Series: Preparing to Homeschool Ninth Grade (Post #3) Using a 4-Year Planner for High School

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Preparing to Teach Ninth Grade- 4 Year Planner


I’m excited today to share about another great idea for helping your child (and you!) start homeschooling 9th grade.  It’s to use 4-year planner for high school.  Why is this helpful?

  • It will keep the student organized
  • He will know what assignments are due and when
  • Even if due dates are easy now, they get more complicated in college, so he gets used to keeping track of them now
  • It provides a place to write down other important information like books read, volunteer hours worked, test scores, field trips, clubs, accomplishments, etc.
  • Grades and attendance are listed

And most important:

  • All the information is in one place when it’s time to put it all on the High School Transcript!

(By the way, continue to follow this series since I will be explaining about how to write a high school transcript next!)

I have found two great planners to recommend, and have done thorough reviews on both.  See the review on the HEDUA Well-Planned Day 4-Year High School Planner here.

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And see the review on My Student Logbook here.

My Student Logbook Review

Both have different features I like.  The 4-year planner is awesome because all four years’ worth of work are listed in one place.  It also has lots of articles to guide you through the high school years. The downside is that it’s bigger and heavier.



My Student Logbook is much thinner and simpler–and less expensive.  There are lots of different pages to list any kind of information you’ll want to keep track of (attendance, books read, test scores, project, awards, presentations, etc.)  You can get it as a physical product or a digital download.

My Student Logbook Review

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Look into both of them and see which would work best for you and your student.

We decided to go with the Well-Planned Day 4-Year Planner for High School with my first student.  It’s dated and I bought it a year late, so I got it on clearance.  :)  We realized that several of my son’s classes this year in 8th grade are high school level, so he’ll most likely be able to graduate early.  This week we started looking through it.  We wrote in the information for what he has done this year–his accomplishments, books read, and volunteer activities.  I love that it gives us “assignments” to do each year–such as looking into colleges to see what their requirements are for SAT or ACT, finding a summer job or internship, and finding a PSAT course to study so you can take it in October of your sophomore year.

**There is a sale on next year’s Well-Planned Day Planners through the end of March!

Using a planner for high school is going to be a great help for my son and me.  I’m feeling much more prepared for high school now!

Posts in this Series:

Post #1: The How-To Book 

Post #2: Choosing the Coursework

Post #3: Using a 4-Year High School Planner

Post #4: Writing a Transcript

Post #5: Great Curriculum Choices

(Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.)

Series: Preparing to Homeschool 9th Grade (post #1)- The How-To Book

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Preparing to Homeschool 9th Grade- The How-To Book

Welcome to Post #1 in my “Preparing to Homeschool 9th Grade” series.  Today I’ll be discussing the book

How to Homeschool 9th and 10th Grades: Simple Steps for Starting Strong by Lee Binz.

I attended my first homeschooling conference when my oldest son was 17 months old and have been a “homeschool mom” ever since. I can’t believe he will be in high school next year!  I have learned about homeschooling throughout the years almost as much as I’ve taught my kids.  So, I was surprised when all of a sudden I started having anxiety about homeschooling for high school a couple of weeks ago.

Then, the above book popped in my inbox and I immediately downloaded it.  Aww, I feel so much better now!  Download it yourself today, while it’s still on sale!  (You don’t need a Kindle to read a Kindle book.  Just read it on your computer or download an app to read it on other devices.)

Here are some of the things you’ll learn in this ebook by Lee Binz:

  • Setting Priorites
  • Planning High School Courses (basics)
  • Beyond the Basic High School Courses
  • Electives
  • Create Great Homeschool Records
  • Take Important Tests
  • Expect and Accept Gradual Maturity
  • Technology Boundaries
  • College Financing
  • Career Exploration and Activities
  • Looking Ahead to Sophomore Year
  • Big Ideas for Success

Her website The HomeScholar has a ton of helpful information, including a free webinar called “A Homeschool Parent’s Guide to High School Grades, Credits and Transcripts.”  Check it out!

Join me in future weeks as I share more that I’ll be doing to prepare for homeschooling my first child in high school.

Posts in this Series:

Post #1: The How-To Book 

Post #2: Choosing the Coursework

Post #3: Using a 4-Year High School Planner

Post #4: Writing a Transcript

Post #5: Great Curriculum Choices


(Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.)




Tapestry of Grace “Roaring Twenties” Celebration

Roaring Twenties Celebration 2

I’ve mentioned how happy I am with our new homeschool co-op this year! We are using the curriculum Tapestry of Grace and studying 20th Century literature, history, and geography with our friends.  (I also teach music appreciation/music history).

Twice this year we will have a Unit Celebration where we all get together in the evening to celebrate an era of history we’ve studied.  Our first one was a “Roaring Twenties” party!  The kids had so much fun dressing up in 1920’s garb.

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When we first got there we were directed as families to the photography area.  We were blessed to have my husband’s parents join us.

Twenties Photo With R & T

Twenties Photo

Photo rights:  Kenneth Smith Photography 847-845-5549

Next we went into the sanctuary for a showing of the first ever “talking picture” The Jazz Singer.  We had a little speech from a couple of our co-op’s leaders and a presentation from some of the kids.

We were then directed into a room where lots of projects from the year were displayed.  And then finally into the room where were to eat!

On the menu were some popular foods from the 1920s: turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, deviled eggs, and even a fun Flapper cake!


I planned the musical portion of the evening (during dinner).  We had several students play or sing popular songs from the 1920s:  “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” “Side By Side,” “Second-Hand Rose,” “In the Mood.”  I even sang a couple of Gershwin tunes!

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When I had my back turned, she got into the cake frosting.

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I made my Twenties dress.  (I’ll share a tutorial in a future post.)

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After dinner came the costume contest and dancing–The Charleston!

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Everything about the evening was a smash–the food, the entertainment, and especially the costumes!

Learn about Chicago, Illinois!



Here are a few links for you to use as you study the state we live in:  Illinois–with a special emphasis on Chicago!

Learn about Chicago, Illinois!

Famous Landmarks:

Willis Tower (Sears Tower)

Cloud Gate/ The Bean

Places to Visit:

Navy Pier

Millenium Park

Chicago Art Institute

Shedd Aquarium

Field Museum of Natural History

Adler Planetarium

Lincoln Park Zoo

Museum of Science and Industry


How to make a Chicago Hot Dog

How to make a Chicago Deep Dish Pizza

Study Chicago History:

Here is a great website for kids ages 6-12: My Chicago where you can learn about the Chicago fire, Chicago River, skyline, flag, artifacts, Ferris wheel, World’s Fair, etc.  There are games and other activities, including printables.

Download a Free Printable that I made About Chicago, Illinois here.  (You may copy and paste it, or right-click and save it.)

Chicago Illinois Printable

Check out some other great “Learning Through the 50 States” posts at

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Weekly Wrap-up: Baptism, Birthdays, and Astronomy

Weekly Wrap-up?  Ok, to be honest, it has been so long that I’ve done one of these posts that it’s really going to cover the last 2 months!

Hope you enjoy!

On August 30 my 4th child was baptized by her father in a nearby lake.  I’m so proud of her for making the decision to follow Jesus and identify with him in baptism!

R Baptism 4

R Baptism 6R Baptism 5

Is this little girl cute or what!  She has now decided she doesn’t need an afternoon nap anymore.  I’m not ready for that!

