20 Best Tips

A Long Overdue Life Update (Hello 2024!)

It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? There are so many moments that I mentally make a note to write a quick post, but it never seems to materialize (and truthfully, there’s so much to tell, that it seems overwhelming at the same time!).

So instead, we’ll take the abbreviated version, but still give an update, shall we?

Many of you have been long time followers of our blog, watched our family grow up online, and as we are getting near the end of our own family’s homeschool journey, it’s often harder to share the day-to-day (because our youngest two are teen boys and there’s a fine line in oversharing). :)

Here’s the bullet point summary of what’s happening in/around our house, because 2023 brought so many changes!

Laurianna and her husband Ian moved back to our area early in the year and in April we welcomed our first grandchild, Judah. He has truly been the sweetest addition to our family, and becoming an Oma is the craziest and most amazing blessing. Our family group text thread is honestly a massive compilation of daily pictures of the cutest baby and milestones he is achieving (is there anything better?).

McKenna took a brief break after her graduation in 2021 to work and focus in on what she might want to study (nursing). In January 2023 she began working toward her degree and has proven herself to be an absolutely amazing student (despite all her doubts), excelling in her coursework. Her goal is a BSN and almost all of her pre-requisites are now out of the way, so she’ll jump into the nursing program in the fall of 2024.

Zachary graduated high school in May, and in December he officially completed his first semester at Bridgewater College, where he is also swimming for their men’s team, breaking school records, and settling into college life. We missed him over the holidays as he jumped on a plane and spent over two weeks in Prague with friends, revisiting an area where he spent time over the summer.

Kaleb is a junior in high school, swimming with our year-round team, and more recently our last official driver in the family. He is officially taller than me, and it’s very strange to know that in just a year and a half our homeschool journey will wrap up with his graduation.

While I haven’t been especially active (at all) with the blog, Facebook, or Instagram, at the personal level, I have been otherwise busy working for our year-round swim team in addition to homeschooling Kaleb. Swimming has been such a big part of our family’s life and sharing that love with other families is honestly a joy (plus I get to know some amazing families and people along the way). In addition to working part time, I’m teaching a literature class (small co-op setting) and trying to fit all of life in, because if there’s anything turning 50 and having the sweetest grandson will do – it’s make you want to enjoy each moment of life to the fullest.

I hope you all have been well! Thank you SO MUCH for those who have been readers through the year and allowing me to share a quick update via your inbox!

Just One Peanut (and a whole lotta laughing)

Sometimes you overhear conversations between kids and just have to scratch your head. Or laugh out loud for HOURS after when the conversation comes back to mind. 

Zachary (age 12) was in search of a peanut for a science project, and the following conversation took place between him and Kaleb (age 10). Why this particular situation even happened in the first place? I have no idea. But I do know that it possibly speaks to my pantry cleaning abilities (although I have no idea how long it has been hiding). 

So I just continue to laugh. 


Zach: I need a peanut for my experiment but I don’t know where to get one.

Kaleb: Just one peanut?

Zach: Yeah.

Kaleb: Only one?

Zach: Yeah…

Kaleb: I have one.

Zach: What?

Kaleb: Here I’ll show you. *leads Zach to pantry*

Zach: You have just a single peanut?

Kaleb: Yeah look. *pulls cereal boxes away to reveal single peanut sitting on the shelf* *picks up peanut* Here.

Zach: Why… do you have this?

Kaleb: I put it there a while ago. I was saving it.

Apparently being the fourth child means one has to hoard and ration food, wherever one is able. Because I have NO idea when the last time was that we had peanuts in the house.
For real. 

Smashing Homeschool Stereotypes Survey

Over the years of homeschooling, I’ve either had someone ask me some of the stereotypical questions believed of homeschoolers (or been guilty of boxing someone into a stereotype myself). We joke about wearing denim jumpers, but how often have you been asked one of the following questions?

When do your kids get their socialization? 

Do you wear your pajamas all day? 

How do you do it? You must have so much patience!

Are you qualified to teach your children? 


If you are tired of the crazy questions and want to set the stereotypes straight, there is a fabulous way to let your voice be heard – the Smashing Homeschool Stereotypes Survey. In exchange for your responses, you will receive over $100 worth of homeschool subscriptions (no boring PDFs) PLUS a chance of winning $1000 cash.

The survey will take about 30 minutes to complete, but at the end you will be rewarded AND be entered to win $1000 cash (yes, please!). 

Why complete this survey?

  • Immediate access to over $100 worth of homeschool resources ranging from vocabulary and art to sign language and virtual field trips for all ages PreK to high school. FREE to all respondents — no strings attached.
  • A chance to win $1000 cash!
  • This survey is a chance to let your voice be heard. Let’s set the record straight about who American homeschoolers are — who YOU are — and what you REALLY value as a home educator. Enough of stale stereotypes and cookie cutter assumptions! This is your chance to reveal the vibrant diversity of the homeschool community.

Every respondent who completes the survey will receive over $100 worth of valuable homeschool materials absolutely free. These gifts are not PDFs you will download and forget about next week but access to top-notch videos, online courses, and live, interactive events that will enrich your language arts, history, art, and science lessons. Immediately after you complete the survey, you will have all the details needed to start your free subscriptions and enjoy these no-strings-attached perks.

