Tag Archives: homeschool

Who In The World Would Make Their Kids Do School Over The Summer??

Yep, that would be me!!  We school over the summer- what about you?  Do you get funny looks or interesting comments when friends or family find out you keep up with school during the summer, too?

Now, I will say, that my kids aren’t chained to schoolwork all day long, looking wistfully outside at all the neighborhood kids playing.  We have play dates with our friends and schoolwork is a bit lighter.  But, there are lots of reasons to keep on going through the summer.

  • FLORIDA IS HOT!!!!  I want my kids to get some fresh air and sunshine every single day.  So, we’ve built in a time for them to get out, even just for 30 minutes.  But, when it’s super hot and *rainforest* humid outside, they are complaining about it and begging me to keep them inside.  For us, it’s just so hot during these summer months that my kids don’t really want to do outside activities anyway.  (Except for the occasion fun outing or free event!)  We tend to save our vacation time for when the days a cooler and it’s actually enjoyable to get outside.
  • I remember being a kid and feeling like I had forgotten how to add by the time summer was over!  I hate the thought of spending so much time to really make sure my children understand a concept only to have a huge three month break during which they forget most of it.  The brain is a muscle that must be exercised – you give it a break and it gets mushy!
  • We are able to spread out our vacation throughout the whole year.  We don’t have to experience that “blah” feeling of a vacation time that’s several months away.  We can take a day off here and another day off there and feel refreshed throughout the whole school year.

What about you?

Why do you school through the summer?  Why don’t you?

What Do You Do When You Are Frustrated?

Homework SeriesAfter looking at that title, I know what you’re saying, “What? ME? Frustrated?”  🙂  But, seriously, I would love to get some input from other parents.

Let me set up an example for you …

You went to bed late, which means you forgot to set your alarm.  You woke up late.  It’s the first day back *on schedule* after a break.  The kids woke up on the wrong side of the bed.  After everyone grudgingly gets dressed and has breakfast.  Then, you get the baby situated so you can start the first lesson of the day.  The kids sigh and moan about the lesson as you begin to teach it.  The baby’s toy is only interesting for 5 minutes instead of the planned 20 minutes and she’s crying, wanting to be held.  You planned on reading a story that goes perfectly with what you thought was going to be an exciting and interesting story, but now you can’t find it.

… and that’s only the first two or three hours!

When life is mounting an attack, what do you do?  Remain calm and change topics?  Lose your cool and sit everyone in front of a video?  Do you easily roll with the punches or do you *quit* again and go back to bed?Sibling Rivalry

As a Christian wife and homeschooling mother, I really want to be a good example of perseverance and temperance.  Through my actions, I want to show my children everything that they should be as an adult.

But, sometimes, in the aforementioned scenario, I totally freeze and just stare like a deer in the headlights.  I want to explode but I know it isn’t right nor is it the tone I want to set for our home.  I really want to gracefully smile and think of something else to do, something better that will bring everyone together again – but the brain won’t start working, the mouth hangs open and my heart pumps vigorously!

Homework SeriesTalk to me!  What do you do in that situation?

And, by “what do you do” I mean, what good do you do.  What works to avert the situation and bring a better spin on things?  I’ve had enough times when I don’t react the way I would have liked to – I want to hear about those times when you had a stroke of genius (brought on by the Lord, of course!) and turned the tide on what could have been an awful day!

Old Schoolhouse Magazine Crew Review – GyMathtics

gymathticsIt’s exercise!

No, it’s math class!

No, it’s exercise!

It’s both!  Exercise and a review of 2nd through 5th grade math facts all in one.  You can get your heart racing with regular old calisthenics – why not get your mind into it too with Counting Calisthenics!

While the math facts are on elementary grade level, kids of every age will enjoy the workout they’ll get with the exercises.  I really love the idea of getting my kids up and moving during a subject like math.  My 5th grader tends to *dislike* math more than any other subject, so I was especially excited to get him into the groove of this DVD.

