Homeschool Science Kits Make Life Stupid Easy

Your homeschool life needs science kits. Forget those cutesy monthly subscription boxes-- this is the one you ought to  

Do you struggle to stay consistent with your science curriculum? Need a no-prep plan? These science kits are exactly what you need to make science stupid easy. My kids love these kits and beg for science now! Plus, I enjoy it too. No more canceling science because we don't have something.

I received this product for free and was compensated for my 100% honest review.

 

 

I've been using a bunch of different science curriculum lately, if you couldn't tell. As a person that is fascinated by science it's important to me that my kids get some quality science in them.

Plus, I'm determined to get each one of them to fall in love with science as well.

Oh, and it's one of those things that makes me super nervous that my kids will miss something and sit there in college cursing my name and all that I represent.

 

Science curriculum woes

  • Are you consistently skipping science because you sit down and realize, "oh garbage, I'm missing the one key material we need?"
  • Are you consistently skipping science because you don't have the funds to buy buy buy the beakers, the petri dishes, the solutions, the microscope, the slides, the frog to dissect?
  • Are you consistently skipping science because you've forgotten to look over the material, set it all up, and be prepared?
  • Are you consistently skipping science because... ugh?

 

I said I loved science right?

  • Well, my bank account doesn't.
  • My procrastinator self doesn't.
  • My brain fog, bad memory doesn't either.

 

Teacher's manuals, lab books, copies, random piece of string, a bottle of some weird ingredient that I only need a teaspoon of, I'll never use again, and costs $40-- all kill me.

 

I wanted to do the experiments, I wanted to show my kids how amazing science was, but I just kept hitting a wall of reality and life.

 

Then breezed into my life homeschool science kits subscriptions by Insight to Learning.

Ohmygosh, guys. THIS. This is the answer.

 

Do you struggle to stay consistent with your science curriculum? Need a no-prep plan? These science kits are exactly what you need to make science stupid easy. My kids love these kits and beg for science now! Plus, I enjoy it too. No more canceling science because we don't have something.

I don't have to do a thing except order, open, do it, and return them when done.

 

They've literally done everything for me.

This is a procrastinator's, a forgetful flake's, and a financially strapped person's dream come true.

 

I open the big glorious box.

It is stupid simple organized.

 

Do you struggle to stay consistent with your science curriculum? Need a no-prep plan? These science kits are exactly what you need to make science stupid easy. My kids love these kits and beg for science now! Plus, I enjoy it too. No more canceling science because we don't have something.

 

There are 5-6 lessons in each box.

Each lesson is in its own huge ziplock bag. Clearly labeled.

The Teacher's Manual is in its own bag, with copies of lab sheets (copies y'all!) in the same bag. Clearly labeled.

What do I do when it's time for science?

  1. I pull out our science kit box.
  2. Pull out the lesson for the day (1-5)
  3. Pull out the Teacher's Manual, open it to the lesson we're on, and go.
  4. Do the lesson (read a book or watch a DVD-- it's included!)
  5. Ask the questions suggested.
  6. Pull out the remaining materials from the activity bag and start the experiment.

 

The Teacher's Manual has starter questions, vocabulary, the lesson material to cover, follow up questions, and the experiment instructions.

Also included are the master sheets for the copies you'll want to make (only if you run out of the paper they included in the science kits).

 

Dream come true

I don't have to read it the night before, the week before, or ever. I read it for the first time when the kids are hearing it for the first time.

I could go as far as letting the kids do this on their own should I feel the inclination or have the need.

 

If my husband, mother-in-law, or babysitter was subbing for the day (should I randomly jet off to England one day) they could do this with complete ease and no stress/freak-out.

 

Do you struggle to stay consistent with your science curriculum? Need a no-prep plan? These science kits are exactly what you need to make science stupid easy. My kids love these kits and beg for science now! Plus, I enjoy it too. No more canceling science because we don't have something.

 

Yeah, but do the kids like the science kits?

Well... they loved it!

What's even better, when the subject of what we'd learned recently came up in a random conversation with other people they remembered it! They remembered the new vocabulary, what they meant, and how they worked.

That's the most important part, right? That they're learning and retaining what they learned.

 

We have the kit from the 2nd grade subscription (I have a 2nd, 3rd, & 5th grader) titled Earth's Place in the Universe. (*Note, this is the link to the classroom kit, so don't freak out at the big price tag).

We've learned about erosion, earthquakes, volcanoes, the layers of the earth, and caves (growing our own stalactites).

 

My kids want to do the experiments over and over again. They're sad when I tell them it's time to move on. When Dad comes home they can't wait to show him what they did and learned.

Do you struggle to stay consistent with your science curriculum? Need a no-prep plan? These science kits are exactly what you need to make science stupid easy. My kids love these kits and beg for science now! Plus, I enjoy it too. No more canceling science because we don't have something.

Hook yourself up with a science subscription

 

1. Pick the grade you want to use. I used one kit for my 3 oldest children (pay $5 for supplies for an extra child). You receive a discount if you purchase 2 separate grade level kits.

My plan is to go through one grade level and then go up a grade until we reach the end of their kit levels (5th grade).

2. Every 6-8 weeks a new box with 5-6 lessons and activities is shipped to you.

3. Go through each lesson at your own pace (we do one a week).

4. When you're done you ship all the non-consumable items back. Things like the teacher's manual, measuring spoons, DVDs, books, etc.

They include a laminated list when you first open up the package clearly listing out the items to be returned and the items you can keep.

They literally include everything (except water) that you'll need for the experiments. An empty water bottle, measuring spoons, string, plastic spoons (to stir with), a beaker, aluminum pans, clay, erasers, construction paper, cups.

 

We only have to be alive and awake and have water nearby, should we need it, to do the experiments.

 

You could open this box in an empty hotel room and do these experiments.

 

I really loved that the liquid ingredients (clearly labeled) were in a mega-tight container, and double bagged. I don't see how any container would ever leak, but just in case, there's 2 bags to contain it all.

 

The teaching materials (books and DVDs) are high quality. Real science terms, real science, and clear explanations. No fluff here.

 

What if I want to keep the kits?

If you don't want to return the items you would just buy the boxes instead of using the subscription.

This would be nice if you wanted to keep the materials to use for younger children as they get older.

 

 

Hands down this is an amazing subscription to get. Forget those other monthly subscription boxes. This science kit is beneficial to both you and your children.

 

First time subscribers get 50% of their first month's subscription (this offer never expires). Insight to Learning will mail you a check for $12.50 in your first box you receive.

 

Final verdict

This is one of my favorite investments for our homeschool this year. It's made science easy, simple, doable, effective. It gets DONE!

 

Q: What year kit do you want to start with?

10 Insanely Easy Ocean Science Experiments

  Are you looking for some easy ocean science experiments? Don't want a ton of materials and spend tons of money and time gathering supplies for each experiment!  Get excited, because we could be besties.

 

Are you looking for some easy ocean science experiments? Don't want a ton of materials, money, and time gathering supplies for each experiment? Done and done.

Here are the 10 ocean science experiments we did, for reals with our unit study.

Honesty time-- I lurv science and I lurv science experiments. I don't love getting them all together and buying the most random materials that I will NEVER use again, or have to specialty order and shipping costs more than the freaking product. And I'll NEVER use it again!! And we're eating beans for a month because we've blown our school budget.

So I love simple, easy, cheap experiments that teach the concept, let the kids learn and explore and get excited about the topic.

 

You'll see all the experiments we did, along with instructions, explanations, and pictures (when I remembered to take a few shots).

Like seriously, I forgot to take pictures of the density experiment, so I will re-do it just for you when the kids are sleeping. The sacrifices I make for those I love (that's you, in case you were wondering).

Salt Water Density

The beginning of the unit study we started learning about and discussing the actual ocean.  How big it is, what it's made up of, and more. Salt water and its density seemed like a natural place to start.

Materials Needed

  • Egg
  • Two clear jars/vases/bowls
  • Water
  • Salt
  • Small toys
  • Whisk

1. Fill one jar with plain water.

2. Fill another with water and then add salt. We put in about 1/3c at first. I really wanted this to work, so I put in probably closer to 1/2c. I hate when science experiments don't go as promised. :-/  Stir like crazy.

Our water was lukewarm and Little Miss (8 y.o.) suggested we use hot water to help it mix better.

3. We had a selection of toys, little sea creatures, a medium sized rubber shark, a mega block, and a knight. We started with the knight. I asked them what they thought would happen when I put the knight in the plain water. Then I dropped him in. He sunk. The mega block floated. Then the remaining items all sunk.

Then we added the egg. It also sank.

4. Then I started with the egg in the salt water. They were so excited to see it floating! We added the remaining ingredients and they all sunk. Wah-wah-wah.

The kids suggested adding more salt, and that still didn't help.

This was when I attempted to discuss density. Things with higher density sink and things with lower density float. The salt makes the water more dense making it so that more items are less dense than the salt water, meaning more things can now float.

Why is this important? The kids thought it would help the fish swim and float better. Sweet Cheeks (4 y.o.) thought it would make it so they can float while they sleep. Cute!

Then we discussed why we thought the egg floated when the other objects didn't. The kids and I talked about perhaps it was because there was "liquidy stuff" inside the egg and there's liquidy stuff inside fish too and maybe that's why. Especially since the toys don't have food and blood inside them.

 

We veered off course a bit and I showed them how taking the Mega Block and a crumpled piece of paper I could put the block into the water and the paper would stay dry. They each had a turn trying it themselves.

We talked about how if you tilted it the water would go inside and the paper would get wet. When they pushed the block into the water I had them go slowly so they could feel the air pressure pushing against their hand.

In the video, Ocean, it briefly mentioned the old methods of exploring the ocean. At one point, explorers would be lowered down in a wooden box that had no bottom to it. This was how they were able to stay down there for a short time without the entire box being enclosed.

 

Captain (9 y.o.) pointed out water displacement and brainstormed why he thought this was happening.

 

I loved that despite the lackluster results of this experiment (only the egg floated when I wanted more to float), so I guess it wasn't a flop, really, we were able to get our brains working and thinking about all sorts of things related to what we were doing. To me, this is the essence of science. Curiosity, thinking, and exploring.

Layers of the Ocean

Materials

  • Mason jar
  • Water
  • Corn syrup
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Dish soap (blue)
  • Vegetable oil
  • Food coloring (black, blue, green, purple)
  • Funnel
  • Spoon
  • 5 Small bowls
  • Measuring cup
  • Baster

1. Measure out 3/4c of each liquid. Pour into individual small bowls.

2. Add food coloring to each bowl and mix:

  • Black food coloring to the corn syrup.
  • Blue to the dish soap.
  • Blue & green to the water (keep it lighter than the dish soap).
  • Blue to the oil.
  • Light light blue to the rubbing alcohol.

 

3. Add the ingredients slowly and carefully in the following order:

Corn syrup [wc_fa icon="arrow-circle-o-right" margin_left="" margin_right=""][/wc_fa] dish soap [wc_fa icon="arrow-circle-o-right" margin_left="" margin_right=""][/wc_fa] water [wc_fa icon="arrow-circle-o-right" margin_left="" margin_right=""][/wc_fa]  oil [wc_fa icon="arrow-circle-o-right" margin_left="" margin_right=""][/wc_fa]  rubbing alcohol

4. Add labels to each layer. Done!

Sunlight Zone - rubbing alcohol

Twilight Zone - oil

Midnight Zone - water

Abyss Zone - soap

Trench Zone - corn syrup

Discuss the density of each liquid (relate it back to salt water density experiment). Ask: would salt water be on the same level in this jar as plain water?

 

Are you looking for some easy ocean science experiments? Don't want a ton of materials, money, and time gathering supplies for each experiment? Done and done.

 

I'm not going to lie, I got pretty ticked at this experiment. The dish soap got too dark. Grr. We put 2 drops of red! 2 drops! We were trying to make it purple. Instead, it turned red on top and black everywhere else. Tip: if you have blue dish soap, DON'T dye it at all.

Then the water. Oh the water. It just blended in with the soap. The vegetable oil was separated nicely, though it did bubble up. Then the rubbing alcohol kinda blended in, but made swirls as well.

I let it settle and am hoping to see some separation in the morning. But really, I'm just ticked I wasted 3/4c of dish soap.

Well, the kids did enjoy it, though admittedly, they were sad that it didn't look all awesome and separate. I followed the instructions from Steve Spangler science on how to do the liquid density experiment, but apparently I don't have the correct skill set.

 

I may do this paper and water jar version instead. Depends on our time and energy level.

 

We then read the book Down, Down, Down: A Journey to the Bottom of the Sea. It shows which marine animals live in which ocean zone with beautiful illustrations.

We used our plastic sea animals along with the book to determine which zone they are in and made a chart to match.

 

Shark Buoyancy

Materials

  • Toilet paper roll
  • Marker
  • 3 pennies
  • Balloon
  • Vegetable oil
  • Bowl
  • Water
  • Tape
  1. Draw a shark on the toilet paper roll (or cut out a shark on paper and tape it on).
  2. Tape 3 pennies, equally spaced, on the bottom of the toilet paper roll.
  3. Fill the bowl with water.
  4. Ask: what's going to happen to the shark? Drop the shark in the water and watch him sink. Discuss.
  5. Fill a balloon with vegetable oil, tie closed.
  6. Place the balloon inside the toilet paper roll, evenly.
  7. Observe: it's much heavier now! Ask: what's going to happen to the shark? Place the shark in the bowl of water and watch him float. Discuss!

Are you looking for some easy ocean science experiments? Don't want a ton of materials, money, and time gathering supplies for each experiment? Done and done.

 

Are you looking for some easy ocean science experiments? Don't want a ton of materials, money, and time gathering supplies for each experiment? Done and done.

Are you looking for some easy ocean science experiments? Don't want a ton of materials, money, and time gathering supplies for each experiment? Done and done.

 

The oil in the shark makes him buoyant.

Application and explanation:

ASK: What is holding us to the earth? (gravity). What is gravity?

There is gravity on land AND in the ocean. All the animals in the ocean are being pulled down, just like you are. Gravity holds us to the floor, and all our houses, cars, and toys, too. It also holds the ocean and the animals in the ocean down. But they aren't on the bottom of the ocean floor like you're standing on the floor!

What are they doing? They're floating.

How is this possible? Buoyancy!

ASK: What in the world is buoyancy?

Gravity pulls us down and buoyancy pushes us up! So the fish have made it so they can balance, or float. Many of them have a bladder, kind of like a ball, inside their bodies that is filled with gas. Think of a balloon when it's filled with air. The balloon is that bladder and the air in the balloon is the gas inside it.

Sharks don't have a bladder filled with gas. So what is helping them float? Their bodies do not have ANY bones, instead, they have cartilage. This cartilage is less dense. Remember, when we saw how less dense items floated easier in the water? Your ears and tip of your nose is made out of cartilage, too! Sharks also have a very large liver, and fins that help them steer and stay afloat.

Their bodies are still pretty heavy, of course, heavier and more dense than water. Their fins help them to move forward all the time. They never stop moving!

Their liver is much larger than ours. It's filled with oil, like what we just used in our experiment. It is similar to the bladder in the fish we just talked about. It gives the sharks neutral buoyancy. That means that it's not getting pushed up and it's not sinking down, but staying at the same level.

All of these things combine to help sharks stay afloat and not sink to the bottom of the ocean floor! Pretty cool, huh!?

The kids really loved this one. Their favorite part? Wiggling their ears with wonder as they realized that sharks were made of the cartilage.

How Whales Stay Warm

Materials

  • Crisco
  • 2 Ziplock baggies (sandwich or quart size)
  • Rubber band (big enough to fit around hand)
  • Bowl
  • Water
  • Ice
  1. Fill bowl with water and add lots of ice. You want it cold!
  2. Scoop a bunch of crisco into the first ziplock bag.
  3. Place the 2nd bag inside the first.
  4. Place your hand inside and secure both bags onto your hand with a rubber band.
  5. Squish the crisco around your fingers and hand. Use your free hand to do help. Don't worry, your hand will stay grease free!
  6. Place your free hand into the ice water. Yikes!
  7. Now, place your crisco hand into the water. It's not freezing!

The fat keeps the whales warm!

Are you looking for some easy ocean science experiments? Don't want a ton of materials, money, and time gathering supplies for each experiment? Done and done.

 

When I worked at a wilderness therapy program, we lived and hiked in snowy mountains. We'd hike and sleep in near-blizzards. We only had a tarp, sleeping pad, and sleeping bag to keep us warm (besides our clothes). No tents! We ate bacon at every meal. We added butter to our hot chocolate and anything we were making. We ate as much fat as we could every day to help keep us warm.

I still was freezing cold, so I'm not sure how much it helped, but I'm alive so it must have helped some!

They loved this experiment! They were shocked that their hand didn't get cold at all! It was a pretty cool feeling.

 

Maybe I'll slather myself in crisco when I head to the cold pools this summer? Get a wicked sunburn at the same time. Win-win, right?

You know I'm kidding, right?

Tide Pool

Materials

  • Roasting pan
  • Rocks
  • Sand (optional)
  • Plastic sea animals
  • Water (of course)
  • Clay/Play doh (optional)

Create a tide pool with your rocks. Look at pictures of real tide pools to see what they look like. Layer and build your rocks. Add sand, if you have it and want to.

You can also use play doh or clay to build up your tide pool.

Add in plastic animals in various locations of your tide pool. Try to add those that would actually be in your tide pool and leave out those that aren't.

Fill with water as the high tide comes in... and then empty as the low tide goes out. Then fill again and play!!

We watched a few videos on tide pools. [insert links]

 

Water/Shoreline Erosion

Materials

  • 9x13
  • Sand
  • Water
  • Water bottle
  1. Place sand on one side of the pan. Make it a steep slope
  2. Pour water into the other side, until it's halfway up your sand slope.
  3. Place your water bottle on the end with the water. Push the bottle down to create small waves. Do this, consistently and evenly for 1 whole minute. Write down what you observe.
  4. Push again with your water bottle for another minute. You may make your waves bigger, or keep them the same size. Make observations.

