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 BibleBee.org, 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!

Bless_a_Homeschooler_Giveaway_300x300[1]

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 Reviews and Giveaways

Welcome!

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 whenyouriseup.com.

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.

SKrafty Classes

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

 

Affordable:

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.

Giveaway Companies – Multiple Winners!

SKrafty Giveaways

 

Check out all the wonderful companies and prizes you can win for your family homeschool:

3 SKrafty Fall Classes - Value up to $32 each

Mystery of History Volume 1,2, or 3 & Super Supplemental – Value $150

A+ Interactive Math - Family Package for 3 Students – Value $450

Adventures In ChildRearing - Wildlife Adventures bundle- Value $27.99

We Choose Virtues - Homeschool Kit – Value $98.99

Sidetracked Sarah – Crockpot Freezer Meals 3 pack – Value $8.97

Moore Family Films - ABC Say it With Me – Value $15.99

Not Consumed - Back to School 4 Pack – Value $12.50

Teach Them Diligently – Family Pass to 1 Convention – Value $65

Homeschool Adventure Co. – Philippians in 28 Weeks – Value $18.95

Media Angels – Homeschool Moms Rescue Set – Value $9.99

A Journey Through Learning - Math Lapbook - Value$15.00

Dave Ramsey – Financial Peace Jr. – Value $24.95

 

Enter with 1 entry or enter with them all:a Rafflecopter giveaway

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.)

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

TOG Y4

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

Build Your Bundle - Homeschool Edition Sale: July 21-28 Save up to 92% on Popular Homeschooling Curriculum, Many from Cathy Duffy's Top 100 Picks!

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Checkout the items in the Homeschooling & Homemaking Mom Bundle:

 

 

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How to Coupon Effectively – Retail: $8.97

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Easy Peasy Chores – Retail $18.99

Easy Peasy Chores is a printable chore system that includes every job the
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The Homemaker’s Guide to Creating the Perfect
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This is the Deluxe Edition because not only does it contain step by step
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Large Family Homeschooling – Retail $7.99

Are you homeschooling a growing family? Are you looking for ways to get
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Encouragement for Homeschool Moms – Retail – $4.99

Feeling discouraged as you face the rest of the school year? Encouragement
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, will lift your spirits and renew your courage.
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Plan To Be Flexible: Designing A Homeschool Rhythm
and Curriculum Plan That Works for Your Family – Retail: $3.99

 

Born out of one mom’s struggle to find order and peace, reading this book
is like having a coffee with someone that’s “been there, done
that.” Plan to Be Flexible’s focus on “rhythms” instead
of a rigid schedule testifies to how free-form learning (and the realities
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Dyslexia 101 – Retail: $5.99

With the correct information and the right methods, dyslexic children can
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From from research to real life, prevention to remediation, from preschool
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Homeschooling Day by Day – Retail: $4.99

If you’re a homeschool mom in need of a little inspiration, or if you’ve
ever considered homeschooling but aren’t quite sure you can do it,
Homeschooling Day by Day will encourage and empower you! Learn about
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How to Build a Strong Christian Home: One Step
at a Time – Retail: $4.99

Do you desperately need help building a strong Christian home?
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Purposeful Planning – Retail: $9.95

Does having your spouse’s undivided attention appeal to you? Planning weekends
give you time to dream, to talk together about what you wish, or want,
at a time when the other person is really listening.

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Charts and Tips for Stress Free Planning &
Scheduling – Retail $3.99

One of the most challenging things for homeschooling mothers is organizing
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Heart and Soul Homeschool Mama…Becoming an Uncomplicated
Homeschooler – Retail $17.95

Are you a heart and soul homeschool mama, or do you want to be one? Does
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Dealing with a Difficult Child – Retail $2.99

Do you struggle with a child who is difficult or challenging? A child that
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In this book you will learn 12 different ways to respond to that difficult
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Managing Your Homeschool – Retail – $4.99

Homeschooling your children stretches the organizational skills of the all
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HomeWork: Juggling Home, Work, and School Without Losing Your Balance – Retail – $12.45

How do you juggle a home, a husband, homeschooling, plus working from home?
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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

EncouragementCollage2

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!)

Homemaking

Food

Motherhood

Marriage

Faith

Faith {For Kids}

Financial Stewardship

Health & Wellness

Holidays & Special Events

Homeschooling

Pregnancy & Babies

Self-Care

Working from Home & Blogging

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

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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!)

