Homeschool Creations

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Tot School ~ Catching up!

~ Kaleb is 39 months ~

It has been FOREVER since I’ve posted about our Tot School activities.  Not that we haven’t been doing stuff with Kaleb ~ but he hasn’t been doing as much planned/focused activities as usual. These last two weeks have been much better, so here’s a little look at some of the things we’ve been up to!

I thought I had a picture of Kaleb playing the animal sorting game, but my brain must be mistaken. He really amazed me at how well he was able to sort all of the animals in the Animal Sorting File Folder Game I put together this week.

Before this cute little Melissa & Doug farm sound blocks disappear from our house, Kaleb had to play with it one last time.  I actually had it sitting out to give to a friend, but Kaleb had fun matching up the animals to hear their sounds.

We had fun sorting pom poms by color in an ice cube tray from the Dollar Tree ~ the rainbow order came from an older sister who insists that all colors must be sorted JUST SO!


Some friends of ours were kind enough to give us an electronic drum set for the boys. I’m still trying to come up with a way to appropriately thank them for their generosity {ahem}. 


This picture is from a few weeks ago, but Life on the Farm has been one of Kaleb’s favorite games to play. Thank goodness the game is made out of a thick foam ~ super sturdy since he is rough on it. It’s been great too for going over our shapes and counting and colors.


We took a trip to the children’s museum and Kaleb was fascinated by these tubes that would suck scarves in and blow them out up high ~ kept him occupied for quite some time! :)


The dinosaurs were also something Kaleb spent a lot of time playing on ~ insisting that they were his ‘family’. I have no idea….


And potty training…want to see how well it is going?? You can read more about the bribery initial potty training attempts and some umm…. technical issues. :)

Don't forget to visit Carissa at 1+1+1=1 for some more Tot School posts.


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Friday, February 26, 2010

Preschool Corner ~ Animal Sorting File Folder Game

While we still went through our usual routine this week, I’ve finally been getting back into a groove and getting ideas for some new printables.

So of course I have to put some together and test them out on my own kiddos, right?

Both of our boys love playing with animals {especially our Schleich animals}, so we gathered all of the animals that we could find around the house and had some fun playing and sorting and sorting and playing. Zoo animals, farm animals, ocean animals ~ they came from near and far to be a part of our school time.


A little later we sat down to play the Animal Sorting game that I put together. There are three different types of animals ~ farm, zoo, and ocean animals that need to be sorted and put under the header where they belong. Each animal type has 9 different animals in that category and has it’s name listed along on the card.

Zachary and Kaleb both had fun playing with this printable game and I set it up differently for both of them. Zachary spread the game out on the counter to sort the cards, but the file folder {with velcro dots} helped Kaleb have a more defined area and visible amount to sort {the printable shows how you can set it up with velcro for younger ones}.

We also used the cards for Zachary to read and identify. On a few of the cards I changed the words to see if he was really sounding out/reading or just visually identifying the pictures. For example, instead of saying ‘panda’, that picture card says ‘panda bear’.

Animal Sorting Game Collage

Click on the thumbnail to download the pdf file

Reading & Phonics

Zachary is sitting down every day to read with me, but we mix it up a little bit as to what he reads from. Two days a week he gets to pick a Scholastic reader {the little square red books} and the other two days he reads a few pages from the Beehive Reader 1


We’ve been learning about nickles and dimes in the last two weeks, so we’re practicing counting by 5’s and 10’s ~ I have a skip counting printable coming soon for these!

Zachary is doing great telling time to the 1/2 hour so now we’re moving on to the quarter hour. Both of the girls are working on Roman numerals, which makes Zachary want to learn them too. Our main clock in the house has Roman numerals on it, so he has been having fun trying to figure out the time on that clock. :)

We also pulled out our Number Card printables to sequence numbers and start learning some of the early Roman numerals {one and five}.

Favorites this Week


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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Raising Rock Stars ~ Books of the Bible

Raising Rock Stars

We’ve missed attending Awana the last few weeks because of all the snow, snow, snow.  The girls {Laurianna especially} have used the time to memorize more in their Sparks books ~ mainly the books of the Old Testament.

