Posted in Mommy's Bible Time, Spirited Blessings

Family Bible Time


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I’m so happy with the Bible lessons I’ve been doing with my children each morning! I was going for easy planning this year along with something that was budget-friendly (On A Dime, right?). While I really love the A Beka Book Bible series, they were not a cost-effective option for us this school year. I also wanted something that was a little more involved with my children instead of having them sit still and listen to a lesson. I’ve pieced together a few different ideas that seem to be going really well for our little ones (ages 4 and almost 7). By having a few different valid options on hand for us, I can easily hold a study with them with minimal planning and a high interest level.

I keep (almost) everything in a canvas bin that sits near our dining room table. This way, I can easily pull out what I need while they are eating breakfast. By the way, I’ve found that full mouths make for still students! The contents of the basket are as follows:

  • memory verse cards in organized booklet
  • “treasure” boxes and “treasures” for memory work incentives
  • My NASB Bible (on hand, not actually in the bin)
  • My First Bible
  • The God and Me Bible (for girls ages 2-5)
  • My Very First Bible: New Testament Stories for Young Children
  • The Kingfisher Children’s Bible
  • Nave’s Topical Bible
  • The Book of Life series (this is an eight book set, so it sits on our bookshelf)
  • Various board books and small stories from the Bible
  • Lessons printed from Easy Peasy all in one home school (hole punched and placed into a folder)

This year, I’ve kept the planning to a minimum using my handy Bible bin, but that doesn’t mean I’m going shallow. I try and use my Bible first (sometimes that’s all I use) and only read from the children’s versions if I feel they aren’t understanding or sometimes just to add interest.

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We open with a prayer and I begin each morning by going through our current memory verses. I found this AMAZING video on how to keep them all organized. I’m so glad this idea came to me when it did! Our organizer holds the A Beka memory verse cards, their AWANA memory verses, Sunday school verses, and the verses my husband and I are learning in our 2:7 group. This system ensures they are getting the proper amount of time on each of their verses while not overloading them with ALL of them EVERY morning. I encourage you to check out the video here. I made ours using an old pocket planer sleeve. I used larger index cards for the dividers and a rubber band holds it into place.The treasure boxes have helped us so much with our memory verses too. My daughter got a treasure box at the beginning of the month with a little gem in it for completing her memory verse at Sunday school. As soon as I saw it, I knew we would have to continue the tradition! I read Psalm 119:11 to them the next morning, “Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You.” They (especially my youngest) are actually working hard each day to earn the “treasures”. I give them a button to hold in their very own treasure chest each time I’m convinced they have really hidden it in their heart. I place their initials on the back of each card to tell me who has already earned their treasure.

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Next, I pick a “lesson plan”. Yes, usually I pick it right then and there (unless there is a specific character trait or topic I have planned out specifically for a child or particular situation).


Option 1:

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As I stated above, I have the free Easy Peasy lesson plans printed out and placed in a folder for a quick reference. To save on space (and paper and ink), I printed them with four per one side of the page. I can glance at it and know right where to turn in the Bible. When I’m done, I highlight that particular lesson so that I know where we are next time I choose this reading route. I will warn you: If you use this guide by the letter, these are going to be a bit watered down discussions and you will not get the amount of engagement you are seeking. I use this as more of an outline of what to study with them rather than using it as a word-for-word guide.


Option 2:

The One Inch Bible Study“. I flip through my Bible at random and have one child stop me whenever he/she wants. Then, I hold up about an inch using my thumb and index finger. I scroll through the chosen page until the other child tells me to stop. We read whatever inch we land on! Then, we try and work through these four questions:

  1. What does it say?
  2. What does it mean?
  3. What does it mean to me?
  4. What am I going to do about it?

I like this especially for days when we’ve gotten up later than usual (or when they’re scarfing down breakfast abnormally fast), because we can get some content and interest flowing without necessarily spending a lot of time on it. Some days I need that. Other days, however, it takes me by surprise. I’ve had days where the one inch really spoke to me. I’ve also experienced times when a child will take it to the next level asking really thought provoking things about it. Gotta love when that happens!


