Archive for December, 2009


I’m getting ready for the second half of our school year.  We’ve finished 6 months already this year!  Our school year started July 1st and ends June 30th. We do school 6 days a week, 52 weeks a year (minus times of travel or new babies).

With little ones napping everyday, I find it easier to give my kids school work to keep things calm and orderly. We live in 2 rooms, small rooms, and calm and orderly can be a plus. Don’t get me wrong, I have about 20 paper airplanes in my home and there always seems to be at least one crayon on the floor, but kids with direction and a purpose are much less likely to get into trouble.

We got a bit anxious to start with our history topic for the year and dove in this week instead of waiting for the 1st. We just finished up studying animals for science and enjoyed the ease of finding free animal lapbooks at

Now we head into Early American History.  I have made up explorer pages for notebooks.  I will post them when we finish them.  Some have lapbook pieces which attach to the pages.  I like this mix/match approach.  I’m going to try for history and keep all of our things in a BIG binder and see how much fits in there.  I like to keep things together. 🙂

But I’ll get into how we’re doing explorers when I post the pictures.  For now I have just cleaned off our school shelves. Aahhh.  So refreshing to look at.  The empty shelf will hold our history books as I bring them out one at a time.  If I brought out all of them today, they would be read by the end of the week, all fifty of them.  (I don’t really know how many there are.  Lots.  I have collected them over the years from library book sales, friends, family and occaisionally making a purchase.)

Today I also printed out reports from our online homeschool tracker,    This is the first year I have used this program.  I find several things annoying, but I do like how easy it is to enter in what each kid is doing each day, on the day.

One thing that is a problem for us is that it’s made for a “regular” school year. It won’t allow us as many days of school as we do.  So, I divided our school year in half.  Today I printed out reports for our fall term and set up our new courses for the coming year.  I added these reports (which include our resource list and activities) into my daughter’s portfolio.  I only have one of age to be legally bound to go to school, so I only keep one portfolio.

I found it odd to make a report card.  The math text book has tests in it so I have scores for math and for spelling and vocabulary.  I didn’t have grades for anything else, but it wanted me to put in some score so it could decide if my daughter passed of failed 🙂  I put the report card in the front of the portfolio.

For the portfolio I just add one thing from each subject each quarter, since I’m supposed to show progress in the different areas.  For us that means September, December, March and June I’ll add one thing for each subject.  In front of each subject I have the resource list and activities list printed out from the homeschool tracker.  For science I just put the lapbooks right into the portfolio and made sure the hole punch didn’t go through any pieces.  I know some people put duck tape on the edge of their lapbook and hole punch that, but I don’t have duck tape 🙂

This was one of our first lapbooks.  It came out so nice though and is special because my daughter wrote a funny story about some ants and illustrated it, and I put it in the lapbook.  I took it to a color-copy place and had them copy it at 50%, so we had this little book we could put right into the lapbook.

I try and keep it simple and just put in one page for each subject.  In September I just put in a plain page of multiplication problems, but she did such a nice job making this graph using Microsoft Word that I had to slip this in for December.

Happy New Year!


December 30, 2009 at 12:33 am Leave a comment

Animals in Winter

We’re almost finished with the science half of our year July 1 to December 31st. We have obviously been studying animals. January 1st we start early American history. My daughter can’t wait to get at all the books waiting on the shelf. Here’s our last topic for the year–animals preparing for winter. It covers three topics: hibernation,  migration and adaptation. You can click on the picture to see it bigger. Most just open up to write inside: you need to use the internet or books you have at home to find the answers.


The V is a shape poem–write about geese flying south for the winter. Actually, I think it would be best to do the V right-side up (ours is upside down).  You write one word on each line down the one side and up the other.


Here’s inside the body changes  and “to sleep or to wake” pieces.

The sleep and wake piece actually comes with boxes with animal names in it that you can cut and paste into the right column (whether the animal sleeps all winter or wakes up to eat), but my son decided he would rather write the names.


Here’s inside the migration routes piece.

My son did this one his own way to. I intended for the routes to be color coded. You mark the key with which color you want for each route. He marked the routes by different markings: solid line, dotted line, x’s…


This lapbook (everything you see here) is available as one download from the Simply Lapbooks Yahoo Group.  I hope some can use it.


I put one other file up today at Simply Lapbooks. I put under Living Books a book report form. No pictures, just a plain sheet to fill out with the book info, plot, setting, main character, how the main character changes throughout the book, what I learned, what I liked, what I didn’t like. This can be used with probably ANY book if you need something quick and easy so they can respond to a book.

December 19, 2009 at 6:26 pm Leave a comment

Update on our Math Lapbooks and Learning to Read

Here’s an update on our recent math lapbooks. You can see the lapbooks in the posts immediately following below.

Rebecca (9) is doing great on her long division.  She transitioned to paper problems without a problem.  The first day we just made the lapbook. The second day she wrote out the steps. The third day she did the three practice problems on the lapbook and then on paper. Nice and easy.

My 4 year old, Samuel, loves his counting lapbook. We’re counting through it 0-100 each day now at our reading time.  I saw him using it yesterday to figure out what number came next on a dot to dot.


