Curriculum for 2013-2014

webSydney is a First Grader!!!

Writing: Writing With Ease, Level 1 & First Language Lessons, Level 1
History: Story of the World, Ancients
Spelling: All About Spelling, Level 1 (we are repeating to make sure it’s solid.)
Math: Math-U-See, Alpha
Gospel: Discover the Scriptures: The Book of Mormon
Read Alouds: Sonlight Core B
Readers: Sonlight 3rd grade readers
Science: Apologia Astronomy
Art: Home Art Studio, 1st Grade
Geography: Expedition Earth
Handwriting: Handwriting Without Tears, 2nd Grade

Continuing with piano and dance (ballet/tap III)

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Audrey is in Pre-Preschool!!!!

Um, yes, that’s a thing…

Pre-Reading: All About Reading, Pre-Reading

She also joins us for Expedition Earth and Gospel. She is participating in Joy School this year with friends from church, and continuing dance class (ballet/tap I.)



A friend from church has a chicken farm, and several months ago she hatched some chicks. I had said that I wanted to do that with Sydney, but couldn’t because we don’t have any place to keep chickens. She offered to let me borrow her incubator, lend me some eggs, and take the chicks back when we were tired of them. What an amazingly generous offer! We were pretty excited!


   We started out with a total of 16 eggs. And during the 21 days of incubation Sydney and I researched and read about the chicken stages, and what the chicks looked like at different points.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, however you look at it) only 2 chicks hatched. We woke up on March 28th, 2013 to chirps, and found a sweet little chick all hatched and walking around. Several hours later the second chick hatched, and we got to watch him come out of his shell.

The second chick (named Buttercup) was very weak from it’s hatching, and we thought for sure that it wasn’t going to make it. It just laid down, not lifting it’s head for the first 36 hours. So we went to the feed store and bought our chicken supplies and we bought two chicks that were female. We knew it wasn’t good for chicks to live alone, they need buddies. If Buttercup made it then my father-in-law had offered to take the female chicks. We named this little yellow hens Lemon and Clover.

On March 31st we woke up and found Clover dead. We were told later by my friend that it is very common for feed store chicks to die, they go through so much in the first few days. Well, we didn’t want Lemon to be by herself, so my friend said she would take her as well. At this point Buttercup started to do really well! Walking around, moving, s/he was going to make it for sure! He was running around with Lemon and Kookaburra. Until April 2nd, when s/he died in the middle of the night :(

We kind of lived in fear about Lemon and Kookaburra for the next several weeks, but they got bigger and stronger and became great buddies.




About a week before we gave the chicks back to my friend she called and told me she had gotten a bunch of feed store chicks and all had died except one, and was wondering if we could adopt her, so that she would have buddies. We agreed, and Sydney named her Cougar.




I’m pretty sad that the only pictures I have of Buttercup and Clover are on my cell phone. And that the only one of Buttercup is of him(?) very weak and laying down. But this was a fun science lesson, and the kids LOVED it!


I Goofed…..


I bought All About Reading Pre-Reading for Audrey.

Never was there a girl more excited.

She couldn’t wait for school to roll around, so that she could “do school” with her big sister and her mama.

She loves her “school buddy” Ziggy the Zebra. We did a few of the activities, and I figured we would stop there. Spend the week working on the letter A.

Audrey was NOT happy with this. When I said she was done for the day she told me, “No! School not over!!” [And yes, she really talks that way. I would teach her to talk properly, but her speech is very adorable. For now. 😉 ]


And this is where I goofed. I told her she was done for the day, and to keep her from crying I told her she had done very well, and gave her a piece of candy. I avoided the melt-down that I knew she was going to have, but I really should have just continued with the different activities.

It says on the first page, go at your child’s pace.

On the bright side, there is always tomorrow. And tomorrow will be better. :)


How to Organize Letter of the Week Curriculum

Last year I did Confessions of a Homeschooler‘s Letter of the Week curriculum.

Sydney and I had a lot of fun doing it! But I had to figure out how to organize it all so that it was easy to get what I needed.

