The Miracle That Brought Me Home No ratings yet.

The Miracle that Brought Me Home

The miracle that brought me home is one I don’t share a ton, but is one of the most amazing things that’s ever happened to me.

I never thought it would happen, but then it did: the amazing God-breathed miracle that brought me home to my babies.

Hello, Motherhood

The moment they laid my baby in my arms, I was toast.

How could I leave this little miracle?

How could I have ever said that teaching would be what I wanted to do after he was born?

I had no idea how I would feel, and I was officially stuck.

My husband sadly said there was no way we could swing my being a stay-at-home-mom.

Financially we’d solidly built our life to be a two-income home.

I Prayed

I knew I could trust the LORD to bring me home.

I’m not even going to pretend for a second that I didn’t have doubts, but I prayed.

A lot.

The years kept passing by.

The Deal

I asked my husband if he thought I could come home again.

I asked every year since my oldest was born.

Fast forward five years later.

I asked again.

He said there was no way, and that he really needed me to stop asking.

This just wasn’t going to happen for us.

And, he admitted, every time I asked, it hurt him to say no.

So, I promised that I wouldn’t ask him ever again.

Halfway through Year 6

I sat at the end of my driveway about to pull away from my home for yet another time.

To look back at their dark bedroom windows knowing all I’d miss again.

I couldn’t bring myself to push the gas pedal.

I went to pray like I always did, but this time I was mad.

God! You know this hurts me! God, you can fix this. You can stop this pain. Please, God. Stop this pain. I can’t do it anymore. I can’t do it without you, and I cannot keep living like this. It’s breaking me, LORD. You made me like this. I wanted to teach. You made me this mother; God! Please bring me home! I’m out. I’m sick of trying to fix our budget and make extra on the side and do everything I can to provide for myself. I clearly can’t do it, so it’s Yours. I give it to You. I’m out!”

All the way to school I cried my eyes out, which was nothing new.

I dried up my tears, and taught until I finally came home for Christmas break.

I couldn’t even get too excited for Christmas because I knew after two weeks I’d be ripped away from my home again.

Where my heart belonged.

Where I belonged.

My Own Christmas Miracle

For some reason, as we sat in the basement wrapping Christmas gifts, I felt an inward nudge. A push to ask if I could come home.

No. I’d promised.

I felt that it again.

“Baaaabe?”

So I told him I didn’t really want to ask, but for some reason felt like I had to.

I apologized profusely, but said I just have this weird feeling I need to ask one more time.

“Can I come home after this school year?”

“Yes.”

“What?”

“Yes.”

“You know this isn’t funny to me. Are you serious?”

“Yes.”

“Why are you saying this?”

“I don’t know. I just know we can do it. You can come home. Yes.”

Home With My Babies

I don’t know why the Lord kept me teaching six years, and I don’t need to know.

What I do know is that every day with these boys is a dream.

Every single day we learn and laugh and play.

I even fold every tiny little inside out piece of clothing with a big fat smile on my face.

Sometimes I just break down with tears of joy over how my Father works.

Would I be as grateful if I’d gotten all I wanted six years before?

I wish I could say yes, but maybe not.

So, I’ll stop writing now.

My seven-year-old is snuggled up next to me reading a book, and I’d like to praise God for His perfect ways and see what this little bug is doing.

I never thought it would happen, but then it did: the amazing God-breathed miracle that brought me home to my babies.

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Guiding Reluctant Readers (with Book Suggestions) No ratings yet.

Getting Reluctant Readers Loving Books

While your child may be one of the reluctant readers, remember that we were created to love a story.

This means there’s hope for your sweet child, friend!

We know reading matters because it works our brain, keeping it active and sharp.

It also helps in literally every other form of learning, so it’s a crucial part of education.

In a lot of ways, schools today aren’t set up for lifelong readers.

But that’s okay because with a few ideas I’ll share here, you’ll be able to fix that in no time.

Lead by Example

What if, as the parent, you’re not a reader?

I’d like to say that’s okay, and in some ways it is, but then again…monkey see monkey do is a real thing.

What would you like to learn more about?

What kinds of movies do you tend to enjoy?

Get to the Library

Head to the library with your child and let them see your vulnerability with the librarian.

Show your child how you’ll go about adding in reading to your life. It will go a long way, I promise.

What if you’re reading all the time and your child could care less?

First, let me say you’re on the right track. Keep it up. Openly read in the same space where they are.

Talk to them about what you’re enjoying or learning in your current read.

Reading is meant to be social, so bringing them into your world will be huge for their budding desire to read.

Read to Them

No matter their age, read aloud.

My boys were read to from the womb, but their ornery little selves would’ve rather body slammed each other most of the time.

This former Reading teacher’s heart was broken.

How couldn’t they love it like me?

Mama Took Action!

I started reading books with adventure and ones that were funny right there in the middle of their play.

They acted like they weren’t listening, but over time guess what happened?

Little bottoms scooted in close. Snuggles happened.

They started to love stories.

If you’re wondering if I felt like a lunatic reading aloud to the air at first, yes. Yes, I did.

But it was totally worth it.

Encourage Ownership

Creating your child’s bedroom home library is huge.

They can set up a little bookshelf in a special space, and they are now owners of books!

This is one reason why I love doing the book trail to the tree at Christmas.

Our boys get most of their books from the library, but they have special books in their rooms and they read them over and over and over again!

Leave Books Open Where they Eat

If your kids are like mine, they’re non-stop.

Eating is the only stopping point.

So, with the suggestion from a friend, I left picture books open to the most exciting pages on the table.

It wasn’t but minutes until they were pushing the book toward me asking me to tell them what was going on in the fun pictures.

Pick Fun Books

To my chagrin, my boys could’ve cared less about Laura Ingalls Wilder.

They didn’t want to hear the stories I was excited to read to them…yet.

I had to look hard for things that interested them, but with one caveat: it had to have a good plot.

Look, no one wants to listen to a story if it doesn’t have some twists and turns. It’s just the way we’re made.

Some books that got their interest right away are still our favorites to reread today.

  1. The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors by Drew Daywalt

This book cracks me up. My kids, too. Even my husband, who prefers to read about his Ohio State Buckeye solely can get into this one. Heads up: your reluctant readers may start calling you a fuzzy little butt. You’ve been warned.

Solid action steps to take with reluctant readers and plenty of book suggestions to get your child on the way to loving books!
https://amzn.to/3plnorM

2. Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin

The silliness of this one gave us inside jokes about “tummy troubles,” and I never knew if, during a dinner of tacos, one kid would bite into a spicy taco and set the house ablaze.

There’s also a sequel to this one, which builds excitement for reading, a key to lifelong love of stories!

If your family likes these books, you’ll also like the other books by Adam Rubin like Those Darn Squirrels (and sequels) and Robosauce!

Solid action steps to take with reluctant readers and plenty of book suggestions to get your child on the way to loving books!
https://amzn.to/3mQgWHO

3. Dog Man by Dave Pilkey

I vividly remember laughing out loud along with my seven-year-old on the very first page of this book.

That was it. He was hooked.

If your new or reluctant readers love graphic novels, take heart.

It’s a story. It’s text. I may not be the next great American novel, but they’re doing it.

They’re feeling successful.

It matters! Encourage it!

Don’t Stop Here!

This is a series, which was the best of all. Once he had the first one, we were right back at the library grabbing the next one just like it.

This gave me the opportunity to show him other graphic novels like Lunch Lady.

It wasn’t too long (maybe a year?) until those graphic novels weren’t quite enough.

He realized he’d get more meat from a deeper novel.

Solid action steps to take with reluctant readers and plenty of book suggestions to get your child on the way to loving books!
https://amzn.to/37PQjyc

4. Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl

A smaller read aloud with pictures every few pages will be a great step up from the graphic novels.

