Abeka Lesson Organization

Sunday, February 22, 2015

A few posts back, I shared my thoughts on Abeka: First Grade.  While I'm starting to get the hang of it and our days are going much smoother, that wasn't always the case.  I went in with one idea and was quickly wondering what I had gotten myself into.  Long story short, after accumulating all the "optional" materials things improved greatly, but organization was still a huge issue.

I began browsing online to see how other homeschooling families organized their Abeka lessons.  I simply wanted to have some understanding and starting point. I wasn't having much luck until I came across this post which was helpful.  I took the idea of a file system and decided to give it a try by creating a smaller version.

Filing System

My idea and main objective was to, at least, get a six week grading period organized.  This meant heading to Target to look for inspiration.  I happened upon a wooden file holder and some cute hanging file folders.  I then used simple manila file folders and created labels for each.  For my trial run, I decided to label by weekday.  I made 6 sets of Monday-Friday folders and put each week in a hanging folder.


You could also do this by lesson number, if you prefer.  I then tore out all worksheets needed for that particular day/lesson.  For example, if this specific Wednesday is Lesson 56 then all Lesson 56 paperwork would be included.  Pretty simple.  To simplify further, I stapled all seatwork papers together, including a tablet sheet.  Daily sheets (like math or the occasional spelling paper) are paper clipped to the seatwork packet.  The stapled packet takes care of two days of seatwork (one lesson on front, another on the back) and Abby can hold on to the seatwork packet until it is completed on the second day.  All finished paperwork is then filed away in a plastic container.


I also use this same system for Summer's Tot School Printables.  Each letter has a folder, which is filed by the specific week.  It helps keep them easily accessible and helps me know which letters are coming up.

As we continue to progress through the curriculum, I'm open to modifying this system.  But for now, it's helping so much.

I'm curious, how do you organize your lessons?

Link & Learn

Tot School: F is for Foot and Doc McStuffins Theme

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Summer is 30.5 months old.

This week we continued using Tot School Printables from 1+1+1=1 and focused on the Letter F.  I love how excited she gets when I ask if she wants "to do school." 

Since Summer loves coloring so much, I started her off with the coloring sheet.  She prefers to color all at once, so one day we colored and the next few days we played a game to locate colors.



She matched her foam shapes to the pictures.

Shape Match

Shape Match 2

She also has a slight obsession with dry erase markers...no idea where she gets that from and enjoyed the prewriting practice sheet.

dry erase board

One day, I pulled a few Valentine's Day inspired activities for her.  She practiced gluing the foam hearts and lacing. 

Glue Heart

Gluing Heart

Heart Placing

Lacing Heart


The vocabulary focus this week was parts of the body. My girls are fans of Doc McStuffins so I thought it might be fun to incorporate that into our week.  I had some happy girls!


I used an old workbench for the checkup center and set up all the Doc McStuffins toys we had and a few books.  I filled the basket with animals and baby dolls and Summer (and Abby) loved it!

Setup 4
Doc McStuffins Doll | Doctor's Bag

Setup 3
Doctor Coat | Book of Boo Boo's

Setup 2
Dora the Doctor | Corduroy Goes to the Doctor

Doctor Play

Playing Doc

Playing Doctor

Looking For Previous Weeks?

Letter A
Letter B
Letter C
Letter D
Letter E

Hip Homeschool Hop | Weekly Kids Co-op | Link & Learn | Tot School Gathering Place | Montessori Monday

My Thoughts on Abeka First Grade

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

We began using Abeka in September 2014 for Abby's first grade year.  I've always been somewhat curious to try a boxed curriculum and had looked into several options before ultimately deciding on Abeka. Abeka is a well-known and highly respected program that is also used in local private Christian schools.  And, I liked the idea of a complete curriculum delivered right to my door step.

Up until Kindergarten, we had used free or low cost resources online which were fabulous and did exactly what I needed them to do.  For her Kindergarten year, we purchased a few things from various companies and they worked well, too.  This go around, I wanted something that was "done" if you will.  I knew schooling a 6 year old with two younger children would be tricky and my husband's schedule leaves us girls on our own about 90% of the time.  In other words, I needed something low maintenance which would allow me to get everything else done in a given day.

I read a lot about Abeka, talked with some people that used it, visited an Abeka booth and I felt good about selecting it.  When our kits arrived, I was pretty excited as was Abby.

However, when I opened the lesson plan manuals my head began spinning.  I was not sure where to start or how we were going to make sense of all the information.  Our Kindergarten day took about 2 hours, which worked perfect during nap time, but first grade was definitely going to take more than 2 hours.  Plus, I was attempting to throw in a few extras that looking back on now...I just laugh.  For a first timer to Abeka, my excitement turned to worry.  Eventually, I was able to wrap my head around what I thought was a great schedule and began planning and organizing. 

But then we started...

