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Math Lesson in the Life: Abeka Numbers Skills K5 Workbook

Math Lesson in the Life: Abeka Numbers Skills K5 Workbook

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Math Lesson in the Life: Abeka Numbers Skills K5 Workbook

Written by Amber Marie | June 12, 2018

Math can be a tricky subject to teach a child and can be even harder if you don’t know where to start. As a former teacher, I had a wealth of knowledge with teaching math, but most of it was geared toward upper elementary. However, one thing I learned about early math skills was that BASIC NUMBER SENSE IS IMPORTANT. I cannot tell you how many third, fourth, or even sixth grade students I worked with in my years of teaching that had a weak understanding of basic number sense. Number sense, as defined by National Council of Teachers, is the understanding of five important components: number meaning, number relationships, number magnitude, operations involving numbers and referents for numbers and quantities. Through the experiences I had with different students, I learned the importance of a solid foundation in number sense concepts.

With my son technically being “kindergarten” age this year, I wanted to make sure I was building that strong foundation right from the start. In the beginning, I was piecing together my own curriculum here and there and it worked for a while, but I felt I needed more guidance. After talking with my mother-in-law (see her interview here), I learned more about Abeka, specifically the Numbers Skills K5 workbook. After flipping through her copy, I knew that I could make it work with my son and get more direction with my math focus for the year. So let’s take a look at a Math Lesson in the Life using the Abeka Number Skills K5 workbook.

What I Use

1. Workbook

As I mentioned, I am using the Abeka Number Skills K5 workbook. One thing to note is that this is just a student workbook and not a teacher’s manual. Abeka suggests purchasing the teacher manual with the workbook, however, I have opted to create my own lessons to pair with the pages found in the book. I’ll go into more detail on this later in the post.

According to Abeka, the Number Skills K5 workbook “provide practice and evaluation of many concepts, including numbers concepts from 1 through 100, numbers formation, number words, simple combinations, money, and telling time”. These concepts are reviewed in multi-faceted ways and expose the child to different approaches of learning the same concept. For example, with the skill of counting, a child may encounter a section where they must circle the correct number of objects based on a given number. The student will also see counting activities where they will be given a group of objects to count and must select the correct number. These methods, along with others, offer more experience with a specific math skill and prepares the child for real-world situations.

Another aspect I like about the workbook is how colorful and simple it is. There are only a few concepts being reviewed per page and the lessons are not overwhelming. There are no lesson numbers in the workbook (except for the ones found in the bottom corner, which correspond with the teacher manual) so I have numbered each page with a number. A lesson for my son consists of the front and back of a page. I have found the concepts reviewed on these pages are similar, which makes planning my mini-lessons easier. Which leads me to the next thing I use when teaching my son a math lesson: manipulatives.

2. Manipulatives

Manipulatives are physical objects that engage students in hands-on learning, specifically in math. If you’ve read my previous posts, you know I am a huge advocate for hands-on learning. I find it much easier to teach my son a math  concept when he is able to physically move or “manipulate” objects to make his learning more concrete. I was lucky enough to acquire a lot of my manipulatives from fellow homeschool moms whose children have outgrown the tools, however, I have listed my favorites below and provided links to the products if you wish to purchase them.

Counting Bears – I use these so often I really should buy more. These are great for teaching about patterns, counting, sorting, and more. Companies have come out with other animals, but for some reason I love the counting bears the best.

Number Tiles – These are actually part of a set that comes with a 3D hundreds chart and transparent color tiles. Check out my video for more on how I use these in a lesson.

Ten Frame Cards – I just made these using index cards and a ruler to draw 10 boxes. Ten frames are a great way to build your child’s understanding of place value and numbers that add up to ten in addition to numbers larger than ten.

The tools above are a few of my favorites, however I am always collected manipulatives as I come across new concepts I’m introducing to my son. Be sure to check out the other manipulatives I like to use below.

So how do I go about using these manipulatives in conjunction with the workbook? Let’s take a look at this very topic next.

How I Plan

When I plan a mini-lesson to pair with a lesson within the workbook, I first take a look at the concepts being taught on the page. Is it counting? Patterns? Money? Shapes? Whatever it is, I think about the best manipulatives and techniques I can use to teach the skill to my son. I take a look at my manipulatives I have available and brainstorm a few ways to introduce the concept to my son. I will write down what I feel will be the best method and collect the materials ahead of time so I’m prepared for the lesson when we get to it.

I realize that it can be hard to come up with these teaching techniques without some guidance. I have a bit of an advantage with my former teaching experience, so it is a bit easier for me to think this way. However, I don’t want you to feel lost or left in the dark, so check out my freebie at the bottom of this post. It includes the steps I take to plan a lesson, along with different techniques I use to teach a certain math concept and what I like to use to help create a hands-on experience for my son. But before downloading the freebie, check out how a typical lesson pans out by reading below.

