Homeschooling an Only Child


Homeschooling an only child has a lot of benefits and some draw backs as well. I think it is easier to go off on rabbit trails and go deep into some subjects when you homeschool an only child.  Tweaking one schedule because we decided to spend a month learning about Ancient Egypt or volcanoes has to be easier than trying to rearrange the schedule for three kids.  On the other hand, there aren’t any other kids to answer some of the questions, or to bring different ideas to the table.  Homeschooling an only child lets me focus all of my attention on her. The downside to that is that when I am always available, sometimes she doesn’t try to do things herself. Like anything in life, there are positives and negatives to homeschooling an only child. If you have an only child, don’t let that keep you from homeschooling. Overall it has been a very rewarding journey!

We homeschool with a very eclectic approach and as much hands on learning as possible. While we really don’t have a normal day, I wanted to share what a day in our homeschooling life looked like when AJ was in 6th grade. The day I am sharing is was a Thursday – one of the few days we didn’t have to go somewhere outside of the house. The way we do school changes as our needs change. Currently our school day looks a lot differently because I am still recovering from surgery. I hope you enjoy a look inside our school day.  Parts of this post were previously published at Homeschool Mosaics, but sadly that site no longer exists.

Our day really starts the night before, when I quickly prep the classroom (our garage) for the next day’s work. I pull out any worksheets, write her morning work, and write a list of goals that we need to accomplish the following day.

6 reasons why we have a school room

We try to start our day early, and by early I mean waking up around 7:30am. I know that is sleeping in to some, but getting up before that doesn’t usually happen around here. After she finally wakes up and takes a shower, then she gets dressed and does a few chores, (making her bed, feeding the dog, putting the dishes away) before breakfast. After breakfast, she finishes getting ready and we do a quick clean up of the house and make sure my mom and grandma have anything they need before we start school.

At about 9:30 we make our way out to the classroom and she goes over her list of work that she needs to finish.

She has to do her morning work first, the rest of the subjects she can do in any order. The morning work for today is a logic puzzle. Some days there are sentences for her to correct, a difficult math problem, or questions where she has to find answers using things in the classroom. An example would be to name the 21st president, or list two countries in Africa. I try to switch it up, but keep the routine the same.

She works out the logic puzzle on her easel.

Next it is time for copywork. I usually get my copywork from but today I decided to copy a paragraph out of the book she is reading, Matilda.

Today she decided to start with history. We are using Diana Waring’s History Revealed Ancient Civilizations and the Bible. It is a unit study approach to history and is so much fun. Today we started a new unit all about the Exodus. AJ started off by listening to the audio part of her history called, What in the World? While listening, she colored a picture out of the What’s in the Bible? coloring book.

After listening to the CD, it was time for a brain break. She rode her bike for about 15 minutes while I wrote the key concepts for the history chapter on the whiteboard.

When she came back in she went over the Key topics and Key people that we would be learning about.

Then it was time to learn about the pyramids. First she read a few pages in a library book.

Only Child10

Next, she made a pyramid fact chart, and then she made a paper pyramid that I found at Don’t Eat the Paste.

Then, it was time for her least favorite subject – literature. She likes the book we are reading, Matilda, but dislikes reading and writing. After she finished reading the two chapters and did a few worksheets, it was time for lunch.

While I started getting everyone lunch (it takes a while because I can’t stand too long) she began working on her math. We are using Key to Fractions. We love it. Everything is explained step by step, and the workbooks are consumable so she can write right in them.

After lunch she finishes her math on the easel.

Math is more exciting on the whiteboard.

Then it’s time to take the dog for a walk, or in AJ’s case, a run.

Next up is science. This year we are studying earth science. We are finishing up our study of volcanoes. While I read a few pages to AJ, she started cutting out her lapbooks.

Then, using the information I had read to her and a few library books, she filled in her lapbooks.

Lap books are a great way to add in hands on learning

We reviewed what we learned the day before when we erupted our volcano, and then our book work for the day was finished.

The volcano she made

Even though the book work is finished, there is still more learning to come. It’s time for cooking. AJ is learning how to cook a few things at a time. Today she decided she wanted to try and cook everything. She made tacos (under my supervision), beans, and rice. She did a great job.

Later in the evening, we made sugar cookies for a play-date she is having to decorate cookies.

