Homeschool Year in Review (2015-16)

The time of year to reflect on the last year in our homeschool is upon us once again. There were some things that were really good for us, and others where I wish we’d done better. Here’s what we accomplished.

We (almost) made it through the entire Fix It! Grammar (from IEW) level 2. If I’d gone through with printing the pages of the student book instead of hand-writing them, I think we would’ve done better. As it stands, I’m pretty happy with the work we got done here. The kids learned a lot of new grammar concepts, and they continue to apply them to their own writing.

We read a lot of books, and we have quite a few literature guides ready to use next year. As read-alouds, we did:

  • Tuck Everlasting
  • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
  • Charlotte’s Web
  • Give Me Liberty

Independently, Munchkin read the entire Harry Potter series. Seahawk is working his way through The Lord of the Rings. That one’s incredibly difficult, so I’m giving him a lot of leeway as far as the time it takes to read it.

KIMG0411We studied a lot of science concepts using multiple curricula (such is the life of a reviewing family). With Visual Learning Systems, we worked through loads of different life science units including animal classification, the human nervous system, and all about plants. There were several other units that we did before our subscription to VLS ran out, too. We also talked about Dinosaurs and the Bible using a curriculum from And finally, Munchkin and I worked through several weeks’ worth of Science Shepherd Introductory Science, focusing mostly on Creation. We’ll finish this curriculum next fall.

We studied World War II (though not as thoroughly as the topic deserves). Each of the boys wrote a report on a famous WWII leader. Seahawk chose Winston Churchill and Munchkin chose Adolf Hitler. To go along with that, we’re currently reading aloud Courage and Defiance by Deborah Hopkinson. This is a true life account about the Danish resistance, and it will be my Book Club entry for July.

Logic of English flashcardsUsing Logic of English, we learned several phonemes and spelling rules (especially important for Seahawk). This was an easy to implement, yet still very thorough English curriculum. We made it through a few weeks’ worth of lessons, and we will definitely be using it in the fall as well.

The boys are still working on their novels that they started when we reviewed the writing curriculum Here to Help Learning. I’ve given them the task of finishing those up by the end of the summer.

For math this year, we’ve been using textbooks (circa 2002, but math doesn’t really change all that much) that I purchased from Amazon. The boys are each about half to two-thirds done, and they’re working all summer long to finish those up in preparation of moving to the next grade level at the end of the summer. Additionally, we used A+ Interactive Math Mini Lessons. Seahawk mastered decimals while Munchkin learned to read an analog clock more easily. Thanks to Times Tales, the boys also finally really mastered the times tables. They’re still a little slower than I’d like, but at least they know them now.times tales collage

Seahawk has been practicing his drawing skills using ARTistic Pursuits. He’s really enjoying this book and plans to finish it on his own (it’s designed to be student-independent). In a couple of years, Munchkin will get to use it.

I think that’s about it. As you’re working through all the different months, sometimes it doesn’t feel like you’re accomplishing much, but then when the year-end post comes around, it easy to see that quite a bit actually did get done. This is especially true doing homeschool the way we do, without a boxed curriculum. (The idea of one of those is very tempting to me, but with two school-age kids, and another one coming up quickly behind them, it’s out of the question budget-wise. I’m so thankful for the Schoolhouse Review Crew for giving us the opportunity to use so many things we wouldn’t otherwise be able to!)

This week, several other members of the Review Crew are reflecting on their own homeschool years. Click the banner below to be taken to the roundup post on the crew blog.


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Recipe: Baked Ziti

Baked Ziti Recipe

Baked Ziti is one of those dishes that most of my family has always enjoyed – everyone but Munchkin. Since he really dislikes it when made traditionally, I rarely served it. But then I came across a recipe on AllRecipes that I thought might make him like it more. It called for Provolone instead of Ricotta; other than that, it was practically the same. So I made it one night, and it was a huge hit! We all like baked ziti this way much better than the “lasagna but with bite size noodles” way. Enjoy!