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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 FlyLady.net or MotivatedMoms.com)

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 Doorposts.net 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. LetteroftheWeek.com book list,
 Before Five in a Row booklist.

“Ten things to do before age 10”  from the Bluedorns TriviumPursuit.com– 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, ClassicsforKids.com 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: PreschoolersandPeace.com, Pinterest, TriviumPursuit.com (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)

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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 PreschoolersandPeace.com)  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 triviumpursuit.com.

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.

Conclusion

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!)

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

Advice From One Homeschooling Mom of Many to Another: #2 & {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.  Last week I posted my response.  I also received some responses from 3 friends of mine, so they will be posted on the other Thursdays in March.  Today is post #2 from a mom of 6.
Guest Post:
 I also have 2 sets of twins, as well as 2 singles, ages 20, 18, 18 (girls) and 12, 8,8 (boys). I have homeschooled from the beginning.
I wanted to give you some practical tips on homeschooling a large family, which I wish I had known when my kids were younger.

How do you maintain the crazy life and not lose yourself or your mind?

 I really try to keep a sense of humor when things don’t go perfectly well, and they won’t. Chaos isn’t so bad, and you get used to it. My life isn’t so chaotic anymore with 3 finished with school, but my chaos included a year of chemotherapy because of breast cancer 5 years ago, so perspective is key. There is joy in life itself. There is joy in the blessings of many children, a home, a job. Count your blessings often, and thank the Lord often.

How do you and your husband’s relationship not get lost and become a roommate relationship in the midst of life? How does everything not just feel like work?

 Talk to each other and tell him your needs. Be one another’s confidant. Life is work and often times you feel only like roommates, but that happens even if you aren’t homeschooling or have only 1 child.

What do you do with younger kids while trying to school older kids?

For the 3 and 6 yo,
Fill the kitchen sink with soapy water and have them wash ALL the plastic dishes, stack cups, give them beans to put in cups. I always had a box of these items that only came out when I did school with the older kids. The 1 1/2 year old twins are harder. Keep that nap schedule for as long as you can. My twins (8 years old now) were tough at this age so school happened mostly during nap time.  Have the older kids do independent work when the younger ones are awake – reading, writing assignment, math homework. Can you hire someone to come over and just play with the younger ones while you teach the other kids? Can you find a homeschooled teenager in your church to come over 2 times a week to read and play with the younger ones? Maybe a grandparent or single person?

How can I be everything everyone needs all the time without getting burned out?

Don’t do everything! Just because you homeschool doesn’t mean that you are their only teacher. Join a co-op so that someone else can teach certain subjects. You’re already providing them with a better and safer learning environment by pulling them out of the public school; you don’t also have to teach them everything. This year, I am only teaching my 12 year old history. He has a math tutor, my husband teaches science, he has an online writing class, and in co-op he does art, speech, gym; and Bible with my Community Bible Study group.

How do you not be tired..and how do you manage your home and kids all day and have anything left to give your husband at the end if the day..

Assign chores to everyone – have your kids help you make a list of things that need to be done daily (unload dishes, garbage, bedroom…) and weekly (toilets, big garbage can…). Then assign those for the week and rotate those chores. Do a “30 minute pick-up” where everyone is assigned a task or room, and send them all to do that for 30 minutes while you rest! Ask dad to help too. You BOTH work all day (and your work is harder). Evenings shouldn’t only be your burden. If husbands need us to be wives to them, then they need to make it possible for us by not letting us be overtaxed with work. Otherwise exhaustion will take us over. Also consider using paper products for breakfast and lunch and skip the dishes. During the school year, I need to NOT do dishes on school days.
Have the older kids each be in charge of a younger kid for half an hour or an hour every day to give you a break to take a walk outside by yourself, or read the Bible outside.

I recently bought and read and made a schedule based on Managers of their Homes (book).

Keep it simple – simplify as much as you can.
It will get better. Try to be consistent, have a general schedule and don’t worry if you veer away from it; think of what you did accomplish rather than what you didn’t.

I am reading and praying and drawing near to Him…

Pray a lot

There isn’t enough of me to go around..

 That is correct – assign jobs; “anything you remove, you put away,” if it doesn’t get done, there are consequences like no play time or tv (or computer time if you allow it) on weekends

I have always stayed at home and funny enough 5 kids seemed manageable but 7?

It’s the little twins – believe me, it does get better! Enjoy their crazy antics; I miss that when I look back at the pictures of the chaos.

We hardly ever leave the house because it usually takes longer to load everyone up than to actually do whatever it is we needed to in the first place.

