Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Curriculum Choices 2016-2017

I get a lot questions about my curriculum choices, so I thought I would share them here in a blogpost. Many people wonder if I use only my own curriculum. The answer is no. I wish I had time to create everything that my girls use, but that is impossible. Besides, I don't feel comfortable creating every academic resource we use. I rely on the experts to bring quality curriculum to our homeschool educational environment.

There are NO affiliate links below... 
just an honest opinion and overview of what works best for us.

Sophia: 2nd Grade
Note about Sophia.
 Sophia is a very young 2nd Grader. She doesn't turn 7 until late September, and technically she would be in 1st Grade if she was put into the public school system. That being said, I understand her needs. She reads above grade level, but socially she is still six. She loves school and is extremely eager to learn. One of the perks of homeschooling is that you can accommodate the needs of your children.  Sometimes this means we use different curriculum. Sometimes we work at a faster pace. Sometimes we revisit core concepts for mastery.  We do what works best for us. 

Monthly NO PREP Packets:
Since the girls were in Kindergarten, these have been my staple...my go to resource! These packets cover all major topics for grade level standards in a variety of ways.  Hands down...these are Sophia's FAVORITE resources! She loves how they are fun and interactive.  I love that she loves them and that she is learning grade level skills! As a homeschooling mom, I use these packets to teach, reinforce and master core skills. Teachers use them for morning work, intervention, whole class, small group and homework.
I  print these out and spiral bind them for each month. 

For literature units, I will be using Memoria Press. The selected books have study guides that focus on vocabulary and reading comprehension. Sophia will be using the Second Grade Literature Set with Novels.

Word Word:
In order to build a strong phonics foundation, I will be using the following resources for Sophia.

Build a Word: The Build a Word packets are going to be used for about 15 minutes a day. These are an important component to our spelling success. When kids can apply learned phonics skills to their spelling, they become excellent readers and spellers.  Students struggle with reading and spelling when a strong phonics foundation is not implemented explicitly and strategically.  

Students use magnetic letters (or any type of letter tile) to build words on the cards. The bundle covers the following: CVC words, Blends, Digraphs, R-Controlled Vowels, Long Vowels and Diphthongs.  

Here are a few pictures in action:

In addition to the Build a Word Cards above, we will master phonics skills with some NO PREP packets. 
Here is a list of progressive phonics packets currently available. These lay a strong foundation to help students become better readers and spellers. This is the order that I teach phonics.

**NOTE: Before I teach phonics, I teach phonemic/phonological awareness. 
You can learn more about that HERE.

The following can be used for Kindergarten and 1st Grade:

I will be using the following for 2nd Grade:
Be sure to FOLLOW our Teachers Pay Teachers store to hear about NEW RELEASES and snag these upcoming bundles at a huge discount!
R-Controlled Vowels (Coming Soon!)
Long Vowels (Coming Soon!)
Diphthongs (Coming Soon!)

Our Beautiful Feet choices (teaching history and character through literature) 

Math: Singapore has been our go to resource for a few years now. I am happy with this rigorous math curriculum because it works best for our learning style. Listed below are the 2A books, which will carry us through the first half of the year.  You don't necessarily need ALL of the books below. I purchase extra books for extra practice. Technically, you only really need the workbook and textbook. All other books are considered supplemental...but I consider them necessary.  

Singapore offers a variety of editions that you can choose from. After having a lengthy conversation with a representative on the phone, I felt that the U.S. Edition would work best for us. I want to be consistent throughout the year and this fit the bill.

For Math Mastery:
Mastering basic math skills is very important, especially before learning new math concepts. I will be using the following packets to master basic math fact practice:
Check out the blog post HERE

If you want to read my blog post on it, check it out HERE 

Grammar/Language Arts:
I wanted a complete Grammar and Language Arts curriculum, so I decided to create a fun interactive Bundle that would teach and cover all the major grade level skills.  I am extremely excited to use this resource because I KNOW we will master grade level language arts and grammar skills! These mini packets will give us enough opportunities to teach, practice and master grammar and language arts for 2nd Grade!

Picking a strong writing curriculum for my girls, has been a struggle since I started homeschooling. I have scoured the internet for a writing curriculum that would best meet our needs. I have purchased and tried many programs, but haven't been completely happy. 

That's when I teamed up with my friend Traci from Dragonflies in First to create Ready for Writing!
Be on the lookout for a detailed blogpost that will cover this 1st/2nd Grade Writing Curriculum in detail!

For daily handwriting practice, we use A Reason for Handwriting. In the middle of this year, we will make the transition from printing to cursive.  I was happy to see that Book T offered the transitional approach that we were looking for for handwriting.

