Homeschool Kids Smell An Unplanned Day A Mile Away: How to Plan Your Homeschool Week

Homeschool kids smell a day without a 'purpose and plan' like wild animals smell fear.
Normally this is not an issue. I take the time to sit and think through what we are doing in our homeschool day about 4-6 weeks at a time. I have perfect calendar that I print off for each of the boys so they know that "mom has a plan for today, so I better get busy."

I am a little stressed right now because my current calendar/plan runs out in less than 36 hours. The fact that I am not ready for the next step is like a ticking time bomb.

Come Monday morning, if I do not have a clear plan of attack for the day and week my boys will eat me alive.

They KNOW when I do not have a plan.
The run, they hide, they break out the Legos right after breakfast and look up at me with dirty faces and bed-heads and are shocked and even aghast that we have learning to do.

If I do not have a plan, they will forget how to get up, make their beds, add and subtract, multiply and divide, and write legibly.

Sometimes I think it is a conspiracy. "Psst-Maybe if we pretend to forget how to do school mom will let us play all day and live in our pajamas."

Can you relate?
If kids do not see that we are well prepared for our day, week, or topic they do not buy in to whatever learning experience we set before them. They see us grab our teacher's manual and then say, "OK, let's get going. We have a lot of school to do today." They see us begin reading the lesson and make that certain face that says, "what am I supposed to do?"and slip out from under our radar.

When we, the teachers, finally grasp the core of today's lessons they have snuck away from the school area and are resentful that we try to lasso them back to school.

If I am honest with myself, I would resent attending a class where the teacher wasn't prepared. I took the time to come to school, surely she could have prepared in advance to teach me.

Our kids are no different. They need to see that we have invested in their education by taking the time to become familiar and excited with the learning material before we declare it is time for school.

Kids smell a day without a plan and begin wiggling to get out immediately.

What can we do:
  • Plan school for 2-6 weeks at a time.
  • Become extremely familiar with the material before we try to present it to our kids. (remember the teacher from Ferris Beuller? Help us not be like him!)
  • Schedule lessons out for 2-6 weeks in advance. 
  • Write them in pencil, so that when life happens you simply erase and begin again the next day.
  • Never try to teach the school week without a plan. Even if you take a rabbit trail because your kids show a sudden interest in penguins, you will be much better prepared.
  • As homeschoolers include a dinner plan/menu into your school day.
  • Be excited about what you are learning together.
How do I plan?
Calendar! Time Management: Student Planner and Weekly CalendarI have 4-5 weeks of student calendars printed and ready to go, labelled with their names and dates.
I teach 5 core subjects: Bible, Math, English, History, and Science
  • I schedule math in first. It usually is just the next number lesson. I include activities like flash cards, videos, and games in my calendars. If I do not schedule flashcards, the kids do not do flash cards.
  • Next I schedule those easy tasks, like handwriting, phonics workbook pages, and spelling. These are similar to math in that they tend to simply be "the next page#'s".
  • In our home we learn memory verses, so I fill in the verses the kids are working on that week.
  • History is my core, my golden thread. I try to incorporate English and Science activities that go along with what we are learning in history. I have to skim the readings, pull vocabulary and scour for student activities that will work with my boys. This year I am using Story of the World and they have a great Activity Book from which I pull reading comprehension, map, art, and cooking activities. And then of course, there is Pinterest. I have Homeschool boards for every subject and I scour for activities for my boys and pin them often. 
  • Science is my weakest subject as a teacher. I am not entirely sure why, but even superman had a weakness. Science is mine. This year I am trying to integrate our science with what we are learning about in history. For me that means that I am looking for and creating learning activities for the boys.
  • I plan English last. This year I am teaching from Shurley English and LOVE it. It is very well planned, so in all honesty it is another, "just do the next lesson" curriculum. I glance through the lessons as I am planning and try to spot potential issues. For instance, my boys need two days for the writing assignments, sometimes two so I take that into account.
  • Lastly, I double check my pencil calendars against the master calendar looking for conflicts. Are we home all of the days I planned to teach school? Are there any obvious monkey-wrench days (days that are destined to fail before they begin). I make adjustments whenever necessary.

While every homeschool family has different goals and ambitions, talents and abilities, we all sacrifice something to homeschool.
My husband and I personally sacrifice time. Lots of time.
It is not easy homeschooling a troop of boys of various ages, grades, interests and learning styles. After 15 years I have learned that the key to success is being prepared before the day begins.