 A walk and sunshine does wonders

I really do love being a mom and I wouldn’t trade my life for anything else I just really want to know if this time passes or if it’s just always spinning out of control.

 No one can do this perfectly, not even the Duggars. That’s just television. I hope some of these ideas help you as they have helped me get through some difficult times. Be encouraged that your effort will be a blessing to your family. My older daughters thank me for homeschooling them and plan to do the same when they have children someday. There nothing more encouraging to me than that.
If you have anything to add, please leave a comment!

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.

(Disclosure:  This post may contain affiliate links.)

New Series: Advice from One Homeschooling Mom of Many to Another {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.  I hope that my response will be helpful to more people than just her, so I’ve decided to share it here.  I also received some responses from 3 friends of mine, so they will be posted on the other Thursdays in March.  Be sure to come back to read them!

My answer (edited somewhat to preserve her anonymity):

No matter what the size of your family, starting to homeschool after kids have already gone to school is hard for anyone!  I heard one speaker say it takes one month of adjustment for every year the kids have gone to school.  So, hang in there.  It’s learning a new way of life for you and for your kids.  And having the little twins sure doesn’t make it easier!

I now know some other large families, but for many years I received my encouragement and help mostly from the internet.  I’m part of an email loop called MOMYS, Mothers of Many Young Siblings.  There are so many women on that loop that no matter what question you ask, you’ll find someone to give advice on it!

I also got help from books.  Managers of Their Homes (and Chores) helped a bit.  And even though I can never do it the way I plan it on paper, it still helps me get focused.  I also liked the book Large Family Logistics and got a lot of great ideas from it.

I’m so sorry about you feeling like the joy has left your home.  I think I would put aside the regular school work for a while and do some fun learning.  Let the kids choose some topics they’d like to study and check out a bunch of books and videos at the library.  They could do lapbooks on the topic if they think that’s fun.  Go on some field trips.  The Homeschool Buyer’s Co-op website has a great list of field trip ideas for every city!  Read aloud a bunch.  That’s one of my favorite parts of each day.  Do some art, or music appreciation, or anything else that’s fun and different to help everyone get happy again.  January is a rough month for most homeschoolers.

> How do you maintain the crazy life and not lose yourself or your mind?  
I do feel like I’m losing my mind–at least once every day!  But talking it out with my husband, getting some good systems going (kids assigned to chores, check-off lists, laundry schedule), and getting out of the house alone occasionally helps.

> How do you and your husband’s relationship not get lost and become a roommate relationship in the midst of life?
A few years ago we started talking together in bed every night.  We make sure we go to bed at the same time, so we have that time to connect (and work out issues if there are some).  I get less sleep now, but our relationship is so much stronger I would not trade it for the world!

> How does everything not just feel like work?
Well, a lot of it is work, so it is going to feel that way.  Parenting and teaching and homemaking are hard work!  So, you just need to look for the things that can delight you in the midst of it.  Aren’t your twins funny?  Take time to watch them and laugh!  Sing.  Dance.  Get silly when you can.

> What do you do with younger kids while trying to school older kids?
I’m still not good at this one.  I did hire a young lady to come and help in the mornings last year when I had a newborn and 2-year-old (and 6 older kids to homeschool).  Most of the time now I just let them play in the basement and hope they entertain themselves.  Other times, they have one of my older kids to play with them when they are in between schoolwork.  I do my focused read-aloud time in the afternoon when my baby is sleeping.  I wish my 3-year-old would still nap, since he doesn’t have the attention span to listen to me read for so long.  This is still an area I’m not very good at!

> How can I be everything everyone needs all the time without getting burned out?
Here is another thing I’m struggling with as well.  I just try to make sure my priorities are straight.  I do need some alone time every day, so if I get it, that helps be reguvenate.  But it’s still very hard and I often feel like there isn’t enough of me to go around.

> How do you not be tired?
I am ALWAYS tired:(

> And how do you manage your home and kids all day and have anything left to give your husband at the end if the day?
My husband is such an encouragement to me at the end of the day (most days) that I do have something left.  But not everyday.  Remember, this is your first year of homeschooling.  It’s a really hard year!  Everyone, including you and your husband needs to understand that and lower their expectations.

> The biggest problem I feel is that there isn’t enough of me to go around.
Yes, I feel like this, too.  I just make sure that I check everyone’s schoolwork every few days, since it’s impossible to do it every day.

