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

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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?


Pre-Algebra – Hands On Learning (and FREE Worksheets)

AJ has been coming along wonderfully in math. I think that our decision to ditch a “regular” math curriculum in fifth and sixth grades, and work on the Key To Math program, was the perfect choice for us. It has given AJ a sense of confidence and has allowed her to breeze through the beginning of pre-algebra.

Hands on learning idea for- Pre-Algebra (and 2 free worksheets)

She has been using UnLock Math Pre-Algebra this year, and has already completed over 35% of the course. She has understood all of the concepts, and I haven’t really had to teach much math. It has been kind of nice.

Then she hit unit 6 lesson 6, which covers solving equations with variables on both sides of the equation. She watched the video, but the concept just didn’t click. She was making mistakes on every single question. She rewatched the lesson a few times, but you would have thought that I was asking her to write in French! Everything she had learned in the previous five lessons went out the window.

I quickly realized that this concept was one that was going to take her a little longer to really get. We worked through each problem on the whiteboard, and she was still making silly mistakes. I printed a few worksheets off for her from Super Teachers Worksheets and they helped a little bit. Then I decided to try a different approach.

Hands on learning for pre-algebra

I took six index cards, three pink and three yellow, and cut them in half. Then I made up a worksheet with six problems for her to solve. The first three to be done in a hands on way and the other three to be worked out on paper.

On the pink cards I put the variables in the problem, and on the yellow I put the other numbers. On the back of each card I put the opposite number. So on one side it would say 3x and on the other side it would say -3x. Then I had her work through the problems.

First she started with the original equation written out with the index cards taped to the white board.

Hands on learning - Pre-Algebra

I told her she had to get all of the variables on the same side, but in order to move a card to the other side she had to flip it over.

Hands on learning - Pre-Algebra

Once the variables were all on the same side, she finished solving the problem on the whiteboard. The concept seemed to finally click!

The next day I made a different worksheet for her with more advanced problems. I made index cards for the first three problems and had her work them out on the white board. The second sheet required a little more work, but she was able to do it easily!

Hands on learning - Pre-Algebra

She ended up redoing the math lesson and passed it with 100%. I am so thankful that we are able to slow down and take a little extra time to cover a difficult concept when she needs help!

The two Pre-Algebra worksheets with worked out answer keys are free for my subscribers. If you are a subscriber, you can use the link in your email. If you haven’t subscribed yet, enter your email address in the box below.

What hands on ideas do you use to teach pre-algebra concepts?

Why We Only School 4 Days A Week

Welcome to my third installment for the Back to Homeschool Blog Hop! Last time I shared how I give AJ independent work each day. When you read the post, it was obvious that we school 4 days a week. We live in a easy state when it comes to homeschooling, we are required to keep attendance but we don’t have to log a specific number of hours or days.

Why We Have a 4 day school week

We don’t have a co-op or any outside class that causes us to school 4 days a week. Honestly, we don’t use Friday’s as a free learning day like I have seen others talk about. We do book work 4 days a week, unless AJ doesn’t finish something, and that is it. Here are our top 3 reasons for having  a 4 day school week!

  1. It allows for flexibility. – With doctors appointments, trips to the pharmacy, and blood work, I can be out of the house a lot. AJ can get her independent work done on some of those days, but not all. There are some subjects that you need to concentrate on, and it isn’t exactly quiet in the waiting rooms. Only schooling 4 days a week gives us a buffer. If I know we have appointments on Tuesday then we just work Friday that week instead.
  2. We can work on a subject longer. We do history and science each twice a week (unless we are reviewing something and then it is three times a week) but we are able to complete more than a days worth at a time. It is great to work on science and history for long periods of time. It lets us dive deeper and explore topics more. I know she isn’t going to burn out because it is only twice a week.
  3. We Learn Every Day. We do book work 4 days a week, but she learns every day. She learns how to cook, clean, do laundry, garden, and how to be a care giver. She learns lessons that are not able to be taught from workbooks. She learns life skills, that unfortunately too many kids are lacking. The extra “day off” lets her explore her own interests and ensures we have time to learn  those other skills.

Having a 4 day week is wonderful, but there are 2 main challenges.

  1. Most curriculum is written for a 5 day schedule. While some homeschoolers school 4 days a week, the majority still follow a five day schedule. Because of that, most subjects are scheduled 5 days a week, 3 days a week, or twice a week. That doesn’t really work when you have a 4 day school week.
  2. It can make for long days. Since I have 5 days of school to spread among 4 days, some days are longer than others. We average about 2 hours of independent work and 3 and a half hours with me. Of course on days when attitude or lack of motivation are involved, those times can easily double.

For some subjects I combine days. She may do Thursday’s and Friday’s work on Thursday. Other subjects I just schedule longer for the book or program to be completed. Spelling You See is the perfect example! There are 5 lessons a week, I could easily skip one day of dictation, but instead she just works on it every day that we do school. She may do day 5 on a Tuesday and start the next week’s lesson on Wednesday. It seems to work well. We may be using the book a little longer, but she is still practicing the same skills.

For our family a 4 day school week is the perfect fit!

How many days a week do you school?

Don’t Forget to Check Out Other Bloggers in the Blog Hop!