When our day was finally finished, we watched some TV, relaxed and then got ready for bed.

It was a great day of learning. We were able to go in deep with some subjects and really have fun with learning. Not every day is this successful, and some days we get more done. It really depends on the day.

Surviving the Bad Homeschooling Days

Surviving the Bad Homeschooling DaysToday is the second day of the 5 Days of Tips for Homeschooling Parents Blog Hop. Monday I shared 10 Tips for Schooling on the Go. Tomorrow I will be sharing tips to help you get your homeschool ready before you have surgery. Until then here are a few general tips to help get you through the bad days of homeschooling.

Homeschooling can be a wonderful thing. You get to see your child master topics that they have struggled with, and get to see them grow and mature. You are there for the moments when they ace a test and when they get to dig deeper into a topic that they enjoy. But you are also there through the struggles. You are there when they don’t want to practice math and when their attitude has a lot to be desired. There will be days when you have gone over a topic a million times and they still don’t understand it, and days when they just don’t want to try.

On those days it is important to remember why you decided to homeschool. Are you homeschooling because of religious reasons, or because your child wasn’t getting the help they needed in school? Maybe you homeschool for a completely different reason. Remembering the reason you decided to embark on this wonderful, hard, exciting, and tiring journey will help you keep going on those hard days. But if those bad days are happening more than the good ones, it might be time to take a closer look at your homeschool.

  1. Is the material too easy or too hard? We want our kids to have challenging materials so that they can grow in each subject, but if the materials are too hard your child may shut down because they are overwhelmed. Maybe they need a stronger foundation in another topic in order to conquer their current work. Taking a few days to go over and review old concepts may be all they need. If they are working at the wrong level, set the work to the side and find something that is at their level. Remember, one of the benefits of homeschooling is being able to cater the work to the needs of our students.  If their school work is too easy kids can become board and uninterested. While switching to work that is on their level is a great fix, it is also a great time to talk about finishing what they start and having a good attitude.
  2. Do they need more or less structure? Some kids need to know what the plan is for the day. They want to know what is expected, get their work on, and be done with school. Other kids get stressed out if they see everything that needs to be done. Figure out what works the best for both of you and try to set your child up to succeed.
  3. Do you know their learning style? Knowing the way that your child learns the best is a great way to tailor their learning for them.

You are going to have some bad days on your homeschool journey, but the good days will make up for them.

5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents
Find out what great tips these ten Crew friends have to share!
Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break
Latonya @ Joy in the Ordinary
Laura @ Day by Day in Our World
Leah @ As We Walk Along the Road
Lisa @ Farm Fresh Adventures
Lori @ At Home: where life happens
Meg @ Adventures with Jude
Megan @ My Full Heart
Melanie (Wren) @ finchnwren
Melissa @ Mom’s Plans

Homeschooling Tips Blog Hop

This is the second day of the 5 Days of Tips for Homeschooling Parents Blog Hop. I will be back tomorrow to share more tips, but for now check out what tips the other participants of the blog hop have for you.

5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents
I am always looking for great tips, see what these 11 friends have to share.

Melissa @ Grace Christian School
Michele @ Family, Faith and Fridays
Missica @ Through the Open Window
Monique @ Mountain of Grace Homeschooling
Rebekah @ There Will Be A $5 Charge For Whining
Renita @ Krazy Kuehner Days
Sarah @ Renaissance Mama
Sasha @ Such a Time as This
Tawnee @ Adventures in Homeschooling
Tiffany @ The Crafty Home
Tina @ Desperate Homeschoolers

10 Tips for Schooling on the Go

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Welcome to the 5 Days of Tips for Homeschooling Parents Blog Hop! All week members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew will be sharing dozens of tips. You will find tips on homeschooling large families, different homeschooling methods, tips on keeping organized, and so much more. This week I will be sharing tips especially for those who homeschool while caregiving  and those who are dealing with medical issues of their own. Even if that doesn’t describe you, I hope you find these tips useful.

10 Tips to help with Homeschooling on the go.

Whether you are caring for an ill child, a sick spouse, or an aging parent, it is likely that doctor appointments happen rather frequently. While having a set school schedule that isn’t interrupted would be wonderful, when you are caregiving and homeschooling you have to learn to juggle things and adjust. The time you spend away from home can suddenly eat away at the precious time that you have set aside to do school work. The doctor appointment that should have only been twenty minutes can quickly turn in to a two hour appointment.  Unfortunately, we have had our share of hours spent in waiting rooms. Over the last few years we have learned how to make the most of our time schooling on the go.  Here are ten tips to help make schooling on the go easier and more successful.

