August 31, 2015

From Books to the Silver Screen {Poppins Book Nook}

I am an avid book reader and I have a LOT of favorite books. I am always wary, yet excited when I see my favorite books come to the silver screen. My curiousity always gets the best of me, as I wonder how my favorites will fare. Sometimes I am happy and adore the movie, and sometimes I just shake my fist at the screen! This month our Poppins Book Nook theme addresses this very theme as we explore Books that Have Been Turned Into Movies. Join me as I share some of my favorite children's books that were successfully turned into movies!
Poppins Book Nook: Favorite Books that Are Favorite Movies

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Now I could tell you that Anne of Green Gables and several Jane Austen books rank right up there as the best adaptations of books into movies...but that's common knowledge. LOL. So let's take a peak at some classic children's books which I think are also cherished movies!

by Walter Farley
This is a simply fabulous classic book which is perfect for any boy or girl. It's adventure and excitement involving a shipwreck, a deserted island, and the love between a boy and a wild horse. Geared at the 4th-5th grade readers it is perfect for an accelerated reader, or a family read-aloud.

And after you read it, make sure you watch it! The 1979 version with Mickey Rooney can't be beat and will bring you great joy seeing your book come to life!

There are other Black Stallion books which you will enjoy checking out once you are done with this first one!

by Katherine Paterson

Have you experienced the land of Terabithia yet with your children? You will enjoy introducing them to Jess and Leslie as they form their unlikely friendship and create a great land of Terabithia. It's a Newberry Award winner for a reason and it's captured children's imagination for years! Noted as being for 4th-7th grade level readers, it's a joy for your older children to experience on their own, or use it as a read-aloud for the whole family!

And once you are done, let their imagination come to life as they experience the Bridge to Terabithia movie! I was very happy with the way the movie was done as it capture all the beauty of the book! It is a sweet movie, even if the ending is sad. 

by Kate DiCamillo

"Being the tale of a mouse, a princess, some soup and a spool of thread..." With that kind of subtitle, why wouldn't you want to investigate this clever tale?! The author of Because of Winn-Dixie does it again in this delightfully intriguing tale about a mouse who is in love with music, stories and a princess named Pea. With a grade level of 2nd - 5th, you can introduce your middle elementary students to a charming tale about unlikely heroes!

I was curious to see how the 2008 movie would translate the book (especially the ending) and though it wasn't a TRUE match (what movie is?) it was a delightful film and the boys enjoyed it! We are actually getting ready to read this book as part of our literature studies, so I will be curious to see how they enjoy the book as they have only experienced the movie thus far.

by Anna Sewell

Black Beauty is more than a story about a horse...but a shifting panorama of life in 19th century England with it's cobbled streets, gentry in their phaetons, horse fairs, harried cabdrivers and election day on London Bridge. The book is written in first person, so the author seem like it's the horse writing it's own life story. You too will be carried away to the 19th century as you experience life as you've never seen it before...through the eyes of a horse. We used this as our first chapter book read-aloud 3 years ago and oh how the boys adored it, even though they were just 6 and 2 years old. "Read more about the horse, mommy!" was the refrain each night. Oh how sad we were when we finished the last page.

Though I grew up watching an excellent animated version, I thoroughly enjoyed the "real life" release of this classic story to film in 1999. Staying true to the book, the movie's narrator is even Black Beauty! It was beautiful to watch this "well-bred and well-born" horse come to life!

by Johann Rudolf Wyss

There isn't much better of a family adventure story than The Swiss Family Robinson! Written from the viewpoint of the father, it's a story about hope, faith, and family! From the ship-wreck to learning how to survive on a desert island, to building the grand tree-house...your family will enjoy the adventure! We will be having this on our literature list this year...I think I even have a lapbook to go with it. I think the boys will enjoy it, especially since they've already watched the movie.

Oh my. What is NOT to love about Disney's movie version of this delightful book? I know it strays pretty strong in some parts of the book, but I forgave it because it's just so much fun!! I love that this is a mom of precocious boys and that littlest of hers...oh how I itched to grab him by his ear and give him what for! LOL! And that treehouse. Sigh. How many of us longed to have one just like it to sleep in? The boys and Love-Of-My-Life said it was one of the things we HAD to go to when we were at Disneyworld last year and we enjoyed it immensely! 

by Roald Dahl
Illustrated by Quentin Blake

I'm sure I am not the only one with this quirky book on my list. Interestingly enough, most people are only familiar with the movies, and not the book itself. I hadn't read it until this past year when it was part of our 3rd grade literature. We all loved it and Little Britches always asked for "one more chapter!" Meet Willy Wonka and the inside of his chocolate factory through the witty dialogue and clever illustrations. It's this version that I've linked above that really is the best because of the delightful pen and ink illustrations. 

