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Homeschool Made Simple – Learning Through Literature

Some of the most enjoyable and memorable times in the years of our homeschooling have revolved around reading together and learning through literature. When Compass Classroom asked me to take a peek at a new video series, Homeschool Made Simple with Carole Joy Seid, well – let’s just say I was excited. Literature-based learning is something that speaks to my heart and we’ve seen such great results in our own family because of it.

The Homeschool Made Simple Video Series

In the Homeschool Made Simple video series, Carole Joy Seid’s heart comes through as she speaks to parents on how to focus their learning on great books and keep reading as the core of their learning. Through literature, whether a biography, classic literature of a period, or books about a historical period, we can learn a variety of subjects – and learning can be as uncomplicated as we make it.
For families new to homeschooling or seasoned homeschoolers, there is something for everyone in the series. Think of it as a seminar that comes right to your home to refresh you. There are many different methods of homeschooling available to us as families (and I am so very grateful for that!), and many of us will agree that books and stories are the base of so much that we learn together. This series from Carol Joy Seid is so much more than showing how literature can be the core of all we do; it is also a huge encouragement to parents and a model of how homeschooling can be done simply, be enjoyable to everyone, and also affordable.
Homeschool Made Simple

Workshops in Homeschool Made Simple:

There are six workshops in the Homeschool Made Simple series, available in either DVD format or as a download, and an included book list. You can watch when you have time, take notes, and revisit later through the months and years if you need encouragement or a refresher.


1. Children & Reading
2. Choosing Books
3. Building Character in Children
4a. Math, Writing, Science, Art & Music
4b. Bible & A Typical Day
5. Children & Media
6. Teaching History Using Literature

I love that the setting of the series is ‘intimate’ – not videos taken at a large conference, but rather in someone’s living room and almost in a more 1:1 format – you feel like Carole is talking and encouraging you personally. Watching these videos (and I’m still finishing up the series!) has been a great reminder to me to slow down and re-evaluate plans – and simplify in a few areas.
Take a few minutes and watch a trailer of Homeschool Made Simple with Carole Joy Seid and get a feel for the class. You can also view a one of the workshops, Children and Reading, for free.



I would SO encourage you to watch the Children and Reading workshop today and rediscover the love of reading and learning through literature! How have you integrated reading into your curriculum for learning?

Middle and High School Planner Printables for Homeschool

Middle and high school planning printables

Now I don’t know about you, but despite my best intentions, I seem to always forget something that has already been purchased, curriculum ideas for upcoming years, or what may already be on our bookshelves to use for our younger children. Sticky notes and random sheets of paper just don’t cut it, so the Middle and High School Planner pages were put together to make life a little easier for myself overall. (And let’s face it, these are a lot prettier than the random sheets of notebook paper that were accumulating in my binder).

I’m printing off a copy for each of our children and it gives me a central location to jot down notes, ideas, and what we’re doing as we go along. Overall, there are sixteen pages in the Middle and High School Planner pages (plus one that you don’t have to print at the end), and two different versions – a blue/green color-themed set and a rainbow color-themed set. Laurianna saw me working on them and said she thought hers should have more color, so I had to readjust them. (grins)

If you’d like to see what we’ve been planning for homeschool high school so far, don’t miss our Homeschool High School Plan post that was shared earlier. In addition to walking through our overall plans I share how overwhelmed I was to begin with and some tips on laying the foundation for the upcoming years. There is also a link to a simple overview printable that you may prefer to this more in-depth one.

A Quick Look & Overview Planning

Overview planning pages for middle and high school

Use the first two pages to plan out subjects and curriculum for each year. In the left side column there is room to track the subjects and then plan out what you will use from 6th grade through 12th grade. Be sure to keep track of what you already have on hand – and don’t need to purchase!

High School Outline, Requirements, and Schedules

high school daily schedule and requirements

This section allows you to plug in all the information that your state may require for graduation, AP placement, decide your grading scale, and brainstorm elective ideas for your child. There is also a sheet that can be printed off yearly to create a weekly schedule for your child.

Tracking High School Credits

credit and class tracking for high school

Keep track of the credits your child is earning, books read, extra curricular activities and other important information you might need for high school transcripts. There are five pages for this section: one for early credits (prior to 9th grade if your state allows it) and four pages, one for each year of high school.

