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The First Two Weeks of Homeschool (or when the computer and pencil sharpener decided to stop working)

Grand plans, people. You know what they say about those? Yes. Well, then. Let’s sum up the first day, shall we? 

A computer went kaputz (battery=dead, but under warranty, so shipped back to manufacturer). That in turn meant we couldn’t use the computer for math, which set one child off in a panic. (FULL BLOWN, mind you). Said child may also have a wee bit of a love for very well-sharpened pencils, so when the pencil sharpener also decided to STOP WORKING, the world may have almost come to an end. 

Drama, anyone? Anyone? 

I promise, I was about ready to go back to bed within the first hour. Overall, the bulk of the day (and kids) ended up cooperating, but it definitely wasn’t the start I envisioned. And we never got around to first day of school pictures. 

Second Day of School

Instead, we settled for the second day of school pictures. Because really? The kids hadn’t changed that much in 24 hours (unless you count cooperation), so we took pictures and called it good. And while Zachary appears taller than his oldest sister, she vehemently disagrees and says she was slouching. He still has several inches to go before he can call it even.

We all managed to survive almost two weeks without the before mentioned computer (and one child is happily sharpening all the pencils in the schoolroom ad naseum now that the most amazing pencil sharpener showed up in our house just in the nick of time). As much as I hate to admit it, we have become very connected to our laptops. From math to writing (for the olders), and a few textbooks online, it was a bit of a juggling act to get it all balanced. Now that the one is back, there may be an issue with the much older laptop coming unhinged.  I do believe I may give up. 

First Week of School-6

Did I mention too that we are suckers for butterflies in our house? It doesn’t matter how many times I see it, I’m still fascinated and could watch them for hours. The kids took a bike ride one afternoon and five minutes later returned with four caterpillars for us to watch. Two of them are already in the chrysalis and the other two are munching away, growing like crazy. The entire process just boggles my mind and is completely amazing.

Other than that, here’s a quick sum-up of our first two weeks by kiddos…

Kaleb – 4th Grade


We’ve started the year off hitting reading hard. Kaleb is using All About Reading Level 3 and we are working at the pace of one lesson every two days.  At this point we are through four full lessons and while it’s still slow going most days, every day is a little more progress. 


When Laurianna is working on chemistry, the boys have a chance to do some fun go-along history projects with two of our friends (don’t tell the other mom, but I think I’m getting the better end of this deal). Both of our families are working through the same history lessons together and right now we are learning about Native Americans. This week the kids all work on petrooglyphs – and the results were hilarious. The kids tried to guess what the others had ‘written’ using pictures. 


Although we don’t have a formal science curriculum this year, we have been using an engineering kit from Insight to Learning and Kaleb is loving it. The first project was to build an 18″ parking garage that could house four cars – which was going along well until a certain mother accidentally knocked down a 16″ structure and it needed to be rebuilt. Oops.

First Week of School-7

Building a house with a slanted roof was another project in the Insight to Learning kit, and Kaleb had a BLAST with this one. That boy is particular to the core, so it took him quite a bit of time to complete it, but it was well worth the time. 

View our 4th grade curriculum choices HERE. 

Zachary – 6th Grade


On the eighth day, the computer was returned and all of the children and the mother did a happy dance. Math was back on track and everyone was happy to stop using the go-along textbooks. We are a rather happy Teaching Textbooks family. :) And headphones. Thank the Lord for headphones that help keep distracted children on task. 

First Week of School-5

A new project from EEME arrived in our home recently too – Q the Robot! Zachary has been looking forward to another electronics project and jumped right in to start on it. We’ll be posting a full review on it soon and sharing our thoughts. 


Two of our newer subjects for Zachary, Who is God and Writers in Residence, are keeping the boy rather busy. His love for reading doesn’t help with the workload, but he is enjoying both of the programs. We are still working on pacing and focus (someone is a bit distractible), but otherwise sixth grade is looking good on the boy.  

First Week of School-2

Science is definitely Zachary’s favorite area of study. Between building projects or running experiments, he manages to find the time to work on them. Always. He is loving the two lessons and one lab layout of Rainbow Science and spent time setting up several tests to measure distance traveled from acceleration. 

