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The Past 3 Weeks of Homeschool = 5+ Weeks Down!

It’s hard to believe, but we are already getting close to finishing our first six weeks. Not because I’m looking at the calendar, mind you. A friend had to remind me of that!

The last few weeks since I share our first two weeks of homeschool update – well, we’ve been busy! In addition to our regular homeschool time, starting up with both of our co-ops, and swim team practice most weeknights, we also took a trip to Florida for the Family Forward event at Universal Studios.

Needless to say, there is a lot to share with you all, so I’ll try to highlight all the best stuff from the last (almost) four weeks. I’ve been trying to post on Instagram as often as I can, but I have a love/hate relationship with having my phone in the schoolroom. Trying NOT to get sucked in and distracted by different apps can be so very hard, but it is also fun to share what is happening as it happens.

LOTS of Family Time in Florida

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We were at Universal  from Thursday through Monday and had an absolute blast. It was partly a conference, but the kids were so excited because they were able to be with me the entire time. Workshops were geared toward the kids, we enjoyed some special perks (like a nighttime visit to Hogsmeade with a dessert smorgasboard), a special VIP tour, and we rode practically every roller coaster at both parks (again and again). I’ll admit I have a hard time with the 3D rides though. Our favorite ride was definitely the Hulk, and we spent more time in Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade than anywhere else – they were both absolutely amazing. Between butterbeer (a cream soda and butterscotch flavored drink) and the candy shops, we were on a sugar high much of the weekend!

A highlight was watching the kids jump right in and make NEW friends quickly. We spent our last day at the park with two other families – the adults chatting while the kids ran around and rode their favorite rides. Just wonderful.

Extracting DNA

Universal Family Forward 2015-65

Rick and Kaleb had fun working on a DNA science project while we were in Florida as well. Kaleb helped separate a strawberry’s DNA. It was funny because the actual DNA clump looked a whole lot like something that might come out of your nose.

Another Electronic Project



Finished the switch panel from @projecteeme – here’s a quick peek at how it works. Depending on which number is flipped on the switch panel, Zachary can make different numbers light up. This project used the base from our Project Genius activity last month. #projecteeme #Homeschool #hsscience #science

Posted by Homeschool Creations on Tuesday, 15 September 2015


Zachary has been having a BLAST building with EEME. His most recent project was a switch panel (we’ll be sharing more on it next week), but above is  a quick peek at what he did.

Dictionary Skill Learning

Growing with grammar learning how to use a dictionary {%{% Homeschool Creations

One of the things Kaleb has been working on during his grammar time is finding things in the dictionary, either by saying if a word will be on a page between two key words, or looking up the correct spelling of a word when given three choices. I have to say it’s nice using a good old-fashioned dictionary.

Learning How the Earth Rotates

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During our science time, we’ve been talking about the rotation of the earth. We pulled out our desk lamp and the globe to show how day and night work based on the earth’s rotation. Spinning it repeatedly is just a bonus.

Group Subjects…Finally

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We waited a few weeks and eased into our group subjects last. History and Bible were the last two that were added in. It’s a little strange not having Laurianna at the table with us this year though (sniff). While we work together on our group subjects (vocabulary, history, and Bible), she is working on her own schoolwork.

History Galore

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This year we are combining two programs together (Mystery of History 1 and Story of the World 1) using Biblioplan Ancients Family Guide. Several of you have asked how we are doing that – and I promise I will share soon! We did this some last year and are really enjoying this approach so far. We love both programs and each offers a different style, so it makes it more fun.

Hands-on History

Notgrass world history project {%{% Homeschool Creations

Laurianna is 100% in love with Exploring World History from Notgrass. The hands-on projects are something she is having so much fun with (and she is learning a lot history-wise as well). Above she is working on a project from unit 5 and painting a picture of how the Israelites felt after receiving the Law. She chose to make the Hebrew word for ‘joy’ and is making her paper look like parchment.

Chalk Pastels

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Kaleb is getting back into his art projects now too with Home Art Studio. The walls of our classroom are needing some color as well! His project prompted the rest of us to work on some art as well – I love that!

