Little Log Cottage School

An Educational Blog to Inspire Creativity, Character, Grit, and the Love of Learning


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Summer Learning: 7 Ways To Keep Our Minds Active This Summer

learning through the summer

It may not officially be summer yet, but we’ve already declared summer break!  We’ve completed our 180 days so now it’s time to get ready for next year.  Actually that’s not 100% true.  While I’m in the earliest stages of planning for next year, I’m also working on our summer school plans.  Yes, homeschoolers usually do some school here and there throughout the summer to keep our minds active and fresh for the fall.

We’ll be doing a week long thematic unit on soil and composting in June and we’re continuing to do a few academics this month before we begin any screen time for the day.

1. Moses and Exodus Study.  Because we didn’t get to continue our Moses and Exodus study from Grapevine Bible Studies, we’ll be working on this in the mornings after a long leisurely breakfast on the porch.  This was requested from Princess who is throughly enjoying this new study.

2. Write a letter to a friend.  Pixie really needs some more practice writing sentences to gain confidence in sounding out and spelling words.  To make sure she’s progressing in this skill before the new school year begins, I’ve been requiring the kids to write a letter to someone before they can have any kind of screen time.  Kids often balk at writing assignments, but I find writing to a friend can be a bit more enjoyable.  It’s fun to put your letter in the envelope, put on the stamp, and take it to the mailbox.  We’re hoping we’ll get letters in return and continue our writing throughout the summer.

3. Read, read, read!   Princess will be beginning 3rd grade in the fall (sniff) so she’s been beginning to practice reading chapter books the last couple of months.  Right now she’s reading The A-Z Mystery series, and Pixie has been starting to work on her 1st grade leveled readers.  No screen time before reading time!

4. A+ Math Interactive  Princess didn’t finish up her assessments with this program this year and I went ahead and registered for a free 3 months with this company.  I’ll have her keep working on the addition, subtraction, and multiplication portion of this program so she’ll be ready to go this fall.  This will also help me plan our math lessons for next year.  Reading her assessment score will enable me to push or pull back depending on her ability level.

(See my review on this math program here)

5. Reading A-Z  I’m tutoring another student in reading this summer.  While I’m preparing lessons and activities for her, I’ll also go ahead and have Princess do a few of the activities as well.  This is a great resource to practice reading fluency, comprehension, and word skills.

6. Piano Lessons  I fell really behind  this year with piano lessons.  We’ll be returning to our Friday afternoon lessons with a lot of practicing during the week.  Pixie needs a refresher on remembering notes and Princess just needs to continue leaning new songs and keeping that desire to play.

7. Scrabble  My kids are not the best spellers. Princess loves to play games so she found a Scabble app on my Nook.  I’ve come to realize that this game is perfect for her to practice spelling and to become a more confident speller.  Plus, it’s a game.  It’s a lot more fun to learn when you’re playing games!

Our schedule for the day will be a lot more lax.  We won’t be beginning at 8:30 like we do during a normal school day.  We like to hang out on the porch in our pjs and eat breakfast in the mornings so we’re not ready to begin our bible study until much later in the morning. It didn’t take too long to get the kids into the swing of working on these skills before they ask to watch t.v. or play on the computer.  I don’t feel like the wicked witch anymore when I tell them they have to keep reading and writing through their summer break.  They are automatically doing it on their own!

What do you do with your kids during the summer?


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Summer Discount Deal and Code for Little Passports

**The links in this post are affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

Hi everyone!  This week I’m going to be talking with you about how to keep learning during the summer!  I couldn’t pass up sharing this deal on one of the most exciting resources for kids!

If you all know of any other discounted resources for the summer, leave a comment below!

Got travel plans this summer with your family?

Why not take your kids on an epic summer adventure with Little Passports! Monthly packages include activities, souvenirs, stickers & more, each exploring a new destination or theme. They’ve got adventures for kids 3-12 with the Early Explorers, World Edition, or USA Edition.

For TWO DAYS only, Little Passports is offering a 15% discount on ALL subscriptions. Order now and start your summer adventure! Enter coupon code READY15 at checkout. Order soon, this deal ends May 20th!!

little passports

It’s so much fun to get adventures in the mail!

