Tag Archives: L

C is for Convention, Curriculum, and Companions

C title

This last weekend, I was really blessed. The three giggly girls stayed with their aunt and grandparents for Friday and Saturday so that my husband and I could go to the Arlington Bookfair. It was a fantastic weekend away.

We found a cute little bed and breakfast in Duncanville (Alla’s Bed and Breakfast). I wish I had taken my camera with me! It is a small house that used to be home to some of the founding family of Duncanville. They had furnished the home with lots of period pieces. Rick, Alla’s husband, must enjoying tinkering with old electronics because they had lots of period lamps and light bulbs, an 80 year old refrigerator that works, a black-and-white TV from the very early stages of the invention, a color TV from when they were brand new, and a gigantic console radio from the period. The home was furnished with lovely antiques and it was really comfortable. Of course, we got a very good idea of what L will be like when she grows up if her talking habits don’t change – Alla did not stop talking once. Seriously! She had so many stories to tell and lots to talk about. It was lots of fun!

At the convention, we heard some great speakers. I won’t try to name them because I will certainly misname someone or mislabel their topic. I do pretty well taking information in but not so good at spitting it back out with something like this. I got some much needed encouragement and some great intellectual challenges. I am following it up with some pretty in-depth study. That may all come out later as a blog post but for now, lots of reading and thinking and Bible checking.

At the convention, we also found some good curriculum pieces to add to their girls’ school work when needed.

C history We bought Mystery of History book 1, though I was kind of surprised at a couple of things when we got home. I’ll have to preread it (which I don’t mind doing – it is very well written and I love history!) so that nothing catches us by surprise with the Bible part of this history. We also found some blank timelines that the girls will fill in as we work through the history.




C art


We bought Artistic Pursuits for L and J to share.




C cds


We got more of the Maestro Classics, which I am really excited about. We’ll do quite a bit with these over the summer – fun learning but keeping the brain intact and not turning to mush!

C writing



We also bought WriteShop Level D. E had really wanted to be selected for the team on the Review Crew to do this one but we weren’t. So, we bought it and we’ll probably start it before too long because she is so excited about it. (We already have a level of it for L to work on.)




The rest of our purchases were research based. Some of it the girls will end up using but a lot of it was for Joe and I. Creationism vs evolution is quite a big discussion point right now. The girls totally understand that God created the world so that isn’t something we have to deal with. However, as they get older, they are coming across the details in science that conflict with that and we are gearing our brains up to be able to help them understand it all clearly within the science realm of it all. Also, sometimes, you just want something new to read.

C answers books 

C readingC dinosaursC dad booksC books to read

One of the highlights of my weekend – getting to meet Gwen, a fellow Review Crew member. This is the first lady from the crew I have gotten to meet in real life. It is nice to meet someone in person that you are getting to know from your time online. It was fun meeting her and some of her children. (They were so polite and kind and a joy to talk to.) The more Gwen and I talked, the more we found we had in common. It was really a pleasure and a treat to get to meet up with her.C with Gwen


So with convention, curriculum, and companions – C – I am happy, geared up, and ready to go again.

At Home.

Ben and Me

A is for Apprentice


We have begun a new series of blog posts that will take us Blogging Through The Alphabet. This is in conjunction with Ben and Me blog. So, for week one,…

A is for Apprentice

We are currently working on a review for a CD about The Sorcerer’s Apprentice by Paul Dukas. We are really enjoying it and there are so many resources to go with it! You’ll have to watch for the official review. Today, we are going to show you some of the extra activities we did to go with the CD.

Scratch offs –

scratch offs

A friend gave us these scratch off papers she got at the dollar store. We used them to create a picture that reminds us of the tone poem The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. The oldest giggly girl chose the ABCs, because an apprentice is there to learn, and a wand, because the apprentice uses magic to get out of a job that he is too lazy to do. The middle giggly girl chose to create a tapestry. (We are studying Apologia’s “What In The World Can I Do?” and talked about tapestries recently.) She said the music told a story and reminded her of God.) The youngest giggly girl created a picture of all the things a sorcerer would need – hat, clothing, spell books, wand, and more.

Fantasia –

We watched the animation of this piece of music on the Disney Fantasia DVD. This got mixed reviews from the girls but the general consensus is that this was not their favorite version.