I started with my little ones (ages 4 and 3) to see how they would like the program.  When we first started, the 4 year old was not into it at all and she wanted to quit right away while the 3 year old was loving it immediately.  I told my daughter to stick around just a few more minutes and she ended up really enjoying it.  At each new segment, I asked them if they wanted to stop and do something else and they kept saying they wanted to finish the video!  Carrie Scheiner, who leads the exercises, gives an air-high-five to the viewers occasionally while the kids behind her give each other high-fives.  My kids were really into giving her the high-five back (shhhh … don’t tell my husband that they were smacking his laptop screen to do so).  They really had a great time jumping and stretching.

At this age, I really don’t know if they *got* the math part of it – but I certainly subscribe to the idea that the more you expose them to early on, the more they will understand when they are older.  My daughter did comment that it was really hard to see what they were doing when the math stuff took over part of the screen.  (See the photo below.)

slide of gym

And, it was a little hard to follow some of the steps, but I think that is the case with any exercise video you do for the first time.  Each time you do it, you understand it better and begin to memorize what is coming next.  It might be nice if they had a separate chapter on the DVD with a short tutorial of just the moves they’ll be doing on the main video.

Here are the subjects covered in the video  (taken from their website):

  • Shape Stretches Warm Up: Stretch your mind and body with line, circle, and polygon stretches.
  • Counting Calisthenics: Aerobic movements work your heart as fun counting concepts work your brain.
  • Pattern Power: Growing and repeating pattern exercise combinations challenge minds and strengthen muscles.
  • Well-Being Wind Down: Relaxing stretches cool down the body and open the mind to think about healthy lifestyle choices including the Nice Wave Stretch and Big Dream Stretch.

You can visit their site to get the exact details on the math facts that are covered during the exercises.

Kids Enjoying Gymathtics

This DVD has won many awards, including Mom’s Best Award, Creative Child Magazine’s DVD of the Year, and the National Association for Gifted Children’s Recommended List!

There are several video clips about this DVD (I know, videos about a video!) from their spot on Fox News in Tampa Bay to their Barnes & Noble appearance.  I’ve included one excerpt from the DVD itself so you can get a glimpse of what it’s like.

One of my favorite things about the video is that everyone is modestly and comfortably dressed for exercising.  You don’t have to walk around in your bra and underwear just because you get a little sweaty while you exercise.

The video retails for $24.99 on the Exploramania website.  Gymathtics 2 is available for the same price as well! (Of course, you could buy it through HomeGrownMommy and support this site and theirs at the same time!)

Successful First Grade Math Activity!

CIMG0297We had TONS of FUN doing math recently and I just had to sit down and tell you about it!!  It was such a simple and easy idea that I am amazed at how much the kids liked it.

This year, I’ve been working on 1st grade studies with one of my children.  We began introducing addition and subtraction in a more conscious way about two weeks ago but we had not used a number line yet.  Primarily, we were using beans and legos to introduce the skills in a more hands-on way.

In one of my first grade worksheets books (is that the right way to say that?), I found a worksheet that introduced the number line with frogs hopping from one number to another and translating that into a addition sentence.  I’ve been hesitant to use number sentences based on some great pointers I received from Ruth Beechick, but she seemed to have a good basis of *adding* two groups of items together, so we went ahead with the worksheet.

When I teach my first grader, I usually have her younger brother along with us in the learning.  They are relatively close in age and I have always just taught them together.  So, I look for activities that teach the first grade topics in ways that he would find interesting.  When I saw the frogs on the worksheet, I figured “Why not pretend to be frogs by really hopping around?!”  But, how to put numbers on the ground …

Since we live in Florida, the weather is (almost) always conducive to going outside!  We got out our sidewalk chalk and drew two number lines – one in pink and one in green, of course.  I had them start with their feet on zero and told them that they were frogs jumping from pad to pad on the pond.  Be careful, don’t fall in the water!

They had a such great time jumping two and finding out what number they landed on and jumping backwards three to see what that number would be.  The excitement carried all the way through actually completing the worksheet.  My daughter loves to sit and do worksheets or color, etc.  My son can do about three minutes and then he needs to do something else!  Even he sat all the way through this one and didn’t ask to get up.CIMG0302

Every time they went outside, they asked me to have them add or subtract on the number line – until it rained, that is!  I’m sure we’ll be drawing it again soon.

