Growing Every Day

Posts tagged ‘handwriting’

Handwriting Happiness

Wow, life has taken a jump to hyper speed recently!  It can be amazing how fast each day goes and before you know it months have gone by.  I like writing more lengthy detailed posts, but for the time being I may simply be popping up some great resources and short updates of what we are doing, here in our little schoolhouse.

I do want to invite you to follow my The Learning Leaf facebook page.  Facebook is where I will be posting most of the resources and activities that we are doing daily/weekly.  It is a wealth of information whether you homeschool, teach public school, or have littles at home.

Today’s share is this fun FREE gem that I found via pinterest.  It was created by Lacey Yates (find her blog here) and is housed on her store at

Handwriting is a focus write now for my Princess.  She has most letters down, but a few still need some work.  She enjoyed this simple, yet rich page of activities.  She loves to color, and the uppercase/lowercase practice is much appreciated by her momma.  These sheets are long enough to get a good amount of practice, but short enough that she doesn’t lose interest.

Handwriting clip

My Goals 2015-2016


We journeyed our way through the first year of homeschooling…with one.  Toward the end of the school year, the rhythm, technique, and schedule were beginning to fall in place.  M1’s learning style and a structure he responds to well were taking shape.  An ideal time and routine for me to plan lessons, units, etc. was coming together…

and then we stopped for our “summer” break.

We take 6 weeks off from the end of May to beginning of July, and now I sit and think on how to start back to school.  So many plans have formulated and then dissipated in the last two to three weeks.  Where to start has eluded me around each corner.  I am still, somewhat, battling a public education mentality.  It really is such a different paradigm going from a middle school setting of 120 in one hour periods, to two little ones under 6 at our home all day!

Remembering that I don’t have to have a full year of school planned is key for me.  We work in 6 week sessions, so just having a direction for the first six weeks is great.  The question then becomes…

What now?

The answer revealed itself today.  If I can list out the goals for this school year in general and for each child (M2 will be working on some pre-k material, with much less structure than M1) then the direction and beginning momentum will be there.  So without further ado, the goals:


Goals – School in General

1)  One fieldtrip a month – will utilize as many in town resources as possible and some fun options in nearby towns

2) Stick to the schedule – this I say loosely.  I do want to do a better job sticking to the 6 weeks on, 2 weeks off schedule, but I also want the Lord to be our ultimate Schedule Maker.

3) Create a family tree on the wall – going back as far as we can!

4)  Documentation –  keeping better track/organization of pictures, projects, and progress to pull together for an end of school year binder/book.



Goals – M1 (First Grade)

1) Writing – A focus on writing and spelling – would like him to be comfortable writing sentences and possibly paragraphs by the end of the year (he does not like writing so this will be a place to learn discipline for both of us!)

2) Math – finish up our first grade units and progress onto a second grade path, focusing on as many skip counting charts as possible

3) Science – definitely want to cover weather, plants, animals, energy (more may come into play as we go).  Also we will focus on asking three extra questions to explore on each topic we cover.

4) Handwriting – remediate some incorrect/less efficient ways of making letters, practice for more proficiency

5) Art/Music – incorporate it more consistently this year

6) PE – be more consistent in a 3 times a week approach

7) Bible Study- be more consistent in timing, less gaps during a specific focus



Goals – M2 (pre-k)

1)  Keep it fun and experiential, majority of learning coming through play.

2) Work on beginning handwriting – be familiar and confident in capital letter formation, begin work on correct/efficient number formation.

3) Work on recognizing beginning letter sounds – ‘b’aseball, ‘d’og, etc.  If we progress past that, work on ending sounds

4) Math – recognize and work with groups of 20 objects, rote counting to 30, work on “one more than” and “one less than”, extended 2D shape recognition, begin 3D shape recognition, extend patterning.

5) Fun science experiments, use M1’s topics at pre-k level



Goals – Me

1)  Read 3 fiction books for fun – hopefully I can far exceed this, but I am starting small and realistic for myself.

2) Start writing again – publish two blog posts around the 1st and 15th of each month.