Maestro Classics –

We used the booklet that came with the CD from Maestro Classics. It has a few different activities in it. There is a crossword puzzle that the two older giggly girls worked together. There is also a very short matching game, where you match up the composer and two poets with an item that represents them.

Poem –

We looked up the original poem from Goethe and found a line-by-line translation. We read through the poem and the girls acted it out. We then went through some posters that we have of different types of poetry and the two older giggly girls chose a style in which to write their own poems about “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.”

Piano Music –

piano music

I found the piano music for the March of the Brooms from The Sorcerer’s Apprentice on Making Music Fun. I played it on piano and the girls danced.

Strega Nona –

Strega Nona

We found a book about another magical sorcerer, Strega Nona, and her apprentice, Big Anthony. We borrowed the book and the Scholastic video from our library. We read the book and then watched the video. The girls picked up right away about some of the animation and how it changed or differed from the book. We talked about those changes and why they might have been necessary. They compared the book and movie.


Pitched Percussion –

We pulled up several videos and sound clips on pitched percussion, such as marimba, xylophone, glockenspiel, vibraphone, and chimes. One very good link was from the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. We also used the opportunity to look at pictures of the various pitched percussion and compare them.

DIY Project – Create A Water Xylophone

water xylophone

We got out five 12 ounce jelly jars and E filled them with water to varying heights. The girls took turns exploring the sound with them. Then we talked about the sound differences. Even J, at 5 years old, was able to make the comparison that a fuller jar = a lower pitch and an emptier jar = a lower pitch. They also experimented with using different items as mallets and realized that each different material created a different timbre. (We got lots of music vocabulary in!)

playing instruments

Then, we turned on the music and let them play along with The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.


Tune in next week to see what is chosen for letter B, as we blog through the alphabet with Ben and Me. In the meantime, go visit some of the other blogs that are blogging the alphabet with us.

Ben and Me




E Is For Enchantment

post anchor

Our Poppins Book Nook selection for this month’s theme of “Where In The World” is none of the ones that I was thinking when I wrote the intro post earlier this month. We went to my mom and dad’s in New Mexico for a much needed break and mom had gotten E Is For Enchantment: A New Mexico Alphabet for the girls. I immediately knew we were changing the planned book for this month. This one was THE ONE and it has been so much fun.

E Is For Enchantment: A New Mexico Alphabet is written by Helen Foster James and is illustrated by Neecy Twinem. Each letter of the alphabet features an important or unique aspect of the state of New Mexico. One of the neat things about this ABC book is that the letter is prominent in the chosen word for the letter but it is not necessarily the first letter of the first word. An example: B is for Smokey Bear. You might ask “why did she not put Smokey Bear under S?” Well, I don’t know her answer but I do know that under S you will find Santa Fe, an interesting place in the state and you can’t very well file that under a different letter.

Another thing that I love about E Is For Enchantment is that there are a couple of different ways to read it. You can read just the short, 4 line rhyme about the letter and the word for that letter. Or you can read the rhyme and the informational paragraphs with the details about the word chosen for the letter. This allows you to use this with preschool students on up through junior high or older. It can be just an ABC book or it can be a history book or a cultural book. So many possibilities. We used it as a bit of all of the above.

I grew up in NM and we go back several times a year to visit. I want the girls to learn about that lovely state and all that it has to offer. There is so much richness in NM. They learned a little bit about NM during the 50 states study but this was an easy way to offer them even more. So what did we do, you ask?

Of course we read through the book and most of the informational parts during a couple of readings. The older two giggly girls picked it up a few times and read it on their own, as well.

A is for the Ancient Ones…

We looked through some pictures and books from when their dad and I visited Chaco Canyon (Chaco  Culture National Historical Park) a couple of years ago and looked up the placement of Chaco, Bandalier, and Aztec on a map. We also talked about the Spanish word mesa.

B is for famous Smokey Bear…

Smokey Bear framed

We read The True Story of Smokey Bear and talked a bit about fire safety. The girls understand first hand the dangers and damage of a forest fire because their grandparents property was burned by the Little Bear Fire in 2012. The Little Bear fire was in the Lincoln National Forest and surrounding lands close to Capitan, NM, just like the fire that burned Smokey. We also learned the song and watched this video on YouTube.

