Friday, May 27, 2011

Homeschool Mother's Journal - 10

In my life this week…

All I can think about is summer summer summer time! I've been hit by the lazy bug. Though I have kept up with laundry, cooking and of course keeping the kids alive (that is an important one!)

Today is Dave's last day as well! That means my husband/partner/sidekick/better half will be in the trenches here with us for weeks and weeks! Let the fun begin! The kids are always excited about summer time with Dad. What a blessing to have him here with us for large spaces of time!

In our homeschool this week…

 Okay so......we took summer a week off early. I just couldn't make it through the week. We did a few days, and the basics of Math and Reading, but I am zonked! I think we may continue to do some basics through out the summer taking weeks off here and there (like when we go to Awana Camp!) but other than that, the kids have enjoyed lots of extra play and art time. Just what we ALL need!

Today I am officially packing up our Non consumables to take back to the school.....clearing off the old shelves and waiting to fill them up for next year! I really really really can't wait to get next year's curriculum!

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…

We've visited the pool twice this week AND I survived! The first time I braved it with 5 kids, the second time I  took all 6. Truth be told even though the oldest is only 6, we hung out in the kiddie pool boasting of a whole 18 inches of water. Only the infants could drowned in that AND when you own a variety of double strollers, your only worry is making sure both harnesses work and that the stroller fits through the gate!
My favorite thing this week was…

Surviving the pool with 6 kids was a proud moment for me! But having today be our official last day is pretty exciting! No more pressure, no more schedule for a little while.....just relaxing, planning good family fun with the kids and enjoying some down time!
What’s working/not working for us…

Summer time is really going to work for us! REALLY! I plan on getting very tan, spending a lot of unscheduled time with the kid and reading a whole bunch. MAYBE even getting out the old sewing machine and getting a few projects in!
Homeschool questions/thoughts I have…

What is your reading list for the summer? I want to continue story time and reading aloud.....any great suggestions? 
A photo, video, link, or quote to share…

I would love for you to scroll down and enter the giveaways I'll be hosting on my blog for the next month! One a week for the entire month of June! Check out the review below on the Well Planned Day planners, follow the directions and maybe you'll win!

Kicking off Summer with a {GIVEAWAY}!

Summer is so close I can smell the sunscreen and Charcoal.....that may be because I've take the kids to the pool 2 days in a row! What better way to kick off Summer Break than with a giveaway to help you look ahead to next year!

Homeschool Hoop-La is Hosting giveaways every week in June!

As a former Public School teacher, my planner was one of my favorite tools. I loved sitting down and filling out all those boxes neatly! So when I started homeschooling, even when Jonah was only 3, you better believe I ran our and bought a planner and started filling in those little boxes! It didn't take me long to realize that the typical teaching planner just wasn't going to work for Homeschooling. I searched for free printable planners and found some that would work, but they weren't exactly what I wanted or needed. They lacked certain elements and had ones I didn't ever use. Until I came across.......

The new 2011-2012 Planner  

Let me just start off by adding my disclaimer here: I purchased this planner based on another Review I read, from another Homeschooling Momma.And after visiting the Home Educating Website and taking a
detailed look into their planner. I was sold. I ordered the planner right away and have loved it this entire year! You can (and should!) look for yourself, but let me tell you a few of my favorite things about this planner!

First of all, it isn't just for Homeschooling. It's an all inclusive LIFE planner, and if you have been Homeschooling for any length of time you know there is no separating life from Homeschooling. Homeschooling is a part of your life, as much as grocery shopping, cooking and laundry. This planner makes that all easy and simple to incorporate!

For Household organization there are pages for Finance notes, chore cards for the kids, special contacts and more! Two of my favorite features were the perferated shopping lists that were inlcuded at the start of each month! (6 you can jot down items and easily tear out each month) Having them handy while teaching proved essential for those items you would find you needed for science of history! No more searching for that list you thought you left on the counter somewhere! I also loved that each week has a space for Priorities, a menu list for each day and a weekend list! All 3 right there! As things come up during the day, you've got your lists right there to add to or cross off!