A Typical Lesson

Our math lessons always begin with reviewing the numbers we are working on learning through repetition. Right now my son is practicing counting up to fifteen. He has mastered numbers one through ten, but still needs practice with numbers eleven to fifteen. Once I feel he has mastered those, we will add the next five numbers, and repeat this until we reach one hundred.

After reviewing our numbers, we move into the mini-lesson that gives my son a hands-on approach to the concepts we’ll be reviewing in the workbook.

One thing to note, I don’t normally include number formation in my mini-lesson and instead I address it when we come to it in the workbook. The mini-lesson lasts about five to eight minutes depending on the difficulty of the concept(s) being reviewed. I use a number of manipulatives and methods when teaching my son a new skill. I make sure to present the concept in more than one way to give him exposure to the different modes he may see the topic in the real-world.

After the mini-lesson we move into the workbook. One advantage of beginning with the mini-lesson is that my son already has a good grasp of what is concept is being reviewed in the workbook. This allows for him to complete the majority of it on his own with little instruction from me. With the exception of number formation practice, I’ll read the instructions for the section he is working on and he will complete the rest without my help. If a number formation section is present, we’ll take a minute to talk about how to form the number and practice on a whiteboard before hitting the practice in the book. Overall a lesson from start to finish takes about ten to fifteen minutes.

Math can be a tricky concept to teach, especially in those early elementary years. However, with a little guidance from a workbook, such as the Abeka Numbers Skills K5 workbook, along with simple, short mini-lessons, anyone can teach their child the important foundations of number sense.

Need more guidance with how to plan a mini-lesson? Download my planning guide by filling in the form below. If you are already a member, this freebie can be found in the Member’s Library. Make sure to use the most recent password from this week’s newsletter to login.

Download the Math Mini-lesson Planning Guide Now!

I share tips on how to teach certain math concepts and list a number of math manipulatives I use in my homeschool.

Amber Marie

Welcome to my homeschooling blog. I’m a former educator turned homeschool mom. Homeschooling is a relatively new adventure for our family. Click my picture to learn more about my story and why I homeschool my family.

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What curriculum do you use with your children? If you use Abeka, how do you use it to teach your children math? Share in the comments below. 

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Reading Lesson in the Life: The Good and the Beautiful

Reading Lesson in the Life: The Good and the Beautiful

Don't Miss Out!

Sign-up to recieve updates on new posts along with special perks for Members. You will recieve exclusive access to the Member's Library where you will find a variety of freebies for every subject. Also, Members get a special monthly discount code for products in my store. Don't wait! Sign up today!

Reading Lesson in the Life: The Good and the Beautiful

Written by Amber Marie | May 29, 2018

If you have chosen to homeschool your children, and they are under the age of six, I’m sure you may have experienced the same anxiety I have on a particular issue. How do I teach my child to read? This question popped into my brain multiple times as I wrestled with the decision to start homeschooling. Even though I am a former elementary school teacher, this concept was foreign to me. I taught upper elementary students and never really had to teach a child to read from the beginning. Needless to say it was making me a bit fearful.

However, that fear subsided when I searched the web and found all the wonderful curriculums out there for homeschoolers. Suddenly, I wasn’t afraid anymore. I did a lot of research and even tried a curriculum out before using the curriculum I’m using now. Enter the Good and the Beautiful by Jenny Phillips. I found this curriculum while browsing my Facebook feed one day. So many homeschoolers where talking about it, which peaked my interest. I checked out the website and was impressed. The sample page downloads were loaded with amazing lessons and I was loving the price.

Before I jumped in, I ventured on to YouTube. I love watching videos of curriculum walk-throughs and hearing how homeschoolers use a specific curriculum. I found two homeschoolers on YouTube that sealed the deal for me. Monica over at Monson Schoolhouse was the first mom I watched and I loved her lesson walk-through videos she did with each of her children. It gave me a glimpse into what I could expect to do with my son. Then I found Ashlee over at Grace and Grit and enjoyed watching her curriculum flip-throughs along with her day in the life videos. Both of these women played an important role in my decision to purchase and use this curriculum for teaching reading to my son. Be sure to check out their channels on YouTube by clicking their names above.

After testing my son using the placement tests on the Good and the Beautiful website, I found that my son would do best with the Level K Primer. One thing to note about the curriculum is the levels do not coincide with grade levels. The Level K is a little more difficult than kindergarten and, in my professional opinion, is closer to a first grade level if comparing with a public school reading program. I knew my son would struggle with the Level K so I went for the Level K Primer. This level is appropriate for children who know their letter names and some of their letter sounds (which my son did). After receiving it in the mail and looking through the curriculum further, I knew I had made the right decision. I couldn’t wait to start, but before I did, I accumulated a few other things to help along the way. Read on to find out more about how I use the good and the beautiful, along with magnet letters and homemade phonics cards, to teach my son to read.

