2015-2016 Preschool Plans

You might remember that last year I decided not to make any plans in advance.  I was so exhausted that I needed a break from worrying about what the next school year held, so I didn’t plan ahead, and we had a very successful year.

This year, however, I’m feeling a little more inspired and a little clearer in focusing in on what we’re going to be doing over the next few months, well at least what I feel like we’re going to do at this moment, so I’m going to start a short series over the next week or two to tell you what my tentative plan is for fall for each child.

Preschool Plans

I’m starting with Owlet because she’s the youngest and easiest to plan for! LOL  She turned four in April, and would be traditionally considered to be a preschooler (or K4) here in the United States.

Over the past year, I’ve really seen her blossom in speech and pretend play.  She also has learned how to cut and glue, and she has learned how to operate a computer mouse in an exciting way. :-)

She likes to play with ponies, barbies, and to color and cut out paper dolls.  She also likes to play on my computer, my Kindle and the Wii U.  She gets really excited about all things girly, clothes, makeup, and watching her favorite movies on Netflix and on DVD.  Her favorite book right now is the Pinkalicious series by Victoria Kann.

She knows her numbers up to 10, and she can count to about 15 without a mistake.  She also knows half of her lowercase letters and about 20 of her uppercase letters.

Note that this plan is subject to change as we continue to review items with the Crew if we find something great that comes along for her age group or if she gets interested in something that completely takes her off the path I planned :-)

So, with that in mind, we’re going to be continuing on the same track with some review items and stuff that we’ve received and started over the past few months (with the exception of WriteShop A, which I reviewed with Firecracker and Rose during Rose’s first grade year).  If I have reviewed something, I will be providing the link to the review as well.

You will notice that her plan looks like a more traditional five year old plan than four year old plan.  It just so happens that her older brother is five, and we’re doing a combination of preschool and kindergarten level work for both of them this year.  Here is her plan:


We’ll also be continuing to occasionally make letter crafts, write our letters in shaving cream, and do the fun projects that get her hands involved.  I would not consider her actually ready for First Start Reading, but we’re taking it slowly and we’re adding a lot of review into our work on the workbooks.

We will also be reading picture books aloud daily, and as we do, she’ll be drawing pictures and narrating stories in her literature notebook to me.  I plan to do assorted picture book units with her and Monkey as well.


I don’t really have any math planned other than counting and pattern working with her.  She started working through the Kindergarten level of CTC Math, but she found it too difficult for her right now.  She may go back to that in a few months, but I’m not sure that she will.


This is a unique curriculum that focuses on critical thinking.  There’s visual discrimination, sorting, language work, social/emotional, math, picture study, short story and poetry study and so much more to this.  We’ll be using it as our primary area to pull from in finding topics for study outside of just math and English.



Believe it or not, everything on this list was a review item.  The only thing I’ve actually purchased for her are the student books that go with First Start Reading ($28) and her art supplies to go with the art book.

Grand Total for Owlet = $80


Discouraging My Own Children…and Not Even Realizing It

Discourage My Children

I’m doing a review for IEW right now, and along with the primary review items, I received several wonderful bonus items that I’ve also been listening to and using.  One of the most valuable resources that I’ve used so far has been an audio lecture that Andrew Pudewa gives entitled Principles of Motivation and Skills Development.

In this lecture, he discusses relevancy, which really reminded me of how important it is that our students see their work as relevant and important.   I learned and was reminded of a ton listening to that part, but it was the part on motivation that really got to me.

He said that children will hate and they will prefer punishment to even attempting to do something that they feel that they can’t do.  That really struck me.  I have a child who is a slow reader and not great with math either.  She can summarize a story and create art in a way that she feels very good about for an 8 year old.  She can memorize scripture and she has so many talents, but in my head, because of her talents, I often push her too much in the areas that she’s weak in because I think that if she “really tries it,” she’ll like it.

The more I push, the more she resists even trying to memorize math facts or read or spell.  I’m sure you can imagine why.

