Saturday, December 31, 2011

Year in Review

Ok, I'll admit it.... I'm a copy cat.  I have seen a few blogs doing a year in review post, and I thought it was a good ideas - so here we go.

This time last year, Delta was 7, Echo was almost 5, Foxtrot was 2 and a half, and Golf was only 6 months old.   Also grandkids: Zulu was 7 and a half, and Yankee was 1 and a half.   We were doing a mostly AO program with some modifications from Milestones Academy, Simply Charlotte Mason, and my own Canadian additions.

Now they are all a year older (ok, duh...).  Delta has been baptized and is in Cubs.  Echo has joined Beavers.  Foxtrot is learning to read with "Teach your child to read in 100 Easy Lessons" and doing a bit of math with RightStart Level A.  And Golf just started walking a couple of days before Christmas, is saying some words, signs more,  and is continually asking me to put on "Baby Signing Time".

Here are the Top 5 posts for the year (based on the stats)

Canadian History Plan - Updated!
History - Familiy Rotation
Help - History Year 1
This Country Of Ours
Canadian Literature

hm - makes me think people are looking at the curriculum posts the most!

The Top 2 Pages are

The top Referring URL's (since Maple Hill Academy opened) have been:
See Jamie Blog
Latter-Day Homeschooling
Satori Smiles
Actually, I think Simply Charlotte Mason would rate higher, but it looks like theirs is broken down based on the forum topics that referred to here.

And looking at the year....


We tried the Accountable Kids program in Helpful Changes


I updated the History Plan for Canadian History


We visited the Fire Station!


This was a busy month on the blog!

Delta's Animation

Changed our entire homeschool plan from mostly AO to our own plan

I modified the Scripture Memory Box idea to work better for our family


Info on combining the family for various subjects


Foxtrot turned 3!


I started looking at changing our Math to RightStart


I dreamed about a bunk room!


Delta started Cubs and learned to sew on buttons and badges.


Delta turned 8 and got Baptized, and we started a different Handwriting program


I showed off the maps that Delta and Echo drew.


We added in ASL to our school, and started work on a new plan for Devotions

There were a LOT of changes this year, and I'm looking forward to next year!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Gospel Principles Study for Young Children, Intro and Lessons 1-10

Note that at this time, this is a semi-finished draft.  This study is an update of a study plan made by Michelle Duker, being updated to use the current Gospel Principles manual, as well as give picture references to the Gospel Art Book.

At this time, I haven't checked things like page numbers in other resources, or looked for newer Friend Articles, or done searches for other resources.

Note that older children could look up more of the Scripture References in the lessons, including the Additional Scriptures.

Gospel Principles Study Guide for Young Children
by Michelle Duker
updated by Heather Stovold

Original Introduction:

General Information
This study is for young children using the Gospel Principles manual published by the Church. The lessons are broken down into daily segments and augmented with songs, scriptures and memory suggestions, pictures, and materials from the Friend magazine. A few of the lessons are less appropriate for young children, and I've left them completely open or less structured to allow for easy adapting to family needs, or omission, as the parent sees fit.

A typical weekly plan involves some reading and discussion each day of the week, with Fridays usually spent in review or reading supplementary material from the Friend. For each weekly lesson, I list a suggested memory verse approximately every two weeks, pictures from the Gospel Art Picture Kit which may enhance the lesson, and stories from the various Scripture Readers published by the Church which relate to that week's theme.

Each day I have subject headings from the Gospel Principles manual to read for that day, suggested scriptures to look up, a song to sing from the Children's Songbook, and on Fridays a list of suggested resources from the Friend magazine.
~~Michelle Duker~~

Updated Introduction:

I located the original study plan at the School of Abraham at this location :

As the gospel principles manual has been recently updated, and the Gospel Art Kit is no longer sold by the church (although is available online), I talked to Michelle (who happened to be on an online group to which I belong, and started the process of updating this great resource to use with my family.  Michelle did tell me that she used her study plan a number of times with her family - when they needed a refresher or a younger child was now old enough to benefit by it.

Suggested resources - available from the church, or available online
[Note that web links may change, but the church will probably keep these available somewhere on the site. In fact some of these resources are in more than one location at this time.]

Note that it is my opinion that it is usually nicer to have the resources on hand, but it is great that they are available online.

Gospel Art Picture Kit [no longer sold](,16812,4218-1,00.html)

The Scripture Stories books:
            Old Testament Stories (,4945,8900-1-4473-5,00.html)
            New Testament Stories (,4945,8898-1-4473-4,00.html)
            Book of Mormon Stories (,4945,8187-1-4473-2,00.html)
            Doctrine and Covenants Stories (,4945,8897-1-4473-3,00.html)

Scriptures for each reading child (
GAPK: Gospel Art Picture Kit
GAB: Gospel Art Book

CS: Children's Songbook
FR: The Friend Magazine 

NTS: New Testament Stories
OTS: Old Testament Stories
BMS: Book of Mormon Stories
D&CS: Doctrine and Covenants Stories

IFC: Inside Front Cover
IBC: Inside Back Cover

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Devotions for the coming year

So far this school year, I have jumped around a bit in our devotions, trying to find the best fit for our family at this time and stage in our life.  I have found (with a fair bit of searching) a great resource that I think will work well, and am looking forward to starting it.

Michelle Duker, many years ago, created a study plan for children based on the Gospel Principles manual that is used for new members of the church.  This plan includes - a scripture to memorize (generally over 2 weeks) parts of the lesson to read each day, a scripture each day, and songs from the Children's Songbook to sing.  The plans for Fridays generally have other materials that reinforce the lesson from resources like The Friend or the Scripture Stories books.  For most lessons there is a picture from the Gospel Art Picture Kit to display.

