Christmas Light Scavenger Hunt Printable for Readers and Non-Readers

Please feel free to direct people to this blog post to download their own scavenger hunt, but do not share the files. 
Thanks for respecting my work!

If you asked my children what is your favorite holiday tradition, they would all say it is our annual Christmas Light Scavenger Hunt. We pile in our minivan and drive 30 minutes to a neighborhood that goes all out for Christmas with decorating. Preacher Man drives slowly through the streets while the kids and I try to be the first to mark off the things on our list. I’ve been able for the past few years to find Christmas scavenger hunt printables on the internet, but some of them have really odd items like a dolphin (who decorates with a dolphin at Christmas?) and none of them were really great for Levi who still can’t read well enough to read his own list, so I spent most of my time yelling to the backseat what he should be looking for. Necessity is the mother of invention and this year I made our own Christmas Scavenger Hunt printables and one that is specifically for non-readers in your family so they can be part of the fun without needing assistance.

In case you are curious about how we play, when you find something on the list at a house, you have to yell and point out the house you are using and what item on your list you are using it for. That house is then off limits to other players for that item, but could be used by other players for a different item as long as they claim it. The first one to get everything on their list wins and gets to choose where we grab our supper before heading home. It’s so much fun and would be a great thing to do with youth groups, friends, and, of course, your family.

Just print out your choice of printable below (or both!), schedule a night to go out, and have a blast celebrating our family’s favorite time of year! 

A Scholé Power Hour: Resources

This post contains affiliate links which helps support this blog. See full legal disclosure here.

Now that we’re a good three months into our school year, I wanted to do a short series on our Morning Meeting time for this year. It usually takes me a couple of months to iron the kinks out of everything we’re using, get the scheduling down just right, and replace resources that didn’t work for ones that will. Hopefully that’s encouraging to some of you that despite seven years of homeschooling I still need a few months to get things clicking on all cylinders!

The first major change for the year was that Morning Meeting had a name change. Grace would always tease me that Morning Meeting would usually occur in the afternoon and sometimes even at night: “It’s not really Morning Meeting, Mom, if we don’t do it in the morning.” Point taken. So I began to think about new names for that time of our school day when I came across the term Power Hour from Jen’s blog, Forever, For Always…No Matter What. I loved the name and it addressed something else that had been bothering me about our Morning Meeting time: length.

So the next change I made was being determined to pare down our Morning Meeting time to fit within an hour time constraint. While our normal time of an hour and a half to two hours wasn’t necessarily bad, it just took a large part of our day, and I felt like I needed a nap after all that reading to the kids and keeping Levi from running amok. After some trial and error, I’ve been able to trim everything down to fit within an hour or an hour and fifteen minutes. I even set a timer for the first few weeks to make sure that I was keeping true to my vision for our new and improved Power Hour part of the day!

So now for the fun part: book list! Listed below are the resources that I'm using with my kids this year during our Power Hour time. These resources are for the ENTIRE year so don't look at the list and panic. In the next post about our Power Hour time, I'll show how all of these are scheduled over the week and over the year. Believe it or not this is the list that's been culled to keep restful learning happening around here.

Bible Study

Bible Study Guide for All Ages: We have used and loved this Bible program since we started homeschooling. You can see my review here.

Sweet Speak by Elizabeth Jimenez: While this book is geared toward teenage girls, the content is fabulous for anyone to learn how to let their words be words that build instead of destroy. I chose this for us to read through and discuss together because we ALL need this study around here!


Poetry for Young People: Emily Dickinson and Poetry for Young People: Edward Lear: The Poetry for Young People series is one of my most favorite finds since we started homeschooling. These books make studying and reading poetry painless since they have notes about the poems, bio about the poet, and definitions of words included in the text.

Sing Song by Christina Rossetti: This collection of poems should be a staple in your home if you have younger children. 

Rhymes and Verses: Collected Poems for Young People by Walter de la Mare

All of the above poetry books are meant to be read for enjoyment over the course of the year, but to actually study poetry I'm using the following book from Memoria Press. 