C is for Carlsbad Caverns…

We revisited some of the things we remembered about visiting Carlsbad Caverns last summer. The girls really remembered the bats and a couple of the formations. We looked up some of the pictures we took and talked the patches they earned from the National Park Service for completing activities in a booklet about the caverns.

D for the storyteller Doll…

storyteller doll

The girls had never noticed our storyteller doll. I pulled it out and we talked about it, using the information from the book for the historical part. We talked about some of the storyteller dolls that have as many as 40 or more children climbing on them. It is interesting to see the combination of the oral tradition and the pottery tradition come together. Because this page also talks about the pottery tradition, we took a look at a piece of Native American pottery that we have sitting on the mantle and observed some of the details of the piece.

F is for…Favorite Food…

making biscochitos

We love New Mexican foods but the girls don’t like spicy hot yet. We do make enchiladas with chili powder and no tomatoes, like a true New Mexican would. For this project, though, we went right for the biscochito – the state cookie. (I didn’t know there was a state cookie until we read this book but we have loved biscochitos for a long time.)

E is for “Land of Enchantment”…


H is for Hot Air Balloons…

E sunset framed J hot air balloon framed L desert enchantment framed E hot air balloon framed

Hot air balloons are always fascinating. We love to watch them and hope to visit the Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque in the next couple of years. Until then, we’ll just have to draw them. The girls chose their media (combinations of crayons, markers, and colored pencils) and were asked to draw a hot air balloon or a NM sunset. We got a good mix of the two.

J will be for Jewelry…

jewelry and Kokopelli

The giggly girls had no idea how much jewely we had that was either New Mexican in origin or style. We pulled a bunch of it out and talked about what made it New Mexican. A lot of it was the silver and/or turquoise. This reminded them of the baby spoons that their New Mexican grandparents gave each of them. The youngest giggly girl was the one who remembered and she ran to pull them out. These have different combinations of silver, turquoise, and…

Let’s make K for Kokopelli…

Two of the baby spoons had Kokopelli on it. (Things just roll one right into another and I love how it happens. I hadn’t planned on that or even thought of it.)

…O’Keeffe begins with an O.

My name is Georgia framed

Georgia O’Keeffe is such an interesting artist. We love to read about her and look at her artwork. So, it is only natural that one of our activities had to do with her. We read My Name is Georgia by Jeanette Winter. We talked about the different paintings that O’Keefe did and what inspired her. We then related that to what inspires us. This was done prior to the artwork that the girls did so that they could use the same sort of inspiration that she had for their artwork.


We actually did even more (ristras, pueblo, and zia to name a few) but this will have to do for this long post. ABC books about places offer so much learning and activity. What is your favorite ABC book? Will you share it with us in the comments? We would love to read more ABC books. At Home.



Find more books from the Poppins Book Nook book club by visiting my co-hosts:
Enchanted Homeschooling Mom ~ 3 Dinosaurs ~ To the Moon and Back ~ Planet Smarty Pants ~ Farm Fresh Adventures ~ Growing in God’s Grace ~ Chestnut Grove Academy ~ Faith and Good Works ~ Learning and Growing the Piwi Way ~ The Usual Mayhem~ Preschool Powol Packets ~ Monsters Ed Homeschool Academy ~ Adventures in Mommydom ~ Teach Beside Me ~ Life with Moore Babies ~ Kathy’s Cluttered Mind ~ Are We There Yet? ~ Our Crafts N Things ~ Hopkins Homeschool ~ ABC Creative Learning ~ Joy Focused Learning ~ P is for Preschooler ~ Laugh and Learn ~ A Mommy’s Adventures ~ Inspiring 2 New Hampshire Children ~ World for Learning ~ The Kennedy Adventures ~ Ever After in the Woods ~ Golden Grasses ~ Our Simple Kinda Life ~ A glimpse of our life ~ Journey to Excellence ~ Happy Little Homemaker ~ Little Homeschool Blessings ~ Simplicity Breeds Happiness ~ Raventhreads ~ Water on the Floor ~ Learning Fundamentals ~ Tots and Me ~ As We Walk Along The Road ~ Stir the Wonder ~ For This Season ~ Where Imagination Grows ~ Lextin Academy ~ The Canadian Homeschooler ~ School Time Snippets ~ Peakle Pie ~ Mom’s Heart ~ A Moment in our World ~ Every Bed of Roses ~ Finchnwren ~ At Home Where Life Happens ~ Suncoast Momma ~ The Library Adventure ~ Embracing Destiny ~ Day by Day in our World ~ Our Homeschool Studio ~ A “Peace” of Mind ~ Thou Shall Not Whine ~ SAHM I am ~ eLeMeNo-P Kids ~ Simple Living Mama

Connect with Poppins Book Nook virtual book club on the web, on Facebook, and on Pinterest.

