January 23, 2015

HELP FOR YOUR HOMESCHOOL

After homeschooling for quite a few years now, I realize that January can be a really tough month for homeschool mamas.  We're trying to get back in the swing of things after the holiday hustle and bustle and it can be hard to find the groove again.  This is the time of year I go looking for new, fresh ideas and any homeschool inspiration I can get my hands on.

I love hearing what other homeschool mamas have to say about what works in their school and what doesn't.  I love picking up little tidbits here and there and trying them out in our school.  So far this semester has been going pretty well for us.  I'm implementing several new ideas I've found lately and they're working great.  Inspiring other mamas that may be down in the school dumps right now is something I am very passionate about.  Last spring I put together some of my ideas in the form of two ebooks and a teacher lesson planner.  This was a big accomplishment for me and I feel so over the moon that some of you have been helped or inspired by what you found on those pages.



Mrs. Hutchinson's Classroom Guide: Homeschool Basics is not just for beginners.  There's a ton of ideas in there and lots of just good ol' encouragement for tired mamas.

Mrs. Hutchinson's Classroom Guide: Planning & Organizing is packed with ideas to get your school neat and tidy.  I love seeing how other people organize...I'm sure you do too.  If you need a breath of fresh are in the area of organizing, this might just give you the push you need to get some of your projects going.

Mrs. Hutchinson's Lesson Planner is designed for the '14-'15 school year and is my best seller.  If you're needing a new way to organize your lesson planning, this might be what you're looking for.  If you're already using it, let me know how you like it! I'm also in the planning stages of next school year's teacher planner, so if you have ideas for me please let me know!

January 21, 2015

MY PERSONAL FAVORITES FROM 2014

I love a long look back at the previous year.  I almost always cry.  Memories, both good and bad always make me cry.  Sometimes it feels like not so much happened in a year, like it was pretty basic and non-eventful.  But then I take a peek back over the last twelve months and it seems like everything happened.  I put together twelve of the most meaningful posts to me from this year.  I hope you like them too.  So much of this blog is an outlet for me.  I can only hope that it will also inspire some of you.  But this list has nothing to do with statistics or how many clicks or hits, it's just good ol' favorites of mine.  Posts that meant something big to me.  I hope you enjoy (or have already enjoyed them.)  And as always, thank you for being such amazing reader.

So, here are my twelve personal favorite posts from 2014:



1. I changed my blog name to Investing Love.  This was a long time comin' but I just couldn't figure out the details.  I made it a goal of mine at the beginning of last year to really focus on this blog space and overhaul it to mean something more...to me and to you.  After much thought, I came up with Investing Love. I still love this choice.  


2. I wrote an ebook series!  This was another huge goal I had for myself last year.  I have always wanted to write something like this to help other homeschool mamas  This time I just really worked hard to get it done! I still have one more in the works right now, and it should be out in the next few months.  I'm really excited about this new one on creating a FUN school.  Stay tuned, and thank you for supporting my endeavors! 


3. I took a long break.  I did.  I didn't touch social media from the first of January to till the very beginning of March.  It was so good.  I learned so much and most importantly, quieted so much.  I learned to sleep without my phone beside my bed and that has not changed in over a year.  I really feel like everyone should take a long break like this.  It really does a girl good.


4. I wrote a lesson planner.  This was so exciting because a) SO many of you loved this and b) it gave me a chance to really combine my loves of organizing AND homeschooling.  I am already working on the new planner to come out this summer! 
5. The most special Easter ever.  Vera Mae represents so much in my life.  She came at such an amazingly crazy period of our lives.  We chose to create our own private dedication for her on Easter last year.  We wrote her letters, we blessed her...it was so special.  We spent the day in the gorgeous sun on the acres of our favorite place, the Biltmore Estate.  We won't soon forget that day.