At the time, we were doing school in our kitchen like most people.  I had books, homemade flashcards and manipulatives scattered all over the place.  I'm not entirely obsessive about everything being totally neat and organized, but it was just a chaotic mess.  And, on top of all the STUFF required for each lesson, there were "optional" items I decided not to purchase that in all actuality were totally necessary.  I was irritated, unprepared/unorganized (when I worked for weeks to make sure I was) and trying to hand make the "optional" items was just not working.  Our school day was turning into a 6 hour day and I was literally driving myself CRAZY!  I'm lucky that Abby is pretty understanding and just rolls with whatever. 

Finally, I was over it after about five weeks of chaos and decided to visit a local homeschool consignment bookstore.  If you're in the Southern Indiana/Western Kentucky area I highly recommend talking with Pam Dailey of Dailey Bread Book Store.  I called her and told her exactly what I needed.  She pulled the items I was looking for and I was able to get most of what I needed within a day or so of speaking with her at a discounted price.  The items she didn't have on hand, I was able to order directly through Abeka. 

Once we received all the items, things began to get better.  I wasn't as irritated and we were able to start getting into somewhat of a routine.  I ditched the lesson manual idea of a suggested daily schedule because let's face it...it was NOT working and I also stopped looking at the suggested times for each subject.  The more familiar I became with each subject and how long it took for us I was able to gauge when to do certain subjects.  I like variety so every day we switch it up.  I know what subjects we can do with a toddler and baby around and I know which ones I need to save for nap time.  I also re-evaluated the seatwork portion of Abby's day.  We do maybe half of the recommended tasks.

My point is...it's hard as a new homeschooling parent to get wrapped up in "going by the book" or trying to do what another homeschooling family does.  I'm guilty of it.  Blogs and Pinterest have a deceiving way of making a homeschool day look perfect and fun. While some days are fun and go rather smooth, some days don't.  There are days we get everything done and other days we split one day up into two days.  I'm ok with that now. 

Abby is doing well with Abeka and enjoys it. I really like the colorful readers and worksheets provided which help keep her attention.  Obviously, there are some things I don't like.  Will we use Abeka in the future?  I don't know.  Right now, we will continue to work our way through and re-evaluate closer to summertime as she moves into second grade. 

Tot School: E is for Egg

Friday, January 30, 2015

Summer is 30 months old.

In October, we began working on a new space downstairs that doubles as both my office and the girls' school room. During the transition, we were in the middle of our Letter E activities and all that just kind of went out the window.  We moved downstairs, got to organizing, trying to make sense of all the toys, manipulatives, books and STUFF and it was overload BIG TIME.  Then, Christmas came around and the mostly finished office/school room became giftwrapping central.

So..now...late January..I'm finally sharing our Letter E activities that span over several months and enthusiastically looking forward to Letter F!

Summer is a natural at being in the kitchen.  She enjoys shadowing me while I make dinner and even sits with me while we watch my all-time favorite cooking show, Barefoot Contessa.  What can I say...she's been immersed since birth.  With food being a vocabulary theme for Letter E, I knew she would have a great time playing kitchen.

I shared this photo several months ago on Instagram.  I love her serious face and how content she is playing. 

Summer Kitchen2

To be honest, it's hard finding time to sit and play with her...just her.  As much as I'd love to say I've got a certain time blocked off for just her and I to spend together, we don't.  Most days, I'm wrangling a 10 month old who likes to grab anything and everything while attempting to keep an ever so curious 6 year old focused on her work.  It's something that I've challenged myself to do on a more regular basis.

Right now, I'm using these printables as a base for what we do.  As the weeks go on, I will most likely add more Montessori based activities, but while we continue to get aquainted with our new space I will probably stick with the printables for convenience and simply because she really enjoys them.

The matching cards and vocabulary cards are always a hit.  She will do these over and over until she decides she's through or agrees to try something different. 

Matching Eggs

We used this particular sheet to circle the eggs. 

Circling Eggs

Puzzles are always a favorite...

Fruit Puzzle

And of course, coloring...she LOVES it!  I'm amazed at how much she picks up from Abby and just by listening.  She completed this sheet by herself and named most of the colors as we moved through it.

Coloring Eggs

Finished Picture

In case you missed it:
Letter A
Letter B
Letter C
Letter D


Monday, January 26, 2015

Hope everyone had a great weekend!  It's been awhile since I sat down to blog and I've truly missed it. 

Last year was such a big year for our family, with both good and a few not so good events which led to several long breaks in between posts. However, I hope to change that very soon and I do have some big plans to share with you.

IMG_0509 l

Until then, here's what we've been up to.  Kaitlyn recently turned 10 months old and is on the move.  She loves following Abby and Summer all over the house and she's such a funny, sweet little girl.  Summer (2) has grown up so much in the last few months.  She's full of spunk and has grown her vocabulary SO MUCH!  Being able to communicate with her has helped on so many levels and it's just incredible to hear all she has to say...which is ALOT!  And, Abby (6) is currently in the first grade.  We are still homeschooling which I love!  In October, she began participating in a homeschool gym/swim group through the YMCA and last week she began a monthly class at a local nature preserve.  She is having a lot of fun this year!

IMG_0512 L

I can't wait to see where 2015 takes our family and while I'm a few weeks late...better late than never. 

Happy New Year!

