Category Archives: homeschool

Schedule Options (MS & HS) – a day in the life Crew challenge

How many different ways are there to schedule schooling options? As many as there are subject variations, I imagine. I thought I would share a couple that are working well for us. I have three children and each of them is working on a different schedule.

High School – 11th grade with dual credit for two classes a semester

This student is a slow-starter but a hard worker. She is forcing herself to get up to an alarm and get moving every weekday, even when she doesn’t have to. Last semester, she worked on a fairly traditional schedule. But this semester, she came to me and asked if she could work hard on one subject a day, planning to complete at least a week’s worth of work on the subject. She had a sound reasoning as to why she thought it would work for her. So, she scheduled math one day, biology one day, and literature one day. She is doing history and sign language through dual credit and so is working on those more than one day a week. She does her physical education daily (dance), also. But the beauty of this schedule is that it is what she sees as being a strong way to work on it for her and so she will work hard at it.

Block schedules are not a new thing. I remember as an elementary school teach using block schedules for math and language arts. The high schools have done this before also. Their schedule is not typically one subject a day but they block it into larger chunks of time, maybe 3 subjects a day, so that the students can get on a roll with an idea or concept and not have it cut off just as they start to understand. So, after listening to her reasons, I was thrilled to see her taking the time to consider, come up with a sound argument for her idea, and present it to me logically. Her ideas was granted permission so long as we see sound progress.

High School – 9th grade working with a boxed curriculum

This student is a go-getter to the max! She is one who embraces everything being done as well as possible. (I work really hard not use the word perfectionist with her!) She is working on a combo of daily work with a looping schedule. With a looping schedule, she is working for a set amount of time completing one lesson after another down the page of the curriculum guide. When she hits the end of the day, say Monday, she jumps to the top of Tuesday’s column and starts there, whether or not it is Tuesday. These are subjects like her history, writing, reading/literature, Bible, and science. Her math, Bible, physical education (dance), foreign language, and violin are daily work. She does each of these and then starts in on her loop for the day.

This has worked well for her. She makes continuous progress without getting overwhelmed at the sheer volume of materials. She will earn 11, yes 11, high school credits when she completes these courses. No wonder she felt overwhelmed trying to hit every subject every day and was spending hours and hours on it. She is not moving at one the pace of the curriculum guide – 1 calendar week = 1 curriculum guide week – but she is making strong and happy progress. It’ll take a bit longer than one year to get through the curriculum but that is okay. She’ll earn more than one year of credits for it.

I do probably need to address Bible for her since it is both in her loop and her daily schedule. For the loop schedule, it is whatever is assigned in the curriculum. They have several Bible items for the student to work on, earning a Bible credit with this curriculum. She also works on several projects and studies for church, as well as teaching one of the Sunday classes for preschool. So she works on Bible Bowl, Pearls (book study), debate, memorizing scripture, other Lads to Leaders materials, or Sunday school prep on a daily basis for a large part of the school year.

Middle School – 6th grader

This is one smart cookie who gets easily distracted. She finds things really interesting but can then get just as interested in something else. She is working on an eclectic curriculum. She is doing well with it. She works 4 days a week, doing each subject every day. She has a daily checklist in a spiral that she uses to help keep her on track. She has math (online), history (includes literature, vocabulary, and writing), science, Bible, sign language, and physical education (dance). She spends a good bit of time each day on her curriculum, often because she gets distracted or doesn’t concentrate. Hers is a “check everything off each day” schedule.

We also spend a good bit of time finding fun, short videos on things she is interested in to watch. She helps me cook and do laundry (sometimes on the laundry) and she loves to read (finally!!). She enjoys spending time with people and helping out. She has started spending quite a bit of time drawing for fun. All of these are learning opportunities, too. So, when I feel like this child isn’t spending enough time on “learning,” I remind myself of all these other things that she does that are also learning, just not out of a book.

Final Thoughts

My purpose in sharing this is to remind each of us that we are different. Even our children are different. As they get older, they can have more say in what works for them. Yes, I am still responsible in making sure that what needs to get done is getting done. I can, however, allow them the freedom to help decide how to tackle it. Just the other night (at 11:20 PM!), the two older girls were working together, evaluating each other’s Powerpoint presentations and teaching each other how to do some background work, edit and transition work, and copyright notifications for images used. I don’t have to worry about whether they are learning as I can see it, day in and day out. Or night in and night out as the case may be! 🙂

Go with your gut and find non-traditional ways of schedule so that your students are successful. After all, isn’t that what it is about?

