Friday, July 25, 2014

Back To {Home}school 2014

To be quite honest, I’m not sure I am ready for this quite yet.  We’re thoroughly enjoying our summer vacation – lazy days, playdates, trips to the park, visits with friends, running through the sprinkler with neighbor kids.  You know, all the things that make summer vacation so special.

2014-06-06 19.59.31

Fact is, though, that it’s going to be August in just a few days.  It’s time to start thinking about a schedule, figuring out how we want our days to flow, and getting back into a school year routine.  I’d like to fit in 10 – 12 school days in August, so I am hoping to begin 3-4 days per week on August 4th.  (The August days give us a little more ‘wiggle room’ for vacation days and sick days during the year.)

I really hope to start each day with a PRAISE time together!  I want to find YouTube videos for Alex’s weekly memory verse song, the My Father’s World song, a song to go with the current MFW K unit, and a random fun praise song that the kids know.  Then we can pull out the musical instruments and make a joyful noise together!  Whether I can keep up with making YouTube playlists on a regular basis remains to be seen, but I love the idea of starting each day that way!

As for our curriculum choices, feel free to read on if you’re interested:


Max, Age 5
(almost…he’ll be 5 in August)


This year, we’ll begin My Father’s World Kindergarten with Max.  I wasn’t sure until recently if he was ready, but he has shown signs of readiness in the past two months.  He’s turning 5 in August, he knows his uppercase and lowercase letters, and he knows many of his letter sounds.  He enjoys sitting down to do a few papers, and he loves to snuggle and listen to stories.  MFW K is full of quality children’s literature, science and nature connections, and hands-on activities.  I *think* it’s going to go well, but I’m definitely willing to take it at HIS speed.  We shall see!

Max is a math whiz.  We have a one year free subscription to Mathletics because we’re doing a review of their site, so we will continue that with him as well.  He loves to work on Mathletics on both the laptop and my Kindle, and he can do it independently since the program will read everything for him!  That means I can work with Alex while Max is working on math practice!  (Wahoo!  I’m all for that!)  MFW K is enough, and I don’t suggest adding a bunch of extras to an already complete program, but Max loves math!


Jensyn, Age 3.5

Jensyn will have the option to tag along with Max for MFW K.  She can listen to the stories, do the crafts and projects, sing the songs, hear the Bible words, etc.  I hope she will learn her uppercase letters – that’s my only real skill-based goal for her this year.  If she picks up other skills or knowledge, great!  She can already count to 20 and sing her ABCs, and she knows her shapes and colors.

I did not purchase student worksheets for her; if she wants her own ‘schoolwork’, I will print preschool pages for her to complete or work through a Rod & Staff Preschool workbook with her.  (CLICK HERE to view some of the printable pages that I’ve made to go along with MFW K.  Also, consider joining the MFW K Facebook group and check out the PHOTO ALBUMS for more download links to printables I’ve made for preschool tag-alongs.)


Alex, Age 6
(turning 7 in December)

Alex will spend August and September completing Little Hearts For His Glory.  It’s based on age, rather than grade, and it’s designed for ages 5 - 7.  We will begin his new program in October.  I think that this will work out well for us, as we won’t be adapting to a new program at the same time that we’re getting started with a new program for Max.  Starting two new programs at the same time might just put me over the edge!  This way, we’ll be able to ease into things without stress.


I’ve really come to love the simple, yet complete, teaching and learning style of Heart Of Dakota.  Because of this, we’ll be moving on to Heart of Dakota’s “Beyond Little Hearts For His Glory” for Alex in September.

This Christ-centered program gives a “chronological overview of early American history from 1565 – 1860's” while emphasizing “God's plan throughout history”.  (words borrowed from HOD’s website)  I am REALLY excited about the way that Beyond brings early American history to life!

Additionally, HOD covers science, Bible, copywork, spelling, grammar, literature, poetry, narration skills, math, art, and more.  It’s a completely comprehensive curriculum, but it also gives you the freedom to make a few choices of your own if desired.

We’re continuing with Singapore Math, moving into book 1A.  This is HOD’s math recommendation.  Honestly, it’s a little too easy for Alex, but book 1B advances quickly.  I’d rather take it slowly so that he can ease into book 1B when he’s ready, rather than be frustrated by moving along too quickly.  (I tentatively plan to move Alex from Singapore over to Teaching Textbooks after he’s completed Singapore 1A & 1B, and the Teaching Textbooks rep at our homeschool convention said that Singapore 1A/B prepares students to move directly into Teaching Textbooks 3.)

We’re going to continue with All About Reading (phonics program) Level 2 until we’ve completed it.  Once we’ve completed AAR 2, I want to begin All About Spelling Level 1*.  I really do love everything we’ve used from All About Learning Press, so I look forward to giving this a try!


We’re also adding in Draw Write Now Book 3, which has drawing lessons and copywork to go along with Native Americans and Pilgrims.  Alex has enjoyed our Draw Write Now farm book, so I thought he’d enjoy an occasional drawing lesson to match his school work as we learn about early America.

