5 Tips on Beginning School

apples-3616102__480It seems like summer has flown by (again!) and I like to start out the year with a few tips that I liked to do with my children.

  1. Begin the day with something fun. How about a fun read-aloud or a favorite breakfast? Not sure what books would be good? Here are some titles to consider: Swiss Family Robinson; The Great Brain; The Secret Garden; Caddie Woodlawn; Little House in the Big Woods; Miracles on Maple Hill are all books that the family will enjoy.
  2. Let your children know what you expect of them. I thought it was important to come to class dressed (no pajamas). This may not be the case in your house, so do not mention it if does not apply. We also discussed the importance of a good attitude and completing assignments cheerfully and on time.
  3. Get out the school supplies and let your son/ daughter label and organize their things. Let them choose what color notebooks they want for math, science, history, reading, etc. They can decorate their binders or notebooks too.
  4. Start out with a few subjects and gradually add more as the week progresses. We always had reading and math each day and started the year off with these. I would include a fun outdoor activity that was science related (a nature hunt or examining something such as a plant) and would try to end the day with a game of some sort for PE such as bike riding or swimming.
  5. Celebrate the first week of completing school with a favorite movie and some popcorn or go out for a treat.

Have a great year!  ~Lisa~




Fun Summer Outdoor Ideas


Summer is here and that means more free time for your children. How can you help them find more constructive things to do than sit in the house and play video games? How about trying some of the following ideas?

Bike, scooter riding– You can also tackle safety topics and have this crossed off your list for school should you need to teach this. (In Ohio it is a requirement.)

Water activities– Water table, running through a sprinkler, squirt guns, water balloons, are all fun ways to be active AND cool.

Sidewalk activities– Hopscotch, sidewalk chalk, sidewalk paint, drawing a “road” with chalk for the children to drive their bikes and scooters along will keep the children busy.

Reading books– How about putting out a blanket under a tree and providing ice cold water and some fruit to nibble on while enjoying a book? Do you have a porch? What about letting your youngster set up a “library” there? With a medium-sized plastic bin, a pencil, and some index cards for customers to check out a book,¬† your daughter/son can act as a librarian and have family and friends check out books. The books don’t have to leave your house unless you want them to do so.

Picnic lunch– My mom would pack us a lunch, put it in a brown paper bag, and send us outside to eat at the outdoor table. I enjoyed doing that since I felt like I was on an adventure. You make it as simple or as elaborate as you wish.

Make a fort- This can be indoors or outdoors. With a couple of sheets for the shelter and a few old pillows to sit upon, your son will have a blast! Your daughter might decide to decorate the inside of it and never want to come out. ūüôā

Enjoy your day!  ~Lisa~





Nature journals

Living here in Ohio is wonderful because we have four seasons and we can take advantage of the days by observing how plants, animals, and weather changes as the seasons pass. I think it is important for children to be outside as often as possible, for as long as possible.

One idea for your children to do something outside is to keep a nature journal. These journals are a way to not only observe, but also to write, take notes, draw, and respond to the world around them.  This can be done seasonally, weather permitting. I found some great resources to help you get started with this and explain it in more detail.

Keeping a Nature Journal, Clare Walker LeslieScreen Shot 2018-05-28 at 5.32.50 PM

Here is a blog post that describes what a nature journal is and how-to steps by Rhythms of Play

If you don’t have the time or inclination to make a journal, you can also purchase one. This is a nice journal to get you started. My Nature Journal: A Personal Nature Guide for Young People, Adrienne Olmstead

Nature journals can be for ALL ages, including you! You think you’d like to try it? Here are some ideas and tips that will come in handy! click here

One thing you will need in addition to a journal and items to sketch with and perhaps color are some pocket guides to have on hand or take along if you go somewhere. I have a variety of them ranging from wildflowers to rocks and minerals to animal tracks. In this electronic age, you can even get Ipod/smart phone apps such as bird or leaf identification. I love it! When I went out west my husband I took ibird with us and were able to identify scrub jays and ospreys. There were some small birds we were unsure of so we played the call of a warbler and you should have seen all the birds come near the feeder where we were for a closer look to see what strange bird was making that sound!

Here are some various paperback guides that are compact and lightweight. Golden Guides are easy and will help you get started with nature journaling. I only listed a few since there are many to choose from and it will depend upon what you want to study.


Reptiles and Amphibians


And here are resources to use when you get further along on your nature observations and identifications.

Handbook of Nature Study, Anna Comstock This book has been in use for a long time and has recently been reprinted. It has fantastic descriptions of the plants as well as observations that can be modeled for younger children by reading it aloud. This can be used independently by older students. Look at the Handbook of Nature Study blog that uses this book for its newsletters and ideas.