As for movies, we have the Gene Wilder version from 1971 and the Johnny Depp one from 2005. I think they BOTH deserve a watch because each captures something different from the book. In relation to which one is closest to the book...actually the Johnny Depp version is. But don't pick--just share them both! My boys were enthralled with the 2005 version that we watched after completing the book. At some point I will try to get my hands on the 1971 version to let them compare.

There are so many other books I could add...The City of Ember, The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, Gone with the Wind, A Bear Called Paddington. All of these had wonderful movie versions to bring them to life!

Books That Were Turned Into Movies Bundle Giveaway! 

Hollywood glitz and glamour means nothing without a good story. Some of the places that these block buster movies come from is straight from the pages of our favorite books. This month one lucky entrant will win the Books That Were Turned Into Movies Bundle Giveaway. The winner will receive one copy of each of these storybooks that were turned into movies: The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Charlotte's Web, and The Gruffalo. So pop some popcorn, jump in your comfy chair, and get ready to enjoy books that were turned into movies this month with the Poppins Book Nook!

Entrants must be 18 years or older and reside in a country that receives U.S. Postal mail. This giveaway is brought to you by the company Enchanted Homeschooling Mom who is owner and founder of the Poppins Book Nook. By entering this giveaway you are also acknowledging that you have read and agree to all of the PromoSimple terms & conditions as well as Enchanted Homeschooling Mom's disclosures found here {}.  
Just enter the PromoSimple below to win:

Please make sure you check out what the other Poppins Book Nook bloggers shared this month!

Have you blogged about books that were turned into movies? Please share them with us here!

There are few books that I've read that I would love to see turned into movies...The Uglies series, The Inn at Ocean's Edge, any book by Jen Turano, well my list could go on and on...

What about you? What books would you like to see as movies?
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August 28, 2015

Random 5 for Friday~ 8/28/2015

Well here we are in the last Friday for the month of did that happen? These years just fly by in a blink anymore. I must say though, I'm looking forward to September! It's one of my favorite months here in Kentucky because it's simply beautiful!
The Pebble Pond

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Please see my disclosure policy for full details and thank you for your support!

1. I've been working on lesson planning so much my eyes are about crossed! We plan on starting back to our FULL schedule(ish) this coming Tuesday (the 1st) so I've been finalizing the plans for BOTH boys. I've been looking at a lot of different planners and I've been hoping to find *just* the one I was looking for. I downloaded two of the free HUGE planners available from my membership with but I didn't like them exactly. But I can take pieces of what I want and use it. I found my best luck using the and her FREE planning forms.  
This is a great deal!! Make sure you check it out for access to HUNDREDS of different curriculum and lesson plans!
2. I can't believe I have a Kindergartner again. Seriously. It seems like just yesterday I was gearing up to start our homeschool adventure with Kindergarten for Little Britches...and here we are 5 years later doing it all over again! I am working on sharing what Baby Britches curriculum is going to look like this year. It's much different than the kindergarten of Little Britches!
MFW-K Unit Study Week 1 All planned out!
3. Fourth grader. How do I have a fourth grader? Seriously. I remember when I was in 4th grade so it just doesn't seem possible that Little Britches is this old already! We are looking to have a great year with even MORE goodies to explore! I have his curriculum post in the works too...the main reason it's not been shared yet, is that I didn't finalize it until today. LOL!

4. We had a random week of delightful autumn weather! Oh how much I have loved having the cool weather without any humidity! Some mornings were a delightful 55 degrees and we wouldn't even get past 75! I admit I got used to it...and sadly it will go away as tomorrow we are getting back in into the upper 80's starting tomorrow and for all next week as September begins. Hopefully it will go away again and true autumn can return!

5. Have you noticed everyone (as in all the restaurants and such) are advertising pumpkin this and pumpkin that? Forget pumpkin. I am all about the apple cider. I adore the apple cider donuts that roll into Tim Hortons. Yum!