Fine print: **Offer valid on new subscriptions only and cannot be combined with any other offers and/or applied retroactively to previously placed orders. 15% discount is applied to the first month only on Monthly Plan subscriptions. Offer excludes shipping and taxes. Offer valid from May 19th, 2015 at 8:00AM EST to May 20th, 2015 at 11:59PM EST.


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Discovering The 5 Love Languages For School- Lessons for Grades 1-6

5 Love Languages

I am constantly striving to find and implement quality lessons on character into our school day.  Last month I was asked to review “Discovering The 5 Love Languages For School” which is a new curriculum based on “The 5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman.

This new curriculum was created by D.M. Freed, a former elementary teacher and current school counselor for the last 18 years.  He has developed and taught these lessons many times in an attempt to build a school wide climate based on positive connections between students, teachers, staff, and families. Each lesson is designed for students to fully understand love as a verb.

A Look at This Curriculum

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Discovering the 5 Love Languages At School teaches us that people give and receive love in 5 ways:

  • Words of Affirmation
  • Quality Time
  • Acts of Service
  • Gifts
  • Touch

The lessons begin with what research says about making connections with teachers and students.  There are many key findings to illustrate the importance of student-teacher connections.

It’s divided up into 7 lessons and is ideally meant to be taught in 7 weeks. The lessons include group exercises, discussion questions, academic pages for each grade level, and homework activities.

What I Liked About This Curriculum

The beauty of this curriculum is that it is so versatile.

1. There are many ways to teach each lesson.  You can choose from step-by-step scripted lessons or abbreviated style lessons. The scripted lessons are great for when you didn’t have time to prepare or are new to teaching the material.  The abbreviated style provides key points and giving directions.

2. The lessons are easily adaptable for all age levels.  There are printables in the book designed for students ages 1st-6th grades.  However, I was able to include my PreK and Kindergarteners in the activities by modifying each activity.

3.  Each lesson included a review of the previous lesson. This helped my students connect the lessons and was helpful for me to check for understanding.

4. It was a great way to combine writing skills.  Since I begin the day with our character lessons, I didn’t have to worry if there would be enough time to fit writing into our day.  Each lesson comes with an activity that encourages students to write and to share their thoughts with the class.

5. The lessons gets kids talking and thinking about the way they give and receive love.  I was really blown away on how well my students responded to these lessons.  They were recognizing when another student showed love and praised each other for it.  They even called each other out when they were doing the opposite of the desired behavior!

6.  The lessons are short and to the point.  We very rarely spent more than 45 minutes on each lesson.  Yet the lessons were effective enough to have the kids aware of each other’s behavior all day!

7.  It’s a complete program for 1-6 grade.  This one manual has every lesson and printable for each grade level.

8.  Each lesson had clear objectives.  At the beginning of each lesson it is encouraged to write the lesson’s objectives on the board.  This was such a great way for kids to visually see what they were going to be learning in each lesson.

9.  It not only taught the positive ways to show love, but the opposite as well.  My kids were able to point out when someone was showing the opposite of a positive behavior which was really eye opening to the offender!

This curriculum worked beautifully with my little cottage school and it would be a great fit for tutorials, camps, and co-ops. I also believe I could have used it even with just my own kids. It was a fantastic addition to our curriculum. And even though I have PreK though 2nd grade, I was easily able to modify the assignments to fit every age level. Every student (even my 4 year olds) got something out of this. There was much discussion, sharing, and demonstrating what was learned throughout the day.

I really loved being able to provide these lessons to my students as a teacher and also as a parent.  It was insightful to see how my children want to feel loved.  It was also important for them to see how others like to feel loved.  These lessons will be something they’ll use for the rest of their lives.

I was given a complimentary copy of this product for review purposes.  All opinions are my own.


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A Look At How I Can Do It All

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“I don’t see how you do it all.”  People say this to me all the time.  With three kids my SAHM to-do list can sound crazy.  Cooking, laundry, homeschooling, cottage school, tutorial school board member and teacher, blogging, content making, and staying involved in local community theater.  Friends, if you really want to know how I “do it all” come over to my house unannounced.  Then you’ll start to learn the secret to my success.

