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Middlebury Interactive Languages

 Middlebury Interactive Languages Review
For the past 6 weeks, I have been reviewing Middlebury Interactive Languages, a digital online foreign language program, with Malachi, my 5th grader. He was very interested in taking one of the French Courses, so I selected Elementary French 1, Grades 3-5 as my first choice. This is a one semester course, and we received a 6 month access.

Ask Mr. Bear {B4FI♥AR}

~Bo is 4 years, 8 months~

Ask Mr. Bear, written in 1932, is about a little boy named Danny who is trying to find the perfect birthday present for his mother. He asks the hen who offers eggs, the goose who offers feathers, the goat who offers milk, the cow who offers milk and cream, and so on. But his mother already has those things. Then the cow suggests he go ask Mr. Bear who whispers in his ear what Danny can give his mother. Can you guess what it is?

We rowed this our first week of school and also the week of my birthday.

I wasn't really ready to start school, and didn't have anything special planned for our first day, so a fun row was in order, and I had Bo help me plan a birthday-back-to-school party for the end of the week.

Here Elli is reading the story to Bo, and he is putting the story sequence strips in order (from Homeschool Creations).

Then he did the "Where's the Egg" book and he placed the eggs correctly. 

I cut it out and stapled it just in time for him to read it to his dad at lunch. He loved this. 

"What is in the box" shape recognition. 

What's funny is I was planning to focus on Eliana and Malachi this morning, but Bo asked where his school was. Love that and I was thankful I had printed these while I was planning. 

Then we moved on to All About Reading Pre-reading. Bo started this program on the young side, but we took it slow and just worked on capital letters and the pre-reading skills in the first 26 lessons during his 1st preschool year. This year, for his 2nd preschool year, we will do lower case and maybe sounds, depending on how well he grasps those pre-reading skills. He knows all of his letters and sounds, but All About Reading is much more than that and I don't want to rush it like I did with Eliana

We did lowercase b today. (We did lowercase a with our last row, but I must not have photographed it). We couldn't find Ziggy, so Bo had a great idea to use his Lovey. 

I am still letting him work right in the book.

In our last lesson, Bo worked on finding the beginning sound of words that Ziggy left out. "Once I met a ferocious -iger." You mean tiger! What sound did Ziggy leave out? /t/ We continued this pattern for a cute short story and Bo learned to isolate the beginning sound of a word. 

Today, I read two sets of words and Bo had to tell which word is longer: box, beetle. We played this game with several words and it was a little hard for Bo, so we clapped a few of the words (learned in an earlier lesson). I really love this program. 


As I mentioned in my curriculum post, Bo is doing Sonlight P4/5 along with the last bit of Before Five in a Row for his 4K year, and he was so excited to get started on Developing the Early Learner. I pulled out Eliana's DEL books and Bo carried one around for a good week and worked in it on his own before I finally ordered them (from Rainbow Resource for a much better price, even with my Sonlight discount). 

We also completed the read-alouds from Week 1 of Sonlight P 4/5 this week - as reading before bedtime. I  this! I think reading aloud at bedtime is the perfect time, especially if I am diffusing essential oils. All three younger kids piled onto my bed to listen.  After reading Bo's books, I read a chapter to Malachi and Eliana while Bo drifted off to sleep. It's not always that easy, but if I give him a bedtime bath, brush teeth and jammy him up, which honestly is sometimes really hard by the end of the day, and then oil him up, it makes bedtime so much easier so worth the effort. 

Farm Animals

This was a perfect row for farm animal books and a field trip to a small local farm to visit friends. They had us over for a really wonderful dinner of marinated goat (my first time and it was so good), rice, roasted veggies, and fresh goats milk. So delicious and a wonderful time.

This is the same family we visited during my day in the life and my friend remembered the challah bread we brought last time, so when I asked what I could bring, the answer was my challah bread! I haven't baked it since I started Trim Healthy Mama, it was hot, and more than I could manage with a shopping trip at the beginning of the week to get the boys ready for school, so I brought three baguette loaves which were not very good (Costco bake at home), so when we row How to Make an Apple Pie and see the World, I will have to make challah and visit again.

These are all books that I found at our local library. Farm was my least favorite, all the others were great. 

Collecting eggs - an evening chore.

"Good evening Mrs. Goat," said Bo, "Can you give me something for my mother's birthday?" 

"Moo moo," said the Cow. "I can give you some milk and cream." 

Each time we walked to visit a new animal, Bo would disappear and I had to call him back. And each time he disappeared he was in with the chickens. He loves chickens! When I asked him why, he said because they are small and he can hold them.

For our community theme with Sonlight, we read:

Things People Do - The Farmer

Usborne's First Thousand Words - The Farm

Usborne's First Thousand Words - Special Days, The Party

We have some special holidays coming up - the Feast of Trumpets (which has now passed) and the Feast of Tabernacles so instead of a Feast chain like we do every year, we filled a bag with Hershey Kisses and get to eat one Kiss per day as a countdown to the Feast. 