Somehow though, we have gotten away from reading out of one of our Bibles in the morning…and that is bothering me a LOT. And that will be changing immediately. Our Bibles had been stacked on the dining room table so we would just grab on in the morning, and they someone managed to get moved … so they will find a home again on the table to be a constant reminder. :)

This morning I let the kid’s pick the story to read and they wanted to hear about Joseph from several different kid Bible versions. I’m guessing that has a lot to do with our seeing Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat this weekend with the older three {a local high school musical}. I am very tempted to download one of the songs from the musical just so the kids can learn the names of the 12 sons of Jacob! :)

Some of the people in the Bible that we have been talking about over the last few weeks:
  • Josiah ~ God’s word lasts forever {even if we forget about it}.  We are all sinners and don’t always love & obey God’s word like we should ~ that is why He sent His Son to be our Savior! 1 Peter 1:25
  • Daniel ~ God is faithful and will always be with us {even in a lion’s den!} ~ 1 Thessalonians 5: 17-18
  • Nehemiah ~ as the king’s cupbearer, he was an important servant in the Persian kingdom and still working for God! Colossianns 3:23

Don’t forget to visit Carisa at 1+1+1=1 and see what she’s been doing with her kids for Raising Rock Stars ~ as well as some other moms around the web!


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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Math Mammoth {Review}

image Math Mammoth produces various math workbooks and curriculums at affordable prices for homeschooling families. They offer a wide range of worktexts for grades 1 through 8. Last year we reviewed the Light Blue series for 1st and 2nd grade and you can also read that review here.

The workbooks are very thorough and there are four different series to choose from (click on the picture for a larger view):

This year I requested the Multiplication 1 to review {see the table of contents here}. From the site:

Multiplication 1: Master the Times Tables lets children first learn well the multiplication concept itself, tying it in with number lines, rows and columns, multiplying by zero, some word problems, and order of operations.

Then the second part practices all the the times tables - and yes, it does involve memorization (which is not bad in itself). BUT when you do the tables in a certain order - easiest ones first - and use a 12x12 grid, the task becomes less daunting.

Multiplication 1 works first on the concepts of multiplication {skip counting, number lines, understanding word problems,  etc…. and then moves on to the actual memorization of the facts.  Tables are not memorized in numerical order {i.e. 1s, 2s, 3s, 4s}, but rather in a method where children are learning fewer ‘new’ facts each lesson:


One thing that I really appreciate about Math Mammoth is the ability to download specific segments of curriculum that your child might need additional help with, meaning you can supplement the curriculum that you are currently using.  We’ve been adding this in a little bit at a time and are still working through it due to some computer issues on my part {ahem}. For that reason, I would recommend spending a little extra when possible and getting a CD version of a program. :)

So far this has helped us pinpoint a few things that we needed work on to master multiplication. We have been working on skip counting together and the bonus to that is Zachary is starting to pick up the counting with us!

Try it Out for Free!

You can also subscribe to the Math Mammoth monthly email newsletter here and receive a gift of over 280 math worksheets and also sample pages from the various workbooks. Here are some other helpful links for you:

Free Samples Download
Placement Tests
FAQ (including ordering information)



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This product was given to me for review purposes, and I do not have to return the product to the vendor. I was not paid for this post. All opinions expressed in this post are mine.

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Preschool Corner ~ Firemen Lapbook

Both of the boys are very much into firemen and policemen at the moment, so we took advantage of that this week and I put together a fireman lapbook for Zachary {and also for Kaleb}.

Zachary was hilarious when I pulled out all of the printables and asked if he wanted to do some ‘schoolwork’. When he saw what it was, he ran and grabbed his marker box and plopped himself down to start working right away. I had to help put some of the lapbook / lapfolder together, but he had fun coloring and cutting some things out to put it all together.

This is a picture of the inside/outside of our fireman lapbook that we did. I used a file folder ~ no fancy folding, and just punched it with a 3 hole punch when we were done so we could put it into a binder to keep on a nearby shelf.

Fireman Lapbook collage

The front cover is a 16 piece puzzle that is part of the download. Zachary pieced it together and then we worked to glue it on the cover. The back cover is one of the other printables, a shadow matching game that features different things that firemen use.

Inside the lapbook we added our pattern strip to the top, a color word and ‘simple’ reader, words that firemen use, spelling his name, and counting/sequencing from 1-10 using the Dalmatian's spots.

You can download individual pieces for the fireman lapbook on my website or the full file {it’s around 2.5 MB}. I will be updating it soon with additional resources for games and other activities too!

Stories & Books We Used


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Zeezok Publishing


Zeezok Publishing recently sent me a few of their classic composer series to use with our girls. In all honesty, it was a nice little break from our current studies and a little something different for us to help with the winter ‘blahs’ that Mommy was going through in planning.

