Poetry Notebooks for Kindergarten

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Hi there, friends!  I’ve missed being here and missed you!  Wait, did anyone even notice I’ve been gone?  :)  If you’re wondering what I’ve been up to this summer, I’ll happily tell you…  GROWING!  Ha ha!  Here is a pic that one of the kids snapped of me… and Baby.  Yes, mamas, that’s juice and kitchen wipes in the background.  ;)  But maybe you couldn’t even tell because it’s so fuzzy.  ;)

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Well, I’m glad to be back in blogland!  I am looking forward to sharing our school-year fun with you here at i have no greater joy!

My crew did some school over the summer– 4 weeks of 4 subjects in July.  We took off in August and look forward to an “official first day of school” with all subjects next week.  This year I’ll have students ages 9, 8, 5, and 5 in 4th grade and Kindergarten.  I will be sharing all of our curriculum choices soon.  For now, I wanted to share with you the reason that my twinnies LOVE Mondays– new poem day!  

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Poetry Notebooks for Kindergarten

My new little kindergarteners have been keeping poetry notebooks.  I got the idea for our poetry notebooks from my big kids’ sweet K schoolteacher.  I’ve treasured my bigs’ notebooks for four years, and now my littles have their own.

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Each week the twins get a new poem to add to their notebooks.  I find one in a book or online and type it in a large, easy-to-read font.  This one activity has so many benefits…

  • sharpens memory skills
  • provides cutting practice (Ooooh, we need it!)
  • gives pasting practice.. when I let them do it :P
  • can provide exposure to great poetry– of course!
  • helps kiddos learn to read– phonics and sight words
  • provides exposure to rhyme and rhythm
  • provides oral speaking & reading practice
  • and more :)

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We read our poem of the week each morning and sometimes again later in the day.   Just look at all the words we are practicing!  (We could even take this into 1st grade and practice word endings, compound words, blends, the list goes on and on!)  We take turns reading the entire poem or alternate lines.  I ask them to find specific words.  Sometimes I cover a word and ask them what goes in that place.

I’ve recently started adding in some sight word poems.  Great practice!

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Oh, it will be so fun to add in poems for fall and winter and Christmas and Valentine’s Day

My 4th graders keep handwriting notebooks (Thanks for the idea, Julie!) and sometimes this includes poetry, too!  What a great way to sneak in a little poetry exposure without spending a lot of time on it!

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Poetry notebooks are just one of the many ways we are strengthening reading skills in our Kindergarten this year!  Check back for more ways that we are making reading FUN!

You might also be interested in…

Easy Ideas for Learning Letters

image4Calendar Activities (a reeeaaalllly old post)

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Olive Shoots, a Mother’s Day Gift, Blessed

Things have been quiet around the blog lately, but it’s been as loud and as busy as ever around our house!   Here’s a snapshot of our latest celebration…

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That’s right!  Little olive shoot # 5 is on the way!  We are so very thankful, so blessed.

“Blessed the man that fears Jehovah and that walketh in His ways; he shall eat of thy hands’ labor and be prospered all thy days.  Like a vine with fruit abounding in thy house thy wife is found, and like olive plants thy children compassing thy table round.”       (from Psalm 128, my favorite psalm to sing ~ You can read all about it here.)

My husband and I had known about our newest blessing since early April… for a whole month before we told our other children. It was hard to keep such joyous news a secret for so long!  However, we wanted to wait and share our excitement with all of the grandparents on Mother’s Day, and we knew the other kiddos would “spill the beans” to everyone they saw if they found out!  Meanwhile, they continued to pray for another baby each and every day.  :)

A couple of days before Mother’s Day, we decided to finally share the big secret with the kids.  We all sat around the table eating dinner as usual when Dad showed them a picture from the first ultrasound.

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That’s when I received the best Mother’s Day gift ever…  It was better than flowers, jewelry, sleeping late, having a day off.  It was one that I will ‘treasure up- pondering it in my heart’.  My sweet kiddos jumped up from their seats and shouted and laughed and hugged each other.  I heard #1 say, “This is the best day of my life!”   They danced around and jumped and were filled with joy– and so was I.  They forgot all about dinner!  I heard “Thank you, Father!”  and even “Woo hoo!”  It was a par-tay!  Then I heard the soft, sweet voice of my teeny, youngest daughter trying to be heard over the shouts.  “Come on guys!  Let’s go play!”   “Yeah!”  The four bounded into the den.

