September 16, 2014


Happy Tuesday, friends! I just wanted to pop in quick today and let you know about an art course I am really really excited about...The Art of Fall: Mixed Media Workshop for Kids! (and their excited mamas!)  A couple weeks ago, I shared with you our Art Class plans for the year, and since our theme for the month of October is paper crafting with origami anyway, I think we can tie this in really well.  Ok, so let me tell you a bit about this awesome course coming next month....
(this post contains affiliate links--thank you for supporting this blog!)


  • 4-week course is led via video--I'm really excited about this because my kids and I both love video led art tutorials.  It's a really fun way to do art.  You can see the butterfly Sophia created this summer with a video tutorial from an online art class.
  • Begins October 6th, but you will have access to the private website for a full year.
  • 20 amazing mixed media art projects included.  That's a lot of projects! I'm sure we won't get to all of these, but since we have access for a full year, I think we can save some for next fall too...already taking care of art class for next year!
  • Detailed supply lists for each week.
  • Special price for the course is $36--which is a great deal when you consider the amount of projects!  If you used this for your art curriculum and did one project per week, your art class could be planned for 20 weeks...that's pretty awesome.  Special price for this course is $36 until September 30th, then the price will be $48.


I love the variety of techniques included because all my kids have such different styles and tastes.  Noah is amazing at watercolors and Jack's sketches are gorgeous and Sophia has a great eye when we do collages--something for everyone.  The techniques include:
    • sketching
    • acrylic painting
    • watercolors
    • chalkboard art
    • collage
    • sculpting
    • hand lettering
    • art journaling


The Art of Fall workshop was written by a homeschool mama and she took care to include not only art projects each week, but she ties in many other fabulous lessons about fall.  You will talk about:
    • Monarch butterfly migration
    • fall flowers
    • the turning of leaves
    • harvest time
    • woodland critters
    • Thanksgiving
    • fall poetry
    • seasonal recipes
I am so happy I came across this e-course! We are going to have so much fun!  Also, please note that this course is not just for homeschooling families! Although it is created by a homeschooling mama, these art lessons are not just for homeschoolers.  Anyone can use this course and enjoy it with their kids.  I can't wait for this to begin! Visit The Art of Fall page for more information and to purchase your access to the workshop.  Remember the current price is $36 and will go to $48 after September 30th!  Have fun creating!

September 15, 2014

How I Teach to Multiple Learning Styles

Over the weekend, I was talking to a neighbor about her son's struggle with math.  While you'll never hear me bash public school here, I will say that not being able to use multiple curriculums with multiple kids is a really big downfall.  I understand why they can't, it's just a bummer.  The more I listened to my neighbor talk about her son, the more I realized he just needed a different math curriculum.  He was possibly brilliant at math, he just needed to be taught in a different way.  It was that simple. 
I have a deep passion for catering to a child's learning style and this was a prime example.  So much that I just wanted to enroll him in our school that minute and order a box of Math-U-See and watch this kid succeed.  The conversation reminded me of what a huge benefit we have as homeschoolers to teach our kids in their own way--it's truly one of the biggest perks of homeschooling for us and probably you too but I want to talk a bit about how I teach to multiple learning styles and why I think its an amazing privilege.
(This post contains affiliate links...thank you for supporting this blog!)


This is one huge area where we are so lucky when it comes to teaching our kids at home.  We know our kids better than anyone.  Just like an adult, they are so different and unique.  They all learn differently.  I have four kids that will probably all learn differently.  Here's why this is amazing:
1. WE DON'T HAVE TO WATCH OUR CHILD STRUGGLE// If your child is having a horrible time in math; change curriculums, sing songs to help him remember math rules, buy math games, research other ways to complete certain math problems online and teach your child that way, read living books, limit your time on that subject so they don't get overwhelmed.  We don't have to watch them struggle...we can make it better for them.
2. WE CAN MAKE BORING THINGS FUN// Subjects that aren't so fun, don't have to be.  This year we are doing math a lot differently.  I read Cindy West's Loving Living Math and it changed our math regime for good.  We are doing only two lessons from our book and the other two days we're doing living math lessons.  Last week, Noah practiced triangle areas by finding the area of the Bermuda Triangle and Sophia made a human number line.
Grammar doesn't have to be hated either.  You can use Cindy West's other great book, Living Literature: Grammar Packs, and other more interesting approaches than just a workbook. 
We can make it fun! 

3. WE HELP THEM LOVE TO LEARN// School doesn't have to be an endless lecture or an endless video.  We chose to homeschool because we wanted our kids to love to learn.  So many people leave school hating it.  I read recently that 60% of graduated college students don't read another book for pleasure for years afterward.  If we listen to the learning styles of our kids we can put into their hands tools that will give them a desire to learn for life.