View our 6th grade curriculum HERE

McKenna – 8th Grade

First Week of School-3

Figuring out how to balance the new workload and classes has been a bit of a challenge for McKenna. She is trying to find her groove for the classes and not having a laptop made it a bit difficult, especially because she had four papers due for literature class the first 2 weeks. (Yeah. That was fun. I only have myself to blame for that one.)

Science and Latin are so far proving to be her two favorite classes, although geography is right up there as well. She has some basic experiments to run at home, but has also been working on building a race car and a glider for her science class. The hands on part of it is something she loves MUCH!


The two of us sit down together once a week to go over her different subjects and plug in the information from her student planner (she l.o.v.e.s. the new design) into my main planner. This gives us a chance to also go over any questions she might have about the upcoming week and make sure she is staying on target with her lessons.  

View our 8th grade homeschool curriculum HERE. 

Laurianna – 10th Grade

Laurianna is trying something a little different this year with her schedule (and trying to convince McKenna to do the same. Rather than working on every subject every day and switching gears constantly, she has blocked out her schedule so she works on some classes two days a week and the rest the other two. That gives her a day to finish up anything not completed and otherwise have a little breather. With two afternoons of co-op classes, her week is fairly full and swim season starts this week as well, so evenings are going to be packed as well.  


This year will be interesting to see where Laurianna’s interests truly are. She still has some time before figuring out a college path and major, but is contemplating a few different options, including nursing. Biology is under her belt, and this year we are moving on to chemistry, so it will be fun to see how it develops as we go along. 


No matter what, art is still one of her favorite areas to spend time. Adding this class as an elective this year was a great choice and gives her some down time while doing something she adores (and can receive credit for). So far she has three sketches to put in her portfolio for the year – and I love the above one she worked on this past week (even if it makes me want to get my eyebrows done…grins). 

View our 10th grade homeschool curriculum choices HERE


That’s a quick peek at the first two weeks of our school time – how are things going in your house? 


Our Homeschool Curriculum Choices…

Click any of the images below to see our homeschool picks for the current school year. You’ll also find links to past year’s choices in each post. 

4th grade homeschool curriculum choices - from Homeschool Creations 6th grade homeschool curriculum choices 2016 from Homeschool Creations 8th grade homeschool curriculum choices 2016 10th grade homeschool curriculum choices from Homeschool Creations 2016

Reading List for 6th Grade

 6th grade reading list - assigned literature for the school year

This year Zachary and I will be sitting down together quite a bit to review his reading and I am very much looking forward to that! In years past with our girls, we typically wait until we are finished with the book, but this boy requires a little more…umm…hands-on to make sure he is staying on target with his reading. Much of the time together will be spent talking about the various books and discussing the story lines in-depth.

In addition to his assigned reading list, we are trying to push him outside his comfort zone a little and have him choose a book he wants to read for fun. While our girls were both voracious readers and this wasn’t hard with them, it has been more of a struggle with him. That’s not to say he isn’t getting there, but there are so many other exciting things in the life of a sixth grade boy.

A Peek at the Assigned Reading List

6th reading list 2016

Several of the books on this list are based on the Ready Readers 2 guide that we are using this year for literature and reading, or the alternate suggestions. A few of the books also tie in with the historical period we are studying as well. During the week we are using Ready Readers to look at our current book and take a comprehensive look at the conflict, plot, setting, characters, theme, literary devices and author of the stories. The guide provides us with a fabulous set of questions (and answers) to get us started – and it has already been great! 

Additional Reading

Along with the above books, I’ve pulled together some additional books using the  Reading Roadmaps guide (also put out by Center for Lit). Overall, I’m really appreciating the book suggestions it offers for grades K – 12. Although it doesn’t offer the same in-depth questions and comprehension as Ready Readers 2, it does provide some basic information for discussion (theme, plot, and conflict) for all of the recommended stories.

We’ll be filling out a book report form, story chart, or creating a simple literature summary for the below books (including plot, characters, setting, theme/conflict, and one literary device used in the story). Overall, the goal to have Zachary learn more about various aspects of literature and assuring that he has a firm grasp on key literature terms, literary devices, and knows how to look for those things in his reading.

