It is finally autumn. The days are cooler and we can get outside a lot more without feeling the heat and humidity. We love the changes that come with autumn. So, I decided to take these things we love about this time of the year and make some writing prompts for my kids, and yours to use.
What are Writing Prompts?
Writing prompts are just that, prompts to help your child to write. The writing doesn’t have to be long, perfect, or anything other than based on the topic. I like to use this as a way to warm up their brains before we start school, as a part of our morning baskets. Don’t worry about grading, this is just a time for your child to write and express themselves.
What About Non-Writers?
Even the youngest in the house don’t get to skip this part of our day! If you can’t write, you can draw. If you can’t write, you can narrate. Just because you can’t actually write, doesn’t mean these prompts are too hard for you. They just need to be modified for the younger kids.
How Do You Use Writing Prompts?
Writing prompts can be used in any way you want to use them. You can have them start your school day or to end your day. Use them as a mid-day break. You can use these prompts at any time on any day. Whenever you feel your child needs to do some writing, give them a prompt and let them go!
Where Do You Find Writing Prompts?
Well, I have one just for you! And guess what?? I am giving it to you for free!! If you want 30 Autumn Writing Prompts to get your kids started writing, drawing, or narrating to you, all you have to do is sign up for my newsletter. You can find the sign up right here:
With the times that we are facing, many parents are now wondering about homeschooling. Along with thinking about homeschooling, comes the doubts and fears, trust me, I had them also! If you are in the middle of trying to figure out what you want to do with your kids this school year, or if you have doubts about homeschooling, you will want to check out this review of Anyone Can Homeschool!
I have been homeschooling for over seven years now. But, every year, I still have doubts. Am I doing enough, am I doing too much? Are my kids missing too much? How can I teach them when I haven’t gone to school to teach children? All of these questions are taken into account with the book Anyone Can Homeschoolby Nicki Truesdell. I was given a preview of this book for my review. What I share now is my honest opinion.
What Is It
For my review, I was able to read chapters 1-5, 11, and 13. There are two parts to this book. The first part contains chapters 1-10, the second part contains chapters 11-16. The chapters include topics such as Rethinking School, Home Education on a Budget, Special Needs, Chronic Illness in the Family, Getting Started, and The Struggle is Real. All of the topics cover everything that would hold you back from homeschooling and helping you see how able you really are to homeschool your child.
Nicki takes us through all the myths on why you can’t homeschool and she breaks the brick wall. From the first chapter I read, I was hooked. Reading the preview of the book calmed my fears and reminded me that I was doing the best for my kids. Right away I was taken with the statement “Home education is freedom. It’s freedom to set your calendar, choose the curriculum, begin and end your lessons on your own schedule, and decide what’s working for your child. It is the freedom to change up methods and materials when the need arises. It’s the freedom to be the parent, all the time.”
And that leads me to another point. We are the parent, we raised our kids from birth. It was us that taught them to walk and talk. How are we not able to teach them after that? What changes that all of a sudden we are not able to teach our own children? If we taught them to walk and talk, why can’t we teach them to read and write? This is exactly what Nicki talks about in the first chapter. She proceeds to talk to us, I tell you that she talks to us, because that is what it feels like. I feel like she is sitting down and talking to me as I read her pages.
What Did I Think of It
I love how it feels like I am sitting down to a cup of coffee with Nicki as I read the pages. She is so honest about what she is sharing. Her words are like that of an old friend. This gave me encouragement just as it will anyone who is thinking of homeschooling and thinking they can not do it.
This book tackles all the questions you may have as you think about homeschooling. It helps to calm the fears of new homeschooling families and quenches the doubt of veteran homeschooling families who have done this and still worry.
If you are thinking about homeschooling and have doubts, you will want this book. If you have been homeschooling and have doubts, you will want this book. This book will help with all doubts that homeschoolers and non-homeschoolers alike have.
How many hours do your kids spend outside? How does that relate to the amount of time they spend in front of a screen? We have taken on a challenge that will last a year, it is the 1000 Hours Outside Challenge. Let me tell you more!
What Do You Mean 1000 Hours Outside?
