Posts tagged #homeschool

Reasons You Should Start Gardening with Your Kids

As we are approaching the second year for our family garden my kids are giddy with excitement and looking forward to getting out and getting dirty! This past Easter their baskets were filled will all sorts of gardening goodies. The Easter bunny hit it spot on this year! They were filled with a watering can, mini garden gloves, seeds, and gardening tools.


last year

was such a success and the kiddies were so interested, we decided that we are going to give the girls their very own garden bed to putts around in! Gardening is such a wonderful activity and hobby for young kids to take part in and here's why...


This is a

hands on experience

for the kids to learn where our food comes from and how it's made. Most kids who don't have a clue about gardening assume our food is made at the grocery store. Learning about seeds, plant needs, and how to grow their own food will make plant biology all the more fun!

Teach them about work and Responsibility

Not only do your kids learn about the educational aspects behind gardening but they learn about the hard work it takes to produce the food and the work it takes caring for the plants.

Physical activity

Kids should be out playing anyways but fun in the sun can be constructive as well and gets them moving the muscles they're not used to while sitting in class all day.

It's fun!

Most kids enjoy gardening and getting their hands a little dirty. Why not give them a productive activity that you can join in on as well.

Boosts their self-esteem

My little one felt so proud when the tomatoes and cucumbers started to grow. It's like she accomplished something big, which she did!

Healthy for the family

Growing your own food gives you the reassurance of where it comes from and the chemicals that are used. It also gets kids excited about eating fruits and vegetables because they grew it themselves. My daughter would go out to the garden and pick the green beans and eat them raw. I was shocked!

Spending time with your kids

My favorite reason is I get to spend quality time with my kids. Those early years of wonder are perfect for gardening. It's a hobby that both mommy and my girls enjoy together.

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Teaching reading and BOB Books

When I first thought about homeschooling one of my biggest fears was teaching my child how to read. I was no expert and I had no idea where I would start. Then I came across Bob Books and it has worked wonders.

Teaching my daughter how to read has been a consistent and diligent task but not a difficult one. I'm amazed at how well Bob Books has worked for us. Bella picked it up pretty fast.


We're not those parents that always read to our kids from when they were in the womb. Yeah we picked up a cute picture baby book here and there but it's not something we did on daily basis. I found that both of my children love when I read to them. They sit quietly around as I read through the picture books we take out from the library. I realized this was a great way to get them to settle down at night, too. No kidding, right?!

Start with Phonics

The one thing that I love about Bob Books is that it starts with phonics. From the first book in the beginner readers box it starts teaching you the sounds letter by letter, slowly incorporating each new sound into every new book.

We have started to incorporate the I Can Read level 1 books and I get so tickled when I see her lips start to sound out a word she doesn't know!

Let them tell the story

Another method I used was looking at the pictures and trying to create a story first. She absolutely got a kick out of this and it really encourages her creativity and imagination.

One of the greatest rewards I have gotten is seeing how proud and accomplished my daughter feels when she is able to get through the whole book on her own.

How we used BOB Books

We started off just reading

Bob Books, Set 1: Beginning Readers

for a couple of days. I wanted her to get the concept of letters and sounds and how they create words. After the first week we started adding a new book every couple of days. Once she was able to read through a book all on her own, we would leave that book out of the rotation. Every now and then we go back and have a review of the old books.

We are just starting

Bob Books Set 2-Advancing Beginners

and she is more excited than ever!

Other activities to encourage reading

Making up their own story

Read lots of picture books to your little one

Work on sight word activities

Phonics puzzles and games

Turn it into a song!

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Working Mom And A Non-Traditional Homeschool Schedule

As a homeschooling Mom, who works full time outside of the home, it can seem difficult and even impossible to fit homeschooling in. I've heard many times where families have both parents working full time outside of the home and desperately wish they could homeschool. It's possible..... But difficult.

Non-Traditional Homeschool Schedule Options
Bella is only in Kindergarten, which doesn't require as many hours daily to devote to "school work" but we started a little early to really take the time with the basic subjects. We are doing Kindergarten year round for a year and a half. We started in December of this year before she would technically be starting Kindergarten in the fall.

We plan on doing year round with a couple small breaks for the holidays and summer. This will give us more than enough time to achieve the goals we set out for her.

Year round study
It's great if you don't have  the same hours as a traditional school would provide a student. It also is nice because you can transition to another grade level easier since the time frame of the break is minimal and the transition is pretty seamless.

Alternative Schedule
Because homeschooling offers flexibility of schedules, we are able to plan our week around our careers. We are lucky that my husband works the third shift that allows him to be home with our girls for most of the day. He gets home and goes to bed around 4:00am. He sleeps in until 11:00 am. He also has taken ownership of the homeschool responsibility and is teaching some of the subjects during the day. It's helpful if your spouse is willing to take on a subject or two and be a part of the educational experience. It makes it a whole family thing and takes some of the pressure off of Mom.

