Kindergarten Weeks 16/17/18 {FIAR} Papa Piccolo

The month of November was great!  We spent time following some interest-led studies and keeping up with our core subjects!


We’re up to the second assessment in Rightstart Math A (lesson 70).  The kids and I are still in love with this approach to math, and Elizabeth, thanks to the many fun games, has her sum of 10 math facts memorized.  We have also begun to learn about money.


Elizabeth has completed Level 2 of All About Reading!  She was so very excited and chose to go to dinner for steak and have a milkshake dessert for her accomplishment!  We have been SO pleased with this program.  Level 3 is on the shelf – I better get working on putting it all together!  Not sure if we’re going to start it now or wait until after the holidays to start back up.




Learning Through Literature: FIAR Papa Piccolo

We spent the first three weeks in November rowing Papa Piccolo.  The first week we stayed very close to the wonderful activities in the manual.  The second week we dove deeper into the history of Italy through a short study of the Roman Empire in Ancient Rome.  I had intended to move onto another unit study at that point but we read a book about Galileo which sparked interest in the solar system so we decided to take the week to follow that interest.



Social Studies – Adoption, Paternal Relationships, Italy, Ancient Rome

-We learned what adoption is, and different ways families can be formed

-We discussed the things we love about our dad

-Found Italy on our wall map, and read Look What Comes from Italy

-Visited a local Italian restaurant for some pizza and fresh made gelato

-We read about Ancient Rome in The Story of the World Ancients, You Wouldn’t Want to be a Roman Gladiator, and Usborne Beginners Romans.

 Did you know pretzels were invented in Italy by a Monk?  He gave them to children as rewards for memorizing their prayers.  The twists represent folded arms praying.wpid-20141107_122826.jpg







Language Arts 

-We completed an ‘All About Dad’ worksheet


-Vocabulary words: Glum, Sardine, Chime


Science – Cats, Eyes, Gravity, Solar System

My kids LOVE science, so we really spent some time covering several topics over the three weeks.

-We read Usborne Beginner Cats and made a Know, Want to Know, Learned chart


-Eyes: What is peripheral vision?  What are the parts of the eye?  We watched a BrainPOP video about our sight, and read from our Usborne First Encyclopedia of the Human Body. The kids decided to draw the parts of the eye for their notebook.



Galileo Study:


-We read a great book called I, Galileo and learned about the many contributions that Galileo made to science.  We discussed what it means to be a scientist.  He worked to make the microscope better, so we pulled our microscope out and looked at some slides.  The kids drew what they saw.





-Elizabeth took it upon herself to test out Galileo’s gravity experiments that he did at the Tower of Pisa.  We had watched a random YouTube video about them – I didn’t even think she was paying attention.  However, the next day she was able to recreate them using sheets of paper and a book!  I love seeing both kids get so excited and be motivated on their own to figure out how and why things work.


-We read MANY books about the solar system during this week.  I just checked out several from the library and we read about 3-4 a day that the kids picked off the shelf.  There is so much to learn about space but I focused on having the kids memorize the planets, the order, and the basics such as the Earth orbits the sun, the moon orbits the Earth, ect.  They now know all 8 planets (plus Pluto which is a ‘dwarf planet’).  We used the mnemonic My Very Excited Mother Just Served Us Noodles!


Followed the links from the Usborne Internet Linked Encyclopedia of Space 


Melissa and Doug Puzzle


Astronaut Ice Cream!

Playdoh Solar System


Cake Pop Planets





They made constellations from their snack one day!  This is Libby’s Big Dipper I found left out on the kitchen table when I was cleaning up 🙂


Trip to a planetarium




-We studied Michaelangelo’s The Creation of Adam art card from our Usborne Famous Paintings Cards Set.  I didn’t think the kids would be too into this activity, but they love it!  They love memorizing the facts about different artworks we are studying.

-Listened to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons

-Moon art project with flour and white paint.  After painting the moon with flour paint, add craters with bottle top.  Did you know Galileo discovered that the moon was not smooth, as previously thought?


