Multiplication Tricks

Getting back into the school year we have to review our multiplication facts.  Some are just harder to remember than others.  My oldest son has most of the hard ones memorized by tricks that he learned from his Math-U-See video instructor.  Things like: I ate(8) and I ate(8) and that’s what I got sick(6) for(4).  Or he’s memorized rhymes that I taught him: six times six is thirty-six.  But there are facts like 6×7 and 7×7 that didn’t have any tricks or rhymes until we discovered them today.  They are a little more complicated so we’ll see how he does with them in the long run.  Also mastering the x3 and x4 facts are key to success.  Below I listed our tips and tricks for getting the multiplication table mastered.  We also use for doing math drills with addition, subtraction, multiplication, and soon division too.

  • 1’s- anything times one, is itself
  • 2’s- doubles, skip count
  • Skip count by 3’s, once they have them memorized go faster
    • Then in order learn the x3 facts, once mastered go faster, then master them out of order
  • Skip count by 4’s, once they have them memorized go faster
    • Then in order learn the x4 facts, once mastered go faster, then master them out of order
  • 5’s- skip count by five
  • 6×6=36 Rhyme: six times six is thirty six
  • 6×7=42 or 7×6=42  Hand trick, see below
  • 7×7=49  Hand trick, see below
  • 6×8=48 or 8×6=48 Rhyme: six times eight is forty eight
  • 7×8=56 or 8×7=56  5,6,7,8 -> 56=7×8
  • 8×8=64 I ate(8) and I ate(8) and that’s what I got sick(6) for(4)
  • 9’s- lay down the finger you are multiplying by nine, see below
  • 10’s- anything times ten is itself and add a zero






Orthotropics Phase 1

imageYesterday Jax and I took the two and a half hour drive down to Joplin, Missouri to start his Orthotropics treatment.  His feelings were relatively benign about the whole thing as we talked on the way down.  When we got there Dr. Detar showed Jax the expander that he would be wearing for the next 4-6 months.  The doctor inserted it and made the adjustments needed.  It was set to the side and next they prepared and installed Jax’s braces.  A couple brackets popped off his baby teeth and had to be glued back on.  Then they put the expander in for the full effect.  Jax panicked and started gagging so we quickly removed it.  After a break we tried again which didn’t go any better.  So we decided to hold off inserting the expander until Jax adjusted to the change of having braces.  He did really great but was a little overwhelmed.  Getting the wire put on the brackets was a little rough for him.  I was worried that he may be too young to handle all of this.

imageAfter we left Detar’s office we went in search of an ice cream place.  We found Andy’s and had some delicious custard.  It was a distraction and a perk for Jax.  Being a mother of four I don’t often get to spend one on one time with my children away from my other children.  So getting custard was a special treat.  During the ride to the ice cream place we tried inserting the expander several times.  Jax showed great effort and I was really proud of him for trying.  The child has had a super sensitive gag reflex since he was born.  We headed back home and Jax kept trying to keep the expander in for longer durations.  He told me that he was fine with the braces but didn’t want to have the expander.  That it was no fun and he didn’t like having to do any of this.

imageOver the course of the next two hours he was able to keep the extender in his mouth for longer periods of time.  He did best when he wasn’t focused on it and watching a movie.  By the time he got home he was pretty proud of himself for being able to keep it in for so long.  When he saw his siblings he was super excited to show them his mouth and all the goodies he got with his Orthotropics.  A water flosser, three sided tooth brush, and some wax are awesome to a seven year old.  As the evening progressed Jax flipped his perspective.  He was no longer having any issues with his expander and kept it in all evening and all night.  The pressure of the braces on the other hand made his gums hurt and he was in pain.  He told me he’d keep the expander but didn’t like the braces.  Poor kid.  He had mushroom soup for dinner while the rest of us ate pork chops and zucchini with rice.  I gave him Ibuprofen to help him with the pain earlier in the day.  At night I gave him some melatonin to help him fall asleep faster.