Poetry for the Grammar Stage: We'll only be covering the third grade poems this year, one each term.


Visits to the Middle East by Sonya Shafer: I've been so impressed with how easy these books make learning geography. This year we are focusing on the Middle East, but I plan to continue the series with my kids because it's so effective.

The Complete Book of Marvels by Richard Halliburton: I grabbed this book about two years ago and immediately fell in love with this amazing living geography book. Copies are sometimes difficult to find and can be pricey, but it's well worth it if you can find a copy within your budget.

The Glorious Adventure by Richard Halliburton: In this book, Halliburton, an adventurer from the early 20th century, follows the path of Odysseus' journey from Troy back to his home in Greece. I thought this would be the perfect way to finish up our study of geography for the year.


Builders of the Old World by Gertrude Hartman: I mentioned this series of books when I talked about my favorite living history books and I still love The History on the March series just as much. We're finishing the last 1/3 of this book before moving on to the next one.....

Makers of the Americas by Marion Lansing: This is the American history overview book from the History on the March series. This series is out of print, but you can usually find copies of the books for pretty cheap on the internet. 


The Burgess Seashore Book for Children by Thornton Burgess: Since our main science focus this year is on the ocean, adding this book to Power Hour was a no-brainer. It's a classic!

Lives of the Scientists by Kathleen Krull: I discovered this book at our library and fell in love. It's fun, informative, and has great pictures.


Fifty Famous Stories Retold by James Baldwin: A classic book that covers famous myths and tales.

The World's Best Fairy Tales (Reader's Digest Anthology): I know, I know. A Reader's Digest book? Honestly, though, this collection is fabulous and you can find the book for cheap! It is actually a two volume collection, but I only have the second volume which is awesome by itself. 

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin: An amazing book that weaves Chinese folktales into a great adventure story.

Art and Music Appreciation

Artists we are covering: 20th Century Artists (Jackson Pollock, Salvador Dali, Andy Warhol, Wassily Kandinsky, and Jasper Johns), Van Gogh, Georgia O'Keefe, and Claude Monet. I use Mike Venezia books to give background on the artist and choose five paintings for us to study from each artist, except the 20th Century Artist study where we only study two painting from each artist.

21 Lessons in 20th Century American Music by Gena at I Choose Joy: This is probably one of the things I'm most excited about this year! While I want my kids to know about the greats of classical music, American music did some amazing world changing things during the 20th century and this curriculum makes it easy to teach and learn about the different genres, composers, and artists that lived during this time. A fun, modern way to do music appreciation!


Getting Started with Latin by William E. Linney: We are having so much fun using this book. It's easy to teach even for someone with no previous Latin exposure (me!) and presents Latin in small bite size pieces. 

Philosophy for Kids: 40 Fun Questions That Help You Wonder About Everything! by David White: We're only doing one question each week, but this book has brought some great discussion about right, wrong, truth, ethics, etc. to our Power Hour time. Highly recommend!

How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare by Ken Ludwig: I think this book has become a staple of homeschool families. It's wonderful for introducing children to the Bard and helping them memorize passages from his most famous plays.

It looks like a lot to get through, huh? I promise that it's not with a little bit of scheduling, so stay tuned for part two where I show how I take all of this and turn it into a workable plan that doesn't feel rushed or strained.

What’s your favorite Morning Meeting/Power Hour resource?

Let me know in the comments below because I’m always looking for new resources!


The Truth About Dealing with Attitude in Your Homeschool

Sometimes when I’m writing blog posts as part of a group, topics come up that I feel wholly inadequate to write about. This is one of those posts! Our Everyday Scholé group is writing about how to maintain a restful homeschool when you are dealing with negative attitudes from your children. While I could write a post that sounds good about how to do this, it would be a work of fiction. In all honesty, I haven’t yet figured out a good way to keep my children’s whining, complaining, grumpiness, and hormonal mood swings from affecting my attitude and our homeschool.  So instead of telling you how to fix the problem, I’m going to lay it all out there and talk about how it really works around here.

