Preschool Plans for Summer

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Summer turned three in July and has been peeking over my shoulder the last several weeks as I plan and prep for her preschool year.  I love seeing her excitement and enthusiasm, it's the sweetest.


This year we will be using the Alphabet Letter Learning Packs from Jen at Bitty Beginnings.  Besides the adorable clipart images for each letter pack, I love the variety of activities she offers most of which are new to us. With each pack there is also the option to print certain activities in either pink/purple for little girls or blue/green for little boys.  In addition to the Letter Learning Packs, we will also be using Bitty Beginnings' Alphabet Bracelets and Alphabet Crowns to go with each letter.  These will definitely be a hit with all three of my girls since they love pretend play and dress-up!

I also have plans to expand upon each letter theme with additional activities I think Summer will enjoy. These activities include Montessori-inspired trays, field trips, nature study, books, puzzles, simple science and more.

We will more than likely start mid to late September.  In the meantime, you can catch some behind the scenes planning and prep work by following us on Instagram @themagnoliabarn.

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Abeka Materials Organization

Monday, August 24, 2015

I've received a few questions regarding Abeka materials organization and wanted to share how we made it work for us.  If you are looking for ideas on seatwork and daily paper organization, you may find this post helpful.  Though we aren't currently using Abeka, I'm not ruling it out in the future.  It's a great curriculum, just didn't work so well for my carefree, energetic 6 year old!

First off, our school was done anywhere that was convenient at the time, still is for that matter.  But, I purposefully kept math and phonics separate from our other work, in a specific space and usually done during the little girls' naptime, if possible.  I dedicated a shelf in my office to both subjects and kept everything we needed there. 


I purchased two large, wide Sterlite 3-drawer containers.  One container housed our Abeka Place Value Cards, Arithmetic Charts, Subtraction/Addition Flashcards, Combination Dot Cards, Drill Set and any manipulatives we used on a regular basis.  These manipulatives included a few rulers, play money/coins, straws...that type of thing.


On the other side, I used another Sterlite 3-drawer container, same size, to house our special sounds charts which were laminated for durability, phonics flashcards and readers. 


I kept dry-erase markers, extra pencils/erasers, colored pencils, other supplies in bins on the top shelf, but for the sake of this post moved them down so you get an idea.  You can also see the smaller 3-drawer container nestled between with our blend practice cards and clue word cards, which fit perfectly.  We have a small dry-erase board that is partly nomadic and stored behind our shelf after use.


I'd like to say I kept all the charts neatly organized in number order, but lets be real...I usually just threw it back in the drawer and called it a day.  Before a lesson, Abby would be working or playing on something while I gathered the cards for that specific lesson and then we would begin.  While it wasn't the cutest setup, it was a functional solution that put everything in one place and was easy to reach from the floor which is where we did school together.

Second Grade Curriculum Choices: 2015-2016

Friday, August 07, 2015

It's a new year, which means new curriculum choices.  Nothing has made me happier than to clear out the old to make way for the new!

Abby VBS 072015 bw

This year will be a mix of not only new items, but some tried and true favorites.  Here's what I have planned for Abby.

We will be going back to All About Reading and All About Spelling.  We first used these programs during Abby's Kindergarten year. And looking back, I took for granted how easy reading and spelling were to use then.  There was no major planning involved or sorting through charts and gathering I had to do was open and go, which is KEY to my life right now!  Plus, Abby seemed to like it (read: she didn't complain) and the letter tiles are perfect for her hands-on, take charge personality.  I will say she found the fluency sheets overwhelming. It became a struggle until I happened to read this post, suggesting stickers to visually mark a beginning and ending point for that particular lesson.  Genius!  I immediately put the advice into action using colorful star stickers to mark a reasonable reading portion for Abby.  I saw immediate results.  Soon it became a game and we didn't have anymore problems.  Like last time, I used the online placement tests to see what level to buy.  I found that Abby was wavering between two levels and wanted an expert opinion on what to do.  Their customer service was excellent, quickly responding to my questions.  She will be using All About Reading: Level 3 and All About Spelling: Level 2.


Bible continues to be one of her favorite times, mine too. We've been using Bible Study Guide for All Ages for a few years now.  Last year, we used the primary pages but switched mid-year to the beginner pages.  I found them to be a better fit for her and we will continue with them this year, as well.

For now, we will pick back up with Math-U-See: Alpha. We began Alpha the last few months of Kindergarten, breaking halfway through to begin Abeka: First Grade. I wanted Abby to give it another chance, this go around being more of a review. If it works out, we may move on to the next level. If not, I've got some other possibilities I'm curious to try with her. I'll share any changes that we make.

For the new programs, I discovered Simply Charlotte Mason several months ago and really fell in love. They have so many fabulous resources and samples ready for download.

One of my first purchases was a science curriculum, called Outdoor Secrets. I had planned to do it with Abby over the summer, but decided to hold off until the beginning of the school year. I wanted something cute, light, fun and interesting so that my younger kids could tag along if they wanted.

For history, we will be using Simply Charlotte Mason: Genesis through Deuteronomy & Ancient Egypt supplemented with Story of the World. History is one area I went back and forth on. I really wanted to like Mystery of History, but after borrowing it from the library I could see it wasn't going to work for us. We had sampled Story of the World and Abby was really engaged. I know many have some concerns with Story of the World and while we want Abby to have a strong biblical foundation, we also want her to be aware of other ideas and beliefs in the world. Our Ancient Egypt study will cover Bible, history and geography with the focus on Africa.
Simply Charlotte Mason also offers this free curriculum guide, to help develop your child's year. The website also offers sample schedules to see how it all fits together. Once I selected our history, I moved on to enrichment studies and chose from each category from the selections. While it looks like ALOT, many of these lessons are only taught 1-2 times a week for 10-15 minutes. It's a great introduction to the fine arts and other subjects without being overwhelming. You'll notice some topics like music study, picture study, personal development and handicrafts include either three composers, artists, habits or activities. These will be covered one per term. This is what I've chosen for Abby.

Poetry: Robert Louis Stevenson
Music Study: Bach, Beethoven and Chopin
Picture Study: Velazquez, Degas and Giotto
Foreign Language- Speaking Spanish with Miss Mason and Francois
Personal Development- Truthfulness, Obedience and Attention
Handicrafts--Baking, Folding Laundry and Dusting
Hymns, Bible Verses and Nature Study
Copywork- Print to Cursive Proverbs
Literature- Stuart Little, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, A Little Princess, etc.
Shakespeare- A Midsummer's Night Dream
It should be a fun year and I am *hoping* to document and blog about how we make it work for our family, so keep an eye out for that.