Five In A Row Volume 1 - Madeline!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015



We love Five in a Row.  


Every time I come back after time away from 'rowing', I realize how much I adore this kind of learning for young ones and how deeply rooted my heart is in Five in a Row.  Oh, the memories and the joy of learning it creates!


A little note: We started this 'new year' (we start new in Spring) with Alex (6 years old) doing Little Hearts for His Glory from Heart of Dakota.  Within 5 weeks of doing the program, I knew it wasn't going to really work for him.  Or for me!  I will say though, we do LOVE Heart of Dakota in the next levels and will continue with Beyond and Bigger Hearts this year with Audrey and Simon.  I plan to post about why we chose FIAR over HOD for our 6 year old in the next week or so.  I also hope to post an updated review of Five in a Row along with a post about how to organize Five in a Row studies - I better get busy!  ha!


So - on to our first row of the 'year'!  This is the very first time I have ever rowed through a book with one child.  We have done most of Volume 1and 2 with Simon and Audrey (4 -5 years ago now!) and most of Volume 3 last year with Alex involved as well.  When we rowed Volumes 1 and 2,  Alex was so little, he does not remember the early guides.  This year we will also be rowing Volume 4 titles with all three children periodically throughout the year.

I decided to tone down the studies to a more doable level (not quite so involved as some of the rows we've done in the past) and work to follow the guide directly with only a few things mixed in beyond what is covered by Jane Claire Lambert in the guide. (Imagine that following a guide as-is!)

It was a HUGE success.  Very peaceful, fun, productive, and memorable!  

We spent 2 weeks 'rowing' Madeline.


All ready to start on the first day.  I continued using our clipboard system for Alex.  He loves to see what is coming up in the study.


Rowing Madeline - some of what we covered:

  • Geography - learning about France, finding France on a globe and a map, locating Paris, and seeing how far Paris is from where we live in Ontario.  We also used the iPad (I know... I'm getting super high-tech...!) to locate many of the famous building in Paris which are shown in the book.
  • Bible - we have the Bible and Character Supplement for Five in a Row, so we worked through most of the content for Madeline.  This included discussing understanding and thinking about what is good ("...they smiled at the good..."), compassion, and orderliness.  We also discussed how we could make someone feel better if they were sad or hurt.
  • History - here we pointed out the difference about various items and settings in the book compared to present day.  The book is set in about the 1930s.
  • Language Arts - Poetry, Rhyming Schemes, Rhyming words, Repetition, Vocabulary.
  • Art: we looked at various buildings and the architecture shown in Bemelmans' illustrations.  We also talked about the variety of color and the yellow/black illustrations and how they create variety.
  • Culture: we discussed French culture and read a book and watched a short movie about a child who lives in Paris.
  • Math: Grouping, Adding, Comparing Size, Symmetry, Telling Time
  • Health/Science:  We talked about our bodies, our digestive system, the Appendix, and healthy habits and eating.



Let's find Paris, France.

Isn't there something so beautiful about curling up together and enjoying a great book - nothing beats the feeling!

Comparing sizes from the smallest to biggest using Lego.  This is related to the idea of Madeline being the smallest one!

Madeline Math.  Grouping and adding using printable "little girls".

Using our shape blocks to demonstrate Symmetry.  I made a pattern on the left, Alex copied it on the right.  Then he did the same for me.




Making Eiffel Towers out of wafers and icing - always a hit.

We just looked at this photo and tried to copy it.

Using a Map App to locate 3D photos of the famous buildings found in Madeline!  (This was so fun!)  Here, Alex has found the Eiffel Tower.

Notre Dame - at the same angle too...  I was way more excited than Alex.


Vine Walk - "In an old house in Paris, all covered in vines..."  We walked and took photos of fences, houses, etc. that were covered in vines.



Simplified Lapbooking


I have a love/hate relationship with Lapbooking.  We have done TONS of Lapbooks... so you would think I loved them, but, in actuality, I have my struggles with them.  So much printing, cutting, organizing, pasting, and implementing!  So often, I have found myself doing the lapbooking instead of the child.

On the flip-side, I also love them for how they inspire creativity, offer variety, give visual/tactile appeal, and make such great keepsakes of our learning.

For our walk through Five in a Row Volume 1 with Alex this year, I plan to use Lapbooking in a simplified way.  We are using basic lined notebooks (the cheap ones you can get for 20 cents in August).  Each time we start a new row, we will simply put the title of the book before the new content.  Hopefully, instead of having 20 file folder lapbooks that are hard to keep and store, we will have 2-3 notebooks full of wonderful learning!  (So much easier!)

