Archive | learning at home RSS feed for this section

Fun Educational Gift Ideas for Little Ones

My goal this year was to focus on simple educational resources for my little ones that would be fun, could be enjoyed together or independently, and would help stimulate their brains and critical thinking skills. We have more than enough toys in our house and find they get old very easily. I grow tired of the clutter of toys anyway, so even with gifts from the grandparents, we ask for family memberships to a local museum that could be enjoyed again and again, or gift certificates to local children’s plays or musical performances. These are some of the best gifts that I have discovered that really build the thinking skills but are tons of fun at the same time, most appropriate for 2-6 years of age (although many are suitable for older children as well)!

LOGIC / BUILDING TOYS

Day and Night - this is a great little smart games toy perfect for 3-5 year olds in which you try to copy the picture by using the included blocks in a stacking pattern on the stand included. It has two different levels so can easily extend its use as your child gets older. I got this for my 3 year old son this year for his quiet time learning bins time.

Camelot Jr - another logic puzzle similar to Day and Night in which you build different road patterns to join the knight and the princess together but more advanced for ages 4 and older. Both are appropriate for boys and girls!

Wedgits - We bought these blocks for our learning bin time and the kids have had a blast creatively nesting, stacking, and linking these blocks together! This 30 piece set has a wealth of different creations you can make! Tons of fun! You can also get Wee Wedgits which are suitable for 12 months or older.

PUZZLES

You can’t go wrong with a good collection of puzzles! We enjoy the huge collection of Melissa & Doug wooden puzzles with 12 to 24 piece collections. While recently studying the solar system, we bought the Solar System floor puzzle and had hours of fun and learning time building it together. The GeoPuzzle collection (pictured above) is a wonderful resource for teaching geography and have fun assembling these continent puzzles at the same time.

GAMES

Candyland and Chutes and Ladders are fun but not very stimulating in my opinion. Here are some really fun games that are educational as well!

Spot It! - my kids loves this simple game in which you have to find the matching items between each card. There are many different variations to this game, but its fun to know that every two cards have some similar item to spot. Once you find it, you yell, “Spot It!” My daughter is actually quite superior at this game then myself.

Hiss – this is a new game to our collection this year! As the description states, as each Hisss snake slithers its way across the playing area it introduces color identification and visual logic: Does it make sense to have a snake with two tails and no head? Are those two colors the same or not? Even elementary counting skills come into play during scoring at the end of the game.

My First Uno – a fun stocking stuffer! Learn color and number identification with this fun and simplified version of Uno for ages 3 and up.

Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks Game - another fun stocking stuffer game for your little guy that reinforces numbers and counting with a favorite book theme that we all love! Classic Memory Game – you can’t go wrong with the fun game of Memory in this classic and beautiful edition. Eeboo makes multiple different memory games that are all colorful and of high quality. My 3 and 5 year olds both love this game and I have been amazed at how well my little guy does at it!

Richard Scarry’s Busytown - Before we take our annual vacation every year, our tradition is to buy a new board game that we can enjoy together on the trip. This year we picked up this Busytown game (because we love the book!), and had a blast using the magnifying glasses to find all the items hidden throughout the town. Great teamwork, matching, and object identification game!

Zoologic - An addictive game of deduction and logic. Players fill in the grid with the animals and food tiles, while avoiding chaos. Can be played together or independently.

Brain Quest - these learning card stacks are a favorite at our house! I love cuddling up with my little ones and looking at the pictures and answering the questions of each set in this collection that teaches essential learning skills advances with their age. I’ve been using the My First Brain Quest & Brain Quest for Threes as part of our preschool one on one time with my 3 year old son and the Kindergarten set with my daughter. Great stocking stuffer!

For other ideas, check out our Tools Instead of Toys post for a collection of wonderful real life tools and resources to invest in for your children’s development and education.

This post includes affiliate links to products that we use and love. Know that we do receive a small percentage of each sale made through these links. Thanks for supporting this site and our family ministry!

Comments { 16 }

Quiet Time Learning Bins for Little Ones

I have recently been trying to get a bit more organized in two areas:

1. Keeping my toddler engaged while I work homeschooling my Kindergarten daughter and vis versa.

2. Maintaining a peaceful nap period every afternoon.

I wanted some fun educational resources for my little ones to be able to work at independently while I rotated between working with each of them one on one. We also have a daily rest period after lunch when everyone goes to their special place (in their bedroom or elsewhere) for a quiet time or nap time according to their age. This is a time for us all to refresh ourselves with rest or quiet independent play. I find it essential for this mommy to have this period during our day to revitalize myself for the rest of the day. It allows me time to write, read, nap if necessary, and do a few clean up tasks here and there.

How do I keep everyone engaged but quiet during these periods?

