Tag Archives: homeschool

Where Do You Find Beauty?

Finding Beauty in the Homeschool

Or more accurately

How Does Our Homeschool Beautify the World


This week’s Virtual Curriculum Fair theme has really been on my mind. You can read a spin-off of it in my hymn post this week (Let The Beauty of Jesus Be Seen In Me).

I have wondered what makes homeschooling such a wonderful option. If you know me, you’ll know I am going to say “freedom, ability to stretch bounds, searching for what fits MY child or our situation.” Beauty is found in these statements because beauty is a somewhat elusive “thing.”

Beauty – several words or ideas that come with this:

  • grace
  • sense of beauty
  • pleasure that exalts the mind or spirit
  • particularly graceful, excellent or ornamental quality

So how do we use this idea to beautify the world?

1 – Volunteer Work

We help out when we can. One of the girls volunteers at our church office once a week. We help setup and clean up for weekly meals at the church. When there is a trash pickup day, we do our best to attend and work hard at it. We clean up and put away in the teacher’s workroom. We do what we can, when we can, without being asked.

2 – Helping Others

This varies in what it looks like but there are many opportunities to help others. The girls enjoy going to Ladies’ Bible Class because they get to help tend the younger children during that time. Making a meal for someone in need is a joy that helps others. Doing things others just don’t want to do helps bring peace and a sense of beauty.


3 – Participating in Art

We enjoy attending an art class offered at Art Center Waco. The girls enjoy creating a beautiful piece of art work based on the artist studied. It is not unusual for those art pieces to be shared with sweet friends. What a way to bring a beautiful smile to someone’s face. This happens even with pieces that are created from art studies we do here at home.

4 – Creating Music

Miss L is studying violin and sharing that ability is an inexpressible form of beauty. It brings beautiful smiles to faces and makes others happy. Music has a way of doing that. Which is why Miss L also wrote a song for the Lads to Leaders video presentation. I hope we can share that with you soon.

5 – Finding an Ability

Finding an ability that you have and using it is probably the best way to express beauty and to share it with the world. Miss E has found that she has an ability with sign language. Not only does she enjoy it but she is very able. She is exploring some areas in which she can use this ability, including a possible mission experience. Letting the beauty of Jesus be seen through an ability which He granted.

These are just a few ways in which we are striving to add beauty to the world because it isn’t all about what we learn but about who we share with the world. And the abilities God gave us? Those beautify the world. So we use those, we feed those, we encourage that in our homeschool. Some will call these electives. That’s fine. We call them beauty. And God gave us that beauty, asking us to share that with the world so that they may know Him.

At Home.


Now I invite you to visit my fellow homeschool bloggers who are talking about seeking beauty in their homeschools:

Links will all be live by Monday 1-30-17 at 12 noon EST.

Living & Loving Art by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

Putting the Fun in School by Michele @ Family, Faith and Fridays

Art Fun In Our Homeschool by Amanda @Hopkins Homeschool

Fine Arts Is The Fun Part by Laura @ Four Little Penguins

Washing Dust Off Our Souls by Lisa @ Golden Grasses

Bringing Beauty Into Your Homeschool Through Poetry by Dana @ Roscommon Acres

Seeking out the beauty… by Kim @ Good Sweet Love

Joy in Home Education by Sarah @ Delivering Grace

Teaching Drawing (When You Can’t Draw) by Lizzy @ Peaches At Home

Homeschool Art for the Artistically Challenged by Brittney @ Mom’s Heart

Jesus, Peace, Freedom & Our Homeshool by Meghan W @ Quiet In The Chaos

Fine Arts Options in High School by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool

Reluctant Artist? What do you do? by Annette @ A Net in Time

Making Fine Arts a Priority by Lisa @ McClanahan 7

Creative Pursuits by Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break

Arts and Crafts in Our Homeschool by Shecki @ Greatly Blessed

Where Do You Find Beauty? by Lori H @ At Home: where life happens

Looping our Beauty Topics Saved our Homeschool by HillaryM @ Walking Fruitfully

Have you written a post about this week’s theme, Seeking Beauty? If so please link it up by clicking on the link below.

An InLinkz Link-up

Easy Motivation? – Middle School Monday

Do you remember those commercials with the “easy button?”