A Review – Spelling You See

Spelling You See

Spelling You See is challenging the way the world teaches spelling and, WOW, is it a great change. We were sent the Spelling You See: American Spirit (Level E), a new product by Demme Learning, to review and I am so pleased with what we have seen! Spelling You See Review

Spelling You See is brand new on the market, though the big sister to the spelling program, Math-U-See, has been around for years and is very popular. The program is based on the five developmental stages of spelling: preliterate, phonetic, skill development, word extension, and derivational constancy. Just like learning to walk, the student has to move through these levels sequentially, each one building on the previous. While spelling and reading develop hand-in-hand for many students, that is not always the case and sometimes the students need to focus on the development of spelling competency. This is not the same as memorizing lists. It is developmental. Spelling You see addresses this in a fantastic way.

To implement the program, you need the Student Workbooks, the Instructor’s Handbook, and colored pencils (included in the purchase of the Student Workbooks). A timer is helpful but optional. The Student Workbooks are $30. The Instructor’s Handbook is $14. To learn more about the program, you can visit their website and read the FAQs.

Spelling You See Review

About American Spirit

We were given Level E – American Spirit – to review. This has been the perfect fit for giggly girl #1, who is 9 and reads all the time. Her spelling development is pretty high but she still struggles with certain words, especially when she is writing creatively (not uncommon). We chose to have her work with this program so that she could strengthen her abilities. The placement information for this level states

“Start with American Spirit if the student is in fourth grade or above and is an established reader who is progressing in spelling. Do not place a student who is new to the program in a level higher than American Spirit.” (There are 2 levels beyond American Spirit in development.) – American Spirit Instructor’s Handbook, page 13

Notice that there are no ages attached to this placement. That is intentional by the company because, as stated earlier, this is a developmental process that goes at different speeds for different children. None of their levels have age information, though some grade level information may be referenced. They understand that the parent or instructor knows best which level a student will need based on his or her individual abilities.

working 1

There are three activities that make up the daily work in Spelling You See – chunking, copywork, and dictation. Each lesson is broken into five parts to be done one a day for five days. The student begins each lesson by reading a paragraph. In American Spirit, this paragraph is about people and events from American history. Then the student uses colored pencils (it comes packaged with colored pencils) or highlighters to chunk the story. What this means is the student is looking for particular letter patterns, many of which are irregular in English. They mark these in the paragraph that was read. Then, on days one through three, the student copies a portion of the paragraph and chunks the copywork. On days four and five, the instructor dictates the paragraph to the student, helping more on day four than on day five with things like capitalization, punctuations, and yes, even the spelling. On those days, the final activity for the student is to count the words spelled correctly.

Things We Really Like

Spelling You See has some big things going for it, in my opinion.

  • First of all, there is no memorization or tests. None of the stress of trying to learn something for a test, which seldom ends with a stronger memory of what you were memorizing.
  • Second, this is designed to be low stress. If you don’t finish all five parts of the lesson in a week, no biggie! Just start a new lesson the next week. The student can ask for help if she wants it or needs it. If something doesn’t look right, the student can erase it and try again or just mark it out and try again next to it.
  • Third, this takes less than 15 minutes a day. Part of the directions is to not spend more than 10 minutes on the copywork or dictation parts. Even if this is something the kiddo doesn’t love, it is over pretty quickly for them. Spelling You See Review

Things We Don’t Like

Nothing. Surprise, I know. The only thing I would change is that the Instructor’s Handbook had an answer or two missing. Seriously – that is all. I have not gotten my giggly girls into a spelling program before this because none of them were what we wanted. This one is. A real life application in which to learn spelling using chunking and visual and muscle memory. Cheerful, bright, and exciting.

working 3

E’s comment one day, just out of the blue, with great admiration in her voice was “You are learning to spell and write on this page (right hand page). You are practicing observing and getting a little history lesson on this page (left hand page).” She also said “I like the way that they do it.” That is high praise coming from that giggly girl. I think this one is a keeper!

