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Why I Never Plan a Full Year Homeschool Schedule

When it comes to planning for homeschool, I am a little different from most others. I have made a decision to NOT plan out more than a whole month or more of homeschool lessons. There are a lot of pros and cons of this and I want to share with you why we picked what we picked.

My first year of homeschooling I went all out. I planned the full year for both of the boys. I spent a lot of time planning, checking on ideas and planning some more. When I was finally ready to go, I hit a roadblock the first week!

What do I mean by roadblock? Well, both boys learned differently than I had planned for! They were either ahead of plan, or needed more work in certain areas. All that I had planned was scrapped after the first two weeks. This hit me hard. I spent a lot of time on that planning, only to have it thrown in my face!

So, what do I do now? I plan bi-weekly! Yes, I may set yearly goals as to what I want to finish each year, but I only lesson plan twice a month. This gives me leeway. This gives me a chance to see what the kids are learning, and what they need more time working on. With this information, I am able to better plan their learning!

Since we school year-round, I am not worried about a true “schedule”. I like being able to see what the kids need and working with them. Since I have our goals lined up for the whole year, I know where I want to be at a certain time, but I don’t have any set deadlines. This gives me the lee-way to slow things down when we need to, or skip something altogether when we already know it.

Another nice thing about not planning a whole year for the kids, is when I do have to make a change, I don’t have to worry about a cascading effect on my schedule. What does this mean? Well, the first time I planned out a full year, I spent a week working on it. Tweaking it, and making it just right. Only to find out two weeks in that something did not work for Moe Man. I had change everything. Not just one day, or one week, EVERYTHING! I will tell you what, I don’t ever want to waste all that time again!

Now, some would say that you just work through it, oh well, they will adjust. That is not me. I am one to find what works for my kids and make that happen. So when I find out something isn’t going to work, I don’t want to have to re-do all that I have done. How do I prevent this? Well, I just plan two weeks at a time. I can change what needs changing and keep what needs keeping without wasting all my time.

Right now, my planning for two weeks at a time takes less than a day for me to do. I spend time at the beginning of our year and make goals, set ideas down as to where and what I want done. When I sit down to plan, I know what we have done, and I know where I want to go. I check out notes as to what needs changing, change that up and write the next two weeks down. Once you get into the swing of things, you can easily write up your two weeks without a problem.

This has saved me whole planners, and sanity at the same time. I learned from my mistakes and decided to change. This change has been a benefit for my whole family. I am happier not wasting my time with 3 yearlong schedules that are bound to change, and everyone is happier because I am happier!

How do you plan out your homeschool schedules? Have you changed recently? I would love to hear about your experience!

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Make Homeschooling Fun

Today I want to talk with you about making your homeschooling fun. You should be having fun, your kids should be having fun. This is not a journey that should be stressed and full of tears. Rather, you should be laughing and smiling and enjoying seeing your children learning. But how do you do this?

Make Homeschooling Fun!

While I could easily type away and tell you all these great ideas for making homeschooling fun. Followed up by me searching the web and my camera for some pictures to break up the words, I want to try something different. I want to actually talk to you about how we make homeschooling fun. So, check out my very first "vlog" post on how we make homeschooling fun!

 

What do you think? Do you have fun in your homeschool? What do you do different, or what do you add to make it more fun when you are learning? Let me know in the comments below! Thanks for joining me in my first vlog post, I hope it won't be the last!!

 

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10th Grade Curriculum Choices for 2016-2017

Here we are, over half way through August. Do you know what that means? To our house that means the new grades have started and the kids are back at school after their two straight weeks off. This also means that I have a 10th grader. I am not ready for this, but I don't have a choice.

I remember the first day that Moe Man came to stay with us. That first day, he was a week away from turning 6 and not even ready for Kindergarten. I knew that I had to plan a birthday party and get him ready to start Kindergarten in public school. At this time, this was the scariest thing I could be doing, being a new mom to an almost 6-year-old and getting him registered for Kindergarten. Little did I know, that planning his 10th grade homeschool year would be even more scary! No longer am I "trusting" someone else with his learning, it is all up to me! After a few prayers, some trials and errors and a lot of planning, I think I know what we will be doing this year!