Easy Motivation

“That was easy!”

Guess what was brought to the girls the other day? You guessed it – an easy button.

But not just any ol’ easy button. No sirree – a multilingual easy button!

And the girls love it! (Me? It startles me all the time.)

Easy motivation 2

We keep it in the center of the work table during school time. Each time they complete a task, they have the option of pushing the easy button. This is a huge hit and they all work hard to get to push the button.

So, if you need a strange sort of motivation, perhaps you need to drop by Staples (I think that is where it was found) and get your homeschool a multilingual easy button. I am sure that any day now I will be hearing “That was easy!” in German, Chinese, Portuguese, or another language pop out of the mouth of one of the girls.

That was easy!

At Home.

A Favorite

A favorite thing necessary to our homeschool? Just one?
Well, okay – I’ll pick:


Yep, good ol’ audiobooks. The reason I specify audiobooks instead of just good literature and include audiobooks in it? Because the audio part can make a huge difference for some kids. Once audiobooks were discovered by my readers (and they LOVE to read), a bigger array of titles opened up to them because the thickness of the book or the tininess of the print was no longer intimidating. From Anne of Green Gables to folktales by native storytellers to major productions like The Dragon and The Raven by Heirloom Audio Productions, audios have made a huge impact on our homeschooling.

If you are looking for classics, you can get many of them for free online from sources like Librivox or your local public library site (using things like Overdrive).

If you are looking for children’s titles, check out your local public library or a interlibrary loan system. Miss J checks out Playaways with titles like Corduroy, Amelia Bedelia, and The Hungry Caterpillar. Miss E checks out Ella Enchanted and Anne of Green Gables and more.

If you are looking for more, you can pay and buy them online or in bookstores. (But don’t forget to look in used bookstores, too!)

We have used audio books to make our roadtrips much more productive. Whether it be a classic that we want to listen to or something new we have never experienced, we have found that roadtrips are the perfect time to try out audiobooks.

History is one area where audiobooks bring a whole lot of information to life for the listener. Especially if you use our very favorite resource: Heirloom Audio Productions.

We have reviewed several of their productions (and we just found out we get to review their newest one, as well: The Cat of Bubastes so look for that in October), including:
Beric The Briton,
Under Drakes Flag,
In Freedom’s Cause,
With Lee In Virginia, and
The Dragon and the Raven.

These will teach the listener history whether they want to hear it or not! They are amazing and fantastic and tons of fun. Just ask Miss E. She keeps them in her room and listens to them quite often. I would imagine she has listened to each of them several times.

So our favorite, can’t live without item: audios, be it audiobooks or audioproductions. Go find one to listen to and see if your family doesn’t fall in love with them, too.

At Home.

This is a part of the Review Crew Round-up, publishing the evening of August 26, 2016 (when this link will be live).

Favorite Homeschool Product 

Hey Mama! Planner ~ a TOS review

planner cover 

I am a paper planner kind of girl. I need my Hey Mama! Print Schoolhouse Planner 2016-2017 to keep track of my school life and plans. I was so happy when I received one to review from The Old Schoolhouse (TOS – yep, the parent company of the Review Crew).

Hey Mama! Schoolhouse Planner 2016-2017 ReviewI don’t really know where to start with what I really like about my Hey Mama! Planner. The Hey Mama! Planner has almost 200 pages to work with. Printed in beautiful sepia and black tones throughout, it is bound with a metal spiral binding. The covers are glossy, printed cardstock.

I think what I like best is the constant encouragement found within the pages of the planner. Right off the bat, there is a Hey Mama! letter of encouragement. These Hey Mama! letters are found at the start of each monthly planning section to remind you of the important job you have but more that God created you just as you are to be THE perfect mama for your little ones (and big ones). Every single month.

Table of Contents


So what all is in the planner? Well, everything I need and so much more. There are so many calendars and forms that I don’t need anything else for planning. Well, maybe some blank paper but that’s a different story. Calendars, weekly planning pages, goal pages for months, semesters and years, attendance charts, contact pages, curriculum lists, and a whole bundle of other lists for topics of interest or dates needed. Chock full!