After having such great success with our oldest giggly girl using this program and seeing what it was all about, we realized that it was also a good fit for our middle giggly girl. We had access to a second copy of the same level, so we started her on American Spirit about 3 weeks after her older sister. It is also working very good for her. We are actually seeing a lot of change in her development since she is two years younger and her spelling was not quite as consistent as her sister’s.

She also has some praise for the program. L, age 7, says “I think the way they do it is great. It helps me learn the chunks and practice my spelling. The stories they do are interesting and it is fun. And also, I get to learn history and spelling and reading at the same time.”

All around, it is a program we are pleased with. We will continue to use Spelling You See. At Home.


Want to connect with Spelling You See? Visit their website at www.SpellingYouSee.com. Follow them on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/SpellingYouSee or  follow them on Twitter https://twitter.com/spellingyousee.

Interesting in reading more about one of the other levels of Spelling You See or in reading a different opinion? Click on the Review Crew banner and use the button at the bottom of the post about Spelling You See to find almost 100 other reviewers to choose from.

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Snowflake Baby

snowflake collage with title

As part of our winter study, we have done some really fun activities. We are still working on those and we will publish a post on it later. However, part of the study of the snowflake included a creative writing activity. The girls made a paper snowflake “baby”, decorated it and gave it a face, then wrote about that snowflake’s life in some way.
E – Age 9 Snowflake Baby
Once upon a time, there was a mommy and daddy snowflake. When they melted they left behind a speck of ash. The ash grew water vapor around it. Then, it froze into a ice ball. Next, it grew hexagonal crystals. The crystals grew. Now it was a baby snowflake! She fell to earth and then was buried for 10 days because of the blizzard. Finally she melted, leaving only a speck of ash behind.

E – age 9 Snow Crystals
Once upon a time
fell straight in a line.
One, two, three
Him, her, me.

First some ash,
Not some trash.
Grow some vapor,
Better not wake her.

Very cold ice ball
Not a single wall.
Hexagon crystals,
Not a few pistols.

Crystals grow,
Let’s row.
Fall to earth,
And we can’t surf.



L – Age 7 – The Life of a Snow Crystal

A tiny speck of pollen, salt, or soil.
Forms while the humans use the oil
to light their lamps
a speck of water vapor comes from the camps.
From a lake, a pond,  a pool or a ocean,
The water vapor sticks to it like a clump of lotion.
Then a ball of ice forms on the spot,
then it forms into hexagonal crystals whatnot.
The crystal grows. Crystals join to make a big, big, big, big snowflake, flake!
And after it grows, and joins, and knows,
that it’s ready to come down, it snows!


J – age 4
J created twin snowflakes – a boy and a girl. She was pretty proud of them. J didn’t do any creative writing but she told a cute story to me about her snowflakes.

If you have done any creative writing this winter, please share with us what you did. We have found that writing happens very well after a craft associated with it. We’ll be sharing another one soon. In the meantime, we’ll be doing more creating. At Home.

Singing Through December, Part 2

Singing Through December Part 2 title page

While I didn’t get this one posted in a timely manner, we did do a lot more singing in December. We took some of our favorite carols and worked with them.

Silver Bells

This is one of my mother’s favorites and also one of mine. There is just nothing like hearing the beautiful bells ringing when the song is played. We pulled out the piano music and I played and sang for the girls. They don’t know this song well yet but we’ll definitely be working on that. Once again, we pulled out lots of bells. We had basic individual jingle bells, jingle bells on a stick, a giraffe shaped bell, bells from the Christmas tree, and a crystal bell that I got when I was about 5 years old. We talked about the sounds of all the bells – high and low, loud and quiet, metallic or clear rings, and so much more. We discussed the science of sound a bit and compared a lot about the different bells. And then we watched this video from YouTube:


The other thing we did with this song was to play Hide-and-seek Jingle Bell. Never heard of this game? Well, let me tell you – you are missing out! Imagine an Easter egg hunt with tiny little jingle bells. Yep – that’s it. We played this game several times, until someone couldn’t remember where they had hid most of the bells and we only had one left. (I just found the rest of them today while cleaning the house.)