When it comes to losing my mind, a few whiny, negative comments from my kids can cause teaching from rest to fly out the window. Usually this is for a couple of reasons: 1) We just did this exact scenario yesterday about the exact same issue and I’m over it. Or 2) I’m trying to give the kids plenty of free time, make things fun, spend hours researching curriculum, and a thousand other things to keep our homeschool fun and interesting, but I only get negative feedback. I wish I could tell you that I handle my composure and my attitude well during these moments, but I don’t. I do great at teaching from rest as much as it depends on me, but when I start adding my actual students into the mix things get difficult. Apparently they didn’t get the memo that we’re doing this homeschool gig via leisurely learning and restful teaching now so the bad attitudes are no longer welcome.

However, despite my short-comings in this area there are some things that are helpful to remember when trying to stay in teaching from rest mode when bad attitudes show up.

I can’t force them to change their attitude. This seems to be my default method for dealing with my kids’ when they’ve gone off the rails. If I find the right thing to take away or the right punishment, then they will magically turn into compliant angels. It doesn’t work that way. In fact it usually has the opposite effect. The more I try to force the more their attitude worsens.

I need to be a thermostat not a thermometer. Thermometers reflect heat. In other words they don’t change the temperature, they just show the same. Thermostats, on the other hand, actually control temperature by not letting things get too warm. While I might not be able to force my children to have good attitudes, I can control the situation by not letting my attitude reflect theirs.

We all need to take a break. When you homeschool you are around family all day long. While this is good, in some ways it can be bad as well. Sometimes poor attitude is the result of needing some space from each other or getting out of the house. If our day is really going south and everyone seems to be in a bad mood, I might try to do a fifteen minute walk around the neighborhood with the kids or let everyone have an hour of alone time to regroup.

Be a detective. Bad attitudes almost always have a root cause and it helps me to remember to search for what it is. Are they not getting enough sleep? Are they hungry? Are they ill? Are they frustrated with the work I’m asking them to do because it’s too easy or too difficult? If you can cure the cause, the bad attitudes should soon go away as well.

When I’m able to remember these four things, I am much more able to keep our homeschool time in the sweet spot of restful teaching and learning.

For more helpful tips on how to keep restful learning in your homeschool while dealing with attitude problems check out what my fellow Everyday Scholé bloggers have to say:


 What’s your go to solution when attitude problems arise?


Home-Scholé Transformation

5 Benefits Teaching from Rest Brought to Our Homeschool

Whenever you start a new venture in life it’s always helpful to do a cost-benefit analysis. What will be my cost compared to the benefit I gain? When I started going down the scholé path and learning about the concept of teaching from rest, I definitely had to decide if the cost of my time and energy to learn and implement a new teaching philosophy with my children and in our homeschool was worth it. I can definitively say, after about 18 months of schooling this way, it absolutely is! 

Peace of Mind

I’ve written before about how a homeschool crisis a couple of years ago started me looking for a better way to run our homeschool. I came from a place of doubt and worry to one of having peace of mind about what my children are learning and the direction that I want to take with their future education. Teaching from rest helped me to realize that some of my wishes for their education were unattainable (teaching them everything they’d ever need to know) and unrealistic (make them love and enjoy every subject). Now I can have peace of mind about our homeschool because I know I want them to have feasted on truth, beauty, and goodness when our time of home education ends. I don’t feel the burden to cover every base, but to make sure the bases I do cover are done well.

 Joy in the Process
Before scholé the learning environment in our home was a pretty tense one, lots of reminders to hurry, exasperation on my part, and frustration from the children. Now that we have started to reap the benefits of teaching from rest, the learning process has taken on an entirely different tone. Most days we can all sit back and enjoy the ride of learning. We can wallow in the process of discovery and discussion. My children and I are relearning how to learn together in a way that feels natural and organic while still having structure. It doesn’t mean that I still don’t fall into bad patterns at times or that we all sit around and hold hands while reviewing Latin vocabulary, but the tenure of our days has changed for the better.

