Back To School, Back to School

So after spending hours and hours and hours and hours and hours (you get the idea) researching home school curriculum, I decided to go with a company called Sonlight.  Sonlight Curriculum is a Christian, literature-based program.  The selling point for me was that it comes with Instruction Guides that tell you everything to do.  You get everything you need (pretty much) for the entire year in one box.  Last year, I used a wide variety of curriculum and hands-on activities, but I wanted something with more structure this year.  With my busy schedule, I needed something more planned out and “ready-to-go”.  It was a more expensive choice, but seemed worth it for everything you get.

Here’s a picture from our “box day” when it arrived in the mail.  I admit, opening the box and pulling out/sorting all the stuff was overwhelming.  After having used the curriculum for several weeks now, I will give a more in depth review of our experience (this far) sometime soon.


1st day of home school– Pancake breakfast!


I let them choose their outfits for some quick 1st day pictures on the front porch.  (It’s fun to not have a dress code to worry about!) They were sure to model their new backpacks!

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Even though our routine is pretty flexible, it looks something like this-

(if time) Opening Activity on rug (shape blocks, sight word bingo, etc) with classical music playing

Play the Bible Verse of week on CD (Sing the Word: From A-Z)

 Here they are saying the Pledge of Allegiance.  They always want to stand on the table while they do it (they did last year, too).  Not sure why they do that, but whatever….


Our curriculum came with this prayer cube.  The kids each roll the cube and then tell us what they want to pray for.


Classroom Calendar on the wall

Folder activities- (calendar, 100 chart/patterns, graphing weather)

Handwriting (while I read aloud from our Sonlight bible, history, nursery rhyme/poetry, and literature books)


Language Arts (journal, Sonlight LA activities, reading, spelling)

Science (sonlight)

We do not have a designated time for Social Studies/history, geography.  It is integrated into the Sonlight literature!

Here’s a few pictures from our first week-

Rea writing spelling words in shaving cream at Gran’s.  Emmy did letters, and well, Max just made a mess. ha


A field trip the first week of school?  Why  not!?  I took them to the Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies.  They loved it.  We had a fantastic time!


























A stop by the Apple Barn afterwards….  (my fav!)  I enjoyed have a cheat meal….


Here’s Rea using our new white boards to do a spelling lesson (All About Spelling).



Emmy and her fashion ways….


They absolutely love using these shape blocks to build pictures…..







Getting Max involved a little bit….  I love the free dot letter printables available at Confessions of a Homeschooler!





Sorting meat-eaters and plant eaters…..


Max sorting by colors-









Here’s a video with some random clips from our first week of home school (bible verse, science experiments, field trip)-

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Just July, summertime in motion…

A trip to the park-




Tent building in the living room-


Playing with mud and water=hours of fun


The girls picked their own raspberries-







4th of July






Only a genius kid would think to ride his scoother sideways, right?  That’s what I’m telling myself, anyhow.






1st trip to Trader Joe’s


Passing a semi full of pigs on I-75



Zoo trip while Kay Kay was in town-






The library’s summer reading program finale-




Max dressed himself for church-


A trip to Safety City with Kay Kay-









Reagan decided she wants to open a savings account.  Here she is counting her change from all her piggy banks.


Max had to get a new backpack for school, too!  He loves it.


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Kindergarten Homeschool, Week one!

We started our official homeschool schedule for Kindergarten about three weeks ago.  We started before the local school system, but it doesn’t really matter what days we do our schooling on as long as we get in the time.   That’s a nice perk– being in control of the schedule.  For instance, we can double up on work one day to give us a free day later in the week!  (We have already taken advantage of that!)

I got the girls up and bathed so they would look nice and “put together” for day one! I didn’t feel like it would be a strong start if we were all in pajamas on the first day! haha  I let them pick out their own outfits.  First thing, I wanted to take them out in front of the house to get their “first day of school” picture.  Reagan suggested that they would like to go stand by the road and pretend that they were waiting on a school bus to pick them up.  (so cute!)

My mother had bought a backpack for Reagan at Target, but alas it was not quite what Reagan had in mind.  Luckily, she snagged this one that seemed to suit her fancy at a local church’s back-to-school event.  She was excited about it!

And sis-

Really cuter than a cupcake…

And she had a cookie spill before we could even get downstairs to our classroom!

The very first thing we did on Day One were some assessments.  I did a lowercase and uppercase recognition assessment as well as a sight word assessment and sounds assessment.  She recognized all of her letters (big and small) and knew all the sounds.  Out of the county’s sight word list, she knew 16 out of 30 words.  The kids are supposed to know them all by the end of Kindergarten.  I had her write her name and then count as high as she could for me– just lots of little things that we can repeat throughout the year to see how much she is learning and progressing.

Right now, I do not have set times that we do homeschool.  With the combination of being a working mom and having two children younger than Reagan, it isn’t really feasible for us to have a structured time schedule that we stick to everyday.  We do, however, have a routine that we follow.  The first part of homeschool looks something like this-

Daily Message on Chalkboard- During this time, I am able to model good writing strategies.  It helps create opportunities for teaching good punctuation, grammar, letter form, days of the week, and other skills.