(*Note: Some of you may remember that Alex has been using Spelling You See Level A.  I’ve enjoyed the spelling and handwriting practice, and I can only say good things about the program.  Here’s our review, and I still stand behind every word.  We could continue with Level B of Spelling You See (which I seriously considered, as we already own a PDF version that we received with our review), or we could use the spelling that’s included in the HOD Beyond guide.  It’s just that I’m such a HUGE fan of AAR, and I’m SOOO curious about the multi-sensory spelling method of AAS that I *have* to give it a try!)

**Disclosure: This post does contain some Amazon affiliate links.  If you make a purchase through these links, a small percentage of your purchase will be credited to my Amazon account.  Thanks for supporting Our Little Monkeys!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Double Rainbow!

Last week, as we drove home from swimming lessons one evening, we were driving into the sunshine.  To the north of us and behind us (east), we saw ugly tannish-gray storm clouds. 

About halfway home, it started to rain lightly.  We were still driving directly into the sunshine, so I told the kids that they would have to look for a rainbow as soon as we turned the corner.  Max strained in his car seat to turn, and he caught a glimpse of the rainbow.  Alex & Jensyn weren’t able to turn enough in their buckles, and they were anxiously waiting to see.

As soon as we turned on to our street, I stopped the car for a few minutes so the kids could admire the rainbow.  Jensyn excitedly shrieked, “It’s my VEWY FIRST WAINBOW!!!!  It’s sooooo boo-tee-full!!!”  (I’m sure she’s seen them before, but she doesn’t recall it!)


Once they had looked for a few minutes, they wanted to hurry home and tell Daddy.  We all stood in the driveway (while the rain sprinkled down on us…) and watched as a second rainbow appeared.  It’s not very bright in the pictures, but it was very pretty!


Jensyn posing with her ‘vewy first wainbow’…


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Honey, We Shrunk The Kids!

I’ve been telling Alex for a long time that he’s getting big, and I needed to find a way to shrink him.  We finally figured it out.  See how much he has shrunk when compared to his little brother?  Hee hee!

Truth is, of course,  that Daddy dug a hole.  He decided that his this year’s project would be to put in a basketball hoop so we could have fun shooting baskets outside.  Alex really enjoyed Upward Basketball this winter, so we figured it could be fun to play at home as well. 

The kids had a good time playing in the hole before it was filled with a post and cement.


Even Jensyn enjoyed some time in the hole…just look at her happy giggles!


Keith & his dad got the pole upright on Saturday, so we’ve had a few days to try it out.  It’s still a little high for the boys, but it is about the same height as Alex used for kindergarten Upward.  I guess that means it’s a good place for both boys to practice…and for me to practice, too!  Keith and I left the kids in the house for ten minutes on Saturday night while he & I played…I’m sure glad no neighbors were around to watch because I definitely, DEFINITELY need some practice, ha ha!

2014-07-16 13.44.35
Hopefully this will encourage our kiddos to get outside and have fun!  We look forward to making good use of this hoop during the summer & fall!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Review: Go Science DVDs

I’ve mentioned before that I feel our homeschool curriculum is a little weak in the area of science, and I always appreciate the opportunity to try new science programs with my children.  Over the past month, my boys and I have enjoyed watching the Go Science DVDs (Series 2) from Library and Educational Services. 

These videos, which are designed to point children to their Creator God,  are recommended for ages 4 – 12.   Ben Roy, the teacher in these video segments, is an energetic man who really captured the attention of my 4 and 6 year old sons.  The videos are filmed with a large group of children, with Ben Roy involving the children through questions and participation in the experiments.

We received Volumes 4 and 5, as pictured below.  Volume 4 covers motion, friction, electricity, and light.  Volume 5 covers states of matter and water.   The videos are available for $8.97 each from Library and Educational Services.


You and your children can learn everything you need to know simply by watching the videos, but we also enjoyed trying many of the experiments at home.  For example, we really enjoyed trying the cornstarch and water lesson (Volume Five) that taught about non-Newtonian fluids and also shared the story of Peter walking on the water to Jesus. We tried it out at home, and the boys had a BLAST getting all gooey!

We also had fun watching as they made and sampled butter.  (Did you know butter is mentioned in the Bible?)  We’ve done this in the past, so we didn’t do it now, but it’s very fun to make and sample homemade butter!

I heard, “I wanna try this, Mama!” and “Mama, can we do that?” quite a few times as we watched the Go Science DVDs.  We have quite a few experiments to try over the coming weeks!  My kids are particularly excited to watch water ‘tightrope’ down a string!  (They would LOVE to try the video of the cornstarch oobleck in a stereo speaker, but Mama had to draw the line at that one!)

Each video runs approximately 1 hour, with over ten experiments per video.  Each experiment segment lasts from 3 – 10 minutes.  They are worded in a way that children can easily understand, and the children in the video help to keep my own children attentive to the videos.  (In fact, my children will even sit on the couch and answer Mr. Roy’s questions for the children in the audience!)