However, recently the Gospel Principles Handbook was updated, and the Gospel Art Picture Kit is no longer sold (although it is available online).  I knew that I would need to do a little work to update the plans.

As it turns out, Michelle is a member of an online homeschooling forum to which I belong, and has graciously agreed that I could post my updated lesson plans online in the hopes it might benefit others.

I am debating posting lessons as I update them, or doing all the updates, and then posting a final plan.  Do my readers have a preference?

And for those that would like to see the original plans, or who would rather use the older version of the manual, here is the original:

Intro, and Lessons 1-10
Lessons 11-20
Lessons 21-30
Lessons 31-40
Lessons 41-47

Sunday, December 18, 2011


Well, in case you would like a change from all the Christmas posts on the blogs you read, I thought I'd write about us adding Sign Language to the many things we are learning.

Years and years ago, I took ASL (American Sign Language) classes with my sister.  We learned a fair bit, although we certainly never became fluent!

Then when Delta was born, I read about Baby Sign and the benefits found using Sign Language with hearing babies.  So I did some Baby Sign (ASL signs - note that some Baby Sign systems do NOT use ASL signs) with each of my children.  I will admit that we never had babies that could sign a hundred signs or anything like that.  But each child learned signs helpful to me... "More", "All Done", "Eat", "Milk", "Diaper", and then usually a couple of signs that interested the child.  When Foxtrot was a baby, we took a Baby Signing class, and Delta and Echo (and I ) took a Signing class for toddlers, where they learned more signs, like the colors, animals, and some foods.

And there I left it.

Now Golf has been learning baby sign language, and the older children have gotten interested.  So, I checked our library, and discovered it had the "Signing Time" videos (which we had occasionally watched on TV - but they are no longer on TV here.)  They also had some "Baby Signing Time" videos, so I took those out.

I have to say - WOW.  Golf is really starting to sign.  She will sign many of the words while we are watching the video.... and watching 2 videos just a couple of times - she is signing more in general.  She asked for a banana yesterday by signing.  Today she also asked..... to watch "Baby Signing Time".   She signed "More" "Baby" "Signing" "Time".   Hey - that is a whole sentence!

Here is a video of Golf signing Baby.  She usually signs "signing" as well, but didn't when I was filming her. (If you turn up the sound, you can hear the Baby Signing Time opening song in the background.)

I have had people ask me if teaching babies sign language slows down their speech.  Research has shown that if anything, it speeds up their speaking.  In fact, some speech therapists recommend using baby sign with children that are having problems speaking.  In our family, we have used baby sign with all our children.  One was late in speaking (that child had their speech evaluated and was at the very low side of normal - requiring no therapy.)  One was talking so fluently at a young age that people thought they were a year older than they were.  Another was also very fluent very young.  And of course, Golf is still learning.

I am still trying to decide how to approach adding ASL to our school.  We are watching the Signing Time videos for now.  I will probably work out something more with this free resource -

Also, the Sign Language Phrase Book (picture at top of blog) is very good for learning phrases and has a fantastic chapter on ASL grammar (which is NOT the same as English Grammar).

Friday, December 2, 2011

Week in Review

So another week has gone by... and how did it go?

Well, on Monday, Delta and I were both sick, so we cancelled our violin lessons and swim lessons for the day.

Tuesday - I still wasn't feeling well. Echo got sick that evening (all over the bed, our leap pad, the bedroom floor, oh yeah, and her sister!)  She also got sick all over the bathroom floor right after.  So I had 2 girls in the shower, extra laundry, a floor to cleanup (thanks for the carpet cleaner!!!) and the leappad to cleanup, as well as the book (leappad still works)....  oh, remember at the start that I still wasn't feeling well??

Wednesday - Well, I'm still not feeling well, but as the kids seem ok, and we had already missed a week of school (we missed some days last week too...) we did some basic school.   Following the trend - that night it was time for Foxtrot to get sick.  (See a pattern?)   She came out from bed (waking me up) saying she was wet.  Her clothes weren't wet and she didn't need a change, so I started to get a little upset and sent her to bed, while I "used the facilities".... then my nose detected a problem as I passed their room and so I turned on their light.... sure enough, she had been sick in bed.  So I managed to handle a sheet change without waking up everyone else in the room.

Thursday - So.... who here hasn't been sick?  That's right... it was Golf's turn to be sick.

Friday - well, I'm starting to feel a bit better - or at least my symptoms are different......  I'd have been tempted to try to get SOME schoolwork done, but Zulu was here for the day.  (A PD day at his school.)

Oh well - guess we will just cross this week off and start fresh on Monday.

It could have been worse.......

My brother phoned, he was in Ontario where our ancestors lived, and called to say he was going to the cemetery to take some pictures, and what people did he need to look for?  So I checked in our records and gave him a few names.  There was a couple of children in the family (ages 8 and 13) that had the same Burial Date in 1841.  My brother said, "Oh yeah, they had an epidemic there in 1841.... small pox or influenza or something like that.... it was in that local history book I read"

I am grateful to live in an age where everyone getting sick in the house just causes us to miss out on some schoolwork.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Fresh from the Library

Things have been pretty busy here - and I think we all have had the flu the last couple of days... sigh.

Anyway, I went to the library, and I thought you might be interested in what we picked up....