She’s often willing to cry or even be punished rather than even try to spell or do math problems on her own.  So, why am I creating an environment where I’m forcing her to frustration to do the things that she hates?

It’s because I’ve lapsed once again into a fear-based homeschooling where I’m homeschooling in fear, comparing ourselves to both children in school and to other homeschoolers.  This cannot be!  The beast of fear that I had once thought I had conquered has crept back into our lives.  No wonder I’ve dealt so much with the feelings of burnout and discouragement over the past year.

So, instead, if you (or I) realize that we’re discouraging our children, even unintentionally, what are we to do?

I think we have to learn to play to our children’s interests and abilities.  We, as homeschoolers, are in a unique position to allow our children’s interests and God-given abilities to guide the course of their schooling.  We should take full advantage of that and allow ourselves to use our students abilities in planning the next thing to do.

We must stop comparing our homeschool and our children’s interests and abilities to both other homeschoolers and families with children in school.  Comparison is what creates the discontent and fear that many of us suffer from as we homeschool

We should also gently scaffold our students.  As they see relevancy and are gently led from concept to concept, they will gradually pick up the knowledge that is most important for them from each subject.

The irony here is that I’ve battled through this fear on a different level with my oldest child and made peace with his education being his own.  I didn’t realize this was a battle I was going to have to fight over and over again in different ways.  So here goes day one of being more gentle and encouraging and less pushy.

This Week

This week has been one where I haven’t taken a lot of pictures.  It’s felt like a great week, but rather ho-hum as my pictures will probably show :-)  Our main thing has been our American Revolution unit study.  We’ve done a couple of character sketches and added some events to our timeline.  We’ve looked at paintings and studied the origin of the song “Yankee Doodle.”

American Revolution

We’ve read three books and watched about 8-10 episodes of Liberty’s Kids.  It’s all really been rather pleasant.  The reading and the Liberty’s Kids have actually taken up a big part of our school time.

Revolution Books

Another major thing that we’ve been working on is our CTC Math.  Rose, who hated this program the first week, has suddenly fell in love with it.  It’s the awards that drew her in.  She’s even went back some into Kindergarten and First Grade skills to earn rewards in those sections.  Since she usually hates math, I just smile at her work reviewing concepts that usually make her cry.  The little kids are also quite pleased to do some work on it.  Unlike Rose, they don’t push to work on it and do it every day, but they’ve both done enough to earn their very first award too.  So, far the only child who has found it more frustrating than fun is Firecracker, and he’s spent the least time on it because of some of the other reviews and things that he is working on right now.

CTC Math

One of Firecracker’s major things this week has been drums.  He’s been working on rhythm and on reading quarter notes and eighth notes and translating it into drum play.  Monkey has also been working on the drums, not in any learning capacity, but in the putting on sunglasses and pretending to be a rock star kind of way. :-)


Firecracker’s also been kept busy with Dynamic Literacy.  He’s built a list of compound words from a word bank and done 2 or 3 word searches his week.  They were challenging, but he loves word searches.

Dynamic Literacy

We also took our first Latin quiz this week.  After our quiz, Rose made a poster for us to put our words on that we’re having a harder time remembering.  We also got a start with our next lesson with a new saying and we continued to review our songs, blessing and our words from lesson 1.


The big kids also continued to work on both Fix-It! Grammar and Student Writing Intensive A from IEW.  I love both, and neither one of them think that the activities we do in each curriculum is a burden.  This week we studied desert tarantulas and wrote a paragraph about them using our SWI materials.

Student Writing Intensive

We also started our summer Bible study with the big kids this week.  We’re using the Esther Bible study from Grapevine Bible studies.  It’s an old edition of it that I bought a couple of years ago on clearance when the new editions came out, and the children are really enjoying studying with it.


The little kids worked a little on their First Start Reading this week.  They only completed one page, but they seemed to enjoy it.

