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!


Another math curriculum!

The homeschool struggle for great curriculum that fits your learning style is an ongoing quest. I was looking for a printable map for our wall, but instead of searching for “map”, I typed in “mep” instead. What a happy accident!

What it led me to was an awesome site called Centre for Innovation in Mathematics Teaching. I was totally blown away by this site. It is a fully scripted, complete, comprehensive, and free math curriculum from Kindergarten to grade 6.

This curriculum was developed by the Centre for Innovation in Mathematics Teaching (CIMT) at Plymouth University for students in primary schools. According to their overview :

-Lesson plans that are well prepared
– interactive teaching. All students are given the chance to demonstrate, answer, explain, suggest.
– Friendly, non-confrontational learning, and having fun! Mistakes used as teaching points.
– Spiral curriculum with continual revision; learning by heart encouraged, with progression in small, logical steps.
– Visualisation and manipulatives are used in the early years.
– Students give the solutions, not the teacher, and students are expected to correct their own work.

Each grade except kindergarten includes workbooks, teacher’s guide, printables, and revisions. Here is a link to the order of topics and the summary of the course for each grade.

Also, each lesson gives the approximate time it takes to do, but this is for classroom purposes. Homeschooling takes about 2/3 less time! We tend to do a 30 minute lesson in less than 10 minutes.

There is even a South African, Spanish, and Jamaican version available!

I decided that I’d try using the kindergarten reception year for Peanut now. It is supposed to be used twice a week, but since we only have 10 more weeks to go, I’m using it daily. There are 60 lessons in reception, so we’ll still have to do 2 weeks extra to finish it up before our next school year starts.

We are also using Math U See Primer, we’re now on lesson 22. Peanut is doing very well this year with it. I really want to use McRuffy Math too, but I really need to play more board games with him first. Peanut just doesn’t understand the concept of taking turns, or even moving only your own piece when it’s your turn, so Candyland is going to become an almost daily game in the near future. Hahaha!


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!


But no elephants!

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Peanut absolutely loved this week’s book and activities. We spent the week with the book “But No Elephants” and it was a huge hit! Peanut learned the sight word “no”, and how to print the letter “E”.

We learned to act out the story with stick puppets, how to sort animals from the smallest to the largest, what each pet did to help Grandma Tildy, and touched on the concept of needs vs. wants.

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For math, Peanut was introduced to the geoboard. He learned how to create pictures from shapes – he even made a farmhouse without any instruction! We also began to add numbers by 1’s and 2’s. I’m not sure if the number line is helping or hindering… I may try to add in some more basic addition practice.

As a reward for a very hard three weeks, we went to the beach Friday evening to just relax by the ocean. Peanut and his brother Popeye enjoyed playing in the sand, finding crab holes, and just plain making memories. Hubby and I enjoyed the laughter, ocean breeze, and I of course had to dip my toes in the water at least once, and it was warm and wonderful. I actually wish I brought my swimsuit to bathe!

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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.