What books are on your kid’s reading list for this year?


Additional Reading Lists

American Literature high school reading list 2016_edited-1

8th reading list 2016

Our 6th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Choices

6th grade homeschool curriculum choices 2016 from Homeschool Creations

This year we have some familiar programs coming back to the desk and have one new (fresh off the presses) program as well. Zachary’s going to have a little more responsibility on his plate. Last year was stretching for him, and when I asked him what he wanted most this year, the answer was focus. (I’ll amen that.)

We had great intentions of geography last year, so this year we are definitely targeting that area together with his younger brother. Friends of ours are also studying US History, as well as Laurianna our 10th grader, and our intent in history is to work on a similar cycle with the boys so we can tie in some field trips with another family. Granted, we don’t really need to have every field trip go-along with with the era of history we are studying, but it does make it more fun! 

Zachary is moving away from our workbox system this year as well and trying to manage his own paperwork. It’s a step back for me and a more hands-off approach, but it’s something we both felt he needed – taking control of his ‘stuff’ so we could let go of some of the mental battle with each other. I don’t know if that makes complete sense, but suffice it to say, it’s a battleground some days and we will see how it goes. 

6th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Choices

Here’s a look at the overall plan for our 6th grade year…

While Zachary isn’t necessarily thrilled at all the curriculum at his disposal (grins), he is looking forward to his new science program – and I’m looking forward to see how he likes Writers in Residence this year. History is also shaping up to be fun since our friends are doing it alongside us, meaning the boys will have projects to work on together as well. 

The ‘extra’ incentive of EEME is also something motivating for Zachary. While it technically is science, he works on his projects from them when he is done with his day-to-day subjects. He likes to keep the most recent box on his desk to remind him of what is coming! 

FullSizeRender 8

One thing Zachary asked me to do this year – make him his own mini-planner of sorts. I printed off about 10 copies (front/back) of the daily assignment sheet I made for him last year, had it spiral bound for about $3, and he is using that to track his school work. He wasn’t quite ready for a full student planner yet like his sisters, and this is enough to help keep him accountable and make sure he is getting the things finished he needs to. It’s so tiny and cute – perfect for him. :)

Co-op Learning

Art isn’t necessarily Zachary’s favorite subject, so having it as part of co-op this year and being able to work on projects with friends may help sweeten the pot for him. Twice a month he will be getting together with a small group of middle schoolers to work on the following classes. 

  • Mad Scientists Club – kids will be reading short stories from this book and also working on go-along experiments. Last year they also completed a science fair project – FUN! 
  • Art – learning about a different artist and art technique each week/month. We’re still figuring out the best method of attack for this one. 

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 McKenna the past few years:

If you are new to homeschooling and aren’t sure where to begin in choosing homeschool curriculum, please don’t let this post overwhelm you! Check out the entire Homeschool Basics series for answers to more frequently asked homeschool questions.

See What the Other Kids Are Up To…

Click any of the images below to see our homeschool picks for the current school year. You’ll also find links to past years choices in each post. 

4th grade homeschool curriculum choices - from Homeschool Creations 6th grade homeschool curriculum choices 2016 from Homeschool Creations 8th grade homeschool curriculum choices 2016 10th grade homeschool curriculum choices from Homeschool Creations 2016

Build an Alarm – Electronics for Kids

build an alarm - electronics project for kids

Apparently Zachary has something special that needs protecting from his dangerous siblings or the animals roaming in our woods. He had the option of creating a door alarm, but decided instead that his cash box needed more protection. Using our most recent EEME kit, Project Tentacle, Zachary worked to build an alarm using electronics.

Over the past six months, Zachary has learned so much about bread boards, resistors, capacitors, and how to get his wires crossed (or not). It has been a fabulous learning time for him and something he has soaked up and absolutely loved.


While we made a suggestion to not label his cash box, the alarm he built using the lessons from EEME were clearly a better option (grins). The alarm system using Project Tentacles was definitely a more creative option for his cash protection, and again Zachary learned more about circuits and different components, including NPN transistors – this was fun for me to learn as well, and you’ll hear more about it in the video clip below.

