Little Log Cottage School

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


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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.

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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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Language Arts Lessons for the Week: Kindergarten and Second Grade

Hi everyone!  It’s been a CRAZY couple of weeks for us.  We took two weeks off for Spring Break with a fantastic visit with my best friend who now resides in England.  No, we didn’t go to England.  She came to us!

The following week was tech week for our show The Music Man which opened just this past weekend.  We were getting out of rehearsals at 10:00 and having a family chow fest in the kitchen at 10:30 every evening.  The kids were sleeping until 11:00 every morning and we were doing all we could to get a couple hours of extra sleep throughout the day.

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But now that the show has opened, we’re back into the groove of school.  Only 4 more weeks to go for us!  So here’s a look at what I have planned for the week. lessons for the week

Kindergarten Language Arts

1) Emergent Reader:  Every week I try to have a little reader for my kiddos to practice reading.  This week I found an emergent reader from Teachers Pay Teachers.  It’s a perfect choice for spring! kindergarten plant lessons1 resize

2.) Plant Life Cycle Cut and Paste: Sequencing will be our reading focus skill for the week.  I’m not sure where I found this cut and paste activity, but it’ll be perfect after we read the emergent reader together.

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3.)Plant writing:  I’m working on a plant unit for my Kindergarteners.  This little tree map will be included in the pack.

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4.) Sight Word Sentence Writing:  I love these printables from Confessions of a Homeschooler.  We will be practicing the sight words “into” and “ride”

5.)How to Plant A Flower Sequencing Cut and Paste: Again we will be reinforcing the sequencing skill with a little cut and paste activity.

Kindergarten Word Building

1.) -ING word family puzzles:  I found these great hands-on word family puzzles at a teacher sale before my Princess began Kindergarten.  This week we are working on the -ing family.

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2.)Sight Word Puzzles: Another component of my plant unit is sight word puzzles for my Kindergarteners.

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3.) Word Family Ladders: We will be using magnetic letters and Confession of a Homeschooler’s Word Family Ladders to practice -ing words.

Second Grade Reading Upper Second Grade Level) I have two second graders that I’m working with.  They are on different reading levels so I don’t want to give them the same lessons.  They’re both working on the same skill, but have different readers.  My second grader who is reading more on a third grade level will be reading Daniel Boone from Reading A-Z.  I love this site because it has so many different levels with a lot of teacher guides.  It’s not a free site, but can be used for a reading curriculum.

Lower Second Grade Level) My Princess who is reading on grade level will be reading Bonk’s New Bike from Reading A-Z.

Vocabulary Vocabulary is very important with second graders.  Each book contains vocabulary words to be learned.  I chose a few words I felt the kids wouldn’t know and made up vocabulary maps for them to do.

Cause and Effect Printables Our reading skill for the week is cause and effect. I like that Reading A-Z has printables to practice the skill along with each book.

Comprehension and Discussion Each of my second graders will be engaged in a discussion about their stories and will also take a short multiple choice comprehension quiz at the end of the week.

Language Skills: For my upper level second grader, he’ll be working on subjects and predicates.  Not only will he use the printable from Reading A-Z, I also found a more hands-on activity from Teachers Pay Teachers for free.

For my on level second grader, she’ll be working with adding -ing to verbs.  For our first lesson she’ll find all of the verbs in her story with -ing on the end and underline them.

Word Work Upper Level Second Grade will be working on prefixes this week.  I made up about 14 prefix words and printed them out on cards.  I laminated them and cut them out.  They’ll be used for word sorts throughout the week. I did the same for my on-level second grader.  She’ll be working with words that end in -ing.

It can be time consuming to plan out individualized lessons for mulit-aged and multi leveled students, but it’s very important to do so.  I typically try to plan out one subject per day and I also try to find as many free activities as possible so I’m not having to spend a lot of time or money creating my own lessons.

I hope some of these links will be helpful for you as you plan out the rest of your year!


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Free Bible Lessons and A Math Curriculum Sale For Your Homeschool!

Hi all!  I have a couple of deals for you this morning!  These are from companies that we use so I thought I would pass along these great deals to you.  Check the dates for expiration.

Free eLesson for April From Grapevine!

We began using Grapevine Bible Studies this semester.  It’s been a very hands-on way to learn about the bible.  If your children love to draw than this curriculum is for you.  Be sure to give this FREE eLesson a try!

Homeschool Math Online From A+ Interactive Math

Spectacular Sale Event - A+ Interactive Math Onlie  - Building a Foundation You can COUNT on!

Today is the last day for this deal!  1-Year Comprehensive Math Curriculum (each grade level)
Only $40 (Regular $125, Savings of $85)  If your child loves to learn on the computer this is a great curriculum for you.  We have been using their assessment program and have been really pleased with it.  It’s been a great way for me to really see what my Princess (2nd grade) knows!  This site also has a lot of FREEBIES for you to try!

STEM Toys and Game Store

Have you noticed that STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) is the latest rage?  Amazon has deals on everything from Magic School Bus Engineering Labs to Snap Circuit Jr.!

As homeschooling parents we are always on the hunt for ways to stretch our dollar.  Here is a post with tips on how to use what you have on hand to use in your homeschool.