We spent the last week of November studying Thanksgiving, and of course, rowing Cranberry Thanksgiving!  I hope to have that blog post up this week as we’re already well into holiday mode around here!  Hope you and yours are well 🙂

Kindergarten Weeks 14/15 Autumn/Halloween Units

A few weeks late, but better late than never!  We took a few weeks off of our Five in a Row at the end of October to spend some time enjoying the Autumn season.  The weather has been perfect to get out and explore, so that’s what we’ve been doing.

Autumn Unit

We spent a week covering the season of Fall while reading Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert and a few other great leaf-themed books.


Social Studies / Geography

In Leaf Man, the cardinal directions are mentioned as we follow the leaves on their journey.  We checked out our wall map and reviewed the directions using the mnemonic: Never Eat Soggy Waffles!  We also watched a short movie on BrainPOP Jr. about mapping and completing a treasure hunt worksheet using the cardinal directions.

Language Arts

Vocabulary words included deciduous, evergreen, photosynthesis, and chlorophyll.  We reviewed these words by drawing pictures on the white board.


Elizabeth spent two weeks memorizing a poem by Elsie S. Brady:


We of course learned about the season of Autumn.  Some things we did throughout the week:

-Watched a movie on BrainPOP Jr. about Fall

-Took a nature walk to find leaves

wpid-20141028_162725.jpg wpid-20141028_162943.jpg


-We completed leaf rubbings and labeled the different parts of a leaf, and also discussed symmetry




We made leaf prints with paint.


Ian made this adorable sun catcher in his preschool art class:


Halloween Unit


The week of Halloween we learned about pumpkins with one of our favorite books, Pumpkin Jack by Will Hubble, and also had some spooky fun.  Check out our previous pumpkin unit and Halloween unit from last year!

We started off our week with a trip to the pumpkin patch to pick out the perfect pumpkins.  Here we are on a hayride:


Language Arts:

We reviewed what an adjective is and brainstormed adjectives that described our pumpkins.


Libby then took a few of the adjectives and used them in a sentence, then illustrated it.  She circled the adjectives in her sentence.



We read about the life cycle of a pumpkin in Pumpkin Jack and completed a notebook page describing the life cycle.  We also completed a pumpkin observation sheet.

Will our pumpkins sink or float?



Libby and Ian estimated how many seeds they thought were in their pumpkins, then we carved them and counted the seeds by making groups of ten.



A tasty Halloween treat


Core Subjects:

All About Reading Level 2

Libby playing a game to reinforce hard vs. soft ‘c’ sounds


All About Spelling, Level 1

Writing dictated phrases


Rightstart Math Level A

Learning about halves with shapes


Next Up: We’re headed to Italy with Five in a Row unit Papa Piccolo!

Kindergarten Wks 11/12/13 {FIAR} How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World

Five in a Row Unit Study – How to Make an Applie Pie and See the World


In our family, we LOVE this book!  So week took 3 weeks and really enjoyed learning about our continents, states of matter, and where our food comes from.  Check our our previous row of How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World here.

We kicked off our row by visiting an apple orchard.  We were able to explore on our own and it only took a few minutes to have a full peck of apples!  The kids loved pulling the apples right off the trees and tasting the different varieties.


We made most of the apples into applesauce on our first day of this row, but saved 8 apples for our pie at the end.


Social Studies:

We really focused on memorizing the seven continents with this row.  Each day after reading the book we reviewed the continents in some way, whether that be on the wall map, on the globe, on our world map rug, or through the map in the book.  We sang this song to help us memorize, and the kids LOVE it!  Talk about being stuck in your head – which is the point, right?

-One day we took several toys and as I read the story, L and I acted it out with toy boats, planes, cars and animals. We even used a GI Joe parachute to drop down to Vermont for our apples.  We played the ‘Roll into Geography’ game created by 123 Homeschool 4 Me and they had so much fun.

-We watched the Continents and Oceans video on BrainPOP Jr.

-Libby labeled and colored a map showing the continents and oceans.


Language Arts:

-We acted out the action words in the story (churning, mixing, slicing, ect.)