Confidence in My Ability
The most often heard comment I hear when people find out that I used to be a public school teacher is, “Homeschooling must be so easy for you!” Yeah, right. Give me a room of eighth grade students, hand me a history textbook, and I’m your girl. Place my own child in front of me who’s struggling with math or learning to read, and I’m just as terrified as any other homeschool parent. Teaching from rest has helped me to become more confident in my ability to teach my own child. Not because I have a super human teaching power now, but because it helped me focus on the spiritual Power that I have to fill in the gaps where my own confidence falls short. Too many times I forgot that this is not a solitary endeavor, it is a joint work between myself and God. I bring all I have to the altar where He takes it and turns my meager ability into something great within my children.

Customization in Education
Once I let go of my doubts and fears, found my confidence, and began enjoying the process of learning again, scholé really opened my eyes to the possibility of stepping outside the box and teaching my children as individuals, or in Charlotte Mason’s words, teaching my children as “the born persons” that they are. The process of customizing our children’s education is where homeschooling really shines above and beyond what public and private schools can offer. Many times we let doubts and lack of confidence tie us to standards and keeping up with the Homeschool Jones’ instead of teaching the children we have. An education of rest and leisure doesn’t mean less rigorous, but it definitely means more connected to the child.

Understanding My Role
I once felt all of the pressures on my shoulders to make sure my children were successes. I mean, if they never learn about George Washington or how to balance a chemical equation there is no one to blame for an educational oversight except you. This pressure manifested itself in how I taught. It was very much a system of “listen to me because I am your teacher” instead of learning alongside my children and listening to what they had to say as well. As teaching from rest became more entrenched in my thoughts I slowly found myself taking time to follow rabbit trails with the kids, to listen to what they thought Emily Dickinson was trying to convey in her poem, or just to enjoy a good book together. I dropped the authoritative draconian model and adopted a more mentor and fellow learner model which definitely made our days more restful and leisurely.

I feel like I need to add a caveat at the end of this post to keep things real. It is a very rare day {like maybe once} that I find all of these things in our homeschool at one time. Let’s face it, life happens, kids have attitudes, mom has hormones and most days I fall so far short that I would be disqualified from a long jump competition. The freeing aspect of restful teaching is that it no longer burdens me as much as it did. I keep working at it. I keep reaching for that goal. My encouragement comes in seeing the fruit of my pursuit in our homeschool. So please don’t think that I have it all together and our homeschool runs like a well oiled scholé machine. These are the benefits I have found from a poor implementation of the ideal. I can’t even imagine what a homeschool looks like that does it really well!

Curious what my fellow Everyday Scholé bloggers have discovered to be the biggest benefits to them from restful teaching? Just click the links below to find out.


What changes in your homeschool philosophy have brought about the biggest rewards?
Let me know in the comments.

Scholé is Your Homeschool's Fairy Godmother


Once upon a time, there was a homeschool mom, frazzled, worn out, snappy to her children, and generally feeling defeated. Her two stepsisters, Worry and Fear, were constantly making snide comments to her about her effectiveness at educating her children.

“Aren’t you worried that they will fall behind their peers?” questioned Worry.

“Aren’t you afraid that they can’t get into college?” asked Fear.

“Aren’t you worried you are forgetting to teach them something important?” interrogated Worry.

“Aren’t you afraid they are too sheltered?” queried Fear.

The stepsisters were so awful that they even got the townspeople to harass the homeschool mom when she was out and about with her kids. At the market she’d hear, “What about socialization?” At the park someone would ask her, “Are you qualified to do this?”