Please leave a comment if you know of any other deals!


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Ikea Inspired Shelving System

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If you homeschool you know what it’s like to have an over abundance of curriculum, manipulatives, and school supplies.  Add the kids’ regular toys and you have disorganized clutter! I love to look at other homeschooling blogs or even classroom teacher blogs just to get an idea of how they organize their classrooms.  Since our classroom is in my kids’ room, it’s hard to find enough wall space for displaying bulletin boards, maps, white boards, and word walls.  We also have a puppet theater which takes up part of the room. I’d been eyeing Becky’s Ikea shelving system all year long.  It was an expensive item, but after Christmas I had saved up enough money to buy it.  Finding the right spot for it was the problem.  My husband is a furniture designer and builder so I showed it to him to see if the dimensions were the right fit for the kids’ closet/playroom.  I would have just asked him to build me something like it, but I knew how terribly busy he was and I didn’t want to wait around for it.  Well, needless to say he took one look at it and said, “We’ll just order the tubs and I’ll build it.” It may have taken longer to build than it would have to order, but it’s done.

And it’s beautiful.

And it’s just the right size to fit into my classroom for easy access. It’s been a God send for me this year as I have it organized for both school and play items.  Here is how I have it set up:

  • construction paper (we use gobs of construction paper for projects throughout the year.  Now it’s all in one tub and easily assessable to whoever needs it.)
  • spelling manipulatives I use this tub to store my magnetic letters and Wikki Sticks for my kids to use to practice spelling their spelling words.  I also have another tub with my letter beads to use to make word bracelets
  • file folders I have a great amount of file folders for organization and to construct file folder games
  • puzzles I have a lot of puzzles for my kiddos to use during their free time.  I store the most popular puzzles in here.
  • math manipulatives I have a TON of math manipulatives.  This shelving system has been so helpful for all of these.  Rulers, snap cubes, base ten cubes, money, counters, counting frogs, and dice are all divided up in three different bins for easy access during math lessons and centers.
  • toys Anything with wheels goes in one bin and stuffed animals go in another.  This can be used during free time or it’s just a great place to get extra toys out of the way.
  • dress up clothes  What kid doesn’t have an abundance of dress up clothes?  This makes a great storage resource for them.
  • games Our learning games take over one of the bins.  It’s great to have these handy for rainy days.
  • books I keep one tub for leveled books.  These are useful for teaching lessons or for kids to read when they are finished early with their work.

Here is a link to the Ikea shelf that inspired this creation. TROFAST Toy Storage Do you have an organizing system that you just love?  I’d love to see it!  I’ll be getting things ready soon for next year and need some inspiration!  If you have pictures please leave them on my Facebook page!


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Word Work Activities for K-2nd Grade

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Hola!  I’m beginning to write this as I listen to Miss Francis, our Spanish teacher, working with the children outside.  So hopefully my writing won’t transfer between Spanish and English as I quickly write this!

Last weekend I had the opportunity to listen to Becky from This Reading Mama talk and explain to us how she uses word work as a spelling strategy.  We really need some more spelling lessons in our homeschool, because my Princess (8) can struggle a bit with spelling.  She hasn’t built up her confidence yet.  So after listening and thinking about how Becky teaches spelling in her home, I was excited to get back and implement a few of the strategies she had taught us!

Day 1: Word Sort

My Kindhearted Princess is working with long o words this week.  So I typed up a list of words with both short and long o sounds.  I also included the word “do” which has a different sound.  I did this to get her to think about the three different sounds that o can make.

We began the activity by reading through the 16 words that I created and then I chose one long o word like “boat” and one short “o” word such as “moss”.  I then put each word side by side on our pocket chart.  I told her to make two groups using the two words I selected as her guide.  She quickly put all of the short o words under the word “moss” and the long “o” words under the word “boat”.  She had placed the word “do” in the short o column.  After reading through each column with her she realized that the word “do” was the odd man out.  There was another tricky word in the list, “follow”.  It makes both the short o and the long o sound.  She put it in the middle.

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Day 2: Word Sort and Write

On day two I had her do the activity all on her own.  After she had quickly put the words in the correct place I had her write down the words in her Word Work (or Reading) notebook.

Day 3: Build a Word

On day three I pulled some letter cards that I had left over from an old reading curriculum.  I asked her to see if she could build a word out of the letters.  I thought she was really going to enjoy this activity.  She did not.  She only wanted to spell one word and then be done with it.  However, I’m not going to give up on this activity.  I think it’s a great way to challenge and provides a hands-on way to practice multiple word patterns.  Here’s how we played it.

I set out various letters so she would have multiply opportunities to build a word.  After she built a word such as “shell” I would then ask if she could replace the second consonant with another consonant to make another word.  It took her a minute to find an “m” to build the word “smell.”

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We were able to review a lot of word patterns, but she found it a bit frustrating when she couldn’t figure out the word I was trying to have her spell.  I’m going to try another approach to this activity next time.  I’ll be sure to let you know how that goes!

More Spelling

Here Come Fun Activities For Beginning Reading and Spelling

Messy Fun!

Kindergarten Curriculum for Pixie

Using What You Have On Hand

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