VTech Bundle Pack Review and Giveaway

Sunday, November 09, 2014

With Christmas right around the corner, I know many of you with young children will appreciate this post.  Over a month ago, we received a generous bundle courtesy of VTech to review with not one, but four exciting products from their line of fun interactive toys for infants, toddlers and preschoolers.  Here's a look at what's included:  VTech® Chomp & Count Dino™, Sit-to-Stand Smart Cruiser™, Grow-Along Music Center™, and Smart Shots Sports Center™!   
Best of all, one of my readers will have the chance to win their own bundle set below.

Disclaimer:  All products, product information and giveaway items are courtesy of VTech.

The Chomp & Count Dino is the perfect learning toy for toddlers and preschoolers.  Children have the opportunity to learn about colors, numbers, and shapes with the various features including the spin wheel and numbered buttons.  It's fun to note the Dino recognizes the eight brightly-colored "food" pieces as it's being fed.  The shapes land in the tummy which also acts as a storage area for easy clean up!  I love that VTech makes the "food" pieces just the right size for small hands while also being large enough to not pose a choking risk to younger children or babies.  The Dino also has a question button at the top of its head which gives your child the chance to answer a question using the buttons to see what he/she has learned.  My toddler loves pulling the Dino around with the attached string wherever she goes and listening to the fun melodies.  The Chomp & Count Dino target age range is 12-36 months and retails for $19.99, which is a great value!

VTech's Sit to Stand Smart Cruiser has been a favorite among all my girls!  While the target age range is 6 to 36 months, my 6 year old has equally as much fun.  The cruiser includes a fully interactive learning wheel with several modes and is packed with more than 80 songs and tons of features.  My girls love singing along and interacting!  The wheel sends your child on multiple locations while also teaching directions and the attached gear shift and horn offer a realistic effect for even more fun play.  My favorite aspect about this toy is the removable wheel!  It simply clicks in and out of place. While my toddler (or 6 year old for that matter) rides around the house, the baby can enjoy her own interactive experience with the fun wheel!  Another great feature of the cruiser is the easy lift seat which raises to allow your child to stand and also for toy storage on-the-go.  This toy does require assembly and my husband noted the screws seemed to strip easily, but said it could also have been him and wasn't a big deal.  VTech's Sit to Stand Smart Cruiser retails for $39.99.

Next, we have the Grow Along Music Center which has a target age range of 12-36 months and retails for $29.99.  My 6 year old was so excited to get her hands on this one!  We waited for my husband to assemble it one evening and they play with it often.  The adjustable base is great for multiple ages.  The toy is fully interactive featuring bright colors, catchy melodies and flashing lights.  The toy also features a microphone and wacky voice change option.  Like most VTech toys, this one includes various modes for learning and sing-along that your child can easily alternate between with the flip of a button.  I will say the child has to be very close to the microphone to hear any type of effect, but my girls do not seem to mind at all.

I saved the best for last!  The Smart Shots Sports Center has become a family favorite.  The 2-in-1 electronic sports center features both a basketball hoop and soccer goal along with a basketball and soccer ball.  Assembly was very quick, just click a few pieces together and you are done.  The magic sensor and screen provide fun encouragement, praise, lights, sounds and music.  I appreciate the fact the balls are small enough for my toddler to easily handle and are made out of a rubbery plastic material that will not pose a risk to our 8 month old, but is light enough for indoor play.  The sports center also includes buttons to help your child learn shapes, opposites, numbers, colorful gear shapes to move and more.  The target age range is 12-36 months and retails for $39.99.  The whole family can join in and this is by far the most used, especially by my two year old who loves kicking the ball.

Ready for a chance to win a bundle set
 courtesy of VTech?  Enter below...

Tot School- D is for Duck

Monday, October 06, 2014

Summer is 26 months old.

Summer is loving her 'cool' time!  It's been a good way for us to spend some quality time together and she's so eager to participate, reminding me occasionally if our normal routine gets off track.


Our focus this week was D is for Duck and a bird theme.  Here's her setup...

Top: Rice Sensory Bin, Books, Themed Animals
Top Left to Right: Stacking cups, Pom pom transfer to colored containers, Alphabet letter match
Bottom Left to Right:  Shape match to go along with sensory bin, Bristle blocks, Tot School Printables with dot markers

She started off the beginning of the week using her hands to transfer the pom poms into the matching colored containers.


Towards the end of the week, I added some tongs.  She mostly played with them...


Then, she figured it out.



Building towers with her stacking cups...


The rice bin was a fun experience!  She added in her yellow ducks and played for awhile.

I love the bright, bold color of the rice.  Here's how we made it!  

Bright Rice words

Then, she wanted her stacking cups for pouring.


I hid a few shape cutouts in the rice bin for her to search for and match with another set on her tray.  She wasn't too interested in that idea.


She also wanted to paint during art time...ALOT!  My oldest is currently using Home Art Studio: First Grade.  You can read more about the curriculum here.


And, she spent time playing with some toys we are reviewing.  You can read more about them here and enter for a chance to win a bundle pack of 4 VTech toys!


Looking for Summer's previous weeks of Tot School?

A is for Apple
B is for Ball
C is for Cat

Items We Used This Week