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Three brothers:


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Worship in the Park:

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Our family supporting her baptism day:

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My kids with a young lady who was heading off to college:

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We’ve been studying astronomy with the elementary kids.  Here are my meager attempts at photos of the recent lunar eclipse:



And a few other projects we’ve done for astronomy.  Balloons representing the sun and planets:

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Solar eclipse.  We were shining a flashlight toward the earth with the moon in between.

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A salt dough model of Mercury which has been hit with many asteroids (it doesn’t have an atmosphere):

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Dropping “asteroids” onto the surface of a “planet”:

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In September and October we have several celebrations.  My husband and I have been married 16 years!



This pretty one is six:

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This sweet boy is 8:

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And here is our new 11-year-old:

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Check out my 2-year-old singing “Happy Birthday.”  She’s getting pretty good at it!

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And, last but not least, Dad!  (With the biggest cake fail ever.):

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My two oldest sons presented speeches for their Young Speakers Guild assignments (part of the Institute for Cultural Communicators).  Here is “The History of Musical Theater.”

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And a recitation of  “The Remarkable Farkle McBride” by John Lithgow:

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I love this baseball painting that my daughter made at our Tapestry of Grace Fellowship Group (co-op).  It has a quote by Babe Ruth:

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Here is my loving 4-year-old:

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And this is what I’m looking like these days:

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I’m having a ball teaching the toddlers music at Tapestry:

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My oldest daughter has made some dresses for her doll:

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And we’re taking advantage of the great weather to play in the park each week while my oldest takes his saxophone lesson:

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My second son has started a few projects:  taking Nerf guns apart, repainting them, and changing them:



Next week is the Showcase for the theater classes my kids started back in August.  My two oldest girls have LOVED their theater makup class!


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And a brand new hairstyle for the girls!

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Please leave me a comment letting me know your favorite part of our “Weekly” Wrap-up!


(Linked to Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers, Hip Homeschool Moms, My Week in Review at Home to 4 Kiddos, Fellowship Friday, Whole-Hearted Home


Free 20th Century Music Appreciation Lesson: Sousa and Joplin

20th Century Music Appreciation free

Today I’d like to share something that I’ve been working on this year.  My kids are now involved in a Tapestry of Grace Fellowship Group where they are studying 20th Century History and Literature.  I teach a 20th Century Music Appreciation class each week.  I use the following lesson plan format for all ages Kindergarten through 12th grade, with the elementary kids in one class and upper grades in another.  I teach more detail for the upper grades and add a coloring sheet (usually of an instrument that’s being featured) to the lower grades.  Another thing I do is have a blank form for the older kids to fill out while I’m teaching them, as well as a form for them to fill out while they are listening to the music.  I’ll be compiling all the lessons into an e-book to share at the end of the year.  But, until then I’ll be sharing some of the lessons with you!

Enjoy this lesson about Marches with John Philip Sousa and Ragtime with Scott Joplin!

(You can download the PDF versions of the Sousa and Joplin Music Appreciation Lesson, the 20th Century Music History Notebooking Page, and the 20th Century Music Listening Printable.)

John Philip Sousa/ Marches and Scott Joplin/ Ragtime, plus Stride Piano:
John Philip Sousa (1854-1932) led the U.S. Marine Band from 1880-1892. Then he formed his own band and toured the United States and Europe for the next 40 years. He wrote some operettas, waltzes, and 136 marches. A march is a form usually played by a band (such as marching band) that is typically in 2/4 time. Hear two of his most popular marches “Stars and Stripes Forever”

“The Washington Post”

In the 1890’s the march form helped lead to the ragtime piano style. Marches emphasize beat one; whereas rags syncopate the beat and emphasize beat two. The most popular years for ragtime was from 1900-1925, and the most popular composer was Scott Joplin.
Scott Joplin (1868-1917) started piano lessons as a boy but probably didn’t go to school until he was a teenager. He went to college at age 28 and published 50 compositions. He wrote some marches and then started writing ragtime piano music. When he published the “Maple Leaf Rag” in 1899, it became the first piece of sheet music to sell over 1 million copies.

Joplin said ragtime music shouldn’t be played fast. Here’s “The Pineapple Rag”


“The Entertainer”

Composers such as George Gershwin and Irving Berlin (who wrote “Alexander’s Ragtime Band”) were influenced by ragtime music.

A style that grew out of ragtime was called “stride piano.” It’s more improvisational than ragtime. The right hand still plays the melody, but the left hand has more leaps. Pianists would play popular songs of the day in the stride style. James P. Johnson (1891-1955) is known as the “Father of Stride.” A famous piece of the era was “Carolina Shout”

“Fats” Waller (1904-1943) was another popular stride performer and composer. He wrote the stride piano piece “Handful of Keys.”

An entire musical was written about Fats Waller using his music; it’s called Ain’t Misbehavin’, and here is “Handful of Keys” sung

© Gena Mayo

Post linked to Inspire Me Mondays, Mom 2 Mom Monday, A Mama’s Story, Monday’s Musings, Living and Learning at Home Trivium Tuesdays, Hip Homeschool Hop, Laugh Learn Linkup

Artist and Composer Round-up

Review of “Preschoolers and Peace: Homeschooling Older Kids With Success While Loving the Little Ones at your Feet”

Preschoolers and Peace Review
Today I am happily reviewing Preschoolers and Peace: Homeschooling older kids with success while loving the little ones at your feet .  It’s an e-book in PDF format written by Kendra Fletcher from Preschoolers and Peace . This helpful resource is for any mom who is homeschooling an older child with a preschooler (or baby or toddler) and only costs $2.99! It’s an easy-to-read e-book and is 47 pages long.  It has a few pictures sprinkled throughout.

When I first started blogging 8 1/2 years ago one of the first bloggers I started connecting with was Kendra Fletcher.  I was drawn by the name of her blog: Preschoolers and Peace.  At the time I had 4 children ages 5 and under, with another baby soon to be born.  I knew we wanted to homeschool them, but I didn’t know how in the world I would actually be able to do it!  I looked to people like Kendra who were a few years ahead of me on the road and had some wisdom (actually, lots of wisdom!) to share.  Kendra ended up with 8 kids, just like me!  Her oldest 2 are now high school graduates and the youngest is 5.  My oldest is 13 and youngest is 2, so, I’m still looking her for wisdom!  And I have to tell you one more thing before I review the book.  I got to meet Kendra in person this year at the 2:1 Conference (a blogging conference for homeschooling moms).  She came all the way from California to Chicago.  It was a blessing to finally meet her and to hear her speak.  :)   And, she’s just as wonderful in person as online!

Here are the chapters that you will find included:

What a Homeschooling Mom Needs

Preparing Yourself to Homeschool Older Kids With Little Ones Underfoot

Planning Around Preschoolers

How Do I Keep Them Busy?

What Does a 2-Year-Old’s Day Look Like?

How Do I Get Any Preschooling Done?