Course Descriptions

Early and high school course description tracking

This section allows you write a short course description of each class that your child takes for credit (may come in handy for college admission later).

–> Download the Middle School and High School Class Planning (blue/green)  <–

–> Download the Middle and High School Planning Pages (rainbow)  <–

Questions about Homeschooling in High School?

Homeschooling in High School

There’s nothing that can strike fear in the heart of a veteran homeschooling parent like the thought of homeschooling high school. Despite what may be years of successful homeschooling, thinking of high school can bring all the fears and doubts of the early years resurging in a homeschool parent’s heart. Read the post Homeschooling in High School for tips and resources from a veteran homeschool mom who has homeschooled and graduated a high schooler.

Have a Student in Need of Organization Help?


If you have a child in middle or high school that needs some organizational help, be sure to check out our Weekly Student Planner! The planner is undated and can be used year after year and has plenty of room for writing down daily assignments, goals, and accomplishments. Learn more HERE.

If you would like to share, please share a link to my blog or to the page that hosts these files. Please do not link directly to just the PDF files, but directly to this post. Please feel free to print this pdf file for your own personal use. They were created for private and non-profit use. Please do not sell or host these files anywhere else.



Settlers of Catan – Family Game Night

settlers of catan board game

The girls and I have a new game that we are in love with – Settlers of Catan. It’s been one that was recommended to us for ages, has been sitting in my Amazon cart, and two weeks I found it at a scratch-and-dent sale of sorts for an amazing price. To help you understand how much we are enjoying it, the game sits out and has been played nearly every single day since it came through the door of the house.

How to Play Settlers of Catan

The game board is built in a hexagonal shape and there are two sides to choose from to give players a variety when replaying. Each small hexagon on the board represents a different resources: forest, sheep, rock, grain, and brick. There are four different colors that can be used (up to four players) to build ‘settlements’ on the game board.

During the game, players collect resources based on where their first settlements are built, expand their territory by building roads and cities, and try to strategically ‘take over’ the island. The first person to reach 10 points earned by building road, settlements, and collecting special cards wins the game.

There is a great overview on the Catan website and even a game assistant app you can download to help learn the rules (love this!).

Once you really start getting into the game, there are additional extension packs that build on the main board so you can grow and expand on the base game: seafarers, cities & knights, traders & barbarians, explorers & pirates – and so much more!

Skills Catan Works On

There are a few things that Catan has been great in working on with the kids (and me too!)

  • Thinking strategically – while you want to get settlements and roads on the board, you definitely have to plan and think ahead on where you place your pieces so you are able to collect resources. You earn resources based on the number that is rolled (there are numbers in the center of each hexagon). If you have a settlement on that number, you earn that resource. Resources are then traded in to build roads, cities, and armies.

  • Probability – you never know how the die is going to roll. While each number on the board shows the likelihood of that number being rolled, you may have a game full of different numbers.

  • Negotiation – It’s frustrating to not have the resources you need to build something and players are allowed to trade/barter with each other. You can be stingy or kind (and I think we all can use a little kindness, right). Players need to think strategically in terms of trading, but it’s been neat to watch how relationships play into the game and are being built.

  • Decision-making – during the game players have to make various strategic decisions on how they will build their settlements and take over, based on their resources. Is it wiser to build a larger army or put up more settlements?

  • Value/Risk – As we play the game more and we begin to get used to how the game is played, there are more things I am noticing. Based on how you are doing, you can choose to sabotage another players settlements to prevent them from winning (by using the robber or stealing resources), block them from growing their territory – you need to weigh what is most important to you and if it will help you out in the long run.

      Recommended Ages

    Settlers of Catan is recommended for ages 10 and up. So far we have only played it with our 12 and older crew because the younger two discovered Battleship and have been playing that constantly. The game is built for four players, but you can add a 5 and 6 player extension, as well as multiple variants of the base board to make the game last longer. There is also a junior Catan version targeted toward younger children.

    The game typically takes us between 30 minutes to an hour and a half to play, depending on how strategically pieces are placed, how ruthless players are with each other, and often just by chance! Overall we have LOVED it.

    That’s what we’ve been busy playing lately.

    What games have you been playing and would you recommend – should we ever peel ourselves away from Catan?

A Few Other Games We Love

  • Farkle – a simple game of dice
  • Blokus – strategy game full of colors and shapes


Homeschool Planner End of the Year Sale – Only $10!!

