Thursday, May 12, 2016

New YouTube adventure! The Virtual Homeschool Co-op

So there is a new YouTube channel where homeschooling mamas (well dads too) can be a part of by joining the fun by putting up their video responses or simply just partake in by viewing them!

I know I have a ton of homeschooling pals who visit my blog-so I am definitely addressing you all....please consider joining!  You can set up a channel super easy like and follow the assignments (doing the ones that apply) and then build from there. Your voice is important too and we need you there!

Just Sew Trish started this channel and so far many have joined.  I finally did too.  Again, I get it can be intimidating-I mean I had no clue if anyone would ever watch a single video of mine (they have) so think about it.  If you just want to view and learn that is great too.

First assignment:  do an intro video.  Well, mine is a bit cheeky and full of sass.  I literally filmed, refilmed and filmed it some more.  Several takes-felt like a billion times. Over a couple weeks of trying too (seriously) but I finally got a goofy one done.  There was always something happening to waylay my attempts. This is my "I have had it, it's going up as is!" video for ya.  I promise I won't be so crazy from here on out (or will I?) LOL

Click this link to go to the main Virtual Homeschool Co-op channel (this is the first assignment video but you can go back to the playlist to see them all).  Seriously, there are some awesome gals who have joined and their responses are great.

And if you haven't already subscribed to my channel-please do so!  Thanks!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Continent Boxes: South America

Here we are, having moved across the ocean to study S. America.  But wait-you may be wondering what happened to Europe? Well, here's the thing.  We will be studying the Medieval/Renaissance time period for history next year (2016-17)-so I decided to waylay the European study until then.  So we jumped across the great Atlantic to land on the S. A. shoreline.

I didn't have a lot of time to gather more goodies since I was not going to cover this until next year-but that is how things go.  So a better planned continent box stuffer would probably have a few more trinkets and things to look at.  This is what we have (so far) as I will continue to find things to pop into it (for perhaps future grandchildren).

Contents for the South American Box:

**FYI:  the Safari Toobs and the dig kit are linked to my Amazon Affiliate program

*Easter Island Statues:  From the Safari Toob World Landmarks 

*Easter Island Monument Dig kit:  This is actually a part of his archaeology unit but once done he can toss this into the box too (Amazon)

*[Venezuela] Wooden Chocolate Box:  gift from a friend (yes, we have some awesome friends who understand our need for chocolate)

*[Brazil] Trinket Box:  gift from sister-in-law who is from Brazil.

*[Honduras] Coffee Bag (empty of course):  gift from yet another friend (his family owns this coffee plantation)

*Animal Cards:  from the animals card set from Target

*S.A. landmark cards:  Landmarks cards set from Target

*Postcards:  from my sister-in-law

*Stamps:  mostly from eBay

*Coins:  from eBay

*We also have access to a gorgeous travel bag my sister-in-law gave our oldest daughter (for graduation) that was hand-made in Puru (out of llama or alpaca wool-just cannot recall which)

*Bat:  there are many bats to be found in S.A.  so I thought I would throw this dude in (probably from the dollar store)

Product Details
image from

I could purchase the Rainforest Safari Toob too.  I still may do that.  Just haven't had the time to really add more to this.  Plus, I plan on hitting the Goodwill and Salvation Army to look for souvenirs from here as well. That's all we have in our box for now-hope it helps you out for ideas. 

Field Trip Idea:

We are going to go to dinner at our local Rainforest Cafe.  Just to enjoy the (albeit fake and noisy) ambiance of the S.A. landscape-well and the food and the mist that drizzles here and there near the displays. LOL

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Artist Study: Monet

Claude Monet 1899 Nadar crop.jpg
image from
Claude Monet

please note-I have some of these linked to my Amazon Affiliate account

Linnea in Monet's Garden (HB)
don't own but recommend this-
great for young and old :)

Some books [in the pic] were from our library.
I forgot to write down the titles/authors tho.
My bad.  Just check your library for their selections.

I have used many artist books from the "Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artist" series-Monet is one of them.  I also forgot to take the pic of the Monet and the Impressionists book for Kids I checked out (oops), and wanted to include it-so I have it linked here. We ended up using Pinterest and YouTube for our final choices.  The coloring book is another great way to add in some art projects for those who don't like to draw but would rather color/watercolor on a pre-drawn page.

Picture Study Resources:

Use calendars when you can. The prints are usually very nice and large enough to glean many details.

We have a slightly different calendar than shown below. I chose one with pictures we did not already own. The one noted below is a good choice as it has many of his more recognizable prints. Or you can use art cards like the ones I have/own in the pic above.  DON'T panic-you can purchase a new set for $11 not $61 like the ad below states! Yikes!

Notebooking Pages:

Olga's Gallery
for images/info to use on notebook page


We used this one:
Homeschool with Index Cards

Homeschool Helper Online
The Notebooking Fairy
Harrington Harmonies (free for subscribers)

Art Project Ideas:

Acrylic painting of a lily pond and a watercolor tree/shadow activity.

I want to keep the art projects separate from this due to their length. You can find out how we accomplished these two neat projects by clicking here.

Monet Art Projects: Birch Tree Watercolor and Lily Pond Painting

I chose two different methods to emulate Monet-like art projects for my son. I scoured Pinterest and just Googled "Monet art projects for kids" first, then thumbed through the Monet and the Impressionists for Kids book (linked to my Amazon Affiliate program) I borrowed from our library. My son decided on these two activities:

  Project 1:
(instructions link)

Large sheet of good paper (I chose to use the glossy
 paper I had on hand), brushes, watercolors, 
water/cup, masking tape, salt
 and directions found on Deep Space Sparkle's website. 
Click link above.