I work a condensed schedule that allows me to have Friday through Sunday off. I do most of the teaching in the evenings and on the weekends. Education never stops in our house and we have something going on every day of the week. This spread out schedule helps with the young ones and she doesn't get burnt out.

You can see from the schedule below, the area shaded in orange is when I'm away from the home working.

Team work makes the Dream work!

Here is a breakdown of the subjects and how they are taught.

Handwriting (Mon-Thurs 11:30-11:45 pm)
Math (Mon - Thurs 12:30-1:30 pm)
Electives (Mon - Thurs 2:00 - 4ish)
Gymnastics (Wed 4:30-5:30pm) Lesson outside of home, obviously not taught by Dad.
Handwriting (Fri 9:00-9:15am)
Vocabulary (Mon-Thurs 7:00-7:30 pm, Fri 9:15-9:30am)
Reading (Mon-Thurs 7:30-8:00 pm, Fri 9:30-10:00am )
Math (Fri 10:00-11:00am)
Co-OP: Friday afternoons

We use Saturday as a make-up day and tackle any electives and fun learning opportunities such as field trips, usually to the Zoo, museum, or nature walk.

So it can be possible to homeschool even if you work full time. It takes a lot of commitment, structure, and flexibility. The beauty of homeschooling is that it can be done anywhere and anytime. It's important when you do decide on your alternative schedule to watch out for a few things...

Questions to consider...

When is my child's prime time for learning?

What subjects need to be completed during prime time?

What is my child's natural schedule? My kids have a later bedtime than most but they also sleep in later, so they get the right amount of sleep for their growing bodies.

Is this schedule doable? Meaning, do you really plan on teaching vocabulary within 30 minutes of getting in the door? A plan and schedule is essential but the following through is what is going to make it work.

We plan on doing this schedule for the next 2014-2015 school year. The following summer we will pick up 1st grade. For the grades that require more "school hours" we will add on Sunday.

I hope this helps anyone on the fence with homeschooling in a non traditional schedule.If you have any additional tips on this subject please post them in the comments or feel free to email me!

Butterfly Modeling Clay Craft and Magnet

March is a hit or miss when it comes to the weather in the Midwest. This winter has been unusually cold. It just seems like everything is wet and cold, but I guess that is what spring is about here. 

Since we are just inching to get outside and beat the cold weather blues, we had a little fun with some modeling clay! We got this clay as part of a goody bag on a trip to our favorite zoo last fall. It's been hiding in the top cabinet for some time now. I was hesitant to bring it out for fear of it staining the carpet or furniture... in fact it does!

Since spring is here and we have a great unit study ahead of us, I thought we could kick it off with a fun Butterfly craft.

Despite how hard the clay was, the girls had a ton of fun playing with it and molding it. Mommy had to do some flattening and shaping for them. It was also a great opportunity to introduce symmetry to my kindergartner. Once we were done shaping and decorating, we placed our creations into a bread pan.

Place in glass or metal oven safe dish. Do not microwave. Bake at 275 degrees for 15 minutes per 1/4 inch thickness.

Allow them to cool completely before handling. They will become hard.

*We attached magnets to the back of them and now they are sitting pretty on the fridge holding up the latest masterpiece by my little ones.

Check back soon for some more spring crafts!

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New house and First Time Gardener

One of the most exciting things since we bought our home last November was to start planning our home garden! This will be my first year starting a garden and I may have taken on more than I could handle. We spent a good amount of money already on

heirloom seeds

, which I have no idea about the plants we ordered. I am a newcomer to this so bare with me. I am a master at research and finding the information I need, so I hope to share with you along the way to my first real garden.

Since I live in a

Zone 5

region, the last day for frost is the end of May. There are different types of seeds that you need to plant indoors ahead of time, this is why it's important to start your planning well in advance!

When my seeds first arrived I couldn't wait to sort them all. I sorted them into 4 groups based upon the time I would start planting. The packaging on the the seeds is a great source of information. Read them very carefully.

These are the groups I divided them into:

12-10 weeks before the last frost threat (indoors)

8-10 weeks before the last frost threat (indoors)

4-6 weeks before the last frost threat (indoors)

sow right into the outdoor garden

This weekend I planted the 12-10 weeks group.


White onion

Red onion

I used three pots for the artichokes, 6 pots for the white onion and 6 for the red onion. I still have to come up with some crafty labels, but for now I took a picture for reminder.

I used organic choice potting mix by Miracle-Gro. I wasn't sure of this mix but it stated the it works for vegetables, fruits, flowers and herbs. It's suppose to feed up to 2 months. I hope I made the right choice. For any experienced gardeners out there, what would you recommend?

