50/52: Gaudete, St. Lucy, and Snow Day!

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

49/52: Gingerbread Houses!

48/52: Cooking and Crafty Kids

Thursday, December 17, 2020

A Gift Guide for Quirky Kids

Monday, November 30, 2020

A few years back I wrote this Age by Age Gift Guide, back when our kids were all eight years old and under... I thought it would be an evergreen post, and it is for the most part! But... Older kids can be hard to shop for, especially if you don't want to just buy them the latest, greatest electronics. 

Our kids have intense interests, often pretty quirky ones. It can be tricky to find new and exciting gifts that aren't just extensions of what they already like and own, but I've crowd-sourced and found some really amazing ideas below! You'll be able to view based on different interests, but a lot of these gifts will span a wide range of interests for sure.


Advent 2020: Our Family Traditions and Plans

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

It's almost here! In the interest of getting my *own* planning done, I'll share our Advent plans this year in case you need a little inspiration.

Please know that if you're new to celebrating Advent, particularly with young children, these are not all must-do traditions! Our family practices have evolved and been added to over the years, with just a little bit being added every year until we've ended up with a rich set of traditions. If you're just starting out, focus on your Advent wreath and maybe a few beautiful books, and pick a feast or two to celebrate with extra gusto!



45/52: November Skirts, Tea Parties, and the Coolest Subscription Box

CrossTimber Name Bookmarks Review

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

We received five Name Bookmarks from CrossTimber, as well as their AmazingName Print Activity Sheets, and rather than have six older kids fight over five bookmarks, I figured the 3-year-old who is always complaining that she never gets any mail would be absolutely tickled by getting her own personalized bookmarks!

Our Most-Loved Books of 2020

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

2020 has been a year for the books, literally! With more time at home than ever before, we've been reading even more than we already did (and we were already big readers!!).


Back in February I did a large-scale reorganization and purge of all our books, which has *mostly* been keeping things organized, and has helped the kids know exactly where the books they love most are at any time. And it's given me a better idea of what is getting read and what we could stand to get rid of to make room for MORE books.

In the event that you're still looking for ideas to stock your shelves, here's a list of each child's favorite and most-read books!

Skirts, Magazines, Aprons, and Embroidery {7qt}

Friday, November 13, 2020

It's November! I've been doing a November Skirt Challenge on Instagram and Twitter but never shared here... So if you're hoping to join in for the second half, the prompts are below! And here are some of my outfits (the ones I've gotten good pictures of... I've not done a great job taking pictures this time!):


Rooney Cruz Review: Women of the New Testament

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

We can't get enough of Bible stories, but my girls have noticed recently that so many of the stories we read, both from the Old Testament and the New Testament, are focused around men. There are plenty of women in the Bible, but for some reason it seems as though our children's Bible doesn't focus on their stories nearly as much. So when Truth Becomes Her sent The Adventures of Rooney Cruz RINGLEADERS along with the companion coloring book, devotional, and mother-daughter journal, my 7-year-old twins and 9-year-old were incredibly excited!

44/52: Ginkgos!

Homeschool Code Academy Review

Monday, November 9, 2020

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

It's official, I suppose... I have a coding fiend on my hands. I suppose I should have expected this, given the amount of time he spends trying to program his calculator, but I didn't really anticipate what came next, once we actually let him take formal coding classes. Letting him try out Python for Beginners: Learn Coding at Home from Homeschool Code Academy was definitely a good way to channel the coding interest! 

 But then I started finding him sneaking over to his coding tab on the computer when he should have been doing his math or grammar (is there some way to set up a student account on the computer so that they can only have access to one site at a time? I can't figure out how I would manage that...). So really, it's been something he enjoys immensely, but also something he enjoys so much that he can't be trusted to do his normal work! I think that online courses are something we need to use very, very sparingly at this point, but one the days that all the regular school work and chores get done and behavior has been good? This is a great reward!

 

43/52: All Saints' Day 2020

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Drive Thru History® Adventures Review

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

We've been reading a lot about early Church history, as well as the history of the Roman Empire, but we haven't learned much about the archaeological discoveries that have shaped historians' views of how people lived in these times. Learning about history through archaeology, particularly how that pertains to Bible history, was an exciting prospect! Drive Thru History® Adventures gave us access to their new Bible Unearthed course, and it was engaging and fun for all the kids, ages 5-11.