The Homeschool Review Crew bloggers are writing about their take on a day in the life of a homeschooler. Head over to the post to find the links for the other bloggers additions. Linky is at the bottom of the post.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Winter Education Doesn’t Have to be Different

You know, I struggle to think of education during different times of years as different. And that is okay. I can stay the course and be pleased with that choice.

We often see others posting of all the great things they do differently for a change in season or a holiday or what-not. At that time, it is easy to let the monster of comparison creep in. But don’t, y’all! We are not all the same. I am speaking to myself here. Just this morning, I was thinking how I needed to get the girls outside more because they aren’t “active enough.” But my girls are; just in different ways than that parent was talking about. I was letting comparison slip into my thinking and my decisions. Bad choice. That seldom turns out good for me. 🙂

So, what does winter education look like? Well, it looks like regular school days for most of the time. It looks like more breaks and a few special, fun activities. We do tend to do more puzzles. We take more holiday time off. In a “normal” year, we spend some time with family and visit NM, where we get to see good snow and do some hiking and maybe visit a museum or two. But, really, those kinds of things happen other times of the year, too.

So, winter education is really no different for us here in central Texas. And that is okay. So, to the mom or dad who is looking around, get some ideas but remember you know best what works for your kiddos. Mine need routine and time in the dance studios. Time outside doesn’t rejuvenate them like others say their kiddos need. Give mine a good song and a barre for their rejuvenation. Pick and choose what is right for your students and don’t waver in your thinking just because someone else posts a fun looking idea. You know. Stay the course.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Linking up with the Homeschool Review Crew for their monthly blogging challenges. This week is How do you homeschool in the winter? Head over to the blog to read up on lots of ideas and takes on this theme.


Using SchoolhouseTeachers.com Recently ~ a Crew review

Disclosure: I received this product free through the Homeschool Review Crew.

The Ultimate PreK-12 Annual Membership accessed through SchoolhouseTeachers.com contains a wealth of information, classes, planning tools, helps, and encouragement. From video courses to text courses, from PK classes through courses interesting for adults, you will find just about anything you could want in home education and resources to support all types of learning – home education, virtual learning, blended learning, or others that I don’t even know about.

One of the great things about SchoolhouseTeachers is that you can browse on the site in so many ways. You can search by grade level, subject type, need, keyword, learning style, and more. You come up with lots of options to explore and you can pick and choose what looks like a great fit for your own crew. And if it isn’t? No problem. Search again and pick something different. You have access to it ALL! One free for one year of ALL material on the site.

So, what have we been doing with the site?

The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe Literature Kit

With my 6th grader, we read the book together during December. We used some of the information from the kit to discuss. We talked a bit about C.S. Lewis. We looked at the background for why the children went to the country. We had previously done a WWII study so she was familiar with a lot of but it was good to check in with the history again. She kept a list of all the foods mentioned in the story as we read and we talked about what “tea” meant. At the end of the story, she did a bit of researching of recipes and picked from her list of foods to create a tea party. She cooked and invited her family and we enjoyed a Narnia tea time.

This literature kit is set up for a study to last several weeks. Because we were using it as a one week study during a break from our regular schedule, we adapted by picking a choosing a few of the discussions and activities to do. Activities we didn’t use included making snowflakes and snowflake ornaments, researching beavers, a study on Father Christmas, looking up flowers, how to draw a mouse, and much more. There is a four week lesson plan included.

I also had her pop over to the Literature Lessons for The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. We had some quick discussions about some of the questions there. They covered characters, setting, plot, conflict, and theme. There are suggested answers in a separate file. These questions can also be done using an interactive content tool. It asks the question and has a space to type the response. The responses are emailed to the email address entered by the student when starting the quiz.

Foreign Language – French

We have been hoping for a French class to show up on here and one did. I have just started to explore it a little bit to see how it will work for my 9th grader. It appears that they are 3-4 years worth of high school materials for her so we will likely be taking this up soon. It includes course work from elementary, middle, and high school levels.

Videos

We were excited to see in the Christmas Corner of the Seasonal Resources that there was a video on The Candy Maker’s Christmas. This relates to a favorite holiday book we read every year so we were pleased to watch the short video on it. It also had a worksheet to go along with it if we had chosen to use it.

There are a lot of other video options, from materials to go along with specific classes (one of our favorites is always Drive Thru History) to devotional materials available through RightNow Media. There are over 450 videos available with your membership to SchoolhouseTeachers.