The Good and the Beautiful:

Level K Primer Curriculum

The Good and the Beautiful curriculum was created by Jenny Phillips, a former Christian songwriter and music producer. When her children began attending school, she changed her focus from music toward education. She started homeschooling her children and couldn’t find a language arts curriculum that had everything she wanted. So she, along with many other experts in different educational topics, created the curriculum known as “The Good and the Beautiful”. Learn more about why the curriculum was created on Jenny’s website.

The Language Arts curriculum is split into levels ranging from Pre-K to Level 7, Level 8, and High School editions. As I mentioned above, it is important to note the curriculum levels do not correspond with grade levels. Each child should be tested using the placement tests to see which level would best fit his or her abilities. Each level comes with a course book and a reader. The higher you go in levels the more that comes with the curriculum, such as phonics cards, course companions, and more. The Level K Primer (the one I chose for my son) comes with a coursebook and reader. The coursebook lessons cover mastering letters and their sounds along with other important reading skills such as phonemic awareness, sight words, rhyming, and more. It also has math, handwriting, and fine motor skills sprinkled throughout. The reader isn’t used until lesson 21 and begins with stories that have two to three words on a page.

In a typical homeschool day with my son, we will complete one lesson in the coursebook each day. Each lesson is about two to three pages long. There have been times when I have split a lesson and have completed it over the course of two days instead of one. I normally spend about eight to ten minutes per lesson. If the first page is taking my son a while to complete, I will take that as a cue to split the lesson up into two days. The wonderful thing about the Good and the Beautiful curriculum is it allows for this type of flexibility with the lessons.

I love that each lesson has the parent instructions built right into the coursebook so there is no need to go back and forth between a student book and teacher manual. Each lesson lists the items needed to complete the tasks given. You can find a full list of the items required throughout the coursebook listed in the front. I’ve taken time to collect these items and have them nearby in a container. It has been helpful having everything within arms reach. Although, the curriculum comes with everything needed to teach the reading lessons, I have added a few items to help with teaching my son.

Pixel Premium’s Mega Magnet Letter Bundle

If you have read any of my earlier posts, you know I am a HUGE advocate for hands-on learning. My son thrives off of manipulating objects to enhance his learning experience. One way I incorporate this with the Good and the Beautiful curriculum is by using magnet letters. I love how magnet letters allow my son to manipulate letters to create words and sentences. I did a lot of research when trying to find the right magnet letter bundle and found it in Pixel Premium’s Mega Magnet Letter Bundle.


I love the amount of letters that come in this kit. There are five sets of letters, two of which are capital and three that are lowercase. This is important to me because when my son gets further along in his reading, the large number of letters will allow for him to make longer words and sentences without running out of letters. The letters are soft foam and easy to handle. The kit comes with a magnet board, but you can use any magnetic whiteboard with these magnets.

I use these magnet letters with every lesson. Anytime a new letter or letter sound is introduced, we will pull out the letters and use them. I also use them when we learn new blends and make new words. These letters have come in handy with making my sons reading more hands-on. However, when there are a lot of words to review, I use another add-on that I created to help teach my son reading. 

Homemade Phonics Cards

I noticed that starting at Level K, the Good and the Beautiful includes phonics flash cards. According to Jenny, “Our flashcards are unique in that they include not only phonograms, but also words that incorporate the phonograms being learned, helping children connect phonograms to actual words.” (Approach to Phonics). I loved the idea of reviewing phonics cards with my son, however the Level K Primer did not include a set. So I made my own.

Each time a new letter is introduced in the coursebook, I use index cards and sharpies to make a phonics card. I use three different colored sharpies to help with color coding. Each consonant is blue and each vowel is red. I use a black sharpie to label the cards with “letter”, “vowel”, or “word”. I keep the cards in ziploc bags. I began with just one bag for letters then added another bag when words were introduced. By lesson seven in the coursebook, words with short vowel sounds are introduced so I made a new bag for just those words. I don’t review those words everyday as the Level K Primer mentions the fact that short vowel sounds do not need to be mastered.

These phonics cards have been a great review for my son. We will review some at the beginning of a lesson, or throughout the day at dinner or in the car. I don’t review all of them each time but instead select a few out of the bag and review those. As we collect more letters and words, I will most likely follow the phonics card instructions for the higher levels of the curriculum. They suggest having a bag for mastered, learning, and not learned. For more information, check out the image below borrowed from page seven of the Level K Coursebook Sample, which can be found here.

So far I am loving the Good and the Beautiful curriculum. It has everything I am looking for when it comes to teaching my son not only reading, but grammar, rhyming, and much more. As mentioned before, you do not need the magnet letters or the phonics cards with the curriculum. However, I have found they enhance the curriculum in a positive way and have helped my son pick up reading so much quicker than I ever expected him to. Whether you use just the curriculum, or add the magnet letters and phonics cards to your lessons, I would highly recommend the Good and the Beautiful for teaching reading to your children. Learn more about the curriculum by visiting Jenny Phillips website and be sure to check out Ashlee and Monica’s videos on YouTube.

