Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I won something!!

The question was "tell me what you would name your handmade shop if you had one."

My answer: "I would name my store “Little Beasties” because that’s what my husband (affectionately) calls the kids!"

Saturday, March 26, 2011

When things come together!

We're currently working on the "Grandparents" unit in the Come Sit By Me curriculum.  This past week our book was "Selina and the Bear Paw Quilt".  

I was able to get out the quilts that my mother-in-law and aunt-in-law had made for the kids and show them the difference between design and pattern.  

We were also blessed with a visit from the in-laws (who have to drive 8 hours to get here) this weekend for DS3's dedication on Sunday.  During the visit my MIL and I took the boys to buy dowels and fabric to make some flags.  So they got to go on a field trip to a fabric store and watch my MIL handstitch and sew the flags together!  

What a great tie-in to everything we're doing in the unit.  I love it when things come together so well!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Children are a Blessing Bracelet

This is the bracelet I ordered from It's A Blessing to give to my midwives as a thank you.

Children are a Blessing Bracelet
Green beads and butterflies: A reminder of new life! What a blessing you were to me as you helped bring our new life into this world!
Little Feet: The smell of a newborn’s head, the tiny grip of their hand, and the precious little feet…all special little parts that bring joy
to those you help deliver!
Hearts: Giving birth is a moment a Mommy never forgets. As you were such an
important part of that moment - you will always be dear to my heart.
Children: ”Children are a blessing from the Lord.” Psalm 127:3
Hand: Thank you for “holding my hand” and all the support and encouragement you gave during the birth of our baby!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Workboxes - Week One

So I decided to give workboxes a try this week.  My usual setup until now had been this:

Basically to the right is my "Come Sit By Me" curriculum book the boys' agendas where I keep a record of what we do each day, the story books needed for the week, folders with their completed copywork and math, construction paper, and a GeoSafari.

The trays have workbooks, work in progress, and completed work.  The top is DS1's and the bottom is DS2's.

Then to the left is a basket with school supplies (markers, pencils, crayons, glue sticks, scissors, etc), behind that is a box of math manipulatives, and more of them are in the box to the far left.

This is an Ikea storage unit in our living room.  Since DD is only 16 months I had to make sure the workboxes would be high enough for her not to get into them.

The workboxes are on the 3rd shelf down to the left.  As you can see, I also ended up going with only one box for each boy.

DS1's work - Grade 1
 Inside each bin is a folder (I made one in a different colour for each day of the week) with the day's list of assignments attached.  

The list starts with:
Make sure you have:
- your Bible
- your AWANA book
- a pencil and eraser
- abacus (DS1)
- a smile :-)

DS2's work - JK

 It's broken down into:
1. Circle Time (everyone together)
2. Individual Time (you and Mommy):
3. Snack Break:
4. On Your Own Time (you alone):
5. Free Time
I also put in a teddy bear shaped eraser as a little "treat".

The boys were very excited about "workboxes" - DS2 had toolboxes in mind I think because he asked where the tools were.  I think some of the excitement was from seeing me planning for them and feeling something "special" was going on.  

It worked well for me because they were able to take their whole workbox to the table and work on what was in their with less hands on guidance from me.  It also helped me to be able to have individual time with each of them, which I sometimes don't get to.

So we'll be continuing with my modified version of workboxes :-)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Eliminating Dairy

DS3 is a gassy little guy.  He also has silent reflux.  And his nose has been stuffy for over a week.  This means I spend most of the night sitting upright in my bed holding him, with a little sleep on and off.  Yesterday I was so exhausted I decided to put him in bed with me and steal a nap during quiet time (after lunch everyone either has a nap or does something quiet like read).  I woke up to dh arriving home from work (around 3:30pm because he starts work at 4am) and learned the two older boys were outside flinging mud and that I had also managed to sleep through my brother knocking on the door and phoning.  So it's worth my while to figure out how to get DS3 to sleep so I can get more sleep at night!

I gave up dairy about 2 weeks ago. I LOVE cheese, yogurt, tzatziki, cream in my coffee... I eat a lot of dairy. So it's been an education and a half to see how dairy is in so many things. I feel like there's "nothing" to eat without dairy. But here's the research that makes me hope it will be worthwhile:

Dairy and other Food Sensitivities in Breastfed Babies

"If you think your baby is reacting to a particular food, then eliminate that food from your diet for 2-3 weeks to see if baby’s symptoms improve. If baby’s symptoms do improve, then this food may be a problem for your baby. Eliminating a food for less than 2-3 weeks may not be effective—cow’s milk protein, for example, can persist in mom’s body for 1½ - 2 weeks, and it may be another 1½ - 2 weeks before the protein is out of baby's system. 