-We had three vocabulary words this week: Ingredient, Plantation, and Locate.  I had purchased Elizabeth a student dictionary at a used book store a while back and today was our first day using it.  I wasn’t sure what she would think of looking words up (given that she knows about Google and all), but she actually really enjoyed it and has since gotten it out on her own to look up words.  We talked about alphabetical order, and I helped her to look at the top of the pages to find which page our word was on.  She then read the definition and I wrote it down for her.  Then she illustrated a picture that showed what the word means.



We made city scenes as per the suggestion from the FIAR manual, and also made some apple prints with washable paint.  Ian also made a hand-print apple tree craft in his co-op class.


States of Matter

We discussed the states of matter over the three weeks  as the little girl the story evaporates the salt from her sea water.  We watched as we turned water to ice, then melted the ice, boiled it to evaporate it (with added salt so we could see it left behind), and then made condensation to turn the gas back to water droplets.


Making butter: Turning a Liquid into a Solid (the girl in the story churned her cream into butter)


We watched a BrainPOP video about changing states of matter, and also read What is the World Made Of? All About Solids, Liquids and Gas.

We then made a chart showing the particle placement of a solid, a liquid and a gas.  We used cheerios as our particles.



-We reviewed the life cycle and the parts of an apple!


Where Does Our Food Come From?

We learned about cows and how they make milk by reading Milk, From Cow to Cartonand we also watched the Reading Rainbow episode Milk Makers.  We read books about chickens and eggs and watched Magic School Bus Cracks a Yolk.  

After learning about the different animals and what food they give us, we visited Oxen Hill Farm, which is actually a National Park dedicated to preserving and allowing people to experience farm life.  Elizabeth and Ian milked Minnie the cow, fed the chickens, collected eggs, fed the pigs and visited horses!  It was an AWESOME day and I would encourage anyone in the DC area to check it out!


There are so many activities that could go along with this book, we really enjoyed it!

A few other pictures from our weeks:

Libby is working on her addition problems using the balancing scale and abacus in RightStart Math Level A.  She enjoys the games and reader from All About Reading Level 2.  Snuggles from dad during our nighttime stories.


Ian is continuing to work through his letters with Handwriting Without Tears – he loves the wooden blocks and magnetic board.  We did some activiites from Before Five in a Row book Ask Mr. Bear as it goes along with our animal products topic.  He is also continuing to work through Core Knowledge series What Your Preschooler Needs to Know Activity Book.  Here he is sorting sequencing cards from the folktale we read that day, The Little Red Hen. The last picture is a page from his All About Reading Pre-Level workbook.  His coloring (something he isn’t too fond of) is really improving.


And we’re still enjoying our weekly co-op classes!  Read to go out the door one morning:


I can’t believe we’re over a quarter through the year!  Next up: Autumn Theme Unit

Kindergarten Week 5 – Learning about Babies!

As I completed my 36th week of pregnancy, we took a week off of Five in a Row to learn all about babies in preparation of the new little girl who will be joining our family soon.


We are continuing to enjoy RightStart Level A.  Both kids completed lessons 4-8 this week.


Elizabeth wrote the entire alphabet in uppercase letters this week, as well as worked on punctuation (periods and commas) in her Zaner-Bloser workbook.

Ian learned how to form letter F with HWT this week.

wpid-20140728_105508.jpg        wpid-20140728_105141.jpg


We completed All About Reading Level 2 Lesson 20 this week, and Elizabeth read ‘Skunk Hotel’ from her reader.  She also completed lessons 2-4 of All About Spelling Level 1.

Learning Through Literature: All About Babies!

With my due date approaching, I decided to set aside a week to learn about the development, as well as the care and keeping of baby.

The books we read:


Social Studies / Geography:

-We first put baby pictures of each child on the state in which they were born, and then I told them each their own ‘birth story’ (which they were very interested in) and looked at pictures from their birth and of them as babies.


-We measured out six pounds of rice and put it in a knee-high pantyhose to make a ‘rice baby’ that was the excat weight they were when they were born (luckily for me both of my kids weighed 6 pounds so we only needed to make one rice baby!).  We swaddled the baby and put a hat on its head and they each had a chance to hold the ‘baby’.

They really loved this and it was more realistic than a doll because they needed to support the baby’s head and have a tight grip!


