Welcome!

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Welcome to Of Sparrows & Butterflies! My name is Emma (wife, mom, military spouse, homeschool teacher, chef, and maid are just some of my titles). With a family and home to care for, my life, as is yours I’m sure, is crazy and fun. Here I write about so many things, but they all have to do with family, friends, home, homeschooling, or the most important, a daily walk with the Lord. I hope you will join me in this wonderful journey called life and find the joy hidden around every corner.

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies EVER!

Have you ever taken a bite of something and just knew you would never have another like it? That’s what happened when I made these cookies. Now, those who know me know that I don’t really enjoy cooking or baking, so trying new recipes bring on anxiety because they very rarely work out for me and I feel like I’ve just wasted time and money on something that was a fail (ok they normally aren’t a complete fail, we can eat it, its just not what I wanted it to be). So when I got the random urge to make some cookies and followed that by wanting to try a new recipe since I really haven’t loved the one I’ve been using, I went for it. Click here to see recipe I tried, I even tried Karen’s trick with the spoons and it really worked! Now I did make a change to the very end. After I did the spoon trick and added a few extra chips to the tops, I put them back in the oven for one and a half minutes. This helped to melt those chips on the top and gave them a better look and made the gooeyness cook up a little better. I cooked up half the batch and put the rest in the freezer for another day. If you try this recipe, let me know how you chose to do them! Sometimes just one little difference is what makes them perfect.

Our Homeschool Room

Our Homeschool Room is a work in progress (aren’t they all?). Last year we barely used it because we didn’t have a place to sit comfortably so it was mostly a storage room for homeschool stuff while we used the kitchen table as our work area. But as you can see in the photo below, we now have desks and chairs thanks to a very sweet friend who blessed us with them. Our days of schooling at the table are done (for now at least). IMG_3246

If you can’t tell, we love Ikea! Those cube bookshelves, the short table on the left, and the easel are all from there. The table is one of my better finds! It’s normally $24.99 but I got it for only $8 because it has on little scratch on a leg so it was in the damaged section of the store. You won’t always find things you need or want in that section but it’s worth the quick walk through if your already there as you never know what you will find! The shelves hold all our school books, chapter books, science kits, and other resources. I didn’t like the gap between the shelves but putting them together left us with a lot of wasted space. I found the set of drawers that is between the shelves for only $5 at a thrift store and its used mostly for math manipulatives or games that will fit in it. IMG_3256

The is across from the desks. Yes, its a MESS, but it’s real. On that table we have our Library Bin so nothing gets lost and is easy to return when its due. Then we have our current projects and things I need to put on the wall. Under the table we have more helpful posters as well as manipulatives. (Can you tell what my favorite color is?)IMG_3269

And here is our map! It’s not in the best place as everyone who walks into my home has come in contact with it. But that’s okay, its great to hear the conversations that start with the kids because of it! Well, that’s our homeschool area! Want to see more homeschool spaces? Click the photo below!

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Curriculum Choices 2015-2016

It’s finally almost all figured out! If you have been following me for a while you will notice a lot of changes in our choices for this year. Part of that is because what we have used before we either need a break from or it just wasn’t working for our family. The other part is trying to find the perfect curriculum to fit with the kids learning styles. The biggest change is the math we will be trying out. Its nothing like we have used before. RizzyRoo and I really loved Teaching Textbooks last year but we both felt that we needed to try out one more style of learning before “settling” on it. If I’m being honest, I’m actually scared for this year when it comes to math. But if it just doesn’t work out, we can always go back to TT. Anyway, here is what we plan to use!

RizzyRoo: 4th Grade
Math Mammoth 4
Dreambox Math
Reading Detectives Beginning
Woodroots Beginning
RazKids Online
Spelling Workout A&B

Goober: 2nd Grade
Math Mammoth 2
Dreambox Math
Language Smarts B
RazKids Online
Bob Books
Spelling Workout A&B

Both:
Story of the World
Road Trip USA
God’s Design for Science
Hero Tales 2
Bible

We are still deciding on what Bible Curriculum we want to try out. Its down to three choices now, hoping to figure it out in the next few weeks.
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What are you using this year in your homeschool? Is there a great Bible curriculum you just have to share with me?

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Curriculum 2014-2015: What we used

For homeschool families finding curriculum is stressful but also exciting! Below you will see all we used/did this past school year with links to where you can buy them so you can see what they look like.

