What have we been up to?

We’ve been back in action for about three weeks now, and I’d have to say it’s going rather smoothly- It seems very relaxed and easy going (so far). Some days I have to make more reminders to focus than others, but I’d say overall we’re all enjoying the topics!


Here’s a briefing on what we’ve done so far:

Language Arts:


Grammar: Studied/Reviewed Verbs, Writing Complete Sentences, Nouns- proper and common, and Adjectives- daily lessons with a game, such as a scavenger hunt and then reinforced by watching School House Rocks -Grammar.

Spelling: I’ve been giving 16 words a week- day 1 and 2 is copy work of the words, followed by spelling aloud and then choosing three words and writing a complete sentence.

He’s also brushing up on his cursive work- I think he’s doing fine, but he likes his penmanship perfect, so he gets easily frustrated!


Luke has been working on recognizing his letters and playing games on Starfall  learning both,  visually and hearing the phonics.

Reading: He’s starting to “read” on his own and by that I mean when young children start using random letters to “spell” things and copy “reading” books at bedtime- he’s memorized certain books and will read them to me in his own words, similar and in sequence of the actual story.

He starts story hour at the library this week too- he’s excited to meet some friends 🙂

Math: Again, much review from the end of last year for Liam. Luke is working on counting to 15 and recognizing numbers out of order.

Liam’s reviewed telling time, reading bar graphs, double digit addition, matching fractions, adding decimals and reviewing multiplication facts.  I have to say two weeks ago, he was a bit rusty on his multiplication facts, but he wanted to take a quiz on the site multiplication.com and got 38/38 correct  with facts up to 7×3 in  3 minutes! I have to say I was honestly relieved! He’s getting it! phew!

Luke is also showing progress while we watched a video counting to 20 in a Spanish lesson, he was shouting out- it’s a 5- it’s a 4 it’s an 1 and a 3!  He’s been counting everything he can, really- on a nature walk he counts the rocks or trees, as he eats snacks, or counts for the light to change as we drive around town.


This is Liam only but of course Luke will watch or listen in.

We’ve so far studied the Biography of Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison and watched videos about these men. In studying Edison, we also did a writing lesson where I “interviewed” Liam while he was an inventor who just completed an invention.

Here it is:

” I can still remember like it was yesterday. I had been working for weeks perfecting my time machine. I found a bunch of parts around the house.”

Q: How far back did you travel?

A: to 1812

Q: What did you see?

A: The War, on the battlefield, but I was wearing an invisible cloak.

Q: What are you going to do with the machine?

A: Going to go back in time and bring back weapons from then and bring our weapons from today to help them end the war quickly.

We also just started studying the Industrial Revolution this week and learning about Coal Mining. We’ve watched a few videos on the Revolution and coal miners and books from the library.  I borrowed the story Rocket Boys for literature to go along with this topic. We’re both enjoying it so far.

rocket A memoir of a teenager growing up in the 50’s in Coalwood, West Virginia- a town built for extracting bituminous coal.





This year we’re focusing on Zoology.

So far we’ve looked at Classifications- through videos, books, and games. Extinction and endangered animals. Ecosystems and drawing a diagram of the rainforest. While watching a presentation on the different Biomes, Liam took notes on a chart, noting the Location, Climate, Nutrients, Layers, Flora and Fauna, Threatend? and other differences worth remembering. This week we started to take a look at food webs and chains. Producers, Decomposers and Consumers. He played a fun game making a habitat, with a food chain in order to see how it all works together.

Music: We’ve looked at/ listened to pieces by Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky,and Ravel.

Art: Natural objects, and Henri Matisse – sketching of seashells

Spanish:  listening to and recognizing Common Phrases, counting and matching games- Spanish alphabet song and phonics.




Plans are finally, Finalized! Next years Curriculum….

For Luke: Preschool-image

Preschool Montessori Yr 1 Plan

This year – 2013/2014

Following the Montessori approach! Specifically this site:





lots of literature and hands-on life learning!

Letters: Recognition, Sounds and Copy work in My First School Book from Handwriting Without Tears


Art and Music– Lots of exploration/ all hands on!!

Math: Numbers 1-10 then 1-20

Counting , Recognizing numbers in and out of order, Patterns and Puzzles, Shapes and Board Games

Literature Topics: Nursery Rhymes, Friendship, and Self- Help/Character builders

Pre-K 1Book List

They are categorized by topic, but like all good literature many contain multiple subject areas.