According to the blog, 1000 Hours Outside, children will spend about 1200 hours in front of a screen over the course of one calendar year. So, if they can spend that much time in front of a screen, why can they not spend 1000 hours in a calendar year outside. This challenge is to counteract the effects of screen time for kids. This blog also offers a variety of tracker sheets to help you keep track of how many hours your children spend outside.
My kids were rather unimpressed when I mentioned this challenge to them. However, mom and dad had other ideas. Honestly, if they can spend the time in front of a screen…playing a game, watching a video or TV show, why in the world can they not spend time outside?
What Do You Do Outside?
Well, the original blog talks about an unstructured time to explore outside. This is great, but my kids got a little too used to time inside. I am not afraid to admit this…we had things come up and I just couldn’t watch them outside at our previous location. Literally, life happened. If this has happened to you, don’t be ashamed, just admit it and get ready to change it. We do this all the time when life happens and things change, don’t think it is any different for your kids.
I could kick my kids outside and think that would work, but this didn’t always work well. They would get bored, ask me what they were supposed to do. I got tired of this round and round circle. So, what did I do? I pulled out our Nature Walk ideas from Our Journey Westward. If my kids didn’t know what to do outside, I was going to give them ideas, and learning ideas on top of that!
Get Out There With Them!
Mom (and Dad) this is not just for your kids! You need all that the outdoors offer also! If you are making your kids get outside, why should you not get outside also? Can you imagine what that fresh air and Vitamin D could do for you? This is tough for me…I want to be comfy on the couch and reading a good book, or mindlessly scrolling social media. Ouch…that is just what we want to change in our kids and that is what I would rather be doing!
When I sat down to “complain” about needing to get outside with the kids, I realized that I needed this time as much as them. If I was going to make my kids get rid of extra screen time, why shouldn’t I? That is a hard point I didn’t consider before starting this challenge for the kids. If you are thinking of doing this challenge with your kids, remember, you will need to do it also!
Get your kids and yourself outside! Take the challenge with us! Keep an eye on the blog and watch our time on our tracker sheets go up. And we are in Minnesota, so these next few months will get tough. However, when the going gets tough, the tough get going!
With a little bit of prep work at the beginning, there is little need to prep at the beginning of each lesson. Each lesson in the teacher’s manual starts with a section just for you. This will tell you the objective of the lesson, what you need, and what you need to know before you begin.
At the start of each lesson, you will start with a review of the previous lessons. This review allows your child to keep on track and allows you to see where they need to keep practicing.
After that, you move on to the new teaching. The teacher’s manual takes you step-by-step on how to do the new teaching. You are not alone on this. Not only that, but you will use multiple ways to teach, as this is a multi-sensory curriculum.
How We Used It
I spent my first day reading the beginning of the teacher’s manual and applying the letter tiles to the magnets. I also took the letter cards and word cards and separated them by lesson. This had me ready to open and go for each lesson.
I would sit down with Baby Girl and we would start going through the lesson. While the lessons are short, we would take our time with them, sometimes taking 2 or 3 days to complete the lesson. Even with spreading the lesson out, we would still do the review for that lesson each time.
Baby Girl has a short attention span, so even though the lessons are already short, sometimes it just needed to be shortened even more. Since we didn’t have a magnetic board to use our tiles on, we took those tiles to the fridge. I think this was the best part for Baby Girl!
This was our “reading class” for at least 3 days out of the week. That was the least amount of time we would spend on it, with 4 or 5 being the normal. But, as I mentioned, sometimes we would spread the lesson out. It was fun to have a lot of ways to practice the reading, from word cards, worksheets with different activities and books that the children will be reading within the first three lessons! When teaching to read, reading a book is a huge incentive!
What We Thought Of It
We love this program. I wish I would have tried this with Ray Ray and Little Miss! One thing I did learn was that each child will learn to read at their own pace. So, while going into this with the intention of teaching Baby Girl to read, I also knew that I had to go at her pace.
With this in mind, this is why we split our lessons. When Baby Girl was not feeling it, we would take a break. This is also why would re-do the reviews at the beginning of the lessons. While I wanted to follow her lead, I didn’t want her to forget what we were learning.