Please don’t discredit pictures in books.

Until our children can solidify their visualization skills, books with pictures are so helpful to keep interest .

How to Use the Pictures

Use these pictures to your benefit!

Let them look over the picture. Notice things about them alongside your child. Show them you like pictures, too and add in how they’re helping you understand the story.

Fantastic Mr. Fox is a great one because it’s got lots of twists and turns and your child will also be able to feel emotion for a main character.

Roald Dahl is a great one, too because you’ll be able to read other famous books of his like The Witches and James and the Giant Peach.

You can talk about how the same author shows his special author’s craft throughout his books and bonus fun: they’ve got movies!

Solid action steps to take with reluctant readers and plenty of book suggestions to get your child on the way to loving books!
https://amzn.to/3aJhuwv

5. The Prince Warriors by Priscilla Shirer

When your former reluctant readers are ready to tackle his or her own book, Priscilla Shirer writes a book series that my son couldn’t put down.

Better yet, he was pushing them on me the second he’d finish, and held me accountable big time!

“Mama, I’m half way through the second one. Are you almost done with the first?”

He shared this book series with his best buddy (who also loved them), and he was off and running.

Solid action steps to take with reluctant readers and plenty of book suggestions to get your child on the way to loving books!
https://amzn.to/3aRKfHH

In the End

We worked so hard for it.

A full-blown, book-loving kid.

Who still plays the heck out of Minecraft and climbs trees and splashes in creeks.

Whose math, social studies, and science skills improved because of the gradual years of gently guiding him into the love of reading.

Solid action steps to take with reluctant readers and plenty of book suggestions to get your child on the way to loving books!

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Why You Should Do a Book Trail Christmas Morning No ratings yet.

What’s a Book Trail?

I got the idea of a book trail from my friend years ago, and it’s been a hit ever since!

A book trail is a line of books going from your child’s bedroom leading them to the tree Christmas morning.

Here's why your family will love and should incorporate a book trail to your Christmas morning festivities!

Why do One?

Building your home’s library is key to your child’s education.

The journal Research in Social Stratification and Mobility stated that, “Growing up in a home with 500 books would propel a child 3.2 years further in education, on average, than would growing up in a similar home with few or no books.”

The excitement of Christmas morning puts books in a fun light.

Where reading can quickly grow to be a chore with the frustration that can tag along with homework and learning to read, these books are special and chosen especially for your child.

What Books Should You Get?

Books of high interest.

Too often when I taught, I had sad conversations with my 8th graders’ parents about how they once loved reading but lost it somehow.

Then they’d tell me that not only did their child hate reading, but he also refused to read books at “his level.”

Let’s look at these Christmas books a little differently.

These tree trail picks are the fun books.

The who cares what “level” I’m at choices.

They’ll get there, friend, but first we have to draw them in.

Open their eyes to the wonderful world they can find between the pages of a book that speaks to them.

In fact, I’d even argue we can nudge your child toward his or her “level” while keeping interest high!

Where to Get Good Quality Books

We like Usborne books because they’re easy to browse for the kinds of books we like.

Our boys are really into adventure, dogs, and inventing right now, and Usborne has it all!

I especially love this for the tree’s trail of books because I can find SO MANY for around $5 that have been super popular with our kids!

You can click here to go directly to their site.

Final Thoughts

I’d love to hear all about how the trail goes for your family if you choose to do one this year!

What books have your children loved?

Here's why your family will love and should incorporate a book trail to your Christmas morning festivities!

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Top 10 Christmas Gifts Our Kids Have LOVED 2020 No ratings yet.

Let’s end the craziest year with some ideas for under the tree. These are the top 10 Christmas gifts our kids have loved 2020 style!

Electric Scooter

This Mongoose Electric Scooter is only $85, which was great for kids at an age where they don’t always take the best care of their outdoor toys.

LEGO Minecraft

I don’t know about your kids, but mine are obsessed with Minecraft, so this LEGO set was perfect for a Christmas morning build! $32

Chinese YoYo

Have you seen what these things can do?! Our kids are excited to learn how to play with this Chinese YoYo. $12.99

Unicorn Pillow Kit

After seeing my niece’s reaction to this Unicorn Pillow Kit, I’ve got to suggest it for this Christmas! $24.95

Pogo Stick

The one toy my kids played with at friends’ homes this year over and again was a pogo stick. Thankfully I found this one for a reasonable price! $52.99

Throw Throw Burrito Dodgeball Game

I could just imagine us throwing these at each other and the laughter and fun memories we’ll make, so I scooped up Throw Throw Burrito for under the tree. $24.99

Balance Board

I’ve got one wiggly homeschooler, and another who is a kinesthetic learner. I figured this balance board could be especially useful in our home and even double as a workout for Mama! $21.99

Mini Retro Arcade

This mini retro arcade has been the kids’ favorite this past year! It has made long car rides a cinch! $28.88

Make Your Own Markers Set

This Marker Design Studio set is going to be a favorite this year. They’ve been asking for it most of the year! $14.99

Green Machine

Our kids think this thing is the BEST! I would’ve never thought a trike like the Green Machine would be so popular with kids this age, but here we are! $200

Merry Christmas!

I hope this roundup will be useful to you!

What did you get for your kids that you’re really excited for them to receive?

Top 10 Christmas Gifts Our Kids Have Loved 2020

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PreK-3 Watermelon Lesson Plans Bundle! No ratings yet.

PreK-3 Watermelon Lesson Plans Bundle!

Fun Watermelon Lesson Plans!

These fun watermelon lesson plans are great for ages preK-3.

What’s Included?

With this download, you’ll get number practice, a fun game, coloring options, printing practice, graphing practice, measuring, story telling, life cycle, and compare/contrast!

You can scroll through what’s all included on Instagram @homeschoolforhigher first if you’d like a preview!

Extensions

There are many mini-lessons you can choose to do as you read this anchor text.

Choose one at a time, and don’t be afraid to read and re-read again and again seeing the book from different angles.

2nd and 3rd Grade Extension

You can add in your own mini-lesson on alliteration if you’d like, since the anchor text is full of it!

Here’s all you need to know:

Alliteration is repeating the same consonant sound to create a certain sound in writing.

This can be to provoke feeling, help the reader imagine the story (imagery), or just to be fun and sound cool!

The examples of alliteration in Peter Spit a Seed at Sue are as follows:

  • spit a seed at Sue
  • Susie spit
  • pepper Pete
  • splatter Sue
  • zippin’ zingin’
  • buzzed….like bees
  • steely stare

Alliteration game: We play this little game, my boys love, and it would be so fun with your child’s new alliteration knowledge.

We tell a story that always starts with, “Once upon a time…” however we only get to say one word each back and forth so we never know where the story will go.

Try to mix it up with your alliteration mini-lesson trying to fit in as many pieces of this literary device that you can.

This game has gotten us so tickled before, and we love it!

PreK-1 Extension

This book is amazing for teaching rhyme!

Why?

It rhymes all the time!

As you walk through the read aloud part of the book, explain what rhyming is.

Let your child know it’s a part of an author’s super powers to help the reader enjoy this book.

It gives this story a certain sound that’s unlike books without rhyme. Not better or worse. Just different.

Give your child a few examples of the rhyme you see in the book then have them make a silly sound or raise their hands when they hear another rhyme.

We like to play a little game called, “I love you more than…” to learn rhyme in our homeschool.

It’s so silly and fun, your child will love it!

We’ve put it to a little tune and sing, “I love you more than pie!”

Then the child says, “I love you more than flies!”

Then mama says, “I love you more than eyes!”

And the game continues until you are cracking up and just can’t think of anything else or you change the word to keep on rhyming!