Building an Alarm – The Process

Contents for building EEME Project Tentacle

Because we have worked on several other projects from EEME, we had a few of the key components already on hand: a power supply and a breadboard. Otherwise, we received the following items in our kit:

  • buzzer
  • 2 – 6+” long white wires
  • 2 – 2” yellow wires
  • 1 – 1” blue wire
  • 2 resistors: orange band
  • 1 resistor: blue/green band
  • 2 3-prong transistors

I’ll be honest and tell you, the name of the project scared me a little bit at first! Fortunately, it wasn’t anything that involved lots of legs and crawled around the house – although the finished project did have some long wires that were all over the place.


Zachary has a much better understanding of circuitry now that he has completed three projects with EEME, so it didn’t take him as long to complete this project overall other than figuring out the best way to ‘rig’ his cash box with an alarm and make it work every time the box was opened (a little duct tape goes a long way).

A Peek at How the Alarm Works


Zachary did a great job explaining the different components and how his alarm worked (ignore that I called the base a breadbox, please? I do know better than that!). Feed readers can click here to watch the video.


review questions

One thing I really appreciate about the projects from EEME is the constant review between the video clips. Some are review from the lesson while others are overall electronic questions based on what they have learned throughout.

You can see the three other projects we’ve worked on here:


A Little More About EEME

EEME makes hands-on projects and provides FREE online lessons to teach kids electronics, fostering their curiosity for how things work and prepping them for the STEM opportunities of tomorrow.

Each project kit is paired with online curricula to not only show your family how to assemble the kit, but more importantly, teach them how it works.

They also have FREE interactive online lessons to teach your family the fundamentals of electronics. Sign up for FREE to access EEME’s online lessons.

Project Tentacles is one of the projects in the Builder Basic 6 Project Set and also the third project in EEME’s monthly subscription program. Zachary has thoroughly enjoyed all he has worked on (especially Project Amp) – a HUGE thumbs up from our family!

 build an alarm - electronics for kids with EEME Project Tentacles

Perfect for ages 7+

Time Required: 1-2 hours

Parental involvement: varies based on child

EEME Project Amp Review

Project Amp from EEME - build a working amplifier and learn how it works  Homeschool Creations copy

One of the best motivators for our 11 year old to get his schoolwork done the last few weeks has been the promise of working on his latest EEME assignment: Project Amp. He is a boy who loves listening music, learning about electronics, and enjoys building, so this project was PERFECT for him. 

We’ve worked on several smaller projects from EEME in the last few months, and Zachary honestly cannot get enough of them. The hands-on aspect and opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look at how electronics really work (and understand the process) has been worth every moment spent on the projects.  Both he and I have learned so much about

When EEME released a larger electronic project and asked if we would be willing to try it out, the answer was a resounding yes – especially when Zachary found out he would have a full-sized speaker amplifier that he could hook his iPod shuffle up to and play his favorite music nice and loud! We absolutely love

What is Project Amp?

Project Amp-51

Project Amp would be a perfect gift for children 10 and up! When fully completed, your child can plug their mp3 or iDevice into the amp and play his favorite music. It is a full speaker amplifier system that is 12.5" x 6.5" x 6.5" – and it can be LOUD if certain children decide they would like it to be (don’t worry moms, there is a volume control knob!).

Project Amp-8

Everything your child needs to build the amp is included in the box – from wire strippers down to every last nut, bolt, and wire needed from start to finish. The lessons are all online video-based, so your child will need to have access to internet to follow along with the lessons.

There are 55 short lessons to watch on the EEME website in which your child will work through the building process for the amp and learn about:

  • amplifiers
  • how sound waves work
  • direct current vs. alternating current
  • capacitors as sound filters

The build time for this project is between 4-6 hours, depending on your child’s ability and focus. Recommended for children ages 10+.

Our Thoughts on Building Project Amp

Project Amp-47

Zachary is completely thrilled with his finished amp. It has been continuously playing music (perhaps loudly) since its completion and has been proudly toted around to show his friends what he made. For real – the above picture made us laugh out loud because it was his real reaction when he had everything hooked up and was ready to put the rear panel onto the back of the amplifier. He had tested it at various stages during the building process, but hearing and seeing it all at the same time was so much more fun!