  • It appears that our Library has picked up the "Little Pim" DVD's for German.  I've picked up 3 to see what I think of the program.  It is for ages 0-5, so that gets a few of my kids in...  We happened to get volumes 4-6 (the ones sitting at the library) so I don't know if it will be too hard with not seeing 1-3 first, or if it really won't matter.   I have wondered about that program, so I'm thrilled to get to see these DVD's
  • I grabbed a couple of Baby Signing Time and 1 Signing Time DVD.  We have decided to add ASL into our little homeschool (Delta and Echo took a preschool course, and Foxtrot took a baby sign course with me ages ago - so they know a little)  I took what was available at the library I visited, but there are several in the system.
  • I also grabbed "The American Sign Language Phrase Book" by Lou Fant.  I remember we used a book by him as an extra book years ago when I took sign language
  • The Elements - A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe.  We have been learning about Elements recently, so this is a nice extra book to look through.  I find it interesting that Delta loves the Element Gold....  Rich tastes?
  • A few books for reading time - "Corduroy", "Ferdinand", "Harry the Dirty Dog"
This was added to the 20 or so other books we still have out from the library from previous visits.  Hopefully this will let us keep busy in an easy way while we all get to feeling much better.

Oh, and on another topic...  our Church had the Children's Presentation this last week.  Delta played the violin during it.  He did a wonderful job, as it took a lot of work to learn the song, and he must have been a little nervous during the performance.  Later that day was the Suzuki winter concert - so the kids had a LOT of sitting quietly that day, as well as a fair bit of violin to do.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

When mom isn't available

There have been times when for whatever reason, sickness or other things, that mom just isn't available for school.  I have come to realize that a bit of preparation ahead of time can let the children still do some school.  Of course, the older the children are, the more independent they can be - but at the same time, there are things that even younger children can do.

Here are some suggestions of things to do that I can try to remember.

First - helping mom.  Fetching things, helping with meals, doing some basic watching of toddlers/infants.

Devotion - singing a few church songs.  We have the animated Scripture videos (well, many of them) - so this is a nice easy change in routine.

Math - if doing RS, this is a good day for math games.  Pick one of the math games your kids enjoy, with skills that they are fairly good at (but could use a bit more practice) - and let them play.  If not doing RS, or for a variation, let them do Khan Academy on the computer.  For slightly older, I have heard of Timez Attack - but we haven't tried it yet.

Writing - select (or have them select) some copywork.

Reading - let them pick a book to do some reading from to themselves.  Have them read to the toddler or baby.  They can read to mom too.

Science - they could read from a science book... or watch a science video.  With a few minutes to setup, they could watch videos from "The periodic table of videos" (on the internet), or watch a good science video on netflix or the TV.  Delta likes the Planets.

History - read a book again - or watch a video as well.  Delta likes the Naked Archeologist.

Music - put on some music to listen to while they read or play.  For instrument practice, have them "serenade" mom with review songs.

Foreign Language - Have them watch a "First Steps" video, or watch a movie or something in the target language. For German - could setup Sesamastrauss (sp?) on Youtube.  (I sure wish our movies had a German option.... French or Spanish gives more options for movies to watch, as most of our DVD's have one or both)

General - Let them play educational computer games.  (We have various Reader Rabbit games)

Most of those just take a few minutes to setup, then mom can be sick on the couch for quite a while.  Although not as good as a regular day at school, it is better than the "turn on the kid shows on TV" option.  Mind you, there may be days when that is all you can do...

oh, in case you are wondering - I'm not sick.  A couple of days ago I had something very important I HAD to take care of during school time.  I set the timer and would do my work for 15 to 30 minutes, having the kids work on various things from my list above - then I would set them up with something else, as I worked again with the timer.  I got what I NEEDED to get done, and the children still got some schooling done.  I don't advocate doing it often of course, but when you must.....

Monday, November 14, 2011


Here is a "Being Real" post...  I admit at times that I tend to post only the good things happening in our lives and our school... the things where we are doing well.   But of course, that is only part of the story - so here is a post about some of the other things.

At times I get frustrated with my attempts at Habit training.  Charlotte Mason said:
"The mother who takes pains to endow her children with good habits secures for herself smooth and easy days; while she who lets their habits take care of themselves has a weary life of endless friction with the children. All day she is crying out, ‘Do this!’ and they do it not; ‘Do that!’ and they do the other” (Vol. 1, pp. 135, 136).
I have been working on habits with my children since I first heard about Charlotte Mason about 5 years ago.  Yet, I realize that I have become the 2nd mother, not the one with the smooth and easy days.  Perhaps it is partly because my children are still young - but I don't think so.  I know that CM said not to excuse children because of youth - and that they will not "grow out" of bad habits.      No, I think the problem comes down to a combination of 3 things.

First - I'm not totally sure of what I am doing.  The longer I am a mom, the less I know about raising children.  Ok, that isn't true - I just REALIZE how much I don't know.  The examples that CM gives in her books about instilling habits just seem so hard to implement.  Like the story about the boy with temper tantrums....  diverting the child's thought to something pleasant BEFORE the tantrum starts... just that exact moment that a tantrum is about to happen but before the child has had the thought.  Well, with 4 children, I can't see that I can discern that exact moment for each possible tantrum.....  and the ones that I know are about to happen are generally because I am telling them "no" for something they want, or asking them to do a job they don't want to do.... very different from the example given.   Not that my kids have tantrums all the time - but they do occur.  In any case, I am sure that my techniques just aren't quite right.  We are supposed to follow through and make sure the habit is done - but WITHOUT Nagging.  I haven't gotten this worked out on how one DOES that.

