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Saturday, August 29, 2015

SimplyFun Saturday–Bee Alert!

Bee Alert SimplyFun

Bee Alert by SimplyFun is a great game for early learners.  This take on the game of memory is more fun and more engaging!  While playing your child is learning colors, working on memory and observation skills, fine motor skills and taking turns!  It also works on counting to up to 6 and one to one correspondence.

This game is recommended for ages 5+, but could easily be used with younger children with help and supervision.  It’s a favorite of all my children, even the older ones.  The game can be played with 2-5 players, making it a fun family game.  The rounds are short (about 15mins), which keeps young ones with short attention span involved for the duration of the game. 

The rules are simple to follow and easy to learn, it’s a quick out of the box play!

This game is available for $30.

SimplyFun offers homeschool discounts through their PlaySaver program (though you needn’t be a homeschooler to join)! You can also host a show to earn FREE games!  Let me know if you are interested! Please comment or contact me with any questions!

Disclaimer: I am a Playologist Consultant for SimplyFun, all links lead to my website.  Thank you!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Week in Review– Week of 8/24/15


So Monday and Tuesday we had normal school days.  I had planned to do a ParkQuest on Wednesday, and well, I was just feeling beat and having some anxiety about travelling to an unknown place by myself with the kids.  So we just stayed home and chilled!  Tuesday we also had some friends over to play our SimplyFun games!  More on that tomorrow!  I’m starting a new series – SimplyFun Saturday!!  New game featured each week (until I run out of new games to share!)

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Thursday was our first day back to co-op.  The kids had a blast.  We have had a TON of new families join up this year, it’s great!  The kids are taking lots of fun classes! 

C – 4th grade – Life of George Washington, Maps and Experiments with Light
Z – 1st grade – Healthy Foods, Animals and Continents, Lego
c – PreK – Healthy Foods, Dramatic Play and Storybook activities

I got pulled over on the way home for a headlight out, but I think it was actually one of my day time running lights…I mean it was day time and my headlights weren’t on, and later that night when I remembered to actually look at my car to see (and the headlights were on) I couldn’t find which one was out :/  I have 10 days to fix it and then have to report within 30 days to the PD so they can sign off I fixed it.  Mostly just a pain in the butt!  The cop kept looking at my kids though and asked me where we were coming from.  Which I thought was WEIRD!  The county I was in started school this past Monday, so I can only figure that was why he was asking.  I told him homeschool co-op, and after repeating it once, he just said, “oh, okay”.  I mean it was 2p in the afternoon, not like it was an odd hour for someone to be out and about with kids.  lol 

Friday, we met at the park with two friends from Hawaii.  One actually lives nearby us and will be starting her homeschooling venture this year!  The other was visiting from where she lives now (Utah).  It was a beautiful day for the park!  The kids had a blast playing, and the other two moms rented a paddle boat and the kids took turns going out. I watched the babies. 

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My mom is coming up tonight and we are headed to the Renaissance Festival tomorrow!  What a great way to kick off the new year and a study on the Middle Ages!  I’m excited!  I have always been a fan of the Renaissance Festival, so I’m excited to share it with my kids, have not been since my oldest was an infant!  We may hit up a parkquest that is nearby too, we will see how we are on time.

Linking up at:
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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Organizing Literature Rich Curriculums

Organizing Books

I have a big problem of losing items and then finding them after the unit.  I’m trying really hard this time to be MORE organized!  So, this is what I have done:

I have color coded the books by units.  I didn’t have enough colors to do every unit, so I grouped a few units together.  I put a color sticker in the lesson book by that unit and then put stickers on the corresponding books for that unit.  Then I put the books in order by when they appear in the unit.

For core books that I’ll use in more than one unit I have them in a magazine holder, marked by subject.  History is our most literature rich subject, the books take up almost 2 whole shelves!! 

This also helps the book get put back where it belongs with little hands pull it down to look at it! 

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This year for history we are using History Odyssey Middle Ages I by Pandia Press. We have acquired most of our books from Paperbackswap.com.  You don’t have to own books, of course, but I prefer to have the bulk, the less library books to keep track of the better! 