On her website she shows how she organized it by using binders and page protectors, this didn’t work for us. My laminated pages didn’t fit in the page protectors very easily, and I just didn’t have the room (or the budget) to go out and buy 36 binders (I added 10 themed lessons to our curriculum.)

Originally I used an extremely old green crate that I had. I put all the stuff from school in file folders and Ziploc baggies, that were labeled. The crate can be seen on the left side of the picture below.


And then about six months later I decided I wanted something that was easily stored. I didn’t want to risk anything getting the file folders wet or dirty. So I bought a plastic tub for file folders.


To make puzzles easier to do I added magnet circles to the backs of each piece. Well, adding 500 magnet circles to the backs of many puzzles made the already tight tub overflow. So I bought a second tub.

The nice thing about this was that I could also fit in my binders into the tubs, along with all the Bob Books.



This form of organization has worked very well for us. I would just pull out a file folder per week, and fill her bucket for each day. Everything has a spot, and it was easy to keep up with, and easy to store.



The last thing I had to store were all the books. We currently have 9 book shelves in this house, but they are all overflowing. I loved the books we used for this curriculum, so when it was time to pack away all the stuff I packed up most of the books, a few got to stay out. This tub is WAY heavy. I tried to pick it up and it almost knocked me over. I ended up putting the tub in the garage, and then packed it, so that we wouldn’t have to lift it. This tub also houses our beloved cocoanut tree.

There is still some room in our file boxes to add some of our manipulative, so as I think of it and find them I’ll probably add them to the boxes.


A Day in the Life of a Homeschooler [Day 10]

  8:00 AM – Stayed up too late the night before (story of my life) and am purely exhausted. I get up when the girls do, and realize we are on our last bit of oatmeal. I gotta go to the store…

9:00 AM – Breakfast is done, dishes are done. And Zachary is already ready for a nap. He’s so cranky lately! I blame teeth. I ask the girls to go play upstairs so I can finish the last few edits of a post-partum hospital shoot that I did a few weeks ago.

10: 00 AM – I give the girls some crayons to color with and some Goldfish to eat while I finish up. It’s taking longer than I thought. But they are turning out awesomely! So I guess I shouldn’t complain.

10:15 AM – Both girls come downstairs with pens in hand, and wave them at me in unison making “wand” noises.

10:30 AM – Bribe the children with cookies while I print off the CD label. And recheck another order that I had to make sure it was perfect as well.

11:00 AM – Girls are rewarded for their good behavior. And we have lunch. I check on Zachary to make sure he’s still alive. He’s alive and wake, just chewing on Batman. I bring him downstairs so he can eat something more substantial.

NOON – I help the girls clean their room, during which Audrey has a melt down. Time for her naptime!

12:15 PM – Audrey is down for a nap. Or rather she’s kicking and screaming. Sydney and I go downstairs to start school. We only have a few subjects today since it’s Friday. Zachary happily eats rolls while in the highchair.

We start every day of school with a prayer, and the Pledge of Allegiance.


While doing math I am reminded, yet again, how much I would like to buy a bead holder and use it for the Math-U-See blocks.


 For gospel we watched a NEST movie, to illustrate what we had been learning about. I love these movies! After she finished the movie she took their DVD quiz.


While she was watching her movie I found a sticky note from her in my New Testament binder. I love that girl :)

After she finished her few subjects for the day she got to do her favorite. ART TIME! She finished her water color painting from last week. I adore Home Art Studio, it’s really the best for elementary ages. I love all the projects!

Fridays are a great day of school. They are usually very easy light days! Sydney was thrilled when she finished her All About Spelling reader and understood that she had read every page of that book, all 146 pages! She felt SO proud of herself!

Now, I’ve got to find my bee stickers that Audrey has run off with!

(Am I allowed to say I’m proud of myself for finishing this challenge? I hope you all enjoyed reading about crazy days!)


A Day in the Life of a Homeschooler [Day 9]


7:30 AM – I realize that I might have stayed up too late the night before. I am SO exhausted. I decide to listen to a General Conference talk while I eat my breakfast. I could use some of the Prophet’s wise words to help me get through the day.

