Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Wild Mulberries

We have a beautiful tree line along the farm ditch behind our house.  I absolutely love looking out our back windows during the summer, as it feels like we live in our own little wilderness.  It’s so pretty!

The kids have been playing along the ditch line (it’s not easy to get to the ditch, so it’s pretty safe), and they discovered wild berry bushes.  They’ve been thoroughly enjoying helping themselves to fresh snacks when they play outside!


I was a little nervous about them eating the berries at first, but Keith assured me that he grew up eating these wild berries.  Now, our children get the same joy of eating wild mulberries right in their own backyard.


I cannot say how thankful I am for where we live – it’s a wonderful, quiet neighborhood with wonderful neighbors, yet the kids still have plenty of room to explore and have fun outside!

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.

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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!

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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!