Saturday, September 26, 2020

Simple Daily Planner To Keep Your Life Organized

A daily planner is a useful tool to help you keep track of your goals and get control over the never ending "to-do" list! When life feels super busy and chaotic a daily planner can provide some organization to your fast paced life.  

This post contains affiliate links which means if you click on a link and make a purchase I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. For more information please see my disclaimer page. Thanks!

Organize Your Life With A Daily Planner

I used to just jot down my to-do list on a piece of scrap paper and leave it on my kitchen countertop only to find it missing or thrown away by lunch time. How frustrating! 

Since I started using this daily planner printable I have to say that it hasn't gone missing or gotten thrown away yet! Woo-hoo!! I think my family has caught on that this is mommy's list and nobody dares to toss it out absentmindedly

Because this daily planner has helped me keep my task list and goals organized, I find that I get more accomplished during the day than I was doing before I started using it. Plus I just love the decorative border and the fact that I can print out a new planner page each day.  

Each morning before I start my day I sit down at the computer, print off a the daily planner and jot down the tasks I must do that day as well as any goals or notes I want to remember.

Since my list and notes are written on the daily planner everyone in my household can actually read it too and it doesn't get tossed out!

Yeah for organization!!

Daily Planner Printable

This daily planner sure has helped me out so I thought I would share the free printable with you too! Click HERE to get the printable pdf file.  

Daily Planner Printable

I keep my completed planner pages in a three ring binder so I can refer back to them in the future. At the end of the month I like to flip through the pages to see how productive I was during the month. It is amazing how quickly you forget all that you accomplished!

This is the first time I've created a pdf daily planner and I'm so proud of my new skills. 

If you want to make the planner editable you can use this cool tool on I learned how to do this by watching Youtuber, Sandra Eide. Her tutorial on how to create a fillable PDF in Canva is easy to follow and well done! If you are interested in learning how to do this yourself click on her name (above) and it will take you directly to the video on Youtube. 

Looking for more helpful printables? Get instant access to all of the free printables I have created right HERE. Go check it out and let me know what you like or would like to see in the future. 

Thursday, September 17, 2020

5 Fun Addition & Subtraction Math Games Your Kids Will Love To Play

Kids love to play games so why not turn learning a new math concept into a fun game! I found that my kids learned faster and new concepts "stuck" in their brains better if we played games centered around the new skill they were learning. 

This post contains affiliate links which means if you click on a link and make a purchase I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. For more information please see my Disclaimer page.

As the saying says, "practice makes perfect" so when my kids were in their early elementary years learning how to add and subtract, I knew that in order for them to grasp a new math concept and learn their math facts they were going to need a lot of practice. 

The practice part can get a little boring if they use the same method of practicing over and over and over.... 

Today I am going to share with you 5 fun games I played with my kids as a way to get them to practice their addition and subtraction facts! These games are so fun they won't even know they are learning and doing school work!

5 Fun Addition & Subtraction Games To Play With Your Kids


Grab a full deck of cards to play this game! Prior to playing mark the following numbers in pen or marker on the face cards: Joker = 0, Ace = 1, Jack = 11, Queen = 12, King = 13. 

Shuffle the deck then deal all the cards out alternating between you and your child until the whole deck has been dealt. Players should be sitting across from each other so that the space between them can be used as the game playing space. Each player should have a pile of cards (draw pile) in front of them placed face down. 

Before the first turn, players should agree if they will be playing the addition version or the subtraction version of the game. 

On the count of three (1...2...3) both players take their top card from their own draw pile and flip it over placing it face up in the middle of the playing space. The players add or subtract (depending on what was previously agreed to) the value of the two face up cards and shout out the answer. The player who shouts out the correct answer first wins and gets to collect both cards placing them next to their face down draw pile. 

When a player runs out of cards from their draw pile they can flip over the cards they won during the round and use this as their new draw pile. 

Play continues until one player wins all of the cards!

* Advanced version: If during a turn matching cards are played (for example two 4's are played) then each player on the count of three turns over an additional card from their draw pile. Players should add all four cards values together and shout out the answer. The player that gives the correct answer first wins all of the cards in play. (this may not work well for subtraction since the answer could result in a negative number - a concept young elementary students would not be introduced to yet!)


This is a game our family loves to play when we have a few minutes to spare waiting for food at a restaurant or in a waiting room at an appointment. Because we like to play it so much I always carry a dice and a piece of paper and pencil around in my purse! 