How Not to Just Kill Time Circle Time: Or How We Pull the Little Ones In

Preschool Boys

When All of Your Kiddos Are Preschoolers

Preschool Chores

Planning for Preschool

When Mama is Worn Out (or Pregnant)

Meal Planning 101

What you’ll find in the Preschoolers and Peace book is some practical advice and heartfelt encouragement.  I loved reading about her struggles and how she had to change things along the way.  One of the best chapters was about different activities to do with (or give to) toddlers to keep them occupied when you need to concentrate your teaching on the older kids.  I’ve used a lot of those ideas, but she listed some I had never thought of!  I also loved how there are so many links to online articles to give additional information to the topic being discussed.  The e-book is short, but it would be way longer if she included all the linked-to articles in it!

In one chapter Kendra references Circle Time.  I learned about this years ago from Preschoolers and Peace and have done it in various ways ever since.  Basically, it’s simply getting all your kids together to teach them something as a group.  This year we do it as soon as I get my 2-year-old down for a nap.  It includes my 5 middle kids and we do memorization, Bible reading and study, science and history reading, and literature read-alouds.

I really can’t think of anything I didn’t like about the book.  It’s short and full of great information about homeschooling multiple ages from someone who knows what she’s talking about.  It’s well worth the money!

Preschoolers and Peace Review
Be sure to connect Preschoolers and Peace on Social Media!

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Review “UberSmart Math Facts” software

UberSmart Math Facts Review


Are you looking for a great way for your kids to learn or practice their math facts?  Today I’m happy to review UberSmart Software, which has created the product we used called

UberSmart Math Facts.  

Math facts are so important for kids to learn.  They can’t easily go on to the next concept in math if they are still trying to remember them.  If you aren’t sure what I mean by “math facts,” it’s knowing their basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division problems by heart.  They should know the answers to 6+7 or 9 x 3 without having to think at all.

How do they accomplish that?  They could use paper flash cards or a computer game.  They can take written tests or have someone quiz them orally.  Or they could use  UberSmart Math Facts.   

UberSmart Math Facts is actually not a fancy computer game.  It’s a simple no-nonsense and straight-forward way for learning and practicing math facts.

It’s specifically geared for grades K-6, but any age that needs math facts reinforcement can utilize it. 

This is a DOWNLOADABLE SOFTWARE for mastering math facts. It can be used by eight or more students and will enable your student to practice the following:

*Dot Cards (like adding domino faces)
*Keyboard Entry (Ten-Key Numbers)
*Flash Cards (add, subtract, multiplication, division)

*The Addition/Subtraction goes up through the 9s
*Multiplication/Division has the option to set it to go up to 9’s – 20’s. 

SYSTEM SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS: This is for Windows 7, 8, XP and Vista only.  There isn’t a Mac version.

Take a look as some of these screen shots to get a better idea of what you’ll find in UberSmart Math Facts.

Here is a test.  You see the previous (just completed) problem first, then there is the one the student is supposed to answer by typing, and third is the next problem.  This particular test is testing the “12’s.”  You can choose which numbers need work, just like you can choose which operation (addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division) needs work.


UberSmart Math Facts Review
This screen shot is giving the child the opportunity to practice typing numbers fast and correctly.  They can’t “master” without typing the answers accurately and quickly.

UberSmart Math Facts Review
The next screenshot shows a Practice screen.  When kids are just learning a new fact, they can use this screen which first shows the flash card without the answer.  They can try to answer it out loud, and then hit “enter” to see what the answer is.

UberSmart Math Facts Review
This next screen is fun and reminds me of dominoes! This might be great for younger kids.  (The ones I had using it were 6 and 7 years old.) 
UberSmart Math Facts Review
Overall, we really liked UberSmart Math Facts, and I’m so glad we have it now!  I have all 8 of my kids listed in it so I can keep track of their progress and know which facts still need to be worked on.  We had trouble at first getting the software to work, but the developer was extremely helpful and worked on it for a few weeks to get it updated.  It now works great!
The cost is $24.95 for a Family License. With this license you can run Math Facts on all the computers in your home! You also get free upgrades and support.

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Our 2014-15 Homeschool Schedule and a BIG $500 Giveaway!

Homeschool Schedule 2014-15


Our 2014-15 Homeschool Schedule is going to be a work in progress, but I knew I needed to have something to help guide me as we get started and see what works.

The kids will be 8th grade (B), 7th grade (J), 6th grade (M), 3rd grade (R), 2nd grade (T), 1st grade (L), preschool (4 years-I), and toddler (2 years-E).  It will definitely be our most complicated year yet!

My oldest son wants to audition for all 3 Spotlight Youth Theater shows this year.  That requires a class each week, plus rehearsals Friday nights and Saturday afternoons.  The others will pick and choose which shows they want to do, but will probably do the classes all year.  We’ll be in the Institute for Cultural Communicators public speaking class twice a month.  The 3 oldest kids will be in band at Westlake Christian Academy (2 different bands, plus lessons).  Five kids will take violin lessons, four or five will take piano lessons, 1 in saxophone lessons, and 2 in drum lessons.  I really should start teaching them voice lessons, too.  Eeek!

I’m actually glad we are in the Tapestry of Grace Fellowship Group this year because it will push all of us to get the week’s assignments due even if we are tired from all the other activities we are doing.

So, here are my thoughts for the schedule:  (Wednesday mornings are the Tapestry group.)

6:00 I get up, devotions, get ready, and exercise.  My husband and band kids get up and get ready.

7:00 Husband and band kids leave.  He rest of the kids get up and eat breakfast.  Chores and start dinner.

8:00 Written work for everyone.  Help them as needed (math, handwriting, grammar, writing, geography, science notebooks).  (Pick up kids from band on Mondays and Wednesdays.)

9:00  All About Reading lesson with R.  (Pick up kids from band on Tuesdays and Thursdays.)

9:30 Reading and phonics lessons with T, L, and I

10:00 Bible lesson for kids preschool through 6th grade (Finish “Jonah” Sword Study from, then Who is God? from Apologia and Grapevine Studies of Old Testament) and Science reading (Apologia Exploring Creation With Astronomy). On Fridays we’ll do the Science experiments/projects.

11:00 All About Spelling lesson with R.

11:30 Lunch and chores

12:00 Free time

1:00 Toddler to bed

1:15-2:15 Read-Alouds of history and literature (Tapestry of Grace books.)

2:15 Science lesson with 3 middle school kids.  Help kids with math and check older kids’ work.

3:30 music lessons and practice; work on housework, office work, school planning, and blogging; Speech class on Thursdays, Drama class on Tuesdays, Spotlight rehearsals on Fridays.

5:30 Dinner and chores

8:00 Kids get ready for bed.  Husband read to older boys.  I read to younger kids.

9:00 Lights out for kids

10:00 Lights out for husband and me

Busy times!!!


If you homeschool, enter this giveaway!
I’ve teamed up with 29 other homeschool bloggers to bless a homeschooler with $500! The giveaway ends August 24th at 11:59pm EDT. You must have a Paypal account in order to win.

We can’t wait to bless a fellow homeschooler at the end of the week!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Here are the other bloggers who have joined to provide this giveaway! Visit and thank them!

(Disclosure: I joined in with a group of other homeschoolers to provide this giveaway. We aren’t eligible to win.)

Skrafty Safe Homeschool Minecraft Server–review of classes and a giveaway!


SKrafty Classes


If your kids are like mine, they are Minecraft fanatics!  We only have one Minecraft account, which means that only one kid can play at a time.  We also have some very specific rules that are posted right by the Minecraft computer: only after all schoolwork and chores are done, only 20 minutes a day on weekdays and 30 minutes on weekends, they only get to watch one other kid play, and if they forget to set the timer they lose their turn the next day, etc.

