Bright Beginnings, A Complete Curriculum for Early Learning – Guest Post

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May 21, 2009

Thank you Jennifer from Homegrown Mommy for this guest post, a very complete and informative curriculum review:

This is the curriculum that I use for my two preschoolers – daughter, age 4 and son, age 3.  They love it and I love and you can’t get a better mix than that!

Here’s why I love it:

  • It is so complete.  Every subject is covered from top to bottom.  The lesson plan is completely laid out for each day including materials and tools you might need right down to snack ideas.
  • It is so simple to use.  As I said, the lesson plans are already laid out for you.  More than work already being done for you, the components the author uses are very basic and so easy to follow.  I pick up the book the night before or sometimes the morning of a lesson, pull the resources together, and sit down with my children.  Part of that simplicity is the age level that we’re talking about here, but the other part is the work that the author, Tammy A. Shaw, has already done.  And, she doesn’t use big crafts that take an hour to prepare or intricate lessons that cover too much detail.  It is very straight forward and age-appropriate.
  • There is room to breathe.  I don’t feel so constricted by the lesson plans that I can’t improvise on my own.  Some of the daily lessons are planned out, but some of it is *multiple choice*.  By that I mean you are given a spot to fill and lots of suggestions of what to fill it with.  There are days that I follow it to the letter and some days that I only take the math and language skills pointers.
  • My kids love it.  And, of course, isn’t that what it is really all about?  They really have fun when it’s time to *do* school.  I’m relaxed and feeling prepared and able which gives them confidence and a relaxed feeling as well.  They feel successful each day and look forward to the next day’s lesson.
  • It is not boring.  While the subjects are primarily the same each day, she attacks them differently so no one gets bored.  The hands-on activities are not always the same, the type of language skill and math activities are a little different each day.  It helps me to stay refreshed in my teaching!

When you order the curriculum, you receive two books; Book 1 is 190 pages and Book 2 is 217 pages.  Book 1 includes the daily lesson plans for 144 days, which can be broken up according to your needs during the week.  This book also includes a nice introduction which talks about the different ways you can use the books together.  Book 2 includes TONS of activities for God’s World (explained below), Phy Ed, Art, Snack time, and Music.  Even if you only bought the curriculum to use the ideas in Book 2, it would be well worth the money spent.  Phy Ed, Art and Music each have 72 different activities and there are 144 snack ideas.  At the end of Book 2 is over 60 pages of sheets that are to be copied for use with the daily lesson plans.  Everything you need is in these two books!

“God’s World” is a collection of 36 four-day-long unit studies of all different subjects from Birds to Zoo Animals.  For each daily lesson plan in Book 1, there is a “God’s World” heading and a blank spot where you get to fill in what unit study you are planning to do that week.  We really have fun with these!  The units are made up of topics that my children truly enjoy and each day they get more excited about what we’re doing.

The only thing I’ve had a struggle with isn’t necessarily a problem with the books – one author can only do so much and cover so many different areas.  I’m feeling like I don’t have enough visuals when telling the Bible stories to my children.  They aren’t necessarily saying or acting as if they are bored, but I really want this portion of the lesson to stick with them forever and I’m second guessing whether or not just words will accomplish that.  Initially, I considered buying a Betty Lukens Bible in Felt set to supplement what I thought was lacking, but the sets are between $150 and $200, plus you have to cut out all 600 pieces of felt!

Recently though, my husband and I converged to come up with a great idea to solve that issue.  I had been at a friends house so my oldest son could participate in a hands-on lesson about engines and I brought my Bright Beginnings and some other supplies to teach my two preschoolers and added my friend’s preschooler to the mix.  They have a big, beautiful home school room with a chalkboard!  I used the chalkboard to draw along with the Bible story.  My drawings are far from the best but it kept their attention a little better and I felt like I was using their ears and eyes for learning.  At home, we do not have a chalkboard, but we do have a large dry erase and there are lots of different colors for dry erase boards these days.  Voila!  Visual stimulation!

I was planning to take lots of photos of different indices and pages within the book, but the author’s website has several of those pieces already on her site, so I’ll just provide links to them here.

Overall, we are really enjoying our time with this curriculum!  The kids are having fun, it’s easy on me and they are learning about all the things that are very important to my husband and me.