8:15 AM – Girls wake up, and I ask them to clean their room before breakfast. They haven’t been very good at cleaning it before breakfast this week, and we have a “if your room isn’t clean, you don’t eat rule.” There room has very few toys, and no books in it. All of the books are in Zachary’s room to avoid the mess. The only thing they have to have picked up are their clothes and their stuffed animals.

8:30 AM – Zachary wakes up and I feed him.

8:45 AM – Play with Zachary on the floor for a while. He likes to eat Batman.

9:30 AM – We still haven’t made any headway on that bedroom. In fact the girls took the toys out of Zachary’s room, and have put all their stuffed animals and blankets in the hallway and down the stairs. I become VERY angry. I pick up all of the toys/blankets/stuffed animals and put them in their room. I also threaten the livelihood of their toys if they are found on the stairs again. Ahem. I’m not always perfect…

10:30 AM – After getting my dining room clean and doing a load of dishes I check back at the girls. Still no progress.

11:00 AM – Ugh! We are bordering on neglect now. Zachary is getting tired and I know those girls are hungry. I put him down for a nap and I stand in the doorway of the girl’s room and stare at them. This confused Sydney and Audrey. They seemed to think that it was time to talk to mama and tell her all about their day.

11:15 AM – I set a timer and tell them that anything left on the floor will be thrown out.

11:16 AM – Hysterics have ensued. I remind the girls that the longer the spend crying the less time they are spending cleaning, the more stuff that will be thrown out.

11:20 AM- With 15 minutes left on the clock their room is now spotless. It’s amazing what they can accomplish when threatened properly motivated. Beds aren’t made, but really who cares? I declare it to be breakfast time (brunch?) Audrey sings a song about it.

NOON – After our oatmeal breakfast I am reminded that I probably should go to the store and buy some more cereal, we are still out and now we are almost out of oatmeal. It’s also naptime, Audrey is very unhappy about this. “But I just had breakfast!” She tells me. I remind her that she should have cleaned her room sooner.

12:30 PM – Sydney and I start school. Thursdays and Fridays are our light days around here, to play make-up with whatever we have missed during the week. I am glad that I moved the “Days of the Week” calendar down so that I can easily reach it. Except, I don’t have to! Sydney now moves the chair by it and moves the pieces and tells me what Yesterday/Today/Tomorrow are.

Sydney learns how to perfect her penmanship with the letter “k.” Her handwriting is becoming superior to her father’s. She’s impressive! 😉

All About Spelling has readers to add into their curriculum to reinforce the spelling rules. Sydney loves to read these books to me! I love that they are quick and easy for her, and she hardly needs any help with them at all.

While she does her Math-U-See worksheet I put together our binder for Confessions of a Homeschooler’s Expedition Earth. Upon looking at it I realize that our 1st Grade Yearbook will probably be huge. But it’s still exciting!

2:00 PM – Despite the crazy schedule that we’ve been doing this week, Sydney has remained amazing and has gotten through her work very well! Audrey and Zachary are still sleeping so I deem it to be quiet time, while I take a nap.

2:30 PM – Ugh, nap time is over. Zachary has woken up. He’s been napping for long periods of time this week, I think he’s cutting more (giant) teeth. I come downstairs to find that Audrey woke up during my nap and her and Sydney are playing quietly downstairs while eating goldfish. I have some great kids.

I expect to find a hidden disaster as the day progresses.


A Day in the Life of a Homeschooler [Day 8]

7:30 AM- Boo, that alarm! I go downstairs and realize that I’m out of cereal. Ugh! So I heat up some water for oatmeal. I do not like instant oatmeal very much.

8:00 AM – I wake the girls up, and ask them to clean their room.

8:30 AM – Girls are not cleaning, they are playing on Sydney’s bed. I become frustrated and ask them again to clean their room. Zachary wakes up, and I get him up and feed him his breakfast.

9:00 AM – Zachary is finishing his breakfast, so we go to check on the girls. Room still isn’t being cleaned. In fact I think it’s messier. Ugh! More stern words.

9:30 AM – Audrey is grumpy, hunger has set in, and she’s not happy with me. Sydney is also unhappy. I ask them to just clean the Barbies and I’ll call it good for today. Wednesday always end up crazy, so I should just let it go for today.