I heard about the idea of quiet time bins in years past, so I knew it was about time to get creative and make something of it for our home. This one simple idea is a great solution for both my dilemmas mentioned above.

We compiled 5 individuals boxes for each child with 5 different activities for 5 days of the week.

I found these simple plastic organization shoe box bins at my local Dollar Store.

In each box, I picked out various age appropriate activities. I wanted educational, logic building, hands on, creativity inspiring activities, so we chose the following:

Toddler/Preschooler (2-4 years):
Beginner Puzzles (I found some cheap box puzzles at Dollar Store that I put in small ziploc bags)
Playdough (a few cans of playdough with cookie cutters -again, playdough is from Dollar Store – 4 colors for $1) – this is just an activity we use during school time because of the mess involved
Wedgits
Day & Night Logic Game
Pattern Blocks & Boards

Other ideas: Kumon First Step Workbooks (w/beginner scissors) – we have used and enjoyed these books in the past! Another favorite is My Book of Easy Mazes for this age group.

Kindergarten (5-7 years):
Sewing Cards
Magnetic Dolls Dress Up
Advanced puzzles (Stored in small ziploc bags and cut out small image of completed puzzle from original box)
Zoologic
Never Bored Kids Book or Kumon Cutting Workbook (with scissors, glue and other supplies)

We labeled each box according to the day of the week for its use. This allows the activities to be rotated and continue to be fresh with each week. Each day, I work for a 30 minute period with my toddler and my daughter plays with one of her boxes or works on independent school work. During rest time, if my toddler doesn’t sleep, as happens occasionally, I will also allow him to pull out a box. My daughter listens to books on tape and may occasionally play with her daily activity box during rest period as well. I have found it works the best keeping one busy at the counter while I spend some quality time with the other.

This is just a simple tool to keep everyone busy and engaged and your home running smoothly during these periods of your day.

For other ideas, check out these posts:

Quiet Time Bins – Keeper of the Home

How to Make Quiet Time Activity Bins – Nice Girl Notes

Quiet Time Bins – Holistic Homemaker

This post includes affiliate links to product recommendations that we use and love. Please note we do receive a small percentage of each purchase made through our links that help to support this site. 

Comments { 30 }

Juggling Homeschooling with Littles and Life

We have completed our first month in our new homeschooling routine at our house and my plan has certainly seen some adjustments. I never imagined the challenges of juggling time with each child in addition to feeding, changing diapers, and keeping the little ones happy. I didn’t think morning nap periods for my infant would change so drastically within a month period. There have been moments when I have been ready to throw in the towel when a child is inattentive, experiencing frustration, or not desirous to do anything. Balancing discipline and encouragement is a challenge. I imagined it all would just be so beautiful. I might just finally get everyone quiet and seated next to me on the couch to do the next period of school only to have baby start screaming through the monitor. How do you keep everything running peacefully and still keep the house in order?

At the same time, learning alongside my children has brought the greatest joy to my soul. As I sit and guide my daughter into the world of reading, my heart rejoices that I get to take her on this journey. To watch as they delight in science experiments and drawing projects, my heart rejoices that I am privileged to take responsibility of their education. Each sweet moment as we cuddle on the couch, I rejoice because they are with me. I get to speak hourly into their life. We get to clean our house together, prepare meals side by side, and learn life skills every moment as education becomes a lifestyle rather than a program. To know that I get to speak the love of Christ into their little souls and guide them, Lord willing, to a Christ centered worldview, I feel honored.

I have searched homeschooling forums and asked many a homeschooling mom how she does it all, because although I might be a homeschooling graduate, I have no idea how my own mom did it with three little ones, let alone managing the eight of us that she had.

It takes a godly determination to do this thing. I have to keep my vision and purpose in the forefront of my mind. Why am I doing this homeschooling thing again? (To learn more about why we have chosen to homeschool, visit here.)

1. Pick your priorities and do them first thing.

The most important things in my book are math and phonics. These are also the more difficult subjects and easy for little ones to get distracted. Do these things first thing in the schedule when the students are freshest.

2. Rotate fun and harder subjects.

To keep things fresh and fun, rotate between the subjects your kids love and the ones that are more challenging. In this way, we do math and phonics, then circle time (fun period), and then workbooks (a mix of fun and challenging).

3. You don’t have to do everything EVERY day.

The greatest encouragement I found was in this simple truth: you don’t have to do every subject every day! Since math and phonics are the priority this first year, we do these subjects each day. But history and science I was trying to do every day too which was driving me crazy to get it all done while still keeping them happy in their learning. So, I scratched that. I decided to do two days of science and two days of history, and then leave Friday open for art projects, music, and science experiments. A breath of fresh air.