 

Ocean Bottle

Materials

  • Empty ketchup bottle (or other narrow-necked bottle with lid)
  • Corn syrup
  • Blue food coloring
  • Vegetable oil
  • Long spoon

Fill the bottle 1/4 of the way with corn syrup.

Add a few drops of blue food coloring and mix with spoon handle.

Slowly pour in vegetable oil until the bottle is halfway full.

Put cap on. Make sure it's real tight.

Turn the bottle on its side, tilt it slowly so the capped end is down at a slight angle. The corn syrup will crest in the bottle's neck.

Cornmeal Currents

Materials

  • Mixing bowl
  • Water
  • Cornmeal (a pinch)

Fill the mixing bowl with water, almost to the top.

Sprinkle the cornmeal into the bowl.

Blow steadily across the water surface (not into the bowl). Make sure it's not too gentle or too forceful (you can experiment with wind intensity later).

The cornmeal will be swirled around by the currents just as in the ocean. The northern hemisphere is clockwise and the souther, counter clockwise.

Deep-Water Currents

Materials

  • 9x13 pan
  • Water
  • Ice pack (or baggie of ice)
  • Food Coloring
  1. Fill the 9x13 with an inch of water. Make sure the water is room-temperature (or slightly warmer).
  2. Set the ice pack (or baggie) against the edge of one side of the pan (inside the water).
  3. Place 1 drop of food coloring right in front of the ice pack and 1 drop on the opposite side of the pan.
  4. Observe and discuss.

The drop near the ice pack will move forward  because the cold water is pushing the warm water away. The drop on the other side stays there because the cold water keeps it from moving.

 

Penguin Camo

Materials

  • Mason jar
  • Water
  • Craft foam, black & white
  • Glue stick
  • Scissors
  • Black paper
  1. Cut a 2" square out of the black and white craft foam.
  2. Glue them together and cut out a penguin shape.
  3. Fill the mason jar halfway with water and place the penguin, black side down on top of the water. Hold the jar under a light source (lamp, lightbulb, flashlight) and look at the penguin from the bottom of the jar. It should be easy to see.
  4. Now, turn the penguin over, white side down. Now look through the bottom of the jar again. This is the way penguins swim! It's much harder to see now because the light and the white blend together, making it harder for predators to see from underneath.
  5. This time, place the jar on top of the black paper. The black paper represents the darkness of the ocean. Take a look from above the jar to see how the black side of the penguin helps blend into the water from this angle!

 

That wraps up all our ocean science experiments! We had so many great conversations with each experiment and it's always a treasure to hear them talk about and relate other things to the new things they've learned.

As we've studied the ocean these have really added a great depth to their understanding and grasping of each concept. I highly recommend doing as many of these as you can.

If you're on the hunt for even more experiments (simple ones) with accompanying explanations I highly highly recommend the book Awesome Ocean Science! There are many experiments and activities for many aspects of the ocean. It covers all the topics, not just the water portion. I learned quite a bit just thumbing through the book! Seriously, go check it out. You'll thank me later. ;-)

 

Let me know which one your kiddos loved the most! Do you have any other fun ocean experiments for us to try?

Mwah

Ocean Unit Study Vocabulary, Writing, & Geography

  You're all set for the ocean unit study, but need to know the nitty gritty details. Here are the vocabulary, writing, and geography portions of this unit study. Learn an easy and fun way to do map work and vocabulary. Plus, writing prompts!

Here are the vocabulary, writing, and geography portions of the ocean unit study. Learn an easy and fun way to do map work and vocabulary. Plus, writing prompts!

Let's jump right to it.

Ocean Vocabulary

  • abyssal plain
  • algae
  • anemone
  • barnacle
  • basalt
  • buoyant
  • continental shelf
  • colony
  • continental crust
  • continental drift
  • continental slope
  • coral
  • coral reef
  • deep sea trench
  • dorsal fin
  • echolocation
  • estuary
  • faults
  • glacier
  • invertebrate
  • jelly fish
  • lagoon
  • mantle
  • mid-ocean ridge
  • migrate
  • ocean
  • oceanic crust
  • oceanography
  • octopus
  • pectoral fins
  • plankton
  • rift
  • school
  • sea
  • sea mountains (seamounts)
  • sea star
  • sediment
  • shark
  • shore
  • tide pool
  • waves
  • whale

Add words as you come upon them and you'd like to add them to your list. Also, remove words that you don't need or want to cover.

How to learn vocabulary

Our kids fill this Vocabulary Word Map  for each word. You can create a word search puzzle as well for a fun review and recognizing the new words. A fun addition to this puzzle would be to make the word clues the definitions of each vocabulary word.

For the ocean vocabulary, we didn't do the antonyms and synonyms in the word maps.

We're just covering a few terms a day, and some days more than others.

 

Writing assignments

Here's some prompts to get the brain juices flowing (gross).

  • Write a story about your new pet (you can see this in the Ocean Unit Study main post)
  • Write a letter to an organization that works with the ocean or sea life
  • Write a magazine article about an important issue with the ocean/sea life
  • Write a magazine article about your favorite marine animal
  • Write a research paper
  • Write a poem about the ocean
  • Write a story for a young sibling/child
  • Write an email to your grandparents about all you've learned
  • Write a newsletter to your family about all the things you've done and learned

Just so you know, we will NOT be doing all of these writing assignments. For now, we're doing the pet story, and the research paper. After that, I will let each child pick one more writing assignment. But really, that's only if we haven't petered out and decided we were done with the unit study.

Pick and choose, but make sure you do at least one writing assignment. Writing is such an important skill to learn and it's not too early to start.

If you think of a different writing assignment, go for it! These are just to get your brain thinking. I'm sure you can come up with even better ones. Please share them in the comments! For reals.

 

Geography/map work

Here are the oceans, seas, and major rivers we're learning

  • Atlantic
  • Pacific
  • Arctic
  • Indian
  • Southern
  • Caspian
  • Black
  • Red
  • Mediterranean
  • Arabian
  • Amazon
  • Nile
  • Congo
  • Yangtze
  • Hwang ho
  • Tigris
  • Euphrates
  • Indus
  • Volga
  • Danube
  • Rhine
  • Mississippi

How we study geography

Head over to our world map and identify the oceans. Then the seas. Then the rivers-- this is easier with a world atlas (which we are in great need of-- here we come Amazon).

We also look at these with our globe...  Or would have, if Teddy Bear (almost 2) hadn't decided to throw it down the stairs because he thought it was a ball. Now it's dead. But we do have an inflatable globe that works in a pinch.

Just keeping it real.

 

After that we use this technique that I learned from Jessica Hulcy a few years back.

Index card map work

1. Grab an index card for each continent and ocean.

2. Have the kids draw an outline of the continent on an index card. Then, write the name in the middle. Do this for all 7.

Here are the vocabulary, writing, and geography portions of the ocean unit study. Learn an easy and fun way to do map work and vocabulary. Plus, writing prompts!

3. Write the name of each ocean on an index card. You may need two for a few of the oceans (i.e. the Pacific).

4. Place the index cards on a table, or floor. Arrange them to show where they are in relation to one another.

 

Here are the vocabulary, writing, and geography portions of the ocean unit study. Learn an easy and fun way to do map work and vocabulary. Plus, writing prompts!

 

5. Pick them up and place them down again, talking through it. Scramble them up, do it a few more times.

6. Have your children take turns doing it on their own, prompting ONLY when they get stuck. Encourage them to place them as best they can before asking for help.

When they get it wrong I pull the index cards that are placed incorrectly and have them work through it. If a ton are wrong, I'll scramble them all up and go through it again with them.

7. Do this until you feel they've got a handle on it.

 

You will also do the same thing for the various seas. Add the seas in AFTER they have the oceans and continents mastered. You may want to cut each index card in half to show the size.

Here are the vocabulary, writing, and geography portions of the ocean unit study. Learn an easy and fun way to do map work and vocabulary. Plus, writing prompts!

 

Now, pick up all the index cards, arrange the continents, the oceans, and then the seas.

Follow the same procedure done for the oceans.

 

[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dqNXLnIVYBk[/embedyt]

[wc_box color="secondary" text_align="left"]

Here's Animal, 6 (on the left), Little Miss, 8 (middle), and Captain, 9 (on the right). As you can see Animal is super excited, Little Miss has watched her fair share of YouTube tutorial videos. I could barely keep the laughter in, so please forgive any shaking of the camera. :)

[/wc_box]

 

For the rivers you can draw them on the index cards where they are on each continent.

OR

Draw the river on blue construction paper, label it, and then place them on the continent index card. This way, you can also remember the shape and location. If you draw them on, it may not be remembered as well.

 

This is seriously the best way to remember the locations and relationships between locations.

We did this when we learned the 13 colonies and when we studied explorers. My kids learned it so fast. On top of that, I learned them and where they all are in relation to each other. I think that's my favorite part-- not just knowing what the state or country looks like, but where it is in relation to other locations.

Updates

We're going to re-do our index card mapping later this week, or next. We're going to put our continents on a bigger piece of paper and trace the continent from a printed map.

Why not just print them out? Well, it helps the kids learn the shape of the continent better and understand where things are in relation to each bump and point on the outline.

Then we'll cut out the seas into smaller pieces so they're easier to fit in where they belong. We haven't done the rivers yet, but now they'll fit even better on our bigger continent pieces.

When we get the new set done, I'll update this post.


More ocean unit study goodness to come

Now you're ready to go with your vocabulary, geography, and writing portions of the ocean unit study. Stay tuned for the next sections!

We've got ASL, art, science, math, and a final project still to go.

Mwah

 

 

 

Fun & Free Ocean Unit Study Using Fish Toys

I have received Lil Fishys for free and am compensated for my time only. All opinions are honest and were not required to be positive. There are affiliate links in this post.  

The kids and I are starting our much-anticipated Ocean Unit Study and want to invite you to join us on our adventure. Especially since we're using some sweet fish toys to make our studies especially great.

 

Join us in our much-anticipated Ocean Unit Study adventure. We're using some sweet fish toys to make our studies especially great! Plans & schedule included!

 

This summer my mission is to show my kids just how awesome science is. Right now, they think it's lame-sauce. It seriously kills me. I lurv science. We're going to have a ((((SUMMER OF SCIENCE))))  Read that in an echo-y announcer voice. 

I decided to start us on oceans because we were super lucky to get our hands on these awesome fish toys. Inspiration! I'll take it. They're Lil Fishys and are so super fun!! We pulled out the baby pool, filled it with water, and got to playing.

 

Join us in our much-anticipated Ocean Unit Study adventure. We're using some sweet fish toys to make our studies especially great! Plans & schedule included   Join us in our much-anticipated Ocean Unit Study adventure. We're using some sweet fish toys to make our studies especially great! Plans & schedule included   Join us in our much-anticipated Ocean Unit Study adventure. We're using some sweet fish toys to make our studies especially great! Plans & schedule included

How I Introduced our unit study with summer toys

 

While they were playing, we named our new pets (the best kind of pet-- battery operated), and I had each kid pick their favorite one.

 

Join us in our much-anticipated Ocean Unit Study adventure. We're using some sweet fish toys to make our studies especially great! Plans & schedule included

 

Join us in our much-anticipated Ocean Unit Study adventure. We're using some sweet fish toys to make our studies especially great! Plans & schedule included

(Little Miss has even made beds for the fish to sleep in)

After play time, I printed off the coloring page that matched their favorite pet.    

 

Their assignment: color the page, write the pet's name, and then write a story about their pet.

 

Join us in our much-anticipated Ocean Unit Study adventure. We're using some sweet fish toys to make our studies especially great! Plans & schedule included

Join us in our much-anticipated Ocean Unit Study adventure. We're using some sweet fish toys to make our studies especially great! Plans & schedule included

 

If you want to have your own introductory project, grab your own Lilfishys, print off the coloring page, grab some writing paper, coloring pencils (or crayons), and pencils.

 

Here are some writing prompts to get you going:

  • Tell me a story about ______ (name)____.
  • What is ______'s favorite thing to do?
  • What does ______ do all day?
  • Where does ______ like to go?
  • What is _____'s favorite book/movie/etc?
  • One day _________ got stuck on a sunken ship....
  • Oh no! ______'s in danger...
  • Last week ____ met a new friend named _____...

 

This was a super fun way to set the stage for our upcoming Ocean unit study. Throughout the next few weeks we'll be finding fun ways to use our new pets to learn with, as well as play with.

The kids can't wait until the weather warms up, and they can take their fish to the pool. They are great swimming toys. The nice thing is they have plenty of space to play with them in the baby pool even when we can't make it to Grandma's pool.

We'll be using some other fish toys and goodies in our upcoming projects and experiments, so keep reading!

Ocean study resources

Here are all the resources I've cobbled together from our home library, our public library, and lovely lovely Amazon.

[wc_box color="secondary" text_align="left"] Tip: Check your shelves and your library before you go buying stuff! Buy only books that you love and will use more than a few times. [/wc_box]

Books

Ocean: A Visual Encyclopedia (Main book/spine)

Awesome Ocean Science (lots of fun experiments)

Ocean: The Definitive Visual Guide (huge book with beautiful pictures and tons of information)

Eyewitness Books: Fish 

Eyewitness Books: Whale

The Pout-Pout Fish (fiction and adorable)

Here Come the Humpbacks!

A Symphony of Whales

The Magic School Bus: The Ocean Floor

City Fish, Country Fish

Down, Down, Down: A Journey to the Bottom of the Sea (beautiful illustrations)

Water Sings Blue (poetry for Tea Time)

The Best Book of Sharks

Sharks (Easy Reader)

Deep Trouble (Goosebumps book)

Dolphins at Daybreak (Magic Tree House #9)

Dolphins and Sharks (Magic Tree House Fact Tracker)

Whale of a Tale! All About Porpoises, Dolphins, and Whales

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (we're listening to an audio version)

Movies

The Living Sea (also on Amazon Prime)

Eyewitness DVD Ocean

National Geographic Really Wild Animals: Deep Sea Dive

The Ultimate Guide: Dolphins

The Blue Planet (also found on Netflix)

The Magic School Bus: Takes a Dive (also found on Netflix)

Monterey Bay Aquarium live feed

Tide Pool video

Three Ocean Zones

Exploring the Coral Reef

131 Seconds That Will Change The Way You See The Ocean

How Deep is the Ocean?

Bill Nye: Food Web & Ocean Life (found on Netflix)

10 Facts About Great White Sharks

World's Largest Blue Whale

Kingdom of the Blue Whale

Humpback Whale Shows Amazing Appreciation After Being Freed From Nets (I got weepy,! Fantastic video)

Biggest Whales of the Planet

Dolphins: Even Smarter Than You Thought

Misc (including fish toys)

Eyelike Stickers: Ocean

Under the Sea Plastic Sea Life Creatures

Lil Fishy Dipper, Chomps, Lucky, Jawbones, Fishbowl, Jelly Fish

Melissa & Doug Ocean floor puzzle

*** Lil Fishy has a giveaway going on -- be sure to scroll to the bottom so you can enter for a chance to win!***

Unit study subjects covered

 

This week and next I'll be showing you exactly how we do everything so you too can do it. Each post will be a breakdown of the subject. I'll add the links to this post so you only have to remember one post to refer to.

I'm a visual person, I like to see how things actually go down. That's been the most helpful to me as I've been homeschooling and I'm betting that it'll be helpful to you. Here, you'll find the general timeline and plans we've followed.

Join us in our much-anticipated Ocean Unit Study adventure. We're using some sweet fish toys to make our studies especially great! Plans & schedule included

The Plans

I'm leaving it in weekly format for flexibility. Meaning, spread it out over the week, or chunk it in 2 or 3 days. Whatever works for your schedule and life!

Week 1

 

Week 2

 

Week 3

  • Watch Blue Planet (remaining episodes), Monterey Bay Aquarium live feed
  • Read Ocean (remaining sections), and other books
  • Write research article
  • Create animal poster
  • Create ocean diorama (group project)
  • Review map work, vocabulary, and ASL signs
  • Water/shoreline erosion experiment (if time), any other experiment

If you want to keep going, keep going! Add more goodness or take more time with each plan. If we add more to our study I'll add it to the post as well.

[wc_fa icon="angle-double-right" margin_left="" margin_right=""][/wc_fa] As we go through the unit I'll update this post with links to how you too can learn and do all this goodness (i.e. vocabulary words, ASL video, experiment instructions, etc)! :-) [wc_fa icon="angle-double-left" margin_left="" margin_right=""][/wc_fa]

 


Winner Winner Chicken Dinner (but first you gotta enter)

Now, remember I said you'd get a chance to win some Lil Fishy toys of your own? Well, here's your chance. They are so generous to gift 3 winners with a Lil Fishy Aquarium AND a grab bag of Lil Fishy toys.

When they say grab bag, they mean, lots of toys to grab.

Enter here:

ETA: Sorry folks, the giveaway has ended.

 

Join us for the fun instagram challenge! It'll be a fun way to meet other homeschool families and see what fun things they're up to.

Oh, and did I mention 5 MORE chances to win some sweet goodness? Oh yeah. I told you Lil Fishy was generous.

 

Lil Fishys Instagram challenge!!

 

We're also having a Twitter party! Sa-weet! The few twitter parties I've joined in have been massively fun and a great way to connect with new friends and get great ideas and support. Yeah, you guessed it-- PRIZES!

 

Lil Fishys Twitter Party!

 

I hope your family enjoys this ocean unit study as much as we are! Stay tuned for the Head over and watch the Learn ASL ocean signs, as well as all the other activities and projects we're up to.

Oh, and, come back and join us for more ((((SUMMER of SCIENCE))))

Mwah

10 Signs You Need Homeschool Organization Help Immediately

This post may contain affiliate links. This does not change the price for you. :-) Whew. When do you know it's time to up your homeschool organization game? I've got 10 clear signs to share with you that will leave you with little doubt.

If you stick with me through all 10 signs, I've got an easy solution for you. Because, what would be the point of showing you all 10 signs and not giving you a way out of this mess?! There wouldn't be any.