This is a fun addition game! Players take turns rolling a dice and adding the value of the dice after each roll until they choose to stop and pass the dice to the next player. The twist is that if a 1 is rolled at anytime during a player's turn, their cumulative score for that round goes to zero, their turn ends and they pass the dice to the next player.  During a player's turn they can roll as many or as few times as they want as long as they don't roll a 1. Each player can choose to keep rolling, increasing their risk of losing all their accumulated points or stop rolling and keep their score for that round.  

One person goes first and rolls the dice. The value of the dice is their current score for this round. The player can choose to keep their current score or roll again adding the value of the second roll to their current score. The risk of continuing to play is that if at anytime the player rolls a 1, their current score for that round goes to zero and their turn ends. The player whose turn it is can choose to continue rolling the dice, adding points to their score or they may stop rolling the dice and pass the dice to the next player. If a player stops rolling and hasn't gotten a 1 then their total score for the round is written down on a score sheet under their name. The cumulative score written on the score sheet cannot be wiped out in future rounds if a player rolls a 1. The first player to score 100 points as tallied on the score sheet wins the game! 


Before play begins ask your child to draw hopscotch boxes in chalk on your driveway or sidewalk. To start use boxes up to 10 but as they grow in their math skills add more boxes!  

The purpose of the game is to teach/reinforce addition and subtraction facts to ten. Have your child stand behind the 1 box then you ask them math facts such as what is 1+3. They give their answer by jumping through the hopscotch boxes until they land on the correct answer (4). You then ask them a second math problem that includes the number they are currently standing on so for example you can ask what is 4+3. They should hopscotch hop to the number 7 box. At any time you can mix up the math problems and ask questions like what us 7 - 2.  Now your child has to jump backwards to the 5. Keep asking math problems until they reach the 10. Once they reach the 10 they "won" and they can start over and play again. 

* Indoor play - when I play this game with my children inside I use square sticky notes as the hopscotch grid, writing the numbers on the sticky notes and laying them out on the floor in the proper order. The child should jump from sticky note to sticky note just the same way as they would on an outdoor chalk hopscotch grid. 


This game takes a little pre-game preparation but once you have it done you are all set to play! Here is what you need to prep before hand so you can play this game anytime with your children:


Cut out circles from the red and yellow construction paper and glue the small yellow circle to the center of each larger red circle. Glue the craft stick to the back of the circle. Next glue two leaves to the back of each flower. Using your sharpie marker write simple addition or subtraction problems on the front and back of each wooden craft stick - do not include the answers!

I like to keep my math flowers in a small mason jar filled with dried beans or peas so that we can play while we are sitting at the table. The peas prevent the child from seeing the math problem until they pull the flower out of the jar. Encourage your child to "pick" a flower, read the math problem and say the answer. If they get it right let them keep the flower but if they get it wrong have the child return the flower to the jar. The person with the most flowers after the jar is empty wins. 

Four In A Row

Looking for a game to boost your child's math skills and confidence as well as help them to think strategically? Four In A Row is a simple yet super fun addition and subtraction game that will help grow their math skills every time they play. Master each level and they can move on to a more challenging and difficult level!

This is a free printable game I created just for you! Play it as often as you like. I find that the Do-A-Dot markers work great for this game! Or laminate the pages and use dry-erase markers so you only have to print the game cards once.

Click HERE to download the printable.

*disclaimer - please do not distribute or sell this printable for profit or personal gain. 

More fun learning ideas...

Check out some of these other great games and activities you can do with your child to teach them math at home:

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Easy Snickerdoodle Zucchini Bread Recipe

A fruitful summer garden can sure produce a large quantity of zucchini! A healthy zucchini plant can yield a bountiful quantity of zucchini. But what do you do with all of that zucchini? Make Snickerdoodle Zucchini Bread of course!

This post contains affiliate links which means if you click on a link and make a purchase I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. For more information please see my Disclaimer page for more information. Thanks

My neighbor brought over a whopper of a zucchini to give to us the other day. She and her husband had been out of town for a little while and when they got home this big boy was staring up at them from their raised bed garden box! It's a biggie for sure. 

Sometimes the super large zucchini have tougher skin and are less flavorful but using one in this recipe will not disappoint!

This easy to whip up recipe makes two loaves of yummy snickerdoodle bread. I use a stoneware loaf pan and LOVE how any type of break I make in it turns out great.  If you don't have a great loaf pan check out my favorite one here!


This recipe calls for shredded zucchini. I use my handy Presto Salad Shooter to shred it. I LOVE this little kitchen tool because it comes with different blades so I can slice, shred or fancy slice (with those cool wavy textures - think wavy potato chips) in no time at all. 

I love to freeze one and eat the other or sometimes I give one loaf to a friend or neighbor. If you choose to freeze a loaf make sure you wrap it in saran wrap then put it in a large Ziploc freezer bag. I haven't had any problems with freezing this bread then using at a later date! Just thaw it on the countertop and enjoy. I do recommend using it withing 3-6 months of freezing though. 