Dontchya just love it when a simple, spur of the moment idea works out great?

Tell me about a time when this happened for you!  I’d love to hear about it!

What subject was it?  Did you just know it was going to work or were you skeptical at first?  What ages were your children?  Give me all the details!CIMG0301

Old Schoolhouse Magazine Crew Review – American Heritage Education Foundation

American Heritage Education FoundationThe most important thing you should remember about this review is that you can download this product for free at the American Heritage Education Foundation website!!  Scroll down to about the middle of the page and you can choose from Elementary, Middle, and High School lesson plans to download.  For this review, I am focusing on the Elementary section since my children are 10 years old and under.

This resource is information packed!!  You could use the facts included for a whole year of American History lessons.  It is definitely put together for a larger group of children sitting in a classroom together in that it is mostly chunks of information with some analyzing activities.  Not that it’s bad – just not as *colorful* as a typical homeschooler might want their American History class.  As with anything, you can take the ideas and information contained in this curriculum and use it as a foundation or spring-board for additional activities.  You certainly will not have to go searching the website for the material needed to cover all the topics for class.

The topics included are as follows:

  1. Introduction
  2. American Heritage Themes
  3. Colonial American – Causes of the American Revolution
  4. Declaration of Independence
  5. A Famous Signature
  6. George Washington – Our First President
  7. The U.S. Presidents
  8. The Great Seal
  9. The History of Thanksgiving Day
  10. The United States Flag
  11. The Star Spangled Banner
  12. The National Motto
  13. The Statue of Liberty
  14. The Pledge of Allegiance Creed
  15. American the Beautiful
  16. What is an American?

My favorite topics were The U.S. Presidents and The Statue of Liberty.  Since even the elementary section is geared toward 2nd to 6th grade, most of the teaching ideas are quite over my kids’ heads, but those two sections had some ideas in them that I could see using to teach my kids.

Don’t forget to head on over to their website to download this great free resource and check out the other things they have available!

Old Schoolhouse Magazine Crew Review – Virginia Soaps and Scents

This has to be one of my favorite reviews so far!  All I had to do to try it out was take a nice long shower!  (They said to take a nice long bath, but I’m too tall for ours!  I would love to have one of those big huge tubs!)

The family behind Virginia Soaps and Scents is a homeschooling family of 9 (NINE!!) children that starting making soap as a science experiment in their own kitchen. It also helped them begin to heal from a terrible loss in their lives – the loss of their youngest granddaughter in a tragic accident.  Through the tears and grief, they were able to find something they could really dig into and enjoy doing.  Six months later, Virginia Soaps and Scents was off and running.

These really are just delightful people and I really enjoyed learning about them and testing out their products in our home.  They designed a package of 3 soaps and 1 shampoo bar especially for the Crew – I thought that was such a sweet touch and it had me loving the soap before I ever lathered up.  We also were given a sample of their Laundry Soap Kit.

All the products are made by hand in their own home with high quality, natural ingredients.  Soaps are made with palm, coconut (my favorite), soy, and castor oils and have added fragrance – they do have a line with no fragrance.

I love the fact that these soaps are all-natural!  It really feels great to know I’m not putting any nasty chemicals on my skin to be absorbed into my body.  The scents are wonderful, but not over-powering.

Have fun using these soaps, knowing you are supporting a wonderful homeschooling family!

Click here to see what other Crew members are saying about their VSS experience.

Old Schoolhouse Magazine Crew Review – The Amazing Bible World History Timeline

Can you imagine how large a map would have to be that included all of history – from Adam right down to 1982 and had everything from Bible events to secular world history?

It’s huge!  And, there is not one practical spot on my walls to display it!