My son's final art piece.  He worked very hard to create a curved trunk on the right tree.  Getting the shadow was a bit tricky but I think it came out pretty nice.  He chose to not add a lot of detail except the river at the bottom [other examples show fences/more trees].
BTW: it's definitely more vibrant in person, the pic doesn't do it justice.

Project 2:
The instructor moves very quickly.  We just stopped 
when needed to allow for my son to catch up 
before moving along.

Go to the YouTube video and watch it first.  
It is short enough to view a
 few times before starting the project.
Then get prepped and paint away!

This is my Michaels haul score!  I got the canvases for 70% off!  
Big time savings!
We'll use those for other projects-just had to share!  
I used coupons for the paint and the brushes.  I got those for 40% off.

Anyhoo-we needed the acrylic paint set since most in the kit were old and dried up.

I had purchased this art case, many moons ago, for my daughter.
It was available during the holiday season.  I am not sure if you can
still find it but if you do-it's worth the $ (use a coupon).  You could
certainly just buy a small canvas and easel to do this.
The little stand is such a cute way to showcase artwork!

Computer, [access to] YouTube, canvas, 
acrylic paints, brushes, paint palette, newspapers,
water, and paper towel to wipe off paint-if need be.

I had my son put newspaper down to protect our table. 
I forgot with the first project and spent a lot of time removing
paint-even though it was just watercolors!

Our boy's final masterpiece!
A little funny for ya:  I sent a text of this pic to my hubby to show him what the boy had done (he was out of town); so he thought it was a fairly large canvas. Nope-it's actually 5 3/4" X 8".  So when he came home the next day, he was shocked and had a good laugh when he saw how small it really was. It's all about perception!  Well that, and not having jet lag to skew things.  LOL

Oh and Cleo just had to take a look see and
critique things whilst my son was painting.  
This is her "What is all this about?" look!

Monday, April 11, 2016

DYI Homeschool Planner: Planner Page Options

If you are pulling together your own homeschool planner, you will definitely need some nice pages for it. There are tons of places to look. Pinterest and Google are your best friends.  Some are free, others will have to be purchased.  Check Etsy too.  Go with what you feel will work best for you.

I have not chosen all that I need.  Simply haven't had the time to give it any more thought lately, but will have to soon enough.  Anyway-I have 3 vids up now on the pages I have picked so far (for the DYI planner) and will do a few more once I have it all tweaked and ready to go.  Enjoy!

Paper Choice:

 Goals/Lists/Overviews and Class Descriptions/Grades:

 Weekly Planning:

Friday, April 8, 2016

Up and coming posts and videos on the DYI Homeschool Planner series

Just a quick note on what I am planning on posting, but haven't yet.  I simply have been side lined by a variety of things that have prevented me from finishing the editing and getting the pics taken/uploaded.  So hopefully, I will get some time to get these posted.  I am still in the ordering process for the curriculum and goodies I need for next year, so once I have those-I will get that post completed.

What's coming down the pike:

1. Monet Art Study:  books and craft projects.
2. S. America Continent box.
3. Books for tweens/teens (I will add a few for younger kids in it too) about S. America.
4. DIY Homeschool Planner: variety of pages to go inside and where I found them (also have to shoot a video on that)
5. 2016-17 curriculum choices.
6. Some neat discounted goodies I have found lately-all school related.
7. Future YouTube vids planned.  This includes a workbox series.
8. Route 66 Bible program review.  Still working on this so not quite ready to give a fair opinion on it.

Right now that is all I can remember.  We start baseball next week, so it may take a wee bit of time to get these done.  The S. A. posts will probably be first.  The boy needs to complete his last Monet project before I can post that one.  So look for those soon-ish.  :)

I have 3 vids up now on the pages I have picked so far (for the DYI planner)

Paper Choice:

 Goals/Lists/Overviews and Class Descriptions/Grades:

 Weekly Planning:

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Pulling Together a History Study (or any other subject for that matter) Part I

Before I go any further-please note, my son is in high school but you can take this advice and morph it to fit any grade level. I am mentioning this because I have a in depth history planning post that talks about the books/ideas and materials we will use for him.  If you have many children you can always organize your study to include various levels of material to fit everyone. Obviously, for the younger student, designing your study with a less intense agenda with more activities is your best option.  But don't think the older kids should be regulated to text books and boring stuff-no ma'am.  Be sure to include fun, hands-on projects that really pull everything together.  Esp. if you have a student who learns better that way.

My son is a hands-on kinda guy so having a few things that are not notebooking, reading, or narrating is essential.  I add in timelines, cooking/baking, art projects, building stuff, and hopefully-a few trips to places that resonate with the era we are studying.

Helpful Tips and Ideas:

*START with catalogs, websites/blogs and Pinterest.  Depending on what it is you are going to cover-you should find oodles of ideas and links.  

*Look at those teacher guides...(most sites allow you to see what their scope and sequence is)  it should list what is covered and when.  This is a general baseline to follow (after all, you may have already covered some of that material), it is not a "must do" for you.  It should help you corral the main areas into a manageable 'to cover' list so you can keep from becoming overwhelmed. 

*Jot down some notes on what your goal is for this study.  Refer to this a lot.  History (esp) is a whopper to tackle.  You cannot do it all, or cover every bit of it.  Just pare it down to fit your schedule. Once you know what truly interests your child(ren) then you can always revisit that time frame with a more in-depth look into those particular areas.  

*Utilize your LIBRARY!  I cannot stress this enough.  I usually go to Amazon first, to search the title so I know for sure what it is I am looking for, then click over to the library catalog to hunt them down. Usually, you should be able to get many of the books you are interested in.  Request them now.  Once they arrive, go through them.  You'd be surprised at how many of them won't meet your needs or simply won't fit your study (schedule/child's age/etc.) -so check them off the list and look for more. This way you can eliminate and whittle the list down to only those books that should work for you.

