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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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Eighth Grade Year in Review – Homeschool Curriculum Choices

8th Grade Homeschool Year in Review

Laurianna’s eighth grade year was enough to make me break out in a cold sweat. Seriously. Somehow the start of last year really had me realizing that every little thing mattered. We were on the verge of HIGH SCHOOL, deciding if she would be taking high school credits and the panic set in.

The bulk of Laurianna’s work was independent, although there were several classes that we did in a co-op setting, because we have some fabulous friends and it was much fun interacting with a few other high schoolers (and commiserating together on their science or literature woes). Laurianna is very dedicated and responsible in managing her time, so although we had talked about what programs she would use, she put together her own schedule for the weeks and years. There were a few times we had to review her plans and reorganize things, but otherwise we met weekly to go through her work, correct papers, and look at what was coming up next.

You can see all of our 8th grade homeschool curriculum choices for the 2014-15 year here, but below you’ll get a good look at what we used for Laurianna’s eighth grade year and what we will be continuing on with in the upcoming year.


The plan: North Star Geography (1 credit) and Wondermaps


Email subscriber can click here to watch the video clip.

Hands-down, North Star Geography from Bright Ideas Press was the BEST addition to our curriculum and Laurianna’s workload. If there was one thing I heard constantly, it was how much she absolutely loved the program and it was her favorite. She earned a full credit for the program, and I rather loved the grading sheet that was a part of the program (and did all the computing for me).

There were many hands-on projects that Laurianna worked on throughout the year, and I hope to share her hydroponics project with you all soon. Between mapping, learning country facts, and the well-laid out program, it was a definite win for our year.


Physical Science from Exploration Education (1 credit), The Fossil Book and The Cave Book from Masterbooks (1/2 credit)

Glider from Everday Exploration

Science was one subject that we worked on with a very small co-op this year (four kids). One of the moms took on the weekly teaching and the kids were responsible for the reading assignments during the week and working on their lab projects (these varied from building a glider, a miniature house, solar-powered fan, or other projects). The kids each brought their assignments during the co-op meeting and ran additional experiments together and had their lab booklets checked out as well.  Overall, Laurianna really enjoyed the program, especially the hands-on projects.

Her second semester she started working on the two Masterbook science classes for a total of 1/2 credit. Both of these books are counting toward her elective classes.


Introduction to Literature (1 credit)

Homeschool Week in Review-17

Literature was another class that we opted to work on together in our small co-op. This was the class that I taught and having the small group worked very well. Each week we spent time talking about various writing techniques and reviewing the most recent assignments together. Writing is one area that is so important because it covers so many different aspects of life and will follow the kids wherever they go! This year we focused on putting together a strong essay (see the fun hamburger essay outline that Laurianna drew for herself and friends).

Hamburger essay outline for literature

Next year we will be working through the next book in this literature series. We read some fabulous books together (see Laurianna’s reading list here) and at the end of each unit we watched a movie version of the book to compare/contrast if it followed the book or completely digressed (more often then not it was the latter – but it was still fun).

The best part in working with the small group was the opportunity to work on peer reviews and share different writing styles with each other. Having someone else read, edit, and review your papers can be very intimidating, but the kids all handled it so well.

It is also here that I remembered why I though teaching high school English was not the direction I wanted to head. While I love many of the aspects of the class, having four papers to grade each week was crazy enough and I cannot even imagine having a crazy amount of papers to review each day/week.

My only ‘complaint’ with the program was the not-so-clear-cut grading scale/rubric. For my sanity I ended up creating a grading rubric for each type of paper, along with checklists for the kids to review before handing papers in. These were similar in style to the ones that I was familiar with from WriteShop, giving the kids and parents a clear idea of what was expected and how they could improve papers.

Grammar & Spelling

Easy Grammar 180 Daily Teaching Lessons, All About Spelling Levels 6 & 7

This was a fairly ‘light’ area for Laurianna this year. The Easy Grammar lessons were overall review for her, and we did spelling lessons sporadically throughout the year. She is a very proficient speller and we will finish up level 7 with her next year.


