Monday, April 21, 2014

A Little Update

The past few months have been extremely busy around The Magnolia Barn as we awaited the arrival of our new baby as well as the completion of our house. 

On March 3rd, we welcomed our third baby girl, Kaitlyn Rose.  She's such a sweet girl and a blessing to our family.  Abby and Summer have transitioned well with the new baby and are such great big sisters!

A few weeks later, after much anticipation, we moved into our new house.  We are still settling in, but are thrilled with the new space and excited to celebrate Easter in our new home and with family.
Easter Collage

Abby and Summer had so much fun hunting for eggs with their cousins!

Eggs in Basket
Summer and Daddy
Isla Easter
Harper Eggs
Abby Basket

They loved their dresses thanks to Styled by Ana Rae.

Summer Basket
And, little Kaitlyn...

Kaitlyn Rose

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Tot School: Winter Theme

Summer is 18 months old.

The last year and a half has flown by so quickly, it's hard to believe our little girl is 18 months old already!  We have been blessed in so many ways and Summer has added such happiness to our family. 

happy baby girl

This week, we did some winter inspired activities.

Summer loves transferring!  We used "ice" to move from one dish to another.   


While she preferred to grab handfuls, we worked on just doing one piece at a time.  She was so proud!

happy girl

Then, she decided she just wanted to pour the "ice."


She explored some winter cookie cutters. Eventually we added some snow playdough...

winter cookie cutter play

We used cotton balls as "snow" to place in a narrow vase.  This wasn't her favorite activity as she got frustrated trying to get the "snow" out.

cotton ball

She loves her bristle blocks!  Actually both girls do...they will play for quite awhile with them.

bristle blocks

And, she loves being read to.  She usually starts out looking through the book herself, then will bring it to either Abby or myself. 

baby reading book

Items We Used This Week

Friday, January 31, 2014

Kindergarten with Abby: Winter Theme

Back in November, Abby began using Math U See: Primer.  When we began, it was a basic review and I almost began to rethink my decision.  However, I am so glad we started and continued with Primer. You can read more about her curriculum here.

math u see work

While over half the lessons were review, I like that it helped increase her confidence in certain areas while slowly progressing to more challenging work.  We are now 5 lessons shy of completing the program and she is definitely being challenged, mainly in the areas of tally marks, making 10 and missing addends.

To help reinforce certain concepts, I looked to Pinterest and found some cute winter themed printables.  You can see my Winter Theme board here.  My favorite printables came from The Printable Princess and were perfect for what Abby needed.

She worked more on base 10.

base 10 winter work

Tally marks...

snowflake tally

Making 10...

making 10 winter work

We used this cute Shape Maze from Gift of Curiosity.

winter shape maze

And worked on Even/Odd Number Sorting...

even odd winter work

We also began using All About Reading: Level One in November.  I am amazed at how quickly Abby has picked up on reading especially blending.  We just completed Lesson 22 and it took us....awhile.  I have to be honest and say the fluency sheets are not something she nor I enjoy.  Of course, that's all part of reading practice with the program.  This particular lesson had two full pages front/back full of words and I had to break it up over several weeks, otherwise her attention span just wouldn't have lasted.

all about reading level 1 fluency sheet practice

all about reading level 1 fluency

She loves literacy activities.  This fun word search came from Gift of Curiosity.

winter word search

word scramble winter work

middle sounds winter work

ending sounds winter work

Abby loves art!  We are currently using Home Art Studio: Kindergarten.

home art studio lesson

We made some easy chilly snow to play with, using this recipe. She had a blast!

chilly snow

Of course, animals had to join in...

chilly snow with animals

And, foam blocks are always a favorite!

foam block play

Items We Used This Week

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Tot School: 15 months

Summer is 15 months old.
It's been awhile since I did an update on Summer.  Currently, we are in the process of building a house, starting a new curriculum with Abby and also expecting a new baby come early March.  Things right now are a little hectic, but we are slowly working on finding time among all the craziness. 

As far as Summer goes, she's been busy climbing, exploring and being a little comedian.  We have a blast watching her learn and grow each day and I love being able to see her and Abby interact together.  Abby has been able to teach Summer some little songs so they can dance together and Summer simply thinks Abby is the best! 

abby and summer new harmony

Recently, I purchased a new shelving unit perfect for Summer's Tot School activities.  It's the perfect height for her and is large enough for trays, when the time comes.  I had this particular setup for a few weeks, mainly because she seemed to enjoy the variety and also I never found the time to rotate the items.  For now, the shelf is in her room and she has access to it all day.  Both girls played together with the items quite a bit, this is just one particular afternoon I captured Summer exploring (where she was interested in playing with me.) 