My youngest especially like to do this before bed as he snuggles me in his patented headlock.

Enjoy AND SHARE!!

I hope this bundle gets you outside in the fresh air zippin’ and zingin’ watermelon seeds and making memories that last a lifetime!

Please tag @homeschoolforhigher as you document your memories on Instagram!

Watermelon Lesson Plans Bundle PreK-3

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Middle School Book List FREE DOWNLOAD No ratings yet.

Middle School Book List
FREE DOWNLOAD: middle school book list

Middle School Book List

One struggle parents had every year I taught was where to get a book list for their teen.

They’re at such a different and unique age.

This age range needs more in-depth books than elementary offered.

They need less mature books than high school requires.

So where do you start?

For these reasons, this was such a joy for me to put together for you!

I loved teaching 8th grade Language Arts.

The kids were amazing, and the stack of great reads on my desk were always an ever-expanding tower each year.

Some of the best books I’ve ever read only fell into my possession because a middle school student put it on my desk with a note: read me.

FREEBIE!!

Enjoy this free download!

I was careful to put in a good mixture of books based on what my students chose to conference with me about each year.

These are the books that flew off the shelves and the ones they spoke to each other about naturally.

They’re also the books that didn’t dip into the immature/childish feel.

Both boys and girls will enjoy this list.

Take a second to click on the links for the books that sound interesting.

Some of the books deal with some more serious topics my students found themselves facing.

Some share challenges of being a teen coming of age during a difficult time in history.

Whatever the topic, it’s always best for you to be able to dig in and choose what’s best for your teen with such a wide range of emotions, maturity levels, and understanding in this grade range.

Click “Shop Now” below to add it to your cart.

Then check out when you’re finished, and enjoy the simple links that take you right to each book.

Which Reads??

Drop a comment below to let me know which books interest you most.

Which do you see on the list that your child has already enjoyed?

HAS#TAG YOUR READS!

Don’t forget to capture the moment!

Grab a pic of your teen with their favorite book from this list and #homeschoolforhigher on Instagram.

I’d love so much if you’d tag me @homeschoolforhigher, so I can see your sweet family enjoying this list, too and feature you in my stories!

Enjoy!!

FREE DOWNLOAD: middle school book list

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91 Sight Words for Kindergarten + 10 Games No ratings yet.

Learning sight words with games and downloadable sight words!

Sight Words + Whole Language

While I firmly believe sight words are not the entirety of how to teach a child to read, it’s definitely a big part of it.

Whole language, simply put, means teaching sight words and giving children choice in their reading.

They also need phonics (the sounding out of words and letter blends), but whole language will help build their confidence.

The Flashcards Printable (91 sight words to last all year!)

Head over to the “Shop” tab above, and download your file or click below!

Each card is about the size of a post card, and I suggest only printing a few off at a time.

I also love the idea of laminating them to extend the life of your purchase.

Here’s a good laminator option if you don’t have one at home.

It’s one of the best investments for homeschool for this very reason.

I like this thermal paper as others tend to curl up at the ends.

Sight Words Games to Play

Tic-Tac-Toe

  • Print copies of words your child is struggling to memorize. Create your board with sidewalk chalk, on a chalkboard, or with painter’s tape on the floor. You can also have your child trace over the word with his/her finger to help.

Target Practice

  • Print a few words your child is working on, and draw out or tape out a target somewhere safe. Let them shoot at the target with a Nerf gun or even water balloons!

Hopscotch

  • Print the words your child is working on, and lay them inside a drawn hopscotch board or a mat like this one. Roll a rock. Wherever the rock lands, they have to pick up the sight word and say it before finishing the board.

Charades

  • Hold the card up in front of you where you can’t see but the child can. Have him/her act out or draw what’s on the card for you to guess. If you want to add a challenge, put a two minute timer on and add up the points you get with each card you’re able to guess. These mini-white boards can be helpful with this game as well as many other times as you school.

Memory

  • Print doubles of the words your child is working toward mastering. Flip them over and play a game of memory with them. Make sure anyone playing says the words aloud when flipping them over.

Slap the Fly

  • Get a new flyswatter. This one that looks like a hand is super fun and comes in different colors! You can use this flyswatter game for lots of things, so they’ll come in “handy!”

Tape the sight words your child is working on in a location where he/she will have room to slap with the flyswatter.

Want to work in a pair of dice and have your child do addition to make it cross-curricular? Or one single die to work on counting the dots?

They can get as many points as the die shows for getting the word right. If they’re a little competitive like my boys, they’ll also enjoy if you hang a few up a little higher so they have to jump to swat the “flies!”

Giant Floor Game

  • Print and laminate as many sight words as you’d like. Lay them out in an open space in swirls, with toys they have to jump over, towels pretending to be lava or instruments they have to play in addition to it.

Be as creative as you can be while co-creating the game board with your child to add to the fun of playing it.

Then, roll the dice. These giant foam dice are super fun for this game and many others! Each space you land on, do that activity or say the sight word. The sillier the better!

Red Light/ Green Light

  • Play your normal game of red light/green light, but when they hit a red light, they read the sight word at each “stop.”

Sight Word, Sight Word, GOOSE!

  • If you have multiple children to play, this is a fun game. Each child holds a sight word on top of his/her head. The one who goes around tapping the words when he/she reads them. He/she shouts, “GOOSE!” when he’s ready to choose the child who’ll run toward grabbing his seat before getting tagged.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Each time we add fun and movement to school, our children win.

As you see, it doesn’t even have to be expensive or complicated to add in a little adventure and laughter into your school day.

Enjoy making those memories!

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Can I REALLY Homeschool? No ratings yet.

Can I really do this? 

Should I homeschool? 

Here are three simple ways to help you decide.

1.) Pray About it

When I was feeling an inward nudge to homeschool, I pushed it away. 

How I wish I would’ve prayed from the start!

Once I finally dug into fervent prayer, so many things happened to let me know this was for me. 

I really love this video from Rick Warren about discerning the voice of God. 

2.) Take your home life into consideration.

It only takes a few hours out of your day to homeschool. 

Both working parents and stay-at-home parents do it successfully. 

Small homes and large homes both hold school beautifully. 

The questions you need to ask are:

  • Would this add to an already upturned life causing strife? 
  • Would it settle your family into a more relaxed and enjoyable life?

3.)  Do I have trusted resources? 

It provides information on how to notify your state, how to advance grade levels, and other groups to join in your area.

It’s also a place to connect and ask questions, which can be wonderful, especially when you’re just getting your feet wet.

  • I just started an Instagram account @homeschoolforhigher if you’d like to follow our family’s journey, have read alouds for your kids, mini-lessons, and more free resources.
  • Curriculum can seem overwhelming, but it can actually be quite simple. 

Our family likes The Good and the Beautiful best, but you could choose any you’d like.

Choosing one curriculum to start if you’re feeling overwhelmed can make things easier, too. 

If you’re ready to dig deeper, try this book site

FINAL THOUGHTS

I can’t express enough how important these three are in preparation for homeschool.

Can I pray for you in any specific way in your homeschool journey?

What did you find  was most helpful in the beginning? 

If you’re just getting started, what do you feel like you still need to know? 

Let’s chat in the comments below! I’d love to hear all about your homeschooling, wherever you are in the process!

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How to EASILY Add Bible Study to Your School Day No ratings yet.

How to Easily Add Bible Study into your School Day
How to EASILY add Bible study to your school day.

How to EASILY Add Bible Study to Your School Day

How to easily add Bible Study to your school day is super important!

I’d love to share with you how we build it into our daily routine.

Magic Cabin

Morning Meeting

When the boys (8 and 6) are ready for the day, we sit in our little corner of the play/school room together.

We open our meeting (and school day) with prayer.