Our 2016-2017 10th Grade Picks

Math

10th grade Math is typically Geometry. This has been a fear for some time. Moe Man had had a hard time with math and we have been working hard to get him caught up. This is where year-round homeschooling has helped! Moe Man doesn't forget as much if we keep up with our lessons. Thanks to this, we will be starting Geometry using Math Without Borders. I am super excited about using this curriculum, as I think it will be laid out perfect for him. I have a review coming up soon on this!

Science

This year we will be doing a Biology course. After looking at a few different ones, I have decided to use the one provided over at Easy Peasy High School. This course covers everything that he will need including a virtual lab. The best part? This is offered for free! I have been so thankful in finding this website and all they offer!

History

This year, we are working on World History. I am super excited to have the chance to review the CHSH Download Club. Within this I found a World History Course. This course covers everything from Ancient Egypt all the way up to the 1800s. Moe Man loves history and I look forward to seeing what he thinks about this and how well this works. Keep an eye out for our full review!

Language Arts

This year we are going to finish up The Power in Your Hands from Sharon Watson. We love this one. Moe Man has been actually writing and I love this. We look forward to finishing this up and seeing where it takes us! When it comes to the literature for 10th grade, we are going to be aiming for 2 books a month. We are going to pick our books from the wonderful list provided from Starts at Eight. I love this list and love that it covers the time era we will be covering in History.

Physical Education

Moe Man has been taking Martial Arts. He did not want to do this, but finally gave it a try and loves it. All three of the older kids participate twice a week and I love being able to see them advance in their skills. We will be counting this as our gym class and adding in a few lessons on healthy nutrition as well.

Electives

Being in 10th Grade, Moe Man gets the chance to pick out electives. This year we are going to start Spanish. Moe Man really wants to learn Spanish. I was super happy to find a Spanish program over at the download club at CHSH. This looks like a good starter program that I can supplement with our Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids that we reviewed the other week. This is a little simple for Moe Man, so I am glad to find something to go with that.

That is our year in a nutshell. Now, remember, we homeschool. This is what we plan to do, but I am certain that something is going to change. Something won't work and we will find something better. We will get the chance to review something and like it better than what we already have.

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Our 5 Favorite Homeschool Curriculums

When it comes to homeschooling, there are a few things that are essential to having a good year. Over the next five days I am going to share the top five essentials that you need to make your school year successful. I will be sharing these essential items with the TOS Review Crew and the 5 Days of Homeschooling 101.
5 Days of Homeschool 101

Today, on the first day, we are going to talk about one of the most important things you will need for your homeschool year, curriculum. Curriculum is a must for homeschooling. You can find one for free, pay for one or make your own, but you need a curriculum. Today I want to share with you some of our favorite curriculums.

Easy Peasy

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Our favorite curriculum of all time has been Easy Peasy. This free curriculum is everything that you need for preschool all the way up to High School. Lee has put together this curriculum for her own children and made it available to us at no cost. You will have to print some things, but that is not a large cost when you look at it. I am super happy to see that they have added a whole high school site now. This is perfect for Moe Man, and Ray Ray will be using this as his core curriculum this year.

Ambleside Online

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This is another great site for a free curriculum plan. This is a great way to homeschool your child using the Charlotte Mason method. We have used this on and off for both Ray Ray and Moe Man. The difference between this and Easy Peasy is that you will need to find the books used in this curriculum. We found a lot at our library, but some we had to purchase. They were money well spent, and will be used for many years to come!

Simply Charlotte Mason

Simply Charlotte Mason

This site has a layout of what to teach. While the books need to be purchased, if you are interested in the Charlotte Mason homeschool method, this is the best place to start. I love how a lot of the lesson are taught together for all of the ages, and it is just harder work the older you get. Following the cycle they have set up, you will be able to reuse the books if you have kids of multiple ages.

Homeschool Share

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Are you more of a unit study type of house? This is the site to check out! I love the options they have here, and they are free to print. You can find most of the books at your library, or already on your bookshelf. This is a great way to homeschool through the summer and add extra learning in during the school year.

Time4Learning

Time4Learning

This is a site that we have used when momma needed some extra help. I was able to let the kids go at their own pace and know that they were learning. This site does require a monthly payment, but when you are really busy it is worth it. Check out our review of this site right here and see if you could use it!