Well I hope you have a delightful weekend and final few days of August! I have Poppins Book Nook for Monday, and hopefully my curriculum posts as well. I'll also be sharing what my upcoming reviews are for the month of September, so make sure you stay tuned!
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August 21, 2015

A+ Interactive Math GIVEAWAY! {ends 8/26/2015}

Earlier this year, we had the blessing of being able to review A+ Interactive Math's Adaptive Placement Test w/Individualized Lesson Plan. It was an excellent program and really helped me see where Little Britches was with his math knowledge. The individualized lesson plans helped bring him up to par in the areas he needed help with. As you can read in my review, I highly recommended the program to anyone needing to "test" their child's math skills.
A+ Interactive Math Giveaway

The links on this blog and in the posts may be affiliate links
Please see my disclosure policy for full details and thank you for your support!

I am excited to announce that you have a chance to WIN this great program! A+ Interactive Math is offering their 3 month subscription to the Adaptive Placement Test w/Individualized Lesson Plan to one of my randomly chosen readers! The winner will be able to choose the number of students he/she needs it for...up to 10 students--making it up to a $119.99 value!

This giveaway will run from August 21 (Midnight) until August 26 (11:59pm). 

It's easy to get entered...simply add your email below! You have the option to get extra entries, but they are not required!

By entering the giveaway, you understand and agree that your contact information will be shared with the sponsor.

I look forward to seeing who will win access to this great program---maybe it will be you!
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August 18, 2015

Horizons Kindergarten Health {Curriculum Review}

One of the areas that I am not teaching with curriculum right now is health. I want our introduction to health to be a gentle God centered approach--something a lot of programs do not have. I have been seeking out some ideas for this subject and I was happy to have a chance to review Horizons Kindergarten Health Set by Alpha Omega Publications.
Horizons Kindergarten Health Set: Product Review

Product Information

Alpha Omega Publications is a popular award-winning company, offering a full line of products including online, digital, student-paced, teacher-led and unit studies for Christian curriculum. A few of their more well known curriculum include: Monarch, Switched on Schoolhouse, LIFEPAC, Horizons, and Weaver. 

Our review team was given the opportunity to review several of the Horizons products including the following:

*Horizons Preschool for Three's Curriculum Set
*Horizons Preschool Curriculum Set
*Horizons Math Sets for Kindergarten, 1st Grade and 2nd Grade
*Horizons Phonics & Reading Sets for Kindergarten, 1st grade, and 2nd Grade
*Horizons Health Sets for Kindergarten, 1st grade, and 2nd Grade
*Horizons Spelling & Vocabulary Sets for 1st grade and 2nd Grade
*Horizons Penmanship Sets for 1st Grade and 2nd Grade
*Horizons K-2nd Grade Physical Education

Because our family isn't using a health program yet, I opted to choose the Horizons Kindergarten Health Set with Baby Britches (age 5).

Included in this set:
Soft-Cover Teachers Guide
Consumable Student Workbook

The teachers guide contains 48 lessons and is recommend to be taught 2 or 3 days a week. This provides roughly 16-24 weeks of lessons depending on how fast you go through the program. The program includes information on body care, family, friendship, safety and more.

The program is geared for the Kindergarten grade level and retails for $23.00 USD.

How Did We Use It?

When the program arrived, the first thing I did was flip through the teacher manual to get an idea of what to expect. Everything was very clearly documented and laid out. One thing that really jumped out was that the program was geared towards a classroom setting, so I had a feeling I might have to make some adjustments to the activities.
Regular classroom activities in the lessons
I really felt the scope and sequence pages were very useful to see what was going to be covered in every unit.
This lays out the scope and sequence for K-8th grade Health program!
Every unit also had a few pages where it talked about the goals for each unit, the background for each unit, the new vocabulary for each unit, unit resources and lesson resources. I thought these were very helpful for planning to use each lesson.

The lessons themselves provided a section noting any preparation/materials needed, the objectives to be completed in each lesson and some bakground relating to the subject matter. The lessons follow a basic pattern:

* Introduce the Topic
This is done with just a generic discussion to get the children involved with answering. So it's usually a fun or easy discussion. A new vocabulary word might be introduced/used. Next, the discussion starts to gear towards the actual lesson and might incorporate a scripture, poem, story or song.

*Circle Time/Circle Activity
This is where you find more of the classroom lesson notes, as it has the teacher use a circle time to get the children to interact with on another relating to the lesson.

*Student Activity
This is usually either a page from the workbook or an arts/crafts. It includes a discussion relation to what they are working on.

A summary of what the days lesson taught including any reviewing of new vocabulary, songs, poems.

*Related Activities
Every lesson has a list of related activities to match the lesson. These might be more crafts, more worksheets, more discussions, literature, or even field trips relating to what was learned.

Not every lesson has the circle time/circle activity and/or student activity, but there is always a closure and related activities that can be done.