On the Homeschooling portion of this planner, I cannot say enough about how well thought out and organized this planner truly is. All of the Homeschooling features of this planner are made with 4 children in mind. Some of the features of this planner are The Class Plan and Student Schedule, Semester Goals, sections for Books to Read, Field Trip & Enrichment Activities, Tracking monthly expenses, Attendance Records, Weekly Progress/Grade Reports, even a Perforated Report Card for each child! Really when I say they thought of everything, I mean everything! The planning for each week includes planning spaces for Bible, Math, History, Science, English as well as extra spaces for notes! I use mine for my circle time notes as well as foreign language notes!

One of my favorite extra features of this planner are the little touches that have been added. The Scripture verses on each page, the encouraging quotes, the weekly Catechism and the Monthly articles! Truth be told I had to practice some self control and wait each month to read the articles. They were so perfectly planned and encouraging right when I needed them.

So while I go and order my planner for next year, let me give YOU a chance to win something that really will help your next year in your journey of Homeschooling! Here's how:

Mandatory Entry Requirements:
{Please leave a separate comment for each entry, a winner will be chosen randomly using}
Extra entries:
{please leave links in your comments for each extra entry}
  •  Update your Facebook Status and tell everyone you know about this GREAT giveaway!
  • BLOG about this giveaway!
  • VOTE for my blog by clicking on the "We're on the Fence button on my side bar!
A winner will be chosen randomly On JUNE 1st so please check back, or leave me your email address in a comment so I can get a hold of you! 

If you don't happen to be the blessed winner of this planner, OR you just can't wait, take advantage of these great deals:

*Sign up for a FREE 7 day trial membership of the Home Educating Magazine (another great resource by the way!) and get 10% off your planner purchase!
* Purchase a Binder and Planner Bundle and save 15% right now!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Best Laid {summer} Plans

Things are rolling down around here....summer is drawing near (okay it's always summer-like weather here, I'm talking school!), and I'm wondering, as I do every year, what shall we do this year? Even though the teacher of this Homeschool Groove needs a break, I'm always  tempted to keep the routine, at least loosely.

Truth be told we didn't finish every single thing for this year, though we came A LOT closer than last year! SO should I try and get a little closer to that goal? Here are my thoughts:

  • Have a very short, 1 hour a day school day each day. Do different activities, games, reading time etc. Just to keep info fresh in their minds and growing.
  • Don't do anything at all. Just let them play and make messes for 6-8 weeks!
  • Go through Galloping the Globe (which has other subjects integrated into it)
  • Make learning available and very informal, take lots of field trips, spend lots of time at the beach!
I just don't know what to do yet! Maybe a little delight directed, finding out what the kids would like to catch up on, spending time building rockets and collecting treasures from tide pools, long visits to the Library with stacks of books to bring home.

I know some families that only take a very short break and homeschool the whole year, others take a huge summer and enjoy each other.

What are your thoughts? What are you doing this summer with your Homeschool???

Friday, May 20, 2011

Homeschool Mother's Journal - 9

In my life this week…

We are all battling little colds. Nothing too devastating but when you are talking about  a 5 month old and a 1 year old, it can make things a little more hectic! 

We are planning a great summer! It's my favorite time of year since Dave gets a summer break as well (being a High School teacher). We usually try and cram in as much fun family time as possible! The kids have already added camping, trips to the museum and planetarium and rocket construction on the list!

In our homeschool this week…

We are counting down the days of official school, and I'm planning some fun learning opportunities throughout the summer! Today we have our last Face to Face class for the kids. They'll do a review of everything they've learned this year and their teachers will "evaluate" them. I've never actually had this done, and though I know my kids very very well. I think it will be nice to have an outside opinion. I'm hoping it will help with some of my curriculum choices.
Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…

I ventured out this week and took all 6 kids to the Botanical Gardens to learn about the sun! It was so much fun, and a lot of work! I took them down to the pond to feed the fish and ducks and literally burned around a million calories pushing the stroller and carrying TJ up a crazy hill!
My favorite thing this week was…

 Watching the kids Award night for Awana. They have worked so hard and loved hiding God's work in their hearts! We are sad to have to look for another program (the one we've been attending for years is not closing), but we are a little excited for a possible "date night" for Dave and I.....we haven't had that in years! We are praying God leads us to where we should be!
What’s working/not working for us…

A laid back school day! We are enjoying these last days of school, knowing how hard we've worked and just how much we've learned this year! I am working on making the kids yearly books (and getting to use my binding machine and laminator of course!) Last year I was freaking out about how much we hadn't done and how behind we were! This year I'm taking it all in. Looking back and realizing just how awesome this Homeschooling option really is!