Need little kid math papers?  Here’s a link.


I really don’t “do school” with my preschoolers other than teaching them to read. For five minutes a day I sit down and do the next reading page, currently with Samuel, but I did the same with the others.

The extras like the lapbooks just grow out of life. I noticed him skipping numbers when he counted up higher and he loves to cut and glue so why not give him a lapbook to work on?  Most days I just give him his workbook where he can pick pages to do, a blank spiral notebook for drawing in and usually a maze or dot to dot.


Want a maze website good for preschoolers up to adult?  Here’s the link.


To learn to read: I have used with my kids the McGuffey Primer. You can download it free online at the Gutenberg Project.  I do sight reading when they are 2 or 3 — 2 for my daughter, 3 for my boys.  I just show them the words for the day written out in big font a couple of times and then they read the next page in the book.  The book only uses the words they’ve already learned so that it builds each day.  Nice and simple.

After the primer I do the McGuffey first reader in much the same way except I don’t show them the words separate any more. We just read the new words in the book and read the next page right then.

At this point they can read the easy Dr. Seuss books and things like that.

After that they do phonics with Phonics Pathways, about $25.  It’s a single book. We do one page a day. Phonics is nice and easy for them at this point even though they are four because they can already read.

I’ve never done phonics games or any of that extra stuff in teaching them to read. I have never seen a need for it.

When they finish the phonics book, I turn them loose. My older kids read 2 and 3 grade levels ahead because of the early start.

I figure that teaching them to read is a lot more important than anything else they might learn at that age. Once they can read than schooling is easy. Just give them books!

December 16, 2009 at 6:18 am Leave a comment

Preschool Counting Lapbook

You can click to see it bigger. Here’s the preschool counting lapbook my four-year-old made.

The file is available at Simply Lapbooks. Some additional pieces are added here though.  There is counting 11-19. That’s the ice cream cone. If you download the file, you’ll notice I fixed the scoops so you can put them in front of the one under it. I’m too cheap to reprint it out for my son though. He doesn’t care. He likes to pretend the ice cream is going to topple over.

There is counting 20-29 which is the graduated book. I made the numbers bigger on the file you can download at Simply Lapbooks.  There is enough room on most of the pieces to have your child write the number if you like.

There is counting 90-100 which is the triangle. It keeps unfolding. This could be used with older kids to do skip counting since all the odds are on one side of the paper and evens the other.

There is counting 10-0 if you want to practice counting backward. My son just likes to open it all the way and start at 0 though.

He likes to count through the whole lapbook from 0 to 100.  The bat piece is there because my son loves bats and wanted some on his lapbook. You can use those to count up to 20 bats.  This can also be used for skip counting by fives.

Then there is also a  little book with just the tens written out 30-40-50-60-70-80-90.

The clothespin counters are cards with dots on them where your child can clip clothespins to the dots for 1-10.

The rest on there is not on the file you can download. The leaves counting book is from a teacher book bag at CurrClick, the bat book (he wanted to put it in there–said he could count the bats) I found online somewhere, and the little rectangles with animals on them are from my son’s preschool workbook. He cut them out and said he would count the pictures inside.  Half of his school is just to keep him happy and occupied so it’s all good to me.

December 12, 2009 at 3:11 pm 4 comments

Long Division Lapbook (and a bit of ESL)

We had another division emergency in our home. This time long division. I whipped this up early this afternoon and my daughter and I just finished putting it together. She’ll be working with it for the next couple days. Lapbooks have the amazing ability to take the stress out of math. Bonus: she got to work with yarn (see below).  By the way I’ll be posting this at Simply Lapbooks if you want the file.

Click on the picture to see the lapbook bigger.  It has a vocab piece with the names of the different parts of the problem (divisor…), an order of operations piece, pieces to write out in your own words what you do for each step, and a piece about how to check your answer.  Then the middle is for practice problems.  My daughter strung yarn to hang the numbers on so you can change the numbers.  It is set up so you can do three different problems and they will all have a remainder of zero.

Here’s a picture of the yarn.

Hope this helps. Maybe you have a lapbook lover at home who would like to do this over the holidays as a review.

And I thought you might be interested…I have four Pakistani refugee children stop by our house whenever they are able for English lessons. I’ve been doing a lapbook with them, of course!

One of those belongs to me 🙂  Here is what they’ve done so far. I introduce just three new vocab words each time and then a lapbook piece to go with it. One is practicing the concept “in.” It’s a suitcase and there are three items to put in the suitcase.  One is to practice the concept “on.”  The petal piece is several versions of “A boy sits.  A boy is sitting.  Boys and girls sit. Boys and girls are sitting.”  etc.  Today they each made a piece with their picture on it. Inside they wrote. “This is me. I am sitting in my home.”  They also wrote their names and ages.

The house piece I’m pretty sure is from the free sampler from Teacher Book Bags at Currclick.  I love the teacher book bags, but I try not to order anything, I just look for freebees!

Here are the pics!

Sorry the pictures aren’t great.  Here it is with the pieces open.

December 11, 2009 at 10:38 pm Leave a comment

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