the trees, it has been such a dry spring.  It's hard to enjoy the summery weather when you know the sun is sucking more moisture out of the ground.  I'm praying for rain or a big, wet snow to prevent wildfires this summer.  We've already had one just this week.

It's not the most comforting feeling when we're leaving on vacation this month.

The last couple weeks have been just weird and unsettling.  I hurt my knee two Sundays ago.  Badly.  I was peddling the bike at the gym, and my knee started hurting when I got in the car.  The next morning I couldn't even straighten my leg without pain, much less put any weight on it.  

I had surgery on that same knee seven years ago, so this feeling was familiar.  I was convinced I tore my meniscus again somehow, and I was going to need surgery and be on crutches for six weeks.  I was a soggy mess the rest of the day, crying because I'd be on crutches for vacation, and I had so many end-of-year events that week, and I couldn't take care of the kids...crying just from the stress of it all.  I shared what happened with different friends as my mom drove me down to the doctor's office, who then ordered an MRI.  I was pretty convinced my May was ruined.

Then my knee felt surprisingly good the next day.  And even better the next, and the next, until the day of my MRI, I could almost step on it.  Results came in.  No tear.  I was walking without crutches the next day.  I just don't even see how that's possible with how my knee felt just a few days before.  Because it was bad.  It felt like something had torn, but this week I'd say it's pretty much healed.

I'm crediting all the prayers.  God definitely healed my knee way sooner than I expected, and it was a gift.  

So I'm hanging on to that thought, as I sit here and catch a whiff of smoke, wondering if there is another fire someplace.  Derek isn't home right now, and he has some hard work-related things to deal with that will affect our whole family.  Both of these things are stressing me out.  But then I remember my knee, and I say a prayer and take a deep breath.  Rotten things happen every day, and sometimes they work out, and sometimes they don't, but this week I remember that we have a God who cares about it all.  When we feel unsettled and anxious, we are supposed to come to Him.

"Cast all your care upon Him, for He cares for you."
1 Peter 5:7

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
Philipians 4:6

I know those verses are so much used that they can almost seem cliche, but they will never seem cliche to me.  How amazing is that, that we have a God who cares for us?  And the proof of that is Jesus.  When we trust in Him for our salvation, our eternity is secure in Him.  If He died to save us from our sin, our biggest, most insurmountable problem, then He can handle all these little problems too.  And even if it doesn't work out like we want, we have Him, and that is all we truly need.

So I'll cast my cares on Him, and go work on some packing.

Happy Friday, Friends!

Humming - Georgie At Six Months



Wow, that was one of the fastest half-years in my recent memory.  My sweet girl is halfway to one year old!

Growth And Eating

It seems like every time I take Georgie's monthly pictures, she looks so much different.  These days she's sporting leg rolls and a cute double chin - I'm pretty confident that she is back to her correct curve on the growth chart! She is in size 1 or 2 diapers, and her feet are finally big enough to stay in her tiny baby shoes. 

I haven't had a chance to write about it on my blog yet, but last week I seriously hurt my knee - to the point where I couldn't walk without crutches and had to get an MRI to rule out the need for surgery.  I also have a history of blood clots and my doctor recommended aspirin to prevent that - and so I decided to wean Georgie.  I felt like it was time, since I knew she was getting hardly anything from me anyway, but it didn't make it less sad.  I nursed her to sleep one night, and held her a little longer than necessary, admiring her little eyelashes, and cute lips, and chubby cheeks...and then I put her to bed and that was that.  I had one day of minimal discomfort and that was it.  I might have cried, but we have been hanging on by a thread with nursing for months, and this felt like the right time, before it got frustrating for both of us.  

Now, on to solid foods!



Sleeping

No change, this girl is an amazing sleeper.  We'll see how it goes on vacation this month though.

Firsts

No big firsts this month!  In the month ahead we'll have first time eating solids and first vacation though, so stay tuned!

Personality

I feel like Georgie has been talking more lately.  And by "talking", I mean she hums at me a lot, especially when she's eating or tired.  I've never had a baby who hums at me so much, it's something that is distinct to Georgie. Occasionally she'll babble. She laughs most at her brothers and sisters right now - it's a chore for me to get her laughing, and I'm not sure why.  Maybe her sense of humor is maturing (ha!).  It's so cute when the kids get her laughing though - she has the best belly laugh!  She smiles at everyone, and still has a nice deep dimple in her left cheek.  



My favorite thing this month is Georgie's eyebrows.  Georgie has the most expressive happy eyebrows.  She'll smile at you and wiggle her eyebrows, and it's just the cutest, funniest thing!

When she is hungry she grabs her lower lip with her little toothless gums and sucks on her lip, and stares at me with big brown eyes.  It's adorable.  She usually only cries as a last resort (or on the occasional cranky day).  She's just such an easygoing baby overall!