There are 7 units included in this book:

*Unit 1: Knowing About Me and My Body

*Unit 2: Living in a Family

*Unit 3: Getting Along with Others

*Unit 4: Knowing My Body

*Unit 5: Taking Care of My Body

*Unit 6: Being Safe

*Unit 7: Preventing Health Problems

The units do not have to be completed in order which makes it very nice if you want to gear your child towards a certain thing. There are 4-10 lessons in each unit for a total of 48 lessons.

I decided to work through from the beginning. I knew that since we were on summer break, we would not be following a regular routine, so my goal was to use this program at least two times a week. Baby Britches enjoyed having school just for him and cheerfully began with me.

I will share some photos from unit 1: Knowing About Me and My Body.

We learned a new song about being unique...
Sheet Music was provided, so we learned it at the piano
We learned about fingerprints and drew a self portrait...

Self portrait...with lots of "freckles"
We met our new sock puppets Sal and Hal who introduced us to feelings...
Simple addition of buttons got these odd matched socks new life
Learning about our major feelings...
Masks made for the four main emotions: happy, sad, angry, scared
Working in the student workbook...

Reading some books about feelings...
Talk about sob fest...I cried...and then realized that there is a stalker factor in this book. Bwahahah
We continued into the next unit once our unit #1 was done. Because we stuck to about a 2 day a week plan, AND because we reviewed a lot. We completed 1 1/2 units (11 lessons).

What Are Our Thoughts?

Baby Britches really enjoyed it. He liked learning about the feelings and making the feelings masks most of all. One of the activities included talking about scenarios and holding up the feeling mask that you would feel if it happened to you. He really liked this. He also liked holding up masks to match facial expressions in the stories we read.

I think this program worked well for us. There WAS a lot of classroom related activities, but they were simple to either adjust for us, or skip all together. The related activities at the end of each lesson contained plenty of suggestions that could be used for homeschool, which allowed me to swap in new things. I appreciated having the lessons so well laid out in advance with the preparation and materials noted as well as the objectives. This gave me a great goal for comprehension.

While some people might not like it, I actually enjoyed adding in the sock puppets. Our family has imaginary "friends" named Mr. And Mrs. Hand that I do every morning with the boys, so adding their "neighbors" Hal and Sal was simple. The lesson gave me a guideline about the dialogue for the puppets and I was able to fill in the blanks to go with the lesson.

I really like the way that God is worked into the lessons. It is very subtle and not overwhelming, but every lesson directs the student to God and how He created us and loves us. I appreciated this since we are a Christian family. I appreciated the addition of the songs with sheet music and scriptures as well.

I loved the short lessons. LOL. Seriously though, the lessons were short and sweet, which is ideal for this age.

It was really nice that you could start with any unit, and/or do them in any order. I found this was great if I really wanted to touch on something relevant to anything else we've studied.

I think it was nice that the workbook provides extra things, but there isn't always a student activity from the workbook with every lesson. The first page doesn't even get used until Lesson 7.

Okay, any cons?
*Sometimes the lessons were almost TOO short. But this usually happened for us when the circle time activity wouldn't work for us.

*There was a lot of referencing to posters or resources of what children or families around the world looked like. It would be nice if there was a basic poster included for this. It was extra work to have to find what I wanted on my computer to use and I had to do it every time it was incorporated. Having a pull out page or poster would be a great asset.

*This is kind of random, but since it is a health book, I was a bit surprised that the girl riding the bike on the cover isn't wearing a helmet. It jumped out at me as soon as I saw it.

So, will we be using this curriculum in the future?
Yes! I think it fits our style very nicely and Baby Britches enjoys it. I plan on working it into our Kindergarten curriculum this year and we will pick it up where we left off when we start school back in September.

Would We Recommend This Curriculum?

Yes, actually I would. I think it would be IDEAL for a kindergarten co-op situation where you wanted to teach health since it is written for a classroom setting. But I believe that it is full enough to work for just a homeschool setting. There isn't too much book work and it is presented very much at a level for Kindergarten. I actually think that though you can purchase the 1st grade set, you could adapt this one for the next grade up--and it would even work for older preschoolers. It is a very gentle approach to health and body awareness which is perfect for what I would desire in a health curriculum at this age. I also appreciate that it is very reasonable at just $23 for the curriculum materials.

I am actually considering purchasing the 4th grade health curriculum for us to use this year for Little Britches as well, which tells you what I think about the program.

Want to Know More?