What?!  I don’t think so.  My mama-brain clicked into high gear.  We aren’t going skip dinner!

I walked into the den and found my kids kneeling, not playing but PRAYING.

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My little one had suggested that they pray, not play.  My heart melted.  They wanted to thank the One from Whom all blessings flow.  They knew that this tiny miracle was knit together by the Lord and their hearts wanted to praise Him and thank Him!  Seeing my children kneeling and praying that day was the best Mother’s Day gift I’ve ever received.  “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”  No.  Greater.  Joy.

Later that night, after all of the excitement and laughter and answers to questions and imagining what our baby will look like or when Baby’s birthday will be or what we will name our baby, I found my thoughtful, sweet, five-year-old son working to write something at the kitchen table.  He was copying from the Psalter.

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“It’s for you.  It’s your favorite, Mom.”

Blessed.  Blessed indeed.

“For Jehovah out of Zion will to thee His blessing send!”    Psalm 128:5

 

Easy Art for St. Patrick’s Day

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While I haven’t mentioned it here, St. Patrick’s Day is a great time to talk about the Trinity!  Take a minute to read our St. Patrick’s Day post from last year about Teaching the Trinity and then come back here for a few easy art ideas!  Last year’s post includes some fun activities, a printable, and a simple song for remembering the Trinity!  :)

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Click here to visit

We took an afternoon this week to get out the paints and pastels…

I got the idea for cork shamrocks from a post at Happy Hooligans.  Aren’t’ these flowers cute?  ;)

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I thought the corks used for the flowers would make great shamrocks!

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Did you know I was art major in college?  (Ok, it was only for 1 semester!)  I have wanted to find ways to incorporate art instruction into our homeschool, but I’ve had a hard time figuring that out!  I purchased A Seasonal Start in Spring Chalk Pastels from Hodgepodge.  It was such an easy solution!  My kids thought their pieces were MASTERpieces!   I think that is what I liked most about this activity… we followed the instructions and got great results!  Pastels are such an easy medium and this gave my kids the confidence and desire to do it again!  The ebook has lots of spring pastel tutorials to choose from!

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And another thing I liked about this activity… I have a festive St. Patrick’s Day display in my kitchen!  :)

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Don’t forget to teach your little ones about the Trinity on St. Patrick’s Day and get out those art supplies and HAVE FUN! :)

The Hidden Treasures of Tapestry of Grace

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Well, moms, it happened to us… we reached a dry place in homeschool.  Has that ever happened to you?  You slowly begin to realize that the sweet moments of enjoying learning together are becoming few and far between.  That family on the couch reading together– that wasn’t us.  Those kids working on projects together–  just in my head.  Those children excited about learning– not my kids.  School was becoming stale and something we just checked off each day.  “Did you do your handwriting?”  Check.  “Is your math paper done?”  Check.  “Let’s read this history lesson.”  Check.  “How many lessons do we have left?”  Check.

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Of course, I love our checklists.  I love getting things done.  But when it came to school, I was “checking” so much, that we weren’t savoring anything, just trying to finish.  Because, you know, homeschooling is hard.  Juggling four little people and life and lunch and laundry and errands and school, and finding great books to read, and thinking of fun projects, and including all the kids in the learning together, and making it enjoyable, and making it relevant, and showing them Jesus–  it isn’t easy.  (Cold winters don’t help, either!)  Some days, it seems the only way to make it all work is to just check it off.  Make it simple.  Get it done.  But there’s something missing in that.

I want to enjoy the journey.

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So, mid-year, I decided to try Tapestry of Grace.  Wow.  Wow.  Wow.  I am so thankful.

My job of making learning enjoyable and exciting just got easier.  Check!  My job of finding great books and fun projects– check!  My job of including everyone in the family– check!  My job of spreading an amazing feast before my children and really engaging them– easy!  My job of showing my children the hand of our awesome Lord in everything– done!   Tapestry of Grace makes all of those things that were so hard for me easy.