6. We summoned the forest fairies for Sophia's birthday.  One of my favorite ever parties to plan, the fairy party.  Planning a good shindig is one of my favorite ways to create.  For a long time when we were living in our townhome I thought that since we were renting, my creativity was squelched.  I had used to love throwing the kids parties, and I thought I couldn't do it again until we were more settled.  I set those hangups aside and created a super fun and memorable day for Sophie's sixth birthday.  We all loved this day.

7. A whole lotta art.  We really created so much art together this past year.  We had a whole week of art during the summer.  You can see some of our projects on THIS page.  Art is something that we can all do together without any arguing.  A quiet hobby that stretches all our brains.  

8. Trying new things...like natural egg dye.  This was one of my favorite projects from the whole year.  We had never done this before, but it was always something I wanted to try.  These eggs turned out gorgeously and I'm pretty sure we're going to do it again.
9. We fell into love with reading together.  Like a lot.  At the beginning of last year, we started a book and haven't stopped since then.  We have always read together, but it was always more sporadic.  Now if we go even a week between books my kids start to think something is wrong.  So far this school year we've read The BFG by Roald Dahl, Peter Pan, James and the Giant Peach, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, and now we're reading Heidi.  Lately it's been in front of a fire, which is pretty much perfection on these cold nights.  I love that my kids love this.  It's such a sweet time for us together right now.


10. The sweetest one-year-party you ever did see.  I really wanted Vera's first birthday to be really special.  She was born on Earth Day, so she may just have a more "natural" birthday party theme forever now, but to start off her history of birthday parties, I chose a Peter Rabbit theme.  I loved putting this party together...all the details were just perfect for my little Bug.  I'm pretty sure she loved it.


11. My kids traveled back to the '20's.  Photographing my kids, especially in a themed shoot, is one of my all-time favorite things to do.  This Halloween, we put together a styled shoot from the '20s and they completely rocked it out.  I could stare at these photos all day everyday...but I won't.  There's things to do.

12. We moved to Minnesota...kinda.  Our big news of the year...we moved.  Well, we're going to...I mean we did.  What?! We're not quite settled there yet.  Jarrod is working and living in Minneapolis.  We are basically homeless for a while longer...till we settle on our house.  So much more to come this year with this news.  Like, really getting there and enjoying our new digs.  SO looking forward to that in 2015.

January 19, 2015

MY MOST FUN PINTEREST BOARDS

I've been on Pinterest a lot lately pinning all the most fun things I can find on the interwebs.  Even without a house right now, I'm still doing plenty of planning for that house, for school, for art, for holidays coming up, and for my own personal fun...reading!
Of course I use Pinterest to share some of the posts I do here, but I also love to see what other people are doing, reading, and making. 

I thought I'd show you eight of my most favorite boards right now and what I'm pinning...

First up: my Teacher Help board.  This is where I pin all those great ideas and articles out there that can help serve me better in our homeschool either right now, or later on.  My favorite subjects lately are Scrapping the Lesson Plan and Simplifying Homeschooling with Spiral Notebooks.




I am forever saving ideas for my creative kids.  My creative kids board is full of so much great stuff, there's no way we could do it all, but it's nice to think about trying.  Right now I'm focusing on some mountain art because we're reading Heidi and I wanted to tie that together.  But also, this cardboard doll is making me so happy.




History is my favorite to teach and right now we're working on a fun unit on Vikings.  I found a ton of great ideas on Pinterest for this unit.  Right now we're doing all the reading and "learning" and then we're going to tie in some of these great projects.

We're also ramping up our science this semester too, and I have some super fun ideas planned for our unit on creation science.  I'm thinking these Tabletop Biospheres look super fun and that melting dough just for kicks is on our list too.


Of course I'm planning and scheming over our new house.  There's several spaces we're planning on overhauling right away.  Although, now doubt has set in and I'm thinking we should just move into an easy apartment, but I have pinned some great ideas just in case I don't let my doubts consume me.
I feel like it's been forever and a day since I've done any projects, but if I were gong to do something, this hanging botanical print would be the first thing.  That floral "S" would be the close second. 