 

It'd just make you sink into a pit of despair to wallow in for months and months only to come out smelling of old rotting soccer socks and a few more un-plucked whiskers on your chin.

Ew.

 

When do you know it's time to up your homeschool organization game? Here's 10 clear signs that will leave you with little doubt + an easy solution.

 

10. You're using books as your homeschool furniture

If you're using stacks of books in place of chairs, boxes of books for your desks, then it's safe to say you have a problem.

It may be time to re-think the storage of your books, or even *shudder* get rid of some.

9. You can't find the dustpan under all those cereal crumbs

If chore time is haphazard, frantic, ineffective, and the last thing you and your kids are able to get done. It just seems easier some days to shove the paper confetti your 3-year-old made out of her craft under the couch than it is to vacuum it up.

It may be time to re-do your chore systems and how you handle your day to day upkeep.

8. Your library fines are larger than your student loans

If you just found a library book that you checked out 4 months ago and are saving up each month to pay off your current library fine. If you spend all day at the library because you can't check any books out due to your overdue fine, you're going to want to establish something, anything, to save your wallet.

Homeschool Organization Sign No. 8

7. You had craft paper in your dinner last night

If there's a landfill's worth of paper on your kitchen table and no place to set your plate during dinner, then it's about time you sent half your paperwork to the burn pile, and organize the rest.

 

When do you know it's time to up your homeschool organization game? Here's 10 clear signs that will leave you with little doubt + an easy solution.

6. You accidentally threw away your child's work for this year's homeschool portfolio

If you did this... then holy crow, I'll cry with you. If your state requires a portfolio to be turned in and evaluated each year and you threw it all away by accident...

It's time to move! ;-)

5. You are considering animal sacrifice to meet this year's homeschooling goals

If your goals for each child just seem like distant dreams, if it looks like you'll never get your child to read, subtract, write his name legibly, or even flush the toilet, we're in the same boat.

You may need to re-evaluate your homeschool goals and the way you approach completing them. Or... maybe you need to set them in the first place. Whoops.

4. Your walk across the schoolroom floor always leaves a counting bear embedded in your foot

If you loathe counting bears, all types of manipulatives, and especially Lego because of all the foot injuries you've encountered over the last year, it may be time to throw them all away.

I kid.

It is time to sort them, store them, and regulate their usage in an easier manner.

3. You do school outside, not because you want to, but because there's no place to sit

If you've got a giant salt dough map on the table, a dioramas sitting on the chairs, laundry and library books on the couch, last week's projects and papers on the floor, and you're currently sprawled out on a picnic blanket on the muddy ground in your backyard... you know it's time.

Time to shove all that stuff under a match.

xspld

2. You bought the same homeschool curriculum 3 times

If you just unearthed the science curriculum that seems really familiar and then your daughter runs up to ask you a question holding the same workbook, and then... ding dong the UPS guy shows up delivering you a box of... that same science curriculum your bank account may be hurting.

You may need to do an inventory of what you have and what you need. And then... get some help on your memory loss problems.

Homeschool Organization Sign No. 2

1. You are stressed, overwhelmed, overworked, lost, burnt out, and your husband (and you) are fed up

If you're just. done. with the stress and overwhelm, but aren't sure what's wrong or what to do, and you want to give up, but you really don't want to give up, it's time for you to get some help, guidance, and support.

Homeschool Organization signs


It's way past time for you to get your homeschool organization under control

Now, I don't want you to feel bad.

I am not telling you all this as an anal-retentive organized cyborg. I am telling you this as a fellow disorganized person.

Hence the need to poke fun at myself (and you) with the exaggerated list. Well, the library fine one is pretty accurate.

 

If you're anything like me you want change, results, and you want it to be easy and as painless as possible.

The Solution

 

When do you know it's time to up your homeschool organization game? Here's 10 clear signs that will leave you with little doubt + an easy solution.

 

The Organized Homeschool Life

Let me tell you WHY it's the solution I need and then let you decide.

  1. I love Melanie Wilson. She's like totes amaze, or whatever the cool kids are saying these days. For real though, she's the real deal, genuine, and has been there (she wasn't born an organized robot, she worked at it -- minus the robot bit).
  2. It's broken up into months, then weeks, and then tasks to spread out each week.
  3. Each task is manageable, straightforward, and relevant.
  4. Each week has a theme, or area to concentrate on.
  5. Melanie encourages you to start where you need to and want to and to never feel a slave to the book. You'll never be behind.
  6. There's an awesome calendar, a month-at-a-glance printable, for you to keep close by so you never forget what's next.
  7. It's not just your actual homeschool room that's covered, but your entire homeschool life, which is really life. Your chores, schedule, marriage, goals, computer, curriculum, and more.
  8. The ideas, tips, and tricks in the book are fantastic! They are the best organization ideas in one book, with easy and simple directions to get you through each task. I think I said that already.
  9. Melanie has created extra freebies to help you even more than what's included in the book.
  10. It is working for me!

I just did a major overhaul of our homeschool room. We literally weren't even using it. We were downstairs, on the couch, floor, and kitchen table.

There's nothing wrong with that, it's just things were getting lost, crumpled, and our focus wasn't the best. Especially MY focus.

Now the room has turned into sweet sweet heavenly bliss. At least, for me. The kids are super excited to start using it this way, and I have dreams of peaceful homeschool days ahead. Well, organized homeschool days ahead. I gotta be realistic.

I would definitely encourage you to buy this book and see how it helps you get your homeschool organization under control and your life as well.

 

Mwah

 

 

 

 

gif via reactiongifs.com

90 Creative Resources to Refresh Your Homeschool

Can you believe this homeschool year is almost over? This is about that time when so many of us are in desperate need of a homeschool refresh.  

We're tired, sluggish, stuck in a rut, and just looking for that great day when someone says it's finally okay to have BBQs and play in the pool all week long.

Until then... we've got to keep at it, amIright?

(Especially for us poor few that homeschool year round!)

 

We need a reset! A warm, fresh breeze to drift push through the stagnant air of our homeschool rooms. We need a new perspective to refresh our days, our curriculum, our approaches.

Is your homeschool stuck in a rut? Do you need help homeschooling high school? Here are 90 creative homeschool resources to give you a much needed refresh.

 

The beauty of this day we live in are the incredible amounts of homeschool resources, connections, ideas, and people we can access literally within seconds.

The downside is there's just. so. much. it can make you crazy.

The iHomeschool Network has taken out the hard work of culling through the thicket of information to present us a package of resources we can trust and depend on.

Welcome The Homeschool Omnibus

This year there are 90 resources to inspire you, to refresh your homeschool, to shake it up and do something different, something creative!

  • 90 resources! 
  • Total value: $420
  • Cost is $25 (6% of the actual value)

Holy smoking cow. That's awesome stuff.

These are 90 resources I wouldn't have thought of on my own (well, except one, because that is one I made) and wouldn't have had time to go searching for.

 

[wc_button type="primary" url="http://www.ihomeschoolnetwork.com/idevaffiliate/idevaffiliate.php?id=185_10_1_45" title="Grab it today" target="self" position="float"]Take me to the Omnibus![/wc_button]

I'm loving these homeschool resources

 

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The Organized Homeschool Life

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Homeschooling with ADHD

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Blueprints For Homeschool Science

[/wc_column][wc_column size="one-fourth" position="last"]

Science and Math: End the Struggle

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[wc_row][wc_column size="one-fourth" position="first"]

Books of History Fine Arts Pages

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Poem Collection 1

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Engineering Unit Study

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You Are Not Alone Collaborative Homeschooling

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Come back over the next 10 days to see exactly how these have refreshed our homeschool life. 

 

If you are a Charlotte Mason-er I'd check these resources out

 

Is your homeschool stuck in a rut? Do you need help homeschooling high school? Here are 90 creative homeschool resources to give you a much needed refresh.

If you are homeschooling high school these are some fantastic finds

 

So often many of the homeschool resources out there are for younger students and our awesome high schoolers are neglected! Well, no more!

 

Is your homeschool stuck in a rut? Do you need help homeschooling high school? Here are 90 creative homeschool resources to give you a much needed refresh.

Struggling homeschoolers and New homeschoolers you're not neglected

 

Well, I did neglect you in that I didn't make a pretty picture to show you all the cool goodies there are for you. Sorry, I'm lame.

However, there are many items just for you to ease you into the homeschooling world if you're a newbie.

At your wit's end? Just don't know how to overcome this giant hurdle sitting in your schoolroom? Scared to contemplate what your next move could be? People telling you to just throw in the towel and ship them to the nearest school?

 

Don't despair! Please. First, take a deep breath and know that I feel for you. It's tough and stressful and can be overwhelming when you try to tackle all the issues you may be facing at once. There are some amazing homeschool moms that have been where you are, and many are still overcoming their own hurdles (aren't we all, really) that have offered up some help for you.

 

One of my favorites is Homeschooling with ADHD. This is something that we definitely need in our home. I have it, and I'm pretty sure a few of my kids do as well.

[wc_button type="primary" url="http://www.ihomeschoolnetwork.com/idevaffiliate/idevaffiliate.php?id=185_10_1_45" title="Grab it today" target="self" position="float"]I want it![/wc_button]

Want to know more?

Here's an awesome catalog for you to check out each title for yourself. There's a nifty flip book for you to peruse, or just download the catalog if that is easier for you.

Is your homeschool stuck in a rut? Do you need help homeschooling high school? Here are 90 creative homeschool resources to give you a much needed refresh.

Check out the catalog. You can also click the picture to head to the catalog.

 

Over the next few days I'll be highlighting some of my absolute favorite resources and how I'm using them. Make sure to check back to see just what I have planned, and maybe you'll be just as inspired and excited as I am.

 

Full disclosure

I have a book in the Omnibus sale! I know, right!? I'm kind of amazing. ;-)

What is it, you ask? I know you're dying to know!

Master the ASL alphabet Workbook & Videos

Master the ASL Alphabet workbook and videos

Since I have a book in the sale, I get a small commission when you purchase through my link. What does this mean for you? Nothing, except for you're the sweetest, most kindest, lovingest person in the world. What does it mean for me? I get a little bit of money to keep paying for this blog. Spoiler: blogs are expensive to run.

 

[wc_box color="primary" text_align="left"]

Wait! As my thanks for your kind and loving support I'll be sending you Master the ASL Numbers Workbook for FREE once it is released (end of May 2016)!

AND! I'll send you my ebook: Celebrate Your Homeschool fo' FREE

[/wc_box]

How do you get this sweet bonus?

Purchase by clicking THIS link (or any of the pink buttons in this post) and then email me your Omnibus receipt to asldoneright @ gmail . com

 

Things to remember

This sale lasts for 10 days ONLY. There are absolutely no extensions or exceptions. At all. The Omnibus sale lasts from today, April 29th until May 8th (Sunday) at 11;59 PM Pacific time.

Cost is only $25

  • Add a DVD copy of the 90 resources for an additional $9
  • Or add a thumb drive copy (good for computers without a DVD drive) for an additional $11

The DVD and the thumb drive are mailed out May 31st.

The good thing about these two options are to keep your hard drive clear of tons of downloads. You can also set aside those resources you may not need right now (save those high school resources if your kiddos aren't yet there), and can ensure that you have a backup copy should anything happen to your beloved computer (knock on wood)!

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I love iHomeschool Network and the wonderful homeschooling mamas that are a part of it. They know their stuff and are so eager to serve and help any and all homeschool families just like them.

 

This sale is only once a year, and only 10 days. I'd hate for you to miss it!

[wc_button type="primary" url="http://www.ihomeschoolnetwork.com/idevaffiliate/idevaffiliate.php?id=185_10_1_45" title="Grab it today" target="self" position="float"]Buy the Omnibus[/wc_button]

 

The Dirty Truth of The Time Required to Homeschool

This post may contain affiliate links. This does not effect pricing for you. At all. 

 

How much time is actually required to homeschool?

Nearly every time I mention I homeschool someone asks me a variation of this question.

When friends come to work with me to figure out how to get started homeschooling, this is one of their biggest concerns and questions.

 

The underlying fear:

Is this going to eat up my entire day?? Will this mean I can't do anything for myself? What if I don't have my day last long enough and ruin my children's lives? What if it's too long and I not only ruin their lives, but mine, and we'll hate homeschooling?

 

Dude. These are all valid fears and concerns.

 

How much time does homeschool really need to take? How much time do you spend worrying that you're not doing enough or you're doing too much? Let's get down to the real truth so you can get some peace. Pin this to help others in your same boat.

 

When I think of homeschooling, I probably think of it in a different way than would-be homeschoolers, new homeschoolers, and those that don't think about homeschooling other than to think of "those homeschoolers."

 

Homeschooling = life. Life-schooling.

 

How much time does homeschool really need to take? How much time do you spend worrying that you're not doing enough or you're doing too much? Let's get down to the real truth so you can get some peace. Pin this to help others in your same boat.

 

Sometimes, it's hard to separate homeschooling from life. You can have blocks of schooling, you can have bursts of schooling, but you know how life works.

 

Got a doctor or dentist appointment? Well, you go to that, and sometimes have to rearrange your routine or schedule to get it done.

 

Garbage! You don't have any food in the house except that expired can of tuna and some stale crackers. Well, you'd better hit the store before you all perish or get botulism.

 

Kids acting up? Someone wrote all over the walls, one kid dumped laundry detergent all over the floor... again. Another kid is in tears over times tables, and another is clamoring for some help with reading.

 

It happens, to everyone.

 

Do you see why I say it's nearly impossible to separate homeschool from life?

 

When you ask, how long does it really take, my answer will typically by, "oh, not long."  That's really just for those that aren't asking for application purposes.

 

Well, I may woo you into loving homeschool by telling you that it won't take long, or that it'll take as long as you'd like it to. Both aren't lies. They just don't involve the typical day-to-day road bumps.

WAIT!

Before you click out of here in a huff of disgust and disappointment, let me break down for you dirty truth of our homeschool day/life and let you see just how much time homeschooling takes for the Barlow family.

 

time to homeschool tweet 1

The BIG Breakdown of Time:

First, you need to know what curriculum we use, as it is a MAJOR factor in our day-to-day operations. My day will look completely different than someone else's day that doesn't use our curriculum.

We use Robinson Curriculum. It's pretty different than a lot of the stuff you'll see out there.

It's self-taught, simple, rigorous, and effective, with a very set schedule.

 

Time Doing Actual Homeschooling

 

Our day looks like this (in an ideal world):

7:00--  Wake up (breakfast, morning routine, quick clean up)

7:30 - 12:30-- School block (1 hour of writing, 2 hours math, 2 hours reading, 30 minutes of play/exercise)

12:30-- Lunch (eat, clean up, and a tiny bit of free time. Put down Teddy Bear for a nap)

1:30--  1 - 2 extra school items (Science, Tea Time, Geography/History, ASL, or Spanish). Done with Mama.

2:30-- The kids are encouraged to learn, explore, and do things on their own. There are no electronics (unless needed for their learning) allowed at this time.

There's also no cap or requirement to the time spent on this. I encourage them to do something. I may give them some free time first and then move back to this time allotment. However, that's dangerous because I may not always get them back on task.

 

For instance:

The Captain has a geography workbook and encyclopedia that he loves. He is obsessed with maps, and so he uses this to work on his map skills and learn all he can about them and reads his encyclopedia over and over again.

 

With RC they encourage you to do school on Saturday as well. At the very least, 2 hours of math. We haven't done this consistently, even less so since I've been so exhausted from pregnancy. We'll be picking this back up soon.

 

We have homeschool co-op once a week, that goes from 9:30 - 2:10, so that does take a whole day away from RC, so I think that I really need to do school on Saturday to make up for that entire day.  I do try to have them do an hour of math and an hour of reading after co-op, but sometimes, I just let them run around with scissors and matches instead.

 

time to homeschool tweet 2

 

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Time Spent Parenting

Isn't this really an all-day thing for every parent? Parenting is never done, unless we're all asleep and dreaming peacefully. Then, perhaps, we're taking a parenting break. Until someone decides to throw up all over their bed...

We dedicate 4 times a day to chores. Whoa Nelly! Four times!?!

Let me explain.

We have 15 minutes of chores after breakfast and lunch. Before dinner (really, before Mr. Barlow gets home) we do family chores. After dinner, we do the last bit of chores for the day.

How much time does homeschool really need to take? How much time do you spend worrying that you're not doing enough or you're doing too much? Let's get down to the real truth so you can get some peace. Pin this to help others in your same boat.

 

This way, there's not a ton of work to be done all at once and I'm not throwing death threats around just to get someone (Sweet Cheeks) to actually pick up that stinking toy after asking 8 times. Hypothetically.

Saturday is "Saturday Cleaning Day." Not my favorite. We'll wake up in the morning, and get to deep cleaning. If all goes well, we'll have it finished in 2 hours.

At least we are listening to music while we're at it!

 

Each Monday we have Family Home Evening. This is where we have a gospel lesson and activity and treat.

Each Sunday we try to have Family Council. This addresses any scheduling, any conflicts that have come up, and any behavioral work we'd like to focus on for that week.

Throughout the week we aim to spend one-on-one time with at least two kids.

Sundays we also make cookies or treats together. Sometimes we eat them and sometimes we share them with others.

Once a month we have a family activity we have picked to do. We'll either do this on a weekend or Monday night.

Discipline issues: I have been using the Love and Logic methodology for years and have loved it. I'm not always consistent, but when I am, life is sweet.

I've recently been introduced to The Absolute Quickest Way to Help Your Child Change, which is written by the man who wrote our writing curriculum, and also uses RC. I love this man and his wife. They're real, kind, loving, intelligent parents and educators. I'm in the middle of reading Fred's book and am really liking it. I'll let y'all know how it goes.

For discipline, my husband and I are take-no-nonsense kind of parents. We have high expectations for our children and believe they can live up to them. We teach them to be responsible, kind, respectful, conscientious, polite, reverent, and to work hard.

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How much time planning takes

The beauty of RC is that I don't have to plan. Practically at all. We have the books printed out (or as ebooks), the math curriculum ready to go, and lots of paper and pencils.