Holidays

There are tons of holiday materials that are written specifically for the holiday or are a part of a larger course that have been separated out to make doing a holiday unit study easy. With Valentine’s Day and President’s Day both coming up next month, there are plenty of materials available to pick something to add a change to the school routine. I was looking at a couple of the printable games to use for Valentine’s Day or perhaps a poetry study. There is a book by Patricia McLaughlin titled “All The Places To Love” that reads like poetry and has a study but there is also a study of Shakepeare’s “Shall I Compare Thee To A Summer’s Day?” Both look like short but strong options for a 6th grader.

Other Resources

I can’t discuss them all but I want to name a few more that are worth checking out:
– School Boxes (grade level curriculum options) – these are full of curriculum choices for a particular level to be able to quickly and easily pull together a full curriculum
– Literacy Center
– Special Needs Center
– Parents eBook Library
– Focused Learning Centers
– High School Help
– Planning: includes printable planners and schedule makers to customize

Much more is included on SchoolhouseTeachers.com. This just barely scratches the surface. Many other reviewers for the Homeschool Review Crew have written about how they have recently been using the Ultimate PreK-12 Annual Membership and some about how it will continue to be used in the coming months for their homeschools. Please pop over to the Crew blog and read more reviews.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Blue Ribbon Awards, 2020 edition

The Blue Ribbon Awards is a tradition with the Homeschool Review Crew and it is a fun one for us as participants. I imagine it is also fun for the vendors. A number of categories are shared and every family in the Crew votes for their favorite in that category. We don’t vote in all categories since we didn’t review something from each of the categories.

Please visit the Crew blog to read about the overall winners from the Crew and to find other families who have shared their individual favorites. Without further ado, here are our family’s choices for the Blue Ribbon Award 2020.

Favorite Complete Curriculum – My Father’s World

Favorite Reading Supplement – Reading Eggs

Favorite Language Arts Resource – IEW

Favorite History/Social Studies Resource – Home School in the Woods Time Line Collection

Favorite History/Social Studies Book – YWAM – Jacob Deshazer

Favorite Science Resource – Journey Homeschool Academy – Upper Level Biology

Favorite Math Curriculu – CTCMath

Favorite Math Supplement – Critical Thinking Co: Mastering Logic & Math Problem Solving

Favorite Fine Arts Resource – Beyond the Stick Figure

Favorite Bible Resource – Drive Thru History Adventures – Bible Unearthed

Favorite Elementary Product – Let’s Go Geography

Favorite Middle School Product – Byron’s Games Continent Race

Favorite High School Product – Journey Homeschool Academy

Favorite Mom/Teacher Product – Fermentools Starter Kit

Best Resource I Didn’t Know I Needed – Fermentools Starter Kit

Favorite Fun Resource – Byron’s Games Continent Race

Kid’s Choice (Miss J chose this one) – Beyond the Stick Figure

Teen’s Choice #1 (Miss L chose this one) – My Father’s World

Teen’s Choice #2 (Miss E chose this one) – Journey Homeschool Academy

My Favorite – Sonrise Stables/History on Horseback

So, there you have it. Our favorites for the year. We got to review a some new products this year and we got to know some new vendors. We also got to use some old favorites that we know work well with the girls. We are continually blessed by the Crew and are looking forward to another year with them.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Complete Curriculum For The Whole Family – SchoolhouseTeachers.com ~ a Crew review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

SchoolhouseTeachers

We have been members with SchoolhouseTeachers.com, a site with online classes, for, well, a good number of years. We started with a membership there just a few months after we started homeschooling the girls. So, I guess we are on our 7th year and we are constantly benefitting from this wonderful, online subscription.

The Ultimate PreK-12 Annual Membership is the best option for a multi-age family as it gives you access to everything on the site for one price for the year. Sign up now and that price is set low, as a price increase is coming in February. If you would rather, you can also choose a month-to-month plan, though that cost is a bit higher.

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The access, though, is for a complete PK-12 curriculum that not only includes all of the core classes you need, but also a whole slew of extra-curricular choices. The scope and sequence charts are some of the best ways to narrow down choices for each child.

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Recently, we were looking for a science course for my 8th grader who is capable of high school level work but doesn’t just love science. So, I downloaded the scope and sequence chart for 8th grade science but what I found was that most of the science classes at her level have options that make their grade range 7th-12th. Perfect! Options! But narrowed down. I debated between Botany and Geology, both 16 week courses for this spring semester. I settled on Botany but that Geology course is still on my radar. (I may do it myself.)

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What Is Great About SchoolhouseTeachers

Variety is the spice of life, right? Well, you get it with SchoolhouseTeachers. Whether you are looking for preschool or something for an adult, there are tons of choices.