And Bo practiced counting by 5s.

My Birthday

I asked Bo to help plan a birthday party and he thought we should have:

  • flowers
  • balloon
  • cake
  • bear hug ♥

Card from Elli. ♥

I made the best Big Chocolate Birthday Cake by the Pioneer Woman. It was 4 layers and heavenly! The frosting is not too sweet which made this cake perfect. Since starting Trim Healthy Mama, I don't indulge often in sweets, but this was fun and worth it, and I wasn't worse for the wear - at least not a week later. :)

Birthday Books

I loved all of these books and I think Bo did too. A Birthday for Bear was a about a persistent mouse who wants to bless Bear with a birthday party, but Bear does not like birthdays. Some Birthday! is by Patricia Polacco (author of Mrs. Katz and Tush). It is a fun book that kept the kids on the edge of their seat. The last book was a book of birthday poems - just fun to read. 

Of course, we talked about being a cheerful giver and when I read Ask Mr. Bear for the first time, Bo's eyes lit up and he gave me the biggest bear hug. 

Thinking Spot

We did the lesson from the manual on problem solving and I talked to Bo about how "plans fail for lack of counsel but with many advisors they succeed." (Proverbs 15:22)

When Bo is upset, he is in the habit of running outside. When he does this, I'm concerned for his safety, so I made a thinking spot for him, and I'm working with him to run to his thinking spot to think about his problems. He loved this! I still need to put up a curtain and make it comfy in there (our school closet that I tidied), and he doesn't always remember yet, but as soon as I can I'd like to get him a bean bag or big comfy pillow and hang a curtain over the doorway. Right now when he runs outside, I take his little hand and walk with him to his thinking spot and sit with him for a few minutes and talk.

Ask Mr. Bear is a Before Five in a Row selection. There are a lot of Fun Things to do with B4FIAR, but the most important thing is to cultivate a love for learning. ♥

The Before FI♥AR Link-Up is currently closed,
but you are welcome to visit to see what others did with Ask Mr. Bear.
Thank you to those who have linked up over the years! 

Wonky & Tapple for a Fun Family Game Night {Crew Review}

 USAopoly Review

We have a fun little tradition in our home called Box #1 (based on a game show). My husband and I created the tradition to try to get our boys to play more board games and watch less TV. We filled a big box with board games, toys, and even an occasional family movie, and every Friday night when my boys asked to watch a movie, I'd say. "We can watch a movie, or play What's Behind Box #1." They always went for Box #1!

Gone are the days of television in our home, but in are the days of computervision. My kids can easily get addicted to watching movies and shows on the computer or playing games on their favorite websites, so I had to put an end to that this summer. I put the computer and iPad away and eventually the kids stopped asking and started PLAYING! It was wonderful to see. So when USAopoly offered the Crew two games to review, I was excited to add Wonky: The Crazy Cubes Card Game and Tapple: Fast Word Fun for Everyone and pick up the tradition of Box #1.
USAopoly Review

2015 - 2016 Homeschool Pre-K Curriculum {Boaz}

Bo is on his pre-kindergarten (4K) year and I have what I think will be a wonderful year of learning planned for him...


I will work with Bo on his handwriting this year because he likes to write. Bo is still using the Letter School app for learning to form letters and numbers.  I printed Confessions 4K Curriculum A-Z Handwriting and 1-20 Handwriting worksheets for him to use to help him put pencil to paper in practicing letter formation. 

I wasn't sure I if I would use this for Bo's Pre-K or 5K year, but as we approached the end of the summer, it just made sense. I am super happy I decided to go with it and so is he. He loves to read and surprises me with how much he comprehends. P 4/5 is perfect - he's ready for longer chapters but still 4 so loves the short stories, poems, and rhymes with pictures that are just a fun part of childhood. 

You can see our adventures our first time through P 4/5 in my Sonlight tab on the blog.  

Bible (Family Time Bible)


Language Arts & Readiness Skills

World Cultures

Several of these books will be tied in with Before FIAR books for a community theme, so I won't be following the schedule per say. I will skip ahead to tie them in and then skip them when I get to them, but otherwise I will be following the P 4/5 schedule. 


We've read through much of the Big Book of Science and Nature, but it's such a fun and easy to read book that teaches science in a fun way that it's worth reading through it all again.  

Nature Study

I have started reading the Thornton Burgess books for nature study. We started with the Old Mother West Wind collection, and will read the Favorite Animal Stories next, followed by The Burgess Animal Book (affiliate links) if we have time. We read one chapter a night most school nights. 

Before Five in a Row {B4FIAR}

I started rowing with Bo when he was three (15 books that are linked here) and these are the 5 books we have left to row this year... plus one more not pictured (The Red Carpet). 


I may not do a formal math curriculum with Bo for Pre-K, or I may start a program during the 2nd half of his Pre-K year after he turns 5 mid year - we'll see. Bo is naturally interested in math and natural teaching moments come up almost daily. He loves to count, can count to 100+ and read numbers up to 100+. He knows the names and value of coins and has me count his money with him as often as I am willing. I'm currently teaching him addition with the counting on strategy. Math has come so naturally and easy with him that I'm afraid to ruin that with a math book at this point. 


