Out with the old, in with the new.

Due to some financial craziness that’s happened, and about to happen, my plans for Peanut’s grade 1 curriculum just went down the drain. Bookshark level 5-7 is now only a sweet dream, and hopefully we can either get it much later in the year, or start next year with bookshark level 6-8. (insert heavy sigh and one small tear in my eye!)

So now I am scrambling to use as much free or inexpensive curricula as I can manage. I am actually lucky enough to have an extensive collection of various pdf textbooks and workbooks saved from various resources, and I’ve tended to jump on “limited time free” and “Save over 75%” offers in the past.

It took about a week to go through what I have, what I need, and what Peanut needs to learn this coming year. I have pretty much gathered together an amazing curriculum that cost me next to nothing except some printer paper, printer ink (we have an epson ecotank, so this is a beast of a workhorse!) and now I have to gather up some binders and a couple of notebooks, and we’re ready to go.

So here is our curriculum for 2018-2019:

Math: Singapore math U.S. edition 1A and 1B   or   Math Mammoth 1

Primary Math US 1A Set | Main photo (Cover)cover for Math Mammoth Grade 1-A Complete Worktext

Language arts:

Learning to read: Reading A-Z. We’ll start with aa readers and work our way up.Untitled.jpg

Phonics: Explode the Code book 1,2 and 3

Explode the Code Books 1-8 (including 1/2s) (2nd Edition) | Main photo (Cover)

Handwriting: Evan Moor Daily Handwriting

Daily Handwriting Practice - Traditional Manuscript | Main photo (Cover)

Spelling: Spelling You See ‘A’ (it’s been sitting on our shelf collecting dust for 2 years!)

Spelling You See Level A: Listen & Write Universal Set | Main photo (Cover)

History: Story of the World Volume 1 with Activity Book

Story of the World Volume 1 Complete Package | Main photo (Cover)

Social Studies: DK Nature Encyclopedia (we’ll do 2-4 pages a week and research one animal from the page, including habitat and life cycle

Science: Elemental Science (another treasure that was sitting on our shelf collecting dust)

Exploring Science Teachers Guide | Main photo (Cover)Exploring Science Student Pages | Main photo (Cover)

I won’t worry about art since both our history and science have a lot of crafts to do.

So now that I’ve got a plan, and I’ve scheduled out the difficult stuff (history, science, social studies), it’s time to grab a coffee, some chocolate, and pat myself on the back for a job well done!

We still have 8 more weeks of Moving Beyond the Page 4-5, but we’ll begin this curriculum on Monday. We are ready for this new adventure.

Grade 1 here we come!


A crazy month…

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December wasn’t a very kind month. In fact, if there was an option of a “do-over”, that reset button would have been pushed flat to the ground. It was that kind of month.

We had a huge scare. My hubby’s father was hospitalized and nearly lost his life. Acute limb ischemia, then a heart attack while on clot busters. He eventually did lose his leg from just above the knee. He was in the hospital during Christmas, so aside from the Christmas morning ritual of kids opening gifts, there was really no celebration. In fact, there were prayers to keep our loved one alive and help him get strong enough to have surgery on his leg so he could finally come home. December 30 he finally had the leg amputated, and after a short recovery, he’s now home.

Then came the news that a very dear friend from my youth went to hospital on Christmas day. He had emergency brain surgery 2 days later. His personality has now permanently changed. And he has 1-2 years left. Terminal cancer.

My anxiety disorder has flared up. Sometimes the stress seems unbearable. I know an outsider would see a calm, patient, loving woman who probably could take on the world. If they spend even an hour in my head, they would come away shaking with fear and wonder how I even make it through a day. I’m trying to learn new ways to cope.

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With the new year, I decided to begin a new way of using my daily planner. I found a website about a happiness journal. It has 365 writing prompts. Questions like “who made you smile today, and why?” “What’s your favorite meal?” they may seem kind of random and sometimes strange, but after doing this for 2 weeks, I already look forward to spending some time every day doing my “happiness” writing! I also decorate my planner every week with a new theme. I love this one with owls!