Full curriculum means math, science, history, and language arts. These are all there in abundance. You can choose between different classes for lots of the levels. And then there are the extras or high-interest classes – photography, music (for example: Advanced Music Theory), art (for example: Everyday Easels), drama, speech, fashion, technology, unit studies, health, and more.

Navigation of the Site

I know that when a site has a ton of content, it can be overwhelming and intimidating. Let me reassure you, this site is navigable by multiple ways which makes is less of a burden. Are you looking for a particular class type, such as cooking or geography? Look under the Scope and Sequence chart or browse by class. Are you looking for a grade level to plan the whole year or multiple grade level subjects? Use the Browse By Subject tab to get started. Are you looking for something just for you as a parent? Head over to the tab titled Planning or Resources.

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Two other nagivation options? There is a search bar at the top, which, while it can be helpful, also pulls things from a single lesson inside of a course. This can be good if you are building your own study, like we did a while back on India. That was really helpful to find a unit on tigers and a recipe to make. Bits and pieces came together to make a fabulous study.

The other option is to use the chat icon in the lower right. The folks who handle the chats are really knowledgeable and are able to give links directly to classes to check out that might meet your needs to help you find things that fit you needs.

Other Benefits of SchoolhouseTeachers

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Planners! Any homeschooling parent knows that there is a need for a good planner. But we often want different things than are typically found in planners or we want this page from one planner and that page from a different one. Well, you can find two different planners to meet your needs. The Schoolhouse Planner is over 750 pages so that you can pick and choose what you want to print to meet the individual needs that you have. There is also a planner for high school students to help them be responsible for their own materials and requirements.

World Book Encyclopedia! Research is something that we all need to do and teach. As a member of SchoolhouseTeachers, you will receive access to the full World Book Encyclopedia online. This kind of access is really quite remarkable and is a great tool. Whether researching people or events, the articles, images, and timelines are very useful.

RightNow Media! Access is also available to many, many videos from RightNow Media. Whether a Bible study, a missionary study, or a cartoon for the kids, the variety on RightNow Media is extensive.

Interactive Content! There are multiple ways in which your students can have interactive content. You might choose a course (such as Drive Thru History) that has a video segment for teaching. You might find one (such as geology) that has both a video segment and an online quiz that sends results directly to your email.

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Lesson Plans! Most of the course (maybe all, I am not sure!) have a printable lesson plan that takes the student step-by-step through what should be done for each day. For example, with Botany, I printed the lesson plan and put it in a folder with notebook paper. The lesson plan tells Miss L which pages to read in the text (which we downloaded as a PDF to the computer so she can read from there but we could also put it on her Kindle) and which questions to answer. If there is an activity, such as writing a paragraph on a scientist, it tells her that, also. If there is something she needs to print, you’ve got it, the lesson plan tells her which page to print.

Literacy Center! This is a center that focuses on teaching reading. With a grade level of PK – 2nd grade for pre-reading and reading activities and grade level or 3rd-4th for their comprehension activities, there is a lot of support in this center for assisting parents who are teaching their children to read.

Focused Learning Centers! These are various areas that focus on topics like math, reading, special needs, foreign language, high school, college planning, or science. These materials will direct you to the materials – whether courses or particular lessons – on the site that will help you teach and address the particular area of need that you have.

So Really –

I could keep going because SchoolhouseTeachers truly is a site that is packed to the brim with materials and information. I could easily use this site to teach everything my girls will need to know. It truly is a complete curriculum choice and with the current sale going on, it would be hard to not call this a bargain. Please check out the site and see what would benefit your family.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

There are many Homeschool Review Crew members sharing their reviews of SchoolhouseTeachers.com, a complete curriculum site. Please click on the banner below to read their reviews.

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SchoolhouseTeachers review

Literature Class for High School – a series of ideas

Disclaimer: This post does contain an affiliate link. I did not receive anything for this post but if you choose to purchase through the affiliate link, I may receive a small commission for it.

Literature Class for High School

Literature – that word either thrills you deeply or scares you deeply. Your reaction could very likely be a response to the literature classes you had as a high school student. For me, I had a strange literature year in 9th grade where one semester we focused deeply on a single writing assignment before the teacher moved to Germany and the other semester we had a creepy teacher who taught only Sherlock Holmes novels. I also think about the year that Ms. McKay taught lit in junior high and we had a fabulous time with all sorts of unique ideas for how we shared about the books we read. I like to try to allow my girls to lean more towards the Ms. McKay style year than the other one. Literature has so much to teach us but it can be easy to make it a miserable experience when the focus is in the wrong place.