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Medieval Science: Sundials, Candles Clocks, and Water Clocks

I have been disappointed with our science curriculum this year. We are studying Medieval History together and I really wanted to integrate our science as well. I found a great little picture book with medieval science, inventions, and discoveries but it was lacking with hands-on activities.

What's a girl to do?

Well, I decided to make my own activity pack.
This 9 page pack has a reading and reading comprehension activity, copy work pages that match each of my kids handwriting levels, and 3 hands on projects. The boys doesn't know it yet, but we will be making a sundial, a candle clock, and a water clock.

I am super excited!
 I will add in pictures as we do the activities.
Happy Learning.

Army Men, Competing, and Inventing: A Great Morning

Our morning began like this:

This cute little guy found an old army parachute guy amongst the toy collection in our home.

This one discovery turned into an all morning endeavour and had my husband and I enjoying the simplicity of childhood.

Hubby taught this guy how to throw the army man, and then the fun truly began.  Enjoy the photo journey!

Hold him kinda like a baseball .

                                     Chuck him high in the air .

Watch his chute deploy!

Bigger brother tried to outdo him, by digging into the toys and finding the "Super G.I. Joe" with Parachute.

Here is his explanation for how you throw the army man.

This guy looked around and discovered there were no more army men with parachutes, so he made one!

One grocery bag with the handles cut off

Gut a length of paracord, and pull out the 7 fibers (strings).
Find small pebbles...

Using the pebbles wrapped in the bag, tie the cords onto the bag. (Apparently the pebbles help the bag not rip! Great tip hubby!)

                                                           Will it work?

Fly, Bionicle, fly!!!


This was such a fun morning. There is something about watching your kids delight in simple childhood pleasures that truly delight the soul!

Of course, Hubby had to show us video. An 80 year old woman has a major parachute malfunction and lives to tell the tale.

Have fun with your kids today!

Pre-K, Kindergarten, First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, Twelfth, Higher Education, Adult Education, Homeschooler, Staff, Not Grade Specific -

Mosaic Craft: Learning about the Byzantine Emprire and Mosaics

Did you know that you can make beautiful crafts with painted eggs shells?

My boys and I are studying the Middle Ages right now.
We were fascinated with the incredible mosaic displays of the Byzantine Empire. Talk about patient artists!

We did some internet research, looked at incredible mosaic designs (like in the Hagai Sophia!) we decided to give this type of art a try.
We collected and painted eggs shells (using nail polish borrowed from a freinds with girls), then began creating our own terra cotta pot designs.

The kids loved this activity so much!

It is funny how easy it is to bypass the messy crafty things with our kids and to opt for the quick "read and discuss" strategy. Things like this take time. 
It took us two weekends to collect and wash enough eggshells for 3 boys, another few days to paint them (since we opted for nail polish it was stinky!), and then 3 sittings so far to work on the actual mosaics. 

We have had many discussions as the boys work about how incredible the ancient mosaics are and they are beginning to truly understand that they did not just "happen".

I created an activity packet to go along with our Story of the World study.
The inspiration for this packet and activity is from chapter 4, in case you too are reading Story of the World with your kiddos.You can get your copy by clicking on the image.

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Homeschooling and Beautiful Hair for Little Girls

What does a beautiful braid have to do with homeschool?

I was super excited to learn how to do this easy braid, but since I do not have daughters I wanted to share it with you!


If you haven't entered my Fall Give-away: It is not too late!
It is free and super easy!

PS- I am collecting beautiful hair styles for my future granddaughters. If you have links to any, please share in the comments below!

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Fall Giveaway Rafflecopter giveaway

I am excited to share some of my creations with you!
My Fall math and literacy super bundle has a wide assortment of fall and Thanksgiving themed activities.
Beginning sounds, roll a turkey game, big, bigger, and biggest activities, make your own clock, lacing cards and more. This bundle is truly lacked with fun and learning.

How do you enter? It is easy!
Choose a way to earn points and you are automatically entered!

This giveaway ends Monday night (10/6) at midnight.

Click on the images to see what you may win!
Prize: Fall Math and Literacy Super Bundle and your choice of any of my products listed in my store!

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No, you do not "get me", 
but you do get to chose 
one of any of 
my products at my store!

One Of Those Days

As a Homeschooler, we can build unrealistic expectations about our kids and school.
We are home, loving on our kids all day so they should be perfect students right?

When you're done laughing, I'll continue...