Frosty The Snowman

What holiday singing is complete without this classic song? Well, singing this one is never a problem and we sing it often. We pulled out the story book that we have and read and sang. Then we pulled out the piano music and I played and the girls sang. We had the option with this song to talk about first and second endings. Always good to throw in some music education, right? Afterwards, I pulled out the marshmallows and the girls went through the pantry to find other foods that might work to make Frosty with. Edible Frosty? Of course. They made him and then we took pictures. Sad to say – none of the Frostys made it more than about 5 minutes after picture time.P1080633

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Let it Snow

This song was done in hopes of encouraging snow in NM for our visit. It didn’t work. We were pretty disappointed. But, the activity was interesting. We tried the Borax snowflakes that I had seen posted in Pinterest. It didn’t work. We actually tried it 3 different times. I am guessing we just didn’t use enough Borax, but even adding more didn’t help. Who knows. It was fun, just the same, and the girls have been enjoying playing with the crystals that did form and then fell off.

P1080648 P1080645

There were other songs sung. E really enjoyed a CD that we have of carols sung in Spanish. We played that one a lot this year. We also listened to the Von Trapp family singers Christmas album after we watched the Sound of Music (live on TV and the DVD). I just didn’t take pictures of anything else that we did.

Perhaps this will inspire you to sing your way through December next holiday season. Or, better yet, sing your way through any other time of year, too. Meanwhile, we’ll be singing. At Home.

Tradition, Tradition!

Tradition is something that is handed-down. Passed on. A pattern of behavior. Something that we do more than once.

Tradition is what keeps the holidays from being overly stressful for me. We have a number of traditions that we do every year during the holidays. It brings us closer together. It brings us joy. It helps us remember our shared past and look forward to our future. They are what makes us family. And they are FUN!


Every year we make cookies. We love cookies and, of course, Santa needs his cookies on Christmas Eve. I grew up with decorated sugar cookies and bizcochitos. In the past, the girls and I have always made and decorated sugar cookies. This year, we added the bizcochitos but left out the sugar cookies. E liked them so much, we actually made them twice! And L asked for chocolate chip cookies with both milk chocolate chips and white chocolate chips. That is what we did. And it was fun. (And we are still enjoying them after sticking some of them in the freezer before our trip.) They also decorated gingerbread men as part of the Christmas activities at the Mayborn Museum.

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Suckers are another long-standing tradition in my family. My grandmother began making suckers when my mom was a child and they have been in our family since then. We make a cinnamon sucker, with smarties for eyes and food coloring mouths and noses. It is a learning process for the kids (you know – safety is a biggie when working with 300 degree liquids) but we all look forward to it every year.

P1080629And, if you know any of us, you expect a cinnamon sucker at Christmas time. We make a few batches, wrap them up, and hand them out with smiles and a “Merry Christmas!”

Christmas Tree

Every year we put up a Christmas tree that is decorated with ornaments that are special to us in some way or another. My one wish is for a live tree but that is something that I will just have to enjoy when we visit my parents. With kiddos and a husband with asthma and allergies, a live tree is just too much to ask for a month or more inside. So artificial it is. (And I have learned to like it since it is MUCH cheaper to not have to buy a tree every year.)


P1080758We have ornaments that my husband made when he was a child.

P1080759We have ornaments that I made as a child.

P1080611We have ornaments that each of our children have made.

P1080753We have a bell from Bethlehem, given to us by an aunt and uncle.

P1080750P1080749We have ornaments from our grandparents first Christmas trees after they were married.

P1080756We have ornaments from our first Christmas tree after we were married.

P1080754We have ornaments that were bought just for us.

Each ornament on our tree has a story and as we decorate the tree each year, those stories get told and retold, bringing our family closer together and teaching them their history.

P1080755Every year we make a point of making a new ornament and most years, we make a whole bunch. This year, the girls made angels at the Mayborn Museum when they did Christmas in the Village (a turn of the century 1900s village). They created their own ornaments, just because they wanted to, out of paper.

P1080554We painted some ornaments as part of our Christmas carol study. These new ornaments share the growth of the girls from year to year as we look back at them and place them on the tree each year.

Christmas Carols

We love to sing. Christmas carols are constantly hear around our house during the holiday season. If you could only see my CD collection of holiday music… I have quit buying them unless I find something REALLY good because I have so many. We put them on and sing and dance and just enjoy the time together. Also, we have a number of songbooks and piano music, so I’ll sit down at the piano and play. The family will gather around, or dance around, or sit on the couch, and sing together. We choose favorites and just sing.