So far, it has proven to be a great way to work through much of the work and Alex loved the variety.  I didn't use the whole lapbook that I found (linked below) but only the parts I really thought were relevant and would appeal to Alex.

 It was just enough flaps, cutting, pasting - but not too much that it got overwhelming.  Then we added copywork and the other simple elements of the FIAR study.  I would say this will be more of an Interactive Notebook than a "Lapbook" really.  It will be great!



Our Notebook for Madeline:


Telling Time flap book.

Rhyming Words mini book - Alex found the words that rhymed, I wrote them in for him.

Some copywork.

Smallest to Largest with numbering.  I love how Alex chose to draw stick men to hold up his 'crooked' numbers...  *smile*

Our first page of our FIAR Notebook - we marked France on a map of Europe, colored a flag of France, talked about the vocabulary words...

More copywork.

From top left: Finding France on a map, ways we can bring joy (Alex thought of these), coloring a flag of France, and scripture verse from the Bible Supplement.  Also - Alex wrote words that rhymed for copywork one day.

From top left: our notebook spread open, locating and discussing the function of body organs, numbering the little girls, and the Tour de France activity.  The Tour de France is really neat as it shows all the various famous buildings and locations that are actually illustrated in Madeline.  Always fun to find them!

Keeping FIAR simple - our little selection for our Row of Madeline.




Some Links:






Thanks for reading!



Join us for a Lesson - All About Reading Level 2

Sunday, June 28, 2015





We are absolutely LOVING All About Reading.  Both our children (Audrey is doing Level 2 and Alex is doing Level 1) literally ask to do their All About Reading work.  Not only are we loving it - it is proving to be incredibly effective.  Already (after about 9-10 lessons) I am seeing a huge improvement in their reading skills, confidence, and abilities.

Many homeschoolers have asked me about All About Reading.  It is one of the best known reading and phonic programs on the 'homeschool market' today.  I am really excited to be working through it so I can really speak honestly and openly about our experience with this amazing program.

I thought a neat way to share All About Reading would be to actually walk through a lesson with you.  I know how hard and confusing it can often be when I'm trying to make decisions about certain programs and curriculums.  One of the biggest questions I have is: 


"What will this look like on a daily basis?  How would I use this with my children?"  


These two questions help me decide whether a program would work for me and for the specific child.

So, in light of this - I am going to do my best to walk you through a lesson of All About Reading Level 2 that we accomplished the week before last (yes, it has taken me a bit to get this up!).  It was a beautiful sunny day, so we brought all our stuff outside and Audrey and I enjoyed some time together... why don't you join us?


The first thing I always notice every single time I open my All About Reading Teacher's Guide is how hands-on, easy, straight forward, and open-and-go it truly is.  I LOVE these guides.

I try to do some prep work for lessons, but I can still teach an effective lesson even if I haven't opened the guide before we dive right in.  I find the most important 'prep' to do for the All About Reading lessons is the cutting out and preparing of the activities in the Student Activity Book.    Even having said that - I've forgotten to cut things out and I have managed to throw it all together in 5 minutes, no sweat!


Join us for Lesson 4 of All About Reading Level 2:


At the top of every Step-by-Step Lesson Plan is a grey box that specifically tells me what the main objective of the lesson will be and the materials I will need to accomplish the lesson.  This is incredibly helpful - I grab everything on the list before we start - this reduces distractions!

Then the guide walks you through what to do (literally Step-by-Step in great detail) as you work through the lesson.  I really love this layout... the fonts are big, easy to read, and the word cards are shown as cards, the images really help follow along quickly while you're teaching.  No huge pauses while I scan the page to figure out what comes next.





So, on to Lesson 4.

First, I talked briefly about what we would be learning.  I introduced the idea of words that have the letter Y at the end that says the "eye" sound.  I then built some words using our Letter Tiles and our large magnetic white board.  Some of the suggested words were: my, try, by, fly, cry, dry, sky, shy.

We then looked at our Y phonogram card (phonogram cards are the yellow, word cards are the green).

After that, I encouraged Audrey to test out various letter and vowel sounds on the Phonogram Sounds App.  







One of the really fun, hands-on components of the All About Reading program (and the All About Spelling Program!) is the interactive Letter Tiles.  Our children love working with the tiles, building words, and playing games with them.

