3 Steps to Take Advantage of Black Friday Sales

Posted by on Nov 11, 2015 in Homeschool, Homeschool Helps, Sale | 0 comments

The first few years I started homeschooling I always purchased curriculum right before the “first day of school”. Not one book was ever on sale.

A few years passed until I realized curriculum companies are businesses and function like a true business. Therefore they put their items on sale at certain times of the year. It’s important to keep track of these times so I can benefit from their discounts.

3 Steps to Take Advantage of Black Friday Sales

It’s November and we all know Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving. As you plan out all those Christmas present purchases and big screen tv buys be sure to add next year’s homeschool curriculum to your shopping list.

3 Steps to Take Advantage of Black Friday Sales!
1. Decide which brands you have loved this year and will buy from again. Make a list of these brands.

2. Follow those brands and homeschool companies online. Most of these companies have social media accounts (and promote their upcoming sales throughout the year plus offer random giveaways). If they’re not on Facebook or Twitter sign up to receive their emails. This way you will be aware of what they are discounting and by how much.

3. Contact the company if they are not promoting an upcoming Black Friday Sale, and ask if they plan to offer a sale discount. You can do this on their FB page or email them directly. If they do not offer a Black Friday Sale inquire if they offer a Spring Sale or Back to School Sale. Write these dates down and purchase curriculum then.

You can save a lot of money on curriculum if you buy throughout the year during sales!
Happy Black Friday Shopping!!

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5 Ways to Make Your Homeschool Day Easier

Posted by on Oct 19, 2015 in Homeschool, Homeschool Helps, Parenting | 0 comments

Parenting is not easy. Getting clean laundry into the drier is not easy for me. Teaching Pre-Algebra and asking my son to “show the work” is not easy. Finding matching socks …. still, not easy.

You might feel like homeschool is not easy. I wish there were a magical red button we could all hit for easy to appear. Why focus on easy – why not shoot for easier?

5 ways to make your homeschool day easier

5 Ways to Make Your Homeschool Day Easier:

1. have a plan.
I like the idea of being flexible and spontaneous, but really it doesn’t help when I have to teach 2nd grade math. It’s not ideal when I have promised a science experiment and have no idea what materials I need. Before you hop in bed, write down a few things you’d like to accomplish tomorrow. It doesn’t have to be exact page numbers. But give yourself some type of plan. When I didn’t plan our day we were less likely to finish projects, stay on course, or even have any consistency.

2. prep lunch during breakfast.
When I have to stop a lesson because of growling stomachs, prep a meal, and clean up – it’s hard to get back into our lesson. I’m more likely to say, “let’s finish it tomorrow” then get back into school mode. I have noticed the days I made sandwiches early and tossed them into the refrigerator I felt less stressed. Those days we ended up grabbing lunch and heading right outside to enjoy a picnic. I would bring a book and we’d finish school outside.

3. everything has a home.
We do our lessons at a 6 person dining room table. Wanna guess how many spots are clean enough to sit down to right now? Zero! Someone always pushes books, papers, and supplies around to the far edges until there is absolutely no room to sit down at the table. When we put books, papers, and supplies away – right away, the table is always clean and available for a new lesson. Everything has a home, so put it away sooner than later.

4. one day a week.
My wonderful boys always have fun ideas … at the absolute worst times. The 2nd grader wants to draw seahorses while learning subtraction. Yet when he’s “bored” he can’t find anything to do. I started a little “idea wall” where the boys can add anything they want to try or do and one day a week they can pick a project to work on from the wall. Rather than trying to squish something into a day when we’re running around or busy – we just wait until our “one day a week” time. I noticed this idea was far better than always having to say “no”.

5. self editing.
Let your children check their own work. Show them the correct answers and let them mark their answers wrong. This was far easier on me when my 6th grade son could mark his math tests and I could help my 1st grader sound out blends. I’d quickly scan his paper but it was a great opportunity to show him I trusted him. I do believe this is also a good practice for children to start being accountable and taking responsibility.

Okay, I do have a #6, but most of us are not going to like it!

6. set an earlier bedtime, mom.
How can a mom feel refreshed and ahead of the game when she’s always running behind trying to catch up? When we stay up late we’re just doing ourselves a disservice. I promise all those shows are available to watch the next day on the internet. Sure, we have nights when we stay up late to finish something, go somewhere, or whatever … but I’m talking about a regular habit of getting to sleep at a decent hour in order to wake up ready for your day. I would stay up until 2am, crawl into bed, think for another hour on some great hands-on project, and then slide out of bed angry at 7am trying to smile at chipper happy children. Worse, I always forgot what I had been thinking about before I feel asleep. As much as I realize we have to put children to bed at a decent hour … I have to put me to bed at a decent hour!

