What “Homeschool Homestretch”Is Looking Like!

nopeekWe have had a great time during our “Homeschool Homestretch” event!  So far we have been able to offer these encouragements to lucky winners in our group:

Today’s giveaways include:

Coming up, we have these FABULOUS donors still to feature (the donations are a secret…no peeking or peeling back the gift wrap!):

Come join us! Prizes post at 9am (Mtn Time) daily, with winners drawn via Random.org at 9pm. Two prizes tomorrow, and the remaining for a Grand Finale on Friday!

A Day in the Life: Rats, Snowy Poetry, Lazy Lasagna, Bloody Mary and the White Witch

I thought I’d take you through some snapshots of what our school day looks like. I remember as a new homeschooler, I was so curious about how everyone’s day was structured.

Our 4th grader is always up first, so we get her started with breakfast and chores. She had a little extra to take care of today, tidying the school book shelf in addition to the other things on her list. By 10am we were starting school. I’m an advocate of letting our kids sleep and getting the best hours out of them instead of yanking them out of bed at “dark thirty” and having a counterproductive educational experience. Here is what Katie’s day mapped out to be:

  • Keys for Kids (she listens to the daily broadcast, does the key verse for her cursive practice along with her signature, and we discuss the lesson).
  • This year is reading-intensive, as you’ll see. This is deliberate, because my sciency gal struggles in writing and spelling. First, she read a chapter from Hero Tales (we are now learning about Dwight Moody…in the last lesson, the Chicago fire was mentioned so we looked up some info on that).
  • Read aloud time. We are reading a chapter or two from “Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH”. She sketches a scene from the story. Next we will begin “The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate” (a book about a sciency girl, back in the 1800’s–our public library has it as well as the sequel!).
  • Wiggle break (Katie dances around to get some nervous energy out…her choices were “The Syncopated Clock” and “Sleigh Ride” which goes along with her current poetry project).
  • She reads her “for fun” reading. Right now it is “The Little Lemons Detective Agency: The Case of the Missing Suspect” (which I got free for Kindle).
  • We are working on memorizing and reciting “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost.
  • She has a spelling list to practice, using Spelling City. Her reading curriculum with Christian Light has a list of words which corresponds with each story in her reader, so I just plug that in so she can review word meanings and practice spelling with games and exercises.
  • Today’s lesson for math is on fractions. She’s been doing well with this curriculum…today we cover 10ths and 100ths at CTC math. katectc
  • Today we are taking a break from our regular science (we alternate science and history, every other day), which is a study of plants, their structure and uses from Christian Light. We found a Venus fly trap and a grafted cactus to add some fun to that study last Friday. Today I came across this neat experiment in my web wanderings, looking for goodies to post at Schoolin’ Swag. I happened to have all the things needed for it, so it’s a go! That rounds out our day.

Meanwhile, I am slogging through the laundry that I forgot on Saturday (yep, it happens!), and throwing together the layers for Lazy Crock Pot lasagna for supper.

Our 10th grader has fewer subjects, but does them more intensely. After waking up and getting chores squared away, he checks into Homeschool Planet to see his daily assignments.


  • His Bible time right now until the end of the semester is brief daily readings from scripture at Bible Gateway. Then he journals what the verses mean for him personally. We just completed a series of videos and resources on creationism and apologetics, so I wanted to switch gears back to personal application.
  • We are using Teaching Textbooks for his algebra curriculum. This includes an interactive video and  practice problems. He can also read the transcript of the lesson if he needs to. In the workbook are review questions.
  • We recently decided to do a modified block style of lesson plan for Michael, which means that his core subjects of Physical Science, World History, Language Arts/Grammar, and Literature/Writing each have one day assigned to them. On that day, we do a more intensive lesson, usually containing double lessons. Today he is answering 15 review questions from his chapter in Story of the World on Mary, Queen of Scots. Then he is viewing a video about her from the History Channel.
  • Finally, he will do some practical application of what he has been learning about greetings and introductions in Spanish class. He will do an interactive exercise at this website, and then write his own dialogue between two friends, using the vocabulary he has learned thus far.
  • For his reading block, Michael has been going through “The Lion, the aslanwitchWitch, and the Wardrobe” by C. S. Lewis. Tomorrow, his literature/writing day, he will read Chapters 13 and 14, and then write out what he believes the “secret conversation” between Aslan and the White Witch may have been like.

My other activities during the day include reviewing these materials which I just received from The Learning Tree (exciting stuff!), and gathering up the last of the donations for the “12 Hours of Christmas” event coming up on December 1st at Schoolin’ Swag. Today I got donations from the Anne of Green Gables page on Facebook and Plant Therapy …still waiting to hear from Apologia. Exciting times!

For the Love of Learning,

Internet Extras to Spice Up a Drab School Day

candlesThis morning, Michael is outside splitting wood until he begins his school. Our 4th grader gets her school done mostly before noon, but today we were a little slow getting things rolling, so I grabbed some inspiration from something our youngest was doing in the early hours to give incentive and excitement to the day….an “intellectual bribe”, if you may. 😉

We have so many wonderful resources available on the internet. A few clicks and we can travel the globe! I love to use resources like this to take textbook and workbook assignments to the next level, and bring them to life.