Blog Hop

Independent Work

As AJ enters 7th grade, I know that she needs to become more independent. I don’t want a homeschool where she sits and completes all of her work on her own, I want to be involved. But she needs to have some responsibility with her schoolwork. In the middle of last year I decided to print off weekly lists for her with things that she could do on her own. This year I have taken it a steep further.

Fostering a Sense of Responsibility with Independent Work

Each week I make a spreadsheet with the work she needs to complete. I don’t plan for more than a week at a time, because we often have amazing items to review that change up our schedule. This week we have 3 review items; Fantastic Education – a biology program, Dig It! – a fun computer game, and

Once the list and any worksheets that are needed have been printed, I put them in the schoolroom.

Schedule 8-10-15

Scheduling Independent Work

We go over the list on Sunday night, (or Monday morning if I am behind) and make sure she understands everything she has to get done. When she gets up in the morning she is responsible to complete any of her Bible, spelling, geography, spelling, music and reading before she is able to have free time. Depending on the assignment for the day, she may also do her Spanish, grammar, art and computer work.

The catch is that when I am ready to start school she has to stop what she is working on and do the subjects that she needs me for.

When I am done with my part of school she has to finish any of her left over work. I don’t remind her to hurry and get the work done, and I don’t offer to help. If she needs help with an assignment I will gladly help – after she has tried her best, and only when she asks for help. She is in charge of her independent work. She can work ahead in any subject, (except geography which I want her to do daily) and do her assignments in any order.

If her independent work isn’t done by the time she has to go to bed, then there are consequences.

So far this has been working wonderfully! I often find her in the school room getting her work done without being told. She has about 2 hours of independent work a day when you include the piano practice and reading. It is amazing how much faster she is able to work when she knows she gets to pick what order it is done in. I feel 2 hours is a great amount! It is less than the amount of homework she would receive in public school and enough that she has to plan out the best way to do it. She takes pride in marking each item off of the list and has taken a sense of ownership with it. This is the third week and so far she has completed all of her work early in the day. I know we will run into bad days where she doesn’t complete her work, but I think they will be great teaching moments.

For us this is the best fit. She is learning study skills and time management, but I am involved in the teaching of her major subjects. I think having some independent work will prepare her for high school and possibly college. It also ensures she is learning even on days that I can’t work with her until later in the day.

Do your kids have daily independent work?

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Why We Have A School Room

Welcome to the first day of the Homeschool Blog Hop! Today I am sharing why we have a school room.

Why we decide to have a school room.

You don’t need a homeschool room in order to homeschool. As long as your child has a flat surface to write on and a desire to learn, you have what you need. Schoolwork can be done on at the kitchen table, on a TV tray, or on a clipboard. We have homeschooled both with a school room and without one, for our family having a school room makes our days go by a lot smoother.

Here are 6 reasons we have a school room.

  1. There is a place for everything. I love the fact that when school is over for the day we can put away her books, leave any projects on the desk, and go about our day. I don’t have books all over the house and the kitchen table isn’t occupied by solar systems, crystals, or castles made from sugar cubes.
  2. There are less distractions. The television is almost always on in the house, because of grandma. AJ can not concentrate when the television is on, it doesn’t matter what is on – she can’t tune it out or ignore it. It drives me nuts! I know if we are doing any type of schoolwork where she can see or hear the television, she will not do her best.
  3. It puts her in school mode. When we didn’t have a place designated to school I found we would both get lazy with how much school work was done. When she walks into her classroom she knows she is there to work. We are going to have fun, but she has to do her job.
  4. The visual aids on the wall help her! In public school you see charts and posters all over the walls. I never realized how much those visual aids help. We have posters for the Presidents, states, the Periodic Table, and a few others. Seeing those posters every day helps her to learn about them. Some days we will go over the different posters, but most of the time she looks at them and practices on her own. We also hang up completed lapbooks and some of her art work. Knowing that her work may end up on the wall makes her put a little bit more pride in her work.
  5. Grandma stays out of her stuff. Schooling while taking care of someone with Alzheimer’s has some difficulties. Often Grandma would touch her projects, take her books, or even rip up her work. Being in the school room cuts down on some of those issues. Grandma will still join us for school some days, but on her bad days AJ has a place to work without worrying about Grandma.
  6. AJ likes it! I love having a classroom atmosphere. I enjoy teaching her new concepts on the whiteboard and watching her work at her desk. But the best part is how much she likes it. She will go out there and do her independent work without being told. She likes feeling like she has an area that is hers, and even gets upset on days when it is too hot or cold to work in the garage.

How our school room is organized.

6 reasons why we have a school room

We school in the garage, and the lighting isn’t the best for pictures, but this shows the basics. The black desk is where she does most of her work. It is the perfect size to move wherever we need it. Behind that is her piano and piano books. The large desk has school supplies like paper, pencils, and markers. On the desk is her castle that she is building out of sugar cubes and extra sugar. The green jar is the sugar crystals that she is growing. On the desk we also have the globe we use for geography and a printer to print off worksheets.

On the bulletin board there is a calendar, a few posters, literary terms, a solar system model she made, Melk our Christmas Monkey (He spends time with us year round), and lots of books. That is where all of our current curriculum is kept and any books that we may use in the recent future.

On the other side of the room we have an easel and a whiteboard.

Even though we have a school room, we are not confined to it. Most of her work is done in there, but we also read on the couch, do some experiments in the kitchen, and do writing in the family room.

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