If we get the chance, we go caroling and share music with others. This year, we were able to join a group from our neighborhood to go caroling. We walked around our neighborhood singing to our neighbors. We knocked on a few doors and sang for them. We just walked the streets singing some, too. We carried some yummy hot chocolate and just had fun being together.



Luminarios are a New Mexico tradition. Something I grew up with. You’ve probably seen them, even if you don’t know the name. They are paper bags with a candle inside. We put out paper bags. We put some sand in the bottom to hold them. And then we place a flameless tea light inside. We turn them on a dusk on Christmas Eve and let them burn through the night.


My middle child loves this tradition. We missed it this year, so the picture is actually from last year, and I am sorry we did because she was really looking forward to it! There is always next year, though.


Books are a fixture in our home and so, Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without them playing a special role. Our books tradition takes on two personalities.

First, at the end of November, I pick 25 holiday books and wrap them. You can read more about this year’s books in this post.

Second, all the other books that are not wrapped up are placed in a basket for the girls to read. And read they do. You can see the titles of the books that ended up in this basket in this post.


Another fun thing we try to do every year is visit the Mayborn Museum for their display “All Aboard the Christmas Express.”


This is a display put together by local model train enthusiasts. They set up all sorts of model trains and run them all day long. For a month! We love to go see all the trains and how they have changed their set up for this year. And find the new parts. And the Christmas stuff (we can always count on at least one special Christmas train to be on the tracks). And it is just fun! We always try to have a little scavenger hunt for the girls to see what interesting little things they can find, like how many bears do you see or can you find the train car with the Mickey Mouse present on it. This year, we were blessed to be able to take a friend and her son with us to go see the trains. The girls really enjoyed taking the little boy around. It is just lots of fun!

There are more traditions in our family. Life is built around traditions. These are some that came to mind, are important to us, and help to define the holiday season. Because they bring joy and togetherness and history, they are not a chore for us. They do not add stress to the holiday. They are a pleasure and they bring us all closer together. At Home.

Creative Writing – Crystl Girls Cheer

This was written as a cheer by the oldest giggly girl a few weeks ago before we went on vacation. We had been talking about animals and they had been reading lots of books on animals. Just because. Truly. She decided that she wanted to create a cheer and wrote this one out, though she did have to pour over a few books to find animals for some of the letters.

Animals Around The World
Armadillos scamper. Bees buzz
And cats are covered in fuzz.
Dogs bark and elephants blow.
Late at night, fireflies glow.
Grizzlies growl. Hummingbirds hum
And insects pollenate the plum.
Jaguars slink and kangaroos hop.
Llamas climb up to the top.
Monkeys swing. Narwhales have a tusk.
Ostriches like to strut.
Pandas play. Queen Angel Fish are shy.
Right whales are trying to survive.
Skunks stink. Two-toes sloths hang from trees.
Sea urchins sway in the waters of the seas.
Vultures scavenge. Whales are big.
Xerxes blue butterflies perch on twigs.
Yaks are hairy. Zebras have stripes.
We learned about animals,
Many different types.

We are going to be studying swimming creatures from day 5 of creation this year for science. This is not the first book in the series and so we had to do a lesson from another book today to learn a bit about the naming and classifying of animals in the scientific community. Part of that reading had to do with classifying animals by vertebrate or invertebrate. In order to practice that, we used the animals from this cheer.


I wrote each animal out on a piece of paper and gave them to E. She separated them under the titles of vertebrate or invertebrate. We took a look at her “bar graph,” discussed what it showed, and it was L’s turn to create a graph. We compared L’s bar graph to what E’s looked like. They talked about some of the choices they had made that were different. We then went through them together and classified them correctly.


E remembered that she had read that there were many more invertebrates in the world than vertebrates but our graph did not represent that. Here was the perfect opportunity to talk about biases in research – our group had a bias to it and did not truly represent the variety of animals that exist in our world and therefore, our graph could not properly and truthfully represent the whole animal kingdom. I could not have set that discussion up any more perfectly if I had tried! They understood!

I think we are ready now to move on to the study of the swimming creatures next week. The girls are currently in love with whales, dolphins, and sharks, and so this study is highly anticipated. Please pop back in at any time to see what is going on here. At Home.

curriculum 2013

Well, we are off on a new year and a new adventure. Everyone is excited. I wish I could bottle the enthusiasm of the girls because I know we are going to need some of it in the days ahead. For now, it is bubbling!