Not tired yet? During the day: go workout. Pull weeds. Stop drinking caffeine after lunch. Diffuse lavender. Drink something warm and relaxing. Turn the lights down. Play relaxing music. Take a bubble bath.



Keeping track of your child's homeschool work for you!

Keeping track of your child’s homeschool work for you!




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15 Activities to Make Apples Fun

Posted by on Oct 12, 2015 in Homeschool | 0 comments

An apple a day keeps … the homeschooler at play.  It’s officially fall which means it’s apple season. Now that apples are going to be less expensive why not grab an extra bag for a few educational apple activities?!

15 activities to make apples fun

15 Activities to Make Apples Fun

1. Take a trip to your local apple orchard.
2. Taste test apples – learn about the sense of taste and the tongue.
3. Sketch an apple’s “life cycle”.
4. Read: The Apple and The Arrow.
5. Compare apple seeds to other fruit seeds.
6. Find out if apples sink or float.
7. Label the parts of an apple.
8. Learn about Johnny Appleseed.
9. Make an erupting apple. (cut out the inside and mix vinegar w/ baking soda)
10. Read, Ten Apples Up On Top.
11. Make faux stained glass apples.
12. Create apple stamps with apple halves and paint an apple tree.
13. Discover the history of apples. (dating back to 1400’s – long before Johnny Appleseed)
14. Learn about circumference by measuring an apple.
15. Use as many adjectives as you can to describe an apple.

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Best Tools for a Homeschool Mom

Posted by on Sep 7, 2015 in Homeschool, Homeschool Helps, Homeschooling Basics, Parenting | 0 comments

If you are like my homeschooling friends I know you might have asked yourself, what are the best tools for a homeschool mom?

When my husband brought home the idea to homeschool I had no idea how to do it. Granted, I had a few elementary education internships in college, but I felt completely unprepared and unequipped for the road ahead.

After seven years of homeschooling I believe there are a few “tools” that have helped us along the way. If we all had a homeschool toolbox, what would you put in yours?

best tools for a homeschool mom

Best Tools for a Homeschool Mom:

1. Prayer Life. I believe the best thing we can do for our children is to pray for them. Often I focused on praying for myself – Lord get me through this.  {you might need that one through math} But really I should be praying for my children more than asking God to give me a “good school day”.

2. Flexibility. Homeschooling can be hard when we chain ourselves to curriculum that does not work, activities that do not benefit, and overstuffed schedules. Evaluation and change is healthy for a homeschool to thrive.

3. Listening Ear. Communication is vital to family dynamics. If we’re only willing to lecture lecture lecture we shut down the hearts in our homes. Be willing to listen.

4. Grace. Mistakes happen. Messes are created. We all get things wrong. Do not rule your homeschool with an iron unforgiving fist but rather a grace giving heart.

5. Creativity. Do more than “school at home”. Really dig into lessons, activities, and opportunities to learn as much as possible. There are numerous resources now for any one of us to be creative. Thank You Pinterest! {a note about Pinterest, spend time finding great ideas rather than comparing and feeling bad about yourself}

6. Intentionality. Trash busy work and focus on the things that will bring value and benefit to your home. Be intentional with your time and efforts. There are only so many games of Guess Who left!

7. Schedules. It’s been proven most children perform best with routines. We had less friction when we shared our schedules and expectations with our children. I was never an “on the second” type of drill Sergent, but we did do the same things about the same time.

8. Firm No. Be willing to say no to the extra’s that would require you to spend less time focused on your family. If it’s another activity outside of the house or even a late night television show stealing your sleep. Guard your time and your family with a firm no.

9. Easy Smile. Red x’s on spelling tests can feel like the end of the world to a first born perfectionist. Offer an easy smile. During math, chores, dinner, and bedtime routines – let your wrinkles be those of joy.

10. Rest. You are not a machine. Find time to rest and fill up your heart before you can fill up your children’s hearts. No one wants to diagram sentences when they are exhausted. Set a healthy example ~ do not allow weariness and busy be the habits your children pick up.

Keeping track of your child's homeschool work for you!

Keeping track of your child’s homeschool work for you!

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Planning Back to School

Posted by on Aug 3, 2015 in Homeschool, Homeschool Helps, Homeschooling Basics | 0 comments

While you are enjoying your summer break you might have seen some “back to school” banners creep into the grocery store. Maybe a few clothing stores are promoting their upcoming back to school sales. You might have already been asked a dozen times “when do you start back to school”.

planning back to school

back to school … back to school … back to school

The chant is starting low, can you hear it? It will become loud as each relaxing summer day ends. Are you ready to start planning back to school? You might want to prepare a bit better than I did one year.  Tired of lazy days and endless television shows, I grabbed books and declared it was the first day of school.

