September 7, 2018

We just completed our second week of homeschool and now we’re really back into the swing of things. The first week I was still waiting for a couple school things to come in, so we sort of eased into it. Week 2 though, I don’t mess, and we doubled down and got serious. While we all miss summer, we all agree that getting a fresh batch of school supplies adds to the fun of starting off a new school year. Newly sharpened pencils, pristine notebooks, clean erasers, and of course, our favorite… art supplies!

Most everyone’s favorite subject here is art (Glow is the one exception as she loves math!), so when we get to reorganize our art cart and stock it with fresh goods, we all get giddy with excitement to start a new year of art projects. I’m partnering with Amazon to share a back-to-school list of things that are must when stocking an art cart…

1. Fineline Marker Pens: The kids use it for drawing fine details and I use it for correcting work.
2. Prismacolor Colored Pencils: These are our favorite colored pencils to use for fine art work. The color is so deep and rich compared to regular colored pencils. When using them for art, we get splurgy with our colored pencils.
3. HP Premium 32 Paper: When the girls draw and color with marker, this is the perfect paper. It is so smooth that it will prevent shredding your markers. My girls are also into brush lettering and this is the paper they use to practice.
4. Oil Pastel Classroom Size Pack: It’s so soft and gives off such vibrant color that my girls love creating art with it. The only problem is that it is so soft and they really lay on the color thick, so each stick goes so fast. A classroom pack makes sure we have enough oil pastel to go around.
5. Tombow Drawing Pencil Set: We love the quality of these pencils and the variation of each pencil in the pack. It allows the girl to practice their shading.
6. Post-It Notes: The girls will use these little pieces of paper to write down ideas or quickly sketch out an art plan.
7. Avery + Amy Tangerine Binder: A binder is definitely needed to keep all their work together in one place.
8. Large Easel Pad: This big pad of paper is especially fun for my littlest gals because one 8.5″x11″ can’t contain them. They can color and fill a page to their hearts’ content. I’ll also use this pad of paper to illustrate for science.
9. Prang Watercolor: Each girl gets their own set and when we go to do art at the park, it’s easy enough to take along in our picnic basket. Also, you can also buy refills when certain colors run out.
10. Flexible Point Markers: These work like watercolor, so it’s another thing we can easily take with us when we do art somewhere else.

Our list can go way longer than 10 because our 3 tiered art cart is certainly filled to the brim. I’ve been working on a lot of house projects lately, so Amazon is my one-stop-shop for all things back-to-school. I much prefer shopping from the comfort of my home and having everything brought to me.  Of course, we also get all the other basic school supplies like pencils, erasers, glue, and composition notebooks too, but art supplies are some of our favorite school things. And when we start off the new year with a new batch, we eagerly anticipate the new year and all the things we will be learning and making.

This post is sponsored by Amazon. The opinions and text are all mine. I appreciate the time you spend in this space, the support you give me, and the brands I partner with.

make art everyday

January 3, 2018

One of my goals for the new year is to make art everyday with the girls (at least 4 times a week). We’re lumping in as part of our homeschooling and art study and will change up the mediums each day. Art is the language my girls speak well, so I know this is something that will be fun and challenging for them.

To start, we did self portraits with oil pastel. We started by drawing our face shape first, and I gave them a rule… you weren’t allowed to pick up the “pencil” to draw your face. Thus, each face was created by one single line. Then, we color blocked our face with various colors. Each girl was definitely in the zone working away and we all loved our colorful results.

math switch miracles

October 27, 2017

This is the first year, in all our years of homeschooling, where math hasn’t been a headache. All the prior years, we’d been doing Singapore Math, and while it’s a good program, I realize now, it wasn’t for us, especially not for True and Brave. Every day, we used to dread math, but since making the switch to Saxon Math, the days have been better. Math-U-See was another program I thought about switching to, but ultimately decided Saxon would be better for where True and Brave are at. Fights and frustrations still happen, but not nearly as frequently as they used to. I think the older girls would agree that this year, math has been better and much more enjoyable.