 _________________________________________

“Thanks so much for reading my guest post about Bright Beginnings!  I’m Jennifer, owner of HomeGrownMommy, which is a site devoted to helping other families as they embark on this adventure called homeschooling.  Pertinent information that you need to make those important decisions is at your fingertips with book and curriculum reviews, how-to and what-for articles, tips and tricks, and so much more.  My site is a new one with fresh content coming nearly every day, so come along with me as we build it into an invaluable resource for homeschooling.
 
I started on my own homeschooling journey about four years ago when my oldest son started kindergarten and my second child was born.  We now have four children and transplanted from Wisconsin to sunny Florida, enjoying the sand and beach as much as possible.  My oldest is in fourth grade and is using the A.C.E. curriculum.  My preschoolers, ages 3 and 4, are using Bright Beginnings, Piano for Preschoolers, some of Considering God’s Creation along with other worksheets and “mommy ideas”!  My youngest is 10 months old and she is happily along for the ride, distracting the rest of us with her sweet smile.  I have really found my dream job in homeschooling and staying at home with my children while doing a little blogging on the side.”

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Posted under Homeschool Curriculum

Get Crayon Off Your Walls Easy – Tuesday Tips

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May 19, 2009

 

children crayon on a wahite paper

All those budding artists in the house, and one of them is sure to take the lesson on cave wall paintings to heart.  After enough ‘murals’ you have to get out the cleaning supplies.   I’ve scrubbed my share of art off the walls. 

Here’s a tip that makes clean-up of Crayon so easy, it’s almost fun.  Almost.

The secret?  WD-40.  Yep, you just need to squirt a little WD-40 on a paper towel and wipe the crayon marks right off the wall.  The crayon wipes off almost as easy as those clean-up commercials.  (It doesn’t work on colored pencil, paint, food, mud, etc.  Or on flat paint either.)  If you’re really crazy curious, go ahead and experiment on an out of the way wall – just don’t let your kids see you.

tuesday_tips

I need help and some good ideas from you!  Do you have a bit of advice for other homeschooling parents?  Something that has worked well for you lately?  Chores?  Cleaning Tips?  Bargains?  Favorite websites?

Here’s the place to post it – Please help us all out by sharing a short, one paragraph tip in the comment section that you think would help other parents.

(Feel free to link to your blog – I’m happy to help spread the word about great blogs.)

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Posted under Tuesday Tips

Math At Play Blog Carnival #7 – Onomatopoeia

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May 15, 2009

Welcome to the 7th edition of Math Teachers at Play.

I thought I’d stir a little language into our math carnival this time with a few Onomatopoeias – a big word I thought was pretty fun in grade school.  (I did have to look up how to spell it, though)

Onomatopoeias are words that sound like their meaning.  Just think, ‘Batman fighting a villian’ words:  Bam, Pop, Blast!

And I was inspired a bit by Pat Ballew’s obvious fascination with math words in his article: Left Angles and Language Reversals posted at Pat’sBlog.  “Ahh, the hazards of Geometry. What it is depends on WHERE you are.”

Snip and Learn

scissors

Photo by LollyKnit

Denise presents Quilt: What Can You Do with This? posted at Let’s play math!, saying, “How could you use this image as a springboard to doing math? What questions would you ask? What concepts would you try to get across? What would you follow it with? Please comment!”

Devorah writes about Math and Crafts on SquidKnits when her children scramble through some math in designing play costumes and using graph paper for sweater patterns.

Mumble and Solve

mouth

Jason Dyer presents Plat Diviseur (Fractions on a plate) posted at The Number Warrior. He says, “Simple questions about a French plate lead to a complex lesson.”

Solve the latest Monday Math Madness by Daniel at BlinkDagger and win a prize.

Clap for Ideas

clap

Zac give tips on How to Understand Math Formulas posted at SquareCircleZ.

Maria gives some tips on teaching long division to kids with Dyslexia, posted at Homeschool Math Blog.

My kids have been enjoying the free version of Timez Attack, a fun, arcade-styled game to review multiplication facts.

Buzzing Brain

bees

My bees in a hive I built myself 🙂

Vlorbik on Math Ed presents Buy Conditionally posted at Community College Calculus

John Cook presents Connecting Fibonacci and geometric sequences — The Endeavour posted at The Endeavour.