Valentine's Day is just fun.  I mean, we don't have to make a big dealio, but just a few fun projects need to happen.  I'm thinking some fun heart-shaped food and some handmade stationary for sending some love in the mail.

Last is my book list right now.  I'm feeling so accomplished having already checked one book off my list this year.  I've had to edit my original list because I found out Phillipa Gregory put out a new book recently and I didn't know! So I had to add that.

So there you go, my eight most fun Pinterest boards right now.  Follow along and we'll be ambitious together! Add your Pinterest page in the comments and I'll follow you back! Chances are we're pinning the same type of great stuff...we need each other.

January 16, 2015

TAKING STOCK: JANUARY '15 EDITION

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I pretty much love these lists.  Or any list for that matter.  It's good to take stock of things every once in a while.  Here goes:


Making :  plans for the weekend
Cooking :  ugh...isn't that the million dollar question
Drinking : coffee...always coffee
Reading: The King's Curse by Phillipa Gregory...not on my book list
Wanting:  a few hours in a cutesy coffee shop...alone
Looking: for my Chapstick
Playing: Making 10's...Saxon Math people, you might know what I'm taking about
Wasting:  water...long showers are my spa treatments these days
Sewing: nothing...dang it
Wishing:  I never had to go to the grocery store again
Enjoying:  this free schedule...nowhere to go really...lots of reading, fires, and enjoying my babies
Waiting:  for the bank to OK our offer on our house!
Liking: Instagram vintage kids' clothes sales
Listening: Clair de Lune (my most favorite classical piece ever)
Wondering: when it will blizzard
Loving: my banker
Hoping: I can finish everything I need to finish this month
Marvelling: at how my kids love me so well
Needing:  more sleep
Smelling: dishwasher soap
Watching: Downton Abbey
Wearing: comfies
Following:  the lesson planner
Noticing:  new words from Vera every day
Knowing:  it all turns out in the end
Thinking: about running tomorrow morning around the lake
Bookmarking: THIS fun project
Opening: Amazon boxes...school books!
Giggling: at my brother's sass mouth
Feeling: displaced but okay

January 14, 2015

VIRTUAL LEARNING: PREALGEBRA


www.unlockmath.com


Math can be a really difficult subject for a lot of us for a multitude of reasons, but I want to show you a program that I think can really help with some of the difficulty.  I'm really excited about this!

I received this product to review, but as always, I am very honest about what I review and I do not recommend products to my readers that I wouldn't use myself.


Like I shared with you on Monday, up until school started again after Christmas break, our homeschool had been a little wonky.  Well, a lot wonky.  Moving has really affected school for us, which is to be expected, but when we start lagging in math, I start to feel a little anxious.  Some of those important math facts are so easy to lose from your brain if they're not constantly exercised and I really didn't want to have that happen.  So the offer to review UnLock Math's Pre-algebra program came at an absolute perfect time. 
It's sometimes easy to let your older kids get ignored a little bit while the babies and the toddlers demand so much attention from us mamas.  It can be all too easy for us to occasionally say, "go on and do your math lesson, I'll check it after lunch."
Three days later, we've got three lessons to correct and make sure our child is on track and not having issues with any skills.
With so much going on lately and so much on my mind lately, UnLock Math has been so fabulous for our family.  Noah sits by us while the littler kids do their math and he logs onto his person account and completes his lesson for the day.  He listens to the video lesson (about 5-7 minutes long), completes a set of practice problems, completes a set of extra practice problems if need be, answers a challenge question, and takes any notes he needs to remember.
Greatest thing for me? I can immediately see how he has done on his lesson, see which ones he needs to work on if any, and look at his grades...they're all saved for us!