I am linking up with the 4th Annual “Not” Back-to-School blog hop. After you have viewed our curriculum choices, use the link to go check out some other folks’ choices for their curriculum. Our curriculum to start the year is going to be fairly basic. We want to ease into all of the hopes and desires without overwhelming ourselves. So, here is what we have chosen.

J – 4 years old
J is excited about learning and exploring. She is wanting to read some so we will be working towards that, as well. We are going to be using ideas that I have gleaned from all over the internet for what we are going to call J’s Jewels. She is a girly-girl all the way so this works great for her. I’ll load it up each night with experiences for the next day that will focus on play, ABCs, numbers, sounds, and more.

I’ll be using a lot of resources from the following two blogs, in particular.

Other than play, we will be using this alphabet curriculum from This Reading Mama.

1+1+1=1 website is a place I visit often. She has tons of neat ideas that are right up our alley. There are lots of printable and good information on here.
L – 7 years old
E – 9 years old

I am not separating these two giggly girls in their curriculum. Not because they are on the same level but because we will be using the same resources for both of them, just different levels of the resources and differentiating to meet their needs.

P1070764Bible – We are starting the year off with ABC Bible verse memorization. We will probably work on two letters a week. Learning these will consist of singing a song of the verse and reference, writing the verse and reference (dry erase, paper, chalk, paint, etc), and drawing the verse. Any other way they want to do it will be acceptable as well. We will also read the verse directly from the Bible. Later in the year, after we are in the swing of things, we will begin working on the lessons from the Kids of Integrity website.

Math – We will be using Spectrum Math books and the TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills). We chose these books because they are based on working the math problems (worksheet style) rather than reading words and trying to decipher necessary and unnecessary information. The TEKS we are using as a scope and sequence to keep ourselves on track over the course of the year. We will be supplementing with Wrap-Ups. I love these because the girls really need to work on their basic fact recall and these are self-checking. We also have flash cards, Bingo-style games, and other games. We will be using a variety of internet sites for fun time practice and printing resources. Our focus at the beginning of the year will be to get the girls up to speed on their facts because that is something the current public school curriculum was truly missing.

P1070763Science – We have chosen to use Exploring Creation with Zoology 2: Swimming Creatures. There are several reasons for this choice. We really like the look of this program and it appears to be sound Bible-wise. Also, the girls are fascinated with the ocean and its inhabitants. The girls will be working through the text together and they each have a notebooking journal that they will be using. Their little sister will be joining us for a lot of this study but on a much lower.

P1070760History – The girls will be going through a variety of resources for this. We will be doing quite a few unit studies based on literature. I am looking forward to Laura Ingalls Wilder and the likes. We will be doing a US state study using workbooks, flashcards, and notebooking pages from Harrington Harmonies. We will also be using Kids’ Guide to American History, which has some Bible history in it and has a more Bible-based world view.

P1070759Language Arts/Writing/Spelling – These will all be combined in our home. We plan to have the girls doing a lot of writing. Partly because they like to write; partly because it is such a tremendous necessity in this world to need to be able to communicate through writing effectively. Their writing will be checked for spelling, punctuation, grammar, etc. and they will be working through the writing process, as well. (Lots of Pinterest ideas for this one.) Additionally, we were blessed to win some writing materials in a giveaway from Renee at Great Peace Academy and Write Shop. Another item that Renee included in our gift that she sent was Silly Starters Write-Abouts. I think the girls will really enjoy them. We will glean spelling lists from words they have problems with and we are looking at a Spelling Bee later in the year.

P1070761Additional Studies – Throughout the year, we will undertake other studies as the girls show interest. We are going to do fun units based on what delights their hearts, while making sure their basic foundations get stronger. Spanish will be one of those studies. We know they are interested so we bought a couple of books that we can work through as a family. We picked up Hide and Seek Spanish and Spanish – Elementary from Instructional Fair. I would like to find an art study for E, as she really likes to draw and has a talent for it that I would like to foster. (Any suggestions are appreciated!) Also, we have lots of unit studies, lapbooks, and unit studies that we have been gathering for when the desire to know more comes up.

Thank you for taking a look at what we have chosen as we begin our education. At Home.

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