I am also excited to share my first video on my YouTube channel. This video is a curriculum walkthrough of the Good and the Beautiful Level K Primer. Check it out by clicking the image below. Also, subscribe to the channel so you don’t miss out on other curriculum walkthroughs, school-days in the life, planning tips and more.

Amber Marie

Welcome to my homeschooling blog. I’m a former educator turned homeschool mom. Homeschooling is a relatively new adventure for our family. Click my picture to learn more about my story and why I homeschool my family.

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Why I Switched Curriculums Mid Year

Why I Switched Curriculums Mid Year

Why I Switched Curriculums Mid Year

Written by Amber Marie | May 22, 2018

There comes a time in almost every homeschooler’s life when they question the curriculum they are using with their children. That time arrived for me this year around February. If you read one of my earlier posts about the curriculum I chose to use this school year, you would know that I was loving All About Reading for my Language Arts program along with Living Education for Math. I also had mentioned that I would be trying RightStart Math when I saved up and purchased the curriculum. Needless to say, as the title already indicates, I completely changed everything. Check out my reasons why below and what curriculum I’m now using with my five-year old son.

Why I Stopped Using All About Reading

Disclaimer Alert #1! I only used the Pre-Level of All About Reading (AAR). I didn’t move forward with Level 1 or beyond so therefore take my opinion for what it’s worth. My reasons pertain only to our experience with the Pre-Level of AAR.

In the beginning, I loved how AAR had many different facets of reading instruction (i.e. letter and sound recognition, rhyming, syllables, etc). My son and I would go through the lessons without much of a struggle and he loved when he got to work with Ziggy, the zebra puppet. However, after making it through about three quarters of the curriculum, I started to feel a pull toward a new direction for a curriculum that would fit our need. Why? I felt that AAR was lacking in the review. It did a great job reviewing reading skills like rhyming, syllables, and sentence structure. But it lacked review in the letters and their sounds. I found that reviewing the alphabet charts and singing the songs were not enough to help my son retain everything being introduced (especially if we took it a lesson a day). This forced me to be creative with my delivery of the lessons.

For each AAR lesson (essentially a new letter or letter sound), I would spend the first day using the lesson in the AAR teacher book along with the course work from the student book. However, I didn’t feel this was enough practice when introducing a new concept and therefore ventured out looking for extra practice on the web. I felt I needed to spend more than one day on a letter/letter sound, so I’d only introduce one each week. We follow a four-day school week which meant I was looking for three more practice opportunities that were not included with AAR. This was very time consuming and could be frustrating. In the end, along with the extra time needed for planning, I felt my son was not getting what he needed from the curriculum. Therefore, I decided to drop it, but that wasn’t the only curriculum we dropped.

Why I Stopped Using Math Lessons for a Living Education

Disclaimer Alert #2! I realize that Math Lessons for a Living Education (MLLE) Level 1 is recommended for grade 1. Even though my son is 5 years old, I felt after reading reviews and looking at samples of the concepts, my son would be able to handle the lessons. My reasons for changing are not due to grade appropriateness, but rather the delivery of the content.

I had high hopes for this curriculum because of all the reviews I read along with my sons excitement when we received it in the mail. I loved the story setup where each lesson followed a twin brother and sister on their grandparents farm. My son loves stories, so this really helped engage him in the content. However, I felt MLLE was lacking in the delivery of its lessons. Many of the pages were broad in their focus and didn’t give a lot of direction for a child doing the work. I was also frustrated by the introduction of writing numbers without much guidance. My son has only learned how to write a few numbers well and when one of the early lessons required him to write numbers one to ten multiple times all in one lesson, he and I both got frustrated. Needless to say, my son and I were not enjoying the curriculum as much as we had hoped and looked elsewhere for a curriculum that fit our needs.

What I’m Using Now (and next school year)

Let me start with a little back story. Around February when we decided to drop these curriculums, we also took a break from school. Yes we still had learning occurring throughout the day in different ways but it wasn’t until end of March that we started things back up. This was mostly due to the nausea and fatigue I was feeling during my first trimester of pregnancy (yes, we are expecting our third child this September). However, this break also allowed me to do some more research on what type of curriculum I wanted to use for Reading and Math. And so without further ado….drum roll please…I chose to use “The Good and the Beautiful” for Reading (and will for math when it becomes available) and Abeka for Math.

I’m not going to go into too much detail about each curriculum in this post as I will be sharing my thoughts and use in posts coming later this month. However, I will explain what drew me to these two curriculums. First, the Good and the Beautiful kept popping up on my Facebook feed and I felt the need to look at it further. I fell in love with Jenny Phillips approach to teaching reading and the flow of the course really appealed to me (see more in my upcoming post).