The two little ones are still doing Singapore, but it’s because we already have the books, and they do much better with the program. Soul is a math girl, so the program work for her, though next year I might consider switching her to Saxon. The tough part with Soul is that she hates math, but she’s really good at it. Often, she’ll complain about the work she has to do, but once she does it, it doesn’t take her long. Thus, the issue with her isn’t the math program, but her heart.

As for Glow, she loves math! She put “math books” on her birthday and Christmas wish list. She loves it so much that she does a Saxon, Singapore, and a math minute workbook! You don’t have to twist her arm to do math; she definitely does it with a happy heart.

I think it took me a long while to switch programs for True and Brave because I felt like if I did, I failed because we didn’t complete it. I know, that thought is completely preposterous. I felt that too if I switched to a video program, like I was giving up and giving my job to someone else (a video) because I couldn’t do it. Honestly, I couldn’t, at least not well. I finally got smart enough to find a program that worked better. Took awhile for me to figure that out, but I’m so thankful I did, better late than never.

So if you’re a homeschooling mom and some curriculum is not working for you, try something else. Take a break, experiment with a different type of learning and teaching, and remember one of the benefits of homeschooling is that we can find what works best for our family and we don’t have to be stuck following one certain way.

our daily homeschool schedule

September 6, 2017

Let’s talk schedules. I’m a planner all the way. I itch when there’s no plan and I rarely diverge off the planned plan. I used to be spontaneous (oh to be young again), but once we had kids, it’s been all about schedules and routines. As the kids have gotten older, we’ve learned to relax a little bit, but planning makes my world go round. Well, at least it keeps me day moving forward.

Our school days are Monday through Thursday because the girls go to school all day on Fridays. This is what a typical day looks like for me/us:
5:30-6:15 Wake up/quiet time (me)
6:15-7:00 Work out with Ben
7:00-7:30 Breakfast/emails (girls wake up)
7:30-8:00 Get dress (everyone)
8:00-9:00 Language arts with Soul and Glow (True and Brave are in another room doing Spanish lessons via facetime with Ben’s mom)
9:00-9:30 Math with Soul/Instructional time with True and Brave (Glow leaves for Spanish)
9:30-10:00 Math with Glow/Instructional time with True and Brave (Soul leaves for Spanish)
10:00-10:30 Reading with Soul and Glow
10:30-12:00 Instructional time with True and Brave (Soul and Glow work on independent work and reading practice)
12:00-12:45 Lunchtime
12:45-1:30 More instructional time (or group project)

This is more or less what it looks like. It is pretty smooth and fluid, and everyone stays (mostly) on task. Though, they are kids after all (and I’m not always in the best of moods), so there are definitely hiccups throughout the day. Not every day runs how I think it’s going to run in my mind. Switching between instruction for the older two and the younger two is pretty seamless, especially since the older two have been doing this a long time and can work independently when I need to work with the little ones.

The rest of the afternoon is True and Brave finishing up. They have to practice piano, guitar, and Spanish. Most of the time, Soul and Glow are done by lunch. If they have any extra-curricular activities, they are scheduled in the afternoon. Activities used to be in the morning, but I’ve changed them to the afternoon, so that we could have uninterrupted learning in the morning.

I have 2 charts for the day (it’s on my clipboard that I carry around everywhere during the day, and I’m holding it in the picture above)… my daily lesson plan for the girls and I have my personal goals for the day, and I cross things off as things get done. This really helps me stay on task. Once instructional time is done, I am able to work on my projects (cakies, babiekins, wovenfolk, or catching up on emails). By 4:30ish, I head downstairs and get dinner started, and we have family dinner at 5:30. Kids get ready for bed a little after 7, and then have quiet reading time from 7:30-8:30. This gives Ben and me some downtime to finish up whatever else we need to. Usually, it’s garden stuff for him and online stuff for me. And that’s what a typical day kind of looks like!


first week down

September 1, 2017

We survived! Week 1 of year 7 of homeschooling has been completed! Good routines, early bedtimes, organized lesson plans, and checklists has all been so helpful in getting us off to a strong start. My plate is feeling extra full, so I’m making sure I have things organized and that one of the balls I’m juggling doesn’t drop. I even have to plan “hang out with the girls” time in my schedule because even though I’m with them all day, they need chill out time with mom. We watched Lost in Oz for a chill time together.