Katie loves to draw. Rarely will she watch something on the TV without simultaneously sketching. Today she brought me a sketch while I was setting up school online for our oldest on the Homeschool Planet site.  She told me she had drawn it with her mouth. Ah ha!

So while she was getting her chores done, I found this brief video featuring an interview from Joni Eareckson Tada, about her artwork. I showed it to Katie, and she loved it. I showed her some Pinterest posts showing her work. I also told her about a college friend of my husband’s who also does artwork with his mouth. This led into her live, online drawing lesson at 9am with Mark Kistler.

After this, we listened to today’s Keys for Kids Bible lesson and I printed off the key verse for her to do for cursive copy work. Katie then read our second chapter on Adoniram Judson. She had no real point of reference for where Burma was, so I showed her on a map. Then for fun, we looked at a short video from Animal Planet about Burmese cats.

We then moved on to reading our chapter from Mary Poppins, which was a peculiar one called “Bad Tuesday” where Michael had a particularly defiant and naughty day. The book kept talking about a terrible burning Michael had inside of him. I stopped in the middle of the reading and simply asked Katie to tell me what that feeling was.  Her reply? “Sin.” Yes. The day is full of teachable moments about spiritual things, if we look for them.

Our next subject was math, for which we use CTC Math online. I let Katie work independently on her lesson. She lost her Platinum standing (no mistakes at all) for this unit but that didn’t discourage her from asking to do another lesson voluntarily.  She’ll have a chance to regain her Platinum standing in the next unit. Today’s lessons were complete enough that I didn’t need to find a free worksheet for review.

Following math, we moved on to reading. Her story today was about a pioneer family making tallow candles. After her reading was completed, I let her look at this video about candle making on the Lewis & Clark expedition.

Then we moved on to language arts, and reviewed action verbs. We did the workbook exercise, and then I printed off this fun, free worksheet to practice more verbs.

For spelling, we are practicing her current list (from her reading workbook…the words correspond to her current story), using the free version of Spelling City. I enter and save her lists, and then she can learn definitions, and practice spelling using various free games on the site.

Finally, because she loves science (we alternate science and history, every other day) I usually save it for last. We are learning about plants and their various uses right now. Today we learn that plants can be “for enjoyment”, and we’ll look up all the state flowers and compile a list. I might have her do this with this free download for notebooking on the states. We are using this list (which links to actual photos) and  these free coloring pages.

For “wiggle breaks” (we do Wii Fit, trampoline, bikes, etc….for these, she gets up and dances around…she loves this and it helps keep the day sane) today, this was our play list:

Now, on to the 10th grade work! 🙂

"Homeschool Planet" Review

planet97I’m a homeschooler, and creator of the Facebook group, “Schoolin’ Swag”. This past Monday, we hosted a huge giveaway event called the “Planner Palooza”, featuring over 25 prizes. It was a great event!

Well, I’ve been investigating planners for at least 3 years, and in preparation for the Palooza, I did research all over the web, looking for the best products I could find to offer. I thought I’d seen it all.  Then I got an email from the Homeschool Buyer’s Co-Op and my life took a new turn!

The Co-Op offers “Homeschool Planet” (click <– that link to see a video!) exclusively. Right now there is an offer to check it out for free for 30 days. It looked interesting, and was totally non-risk (they didn’t even ask for a credit card), so I thought I’d take a peek. I’m sure glad I did!

Now, prepare yourself…because I took a lot of screen shots so you can see what this looks like instead of just reading my descriptions. Ready? Click the images to enlarge:

I love all of these features (and there is SO much more)! I’ve only been using “Homeschool Planet” for a short time. I was going to wait a few weeks to do a review, assuming I’d need to figure things out first.  There was very, very little “break in” time for me, so I decided to do the review now so folks could see it in July, before the planning crunch hits!  I’ve decided it is definitely a keeper for me!

This planner is pretty much a no-brainer…extremely easy to use and navigate. I do like the fact that there are pretty theme options…if I’m going to look at something as much as I do a planner, I love for it to have visual appeal!

The widgets and different organizational options help me to have my “whole life” in one place…I can schedule classes, appointments, reminders, as well as a to-do list, shopping lists, search options and more via the optional widgets.

I really like that my students can access this via their own logins, and I can choose what they are able to view, and also what they are allowed to edit. They can check off assignments as they complete them, and attendance will be kept.

The data you enter can be shared with smart phones and tablets, using the mobile version.

I especially like that you get *real* people, and prompt replies when you have questions. I saw another blog post in which the writer sent these folks a message about something she wished to see as a practical feature…an improvement…and within a day or so it had been added!

I encourage you to check out this planner while the 30-day free trial is still available! Run! Better yet, grab a friend or two or twenty to come along!

Note:  I received a free 1-year subscription to Homeschool Planet in exchange for an honest review of the software. All opinions expressed above are my own.