Saturday, August 1, 2015

Goodnight Moon - Before Five in a Row

My little Eleanor is so adamant that she do school, so I'm really glad I bought the Before Five in a Row manual several months ago.  When she fell in love with Goodnight Moon I knew I had to pull the manual out and row this book.

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M is for Moon 
We colored some of this M is for Moon coloring page together, and she glued a googly eye on, then I cut it apart for her folder.  (She already knows her letters and most sounds, but coordinating them with B4FIAR when possible will be good reinforcement.)

S is for Star
We say goodnight to the stars in the book, the boys were learning about stars in science, and she had star stickers calling her name, so I went with it.  I used a couple S is for Star printables.  She loved saying "sssss" as she was putting the stickers over the letters.  We actually had to do two of these, so I cut one out for her folder.

We've been practicing matching activities by tracing with our fingers, so I offered her a tracing page for the first time.  I guided her through the first one.  After that she understood how to go left to right in a (mostly) straight line, even if she wasn't actually tracing.  Then she drew her own lines!

Nursery Rhymes - Hey Diddle Diddle
We recited this rhyme several times.  She and I colored the pieces from this Hey Diddle Diddle Book and I cut them apart to create a sequencing activity.

Goodnight Moon Game
"FROM MY BOOK!"  She was beside herself with excitement when I pulled out the Goodnight Moon Game for her.  I had completely forgotten about it until she fell in love with the book.  We played our own version, and she had so much FUN!  This is such a fun age!

She knows her shapes, but we looked for them throughout the book.  She also enjoys playing Shape Bingo on the Kindergarten Bingo app from ABCya.  Then I just happened to come across these cute Shape Match Cards on Pinterest.  I print two sets so I could cut one apart.  She took the cut out shapes and matched the "faces" to the cards.  Then I gave her bingo chips and showed her how to use them.  As you can tell, she wanted to match up the bingo chips by color too.

So when she finished, she matched all the bingo chips she could find by color.

Three Little Bears
I said something about the "three little bears" and she chimed in "sitting in chairs..." so I gave her three little bears and three little chairs.  She lined them up.  She sat them in their chairs.  She put them in front of their chairs. She put them back in the chairs.  Lots of fun, I tell ya!

Counting Stars
She's a letter whiz, but she is also enjoying learning to count.  ;-)  She really liked this Counting Stars booklet.

Red Balloon
We played with a red balloon, of course.

She loves to dot paint, so she loved making a red balloon.

Folder Fun
I've never really gotten into lapbooks with the boys, but I decided this simple version would be easier for her.  I can store them upright in a magazine rack and she can explore them easily.  I printed a cover of the book for the front, but I think I'll print b/w pictures for her to color for covers from now on.

Additional Books
These are her current favorites, and they just happen to fit the theme.  She's really into bedtime books right now I guess.
Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathman
Little Owl's Night by Divya Srinivasan
Good Night, Sweet Butterflies: A Color Dreamland by Dawn Bentley (and other books in the series are favorites too)

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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

With Lee in Virginia {Schoolhouse Crew Review}

If you're a regular reader around here, you'll recognize the name Heirloom Audio Productions, and you probably won't be surprised that I was thrilled to review another of their titles.  This time, it's With Lee in Virginia!  We received not only the 2-disc CD set, but a beautiful study guide and some other bonuses as well.

What's Included?
There are different purchasing options, but the basic package ($29.97 + s/h) includes the 2-disc set and three bonuses.  You'll receive a high quality digital study guide, a printable poster with a quote by Robert E. Lee, and an MP3 download of the official soundtrack scored by John Campbell.

The Story
With Lee in Virginia is the third in a line of high quality audio dramas, based on the historical fiction work of G.A. Henty:  With Lee in Virginia, A Story of the Civil War.  Obviously this is a war story, but it is also a story of courage, of honor, and of duty.

As I expected, the story immediately comes to life the moment it starts.  Sound effects, music, talented voice actors (Sean Astin, Kirk Cameron, Chris Anthony, Kelsey Landsdowne and Jim Weiss are some names you might recognize) make this a truly amazing listening experience.  We're introduced to a boy on the brink of adulthood, fifteen year old Vincent Wingfield.  He was from a well-established plantation in Virginia, and the year is 1861.  Vincent finds himself on an "adventure" when he joins the Confederate army.  He battles alongside many famous Confederate generals, with Robert E. Lee of course being one of them.  Lee is an inspirational leader, and Vincent learns he has to take a stand for what really matters.  Just like the other stories we've experienced from Henty, the main characters experiences physical and moral struggles.  He's injured, he's captured, he's betrayed, and yet he still finds his way to displaying virtuous character traits.  It's hard to tell you too much about the plot of a book without giving too much away, but what you should know is that Heirloom Audio Productions puts you right in the setting of the Henty books.  You don't just listen to a war story.  You're transported right there to the battlefield to experience those battles, to feel their pain, to experience their emotions.

The Study Guide
One thing that really sets Heirloom Audio Productions apart from regular audio books (aside from their fabulous quality) is that the stories come with an excellent Study Guide and Discussion Starter.  The With Lee in Virginia study guide is 30 pages of questions and assignments.  This study guide includes short biographical sketches of Henty, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, a map of famous cities and battlefields referenced in the story, suggestions for additional readings on Lee, and two Bible Studies--one on Duty and one on Loving Your Enemy.  The bulk of the study guide, though, is where each track has its own set of material.  For each track, there are three sections called Listening Well, Thinking Further and Defining Words.  These are questions with varying degree of difficulty and vocabulary words.  These are the "assignments" so to speak, and the heart of the study guide.