3) Read The Pleasure of His Company by Dutch Sheets.

4) Complete the Make Over Your Mornings course by Crystal Paine.

5) Have a “Me” day once a month.


*all clipart courtesy of


Freezing Fun

Thanksgiving was a wonderful time of family and fun.  We took a break from “formal” activities and focused more on preparing to be with family.

A few days before Thanksgiving, we had a bout of cold weather.  Since seasons are a hot topic with us right now, I thought it would be fun to add to our weather knowledge.  So, we did a science experiment.


One morning I checked the outside temperature and it read 31 degrees Fahrenheit.  Mason loves to check the temperature outside so he knew this was on the cold side.  I then asked the baiting question…

Do you know what happens to water below 32 degrees Fahrenheit?

This, as planned, sparked his curiosity.  I put roughly an inch of water in a plastic bowl and set it outside on our porch.  I told Mason that water turns to ice when the temperature is below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.  (In hindsight I would have let him discover this on his own rather than telling him.)  His eyes grew wide and a huge smile crossed his face.  He wanted me to put the bowl where he could see it and keep an eye on it.  After two hours I brought the bowl inside and the top had frozen, but there was still liquid underneath.  He thought that was neat.  We put it outside for another hour and brought it in to observe it once again.  This time all of the water was frozen.

This brought on more curiosities, and he asked if he could take it out.  He spent a good deal of time feeling it, turning it over, and yes, even licking it!  We talked about why it was beginning to melt since we brought it inside and he was touching it.  He decided he wanted to wrap it in some towels to see what would happen.  Once we did, it took a longer time to melt since it was now insulated.

All in all, this was a great teachable science moment

– both for seasonal changes and for a liquid turning to a solid.  I had such fun watching him observe and experiment and investigate.  He was soaking up knowledge and I was soaking in the moment.  (of course I was so into this, I didn’t even think to take pictures)

Here are a few activities we did over the last two weeks…



Assess Writing Uppercase Letters

  • I was curious to know where Mason was in free writing his uppercase letters A-Z.  I knew he was improving on tracing dashed letters, but I wanted to know if he could produce them correctly without the aid of tracing.  To assess this, I had him write the letters on a chalkboard as I named them.  I was looking for if he knew how to form the letters as opposed to neatness, so the chalkboard and large chalk did just fine for us.  > He did great. =)


Sight Word Sundaes

  • This is a cute printable that gives another fun way to practice sight words.  This week, Madison (2 yrs) would build the sundae and Mason would read the words as we put the pieces away.

Word Sundae pic

(click here for Sight Word Sundae download)


Identify Oklahoma

  • I found a very nice printable map of the United States at (click here).  I had been looking for a map that I could print on cardstock to keep around as a reference, and/or cut apart as a puzzle – though we haven’t gotten to that stage yet.
  • I wanted to assess if Mason could recognize the state of Oklahoma (our home state).  He did and was also able to identify two other states.  A+ for that assessment!

map image


Season Recognition

  • We did the water experiment as described above.
  • We also found an activity that consisted of 12 pictures representing all four seasons and Mason had to sort the pictures into the correct season.  (I would give recognition of where I found this activity, but I cannot remember where I found it!)

Season sorting

Icicle image courtesy of Suat Eman /

Moving On

This week was much better for us.  

I started the week with a freshly organized desk and some work prepared for the week.  I thought out those things I would like Mason to accomplish and had them ready Sunday evening.  This worked out well for me, so I may begin to try Sunday evenings as my planning time.

As a part of math this week, we worked on identifying and naming 3-dimensional objects.  I found a good set of printable 3-D flashcards at  I introduced these cards a few weeks back.  This week Mason took each card and went around the house to find objects to match the shape.

3d hunt copy

We fudged a little on the pyramid item (pizza slice).  It turned out really difficult to find a true pyramid!

After collecting all the different objects, Mason then went on to build a “sculpture”.  This was great because after completing his creation, he told me about it by identifying the names of each of the elements.  For example, instead of saying here is the paint bottle, he said – here is the cylinder, cube, etc.  This was a very fun way to practice naming 3-dimensional objects.  It was also challenging to find items from around the house.  I had fun helping with this.