This morning he struggled at breakfast eating his oatmeal so I gave him some more Ibuprofen.  He’s doing much better more.  Less complaining about the pain and more goofing around instead of doing his math sheet.  So overall it was a rough start but it’s getting better.  He adapted pretty quickly in reality.  In a few days the pain won’t be so bad.  Tonight I will start enlarging the expander by one tiny adjustment.  We will continue that each night until his next appointment in 3 weeks.  The braces make him look older to me but he’s still my baby and I have to remind myself that this is best for him in the long run.  I think he’s young enough that any teasing will be milder than in middle school, and less traumatic than in high school.  We’re trying to encourage him to feel special about having them.  He goes to enrichment one day a week starting next week.  That’s the only interaction I’m worried about since I’m not there to help.  He also has co-op but I will be around and can help him explain how neat it is that he gets to have braces.  It’s all in perspective.  Being positive is key to a happy life.  This is going to benefit his character in the long run I think.

For more details on Orthotropics and why we choose this method please read my previous post.

Child Jaw Growth & Orthotropics

So usually in modern day medicine and healthcare there are a lot of treatments that target symptom relief.  Usually these treatments don’t treat the problem and often can cause more damage in the process.  I believe that for some people the practice of orthodontics does this.  There are plenty of people whose jaws grew in just fine but they had crooked teeth for one reason or another and they used conventional orthodontic braces to align their teeth.  These are not the people I’m referring to.  I’m referring to the people who have an issue with stunted jaw growth and improper tongue placement. When people snore, sleep with their mouth open, suck their thumbs, etc they are not sleeping with their tongue in the correct position.  The tongue correctly nestled at the roof of your mouth when you sleep counteracts the pressure placed on the upper teeth from the lips.  Without the tongue at the roof of your mouth the lips push the teeth out of alignment.  With the mouth open the jaw drops back and doesn’t grow properly.  This causes crowding and crooked teeth.  Conventional orthodontic treatment does not fix the jaw growth issue and instead they usually extract four teeth, to make room in your mouth.  Tooth extraction is dangerous for the body and often causes a myriad of other health issues. The alternative to OrthoDONtics that addresses the problem of a jaw with stunted growth, often before the teeth have the chance to become crooked, is OrthoTROpics(or-thuh-troh-fiks).  Orthotropics uses appliances to align the jaw correctly and encourages the mouth to close properly.  Treatment time is much shorter than traditional orthodontics, it’s in the range of 6-12 months.  It’s also at an age where children are more likely to corporate.  Children’s jaws are growing from the ages of 6-10.  This is the opportune time to make the bite alignment that encourages the jaw to grow appropriately.

imageTwo days ago I took my two boys to the closest Orthotropic doctor, who was a 3 hour drive south in Joplin, MO.  Dr. DeTar was amazing with my boys.  He had them completely relaxed, laughing, and having a good time.  Which was great because we were there for almost 3 hours.  Zavien, my almost 9-year-old was seen first.  He was within range for normal jaw growth and the doctor said he had room for his teeth to come in.  However, my 7-year-old, Jaxon, exhibited the facial profile, crowded teeth, and permanent grimace that are signs of a jawline that’s not growing correctly.  It may be from sucking his thumb as a toddler, but it’s also definitely from sleeping with his mouth open at night.  Below are the profiles of my boys.  Zavien is in yellow and with his pictures you can really compare to see how Jax’s lack of horizontal jaw growth, he’s in orange, makes Jax look like he has a recessed lower lip, pronounced cheeks, crowded teeth, and a gummy smile.  These brothers are 19 months apart in age.  The notes to the right of the images are to share the difference to look for in the boy’s profiles.

image image  <grimace, big cheeksimage image<protruding upper lip

In the pictures below the gap between my boy’s front teeth due to their muscle frenum is unassociated with the jaw growth issue.  I will be leaving Zavien’s for now as it’s a minor issue and Dr. DeTar thinks will correct on it’s own.  Jaxon’s is more prevalent so we will research and closely watch the issue as he grows.

