Homeschooling High School monthly blog hop- Introduction

Homeschooling High School Blog Hop 2015


As you probably know, I will be homeschooling my first highschooler starting next year. I’m excited to be part of a group of bloggers who will be sharing about a homeschooling-high-school subject once a month, the last Wednesday of the month for the rest of 2015.

Today I will introduce the different bloggers and what the topics of each post will be.

I’d love to know if you have questions about homeschooling high school. What would you like to ask? Please leave a comment below.

And if this subject interests you, please follow by email so you’ll know when each new post is up! I will link to the others.

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Here are the Blog Topics and Dates:
•  24 June – Planning for High School {How and When, ways to/how we’re planning to earn college credit while still in high school, Meeting High School Requirements, how to assign credit when there aren’t tests, What records do you keep?  How do you present them? What influences your method, your emphasis in certain areas?}
•  29 July – Electives {Following Passions, following interests, fitting a job in with school,  and Being intentional in Preparing for what comes after high school, Life skills.}
•  26 August – Math, Science {What do you use ? Why do you use … ? What influences your choices/selection?}
•  30 September- Language Arts {Poetry, Literature, Composition, writing, What influenced your choices/selection?}
•  28 October – “How am I going to teach High School …?” {Addressing the fear factor of teaching subjects we struggle with or know nothing about,  How to achieve credit in subjects your student *hates*}
•  25 November – How do you fit it all in ? {homeschooling high school alongside homeschooling the others, Fostering Independence, Do you generalize or specialize? Schedules}
•  30 December – Graduation { Fostering Independence,  How do you know when they are done ?}

Here are my Fellow Bloggers:


Chareen from Every Bed of Roses – Introducing the 2015 Homeschool High School Blog Hop

Jennifer from A Glimpse of Our Life – Meet The Bloggers of The Homeschooling High School Blog Hop

Meg from Adventures with Jude – Hints for Homeschooling High School

Cristi from Through the Calm and Through the Storm – Some Homeschooling High School Friends

Debra from Footprints in the Butter – My Three (Homeschooled High School) Sons

Leah from As We Walk Along the Road – Are You Really Homeschooling Through High School?! The Homeschool High School Blog Hop

Michele from Family, Faith and Fridays – Homeschooling High School Blog Hop

Lisa from Golden Grasses – You Can Do It! Homeschooling through High School Blog Hop

Wendy from Life at Rossmont – Introducing High School Homeschooling … {A Monthly Blog Hop}

Gena from I Choose Joy! – Homeschooling High School monthly blog hop- Introduction

Kym from Homeschool Coffee Break – Meet the Homeschooling High School Bloggers!

Debbie from Debbie’s Homeschool Corner – Homeschooling High School

Carol from Home Sweet Life – Homeschooling High School ~ What is it REALLY like?

April from ElCloud Homeschool – Introducing Homeshooling High School

Erica from Be The One – Homeschooling High School

Laura from Day by Day in Our World – Homeschooling High School ~ A New Monthly Series of Posts

Tess from Circling Through This Life – Introducing the Homeschool High School Blog Hop!

Dawn from Double O Farms – Tapping into Great Resources for Homeschooling High School

I also have a series that I’ve written called “Preparing to Homeschool Ninth Grade”. Here are those topics and links:

Posts in the Series “Preparing to Homeschool Ninth Grade:

Post #1: The How-To Book 

Post #2: Choosing the Coursework

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

Post #4: Our Curriculum Choices

Free 20th Century Music Lesson Plans and Printables


I’m happy to share with you today some free 20th century music lesson plans!  My latest is “20th Century Music Overview in 20 Minutes.”  See the download for it below.

As you may remember I have spent the past year teaching a 20th Century Music History/Appreciation class at our Tapestry of Grace homeschool co-op.  I taught the 20-minute class twice each Wednesday, once for the elementary kids and once for the middle school and high school students.  Each week was a different focus–a different composer or style.  I taught for a few minutes and we listened to as much music as possible.  Almost everything is available on YouTube!  It was really great for the kids to watch the orchestras playing.  Another neat thing was to see original videos of the performer (such as Elvis singing “Hound Dog.”)  I emailed a lesson detailing the entire lesson to the parents and students each week so they could continue their listening if desired.  Some high school students even used the lessons to help them earn a 1/2 credit in 20th Century music history.  I encouraged them to add 2 hours of reading, listening, or writing about the topic each week.  In my elementary music class I also gave a coloring sheet each week (usually of an instrument, but sometimes other things that related to the lesson).  The middle and high school students were to fill out two notebooking pages which you can download here:

Here is one of the lessons I wrote that you can download:

For the final class, I put together an overview of the top 41 styles, composers, performers, and/or pieces of the 20th Century.  It’s all on a YouTube playlist, so you can enjoy this for FREE at your home. Download the PDF file of


Help Your Child Grow in Character

Child Grow in Character

How do you help your child grow in character? We try to talk through it daily–ways to be kind and more loving. We read the Bible and pray. But I am always looking for more ideas to help me in the area of character training!  I’ll be back to this page and listing my favorite character-developing materials.  If you have some favorites, please list them in the comments!

