Friday, September 27, 2013

Things That Make Me Smile 9/27/13

Jake (7½), Alyssa (5½), Zac (3½), Tyler (1½)

Happy Friday!  This was a special week. Alyssa turned 5-and-a-half and three days later, Tyler turned 1-and-a-half! All four kids are halves now, ha. Leighton and Jake went hunting over the weekend for their annual trip with the men in the family. Leighton and my uncle both shot a deer, so we have some venison in the freezer. We did some more canning, lots of reading, and plenty of smiling. 

1. Zac: "Mommy, do you love Alyssa?"
Me: "Of course I love Alyssa."
Zac: "You can't. She's being mean to me. You only love me."

2. Alyssa, on her half birthday when she gets to choose the activities: "After breakfast, can we do school?"

3. Alyssa, shocked: "Mom, Mimi grew! She's not just a doll--she grew! I used to be able to put her in the high chair, but her legs are too long and fat now."


5. Zac using his little hand to squish my cheeks together and give me a kiss.

6. Jake, sincerely: "I love having Alyssa and Zac. Whenever I'm not doing anything, they come and jump on my back."

7. Me: "How did you you get so smart?"
Zac: "Haha, I just am!"
Me: "Who taught you things?"
Zac: "Gramma!" 

8. Jake: "Tyler's really happy that he's a year-and-a-half. I don't think he's ever been happier."


10. Zac, sitting at the table: "Mom, do you remember that I want to marry Cinderella?"
Me: "Yes, I do."
Zac, coyly: "She's on Alyssa's cup. She's smiling at me." . . . {baffled} "She's still smiling at me."

11. Alyssa kept talking with a southern twang, so Jake told her, "Alyssa, stop talking like that! Only Dad can talk funny."

12. Alyssa: "I'm going to make mancakes. They're pancakes and they're shaped like a man! Mancakes! Get it?"

13. {Tyler grabs all the toys and causes trouble.}
Alyssa, sweetly: "Mommy, can you put Tyler to bed, please? He's really tired."
{Tyler picks up her toy and chews on it.}
Alyssa, even sweeter: "See, he's even hungry. Can you put him in his high chair and feed him, please?" 

14. Alyssa, twirling her dress: "Am I pretty? Am I pretty enough to dance?"
Jake: "Uh uh."
Me: "Jacob!"
Jake, smiling: "Well, she asked."

What made you smile this week?

Pin It

Friday, September 20, 2013

Things That Make Me Smile 9/20/13

Jake (7½), Alyssa (5), Zac (3½), Tyler (1)

Happy Friday! What a busy week it's been -- trying to stop Tyler from throwing toys in the fish tank, trying to stop Tyler from throwing toys in the garbage, trying to stop Tyler from emptying the crayons all over the floor, trying to stop Tyler from clearing off the counter, trying to stop Tyler from emptying the drawers, trying to stop Tyler . . .

You get the idea.

1. Zac, about his stuffed bear Blue Baby: "She's nice. She doesn't bite; I took her stinger out."

2. Dressing up for Round Up Sunday at church.

3. Zac: "Is today Fraterday?"
Me: "Friday?"
Zac: "Yeah!"
Me: "Saturday?"
Zac: "Yeah!"
Me: "No, it's Tuesday."


5. Zac calling flamingos "bingos."

6. Me: "Alyssa, will you stop Tyler, please?"
Alyssa: "But he just wants t go downstairs and play."
Me: "I don't want him going downstairs right now. I'm making dinner."
Alyssa: "Oh, it's ok--Zac will keep track of him."

7. Jake and Alyssa teaching me their "secret handshake" so I could join their club.

8. Zac asking for "a bucket of butter" for his birthday.

9. Zac: "You're pretty, Mommy."

10. Alyssa, while wrestling with Jake: "If you do that one more time, when you stand up, I'm going to tweak your nose."

What made you smile this week?

Pin It

Monday, September 16, 2013

Things That Make Me Smile 9/13/13

Jake (7½), Alyssa (5), Zac (3½), Tyler (1)

And here are the Smiles from this past week! We officially started our 4th year of homeschooling, got some fancy new canning supplies, tried to keep the baby out of trouble, played plenty of chess, got an upright freezer(!), and laughed and smiled a lot.

1. Zac, singing: "Why don't we have three of these? Three bathroooooms! I want three of these, not two. I want three bathroooms. Threeeeee!" 

2. Jake, while playing chess: "Well, you could move your piece here, like this, and then you can take my piece."
Alyssa: "Yeah!"
Jake: "Ha, now I can take this one!"
Alyssa: "Yeah, well, now that I made it here, I can get another queen."