-We talked about the different places women can choose to give birth and the different providers / support workers there are to help women through pregnancy and infancy.  I had made a ‘midwife kit’ for the kids to play with early in my pregnancy and pulled it out this week for the kids to explore and play with.  Inside it included a stethoscope, fetoscope, tape measurer, gauze, and a blood pressure cuff. They are able to come with me to each midwife appointment so they already knew just what to do!  They LOVED playing with this (especially Ian who claimed all week he was the midwife!).




-We practiced swaddling, diapering, wearing, and putting baby in the carseat.

wpid-20140728_122818.jpg      wpid-20140728_123227.jpg

wpid-20140728_124234.jpg       wpid-20140728_123911.jpg


-We learned about fetal development this week, the kids were fascinated to learn that we start from just a small ball of cells.  We put these fetal development cards in order:


-And learned how babies live in the uterus and are birthed through the pelvis:


-We discussed the difference between vaginal and cesarean births, and also the many ways in which families can be formed.

Notebook Pages:

wpid-img_1480.jpg      wpid-img_1481.jpg

We’re now ready to meet our sweet new baby girl! 🙂

Kindergarten Week 1 {FIAR} The Finest Horse in Town and 4th of July

Elizabeth started Kindergarten and Ian began his Preschool year this week!  We’re going to work through the summer and then take some time off when the baby comes.  We are simply continuing the curricula we began last year for Elizabeth’s PreK year as we all enjoy it.




Elizabeth – We began Singapore Primary Mathematics 1A, and completed the first unit.  It was review for Libby – counting to 10 and greater than/less than concepts.

Ian – Ian began Singapore Essentials Kindergarten A and is working on “same vs. different”.


Elizabeth – Libby completed the ‘R’ and ‘P’ pages in her Zaner-Bloser Handwriting workbook, as well as completing two different copywork pages that pertained to our FIAR unit this week.


Elizabeth continued to work on silent E words this week in All About Reading Level 2.


Ian began All About Reading Pre-Level.  Everyone was so happy to see Ziggy the Zebra!  He completed activity pages for letters A, B and C and is working on rhyming words.

Learning through Literature:  The Finest Horse in Town

Our Five in a Row unit this week was The Finest Horse in Town because it includes a Fourth of July celebration.  We were preparing to head back to MI to visit family and spend some time at the lake for the 4th.  We used this as a spring board to review why we celebrate this important holiday and what it means to be a ‘free nation’.

Social Studies

The story takes place in the state of Maine, so Libby placed the story disk on Maine.


We read several books this week about our nation, including The 4th of July Story and Red, White and Blue.


We made an American Flag Craft:


We also watched Fourth of July Schoolhouse Rock and US Symbols on BrainPOP Jr.   We practiced the Pledge of Allegiance and listened to the Star Spangled Banner.

And a special red, white and blue treat!



We learned about horses this week, of course!

We read several books about horses.  The Usborne Beginners are some of our favorite books, they seem to give tons of information just at the right maturity level.


Elizabeth presenting to Dad what she learned about a horse life-cycle:


At the end of the week, we visited the National Zoo because Daddy had time off from work.  We had a great time taking the Metro into the city and we even got to see some horses, among other animals, at the zoo.  We ended the day with a visit with good friends that we hadn’t been able to see in 3 years.  Got to love the friends you make in this military life!





Notebooking pages:





We were able to go to MI and spend the holiday at the lake.  We had a great time visiting with family and playing on the water!  The fireworks were beautiful and the memories made were perfect!  So glad to have made it there, even if it was for a short time.  The kids loved the lake and I know we’ll be spending more time there next summer.




PreK Weeks 34/35 – Down on the Farm

We spent the last few weeks learning about the farm through great books and local events, as well as continuing to finish up our daily studies for the year.




A day in the life!


Elizabeth worked through ordinal numbers, which was very easy as this was review.  We finished the entire section in a few days.


Elizabeth worked on the letters J and Q this week.



We completed lessons 5-7 and learned how to separate larger words in to syllables and labeled them ‘open’ or ‘closed’.  This way, we know whether to use the long or short sound of a vowel.  Elizabeth has been reading more for pleasure, and even volunteered to read Ian’s bedtime story one evening: One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.