Baked Ziti

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 40 minutes

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef or turkey (or a wide variety of chunky vegetables – mushrooms, zucchini, carrots, etc)
  • 1 jar (28 ounces) spaghetti sauce (or equivalent homemade)
  • 1 pound bite-size pasta, any shape
  • 6 slices provolone cheese
  • 6 tbsp sour cream
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  1. Brown meat or cook vegetables until done. Add spaghetti sauce and simmer while the pasta cooks.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions, draining it at the lowest recommended cooking time. You’ll be baking it after this, so even if you prefer softer pasta, drain it now. It will continue to cook in the oven.
  3. Add pasta to sauce and combine well.
  4. In a 13×9 baking dish coated with cooking spray, add half the pasta. Layer the provolone slices over the top, then top each one with a tablespoon of sour cream. Spread the sour cream evenly over the whole dish.
  5. Add the other half of the pasta. Top with the mozzarella and Parmesan.
  6. Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes or 425 F for 20 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the whole dish is hot and bubbly.


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The Plague of the Plastic Grocery Bag

the plague of the plastic grocery bag | ladybug daydreams

If there’s something I really dislike, it’s a plastic grocery bag (any single use plastic, really, but especially grocery bags). I know they have their purpose, but they’re horrifying nonetheless. They can easily take over your house, and you always seem to get more of them than you can possibly reuse when you go to the store. And because they’re so inexpensive for the stores to purchase, they use them willy-nilly for every little thing. There’s very little impetus for the employees to worry about filling a bag because it doesn’t matter to them. I don’t know if the stores still train their employees in how to bag groceries, but I suspect not based on the bags they place in my cart. (When I was training as a grocery cashier back in 2001, filling a bag properly was part of what we were tested on before we were allowed to begin work.) Not only do they not fill the bags completely when you buy several things, but they often don’t even give you the option of refusing a bag for just one or two items like they did when I worked in the industry.

I’ve always been kind of frustrated with the situation surrounding the bags, especially after a trip to “Junk Mountain” (aka the local landfill) we took a few years back, but it’s always been more an irritation rather than something overly outrageous. There was a situation this week that really pushed this issue over the top for me, though. We were at the grocery store buying just a couple of things for dinner (it was between big shopping trips, which we do at a less expensive store). We had three items – five if you count each zucchini separately. The cashier used four grocery bags for our three items. I wish I was kidding. Granted, some of the items were on the heavier side (a five-pound bag of rice), but not so heavy that they required their own bag. And definitely not heavy enough to require double bagging (which is how we ended up with four bags for three items). That kind of wastefulness just reeks of a pandemic.

I know there’s not much I can do about this problem (outside of using my own reusable bags, which I always remember for our bigger trips and rarely remember for the smaller ones, unfortunately). But maybe through my little corner of the internet, I can raise just a smidge of awareness. It’s not much, but it’s something. So before you move on from here today, I want to offer a few statistics. Maybe these will help you (and me) remember to bring those reusable bags for even the smallest of shopping trips.

  • Each year, the United States uses 30 billion plastic bags. That amount of consumption requires 12 million barrels of oil.
  • Worldwide, it’s estimated that over 500 billion plastic bags are used annually. This means there are almost 1 million bags used every minute.
  • Four out of five shopping bags used in the US is plastic.
  • Plastic bags cause over 100,000 marine life deaths each year when the animals mistake them for food.
  • The average family accumulates 60 bags in only four trips to the grocery store.
  • Each reusable bag you use has the potential to eliminate 1,000 (or more) plastic bags over its lifetime.
  • It is estimated that only 3% of plastic grocery bags is recycled.
  • A sturdy, reusable bag only needs to be used 11 times to have a lower environmental impact than 11 plastic bags.


For more information, you can also visit This is a good source for information on the destructiveness of plastic bags and water bottles, and also options for helping you to reduce your use of these items. They also have pages learning to create a zero-waste home (something we’ve strived for in the past, but seems impossible, at least in our current location) and they sell a lot of reusable products.