4. Keep baby busy in the play pen.

I have found setting up a pack n play with lots of little exploratory toys is great for keeping babies busy during school periods. You might adjust to different stations as the baby gets bigger. Playdough station, coloring station, blocks station, etc. I remember keeping my 2 year old busy in this fashion last year. 15 minute time blocks at each station. Now, I often have my 3 year old play in the pack n play with baby while I work with big sister during the first hour if baby is not napping.

5. Keep the toddlers learning alongside big siblings.

As much as possible, I keep my toddler sitting alongside us during our circle time. This is great training ground for teaching him to sit still and learn together. I require him to sit for at least the initial 30 minutes then I release him to cruise around and play.

6. Take regular short breaks.

I have divided our schedule into 2 solid hour blocks. The first hour is math and phonics (for my 5 year old alone). The second hour is circle time, which includes Bible, Character, Memory work, History or Science, and Read Alouds. My 3 year old sits in on this period. Finally, during lunch preparations, I have both of my kids at the counter doing their workbooks while I prepare lunch (Karis is doing her math, criticial thinking, and copywork books, and Titus is doing a preschool workbook series -love the frugal simplicity of Rod & Staff books). But after each 30 minute to one hour period, I give the kids a thirty minute break to get out and play. This is when I do my housecleaning task for the day, clean up the dishes, do dinner prep, and care for baby as needed. So it adjusts daily, but I will often work for 30 minutes on math, then a 15 minute break, followed by 30 minutes of phonics and reading practice, then another short break.

So in this manner, I’ve simplified the schedule drastically. I want to keep the experience fun and the learning environment enjoyable. They are still little and we have many years ahead of us.

I need to learn to enjoy the journey and remember…learning is a lifestyle. They are learning as we do household chores together, as we prepare meals together in the kitchen, as we set the table and practice our manners at meal times. Education is not limited to the class room. There is grace to adjust and flex the routine as needed. And praise God other women have gone before me!

Comments { 42 }

Exodus Books Giveaway!

We are excited to bring to you a fun giveaway today from one of my favorite homeschool and Christian resource supply stores, Exodus Books, which is family owned small business located here Portland, Oregon. Exodus Books offers thousands of hand-picked literature and fiction titles and hundreds of life-enriching, God-centered resources. You will find family oriented games and art supplies in their wide selection.

Exodus Books offers a huge assortment of over 15,000 used curriculum and books, making it truly affordable for you to find the resources you need at a great price. I personally have used their large selection to buy the majority of books I have needed to companion our choice of the Sonlight curriculum, which has made it so much more doable for our family. All their new and used resources are also available for purchase online and they  offer a flat rate shipping of just $4.99.

I love browsing Exodus Books, online or in person, and greatly appreciate the helpful staff and the thorough online personal reviews offered on every resource in their store, helping me make informed decisions. Their website is new and improved making it easily navigable and user friendly. It’s back to school season, so may I encourage you to find your homeschool resources here! Save 15% today! See below for details.

Today, Exodus Books would like to offer a bundle prize of 5 great resources that feature different aspects of their store to 3 special winners! This bundle is valued at $92!

Cathy Duffy 100 Top PicksCathy Duffy has been reviewing home school curriculum for more than 20 years and her 100 Top Picks consolidates many of her favorites into one place. It provides a great starting point for those investigating educational philosophy and learning styles, helping you choose curriculum that is right for each child.

Honey for a Child’s HeartA helpful companion for finding the best quality literature for your family. This book discusses the importance of reading, various genres (science fiction, poetry, animal stories, etc.), and also includes extended book lists—over 1000 recommended titles! Many of these titles can be found through Exodus Books here.

Timechart History of the World
- Are you looking for a good timeline of world history? This book, with a nearly 16 foot fold out timeline is the best answer. On one side, the timeline offers 6,000 years of world history at a glance—thousands of dates, facts, and quotes in chronological sequence. On the other side, you can find charts of explorers, inventions, wars, and significant events of the 20th and early 21st centuries. Exodus offer it to accent their history resource section, where you can search for a given period (say, Ancient Rome) and then filter it by grade level and type of book: historical fiction, biographies, activity books and more.

Dutch BlitzThe first game Exodus started carrying remains their best seller. It’s an inexpensive and super fun card game from the Pennsylvania Amish–sort of a combination of Speed and Solitaire (but for up to four players). Not the only game they carry; there are nearly 300 board and card games in-stock!

Long Story ShortThis is a fabulous resource to help facilitate your own family worship and devotional time for children of all ages. It has a simple layout with specific passages of Scripture and discussion questions, making it adaptable for how much or how little time you have. It traces the story of God throughout the whole Old Testament, linking every story back to Christ. We love this guide!

TO ENTER:

1. Visit Exodus Books and check out their wide selection of resources. Find your favorite resource or feature on the site and share with us in the comments below. 