Focus, Focus, Focus

1. My dining room/project room is where a lot of the magic of our day happens.  I often blog about the great character lessons we are learning, the fantastic bible resources we are using, or the creative projects the kids are putting together.  What I, the magician, am doing is redirecting my own focus not on the clutter of all of the projects, notebooks, art supplies, or whatever else happens to be source of chaos in the room.  I’m seeing only what we’re learning and creating.  And since my kids create in there all day, that room pretty much stays in a state of disarray.

dining room mess

2. My laundry basket runneth over.  I have never ever ever had all my laundry caught up.  I usually always have a sea of dirty laundry on the basement floor, a load in the dryer, a clean load in a basket, and folded laundry on top of the kitchen table.  Laundry haunts me.  My kids hardly ever have matching socks and if they end up getting a pair of socks in their pile to  put away they cheer like it’s Christmas morning.  Yeah, just call me Mother of the Year.

3.You don’t see the tears or hear the whining of my children while we’re doing our schoolwork.  Yep, my kids are just like yours.  Sometimes my brilliant lesson plans don’t seem so brilliant to them.  They don’t want to complete their writing assignment or do the projects I had so lovingly stayed up to get ready for them.  I just wait for them to stop crying and then tell them to smile for the camera.

Friends, no one can “do it all.”  Everyone has their priorities and for me it’s teaching.  My poor house often is at the end of the list.  It’s always cluttered with projects, learning games, school supplies, laundry, and just stuff.  Even dinner can be less than stellar a lot of the time.

bad diner

I do beat myself up a lot about my house.  And when I start to do that I’m often reminded of my dear friend, Rebecca, who worked with me when I taught in the school system.  My classroom was never as tidy and put together as some of the other teacher classrooms. When I would fret to her she would say, “Christa, you put what matters first.”  Isn’t that like the story about Mary and Martha in the bible?  “But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”– Luke 10:41

So I guess what I’m saying is this:  I can’t do it all.  I just choose to do the good parts.


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What’s Been Going On?

I feel like I haven’t really been able to sit down and write about what’s been going on in a good while.

Things have been busy as we’ve ended our show with our community theater and finished up with our tutorial school.  We still have another week to go here with my cottage school and as we all know the end of school can push you to your limits!

It’s hard to find balance between work, writing, family, friends, and sleep.  One thing I starting making time for were my daily devotions.  Right after the first of the year I made it a habit to begin the day with a cup of coffee and few words with the Lord.  Thinking I would be getting less done if I took time out to read and pray actually proved me wrong.  When I take 15-30 minutes out of the morning to focus on God, boy can I focus more on what I need to get done!  It really is amazing and it sets the tone for the day.

bible

I’ve been trying to get more sleep so I can get through the next two weeks and to start working on lessons for next year.  I’ve been asking my third grade teaching buddies for tips and curriculum advice, and I can’t wait to spend a lot of time working with them on projects for next year.

For this month of April I’ve been working on a plant unit with my Kindergarteners.  I’ve been asked to make more printables so I put together a little packet that incorporates both science and reading.  Included is an informative emergent reader, 2 graphic organizers, and 4 sight word puzzles with a blank one for you to copy and program your own sight words.

plant printables

My kids like to stand behind my shoulder when I’m creating.  Little Red always wants to know what we’re learning about and my Princess always asks to do the graphics for me.  So there is one of her graphics in the emergent reader.

My kindergarteners have already worked with this packet and I was pleased to see how much use we got out of it.  Pixie still reads the emergent reader to me before bed.  She even colored the little book to make it more her own after we read it a couple of times.

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The graphic organizers have been great to work as a whole group.  This allows them to review what they learned and it’s a quick check for me to see if they comprehended the information.  Plus it gets them read to start writing!

The sight word puzzles were a great hands on way to practice spelling their sight words.

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If this is something you are interested in for your home or classroom just click on the picture!

plant printables


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A Typical Day for My Homeschooled Kindergartener

I know I’ve posted my homeschooling schedule on here multiple times, but recently I got another question on what a typical day looks like for my Kindergartener.  More and more parents are opting to homeschool their children and they can get a bit worried when they see they need to homeschool for 4 hours everyday.  It can be quite disturbing to think you have to have your 5 or 6 year old sit down for a total of 4 hours out of the day.  Luckily that doesn’t have to be the case.  Today I’m going to show you how we make learning fun for these young learners and still achieve the mandated 4 hours a day for our state.