2014-2015

~Math~
Goober:
Horizons Math 1 -It was time to try something new. We started out the year with this as we loved it last year for his Kindergarten but this year we parted ways with Horizons due to Goobers current need in the way he learns best.
Dreambox Math– Goober loved this online program but there are some gaps and its very gamey. I found that the concepts taught on it where learned well but he had a hard time transferring his knowledge to paper even though he could do it all great online. We will use this again but more of a supplement and not the main curriculum.
Daily Math Practice- This is what was used to help the skills transfer to paper. It was simple and didn’t add much more work.  Great for a supplemental workbook.

RizzyRoo:
Teaching Textbooks 3– RizzyRoo loved TT3 and so did I! For the most part she did it all on her own which gave me the time to work with Goober on something. The explanations are great and the practice/work part was just enough to make sure the kids get the concepts without overdoing it. TT is a little behind. Anywhere from half a year to a whole year behind other curriculum so for this next year I would feel we need to do 4 and 5 in one year to finish at the point I want her at. We could do this but we will try out one more math program next year just to make sure we are finding the right one for her. But I do highly recommend TT.

Both:
Math Games
Financial Peace Jr.

~Language Arts~
Goober:
All About Reading 1I love this curriculum, truly I do. Its well put together and easy to teach. But it doesn’t work for us at this time due to the way my kids learn and my goober struggled with it. So we ending up cutting this out about half way through the year.
Language Fundamentals 1– Goober Struggled with reading this year so we online completed a little of this book but it is really good for supplement or to use as a guide for what to teach.
Explode the Code Online – We love ETC! But the online program is very slow. We will go back to the books next year.
Reading Comprehension 1– Again, with struggling in reading we didn’t get through much of this but it is a great one for reading comprehension.
Bob Books– I stayed away from these for so long because of the fact that its a lot of sight words and I didn’t agree with teaching reading with just sight words. But half way through the year and we had made NO progress in reading we added these in to see if they would help. Almost instantly he was reading! Yes most of it was sight words but with the program I’m going to list next he was actually reading and not just memorizing.
RazKids– An online reading program that breaks it all down. Its a little repetitive and is gamey but with this, Bob Books, and other reading books Goober is doing so well. He finally is getting it! We will be continuing with RazKids online next year.

RizzyRoo:
All About Reading 3– We got through more of this with RizzyRoo then Goober and I do like the program and find nothing wrong with it but it just isn’t working for our family.
Language Fundamentals 3- We have used this for her since we started homeschooling and will continue it as a supplement as it covers everything needed.
All About Spelling 1– Again, this just isn’t working for our family but is a great program.
Explode the Code Online– As I said before, its very slow! The books are better!
Reading Comprehension 3 Love these! Helps with their creative thinking as well.
Paired Passages 3– Great to start comparison writing with.
~History~
Together:
Story of the World– Love the stories and workbook. Feel it gives a great view without being to biased. Will continue next year.
Hero Tales– We got through Hero Tales 1 this year and loved learning about them all. With some we did extra reading online about. Next year we will move onto Hero Tales 2.

~Science~
Together:
Lego Robotics (Co-Op Class)
Building & Engineering (Co-Op Class)
Science- The Basics (Co-Op Class)
Animal Encounters/Nature Studies (Co-Op Class)

~Unit Studies~
Together:
(This will be updated every few months as I find new ones we will cover)

Wright Brothers– The kids loved this one! They want to do it again!
Archaeology- Fun!
Human Body (year long study)- Did some with our co-op but didn’t get to much at home this year, maybe next.

~Writing~
Handwriting without Tears– Great for learners or those continuing to work on their skills. Easy to use and by the end of the year I saw a great amount of improvement in both kids writing. They did 1 and 3 this past year.
Four Square: Writing Method 1st-3rd grade- I was so excited to find this program! Its an easy way to teach and an the easiest way I have found for my kids to learn writing reports. They actually like writing now.

~Bible~
Together:
Reading through Bible stories
Awana

~Other Activities/Classes~
Together:
Chinese Immersion Class
Karate
Lego Club

I’m so excited to share that I have been blessed to be a part of the book launch for Sarah Mae’s (www.sarahmae.com) new book, Longing For Paris! Being on the launch team, I was able to read an advance copy of the book and I just have to tell you all, this is THE book you will want to get your hands on as soon as it comes out! In fact, you might just want to pre-order it on Amazon or at B&N!

