Thursday, November 6, 2014

Throwback Thursday (Updated) Gingerbread Houses and Architecture.

This is the very first post I ever wrote on this blog.  It was so long ago and the kids have grown so much!  I decided to go back through and add some resources I found.

We studied architecture around the world during November. We built Lego houses. We drew cities with many different elements (such as roadways, utilities, parks, stadiums, ect.). We learned about how the first towns/cities were built. (It all started with farming, they didn't have to travel for food anymore.) We went to see the lights at Temple Square and to talk about the architecture of the buildings downtown. To end this unit study we built an igloo in our front yard, thanks to all the snow.


We also built gingerbread houses. What fun!





Since this post I have found quite a few architecture resources.

Here is a graded Homeschool Architecture course.

MIT has an open coursewear  class that is completely free!

Homeschool Giveaways has a whole list!

There are many great elementary architecture resources, including this one.

Architecture is a great way to incorporate art and show kids that art is all around us.
Check out these art architecture resources:

Deep Space Sparkle


I hope you enjoy teaching your children about architecture!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Clued in Kids {A Review} Get one free!


Clued in Kids in a company that makes learning fun, easy and engaging.  They do this by creating a wide variety of Treasure Hunts.  (Check out this video to see one in action)

Stay tuned to the end to get one for free!

Some of their printable PDF treasure hunts are:

They also have preprinted ones (even some in a greeting card, that you could mail to a friend or family member.)

Christmas Treasure Hunt In A Greeting Card
Slumber Party

About The Product we received:

We were able to play with the Multiplication Dragon set and the Halloween Printable Set.

The Halloween Printable Treasure Hunt ($5.99).  This treasure hunt has 12 premade clues that either have activities such as howling at the moon or saying Boo after each sentence for so long, as well as worksheet type activities, like riddles and puzzles.  All of the activities were Halloween themed of course!  An instruction sheet and answer key is also included.

The Multiplication Dragon Printable Treasure Hunt ($19.99) Actually comes with 5 separate hunts; 2X- 6X.

Each hunt came with 12 clues that varied between math problems, riddles and puzzles. There is an instruction sheet and an answer sheet included as well.  

A day/week in our life:

Scavenger Hunts are nothing new to my kids.  We often do them for them to find their birthday presents.  They were pretty excited to complete these.  Each hunt says 8 minute prep, but my teens enjoyed putting the clues out for my 9 year old, and helping her with the treasure hunts if she needed it.  So I really didn’t have to do much!  I had her do one each week as a reward for completing her schoolwork.  (How fun that I could use something educational as a reward!) The prizes that I provided ranged from a sticker sheet to a candy bar to nothing.

Our thoughts and feelings:

Overall we loved these hunts.

I like that the clues were pre thought out and they were puzzles and riddles to solve.

One thing is that I had to be pretty creative for a few of the areas we were supposed to hide them.  For instance, the prize for one was supposed to be hidden in our mailbox.  Our mailbox is clear down the street and I didn’t want her going down there.  So we hid the clue with her shoes so she would see it when she got ready to go to the mailbox.  She does have a suggestion that you just have the kids to some type of physical activity, like jumping jacks, to earn the next clue if you have a hard time hiding it where they suggest.

For some hunts our answer sheet didn’t always match up, but it wasn’t really a big deal as each clue has the place to put it on the bottom. 

While they are PDF files, so you could reuse them, I found that my daughter would memorize the order of where they were hid.  I think after a few months we will get them out again when she has forgotten where the clues go. 

The Halloween one we will be using as an activity at our Homeschool Halloween Party.  So even though she knows where the clues go, they will be in different places than they were at our home. 

My kids love treasure hunts and I love the ease of use!

You can get the Homework Reward Treasure Hunt for free by signing up for the Clued In Kids newsletter.

Join Clued In Kids on the following Social Media:

Twitter: @cluedinkids


To see what others think of this check out this post. To see a wide variety of reviews check out our crew blog.

 Review Crew

Sunday, October 5, 2014

How I became more productive by doing less.


I have been working this year on finding balance in my life.  In an effort to find that balance, I have decided to almost completely stop multitasking. 