First Start Reading

I’m sure you’ve noticed that the past couple of weeks have had a little less of the little kids in them.  It’s because the big kids and I are really zoned into our American Revolution study and it’s too old for the little kids.  Once we finish the American Revolution study, we’re going to work through a Pirate micro-study by the same author, and I’m already looking for projects for the little kids to go along with the Pirate study.  The little kids are watching Liberty’s Kids with us and they participated in learning about “Yankee Doodle” this week too.  The pictures just don’t show it.

Learning To Love

Learning to Love

In a not-so-rare occurrence, I have two reviews going on right now that have led me in  the same direction.  What can I say?  When God speaks to me, he often hammers in the same message through many different sources.

dc-a12_thumbWe recently received in the Deluxe Combo Teacher/Student Writing Package Level A from IEW for review.  It includes a lot of different elements, but one of them is the revised version of Teaching Writing: Structure and Style.  I had only listened to the introductory lecture when I found decided to listen to the audio lecture on Principles of Motivation and Skills Development.  It’s included as part of the premium TWSS subscription as an audio download.  So, I started listening to it, and found myself really engaged and interested in it on so many levels.  I could spend a whole blog post (and maybe I should soon) discussing how I’ve discouraged the children’s development as students by the incorrect ways I’ve attempted to motivate them.

As a part of that audio lecture, I found that Pudewa was quoting a piece of C.S. Lewis’s classic essay “The Weight of Glory.”  I found a copy of the essay here.  As I sat down to begin to read, the very beginning of this essay really stood out to me.  It says:

If you asked twenty good men to-day what they thought the highest of the virtues, nineteen of them would reply, Unselfishness.  But if you asked almost any of the great Christians of old he would have replied, Love.  You see what has happened? A negative term has been substituted for a a positive, and this is of more than philological importance.  This negative idea of Unselfishness carries with it the suggestion not primarily of securing good things for others, but of going without them ourselves, as if our abstinence and not their happiness was the important point.  I do not think this is the Christian virtue of Love.

UnknownThis, of course couldn’t help but make me think of a completely different review product that I’ve been working through.  I am, of course, working on the launch team of Motivate Your Child Action Plan.  (You might have noticed the review of the book and audio cds that I posted yesterday.)  This takes the book Motivate Your Child and gives you a practical, step-by-step plan for putting the ideas into action and helping your child to develop character qualities.

I had been wondering which child and which trait to begin working through using the plan.  I had listed some characteristics that I thought needed a little work for each of the children, but it really hit me when I read the C.S. Lewis quote not long after an incident between two of my children, with lots of selfishness and tears, that the thing I need to work on most with the children is love.  I’m constantly telling them when they are unkind, but I’ve never worked with them on being explicitly honoring and loving with each other.  I’ve never put it on a practical level.  Since I believe that honoring and love go together, as you have noticed on the blog where I’ve discussed honor recently, we’ve be working on practically building honor and love in my children using the Action Plan for them.

Motivate Your Child Action Plan Review

motivate your child

Sometimes we as parents have good intentions, but we’re low on follow through.  Life gets in the way, before we know it, we’re sliding into old patterns and rhythms quite by accident because we haven’t planned ahead.  So, when I had the opportunity to review the Motivate Your Child Action Plan by Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, I knew that it would finally be the spur that I would need to help me put some of the new things that I learned in the book Motivate Your Child into action.

Details on the Action Plan

The Motivate Your Child Action Plan is a 12 chapter (40 day) plan to help you as a parent identify specific character issues that your children are having difficulty with and come up with a plan to move them from having difficulty with this character issue to having built a strength in that area.  Not only do you receive a book, but you also receive a link to download 12 audio sessions where Turansky and Miller go explore and explain the concepts in each chapter of the book in more depth.

The chapters/topics of this book include:

  • Seeing change in 40 days
  • Figuring out where you want to go
  • Creating a map to get from point A to point B
  • A place for firmness
  • Visioning moves you forward
  • Teaching shows the way
  • Spiritual energy provides strength
  • Coaching sets attitude
  • Building motivation from within
  • Growing together (a change in your child does involve a change in the parents too!)
  • Good theology makes it work


There are continual references to chapters of Motivate Your Child to expand on the ideas in this action plan, so I really don’t think that it’s feasible to use it without a copy of Motivate Your Child.  If you don’t have a copy, make sure you pick one up before you delve too deeply into the Action Plan.