Algebra 1 from Saxon Math (1 credit)

Saxon Algebra 1

Algebra is probably one of Laurianna’s least favorite subjects overall. She is still muddling through two tests and reviewing some of the material – it just isn’t her favorite area. While she didn’t struggle completely, it was the subject that took her the longest to complete each day and made her eyes want to gloss over.

Next year she is still debating on using Saxon for Algebra 2 or moving back to Teaching Textbooks. The main reason for the switch to Saxon was one of her friends was using Saxon, so she wanted to as well. We’ll have to decide in the next bit, but fortunately have both on hand just in case.


Greek Myths from Memoria Press (1/2 credit)

Laurianna really enjoyed reading the Percy Jackson series, so she thought that Greek Myths would be along the same lines. It wasn’t quite what she expected and while it started out okay, she now wishes she would have chosen something else as a 1/2 credit elective. (grins) She did finish the class during her first semester and earned the 1/2 credit, but has mentioned to her younger sister that it might not be the best option for her. Overall a good lesson in perseverance and finishing what we start.

Foreign Language

Spanish Tell Me More program (1 credit)

We didn’t quite get the first year finished and had a glitch in our software. When the program was initially purchased, Tell Me More was their own company, but they were bought out by Rosetta Stone. Trying to figure out how to get past our glitch was put on the back burner since we weren’t sure where to go for customer service. Fortunately, because we started it her 8th grade year, we have a little bit of wiggle room and will finish it up and move on to year 2 shortly.


Dynamic Literacy Word Build Elements

Although we intended for Laurianna to work on this, we ended up shelving it because she was working on so much with literature and Daily Grams.


Mystery of History 4 combined with Story of the World 4 (see below); Liberty Kids dvd series

Laurianna worked primarily on taking good notes this year and getting ready for an independent class next year. She took the quizzes to go along with the class as well but decided to skip the coloring pages (grins).


Picture Smart Bible – wrapping up our Old Testament Studies and 90 Devotions for Kids – morning devotions

The Picture Smart Bible coloring pages were something Laurianna enjoyed, although our switch back to Grapevine Studies was her favorite study overall.


PE, Art, and other electives

homeschool January 2015-36

The other co-op we were a part of included an art class that Laurianna really enjoyed. This year they worked on creating marionettes and decided to make characters from the book of Esther. When they were finished, they helped sew the costumes, created scene backdrops, wrote a play, and put on a 15 minute presentation for the co-op.

Click the images below to see our 2nd Grade Year in Review4th Grade Year in Review, and 6th Grade Year in Review. Stick around too – I’ll be sharing our curriculum choices for the upcoming school year soon!

2nd Grade Homeschool Year in Review 4th Grade Homeschool Year in Review

6th grade homeschool year in review


New to Homeschooling?

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! Here are a few posts that you might find helpful as you discover what is best for your family. Be sure to check out the entire Homeschool Basics series for answers to more frequently asked homeschool questions.

Homeschool Teaching Styles and Philosphies.png Identifying Children's Learning Styles copy How to Choose Homeschool Curriculum

Additional Resources: Unfamiliar with some of the curriculum choices above? Follow the links below to learn more about the companies and resources:

Curriculum Choices from Years Past…

If you’d like to see what curriculum we’ve used in years past, click on one of the posts below. Grade levels taught each year are listed with the posts.

What We’ve Been Up to in Our Homeschool Time – a Sum-up of the Last Five or So Weeks

The last time I shared about our homeschool goings-on was quite a bit ago. March to be precise. It was just before life got crazy with travel and doctor’s visits. And then it started to feel like I was so behind and there was so much to share – which is true on both accounts.

But, it is always so much fun to see what others have been up to, so this is the abbreviated version of what we’ve been learning about in the last six or seven weeks. There are a few subjects that we still have to wrap-up for the year, and we likely won’t finish on schedule, and that’s ok. Really ok. (I need to keep reminding myself of that).


We did finish up Nancy Larson Science 2 with the boys and they both had so much fun with dissecting owl pellets. The last unit is all about birds, so it was a fun way to round out the unit. I ended up buying a more owl pellets online because they wanted to do more! Kaleb was a bit grossed out at first, but he was the one that ended up pulling apart the most!