We reviewed Horizons Kindergarten Health Set by Alpha Omega Publications. You have seen what our thoughts were for this product, but what did others think? Did you know we also had people reviewing products for preschool, math, phonics and reading? Make sure you check out what others on my team thought!
Alpha Omega Review
Here are other ways you can stay up with what's going on at Alpha Omega Publications!

I am so glad that this program worked for us. I am currently evaluating whether or not I want to invest in the 4th grade version of the same program to use with Little Britches, but I am definitely going to be adding in this Kindergarten version into our school year.
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August 14, 2015

Back to Homeschool Blog Hop~ Day 5: What Is the Scariest Part of Homeschooling?

Here we are on the final day of the Back to Homeschool Blog Hop 2015! On this day, I want to share something that some people don't know. Homeschooling moms are scared. Yep, you read that right! We are scared about certain aspects of homeschooling. Some things keep us up at night as we worry about them. Homeschool moms need a lot of courage to be able to tackle the fears that threaten to overwhelm them at times. So what are these things we fear? I asked a group of homeschooling moms this question, and I think you will find their answers enlightening and yes, encouraging--because I think you might recognize some of your own fears in theirs!
What Is the Scariest Part of Homeschooling? 10+ Moms Share their Fears

What are my biggest fears relating to homeschooling?

I'm a scaredy cat when it comes to the thought of teaching ninth grade. Why? Well because that's the beginning of high school! It's scary enough for a public school mom--but for a homeschool mom? Why, you are moving into a whole new level of homeschooling...and I can summarize it in one word--TRANSCRIPTS! I fear the year I have to start keeping transcripts! And all those high school classes! Oy! I fear it so much, a part of me is tempted to just enroll him into an online school for those four years! Who knows though...I just might do that!

I don't think there is much I fear outside of that relating to things I myself have to do! Math doesn't scare me anymore. A good curriculum takes care of that. Science doesn't scare me for the same reasons. But high school. Yep, high school will make me shiver in my shoes!

Another thing that is related to homeschooling, is that homeschooling will bring so much work, that I will battle to keep control of my housekeeping. I fear that once we start full time with both boys, that my house will just slip away and I'll drown in the effort to keep it under control. It's a real fear for me and something I'm working on dealing with now.

On a more immediate note, I worry that my son will be made to feel bad, because he's not confident with some areas of math like multiplication and division. Someone who might put him on the spot for some reason. Or just make fun of him because he's homeschooled.

What do other mom's fear relating to homeschool? 

Let's see what some of my friends have to say!

*Alicia: "My biggest fear is failing him, not preparing him for his future academically. So yes transcripts, graduation, college, trade school all of that."

*Diana of Busy Homeschool Days: "I fear of failing him. Am I focusing too much on academics and missing the heart? Or too much heart and missing a vital piece of academics? Have I created a huge gap in his education that will be difficult to overcome when he enters adulthood?"

*Kate: "I'm scared I'm not teaching my child her way so she will learn. We started with writing she is 3.... but that is where her heart lies with drawing and I just learned it's typically learned with lower cases first because of reading. So I feel like I started wrong by doing the bigger letters first. But this is helping her visually see the letter and recognize it. She is learning. So I guess it's not wrong. 
My second is because anything can be considered homeschooling, I fear without a curriculum for pre-k I'll fail or be lost."

*Jennifer: "I worry that I am not teaching my whole children to become whole adults."

*Stephanie: "In high school and college I kept having this nightmare that I was set to graduate and the administration office called me the night before I was to walk across the stage and said that I was one credit short. I think that's my biggest fear--missing something pivotal that will keep them from meeting their goals. I have come to realize, however, that God fills in the gaps and by the time they're in high school, they share some of the responsibility. Teaching that responsibility is where I'm focusing right now."

*Andrea: "Paper work! Just meeting standards, and balancing fun."

*Stacey: "Honestly, my greatest fear has nothing to do with my kids. I find it very difficult to maintain balance in my own life because so much of my time and energy is wrapped up in parenting and homeschooling. One thing I've learned about myself is that I need to have an identity outside of the role of mother to stay healthy, and it is far more challenging when we are homeschooling. I often worry about the imbalance in my life."

*Rebecca of Raventhreads: "My eight year old is a struggling reader, and I worry that sometime her grandparents or her friends at church will make her feel bad about it."