 

Each day they grab their math books (we use Math-U-See for now) or their flashcards and they get to work. They teach themselves and they correct their own work. Anything they miss they correct.

They can write based on the curriculum we use, The Writing Course, or they do copywork (youngers), or write whatever they feel like. They hand it to me and I make some edits on the papers. I hand it back to them and they fix them.

Reading is two-fold. They work on their vocabulary/spelling from their readings and they also read. There's a huge list of books they are to read. They're printed out and I have them on our readers and tablets. They read them. We talk about them at dinner. If there's a test that goes along with the book, they take that test.

 

Anything else we do, the extra stuff is the part that takes planning.

We are using Apologia Science: Flying Creatures this year, along with the Notebook and the Junior Notebook.

We also are using their Around the World in 180 Days and workbook. This means, I need to make sure we have the supplies for the experiments and the books and resources from the library.

For art, I just need to make sure we have supplies and ideas. I'll pop over to my Pinterest art board, grab a book from the library or bookstore, or use our drawing book.

Tea Time happens once a week. I just grab a family read aloud, a poetry book, and a picture of a piece of art. It doesn't really matter which ones, I just grab it and go.

ASL, since I teach this already, I go ahead and teach it. I sometimes use my own videos, or I just sit them down and work on it.

Spanish, we are trying out a new curriculum this year, since my kids begged me to learn Spanish as well. I'm pretty excited about it, and I'll tell you all about how it's going for us really really soon! (Look forward to that post!)

Seriously, it couldn't be easier and more stress-free. It probably takes me around 20 minutes total to go through each subject for the week and write down what we need.

I try not to plan much in terms of what we'll be doing, I just focus on moving to the next part so I don't get caught up in planning since planning makes me feel like I'm choking on a hippo.

 

That's a real thing.

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Time in Outside Activities

The Captain and Little Miss are in a Homeschool Co-op. They meet once a week, it does take up a whole day (9 - 2), but it's been great for them to make friends.

Little Miss is in dance, that's once a week, for an hour.

The Captain is in basketball and that's twice a week, with a game once a week. The great thing is, Mr Barlow is his coach!

The Animal will be starting soccer next month and that's once a week practice with a game once a week as well.

The Captain wanted to be in gymnastics again this year, but I don't know why we never enrolled him. I'm not sure what to do now. If we enroll him once basketball is over (this month), will it be worth it if we can't keep it up over the summer? Summertime is usually our tight-budget time since my transcription work is only during the school year.

We don't have any other outside activities beyond that. I'll be teaching them piano (just need to paint and bring it out of the garage), and I would like to have them learn a string instrument (I know piano is a string), but goodness, the money!

My goal: each kid in a sport and musical instrument. With 6 kids, I'm going to need to start doing something illegal to make that happen!

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The BIG Summary (but not really big, big):

You can see that our time spent homeschooling technically takes up 6 hours of our day. However, add in all the other goodness, and it's your whole day.

I do have a part-time job (early in the mornings, 5 - 9 am), I blog, and I run an ASL course. I am also a volunteer at my church, working with adult women. I am always doing something with or for them each week and hold a monthly activity as well.

I have a loving husband that I try to spend as much time with as possible. I am also pregnant with #6, and that zaps my energy, along with the hashimotos and adrenal fatigue I deal with.

It's possible to homeschool AND...

  • Be YOU and pursue your goals and dreams
  • Take naps
  • For your days to be shorter than mine
  • Work
  • Cope with various health issues
  • Have a crazy life
  • Have a new baby
  • Be pregnant and throwing up constantly
  • Enjoy life

 

The dirty truth:

How much time does homeschool really need to take? How much time do you spend worrying that you're not doing enough or you're doing too much? Let's get down to the real truth so you can get some peace. Pin this to help others in your same boat.

 

How long does homeschooling take your family? What is your ideal day?

 

time to homeschool tweet 3

 

HomeschoolingTimeTakes

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Can't Keep Up? 12 Ways to Simplify Your Homeschool Day

This post may contain affiliate links. This doesn't change the price for you at all. 

 

I'm all about keeping homeschool simple.

Well, I should say, I am NOW all about keeping homeschool simple.

When I first started many moons ago, I pretty much made it as complicated as can be. Unfortunately, that seems to be my natural inclination.

I plan, plan, plan some more, and then over-plan on top of that. I dream big, plan big, and then fail big.

I'll get exhausted from planning, preparing, buying the materials, prepping and organizing them that when it comes to Get-It-Done-Day I'm tapped out and taking a nap. For a month.

 

Then I feel like a failure and the cycle begins again.

No bueno. No bueno at all.

 

Now, I keep it simple and my life has never been easier and happier. In fact, sometimes it feels too easy and I get that panic feeling deep inside until I remind myself that no... this is right. Let go of that need to try and be all and do all and plan all.

 

When we find ourselves worn out, exhausted, and tapped out when it comes to homeschool, something has to change. Here's 12 ways to simplify so you can breathe and enjoy homeschooling once again. Click through to find easy actionable steps for you to take

The 12 Ways to Simplify Your Homeschool

I want the same thing for you. Let me share with you 12 simple tips to keep it simple and let go of the homeschool day bloat and planning overwhelm.

1-- Get Real

Don't lie to yourself. Don't self-sabatoge, don't set such ridiculous expectations on yourself that you can't possibly succeed. That's not fair.

Get real. What can you do today? What isn't going to happen? Tackle today and then move on to the next tomorrow.

If you find yourself regularly having to ditch some things it's time to re-evaluate.

  • Is there a way to make things easier? Brainstorm some solutions and implement one at a time.
  • Is there something that needs to be dropped? Drop it and don't look back.
  • Is there something that you need to make sure happens that's not? Look at what's keeping you from accomplishing that item. Try a new approach.
  • Is it that you need to prep ahead of time?
  • Do you not have money in the budget or time to buy all those little supplies you need (this was me with Unit Studies... good grief, that was a lot of little stuff, feathers, walnut shells, sand shakers??)?
  • Do you lack motivation?
  • Are you trying to cram too much in one day?
  • Are you trying to do it at a time where you're worn out, burnt out, hungry, or tired? Pick a different time to do it at.
  • Do you just hate that subject?
  • Is there someone else that can help you tackle it?

Take an honest look at your days, evaluate and get real.

 

Drop the idea that you're going to be Wonder Woman + Mrs Beaver + Mrs Brady + Batman + Albert Einstein + Emily Dickinson + Vermeer + Bach + Inspector Gadget all rolled into one.

I've already filled that position: it's not up for grabs.

I kid, I kid. I know, it wasn't funny. It was a lame joke, but hey, that's what happens when your only audience is a bunch of children who think everything is funny. Your comedy routine suffers.

But at least they think I'm funny. My mom gave up on me years ago.

2-- Focus Up

 

When we find ourselves worn out, exhausted, and tapped out when it comes to homeschool, something has to change. Here's 12 ways to simplify so you can breathe and enjoy homeschooling once again. Click through to find easy actionable steps for you to take

 

Sure, you may have found amazing things to do with your kids. Those crafts, those experiments, those projects, those printables, those games, those those those those those... brain explosions.

xspld

 

What is it you want for your child? For yourself? For your home? Really think about it. Drill down to the most important things (use a paper and pen) and cross off those things that would sure be nice, but aren't really fitting in to the main idea.

Whenever you are making a decision about your schedule, curricula, plans, and extras pull out that list. Does it fit the big picture? If so, do it, or plan a time to do it at another date. If not, drop it and don't look back.

DON'T look back.

3-- Stop Looking

We Homeschool Mamas have a major weakness: looking for new things to use to teach our children.

We look at what Suzie, Joanna, Amy, and Trina are doing and what their kids are accomplishing and think... "maybe my kids would do XYZ if they had LMNOP too."

We think to ourselves, "sheesh, they're really struggling with math, what other resources are out there to help me help them?"

This quickly snowballs and all of a sudden we've got a new set of books, several sets of manipulatives, more extras, and a membership to a practice site.

 

Stick with what you've got. Give it a good solid go for a good length of time. If something is not working, first, look to see how you can use what you have, either in the actual curriculum or with the materials you have laying around your house.

After a good college try (more than a week) with that goodness, if you don't have success, then start to look at other resources.

Just set a limit before you begin to research.

 

Find a different approach to the problem and use what you have at hand. Don't let curriculum hunting be your hobby.

When we find ourselves worn out, exhausted, and tapped out when it comes to homeschool, something has to change. Here's 12 ways to simplify so you can breathe and enjoy homeschooling once again. Click through to find easy actionable steps for you to take

 

4-- Keep looking*

Okay, I just said *don't* look for a new curriculum. I may or may not have lied to you.

Well, I didn't really. You do need to stop shopping (I see you clicking around over there).

However, our homeschool life changed when we found a ultra-simple yet ultra-effective curriculum. It fit our lifestyle, it fit my homeschool priorities, it was quality, it was self-teaching, and it was super duper simple.

Like, I can wake up and not have to think about what we're going to do every day. It's just there, ready to go, always.

*If you can find a similar solution for yourself, do it. Otherwise, put the internet away and get back to homeschooling.

5-- Cull Your Schedule

Take an honest look at your schedule. Make it work around your family's natural rhythms and not someone else's.

 

I love Confessions of a Homeschooler, but I really really can't do their schedule no matter how hard I tried at first. Not that Erica advocates for us to use her schedule. I just really wanted to be her. Or at least have her homeschool.

Set a designated time for your school. How long do you want your day to last?

We use Robinson Curriculum, so we have a very set schedule that really really works for us: 2 hours of math, 1 hour of writing, 2 hours of reading. Then they have the rest of the day for chores, play, and extra learning they're interested in.

This way of doing school has really been freeing for me and the kids. We get our boundaries and our flexibility. We have a routine and schedule without feeling like we're set in cement and dying.

 

Oh... wait, that's just me.

frg

 

Find what works for you, then for your kids. Then cull the rest. Keep your schedule simple. Don't over schedule yourself; don't micromanage yourself.

You don't need to assign every minute a task. Especially if you're a person like me that loves the idea of a schedule but dies inside the minute she has to live it. Then you rebel and the guilt/shame cycle renews. But hey, you're free now.

Here's a way to schedule if you need some ideas on where to start. 

6-- Drop the Excess Planning

You're a planning maniac that has literally turned into a literal maniac. Why are you creating extra work for yourself when all you really need to do is just not... do that?

ngry

Can we just take a second to point out how freaky her eyes are? Yikes! Make it stop.

 

Is what you're using currently helping you or is it causing more stress/anxiety/work? If so, let's find a new method.

Look at #8 and use the same thing for yourself. Find a planner that speaks to you. I've used the Weekly Homeschool Planner with great success.

I love that it is blank, customizable, and there's no distracting colors. I love cute things, but gosh, they clutter my brain fast.

I can change that planner to be anything I want it to be and only print out what I need.

I also write in pencil and use post-its on it so I can move things around without stressing myself out.

Now that I use RC I don't really need this whole planner anymore. I just do our 5 hours, add in a few extras here and there and call it good. It's beautiful and thorough.

7-- Clean it Up

Make your chore time simple. Here's a chart I recently made that we're trying out:

When we find ourselves worn out, exhausted, and tapped out when it comes to homeschool, something has to change. Here's 12 ways to simplify so you can breathe and enjoy homeschooling once again. Click through to find easy actionable steps for you to take

(TC 9yo, LM 8yo, TA 6yo, SC 4yo)

It seems complicated, but it's really not. I've broken up the chores into different times of the day to spread out the workload and have chore time faster. What used to be overwhelming to the kids at the end of the day is now manageable and a lot less painful. It makes for a simpler day because of its ease, speed, and a lot less tantrums (myself included, of course).

 

Make sure you realize I said we're TRYING it out. If it doesn't work, it doesn't work and we move on. I expended 20 minutes of time making that schedule and hanging it up on the fridge. I didn't even use colored ink.

8-- Spirals

Ditch the cute checklists, the over-thought, over-complicated ways of giving assignments. Pull out a spiral notebook for each child, write their assignments in it the night before and they check it off as they complete each assignment. They can also retrieve their own materials.

Here's some great information on how to pull this off

 9-- Ditch It

I tried workboxes. I hated them. I felt like it was a ton more work for myself, plus, half of my stuff wouldn't fit in the daggum things. Annoying much?!

If I forgot to fill them, it just ruined my day or delayed my day, which could very well ruin our homeschool day if I let it. Some days, I did let it.

 

I tried different systems and I found one that semi-worked for us.

I wound up, in the end, just having a magazine holder for each kid and putting their stuff in it. They also had a locker basket with some of their supplies in it. Each was color coordinated to match a child. They grabbed their stuff needed and did what matched their spiral notebook assignments, materials at the ready.

 

So basically, not workboxes.

 

If you find that workboxes don't work for you, don't despair. Here's an interesting solution that actually combines the spiral notebooks with the workboxes. I thought you might like it.

 

When we find ourselves worn out, exhausted, and tapped out when it comes to homeschool, something has to change. Here's 12 ways to simplify so you can breathe and enjoy homeschooling once again. Click through to find easy actionable steps for you to take

 

Otherwise, find or make up your own solution, or ditch it all together. Some people find workboxes simplify their day, and some don't. No biggie.

10-- Pre-Make

You've heard of breakfast stations right? Or making ahead your lunches so they're ready to go? Now, this takes some pre-planning and prep work, but in the thick of the day, it can save your bacon (I totally said that cliche on purpose).

If your baby is extra fussy and needs some lovin', your kids can head to the kitchen and grab their own breakfasts. Then they can get going with their day without waiting for mom to feed them before they starve to death... meanwhile, said baby is breaking the sound barrier with her cries of agony from an unknown origin.

Lunch time rolls around and you're caught up helping a kid with his reading and you don't want to stop the momentum you have to feed the rest of the kids.

Does that sound really mean? Whoops.

They can head to the kitchen, grab the pre-made lunch and wham-o, problem solved. Kids are fed and CPS isn't banging on your door for not feeding your kids lunch at the right time. Not that they do that... but still... you never know nowadays.

Here are some resources you may find helpful:

10 Make Ahead Lunches Done the Lazy Way

Make Ahead Cold Lunches (A Week's Worth in a Day)

Make Ahead Lunches

Self-Serve Healthy Snacks for Kids

DIY Breakfast Station

       Follow Rochelle Barlow's board School Lunches and Snacks on Pinterest.

 

11-- Create Procedures

Dude, Pam is a genius. She came up with a procedure list idea to plan how to use her various curricula. She takes the resource, lists out the steps to use it and in the order of operation. Now, each time she pulls out that resource she knows exactly what to do without having to re-think the process out each time. What a great use of brain power and time. I'm all about efficiency.

Pam breaks it down even more for you, if you're interested, along with a great example.

12 -- Just the Essentials, Ma'am

Did I say this one already? Whoops. But not really.

What is it you want your children to learn? List them in order of priority. Do the essentials, cut the rest. Or at the very least, keep the non-essentials at a manageable, simplified version.

Related: 11 Tips For a Peaceful First Homeschool Year

Can't Keep Up? 12 Ways to Simplify Your Homeschool Day

Can't keep up? 12 Ways to Simplify Your Homeschool Day

Can't Keep Up? 12 Ways to Simplify Your Homeschool Day

Your challenge:

That's a wrap for our 12 ways to simplify your homeschool day! I would really love two things.

1) For you to pick one of these and use it in your homeschool. Don't let it stress or freak you out, just give it a whirl.

2) I'd absolutely love to hear your ideas on how to simplify your homeschool day. I may be all those amazing people rolled into one (har har), but I still don't know everything. Where I have found to simplify my day, that's great, but there are other areas that probably could use simplifying that I hadn't thought of yet.

Share and share away!!

Mwah

 

 

 

 

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9 History Books for Reluctant Readers to Fall in Love With

I received these books for free and compensated only for my time. These are my real opinions, no fluff or fake sunshine here.   

I don't know about your home, but my kids are strange reading beasts.

I love to read and have loved to read since I can remember. When I say love, I mean looooove, as in I'm a middle schooler crushing on my latest Teen Bop Magazine, writing my married name and my crush's initials all over my paper, love.

Ya feel me?

9 History Books for Reluctant Readers to Fall in Love With

 

Then there's my children. They aren't obsessed. Not even mildly. I have to enforce reading time. Where I got in trouble for reading too much, they don't read enough and it hurts my heart.

Well, no more! I am officially on the hunt for books that speak to my children, so they too can get in trouble for reading too much! ;)

Enter Candlewick Press.

 

My kids love history, especially ancient history. With that in mind, I knew these 9 books were the way to go. I was right!

The kids' top 3 favorite books

https://youtu.be/y4_EXD2Momk

https://youtu.be/MA4bfxdkgRU

 

How we are using our new history books

Ancient Greece

The Odyssey -- by Gillian Cross and Neil Packer

Mom's Review:

This was the biggest success to me. I could not stand The Odyssey. I knew it was a fantastic story and was something that could not be missed in my children's education. I just didn't like it. At all.

I am so glad I got it. It is amazing. The book is written for 12 years old and up, but my children have had no trouble at all with it. In fact, they love it. It's full of adventure, wars, scary, creepy things. My kids love that kind of stuff. No wilting flowers in this house!

The writing is superb and the pictures are gorgeous! My son even loves the pictures.

We are reading this together as a family and my kids are engrossed. These are the kids who make faces during family read aloud time and barely pay attention to the story. They are riveted to this book. They didn't want me to stop reading!

Win!!!

Application Activity

When we're finished with The Odyssey, we're going to create a board game!

We started to sketch it out as we read the book so we don't miss or forget anything important, or any fun details that can really make the game fun.

After we have designed it, we'll create it, and then make a video playing it. As we get more into the game making phase I'll do a special post (or series of posts). I know it's going to be amazing! My family is a board game family.

9 History Books for Reluctant Readers to Fall in Love With

 

Greek Myths for Young Children -- by Marcia Williams

Mom's Review

I love how much my eldest son loves this book. He was giggling, laughing, and wanted to point out every little thing he read. He sat down for an hour straight after I handed him the book and didn't want to stop when it was lunch time.

