Tuesday, January 6, 2015

How I teach reading

  I've had several people ask me how I taught my children to read or say to me, "I'd love to home school, but I could never teach my child how to read!". 
  Well, let me start of by saying, I've been very fortunate to have easy students.  We don't seem to have any learning disabilities, however, even if we did, I would not allow my child to use that as a crutch. 
  So, here it is, my reading plan, in all of its glory....

1.)   I have the child watch Leap Frog's Letter Factory and Word Factory.  It normally takes about 2 weeks, for them to get all their letters and sounds down and basic words like "cat", and "pig".  I put in Letter Factory 1 time a day everyday for a week and the same for Word Factory.  Yes, you understood me right, I do not teach letters and sounds myself with worksheets or cute little jingles.  I use good 'ole Leap Frog!  I made the mistake of using Saxon Phonics with my oldest, Derek, while keeping Lindsay busy watching something on TV (which happened to be Leap Frog).  And how does Derek remember his sounds?  From over hearing Leap Frog, not from all the flashcards and coding of Saxon.  (That was a lot of time wasted!!)


2.)  I start introducing 100 Easy Lessons.  There are several other reading curriculums out there very similar to this, but this is just the one, I came across first.  I go very slow with this, sometimes repeating one lesson for 2 or 3 days in a row.  When the child starts to get a bit frustrated with the words getting harder, I move onto step 3.  I come back and finish this book after step 3.  (Hence, I do NOT finish this book in 100 days!)

3.)  Bring out the Dick and Jane books!!  This is one of my favorite parts of teaching reading.  I absolutely love Dick and Jane books!!!  This does not teach phonically at all, however, it strengthens the child's confidence level tremendously!  This is a sight word technic.  They learn the words, "oh", "look", and "see"  first.  Then they move onto harder words such as "Mother", "something", and "come".  All the while repeating all the words they have already learned.  By the time we have made it through all the Dick and Jane books, we are ready to move back to step 2 and complete 100 Easy Lessons and the child has built up enough confidence to not become so frustrated with sounding words out.  They also have built up enough sight words from Dick and Jane that they can just read certain words without sounding out!!

4.)  Move onto Emerging Readers!!  This is a huge step.  Both of my older 2 were so excited when they got to start reading their Beginner's Bible!  A lot of help, due to difficult names, was given throughout this book.  By the time they had completed the Bible they were reading books such as "Frog and Toad", "Biscuit", "Owl at Home", and other Early Reader Books all on their own!!

5.)  Slowly moving on as their confidence continues to build, I move them onto chapter books such as "The Littles", "The Boxcar Children", and Classic Starts Books.

*A very important note, is to always be reading a book out loud, way above their level.  This is so important, because children also learn how to read by listening.  Have a set story time, when you can just snuggle up on the couch together and enjoy good, wholesome literature.  Some of our favorites have been "Charlotte's Web", "Little House on the Prairie", and "The Moody's". 

  So, that's it.... My very own "uncomplicated" reading curriculum :)

  How do you teach reading?  Do you have a favorite reading curriculum?  Do your children enjoy reading?  What are some of your children's favorite books?

Monday, January 5, 2015

Another year has come and gone.....