Another option for reusable things for around the house is something I’ve read a few times over on The Frugal Girl (here’s the direct link to the specific post). It’s called the Mighty Fix, offered by Mighty Nest, and for $10 a month, they send you one eco-friendly item that’s more than $10 in value with free shipping. I’ve yet to try it, but the idea really appeals to me. In addition to this subscription service, you can buy just the things you want from Mighty Nest as well.

Now that I’ve been up on my soapbox for a while, let me leave you with a laugh. While the following comics are about the same topic I’ve discussed today, it’s a much lighter take on the situation. Special thanks to my husband for allowing me to share his creative work today.

shopping bag strips(Casey and Kyle copyright 2016 Will Robertson)


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Give Me Liberty (Progeny Press Review)

Progeny Press is one of those companies that I always request to review when the opportunity arises. This will be my third time reviewing one of their literature guides, and as always, I was very impressed with it.

For the past few weeks, we’ve been working through the Give Me Liberty E-guide, which goes with the novel of the same name. Give Me Liberty, written by L.M. Elliott, tells the story of 13-year-old Nathaniel Dunn, an indentured servant living in Revolutionary War-era Virginia. His mother died on the ship to America and his father abandoned him upon arrival. His master is broke and selling off all possessions, including the staff. This is where the novel starts (at the sale). Nathaniel is sold to a man called Owen, who begins beating the boy before he’s even completed the transaction. A kindly schoolmaster, Basil, steps in and purchases Nathaniel from Owen and trains him in carriage making. As Nathaniel and Basil continue to work together and bond, other colonists begin the uprising that eventually leads to the Revolutionary War. As this is happening all around Nathaniel, he has some serious decisions to make. Should he join the Rebels? Stay loyal to the throne of England? And how will his life change if the Revolutionaries are successful?

The Give Me Liberty E-guide is designed for middle-school age students, which corresponds precisely with the book (we found it in the “Young Adult” section of our library, which is their way of saying “Teen”). It’s a bit more difficult than the upper elementary guides (which we’ve only used one of – Little House in the Big Woods), but not terribly hard. It covers things such as vocabulary, reading comprehension, critical thinking, writing tools (similes, metaphors, etc), and “Digging Deeper,” which involves looking at themes in the novel and drawing biblical truths from them.

There are a couple of different ways you can have your student use the E-guides from Progeny Press. The purchase of the E-guides gives you an instantly-available, downloadable, interactive PDF. Interactive is the key word there. Because it’s interactive, rather than flattened, your child can use the computer and type their answers right into the document.

Or, you can make it “old school” and simply print off the pages, make a notebook by placing the printouts in a binder or folder (or binding them with comb binding or something similar), and then have your child write their answers on the paper. We chose to use the guide this way; other than when absolutely necessary, I prefer using “real” things for the boys’ school over screen things. There’s nothing inherently wrong with computers and smartphones and tablets, but there’s a part of me that prefers to keep my kids innocent from those things for as long as possible. (They use them, but not for every little thing.) Plus, I like having the printed documentation that they actually did the work. (My state doesn’t require it of homeschoolers, but I like to have it on hand “just in case” anyway.)

Once you decide which way to use the E-guide itself, you have to decide how to pair it with the novel. Progeny Press typically suggests reading the whole book and then coming back to the guide, but we’ve never done it that way. It seems to me that it would be incredibly difficult for a child to read a whole novel and then try to remember what they read in the beginning with enough detail to answer in-depth questions. So we always read the section as a read-aloud (in the case of Give Me Liberty, it’s 5-chapter chunks; each chapter is fairly short, so the 5-chapter section was 30-40 pages long – fairly easy to read in one or two sittings). We did the reading at the beginning of the week and then the boys worked through the subsequent worksheet pages for several days afterwards. I’d have them do one section (vocabulary, comprehension, digging deeper, etc) per day. If a section was especially long or complicated, I’d allow them an extra day to work it over. Then we’d do it all again.