3-Dimensional Shape Naming & Identifying

  • This is the activity described above.  Review 3-D flashcards and then find objects in the house that are those 3-D shapes.
  • Add some fun by then taking the 3-D items and make a “sculpture” from them.  Then name each item in the sculpture using the 3-D shape name.


Fall Tracing

  • Page 11 & 18, in the All About Fall pack from, are two cute trace and color sheets.  Madison enjoyed the sheets as well!

Fall Tracing copy

Calendar Tracing

  • The preschool calendar notebook pages from are a great set of printables.  We are not good at tracing the date each day.  Mason tends to enjoy doing them more than one at a time.  He went back to them this week, finishing the numbers for all of September and most of October.

August calendar

(September, October, and November are currently available here.)


Story Sequencing

  • Using a set of Blue’s Clues story sequencing cards, four cards are given and must be placed in correct story sequence by looking at the scene on the card.  This is helpful not only to see if a child can recognize a storytelling sequence, but also to see if left to right reading is occurring.


CVC Jump

  • For this activity, letters are written in chalk on the driveway.  I chose letters that pertained to three or four word families we had been working on, as well as letters for Mason’s name and a few other sight words.
  • Then I give a word and Mason jumps on the letters to spell that word.  After a while, Mason likes to choose the words and spell them.

CVC jump

Sight Word Sundaes

  • This is a cute printable that gives another fun way to practice sight words.  Normally, Mason would build his own Sight Word Sundae and say the words as we take it apart.  Lately Mason hasn’t wanted to build a sundae, but if I build one he will read the words from mine.  Works for me!

Word Sundae pic

(click here for Sight Word Sundae download)

Don’t Blink

Don’t Blink

Yep, I blinked and all of a sudden it was Sunday!  As I look back, it is hard to remember what happened throughout the week – with myself as well as our learning activities.  At the beginning of the week, I found myself in a dangerous postition…I had no more lesson recording sheets.  It was on my mind to print some…and then, I got distracted!  I am not at all worried about it, simply humored by how fast a week can pass.

In light of this, I want to simply share some new resources I have recently completed:

1)  Dolch Sight Word PowerPoint – Kindergarten List 1 – using the lists found at, I created a PowerPoint presentation including 13 sight words, a sentence with each word, and a review slide at the end.  These are a compliment to the pre-k set that I made last month.

  • The words in (K)List 1 are:  they, under, now, ate, four, soon, saw, all, please, will, into, good, brown

(K)List1 image

*   *   *

2)  Dolch Sight Word Tracing Sheets – Kindergarten List 1 – dashed words to match the (K)List 1 words above.  This document is a little plain at the moment.  Working to update it soon.

(K)List 1 tracing image

*   *   *

3)  ABC tot Tracing – Many times, Madison wants to work on the same thing as her big brother, sight words included.  I created this document so that a toddler can trace inside the letters A-Z.

ABC tot tracing image

*   *   *

I have an ABC tot PowerPoint but it is a little too rough to upload at the moment.  Look for it to come soon.  Also, look for a download and/or printables tab coming soon.

Blessings to you as you venture on this week.

Never Underestimate

My lesson this week:  never underestimate.

I am seeing a beautiful blend of basic planning and inherent motivation budding forth.  It will help to explain using examples.  We have several educational workbooks that have been given to us and have thus far been mostly out of sight, out of mind.  In hopes to decrease the pile, we started working through these to use them up.  Sitting down to work on letter tracing:  my basic planning – complete two pages.  Mason’s inherent motivation – complete 5!

Another time I noticed this blend of basic planning and inherent motivation:  throughout the last couple of weeks, Mason has been more consistently sounding out words.  Out of interest, I asked if he could spell ‘and’ the other day.  He could.  This makes it a great time to move into the realm of spelling basic word families and sight words.  It came to me to write several letters on the ground and have Mason spell words by jumping on the letters in order.  I made sure to include the letters of his name so that there was a word with which I knew he was familiar.