We received two composer sets {Foster and MacDowell} and each set includes a biography Photobucketfocused on a composer {written in chapter book format}, a coordinating study guide chocked full of notes for the teacher, and a cd-Rom that has music from the composer along with a few printables. The study guides include timelines, maps, comprehension questions and more detailed information on the composer ~ tidbits that are not included in the book itself.

The biographies {$12.95} feature pen and ink drawings throughout the book and are focused toward elementary aged students {Laurianna had no difficulty reading the text, but it was above McKenna’s reading level @ 2nd grade}. The biographies also include snippets of the composer’s music and the companion cd {$7.95} also has printable music.

While the study guides {$4.95} offer much information on the composer’s, they do not have a ‘lesson plan’ format, so you will have to put together your own weekly plan. We found the chapter’s were a little long to do in one sitting {without having someone getting distracted}, so I pre-read Edward MacDowell and His Cabin in the Pines and we would stop at various places in the book to break it up a little bit more.

Overall the study was a great little break for us from our regular routine and our girls were especially interested since they had recently started piano lessons and now feel they may someday be a famous piano player. :)

Zeezok Publishing also offers a variety of other products, including penmanship programs and a series of books on the Civil War.  The composer sets are range in price from $30.90 to $35.80 each. Sets include a companion CD for free {$7.95 value}.


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This product was given to me for review purposes, and I do not have to return the product to the vendor. I was not paid for this post. All opinions expressed in this post are mine.

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Cobweb the Cat ~ Beehive Reader {Review}

image For the last two months I have been using the Cobweb the Cat with Zachary {our recent 5 year old} to go along with the All About Spelling Level 1 program. Cobweb the Cat wasn’t available when our older two were learning how to read, otherwise I would have been kicking myself for not having owned it sooner!

Cobweb the Cat is the first book in the All About Reading program. It goes hand in hand with the Level 1 Spelling program, so as your child is working through their spelling and learning the spelling/reading rules they can put it into practice using the Beehive Readers. Even though it goes along with All About Spelling, it can be used independently as a reader for any child.

There are ten short stories in the reader. To give you an idea of what the stories are like, Zachary recently read the short story “The Pond” and we’ve been working our way through the other stories in the book a little at a time ~ here’s a sample of a page from “King Sam and the Bat”.

Great features of Cobweb the Cat:

  • Hardcover {making it rather durable in the hands of a certain 5 year old}
  • The pictures in the stories are all ink sketches that are beautifully done ~ yet don’t always reveal the storyline, so children don’t use the pictures to predict the story.
  • There is a handy chart {and I love charts} showing you what spelling lessons correspond to the different stories in the Reader
  • Underlining of text {it looks similar to a notebook page} helping children track the words and read more easily.
  • Wording layout encourages children to read in phrases rather than reading word-by-word
  • Short stories that are realistic {and enjoyable for adults to listen to}
  • There are more coming!! Four more readers are scheduled to release by the end of 2010 along with a teacher’s manual ~ the books are being illustrated right now!

Find Out More

Cobweb the Cat {$19.95} is available through the All About Spelling website. Shipping has been fast in my experience and Marie is always helpful in answering any questions that I might have. While you are browsing the site, be sure to also check out the great spelling program that we are using with all of our children.

Click on the Homeschool Crew banner to read other reviews about this product.

This product was given to me for review purposes, and I do not have to return the product to the vendor. I was not paid for this post. All opinions expressed in this post are mine.

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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Dollar Homeschool ~ Ray’s Arithmetic

Dollar Homeschool

Not too long ago, I received Ray’s Arithmetic from Dollar Homeschool to review as part of the Homeschool Crew. It was a company that I had not heard of before, so I was very intrigued when I read that Ray’s Arithmetic is a curriculum from K-12 {from counting all they way up to calculus} for only $59.

Affordable would be the first word that came to my mind.

Ray’s Arithmetic series is a collection of 38 books that have been scanned {textbooks, answer keys, and teacher’s editions} and are intended to use as ‘printing’ curriculum. As you need materials, you print what you need. You can use the curriculum year after year with all of your children ~ and using your own quick math skills, you can see that $59 total is a good price. For a full list of all the books included, you can visit Dollar Homeschool.

The series isn’t something that was newly created. It was a part of the Eclectic Education Series {EES} textbooks used in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s as the standard text in most schools. The text itself is just as it was then {here’s a little example for you}.