Unfortunately, we are not in a position to really utilize such a tool at this point in our homeschooling journey so I don’t have a lot of day-in and day-out type of anecdotes on this one.  The timeline is laid out in a circular pattern and is color-coded according to the decendants of Noah – Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

I thought it was pretty neat to have the secular world history events alongside the Bible events.  It gives you a bit of perspective on what was happening the world over.  I also liked seeing the Bible events in chronological order because it is very intersting to me.

One note of caution – although this tool is referred to as a “Bible” timeline, there are also references to the book of Mormon which then renders that title as inaccurate.  Because of that, one or two things my husband found on the map, and a few other mysterious issues uncovered by some of the other Crew members, we won’t be using the timeline regularly as part of our homeschooling.  Just because it doesn’t work for us, though, doesn’t mean it couldn’t work for a family doing more studies in World History or Bible History or something along those lines.

If you would like to read what the other Crew members have said about this product, click here.

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Crew Review – ABC Teach (Website)

abclogo_designIt is absolutely mind-boggling how many resources this website has altogether in one place!!

In my own searches across the internet, looking for something specific to complete a lesson or for a fun activity that I could do with the kids, I have often run across the freebies that are offered at www.abcteach.com. There have been many times that I clicked on a link only to find out that it was for members only – argh!

For just a very short period of time (compared to how much is on this site to look at) I have had access to the “other side” of abcteach! (Consider that statement my legal disclaimer that I received a one month subscription to abcteach in exchange for a review including my honest opinions.)

Along with their thousands of free printable worksheets and activities, there are also over 35,000 pages of worksheets, activities, tools and more!  About 5,000 of those pages are completely free (they didn’t seem to have all the freebies in one linkable place – just remember to go on over there when you need to print something out and see if they have it available).  The number of resources on the site is growing everyday as they have contributors that are always working to provide more tools for the success of your school year!

I did a search for volcanoes and they have 36 different resources available!

  • two powerpoint presentations
  • a report cover and report form
  • printable mini-books
  • volcano diagram for students to label from memory
  • crossword puzzles
  • quizzes
  • stories about volcanoes to test comprehension
  • an acrostic
  • several coloring pages
  • a very comprehensive report planner
  • a volcano shapebook with prompts
  • volcano words unscrambler (you have to unscramble the letters to the words).

I’m ready to do a volcano unit just typing this all out!

I also did a search for *preschool* – 1259 resources were found!

There are also many customizable resources at abcteach – they call them abctools.  This is very nice when you need something to supplement what your child is working on and you want to use specific spelling words or math facts, etc.  Each tool that allows you to customize also has a tutorial that accompanies it which makes that learning curve so much shorter.  I thought the tutorials were very well done and really helped me figure out exactly what I needed to do to produce my very own resources!  Here are some of the things you can create:

  • bingo games with words, number, or symbols – abcteach already has many created for you but this gives you the freedom to use your child’s most recent spelling list or the roman numerals they are trying to remember.
  • circle and spell worksheets – the worksheets contain the words you program plus possible misspellings and the student circles the correctly spelled word
  • crossword puzzles
  • desktags
  • handwriting pages
  • math worksheets
  • missing letter worksheets
  • shapebooks (for all of us lapbooking addicts!)
  • spelling lists – you input your own spelling list and the worksheet that prints out helps the student study by giving them a spot to rewrite the words
  • sudoku puzzles
  • word searches
  • word shapes
  • word unscrambles
  • word walls

and that’s just the stuff you can create on your own!

The site is very easy to navigate and find exactly what you need.  There is a directory which lists the main catgories of resources which you can click on to see the specifics in that category.  Each resource also has a concise explanation of just what it will do for you.  Here is just a sampling of the directories:

  • Art and Music
  • Book Units – resources to use while reading such books as Charlotte’s Web, Little House on the Prairie, Dr. Suess, and Where The Wild Things Are
  • Holiday and Seasonal
  • Homeschooling and Parent Resources
  • Learning Centers
  • Power Points
  • Physical Education
  • Teaching Extras
  • Theme Units

and so much more! I’d never have to search the internet again for having a subscription to this one website. It sure seems like they have it ALL in one spot!!