As with our other study guides from Progeny Press, I was definitely not disappointed with the Give Me Liberty E-guide. I love the intense study that this company puts into their study guides. It really takes reading to the next level for kids.

The Give Me Liberty E-guide is designed for middle school students (grades 6-8), but Progeny Press also has guides for Lower Elementary, Upper Elementary, and High School. Make sure to check out the other reviews to learn all about the differences between the different levels. For more of my thoughts on Progeny Press, you can read my reviews of the Little House in the Big Woods E-guide and the Tuck Everlasting E-guide.


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The Glass Castle (book review for middle grades)

The Glass Castle review

It’s not often that a review from the Schoolhouse Review Crew comes through that doesn’t really involve me at all. But this one was just that: a book for middle-school age kids. Because my middle schooler isn’t all that keen on voluntary reading, Munchkin, who is finishing up 4th grade (but reads and comprehends at a much higher level), was the beneficiary of this book.

The Glass Castle by Trisha White Priebe and Jerry B. Jenkins (famous as the co-writer of the Left Behind series) is published by Shiloh Run Press and is a lovely hard-cover book. The cover is printed rather than having a dust jacket, which can be good or bad depending on your viewpoint (a dust jacket can protect the book, but it can also get lost or damaged itself). The book has 41 chapters, but that’s not something a reader of this caliber (middle grades) should be afraid of. Each one is fairly short, and the story is such that it’s a real page turner (at least, that’s my impression considering my 9 year old read this book in about 3 days).

Since I didn’t actually read this book myself, I’m going to turn the review over to Munchkin at this point. Here are his thoughts.


The Glass Castle by Trisha White and Jerry Jenkins_zpsiqfvktgjThe book is about a girl named Avery. She is 13 years old and has a 3 year old brother named Henry. Avery gets captured while she’s out in the woods on her birthday and brought to a castle. While she’s there, she meets Kate, Kendrick, and Tuck. These characters are all 13, like Avery. They live at The Glass Castle, which is a castle where an evil king keeps children because one of them might end up being the heir to his throne. The king had a child who “died” about 13 years before the book takes place, so he’s not sure which child in his kingdom of this age is or might be his heir. All that said, the king is actually a fairly minor character. Instead, the book focuses on the children and how they run the castle’s day-to-day operations. They make their own food and clothes, as well as the king and queen’s crowns.

Avery can see her father’s home from the castle, so one day she escapes and goes there only to find that her father no longer lives there. So she goes back to the castle. She’s so sad that her dad isn’t there anymore that she decides to live at the castle, at least through the end of this book (there is a sequel coming in Fall 2016).

I really liked this book. The plot was exciting, and the characters were neat. My favorite character was Henry, even though he’s only in the first chapter. I like him best because he’s tiny and funny. The other characters were pretty okay. They were likeable enough, but I’m not sure they felt “real.” I was very surprised to find out Avery’s dad didn’t live in the house anymore. I felt kind of sad for Avery when she discovered that. If I was in her same situation, I probably would have done the same thing (gone back to the castle).

I liked this book so much that I’m definitely looking forward to the next one. Lucky for me, my birthday is in the fall!


So there you go. Right from the “mouth” of a child in the proper age range of this book, his review. (And I think he did a good job considering it’s his first time reviewing something on his own!)

Other Schoolhouse Review Crew members and their children are writing about The Glass Castle this week, so make sure to read those reviews, too!


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Salmon Cakes (recipe)

salmon cakes

There are probably as many recipes for fish cakes as there are cooks who make them. I recently came across one for salmon cakes that included Rice Krispies, but we didn’t have any on hand. I decided to try making it using bread crumbs instead, since the cereal was the only ingredient we didn’t already have. When I got it all mixed together, I could tell they were going to try to fall apart on me (which seems to happen all the time with fish cake recipes as they’re written), so I added a little bit of mayonnaise to help them hold together better. It worked like a charm! Now these delicious patties are one of our favorite easy go-to lunches; it’s not much harder than a sandwich (especially in my house where everyone likes a different kind), but it gives us a nice hot lunch that feels more like a meal than a lot of other options. I hope you like it too.