*Write down every book you do want to use and the author. Note if your library owns it or if you need to pre-request it before your target date for that lesson.  Now you'll have a master list to refer to as you pull together your study.

*I must point out-there are many good programs are out there that have done this for you.  BUT-I have been at this for ages-so I can attest to the fact that even those guides will fail at some point.  Not every kid will be engaged in the books/projects that are listed.  Many will be boring...seriously. Others will just be too young/old for your child(ren)'s current skills/level or just plain stupid.  I say that because we follow Charlotte Mason's method of choosing living books that are written by people who love and know the subject.  Not those written by uniformed, or silly authors who are required to fill some quota or the shelves.  Does this mean we never read a 'fun' book-oh of course not. But be selective folks.   
I personally love to supplement a bunch of reference material and additional books to really jazz up what we are studying.  It's a bit of work but always pays off in the end.  That includes finding art projects, kits, songs, movies, and so forth that will enhance and solidify the point of your study. Knowing your child's learning style is a must here. This is where you find those items that will engage and keep them interested from beginning to end.

OH, and here is a soapbox moment from a seasoned (or is that battered? LOL) mother. Kids will have to learn to 'just deal' with some things they deem boring or useless.  It's a fact of life-and a valuable lesson-not everything we will do is a picnic or an amazing amusement park vacation type of event. Let's face it, most of what we do is mundane and necessary but not always a whoop it up good time. Push them through those rough moments and continue on.  Bail only if it sinks faster than a lead filled sub. But don't dump it until you have given it sufficient time. I have found allowing my son to do something else whilst I read helps a lot with this problem.  When he was younger he could play quietly with Legos, Play-Doh or small toys but was required to listen.  In fact, he learns best this way-boring book or not! All too often Junior will 'think' it will stink, only to find that those very books/activities were what they say they enjoyed the most. Go figure. Remember-you are the parent/teacher with foresight and life knowledge-right?  So press on dear mother-press on.

*Depending on what type of a planner you are (big time all fancy like, or just a simple outline kinda gal)-sketch it out and type up your schedule with potential dates, books needed by and other must haves (be prepared) so that when the time comes you can start with (hopefully) little or no glitches. Also, if possible-print up any notebook pages, coloring sheets, and any other needed items way before the study is to begin.  It will save you tons of frustration and time later on.  I place all the books I own onto our current year bookshelf so they are within my grasp and I put the projects/kits and any other pre-gather items I can into a tub to pull out when needed.  

*Know your state/college requirements for documenting this stuff.  Esp. for Jr/Sr high.  Keep your records and if need be-a few good projects/papers/etc. that you can put into your portfolio or 'save' tub for reference.  Our state doesn't require anything really, but I do keep records for my ability to create a transcript (only for high school) otherwise, I would just save a few cute projects to tuck away for "Mom's Cry and Remember When" keepsake box.  

What If?

*We get off schedule (pretty sure that will happen)?...well don't panic.  Just pick up where you left off and keep going.  Adjust or drop things on your list if you must stick to a strict time frame-otherwise, just delete what you can live without or don't do anything at all and just keep on keeping on til done.

*The child and/or I loathe the book/project choice?  Well first off, figure out why you loathe it, maybe just finding a different version of it will fix the problem. If it is closer to the 'just don't wanna do it' or what have ya-then see if changing the attitude about it refreshes the zeal to carry on with it. IF it totally bombs, just drop it.  Life is too short to fuss over a book or something 'others say' is an absolute must for your child. Bah humbug to that!  Trust your gut. Just note what it was, find a different version or another way to cover it, then down the road, revisit it.  

*I am not good at planning or researching?  Well sistah, it's time to strap on your planner's cap and get to it.  Research how others do it (Pinterest is great for this, blogs too!) and try out options til you find what works.  Even if that simply means listing books, resources and noting your overall goal. That should be enough for most.  

*I just dropped a pretty penny on an all-inclusive study guide/curriculum.  Do I need to do all this? Well, yes and no. Your work will be less, but I still suggest you hunt down some other book options and additional activities/projects as a cushion.  Esp. if you are uncertain how you child learns best.  I always have a guide (usually Beautiful Feet Books or Sonlight for history) as my backbone.  I tweak it to fit each student.  I have taught three through high school graduation and am currently on number four.
For example:  I have two girls and two boys.  Each child was drawn to different book topics and styles and they all absorbed info differently. Due to their learning style I would change (when necessary) some of what was required for their reading.  My son (14) loves the manly-man stuff, where my daughter (graduated in 2012) could have cared less. She truly enjoyed the clothing/life styles/cooking/art styles and general aspect of the different eras over the particular wars/battles/political events and all that related to it.  So I added and deleted books that would appeal to each of them. The older two were closer in styles but still had enough variances to require some changes. Our oldest daughter really liked the political side of history and our oldest son was more about timelines/dates and again-no guide will completely hit each child's interests. So be prepared and if you don't need for this particular year, perhaps you can pull that out down the road for another student.

*I cannot afford all those books!? Remember how I said to utilize your library?  Well here is where you can save hundreds.  Also, look for their book sales...I have found many good books for our history and science needs for just a few dollars per stack!  Borrow from a friend, if you have the good fortune of having a pal who has already studied or has the particular book you need.  Be sure to respect that privilege and return it in a timely manner and without damage...don't lose a friend over a book. :)

Also, look to used book sites such as Homeschool Classifieds, Vegsource's used curriculum boards, Ebay or Amazon. 

I rarely buy the whole curriculum unless I know I have a lot of kids to go thru it.  So I have not bought any big program for years now, but did way back when. I definitely got our money out of it and then some.  But not every book worked (as I have said) so I had to adjust as needed.  I usually only buy what I absolutely cannot find. That is where going through the book lists is a must. Go through your shelves and library catalog then jot down what is totally unavailable. Buy only those books.  It always saves me lots of cash to put toward other things for our homeschool.  Like those cool activity kits, games and so forth.