  1. Combine activities. Can you go to the doctor, pharmacy, and do grocery shopping on the same day? If so you will be able to limit the number of times you have to leave the house during school time. While there are a lot of learning opportunities when you are out and about, some table work is needed. If you know that Tuesday is your day out of the house you can schedule around that. If you have an appointment in the morning and afternoon, try stopping at the library in between appointments. Your child can do book work, or simply have fun reading.
  2. Not every subject is a good fit for schooling on the go. If your child struggles in math, then you may have a child in the waiting room who is in tears while trying to figure out their math problems. Instead of having them learn a new concept, go back to simpler topics where they may need extra practice. If you have a struggling reader, it may be best to keep reading comprehension activities to days when you are at home.  Any thing that can make a mess should be left at home too.
  3. Have realistic expectations. Your child may be able to do their spelling work in twenty minutes at home, but they may need thirty when you are in the waiting room. There are usually numerous distractions including the TV and toys. It will take a little while but over time your child will be able to ignore those distractions.
  4. Keep your kids accountable. There are distractions in waiting rooms, but there isn’t any reason that your child shouldn’t be able to do some independent work. Subjects like; copywork, spelling,  grammar, and math facts can usually be done. If your child is goofing off or not doing their work, make them finish it when they get home. We have only had that happen a few times before AJ decided that it was better to do the work when we were out than when she should have free time.
  5. Create an on the go bag. We like to have a back pack that is packed and ready to go. We keep pencils, erasers, a pad of paper, snacks, a clipboard, and a few Kumon Workbooks.  I loved being able to have AJ grab her bag whenever the need came up. Depending on what we are learning I may throw in some flash cards, a book, copywork or worksheets that correspond to her other subjects.
  6. Utilize time in the car. There are a lot of learning opportunities while in the car. Younger kids may enjoy hunting for letters or colors, while older kids can practice spelling words and math facts out loud. You can play memory games, listen to audio books, or educational cds. If you can get an audio version of your history or science curriculum that is even better.
  7. Use learning apps. It isn’t my first choice to have AJ play on the tablet for school, but there are a lot of educational apps. There are apps for almost every subject and thankfully some are free.
  8. Play games. We love to play games with flashcards. Make cards for science terms, historical people, vocabulary words, really anything you are learning about. You can play memory, or try to give the definition (or name of the historical person) the fastest. Learning and fun mixed together.
  9. School on the weekends. Some weeks we are too busy to do work at appointments, or we are too tired. On those days we may do work later in the day or on the weekend. The beauty of homeschooling is flexibility!
  10. Teach skills that don’t require book work. Learn about produce, measuring, and money in the grocery store. Learn about the body by looking at the pictures on the wall and the different models in the doctors office. Learn about life. When you are caring for others you child learns more than you think. They learn patience, compassion, empathy, and selflessness. Book work is important, but on days when regular schooling can’t take place remember they are learning important life skills.

Homeschooling can be difficult at times but with a little flexibility you can do it! Do you have any other tips for schooling on the go?

5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents
There are a lot of bloggers participating in the blog hop. Check out 9 of my fellow crew members today!

Jeniffer @ Thou Shall Not Whine
Jennifer @ A Peace of Mind
Jennifer @ Faithful Homestead
Joelle @ homeschooling for His Glory
Joesette @ Learning Curve
Kari @ Random Acts of Boyhood
Kemi @ Homemaking Organized
Kim @ Homestead Acres
Kylie @ Our Worldwide Classroom

Grapevine Resurrection ~ Review

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Last year AJ used a Bible study from Grapevine Studies and it was a hit! It ended up being the perfect type of Bible study for AJ. It didn’t require a lot of writing and AJ asked to work on it each day. When we were given the chance to review The Resurrection: Multi-Level from Grapevine Studies, we were excited and couldn’t wait to get started. Since Easter is in a few weeks this Bible study came at a wonderful time for us.