Sam Shah presents My Exponential Function Unit posted at Continuous Everywhere but Differentiable Nowhere.  He asks his kids if they would rather have a million dollars every day in the month, or $1 the first day, $2 the second, $4 the third, etc.  Read his article to find the answer.

SK19 starts a series explaining square roots on SK19Math.

Crack the books

books_color

Photo by kennymatic

Meaghan Montrose presents Effective Learning Strategies and Study Skills Part 3 posted at TutorFi.

Alvaro Fernandez presents 10% Students may have working memory problems: Why does it matter? posted at SharpBrains, saying, “In screening of over 3000 school-aged students, 1 in 10 was identified as having working memory difficulties. Why does this matter?”

I hope you enjoyed this edition of the Math at Play Blog Carnival!  Click here to check out past editions and submit new articles for future ones.

Keep playing math!

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Posted under Blog Carnivals, Math Curriculum

How do You Teach Multiple Ages? – Thursday Topics

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May 14, 2009

 puzzle

“Mom, what does this mean?”

“Mom, can you check my spelling?”

“Mom, I need help.”

“Waaaahhh!”

I know we could all use a couple clones to get everything done, and teaching multiple ages of children is often challenging.

How do you do it?  Would you share some of your best ideas with us?  Comment below or feel free to post a link to your website or blog if you’ve discussed this issue there.

Here are some of my ideas:

  1. Puzzles – These seem to keep the youngest busy for a decent stretch so you can concentrate on helping an older child.  It’s also easy to sit and ‘help’ with a puzzle while helping a second child on the other side of you with their current project.
  2. Read to each other!  Having an older child read to a younger one is a simple yet awesome idea.  The older children work on their reading skills, oration skills, and patience.  While the younger child reaps all the benefits of storytime.  Even better, they are building better relationships with each other.
  3. Projects and unit studies – Many times a project or unit study can involve all the kids on some level.  The older kids may be doing the research and documentation, while the younger help shape the volcano out of plaster of paris.
  4. Set aside individual time – I often feel like I’m running around all day with not a ton to show by the end.  Somehow I’ve spent all day with my kids and yet don’t feel like I’ve really connected with them.  Just a few weeks ago, I decided to try and spend 10 minutes a day with each child – only them.  The kids love it and really enjoy it being their time that the other kids have to respect.
  5. Delegate to the kids – Put kids in charge of their own work as much as possible and have them come give you reports on their work, instead of micromanaging it.  They can plan out their schedule, choose their projects, decide on topics.  Sure, you can help guide them, but the more they do, the more invested they are in their learning.

How do you do it?  I could use some more ideas!!!

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Posted under Thursday Topics

Guest Posts Needed!

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May 13, 2009

welcome

You have some great homeschooling blogs and ideas.  Would you like to share them with Homeschool Bytes readers?

I’d like to encourage more discussion and add new ideas to Homeschool Bytes by inviting readers to contribute a few guest posts. 

You would keep all rights to your article and are encouraged to link to your blog/website.  Networking like this is an excellent way to share what you know and bring more readers to your own site.

Ideas for articles are:

  • Curriculum Reviews.
  • Homeschool How-To articles.
  • Online resources and websites.
  • Homeschool Life Ideas.
  • Activity Ideas.
  • Homeschool Co-op information.
  • Parenting and Household Tips.
  • Any other good idea you have 🙂

If you have an article in mind, or one already written, please email me (Misty) at turtlebalm (at) gmail.com with your idea and/or article.

Thank you!

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Posted under Homeschool Tips

Fun Math with Treats – Tuesday Tip

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May 12, 2009

tuesday_tips

I need help and some good ideas from you!  Do you have a bit of advice for other homeschooling parents?  Something that has worked well for you lately?  Chores?  Cleaning Tips?  Bargains?  Favorite websites?

Here’s the place to post it – Please help us all out by sharing a short, one paragraph tip in the comment section that you think would help other parents.

(Feel free to link to your blog – I’m happy to help spread the word about great blogs.)

Here’s my tip:

Brighten up your Math Lesson with Treats!

gummis

Next time you’re having a difficult math day, bring out an assortment of small snacks and use them to apply your current math concept:

  • Sort the dried fruit
  • Venn diagram some nuts
  • Calculate the area of a Fruit Roll-up
  • Estimate the skittles in a cup
  • Bar graph some M&Ms
  • Calculate radius and circumference with Fruit Loops

Brighten up a math concept that’s been dulled by too much paper and pencil!