The following is our Morning Meeting agenda.

1.Prayer

One of us picks the opening, another the middle, and finally who will close us.

And we pray.

We pray for others, for our day, and we give heaps of thanks.

2. Store Scripture in Our Heart

We have the app “Fighter Verses,” which our church uses to memorize scripture.

I put the verse on a whiteboard we have hanging in the school room.

We listen to the song a few times, reading along with the whiteboard each day until we memorize it.

3. Bible Study

A simple study that’s doable and keeps your kids’ attention helps.

Right now we are using two different studies.

4. Bible Journaling

In school, we have children write about their learning so they can synthesize and show deeper understanding.

In this same line of thought, we searched for a way to add Bible journaling to our daily routine.

This free printable is our new favorite.

It was simple to modify for our home’s two very different ability levels.

Our eight-year-old wrote on his own.

Our six-year-old started with answering aloud.

I helped him spell out his thinking in the fewest words possible to minimize frustration in this early stage of writing.

Another modification we do for the longer answering spot at the bottom, is to have our younger son draw his answer.

Final Thoughts

While this morning meeting is also a time to look ahead at the day’s agenda, our main focus is meeting with Jesus and studying the Living Word.

My hope is to teach this early, so as grown men they will start their day this way.

This is the kind of leaders of the home, sons of God, and citizens I pray our little meetings create in the long run.

Neue kultige aden + anais x Harry Potter™ Kollektion
How to EASILY Add Bible Study to Your School Day

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Free Family Resources for Sanity During COVID-19 No ratings yet.

Free Family Resources for Sanity During COVID19
These free family resources and sanity tips for your time out of school and at home together during COVID-19 are simple and super helpful.

Free Family Resources for Sanity During COVID-19

As a former public school teacher and now homeschool mom, I’d love to share some free family resources for sanity during COVID-19.

I believe these will be super helpful in breaking up your day as well as helping you all enjoy this time together.

1.Your Home Won’t Be a Mini-Public School

It can’t be.

So, when your kids are done with their packets hours before the normal 7 hours they’d typically spend at school, don’t panic.

You’d be shocked at how much time is lost in a school day to transitions, waiting for other kids to finish, lecture, questions, bathroom breaks, lunch, recess, interruptions, packing up for classes/ end of the day, and more.

You don’t have to worry they’ll backslide as long as you’re reading, writing, and practicing math every day (like you’re used to in summer and on breaks in small bits).

However, those seven hours can feel long, especially with siblings who aren’t used to being together all day.

To break up the day and enhance their learning experience, here are some links you can use for free:

FREE Resources for Kids Home During COVID-19

2.A Quick Morning Meeting will Save Your Day

Our boys get ready for the day and make their beds then have breakfast as their morning routine.

It’s that first sense of accomplishment that prepares us for the day.

We then have a “morning meeting,” to do Bible study, pray, and have a quick briefing on how the day will go.

Here they can know when they can expect screen time.

They can also ask any questions they might have.

Please don’t make the same mistake I did when I began homeschool and do a hard and fast schedule.

It likely won’t stick, especially with littles.

Then you’ll be left feeling frustrated, they’ll be defeated, and it just doesn’t have to be that hard.

It’s okay if they learn without a strict structure because each kid’s work is different and requires different timing.

Roll with it. I promise. You’ll be glad you did.

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3.Breaks will Keep You Sane

Remember…in school they get breaks.

Taking some time to play, take a walk, or even setting a timer to let them do whatever they want for 20-30 minutes every hour will keep everyone happier!

4.When it’s NOON and They’re Done

When school is over before noon, and you’re wondering how to keep the kids (and you) from losing it, here are some things that don’t exactly look like learning but are actually really working your kids’ brains a TON:

  • playing, especially outside (we LOVE this Flying Squirrel!)
  • baking
  • playing games (here are our favorites!)
  • listening to music new and old
  • drawing (SO many step-by-steps on YouTube)
  • snuggling up and watching one of the TONS of educational and amazing things on Netflix for learning
  • watch a musical
  • check out a nature documentary
  • coloring
  • climbing trees
  • jumping on the trampoline
  • making up a song
  • playing pretend with a sibling
  • just doing something they are passionate about
  • learning a new skill
  • FaceTiming friends
  • going for a hike at a local park
  • going for a scavenger hunt

5.Asking What THEY Want to Learn

They may not know what to do with this question since it’s not how regular school works, but you may be surprised at how this pans out.

Take paper (butcher works great) and tape it to the wall for each kid.

Have them write or draw something they’ve always wondered, wanted to know, or had an itch to learn.

THEN allow them, within the budget, of course, the ability to search, learn, try, and FAIL then try again.

The biggest way to make sure they succeed in this learning is to quite frankly…butt out.

Let them make royal mistakes, even if they’re obvious.

That’s learning, my friend! You and I do it every day!

See yourself as a mentor not a teacher who has all the answers.

The boys never cease to amaze me during personal project time. Enjoy!

Final Thoughts

I know this is stressful for those who aren’t used to it.

Especially for those who are yet to be excused from work while your children are at home or with someone that’s out of the ordinary.

Praying comfort and joy through this knowing it’s only temporary.

We can make this into a memory our families might even look back on a fun time!

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These free family resources and sanity tips for your time out of school and at home together during COVID-19 are simple and super helpful.

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How the Title “Gifted” is Hurting ALL Children No ratings yet.

How the Title Gifted is Hurting All Children
How the title "gifted" is hurting all children within our school system, and what we as leaders within the classroom can do about it.

How the Title “Gifted” is Hurting ALL Children

As a former “gifted” educator, I didn’t see it at first.

I’d say it was hard to understand how the title of “gifted” could be hurting children.

It’s only when you’re knee-deep in living it out that you realize the damage it does.

Incorrect Usage

When children are called “gifted,” it neglects every child not excelling in the four core classes.

We use this word incorrectly and in a way that is beyond limiting.

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace… “1 Peter 4:10

Setting apart a small group of the whole population as smarter than the others lies to our children.

We are setting them up, yes, all of them, for failure.

“Non-Gifted” Effects

Those that don’t brandish the “gifted” label cannot be tricked into believing they’re in the same classes as everyone else.

For some reason there was an odd belief going along with tracking.

That if we didn’t tell them we’d separated them by ability, they’d never know.

They would be able to flourish under any condition.

The truth we actually see developing within the classroom is the complete opposite.

Why even try if you’re already in the “dumb” classes?

Why put forth effort if you’re already labeled as the ones who’ll never get it?

That’s a feeling that permeates like a disease at a lightening-fast pace within these “lower ability” classrooms.

Soon the “low” or “regular” classes start to verbalize their inability to “do school.”

And what have we given them to believe they’re worthy of the “good” education like the others are clearly getting?

“Gifted” Effects

I think it’s worth repeating:

“Gifted” in schools only means these children are gifted in one or more of four areas.

Those children are then placed in gifted classes across the board unless their parents pull them.

But why would a parent take their kid from a gifted class?

There’s entitlement and a belief their child is now in the group of “good kids,” and on the better path.

Why wouldn’t they believe the school’s gifted letter to be anything but truth?

Another huge issue, at least in our state, is the rule “once gifted, always gifted.”

This mindset creates elitism.

It also has stopped growth.

Why try if you’ve already been deemed the smartest?

What can my school give to me if I’ve already got it?

“Gifted” children are positioned for disastrous outcomes because of this fixed mindset.

When told they’re “good” at school, they don’t know how to handle anything that requires deep thinking.

We set them up to believe they don’t need to learn in school.

In the 8th grade, some of my gifted students were harming themselves.

Why?

Because they couldn’t perform like they did when they were tested “gifted” in the second grade.

What If…

What if all abilities were in one classroom?