Every night the homeschool mom would collapse in front of the fireplace out of exhaustion and cry herself to sleep. The next morning she’d wake up determined not to prove Fear, Worry, and the townspeople correct. She purchased curriculum for at least 12 different subjects to make sure she didn’t leave anything out. When she found out what the local schools were doing, she decided to add a couple more subjects she hadn’t thought about. She came up with beautifully regimented schedules to make sure she could cram everything into their day. When the children took too long she would shout, “Hurry up! We still have 5 subjects to complete!” When the children interrupted to relate a story or ask a question, she responded in a brisk manner, “We’ll deal with that later. Right now focus on math.” By the end of the day, the homeschool mom and the children felt stressed, uninspired, and no longer wanted to even be in the same room with each other.

After months of this routine, the homeschool mom walked out into the backyard one evening. She realized that she couldn’t do it anymore. She would have to put the kids in school. She felt she was an abysmal failure and knew she was turning into a tyrannical mother that she didn’t even recognize. As she looked up at the moon and contemplated enrolling the kids on the morrow, she heard the sound of tinkling bells behind her. Turning around, an astonishing sight greeted her!

A tall, statuesque woman dressed in Grecian robes with a laurel wreath crown stood in front of her. She smiled serenely at the homeschool mom, “I have come to assist you in your desire to educate your children. My name is Scholé and I am your homeschool’s fairy godmother.”

“My homeschool has a fairy godmother?” the homeschool mom asked incredulously.

“Absolutely. In fact my name, Scholé, is where your English word school originated. My name’s meaning has long since departed from any form of school that I’ve seen,” smirked the fairy godmother, “but I’m here to help you turn your homeschool into a place of rest and leisure which is what my name means. So tell me, homeschool mom, what would your dream homeschool day look like?”

The homeschool mom proceeded to outline days spent in deep conversation and contemplation, quiet afternoons spent curled up on the couch reading from great books, diving into learning with eagerness, and ending the days feeling pleased and confident.

When she finished her five minute speech, Scholé burst into laughter. “You know this isn’t a fairy tale right? I can’t make every day like that. You are merely human as are your children. You will still have rough days, even bad ones, but I can help you transform your homeschool into something that comes closer to that vision,” promised the fairy godmother.

“Here’s what I can give you. I can help you prioritize the things that are important in this world: truth, beauty, and goodness. I can help you determine what curriculum and books will cultivate those traits in both you and your children. I can help you focus on the end goal, which is not college or perfect scores on a test, but helping your children be the best adults they can be. I can help you silence the voices of those stepsisters of yours by giving you the confidence that even though your school might not look like anyone else’s, you are walking this path knowing that it is not a sprint, but a marathon. I can transform your homeschool days by giving you peace that you are educating your children at their pace and to their strengths despite what the grade level on the book says.”

“Yes,” cried the homeschool mom in despair, “I want that! What do I need to do?”

“You need to throw out what you believe school to be,” answered Scholé, “and learn what teaching from a place of rest is. Not rest meaning that you are doing nothing, but rest in that you are doing everything that needs to be done for the goal of nurturing souls.”

“I will, Fairy Godmother! I will!” asserted the homeschool mom. “And since you mentioned transformation earlier,” she asked sheepishly, “is there any way you could transform me to look like you?”

“Oh, honey, remember this isn’t a fairy tale!” Scholé responded saucily over her shoulder as she glided away to the next homeschool in desperate need of leisure and rest.

I hope you enjoyed my autobiographical description of how I learned about scholé. If you’d like to read some other great definitions of what this teaching from rest and leisurely homeschooling is all about check out my fellow Everyday Scholé blog buddies:

 Do your homeschool days resemble the before or after transformation above?
Let me know in the comments below.


Homeschool Coupons for Back to School

Every year on the day our local public schools start back, we have our very own Not Back to School Party which usually involves eating out for breakfast, a trip to the big city to visit a museum or the zoo, and I try to come up with a fun way to kick off our school year. Last year I created a Homeschool Supplies Scavenger Hunt which the kids LOVED! In fact, the minute they noticed the school supplies being rolled out in the stores, they started asking if we were doing the scavenger hunt again. We had technically already started back to school for the year at that point, so new school supplies had already been purchased and were in use, but I wanted to do another scavenger hunt with them. But what would be the prize at the end?