Ok, but how do you actually teach to your child's learning style?  First, you need to read Carol Barnier's Big What Now Book of Learning Styles.  She is such a great wealth of information on this subject and I have learned so much from her.  Here's a list to get you started now though:


TEACH TO THEM ALL// The three basic styles of learning are visual, audio, and kinesthetic, but usually we are all a mix of them all.  We might have one dominant style, but for the most part we all learn with a little bit of all three styles.
    • make a big timeline for your history class
    • print off a portrait of the person you're studying in history or science to display while you read
    • show movies or YouTube videos to accompany lessons
    • use lots of colors to label or identify things
    • for early readers, attach labels to different things around your school room so they can visualize the words
    • use graphs and charts
    • try computer games for different subjects
    • use songs to memorize facts--this can work for any subject
    • read aloud
    • listen to audio books
    • read directions aloud while they follow with their book
    • use verbal narrations to check if they've comprehended a lesson

    • go outside and use sidewalk chalk for spelling words
    • observe nature
    • have your child use Thinking Putty while you read aloud
    • cook or bake for math class
    • use a hands-on project to test your child's knowledge
    • use lots of manipulatives for math
    • build with Legos
    • have them color while you read aloud

My last word is this: we need to understand that we as the teacher is responsible for teaching.  It's not our child's responsibility.  We hold all the keys...we need to find the right key that works with our child.  Try them all if you have to, but if your child is struggling definitely try a different key.  Now go find the right key, friends...what an amazing privilege! Have fun!

This post is part of a list of great post on How We Teach at iHomeschool Network.  Enjoy the other great posts!

September 12, 2014


This week has been anticipated for half the summer.  So much planning and organizing goes into the first week of school.  Books are ordered, school room is set up, copies are made, pencils sharpened.  It's a lot to get ready for--and then the rubber meets the road and the bell rings and you have to be ready for the swing of things again. 
I think I got a little overwhelmed over the weekend before school started.  I was ready, it wasn't that.  I was just overwhelmed with it all.  I have a toddler that is into or climbing on everything in sight, I have multiple grade levels to teach, and still the tasks of running a home; keeping it clean, orderly, and making 21 meals per week.  Also, I was flooded with the memory of last school year, which feels like yesterday, that began the great mouse infestation of 2013 and some of my darkest days thus far.  All those memories still feel so raw--so many hurts, beyond the mice, that we've had to work through over the last 18 months, we finally feel like we're in a better place emotionally, but still the memories haven't faded all that much and sadly, they're all still tied to something and this time it was the first day of school--I was overwhelmed.
I've realized something with fear and being overwhelmed with life--the longer you sit on it and think on it, the bigger it becomes.  You just have to take a step forward.  Even a small step is still a step.  I didn't feel ready to start school on Monday.  Yes, all the stuff was ready, but emotionally, I just felt like something was going to backfire--like all the preparation was going to be for naught.  But I took a step anyway...just one tiny step into Monday.

I'm not going to say it's easy--then again is anything in the role of being a mom easy--but we did it.  We survived our first week of school.  There were hiccups, yes, but we did it.  In our sloppy, sometimes scattered, noisy way, we did it.  Vera tore into everything (still looking for that perfect-legal cage for babies) but we laughed and dealt with it and got our work done anyway. 

I want to do so much.  I want to take my kids on amazing field trips where they are anxiously journaling in their field trip journals (which we do not have).  I want to complete math and language arts by 9am and check their perfectly handwritten assignments and return them all with gold stars.  I want to spend hours a day reading great historical literature on our current subject and finish it off with a great project everyday.  I want all this plus my laundry folded and put away in neat stacks so I can plod over shiny floors in my kitchen to get a delicious roast beef on the table by 5:30pm for dinner. 

This list is not humanly possible.  Life with kids--and kids that are at home all the time--is messy and noisy and crazy and busy.  I take a step back from the never-ending list of expectations and cut that list in half--or maybe just choose a quarter of it.  We will have school, some days will be great, some days will be not-so-great.  My feet will stick to the floor while I make a quick dinner that's halfway healthy, I'll fold the clothes in 20 minutes and go to bed tired.  Even still, it is worth it.  This life is worth it. 


P.E. with dad on his day off is worth it.  Four-square has become a staple in our neighborhood.  I had no clue what this game was until we moved here.  They love it.  It's simple.  P.E. Done.