2. For a second optional entry, subscribe to the Exodus Books newsletter and let us know in a second comment below.

Exodus Books is offering our readers a special discount code towards your purchase. Enter coupon code: Passion2012 for 15% off a single order before August 15th, 2012. No minimum. The coupon cannot be applied to already discounted items or books that are non-discountable. The shopping cart with coupon code will display final prices and no adjustments can be made.

Like” Exodus Books on facebook and stay informed on the latest information and sales!

Giveaway Closed.

And the winners are…

1. Katie T (katrinafaust@….): “Wow, so many great resources. I am planning on reading the 100 Top Picks book and was also excited about the Doorposts character training materials on the site. Would LOVE to win all this as we prepare to homeschool in a year.”

2. Laura (laurachristinerodr…@): “I like the wide selection of Bible materials for the nursery school age!”

3. Heather H ( heatherehamm…@): “I love the wide range of homeschooling resources they offer – and the used book section (though I wish I could GO to the store…kind of far from Michigan :) . Love to hear about more homeschooling resources out there. Thanks for the giveaway!”

The gift bundle prize is open to US participants only. If a Canadian or other international participant wins, they will offer a $90 gift certificate equivalent. 

Winner will be randomly selected and contacted on the Wednesday following the completion of the giveaway. The end of this post will be updated to announce the winners. 
Email subscribers: You must click through to the original post on Passionate Homemaking to be entered into this giveaway.
No purchase necessary.

Passionate Homemaking was compensated for this review. There are affilate links in this post which means we will receive a small percentage of any sale made through our links. We only recommend products we use and love and want to pass on to you! Thank you!

Comments are closed

Summer Reading at Our Home

One of my goals this summer was and is to simply take more time in my day to just simply read. To cut back on all the outside activities we could participate in and spend a lot of quality and personal time reading books. We’ve been cutting back on many things lately amidst the challenges of launching a business, so we can have more intentional family time together. Thus my absence from the blog recently (which will continue through the remainder of the summer). I love cuddling up during our daily rest time routine and read a quality novel or inspirational book. My goal…1 hour per day for my own personal reading and 1 hour with the kiddos reading classic chapter books. Bring it on!

Here’s our list:

Chapter Books With the Kiddos

Here’s A Penny & Penny and Peter by Carolyn Haywood

The Ralph Mouse Collection (The Mouse & The Motorcycle, Runaway Ralph & Ralph S. Mouse) by Beverly Cleary

My Personal List:

Crime & Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky – This is an amazing classic and story of redemption that was simply fabulous. I want to keep a good mix of old and new books on my list to stretch my mind at all times. It has been my favorite classic yet!

Create: Stop Making Excuses and Start Making Stuff by Stephen Altrogge – We are all creative and we need to start living like we are. We each have unique gifts entrusted to our care. This ebook is a short and quick read that will get you motivated to create beauty in your sphere for your Creator.

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers – a retelling of the story of Hosea in California gold rush days, communicating the powerful love of God. Never read anything of Rivers so I am intrigued to read this one.

Knowing God by J. I. Packer – a rich theological book that beautifully describes the nature and attributes of God. Reading together with my hubby before bedtime and my heart is being renewed and strengthened while being enraptured into the splendor of our Creator.

On Writing Well by William Zinsser – Do you want to learn to write well? Well, I do. Thus this book is on my list. I want to take more consistent steps towards growing and improving my writing skills. Always learning, always writing…that’s my goal.

Shaping of A Christian Family by Elisabeth Elliot – This book gives you a close up look into the way that Elisabeth Elliot was raised and how her parents took faithful and intentional steps towards raising their children to be godly and intelligent adults who desire to serve the Lord. Simple, Biblical wisdom.

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty – Loved this novel! I am always cautious when it comes to novels as they can be quite intoxicating and ultimately time-wasting if I get caught up in them at the sacrifice of my other priorities, but the occasional novel can be very refreshing break. What Alice Forgot tells the story of how Alice falls and forgets ten years of her life and was a fresh reminder to me of the preciousness of life. I have been inspired again to be intentional, to appreciate my husband, and to treasure the fact that the Lord has given me three special gifts of life in my children.

True Woman 101: Divine Design by Nancy Leigh Demoss & Mary Kassian – so far this Bible study has been A+! My mind is being challenged to truly know and hold fast to God’s beautiful design for me as a women. His design is at the core of the work of redemption because it is designed to image the glorious relationship of Christ to His church. I’m posting the audio for our discussion here on the blog each week.

Anything: The Prayer that Unlocked My God and My Soul by Jennie Allen -thanks to Simple Mom‘s recommendation of this one, I was excited to pick up a book that would continue to challenge me to live intentionally for the Lord whatever the cost. We need these reminders on a regular basis in our culture when it is so easy to become consumed in ourself and our material accumulation.