Is that my son? Yes, yes it is. Sweet victory.

He's reading and he's learning.

What I love about the book is that the myths are accurate and yet they are not so graphic and horrible as I remember them being when I was younger.

You aren't going to have pretty pictures, there is a picture of Prometheus having a bird eat parts of his insides (yuck), but it's the cleanest safest way you could draw it while staying true to the story. My kids aren't squeamish so I wasn't worried about this part.

Application Activity

My kids each will select their favorite story and then we are going to act it out freeze-frame style. What does that mean?

Since the book is a comic book, the kids will be one picture at a time as they act it out. They just hold their position, looking as much like the picture as they can. I'll take a picture of it. Then we'll compile each picture into a homemade book and they can decorate the book and add little speech bubbles and narration (in their own words) of the story.

This is going to be a blast! I have a post already in the works for this.

9 History Books for Reluctant Readers to Fall in Love With

Medieval Ages

Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! -- by Laura Amy Schiltz

Mom's Review

I have mixed feelings about this book. I was thinking it was going to be more of a breakdown of what life was like in the castle in the medieval ages. It is, but it's not at the same time. The book is full of monologues and dialogues for children to perform instead.

The monologues and dialogues are absolutely brilliant. It may not be what I expected to read, but it was a great pick.

Application Activity

My kids may struggle to memorize such long passages to perform, but I think it will be something worthy of attempting as we get nearer to the end.

As we study castles and the medieval ages this winter the monologues will all be read and discussed. I know they will love that each monologue is a child telling their story.

 

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight -- by Michael Morpurgo and Michael Foreman

Mom's Review

My sons are over the top thrilled to be reading a book about a green knight and dragons, and fighting, and swords. My 3 year-old daughter is pretty into it as well. She's off sword fighting while we're reading.

Application Activity

This is one we're reading together as a family. We are incorporating our art into a final project for this book and painting our favorite scene on a canvas to hang in our school room.

 

9 History Books for Reluctant Readers to Fall in Love With

 

Castle Diary -- by Richard Platt and Chris Riddell

Mom's Review

I had to have this book. It's a journal of a young boy becoming a page to his uncle. It is so awesome. Each day there is an entry with him telling what he is doing and how he feels. There are fantastic pencil drawings that give great enhancement to the story.

My eldest really enjoyed a drawing about the different types of horses they used for various tasks. He then went through the book and found all the different horses shown and compared them to the first drawing.

I love that the picture doesn't take away from the text, but adds another layer to it.

He really enjoyed this book and devoured it. He was a bit broken hearted when I told him that Tobias wasn't a real kid.

Application Activity

My son is picking a new skill he is learning this year and is going to document it each day on what he does and what he thinks about it. He will draw simple pictures as he feels inspired. The hardest part for him is picking which skill he's going to document.

 

The Romans

 

The Romans: Gods, Emperors, and Dormice by Marcia Williams

Mom's Review

This one is similar to Greek Myths, but with just a bit different format. It is another winner. My kids are totally in love with this style of reading and I'm a pretty big fan as well. I love a little switch up with our reading. So many of the books we read every day are living and whole books. Which are fantastic and lovely.

I love to infuse in some fun to our homeschool because we are a family that laughs and does goofy stuff.

My eldest daughter was a bit reluctant at first to read it since she said there was naked people in it and it was gross.

There aren't naked people in it. The man was just shirtless. When she read it with her brother after he was determined to show her otherwise, she laughed and enjoyed it. I think she was just trying to be dramatic. Oi.

Application Activity

For this book we will draw our own comic strip to show what our life is like during a typical week. We are using a big sized drawing pad that I got at Target. They are using their rulers to draw their own boxes and then coloring the pictures with whatever medium they wish.

9 History Books for Reluctant Readers to Fall in Love With

 

Roman Diary -- Richard Platt and David Parkins

Mom's Review

I knew my daughter would love this book. She loves to read stories about girls and their lives. This was the first book she dove for. She read quite a bit through it. She loves that there's a glossary and index at the end of the book that helps her learn the tricky words.

She was a bit perplexed about why this girl was a slave. She hopes that at the end of the book she won't be a slave anymore.

Application Activity

My daughter will also have a project similar to my son's. She is starting her own diary (with  her lock on it) and is writing about her adventures and daily life. She is going to focus on something that is challenging for her and the stories of her days.

She already has filled a back log of her life and doesn't need any prodding from me to write in her diary. In fact, I have to tell her to put it down so she can get other things done. Mean mom, I know.

General History

9 History Books for Reluctant Readers to Fall in Love With

 

Mesmerized -- by Mara Rockliff and Iacopo Bruno

Mom's Review

I love American history, so this book was a must!

The illustrations and typography are gorgeous! They make this book lovely. I love the natural working in of the Scientific Method. It is a fun story that had my children giggling.

Application Activity

Design our own experiment and use the steps similar to Benjamin Franklin. Use our science notebook to record our observations and conclusion.

 

Maps -- by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski

Mom's Review

I knew my kids were going to fall all over themselves to read this book and I was right! This book is huge! I mean that in a good way. It's the size of a typical coffee table book.

The illustrations are beautiful. They have this lovely vintage feel to them that are simple, yet detailed.

Each continent is broken down into chapters and then a few countries from each continent are featured with a full 2-page spread.

9 History Books for Reluctant Readers to Fall in Love With

Application Activity

The kids are writing research papers this year. They are picking one of the countries featured in the book and will use the illustrations that are used to represent different aspects of the country as a jumping off point for their research.

My daughter loved to see what the girls and boys looked like and their names and clothes they wore. My son loved the facts about the country size, the language, the flag, and the population size.

They both adored the drawings of the animals, people, and all the little things in each country.

This is a fantastic book to pull out when you just want to look at something fascinating and beautiful. This book will be used quite a bit when the kids are waiting for me to help them with their school work when I'm working with another kid. It's also a fantastic book to sit and find new things and learn at the same time.

 

They're reading their books with joy!

9 History Books for Reluctant Readers to Fall in Love With

 

It does a mom's heart good to see this.

Our family has been blessed by these new additions to our library. My children are eager to read the books and there is no greater joy than to see the world inside a book open up to a child.

Final Thoughts

Pick books that contain topics that will draw your children in, even if they may not be your favorite subjects. My son loves nonfiction and my daughter loves reading about people. My younger kiddos love adventure and humor. The youngest love seeing seeing children and animals.

When you add activities to your books, don't overthink it. What naturally flows with the reading. Above all else, make sure it doesn't take away from the book and the love of reading it.

If it becomes too much, you'll all resent the project.

Don't give in too easily, but make sure it is actually worth it to do and not just something to do.

Here's the whole list of all the books we received so you can have a handy dandy list so you too can grab these treasures!

 

The Odyssey -- by Gillian Cross and Neil Packer

Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! -- by Laura Amy Schiltz

Castle Diary -- by Richard Platt and Chris Riddell

Roman Diary -- Richard Platt and David Parkins

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight -- by Michael Morpurgo and Michael Foreman

Greek Myths for Young Children -- by Marcia Williams

The Romans: Gods, Emperors, and Dormice by Marcia Williams

Maps -- by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski

Mesmerized -- by Mara Rockliff and Iacopo Bruno

 

Check out all the Candlewick has to offer -- I guarantee you're going to find THE perfect book for your child.

Follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest (fantastic boards), and YouTube.

 

 

 

 

 

The Homeschool Omnibus is here! Grab the 90 Creative Resources to Refresh Your Homeschool

Top 10 Tips For Homeschooling A Large Family: Tips 2 & 1

Did you have a tear slip slowly down your cheek too? Yeah, I know. It's the last day of the top 10 tips for homeschooling a large, and awesome, family.

Either you're crying with sorrow that it's over, or you're crying with joy because it's over (and now you can get to work... not that you were suffering, right?).

 

ten tips large family 5 header

 

The tips were so hard to put in order of importance. In a week, they could change. However, these last two tips were the ones I needed most to go from stressed and overwhelmed to feeling like a homeschooling supermom.

I'm even wearing my Wonder Woman T-shirt today to prove it.

#2

Your plan is set, that picture in your head is almost 100% clear. You ask yourself, "what will the day-to-day be like, though?"

Set your daily and weekly schedule to fit your personality and lifestyle.

This is best done by picking the scheduling method that suits you and gleaning from excellent examples, without copying.

Schedule Types

Set time schedule

You wake up and are ready at the same time, reading is always at 10 AM, lunch is always at 12:30, etc.

Robinson curriculum is similar to this. You read 2 hours a day, math 2 hours a day, and writing 1 hour a day. Without fail. It's encouraged to do this bright and early in the morning and be done at lunch.

Routine

Routine is that you do certain things in an order, but you don't care what time you do it at. reading could be at 9:23, lunch at 11:45, and history could have gone on for a lot longer than normal.

Block Schedule

Your school times are in chunks of time. You do your core subjects (3 R's) in the AM block, have lunch at a set time, and then do your other subjects after lunch.

When we were using Konos (unit studies) this is what we did. The 3 R's in the morning, and then our Unit Studies in the afternoon. I later switched it to Unit Studies in the morning and then the 3 R's in the afternoon because I was more consistent with them this way.

Rhythm Homeschooling

This is fairly new to me, but it's a different thing each week. Basically, you have a small set schedule and you have goals for each day and you allow those to dictate where you're going and what you do that day. It's got boundaries, yet it's completely flexible.

 

plan to be flexible quote

 

In her book, Plan to Be Flexible, Alicia goes much much more in-depth and she might be unhappy with me for not explaining it well. Don't punch me!

This book really resonated with me, her story and mine seem so similar and her pains are mine. She's got it figured out and I don't. This is a book I'm going to have to read twice and take better notes in to figure it all out.

Loop Scheduling 

This is where you list out all the curricula you use, how frequently you need to use it and then you put it in a rotating order. You can have it for a whole week, month, or quarter. So you go down the list and check off each as you complete them and move to the next item.

For instance: 

  1. Science 12x/quarter
  2. Art 6x/quarter
  3. History 12x/quarter
  4. Music 10x/quarter
  5. etc

You'd make your list: science, art, history, music, science, history, music, science, art, history, music, etc

You'd go science, and when you were done, you'd move to art, then history. This is so that if you do history and it takes all day Monday, it didn't ruin any plans, you will just do music on Tuesday and continue from there. You may do lots that day, or you may do one. This just helps you keep on track without feeling the burden of being "behind." There's no such thing.

I'll explain this one more another day. :)

 

In the end, you pick one of these, or any other you've heard of, that meshes well with your personality. As much as I wish I could live by a set time schedule, I immediately feel trapped and stifled and crazy.

You can do a combination of the two. We'll be doing a routine/loop schedule this year. As I read more of rhythm based homeschooling I'll move over to that.

Schedule Resources

Weekly Homeschool Planner -- I've been using this planner since the beginning of time. It's fantastic!

Family Homeschool Planner 2015-2016 -- I just found this one via the Omnibus sale, and I absolutely love it! I love all the extras it has.

#1

It's so easy to let things get in our way or self-sabotage our greatest efforts and plans. Your mental mindset is the final piece. Be reasonable, yet firm, with yourself and your family. Create support, accountability, and a backup plan.

ten tips large family 5 pin

Expectations.

Be realistic, but don't be milquetoast. If something's not working, figure out why. Maybe it's YOU (or your child) that needs a reset or encouragement.

Set expectations for yourself, not unreasonable ones though. Decide what you expect out of yourself and what you expect from your children. Do not budge.

Be flexible.

Tweak when necessary, change after evaluation, and let go of impossible standards.

[Tweet "Tweak when needed, change after eval, and let go of imposs standards. #homeschool"]

When you set expectations that doesn't mean that you need to be super homeschooling mom. That doesn't mean your children are all going to win the Nobel Peace Prize. This also doesn't mean you have to do what Suzie at Iamthebesthomeschoolmomintheworldandyoullnevermatchme.com is doing.

Let go of days that just didn't go how you wanted or planned or expected. Count all the victories, no matter how small. They do count. If something isn't working out, figure out how to make it work for you, not you working for it.

Be persistent.

Be consistent. Push even on those days that are killing you. Push a little more before you call a "day off" of homeschooling.

Those days are good to have, just don't let it become a pattern or that automatic backup plan. Have other strategies in place first.

Find someone to reach out to for you to be held accountable. This is helpful during those times when homeschooling is the last thing you want to do that day.

In summary

Tip #2: Routine + schedule + rhythm

Tip #1: Expectations + Flexibility + Persistence

[Tweet "Know that you've got this! #homeschool #tips"]

You have got this!

 

What has been the most helpful tip for you?

 

 

 

 

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Top 10 Tips For Homeschooling A Large Family: Tips 4 & 3

You're so close to figuring out homeschooling and your swarm of children. par

Or....maybe not. ;)

You're still just not seeing the WHOLE picture or how it all goes together.

These two tips will help fit some of the final pieces together in your mind. That picture will begin to form more wholly and beautifully!

tips for homeschool large family 4

#4

You're searching everywhere, reading everything, trying to figure out how to keep homeschooling your children. There's so many systems, and methods, and suggestions your brain is cramping.

Design your own game plan that combines methods into what works for YOU.

Go to your favorite resources and people to find the plans and suggestions that most appeal to you.

NOT what you think you should be doing. What you think would work FOR your family. Pick what will fit and throw the rest out.

Some resources I've used

Blueprint Homeschooling  -- Some serious goodness here!

Plan to Be Flexible -- Love!

Your Retreat: A Guide to Giving Yourself a Personal Planning Day -- So encouraging!

[Tweet "Your #homeschool plan should be designed for your family, not someone else's. "]

Write/draw it all out so you can see it.

Here's how I've done that.

I will say that I don't have pictures for you and I know how much those help. The huge poster I had filled out got smashed in our move. I just keep forgetting to grab a new poster every time I go to the store. Which I did tonight, I eyed the posters and thought, I think I need one of those... and kept on wheeling through.

But, I DID get to see Captain Hook (minus the hook).

Take out a piece of paper for each kid, even the baby.

  1. Write their name at the top
  2. List out every subject they do
  3. Underneath each subject list each piece of curriculum or resource you use (within reason)
  4. Grab some highlighters (or something similar)
  5. Highlight every piece of curriculum that requires Mom to be with them when they use it. Use the same color for this across all the papers.
  6. Highlight every piece of curriculum that needs some, but not full, one-on-one time. Medium help from mom (give instructions, help set it up, etc.); use the same color.
  7. Highlight every piece of curriculum that they can do on their own 100%. Again, use the same color. It may be helpful to indicate how long this task generally takes.

Now is the mind cramp time. Don't despair. I got through this with some major undiagnosed brain fog and pregnancy brain.  Meaning, even if you're at 5% of your game, you've got this. You just may stare at the paper a little longer. ;)

This is where I grabbed lots of scratch paper. Set out your plan (that you set up) and schedule. You can do this with routines rather than schedules.

 

Look at all your kids, how many things can each do alone, with you, and with some help? The younger ones will need more of you, obviously. Pick a child and a subject. Just do the first on the list. 

Now, when that child is doing this curriculum what could your other children be doing?

If Captain is doing his math (he does alone, unless he is struggling), I can have Little Miss working on her spelling and vocabulary words nearby. I sit with The Animal and do his reading lesson.  

I keep going through each child and putting them in work slots.

We usually do school in chunks of time. I break down our subjects to be efficient and and put about 3-4 work slots in one chunk of time.

[wc_row][wc_column size="one-fourth" position="first"]

The Captain - 4th

  1. Reading
  2. Handwriting
  3. Spelling
  4. Scriptures

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Little Miss - 2nd

  1. Math
  2. Handwriting
  3. Spelling
  4. Scriptures

[/wc_column][wc_column size="one-fourth"]

The Animal - 1st

  1. Handwriting
  2. Reading
  3. Math
  4. Play with Sweet Cheeks

[/wc_column][wc_column size="one-fourth" position="last"]

Sweet Cheeks - PreK-ish & The Baby (1)

  1. Color (Baby sits with me)
  2. Reading (Baby plays or has a snack)
  3. Plays (both)
  4. Plays with The Animal (Mom plays with Baby)

[/wc_column][/wc_row]

Then, I go through the next chunk of time and repeat.

I put each block of time on a post-it. This way, if something comes up, I can shift the block of time around and know that when I'm helping The Animal with math, the older two should be working on their spelling. It takes out the day-to-day thinking for me. I just look and it tells me what would be best for the other children to do if I'm helping another on a certain subject.

 

Test and tweak as necessary. Always be realistic with yourself.

 

 

ten tips large family 4 pin

#3

Large families have been blessed with many children just eager to love and be loved. There always seems like at least one child slips through the cracks no matter how hard you try.

Each week, set an appointment with each child to meet with them.

You'll check in with them, chat, and ask questions.

  • How are they doing this week?
  • What's been hard for them?
  • What's been enjoyable?
  • What have they learned?
  • What do they need help with?
  • What would they like to tell you about?

This is a perfect opportunity to go over any missed answers on work that's been turned in, anything they're struggling with, and to review any particular material you want to go over.

You can take this time to teach them something that's just for them. You can work on a special project together. My eldest son and I work on some of his Cub Scout stuff to pass off. With The Animal, we do some fun math games. Little Miss loves working on art projects together.

 

You can make this appointment as short or as long as you'd like. You don't have to do everything I've listed. Just set an appointment, put it in your calendar, and sit down and spend time with them.

 

This brought me a lot of peace when I started it. I have time to really connect and talk to each child, to spend it in a meaningful way, that I hope will foster and grow our relationship as parent and child that will bless us for years to come.

In Plan to Be Flexible, Alicia even talks about setting up a yearly date, or appointment, with each child to evaluate your Homeschooling. She's got tons of great questions and worksheets for this invaluable date.

