Building a Rhythm Into Your School Day Schedule

To make our school day flow more smoothly, with less fussing from the kids, I carefully build a rhythm into our school day schedule.  This means spacing out the breaks, alternating harder subjects with easier ones and group subjects with individual subjects.  I also incorporate motivation right into the day. I’ll walk you though our school day schedule and why we do it the way we do it. Begin With A Group Lesson We start with a group subject, in our case memory work, grammar, and then spelling.  This helps us all begin the day together at the same time and means the first subject of the day is interactive and interesting without too much demanded of the student.  It’s a nice way to break into the day.  But it’s also academic and tells them we’re really learning today and demanding things will be expected of you. Next Is A … Keep on reading

Why You Should Read Aloud To Your Kids


I have read aloud to my children since they were born, first board books, then picture books, and finally novels.  I didn’t do this because I was convinced of the educational value of reading aloud or because I had read studies on the impact of reading on education.  I did it because my mom read to my siblings and me when we were kids.  The memories I have of her reading a novel to us on hot summer afternoons while we all lay around the living room right after lunch or huddled under a tarp during one of our many rainy camp outs will remain with me fondly forever. I wanted my kids to experience those books in that way. She read Summer of the Monkeys, My Side of the Mountain, Little House on the Prairie, A Cricket in Times Square and dozens and dozens of other novels. That is how my love … Keep on reading

Lava Lamp Density


You can make your own lava lamp to watch as carbon dioxide gas is released, creating a cool and colorful science show.  We’ll talk about density as we go along with the experiment. You’ll need: water a clear bottle or jar (we used a pretty wide jar, but narrow ones work even better as the bubbles are more visible against the outside walls) vegetable oil food coloring Alka-seltzer tablets And here’s what you do: Start by filling the bottle or jar about 1/4 full of water.  Add 12-15 drops of food coloring to it. Then fill the rest of of it up with vegetable oil.  Give the oil and water a few minutes to separate.  You’ll be able to see the two distinct layers, and because the water is more dense than the oil it sinks to the bottom. Drop Alka-Seltzer tablets in. If you want, you can cut an … Keep on reading

Taco Melts


Taco melts are a family favorite at our place.  A favorite of mine because they are so quick an easy, even on a really busy night.  A favorite of all my little eaters because they are like a mild little taco pocket.  I have a couple of kids who would be thrilled if I served tacos every week, so these hit the spot without serving the exact same meal week after week. Here’s what you need: 1 packet taco seasoning 2/3 cup water 1 1/2 cups salsa 1 pound ground beef, cooked and drained 1 package refrigerated biscuits (or use one batch of your favorite biscuit recipe) 1 cup grated Mexican cheese Sour cream, guacamole, or other taco toppings Here’s what you do: 1.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. 2.  In a medium saucepan, combine the meat, taco seasoning, water, and 1/2 cup of the salsa.  Cook while stirring … Keep on reading

Egg in a Bottle, An Air Pressure Experiment


When we think of weather, we commonly just think about precipitation (rain and snow mostly) and whether or not it’s warm or cold.  We have to look a little bit deeper to see what actually causes much of the weather that we experience.  Air pressure is the main culprit.  Differing pressures account for most of the movement of air we experience.  When you see a storm, like this one seen out of the windshield of a jet cockpit, what you are really seeing is colliding high and low pressure zone.   We’re going to do an experiment so we can see the effect that air pressure has. What You’ll Need: A narrow necked bottle A peeled, hard-boiled egg A match What you do: Start by setting the egg on top of the bottle.  The egg won’t go into the bottle.  It’s too large to fall in, and the pressure is … Keep on reading

Birthday Favors


Birthday parties at our house are not huge affairs.  The kids get to choose either a family party or a friend party, so we only have friend parties every few years anyway.  Even when we do, we don’t believe in the huge production parties that we frequently see.   The birthday kid gets to choose all the meals we eat that day.  We make a homemade cake (also chosen by the birthday kiddo), play a few fun games, and then open presents. We often have simple themes, but no overdone decorations.  We don’t rent facilities or entertainers or spend a fortune on food.  I think at some point the elaborate parties started being all about the party instead of about the kid it was meant to celebrate.  Makes me sad when people lose sight of what it’s all about. Although I don’t do elaborate, I like to send home a little … Keep on reading

Mom’s Half Size Planner

Mom's Half

We made this mom’s half size planner especially for homeschoolers.  Besides the regular calendar, note, and goal sheets we also include lesson planning and grading sheets. Description This planner is half size, 4.25″ x 5.5″, pdf.  Print onto regular full size computer paper and then cut each sheet in half.  Fill a half size binder or get it bound at a copy shop.  We also have a full size Mom’s Planner. The monthly calendar pages are arranged so you can print front and back and have the months come out in the right order.  Each section of the planner is its own file so that you can easily print exactly the pages you want in the quantity you want. Many of the pages have editable fields so you can type in repeating items like your school subjects or a daily to do list and then print as many copies of … Keep on reading

Tater Tot Casserole


Tater tot casserole is an absolute staple at our house.  It’s easy to keep the ingredients on hand and yummy, yummy, yummy.  I also love that I can put it together at lunch time (or even the night before), so when dinnertime rolls around and the day has gotten the best of me, all I have to do is stick it into the oven. Here’s what you need: 1 bag of tater tots 1 pound of ground beef, cooked and drained 2 cans cream of chicken soup Grated cheese Here’s what you do: Start by placing the cooked ground beef on the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan.  Put the cream soup and tater tots in as well, then gently stir them all together until the soup is incorporated throughout.  Spread it all evenly in the pan, top with cheese, and put the casserole into the oven to bake … Keep on reading

Layers of Learning Unit 3-15

Book Cover 3-15 web

History: The South Pacific Geography: Australasia Science: Fossils The Arts: Principles of Art Description Make an illustrated map of Captain Cook’s voyages.  Try your hand at some aboriginal style art from Australia.  Use our printables to make a mega timeline of life from the earliest bacteria to human beings all courtesy of the fossil record.  And learn about the principles that make art beautiful. Layers of Learning Unit 3-15 includes all of this, dozens more explorations, plus library lists, printables, and links to take you to the web.  60 pgs.  Full color.  This is a PDF. In each unit you’ll find a recommended library list, important background information about each topic, lots of activities to choose from for kids of all ages, and sidebars with a bunch more ideas including Additional Layers, Fabulous Facts, On The Web, Writer’s Workshop, Famous Folks, and Teaching Tips.  Printable maps and worksheets are included … Keep on reading

Picasso’s One Color Paintings


Pablo Picasso was one of the most famous painters of the 1900’s.  He is most famous for his cubism, but before he painted in that style he went through his “blue period.” He focused on painting images that were lonely or sad, and he used the color blue to help express those emotions.  Click here to check out and view the self portrait he painted during his blue period. Everything in the portrait is a various shade of blue.  Even his skin has a blue tint to it.  His colors make the portrait seem sullen and forlorn. Gather some paper, crayons, paintbrushes, and various shades of paint. Choose a color that you want to have as the focus for your picture.  Gather all the crayons of that one hue that you can find. Draw a picture using a variety of shades of that one color. When you’re done drawing, … Keep on reading