Archive | February 2017

2017-2018 curriculum pick, aka the award goes to…

It has begun. The quest for the perfect boxed curriculum, or at least an entire curriculum from one place that comes in one box. I need to think about shipping costs.

First I look at what our needs are. Peanut is very hands-on, and learns best by either doing things hands-on, or watching a video. He’s not able to write yet, so workbooks are pretty useless. He is barely starting to read, about the equivalent of a public school kindergarten child in their 3rd month of school.

I need a curriculum that is fun, but I also don’t want to be scrambling for supplies that I may not find on the island. I also need a curriculum that either has 144 days, or can be adapted to 144 – 150 days. Yes, we could go monday to friday, 180 days, but I know we’d probably burn out very fast.

So in my quest, I eliminated any highly religious curricula (sorry My Father’s World, Sonlight, and Lifepac!). I also eliminated textbook heavy curricula. This left me with Bookshark Pre-k, Moving Beyond The Page 4-6, Build Your Library K, Timberdoodle grade 1 (customized), Five in a Row, and one I create myself from Rainbow Resource.

After going through the samples of each, and actually planning out a typical week from each of them, I think I’ve found my match! But before I say what it is, here’s what I found out about each one of these.

Bookshark Pre-K:


  • This is a literary rich curriculum! From Winnie the Pooh to Richard Scarry, the book selections are fantastic. I love every one of them.
  • The daily routine is easy. You read your child 2 to 3 short stories from beautiful picture books. You also read a couple of pages of a child’s atlas.
  • For Science you read from The Berenstain Bears’ Big Book of Science and Nature.
  • Bookwork consists of the optional “Developing the Early Learner” 4 volume set.
  • It’s open and go! My week is all planned for me!


  • Not very many hands on activities. This means I’ll have to turn to Pinterest and other sources to add some art and craft activities to reinforce what Peanut is learning. This will definitely be time consuming to find and organize the crafts, but I do love the literature so it may be a small price to pay.
  • Math, science, and language arts are weak. I would have to order the Science K and also the K Language arts and readers. I would use Mathematical Reasoning Kindergarten or try Math U See Primer again.

Moving Beyond the Page 4-6: Wow! What an amazing curriculum!Age 4-5


  • It has 30 units, so this means I can spread them out over 150 days without any effort!
  • The literature is amazing! From old favorites like Blueberries for Sal, to modern ones like A is for Musk Ox, the book selection is fantastic (except one book, see cons for that)
  • Crafts! It is heavy on crafts, and the best part is that they supply almost everything I would need from yarn to craft paper! This means Peanut’s fine motor skills will get a great workout.
  • Two versions of activities – one for children that can write, and one for those who can’t. If your child cannot print a letter, they suggest things like trace the letter in a cookie sheet filled with shaving cream, rice, or salt. They have so many great ideas on how to encourage handwriting without even using a pencil!
  • It is unit based, so one week we learn about Musk Oxen and their habitat, and next week we learn about trees and their life cycles. It’s a great mix of learning and exploring our world and everything in it!
  • It’s almost open and go! I would have to tweak it a bit to turn it into our 4 day week, but it would be very easy to do!


  • I would have to find a suitable replacement for one book, “Millions of Cats”. It is one of those morbid books that I can’t bring myself to read to Peanut. It is about a greedy couple who want a cat, so they adopt millions of cats. They only want one, so the cats begin eating each other until one remains. Ewww. Just NO!!! I’m sure I can find a sweet story about cats that doesn’t involve cat cannibalism!
  • Math is weak. I’d have to supplement it with Mathematical Reasoning, Math Mammoth, or even Math U See Primer.
  • Phonics is weak, so I’d continue with The Reading Lesson and Hooked on Phonics.

Build Your Library K: This curriculum is excellent and very literature rich!


  • The book selection is awesome! Over 30 classics and modern well loved books.
  • a 30 week schedule, which means I can easily adapt it for 36 weeks (144-150 days).
  • It touches on all the continents and explores what life is like for different children of the world.
  • The manual is a PDF and costs under $25!
  • It has some arts and crafts to keep Peanut’s hands busy and help strengthen those muscles.
  • It incorporates other ideas like cooking to round out a fun week of learning.


  • The books need to be ordered from Amazon, and some are out of print. This makes it a bit more expensive if you want the out of print copies since they sell for a ridiculous price.
  • Math is weak. I’d have to supplement with Mathematical Reasoning, Math Mammoth, or even Math U See Primer.
  • Phonics is weak, so I’d continue with The Reading Lesson and Hooked on Phonics.
  • Not very many hands on activities. This means I’ll have to turn to Pinterest and other sources to add some art and craft activities to reinforce what Peanut is learning. This will definitely be time consuming to find and organize the crafts, but I do love the literature so it may be a small price to pay.