  • No more cooking dinner and blogging at the same time. 
  • No more paying bills while I am supposed to be helping the kids with schoolwork.
  • No more having my phone downstairs during the day.
  • No more cleaning during school hours.

Now I didn’t just stop doing those things all together.

I still have to cook, I still enjoy blogging, I still have to pay the bills and help the kids with schoolwork. 

I just focus on the task at hand and each task has been taking me less time. Instead of taking an hour to pay bills while helping kids with schoolwork at the table.  We do schoolwork for 20 minutes and I can have the weekly bills paid in 20 minutes. That saves me 20 minutes, or 1/3 of my time. Instead of cooking dinner and blogging at the same time, where cooking dinner would take 1 and a half hours and blogging would take 2 hours.  I can cook dinner in 30 minutes to 1 hour and blogging only takes about 45 minutes.  That saves me anywhere from 30-45 minutes together. Also my blog posts get more attention and I can pay more attention to details then.  And… our dinner doesn’t burn.

While often we think that multitasking saves time, I have found in many areas of my life that is actually costs me time as well as costs me giving the task my best.

I have recently found time to get my house as clean as I like it and I have organized my sewing supplies and set up a sewing area and I have even done quite a bit of mending and hemming of my pants for the cooler months.

Do you multitask?

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Preschoolers and Peace {A Schoolhouse Crew Review}


Preschoolers and Peace is a company that has written 2 ebooks.  This time we reviewed their newest one Preschoolers and Peace: Homeschooling older kids with success while loving the little ones at your feet (e-book, $2.99)

About The Company:

Preschoolers and Peace is an excellent blog written by Kendra Fletcher and Michelle White.  This blog is completely full of homeschooling ideas for many ages.  The focus is on preschoolers but many ideas work for all different ages. 

About The Product:

This e-book is a short read, I think they know us homeschooling moms don’t have very much time.  This book was written by a mother of 8 children ranging from adult to age 5.  She pulled the best of the best from the Preschoolers and Peace blog and created The Preschoolers and Peace: Homeschooling older kids with success while loving the little ones at your feet.

The book is broken down into 13 chapters along with Meal Planning 101 at the end. Each chapter is only a few pages long, which was nice since it allowed me to pick it up and put it down easily as needed.

The chapters are:

What a Homeschooling Mom Needs
Preparing Yourself to Homeschool Older Kids With Little Ones Underfoot
Planning Around Preschoolers
How Do I Keep Them Busy?
What Does a 2-Year-Old's Day Look Like?
How Do I Get Any Preschooling Done?
How Not to Just Kill Time
Circle Time: Or How We Pull the Little Ones In
Preschool Boys
When All of Your Kiddos Are Preschoolers
Preschool Chores
Planning for Preschool
When Mama is Worn Out (or Pregnant)
Meal Planning 101

A day/week in our life:

My youngest in in Kindergarten, but don’t think that means this book has nothing for me.  I actually found many helpful ideas in the book.  I am organizationally challenged as well as we have a hard time sticking to a schedule.

Most of the ideas can all be done with out purchasing anything more.   An amazing tip that I got has to do with “five things.”  You teach your little ones to do five things each day when they get up.

She talks about how to schedule with out being a slave to the schedule as well as has many scheduling ideas.

Our thoughts and feelings:

I learned a lot of things from reading this book.  Things that will help me now and I can only imagine if I would have read it while I had 2, 3, or 4 year olds under foot it would have really been a lifesaver. 

In the past I have reviewed another one of their e-books; Circle Time

Preschoolers and Peace can be found all over social media:

You Tube:

I have even listed to a few of Kendra Fletcher’s Podcasts.

To see what others think of this check out this post. To see a wide variety of reviews check out our crew blog.

 Review Crew

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Fix it Grammar ~ A Schoolhouse Crew Review.


IEW is an acronym for Institute for Excellence in Writing.  They have products for all things writing from full on courses, including teacher training to writing supplemental books.  We have used a few IEW products before and we were so excited to be able to review Fix It! Grammar: The Nose Tree [Book 1] Teacher Manual ($19) and Fix It! Grammar: The Nose Tree [Book 1]  Student Book ($15). This program is recommended for grades 3 and up.

