I’m a Chart Person

On Monday, April 4, the kids had to take their annual state-mandated achievement test. The results, whatever they may be, do not affect the parents’ right to homeschool their child in Arkansas. However, it is the law, and I want to teach my children that we are law abiding Americans. The test only takes a few hours, but it sort of messes up our entire day.

And, when Monday is off, it throws off the whole week. You know what I mean? It’s hard for me and my OCD self to keep going when the week gets off to a weird start.

I was also kind of in a rut with our homeschooling efforts. I felt myself feeling worn out, sluggish and less-than-motivated the past few days. So, I decided to declare this week our “spring break”! 🙂 We have enjoyed staying up a bit later, sleeping in a bit later, and spending the days outdoors! I have enjoyed cleaning out some closets, wiping out some cabinets, and getting organized.

My name is Valerie, and I’m a chart addict. I love charts. I love lists. I love crossing things off. It’s true.

One thing I’ve been wanting to do, is create a goal chart for my kids. We have some of the A.C.E. goal charts, but they are small and rather difficult to write in, especially if you want to add more detail than page numbers. Since we often enhance our materials, we need more space than what is given on the goal charts. I wanted something that they could use, without much assistance from me. I created THIS CHART using a template on Microsoft Works. Perhaps it would be a help to you, as well. The terms “Word Building” and “Social Studies” are particular to A.C.E., so I created THIS CHART to be suitable for other curricula. (You will need to download these in order to view them.)

I also used THIS TEMPLATE and created my own grocery list! It’s more of an inventory, really, so that I won’t have to copy everything down every week. We often use the same products over and over. I arranged my list according to the way my grocer’s aisles are set up, from back to front, which is how I usually shop. I hate backtracking through a store! Again, maybe it’s just my OCD side talking. 😉 I also deleted many things that we don’t use and added some that we do. For instance, the original template called for “Lamb chops”, but I’ve never even eaten lamb chops, so I don’t cook them. I also never buy anything from the “Service Deli” in a store, so I deleted that section as well. All in all, I made a lot of changes to make it my own. You can download the template for free and make it work for you.

Today, I’m planning to do some more cleaning, such as bathrooms and floors, and catch up on my grading! Tomorrow, I’m getting my hair cut and highlighted. Saturday will be laundry, more cleaning, and preparing for the Lord’s Day.

Off to get my list, 😉

Milton the Mule

Laci, age four, is not officially part of our little homeschool. However, that doesn’t stop her from learning during school and beyond! She is constantly listening to us and copying the older kids. She also asks lots of questions!

She loves to organize and sort things. Here’s how she sorted our alphabet cards today — by color! heehee!

I got this little video of her singing the ABC’s of ACE, the Letter “M”, about “Milton the Mule”. She says “Milton the Mole” when she sings it, and I just love that. 🙂 Leslie does a great job singing these, too, but she’s a bit camera shy. {smile}

The words are:
“Milton the Mule, he made a mistake, while he read the map he walked in the lake. Mmmmmm…”


A.C.E. Content, First Grade

A.C.E. is a great curriculum. I enjoy using it very much, however, the math was not suitable for our family. Because of this, I do not have the content of the math PACEs for first grade.

To teach phonics using A.C.E., you need the ABC’s of ACE CD and the flash cards. ACE marks the words in a way that helps the child see how to pronounce the sounds. The child also learns word families. It is a very easy way to teach reading, at least, it is for me. 🙂 A.C.E. does sell lesson plan binders to go along with their Kindergarten (which is more like pre-school material) and first grade levels, but they are expensive. The binders have many hands on activities to incorporate with the Pace work. This is something that I have opted not to use, but if you like “hands-on”, or have never taught phonics, I highly recommend the binders.