Baby Girl was excited to get started. This was just what I wanted. She loved the letter tiles on the fridge and would do the sounding out of those letters for hours. In fact, I found this to be a great way to do our reviews. The other thing she really liked was the splat pencil. Sometimes instead of having her read the words, I would say them and have her “splat” them.
Overall, we are impressed with this curriculum. While we are taking longer to use it, we are still getting the full benefit of it. We are not skipping a step and redoing some as we go. Baby Girl loves doing this and knows that when it is too much, we stop. I feel this is why she still loves it.
If you have a child who is ready to start learning to read this is the curriculum you will want to have.
Playing games is a key to our homeschool. Not the video games that suck the kids in and make them zombies for the day. No, we like the good old fashioned board games that require lots of thinking to make it work. When Timberdoodle offered us the chance to play, er I mean review, Color Catch by Smart Games, I jumped!
What Is It
Color Catch is part of Timberdoodle’s 7th Grade Curriculum Set. Color Catch is a game that will help your child with logic, flexible thinking, planning, concentration, and visual perception. You get one game board with colored squares on it. There are 5 playing pieces with frogs, salamanders, and dragonflies on them. You also get a gamebook that contains 60 challenges ranging from easy to expert. The back of this gamebook also includes the answers to the challenges.
The idea of the game is to get the animal the right color and eating the right color dragonfly. The easy levels will give you an idea where one or more of the pieces go on the board. The higher levels just tell you which color animals need to eat which color dragonfly. You will need to use logic to solve these challenges.
How We Used It
With an age suggestion of 7 to adult, I opted to focus on Little Miss for this game. Everyone enjoyed playing the game, but I wanted to use her for this review. Before we start our school lessons, I like to have some logic time. Not a class, but something fun to get their minds thinking. Some days we do worksheets, but the kids love the games so much more. This game is added to our collection for this time. What does that mean? When I say it is time to start school, the kids know that on game day, they get to grab a game from our logic/thinking collection. While all games require thinking, I pick the ones that they can do independently. This game fits right in there.
Color Catch is a game that requires a lot of thinking. It is fun and easy to understand for rules, yet requires the brain to think outside of its normal thoughts. This is what I am striving for during this time before school.
What We Thought of It
Little Miss loved this game! She loved the challenge that it presented her without being frustrated. I often found her, and the other kids, playing this game even without being told to do so. Who would have thought a game I wanted to add to our school collection would be so much fun that they want to do it all the time! They love the fun of the game, I love that every time they play the game they are learning and building their brain.
I was also very fond of the fact that the whole game could fit in my purse! That means…when/if things go back to normal, I can grab this as something to play while we wait. The gameboard has a nice cover that contains the pieces and the gamebook inside. The plastic is very durable and will hold up to many years of use!
Color Catch is a fun learning game that would be a great idea for any homeschool, and any home in general!
This year, 2020, is a new year for everyone when it comes to school for your children. There are so many different ifs when it comes to going back to school. A lot of parents are trying to decide between the risk of going back in person or doing distance learning. There are others who are feeling drawn to try homeschooling. While I don’t care what your choice is, I want to help those who are feeling called to homeschooling and are new to homeschooling this year.
One thing I want to point out, schooling from home and homeschooling are two different things. When you are schooling from home, you are following someone else’s choices for what your child to learn. When you are homeschooling, you take the time to research the different curriculum choices and decide what is best for each child in your house. Both of these require a parent to be there to help the child, but only homeschooling leaves the parent in full control of the education.
Home School Legal Defense Association
When it comes to homeschooling, I highly recommend you first go to Home School Legal Defense Association. This site will hold all the legal information that you need to know about homeschooling in your state. After I decided I was serious about homeschooling full time for the rest of my child’s education, I became a member of HSLDA. While I haven’t had to use their legal defense, I am glad that I have them in case I need them. Not only that, but I love the legal documents that I need right at the tips of my fingers to print and use as I need.
When it comes to homeschooling, you are in charge of your child’s curriculum. What will you pick? What are your ideas and your goals? These all come into play when looking at curriculum. There are so many choices out there, so be prepared to spend some time researching what you want to use.