The weekly planning pages are probably the main portion of the planner for me. I use those day in and day out. I am saying use because this is the planner I currently have. There are 36 weeks worth of pages. Since we tend to do more school than this that I want to keep track of, it is permissible to copy additional pages to keep with the planner. I would love to see this planner include 52 weeks since so many homeschoolers educate all year round, even if it isn’t full-blown school mode.weekly plan page

These pages are my mainstay and help us track what we are doing and/or what needs to be done. The pages are set up in table format, with 6 across the top and 8 down the side. One of each of those is for labeling, in my opinion, leaving 5 across the top and 7 down the side. This means I label and date the top ones Monday through Friday, Down the side, I label the subjects that we are working on. When I am writing in what is happing or planned, I use three colored pens: blue for E, pink for L, and purple for J. There is actually a fourth (red) that I use to show things that are the same for all three girls. This allows me to fully utilize the space on the pages.

Our monthly notes page

I also use the monthly planning pages a lot. A LOT! On the notes for the month, I keep track of our read-alouds, any videos we watch, all of our field trips, any reviews and due dates we have going on, and all of the volunteer work that happens. To show you this in actual use, I am showing you the May 2016 pages for our family. **For the 2015-2016 school year, there was a digital version of the Hey Mama! Planner available with a membership through SchoolhouseTeachers.com. I printed off my copy of the Hey Mama! Planner and had it bound locally. These pages look the same in the 2016-2017 printed Hey Mama! Planner. Well, with the right dates. 🙂


our monthly planning pagetracking my reading

One other thing that I do that is really personal for me: I keep track of the books I am reading just for me. I do that above the Hey Mama! letter each month. This tracks the fact that I am doing something just for me but also encourages me to keep it up.

I am currently working on setting up goals for next school year. The goal planning pages are going to be a big help for that. There is a monthly page, a semester page, and a yearly page, plus a curriculum planning page. There are 4 or 5 copies of each of these in the Hey Mama! Planner. Some families have need of more copies of this than are included; it is okay to copy the page if you need more.

With Miss E in middle school now, we are looking towards what she will need by the time she graduates. These planning pages are going to be a huge help for that, with a couple of pages at the end dedicated to helping create an academic transcript. Again, if you have more than one high schooler or are planning for more than one, you may need to make a copy of the transcript page. (You could also print it off of SchoolhouseTeacher.com if you have a membership.)

Hey Mama letter and monthly notes page

I don’t know many people who can get along without planning so why not use a planner that is full of encouragement and helps. The Old Schoolhouse has created a wonderful planner with the Hey Mama! Planner, full of encouragement with the Hey Mama! letters and Bible verses throughout. This is a fantastic resource that I highly recommend and have used for two years now. I use mine all the time and I can’t imagine using anything else.

I have a coupon for you to order your own Hey Mama! Print Schoolhouse Planner 2016-2017! Visit TheOldSchoolhouse.com and order the printed planner using the code CREWCODE for $10 off. What a fantastic deal! If you live in the U.S., that would give this a cost of $19. The coupon is good until July 15, 2016, but if you are like me and put it off, you forget. So – Order yours today.

**There is also a digital download version available. The coupon is NOT good on the download version.**

Coupon Code Hey Mama Planner 2016 2017
At Home.


Find The Old Schoolhouse on social media.
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter @TOSMag, and Google+

Read more Crew reviews from over 100 others who have used the Hey Mama! Planner.

Hey Mama! Schoolhouse Planner 2016-2017 Review Crew Disclaimer

Last Chance for the freebies

You only have through tomorrow, April 30, to grab the freebies that The Old Schoolhouse has allowed me and other bloggers to offer you. The coupon codes will not work after that. So, for your convenience, here is a list of all the bloggers that I know of offering freebies to Review Crew readers. Follow these links to find what you can use, share this post, and don’t miss out!
TOS freebies
What I am offering (you can find the original post here):

Spiritual Growth Bundle – http://www.theoldschoolhouse.com/product/spiritual-growth-bundle/
This bundle includes three e-books: Home Improvement, Homeschooling: A Prayerful Journey, and Don’t Rush God.

Keeping the Garden – http://www.theoldschoolhouse.com/product/keeping-the-garden/
An e-book for the gardener, the gardener wanna-be, or the dreamer.