Since Grace is participating in her first homeschool classes two days a week this year, I will be doing quite a bit of schooling at local libraries with the kids, which obviously means they need some cute backpacks. I’d never bought backpacks for them before, but that seemed like the perfect prize to be waiting at the end of our library scavenger hunt (yes, we’re doing it in the library this year so they can practice some library skills while hunting). Knowing how my kids think, though, the first thing they will do when they find the backpacks is open them expecting something to be inside. I didn’t want to spend more money, so instead I came up with Homeschool Coupons, and they are going to be perfect!

There are 19 coupons in all with two of them being “free” days where your child can choose what to do. The coupons include things like having ice cream for lunch, going bowling instead of having science class, skipping your least favorite subject for the day, etc. I know that the kids are going to have so much fun with these! However to make sure things didn’t get too out of hand, I have a disclaimer on the front of the coupon pack that says only one coupon may be turned in each week, including siblings’ coupons. So my kids are going to have to work together to decide exactly who is getting to use their coupon that week.

I’ve thought of a few ways to use these coupons. I hole-punched ours and put them on a binder ring. I gave each girl their own set of coupons while Levi is getting the four “Your Choice” coupons out of his sisters’ coupon books. You could also take the 19 coupons and divide them among your children so they all have different ones personalized for them. Another way to use these would be for good behavior/attitude rewards. Put all the coupons in a basket and allow your child to draw one out each week if they’ve had good attitude and behavior during school time.

I can’t wait for my kids to get their Homeschool Coupon books in a couple of weeks! And because I love my blog readers, you can download yours right now though; just click on the link below.

What fun things do you do to get your children excited about starting a new homeschool year?



Living Book Chemistry Plans for Elementary

This post contains affiliate links. I appreciate your support of my blog. See full legal disclosure here.

When I asked my kids what they wanted to study for science this year, they both said that they wanted to “blow things up,” which I took to understand that they wanted to learn about chemistry. Being a Charlotte Mason inspired homeschool, I knew I wanted to use living books as much as possible to study chemistry. In case you were curious, this is very difficult to do with a third grader and sixth grader, but I came up with what I feel is a great selection of books to introduce chemistry to younger learners.

We are not exploring every facet of chemistry, but instead I wanted to focus on beginning exposure since this was the first time either of my girls had ventured into the chemical realm at all. My goal is to have the girls understand the states of matter, atoms, molecules, compounds, solutions, elements, periodic table, and how chemistry influences our lives. We start our three week study on Monday, but I wanted to share my plans in advance. I’ll come back and rate how things worked later.

Read Aloud Books for Both

The How and Why Wonder Book of Chemistry : Our spine for most of the study. This book is older, but easy to understand with nice pictures and not too much text.

Itch: The Explosive Adventures of an Element Hunter : Believe it or not, there is actually a fictional book about chemistry! I’m looking forward to reading this one to the girls as much as anything else we are studying just to see how chemistry works as a plot line.

What Is the World Made Of? All About Solids, Liquids, and Gases : The Let’s Read and Find Out science books are some of my favorites and this one is perfect for introducing the states of matter to elementary age kids.

A Drop Of Water: A Book of Science and Wonder : If nothing else the stunning photographs in this book make it a must have! Learning about one of the most important molecules on our planet makes it educational.

What's Smaller Than a Pygmy Shrew? : A super cute and informative picture book to help kids understand exactly how tiny atoms and their parts are. This one even helped me visualize the size of atoms.

The Story of Salt : I love this picture book because it combines chemistry (NaCl) with history to teach children in a fun way how chemistry can actually shape world history.

The Day-Glo Brothers : This fun book is about two brothers who used chemistry to invent day-glo colors that are used to day for safety vests, signs, etc. It’s best to read this book under a black light for maximum awesomness!