A Messy Desk is the Sign of…


Typically my computer stays out of the classroom, but lately there have been a few things that needed to be transferred to Kindles for the girls or re-printed because I managed to miss something. But the above was enough to about drive me crazy. A messy desk makes me just want to stop everything and fix it and pushes me to distraction.

Mind you, after taking a picture, I had to take five minutes and just clean it off.

A Little Spielgaben Fun

Playing with Spielgaben {%{% Homeschool Creations

Our Spielgaben set is typically used by Kaleb for hands on math or to work on some fun projects, but McKenna is one that I find often like this – designing something fun with the manipulatives. Just makes me smile. Her final creation was so detailed!

Enjoying Co-op

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We are back in the swing of co-op now and our kids (especially McKenna and Zachary) are so excited about their two classes. This year we carved out space for a middle school group and they are working on Mad Scientists Club and a judicial class. Both have been a blast so far.


how much weight can egg shells hold experiment {%{% Homeschool Creations

To go along with the story, The Big Egg, they read this week from Mad Scientists’ Club, the kids tried some fun experiments with eggs. Using just half shells, they put them down to see how much weight four half shells would support.

how many books can egg shell support {%{% Homeschool Creations

The managed to get three books on, but when they added the hefty Mad Scientists’ Club book, the cracking started. We have a few more experiments going on at home too that we’ll have to share with you all – we’re just having too much fun trying different things.

Fun with Life of Fred Readers

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Earlier this week I shared our thoughts on the Life of Fred beginning readers that Kaleb has been using along with his reading program. If you haven’t seen the post, don’t miss it (there’s a giveaway and an additional 10% off coupon!!). Kaleb is a hesitant reader, but every day he pulls out several of these to read to me. And the laughter begins. It has been so wonderful hearing his giggles and to see the LIFE being infused into this little boy all due to the pages of a few readers. (The readers are so silly and fun!!)

That’s the abbreviated version of the last four weeks. How is your homeschool time going?

Our family attended Family Forward at a discounted rate as a part of a family social media conference. All opinions expressed in this post are solely mine. I was not compensated for my time or post.

Life of Fred Beginning Readers Review

Life of Fred beginning readers set 1 - simple, fun, and engaging readers for children

A four year old named Fred has been a long-time friend in our house. Fred typically visits when it’s math time, but the last few weeks he has also been a part of our reading time with our youngest.

Time and again I’ve mentioned that our boys are very cautious readers. That’s the nice way of saying our girls started reading just.like.that and our boys, using the same techniques and such, get frustrated, think they can’t read, fuss, cry, or all of the above when it comes to reading time. It’s been trying to say the least.

Don’t get me wrong, they both made progress and our reading program really is fabulous and works, but last year it was a million loud cheers when Zachary finally decided to sit down and really read a book all by himself. And he hasn’t stopped since. Some kids just aren’t wired the same. (There’s a shocking newsflash, eh?)

Kaleb is pushing along the same path as his brother. Despite encouragement and the fact that he can read, there are days when it is a struggle. A huge struggle. We sit down and cuddle up, work on a lesson, and again starts the cycle. We’ll stop when needed and continue with encouragement, but it’s just hard.

The Life of Fred math books are a huge hit in our house and something we have enjoyed for years. When Educents asked if I would be willing to take a look at the Life of Fred Eden beginning readers…well, it wasn’t a very difficult choice. I’ll admit that even I was a bit curious about what exactly was inside the pages of these books. (Incidentally, they have some great deals on Life of Fred products right now!)

Here’s a peek at one of our favorites that I shared on Facebook (you can also watch it via YouTube).


We have been LOVING the Life of Fred Beginning Readers we received from Educents earlier this month. Here is a quick peek inside and a little more on what we are loving. Stay tuned for a blog post today with more (and a giveaway!)! (Sponsor)

Posted by Homeschool Creations on Monday, 28 September 2015


More About the Life of Fred Beginning Readers

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The Life of Fred beginning readers set 1 contains the following six books: Blue, Bus, Lake, Potato Dreams, Ducks, and Rain. Each of the books is focused on a specific color (you’ll notice the cover titles are all done in the color they feature), so children learn eighteen color words when working through the books in the three different sets. (See sample pages here.)