Second - Consistency. Oh, that is a problem.  A system isn't seeming to work, and I give up on it.  How does one know when keeping at something longer will end up working, or that the reality is just that what I'm trying would never work for anyone?  CM also warns about letting the child off "just this once"... and that this is prone to be allowed by a mother just before the habit is formed because the child has been "doing so well".  Ah, I think I am prone to letting them off "just this once" not because of sympathy for my children - but because of tiredness in myself...  it is energy for me to call them back to see the habit done.  CM says that teaching habits becomes a habit in the mother.... I guess I'm letting myself off before THAT habit is formed.

Third - My habits.   As is true of everyone - I am a creature of habit.  And I have already seen that some of my habits are not helping me habit-train my children.  I'm not going to go into all my bad habits for the world to see...  but I must say that I know they are a definite issue.  Yet I feel at a loss to change my habits for longer than a very short time.  Yet this makes me see the real need for habit training for my children, so they won't have similar struggles.  It is a conundrum that I have been, as yet, unable to solve.

I find homeschooling harder without the habits in place.  Some have counselled to do less school while focusing on habits, which is something of which I see the merit.  But - as I've been working on the same basic habits without success for 5 years, I also feel that I can not be putting off school for habit training that seems to be getting nowhere.  Another problem to solve.

May my kids thrive in spite of my faults and weaknesses!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Cartography, and other things

We have been working on Cartography over the last term, and I am impressed with the results.  What a great way to learn geography!  With a little coaching Delta and Echo have been creating amazing maps - and they seem to remember more about what they have drawn than just looking at the maps.

So far we have done a simple map showing just the Equator and Prime Meridian, then a map showing the placement of the continents.

This last week, they completed a map of Africa, and I am still so proud over it.

Here is Delta's Map.  Note that the scanner has emphasized the strokes of the pencil crayons more than the originals did.

Delta's Map (age 8)

And here is Echo's Map.  I did the labeling for her, but she did all the drawing.

Echo's Map (Age 5)

On other subjects, it was solo day recently for Suzuki violin.  Unfortunately, my camera decided to "hang" while I was taping the solos, so I don't have them to post for your enjoyment.  It is kind of interesting seeing a camera hang... one minute it was busily taping Echo, and the next nothing was changing on the screen.  I kept "taping" in case it was still recording.  Then when I tried to turn it off, it wouldn't shut off until I popped out the battery.  And then when I tried to use it again, It gave me "read error".  Fortunately, erasing the bad file of the movie it hung on while filming (using the computer at home) has cleared up the read error, and hopefully all is well.

Halloween also went well.  I got out my old scouting/guiding uniform collection to use as costumes this year, which seemed to be very well received at the doors while trick-or-treating.  The uniforms are from about 30-40 years ago, so it made them old time scouts/guides.  I am amazed that apparently one little girl about age 8 or so about 30 years ago was so petite that Foxtrot (3 years old) could wear her dress!  I don't have kids that are that big!  Actually it was the same with the other uniforms.  Echo (5) wore a dress that a 10 or 11 year old would have worn, and Delta at 8 wore a scout shirt that an 11 or 12 year old would have worn. We now have lots of candy that the kids are enjoying (and mom sometimes too) - that I really am not sure what to do with.  It also turned out the be the first Halloween in my memory that we didn't need to wear big winter coats...  although I had fall coats in the stroller, the kids didn't even put them on the whole evening.  Just as we arrived back home, it even started to rain!

Scout, Guide, Brownie

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

New Handwriting program

Well, after me personally loving Peterson Directed Handwriting - I came to realize that we needed a change.  Delta has been learning Cursive since Year 1 (starting with Cursive First, then adding in Pencil Pete, then changing to Peterson) - and whenever he needed to write anything other than copywork - he used a print that he was never taught.  On top of it, I had been working with Echo on doing the cursive for Peterson for months and months - and was unable to get a legible letter from her.

So I started the research again.

Well, looking at Penny Gardner's  book Italics: Beautiful Handwriting for children... the handwriting looked familiar.  I remembered years and years ago, when I was about 10 - my mom had some book on calligraphy - but in it was how to write beautifully in your everyday writing.  I realized that the "font" was very similar.  I had taught myself that writing back then - and so my handwriting is a mish-mash of the cursive taught in school, and the italics I learned all those years ago.

I looked at the samples in the book, and the videos available from Penny Gardner's website- and liked the simple approach to teaching.  It is very inexpensive, so we are giving it a try.  The kids seem to like video lessons, so I'm letting Penny teach my children.  We have done 3 lessons, and I'm happy to say that Echo is making beautiful, legible letters.  Delta is happy with it too.  I like that we can later add the joins to do an italic-cursive writing.  We will have to see if this translates to better everyday writing.

I also found various other resources for italic handwriting.  The other main resource the letters are formed slightly differently (and looks a bit nicer in my opinion...)  but I'm happy with Penny Gardner's version.  One great thing I found was a font (for the print version) - and a program that adds in the joins (for the cursive version.) - this will let me make my own copywork when desired.

So, here are the resources:   - the other main resource.  Has things like desk strips, basic lessons, warm up's.  Also the font/program.  I can't link to the sub-pages, so explore it yourself.  The font is under "The Italic Project", "Teaching Aids", "Software" - then look at each page under there to download, and get instructions on how to use it.  - Penny Gardner's ebook to teach italics. This site also has links for the videos.

Monday, October 17, 2011


Delta in his baptismal clothes
It is hard to believe how quickly time goes by.  Just a few short years ago, Delta was a babe in arms, and now here he is, 8 years old, accountable for his actions and choices, and already turning into a little man.

His little sisters are really looking up at him.  Foxtrot (age 3) has told me several times that she wants to get baptized.  I'm sure that another 5 years seems like forever for her.