Dear Mom Who is Hesitant about Homeschooling Middle School


Hesitant About Homeschooling Middle School

From Gena:

Dear Mom Who Is Hesitant about Homeschooling Middle School,

I’ve been in the homeschooling community for quite a long time, since before my first child was born.  And I’ve heard something often spoken that I’d like to address today.  Many moms say, “I’ll just take homeschooling one year at a time. And I’ll sent them to school when they get to middle school.”

I’d love to encourage you to rethink that strategy.  Homeschooling Middle School is wonderful!  You don’t want to miss out on it.  And, your kids will benefit by being homeschooled during those years.

Why do I want to encourage you to continue to homeschool during the middle school years?  Because these years are so important in the development of your child.  He will grow and change immensely during puberty–and needs his parents, more than peers or teachers who don’t love him like you do, to guide and direct him through this time.

I have 2 middle schoolers right now.  If I sent them to school, I would hardly see them, let alone have time to really talk to them.  Several nights a week they are gone from home (for theater class/rehearsal, youth group, and get-togethers with friends).  I treasure the time that I can talk to them during the day and guide them in their school-work.  They are fairly independent, but I’m here for them when they have questions about math or history!

I’m also here for them when they are struggling with other “middle school” issues.  I love that our home is a safe place.  I know that has increased their confidence when they are out in the world.

There’s a Middle School Bundle in the Build Your Bundle homeschool curriculum sale!

Build Your Bundle 2015 Pre-Sale

Middle school is also a time when students start to think about what they are going to do when they grow up.  If they are in school, they are forced into a cookie cutter set of classes that give little time for them to explore their own desires. For example, my oldest son spends every spare moment he has practicing guitar and singing, and listening to music.  He told me a couple of days ago that he has started writing a punk rock-opera (whatever that is!).  My second son showed me last night how he had taken several Nerf guns apart, added electrical wires and light bulbs, and created something completely new!  I am so glad they have the time to explore these interests of theirs.

What are your hesitations? Are you worried about the difficulty level of the schoolwork? The curriculum offered today makes that a non-issue.  Are you worried about dealing with middle school attitudes?  Then start working on your relationship with your child right now, so that won’t be an issue.

Please leave a comment below.  Let’s talk about the joys of homeschooling middle school and let me encourage you in your fears!

Love, Gena

Now enjoy reading some other letters to moms:

Linked to Carnival of Homeschooling

Review of Greek Morphemes Lessons (It’s NOT Greek to Me!)

Ready to Teach Review
Greek Morphemes Lessons (It’s  NOT Greek to Me!) by Ready to Teach is a wonderful new curriculum that we have spent the last 6 weeks working on.  I’m so happy to have found it!  I received the Student and Teacher books (both paperback physical books 102 pages long) with CD and flash drive.  The CD and flash drive both contained the same information, a group of instruction files and a group of review files.  

So what is the purpose of Greek Morphemes Lessons?

Basically, it’s a homeschooling vocabulary program which teaches the Greek roots, prefixes, and suffixes (as well as some Latin ones) so that students will be able to figure out many difficult English words.  Personally, I want my kids to learn these morphemes so they will perform better on college entrance exams.

What ages is it best for?

This program is really great for junior high and high school students.  Be sure to have your student complete it before they take the SAT or ACT test and they will almost certainly do better on the tests!

How long does it take each day?

The suggested lesson plans included in the curriclum say that you can use it for only 10-30 minutes a day.

How did we use it?

My 12-year-old son finished the first and part of the second lesson of 12 total lessons in the 6 weeks we worked on it.  We didn’t follow the suggested lesson plans exactly, but did it in a way that would work for our family and homeschool time.  Usually, he only worked on it for 10-15 minutes each study session, but sometimes worked for 30 minutes.  I also had my 14-year-old son work on some of it.  Both boys will definitely be finishing the whole book because I am certain that it will be useful for SAT preparation.