Where all students were told they could learn anything and that all human beings learn at different paces naturally?

How about we include into curriculum some ways to add in other gifts?

When do all students get to add to the ecosystem of their classrooms?

When do all student gifts and voices matter?

What if we designed learning to look more like the children it’s meant for and less like the decision makers?

New Language

We must adopt a different language as teachers first and then with our students.

First, we must tell ourselves that school as we know it simply isn’t working, but that doesn’t mean it can’t.

We have to remember we have much power within the walls of our own classrooms.

Learn. Grow. Apply. Change.

Then, what words can we use with students to approve of their hard work, dedication, no-quit attitude, and overcoming?

How do we speak about areas where they need to work harder?

Team up to push forward?

Dig in with the grit it takes to learn something new?

What if our language within the classroom normalized learning instead of having it or not?

And what if our actions told a different story than, “You’re not smart enough for this room. Head on down the hall”?

Deconstruct to Reconstruct

Let’s take off the labels.

Stop the ridiculous “gifted” letters.

Teach based on children’s needs and what they can learn.

Then, we’ll have students who are able to understand instead of cram for tests.

We’d have life-long learners instead of bubble-fillers.

We’d have citizens who know they’ve all been blessed with a gift.

Even if they can’t get a grade for it.

What if we told students with our words and our actions that their God-given gift matters to this world?

That they matter and are worthy of learning?

Final Thoughts

I don’t have all the answers, but it’s a place to start.

Treat teachers like the educated leaders they are.

Talk to all children as though they’re able.

Show students we actually believe because our actions show it.

Then we can focus on learning.

There will always be outliers in these scenarios and homes we cannot change.

However, within the power schools do have, a growth-mindset is key.

Because of this, gifted classes are anything but helpful to all children.

What do you think could make our schools serve the children in them better?

Do you work for a school, or are you a teacher working hard to be growth-minded within your group of children?

Has your school turned away from labeling? If so, how has it worked?

I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

How the title "gifted" is hurting all children within our school system, and what we as leaders within the classroom can do about it.

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A Homeschool Kindergarten Curriculum No ratings yet.

A Kindergarten Homeschool curriculum focusing on laid-back, kid-centered lessons that makes room for both books and hands-on experiences.
A Kindergarten Homeschool curriculum focusing on laid-back, kid-centered lessons that makes room for both books and hands-on experiences.

Kindergarten Curriculum

With more schools heading toward full-day kindergarten, I cringe.

As a former public school educator and a mother of two, I cannot ever get on board with this.

For the love of all things childhood, this is one big reason why we adore homeschool (even on our rough days).

You’ll see this shine through (hopefully!) in my curriculum choices for our Kindergartener.

Schedule

First, you should know we have a more relaxed schedule I modeled after my time student teaching.

You can learn more about it here.

So keep in mind that we aren’t doing every one of these every single day.

Also, please know that we don’t use these books every day.

It leans much more into my six-year-old child’s natural physicality to do games and to be flexible with my teaching style.

History

It was really hard to find a Kindergarten History curriculum!

Bede’s History of ME is a timeline made to only be one very short lesson once/week.

It’s a winner in our book.

Fun, quick (maybe 20 minutes tops?), and informative, this usually leads to my son asking lots of questions and digging deeper into his learning.

Science

While we learn much more with hands-on ideas and experiments I grab from Pinterest, I did get a Science textbook this year.

While we do teach Christian curriculum for the most part, I decided to go with Pearson’s Kindergarten Consumable Science textbook.

We like that it goes along with the 3rd grade version in most cases.

This means he and his older brother can learn together easier, and it’s more fun for them.

The 3rd grade book also comes with lab ideas that my six-year-old will do to expand upon the Kindergarten book that I just couldn’t find in any other curriculum out there.

Handwriting

Handwriting Without Tears has been there for us since my third grader was in Kindergarten.

It’s such an amazing book series to continually practice handwriting just a few minutes at at time.

Spelling

We don’t have a traditional curriculum for Spelling, but he learns a ton of spelling words with our Words Their Way book.

I happened to find the one we’re using in an antique store where homeschool moms drop off all of their old stuff they didn’t use, so I linked the one my former first-grade teacher friend suggested I get for Kindergarten. It’s the more updated version.

Learning to Read

I’m a huge believer in Reader’s and Writer’s Workshop right from the start.

I believe with my whole heart that reading often throughout every day with your child is the best way to teach him/her a multitude of things about life, language, and how to read.

As far as curriculum goes, we’ve used both Bob Books as well as Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.

I like how both approach reading with a whole language and phonics-based approach.

I fully believe we cannot use only sight words and expect children to read.

Nor can we expect excitement and drive to learn when they have to painfully sound out every single word.

These resources have been great tools paired with Workshop, and I’m watching my little reader grow every day!

Writing

Writing in Kindergarten, from my small experience, has to be driven by learning and choice.

I want the beginning of his craft to be steeped in excitement right from the start.

This is why I ask him every couple weeks when we head back to the library for another huge haul what he’d like to learn.

He’s written books on spiders, the ocean, and about trips we’ve taken as a family to name a few.

We write one small page per day on paper like this or in books like this.

All in an effort to continue Reader’s and Writer’s Workshop since I have a strong belief that this way of teaching is huge in developing lifelong writers and readers.

Math

Math is done with lots of manipulative pieces like these tangrams, Unifix Cubes, and games like Rubbish!

We also have a Math book from Lifepac. The books linked are a set.

Lifepac is a company we enjoy because they’re Christian-based, and they have a placement test on their website to help you fit your child.

The very best part is that each of their grades (other than Kindergarten) comes in a set of 10 books labeled.

For example in first grade, 101 is for the first book in the series, 102 for the second, and so on.

Their placement test is sectioned to reflect the material in each book.

This was especially helpful for my third grader, who needed only a few fourth grade math books before moving into the fifth grade series as a whole.

Bible

Right now we’re working through a little Bible study book called 13 Stories Jesus Told and Why He Told Them together in our morning meetings along with prayer and our current read aloud.

The boys love this Bible Study because it’s set up to have fun activities, a story from the Bible, and a practical application piece.

We highly recommend it.

Outside Play!

Can I just add this in because it’s a huge part of my belief system as an educator?

Play matters!

Especially when they’re little.

Never feel bad about their little developing brains taking lots of breaks to play, climb, run, and imagine.

We don’t let them have tablets or phones, but we do let them play Minecraft at 3:00 for a half hour if all their schoolwork is finished, and they do, of course watch TV and movies from time to time.

They especially love their slow mornings where they get to groggily chill in front of PBS Kids’ Molly of Denali or Wild Kratts before heading upstairs to make beds, brush teeth, and get dressed for the day.

Other than that, we’re just such believers in outdoor play, and goodness isn’t it great when they’re bored?!

What a great skill for them to learn to overcome.

An amazing opportunity for them to have to think outside the box (or inside a box, which is one boredom buster in our home!).

Music

We listen to every genre I can think of.

Watch videos of BB King and Eric Clapton playing live.

Watch musicals (Singing in the Rain and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang are our current favorites).

Learn music notes and draw them.

Beat out rhythms.

Play instruments and practice songs on the piano.

Have sing-a-longs and dance parties most every single day.

And we’re going to try this book next. Doesn’t it just seem like something my ole barefoot mama self would love?!

Art

If you’ve ever seen me draw, you’ll realize I’m barely even functioning in the art department.

I think it’s things like this that make non-homeschoolers wonder how in the world I think I can teach my children everything forever.

And they’re right.

I don’t plan to.

That would be straight crazy, y’all, and if you saw me cry every day in Junior year Math (Functions, Statistics, and Trigonometry….shiver), you’d know I have a healthy understanding of my limitations.