I love that Ben Roy is full of energy, and my children truly enjoyed watching these videos.  The videos do a great job of covering the topics, teaching children the basics, and sharing a brief message about God.  Mr. Roy explains just enough of the scientific principles to teach young children, but not so much that a young child is overwhelmed.

I really, REALLY wish that the videos came with a small booklet listing the experiments, materials needed, and general instructions for each project.  It would make it much easier to know what I should have ready to go when my children watch these videos.

Overall, though, I have no complaints with these fun videos.  My children are willing to watch the videos more than once, and they have a list of experiments that they’d like to try at home.  These are a great science resource to add to any homeschool curriculum!  What I most appreciated was that they are very well done science videos that INCLUDE GOD!

Library and Educational Services offers sample videos on their website, if you’d like to watch a segment.  Simply click on THIS LINK and scroll down to watch two video clips.  

(Pssst…if you’ve never heard of Library and Educational Services, you may want to check it out!  They offer their wholesale prices to homeschool families, as well a libraries, schools, and more.  The prices are very reasonable, and they have a great selection!)

To read what other reviews thought about the Go Science DVDs, click on the link below.

Click to read Crew Reviews

Crew Disclaimer

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Photo Dump

I think I shared this picture in a school update post, but I just love it, so here it is again…
Alex is reading stories to Jensyn.  He is SOOO sweet with her, and it MELTS my heart!
2014-05-17 17.39.05
After a dinner at our church, there were LOTS of pretzel sticks left over.  The lady who purchased them sent us home with a full container of pretzel sticks, and it made Alex so happy!  He didn’t want them to break on the way home, so he buckled them into the car.
We later used these pretzel sticks to make chocolate & sprinkle covered pretzels.  Yum!
2014-05-18 12.54.50
Quite often, Keith heads up to church early for Praise Team practice, so I am getting all three kids ready and out the door on my own.  I asked the kids to get their shoes on and get in the car while I finished getting myself ready.  Alex buckled Jensyn’s carseat for me, and I never looked at her feet.  When we got out of the car at church, I realized that Jensyn had put RAIN BOOTS on her feet with her pretty dress.  Whoops!
2014-05-18 13.01.18
Playing in the sandbox & on the new tree swing at Grandma & Papa’s house…
2014-05-23 10.13.40
2014-05-23 10.19.292014-05-23 10.23.432014-05-23 10.24.36
FILTHY, dirty, grass-clipping-covered feet
after running through the sprinklers with the neighbor kids
2014-06-01 16.44.002014-06-01 16.44.47
Jensyn’s first Uno game – she won!
(We play open hand games, and all three kids can play now!)
2014-06-08 19.18.512014-06-08 19.18.562014-06-08 19.22.572014-06-08 19.23.10
Max started swimming lessons, and he LOVES it!  Miss Nancy had to insist that he get out of the pool after his first two lessons, as Max wanted to keep going!  (Alex is continuing with Level 3, and Max is doing Level 1.)
2014-06-10 18.03.002014-06-10 18.03.19
We had a fun playdate at the park with a family from our homeschool co-op. 
We spent about 2.5 hours enjoying the beautiful day with friends!
2014-06-12 09.07.34
Our local fire station had its annual open house.
Jensyn was excited that they had PINK fire hats this year!
2014-06-14 12.27.09
We came a little later this year, so we were there when things were wrapping up for the day.
Sadly, that meant that the hotdogs were almost gone and they were out of buns. 
So we had lukewarm, bun-less hotdogs for lunch.

We got to see the Life Flight helicopter taking off…and hear and feel it, too.
We all got faces full of dirt.  It was quite the multi-sensory experience, ha! Open-mouthed smile

Jensyn didn’t care for the noise.  First, she covered her ears. 
When the wind picked up, she hid behind me.
2014-06-14 12.53.462014-06-14 12.54.48

After flying away, the helicopter returned for a quick fly-by.
(I blurred out the name of the first station.)2014-06-14 12.55.07
The kids had fun checking out all of the fire trucks and the ambulance.

2014-06-14 12.57.102014-06-14 12.57.512014-06-14 12.59.23
The kids also received Bicycle Safety bags filled with pens, notepads, coloring pages, and lights and colored spoke covers to help make their bikes more visible to drivers.  The boys were excited to decorate their bikes when we got home.
The boys’ t-ball pictures…Alex on the left & Max on the right

Alex’s artwork
In May, we had my sweet great nephew spend the night with us.  What a joy it was to have a baby in the house again!  The kids had fun playing with baby Lance & feeding him his lunch.  I enjoyed a middle-of-the-night snuggle while he had his bottle…it was so wonderful to just enjoy cuddling him in the quiet of the house!

Jensyn said, “Mama, I’m FOODING him!”
The boys each had to give it a try, too.
Jensyn “read” stories to baby Lance.
Jensyn’s belated birthday gift from Aunt Diane – a Disney doll with several princess dresses, tiaras, and shoes.  This belonged to my niece Kathryn, who has since outgrown it.  Jensyn LOVES this pretty doll!

I think we’re caught up on a whole lot of random pictures now! Smile