I also make notes for each chapter of additional books I have that would work for the unit (besides those listed), as well as movies we can stream that goes along with it as well!

Hope this tip helps you out a bit! 

*Wish I’d seen the 38 colors one before!! 

Friday, August 21, 2015

Week 52 in Review!


So I didn’t actually do a review last week with the 5 day Back to Homeschool Series. So this review will cover the last two weeks.  Since there is 52 weeks in a year, I guess that makes next week, week 1 of the new year….though we aren’t actually starting the new year for one more week.  O well! 

Week of August 10th

The previous weekend we headed down to my parents for my brother’s wedding.  Was a great event, and so fun to see so much family.

My youngest son had 2 days of private swim lessons, and had an art class all week!  He was so happy to have his own things, he is always tagging along to the older boys things.  He is 4 (almost 5).  Soccer also started up for my oldest son, 2 nights a week.  On the 13th we had our co-op back to school party.  the 15th the kids returned to History class (no swim meets, no soccer games this month).  They always enjoy it!

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Week of August 17th

My 6yo started up soccer this week, 2 nights a week.  (and yes, one night they both have practice, same time, different locations…always fun!).  The 18th my oldest turned 9!  Time flies by so fast!  We just had a small little party, he invited 2 friends over to spend the day. We took our puppy for her first vet visit.  We had planned a Park Quest for Thursday, but it rained.  Friday we decided to do one, and I went to the wrong part of the park, ended up at a Federal park with the correct destination 20mins away.  Since we had already drove 45min to get there, we opted for doing a Jr. Ranger program at the Federal Park instead.  It was still fun, was a BEAUTIFUL day!  The we headed to the library where my older two had a class about gardening.  We plan to attempt another park quest tomorrow.  Fingers crossed….they don’t seem to be working out for us most times.  O yeah, I also signed on as a SimplyFun consultant and got my kit this week, as well as a HUGE Usborne books order for the new year!  I love packages!  (Probably a bit too much).

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Linking up at:
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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Review: Memoria Press: Astronomy and Greek Myths

Memoria Press Review


For this review we tried out The Book of Astronomy and D’AULAIRES’ Greek Myths by Memoria Press

Memoria Press specializes in Classical Education.  These two curriculums are designed for grades 3+ and can be used together or independent of one another. 

Classical education focuses a lot on memorization.  These books, particularly the Astronomy book is exhibits this. 

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The Book of Astronomy focuses on learning the constellations and the brightest stars in the sky.  Each lesson the 15 brightest stars are written in order by brightness, and each additional lesson builds upon that by introducing a constellation that includes one of those stars.  Each constellation is talked about and a written exercise follows (questions and answers format).  They are also asked to draw and label the constellations from a blank star map. 

The lessons often cross reference the D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths, which is why The Book of Astronomy goes well with the D’Aulaires Greek Myths curriculum. 

The Teacher Guide for Book of Astronomy is quite handy, as it has the answers to the written exercises. 

We spent about 2 days on each lesson of Astronomy. 

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D’Aulaires’ Greek Myths is also in workbook format.  Each lesson includes Facts to know, Vocabulary, Comprehension questions and Activities that correspond with the stories in the book D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths.  The format of this curriculum is quite similar to that of the New Testament curriculum we reviewed earlier. 

Greek Myths also includes flash cards to aide in the memorization of the Greek Myth characters. 

The Teacher Guide for Greek Myths is also a handy addition for answers.

We spent about 5 days on each Greek Myths lesson, we skipped around based on the order in the Book of Astronomy of constellations.  We took one day to read the story and then one day for each section per lesson. Lessons probably could be completed faster or slower, there is room individual adjustment.

If you follow the classical model, I highly recommend both of these curriculum, and Memoria Press.  If you are not familiar with the classical method, I suggest you research it thoroughly. 

As previously mentioned it does incorporate memorization, it also includes a lot of writing in workbooks.  My son is a struggling writher and found the work monotonous.  He didn’t really enjoy it. 

The lessons, however, are very thorough and there is much to be learned by this method, if it’s a good match for your child. 

