Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Happy Birthday, Summer!

Our little Summer turns two years old today!  These past two years have flown by, as I suspect many of you can relate to.  She's a tiny package of answered prayers that we've been blessed with.

New folder
She prides herself on being silly and is quite adventurous in acrobatics and climbing.  While small in stature, she makes up for in attitude and willfulness.  She has a gentler side and can be quite nurturing while playing with her babies or loving on her sisters.

Her vocabulary is growing daily and she enjoys talking on the phone, singing and reading any book she can find.

2 years old
What a difference a year makes...

11 months

1 year old

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Now on Instagram

The Magnolia Barn is now on Instagram!  Be sure to follow along with us for a behind-the-scenes look at our day to day lives and first glances of what's to come.


Thursday, July 03, 2014

Updated 2013-2014 Curriculum Choices: Additions and Subtractions

As mentioned in previous posts, we took a mid-year break from schooling with the birth of our daughter and moving.  With just weeks left before we wrap up Abby's current Kindergarten year, I wanted to share some curriculum changes we have made up to this point.
This post contains affiliate links, please see my full disclosure policy at the bottom of the page.

What We Kept:

I have been impressed with the skills Abby has picked up since the beginning of the program. With just a few lessons remaining, she is reading compound words with little difficulty and has begun to recognize plural forms along with open/closed syllables. She seems to enjoy the lessons and is enthusiastic about reading. As for me, I like being guided through the lesson and teaching with very little prep work.

Math U See

We finished Primer about a month or two ago and went straight into Alpha.  Abby seems to really enjoy this program and grasps the concepts easily.  My only minor complaint so far is the lack of focus on money at this level.         

Home Art Studio

This is a favorite!  Abby looks forward to our weekly lesson and has been requesting to do it more frequently.  In the coming weeks, we will be completing two lessons per week.  I already have Home Art Studio: First Grade and Holiday Arts and Crafts in hand to begin when we finish the Kindergarten DVD.  I can't wait to share our experience!


Bible Study Guide For All Ages: 3-K

Abby loves the Bible stories!  We complete a new lesson twice a week and recently finished our first set of student pages.  I had forgotten all about ordering the second set of pages and she was heartbroken.  I immediately went on their site and was able to purchase, download and print her new pages in just a few short minutes.  Phew!

Nancy Larson Science K
I absolutely love this program!  We are over half way through the lessons and Abby looks forward to science on a daily basis.  With her summertime activities, we have shifted to doing science about 2-3 times per week.  The lessons are short, engaging and thorough.  You can read more about our experience here.


I waited until we were a little over halfway through All About Reading: Level One before purchasing AAS.  I wasn't sure what Abby would think, but she actually asks to do it....daily!  Needless, to say we have just completed Level One.  The program is phenomenal and requires practically no prepping from me.  She has mastered all 26 phonograms and their many sounds along with several consonant teams. The lessons are hands-on and I've learned the "why" behind certain rules.  I am very happy with this selection! 

I failed to renew our subscription to Speekee, an online Spanish video program for kids.  While Abby seemed to like it, I became frustrated with the videos cutting out or server being down and unusable on a routine basis.

Little Passports 
At some point, I'd like to pick this back up.  We received an intro kit and were really excited.  However, life got hectic and I never got around subscribing.  This is on my "to-do" list for the near future. 

abby's map 
I'll be sharing our first grade curriculum selections in the coming weeks!  
Weekly Kids Co-op  Sunday Showcase   Link and Learn  Montessori Monday   TGIF  Homeschool Creations  Sunscholars

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Styled by Ana Rae Collection: The Ruthie Picnic Dress

My girls love dresses, rompers, cute tops and anything of the like.  With each daughter, I have gradually developed a love for cute, girly fashions, as well.  I enjoy browsing Etsy and Pinterest searching for unique, eye-catching, one-of-a-kind looks.  I have a pinboard full of ideas that I add to frequently.  Sadly, I am not a seamstress--which would be ideal in a house full of girls.  Thankfully, my sister-in-law, friend & fellow blogger Meg from Styled by Ana Rae, is full of creative ideas and sewing talent.  Her blog features sewing projects, helpful insight and tips along with my adorable nieces to model her work.

Tunic 2

Over the last few months, we have acquired a growing collection of styles from her Etsy shop.  Today, I'm sharing one of my favorites, The Ruthie Picnic Dress.  The high-quality designer fabric is vibrant and durable.  She has an eye for coordinating fabric patterns and I love how this dress came together, particularly the fit.   

