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?

An Effective & Easy Homeschool Science Curriculum You'll Love

Science is a subject that can scare even the toughest homeschool mom. I've found a curriculum that will teach your kids real science easily. My kids love this curriculum and they used to hate science. Science is one of those subjects that can scare many a homeschool mom.


So many moms say:

  • I can't homeschool high school because I can't do high school science.
  • I can't homeschool because I can't give my kids the full science education they need.
  • I can't do science because I hate science.
  • I stink at science.
  • I never got it.
  • My science teacher was an imbecile and I still haven't recovered.


Whatever the reasoning behind it is, I'm here to say, there's another way. You CAN do science, and do it well, in homeschool.

You can teach science the right way and not let's-make-a-baking-soda-volcano-and-call-it-good type science.


I'm a do-it-yourself type of gal. If I could make, grow, create, build everything I use, I totally would. I have a secret fantasy to live out in the middle of nowhere on a huge ranch/farm and just live off what we produce and make with our own hands.

My husband, being Mr. Indoorsy, would like to stay close to civilization.

As as DIY-er, I love to cobble together my own homeschool curriculum and I love to plan and pull together resources.


In my 6 years of homeschooling, I've realized that my time is better spent NOT doing that.

Not sapping my energy trying to put together the best resources I can find (and not spending tons of money) and not pouring all my limited energy into building a curriculum.

So, what curriculum would I use?


When I first decided to homeschool, I searched for weeks for THE BEST science curriculum for my children. I found Real Science-4-Kids and started teaching my kiddos Chemistry.

Then, the next year, I got hit by the "I need to do more more more" bug, and thought, this needs to be harder (for me) for it to be effective.

Can I get a collective eye roll?


Sometime last year I slapped my own face and rolled my eyes so far back I fell asleep for a week.


I've been on the hunt for science goodness for my kids ever since.

Something that could satisfy my desire for a real, thorough, and solid education. Something that wouldn't be one more thing to do that never got done because I was overwhelmed, and wouldn't be something that I'd never do because I'd forget to grab the stinking supplies.... again.

I happened again on Real Science-4-Kids. This time, their grade level curriculum instead of by individual subject.

I received this for free in exchange for my honest review and compensated for my time, not my opinion.Science is a subject that can scare even the toughest homeschool mom. I've found a curriculum that will teach your kids real science easily. My kids love this curriculum and they used to hate science.


I have 5th, 3rd, 2nd, and PreK/K graders. My 5th grader is behind in science (remember that cobbling that lead to burnout, which led to not doing it consistently?) so I decided to go with the 3rd grade level to meet in the middle. Pull my 2nd grader up, meet my 3rd grader, and help my 5th grader to be confident while he improves.


I love RS4K because it gives you a taste of each science subject. Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Earth, and Astronomy for a total of 22 lessons.

My kids, who keep telling me they don't like science, enjoy reading the textbook, looking at the pictures, and then seeing for themselves with their own experiments.


That's my favorite bit.

What they read in the student textbook is then proven to them through a simple, doable, no random expensive materials required, experiments.

Little Miss (3rd grader), was all about learning why oil and water don't mix and then why when you add soap they do. In fact, I loved learning about it.


Science is a subject that can scare even the toughest homeschool mom. I've found a curriculum that will teach your kids real science easily. My kids love this curriculum and they used to hate science.

Science is a subject that can scare even the toughest homeschool mom. I've found a curriculum that will teach your kids real science easily. My kids love this curriculum and they used to hate science.


The way they show the molecules in the book made it visually easy for the kids to see the similarities, differences, and connections within the lesson. They could see why water and sugar mix and why water and oil do not just by looking at the picture.


Captain (the 5th grader) is not groaning when I say it's time for science. He's especially excited to do the experiments.

I call that a major win.


We received 3 books. Student Textbook, Teacher's Manual, and the Laboratory Notebook. Not one of these books are unnecessary. They each play an important part.


The Student Textbook has all the lessons, written out easily for the kids to understand, but not dumbed down.

We've read these lessons together, and I've had them read them with each other (while I'm taking care of the baby).

We've also read some of the chapters during morning time as review and extra time to sneak science into our school days.


Science is a subject that can scare even the toughest homeschool mom. I've found a curriculum that will teach your kids real science easily. My kids love this curriculum and they used to hate science.


The Laboratory Notebook has all the pre-lab questions to think about, and answer, the graphs, charts, and notes sections for the experiments, and then follow up questions after the lab is over to summarize what you've learned, compare your hypothesis with the results, and wrap it up nicely with an explanation as to what happened and why back in the Teacher's Manual.


The Teacher's Manual tells you what materials are needed for each lesson, how to conduct the lesson, what questions to ask, in what order, etc. You don't have to think.

If you're running behind on prep time, you know you can just open it up and go without having to teach yourself first.



The hallmarks of a good curriculum are:

•my kids understand it

•my kids want to do it

•my kids are learning and retaining at each lesson

•it's easy for me to do, even if I am sick, tired, stressed, or busy

•it's accurate

•I enjoy it

•I'm learning/re-learning

I'm sure there's some other standards, but these cover the most basic of my standards and benchmarks.

Real Science-4-Kids meets them all.

Teaching science when life is chaotic

After having had 6 babies, 3 while I homeschooling , and having HG each time, being able to give my children a quality education when I'm laid out on the couch, not having been able to keep down food or water in 24+ hours, exhausted, worn out, and stressed is vital.

I can't pile on guilt on top of all those other things!


I may be done with having children, but understanding days don't always work out, and the fact that life happens, no matter what you plan-- I always want to have in place something that is going to work for my family no matter the circumstance.


I don't mean to sound so maudlin, but having a wonderful science curriculum takes away stress and worry from my shoulders.  I can cross this worry off my list when I'm laying there at night, worrying.

Worrying I'm missing something, worrying I'm not doing enough, worrying my kids will turn into horrible people or with no prospect at happiness and success and intelligence.

Because of course, when we're worrying, we're never rational.

I can say to myself, "Rochelle, but you're doing science, they're doing it, they're getting it, they may not be science geniuses, but gosh dang it, they're smart and they're not going to start killing kittens because you homeschooled them."


It's real, solid, quality science

I don't want to teach my kids fluff. I want them to know what's what and really grasp and appreciate science for all that it's given our society and its possibilities.

My dream is for each of my children to fall in love with science, but since I can't control them (darn it), I'm going to settle for having a good understanding of it.


This is real science, not watered-down fluff. My kids are learning real science terms, real concepts, and referring to the things they're learning as though they were already scientists.

I'd encourage you to read this fantastic interview of Dr Keller (the author) and how this curriculum is different. This interview was a major reason why I fell in love with RS4K.