For the last eight weeks of school the kids asked if we could work on a Grapevine Bible study together. While we’ve enjoyed Picture Smart Bible, they told me they prefer Grapevine – so we made a quick and easy switch. They all love drawing their figures and illustrating their stories, so we are working on the book of Ruth together.


For me that meant some new teacher supplies – a lovely rainbow collection of dry erase markers. Can someone please explain how all the colors you need seem to dry out the fastest? I’m rather happy with the new collection. (grins)


We had been using graph paper for Kaleb’s math, but truthfully – for a 2nd grader, it was a bit much (and more expensive). A reader suggested turning a sheet of lined paper sideways and lining up columns for him to work on his math problems that way. SO much easier for him!

Laurianna has been working hard on several projects for her physical science credit. Her most recent one was building a solar-powered fan. She was really frustrated because it didn’t work for quite some time, and we couldn’t figure out why, and then one day it suddenly started working. Yay!!


This entire high school thing is really sinking in now that we are wrapping up our first year – yikes! When helping out at a homeschool convention, I picked up a microscope for next year’s biology lab. Like a real heavy-duty for REAL microscope. I know it’s not a huge thing, but it somehow just makes it even more real.


While this picture is a little cheesy, my thought is if you take pictures using your mom’s phone, it becomes her property to do whatsoever she desires with it. A few weeks ago I took our high school lit co-op class to see Much Ado About Nothing at a nearby Shakespeare center. SO MUCH FUN. Not only with the kids, but just in remembering part of what I loved about being an English major. Our class had been studying The Tempest, so it wasn’t the same play – but still worth every minute there. The theatre was packed and our small group of six had nearly front row seats – and two on the stage so the kids had to participate a few times. We are definitely doing it again next year!


With the weather turning beautiful, we’ve been spending time outside on the front porch or our back deck. The birds have been out in full swing and it has been so much fun to look for the different species. We’ve been using our Bird Nature Study Printables to count how many have been at the feeder and using our iBird Pro app to imitate their calls. McKenna and Zachary spent about 45 minutes outside one morning and managed to have a piliated woodpecker get close to the house. It really has been a blast!


One of the things I’ve had the hardest time keeping up with this year is the grading of papers. The typical day to day isn’t too bad, but having papers from lit class in co-op is a little more challenging. It’s one thing to grade your own child’s paper, but quite another sometimes to grade papers for other kids. Over the last year it has been so encouraging to see how each of the kids has grown in their writing abilities – and it can sometimes be hard to give constructive criticism. As hard as it is to give it, the kids have been so gracious in how they receive it too, working even harder. Love that.


Since the boys have finished their day-to-day science lessons, they are all about finding nature around the house and enjoying that. They unearthed a red salamander one morning and have been checking often to see if it is still hanging around in the same spot.


We are *almost* at the end of our history lessons with Mystery of History 4. We had to put a hold on them when life got crazy, but all of the kids have been engrossed in the modern history we are learning (Kennedy, Nixon/Watergate, Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks to name a few). There are only six more lessons to wrap it up and we will get around to it – eventually!


There have been a LOT of audio books lately. A lot. As we travel back and forth to appointments, there is usually one on in the car. One series that we have really been enjoying lately is from Lemony Snickets – A Series of Unfortunate Events. It’s one we had put off for a bit (I wouldn’t recommend it for kids under 8 years old), but the humor in it has the kids and I cracking up all the time. I’ll be sharing more about the books soon, but we are almost finished listening to the fourth book right now and have the fifth and sixth waiting!

hydroponics system

Another project Laurianna and I will be sharing with you soon is her hydroponics system. In North Star Geography she has been learning about farming and one of their assignments was to build a hydroponics system and see how their plant grew. She did a bit of research and found something she thought would work and has been having a lot of fun working on it the past two or so weeks.


