Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Planning the School Year

I love the summer.  Our time is spent mowing, tending the garden and flower beds, swimming, and enjoying our family and friends.  I also love to plan the new school year!

I spend weeks each July planning for our new school year.  I look at the new curriculum available to homeschoolers and read their reviews.  I search the library on-line catalog to see if there are any new books printed this year for homeschooling.  I check out other homeschooling mom’s blogs to see how they set up their classroom and their curriculum choices.  This is one of my favorite times of the year!

I wanted to share my school planning process with you.  It am still working on them and plan to continue to add a few more fun features over the next few weeks.  Most of the ideas are not my own.  If you would like more information on any of the ideas posted here then click the blog links at the end of my post .

My laminator, printer, and keyboard are getting a good workout!

Here are some new ideas I am in the process of implementing in our classroom this year:

IMG_0171Workbox Weekly Grid from Homeschool Creations blog.

This project has been the most time consuming but I think it will be the most beneficial change.  It will not only keep our day moving forward but allow my girls to see what needs to be completed before snack, break, or lunch.  This is my version of a workbox weekly grid system from the Homeschool Creations blog.  It is set up as one 8x11 laminated sheet for each day of the week.  I velcro each little card, front and back, and line them up in order of each days lessons.  When the girls complete the lesson, they turn the card over and attach it in the same box.

IMG_0174This pocket chart holds our workboxes cards.  It also holds our ‘morning board’ weather cards and the numbers for the ‘days in school’ chart.  I love organization!

Above are a few of our morning board items from Confessions of a Homeschooler blog.  We plan to track the weather, tally the number of days in school, learn the books of the Bible, count out the coins for the date, and more to come!

These are our workboxes.  They are 12”x12” drawers from Hobby Lobby and Target.  They come in sections of 3 drawers for only $9.99.  I am using 9 drawers per child.  We have our reader books in the basket above each set of workboxes.  The pocket chart behind the workboxes is for our All About Spelling word cards.

Now for my lessons plans!  Well, those are much easier this year because I invested in a unit study from My Fathers World Adventures.  They have done the work for me!  YEA  MFW has planned our Bible, History, Geography, Science, Music, Art, read-aloud books!


I photocopied each week’s summary from the MFW teacher lesson manual.


On the facing page, I have a spreadsheet I designed with excel.  It is separated by child, one color for my 2nd grader and one color for my kindergartener.  It lists their individual lessons for MUS, LA, AAS, Explode the Code, and reading.

Now for our school supply totes! I got this from the Target $1 section, but it did cost $2.50.  I have one for each of the girls. I used a label maker and put their name on it.  I store it next to their workbox daily grids on a shelf.  Each morning they bring it to their desk.  So when they drop a pencil or lose it in the bathroom (that never happens though…ha ha) they have 10 other pencils in front of them!  Priceless!


This is my new WONDERFUL filing system for the WHOLE YEAR!  I got this from a blog post from One Day At A Time. 

I have 36 hanging filing folders for each week of the year.  In each hanging folder, I have 2 file folders: different colors, one for each of the girls.  I have placed items in each folder for the workboxes, like: MFW state notebook pages, MUS worksheets, dot-to-dot pages, A Reason for Handwriting pages, and more!  I began with one crate and once I started filing the folders I had to buy another crate.  It’s a good idea to have a lid for the crates.  You can stack them on one another and keep little fingers out of them!


IMG_0055 This is a pocket that holds some of my school supplies.  The gray folder holds my notes, things to remember, book basket ideas,  library lists, and other projects for the month.





Here are a few of the items that I put in the file folders: worksheets from MUS, MFW state notebook, Handwriting, a dot-to-dot, and mazes for fun!





This shelf contains the school supply totes and ‘fun stuff’ bins at the bottom (for free time play if they have completed a lesson early).





This is our Book Basket for MFW Adventures lessons and other fun library books.

If you would like to see where I got these ideas for our classroom see the list of links below.


Our students:

Blog links for more ideas:

Calendar and Morning Board from 1+1+1=1

Filing system in the crate ~ you’re going to love this!

Check out the printables for calendar time 

Workbox system weekly grid from Homeschool Creations

Homeschool Creations workbox activity cards

Share your ideas for planning your year in a comment below – add a link to your blog!


Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Hassle Free Chore System

Are you tired of nagging and clutter?  I was too!  Do you have to tell your child to brush their teeth EVERY morning?  clear their plate?  feed the pets?  brush their hair?  I did too! ~ over and over and over again….

Well those days are over in our daily routines (that is majority of our days). I searched the Rainbow Resource on-line catalog and decided to purchase the I Did My Chores! system about 4 weeks ago. 

With “I Did My Chores!” my children willingly do their chores.  They are having so much fun, which allows me to nag less!  The girls earn rewards in a new and entertaining form.

How is it FUN and EASY:

Just set up the chore board by placing the reusable “chore cards” on the hooks, and your child will complete their chores for rewards.

Kids will know when the chores need to be done, because they are color coded for the time of day.

When a chore is completed, the child places that chore card in the “I Did It!” box, and they earn a token.

You establish your own rewards – 25 tokens to see a movie, 40 tokens for a trip to the DQ, etc.

Select from the preprinted chores stickers or create your own.

The cards are used over again the next day.

Set includes:

  1. Chore board (12-1/2” x 10”) an easel back or flat to adhere to a wall/door
  2. 6 Hooks
  3. 48 Color coded plastic cards
  4. 150 tokens (child collects for future rewards)
  5. 48 Preprinted chore stickers (very nice selection included)
  6. 24 Blank stickers (so you can design your own if needed) 
  7. “I Did It!” box
  8. Instructions – parenting guide (very helpful in implementing in your home)

A few of our token rewards:

25 tokens: DQ junior sundae, play puzzle or WII game with mom and/or dad, paint, computer game for 20 minutes

50 tokens: Get your nails painted by mom, $1 for a snack at the pool, breakfast in bed, put together a scrapbook page or other craft, go on a walk with the dogs

100 tokens: Lunch at Wendy’s or McD’s, rent a movie, picnic at the park, have a sleep over

…. just to name a few examples.  There are more examples in the instruction manual. 

Our home a few weeks after implementing the chore system:

My girls still need prompting to start their chores at the appropriate times because they are young, distractible, and still learning our new system.  But I can actually say my youngest, who is five, LOVES to race to see who can complete their chores first.  So my role is not completely hands off when it comes to getting ready to leave the house or chores, but my nagging and screaming has greatly reduced!

The chore system is geared toward children ages 4 – 8 years.  This is the link to their website with more views and descriptions.


Disclaimer:  All opinions expressed in this review are mine. I purchased this product on my own.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Homeschool Curriculum Choices: 2010-2011

This year the girls are starting Kindergarten and Second Grade.  Below is a list of my curriculum choices for the year by subject and how often we will be doing them each week.

One change I made this year was to purchase the My Father’s World – Adventures program with the lessons plans designed for me! (can I scream YEA!)  My other big change was to join a co-op on Monday mornings. (How do I get out the door at 8 on Mondays?)

Bible: NiRV Discoverer’s Bible for Young Readers: We are going to study the names of Jesus throughout the year; The Bread of Life, The Lamb of God, and more! ~ daily

History & Geography: We are going to enjoy U.S. History this year along with a brief trip around the 50 states. We will be creating a U.S. Notebook which will include: our state study, handwriting, art, and geography lessons. ~ 3 to 4x/wk

Science:  Our science experiments will be so fun for the girls using the Usborne books Science in the Kitchen and Science with Air. Our Nature studies and walks each week will include lessons from Birds, Nests and Eggs. We are also completing our studies with Apologia’s Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day as well. ~ 3x/wk

Art: The girls (and I) will develop our art skills – drawing, colored pencils,  colored markers, and beginning painting – using I Can Do All Things. We are also going to continue to use the Draw Write Now series for copy work and art. ~ 3 to 4x/wk

Spelling: The girls will continue in their program All About Spelling - Level 1. ~ 5x/wk

Handwriting: New this year for us is A Reason for Handwriting B for Arianna.  Marissa will begin the year with a product I am reviewing called Peterson Directed Handwriting K. ~ 5x/wk

Language Arts: I found this great program from Christian Light Education at a convention in April called Learning to Read.  I am starting it with Marissa, who is in kindergarten.  Arianna is completing it soon, along with their LA program and next level reading called I Wonder.  Arianna will also be ready to begin a new program this year called Learning Language Arts Through Literature – Red book series… should be a fun program! ~ 5x/wk

Math: I can’t say enough good things about MathUSee!  The girls love the manipulative blocks and brief lessons.  Marissa is completing MUS Primer.  Arianna will be completing both Alpha and Beta this year. ~ 5x/wk

Writing: Arianna is completing her lessons in First Language Lessons of the Well Trained Mind - Level 1 then she will start the LLATL – Red book.  Both girls will also do copy work with their Bible verse of the week and from the Draw Write Now Book series.  We get our copy work verses from the Homeschool Creations blog!