Easy Snickerdoodle Zucchini Bread


  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups grated zucchini (about 1 large zucchini)


  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two standard sized loaf pans and set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, mix oil, eggs, sugar, and vanilla until well combined.
  • In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients and mix together
  • Pour the flour mixture into the egg mixture and mix again until fully combined. Batter will be thick. Stir in zucchini until fully incorporated.
  • In a small bowl, combine topping ingredients.
  • Pour half the batter into prepared pans and sprinkle with 1/2 cinnamon sugar mixture.
  • Cover with remaining batter and sprinkle with remaining cinnamon and sugar.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes or until a knife is inserted and comes out clean. Allow to cool before slicing.

I love a fresh slice of snickerdoodle zucchini bread with my morning cup of Chai tea! It goes well with coffee too if you prefer coffee

Check out these other great recipes I know you will love!! 

This is my most popular recipe on this blog! Warning - it is so good you are going to have a hard time not eating it all in one sitting!! 

Carmel corn and kettle corn - easy to make and super addicitive. 

I'd love to hear how your Snickerdoodle Zucchini Bread turned out! What are some of your other favorite zucchini recipes? 

Monday, August 31, 2020

5 Encouraging Things You Should Say To Your Husband Every Day

Marriage is hard work. Busy schedules, children, finances and pure exhaustion can cause stress in any marriage. As a wife our job is to be a helper for our husband and one way we can help them is by encouraging them daily. These 5 simple ways to encourage your husband will have a positive impact on your relationship and marriage

This post may contain affiliate links which means if you click on a link and make a purchase I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. For more information please see my Disclaimer page. Thanks!

5 Encouraging Things You Should Say to Your Husband Every Single Day

1 - Pray For Your Husband

Ask your spouse regularly what you as his wife can specifically pray for for him. Maybe he has anxiety about your finances or his job has been very stressful lately. Asking him how and what you can pray for him is one of the most important ways you can encourage your husband. Make sure you tell him you will be praying for him. 

I like to pray out loud with my husband for a few minutes each day specifically asking God to give him wisdom, thanking God for my husband's abilities and specifically asking God to help him in the ways he shared with me before I pray for him. 

2 - Tell Him You Love Him

Have you fallen into the habit of saying "love ya" as your husband pecks you on the cheek and rushes out the door to work. This is nice and all but not quite the romantic, look him in the eye kind of "I love you". Finding a minute or two to be alone as husband and wife, even if it's when you are falling into bed exhausted from a hard day of work, looking each other in the eye and saying "I love you____________(insert husband's name in the blank" is a way you can daily encourage your husband. 

Feeling truly loved by your spouse is an encouragement to everyone so make sure to tell him daily how much you love him. 

3 - Thank Him For His Hard Work

Men love to feel appreciated and respected, it is hard wired into their DNA! One way to encourage him is to tell him how much you appreciate the hard work he has done whether it is mowing the lawn, working at his job all day or helping out with the kids. Thanking your husband with a non-sarcastic, genuine tone, expecting nothing in return is a great way to encourage your spouse. 

If he has been slow to tackle some of the chores on the ever-growing "honey do list" don't gripe about how long it took him to get something done, instead just thank him for the work he did do. 

4 - Tell Him He Did A Good Job

Men take pride in their accomplishments and love it when their wife tells them how good of a job they did. Restrain yourself from nit-picking him about a task he just finished but instead tell your guy he did a good job. 

All men love to have someone tell them they did a good job! Taking notice and then saying "good job" is a great way to encourage your husband. Look for opportunities to say "good job" daily!

5 - Tell Him How Much You Appreciate Him

Feeling unappreciated can cause a lot of stress in a relationship especially a marriage. As a wife making sure you tell your husband how much you appreciate him for who he is and his role as a husband is a terrific way to encourage your spouse. 

Saying something like "Honey, I appreciate how well you care for this kids by making sure their bikes are in good condition" is just a simple example of how you can encourage your husband. 

Find something you appreciate about your husband every day and tell him! 

Keep your relationship strong and healthy by doing and saying these words of encouragement daily. Remember you are his helper and your words are powerful and important to him. 

Use a genuine tone that isn't belittling, sarcastic or nagging and don't expect anything (praise or compliments) in return from him. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Cheap & Easy Beauty Hacks For A Busy Momma

One of the struggles all Mom's have is finding time to keep up with any kind of beauty routine. 

This post may contain affiliate links which means that if you click on a link and make a purchase I may receive a commission at no additional cost to you. For more information please see my Disclaimer page. 