As for day to day life, we’ve made it through the hardest part with my parent’s surgery and things should be slowing down here. This week is TESTING – yippy, Skippy. One of the kids has whizzed through her testing already, so the focus this week (after dealing with two follow up doctor visits for a concussion and my mom’s surgery) is getting it all DONE and in the mail. My stress relief has been walking and exercising lately – and making my health a priority. We live on an amazingly beautiful road that just needs to be admired. One of my goals this year is to run a 5K (and to make sure I do it, I volunteered to teach a co-op class!!). I’m either crazy or – well, let’s not go there, shall we?

That’s the overall sum-up. I know when it gets close to the end of the year we are all just ready to be finished and over with it all, and trust me, I am as well! With all the chaos the last bit, my plans have gone out the window and we’ve had to move to a day-to-day, sometimes hour-by-hour plan and that has been really hard for me. If you’ve been around here long enough, you know that I’m a girl who likes to have a plan in place. In all of that though I have to say – God has been amazingly good. We have been surrounded by friends and family that have been walking beside us and helping out in tangible and non-tangible ways. So thankful for all of them and their support!

What have YOU been up to these last few weeks during your homeschool time?

A Little More Than Halfway Done – 19 Week Homeschool Update

Somehow getting over the halfway mark seems to make a mental difference – do you know what I mean? We ended in December on week 17, and I have to tell you it may have made me a little wiggy. Somehow Christmas seems like it should be the mid-point, but really – that extra long break for us at Christmas was fabulous, so I’ll just let it go (and now I’m humming that song, thank you very much).

Getting back into the swing of things was admittedly a little rougher (because really, truly – I rather enjoyed having a whole bunch of lazy days, but routine is nice too). Having done absolutely nothing over Christmas break turned out to be a very good thing for all of us. But everyone managed to pull back together with a day or two and we’re all good now and it’s back to the typical attitudes (Truth = my kids aren’t always keen on all we do! Shocker, I’m sure).

History Time Together

homeschool history time together

In our history time, we’ve been learning about a wide span of things in the mid 1800’s thanks to Mystery of History 4: the French rule of Mexico, emperor Meiji of Japan, the Dominion of Canada, Abraham Lincoln, and the Civil War. While we’ve literally been hopping all over the place, it’s been fun to see how things tie in together historically too. I tell you – there is so much that I either don’t remember or never learned. Homeschooling is truly such a great learning time for me as well (either that, or I appreciate some things much more now that I’m older – let’s just go with that).

We typically use the coloring sheets that go along with Mystery of History, the kids often start stick-figuring what we are talking about (there may be many Civil War battle scenes lately) or take notes on what we’re learning. Stick figures are always popular.

The Fun of Science (9th Grade)

Exploration Education physical science

Laurianna is continuing Exploration Education physical science with our small co-op (there are only 4 kids), and they are having a lot of fun with the hands-on projects to go along with the weekly lessons. Over the period of a few weeks they work on different labs/projects (so far they have framed and wired a miniature house, made a glider, a steamboat, a racecar), and they are currently building a working scale.

During the week she study the lessons and work on experiments independently, and once a week the group works on additional experiments and reviews the learning material together. Our co-op time is usually about an hour and a half or so – just enough to squeeze in a little more.

Reading Time

true adventure of homer p. figg

We haven’t been dedicated in sitting down to read, but we’re currently in the middle of The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg. The story takes place during the Civil War (and I think it’s hilarious). While it’s below the reading level of the older two, it still has been fun to listen to together.

read aloud time

Sitting still during reading time can be a bit tough, so the kids will color, draw, or build when I am reading. The boys have spent quite a bit of time building with their new Simple and Compound Machines K’Nex set they received for Christmas. 

On the reading front, Zachary recently discovered the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books and has been reading and re-reading them. I cannot tell you how much this makes my heart happy. He has gone from ZERO interest in reading to scouring the library shelves for something new to read in just a few short months.

Art Time (9th Grade and 2nd Grade)

homeschool January 2015-34

Kaleb is rather happy to be working on art projects again (we love Home Art Studio). Just before we started back with school, I rearranged the wall above his desk and took some of his artwork from the fall down. He loves to display it when he’s done and usually works on at least one project a week, so it can get a little crazy above his desk. With the above project he worked on color mixing and using oil pastels as well as drawing his own fish.

homeschool January 2015-36

Last semester Laurianna’s art time at co-op was spent working on a marionette. She sketched out her project, cut dowel rods, and molded and painted the body parts for her puppet. Her marionette was based on the story of Esther and she chose the king. Her teacher helped with sewing the clothing after the fabric was chosen, and she is SO excited about her creation.