Pricing for a membership to the site breaks down to less than $4 a month – $40 a year.  You can save $10 by purchasing two years up front for a total of $70 (that breaks down to less than $3 per month).

Are you enjoying the content on HomeGrownMommy?  Would you consider nominating me for “Best New Blog” over at HomeSchool Blog Awards?  You’ll find the nomination button at the top right corner of this page!  Thank you so much for stopping by!

First Grade Curriculum – A Day In The Life (Our Daily Schedule)

After the first article in this series, you are probably getting a little more comfortable building your own curriculum for your first grader.  If you missed the first article, be sure to sign up for articles to be delivered to your RSS feed or email and never miss another!

I thought it might be helpful if you could *see* what our day looks like, so this second article is a snapshot of one day with my first grader.

Click HERE to see the spreadsheet that I created for our daily schedule.  The column marked “Anna” is for my first grader.  Justus is nearly 11 and uses the ACE Curriculum for his school work.  Caleb is 3 and is mostly learning along with Anna.  Elia is 1 and keeps us all smiling!

Waking Up

All the children wake up at 7am and begin their morning routines.  My first grader likes to use an alarm clock and is already able to get out of bed right when her alarm clock goes off and begins working on her morning checklist.  This includes smiling (yes, I really put that on their checklist!), making their beds, brushing teeth, reading their Bibles, etc.  All four children have a checklist on their closet door.

I created a document on my computer for the AM and PM routines and printed it in color, AM on one side and PM on the other side.  Then, I laminated it and punched a hole in the top.  I tied a long piece of yarn through the hole at the top – the other end of the yarn had a dry erase marker attached to it.  The middle of the yarn got wound around the knob on the closet door.  This way, they can flip the checklist depending on which side they need.

I could have used pictures for my non-reader, but his big brother helps him with the list and I figured it would help him get used to those words more quickly.

Part of my goal with the checklist is to enable my children to get themselves ready in the morning without me having to remind them or walk them through each step.  With four children, it was getting rather time consuming to have to remind each one, “Okay, now brush your teeth.”  “Did you make your bed?”  “Pick up yor pajamas off the floor.”  If eventually everyone can get themselves ready in the morning, that frees me up to make breakfast in a more timely manner and helps my stress levels!


After everyone is “up and at ’em”, we eat breakfast together.  Anyone that did not get to read (or look at for my non-reader) their Bibles may do so during breakfast.

We do chores for about 30 minutes after each child takes their breakfast dishes to the sink and rinses them.  Each child has one or two consistent chores for that day of the week and one or two additional chores based on which area of the house needs the most attention.  We all work together in the same room of the house and have a great time together.

Then, it’s outside time for about 30 minutes.  The kids usually play together on the screened-in porch while I wash and fold laundry as our laundry room is right off the porch.

School Starts

At 9am, we “officially” start our school day!

For my first grader, each subject has a 30 minute time slot built into the schedule.  This includes transition time and time to bring out materials, etc.  In this order, we cover Bible Story/Memory Verse, Math, Social Studies, English/Word Building/Penmanship, German, and Science.

One of the best tools I have ever used is “Quiet Play Time”.  For children who spend every waking moment together, this is an invaluable piece of the day.  Don’t get me wrong, I love it that my kids are best buddies as they work and play side by side, day after day.  But, sometimes, they just need a break from each other.  This is especially true for my two that are the closest in age.  They are 16 months apart and play wonderfully together.  If they go the whole day without any time apart, there are lots more squabbles by the end of the day than normal.  One of my 30 minute time slots is for their quiet play time.  They go in their own room and play with their own toys in whatever way they want to.  Then, they are ready to come back together and share and work cooperatively again.


After lunch, Anna has some time alone with me for reading.  This is our “Literature” time.  We snuggle in together on the couch and bring out some books and really dig in.  Sometimes, I have books that are her reading level and she reads to me.  Sometimes, I have a reading text book that I found at the library and we go through all the questions and additional literature activities.  Sometimes, I bring out a book that is a bit beyond her reading level and read to her, stopping often to talk about what it happening in the story.