>  I want to teach my children Godly character and I want to love and respect my husband and I want to be good at homeschooling and I don’t want my house to be a wreck all the time and I want to provide healthy meals but honestly I feel like just the regular maintenance of everyday is so overwhelming.
It is overwhelming.  There is no way you can do everything.  Figure out where you can cut back –at least for a while (a year or two?). Easier meals, hiring someone to help, paper instead of dishes?  Can you lower some expectations about housework?  We never make our beds here.  One of my boys has two boxes under his bunkbed where he puts his clothes.  Nothing to hang up, no folding.  It’s easy.  I get cleaning ladies to come in once a month.  So I never mop or clean showers.

> We hardly ever leave the house because it usually takes longer to load everyone up than to actually do whatever it is we needed to in the first place.
My husband does the grocery shopping on Saturdays because of this. It is extremely exhausting for me to take everyone out.  So, we don’t do it very often.

 I’m so glad you reached out!  I do hear your heart, and I am praying for you.  This life (of having a large family, and homeschooling them) is so hard, but so worth it.  Don’t give up!  

My favorite Scripture:  Hebrews 12:1-3

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted

Your sister in Christ,
Gena

 

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!

 Loading InLinkz ...

Follow on Bloglovin

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

(Disclosure:  This post may contain affiliate links.)

From House to Home {Link Party}: Science Fun!

Science Collage 2

We’ve been having some fun science time around our home lately. My husband and kids found a praying mantis in the yard. We got a cage and some crickets (10 for $1 at the pet store!) and had her for a couple of weeks. We know it was a “her” because she laid an egg sac! The last time we did this, we kept the egg sac in the garage all winter, then set it out in the spring. We saw the baby praying mantis hatch!

My preschoolers also did a simple activity to learn about leaves changing in the fall. I love all the great books at the library you can find about leaves changing!
 

It’s time for our From House to Home 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!

 

 


 

Follow on Bloglovin

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

 

Our Favorite Chicagoland Field Trips

 

Chicagoland Field Trip Collage

 

I have now lived in the Chicagoland area for about 13 years, and I’d love to share with you today about 5 of our favorite field trips.  Each of the following will take you to links of LOTS of pictures and fun that we’ve had on these field trips.  If you’re ever in the area, be sure to try these out!

Kohl Children’s Museum:  All my kids 9 and under LOVE this place!  There is a wide variety of hands-on activities, from dressing up to science to art.

Collage- Kohl 2 Collage- Kohl

http://ichoosejoy.org/2013/04/26/from-house-to-home-link-party-childrens-museum-godspell-promo/

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http://ichoosejoy.org/2008/11/03/fun-with-my-mom/

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Shedd Aquarium:  If you love ocean animals, you’ll love the Shedd in downtown Chicago (on Lake Michigan).  The beluga whales are one of my favorite exhibits there.

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http://ichoosejoy.org/2009/04/29/field-trips/

 

Chicago Botanic Gardens: Here’s a free one (although they do charge for parking).  The gardens are so huge, we never get through them all in a day.

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http://ichoosejoy.org/2012/09/06/august-field-trip-botanic-gardens/

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http://ichoosejoy.org/2010/06/10/botanic-gardens/

http://ichoosejoy.org/2008/05/20/gardens/

 

Milwaukee Zoo:  Even though Chicago has several great zoos, I always decide I like the Milwaukee Zoo better.  It’s still the same driving distance for us.

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http://ichoosejoy.org/2012/05/03/zoo-and-other-pictures/

http://ichoosejoy.org/2011/09/09/zoo-time/

 

Field Museum:  My oldest son said this was his his favorite field trip.  You’ll find “Sue” in the lobby–the largest T-Rex skeleton.  There are “stuffed” animals of all types, different exhibits on various cultures, rocks and minerals, and so much more.  Think “Night at the Museum” to get an idea of what you might find here.  :)  Just be aware of the obvious pro-evolutionary leanings of the entire museum.

http://ichoosejoy.org/2008/04/26/pictures-from-field-museum/

 

Here are some other Field Trips we’d recommend:

Naper Settlement:

 

Grayslake Recycling Center, Long Grove Confectionary (Chocolate Factory) Tour, Science and Industry Museum, Old World Wisconsin, Morton Arboretum, and

Adler Planetarium:

Find more awesome Field Trips from Around the World where I’m linked up today:

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My Top Ten Favorite Books to Read Aloud

Favorite books

 

I’m so happy to share today my top 10 favorite books to read aloud! As a homeschooling mom of 8, I spend a lot of time reading aloud to my kids, and it’s probably my most favorite part of homeschooling! I’ve read all of these books through at least once, and will happily read them all again as my kids grow– and then will hopefully read them to my grandkids as well!