[Tweet "Crave consistent one-on-one time with your children? Check out this easy #tip"]

In summary

Tip #4: Design your own plan + write it out

Tip #3: Set an appointment with each child

You are nearly there! Your homeschooling is going to take off and be just what you need it to be for your family and yourself. You'll find yourself giggling with relief.

chuffed

 

Get the last two tips tomorrow!! Wahoo!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Top 10 Tips For Homeschooling A Large Family: Tips 6 & 5

You thought Homeschooling was for your family, but gosh, this wrangling and teaching and cuddling and cooking and cleaning of all these kids at the same time is terrifying.

What in the heck are you to do? Give up? Throw in the towel? Never! ...but, wow.

tips for homeschool large family 3

 

It's okay. I get it. You're right, you don't have to give up. That voice that tells you there's gotta be a way, after all you see tons of Homeschooling families pulling it off and they look sane, happy, and they're all educated. They can't all be superhuman!

 

They're not. They're just the same as you, and as me.

Check out my next two tips to get you on your way to be just as joyful, calm, sane, and intelligent.

(Did you miss the first four tips? Get tips 10 & 9. Get tips 8 & 7).

 

#6

So many large Homeschooling families have little ones running around. Those precious little ones can (and will) derail your daily homeschool schedule and plans in an instant.

Implementing plans and backup plans will ensure all of your children continue to learn even on the worst days.

 

Schedule the bulk of your activities when your youngsters are at their happiest and most agreeable times. As well as during their nap times.

You can't rely on nap times all the time.

Many kids start to outgrow nap times before you're ready, or they won't go to sleep at the time you have planned, or at all.

For instance, my youngest little guy (1 years old) seems to be happiest early in the morning and then right after dinner. Between those times it's always a guess. Sometimes he's cranky (3 teeth are breaking through right now) and sometimes he's giggly. Sometimes he wants his nap at his regular time and sometimes he decides he needs his nap an hour ahead of his usual time.

[Tweet "Plan your #homeschool times around your baby's happiest times of the day"]

I plan our mom-is-needed school time around those happy times when he's happiest playing by himself with some toys, pulling out all the wipes, or exploring the kitchen drawers.

When he needs me to pay attention to him I have the kids doing the bulk of their independent work, or other items on their daily checklists. He gets lots of mommy playtime, cuddling, and food.

Use your checklists to have older kids rotate school time and sibling time. There are times when I need to help The Animal on his reading and he needs quiet. We go downstairs to the couch and the older kids are working. One is reading to Sweet Cheeks or coloring with her. The other older kid is playing with The Baby.

 

superhuman

 

As I mentioned yesterday, each child has on their daily checklist to spend time with the younger two. It is a tremendous help to me.

Have activities, easy ones, ready for the youngsters. Set guidelines for the older little ones. My Sweet Cheeks is 3.5 and she can handle guidelines where my 1 year old will just drool on my face.

Make the activities simple, easy to put together, and in a location that is easy to access. I would suggest setting rules that these are for school time only in order to keep them from growing uninterested in that set as quick.

Fun activities for babies to preschoolers

 

Follow Rochelle Barlow's board Homeschool + PreK on Pinterest.

#5

Homeschooling families can get overrun with their long lists of things to coordinate.

They don't implement them because they're too overwhelmed to think about it or where to start. Putting systems in place is a profitable strategy because it saves time, energy, and brain cells.

We can't start losing more than we already have! ;)

easy-peasy

Set up a system for your chores. Have chore rotations, each child in charge of a chore appropriate for their age. They can do more than you realize.

Here are the chores we have our kids do:

  • Dishes: hand washing, dishwasher, putting away (started at about age 6/7)
  • Laundry: sorting, wash, dry, fold, and put away (starting at age 3)
  • Trash: collecting, taking out, picking up trash in the house (age 3+)
  • Sweep and mop (age 5+)
  • Vacuum (age 5/6+)
  • Counters, table (4+)
  • Bathrooms (7+)
  • Make beds (2+)
  • Toys, books, clutter, rooms (2+)

Set up buckets or baskets for each chore containing the supplies they need for each chore (if anything is required) and put a checklist in each chore bucket. If the chore doesn't require a bucket, have a place for checklist for that chore.

This is what you'll use to say these things need to be done correctly for this chore to be checked off. You can inspect with that checklist in hand, or have them inspect themselves.

If you want chores done a specific time each day, set up a schedule. You can set up a time of day you'd like it done in (AM, after lunch, PM) otherwise just say it needs to be done today.

ten tips large family 3 pin

Set up systems for meals.

Use a meal planner system, make lunches ahead of time, make an assembly line, make dinners ahead of time, and have your older children involved in cooking.

Organize your school area to provide a place for everything and systems for your school days. Prepare every needful thing. Set aside a weekend to do major prep work, a time slot for each week, and a few minutes each day to prep for the next day.

Have shelfs, baskets, areas, pouches, folders, and bulletin boards and more dedicated to specific school work, tools, resources, and activities. Set up areas for the kids to have access their work and supplies and any other learning activity you'd like them to do independently.

This doesn't mean spend your lifetime doing this or a lifetime worth of money to do it. Do what you can with what you have and do it in the time you have.

The more you can do ahead of time setting up the systems that work for your family the better prepared you'll be when life hits you or you're all just having one of those days.

This MP3 is great at helping you organize your home for some peace!

In summary

#6 Have definite plans and back up plans for your littles.

#5 Get organized with systems and prepare as much as you can.

Today's tips require a bit more work than the previous four. You didn't think you'd get out of working did you? Nah, I knew you were realistic.

Working today will save you tomorrow. So long as you don't overdo it and try to do it all in one day. Make sure you get help from your family.

Tomorrow's Homeschooling tips are some of my favorite! See you then.

Mwah

 

 

 

 

 

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Top 10 Tips For Homeschooling A Large Family: Tips 8 & 7

As a parent of a large homeschooling family you wonder if it's doable. 

There's so much to consider, to worry about. It's overwhelming.

tips for homeschool large family 2

Here are two more tips -- tested and proven -- that will aide you in your noble quest for sanity, fun, and a fabulous education for your amazing family.

#8

You've got so many things you're think about in a constant, steady stream. You've delegated jobs and responsibilities, but are concerned that after half a day it will all fizzle out to nothing more than a puddle of good intentions.

Take your list of delegated responsibilities (tip #9) and make them trackable for each person.

Make a checklist of daily tasks for each child, with a special place to keep it and a pen, marker, highlighter, sticker, or pencil set aside solely for this purpose. This is all the motivation my kids needed.

They are in charge of doing the task and marking it done.

[Tweet "Put your kids in charge of their daily tasks and they will take more ownership #homeschool #tip"]

Include tasks such as:

  • Play with the baby
  • Read to the toddler
  • Go over skip counting with Jr.

Make their daily tasks required (schoolwork, chores, and misc) to be done before anything else. Rotate their responsibilities and switch it up.

Don't confine the children to a time, unless you really need it to be done at a specific time. If you allow them greater freedom by picking the order and the time they do things in, they will cooperate more and take better ownership of their checklists.

Perhaps if they do not do things correctly, or at all, or in a timely manner you could set a schedule for that list until they prove themselves otherwise. That's up to you.

Here are two resources for checklists and daily task sheets that I have used.

Free Accountability Printable -- Heather, over at OnlyPassionateCuriosity.com has so many wonderful printables. some free, some paid, but gosh, they are cheap and worth it! We used this checklist since I found it back in November 2014. Love it!

Betsy at Notebooking Nook has a bajillion amazing and awesome goodies. Check out this great student planner pack and assignment cards. We're going to give these a whirl this year!

ten tips large family 2 pin

#7

You are homeschooling a lot of kids...at the same time. The kids all want your undivided attention...all at the same time. Foster independence in each child and have them rely on themselves more and more to learn.

This may hurt and you may want to punch me: let go of curriculum that is teacher-driven, teacher-led, teacher-powered, teacher teacher teacher. Aahhhhh!

Or come up with a great way to use it, but take out the heavy burden of doing it all always.

Your children may resist. In fact, they will.

I want my teacher back! I want you to give me the information! I don't want to do this by myself... I can't do this by myself.... MooooOOoommmmmm......!

 

Do not fall for it. Your children are brilliant. Even if they don't test high on the IQ, and in fact, you truly worry that they're really not that smart, they are. They are smart enough to do this. This is when it takes faith and trust from you to allow them this opportunity.

You're still there, you're still their teacher (or facilitator), you're just letting them take more control over their own education. This is a great way to teach choice and accountability, a great characteristic for us all.

[Tweet "Your kids may protest when you have them do more #homeschool work on their own. Don't fall for it."]

What do you do instead?

Switch to a child-led curriculum (Robinson Curriculum). Have them read more living, whole, rich books as their way of learning. Charlotte Mason method takes advantage of many living books. As do many Homeschooling methods.

Get your kids writing more. Write more papers, more poems, more journal entries. Have them start notebooking.

Give them individual work that can be done without mom hovering. I'm not saying give them busy work. I do not believe in busy work. In fact, that's one of the reasons I do not send my children to public school. 

Here are some great resources for individual work for all ages:

See? There is TONS of goodness out there. You will need to do some prep work to get this all settled and ready to go. Take a bit of time one weekend, have someone help watch the kids, or have your husband take the kids out to the park while you stay home and just focus in on getting your stuff ready to go at a moment's notice.

If you don't get it all ready you'll never use it, or you'll get so stressed in the moment that you'll curse my name and wish you'd never read this stupid blog post.

iHomeschool Network's 4th annual Omnibus sale • the original homeschool bundle

In summary

#8 = checklists + daily tasks

#7 = independence + independent work (not busy work)

[Tweet "10 tips for #homeschooling large families. Can you guess what tips 8 and 7 are? "]

Up next

Tomorrow you'll get tips 6 & 5. I'll give you a hint: little.

Hey, if you have some great ideas to help with checklists and fostering independence, please tell me. I'm always on the hunt to add to my rotation. 

Mwah

 

 

 

 

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Top 10 Tips For Homeschooling A Large Family: Tips 10 & 9

Is homeschooling a large family really even possible?

Without losing your mind? Without becoming "that homeschool mom" that people bolt at the first sight of?

Yeah, it is.

 

tips for homeschool large family

 

I have many friends that homeschool their first two kids, love it, or get overwhelmed, and then when the third one is old enough for school they bail come August.

That's sad. Not only is it sad, but it's unnecessary.

[Tweet "#Homeschooling a large family is doable, no straightjacket required."]

If you are thinking about not homeschooling anymore because of the size of your family, just give me 5 days to show you another option.

5 Days. For 5 Days you'll get a countdown of my top tips, and things that I have used and am using for my own family. In case you are wondering, I have 5 children. I know some things.

I'm working my way from great to awesome. I'm saving my top tips for last. You've got to build up to the goodness. That doesn't mean you skip 10 - 6 because they're no good. False. They are good. It was really hard to put them in order of impact/importance; there are quite a few that I think are equal.

It's the final countdown!!!!

#10

Many large Homeschooling families feel alone, overwhelmed, and stressed. They don't know how to banish these damaging and discouraging feelings and often turn to the wrong sources. Use the free tools that are right next to you, but you may not see them as a tool and thus, dismiss them.

Learn to laugh at yourself and use humor to diffuse any negative feelings in your home and in your heart.

Using humor robs these negative feelings of their power over you.

 

When the kids' science experiment goes all sorts of wrong find something that you can laugh about; find something that you learned through this colossal gaffe and make it part of the learning process with your children. Breathe.

"Blue skies in, gray skies out." -McKenna (American Girl movie)

 

Start and end your day with sincere, earnest, and specific prayers for you, your spouse, your children, and your homeschool.

Pray for the clarity, energy, and focus you need. Pray for the support you need from your spouse, pray for each thing each of your children need. If they are struggling with writing a paper, pray for help to guide them, to encourage them, and for that child to understand, to persist, and to whatever else they need.

 

Do not isolate yourself or become a martyr. Reach out to your spouse, or anyone else to create a support system that fits you.

This is a hard one for me. I'm a mega introvert and love being alone. It's hard for me to ask for help, but I'm learning that things go so much better when I reach out for help and I make connections with other Homeschooling Mamas doing the same thing I am.

ten tips large family pin

#9

As a Homeschooling mom of a large family it often feels like we're herding cats. Stray, wild, feral cats.

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blackcat

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ninja_cat

[/wc_column][wc_column size="one-third" position="last"]

cinl

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Getting everything and everyone to operate without any major kinks is necessary to avoid burn-out and stress overload. Work together and share the responsibilities to lighten your load.

Sit down and work out what needs to be done in your home, your family, and your school each day, each week, and each month. Gather the family together to discuss these items and then delegate these duties to every person in the family (except the newborn, of course).

You are a family, which means you are a team. The job of keeping the family going is everyone's.

 

Now what?

I don't like to just have ambiguous ideas thrown at me. I like directions, I like steps, I love examples.

There are a few resources I want to point out to you that you can use to help you accomplish tips #10 and #9.

hope-0

Hope For The Heart of The Homeschool Mom by Jamerrill Stewart

It has the most beautiful cover, don't you think? There are more than just pretty words in here, but actionable, helpful ideas, guidance, and encouragement specifically for those days when you question your sanity and know those angel children of yours are morphing into wild cats.

Mindset For Moms by Jamie Martin

I've followed Jamie since the beginning of time (when I started Homeschooling). This is a wonderful book that lays out a new way of thinking, acting, being for 30 days.

There are 3 MP3 that you will enjoy listening to. The titles alone grabbed me, never mind that they're excellent.

anger-0

Letting Go of Mommy Anger -- I know, right!

Discover the Joy in Letting God Lead Your Homeschool -- perfect to go along with your daily prayers.

You Are Not Alone: Collaborate Homeschool -- now you can figure out exactly how to create that support system you need.

You can purchase each of these separately and you will be on your way to mastering the skills, the stress, the overwhelm and doubt that you have. Don't mistake, there's no shame in feeling any of these. The important part is you don't let them beat you; you don't let them win.

Come back tomorrow for tips #8 and #7: they're gonna be awesome!!

Mwah

 

 

 

 

The Homeschool Omnibus is here! Grab the 90 Creative Resources to Refresh Your Homeschool

Easy Plan For Your Not Back To School Party!

Let's celebrate! It's time for NOT back to school.

As homeschoolers we have the greatest freedom and flexibility in our days. We've got to take advantage of this great gift and use it for a day of fun!

 

That means, a (Home) school party!

not back to school party

Let's throw a Not Back to School Party!

I've posted some questions for you to consider as you plan your party. It can really be anything that fits you.

 

What do you want from your celebration?

  • Pump your children (and yourself) up for the coming school year
  • Have a day of fun
  • Celebrate your reasons for homeschooling
  • Set the stage for your school year
  • Etc.

When will you hold your party?

  • The week (or more) before
  • The day before
  • The night before
  • The day of
  • The night of your first day

Who is coming to the party?

  • Just your family
  • Your other Homeschool friends
  • Your family
  • Your Homeschool club or co-op

What age of people is this party for?

  • All ages
  • Littles
  • Middles
  • Olders
  • Parents

What's your budget?

  • Free
  • Mostly free
  • Small budget
  • Medium
  • Extravaganza-type

How complicated?

Your budget may impact your complication. Though, it is possible to have a very involved party without spending lots of money.

  • You want a simple party
  • Somewhat involved party
  • Very involved party

Location

  • Home
  • Park
  • Community Center
  • Outdoor location
  • Museum
  • Etc

Here's an invitation for you to use

blank invite

 

Click on the picture and it'll open in a new tab. Right-click and click Save As. Next, upload it to PicMonkey to edit it and add text of your choosing. Print or email to your friends and family to invite them to your Not Back To School Party!

Activities

Large Groups

  • Ultimate Frisbee
  • Water Kickball
  • Hike
  • Swim party
  • Flour tag
  • Party Games
  • Picnic

Smaller Groups

  • Party Games
  • Time capsule
  • Decorate your own journal/notebook
  • Wrap a pen/pencil
  • School photos
  • Treasure hunt
  • Hike
  • Picnic
  • Swim in the river/lake/pool
  • Painting
  • Water games

Yummy stuff to eat

  • Cookies and milk
  • Apple buffet
  • Ice cream sundae bar
  • Burgers and hotdogs
  • Chili cheese fries
  • Pizza
  • Family's favorite meal
  • Breakfast
  • Apple Pie Cupcakes
  • Confidence Cookies
  • Rice Krispie apples
  • Chocolate Kiss Pencils

Goodies

A treat to give away is always fun

  • A visit from the Homeschool Fairy (fresh fun school supplies)
  • Edible Glue
  • Lucky Charms goodie Bag
  • Gumball Ruler
  • Pencil cases
  • Snazzy notebooks
  • Membership to a museum or zoo
  • A new book (or a set of books)
  • A fun printable full of encouragement, framed

not back to school pin

Let's put it all together into two options

Party option #1

Who: Family Party

Where: Backyard

When: Afternoon/Evening of the first day

Have a few simple decorations

Red, yellow, and blue streamers, a couple grouping of balloons, and 3 mason jars filled with fresh new pencils, crayons, and colored pencils for a centerpiece.

Food

Have an apple buffet:

Apples with caramel sauce in a bowl (melt caramels with some milk/cream). Have bowls of toppings to sprinkle on your caramel apples. Can slice the apples up to make it easier to eat.

Have apple rice krispie treats, apple cupcakes, and apple juice. Lay out some savory treats as well to counter balance all the sweets: fresh veggies, chips and salsa, cheese and crackers, a favorite dip, etc.

Activities

Have a treasure hunt, draw a vague map. Have them stop at several locations within the house and backyard. Have a clue at each stop. Have a prize at the end -- a box of fun art supplies or science experiment.

Decorate your own composition notebook with glue, paints, paper, and anything else you love and can find.

OR decorate your own library bag with fabric markers and paint. What Homeschooler doesn't love the library?

Each person (even the parents) fill out a survey for the year.

Make a sign displaying their grade (if you use grade levels) and take a picture and have mom take a picture holding each sign for the children's grade levels. Make sure and take a family photo as well.

Play relay races.

Make a picnic dinner together, pack it up, go to a park, on a hike, or to the backyard and eat out under the sky.

Tell each kid what you love about them, what you think their strengths are, and your hopes for them this year. Ask them what their hopes are for this school year are.