Independent Reads

Exploring the World of Chemistry: From Ancient Metals to High-Speed Computers : Grace will be reading one chapter every day from this book, which traces the history of chemistry from ancient times to present day.  She loves the Tiner books because of their conversational tone.

Marie Curie's Search for Radium : Sophia is reading this one to me very slowly over the course of our study. It’s slightly above her reading level which is why we are taking our time with it. Marie Curie was such an amazing woman that I can’t wait for Sophia to read this one!

Experiment Books

Fizz, Bubble & Flash!: Element Explorations & Atom Adventures for Hands-On Science Fun! : This book has experiments organized by element. We’re using it to do three experiments.

Amazing Kitchen Chemistry Projects You Can Build Yourself : A fun way to explore chemistry and get in the kitchen. We’re using this book to do four experiments.


BBC Discovering the Elements: A three part series that is difficult to find but gets rave reviews!

For Fun

The Periodic Table of Elements Coloring Book : Perfect to help kids who love art and coloring to learn.

Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe : Gorgeous pictures and good information about how every element is used in our world today.

The Periodic Table: Elements with Style! : Fun book that creates cartoon characters for each of the elements.

Quick Six Elements Game: A great way to help kids become familiar with the elements and the periodic table.

Hopefully this list will help some of you who might be struggling to add some living books into your chemistry studies! You can download my plans for how I make all of this work together over the course of three weeks here.

Be sure and check out the other bloggers participating in week 2 of the Virtual Curriculum Fair about math and the "mathy" sciences of physics and chemistry.

Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses - Thoughts on Math and Science
Kristen @ Sunrise to Sunset  - From Counting to Calculus
Laura @ Day by Day in Our World  - How We Approach Math in This Homeschool Year
Annette @ A Net In Time - Struggling with Math, Loving Science
Annette @ A Net In Time  - Lego Pulleys and Levers
Yvie @ Gypsy Road Hands - On Math with Special Needs Learners
Chelli @ The Planted Trees  - Chemistry Using Living Books
Lisa @ GoldenGrasses  - An Appalling Lack of Curiosity
Edie @ Carter Chaos  - Our Favorite Ways to Study Numbers
Tracey @ A Learning Journey  - Robot Area and Perimeter Art Project
Jennifer @ A Glimpse of Our Life  - Math and Standardized Tests
Jen @ Chestnut Grove Academy  - Discovering Patterns: Mathematics, Logic, and Science
Sarah @ DeliveringGrace  - Learning Multiplication Tables
Kylie @ Our Worldwide Classroom  - Multisensory Multiplication
Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break  - Science and Stuff
Kemi Quinn @ Homemaking Organized  - Math in Our Homeschool for a Later Elementary Organized Reader
Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory  - Math and Logic - Our Steady Path
Laura @ Four Little Penguins  - Math and Science Love

          What subject have you found difficult to teach through living books?


Online Homeschool Planning: Pinterest and Homeschool Planet

Technology to Help Plan and Prep Your Homeschool

This post contains affiliate links. I appreciate your support of my blog. See full legal disclosure here. I received a subscription to Homeschool Planet for free, and I'm being compensated for my time to write this review. All of my opinions are my own as I am not required to write a positive review.

Homeschooling in the 21st century is an exciting time. With the advent of technology, home education is becoming more accessible to the masses and easier than ever for those of us already homeschooling.  I’m starting a new series about how to use technology to help you, the homeschool parent, prepare and plan your homeschool.

I love using technology especially when it comes to planning. I use Pinterest to do my big picture planning and recently started using Homeschool Planet as my detailed, daily planner.