When I heard about a safe Minecraft server and that they offer homeschool classes, I was very intrigued!  The company is called Skrafty Homeschool Minecraft, and their website is

It’s back to school time, and for homeschool families – that means gathering curriculum, planning and finding new ways to inspire kids in their studies. SKrafty Homeschool Minecraft is the perfect way to add the fun and inspiration you need.

This fall, the class line up is spectacular! If you need homeschool math, science, bible, history, language arts or more . . . you are in for a treat. Using some of your favorite homeschool curriculum companies (including Apologia Science, Mystery of History, and A+ Interactive Math) you’ll learn to incorporate Minecraft projects into your family homeschool.

See all the new classes SKrafty has to offer HERE

Find out more about the fully monitored SKrafty Minecraft server where it is safe for your family and children – and get whitelisted for FREE right HERE.

SKrafty is specially designed and the rules are constructed to encourage good sportsmanship – with no griefing allowed, no bad language or ugly talk, and no sharing of outside links to protect your children. See a full list of rules HERE.

What other parents are saying about SKrafty Homeschool Minecraft:

“Since starting Skrafty my son has blossomed. His typing has gotten a lot better. School work is not a chore any more I just give him the list of what needs to be done and he does it. He finds the lessons entertaining and engaging and he loves the activities that go along with them. We are all very grateful for Skrafty.” ~ Cheryl J.

“My son enjoys playing on Skrafty with other kids and I love that it is a safe, moderated Minecraft server! While playing on Skrafty he has learned creative building, developed critical thinking skills, made friends, and learned to be a team player. The classes have been fun and the reading program has encouraged him to read more than ever. Skrafty has been such a blessing to our family!” ~Julie B.

Special needs learning:

“Skrafty has been a huge blessing to our family! My son with dyslexia is not only learning but enjoying learning!!!! His reading and writing have developed more with Skrafty than any other program we have used. The classes are engaging because they are so hands on and truly turn learning into an adventure. I so highly recommend Skrafty!” ~ Caroline D.


What we learned:

My 2 oldest daughters have been working through the Virtual France Field Trip class.  There are 2 parts to each of the 4 weeks of lessons.  They read about some aspects of France and watch some short videos or look at photographs. Then they go on the Skrafty Minecraft server into the Virtual France Field Trip class portal and have some fun.  There they can explore some things that have already been built, like the Eiffel Tower and other places around France, and they get to build things as well.  Since they are joining other kids, they have to find an unclaimed spot and claim it in order to build.  It took some time, but they usually they found a spot. (This was the only complaint I have. The kids sometimes really have to search and search to find a free plot.) My kids had to share (split the plots in sections) since they are sharing one account.  But there was still enough space to build their French restaurants and other creations.

Some of the kids also spent some time doing some other things that the Skrafty Minecraft server offers, like building and exploring in Creative Mode.

Skrafty offers some pretty neat classes.  We love using Apologia science and Mystery of History books, and Skrafty offers classes in both!  I think we’re going to get the Apologia Astronomy self-paced class for the fall since that is the book we’ll be using with my 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders.  My 3 oldest kids (in 6th, 7th, and 8th grades) will be doing Apologia General Science, so I might get that one, too, if I think they’ll have time for it.

Overall, we were happy with the Minecraft class that we took.  There were a few things we didn’t understand how to do, but I just asked questions at the Skrafty Facebook group and received pretty prompt answers.  The kids sometimes thought some things weren’t as fun as other Minecraft servers, but I know my youngest daughter preferred Skrafty when she had her free time.  My kids don’t do chatting anyway, but if they did I would feel comfortable here with the Skrafty server.  I was happy that after they built things, such as their French restaurants, others weren’t able to mess it up. They could go through it and explore it, but not break anything on it.  I also liked the things they learned on the class website–what they read about France and the videos they watched.  The one about the battle of Normandy was especially interesting.

Here are some pictures of things they built:

A Merry-Go-Round.  We saw on a video that they had one at the beach at Normandy.

Piano and Skrafty Minecraft 005 Piano and Skrafty Minecraft 008 Piano and Skrafty Minecraft 009

Various French Restaurants:

Piano and Skrafty Minecraft 010

The Kitchen:

Piano and Skrafty Minecraft 013

Fried Apple-Sauce Cafe:

Piano and Skrafty Minecraft 014

A Music Room in the Restaurant:

Piano and Skrafty Minecraft 016 Piano and Skrafty Minecraft 019



Extremely affordable classes (between $6.99 – $32.00) make it easy to add creativity and excitement into your education at home. Sign up HERE for live classes or self-paced classes and begin your journey into the world of homeschool Minecraft with SKrafty.

If you decide to try a SKrafty class, let me know how it goes! I’d love to hear about the other classes they offer to see if we should try them!

(Disclosure: I received a free Skrafty class in order to write this honest review. As a thank you, I will receive another class for this fall.  This post also contains affiliate links.)

Intro to Our Brand New Curriculum: Tapestry of Grace (+ Giveaway!)


We are doing something new this year:  Tapestry of Grace!

I’m really excited about it because it completely fits in with my style of teaching: some Charlotte Mason (reading living books) and Classical Education (learning all humanities through the guidance of the the history we’re studying).  We’re doing Year 4, which means we will all be studying 20th Century history, literature, music, and art.  The kids will also have writing assignments for history and literature “class.”

Our family will be partcipating in a brand-new Tapestry of Grace Fellowship group that will be meeting on Wednesday mornings for 3 hours.  Thirty-five families are involved! My oldest two boys will be in the Dialectic group, which means they will have assignments to read and complete each week so that they will be able to participate in the discussions.  Here are the books they will be reading this year:  The Call of the Wild, Tales of O. Henry, Anne of Green Gables, Poetry for Young People: Robert Frost, Peter Pan, Our Town, The Snow Goose, Homeless Bird, The Little Prince, My Side of the Mountain, Onion John, Poetry for Young People: Langston Hughes, The Lilies of the Field, Have Space Suit – Will Travel, Tasting the Sky: A Palestinian Childhood, Raising Dragons, and The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.


My oldest daughter will be in the Upper Grammar class.  The next 3 kids are in Lower Grammar.  The Grammar classes will be doing all kinds of neat projects and activities that will enrich our read-alouds at home.  I’ll share what they are after we do them!

My youngest son will be in the preschool class, and my 2-year-old in the nursery.

I will be teaching 4 music classes at our Tapestry of Grace Fellowship Group: 20th Century Music History/Appreciation for Dialectic/Rhetoric classes (middle school and high school), 20th Century Music History/Appreciation for the Grammar (elementary) classes, Early Childhood Music and Movement for the preschool class, and Early Childhood Music and Movement for the nursery class.  I’ve been working hard this summer to come up with the music history/appreciation curriculum. I’ve actually been writing it since I haven’t been able to find exactly what I was wanting to teach.  It’s going to be so exciting to share this music with the kids.  They won’t all like it, but I do hope they will learn to appreciate classical music more!

For the preschoolers and baby/toddlers I’ll be teaching music and movement classes that I have taught for 15 years.  I love teaching those classes!

I’m glad we don’t start until the end of the month because I still have so much planning and writing to do.  I’ve been slowly ordering the books we need.  At least we’re set for the first couple of weeks.  It’s going to be an exciting year!