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Tot School: Farm Theme

Summer is 22 months old.

In March, Summer became the big sister to Kaitlyn Rose.  She has done an amazing job transitioning in her new role and I love seeing them interact with one another. I, on the other hand, have been challenged in balancing my time in so many different directions...most of my time going to planning/teaching Abby's Kindergarten lessons. I was thrilled to be able to finally find the opportunity to plan a week of activities for Summer. After seeing her excitement, I will definitely be making it high priority.

Kaitlyn Collage

While unpacking from our recent move, I stumbled upon several farm themed toys and books. 
I thought it would be a perfect way to kick start 'Tot School' again. 

Her shelf set up:

Set Up

Top shelf (left to right): farm animal puzzle, animal flashcards with matching toy animals, lentils with various tools for pouring, transferring and funneling.
Bottom shelf (left to right): sensory tray with dry oats and toy animals, magnetic pom pom printable, matching farm animal printable.
 **We used farm themed printables from Katie @ The Gift of Curiosity.**

She couldn't wait to explore her shelf when she walked in.  We've tried puzzles in the past with her showing no interest, but it was by far her favorite activity.  


We attempted to match the animals with the animal flashcards, but she was more interested in exploring each animal and listening to their unique sound.


Then, she played...for quite awhile.


Playing Farm

I thought she would love adding her animals to the dried oat sensory crate, but I was wrong.  She ended up more concerned about picking up individual oats that fell on the floor...


But...there's always one thing I know she will enjoy and that's her books.  This girl loves reading.  I am amazed at her attention span and concentration at this age when it comes to reading...

Book Sounds

I set out a small basket with board books for her to look through...



And, she spent time exploring the outdoors...

Monday, May 19, 2014

Introduction to Nancy Larson Science K Homeschool

In November, Abby began Kindergarten.  While I had determined most of her curriculum, I was however, unsure about science. As a new homeschooler, while confident in my decision, I am not as confident in my abilities to pull together my own science lessons and be consistent in that department.  At the time, our family had many upcoming events (new house construction, expecting a new baby) taking place simultaneously, I needed a curriculum that was easy to use, completely planned and ready to go...enter Nancy Larson Science.

We received the Nancy Larson Science K homeschool kit at no cost in exchange for my honest opinion. 

Abby and I were excited when our Science K Homeschool kit arrived.  We opened the box and dived right in!  The box included most everything we needed to complete the lessons except markers, pencils and basic household items we already had on hand.
Science 1 Tool Kit Photo
 Topics of study in the Science K level include:
  • Parts of the Body
  • The Five Senses
  • Healthy Habits
  • Characteristics of Pets
  • Characteristics of Objects
  • Forces That Move Objects
  • Observing the Growth of Plants
  • Identifying Living/Non-Living Things
  • Identifying Seasons and Weather Conditions

The Science K kit is designed for those students who are between the ages of 5-7, but may also be used with older students who have limited science experience.


 Nancy Larson Science offers several other homeschool science kits in addition to Science K including: Science 1, Science 2, Science 3 and Science 4.


The teacher's manual is incredibly easy to follow.  The lessons are scripted and I simply read the suggested dialogue and examples that are provided to help engage with my student.  Each lesson provides a list of items to be collected along with instructions to help prepare and organize for the lesson.  A sample lesson can be found here.

Each level kit includes activity booklets to help elaborate on certain lessons while highlighting key points.  Additional booklets can be purchased separately if teaching more than one child within the same level.

Also included are photo cards, A Fitness Fun CD, a teacher resource CD to help with teaching the lesson.


Seeing how enthusiastic Abby was about the materials was very refreshing.  She loved exploring and asking questions about the items in the tool kit.



When we began using the program,  I was amazed at how easy and fun the lessons were.  With a busy toddler in tow and a newborn, school had taken a backseat while we adjusted.  But, we found Nancy Larson Science K to be an easy addition to our day.  I appreciate the scripted dialogue and games presented during the lesson. I feel that I can thoroughly and effectively teach her with the guidance provided by the teacher's manual.  Abby is able to learn a manageable amount of information and stay engaged the entire time.  She's a very active, hands-on little girl and this is perfect for her! 

One of her favorite parts so far has been reviewing with the help of playing Simon Says.  I love seeing her smile and enjoy what she is learning. 


Nancy Larson has taken the stress and pressure off of me and provided an exciting learning experience without sacrificing time! 

I will be updating periodically as we work through the program to share my specific thoughts, but so far I am loving this curriculum.

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
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