Self- Help/ Character Builders:

I can be anything!    Jerry Spinilli

I can be a real boy    Guido van Genechten

I can count    Bobbie Kalman

I can do it! A first look at not giving up    Peg Thomas

I can do it myself!    Stephen Krensky

I can fly super high!    Zuma Ayriyan

I can help    David Hyde

I can help    Liz Lennon

I’m 3! Look what I can do    Maria Carluccio


Family and Friends    Honor Head

Friends    Meg Greve

Frog and Friend: Outdoor Surprises     Eve Bunting

Very Special Friends    John Seven

Nursery Rhymes:

28 Best Nursery Rhymes Ever –Sound Recording

100 Best-loved Nursery Rhymes – no author

Clare Beaton’s Nursery rhymes read-along book and CD- no author

Favorite nursery rhymes from Mother Goose    Scott Gustafson

Three Little Kittens and other favorite nursery rhymes    Tony Ross

Wee Sing nursery rhymes and lullabies    Pamela Beall


Colors and Shapes     Ruth Owen

Dear Dragon’s fun with Shapes     Margaret Hillert

Dinosaur Shapes    Ava Saviola

I see shapes    No Author

Play with Shapes!    Joyce Markovics

Shapes Around Us     Daniel Nunn

Shapes in Animals    Sebastiano Ranchetti

Shapes in Art      Rebecca Ressman

Shapes that Roll     Karen Nagel

Three dimensional shapes: Cones    Luana k. Mitten

123   Anne Gedes

123 Chicago   Puck

123 favorite kids songs

123 I can make prints!     Irene Luxbacher

Animals 123: one to ten and back again   Kate Sheppard

Thomas’ 123 book     Richard Courtney

ABCs in Nature   Daniel Nunn

Biscuit’s ABCs    Alyssa Satin

Dinosaur ABC’s    Ava Saviola

Little Critter ABC’s     Mercer Mayer

For Liam, Year 4:

Year 4

Lessons for this year; 2013/2014

Modern Time period: History, Arts and Music. Zoology, Language arts and Math.

An Eclectic Combination with use of:

Easy Peasy all in one Homeschool yr.5-8

Math Lessons: Easy Peasy and My Business Math: Pet Store- Simply Charlotte Mason

Language Arts : 6 genres of literature, The Grammar Ace and School House Rocks DVD

Music: Pop Music, Iconic Stage, Movie Compositions

Art: Imitating the Classics, Study edges, outlines, repetition and perspective. Natural and Arbitrary Colors

Year 4/5 Book List

Modern History: Post Civil War to Current Day         E.P. yr 5-8


A picture book of John Washington Carver     David A. Alder

The Transcontinental Railroad   John Perritano

Born to Fly     Michael Ferrari

Ground Attack Planes    David Baker

Animal Farm   George Orwall

Captured off guard; the attack on Perl Harbor   Donald Lemke

Women in the Civil Rights Movement   Judy L. Hasday

John F. Kennedy   Wil Mara

Science: Zoology      E.P.   yr. 5-8

Main branches in the animal kingdom, habitats, behaviors, diets and adaptations. Endangered species and classification. Food webs, ecosystems. Nature walks and hikes.


Amazing Fish   Honor Head

Shark Wars   E.J Altbacker

Sharks, the super fish   Helen Sattler

Bees   Debbie and Brendan Gallagher

These Bees Count!   Alison Fermento

What if there were no bees?: a look at the grassland ecosystem   Suzanne Slade

Animal and plant mimicry   Dorothy Patent

Hide and Seek: creatures in camouflage   Phyllis Perry

Jungle bugs: masters of camouflage and mimicry   Bruce Percer

About Birds; A guide for children   Cathryn Sill

Whistling Wings   Laura Goering

A bird’s life   Ellen Lawrence

Amphibians: water to land    Laura Perdie

The complete guide to reptiles and  amphibians    JinnyJohnson

The life cycle of amphibians    Darlene Stille

City Food Chains   Julia Vogal

Deciduous forest food chain   Julia Vogal

Desert Food chains    Julia Vogal

Art and Music:  E.P 

Music: Pop Music, Iconic Stage, Movie Compositions

Art: Imitating the Classics, Study edges, outlines, repetition and perspective. Natural and Arbitrary Colors

Read Aloud Book List Covering 6 Genres:

Fairy Tales: Random House Book of Fairy Tales

Animals: James Herriot’s Treasury for Children

Tall Tales and Fantasy: The Swiss Family Robinson

Fiction: Follow My Leader

Science Fiction: A Wrinkle in Time

Mystery: Encylopedia Brown: Boy Detective

The Cricket in Times Square- Elephant Math

The past two weeks we have been reading The Cricket in Times Square by George Seldon.  A cricket who finds himself transported from Connecticut to New York’s Times Square when trapped inside a picnic basket.  We follow him through many adventures and meet his new friends along with him.

square  cricket

We live in Connecticut and visited Times Square last year as a family, so after a quick reminder of our trip and watching a video on Times Square, we had a discussion of the two places and the FEEL of them. As Liam gets older I really want him to start connecting with the stories just a little bit more and so we talked quite a bit about how the cricket must feel after coming from a quiet grassy country side to the loud busy city.  I also started a new writing/spelling lesson as we go through the book chapter by chapter. He is keeping a Writing Response Journal. The purpose is to record personal experiences, explore reactions and interpretations, record and analyze. To think about the book and connect literature to his own life.