That’s all for now! Can she read them all before the end of August? Well…I admit I did have a head start.

What’s on your summer reading list? Any good recommendations you want to offer?

Comments { 42 }

Homemade Summer Fun with Children

Guest post by Jaimi Erickson at The Stay-at-Home-Mom Survival Guide

Playing outdoors is one way for my children to explore God in their lives. Children in concrete stages of development love to explore by doing and outdoor time allows for so much exploration and learning. My children are ‘outdoor kids’, large motor machines. They need to get outside in order to keep their spirits in balance-I need that too. Thankfully summer provides a multitude of outdoor time for fun-and learning.

Having a 4-year old and a 15-month old allows me to bridge activities for two different skill levels, but two always-eager participants in any homemade ‘game’!  Some summer climates limit how many hours can be spent outside in a day. When we experience temps reaching 100+degrees, or afternoon downpours, we need to adapt our outdoor plan to work inside. This list of activities can be taken outdoors, but will work inside as well.  These are quick to create, low-to-no-cost (my mantra), and although are written with a preschooler in mind, I have noted how they can be adapted for younger ones.

1. Homemade Hopscotch Fun

On a rainy day, I used duct tape to create a hopscotch pattern on the back of a yoga mat. In about 10 minutes we had a new game to play that allowed us to burn some energy! We used homemade bean bags to toss. This game reinforced number recognition, exercised eye-hand coordination, and allowed for some gross motor movement to burn energy and work on balance.

[Adaptation:  I encouraged my toddler to step on the numbers and then I named them, or she tossed a beanbag and I identified on which number the bag landed.]

2. Homemade Bean Bags and Games

I made bean bags with scrap fabric, dry beans, and some quick stitches on the sewing machine.  They provided so much indoor (or outdoor) fun. We played “Simon Says”. (i.e. “Simon Says” put the bean bag on your head.”) We sang “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” and placed the bean bag on each part.  We tossed them into a laundry basket from different distances (marked by masking tape on the floor). We each took turns hiding one bag in order to let each other seek it out. We worked on teamwork, large motor movement and vocabulary.

[Adaptation: I made bean bags in primary colors, so they could be used for color recognition. My young toddler LOVES learning to identify new body parts, so I placed the bean bag on her head, shoulder, arm, etc. while I said the name of each part to help reinforce this learning.]

3. Drop Cloth Painting Canvas

My children love art and creating artwork to send to the grandparents, so I am always looking for new materials to explore within our budget. I found an inexpensive drop cloth and cut it in quarters. This can be pinned to a wall, lightly nailed or clamped to a fence outdoors, or taped to a window inside to allow for a large painting surface. (I wanted to do this outside, but it rained so we improvised indoors!) Increasing the surface area where they could paint, and pinning the canvas up, involved more gross motor movement and added interest.

[Adaptation: My toddler painted on the lower half while my preschooler painted near the top so they were separate by working together.]

4. Packing Peanut Snow

We live in a hot climate in the southeast. Recently our electricity was out for 48 hours during high temperatures. We needed to do anything to feel cooler. Foam packing peanuts as pretend snow were a hit in our home! My daughter and son enjoyed scooping them, piling them up, and making snow angels while laying in them on the dining room rug. What a great pretend play scenario on a hot day-play like it is cold! Just ‘thinking cold’ and ‘playing in the snow’ of the packing peanuts helped ease our cabin fever. We dropped them from above our heads and tried to catch the ‘snow flakes’ as they fell. They can even be thrown and caught allowing for more muscle movement and exercise.

All of the activities I create are based on observations of my children combined with what they need to learn as they grow to be godly individuals. There are so many ways we can add interest to our time in God’s creation outdoors-or spend our time together while playing inside depending on what the weather will allow. My first ministry mission is to my family. My children want my attention more than anything.  When I combine teaching skills with activities that feed their interests in an intentional way, we have fun whether during a rainy ‘indoor day’ or an outside day in the sun.

Jaimi Erickson is a woman living in service to God’s mission. She ministers daily to her husband and two children as a stay-at-home mom and homemaker. She formerly served as a teacher in the Early Childhood field.  Jaimi shares motivation for stay-at-home-moms, household tips, and developmentally appropriate make-at-home activities for infants and up on her blog The Stay-At-Home-Mom Survival Guide.

Comments { 8 }

Tucking Them in With Truth: Scripture Memory with Little Ones

My desire is that my children would come to love and uphold the truth of Scripture in their precious hearts from their infancy. My prayer is that we might plant seeds of the gospel in their tender souls so they would desire to walk closely with Christ. I want to be able to memorize Scripture together with my children – combining storing truth in my heart and in their hearts at the same time. But how can this be done in a doable simple manner?