I think that Delta is working hard to live up to his baptismal covenants too.  He is being even more helpful around the house.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Don't think about thinking. It's not on the test

Found this cool video and song from Tom Chapin called "It's Not on the Test".   It is mainly a statement about Arts / Music and other creative programs being removed from the schools.

See the website here:

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

History Rotation 1

Creation to Christ

World History
A Child's History of the World (ch 1-41) - Hillyer Read 1 chapter a week, with a few weeks having an extra chapter.
On the Shores of the Great Sea (54 chapters) - Synge Read 1 or 2 chapters a week (avg 1.5)

Canadian History
no Canadian History - do Canadian Geography using Black Line Maps. [more information to come]

Here is a list of what we are doing this year.  I plan to add in other options and other years....

Years 1-3   

Boy of the Pyramid
Pyramid by David Macaulay
The Trojan Horse: How the Greeks Won the War
Our Little Spartan Cousin of Long Ago
Our Little Roman Cousin of Long Ago
Pompeii... Buried Alive!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Another Birthday!

Space Shuttle Cake
My young man has turned 8!  It is hard to figure out where the time went.  It seems like just yesterday that he was a tiny baby in my arms.

This Sunday he will be baptized.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Well, we have had a couple of weeks of school so far, and although getting back into routine has had its bumps, things seem to be progressing.

Delta started cubs last week, and we have gotten him a uniform.  Scouts Canada has changed uniforms this year, so he has a brand new cub shirt.  (In case you are wondering, he will do cubs with our church unit, but he will also do Timber Wolves with BPSA).

Delta Sewing on his Badge
So today I taught Delta how to sew on his own badges.  This will meet some of a badge requirement (I'll need to teach him how to sew on a button....) but most importantly it will teach him the important skill of basic sewing.  He was thrilled to be doing the sewing, and the fact that it was a real project, not just some made-up sewing thing done to teach skills, probably made it even more so.

Badge Sewn On
In school, we are enjoying Right Start Math so far.  We have started Level B, which is very easy for them.  We are doing about 2 lessons a day, and Delta and Echo are doing it together.  Foxtrot often sits in to do math, but after the first lesson or so, it was over her head (which I expected.)  I hope to get Level A for her soon, so she can do math at her speed when she wants.  

Here is Foxtrot singing "Yellow is the Sun"

We are also enjoying reading "Boy of the Pyramids".  Yes, we ended up doing Ancients again.

Now if I can just get my habits going better, so that I can help the children with theirs!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

First Day of School!

(Hm - I seemed to have accidently deleted this post.... trying to recreate the general idea of it.)

Well, another first day of school has arrived, and we are excited.  We are going to be doing more family studies now that Echo is starting Grade 1, and there are some changes in our program that I hope will work out well!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Bunk Room Dream

Well, here is a blog with the Bunk Room of my dreams... (Although we would need a girl version...)

- I'd love to order a 4 bunk girls version for Echo, Foxtrot, Golf (once out of the crib) and Yankee could use the 4th when she visits... And then a 2 bunk boy version for Delta, and Zulu could use the 2nd when he visits.

(Of course, this isn't something your order... you have to build it.)

[somehow the date got changed on this post...]

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Golf's Birthday

It is hard to believe that Golf is 1 already!

She has been slow to eat solids, and wouldn't eat anything homemade at all. I resorted to store-bought baby food because she would eat that. So I wasn't sure how she would do with our traditional Birthday Cake.

The tradition is each child gets their own birthday cake to eat by themselves when they turn 1. It is their first taste of chocolate. (I do take the cake away before they eat enough to get sick.

So, as you will see - she did fine, although she was a bit unorthodox in eating style. And since, she is eating more finger foods. Yeay!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Looking at Rightstart

I have been looking at Rightstart Math over the last couple of weeks, and I do like what I see. Honestly, I had looked at it about 3 years ago, and really liked it then, but couldn't get over the price. So at that time I looked for other options and found MEP.

I do think that MEP is a wonderful program. I like how it gets kids thinking. I have liked how it approached things. I feel it does as good of a job as most math programs for teaching concepts - better than many, and the price was definitely right.

BUT.... over the last few months, Delta has gone from loving math to hating it. He has been struggling, and I have struggled with helping him using MEP. Although I can see what MEP is doing, he doesn't understand why they have him doing various things. And recently I've seen Echo starting to not enjoy math so much.

So, when a conversation about various math programs came up on the Discussion forum on Simply Charlotte Mason, I started looking at what might work better. And I'm sure it comes down to the way Rightstart does math.

Rightstart approaches most math differently than "traditional" math programs. And.... it does a lot of math the way I naturally do it. It uses manipulatives (mainly their special abacus) to learn how to visualize math. And they use games to practice. Sounds like fun to me!

So, to try things out a bit, I made 3 abaci (abacuses... there is debate of the proper plural...). I don't know how long the homemade ones will last, but they work for now... I took larger popsicle/craft sticks for the frame, pony beads for the beads, and bamboo skewers for the rods. I used binder clips to hold everything closed while the glue dried.

We have also tried a card game that is mentioned on the website (just using playing cards) and the kids enjoyed it, and got some practice using the abacus.

So now the only problem.... how to aquire the program?

Friday, June 17, 2011


Just popped in to say that I'm sorry I haven't been posting much. The last couple of weeks have been vacation time for the family. I hope to have something new to post soon!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Foxtrot is 3

So Foxtrot turned 3 recently. Boy does time go by fast. I had to share her birthday cake with you. Of course as we all avoid twaddle (yeah right?) - I'll have to explain. Foxtrot likes "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse" - and the cake is on one of the characters... Toodles. I think it turned out really well.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

History Rotation 2

~500 - 1453

World History
A Child's History of the World (ch 42-60) - Hillyer Read 1 chapter a week (leaves extra weeks free)
On the Shores of the Great Sea (? chapters) - Synge Read 1 or 2 chapters a week (avg ?)

