January 29, 2008

V is for Valentine

For Valentine's Day week we are going to combine 2 units from Homeschoolshare.

"Cranberry Valentine" & "The Valentine Bears".

I am planning to include a lapbook combining both stories, crafts, cooking and of course make our own Valentine Cards!! Can't wait to get started!

We will be spending Valentine's Day in Puerto Rico with my family and it would be exciting for grandma to "row" with us that week.

Also, my Dad's birthday is on Feb 14th so the boys will get to make a special gift for "Abuelo Jim".

My family name is "Valentin" so I am planning to tie this into our discussion that week since the boys don't know that yet. ;-)

January 26, 2008

Noah's turn

Noah also wanted to read "Mac". He kept repeating "Mac...and the dog" page after page. ;-)

Caleb reading

Caleb is enjoying his "Bob Books" very much. He is doing very good at blending and decoding. We will be starting formal phonic instruction late on this year using "Reading Made Easy".

January 25, 2008

Big boys with short ties

Last Saturday morning....

Caleb: "Mom, you know, I think I'm tired of wearing sweaters all the time. Today I was to dress up."
Me: "Alright. Today you help me pick your clothes for church"

And here's what he chose. Matched up blue shirts and navy blue pants for him and his brother. And a well-dressed man cannot leave the house without an eye-catching tie, right? All we had was these ties from when the boys where 18 months old...hence the length!!
Great job Caleb! You both looked so handsome.
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Our First Volcano

Caleb has been curious about volcanoes so yesterday we made our first home-made volcano. First we made the clay, then shaped it into a mountain, made a whole on top, filled the whole with baking soda, mixed vinegar with red food coloring and pour it over the soda and that's it!

Here's the shot afterwards. The boys kept cheering "again...again...again!". Funny how something so simple can be so exciting! We repeat it soooo many times! And when Dad got home in the evening...guess what?....of course, we had to show dad! ;-)
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January 24, 2008

A post about my husband

I've been thinking about my husband today and what a blessing he is to me and the boys. I have not really spend a lot of time talking about him here (sorry honey!) and he might be feeling a bit left behind.

The truth he is such a HUGE part of everything we do at home and my homeschooling entire motherhood experience would be soooooo different if he wasn't here!

He is our family leader, spiritual guide, peacemaker, math teacher, silly-dances daddy, favorite singer ( I know this one is hard to believe if you know me!), photographer, hair stylist, laundromat, pretend play-pal, instructor and much, much more.

Above all I love how he models the love of Jesus to us. And how he is growing and becoming more like him.

I'm so thankful we can journey together and grow in our love for God, for each other and our family.

January 20, 2008

Handwriting Without Tears

We are just starting to use Handwriting Without Tears and so far it's going GREAT!

You can learn more about this program at their website. The section titled "why it works" has great information about the method.

Right now we are doing the capital letters wood pieces & the "wet-dry-try" method and is really working! Even Noah (2 year old) has joined in the fun of building letters and has practically taught himself the alphabet this way.

I love the Kindergarten Teacher's Guide. It gives lots of ideas of activities to do with the wood pieces and the tips on pencil grip are excellent!

We are going to begin "Letters and Numbers for Me" in a few months. I'll share how it goes. ;-)

January 18, 2008

Hooked on Spanish

If you are looking for an introduction to Spanish for the FIRST TIME for your little ones you might want to consider Hooked on Spanish.

I purchased this program over a year ago and after reviewing it, packed it all up again and stored in the closet, till recently where I decided to give it a second try.

My main reason for NOT liking this product the first time was that I felt the vocabulary was limited and that my kids already knew most of these words.

And yet they are now enjoying it anyways and even when they know many of the words, they love the CD-rom lessons and they get to hear some additional Spanish every week.

Here's a review that I posted last year at the FIAR Boards about Hooked on Spanish.


It comes in a really big box and everything on it it's very visually attractive. It looks like a lot of fun. This box could be used later on to store other things as well (projects, lapbooks, etc.) Everything comes neatly organized, durable quality glossy stock paper and for the value could be re-sell on EBAY!

AGES: 4-6 (3 levels-more like 3 units, you could teach them in any order)


  • flashcards (for review)

  • CD-rom (for lesson 15 minutes & computer games)

  • workbooks (with oral exercises and games written work)

  • storybooks (for review and integrates vocabulary learned every 3-4 lessons)

  • Progress chart and stickers


The program introduces around 30 vocabulary words and some phrases per level. Includes, colors, shapes, numbers, body parts, places, family members and more. For a lesson, you are to use the CD-rom first, then do a lesson from the workbook, followed by playing a game in the computer. Then you review the new words with the flashcards and the computer games.