Option 3:

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As I also mentioned above, we have a series of eight hardcover books entitled “The Book of Life”. It’s an older series created using the unabridged King James version of the Bible categorized and in the form of classical picture books. I found the set at a flea market I recently attended and I talked the vendor down to just $36! I just finished the teacher’s guide and it is AMAZING! It’s a great outline of how to engage your child in bible study. It has fun activities, ideal verses for memorization, beautiful art, timelines, and it even has a full list of positive and negative character traits emphasized in individual Bible stories. It is a book set that I will use for probably the next decade or so. This series really made me rethink the way that we educate children (in general and in the Bible) today compared to how wholesome, in-depth, and quality it used to be. I HIGHLY recommend this book set. If you can’t find the whole set, get AT LEAST volume 8. You won’t regret it!

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I don’t intend on using this the as my most frequent of choices right away, but more as a way to expose them to the King James language a little bit through needed character studies. I will also be using it for referencing in art, timelines, and more.


Option 4:

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Nave’s Topical Bible will also help me with character traits. It’s useful for when I want to into greater detail on a topic we are already in the process of talking about too.


We almost always read something from one of the picture Bibles just for fun. And sometimes I’ll throw in a free printable I find online. Once in a while, I’m even able to sneak a memory verse into copy work later in the day. What home school mom doesn’t love a two-for-one deal?!

What do you do for your quiet time? Any suggestions for our family on a no-to-low budget and minimal planning? I’d love to hear from you!

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Posted in Happy Homemaking, Spirited Blessings

Very Hungry Caterpillar Birthday Party


 

Upon asking Raspberry Bug which theme she wanted for her party she wasn’t quite sure. I couldn’t get her to be decisive this year at all. Until only a month or so ago when she saw my pinterest page.  I was putting together a Summer Learning Board to give me some ideas. I wanted to keep the kids busy with a small amount of effort over the summer moving time while still stimulating their brains. It was there that Red fell in love with this picture (I couldn’t find a link to go along with it):

What a fun gross motor activity to play after reading the book The Very Hungry Caterpillar!:

She immediately said: “I want a caterpillar birthday!” This is one thing I love (and sometimes not so much 😉 ) about Raspberry Bug. She never picks your average Disney princess theme. It has turned out to make some very cute, original, and memorable parties. We’ve had a Hello Kitty party, a ” Hawaii flowers” party, and now a Very Hungry Caterpillar party. Luckily, I was on Pinterest and was able to find plenty more ideas where that came from! We even created a Very Hungry Caterpillar Birthday board together and had a sweet unplanned mother-daughter time that morning <3.

I didn’t do everything on the Very Hungry Caterpillar Birthday board, nor did I stick to very many specifics, but I’ve found Pinterest to be extremely helpful in creating a vision for events like this.

Here’s what I came up with for her feed the caterpillar game:

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They were a bit mangled by the end of the night when I took the pictures, but for a paper bag, they worked for exactly what we’d planned. I placed a bowl full of play foods found in The Very Hungry Caterpillar story in between the two of them and it was that simple. The younger kids kept coming back to this activity throughout the duration of the caterpillar party.

We had an AMAZING spread! I went from worrying that there wouldn’t be enough food the night before to wondering how I would fit it all on the table thirty minutes before the start:

 

I have a special thing going with my children’s birthdays. They get to pick any cake they want with any theme, and I create it . This was actually one of the easiest ones I’ve had to create. Just a circle cake and some cupcakes. Compare that to Master Yoda or to a pirate ship! She did ask me to do a cherry pie, too. It was, after all one of the hungry caterpillar’s favorite snacks. I don’t know if you can see from the picture, but the vent holes in the top were actually cut from a butterfly shaped play dough cutter! The jello jigglers were also cut in the shape of butterflies.