Seeing her cartwheel from square to square is worth it.  She's never been able to do things the easy way, she always takes the road less traveled.  I love that about her.  I love that I get to see that everyday.  I don't want to miss a single cartwheel.  Worth it.

Human number lines to learn addition is worth it.  Sometimes we have to get creative.  Sometimes we struggle through a lesson.  Still, it's worth it.  

Seeing them work together and share these experiences--so worth it.  They know each other.  They are friends.  Yes, they argue and it drives me crazy, but sometimes they don't.  Sometimes I catch them being extra sweet or extra protective or extra helpful.  And those things? Yes, those things make it all worth it.  I wouldn't trade this life.  

We are one week through--33 weeks to go.  Tipping my hat to those of you that have finished the first week or two as well.  Well done, mamas.  Enjoy your breaks this weekend.  Rest up, because we're gonna do it all again next week! :)

September 10, 2014


One thing I'm learning on this homeschooling journey is the more ways you can find to teach a subject, the better.  Yes, kids are usually prone more to one learning style, but we are all mixes of all learning style.  We all need hands-on, need to touch, need to hear, need to see.  More and more in the last few years of homeschooling I've realized when I present material in multiples ways, my kids absorb it better and easier.  I like to be able to present our school subjects by audiobooks, reading aloud, by hands-on projects, and yes, by video too.  My kids like being taught by video too sometimes and so have loved getting their hands on Standard Deviants Accelerate.

We received Standard Deviants Accelerate in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are strictly mine.  You can read my disclosure policy for more information.
**Keep reading for a great deal on this course.

Middle School E-Learning:

I've shared here before how homeschooling a 7th grader this year has made me a wee bit nervous.  I don't want to bore him, but I don't want to leave out anything important either.  This is where Standard Deviants Accelerate has been a lifesaver for us.  We started using the supplement program this summer with Noah.  It's a middle/high school supplemental program, providing lectures, notes, videos, quizzes, and more for the following subjects:
  • AP Biology
  • Biology
  • Geology
  • Chemistry
  • Nutrition
  • Arithmetic
  • Fundamental Mathmatics
  • AP Government & Politics
  • AP English
  • English Composition
Since math has always been a sore topic of conversation for my son, we thought we'd try the Algebra and see if he liked this approach.  Each lesson is short and to the point.  There is a video lecture to play with each lesson that also includes the video script scrolling next to the video, like captions, in case he wanted to watch along with that.  There is also a place where Noah can type notes from the lecture as well.  Since he likes to write better than type sometimes, he chose to use a paper and pencil for the notes on his lessons, but it was good to know the option was there to type them. 
As the lessons began, we were both really surprised at just how much information was packed into each video.  It was a lot, but not too much.  They have definitely trimmed the fat and cut right to the chase on these lessons, which is great for kids that get frustrated hearing too many words at once.  Noah was able to keep up just fine and if he needed to pause and rewind the video a few seconds, that was available to do too.

My Favorite Things About This Online Supplement:

  • Easy for kids and parents to navigate.  This program is super easy to log in and get going.
  • Short, to the point lessons.  We are all busy and can't take a long time on each and every subject.  SDA lessons are just the right amount of time for kids this age.
  • Kids get to practice taking notes and taking tests.
  • Course provides extra exposure to subjects of study in a multi-learning style approach.
  • Encourages independent learning.
  • Great back-up plan in case of an emergency in your homeschool and the "teacher" is unable to teach.  Things happen and it's nice to know there's a plan in case we can't do our regular school every day.  This is a great alternative.
Course Pricing:
In my opinion, the prices of these courses are great--especially when you consider all the lessons for each subject that are included.
  • One subject--$99/year or $24.99/month
  • AP courses $14.95/month
Here's the exciting news though...if you're not sure if you want to sign up yet, Standard Deviant Accelerate is offering S I X months free to A L L 14 of their subjects for a limited time only.  This deal will expire on November 15th, so don't delay in signing up! Find out more about how to sign up for Standard Deviant Accelerate's promotion by following this link.

For more updates on SDA, you can also follow them on Facebook and Pinterest.
I hope you enjoy it as much as we have!  What do you do to change up your daily subjects?

September 8, 2014

Dueling it Out: Scheduled vs. Relaxed Homeschooling

Today is the first day of school at our house and I'm super excited to get started.  It's been a solid month of planning and organizing and I feel ready to go.  Although this is my approach--the super-crazy-planning approach, I know this isn't for everyone.  The brilliant minds at iHomeschool Network have planned a series of posts today from us, their bloggers, to explain two sides to a certain subject; co-ops or no co-ops, boxed curriculum or a hodgepodge, and in my case...having a scheduled homeschool or a wee bit more relaxed type.  Well, I'm sure you know which side of the spectrum I land on.