3. The freezers aren't delivered in boxes anymore, so the delivery men gave us a dryer box to play with. 

4. Zac: "Papa do you think I'm awesome?
Papa (my dad): "Yes, I do."
Zac, sweetly: "You're my friend."
Papa: "You're my friend too, Zac."

5. Zac didn't want his Fruit Loops with milk, "because than you have to try and catch them." 

6. Zac crying because his "pants are boring."

7. Tyler walked over to Zac, who was sitting on the couch and started beating on him. Zac looked at him and sweetly said, "I love you, Tyler."

8. While trying to keep Tyler out of trouble:

9. Jake, about Tyler: "He is epically trouble."

10. Alyssa: "Mommy, I love you. And I'll never not love you."

What made you smile this week?

Pin It

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Things That Make Me Smile 9/6/13

Jake (7½), Alyssa (5), Zac (3½), Tyler (1)

Happy Weekend! Did you notice that I haven't posted Smiles for two whole weeks?!? That has never happened before! We were on our staycation last week. We planned so many fun things that week that I didn't get a chance to blog. And this past week? Well, I don't really have a good excuse. Lazy, I guess. But don't worry, I'll still be posting two different lists full of quotes sure to make you smile.  

1. Jake, about a soccer game: "Either we beat them or they beat us." 

2. Alyssa, using the apple peeler/corer after watching Leighton use it: "Ugh, you make it look easy."

3. Zac, wanting to build a block tower at his seat on the kitchen table: "Mommy, can you get the jelly off the table?"
Me: "Who made the mess?"
Zac: "I'm pretty sure Tyler."


5. Alyssa: "How do you know if babies are boys or girls when they're born? Because girls have long eyelashes?"

6. Alyssa, about a cookie: "It looks so good I don't want to eat it."

7. Zac, after getting his own notebook: "Now I don't have to scribble in Alyssa's!"

8. Alyssa, while coloring: "I'm making Zac this surprise only because I love him."


10. Jake, while standing outside watching the lightning: "Wow, this is like watching a huge move, only better!"

11. Zac: "I want some apple mush." (aka homemade applesauce)

12. Alyssa: "You know what some kids do? When they're older, like almost 10, when they're like 9. They lie on their bed on their tummy and write in their notebook."
13. Zac, drinking water: "Seals are swimming in my tummy with every drink!"

What made you smile this week? Don't forget to look for another list of Smiles tomorrow!

Pin It

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Logic of English

It is no secret that I love English. Grammar, punctuations, words, reading - you name it, I like it. So, when a review came from Logic of English, I knew I wanted to try it.

When we received the Foundations A package, I asked Jake (7) to bring it in the house. I heard a grunt and then a laugh before he asked me to get it instead. I teased him about not being strong enough to pick up the box. I mean, how heavy could it be? And then I lifted it up. Boy, was I wrong! I was surprised just how full it was of fun learning resources. Even though the materials are geared toward ages 4-7 and I was planning to use these with Alyssa (5), the boys were pretty impressed with the things, too.

  • Foundations A Teacher's Manual ($38)
  • Manuscript Workbook ($18)
  • Basic Phonogram Flash Cards ($18)
  • Red Manuscript Phonogram Game Cards ($10)
  • Blue Bookface Phonogram Game Cards ($10) 
  • The Rhythm of Handwriting Manuscript Tactile Cards ($28) 
  • The Rhythm of Handwriting Manuscript Chart ($10)
  • Student Whiteboard ($12) 
  • Phonograms App ($2.99)

The Foundations A Teacher's Manual includes 40 lessons and is very thorough. The book covers phonemic awareness, handwriting, and reading. The lessons are scripted so that you could read word-for-word if you so choose. The lessons are a bit long, but are broken into several activities. The beginning of each lesson lists the objectives and needed materials. There are also notes sprinkled throughout the book listing book ideas, teacher tips, and multi-sensory fun, and more. The manual is hard cover, colorful, easy-to-follow, and detailed.

The Manuscript Workbook is a consumable workbook full of fun learning activities. The pages are perforated if you want to tear them out. The book is colorful and has cute pictures that grabbed Alyssa's attention immediately. It also includes many games like bingo, reading basketball, matching, charades, etc. There are also places to practice handwriting. Alyssa loves completing workbook pages. She would have done 15 pages a day had we skipped everything else!

 The Basic Phonogram Flash Cards include the 74 basic phonogram. These large, sturdy cards list the phonograms, pronunciations, and examples. 

The Red Manuscript Phonogram Game Cards and the Blue Bookface Phonogram Game Cards are used throughout the lessons to reinforce the phonograms and have fun. These two cards are the same, except for the color. I have one child whose favorite color is red and another whose favorite is blue. Each child wants everything in his own favorite color. The things that are important to kids!