For the Astronomy we incorporated some more hands on projects to apply what was being taught/learned.  This is also an option for those that are more kinesthetic learners.  

When choosing a curriculum/method I feel it is important to focus on how your child learns best and your vision of your homeschool.    If classical is a good fit for your homeschool, I suggest looking into Memoria Press.  They have a wide variety of options available and all are high quality!

The D’Aulaires’ Greek Myths set can be purchased for $45.95 or as individual items.  The Book of Astronomy set can be purchased for $31.90 or as individual items.

Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of this product in exchange for my honest review.  I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way.  All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family.  I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC Regulations.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Review: Alpha Omega Publications, Horizons First Grade Penmanship Set (TOS Review)

Horizons Penmanship Review

For this review we used Horizons 1st Grade Penmanship Set by Alpha Omega Publications.  I used this with my 6 year old son who is entering first grade this new school year.  We used this each school day (3-4 days a week), some days he would just do a line or two, other days he would do a page or two.  I just let him do what he felt like doing.

What I liked about this curriculum was that the pages concentrate more on the finite strokes (at least in the beginning pages), then moves on to letters and words.  It really focuses on getting the simple things right to improve overall handwriting.

I threw in a salt tray a few times for my son to practice the forms from the book to get some extra practice in a more hands on method.

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This is the child that is VERY picky about curriculum; I often have a hard time doing review items with him because he is so picky.  He has really enjoyed this book; just today he did like 4 pages in it (his own choosing).   He liked that some of the things he worked on today were “like cursive”.  They were squiqqly lines that connected to master the curved lines in letters like U. 

There is a teacher’s manual that comes in the set, which I did have to reference a few times when I wasn’t quite sure what he was supposed to do on a certain page, so I would recommend it.

If you have a child who has difficulty forming letters, I think this would be a good choice in handwriting, because of its focus on the strokes, at first, as opposed to the actual letter formation.  It does gradually work into letters, but it really works on the smaller picture first.  I think this is why my son liked it so much.

Each page is set up with solid line tracing, dotted line tracing and then blank lines to make the marks on their own space. 

The approach confused my son at first, because he was use to writing letters for handwriting, but he really embraced this method.  The salt tray is just an extra add on for more practice, it gives it a sensory/hands on approach, it is not required nor recommended by the workbook.  I do however, suggest it for children who have difficulty writing. 

This workbook would be great for those that are struggling in handwriting, or for those that want to improve their handwriting, making it neater or more legible.  Those who are already very proficient in writing may find the beginning tasks tedious, however. 

The book starts with circles and lines, and continues into a wide variety of lines, curves and circles.  By lesson 16, they are introducing lowercase letters (these are introduced first, which is different in my experience) as well as some small words, numbers and punctuation marks.  Lesson 36 starts capital letters. Afterwards they gradually introduce sentences.  Horizons is a Christian based program, sentences typically consist of scripture verses.  Each lesson typically builds on the previous one, which is nice, because it is constantly reviewing and building upon skills.

Instruction is provided for both right and left handed individuals.  They use a fun rocket diagram to help guide letter formation.   

The Penmanship Set is $32.95 and includes the consumable Student Workbook and the Teacher’s Guide. 

Alpha Omega Review
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Friday, August 14, 2015

A Projected Day in the Life of Chestnut Grove Academy for the New School Year#Homeschool #TOSReviewCrew #HSConnect


I have 4 kids – Ages 9, 6, 4, and 22mos (Grades 4th, 1st, PreK and Tot)

My oldest is the first one up everyday, though he has stopped getting up as early most days (use to be 5am).  He has daily computer school work that he does first thing, after taking the dog out and getting breakfast.


Typically Everyday

Well the following morning routine is typical Monday through Friday.  The exceptions would be field trip or co-op days (mentioned below).  I have times listed, but these are more of a general time frame, I’m not a huge stickler for the time. But the closer we stick to the schedule, the better it is for everyone.