Bella always wants to help in everything I do, so of course she had to do this too. I used this as an opportunity to discuss the seasons and plants. These are some of the unit study topics we will be covering this spring. Hands on learning opportunities are always great for the little ones!

I planted two to 3 seeds to a pot. This may require some thinning out later to allow the roots flourish.


The onion seeds required only a top sow or lightly covered with soil. It's important to make sure you pay close attention to all the directions on the packet, including the depth to which you will plant the seeds.

Once we were all finished digging in the dirt, we lightly watered the pots with a spray bottle and covered with plastic wrap. The plastic wrap helps keep the moisture in and creates a green house. You want to make sure your seeds and soil don't dry out at any time!

There ya go! This is the start to what I pray will be a wonderful season in the garden! I plan on planting the second group in about two weeks, which includes an exciting assortment of peppers! If you have any suggestions for a first timer, please feel free to leave them in the comment section. I can use all the help and advice I can get!

Helpful Resources

These are two books that I have been referencing through out this adventure! They are both great options for a beginner like me!

865339: 52 How-tos Every New Gardener Needs to Know Beginner
024171: The New American Homestead: Sustainable, Self-Sufficient Living for the 21st Century

The New American Homestead: Sustainable, Self-Sufficient Living for the 21st Century

By John H. Tullock / Howell Book House

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Self Doubt about Homeschooling

As we near the official time Bella would attend kindergarten I being to feel anxious and have a little self-doubt. With homeschooling, I know this is a natural feeling, one that will never go away but hopefully lessen.

August seems far away now. For an anxious person like me, it's coming all too fast. I guess my biggest fear is what if we don't really have enough time and what if she falls behind? I will still be working full time next year and the hubby will be available during the days, but I'm the one committing to this. I'm the one taking on the responsibility of actually teaching her.

These are my doubts.....

Will she learn enough?
What if it doesn't work out at the end of the year?
Will we keep up with the work?
Can I really do this?
"Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil." - Matthew 4:1
I just feel the pressure... a lot. And Yes, we have family members that are skeptical and don't agree with this choice. I feel like this is the wilderness for me. To be tested and for me to question this choice over and over again. It was easy to make this decision two years ago even after I read about all the push back I might receive. But now that we are steadily approaching that day in August in every 5 year old's life to technically begin school, the fear to follow through with this calling creeps in. I am being tempted to look the other way and turn back. I have to keep my eyes on whats ahead of me and know, that through the wilderness, it will only make this blessing more joyful and meaningful.

All of these things I have read about and thought to myself "if I prepare, I can overcome the outside forces", but the outside forces have cause a little self-doubt. I am a person that struggles with self-doubt. I have my entire life and it makes for one indecisive person.

We Got An Early Start
It's not as if we are not doing this homeschooling thing already. We started Bella's "kindergarten" year off early. Almost an entire year early. We started off with light work and began the basics of math, reading and handwriting. I knew her first year would be minimal and I wanted to make sure we had enough time to get through an entire year of curriculum. So the plan was to do part time for two years.

She absolutely loves her Saxon Math Manipulatives kit! Saxon has been a gentle introduction to the subject and she looks forward to this the most. She loves working with the pattern blocks and the counting bears.

The reading program we chose was Bob Books. It's worked really well and she is almost done with the first set of books. I recommend these books to everyone!! When I first started thinking about teaching my daughter how to read, I had no idea where to even begin. I love the incorporation of phonics with each book of the first set. I get such reassurance when I see the look on her face after she has read an entire book all by herself. It's not the look of incredible excitement. It's the sly smirk that her teeth just want to burst through into a full smile. She can get a bit cocky:)!

Stay Strong
When I think about all this self-doubt, I pull my strength knowing that this is our families calling. I know there will be naysayers and I know this wont be easy. I have felt pulled to this for the past couple years. I believe God has led me down this path and I take comfort in knowing this is what is meant to be. I have to remind myself of our goals and the mission behind this decision. Perhaps that is why everyone recommends writing it down and referring back to it in times of struggle.

"I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." - Romans 12:1-2

"For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope."- Jeremiah 29:11

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Pretend Play Italian Menu: Lady and the Tramp (free)

I got such positive feed back on the

Hawaiian play menu

I created last week that I thought it would be fun to continue on with the theme and do something Italian!

When I think of Italian and Disney movies, I picture Lady And The Tramp.

Please enjoy this free printable play menu for your pretend play activities.

Get your own free copy of Lady's Italian Bistro 



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Hawaiian Pretend Cafe Printable Play Menu

My girls love to play pretend. They have an amazing assortment of kitchen accessories and love to play restaurant. They are always using random books or notepads as menu's and I though it would be fun to create a customized menu for them!

My kids have a wonderful imagination and I'm always looking for ways to encourage that! This is one of many different accessories I've created for them. You can easily print out a couple of these and have them laminated, to make if feel like the real deal:).