Spelling Jump

(Madison enjoyed jumping on letters as well!)

Long story short…

Not only did he spell the words I thought up, he then started making words out of the letters on the ground.  Words I hadn’t even thought to ask him.   Then he said a word, realized one of the letters wasn’t there, and wrote the letter with the chalk himself.  Wow!  My basic planning – have Mason spell his name and a few other words.  Mason’s inherent motivation – spell given words, make my own words, include new letters.

I must pause and say, there is definitely a timing to this whole process.  There were a few times this week that I presented the idea of tracing letters and either it just didn’t fly, or only what I asked was done (and that with little enthusiasm).  In these instances, I didn’t push and we didn’t move on to other areas.  Most of our learning activities this week happened on Wednesday and then Saturday and Sunday.  There just seemed to be a “no go” on the other days of the week.  This, however, is the beauty of “doing school” from June to June on a 12 month cycle…plenty of time to flow.



Collecting Data, Calendar Activity from RoyalBaloo

  • The only math we did this week was graphing the weather each morning with our calendar activity.  The activity is set up to do daily.  This is not something I’m willing to make happen everyday.  It seems to work better for us to do it once, maybe twice, a week – doing a few days work at one time.

weather graph data


Introduction to Beginning Consonant Blends, Blend Wall Cards by 3 Dinosaurs

  • Since sounding out words and attempting to read books is occurring more and more, we began to look at and attribute sounds to specific blends of consonants.  These wall cards helped with the sounding out of each particular blend and then I had Mason think of another word that started with the same blend.

Blend Wallcards

Sight Word Practice, Lego Pack by

  • Reinforcement is always good, and we have a large supply of foam letters.  Thank you Grandma S for the foam letters!  I also found this great Lego pack at  So, we practiced color sight words, by finding and placing the correct foam letters on the words.  Since spelling is becoming a forefront concept as well, I made sure that once the word was completed, I would ask the question, “How do you spell blue.”  Since the word was in front of him, it simply gave him a chance to practice responding to that question.

MM foam spelling

(Madison’s version is on the right.)


Tracing and Free writing Letters

  • As stated above, we have several educational workbooks that I am ready to work through and lessen the pile!  The pages with letters A-D were completed this week.

tracing work

Tracing Numbers

  • Calendar Activity – writing in dates on the August calendar printable found at


  • What we are now calling Spelling Jump.  It is the activity described in the blog above.  Writing letters on the driveway and giving Mason a word to spell by jumping on the correct letters in order.

The Rest of the Story

This week, we marked absolutely nothing off our learning list.  However, I must say the list at the beginning of last week was prepared simply for the sake of preparing a list.  My heart was absolutely not in it, and I did not seek the Lord as to the direction of our activities.  Knowing this, I am not surprised that there was no motivation to accomplish the tasks listed.

The rest of the story…

I love that learning takes place no matter what prepared list you may have.  It is our natural state to be curious and to be led by our passions to learn more about the world and life around us.  It warmed my heart to read a book with Mason before bed only to find out that he can name 7 of the 9 planets and knew that they “went around on an orbit”.  Hello!

In retrospect, I find we often forget how simple it is to learn.  Formal lessons are not always (maybe rarely) the path to true learning and understanding.  In fact, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom {Ps.111:10; Pr.1:7; Pr.9:10}.  Much learning and dare I say initial learning is done through life flow conversations and experiences.

Worksheets and prepared lessons often do more to simply solidify the concept.

I still feel that I am baby stepping along in this realm called homeschool.  I’m still not completely sure what it looks like and what the flow feels like.  I know the Lord will show us his perfect way.  I say ‘yes’ to the plans that Father has uniquely designed for us on this path, in this season of learning for all involved!


As we didn’t complete the activities written on the “lesson plans”, I want to recount the learning I saw occuring:

Math:  Mason was playing the app – Baby Bus Logic King (android).  The app was about placing two numbers on one side of the see-saw and then placing two different numbers that equaled the same quantity on the other side.  He had a lot of fun with this, so I will most likely create a fun paper version of this as well.