The next step after the Phonogram App was working with the Letter Tiles.  We first worked on our review of Closed and Open Syllable words.  Audrey built words that were Open Syllable (we, she, be) and also some Closed Syllable words (slept, cat, dog, Mom).

Then we worked on the main concept of the lesson - Y as a vowel, saying the "eye" sound.

We built the word CRY and then played the "Change the Word" game.  Both our children love this activity.  I make CRY and ask Audrey to change it to DRY.  Then we go from dry to pry to fry to try to fly to sly and so on.








After working with our Letter Tiles we moved on to our Activity Sheet component.  Our children also really enjoy this portion of the Lessons.  For Lesson 4, Audrey chose word cards from a pile and decided whether they belonged in the "Y like Yak" column or the "Y like Fly" column.




Next came our Reading Word Practice using our Word Cards.  I love the organization of the Phonogram and Word Cards.  They are just fantastic for both 'teacher' and child.  Here's the way they work in a nut-shell.  All cards are placed in the Reading Review Box in the order they will be used.

The cards are clearly labelled with lesson and card numbers.  As we work through the lessons, we use various phonogram and word cards along with the lessons.  All cards we haven't yet used are behind the "Future Lessons" divider.  All the cards the child has mastered go behind the "Mastered" divider, and all cards that still need review are placed behind the "Review" divider.

Boy, do the kids ever love to see those cards get filed behind the "Mastered" section!

Phonogram cards and Word cards are kept separate, as you can see from the photos below.  Color coding helps too!






In Level 2 there are also "Leap Cards".  These cards are showing high-frequency words that don't always follow the regular rules or that have phonograms we haven't covered yet.  I love the large graphic of the frog on the card - it is a very visual reminder that these words are different.

You can see also below the way the cards are labelled along the bottom so you never lose one or have a hard time figuring out where the word places in terms of lessons!

For this lesson, we reviewed two "leap" words, your and are.




After the Word Card work, we move on to the Fluency Practice Sheets.  Some days, Audrey will read through all of the Fluency work because she really wants to accomplish her lesson.  Other days, she will chose to read half and continue the following day.  It really depends upon how she's feeling.

I personally love the way the Fluency Sheets are written and I find they really help solidify what we are learning in the lessons.  They are typically a combination of new words, mixed review (with new words and previous words together), phrases, sentences, and challenge words.








Hooray! Audrey completed Lesson 4 and earned the Lesson 4 sticker for her chart!  I never thought the progress chart would mean much to our children, but they LOVE it.  It really motivates them to want to achieve the lessons.  Audrey will often accomplish one lesson every day or 2 because she is really focusing on accomplishing this level.  Many children will not accomplish a lesson every day.  The lessons are full of new concepts, lots of learning, and many different steps.  Some parents even focus on one lesson per week, and that would be totally fine for many children.  As long as they are learning and progressing, that is the goal!


Thoughts so far...

I would quickly and happily recommend this program to my closest friends and family - and that is saying quite a bit.  I think we are in love with All About Reading in our family~!  

Adurey just completed Lesson 12 this week.  Alex is working on Lesson 11 of Level 1.  They both LOVE All About Reading.  Both of them will go to the Letter Tile Board and play with the tiles on their own.  They have also both created 'progress charts' for  their doll and stuffed tiger (Charlotte and Hobbes, respectively...!).

Here are a few candid shots I managed to grab of Audrey working on building words with her doll, Charlotte, and Alex reading his Level 1 Reader to his tiger, Hobbes.  Melts my heart to see this!




I hope to be posting our walk-through with snapshots of a Lesson of Level 1 next week, so keep watch for that post if you'd like to see what Level 1 looks like compared to the Level 2 we just covered.  






Thanks for reading!





Dear homeschool Mom who is feeling weary - do not give up.

Friday, June 26, 2015




One of our scripture verses for our homeschool program was:

"Let us not grow weary in doing good for in due season we will reap a harvest, if we do not give up."  Galatians 6:9 

It also seems to be one of the verses that pops up quite often at our local homeschool meeting.  Let's face it, we can all grow a little weary sometimes.  And many of us at some time or another has just wanted to give up altogether.  Especially when it comes to this huge, full-on, crazy all encompassing task of educating our children at home.

So, weary is defined as:  feeling or showing tiredness, especially as a result of excessive exertion.  And well, I think most homeschool Moms would agree that most of us excessively exert ourselves continually for our children...


