Tot School: 15 months

Saturday, November 16, 2013

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

2013-2014 Curriculum Choices

Friday, November 08, 2013

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.

Weekly Wrap-Up and A Little Announcement

Friday, October 25, 2013

The girls and I have been busy these last few weeks.  It seems we've had appointments here, activities there and somehow have managed to not only stay on track with school...but to get ahead!

Abby has been busy finishing up her K4 program.  Since we managed to get a week ahead (by request), she will finish this coming week!


She loves place value.  I gave her several numbers and she would use the straw bundles to illustrate the given number.

place value

Abby also finished Raising Rock Stars Kindergarten.  Here she is completing the verse for letter Y.  

bible verse 

She's been enjoying the Sight Word Review Graphing Printables I created, specific to the K4 program.  You can download the set in this post.

sight word graphing 

And, a trip to the optometrist turned into a neat learning experience.  Abby asked tons of questions and the doctor was nice enough to explain as best she could.

abby eye dr 2

We took a walk to Grandma's.  Summer loved exploring.

summer exploring 

Abby was a little disappointed by the creek being dry.

abby exploring 

And, in just a few months...we will be welcoming a new addition to our family!  The next few months are sure to be filled with excitement and change. 

Perfect Pumpkin Bread

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Fall is here and that means the warm aroma of pumpkin bread is filling our home.  Quick breads are so simple and delicious to make.  This super moist pumpkin bread is perfect as a snack or even better the next morning for breakfast.  I have tried many recipes for pumpkin bread and this is by far my favorite, with a few additions.  It contains just the right amount of pumpkin and spice with a splash of pure vanilla and a sprinkling of crunchy pecans.  I use this recipe to make one loaf and about 18 muffins.

Perfect Pumpkin Bread

  • 3 cups sugar
  • 3 1/3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4 whole eggs
  • 1 can pumpkin (15 oz)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup oil
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup to 1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 325-350 degrees fahrenheit, depending on your oven.  Grease loaf pan(s) or line muffin tin with paper liners.

Sift together dry ingredients and stir to combine.  Add wet ingredients directly to the dry ingredients and using a mixer, mix until smooth.  Add desired amount of pecans to the batter and fold in with a spatula.  I use about 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of pecans in the mix.  Pour batter in loaf pan or paper liners.  And sprinkle with leftover chopped pecans. 

Loaf bakes for about 45 minutes until top begins to crack and and toothpick comes out clean.  The muffins bake for 18-20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. 

Allow to cool and enjoy!

pumpkin bread 2

K4- RRSK: Letter X and Fall Fun

Friday, October 11, 2013

Raising Rock Stars Kindergarten is quickly coming to an end.  I have enjoyed learning new bible verses along with Abby and watching her little mind soak up all the information.  Plus, she's learned many new shapes (rectangular prism, cylinder, cone, cube), reviewed counting/letters and practiced time, fractions, positional words and money, to name a few.  It's been a great addition to our year and she has benefited so much from it.

Letter: X
Sight Word: Down
Bible Verse: eXcept you be converted and become as little children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.  Matthew 18:3

A few of her activities this week included: tracing and locating pictures that start or end with letter X.

tracing verse

Letter X Phonics

All printables are from the K4 Curriculum.

We are in the final stages of K4, which means review.  For the next few weeks, Abby will be heavily reviewing sight words, numbers, handwriting and skip counting among other things.

She worked on counting from 50-80 in the number maze.  She loves this!

number graphing


domino subtraction

Abby has also been working through her Kumon: Cutting book.  She adores the little animals she cuts out and likes giving them away as gifts and plays with them all week.


And, she's been practicing lots of reading with her Abeka Little Owl Books and Bob Books.  She's always so proud of herself!


reading 2

As mentioned above, we've hit the review stage of K4 and I've been looking at ways to give Abby more variety in sight word review.  I've seen several graphing activities with sight words, but nothing specific to what we needed.  So, I decided to make my own.  Abby seems to really enjoy this activity and I love that it gives her practice reading words in several different fonts, coloring, graphing and reading a graph.

sight word graphing

sight word graphing 2

Abby also enjoyed her Fall Sensory Bin, that she was constantly sharing with her little sister. :)
You can read about the contents here.

sensory bin abby

Recently, I created a folder on my phone just for her educational apps.  She loves having a folder personalized just for her and spends about 20 minutes a day exploring different ones. 


 We did some baking.

Baking Collage

And, she enjoyed an afternoon of fun with her grandparents and cousins.  She was able to ride a pony, play in the corn/straw maze, ride in a hot air balloon and much more.  She had a blast!

Abby Collage

Supplies We Used This Week

Fall Discovery Basket and Sensory Bin

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Summer is 14 months old.

I love this time of year!  The temperature is starting to cool down and the leaves are slowly beginning to change colors.  In celebration of the new season, we had a Fall themed week.

I made two sensory bins, one for each of the girls.  Abby's had smaller pieces (acrylic pumpkins, acorns and leaves and fall colored pom poms), while Summer's included some silk leaves from an old wreath and little containers for transferring.


She was very interested in Abby's bin, so I stayed nearby to supervise and that seemed to be her favorite!

Sensory Bin Collage  

While Summer doesn't sit still for very long, she does enjoy being read to.  Most times, I'll read a story to her while she's roaming around and she will stop now and then to look at the pictures.  One afternoon, Abby got Summer's attention while reading her easy reader to me.  

Abby reading to Summer

She also tried her hand at dot painting.  I love her artwork!

Summer Dot Painting
Summer's Painting

And, we traveled to a local market with my husband's family for an afternoon of fun for the kids!  Summer enjoyed her first hayride to the pumpkin patch.

Summer and Pumpkin Patch