If you're looking for a science curriculum to get you headed in the right direction, to be your spine, then I highly highly recommend RS4K. Each year builds on each other, from Kindergarten all the way up to their newest release, grade 7.


If you're the unit study type, you can totally build off of the units within the text to suit your needs, and you know you'll have a solid foundation to turn to. If you wish, you can always use their Focus series to really explore the separate concentrations.


If you're the let's try lots of curricula type (raising my hand), then definitely use RS4K. I have several science curriculum for this school year. I have two that we will use as supplements, as specific units, but this one, is our main spine, our main constant.


When you aren't the biggest fan of science

Now, I can say this-- I love specific science concentrations. I love love biology and astronomy. I can appreciate chemistry for its coolness factor (but I sure hate those equations). I appreciate the other sciences, but I don't love to study them.

At least, I didn't.

The fact that RS4K has all the major concentrations of science is fantastic. I loathe physics and earth science is meh. Rocks? Yawn fest. I'd much rather learn about the body, elements, and the planets.

We've just started the physics section of the 3rd grade RS4K's text and I've gotta be honest, it's not bad at all! I've re-learned some things and am enjoying myself.

I love that it's set for me. I don't have to plan it, think about it, research it, none of that. I love that I can make sure my least favorite subjects are being taught well and my feelings won't effect my children.

Because really, I'm finding that physics isn't that bad. Plus, my kids are loving it.


Get Real Science-4-Kids for yourself

Since we're all on a tight budget, I love a good deal and sale.

Right now RS4K has a referral program going on.

You can get a $20 payback reward toward purchase for each referred friend who makes a purchase.

Plus, if your friends buy before September 30th they get 30% off.

You also can get $30 off too, if you purchase through this link.



Winning all around!

I love this. Such a caring company looking out for the best of us homeschool families.

With each $20 you can turn around and buy next year's curriculum!


To sum it up

Look at what's most important to you in a homeschool curriculum. Let go of the things you think you ought to be doing and what others are. What is it that you value the most? What are your goals for your children?

Use those as a jumping point. If your goals and standards are anywhere near mine, then I suggest, friend to friend, that you look into RS4K.


How to Use a Rigorous Curriculum (Even if Your Kids Aren't Gifted)

I received this product for free and am being compensated for the time to write the review.  This is an honest review of the product.

Maybe you don't think your kids are gifted. That's okay, you can STILL use a rigorous curriculum designed for gifted students to stretch their abilities.


Use a rigorous curriculum? Just what do you mean, Rochelle?

What's a rigorous curriculum?


Let's define what rigorous curriculum means. It's a curriculum that's not easy, not comfortable, not your average mamby-pamby stuff.

I'm not talking impossible. I'm not talking tear-inducing rigorous.

I'm referring to the feelings YOU get when you look at the curriculum.


Are you nervous it might be a little too much for your children? Are you unsure if they'll get it? That you can do it?


You want a good balance of doable and scary. It's just like picking a book for your kid to read.

You don't want to hand your 5th grader an easy reader. Your child isn't going to stretch their reading abilities.

You don't hand him a 5" thick book on quantum physics either and expect him to understand everything.


You want a book that's easy enough to give confidence, yet hard enough to push their abilities and stretch their minds.

THIS is what I mean by picking a rigorous curriculum.

Is that clearer now?


But my children... gifted?

I would NOT consider my children gifted.

They're smart, just sometimes I wonder if they know what color the sky is.


I want them to be gifted, but I'll be honest, I probably am to blame for part of it. I haven't pushed them near as hard as I could.


I purchase rigorous curriculum, and have high expectations, but then sometimes, I just don't hold them to it.

And sometimes, yes, I even underestimate them.


What's a homeschool mom to do?

Stop underestimating them. Stop underestimating me!

I resolved to change, to do better, to push push push because ohmygosh, I only have 8 years left with my oldest!!!

Panic time! How in the world am I going to make sure he's ready for college and life in just 8 years.


Someone get the smelling salts, I'm going to pass out.


I sat down with myself, gave myself a good talking to, and started to think.

  • What were the areas my kids were struggling in?
  • What are they behind in
  • What could they do do better in?
  • Where do I want them to be at the end of their time homeschooling?
  • At the end of this year?


Then I took each piece of curriculum I had and evaluated it based on this clear criteria.

Some things were great, I just needed to enforce it better.

Some things, not so great.


I needed a different science curriculum. I love my Unit Studies, and I will keep doing them, I just find that it's so easy for me to drop things or not do them because I think they'll be too hard, or too time consuming, or whatever the reason.

Or I don't make it challenging enough.

Either way, it's lame.


An easy solution


Then came into my life, The College of William & Mary and their Center for Gifted Children (published by Kendall Hunt).

I saw, "for gifted children," and nearly clicked away, but then I got to thinking....


My daughter loves vegetables because I told her years ago she loved veggies. She proudly walks around telling everyone she loves veggies and she does! She tries every single one of them and eats broccoli.

I loathe broccoli.

The point is-- if I tell my kids they can do this science curriculum, then they may just believe me.

If I tell myself they can as well, then I'll approach it with a higher expectation and better perspective.

Sounds cooky, but guess what, it totally works.


Picking which unit study I'd try first was HARD. I have a 1st, 2nd, and 4th grader (the rest are preschool, toddler, and baby).

My 4th grader was the most behind, my 2nd grader is advanced, and my 1st grader is capable, but struggles with focus.


I picked the grades 2-4 level, What a Find! --  a unit study on archaeology. So cool.


Maybe you don't think your kids are gifted. That's okay, you can STILL use a rigorous curriculum designed for gifted students to stretch their abilities.


Oh the books are beautiful. They are jam packed with goodness. Instructions, dialogue, examples, problems to solve, documents, assignments, and handouts.

Maybe you don't think your kids are gifted. That's okay, you can STILL use a rigorous curriculum designed for gifted students to stretch their abilities.



Maybe you don't think your kids are gifted. That's okay, you can STILL use a rigorous curriculum designed for gifted students to stretch their abilities.


Maybe you don't think your kids are gifted. That's okay, you can STILL use a rigorous curriculum designed for gifted students to stretch their abilities.


Holy crow, I read the instruction manual the first time and thought, there's no stinking way my children are going to understand this. What am I going to do?

Some of it was hard for me to understand. It's for 2-4th grade! Maybe I'm not that smart after all. :-/


I was determined to prove myself right. My kids could do this! I just needed to give them the chance to try.


I read through the first lesson again and really pondered what it meant until I was comfortable with the topic: systems.


The next morning, I gathered the kids around the table, pulled out our white board and a marker and got started.

I love that they have us talk about a refrigerator, something each of my children are very familiar with (hello, they're sneaking food all the time).