If you would like to read the rest, why not join me over at Hip Homeschool?  




A Review of ARTistic Pursuits - Elementary (K-3) Book 2

Friday, June 19, 2015




We have been using ARTistic Pursuits for the past several years in our homeschool.  I really love this program and would recommend it to any homeschooler looking for an easy to follow, comprehensive, and fun art curriculum.

We started with ARTistic Pursuits Early Elementary K-3 Book 1 and took our time working through it.   Our kids truly enjoy it - when I say we're going to do ARTistic Pursuits, they are thrilled.  It is a great starting place for children in this age bracket and even a bit older.  Early Elementary K-3, Book 2 is quite similar in difficulty.  It really depends on what you put into the projects - I think many of them could work for children up to grade 5.  Many of the projects in Book 2 work quite well for our 10 year old!

ARTistic Pursuits has books for all ages and skill levels.  You can see the full list of everything they offer right here.  The programs range from preschool all the way through highschool~!  There are easy to view previews on the ARTistic Pursuits site.


The Basics:

Book Two's subtitle is: Stories of Artists and Their Art.  This includes beautiful color prints (in the text pages) of famous works including Gothic, Renaissance, and 18th Century art. 

There are 36 Lessons with Projects included in Book 2.  Although there truly are 36 Lessons, its the Projects that make the curriculum seem so full!  There is so much in these books because each Lesson is unique and includes many parts.  There is first a short biography and introduction to the artist and his/her time period and art style (this is written in a very readable, living-book style, which I love!), then there are projects corresponding to the readings and artist as well as more readings about style, art history, and a short picture study with questions to work through.

Some of the artists covered in Book 2 include, Giotto, Limbourg, Van Eyck, Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Bruegel, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Turner, Millet... and more.  It's a very full and rich curriculum for artist study, picture study, AND visual arts.

Our study of Lesson 3 and 4, which I'm showing in this review, took us two weeks to work through.  We added a living book about Giotto to really reinforce what we were learning and reading in ARTistic Pursuits.



A Peak at the Lessons:

I chose to highlight our work with Lesson 3 and 4 because we really enjoyed these projects and learning about Giotto.  I also had a wonderful living book about the artist which was a perfect fit.

Here are some snapshots of a walk through the lessons -


First part - an engaging written narrative about Giotto as a boy and growing up.  He started experimenting with art by scratching drawing into the rocks while he tended sheep.  This leads into our first project - scratch art!


The next page continues with further narratives about how Giotto became inspired and started working with fresco paintings.


An explanation of the scratch art project.  I love the way ARTistic Pursuits presents the lessons and projects.  Very thorough, very easy to follow.


Next we read about the Gothic Period and more about Giotto's art, talking specifically about the piece called, Lamentation of Christ. (Shown above).  This is the picture study portion, you can see the beautiful color print and the questions to accompany it.


Next page is a project challenge - Fresco!  We had fun creating fresco 'just like Giotto' using simple plaster we had on hand in the basement. 


A living book we added to our study of Giotto.



Snapshots of the fun: 


Having a blast creating scratch art!


This is easy to do but gives a beautiful and exciting result.  We colored in pastels on a cardstock paper, creating a bright pattern.  We then covered our colored pastel with black pastel.  Once it was covered completely, we used tooth picks to draw pictures, write words, whatever the children felt like doing.  They loved it!


Working on our 'fresco' paintings - spreading plaster on cardboard and waiting for it to dry.  After it was about 1/2 way dry, we added watercolor paints to create beautiful paintings!


I loved the results of these!




I will definitely continue to use ARTistic Pursuits in our home.  It is such a well written, well presented, easy to use program.  The content is interesting, challenging, but age-appropriate and doable for kids of all skill levels.  I have a daughter who absolutely LOVES art and will love pretty much any 'art' I put before her - she adores ARTistic Pursuits. 

I also have a 10 year old son who is quite reluctant to art - but he loves this program as well.  The projects and interesting, unique, varied, and come alive, thanks to the connections to artists and art history.

All in all, I think ARTistic Pursuits is a wonderful art curriculum for homeschool families.  By following along and working through these books, I am confident that our children will have a well-rounded, rich exposure to art, and art appreciation.  They will also be building many valuable skills that will help them not only to develop their artistic abilities, but to also excel in many other areas of academics and life!



We love ARTistic Pursuits!




This video gives a really good overview of ARTistic Pursuits:










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