The scope and sequence that ACE provides does not give a listing of what material is covered in each pace, so I thought I would post it for those who might be interested in a more detailed look at the first grade (Paces 1001-1012)  materials. Please contact me if you have any questions. 🙂

Each Pace (workbook) is 27 pages and very colorful. They have copy work, scripture memory, circling. coloring, and dot to dot activities. These materials are biblically sound and fun for kids. If you would like to enhance this curriculum, I suggest adding in some extra reading, such as the Bob Books or A Beka Kindergarten readers. And, of course, read books aloud – always. 🙂

Word Building 
(All Paces include the writing of various word families)
1001: Three a sounds – long a, as in Ape, short a, as in Antelope, and a that says “o” as in Armadillo.
1002: Letters M m, S s, F f,  numbers 1 & 2
1003: Letters R r, E e, numbers 3 & 4
1004: Letters B b, N n, G g (as in Gerbil), number 5
1005: Letters G g ( as in Goldfish), T t, P p
1006: Letters I i (both sounds), D d, numbers 6 & 7
1007: Letters H h, O o (both sounds) numbers 8 & 9
1008: Letters L l, K, k, C c (as in Cat) Reading stories, big & little.
1009: Letters C c (as in Civet), J j, W w
1010: Letters U, u,(both sounds) V v
1011: Letters Q q, X x, Y y (as in butterfly)
1012: Letters Y y ( as in Yak), Z z, review of all sounds learned.

1001: Writing beginning sounds, ending sounds, learning the sound of “th”. Copying sentences.
Learning to listen. (Heb. 12:1)

1002: Writing beginning and ending sounds, learning the sound of “wh”. Writing sentences.
Learning to do all things with Jesus’ help. (Phi. 4:13)

1003: Reading and writing a sound (as in Antelope) words. Reading and writing with the “sh” sound. Reading and writing sentences.
Learning that God helps me to do what I should. (Deut. 31:6)

1004: Reading and writing a sound words (as in Armadillo). Reading and writing a sounds words (as in Ape). Reading and writing sentences.
Learning to do God’s will no matter what happens. (1 Cor. 2:2)

1005: Reading and writing e sound (as in Elephant) words. Reading and writing with the “ch” sound.
Learning to be fair with others. (Prov. 1:3)

1006: Reading and writing e sound ( as in Emu) words. Adding “s” and “ing” to words. Reading and writing sentences.
Learning to love others even when they do wrong. (Col. 3:13)

1007: Reading and writing i sound (as in Inchworm) words. Adding “s”, “ing”, and “ed” to words. Reading and writing sentences.
Learning that God works in my life. (1 Pet. 5:6)

1008: Reading and writing i sound (as in Ibex) words. Reading and writing y sound (as in Butterfly) words. Reading and writing sentences.
Learning to be kind as God is kind. (Lk. 6:36)

1009: Reading and writing o sounds (as in Ostrich) words. Reading and writing “oo” sound words. Reading and writing sentences.
Learning to be able to stay at what I am doing.(Gal. 6:9)

1010: Reading and writing o sound (as in Okapi) words. Reading and writing “ow” sound words. Reading and writing sentences.
To learn to love people who help me to do right. (1 Thess. 5:13)

1011: Reading and writing u (as in Umbrella Bird) and u (as in Unicorn) sound words. Reading and writing  “oo” sounds words. Reading and writing sentences.
Learning to be on time. (Ecc. 3:1)

1012: Reading and writing “oo” sound words. Reading and writing “ow”, “ou”, “ng” and “ck” sound words.  Reading and writing sentences.
Learning to accept others even when they do not agree with me. (Rom.14:13)


Each Pace includes approximately 20-35 new words for the child. Some of these overlap with Social Studies.
Each Pace has the child read stories and answer questions about the stories. This is important for reading practice since A.C.E. does not offer separate readers for First Grade.

1001: Reading stories about God’s World  and about what God made on on day one. Learning to do what I should do. (Rom. 12:2)

1002: Reading about God’s world, what God made on days two and three. Learning that God gives me all I need. (Phil. 4:11)

1003: Reading about what God made on day three. Learning to do the very best I can. (Ecc. 9:10)

1004: Reading about what God made on day four and about the four seasons. Learning to look for things to do. (1 Thess.4:11)

1005: Reading more about God’s world and about what God made on day four. Learning to be true to God and others. (1 Cor. 4:2)

1006: Reading more about God’s world and about the earth. Learning that everything I do, I must do for Jesus. (Job 11:18)

1007: Reading about what God made on day five; about birds and fish. Learning to see what may happen and then to do it right. (Prov. 14:15)

1008: Reading about what God made on day six; about animals and man; more about God. Learning that God is with me. (2 Tim. 1:7)