*Lori of At Home: where life happens: "I am afraid of two very specific things, other than the academic side of it.
1 - Acquaintances, not friends, will take things I say out of context and/or as an assault on our local schools.
2 - The girls will be bullied at church by public schooled students. There is one specific child. So far, Elizabeth has just batted everything right back at the young man with a smile and information that makes him stop and say "what!?!" Last night, she mentioned that she gets to sleep until she wakes up and the rest of the class started grumbling about having to wake up at 5:30 or 6. She also talked about getting take a lot of field trips and breaks during the year and they couldn't believe it."

*Kym of Homeschool Coffee Break: "I worry about figuring out college entrance and scholarships. I have basically NO CLUE how to help my kids hunt down all the scholarships they might be eligible for, and have ZERO experience with SATs or ACTs. (This is even after reviewing a college prep resource a couple years ago.) I am sure that we are missing out because we don't have access to the Guidance Counselors at the public school whose job it is to steer kids through the college application/entrance stuff."

Wow! See? We have fears and worries just like anyone else--because we DO realize the great responsibility that we have taken on as caretakers to our children's future. But we will walk boldly forward with courage, asking God to guide our decisions and lead us every step of the way!

Well that's it! That's the last post for this week's blog series! I hope that you have enjoyed it and have found something helpful in what I've shared. If you missed any of this week's series you can find a complete list and links of my posts on the anchor post for the series. Now I encourage you to visit some of the other homeschool bloggers participating this week! You can find the full list on my anchor post...or you can try some of these lovely ladies:
Crystal @ Crystal Starr
Shawna @ Tenacity Divine
Jacquelin @ A Stable Beginning 
Leah Courtney @ As We Walk Along the Road
What are some of your greatest fears relating to the homeschooling experience? Do you relate to any that the ladies here have shared? That I shared?
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August 13, 2015

Back to Homeschool Blog Hop: Day 4~ Four Important Lessons I've Learned from Four Years of Homeschooling

Crazy enough, we are going to be starting our FIFTH year of homeschooling this fall. FIVE! I can't believe we are already five years into this crazy adventure! It seems like just yesterday I was excitedly buying our first ever homeschool curriculum. Finding that "perfect" match. Getting the box in the mail and gleefully looking through all that pristine material. Just ready to go. Flash Forward to 2015 with my Organized Chaos I call Picking My Curriculum and it's easy to see how far I've come! So the real question is...what have I learned? I have picked four things I have learned about homeschooling--one for each year we have under our belt. These four things have shaped the direction I go with homeschooling today--and I'm sure in the future!
4 Important Lessons I've Learned From 4 Years of Homeschooling

Over the last four years, I have learned a lot. I could probably write a hundred day series on things I've learned. But I want to really narrow it down to the one greatest lesson I learned with each year of our homeschooling. Lessons that I took into the next year, and carry with me now as we head into our fifth year of teaching. I think they are vital to my OUR success as a homeschooling family and I hope that you will benefit from them as well.

1. Kindergarten: Foster a Love of Learning

Oh my. How we enjoyed our Kindergarten year. I really did "score" with our curriculum when I decided to go with the My Father's World: God's Creation from A to Z. We fell in love with unit studies and being able to explore a subject over the course of a week. We enjoyed the books, the arts n crafts, the simple science experiments, and all that we created. 

I learned the value of "rabbit trails" as we put everything aside to learn more about something that had caught Little Britches attention. Learning was FUN. It was exciting. It was rewarding. We enjoyed working on our projects because there were no limits to what we could do. We even worked in a few Five in a Row units as they matched what we were doing. It was all about exploration and just showing how school lets you learn about anything you want to learn about, as much as you want to learn about.
Important Lesson #1
Lesson #1

The year was all about learning to love...learning! And I think we succeeded and it set a great foundation for our homeschool adventure.

2. First Grade: Learning Style is Not One-Size Fits All

First Grade had its challenges as the curriculum shifted to be more "grown up". It had more reading, and yes more writing. I was eager to "stuff" as much into first grade as I could--to get Little Britches soaring ahead in all areas. That didn't work as well as I had planned. I discovered that reading didn't come "naturally" to Little Britches and he only wanted to do as little as possible. Book work--well book work was like a bad word. 

I discovered in this year that his learning style was NOT all about reading and writing like my own style was. No, his learning style was hands-on and "audial" minded. So I had to change my perspective. I could not teach him the way I would teach myself. This was mind blowing to me and changed everything I did from here on out. I had to let some of my "expectations" for First Grade go because, well, they were unrealistic. They were set for someone like me. Who learned like someone like me. And I had given birth to someone who DIDN'T learn like me.
Important Lesson #2
Lesson #2
The year was all about learning about LEARNING. The lessons that I took from this year shaped the way our next years were set up. It changed everything from how I "structured" our day, to what curriculum we chose, to how much of it we do. Figuring out his learning style was my lesson for the year.