Birth of John to Jesus' Ministry {Grapevine Studies Review}
The idea behind Grapevine is simple. Your child reads (or you read to them) assigned passages from the Bible and then draws stick figure pictures representing what happened in the passage. Usually the passage is just a few verses long. Throughout the study your child creates a timeline of events and learns details about stories, events, and people in the Bible. The Bible studies are a fun and engaging way to help kids learn more about God’s Word.

Birth of John to Jesus' Ministry {Grapevine Studies Review}
We received a physical copy of The Resurrection: Multi-Level and the Teacher Book to go with it. They are not really books, instead they are stacks of loose leaf paper. The paper is three hole punched and ready be put into a folder. The Teacher Book is printed in color and gives a script of what to discuss during the lesson. The student book is printed in all black ink, just waiting to be filled in with colorful   pictures. The Resurrection is a topical study that covers the events leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion through his assent to heaven.  One of the great things about Grapevine is that you are encouraged to schedule the study however it works best for your family. The Teacher Book gives sample schedules for 11 weekly lessons or 40 daily lessons.

The lessons for The Resurrection: Multi-Level  has your student reading verses from all four Gospels to tell the story of Easter. Often when there is more than one passage for a drawing your student will read about the same event in two different books of the Bible. AJ really liked seeing how the same story was told by different people.

The study ends with a series of over 60 review questions to ensure you child understood the material that they learned about. There is also a final timeline where your child will fill out the timeline for the last time. At the end of the Bible study your child should be able to tell the Story of Easter by using the timeline.

The last time we used a product from Grapevine we followed a daily schedule. This time we decided to mix things up and try the weekly schedule. AJ recently grew out of the kid’s program on Wednesday nights at church, but she isn’t able to attend the youth group yet. Since she is home on Wednesdays now I thought it would be a great time to work on this.

Learning about the Bible with Grapevine

Each Wednesday she would gather her Bible, the student pages for the week, her colored pencils, and the Bible dictionary. I just needed the Teacher Book and the online Bible dictionary, then we were ready to begin. The lessons each started with AJ reviewing the last three sections from the previous lesson’s timeline and any Bible verses she had memorized. Then there were eight boxes for her to fill out. For each of the boxes she would read the assigned verses in her Bible (ESV) and then I would read the same verses in my Bible (NKJV). Then we would discuss what we had read and she would draw a stick figure to  go along with what she read. Some lessons included a little bit of map work. The lessons all included a small list of words to look up in a Bible Dictionary and a set of questions to ensure she understood the material. The final page in the study let her draw her favorite scene and write or recite the memory verse. The last time I had her write everything down. This time we decided to just verbally discuss everything and she seemed to enjoy it even better.

The only thing I would change with this study is the map work. I felt it was lacking. This level had a map without any labels so I was unable to find a good map for AJ to use in order to find the information to complete it, instead she had to use the answer key to do the map work. I also noted that there were a few mistakes on the printed pages, a few of the student pages said teacher, but that didn’t really take anything away from her learning. Other than those little details, I feel the study is very well written.

Overall Grapevine was a wonderful fit for us again. It has short manageable lessons. It lets you use whichever Bible version fits your family’s beliefs, and is just based on the Bible not a certain denomination. AJ is engaged with the drawing and retains the information very well. It is simple for me to teach and for AJ to learn. If you are looking for a good Easter study, we recommend checking this one out!


Birth of John to Jesus' Ministry {Grapevine Studies Review}

Learning About Butterflies

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Spring is in the air . . . the grass is getting greener, the weather is warmer, and learning is all around us. Why not take this changing time of year to study the beautiful butterfly? There are so many different types of butterflies that learning can be endless.

Great ideas and printables to help you learn about butterflies


There are a lot of great book resources for butterfly studies, ranging from simple picture books to advanced scientific type books for adults. One fun book we really enjoyed was From Caterpillar to Butterfly Big Book (Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science 1). Around our house The Magic School Bus books and videos are always a hit. My little one loves to learn all that she can from Mrs. Frizzle, and often I pick up a thing or two too. Here are a few of the Magic School Bus books that are full of fun and information all about butterflies.

After reading about butterflies there are numerous hands-on ways to continue learning. If your family enjoys lapbooks, there are a few great (free) ones that are available. There are also numerous paid options available.

If there is one in your area, a trip to visit a butterfly farm or house to see the beautiful creatures up close would be fun and educational. If that isn’t probable, you can purchase a kit and watch a caterpillar grow into a butterfly. Spring is the perfect time of year for it.

