2016-2017 Curriculum Choices

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

I spent the majority of the summer doing everything besides planning and purchasing curriculum for the new school year.  While it's always fun to do, I simply was procrastinating big time!  We were anticipating the arrival of our new baby girl, in early October, and I honestly had no idea what I wanted to do with my girls.  I knew the year (and life in general) was going to be interesting while I juggled a third grader, preschooler, toddler and newborn so I knew I needed to make a good decision.

My third grader was the obvious priority, but I still wasn't sure what direction to go in with her, though I had some ideas.  I needed to be realistic.  As much as I enjoy piecing together printables, activities, books, etc. for my girls, I wanted something complete that would save me time upfront.  I figured eventually I could add and customize during the year, if I chose.  We had previously tried boxed curriculum (Abeka) with Abby for first grade and while she did well academically, we struggled in other areas early on--like organization and time management.  Last year, I went a completely different direction and while I enjoyed parts of it--I felt certain programs I chose weren't cutting it or a good fit.  I kept finding myself reflect back to Abby's first grade year (especially the Abeka math) and wish we had just continued on because she did so well, even though we had a rocky start.  At the same time, I was also concerned with what I wanted to do for Summer.  I wanted to include her in daily school and while I loved our current program and all the fun activities, I couldn't promise myself I'd have the time or energy to make that possible. 

 As I began to look more closely at the Abeka curriculum site, I noticed a representative was set to visit our town within the next few days.  I discussed it with my husband and we decided to go "look" at the materials display.  Ultimately, we ended up choosing the third grade program for Abby and eventually decided on the K4 program for Summer. 

We are seven weeks into our lessons and I am very happy with our selections so far!  Summer is LOVING her lessons and learning quickly and I am loving the ease of including her.  Abby is happy with the program so far, as well. One of the main things that has helped this go around is experience.  As soon as we received the girls' books, I began organizing their papers and making room for all cards and charts within easy reach.  You can read more about how I do that here, though I modified the system slightly this year organizing papers in folders labeled by lesson number.  

With Summer, I plan to eventually add more activities as her lessons are rather short--lasting anywhere between 15-20 minutes.  She loved our weekly themes using Bitty Beginnings printables and my plan is to begin incorporating those activities and other theme related printables back into our weeks as time allows.  I hope to share a glimpse of our daily activities in the coming weeks and months!

USA Geography | Vermont

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

The last state on our journey through the Northeast is Vermont! 
Details of her set-up...


Other than the various read-alouds I found (favorite sites for books are here and here), we kept this week very simple by completing a favorite coloring sheet.


As of now, we will be taking a temporary break from our geography units.  I'll be sharing Abby's Third Grade plans soon and we will pick up where we left off half-way through the new school year.

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USA Geography | Rhode Island

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

We are nearing the end of exploring the Northeast Region of the United States and this week was all about Rhode Island!


Abby continues to be extremely interested in history and geography and loves to explore and ask questions about the items I have set out on her shelf.  I love the selection of books we've added for each state, my favorite sites for books are here and here.

I get asked all the time about the wall map below and I love it!  It's fun and colorful for the girls plus peel and stick so it doesn't damage the wall.  It also has the added benefit of being dry-erase which comes in handy.


I stumbled across a new printable to add to our activities this week, here.


And, we revisited a highly requested activity of painting with watercolors. I trim down marker/paint paper (Dollar Tree) to fit in my printer and print the image. It's a simple, yet fun addition to the week.


Next week, we visit the last state in this region...Vermont!

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Freebie Friday: Autumn Edition

Friday, September 23, 2016

Welcome back to Freebie Friday + Happy Autumn!

To celebrate the new season and Bitty Beginnings' 1st Birthday Celebration, today I'm sharing one of the first freebie sets from Jen to hit the blog! You can view all Bitty Beginnings' free printables here and keep checking back as I share more throughout the year.  Also, be sure to take advantage of the celebration sale (ends today) at Bitty Beginnings by entering WOW50 at checkout!

 To download and see the pack in action, click here!

USA Geography | Pennsylvania

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

We wrapped up the Northeast Region of the United States at the beginning of June and I got a *little* behind sharing the last few states. I had originally planned to continue on with the Southern states throughout the summer, but quickly changed my mind due to scheduling and decided to just hold off until the new school year.  Here's a look at our Pennsylvania activities!
Our set-up for the week...


Abby is a big fan of Liberty's Kids which I highly recommend if you are looking for a fun way to incorporate American History.  She can locate specific episodes based on what we are studying which is pretty amusing and saves me a lot of time.  We usually watch an episode or two during lunch as it pertains to the state or topic we are discussing.  She was pretty excited to learn more about Benjamin Franklin, my favorite sites for books are here and here.

She worked on several printables, some old favorites like this activity sheet.


Liberty Bell dot to dot...


