Thursday, January 31, 2013

Cutting Without Fear

This week has been a great one here at Little Angels. We have been integrating new curriculum that have enriched each day and made it exciting! You will be hearing more about these resources soon in my reviews that begin in a week or two.

This week I have watched my girls blossom and grow each day. My oldest seems to be taking fertilizer at night as she seems a bit taller every morning. My Nat has lost some of that baby face that allowed me to pretend that she is stuck in time rather than growing up. My Lillee bud amazes me everyday with her new skills, vocabulary and eagerness to participate in whatever the rest of the family is doing. In fact, this eagerness is what I wanted to share about today.

It seems that as we get older, our willingness to try new things tends to waiver. Now, there is a reason I tend to stay away from cartwheels as gravity is becoming increasingly more unkind.  However, this fear of trying something new begins even before our chins begin to double. ;) In fact, I can remember being nervous to try something new when I was around my eldest daughter's age and I see this same hesitation sometimes in her as well.

What is it that stops us? Could it be intimidation? Maybe it is a lack of understanding and we don't want others to see us fail. Perhaps it is a fear of trying and then being ridiculed or mocked for doing it wrong. I, for one, have memories of this that still haunt me to this day.

I contemplated all of these things while watching my youngest hold a pair of scissors. Now, before you get all Child Services on me, she was sitting down and I was with her. Our focus during her school that day was cutting. Here she is when she begins:

Notice she has jumped in, scissors flipped, to tackle the difficult art of cutting. She did not ask for me to show her first. She did not worry about what I would think if she did it wrong. She was not a bit hesitant to try. This struck me as I am notorious for making sure I go with the flow. How does everyone else do it? What do they say I should do? Perhaps it is the need for success or to show that I have it all together... who knows? But I do know that a touch more of this determination to jump in and try would most assuredly expand my horizons and enrich my life.

I also considered how my daughter had someone looking over her and watching, ME. I was aware of how she was holding the scissors and making sure that her eyeballs would remain intact at all times. :) She was holding something that had the potential to hurt and I want what is best for her. This makes me consider how I have a Heavenly Father who is watching over me as well. I am holding choices in my hands that have the potential to hurt me if not made with care. However, the One watching over me is gently prodding me to proceed carefully and to handle my life with care. Eager to try while handling with care... hmmm.... this is the balance I want to have.
With each cut of my baby's scissors, she crept closer and closer to reaching her goal. Sure, I worked with her on correct finger placement and the correct manner to hold the scissors. Yet, my intention never changed: to assist my daughter in making something beautiful all by herself. Though she tried my way several times, she seemed to have better leverage by holding it the way she wanted and had much better control. So, I let her proceed as the goal would remain the same: to cut out her picture. This reminded me of how one method can work in some situations while another might be better for others. I need to be courageous enough to be different.

As you can see, she made it and I was there to share in the excitement! How beautiful to know that God is sharing in our triumphs as well! Notice the small bit of tape in the bottom corner? Yeah, me either. I like to think that God has a giant roll of that amazing invention sitting next to His throne just in case He needs to "fix" something and make it as good as new. ;)

Oh, the lessons I gleaned from my daughter's cutting lesson. Each day is an opportunity to learn something new... together. Have a fantastic day everyone!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Learning 4 Keeps has a new home and a new President's Day Resource!!

Hi, everyone! I wanted to make a super important announcement that has me bouncing up and down in my seat. I have been kicking around the idea of expanding my blog a bit and the first step to do that would be to get my own domain name. Now, I  have kicked around tons of ideas and decided to take the plunge! So without further ado...
You can now find us at! I want to thank each and everyone of you who take the time to peek into our little world and even buy or download some of the resources I have been creating. It is truly something I love to do and the fact that I get to do something I love while being surrounded by people I love... well, it is almost too much. I feel enormously blessed and look forward to what the future holds for Learning 4 Keeps.