Luckily, I had some fabric from Eric Carle’s line already in my stash. I used the polka dot fabric and the food trim fabric for a make-shift table runner:

I also hung the blocked quilting fabric on the door as a welcome sign of sorts:

 

We used our window seat as a space for people to place their gifts and I hung handmade Very Hungry Caterpillar banners above the area:

 

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Unfortunately, the lighting was not in our favor for photos. I initially wanted to hold the Very Hungry Caterpillar party outside, but it was just too hot for everyone. In case you can’t tell the caterpillars were made from construction paper circles. I put a letter on each section of the caterpillar’s body and punched a hole on opposite sides of each circle. I then strung fuzzy yarn through and tied that to the blinds to create the long, draped caterpillar effect you see here.

I also had an adorable Very Hungry Caterpillar sign on our mailbox to tell people where to turn in. Since we just moved I thought it would be a good idea. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any photos of that.Too bad, really. It was one of my favorite features. It was similar to this:

Very Hungry Caterpillar party tree marker! Adorable:

But our caterpillar was scaled to fit the mailbox and I used large sticky foam cutouts for the letters. That one touch made it very bright and cheery. It also made the letters more visible to the passerby. I’m still kicking myself for not getting pictures.

When I asked the Birthday girl what her favorite part of the day was she said without hesitation that it was pin the head on the caterpillar.

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I love it when they’re still young enough to view presents as a secondary bonus! This was a bit more time-consuming than some of the others (mainly because I was out of color ink and had to grab the markers instead), but this caterpillar activity was definitely worth it.

I just found a Very Hungry Caterpillar I liked from Google Images and then printed it in a 2×6 scale. Then, I pasted it into my paint program, erased the caterpillar’s body, and played with his very hungry head until it was around the same size as the whole caterpillar I made. I then proceeded to color a giant caterpillar and seven more heads… yeah.

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At least they were all one of a kind. On A Dime right?

She loved present opening time (of course). However, I didn’t capture much of that either. Next year I will certainly pull one present down at a time for her. She ripped through them in no time! I mean, she must hold a record or something now.

One of my favorite parts of The Very Hungry Caterpillar party was the dress she wore. A close family friend had one sent over here the night before the party so she could wear it and wrapped a whole other one for her to open at the party. SO PRECIOUS!

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And it twirls beautifully on my four year old!

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Another successful DIY party. Who knew The Very Hungry Caterpillar could be so fun!

 

Posted in Spirited Blessings

I’m Back!- Updates


At some point while living on a boat I decided to give up blogging to allow for more time for my family. The boat (while it was enjoyable in many ways) presented a number of challenges with homemaking and homeschooling that just took more time in general. When I was evaluating my schedule one day, I decided that one thing I could cut out of the timetable would definitely be the blog.

I’ve missed it a great deal, but now I’m back! We’ve moved back to the states and into a house that can allow me to have more free time overall. Let me give you an update on all of the happenings in our humble household.

Blueberry Ball is now six and a half years old and in first grade.  He was ahead by taking kindergarten early, but with changes happening in our family and the timings in everything, it ended up catching up with his age. I’m so proud of him though! He’s doing very well in school and actually finished over a semester’s worth of work in about two months before taking summer break this year. At the rate that he’s blowing through his materials in first grade, he should end up finishing the whole grade level in a half a year. It was amazing to watch him transition from being able to just read one and two vowel words to taking over diphthongs, sight words, compound words, contractions and more. His reading level just exploded! As soon as I gave him harder material he rose to the occasion and simply soared.

 

Raspberry Bug has recently turned four and is currently in the middle of Kindergarten. She was reading three letter words and counting to twenty before her last birthday! We are so blessed. She has always floored me when it comes to pure intelligence and comprehension. For her, it’s exciting enough to be doing the same things she’s seen her brother doing in school. And get this: she actually craves worksheets! I can actually give my second child “busy work” when I need extra time with Blue without feeling guilty about it.