There are many choices for online curriculum if that is what you pick for your child. We have loved using many different ones. Some have been full curriculums like Easy Peasy Homeschool and others are just certain subjects, like A+ Interactive Math. If your child is fine with online learning, you will want to check these and many others out!
Physical curriculum might be more expensive per child, but you have the books right in front of you and you don’t have to rely on the internet and multiple computers to get the daily lessons done. As much as I love the online curriculum, I have found that we love the physical curriculum so much more. We can be with each other and learning together. I have found that we love to use a combination of unit studies and Charlotte Mason style of homeschooling. We love learning altogether, so this helps.
Secular Vs Christian
The other when looking at curriculum is whether you want a secular or Christian curriculum. We love Christian curriculum like Gather Round Homeschool, but we have also had fun with a secular curriculum from Timberdoodle. Like I said above, there are many choices for homeschool curriculum, so you can find just what you are looking for!
When it comes to homeschooling, the planning is all up to you. Are you going to homeschool year-round? Will you follow the public school calendar? When do you want to take breaks? How many days a week do you want to school? This is all up to you. What is going to work for you, your kids, and your schedule?
Before you sit down and start planning out your lessons, you need to answer the previous questions. Once you have decided on the schedule you want to do, you can actually start the planning. Planning can happen in many ways. You can open and go and not even worry about planning. You can sit down and plan your whole year out in one weekend (I do NOT recommend this), or you can go somewhere in between.
My thoughts on planning:
I have done all ends of planning. I have spent money on a fancy planner and filled it all in ready to go for the year, only to have something happen and “getting behind”. This leads me to be stressed out and this rubbed off on the kids. The year was hard and not very fun. Open and go has also been done. This was a lot more fun for us, but I had no record of what we had done and I struggled at the end of the year to put something together for our records.
What I like to do now, I open and go at the beginning of the day. After we are done, I will sit down and write what each child did that day. This makes it simple for us to do what we can fit in for each day without feeling like we are falling behind. Now, this does not mean that I just don’t have any plan for the year, month, or week. I like to make goals for the year at the beginning of our year. At the beginning of each month, I will sit down and plan out the goals for the month. And I do this again for each week.
You need to find support while homeschooling. It can come from family, friends, or even online support. Not everyone is as lucky as I have been with the support of family and friends when we decided to homeschool. But even with that support, finding online support from other homeschool moms from across the country and the world has been a lifesaver! Sometimes there are just some things that your family and friends who do not homeschool will not understand, so finding the support from other homeschool moms is very much needed!
You can follow me on Facebook, MeWe, Instagram, or Parler for support and encouragement. But not only that, you will want to find other local support groups. I have found some within my state, with the curriculum I am using, and many other things. Make sure that if you plan on homeschooling, or are starting your journey, you look for support, not only from family and friends but also other homeschool moms and dads.
Not everyone is a Christian homeschooler, but for those who are, prayer is very important to homeschooling. Prayer is what lead me to homeschool. Prayer is what has kept me going. Make sure you take the time for yourself and with your bible and God. Don’t let homeschooling take over every aspect of your life. Yes, you may cover the bible with your children in your homeschool lessons, but you Mom and Dad, need to take the time to do your own quiet time in your own bible. This will give you the strength you need to get through the tough days that will come.
Don’t forget, along this journey, you are not alone! If you have questions or need some support or encouragement, reach out to me! I am here to help you! hopkinshomeschool (@) gmail (dot) com.
If you or any of your friends are starting on their homeschooling journey, please share this with them to help them get started on the right foot!
My son is a builder, he will create and build things from nothing. When I was given the opportunity to review Fischertechnik Profi Mechanic & Static 2 with Engineer from Timberdoodle, I jumped at the chance. Oh, and I didn’t tell him it was coming until he opened the package!
Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through Timberdoodle in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.
What Is It
This set includes 500 pieces and a guide to allow you to build up to 30 different models. Once you have mastered these, you can free build with your mind as your limit. The builds start with simple easy to make to really intense. They are meant to build upon each other and allow your child to build their knowledge one build at a time.
Within the 500 pieces, you will have a variety of pieces that help build many things. This also includes a working motor to allow you to make a build that actually operates. This was my son’s favorite part…building something that could perform a function.