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Georgie Girl,

Darling, this month has been emotional for me.  I nursed you for the last time this month.  Suddenly you look like such an older baby.  You are growing out of all your tiny clothes.  I can't stop you from growing, but there will always be a part of me that is sad to see everything that comes with your tiny babyhood go.  

This month you ended up falling asleep on me a lot, and I love it so much.  You usually start talking loudly and rubbing your face against me, and that's how I know you're tired.  Then you get really still.  Then your eyes droop closed.  I love studying your face when you sleep.  Your eyelashes spread out so perfectly on your cheeks, your lips look so squishy, and I love the weight of your little breaths.  It's one of my favorite things.  We are on the way to one year old now, and who knows how long you will fall asleep on my lap.  I'm going to enjoy every minute of it.

I love you so much, Sweetie.  The next six months will see "real" food, mobility, and a first birthday party - lots of new baby sweetness behind us, but lots of older baby fun ahead!  Onward!

Love Always,

Mama

Combed Hair And Dirty Feet - Clyde At Four




My Sweet Clyde,

Goodness, it wasn't that long ago when I was writing letters to "my sweet baby Clyde", but you are hardly a baby anymore!  How did that happen?

This last week, you turned four years old.  At three years old I think you still fall into the "toddler" category, but over the last month or so I've been realizing that you've left that stage behind and are solidly in the preschool stage now.  Your drawings are becoming gradually more careful, you will often make comments that make me realize that you actually were listening to the book we were reading after all, and you reject all mentions of being my "baby".  I tell you that you will always be my baby boy - even when you are a grownup.  And you laugh, and your little eyes sparkle when I say that.

One of the cutest things about you right now is how you are developing your own sense of style.  You like your hair to be fixed with gel; you love to wear sunglasses so you can look "cool".  You even picked out some sunglasses for me for Christmas that look a lot like yours, because you wanted me to look "cool" too!  I bought you a comb at the grocery store a couple months ago, and you treated it like a prized possession (until it was lost a week or two later in the black hole of your sock drawer).



Despite acting so grown up when it comes to grooming and style, when I think of you at this age, I think of a little boy running around with his hair perfectly combed, chocolate on his mouth, and dirt on his pants.  You are all boy, and will spend hours outside with your siblings, sitting in the dirt, making mud pies, gathering pinecones, and riding your little red trike (that you are almost too big for).  You are so often on the go, but you will drop everything for a chance to cuddle with my on the couch.  I remember being pregnant with you and praying for a cuddly baby, and the Lord sure answered my prayer.  I still treasure our snuggle times, and I will for as long as I can fit you on my lap.

The other thing I always want to remember about you at four years old is your sweet little voice.  It was recently brought to my attention that tongue ties can run in the family, and one of the side effects of having a tongue tie can be a lisp.  I immediately thought of you.  I know I should get you checked, because I want you to be able to speak clearly as you grow...but I have to admit, there is a part of me that rejects the idea of doing anything that will change your sweet little voice.  You have the cutest hint of a lisp, and I love it so much.  I know this may change soon, may have to change soon, but right now, when I think of you, I think of your precious little boy voice telling me "Mom, you're the bethtetht mom ever!"  You tell me that almost every day, and I love hearing it from you so much.  If I could freeze time at any point, I might choose right now.  Then I could keep with me forever the little boy with the sticky fingers, dirty feet, sunglasses, combed hair, and adorable lisp.  

But instead, I get to watch you grow - though it's bittersweet, that's even better.  

I am thankful every day that God made you mine, Clyde.  I love you so much.  Happy 4th Birthday!

Love Always,

Mama


A Book On Prayer You Should Read

(Affiliate link below.)


Prayer is not something that comes naturally to me. I constantly struggle to fit in dedicated time for prayer, and then once I have it, I struggle to make my prayer time really meaningful. Any time I have a chance to read a book on prayer that I think will be actually helpful, I snag it.

The Prayer That Turns The World Upside Down by R. Albert Mohler Jr. is a book that focuses on the Lord's prayer, and specifically why this prayer was so radical in Jesus's time (and now as well!). Mohler takes each line of Jesus's prayer in Matthew, and explains it in detail, including the theological truths that Jesus was communicating through each line.   I honestly never thought about the actual theology communicated through the Lord's prayer, even though I've had it memorized since I was a child. 

I found this book not only fascinating, but also very practical when it comes to figuring out WHAT to pray. So often I get stuck in praying about things that feel trivial, and then not really knowing what else to say. The Lord's prayer is a wonderful basis for directing us to the things we truly should be praying for, and this book really inspires you to actually spend time praying about the things that Jesus told the disciples to pray.  After each chapter I found myself closing my eyes and taking a minute to apply what I was learning. 