We labeled all the part of the fridge, talked about what it does, what goes in, what comes out, what needs to happen for it to work.

Maybe you don't think your kids are gifted. That's okay, you can STILL use a rigorous curriculum designed for gifted students to stretch their abilities.


My kids got it! They totally blew me away. Like completely and utterly. My 4 year old was even joining in on the conversation, and sometimes I'm not quite sure she knows her own name.

My 1st grader was 100% involved in the discussion, and so were my older kids.


We brainstormed other systems. They came up with a TON (you can see part of our list to the left of our fridge picture)!


When my 4-year-old named sand as a system, the other kids quickly realized that no, sand is not a system. Using the system parts they just learned, and the new vocabulary, they explained why sand was not a system.


They decided that sand was part of 2 other systems: the desert and ocean.


My Proud Mama tears were shed that day. Inside, of course.


I absolutely adore the problem-based study. It presents a problem to my kids. Since What a Find! is about archaeology, the problems are what an archaeologist would face every day.


Maybe you don't think your kids are gifted. That's okay, you can STILL use a rigorous curriculum designed for gifted students to stretch their abilities.


Then we brainstorm what we need to know to solve the problems, the materials needed, the information needed, and any other important tidbit.

After that, we go about finding that information, come back, present it, and move forward with the next bit of problem until we are at the final dig where we put it all together.


It's really got my kids thinking, processing, and solving problems. They're getting it and doing fantastically.

I'm feeling more and more confident with their abilities as we go through each lesson. THEY are feeling more confident.


I'm realizing, they can do this. We can do this. I'm profoundly excited and relieved to know that my kids are capable of this high caliber curriculum.

I realized I wasn't pushing them to their full potential. I was staying safe.


Adding in more rigorous curriculum

Once we're done with this unit, we're adding in history and another science unit.


With the remainder of our curriculum and plans for the year I've decided each one will be given the full push. If it's not stretching my kids it's getting the heave-ho.

I only have so much time with each of my babies.

I only have so much time to teach the what they need to be able to do, understand, and know before they're moving out.


I know it sounds dramatic, and maybe I am being a bit dramatic, but we mothers know it's true. We don't have a lot of time even to teach them basic character habits, and as homeschool moms we have an even bigger job in front of us.


Your Turn

Give your curriculum a good thorough going over. What could be improved upon? Where are they struggling? What's not challenging enough?

William & Mary has science, social studies, and language arts curriculum to challenge your kids at just the right level.


Be sure to follow William & Mary so you can connect with them and find out more about all they have to offer. Facebook & Twitter.



The Math Solution For Every Child

Are you in desperate need of a math solution for your child, or all of your children? Have you looked everywhere and just about thrown in the towel thinking, "it's because you're a bad homeschool mom, or your children just don't thrive in homeschooling after all?"

That is a miserable miserable miserable feeling. Don't dwell on them; they're no good. I'll show you our solution.


Are you in desperate need of a math solution for your children? I found a program that helped each child, with very different needs, conquer their own math struggles. No more tears, no more power struggles, just enjoyment and true learning. Bonus: it's super affordable. Check it out to see if it'll bless your family.

I received this product for free, was compensated for my time, but was not required to give a positive review. I only recommend products that I truly love.


When I was a kid I loved loved math. And then, I didn't.

I hated it and couldn't figure it out. I sat in class panicking. How did all the other students know the answer when I didn't even remember learning the concepts they were discussing??

That's not a happy feeling.


My own math struggle

I remember exactly when that shift began.

We moved from North Carolina back to Texas during 4th grade. In NC we were just starting fractions and percents; in Texas, they'd finished them months ago.

I never learned them formally.


Are you in desperate need of a math solution for your children? I found a program that helped each child, with very different needs, conquer math struggles.


Then, 7th grade. Miss Emille.

It was 7th period; Miss Emille would turn on the overhead projector and show us the filled out transparency. She said, "this is what you do, then this. Here's your class assignment, here's your homework."

Bam. Done.

The transparency was illegible: the nub of the green marker must've been pulverized because the marks were so fat you couldn't tell if it was a percent sign, an 8, or a monkey.

This transparency was "teaching" us how to do the problems.

Then, she'd go over to her desk, pull out her box of twinkles and eat them.

She'd ignore us. We couldn't get any help from her.

I'm not even exaggerating.

A BOX of Twinkies! She'd eat the entire box and read her magazines. Maybe go visit another teacher.

At that time, I was still good at math and enjoyed it. Kids crowded around my desk asking for help. Yeah, asking another student to teach them math when a teacher sat just feet from them.

That was the last year I was ever good at math.

When I was in college, a great professor helped me remember that I truly did love math and could be good at it.

Searching for a perfect math solution

You can see why gaps in my children's math education, or using sub-par curriculum is something I'm avidly against.

I scoured the inter webs since the moment we decided to homeschool for the best math curriculum ever.

Admitedly, I jumped around.

We used Singapore, then Saxon, then settled on Math U See, and started to dabble with Life of Fred.


My children's math struggles

Let me explain the weird math world that's in our home. Maybe it's not so weird, feel free to reassure me if it's not.



Are you in desperate need of a math solution for your children? I found a program that helped each child, with very different needs, conquer math struggles.

The Captain


  • Oldest child
  • Boy
  • 10
  • Entering 5th grade.

Before the summer of 3rd grade we were using Saxon. He couldn't add and they were starting division. We switched to MUS (the Alpha level) and he took off. By the middle of 4th grade he was in pre-algebra. Wow! The kid loves math and does really well with it.

He doesn't want to stop doing his 2 hours of math.

Also, he's in such a hurry to get to the next level that he skips practice sheets, tries to skip the tests, and then gets mad when he doesn't understand the next 5 lessons.  Then I get upset and make him start all over from the beginning.

He's had to start over twice and I'm thinking he may have to for Pre-Algebra as well.

Little Miss


  • Second child
  • Girl
  • 8
  • Entering 3rd grade

We started her with Saxon and then switched over to Math U See that same summer and she did fantastic. Then, all of a sudden, last year she decided she wasn't good at math. She started crying and there were lots of power struggles.

Little Miss is smart and capable and it just drives me up a wall that all of a sudden she doesn't think girls are good at math and that's it.

I want to throat punch the fool that put that notion into her head.

She whines and prolongs the whole process for 2 hours.

Meaning, at the end of the day, she has to go back to the table and finish her lesson. She's my most stubborn and strong-willed child, and also the smartest (don't tell my other kids).


Are you in desperate need of a math solution for your children? I found a program that helped each child, with very different needs, conquer math struggles.