Math and Algebra Review

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

MathandAlgebra.com is an online learning website intended to provide a comprehensive math education for four levels, Elementary, Intermediate, Pre-Algebra, and Algebra. Our oldest child is currently working beyond the scope of these courses, so we tried using the program with our next-oldest child.

Shop Small Gift Guide (and Giveaway!) 2020

Monday, November 2, 2020

Oh, 2020. What a year for all of us!! If nothing else, this year has made me appreciate shopping small more than ever before - this will be my fourth year putting this specific gift guide (and giveaway!) together, and my fourth year shopping from my own gift guide. 


 Every year this gift guide gets a little bit bigger, and this year it's pretty huge!! I've got all 50+ shops listed in alphabetical order below - from rosaries to stickers to peg dolls to home goods, you're certain to find something for everyone on your list. Be sure to read through the whole post and enter the giveaway at the bottom!

Smart Kidz Radio Review

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.


We love listening to a wide range of music, but I don't always do a good job making it happen... When it comes down to it, I'd generally prefer silence versus the cacophony of seven children's voices layered on top of whatever music I'm trying to get them to listen to! But I thought it would be worth a try to check out Smart Kidz Radio: Member's On-Demand Radio Program Library and see what they had to offer.

Byron's Games Review: Math Sprint - The Mental Math Game

Monday, October 26, 2020

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

 

We've been slacking on our mental math, and it shows. The number of times every day I have to remind certain children of how to do their times tables is not insignificant. But I didn't have it in me to drill them until they had the facts down pat! Enter Math Sprint - the Mental Math Game from Byron's Games. Created for kids, by a kid, this kept the children from age five through eleven engaged in our family, and I'm definitely looked forward to playing it more as the weather turns colder and we spend more time indoors.

41/52: Doll Mass, Leaf Rubbing, and Last Week of the CSA

Musik at Home Review

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

This post contains affiliate links

We've been trying out a new-to-us music program, Musik at Home, which is exactly the early childhood music program I wish I could provide for my children on my own! A Musik at Home Membership provides you with access to tons of videos and activities!

Years ago, back when we only had one child, my husband and I signed up for a "baby music" class at a local church. We had both majored in music, and we wanted to give our baby an amazing start! Yes, we were those adorably enthusiastic first-time parents who were taking our 3-month-old to a music class, but... He loved it. I promise, he really did! He was a pretty fussy baby, and those little songs and rhymes and bouncing finger plays we learned were often the only thing that calmed him when he was having a rough time.

I had a chance to observe a few music classes from the same program (Musikgarten) when I was getting my undergraduate degree in Music Education, and I really loved what I saw back then. As our family grew and we moved, it was harder and harder to find a good music class that was worth driving too, and once we had twins? Game over. There was no way I could bring four kids under the age of four to a music class by myself while my husband was working! I wish Musik at Home had existed back then!!

40/52: Family Photos!

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

NatureGlo's eScience Review

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

If it were up to my oldest child, school would consist of nothing but math, science, and technology. We have formal curricula for all these areas, but honestly?  He would very happily and successfully unschool these subjects if I let him! So when we were given access to NatureGlo's eScience MathArt & Science course bundle, I knew he would keep busy, for sure.


39/52: Squash Harvest!

38/52: Baking Pumpkin Muffins

Simply Coding Review

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.



I have an insatiable lover of technology in my house... But he's only eleven years old. He's been begging for coding resources, and has checked out library books on coding as much as possible. But without any real structure or instruction, he's been limited to fiddling with his calculator and trying to figure stuff out on his own. Thankfully we were given a membership to Simply Coding, and while the technology desire hasn't been satiated, it finally seems to be finding real direction thanks to our Coding for Kids Annual Membership.


My Teaching Library: Worksheets and Coloring Pages and Activities Galore!

Monday, September 28, 2020

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

We are officially done with our first month of school! Well, we had a week-long vacation in there, but... I just checked and we are officially done with four weeks of school! Not too shabby! One thing I've learned so far this school year is... My kids really love coloring pages and worksheets? Well, some of them, at least. It's funny, after having an eldest child who actively avoids anything involving art or coloring, I assumed all my kids were hard-wired to dislike coloring. But no, they ask for it and beg for more! Enter My Teaching Library with their Download Club, which offers unlimited downloads and resources for all subjects, grades preK-12. 