  • Level 1: numbers, colors, shapes, greetings (hello, goodbye, my name is, I'm ___ years old)

  • Level 2: Family members, body parts, greetings (good morning/afternoon/night), introduction to plurals & female/male endings in Spanish, simple sentences integrating vocabulary learned.

  • Level 3: Opposites, Clothing, Places, sentences on going to places & getting dressed

POSITIVE: If this is your child's first introduction to the language and he is 4-6 years old, this program might be good for you.The computer lessons and games are pretty good. Fun latin music in all the games and lessons. The progress chart/stickers is cute and will look great on your wall. The workbooks has some great ideas for follow-up games and activities. If you child is already reading she will enjoy the storybooks a lot.

NEGATIVE: The storybook/lesson are in English with only the Spanish words that are on that lesson in Spanish. Does that make sense?? So you are reading to your child in English and then switching to Spanish on the key words. Here's an example:"Watch him turn into a bird when I count to 3"So on the purple colored number 3 the child is supposed to say "tres". (Think "Dora the Explorer")The sentences are very simple to read. So a child who's reading could read these stories and then say the Spanish word when indicated. (The Spanish words are illustrated. So, instead of seeing the word, you see a picture of it in the sentence.)I am not sure if this is the best way of learning a second language. At this stage a rather read simple Spanish stories to my kids and introduce new vocabulary that we can practice throughout the week, etc.

I still feel that for the price more vocabulary and sentences should be introduced. Also, I am not crazy about the flashcards. If you are going to reinforce the Spanish words point to your child's eyes and say "los ojos". You don't need to point to the flashcard with eyes on it. But they are well made and if you have a poster board or chart for your kids these could be added there for review.

So even when we don't LOVE this product. It's still a fun program and so I decided to post this review here in case it helps you. ;-)

January 17, 2008

The KUMON way

I am going to spend the next few posts sharing about other things we use at home that we LOVE.

And today is KUMON workbooks!

Let me clarify that I am not crazy about loading preschoolers with worksheets (where they have to "color blue the BIG house" or "circle all the letter B" type of sheets) BUT these are something else.

What the boys love about Kumon....

  • Fun Mazes (Easy Mazes, First Book of Mazes, Amazing Mazes)

  • Fun Activity Books (cutting, folding, pasting, coloring

What Mom loves about Kumon...

  • the boys fine motor skills have improved so much with these books! Caleb's pencil control is great, his cutting is very smooth & his sitting time span has grown.

  • It's allowing them to have some fun quiet table time with very little help from mom.

  • They think it's part of playtime!!

  • Amazon has them as part of their Buy 3 get 1 Free plus free shipping!

  • The paper quality is excellent and it changes depending of the type of activity they are doing. The cutting paper is the best!

The company websites has lot of sample pages. Our top books are: First Book of Tracing, Easy Mazes, Cutting, Let's Sticker & Paste and Amazing Mazes

January 10, 2008

L is for Lion

After our holiday break I had a hard time starting school again, so I decided to ask Caleb to choose an animal that we wanted to learn about and we will focus all our our learning for the week on it.

He chose LION. So I improvised a week of learning with lions as our topic. And here's some of the fun stuff we did and learned.

Books we read

Dandelion (free unit ideas at

Bible Reading

Daniel 6 (the story of Daniel & the lion's den)

Talked about Jesus the "Lion of Judah" and what that means


patterns from

Painted Lion paperplate (Caleb wanted only 1 whisker ;-)

Toilet paper roll lions (there turned out so cute!)
Caleb's Lion Drawing (we followed the lesson from Usborne's "I Can Draw Animals")

Lion & the lamb coloring page

For fun...

On Monday we had beautiful 60 degrees weather in Chicago so what a better way of ending our lion fun than by going to see the lions at the zoo? So that's what we did!

Here's my favorite picture

Lion's facts from

January 08, 2008

Tenderhearted Brothers

Caleb: Noah...I love you.

Noah: I love you too.

Caleb: I think we should be brothers aaaall the time, all the time.

Noah: Yeah.

Caleb: And you know what Noah? We should be kind to each other.

Noah: Yeah, I think so.

Caleb: Let's not say rude things like "you're so selfish" or "go away!".

Noah: I don't want to say that.

Caleb: Ok. I'm going to tell Daddy when he gets home!!

Be kind to one another
forgiving one another
as God in Christ forgave you.
Ephesians 4:32

January 07, 2008

BEST of 2007

We had so much fun with the boys this past year. We are truly blessed beyond measure. Here's some of my favorite shots of the year. Enjoy.

You can click on the album link to see larger pictures