Learning through Literature: Farms


We read many books about farms this week, and also watched several videos from the library about crops, tractors and dairy farms.  We conversationally rowed Ask Mr. Bear along with this unit, as it talks about many farm animals and their products.

A local park has an annual ‘Kids Day on the Farm’ event that was tons of fun (and free!).  We were able to meet farm animals, see a tractor parade, sing with Old MacDonald, go on a hayride, ‘pick’ fresh vegetables and collect fresh eggs!  We also went to the farm one day and picked up some fresh eggs and strawberries and made homemade strawberry shortcake.  Delicious!




Other fun things we’ve been up to:

My parents were able to make it into town for a quick visit and we decided to check out Calvert Marine Museum.  We met several animals, toured a lighthouse and took a boat ride around the bay!




Nature walks at Gilbert Run Park.


And of course we celebrated Father’s Day!  We played a round of putt-putt, walked on the pier, and went to dinner to celebrate.


And one more picture just to keep it real – how Ian entertains himself during school time 😉


We’re now finishing up our last week of PreK and will be heading straight into Kindergarten and Preschool next week!  With the baby on the way, we want to get a head start 🙂

PreK Weeks 28/29 {FIAR} The Tale of Peter Rabbit

We celebrated Easter and Earth Day over the past two weeks by rowing one of our favorite books: The Tale of Peter Rabbit!  We rowed Peter Rabbit in September, and pulling it out again was like seeing an old friend.  Even my three year old was excited to dive into the world of Peter Rabbit again.  I love that we are making such rich family memories.


Elizabeth is still working through Singapore Essentials Kindergarten B. Recently she has been working on numbers up to 40 and reviewing ‘tens’ and ‘ones’ groups.  She was able to fill in a worksheet by writing all her numbers 1-40.



Elizabeth has finished up her HWOT Kindergarten book, completing all letters, both capital and lowercase, and also numbers 1-10.  She’s started the Zaner-Bloser Kindergarten book which is similar.  So far, she has reviewed letters L, T and I.


This has been an area of great improvement!  It seems that all the sudden reading is easier and she is not having to sound out all the words – she is reading with much more fluency, and in the last two weeks I have seen her picking up books around the house and reading them to herself out loud.  We have also began to ‘tag’ read where I’ll read a page and she’ll read a page.

We are one lesson from completing Level 1 of All About Reading.  I can’t say enough good things about this program.  We reviewed syllables and learned the long vowel sounds this week.

Learning through Literature: The Tale of Peter Rabbit


We teamed up our Easter books with a Gardening focus to learn about Earth Day as well – and all the reasons plants are so important to us.


Social Studies / Geography:

We learned that the author, Beatrix Potter, lived in England.  We found England on the map and read this cute story about a tutle traveling in England.  We ended up have an unrelated movie night watching Peter Pan and I was surprised and delighted to hear them scream out “Look, Big Ben!!” as Wendy and Peter flew past the giant clock!

We also talked about rules.  Why did Peter Rabbits mother set the rule that the little bunnies were supposed to stay out of Mr. McGregor’s garden?  What are some of the rules in our house?  Why do we have them?

Language Arts:

We learned about onomatopoeia from Mr. McGregor’s scritch, scratch of his hoe.  We also discussed that this is an animal fantasy story, as bunnies don’t really talk and wear clothes.  Elizabeth made up her own animal fantasy story about a talking horse who loved to read books!


We learned about gardening and taking care of our Earth, of course!  We planted seeds for tomatoes and basil, which turned into making mud pies 🙂




We also checked out the seeds in our snacks.


We also watched several Magic School Bus episodes about plants, photosynthesis, and recycling.


We learned that Beatrix Potter loved nature and it influenced her illustrations.  We went outside and used crayons to draw some nature in our yard, and then painted the pictures with water colors.



We were able to attend a program at a local art center where we made bunny masks.



We were also so happy to have Nana and Papa come to visit for Easter and Papa’s Birthday.  We visited a local state park to look at the shore and discovered many interesting rocks and shells.