The books all follow Fred, a four year old genius boy who has a doll named Kingie. Together they go on adventures. In this series, you follow Fred and Kingie as they take the bus to Fall River Lake, learn about different colors (blue, orange, red, brown, pink, and gray), meet ducks, talk about emotions, learn how to cook potatoes, and so much more random silliness.

Each hardcover book features a combination of real pictures and images along with drawings of Fred and Kingie, other creatures, and cartoons. They are completely non-sensical stories that children l.o.v.e. to no end. In short, the stories are simple and engaging. Silly, yes, but in such an amazingly fun way.

Targeted toward children ages 4 and up.


Our Thoughts on the Life of Fred Beginning Readers

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We have the first six readers (Eden set 1), but Kaleb has been toting around his reader pile for the last two weeks. Every day he pulls out two or three of them and we read and re-read the stories together. And it isn’t just Kaleb who has been engaged with the books! As we have curled up and the laughter begins bubbling from him, the other three kids are soon crowding around to see what is happening with Fred and Kingie. (Yes, they all love Fred – even the high schooler.)

Where this boy normally reads with ZERO voice inflection (i.e. questions don’t sound like questions and he has completely flat tone overall), he is giggling, reading with different voices, speech rate patterns, and truly engaging with the stories. It has been so amazing and fun to watch the process.

life of fred eden readers

These silly, non-sensical stories are bringing this little boy to life. Yes, he still gets a little frustrated here and there reading, but he tries so hard. We had intended to videotape him reading a story, but he was extremely nervous and after five tries – well, we decided that we’d just tell you that he thinks Fred is very funny. Very funny. Kingie even more so (especially when you see what Kingie packs to take to the lake). We’ve had more conversations about how Kingie could have even fit a pool table into his bag, never mind lifted it.

We laugh at the drawings (Fred does have a square head after all). We laugh especially hard at Kingie’s paintings – because they are always amazing and completely ridiculous. Did I mention these books are funny?

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Text on each page is fairly minimal in the six books we have, and the books aren’t overwhelming, wonderful for hesitant readers. Keep in mind this is not a full reading program (no teacher’s guide or specific introduction of blends/words in any order), but readers for children to practice the skills they have already learned and help them further enjoy the reading process. They may likely pick up several new words and some added confidence in the as they go through the stories too.

While initially I wasn’t sure what to think of the books, I did know how much our kids have loved Life of Fred for math, and these readers are no different. They are books I know we will go back to over and over again. Yes, they are beginning readers, but so often that confidence boost and added humor are needed to bring life to our reading!

Save an extra 10% TODAY ONLY!!

Currently Educents is offering discounted bundles for purchase. You can purchase the Life of Fred readers directly from their site AND save an extra 10% off with the coupon code HSC10. It’s a special code JUST for my readers, so be sure to use it!!

The LIFE OF FRED SALE ENDS October 18th, so don’t miss it!

Be sure to browse the rest of their affordable deals as well!

A Bonus Giveaway!!


Educents has also offered one of my readers the Life of Fred Beginning Readers Set 1! To enter the giveaway, follow the directions in the Rafflecopter widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

LIfe of Fred beginning readers - simple, fun, and engaging for children

The First Two Weeks of Homeschool 2015

While we aren’t in full school mode (a.k.a. we are weaning into a few subjects as the weeks progress), the kids were literally ready to go and in the schoolroom BEFORE me on the first day of school. They were ready to jump in and go from day one.

Kids Back to Homeschool pics 2015

And these four – well, they can drive me batty some days, but seeing these pictures literally made me cry. They are growing up too fast!! In just a few short years Laurianna will be ready for college. COLLEGE!!! What in the world??! We took these pictures just a bit before school started (nope, didn’t take first day of school pictures – dropped the ball on that too!), but I absolutely adore the pictures above and am happy to consider these their school pictures for the year.

