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!

Signature

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.

Signature

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!

 

Signature

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

Ingredients:

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

 

Directions:

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?

Signature

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

High School Solution – Review

I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

I have done homeschooling high school before. I was nervous, scared that I was going to screw it up. When I got the chance to review The High School Solution from The HomeScholar LLC, I jumped at this opportunity. I was ready to be prepared this time around!

What Is It

The High School Solution is an online program. There is a video training session with slides that go along with it. You could also download the audio or the slides, whatever works for you. You get lifetime access to this program so that you can use it with current and future children. Along with that, you will get four additional monthly trainings with resource packs.

With your online training program, you also get a notes page for those who love to take notes while they listen. You can listen on your computer or your smartphone. I found myself using my phone since I could move around while listening. You also get templates to help you plan out your high school years with your child.

What I Thought

I liked listening to Lee Binz talk about homeschooling high school. She gave me the confidence to know that I could do this again with the kids left in my home. The main thing I took away from the get-go was to plan for each child to go to college even if they don’t think they want to go. That wasn’t the only thing I learned, though; it was just the thing that stuck out the most. 

Lee also talked about planning and what to focus on each year. High school is not a swing by the seat of your pants education, which is the scary part for us parents. Lee talks us through the individual subjects that need to be covered and how to plan the lessons out, how to keep records for high school, and even how to grade your children.

I really appreciated the way things were broken down by year, even beginning in middle school, to help plan for a successful time homeschooling high school. All the little tidbits of information on the templates and the help with grading are very helpful. I also like that there is information on how to give high school credits. All of this information is in one place and you won’t have to spend days searching online.

If you have a middle school child and plan to homeschool all the way to graduation, I highly recommend this resource from The HomeScholar LLC.

Make sure to check out all the reviews of all the different programs and resources available on The HomeScholar right here.

Homeschool High School to College with The HomeScholar

Help Your Kids Learn & Love the Bible – Book Review

I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

As a Christian parent, my goal in raising my children is all about making sure they know and love God. The best way to do this is to read the bible to them daily. But sometimes, it can be challenging. Danika Cooley gives ideas in her book Help Your Kids Learn and Love the Bible, published by Bethany House.

What It Is

Help Your Kids Learn & Love the Bible is a paperback book that is just about 190 pages long. There are three parts and 11 chapters, along with an introduction and conclusion.

After the introduction, you start the first part; You’re the Leader. Here is where you will learn about making the Bible approachable for your kids of all ages. How to get a good start so that you can finish strong, and finding the actual time to put your plan of reading the Bible happen.

The second part of this book gets you into your Faithful Reading. Here the chapters are Who Wrote This Thing Anyway, Keep the Message in View, A Library of Books, and Profitable Discussion.

In the final part of the book, A Daily Walk, you will read Reading the Word Together, Hide the Word in Your Child’s Heart, Praying the Word Together, and Study the Word When You’re Not Feeling it.

How We Used It

This was a book for me to read. While I have taught my kids about God and the Bible, we haven’t had a faithful daily Bible reading time. Sure, we talked about the Bible, we prayed together, we knew and loved God, but actually sitting down and reading the Bible was not a thing we did.

I took Danika’s tips in this book and started using them to help us regularly dig into the Bible. We started with reading a chapter in Proverbs until we found a way to dig into the BIble daily together.

We also decided to focus on memorizing Bible verses. The kids would do this when they were little, using the hand motions and all of that. Only, as they got older, I wouldn’t press it much as I should. We got back into memorizing the Bible, and with an entire chapter on ideas on helping memorize, it made me happy.

Whether you are a homeschooling parent, or just a Christian parent looking to help your child learn from and love the Bible, this book is for you. I wasn’t the only one to read this book, check out the other reviews right here.

Bethany House Publishers

Fermenting Food with Fermentools – Review

I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

I grew up with my great grandparents always having some fruit or vegetable from the garden on their table. I loved having that fresh food available all the time, especially when the garden was covered in snow. I can do the same thing for my kids now with Fermentools and the starter set.

What Is It

The starter set comes with 1 of each: a Stainless Steel lid, glass fermentation weight, airlock, rubber stopper, rubber canning gasket, Himalayan powdered salt, and instructions. You will just need to grab yourself a wide mouth jar, water, and whatever food you want to ferment. I have done asparagus, cucumbers, and cabbage. I had and still have some trial and error, but that is just learning something new.

There are some great recipes included in your starter set. You can also find many great recipes online. All you need to do is figure out which ones you want first!

How We Used It

While this isn’t a homeschool resource, we used it as a part of working in the kitchen with mom. I was always helping my great grandparents with canning and even making saurkraut before I could walk! I want my kids to know how to preserve vegetables they grew or even had to buy from the store.

I love fermented asparagus. They taste like a pickle, crisp and refreshing. I love to make a few jars of this every year. Not only that, but I need to have saur kraut in the house. However, the store-bought stuff just never tastes like what grandpa would make. I am the only one who will eat it, and I don’t have room for a big crock to ferment the cabbage in. Fermentools allows me to make my grandpa’s saur kraut in small batches just for me.

What We Thought

I love Fermentools. I got a starter kit last year and proceeded to grab an entire six-pack. When given the chance to review this product again, I was thrilled. This is one item that I never thought I needed but now can’t live without. We all know those items!