Speaking of the future, have you begun any planning for February? I have been working on a new President's Day pack that you might like! This is my President's Day Mega Bundle and it includes the following:

**Language Arts Resources
Abraham Lincoln Read Aloud and Craftivity
George Washington Read Aloud and Bubble Map
George Washington Writing Craftivity
Compare and Contrast Cut and Paste Activity
Lincoln Writing Templates (2 versions)
Alphabetical Order printable
Washington Acrostic
Presidential Word Search
Word Wall Cards

**Math Resources
What’s in a Name Math Game
Presidential Pocket Change

Tic Tac Roll!
Five in a Row!

There are whole group activities, center activities and even homework sheets that will tie your instruction of the Presidents together. After completing the activities in this pack, you student or students will have learned many of the common facts about George Washington and Abraham Lincoln as well as a few little known facts. Here is a quick glance into what you will receive.

You can click here to head over to my store to give it a peek! Have a blessed day everyone!

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Promise of Mondays...

Hello, friends! This morning as I hid for my life under the covers, these were my exact sentiments...
In fact, my sweet hubby brought me a coffee in bed and I clutched it like a life line. Last night was one of those nights that thoughts kept me too busy to sleep. Ever been there?

But as a sipped the sweet nectar of Heaven (a bit dramatic I know... well, maybe not so much, lol) I began to consider the day. I pondered the promises of Monday:

It is a brand new week. I do not have to cling to my "Man, I should have's" or "If I had only's." I can mentally wipe my slate clean and create my calendar. Will I have a few things to bring over from last week? Sure! But, I don't have to feel behind schedule because this is the first day of my work week. I am free to simply begin again.

It will be what I make of it. I love to create lists. You can talk to my parents who will tell you that I have made lists since I was young.

"Which restaurant is your favorite, Leah?"
"Hang on while I create my list of pros and cons." tehehehe

So when I began to get organized for the week, I write lists. Monday's lists are full as I want to tie up any loose ends of last week and prepare for the new week. A clean house is a must on my Monday's list as well as washing some clothes before we have to begin a new kind of colony. ;) This Monday will be what I make of it and can determine the direction of my week. Put in some effort today and reap the benefits during the rest of the week.

It is a beautiful gift from above.  Mondays... a gift? I know! I know! But consider the many who will never see another Monday. I have another beautiful day to spend with my children, my handsome hubby and all of you!

After considering the promises of Monday, I began to feel a charge of adrenaline and was ready to meet this Monday. I began to feel more like this:
Of course, that might have been the coffee... yeah, it was probably just the coffee. ;) Happy Monday everyone!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Integrating Home Economics into the Homeschool!

Home Ec... Home Economics... what do you think of when you hear the name?  I think of a classroom full of ovens with girls in aprons burning their cakes. :) Hmmm... would that be circa 1960? You sure don't find those classrooms in our neck of the woods. Sadly, taking care of a home and food preparation are areas often overlooked for young people. But, think about it! We must all live and we must all eat!

Now, lest you think I am Martha Stewart, let me just say that I have often been found lacking myself in the cooking and cleaning department. You might say that I was a bit challenged in both areas when I first married; my husband just simply called me spoiled. I had a fantastic mother who prepared fabulous meals and would allow me to wake up whenever I wanted to on Saturdays. I fondly remember walking out of my room hearing the sound of a vacuum cleaner and sensing the smell of Pine-sol.

I was the child who would love to tackle a page of algebra problems but don't ask me to cut up a chicken! (Thankfully, I can now do both. *grin*) While I worked as a teacher in the classroom, I was out of my house for a great deal of the day. It was not filled with little children from morning to evening so taking care of the house was much quicker, less painful and usually occurred on Saturdays. But, oh my! How that changes when you homeschool. In my home, everyone is responsible for keeping a clean environment and contributes in their own way. Loading the dishwasher, washing clothes, and dusting are all skills that we begin to teach early. I found out a long time ago that I am not Wonder Woman and I don't have to be. There are ten, count them TEN, very capable hands that can work to keep a nice home. But, if it is not exciting for me, it can be pure drudgery for my girls.

Therefore, I have attempted to create a few games to make home economics a bit more fun.