What Next?

At this point, I am not completely sure how it will all work together.  What I will do is keep a log so I can refer to this when actually writing out the schedule. So I will:

*Count the number of pages each book has so I can assign a certain number per day to cover. Or go by chapters.  That will give me a good guideline for planning
*Look at my backbone guide to check the order of how things are introduced. I can then add that info into my notes, listing all the extras or switch ups I will want to cover.
*Note if it is a reader for my son, a read-aloud or if it is simply a good reference book.
Then again, when compiling this into a plan I can simply add those selections in. 

**Remember, if you are using an all inclusive/pre-designed/boxed curriculum, just take a few notes and mention where the extras need to be added so that when the time comes-you have that material ready to go.  Since I need to tweak this study to fit my son's interests and skill levels, I have my work cut out for me.  But I have done this enough times through the years that I am able to whip up something usable, and well, I kinda enjoy the challenge.  I can always add or delete if I have to. Again-this is my backbone plus goodies guide...not a millstone about my neck.

Now that should give you some tips to take that leap and pull together a nice unit.  Don't forget to decide if you will make it a semester or year long study and what era you will delve into.

Need more help?  Leave a comment and I will try to answer.  :)

History Study: Middle Ages and Renaissance (High School)-Pulling it all together

I have written a detailed post on how to create a study no matter what age your child(ren) is/are.  This is specific to a high school level.  You may see some books that you would normally think is only for younger student.  But do not 'poo-poo' those choices. Everyone needs a brain break in the midst of a multitude of more challenging literature.  I try to mingle in a few of those "no brainer" books to keep it lively and fun.  That also includes adding in art projects, field trips and other activities to stave off the mental exhaustion.

So far we have covered a good many eras through out his schooling. Search this blog for more detailed reviews of noted programs. I have covered them as best possible.

We have already completed the Early U.S. History  (I have the old version, there is a new edition available) for his upper elementary studies. Then we covered the Western Expansion [all by Beautiful Feet Book guides] and a bit more U.S. history from the Intermediate level and some cherry-picked sections from the California History guide. Next up was Creation to Christ [by Heart of Dakota]. For two years, we have been working through the Sonlight Eastern Hemisphere program. Again, I have the older version but there was no need to repurchase it. I slowed this one down due to a family death and because I wanted to work through it while doing our World Geography study.  Look for posts on this as well. We just finished that guide at the end of January. But we are continuing on with a variety of books (I found via the library) relating to the history of, and about important peeps from the different continents/countries we are currently studying. For his science, we have been working through the BFB History of Science, which of course goes under this category too.

So now we needed to decide where to go next.  I could have gone back to U.S. and World history.  But I prefer to hold off on that until the student is in 11/12th grade.  It's a pretty deep and thorough unit to cover so maturity really helps here.  I could have chosen to revisit and beef up the Ancient time span.  Or visit the Medieval/Renaissance/Reformation era.  Looking over what he has had a lot less of-it was a no brainer.  The later is the choice. I have (basically) the BFB Medieval Intermediate  but my guide is listed as "A Literature Approach to Medieval, Renaissance and Reformation History".  It denotes that it has study notes for grades 7/8 and 9/10-so the new ones are a tad different. It looks like she separated the two into Jr and Sr high levels.  I suggest visiting her site to see if this study interests you. No matter for us though, this outdated one will be our backbone.  I frankly would love to get the newer versions, as they seem like they deleted and added some things that would make it less overwhelming than the originals.  But alas-since he is our last kiddo, so it's not going to happen. I will just create and modify.

I have noted below what I have strewn together so far.  I have followed my "how to list" (noted here) as best as I can at this point.  I am still in the hunt down and gather stage. I found lots of new books and ideas from combing the BFB site and using blogs/YouTube and Pinterest to guide me.  I will probably find more between now and when we start.  But this is a good foundation.


I own these:
These are a part of the BFB curriculum:
*Magna Charta  (James Dougherty)
*Ivanhoe (Sir Walter Scott) -this is not an easy read...we'll see how it goes
*Otto of the Silver Hand (Howard Pyle)
*Adam of the Road (Elizabeth Gray)
*The Door in the Wall (Marguerite De Angeli)
*In Freedom's Cause (G.A. Hentry)
*The Morning Star of Reformation (Andy Thompson)
*Canterbury Tales (Geoffrey Chaucer)
*Joan of Arc (Nancy Ross) not by Mark Twain as listed in guide
*The World of Columbus and Sons (Genevieve Foster)
*Martin Luther Hero of Faith (Frederick Nohl)  different than suggested in guide
*Martin Luther The Great Reformer (J. A. Morrison) different than suggested and an extra 
*The Hawk That Dare Not Hunt by Day (Scott O'Dell)
*Fine Print (Joann Burch)
*The Story of Liberty (Charles Coffin)

 I also have these to add in when needed:
*Martin Luther A Man Who Changed the World (Paul Maier) 
*The Apple and the Arrow: The Legend of of William Tell (Mary and Conrad Buff)
*Renaissance (Francene Sabin)
*Medieval Feast (Aliki)
*Marco Polo A Journey Through China (Fiona Macdonald)
*Miss Frizzle's Adventures:  Medieval Castle (Joanna Cole) I mean who doesn't love the Frizz? We are not giving her up no matter how old we get :)
*The Usborne Book of World History Dates
*Usborne Internet-linked Encyclopedia of World History Dates
*Usborne Book of Living Long Ago: Everyday life through the ages

From the Library:


These are recommended for the new BFB guide so we will cover them too.
*Crispin:  The Cross of Lead (Avi)
*The Trumpeter of Krakow (Eric Kelly)
*The Kite Rider (Geraldine McCaughrean)
*Queen Eleanor Independent Spirit of the Medieval World
 (Polly Schoyer Brooks)
*Robin Hood (Howard Pyle)
 diff. author than suggested but we own so we will use it

**there are a couple other books I am still trying to find or waiting on from the library. If I cannot find them I am not going to purchase them though. We have enough to keep us busy.