The Puppy

homeschool January 2015-19

The biggest change in our house has come in the form of a little puppy, Addie. We’ve been talking about getting a dog for well over a year and finally brought home a little one. Needless to say, the kids are thrilled and (mostly) pitching in to help with all the fun stuff that goes along with having a puppy.

homeschooling with the puppy

Addie has been joining us in the schoolroom during the day, and most often we’ll find her trying to chew on our chair bottoms or curled up in our bean bag chair (much like I would like to do). Of course the kids say that she ‘helps them study’ – ha! Not so sure I believe that, but it has been rather fun.


Well, that’s a quick look at the last two weeks for us – what have you been up to with your kids?


Mary_CollageFriday weekly wrap up

Linking up this week with Collage Friday and Weekly Wrap-up!

Our Mid-Year Homeschool Review

Technically we’re one week shy of being halfway through our school year, but we’re ready to take an extended three week break for Christmas. In years past we’ve taken the week of Christmas and a bit after and truthfully – well, everything just feels rushed and crazy-like. So this year, we planned in a much needed break that will coincide with a nice trip to the grandparents.

Anyway, here’s a little peek at what we’ve been up to the last few weeks, thoughts on how our school year has been going so far, especially with the new curriculum pieces we added in. We had a laptop crash and the new laptop already had a minor mishap (how in the world??), but everything is finally re-installed on the new computer and up and running. You can view our full 2014-15 curriculum list here.

I’d love to hear what you all have been up to as well, so please leave a comment and share your thoughts on your year as well!


Now that our brand-spankin’-new textbook for Mystery of History 4 has arrived, we’re feeling all official. Truthfully, I’m feeling so very overwhelmed in some ways because there is SO much to learn and it is hard to touch on just a small fraction of history. We do look in-depth at things, but switching into the modern era there is an overwhelming amount of information to intake.

Maybe that’s just me. (grins)

We’ve covered the thirteen colonies, many of the early American leaders, the French and Indian War, Catherine the Great, the American Revolution, the French Revolution, Napoleon Bonaparte, the War of 1812, the Trail of Tears, Karl Marx, famous abolitionists, Florence Nightingale, Charles Darwin, and are just about ready to talk about the Civil War.

History is flying by! We are loving the lessons and occasionally adding in some dvd clips from either Liberty Kids or Drive Thru History just for variation. We haven’t had as much time to add in a lot of read-alouds from the time period (with swim team this fall), but hopefully that will be back on track in the upcoming months.


We’ve taken a little break from Picture Smart Bible in November and December to focus on Unwrapping the Greatest Gift and work on another family devotional from Focus on the Family. We are really loving the Advent study from Ann Voskamp – those coloring pages just seal the deal. The kids love them.

Laurianna is almost done with the What on Earth Can I Do? in the What We Believe series, and McKenna is working on Who is My Neighbor?


Do you all have visitors in your homeschool room? Please say yes. Olaf made a special appearance and was apparently helping McKenna with her math. Really, more like distracting everyone and causing unending giggles.

One kiddo is learning multiplication (his 1,’s, 5’s, and 10’s), another is starting with long division, and Laurianna is making my brain hurt with algebra equations. It’s a good hurt and my brain is happy to solve things that can actually be solved.



My momma’s heart is so very happy in this area with all of our kids. Kaleb’s reading is growing with leaps and bounds. He is working on All About Reading 2 and we’ve gotten into a great daily groove with lessons and review.

The other day someone asked Zachary what his favorite subject was – and the boy said READING. You all, I wanted to cry happy tears right then and there. Knowing what a struggle it’s been for him (believing he can’t vs. his capability), that is such an amazing thing to hear – and the biggest thing has been the first book he finished this year as a part of his language program. Since then, Zachary has finished four books on his 4th grade reading list (yay!!). In addition, Zachary is about halfway through All About Reading 4, and he is so excited about that!