Beat the Song

First is what I call Beat the Song. I simply choose a room and then turn on Pandora. (You could use a CD or any other method of music.) I turn it up and we have to try to get the room completely clean before the song is over, including vacuuming the floors.

Now, there is only one simple rule: All items that are picked up or moved MUST be put where they go! Otherwise, I would have a bedroom floor filled with items found in the living room. Not helping me much! This game has become a hit with my girls, even my preschooler jumps in. You can hear them giggling once it gets towards the end of the song as they dive to pick up the last scraps of paper from the floor.

What's Your Order?

Another game that we have created is What's Your Order? This game allows my girls to practice preparing food as well as service for others. They will prepare a menu of lunch items (whatever we have that day) and then I will act as the customer. One daughter will work as chef and the other as waitress. My third grader will bring me a menu and take my order. She will then tell my sixth grader in the kitchen what I would like before preparing my drink. My "chef" might make me a quesadilla, grilled cheese, or prepare a pizza. She can also whip up brownie cupcakes like nobody's business! My third grader will bring me the food when it is done and then places her own order with her sister. One perk of this process is the communication and cooperation that takes place. It also builds a servant-hood atmosphere as we all seek to help one another without looking for something in return. (Of course, they have been known to slip me a bill including tip. lol)

These are just a couple of ways that I have been seeking to integrate home economics into my homeschool. Do you have any ideas to share that would get kiddos exciting about the mundane tasks of cleaning and cooking? Comment below! I would love to hear them. :)


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

If You Can't Be Deep, Be Funny Linky Party Fun

It is that time again! Wednesdays are known as hump days as we are finally going over the hump of midweek and coasting to the weekend. It is also a day that I am usually needing a giggle or smile to help get through! I woke up today ready to have another "If You Can't Be Deep, Be Funny!" linky party!

Here are my most recent media favorites from Pinterest. I must begin with Psych, one of my all-time favorites.

The next one... I could so relate!

And lastly, a few from dear old Uncle Si!

Now it's your turn to jump in! Don't forget to grab my button below to add to your blog post so others can join in on the fun! Instructions on how to join is listed below. :)

Learning 4 Keeps
<div align="center"><a href="" title="Learning 4 Keeps"><img src="" alt="Learning 4 Keeps" style="border:none;" /></a></div>

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Routines in the Chaos

Pour cereal, grab a few spoons, herd my little ladies to the table with groggy eyes and hair everywhere...

This is the beginning of a day at Little Angels Academy.

Open a Bible and read a Bible lesson, wipe up the milk that spilt, continue with the Memory Verse, snap in front of my daughter's eyes to make sure she is awake, ask a few review questions, pick up the spoon that falls on the floor and get a new one, ask for prayer requests, take turns praying, keep my three year old from interrupting someone else, everyone say Amen! Teeth brushed, hair combed, bodies dressed...

My day continues.

All books stacked neatly in front of each child, my three year old crying to use sharpies which I refuse, hunt down a crayon and princess pencils to replace the sharpies and bring peace, divide fractions, talk about weight measurement, find another coloring page for my three year old, trouble shoot a computer program, teach a new program, continue dealing with dividing fractions as that is never easy, assign handwriting work and writing assignments.

Let's take a break for lunch. Prepare hotdogs or grilled cheese, and popcorn for a treat.

Continue school by working on linking verbs and graphing sentences. Assign independent work so that I can begin my preschooler's lessons for the day. Sing our ABC's, sequence cards by size, count to five, read a few books and develop reasoning. Back to the whole group. Learn about the ocean, create mini books, and complete puzzles. Begin working on an ocean project.

Sound chaotic? As I type this my husband reads it over my shoulder and mentions that it sounds as if I had nothing pulled together. Maybe it does! But believe it or not, I had carefully written lesson plans on the table right in the middle of the chaos.

You see, homeschooling is more about living while learning. We don't cease to be together while we learn about the continental shelf. We might have questions about the animals or maybe even talk about the little creature on Finding Nemo that used his little light in the darkness to attract food. We have emotions to work on, activities to cooperate through, and disciplines to reinforce like hard work patience, and taking turns.