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Our homeschool curriculum is changing a bit too. I’ve noticed that the past while, Moving Beyond the Page hasn’t had much in the way of Science or phonics. It’s mainly been art (which is GREAT for Peanut’s fine motor skills), basic math (which Peanut is beyond, but we do use it as a review), and handwriting (which is too difficult for Peanut, so I’ve had to improvise). So I sat down over the Christmas break and really looked at what’s working, what isn’t, and what we need to change.

Math: we went back to Math U See Primer. Peanut was having too much trouble with McRuffy math – the writing was too much, and the games, although they’re fun, he wasn’t really ready for them yet. He has trouble understanding the rules. For instance, if we were playing snakes and ladders, if he rolled a 6, he’d go to the tile marked 6, not move his game piece forward 6. That’s fine for the first roll, but the second roll, if he rolled a 10, he’d insist on going on the 10 tile. I think we need a game like candyland to teach him how board games work.

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Math U See Primer: What a difference a year makes! He loves it! He’s counting by 10’s! He’s learning to count by 2’s. He can tell me what any number is up to 999! He can add numbers up to 20. The blocks help tremendously, but I have to make a deal with him – if he does his work, he gets 10 minutes after math to play with the blocks.

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Phonics: I’m finding that Peanut needs a bit more practice with phonics and sight words. I’m going to go back to basics. Progressive Phonics beginner phonics. We’ll do it all again, this time we’ll use the lesson plan, flash cards, word wall, activity sheets, and handwriting practice. We’ll use his letter tiles to practice spelling out the words of the day. I’ve been using Treasures grade 1 by McGraw Hill, but it’s getting too difficult for Peanut to keep up with all the new sight words. We’ll shelve it for now and come back to it in a few months.

Beginner Phonics Book 1

Science: I stumbled across Magic School Bus Science in 180 days! Oh what an amazing curriculum, and totally free! Well, free except the stuff I need to buy for the experiments. And yes, there are experiments! I’m condensing it so we end by June, but that’s easy enough. Instead of watching the episode one day, experiment the next, we’ll combine the two days to one. Easy peasy.

The Magic School Bus in 180 Days Free Lesson Plans!  Download Your Printable Copy Now!

Speaking of Easy Peasy – I have been very tempted to use the totally free curriculum called Easy Peasy Homeschool. It really looks wonderful. I appreciate how well put together it us, from preschool to high school. It’s complete. It even has foreign languages. Phys ed. Health. Computers. Thinking Skills. So why am I not using it? I really want to. I think this will have to wait for another post, dedicated to this topic. It’s a huge bag of pro’s and con’s. But I really like it. We may eventually use it, but not now.

Till next time, may your coffee be strong and your chocolate sweet.




When you find a hidden gem…

Peanut struggles with handwriting. He does well when he can write big, but our curriculum printouts have letters that are just too small for his ability. After feeling his frustration for a couple of months, I scoured the net and all my resources on the computer. I stumbled upon a sweet little nugget that I got my hands on two years ago and set aside till he was ready for it.

K4/K5 Kindergarten Curriculum - PDF - Click Image to Close

I got this from Confessions of a homeschooler and really took a good look at what it offered. I was amazed at the quality of this curriculum, and it had the one thing I have been searching for: letter writing practice with BIG letters!


This was exactly what I’ve been looking for! As an added bonus, it has sight word practice, early math, handwriting, spelling using letter tiles, and so much more! Even though it’s a 34 week curriculum and we only have 18 weeks left of Moving Beyond the Page, I plan to add this curriculum onto our workload. It is really amazing and worth the money! Yes, it’s for ages 4-5, but as any homeschooler knows, age is just a suggestion. Some kids may breeze through this at age 2, and others may struggle with it at age 10.

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Peanut actually managed to write legibly for the first time!

So this past month was a bit difficult. Our computer decided to overheat and fry the video card. The hard drive also was affected and had to be wiped, but thankfully all our homeschooling documents were backed up first!

We have had fun doing our unit on owls, Halloween, and the Seasons of Arnold’s Apple Tree. The unit on Thanksgiving was a bust though – we ended up not reading the book (too “american” for us since Peanut is half caribbean and half Canadian) and just did our own thing.