Homeschool questions/thoughts I have…

Are you doing any schooling over the summer? I have been kicking around the idea of loosely doing some schooling. But I also want to take a nice long break. Relax and do some delight directed learning! I have some ideas and fun experiements and projects "available" for the kids. I know some families who keep going the whole year and some who stop completely.....I'm not sure what I want to do yet!
A photo, video, link, or quote to share…

This photo cracks me up......

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Cyber Curriculum Carnival

So I've been tossing this idea around for a while now, I figure it's time I let it out of the bag and see what response I get.

You know, being a Homeschooling Mom is a tough job, whether you are new at it or a seasoned pro! I've been asked many times both online and in person about what curriculum I use and how I went about choosing it. Looking at various websites can be so confusing and intimidating for both first time Homeschoolers OR Homeschoolers that just aren't satisfied with their current choices!

In preparation for next school year, I'll be hosting a Cyber Curriculum Fair Blog Hop and I would love for you to be a part of it!

It's relatively simple. Basically I will be promoting and hosting a Blog Hop around the blogger-sphere where  Homeschooling Bloggers take part in posting about the curriculum they use OR have created! (what talent we have in the Homeschool community!) I would love each blogger participating to create 1 or more posts for a one week period (June 6-10th) about a particular Curriculum they use and love. If you want to create posts for all 5 days highlighting different curriculum, GREAT! But each post should be dedicated to a particular curriculum. If you've already done detailed posts about a particular curriculum and would like to re-post, that is fine too! If there is something you use such as Lapbooking or Unit Studies that aren't a particular curriculum but would like to post about that, please feel welcome! My main goal here is to have a week long event that Homeschooling families can get an inside look at what is out there and how it works in a real homeschool setting! 

So what do I need from you? Email me and let me know if you are interested (, what curriculum (or curricula) you would like to post about. Once I have all the entries, I will email you back with a schedule of which days you need to post on. (That way blogging is spread evenly for our readers) If you can provide links and photographs of your children using the curriculum even better! Your blog posts should also include a button linking back to my blog (that I will provide) where readers can find a directory of curriculum posts, links to your blogs, and various Giveaways. But most importantly, your honest experience with the curriculum and why you choose to use it. Reading reviews from real life Homeschooling Moms can really make a difference between making a good choice for your family and making the RIGHT choice! And you can be a part of that!

I've got some Giveaways lined up to make the week a fun one! If you would like to include a giveaway on your blog please do! 

Please feel free to spread the word along to any blogger you know that you think would be a great addition to the group! The more the merrier! I hope you consider being a part of the Cyber Fair this year and join in the Hoop-La! Thank You!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Favorite Web~Roll

I know everyone has a list of favorite sites you frequent. Anyone who knows I literally have a hundred sites bookmarked on my homepage would laugh, but I wanted to share a few of my absolute favorites with you! Maybe you've heard of these, hopefully you'll find something new as well!

::A Few Freebies::

FREE games, activities, crafts and experiments for every subject!

FREE online story books for kids

FREE Phonics program with books and printables!

FREE Christian shows, movies and episodes from the makers of Veggie Tales

FREE Bible lessons and activities perfect for homeschooling or family devotions!
FREE games in all subjects for all grade levels!

FREE Spelling,vocabulary and writing games and activities! Make your OWN lists and the site creates all activities for your child! {Read: this has revolutionized Jonah's interest in spelling!}

Just about every subject in Power Point presentations! Each subject also has links to great kids websites, videos, activities and more! I use this site ALL the time for History and Science!

::Pennies a Day::

By now you've heard of Starfall (a free site for reading) They've just opened a new site called morestarfall! And it is FABULOUS! You can verify up to 3 computers (3 users at a time) for only $35 a year. That's a mere .03 a day! And after spending a combined total of hours and hours on this new site, survey says it's worth it! 