USA passport...


And, some additional reading...


The next state we visit will be Rhode Island!

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Letter M | Monkey and Muffin

Saturday, September 17, 2016

When I began planning our activities for the summertime, I had high hopes of continuing our preschool activities and being pretty close to done with our current plans before the new school year began.  I had just played around with adding a few extra components to our day, but decided I just wanted to simplify for my own sanity as I had recently just discovered we were expecting our fourth baby.  I wasn't sure how I would feel and found myself with a new set of priorities and mind set.  This particular week took place in late June and was our last "official" preschool week of the summer.  With just three weeks left to go before we welcome our newest little girl, I wanted to *finally* share our Letter M week!

Our set-up...



We kept this week really simple, sticking mainly with Bitty Beginnings' Letter M Learning Pack as it's really full of various activities.  She used watercolor to paint her letter M, which she thoroughly enjoyed.  I'm pretty sure she had a whole collection of pictures by the end of the afternoon.


Putting together her letter puzzle and letter crown...



Giggling her way through dot painting, download free here.


Pre-writing practice...


And, opposites...


As of now, we are gearing up to begin the 2016-2017 school year with Summer...there's just something about September that gets me in planning mode.  My plan is to finish up our Bitty Beginnings' Alphabet Letter Packs with corresponding activities as we have been, but we will be adding another component that I'll share soon!

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Freebie Friday: Letter O | Spot-It Activity

Friday, August 05, 2016

Happy Friday!

Throughout the year I'll be offering FREE printables courtesy of Jen from Bitty Beginnings, as part of her Alphabet Letter Learning Pack Collection.  You can view all free printables here.

Letter o collage

This week, I'm sharing Spot-It, from the adorable
Letter O | Owl + Orange Alphabet Letter Learning Pack which can be printed in either pink/purple or blue/green.

And, don't miss an amazing sale happening now through the end of August in the Bitty Beginnings' shop on the Complete A-Z Alphabet Letter Learning Pack Collection for only $25, no promo code needed!  Also, be sure to check out several new extension activities just added to compliment the letter packs along with many more fun printables.
To download, click the image below.

letter o

Sun Safety with Babiators Sunglasses + Giveaway

Monday, August 01, 2016

Sunglasses are one of my favorite accessories and a high priority when heading outdoors or running errands around town--any time of year and in most types of weather.  I rarely leave home without them, but often times forget to grab a set for each of my girls.  My main concern lies with the lack of durability of the sunglasses we own, followed up with the safety issues if they end up breaking them.  If your kids are like mine, things don't last long and I find myself just avoiding the hassle altogether without much thought to their own eye protection.  Recently, I discovered Babiators sunglasses for kids and have made an effort to have sunglasses with us at all times.  Some days are more hectic than others, but I've found that having a station set up with all my "necessities" as it pertains to heading out really helps simplify the chaos.


The importance of sun safety as it pertains to our skin has become increasingly mainstream, but what about sun safety for our eyes?  According to The Vision Council's UV Protection Reports, UV damage is cumulative and irreversible with kids receiving 3X more annual UV exposure than adults.  Yet less than 30% of parents, myself included, are currently protecting their children's eyes with sunglasses. But why is this such a big deal? Children's eyes are more susceptible to sun damage because they have larger pupils and clearer lenses, allowing more UV to penetrate and reach the back of the eyes.  You can check out The Vision Council's UV Damage and Children Report, The Vision Council's 2015 UV Protection Report and The Vision Council's 2016 UV Protection Report for more information on sun safety.

The council recommends that when choosing sunglasses for your kids, always look for glasses:

-labeled as 100% UVA/UVB protection
-high-quality, durable frames
-a comfortable fit and great style they will love


Babiators has made it their mission to create a product to meet all these requirements providing lenses with UV400 that offers 100% UVA and UVB protection along with undergoing rigorous testing to ensure safety whether on your child's face or if they end up in their mouth.  The sunglasses feature flexible rubber frames along with impact and shatter-resistant lenses that won't break when you bend, twist or step on them while also remaining stylish and backed by Babiators Lost and Found Guarantee. If you lose or break your shades in the first year, Babiators will replace them for free, all you pay is shipping!


Of all this, I love the fact that Babiators sunglasses are made of a soft material that is comfortable and lightweight.  They are designed to fit kids' faces and won't pinch the temples or nose, one of my personal pet peeves especially when growing up.  The sunglasses are available in two sizes and multiple colors:

-Jr. Babiators fit most babies 6 months to 3 years
-Classic Babiators fit most kids 3-7 years (we use these for our girls 2, 4, 7--but have found them to run a little big on the younger two girls)


And, Babiators is giving one of my reader's a chance to win a set of stylish sunglasses in black for their little one, simply enter below!

Disclaimer: The Babiators information, product and additional gift pack have been provided by Babiators.