Poetry Teatime, Fine Art and Music for Boys

Yep, you read that right! We are starting to integrate a weekly Poetry Teatime. Julie Bogart is a veteran homeschool mama and curriculum writer, and she also taught me about Poetry Teatime. It isn’t as difficult as it sounds. Poetry, a treat and a warm beverage. I can do this! We are lacking in the poetry department and we will be slowly adding some more books to share during this time. This booklist from Read Aloud Revival is a great place to start, not just for poetry. Each week we will set aside 20 or 30 minutes in the afternoon to share this time together. Julie’s book is on my wishlist!

Fine Art and Music sounds a little fancy, but this year we are keeping it simple. I’m thinking 2 or 3 days a week for 20 minutes. That is all! Don’t make this time harder than it needs to be.

  • Recorder (Yes, I am crazy!) {images are affiliate links}

  • Chalk Pastels that go along with whatever we’re studying that week

You ARE an Artist Curriculum Bundle


Together Time

One of the biggest changes we’re making this year is doing Together Time. My plan is have this time around 9 or 9:30 each school day. In this post, I wrote about changing our curriculum plan and about our boys doing school separately. After hearing Sarah Mackenzie and Pam Barnhill talk about Morning Time, I knew this would be great for us. Together Time should be about an hour, maybe 90 minutes if we are flowing nicely. Here is a breakdown of what we’ll be doing together.


  • Memory: Doxology and Pledge of Allegiance (Fall), The Lord’s Prayer and National Anthem (Spring)
  • Read Aloud or Audio Books
  • Grapevine Studies: New Testament {affiliate}
Simple Stick Figure Studies

LOOP: Each day we will do ONE of these categories

  • Shakespeare- We are using these selections from Usborne Books (but click here {consultant} to see all that they offer).
  1. Shakespeare Gift Collection {cons}: Starting with Midsummer Night’s Dream
  2. World of Shakespeare {cons} to learn about the man himself
  • The Vault This program is from Accountable Kids, “Helping you raise money smart kids”, and we also use their chore system.
  • Art Study- We are using these tools from Usborne Books (you can click here {cons} to see all the art goodies they offer).
  1. Children’s Book of Art {cons}
  2. Famous Paintings Cards {cons}
  1. Rocks and Minerals
  2. Bald Eagles {aff}
  3. Sea Turtles {aff}
  4. Sand Dollars {aff}
Wildlife Adventures Unit Studies
Awesome Nature Unit Studies!

I Am Bringing My Basket


As we begin our sixth year of homeschooling, I feel like I may have found our groove. I don’t want to discourage new homeschoolers by saying that, but it has been a little bumpy along the way. We’ve tried many (MANY) different curriculums and learning styles. I have two boys that are 19 months apart, and you’d think this would make my life easier because I can teach them together at the same time. However, I am finally figuring out that my boys have very different needs. This year we’ll do something totally different.

Each year I would start with a huge order of curriculum and supplies, all shiny and new. By Thanksgiving (HA, more like Halloween) we’d be struggling to get done each day. By February, I’d be completely burnt out. In May new curriculum would be calling my name and I would start the research again.

About six months ago I read Teaching from Rest by Sarah Mackenzie and it was a game changer. Sarah’s book is short and sweet, but made a huge impact. I encourage all homeschool mamas to read it, especially if you are new to homeschooling. Teaching from Rest led to me explore more relaxed styles of teaching, and doing more with less. Sarah says “Just bring your basket“, you’ll need to read her post or book to find out what she means. Sarah introduced me to Pam Barnhill, and Pam taught me about Morning Time, which we call Together Time. So, over the last six months I have been easing in to this new style and Together Time. I am just Bringing my Basket!

Back to doing things different this year… Aside from Together Time (post coming soon) we will be learning individually. Joshua is starting fifth grade and is 10 1/2, he is also very independent. He is also much like his mother, ahem, so we tend to have some difficulties in working together. Nikolas will be 9 soon, and is starting fourth grade. Nikolas prefers to work one on one with me, having discussions and taking turns reading aloud. Nikolas and I will use a Charlotte Mason style of curriculum together. You can read our choices for 4th and 5th grade, including Together Time here.

I am finally realizing that it is okay to just do the basics and follow my boys’ lead. If the curriculum choices are too much, then we’ll slow down. If we aren’t enjoying a book, then we can put it back on the shelf. If we aren’t having a rewarding experience, then we can put it all down and switch gears. IT IS OKAY. I will be okay, and so will my kids. I want my family to experience rich relationships so much more than curriculum and drudgery each day. Bring your basket and start enjoying your family more.

A Super Mario Student Planner

PhotoGrid_1470319637689Joshua is starting fifth grade (WHOA-when did that happen?) and I really want him to be able to work independently. I don’t want him to have to wait on me and his [non-morning person] brother. I really wanted a simple system using a spiral notebook like Sarah and Pam talk about here to have his plan laid out for him. He prefers to work independently and we have tried for many years to do a curriculum altogether, but my boys just don’t learn the same. Another issue is that Joshua is an early riser, and he is ready to go as soon he is awake. Nikolas likes to sleep in and ease into his day, and I’ll write more about what I’m doing differently with him in another post.