You can also download my free butterfly lifecycle worksheet.

Butterfly lifecycle Worksheet

When I do a unit study, I like to include as many subjects as possible. We have already covered reading and science but so many other subjects can be covered quite easily.

For spelling, you can use words related to the butterfly. Depending on the age of your child words could include; fly, egg, larva, thorax, insect, and antenna. Continue the fun by having them see how many words they can make from the letters in “butterfly” (there are 144 words possible) or “butterflies” (there are 690 possible words).

Writing is another subject that can easily be incorporated. You can cut a butterfly out of lined paper and then glue it to a piece of construction paper. Here are a few writing prompt ideas:

  • One day I woke up and I was a butterfly. I spread my winds and……..
  • My best friend is a butterfly………….
  • Describe a day in the life of a butterfly.
  • What would happen if there were no more butterflies in the world?
  • Write a descriptive poem about butterflies.
  • Write an acrostic poem about butterflies.

For geography, you can study the habitats of different butterflies. What types of butterflies live in your area?

For math, you can study symmetry and angles. Butterflies have six legs so practice your 6 times tables, or for the younger kids practice making groups of six.

Butterfly art can be extremely fun!

Butterfly Art

Here is one project that brings together math and art. Cut a symmetrical butterfly out of construction paper. On one side of the butterfly, put different colored drops of paint. Put enough paint that most of the construction paper will be covered, but not so much that paint will get everywhere. Then fold the butterfly in half and press down. When you open the butterfly back up there should be a symmetrical design. Here are a few more ideas.

  • You can paint a butterfly and then glue pom poms and on it.
  • Make a butterfly out of pipe cleaners.
  • Sculpt a butterfly out of clay and paint it.
  • Make a diorama of a butterfly habitat.

A unit study can be as quick and simple or as long and detailed as you want. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel either. Find some free resources that are available and then go with your gut. Find a subject, do a little research, and have fun making learning fun for your kids.

Mr. Popper’s Penguins (Book Study)

The middle of last year Home & School Mosaics, a website that I reviewed and wrote for, decided to shut down. One post that I wrote was part of the monthly book club. Since it is no longer available  on Home & School Mosaics, I’m sharing it here.

This month we are focusing on the book, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, by Richard and Florence Atwater.  I will be sharing my thoughts on the book as well as activities to do for each chapter. There is also a downloadable study guide for the book.

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What was the book about?

The book was about a family man who was very unhappy with his job as a painter and decorator. His true passion would be exploring the world. One day he gets a surprise in the mail, a penguin from Antarctica. The penguin causes some minor funny issues but becomes a member of the family. Unfortunately, after a while, the penguin starts to get sick because he needs companionship. After another penguin arrives at the Popper’s home the first penguin starts to feel better, but then the family has to figure out how to keep two penguins happy. Trouble and craziness continue when Greta, the female penguin, lays 10 eggs. After a while, they are able to train the penguins and they become known as Popper’s Performing Penguins. Fun and excitement follow as the penguins go on the road to perform.

Mr. Popper's Penguins book study and study guide

Did the book fulfill your expectations?

Having watched the movie, I was expecting a totally different story. The movie was over the top and had us laughing all of the time. The book and movies share a few similarities, but overall the main storylines are very different. That being said, I think I liked the book a lot more than the movie. It was funny, exciting, and a great story. I really liked that it wasn’t a book that I could easily tell what was going to happen next.

Did the book end the way you expected?

No, the ending was totally unexpected. It was fitting of Mr. Popper’s character, but I was definitely surprised by his decision at the end.


How realistic was the characterization?

The characters themselves, and the way they interact with each other, are very realistic. The situation they were put in was obviously unrealistic, but their handling of the problems was realistic. My favorite – and least favorite – character was Mr. Popper. He loves his family, but has his heads in the clouds and doesn’t seem to take bills and responsibility seriously. He is kind of selfish and likes to keep to himself. His wife on the other hand was down to earth and a worry wart. She was very practical throughout most of the book. I could definitely relate to Mrs. Popper.

Would you recommend the book?

Absolutely! The book was full of comedy, with a few unexpected surprises thrown in. It is a simple read that I am sure would be enjoyed by all ages.