Baby’s symptoms will usually begin to improve within 5-7 days of eliminating a problem food. Your baby may not improve immediately, however, especially if the reaction is to a food that has been a regular part of mom's diet. Some babies seem to feel worse for about a week before symptoms begin to improve. Sometimes it takes several weeks to see an improvement.

Breastfed babies who are sensitive to dairy in mom's diet are sensitive to specific cow's milk antibodies, in the form of proteins (not lactose), which pass into the mother's milk. Cow's milk (either in the mother's diet or engineered into formula) is a common source of food sensitivity in babies. Cow's milk sensitivity or allergy can cause colic-like symptoms, eczema, wheezing, vomiting, diarrhea (including bloody diarrhea), constipation, hives, and/or a stuffy, itchy nose. 

If your baby is sensitive to dairy in your diet, it will not help to switch to lactose-free dairy products. The problem is the cow’s milk proteins, not the lactose. Cooking dairy products may reduce but will not eliminate the allergens. 

A significant percentage of babies with cow's milk protein allergy will also react to soy. Most dairy-allergic babies will also react to goat's milk or sheep’s milk. Some will also react to beef. 

If you think that your baby may be sensitive to dairy products in your diet, remember that it can take 10 days to 3 weeks to eliminate cow's milk protein from your system—allow a full 2-3 weeks of dairy elimination before evaluating the results.

"You must also inspect all packaged, canned, bottled and prepared food in your refrigerator, freezer and cupboards and read labels. Look for five words: milk, cheese, lactose, whey and casein. There may be other words attached to the word milk...like milk solids, milk proteins, milk by-products. Eliminate them.

Do you like butter? Good, enjoy it. But, it’s a dairy product you say. That’s right, but it’s almost pure fat. There are 3 components to a milk product: sugar (lactose), protein and fat. Fat causes none of the problems that the milk sugars and proteins do. Enjoy it."

Saturday, March 12, 2011

It's A Blessing

A couple of weeks ago I ordered this bracelet.  I've been waiting with anticipation to receive it and it finally arrived on Friday!  I love it!  I love the creativity that went into making it and what a great visual reminder it is to me of a scripture I want to live out - Proverbs 31.


The owner, Shannon, was a pleasure to communicate with.  We were both mystified as to why the postal service would take so long to deliver my order so she even sent out a second package in case the first one had gone missing.

I'm having her do some custom bracelets as thank you gifts for my midwives - I can't wait to see them!

Check out her Etsy store here.

Friday, March 11, 2011


What's a Workbox System and Do I Need One?

Basically, workboxes are an organizational system used with any curriculum that helps foster independent work habits and a well-structured school day.

Filling Your Workboxes

Free printables for your workboxes

What's in the box? (blog)

Workbox tags (Mama Jenn blog)   

Workboxes using folders


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Homeschool Curriculum

This is what I'm planning on using with DS2 for his SK year (Fall 2011-Spring 2012)

I also have these CDs:

I'm using some of the below with DS1 this year for Grade 1 and will use some of it again with DS2 for his Grade 1 year (Fall 2012-Spring 2013)

I also have these CDs:
Reader Rabbit's Personalized 1st Grade
Arthur's 1st Grade
Math Blaster Jr. PreK-1st Grade Math

This is what I'm planning on using with DS1 for his Grade 2 year (Fall 2011-Spring 2012)

I also have these CDs:

I also have the following books to use with them:
1. Apologetics Press Reader Set: 

2. The Dinosaur Delusion: Dismantling Evolutions Most Cherished Icon by Kyle Butt and Eric Lyons

3. Dinosaurs Unleashed by Kyle Butt and Eric Lyons

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Homeschool Curriculum

I put this together for a course this past summer.  Haven't personally used most of this curriculum but thought it all looked good and they are resources I would consider using.

Saxon Math (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Saxon mathematics for grades K–12 is based on the teaching principles of incremental development, continual practice and review, and cumulative assessment.
Saxon’s K-3 program is designed to teach basic arithmetic concepts as well as geometry, patterns, time, and more. Each lesson is scripted for the parent, which takes the guesswork out of teaching young learners. Manipulatives accelerate understanding of abstract math concepts, and worksheets provide cumulative review.

Saxon Math for middle grades transitions students from manipulatives and worksheets to a textbook approach. The emphasis in the middle grades is on developing algebraic reasoning as well as geometric concepts. Lessons include a new concept plus a review of previous concepts, and Investigations give students a more in-depth treatment of math concepts.