The Animal


  • Middle child
  • Boy
  • 7
  • Entering 2nd grade

He's a smart dude. He just does everything in his power to NOT do anything school related. I'd have to sit on his head to keep him on task. Sometimes, I'm tempted to.

The Animal lays on the floor, makes a fort with the table, makes his flashcards into motorcycles, or visits the bathroom for the 10th time.

He takes 2 hours to do half a page of math that I KNOW he could do in 5 minutes if he'd just do it.


Sweet Cheeks


  • 4th child
  • Girl
  • 4.5
  • Technically preschool, but not really

She's desparate to do school like her siblings, but Mama is exhausted (hashimotos, adrenal fatigue, candida overgrowth, a 4 month old baby, and a 2-year-old) and doesn't have the mental energy all the time to "do school" with her.

Sweet Cheeks stands by my side begging for more worksheets more worksheets more worksheets!!! Never mind that she totally trashed the last 8 I gave her.


Are you in desperate need of a math solution for your children? I found a program that helped each child, with very different needs, conquer math struggles.

Teddy Bear and Baby

Teddy Bear is in the kitchen, throwing away measuring spoons and cups again. The Baby is spitting up all over me. Again.


I love homeschooling and my sweet crazy children, but good grief, I want to see some progress!


Our math solution

Here's the solution we've found, quite by providence.

CTC Math Membership


Dude. This has a solution for ALL of my children. ALL of them.

They have such varying needs and it covers all of them.

The perfect math solution for my math nut, my math-resistant child, my unfocused child, and my eager-to-learn child. I know it'll have solutions for my 2 littles when they get older as well. No doubt.


How CTC Math helps our homeschool



  • He goes through the lessons, and it tracks his progress.
  • I assign him tasks that he has to complete first.
  • He can't sneak-skip assignments. The way the questions are laid out, he really can't skip a question.
  • Multiple attempts are allowed: he can try again and again, without having to re-write the questions or erase the page (and rip it).
  • I can go back and evaluate what he's done so I can see where he needs more help and assign around that.
  • Their passing score is set to 90% and can be adjusted to your standards.
  • I can see how many times he took to achieve the score he received.

Are you in desperate need of a math solution for your children? I found a program that helped each child, with very different needs, conquer math struggles.

Little Miss

  • This girl cheers when it's time for math. "I love CTC math!" is a frequent phrase from her lips. CHEERS!!? Did you hear me? Cheers. *sniff sniff*
  • Started on the 2nd grade level and is whizzing through. I knew she could do it, and now she's realizing she can too. To me, that's the biggest win.
  • Scores and award medals are just the motivation she needs.
  • Takes a diagnostic test and can skip the lessons if she passes (90%) and gets even more excited.
  • Ablity to jump around to suit her interests that day and take a break from something that may be giving her trouble.


Are you in desperate need of a math solution for your children? I found a program that helped each child, with very different needs, conquer math struggles.


  • Stays engaged the entire time and doesn't wander around making motorcycle sounds.
  • Loves the math fact speed test (pictured above). You can hear him cheering and shouting to with joy as he gets more and more right each time he does it.
  • Motivated to work on his multiplication so he can play the drill game (shooting cute spaceships and aliens-- nothing violent).
  • Minimal help is needed, he works 85% independently.
  • When help with understanding a question, he works with his older siblings. It creates a great bond and unity. They love to help him.
  • He's made so much progress with his math in the past several months than he did with our previous math curriculum because the videos and questions are engaging enough that he will sit and listen.
  • Wearing Dad's headphones and sitting at his computer make him feel special.
  • He's motivated by the scores.


Are you in desperate need of a math solution for your children? I found a program that helped each child, with very different needs, conquer math struggles.

Sweet Cheeks

  • Started the kindergarten work and loves it. The problem I have now is that she's constantly begging to do CTC Math. It's a good problem to have. Some days.
  • Can work with just a touch of guidance and monitoring.
  •  Animal does his best to help her and the older two as well. It has helped with Animal's motivation to read because if he can read well he can be his sister's "teacher."


I cannot believe how much one program has helped my children.


They have: consistency, no gaps, and quality.


I'll have to cover is the American measurement system. I actually love that it goes over the metric system so well. One day I'll hop on and do a refresher.


I am no longer worried about my children missing something important that I didn't even think of, or realize that their curriculum was missing.

That's the biggest fear of us homeschool parents, amiright?

Well... besides, "I'm messing up their lives forever!"

I'm no longer fighting math time.

How we use CTC Math curriculum

If you're not familiar with our family, we use the Robinson Curriculum. It's a pretty simple layout and it's all about children working independently. Which I'm a huge believer of.

In a nutshell everyday we do: 

  • 2 hours of math
  • 2 hours of reading
  • 1 hour of writing

We do other things along with that, but those are the bones of our school days.

For our 2 hours of math we do:

  • 1 hour with MUS or Life of Fred
  • 1 hour of CTC Math.

We'll stick to this method for the next quarter and then re-evaluate to decide if CTC Math is going to be our main math curriculum or a supplement. No matter what, it's staying.

I like having multiple ways of looking at one type of problem. My friend, Karen, from Living Unabridged said something so similar, it's like we're the same person.


It's so important to make sure that your kids can not only understand the concept, but to answer the same questions when presented in a different manner.


Just like those dreaded word problems. Sure you can do it when it's presented to you in an equation, but can you do it when it's presented as a real-life situation?

Using 2 curriculums is fantastic to determine your child's understanding of math concepts.


Oh! One more thing.

Each of my children have their own separate accounts, usernames, and passwords. They love love having their own username and password that I matched to things they love to do.

My kids felt so special when I told them their usernames and passwords. It was adorable.

Their background color can be changed to match their favorite color. Little Miss discovered this one day and promptly turned hers pink.

My recommendation + where to buy CTC Math

I urge you: give CTC Math a whirl.

They've got a trial membership. Hallelujah for trials!

There is a sweet deal for homeschool families.

Seriously sweet: $118 for your entire family!?


I can spend that much on just ONE set of math books for ONE child. Never mind the other 3 (soon 5). In addition, I can't pass it on, unless I have the kids copy the problems onto a separate page.

Each child has their own account and can work on Kindergarten math all the way to Calculus. No copying, cutting, page protecting, or erasing required. The need to penny pinch is gone.


Even better than $118 is FREE.

Win a free CTC Math Membership


CTC Math is giving away memberships to FIVE homeschool families.

Fo' free (that's cool kid talk for wow, that's really free).



Be sure to enter-- you have a high chance of winning!

And after you win, I know you'll come back and love me so much you'll send me a plate of cookies (just make sure they're grain free, sugar free, and dairy free).

I want some cookies. So really, I'm being selfish.