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For the seasons/apple tree unit we got messy, had fun, and even made an apple pie!

Next week should be fun too – the topic is DINOSAURS!


There was how many???

Week 8 brought us hundreds of cats, thousands of cats… 

 To be completely honest, this book has been my least favorite so far. As an adult, I have issues with a lot of the story, and I don’t know why it actually win a children’s literature award. An elderly couple wish to adopt the prettiest cat in the world because they are bored and lonely. The man sets out and finds millions of cats. He brings them home, and the woman asks the cats which one is the most pretty. They all think they are the prettiest, and fight each other. They end up eating each other (cannibalism in a children’s book, really???). I modified it so that they all ran away.

Peanut, on the other hand, really liked the book. And in the end, that’s what counts.

I also added a few extra things to this week’s lessons. We are using a few levelled readers, and some worksheets to go with them. 

 Peanut is learning sight words, so I’m trying to introduce two new words a week. For week 8 the words were “pretty” and “my”. The let’s were c and b.

Peanut had a great week for fine motor skills. He cut and pasted these all on his own, even making sure when he was gluing them down that the pictures Sat in the correct direction!

I’ve noticed he’s Peanut is having some problems with math again. McRuffy relies heavily on the number line method for adding and subtracting. He’s just so confused. This is where the flexibility of homeschooling comes into play. Last year we used a math curriculum that was a big failure for us. I had set it aside since Peanut was overly frustrated with it. As I was trying to figure out how to help Peanut understand the concept of addition and subtraction, I noticed on the top shelf was our failed curriculum. I figured it’s been almost a year since I put it away, maybe Peanut is ready for it.

We started at lesson 12, where it begins to teach addition. All I can say is what a difference a year makes! Peanut understood! I got a front seat to Peanut’s “aha” moment. This is one of the best rewards of homeschooling!!!

This week is our scheduled week off, and I’ll be taking that time to get some Christmas gifts made. I also need to find Peanut a suitable replacement for the US thanksgiving unit, since the Canadian thanksgiving revolves around the fall harvest and not around pilgrims and bloodshed. 

So until next time, have a great week!


This week was all about insects, bugs, and creepy crawlies!

What makes an insect an insect? Is a worm or a spider an insect? What about an ant?

This week, our book was called Fireflies, written and illustrated by Julie Brinckloe.

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We really enjoyed this book, and not to spoil it, it did bring up some concepts we had to discuss.

This week we learned that all insects have 2 sets of wings, 6 legs, antenna, and 3 body parts (head, abdomen, and thorax). Fireflies, ants, grasshoppers, ladybugs, dragonflies, butterflies are all insects. Spiders, worms, and millipedes are bugs, but not insects!

We worked on the word “said” and the letter “F”. Peanut can now reliably sight read all the 6 words we’ve learned so far: he, said, that, go, little, and you! He also can identify all the letters of the alphabet, and can identify all the numbers from 0-20, although when he recites them, he does skip a few!

Some of the fun things we’ve done this week are making a firefly from an egg carton, decorating a bug jar and trying to catch bugs to study (but we had no luck, it’s rainy season so all the bugs were hiding and staying dry!), watching videos about insects, and lots of coloring!

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Here you can see Peanut’s firefly. He painted the thorax yellow (and painted me, himself, and even his dog!), attached pipe cleaners for legs and antennas, glued on eyes, and even made wings and glued them on! This craft was a definite hit, and I appreciated that I only had to provide the egg carton and glue – everything else was in the kit!

For math, we worked on counting to 100, used pattern tiles to make pictures, and on Friday we played a game. Peanut is even starting to know the days of the week by heart – although for math we say them every day, I stumbled across a website that said to use the tune of “the Aadams family” song, and it’s been working great!

Next week is our week off, so I’m hoping to take that time to get a bit more organized both for school and our house. Or start working on Christmas gifts.



Homeschooling sometimes means we still learn even if we’re sick with pneumonia…

On the last Friday of our week off Peanut was sick. It wasn’t a good week to begin with. We had started it by attending his Godmother’s funeral. She was only 38 years old. Leukemia sucks.