So, we have found different art classes locally like pottery and glass mosaic plate making.

There’s an amazing class at the local Hobby Lobby that runs for six weeks and covers famous artists while the children study and create masks, impressionistic paintings, and more.

I’ve also found this guy and his family who my children are crazy about.

He’s so laid back and his teaching is thorough and slow-paced.

The boys have made some seriously fantastic art following him!

Physical Education

My boys play sports. Baseball, basketball, swimming. Pretty much anything with a ball or some sort of physical activity, and they’re on it.

However, we also get outside and play. A ton.

It’s so important for them to be physical and taking care of their bodies.

With all of our time hiking, canoeing, biking, running, taking family walks, bouncing on the hippity hop all over the house, having water balloon fights, or even just jumping on the trampoline out back, we’ve more than got Phys. Ed. covered!

Kindergarten is FUN!

Between reading aloud, running around like crazy, random wrestling matches in the kitchen, and working our way through this curriculum, our homeschool is full of life that has become the heartbeat of our home.

I can’t think of a better way to spend this time in our lives together.

A Kindergarten Homeschool curriculum focusing on laid-back, kid-centered lessons that makes room for both books and hands-on experiences.

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How State Standards Can Be a Tool for Your Homeschool No ratings yet.

Your state standards can provide a few good things for your homeschool, and in this quick read, you'll find it's easier than you may think.
Your state standards can provide a few good things for your homeschool, and in this quick read, you'll find it's easier than you may think.

State Standards are a Tool

While I know it may not be the popular homeschool mom thing to say, the state standards can actually be of use to you.

I’m not implying you should drop what you’re doing and follow these “rules.”

However, I do think it’s important to take a look at them, and here’s why:

One day your child will enter the work force with people who have this as their base minimum.

In my opinion, it only makes sense that my children, while under my homeschool teaching, would get this as a minimum as well so they can be even more of a contender for a job one day.

What You May Not Know About State Standards

Here are some helpful tips I came to learn after eleven years teaching in a public school:

  • They’re fairly minimal and not overly challenging
  • They’re super repetitive from year to year
  • At times, they focus on small pieces of information (i.e. nouns). It’s up to the educator to make sure they’re learning how to actually utilize them in real life and not simply memorize what they are.
  • They are somewhat difficult to read. Google is your friend here.
  • They’re available online
  • Looking at earlier and later years will help you get the scope of where the standards are going
  • You’re likely doing these in your homeschool anyway

How I Use Them

I print them at the beginning of each school year.

Cross out any that I know my child has mastered.

Highlight any I’ve seen him almost master in one color.

Then, I’ll highlight any I know he hasn’t learned in another color.

Teaching those highlighted areas in organic ways where it’s easy to see real world application, is where we keep kids engaged and learning.

Final Thoughts

My case for standards is simply for knowing the whole picture of what’s happening in the world of education.

I’d never endorse sticking to these state standards and making them your end-all-be-all.

As a former educator, I saw my students bored out of their mind with them by the 8th grade.

They’d seen the same ole narrative seven times before, and they get it, already (insert teen eye roll). And they did.

What they didn’t get was how to write.

And this is why I take state standards lightly.

As a frame of reference.

If my child can’t form coherent sentences, who cares if he can spot an abstract noun from a mile away?

I wholeheartedly support organic learning where these standards of education happen naturally.

Some of my favorites are Readers and Writer’s Workshop, amazing classes around town, traveling, playing sports, etc.

I want all of those amazing perks for my children and I want to know what’s happening in the school system.

It’s my job to do what my children cannot. I have to take a look at the peripheral vision of education and focus on where we need to learn.

Most importantly, it’s my job to create an exciting learning experience that creates lifelong learners.

Your state standards can provide a few good things for your homeschool, and in this quick read, you'll find it's easier than you may think.

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Reader’s and Writer’s Workshop in Homeschool No ratings yet.

What is Reader's and Writer's Workshop, and how do you incorporate it in your homeschool day organically to improve reading and writing consistently?
What is Reader's and Writer's Workshop, and how do you incorporate it in your homeschool day organically to improve reading and writing consistently?

What is Workshop?

Reader’s and Writer’s Workshop is more complex and involved than what I’ll outline here, but it is a way of teaching Language Arts that is more natural.

Essentially, you’ll read great literature and teach quick lessons to join reading and writing while building upon your child’s skills.

If you’d like to dig into this concept more, here are some great resources:

Reader’s Workshop

Writer’s Workshop

Mentors

A mentor author can be any published author that is an example of the lesson you’re wanting to teach.

This allows your children to see how real writers use the skill you’re teaching .

For example, when I pull Ezra Jack Keats The Snowy Day, my plan might be to teach words that make sound and how we put them in our writing.

With words like, “Crunch, crunch, crunch, his feet sank into the snow,” and “Then he dragged his feet s-l-o-w-l-y to make tracks,” and “-a stick that was just right for smacking a snow-covered tree,” and “Down fell the snow-plop!” I know I’ve got lots of great examples to teach from.

Choosing a mentor is powerful.

It lets your child zoom in on one learning point, making him or her feel successful as a writer because it’s easy to see how to perform that certain skill.

Reading Mini-Lesson

There will be one small reading teaching point and one small writing teaching point.

The beauty in Reader’s and Writer’s Workshop is that you’ll be able to teach your children based on what their specific needs are.

You can pull from the state standards if you’d like, and as a former public school teacher, I have some thoughts on how this can fit into your homeschool without taking over here.

Here’s the key to your mini-lesson: keep it short and break them up!

First, let’s teach our reading lesson.

For example, let’s say I want to teach children how to make a text-to-self connection.

I’d tell them what a text-to-self connection is and then have places in the mentor text that I’ve prepared to show them examples of this as we read.

Read it Aloud

While we read our mentor text aloud (depending on your child’s ability perhaps they read it aloud or their sight words to encourage beginning readers), show them where your mini-lesson comes to life as a reader.

After reading about Peter waking in the morning to fresh fallen snow, I can say, “I have a text-to-self connection! I love waking up to find it snowed while I was asleep just like Peter. I can tell he was excited because right after breakfast, he put on his snowsuit and ran outside.

Writing Mini-Lesson

After teaching the reading mini-lesson and reading the book aloud, I’ll share something I noticed that the author did to keep us loving his book and reading more.

For example, I’ll point out how Keats used sound words also called Onomatopoeia.

I’ll ask the children to look back in the text to see if they can hunt them down.

We can write them on post-it notes and stick them in our Writer’s Notebook to use as reference for the next part: writing.

Put the Lessons into Action

We keep both a Reader’s and Writer’s Notebook.

If you’d like to learn more about them, this book as well as this book are both great resources.

The Reader’s Notebook is for all our good thinking we do about the books we read.

The Writer’s Notebook is for exploration and growth in our writing.

The only rules for our Writer’s notebook is that we all understand this is a place for trying new things and being brave as writers.

This is not the place for perfection!

We love these simple notebooks for younger children.

And these for older elementary kids.

Whether your child is writing a longer or shorter piece, prompted or free write doesn’t matter.

What does matter is that they’re writing and trying out your lesson.

What matters in your Reader’s notebook is that they’re writing what they’re thinking.

Your Role in Notebooks

Here’s what you can get from your children’s notebooks:

  • Their thought process and what gaps they have in their comprehension
  • What they need to learn next
  • Writing goals (we usually set one or two per session–see our homeschool schedule here).
  • Spelling needs
  • A conversation starter about what they’re reading to conference (talk) with your child about what they’re thinking/learning/wondering.

Apply to Self-Selected Texts

Choice is key to life-long readers and writers.

The mentor text time will be more heavy-handed in examples and your own thinking aloud/writing example alongside them, so they can see what it’s like to read and write well.