Read some other homeschooling posts at these blogs this week:

Back to Homeschool Blog Hop
Marcy @ Ben and Me
Lisa @ Farm Fresh Adventures
Jenn @ Treasuring Life’s Blessings
Michele @ Family, Faith and Fridays
Dusty @ To the Moon and Back
Michelle @ Delightful Learning 
Jacquelin @ A Stable Beginning
Rebekah @ There Will Be a $5 Charge for Whining 

And don’t miss the Awesome, Incredible $1300 Homeschool Curriculum and Cash Giveaway!
Back to Homeschool Grand Prize Giveaway

Our Homeschool Verse of the Year & Ultimate Back to School Link Up Party

Phil 2 3-4

Here is our Homeschool Verse of the Year!  Philippians 2:3-4 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”  

I pray that the words of this Scripture will not only make a difference in my kids’ lives, but also my own.  Yes, I am a selfish person, too, and it’s hard for me to give of myself so much every day.  But I know I am doing the Lord’s will and He will be with me!

Do you have a verse of the year?  Please share in the comments!

And be sure to join the Ultimate Back to School Link Up Party!

Linked to Living and Learning at Home

Special sale just for Homeschool Moms–only $10

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Checkout the items in the Homeschooling & Homemaking Mom Bundle:



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Plan To Be Flexible: Designing A Homeschool Rhythm
and Curriculum Plan That Works for Your Family – Retail: $3.99


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How to Build a Strong Christian Home: One Step
at a Time – Retail: $4.99

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Purposeful Planning – Retail: $9.95

Does having your spouse’s undivided attention appeal to you? Planning weekends
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Charts and Tips for Stress Free Planning &
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One of the most challenging things for homeschooling mothers is organizing
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Heart and Soul Homeschool Mama…Becoming an Uncomplicated
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Dealing with a Difficult Child – Retail $2.99

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Managing Your Homeschool – Retail – $4.99

Homeschooling your children stretches the organizational skills of the all
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(Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.)

Giveaway “Encouragement for Homeschool Moms” collection by Diana Waring

You may remember that I recently reviewed a new curriculum item from Diana Waring called Experience History Through Music.  It was a pleasure getting to know her through the review process!  She has offered to do a special giveaway just for Homeschool Moms of her Homeschool Encouragement Set. 

Here are some details on it–and then enter to win it!

We invite you to experience our REINVIGORATING, REVITALIZING,REMINDING-yourself-why-you’re-DOING-this, Downloadable collection:

Encouragement for Homeschool Moms


Every mom needs that word of encouragement from someone who has been there, who has grownup children and can speak with assurance about the journey. Homeschool moms have an extra portion of the journey to navigate, and often wish for an extra voice that will offer direction but without nagging or prodding. Diana Waring has that voice.

The Encouragement for Homeschool Moms collection includes an e-book and four audios of Diana’s own brand of support for you.

  • Once Upon a Time E-book– Take a trip back to the days when Diana was living a life very similar to yours, running kids to lessons, managing the needs of three growing children and trying to “get the laundry off the table and get dinner on the table.”
  • Beyond Survival Workshop – With humor, humility and wisdom, Diana allows you to get a glimpse of her homeschool and candidly describes the good times and the bad.
  • Box-Free Living – In this workshop about overcoming perfectionism, so says one friend, or about letting love have a roomy spot in your home, the point is helping your children to relax, to love learning, and to keep in their hearts the values you are trying to instill in them — biblical parenting.
  • Roots – gives parents the assurance that pouring on unconditional love and responsiveness will allow their children to grow deep roots of confidence with certainty of support.
  • Wings – helps parents find a balance between wanting to continue holding on to the hands of little ones and wanting to grant independence to older ones.

This is a $25 value.  Enter on the Rafflecopter app below.  The winner will be chosen on 7/26 and will have 24 hours to respond to my email.

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

(Disclosure: I received a copy of the Encouragement for Homeschool Moms collection.)

The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle is on Sale!!! & {Link Party}

Get The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle--Hurry: Sale 6 Days Only!

By popular demand, 100+ homemaking bloggers are bringing back The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle, and it’s better than ever!

The Ultimate Homemaking Bundl is a complete library of great eBooks on homemaking—a truly valuable knowledge base you’ll use for many years to come.

Unlike a library, though, you don’t have to spend years building it up. The Ultimate Bundles team has done the hard work for you, searching the web to find the very best eBooks from top homemaking authors and combining them into one essential collection that you can buy in one simple purchase.

Act now to get the ultimate eBook collection on homemaking at a once-in-a-lifetime price.

Buy the PDF BundleBuy the Kindle Bundle

I’m confident you won’t find a more comprehensive set of homemaking resources anywhere — and certainly not at this price. Bought separately, they’d cost a total of $698 (not including $200+ in bonuses!). But you can have all of them for just $29.97!

Or, for just an extra $10, you not only get the full set of PDF files, but also a bonus set of Kindle editions, perfectly formatted for easy Kindle reading. This has been a popular request over the years and I’m excited to say it’s now available!

I believe it’s the best deal on homemaking eBooks anywhere on the web. But it will only be available for six days. So grab yours before it’s gone!

You get ALL THIS in The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle!

This huge wealth of information and guidance will be right there on your laptop, tablet, smartphone, or Kindle, whenever you need it.

Here’s what you need to know about the sale:

When? 8 a.m. EST Wednesday, April 23 until 11:59 p.m. EST Monday, April 28

What? 78 eBooks, 2 eCourses, 2 audio files, and 2 printable packs PLUS over $200 worth of bonus products you’ll really use!

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Get ALL of these eBooks for 1 LOW Price! One Week Only!

What’s in the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle? ($698 value!)






Faith {For Kids}

Financial Stewardship

Health & Wellness

Holidays & Special Events


Pregnancy & Babies


Working from Home & Blogging

What are the Ultimate Homemaking Bonus Offers? ($200+ value)


In addition to all the amazing eResources, this bundle includes the best bonus offers it’s ever had. These deals are worth over six times the price of the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle. So you’re up on the deal right away!

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Buy the PDF BundleBuy the Kindle Bundle

Remember, this bundle is available for 6 days only, from 8 a.m. (EST) on Wednesday, April 23 to 11:59 p.m. (EST) on Monday, April 28th.

Disclosure: I have included affiliate links in this post. Read the fine print about this bundle and read the answers to frequently asked questions about the bundle.


It’s time for our Link Party:

From House to Home!

Only 2 rules:

1. Link up family-friendly posts (exact post, not website) about making your house into a home: homemaking, parenting, homeschooling, marriage, loving God! Giveaways, too!

2. Link back to my site with the button below or a text link. Thanks! The code can be found at the top of the Link Party page. (If you don’t link back somewhere on your blog, your link might be deleted.)

I Choose Joy!

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Follow on Bloglovin

See the wonderful blogs I’ve linked up to here.

Day 2: Homeschooling Middle School With Well Planned Day Student Planner (& GIVEAWAY!)