Independent Reading: Marissa is reading from BOB Books and other easy readers from programs like Sing, Spell, Read and Write, Rigby Sails series and LLATL Blue book.  Arianna is enjoying reading Junie B. books with mom.

P.E. and Music: We are joining a co-op this fall which will offer the girls classes in music, dance and gym! (I still want to know your ideas for getting out the door at 8 am on Mondays – eek)

If you would like more information on a curriculum, I have included links to most of the programs or just send me an email

Comment on your curriculum choices this year ….or link your blog post in a comment!




Monday, July 19, 2010

Review: Travel the World !

This Old Schoolhouse Magazine  presents … th_2010JunModuleCoverSM

The Schoolhouse Planner - Travel the World !

Have you ever wanted to hop around the globe and discover new places along the way?

Over the last few weeks, the girls and I have had the opportunity to travel around seven continents and visit some exciting new places. As we hopped around the globe, we were able to experience some fun activities along the way!  We even created our own Travel the World lapbook.

 For only $7.95 your Module will include:

  • A custom-design study guide - with additional video links to further expand research and learning
  • Coloring pages made just for this module
  • Activity pages – crossword puzzles & word search
  • Copywork pages – both manuscript and cursive
  • Recipes – to cook up fun in the kitchen!
  • Resource pages to increase knowledge of the study
  • High school expansion – for older students
  • Lapbook Beginnings – our favorite part!
  • Answer keys to each component

My girls love to dress up, tell stories and put on plays.  I took this illustration to set the tone for our study: the earth is the setting for God’s story.  That He, as our Sovereign Creator, made the earth for His Creation.  The Earth is in His hands.

The globe was a very fascinating and new experience for my little girls!  We discussed the shape of the earth and how it spins, or rotates, on its axis once every twenty-four hours.

Then we went to the world map to see how it represents the earth as a single view.  As we looked at the compass rose on our map, we discussed four simple directions: north, south, east, and west.

The girls loved learning about the seven continents.  This was such a new experience for them, especially learning the geography song!  We hopped from North America, to South America, then Asia, Europe, Africa, Australia, and landed in Antarctica. 

The E-Book Module offers tons of interactive hyperlinks as you travel to each continent.  The hyperlinks are imbedded right in the E-Book.  You do not have to do any of the research!  Just click a link and you will end up on an adventure to: view the major lakes in North America, discover the animals in the South American rainforest, ride the Nile River in Egypt, climb Mount Everest in Asia, and much more! Check this out: Travel the World:  Stop in China

The interactive on-line games are fun and educational!  Some of games we played: name the states in North America, drag the falling continents into place on a globe, and ‘click-the-right-country’ in Europe quiz.  The girls favorite game was the animal matching game in Antarctica.  Check these out: Map the countries of Asia Game and Polar Animal Matching Game


The fun and learning doesn’t stop there!  The module also contains: a word scramble game, word search, crossword puzzle, lapbook pages, copywork, recipes and more!

What did I like best about Travel the World? 

  1. Little teacher prep time – just click and print as many copies as you need
  2. Flexible teaching for mom and adaptable for each child’s learning style
  3. Adaptable to every age child - all the way up to high school !
  4. The ease of teaching from an E-Book full of interactive hyperlinks
  5. The limitless activities available to all ages – easy to customize to your students interests
  6. Excellent coloring pages, copy work Bible verses and map activities

The world is fascinating – take an inside look at the places and design of the earth, and discover HIS STORY along with your child!  Instant E-Book download!

