Jessica's Journey: The Early Years

Our Thankful Tree

With Thanksgiving on the way, I made a thankful tree for our family. I’d really like to help create a more thankful heart in my children. It took me about 15 minutes to make the tree out of brown card stock paper. I just free handed it. I also searched for a leaf outline on Google and printed it out on colored card stock.

Each day, my two older children will tell me something they are thankful for. We will write it on a leaf and then they each tape their thankful leaves onto our tree. They really seem to enjoy it. My hope is to spend more time talking to my children and help them to be mindful of all the things they have have to be thankful for.

When I asked my 3 year old boy to tell me what he was thankful for on our first day, he said he was thankful for our thankful tree. He made me smile.

Our tree after Day 1

More Thanksgiving Fun:

Choosing a Phonics Curriculum

Reading Eggs vs. All About Reading

In trying to decide on a phonics curriculum for my children, I’ve looked at many phonics programs and narrowed it down to two: Reading Eggs and All About Reading. To make my final decision, I’m looking at the pros and cons of each program. So, let’s have a look…

Reading Eggs

Teach Your Child to Read OnlineWe’ve used Reading Eggs for a year, although not consistently. It is a very fun program. Children are introduced to one letter and sound each lesson. They are also introduced to some sight words, such as I, at, am, etc. At the end of ten lessons, there is a quiz to see how they’re progressing. There is also a world where the children can play. There is no outside interaction in the world, which is a plus for me. Children can buy clothes for an egg creature that they design. They are also able to buy games to play. They earn money by playing lessons and are encouraged to repeat lessons. The money is easily earned, so the children are encouraged to earn things. If they find something they want, it’s fairly easy to earn the money for it. They even have lessons for older children that already know how to read.

In addition to the online program, Reading Eggs also gives the option of buying flash cards, activity books and beginning readers that match the readers in the program so your child can have the book in their hand.


  • If the program gets too challenging, I can help her through it, but it won’t be me fighting her, it’ll be the program.
  • If I purchase a subscription for my 3 year old, he can also play it and begin to learn a few letters.
  • This is something we could continue to use for many more years.
  • My children love playing on the computer, so it might as well be educational.
  • She will want to work on this even when we are not doing school.
  • There’s no prep work, you just sit at the computer and get to it.


  • She’s able to complete lessons without fully learning the letters. There is not a ton of repetition, if you just go lesson by lesson. This can be fixed by me sitting down with her during lessons and by using the flash cards more often
  • Most of the early readers are not books they can read, but more like Alphabet books: A book – apple, alligator, etc
  • It is subscription based, so you’ll have to pay monthly or yearly for subscription

All About Reading

Unfortunately, we haven’t used All About Reading yet, so I can only tell you what I’ve found out through their website and samples. This program consists of a teachers manual, student activity book, 3 readers, letter flash cards, word flash cards, and letter tiles. It is a hands-on curriculum.

Each lesson consists of 5 parts:

  1. Before you begin – This takes a few minutes and it includes learning the letter sounds, getting everything out, etc
  2. Review – You review with flash cards, the letters that the child hasn’t mastered yet
  3. New Teaching – the child will learn new letters using flash cards, use the tiles to read words and make new words, do activity sheets which sometimes include cutting & gluing, read fluency sheets or read from their readers
  4. Read aloud time – You are asked to read aloud to your child for 20 minutes everyday
  5. Track your progress on your chart


  • Lessons are hands-on, which is good for the hands-on learners
  • Lessons start with review, there’s lots of repetition
  • We can use this program with each of my children, with no yearly subscription fee
  • The readers look like they’ll be interesting and hold the interest of the child
  • Setup is fairly quick and lessons are straight forward
  • There’s a lot of flexibility with the letter tiles, you can make and read any words you want


  • I’m the one teaching the lessons, so if she struggles, I’ll be the one fighting her.
  • A little prep work is required.
  • Lessons will take a little longer than Reading Eggs lessons.

My Conclusion

I’m going to go with All About Reading Level 1, although it was very close. I’m pretty sure either curriculum would teach my daughter to read. The reason I’m going with All About Reading is because Alissa needs the repetition. I also think the hands-on learning will be helpful for her.

Things I Learned at CHEA

I attended the CHEA Convention this past weekend in Pasadena, California. Here are a few things I learned:

  1. CHEA stands for Christian Home Educators Association.
  2. Conventions are helpful, even if they seem silly. 🙂
  3. Some workshops are life-changing and some are life-wasting, choose wisely.
  4. The Exhibit Hall is my favorite part of the convention.
  5. Heidi St. John is really cool. 🙂 She is down to earth and practical. If you have a chance to hear her speak, take advantage of it.
  6. The best nugget I found in the exhibit hall was a Spanish Curriculum that has a program geared towards preschoolers. We’ll be using it this year for my 3 year old and 5 year old.
  7. Last but not least!! When attending a homeschool convention, if you can turn it into a girls day, do it!! You won’t regret it 🙂

Attending the CHEA Convention has kick-started my school planning. Next I will be showing you the two reading programs I’m trying to choose between. I’m also trying to decide between using workboxes or just a schedule. I’m looking into The Well-Planned Day to schedule our lessons, but I’m trying to decide between the print copy and the software. Lots and lots of decisions in the month of July!! I hope you’re enjoying your summer.

Did you attend CHEA or another homeschool convention? What is something you learned?