Homeschooling Middle School final


Well Planned Day Student Planner Giveaway

Welcome to Day 2 of Homeschooling Middle School.  (There is a giveaway of the Well-Planned Day Student Planner–so read on!)  One thing that I’ve done that has been extremely successful is to begin transitioning my kids around 4th or 5th grade to be taking more responsibility in their own schooling.  I want them to begin making decisions about what they are learning (which foreign language?) and even to choose their own curriculum if we have a choice between 2 or 3 good ones.  I have found they are often more motivated when they feel they have had a “buy-in” to what they have to do for school.

Another great thing that we’ve done to build their independence in homeschooling is to use some type of student planner.  Sometimes I use a simple Word document chart that lists each subject they are to do each day.  Or we have also used these wonderful Student Planners from Well-Planned Day!  On Monday of each week my 3 oldest kids write down the page numbers, chapters, books to read, etc. that they are planning to do for the subject on each day of that week.  Then they check off each box when they complete it.

This method serves 3 purposes:

1.  They know what they are supposed to do

2.  I know what they are supposed to do and what I need to check

3.  It’s a record of all they have learned for the year


I know that my kids are learning some valuable skills by not having Mom make all the decisions about lesson planning for them.  They can choose to go faster through a subject if they want.  They can drop a subject for a while (with my approval) to pursue another subject.  For example, my oldest has been studying Philosophy for the past month and it includes a Bible Study that he has been doing instead of the one he was doing before.  Also, my second son is about to start studying a Home Business course.  This might take the place of some of his math for a while.

So, in conclusion, I recommend transitioning your Middle Schoolers to more independence.  Help them make their own decisions and use a planner so they can be responsible for their work!

The Well-Planned Day Student Planner comes in two styles: Floral and Tech.

Here are some of the features:

  • Help your children learn to work independently!
  • Designed specifically for students in elementary and middle school years.
  • Two design options and features full color pages
  • Spiral bound pages with perforated corner tabs for easy reference.
  • Over 175 pages
  • 9″x6″ size planner
  • July – June monthly and daily layouts
  • Monthly special projects and notes
  • Weekly Bible verse with corresponding catechism (Westminster Shorter)

The student planners also have an extensive reference section on English, Writing, Mathematics, US Geography, World Geography, States and Capitols, US Wars, US Presidents, Solar System, and Space . Perfect for any student attending school or homeschooling!

Easy Canvas & Well Planned Day Student Planner 014 Easy Canvas & Well Planned Day Student Planner 013 Easy Canvas & Well Planned Day Student Planner 012 Easy Canvas & Well Planned Day Student Planner 011

Click here to “Peek Inside” the Planner!


Please enter on the Rafflecopter below to win a 2014-15 Student Planner from Well-Planned Day!  Your choice of style.  U.S. only, please.  The winner will be chosen on April 16, 2014 and will have 24 hours to respond to my email.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

As a busy homeschool mom, you might want to check out the other planner from Well-Planned Day as well!

April Blog Hop

Other wonderful bloggers from the Schoolhouse Review Crew are participating in the Blog Hop this week, so be sure to head over to their blogs, too!

Anne Marie @ Future.Flying.Saucers ~ Christian Worldview 101
Marya @ Suncoast Momma ~ Homeschooling Special Needs
Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break ~ Ordinary Homeschooling
Lisa @ Farm Fresh Adventures ~ Our Favorite Family Recipes
Dawn @ Double O Farms ~  Helping Your Struggling Learner
Gena @ I Choose Joy! ~ Homeschooling Middle School
Christine @ Our Homeschool Reviews ~ Free and Frugal Homeschooling
Monique @ Living Life and Learning ~ Homeschooling with Lapbooks
DaLynn @ For the Display of His Splendor ~ Diagramming the Proverbs


(Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links.)

Day 1: Homeschooling Middle School with Grapevine Bible Studies (GIVEAWAY!)

>Homeschooling Middle School final

Depending on how you look at it I am now homeschooling either one or two kids in middle school:  6th and 7th grade.  I have just started this journey, but have learned a few things I’d like to share this week on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

Tuesday:  Grapevine Studies Bible Studies for middle schoolers–With a GIVEAWAY of a $25 Shopping Spree!

Wednesday:  Teaching middle schoolers independence by using planners such as those from Well-Planned Day– With a GIVEAWAY of a Student Planner!

Thursday:  Looking ahead to High School–planning now while they are in middle school — With a Special Offer of a Free Webinar!

For Day 1 of our Middle School series I’d love to share about the Bible Study my boys have been using this year from Grapevine Studies.

Specifically it’s the Level 4 New Testament Survey.  I wanted my boys to get an overview of the whole New Testament as they studied the Bible this year.  Each week they read a portion of Scripture, take notes on it by drawing Stick Figures and other graphics to help them illustrate what happened, answer review questions, and study deeper by using specific resources such as a Bible Dictionary (Vine’s), a Concordance, and a Topical Bible (Nave’s).  It’s been different from other Bible studies they have done in that they are doing a lot of the study on their own.  It’s more open-ended rather than being completely laid out for them.  I really like this aspect since it is stretching them more.  And I know they really enjoy the stick-figuring aspect!

Here are a copy of pages the boys did:  (Sorry they’re side-ways!)




Make sure you include studying the Bible as part of your Middle Schooler’s learning!

Be sure go to the Grapevine Studies website to look at their free samples.  They have Bible studies for all ages for use in all different settings!  You’ll find what you’re looking for!  (My elementary kids absolutely love the traceable Bible studies–we’re doing an Old Testament survey with them this year.)

Grapevine Studies has offered to giveaway a $25 Shopping Spree!  Please enter through the Rafflecopter app below!  Winner will be chosen on April 15 and will have 24 hours to respond to my email.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

April Blog Hop

Other wonderful bloggers from the Schoolhouse Review Crew are participating in the Blog Hop this week, so be sure to check them out!

Anne Marie @ Future.Flying.Saucers ~ Christian Worldview 101
Marya @ Suncoast Momma ~ Homeschooling Special Needs
Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break ~ Ordinary Homeschooling
Lisa @ Farm Fresh Adventures ~ Our Favorite Family Recipes
Dawn @ Double O Farms ~  Helping Your Struggling Learner
Gena @ I Choose Joy! ~ Homeschooling Middle School
Christine @ Our Homeschool Reviews ~ Free and Frugal Homeschooling
Monique @ Living Life and Learning ~ Homeschooling with Lapbooks
DaLynn @ For the Display of His Splendor ~ Diagramming the Proverbs


(Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links.)

Homeschooling With Toddlers: Tips and Resources


Homeschooling With Toddlers picture

On Monday night I have the wonderful opportunity to do a presentation of “Homeschooling With Toddlers” at a local library’s homeschool support group.  I am happy to share my notes here in the hope that it will help others and to give links to much more information than I was able to present there.

[By the way, for the next three days, I’ll be participating in a Blog Hop with the Schoolhouse Review Crew where I’ll be sharing information about Homeschooling Middle School!]

Homeschooling with toddlers is not easy!  It’s frustrating and tiring to continually have interruptions and chaos and noise while you’re trying to homeschool.  But, it’s a good life, and it can work and work well.  Here are some of my best ideas and resources that have helped me homeschool these last 13 years–and I’ve never homeschooled without toddlers!

Hebrews 12:1-3 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for usLet us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Nebraska,Colorado Vacation 195

Practical Tips:

1. Don’t overdo it (just a few outside activities).  It was years before I felt able to join a co-op.

2. Have a daily Quiet Time with the Lord before the children wake up (or while you’re nursing, or read the Bible aloud, etc.).  It helps with sanity.  :)  And I love the Unglued Devotional. 