Top: left to right (screw and nail activity from her workbench, bouncy ball, basket with plastic animals)
Bottom: left to right (jumbo animal puzzle, shape sorter, silk leaves, pumpkin, gourds and metal container)

There were a few items she wasn't too interested in, namely the screw and nail activity and the puzzle. Occasionally, she will attempt to match the animals if she's in the mood, but mainly prefers to scatter/carry the pieces around to various hiding spots.

The shape sorter is a means for her to dump out the shapes and fill it back up.  Some days, she liked pushing the pieces through with help or looking at matching colors.  Stacking blocks into towers to be destroyed is always a favorite.  Same idea with the leaf activity, I thought she would enjoy transferring leaves, pumpkins and gourds and dumping them out.
summer blocks
Her favorite items by far were the ball and animals.  She loves kicking the ball around or having Abby throw it and then chase after it.  The animals (I found at Target when Abby was small) have little buttons with sound mechanisms on the bottom.  She is always happy to be pressing buttons.
summer elephant 2 

summer elephant
summer giraffe
Summer was fascinated by our chalkboard easel from Ikea.  Usually I have this tucked away in the closet, but Abby has become interested in drawing.  Summer decided quickly it looked rather fun and spent some time creating her own art.
summer chalkboard
Items We Used

Friday, November 08, 2013

2013-2014 Curriculum Choices

It's official, our little Abby is in Kindergarten!  I have spent many months researching various curriculum choices and trying to make the best decision for her learning style.  I contemplated many all-in-one options (Calvert, My Father's World, Abeka), but decided to pick and choose various curriculums.  Ultimately, I wanted to choose programs based on her needs, not grade level.  So far, I am happy with our choices and she seems very excited every day.  The only subjects I'm unsure about right now are Science, Handwriting and Writing.  I've got a few programs noted and in the process of researching, but until I reach a decision we will be using a few resources at the library or online. 

All About Reading: Level One

All About Reading has been highly praised for many reasons and I thought it would be a good starting program for us.  I wanted something that would interest her, without being too time consuming for me.  It really is quite simple.  We've just completed Lesson 6 and Abby has made such tremendous progress in such a short period of time.  We try to complete one lesson per day, depending on the length of the lesson.  In just a few days, I have noticed her increasing confidence and enthusiasm with reading.  Plus, she commented the other day how fun it was!

all about reading

Math-U-See: Primer

Abby is a kinesthetic learner, so being able to touch and visually illustrate subjects is key for her.  This program uses blocks to visualize math problems and comes with an instructional DVD she watches with each lesson.  My favorite aspect of this program is it can be used from Kindergarten-12th Grade.  I almost went with the Alpha level, but decided to start with Primer and work our way up.  We are on Lesson 5, which has mainly been a review of counting, geometric shapes and number identification.  It's hard to tell how this will go since we haven't reached new material, but she asks to do math first and loves using the far so good.

Home Art Studio

Earlier this year, we were given the opportunity to review Home Art Studio: Kindergarten.  We completed a few lessons (you can read about that here) and had a good time with it.  But, with her K4 Curriculum we were already doing I decided to hold off until she was done.  We just completed Lesson 3 and Abby loves watching the instructional DVD lessons.  We watch a few minutes, pause and complete what we need to, then continue.  I like that we can go at our own pace and appreciate the simplistic way concepts are introduced.

Bible Study Guide for All Ages: 3-K

If you ask Abby, she would tell you her favorite part of school is bible study.  She absolutely loves it and I love learning along with her.  We reviewed this program a few months ago and it's fabulous!  Instructions are simple, hardly any prep and the story lines are easy to follow along with.  She reviews bible facts with each lesson, has been memorizing the New Testament books and loves singing the different songs.


We've been using Speekee, an online Spanish video program, on and off again since January.  Abby seems to like it, but I am pretty mixed on it.  It seems to cut out here and there or the server is down and unusable.  For now, we will keep using it (until my subscription runs out) and see how it goes.

Little Passports

I love world geography!  It's always been one of my favorite subjects and so Little Passports seemed like such a fun way to get Abby involved.  She was thrilled when she received her suitcase and through the clues (we had to hunt for different capitals and countries), she discovered we will soon be traveling to Brazil.  I have been putting together a South America Continent Box with lots of activities to get her learning.  I'll be reviewing our little adventure soon, so stay tuned. 

abby's map
Theme Based Activities and Printable Packs
Reading books

I'd love to hear suggestions on Science, Handwriting and Writing curriculums that have worked for your family and see if it would be a good fit for us.
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