Reading:  I printed a graden unit that included an emergent reader type printable book.  He read through every page, asking for help with maybe two words.  In my search on the internet, I found it difficult to find emergent reader level books that incorporated the words he needs, so I will likely be writing one of those as well.

Science:  Reading through a book on the universe, talking about planets, orbits, the sun, and stars.

Up-and-Coming:  Activities this Week


  • Begin to explore numbers as groupings (i.e. 6 is 3 rows of 2)
  • Watch Array PowerPoint (numbers in groupings of 2)
  • Crayola Practice Pad, addition problems




  • Make beaded necklaces and say the colors of the beads in Spanish.

Amazing Grace

As I reflect on this past week in our education adventure, I am filled with joy and wonder at watching the Lord as He leads us in this journey.  Sometimes we get so caught up in life that we simply forget or overlook the amazing grace of God and that He is truly interested in EVERY aspect of our lives.

My birthday was last week and we were excited to have family stay with us on Monday and Tuesday, as well as a trip out of town scheduled for Thursday.  First thoughts were to simply put the planned educational activities on hold for the week and move on with them next week.  At the same time I felt a desire to get the blog post up for the week and so entered the pressure to have activities lined out, pictures taken, links to attach, etc.

In reality, I knew there was no way I was going to be able to make

it all happen and stay a sane and pleasant person!

So I listened to the Lord and took the step not to cave to the pressures.  As I did, an entirely new opportunity opened up before me…I watched as the Lord Himself moved and flowed with, in, and around Mason to bring about the learning opportunities for the week.  Wow.  It brings tears to my eyes to have known and yet now to have experienced the beauty, gentleness and great care the Lord has for my children.  Here is what it looked like (click pic to download):

Amazing Grace tracing clip-1

Monday morning Mason saw the leftover Shape Tracing worksheets from last week and asked me if he could do them.  Um, yes!  He quickly finished those and I thought, why not hand him the Site Word flashcards.  We went over them once together and then he spent the next ten to fifteen minutes playing with them, rearranging them, making “sentences” with them!  And this was all before Grandma and Uncle arrived.  Again, wow Lord!

Handwriting and reading…check.

On Tuesday, Mason went to the store with Grandma and Uncle and came back with groceries and a fun Crayola Practice Pad for math.  He then spent the next 20+ minutes at the table with Grandma doing simple addition problems.  We were also able to do a measuring activity at the end of the week.

math fun

Math practice…check.

On Wednesday, as we were resting and cleaning from the past two days, we came across a fun pack of ocean foam stickers that Grandma had bought.  Mason was able to make an ocean scene and we talked a little about seaweed and plants in the ocean.

Ocean foam crop


Flash cards…$$$, Tracing sheets…$$$, Foam Sticker set…$$$, Crayola learning book…$$$, saying no to the pressures of the world and yes to Jesus…priceless.


Math completed:  Crayola Practice Pad, Measuring with 1″ unit tiles

Handwriting Completed:  Shape tracing worksheets – squares, triangles, diamonds

Reading Completed:  review Sight Word flashcards

Arts/Crafts Completed:  Ocean Foam sticker project

Up-and-Coming:  Activities this Week


  • Starting to work with 2-10 as groups of 2s (I’ll post later what I use to do this.)
  • Crayola Practice Pad, addition problems


  • Around Town Tracing Words
  • Practice Writing our Last Name


  • Find some books (i.e. old childrens books, emergent reader printed books) and highlight familiar sight words



By some standards, we did not accomplish much this week.  

There were definitely more activities left undone than completed.  However, what we lacked in quantity we made up for in quality.  The art teacher from the middle school came and shared some activities with Mason and Madison.  It was a great change of pace for the kids and wonderful for me to experience the expansion that comes from inviting others to be a part of our education journey.

She brought a few canvas boards.  Two had masking tape in the shape of an ‘M’.  One for Mason, one for Madison.  After laying out supplies, Mason and Madison went about filling the canvas with acrylic paint.  When dry, we removed the tape and had an original masterpiece for each.