I’ll confess. I dropped the ball and forgot to make our traditional back to school breakfast of funnel cakes. The kids still haven’t mentioned it, so maybe I can have a little grace on myself and make them as a surprise soon. (SHHH!)

That said…here’s a look at what we’ve been up to the first two weeks of our homeschool time.

Learning through Labs and Science

Christian Kids Explore Chemistry-1

Zachary is working on a separate science program this year, Christian Kids Explore Chemistry. So far it has been a great fit for him and he is enjoying the ‘lab’ part of each week. His first lab required quite a bit of writing (not his favorite thing to do) but was a pretty eye-opening look at the different ingredients in products and how many we recognize.

First 2 weeks of homeschool August 2015-36

The little boy and I are working on science all alone this year. He is rather sad that Zachary isn’t doing it along with us, but he is also excited to have some ‘mom time’ and learn more about the solar system with Nancy Larson Science 3.

Kaleb has jumped right in completely subjects, asking to do more, and was the one who couldn’t figure out WHY IN THE WORLD we weren’t doing more the very first day of school. His desire to do school is the best part of the year so far for me – because typically he is the more whiney of the bunch and doesn’t want to work on everything.

Learning Algebra…

First 2 weeks of homeschool August 2015-6

McKenna was more than a little worried about starting pre Algebra this year, so it has been wonderful to hear how much she is enjoying it (and asking to do extra lessons). We ended up finding a used version of Teaching Textbooks Pre-Algebra version 2.0 so it will automatically grade for her (and yay, I was able to sell my old version!).

She has several new programs this year and it’s been a mess trying to get some things transferred from one laptop to the other, but she’s been a great sport in working along with me as we figure out the curve in her new subjects too.

A Little History…


We made a last minute history switch for Laurianna to Exploring World History from Notgrass. It was exactly what I had been looking for, but the program didn’t release until mid-summer. SO glad that we made this switch! We’ll be sharing more throughout the year, but it has been a great mix of hands-on projects and textbook work for her and she is loving it!


Her first project was creating a collage of items/inventions that were specific to the country she lives in, so she made a collage shaped like the US and had a blast digging through old magazines for pictures to use. It was also very interesting to find things she thought originated in the States and where they actually were from.  Week two she had fun creating her own dough and hieroglyphics.

In case you are wondering about the stand that is propping up her book, check out this post for 3 Tools for Your Homeschool Year (and we are loving!).

A Little Music…

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One thing I am not is a guitarist – but the kids all are learning in bits and pieces from their dad. Laurianna pretty much taught herself to play with some instruction from Rick last year and is doing amazing, but that has brought out the other three in full force. Time to get a guitar that all the kids can use.

First 2 weeks of homeschool August 2015-7

There may also be a little puppy that is rather happy to sit at our feet all day and not have us running back and forth all the time. If only we can keep her out of the pencils!

From Mom’s Perspective

Overall the first two weeks have gone very well. Personally I feel more unprepared this year than in years past. All the curriculum is here and overall plans are in place, but things seem disjointed with Laurianna working on more independently and the rest of us trying to find a new groove as we settle into a different routine. There are still a few things I need to focus on getting lined up because I am teaching two classes this year for our high school co-op…so a bit more to think about and plan for on that end.

We are working with several new-to-us pieces of curriculum this year and my patience level with myself is fairly low. I want it all figured out yesterday (sigh). Together we’ll work through the kinks, but really are loving all we are using so far.

One of my main goals this year is to focus on the highlights and not get bogged down by the little stuff – because that is so very easy to do. There are many moments in the day that are frustrating – especially when I don’t ‘measure up’ to my own expectations. But then there is that little glimmer of hope and encouragement that reminds you of the WHY behind your efforts. Sometimes those moments seem so far and in between, but they make it incredibly worth it as both a teacher and a mom.

A little reminder for today and sharing a highlight from our week. Crazy children in the background are just and added bonus for you. You're welcome (and know that this was the 5th video because the previous ones resulted in the boys wrestling in the background, even wackier faces than what you see in this one, and more insanity). This is my life, people. Every single day. (But I do love it).