3. Second Grade: Sometimes You Just Have to Let It Go

Second Grade arrived and once again I had a great curriculum planned. I was SURE I had learned my lessons from the previous year and we were going to take new strides in our learning. It was going to be the year that we really conquered challenges and blazed through our lessons. We were older. We had two years already under our belts. We could do this. Annnnnnnddddd, I discovered that didn't work out so well. 

It seems I actually DIDN'T remember what I had learned from the previous years, and in that moment, a new lesson had to be learned...that sometimes, you just have to let things go. This was true of our math and science. We also discovered we had outgrown the "box". We were still using a boxed curriculum as our core--My Father's World~Adventures in US History, but we were struggling to keep up with it. You see this year I began my adventure as a reviewer with The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew, and we were getting all sorts of things to work into our school year and this was actually working well for us. But I was trying to cram it all in to my "concrete" schedule of what HAD to be done. School was becomming dreaded. Attitudes were flaring. We just could NOT do it all. So I learned the power of letting things go. 
Important Lesson #3
Lesson #3
I actually DIDN'T finish the curriculum that year. It was so hard for me to stop, but I knew it was for the best. I was forgetting the two previous lessons I had learned--that I needed to foster a love of learning and that learning styles are NOT one-size-fits-all. We were getting off track again. 

So the lesson for that year was that it is OKAY if you have to walk away from curriculum. Even if you LOVED it. Even if you spent a lot of money on it. Sometimes, you just have to let it go for the sake of maintaining that love of learning and moving forward.

4. Third Grade/Preschool: Don't Measure Success by Comparing Your Child to Another

Third Grade. What a year that was. Our first year where we pieced our curriculum together instead of using an All-In-One. What a challenge that was to put together, but how liberating it felt to do! We let go of some things that we did the previous year, and embraced some new ideas and a new routine. We now had a preschooler to throw into the mix, as Baby Britches was eager to join in. 

We discovered that Little Britches FINALLY got that love of reading and excelled with flying colors. He ate up books and discovered he loved junior biographies. His love of history boomed. His love of science exploded. He diagrammed sentences with ease. But we struggled in math and writing. We had to make changes. So we did. I found a new writing curriculum (I actually let go what I had planned! Woot!) and he started doing well to the end of the year. He is hoping to continue with it for the new year (and we will). 

But math. Math is our struggle. Or rather it's MY struggle. Because I kept comparing his math skills to that of other kids his age. Oh how hard it was to hear about public school kids who were kindergartners, learning how to do algebra. And first graders knocking out complicated multiplication problems. Little Britches hates multiplication. He hates division. So I compared him and found him lacking. Then I remembered (AGAIN!)--learning is not a one-size-fits-all thing. Yes, he struggled in some aspects of math--but you know he rocked through others (whiz at graphing, measurement, story problems, geometry, decimals). And yes he might struggle with math more than some, but he has a brain for history like you wouldn't believe. And his grasp of science--fabulous.

I had to learn to stop measuring his success by comparing him to other children. No, his success was to be measured by what he HIMSELF had achieved. What he WAS achieving at that moment. HIS accomplishments. HIS growth. THAT'S the success that mattered. 

One of the reasons we chose to homeschool, was to remove the standardized testing from his school years. So he didn't have to be compared to everyone else and found lesser (or yes, even better). And I had forgotten this in my effort for validation of my OWN success as a homeschool teacher. 

Important Lesson #4
Lesson #4
His success as a student, is not based on what someone else has achieved. He was succeeding in what we were giving him and attempting great things. He worked hard and was a great student. And I had forgotten that in my effort to make sure he's "up to speed" with what society says he should be able to be doing. Comparing him to other public school children, other private school children, other homeschooled children. 

This applies to myself as well. My success as a homeschool teacher, shouldn't be determined by whether or not my children are up to par with public school children of the same age. That's not the criteria our family chooses to have. I must also stop comparing myself to what other homeschool moms are doing and how their children are achieving. And I forget that. ALL. THE. TIME.

I hope that YOU will not compare yourself to me and what I do.
      Unless you are going to tell me that you totally understand the comparing thing and do it too. 
             Then it's okay to compare yourself to me. LOL

As we enter our fifth year, I wonder what lesson I will learn. I know it will be something important--the last four years have shown me that. I am actually in the process of creating myself a little printable to put in my teacher binder that have these four lessons on it. I need to see it every day. To remind myself that if I can remember these four simple things this year--we will probably have the best year yet!