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I can’t wait to see what the Lord has planned for us in the upcoming months and years. I’m so glad to start blogging again as well. Coming up soon: Details on Red’s birthday party, updates on curriculum choices and schedules, summer fun, and more.

Stay tuned for more entries on DIYs, homemaking, organizing, Bible time, and of course, homeschooling, all on a dime!

Posted in Happy Homemaking, Spirited Blessings

Organizing On A Dime (And On a Boat): 2014 Home School Storage


It’s taken me way longer than expected to get a system down that I like especially when it comes to all of our new supplies in relation to what I need to prepare each night for the following day of home school. I spent a great deal of time brainstorming for ideas. I scoured the internet searching terms like “small space home school” and “home school closet organizing”. I found little if anything to help me. When you are talking about thirty total feet of living space, I found that generally people who live in (even a small) average living space have no clue what the term “small space” really means. It got very irritating trying to imitate spaces that I liked and then attempting to fit it into our small space and lifestyle choice.

I eventually rolled my sleeves up last week and completed the task through trial and error. It only took about three hours one evening! It’s one of those things that happen to be more daunting to look at and think about than to actually do.Here’s what I came up with:

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Unfortunately, with our limited counter space, the microwave had to stay there by the fridge.The rest had to be used for schoolwork (despite the temptation to share it with Mommy’s craft items).

1) From the left:

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Plastic shoe boxes are a lifesaver when living on The Armor Of God. We use them for anything from school supplies, to toys, to socks and underwear, to hygiene products. It is an easy way to keep things contained (when we do set sail) and it utilizes all of our vertical space by making everything stack-able. The items I changed around last night have yet to be labeled, but they will be. I (and the littles) need to be able to find everything easily.

From top to bottom, left to right we have:

  • Raspberry Bug’s puzzles, flashcards, and clip cards. These started as just leftovers from Blueberry Ball’s schoolwork last year.
  • The next shoebox (moving downward) holds their chore chart incentives. Each Friday they get a toy (chosen and displayed the previous week) if they completed enough of their tasks.
  • Next we have the one that’s labeled “math blocks”. I have various counters and manipulatives stored here. Anything from seashells, to pennies, to beads and more. They are all organized and separated using labeled zip-top  bags.
  • The next shoebox (top left) is extra pencils along with the teacher’s grading pens, sharpies, and highlighters. These are also separated and labeled in individual zip-top bags. I’m probably going to downsize this one soon as the space is not being used to it’s full potential.
  • Going down, we have the teacher’s box. This holds all of Mommy-teacher’s sticky notes, cue cards, hole punches, tape and glue sticks, and more. Whatever I may need for planning and preparation that I don’t exactly want the children getting into regularly.
  • The last box is larger and not as accessible, but it doesn’t have to be either. It holds all of our craft supplies. Pipe cleaners, pom poms, cotton balls, q-tips, food coloring, homemade and store bought paints, brushes and smocks, extra glue, tissue paper, bubbles,  craft sticks, and more are all kept here. Our art activities are well-planned in advance these days and I can pull it out and dig through it as the kids are sleeping, so I don’t mind it being behind some of the more important things. Our play-clay and some of the other sensory play items are kept in our dock box. Mommy can’t stand play-clay inside anyway =).

The labels I used are from Heart Of Wisdom and Org Junkie.

2) Turning the corner, to the left, we have probably the most important (or at least the  most used) basket.

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This is my “A Beka Basket” where I keep the books that Blue won’t be using in the upcoming lesson, along with visuals, charts and games, and flashcards that had no box with them (I do wish they’d all come with that convenience).

On top of the microwave I have all of the flashcards that did come contained:

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3) The boxes came pre-labeled (thank goodness!) and I separated the “Letters And Sounds” cards from the “Numbers” cards. Behind the microwave, I tucked away the extra large sticker pads and coloring books along with our rolls of art paper.