  Another year has come and gone.  I arose early today, because this starts a new semester here in our household.  The house is a mess and in complete chaos from Christmas, so I thought I'd try to get some stuff picked up before we start on our next leg of my children's educational journey.  I got up, walked into the kitchen started my self a mug of hot cocoa and sat down to write this post.  (There's so much cleaning going on right now, I can hardly stand it;)
  Anyway, I thought it was important I sit down and reflect for a little while.  Once, again, it's bee so long since I've written and I keep saying I'm going to try and get better, but life keeps happening. And I've decided, that's ok too.  Everything is just rushing by so quickly.  All I want to do is sit and enjoy it for a moment.  And if we get started a little late, then so be it.  :) 
  Looking back, I realize just how fast my babies are growing!  All 3 of my children are reading, no one is in diapers, everyone can make their own oatmeal, buckle themselves in the car, clean up their own messes ( :O !!! )  But somehow, I'm finding they need me even more now than before.  Not me, physically doing anything, but my listening.  They are constantly wanting "one on one" time.  They constantly want to pour their hearts out to me.  I'm trying desperately to be a good listener and not a director.  I'm a fixer and this thing called life is so hard to fix sometimes.  I hate seeing my babies hurting, and all I want to do is fix it, but I can't.  My children are noticing lost people all around us, and it breaks their little hearts.  The things they are concerned with and pray for amaze me and crush me all at the same time.  So sometimes, all I can do is listen and guide them to Jesus, who truly can fix things.  I'm learning very quickly that life is not going to be any easier for my children, than it was for me, if not even harder.   And don't think for a second, just because they are home-schooled, they are sheltered from all the peer pressure, crime, and the hurt of the world.  Yes, it helps tremendously, and it is a big reason of why we do what we do, but even Satan battles against home-schooled children and their peers. 
  The preacher at church, yesterday, discussed family again (we are a family-integrated church, we discuss this a lot ;) and just how important it is to BE together.  Satan works so hard at breaking families apart, so he can in turn break us down individually.  If we work diligently at sticking together, even in life's roughest valleys, it will make us stronger on the other side. 
  So for this new year, I pray that God directs our family's paths, and that we will continue to grow together.  I am praying for your family, I am praying that God is building up some strong soldiers in His army to fight this on going war.  I praying peace inside our homes, that home may be a place that we can come and rest from the outside raging war.  And, last of all, that we can be a light to this outside, lost, and dying world. 

  Happy New Year and May God Truly Bless You,

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

School Year 2014-2015

  Well, as I said last week, summer is quickly fading.  This is the first year we have taken a real "summer break".  We normally school year round.  However, this year with all 3 partcipating in 4-H, 2 in the Bible Bee, and the garden, we decided to take a few months off.  It was a very good decision too, it may be a new trend in our household ;) 
  Derek has actually been asking for 2 weeks now when we are going to start back up again.  Which, by the way, is incredible!!!  He's my child, who could normally careless about school!  He loves Geography and well.....that's about it.  He did come to me and ask if we could do a different math.  I have loved and praised Teaching Textbooks for the last 2 years, but I'm very much into child-led learning, so I've been looking at different math curriculums for the last couple of weeks and we are going to start with Singapore Math, which is what Heart of Dakota suggests using anyway.  He wanted a "math workbook".  He loves Rod & Staff (we use it for 1st grade) and they have a "worksheet book" for 3rd grade, but not for 4th.  We looked at a few other curriculums, but for now, we've settled on Singapore.  He has done Singapore before during summers as review, so it's not all completely new to him.  So here's the run-down for this year's curriculum lists.

Derek - 4th Grade
Heart of Dakota - Bigger Hearts for His Glory ~
We use this for Bible, History, Science, Dictation, Poetry, Handwriting, and Reading
(We are finishing up this guide.  He will start "Preparing" sometime around Thanksgiving)
Singapore Math 3B & 4A
(This is just a google picture of the ALL the workbooks.
He doesn't have to do all of these this year;)
BJU English 4
(He will be finishing this up and starting 5 around Thanksgiving also)
Galloping the Globe & Rand McNally Intermediate Geography & Maps
Bible-Based/Self-Paced Computer Typing Curriculum
Lindsay - 2nd Grade
Heart of Dakota - Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory ~
We use this for Bible, History, Science, Spelling, Poetry, Handwriting, & Reading
(She will be finishing up this guide and starting "Bigger" around Thanksgiving also.)
Teaching Textbooks 3
(She wants to stick with it for now :)
BJU English 3
(She will also be starting 4 sometime around Thanksgiving)
Galloping the Globe & Rand McNally Beginner Geography & Maps
Bible-Based/Self-Paced Computer Typing Curriculum
Leah - Preschool
Rod & Staff Preschool Workbooks
Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
Rod & Staff Math 1
Confessions of a Homeschoolers K-4 Curriculum

  Also, this year, we are going to start something new!  We sat down and talked about somethings the kids really want to work on or learn but just don't have time to work at them every day.  So, I'm so excited this is what we came up with!!  Every morning we will start out with a chapter from "The Miller Books".  We will be starting the school year with "Missonary Stories with the Millers". 

  After we have read our chapter, we are going to review and complete a day in our Calendar Book from Christian Light Education. 