Be sure to record them either at the picnic or when you get home.

Goodies

These are the treasure they find, the things they decorate, and the centerpieces for them to keep.

[Tweet "Plan your #notbacktoschool party here! "]
Party option #2

Who: Homeschol Group

Where: Lake

When: Weekend before school starts

Food

Everybody brings their own picnic lunch

Have fun treats: pencil cupcakes, chips and dip, cut up watermelon, Rice Krispie treat apples.

Activities

Ultimate Frisbee

Water Games

  • Mattress surfing: blow up a queen-sized mattress, push it out into the water. Everyone takes turns seeing how long they can stand up in the middle of it. Longest time wins!
  • Mattress wrestling: get on that same queen-sized mattress and have two people kneel on the mattress, facing each other. Place your hands on the other person's shoulders and try to push the other one off without getting knocked off.

Make sure those that are weaker swimmers have life jackets on. If in a pool, may need help to keep the mattress away from the sides.

Swimming

Easy party games for the younger kiddos.

Goodies

A small treat bag with a few fun art supplies: tube of paint, paint brush, pencil, and mini canvas or a list of art prompts.

Confidence cookies

Thought

Optional: Have an opening or closing "speech" to welcome everyone and to give some words of encouragement for the new school year. The confidence cookies thought is a great thing to share.

 

Looking for more resources and ideas for your Not Back to School traditions and celebrations? You're in the right place!

 

[wc_row][wc_column size="one-third" position="first"]

120 ideas

[/wc_column][wc_column size="two-third" position="last"]

Here is a post I curated for you, my lovely friend. There's a ton of not back to school party ideas, treats, gifts, and photo ideas in this post. In fact, there's 120 different ideas. Get excited.

[/wc_column][/wc_row]

Keep an eye out for more ideas headed your way! And to see what we do for our own NOT Back to School Party.

The Homeschool Omnibus is here! Grab the 90 Creative Resources to Refresh Your Homeschool

Our Switch To The Charlotte Mason Method

It's hard to admit it, but I have a bit of a problem. I love ALL the homeschool methods. I can't pick just one I love.

I have that Shiny Curriculum/Method syndrome. I want to try it all. Now.

Can you relate? Or am I alone...? *sniff sniff*

switch to cm

Last December I decided Charlotte Mason was our official, and final way to go.

 

I had seen Charlotte Mason in my early research of Homeschool methods and thought, "oh, that’s nice...," but I was determined to do Classical and ignored everything else.

Then classical didn’t work out for us.

That's a long, boring story. I still love the Classical Method though.

Then we switched to Unit studies, using Konos.

I really did enjoy using Konos. There were great things about it and things I didn’t like about it. Mostly, it came down to three deal breakers:

  1. Too much work upfront for me.
  2. Too much money for gathering up supplies.
  3. Too easy to fall behind.

Also, the kids were using me as a crutch.

Back to the research arena. Truth be told, I love and live to research.

I don’t even remember what brought me to Charlotte Mason, probably a fleeting thought, a touch of inspiration.

I loved learning about Charlotte Mason. Mr. Barlow says I only switched to it because Charlotte was British. If you didn’t know, I’m obsessed with England.

Not so, but it was a faint check in the pros column.

What was it that I loved about Charlotte Mason?

  • Short lessons
  • Narration
  • Classic, living books (Previously I would snort at that term. Living books? Get real.)
  • Nature studies.
  • Music
  • Art
  • Handiwork
  • Time set aside each day for their own projects and self-led learning.

It was a rich lifestyle that my family dearly needed.

Fast forward a few months and I started to really focus on getting my health under control. I had no idea what it was, something with my thyroid, at least. It could’ve been cancer (there was a nodule), it could’ve been hypothyroidism, or hashimotos, or worse. Well, cancer is pretty bad, obviously,

I wanted to keep homeschooling, but my energy and motivation levels were dropping rapidly. I was wiped out and worried. That’s not a fun place to be in. We were entertaining the thought of public school.

Which made me sick sick sick to think about.

our switch to cm method

To sum it all up… we are still homeschooling, but with some big changes.

We’re still going to do as much Charlotte Mason as my health and our lifestyle allows, but we’re going to be doing a lot more independent, self-taught learning.

I’m a big believer in self-teaching and independence.

I re-found Robinson Curriculum. I remember seeing it years back and thinking these people had lost their minds. Oh, what a silly girl I was… am.

Robinson Curriculum is where you focus on the 3 R’s - Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic.

You are given a HUGE ginormous reading list for all 12 grades. They start at the beginning and get to reading. You dedicate 2 hours every day to reading, 2 hours to math, and 1 hour to writing. After that, you can add in whatever you want, within reason. He doesn’t encourage a lot of extra stuff.

You work up to that time, and younger kids don’t get that large amount of time to work.

Now, Charlotte Mason believes in short time chunks and build up to larger time chunks. This is going to have to be let go of.

What I’m NOT going to drop:

  • Nature Studies
  • Fine Arts
  • Self-Led Learning Time (including handiwork)
  • Narration

What Our Day Will Look Like

7:00  Wake and Breakfast

7:30 Writing

8:00 Math

9:00 Read

10:00 PE + Snack

10:30 Math

11:30 Read

12:30 Lunch

1:30 - 3:30 Extras/Self-Led Learning

We’ll meet up each day for Circle Time.

Circle Time:

  • Calendar
  • Pledge
  • Prayer
  • Memory Work (scripture, poem, and song)
  • ASL (practice/review outside of lessons)

Once (or twice) a week we’ll have Tea Time

Tea Time:

  • Poetry
  • Classical Music
  • Artist Study

Here's more on Tea Time

Once a week we’ll have Nature Study.

Nature Study:

Walk or hike somewhere and examine nature and draw a picture in our nature journals.

 

After that, they’ll work on piano and anything else they’d like to work on.

Electronics are limited to 1 hour a day.

We’ll be doing 1 hour of math and 1 hour of reading on Saturdays.

Robinson Curriculum says to do a full day of school on Saturdays, but I am not sure if we will do this.

We do have co-op for the older two on Mondays that lasts all day, so they won’t be able to do their extra stuff those days.

 

We’ll be tweaking the schedule a bit as we start it up, so look for that post later. But, since we’ll be short on time for Mondays we’ll definitely do some work on Saturdays.

 

I love Charlotte Mason. With five young kids it’s hard to do since so much of it has to be read aloud. It was becoming overwhelming and my throat hurt by the end of the day.

 

The thing I love about Robinson Curriculum is that you sit with your children as they learn. I don’t go off doing my chores while they’re working. I sit there and model proper behavior and work. This works perfectly for my blog and business as well. I can blog, create ASL materials, and transcribe while my kids are hard at work.

Plus, it allows for me some freedom to work quietly with Sweet Cheeks and play time with The Baby. Which is always awesome.

My kids are early risers so they’ll be done by lunch. After lunch they can do their own thing, plus any extras we have. It’ll leave us time for chores, cooking, exploration, and fun.

I’m excited to be able to marry the two needs we have: a quality education with greater independence and responsibility from the kiddos.

Win-win.

Now I've got some major planning and scheduling and prep work to do before we start up school again! Yikes! I feel so behind, even though, it really is only July.

Plus, we're starting Year Round this year so I need to figure out the final schedule for our terms and weeks off.

What method do you use? Do you use any bits of Charlotte Mason? How do you help your kids be independent learners?

Mwah

 

 

 

 

The Homeschool Omnibus is here! Grab the 90 Creative Resources to Refresh Your Homeschool

 

 

 

10 Tools Every Homeschool Needs For Success 

We all want to be successful in homeschooling. There’s more pressure on us Homeschool parents to be successful in our children’s education.

10 Tools Every Homeschool Needs For Success

The world puts pressure on us.

What are you teaching? Are you qualified? What about socialization? What about…? What about…? What about…?

We put pressure on ourselves.

What if I can’t teach something? What if they can’t get into college? What if they don’t make friends? What if I mess them up? What if…? What if…? What if…?

Our children put pressure on us.

Why is learning to read so hard? Why are they not good at spelling? Why can’t they remember their multiplication tables? Why…? Why…? Why…?

 

We look around and see all these other moms and think, gosh, they have it all together, why don’t I?

Or we look around and say, hey, that mama’s house is just as filthy as mine, and don’t lift a finger.

Both of these trains of thoughts are wrong.

Comparison is wrong. No one wins with comparing. No one. We also can’t use other people’s weaknesses as validation for our own.

It does us no good to say, hey, you know what, I’m an inconsistent homeschooler, and leave it at that. Ummmm… no. You acknowledge it, you make peace with it, and then you [wc_highlight color="yellow"]WORK[/wc_highlight] on it.

On to the tools.

 

There are a gazillion wonderful amazing posts on the tools you need to homeschool. Things you can’t live without, things that make life easier, things that organize you, prepare you, and get you where you want to go.

I love those posts. I’m addicted to those posts. I even have a few of them myself. (Planning, Scheduling)

Before you click away because you just realized that this is not about what’s the best stapler or printer to use (I have that post coming soon - minus the stapler), [wc_highlight color="yellow"]promise me you'll give this a good thorough skim[/wc_highlight]

1. Look at these tools and see which ones you have and give yourself a treat. Maybe a cookie. Have some for me because I can’t eat them anymore.

Better make it brownies, fresh from the oven, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream covered in chocolate sauce and caramel.

2. Go through this list and look closer at the ones you don’t have. Pick one that really just hits you right in the feels and focus on that one. Once you got that, come back and work on another one.

I’m the queen of trying to work on everything all at once. If only I’d just taken one baby step at a time, I probably would be the master of a clean house by now. Maybe even have my own TV show.

Believe me, I understand trying to tackle it all at once. Don't do it, but I won't judge if you do.

What are the tools, you ask?

[Tweet "What are the 10 Tools Every #Homeschool Needs For Success? I'm about to find out!"]

 

10 Tools Every Homeschool Needs For Success | RochelleBarlow.com

1. Conviction

Be fully committed to homeschooling. It’s okay to say, let’s try this out for a year, or six months. It’s not okay for during that trial period you on give it half effort. If you’re in, you’re in. Let’s do this.

2. Intention

I realize you have probably had this beat into you, but it’s for a reason. It’s the small and simple things that bring about great things.

I go over how to know your why in this post  and I relate to you an experience I had because I forgot my purpose.

3. Support

You have got to have a good support system. That doesn’t mean you can’t homeschool and have your whole family against you. That does mean you deserve lots of respect and hugs, and perhaps donations. $$$

Go find a great support group, in a homeschool group that you mesh well with, in a co-op that has similar intentions as you, and in several online communities.

I am in several Facebook groups that have made all the difference in my life. They may have one for your local area as well. Do a quick search.

Here are a two you may love:

Hip Homeschool Moms

Christian Homeschooling Moms

4. Trusted Resources

Find people that have been there and done that. Find people that not only have been there and done that, but do it in a way similar to you, or in a way that resonates with you.

Don’t close off everyone else, just be selective. If you look at what everyone is doing you’ll change so much that you’ll either run out of money or you’ll have zero consistency and have big education gaps.

Follow the blogs that really give you what you need and turn to them for help. I am a part of iHomeschool Network. The ladies in this network are freaking amazing. I feel so supported, so energized, and am given such fabulous ideas daily.

5. Plan

You have got to have a plan. In the words of every self-help, planning, time management guru “Fail to have a plan and you plan to fail.”

Who has a wooden spoon I can gag on?

Goshdarnit, it’s true though. Why do you think there are so many gazillion planning and scheduling and organizing posts? Because these steps are the ones that can make all the difference.

Make a plan that works for you and stick to it.

6. Flexibility

Gotcha! 

Yes, make a plan and stick to it, but no, not until the death. You’ll burn yourself out, you’ll burn your homeschool curriculums, and you’ll burn your house down.

Be flexible, let your expectations go, and just chill.

7. Be Realistic

This goes along with flexibility. Perhaps that’s why they’re next to each other. So clever.

What screws us up the most in homeschool

Don’t set these impossible expectations for yourself.

No, you probably won’t bake bread and have fresh milk (from your cow/goat) and warm cookies every day for a after homeschool snack. You probably won’t have children creating science experiments that have MIT knocking on your door, and art galleries from all over the world taking down their Picasso paintings to display your daughter’s paintings, and no, your children may not all go on to earn PhD’s at the age of 18.

You may not have this classic school room with maps, portraits, globes, chalkboards, desks, lab equipment, easels, an extra kitchen, a timeline that covers your huge wall that is both educational and classy in appearance. You may not have it all.

But you do.

10 Tools Every Homeschool Needs For Success

 

Know your limitations, your weaknesses, and your strengths. Realize what you're capable of. Being recently diagnosed with Hashimotos and adrenal fatigue I've had to learn this. And don't think I wasn't breaking glass and throwing it in a fit of tantrum along the way (I need tool #8)!

No matter how much you want to teach that Adult Skills Class (Rochelle...), if it's beyond your physical and emotional limitations, just let it go and be okay with that.

This isn't the time to heap on excuses.

The other side to reality is to realize when you aren't pushing yourself hard enough, you aren't doing as much as you can. Evaluate your reality and set reasonable expectations that will help you grow.

8. Attitude

A bad attitude is like rotten fruit. It stinks. I just made that up, can you tell?

Or... it’s like raw chicken that’s been left on your counter, put away, but no one cleaned the counter properly and then made PB&J sandwiches right on top of that spot.

Dangerous, deadly, and disgusting.

Kick that rotten or the [wc_fa icon="arrow-circle-o-up" margin_left="" margin_right=""][/wc_fa] "3 D’s of attitude" out of here. Drop a hammer on it. Thor’s hammer.

You have got to be realistic, but you don’t have to be a martyr, nor do you have to be negative. “If only I had lab equipment my Fabio too could be a mad scientist.”

Wrong.

If only I had a better attitude, then I could feel happier and accomplish my goals easier.

Yes.

Now get to work on that.

Here are two tips:

  1.  Smile.
  2. Show gratitude.
  3. Serve.
  4. Learn to count.

9. Determination

  • Get it done.
  • Do your best.
  • Have a good attitude.
  • Be understanding and forgiving, but [wc_highlight color="yellow"]do not to take any lip[/wc_highlight] from yourself, nay-sayers, or your children that are whining and rolling on the floor because you asked them to ________ and they wanted to _________ instead.
Determination will get you everywhere.

10. Stick-to-it-iveness

With your powers combined…! I am Stick-to-it-iveness!!

This is not the same as determination. I know; I checked.

Consistency in homeschooling can be the hardest bit.

You have to hold yourself accountable.

You have to have loads of self discipline.

You can’t just stop doing math because you’re tired of drilling addition already. Or end your day early because you deserve it.

  • Help yourself be consistent.
  • Make a plan that works for you.
  • Set realistic goals.
  • Have reasonable expectations for yourself, have a good attitude, get phenomenal support, use fantastic resources, and take it a little at a time.
  • Set it up in chunks and give yourself small rewards for getting it done. A 5 minute breather, a chapter in the book you’re trying to read, or a nice walk around the neighborhood. Something that will relax you, rejuvenate you, and not take you off your plan/schedule.

[Tweet "10 Tools Every #Homeschool Needs For Success. I laughed, I cried, I ate brownies."]

Holy smokin' guns...

Is your brain cramping yet? Nah, mine isn't either...

There really isn't one tool better than the other. They all work together, like Captain Planet.

Pick the one that you know in your heart you can work on and buckle down. If you need some tips, some help, some support, I'm right here. I may not have it all together... in fact, I don't. But, I do make some pretty great funny faces, and I know some people who know some people.

If you liked these tools, or perhaps even one of them, would you share this post? You'd make a grown woman (who is still breaking out like a teenager) cry tears of joy.

Mwah

 

 

 

 

The Homeschool Omnibus is here! Grab the 90 Creative Resources to Refresh Your Homeschool

Homeschool Wars: Year Round vs. Traditional Schedule

  In the first edition of HOMESCHOOL WARS we have an epic battle.

hs war year round vs trad

 

Epic may be a little strong, but it's a battle, nonetheless.

Which is better? Which is right for you? Let's see the two fight to the death and see which one survives. Mwahahahahaha

 

That is so therapeutic.

Here are the Homeschool War Guidelines:

  1. They'll each have three rounds to prove themselves. That's it. If they're knocked out early, they're knocked out early and they dead. Dead dead dead.
  2. I'll leave the declaration of the winner up to you! You each get a chance to vote for the winner at the bottom of the post. The winner will be announced at a later date (TBD).

Let's not sit around anymore, let's do some stretches, wipe the sweat from our brow, guzzle some water, and get the bandaids ready.

Homeschool Wars: Year Round vs. Traditional

Round One: Benefits

Year Round Homeschooling:

  • Avoid forgetting school material over the summer
  • Move ahead faster
  • More practice for struggling learners
  • More breaks (flexibility) for life
  • Avoid burn out by having longer set breaks throughout the year + more prep time
  • Not worrying about falling behind or catching up

Traditional Schedule Homeschooling

  • Coincide with public school siblings and friends
  • Easy to schedule
  • Long summer break
  • Long time in the summer to prepare for the coming school year
  • Distinct grade/level changes

 

Whew... things are getting serious 'round here. Are you getting scared? Pumped? Who are you rooting for?

Now now... you've got to be unbiased!

 

[Tweet "Watch this epic #homeschoolwars battle unfold! Year Round v Traditional Scheduling. Who will win? "]

 

Round Two: Drawbacks

Year Round Homeschooling:

  • Tricky to schedule
  • Doesn't go along with public school friends and family
  • Smaller summer break
  • Harder to figure out grade/level changes

Traditional Schedule Homeschooling:

  • Less flexibility
  • Easy to fall behind, harder to catch up
  • Summer Slump = forgetting over the summer = more review time
  • Can get burnt out easily

Homeschool Wars: Year Round vs Traditional

 

This is it... don't get scared now.  - Kevin M.

Round Three: Final Argument

Year Round Homeschooling:

I give you FLEXIBILITY!!!!