These are my top 5 curriculum choices when you are looking for a full curriculum for a cheap or free price tag. We have used them all and will use or would use them again at the drop of a hat.

We are participating in the 5 Days of Homeschooling 101 with the Schoolhouse Review Crew. Check out what everyone else is talking about today when it comes to homschool curriculum!

 

 What is your favorite homeschool curriculum?

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Our 2016-2017 Kindergarten Curriculum

The first day of kindergarten is an emotional one, for both the child and the parent. There are tears and fears that each face. The minor fact of whether the child is homeschooled or going to public school does not matter when it comes to the fact that Kindergarten is a huge milestone for school.

Our 2016-2017

Little Miss is starting Kindergarten. She is ready, mom and dad are not. We want her to stay 4 forever, but we know that is not possible. We knew that we needed to get her ready for school, and that means planning a Kindergarten year. Little Miss is the opposite of Ray Ray, so I had to find something that she would like better. This didn't take too long after finding Little House Kindergarten!

I had wanted to do Five in a Row with her, but I knew that wasn't enough. I still plan on reading the books and doing some activities from the book list, but Little Miss needed something more. She needed something with worksheets, with writing and something with more structure. That is why I kept looking, but not for long.

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Little House Kindergarten is a full curriculum and is a pay what you can curriculum. This is great for homeschooling families that are on a tight or almost nonexistent budget. This curriculum is made for every child using a variety of learning styles, from video games, hands on activities and worksheets.

This is also a great program for parents. Everything is there and ready, along with so much more. I almost wish I would have found this for Ray Ray, but am thankful for finding it now.

Although this program has everything we need, and exceeds the state standards of most states, we have opted to use a few extras. We have been using Jolly Phonics, and love this for our phonics. While we use this, it is just an add on. We still use the reading and language lessons that are included, but we are loving these fun Jolly Phonics as well (watch for the upcoming review).

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This is about all we plan on doing for Kindergarten, well of course besides the reading that we always do! This does not take us that long to do each day. This is perfect because for me, Kindergarten is all about fun and games, not tedious tasks. I fact, we didn't do any real school with Ray Ray until 1st grade, so this is all new and fun for me.

What do you do for Kindergarten? Do you have a curriculum, or do you have fun and play the whole time? Remember that playing is learning for the younger kids anyway!

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Our 2016-2017 Second Grade Curriculum Choices

Is it really time to start a new school year? I am not ready for this, but I know that it needs to happen. This year Ray Ray is going into the second grade. While this is not always a huge deal, to me it is. Ray Ray is my first fully homeschooled child. Everything he knows, I taught him at home. This gets me every time…

2nd Grade Curriculum Choices 2016-2017

We have spent some time thinking about what we were going to use for each subject. We finally came up with this list. While this is what we are starting out with, I cannot guarantee that it will stay this way…we homeschool and things change as they need to. There are some that I love and won't change, and there are others that I am using for now to see how they work. Either way, this is what we will be using when we start our new year on August 1, 2016.

Math

We love Mammoth Math for Ray Ray. While it did not work for Moe Man, this curriculum is perfect for Ray Ray. We have used their First Grade program and have plans to continue using this program. I don't foresee a change for him at all when it comes to math. Mammoth Math has a strong focus on mental math, which Ray Ray is good at and I love that he is able to read and/or watch the YouTube videos to help him learn each one of the lessons. They even give us a list of fun activities or games at the beginning of each chapter that we use as a warm up each day. Ray Ray loves it, and so do I, so we will keep using this again this year.

Mammoth Math

Language Arts

While we love using our Daily Writing workbook each day, we also love the Language Arts lessons over at Easy Peasy All In One Homeschool. These lessons work on our reading, writing and spelling skills. The lessons are effective and easy at the same time. This is just what I need for Ray Ray in this area of learning. Plus, it is all free, so I won't be complaining about this at all!

Easy Peasy

Science

This year we had the chance to work on a review of Apologia's Exploring Creation With Astronomy. This program is better than I expected! I can't wait to share the review with you soon!