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Changing our history curriculum mid-year sounded scary to me.  And, let me tell you friends, I am PICKY about history.  My husband and I spread about five different programs out in our living room floor at the end of last summer.  We were making checklists, and charts, comparing pros and cons, trying to decide how to teach our children history this school year.  It turns out, even after all of the work, what we picked just wasn’t working for our family.  Then, I stumbled upon TOG.   I found that I could start off in Tapestry right where we were in our study of history by purchasing just one unit, just to give it a try.  I am SO GLAD THAT I DID!

The following information is from a review at Curriculum Choice:

“Tapestry of Grace is a classical approach, Biblically-based, unit study curriculum for the whole family. Tapestry covers eight subjects. Everyone learning together – each child on their own learning and skill level. Here are the subjects Tapestry covers:

  • History
  • Writing
  • Literature
  • Geography
  • Fine Arts
  • Church History
  • Philosophy
  • Government

So you need to add: Math, Grammar and Science”  and Bible study :)

If you’d like to find more about Tapestry of Grace, their website has great videos and helpful pages that you can explore.  You can even download sample week plans to read through and try with your family.  You will realize Tapestry includes some great things…

  • weekly goals and ‘threads’ for the student and teacher (I need this!  With so much you could learn, it’s so nice to have a focus!)
  • books, assignments, and art activities for all ages– elementary through high school
  • weekly teacher notes– so that Mom doesn’t have to read everything the children read but still knows what ‘s going on! :)
  • weekly vocabulary and people to know for elementary students
  • writing assignments
  • weekly geography places to know along with maps
  • government and philosophy for older students

I’ve heard Tapestry of Grace compared to a buffet.  A buffet is filled with wonderful things, but you can’t and shouldn’t eat everything!  With Tapestry, each family chooses the activities that interest them.  You can’t and shouldn’t try doing them all!

I found this review from Curriculum Choice very helpful.  You might like to read this review from Cathy Duffy.

The Hidden Treasures of Tapestry of Grace

Are you a mom considering TOG?  Have you somehow stumbled upon this post in your search for TOG information?

What I’d like to tell you about are the hidden treasures of Tapestry of Grace, the wonderful jewels that you might not see when you read reviews or might miss when you visit the website.  These are things that you don’t even realize are there until you use Tapestry of Grace with your family.

1.  Literature, Writing, and More!

This may seem simple or silly, but remember, I am still a new homeschooler.  We are nearing the end of our second year.  When I see “unit study” approach, I think “Ok, this company has added in some books about history, and that’s our literature. They ask students to write a paragraph about Greek pottery, and that ‘counts’ as writing.  We look at a map.  That’s geography.”

That is not the case with Tapestry.  For literature, my children are picking out story elements in their fiction books.  They are comparing story characters with Biblical characters.  They are finding the climax of stories from the Bible.  They are learning literature, the characteristics and features that make up a story.

My children will try several different styles of writing this year and are now working together to write a play.  If you choose to purchase “Writing Aids” TOG includes writing instruction and helps Moms teach writing.  (Tapestry of Grace works really well with notebooking, too!)

As geography study, my children are finding cities and mountains on maps and learning how the land has influenced history.  Mountains can stop empires from expanding. Land features affect war tactics. Soil and resources influence architecture and art.  As Tapestry’s author, Marcia Somerville said (something like) if history is God’s story, HIS story, then geography and the land are the stage on which the story takes place.

2.  Independence

TOG fosters independence.  While we are all learning about the same things and talking about the same things and even doing some projects together, my children are learning a lot independently.  Isn’t that one of our core goals in raising future adults?  This is not a mom-reads-everything unit study.  My 3rd graders are assigned independent reading, and they do it.  And they enjoy it!  :)  Of course, I am reading aloud some and reading to the littles, but most of the children’s learning is done on their own.

When I put out books for the week, I usually find the children reading more than I’ve assigned.  They want to dig in all own their own!  Then they want to come tell me about the neat things they’ve discovered about history!

Marcia Somerville, Tapestry’s author, even suggests letting children fill out their own checklists for the week with Mom’s guidance.  We haven’t gotten there yet, but doesn’t that sound great?!