We learn together and we live together. In all of the chaos, there is all of the living, there is learning... and in all of the learning, there is love.

Just another reason why I love homeschooling.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

How to Create Your Own Flap Books

Hello, friends! Today, I decided to share with you something that I am doing with my girlies to create opportunities of review as well as to give creative ways to learn new material. To do this, all you need is a box of plain manilla file folders! Let me show you an example:
This past week, my girls were learning about five categories of animals (mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and invertebrates.) So I decided to have them create an interactive chart of each group, their characteristics, and examples. Since there were five groups, I simply opened the file folder and cut the top cover into five equal sections. (Be sure to stop cutting at the fold!) That was all of the preparation required for us to get started.

Next, I handed each girl a folder. Now there are many ways you can do your titles (print them on your computer or buy cute packs) but I really wanted my girls to practice the spelling of each category. To do this, I handed them a pack of markers and gave them liberty to decorate their labels as they wanted they just had to ensure that each word was spelled correctly.

Lastly, the girls opened each flap to write the characteristics of each category and draw an example of an animal in that category. Here are a few examples of what my girls came up with: (I love the lizard and frog!)

A couple of notes
  • It is easiest to lift one flap at a time to write in the information so you can ensure all of the information stays in its section.
  • You might want to use crayons or test your markers before finishing the project.  Sharpies and some markers will bleed through the cover making it impossible to write on the back of the flap. Next time, I will have them use different markers so they can draw their example on the back of the flap to save space.
The best part of foldables is the fact that you can make these for any subject and any topic! If you have something that you want your child to remember, create a foldable that they can use to study to prepare for an exam or review.

So what do you do with the foldables when they are completed? We will be filing each foldable in our Knowledge Bank, a file box that will show what we have learned throughout the year. As they are manila folders, I use the little tab at the top to label the foldable. I can then file these by subject in our Knowledge Bank. They will have times throughout the semester to review what is on our Knowledge Bank and then take a review quiz on the information that is filed there. This will ensure that they are retaining the knowledge rather than learning it for a test before forgetting it.

So, next time you have some information that you want your kiddos to remember, grab a box of manila folders! Who knew that such a phenomenal tool was sitting in your supply closet? :) Have a fantastic weekend everyone!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Back in the Swing of Things and Honoring Dr. King

Hello, friends! I have been missing in action for this past week for two reasons. First, my internet was down for several days. **sigh**  This was a bummer as I missed my blogging, facebook, and email. I had to run to my husband's office a few times to check my email and make sure that I remained up to date with everything. But, a perk to this was that I was able to get several big projects done this week. :D So, there was a silver lining anyway!

Secondly, I now have a brand spankin new computer!! This was looooong overdue and my life on the internet zips as quickly as I need it to... maybe even faster! I am in love with this thing except that I am having to learn a whole new operating system. We will see how quickly I can catch on. :)

On the homeschool front, my Little Angels Academy has been on a roll this week as we have several new resources at our disposal thanks to the Schoolhouse Review Crew!! Whoop, whoop! We have jumped into Zoology with both feet and have enjoyed it immensely so far! I am also working on a new curriculum with my little preschooler and that has been interesting! She is enjoying "her school" but she definitely has some stubbornness issues.

Me-  "Lillee, count these objects."
Lillee-  "1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6!"
Me- "Great! Now count to 5 for me!"
Lillee- "2, 3, 4, 5!"
Me- "No, Lillee. We start at 1! Watch my fingers."
Lillee- "Noooo Mama... we start at 2!"
Me- "Okay, so count my fingers for me."
Lillee- "1 ,2, 3, 4, 5!"
Me- "Now, count to 5 starting at 1."
Lillee- "Noooo Mama... you have to start at 2! See!"

Silly, silly girl...

Anyhoo... one project we worked on this week was our study on Martin Luther King, Jr. I used a book that we already had on hand and then the pack that I created for my TPT store. Here are a few pics...
"Our Thinking Map on Equality"
"Word Search Fun!"
"Vocabulary Sort"
Our "Vocabulary Knowledge" Folder which will be kept in our knowledge bank for later reference.