She then goes to her bed for some independent reading and resting time.  Anna is only 4 so a nap/rest time is still in order. If she were the regular 6 or 7 year old first grader, I would probably not give her a nap but let her have some free play time.


Then, comes our regular evening time.  She is pretty much done with “school” at this point, though we still have structure to the rest of the evening.  Since it isn’t necessarily what you would call regular school, I won’t go into detail here but take a look at the schedule I posted above to see what my first grader does in the evening.

There are more articles to come in this First Grade Curriculum Series!  Be sure to sign up for articles to be delivered to your RSS feed or email and don’t worry about missing even one!

Crew Review – Nature Friend Magazine

nature friend

This was a truly wonderful review experience!  I absolutely love this magazine.  I know we are supposed to be balanced in our reviews, but I simply cannot think of anything else to say about this product expect praises!  We were given (free of charge) the August and September 2009 magazines to review.

Beautiful, full-color photos.  Interesting activities.  Exciting stories.  Good quality, durable paper.  Opportunities for the kids to participate.  King James Bible verses.  Easy to follow layout.  Fabulous overall!

Of course, my favorite feature out of them all is the focus on God’s creation.  In each and every article, the authors point out God’s handiwork in the world around us.  One of their goals, according to their tagline, is “Helping Families Explore the Wonders of God’s Creation”.  They are certainly fulfilling that mission!

While they gear the magazine toward the 8 to 16 year old age bracket, children of every age can definitely participate in the fun with this magazine.  The Nature Friend magazine pointed out that every other issue is sort of tipped toward the older end of the age bracket.  But, regardless of the issue, they include comments from grandparents and drawing from 3 year olds!

One article talked about the weaverbird which lives in eastern Africa.  The author was living in Africa for a short time and was able to observe the bird building its very unique nest.  It is an intricate design in which the bird weaves strands of grass in and out of the nest wall.

“The top of the nest is dome-shaped to shed rain. The entrance into the nest is at one end of the bottom of the oblong nest. At the other end of the bottom is a cup-shaped shelf to hold eggs. The bird flies into the nest from beneath. It is amazing how the bird can swoop upward into the one and one-half inch opening. The nest itself is about five and one-half inches long, three and one-half inches wide, and four inches high.”

Each article brought us back to amazement and wonder at the sophisticated way our great God created the things we see around us.


  • I See It! Each issue includes a scavenger hunt.  The children search each page for a specific small picture.  The August issue had the little icon on 6 pages.
  • Pictures and Poems – Children are invited to publish their picture or poem in the Nature Friend magazine.
  • Invisibles – Find the small objects hidden in the big picture.
  • The Story Behind the Photo – Photographers display their photos and talk about the events that lead up to capturing the interesting photo.
  • The Mailbox – This feature shows letters that have been sent to Nature Friend containing questions like, “What bug is this?” or funny nature experiences.
  • You Can Draw – Each issue has a drawing lesson.  They go through a specific subject to draw step by step.  September’s subject was a black bear.  In a few months, they print many of the submissions they receive from readers.
  • Learning by Doing – This is a hands-on activity that helps children to understand a part of God’s creation a bit more in-depth.
  • Caption This – A funny nature picture is displayed and readers are invited to submit their caption for the photo.

Study Guide

You will be very pleased if you decide to purchase the study guide along with the regular subscription.  As the Nature Friend website describes, it enhances your learning experience of each issue.  Along with reinforcing the material contained in the regular issue through puzzles and additional articles, the study guides also contain creative writing lessons and nature photography lessons.

Sample Issues

June 2008

July 2008

August 2008


You can purchase a full year of Nature Friend Magazine for $36 annually – that’s $3 per issue.  By adding on the Study Guide for $24, you would be paying $5 for each issue.  They also offer a two year subscription for $68 or $2.83 an issue.  When bundled with the Study Guide, that’s only $4.83 per issue.

And now, for a limited time only, you can receive $3 off any new subscription by using the code BLOG93!

This would be the perfect gift for birthdays or other gift-giving occasions.  They get a gift every month instead of just on the special day!