View into First Tour Essentials – Week 3

I made quite a few changes this week and I feel like we are starting to get into the swing of things. I was excited to add diagramming into the mix this week and I look forward to expanding on this skill over the year. Before I jump into our day by day activities for the week I wanted to share two things about this week.

Student Essentials Notebook

In a previous post I shared how I organized all my Essentials materials for the year. For the most part it has worked excellent for us this year. However, we were quickly accumulating a whole lot of papers from IEW. So I made an adjustment to the notebook he uses in class. Here is a quick video I put together this morning to show you what I did:

Fun Extras

This week I made some supplementary purchases I am really excited about. First I ordered

My second purchase was more foundations related, but my lego obsessed Essentials son is loving it. This book has tons of history sentences from this cycle. Not only does it give the kids lots of great building inspiration but it also provides historical stories to go along with each set. I am loving this book! Amazon offers several purchasing options, you can see them if you click on the image of the book.

While writing his narrative this week, my son told me he really wanted to make his story into a book. I had flashbacks to all the books I made when I was in grade school and really wanted to be able to do this for him. I also ordered a set of blank books for us to use this year for him to write and illustrate some of his writings this year.

It should arrive early this coming week and I plan to use these books to record his polished drafts and allow him to illustrate them if he chooses. 

Our Week 3

Day 1 – Community Day

We had another great day in class. It is great to see us get a rhythm down for my son to start to retain just a little bit of information from past weeks. He really liked the diagramming and I am noticing that he is starting to understand basic concepts like subject and verbs. The last 45 minutes of class still remain the most difficult. I feel like he zones out. That last bit of class is spent on IEW, so I find that I end up reviewing a lot of that with him during the week. Our tutor played a really fun vocabulary review game this week, which really motivated him to practice his vocabulary words during the week.

Day 2 – More Chicken Lice

For this of you unfamiliar with chickens, they need to be treated every seven days until all the eggs are gone. So today I had a friend come over and help me treat them. The kids played and had a wonderful time, but did not really want to obey when it came to schoolwork or chores in the afternoon. As a result, our schooling time was spent on character and discipline. My son was told he was going to have to work harder the rest of the week since he chose to not work today.

Day 3 – Our First Narrative Story

We started out our time introducing the new vocabulary words for the week and then we dived into the EEL guide. I chose to start with sentence 3 today. We used the analytical task sheet in a page protector with my favorite dry erase markers for essentials. I had him write and complete steps 1-4 and then I planned to write step 5. However, he asked to write it. We did not do step 6, nor do I plan to anytime soon. I know it would overwhelm him.

When we pulled out IEW he groaned. We read the source text on Augustine for this week and I could tell he was not feeling it. At all. So I decided to use a simpler source text from the Blackline Master printable book that came with my IEW. Thankfully I made a mistake this summer and printed it and had it bound (I meant to have the SRN done). I was so glad I had it. We read “The Kings Feast” and made an outline for it.

Day 4 – Double Time

Today we started out going over our vocabulary words again and then we diagrammed the sentence from class “Jesus wept” together. Then we dove right into writing out our story from our outline. My son really enjoyed this. He is incredibly logical and practical. I tried to get him to make the story funny, and he absolutely would not entertain that idea. He dictated the story to me and I wrote everything down. I was really glad that I chose to use a different source text for this activity. The Augustine source text would have been much less fun for him this week. We ended here for the morning after going over our vocabulary again.

In the evening, due to his behavior earlier in the week instead of his free time in his room before bed we sat down again. First we used the practice page on page 52 in his IEW book to practice with strong verbs. He struggles with vocabulary so he needed a lot of help from me here. We then went through his paper and added -ly adverbs, strong verbs, and vocabulary to the writing. He really loves adding the vocabulary words but still needs lots of help thinking of creative verbs and adverbs as well as understanding what the list of words mean in his SRN. After he had added all our dress ups I sent him to bed and rewrote the paper for him for us to continue to work with tomorrow.

Day 5 – The Final Draft

Today we sat down and read he “Mohammed” source text on page 54 and used the brainstorming page afterwards to review all the elements of style. Then we took the draft I had written last night and we marked all the different dress ups and added a few things to finalize the paper. I then gave him the responsibility of writing the final draft of his paper before class on Monday. I did tell him we would be turning this paper into his tutor this week. I felt like he was getting a little too casual with his work this week and some accountability this week would be helpful. His draft is sitting on his bed now open and he will work on it several times over the weekend I am sure.

I can’t wait for our blank books to get here this week to surprise him with a way to publish his story!

Final Musings

I spent some time this week on CC connected downloading songs for all the english grammar from Foudnations and making a playlist. This week we have been playing the Pronoun songs all week long. In the car, at home, while we eat. My husband is even memorizing them. Ha! Ha! This has been such a help. If you have a child in foundations I can express enough how important it is to memorize the memory work with them! If your child is struggling with some of the definitions go grab some songs off CC connected. Nogreaterjoy is always the username I check first. Having the Foundations English memory work down makes memorizing the charts so much easier!

How was your week? Please share in the comments!