Second, with Abeka, I had a chance to see it in action. My mother-in-law (read her interview here) uses it with her younger children and I loved how simple each lesson was laid out and how I could easily see myself teaching my son the concepts. Disclaimer: I am only using the K5 Math student workbook and did not buy the teachers guide as I felt I could use some of my prior experience in this area. I’ll be walking you through a week of lessons with Abeka in a post coming later this month.

Changing curriculums can be scary, especially if you’ve invested in them. Take it from me, you can do it! Normally I wouldn’t condone switching midyear, but when you witness a curriculum not working for your child, I say it’s better late than never. These two new curriculums are what I will be using the remainder of this relaxed school year and will continue to use them next school year. Stay tuned for a post the beginning of next month regarding my son’s “official” kindergarten year, our new year round schedule, and how I planned out the year.

Amber Marie

Welcome to my homeschooling blog. I’m a former educator turned homeschool mom. Homeschooling is a relatively new adventure for our family. Click my picture to learn more about my story and why I homeschool my family.

Follow Me On

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Now that summer has hit, I couldn’t help but get excited for the upcoming school year. This past year I did a combination of Pre-K/Kindergarten curriculum for my five-year-old son. This upcoming school year will be his “official” kindergarten year. But where to start? How do you plan a school year, especially if you want to do a year-round schedule? This is where I went back to my experiences with planning as an elementary school teacher. The methods I share below are not exact steps I took as a teacher, but they are pretty darn close. And considering that I am a homeschooler now and no longer a public school teacher, I do have a bit more flexibility with my planning.
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Have you ever switched your curriculum? What feelings did you have that made you switch? Share in the comments below.

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The “Right” Curriculum for My Homeschool

The “Right” Curriculum for My Homeschool

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The “Right” Curriculum for My Homeschool

Written by Amber Marie | January 17, 2018

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commision if you click through and make a purchase. To read my full disclosure policy click here.

In an earlier post, “Math, Reading, Writing…Oh My!”, I talked about the criteria I follow when selecting a curriculum. Today, I will share what curriculums I am currently using with my 5-year-old son that hit one or all the marks on my list.

Disclaimer: These are the curriculums I use in my homeschool and in my professional opinion, believe to be good resources. However, not every curriculum is right for every homeschool. I suggest you create a criteria of your own and do a little research to help find what might work best for your children.

All About Reading (AAR)

I discovered AAR while searching the web for an engaging reading curriculum that included some pre-reading practice. AAR fit the bill. It has five levels: pre-reading and levels one through four. All levels include engaging lessons on all key components of reading. As a former educator, this was a characteristic of the curriculum that caught my eye, I covet a well-rounded reading experience. There are five key components to reading and they are:

  • Phonological Awareness – identifying and manipulating parts of oral language such as words, syllables, and onsets and rimes.
  • Phonics and Decoding – relating letters or groups of letters with their pronunciation and converting written words into spoken words.
  • Fluency – the ability to read with at least three key elements: accurate reading of connected text at a conversational rate with appropriate prosody or expression.
  • Vocabulary – the knowledge of a word and how to use it.
  • Comprehension – extracting meaning from what you read

AAR includes all of these components throughout each level and does so in a multisensory way. Your child will use sight, sound, and touch in each lesson. I also love that each lesson builds upon prior lessons from earlier in the level. This allows for new connections to be built on background knowledge obtained from earlier concepts.

Currently, my son is working on the Pre-reading Level program. I began with this level because I wanted to ensure he had a solid grasp recognizing letters before moving into letter sounds and blends. I immediately saw the benefits of this program within the first week.To start, Ziggy, a zebra puppet, caught my sons attention like I never imagined. This excitement added to the enjoyment of learning to read. He enjoys all parts of the lessons, especially those which include Ziggy (mostly games focusing on phonological awareness).

AAR lessons are simple and straightforward and include materials that enhance the learning experience. Our lessons begin by working through a coloring page then singing the alphabet song while pointing to the provided alphabet chart. After, we move to a game with Ziggy focused on rhyming (or another reading skill) and end with a read-aloud from their beautifully printed black and white picture books. One can choose to enhance the learning with other activities such as crafts that can be found in the back of the teacher books.

For some testimony, before starting AAR, my son had no sense of rhyming words, and after that first week, he was rhyming left and right. We are now learning letter sounds. I can’t wait to see what gains my son makes next.

If you’d like to learn more about the program from other homeschoolers, check out the links below. These are the articles I visited during my research and found to be very helpful in my final decision.

Classical Conversations

Before I considered homeschooling, I had visited a Classical Conversations community outside Annapolis, MD during one of their open houses. I watched in amazement at the different levels (see below) and how, from the youngest to the oldest student, there was a consistency I had not seen in public schools during my teaching years.