For a more structured and cohesive approach, I have decided on Abeka Science. For 2nd Grade, we are using Enjoying God's World. They also have a teacher edition available. 

The girls absolutely LOVE learning about animals. I picked up the Birds of North America cards and the Flower cards. I am not sure exactly how we are going to use them yet. We will probably talk about and research one bird each week. I may extend the activity with a little writing piece and an independent sketch of the bird and flower.  This will be kept in a science/sketch notebook. 

Steve Spangler Science Boxes:
For the last year, we have enjoyed getting the monthly Steve Spangler Science box delivered right to our door.  The lessons are hands-on and the girls squeal with joy when a box arrives. Everything needed for the science experiment is included in the box. It makes it easy for me and enjoyable for the girls. The activities are STEM based, which makes me happy.

For 2nd Grade we will be using Our America. Sophia is especially interested in learning more about history so this should be a fun year.  In addition, we will be learning the presidents and the states. This is our main curriculum, but I am always searching for supplemental resources that would make history come alive. 

Spanish Lessons: 
Once a week, the girls have private Spanish lessons. We absolutely love Mrs. Fitzpatrick! You can check out her website here. Be on the lookout because I think she will be coming out with online classes! Private lessons right in the comfort of your own home.
She uses a curriculum called Sing N Speak Spanish. This program goes at a slow pace and works really well for both girls.

Latin Lessons:
Sophia doesn't necessarily have Latin Lessons this year, but I know that she will pick up quite a bit from Audrey's lessons. You can read more about that below. This will be a great way to front load her  with the vocabulary so that she picks it up easier when she starts in fourth grade. 

I have used different Bible curriculum in the past and I have been pretty happy with everything that I have chosen. I decided this year to do a switch and try Ken Ham's Answers for Kids Bible Curriculum because it looks great. I also supplemented it with the Answer Books shown below. These are WONDERFUL! Tons of answers to questions kids may have about the Bible.

Extra Curricular Activities:
Horseback Riding
The girls have English Horseback Riding lessons twice a week.  This is definitely the highlight of their week! Tacking, riding and untacking the horse takes about 2 hours. Horseback riding is definitely a great way to build discipline and responsibility. 

Art Lessons:
I know my limits and I know that I can NOT teach the girls art. They have art lessons once a week. The art lessons are provided by a former art teacher who teaches in her home. She is AMAZING! There are only 4 students in their group and the girls love it!

Piano Lessons:
This year, Sophia will take private piano lessons. This will be a first for us and the lessons will only be 1/2 hour. This will allow me to see if this is something that interests her and if it is something we want to pursue.  

Audrey: 4th Grade
Note about Audrey.
Audrey learned to read when she was 2 years old. Learning has always come easy for her. She excels at just about anything she does. However, she still loves for me to sit by her during school and help her. Although she doesn't really need much help from me at this point, she wants it. She is great at asking for clarification and does well working independently. She is a voracious reader and I strive to find books that interest her, but are still age appropriate. 

Reading: Audrey reads well above grade level. I recently tested her lexile reading level and she is about 8th - 9th grade. I wanted to choose books and literature units that would target her interest and keep her engaged. 

For Audrey, I also use Memoria Press, but I go up one level. We will be reading the 5th grade set this year. These sets are a great way to build vocabulary and increase reading comprehension.  The poetry unit was an add on and can be extended through 6th grade. 

Beautiful Feet Books:
 Beautiful Feet Books offers many wonderful reading packs. High on our list is History of the Horse Pack  The girls are "slightly" obsessed with horses so this will be a wonderful addition to reading selection. There is a guide included along with how to draw horses books. If you are interested in high quality reading selections, I would definitely check out Beautiful Feet Books!

Math: Hands down, my favorite math curriculum is Singapore Math. I have tried other math programs in the past, but this one works well for us. I feel as though it is rigorous and challenging enough, but I do wish that it had more opportunities for practice. I load up on all the math packets, but you certainly don't need ALL of them.  What you see below is set A, which will carry us through the first half of the year. I have also purchased Set B, but it is not shown below. 

You can check out the U.S. Edition here.

Grammar/Language Arts and Handwriting:
I like the consistency of daily handwriting practice so we use A Reason for Handwriting. This year Audrey will be using Book D.

I was really hoping to create a Language and Grammar Bundle for Audrey this year, but due to time constraints, I was unable to accomplish this task. This year we will use Abeka's Language packet. It doesn't offer as much specific practice as I would like, but it is still a good program. 

Once again, Writing was a program that I had hopped to create for Audrey. Unfortunately we were unable to crank out more than one writing program this year.  I purchased other writing programs (including IEW and Write Source), but wasn't overly impressed with them. 