Some of my Favorite Teachings From The Plan

One of the first things that really hit me with the plan was the idea of building a teamwork atmosphere where you’re coaching your child to try to make him better.  I won’t belabor the point here, and in fact, I’ve dedicated a blog post to this topic, but I was operating on a paradigm of my children vs. me. In my head, they were trying to best me and I needed to defeat them.  I hadn’t really thought about the fact that it’s so much more effective and respectful to coach children than it is to put yourself in a position where you’re fighting against them.

This is where one of the keys of the plan really comes into play with me.  There’s space in the workbook dedicated to parent-child meetings, and in those meetings you are given tips to help you guide and strategize with your child help make the course corrections that they’ll need to be successful in developing virtues.

Another key element that is related to the idea of working with your child that I truly love is the idea of transferring responsibility for change to your child (That’s an idea that is at the heart of Motivate Your Child.).  This is the idea that the behavior problem, the ensuing consequences and the responsibility for changing the behavior patterns belongs to your child.  Let’s be honest for a moment.  You can make things uncomfortable enough for your child to force them to change their behavior.  However, these changes are going to be full of resentment from your child, and will in all likelihood only be a temporary fix for the problem. It’ll be a product that comes up again.


Another key element that I loved what that of a road map mentality, I’d been operating on more of a justice mentality, and it’s exhausting.  You feel like you must give your child a punishment or a consequence for all the little, often childish, things that they do.  This not only takes a toll on your relationship with your child, but leaves no room for grace in their lives.  Instead, Turansky and Miller urge you to move to a map mentality, an idea that you’re trying to make progress (and not perfection) from point A to point B.  With a map mentality, you’re proactively trying to change things and to help your children perform a work in their hearts, even when you don’t have a specific behavior problem to look at.

In our house, with the child that I’ve chosen to work with right now, this looks like trying to move from selfishness to being loving.  That means that instead of focusing on “not being selfish,” we’re focusing on ways to be more loving.  I’m going to be sharing a little more on this in a blog post tomorrow, and I’m going to begin to allow you to see how we’re putting this plan into practice in our house.

There’s much more than I can share with you here that I’ve learned and that I’m carrying with me from the way that we’re working through the action plan in our house.  I’m excited about the progress that we’ve made and are making in our home in working towards making our vices into virtues, and I’m excited by how I’m growing as a parent because of it.  I can highly recommend that you pick up a copy of this action plan, and start moving towards your  (and your child’s) goals for your child today!



Flight and Metamorphosis {A TOS Review Crew Review}

Flight and Metamorphosis

FishFlix.com is a Christian movie company that is dedicated to selling Christian and family friendly movies so that you can make wise media choices for your family.  In our house, I’m always looking for family science videos that are safe to watch with all of my children.  So, when I received the opportunity to review the documentaries Flight and Metamorphosis, I was delighted at the chance to get to share these DVDs with my children.

What We Received

We received two physical DVDs in the mail.  Both are from The Design of Life series by Illustra Media, which is a documentary series that explores wonders of creation with the eye as to whether or not it could have happened randomly or whether there was an intelligent creator involved.

Flight: The Creative Genius of Birds flight_dvd_lg is a beautiful documentary on birds. It begins with views of different bird’s eggs and takes an inside view of an egg developing from conception until it hatches.  Then, once the egg has hatched, the video examines bone structure, feathers and other mechanical structures for flight.

Once the basis for all birds and their commonalities has been laid, the movie begins to delve into specific bird examples.  They show nano-air vehicles as man’s attempt to replicate the complicated flight of a hummingbird.  The nano-air vehicles, as we shall see quickly, can’t even come close to replicating what already exists in nature.  Soon, we’re shown the complicated flight patterns of clusters of starlings and the fascinating migration of arctic terns.