Little House on the Prairie series (all books) by Laura Ingalls Wilder

 

The Chronicles of Narnia (all books) by C.S. Lewis

 

Heidi by Johanna Spyri

 

Anne of Green Gables (book 1, not the whole series) by L.M. Montgomery

 

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

 

Rascal by Sterling North

 

The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare

 

 

Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes

 

The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare

 

The Story of Dr. Dolittle by Hugh Lofting

 

If you haven’t read these, but have seen the movies, remember:  The book is always better!

Did I miss any of your favorites? Please share. I’d love to add to the list!  And if you enjoy this post, please pin it!

(Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.)

Review/Giveaway of Homeschool T-Shirt and $5.99 Sale!

Homeschool T-Shirt Giveaway

 

Ant Farm, Homeschool T-Shirt 018

Don’t you love this shirt!  It says, “When you’re homeschooled, you never know where you’ll end up!”

It’s sold by Great Products, and they’re having a sale where hundreds of adult and children’s t-shirts are only $5.99 right now, through September 15!

Here are a few others I love:

Image 1

 

 

I received the t-shirt within a week after I ordered it.  It fit true to size and is made of high quality 100% cotton, very soft!  I love the design I chose, with the tie-dye style and wonderful saying about the Presidents on Mt. Rushmore being homeschooled.  The only negative I have to say is that the font is difficult to read.  I saw a few people trying to read it while I was grocery shopping at Target today, but it was hard to read it quickly as we were all rushing through our Sunday afternoon shopping.

Here are a few other ways to connect with Great Products:
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/greatproducts
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/joshgp

And now a Giveaway:   The prize will be one free homeschool t-shirt of the winner’s choice in whatever size and color they prefer!

The Winner will be chosen on Tuesday 9/3/2013 and will have 48 hours to respond to my email about their choice of t-shirt and mailing address.  U.S. entries only, please.

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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(Disclosure:  I received the above blue t-shirt in exchange for this honest review.)

Our 2013-2014 Homeschool Schedule

Homeschool Schedule

 

Well, after some deep thinking I’ve come up with a schedule that will hopefully make it possible to fit in all our wonderful curriculum plans for this year!  Let me start off by saying that this is not really the way I like to do things.  This schedule is going to be WAY too precise and detailed.  I love having a basic skeleton of a schedule in mind, with lots of room to play around inside it.  But that won’t allow us to complete everything this year, so I’m trying this instead–with the thought that hopefully it will only be for one year!

Furthermore, this is my “dream” schedule–the ideal.  I’m sure we will rarely, if ever, do it exactly like this!  We have quite a few “extras” that are going to mess with this schedule:  band at the Christian School (4 days a week for B, 2 days for J), violin lessons on Wednesday mornings, and piano lessons on Thursday mornings.  We might be doing a co-op on Fridays.  Our speech class is on Tuesday afternoons.  See my curriculum post for more details on what we’re using.

The schedule–from Mom’s point of view:

6:00-7:00   Wake, Bible Time, Get baby and myself ready

7:00-8:00   Breakfast for me and baby (and little ones if they’re awake), emails

8:00  Exercise

8:45  Baby to nap

9:00-9:30  Phonics lesson with R (8yrs.)

9:30-9:45  Phonics lesson with T (6 yrs.)

9:45-10:00 Phonics lesson with L (4 yrs.)

10:00-10:45  Morning Group Time  (choose from Pray, Sing, Practice Memory Verses, Jesus Storybook Bible, Answers for Kids, Science lesson, library books, SQUILT, Classical Composers Monthly, Art lesson)

10:45-11:15 Independent meeting with M (9 yrs.)

11:15-11:45  Independent meeting with B (12 yrs.)

11:45-1:00  Lunch, chores, blogging

1:00 Baby to nap

1:15-2:00 Afternoon Group Time (History/Geography lesson, read-aloud biography, read-aloud novel)

2:00-2:30  Independent meeting with J (11 yrs.)

2:30-3:30 Rest and Read

3:30-4:30  House chores, office work, homeschool planning, sewing

4:30-5:15 Dinner Prep

By the way, to help me with scheduling and planning, I used the book Managers of Their Homes–so helpful!

 

See the wonderful blogs I’ve linked up to here! And