Fast forward three years, and now I am part of a community here in the DC Area. This is my first year using Classical Conversations as part of our daily homeschool curriculum and I am loving it. The curriculum is filled with songs, kinesthetics (through hand motions), the arts, and science experiments. I love how well rounded the program truly is.

If you have never heard of Classical Conversations before reading this post, here is a quick rundown of the program:

  • Classical Conversations is a homeschool community-based empire (they are everywhere…even overseas).
  • They believe in three principles of education: the classical education approach, Christian foundations, and fellowship through a community.
  • Classical Conversations is broken into different levels (age groups) based on the Classical Education model:
    • Grammar Stage – Foundations
    • Dialectic Stage – Essentials, Challenge A, and Challenge B
    • Rhetoric Stage – Challenge I and Challenge II
  • Parents are the primary teacher, but tutors (paid volunteer parents) introduce new grammar each week and facilitate the learning for that specific community day.

To gain more detailed information about this program, check out their article What is Classical Conversations” on their website.

Currently, we are two weeks into our second semester, and after looking back on the first, I feel there is a large benefit to this program. Not only does my son complete weekly science experiments involving chemistry and biology, but he creates art based on different artistic methods or from examples of famous artists such as Norman Rockwell. He has learned (as best as a five-year-old can) how to play a tin whistle and the basics of music theory. He has memorized facts about history, science, math, Latin, English, and geography all through songs and games. Does Classical Conversations check my criteria boxes? Heck yes it does!

What amazes me most, I’m only in the beginning stages of Classical Conversations. I can’t fathom what my oldest (and eventually my youngest) will be capable of in three, five, or even ten years. I’m in awe of the Challenge (middle/high school age) students in my community and the amazing projects they complete. It fills me with excitement for the future.

 

Math Curriculums

As for math, I did not start with a curriculum in hand. Rather, I attempted to create my own lessons and develop a curriculum schedule by using “Home Learning Year by Year” as my guide. The book provided great insight into the math concepts a child should be learning at each age. I used this book as a reference for pulling together ideas for games, worksheets, manipulatives, and activities. I spent hours searching Pinterest for materials to enhance my son’s learning. All this in an effort to give my son a well-rounded start to understanding math. I quickly became burnt-out and began researching different curriculums.

Math Lessons for a Living Education

Math Lessons for a Living Education was a start in the right direction. It has a story-based approach to teaching new concepts and relates math skills to real-life situations. For example, Level 1 (the level my son is working on), has two children who are visiting their grandparent’s farm.

Some of the math lessons children learn through the stories are:

  • counting the number of vegetables in the garden
  • working with place value by harvesting carrots in groups of ten
  • basic addition and subtraction with grandma’s cookies

Math Lessons for a Living Education also follows a cross-curricular approach (teaching across multiple subjects) by including science and social studies throughout. For example, when your child is learning about patterns, the program spends time introducing life cycles and other patterns in nature. During my years as a teacher, mixing-in subjects was highly encouraged as it connects and reinforces various concepts learned.

The manipulatives are simple to pull together and not costly. For level 1, the place value village includes a set of jars or cups and dry beans. There are printables in the back of the book you will use, such as a clock and hundreds chart. The manipulatives are very minimalistic which I appreciate as the vast array of learning tools that are available can sometimes be overwhelming. Personally, I already have a hundreds board with tiles along with a large Judy clock which I will be using with this curriculum. Overall, I am happy with our experience.

RightStart Math

Another math curriculum I have my eye on, and will be acquiring shortly (from my aunt) is RightStart Math. RightStart Math is a combination of spiral and mastery curriculum. Spiral curriculums cover the same material year after year in ever-widening circles, with the anticipation that increased exposures will eventually lead to mastery of the basics. Mastery approach builds sequentially and states that there is no need to move to the next step until the preceding one is mastered. RightStart Math combines the positives of both these approaches to make for a more cohesive math foundation.

RightStart Math also uses hands-on learning, visualization, and language for building a strong foundation in number sense. As a former educator, I saw time and time again students who lacked a solid understanding of number sense, or the fluidity and flexibility one has with numbers. These students would struggle with some of the most basic math problems and had an even harder time adding new concepts to the broken background knowledge they possessed. RightStart Math focuses not on rote memorization of facts or counting, but instead the understanding of what numbers represent and how to visualize them mentally and physically. Needless to say, I cannot wait to get my hands on this program and get started.

The curriculums I’ve mentioned above fit my criteria. I know there are many other curriculums out there that probably come close, but for the moment, these programs are what I plan on using for the foreseeable future. As I suggested in the last curriculum post, find what you value most for your child’s education and create a list of those criteria. Then search Google, Facebook, and forums to find what best fits your homeschool and your children. Remember, it is okay to try a curriculum and find it doesn’t work for your family. This is bound to happen as there are so many options available for all subjects. However, I believe if you put time into researching and trying to find curriculums that align with your values, you will avoid the stress of replacing a curriculum you have started. Good luck with your search.