If you want to make fermented foods or drinks, but you don’t have much room in your house, Fermentools is what you need. You can make several jars of different foods all at the same time. 

While I only did a few things during this review period, you can find what others made and thought of Fermentools right here.

Fermenting Food Made Easy with Fermentools

CTCMath – Review

I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

Math is a tricky topic in my house. I love math, and it was my favorite subject as a child. My children cry about math. Finding a math curriculum that they enjoy doing has been a hit-or-miss experience. We had the opportunity to try a 12-month subscription to CTCMath. I wasn’t going to stress if this didn’t work, but I was pleasantly surprised by what my kids had to say!

CTCMath is an online math curriculum for grades K-12. You will need a computer and internet access to use this program. Once your child is set up, they log in and complete their lessons each day.

Each lesson starts with a short video that explains the topic they are learning about. The students get to hear how to do the assignment and see visuals of what is being taught. This teaching style reminds me of sitting in the classroom and seeing what the teacher was talking about, not just reading or hearing what I am supposed to learn.

Once the video is done, the students are given some questions to answer. My kids loved doing these questions online and getting instant feedback on whether they solved it correctly or had it wrong. You also have the option of printing a worksheet and solving the problems with a pencil and paper. I may use this as they progress into more complicated problems, but right now, the kids love just doing the questions online.

Now, there are two ways for your child to know what to do each day. The first way is that you assign them weekly tasks with due dates. They would log in and see what needs to be done and complete them. The other way is to let them pick the topic they want to learn about that day and complete it.

I opted to let my kids pick the topics they wanted to learn about each day. I wanted to give them some freedom over their math lessons, which was the perfect way to do that. I keep them within their grade level at this time and just let them pick. So far, they seem delighted with this and have not argued about doing math each day.

When you are looking through the different topics within each grade level and feel that your child may know all of this already, you can have them take a diagnostic test on the material. There are three different levels to these tests. If they complete and pass the test, you can allow them to skip the topic. I used this to see what they knew within each topic and guide them to work on the lessons they struggled with. 

Within my parent dashboard, I can see when each child last logged in, what lessons they completed, and their score. I can also assign the tasks if I feel like doing that on my parent dashboard and seeing how many lessons they have completed and their overall grade.

Another benefit with CTCMath is the reports that you can print up. I can go into each student, see the detailed report of what they have been working on, and print them up as a record for their math for the year. I don’t have to worry about keeping all the details because CTCMath does it for me.

One aspect of CTCMath that we have not used yet is the games. They have Speed Skills, Times Tables, and Swap Pieces. These games allow your child to practice different math skills. Swap Pieces is the most difficult of these games, but it also looks entertaining to me. These games will be something we add to our weekly math time.

While I did not have any expectations for CTCMath with my picky kids, I am thrilled to see them enjoying doing math lessons again. Not only are they enjoying math, but I also find it easier for me to keep track of their math grades and progress each week.

We were not the only family to try CTCMath in our home; check out these other reviews.
Online Homeschool Math with CTCMath

Time Travelers: The Civil War – Review

I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

My kids don’t like boring history books. They want to learn history with their hands on it. Doing fun activities instead of reading a book is an excellent way for my kids to remember what we are learning. We used Time Travelers: The Civil War from Home School in the Woods with Ray Ray over the last few weeks.

Time Travelers US History Studies are theme studies based on different events that happened in the United States. I know Ray Ray loves anything with action, so we went with the Civil War study. Everything we got for the review was in digital format, but you could also order the CD version.

There are 25 lessons in this study, and you can spread them out how you would like. You can do one lesson a day for five weeks, like the suggested schedule shows, or you can do fewer lessons a week. We opted to do lessons every other day since that is how we split up our history and science courses.

Each day, we have a little bit of reading that will talk about the theme for the day. We can follow this up with different fun activities. We currently have a newspaper from the times that we add to periodically. As we do the various activities, we add them to a lapbook to store away in our portfolio. These lapbooks are also a great way to go back and review what we have learned throughout the year.

With this study, you get the PDFs of what you need, but you will have to supply the paper, file folder (for your lapbook), and other supplies. You will be in charge of printing everything for this study. That is fine for us because of our printer setup, and I like that I will be able to use this again when Little Miss is learning about American History.

These studies are geared for grades 3-8. They are adaptable to the ages by adding or taking away different activities. With Ray Ray being on the older side of the recommended age, I had him do more of the extended activities, but I know when Little Miss does this for the first time, she won’t do as much.

I enjoy that the Lesson Plan Schedule shows all the different activities that can be done with each lesson. I can have that in front of me while I go and print all the various pages. There is also a Lesson Projects page for each lesson. This page will detail the different projects and explain how to print the projects to make them turn out correctly.

The one thing about this study from Home School in the Woods is that it is not an open and go study. There is printing, cutting, assembling. This used to be an issue for me when my kids were younger, but now that they are older, I can make them help with all of this. Ray Ray enjoys being a part of completing all of these projects because they make them his.

While the cutting, coloring, and assembling is the fun part for Ray Ray, he is not my writer. I would have loved the newspaper concept when I was in school; Ray Ray does not like this. Because I need him to write more, I find the newspaper to be the perfect way to get him to investigate more about what was happening during the Civil War without writing a full report for me.

Home School in the Woods has many different options for all of your hands-on history learning needs. Check out some of the other products that were reviewed right here.

Hands On History with Homeschool in the Woods