We are up to Chapter 8 and here are a couple of his entries so far:

“The best Character yet is Tucker Mouse. ”

“I think Chester and Tucker are Friends now. Chester is from Ct.”

“This Chapter is SO FUNNY! I liked Sai Fong.”

Elephant Math:

We are just finishing up our Unit on Ancient India and came upon this great Living Math idea in a handbook I have called A trip Around The World.

Tradition in ancient India called for respect of all forms of life. Asian or Indian elephants are dressed in a small house called howdahs. Many wildlife sanctuaries and national parks are created for these wild animals.  With many interesting facts about elephants we answered some mathematical questions about them.

ele math The bull elepjant stands 9-10 feet tall and weighs approx. 8,00 pounds.

Weigh 5 textbooks and determine how many would equal the weight of one elephant?!

eleph math

The skin of an elephant is about 1 1/2 inch thick and weighs about 2,000 pounds.

How many sheets of paper are equal to the thickness of an elephants skin?

What fraction of the elephant’s weight is its skin?

We ended up meeting fellow homeschool friends at the zoo and seeing the elephants there.


lightlight reflect

light game

This week Argon was added to the Elements folder. The boys watched a video on how a light bulb is made. Played a game on reflecting light VS. absorbing light and tried it out in the bedroom with a mirror.  Liam drew light bulb and added it into the pocket, then finished the week with an online quiz!argon light pocket

Another fun/busy week! We plan on heading out to meet a small group today for some outdoor games! Enjoy your day!


Luke started with BFIAR today

I have looked at and read through this program: Five In A Row  so many times in the past and just love the overall concept! As of today,  Luke is starting with Before Five a Row and Liam will try Five in a Row or perhaps Beyond Five in a Row depending on the concepts and lessons (I’m not sure at this point where to start with him) I plan to add additional activities into the Unit, however I think with Liam since I feel we’ve been all over the place this year, I’ll wait and fully decide what to do by September.  For now I will take what has already been planned for this year and squeeze the two together as possible.

Anyhow, this is a Unit study program, one book read for the whole week, with corresponding lessons! This seems to be the perfect package for me! What do we do when we get new books? read them over and over!! I have always loved a Unit Themed lesson from my days as a teacher in Early Childhood and everything I’ve learned through studying the Charlotte Mason method, I’m hopeful that I’ve found that perfect cozy, practical and engaging curriculum I’ve been struggling with this year.- That I’m thrilled to try this out!!I love the CM approach but I tend to get overwhelmed with so many books in front of me trying to cover all the topics, that I feel one book with corresponding lessons will not feel so daunting and “choppy” if you will.

I signed up for a membership and was allowed access to some samples called “fold and learn”.  I am going to use these and if all goes well (with my high hopes) I will then purchase the actual products.

So for today Luke kicked off his first lesson with the Goodnight Moon fold and learn. This is one of his and my favorite books of all time. The fold and learn can easily be made into a folder or box activity after the week is through for him to go back to at anytime as will fill it this week with the activities etc.  I read him the story this morning as he practically read it along with me 🙂 (see, repetition works! ) Great Cognitive learning!  As I read the story I asked him to find the language card that corresponded with the story. I then went through each one and we practiced rhyming words like clock and sock! Like I said I will add my own ideas and activities and we just happened to have a Goodnight Moon number matching game that we did this afternoon. New ImagegmNew Imagegmm





Looks like tomorrow we’ll be working on an art activity and some science too.  I already requested the book A Pair of Red Clogs for Liam for next week from the library since I had already planned on teaching him about the Eastern Hemisphere in Geography.  This story has a fold and learn to go with it, so we’ll just add it or replace it with some things I had previously planned. I’m thinking/hoping he will enjoy this type of lessons. Units can be so fun and you can really get in depth with a subject they truly find interesting!

If anyone reads this that has previous experience with this program I’d love to hear any comments you have!

Is it Friday?! Yeah Library!