Traditional Schedule Homeschooling:

I give you EASE!!!!

Bonus Round: How To

Homeschool Wars: Year Round vs. Traditional

Year Round Homeschooling:

Let's set up the schedule. You've got a multitude of options.

On = Doing school

Off = Break

Option #1:

Have 6 terms with each term consisting of 6 weeks on /1 week off (aka Sabbath Schooling, that's what the cool kids call it). You have a remainder of 10 weeks left to take breaks, no more than 2 - 3 week at a time.

Option #2

12 Terms with 3 weeks on/1 week off with 5 extra weeks to scatter around the year.

Options #3 - #5

  • Do 45 days on/15 days off
  • 45 days on/10 days off (more available for summer)
  • 60 days on/20 days off

I could go on and on and on... but then you'd want to do battle with ME. I don't like getting punched.

This is the tricky part: you have to pick which schedule will work with you and your family.

Now what?

#1  [wc_highlight color="yellow"]Bust out your good ole friend, the calendar.[/wc_highlight] Grab some highlighters, a pencil with a good eraser on it, and some blank paper.

I like to have a blank calendar in front of me with the whole year in mini version with just the numbers, no boxes. I need as little clutter as possible to be able to think it through.

#2  [wc_highlight color="yellow"]Grab your[/wc_highlight] family, work, and any other  [wc_highlight color="yellow"]calendars[/wc_highlight] you need and use.

#3 On that mini calendar [wc_highlight color="yellow"]mark with highlighter the dates[/wc_highlight] that are already designated holidays and vacations that you will take off from school.

#4 [wc_highlight color="yellow"]I mark the time period[/wc_highlight] that I usually get [wc_highlight color="yellow"]burnt out[/wc_highlight] from homeschooling. I just put a little dot in pencil by those dates.

No, you can't mark the whole thing with a burnout dot.

#5  [wc_highlight color="yellow"]Pick your routine.[/wc_highlight] 6 weeks on 1 week off? 3 or 4 weeks on 1 week off?

You’ll be able to place those extra weeks in as you go, but first, let’s get a loose skeleton going.

#6 Then I kind of  [wc_highlight color="yellow"]pick a start date[/wc_highlight] that I might like and work towards the first holiday.

Are you starting now? Next week? Mid-August, first week in September? First of January? It doesn’t matter when you start, just so long as you start and that works for you.

If you started out your year with the traditional school year calendar it doesn’t mean that you can’t switch to year-round homeschooling until the next school year. You can start right away.

I want two weeks off for Christmas, so I try to make my schedule meet up so I can have that break then. It may help to work backwards.

Use pencil!!

#7 Play around with the dates. [wc_highlight color="yellow"]Sprinkle in your break weeks[/wc_highlight]  here and there.

Make sure to schedule your vacation weeks. For instance, a week off for Thanksgiving, or two for Christmas. A vacation planned for the summer, or the holidays, sports camps, or summer camps.Plan around these times.

You may want to save up some of your extra weeks for the summer and have a month off if you need to.

You’ll have 10 extra weeks to work with (if you did 6w/1w). I recommend that you don’t schedule all of those 10 weeks right away. Maybe leave yourself an extra week or two to plug in here and there where you need them.

You can move things around. What if your whole family gets wiped out with the flu in the middle of your 6 weeks? Well, no worries, that was your week off and now you can pick up where you left off and use that sick week as your off week.

Admittedly, that’s not really a fun way to spend your break. That’s why I suggested to leave an extra week or two for those what-ifs.

You may get sick for a few days. You may need an extra break. You may have a vacation or work trip come up unexpectedly. You may want to join the circus. It’s really just whatever you want to do with it. But you’ve always got that cushion.

If you don’t use it during the school year, you’ve got a few extra weeks of vacation before you start up again. Or heck, just roll right through them and save them up for next year. It’s like rollover minutes before those became obsolete.

Finished!

Homeschool Wars: Year Round vs Traditional

Traditional Schedule Homeschooling:

It's time to figure out your schedule.

#1 [wc_highlight color="yellow"]Go to your local school district's website.[/wc_highlight] Go clickety-click on their calendar for the upcoming school year. Print it out if you can, or make notes on the important dates.

What are the important dates?

First day of school, last day of school, holidays and breaks, teacher work days, etc.

#2 [wc_highlight color="yellow"]Grab that mini calendar[/wc_highlight] I was telling you about, your highlighters, your pencil and eraser. Maybe some scratch paper.

#3 [wc_highlight color="yellow"]Mark the dates[/wc_highlight] the school year begins and ends. Mark the holidays and vacations you will be taking off.

#4 [wc_highlight color="yellow"]Decide[/wc_highlight] now if you'll take the [wc_highlight color="yellow"]school vacations[/wc_highlight] with them: teacher inservice days, random holidays, or half days.

In Oregon they are super weird and every Wednesday is a half day. And every other Monday is off. I think it was due to budget cuts and the still fudging the required number of days. That's another post for another time.

Mark the dates you'll be taking off with them. Leave the ones you will keep schooling unmarked.

#5 Next, you need to [wc_highlight color="yellow"]fill in any dates[/wc_highlight] you know ahead of time that [wc_highlight color="yellow"]you will be not doing school work[/wc_highlight]. Pre-planned vacations, conferences, work commitments, etc.

#6 Figure out [wc_highlight color="yellow"]how you will make up for them.[/wc_highlight] Are you going to add an extra day for each missed? Will you double up on school work on the days before and/or after the missed days? Will you skip some planned breaks, add on extra time at the end of the school year, or will you just ignore those missed days and forge ahead?

Don't forget to decide what you'll do for your sick days as well.

#7 Get it all [wc_highlight color="yellow"]in your calendar[/wc_highlight], pencil it in, just in case, and that's it.

You're all set and ready to go into your next phase of planning: adding in curriculum plans.

To sum it all up

No matter which one you choose, the most important thing to remember is that the schedule should work FOR you. YOU are not working for the schedule.

If you want to try Year Round Homeschooling but find that it's just lame-sauce, then scrap it and switch back to Traditional Scheduling. If you try Traditional Scheduling, but want to give Year Round Homeschooling a whirl, then start. You can make that switch at any time.

I do not recommend switching methods every other week, or month. Sorry, Charlie. I'll give you a pass for two times a school year.

What screws us up the most in homeschool

Two last things

#1 Are there any benefits or drawbacks that I missed? Share them in the comments!

#2 Vote. It takes two seconds to pick the winner. After a certain period of time... I don't have all the answers, people, I will announce the winner! So you've got to vote.

Don't worry, no one is going to hold you to your answer. You can change your mind later.

P.S. What do you want to see battle it out in the next HOMESCHOOL WARS??

Vote by clicking one of these fun tweets!

[Tweet "The #homeschoolwar is over. Year Round Homeschooling is the winner, no contest! "]

[Tweet "The #homeschoolwar is over. Traditional Scheduling is the clear winner! Take that!"]

 

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The Zen of Tea Time

The Zen of Tea Time | RochelleBarlow.com

Before I go into zen mode talking about tea time, let me give you some background.

Recently, I was having a discussion with myself. That’s what I do. I discuss things to myself, by myself. I’m awesome like that.

I thought, "I really just feel like there’s something missing in my homeschool."

I wanted something more, but I wasn’t really quite sure what that “more” could be. What else could I possibly add to my list of ought's and should's and must's without winding up in a padded cell with a muzzle?

Well, in order to keep myself from paddling up guilt river (so unproductive), I tried to be logical about it. What was I wanting my kids to learn in our homeschool?

I made a list.

It was all that book-learnin’ stuff. I analyzed it. It wasn’t quite what I was looking for. So I made another list.

I want them to see the beautiful things around them and appreciate them.

To slow down and breathe.

To connect to the arts.

To connect to each other.

To appreciate one another.

As I was searching for other things, while keeping this list in mind, I found the perfect solution.

Bonus: it’s not overwhelming.

Too often we want to add these things of importance, but find ourselves adding a million things to the "important list," that we truly lose sight of the real important things.

I catch myself adding things to the list that I think I ought to make important. Or that I think others think are important.

Who am I trying to please here? The wrong people. That’s who.

Even with my own list of have-to’s I can get overwhelmed. I just want to breathe and enjoy my days with my crazy-awesome kids. We don’t get any do-overs. (boo)

How in the world am I going to do this? What the heck was my solution?

Tea Time.

Now now. I’m being serious. Maybe you think I’ve lost my mind. Or read too many Regency Romances (not possible). Maybe you’re like, dude, this is old news. N’er you fret, my dears.

Let me explain.

My kids beg for tea time. Yes, even my oldest boy who thinks doing anything girlie is a sin. I didn’t tell him that. Oi, that’s a post for another day.

The Zen of Tea Time | RochelleBarlow.com

They beg for tea time.

It has brought peace to our afternoons. Tea time has given my kids an appreciation for the arts and for our time together.

I joke about the zen it brings, but it truly is a magical hour of the day. I'm not rushing around freaking about what needs to get done. The kids aren't arguing, making messes, shouting across the house.

It's an intentional quiet time. A time of reflection, peace, and calm. I did say magical right?

As in, swaying grass, a dripping weeping willow, fireflies zipping about, crickets singing, frogs croaking, warm sticky breeze, moon glowing magic.

[Tweet "Discover the magic of tea time. You may just be transported to another place. #homeschool http://ctt.ec/xbpH9+"]

Well, how can you bring this zen magic-ness to your life?

Speed version: we listen to classical music, look at a piece of art, read poetry, have tea and a treat, and read aloud.

Let me walk you through what our typical tea time looks like.

Ours is typically at 3 PM.

  1. I pull up Spotify, and play some Beethoven while we set up.
  2. Boil some water in our tea kettle. (2 min.)
  3. Put out a table cloth, set out the tea cups, put out a centerpiece. (1 min.)
  4. I have a tray with herbal teas and apple cider packets. (30 sec.)
  5. I put some snacks on a tray. (2 min.)
  6. We sit down, listen to the music and pour some tea. Or apple cider. (3 - 5 min.)
  7. We serve the snacks. (1 min.)
  8. I turn off the music and pull out the book of poetry we’re reading. I skip around and read some poems. I have my readers pick a poem to read, too. (10 min.)
  9. After they’ve finished round 1 of the tea and treats, we pull out the art piece. We do what’s called a picture talk, or picture narration. They each study the picture until they can describe what it looks like without seeing it. Starting from youngest to oldest (me included) we build on the narration. We don’t interrupt each other. We don’t critique the art. (10 - 15 min.)
  10. Then we serve round 2 of tea and treats. (2 min.)
  11. I pull out the book we’re reading aloud together and I read until I don’t feel like it anymore. Maybe it’s half a chapter, maybe a chapter, maybe more. (20+ min.)

No matter what, tea time is no more than an hour.

How often do we do this?

I was super ambitious when I first heard about it and said, we’re going to do this every day. Life just laughed in my face. Nice try, Rochelle.

So, now we do it once a week. If I can, I’ll do it more, but once a week is the standard.

Here’s what you need:

  • tea cups/mugs/cups
  • books
  • music
  • art book or pictures of art

That’s it.

The Zen of Tea Time | RochelleBarlow.com

If you want Level 2

  • tea cups
  • treat (homemade or purchased)
  • poetry
  • book
  • classical music of one artist
  • art book or pictures of art
  • table cloth
  • center piece

Level 3

  • all of the above, but homemade treats that you made together.

Don’t say, I can’t do this without this this and this. I can’t do this without a special treat. I can’t do this without fill in the blank.

I said those same things too, I know how it is.

Just pick a composer, pick an artist, pick a poetry book. You don’t even have to do the read aloud if you don’t want to. That’s just what I added.

You could work on manners while you serve tea and treats.

You could just talk about what you’re learning, what you’ve been doing lately, or anything your kids want to talk about. It’s such a relaxing and safe way to connect. You’re taking time in your day to slow down, stop what you’re doing, and enjoy one another’s company.

The Zen of Tea Time | RochelleBarlow.com

I say make it your own. To heck with what I do.

You just need something to nibble on, sip on, and some great kiddos around the table. You’ve got that, haven’t you? Nibble on a slice of bread if that’s all you have. The most important part is you and your family.

Just make it happen and show it the reverence it deserves. When the kids feel how special it is, they’ll engage in it and show it equal reverence.

Go forth and drink tea!

(too cheesy? oh well)

[Tweet "I'm bringing #teatime back! Join me if you need some zen in your life.  http://rochellebarlow.com/the-zen-of-tea-time"]

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Our Curriculum Picks for 2015-2016 (Big Changes)

It's insane that it's that time of year again. Time to start putting in your orders for next year's curriculum picks. Yikes, I'm feeling behind.

I shouldn't though, because I've know for several months what we were going to do. There was even a big crisis over it.

Why does everyone push the new school year stuff so early? Pretty soon they'll be having back to school sales the day school lets out.

Let's cut the chit-chat and get right to it!

 curric post 2015-16

First, Let me tell you what we did last year.

We used KONOS Curriculum, Volume II. I sincerely loved it. I switched for three reasons.

  1. It was so much work. If I got behind I just felt I could never catch up.
  2. The costs added up, buying all that random stuff that I didn't have lying around the house.
  3.  I learned more than the kids did. I had to learn it all, then teach it to the kids.

Sure, I love to learn and want to do that, but I was becoming a crutch for them. I'm not saying they didn't learn anything though, they still spout off random facts and information all the time.

It also ignited their love for history and maps. I'd say that's a win!

They learned to love America (spent a lot of time on the American Revolution).

My oldest still doesn't get that we're friends now with the UK, he still thinks of them as the Red Coats. Ha ha ha.

After about Christmas we switched to Charlotte Mason, by way of Ambleside Online.

It took me a bit to figure out how to navigate it all and find all the resources we wanted. I really liked it, it did cut down on our full days and my work load, however, I still needed something else since I was having to read a ton aloud every day.

With my health issues I needed something that would give my children more independence. And wouldn't make it so if Mom was having a bad day, health wise, that we got waylaid more than could be managed.

Hence the last switch.

Robinson Curriculum is the BIG change. I'll post all about it another day.

1

The Captain, 9, entering 4th

Math -- Math-U-See He'll be doing Zeta (he's still mad at me because I was supposed to get it for him over the summer), and then moving on to Pre-Algebra. The kid is obsessed with math, so I am sure that he'll be in pre-algebra by November.

Writing -- The Writing Course

Reading -- Robinson Curriculum

History & Science -- Our co-op, supplemental materials, and self-interest studies

Music -- Piano: 67 Fun Songs Primer by Jon Schmidt. I'd like to have him start another instrument, preferably a string, but we'll see how it goes.

Foreign Language -- American Sign Language using ASL Done Right Vol. 1  & French

Gymnastics -- We're switching to a gym with a  competitive boys team.

Basketball -- He really wants to join up, but we've never put him in sports and it seems most parents put their kids in sports before they can even walk, so I'm worried about him being super behind. Also, I'm trying to find a team that doesn't play games on Sunday.

Art -- Creating a Masterpiece DVDs & Mark Kistler's Draw Squad. Fun fact, I used to watch him on PBS when I was a wee lass.

Handwriting -- I tried to use Handwriting Without Tears cursive, last year, but I'm pretty sure that stink-butt threw the book away. He denies it, but it's GONE. This year, I'll be switching to this book: Teaching Cursive! This Method Works It was recommended to me by another homeschool mom in one of the many groups I'm in. I'll let you know how it goes.

Typing -- Looking into Keyboarding Without Tears. We used Dance Mat typing, but I'd like something more comprehensive.

2

Little Miss, 7.5, entering 2nd

Math -- Math-U-See. She's going to finish Gamma and we'll also be working on drilling her math facts like crazy. After that she'll move up to Delta.

Writing -- The Writing Course

Reading -- Robinson Curriculum

History & Science -- Co-op, supplemental books, and self-study

Music -- Piano 67 Fun Songs Primer by Jon Schmidt & other instrument during the second semester

Foreign Language -- American Sign Language using ASL Done Right Vol. 1  & French

Dance -- Ballet or Hip Hop

Basketball -- Gotta find a team that doesn't play on Sundays

Art -- Creating a Masterpiece DVDs & Mark Kistler's Draw Squad

Handwriting -- She has great handwriting and is dying to learn how to write "fancy," so I know she's gonna love cursive.  Teaching Cursive! This Method Works

Typing -- Looking at Keyboarding Without Tears

3

The Animal, 6, entering 1st

Math -- Math-U-See, finishing up Alpha & memorizing math facts.

Reading -- Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons (we need to finish up the book) and books from Robinson Curriculum

Music -- Piano 67 Fun Songs Primer by Jon Schmidt

Foreign Language -- American Sign Language using ASL Done Right Vol. 1 & French

Swim -- Swim lessons to transition to swim team for next summer

Handwriting -- Handwriting Without Tears. He did the first book pretty quickly last year, but definitely needs refinement. It is probably due to the fact that I wasn't so strict on what he turned in to me.

 

4

Sweet Cheeks, 3.75, "preschool"

I'm not a huge supporter for preschool. To me, it's unnecessary and all that. However, my friend said she wanted to put together a preschool group, and I thought it might be nice as a way to have her out and about having fun with some friends and give me some good time to focus on working with The Animal.

I'm not sure if the preschool group is a go anymore though, I haven't heard back about it.

I'm determined to come up with some activities in a bag for her to use to keep her out of trouble (read: my makeup, or the toilet) and focusing on something worthwhile.

I'm going to plan in a set time each day to spend some time with her just reading together and some play time. She has technically two years before she's eligible for Kindergarten so I've got plenty of time to work on reading ;)

 

6

The Babe, 1

Snuggle time! Hopefully, lots of naps and playing.

 

To wrap it up

I'll give a report on how things go with our new curriculum picks after a few months into the school year. For now, I've got to go through the school budget and start purchasing stuff. Agh!

 

Next week we're going to use Easy Peasy (it's free) to get us a bit back on track since we haven't done any school over the summer like we usually do.

 

Leave a link for me to check out what you're doing this year. It's my favorite way to explore new curriculum ideas and to get to know great new people and families.