image image<crooked teeth, no spaceimage image<gummy smile

image imageimage image imageYour jaw is suppose to grow in at a 45 degree angle, give or take a little.  Jax has more vertical growth than horizontal growth.  Basically because he sleeps with his mouth open it causes his jaw to drop down and back.  Which means not only does his jaw not grow where it needs to in order to match his upper mouth, but it also means his tongue isn’t pushing his upper teeth into place.  So the pressure from his cheeks has made it so there is no room for his adult teeth to fit aligned in his mouth.  According to his x-ray when his canines come in they will probably come in through the side of his gums above the rest of his teeth, because there just won’t be any room.  draft_lens8553821module79854981photo_1263820482damon-case2My brother actually had this issue as a kid and his canines grew in like this guy pictured to the right. A chronic issue associated with a jaw that has not grown in appropriately, is joint pain and clicking.  Also by moving the jaw forward into the correct position it allows more room for the airways and helps prevent breathing issues like sleep apnea.  It also corrects the face shape, which has psychological benefits as well.  Below is a great quick video from Dr. DeTar that explains the risks of a misgrown jaw and the benefits of Orthotropics.


This is all a learning experience for me.  I went with conventional orthodontic treatment at 18 and it made my smile smaller, my teeth crooked even after four years in braces.  And the reason it didn’t work for me?  I sleep with my mouth open and the pressure of my cheeks crowds my mouth.  I can use Orthotropics to help me as well.  It will retrain my mouth and jaw for proper positioning 24/7.  Essentially creating new habits.  My jaw is within normal range but sleeping with my mouth open is my down fall.  Someday I will probably get treatment, but for now our four children’s treatments are our focus.  In 3-4 years I will take my girls in to get evaluated.  Zavien will go back when all his adult teeth are grown in to see if there is any cosmetic straightening that would be beneficial.  I hope you’ve found this enlightening and thanks for reading!

Mommy Tummy Challenges

I saw a ton of ab challenges pop up on Facebook the last week of May and it’s really concerning to me.  These ab challenges are geared toward mother’s wanting to flatten their tummies for summer after having babies.  Crunches and sit-ups have been proven to compromise the pelvic floor and exasperate Diastasis Recti(split ab muscles post pregnancy).  While I totally understand wanting to flatten my baby tummy, I don’t want to damage my pelvic floor or widen the split in my abs.  So I decided to post about a safer exercise option and challenge that was short and effective.  I combined Peak Fitness Exercises with core ab exercises that don’t compromise your pelvic floor or risk splitting your abs.  While most postpartum mamas are ready to get back to their pre-baby shape with newborn in arm, these exercises are not recommended for new mamas, mamas with severe Diastasis Recti, or please consult your doctor or midwife.  My youngest just turned 3 years old and my Diastasis Recti is one finger width, but I would have attempted this challenge when she was 1 year as well.  You know your body and listen to your pelvic floor!  You can tell when too much is too much.  Alternatively Yoga is a very gentle and effective way to tone your body and reach overall physical fitness.

Peak Fitness Exercises are:

  1. 2 minutes of warm ups
  2. 30 seconds of high intensity (pelvic floor safe: swimming, rowing, pedaling) (sprinting, stairs, jump rope)
  3. 90 seconds of “rest” in aerobic and anaerobic states
  4. repeat 7 times
  5. 2 minutes of cool down

During your 30 seconds of high intensity you want to reach your heart rate max.  The heart rate max which is a formula of 220 beats per minute minus your age.  So for example my formula is 220-29(my age)=191 heartbeats per minute.

Mommy Tummy Safe Core Exercises:

If you have or had Diastasis Recti NO crunches or sit-ups, ever again.  If you feel your core is strong you can attempt planks.  If you try a plank and your core feels firm and engaged, carry on. But if it makes you feel as if your innards are falling out at the front, STOP RIGHT THERE!  If you can do planks here are some great core exercises to firm your abs.  Modify all plank exercises to be on your forearms instead of your hands to protect your pelvic floor.

  • Burpees (don’t do the jump up if your pelvic floor is weak, do a slight hop if it’s sound)
  • Plank Push Ups
  • 3pt Plank
  • Active Plank
  • Mountain Climbers
  • Plank Pulls
  • Elevators
  • Reach and Slide
  • Stability Ball Roll Outs

Tips for best results:

  • Get a good night’s sleep
  • Avoid a high fat meal prior to exercising
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Eat healthy carbs (think vegetables) and high quality protein
  • Optimize your vitamin D levels
  • Avoid sugar, especially fructose

AVOID all sugar and fruit for 2 hours after these work outs because it will destroy the natural fat burning “human growth hormones” you created during your workout.