Dive Into Math 
CD-ROMs for Use with Saxon Math (available through Sonlight)
DIVE stands for Digital Interactive Video Education.  This program walks the child through each of the Saxon Math books, from Math 5/4 to AP Calculus.  The child listens to the instructor while watching him make graphic presentations of the problems on a digitized whiteboard screen that fills up the computer screen.  The instructor works out the examples, practice problems, and even a few specific problems from some days' problem sets.

Math-U-See (Math-U-See Inc.)
This program helps produce confident problem solvers who enjoy the study of math. Students learn their math facts, rules, and formulas, and are able to use this knowledge in real life applications. The study of math includes memorization, but it also encompasses learning the concepts that are critical to problem solving.  Explicit instruction for the teacher is provided by directly teaching skills for math through the video presentations. The video lessons are short and to the point (average 4-7 minutes each). Each lesson specifically teaches using the MULTI-SENSORY tools, designed to engage the visual, auditory, and kinesthetic channels simultaneously in rapid succession. These tools and videos communicate clearly so the teacher can understand how to teach the student.  Each level contains ongoing assessment and frequent opportunities to re-teach. This kind of PROGRESS MONITORING provides valuable feedback to ensure the student is mastering the materials.

Learning Language Arts Through Literature (Common Sense Press.)
Learning Language Arts Through Literature is a fully integrated language arts program that teaches grammar, reading, spelling, vocabulary, writing mechanics, creative writing, thinking skills and more. With LLATL, the student will acquire a deeper understanding and a greater interest in the language arts subjects.  Real books are used in the reading lessons, complete with vocabulary words, discussion questions and a variety of activities. 

All levels are written for a 36 week school year. Grades 1- 9 include a Teacher’s Book written in a conversational format making it easy to use with little or no preparation time for the teacher. Student Activity Books are available for the 1st - 8th grade. All levels include review activities and assessments.

Explode the Code (School Specialty, Inc)
Geared to Grades K–4, this phonics bestseller has helped millions of students nationwide build the essential literacy skills needed for reading success: phonological awareness, decoding, vocabulary, comprehension, fluency, and spelling. This research-based and teacher-tested program meets and exceeds “No Child Left Behind” requirements and National Reading Panel Standards.

Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons (Publisher: Fireside; authors: Siegfried Engelmann, Phyllis Haddox, Elaine Bruner)
Research has proven that children taught by the DISTAR® method outperform their peers who receive instruction from other programs. This program has been adapted for parent and child to use at home and is a complete, step-by-step program that shows patents simply and clearly how to teach their children to read.

Twenty minutes a day is all you need, and within 100 teaching days thechild will be reading on a solid second-grade reading level. It's a sensible, easy-to-follow, and enjoyable way to help a child gain the essential skills of reading. Everything needed is here  - one hundred lessons, fully illustrated and color-coded for clarity, give the child the basic and more advanced skills needed to become a good reader.

I have used the above and recommend it.
Neat, clean, and uncluttered, text and exercises are both clear and direct.  Ambiguity is intentionally eliminated and both the textbooks themselves as well as the teacher guides are designed to be simple and concise.  No user needs advanced education to be able to use the curriculum.  If the user is literate, he/she can use it effectively.  Grades 1 through 4 learn to read by reading the Scriptures themselves [age appropriate].  This unbeatable combination provides both Bible knowledge and develops reading skills and comprehension. 

The widely acclaimed English series actually ends up providing a junior college level of proficiency after studying the grades 2 through 10 texts.  The texts are well-sequenced, packed with grammar study (including diagramming), composition opportunities, and offer continuous review.

Unit Studies
My Father’s World (My Father's World)
Combining the best of Charlotte Mason, classical education, and unit studies with a Biblical worldview and international focus.  This curriculum utilizes hands-on, unit studies with daily lesson plans that are easy-to-teach.  It enables families and multi-age groups to learn together as many of the programs may be taught to a range of ages simultaneously.  It uses a comprehensive, sequenced learning program beginning with preschool learning toys to develop readiness skills. The complete unit-based curriculum includes a phonics-based learning-to-read program and focuses on God's amazing creation (kindergarten), the world of the Bible (first grade), and U.S. history (second or third grade). Then a year of geography sets the foundation for four years of chronological world and U.S. history (through eighth grade).  It provides easy-to-teach, integrated curriculum that is enjoyable, academically strong, and focused on character development.


KONOS is a biblically-based unit studies curriculum, and features: Godly character trait focus; Units with all subjects integrated; Hands-on, experiential activities; Discovery learning; Multi-level, family teaching.  