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4) This is a convenient place for our lap desks and for our step stools (stools come in handy when it’s time to help Mommy-Teacher in the kitchen).

5) This is where Raspberry Bug’s items start. I sort of formed a boat-friendly version of our previous Free Style Art Center. It is mainly used to keep her busy when we are, or throughout the day. She loves to “do school”. Her dry erase/ chalkboard easel goes here along with the abacus, large dominoes, Lacing Cards, and alphabet books.

6)Here is where visibility starts to diminish. Sorry; it really is a tight space.You can’t see the center very well because that’s where the items get shorter. On the left side Red has her Other dry erase boards. She has more of the primary lined ones along with the Leap Frog ones that Daddy was thoughtful enough to buy for her. (We used to diy the dry erase books, but they aren’t as durable.) On the right side, we have worksheets and coloring pages placed in a folder. I pick new ones each school- night so that she can keep busy with her own things during Blue’s lessons. In between these, I have our pencil boxes with dry erase markers placed closest to the dry erase boards and books and colored pencils, markers, and crayons closest to the worksheets and coloring pages. The cutting practice is near the back kind of tucked away. She still needs help with that, so I don’t want it to be too accessible.

7) You can’t see number seven at all . It is a narrow file folder box with a snap- top lid. This holds all of our ABC Jesus Loves Me materials, sight word worksheets, coloring pages and books,  handwriting practice,copy paper, extra notebooks, construction paper, and more. Basically Mommy-Teacher’s grab box for Red’s folders. I don’t have anything too structured for her yet (she’s only two). I pick only things that she can do all on her own to go in her “Free Style School Center” and choose at least three things a week to do with her. This way she doesn’t eat up lesson time I could be using for my K5 student, and she still feels included and accomplished.

This is right beside the fridge which has a small, but very convenient storage and display space:

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Hellow Kitty sits there mainly because she is too cute. She holds our chalk =)

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Sorry for the poor quality; these photos were taken a little later in the evening. Here we have a wooden drawer organizer. I took out one of the removable dividers and placed all of the “Readers” and CDs. Then, close to the front I placed some of our dry erase markers, Mommy Teacher’s grading pens, highlighters and a couple of sharpies into a jar (on the left) The right side holds my sticky notes and my tap dispensers. I will soon Velcro these down so that they can’t move when we are underway. I love the look and convenience of this space most of all!

I placed a magnet on the back of our A Beka-themed task cards and placed it on the fridge. At first it was up higher with our calendar and the rest of our displays, but I found it was much more exciting to Blue when he could mark tasks off on his own.

Here’s how our display is going so far:

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I’m not in love, but it works. I haven’t decided what will work best yet. I may end up doing a magnet board? Or a clip strip of some kind? Maybe a even a Homemade Bulletin Board? Whatever it grows into, it needs to be custom built to fit the uneven shape (It gets narrower the further back it goes.). Any ideas on this would be greatly appreciated!

The blend ladders are massive compared to the size of smooth wall surfaces we have to work with. This is literally the only spot I could find that they fit. Then, we have our weather chart and our calendar. I also placed four dry erase boards up with Velcro. These are primary lined and only have two lines per board, but they are an ideal item for our small display. Artwork simply goes wherever we can cram it in right now. The pride and joy they feel in displaying it makes Mommy-teacher be able to tolerate it.

Overall, I think we have a well-functioning space. And it turned out to be way better than I thought it could have been. All the stress and worry went away when I actually rolled up my sleeves and got to work.

What does you small-space home school look like? Do you have any clever solutions for me? What about pics? I’d love to see your pics =)

Posted in Spirited Blessings

Our First Sailing Trip


She just wanted Mommy’s lap
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“There’s Diamond Head!”