EAT 20-25mg of protein within 30 minutes of your workout for post exercise fueling.

Do NOT do more than 3 of these high intensity sessions per week.  It will wear your body out.  You can do up to 5 if you are doing them at moderate intensity but you will get better results with 3 high intensity workouts.  Think quality not quantity!  Make those 30 seconds of high intensity count!  Push as hard as you can.  If you can keep going after 30 seconds you didn’t push hard enough.

Tool for easy application:

Download this FREE app for your phone to time your intervals!  So handy and makes timing a breeze!

Essential Oils Help Shed Baby Weight:




Ledum with Citrus Fresh

Missouri Health Department Employee Refusing to Give Immunization Exempt Cards to Parents

A natural parenting friend of mine posted on social media about her attorney and naturopath friend who called the Missouri health department after an altercation with Marion County health department.  State employees, at the Marion location, informed the mother that she was required to drive to Jeff City to obtain the religious immunization exempt cards needed for her child’s school records.  Employee’s would not give this mother and others the cards stating that the “State told them not to pass them out.”  Upset that the religious exemption law may have changed, the mother called the Missouri health department in Jeff City for clarification.  Jeff City assured her the law had not changed and she was to obtain the cards at her local health department.  The mother called the Marion department back to confront them about the situation.  After being transferred through several employees the mother was finally told “well we ran out of cards and people rarely take one and we are for vaccinations.”  The mother informed the state employee that she was not for vaccinations and that it was deceiving to tell parents that there was no religious exemption.  The mother asked when they would have the cards on hand in the future and was informed that there was no law that required the Marion health department to have the cards at their location.  The mother then informed the employee that she would be calling Jeff City to inform them of their refusal to carry the exemption cards.  The employee quickly backtracked her position and promised to call the state and order the cards.  The mother told her that she was happy to hear that they would no longer be misleading parents and they would supply the exemption cards.  The mother intends to check back on the status of the cards at the Marion health department and may be making some calls to friends in high places.  Marion employees might be shocked to find a huge package of religious exemption cards in the mail some day soon.

When I was in school, my parents also chose not to fully vaccinate my brother and I.  At that point in time the school nurse was the one to supply the exemption cards.  Depending on the nurse’s temperament and position on vaccinations it was either a simple exchange or altercation with her and my mother.  These employees have no rights to refuse to supply parents with these cards.  Whether it was the nurse in ’98, or the local health department employee in 2014, it is not their job to harass parents about their vaccination choices.  It’s merely their job to hand over the cards.

Missouri parents have the legal right to supply their child’s school with a religious exemption card for immunization requirements.  This card can be obtained at local county health departments or ordered from the following website.  I have had several friends order from the website and received their cards promptly and without altercations with misleading state employees.  If a state employee tells you that the state is not allowing them to hand out religious exemption cards, they are wrong.  Inform them of the law and their requirement to provide you with the card when asked.  It is not legal for them to deceive parents and refuse to supply the cards on this pretense.

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Get Dirty! It’s Grounding!

For my birthday this year my in-laws gave me a grounding sheet!  I was pleasantly surprised as I had been looking at them for awhile but hadn’t mentioned it to anyone.  Grounding is the process of connecting to the earth’s flow of electrons.  This energy has been scientifically proven to reduce inflammation in the body.  As my husband and I both have lower back and hip pain, this process has intrigued me.  We’ve used essential oils to relieve the pain, see the chiropractor to prevent further damage and hopefully correct the problem, and get massages to release the tight muscles.  The chronic inflammation and pain have made our healing seem impossible.

So on the night of receiving my grounding sheet I plugged it in and went to sleep.  In the middle of the night I became aware of my sore throat and my son crawling into bed with us.  In the morning my son was ill with diarrhea and throwing up.  I felt achy and on the verge of a cold the entire day and hung out in bed on my grounding sheet.  Looking it up I discovered there was a small percentage of people who experienced a detox effect from grounding.  I guess my son and I were some of them.  I had a urine analysis at the beginning of 2011 that made me aware of how toxic my system had become.  I have been on a quest to improve my health ever since.  So finding that the grounding was detoxing me even more in addition to the other processes I’ve done didn’t surprise me.