0900  - We recently implemented our morning scripture study during breakfast.  It’s one of the few times we are all in one place (well, minus hubby, so we do it again at night.  This also makes it a little more fool proof, so even if we forget one, we still get in one study a day!).  I also read a story from The Friend magazine (a church magazine subscription for kids).  This has seriously CHANGED our homeschool!  I notice such a HUGE (and not good) difference on days we don’t do it!  The kids notice too!

930 – We aim to start the school day, sometimes I send C down by himself to get started.  This year I plan to print his daily schedule from Homeschool Planet so he can check off everything (including getting dressed, brushing teeth…stuff he never remembers to do)

1000/1030 – Snack Time (usually, depends on how late we he breakfast)

1030/1100 – I call the other two in to start their school work (they have been having free time)

1230 –  Lunch.  I wish I was inventive for lunch, typically it’s leftovers, PBJ or Mac and Cheese….I tried to get more creative, but I fizzled! 

During lunch or directly after is when I do our read aloud story.    I much prefer audio books, my voice gets tired! If we do Audio I play it during lunch, it helps keep them civilized during lunch time.  By this point I really need a time out period for myself, so I usually step away during lunch. 

This is the most ‘structured’ time of the day, though it’s still subject to change and open to changes any give day!

Now, here is where our routine begins to vary by day-

Monday and Wednesday

1330-1430 –  We are not sure if MMA is going to have a homeschool class again this  year, it depends on interest levels…last year there were only 4 kids, 3 of which were mine.  They enjoyed MMA, but it will save us money if they don’t have it, but I also loose my kid free errand time…. K can get a nap though which is good!

1930 – Monday – Family Home Evening - FHE always has a treat too, so the one night a week we get dessert (unless we also have company, like the missionaries, sometime that week).


Tuesday and every other Thursday

These are either a Field Trip Day (though they can happen any day really) or it’s a stay home and chill day.  I’ll put Baby girl down for an afternoon nap so that we can get some art in or play some games.  We will sometimes get some educational TV time in.

1900 - Tuesday – C has Cub Scouts from 7-8p. 

The Other Thursday

0800 – Leave for co-op, co-op is about 45mins away.  I try to leave by 8 in case we get stuck behind a bus or hit some traffic.  We are always early, but it’s better than being late!
0900-1300 – Co-op


1000 – Leave for swimming
1030-1200 – Swimming – they get 45mins of lessons and 45mins of free swim!  It’s a great set up!


1300+ Down time.  C finishes up computer work he may not have finished, kids can watch some educational shows, go outside, play games, etc. K takes a 1-2 hour nap. We don’t usually do any school in the afternoon, I don’t function well in the afternoon, neither does C.  It gets ugly.  Sometimes I’ll just veg for a bit and catch a short show myself. I need to get back into doing my 7min workouts…they really helped!  (note to self)

1630 – Hubby gets home around this time and takes over the kids!  Thank goodness!  This frees me up to do planning, blogging, picking up and getting dinner started!  

1700/1730 – Dinner

FALL TIME – it’s SOCCER season:  Z has practice M and W from 1800-1900, C has practice W and Th from 1800-1930 and c has practice on Saturdays.  They all have games on Saturday.  This is were we need to get inventive…. Wednesday’s are hard b/c practice is at two different locations, Saturdays…well, once the schedule comes out we will have a better idea how that will work.

1830/1900 – Baths – Hubby has bath duty! 

1930 – Scriptures, Prayer, Stories and Bedtime, Hubby’s job as well!  (Though Scriptures and Prayer is as a family)

I spend the rest of the evening cleaning up, blogging, planning and setting up for the next school day. Setting up for next day consists of making copies I may need (if I didn’t already) and making sure their workboxes are ready to go! Each week I fill in the lessons on Homeschool Planet, each night I update them and print the next days schedule. Hubby exercises and we take turns doing dishes, depends on how much I have to get done.

I typically head to bed around 2200 and read for a bit.  Asleep by 2300. Then it begins again the next day! 

So that is a typical week.  Some times we get a few curve balls thrown at us and change things up. For instance, If we miss one of the martial arts day time classes because of a field trip, we can pick up a Thursday night. 