Canadian History
The Story of Canada (ch 1-2)
My First History of Canada (ch 1-2)

Biographies and Fictional History (WORLD)
Do not feel that you need to do ALL of these. You may also pick books from the younger years.
(This list will likely be added to)

This list is compiled from various sources, which I will be using to decide which books my children will read based on interest, abilities, availability, etc. The year placements are approximate.

Years 1-3

Lief the Lucky
Viking Adventure
Stories of the Vikings - Mary MacGregor
Our Little Saxon Cousin of Long Ago - Julia Cowles
Our Little Norman Cousin of Long Ago - Evaleen Stein
Our Little Viking Cousin of Long Ago - Charles Johnson
Our Little Crusader Cousin of Long Ago - Evaleen Stein
Famous Men of the Middle Ages - Haaren
The Door in the Wall
The Minstrel in the Tower
The Whipping Boy
St. George and the Dragon
Sword in the Tree
Brother Francis and the Friendly Beasts
The Apple and the Arrow
Medieval Feast
Castle Diary
Pippo the Fool
William Tell by Margaret Early
Joan of Arc - Stanley
Marguerite makes a Book

Years 4-6
The Vikings
Beorn the Proud
Galen and the Gateway to Medicine
The Shining Company
Adam of the Road
Robin Hood - Pyle
The Red Keep
Joan of Arc (Landmark)
The King's Shadow
King Arthur and His Knights
The Pied Piper of Hamelin
Adam of the Road
Otto of the Silver Hand - Pyle

Years 7-9

Beric the Briton
Rolf and the Viking Bow
For the Temple
The Bronze Bow
The Dragon and the Raven
In Freedom's Cause (Wallace and Bruce)
Scottish Chiefs (Wallace and Bruce)
The Once and Future King
Sir Gawaine and the Green Knight
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
The Pushcart War - Jean Merrill
The Knight's Fee - Rosemary Sutcliff
The Gambage Cup - Carol Kendall
Sir Nigel and the White Company - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Beowulf - Burton Raffel
The Black Arrow - Robert Louis Stevenson
Hereward, the Last of the English - Charles Kingsley
The White Stage
Story of King Arthur and His Knights
The Book of Arthur
The Shining Company
The Magna Charta
In Freedom's Cause: A Story of Wallace and Bruce
The Prince and the Pauper

Years 10-12

Men of Iron
Voices of the Renaissance and Reformation
The Second Mrs. Giaconda
The King's Fifth

Haven't Decided on Year Level Yet

How We Learned the Earth is Round by Patricial Lauber

Biographies and Fictional History (CANADIAN)
Do not feel that you need to do ALL of these. You may also pick books from the younger years.
(This list will likely be added to)

This list is compiled from various sources, which I will be using to decide which books my children will read based on interest, abilities, availability, etc. The year placements are approximate.

Years 1-3
Very Last First Time - Andrews
Dragonfly Kites - Highway

Years 4-6
The Dream Carvers - Clark (Viking boy captured by natives)
Lost in the Barrens - Mowatt

Years 7-9

Years 10-12

Haven't Decided on Year Level Yet

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Solo Day

It was Solo Day at our violin group class... the last group class of the year.

Echo played Allegro....

And Delta played Etude....

I hope you enjoy!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Moving into Summer Schedule

Summer is fast approaching, and we are starting to finish off some of our resources. I don't want us to drop school all together over the summer, but I don't want it to be a full amount of school either. Here is what I'm thinking...

Scouting - finish up the Otter badges for Delta (and work on some for Echo)

Art - I'm thinking of tackling the "Drawing with Children" book with them as a fun set of activities that will improve their drawing skills - hopefully done in a fun way.

Picture Study - I want to do a Canadian Artist... maybe Emily Carr?

Scriptures - continue with readings and memorizing... probably daily

Copywork - probably about 2x a week instead of daily

German - also just a couple of times a week... try for fun things like Sesame Street in German etc.

Literature & Reading Instruction - mostly just leisure reading - maybe pick one book for a family read

Math - a couple of times a week, to keep skills fresh.

Violin - regular practice - mainly review.

Nature Study - lots and lots of this!!!

Phys-ed - a couple of summer sessions of swimming

Nature Study

With the weather being so nice, we had our "Wild Day" early this week. We headed over to the provincial park and happened to see....

A wild turkey out for a walk with her chicks!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Working Together

An e-friend sent me an email asking about combining the family together to do subjects, as she had looked at the year groupings I had mentioned, and realized that generally she will only have 1 or 2 children together in a group at a time. This is my response to her, to help explain what I am planning.

As for combining subjects... next year Delta will be in Year 3, and Echo will be in Year 1 (and then Foxtrot and Golf follow at approx 2 year intervals.) I don't think I have made things totally clear on my blog yet... it is hard to get what is floating around in my head down in writing in a clear way... but let me try. Although my kids will be roughly put into the 3 year groupings (Forms, hm... I really have to find a good word for this...), subjects will be done together in various ways, depending on the subjects.

History, for example, I plan to have everyone in the same time period no matter what Year they are in. We will use the same spine... either for everyone or for years 1-6, and years 7-12 (haven't totally decided yet.) Then Years 1-3 will have some extra books for that time period... probably just a couple, and probably read together... Years 4-6, etc, will have extra books too - probably ones that they will read on their own then narrate.

Shakespeare would be done Years 1-3 together reading the children's story versions. Everyone Year 4+ will do a Shakespeare play together (reading parts). Years 4+ will do Dickens and Plutarch's Lives together too.