1009: Reading about Adam and Eve and what God did on day seven. Learning to give of myself to God. (James 3:13)

1010: Reading about our eyes and about things close and far away. Learning to pay attention. (Mark 14:38)

1011: Reading about our ears and sounds. Learning to have peace through Jesus. (Jn. 16:33)

1012: Reading about keeping rules, about keeping well, clean and neat. Learning to be what God wants me to be. (Phil. 4:8)

Social Studies
Each Pace includes approximately 20-35 new words for the child. Some of these overlap with Science.
Each Pace has the child read stories and answer questions about the stories. This is important for reading practice since A.C.E. does not offer separate readers for First Grade.

The first three Paces mostly contain stories about Ace and his family.
1001: Learning to be ready to do what I am asked to do. (Matt. 9:9)

1002: Learning to know what is right. (Ez. 44:23)

1003: Learning to always obey, help others and give to others. (1 Pet. 3:8)

1004: Reading stories about Ace and Baba, learning about Adam, Eve, Cain, Abel and Noah.
Learning to stay by someone when they need me. (Jn. 15:13)

1005: Reading about church and school, God and His Son, Jesus, and about doing right. (Josh.24:14)

1006: Reading about things with wheels, things on water, and things in the sky. Learning to do to others as I want them to do to me. (Matt. 7:12)

1007: Reading about saving and caring for things and how to study at school. Learning how to be kind to others. (Eph. 4:31)

1008: Reading about working hard, giving to God, sharing with others. Learning to hope for the best. (Rom.8:25)

1009: Reading about many kinds of people and their work; many kinds of homes and clothes. Learning to help others know what is right. (2 Tim.2:25)

1010: Reading about a globe and a map and about being a missionary. Learning to know and do what I should. (Rom. 14:12)

1011: Reading about obeying rules and laws and praying for our leaders. Learning to say and do the right things at the right time. (Col. 4:6)

1012: Reading about the United States and the Pilgrims. Learning to always tell the truth. (Eph. 4:25)

Bible Reading
Bible Reading for first grade (1001-1012) is set up so that the teacher reads the stories and shows the pictures to the child. The child then does coloring and dot to dot activities to reinforce the lesson. It is simple and fun for the child!

1001: The stories of Abram & Lot, Joshua and the walls of Jericho, and Noah and the Ark.
1002: Ax head floating, 10 lepers healed but only one returns to give thanks, Adam and Eve and the fall.
1003: David & Goliath, Good Samaritan, Jonah and the Whale.
1004: Paul & Silas in Jail, Jesus calms the storm, Moses leads the people out of Egypt (the highlights).
1005: Mephibosheth, Peter released from prison (Rhoda), Thomas doubts Jesus.
1006: Tower of Babel, Moses sees the burning bush, Elijah and the widow of Zarephath.
1007: Feeding the 5,000, Jesus eats with the Pharisee, Daniel in the Den of Lions.
1008: John the Baptist born and preaches Jesus, Naaman, Moses makes the brass serpent in the wilderness.
1009: Nehemiah re-builds the walls, Jairus’ daughter & woman with issue of blood, Zacchaeus.
1010: Eutychus, man lowered down through the roof to Jesus, Samuel hears the Lord speaking.
1011: Saul & David, People give gifts for the building of the tabernacle, Gideon.
1012: Moses gets 10 commandments, Joseph & the coat of many colors, Joseph sold into slavery.

Hope this helps someone! 🙂

What I Love about A.C.E.

In the past, I have a had a slight aversion to using the A.C.E. curriculum. I felt that overall, A.C.E. was a weak curriculum. I explain my story and feelings HERE. However, as a homeschooling Mom of five who is now almost in her fourth quarter of using A.C.E. for most subjects, I have found that I genuinely love this curriculum! I certainly see that it isn’t perfect, but my last curriculum wasn’t perfect either.

I wanted to post some things that I have loved about using this curriculum. For our family, and for our current situation, it is a perfect fit.