I was able to secure [from the library] the Story of the World Vol. 2 by Susan Wise Bauer (yah cool right?).  I am just gleaning a few nuggets of info I haven't seen/read before regarding the Viking history. I can then refer to my notes as needed.  

*King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table (Roger Green) - in guide just I do not own it
*Castle, Cathedral (David Macaulay) these are two separate books- do not own them but need for study
*Westward Ho! (Charles Kingsley) noted in guide, just do not own

*DKs Medieval Life (Andrew Langley), Eyewitness Knight (Christopher Gravett) and Stephen Biesty's Cross Sections: Castle
*Knights and Castles -Kaleidoscope Kids book (Philip Dixon)
*You Wouldn't Want to be a Medieval Knight! (Fiona Macdonald)
*The Middle Ages (Giovanni Caselli) 
*Knights and Castles [50 hands-on activities] (Avery Hart and Paul Mantell)
*Usborne Official Knight's Handbook (Sam Taplin)
*Manners and Customs of the Middle Ages (Marsha Groves)
*Science and Technology in the Middle Ages (Marsha Groves and Joanne Findon)
*How Would You Survive the Middle Ages (Fiona Macdonald)
*Famous Men of the Middle Ages (A.B. Poland)
*William the Conqueror (Robert Green) combined with book below-will just take bullet point notes to add into study
*Exploring the Past: The Middle Ages (Marshall Cavendish) 

They recommend some Shakespeare plays about King John and Henry VIII. My boy is not interested in this.  I see they have a book with both in it-for less than $5.  I may splurge for this-but am waiting to see if I can find via the library first.

I want to cover a bit more Viking history so we will add in a few books to cover it.  I am still hunting down some more options: (I have Lief the Lucky by D'Aulairess from the early history study .  I may have him reread it)

*D'Aulaire's Book of Norse Myths
*Beorn the Proud (Madeleine Polland)
*Raiders from the Sea (Lois Johnson)

OH, and I want to add in a wee bit of pirate history since it was going on way back that is another area I need to look into.


I am still working on this section but I do have :

*Viking Voyages Game from Ellen McHenry's Basement Workshop
*Usborne Cut Out Model:  Make this Model Medieval Castle
*Catapult (we built this a long time ago)
*Notebooking and some lapbook components from internet
*Building a castle model
*Creating his Coat of Arms
*perhaps going to the Renaissance Festival (Maybe-it is expensive and they seem to play up the stupidity that the only thing the Renaissance was about was accosting women and acting like drunken baffoons-so IDK.) We debated this when my daughter was studying this.  Our area festival is well-known for the above play acting and I just am not sure.  

That is what I have so far.  I have all spring and summer to complete this. Once I do-I can post an update.  Let me know if you have any other activity ideas and hands-on projects.  I also plan on printing up some pictures from our trip to Portugal.  We visited 3 castles from different times and those will be fun to have about.  Plus I will pull out of storage, his Playmobil castle set that will go onto a shelf to sort of 'set the mood' for the study. I mean we paid good money for it-might as well resurrect it to add to the ambiance.

I will do a separate post on the artists and art projects we will cover.  :) But that won't be until this summer.  I need to focus on the books right now.

Full disclosure note here:  I do not belong to any affiliate programs or receive compensation from these companies-I simply love them enough to suggest them to other homeschooling families.  

Sunday, February 7, 2016

African Art Project (Continent Study Activity): Papier-Mache Calabash

As part of our geography studies, I like to include some art projects that reflect those typically made in the countries found on that continent.  Since we began our study on Africa, we have been a bit behind in actually creating any.  Well, it was the holidays when we started, so that is my lame excuse.

Fear not-I have one to show you (pretty easy and fun too) and we will do a couple more before we complete this continent.

I checked the library and found The Kid's Multicultural Art Book* by Alexandra Terizian.  Looking through, I thought the Papier-Mache Calabash bowl [page 102-105] would be a great activity for my son.  I had all the supplies too-which saved a run to the craft store.

Basically, you use papier-mache to layer newspaper over a bowl and then let it dry for each layer. After you have an amount that is thick, but not too thick-you will have the child paint a base color (two coats) to seal it.  After that, they can decorate it using typical geometric designs many African artists use.

I guess my son was feeling pretty patriotic, 
because his colors reflect our flag. 

Here are a few helpful tips:

**Cover your work area!  The papier-mache paste is messy!!
**Choose a medium sized bowl otherwise I think it will be too big for most.
**Let the puppy really dry before trying to pry it off the bowl (I suggest a plastic bowl as the base, so it will give a bit for ya) because it will be a nightmare to take off if it is still damp.
**Expect shrinkage (and no this is not a Seinfeld episode) as ours was very round after taking it off the bowl. Then I guess with the heat on-it shrunk. After a couple of days it warped to an elliptical-shaped Calabash.  We just laughed a bit then accepted it's new look.
**Have a few different widths for the paintbrushes to give the artist options.

And there you go.  Easy peasy-just a bit of time needed between drying and removing it from the base bowl.