Amber Marie

Welcome to my homeschooling blog. I’m a former educator turned homeschool mom. Homeschooling is a relatively new adventure for our family. Click my picture to learn more about my story and why I homeschool my family.

Follow Me On

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Products I Love

All About Learning Press
Free Resources
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Are you using a curriculum you love? Are you using one of the curriculums above and want to share more? Do so in the comments below.

**Please keep them positive as disrespectful comments will be removed.

COMMENTS

Math, Reading, Writing…Oh My!

Math, Reading, Writing…Oh My!

Don't Miss Out!

Sign-up to recieve updates on new posts along with special perks for Members. You will recieve exclusive access to the Member's Library where you will find a variety of freebies for every subject. Also, Members get a special monthly discount code for products in my store. Don't wait! Sign up today!

Math, Reading, Writing…Oh My!

Written by Amber Marie | January 5, 2018

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commision if you click through and make a purchase. To read my full disclosure policy click here.

When I first considered homeschooling my boys, I had no clue where to start with choosing curriculum. As a former teacher, much of the curriculum we used was presented to us by our administration or the district. We weren’t required to search out programs that would work best for individual students unless within the confines of the curriculums we were using (i.e. guided reading levels).

In contrast, as a homeschooler, seeking out the “right” curriculum can be overwhelming and discouraging. There are so many options at your fingertips. One can get lost online for hours upon hours, searching for a curriculum that might “fit” your child’s learning style and ability. However, even after selecting a curriculum, there is still a possibility of finding the program as inadequate for your homeschool. Therefore, you are forced to regress back into the endless sea of options.

After talking with other homeschoolers and doing a little bit of research online (okay….hours of research), I came to the conclusion that I needed to narrow it down based on what I was looking for in a curriculum(s). I needed an ideal criterion to follow when perusing available material.

In an effort to simplify my search, I developed a list of criteria for education approaches/methods I value and will ensure quality learning within my homeschool. While teaching elementary school, I found three educational elements that helped students learn best, especially when it came to memorizing new information. These three learning components are also helpful with younger children who – like my oldest son – may have short attention spans and difficulty sitting still for long periods of time. My criteria must include one or more of the following methods: hands-on learning, music/art, or games.

Hands-on Learning

One principle beat into me during my education career was “teach with hands-on learning!” What does that mean? It means, teaching through manipulatives (physical objects such as dry beans, counting bear, etc), experiments, exploration, and more. I think Confucius was onto something when he said “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”

Samantha Cleaver states in her article Hands-On Is Minds On, “According to Cindy Middendorf, educational consultant and author of The Scholastic Differentiated Instruction Plan Book (Scholastic, 2009), between the ages of four and seven, the right side of the brain is developing and learning comes easily through visual and spatial activities. The left hemisphere of the brain—the side that’s involved in more analytical and language skills—develops around ages 10 and 11.” This stat alone demonstrates how important hands-on learning is in the early elementary years of our children.

If interested in learning more about the benefits of hands-on learning, check out the articles I’ve listed below.

Music/Art

I cannot stress enough how much music helps little children (and even older ones…including adults) retain information. For example, I created a song to teach the names and locations of continents and rehearsed this song daily with my son. After only four days, my son was able to sing the song by himself while pointing to the continents on a map. Yes, one can argue that repetition produces similar results, but music is definitely more fun and engaging, especially when you incorporate motions with the songs. To add, music has immense benefits when learning language. Gari Stein shared, on Songs for Teachers, an excerpt from his book The More We Get Together: 

 

Literally Speaking: How Music Supports the Development of Reading Skills

  • Children with a strong sense of beat are more likely to read well.
  • Music stimulates all the senses, helping children learn to recognize patterns and sequence.
  • Early music exposure helps children learn by promoting language, creativity, coordination, social interaction, self-esteem and memory.
  • Singing games support children’s need to socialize and play, instead of “pre-academic” skills.
  • Music helps “wire” the brain, supporting a higher level of thinking.
Gary Stein

Author, The More We Get Together

Art is also a great way to create a more engaging atmosphere for learning. The mediums of art are endless (clay, paint, chalk, and more) and can be used in enhancing all subject matter. I’ve watched my son create a whole story using a block of clay. He formed the characters (in this story it was a snake), the setting (a tunnel in the woods), the plot (the snake tries to go through the tunnel safely), a conflict (the tunnel collapses), and a resolution (the snake escapes by pushing his way through the rubble). What impressed me most was this was all done using just clay! Art is a powerful thing in a homeschool curriculum and I encourage you to explore it further for your own homeschool.