You can download you own printable play menu for free! Click 

Lilo's Cafe Menu


Posted on February 26, 2014 and filed under Disney, Family, Create.

Where did January go?

You mean I can climb out from under my rock now?

I really wanted to post some cool crafty Christmas ideas on here last month but the problem was, I only really did one cool crafty Christmas thing. I also failed to post it before the big day. I figured a xmas crafty blog topic post xmas would be.... like the guy that is still running the marathon but everyone is packing up to leave.

So this year is about getting organized and setting goals...

NO.... this is not a new years resolution post because I don't make those anymore. I promised myself back in early December I would not write a goal setting post.

With this crazy arctic cold we are having here in the midwest, that seasonal depression is really setting in. I've been watching a ton of Hawaii Life on HGTV and I fantasize about moving there! I am a sandal wearing, warm weather junkie and after living in both Florida and Arizona for several years, I'm getting a little sick of the snow!

Anyone interested in going halfsys on this dream home?....ANYONE?

We did have some fun the past month, when it wasn't -17 degrees. Yes... that is an accurate reading on my care thermometer! With that temp, I probably should have had more then a half a tank of gas... wouldn't you agree?

Even though the holiday season is my favorite time of year, I'm kinda glad that this year went by so fast...Here are a couple of pictures to show you what we have been up to...

My little baby (I guess 4 is not a baby anymore) went down the sled hill all by herself. This was not my idea... In fact, when my father let her sled go as I tried chasing it down the hill. I ended up catching a patch of ice and my feet went over my head as I fell on my back. That was the painful moment I realized I needed to stop babying my kids and just let them be kids!!! And yes, that is my Dad in the background with his arms up in this pic! He's just so funny, isn't he?

Since buying our first home in November, I have been so impatient and excited to start my Spring garden. I found this little gem in my terra cota garlic jar... looks like I have been lacking the cooking department.

I attempted to do a semi-non-organized experiment, with no knowledge of planting garlic and go for it! That would be an egg carton.... I will keep you posted on the progress!

I Choose Archery!
Ever since Bella saw the movie Brave she has been begging for her very own bow and arrow. I decided to skip the cheap Disney replica of Merida's bow and really use this as an opportunity to encourage a more non-traditional sport! So we went with this one, equally affordable and much better quality!She's a pretty good shot!


Baking and Crafts
After xmas, we managed to bust open the gingerbread kit that didn't get made before the holidays. I was pretty impressed with how it turned out with two little hands helping construct.

Even though many families take the month of December off for homeschooling, we don't use a traditional schedule due to my full time job. We take the most of our free time and do school all year round. We dived into our Saxon K math and she is really enjoying the manipulative kit.

Even Ryleigh got to play along with her own version of manipulatives. She's become quite the builder.
While I have been MIA, which I have heard is a big no no for the blogging world, I have been busy hand crafting the perfect birthday party for my little sweetheart! Stay tuned.... I promise the next post will not be as far between as the last!

Our Mid Year Homeschool Curriculum

Our first purchased set of homeschool curriculum has arrived!!! It's like an early Christmas present! Technically Bella wouldn't be starting Kindergarten until next fall but I wanted to get a head start and ease into schooling at home. I don't intend to rush ahead but feel out what works for her and gently encourage her.

Here's what we got!

  • Math: Saxon Math K set and Manipulative Set I decided to get a head start on kindergarten and after looking at tons of different curriculum (I have been literally going back and forth for a year now), I decided upon Saxon. This curriculum will ease her into this subject. The Math K set has no work book material at this level, which is something I really like. I wanted to hold off on the workbook intensive materials until she got a bit older.

  • Handwriting: A Reason For Handwriting K I know I just mentioned not wanting to do workbook materials but I don't know if there is another way for me to teach handwriting. I think this handwriting book because it has the biblical emphasis that I hope to gently incorporate through out the next year.

  • Reading: Bob Books We rented the first set from the library a few times but I got tired of constantly renewing them and since they are working really well I thought having our own copy would be essential! I have also seen many printables online that go along with these books! We have also been using the I Can Read books at the My First level. This is a great way to incorporate there reading skills while learning about characters and stories.

  • Sight Words: The Best Sight Words Book Ever I liked that I can use this book for several grades, as it gives you tons of different sight words. For each word you create a tiny booklet with 6 different activities. I wanted something basic that I could expand on myself with adding more hands on activities and games.

  • Phonics: Explode the Code. I've heard many good things about Explode the Code and I was excited to try it out. I want Bella to have a solid grasp of phonics!

This is what we are going to start off with. It's the middle of the year, a pretty unconventional time to start but we are ahead of the gtame and homeschooling is all about flexibility!!! I plan on adding extra hands on activities and field trips for other subjects such as science and social studies!