Green Bird Books
Jan 262015
My Favorite Posts of 2014 -

I feel like Middle Way Mom is starting to come out of infancy, and 2014 was a pretty big year here. There were some dull moments on the blog as my life had some personal excitements with our new home and found out about our surprise pregnancy (just this weekend, our little girl was born, mashaAllah!). Still, through the ups and downs of this year, there are some posts that meant a lot to me, and may or may not have been featured in my Top Posts of 2014 (ranked by traffic). In sha Allah you find them beneficial as well, and share them with your family and friends!

My Favorite Posts of 2014 -

1. Super Homeschool Mom Fallacies

So far I’ve shared two of the fallacies I hear all the time about homeschool moms, and our homeschool lives. I really look forward to sharing more about how we’re not all super homeschool moms, and why that’s okay! This life isn’t meant to be perfect anyway, right?

2. Parenting Teenagers

As with all families, we have had our share of ups and downs in regards to my relationship with my teenage daughter. Alhamdulilah, I feel like we’re in a pretty good place now, where we have a mutual respect, and we generally enjoy each other’s company. In sha Allah my thoughts and ideas about parenting teenagers is beneficial, so I’ve put them all together as one post. These are close to my heart, and why they rank high on my personal favorite posts of 2014.

3. Everyday Essential Oils for Busy Moms

We use essential oils often in our home! Whether it’s for coughs and colds, mood management, or cleaning, we are reaching for one oil or another on a weekly basis. I love how I can use them alongside other natural remedies to keep our family as healthy as possible, and I love sharing my experience with them in hopes you’ll find them useful as well!

4. Homeschool Advice to My Younger Self

I wish I could give my younger self a lot of advice, especially the early 20’s! Oh, the wisdom I would impart. I loved this idea through iHomeschool Network to share what we would tell ourselves if we could go back to the beginning of our homeschooling journey. There is a lot of wisdom to gain from this iHomeschool Network link-up!

Join the other iHomeschool Network bloggers to dive into their personal favorite posts from 2014!

iHN Link Up - My Favorite Posts from '14

Jan 222015
Jolly Phonics curriculum is a little known gem! Affordable and fun!

When Kira was little, I was determined to make sure she would learn to read before she started Kindergarten, and at that time, preschools/day cares did not attempt any type of instruction. Without knowing there was a wealth of resources available, I found a couple sets of books and went from there. It was tough. There was more frustration than I care to remember, all because I was trying to make one program work, regardless of how effective it proved to be.

Jolly Phonics curriculum is a little known gem! Affordable and fun!

This time around, I’m much more aware of learning styles, and I’m more willing to adjust a curriculum to match what my child responds to best. With that said, I’ve tried a few things with Aamina to see what she seems to respond to.

What we’ve tried

My First Steps to Reading: This is the set that I used with Kira when she was little, and I still think it’s a great supplement. For me, it was hard to take the step back from the full words and teach the letter sounds using these books, but I think they are still great to use in a letter of the week curriculum, or something similar. I tried again to use it with Aamina, hoping maybe it would come easier for me, but it’s still in the category of a great supplement.

Bob Books: I like how the Bob books are setup, and how they introduce enough letter sounds to make words, then you practice using them. I found that Aamina very quickly memorized the books, though, defeating the purpose of practicing using the Bob Books. We do have the very beginner set, also, that introduces letters and shapes, but there didn’t seem to be enough repetition to really make anything sink in.

The Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading: I picked this up a few years ago when it was just a few dollars at a used curriculum sale, while I was still a Well Trained Mind fangirl (I still love The Well Trained Mind, but Aamina doesn’t seem to be a budding WTM student thus far). When the other two options fell flat, and I remembered I already had this book, I was super excited! Then we tried it the next day, and Aamina just said, “I don’t want to do this.” After only two minutes. Even if we wait until she’s older, I think the discussion style of the curriculum isn’t something Aamina really wants.

Lapbooks: I do enjoy lapbooks, quite a bit. Still, I want to introduce letters in an order that she can start using them for reading early on. I don’t feel it’s necessary to learn all the letter sounds before learning the joy of using them. There are lots of resources, but these are the alphabet lapbooks we use.

Jolly Phonics

Okay, so you see where we’ve been (and maybe you’ve tried some of these, too), but here’s why I love where we’re going with Jolly Phonics.

Scroll to the bottom to watch the YouTube video where I highlight each of these also!

Activity books

I love workbooks, and fortunately, Kira loved workbooks, too. Aamina does not love workbooks, at least not for very long. If she’s in a good mood, she’ll do a couple pages, but in general she’s not keen on following instructions to fill in a page, and she especially is not keen on repeating one thing over and over (practicing writing the letter A 20 times, for example). The Jolly Phonics activity books are easy to just pull off the shelf and start, and they are varied enough on each page to keep Aamina’s attention.