Project Amp-7

The overall building time and process on this project was a little more intense than past projects we’ve worked on for EEME, partly because it is a larger project, and partly because there were a few times that Zachary had to stop, re-watch a video lesson, check and re-check his work, and then move on when he figured it out.  Overall for us the build time was closer to the 6 hour timeframe, mainly because he would think he knew what to do and wouldn’t listen to the lesson closely enough – and do it incorrectly.

Project Amp-19

As with previous projects, the step-by-step videos and instructions were very clear and understandable, each one was short enough (and could be paused to work on the step), and components were explained in great detail so Zachary was learning the how and why the amplifier works.

Project Amp-32

Along the way, Zachary had different opportunities to test out the amplifier and see how it worked, as well as understand the different concepts presented, such as how the sound waves work through the cones of the speakers.


Zachary wanted to share a little bit more about the amp with you all as well and give you a peek inside the amplifier to see how it is all put together. The video doesn’t give an accurate depiction of the sound the amplifier truly puts out – the sound is much better than what you hear.

This is definitely a completed project we will be using and enjoying for years to come – and one I would recommend considering for a birthday or Christmas gift. It is one that would be not only used, but the recipient would enjoy the time learning and creating their own working amp!

Save 25% on Project Amp from EEME

Save 25 on Project Amp from EEME

For a limited time, EEME is offering a 25% discount along with FREE shipping toward Project Amp to my readers. All you need to do is follow this link.

Learn More About EEME

We’ve worked on several other projects from EEME. If you’re interested in learning more about their monthly subscription program, be sure to check out the below posts for more information:

The projects from EEME are perfect for 7 to 12 year olds ready to learn about real electronic components – no experience required!

Student Planner PDF Download – Now Available!

Student Planner full year || Homeschool Creations

I am SO excited to share two printable student planners with you all today! Half-sized planners weren’t cutting it for our girls, so we worked together to create a larger planner for each of them. 

McKenna’s words after seeing it completely bound and put together were, “Mom, it doesn’t even look like you made it! No offense!” She is so happy with it! It is full of color, plenty of space, and undated, so we can print off a new copy each year and bind it however we please. We initially thought about putting it in a 1/2” binder, but ended up deciding to have it spiral bound and it turned out great! (Staples charge $4.50 for binding and I recommend a size 12 coil binding so the pages can be turned easily). 

We chose not to date the planner because the girls are able to personalize it more to their liking – and it also saves me the hassle of having to rework the entire thing each year. They’ve actually enjoyed taking the time to get it set up, so it’s a win-win for us!

Inside Our Student Planner

Want a peek inside? I promise it’s super simple – because we found we really didn’t need so much extra stuff, full of color, and ready to download and print. This is a peek inside the ‘circle’ version of the student planner. 

Email subscribers can watch the video here.

A quick note: I figured out that our printer will print FULL BLEED. It was one of the paper choices in settings. In the video you’ll see some of the pages that we experiments with (ones that were or weren’t printed all the way to the edge). Our front and back covers were printed onto cardstock and then laminated for extra durability. We use a heavy weight paper (24 lb.) to print the planner and make the pages a little thicker.

Weekly Student Planner layout from Homeschool Creations

The Student Planner contains:

  • 8 1/2” x 11” undated pages – use it year after year!
  • Year at a glance dates
  • Student information and schedule page
  • 12 blank monthly planning pages
  • Weekly planning pages for 8 subjects
  • Planning for every day of the week (smaller spaces for Saturday/Sunday)
  • Goals, notes, and ‘what I learned’ section
  • Tracking for books read
  • 2 layouts: August through July or January through December

Purchase a Student Planner

This student planner is undated so you have the option of printing off a new copy each year. Each planner version is available for $10 and you are more than welcome to print off copies for each of your children – this year and in years to come. You may also purchase a bundle option which includes a copy of BOTH student planner designs, in case your kids are picky like mine!

Your purchase also allows access to a ‘buyers only’ page where optional pages will be added including additional dated covers, as well as a additional bonus pages in both designs.

The Student Planner is only available as a pdf download, and prints off double-sided. 

student planner buy now


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