Somewhere in that day, probably in church, Peanut came in contact with the nasty virus that’s going around. By Wednesday he was sneezing and coughing. By late Friday night (or early Saturday morning) we were in the hospital emergency. After getting a couple of masks for his asthma, we went to X-Ray for a chest film. Poor little guy had the start of pneumonia. We caught it before it got serious, but we still had to take it easy for a week or so.

Now our dilemma. Do we take another week off? Do we continue with our lessons? Do we just do bare minimum? Plus I started to feel sick too! Rather than lose a week, we chose to do bare minimum. 

Our book was “We’re going on a Leaf Hunt”. We sorted and counted leaves that we made from construction paper since a nature walk was out of the question. We planted some seeds to watch them grow. We watched an episode of magic school bus to see how trees help the ecosystem. We made a map of the places the kids in the book went to, ending with a stinky skunk! We didn’t do many arts or crafts, but we can do them in our unit on apple trees later this year. We also did some math, handwriting practice, and learned the sight word “go”. Not too bad for a sick week. 
By Saturday Peanut was feeling much better. His mama, not so much. I could barely get out of bed. Advil cold and sinus finally kicked in by Sunday, and I’m also feeling a lot better.

This week is all about insects – but that post is coming this weekend, or maybe even early next week.

Till then…


Our 4th week (almost) done…

Last week we had a nice week. Our book of the week was “What Do You Do With A Tail Like This?”

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We learned all about the ways different animals adapted certain features and what they use them for. For instance, monkeys use their tails to hold onto branches like a hand. Archerfish can use their tongue to spit water into the air to shoot their prey like an arrow, and beavers use their tail to warn of danger. Elephants use their noses to spray water on themselves to keep cool. Amazing how different structures are adapted for each animal!

We played lots of games like pin the tail on the monkey, race car rally, and we did some nice arts and crafts too.


The word of the week was “this” and Peanut had it memorized by sight within two days! The letter of the week was “T”, so we did a lot of practicing with it.

I did manage to assess his handwriting readiness again, and he still isn’t really ready to write yet. Instead of focusing on writing, I’m going to switch gears and have him do a lot more coloring and a bit more cutting.  Also, lots of Play Dough, sand play, anything to get his fingers moving. I’ll also be using the whiteboard more often for his handwriting practice, having him write huge letters.

One thing he can do now while we work on his fine motor skills is learn to read. I’m going to be introducing one easy reader a day now, and they will be using the words he knows as well as the words of the week. I’ve pulled some from This Reading Mama, Progressive Phonics, Reading A-Z  (I used a free 2 week trial, but won’t continue since it’s a $110 subscription fee per year, or raz plus which is $200 a year! Eeep! ) and a few other printable books I’ve stumbled across.

Just because he can’t write doesn’t mean he can’t learn to read and spell! We can use letter tiles for spelling, and when he’s ready to write, he’ll already know how to spell! Even if he only learns to type, I’m okay with it, as long as he can get his words on paper (or computer) eventually. Even if it takes him several more years. Until then, I’ll be his scribe, but also insist he at least try to write too. Effort is what counts.

I’m also beginning to use Alphabet Fun Pages which are fun and a little bit challenging, but not too much! Also, Reading the Alphabet  has some nice resources like word mazes etc to help reinforce our word of the week, and coloring pages as well as poke pages for the letter of the week! I have to admit, I really love This Reading Mama’s things. I’m becoming a fan!

I also stumbled across Discovery K-12 again after rejecting it two years ago. I may use part of their curriculum too, but only as a suppliment to what we do already. Unfortunately, Peanut works at a pre-k level for writing, K for reading, and K-1 for social studies, art, and science. The issue is that they don’t offer customization, so you have to pick one level and stay with it, or keep swapping your level out every day. They do say it will be customizable soon though.

So now it’s our week off, but we still have last Friday’s lessons to do this week sometime. Both Peanut and I have been a bit under the weather, so we’ll get to it by Sunday at the latest, gotta luv the flexibility of homeschooling!