I wonder if one of the reasons children are so healthy despite eating the same things as their parents at the dinner table is their connection to the earth.  Digging in the mud, making mud pies, feeling the loose dirt as they burry their toes down deep.




Mercola’s View on Grounding

Grounding on Natural News

“The living matrix is defined as the continuous molecular fabric of the organism, consisting of fascia, the other connective tissues, extracellular matrices, integrins, cytoskeletons, nuclear matrices and DNA. The extracellular, cellular and nuclear biopolymers or ground substances constitute a body-wide reservoir of charge that can maintain electrical homeostasis and “inflammatory preparedness” throughout the organism. Recent research has emphasized the significance of charge transfer in relation to the scavenging or neutralization of free radicals delivered to sites of injury during and after the oxidative burst. Evidence comes from studies of the role of electrons in mitigating the consequences of inflammation when living systems are connected to the earth (earthing). The phenomenon helps explain how bodywork and movement therapies can facilitate the resolution of acute or chronic injuries, and how patients with inflammatory conditions may “deplete” a therapist during hands-on treatments. It is suggested that barefoot contact with the earth as well as hands-on and hands-off therapies facilitate healing by stimulating the migration of charges into sites of acute or chronic inflammation. One hypothesis to explain the effects of earthing is that charges from the ground substance reservoir prevent “collateral damage” to healthy tissues in the vicinity of an injury. A second hypothesis is that earthing allows electrons to replenish charge in the ground substance reservoirs, making electrons available throughout the body.”  -James Oschman, Ph.D.

Resurrection Eggs

The story of Christ’s sacrifice is a story told all year long. At Easter time the story has an even more special meaning. At this time of year while we focus on friends, family, and festivities it’s important to take time to stop and remember what Christ went through for us. It’s time to solidify all the details of his journey for our children. To remind them that Jesus was sent to save them from their sins. To remind them how much he loved us and what he was willing to do to protect us.

At our house we read Benjamin’s Box and we use Resurrection Eggs to remind our children of the details of Christ’s sacrifice.  There are a dozen eggs and each has a token inside to remind us of a segment of Christ’s journey.  Inside the first egg is a miniature toy donkey to represent Christ’s arrival into Jerusalem, the donkey symbolized him coming in peace.  The second egg contains coins to represent the betrayal of the priests.  The third egg holds a cup that reminds us of the last supper and sacrament.  The fourth egg has praying hands to show the time Christ spent in the garden before he was taken by the Roman soldiers.  The fifth egg contains a leather strip in remembrance of how he was beaten.  The sixth egg holds a crown of thorns.  The seventh egg holds a cross of nails which if you push the tip into your palm will leave a red mark and helps child have a visual of the holes in Christ’s hands and feet.  The eighth egg holds a die to symbolize the Roman soldiers gambling for Christ’s clothing.  The ninth egg holds a spear as to the one that pierced Christ’s side.  The tenth egg holds a piece of white cloth like what Jesus was wrapped in in death.  The eleventh egg is a stone like the one that blocked Christ’s tomb.  The twelfth egg is empty just as the tomb was empty on the third day because Christ lives!


Resurrection Eggs are a wonderful tangible way for children to understand the story of Christ’s sacrifice.  Our little Vaylee, who just turned three, was  able to comprehend parts of the story and sat and listen for the duration.  Tylea, who is almost five, loved to hold each item and open the eggs to discover each treasure.  The symbolism helped Jax, age seven, and Zavien, eight-and-a-half, remember the order of events and importance of each token.  It was a fun and meaningful way to talk about the true meaning of Easter.

What is Common Core?

This is a good video for understanding what is going on in the United States in concerns with the Common Core educational goals, standards, and assessments. This will affect ALL of us. Rich or poor, vocational or educational, young and old, public and private. These are our children, our legacies. This concerns the fate of our future. It’s heartbreaking what is happening to our children. They are being defeated and beaten down on a daily basis. Their self esteem and self image is being obliterated by this set of standards and it’s implementation. These common core methods are literally damaging our children’s brain pathways and will cause life long damage. They don’t have a voice except for us- their guardians. Will you be silent while you watch them suffer at the hands of dysfunctional education system and a controlling federal government? Free our children, free our teachers, FREE EDUCATION! If we are an uneducated nation we will be easy to conquer and control. The United States of America as setup by our forefathers will cease to exist.

“Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom.”
-George Washington Carver

“Education is a better safeguard of liberty than a standing army.”
-Edward Everett

“Only the educated are free.”

“Next in importance to freedom and justice is popular education, without which neither freedom nor justice can be permanently maintained.”
-James A. Garfield

“All men who have turned out worth anything have had the chief hand in their own education.”
— Sir Walter Scott

“Men had better be without education than be educated by their rulers.”
— Thomas Hodgskin

Common Core in the news:

Common Core as viewed by higher education:

1, 2, 3, 4 My Elementary Tour

1st Grade

First grade is really when homeschool gets rolling.  You add a bunch of curriculum that you didn’t cover in kindergarten or preschool.  You spend more time learning in each specific subject area.  There is a lot of growing and stretching that happens this 1st grade year.  It’s the transition year between fun kindergarten and the next 12 years of focused learning.  Children are excited to be growing up but we have to be conscience as parents to encourage their curiosity and thirst for knowledge.  Too much school can squash that thirst and it’s a fine line.

For us in 1st grade we add history, science, literature, spelling, grammar, memorization, art/music history, and some computer work.  That’s in addition to the reading, writing, math, and piano that we established in kindergarten.  It’s quite the adjustment for the child.  For a first child they are usually excited to be learning new things.  For a younger sibling they are big like their big brother/sister and get to do that work now!  They’re excited!

Science, history, and literature are great stories that the child probably hasn’t heard before.  The children are eager to hear these wonderful stories about new exciting things.  The major growth with those subjects in 1st grade is that the child has to really hear the story and answer questions about what they heard.  That’s a new skill that usually takes a couple months.  For us, in history, I will have the child listen to the audio story several times.  The first time they get to color the accompanying coloring sheet while they listen with headphones.  When they can’t answer any questions then they listen again without coloring.  If they still don’t know the answers, I will play the lesson out loud, and pause it after the answer to each question is given.  By the middle of 1st grade the child has learned what is expected in the lesson and tries to pay close attention to find the answers the first time.

Grammar and memorization are new in 1st grade too.  For example memorizing the definition of a noun, and poems about the days in the months.  Children are actually very good at memorizing things and our grammar lessons are short and sweet and the repetition is just right.  I also have my children pick out a poem to memorize in 1st grade.  My oldest son picked The Crocodile by Lewis Carole.  My second son has chosen A Visit by St. Nicolas by Clement Clarke Moore(he’s 1/4 through having it memorized and possibly regretting choosing such a long poem).  We have them preform their chosen poem in front of family around the end of the school year.

Z marking the phonetic rules on his spelling words

Spelling is a natural progression from learning phonograms and beginning reading.  We have a really long list of spelling words(with their rules explained) to complete over several years.  We do 10 words at a time.  We go over each word, and the sound each letter makes in that word.  We review any spelling rules we come across and the child copies these into his note book.  Next, I have uploaded a spelling app that allows custom spelling lists.  It has a study test option which shows the words and plays my voice using the word in a sentence.  It also has a word search and word scramble.  There is a testing feature that has smiley hints.  My children will review their spelling words in this app for several days until they feel confident to take their spelling test.  My 3rd grader is moving through his spelling lists at a quick rate while my 1st grader takes his time.  But that’s okay.  We are working on spelling mastery not an extensive 1st grade vocabulary.  Whichever words they miss on their spelling test I will add onto their next list of 10 words.

Also in addition to reading verbally with mom/dad, we start a required 30 minutes of independent reading.  At first we called it silent reading so that the child understood the difference.  But now we call it fun reading.  It’s child’s choice of which books they would like to read at this time.  But they have to choose out of a basket with books appropriate for their actual reading level, or they may look through books we got at the library that week, or follow along with an audio book.

For art/music history we try to include stories from artists and musicians from the past, pictures of their creations, or audios of their masterpieces.  We visit museums, play classical music while doing math, we do art lessons from Artistic Pursuits, and watch Little Einsteins.