Weather Chart


Number Chart, Place Value Chart

ABC Song– This is not the typical ABC song.  We do the song with sounds and use our wall alphabet to guide us.  “A for apple, /a/ /a/ /a/, B for ball /b/ /b/ b/”  Even Max and Emmy will stop what they are doing to join in on the singing.  It helps teach all the letters and their sounds in a fun, quick way.

Pledge of Allegiance

Memory Verse Work

Here was the message for day one.  Reagan thought that the message should be from Dad, too, so she added his name to the bottom!

We started working on John 3:16.  “For God so loved the WORLD…”

You can see Emmy playing in the kitchen center.  She and Max mostly do their own thing during homeschool time.  They will jump in and participate as they want.

The first page of our writing journal…  I thought this was a sweet little idea.

The next part of our day is Language Arts (Reading, Writing, Spelling, Vocabulary, Word Work, etc)

Read Aloud – Reagan chooses a story or two out of our themed book box for me to read to her.

Guided Reading -She chooses some of her leveled readers out of her little book box to read to me.  They are very basic, designed for emergent readers.  She will practice them Monday through Thursday during this time and then on Friday, she can read any of them to me for a chance to “pass” them out of her box.  Basically, this means if she reads the book without mistakes, she can get it out of her box and receive a new story in its place.  We also write the “passed” stories down on a reading log sheet.  Every time that she fills up a reading log sheet, she earns a field trip.  So far, we have been to the Ponderosa Zoo and Dollywood.  This system is working like a charm!

Here’a a couple videos of her reading.  The first one is one of the first little readers she learned to read.  It is super easy for her to read now, but I wanted to video her reading it since it was one of her firsts and favorites.  She says “bluetiful” at the end instead of “beautiful” to be funny.  🙂

Please make sure to turn the music off on the right sidebar of the blog before playing videos.

Book Work –  She does a couple pages out of her L.A. books.  (phonics, handwriting, spelling)

Word Work– We do a hands-on activity working with words. Right now, I have been pulling ideas from this book (which I love!)

Sight Word Practice– We have a variety of ways to practice learning our sight words. (matching, flash cards, writing, games, etc.)

Writing-  We mostly do “free writes” during this time.  I just let her draw a picture and write what she can about it.  We did one day of research on cats.  We read a non-fiction reader about cats and she wrote down some words about cats that she learned from the story.  I will often let her dictate her own stories to me, and I will write them down, also.

Extra Literacy Activity–  I try to keep the extra activity “hands on”.  (pocket chart, read around the room, write around the room, puzzle, etc.)  The only time that it isn’t completely hands-on is if we do a “mini book”.

Math– We are sticking to the Singapore Early Bird K Curriculum.  It uses manipulatives, nursery rhyme readers, and hands-on activities.  We love it.  It is easy to prepare for and fun for her!

Science/Social Studies- We rotate these two every day.  I mainly am trying to stick to the curriculum books for these, also.  We just do one to two pages per day.

Themed/Special Activity- During this time we do a hands-on activity related to the theme of the week.  The projects might be based on PE, music, art, cooking, etc.  I am following the suggested K themes found on Ms. Hubbard’s Cupboard Website.

Technology- Reagan will either play educational games on my ipad or iphone.  OR she will play educational games on the computer (mainly Starfall and

First day, we read The Kissing Hand– a classic first day of Kindergarten type of book!

Here are some other books that we read during week one for our “Back to School” theme-

Morning 2, Reagan is yawning and Dixie is ready to go!

Working on beginning sounds-

Sight word sort and match-

“Write around the Room”-  I give her a clipboard and sheet of paper.  She has to write 10 words from around the room.

Measuring items from around the room with pencils.

Painting always draws Emmy and Max to the table.  Max LOVES painting.  I have to keep the paint supplies locked up or else he would stay in it all the time.

(Next day) Max seemed more concerned about the mess on his hands than the mess on his face.

And this, my friends, is why children’s paint is non-toxic.

I had the idea to let Reagan do some community service to help teach her about serving others.  She is QUITE passionate about animals so I though the animal shelter would the perfect place.  I am taking her one hour a week to visit the animals.  She will get to help with different tasks, as needed, but mostly will get to give all the animals some TLC!  She was excited about it for sure!  She started telling everyone about her “new job” and first day “at work”.

Her favorite part-  playing with the itty bitty kitties!

On our way home from her first visit to the shelter, I was trying to explain what the purpose of the shelter was and of course, that brought on questions about what happens to the animals if they are not adopted…  She quickly responded, “Mommy, I’m so glad all dogs go to Heaven.”

Here is a little something that we used an old picture frame for.  We have this in our classroom and both girls now have a spot to display their “best work”.  They can change out what they want to display at anytime.  It is totally their choice!

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

I had the idea to let them make their own CCBB trees.  We just used poster boards, paint, and sticky letter post-its.

A CCBB snack!  Celery sticks with sunbutter (our yummy PB alternative since Max has a peanut allergy) and alphabet soup letters.  I tried to find Alphabet cereal, but had no success.  Who knew you couldn’t find it in stores now?  🙁  Anyhow, I just washed some noodle letters and dried them off.  They served our purpose just fine.

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