I was recently reading, Shaping of A Christian Family, by Elisabeth Elliot, and was inspired by her mother’s writing in the introduction with this simple challenge:

“I found that simply repeating Psalms 23 each night to Jim after he was tucked in bed was a painless way of implanting this beautiful song of David in his heart and mind. Winthin a week he was beginning to say it with me, and it was part of the going-to-bed ritual. As he mastered Psalms 23, we added other Scripture.

In teaching young children, it is well to remember the words in Isaiah 28:10, ‘For precept must be upon precept, line upon line, here a little and there a little.‘ It is thus our patient God has dealt with us; and so we must deal with our little ones, repeating often the Word of God so that it will be hidden in their hearts so they will ‘not sin against God’.”

Scripture memory doesn’t have to be complex and overwhelming. It simply requires repetition. I think the key here for me was the idea of simply adding it to one of our other regular routines – bedtime! We already have a regular bedtime routine established which helps settle the little ones down for the night in a peaceful manner. Why not follow the challenge to just read an adopted portion of Scripture for memory work during this time?

In this past month, we started our bedtime routine with reading a passage of Scripture, followed by a bedtime story, before tucking them in with a goodnight prayer. We began with Psalms 23 as Elliot’s mother had suggested. We read it multiple times a week for a two week period. It took maybe 5 minutes of time. We all just listened as I read it twice. In just two weeks, I was blown away at how both my 5 and 3 year old had memorized it completely.

I knew my 5 year old could do it as we have memorized a fair amount before…but hadn’t tested my 3 year old son. I finally randomly asked him if he wanted to share it. With great speed and fluency (even more solidly presented than his older sister), my little guy recited all six verses in rapid time. It was such an encouragement to my soul. These precious souls are listening. Their hearts and minds are ready to be filled with truth and they can memorize more than we can imagine. Since completing Psalms 23, we have memorized The Lord’s Prayer as well as Psalms 1 through this simple habit of reading a chosen portion of Scripture before bed.

Titus would like to share with you Psalms 23…May you be blessed today and encouraged that it is possible to  hide God’s Word in your hearts as a family and in this way prepare your hearts to continue following hard after Him. I share this as an encouragement to all of us that God will reward your faithfulness!

If you can’t view the video, click here.

{Photo Credit}

Comments { 24 }

Kindergarten At Our Home

I am so excited to officially begin Kindergarten this year at our home with my sweet daughter, Karis, who is now 5 years old. After much prayer, I have made some decisions as to how we will approach this new year. My foremost goal is that my children would love to learn and that our home environment would be a place of joyful learning in all areas of life – from nature play to baking in the kitchen to doing our daily chores. I am passionate that my children would have hearts to know and love the Lord and desire to serve him all the days of their life, so character study and Scripture studies are high on the priority list. But I also desire that these beginning years would be full of good memory work in history, language, poetry, and Scripture memory. These are the years when they can memorize like crazy and retain wonderful truths and facts that can be later drawn out and discussed and applied. In this manner, I am adopting many concepts of classical education in our home (chronological history, memory work, etc) but also seeking to balance it with Charlotte Mason’s encouragement to keep learning fun and simple with a focus on nature, music, poetry, narration, and art.

Phonics – My first goal this year is to get my daughter launched in reading. We have started a few unsuccessful times to begin various Phonics programs this last year, but I soon realized it wasn’t worth it to push it too hard until she was more ready. So, this year we are going to start afresh. I am going to use Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons and Bob Books.

Memory Work – We will be memorizing one short poem each month, a passage of Scripture, importance facts (address, months of the year, etc), and Westminister Shorter Catechism phrases, along with reciting passages of Scripture before bedtime each night. Through repetition and simply reading these things to the kids, they can pick it up so fast. We recently memorized Psalms 23 simply by reading it every night before bed. It took 2 weeks and they had it down. Since we appreciate the approach of Classical Conversations, but have decided not to participate quite yet, we bought the Cycle 1 companion CD with all the memory work set to music. We will listen to this each week and try to memorize along the schedule.

Here is a free download of our Kindergarten memory work for this year (including catechism phrases, verses, basic personal facts and poems).

Bible & Character – We are currently using the ESV Illustrated Bible for our devotions before we start school each morning. This Bible takes specific portions of Scripture directly from the Bible with gorgeous illustrations. It is an awesome way to transition from storybooks to the full Bible. We love to listen to the dramatized Bible on CD while we travel around. A great way to plant the truth in their hearts through simple listening. We will also read the short stories about character qualities with A Child’s Book of Character Building.