If you don’t like salmon, or just don’t have any in the house, this could be made just as easily with tuna.

Salmon Cakes

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 15 minutes

Makes 9 patties

  • 5 cans salmon (5 ounces each), drained
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp dill weed
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 3/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup reduced fat mayonnaise
  1. In a large bowl, beat the eggs.
  2. Mix in bread crumbs, dill weed, and mustard to create a slurry.
  3. Add salmon and combine well.
  4. Stir in mayo to create a paste-like mixture (think meatballs or meatloaf).
  5. Shape mixture into balls, then flatten into patties. I usually get 9 decent sized cakes from this recipe, but you could easily make smaller ones for a side dish instead of these main-dish sized ones.
  6. Saute in hot oil 5-7 minutes per side, until golden brown and heated through.


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Book Release: Casey and Kyle – I Think We’re Gonna Need More Towels!!!


A few weeks ago, Will’s new book hit the market. Casey and Kyle: I Think We’re Going to Need More Towels!!! is the fourth comic book featuring his characters. To celebrate, we had a book launch party at the library. They graciously offered not only to let us use the room for free, but to be the official hosts for the party. This meant that we were included in all of their email blasts, on the official calendar, and got a spot on the reader board for a few days prior to the event. They even purchased a cake with the book cover on it!

We provided a giveaway (Will donated two of his original “Sunday” cartoons as prizes) and a few games: draw your own Casey and Kyle, “The Rejected Idea Toss” (bean bag toss with crumpled paper instead of bean bags), and get your picture taken with Casey and Kyle (we had life-size cutouts of the characters made).

There was quite a good turnout (better than Beverly Cleary’s 100th birthday celebration, but not quite as many as the Elephant and Piggie party). There was a lot of good feedback from the librarians as well as fans of the books, and Will sold quite a few books which was a blessing for our family, too.

If you’re interested in learning more about Casey and Kyle, check out Will’s website. If you’d like to buy a book, you can do that in his online store (or email me, wmr1601(at)gmail(dot)com, and I can hook you up).


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Book Club: Founding Mothers

Book Club with Lori

I can’t believe it’s June already!! But alas, alack, it is, and the beginning of the month means another Book Club post. This time, the book is Founding Mothers by Cokie Roberts. This book tells the stories of the women behind the men during the American Revolution.

As with all book club posts, a spoiler alert is in affect (although with a book like this, historical non-fiction, there’s not much to spoil unless you aren’t familiar with American history).

There are more questions in the discussion guide than I’m answering today. If you read Founding Mothers, I encourage you to look over them all and work through the questions on your own.

1. What inspired you to read Founding Mothers? Why do you suppose the contributions of women in the Revolutionary era have been largely overlooked by historians? Would the founding of the nation have occurred without these women?

I would never have chosen to read this book on my own (I’m typically a fiction type of girl). Thanks to my friend and co-host, Lori, I was challenged to read this book for our virtual book club.

I think there are a few reasons that the contributions of women in the Revolutionary War era have been overlooked. First (and while this may end up sounding sexist, that’s not my intention; it’s just true), the very fact that they were women during an era when men were running the show caused them to be “forgotten.” Second, as Ms. Roberts points out several times in the book, a lot of these women didn’t leave behind any information about themselves. There’s very little to go on in writing about their history.

Would the founding of America happened without them? Of course. While marriages are important, they’re not vital. (And I don’t mean that in the context of casual relationships; I mean it as marriage vs. no marriage.) The founding fathers would have been just as able to get done what they needed done even if they’d all been single. Would the nation be the same one it is today without the women? Probably not. But that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t exist at all.

2. Which woman would you say had the single greatest impact during the Revolution? How about during the first years of the new government?