Well that's day 4! I hope you will continue check in tomorrow for the final post in this series--it's going to be another one of my collaborative posts--I think you will enjoy it! Now I encourage you to visit some of the other homeschool bloggers participating this week! You can find the full list on my anchor post...or you can try some of these lovely ladies:

Steph @ Indy Homeschool

Do any of the lessons I shared resonate with you? Have you learned any major lesson this past year?
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August 12, 2015

Back to Homeschool Blog Hop~ Day 3: What Picking Curriculum REALLY Looks Like in My House

It wouldn't be fair to have a Back to Homeschool Blog Hop series without me spending at least a day talking about curriculum. You know, like what I'm going to be using, how I'm going to be using it, who it's for, my goals...all that jazz. But guess what? I'm still undecided! You see curriculum planning isn't this need and tidy system in my house. Nope. It looks FAR from that, so in an effort to keeping it real, I'm using today's post to show you how MESSY curriculum planning can be...physically AND mentally!

Planning and picking curriculum at my house is NOT organized. It’s not something quick. It’s not something easy. It USED to be that way when we did an all-in-one curriculum—just order it, pull it out and go. But once we switched to a pieced together curriculum (starting in 3rd grade), suddenly things got a bit…overwhelming. Or at least it had moments. And this year—with throwing a kindergartner in the mix…it’s a bit more chaotic than usual. Okay. It's a LOT more chaotic.

An aspect of piecing a curriculum together that is the most mentally challenging is just the evaluating and weighing of all the choices. 

My oldest (age 9 1/2) enjoys independent work, hands-on work, and is an audial learner--preferably with a video attached. So I need to find programs that incorporate a lot of audio/visual lessons, limited reading, and quite a few chances for hands on stuff.

My youngest is a visual and hands-on learner who wants to do everything together. This means I can't necessarily use the same things as I did with my oldest--which means I have to go through everything I have AGAIN and evaluate it again. 

We also want to be together for subjects this year--so this brings another element of adapting material to be okay for a 4th grade level AND a kindergarten level. This brings its own set of challenges--but I know will be great once it's worked out.

Mentally, figuring out the curriculum for each child can be..well, overwhelming. That's why I pray about our curriculum so much before I even start sorting and planning it out. I ask God to put me in the direction I need to go that will provide the best for each child. And it has always worked out!

Okay--physically. Physically preparing for curriculum.

So what does it look like?

Imagine organized chaos...and that is what you will find in my house right now.

It looks like planning forms to work out a skeleton idea…
These help me make sure I don't forget something...most of the time. And I usually end up doing about three sets before it's finalized...ish.
It looks like piles of catalogs to see if I had marked anything interesting that we might use/need…
only a FRACTION of the pile I look through...a fraction!
It looks like a crate with file folders of subjects and unit studies to be better organized and filled to be ready to go…
Don't be fooled. This is crammed and in no way orderly.
It looks like a pile of geography curriculum to organize and prepare…
The materials for Expedition Earth which the boys will be using this year.
It looks like a bookshelf full of possible curriculum choices for the year…
This is about as orderly as it gets...and I promise it won't be staying this way when I'm done with it! LOL
It looks like a collection of USB drives, full of digital curriculum I need to look through and inventory…
Yeah. Like I'm ever going to have time to inventory these...
It looks like a big pile of chaos as I sort through our old Kindergarten materials to see what I want to use this year…
now THIS is organized chaos at its finest!
It looks like various websites of curriculum to be analyzed and weighed…will we use them or won't we?
Am I going to use Visual Learning Systems for Science this year? Still undecided.
It looks like a big binder that will become my right hand…
I read that first page every time I open the binder...
So there you have it.

Maybe my planning is like yours. 
You related to my photos didn’t you?? Ah, my kindred spirit!

Maybe your planning is the kind that is organized and systematic. 
I bow to your fine skills. Would you like to come plan mine?

The thing that matters is that come September 7th, it’s going to be decided, and ready to go! 

I think.
     I hope.

Pray for me…

Well that's day 3! I hope you will continue to check in this week for more of my posts during this Back to Homeschool Blog Hop! Now I encourage you to visit some of the other homeschool bloggers participating this week! You can find the full list on my anchor post...or you can try some of these lovely ladies:

Aurie @ Our Good Life
Katie @ DailyLife
Melissa @ Mom's Plans
Annette @ A Net In Time
What does curriculum choosing look like at your house? Do you do it orderly? Or is it a bit more like my style?
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