Already have a math curriculum you love and adore and just pull it out to stare at its loveliness? Yes, even you should sign up for a free trial and see if it's something that will bless your family.

Oh, and I don't get any money or anything like that if you do. Just in case you're wondering.


To sum it all up... get it?

CTC Math really blessed my family and has become our serious math solution to our serious math problem.

It covers the needs of each of my children, who are so different from one another, AND it covers MY needs as a mother and a homeschool teacher.

I do frequently say that you need a curriculum and plan that works with YOU more than your children, but this is a sum up, not a novel, so I'll save that lecture for another day. 

Give the free trial a whirl and be sure to enter the amazing giveaway.

Find CTC Math on Facebook, YouTube, Periscope, and Pinterest for more ideas, helps, and to connect with this great company.

Your Turn

Do you use CTC Math? Tell me all about it.

Be sure to come back and tell me how the trial went!


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.


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?






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




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.


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.


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


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.



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 ;)



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.

Writing Lessons: Build Your Own


How are you teaching your kids to write?

Following a set curriculum? Making it up as you go? Somewhere in between?


Through the years we've followed a set curriculum and it just didn't seem to stick. I'm not sure why, perhaps it's just the way my kids are wired.

Writing is a passion of mine. It's what I do day in and day out. If I couldn't write I'd shrivel up and die. No hyperbole here.


I want this for my kids.


I know they can't be just like me, and that's for the best. I don't need them to have this incredible driving passion for writing.

I also don't want them to look like all those nincompoops I see all over the internet that can't string words together, nor spell them correctly.


Where are my talons so I can scratch my eyes out?


*digs in diaper bag*

Found 'em!


I want my children to be intelligent human beings capable of sharing their intelligence in many forms and mediums.

In order to do this I've rethought our method.  I'm so freaking excited about it I could pass out from excitement fumes!


writing lessons


Let me just tell you what we're doing. What I know so far, and what I don't know so far. After that maybe you can help me fill in the gaps. Sound like a plan?

The basic plan

[Tweet "Write something every day. "]

The slightly more complicated version

I know, I'm being a pill (as my Mama would say with a quick snap of the dishtowel).


My goals for the kiddos

Since I can't just say "be amazing writers" I need some measurable goals.

  • Record their daily life
  • Learn letter writing skills
  • Develop relationships with far away family
  • Connect in meaningful ways with the world around them
  • Understand structure of sentences, paragraphs, essays, stories
  • Have ownership of their writing
  • Learn grammar rules and use them well

Okay, maybe those aren't yet measurable. I'm a filthy liar, what can I say?  I'll get right on that.


What the heck are they gonna write?

Here's what I've got so far.  I've included some links for your inspiration.


Monthly Newsletter

I came up with this when doing my round up of Back to School ideas.

Create a monthly newsletter.

What a cool way to help our parents and family connect with my children!

  • Share things they've written over the month: poems, stories, papers, etc.
  • Gymnastics and piano updates
  • Share a funny story that happened
  • Share a field trip experience
  • Let them know what's planned for next month.

The possibilities are endless!

I can't wait to start this up. I'll have this blog post to keep me accountable (Hi Mom)!



I'm not a big poetry person. I have nothing against it.

Wait... I lied (again), I do remember a stint back in college where I wrote a ton of poetry. It was awesome. I still remember a poem I wrote and gave to a guy (who broke up with me the day after I gave it to him - guess it was creepy :/ ).


Okay, I like some  poetry.

It would be fun for the kids to write acrostic poems for holidays, or just any other type of poems for holidays. I remember learning about haiku and thinking they were pretty cool. They might be a bit young for them this year, but it's on my to-teach list.


Letters, Postcards, Pen Pals

We'll write letters to family members. We have a billion of them. They could write one a week and still not get to all of them!

They can write letters to companies they love: LEGO, Hasbro, Barbie, American Girls, Disney characters (send it self addressed and they'll write you back), etc.

They could write the President, the Mayor, the Governor of Oregon, etc. Anyone of influence, anyone they admire.

We could do this!

I found a homeschooling pen pal group. I'm sure there are more if I just Google it!

*Side note - where would be without Google? Probably still stuck in the early 90's. (Fun fact, they started Sept 4, 1998)


Essays, Research Papers

We actually have a separate time set aside to do this kind of writing that we'll be using for KONOS.

They will have a separate paper they'll write based on a subject they're interested in. Maybe they want to write about creating board games, a famous gymnast, etc, etc.



I found this pretty cool Q&A book.

I also found this awesome idea. I bought the index cards, then realized they're the wrong size. But I haven't figured out a container for them.

The oldest 2 have composition notebooks I'll have them decorate and use as journals. I'm not sure if I want to do both the index cards and the bigger journals.

What do you think?



  • My book of writing prompts. Here are some other ones.
  • We made story stones last year that they can use to come up with a story.
  • Find a picture we like and then each create our own stories about it.
  • Story Cubes.
  • Short ones, long ones, and itty bitty ones.

I was at a teacher conference this last week and they had a great idea of modeling your own story after another book we read.

For instance, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Eric Carlyle. We could write our own book about what so and so sees and model it in the same style. Find a fairy tale -- like Cinderella and write it from someone else's perspective. The possibilities are mind boggling. And thrilling!


We'll be making our own books! I've got some blank books for us to use and we'll make some more as an art project as well.


It could be fun for me to set up an email account for the kids and have them email friends and family. I'd keep it safe and it's good typing practice.


Their own dictionary

We'll create our own dictionaries from our this year's vocab words.

I'm not sure how to do it in a way to keep it alphabetical. Maybe type it out instead of hand write it? Or just a page for each letter and not worry about alphabetical order. Any ideas?


Scripts for their videos

My kids loooove YouTube. My sons watch video game tutorials and reviews. They watch board game tutorials and reviews. They watch LEGO reviews and videos. My oldest daughter watches makeup tutorials, Littlest Pet Shop stories, and baking tutorials.

They are always pretending to make their own. Now they can!

They will write their own scripts for a review or tutorial. They also can write plays for their toys to act out and for them to act out.  I'll keep the videos private and share every once in a while.


Rules for their games

My kids, especially TC, love to make up their own games. TC will draw out his own board games. It's awesome. He'll come up with the rules as well. Now he'll write those rules down and really think about them and how they'll work out.


Setting it all up

I've created a writing station (inspired by this one) in our homeschool closet! I just set it up yesterday and it hasn't been road tested, but that's okay! I'll tweak it if necessary!


writing center 1a


1 = Bulletin board with writing resources.

2 = Letter writing materials, dictionary, thesaurus, addresses, cute mailboxes for their own notes to each other.