*FYI: I have the book linked to my Amazon Affiliate link. Disclaimer down at bottom of blog.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

DYI Homeschool Planner: inserts/pages I am including so far

As I work through this DYI project, I realized I had to break the inserts/pages down into smaller units, so as to not get so overwhelmed. I decided to start with the lesson plans first.  I did purchase a download that I truly enjoy. So far it seems to fit into our needs and draws me to it. You know-so I will actually pen down the info I need there-which is the whole point.  So I went ahead and printed up enough for September through December.  There are a couple other layouts I want to try out before I go any further.  I can easily change up the style for the next semester.  So in February, I am going to work on another option and see how it goes.  If it fails, I will make notes and then try another in March to then make my final decision on the rest of the year's layout.

I had found several various pages that I knew for sure that I wanted to include in the planner.  Some were spot on and others were 'close enough' to what I need.  I am also creating those that elude me elsewhere.

After I figured out how many of the layout pages were needed, and how they had to be printed up, I started thinking of the extra pages I wanted. I don't want to clutter the planner up with ones that are not necessary but I also don't want to forget any others that I may want.

SO-I am thinking of sections (as mentioned above) and so far-this is what I have in my line up. Obviously, I have a lot more to consider and find/create before the binding time approaches.
I may purchase a kit that offers more options or keep creating or finding freebies-not sure yet.

For the Month/Weekly Schedule area:
-Actual weekly plans
-Supply List: any supplies I need for the month, non-specific
-Books Read list
-Art Project(s) page noting supplies I have/need and any additional books I want for it (we cover artists/musicians via the Charlotte Mason method so I need extra space specific to larger projects)
-Archaeology Projects:  here I note any big digs/activities I want to do for that month, this may only be for one semester depending on how far we get this spring/early summer.

**I will not bind until I know for sure what I have to carry over into the new year to avoid unnecessary pages in there. So I may not need to arch pages if we finish the course.

For the Goals/Lists/Overview area:

-Curriculum Must Haves and Curriculum Wants (yes, there is a difference)
-Notes pages: several varieties
-2016-17 calendar for quick reference
-Goals for the year (still not sure what form I want to use)

For the Class Descriptions/Grades area:

-Year Specific Summary of plans and Course Description pages
-Grades tracker (still not sure which one I want to use)

For the Additional Notes area:

-Graph and lined paper 
-Variety of layouts of note paper

Additional stuff:

-Plastic zipper pouch for keeping goodies nice and tidy (using a clear pencil pouch)
-Folder pockets to store papers I need to access frequently
-Note sheets to write down the things I need to purchase-I will keep them in the pocket and use when necessary.  These won't be attached so I can take them with me when I go shopping.
-Various sticky notes for the notes dashboard

I am still pondering the need for a Field Trip page. I think if I do include this, I will be making it more specific to my son's/husband's new hobby: exploring and searching for artifacts in the area (Native American/early settlers) or museums that tailor to that.  I also have to design a record keeping page for his Auto/Small Engine course where they log in the hours spent on hands-on work/activities.  Same goes for the archaeology stuff. 

I know there are more I want, it's just too hard to come up with them all at once.  I literally need to carry some paper and a pen on me so when the ideas pop into my head-I can write 'em down before they become distant memories.  LOL  So as we progress during this current semester, I am sure I will stop and say, "HEY, I need a page for that!"  LOL  

Once I am fully paged out, I will have another post showing the pages with the links for you.  I have created a few of them myself, and if I can remember how to get them into my Scribd or that other site so you can print them if you want, I will do that too.  :)

So onward I go working through this maze of planner innards!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

History notebook pages examples, in case you were curious [I found this in my archives and thought I would repost it again]

I created this cover using MS Word clip art 

Some may wonder how we pull together our history notebooks.  This is just one way we do it. I am highlighting a few pages from my son's history binders: Leif Erikson and Chris Columbus, from way back when-like early to mid-elementary age.  I have another post coming up about our current science/history notebooking too...hopefully, I will get that done before March.

I used Beautiful Feet Books products  (we love their guides and use almost all of them) as the course base, read additional materials if needed and then journaled/notebooked and/or had the children color pics to add some interest. We just add as we go through the lessons.

I would like to point out that I use several different sources-BFB guide, books listed in the study Enchanted Learning and ABCteach. I use what ever I can, including online sources to get some goodies.

Please remember, my son is color blind so lots of stuff is green, brown or oddly colored.

I buy the construction paper (you'l need to trim it to fit) from the dollar store, and that is what we use as our background paper
copy off the image we need, add the typed info and slip em into page protectors

I type up the stuff for the most part-b/cuz he is not big on writing it all out-and the point is to keep his interest, not burn him for now-I type.  As he ages, he will take on that responsibility. The Columbus Day Activity book is from Enchanted, and I made a pocket for it to slip into (stapled it on to another sheet of cardstock)...

It is easy to build a notebook using any history program, as you can add pics, text, poems, maps, etc. that fit each area you study.  Using this technique not only provides a great source to reference back to-it makes such a neat "step back into time" too.  I love going thru the older kids' books to see their stuff-it is so sweet.

Well, hopefully, you are encouraged to give this a try.

Amazon UGH moment

If there are any links to Amazon on this blog or my What's in the Box? blog that you would like to use to give me a little associate reimbursement boost-please let me know what it is you were thinking of buying.  Apparently, even tho I did everything they asked, they closed my account because it came up not being up to date. SO UGH. I had to re-apply and have a new it will take me quite a while to update all those links. Any posts from this year forward (2016) are correct.

So, again-if you see something in an older post that you'd like, let me know and I can link you with the correct code.  Once they are all updated, I will let you know.

Every little click and purchase does eventually (lol) add up.  It truly helps us to get a few things for our son's education too.  So thank you to all of you have purchased items via my Amazon link.

Now off to start fixing em!  OY VEY!  (I am starting with the most recent and working to the oldest posts.  HTH


All 2015 posts on this blog are updated
If I missed any, please let me know.