This is a great program I've used with the kids (grades K-3rd/4th). The program cost is around $60 for a lifetime membership. You can purchase additional children and keep a record of their progress (in printable version or online viewing) You can reset lessons and start again with a new student when you need to! And if you used this code CNKSpring you can get $50 off! There is also a 60 day money back guarantee if you buy the program and don't like it!

This is a site I use on a weekly (sometimes daily) basis. It has proved to be worth every.single.cent. we've spent on it. This site has every subject you can ever imagine. Printable activities, books, crafts, experiments. And it spans from PreK to 6th grade! It's a bit pricier for either $12.99 per month or $99 for year. You could literally use this site alone for your entire curriculum. The activities are correlated to State Standards and the search engine makes it easy to search for your subject by grades and specific topics. It's worth the money!

I hope you enjoy perusing through these sites! These are ones I know I spends lots of time on and they are kid tested-parent approved! Don't hesitate to ask if you have ANY questions, please comment below or share your own favorites with us! I would love to add to my bookmarks!!!!!!

Monday, May 16, 2011

End of the Year Motivation

So this school year is coming to an end. Though the nice thing about homeschooling is not having to set an official start and end date, I like to have that for my own mental marking point! But getting close to that end date for me means my motivation starts to wane a little bit. Everyday seems like the perfect day for an unschooling day! I know though, not finishing what I've started also brings a fair amount of stress. So here are a few ways to keep trucking along for these last few weeks!

1. Set an end date, and count down to it! Be bold and set an official date! Not to guilt you into finishing or put a rush order on completing this workbook or that. But to give you an end in sight! Something to look forward to! Of course that doesn't mean learning stops! Or that you can't compete any more lessons. But it means you can breathe......just a little easier.

2. Make a summer wish list, and share it with the world! I've started mine! One lazy afternoon (or if you would like the kids to get some extra spelling and writing practice) day dream about all the realistic (and unrealistic) things you'd like to do together this summer. Maybe there are field trips that got skipped over this year, something special coming up this summer, or something you've just always wanted to do. Make a nice long list and highlight a few! Decide what is realistic for your family and really make an effort to make it happen!

3. Shorten your school days, lengthen the play time. Lessons can be done in less time and still be as effective. Around here we've been concentrating on the basics and still adding our History and Science once a week and life seems more simple. The blow up pool as become a permanent fixture in the yard, the pile of towels has replaced the pile of worksheets. And still books are being read, Math facts accumulating.

4. Add more fun into your school time. We've found a few new websites to keep us motivated. I found some Computer games on History at Goodwill. I've made up Math games using flashcards and M&M's to help recognize numbers. You don't have to spend hours researching to add some more fun into what you are already doing. But changing things up a little makes a big difference sometimes!

5. Out with the old, in with the new. Grab some iced tea or iced coffee, and start making your list for next year! (maybe even hang around here for a cyber curriculum fair, TBA) and learn something new! Pack up all the old books and curriculum, spring clean your shelves, get ready for the next year.! If you can order early and start your planning now, do it! Spreading it out over weeks instead of days will be invaluable in the future months to come!

What are you doing to help motivate you to finish strong in these last weeks of the school year?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Homeschool Mother's Journal - 8

.In my life this week…

We had a baby turn ONE this week! Last year on Mother's Day, at our evening service, I went in to labor. Later that night I delivered our beautiful 10 pound Liora Tresa at Home with a midwife. It was my favorite birth (so far) and so special to have that gift on Mother's Day. Of course I couldn't stop thinking about it and reviewing the experience in my mind all day on Sunday! What precious memories for me!
We've had quite the busy week around here! With a birthday, Mother's Day, my sister and I are helping decorate a wedding (lots of fun with Orchids and ribbon!) on Saturday, and of course the usual!

We also found out our regular Awana program is closing so we are prayerfully considering other churches. It's so sad because this program was on the perfect night for us and so close to our church. But God's got a plan, better than ours I'm sure!

In our homeschool this week…

We've been trucking along......we are studying Greece right now and the kids are intrigued about it all. We are also learning about the solar system. I can't wait to use my free passes for the Planetarium, it's something we've wanted to do for a while but just haven't fit it in!  