The Teacher Manual has all 33 weeks worth of lessons, and a very organized scope and sequence with what will be learned each week as well as each day’s vocabulary words.  The manual is set up to look just like a condensed version of the student manual with notes along the margins and the corrected sentences.

The Student Manual is set up very simply.  Each week there is a Learn It Section and a Fix It Section.  Then on the adjacent page is 4 sentences (one for each day) that throughout the book make up a story.

The lessons are to be done 4 days a week.  In the Learn It section will be the grammar rule you will be learning about and a quick explanation of when to use it. Then the Fix It section which tells you to read each sentence (one a day).  Look up and write the vocabulary words.  Next it tells you what to do daily, as in the first day you will go over the first sentence and fix it with the students.  Days 2-4 the students will mark the remaining sentences on their own.  The abbreviations being used for the week are at the top of each weeks pages to make a quick and easy reference.

Then finally at the end of the week the students will rewrite the entire passage (all 4 sentences) into a separate notebook. 

In the back of the student book is flashcards that you can cut out and use for review each week. 

There are 6 books in the Fix It! Grammar series. 

The reason why I chose to start with the very beginning level is because I could use it with my 3 oldest kids.  My 4th grader has only had very basic grammar training.  My 8th grader has had some grammar training along with a writing curriculum, but nothing that focused solely on grammar.  She is also an avid reader.  My 10th grader has done 2 grammar curriculums.  I was still able to include all of them in this.  We were able to do it daily as a family.  While some of it was easy for my older two, I was glad for them to get the review.

It literally only took us 10-15 minutes a day 4 days a week to get through this.  My kids were so shocked at how little time it took that they were not always ready to stop.  I did end up letting the older two do one whole week at a time and move on with out my 4th grader as she wasn’t ready for that.

I do recommend this grammar as it is simple while being effective on both the teacher and the student.

IEW can be found all over social media

You Tube:

Click to read Crew Reviews
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Friday, September 19, 2014

My Student Logbook


I was able to review the My Student Logbook, which has turned homeschooling with my 4th grader around.

About The Company:

My Student Logbook is a company owned by a homeschooling family. They know how time consuming planning can be. 

They created a student planner that takes very little time on the part of the parents and it actually works week after week. 

They can also be found on the following social media sites:

Facebook –
You Tube -


About The Product:

My Student Logbook is a fairly simple format (YAY!!).  The very first set up took me about 5 minutes.  Each week I spend about 5 minutes (or less) updating it. 

It consists of a checklist page.  Which I call the subject flap. and a calendar page.  You take the checklist page and write all the subjects on it and attach it to the calendar page.  Then you just check off each day as you go. 


Watch this quick video that explains perfectly how to set it up

These are available in printed spiral bound format ($15) in undated, dated beginning with the school year (July) or dated beginning with the calendar year (January). The dated versions are also available as a PDF yearly license.  A single use license is $10 and a family license is $20.

The My Student Logbook can be used by kids of all ages.  I currently use it with my 9 year old.  I had originally got it to use with my oldest.  When I was planning out the school year I realized that my 9 year old had no planner at all.  I went scouring the internet for one for her and everything was too complicated, either for me, or for her.  I decided to let her use the My Student Logbook.

A day/week in our life:


When setting it up I first filled out each subject she does. Then I crossed out with a pencil what days she doesn’t have that subject.  In the little time box, I either wrote the time that the subject would start for things like outside classes or family school.  If there wasn’t a specific time like reading then I just wrote in that box how long she was supposed to read for.  Some subjects we just spend how much time we need to and they also don’t have a specific time, I left those ones blank.


The next thing I did was under what I call the subject flap is write notes about each subject.   On the same line as reading we list each book she reads as she finishes them.  On the same line as spelling we write down our goal lesson to be at by the end of the week. The same goes for math.  Under science I just write what topic we are learning about that week. 

Our thoughts and feelings:

This planner has given me just the right amount of flexibility mixed with the right amount of structure.

I believe this is something that I will purchase year after year for her and others.  It worked that well in our family.