3.  Deep Thinking / Biblical World View

I think this closely relates to independence.  I want my children to be THINKERS!  Have you ever tried to picture your young children as teenagers?  I have.  I picture these polite, well-spoken, intelligent young adults who are able to communicate well with others and defend their faith.  They are able to think about issues and form opinions and make connections based upon God’s Word–  BUT I DON’T KNOW HOW TO GET FROM HERE TO THERE!  :)  Tapestry of Grace is the map.  Tapestry includes questions all written out for Mom to lead a discussion.  There are accountability for questions for the kids.  There are questions that make the kids think, questions that I don’t have to come up with on my own.  ;)  Of course, the Lord gives us parents opportunities daily for these types of discussions.  Issues arise or questions are asked that lead to great conversations, but I like making them a part of our history study.  I am shaping minds, and that doesn’t happen too well when I’m in “check things off” mode.

4.  Confidence

Do you ever wonder if you’re doing a good job?  Do you wonder if your kids are learning enough?  Tapestry of Grace gives me confidence as a teacher.  Just read numbers 1-3 above!  Knowing I am really teaching more than history alone, fostering independence, and helping my children become thinking adults– that gives me confidence.  That makes this whole homeschooling thing a really wonderful experience for me.

5.  Support

You certainly wouldn’t realize the importance of this one unless you use TOG!  The Lampstand Press/ Tapestry of Grace website has an amazing help center.  You are able to get any questions you have answered thoroughly and quickly!  In the short time we’ve used Tapestry, I’ve had to “open a support ticket” about four times.  I’ve had questions about how to download something, questions about lesson plans, questions about why I couldn’t view files.  Each time I needed help, I got answers very quickly!

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So, are there things we just check off the list at my house?  You bet!  I am not all that concerned about grammar being interesting or fun.  We just do it.  Math?  It doesn’t have to be all that engaging.   Are there times at my house when homeschool doesn’t look like that pleasant family in my head?  Sure.  Tapestry of Grace, however, has made so many things enjoyable things.  History and the story of God’s hand throughout time should make my kids excited!  It should be something we are all eager to discover together!   It should be something we dig in and spend time in and get our hands dirty in!  Tapestry of Grace has done that for us.

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I know that Tapestry of Grace may not be a good fit for every family, especially if many of your children are very young.   And I hope yours is a homeschooling family that is already enjoying the journey of learning with something that works well for you!  However, if you are still searching for a way to make homeschooling the delightful, satisfying experience we all want it to be, you should check out Tapestry of Grace.  I am very thankful that I did!

A Fun “Kick Off” for Lent {and more Easter activities}

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Here’s a great visual we are using as a Lenten “kick off”….

I put vase of white flowers on the breakfast table for a few days to spark some curiosity!  My children didn’t know the water in the vase had been tinted with red food coloring.

“I bought these beautiful white flowers for our table to celebrate Lent!  Lent begins this week!  Aren’t they pretty?  These white flowers really remind me of Jesus.  Why do you think I would say that?  Why does white remind me of Jesus?”

It didn’t take long for the children to notice a change!

“MOM!  Mom, look at this!  This petal is turning red!”

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Watching the white flowers turn red has given us the opportunity to talk about what Jesus did at the cross when He took our sin upon Himself… the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!   You could do this activity any time during Lent or as a visual on Good Friday.

Here are activities we did last year to count down to Easter:

Click to visit each post.

Family Lenten Devotions and Easter Tree Ornaments

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Empty Tomb Cookies

Each step in making these cookies tells a different part of the Easter story.  They stay in the oven overnight, and there is a surprise the next morning!

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Christian Easter Hunt

There are no eggs in this Easter hunt!  Kids find objects that tell about Jesus’ last days on Earth.  It was fun to find olives, old shoes, marshmallows, soap, and more!  If you don’t want to do the hunt, just get the objects and use them for retelling the Easter story.  Then, let your kids put them in order!

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Wordless Book with a Song for Sharing the Good News

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John 13 Activity

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Click image to visit post.

I hope you enjoy counting down the days to Easter with your little ones!