History

Once again, we are going to Easy Peasy with this one. I love their rotation and this year we will be learning all about Ancient History. This year we get to learn about ancient Egypt, the Mayans, the Vikings the renaissance and even some early explorers! Everything is a mix of reading and hands on fun! We are so excited to be doing this with Easy Peasy!

Art

Art is going to be a mix of things this year. I plan to use the ideas given on the Easy Peasy page. I like the ideas under Ancient that goes along with what we are learning in our history lessons. I also plan to pull some other projects out of the Early Elementary Artistic Pursuits, remember our review of this?

Extras

We will be adding and taking away during the year. We will have our music and PE classes. We will also have a few other extras throughout the year.

What are some of the curriculum choices you will be looking at using this year for 2nd grade? Are you using some of the same, or do you have something different you are using? Let me know, I would love to hear from you!

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Daily Geography ~ A Review

What can you learn in 15 minutes a day? Well, if you are using Evan Moore's Daily Geography, Grade 2 from Timberdoodle's 2nd Grade Curriculum Kit you can learn a lot in just 15 minutes a day!

Daily Geography

What It It

This is a simple workbook that includes 36 weekly lessons. Each of these lessons include a teacher resource page that will guide you in teaching the lesson to your children. There is an answer key that you can use to check the work after each day. The lessons also include geography vocabulary, a reproducible map, two questions to work on each day and a challenge question at the end of the week.

Daily Geography

Within the 6 units, we get to learn about The World in Spatial Terms, Places and Regions, Physical Systems, Human Systems, Environment and Society and The Uses of Geography. With these 6 units you are able to cover the National Geography Standards (whether or not you pay attention to these, you are able to cover them).

How We Used It

We used this with Ray Ray for his Geography lessons. I did not add anything extra at this point as I just wanted to introduce him to the topic. Every Monday we would get a new map to look at and new Vocabulary to learn about. After talking about the vocabulary and the map, we would start our first questions of the week. These questions were simple enough, yet they were effective at teaching the new topics.

Daily Geography Review

After introducing the map and the vocabulary to Ray Ray, I was able to let him have control of his week. He knew what needed to be done each day by looking at the simple layout of the questions. The questions were able to pull the child into looking at the maps without discouraging them by super tough questions. Even the challenge question at the end of the week was simple and fun.

What We Thought Of It

We loved this book. I am not one to worry about the standards, so I didn't pay attention to these minor details. I do know that I want Ray Ray to be able to read map, and this book helped with that. I loved how easy it was for me to teach this to Ray Ray and how simple this book was laid out. I did not like how the answers were right there on the page that was opposite of the map that Ray Ray had to use daily. While he knows not to cheat, the temptation was there, all the time. I had to fold the page in half to remove that temptation, or photocopy the map so that he didn't have to flip back and forth. I woluld have loved to see the answers on a different page, or at the back of the book.

Daily Geography

While using this book, we were able to learn a lot about geography and maps. This is something that we needed, and it worked for us! Ray Ray loved that it wasn't drawn out and overdone, and I loved that he didn't fight me the whole way. This is a book that we will continue to use for the rest of his 2nd grade year and I look forward to using the 3rd grade one next year!

Don't have a 2nd grader but still want to use this? That is fine! This Series is available for grades 1-6!

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Planning Year Round Homeschooling

Yesterday I told you about the benefits of homeschooling your kids year round. This made you interested in homeschooling your kids year round, or at least I hope it did! But how in the world do you plan a year round school year? Let me tell you a secret, it is not every weekday for the full 52 weeks! Can you believe it?? We accidentally started homeschooling year round and the planning wasn't that hard.

Planning Your Year Round Homeschool Year

Plan Your Breaks

Now that I officially call myself a year round homeschooler, I needed to plan my whole year out. Don't be afraid! I do not mean lessons or details, I just mean what days do I need to have off and what days do I want to have off. One of the best ways to do this is to grab a calendar like the one from Tina's Dynamic Homeschool Plus (Option 3A, scroll down). This calendar lets me see the full year. I can mark down the days I want to have off each month, and add up the days we are, or will be active for school each month. This gives me a great visual of how many days we can take off after our scheduled breaks.