Each of the 12 lessons contains:

  • 15-22 Greek morphemes
  • Note-taking page
  • Words to Work exercise
  • Word analysis, word synthesis, context cluse composition activities, and review activities
  • Color pages for making study flash cards

Greek Morphemes Lessons Greek Morphemes Lessons Greek Morphemes Lessons

The Teacher’s Manual contains:

  • Suggested Lesson Plans and instructions on how to use the program
  • Answer Keys for Words to Work and Review matching exercises
  • Transparency masters
  • Tests and Keys
  • Premade study cards
  • Bulletin board ideas and graphics

How did we like it?

I am so happy with this program!  Watching the Powerpoint slide show was how I taught the first part of each lesson.  It was really cool. I would read the slide, then click the next one and it usually added to what was already on the screen.  Sometimes there were questions for the boys to think about.  After they gave an answer I would click and find out if they were right.  It was a very handy (and fun) way to teach the lesson.  Obviously, this would also work very well in a classroom or co-op situation.  All the written pages were in the student book.  I loved how there were a variety of activities for each lesson.  It really got the boys to use the morphemes a lot in many different ways so that they could get them fully memorized and understood.  The teacher book was easy to follow and was organized in a way that I could quickly find what I was looking for (such as answers to the lesson pages or tests.)  I like how the student book had colorful pages to use for the flashcard that were made for practice.  And the teacher book had them printed so I could practice my own and learn them as well!

See the website for sample lessons.  I’m sure you’ll like it, too!


Koru Naturals Review
Crew Disclaimer

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

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!)

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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

My Student Logbook 009

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.


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: Our Curriculum Choices


(Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.)

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

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.

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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: Our 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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Tapestry 1920s Celebration 001

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:

Astronomy Gen Science T-Shirt 001

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

Science Firmoo NuNaturals 001

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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Crew Disclaimer

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.

Click to read Crew Reviews
Crew Disclaimer

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!!!

(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

Skrafty Homeschool Minecraft Review

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.

Build Your Bundle 2015 Pre-Sale

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.

SKrafty Classes

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

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!

$118.19 ONLY $10.00 Save: 92%
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Checkout the items in the Homeschooling & Homemaking Mom Bundle:



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How to Coupon Effectively – Retail: $8.97

Are you sick and tired of spending so much money in the grocery store? Are
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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
for Homeschool Moms
, will lift your spirits and renew your courage.
Filled with faith-building stories and encouragement for “those”
days we all have sometimes.

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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
of daily life) can happily co-exist within the framework of a goal-oriented

Click here to learn more!

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Dyslexia 101 – Retail: $5.99

With the correct information and the right methods, dyslexic children can
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strengths of the dyslexic mind, embrace them and find success.

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
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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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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

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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!

Where? Purchase the bundle here.

How much? Well now, that’s the best part. The entire package is worth nearly $900, and it’s selling for less than $30. Sweet deal, right?

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!

  1. DaySpring—A FREE 10-pack of Premium Greeting Cards. ($20.00 Value. Standard shipping applies.)
  2. HopeInk—$15 HopeInk store credit to be used towards anything + a FREE 8×10 Art Print with order. ($39.00 Value. Standard shipping applies.)
  3. Redeeming Beauty Mineral Makeup—3 FREE eyeshadows of your choice from Redeeming Beauty. ($16.47 Value. Standard shipping applies – only ships to US and Canada.)
  4. Marie-Madeline Studio—A $15 store credit for anything in Marie-Madeline Studio’s online store. ($15.00 value. Standard shipping applies.)
  5. Once a Month Meals—A FREE One Month Pro Membership from Once a Month Meals. ($16.00 Value. No shipping required.)
  6. DizolveFREE 64-load pack of Dizolve Laundry Strips for you PLUS a Free 64-load pack of Dizolve Laundry Strips for food banks. ($25.98 value. Standard shipping [$3] applies. Only ships in the US.)
  7. TrilLight Health—Get a FREE 2 oz. bottle of a liquid health formula OR $15 store credit from Trilight Health. ($15.00 Value. Standard shipping rates apply.)
  8. ListPlanIt—Free 3-month membership OR 3 free ePlanners from ListPlanIt. ($15.00 value. No shipping required.)
  9. Bulk Herb Store—Instant download of the instructional video Making Herbs Simple Volume 2 for FREE from Bulk Herb Store. (up to a $15.00 Value. No shipping required.)
  10. Fit2B™ Studio—FREE 2-Month Online Fitness Membership at Fit2B™ Studio. (up to a $20.00 Value. No shipping required.)

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.