Take the survey, and then get your kids settled around the computer to enjoy their free art, sign language, and vocabulary lessons. What exactly is included?

1. A free 60-day Field Trip Zoom subscription — choose from nationally acclaimed zoos, science centers, aquariums, and historic sites located all over the USA. The best part is you don’t even have to leave home. All you need to experience these live virtual field trips is the free access provided after you complete the survey and an internet connection. You can even show up in your pajamas if you like! Field Trip Zoom is getting rave reviews from the homeschoolers who attend. Some moms are rearranging their homeschool schedules just to fit in all the live events their kids can’t wait to participate in.

2. Words That Matter – complete 12-week vocabulary program with three grade levels covering all of your children grades 3-12! Build responsibility as kids boost their word power. This online curriculum is designed to be used independently by students with only minimal input from you, the parent.

3. Atelier Art Online – make art painless  with a free quarter of online visual art instruction with 8 options for ages 4 to 16. Excellently crafted video lessons guide your children through essential elements and principles of art including line, color, space, shape, texture, pattern, and balance. Students will learn drawing techniques, explore different art mediums, and be exposed to various periods of art history. With this subscription, there are no more reasons to avoid art!

4. American Sign Language (ASL) from Dawn Sign Press – online access to their full collection of six fairy tales (25 minutes each), brilliantly retold with modern twists and performed entirely in American Sign Language by a deaf cast. Kids of all ages will love the stories in the Once Upon a Sign series and will master several signs by the conclusion of each video.

5. Homeschool Planet digital homeschool planner – To make homeschool scheduling and recordkeeping stress-free, you get free 2 month access to a state-of-the-art, digital homeschool planner called Homeschool Planet. This powerful tool makes it a breeze do to lesson planning, track attendance, record grades, and even make transcripts. Select the daily digest option to send family members reminders of assignments or chores. You can even view and edit your calendar on your smartphone or tablet. This tool is going to rocket your productivity so you have even more time to enjoy all the great freebies you get when you complete the survey.

One lucky homeschool parent is going to win our big $1000 cash prize! Yes! $1000 CASH. Sure, you can spend it on your homeschool, buying curriculum, bookshelves, or a new computer for the kids. Or you can put that towards an amazing family vacation, pay off debt, or buy new tires. How you spend it is totally up to you if your 30 minute investment in this survey pays off with the BIG WIN.

So go let your voice be heard on the survey and claim your freebies! Oh, and good luck on that $1000 cash prize. Someone has to win! Why not you?!

Fine print: 

The survey is open to any adult residing in America (excepting RI and D.C.) who is currently homeschooling at least one child. You have until February 28 to complete the survey and be eligible to win the grand prize of $1000. Free gifts must be redeemed no later than May 1, 2017. Please see all terms and privacy policy for additional details.

  • http://homeschool.marketing/sweepstakes-terms-conditions/
  • http://homeschool.marketing/privacy-policy/

The Beauty of Homeschooling is…

water ballon with school bus driving by

There’s something incredibly and splendidly wonderful to see your kids running around the front yard, chucking water balloons at each other with visiting family, and watch the school bus drive by. It feels a bit mean and exhilarating all at the same time. 

Such is the beauty of homeschooling. A full day of fun in the sun and a chance to enjoy the gorgeous weather while we have it. 

And yes, I had to take a picture of the bus driving past when I heard it coming up the road. Because THIS is one of those moments that I want to have a definite image of for days that are tough. 

Homeschooling has some wonderful, wonderful moments. 

Atomic Cookie Skillet Models

atomic cookie skillet model - hands on way to learn about atoms and the periodic table

One of the things that I want science to be (or any subject) is FUN. If there are opportunities to do something hands-on that will tie in with a lesson and make it ‘stick’ – well, count me in.

This year our fifth grader is studying Chemistry using Christian Kids Explore Chemistry (aff link). To understand how atoms look, we decided to go the edible route and follow an idea in our lesson on atomic numbers – atomic cookies. We are big proponents of making cookie skillets in our house, so the bigger the atom model, the better!

Note: In an effort to ensure I had enough different colored M&M’s, I may have gone a wee bit overboard at the store trying to find bags of them. If the store would QUIT MOVING the candy, it would also be extremely handy. I ended up with a fall bag, Christmas bag, and a mixed bag, as well as Reese’s Pieces. Just because.