So where should the focus be? Why, the story of course and what the reader is getting from it. The focus should not be on what the teacher thinks the student should get from it because we are all different and see different things in stories. And what a wonderful thing that is. My girls have taught me so much by listening to their thoughts on books. That’s why we did Story Spiels one year. And why we have not done a traditional book report. Ever.

I would suggest the following for a literature class for high school.

  • Allow the student say in what is read and studied. Yes, it is a good idea to have them read stories they would not naturally pick up but they shouldn’t ONLY be reading things they wouldn’t normally choose. A good blend of their choice and yours is stronger than either by itself.
  • If a prepared curriculum is preferred, there is no reason to not use it. Try to allow for modification, if would make the experience more enjoyable. We have used Sharon Watson’s materials and loved them, planning to use them again, because of the way in which she approaches the story of any book. We did not use it 100% as written but used a large part it and will with her other one in the future. We are also using one this year and modifying it to fit age level (see what I share towards the end on To Every Nation).
  • Allow the student freedom in how they will share what they glean from the story. A one-size-fits-all report form is not going to sit well with a student who really understands on character but doesn’t really pay all that much attention to what year it is in the story. Finding a way for the student to share their own insights will broaden their understanding and give them a pride in their shares.
  • Require a mix of creative and unique ways to present coupled with some writing. It is high school and if there is any chance whatsoever that the student will go to college, there is a need for the student to be able to express their thoughts not just verbally but also in writing. Having a challenge of half of their presentations for the year involving some form of writing will give them freedom to choose which books fit more naturally into a written form and which they would rather do something wildly creative with.
  • Provide ideas that are open-ended. With specific ideas, it can be difficult for students to broaden that to their own creativity. With open-ended ideas, they can adapt the idea to their particular story and idea. Open-ended suggestions give freedom and open the option of creative ideas that might not even be on your radar but fit the student’s ideas perfectly.
  • Allow for a mix of paper/pencil projects, technology, artistic, theatrical, and more. Every idea should be allowed for consideration.

We have selected the books that our sophomore is reading – the YWAM series of Christian biographies (affiliate link). She is also working on the workbook To Every Nation (courtesy link) from Not Consumed that we purchased. In addition, since the books and workbooks fall “below” her reading level, we have required her to add a final project for each of the biographies. We created a list for her to choose from following much of the criteria above.

I am going to share an idea a week (at least that’s the plan) with you from our list of what project choices we have come up with. I am going to share with you whether Miss E has used that option and if so, how it has gone. I can’t wait to encourage you in thinking “outside the box” for high school literature. After all, there is so much to learn from reading literature books that we ought to make it fun and enjoyable.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

a series of teaching ideas

Artchitectural Feats with Building Planks from Brain Blox ~ a Crew review

Build something spectacular

Brain Blox has created yet another exciting, challenging product that allows children to tackle architectural feats. Brain Blox Wooden Building Planks have been a joy for our youngest giggly girl. Miss J has tackled all sorts of fun and interesting builds with these lightweight wooden planks. The whole family has enjoyed using these, building together and separately, but Miss J has certainly used them most often.

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We received the kit of 200 planks. Each plank is the same size and thickness. The solid wood, lightweight planks are made of 100% pine from New Zealand. Each piece of wood is chemical-free and safe for children. Since these non-toxic Building Planks are nothing more than wood that is a few inches long, they are safe for children of all ages, from 4 to 104.

planks pile

Needing nothing more than stacking and gravity, these Building Planks allow for hours of imaginative building and creativity. The kit contained the planks, a canvas drawstring bag for storing the blocks, and a booklet of ideas and inspirations. There are many free resources and ideas on the Brain Blox website. The Brain Blox YouTube channel also has some fabulous resources with their building videos and challenges.

Miss J used these Brain Blox often while listening to the read aloud she is working through with her dad. She can listen to the story and build parts of it, such as the train the characters rode on or the chair one of the characters sat in to study.

 

The logic challenges from the YouTube website were lots of fun and really challenged Miss J to think outside of the box. Each one set up a shape and then challenged the student to change just a couple of pieces to for a new shape.

 

Some of the free resources that are available for use have been mentioned already. These include the booklet with image challenges for building. Also included are the logic challenges from the YouTube channel. There is also the Brain Blox University, downloadable curriculum resources for levels 1 through 6.

Here is a slideshow of some of the many different builds that Miss J had tackled.

 

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Many of these builds she has tackled often. She built some of these multiple times. Some she tried to build with more space in between each block or more blocks or closed in some of the spaces to try to make them smaller. This play with spatial thinking is one of the many benefits of an innovative yet simple toy like these Brain Blox Building Planks.