Science will also be together for Years 1-6 doing the rotation I put up. After that point, they would probably do science on their own, or possibly Years 7-12 together (depending on what resources I find or choose at that time.)

Literature (other than the bit mentioned above) I'm still mulling over. I think that I will combine the years 1-3 together because so much of their literature is still read out-loud. I suspect that after that, most of their literature will be read on their own, but I'd still like to have a book that we read outloud together.... like a family read out-loud.....

Subjects like Math, learning to read, handwriting, etc. will be done independently because everyone will likely be at different levels and positions of understanding.

Other subjects, like picture study and nature study have always been planned to be done as a family.

This is very similar to the model provided to me by Milestones Academy and Simply Charlotte Mason. It also is what makes sense to me at this point.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Years 1 to 3

This is a work in progress.

As we change to a family style of learning, I need to make changes to the curriculum plans. Although some subjects will be done with the whole family, some will also be done with year groups, or "forms". Years 1-3 will do some things together, also Years 4-6, Years 7-9, and Years 10-12. A few things, like Shakespeare, will be done with Years 4+ together.

So, here are the plans for Years 1-3. (work in progress)

Penny Gardner Storied Scriptures
Scripture Memorizations (your choice)
Reading from Church Magazines
Singing Primary Song (Select 1 per month. Can also sing in Foreign Language or ASL)

Family History (Genealogy)

Natural History/Science:
NATURE STUDY - Can do the Nature Challenge from here. Note that this is the most important science to do at this age range!

("Wild Days" - Karen Radcliffe as a reference for parent)
("Pocket Full of Pinecones" - Karen Andreola as a reference/inspiration for parent)

Christian Nature Reader Book 1, 2, 3 - done individually by each child for reading practice - WHEN child is ready to read it.

Burgess Bird Book / Burgess Animal Book for Children / Secrets of the Woods (1 per year)
James Herriot's Treasury for Children / Pagoo / By Pond and River (1 per year)

Holling C.Holling books (Paddle to the Sea, Seabird, Tree in the Trail, Minn. of Mississippi) over the 3 years
(may add more)

Phonics: (Reading Instruction) - done individually!
See Maple Hill posts on teaching reading
Christian Nature Reader Books at appropriate level - for science as well as reading practice)

Math: - done individually!
We strongly recommend the Mathmatics Enhancement Programme
Another free choice is Khan Academy which is nice for a little change, but can also be a stand-alone online program.

Foreign Language:
We are doing German, but do what makes sense for you. There are free lessons here for Spanish, French, and German. Also recommend getting a few fairy-tales with Audio CD to read over and over.
My Very First Little German Book

There are Scripture Readers in various languages available here. (not all languages listed have the readers). German, at this time, has the New Testament reader. It is in PDF, with MP3's of each chapter. We listen as we look at the pages.

Pimsleur also seems to have good language training.

Our plan is to add another foreign language in each form... Probably French in Year 4, Latin in Year 7, and ? in Year 10. Probably the whole family will be working with the newest language at once, but details are not worked out.


This list is going to be a lot more flexible, and is currently "under construction". We will be mostly choosing books from various lists. I might not have the entire plan for the year worked out ahead. Here are some things I definitely want to do...

"Fairy Tales Every Child Should Know" - edited by Hamilton Wright Mabie (8 per year)
"Follow My Leader" by James Garfield / "Just David" / "Little Lord Fauntleroy" (1 per year)
Aesop for Children by Milo Winter - 1-2 per week for all 3 years

[***] a lot more will go here!

Canadian Literature: (this will be updated soon)

see Canadian Literature Plan


Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare (Nesbit) and Tales from Shakespeare (Lamb) - 9 per year

Writing/Copywork: - done independently
Peterson Directed Handwriting
Selected copywork from readings/scriptures/etc.

Draw Write Now series
1-2-3 Draw books by Freddie Levin - pick 3 or 4,
Drawing with Children
Basic Observation Drawing - some resources

Music(read how-to) [note this How-to is on Milestones Academy]

Recommended - Violin, Piano OR Recorder (inexpensive) OR other similar instruments
Do NOT start more than one instrument at once! We have been doing Suzuki Violin for three or four years before getting to year 1!

- Suzuki Violin [we do this with an instructor ] Recommended Resource "Step-by-Step" series by Kerstin Wartberg

- Suzuki Piano [we do this without an instructor] Recommended Resource "Studying Suzuki Piano: More than Music" by Bigler and Lloyd-Watts
another option is My First Piano Adventures - Information and Video Lesson Guide here!

option for a very inexpensive music alternative, or for the parent that is too uncomfortable trying to teach something else on their own...
Nine-Note Recorder method [note, we haven't tried this yet]

Similar instruction in another instrument. (ie, Suzuki Cello)

Scouting Plan for their age

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Scripture Memory System

We have been using the Scripture Memory System at Simply Charlotte Mason for quite a while, and it has worked well. However, I have recently made a couple of adjustments that work for us that I'd like to share.

With the original, you have new scriptures (or whatever) that you read daily... once they are known, you read them every other day (Odd/Even) and then as you learn more, they get moved to tabs behind Monday/Tuesday/etc.... then eventually to tabs 1-31.... so as you know the scripture more and more, you practice it less often... each day you are reviewing a few scriptures.

The problem we have, is that we aren't totally consistent. Sometimes we miss doing it a day. And there are some days we are more likely to miss (like Friday, which tends to be our "wild" day.) So then, the same scriptures are being missed in the review. I also found when we finished a new scripture, I couldn't ever remember which Odd/Even to change, and which one to change from the weekday tabs, etc.