Bo is an advanced chess player and is playing in our co-op chess class this quarter and loving it! He's a super fast thinker (less than 10 seconds per move) and has good strategy. He's pretty good for his age, and I love that it helps develop cognitive and critical thinking skills. He has plenty of opportunities to play, and if he doesn't have a willing partner, he will play against himself, or play at SparkChess.com or on the iPad. 

I feel like this is a very doable plan and feel good about it. I'll share our first row of the school year next week explaining a little more how this all played out our first week. We have nearly finished three weeks of P4/5 and have rowed two books since school started, plus some fall learning (apples and leaves) for an early learner's class I am teaching at co-op. So, while it's been a very busy fall already with soccer, co-op and planning for the fall feasts, it's all worked out and when life slows down mid October (I'm ready for slow), it should be an enjoyable year. :) 

YWAM Heroes of History {Crew Review}

YWAM Publishing Review
I'm a big fan of YWAM Publishing and their Christian Heroes: Then & Now series, so I was excited to learn that they have a Heroes of History series as well as Unit Study Curriculum Guides.

YWAM Publishing Review

I was very happy to have the opportunity to review Benjamin Franklin: Live Wire and the Benjamin Franklin Unit Study to tie in with our American History studies.

Super Teacher Worksheets {Crew Review}

Super Teacher Worksheets Review
As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I had the opportunity to review an Individual Membership to Super Teacher Worksheets (a $19.95 value).

The Quiet Way Home {B4FI♥AR}

~Boaz is 4 years, 8 months~

The Quiet Way Home is about a little girl and her grandfather as they walk along the quieter paths which take them past a chopping hoe, the shirr of grasshoppers, and the shushing of water sprinklers on their way home from school.

I requested this out-of-print book via inter-library-loan and then was happy to discover that the story is available in the App store. There are a handful of out-of-print Five in a Row books that I would love to have, but I'm not willing to pay hefty prices for them! 


The focus of our Bible time was having a quiet heart to hear God. This was more for me as I came to understand that having a quiet heart means not being too busy to slow down and listen to God. 


I did my best to follow the advice from the manual for this lesson and Bo painted these pictures with the colors he made. 



The Very Quiet Cricket was a fun book for learning about insects noted for their noises, like grasshoppers, crickets, bees and more. Mommies Say Shhh! was a fun book about animal sounds and of course what mommies say. 

We played Mystery Sounds, a listening game, from Language and Thinking by Ruth Beechick. I played this with Eliana when we rowed Lentil and Malachi, too.

Bo had to guess what each of the sounds were.

From the Our Senses unit in Science Unit Studies for Homeschoolers, we did the lesson on sound.

I told Bo that inside his ear is a tiny structure called an ear drum that works a lot like a drum we make music with, and then I made a drum by stretching a balloon (after I blew it up to stretch it out and cut the neck off) over a tin can. I put a few pieces of rice on top and had Bo tap on the drum and watch as the rice vibrated. I explained that an ear drum vibrates like this drum and sends a message to the brain which tells us what the sound is.

Then I recorded different sounds from around the house and had Bo guess what each sound was. This was hard! The hair dryer sounded a lot like the Vitamix. He got about half of them with Eliana's help and I forgot some of them. If I do this again, I will say what the sound is before recording the next sound.

We went on a Sound Walk to the library to see how many different sounds we could hear.

We heard cars driving by, a loud window air conditioner, kids yelling while playing at the park, wind rustling the leaves, a door opening, the squeak of the book drop, a nice lady, and more car sounds. 

On our way home, Eliana said, "Let's go the quiet way home. Not the way where the cars go, but the way where the grass grows." :)

We went on a late Summer Nature Walk - Senses Scavenger Hunt from the Handbook of Nature Study Blog.

Things we saw: a butterfly, a red leaf, a brown grasshopper, three different shades of green, a bird that is flying, berries on a bush, a weed that is taller than Bo...

Things we heard: a bird chirping, a breeze rustling the grass, a bubbling brook, and a grasshopper rubbing his wings.

Bo holding a grasshopper. 

Things we felt: something hot from the sun (a sign post), something cool (the breeze), something prickly, a smooth stick, and a rough rock. 

Things we smelled: a wildflower, the river, and the grass.  

Community Theme from Sonlight Core P 4/5

I'll be focusing on a community theme with Sonlight this year for Bo's 4K year and have several rows planned to tie in this theme in a fun way.

For The Quiet Way Home, we read:

  • Things People Do and learned about "Teachers"
  • Usborne's First Thousand Words in English and explored the path the little girl and her grandfather took from the school yard on their walk home by reading: "At School" and "The Street."

We play "I Spy" games with both these books, which Bo loves.

The Quiet Way Home is a Before Five in a Row selection. There are a lot of Fun Things to do with B4FIAR, but the most important thing is to cultivate a love for learning. ♥

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