Our Summer Homeschool Schedule

It is warming up here in Minnesota, which means we want to spend more time outside. But, we also homeschool year-round, so how do we do this? It is effortless to make a few changes to our homeschool to allow us to be outside while still getting school done.

*I have used affiliate links in this post. Read here for more information.

Lessen the Work

The first thing I like to do when it comes to schooling in the warmer weather is to lessen the amount of work we do each day. We don’t need to complete all the boxes each day since we do our school all year-round. 

Monday’s our focus is Geography/History. We may add in more if we have a rainy or icky day, but this is all we do on Mondays.

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, we work on Language Arts and Math. These are the main topics that I want to put a lot of focus on. I know my kids will self-learn anything else that they find interesting, but these subjects are needed for all that other learning.

Friday is our “fun day.” This is the day I will focus on Nature Walks or a fun nature unit study. While we love doing unit studies together, with the warmer months, we put those aside and just work on the basics.

Our Journey Westward

Take the School Outside

This might sound silly, but take your school outside with you! The fresh air will help the kids, and sometimes we even learn more by being outside. We have had some great memories while taking our school out of the house.

What about basing your lessons on things outdoors? We plan our gardens, learn about what grows best to what, and get the seeds started. This will lead to more learning and planning that you won’t find in a textbook.

There are so many fun ways to learn while outside, no matter the age! Getting out for nature walks is a great way to do science. We love the different ideas for nature walks from Our JourneyWestward.

Summer Reading Program

Another fun part of our summer homeschool schedule is the summer reading program from our local library. We like to walk up to the library when the weather allows, so we can do a nature walk on our way to get books. We get our exercise, but we also get fresh air, learn, and get books.

The summer reading programs are a lot of fun for both the kids and mom. It really makes reading more fun when you get rewarded for it! I know my local library includes the fun stuff for the parents also.

For those of you who homeschool year-round, does your schedule change during the warmer months?

Using Unit Studies to Excite Your Kids

unit study

There are so many options available when it comes to homeschooling and how to do it. We have tried quite a few homeschooling styles over the years and have found that unit studies make our kids excited to learn.

*Affiliate links have been used in this post. Read more right here.*

What Are Unit Studies

Unit studies are not like textbook learning. You will not have a pile of textbooks for each child. Usually, you won’t even have any textbooks at all. Of course, you will have books, but mainly just books on the topics you are currently studying.

Unit studies are topical studies that focus on one topic but include all the subjects your kids need to learn. These subjects include language arts, science, history/geography, art, etc. Each of these subjects will focus on the topic you are learning while still covering the skills your child needs to know.

Typically, a unit study would include a short lesson to start the day. Mom or dad would read/talk about this with all children. After the main lesson is discussed, each child would work on worksheets related to their learning level. 

unit study

How to Pick Topics

There are many different ways to pick your topics for unit studies. You can sit down at the beginning of the year and plan out unit studies based on the seasons and holidays. You can plan on topics that you feel are most important. Or, you can sit down with your kids and find out what they want to learn about.

Allowing your children to have a say in the topic they will be learning about allows them to be excited about learning. This means that they will want to dig deeper and learn more about the different topics. 

We have done a few different unit studies where I have chosen the topic. These unit studies have turned out boring for the kids, and they drag on. When I allow the kids to have a say in what topic we are learning about, they get excited and spend free time still learning more about the topic of focus.

Benefits of Unit Studies

You can sit down with all your kids when using unit studies simultaneously. You are no longer trying to figure out how to schedule your time around multiple kids and their individual studies. This is a massive thing for me. I love knowing that everyone will get their lessons done simultaneously. This allows for all of us to have more free time to do things we want to do.

Watching my kids help each other on worksheets and projects is one of the things I love the most about unit studies in our homeschool. Working on unit studies together as a family also allows us to bond as a family. We are all learning about the same topic, so we can all help each other.

Another great benefit to unit studies is the money I save each year on our homeschool curriculum. When I am only working on the unit studies, and most of our learning comes from online or books we find at the library, I don’t have to worry about three different science curricula or three different levels of language arts. The only thing I need to add to our unit studies is math.

Where to Find Unit Studies

There are many different places to find unit studies. It just depends on which style, theme, and topic you are looking for. I have tried a few different ones and will share my favorites here.