Visit their websites for more details: The Old Schoolhouse Store - E-Book Travel The World and The Old Schoolhouse Store

Priced at only $7.95

Check out what my Crew Mates have to say about their experience with Travel The World at TOS Homeschool Crew


Disclaimer:  This product was given to me for review purposes free of charge, not to be returned to the vendor. All opinions expressed in this review are mine.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Versatile Blogger Award

Thanks Vickie!
Thanks so much for awarding me
The Versatile Blogger award!
There are three rules to keep the award going:
  1. Thank the person that gave it to you.
  2. Share 7 things about yourself.
  3. Pass the award along.

Seven things about me:

  1. I love God’s creation and the change of seasons
  2. I love to watch my girls catch butterflies and dig up worms
  3. I love the Lord and His mercy that is NEW EACH DAY
  4. I love my husband – who has been my best friend for 18 years
  5. I am thankful for the privilege of homeschooling my two girls
  6. I am thankful that the Lord is using me to impact lives for eternity
  7. I am thankful for the freedom of living in America!
  8. Do I really have to stop here…..? so much to be thankful for…

It is now time for me to pass this award along to a few of my friends.  I’ve enjoyed their blogs – so will you: 

Now it’s your turn to pass on The Versatile Blogger award !
Thanks again Vickie!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


As part of this years This Old Schoolhouse CREW, I am part of the BLOG WALK.  So take a few minutes and walk through a few of my Crews blogs and post a comment or two!

Enjoy meeting a few new places and faces!

1. Buckaroo Days
2. Our Homeschool Reviews
3. Reed, Party of 6
4. Training Hearts at Home
5. Along The Way
6. I Love Science!
7. Through the Calm and Through the Storm
8. Created for Home
9. Tractors and Tire Swings
10. Guiding Light Homeschool

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Workboxes – part 1

We started using a variation of Sue Patrick’s Workbox System during our 2009- 2010 school year.  I modified her system to fit the needs of our family’s school day and it worked great. IMG_9787

Why change something that is working? 

Well I am.  I am changing our Workboxes to fit this year’s exciting changes: a new unit study curriculum (MFW-Adventures) and an additional student in the classroom (my five-year-old is entering K this year).

I plan to use the 6 workboxes for each child’s independent work (like math, LA, HW, and spelling) and I have a fun box on top for readers or prizes (yet to be determined).   I am still working on the picture cards for the workboxes (drawers in our case).  I just bought a laminator too- how fun!

The workboxes are from Hobby Lobby.  They are ClearView 3 Drawer Organizer.  I stacked 2 sets of 3 drawers each on one another.  The drawers are a great size too - 12” x 12”.   

The reason I am only using 6 workboxes is because I am doing a unit study for my girls (who are 5 and 7 years old).  I chose My Father’s World Adventures this year.  So we will combine the following subjects:  Bible, History, Geography, Art, Music and Science.  I plan not to use workboxes for these subjects because all three of us will be working on them together.

I am still working on the picture cards to label the workboxes so the girls can see their work load and work independently!  So subscribe to my blog so you can receive more updates via email!  Part 2 to come soon.. I have to crack open the laminator box.

If you would like to see how to plan workboxes in more detail check out these websites:
Sue Patrick's Workbox System
Homeschool Creations Blog
Workbox Blog

Another view of our workbox drawers:

Check out what I did with our walk-in closet.  This is a quiet place for one of the girls to work independently.
Come back soon for Part 2 of our workboxes!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Paint, Popsicles and Princesses

I asked Marissa what she wanted to do special for her fifth birthday.  Thankfully, she had a single request – paint !

Well, that single request is not such a simple request for mom to take on.  But, what is simple for mom?  Motherhood is complicated and busy, but full of fun!

Do you have a stack of 15 coloring books laying all over your house?  We do.  So, here is an idea - have a “Paint-Party” outside!  Collect a few items like: lots of coloring books, brushes, paint jugs, old shirts, paper towels and several cups of water.

This is what we did: I set up their “Paint-Party” outdoors at the picnic table.  I gave them 8 coloring books, 6 jugs of washable paint, old shirts, paper towels, 4 cups of water (and another pitcher full to make more messes) and a variety of paint brushes.  How fun and messy does that sound?

The girls chatted about the colors they blended to make pink, mint green and light blue.  They were busy for over two hours.  And to add to the fun and mess, I gave them each a big popsicle.

I love summer, smiles, homeschooling, fun and being a mother!
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