When you have a newborn being able to squeeze in a quick shower is considered a luxury - forget about makeup or styling your hair!

As our family grew and my kids got older our schedule just seemed to get busier making it much harder for me to find time to pamper myself or even establish a simple & quick beauty routine! 

Those days of long, relaxing salon visits for a cut, color and style or even a mani/pedi are now memories of a distant past replaced with a quick trip to the salon for a trim, leaving with still wet, un-styled hair - which, if I'm honest, will probably get pulled back into a pony tail before I even make it home! 

If you are a busy Mom like me you know exactly what I'm saying! Time is precious and as our kids get busier our life gets busier too. Something has to give and it most likely is your beauty routine. 

But guess what? It doesn't have to! Today I'm going to share with you a round up of some simple and inexpensive beauty hacks for a busy Mom that will certainly help you reclaim some of your long lost beauty routine. 

I know we all feel better when we look our best but it doesn't need to take hours or cost and arm and a leg but rather a few minutes each day with some simple, over the counter products!

Inexpensive & Easy Beauty Hacks For A Busy Mom

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  • Having pasta for dinner tonight? Don't let all that steamy pasta water go to waste! While the pasta is simmering away throw your hair up in a pony tail, drape a towel over your head and put your head over the boiling water in your pasta pot for 5 minutes. For a last blast of steam make sure you repeat this step when you drain the pasta! Even if you aren't having pasta for dinner you can still take advantage of a steaming pot of water to provide an inexpensive and easy facial. 

  •  Capture that youthful glowing skin with an at home, easy to make liquid highlighter. According to That Look You Love (Youtube), combine shimmer, baby oil and Nivea Post Shave Balm and apply it to your face and lips. (see the infographic from below for more details)

  • Prevent hangnails and jagged cuticles with a mixture of vitamin E oil, coconut oil an a few drops of your favorite essential oil. Not only will your nails and cuticles look and feel better but the essential oil will provide a soothing scent to last for quite awhile. Your hands will feel salon pampered as a fraction of the cost too!

  • Get rid of those dark circles caused by those sleepless nights spent nursing or soothing a little one with this simple and effective trick. Grab two tea bags of strong black high caffeine tea and a mug of boiling hot water. Steep the tea bags in the water for 3-4 minutes. Remove the tea bags from the water and place them just under your eyes for 3 minutes. (Caution - Before placing them under your eye make sure the temperature of the tea bags is not too hot!)

  • Body butter is a great skin care product that makes your skin soft and smooth. I found this amazing recipe from Lemon Peony that only takes 4 ingredients, is natural, organic and super easy to make. All you need is beeswax, coconut oil, shea butter and vitamin E oil. Add your favorite essential oil scent if you desire too! Find the complete instructions and video here

  • DIY Bath bombs are the perfect at home, inexpensive and easy to make beauty tool. You can customize the scent too! If you don't have time for a long hot bath you could toss one in the shower while you are showering to capture the relaxing aroma and feel the fizzy fun on your feet. Check out this post: "Easy DIY Bath Bombs With Custom Flavor Recipes" with a whole bunch of bath bomb flavor recipes for you to try. They also make great gifts for your mom friends.  

  • Boost new life into your hair with a homemade hair mask. Prior to shampooing mix up these simple ingredients, massage into your hair with a wide tooth comb and let the ingredients work their magic. Wash with a mild shampoo after using the hair mask. Follow these 6 great hair mask recipes at Your Beauty Blog

A few more hacks...

Check out this great infographic that is full of DIY beauty hacks that you an try at home (especially in the event of a pandemic where all the salons and spas are closed!!). From homemade highlighters to at-home facial treatments, these selft-care tricks will help you maintain a normal beauty routine and keep your stress levels down! Thanks to for the great infographic!


Organize Your Beauty Supplies & Tools

I've found that having the right tools on hand encourages me to keep up my beauty routine. For me it begins with organization. If my products like makeup, hair products, brushes and combs are shoved into the bathroom drawer haphazardly then I'm more likely to skip some steps or just give up all together. 

I recently found this great organizational beauty caddy to help me keep my beauty tools in order and it has helped a ton! I've also been using a makeup drawer organizer to keep things in their place and I love it too. 

For a mom with little to no time for regular hair cuts you can extend the time between hair cuts by using a good quality hair brush. I LOVE the Wet Brush! It doesn't pull when I brush through my hair and easily gets tangles out without breaking the ends - and it is a time saver. No longer am I standing for an eternity in front of the mirror trying to brush through my tangled hair. All it takes is a few minutes to comb out my whole head of hair so I can get on with styling (or throwing it up in a pony tail)!