McKenna has finished seven of the books on her reading list and Laurianna is almost halfway through hers as well. Unfortunately (well, not really), both of these girls are voracious readers and get sidetracked easily after a trip to the library.


This year one of the things I was most nervous about was switching the boys to Learning Language Arts Through Literature. While we aren’t using everything in the lessons (spelling and some reading are separate), both boys are really liking the change. The biggest thing for Zachary is the tie-in with what he is reading (more of the book study approach), but he is also learning about research papers, and more this year.

McKenna has loved the switch to Growing with Grammar and also the online WordBuild vocabulary. She discovered a love for diagramming – takes after her mom in that!


Snap circuits

The boys are a little more than halfway through Nancy Larson Science 2. Although Zachary worked on this level a few years ago, he asked to do it with Kaleb this year and has been a great help to Kaleb. They both are having fun with the hands-on aspects (we’re learning about levers and simple machines right now) and tying in some fun LEGO projects. On the side, Zachary is working with Snap Circuits and K’Nex projects – we try to find a project that goes along with our lessons that week.

McKenna isn’t as crazy about her science program as Laurianna was a few years ago, but it’s a change from what she has used in the past. She is finally getting settled with it, but part of the problem has been moving to a more independent program. While Laurianna enjoyed that aspect, it’s a little harder for McKenna.

Laurianna does much of her science work independently during the week, but once a week gets together with a small group of kids to go over additional experiments. She is loving her physical science! So far they’ve built a glider, a boat, and are working on framing a miniature house complete with electricity. So much fun!


Home Art Studio artwork

While Zachary and McKenna do an art project every now and then – they enjoy them, but don’t live for them, Kaleb is the exact opposite. The boy would work on an art project every.single.day if he could.


When the rest of his schoolwork is done, he grabs his art DVD, all the supplies I’ve pulled out, and runs downstairs to work on a project. The wall above his desk is crazy full of fun paintings, drawings, and more.

The Rest of the High School Stuff

North Star Geography Experiments

Really, there are so many other subjects! A few of Laurianna’s high school credits I touched on briefly above (math and science), but a few don’t fully ‘fit’ into any of the above areas.

Greek Myths (1/2 credit) – This was the one class she was so very excited to take this year, maybe partly due to Percy Jackson – who knows. Unfortunately, while she enjoys the main text, she isn’t super thrilled with the class overall. It isn’t quite what she expected, which has made the last few weeks of the class hard. She’ll be finishing it up in just a few days, and it’s one that she’ll be happy to say goodbye to. On the bright side, it’s been a great lesson in perseverance even when things are going the way you expected.

North Star Geography (1 credit) – Laurianna didn’t expect to enjoy this quite as much as she has been. Overall, it is her favorite subject and the one she looks forward to each day. I’m beyond thrilled with the teacher’s plans, the grading spreadsheet (that does all the work for me), and the many, many helps that come along with the course. BEST class for both of us this year!

Spanish – We had a minor snafu with our program when our laptop died. We went from two inputs to only one headphone jack and someone (ahem), kept forgetting to purchase a splitter. Thankfully, Laurianna was already ahead in her lessons, so she’ll be back on track after the start of the year. (phew)

Intro to Literature – While the class has been challenging (in a good way) for Laurianna, I’m so very thankful for the years that she used WriteShop Junior. Her writing is so much stronger because of it, which has been helpful this year in her lit class. I’ve been reading the books along with the kids and grading papers galore. My one complaint about the program is the lack of grading rubrics/standards. While they have one generic one they use as an example, I’ve had to pull together my own grading sheets (but that’s just me being picky). Writing is a tough area to grade, because so much can be subjective.


Phew – that’s a big, long sum-up of our year so far and what we think of our curriculum (we’re happy with it all!!).

How are YOU doing?

In Which We Finish 13 Weeks of Homeschooling

Rather than taking our typical break after each six week block, the kids (and dad and mom) decided to push through the next few weeks and take a full week off at Thanksgiving, and then a little more than three weeks off at Christmas. Somehow December manages to always get crazy fast, so we’re hoping this will make it easier (and fun!).