How We Used It
The Fischertechnik Profi Mechanic & Static 2 with Engineer is part of Timberdoodle’s 7th Grade Curriculum Kit. Ray Ray is only in 6th grade this year, but with his building skills, I knew that this kit would be beneficial to him. Like I said in the beginning, I did not tell him this was coming to the house. The day it arrived, I opened the box and had it ready for him. I woke him up and when he saw the box he was in utter shock. This was not something he ever thought he would have in the house.
That first day, I allowed him to do as he wished with the set. I wanted it to be fun for him. Before I knew it, he had spent an entire day building, taking apart, and building again. When something didn’t work, I could see his brain working to figure out what was out of place and how to make it right. This took his normal block building to new heights and I could see him thinking in new ways.
After the “new” wore off, I decided we needed to just start from the beginning with the builds and see what we could learn. Well, we learned a lot. In fact, after learning some basics, Ray Ray went back and mastered some of the builds he was having difficulty with before. To me, there is no right or wrong way to use this as a learning opportunity. You can start with the biggest build and learn from your mistakes, or work your way up, learning as you go. Either way will work, you just have to know your child.
What We Thought of It
My son was so impressed by this set. After the surprise wore off, his appreciation of this product was shown through the numerous thanks that were given. This set was easy to use. The instructions on how to build the different models were easy to understand. When we had difficulties, it was an error of the user, and we were able to use those as teachable moments. Ray Ray was thrilled to add to his building collection, and both of us learned a lot about how engineering works with this set. While things seem simple, a simple mistake can cause major headaches. But a simple fix can reduce those headaches.
If your child loves building, this is a great set to help advance those builds. They will learn so much with the simple builds and you will see their mind working in new ways by adding new material to their supply. There are so many learning opportunities in this one fun building kit, I highly recommend it.
There are a lot of things that can take us out of the right frame of mind and focusing on the wrong things. In his new book, Take Back Your Life by Levi Lusko, we take a 40-day journey to confront outside circumstances and internal battles and get our focus back on God and taking our lives back.
What It Is
Take Back Your Life is a hardcover book that covers 40 days of study to help you get your life back in the way and order of God. Each day is actually a chapter in the book. It starts off with a title (the main theme of the chapter) and a bible verse. The chapter ends with a prayer and a Breathe, Think, and Live. The Breathe, Think, and Live section asks questions about what was talked about. It also makes you dig deeper into what you have just learned. They are simple questions, and they would seem to be easy to answer until you think about them!
At the end of the book, there is an appendix that includes scripture to memorize. This is a great way to help enforce what we are talking about through the 40 days that we work on this journey.
How We Used It
I had intended to use this with my husband. While I will still use this with him, for this review, I went ahead and used this for myself. This is not only broken down by days but also by weeks. This is a full 40-day journey. This is not 5 days a week, this is daily. Just as Jesus was tempted for 40 days straight, so are we. And since we are, why take a day off?
At one chapter a day, it was easy to do. The reading was deep but easy. Levi wrote to us, the readers. Because of this, it makes what we read that much more interesting. We are able to really dig into the readings as if we were sitting down with a friend and talking about what life is giving us. As much as I wanted to take notes in the book, I know that I wanted to keep this book available for my husband, so I took notes in a separate notebook as well as writing my answers to the Breathe, Think, Live questions.
What We Thought Of It
I didn’t know what to think when I first decided to do this review. From the sounds of it, this was something that would be of use to my husband. When I started pre-reading it, I couldn’t put it down. I didn’t realize how much I needed something like this as much as my husband would need it as well. I thought that I had my life figured out. I knew that God and Jesus are our way to eternal life, what I didn’t know was the little things that I needed to work on in my life.
I really loved the simple and easy to read style of this book. It allows for anyone to read this book and benefit from the information within it. The way this is written as though talking to a friend allows anyone to benefit from this book. You are able to read it simply and take away just what you need.
If you feel as though you are struggling (and really who isn’t) and need to get your life back in your control (with help from God), this is a book you want to have in your house! Take the 40 days to change your way of thinking and get your life right.