3. Lower your expectations.  The house is going to be messy.  You probably won’t get to everything you’d like to each day.

4. Simplify house tasks (think once-write it down (Kym Wright), grocery shop only once a week, use or

5.  Consistent discipline system.  Start early.  Have appropriate rules and consequences.

6.  Don’t let toddlers get tired or hungry.  Have regular naptimes, bedtimes, and mealtimes.

See our life in action here:   A Day in Our Life 3/7/2008   A Day in Our Life 8/8/2006

Discipline Focus on your relationship first—not just “behavior modification” to get the child to do what you want. For disciplining children, look at products such as For Instruction in Righteousness, Brother Offended Chart, If-Then Chart, and Blessing Chart.

Teach them about God: I love using Leading Little Ones to God and The Jesus Storybook Bible, as well as the Bible.

Memorize Scripture with them:  With my Preschoolers we memorized a shortened verse from each book of the Old Testament.

Kinderbach, Precious Moments, Veggie Tales 030

Naptime Reading Routine: Use picture books to teach about animals, colors, letters, numbers, sounds, etc. Some of my favorites are Goodnight Moon (Margaret Wise Brown), Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear (ill. Michael Hague), Inside Outside Upside Down (Stan and Jan Berenstain), I Love You As Much. . .  (Laura Krauss Melmed), The Veggiecational Book (Phil Vischer), In the Ocean (Maurice Pledger), Good Night, Sweet Butterflies (Dawn Bentley), Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault), Blue Hat, Green Hat (Sandra Boynton), Dr. Seuss’s ABC Book (Dr. Seuss), My ABC of God Loves Me (Fiona Boon) More picture books I love. book list,
 Before Five in a Row booklist.

“Ten things to do before age 10”  from the Bluedorns– great guideline to follow when planning your homeschool year.

Best Toys to Have:  Trains, Zoobs, Dollhouse, Duplos, Kitchen, Gears, Dress-up.  Have these is separate boxes that you only take out during school time.

Table-time Activities: Play foam, puzzles, Wiki Sticks, Playdough

Hands-On Activities:  For Science (Janice VanCleave), Arts and Crafts (The Little Hands Art Book by Judy Press), Sensory Boxes, Cooking

Join a co-op group: To Make Preschool Activities in a Bag or Quiet Book pages Puzzle organizing tip: Label the backs of each piece and its corresponding box with a specific letter or number.

Nature Study: Nature Walks (park, forest preserve). Find different colors, shapes, textures, animals, etc.

Musical Environment

1.  Expose kids to a musical environment at an early age to help them be musical later on.

2.  Provide variety in rhythms, harmonies, instrumentation, and style.

3.  Provide your children with examples of beautiful, excellent, on-pitch singing which will help them sing beautifully and on pitch themselves one day!

4.  It’s important to help children increase readiness for audiation, the ability to hear the music and beat in one’s mind when there is no music being played.

5.  We want our young children to form as many neural pathways and connections as possible in their rapidly growing brains.  This is one reason why musical children typically do better at learning in many other areas of life.

Ways to “Teach” Music Sing, Listen to Classical Music, Dance, Play Simple Rhythm Instruments, and Play Singing Games

Sing Great Christian Songs: Amazing Grace, This Little Light of Mine, Victory in Jesus, Oh How He Loves You and Me, I’ll Fly Away, How Great Thou Art, Because He Lives, He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands, Just a Closer Walk With Thee, You Are My Hiding Place, This is My Father’s World, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, I Have Decided to Follow Jesus, Be Thou My Vision, Jesus Loves Me, God is So Good, How Great Thou Art, Oh, How I Love Jesus, Holy, Holy, Holy and Trust and Obey.

Getting out of the house Find educational FREE things to do: Check your library, Free museum dates (Shedd Aquarium, Museum of Science and Industry, Field Museum)

Chicagoland Field Trip Collage

Field Trips we’ve enjoyed: Kohl Children’s Museum, Botanic Gardens, Milwaukee Zoo, Lake County Discovery Museum, fire station, police station

Use Audio Teaching:  Adventure Bible Storybook on CD, Books on CD from the library, many older stories are free online (Beatrix Potter), podcasts, for music and composer stories

Videos for Toddlers: ABC Say it With Me Bible Memory Verses, Signing Time, Hermie and Friends, Leap Frog videos (Letter Factory), Friends and Heroes

No TV    Turn of the TV!  Only have it on in the late afternoon or evening.  Only 30 minutes a day of an educational video.  Movies only on weekend nights.

Toddler Ideas Websites:, Pinterest, (the article “Ten Things to do Before Age 10), 1+1+1=1, Homeschoolshare and Homeschoolhelperonline

Books Mom should read: For the Children’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer MacCauley,  A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola, A Pocketful of Pinecones by Karen Andreola, Homeschooling With a Meek and Quiet Spirit by Maxwell (also Managers of Their Homes and Managers of Their Chores)


Don’t Expect “Easy” Proverbs 31:27-28  She watches over the affairs of her houshold and does not eat the bread of idleness.  Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her. Colossians 3:23-24  Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.  It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

It Ends Too Soon Song for a Fifth Child poem (Babies Don’t Keep) by Ruth Hulbert Hamilton

Ways to Homeschool Older Kids When You Have Toddlers

1. Do “Circle Time” to keep the family together. (Idea from Kendra at  After you put the baby down for a morning nap or afternoon nap, get all the kids together for group teaching.

Ideas for Circle Time–choose some of these each day:

Bible reading Scripture memorization and other memorization

Read History (Mystery of History or Story of the World)

Read Science (Apologia Exploring Creation elementary series)

Sing/ hymn study Poetry reading (one poem/day)

Practice for our public speaking class (they memorize a speech, story, or poem to recite every 2 weeks)

Worldview (Who Am I? and others from Apologia)

Biography/ Novel

2. Unit Studies:  Pick a subject and work on it with the whole family for a whole month. Read library books; work on lapbooks/notebooks; science experiments; history projects; music and art projects.  Suggestions of topics: Art Appreciation, Oceans, Desert animals, Rainforest, Great Britain, Healthy Eating, Bees

3. Use less teacher-intensive curricula for some subjects: Math-U-See has the math taught on DVD. Teaching Textbooks has the math taught and lessons entered and checked on computer. Online Classes

4. Keep those Toddler Naptimes! Do the hardest work (most teacher-intensive) during naptime or teach the preschoolers to read or play quietly in their rooms.  Use audio learning.

5. Teach older kids to be independent as soon as they can: Write the next lessons on their assignment sheet or planner. Check their answers in the teacher book. Make decisions on which curriculum they’d like to use.

6. Utilize Charts/Assignment Sheets Use Homeschooling Assignment Sheets and Chore Charts.  Or a check-off list of what you did each day.

7. Have a Child-Safe Home Make your home as child-safe as possible so you don’t have to watch them every moment.  Try to have a playroom or basement that they can go play in while you work with older kids.  Have a fenced in backyard.

8. Save “Formal” Math for 3rd or 4th grade. In the earlier years, just let them learn math through real life—in the kitchen, cooking, games.  This idea is spoken in detail at

9. Hire Help someone to come over to help watch the little one(s) while you work with the older kids.  Junior High or High School girl.  Or pay a college student?  I did this for one year, and had a young lady come over from 9-12 every day to to help teach my preschoolers so I could focus those hours on my older children.