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Speaking of breaks, we like to homeschool for 3 weeks and take a full week off. We also like to take the whole month of December off. This gets to be about our "half way" point of our year for grade levels. I also notice a lot of restlessness happening at this point. This means that we need a break. I watch for other times like this during the year and can rework the schedule as needed. I ALWAYS fill these forms out with pencil because they WILL change!

Plan When You Will Learn What Subjects

Yes, you read that right. We don't always do everything every day. We will do reading, writing and math every day. Those three are a given. I also like to make sure to do copywork a few times a week. Everything else, science, history, extras, those have been getting grouped into different subjects each day or week. We don't do everything every day. This would be too much when going all year. Moe Man does better when I say, "Wednesday is Science day, do all your Science for the week and be done". He has no issues with this.

Sometimes, you will find us not doing a subject at all for the entire week and the following week we will do it every day. We pick and choose what we want to do. As long as we get it all done within 365 days I am happy. How it gets done, I don't care. We might even spend a Saturday doing school some weeks. We pay attention to the weather, extra-curricular activities and our schedule to tell us what we need to be doing.

Set Goals

What does set goals mean? To me, it is when I decide that I want to get this far in this subject by this time. Doing this keeps me on track for each monthly planning session. I break down my goals into yearly, semester and monthly goals. I know that I want to complete certain things by a certain date. Some of them are yearly, I want to complete Ray Ray's 1st grade math by August. Or monthly goals like wanting to get through this many lessons in Moe Man's Science. Having these simple goals makes it easier when I want to sit down and actually lesson plan.

I love using the goal pages in my Hey Mama! Schoolhouse Planner. These pages take it past educational goals and has me looking at spiritual, physical and financial goals to name a few! I have a full review of this planner right here. These pages make my year round planning easier.

Hey Mama! Goal Planning

These are the three main things I look at when planning my year round homeschool year. I don't worry about lesson planning at this stage. Right now I just worry about getting my breaks in, yes I love my breaks, and getting my goals set. Once I have the basics in order, I can worry about lesson planning! Join me tomorrow when I talk about lesson planning for the summer months! I can't wait to tell you how easy it really is!

What are your tips for planning out the school year?

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The Power in Your Hands ~ A Review

The one thing I have always feared when homeschooling the kids is their ability to write. While I know how to write, I dreaded teaching them the high school writing skills they would need to progress into college if they wanted to. What is a mother to do when this happens? I found The Power in Your Hands: Writing Nonfiction in High School from Sharon Watson.

The Power in Your Hands

What Is It

This is the 2nd Edition of The Power in Your Hands. This is a paperback book with over 100 daily lessons for your high school student. Within this course, your child will learn all four styles of nonfiction writing: exposition, persuasion, description, and narration. Not only will your child learn to write all four styles, but they will grade and critique other students work to help make them better writers.

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Included for this review, we received the student text and the corresponding Teacher's Guide. While this course is a great, learn by yourself textbook, the teacher's guide has helped me to follow along with the lessons, and see the correct answers so I could help Moe Man with his lessons if he needed it.

Both the Teacher's Guide and Student Text are included in the 11th grade Curriculum Kit from Timberdoodle.

How We Used It

I had Moe Man using this program daily. I would assign the week of lessons and check in on Wednesday and Friday. This way I knew what he was doing and if he was having any issues with what he was supposed to be learning. The way the lessons would work by introducing what the child would learn about, we would spend as much time as needed working on these new skills until I knew that Moe Man had it pretty well under his belt.

The Power in your Hands Teacher Guide

After we learned the new skills, the child takes what they learned and put that into an essay, letter or speech. Sharon provides an awesome idea for the schedule of how to spend your time writing your paper. Altogether, the learning and the writing will take 2-3 weeks. And the cycle will repeat itself until you get to the section on grammar mistakes. This is a great section that allows your teen to learn about common mistakes and work past them.

What We Thought

First of all, I should mention that Moe Man hates to write. He fights it every time! I try and try to make it as easy as I can, yet he finds a way to fight it. He tried to fight this program, but fell short when he got the chance to correct the writings of other students listed in the book. Sharon knows teens. She knows that they don't always like to follow directions, but love to find other people's mistakes and point them out. This was Moe Mans all-time favorite part of this curriculum.