You would think I announced we were moving to China.  The boys did not respond well to the abrupt change in their summer.  We had no supplies, no schedule, and it all fizzled out before the week finished. Rather than spring the first day of school on any child and yourself, start planning back to school before it happens.

benjamin franklin quote

Planning Back to School:
1. Pick a date to start. If you go along with your county school schedule, plan around a family vacation, or just ready to get back to the books – pick a start date. If you have ever trained for a race you know the day of the race. You are well prepared and anticipating it. 5k or 26 miles – you know your start date.
2. Announce your start date. Let your students know when school is starting. Everyone should be prepared for the first day of a new start ~ you included! Every time I leave the dentist office they give me a “reminder card”, there are no surprises come cleaning day.
3. Be prepared. Gather the things you need to know before you start. It sounds funny but sure doesn’t feel funny when you have to end a science lab in the middle of the experiment because you have to run to Walgreens for materials. {now is the time to keep an eye on curriculum, crayola, paper products, and other sales}. 
4. Be a Show-Off. As each Amazon box arrived we excitedly opened them together checking out the new homeschool supplies.  The boys saw what the new school year would include. “Yes, you’ll be using this microscope this year.” Guess who wanted to start school before I was ready?
5. Celebrate. Plan to do something fun to kick off the new year. A change in breakfast {first day of school donuts are a hit here}, picnic with other homeschool friends, or a Redbox movie for the afternoon ~ plan some new school year fun. Rather than wear yourself down with hosting a presidential event; keep it small and meaningful (unless it’s your first year or last year homeschooling. Then make a big deal out of it).
6. Schedule a break. Pick out your rest stops before you start this journey. Everyone appreciates the highway sign “last rest stop for 32 miles”. Be flexible with your breaks, but plan on having them.

Enjoy your summer but be mindful to start planning for the new school year.  With all of that planning be sure to plan in some flexibility. We all need a bit of room to breathe and be prepared for the unexpected.

Keeping track of your child's homeschool work for you!

Keeping track of your child’s homeschool work for you!

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Tips to Make Family Vacations Educational

Posted by on Jun 22, 2015 in Educational Travel, Homeschool, RoadSchool, Travel | 0 comments

make family vacations educationalDo you want to add a little learning to your next family vacation? You do not have to pull out the school books, planners, or buy any new curriculum! All you need is a little time to plan before you leave the house.

If you are going cross country camping or just visiting grandma, incorporate one of these fun educational opportunities.

Tips to Make Family Vacations Educational:
1. Google your destination’s history. Find any “historical landmarks” within the area or along the route you are taking. Stop by and visit them. You might stumble upon the town’s first school house, an old rail car, or a pioneer cabin.
2. Google “animals native to …” the region you are visiting. Print an animal scavenger hunt. Or bring along Field Guides.
3. Learn the geographical region of the area. Plan to spend some time discovering the mountains, valleys, peninsulas, caves, etc. Bring a ziplock back to take home treasures: rocks, shells, leaves, and such.
4. Print a blank map of the state(s) for your older learners to color in as they travel along. Label rivers, lakes, mountains, cities, and capitals. Laminate the map for younger learners and let them use a dry erase marker.
5. Find a local tour guide or park ranger. Guides are a wealth of information and they love to answer questions.
6. Participate in the National Park’s Junior Ranger Program {full list of participating parks}.
7. Find a great classic that is set in the place you are visiting and read it together as a family. Check out our list of over 50 Classics!

It never fails. After some vacations while I am unpacking I kick myself for missing out on a learning opportunity. But the truth is ~ I was busy enjoying my vacation! Do not add stress or regret as a vacation memory. Wrap up your great family vacations with some easy hands-on learning opportunities once you get back home.

Lots to Learn at The River Discovery Center in Paducah

When You Get Home:
1. Learn about an animal. Print Notebooking Fairy’s {free} animal classification page.
2. Create a Salt Dough Map of the place.
3. Construct a shoe-box diorama.
4. Write a short story adventure of the vacation.
5. Paint, sketch, or draw a the favorite thing about the vacation.
6. Build the location on Minecraft or with Legos!

Staying close to home this summer? Give your family a Home State Challenge. It may take you longer than the summer to complete, but what fun to get to know your own home state?!
1. Visit every state park in your state.
2. Visit every historical landmark in your state.
3. Visit every botanical garden in your state.
4. Visit your state border(s) and the Welcome Centers.
5. Learn facts about your home state, State Facts for StudentsPanama City Florida

Looking for hands-on geography fun? Follow our Geography Pinterest Board for ideas.


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