Afterward, they should be given an assignment to read from their choice book applying the lessons to their Reader’s and Writer’s notebooks from that text.

For example, if I taught sound words for Writing and text-to-self connections for Reading, I would assign the child to make a couple of text-to-self connections to what they choose to read and write about it in their Reader’s Notebook.

They’d create a story (either prompted or free write) to add in sound words like you picked out in The Snowy Day story.

Final Thoughts

Take your time incorporating this idea into your homeschool setting.

It can feel overwhelming if you’ve never taught like this before, but I think like me, you’ll find that over time you’ll love it.

You’ll likely see what I did: students growing in their reading and writing, enjoying the process, and feeling like as their teacher you have a really great grip on what they know and where they need to go next.

What is Reader's and Writer's Workshop, and how do you incorporate it in your homeschool day organically to improve reading and writing consistently?

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Our Simplistic Homeschool Schedule No ratings yet.

A quick overview of both yearly and daily schedule that's so simple I can't believe we didn't start this as soon as we began homeschool!
A quick overview of both yearly and daily schedule that's so simple I can't believe we didn't start this as soon as we began homeschool!

Homeschool Schedule

One reason homeschool is so amazing is because you can make it fit your family.

There are so many ways to do it.

I would love to encourage you to take what you can apply from our schedule and leave behind what doesn’t work for you.

Year-Round

We chose year-round schooling because of a belief cultivated from eleven years of being an educator myself in the public school system.

It never made any sense to me how we ever came up with summer break, honestly.

With the huge learning gaps that happen over the summer, it never seemed like the best way to learn.

It also didn’t leave much wiggle room for travel, which is something our family loves to do.

Instead, we homeschool four weeks and then take one week off.

One blissful week every fifth week where we do whatever we want, get caught up around the house, and play games like crazy.

It’s been one of the best things to happen to our school year!

Daily Schedule

We do an every other day schedule where we only learn half the subjects each day.

I decided to do this after reflecting upon my student teaching assignment in a rural public school where we did what they call “block scheduling.”

Basically, we split our learning in half with the ability to dig into the subjects we’re doing each day for as long as we need without feeling rushed.

I plan everything in my high performance planner because I also fit time to write and running my business into our day .

Mondays and Wednesdays we do Math, Science, and Music.

Tuesdays and Thursdays we do Language Arts (Readers and Writer’s Workshop, handwriting, spelling), History/Geography, and Art.

We love it because there’s so much time for the kids to play and experience all the learning that happens outside of books.

This leaves extra time to be outdoors hiking, building, taking lessons in specific sports, or exploring something new to learn.

Fridays

We put our field trip and service days on Friday.

Fridays are good to run to a museum, the zoo, drive somewhere further, or even do some world-schooling long weekends with the whole family.

Simply Put…

We love this schedule.

It’s so relaxed.

It allows time for the boys to really soak up their childhood.

To grow in other areas outside of what books alone can teach them.

It lets them see their books’ material in real life a lot of times.

My favorite part is the ability to seek out unique learning opportunities outside the home.

What’s your favorite homeschool schedule? I’d love to hear about your school day in the comments!

A quick overview of both yearly and daily schedule that's so simple I can't believe we didn't start this as soon as we began homeschool!

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Top 20 Family Games No ratings yet.

Top 20 Family Games

We Love Games

We play games most every evening after dinner.

Our boys, 8 and 6-year-old enjoy the family time, and we’re so glad to have my husband home from work that it’s a great time to laugh and enjoy each other before bedtime.

Here are our top 20 favorite games in no particular order.

Ticket to Ride First Journey

This was a great one to start around age 6. It’s a little involved, but takes between 45 minutes to an hour to finish.

Find it here.

Battleship

Who doesn’t love shouting, “You sunk my battleship!”? Our six-year-old still struggles with the grid on this one, but the eight-year-old is amazing at it. We typically team up for this since it’s only a two player game, anyway.

Find it here.

Uno

Numbers, colors, and a great one to play with the whole family or in teams depending on your family’s needs. Sometimes the amount in the boys’ tiny hands can get to be a bit much, so we’ll let them lay them down or put some back.

Find it here.

We also really love this Harry Potter version here!

Tapple

This game is fun to play faster with bigger kids, but will need to be slowed way down for the younger ones. What kid doesn’t love to push a button and shout words? Super fun and easily adaptable to any age.

Find it here.

Guess Who

Another classic favorite! We find that both boys handle this game particularly well, even if the six-year-old does sometimes give away who his guy is!

Find it here.

Clue-Retro

Okay…real talk… I just don’t like the new version! The 1986 version is where it’s at! We definitely have to pair the six-year-old up with one of the adults, but our oldest gets along just fine.

Find it here.

Chinese Checkers

Oh, goodness do our boys love this game! It’s simple, quick moving, and like a more fun version of checkers with all the jumping everywhere.

The trick is to avoid the tin version. Those marbles slide all over the place, and the tin gets warped over time. The link below is for the best-priced wooden one we like best.

Find it here.

Life

Truth be told, the boys like this one everyday, and Steve and I like it most days.

It’s a bit time consuming, but it really lets our oldest one work with bigger numbers with such high currency (he always calls banker).

The spinner is our youngest’s favorite thing ever, and he loves it when more babies are added to his car. It takes a bit of parental help, but it’s a good weekend day game.

The version we like best is here.

Trouble

I loved this game as a child, and playing it with our boys is the most fun! I like this game as a simple way for little hands to learn moving and counting. Of course, the popping bubble is the kids’ favorite, though!

Find it here.

Connect 4

For some reason this game gives our family the giggles! We like how simple and quick-paced it is. The boys crack up when they let all the checkers fly out of the bottom!

Here’s the version we have.

This giant yard version is definitely on my wish list, though!

Jenga

Speaking of games with giant yard versions, Jenga is one that we love both inside and outside!

Find the indoor version here.

The outdoor here is still small enough to allow all-family play.

Yahtzee

I happen to have an over-the-top YAHTZEE! shout that makes my husband roll his eyes and the kids howl with laughter.

This game gets confusing for the six-year-old, so we let him join one of the adults while my eight-year-old is pretty good on his own.

Find it here.

Outdoor version here.

Mastermind

This game was something I picked up thinking my eight-year-old little code breaker would love the sound of, but it turned out to be one of our all-time favorites!

Find it here.

Pay Day

This game is so fun and simple. We also like the flexibility of time since you can choose to go as many times as you’d like through the calendar. If it’s a night after not a lot of sleep the night before, we’ll choose this game, so we can run through the calendar once and head right up to bed.

Find it here.

Headbandz

Truth be told, we ditched the headbands themselves because it was a bit too intense for tiny fingers to stick the cards into the slot attached to their head all while trying to beat out the clock.

Instead, we opted for holding the card up in front of us and letting the person on our team shout clues at us. This was all it took for our kids to fall in love with this game!

Find it here.

Scrabble

I like how we can change up Scrabble to fit both a kid who devours books and one who’s just learning to read. It’s fun to play, and as a homeschool mama, it tips me off on any spelling words we need to add to our school day!

Find it here.

Stratego

My husband grew up loving this game and couldn’t wait for us to play after the boys got it for Christmas this year.

It’s surprisingly easy enough for both boys to understand, even if the strategy of the six-year-old doesn’t quite outmatch the eight-year-old just yet.

Find it here.

Sorry!

I will never forget how exciting it was when my now eight-year-old could finally read his own Sorry! cards. He felt like such a big kid, and I know our six-year-old is on his way!

We love this quick and simple game. For some reason our boys get such a kick out of sending Daddy back to home but feel so bad if they have to do it to me. But I don’t mind. Not one bit.

Find it here.