3 = White stack of blank books, caddies to carry supplies, silver box filled with pre-made homemade cards for holidays, brown box holds our AAS materials.


writing center 2a


1 = Letter and envelope guides, alphabet strips (can be taken to seat) and chart, and stamps.

2 = List of people they can write, folder of various book report pages.

3 = place to put our unit's vocabulary and cool printable to help teach them how to self edit.


writing center 3a

1 = Lots of paper.

2 = Reference books and eventually books we're currently reading.

3 = Various books sorted by level.

4 = Harry Potter and American Girls!

5 = Some of our art supplies.

6 = Learning materials for Sweet Cheeks.

7 = MathUSee blocks and white boards.


Picking what we'll do

I've blocked out 30 minutes every morning for the kids to work on writing.

On Mondays I will have an extra hour blocked out as well for writing.


I'm not exactly firm on how we'll plan the projects. Perhaps devote one writing project to one week.

For instance, if they're writing a story, give them every morning to work on it and extra time during Monday's hour block. If they finish it earlier they work on something else, of course.

Depending on the project they may not need a whole week to get it done.

I'm going to be somewhat flexible with the timing.  I will need some control over the projects or else we'd probably only be writing scripts for their videos.

I'll think about this more as we go and come up with a solid plan, but a loose schedule.


When thinking about our new writing plan I feel like this guy:


♥ Rochelle

Tell me your ideas!

What am I missing?

What have you tried that your kids loved?

What didn't work?

Follow Rochelle Barlow's board Homeschool + Writing and Reading on Pinterest. Check out my Pinterest board for Reading and Writing ideas. I'll be adding to this board all year long!

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This post contains affiliate links. This do not effect the price for you at all. They earn me a tiny commission (which goes towards school supplies) should you decide to purchase any of the items ! See full disclosure.

Build Your Own Home Ec

Don't you just love to see your children grow in independence? I want to foster this in them more.


I was inspired by a post I read over at Simple Homeschool a few years back. Since then I've been waiting for my kids to be old enough to do it with.


It's an Adult Skills Class


home ec


It's a  Home Ec course, but I'm including lots more topics than your typical Home Ec class.

I think... I never took it in high school.


Don't hassle me if I'm way off. I can only be perfect 2% of the time.


Create Your Materials

They will each have a 1/2" binder. In it will be their syllabus, recipes, instructions (for non-food lessons), and glossary.


What's in the syllabus?

Their individual schedules, expectations, guidelines, checklists, and evaluations.

Now this may sound hardcore, but it's not really.


Since I will have 2 children doing this with me this year they will be on a schedule (this is for my sanity). The expectations and guidelines are how the course will be run and what they are expected to do. It's 3 sentences long.

Checklists: guide them through the process of preparation, reading instructions/recipes, safety, and just making sure they don't skip a step. Nothing too fancy here.

Evaluations are merely if they've completed the task and are ready to perform it on their own.


Adult Skills Class printables


I've created a simple syllabus here that you may use if you wish. It includes  the sections, schedule, expectations, checklist, and cover sheet. I've included what we are planning and then some blank pages for you.

This is a Google Doc for you to edit. Just make a copy of the file and it's yours to edit and personalize. Enjoy!


Get the materials here!  or Get the PDF here >>> [download id="2042"]


Plan Your Semester

I've picked 2 days to do this class on with each kid. They will get 2 lessons a week. I will do the first two sections at the same time. or thereabout. I will cover sections 1 and 2 in 30 weeks then 3 and 4 over the summer.

I'll split it up like this:

The Captain: Baking Saturday, Cooking Sunday

Little Miss: Cooking Saturday, Baking Sunday

They will not be doing the same items that same weekend or eating life would be very dull. Hence the need for a schedule.

I would like to have been able to spread it out over the week, but these are the days that will work for us.

They will do each lesson 3 times. 1 - Mom teaches, 2 - Mom watches, 3 - By themselves.


If having 2 lessons a week per child becomes too overwhelming then I'll spread them out to 1 lesson a week.


Pick Your Topics

Now comes the fun part!

I'll break down each section and list out what I've got planned. You can pick your own! Or use what I'm doing.

1st section - Baking

  1. Chocolate Chip cookies
  2. Bread
  3. Blueberry muffins
  4. Chocolate Cake and frosting
  5. Rolls
  6. Biscuits
  7. Brownies
  8. Peach pie (or some other pie)
  9. Their choice
  10. Their choice

2nd section - Cooking

*Prior to these lessons I will do a special week of knife skills and safety class. It's too important not to!

  1. Dinner salad
  2. Tacos
  3. Spaghetti
  4. Chicken Alfredo
  5. Pot Roast
  6. Baked Potatoes/Mashed Potatoes/Roasted Potatoes
  7. Two Timin' Pasta
  8. Pizza
  9. Eggs & Sausage
  10. Pancakes

3rd section - Household skills

My kids are already doing lots of chores, but I wanted to add to their repertoire and all that.

  1. Menu plan
  2. Grocery list
  3. Make bed (with corners and pretty)
  4. Stain removal (clothes, carpet, couch)
  5. Iron
  6. Paint a wall, etc
  7. Minor repairs
  8. Budget
  9. Save money
  10. Wash the car (in and out)

4th section - Misc skills

  1. Check the oil
  2. Check the weather
  3. Build something (using hammer and/or screwdriver)
  4. Use the library to the fullest (searching, researching, reserving)
  5. Braid hair (even for my boys)
  6. Hair styles (mostly for girls, but a few different things for boys)
  7. Lead a song
  8. Google
  9. Emails
  10. Get directions and navigate to location


I reserve the right to alter this at any time. :)


As they get older

I will add more meals to learn. I will also teach them to time the meal so that all the dishes are ready at the same time. We'll add in a babysitting and sewing course as well.


What do you think?

I'm super excited!


I was going to come up with some snazzy crazy fun-filled name, but my children liked Adult Skills Class better. My oldest son is dying to be an adult (poor kid), so that was definitely a big plus for him.


My kiddos are always wanting to help cook and be in the kitchen with me. This is the perfect way for them to participate and for me to let go of the control issues I have in the kitchen!

I'll be honest, I'm worried about them and raw chicken and ovens. I may have to put things in the oven myself for now, just so I don't have to add another thing to stress over.


I do think they'll grow in many ways and I think I will, too.


When talking to The Captain about this new class we'd be doing he stated, "Then I can take care of you, Mom!"

That's exactly why, my boy. That's exactly why.

No Top Ramen for me, and no wrinkly grandma pants.


Call to action:

Leave a comment:

  • What are some skills I may have missed?
  • Do you have a favorite memory of cooking with your parents?


Don't forget to snag your free printable my friends!  Get the doc here!  or snage this version [download id="2042"]


♥ Rochelle

photo via Love From Ginger

Our 2014 - 2015 Curriculum Picks

Back to school is much more renewing to me than New Years will ever be.  