There are so many fun activities that you can do with this book! Doing a unit study on penguins would be a great idea. Embracing Home has an amazing penguin unit study. There are dozens of activities, games, videos, and printables to help you learn about penguins.

Below are a few ideas I have come up with that go with the book..

Chapters 1 and 2

  • Write a letter to Admiral Drake
  • On a map label the North and South Pole
  • Find Antarctica on the map and color it. You can find free printable maps at  Your Child

Chapters 3 and 4

  • Label the parts of a penguin
  • Make a Penguin Fact bookmark

Chapters 5 and 6

  • Study penguin habitats
  • How many words can you make out of the word “PENGUIN”? ( downloadable worksheet) There are 40 possible words.

Chapters 7 and 8

  • Make a bird nest
  • Write a newspaper article about Captain Cook

Chapters 9 and 10

  • Draw a penguin

Chapters 11 and 12

Making fake snow is just one of the fun activities in the Mr. Popper's Penguins book study.

  • Make fake snow
  • Build a house out of ice cubes or sugar cubes

Chapters 13 and 14

  • Penguin money math (downloadable worksheet)

Chapters 15 and 16

  • Make a comic strip showing the penguin’s act

Chapters 17 and 18

  • On a map, color all of the states that the penguins visited
  • Research what seals eat

Chapters 19 and 20

  • Write a book report
  • Compare and contrast the book and the movie

We were able to find an instant snow kit at the store; we just added water. AJ had a blast playing with it. It isn’t quite like real snow, but it was close enough. If you don’t want to buy fake snow, you could also make one of the numerous recipes on Pinterest.

Scroll down to download the Mr. Popper’s Penguins study guide. It includes vocabulary and questions for each chapter. Most of the questions are simply plot based, so if your child is able to read the book I think they would be able to complete the study guide.


A Penguin Bookmark

Throughout the book there are a lot of penguin facts. Make this book mark to keep your place while reading, and jot down facts when you find them. It is very simple.

Supplies needed for the Penguin Bookmarks


  • Card stock, or a file folder
  • 1 sheet of black, white, and yellow construction paper
  • googly eyes
  • glue
  • scissors
  • ruler


This penguin bookmark goes perfectly with the Mr. Popper's Penguins book study!

First, cut out a piece of card stock or file folder into a rectangle the size you want your penguin bookmark.

Then, glue that piece onto the black construction paper.

Glue googly eyes near the top.

Cut out a beak and two feet for your penguin. Glue them into place.

Next, cut a white oval out of the construction paper. Glue it on your penguin.

Finally, round the head of your penguin. It is finished!

Other Penguin Resources

AJ loves the Magic School Bus series, so whenever we do a unit study I search to see if Ms. Frizzle has a book or video related to what AJ is learning about. Thankfully there is a Magic School Bus Chapter Book about Penguins! Penguin Puzzle is the 8th book in the series, and it didn’t disappoint. AJ loves that she can go on an adventure and learn new things at the same time. If you haven’t checked out the chapter books, you need to. They have more details and facts spread throughout the book, but they are presented in an older way. They are about a third to fourth grade reading level, but AJ still loves to read them.

March of the Penguin is a good video that has breath taking shots of the emperor penguin.

Penguins Book for Kids –  This is a fact filled picture book all about penguins.

This American Girl Sew and Stuff Penguin Kit looks like a lot of fun. We haven’t tried the penguin one yet, but AJ enjoyed  a few other ones. Make sure you keep all of the pieces together or you might end up loosing a vital piece.

Mix your love of penguins with even more science. In this crystal growing kit your child can grow a penguin crystal. We have grown quite a few crystal animals and objects and they are always a great learning experiment.

I hope you enjoy this study of Mr. Popper’s Penguins. It is free for my subscribers. If you already are a subscriber you will find this printable study in your email. Haven’t subscribed yet? Enter your email below to get access to this and all of my other subscriber only printables.



6 Amazing Advent Resources

These advent resources will make your holiday a little brighter.

Christmas is my favorite time of year. Even when I worked in retail, I always looked forward to the holiday season. I love the lights, the songs, the decorations, and the goodies. We love counting down the days until Christmas. Over the last few years our family has used a few different advent products. Some were simple books and others were full studies. Here are our favorites.

