Thursday, August 21, 2014

First Grade Curriculum Choices (2014-2015)

Abby will begin first grade starting in September.  We are doing something a little bit different this year and she's pretty excited!

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Outfit from Styled by Ana Rae
Our First Grade Curriculum Choices

-Abeka First Grade
-Bible Study Guide for All Ages (Primary)
-Home Art Studio First Grade and Home Art Studio Holiday Arts and Crafts
-Learning Games and Toys, Chapter Books, Easy Readers, Sing Along DVD's, Daily Calendar Notebook

The core of our work will be Abeka.  This is the first time I've used a boxed curriculum and I was curious to give it a try.  Over the course of the year, Abby will be concentrating on phonics, arithmetic, reading, spelling, poetry, science, health and more.  She's most excited for the handwriting lessons which will be in cursive.  She's been interested in "writing fancy" since this past Christmas and practices her name often.

We will continue using Bible Study Guide for All Ages this year, moving from the beginner pages into the primary pages.  This is one of her favorite parts of school, mine too!  The great part about this program is we can pick right up where we left off, just using a more advanced set of pages.  She's been browsing through the lessons already and can not wait!

For art, I will be reviewing Home Art Studio: First Grade and Holiday Arts and Crafts.  We loved the Kindergarten DVD and this one looks just as fun.

In addition to her daily work, she will have access to plenty of learning games and toys.  For music, I plan on using various Disney Sing-Along DVD's that I think she may enjoy or go a different route with unit studies.  As we work through a routine, I'd like to incorporate more independent reading for her or have her read to her sisters for extra practice.  One thing, personally, I'd like to add is read alouds from various chapter books that are age appropriate. 

Calendar time is something I've been slacking on.  We've tried Daily Calendar Notebooks in the past and for us, they are too time consuming.  Abby loses focus and a 10 minute activity turns into 45 minutes.  However, I think they are incredibly useful and great practice.  I'll be sharing our new strategy in the next few weeks leading up to her first day.

Looking for more homeschool curriculum posts?
2013-2014 Updated Curriculum Choices (Kindergarten)
2013-2014 Curriculum Choices (Kindergarten)
2012-2013 Curriculum Choices (K4)


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Nancy Larson Science K Review

In January, we received Nancy Larson Science K as part of Abby’s Kindergarten Curriculum.  We managed to complete two seasonal lessons (Winter and Spring), but took a small break from school. After resuming in May, we have since completed all the lessons and I want to share our experience.  You can read more about our break, my initial thoughts of the program and specific details of the Nancy Larson Science curriculum in this post.

We received Nancy Larson Science K Homeschool free of charge in exchange for our honest opinion.  
Note:  This post contains affiliate links.
When I began planning our second half of the year, I set out to do one science lesson each day.  I was super excited to see what Abby was going to learn!  Along the same time, Abby had a fun-filled summer of weekly activities awaiting her.  I knew we would be busy and I was not exactly sure how a full school schedule with daily science would work, but I knew we could cut back if need be.  There was no need to worry!  The Nancy Larson Science program fit perfectly into our day.  Our new routine was both fresh and fun, something I had hoped for.  When we took a day off, she would ask, "Why aren't we doing my science today?"  She LOVED it!

The lessons are perfect for busy, homeschooling moms!  While I try to be organized and have my lessons and materials planned and ready, life happens.  Nancy Larson Science makes it easy!  When things got hectic and I was not prepared, it was not a big deal.  I was able to quickly gather the needed materials listed for the lesson, even when I was short on time.  The scripted lessons offered a starting point to get my child engaged. As I became more accustomed, I felt more comfortable adding in more discussion that related personally to my child. The lessons are short, yet full of hands-on activities to keep even the most active child's full attention.

Having two younger daughters in addition to Abby, nap time is our primary block to accomplish school.   Abby and I were able to  complete a lesson, along with her other subjects, during nap time without being rushed or stressed.  I was able to spend quality one on one time with my kindergartner.  If for some reason our schedule was off, we could easily include a curious toddler and newborn.  It worked well in either scenario.  Summer (who just turned 2 in July) was just as eager to learn and explore as Abby.

While learning ways to keep our bodies healthy, they enjoyed the hand washing lesson together.  Abby was able to "teach" Summer what she learned, reinforcing the concepts she was introduced to.
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She enjoyed the draw and color activity booklets presented in the program.  Here she is illustrating types of exercise she enjoys.

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Having majored in Dietetics, I appreciated the focus on healthy foods.  She loved the colorful food stickers!  

While most things are provided in the kit, there are a few items to be purchased.  For instance, this Geranium plant.  Of course, I love having a beautiful plant to add a splash of color outdoors.

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The kit also includes colorful photo cards that are referenced to in several lessons throughout the manual.

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During our unit study on plants,  I asked my husband's aunt to join us for one particular lesson.  She's an excellent gardener and Abby loves her dearly.  We also asked Abby's cousins (ages 4 and 7 at the time) to join.  They enjoyed the lesson as much as Abby!

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Over the course of a few weeks, she documented her plants growth.  She showed great enthusiasm in caring for her plants.

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One thing that grabbed my attention with Nancy Larson Science is the "open and go" approach.  As a busy, homeschooling mom, I appreciate having lessons and materials at my fingertips.  The little details added into the lessons (ex. playing Simon Says to locate body parts) caught my daughter's attention from the very beginning and drew her in.  The lessons were fun, engaging, hands-on and easy to teach.  We both looked forward to science and I loved watching her excitement to learn.  It's exactly what I was looking for in a science curriculum.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Happy 5 Months, Kaitlyn Rose!

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you know our baby girl turned 5 months old today!

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Kaitlyn is the most laid back of the three.  She loves to "talk" and usually has a smile on her face.  Currently, her favorite activities include bouncing, rolling across the room and she is getting better each day at sitting up for a longer period of time.

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She is by far our biggest baby, topping the charts in weight and height.  But, her smile can brighten your day instantly. 

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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Styled by Ana Rae Collection: Ruby Sue Nautical Print Dress

I happen to be fond of dresses that when paired with sandals are casual enough to be worn around town, but can also be dressed up with a pair of tights and dress shoes for a more formal event.  Styled by Ana Rae's, The Ruby Sue Nautical Print Dress, does just that.  
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The light fabric is perfect for Spring and Summer and the nautical print is adorable.  The dress is a cream/ivory color with navy accents and sprinkled with bloom pink and baby blue.

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Abby has a small frame which makes it difficult when trying on certain styles of dresses.  But, the fit of this dress is one of my favorite aspects.  It fits her perfectly and the lovely neckline is unique to any dress Abby has worn thus far.  It flatters her well, falling just below the knee. 

The sash and neckline are in a coordinating anchor print, which Abby loves.  The sash can be tied at the back or wrapped around and tied at the front.  Perfect for a little girl who changes her mind frequently and alternates between the two during a given day.

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Be sure to stop by Meg's blog and Etsy shop to view her other items.  To see additional items in our collection including the Ruthie Picnic Dress, click here.


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.

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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.

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

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11 months

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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.


Instagram

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.

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Math U See
www.mathusee.com

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
http://www.officialhomeartstudio.com/

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!

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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!

Additions:
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.

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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! 

Subtractions:
Speekee
  
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!  
 
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