All 2014 posts on this blog updated.
I see one of the products I use has a bad website link-
working on contacting the owner to see if she knows-so
until further noted-avoid Pear Educational Products store site

All 2013 posts on this blog updated.

All 2012 posts updated on this blog.

All 2011 posts updated on this blog.

-none of the tab links in the top have been updated-

Sunday, January 17, 2016

DYI Homeschool Planner-Thoughts on the Inside Pages

The conundrum continues. Purchase or finish my own planner? I haven't a clue as to why this is such a challenge for me.  Usually, I know exactly what I want.  Ugh.

So, here I am still on the fence-I think. But that fancy DYI cover set and divider pages have been calling me. Saying, "Whatcha waiting for?" I really don't know how to answer that!

Oh dear. So I decided to start downloading and printing pages. I mean after all, I have the 30# paper so why not try a few. Right? Ah hem....a few thick stacks later-and then some....

Hmmm, looks to me as tho I am going the DYI route.  For at least this year I guess.

So here is what I know so far:

*I have been searching and searching for freebies to download-and there are plenty. See links below.

*I purchased one lesson planner download from Etsy-but now I see I could have gotten a complete set from a fellow HSer for the same price-drat!

*I still intend to use the download I bought-if I can readjust or find a different printer that won't cut off the end part of the page (didn't have that issue either when we re-uploaded the printer app or some time about there, the parameters changed.  Now I have to see if my daughter's boyfriend -who is a tech guy-can help me figure this out if option B doesn't work either). I found a way on our other 'puter to downsize-oh yeah!  Already printed enough pages for September to December!  So check and check.

*I need to do some practicing on a few different weekly/daily layouts so I know which one will work best for us, before printing up a boatload of them to put into the planner.

*I have to decide whether I want to be able to move pages about or add/delete when I want to or have it 'as is' for eternity.  

*Due to the aforementioned sitzie, I must figure out if I will jump into the disk planner mode (meaning I will have to purchase a punch for sure [spency] and disks, which are not too spency) or just have it coil bound.  Oh, and there is another one-Pro Click [yah way spency] but you can unsnap and add/delete if you decisions, decisions.

*I need to really think the above issue thru.  If I plan on DYIing it for the next three years, a punch is a must.  Obviously, we can use it for many other things-but that must be added to the initial output cost. Granted, I can also reduce the over-all cost by dividing the amt. by at least, again-decisions....

And there you have it. For now.

OK, so where am I finding these downloads?

Go To PINTEREST and Google 'free homeschool planner pages'
to start! This will be your "honey hole" of links and options.

Join mailing lists in order to get the freebie pages as your gift from the 
blog author.

Shop Etsy stores.  
Search for planner and homeschool planner pages.

Here are some websites with some nice pages
(look through them-not all will apply to your needs)
and download what should work for you.

(7 Planner Steps section)

She has freebies and pay-for-kits
I found the middle/high school planner free and 
it's quite wonderful. Lots of options there.

She has a nice planner for like $5
She has some great HS materials for sale BTW

Great for note pages/graph paper, etc.

Good lists pages

LOVE her layout and color choices-this is one I will
be testing out.  Some pages are dated
 but the weekly planner is not.

I just purchased the $5 layout option. I am currently
test driving (so to speak) this style
to see how it works for us.

That should get you started.  I will do a separate post highlighting which pages I will use for sure, and where they will go in the planner.  I need to test out a few first.  I will also talk about paper quality! Very important actually.  And of course-what works for us, may or may not work for you. So you will need to do your own hunting and gathering.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

DYI Homeschool Planner Covers, Divider Pages and more

As a part of the "get myself organized" goal I have set for the year, I have decided it is time to buckle down and start using a teacher's lesson planner again.  Boy, it has been ages since I used them.  I actually have a hate-kinda love-hate relationship with those buggers. It's just not my style.  Or so I believe.  I totally know a few deep seeded issues contributed to this disdain and anti-schedule attitude. If short on time-skip down about half way to the instructions, otherwise-read on....

First off, when I was in college working on my degree (Early Childhood Development) we had to do a whole month's plan as a part of the course. Yes, you read that right.  A whole month! Perhaps it was because I was taking two of the hardest courses at the same time for two straight semesters that contributed to the stress (duh on my part) but it definitely helped further my disgust of them. Why the need for such craziness? I guess for those imaginary little darlings at some imaginary childcare center for some imaginary reason! Honestly, I think they thought it would be helpful.  It was not.  Every job would have had different standards and requirements and there was no way that could have been implemented (as the instructor suggested) and esp. so because the ages and abilities of the kids would have been different.  I remember too, that those seeking a teaching degree had way more of those little puppies to produce. I bet there are a few of those folks still washed ashore my "For the Love of Miss Beadle-WHY?" Island. With those type of assignments, it set into motion my loathing of them. I get it was necessary to practice, but perhaps a week's worth with comments from the instructor on how to improve or remove non-necessities would have been so much more helpful. But I digress...

It literally took a long time to pull it together too. Back in the old days before the wheel was invented (ya know) we had no internet, no computers like today [insert gasp], so everything was done by actual hands-on research and the old hunt and find the materials manner. And let us not forget the fact that one would have to type it up on the ole typewriter.  So, just to give you a bit more background here-because I am sure many reading this are unfamiliar with that technological advancement. When you use a typewriter, you had to advance the page quite a bit to find the back of the typewriter so you could successfully apply the liquid white out (eventually there came about the whiteout tape) to correct your mistakes. It looked terrible. Or for those like me-you would rip the darn thing out and start all over again. Talk about a time buster! And that is all based on whether or not the typewriter tape functioned, rather than jammed, rendering it completely useless.  So yes-another seed in the garden of disdain.