37/52: Beach Week

Wisdom Wonder Review: A Gentle Kindergarten Program for Every Child

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.


I haven't done much of anything formal for my kindergartners over the years, but it was pretty clear from the first week of school this year that Peter (6 in November) needed something separate from the work I'm doing with the older children. He's not quite ready for their level of reading, and he's such a hands-on kid, always eager to listen to stories, that when I saw the Wisdom Wonder Project and their Little Wonders (Preschool-Kindergarten) collection, I knew it would be the perfect fun, gentle, wholesome approach for him. Wisdom Wonder Project has multiple levels within their Little Wonders collection, so I could have chosen anything from Preschool, Junior K, or Kindergarten, all of which are slightly different and are really tailored to that developmental level. I decided to focus on Kindergarten and let my preschooler come along for the ride, and she really enjoyed what we worked on, as well! As you can see below, the older kids couldn't help but join in for some activities... It really became a family-focused experience!

36/52: Kitten Whisperer and Fall Feels

Monday, September 21, 2020

Music Education in the Home: No-Prep Music Study

Wednesday, September 16, 2020


Let's talk about music study! As a former music teacher, you'd think I would be a pro at this, and yet it's something that we rarely did formally until fairly recently, when I figured out a really easy way to make this work for us, and I think you could make it work as well!

35/52: A Baby Bird, Garden Goodies, and School Days

34/52: First Day of School!

Reading Eggs: Our New Favorite Online Reading Program!

Monday, August 31, 2020

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

I've heard great things about Reading Eggs for years, but never took the plunge since we had such early readers. But with Peter still not reading fluently, despite the multiple other reading programs we had tried out, I figured maybe this would be the key to reading success? We got a free one-year trial of Reading Eggs from Blake eLearning Inc, and WOW, it is packed with amazing resources!!



33/52: Sous Chefs


No-Fuss Math for Young Learners: ThemeVille Math Review

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.


I have a new kindergartner, and he's the sweetest, most eager child... And I still spent much of the summer hoping he'd be willing to just do his own thing so that I didn't really have to "do" kindergarten with him? Of course, this is the child who has spent the past two years insisting he DOES do school, and that he's in PRESCHOOL!!! All while trying to sit in my lap while I do lessons with all the older children. I've thrown workbook after workbook at him, and he really has loved them all. But it was time for something a little more structured, and ThemeVille Math has the structure he needs without being overly loud or introducing concepts that are unfamiliar to me.

32/52: Pumpkin Time!

Encouraging Reluctant Writers: An IEW® Review

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.



This post contains affiliate links

I have... well, a whole host of reluctant writers in our house. Why is it that it's so difficult for them to put a pen to paper? Some of them sit around drawing all day long, but ask them to write a single sentence and it's mutiny!! I had heard nothing but wonderful things about the Institute for Excellence in Writing®, so I was pleased to have the opportunity to try out their course, Structure and Style® Year 1 Level A for Students. With a 3rd grader and a 5th grader (as of the end of this past school year), I knew that Year 1 Level A would be best for us (though there are two higher levels for older students as well), and it definitely worked for both my experienced writer and my (much, much) more reluctant writer.

31/52: Chariot Races and Princess Dresses

Saturday, August 15, 2020

 

Super Teacher Worksheets Review

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.


Well, we made it 5 years as homeschoolers without getting a printer, but suddenly I had several reviews to do that required a lot of printing, so I figured maybe it was time to bite the bullet and order one at long last. And honestly, I love it and it's very convenient, but now the kids want me to print things for them all the time. Luckily we were given a subscription to Super Teacher Worksheets, so I've been able to fulfill their worksheet desires without spending forever searching the internet and hoping for a decent-quality word search, color-by-number, crossword puzzle, or whatever else they're interested in at the moment.


30/52: Toenails and Produce

Home School in the Woods: Family Learning & Projects

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.


We're at it again with Home School in the Woods! If you're a new homeschooler this year, you must check out their offerings - so far we've tried two of their products that have aligned with our history studies, and both were so incredibly thorough they could stand on their own as a complete history curriculum! We prefer these as a supplement, since we already have all our books picked out for the year. This time we tried one in their Time Travelers U.S. History Studies series, and we chose Time Travelers: Colonial Life. They also have studies available from New World Explorers through World War II, so there's sure to be something for everyone.