Each of the three original KONOS Character Curriculum books offer: Many character traits woven together with academics; Two to 3 years of curriculum in approx. 500 pages; Weekly lesson plans for ages K-8th grade for KONOS; Suggested writing assignments; Suggested literature to read; Great book lists for all topics; hands-on activities to make learning fun and memorable.

Donna Ward (Northwoods Press)
The Canadian History All Inclusive Bundle is geared for ages 8-12 and includes the curriculum guide, 7 novels, 2 DVDs, card game, and 16  resource books.  

The Social Studies Bundle is geared for ages 5-12 and includes the curriculum guide, book with full colour photos of the Canadian landscape, Canadian landscape relief map, and 3 books.
Canada's Natives Bundle is geared for ages 8-12 and includes the curriculum guide and six books from the Native Nations of North America Series. This series gives you one colourful and captiviting book for the various units of study. Pages are all cross-referenced in Canada's Natives Long Ago so the user is clearly directed.

Digital Frog International (Digital Frog International, Inc.)
From virtual frog dissection to digital field trips to the world's most fascinating ecosystems, Digital Frog International is dedicated to bringing the world of natural science to your classroom.  With a focus on biology and ecology, their goal is to make a difference to the way people view the natural world. The computer-based learning tools encourage a lifelong interest in, and respect for, the world around us. The products present accurate, detailed information in an interesting and engaging way.

Each award-winning CD-ROMs is meticulously researched and brought to life using virtual reality software, full color photographs, videos, narration, text and animations. Interactive activities help bring biology and ecology to life, while customizable workbooks (included on the CD) give a structured way to explore and learn.

Apologia (Apologia Educational Ministries)
Apologia Educational Ministries supports homeschooling families by publishing excellent, easy-to-use creation-based science curriculum.  The elementary Science series is designed for grades K-6 and includes: “Exploring Creation with Astronomy”, “Exploring Creation with Botany”, “Exploring Creation with Zoology” ( 1, 2, 3), and “Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology”.
Major electronic resources
Switched-On Schoolhouse (Alpha Omega Publications)
Switched-On Schoolhouse is a comprehensive, Bible-based curriculum that offers computer-based learning for grades 3-12.  Provides 3-D animation, video clips, and other fascinating multimedia.  Switched-On Schoolhouse (SOS) has a diverse, vibrant mix of entertaining lessons, assignments quizzes, and more!  They offer five core subjects and a wide variety of electives. 

Accelerated Christian Education
After diagnostic testing, children are assigned courses that each consist of 12 workbooks called PACEs. Each PACE presents interesting lessons, new vocabulary, challenging quizzes, and mastery tests. The unique format of the curriculum allows students to advance from unit to unit as they demonstrate mastery. Students advance through the curriculum under parental supervision. Parents provide tutoring at the optimum moment of learning.

BJU Press
Login to BJU Press Distance Learning Online allows access to high-quality video content, online assessments, progress tracking features, and more. Grade kits for K4 through grade 12 can be purchased, or courses can be purchased individually for grades 1-12.
The Distance Learning grade kits come with the textbooks and all essential materials. For Distance Learning Online, an abridged Teacher’s Edition is provided online in PDF format rather than in book form.

BJU Press also offers Distance Learning DVDs which are available as a complete grade package for elementary grades K4 through grade 5. In grades 6-12, they are available either as a complete grade package or as individual courses.  All DVD packages come with the textbooks and all the essential materials.  Any number of children may watch the DVDs - there is no per-child viewing fee.

Time 4 Learning
Time4Learning combines education with interactive fun. Animated lessons, interactive activities, printable worksheets and detailed reporting are provided.  Lessons are presented at the student's pace by an automated system. The language arts and math lessons correlate to state standards. Science, social studies and art are also available as a bonus in most grades.
The Time4Learning curriculum gives preschool to eighth graders who are homeschooled the independence they crave, as they progress at their own pace. The program also helps kids who are homeschooled advance, by teaching with individualized learning paths that assure skill mastery.  Parents like the automated grading, lesson plans and detailed reporting that track progress and make record keeping simple.

B'Ezrat Hashem?

"B'Ezrat Hashem" is Hebrew and means "with G-d's help".

It was hard to find an English phrase that hadn't already been taken.  So since I love Judaism, and by association Hebrew, I thought this would do nicely.

With God's help - that's how I get through each day.  It's how I manage to homeschool my two oldest children with another two under two.  It's how I managed to homeschool while working part time.  It's how I survived homeschooling while working part time and studying for a Master's degree!

With God's help - it's how we are trying to raise our children.  It's how we are able to make ends meet.

With God's help - I am hoping to become that Proverbs woman...

Posted March 9, 2011