We are currently working on a unit study from Gather ‘Round Homeschool. These unit studies are Christian-based and do talk about God. These unit studies will need a teacher’s guide and a student workbook for each level you are teaching. I opt to grab the digital all grades package. This way, I can reuse the units later on when the kids are at different levels.

I have also used unit studies from UnitStudy.com. These unit studies are a little different from the ones at Gather ‘Round Homeschool. You just need one for all your students, and they complete either the lower level or upper-level work. You, as the parent, can add more as you think they need. There are a lot of links within the learning to different websites. I do love that we can supplement the reading, but sometimes this can get a little difficult to navigate with the kids around the kitchen table.

Another favorite place that I grab unit studies from is Our Journey Westward. These are Charlotte Mason-based unit studies, which I love. Many of the studies are nature-based, but they still include all the other subjects. Our Journey Westward also has live nature studies twice a month. These are so fun for the kids to interact with Cindy and other students worldwide.

Our Journey Westward

Using Unit Studies to Excite Your Children

After trying different schooling methods, I have decided that unit studies work in our homeschool. The kids enjoy them and want to learn more; that is something I can’t argue about! There are so many great choices out with different styles of unit studies, but the best part is, if you can’t find one that works for your family, you can make your own!

Have you used unit studies in your homeschool? What did or didn’t you like about them?


IQ Circuit – A Game Review

games in homeschool

If you have been around Hopkins Homeschool for a bit, you know that we love to supplement our learning with games. Education doesn’t have to be boring, so we love to add games that make our brains work a little differently. We had the chance to review IQ Circuit from Timberdoodle. Check out what we liked most about this game!

learning with games

We received this game for free from Timerbdoodle in exchange for our honest review. We were not required to write a positive review. Find out more here.

What Is It

IQ Circuit is a single-player game that includes a case, ten double-sided game pieces, and an instruction book. 120 different challenges range from starter (easy) to wizard (expert). The age range for this game is 8 to adult. The goal of IQ Circuit is to create paths that will connect the dots.

IQ Circuit is a game that will help with concentration, problem-solving, and spatial insight. The instruction book starts by showing you some of the pieces and where they go, but by the time you get to the wizard (expert) level, you will only see the dots, and you need to figure out the pieces and placement. Each game progressively gets a little more complicated.

games in homeschool

How We Used It

Game usage in our homeschool doesn’t have a set schedule. If you get bored, you grab a game. You grab a game if you want something to do while listening to mom read. These single-player games come in handy for things like this. 

Ray Ray was the main player of IQ Circuit. He has been my crazy, outside-the-box thinker since he started walking, and I needed something for him to challenge his mind. He would sit down with the game while I read our daily lesson and worked through the different challenges.

I liked how Ray Ray would play IQ Circuit because he didn’t just go in order of the challenges. He would start with an easy challenge to warm up, but each challenge would be a more challenging level after that. 

games to learn

What We Thought 

We love IQ Circuit! We have a small collection of games from Smart Games, and we were thrilled to add IQ Circuit to our collection. These games hold up to multiple uses and multiple children. While they are simple to understand, they also challenge our minds.

I can also personally say that while this game was intended for the kids, I have found myself taking a break from my daily routine and playing this game also.

IQ Circuit is available from Timberdoodle and is included in their Ninth-Grade Curriculum package.

What are some fun games you have included in your homeschool?


Intro to Filmmaking – A Review

online film school

Everywhere you look, you can see films around you. You can stream them on many different platforms. It is no wonder why kids are falling in love with making their films. Intro to Filmmaking from Film School for Teens is a great way to support your kid’s interest in filmmaking.

online film school

We were able to try and review Intro to Filmmaking from Timberdoodle. We were not required to write a positive review. You can find out more right here.

What Is It

Intro to Filmmaking is an online course for middle to high school students. This is a self-paced course, but it does come with an idea of what to do each week to complete the sections.

high school filmmaking course

There are 18 sections to this course, each section has four different items to complete. The items are usually the lesson, the assignment, a film report, and a fun film fact. By the end of the course, your child will have not only learned the basics of filmmaking but will have completed a film of their own to enter into a film festival.

There are two different Intro to Filmmaking courses available, the Classic and the Charter. While these are both very similar, the Classic course does mention some faith-based items where the Charter does not.