A set of five WeE-books about alpacas, bugs, hummingbirds, and butterflies.
You will need to have or create an account in order to check-out.
At check-out, use the code


to get these three items for free. This code is good through April 30, 2016.

And here is a listing of the other Review Crew bloggers offering various products to you. Grab their codes from their blogs to receive the discount on what each individual blogger is offering.

Homeschool Review
Castle Academy

Homemaking Organized

Counting Pinecones

Ladybug Daydreams

A Moment in Our World

Carter Chaos

Hopkins Homeschool
Our Worldwide Classroom
Random Acts of Boyhood
There Will be a $5 Charge for Whining
A Glimpse of Normal
Mom’s Plans
Debbie’s Homeschool Corner
Through the Open Window
As We Bloom 
Running With Spears
Little Bits of Life
Homestead Acres
Our Worldwide Classroom
Homeschool Coffeebreak
A Net in Time
Insane in the Mombrain
Barbie Swihart
The Write Balance
Tidbits of Experience


Hope you find lots you can use or grab now to save for the future!

At Home.

5 Days of Homeschool Tips: Change is Good?

change is good

I don’t like change. I like to know what’s coming and how to maneuver through it. I like to have a schedule. I like to know what is expected of me.

BUT . . .

I like to have the flexibility to go with the flow and to do what is best at the moment. I like to make last minute plans. I like to change the order of things. I like to be able to walk away from something that is just not working.

So, maybe I am more of an outline person?

Really, though, change is a good thing. Most people don’t seem to think so. They seem to think that staying the course is what should happen and that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” While that is good advice for a machine or a motor, it isn’t really such good advice for a child.

Every child is different. The approach you take to reading for one child might not be the right avenue to understanding for the next child. Math online might be perfect for child number three but for child number six, you need to be right there working it with them on pencil and paper and restating it a million and a half different ways before the child understands it.

So, while it is fantastic to have a “tried-and-true” method, you really need to be up for change. You just might have to change your teaching style, your curriculum, your time of day, or your setting. You might need to change every single thing for that one child. Or you might not.

That is one of the beautiful things about home education. We can change what we need to for that one child.

One of our children loves math. I mean L O V E S it! She would do only math all day long if she could. She loves pencil and paper and seeing those pages turn with completion. However, what works for her is an absolute no-go for another child. That child needs someone sitting right there with her, checking understanding on most steps that she does until she is entirely – and I do mean entirely – confident that she can do it with no mistakes. So, we have searched and searched until we have found something that works for teaching her. (A combination of a fun book and using printable worksheets that I can pick and choose from. See the book we are using by reading this post. For the worksheets, see the review on Super Teacher Worksheets.)

For learning to read, sight words and just reading books worked well for two of the girls. For the third, she had to grow into it. She could do her sight words with no problem but reading a book was a struggle for her until she was ready. When she was ready, she took off and her reading is very good now. But she didn’t really start reading until she was a good year older than her sisters. And that is okay.

I have to be ready for change because change comes in educating our own children. That is part of why we home educate, is it not? So we can tailor their education to them? So, get ready. Change is coming. And it is good.

At Home.

Previous Posts in this series:
Make Time
Structure vs Flexibility

5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents
Looking for more great ideas and tips? Check out other Review Crew members who are sharing tips all week long. Today, I encourage you to go visit these friends:
Melissa @ Grace Christian School
Michele @ Family, Faith and Fridays
Missica @ Through the Open Window
Monique @ Mountain of Grace Homeschooling
Rebekah @ There Will Be A $5 Charge For Whining
Renita @ Krazy Kuehner Days
Sarah @ Renaissance Mama
Sasha @ Such a Time as This
Tawnee @ Adventures in Homeschooling
Tiffany @ The Crafty Home
Tina @ Desperate Homeschoolers

5 Days of Homeschool Tips: Structure vs Flexibility

structure vs flexibility

I am sure you all have thought about this a lot. I know I have. Am I structured enough? Do I allow too much flexibility? Do I need to ______(fill in the blank)________?

Today is a great example for me of what I wanted to write about flexibility. Here is how our day went.