Clack

We have to slow down a bit for our six-year-old to take a look at the pieces and grab them, but the eight-year-old is out to win now that his reflexes are much sharper!

This game is fast and fun!

Find it here.

Pie Face

This game is one that comes with past stories they tell others about.

We laugh so hard when we play Pie Face, and the boys are always begging to play it! If you haven’t played Pie Face yet and are okay with some mess on the table, your face, and table, this is the game for you!

Find it here.

We hope you have enjoyed our list of favorite after-dinner games.

We are soaking up every minute of time with our boys, and these game times are such a part of our story.

Let me know in the comments which games I didn’t list that we need to try!

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Multi-Age Writing No ratings yet.

Multi-age writing
One way to teach one text for writing across multiple ages in homeschool or during summer while you're trying to stop gaps from happening is easy!
How to teach multiple ages writing, grammar, and punctuation in one simple text.

Multi-Age Writing

In homeschool or during the summer for public and private school kids, we’re faced with multiple ages learning and writing around one table.

How do we make it fit without making a new lesson for every kid?

One of the most successful writing times in our home is when use one text and stretch it to fit the ages and learning levels of both boys (ages 6 -kindergarten and 8-third grade).

Showcase the Text

The first step is to write out the text on something big.

We like to use our chalkboard.

I chose the lead of a book for this particular lesson.

Just the first few sentences of a book my son loved called A Cricket in Times Square worked well to analyze some basic reading points and start a new story in our own Writer’s Notebooks.

Read the Text Multiple Times

The oldest read the text aloud, so I could get a sample of where he was at in his fluency.

I then read it aloud again as he followed along, so he could hear how it should sound.

We can talk about how his voice should sound both in his mind and aloud as he reads when we do this.

For my emerging reader, I put my finger under each word as I read, so he could be immersed in words new and already known.

Stopping to let him read the words he’s already memorized to help me out makes him feel like a big helper, too.

Find What’s Right, Not What’s Wrong!

In Everyday Editing by Jeff Anderson, he teaches that the old idea of fixing up broken sentences like we experienced in school is the backward way of learning.

I found this to be a much better way to teach my 8th graders years ago, and I still find it to be true with my boys in homeschool.

For today, A Cricket in Times Square was the text, making George Selden what we call our “mentor.”

Someone who is published.

A great writer we can learn from.

Just like how every major leaguer once watched his favorite MLB star swing a bat over and again, we watch our authors.

What do they do that’s amazing?

How can we create that in our own writing?

I asked each boy specific questions.

For my oldest I asked about possessive nouns. Why is this apostrophe different than a contraction? Why did Seldon need it here?

What do words like, “Times Square, abandoned drain pipe, and subway” give the reader in the beginning of the book?

For my youngest, I asked questions like, “What did Seldon do at the start of every sentence?”

What did he do when he was finishing his sentence?

Why didn’t he use an exclamation point or question mark instead?”

Link it to a Writing Piece

For my youngest, I grabbed one of his blank books.

If you don’t have these stock-piled somewhere in your learning space, grab them fast! Your kids will LOVE becoming authors in their own bound books to put on the shelf!

His mission was to draw the cat and mouse he visualized in his mind’s eye as we read.

He told me what they were doing, and we worked together to write simple sentences to help tell his own version of the story.

It was fun to see how his mind saw the words we just read.

While my six-year-old started drawing, my eight-year-old and I looked at the key pieces of the text we were examining.

“What are the words ‘mouse and Mario?'”

Characters.

“You get to create two characters!”

My little non-writer panicked.

“Let’s play a game to decide. I’ll name a kind of character, and you name a kind of character on the count of three. No matter what kind they are, you’ll make them both a part of your story. Even if they don’t seem to go together. We’ll make it fun! Got it? One…two…three!”

He said inventor. I said troll.

“What words did we say were giving us setting?”

He answered the words he saw on the board from the text. I circled them.

“Okay, let’s choose your own setting. You pick the specific kind of place, and I’ll choose the big location. One…two…three!”

He chose an underground laboratory. I chose Alaska. He changed it to an underground Alaskan ice lab where an inventor creates a troll that helps him make his creations.

At this point, he was excited and ready to go!

Keep It Small

One way to keep your writers loving the art of writing, is keeping your lessons and the amount they write small.

Realizing it didn’t all have to happen today (and shouldn’t) was one of the best things that happened to me as a teacher.

Just write this starting point.

Just get going.

Tomorrow you can look at how an author crafts his characters. Then later in the week, his plot, another day his problems, next week his solutions, and even later his conclusions.

We can slowly investigate writing with our author’s eye looking for the genius behind our favorite authors.

But what’s best…we can be successful because they showed us how.

Celebrate!

Writing should be fun and exciting!

In this house, I have one who likes to write and one who really really does not.

So, whenever we finish even one small part of writing, we read it aloud to everyone.

We celebrate.

Laugh.

Do immediate quick fixes (editing) because that’s what great authors do.

Read, we write, and we do it all together.

One former English teacher, one kid who can’t read yet, and one kid who’s an avid reader but avoids writing like the plague.

We enjoy this process.

In its beauty and craft, it can be shaped, molded, and shared.

No matter what age. What interest. What ability.

Writing is for everyone.

A way to teach one text for writing across multiple ages in homeschool or during summer while you're trying to stop gaps from happening is easy!

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This Math Card Game is Rubbish! No ratings yet.

This Math Card Game is Rubbish!

We have played the math card game Rubbish approximately one billion times, and I’ll play it 1 billion and one if it means our boys practice the skills this game sharpens.

My five-year-old loves it, my three-year-old wants in, and we all enjoy the time together.

It’s quick, and super simple, too!

The Rules

1.) Lay out two rows of five cards, horizontally for each player. The rest of the cards are for the draw pile.

2.) Choose the first player. We rock-paper-scissors for it. 🙂

3.) The first player chooses a card. Each of the cards you laid face down represent a number (left-to-right) Ace-5 in the top row; 6-10 on the bottom row.

4.) If the card drawn is Ace-10, pick up the face-down card in the corresponding spot, and replace it with the card drawn (lay it facing up).

5.) The face-down card you pulled to replace with the drawn card is now the next card you play. If it fits in to what’s left, you pick that spot’s card up and lay the one in your hand down in its place. Your turn continues until you don’t have any more spots available for the switch out.

Example: I draw a 5. I pick up the card face down that’s in the 5 spot (top row last card on the right) and lay the 5 I just drew where it was. The card that was face down was an Ace. I pick up the first card on the top row and lay the Ace down in its place…keep going until you run out of spots to fill.

A math card game called Rubbish teaches your child base ten, numbers, and strategy with a bit of luck thrown in for lots of laughs.

The first to fill all his or her spots is the winner!

Other Handy Rules:

1.) If you pick up a Jack or Queen, you automatically discard into a discard pile next to the Rubbish draw pile.

2.) If you  pick up a number you already have face up, discard.

3.) If you pick up a King, it’s wild and can be used as any number Ace-10!

4.) When you run through the entire deck of draw cards, shuffle the discard into a new draw pile and keep going until you get a winner.

The Best Part

The best part about Rubbish is that it looks exactly like the ten-frames my oldest is learning in Kindergarten math!

He works with numbers, placement, and I was really surprised by how quickly he learned the numbers associated with the face-down cards.

For our three-year-old, this has been great to help drive home learning his numbers.

Final Thoughts

I love this silly game called Rubbish and how it helped the boys’ skills grow so quickly, how it’s teaching and reteaching number sense, and most of all how it always brings us together.

A bowl of popcorn, a game of Rubbish, and our two boys makes for a great time in our homeschool day!

A math card game called Rubbish teaches your child base ten, numbers, and strategy with a bit of luck thrown in for lots of laughs.

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