We do math drills on the computer at and that has been a nice intro to the number pad on the computer.  The boys also do supervised google searches for special interest coloring pages.  I have a typing program that I need to get setup on a desktop for them to use that I just haven’t gotten to yet.  Typing will be part of my younger children’s 1st grade experience in the future.

1st, 2nd Grade Daily
 Math 30mn  Grammar 15mn  Writing 15mn
Spelling 15mn  Verbal Reading 15mn Req Reading 30mn
Piano 30mn
 Science 1.5hr/wk  History 1.5hr/wk Literature 3hr/wk
 Music History  Art History Art/Crafts

2nd, 3rd, & 4th Grades

We basically continue the above pattern through fourth grade.  In 2nd or 3rd grade we will add cursive handwriting and latin.  At what point in time we add it depends on the child’s level of development.  I introduced cursive to my second grader last year and it was tears and just awful.  So we only did that one lesson(and switched curriculum).  By fall of this year it was easy peasy.  He’s flown through his Cursive Without Tears book basically all by himself.  We just purchased him a new cursive book of Bible verses that he’ll start next week.  I’m looking forward to starting latin and I would have introduced it right after Christmas break but I’m waiting for the spring conference sale.  At Mardel’s last week I decided I liked Prima Latin best so I will be picking that up on April 4th!

In 3rd grade the required reading time also increased from 30 minutes to one hour.  That’s time that has to be spent reading chapter books of the child’s choice.  I feel that it is imperative that these books be of interest to the child.  If one series doesn’t work try a different one.  Our son was intimidated by books without pictures so we started with the Geronimo series.  It was goofy and about dinosaurs.  Perfect for an 8 year-old-boy.  He’s been reading through those at a faster and faster rate which is so exciting.  This past Saturday we picked out a new Christian series that is from Odyssey that he’s interested in.  He calls it a cross between Odyssey and Magic Tree House.  I want all my children to have a love of literature.  I strive to read to them daily and often change my voice for each character.  I’m personally so grateful to my 3rd grade teacher for gifting me with a love of reading.

3rd, 4th Grade Daily
 Math 30mn  Grammar 15mn  Writing 15mn
Spelling 15mn  Verbal Reading 30mn Req Reading 1hr
Piano 30mn  Cursive 30mn  Latin 30mn
 Science 1.5hr/wk  History 1.5hr/wk Literature 3hr/wk
 Music History  Art History Art/Crafts

I haven’t taught 4th grade yet but that is our plan above.  These first four years are called the “Grammar Stage,” in classical education.  It’s when children are little sponges.  These are the years in which the building blocks for all other learning are laid.  Grades 5-8 are called the “Logic Stage,” is a time when the child begins to pay attention to cause and effect, to the relationships between different fields of knowledge relate, to the way facts fit together into a logical framework.  And grades 9-12 are called the “Rhetoric Stage,” where a student learns to write and speak with force and originality. The student of rhetoric applies the rules of logic learned in middle school to the foundational information learned in the early grades and expresses his conclusions in clear, forceful, elegant language.  At this point you also focus on special interests and training for the future.  (Source)

Check out my curriculum post for this 2013-2014 school year for a full list of what we use.  And here are links for information on how I teach preschool and kindergarten.

Balance, Step, Walk, Run-Kindergarten

When a toddler begins the process to walk he first starts by pulling himself up to standing and works on his balance.  Next he holds onto something as he takes steps.  Then he lets go of his support and takes his first step on his own.  Next he’s walking and then running.  It’s a process.  Some children go from standing to walking quite quickly, while others take their time.

This process is the same with reading, writing, and arithmetic.  You start with the basics and each child grows in their own time.  So realize this before you start teaching your kindergartener.  If your expectation is that you will be teaching and correcting your child’s basic reading and writing capabilities until 2nd, 3rd, and possibly 4th grade then it will be a happy surprise if they pick up on fluency earlier.

AisforApple2READING:  First we start with phonics.  We learn the 72 phonograms by sight WITHOUT visual aids.  We have used audio aids on some of the harder ones. However, I’m not sure if that will hinder them in the long run.  When you give a visual or audio aid when learning phonics then the child has to first remember the image or aid before they can deduce the basic sound(s).  A is for apple, for instance.  The child first has to remember Apple, then only one of the three sounds that A makes.  So we don’t use any visual aids.  They only look at a flashcard with the letter on it.