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It is so simple to consider that these are a toy for youngsters. But they aren’t. These Building Planks have longevity. They are fun for everyone in the family to use and can be used to illustrate many concepts in education. Whether providing a hands-on activity or being used in math lessons, there are many ways that these will be used.

plank tower

I am going to leave you with one of the videos that Miss J made after she knocked down her tower that was much taller than she was. It was a time of joy for her and she build and pulled down her tower many times. What a fun thing to encourage and see her attempt many times over.

We highly recommend these Wooden Building Planks from Brain Blox. Hours and hours of enjoyment, stretching the mind and creativity. If you are looking for more fabulous products from Brain Blox, check out our review of Fun Family Chess, a way to learn chess that can be used by young and old alike.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Building Planks review

Please visit the Homeschool Review Crew to see what other families thought of the Brain Blox Wooden Building Blocks by clicking on the image below.

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Hey, Mama! Planner ~ a Crew review

I am a pen and paper kind of gal. That makes a printed planner a necessity for me. And my very favorite one is published by The Old Schoolhouse®. I have been using it for quite a few years now, except for one year when I couldn’t get it. But the Hey, Mama! Homeschool Planner for 2019/20 Year is just what I needed.

Hey Mama! Planner

The author of this planner, Gena Suarez, has been down this homeschooling road and knows about the hopes and desires and worries and concerns that inundate the life of a homeschooling mama. She wrote this planner with all of that in mind. It seems like that part of the planner – the part that offers encouragement to stay strong and remember why you tackled this homeschooling journey in the first place – actually came before the planning part of the planner. That is what I like most about this planner and why I come back to it year after year. I find great encouragement here.

notes page

You specifically see these encouragement posts each month. Every one starts out with Hey, Mama! Gena is talking to me. And to you. And to whoever is using this beautiful planner. We all have down days and days of struggle. These Hey, Mama! letters are found in the calendar part of the planner (I know getting a bit ahead of myself but I’ll get there). One letter for each month. And I go back to them more than once in the year. Because they are so encouraging!

Planner coverA quick note about the quality of this planner – it is fabulous. The cover is beautiful and this combination of my favorite color with flowers just makes me smile. And who doesn’t like something that makes them smile. 🙂 The planner is spiral bound with laminated paper covers. Okay – laminated is probably not the right word but they are thick paper with a nice glossy finish that will allow it to withstand a lot of use, which it will get. The pages inside are a thick and of a high-quality. The slightly rough finish is smooth to write on. All of this adds up to a lovely planner that is a joy to use.

Now, on to the other pages of the planner. As I mentioned, there are calendar pages of several sorts. There is a year-long view set up month by month so you can see all of 2019 by itself, all of 2020, by itself and all of 2021 by itself. The whole year. There is a monthly view, where you get the month in a two-page spread so you can make plans for the month and see it all at once. Then you have the weekly view in undated pages. So you can make those work for you in whatever way is best, week by week.

You get some transcript information, because at some point, every child will need some kind of a record of what has been covered. There is one page on “Creating an Academic Transcript” followed by an academic transcript if you want a pre-made form. There are checklists for skills learned and a page to track other courses. These are all found up front.

After your weekly view planning pages, you have planning pages for up to five children. There is a page for notes, a page for curriculum planning, an attendance chart, a book list page, a page for yearly goals, and pages for semester goals. That allows you to really think through and plan for your children’s education each year. But, it is also really flexible and you don’t have to use any of these forms that don’t work for you.

For me, I have already color coded our schedule for next school year, starting in July.

calendar for the year

I have also started keeping track of the learning and reviews that will happen during July. I use the notes page that comes with each month to write down what videos we watch, what field trips (or camps/mission trips) we take, what books we use as a read aloud, and what reviews are being worked on by which girl. You can see that in the image up above with the example of the encouragement letter.

The monthly view is another way I track the big picture. I tend to write on it our places we go and activities done. As you can see, I color code everything I write down for the girls. I use blue, pink, and purple to make notes on their course work, attendance, book list, activities, etc. I use red and/or green for anything we do as a family. This helps me see at a glance what has been done or what is planned.

July planning

I also plan to use the curriculum planning pages. I like to track which program each girl is using, especially for any high school level courses. So, for two of the girls, I will have some high school level courses to track.

curriculum planning

I also keep track of attendance. I am not required by the state to track that but it is a good measure of the amount of work done and time spent. And if I ever need it, I don’t have to try to figure it out. It is right there.