1. I love that it allows the student to learn himself/herself. They read the directions, they do the work. Mom kicks back and sips lemonade….wait a minute. I wish! Mom does laundry, makes menus/grocery lists, folds laundry, sweeps, changes baby, feeds baby, teaches kindergartener to read and count, makes snacks, makes lunch, cleans house…you get the idea. For the older ones to have the ability to work independently most of the time is HUGE for me. 🙂

2. It moves at a slower pace. In my early years of homeschooling, I frowned upon this feature of A.C.E. I felt that “The earlier the better!” However, when it comes to a child’s academic pace, I’m starting to believe the phrase, “Better late than early.” Many concepts cannot be fully grasped until the child’s brain is mature enough. We understand this easily when it comes to walking, or potty training. I’m not worried that my seven month old isn’t walking – he’s not ready yet! The same goes for higher math and English skills. The brain will be ready, well, when it’s ready! As long as these concepts are mastered before graduation, my child will do fine. After all, have you ever filled out a job application that asked, “Did you learn cursive in first grade?” or “Did you have your multiplication facts memorized by second grade?” Nope. They will get it. After all, I used A.C.E. most of my years and I turned out okay! Right? RIGHT? Never mind.

3. A specific character trait is stressed in each Pace (workbook). I like that not only do they learn a verse in every subject, but they also read about a specific character trait to practice in their lives. They learn about being thrifty, discreet, obedient, honest, etc.

4. Progress is clearly visible. We use the start charts, or progress charts, to keep track of our work. The kids love seeing the chart fill up with stars!

5. I really like the ABC’s of A.C.E., especially the songs because they remind me of my youth.(Heehee!) I used A Beka phonics with my older two kids, but decided to do A.C.E. phonics with my third. Let me say, it is SO much easier to teach them to read with the A.C.E. method. So. much. easier!

6. I REALLY love the Creative Writing/Literature Paces. They didn’t offer these, or we didn’t get them at my school, when I was growing up. They were an excellent addition to their material! They are thorough, fun and well-written paces. I love the book selections that go along with them. I plan on adding some additional writing for my seventh grader next year, because the Creative Writing/Literature only goes through 6th grade.

The best part is that my children can set their own goals, get started on the day and sometimes finish without needing much assistance from me. I grade all of my 3rd grader’s work, as well as my 6th grader’s checkups and self-tests (practice tests), to make sure they are getting it. We use Math-U-See for math, because I was having a hard time keeping up with their math work using A.C.E. (My kids struggle with math and I didn’t want the concepts to be rushed over or ignored.) If I weren’t so busy with younger ones, I could easily go over each new concept with my older ones using A.C.E. But, I’m busy. K? 😉

As I said, this is what has worked best for our family right now. That’s one thing that I love about  homeschooling in general – the ability to make it work, to tweak it, to get it right.


Salt and Seeds

I have been so pleased with the science experiments that A.C.E. has included in the 3rd and 6th grade science Paces (workbooks). Lauren has done several projects that I have not been able to share here. I was able to purchase some litmus paper for her to test various acids and bases. She has loved that! I have found her testing many different things, and even mixing things together to see what result she gets.

Another project was taking baking soda and placing it in a cup. Then, pour vinegar over it. While it bubbled up, strike a match over the cup. The match is extinguished because the mixture in the cup produces carbon. Without oxygen, a flame cannot burn! Isn’t that neat-O?! I thought so! I have really enjoyed helping the kids do these little projects.

This week, Lauren did an experiment to show how salt makes it easier for items to float in water.

First, you stir in three large spoonsful of salt into a glass of water until salt is dissolved.
Next, place an egg into the mixture. Observe – it floats!
Next, slowly pour in fresh water.
Tada! The egg is staying on top of the salt water, not on top of the fresh water! We see it’s easier for things to float in salt water rather than fresh water. We discussed the Dead Sea and how easy it would be to swim or float in it due to the massive amount of salt it has!
Mitchell’s PACE is all about plants and seeds. His project is to plant some bean seeds (we used kidney beans) in a clean plastic container. We were told to line the container in cotton, place the beans on the cotton, and then place more cotton over the beans.
Yes, our beans are under that little blanket of white. 🙂
Next, we placed it in a sunny window. He is supposed to check it each day and keep the cotton moist. We are going to see how long it takes the little beans to sprout. 🙂
I know you’re sitting on the edge of your seats waiting to see what happens next! Never fear, I’ll keep you posted!