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Melk the Christmas Monkey

Melk is a monkey with a message! Melk visits your child each day and shares something about God’s love. (Think Elf on the Shelf but focused on God instead of behavior.)When you purchase the e book you get lessons to do with your child, instructions on how to pose Melk, printable letters from Melk, and instructions for crafts or activities that help explain the topic you are learning about.

Melk taught us a lot last year each day AJ couldn’t wait to see where Melk was hanging out, and what lesson he was going to teach her. All e books from Paradise Praises, including Melk the Christmas Monkey, will be 25% off on Cyber Monday.

Celebrate Jesus Light of the World

This amazing e book is packed full of Christmas fun! It includes daily Bible reading and activities along with copywork and recipes. This book is a fun way to count down the days until Christmas. It is a full advent study that is pretty much open and go. It includes daily Bible reading, copywork, and activities.

We used this a few years ago and had a great time. I am planning on using parts of this book again this year. If you are looking for a complete advent study that is simple and exciting, this is it.

Christmas Around the World

Christmas Around the World is a six week  geography based unit study for elementary aged student. It is a great way to continue with school work and Christmas fun at the same time. Throughout the study your child will learn about 30 different countries. This book includes information about each country, worksheets, crafts and activities.

Birth of Jesus from GrapeVine Bible Studies

We were blessed to review this just a few weeks ago, and I have become a fan of GrapeVine studies. The idea is simple, your child stick figures their way through the Bible and during that time they become more familiar with the Bible and the events that took place. Kids enjoy the lessons because they are able to draw. AJ was actually disappointed when the study was finished. If you are looking for a strictly Bible only study, this would be a great choice!

Through December this study will be 30% off.

Why We Give Gifts at Christmastime and Why I Give an Activity Book

This adorable children’s book explains the reason we give gifts for Christmas in a way that children can easily understand. The activity book has fun puzzles and games, it also includes numerous ideas for gifts that kids can make with just a little help from adults. I was very surprised by the quality of the gift ideas. AJ made quite a few of them the year we used it.

Countdown to Christmas

This is another fun children’s book. The book has a page for each day until Christmas. Each page introduces a new character or object that is important to the Christmas story. Each day you read the book from the beginning stopping after you read one new page. By the day before Christmas your child should be able to retell the entire Christmas story.

The back of the book comes with instructions of how to make a Christmas countdown tree that you can add to daily. This is a great choice for those with younger kids and those who are looking for a very quick book to read from each day.

We have used part or all of each study listed above and have found them to be a great addition to or Christmas fun.

What is your favorite advent related item?



Our Favorite Reviews from 2015

I can’t believe that my first year on the Schoolhouse Review Crew has come to an end. AJ and I were blessed to review over 30 amazing products this year. Some of them changed how we homeschool, while others weren’t the best fit for us. We were able to try products that I had wished that I could afford, and products that I never would have thought to try. It has been a great year of reviews and I am excited that we were asked back next year for another fun filled adventure.

A few days ago we were asked to vote on our favorite vendors in a bunch of different categories. The official results will be revealed on Crew Blog, but I wanted to share how we voted. I am only mentioning the categories that I voted for, because there were a few that didn’t apply to us. A lot of our favorites were voted for in a few different categories.

Favorite Reading Curriculum, Best Online Resource, Favorite Middle School Resource, and Kid Choice

Hands down our pick for all of these categories was Star Toaster. This online book with interactive games and adventures really kept AJ engaged. It was an exciting story that got AJ excited about reading. She ended up reading through the book twice and is eagerly awaiting the next book.  If you are looking for a way to get your child excited about reading, then this is the product you want!

Favorite Writing Curriculum, Favorite Parent Product, and All Around Crew Favorite

This was an easy choice! We picked Institute for Excellence it Writing. This product was a real blessing. It changed how I teach writing and has helped AJ tremendously. AJ still doesn’t love writing, but she enjoys it better than she use to. I have seen a big improvement in her writing as we slowly make our way through the curriculum. It is on the expensive side, but I think it is worth every penny!

Favorite Spelling Curriculum

This one was a hard choice. We had the chance to review two great programs this year, but in the end our winner was Spelling You See. I love how simple it is to use and AJ likes the hands on aspect of chunking different parts of the words. I think that this program is great for those who are visual learners. I also love that it doubles as handwriting practice.

Favorite Penmanship Curriculum

We were able to review CursiveLogic this year. It is a simple approach to teaching handwriting!