Homeschooling Kindergarten

I’ve been thinking a lot about the curriculum that I will be using this year and spending lots of time researching different books and programs. I’ve decided not to go with a prepackaged Kindergarten program, because I don’t want to feel the pressure of doing and completing everything in a set program. If I were to pick a prepackaged Kindergarten program, I would probably pick My Father’s World because it is reasonably priced, Biblically based, and has simple, straightforward instructions.

These are the books that I’ve decided on:

Math – Math K5 Student Worktext 3rd edition

The reason I chose this book, is because it’s colorful and goes at a great pace. It introduces children to shapes, same & different, numbers, counting, addition, time, calendars, money, measurements and more. Each lesson is one page, front and back.



Reading – Reading Eggs and Bob Books

I’ll be using for our reading. This is a great computer program that teaches all the basics of reading. My daughter loves it!! (I’ll talk more about that in my next post.) I’ll also be using the Bob Books. These books are not the most interesting or colorful books, but they’ve given my daughter quick success. I’ve had trouble finding any other books that are able to get her reading so quickly and easily. Within 3 days, she’s been able to read the first book with minimal help.


Handwriting – Zaner-Bloser Handwriting K

I chose this book, because it has clear instructions on how to write letters properly. I know how to write, but when I’m teaching I want to be sure to teach proper techniques. This book seems to make those techniques clear. It is also a very colorful, fun looking book.



Literature/Art – What Your Preschooler Needs to Know

This book is one of my favorite books. It has poems, stories, songs, art, history, and science. It contains a lot of classical stories that every child should know, like The Little Red Hen or The Gingerbread Man. We started this book last year and it quickly became a favorite in our household. Everyone gets excited to read these stories. It also has pictures to go with all the stories. When we finish this book, we’ll probably go on to the kindergarten book.


Vocabulary – Wordly Wise 3000, Book K

I’m really interested in this program. It seems like a great way to expand little children’s vocabulary. You read stories aloud and teach them words like muddy, soil, dew, stare, fluffy, etc. This is something I can use for both my preschooler and my kindergartner.



Phonics – Spectrum Early Years Series

My children love workbooks. They love to write and circle things. So I like to include a few books from the Spectrum Early Years series. I really like these books because the are cheap and they cover many subjects. I’m going to choose Phonics Readiness for my 5 year old. And Basic Concepts for my 3 year old. The phonics book covers letter sounds and recognition. The Basic Concepts book covers beginning writing, shapes, colors, and other early learning concepts.

Homeschool Convention

Those are my choices for next year, so far. I plan on going to the homeschool convention in July, so some of these choices might change. This will be my first convention and I’ll probably be totally overwhelmed, but it will be a good overwhelmed.

~ Jessica Jacobs

NOTE from Beverly: The above links go to if the books are available there or directly to the publisher if they’re not. The following books are also available at

Welcome to my Homeschool Journey

Welcome to my new blog on! I’m super excited to start writing about our journey through homeschooling.

I’ll begin with our journey to our new house in Arcadia. We moved in 6 weeks ago and are just about settled in. We went from a two bedroom upstairs condo, to a 3 bedroom house with a yard. With this new beginning, I’ve decided to give myself a fresh start in all areas, especially in how I take care of household responsibilities. I’m hoping to have everything running smoothly by the time the school year starts. I want to be able to start off my first year of homeschooling with a calm, peacefully run home. Of course, it can only be so calm with 3 children, age five and under.

An introduction: Meet my three children

Alissa – Age 5

Alissa lives up to the oldest child name. She is in charge and proud of it. She’s a mini mom to her siblings, she takes good care of them and is always willing to lend me a hand in my many endeavors. But she also has many of her own ideas and is often thinking of things to create, parties to throw or places to go.

Anthony – Age 3

Anthony was born on April Fool’s Day, and he lives up to that name. He’s the funny guy, always trying to make everyone laugh. He loves to run, play, & climb. But, he can also be found coloring, painting, or doing puzzles. He can stay focused on things for a long time, even longer than his older sister.

Rebecca Joy – Age 1

Rebecca is my delicate girl. She was the smallest as a baby, because she came a little early. From the moment I held her I’ve felt as though I needed to protect her and cherish her as long as I have her. She’s always been more quiet, but able to stare down anyone she doesn’t like. She’s become more vocal now and with that, more stubborn. She will not back down. She sees no reason to say please, if she’s already gotten her point across. She’s a delight to the whole family.

A Fresh Start: Settling in and making changes

I’ve also been taking the time to settle in. I’ve made it a point to decorate, spend time outside with the kids and also do some gardening. I want to take full advantage of all the time that I have in this house. We don’t know how long we’ll be in this house, but I’d like to enjoy all the moments I can. I want it to feel like home for my little ones.

One of the ways that I’m improving my care of the household is by reading and applying the Large Family Logistics Book. This book has been a lifesaver. The first half of the book talks about the attitudes and character needed to run a household. The second half of the book gives very practical advice on how to manage a household. It’s been teaching me many things about how to run a household smoothly by creating routines, systems, and dividing up tasks by days.

I’ve found after reading this book that my heart is more focused on my family and in finding joy in my responsibilities, instead of dragging my feet and trying to fight them. My children are enjoying all the changes too, they are becoming more helpful and more content. I would recommend Large Family Logistics to anyone that needs help learning how to run a household, even to those that don’t have a large family.

The Kids in the Swimming Pool

The Garden







Our Family Room Pictures

The Girl’s Room