Overcoming Weaknesses in A.C.E.

**Note: It has been brought to my attention that this post sounds as though I’m “blaming” A.C.E. for these weaknesses. I apologize. That is not at all how I intended this to sound. In this post, I am simply sharing my experience with A.C.E. Each curriculum has weaknesses. Since I am currently using A.C.E., I am writing about it. As a home schooling mom, I want to give my children the best possible education. Whatever curriculum I use, I want to enjoy the privilege of tweaking it to fit my family. Here are a few ways I have adjusted A.C.E. for us. I thought these suggestions might help someone else who is using A.C.E., but would like to add to it. That is all. Thank you for your understanding. 

The Management :]

I attended a Christian school which used A.C.E. for ten years of my education. I home schooled for the last three years using Abeka materials. When I made the transition from A.C.E. to Abeka, I found that I had several gaps in my education. I would like to address these gaps and the ways I’m striving to overcome them as I use A.C.E. with my own children.

Weakness #1: I did not have addition or subtraction facts memorized. I knew my times tables, but that was it.

Remedy: Have students use the Math Builder program on the A.C.E. Readmaster Plus software, or use some other method of practice, such as flash cards.

Weakness #2: I had not read a single book for literature, nor had I had learned any literary terms in my entire A.C.E. experience. I read the material in the PACE’s and I read books on my own, but no outside reading was assigned to me via the curriculum.

Remedy: Purchase the Creative Writing/ Literature PACE’s from A.C.E. (which were not available to me), or use another literature program.

Weakness #3: I was not a good note taker because A.C.E. is a program in which the student works independently – no note taking required!

Remedy: Have your child take notes in church, then ask them key questions from the sermon as a “test”. Enroll your child in a co-op class where they need to take notes and study from the notes.

Weakness #4: I had never written a research paper, and only a few book reports.

Remedy: Many good books are available online or in your library that explain how to write a research paper. Assign a topic and have your child complete a research paper each year beginning in fourth or fifth grade. Also, assign four-six book reports each year beginning in third grade. Two of these should be oral book reports.

Weakness #5: I had never memorized a poem.

Remedy: Assign a poem each month to memorize. This is fun for the whole family!! Also, be sure your child memorizes The Gettysburg Address, the preamble to the Constitution, etc.

No curriculum is perfect. Even a good curriculum that seems perfect might need to be adjusted to meet the specific needs of a child. These are just a few ways we are adjusting a good curriculum to make it even better for our family.

Happy home schooling!

Week in Review

We have completed three weeks of school! Yippee! We are using the A.C.E. program for 3rd and 6th grades this year. This curriculum choice has freed me up to care for our seven week old baby, teach Leslie K5 using the Abeka materials, and spend time with Laci, age 3. In the A.C.E. program, a student completes a workbook every three weeks and is tested on the material. To pass, they must make 90% or higher on the Self-Test (practice test), and 80% or higher on the  actual test. When you pass a test, you get to put a star on a chart.The kids completed their first Paces this week in each subject and passed with no problem. They were so excited to put up their first stars!
Leslie had a good week also. She has learned all of her vowel sounds, how to write them and how to write 1 and 2. She is loving the games and songs that we do. I think her favorite time is art time though! She told me that she would like to be an artist someday. Our home school support group is starting an art class (taught by someone who actually knows art!) at the end of the month! I know they all will really enjoy that, especially Leslie! :]
Here are some photos from our week:
We made little work-stations for the kids in our dining room. Looks like they are working hard, at the time this pic was taken, anyway! lol!

Leslie loves playing the learning games. 

Some of the work we did in K5 this week.

Laci does some “school” each day, too. 🙂
I just thought this wall was pretty with all the colors. :]

Lauren, checking her work.

Putting up their first stars of the year!!

Looking good. :]

Mitchell wanted to rock Matthew a few days ago, I couldn’t resist taking a pic!

He got him to sleep!!

This week, I trimmed about four inches off of Lauren’s hair. It was getting kinda…stringy.

My mom sent me flowers which I posted about HERE. Every time I walked into our dining room, I immediately felt better! I couldn’t resist taking a pictures so I would always have the memory. 

I loved the way they looked on my table. See the reflection? 
Hope you had a great week!