Posted by Homeschool Creations on Friday, 28 August 2015

Last week I shared a quick video clip on Facebook (with both boys being goofs in the background). Mind you, it was the FIFTH ‘take’ on the video because the boys were trying to be as goofy as they could possibly be.  It’s unedited and silly, but hopefully it will encourage you all a little bit as well.

Setting a Goal to Write Notes…


Each week I’ve also set a goal to write an encouraging note to the kids as well. I found these super cute encouragement notes from one of my friends Mary Dean Draws (she hand draws these and they are great!!), and I’ve been printing them off and putting one on each kiddo’s desk every Friday highlighting something I am proud of them for during that week. (Yes, there have only been two so far, but I printed off a stack to remind myself!).

That’s a quick overview of our first two weeks – what highlight can you share from your school time with us? Leave a comment and let’s encourage each other!

weekly wrap up

Linking up this week with Weekly Wrap-up!



3rd grade homeschool curriculum choices from Homeschool Creations

3rd Grade Homeschool Curriculum Choices

3rd grade homeschool curriculum choices from Homeschool Creations

Kaleb is one of our most dedicated learners (i.e. not one to complain about his work other than possibly reading). He is typically working on school work before it’s even time to start the day and it isn’t uncommon to find out that he’s finished his math and handwriting – always a nice start to the day! He is also the boy that wants to do as much as he can 1:1 with me, so this year we are pushing him a little bit in working on math via the computer (last year we used Teaching Textbooks, but I did all the lectures with him because he said the computer was too hard – it wasn’t, he just wanted to be with me more).

On the other hand – he is my baby and I want to enjoy every last minute of this 1:1 time that we have together (shhhh – don’t tell him).

3rd Grade Homeschool Curriculum Choices

Here’s a look at the overall plan for our 3rd grade year…

Kaleb will be going solo with me this year on Nancy Larson Science. The FIRST day of school he was already asking to do that and art (we phase in our subjects, so we are waiting until this week). He is also watching Zachary create from afar, so he’ll have a chance soon to work with Little Bits as a ‘bonus time’ at the end of each day for him for some STEM work.

Overall, he has been so excited to start this school year – and I honestly am too with him!

Co-op Learning

Kaleb is still in the younger age group of one of our co-ops and this year they will have two classes together: Spanish and Five in a Row. We have loved the books from Five in a Row and each week we meet will focus on one book and work on several go-along activities for the story.

Curriculum in Year’s Past

In case you are interested in seeing the curriculum that brought us to this point, here’s a peek at what we’ve used with Kaleb the past few years:

See What the Other Kids Are Up To…


3rd grade homeschool curriculum choices from Homeschool Creations

Take a peek at our 5th grade, 7th grade, and  9th grade curriculum choices for the year as well! Click on one of the images above to look over their curriculum piles.

Want to see how the year ended

3rd grade homeschool year in review

Story Detective Printable – Identifying Parts of a Story

Story Detective printables for learning the parts of a story


This year we are using WriteShop Primary C as a part of Kaleb’s 3rd grade curriculum. Right now we are learning about the parts of a story: the who, what, where, when, why, and story details.

Because I didn’t want to take 20 minutes to cut out and create the suggested magnifying glasses (heaven forbid I should pull out the construction paper and scissors – every one of them would be a different shape and that would bother me), I spent an hour creating the Story Detective printables instead. (In my defense, there are more than magnifying glasses in the pack.)

Story Detective Printables

Story detective worksheets at a glance

Inside the Story Detective printable set you will find:

  • Story Part magnifying glasses: who, what, where, when, why/how, and story details
  • Story detective worksheet: use this to go along with stories your child creates or reads
  • Take-along cards: quick notecards to hang up or use as a reference
  • Story sheets: write and illustrate your own story

Download button

Draw and Journal Pages

Draw and Journal Pages

If you like the story sheets that are in the pack you can find additional Draw and Journal pages here.

Essay Outline For Older Children

Hamburger essay outline for literature

If you have older children that are at the essay stage of writing, download a free copy of the Hamburger Essay Outline to help organize the writing process.