One more thing:

Even though I ended up using this for my 4th grader when I had intended to use it for my high school age student doesn’t mean it doesn’t work there.  They have two full pages in the front of the book explaining how to use it to track and create high school transcripts. There is even a page on their website discussing this.  The planner style that I ended up going with for my highschooler just isn’t holding him accountable enough so I do plan on ordering him one as well. 

This will fit the bill for both accountability on my son’s part as well as transcript creation on my part.  For that I am grateful!

Click to read Crew Reviews

To see a wide variety of reviews check out our crew blog.

 Review Crew

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Rainbows, Hamsters and Birthdays. Oh, My!

In my life this week:

This week started off with a court appearance.  It  was just over a speeding ticket. While we were waiting there we saw the most beautiful rainbow.


We had Emily with us.  I really feel like this was a great learning experience for her.  After I saw her looking up the requirements it takes to be a judge.

Tuesday night was fun. My husband and I don’t get much time together.  Since he was home that night, we decided to have a midnight snack.  Our typical go to midnight snack is BLTs .  We made the bacon and cut the tomatoes (that we picked from our garden).  We went to get our bread to toast and we were out of bread.

IMG_5640[1]Paul had his on a hotdog bun and I daringly tried mine on Blueberry Eggos.  It was actually really good!

The rest of the week was filled with volleyball games, birthday parties and music lessons.

Katey had a friends birthday party at the pool. 


We also had a bon fire birthday party for Emily.  It was a fun teen party.  We even played night games like kick the can.




In my homeschool this week:

My 10th grader began his co-op class.  The only outside class he is in right now is Foundations. It’s a Dave Ramsey personal finance class for teens. He also works part time and has been hunting. He is keeping up in all his other subjects.  He did figure out how to hack a game and put in a cheat code so he has unlimited money.  He said it was similar to when he was using Small Basic.


My 8th grader has been slightly falling behind in her schoolwork.  She is my busy child.  She attends 4 co-op classes as well as private music lessons for guitar and piano. She is also active in 4H.  We have put in place a plan for her to get “caught back up” over our week off in a few weeks.  This makes me so glad we are trying this new homeschool schedule.


My 4th grader has done amazingly well at keeping up with her schoolwork.  We learned all about Urban Habitats in science this week.  I made the mistake of checking out some pet books from the library and she has read tons of them.  She has now decided that she wants a hamster.  She has read and researched them at the library and online.  She has even been watching how to talk your parents into letting you get a hamster video on You Tube. She had me take her to the pet store to price out her shopping list she made.  Then she came up with a plan to earn the money for a hamster.  As of now we have said not right now.  It’s just not something I have a place for.  Maybe when we move in a few months.  I am very proud of all the effort she has put into this and really her heart was only broken for a few days.  She’s moved on…

My Kindergartener has been doing his daily workbook that I made every day.  It is almost to a point where he can do it all on his own. IMG_5657[1]We have decided to add in Explode the Code book Get Ready for The Code.  He has also been loving science with The Magic School Bus.  IMG_5652[1]This week we made bird feeders and he loves looking out the window to see birds eating off of his. 

He also got his first very own library card. 


Books we read:

I’m reading Looking for Me by Beth Hoffman and Parenting the Ephraim’s Child by Deborah Talmadge.  I finished reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad. 

Tommy and Emily are both reading in Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson for Literature.

Emily is also still reading Hunger by Michael Grant.

Tommy has done all his personal reading in magazines like Backpacker and Field and Stream. This works for both of us.  He has a hard time getting into books but really enjoys magazines.  Hey, reading is reading.

Katey has read a ton of Blast off Readers on Backyard Wildlife and Caring for your pets.

Tyler has just been read to by us.  His favorite book this week was No, David.


Resources we used:

Video Text Math

Teaching Textbooks

Math U See

All About Spelling

Lightning Lit

Bridgeway Grammar


Moving Beyond the Page

Disclaimer: There are affiliate links in this post. There are also freebies. There are also just links to products without affiliate links. I'm trying to show what we did and where you can find it, not to sell you a product...although if you decide to buy one of them, please feel free to use the links and support a fellow homeschooler.


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