Do you have any beauty tips, tools or tricks that help you keep up your beauty routine even when your life is super busy? Please - share them in the comments! 

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Top 10 Homeschool Supplies You Need For A Successful School Year

Whether you have been homeschooling for several years or this is your first year homeschooling there are some essential tools that will help you and your kids have a successful homeschool year. 

A popular questions I get asked is "What things/tools do I need in order to homeschool my children?" Since we are heading into our 11th year of homeschooling I decided to put together a list of my top 10 supplies and tools that help us to have a successful homeschooling year. 

I hope this list is an encouragement to you if you are just starting out on the homeschooling journey and for those who are veterans I'd love to hear what else you would add to this list! 

This post contains affiliate links which means if you click on a link and make a purchase I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. For more information please see my Disclaimer page. Thanks.

On a side note, you might be wondering why I don't have curriculum on this top 10 list of tools for a successful homeschool year. Because homeschool curriculum is such a HUGE standalone topic, I decided to exclude it from this list. Instead, I chose to focus on the other great supplies and tools you need to have a successful homeschool year. So with that said let's check out my top 10! 

My Top 10 Supplies You Need For A Successful Homeschool Year

Scuba gear is to scuba diver as books are to homeschooler - ESSENTIAL! My love of books has been passed down to my kids and because of our book obesssion we had to invest in some big sturdy bookcases. Aside from bathrooms and our laundry room there is a bookcase full of books in every room of our house! My husband and I invested in some good quality bookcases for our homeschool books knowing that having our school books organized and located in a central location for school was essential for our homeschool year to be successful. 

We use a mix of curriculum but a majority of our books are from our Sonlight cores. I give each book in every core a color coded label and shelve them together on one of three bookcases in our home office. I don't think it is completely necessary to have a "school room" set aside in your home but it is helpful to have a space dedicated to homeschool books. This just helps with organization!

My kids all have their own bookshelves in their bedrooms too. The books they keep in their rooms are not school books but books they like to read for leisure like the Little House on the Prairie series, the Missing Series or Dog Man books and Fly Guy books

I recommend investing in solid, sturdy, quality bookshelves because they will get A LOT of use over the years. Investing in bookcases that are built to last will save you in the long run especially if you have more than one child you plan to homeschool. 

Pencils & Pencil Sharpener
It might seem pretty obvious that your homeschool students will need pencils and a good quality pencil sharpener but because they are so important I had to include them on the top 10 list. 

My kids LOVE to pick their own pencils out each year, which has become one of our back to school traditions. My oldest daughter prefers mechanical pencils and a good supply of extra leads. Everyone in our house knows that the mechanical pencils are hers and they better ask before using them. The other kids enjoy the "old school" #2 pencils. I try to get a few packs of decorated pencils too just to keep things fun. 

We always know when our school year is coming to a close because the pencil bin seems to be full of stubby, eraser-less pencils. My recommendation is to buy several extra packs of pencils at the beginning of the year when you can find great back-to-school deals and then toss out the used up stubby ones at the end of the year. 

With all of the pencils your kids will use this year you will of course want to have a good working, quality pencil sharpener. Electric or manual doesn't matter as long as the sharpener can do its job sharpening pencils to a fine point without breaking the lead in the process. My kids prefer an electric pencil sharpener - my favorite is the Wescott Halo, however I do have a small Mr. Pen handheld manual sharpener too as a back up or to take along if we do school on the go. 

Arts & Crafts Supplies
Sure this is a very broad top 10 item, but in our house arts and craft supplies are very important. Whether you are going to teach an art class to your kids or just allow them to explore on their own, having the supplies available up front will make your life so much easier. 

Here are some of the basic art supplies we keep on hand all year round that you might want to consider stocking up on prior to the start of your homeschool year (links to my favorites included):

2. Glue - liquid, sticks and hot glue sticks

My favorite art book that I've used in our homeschool over the years is How to Teach Art To Children. It is written for kids in grades 1-6 however, older middle school students will still enjoy it too. The book presents the seven basic elements of art and encourages kids practice each element. The book has simple projects that any parent can guide their children through with easy to make projects for each lesson. 

Storage Caddy
With all of the pencils, art supplies, scissors and other school supplies it is helpful to have a storage caddy to put these supplies in.

During our school day I usually take the pencil caddy out and put it on the table so that the kids can easily find their favorite pencil. When we do an art project I haul out the art caddy and paint bin. Having your supplies in a caddy that is organized can save you time during the school day and make clean up so much faster. 