  This is mainly for Leah, since the older 2 know their months and days, however, they wanted their own Calendar Books also.  :)  This books also reviews daily weather and seasons. 
  And then each day we will move onto learning that day's subject. 
Monday - Geography (Galloping the Globe)
Tuesday - Spanish
Wednesday - Sign Language
Thursday - Music Theory
  On Fridays, we have Music School in the morning and Co-op in the afternoon.  This first semester at Co-op Derek is taking Pencil Drawing and PE and Lindsay is taking Art (Acrylic Painting) and PE.  Leah will be in the preschool class.  They do all kinds of fun crafts, songs, centers, and work on their letters, sounds, and numbers.  I will be teaching Home Economics to the older girls and Ronnie will be teaching a mechanics class the first semester.  We are looking forward to a new school year!! 
  Also, my goal for this year for the blog is to do a review each week of our Heart of Dakota units and also one of our other curriculums each month!  I've had a lot of parents say to me, they would love to homeschool, but just don't think they could.  So my hope would be that I can share how rewarding and easy(most days;) homeschooling actually is!!
Proverbs 1:7 ~
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Life is NOT what it seems.....

  As I sit here this morning, looking out my window trying to see past all the thick fog, I realize how quickly the summer is coming to an end.  Ever since Hannah passed, I feel like our summers just fly by!  Her entire life took place in one tiny little summer, the summer of 2008.  It will be burned into my memory, of course, forever.  Trying to fit everything a mama, of 3, needs to do into one summer is exhausting, actually it feels next to impossible!  Especially when you are trying to be a mama to 3 children, all under 3, that are separated over 100 miles away.  I always look back and try to think of how I should have done things differently.  I definitely didn't have the mind-set that I do now and thought that it was so important for my older 2 to carry on normal lives.  When in reality, I realize now the best thing for them was to have been with their mama as much as possible.  However, I felt like, then, that wasn't possible because they were not allowed in the NICU or in Hannah's room.  I kept telling myself that Hannah would get better soon and we'd all be home as a family.  I tried to stay so busy with activities at church when I was home to keep my mind off of things with Hannah that I missed a lot of opportunities to just sit and hold her and and spent so much time traveling back and forth, I missed alot of firsts with Lindsay. (Lindsay and Hannah were 11 months apart).  She learned to crawl and walk with out me and learned to say some very cute words without me.  My heart constantly breaks at the idea of not remembering much about Lindsay's 1st year at all, by being so consumed with my prenatal appointments and worrying so much about what was to come and then the 3 1/2 months she was in the hospital.

  I fast forward 6 years and continute to realize how short our summers are and in reality how short all of our lives are, they really are but just a vapor.  I have watched my children grow and mature more this year than I ever have before.  We have worked so hard and participated in so much this year, I am just amazed at the young people my children are becoming. 
  We did let the garden fail a little this year due to being so busy (however after hearing so many other people say that their tomatoes didn't make either, I don't feel so bad), however, we did manage to put up over 30 quarts of corn and 6 quarts of tomato juice so far (more is yet to come). 

  We've participated in the Bible Bee, the Farmer's Market, 4-H, attended the State Fair, and did respit for 3 foster babies, all under 14 months, at the same time.   


  I have watched the children learn and grow in The Word. They have worked hard on creating their own projects and baking to sell their goods and have become quite the little entrepreneurs.  I have watched them transform through the horseback riding lessons and show their animals in the ring and their confidence just rise in themselves.  I've watched them mature so much while working hard in the garden, picking, shucking, cooking, squeezing, canning, and freezing our produce to get through the winter.  And understanding the importance of helping to provide for the family.  And last but not least, dying to themselves to help care for, and eventually loving, 3 babies that are not our own.  They helped bathe, feed, hold, and love on these 3 as if I had given birth to them, just as I had their own selves.  It truly was amazing. 

  I continually pray that we can raise our "babies" to work as unto the Lord, not toward men!  I pray for their salvation daily.  Because at the end of the day, nothing else matters if they don't live as Christ, everything else will not get them anywhere! 

James 4:14  (NKJV)
14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

What we've been up to...

  Sorry, it's been so long since I've written.  The older the kids get, the less time it seems that I have.  This is the first year we have ever taken a summer break.  We normally school year round taking a week off here and there when we need one.  However, we had so many activities planned this summer, I wanted to concentrate on the Bible Bee Sword Studies and completing 4-H projects to the best of our abilities.   So here are some picturers to catch you up. 

We've been playing baseball with our Homeschool Group.