I have 5 boys. Been homeschoolin' 15 years. I teach workshops, blog about homeschooling, and create learning packed for others to teach their kids. I never have bad days. My kids are perfect.

Today, was one of those days. We had just come out of a long weekend and on of the kids simply could not get his attitude together.

Every single activity and lesson took hours rather than minutes.
I am not proud of how frustrated I became.
The entire was a total struggle.

In the end, grumpy child overcame his attitude and completed his last lesson just as Daddy was walking in the door after work. It was a long day. We started at 8:30. Ended at 5:30. (Actually another child, our 11th grader is still working as I write this...)

I have been sitting here reflecting on the day.
Why was it so hard?
What could I have done differently to assist grumpy child so that negativity would not have claimed his sweet heart all day long?
Should I have called it a day early and then started over tomorrow?

Truth is, I do not know.

I am really cranking up the level of schoolwork the boys are completing this year.
We have exciting ground to cover together.

Since there are 3 kids doing the same lessons, I honestly cannot afford to skip a day just because someone does not feel like working. What about the kids who had a great attitude? They would be frustrated the next day while they wait for the other to catch up.

All i know is that today, I needed to win the battle.
 Child does not want to work... Tough cookies.
Work anyway.
Harsh? I don't think so.

After 15 years, I have learned to pick my battles. I could clearly see that today's bad attitude could not be rewarded with time off to play. While it was painful, making him press through until he was done was the right thing to do; hard, but right.

So, I know I am not the only Homeschooler that has "hard days".
How do you handle days when your kids are off balance and grumpy, grumpy, grumpy?

Pre-K, Kindergarten, First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, Twelfth, Higher Education, Adult Education, Homeschooler, Staff, Not Grade Specific -

Problem resolved?

In my "spare time" I write articles that are meant to encourage you or inspire myself to continue along this homeschooling journey here on my blog.

The last few days, the last two articles I posted keep resenting to my readers via email. Drat!
I think I fixed the problem!
Don't give up on me. It just looks like this blog decided to resend the insider emails on its own.

Thanks for understanding that I am human and make mistakes! My heart is to encourage and equip you in your journey of homeschooling your kiddos. Thanks for simply deleting any duplicate emails you get from me.

Have a wonderful day!

-How did your day begin?
Mine began with this error and two kids rolling out of bed to start school at 6:00!!

How do you deal with kids that are ready to go long before you are?
Right now I man thankful that they have their planners. They can work in independent work quietly...
I need a cup of coffee:).

21 Thanksgiving Math Activities for Little Ones

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 I am super excited about this next activity pack!
21 Thanksgiving Math Activities for you pre-K- First graders.
While I wrote it with Kindergarteners in mind, it would be fun for your little ones:).

This activity pack is loaded with fun coloring and math activities for your little ones. I loved holiday and themed pages because it seems even my older kids want to use them. It must be the "holiday buzz"!

You can click on the links to the right to view any of my learning packs, or simply click here.

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Experince First: Marine Biology

Experience First: Marine Biology is a post from Bekki @ A Better Way to Homeschool where we learn to train our children to become lifelong learners. If you have enjoyed this post, be sure to follow Bekki on YouTubeTwitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Google+!

I am not excited about marine biology. The thought of teaching about bio-luminescence and phytoplankton simply do not cross my mind during the school year. So what if I have a Marine Biologist hiding inside one of my children?

This is a prime example of experience first. You know, get up to your elbows in a subject first, then teach about it later...

photo.JPGOur second son worked all spring and summer to pay his own way on a Tall Ship adventure. He was excited to learn to sail, kayak, and snorkel. He just returned this past weekend with a passion to learn all about marine biology. Why?

Photo: Great shot taken by our friends on the Condor Express this summer while getting mugged by humpbacks and blues on our three week expedition.
He studied different phytoplankton under a microscope.

 He Observed an octopus in the ships aquarium.

 He snorkeled among our state fish (the garibaldi).

Finally, he swam with baby seal lions. Actually, one jumped right onto his back while he was on his boogie board: How cool is that?

Should it surprise me that he now wants to study marine biology? Of course not! He was able to experience the wonder of the ocean before I ever had him prepare a 5 paragraph essay on the wide varieties of ocean creatures.

Take your children out into this amazing world. Let them get wet, muddy, and  wonderfully dirty. Explore until you find what makes their heart skip a beat, then dive into the books to learn more. You will be thrilled with the "education" you are delivering to your children.