Power in your hands Editor

The schedule that Sharon provided for the writing of the papers was an ideal schedule. This is just what we needed each week to keep Moe Man on track without overwhelming him with writing 300+ words each time. She had it all broken down from the researching and outlining to the writing of the body, followed by the introduction and conclusion and ending with editing his own work to find mistakes. While he still didn't care for the actual writing, he had fun with the editing to see where the problems were.

Power in your hands Grading

After using this, we have fallen in love. This is something that I can teach without worry and the teacher's guide gives me the support I need to know that I am doing something right. Moe Man is finding it easier to spend time writing. He is able to look at the grading guidelines and see what I will be looking for instead of being blind to that. He has been able to spend time "grading" other papers and knows what I will be doing and looking for. He knows this writing thing from both sides of the paper now!

If you are looking for a good writing program for your high schooler, I would recommend that you spend some time checking this one out. When a non-writer starts writing, you know you have a good program!

Have you ever used any of Sharon Watson's super awesome writing products or freebies before? What is your favorite?

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NotebookingPages.com ~ A Schoolhouse Crew Review

Are you frustrated with your current curriculum? Are you looking for something fun that will help your kids learn at the same time? Instead of being frustrated and tied down, why not use some fun journaling, and why not make it pretty, or handsome, with the notebboking pages that are designed for them. The Notebooking Pages LIFETIME Membership at NotebookingPages.com has everything you need for just this!

Notebooking Pages LIFETIME Membership

What Is It

NotebookingPages.com is a website that has a notebooking page for almost everything, with new ones being added. The different topics are A-Z, Bible/Character, Famous People, Fine Arts, Geography, History, Holidays, Language Arts and Science/Nature. Oh, and there is even a section call Any Study. This is where you can pick and choose what you need for your homeschool if it isn't already listed in any of the other sections!

Debra, the owner of NotebookingPages.com, is a homeschool mom herself who wanted something better for her kids. When she wasn't able to find, she made it. And I am thankful that she did! This is our go to page for all things notebooking!

 

How We Used It

There is no right or wrong way to use this site, just so you know right now. You will decide how you want to use it, and that is what you will do. We have used this site for YEARS, and each time I find something new to use in a new and different way. Each one of my kids use the resources here in different ways and each one loves what they do.

Little Miss

Little Miss is busy learning her letters. I am able to hop on in and find the letter we are learning about in the A-Z section and we can use the pages to go with that letter. We love coloring the big letters and making the fun little books. We are able to draw a picture(s) of things that start with letter and practice writing words that start with that letter. She loves just having her own books to read to Baby Girl.

Ray Ray

Ray Ray is busy learning about birds and clouds this summer. We are finding out that the Charlotte Mason style homeschooing is best for him, and these notebooking pages help us to learn in a different way. I simply printed up some pages on the different birds in our area and let him find the information he wanted to learn about them. He is busy making his own bird book, and loves watching the birds with his book. We have also had fun simply staring at the clouds. The nature study section has a great collection of pages on clouds and we are able to write about what we see and find the difference in the clouds to the weather and how they both seem to change at the same time.

Moe Man

Moe Man is even busy with these pages. He has found a style he liked in the Any Study section and used this as a way to take notes for his government course. He takes one page per lesson and fills it full of what he is learning. There are some really neat little squares on some pages, and he is able to use those to draw what he has read about. This is a fun way of notetaking that you would not get from simple lined paper. I love seeing what he comes up with each day!

What We Thought

I love these pages. I love having that one site that has what I need to make a boring subject fun. That one site where I can replace the worksheets with fun sheets. I love that there are two different styles of lines with each unit and that I can pick and choose which one will work for us each day. The Lifetime Membership has been worth it to our family and we will continue to use these pages long into the future of our homeschooling days. If you have to pick one thing for your homeschool, pick this. This is essential in our homeschool and I think you will feel the same way about it in yours.

A Schoolhouse Crew Review (3)

Want to see how other families have put these pages to use? Head on over and read these other reviews with me. I can't wait to find new ideas to use in our homeschool!

Notebooking Pages Lifetime Membership Reviews

 

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Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/debrareed.notebookingpages/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/NotebookingPgs  @NotebookingPgs

 

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