If you’re like me, Sarah, and many other women I know, you have longings-deep longings in your heart that sometimes just hurt so bad because you feel you will never be able to see them come to light. You feel that no one cares about your dreams, or maybe you feel that your dreams don’t matter. It could be that you seek an adventurous life or just something different from the way you grew up. Or maybe you have a desire to be someone different or do something different. Whatever your longings, Sarah shares with us just how important our longings are and why they are so important.
Paris2“I’m no longer willing to just survive.” This was one of the many things that stuck out to me in this book. It just proved to me that this was where I needed to be – what I needed to be reading. It goes well with my journey to find out just what it means to Thrive.
Paris
Are you ready to take the next steps of faith to see where God will take you and your longings? Find out more about this book here.

The Highlights! May 2015!

Some of my favorite posts out there right now, enjoy!

1.”What reading time looks like in my Homeschool” by The Unlikely Homeschool- I loved this post for so many reasons, but what sticks out to me with a lot of the posts on this site is the honest, non-judgmental way of sharing helpful things that work for her and her family. I love how she talks about the difference in reading from the learn-to read group and the read-to-learn group. I definitely have one of both of those and just seeing it laid out that simple helps me figure out what books my kids should be reading.

2.”Kids Organized Art Area” by California to Carolina- Such a cute idea that would be easy to do in any corner of your home that really wouldn’t cost that much! Enjoy!

3.”Don’t Allow Bitterness to Grow in Your Marriage” by Matthew L. Jacobson- Great post on Bitterness and how to help fix it in a marriage.

4.”What in the World did I do all day?” by Scary Mommy- Just a sweet reminder that what you are doing is important.

5.”The Kitchen Cabinet Tour” by IHeart Organizing- This post makes me want to go reorganize my whole kitchen! (Don’t say I didn’t warn you!) I hope to soon be able to show off a few of the areas I love in my home that are nice and organized!

6.”10 Cooking Skills your kids should know” by Super Healthy Kids- Some easy but good skills to start with!

7.”Top 10 Language Based Board Games” by The Unlikely Homeschool- Great games to help make learning fun!

My Favorite Things

There are many things this past school year that helped make our lives a little better. Below you will find just some of my favorite things.

1. Planner!
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Unless you are strictly unschooling, you plan stuff out. It may be a little or like many of the homeschoolers I know, you plan a lot! I am a planner. And I am picky about my planners, as I don’t want to have too many of them to refer to. I just want one good one. Well, I found it. I have used it since we started homeschooling and it’s been so much help! The Well Planned Day Family Homeschool Planner (yes, it is an actual planner for homeschool homes!!) sold by hedua is what I use and LOVE. It has space to write out what you would normally put in a planner, like appointments, then it has plenty of space to plan out your homeschool for up to 4 kids! Has a small weekly section to plan out dinners, as well as shopping lists ready to tear out used for grocery or school stuff! It even has report cards for those who wish to use them! I just love the layout and the little articles throughout the planner. The great thing about this (besides how well it is laid out and how thorough it is) is that if there are parts you’re not going to use, it is still worth getting; just consider those parts as bonus pages.
Click here to check out the planner!

2. Math Game!

sumAlmost weekly, we would pull out the box of math manipulatives/tools/games to give us a break from the workbooks and help math be more fun (because you know if it’s fun you remember it better!). Our favorite so far as been Learning Resources Sum Swamp Game! It’s a basic but fun math game to help with addition and subtraction. It’s for Pre-K and up. For both my kids it’s used to work on their math facts speed (we set a timer), but at the start of the year my son was really learning from it but now its more fun then learning! But it keeps them sharp!
Click here to check out the game!

3. Bob Books!

bobThese are amazing! If you have a kid just learning to read or struggling to learn but knows the sounds letters make, give Bob Books a try. Goober struggled all year to read, but it clicked as we worked through these books. And they have just enough silliness to make kids want to keep reading them. Click here for the website to see all their great sets.

4.Easel!

mala-easel__0135810_PE292683_S4My kids hate writing, but they do it willingly on either the dry erase side or chalk side of our Easel from IKEA. I didn’t think this would last the whole school year and almost didn’t buy it. But it was the best $15 ever spent! Both kids have gone from basic writing lessons to full book reports on this thing. And its also great for art!

So there you have it, some of my favorite things from our 2014-2015 school year. Do you have a few favorites? Share with us!

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*Some links in my posts may be affiliate links. This means that I get a tiny amount back IF you order. I was not paid to write what I said and I am only an affiliate if I truly love the product/company. If you do order from one of my affiliate links, thank you! The little that I get back helps pay for me to get a monthly coffee I call “sanity coffee” (I told you it was just a little back!).