Started a booth at our local Farmer's Market
Photo: Up early at the Farmer's Market :)
Attended our Homeschool Group's Annual Civil War Ball
Working on our Sword Studies for the Bible Bee
Photo: My babies working on their sword studies for the Bible Bee!!!  Melts my heart!!
Playing in the great outdoors
Taking riding lessons for 4-H
And.....we just celebrated Hannah's 6th Birthday in Heaven :)

I hope to get back in the habit of writing again soon! 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

When you feel like a failure....

 You may have seen my post on facebook this morning...

 I try so hard to make sure all of my facebook posts are positive, uplifting, encouraging or informative.  Facebook is so full of negativity of the world, and I feel like it's one way I can shine my light.  So yes, sometimes, it may seem like our life here is just happy-go-lucky and all I do is read fantasy stories with my perfectly, well behaved, angelic, children while eating bon-bons.  (You knew I had to throw that in there, Angela ;) 

  So after this week (and yes, it's only Tuesday), I decided it might also be encouraging if I share the other side.  Just so we know we're not alone in this battle of spriritual warfare.  It's important to me, that I keep this blog and my life real.  I am a terrible, wretched sinner, who by the grace of God has been saved by my Lord Jesus.  But I still mess up, A LOT!!  And I praise the Lord, that He doesn't give up on me.  Oh my, where would we be, if He did??

  So it started yesterday.......
   We woke up to your typical Monday morning.  Everyone waking up and doing chores and preparing for the day.  Derek always wakes up before the girls and starts on his schoolwork while it's still quiet.  He has good and bad days, but most days he wakes up and does this with no problem.  Some days, he wants to play first and then gets very upset that I interrupt his play to start his schoolwork.  So, for the most part, we try to stick to the schedule of him doing schoolwork first, so we can save both of ourselves from headaches.
  Yesterday, he woke up in a great mood and was almost done with his school, when a math problem ( I mean Satan) decided to interrupt our day.  He and I both had a huge meltdown.  There was yelling and crying on both his and my ends. I felt like I was doing something wrong with him.

   I can't seem to figure out how to share my love of learning with him.  No matter what books I find, or math program I buy, he just tries to rush through as fast as he can.  I know, he's a boy and boys don't care for school, but I just keep thinking I am doing something wrong, if I can't make him enjoy his schoolwork.  Lindsay and I have such a good bonding time when it comes to her school, why can't I have that with him?  And he is so smart!!  He figures things out faster than I can explain them.  But, boy oh boy, when he gets stuck on something watch out!! 
  I cried alot, just wallowing in self pity.  I even locked myself in my room for awhile reading different Psalms, trying to embrace the fact, God is the Almighty, and he has a plan, and I am just this one tiny piece through 6,000 years of His puzzle so far.  I felt like one of the Israelites always complaining about everything, no matter their many blessings.  I prayed for a long time asking for God's guidance in raising this strong-willed child.  I really would not want it any other way, because I know God has amazing plans for him, however, I just am at a loss on how to direct his very strong will.  Not to mention, his father and I are both very strong willed, and we are all first borns, so it seems we are all just exactly alike and they say opposites attract, right? 

  Anyway, I ended up having a very long talk with him about having a good attitude, even when we don't like it.  That was like calling the kettle black, huh?? 
  It was a struggle the rest of the day to have good attitudes, because once I get upset, it's really hard for me to let it go.  Ronnie and Derek can just go out and get over it and then I get even more upset because I felt like they weren't that upset about the issue to begin with, totally petty, ain't it?  Talk about a sinner!!  Praise the Lord for grace!! 