History & Geography - We have returned to using the Sonlight Core A Kindergarten program this year. I cannot say enough about how much I love their materials. I love how learning is based in real books. I love the selection of books and the simplicity of having all the lessons mapped out for you. I found most of the books used through Exodus books or Amazon, in order to make it more doable with our budget, but I highly recommend their curriculum packages! Exodus Books is a wonderful local homeschool store that also sells online and they offer tons of used and new curriculum at great prices. We have chosen to just stick with the core curriculum and read-alouds.

We started the Sonlight Core A program about a month ago, and my kids love it (yes, my 3 year old loves sitting in with us too for most of it)! They are always begging for more! I love the Internet Linked Children’s Encylopedia included in this core, because it sends you to wonderful exploratory websites that include additional videos, games, and 3-D tours of different places around the world. I love how Sonlight includes quality poetry, narration practice with discussion questions, quality book choices (we just finished My Father’s Dragon trilogy – so fun!), and freedom to do whatever fits best for your family. We’ll also be reading the Story of the World Volume 1: Ancient Times by Susan Wise Bauer as a family during our read-aloud time on a couple evenings each week.

Science – My vision for science is to be out in nature and enjoying the beauty and wonder of creation with my kids especially during these elementary years. I want them to treasure being outdoors and getting a bigger view of the powerful God we serve as we explore together. I want to spend quality time out in nature with scavenger hunts and nature walks. We plan to use Nature Connection: An Outdoor Workbook for Kids, Families & Classrooms and create a Nature Journal for each of the kids with copies from this book in which we could draw various new observations from nature as well as record made up stories of things we find (I’ll be recording the stories that Karis tells me until she becomes more proficient in writing). This book has tons of ideas for exploring clouds, weather patterns, nature walks, and so much more. This will last many years as some of the activities are a bit more advanced. We will take the camera and let the kids take photos of things they find as well.

I will also be supplementing with the Christian Liberty Press Nature Reader K (an adorable little book that goes through the alphabet and shares extensively on different animals – A is for Alligator, etc), some of the Moody Science videos, Planet Earth, and a subscription to Big Backyard (an adorable nature magazine for kids 4-8, an awesome birthday gift!), and Nature Friend (a Christ centered creation based magazine). We will just do one of these activities each day, either nature journal, read, watch a video, or check out youtube videos about different animals we observe or read about.

Music – Since my former piano teaching days, I have been eager to begin lessons with my little ones. We will be doing some beginning piano lessons with Karis at home with Music for Little Mozarts curriculum. This is a very simple curriculum that any mommy could teach their kiddos with. I used it extensively with young children and had great success. We also use and love the Classical Kids CD series (which provide fun listening with classical music set in a story) and The Story of the Orchestra (take you on a journey through the instruments in an orchestra).

Copywork – We will be using Copywork I for our handwriting curriculum. I love how this resources uses Scripture as its basis, but also gives freedom to draw pictures and use the imagination.

Math – I’m super excited to read the fabulous reviews on the hands on Montessori based math called RightStart Math. It uses an abacus and tons of math games to make learning fun. We are starting with the Level A set. Ive never been excited about math until I read how this program works and how reviewers said their kids love math with this program. Really? I’m on it!

Since I also believe in establishing good critical thinking and logic skills, we are using Mind Benders Book 1 for a practical workbook on the subject. We also plan to get the game Zoologic for practical fun at this level.

Finally, we are always reading lots of good books! We use recommended list from the 1000 Classic Books list and pick up 10 or so titles every few weeks from our local library.

We will be maintaining a simple schedule that will be completely flexible and adjust as necessary as the year moves on. You can view what our schedule will look like this year here. I am excited to continue the journey of encouraging a love for learning and all the joys that come with the beauty of learning together with my little ones!

This post includes affiliate links, which means we receive a small percentage of each purchase made through our links. We only recommend products that we use and love and we appreciate your support.

Comments { 52 }

Favorite Classic Children’s Books

Regina asked: I was wondering if you ever considered compiling a children’s reading resource list, putting together all of the children’s books you have or would recommend? It could include holiday themed books, faith building, educational, etc. I know that I would find it very helpful.

I have often heard it said that you can never have too many books. Books are such treasures to enjoy. But recently, the thought struck me that you certainly can have too many books, especially if you don’t read them. If you’re shelves are cluttered with tons of titles that are simply collecting dust, then maybe it is time to re-evaluate which ones really do deserve a place on your shelves. We recently did a serious purge with our children’s books. We wanted to keep the treasures and pass on the ones that were falling apart or never really interested the kids. If my children hadn’t grabbed for a title in who knows how long, we decided to say farewell. We currently keep just a small collection of 10-15 books in our living room, toy room, and the kids bedroom. And with a small collection the kids don’t get overwhelmed, and they actually get read and re-read!