This is a tricky one, but I’m tempted to say Martha Washington for both. She was the wife of our first official president, so that makes her a vital part of everything that happened during the time period.

3. Despite a lack of legal and social rights, including the right to own property and receive a formal education, how did the women presented in Founding Mothers assert their authority and exercise their intelligence?

This was probably one of the most fascinating things to read in this book… I don’t think it’s really any secret that women were essentially considered second-class citizens at the time of the American Revolution. The women in the book, however, were well respected by their husbands (or fathers in some cases), and therefore they (the men) treated these women well. They trusted their wives to “hold down the fort” while they were off dealing with war and/or government issues, and the wives proved themselves more than capable.

4. How did life differ for women depending on where they lived—the North versus the South, the city versus rural areas? How else did geographical circumstances impact their lives?

Geography impacted their lives a great deal, just as it impacts us today. Farmers live a very different life than suburban dwellers. The same was true in the early days of our nation. The women who lived on farms and plantations had considerably more work to get done each day. The women who lived in cities were instrumental in helping their husbands in the early days of the revolution (i.e. helping with the boycott on British goods). Each played an important, though different, role.

5. Cokie Roberts intersperses her thoughts and commentary throughout the book. Does this enhance the narrative? In what ways?

On one hand, I think it’s important that Ms. Roberts included her own thoughts in the narrative of the histories. Without it, she’d be more an “information transferrer” (that’s not really a word, but it gets my point across better than any real word I can think of) than an author writing about the time period.

On the other hand, I frequently found her commentary distracting and found it to be more problematic than helpful. But that could just be me, so I’m not prepared to say that her inclusion of it was a bad thing.


Next month, Lori and I will be discussing Courage and Defiance: Stories of Spies, Saboteurs, and Survivors in World War II Denmark by Deborah Hopkinson. I haven’t picked it up from the library yet, but I’m very fascinated by the WWII era, and the subtitle definitely piques my interest. I’m really looking forward to diving into this book.

Please be sure to visit Lori’s blog today to read her thoughts on Founding Mothers.

If you’re participating in the Book Club with us, we’d love it if you included the Book Club button on your post.

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Hey, Mama! A Planner for You (TOS Review)

This post contains affiliate links. Purchase through these links will give a small commission to me without any additional cost to you. Thank you in advance for your support.

This school year, I  couldn’t find a school planner that I really liked, so we ran our days using to-do lists. Each week, I would plan out the lessons, creating a list for each child. He would receive a new list each day (I wrote them once a week, but issued them once a day). It worked really well until about March. I’m not entirely sure what happened then, but the lists were no longer doing the trick for us. It was hard to keep everyone (myself included) focused on getting the whole job done. Therefore, when I learned that The Old Schoolhouse was looking for reviewers for the new Hey Mama! Print Schoolhouse Planner 2016-2017, I definitely wanted to give it a try. We’ve had great success with planners in the past, so I had high hopes for this one.

This review is a bit different from others, though. You see, the planner starts in July 2016, which means I haven’t technically had a chance to use it yet beyond writing future events (doctor’s appointments, birthdays, etc) in it. But despite that, I can tell simply from the time I’ve had to look it over that it will become an invaluable resource this fall.

The planner has all sorts of different types of pages:

  • yearly calendars (2016, 2017, and 2018)
  • encouraging letters from TOS publisher Gena Suarez
  • monthly calendars
  • weekly calendars (blank, so you can use and date them as needed)
  • monthly, semester, and yearly goals (several sheets of each so you can have one for each child)
  • attendance chart (again, several sheets)
  • books read log (several sheets)
  • curriculum planning sheets (several)
  • a place to record your local homeschooling contacts
  • several academic reference sheets (writing prompts, the 13 colonies, famous inventions, US Presidents and first ladies, and more)
  • an academic transcript worksheet
  • and more…