If you’d like to share in the yumminess, you can use the recipe below and make your own as well.

atomic cookie skillet - hands on learning about atoms {%{% Homeschool Creations 2015

Atomic Cookie Skillet Recipe

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp corn syrup or honey
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • dash of cinnamon
  • 2 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • 7” cast iron skillet (we have this set of 2 aff link)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat eggs and add remaining ingredients in order listed, mixing well. Place a chunk of the dough into the center of the skillet and press down, leaving some room around the edges for spreading while baking.

atomic cookie skillet - hands on learning about atoms {%{% Homeschool Creations 2015-2

Create a nucleus using the correct number of protons and neutrons. Place them close together in the center of your cookie dough. You’ll have to decide which color you’d like to have representing protons and neutrons. Each atom has a specific atomic number (i.e. oxygen has an atomic number of 8, so there would be 8 protons and 8 neutrons as a part of the nucleus).

atomic cookie skillet - hands on learning about atoms {%{% Homeschool Creations 2015-3

Once your nucleus is in place, choose a different colored M&M to create your electrons and place them along the outer edge of the cookie. Use the same number of electrons as the atomic number (so oxygen would be 8, the same as the protons and neutrons in the nucleus).

atomic cookie skillet - hands on learning about atoms {%{% Homeschool Creations 2015-4

Marvel at the yumminess that will be yours in less than 15 minutes and see if you can identify the different atoms that you created. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the cookie is baked to you liking (ours took between 14-15 minutes).

atomic cookie skillet - hands on learning about atoms {%{% Homeschool Creations 2015-5

Enjoy your atomic cookie skillets! Can you guess which atom models we made above? (Hint: count the nucleus or electrons and check your periodic table). And if any of you decide to make an atom representing gold (79), I’d really like to see pictures of that model. Or eat it with you.

Note: You can also  make monster cookies with this recipe. Double the ingredients and add in 1 cup of M&M’s and 1 cup chocolate chips. Use an ice cream scoop to portion on cookie sheet and bake 12-15 minutes.


Building Atom Models

Building atom models is a fun way for children to get a hands-on look at chemistry. Only a few items are needed to create a 3D example of an atom.

Looking for another hands-on idea for learning about atoms? Building atom models is an easy and memorable way to work on chemistry. 


Atomic cookie model - a fun, hands-on way to learn about atoms and the periodic table


Yarn Owl Craft Tutorial

yarn owl craft tutorial from Homeschool Creations

We have owls of all sizes in the works at the moment, because this yarn owl craft is just too cute!! We started out with one size of owls, but quickly ended up trying a few different sizes as well, especially when the googly eyes, felt, and yarn were in abundance!

The girls initially made something similar while we were camping, but we tweaked it to make it easier – and cuter!

Yarn Owl Craft Tutorial

Want to make one (or four) as well? I promise these are so very cute and will make some great decorations around the house. Picture a little owl family nestled in the corner of a bookcase…

Yarn Owl Craft tutorial {%{% Homeschool Creations 2015

Supplies needed:

  • felt: yellow, orange, brown (white optional)
  • Elmer’s glue
  • dark brown yarn – we chose a multi-colored version)
  • googly eyes
  • 2.5” Styrofoam balls (we also have 2” and 1.5” that we’re trying out)
  • scissors

Yarn Owl Craft tutorial {%{% Homeschool Creations 2015-2

Based on the size of your styrofoam ball, cut your felt to size: wings, feet, beak, and circles for around the eyes.

Yarn Owl Craft tutorial {%{% Homeschool Creations 2015-3

Lay them out – and start picturing how cute this little owl is going to be.

Yarn Owl Craft tutorial {%{% Homeschool Creations 2015-15

Use the scissors to shave a flat area onto the bottom part of the styrofoam ball (if you can figure out where the bottom is…). You’ll need this area to make the owl stand without rolling over.

Yarn Owl Craft tutorial {%{% Homeschool Creations 2015-4

Use glue to stick the feet onto the flat area of the styrofoam ball. Wait a few minutes to let the glue dry.

Yarn Owl Craft tutorial {%{% Homeschool Creations 2015-5

Apply a small circle of glue to the bottom area and being coiling the yarn in a circle.

Yarn Owl Craft tutorial {%{% Homeschool Creations 2015-6

Continue coiling and secure with a little glue. When you get closer to the top of the feet, begin wrapping the yarn around the opposite side of the felt feet, so you can wrap the yarn around the remainder of the styrofoam ball.

Yarn Owl Craft tutorial {%{% Homeschool Creations 2015-7

Secure with just a little bit more glue, but the styrofoam ball will hold the yarn well as you continue to wrap the yarn around the ball.

Yarn Owl Craft tutorial {%{% Homeschool Creations 2015-8

As you get closer to the top part of the ball where it gets smaller in size, use a little bit of glue to begin securing the yarn again.

Yarn Owl Craft tutorial {%{% Homeschool Creations 2015-9

Continue wrapping, watching for gaps in the yarn so you don’t see any of the styrofoam ball through the yarn.

Yarn Owl Craft tutorial {%{% Homeschool Creations 2015-10

Wrap some more.

Yarn Owl Craft tutorial {%{% Homeschool Creations 2015-11

Finish up the remainder of the coiling and wrapping, securing with glue until every area of the ball is covered.

Yarn Owl Craft tutorial {%{% Homeschool Creations 2015-12

Stand your little owl buddy up and prepare him/her for finishing.

Yarn Owl Craft tutorial {%{% Homeschool Creations 2015-13

Add your owl’s eyes, beak, and wings. and then pull out the rest of your supplies – because you are going to want to make more of these little cuties!

yarn owl craft tutorial from Homeschool Creations