Mason & Madison canvas

Then, she gave Mason a smaller canvas board and allowed him to place the tape wherever he wanted.  I’ll have to admit, at this point I had to concentrate on keeping my hands off the tape.  I absolutely loved his creation, and he was thrilled with his painting.

Mason freestyle canvas

I know that the arts are an area that is so easy to push aside for the more “necessary” subjects.  This experience confirmed in me that the arts will be very much a part of our education.  It not only gave my children an opportunity to express themselves in their own way, but it also allowed me to see the beautiful uniqueness that is Mason and Madison.


Math completed:  Dice math (one day), Roman Numeral lesson (impromptu, pictured below)

Handwriting Completed: none – though the dice math gave practice for writing numbers

Reading Completed:  none

Arts/Crafts Completed:  Canvas paintings, clay bowl created (with the art teacher to be fired in the kilm)

Mason saw an activity in the book Big Book of Math by Dinah Zike.  It was a foldable that helped with recognizing Roman Numerals.  I have known that we will soon begin working on clock activities and since all of the analog clocks in my house have roman numerals this activity seemed a great place to start:

Roman Numeral accordian

Up-and-Coming:  Activities this Week



  • Trace Building Words
  • Triangle/Square Tracing Practice
  • Practice Writing our Last Name



Following Footsteps

Something that I am enjoying, and sometimes find challenging, is Madison’s desire to be right up there with Mason doing learning activities.  I know this is a wonderful thing, yet at times it seems daunting to me.  I think the main issue is that I need to find a time to better plan activities for both.  With Mason, I had never done any prepping for activities when he was two (Madison’s current age).  We simply played and our playing was the learning.  With Madison we of course still mainly learn through playing, but when she sees her older brother doing these wonderful activities –

she wants everything to do with it!

It took me this week to see that I am capable to include both of my children, knowing each of their strengths, areas to grow, interests and developmental stages.  Madison wants to be involved, that is natural.  It had simply never even crossed my radar to have activities ready for her as well, at the age of two. I suppose I expected her to go about her playing while Mason and I worked at the table.  This week however, as Mason was working on a tangram activity, I offered it to Madison.  Knowing she was not able to complete the same puzzles as Mason, I quickly traced the individual pieces, in various orientations, onto a piece of cardstock.  When I gave it to Madison to work on, I was encouraged.  She knew exactly what to do and easily placed a few of the pieces, while others we are still working on.

Madison tangram copy


This activity included her in what Mason was doing, yet it hit right at her learning and developmental level.  It was a reminder to me that the adaptations which need to take place in order to include both children, even at varying ages, are often quick and simple.  While I don’t see myself making “formal” lesson plans for Madison yet, I will begin to think ahead regarding her involvement in the same areas/activities of learning.


Math completed:  Star Wars Roll & Graphing, Size Sequencing, Tangram buildings.

Handwriting Completed: Star Wars Letters Tracing

Reading Completed:  Review Site Words, Word Sundaes

Arts/Crafts Completed:  Q-Tip Flag

Mason really enjoyed the tangrams and spent a couple of days with different puzzles we found.  Click here for the free download of Madison’s Toddler Tangram sheet – I created a cleaner digital version.  The Toddler Tangram sheet will fit a tangram set that has a 1.5″ small square piece.  If you don’t have a tangram set or yours don’t fit, simply print another sheet on cardstock and cut the shapes out.  Some of our activities:

Mason tangram   Word Sundae pic   Mason flag   Madison flag

Up-and-Coming:  Activities this Week


  • Dice Math x 2 days
  • Measuring common items using 1″ plastic color tiles,  (print and cut to create your own)


  • Trace Building Words
  • Buildings Matching worksheet
  • Triangle/Square Tracing Practice
  • Practice Writing our Last Name


  • Review Sight Words
  • Word Families
  • Reading Simple Sentences and Drawing Pictures to Illustrate – based on our sight words


  • Guest teacher coming to the house
  • Guest teacher coming to the house

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