This year we have decided to try a brand new writing program called Writers in Residence. Along with the Apprentice Book, I purchased the Answer Key.

When you first see the size of the Apprentice Book...you let out a gasp! This book is HUGE! It seems quite overwhelming. However, looking through the book, you realize that it is not that overwhelming as you may think. 

There is no teacher guide for this book. Everything it written for the student. I plan to work alongside Audrey as she works through the writing assignments. I do like the fact that there is a Suggested Daily Schedule.  This keeps us on track and is easy for me implement into my lesson plan book. 

Since this is our first year using this writing program, I don't have a strong opinion about it yet. I will be back to give you my opinion later. 

Science and Health:
Our fourth grade science and health curriculum comes from Abeka, 

 For history, we will be using Abeka Grade 4 History Kit.  There is also a Teacher's Edition for this set.

In addition to our Abeka history above, we will be studying about Manzanar and visiting the National Historic Site in California. Last year my husband (who taught college history) purchased this Educator Resources as part of Audrey's 4th Grade curriculum.
They now offer the downloads for FREE!

In addition to the Spanish curriculum listed above, Audrey will start Latin. Audrey will be doing the workbook, but Sophia will definitely pick up the vocabulary words.  The packet comes with a student book, teacher manual, pronunciation CD, flashcards, instructional video, review worksheets and some downloads. This perfect for me...since I don't know Latin!

Both girls will be using the Bible Curriculum listed above.

Extra Curricular Activities:
Along with Sophia, Audrey will have horseback riding lessons and art class. She really loves art and continues to do well. A good art teacher makes all the difference. Here is a sample of what she did last year in 3rd Grade.

Guitar Lessons:
This summer Daddy bought Audrey a guitar. Together they have been taking lessons. It melts my heart!

The list of curriculum mentioned in the post covers the majority of what we learn on daily basis. However, I am constantly supplementing or creating resources for the girls. I seek out resources that help meet interests and promote learning needs. Therefore, I didn't mention everything we use. 

If you follow me on Instagram and/or Facebook,  you will see these posts that may not necessarily make it on the blog.

Happy Teaching and I hope you have an AMAZING school year!

Friday, August 26, 2016

Back To School Packets!

Back to School is right around the corner for us and I am SUPER excited to kick of this school year with some fun, hands-on and engaging resources for The Moffatt Girls! Some of you have already started!

We now have Preschool, Kindergarten, 1st Grade, 2nd Grade and 3rd Grade NO PREP Packets available! We also have journal prompts and Reading Comprehension Checks!

After several requests for a NO PREP Preschool packet, we finally released the September edition! The activities in these packets will help build fine motor skills, alphabet recognition, sounds and basic math concepts geared for little learners!  These printable are designed to be FUN, engaging, effective and hands-on!

Check out all of our Back to School packets below!
 Bundles are available for all resources!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Mastering Basic Facts Made EASY!

As teachers and parents, we understand the importance of mastering basic math facts.  Basic math facts provide a foundation for math success.  It is the precursor for more complex and challenging math procedures. Although we want kids to become fluent with their math facts, this is not a goal that is simple to achieve.

How do we help students master Basic Math Facts?

#1 Students need a variety of opportunities to learn and master math facts. Since students learn in different ways, we need to provide ample opportunity for mastery... in a variety of ways.

When it comes to working with math facts, I am all about making it fun and as hands-on as possible.  I have created 6 packets in our Addition and Subtraction Bundle to make practice FUN! I have also created our Addition and Subtraction Math Fact Booklets to give students endless opportunities to practice with 216 wipe on and wipe off booklets!

For students who need the extra support, it is my hope and goal that teachers and/or parents will use these resources with manipulatives. Below I will show you a few manipulatives that we like to use for adding and subtracting. For students who don't need the extra support, manipulatives may not be as necessary.  The most important thing is that you, as the teacher,  integrate manipulatives, visuals, tables, hundred charts and discussion as needed.
I like to use base ten blocks, jumbo dice, linking cubes and fun counters. 
In the picture above, I have counting bears and insects. You could use ANYTHING...the important thing is to make it FUN and that you provide tangible items for students to manipulate. 

Over time and through multiple avenues of practice, students will begin to master basic addition and subtraction facts automatically.  This is ultimate goal and this is what we hope to achieve for our students.

Providing HANDS-ON, FUN and ENGAGING opportunities for practice will help to maintain student interest.  These 6 packets hit the target and provide opportunities for differentiation to help scaffold the learning process.

In this post, I also want to show you how you can use many of these pages to make a reusable (wipe on and wipe off) binder that 
helps save on paper and ink
and is EASY to set up!
This is especially useful for teachers who have a limited paper and ink supply and/or want to differentiate instruction for their students.