  • We started out exhausted from having a busy weekend at the Lads to Leaders 2016 National Convention in Grapevine, TX. Late nights + early mornings = really tired, irritable people in our family. (However, it was an amazing weekend. You will be hearing more from me about the awesome convention and all the joy and growth we experienced this year.)
  • I had to wake the girls up to take them to the dentist this morning. We had to be there at 9. I obviously scheduled this without realizing it was the morning after L2L Convention.
  • Frantically, we tried to get breakfast, brush teeth, and get out the door with their appliances for the dentist.
  • Got to the dentist only to realize that we had forgotten one of the aforementioned appliances. (Both Miss E and Miss L are in Perfect Start appliances, a wonderful alternative to traditional braces.) Luckily, At Home Dad was able to bring the appliance to the dentist for us. (We live just a couple of minutes away.)
  • Dentist appointments went well! No cavities. Miss E’s progress in her appliance is great and she’s moving on to the next. Miss L is going back to the habit breaker and will recheck in 6 months. Not the progress we had hoped for but no big deal. Everyone did great and everyone got their teeth fully taken care of!
  • Went back to the house and frantically threw lunches together and headed into town for lunch with the youth minister and other homeschoolers from our church. Got the call halfway there that it had to be rescheduled.
  • Called up the kiddos grandmother and headed to her house to see her.
  • Passing the church we realized one other family hadn’t gotten the reschedule call so we made quick plans to head over to a park and had lunch together.
  • Rescheduled with grandma to let her know we would come back by to visit with her (after we checked out the progress on their kitchen re-do).
  • Sat at the park and had lunch. The kids played and the other mom and I chatted for a couple of hours.
  • Went back to grandma’s and chatted with her for a couple of hours.
  • Then, as we were leaving, I realized I had less than two week until the banquet I am helping with. We had already used most of the day and the kids were still tired from the weekend so not many lessons would take place so we went shopping for supplies for decorating instead.
  • While out, we realized that Miss E needed tennis shoes so we found some of those.
  • Came home and found that we needed to go to the grocery store. Since we were gone all weekend, I had managed to forget that.
  • Pulled out hot dogs for dinner for the kids and made some rice for me. Simple and not too unhealthy.
  • Read the biography from YWAM that we are working on – Clara Barton – while the kids ate.
  • Listened to Heirloom Audio’s The Dragon and the Raven after dinner.
  • As we were getting ready for bed, we topped off the day by realizing that Miss J’s strep rash appears to be coming back. So, we may be making more doctor visits tomorrow. Again. Sigh.

Want to know our original plan for the day? School lessons in the morning, lunch at the church, and a couple hours at the park with the family we went with today.

When you look at this, what do you see?

structure or flexibility

Do you see the mess of two colors mixing together? Do you see some structure to the way the two colors are interacting? Do you see something done on purpose or do you see something accidental? All of those are correct! Life, like this work of art by Miss J, depends on how you view it.

Don’t worry! The kiddos are learning every day and in every setting. Whether we are guiding that learning or they are using their senses, something is being given to that brain because you are training them to observe and gain insight from what they see and hear. Tomorrow is a new day. And more structured lessons can happen then. Today, well, it was one adjustment after another and that is okay. We’ll jump back on the bandwagon tomorrow.

But today wasn’t a total washout. Not only did we read some on the biography we are working on and listen to a history lesson, there was time encouraging another family and fellowshipping with them and being encouraged ourselves. Every day contains some learning whether we are guiding it or not. Teaching the children to recognize that and learning to recognize that ourselves is really important.

So embrace the flexibility that is needed when days come that just don’t go as planned. Your structure is just fine and is good for your family in whatever way you have set it up. But don’t beat yourself up about a day that doesn’t go as planned. Life happens and it teaches us lessons about love and consideration that are more important than anything in a textbook.

At Home.


5 Days of Tips for Homeschool ParentsAs with other Review Crew blog hops I have participated in, I encourage you to go check out my friends who are participating. There are about 50 of us and I’m sharing 10 of my friends’ links with you each day. So please go read about the tips these others have to share with you. Click on the image to be taken to a list of all participants or click below to go to the blogs of each of these friends.
Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break
Latonya @ Joy in the Ordinary
Laura @ Day by Day in Our World
Leah @ As We Walk Along the Road
Lisa @ Farm Fresh Adventures
Meg @ Adventures with Jude
Megan @ My Full Heart
Melanie (Wren) @ finchnwren
Melissa @ Mom’s Plans

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