There came a time when I said, "ENOUGH!" and never looked at the planners until I began homeschooling an older student.  Then I knew I had to try again.  I had transcripts looming and grading accountability to tackle.  I had to do it-I just did.  Well, that lasted all about 10 seconds.  First planner was relegated to a grade keeper only.  Done and done.  Down the road I looked at and almost tried a few.  I couldn't do it. My inner self said that I would waste my time-so I came up with an internal lesson plan maker in my mind which I followed it with a pretty good success rate.  I just did it.  Here and there I would jot notes and keep those about but mostly it was my gray matter that kept account of things. I just knew what had been done, needed to be completed presently and should be down the road. Weird as that may sound.  I had 3-4 students during that time (one of them was a baby-kindergartner during many of those years) and somehow I managed.  But then life got super busy. My mind aged a bit. Things just weren't getting accomplished. Life got more complex and I knew I had to try something. Later on, whilst on a review team, I tried their homeschool planner.  It was OK.  I did use it for a time and at first really liked it-but then old habits trumped my good intentions-I let it slide like cheese off of bacon.

Another annoying thing that could bring me almost to tears, during my attempts to be all scheduley, was how easy and frequently all those plans got messed up because of one or two little deviations. Poof! Hours of work and best intentions screwed up to the point where getting back on track was almost impossible. Even only penning in a week's worth was suspect and questionable at times.  Maybe I just looked for a reason to toss those planners out the window...maybe it was just an excuse or maybe time and wisdom are trumping me now.

I had been slowly sliding into an abyss of barely making it (regarding my personal goals/standards for myself and our kid's education) and knew that I had to do something.  Lots and lots of prayers to the Lord arose like church bells on a Sunday morn. Then tons of research and YouTubing have led me back to where I knew I was going to be stranded forever if I didn't make that change. That place called Going Nowhere.  It was time to make my escape. Thankfully, the Lord sent a rescue boat.  I am heading back to the Land of Accomplishment. I can see it's shoreline in the distance....little by little I am getting nearer and nearer...

SO-one step is to get a lesson planner going that will help keep me accountable and organized. I even dipped my toes into life planning with my brand new Erin Condren planner! Now I can be a well-rounded organized homeschooling mama.

BUT which type of lesson planner do I use? That is where I am stuck.

I have already penned a post and shot a video covering the planner choice conundrum. While I wait to decide, I chose to be proactive and make covers and dividers so they are ready and await my final decision.

I am sharing how I made them, to help inspire those who prefer the DYI version. Here is what I used to create mine:

front and back covers: both sides
(These are laminated so I had to jam them up on the white board to avoid the glare-LOL)

divider pages-front/back views

*FYI:  The laminating items take you to
 under my Amazon Associates link.  

Several sheets of 12x12 scrapbook paper  (larger is better because you can customize better)
Cutting tool -preferably a paper cutter large enough to accommodate the 12x12 paper
Glue stick
Laminator (or place to have it laminated): I use the Scotch laminator and Laminating sheets
Lamination pouches for the machine
Computer program for your title making (MS Word works for me)
Iron/Ironing board
Some type of binding ability-local office supply store or your own binding machine
Printed pages (I found the college lined ones here) for back sides of dividers, if not using scrapbook paper
Post it Notes: if you want to adhere them on the backside of the covers like mine

Options beside scrapbook paper:

*downloaded covers from various sources
*good quality art paper in which your child(ren) have drawn various pictures (remember to ask them to leave white space for labels) for your covers.  Avoid crayons-supply colored pencils, watercolors or markers.

Decide on what size covers you want.  If using your own laminator-be sure to allow for some sealing area all the way around the edge.  If taking it to a store to be laminated, call ahead and ask what sizes are available-then plan accordingly.  I suggest not making it too large. Remember to account for the inside pages which will probably be the standard 8 1/2" x 11" size. You should make the dividing pages smaller than the outside covers to protect them and allow for the tabs.

My covers are sized as:
*Front/Back:  8 3/4" W x 10 14/16" L
*Dividers: 8 1/2" W x 10 3/4" L

dashboard and book marks-front/back views

 the notepad dashboard:
4 1/2" x 9 1/2"
I just used whatever size scrap I had that could accommodate the
sticky notes efficiently

Book marks were simply scraps trimmed to whatever size I wanted

Page layouts Tips:

*Choose paper that is attractive and interesting to you.  Pick a few others which compliment and add accents-mixing it up is a great way to add interest and dimension.

*Layout pages in interesting manners.  I switched from vertical to horizontal lines and tilted a lot of the titles to keep it from being boring/uniform.

*Take the glue stick and lightly smear a wee bit in each corner [backside] to adhere the pages together.  Many people do not do this and it can be troublesome.  Esp. when placing them into the laminating sheet.  It also helps you to trim and line up edges better. Don't go nuts with the glue-it will clump.  

*Decide which way you want your main tabs to run along the page. Cut enough paper (1/2" or so) below where you want to have the title so that you can slide that down between the papers for extra security and strength. Adhere that with a tad of glue as well. Be sure the tabs will fit within the confines of the laminating sheet for extra durability.  If running tabs along the right side, cut the width of the dividers down to allow for the tabs, so that they are not overhanging past the covers, unless that is the look you want. Cut the length of the paper if placing them on the top, altho my measurements allowed for squeezing them in.  

Assemble and then run through the laminator once or twice.  Then set iron at or near the rayon setting and run the tip all the way around the edges to ensure a good seal.  Do NOT let that iron stay stationary-it will melt the plastic or ruin your iron (don't ask how I know this). Move quickly. Once the seal is good-allow to cool and then cut.

Leave a good edge of the laminating sheet free around the edges, then trim if necessary.

Now it is ready for the interior pages and binding. If I choose this route I will have an in depth post and video on those. If not, I still may make a video on the pages I am trying out and a post with all the links. Til then......happy planning.