Click to enlarge

Outside of the actual calendar pages, I have two “favorites” in this planner. First are the Hey Mama! letters from Gena Suarez. There’s one on the back of the front cover, plus several distributed all throughout the planning pages. These are very encouraging little notes from a fellow homeschooling mom, and the way she writes is just so personable. I love how each starts with the phrase “Hey Mama!” It’s a warm way of greeting that reminds you that you’re a “mama,” not always a “mother.” I don’t know about you, but I really love being “mama” or “mommy” rather than the stiff, formal, disciplinarian all the time. And the homey greeting is just the tip of these letters. Each one is so encouraging; reading the words from Gena is such a blessing as she pushes us to bless our children, discipline them in love, build their character, and most importantly to teach them to be God-loving, God-fearing adults. She reminds us that we are loved by our creator and that He’s always there for us. I love these letters and look forward to rereading them as the months and weeks they were written for begin to approach.


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My second favorite pages are the informational pages about old-fashioned things. Sprinkled throughout the calendar pages (monthly and weekly) are beautiful sepia-tone photographs and information about things of old – butter churns, dibbers, pitchforks, and more. These little tidbits are so interesting to read, and they really help to remind me that it’s okay to slow down and take things as they come. Even though we live in a fast-paced world, we don’t have to live a fast-paced life.

I’m really looking forward to spending some good time with my planner this summer as I look forward to the 2016-17 school year. I’ll be glad to have some plan in place by the time we dive into school again in September. And if things end up going haywire (which would not surprise me in the least, once we get going), I’ll be glad to have this written record of what we did accomplish, even if it’s written down after the fact instead of in advance.

So, how can you get one of these planners for yourself? Well, there are two ways. First, you can order a copy of the Hey Mama! Printed planner for $29 (in the US; more for international) right from The Old Schoolhouse website. Use the promo code CREWCODE and you can get the planner for just $19 with free shipping through July 15, 2016. If you’re an international reader, the same code will get you a $10 (US) discount off of the international price.

The other option is joining (if you’re not already a member). Through that site, you have access to the digital version of the planner included in your membership, and you can print it right from the comfort of your own home (or copy shop, as the case may be). Membership to is $12.95 a month (but only $1 for the first month), or $139 for a full year (over one month free), or $250 for two years (over 4 months free). If you purchase the two-year plan by June 30, 2016, you’ll receive a tote bag full of TOS goodies (including a print copy of the planner I reviewed today!) as their gift to you. (The tote bag is very nice; I received one with my planner.)

There are over 100 other reviews of this planner on the Crew blog this week, so make sure to click over there to find out more.


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Memorial Day Unit Study

KIMG0418We spent the past two weeks (ending last Friday) learning all about Memorial Day. I found some online resources and coupled them with my new Lifetime Membership (review on that in a few weeks) to create a unit study for the big boys. We’ve always found unit studies to be our favorite way of schooling, but we haven’t done one in a long time. We were definitely overdue.

The holiday was originally called Decoration Day because it was a time to decorate the tombstones of fallen soldiers. It was first celebrated during the Civil War, and for the 100 years of its inception, it took place on May 30th (regardless of the day of the week). In the 1960s, there was a congressional order to change certain holidays to create convenient 3-day weekends for American workers; Memorial Day was one of those. Now we celebrate it on the last Monday in May, and a lot of people see it as nothing more than a time to get away and the unofficial beginning of summer. For this reason, there’s a grassroots movement to move it back to May 30th rather than keeping on the Monday for the sake of a long weekend.

For this unit study, we:

I found most of the ideas for this unit study on Free Homeschool Deals. There were even some ideas there that we didn’t get to. It ended up being an invaluable resource for me as I planned this unit study.

KIMG0417Some of our activities were done each day (copy work), some were done multiple days (writing to the soldiers – we didn’t do all of those on a single day), and several of them were done just once. I’m so glad we have our notebooking pages to help us remember all that we learned about this important American holiday.

I hope you all have a blessed Memorial Day. Take some time today to remember fallen soldiers and thank those who are still with us.


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