Using Pinterest for Homeschool Planning
While Pinterest is best known as a place to find home improvement projects and recipes, it is a perfect place to use as homeschool planning as well. I didn’t start out using Pinterest this way, but as I began to pin more and more homeschool related things, I soon realized that it was the solution to help me remember those random book recommendations that other homeschoolers suggested, curriculum that looked really cool to use one day, or blog posts that inspired and helped me. Here are three tips to help maximize Pinterest’s potential when planning your homeschool year:

1. Be specific with your boards. I break my homeschool boards down into narrow categories. For example, science is broken down into specific topics such as chemistry, botany, astronomy, etc. History is divided into specific time periods and subject matter. This allows me to quickly find things that fit exactly with our homeschool studies for the year without having to scroll through 100 different pins on one general science board. When I began planning and need a specific book, activity, or video, the first place I check are my Pinterest boards for ideas {sneak a peek at how my Pinterest boards are organized}.

2. Think about the future. I quickly realized that Pinterest was great for planning far into the future. Even though my oldest is just entering the middle grades, I still pin things that look interesting for high school, and when my oldest was in lower elementary, I was pinning things for upper elementary and middle school. I have discovered this was invaluable because once Grace hit the middle grades, I already had curriculum, books, activities, etc. already waiting. If I’d tried to remember all of that, I would have failed miserably.

3. Maximize the description box. I recently started making the description box on each of my homeschool pins much more user friendly for planning. I now try to include grade levels, ages, or reading levels for any curriculum or books that I pin. For example, I recently pinned a creative writing book I am thinking about possibly using for Grace in the near future. When I pinned it, I added in the description that it was intended for grades 3 and up. Now I can tell with one glance exactly which grades the book can be used, without clicking on the pin. By doing this one simple act, it has really made my planning time much shorter.

Using Homeschool Planet for Planning
While I prefer doing my initial planning on paper, once I get a final plan I prefer to use an online planner because it’s so easy and simple. I’ve tried a handful of different online planners, but there are definitely some huge benefits for our family that are found in Homeschool Planet.

1. It allows me to input shared classes. So this just might be my favorite feature of Homeschool Planet! Instead of having to enter the same class separately for each of my kids, I can enter it once and tell the program that both girls will be doing the class. Then in the assignments I can differentiate anything I need the girls to do separately. This is super helpful since we combine for science, history, and geography. I only have to type things once and with a click of a button it shows up on both girls’ assignment sheets.

2. I can use it on my tablet. While not all the features are available for the mobile version, the most important part is available: our schedule. I can open Homeschool Planet on my tablet and instantly know exactly what is assigned for each child in our homeschool. This makes life so convenient for me since I don’t need a print out to keep up with everything. School can go with us anywhere we go and with Grace being involved in some outsourced classes this year, I know that having Homeschool Planet at my fingertips will be super helpful.

3. I can schedule their chores. Not only does Homeschool Planet keep our school work organized, but it also lets me add each child’s chores to their daily list as well. This makes our chore system super easy to implement since I have no need for any extra cute charts or printables. One sheet of paper contains it all, from school work to their responsibilities around the home.

4. I can customize exactly what I want it to do. Utilizing all the features of Homeschool Planet allows me to create shopping lists, family appointment calendars, book lists, to do lists, etc. all in one place. While I don’t use every feature they have, I do use a lot of them. It makes things so handy to have everything all in one digital place, so when I need to run errands, I’ve got all of the information I need at my fingertips. No more having 10 pieces of paper to keep track of or a big binder to carry around of a paper planner.

5. It saves me TONS of time. So I'm kind of known among my friends and fellow homeschoolers for my intense planning method of pre-planning our entire year. Thank goodness for Homeschool Planet because it saves me hours when I'm ready to input everything for our year. It does all the work for me at one click of a button. It can repeat assignments. It can divide long term assignments. It can manipulate your plans almost any way you wish. As an example, when I input an entire year's worth of work for both of my girls this year, it only took me one hour. Love it!

By using Pinterest and Homeschool Planet, you can easily use technology to plan for a year of homeschooling. If you don’t have a Pinterest account already, go sign up! If you want to try Homeschool Planet, Homeschool Buyers Co-op offers a 30 day FREE trial so you can see how awesome digital planning can be! And while you are there, sign up with the co-op for great group buys exclusively for homeschoolers!

How do you use technology to plan your homeschool?