The Rhythm of Handwriting Manuscript Tactile Cards are great for practicing writing. The writing strokes, lower case letters, capital letters, and numerals are printed with a sandpaper texture. On the back of each card is the complete instruction for formation. All three kids and I had fun tracing the cards just to feel the bumpy texture. 

The Rhythm of Handwriting Manuscript Chart is a reference chart that includes systematic directions for writing each letter. The letters are grouped and color-coded by their initial stroke. It is a helpful tool in teaching proper letter formation.

The Student Whiteboard is a huge 11" x 16" double-sided, durable whiteboard. One side has one big set of handwriting lines, measuring 5 inches, while the other side has a set of 6 lines, 1 inch a piece. Alyssa loves using this board to practice her writing. My children have inherited my perfectionist gene. If she makes a mistake, she gets frustrated and unhappy. I explain that she's only 5 and still learning. Regardless, she's always liked using the whiteboard since it's easy to erase and fix the mistakes. Since this board is so large and sturdy, she can take it anywhere - couch, bed, table - and practice her letters. I think this board is well-worth the price.

The Phonograms App is an on-the-go way to review the phonograms. It let's the student hear the sound, see the phonogram, and touch the matching card. The app consists of matching the card to the sound or a simple flash card review. Alyssa was a little put-off by this originally. Since each sound is listed for phonogram (i = ĭ, ī, ē, y) it was a little overwhelming. I started hitting the correct answer before she could and turned it into a game. She had fun listening and pressing the letters and tried to beat me to them. And sometimes she did! 

Overall, we liked the program. The lessons are a little long. Since Alyssa already knows how to write, we didn't spend much time on the handwriting portion as it was written. We did review the letter strokes in helping her write them properly. She loved using the large whiteboard and the workbook. The colorful pictures and fun games are what she likes most. I appreciate the thoroughness of the program, along with the extra tips and activities. One of the things I love about homeschooling is that if a certain learning style isn't working for your student, you can change it up. Logic of English offers different options that will work. It's detailed, easy-to-use, and complete.

Logic of English offers other products as well. Some of my crew mates reviewed Essentials or Rhythm of Handwriting. You can read the reviews.

Pin It

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Learning How to Cross the Road

I am always bringing home new books for the kids. Books I bought at a garage sale, books I found at Salvation Army, books someone gave us. Books, books. books. My philosophy is that you can never have too many books. My husband teases me about it, and I just tease him that he needs to build me more bookcases, ha. With all these choices of reading material, it's easy to read a different book every day for the next 2 years. No, I am not exaggerating.

All of that to say that in order for my kids to request a single book over and over again means that they really, really like it. 

And this book, Look Left, Look Right, Look Left Again that we received for review from Greene Bark Press was one such book.

This colorful board book, written by Ginger Pate and illustrated by Rhett Ransom Pennell, tells the tale of Wally Waddlewater learning to cross the street safely. He wants to mail a card to his grandma, but doesn't realize the dangers that are involved. Mama Waddlewater helps him on his journey across town to the mailbox. As each new obstacle arises, she reminds, "Look left, look right, make sure the _____ are out of sight. Remember then: look left again."

The fun rhyme, the cute cartoons, the silly story, and the catchy onomatopoeia make this story one that the kids love. They didn't understand at first why they should look left twice, though. Why not look right first, then left? I grabbed some play cars and a couple toy people and set it up like the book. They saw how we drive on the right side of the road, so when we cross, the closest cars are coming from the left. It made sense then, and they had fun acting out the story.

More than just the book though, I am impressed with Greene Bark Press. Their philosophy is that "the key to reading and language comprehension is the printed book." For kids to retain and understand new words and concepts at a rate in order to be successful, they need good imaginative books readily available. (See, honey, I need more bookcases!) The company sells only books they feel are imaginative, colorful, and have some value to add to the growth and learning process of young readers. They also offer products from manufacturers whose materials meet those same standards, including Melissa & Doug and International Playthings.

Look Left, Look Right, Look Left Again costs $8.50 and is meant for ages 3-8. I knew my 1, 3, and 5-year-old would love the book, but was a little skeptical of my 7-year-old wanting to read it multiple times. Boy, was I wrong! He rushed right over each time I opened it up to read, and he even read it a couple times to his siblings himself. This book is a good teaching tool for road safety and traffic awareness. When we cross the street now, whether on foot or on bike, we recite the saying, look left, look right, look left again. It makes is more fun and a better reminder than just saying "make sure to look both ways."

Wally Waddlewater learned to cross the road safely, and he can help your child, too.

As always, you can read more reviews of this book from my crew mates on the Schoolhouse Review Crew.

Pin It