Timberdoodle grade 1 (customized): I’m currently using Timberdoodle Kindergarten Secular customized curriculum and love it for the most part.


  • All in one curriculum that covers all the required subjects
  • lots of hands on games, science experiments, art, and STEM


  • Very workbook intense. There are 8 workbooks in their standard grade 1 secular curriculum. Peanut cannot write yet, so they would either be omitted from the kit, or would sit on the shelf until he can do them.
  • For the amount of money we’d spend, we would basically be buying a year of toys and games, and no real learning opportunities.
  • No literature is included, so we’d have to either rely on the library or purchase books to read.

Five in a Row: Although this is a religious curriculum, it is very easy to remove the bible and religious content.Five in a Row Book Set


  • Unit based, and excellent book choices from Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel to How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World, it would make a fun year of great books
  • It covers Social Studies, Math, Literature, Art, Science, Human Relationships
  • It is easy to implement since you choose one social studies, language arts, art, math, and science a day.
  • It has many hands-on arts and crafts


  • There are a few religious books (ie. Clown of God) that I would have to skip
  • I’d have to order the literature from Rainbow Resource, but they would be one shipment.
  • Math is weak. I’d have to supplement with Mathematical Reasoning, Math Mammoth, or even Math U See Primer.
  • Phonics is weak, so I’d continue with The Reading Lesson and Hooked on Phonics.

So what did I choose? The great debate is truly between Moving Beyond the Page, Five in a Row, and Bookshark.

Timberdoodle lost because of the heavy writing component, making this curriculum almost useless for a few more years.

Build your Library would win out for literature alone, but it falls down on hands-on activities. I would be willing to make it work though, but I don’t like the amount of out-of-print books.

Bookshark falls down on the lack of hands-on activities too, but I will probably use the level 5-7 after this next year is done, since the 5-7 level has lots of arts, crafts etc. Peanut just isn’t ready for the level 5-7 literature yet, or I’d definitely use this one for our 2017-2018 year. I’m actually still considering the pre-k level if Peanut is able to write by June or July.

Memoria press was another that was in the running, very much a fantastic literature based curriculum, I’d just remove the bible and religious content of it. In order to have it work well, it requires the basic curriculum, the suppliementary read aloud books, and the supplementary science books.This brings the curriculum to a very expensive price that I can’t justify!

So the winner for 2017-2018 is Moving Beyond the Page!!!! (insert fanfare and flying confetti here!). The runner up is Bookshark (going to first place if Peanut can write by June), and third place is Build Your Library tied with Five in a Row.

Now where’s my wine, strawberries, and chocolate? After all this work I deserve it! hahaha!!!!  Seriously, this is going to be an awesome year, I want to start it now!!!!


It’s been a painful month

hI haven’t posted in a while, I’ve been battling with a toothache that has lead to a root canal! Yikes! I’ve been to the dentist three times already, and after a month it’s almost done. Yesterday was the first day in a month that I haven’t been in excruciating pain! Next week I go back for my forth and final time for the insertion of the post and crown.

I’ve been living off of Ramen noodles, soup, bananas, and all sorts of mushy foods for a month. I’m craving a great big, juicy, sloppy, messy burger so badly! I’ve lost a bit of weight, but not really enough to notice. haha!

Homeschooling throughout this pain had been a challenge. Some days we accomplished everything, other days we only got the basics done. A few days we just sat in our PJ’s and relaxed, but we made up the time later in the week. I absolutely love the flexibility of homeschooling!

Peanut has been enjoying his time on the computer, he’s become quite the Minecraft expert! I was worried at first about all the time he has put into this game, but then I realized it can be a wonderful learning tool too! He’s learning physics, botany, math, and art, and the best part is he doesn’t even realize it!

He has built pirate ships, houses, pyramids, tree houses, and yesterday he was working on a spaceship! His vocabulary has exploded again, and words like “enormous” “combined” “cobble stones” “environment” and “habitat” have become routine in his ongoing play by play commentary about what he’s currently building!