Favorite History/Social Studies Curriculum and Best E-Product

Homeschool in the Woods was the clear choice for us. We are still using this as our main history curriculum. It has hands on activities, and really brings history to life! I love teaching with it and AJ loves learning from it.

Favorite History/Social Studies Supplement and Just For Fun

We tried out a few supplemental products this year, but the clear winner for us was Dig-It Games. AJ and I learned so much about the Mayan people and history all while playing a computer game! This one was a big hit, but I was surprised when AJ recommended it for the Just For Fun award. She must have enjoyed it more than I thought!

Favorite Science Curriculum

Visual Learning Systems was one of the first reviews we did for the Crew. I loved it because AJ could learn science topics from watching the videos. It is easy to just add a video into a busy day or to do worksheets and experiments and take the learning further. I still use some of the videos to supplement the science we are doing now.

Favorite Science Supplement

Super Teacher Worksheets has been a great help to our school year. I can easily type in what we are learning about and have dozens of worksheets available at my fingertips. It is a help in almost every subject, but we have used it the most for science worksheets. It is so nice to have premade worksheets for diagrams and other concepts she is learning about.

Favorite Math Curriculum

We tried a lot of math programs this year, and each one helped AJ in a different way. In the end we decided to stick with UnLock Math. It is an amazing program that is well made and has the best support available. I will be honest, I wasn’t sure we would like any computerized program, because I enjoy math and like teaching it. But it is so nice to let her watch the video with the teacher working out the problems. The best part is that the math is done step by step – the way I learned it in school. I really can’t say enough about this company!

Favorite Math Supplement

We reviewed a fun geometry game from Simply Fun this year. I never would have expected that playing  a game that teaches geometry with a group would be fun, but it was. AJ has learned so much from Shape Whiz and still asks to play it all of the time.

Favorite Christian Education Curriculum and Best Resource I Didn’t Know I Needed

GrapeVine Studies was one of a few Bible curriculums that we tried. Honestly I didn’t think it would work for us. I thought AJ would get tired of the stick figures or that she would think it was too babyish. But it ended up being exactly what AJ needed. We both loved it! It is a great way for AJ to learn and was simple for me to teach!

Favorite Christian Education Supplement

Egglo was a fun and exciting way to learn about the story of Easter. These glowing eggs were fun to use, and taught a great message.

Favorite Book, Novel, Audio Book, or Audio Drama

This was a hard category! We read and reviewed a few great books this year. In the end we decided the best one was Susan Marlow: Thick as Thieves. This book really grabbed AJ’s attention and turned her into a fan. Since the first review she has read a few more books from Susan Marlow and she has loved every one.

It was tough deciding which programs and products were the best! We were blessed with so many great things to review this year. I can’t wait to see the final results and see which products earn the Blue Ribbon Awards!

2015 Schoolhouse Review Crew Blue Ribbon Awards

Free Printable Biome Book

Post Contains Affiliate Links

This year AJ is learning about biology in science. We started off the school year with two different science reviews, and only recently started with our planned curriculum. We are going through Christian Kids Explore Biology. It is geared for kids up to 6th grade and AJ is in 7th, but so far it is exactly what I was looking for!

Some of the concepts that she is learning are review for her, but she is learning plenty of new things as well. This curriculum doesn’t require a lot of writing, in fact I am adding in different worksheets and activities because I think she needs more practice. Super Teacher Worksheets has really come in handy for supplementing and digging deeper.

This year I wanted a science curriculum that gave us a guide of what to study and left plenty of room for rabbit trails. The book is designed so that each lesson takes a week to complete, but AJ is able to do the lesson and book work in one day and then dig deeper if we need to, or go on to the next lesson. We have added in a few videos and experiments to some lessons while a few others she has simply read through.

One lesson that we decided to take a step further was on biomes. After reading about the purpose of breaking the world up into biomes AJ’s assignment was to look up a few of the major biomes. We decided to spend a few days learning about different biomes.


She used a few different books from the library and searched web sites to find information about the different biomes. I then had her create a book where she gave basic information about each biome.

Subscriber Freebie - Printable Biome Book

I am sharing the Biome Book that I created with all of my subscribers! If you are already a subscriber, you will find the link in your email. If you haven’t subscribed yet, enter your email below and you will receive a link where you can download your copy.

What are your kids learning about in science?