Once these patterns are examined, the movie begins a closer examination of a bird’s feathers.  What seems to be so simple a part of nature is actually a very complicated structure that is difficult to replicate.  Moreover, this is just one of the minor systems that is a part of a bird’s body.

The movie at this point takes a philosophical turn as a reminder that organisms are integrated beings and not just the sum of their parts.  They discuss the complexity of flight and how difficult it was for mankind to develop flight.  We wouldn’t believe that an airplane just happened, so why would we believe that about a pigeon?  That is the question we are left to answer at the close of this documentary.

9126p0kfqcl._sl1500__1Metamorphosis:  The Beauty and Design of Butterflies tackles one tiny piece of life science.  It begins with gorgeous scenes of butterflies, showing amazing beauty and detail.  Then, the video turns to an exploration of ancient cultures and their views on butterflies.  We are shown pictures of butterflies on paintings in ancient Egypt, and even told that in ancient Greece the word for butterfly, psyche, is also the word for “soul.”

This leads into an exploration of the butterfly’s stages of development.  They begin with the intricate shapes of the tiny eggs, and move into the pure feeding, energy burning stage of caterpillars.  Along the way specific structures and designs are discussed, including eating, molting and imaginal disks.  Wonderful examples of caterpillars forming their chrysalis structures are also shown.

Before too long, the butterfly emerges from it’s chrysalis.  We are treated to an exploration of the proboscis, scales and compound eyes of the butterfly at this point.  Once the butterfly is fully examined, we move on to a specific and wondrous example of the butterflies in nature, being shown the migration that Monarch butterflies go through as they make their way from Canada to Mexico and back.

At this point, the movie turns philosophical and questioning as it examines the idea that random mutations in the DNA sequence could cause the type of transformation that it takes to get from caterpillar to butterfly.

My Opinion On These Films

These are beautiful, high-quality films that are a wonderful and questioning look at the idea that these complicated and specific processes could have happened randomly as is currently portrayed by evolutionary theory.  The video is beautiful.  The animations are instructive and high-quality.  The speakers and narration are very persuasive.  I want to have resources like this to share with my children when they ask about evolution and creation.

In addition, I feel a little lighter after watching these films, more assured of my perspective on the ridiculousness of the idea that a butterfly could evolve from chance.  I’m always going to have the animation they share in the video in my head when I consider the possibility of a butterfly going through metamorphosis by chance.

The audience for these two videos is probably about 10 and up.  Firecracker, my science minded ten year old, and I loved them, but they had a hard time holding my preschoolers and my 8-year old’s attention.  They’re wonderful videos, but they’re meant for a more middle school and up aged audience.  However, if you’re searching for good videos for your younger children, be sure to check out FishFlix.com.  They have a whole section of their store just geared towards younger viewers.  (There are great things for Mom & Dad too!)

FishFlix.com ReviewCrew Disclaimer

Truly Free {A BookLook Bloggers Review}

Truly Free

Do you sometimes have sins that you can’t seem to get past, no matter how hard you try?  Do you want to have victory in your life over those sins?  The new book Truly Free: Breaking the Snares That So Easily Entangle by Robert Morris takes the time to examine some of these sins and how we can achieve victory in our lives.

In this book, Morris discusses root causes behind sins.  He talks at length about demonic oppression, and he takes about sins in our lives such as pride, bitterness, greed and lust that give Satan and his minions the doorway into our lives.  Along the way, he gives many examples of these sins in his life, and tips how to begin to keep these sins from being something that ensnares you for life.

I really appreciated, in this book how Morris is so open with his his own struggles.  We all have struggles, and often we’re not willing to share them.  Our pride causes us to pretend that we’re better than we really are, and so we lose out on the blessing of truly encouraging others with our struggles and our victories.

I also really needed all the encouragement on mental talk and the importance of mediating on God’s word.  Often, I’m guilty of downing myself in a way that is totally unfitting and not how God sees me.  I needed to see his ideas for strategies for winning the battle in your mind.  After all, that’s where most sins begin.

Disclaimer:  I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher, and I was not required to write a positive review.