Homeschool Planner Sale 2014

With Christmas presents all unwrapped and messes (somewhat) cleaned up, my focus is turning back to the remainder of the school year and getting things in order to start school again next week. If you are looking for a way to get your homeschool organized in 2015, you won’t want to miss this HUGE sale on the Weekly Homeschool Planner!

The Weekly Homeschool Planner is on sale for $10 {that’s an 50% savings!} until January 5, 2015.  Click the “Add to Cart” button at the end of this post and use the code ORGANIZE15 at checkout. Be sure to click ‘update cart’ before checkout too!

An Editable pdf Homeschool Planner!

The Weekly Homeschool Planner is an editable pdf document, meaning each of the pdf pages can be typed in, edited, and saved to your own computer every time you use it. Type lesson plans into the page and print them off or simply save them to your computer ~ the choice is up to you!

Planner snapshot

Edit plans any time and save the planner to your computer to have a digital copy each year. Organize your school day, record your daily learning, track testing results and more! Personalize it to fit your family! You can also print off an 8.5” x 11” paper copy and store it in a binder.

Homeschool Planner 2013 copy

Grab the pdf Weekly Homeschool Planner for $10!

Add to Cart

The Weekly Homeschool Planner includes daily attendance tracking, 40 weeks of customizable planning and journal sheets, yearly curriculum planning pages, evaluation sheets, field trip planning, standardized testing and assessment result tracking, daily to-do lists, menu planners and more! View a sample peek of the Weekly Homeschool Planner.

  • 138 planning pages ~ 8.5″ x 11″ sized
  • 12 blank month-at-a-glance pages
  • 40 weeks of weekly planning and journal sheets: each page can be customized to the subjects that your family studies and can be saved to your
  • Preschool planning sheets
  • Field trip/Event plan sheets
  • Yearly curriculum planning sheets
  • Yearly planning and evaluation sheets
  • Yearly attendance tracking sheets
  • Field trip/Event plan sheets
  • Daily to-do lists
  • Main dish menu planner
  • Customizable chore charts
  • Important contacts info
  • Additional note space
  • Standardized testing and yearly assessment result tracking
  • Homeschooling requirement planning

Grab the Weekly Homeschool Planner Today!

Homeschool Planner coiled

Grab the pdf editable Weekly Homeschool Planner for $10!

Hurry! The sale ends at midnight on Monday, January 5, 2015!

Add to Cart


Already purchased the Weekly Homeschool Planner? Then become an affiliate so you get a 25% commission using your affiliate link when you share the planner with others! {Note: if you purchased the planner in the last week, send me an email and I will refund you the difference!}.

* This is an editable pdf file that you can save to your computer and use year after year. To learn more about the Weekly Homeschool Planner, click HERE. MAC and LINUX users, please be sure to open the document in Adobe, not your MAC viewer or other pdf viewer. You can download a free copy of Adobe reader here.

Homeschool Supplies We Love and Use Daily

Last year I shared our ten favorite homeschool supplies and while the list hasn’t changed much, there are a few new things we’ve found this past year that have made my teacher-heart ever so happy, so of course I need to share.

Homeschool Supplies We Love

You likely have a few things that you cannot live without – am I right? Your list may be different from mine – and I’d love to hear what you all consider the MOST necessary to have on hand. A few of the things on my list you may have already guessed, but these are the ten things that I turn to a daily basis {well, almost daily for most of them!}.


A Kindle Fire

kindle fire for homeschool

We weren’t ready to invest in another iPad, so we decided on a Kindle Fire for her and it has been great alternative (and a lot cheaper). She can use it to work on her North Star Geography and also has a few of her other school books loaded on it as well. Incidentally, the Send to Kindle app has been so much easier to use. You can just drag a file on your desktop and it sends it directly to the Kindle!

While I love my iPad and use it for many of my teacher’s manuals (like Picture Smart Bible manual, All About Homophones, Introduction to Literature, North Star Geography, and Home Art Studio pdfs) this year it has been a HUGE help for Laurianna to have something she can take to co-op or use while the laptop is in use by a sibling.

Post It Note Flags

Such a simple little thing, but Post-it flags of all shapes and sizes can be found in our schoolroom. They make it so much easier to quickly find where we left off in a lesson or book and they peel of easily to reuse. Yep, I love them!