I’ve been getting ready for my eldest stepson’s wedding. I volunteered to make and decorate cookies for the wedding. I found a store that carries the decorator tips and couplers for the icing, and I may end up getting a few more! Of course the heart shaped cookie cutter I want is sold out (thank you, valentine’s day, haha) but I did find a store that is selling a 102 cookie cutter set that has 6 types of hearts in it! Meringue powder seems to be scarce on the island right now, but I’m hoping that the stores will get new stock soon. I could make the icing with egg whites instead, but I’d prefer the meringue powder. I have to start baking the 120 – 150 cookies starting next week.

 My oldest boys also turned 24 today! They have become such amazing, kind, loving, funny, responsible, handsome men. They are a true joy in my life, and I’m so lucky and proud to be their mom!

So now to say goodnight, since my youngest son wants a bagel with smoked salmon (but he insists he doesn’t like fish!), and I think I hear a cup of coffee with a dash of vanilla calling my name!

Journal and planner addiction.

Image may contain: coffee cup and drink

I may need help! I love journals, planners, diaries. There is something about the possibilities in the blank pages, and the feeling of accomplishment when looking through the written pages already done. I love the illusion that my life is in some sort of order!

I have a planner for Peanut’s tentative homeschool lessons that I plan out every week, another for his accomplished lessons that I record daily after we do them. Why two you may ask? Because what I plan to do, and what we actually accomplish are two different things! For instance, this week was Peanut’s 6th birthday, so we took the day off. I had planned to make up the lost day on Friday. Well, my root canal that was scheduled for 3:30 pm yesterday was bumped up to 11 am. This meant that we lost another day of school! I’ll try to cram 3 days of work into 2 days, but in the end, we may be doing a couple of subjects on the weekend. If I had used only one planner, there would be lots of erasing or white out, and that would drive my perfectionism into high gear. I’d hate the planner, hate the mess, hate the reminder that I couldn’t do what I set out to do when I wanted to do it!

I also have a planner for myself, where I keep track of life events, meals, daily chores, and even keep track of my hydration (yep, I do try to get at least 5 glasses of water a day, tea counts though!).

In the photo at the top is the beginnings of my mini personal planner. Sometimes I have to make my own planners because this island is pretty limited in what is available, and shipping one in costs more than the planner itself! I’ve made four so far, three full sized – one is actually Peanut’s tentative lesson planner, and one half size. I print out the year’s worth of pages, cut them if needed, punch a ton of holes down the side, and bind it with the spiral binder from previously used spiral notebooks that would otherwise be thrown away. Necessity is the mother of invention! hahaha

I have another planner for the house. It has a cleaning schedule, to do lists, menu planning, bill tracker, medicine tracker, pet tracker, seasonal cleaning, repairs, and all the wonderful stuff that is included with taking care of a home and a car. I don’t use it as much, maybe once or twice a month, but it’s come in handy.

Then there is my journal. It’s a place for all my “too afraid to say out loud” stuff. My dreams, my desires, my fears, my failures and accomplishments. I tend to go in spurts writing in it. My current one is a small, spiral bound lined notebook, and I hate it! I’m a lefty, so it’s very hard to write on the right side pages, and the smallness of it doesn’t go well with the normal sized writing lines. I tend to use them as a guide, but will write two lines in one of the line spaces (hope this makes sense!) so it looks messy. I don’t like messy!

And last, but not least, is my writing journal. I use a full sized binder for this one. I don’t like the loose leaf paper though, it’s too thin and reminds me too much of grade school, so I print my own lined paper to use. In this one I try to write every day. I use writing prompts if nothing comes to mind. Why a writing journal?  Because I love the written word. I love how thoughts can flow, meld together and actually create emotions just by writing and reading them! I’ve always wanted to be an author, to write an amazing book, but in my heart I know for so many, many reasons I never will. I’m not important enough, I don’t have anything new to say. But I do like to write. So the writing journal fulfills my love of writing, even if it’s just for me (and the occasional peek from Hubby!)

Oh and I almost forgot, I’m also on a quest for the perfect pen, pencils, colored pencils, markers… I write very tiny, so I love a very fine pen, but haven’t found the perfect one yet. I’ve tried ink, gels, even fountain pens. I like ink best, and there are a few gel pens that are acceptable. I like these Pilot gel pens, but I am still looking for extra fine ones!

Sometimes I really miss Walmart and Staples for all the easy access to supplies. But there is something to be said for being able to write “we went to the beach today, it’s snowing back home, but here it’s 36 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. Water lapping at my toes, and Peanut is happily splashing in the waves as they wash over his feet. Hubby relaxing with a smile on his face, not a care in the world. Island life at it’s best!” If this means sacrificing a shopping spree at a department store, I’m all for it.