10. Utilize Audio Learning:  Books on CD (Little House on the Prairie and Chronicles of Narnia), Jonathan Park, Your Story Hour, Brinkman Adventures, Jim Hodges, Jim Weiss.   Many of these can be found in the library.


Pray Without Ceasing.  Pray for Wisdom.

Expect Interruptions from your toddlers.

Lower Your Expectations on things that don’t matter as much (perfectly clean or decorated house, gourmet meals)

Choose to be Grateful and Choose to be Joyful!


Press On

Philippians 3:13-15 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.


(This post may contain affiliate links and is linked up these wonderful blogs!) and

Homeschooling with Littles

Advice From One Homeschooling Mom of Many to Another: #4 & {Link Party}

Advice from One Homeschooling Mom of Many to Another
For the past month I’ve been posting some advice for a mom of seven who is struggling in her first year of homeschooling.  Three weeks ago I posted my response.  I also have 3 posts from 3 friends of mine: Post #2 can be found here.  Post #3 can be found here.  And today’s post is from a mom of 7!
One of the first things that comes to mind is that her struggles are perfectly normal. I am  sure that most of what she mentioned I have experienced. We have succeeded in some areas and failed in many others. I had an advantage in that I did not start homeschooling when they were teenagers, but much younger.
Anyway, I would suggest first of all to back off on her expectations. I get the feeling they are pretty high. It never works to compare your family to what you think other families are doing/accomplishing. No family is the same. It also seems that the character of the children is her main priority. So if she keeps that in mind, perhaps she needs to take a break from academics and just read the Bible aloud and have kids memorize scripture. Also, she seems to be loading many burdens on herself. At 14, the older girls are perfectly capable of self-teaching with the right curriculum. She does not have to be everything to everyone – they have many siblings they can rely on for part of it. One suggestion also would be to step back and just do some fun things for awhile. For example, read aloud to them and then have the children act out the reading with a skit they write. Go to the library and load up on books and just let everyone read good books. Listen to classic books on audio. Go outside and play. And make sure everyone goes to bed early enough to get a good night’s sleep.  And remember, the children are getting older, so what was a difficulty last year you do not even think about now or wonder why you thought it was such a difficulty.

It’s time for our Link Party:

From House to Home!

Only 2 rules:

1. Link up family-friendly posts (exact post, not website) about making your house into a home: homemaking, parenting, homeschooling, marriage, loving God! Giveaways, too!

2. Link back to my site with the button below or a text link. Thanks! The code can be found at the top of the Link Party page. (If you don’t link back somewhere on your blog, your link might be deleted.)

I Choose Joy!

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See the wonderful blogs I’ve linked up to here.

Advice From One Homeschooling Mom of Many to Another: #3 & {Link Party}

Advice from One Homeschooling Mom of Many to Another
Recently I had an email from a mom of seven who was struggling in her first year of homeschooling.  Two weeks agoI posted my response.  I also received some responses from 3 friends of mine, so they will be posted on the other Thursdays in March. Post #2 can be found here. And today we have post #3, from a fellow mom of 8!:

I am a friend of Gena Mayo from I Choose Joy. I am 43 years old will be married 20 years this year. We have eight children ages 17 down to 3. We’ve been homeschooling since we became parents. We decided to homeschool when our oldest was just two months old after attending a homeschooling conference. I am not sure I have any great pearls of wisdom but want to say you are normal. Whatever you are feeling, you are normal and there’s no shame in that other than our own pride being wounded that we are not living up to our own expectations.

Gena mentioned you are in your first year of homeschooling. I have heard it said that the first year of homeschooling should be more about getting to know each other again and creating organizational plans and delegating, than grades and school. Part of me thinks you had high expectations and haven’t met them and that’s robbing you of your joy.

Mothering is exhausting under any circumstance but throw homeschooling in the mix and being with our offspring 24/7 and you have a completely different exhaustion, in my humble opinion.

Here are my suggestions:

1. Your relationship with your husband should always come before anything else. You will be giving your children a huge gift to see the priority you place on your marriage and each other. So that said, set up a date night, tell the kids you want to surprise daddy with his favorite meal and a date tonight/tomorrow night so you are feeding them early and they are going to bed early because mom and dad are having an in-house date. Get them involved with decorating, setting the table, getting the house clean. The older kids can read, clean their room and even put the little ones to bed. I think this would go a long way in restoring togetherness among the two of you and your children seeing how important you are to each other and what child doesn’t want to surprise daddy before he gets home?

2. Set aside time for yourself this weekend and let your husband know you need this. Whether it be a couple hours at Starbucks, the library, in the bathtub or your room. Make time for you. You can read, watch tv, write letters, craft or sew, but it has to be something you enjoy for you and no interruptions.

3. Delegate. If your children and husband are not doing anything, they have to be in order for homeschooling to work. Your children are not too young to do chores. I think a goal you should have is most of your children doing the bulk of every day chores with you doing half the meals and helping deep clean. You are the manager (and yes I have Managers of their Homes but haven’t used it in years but I certainly learned much from it) so manage and delegate tasks according to age and ability. I own my own business and do a morning paper route, out of necessity when my husband was laid off six years ago and again last August, so my family does the bulk of the house work. It’s the way it has to be when I work almost 40 hours a week. Granted I have my husband home right now so he’s a huge help and has taken off the stress in helping with homeschool and overseeing the children. But our situation is unique because of his unemployment. We also have a small farm and the children do the bulk of those chores as well. We told them if they wanted animals they would be taking care of them because dad and I wanted to do just vegetables! :) We are raising the next generation and our priority is to raise responsible adults who know how to work hard.

If you get these three things set into your schedule, I think all the rest will fall into place over time. Notice I didn’t say overnight. You have a huge adjustment in having all your children home again, but your three older girls, even your 6 year old can learn to take over some of the meals. Start with breakfast or lunch as those can be fairly easy meals to fix. All five of our older kids can cook many to several meals each. Our 7 and 5 year old help with prep work.

As a mom, you have the most important job in the world – raising your children! God chose you to be their mother and them to be your children. He didn’t make a mistake. You can homeschool successfully and He is with you every step of the way. Homeschooling is more than just school. It is our children learning godly character, learning skills to last them a life time, learning to love and forgive. And as Gena’s blog title suggests, “I Choose Joy”, joy is a choice and we need to choose joy no matter the circumstances, just think of the apostle Paul’s example. I doubt he was very pleased to be jailed but he did choose joy amidst a difficult situation. Homeschooling is as much for our children as it is for us. God refines us in the process.

Anyways, I’ve got to bake with my little ones but hope you can take something of what I said and apply it to your life and home.
May you be blessed with strength and encouragement today.

It’s time for our Link Party:

From House to Home!

Only 2 rules:

1. Link up family-friendly posts (exact post, not website) about making your house into a home: homemaking, parenting, homeschooling, marriage, loving God! Giveaways, too!

2. Link back to my site with the button below or a text link. Thanks! The code can be found at the top of the Link Party page. (If you don’t link back somewhere on your blog, your link might be deleted.)

I Choose Joy!

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Follow on Bloglovin

See the wonderful blogs I’ve linked up to here.