Looking for a simple DIY supply caddy? This is a fun project for your kids to do on the first day of homeschool! To make your own caddy, wash out and pull off the labels to 4 tin cans. Wrap a piece of decorative paper or ribbon around a tin can and secure it with glue or tape to give it a little pizzazz! Hot glue or super glue the tin cans together. 

Notebooks & Paper
Having an ample supply of loose leaf paper, printer paper and lined notebooks is essential for any homeschool. All of my kids have several notebooks that they use regularly during their school day. 

I've found that if the paper is available kids enjoy filling up the pages! Let them have the freedom to write creative stories, make doodles, create lists, write essays or personal journal entries in these notebooks. Kids should be writing every day. Writing is a learned skill so practice is essential for them to do regularly.  

Three Ring Binder
Three ring binders help me keep all the loose paper, art projects and endless other things organized and in one place. I give each of the kids a new three ring binder on the first day of school. They love making their own custom binder cover to slip inside the clear plastic cover slot too! My high school age kids keep their weekly schedule in the binder so they can write down what they worked on each day and include any papers they are currently working on in the binder too. 

Without a three ring binder all of their assignments, writing and schedules would be lost or missing by the time we made it to Thanksgiving! 

Library Card
If you ask any veteran homeschool mom what you need in order to homeschool your kids (K-6/7th grade) I can almost guarantee their response will be "a library card and a good math book." It might sound a bit crazy for some if you have never homeschooled before but I can tell you from experience that this statement is true

Your local library is a treasure trove for your homeschool student! The key is getting the right books in your child's hands and reading them. If you aren't quite sure what a "good" book is I highly recommend using the book lists from Sonlight. Sonlight is a homeschool curriculum company known for their amazing selection of literature (living books) in their cores. We are a Sonlight family and have found the readers and read aloud lists to be so full of good quality classic and modern books. 

During the school year I also allow my kids to check out a few "junk" books which in our house a junk book is like junk food - fun to read but provides very little educational value. 
Our local library allows every card holder to check out a maximum of 25 books at a time. We regularly max out this limit (per card!) and seem to always have a bunch of books on hold too. Toting around all those books is a big job so I highly recommend a BIG quality tote bag to use when you make your weekly trips to the library!

Cozy Reading Space
Reading, if you haven't already figured this out yet, is a BIG part of homeschooling! Why not work with your child to create a special reading space that is welcoming, cozy and all theirs

My oldest son created a space in the corner of his bedroom using a bed rest reading pillow, a clip on book light and his favorite fleece blanket. Most mornings before he comes down stairs for breakfast, he can be found cuddled in his reading nook reading a book. 

When my second oldest daughter was younger we created a reading space for her by hanging a round bed canopy from the ceiling in her room. We accessorized the inside of the canopy with a small, fluffy rug and some pillows. She spent hours in her little reading canopy reading, doing school work or playing.


Planner / Organizer
If this is your first year homeschooling I highly recommend that before you start the school year you have some sort of plan in place. This doesn't have to be complicated but it will help give your homeschool year a little structure which I guarantee will help you feel a little more in control. 

Not sure how to start, let me explain my process which might help you with your planning. Each summer I pick a few days to go through each of my kids main school books by subject noting how many chapters or units each subject contains. A typical school year has 36 weeks so I then divide the number of weeks in a school year by the number of chapters or lessons from each of the books to get an idea as to how many weeks each lesson should take. 

I use Excel or Google Sheets to record my planning for the upcoming homeschool year. The first column of the spreadsheet is a list of numbers from 1 to 36. In the next column I add a list of dates for the school year including holiday weeks. Then the following columns after the date column are a list of each subject my child will study with their lessons allocated over the school year weeks. For example, if a math book has 16 lessons I estimate that each lesson will take 2 weeks for my child to start and finish it. On the spreadsheet I allocate each chapter over two weeks. Of course there is a LOT of flexibility in this and I do expect there to be changes but this is just a tool to help me get started and have a plan so I can make sure we are on track. Here is an example of what my planning spreadsheet looks like:

There are TONS of pre-made homeschool planners and organizers available online so you don't have to make your own if you don't have time to! If you are a highly organized mamma who loves each and every activity, lesson and assignment planned and organized I'm sure you will love some of the options available. I recommend the homeschool planner created by Sunnyday Family!

Outdoor Space 
Kids of all ages need to spend time outside EVERY DAY. Speaking from experience, our homeschool day is better when my kids have spent some time outside in the fresh air every day. No matter the weather (except for thunderstorms or other dangerous weather conditions), my kids know that they are required to spend time each day outside. A lot of times they play together shooting baskets or playing a game but sometimes they just like to bring a book outside, sit in a camping chair and read. 