If you've been around here for long, you've probably guessed I'm a little high-strung in the lists and organizing department.  So it's probably no surprise that I'm the same way when I'm getting ready for school for the year--there's a whole lotta lists and a whole lotta scheduling going on around here.  I've created more charts in the last few weeks than I will admit, but just trust me...they're there. 
I have learned a lot about scheduling over the years.  Like how if I plan to get done 14,000 things in one day it's not going to happen or how planning 6 field trips in one week doesn't exactly allow for much math getting done.  I've learned to let there be a schedule but let it be flexible.  But in order for there to be a flexible schedule, there first has to be a schedule.  So then there's me, armed with a Sharpie, ready to sketch up an organized chart faster than you can say Franklin Covey. 
I do have a method to my madness and I do have several good reasons why I choose to organize our days this way.
Scheduling provides a way for me to visually see how we'll fit it all in.  I write down lists of what I want to cover, what activities we're signed up for, and what other obligations we have.  I also take into consideration leaving time for free time and I think kids need a good amount of free time during the day to create and play on their own without my supervision.  When I sketch it all out and see how it will work, I'm able to see what needs to be pared down or nixed.  I have cut out several things this year just because with four kids life just gets too busy.  

I am able to plan in free days or catch up days.  Even with a schedule, I know it doesn't go as planned all the time.  When I am planning my lessons, I make sure to include blank days with nothing going on.  I do this every few weeks to give either just a free day or a day to catch up on some of the things we may have fallen behind on.
I know when we'll begin and when we'll end.  Having an end goal in mind is super motivating--even for kids.  If my kids know on May 22nd, we'll start our summer break, they're going to get more excited about spring.  For me, it gives me a way to see when we need to buckle down and finish the quarter strong.

Even though I like to have a schedule to stay organized, I also like to keep things reeeeallly uncomplicated...simple is key.  I think the simplicity of my Lesson Planner is it's biggest draw.  Click HERE to read more about it.
Scheduling gives me a realistic picture of how the day will go.  Call me bossy, but I'm just not the best at going with the flow...unless that is, I created the current, right? So having a daily schedule gives me an idea of how the day will go.  When people ask me the typical question to ask homeschool moms: "How do you do it all??"  I can honestly say, I don't--I just do a little bit everyday and that seems to keep my house decently cleaned and all the kids fed, which is all I can hope for at this point in my busy life. 
I posted recently about our Fall Plan and how our week will look.  I do this because I need a visual.  How am I going to get the laundry all done? When will I find time to take care of the gross bathrooms?  I like to have a daily schedule to answer those questions...realistically.  I know I can't do everything I need to do in one day, but if I plan a little bit each day, it feels a lot better than planning on accomplishing a whole list and checking off two things.  Besides school, my daily list looks like this:

My kids know what to expect. In other words, I try to use as little explaining as I can...go do this, go do that.  I spend a lot of time with my kids.  A lot.  They get tired of listening to me, I'm sure.  I'm also sure that after a while, my voice starts to sound like Charlie Brown's know the sound.
They have a chore chart, and a chart of their classes, and a chart of afternoon tasks they can do to keep them busy.  I try to do this to create a habit of being productive and independence instead of having to ask me what to do next all the time. 
For my own personal sanity, I'm reeeeally trying to get better at menu planning this school year.  This summer totally killed me in the meal-planning department.  My friend and I combined forces and each planned half the month's meals, so I have September all sketched out.  That feels good.  You can see my menu planning printables on this post.

Here is what our daily class schedule will look like this year.  It looks like a lot, but we will only take about 20-30 minutes on each box, so really its easier than it looks.

A schedule provides our family a rhythm.  When I say we have a routine, I don't mean that to say we have a rigid itinerary that everyone has to follow, or else.  For us, having a daily schedule gives our family a natural rolling rhythm to our day.  We know what's next, we know what's coming.   We know that gymnastics are on Thursday and we'll start dinner when we get home.  We know that the lights go out at 8:30 so we can get a good night's rest for the next full day.  We know that school is through at lunch time and the kids are pretty free for the afternoon to do their own individual tasks.  Having a schedule provides a sense of comfort and that feels really good.
Of course, I know that this type of day-to-day living isn't for everyone.  You can read the other side of the story-Eva shares on having a more relaxed day-here.  You can also see the list of Dueling Blog Posts here. 
When it comes to scheduling, which side of the spectrum are you on? Are you more scheduled or more relaxed? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

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