We went sailing a couple of weekends ago. It seems like it’s taken us forever to be able to get out there on any boat (let alone ours). I’m so grateful to our dear friend for taking us out on his boat. The kids seemed to enjoy it for the most part. Raspberry Bug could have had more fun, but I think she was pretty nervous. We tried to explain to her what sailing was, but found that difficult to explain to a two year old. She was fussy for the whole first hour or so. I kept asking her to use her words. Finally, when she did, she said she wanted to stop moving. She was well behaved, all things considered, as long as I kept her on my lap.

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Blue and our good friend. “Hang Loose!”

Blueberry Ball loved the whole day! He got to be captain for a little over an hour. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him focus so seriously on anything before and he only needed minimal corrections! He had a little bit of seasickness near the end, but he was such a trooper about it! We started heading back when he wasn’t feeling so hot, and he was smiling before we made it off the boat =)

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Focused and Very Proud

He had just three rules that day. We kept repeating them on the way to the boat. 1) Listen, 2) Be obedient ,3) Be respectful. He way surpassed my expectations! We left at noon and by the time we got back to our humble aboat it had already gotten dark. Yet, he still listened, obeyed, and showed respect.

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A Smile For The Camera
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The Captain’s Tongue

While the children napped on board, I climbed to the top.

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Just because I can!
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“Ok, Hubby, Take the Pic Already So I Can Get Down.”

When they woke up, we had lines in the water.

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“Touch It!”

We had SOOOOOOO much fun! I can’t wait to do it on “The Armor Of God” (our 29′ Cascade)!

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View of Honolulu
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Our gorgeous view from WAY out there

It was by far the best field trip yet!

Posted in Home School How-Tos, Spirited Blessings

Homeschool How-To #9: Combining Two Lessons Into One


Combining Two Lessons Into One

How I Do It

There are a number of ways you can go about combining two lessons into one. I’ll show you how we do it for our A Beka home school plans, and you can feel free to adapt it to suit your child, your curricula, and your individual needs.

First,  you need to be honest with yourself as parent and teacher. Can your child keep up with the pace or will you be burning him out? Is there a need academically or socially to keep up with the lessons the way they are written on the calendar? Or does he simply need more to occupy his time or more of a challenge? Consider these things carefully before adding anything more to his workload.

I start with the A Beka Teacher Plan book. If you didn’t order this book, or if you are using a different curriculum, you could substitute with graph paper or simply make a list in a notebook. I do, however, love the way that this book is organized.

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I don’t use it for it’s intended purpose. When you combine lessons using this book, you tend to run out of room. I use it to organize a list of things that I will need for the upcoming lesson. This way, I can grab it all at the same time and place it in his backpack for the next morning.

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I can’t be searching around our tight home school space for every little flashcard or game as I need it. The backpack helps us both stay organized and focused on the tasks at hand.

Next, I take my graph paper (I like the composition notebooks best) and I write down my “To Do List”. You could do all of this on the computer, however, I personally find it easier to keep in mind during the day’s lesson if I have physically written it down before hand. To each his own.

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I Arrange it by subjects in the same ordering that one lesson would be in. For instance, I will write down everything in two phonics lessons into one category, then continue on to phonics review, then numbers, etc. This keeps me from having to go back and forth in the teacher’s manual from one lesson to the other. Rather, I have all of the same information written down in the format of one fluent lesson.

Keep your child’s personal needs in mind as you go through the planning process. It may not be necessary to repeat two of the same activities in one day as written in the manual for two separate lessons, or you may choose to add some extra repetition in one area or another to ensure he is keeping up with the pace. For instance, my son is a whiz in the “Numbers” subject and doesn’t need to be drilled so much in number recognition or basic counting. We usually go through this subject rather quickly, more in the form of review. However, When it comes to “Letters And Sounds”, he needs every bit of drilling we can squeeze in. I don’t skimp in this area, as I know how much he needs the practices. If the same activity is used in two different lessons (this is often the case with flashcards, for instance), we simply do it once near the beginning of the phonics block and again near the end.

This is, after all, the beauty of home school. You should always tailor and adapt materials to fit your students needs.

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