Ready to see a few things that we’ve been up to? Apparently I wasn’t super ambitious with the camera – but it’s been a GREAT two weeks and we’ve gotten so much accomplished (I love that feeling!).

Learning about Wheels and Axles

simple machines nancy larson

The boys are working together on Nancy Larson Science 2. The most recent unit has been on force, friction, and work. One lesson in our unit was about wheels and axles, so we pulled out our Lego Education Simple Machines set and put together cars to show how they move down an inclined plane. While many of our science lessons are already hands-on, adding LEGOs definitely made it even more fun! 

Parallel Learning

boys at the table homeschooling

One of the things that I love about the above picture – two boys working on completely different projects (reading vs. LEGOs), pjs vs. fully dressed (ignore the crazy hair) – it’s just a snapshot of what our days looks like. Granted, it isn’t always quite this peaceful (or cooperative), but that’s another part of our days, right?

A few of you have asked what books are sitting on the table next to Zachary. While I was cleaning off our shelves and pulling out things for my nephew, I found some old Scholastic Early Readers and had Kaleb go through them that morning. He was having an “I can’t read” day, and it was so encouraging to him to FLY through almost the entire box of books in no time flat (encouraging for both him as well as me!). He was all smiles when he finished reading them, realizing what he COULD do.

Incidentally, the above picture shows Zachary working on his third book this year (yay!!) from his fourth grade reading list, and he just finished it up this week!

The Boy Who Chews…

History time

History is going great as well, although we are a bit behind on our history timeline – oops. Kaleb (sorry for the bad picture!) and the other kids have been using Chewigem pendants and tags the last week and a half. Honestly, I am really thankful for them, because Kaleb is a huge chewer and constantly has things in his mouth (typically Lego pieces) and that makes me super nervous. The Chewigem dog tags have kept toys and unsafe things out of his mouth and helped with a lot of the fidgeting in the other kids. 

Learning How Business Works

homeschool mini society project-1

The 6th through 8th graders in our high school co-op are working on mini society projects. Essentially, the kids set up their own businesses, create their own society with jobs, currency, etc… and find out what makes money work – a little crash lesson in life.

McKenna is working with another girl in her class and they have been busy making as much as they can with as little cash expense as possible. They have created rock monsters (made with googley eyes and cheap paint), t-shirt bracelets (using old t-shirts), and monster bookmarks that sit on the corner of book pages. It’s been a great experience to discover what works with marketing a product, how much time to budget for projects, and what products are worth the time/effort and have the best cost/effort ratio.

Listening to Books

Audiobooks for Families to enjoy

Last week I shared some of the recent audiobooks we’ve listened to as a family. Richard Peck has been a favorite author in recent weeks, but we’re headed back to the library this week to see what else we can find!


Time Away with (One of) My Girls


I’ll be sharing more soon, but this past weekend McKenna and I had a weekend away to have our talk on friendships, peer pressure, dating, and the S.E.X. word. Oh my goodness. It was such a completely different weekend than my weekend with Laurianna, but it was so absolutely wonderful. We did things that spoke to her heart, including spending time working on a special mug at a local pottery place. She has big plans for the finished mug, including toting it to church for Sunday morning coffee – love it!


On the Mom Front

The kids haven’t been the only ones busy around the house. I’m slowly working on my November book list (shockingly, I got distracted with two other books, but have finished two of the books in my pile, Start: Punch Fear in the Face and A Lady at Willowgrove Hall. I’m almost finished with Parenting with Love and Logic and Six Ways to Keep the Good in Your Boy – again, so helpful if I focus on ONE book at a time!


I’ve been working hard on my November goals too. Our living room is currently a work in progress, but it’s getting there! We’ve emptied out our entertainment center, moved our tv, primed the mantle, and we’re now prepping for full painting and bookcases on either side of the fireplace. Painting over the wood is killing me a bit, but I think the end result will be beautiful, so trying not to panic! (fyi – I hate, hate, hate decorating).


What have you been up to with your kids?

Mary_CollageFriday weekly wrap up

Linking up this week with Collage Friday and Weekly Wrap-up!