The Nature Handbook: A Guide to Observing the Great Outdoors, Ernest H. Williams- actual photographs and ecosystems where you would find them

Are your children unsure about how to draw something? Here are some books that will help get you started.

I Can Draw Animals, Ray Gibson (for beginning artists)

I Can Draw Animals, Tony Tallarico (for experienced artists)

Enjoy the nice days and feel to post a journal entry of what your naturalists (and you) chose to draw and study.

Homeschool Must-Haves



When I first began homeschooling I thought there were so many things I needed to educate my sons. I needed the right curricula, a schoolroom, desks, a chalkboard (yes, I am that old!), and a wall of bookcases to hold all of our books. (The picture to the left is something I would have enjoyed having at my house.)

I learned along the way that¬†no curriculum is perfect; my kitchen became our schoolroom, and a chalkboard wasn’t necessary to teach (although someone gave me one several years¬†into my teaching at home lol¬†). You will notice I am not listing a lot of curricula in this post because I believe that is so much to choose from and it depends upon your philosophy of education and your teaching style. However, here is my list of MUST- HAVES with a few curriculum recommendations sprinkled throughout…

A love for learning- If you do not enjoy learning and want to impart ideas or opportunities for your child to grow, then homeschooling is arduous and difficult. Is it always easy? NO! But, I would say that without having my children’s best interests at heart, looking for ways to encourage a sense of curiosity and confidence, and wanting to see them succeed, I don’t think I could have successfully homeschooled them all the way through to graduation.

Planning Time- Carve some time into your schedule so that you can plan what you want to teach and what activities you would like your child to participate in outside of your home. Without a plan, it is hard to see things through to completion. Even if you are a relaxed or an unschooling family, you still want to have a goal in mind. Take for instance planting a garden and tending it; you have to know when the soil needs to be tilled and seeds put into the ground.  Without some thought and planning, time gets away from us.

Setting a schedule- This doesn’t have to be rigid but start¬†your school day at a certain time, whether that be 8:00 or noon, let your son or daughter know that school begins and all else is to be done later.¬† Have a time you will end, otherwise, you will burn you and your child out.

Living Books-¬†Perhaps you have not heard that term before, but it is a fabulous way of describing good books that draw you into the story and don’t let you go until you have read the very last page!¬† ¬†Simply Charlotte Mason,¬†¬†Sonlight, and¬†Memoria Press¬†all have terrific booklists and literature packages you can purchase. Or if you are on a tight budget, get titles from the library or purchase a few at a time because¬†you will want to build your own library. Having a school filled with lots and lots of books is such a wonderful way for your child to enjoy learning and develop interests. If your daughter reads a book about Sally Rider and finds her life interesting, this may spark a desire to read more about space and astronomy. You can always do a unit (mini or larger) and provide opportunities and resources to further that exploration of a topic.

A library card-¬†I know this sounds simple, and it is, but I loved and used the library weekly¬†throughout our years of homeschooling. In fact, the librarians knew all of our¬†names and still ask about my sons when I see them. Libraries are a gold mine of resources from books to movies to programs and even study rooms. See if your library has a teacher’s collection card. Our local libraries allow you to get one if you are a homeschool teacher, which affords you the opportunity to check out¬†books for a longer period of time, forgives a certain amount of overdue fines, and even puts together book¬†collections upon written request!

A good math and phonics program. Both of these, I believe, are¬†foundational to every child’s education. As far as recommendations are concerned, I think there are several solid math programs including Horizons (young students); Bob Jones, Math-U-See, and Modern Curriculum Press (multiple¬†grade levels). Teaching Textbooks begins at 3rd grade, and while I think it is a good curriculum, I am not 100% sold on it if you have a student that is going into a career that will be mathematically or scientifically based. Something more substantial such as McDougall Littel is recommended by my good friend who teaches and tutors students junior high through college.

Phonics programs such as All About Reading or the Veritas Press Phonics Museum are both good choices. Spelling U See and All About Spelling are great accompanying¬†programs once your student has learned to read. I believe in making sure a student has mastered phonics before adding a full spelling curriculum. Phonics and spelling go hand-in-hand, but we did TONS of reading and copywork¬†and, “How do¬†you spell…..?” at the beginning of learning to write.

If you are just starting out and are going the traditional route, I recommend finding a packaged curriculum to give you time to adjust to homeschooling and teaching. Cathy Duffy has an excellent resource on various curriculums called Cathy Duffy’s Top 102 Picks. Her book will help you sort through the plethora of wonderful programs there are available. Rainbow Resource also has fantastic reviews and I like to recommend people to order the catalog and read their reviews after you have narrowed your selection. I have purchased quite a few things based upon the reviews in their catalog. CBD also has reviews that help make curriculum selection easier. I appreciate the information and descriptions that are given.