How We Used It
I would suggest listening to the whole production all the way through (because you won't want to stop!) and then listening to one track at a time to answer the accompanying study guide questions.  My kids are younger, so typically we would use a study guide like this together, with me picking out questions that would help illustrate they key points I wanted to focus on.  This time was a little different though.  I didn't use the study guide with the kids at all, because I had to listen to almost the entire story alone.  I loved this story just as much as the others, but the kids had a different reaction.

Early in the story, there are a couple of violent episodes against slaves.  My 8 year old became very distraught and finally asked me to turn it off.  He is not usually this sensitive, so I don't know if it was because it was a woman, or if it was the crying baby, or if it was the repeated acts of violence against humans, but he was adamant that he was not listening to it anymore.  (Then of course the 5 year old followed suit.)  I tried to turn it on a couple more times, after some serious discussions, but it just wasn't the right time.  I could tell it hurt his heart to know that people were treated that way.  It opened up a whole line of dialogue, though, about human nature, slavery, abolitionists, how we treat others, and ultimately what our religious and moral beliefs say about loving others.  Although they weren't ready to listen to this story, I did choose to follow up with a study on The Underground Railroad, to show a different side of the hearts that others had during that part in history, so it was still a good learning experience.  With Lee in Virginia will be waiting until they are ready.

Would I Recommend It?
Yes, I would still recommend With Lee in Virginia.  If you're studying the Civil War or Virginia history, if you're interested in wars in general, if you just like good audio dramas . . . this is a fantastic resource.  In fact, I would recommend all of the Heirloom Audio Productions so far.  I would caution you preview them first if your children are sensitive, due to the sometimes graphic scenes, but they are great for homeschooling, and great for families.

With Lee in Virginia Audio Drama Review

Previous reviews of Heirloom Audio Productions that we have done include Under Drake's Flag and In Freedom's Cause.

To find out more, check out With Lee in Virginia and Heirloom Audio Productions on Facebook, as well as Google Google +, and Twitter.

With Lee in Virginia Audio Drama Review
Crew Disclaimer

©2011-2015 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Homeschooling Together: Family Curriculum Choices 2015-2016

Even though my children are each a few years apart in age and grade level, I still like for us to do some of our homeschooling together.  They obviously have individual needs for some subjects, but there are still so many subjects we can do as a family.  It simplifies things for me, and brings us together more.  The beauty of homeschooling.

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CORE - Unit Studies
I will primarily be using Five in a Row for our Science, Social Studies and Language Arts, as well as applied Mathematics and Art.  Nothing beats a living book.  I have tentatively planned out Five in a Row for the year, but I know that outline is subject to change.  I'll adjust it for each child and their specific needs, but it's so much fun, so diverse, so rich . . . and I'm looking forward to another fabulous year using this curriculum.  The unit studies will be for the boys, though Eleanor is welcome to join in whenever she wants.

I want to do some chronological world history, so I will be using the audio version of Story of the World.  I contemplated doing the full curriculum, but I don't want it to detract from the richness of FIAR at home.  Chronological history programs doesn't always touch on so many of the other areas of "social studies" that are important.  We spend a lot of time in the car during the school year going to classes and co-op and such, so we are always looking for new audio books.  I felt like the audio book would be a good fit for our current needs, and should they want more, I can always get additional readings or the activity guide.

I will have a review of Science Unit Studies for Homeschoolers and Teachers coming soon, but for now I will say that this book will be great for pulling extra science ideas.  It compliments FIAR, but it can also be used independently for a hands-on science curriculum.

Nature Study
We do a lot of informal nature study all year long, and I try to tie it into our unit studies whenever possible.  I would like to do more nature journaling, but we just haven't found our way there yet.


I am in love with Maestro Classics (after being introduced through a review) and have been slowly adding to our collection.  I intend to own them all.  They serve a wide age range, and they are entertaining and educational.  I'm creating a composer study around my latest purchase (Swan Lake-Tchaikovsky) and if that goes well I'll continue to do composer studies around their titles.


ARTistic Pursuits
We have all three Elementary K-3 Books from previous reviews.  We are working through them slowly.  Very slowly.  I'm not as consistent as I would like to be with art instruction, but I'm hoping to create a schedule (shocker, I know!) to make sure these "extras" aren't treated as extras, and get the time they deserve.  Eleanor doesn't usually do the lessons, but she uses the same materials, or inexpensive versions of them anyway, at the table with us for exposure.

ARTistic Pursuits Review

Art for Kids Hub
I don't have to schedule Art for Kids.  The boys pull up this website frequently on their own when they want to spend time drawing.  It is a FANTASTIC resource, and I love that they can do it indepdently.

Foreign Languages
Since the kids will be doing Spanish and Sign Language at co-op, I want to supplement at home.  We've always dabbled in Spanish, but I hope to stick with it this year.

American Sign Language
We will start with Signing Time for a fun introduction, particularly for the Preschooler and 1st grader.  By the time my 3rd grader takes the class, we will hopefully have found something more appropriate for him.

SALSA Spanish is a completely FREE online program for kids through third grade, which is my age range.  We'll definitely use the videos, and I'd like to use some of the PDF activities as well.  Right now my goal is conversational Spanish.  We'll move into grammar and written Spanish later.

I'm not sure what we'll get into in terms of sports this year, but they'll be in AWANA again, as well as co-op.  Our co-op is hoping to offer weekly clubs as well, but our participation will depend on what is offered.  This is a tentative schedule, and the boys will actually switch classes second semester, so there will definitely be a wide range of exposure!
Eleanor - Preschool
Emory - Sign Language, Geography, Music/Dance, and PE
Elliott - Art, Science, PE and Spanish

So now you know what we'll be doing as a family.  I'll be sharing their grade level curriculum choices soon!

©2011-2015 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.