All About Reading Pre-reading
RightStart™ Math Lesson Books

Games

Nothing excites my son more than when I say we are going to play a game for school. Something about playing games helps engage my son more than any worksheet, video, or app could. Maybe it is his competitive nature (not sure where he got that from..ahem) or just the quality time he gets to spend with me. Whatever it is, I love how much games engage my son in his learning.

Games can be invented for almost anything. Alphabet or number flashcards and manipulatives are just a few of the many items out there one can use to play learning games. You can review reading, math, and other subjects using fun games like memory or even trivial pursuit. One thing to remember is to have fun! Keep the game engaging and don’t fret if your child slips up. Mistakes will happen, but they provide the best learning opportunities. Many curriculums incorporate games within their lessons, such as All About Reading or Right Start Math.

It can take a lot of time and energy to find the right curriculum for your children and homeschool. However, before you become overwhelmed with all that is available, narrow down what you want out of a curriculum. Once you create a criterion that fits with your homeschool, take some time to find curriculums that come close to fulfilling those wants.

But wait, part two will be up next week! Stay tuned for a follow-up post containing the curriculums I chose that fulfill one or more of my criteria.

***Update: Part two can be found here.

Amber Marie

Welcome to my homeschooling blog. I’m a former educator turned homeschool mom. Homeschooling is a relatively new adventure for our family. Click my picture to learn more about my story and why I homeschool my family.

Follow Me On

Recent and Related Posts

How to Plan a Year-Round Homeschool Year

How to Plan a Year-Round Homeschool Year

Now that summer has hit, I couldn’t help but get excited for the upcoming school year. This past year I did a combination of Pre-K/Kindergarten curriculum for my five-year-old son. This upcoming school year will be his “official” kindergarten year. But where to start? How do you plan a school year, especially if you want to do a year-round schedule? This is where I went back to my experiences with planning as an elementary school teacher. The methods I share below are not exact steps I took as a teacher, but they are pretty darn close. And considering that I am a homeschooler now and no longer a public school teacher, I do have a bit more flexibility with my planning.
Read More
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I love being outdoors, especially during the beautiful season of summer. Summer is a time to make so many great memories from family trips to the beach, hot days at the pool, and eating ice cream and popsicles. One memory I’m excited to share with my oldest son is gardening. Our family enjoys growing our own vegetables and have picked a few different veggies to grow this year in our garden. My son was ecstatic when he got to pick a plant for him and his brother. We did some looking but it didn’t take long for him to spot the pictures of cherry tomatoes attached to the pots of some nearby plants.
Read More
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Read More
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If you have chosen to homeschool your children, and they are under the age of six, I’m sure you may have experienced the same anxiety I have on a particular issue. How do I teach my child to read? However, that fear subsided when I searched the web and found all the wonderful curriculums out there for homeschoolers. Suddenly, I wasn’t afraid anymore. I did a lot of research and even tried a curriculum out before using the curriculum I’m using now.
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5 Meaningful Ways to Plan Your Spring

5 Meaningful Ways to Plan Your Spring

With just a short time left until summer you want to make the last stretch of the spring season count. Since we are short on time I have made a list of that has 5 ways to plan your spring using books and activities that will make this season memorable. It will bring a smile on your face every time you can look back on the memories that you created with your children. A meaningful spring will yield a great education.
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Discover the Wonders of Botany through Play

Discover the Wonders of Botany through Play

Spring is such a lovely time to get outside, go for a walk and simply enjoy being outside. It's good for the body, it's good for the mind and it's good for the soul.
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Felt Flowers Quiet Activity

Felt Flowers Quiet Activity

You create them, feel them, you transform them and invent some new species...Hours of fun for little fingers who like to manipulate and have an artistic touch. As a quiet activity or as a fun bounding time with mommy. Felt is one of my favorite material to use for creating educative activities for little ones
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5 Things I Love About Homeschooling vs. Public Schooling (Shared by a Former Teacher)

5 Things I Love About Homeschooling vs. Public Schooling (Shared by a Former Teacher)

I get a lot of funny looks when I say I homeschool my son. However, those facial expressions change quickly to surprise when I mention I am a former elementary school teacher. So many people ask me “why I would want to homeschool my kids rather than send them to public school” among other questions. Normally, I give a quick run down of some brief reasons then go on my merry way. But as I sat down to think about it more, I was able to flesh out 5 things I LOVE about homeschooling that I (or my son) would never be able to get in a public school setting.
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The Secret Garden’ BY F. H. Burnett – The Ultimate Homeschoolers Guide To Spring

The Secret Garden’ BY F. H. Burnett – The Ultimate Homeschoolers Guide To Spring

Spring time is a time of new beginnings, healing and growth. From reading the 'The Secret Garden' it is clear to me that F.H. Burnett understood the significant positive value to a child's mental, physical and educational health, when it comes to spending time outdoors with nature. This book is a calling to all parents and educators to let our children loose amongst the miracles of Spring and allow nature to nurture them just like it did for the three little children in this story.
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