So, I've made a simple change, which also means we use a lot less tabs! We have a tab labeled "New" (or Daily), one named "Alternate", one labeled "weekly", and one labeled "monthly".

So, behind New, we have our new scripture, which we read daily together. Behind "Alternate", we have 2 scriptures. We read 1, and rotate it behind the other one. Behind "Weekly" we have 7 scriptures. We read 1, and rotate it behind the others. Behind "Monthly" we would have 30 (we aren't there yet!) - and again, rotate through them. Eventually, I'd just increase the number of scriptures we read each day from behind the "Monthly" tab.

As for knowing which one to move to the next section when we learn a new scripture... I've just added numbers to our scripture cards.... so I just need to move the lowest numbered card to the next section.

Oh, and we do use this system for other things we want to memorize. We have put in things like Scouting Promises etc. While learning these types of things, they are added to the scripture ones... so we are always working on a new scripture, but may also have something else we are reading daily.

Hope this helps someone!

Oh, and just to add in - we are doing something similar with our review songs in violin... I used to have a chart - "practice these songs on this day, etc" - but risked missing the same songs over and over. Now our chart is a 6 day chart.... (6 days of practice, 1 of indiv. lessons). Now if we miss a day of practice, the next day we do the practice "day" we missed. So if on Tuesday we did Day 2 practice, then don't practice on Wednesday... on Thursday we would do Day 3 practice. The next week we just start on whatever day we are on.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Free Ebook - Today only

I just found out about an offer to get a free copy of this new ebook, titled "31 days to clean". It addresses the heart issues of doing housework, about which I am looking forward to reading.

If you miss this offer today, the price is only $4.99. Get more information here, and information about the free offer here.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Suzuki Violin Resources

Just wanted to pass on these free resources I found for Suzuki Violin here.

There is a free pack of Pre-Twinkle songs (similar to in Step-by-Step). There are fantastic articles as well, including the first 10 things to teach to a new violin student, and another on repetition that has some good practice games.


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Year K - Updated!

Year K

Year K is designed for 5 year olds, and is provided as a very gentle introduction to schooling. As some areas require a Kindergarten year, this will provide some ideas. I mainly focus on learning to read, write, simple math concepts, and writing... plus working towards listening to chapter books.

Most of the time should be spent outside exploring.

Learn to Read

I like the looks of the Simply Charlotte Mason's "Delightful Reading" but have not bought it as of yet.

In general I suggest doing a combined method. Phonics by itself gets difficult and boring for the student because of the hard work decoding every word. Some students don't learn that you don't HAVE to decode words that you already know. Yet a straight "sight words / whole words / see and say" approach can leave the child with no clue how to read a word they haven't been "taught".

For the phonics side of things, we have used "Teach your child to read in Just 10 minutes a day" by Sidney Ledson. I like some things about this book, but not others. I have also looked at the free "progressive phonics" website and did a bit of it... I like the way they alternate parents and children reading... but the stories are twaddle and although the kids love it, I couldn't stand it after a bit. For my next children, I suspect I will find something else.

For the other side of things, We used the "Dick and Jane" readers
  • (Dick and Jane) - We Look and See (these 3 are reprinted in a Treasury book)
  • (Dick and Jane) - We Work and Play
  • (Dick and Jane) - We Come and Go
  • (Dick and Jane) - Guess Who (Reprinted in a different Treasury book) - ONLY if more practice needed.

Extra if time left in year and child can read the above (also recommended in Year 1)

  • Fun with Dick and Jane (if you can get an old copy. a couple of the stories have been reprinted in a book of the same name)
  • (Dick and Jane) - Our New Neighbours (only old copies available...)


The McGuffy Readers might be fine at this stage.
Note that we don't want to keep using readers for a long time! We want living books. Using the actual Charlotte Mason method to teach reading, you could skip the readers entirely.

  • practice counting, up to 20
  • matching, sorting. (playing cards, socks, toys, etc)
  • MEP Reception Year

Literature (Read Outloud)
These are just some suggestions, and ones we have used. There are wonderful suggestions out there at various sights like Simply Charlotte Mason, Milestones, etc. Find ones that work for your child!
  • Peter Pan (or Peter Pan and Wendy) - James M. Barrie
  • Peter Rabbit, and other Stories from the Compete Works - Beatrix Potter books (more available if you do a search for Beatrix Potter)
  • A House at Pooh Corner - A. A. Milne
  • Thirty-Three Multicultural Tales to Tell - Pleasant DeSpain
  • The Hockey Sweater - Roch Carrier - hear the author read it!
  • Raggedy Ann Stories, or Raggedy Andy Stories (or both)
Canadian Literature:
See Canadian Literature Plan

Peterson Directed Handwriting. We used the Cursive First option within this program, but that is up to you. They have a free 6 week preparation "preschool" program to work on hand strength, directions, working to a rhythm, etc. Then continue with the program.

  • suzuki violin (or other music instruction - read post)
Phys Ed
  • swimming lessons at the Y (or Red Cross)
  • The Children's Book of Virtues - Bennett (Skip the Aesop fables, and "St. George and the Dragon" as they are used later. Also skip "The Little Red Hen if using the Treadwell/Free Primer)
  • The 7 habits of Happy Kids
  • The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
  • Little Bear at Work and Play


Choose based on availability

  • 1-2-3 Draw books by Freddie Levin - pick 3 or 4, (especially "Wild Animals", "Pets and Farm Animals")


  • Draw Write Now (books 1-4)

Kindergarten children can join with older students for things like Music Study, Scripture Study, Picture Study, etc. Take care that you don't overburden them!