It's a time of new beginnings, renewed motivation, along with the opportunity to learn, explore, and discover.

But let's be honest, who doesn't love the smell thrill of new school supplies?!


The best part of being a homeschooler is when the UPS man comes to your door day after day with boxes of curriculum. It's like Christmas time. The kids get just as excited about it as I do.


We have a lot of fun stuff planned this year. I'm pretty excited about it. I'm also pretty nervous about it, to be honest.


We have a lot going on in our regular life already. I have 3 different jobs and a new baby.

I'll spare you my pity party for today. Just for today.


2014-15 Curriculum Picks


I'll start in birth order by first listing their separate work and then put what they'll do all together at the bottom.


The Captain

The Captain - 3rd Grade

*No, that's not his real name. I refer to my children with their "online names" for privacy and protection. There's too many creepers out there. *


Little MIss

Little Miss - 1st/2nd Grade

I always say she's 1st/2nd grade because through the charter school we do school through she's technically 1st grade. She does everything 2nd grade, except reading. Actually her math right now is finishing up 1st grade and then moving on to 2nd grade.



The Animal

The Animal - Kindergarten

I can see him breezing through his math. We're doing Kindergarten low-key. That's how I roll.



Sweet Cheeks

Sweet Cheeks - Tot School

I'm not a huge believer in doing preschool. There's nothing wrong with it, but I don't stress over it. My children learn naturally on their own with the things we do and from watching their older siblings. I will have things for her to do though, to keep her busy and feeling like a big kid.


  • Busy Bag/Box items
  • Dry erase board and dry erase pencils
  • Dollar spot color packs and school stuff from Target
  • Coloring books - the girl loves to color
  • Legos - she builds with Legos all day long
  • Counting
  • Letter of the Week - whenever we feel like it
  • Give her mini jobs
  • Naps!


Teddy Bear

Teddy Bear - Babyhood

He's just going to spend his time eating, sleeping, pooping, and spitting up. He'll get lots of snuggle time in. I've got a ring sling he'll spend a lot of time in.

Combined Subjects

KONOS - Volume II.

Konos is a unit study based curriculum. It covers history, science, writing, reading, character study, scripture study, art, geography, and on and on. I'm going to use their co-op this year to get used to it and have an extra layer of help and direction. Plus, it'll help me to remain accountable.

I love that it covers Kindergarten - 8th grade. I plan on going more into Konos in a later post.





Piano - Jon Schmidt Primer -- This is for The Captain and Little Miss. If you've heard of Piano Guys, this is their method and music to teaching piano!

Drums - Riff Academy -- I just found this online music academy. You can learn guitar, bass, drums, and keyboard for a monthly subscription. The Captain and The Animal both want to learn the drums. I may want to die. We won't be starting drums right away. We need to save up some money for a stinking drum set. I remember my cousin had a practice pad of some sort when he was younger and he used that. I thought about that, but wasn't sure if it'd be too different from learning on a real set of drums. I'll have to talk to Riff Academy for their thoughts. Do y'all know of any good options?

Other instruments -- My kids all want to play the piano and one other instrument. I think though, that for this year we'll start just on piano. TC may start drums in the spring. After that I'll see how we're doing before I add anymore in.



Family Time Fitness

TC - He's still trying to decide between Gymnastics, Swimming (prep for swim team), and Martial Arts. He will do Basketball once the season starts up in January

LM - Gymnastics. She wants to dance as well. We may put her in Jazz or in Ballet. For now she wants gymnastics more.

TA - Gymnastics and soccer in the spring. Animal is our natural athlete. The kid can do anything. He probably runs faster than I can. It's hard to pick a sport for him.


Writing Project

I've got a fun writing project idea that I am setting up right now. I'll have a whole post about it for ya!


Adult Skills Class

I'm making a whole course up for my kids to develop adult life skills. I'll have a post about it for you as well!



Each week I'll have a poem, quote, or scripture verse for the kids to memorize. We'll work on it in the morning when we go over the calendar. Nothing too flashy, just a bit to get them to learn good things and to work those brain cells.

I know KONOS has some memorization stuff as well.


Video Project

Each of my 3 oldest kids get to pick a special thing they want to learn this year. LM wanted art. TC wants to make his own movies and videos. TA hasn't decided yet. I'll be working with TC to make videos of all sorts. Video book reports, video presentations, tutorials, acting out stories, and showing off the new skills he's learning. He's going to die of excitement and it's gonna be awesome.  I'll give more updates on how that all goes down.



Gotta learn a foreign language right!? Why not learn one your parent is fluent in?

I've taught them ASL over the years and they each knew it as a baby. This year I'll be doing a more focused learning and using my own curriculum. I'll share our journey with y'all!



That's it!


That's it, right!? You see what I mean!?


On top of all this TC is in Cub Scouts this year and I always said I'd put LM in Girl Scouts (or a similar group). I may have to have her wait a year. We are in a homeschool club this year. I'm super excited about it. They do co-ops, clubs, field trips, and parties. Plus, our charter school has campus classes the kids could go to and holiday parties.


It's going to be hecka busy. But hecka fun!!!


Tomorrow I'll be going over how to schedule all this stuff so you don't rip your head off screaming.


What are y'all doing this year?

♥ Rochelle

Homeschool: How To Get Started :: Pick a Curriculum!?

HS get started  


It's time to pick a curriculum. This is the part that can be tricky.


Okay, deciding to homeschool was the hardest part. Then picking a method was next hardest. Now, it's time for curriculum.


I won't lie, you may find yourself agonizing over things you never expected to agonize over. Don't give up though!


Let me walk you through some things that have helped me in choosing.


Just like with picking a method -- you are NEVER locked in. Changing your mind is allowed. Pretty promise.




I will do my best to not get all long-winded on you today. I know I have a tendency to ramble. Just be glad I'm not talking to you in person! I just get excited and my brain starts to explode with information and it has to come out!!


1. Pick a method


Haven't chosen yet? Don't worry about it. You still have time to think about your method.


You can start looking around while keeping the few methods that you're thinking about in mind. Did that sentence make sense to you? Hope so.


If you've picked a method you've narrowed your choices down a good amount. For instance, Classical education has curriculum they recommend or have made themselves. Unschooling, you're not going to be looking at traditional curriculum. Etc.


If you've chosen a method, go through the resources I posted. The methodology books will frequently recommend  curriculum. You can bet your boots that the bloggers that post about those particular methods will have shared their curriculum picks.  Do a search for that method + curriculum and you'll find even more ideas.


Remember, use what other people are doing as a guide, not as gospel. 