I thought of using the spiral notebook but I really wanted something a little smaller, and also to have a fun design just for Joshua. He would’ve preferred Minecraft but there weren’t many quality images to use. He settled for Mario. Inside his cover I typed in the Doxology, Lord’s Prayer, National Anthem and Pledge of Allegiance, these are what we’re working on for memory during the first half of the year. In the copy I am sharing, the back and inside cover are blank so you can use them however you’d like. The inside pages have planner on one side and notes on the opposite. There are 4 different note pages, just the images are different. The planner page has 5 boxes and they can be used for subjects or each day of the week. I will be doing them by subject (as shown in the picture) for Joshua because he prefers to do one subject per day. On the note side, I will have him write new words for vocabulary and spelling, prayers, and gratitude. PhotoGrid_1471014054250

I printed the cover, then the planner pages double sided and cut them in half using this paper cutter. {consultant link} I printed enough for the first semester, so about half the school year. I used my binding machine {affiliate} to put it all together, using an acetate (overhead sheets, if you’re old school like me) sheet for the front cover and cardstock for the back cover.

I created this planner in Microsoft Publisher, and I used images that were public domain (according to Microsoft). Super Mario and all his pals are trademarks of Nintendo. I don’t intend to make money from this planner, I just wanted to share it with people that would like to use it. Please don’t sell it, just use it for your family.

These links will take you to Google so you can download yours.



If you like this planner, please let me know by commenting and sharing. I’d love to see your planner on Instagram!


A New Bible Cover for a New Bible

bible cover picsLast month, I finally purchased an ESV Journaling Bible {affiliate} and I looked for covers but couldn’t find anything that I really liked. I didn’t want a handle or closure, this isn’t a Bible that I carry anywhere but where I do the majority of my Bible study. So I searched Pinterest and found some easy (!!) tutorials. I read all of them and kind of created my own. I really love how it turned out, just don’t look too closely at those seams. I got this fabric from Fabric.com a couple years ago. It was in a fat quarter pack.

These are the tutorials I found helpful:

Life with my Littles

Stitch by Stitch

Delia Creates

Homeschool Plans for Grades 4 and 5

homeschoolplansbannerJoshua (5th Grade, Age 10.5) {edited 8.29.16}

Bible- Daily Bible Reading

History/Geography- US History Unit Studies from A Journey Through Learning (post soon)

Science-A Reason for Science Level E

Language Arts- Writers in Residence

Math- Mathematical Reasoning Level F


Nikolas (4th Grade, Age 8.10)

Bible-Winter Promise: Adventures in Sea and Sky

History/Geography-Winter Promise: Adventures in Sea and Sky

Science-Winter Promise: Adventures in Sea and Sky

Language Arts-Winter PromiseSpell Well C, A Reason for Handwriting D

Math-Mathematical Reasoning  E



Bible Study- Grapevine Studies {aff} New Testament

Nature Study-Unit Studies Rocks and Minerals, Bald Eagles, Sand Dollars, Sea Turtles {aff}

Fine Art/Music-Art Pastels from Southern Hodgepodge and Recorder

Composer Study-Zeezok Beethoven

Art History-Intro to Art * and Famous Paintings *

Shakespeare-World of Shakespeare * and Shakespeare Collection *

Memory- The Doxoloy, The Lord’s Prayer, The Pledge of Allegiance and The Star Spangled Banner


*Most of the links in this post are for reference only, but those with * after them will take you to my personal Usborne Books and More website. I am an independent consultant with Usborne and if you purchase books through my website I will earn a commission. That commission goes right back into books, just so you know. So, thanks for that!

Easing Back into School


Winter in Rio is tough…

Sunshine filled and mid-seventies…

It is odd to hear our friends and family back in the US complaining about the ridiculous heat when it is so nice here. And then, when we are covered in sweat on Christmas I’ll try to remember how lovely it is here during the winter.

We’re on a little break between school years and I haven’t ordered curriculum yet, so I decided to ease back in and do some lapbooks. We are doing some math, science and a literature study right now.

I let the boys choose which science lapbook they wanted to do. They went with Rocks and Minerals from A Journey Through Learning. I love this choice because we have loads of books and also some great rock and mineral samples to explore, but the even better thing is we don’t need anything extra. Everything we need is in the lapbook, everything we already had is just a bonus. We have this game  {affiliate} that we have had fun playing. It is nice to touch the specimens and compare them.

A while back I bought A Cricket in Times Square for Kindle and decided we should finally read it. I added the audio version to our Kindle book and we’ve been listening to a chapter a day. Tony Shaloub reads the book that is on Audible/Amazon {affiliate, you can try it for free!) and he has a great voice for this story. We are using this lapbook from Knowledge Box Central. I love the graphics in these, and you can purchase them already printed and ready to go. We printed ours and I’m really impressed with the quality and instructions included. Good stuff.

Last but not least, we are doing some math fact review, that is fun and laid out different than worksheets. They can also put this in a binder to use as a cheat sheet later. The Multiplication Lapbook and Division Lapbook are from Homeschool Share and are FREE! They also offer addition and subtraction.

The boys like doing lapbooks, it is less school-y. So, I think I’ll incorporate them more throughout the year as well.