This is a book that I'll refer back to again and again - I already have so many passages highlighted that I want to go back to now that I've read the whole thing! Highly, highly recommend if you find yourself stagnating in your prayer life.  I think it will inspire you to focus your prayers on things that will last, obeying Jesus's example and honoring God in the process.

Note: I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher in exchange for a review. This is my honest opinion.


Nothing Too Interesting

(I did not take this photo today.  Obviously.)

You know how I wrote that post about "spring" in the mountains last week?  Well, it's snowing.  That's about right.

You know how people ask you, "So, what have you been up to?"  And you respond with "Oh, nothing too interesting."  Well, that's this post.  Nothing too interesting, but life isn't always edge-of-your-seat, is it?  Life is made up of a whole lot of nothing-too-interesting, so I see no reason why I shouldn't still take time to write about it.

The last couple weeks have felt so busy to me, but not with anything very substantial.  No, I've been busy with things like creating a spreadsheet with all the groceries that are in my cupboards, making muffins for the kids for breakfast to save money on cereal, and cleaning my house.  All helpful, good domestic things.  All things that, dare I say, I have surprisingly found rather fun.  

Once again, not things that are very interesting to write about, but that won't stop me from trying! Because guys, if you have never created a grocery-cupboard-spreadsheet, I feel like you should give it a try.  This was a particularly hard month when it comes to grocery money, so the spreadsheet was born from my desire to see how long I could make it without going to the grocery store.  I had no idea how much was hiding in the dark recesses of my freezer!  I've barely gone to the store at all this month - I've spent probably around $200 on groceries for April.  For seven people.  

I laid all the items in my cupboards out on a spreadsheet and then put together meals with what I had, and it's been amazing.  I saved so much money!

And we've actually been eating pretty well, if I do say so myself (thanks in large part to this cookbook).  We've had braised meatballs in wine gravy, spicy chops with sweet potatoes, skillet steak with peppers and cheese, barbecue roast, raspberry hazelnut chicken with potatoes (not as labor-intensive as it sounds, I made it with salad dressing).  And for breakfast we've been having these (amazing) nut muffins, banana muffins, cranberry muffins, pumpkin pancakes, and hard-boiled eggs (instead of the cold cereal we usually have).  

My grandma told me once that when you have less food to work with, it's easier to get creative and you almost end up eating better than when you have an abundance.  I must say, she was right.

I also realized about halfway through the month that I had read hardly any books, so last week I buckled down and finished FIVE books.  Pretty good, right?  And I'm halfway through three more that I'm hoping to finish before May!  

I've been having a lot of fun making videos with my recently read books this year, and watching other bookish videos on Youtube.  My friend Felicia has been on "booktube" for years, and I love watching her videos.  It's quicker and easier to talk about the books you've been reading, rather than sitting down and compiling a post with mini-reviews (at least it's easier to me, I don't know why).  So if you want to keep updated on books I'm reading, you need to stop by my channel.  Or you can also follow me on Goodreads, because I'm still writing reviews on all my books there (how is that easier than writing review posts on my blog, you ask?  I don't know, it just is!).

Speaking of May, we booked our vacation!  We are flying out to North Carolina this year to visit Derek's family!  The last time we went to North Carolina I was largely pregnant with Gwen, so it's been quite a long time.  We have four more babies on the outside than we did then.  I'm not going to lie, I'm a little nervous about flying with five young children.  The airline assured me (multiple times, because I asked the same question, worded slightly differently, repeatedly) that we would be sitting with our children on the plane.  "Are you sure?" I said.  "Because there are four of them, and one in my lap." But they assured me this would be the case without any extra seating fees.

Now I have the monstrous task of digging all the kids' summer clothes out of the closets, and sorting through them to see what will be acceptable North Carolina attire in May.  Southeast people, what's it like out there in May?  Because the last time I went on a May vacation somewhere that I thought it would be warm (ie. ARIZONA), it snowed.

The spring snow, I tell you.  It follows me even out of state.

What I Read In March | 2018



Now that we're halfway through April - let's talk about what I read in March!  If you follow me on Goodreads, you have probably already seen a bunch of these.  Prepare yourself for one very unpopular opinion.






Books I Mentioned:

A Wrinkle In Time by Madeline L'Engle
Chronicles Of Narnia by C. S. Lewis
A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith
My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier
When Is It Right To Die? by Joni Eareckson Tada
Wishtree by Katherine Applegate
What Came From The Stars by Gary D. Schmidt
The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt
The Lord Of The Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
Okay For Now by Gary D. Schmidt
Bachelor Nation by Amy Kaufman
Answers For Homeschooling by Israel Wayne
The Reformation by Stephen J. Nichols
Anne Of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery
Emily Of New Moon by L. M. Montgomery
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

What are you reading these days?


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