  So, later in the afternoon, Ronnie got a wrecker call and I decided it would be a good opportunity to get us all out of the house and some fresh air.  We towed the vehicle, stopped at Goodwill, grabbed a bite to eat, and recieved another wrecker run.  We started out to winch the customer out of the ditch and what....of course, the clutch goes out of the wrecker!!!  We have to call the customer and help them find another wrecker.  And try to make it home without getting stranded ourselves.  Now, Ronnie's in a bad mood and stressing about how much it's going to cost and being down during the our busiest time of the year.  I'm trying to stay calm and lift him up and Satan gets ahold of the both of us and so by the time we made it to bed, we're both upset.  We're laying in bed, discussing how much it's going to cost  to fix it and how we only have 2 weeks left until Christmas to finish buying everyone's presents.  (And we keep it simple!  We just have big families.)  We're still waiting to get paid from 3 or 4 jobs, an insurance check, ect.  And that we need to be patient with them, because we have been in that boat before ourselves!  We both agree, we know that God will take care of us.  So what if everyone doesn't get something from us, it won't be the first, and it won't be the last, I'm sure.  And then I get even more upset, because that's not what it's even about!!  I lay there thinking about how worse off so many more people are than us.  And here we are having panic attacks over a stupid clutch.  Sure, it's our livlihood and yes, it's very important, but in the grand scheme of things, it's nothing! 
  Why do we do this?  Why do we make ourselves sick with worry?  God has promised again and again to take care of us.  And that may not even mean how we want him to take care of us.  We may loose our vehicles, and even our house (heaven forbid), but the one thing that is certain, is His promises to take care of us. 
  I'm so encouraged by the story of Corrie Ten Boom.  If you don't know about her, google it.  She was able to survive and hold on to God's promises even through Concentration Camps!!  Now, that is strength, and not her own, but God Almighty's!!!

  And who knows, maybe God is actually letting some of things happen, so we will cling to him even tighter during this Christmas season.  You know, since it really is about Him anyway ;) 

  From Lindsay's History lesson this morning about the Pilgrims, who were way worse off than you or I. 
From Stories of the Pilgrims by Margaret B Pumphrey:  "The men gathered brushwood and, in the shelter of a great rock, built a roaring fire and camped for the night.  Before they slept the Pilgrims knelt upon the ground and gave thanks to God for guiding them through the storm and dakrness.  Then they repeated a beautiful old song from the Bible beginning; 'O give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good, for His mercy endureth for ever.'"

  I want to live like that!  No matter what comes my way, I want to be able to cling to my Savior like that.  I am so thankful, He is still working on me!!  I just pray that God will give me the wisdom to pass on to my children of how important His Word is for their daily lives and leaning on His everlasting arms. 

  I pray you hold on to what is really important this Chrstimas Season.  I pray you teach your children some wonderful Advent lessons.  I pray that God blesses your families.  And you can hold on tight to fact that this is not our home, we're just passing through. 

Have a Blessed Day,

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Winter Storm Warning!!!

    Here in Southern Indiana, we are preparing for a big winter storm.  Well, at least our family has our fingers crossed!!  :) 
    I'm sooo sorry I haven't written in forever!!  Life has completely just swept us away this year.  We have been sooo blessed to have Ronnie come home and now own our own business.  We first bought a rollback in March and then a little later in the year we traded it for a wrecker.  Ronnie quit his job and came home and opened a garage and towing service.  So as you can see, we are hoping for some snow to keep us busy ;)  So in preparation for the "big snow" we're supposed to get, Leah and I decided to make Daddy some midnight snacks!  
Daddy's favorite - Peanut Butter Balls!!!


Or as Leah calls them, "those turner things". 
(You know, round, circle, turn, all the same thing ;)


   So here's our Peanut Butter Ball recipe from Ronnie's mom, Susie.  She taught me how to make these along with lots of other recipes that are Ronnie's favorite, when we were dating, so that I would be able to take care of her baby boy ;)

Peanut Butter Balls
1/4 bar of paraffin wax (1/3 cup)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter
6 Tbsp butter
2 cups powered sugar (sifted)
1/2 tsp vanilla
In a large bowl, mix peanut butter, butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla with a mixer on medium until mixture starts to stick together.  You need to be able to roll into balls with your hands and the mixture not stick to your fingers too bad. 
Melt paraffin wax in a double broiler pot.  I use mine from Pampered Chef, but my mother-in-law uses a glass bowl over a regular saucepan.  After wax is melted add chocolate chips and stir until completely melted.  I have to keep my burner set on a 3 or lower so the chocolate doesn't burn. 
Roll peanut butter mixture into balls and lay on a cookie sheet covered with wax paper.  Gently pick each ball up with a tooth pick and swirl around in the chocolate mixture.  Set back on cookie sheet to cool.  Once you have covered each ball with chocolate, I take the remaining chocolate and drizzle it over the whole cookie sheet.  When all finished, store the peanut butter balls in the refrigerator to keep the chocolate hard. 
Enjoy with a glass of milk :)
How about you?  Do winter storms give you a yearning to bake?  What are some of your favorite recipes this time of year?