I am one that prefers investing in the true classics that had stood the test of time and leave the others to be borrowed from our local library. We also like to buy books in collections, as they save space and money by combining multiple titles under one cover. So here are some of our favorite collections that are worth investing in:

The 20th Century Children’s Book Treasury - this compilation has over 44 classic stories that you’re kids will love in a hardcover book that will last!
Harper Collins Treasury of Picture Book Classics  - a smaller collection of 12 titles including Harold and the Purple Crayon, If You Give A Mouse a Cookie, Caps for Sale, and other fun treasures to enjoy.
The Complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh - all these lovable humorous tales of Winnie the Pooh in one volume.
Beatrix Potter The Complete Tales
Eloise Wilkins Stories – I love these adorably illustrated stories of little ones helping mommy, enjoying God’s creation, and so much more!
Tony Mitton Amazing Machines Collection - this set includes 10 small books for that little boy that loves machines and anything that moves! I absolutely love this set of books that are written in rhyme with great information on how these vehicles work. We recently bought these for my 3 year old Titus and he is in love. I was struggling to find books that interested him until I stumbled on this great collection for such a great price!
Arnold Lobel’s books – My kids can’t get enough of Arnold Lobel’s fun books! We love the Frog & Toad Treasury, in addition to Mouse Soup, Mouse Tales, Owl at Home, and his Mother Goose collection.
Mike Mulligan and More: Four Stories by Virginia Lee Burton - the best of Mike Mulligan, The Little House, and more.
The Little Bear Treasury - Little Bear was one of my favorites as a child.
Dr Seuss Beginner Book Collection - the best lovable Dr. Seuss!
P D Eastman’s Big Blue Book of Beginner Books - a fun collection with Go, Dog, Go!, Put Me in the Zoo, and others.

I am sure there are many more that you could add to this list of the children’s classics, but these are the ones we have most greatly enjoyed and highly recommend!

Recommended Reading List:

Here are some of the recommended classic reading lists that we have found helpful when ordering books from the library. I usually choose 10 titles every 2-3 week period between library visits.

Early Years Read Alouds – this compilation of recommended reading by Charlotte Mason has been my source for finding books for my toddler this past year. Great titles!

1000 Good Book List – this list has been extremely helpful in finding the true classics, picture books and otherwise, to read with our children. We’ve read through nearly all the primary level reading list with my 4 year old this past year and found them very suitable and enjoyable for her level.

Sonlight Reading Lists - I also have found the recommended reading for the various curriculum cores from Sonlight to be a great source for ideas for good quality books. You don’t have to use their curriculum to enjoy the wealth of good books here! I use their lists for many of our educational pursuits.

Here are a few posts from the archives:

Favorite Christian Literature for Ages 0-8 - our favorite Christian titles for your little ones!
Recommended Children’s Books for Christmas - the favorites for the holidays!
Recommended Children’s Books for Easter  - at the bottom of this post you will find a list of book recommendations for Easter

Please note: There are affiliate links in this post which we only use to share products that we truly love and recommend for your family. We receive a small percentage of each sale made through our links which we use to help support an orphan home in India and other ministries. 

Comments { 14 }

Making My Life a Little Easier…

It has been a challenging month at our home. From a bout with insomnia to multiple sick bugs. I am always thankful for the little ideas that the Lord graciously puts in my head for making my life a bit easier as I strive to faithfully manage my home and care for my children. When you are feeling stressed…don’t forget to simply pray for wisdom in how you might simplify your life. Our God cares even about the little mundane things in life. He is able to guide you and direct you to simple solutions for your every day needs. He is always gracious to give me little ideas and every little idea helps towards fulfilling the bigger picture of pursuing intentionality in every area of life. Here are just two little ways He guided me in making my life a bit easier this week…

Bring the dishes down to the kids level. I have an awkwardly designed kitchen that leaves me with very little lower cupboard space, so I finally determined to move my pantry stuff around a bit in order to give me a portion of the cupboard that I could move all my dishware and cups for storage. In this manner, the kids can now upload the dishwasher and put all the dishes away because it is all within their reach. This makes the unloading more of a manageable task for them. They can also set the table independently. So my 4 year old and 2 year old can fully participate in our kitchen management now.

Train the kiddos to wash their hands independently with a good step stool. We have had a tiny step stool for awhile now but it was nearly impossible for my littlest guy to wash his own hands independently. I would have to pick him up every time and often would be lazy and not do it at all. ;( Not a recommended practice. This week I found a tall step stool at IKEA for only $15. This stool enables the littlest child to wash their own hands. It also is tall enough for my daughter to help wash the dishes with me.

I love being able to equip my children to work independently and be little helpers at the same time. One less thing for this Mommy to do…;)

Comments { 29 }