On top of the online course, there is a workbook that goes with the course. For this review, I did not receive the physical copy of the workbook, but the PDF copy. This workbook goes along with the online lessons, asking questions and enforcing what is talked about during the video lessons.

How We Used It

After looking over everything and seeing how it all works, I let Ray Ray loose with the course. I told him what would need to be done each week, and let him decide when to do what. With the simple guide at the front of his workbook, he didn’t have a hard time at all setting a schedule for himself.

intro to filmmaking

Ray Ray would work through the lessons and corresponding worksheets throughout the week and finish up with the film study over the weekend. All the films were easy to find, whether on a streaming network, at our local library, even in our collection.

The collection of movies that are viewed for the film studies are rated PG to PG13. They are a great collection of films, and I was thrilled to have Ray Ray watching them and thinking of them in a different way other than just watching them. 

What We Thought

I loved this course for Ray Ray. He is my film guy and can tell you the release dates of many movies. To allow him to dig deeper into films and filmmaking was a treat. The questions during the lessons are very thought-provoking, as well as the questions that go along with the film reports.

Since we picked the Classic version, I loved seeing the questions about God and faith during the film reports. I never thought to think of faith during the movie Signs, but I can say it opened my eyes to look at all movies in a new way.

film school

Ray Ray loved that the movies were not boring movies and actual ones that he enjoyed watching. He loved the video lessons and walked away learning a lot. While he wasn’t super excited about actually making a film, he did enjoy learning what does go into making one.

If you have a child who is in love with filmmaking, we highly recommend this course. 


Apple Twist – A Game Review

Baby Girl loves to play games, but sometimes she needs something to keep her busy while I work with the older two. Apple Twist from Smart Games is just the right game for times like this.

*I received a complimentary copy of this game from Timberdoodle in exchange for my honest review. You can find out more right here*


Apple Twist is a four-piece puzzle game made for 1 player at a time. You have the twisting apple game board, and three different colored caterpillars of different lengths. There is also a gamebook with 60 different puzzles to solve ranging from starter up to master.

Apple Twist is recommended for ages 5 and up. Timberdoodle includes this game in their Kindergarten Curriculum Kit. This game is not only fun, but helps with spatial insight, logic, problem-solving, planning, and visual perception. How does it do all that? I am glad you asked!

So, you got Apple Twist, you open the box, now what? Check out your pieces, get familiar with the way they do, and do not move. You want to make sure not to force any of them to move in the ways they are not supposed to. Take a look at the apple. You can see that one side has the numbers 1-5 and the other letters A-E. Once you have done that you are ready to play the game.

Take a look at the first game in the book, you will want to adjust the apple so it says 1, 2, C, 4, and E. This changes the dents on the playing board. You also see where to put the green caterpillar and the starts of the blue and yellow. Now you need to think, plan, and figure out how the blue and yellow caterpillars will fit on the board.

Seems simple right? Not always! As I said, these challenges get harder. By the time you get to the end of the “starter” puzzles, you only see where the caterpillars start, no more helping of where one fully goes. Moving forward, you start to lose the colors, just starting points, until you work up to only one starting point, or none at all!

Baby Girl loves to do puzzles. She has been putting together picture puzzles since she was two. This game was a perfect challenge for her. She mastered the first page of puzzles and loved how they gradually got harder. She was able to build her knowledge and skills little by little after the first initial confidence booster. 

I never really put this in our school schedule, rather I like to leave it open and accessible for her to use whenever she gets “bored” during the day. We actually have a small supply of games from Smart Games that we leave available for the kids to play with.

Knowing that I have this fun game for her to play when she wants makes her happy. Knowing that as she plays this game she is learning new ways to think, plan, and look at problems makes me happy. And this game is simple enough to take with us on the go.

I highly recommend that you grab this game for your kids. It was a hit in our house and I am sure it will be in yours also!


New Year’s Goals, Not Resolutions

It is that time of the year, the time when we start making our new year resolutions. I have always thought of doing resolutions, but end up defeated by the second or third week of the new year. This year. I am going to go with New Year’s Goals.

Goals are something that I can work on little by little. The nice thing with goals is that I can set some big goals for the year, and work on reaching those by setting small goals for each month or quarter.

So, what are my goals for this year? Well, I got this sweet planner from Mary&Martha. I don’t usually grab planners that are set up with different times. I don’t like planning my days like that, but this year I want to be more intentional with my time, so I am going to work on using this planner with the times. 