You’re next – take a moment and please share a tip with us!

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Posted under Tuesday Tips

Quick Bargain Tip for Shoes!

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May 7, 2009

shoebuy

I just wanted to share: My favorite online shoe store, Shoebuy.com (coupon link), is having a 20% off Mother’s Day Sale.

(Edit – Sorry, I didn’t realize the sale is an email campaign, but you can get the same deal using the code: EMLMOMDAY09 – I’m just not sure about combining it with the $10 off coupon)

Remember when little kids’ feet grew so fast that they didn’t have a chance to wear out their shoes?  You could get away with buying the ‘cheap-o’ shoes.

Here are my 9-year-old’s ‘cheap-o’ shoes after about 4 months of wear:

shoes

And then he convinced Dad to grab him another pair at Walmart while they were out on Saturday and a couple days later – the sole starts peeling off:

shoe2

So, I broke down and got him some quality shoes from my favorite online shoe store:  Shoebuy.com (Coupon link)

What I like about Shoebuy.com (Coupon link)

  • % off sales every other month or so – which I try to combine with an already discounted shoe for great deals.
  • Free shipping
  • Free returns if you don’t like the shoe for ANY reason.
  • Awesome and fast customer service – They really want to make you happy.
  • Lots of customer reviews so I can see how others liked the shoes I’m interested in.
  • Big selection and sizes.

Sure, they have some overpriced items, but I usually buy discounted items during a sale and we’ve gotten some great sneakers and sandles in the $30 – $50 range that retail for double that. 

P.S.  The  links above are for a $10 off $50 coupon as part of their referral program, so you may be able to combine it with the Mother’s Day sale (code EMLMOMDAY09), and it’s a pretty good deal.  And they are very good to their email list – only sending out their sales emails once a month or so.  It’s very easy to unsubscribe.

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Posted under Homeschool Bargains

Would you mind giving me some feedback please?

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May 6, 2009

feedback

I’m trying to do a Blog Tune-Up and I need your help – would you mind if I pick your brain for a moment?  Could you take second and write me a quick comment on what you think?

I started this blog last August in an attempt to

  1. Share some of the homeschooling resources, ideas, and tips I’d come across day to day. 
  2. My other hope was that the blog would develop a sort of community feel with parents commenting, giving feedback, and sharing their own great ideas and suggestions.

I feel like I’ve been trying to do #1 most of the time, but #2 hasn’t really happened.  When I look at my blog traffic, most of it comes from search engines, which means people are looking for a certain topic, find one of my articles, read it, and then move on.  Not very many stay or come back to read new material.

So, I thought that maybe I could do a better job meeting your needs and encouraging your feedback and involvement if I asked you what I could do better.

So, I’d love to read a comment from you about:

  • What you like about HomeschoolBytes.
  • What you don’t like or isn’t really of use to you.
  • The kinds of posts I should write more of.
  • Challenges you/others have homeschooling that I could address.
  • Resources you need help finding and would love some ideas about.
  • What you think I could do to make the blog more inviting for readers to comment and come back daily to read.
  • Any great ideas you have!! 

I’ve always been impressed with how much homeschool parents know, and how helpful they are.  So, if you have a second and could help me out . . . Thanks in advance for the good advice!

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Posted under Homeschool Tips

UPrinting Contest Winners!

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May 5, 2009

trophy

Thank you to everyone who entered our UPrinting giveaway!  Using Random.org to pick from our 7 entrants, the winners are . . .

winner1

Valerie at Sweeps4Bloggers wins the 1000 business cards! 

and . . .

winner2

Suz at FamilyCents wins the 500 brochures!

Enjoy them!!

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Posted under Homeschool Bargains

Enjoy Science Experiment Videos Online (without the mess)

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May 2, 2009

krampf

Do you need a break from doing science in your kitchen?  My son loves to watch the fun Robert Krampf’s science videos.  He does great science experiment videos and posts them online.  Some are free, and you can get access to the entire collection for $20 a year, which is very reasonable if you have a curious middle schooler who will enjoy clicking through the videos on his/her own.

You can also sign up for his free “Experiment of the Week” newletter here.

Enjoy!

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Posted under Science Websites