Chores:  I don’t have a specific chore time scheduled, I know some people do.  It’s on ‘as needed’ basis.  If the dishwasher is full, I’ll ask someone to empty it.  If I need to wash the boy’s laundry, I’ll ask someone to take it down.  The kids do have chores and are expected to help out when needed.  They are paid for ‘some’ chores, though other chores are considered responsibilities as part of the family. 

How do I keep it all straight? This year I am using Homeschool Planet and I always set the alarm on my phone!  I set it to go off about 15mins BEFORE we are suppose to leave,so that we have time to get ready to go.  If I don’t, I forget things! 

Schedule of Subjects:  Because we really only maintain a 3/4 days a week of school schedule our daily school agenda varies.  I’m still working out kinks to make sure we cover everything. But here is the plan for my 4th grader: 

5 days a week:  Computer work:  Math, Chinese, Grammar IXL, Scriptures, Handwriting

3 days a week:  Computer work:  History, Star Toaster, Writing

2 days a week:  Computer work:  Vocabulary, Grammar, Spelling

One day a week:  Science, History, Art/Music (every other week), Field Trip

*The one day a week items will most likely be incorporated throughout the week via educational shows, hands on activities, books, etc….  The actual lesson for each week will only take place once a week however. 

Co-op:  Every other Thursday: 

c – Health, Story Time and Dramatic Play
Z – Health, Lego Engineering and Animals and Continents
C – Maps, George Washington and Experiments with Lights

For my younger kids we will have Math, Reading every day in some capacity and Handwriting every school day. 

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Here is a screenshot of our first week of school for the new school year with Homeschool Planet.  It still needs to be tweaked a bit, I do that the start of each week! 

So that’s our Day/Week in a nutshell! 


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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Through the Eyes of the Student–Meet My Students #Homeschool #TOSReviewCrew #HSConnect with #Free Printable Student Survey

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C – 4th grade, will be 9 on the 18th

When I grow up I want to be: A video game tester
Favorite Color: Rainbow
Favorite Snack: Nutella to Go
Favorite Cereal: Cinnamon Toast Crunch
Favorite book: Minecraft books
Favorite holiday: My birthday
Favorite food: Pizza
Favorite game: Lord of the Rings Risk
Favorite hobby: LEGO
Favorite thing about homeschooling: Takes less time
Favorite subject: Star Toaster
3 words that describe me: Happy, Fun and Skillful
Something I’m good at: Shooting

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Z – 1st Grade, 6years old

When I grow up I want to be: ??
Favorite Color: Blue
Favorite Snack: Peanut Butter Granola Bars
Favorite Cereal: Cinnamon Toast Crunch
Favorite book: Star Wars books
Favorite holiday: Christmas
Favorite food: Pizza
Favorite game: Axis & Allies
Favorite hobby: Soccer
Favorite thing about homeschooling: Playing games
Favorite subject: Star Wars
3 words that describe me: happy, sad, glad
Something I’m good at: Soccer

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c – PreK, 4years old (5 in November)

When I grow up I want to be: Pizza hut worker
Favorite Color: blue & green
Favorite Snack: Peanut Butter crackers
Favorite Cereal: Cinnamon Toast Crunch
Favorite book: Star Wars books
Favorite holiday: Halloween
Favorite food: Pizza
Favorite game: Lord of the Rings Risk
Favorite hobby: Soccer
Favorite thing about homeschooling: Animal Workboxes
Favorite subject: animals
3 words that describe me: (per me) Silly, Fun and Loveable
Something I’m good at: soccer

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K – she’ll be 2 in October

(filled out by me)
Favorite Color: pink
Favorite Snack: fruit
Favorite Cereal: Cinnamon Toast Crunch
Favorite book: Curious George books
Favorite holiday: Christmas
Favorite food: fruit
Favorite game: Monkey Preschool Lunchbox
Favorite hobby: watching Curious George
Favorite thing about homeschooling: getting into things!
Favorite subject: Playdough and stickers
3 words that describe me: Dramatic, Silly and Entertaining
Something I’m good at: Giving hugs and kisses

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Throwback from last year!


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