In addition to the printable pages above, we also have the Addition and Subtraction Math Booklets. These Wipe on and Wipe off booklets allow for endless opportunities of practice.  The BEST PART about these booklets, is that they are SELF CHECKING!

In this post I will show you a variety of FUN, ENGAGING and EFFECTIVE ways to help kids MASTER basic math facts!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

What is Phonemic Awareness and Why Teach it?

I get a lot of emails from parents who are ready to teach their child how to read. They tell me that their children know their letters and their sounds, therefore they are Ready to READ! "Where do we start and what do we do next?" they ask.

I LOVE their enthusiasm! I LOVE their willingness to dive right in.

However... diving into a full blown reading curriculum at that early stage is not the next step. To build a strong foundation for reading success, children need to master Phonological/Phonemic Awareness.

What is Phonological/Phonemic Awareness?

Phonological and Phonemic Awareness is the ability to hear, identify and manipulate sounds (phonemes).  This skill provides a strong foundation for early reading success. As students become more proficient in hearing, identifying and manipulating sounds, they can successfully move onto segmenting and blending words. A systematic and cohesive approach to teaching phonological awareness can build confident readers who are less likely to struggle with decoding and spelling skills. Students with strong a phonemic awareness are much more likely to be successful readers.

Who Can Benefit from Phonological/Phonemic Awareness?
Reading instruction is important for all students. A strong foundation in phonological/phonemic awareness can benefit:
*Beginning Readers
*Struggling Readers
*Students with autism or other developmental disabilities
*Pre-Kindergarten, Kindergarten and 1st Grade Students

Authentic Phonemic Awareness is done without printed words. It is all about the sounds that letters make. It gives students the ability to work with sounds, manipulate sounds and master these sounds in a variety of ways. When students are able to do these skills successfully, they are able to jump into phonics with a lot less struggle.  Phonics (not Phonemic Awareness) works with connecting the sounds to printed letters and words.  When you target phonemic awareness first, it allows a child to focus on one thing...sounds.  However, when you try to teach both phonemic awareness (sounds) and phonics (linking sounds to letters and words), it can be overwhelming and frustrating for children learning to read.

When a child struggles with reading, the gaps are often connected to a lack of phonemic awareness skills. Going back and reinforcing these skills can help fill in the gaps and build stronger readers.

Within my Phonemic Awareness Bundle, I have provided an opportunity to practice many skills necessary to give children a strong foundation with sounds. Let's take a look at this bundle, see how it works and why it is an important component to reading success.

The pictures and activities that I am about to show you below are all stored in my Phonemic Awareness Kit. This is EASY to set up and just requires a box and some file folders. This method keeps me organized and all of my materials are in one place. When my teaching materials are organized, I am more equipped to meet the needs of those that I am teaching.

In this post, I will show you 9 different activities to help build phonemic awareness.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Summer Review NO PREP Packets (UPDATED)

Summer is almost here! I can smell the beach air and feel the sand in my feet.  I know that the little Moffatt Girls are also ready for a summer break!  We have a lot of things on our "Bucket List" this summer, but one thing that is NOT on the list is the Summer Slide!

Here are some statistics about the Summer Slide:
1. Teachers spend 4 - 6 weeks re-teaching material that students have forgotten over the summer.
2. Students experience significant learning loss when they do not participate in educational activities during the summer months.
3. Reading as a leisure activity is the best predictor of comprehension, vocabulary and reading speed. 
4. Reading just 4 - 5 books during the summer can prevent a decline in a child's fall reading scores.
5. The Summer Slide has cumulative effects of greater loss each summer.

In efforts to avoid the Summer Slide, I wanted to give our Summer Review Packets an update… and boy did they get an update!  They have been COMPLETELY revised!  The summer Review NO PREP Packets are packed with FUN, engaging and hands-on activities to help kids avoid the Summer Slide!
The BEST part…
NO PREP, NO laminating, no costly colored ink!  Just print and let kids learn this summer!

**If you already purchased this packet, just re-download it for FREE!**

Thursday, April 14, 2016

May Fun-Filled Learning!

As we approach the end of the school year, I wanted to make some monthly NO PREP packets that would help keep us on course, review some skills and making learning FUN! I think we hit the spot with May's NO PREP packets!

The following May packets are available:
(Be sure to follow our TPT store to get notifications of when new products are released and sales!)

The preschool packet is FULL of skills to help preschoolers get ready for Kindergarten!
Some of the skills included in the May packet cover sight words, color words, beginning sounds, 
phonics: word families, identifying shapes, patterns, number sequencing, number sense, measurement, positional words, life cycles and so much more!

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