While our children can sing their alphabet at a very young age we do not introduce the letter names when we are doing phonograms.  We call the letters by their phonetic sounds.  So instead of calling A by it’s name, we call it by ă, ā, and ä.  We call the letter O by it’s phonetic sounds of ŏ, ō, ŭ, and oo.

Jax with phonetic flashcards

We introduce phonogram flashcards a few at a time until they are mastered.  When the first four are memorized, we add a few more, while still reviewing all the ones we’ve mastered.  We start this process in pre-k but we don’t accomplish all 74  basic phonograms until kindergarten usually.  Every child is different and I’ve heard of children reading at age 3.

We introduce the first 26 phonograms in this order: o, c, a, d, f, g, s, qu, e, b, h, i, j, k, l, m, n, p, r, t, u, v, w, x, y, and z.  Most letters only have one sound, six have two sounds, three have three sounds, and one has four sounds.  So the first 26 phonograms have 41 different sounds in total.

Once the first 26 phonograms are established we start phonics readers.  We have the Biscuit Books set and the children really love it.  After the Biscuit books we read through some Dick and Jane books, then we start McGuffey’s Pictorial Primer and the readers from Christian Light Publications.  Our kindergartener also sits and flips through books or listens to audio books during their “silent reading” time.


WRITING:  Once the child has mastered how to read the first 26 phonograms we start on learning to write the letters.  We learn to write in the same order that we learned to read.  We use a curriculum called Phonics for Reading and Spelling.  In it there are charts and one of them is called the Circle Space.  We used the Circle Space and especially the star station in learning to write letters.

LetterAPhonogramThe curriculum flashcards can be purchased separately from the whole system.  On the front of the card is the letter.  And on the back of each card are instructions on how to say the sounds of the letter, sample words the sounds are in, and letter formation verbiage.  To the right is a picture of the back of our flashcard for letter A.  These are invaluable to me as a teacher and have made teaching to read and write simple without a lot of book work.

Using these stations has made explaining letter writing very simple.  And there are names for each of the lines as well.  It makes it fun and easy to learn the rules of penmanship.  It also makes it very simple for me to correct letter formation in higher grades.  I’m often telling my 1st grader not to let his letters touch the poison line.



After learning how to write each letter, I continue using the line names and circle space stations in corrections as the children write.  It’s very important in the beginning to watch them as they write during “writing time”.  You do not allow them to form bad habits.  You watch how they are holding their pencil, guide them as needed(watch out for the shark line), and erase and repeat if mistakes are made.  I do not correct their penmanship in other subjects.

ARITHMETIC:  We use Math-U-See and we all really like it.  “Math-U-See is designed to teach students specific skills that build as the student progresses. This systematic and cumulative approach uses a definite, logical sequence of concept instruction. The Math-U-See system is structured with step-by-step procedures for introducing, reviewing, practicing, and mastering concepts. Each lesson teaches using multi-sensory tools such as videos, manipulatives, and other resources, designed to appeal to any type of learner.”

At our house the child sits and watches the video.  We do the first worksheet together to make sure instructions are understood and the concept is established.  Then they do the rest of the worksheets on their own over a week.  If they have questions they ask.  I grade their worksheets each day and they have to go back and correct any mistakes.  That helps me, as the teacher, catch if they are not understanding the concept since I’m working with several of my children while they are doing their math worksheets.

MORE:  We also do piano lessons, crafts, and my kindergartener is invited to sit into my older children’s history, science, and literature lessons and experiments/activities.  One day a week they attend the Discovery Homeschool Academy and at the end of the year our little kindergartener has a graduation!  He loved it!

Kindergarten Daily
Math 30mn Writing 15mn Piano 30mn
Phonics 15mn  Verbal Reading 15mn Req Reading 15mn
 Science  History Literature
 Music History  Art History Art/Crafts

Check out my curriculum post for last 2012-2013 school year for a full list of what we used.  And here are links for information on how I teach preschool and elementary.