My First Tour Essentials Vision

Week 1 Review

Week 2 Review

Must have markers for chart copying

View into First Tour Essentials – Week 2

Ever had one of those weeks when nothing seems to go right? That was the week in our house this week. A little earlier in the year than normal, but it happened nonetheless. As a homeschool mom, I can choose to let this week define me as a failure or I can choose to realize this is just one week out of many and know that better weeks will follow. In my early years of schooling I would have chosen the first option for sure. Thankfully, albeit one day of pouting, I managed to plow through and redeem the week to the best of my ability. This was the verse that the Holy Spirit kept impressing on my heart over and over this week:

Matthew 11:28-30English Standard Version (ESV)

28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

This is a verse worth writing down and hanging up somewhere where you can see it. It’s one of my favorites that speaks to me in my weakest moments.

Day 1 – Community Day

We had another great week but my son struggles to stay engaged during class. It’s a lot of information for him. New information. I can see how easy it is to feel overwhelmed. This week he did tell me he got a little bored at the end of class. I told him how proud I was of him for staying with something that was tough and that we would continue to learn together. He did push me out of the way during boardslam this week, which I found hilarious. Math is not my strong suit.

Day 2 – Chicken Lice

Yes you read that correctly. Today was a disaster. We woke up to treat what we thought was a minor bug problem and discovered it was actually a massive (yay vocab word) problem. So we spent all of the day cleaning, treating, and caring for our flock of over 20 birds. Whew. By the time the week was over we had lost two of our birds. It was a sad few days for the kids. I did not want to get behind though, so after I got all the littles in bed I sat down with my oldest and we plowed through the day’s assignments.

First we reviewed chart C. I made a copy of chart C on colored paper and cut out all the pieces (an excellent idea from our awesome tutor). I laid the empty chart next to the blank chart and had him place the pieces in the correct spot. As he did that I had him read each piece.


Then we went over our new vocabulary for the week by simply reading the word and the definition.

Lastly we dove into IEW and the who-which clause. We read and discussed the teaching on page 23 and completed the practice on page 24 together. Then we read the selection from Beowulf on page 32 and did the brainstorming activities on page 34. We did this last part a little at a time. First we did the clauses, then we went back and added adverbs, and then we finished with vocabulary words. I did all the writing tonight. I knew he was tired.

Day 3 – Doctor’s Appointment

We live 45 minutes from town and one of my other son’s had a doctor’s appointment. Add in a teething toddler wanting mommy 24/7 and nothing got accomplished today before we had to leave the appointment aside from basic math and reading. We did listen to our Essentials play list on the way to the doctor. That counts for something, right?

Day 4 – Broken Refrigerator AND Washing Machine

This week just keeps getting better doesn’t it? This picture sums up my day nicely.

Needless to say, nothing was accomplished today. I may or may not have had an emotional breakdown. My amazing husband did fix the washing machine so we only had to buy one appliance today. That’s good news right?

Day 5 – KWO to Composition

Today we finally had some time to sit down and work on our KWO from class this week. We went back and read the source text again and then he dictated sentences for me to write into his paper. This was much easier for him this week than it was last week. We also practiced chart C again and we discussed some of what each piece meant. Lastly, we went over our vocabulary words.

Day 6 – Who – Which Clause and -ly Adverb Review

“But it’s Saturday!!!!” That is what I got this morning when I told him to get out his Essentials work. He was not excited about doing schoolwork on Saturday. However, after the week we had I felt if we didn’t do a little more work he would be behind. I remember as a parent when I found out I would be buying the IEW book for Essentials and not using the whole thing I was a little annoyed. However, I have used the sections we didn’t go over in class so much the past week. I am so thankful for the extra lessons in there. Today we started by reading the source text on the Anglo-Saxons and then we used the practice on page 28 to go over who-which clauses and adverbs. This was a challenge for him and I could tell he was done at the end of this page. We quickly reviewed vocabulary and called it a week

Rough Week Disappointments

I could make a list of all the things we did not get accomplished this week. We didn’t dress up our composition this week at all. We didn’t do more than one draft. I could have sat at the table with him for an hour this morning and pushed him through it all. The me five years ago would have done just that. I didn’t though. Why? Not only is this all new to him, but he also struggles in this area of learning. We are only on week 2 and I don’t want to put a bad taste in his mouth for Essentials before the real work even begins. There will be plenty of papers to write and plenty of papers to dress up. This week we wrote a paper, even if we didn’t get it to it’s final stage. We fully reviewed and went over the new chart and the new dress ups. We also reviewed all the vocabulary. I told him today that I knew this week was a rough one for our family, but I was happy with how much we did get accomplished. The control freak, finish everything mom inside me was screaming, but the mom that has prayerfully committed to not push him too much this year on his first tour was pleased.


How was your week? Please share in the comments!

My First Tour Essentials Vision

Week 1 Review

Must have markers for chart copying

View into First Tour Essentials – Week 1

Essentials is notoriously know for being overwhelming and stressful to mom and students alike. I was fortunate as a director to get lots of training over the summer for this stage of learning. I shared some of my thoughts on how I plan to simplify this year with intentions of encouraging other parents. I have decided to write about what this practically looks like in our house each week with a view into our first tour of Essentials. I would LOVE to hear how you are managing at home as well as any other tips you may have. Please do share in the comments!