Ray's Arithmetic 


  • Inexpensive. $59 for a curriculum that spans from kindergarten through high school is definitely a pro!
  • Can print off as many copies as you would like, especially if any text is torn or lost.
  • Provides real-life examples to help tie in math concepts with everyday living.
  • Subjects are taught in a process that builds from level to level.
  • Ties-in examples from history along with word problems ~  “General Washington was born A.D. 1732, and lived 67 years: in what year did he die?”
  • It’s classic ~ I have to admit, I love the graphics and the fact that this is a proven text that was used for years effectively.


  • For me personally, e-Books are more difficult to use. I really like to have a text in front of me. I realize I can print it off and have it right there, but it is an extra step to take and sometimes it’s one I’m not willing to take.
  • Some of the scanned pages are a little cock-eyed {i.e. not straight} which just bothers me on some level ~ no smart comments. :)
  • The curriculum requires a little more teacher time involvement. The first few years are designed to be studied orally with the teacher/student. Depending on how many grade levels you are teaching, the time can add up fast.
  • If you have been using traditional {and colorful} texts, this will be an adjustment for everyone. The font type and graphics are black and white ~ and not so much ‘eye candy’.
  • As with any new program, you really need to get caught up and understand the program ~ the Manual of Methods is a help, but still requires a bit more time and effort. :)

You can purchase Ray’s Arithmetic directly from Dollar Homeschool for $59. If you are interested, Dollar Homeschool also has other texts on CD-rom in the Eclectic Education Series that include science, history, grammar,  and the McGuffey’s Readers. You can buy the complete series for $159.

If you ever break or misplace a CD, Dollar Homeschool will replace it for you for only the cost of shipping. They also offer a 30 day money back guarantee on all of their products.

Software compatibility: The books on the CD's are PDF files and they will work on any computer ~  Mac, Vista, XP, Linux, {per the Dollar Homeschool website}.


Click on the Homeschool Crew banner to read other reviews about this product.

This product was given to me for review purposes, and I do not have to return the product. I was not paid for this post. All opinions expressed in this post are mine.

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Preschool Corner ~ The Snow Abounds

This week I had grand plans in place after all the craziness and busyness during the month of January.

And then there was this thing called a blizzard that hit our area and the kids all got this glazed look in their eyes because snow is such a hot commodity {to children} in our town. Generally it’s that rare, except when you get it in back to back snow storms and get even more fun dumped on you.


We also talked about what it meant to be a good neighbor ~ and the kids all worked together to shovel out a few of our neighbors.


My plans then went out the window and the kids instead spent much of their time playing outside and then came inside to have fun playing together to warm up. Add to the mix friends visiting {i.e.  our local schools will be shut down probably til early Spring at this rate}.

A few things that we did do this week school-wise:

Valentine’s Day

Cards ~ ‘Tis the season to make lots of crafty things for others, so we made cards for all the people in our family….and a big mess for Mommy.

Patterns ~ All we had to do was cut out a few simple hearts in red, white, and pink and then have fun creating different patterns together. We worked on patterns like red/pink/red/pink {these are called ABAB patterns}, red/pink/white {ABC patterns}, red/red/white {AAB patterns} ~ I think you get the idea.

Candy Sorting ~ We used a bag of the candy hearts, sorted them by color and then counted to see which one we had the most of {after certain children were sneaking them to eat…}.

Fruit Hearts ~ We made some yummy fruit hearts together. You can see how to make them in the Little Books for Little Cooks post at Totally Tots.


We did sneak in games that would at least help out with learning & activity in some way, shape or form.

Uno was great for counting, color matching ~ and we decided to name the colors in Spanish to make it more fun!

Life on the Farm ~ This was a great game to play with Kaleb and Zachary together. Think Candyland, but with fun puzzle shapes and farm animals all rolled into one. The boys love this game.

Life on the Farm Preschool

Wii Sports Resort ~ Nothing like getting some more energy out playing a little Wii together. :)

Go Fish ~ Great for identifying numbers!


I don’t know if I would exactly consider it cooking, but it is a recipe! We made Snow Cream with some of our freshly fallen snow. It was really easy to make and the kids loved it!


  • 8 cups fresh {and clean} snow :)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  1. Mix the four ingredients together.
  2. Enjoy!

Snow Books

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A Last ‘Thank You’ to the Sponsors

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I’d like to say one last ‘thank you’ to all of the AMAZING and generous sponsors!! I hope that you all have learned more about these great companies and the products that they offer ~ and have bookmarked some ideas for gifts in the upcoming months!


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Itty Bitty Bookworm



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Pick and Draw

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