I enrolled the kids in MBTA again! Jonah will be in 2nd grade (sort of) and Ellie Kindergarten (sort of). Homeschooling is awesome like that. By age they are enrolled in those grades but by level they are all over the place! Jonah is doing 3rd/4th grade reading and Ellie is doing 1st grade. I love tailoring their education! 

Along with that I received my email of consumable items I need to return to MBTA....and the hunt is on! I KNOW everything is in this house but I've pretty free with letting the kids take the books off shelves and have them where ever they would like (mostly in bed at night) but that still makes me nervous. Last year we located everything on the list, I am sure we will this year, but I'm still nervous!

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…
 Oh my what a huge list this would be! We've been everywhere!  

Yesterday I took ALL 6 kids to Walmart. I was given quite the arsenal of looks carrying TJ, Liora buckled in, the 3 girls sitting on the bench (one of those multi seaters) and Jonah walking crossing things off our list. They were actually well behaved! (Maybe the temptation of having a McDonald's breakfast was enough!!) I got some compliments as well. It was actually nice to know it can be done with 6! 

I have a bridal shower tonight and the wedding tomorrow! It's been an exciting week, but I'm kinda ready for boring!
My favorite thing this week was…

Hands down Liora's Birthday. She is such a sweet and sassy girl! And I suppose since turning one she's decided it's officially time to walk all over the place, which she has been doing very well. She has also taken a liking to toilet paper and garbage cans! Luckily her favorite is the school garbage can which mostly contains pencil shavings and paper clippings, oh great the baby is eating lead!
What’s working/not working for us…

Ok, I admit. I am totally ready to end this year and start the next one! I've been making my curriculum list and checking it twice (and adding and crossing off!) I am so ready to take a nice big break this summer and regroup! I LOVE teaching the kids, I do! But the last few weeks we've been doing the bare minimum and I haven't been adding a whole lot of extras. Watching 2 more kids during the day hasn't been impossible, just busy. I want this summer to start planning units and activities so I'm not overwhelmed next year!
Homeschool questions/thoughts I have…

I asked before, but would anyone be interesting in being part of a Homeschooling Cyber Curriculum Fair? Would you blog hop and read reviews from other Homeschoolers about their favorite curriculum/tools/manipulatives?  Would you be interested in writing a review for a specific curriculum? I've really wanted to host a carnival, but I'd like to see if there is some interest first!
A photo, video, link, or quote to share…

Jonah's thinking cap! It's actually really heavy....I don't even know how he is holding his head up!

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


I sit here, a few feet away, in awe. And yet what happens here is so common place I'm amazed it still awes me. In actuality it takes us all of 2-3 hours to complete what others would call "school". But truth be told, the learning happens from sun up till sun down around here.

As the year comes to a close and our routines are firmly planted, I've started to loosen the reigns and watch the kids flourish. At 5 and 6 they are already becoming independent in their learning, taking control of their own learning routine and schedule. Lately I've showed Jonah the plans for the day and let him choose what he wants to work on, at his own pace. The only agreement is that it has to be done. I don't care if what order or how long he lingers on one particular subject. And when it's done, HE is done! Whether it takes him 30 minutes or 3 hours is up to him!
Without the confines of institutional schools and bell schedules, my kids are free. Free to take an hour to practice a new Math concept or finish reviewing spelling words in 10 minutes. They are free to dig into manipulatives and supplies when the mood strikes and they have an "idea" about how something works. Learning is all around, ready and available to them at any time. Because our learning happens at home, our home becomes a mecca of learning opportunities ready for the taking!

I can't count how many times I've walked in on one child sitting in our circle time nook reading science or Language Arts books. Writing stories (using phonetic spellings of course) in dry eraser. Playing Math games on the computer or creating Solar circuits. Making a craft, drawing a picture, creating some new invention.

It's a daily occurrence that our "after school" hours are filled with learning and exploring completely delight directed, child directed. The kind I know they wouldn't have the freedom to do in an institution. The kind of learning that truly lasts a life time. The kind of learning that stays with them long past the section, unit, review. The kind of learning that grows and expands on their own. The kind of learning they want to pursue and follow instead of leave behind.  It's not forced or coerced.

It's free, they are free.