A change of scenery in the middle of the school day can help them (and you) clear their head, get their blood pumping from a little out door activity and help your little ones get the wiggles out! On many occasions my kids ask if we can do school at a park or beach - why not, this is one of the great benefits of homeschooling! I encourage you to get creative and find some great outdoor spaces to visit or even do school at during your homeschool year. 

What tools or supplies would you consider essential for your family's homeschool? If I missed any - please share in the comment section! 

More Homeschooling Help

Looking for more help with your homeschool? Check out the following posts to help you become a successful homeschooler. 

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Tips To Help You Start Homeschooling Your Child

If you are considering homeschooling your child this fall you might be wondering where to start. Not knowing where to even start can create a lot of anxiety and doubts about your ability to properly education your own children from home. Let me reassure you that this is possible and that you and your children can have a successful homeschool experience. 

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Where Do I Begin If I Want To Homeschool My Child?

For many parents the thought of homeschooling is completely overwhelming because they don't know where to start. Their minds are bombarded with questions like "

  • what curriculum do I buy? 
  • what do I tell their old district? 
  • how do I teach math when I am bad at math?
  • how long should our school day be?

How To Communicate Your Plans To Homeschool?

Today I want to suggest a simple plan to get you started on the right path to your family's homeschool journey. 

The first issue to address is how to communicate your family's plans to homeschool your children. Breaking this news to grandparents, relatives and friends is important since their encouragement and support can be a big part of your homeschool journey. You may experience a little push back from your extended family due to their geniune concern for your children's well being, but reassuring them that your decision was made carefully and with lots of prayer and thought can help ease their fears. 

Communicating your plans to homeschool your children to your local school district will be different for everyone based on the state you live in. I highly recommend visiting the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) website to consult with them regarding the proper and legal way to communicate with the school district. Each State has different laws with regards to homeschooling and you will want to make sure your homeschool is operating within your State's guidelines. 

What Subjects To Teach In Your Homeschool?

The next step in your homeschooling journey is to start figuring out what your children will learn this year. Again, you should check your State's laws to make sure your homeschool is in compliance with your State's guidelines and laws. For example, in that State I reside instruction for children ages 6 - 18 must include math, reading, English, science, and social studies. In a student's high school years instruction must also include a study of the Constitution of the United States and our State and the history and present form of civil government of the United States and our State. is a great source and place to start to find the answers to the question about required subjects to teach to your homeschool student. Their site has links to State requirements, laws and other useful links to help you get started. 

When I first started homeschooling I remember wondering what topics should a child learn in each grade. I knew for example, that I had to teach grammar/language arts every year but I wasn't quite sure what sequence I should teach it in. Maybe you have the same question? I found out that every school district decides the sequence of when material is taught therefore there will be some differences as to the timing of when kids learn certain things. For example, some schools might teach kids about world history in 3rd grade but in a different state students might be taught American history in 3rd grade.

The face that there is flexibility in deciding what topics to teach for each subject was a great relief to me. This allowed me to pick and choose what we were going to study based on my kids interests and passions which made homeschooling so much fun. 

Some quick searches online can help you get a broad sense of what kids typically learn in each grade. Remember this is a rough guideline - you don't have to follow it to a T. 

What Curriculum Do I Use For Homeschooling?

Once you know what subjects you have to teach your children it is time to decide what materials you want to use. A big factor to consider when looking for the right curriculum is your budget! Many veteran homeschoolers will tell you that for elementary age children, kindergarten through 4th/5th grade all you need is a library card and a good math book. This might sound a little strange but in reality the library is a wonderful source for reading, science, socials studies, art and much more! 

During my children's elementary school years we spent countless hours in the library. They learned so much from the books we checked out from the library that there is no way I could ever put a price on it. Our local library has been invaluable to our homeschooling journey - and not to mention my wallet!

For young children (pre school - 5th grade) the need for a full curriculum is not even necessary! Young children learn best though play, games, field trips and being read to. Reading aloud to your children is the MOST IMPORTANT thing you can do for them in your homeschool. Keep seat work and worksheets to a minimum so they have a ton of time to explore their world using all of their senses.

The options available for homeschool curriculum are endless and overwhelming! To try and simplify this a little bit for you I thought I would present some ideas to get you started on your search for what to use!

1 - All In One Curriculum Package: 
Several homeschool curriculum companies like Sonlight or Abeka provide you with the option to buy a fully packaged product. What this means is that your main subjects like history, Bible, reading, read alouds, grammar, science and math are all packaged together so when you buy it you get everything you need in one shot. 

Pros - 
  • less work for you in picking books and putting together a full curriculum
  • subjects are all at the same grade level
  • usually the publisher has a daily guide to help you plan your school days and year
Cons -
  • can be very expensive
  • student may be ahead/behind for the level of subjects included
2 - Online Curriculum: 
Many companies publish hard copy printed curriculum also have an online option using their curriculum taught by a certified teacher. 