The Old Schoolhouse® has done such an amazing job with the Hey, Mama! Homeschool Planner for 2019/20 Year that they are about 98% sold out. There are not plans to print more for this year so you might want to grab yours quickly if you are interested.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

There were several families who were able to get a copy of the Hey, Mama! Homeschool Planner for 2019/20 Year for this review. Head over to the Homeschool Review Crew blog to read more reviews.

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Homeschool Complete Unit Studies ~ a Crew review

Homeschool Complete post image for unit studies

Unit studies are these wonderful packages of study that combine several different core areas of study under one topic. Homeschool Complete offers a number of different
Unit Studies that are packed full of learning and fun. We have just finished up two unit studies, having used John Adams (a one-week study) and Pioneers (a three-week study).

Homeschool Complete is a curriculum choice that has seen success. Created by Debra Arbuthnot, these studies are what she used to homeschool her own children. Her children have now graduated college and she is sharing her successful curriculum with others. In addition to her family education, Mrs. Arbuthnot has 27 years in public and private education.

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Homeschool Complete offers stand alone unit studies, complete year-long curriculum options, reading curriculum, and bundles of these products. Visit the website to take a look at all that is offered.

During this review period, we used two of her unit studies – John Adams and Pioneers. These studies are set up on a four-day per week schedule but you can adjust it for five-day weeks if that is what you do in your home. Alternatively, there are some suggested activities and reading that would allow to you go further with the study if you would rather do that on day five of your week.

Each study includes all of your core materials – reading, writing, math, science, history, fine arts, and PE. Every day does not include all of these areas but most are covered every day. To complete everything on each day’s activity list take around 2 -3 hours, depending on how much you adjust and your own children. We skipped the math in both of the studies because our daughter is at a different place in her math skills than these studies include. Even with that, we often spent an hour and a half – 2 hours on the study each day.

If you are a bit intimidated by the thought of covering everything with one study, have no fear. There are pages at the beginning of the study on how to use the study and the guide, how to approach teaching new skills, and tackling calender time if you use it in you home (it is included in the study). There is a complete skills list and a complete materials list, including having it broken down by lesson, at the beginning of the PDF.

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John Adams is a one week long 54-page unit study covering, you guessed it, John Adams. In this 3rd-4th grade level study, there were picture books to read and discuss, writing activities, historical adventures to learn, biographies to read, weather to talk about, and so much more. From singing patriotic songs and doing some physical activity to working on workbook pages (included in the download of the study), there is a variety of activity for each day.

Homeschool Complete Adams study and worksheet

We did have to make a trip to the library for this study to get the picture books, but, hey, we love trips to the library! We found the main picture books for the study, as well as couple of additional ones to keep around. We also substituted the chapter book for out-loud reading because it did not correspond to the study and was a character my daughter did not like. We gathered a few supplies, like crayons and pencils and the printed worksheet, and started off.

Homeschool Complete Adams study

Each day we would work through a picture book. Then we would work through the activities for the day. These included working on contractions, recalling information from the book, reading a non-fiction passage and writing answers to questions over it, creating art work to go with an event, creating a Venn diagram to compare two people, writing paragraphs and poetry, and movement activities.

 

By the time the week was out, we had a pretty good grasp of the life of John Adams, his wife Abigail, and the work he did as President. It was a good study.

Homeschool Complete Pioneers

Pioneers is a 3-week study for grades 3 through 6. At over 150 pages, it is packed with all your core materials and a bundle of activities to help your student experience life on the prairie. This study has a main book – Little House on the Prairie – that you will need to obtain separately. With the addition of a few materials for activities such as baking vanity cakes or making ice cream or growing crystals, you’ll have three weeks of fun reading and activity to learn about life during the pioneer times.

 

I did much of the reading out loud for Little House and then we used it as the jumping off point for the lessons after that. There are comprehension and discussion questions to go along with each reading of three to four chapters. Then there are worksheets, included in the PDF download, to further thought and practice writing. Each worksheet has some cursive practice and some words to work with in reading, spelling, and/or alphabetizing. Most have a short passage to read and then answer questions about, practicing full sentences. In these, we discussed weather, grasshoppers, and temperatures, to name a few. Miss J created graphs, mapped travel, labeled parts of grasshoppers, practiced reading charts, and worked on the long jump. She also work on music rhythms and time signatures.

Each day was a new variety of things to do and ways to do them. It was a good variety and kept things fun and interesting for her. We were able to take a couple of the activities and modify it to be able to go outside and work when the weather was nice. We found this study to be very adaptable and easy to use. With everything included for you, you can use just this study and feel confident that you are covering plenty of material with your child.