I also want to work on exercising at least 3-4 times a week. I am going to set a time each day for me to do this. It could be walking outside, walking inside, or circuit training. I figure this will be a healthy thing for me to do. Having a backup plan for when the weather doesn’t let me get outside will help me keep this goal for the year.

Not only am I looking at making goals for me and my self-care, but I am also making some goals for the kids with school. I want them to get used to doing school at the same time each day, so it becomes part of that routine. However, I also want to add some things like handicrafts and extras, so if I do that little by little, they won’t be so overwhelmed by the changes and add ons.

I feel that by making goals instead of resolutions and sitting down to break those bigger goals into smaller goals throughout the year, I will have a better chance at making the changes I want for 2022 without setting myself up for failure.

What do you make in your house, goals or resolutions? Do they work for you? I would love to hear from you in the comments!


A Week of Meals in Hopkins Homeschool

It is the new year, and a great time to work on new goals. I shared what some of mine were in my last post, but another one is to get my kids eating healthier. We eat well, but I know that I can get more healthy options in them. So what do I do? I plan on doing more freezer meals!

**Affiliate links have been used in this post. To learn more, check here.

Why Freezer Meals?

I love doing freezer meals. I can take one day and get all my shopping and meals done and spend the rest of my days actively enjoying or at least participating with the family and what we need to do. I grab recipes from Pinterest, as well as from MyFreezEasy, and will have 2 weeks plus of home-cooked meals ready for me in my freezer.

With freezer meals, all my hard work is done after they are done. So I can take the meal out of the freezer, put it in the crockpot, oven, or instant pot, and forget about it, kind of. I am not hurrying through the day trying to get everything done so that I can focus on cooking supper. I am now able to focus on making something for lunch, or adding some healthy extras to the meal. 

What About Taste?

I know that sometimes people tend to worry about taste when it comes to freezer meals and using the crockpot. I know I wondered at first. But, there is no issue with the taste. I actually feel that this helps the taste come out better. Yes, we have found some meals that come out bland, but those are very rare. We have found way more tasteful meals while using the freezer meals.

How Many at One Time?

When starting the freezer meals, I would recommend starting small. Make one while you are making a current meal. Work your way up. I have done up to 14-20 meals at once, but that was working with my mom and both of us prepping them. This last time a few days ago, I got ten meals made in under 3 hours. Plus, I had my groceries delivered via InstaCart. I know, this kind of defeats my money-saving from making the freezer meals, but it is really cold, so I opted to stay home.

What Did I Make

I sat down and looked through the monthly meals plans on MyFreezEasy. I printed up a few of them, but you can also customize your own monthly plan by looking through all the recipes.

I made the Sausage Ragu (times 2), Rosemary Garlic Pork chops, Honey Mustard Chicken Sandwiches (times 2), Chicken Tortellini, French Onion Chicken, Beef and Bean Burritos (times 2), and Mongolian Beef. That is ten meals, prepped and ready to through in the crockpot, Instant pot, or oven. Now all I have to worry about is making the sides to go with each meal.

Making freezer meals is one of my goals for this new year. I hope that with these I will be able to feed my family and picky eaters healthy meals that don’t make me spend hours in the kitchen each night.

Do you like to make freezer meals? Or do you have any questions about making them? I would love to hear from you in the comments.


Squishy Science – Review of Science Unlocked

Science is a subject that I never really cared for. I love math and reading, but with science, I get bored. However, I have three kids who need me to teach them science for school. What am I supposed to do?

**Affiliate links have been used in this post. To learn more, check out this page.

Science Unlocked is a new program that allows hands-on learning with everything you need in one box for a unit study. There are three levels of learning, Wonder (K-2), Accelerate, and Launch.

Today, I want to talk to you about the Wonder level, The next two days, I will talk about the other two levels, so make sure you come back to check out the others!

An Introduction to Squishy Science – Wonder Level

The Wonder Level is for grades K-2 and each box comes with almost everything you need to complete the experiments. You only really need to just add water. This is perfect for parents like me who don’t usually have the fun supplies available to do the experiments.

The Teacher’s Guide has an optional planning guide to work through the unit. Each activity and learning opportunity is broken down with the time required. Squishy Science will take approximately 6+ hours and 17 days to complete. You can work on changing this up and spreading this out to make this take longer.