Many small elements

Each activity book includes a small storyline that continues throughout the book, coloring pages, matching, very short periods of practicing writing each letter, plus suggested activities and a relatively generous amount of sticker pages. Really, the sticker pages are what keeps Aamina interested in moving forward, and even the sticker pages are educational.

Actions for each sound

Aamina doesn’t just want to sit and listen to me talk about letter sounds. She’s not a “repeat after me” type of kid. She loves the actions that go with each sound, and it keeps her interested in her phonics work. She loves moving her body when she practices her sounds!

Letter sounds vs. letter recognition

Jolly Phonics actually suggests teaching the sounds of the letters before the letter names. Now, Aamina already knew all the letter names before we started, but I like that it takes out the work of equating a letter shape to a letter name to a letter sound. That’s a lot of information for a preschooler to digest! You can always learn the letter names at a later time, and many say kids will naturally pick it up. Still, for the purpose of loving the alphabet because it allows you to read, learning letter sounds first seems logical.

Jolly Phonics Supplements

The activity books are the core of the curriculum, and you could definitely just use them as your complete phonics curriculum. To spice things up, or to help solidify concepts, they also have a DVD, Games CD, Songs CD, story book, letter sound poster, and my favorite, the Read and See books where the child tries to read a word, then you can fold out the page to see the corresponding picture and find if they are correct. Beyond the Read and See books, they also have early reader books available.

Things to know about Jolly Phonics

Jolly Phonics is used quite a bit in schools in the UK and other parts of the world, so there are numerous classroom resources. For instance the workbooks are intended more for a classroom than at home, and the activity books are vice versa. I always take a look at the My Jolly Phonics set, which is marketed to home users, for what products would fit with our homeschool.

Also, since they are based in the UK, make sure DVDs are suited for US DVD players. I’m unsure if there’s a difference in CD encoding or not. My assumption when you buy from Amazon is they are suited for the US, but just be mindful of that. You likely do not want to order a DVD from their UK based site without asking ahead of time.

Overall, I’m really impressed with the low entry cost of Jolly Phonics, and how you can add supplements at your pleasure, without feeling like you’re completely missing out. I’m surprised this isn’t more widely used in the homeschool market!

I have not been compensated for this post, so believe me – check out the Jolly Phonics Curriculum!

Jan 192015
Looking for some new Pinterest boards to follow in for your homeschool? From preschool to high school, I have some favorites for you!

Pinterest is loved by women around the world. Whether we are trying to find home decor ideas, DIY projects, lapbooks for our kids, or holiday ideas, Pinterest is the perfect place to find ideas that will bring us to new and interesting websites and blogs. I love finding new blogs through Pinterest! Now, along with the other fabulous iHomeschool Network bloggers, we are sharing our best and brightest Pinterest boards. Here are my top 5, and make sure to check out everyone else’s following the link at the bottom!

Looking for some new Pinterest boards to follow in for your homeschool? From preschool to high school, I have some favorites for you!

General Homeschooling

This board has a little of everything from encouragement, tips, ideas, organization, and lesson plans. It’s for all ages, both students and parents, and is my biggest board. There’s always lots of fun stuff getting pinned there, so make sure not to miss out!

Follow Middle Way Mom’s board Homeschool: A bit of everything on Pinterest.

Homeschooling Preschool

I absolutely love homeschooling the preschool years, and all the fun ideas people share on Pinterest for activities! I collect everything on this board, and refer to it when we are looking for ideas for our homeschool group, and when I want ideas to use at home. This is my second biggest board, and is also updated very often, so there’s always something new!

Follow Middle Way Mom’s board Homeschool: Preschool on Pinterest.

Islam for Kids

There are lots of resources for adults to learn about their deen (religion/way of life), but the Muslim community is just now really growing enough to offer high quality resources for kids. Since I’m always trying to find activities, and especially engaging story books, for my little ones, I collect all that information in this board. There are tons of ideas and resources to be found in this board, plus I’m looking for contributors! If you love to pin resources for Muslim kids, just contact me and I’ll get you set up.

Follow Middle Way Mom’s board Islam: For kids on Pinterest.


I’m always looking for encouraging posts and ideas on how to make the most of these formative years with my kids. I also like to read posts that help me remember how valuable my job is as a stay at home mom, because sometimes I forget. I love this board. It gives me warm, fuzzy feelings when I go to it, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. I don’t always post things that I 100% agree with, but I find it valuable to really think about my parenting choices, considering many sides.

Follow Middle Way Mom’s board Parenting on Pinterest.

Homeschooling high school

High school is the final stretch in the homeschooling game, and dreaded for many reasons. Those of us that are homeschooling high school are always looking for budget-friendly options, and online classes are a BIG plus. I compile the fun, funky, useful, and budget friendly resources on this board, plus any posts I find from other bloggers.

Follow Middle Way Mom’s board Homeschool: High School on Pinterest.

Love Pinterest and looking for even more boards to follow for your parenting and homeschooling needs? iHomeschool Network bloggers are sharing all their favorites! Check them out with iHN’s Pintastic Pinterest Boards


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