My Student

My Noah is his daddy’s son for sure. Not only do they look just alike, but I swear they have the same brain. Anything logical comes so easy to him. Math, building, and directions are so easy. I think he could teach me. Reading and writing? Not so much. At 9 years old I would say he barely has a 3rd grade reading level. Aside from being in Foundations for three years he has had absolutely no additional preparation for Essentials. He struggles in the language areas and as much as I hate to admit it, my training as a school teacher made it worse. I was so stressed that he wasn’t reading at age 5 that I think I gave him a negative view of language as a whole. I am slowly trying to repair that view and pray daily that Essentials awakens a love for language within in. My goal this year is to make this year as fun as possible and to not push him too hard. I want to partner with him and learn together!

Day 1 – Community Day

My son was so excited to get to go to Essentials this year. His best friend is a year older than him and he was so excited to be in class with him. He seemed very lost the entire class. Almost bored. His eyes kept glazing over. I sat next to him the entire time and would gently point out where we were and what we were talking about. The IEW outlining portion was very hard for him to keep up. When class was over I was nervous about what he would think about it all. So I asked: “So Bud, what did you think of your first Essentials class?” to which he replied “It was so awesome! I love it!” Mom was a little perplexed at his response, but hopefully this will continue to be a trend.

Day 2 – First Day at Home

First we went over the outline because I didn’t feel like we finished it well in class. The last few sentences I wrote down quickly for him because he was struggling to keep up. I wanted to make sure he understood why I chose the words I did. Then we went back together and tried to remember what all our symbols meant and why we chose the words we did. I later found out I should have reread the written selection we were outlining first. I’ll remember that for upcoming weeks. We did go back and read the selection together after we finished the outline. Then we moved on to the EEL portion. First he wanted to go and practice correcting the sentences. He felt really lost in this area at the beginning of class this week. He is rather competitive so I think he wanted to be able to participate next week. I had planned to do just one sentence but he wanted to more so we did three and I told him we needed to move on. Then I had him copy the bold faced portions of Chart A on the blank chart with dry erase. Finally we used this awesome board my friend made him to go over chart A again.

We also sang some songs from the Foundations level to review the definitions of verb, subject, and other keys words. Overall we spent about 25 minutes. It would have been less if he hadn’t wanted to do extra work.

Day 3 – First Paper

We sat down and went over our vocabulary cards quickly. Then we read through the source text one more time. Then it was time to write our very first paper. He wanted to write the title and his name. Then I took over the writing and wrote each sentence exactly as he said it to me. Afterwards I asked him to find a place in his paper to use a vocabulary word. He chose three words! Next we worked on memorizing chart A. He copied the chart with dry erase and then we moved on to the awesome board we have and did that with the songs and chants I have off of CC connected. Today we spent about 25 minutes as well.

As an aside, I have found the the fine point dry erase markers are still a little too thick for chart copying (you can see this in the picture above). However, the ultra fine tip markers are amazing! They just came out last year I believe. I have a pack on it’s way from Amazon right now. I am looking forward to having them for next week. This is what they look like:

And they are so much cheaper on Amazon than they are in the store, which is always a win.

Day 4 – First Day with Decorations

Day 4 was the first day this week that Noah asked if we could stop. We started out editing a few more sentences and practicing the vocabulary then we dived into lesson 2 in the IEW book. He had a hard time understanding exactly how the -ly adverbs worked, so I did most of the work and he slowly caught on, but did not enjoy today’s lesson at all. He does not like doing things he is not great at, so he was eager to move on. We practiced reading the story on page 17 with different adverbs I chose and changing our voices. He thought that was fun. I also realized we should have waited to write our paper until after today’s lesson but I figured out a way to go back and make it work.

Day 5 – Dressing Up the Paper

Today we started with editing and vocabulary and then went back to work with -ly adverbs. I learned today how true it is that you simply cannot help your child too much in this stage. The school teacher in me would have been aghast at all the “work” I did yesterday and thought “he is never going to learn if I do it all for him”. Today that was proven completely false. We picked up adverbs again today and he understood them so much better. He was not stressed out or overwhelmed by them. He wasn’t afraid to ask questions and he was willing to learn more. We were both encouraged. After we did the brainstorming exercise on page 19 we went back to the paper he wrote and found a spot to insert an adverb into his paper. Then he wanted to put in a few more. His paper is turning out so beautiful! Finally we worked on and chose a more appropriate title using the last sentence in the paragraph. He told me he wanted to rewrite the paper for his final draft in cursive, but not today. We ended the lesson there after we practiced with our velcro chart A one last time.

Final Thoughts

Thankfully, we have the Labor Day week to work on re-writing the draft since our community will not meet this week. However, if we didn’t I think I would be perfectly okay with just leaving the paper in draft form. He did an excellent job pushing through and I was surprised at how much he could accomplish. Our first week of Essentials was wonderful and I pray we can keep the positive momentum going throughout the year. I want to continue to remind myself that I can not help my child too much and be amazed at how his grows this year!