Mavalus Tape

mavalus tape


You’ll want to hide your roll of Mavalus tape when you get it, because it isn’t cheap, but it is wonderful! We’ve tried using different sticky substances on our schoolroom walls to hold up posters, but they have either ripped apart the drywall or haven’t really worked well. This tape isn’t cheap ($6.99 for a 3 foot roll), but you don’t need to use a ton of it to have it work, which is great. And you don’t have to explain to your husband why there is yet another patch of drywall that needs to be fixed.

Ticonderoga Pencils

The standard No. 2 pencil will forever be linked to the name Ticonderoga pencils. Yep – we’re pencil snobs. Cheap pencils just kept breaking or not erasing and just causing headaches in general, so it was much more economical to purchase a giant pack and be done with it for the rest of the year.

To keep track of mine vs. the kids, I pick up a few packs with a  black exterior and also some of the red correcting pencils. My pencils are my pencils, and I will hunt down children who take my pencils and try to keep them. Be very careful….(grins).

An Amazing Pencil Sharpener

bostitch pencil sharpener

It may seem over the top, my nothing irks me more than a pencil sharpener that doesn’t do a good job (i.e. keeps breaking the tips off until all you have is a tiny nub of a pencil) or ones that break easily. We’ve gone through our share of pencil sharpeners over the years but the Stanley Bostitch Quiet Pencil Sharpener has been FABULOUS. There are different sized sharpening holes and it has even withstood a certain 9 year old’s curiousity on what would happen if you stuck a pencil in the wrong way to sharpen it. Besides, those Ticonderoga pencils need to be treated nicely!

A Dry Erase Board

Our dry erase board has been one of the best purchases that we’ve made. It hosts our All About Spelling letter tiles and we use it during our reading time as well. Somehow our markers like to make a mess of it, but we recently figured out how to clean a dry erase board easily – and that has helped a lot!

Weekly Homeschool Planner


It may surprise you to know that I don’t plan out our entire year. In fact, I typically add our lessons into my homeschool planner as we go along throughout the day. At the beginning of the year I sat down and figured out how many lessons we needed to work on each day in various subjects, but I have a hate getting a planner out of whack.

A Laminator

It’s shocking (I know), but the Scotch Laminator has been a faithful part of our homeschool for over five year now (and yes, I still have a spare one just in case!). We found some cheaper laminating pouches to use, which makes the whole process super easy! While I may not actually laminate daily, we do use things that I’ve laminated every single day, including parts of our Daily Calendar Notebook and our Weekly Workbox Grid.

Graph Paper

Graph Paper-1

One of our daily staples is graph paper. I shared recently how huge of a help it has been for our girls during their math lessons, so it’s something we keep on hand always!

Utility Tote Bag

No I don’t have thirty-one bags, but we use 31 bags! We have four utility totes that we use constantly – one for all of the high school lit supplies, one with my teacher binder and daily teaching supplies, another holds our writing folders, and still another holds our reading materials.

The bags are quick and easy to pick up and go, especially if we are traveling {not that I would make our kids do school work on the go – cough}. While mine doesn’t have it, the new bags zip on the top so your stuff doesn’t fall out if it tips over! I dropped in an open top file box to make it a little more sturdy and can also use that to hang file folders inside.

What are YOUR must-have homeschool supplies?


Homeschool Room

Would you like to see more of our homeschool classroom? Feel free to stop by and visit! There’s even a video tour as well!

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Simple Math Tip to Keep Numbers Straight

Do your kids have trouble keeping their numbers straight and make simple calculation errors because they shift numbers into the wrong columns?

Simple Math Tip to Keep Numbers Straight

A few of our kids have had trouble keeping their math figures ‘neat’. And by neat I mean there were calculation errors because numbers were getting shifted over and then added or subtracted incorrectly.

Frustrations mounted because the errors, but the kids couldn’t seem to keep things lined up properly, so we grabbed something fairly simple to help out – a sheet of graph paper.

Graph Paper-1

Each box gives them enough room to put a number in  and helps them get everything lined in columns  properly. For our oldest (who just started Algebra 1), it will also be handy for graphing.

Graph Paper-1-2

I can honestly say using graph paper for math has been one of the easiest things we’ve done to help out, and all it required was a pack of paper. That is a win-win for me (and the kids)!

Another Quick Tip for You

Sticker dots for reading

If your kids are feeling overwhelmed with reading, find out how two simple sticker dots helped us out!