As I taught this lesson with my PK, 3rd grader, and 6th grade, I worked to differentiate the instruction throughout. Some of the activities really worked better for my younger daughter, but my Em is such a teacher that she loves to jump in, take part, and help. I am excited with how the day turned out. If you are still in need of some supplemental materials for your classroom, just click my link below! I have a freebie you can use as well as a pack for sale that includes the activities above and more~ I hope you enjoy them as much as we did!

Freebie Fridays

Saturday, January 12, 2013

It's a Magical Product Swap!

Today I am so glad to be a part of a Magical Product Swap! There are so many wonderful teachers taking part who have swapped resources and used them with their kiddos. You get to then see how they are used! To read about more resources just click below!

For my partner, I was lucky enough to be paired with Teach with Laughter.

Teach With Laughter
She has so many adorable resources in her store. I was so blown away with her creativity. Her I Spy Letters packs are genius! For our product swap, I got to use her PB and J Compound Words pack.

This made such a fun activity with my kiddos! I decided to make it into a file folder game so that I could use it again in the future. I first put the poster on the front of the file.

On the inside, I attached her compound word poster that teachers compound words with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich theme. Too cute!
Next, I cut an envelope in half to use as a pocket on the other side of the file. I then cut out all of the cards and placed them in the pocket.

To use the game, students pair the pieces of sandwich in order to create a compound word. They write their compound words on an adorable record sheet. After completing the center, a word search puzzle is included to expand their new skill. I would highly recommend this pack! Your kids will have a blast!

If you would like to get this pack for yourself, just click on the picture below! You will also want to follow her store so you won't miss any of the great resources that she adds. I have a few things on my wishlist for sure!
Have a fantastic weekend everyone!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Martin Luther King, Jr. Freebie

Hello, everyone! I wanted to pop on really quickly and share with you a FREEBIE that you can use to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. It is just a part of my MLK Supplemental Pack that you can purchase from my store. Just click the picture below to download the freebie.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

New Resource: K-2 Common Core Checklists

Hi, everyone! I have had quite a week and today was the first day back to school for us. Unfortunately, I was missing one of the items I needed to make the memory boxes so that has to wait another day. But, I have made a few new items due to a request.

I have had Common Core sets available in my store since I first opened my store months ago. But I thought that I would make a smaller set that would include just the checklists. Many teachers, both in the classroom and in the home, have asked for a checklist of standards that they could strive to teach in one year and keep them organized in a binder or notebook. I have taken the new Common Core standards that are being adopted around the country to make checklists you can use to get organized in your own room.
There are two sets of common core checklists for grades K-2 which include:
1.) Student checklists: These checklists are kept by the student in a folder or notebook. As a student demonstrates mastery, the student can check off the standard on their list. This allows the student to note their own personal growth throughout the year.

2.) Teacher checklists: These checklists are kept by the teacher and can be placed in their assessment binders or portfolios. As a student demonstrates mastery, the teacher can check off the standard on their list. This allows the teacher to track growth throughout the year. The second grade pack also includes areas to mark dates of instruction, assessment, grades and remediation if necessary.

These checklists will help you stay organized in the classroom and give you a method to assess your students using the new Common Core standards. It will also help homeschooling families by giving them a sense of direction in the year if they are creating their own curriculum. I hope it is a help to you in the classroom! Just click on the picture to the left to check it out in my TPT store. Have a fantastic week everyone!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

New Martin Luther King, Jr. Pack

Hello, friends! Life has been pretty strange around here lately. It seems my husband and I have just been unable to get well. :( We have been fighting a bug that is relentless so much of our plans for the week have not been accomplished. **sigh** But, Christmas has been stored for next year, errands in town were accomplished and bills have been paid. These are great accomplishments considering how we are feeling.

Tomorrow, we will be back to the books as the past two days have been Home Ec days. ;) My girls have been earning extra credit. lol But it is back to the grindstone in the morning and I am looking forward to getting into routine. One project I would like to do is Memory Boxes. It is similar to a time capsule in that my girls will be putting special memories, drawings, wishes, etc in a box to be brought out at the end of the year. I will post pictures tomorrow of how we put it together.