The pre-algebra program covers the following skills and has several lessons about each skill:
    • Whole numbers
    • Integers
    • Variable and expressions
    • Rational numbers
    • Fractions
    • Equations
    • Inequalities
    • The coordinate plane
    • Decimals
    • Percent
    • Polynomials
    • Triangles
    • 2D geometry
    • 3D geometry
    • Analyzing data
    • Stats and probability
I personally think this is a great list to cover in a middle school year.  Noah is actually really enjoying math...can I get an Amen?! Besides that, it's solving so many glitches we've had in the school year this year; moving, time spent on school because of move, shuffling our things from here to there as we house hunt, keeping up on grades, independence for Noah...honestly, UnLock Math has saved us these last few months!

What My Middle-Schooler Loved About This Virtual Learning Experience


www.unlockmath.com
www.unlockmath.com
  • Easy to set up and navigate! This can be such a pain when dealing with subjects online.  Some websites are so hard to navigate and figure out.  This program is not.  We were up and running within three minutes of opening this program.  You can't beat that. 
  • Video lessons were very straightforward and brief....perfect for a middle school boy that has much more important things to do than math ;)  No kid likes sitting through a lecture.  These videos are fun and brief...only about 5-7 minutes for most lessons.  If they need to listen to it again to catch something they missed, that's no problem...this program is very self-paced.
  • Lesson Challenges at the end of each lesson.  These challenges were sort of like bonus puzzles at the end of each lesson.  They were borderline logic questions for the students, making their brains work in different ways than during the lesson they had just completed.  Noah loved this portion of the lesson.
  • Only one question at a time was displayed on the screen.  This is especially helpful to visual learners who might get a little stressed out over seeing a screenfull of math problems.  Noah made sure I knew to include this in my review...this was really great for him.  He said he can get really frustrated looking at 30 math problems at a time, but one-by-one feels much more attainable.
  • Individualized learning is huge in UnLock Math.  This program allows students to go back and practice more on concepts that may not be grasped right away.  If they really have a handle on a specific skill, they are free to move on to the next lesson.  Noah is still working on these lessons, but I will occasionally have him go back and redo some practice skills just to make sure certain math concepts are really internalized.
This program's grading system has been a great thing for us.  It has relieved so much pressure for me to get things graded right away.  Here's a few reasons why automated testing and grading is so great for both of us.

Why Automated Testing and Grading is Great for the Student and Teacher

  • Every grade is recorded automatically for you.  I have a hard time keeping track of grades and records.  I love automated testing and grading for this reason.  I don't have to worry about losing papers or recording things into my master binder, it's all saved for me.
  • Students can instantly see how well they've scored or see what they need more practice on.  If the latter is the case, with this program, they can easily go back, practice, and retest for a better score.  There was nothing worse in school than waiting to find out what your grade was.  This is perfect because the student gets instant gratification with the scores.
  • All the grades can be saved in numeric, percentage, or letter style.  I love this because it's like a little teacher fairy did all my grading in all the ways I would want it and saved it all.  I love to be able to browse through the grade book and easily see all the information I need to see.
  • Multiple colorful charts showing progress in the course, improvement, and grades.  It's so easy to ready.  Kids can see their progress and where they're at in the course as soon as they open their home screen.  It's almost like a to-do list getting checked off everyday and everybody loves that! 


Right now, UnLock Math is offering their pre-algebra course at a special price.  UnLock Math Pre-Algebra is offering readers a special introductory price of $349 for one full year of this course.
UnLock Math is also giving away a total of 100 subscriptions of one month access to UnLock Pre-Algebra!
Sign up below:



UnLock Math is offering our readers 30% off on purchases made on or before March 31st, 2015.  Use the discount code: iHSN when you purchase.


More ways to keep in touch with UnLock Math, get ideas, and follow along with updates of their amazing product, follow them on:
We have loved using UnLock Math...if you are having trouble with math with your middle school students...check this program out.  It's been so great for us!www.unlockmath.com
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