Apparently I forgot it was Friday and went straight to the grocery store this morning then later on headed out to the library, as we were walking in… yikes it ‘s Friday! We never sat down and did school work today!  I got a yessss!!! from Liam as I said it out loud.  As we drove home he read me the entire book Nacho Nacho and other rhyming riddles. Then we did two cooking/baking projects and settled down to watch the movie Stellalunawe borrowed from the library. We watched the movie, then viewed the bonus material on bat facts and learned a few more things. He then took out his sketch pad and followed the step by step instructions on how to draw Stellaluna! He did his first sketch, then tried it again after giving it a critique, and colored it in.















Luke worked on patterns with snowflakes I bought at the dollar store and some games on sprout and pbs. He’s very quick and loves puzzles!









I am planning to take a break this upcoming week for Thanksgiving, but wanted to share the book I selected at the library for the following week.

History; as we continue the westward expansion we are going to read/discuss The Oregon Trail by Mel Freidman

Wild West Days Fun projects, Games, Activities and Recipes by David King

Animals on the Trail with Lewis and Clark by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent

Reading; Continuing The Enormous Egg,  and starting Reindeer DO WEar Striped Underwear (The Bailey School Kids series) as well as poetry Ploka-Bats and Octopus Slacks by Calef Brown

Science; Continuing the Arctic studies Ice Bear and Little Fox by Jonathan London ( waiting on the other books from the library)





Autumnal Color Hunt

The day began with some online learning with use of the site Head of the Class. We had started using it awhile back and had forgotten about until my sister, who also homeschools reminded me about it recently. Both boys love it as a warm up to start off the day. After that we moved on to some dice math games, my oldest also set up a “store” in his room, so we did some money exchange there and had fun with the prices of his merchandise- nothing in his store was less than 1,000.00! 😉 As he stated, it is all valuable items!

He then wanted to do some pencil drawings in his art journal, so while he did that I researched some outdoor activities for later on and made a train track with my youngest.

In history we’ve been focusing on the Louisiana Purchase, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin. We took out many books from the library, The Louisiana Purchase A History Just for Kids book is great, a good read.  AHC also has a great Benjamin Franklin cartoon series on youtube that my oldest really enjoys.  In reading about the  Purchase, we came across Sacagawea and Louis and Clark. We read the story Seaman:The Dog who explored the West with Louis and Clark, last year so he was familiar with them.  This week I took out the book Who was Sacagawea? by Judith Bloom Fradin as we came across her name in our purchase book. We read the first chapter in this book,  and so far it is an easy gentle read!

With the sun finally out early in the morning and the leaves so colorful, I really wanted to get outside for a nature lesson! I love the site Nature Detectives and we have a great book 50 Nature Projects for Kids, between the two I got the idea for a color nature hunt.

I made color blocks on a piece of paper and we headed outside to find things to match the colors! They were really into it and being extremely particular in their findings,if it didn’t match exactly they didn’t want to keep it! 😉

We ended up matching just about every single color and lots of different shades of colors. Leaves, acorns, grass, rocks, wildflowers, the sky and the river were some of our finds.

I also came across an activity called Woodland Potions on the nature detectives site.  The idea is while out in the woods gather items to make a potion, using a container add collected items, water and a stick to stir, make up a rhyme and then pour out your potion and make a wish! While I headed off to work my sister took the boys on a walk to gather these items and spent time playing at the playground. Today we’ll work on a rhyme to go along with his gathered items and see what he can think up!? I continually strive to find new was to incorporate writing skills for him and hoping this one is a fun and creative one.

First Day of Summer Break

Love of Great Books

A rainy day that cancelled our weekly happy homeschooler’s hike.  So instead we went and did errands then watched a movie together as I worked on a book list containing our favorite books from this past year. Then started my new daily journal here!

We started this past year doing mostly eclectic homeschooling and as I researched and observed my sons learning style and what I found I liked most about homeschooling..it was a no brain-er! We slowly transitioned into the Charlotte Mason method of homeschooling! Sitting a reading books aloud is and has always been one of my favorite things to do!

Growing up my mother always took us for trips to the library and then read our favorites to us each night. I believe this is where my love of great stories comes from. It was my favorite time of the day, just sitting together on my bed and hearing the stories and sharing laughs. My all time favorite as a child was Muffin, Brown bear and Me (as you see in the photo) My mother found the book and gave it to me as a gift not so long ago. A true treasure from my childhood!

I see why the Charlotte Mason method spoke volumes to me. I have always treasured the time spent reading books and love to hear a great story and retained information much better through a story as well as hands-on. It didn’t take to long to see these were two learning styles my oldest son enjoys as well. As for my youngest, he’s two, so we’re still exploring everything!!

So, as we move forward into the next “school year” we will share all the great stories we read and all the great hands-on activities we get our hands into!

So, please I encourage you to follow along with us on our journey!