10:00 AM – Girls are finally eating breakfast and I realize that we have to get ready to go to a playdate. So much for getting school done beforehand!

10:45 AM – Play date it up with some friends! :)

1:00 PM – After a fun play date and lunch with our friends I tell Audrey to take a nap, and Zachary goes down too. I tell Sydney we will do as much school as we can before we go to dance class.

2:00 PM – Still working on math. Making Sydney rewrite her numbers, she has a hard time remembering that handwriting should be neat and legible, even when the subject isn’t handwriting. Audrey only fell asleep about 10 minutes ago. She is not going to be happy when I wake her up.


2:15 PM – Finally finish math. I decide we will stop here until later. I run upstairs and get the girl’s dance clothes together. I tell Sydney to practice before her piano lesson.

2:30 PM – I wake Audrey up, luckily her first words were, “I dance with Teacher Annie?!” She’s not too upset.

2:40 PM – Finally get the children into the car, and realize I need gas. Audrey has a meltdown getting into the car. So, I guess she is upset.

2:45 PM – Internally cry when I fill up the mini van.

3:00 PM – Piano lessons and dance class. Annie told us to choose a woodland animal for Audrey to be in the June performance. Do they have the option of a bunny? Why, yes, they do have bunnies, yey!


5:00 PM – Pull into my drive way wondering what on Earth I am going to make for dinner. Then Lauren calls and asks if I want to go to McDonald’s and then go to Goodwill to shop for props.

7:00 PM – Get home after shopping and eating. Audrey is pretty much in hysterics and Zachary isn’t too happy either. Luckily Audrey went down quickly. I pushed my luck with their lack of naps today. Zachary is still hungry, and after he finished his bottle Sydney gave him a roll. (I was in the bathroom at that moment.) He was a happy boy then!


Sydney wizzed through school. And I discovered a new way to keep track of all the subjects we have to get through. Normally, I write them on the white board, but they get erased by an over zealous two-year-old. So instead I wrote the subjects on a piece of paper and put them in the binder, and I mark them off with a white board marker.



A Day in the Life of a Homeschooler [Day 7]

7:30 AM- The usual alarm, hit snooze, get up, read scriptures. Everyone is awake this time, so I just eat with the kids. Audrey and Sydney scarf down breakfast, and then Audrey asks if she can have mine. I seriously consider eating in the bathroom.

8:30 AM – Clear the table, Sydney does the breakfast dishes. I start a load of cloth diapers while Sydney practices piano, Zachary screams in his bouncer and Audrey tries to make him happy. She gives up and tells me that Zachary “hates” her.

8:50 AM- Helped the kids make a video to send to Grandpa Smith for his birthday. They are ADORABLE. <3

9:00 AM – Organize kids clothes. My goal is to get them all in labeled organized bins that are easy to keep up with. It’s slow going, so it looks like a tornado went through Zachary’s room. Zachary screams at me in his crib while I clean his room. So I get Audrey and put her in his crib. They giggle together.

9:30 AM – Audrey and Zachary stop giggling. Zachary becomes REALLY angry. So it’s nap time! Audrey is given the option of sitting quietly at the table and playing with puzzle or playing in her room. She chooses to play in her room.

We start school. I feel guilty because the “What day is it” calendar says it’s still Friday. The thing is too high that I have to stand on a chair and still stand on my tip toes. During the prayer I decide to move it. So after morning exercises are done I ask Sydney to work on her thank you cards while I finish rearranging.

BEFORE:   Homeschool



Sydney finished the last of her Thank You cards from Christmas. Yeah, they are a little late, but she wrote them herself, so I am proud of her. :)


She wanted to show you all her Scripture Journal. Her Grandma Sherman made it, and she loves it because it’s pink. I’m glad she likes it so much. We use Discover the Scriptures, and I LOVE it! We are currently studying the New Testament, and although it says it’s for 1-3 Grades Sydney is doing so well. And I am impressed with how much she knows!

The brightly colored papers on the wall (that I moved) are all New Testament scriptures that Sydney has memorized this year.


Today was another good day, and it didn’t take too long to get through it. In math she started doing addition, and she is doing SO well with it! She never ceases to amaze me. Normally on Tuesdays we do handwriting, but since she finished her Thank You cards I counted that.