History, Tomatoes, and Books Books Books! {7 Quick Takes}

Friday, July 31, 2020

It has been AGES since I did 7 Quick Takes with Kelly, but I have a lot of fun things I want to share with you, so here goes!

--1--

Are you homeschooling this year? I'm getting our book lists finalized and realized that I have way too much scheduled for the K-4th grade bunch... But then I realized that a lot of the excess is because I'm planning for a 2-year cycle, so it's really okay that I've got a ton of books already. It just means I won't buy as many next year! Or will I?

We'll start school in late August, and it only just occurred to me that everybody's actually moving up a grade... It takes a while for my brain to switch over! John Paul (11) is moving on to 6th grade, which means he'll be doing most of his work independently and he is SO excited. I'm going to have to do a lot of pre-reading because all of these books are new to me, and I can't let him slack on the narration front...

The other kids are going into 4th (Cecilia), 2nd (Mary Claire and Elizabeth), and K (Peter, who has been chomping at the bit since he was 3, and demonstrated today that he has a better pencil grip than one of his older sisters, and also writes his numbers more neatly than ALL his older sisters, so I suppose maybe he's ready). I'm keeping them all grouped together for core subjects, but I didn't want to rehash all the American history studies we did during our first cycle, so I'm cobbling together a bunch of other resources for American history in order to incorporate more history from before 1492, as well as more stories from the different indigenous tribes throughout North America & the enslaved people who were brought to what ultimately became the United States. Would it be helpful to see our book list? Or are you happy with what you've gathered yourself?


Journey Homeschool Academy Review: Science for the Whole Family!

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.


This post contains affiliate links - I will receive compensation if you choose to purchase any products through my links. Thank you!

Ignore the messy buffet, would you? This post is not about my never-ending battle with clutter (will I EVER win? Doubtful.), it's about the fun new biology course the kids have been taking together! Experience Biology: Elementary from Journey Homeschool Academy hits every check box for whatever your homeschool philosophy might be. Engaging video lessons with no parent lectures necessary? Check! Living book recommendations to go along with each lesson? Check! Memory work and copywork? Check! Quizzes for optional use? Check! Easy activities with minimal parent prep work needed? Check!

29/52: Heirloom Tomatoes and Squash Dolls

Tuesday, July 28, 2020


CTC Math Review: Accountability, Accessibility, and Ease

Monday, July 27, 2020

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

I hesitate to say this definitively, because I know things can change, but... We may have found the math program that is right for us? Well, the one that is right for one of my children, at least. But it's really, really right for him!! CTCMath has so much available in one place, and instead of having to buy each course separately, it's available by the year. So let's say I have a child who blows through multiple levels of math in one year? Well, the 12-month Family membership can handle him, and for a bargain compared to other programs! With levels from Kindergarten all the way through Calculus, you might even be able to fit your whole family in using CTCMath.

Hyacinth

Friday, July 24, 2020

I will start this post right now by letting you know that we had a miscarriage and I 100% understand if that is not something you want to read about! Skip right by this, my feelings will not be hurt in the slightest!


But since I've been laid up in bed, I suppose now is a good time to process everything in writing?

28/52: Shelling Peas and Hulling Oats

John Paul, Age 11

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

 John Paul turned 11 in the middle of a very rough week, and I've been laid up in bed, unable to plan his (small, outdoor) birthday party OR make his birthday dinner OR make a cake OR make his requested birthday breakfast. Bless his heart, I know he's been disappointed but he very cheerfully said ice cream cake from the store would be GREAT, and he happily made the overnight waffle batter himself (very proudly, actually, because I said I would tell him all my secrets), and THEN woke up early, prayer Morning Prayer, and went downstairs to make his special birthday waffles for the whole family? This child. He can be so very extra in every way, but I'm definitely seeing glimpses of a future adult who is just going to be amazing. 

I did, however, manage to get his birthday survey done! Now to see if I can get some of the kids to take pictures of him so that I can actually get this post published...



(Okay, Cecilia took a picture and now I really need to give him a hair cut...)
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