Today, I want to share a new project that I completed last night. It is an activity pack that I will be using to discuss Martin Luther King, Jr. Day that is coming up on the 21st. I mainly wanted a pack of supplemental materials that could be used after I get my book from the library. I really like to use books to teach history and though I have a few here, I would like to pick up a couple more. These supplemental activities could be used after any books that I might pick up.

The five activities are:

1.) "I Have a Dream" Writing Template (Two options provided depending on writing abilities.)

2.) Vocabulary Thinking Map on Equality

3.) Just for Fun Word Search (Easy with 10 words.)

4.) "Let Me Tell You About Martin Luther King, Jr." Mini Book with places to color as well as guided fill in the blank to show what they have learned about him.

5.) "Lessons Learned from Martin Luther King, Jr." Vocabulary Mobile: Equality, Justice, Peace, and Freedom. Directions and picture of completed project included.

If you are looking for supplemental activities to use, check it out by clicking on the picture below.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

New Sequencing Pack!

Hi, friends! I hope that all of you have had a wonderful holiday season.  I can't believe that we are already in week two of 2013. O_O  The year has already been flying by and I am so excited to see what this year brings as well as what we make of it!

Speaking of making something (pretty smooth, huh?) I have just finished a pack that I created for my little preschooler. We are going to be starting a new curriculum in the next few days and I needed sequencing cards. So, I thought I would put some together that would be simple enough for my Lillee Bud. I think it turned out super cute! It is a sequence card activity set that focuses on size comparison. It includes 2 work mats, 12 sets of sequence cards, and 3 bonus coloring pages that review the concept. I am excited to use it and will post pictures later this week. If you think this is something you would like, just click the picture below to find it in my TPT store! Have a great week everyone!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

My Word for the Year... FRESH

Hello, friends! I am not one who is big into New Year's Resolutions. BUT, I do like sitting down and charting goals for the year. I like to do this with my hubby so that we can work toward a common goal together. This year our goals are found in the word FRESH, as in fresh beginnings. Who couldn't use a fresh beginning at the start of each new year? There is something refreshing about not just wiping a slate clean but to actually get a whole new slate! That is what I see when a new year rolls around.

So, here are our goals for the year. Under each goal, we have listed personal specifics that we would like to see happen. :)

F- Financially stronger in 2013  We aren't going under or barely hanging on by a thread as God has been incredibly faithful. However, there are a few things we would like to accomplish financially this year.

R- Rest in 2013  If you are around me very long, you will see that I can almost go overboard talking about rest. I think that the lack of rest is a major contributor to much of what we deal with physically, mentally, and emotionally. I would like to see us do something small each quarter and one big trip as a family. We have also made some home routine changes that encourage rest.

E- Educational strides in 2013   This is not just to strengthen our homeschool, which I will have the option to do as a member of the Review Crew. I also want to attend one conference this year that would serve as educational for me in an area of interest. Last year I earned my Master's; this year I want to continue learning and I am praying about direction.

S-  Spiritually stronger in 2013   This is a goal every year as I want to always have a heart to grow spiritually stronger. However, my methods for this change each year. I am excited about my plan for this year.

H-  Healthier in 2013   This is a biggie... I have barriers physically that usually interfere with my health goals. However, with my hubby's help, I hope to at least make strides this year in the right direction. I am not obese but I could stand to lose a good 10-15 lbs. ;) I have tried to write specific, attainable goals to make it happen.

So, there you have it! This is what my goals are for this year. I am sure the world will not end if they are not all accomplished but it would definitely make a better me to give to my family and home in 2013.

Have you created goals for your family for 2013? I'd love to hear your plans! :)

Friday, January 4, 2013

Jumpstarting Your First Day Back!

Hello, friends! I am beginning to get things prepared to start homeschooling again on Friday. O_O I can't believe that we are in 2013. Today, I have had the honor of guest posting over at the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog so just click the link below to read about how to encourage your youngsters in embracing this new year of challenges and opportunities. I have included projects, talking points, and activities to make your first days back a bit more exciting.