While today was a good day, we didn’t get to our Read Aloud until much later that night. We got distracted by daddy coming home, Zachary woke up, lunch had to be eaten (Audrey asked for my lunch when she finished her lunch) and dishes that needed to get done. It was also Cub night, so I was busily reading over notes and lessons and trying to stay organized. So when I came home from scouts I read Dolphin Treasure as the bedtime story.


A Day in the Life of a Homeschooler [Day 6]

6:44 AM – wake up to Audrey screaming her head off. Okay, maybe it wasn’t that dramatic. But it was 6 am, so it felt that way. Regardless, Audrey came crying into my room bawling. I told her to go back to bed. She stopped crying and said, “Okay!” and went back to her room. Not sure what happened, but I have another 45 minutes until my alarm goes off.

7:15 AM – wake up again to girls screaming. Run into their room, and both girls are on the top bunk. Audrey bit Sydney. Again. I grumble at them to stop biting and to clean their room. After my “stern talk” I fall back onto my bed.

7:30 AM – my alarm goes off, and I wake up, get dressed and eat my Kix downstairs while the girls are still cleaning their room.

7:45 AM – I hear a thump, a crash and then Zachary screaming. I run back up the stairs in a panic. Luckily the thump and crash didn’t belong to Zachary. They belonged to Audrey. She’s crying too. She jumped off her bed and landed on a lego that she was suppose to be cleaning up. Stern words about picking up blocks are issued. Zachary is a happy boy, and expresses said happiness by patting me on the back. Love that kid.

8:00 AM – Sydney comes down to tell me that the room is clean. It’s not.

8:15 AM – Audrey tells me the room is clean. Sydney yells down the stairs that it’s not.

8:25 AM – Both girls claim the room is clean. It is! Breakfast time.

8:45 AM – Sydney does breakfast dishes. Audrey is instructed to go upstairs and get dressed. Zachary screams in his bouncer. I clean off the table to get ready for school.

9:00 AM – I wonder if we should start school now, or wait until after Zachary’s doctor appointment? I decide now, we’ll just see how much we get through. Audrey comes downstairs wearing different pjs, I tell her to try again.


We start with our prayer, pledge, and calendar time. We skip our “what day is it” and I just ask. I hate having to stand on the chair to change the days around.

Sydney choose Gospel to be first, because “it’s the most important.” Smart girl I have!

Next up is math. She loves playing with the colorful blocks. Today is the last lesson in section 11. I’m shocked at how quickly she remembers which color block is what number. I still have to count them!

Science is about under the sea life, and she is super excited about crabs. But sea urchins are her favorite.

Reading about Anna and Jack in her Bob Books readers makes her happy. I think she might actually be getting bored at the slow pace with the Bob Book. She goes through it so quickly!

Finish the second half of her spelling test with AAS today. Every single day I am amazed at her spelling skills. Every day. She is incredible. And I am so grateful that I get to spend everyday with her, and marvel in her awesomeness. I don’t like sharing 😉

And lastly, we started our new read aloud, Dolphin Treasure, she was so excited to see that we are reading another dolphin book!

Today was a good day.

10:15 AM – I tell Sydney to practice piano for the next 10 minutes while I get everyone ready to go. Audrey has since changed her pjs a few times, and mix and matched jeans with pj tops or pj bottoms with everyday shirts. Or tried to get away with a skirt. So I help her get dressed, I change Zachary and get him ready to go.

10:25 AM- Sydney puts on the outfit that I lay out for her. I announce that today is going to be a Converse day. NO rubber boots (AUDREY!) Audrey cries about the declaration, and then asks if she can wear her pink shoes. I realize we are running out of time and I can’t find the second pink Converse, so I tell her she has to wear the red ones. More tears. Sydney gets her shoes on quickly, I scold myself again for not getting her the Velcro Converse so that I don’t have to tie shoes. I also scold myself for not teaching her to tie her shoes yet. But hey, she’s beautiful AND smart, that counteracts her inability to tie shoes, right?

11:00 AM – Get to the doctor’s office exactly on time.