Celebrating Easter with an egg hunt.  Libby had her face painted and she requested a ‘pink panda with white heart spots’.  At this point, she only had the pink part on – as the egg hunt was starting and she didn’t want to miss it.  They also had games and crafts for the kids.



Easter Dress!  Thanks Grandma Rue!


Swinging with friends


The weather has been beautiful for the most part and we’ve been enjoying it!

As I prepare things for next year, we are putting FIAR to the side and beginning to read through A Child’s History of the World as a family, along with Usborne’s Children’s Encyclopedias.  It provides an overview of world history from prehistory through modern times.  We will be reading through it all year adding it in with Sonlight A History.  Elizabeth has been begging me to tell her about “a long, long time ago” and is very interested in History in general.  We have read three chapters so far (about prehistoric peoples) and she has really been enjoying it – as have Alex and I.

Product Details  Product Details      Product Details

PreK Weeks 18/19 Review

I don’t have any pictures or a gorgeous blog post to show for the last two weeks!  We all have been feeling under the weather, so there has been lots of books, snuggling, and Pajama days.  And I’m ok with that.  We’ve continued with the basics, and thrown in lots of good topical reading.


Libby continues with addition facts, using counting on and number line techniques.  She has one more page of addition practice before moving on to subtraction this week.


Libby has now made it through the entire capital alphabet.  Next week she will begin working on lowercase letters.


Lots of practice with All About Reading.  We are on lesson number 30, and Libby is doing so well reading the simple stories.  An example of one of the sentences on her practice sheet today:  “This pop has no fizz,” said Jim.

Learning through Literature: Mr. Popper’s Penguins

We have been reading Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater over the last two weeks.  We also learned about Antarctica, and read several books about penguins.  

Other things we did:

  • Wrote stories about our day with a penguin and illustrated them.  Libby put her penguin in the bathtub and Ian went swimming with his.
  • Pretended we were penguins by waddling around the house.
  • Used foam balls to be our eggs and walked around with the eggs on our feet like the emperor penguins do.
  • Located Antarctica on the map.
  • Watched BrainPOP movies about penguins and the South Pole.

It’s been low-key and we’re all hoping for warmer days in the near future!



PreK Week 17 Review


Libby continues basic addition practice.



We worked on letter S which is a bit tricky!


We practiced words for fluency on the whiteboard this week.  I wrote them on there and as she read them she erased them.  She did really well with this and her confidence is reading has really improved.  I’m very proud of her.


Learning through Literature:  Fritz and the Beautiful Horses

We read Fritz and the Beautiful Horses by Jan Brett this week, and used the unit study from

Libby asked specifically to learn about horses this week, so that’s just what we did.  We went to the library and checked out several books about horses which she really enjoyed.

‘H’ is for Horse craft


Ian’s Horse


We discussed what it meant to be beautiful, and although Fritz was not beautiful on the outside – he was on the inside and that is what matters.   The story took place in a walled city in Europe, so we reviewed where Europe is.   Ian and Libby also used their blocks to build a walled city.  We talked about why people may have lived in walled cities.



In the story, it was the law that only the beautiful horses were able to come into the walled city.  We took some time to talk about what a law is, and then watched a Schoolhouse Rock video of how a bill becomes a law.

Finally, they put together a horse puzzle that we checked out from the library.


We are still settling in, and taking it easy, but we are slowly getting back into the grove!

PreK Week 16 Review

We have slowly been working toward getting back to a regular routine, but still definitely going part time these days.  It is cold and snowy here, and sometimes we just want to snuggle up and watch movies.  We’re adjusting!


We are continuing beginning addition and learning vertical and horizontal addition problems adding up to 10.


This week we worked through letters O and Q.


Libby is learning to blend beginning sounds, she is reading words such as theft, grip, plot, and scruff.   Ian reviewed his letter sounds.



Learning through Literature: The Mitten


We read two variations of the folktale, The Mitten.  We talked lots about winter weather, and where the animals go and the adaptations they make to stay warm in the cold weather.

We used our toys to recreate  our own version of the story for ourselves.




We made hot chocolate because it was so cold outside.  We used the recipe on the back of the book.  It was so good!