While the Teacher’s Guide gives the basics for each lesson, the Student Workbook gives the child all the instructions on what to do for each lesson and experiment. There are color pictures and easy-to-follow instructions. Baby Girl is 6 and was able to do most of the steps by herself with a little help from me. She really loved the independence of learning.

What Did We Learn?

Squishy Science helped give Baby Girl an introduction to the properties and states of matter. She was able to get hands-on experience with how matter can change. We were able to talk about our senses and how they can help us with the physical property of matter. There were fun experiments that helped to form this connection of what she was learning to what she was making. And with things like slime and oobleck, where can you go wrong with science?

What We Thought

Baby Girl loved her science lessons with Science Unlocked and Squishy Science. She had so much fun getting dirty and learning new things about the things she was already interested in. I loved that everything was there and was easy for us to understand. The Squishy Science kit is $36.99 and with all the supplies, I find that very worth it. We were able to use this for a full month of science lessons. We also had the fun slime, stress ball, and other fun experiments that we could play with for days after the lesson was completed.

If you are looking for a fun science unit that will allow your younger students to get their hands into the learning without you running all over for supplies, Squishy Science from the Science Unlocked series is just what you are looking for!



Hobo Hot Dish – Friday Favorite

I am a huge fan of comfort food. Food that brings back memories of great times. This last week I made a meal that brought back a lot of memories from my childhood, Hobo Hotdish.

Hobo Hotdish is a meal that my great-grandparents would make every time the family got together. We would have it on random Sundays when we got together after church, or on holidays when we would gather to celebrate. It is a simple, cheap meal that would feed a crowd.

We were all so young here, and Baby Girl wasn’t even born yet!

I have a family cookbook, one were we have put together all the family recipes so that we will always have a way to make some of our favorite foods. It was in this cookbook that I pulled out the recipe for Hobo Hotdish. I made a few alterations to the meal, using what I have learned through cooking and what I had in the house, but the main recipe is still the same.

Hobo Hotdish


2lbs. ground beef (I browned and drained mine first)

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. pepper

½ cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped celery

3 cups sliced carrots

3 cups sliced raw potatoes

2 cans cream of chicken soup

1 can water



Grease the bottom of a casserole dish (I used a 9×13 pan). Crumble the ground beef on the bottom of the dish. Add the salt and pepper. Layer the vegetables in the dish. Combine the soup and water in a small bowl and mix well. Pour over the casserole. Bake, covered, at 350 degrees for 1 to 2 hours.

This made enough food to feed our family of six a full meal with very little leftovers. If it was made as a potluck meal, I could see it going further. It gave us our meat and veggies in one dish without the need for added sides. And everyone was full!

What is one of your favorite comfort foods that you can remember from growing up?


Dyslexia Gold – Review

I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

Teaching kids to read can be challenging, especially if they have dyslexia. Dyslexia Gold is an online program that can help children with dyslexia or even those who struggle with reading.

Dyslexia Gold is an online program for kids ages 4 through 16. While dyslexia is in the name, it is not needed to benefit from this program. For this review, we received a 12-month family license to the program.

There are multiple parts to Dyslexia Gold. Each of these parts works on a different area of learning. If you want to check for the key indicators of dyslexia in your child, you can use the Dyslexia Screening Test.

Engaging Eyes will work on training your child’s eyes using 3D and 2D activities. We received two different-sized 3D glasses to use with this section. Working on Engaging Eyes is recommended for about 10-15 minutes a day.

Fluency Builder will help the dyslexic brain with fluency. There are three levels, Easy (ages 4-7), Medium (ages 7-9), and Hard (ages 9+). Ten minutes a day will help increase speed, accuracy, and comprehension.

Reading Unlocked is for ages up to 7. This section is phonics-based and will help children learn to read.

Spelling Tutor is a spelling help for anyone. Your child will read a passage and work on practicing spelling words that they have trouble with.

Times Table Tutor will help your child with multiplication facts up to 12s.

Each of these sections will help with early intervention as well as catch-up intervention. While this is helping your child with reading, your child will actually be playing different activities in each section. More than 10-15 minutes per day is not recommended and your child will be told to come back tomorrow when they hit those time limits.

There were other families who put different sections to use with their children. Check out those reviews right here.

Dyslexia Gold