Noon – Leave doctor’s office, and realize that it’s snowing. I enjoy driving in the “snow” and watching the flakes bounce off the windshield. The snow is light and perfect and doesn’t stick. Yey!

12:30 PM- Have a lunch, put Zachary down for a nap.

Oh, and have a dance party.


What a lovely Monday! :)


A Day in the Life of a Homeschooler [Day 5]

8:30 AM – I am started awake by two crying, grumpy girls. What on earth could have possibly happened?! And why didn’t my alarm go off? I realize my phone is under my pillow, which means that I turned it off. Oh, boy!

9:00 AM – I sort out what the girls were fighting over. Maybe? I’m not sure why the yelling, but they are happy now. They eat breakfast and Sydney helps by clearing off the table. While I’m feeding Zachary I see some sun in the curtains. Sun?! Oh my gosh, there is light! I am so excited that I am giggling. My giggling makes Zachary laugh, and we spend a good 10 minutes laughing hysterically.

10: 00 AM – Enough laughing. This is Washington after all, the sun could disappear as quickly as it arrived! So I grab the boy and rush upstairs to give him a bath. This instantly put an end to his giggling and made him cry. He doesn’t like the bath. He was even less pleased when he got out of the bath. Poor boy had purple lips and hands. After diapering him I wrap him in blankets. Grandma will never let me hear the end of it if his 9-month-pictures are of a purple baby. 😉

10:30 AM – Sweet! There is even more sun to work with than I think! Zachary does not want to sit, he wants to stand. He is wearing my Grandpa Smith’s sweater that his mother (my great-grandma) knitted for him. It’s a tad small, and when he stands up you can tell! So I snap a few cute pictures of him in the sweater and then I put him in a shirt that fits him and set him on my glider. He thought this was the coolest thing ever.


11:00 AM – We’ve lost sun. Zachary is grumpy because he lost his blue plastic coin. Audrey and Sydney are back to fighting. NAP TIME! Zachary and Audrey are less than amused.

It’s also at this moment that I decided you all will have to wait until Monday to read all about Z-boy as a 9 month old. His 9-month appointment is on Monday, might as well wait until then. :)

11:15 AM – Sydney and I start school. Usually Fridays are our quick days, but the sudden shift in All About Spelling Level 1 has thrown me off a little. So there is a spelling test. Sydney missed her first word ever! Chip was spelled Thip. But she was able to correct it fast. I was still very proud.

There are still 4 Thank You cards to write. But after I broke Sydney on Tuesday I decided not push it. We will do it on Friday.

While reading our gospel story Sydney tells me, “Mama, I’ve seen this one like a million times!” Well, as long as you remember it, dear. We read The Story About Ping. I’d never read it before, and wasn’t that impressed. Sydney loved it though.

Noon – The door bell rings and Sydney goes flying toward the door. I yell about how we don’t open the door unless we know who it is. So STOP! She stops. I unlock the door and see that my Sonlight order is on our door step. Core B (our first grade curriculum) is HERE. I tell Sydney to get the box and put it on my bed. She just stares at me.

And she says she tries to be helpful! lol, I’m totally joking here. I grabbed the box and took it upstairs. And I asked her to help me go through the order list. We looked over every book one by one and then she read the book title off the list (or spelled it when she couldn’t read it) and I told her “Check!” and she’d highlight the title. All our books have arrived safely and soundly. :)

12:45 PM – We decided we should finish school. So we go back downstairs and while Sydney does her math I put together my Instructor Guide for Core B. My inner book nerd is so happy it could burst.

1:00 PM – Sydney asks if we can listen to “her songs” while I do the dishes, after we’ve finished school. I say sure. BAD CHOICE. It’s about 6 hours later as I write this and I still have “Saturday” stuck in my head.

Saturday is a special day, it’s the day we get ready for SUNDAY! We clean the house and we shop at the store so we won’t have to work until MONDAY!



Since today is Friday we also worked on art. Sydney LOVES art. Her whole face lit up when it was time to watch the video and make her train. We only finished half of it, so we will be doing the finishing touches next week. :)

Whew, I finished the first week of this challenge! Hopefully next week will be as successful!