Homeschool Complete worksheet modification eboard

Thoughts On Homeschool Complete Unit Studies

The unit studies are so full of activity and learning! You won’t be disappointed. Do recognize that your child may fall at a different understanding level for some of these. For example, the Pioneers study is listed for 4 different grade levels. There is no way the math in that study can work for all 4 levels so be prepared to adjust for your own students. But that is the beauty of these unit studies. They are so full of activities, that skipping a few things or modifying them doesn’t diminish the quality of the study. It still is full of core study activities centered around a theme.

Some of the activities don’t quite fit clearly into the theme but that is to be expected when you are trying to create a truly comprehensive unit study. An example is that for PE one day, there was a discussion of flexibility. Not a bad item to discuss and the activity was kind of fun for my girl but it didn’t really fit into the theme. Doesn’t matter – we covered PE that day!

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All in all, I really like these unit studies. They are packed full of materials, ideas, and activities to keep the students engaged and interested. They material is flexible and can be adjust easily as needed to fit your family. There is enough material included in the downloadable PDF files that you wouldn’t miss it. You can even choose to pay for the unit study to be printed and shipped to you if you would prefer that route.

COUPON AVAILABLE: Use the code CREW2019 and can get 10% off your order until 3/31/2019.

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A while back, we also used the unit study on Soccer. I did not write a review here on my blog for it but you can find it on the The Old Schoolhouse Product Review page.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Homeschool Review Crew families have used a number of the unit studies as well as different grade levels of the All-Inclusive Curriculum. Please click through the banner below to visit the main post to read more reviews of Homeschool Complete.

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Colonial Williamsburg ~ Mega Field Trip 2018

Mega Field Trip - Colonial Williamsburg

After eating lunch at Pocahontas State Park, we headed into Williamsburg and checked into our hotel. We had found a great deal on a package with one of the Colonial Williamsburg hotels. If you visit, I would suggest checking to see the prices. We were able to stay at the hotel within walking distance of the entrance AND get our passes for three days (we only used one) for about what it would have cost us for a hotel elsewhere in the area. So, we basically got our passes for free. And the hotel had a fabulous continental breakfast included.

As I stated, we checked in during the late afternoon. It was really too late to head over since much of Colonial Williamsburg closes at 5 unless you have tickets for some of their special events. We knew we would be extremely tired by this point in our trip and so we elected to not push it. We stayed in the hotel room, vegged out, took a swim, ate dinner, and slept. We woke refreshed and eager the next morning.

We got into Colonial Williamsburg about the time it opened. We took a tour of the Governor’s Palace right off the bat. It was spectacular. The armament was basically kept here and there were TONS of weapons. They created beautiful decor in the entry way. They also would have served well to warn folks about how serious the area was in their protection. The gentleman we had giving us the tour was well versed in his material and knew not just about the Governor’s Palace but was able to answer questions about all of the city and the history and time period. He did a wonderful job of acquainting us with the time and all that was going on in the area.

The Palace was beautiful. It was furnished as close as they could to an original set up, including ordering rugs and paint colors to be done exactly as they would have originally. It was beautiful.

From there, we hurried across the way to a museum so that we could hear a performance of the glass armonica. This is the instrument that Benjamin Franklin invented. It is glass and played by spinning the glass instrument quickly and playing the edges with wetted fingers. It was lovely and the music is ethereal. Dean Shostak is a well known musician and talked much about how to play the armonica, as well as how it is made. He performed a number of pieces on it for us. He also pulled out a glass violin he had had made. Now, it had nothing to do with the colonial time period but it was a stunning instrument. His performance on it was stunning, too. Needless to say, we came away with several of his recordings.

glass armonica picture

After that, we just kind of wandered through the area. We ended up following a school tour and that allowed us to hear quite a bit more than if we had just come through on our own in several of the craftsmen’s shops. We did find that most of the folks were less than eager to answer questions, which was a bit disappointing. So, following the school group was a good thing for us.

We visited the tin smith, the leather smith, the dress maker, the silver smith, the tavern, and the school. Many places were closed, which we found very odd.

Another of my favorite parts came at the close of the day – the drum and fife group. We hung around to be able to hear them play their day ending ceremonies. They were dressed in stunning red uniforms and marched military style to their performances. They performed a number of pieces and it was lovely to watch. The drum and fife group would have been fairly essential to the life of the colony and it was a neat way to close out the day.

I did find myself wishing we had time to go back the next day but we decided we needed to head on. We were heading to New Bern, NC, to meet someone for lunch so we couldn’t dawdle too long. Our time at Colonial Williamsburg was very interesting and the girls still talk about hearing the glass armonica. That will be a lasting memory and well worth the trip.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

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