We do a tutorial on Mondays, so I really only have to plan for 4 days each week.  Here is our basic outline for the day:

8:30-9:30 Devotions/Character Study/Songs/Storytime

9:30-10:30 Calendar/Math/Reading/Writing

10:30-10:45 Snack

10:45-11:15 Outside Play

11:15-12:15 Art/Social Studies/Science/Language Arts

12:15-12:30 Clean up/Recap of the day

12:30 Lunch

Now, if you want to know what curriculum we use you’d have to follow along with us to see what I come up with every week.  I don’t use a curriculum but focus more on designing lessons to go along with the state standards.  I also interweave skills throughout the day, so she may be outside for 30 min. but that could also count for Science because she’s out using her magnifying glass looking for plants we have been studying in science.

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We may spend an hour on bible lessons but you could also count that as writing because she’s also writing and drawing about having good character.  

The only true time we take to focus on one subject at a time would be from 9:30-10:30 when we work through about 45 min of learning rotations.  At this time she is truly only doing an activity on math for 15 min, then an activity on reading for 15, and then finishing with an activity on writing.

How do you teach multiple ages at once?

You may wonder how I teach her during the 9:30-10:30 block of time and teach my second grader at the same time.  This is where I use my hands-on activities to keep her focused while I teach a lesson to my second grader.  She and I will do calendar together while my second grader is working on an independent activity.  My second grader knows she cannot interrupt my time with Pixie unless she is bleeding or dying!  If she needs my help she will go on to the next problem or will read a book quietly until I’m finished with Pixie.

After calendar I will help Pixie read through her emergent reader for the week.  Then I will get her going on her Reading/Writing assignment while I begin working with my second grader.  Pixie knows she cannot interrupt my time with my second grader.  When I’m finished with my second grader I will then go back to Pixie to get her started on her math.  This hour of time flows very nicely when everyone knows the rules of what to do when they need help and what to do if they finish before I can get to them!

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The story I read aloud after songs first thing in the morning always goes with our theme for the week. This week we have been studying about plants so the books I’ve been reading are a combination of fiction and nonfiction books about plants and spring.

When we finish the day with our hour of project time, I make sure this is an activity we can all do together.  It also almost always goes along with our theme for the week.  I always modify the learning project to accommodate both Kindergarten and Second Grade.  My kids love to paint and to create, so I usually find an activity that involves a craft but also goes along with science, social studies, and/or writing.

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The big thing to remember about Kindergarten is to not stress about finishing curriculum.  It’s important to make sure they are loving the learning process.  Learning is fun!  Make sure you are reading aloud to your child and are getting outside to explore and to keep that desire of discovery alive in your child!

I hope this helps some of you in your homeschooling journey!  I’ll get a post out about my older children soon!


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Plants, Bugs, and Spring!: Lessons From A One-Room Schoolhouse

We’re getting into the swing of spring this week with many fun lessons and activities.  We’ve been studying about plants and exploring the aftermaths of spring showers.  It’s been delightful to watch the kids find bunnies, goldfish, worms, snails, and many kinds of other bugs.

Plants, Bugs, and Spring Collage

We’ll be heading into our second week of spring studies  and will be continuing to be outdoors observing the growth of our flowers and how nature responds to this beautiful season!  I’m so excited about it, and am working on a Kindergarten packet to go along with it.

Activities for the week include:


Preschool:

How a plant grows sequencing cards from Homeschool Creations.

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Kindergarten:

Check out this post to see all of the plant resources we have been doing with the Kindergarten!

How To Plant A Flower sequencing cut and paste.

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Whole Group

We have read a lot of books this week about spring and plants.  We read “Zinnia’s Flower Garden”, “Spring: Signs of the Season Around North America”,”How Does My Garden Grow?”, and “Get Set… Spring” by Ruth Thomson.  Many of these books had activities to go with them.

“Spring: Signs of the Season Around North America” had the kids out looking for bugs after a spring rain.  We headed into our secret garden to be nature detectives!

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We looked under rocks to find…….

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snails

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worms

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We also found….

bird nests….

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egg shells….

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They also constructed a little habitat for their scientific discoveries…

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Be sure to check in next week as we keep going with this exciting theme!  What are you doing with YOUR kids this spring?

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