2. Priorities


You remember those priorities you wrote down? Get them back out.


What are you looking for in a curriculum?


Some examples:


  • You want a religious curriculum?
  • No religion?
  •  One that fosters independent work?
  • Hands-on?
  • Encourages creativity?
  • Advanced?
  • And on and on



3. Learning Style


Is your child a visual learner, audio learner, or a kinesthetic learner?


Do they do well with memorization? Do they learn better with games? Worksheets? Projects? Do they need a lot of manipulatives to grasp an idea? Do they learn well with songs? Repetition?


If you're looking at a math curriculum that's just a textbook and workbook, but your child is kinesthetic, you'll want to look at other math curriculums that use specific manipulatives to teach concepts and understanding.


You may not know right now. Especially if your child is still young and hasn't had experience with school work.


Don't beat yourself up for not knowing! It's okay. There are several ways to figure out what their learning style is.


Discover Your Child's Learning Style -- I have this book and I'll talk more about it in a later post. It explains quite a bit about learning styles, observing your child, applying them, and then has two different quizzes for your child and you to take. One is for older children and the other is for you to take for when your kids are younger.


Thrively -- a site I just found the other day that helps you figure out your child's learning style and passions. Bonus: it's FREE!


Remember, you want to make sure that this will fit your child's learning style, not yours!


4. Teaching Style


That being said, you still want to keep yourself in mind.


If a particular curriculum is really high in teacher prep work, or requires your constant presence (none to very little of it is independent work) and you just know that it would wear you out, or just doesn't fit your personality, do not get it!


I don't care if it's "the best" spelling or writing curriculum ever! If it's going to constantly be a battle or struggle for you forget it. It's not worth the money, the pain, the frustration. You don't want to beat yourself up every day.


There are other resources you can use that will be just as wonderful that will fit both you and your child.


5. Teaching Multiples?


Are you teaching more than one child?


How close in age and level are they? Remember, with homeschooling you don't have to be locked into "this is the grade they have to be in." You want to teach to their level. No boredom or unnecessary grade level struggles in homeschool! Don't you just love that idea?


Can they be taught using the same level? Can the curriculum be used for multiple levels?


Unit studies and unschooling are great for teaching multiples. You can teach a whole family of children with one unit study just by the different things you do with it.

6. Budget


You may love that science curriculum, but your bank account does not.


Science curriculum is typically the one that makes your jaw drop when you see how much they are charging for it. I have let several science curriculums pass us by because of their outrageous price tag.


Don't worry, there are great ways to teach science without having to fork over $400/year. Yes, $400. Ridiculous, right? Yeah, I agree.


If your budget isn't liking it, remember to look around for a used copy or a discounted copy. They are out there! I've gotten lots of my curriculum from different sites that offer the same thing at a much cheaper (thank the heavens) rate! Win!


If you can't find it anywhere and no one around you has a copy for you to borrow, bummer dude.


Look around for something else.


If you really really really want that curriculum then save up for it. What can you sell? Is there another curriculum on your list that you can trade out for something less expensive to make room in the budget for this one?


Make sure that it has a good return policy just in case.


Look for cheap/free alternatives. Also, do you think there's an aspect of it you can replicate? Is it a multi-part curriculm? For instance, a teacher manual, student manual, student workbook, and manipulatives. Can you get by with just part of it? Can you make of find different manipulatives to go with it? Brainstorm it.


7. Reviews


We read reviews on most everything we buy. Even about toilet paper.


Well, I haven't personally, but I'm sure someone has.


You may not be able to find reviews for the actual curriculum on the product website, but you can find it elsewhere.


Amazon has some curriculum reviews, but I would take many of those with a grain of salt.


Search the name of the curriculum + review and you'll find many.


Keep in mind, a lot of them might be sponsored reviews so you have to be selective in who you're listening to. I'm not saying all sponsored reviews are sugar-coated. A lot of people are honest and trustworthy!


Keep in mind that their children are not your children. They are not you.


I know that's obvious, but you have to remember #'s 1 - 6 when you're reading other's reviews. How are they similar to you? If they're not at all similar in #1-6 then you may want to keep searching for different reviewers of the same product to get their opinion.


101 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum -- a go-to book for homeschool curriculum reviews. She breaks it down into learning styles and lots of other categories so you can look for the specific type you want.

Cathy Duffy Reviews -- the author of the above book has a site as well with tons and tons more curriculum reviews. Her reviews aren't "I like this" or "I don't like this." They are explaining the points of the curriculum and how it works. She'll walk you through much of the things you need to know about this curriculum. She will say which learning styles it's best for, parent involvement, if it's one-on-one or group, pricing, prep time needed, if you need the teacher's manual, and if it has a religious perspective.


8. Pros and Cons


Remember each curriculum has its pros and cons.


What are the pros and cons for the ones you're looking at?


Don't get caught up in the hype or the amazing reviews. Look at it honestly and with your list and notes in hand.


What can you see being a weak point? Strong point?


Weigh your pros and cons.


9. Tweaks!


Tweak. Since no curriculum is perfect you may need to tweak it some. That's acceptable and normal!


Even if it is "perfect" for y'all you may still find yourself tweaking it to suit you even more.


If you have a more workbook oriented curriculum, but one or more of your children are kinesthetic learners you don't have to chuck the whole thing! You can incorporate more hands-on things to go along with it. You can create manipulatives or exercises that will aid in their learning. You can add in projects and more for greater understanding and fun.


You are not locked in to do what the curriculum says exactly. You can change some of it.


I know, it will take more effort on your part, but I believe it's worth it. You'll have more fun teaching your kids when they're understanding and enjoying school rather than battling yourselves.


10. Go with your gut!


This is my last piece of advice. Go with your gut.


All the others aside, if you just feel that you should keep on looking, even if it looks good on paper, keep on looking.


If you feel good about a curriculum, but maybe it doesn't look as good on paper as another one, go with the one you feel the best about.


If you are religious then I'm sure you have been praying about homeschooling and your children. Heavenly Father cares about your children very dearly and deeply. He cares about their education. If you ask for guidance and help you will get it! Of that I'm sure. Involve Him, trust Him, and stay true. No matter what your religious affiliation stay true to your values and beliefs.


If you are not religious, keep doing what you feel and know is right for you and your family!


Everyone: go with your gut and forget the rest.


Well, don't completely forget the rest. The rest is really to guide you to your gut.



I will be doing a curriculum round up with each subject. I won't do it next week or anything, but it will be here before the summer is over, okay?


If you have any questions on these tips, go ahead and ask.


You don't like one of them? Then just ignore it. No worries.


Are you looking at a curriculum right now, but don't want to wait for my round up and you have a question about it. Feel free to ask me about it. If I don't know I know someone who does!