Oh, and I don’t want to forget to mention, you can win a free copy of this book right here:
*This giveaway is valid for US Residents only. I love everyone, but I can only afford so much in shipping costs
Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC and HCCP for providing this prize for the giveaway and review. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
We love trying new things, however, sometimes we try something a second time to see how things have changed over time and between the children in our house. This is exactly what we are doing with A+ Interactive Math.
The Family Math Package is an online math program for the whole family. You can have up to 10 students for $15 per month or $149 per year. You can access all the levels with this package. So, you do not know what grade level your child is at, you try one, it is too high or too low and you want to change. That is fine, you can do that without an extra charge!
This program takes the whole math curriculum out of your hands and teaches it for you. Each lesson starts with a video on what your child should know, teaches it if they do not know. Once they are done with the video, they move on to the Interactive Questions and Answers. These questions go over what was learned. This way you can know if your child has grasped the concepts that were taught.
With the Interactive Questions and Answers, your child will know immediately if they got the question right or wrong. If they got it wrong, they will have the chance to view the explanation of how the problem should be solved.
There is also an option for an eBook of the curriculum to print out along with a resources sheet. These are my favorite because my kids love to have important information at the tips of their fingers as they are working on the questions/worksheets.
How We Used It
Little Miss used this as her math lesson during this review time. While we were on summer break, we still did do some lessons. We love to focus on year-round school, but sometimes we just need a summer break. So, while I had planned on 4 days a week all summer, we did have some added breaks for the weather (we had a tornado touch down about ten miles away), and for hanging out with our public school friends.
We aimed to do this 3 times a week since this was summer. When we get fully back into school in the fall, I will be doing this 4-5 days a week, depending on the week. What is nice, they have a recommended lesson plan that you can print up and use with your child. There is no guessing what you should do next, just open and go.
While there are no dates on the lesson plan, you can tell that it is based on the regular public-school start and end dates because of the two-week holiday break (which would fall around Christmas time). Since we homeschool year-round, I plan to adjust the breaks to fit our schedule, which is not that hard to do.
What We Thought
I have always loved math, so I have always wanted my kids to love math. Finding the right curriculum to get them engaged and loving math can be hard. Homeschooling multiple students at different levels can be hard. With this curriculum, I was able to check out the different levels of this program. I could let the children go and know that they were still learning. This curriculum teaches for me.
The video lessons are anywhere from 3-10 minutes. This is a perfect time for children of all ages and stages. I loved that the videos did not drain on and on. They did not make you bored, they kept you engaged.
I loved the length of the videos. Each lesson was straight to the point. With the interactive questions following the video, I am able to see immediately if we need to spend more time working on the topic, or if we can move on without spending too much of our time focused on something my kids mastered the first time. It is an extremely focused curriculum, making sure that everything was mastered immediately.
We found this to be a great way to have independent math lessons. This allowed me more time to focus on the subjects that needed my attention while making sure my kids were still learning their math. It also gave them a sense of learning how to be independent at their school.
I am so excited! After spending some time playing around with ideas, I finally did it! I made a basic planner for the house. Or a mom planner, or dad planner, whatever you want to call it!
This planner is simple. It is not for homeschool lessons, but you could make it work if you wanted. Or you wait while I brainstorm up a way to make a homeschool lesson planner
In my Home Planner, you will find un-dated monthly calendar pages. I left them un-dated, because I know this is way past the beginning of the year, so you can start whenever you want AND you can reuse this time and again.
I have included a Monthly View in this planner. This will allow you to plan out your month a little more in detail. List your Top 3 goals, must do things, important dates. This is the page for you to plan out your month.
Breaking it down more, I have included a weekly planner. List out what you need to do each day of the week and have it on hand for a quick glance to see what needs to be done. Also, I have added in a meal planner. Sometimes I menu plan, sometimes I wing it. But, I have had requests for a structured meal plan for each day, so I am using this to help me plan out the meals before I go shopping!
I love knowing what I need to do each day, so I have added in Today’s View. I can take the menu from my weekly plan and list them down for each day. I can focus on the important details, along with my quote for the day. This is something I am starting to help me keep my focus on the good things.
For those working on new habits, I have you covered with a habit tracker. I plan to add some new habits into my daily life. Not only for me but for the rest of the family. This sheet is just what I need.