The most helpful thing for me this week has been resuming my 5:30am wake up calls. I’m able to have my quiet Bible reading time, journal, and sometimes get to emails or other work things. Once Ben is up, we both work out together, after which, I make his lunch and get dressed ready to start school at 8am. I’ve been wanting to relax at night by reading a book, but I’m so tired by then that all I do is end up watching something on my iPad until it’s time for bed.

For the first couple days, I felt bad because I couldn’t check off the “read a chapter from a book for my soul” from my to-do list, but I’m learning how to ease up on my expectations of myself. I’m a rule follower by nature (though I probably like to teeter the line from time to time), so sometimes it’s difficult for me to diverge off my plans/checklist for my day, and if it doesn’t get done, those unchecked boxes make me itch a little. Anyone else like that?

I have to remind myself that Jesus paid my debt in full and I can chill out because life isn’t all about getting things done (though it does feel like that sometimes), but life is enjoyed when I continually trust in the one who did. Jesus died for me on the cross, and that’s where my joy and security should lie. Not in my abilities, checklists, and get everything done self-sustaining nature. That is a challenge for this control freak, but I’m thankful for the grace given when I fail, learn, grow, and opportunities to rejoice in victories everyday.

How was your week this week?

homeschool curriculum

August 30, 2017

This is my seventh year of homeschooling and we are still following the classical education style of teaching and learning. This book has been the most helpful resource throughout the years. I like the structure classical education provides, so we have stuck with it. Of course, we continue to adjust to fit our needs and interest, but for the core subjects, we stick to the classical curriculum. We are a multi-age classroom and I pair the girls off for our instructional time. True and Brave are on the same level (though one is in 6th grade and the other 5th). Soul and Glow receive similar instruction, but I do have to adjust a lot for Glow since Glow is in kinder and Soul in second grade. Below is the curriculum list I use for each pair of girls:

True and Brave (5th and 6th grade)
Math: Saxon Math (this is our first year with Saxon, we’ve previously used Singapore Math, but I wanted to try something different)
Reading: We have a long reading list to get through, but we are starting with Beowulf.
Spelling: Spelling Workout G
Writing: Writing Strands Level 4
Grammar: Progressing with Courage
Handwriting: D’Nealian Handwriting
Science: Earth Science Daybook
History: Story of the World Volume 4
Latin/Greek: Classical Roots A
Spanish: Breaking the Barrier Spanish Level 2 (they completed Spanish for Children Primer A & B)
Critical Thinking: Building Thinking Skills

Soul and Glow (2nd and Kindergarten)
Math: Singapore Math 2A
Reading: Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading (for Glow); reading Book of Nature Myths together
Spelling: Spelling Workout B
Writing: Writing with Ease Level 2
Grammar: First Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind 2
Handwriting: Handwriting without Tears
Science: More Mudpies to Magnets with nature studies mixed in
History: Story of the World Volume 1
Spanish: Song School Spanish

Extra curriculum support: Duolingo, Brain Pop Jr., Starfall, Life of Fred

Additional activities: Piano,  guitar, swim (though I’m thinking of not doing it this year). Brave has an interest in theatre, so I’m looking for acting programs to get her involved in.

I do a lot of modifying for Glow since her reading, writing, and math ability isn’t the same as Soul’s due to the age difference. This was a similar case with True and Brave when Brave started homeschooling, but their age and grade levels are closer together than Soul and Glow’s. Now, they are both at the point where they can do the exact same things.

You might notice we don’t use an art curriculum. We’re always making things or studying artists, so our art study is pretty fluid, and we kind of go wherever it takes us, so we don’t use a book for it. One day it might be sewing, another day art history, and another day studying an artist and their preferred medium.

We are not part of any co-op, but the girls go to school all day every Friday through our charter school program. Thus, my main instructional days are Monday-Thursday. I’m sure you’re curious about what a school day looks like for us. The days are very full, but True and Brave are quite independent, so there’s a lot they’re able to do on their own. I’ll give a more detailed time schedule of typical school days for us in another post next week.

If you have any other homeschool questions, feel free to ask in the comments! This is from a couple years ago, but here’s our schedule then, a curriculum post a few years ago here, and another curriculum post here. Here’s a post on how we get Spanish lessons done too.

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