Pros - 
  • all the curriculum in one place
  • parents involvement is reduced
  • students gain experience with online classes and have connection to a teacher and other students
Cons - 
  • expensive option 
  • too much screen time
  • lacks flexibility to make changes to classes/curriculum if student or parents don't like it

3 - Piecing Together a Variety of Curriculum:
Homeschoolers who use this style of curriculum piece together subjects from a variety of publishing companies. For example in our homeschool we use Sonlight for reading, history and Bible; Math U See for math; Apologia for Science and Abeka for grammar, spelling and language arts.

Pros - 
  • allows parents to customize subjects to students interests and grade level
  • flexibility to change from one curriculum publisher to another easily 
  • more cost effective due to ability to buy used or borrow from friends
Cons -
  • can be a lot of work for parents to gather / order materials
At this point you might be wondering where to even find homeschool curriculum. Fortunately homeschooling has really grown in popularity over the years and so finding the right curriculum is not too hard. Here are some of the places I use to find new or used homeschool curriculum and books:

6. Ebay
9. Facebook Marketplace Buy/Sell

Where In My Home Do I Homeschool?

This might sound like a strange topic but if you are new to homeschooling it is a very real question. Actually I get this question all the time from people who have never homeschooled before. They are just curious what homeschooling looks like. For most, their schooling took place in a public or private school so that is all they have to draw upon. 

I've learned over the years that trying to create a formal public school environment in my homeschool is a recipe for disaster. It just doesn't work. Do you know anyone who loves to sit in a desk

What I can tell you is that every homeschool looks different! Again, this is just another beautiful thing about homeschooling. Honestly, homeschooling looks different for each of my kids too. Since they are all unique individuals, their homeschooling can be unique to fit their needs. Here is what our homeschool looks like for each of my kids: 

11th grader - My oldest is a morning person through and through. Her school days typically start around 7 am. She chooses to spend most of her days either at the kitchen table or at the desk in our office for a majority of her subjects. When she is reading however she likes to snuggle up on her bed where it is quiet and peaceful. Some of her classes are online so of course these classes are done on the computer. 

9th grader - This child loves to sleep so her days usually start around 8:30/9:00. Most days she wakes up, grabs one of her books (probably off the floor!) and reads for a little while. After she gets ready for the day she spends half of her school day studying in her bedroom and half in the living room on the couch. Art class is done at the kitchen table though! 

6th grader - As a middle schooler my son loves to do his school work while on the couch. If he is distracted and having a hard time focusing I find a little more formal environment like the kitchen table helps him stay on task. If he is reading a chapter book his favorite place is either in his bed or a small reading nook in his bedroom. He loves reading and can get lost in it so I do have to give him a time limit so he can make sure to complete other work that needs to get done that day. 

2nd grader - My youngest loves to snuggle with me or any of his older siblings. He loves to practice reading on one of our large recliners where he sits right next to me so I can help point out where he is reading in the book. He prefers to do any writing assignment or math at the kitchen table though. I think this makes him feel like one of the "big kids". 

I read aloud to all of my kids every day. They all love good stories and so do I. We have a few guidelines for the kids when I am reading to them so that distractions are kept to a minimum. The kids are allowed to do a quiet activity like pearler beading, rainbow looming, eating breakfast/lunch, doodling or coloring while I read aloud. They are not allowed on any electronic devices or allowed to play any games though since that can be very disruptive. Most of the time I sit on the couch and they sit next to me listening to the story. It is a very precious time for all!

If you aren't sure where in your home to do your homeschooling time here are some questions you might want to ask yourself:

  • What type of environment does your child do well in?
  • Where do they like to go when you read to them or they read to themselves? 
  • How long is your child's attention span? 

Take a look around your house to look for the answers to these questions. Don't worry about not having an official homeschool classroom. Your whole house, inside and outside is your homeschooling classroom. Take advantage of the variety of spaces and see what your child likes best. 

I hope this information has been helpful to you as you begin this exciting new homeschool journey. What questions to you have about starting to homeschool your child? I'd love to share more of our journey and hopefully provide useful tips! Leave me a comment if you have any questions or concerns. 

Don't Forget to Check This Out Too!

Check out this post to see an example of a Homeschool Daily Schedule including tips to help you with one too. Remember there is always flexibility in our daily schedule so no need to stress over it!

Having a hard time finding good read aloud books for your elementary age children? I've put together a list of the top 10 books you should consider reading to your children. Take the work out of digging and read this post today. 

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