Praying God’s blessings on you and yours this Thanksgiving, US readers!
Weekend homeschool links:
- How to homeschool with Seasonal Affective Disorder
- Free “mom and me” gratitude journal printable (perfect for this week!)
- How to teach reading comprehension
- Creating a basic daily checklist when you’re feeling overwhelmed
- Christmas picture books, novels, audiobook recommendations and more, from Read-Aloud Revival
- 7 years ago on the blog: A call to homeschool high school
- This week on the Simple Homeschool podcast: Episode 44 – Homeschooling an angry child, 5 years later
Oak Meadow’s curricula introduces subjects in a sequence that respects the developmental needs of children: In the early grades, students engage in active exploration of the world with wonder and curiosity.
In the middle grades, they explore accomplishments, conflicts, and relationships in the larger world, and in high school, students apply their knowledge to make a difference in their world. Learn more about their programs for PreK-12th grade here!
Now is the perfect time to plan a Christmas book Advent Calendar to help you prioritize reading aloud this December (& to get it ready now, before life gets too crazy!).
Find out how with All About Learning’s detailed instructions here, which also include numbered printable tags to use and ideas for how to display your calendar. The best part? No cost–you use books you already own for this fun surprise!
This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission from some of the links on this page.
What’s Your Homeschool Mom Personality? Take Jamie’s quiz now and receive a free personality report to help you organize your homeschool based on what you need most!
I used to give up somewhere around December 8th or so.
The Thanksgiving rush seemed to drift into a chaotic mix of Christmas decorations, more complicated meal plans, and way too much wrapping paper.
When my children were younger, it was easier to just stop homeschooling until after the New Year. I loved it!
But as my boys have become teenagers, their need for consistency and structure has increased. They rely on more than just my presence for stability (I miss those younger years!).
Now they seem to do best when we keep our daily routine for as long as possible. This means I’ve had to figure out how to homeschool through December.
It works for them.
Not always so much for me.
By December, I’m tired. I’m ready to cozy up with hot chocolate and read. I prefer to wrap presents at 3 PM instead of 8 PM. I want to grocery shop for holiday meals during the day, on a Tuesday, when my introverted self can avoid the people-y-ness of the holiday season.
In order to make this time of year work for all of us, I have come up with tips and tricks that not only help me hold on to a shred of my sanity, but also keep my boys on track until Christmas Eve.
If you have decided to do the same (though remember: taking the month off is fine, too!), here are four ideas on how to homeschool through December that might help you like they’ve helped us.
How to Homeschool through December and Stay Sane
1. Incorporate Project Based Learning
For some reason, planning one big project per child in the month of December is easier than trying to stick to a schedule of our usual subject rotation.
My youngest is setting up a blog all about Harry Potter as he re-reads the books, and my oldest is working on an audio set-up for his computer. Both “count” as learning, and give me a little extra time to get things done while they happily focus on their own interests.
2. Accept Limitations
2020 or not, I did all my shopping online again this year. It’s the easiest way to get the job done.
I purchased gifts that I knew would be either fun or useful, and did not overthink any of them. (There were more gift cards than usual.) While I deeply enjoy giving gifts to my loved ones, I also realize that this is not the year for anything elaborate.
Because I am trying to treat my role in our homeschool like a job, I need to protect most of our daytime hours for “work.” So I accept my own self-imposed limitations for the season and move on.
3. Make It Fun
Although my boys still crave routine and structure, they are just as excited as I am about the holiday season. This time of year is perfect for incorporating fun activities into our schooling (just like one would in an actual classroom at school).
This year, I’ve asked my boys to come up with a budget for the gifts they’d like to give. I’m calling it math.
4. Wind Down Slowly
The closer we get to December 24th, the more we begin to relax the routine. By the last week, we will almost exclusively use our school time for Christmas related activities.
Here is what we have planned:
Baking Christmas Cookies
Cutting out and hanging snowflakes
Watching a classic Christmas movie and discussing the different characters
Drive around with hot chocolate, look at Christmas decorations and listen to audio books
The holidays and homeschooling don’t have to be in conflict with one another. In fact, by incorporating the season into our learning plans, I’ve found both become much more enjoyable.
I wish you a holiday season filled with both love and learning!
What’s Your Homeschool Mom Personality? Take Jamie’s quiz now and receive a free personality report to help you organize your homeschool based on what your personality type needs most!
- Table of Contents
- State Homeschool Laws
- Examples of a Weekly Schedule
- Description of Curriculum and/or Study Area
- Work Samples for each Subject (Labeled or Divided)
- Book Lists
- Certificates of Completion (Dance, PE, Music, Sports)
- Extras like Art work, or other documentation, and Report Cards
Leaf Observation Collections
In my California Out of the Box online classes, another fun project we completed was putting together leaf collections. How does this relate to California? It applies in every way; important to the California Out of the Box Curriculum is the notion that history is related to the natural features of the land such as plants, animals, and the eco-regions of California.
As students read Island of the Blue Dolphins and learned about plants the main character Karana used, I asked my students to do the following project: Look closely and gather plants from the area around where you live. Using the Audubon guide to California, they classified leaf shapes and flower types. This is important to being able to tell plants apart.
How is this related to California history? The amount of water and the type of plants largely determines the insect and animal life that can be found in an area. Do you think plants had an impact on where settlers built forts and missionaries built pueblos and missions? Yes, it sure did! Access to water, plants, and animals had a lot to do with areas of settlement.
Above are some photos of one of my student’s collections. Alina collected a great variety of samples, from green to flowering plants. This project idea comes from my daughter, who on one walk with a native plant guide, just DID this project. Taping leaves down in books is a botanical study that is easy to do, and very tactile for kids.
Poetry: Using Descriptive Words to Explore California Life
This is another one of my favorite projects in California Out of the Box. As my classes do these projects, I am always amazed by how creative and dedicated my students are; and how much polish students put on their work. Here are some beautiful poetry examples. I can see my students have had real experiences with what we have explored so far!
By Sarah, 4th grade
By Noora, 4th grade
Sequoia Tree Stump
By Abdullah, 4th grade
How can I learn more?
If you are looking for resources for learning California history, please explore both our California Out of the Box online classes, as well as our literature-approach curriculum book. More information on California Out of the Box curriculum can be found here.
And as always — if you are one of my students seeing this work, message me and I would love to display your work!
The post California Out of the Box Projects: Encouraging a Closer Look appeared first on Carrier Shell Curriculum.
Webinar Coming Up!
This fall, we launched Carrier Shell Community, a place for homeschool parents to get inspiration and support. As a part of this, we are offering a FREE California Field Trips webinar on Wednesday, January 20 at 4PM. This webinar will cover the Sacramento and Gold Rush area, Mendocino, Santa Barbara, and other Golden State gems. Here is the Eventbrite link to register.
This will be an excellent event to attend to consider California history places to visit on your winter break; making your winter break even more fruitful (California field trip-wise!).
I had big plans to share curriculum choices with you before we started school but we all know how my plans work out sometimes! So, instead of not forging ahead because I am already behind, I will just ignore the fact that I haven't done that yet.
How about an all high school homeschool - say what?! Yep, all my babies are in high school now. This year we have a 9th and 11th grader homeschooling. We still started with our normal first day traditions of coffee, doughnuts, pajamas, and a few simple goodies.
This was her first project to complete - an electric racer as she studied about forces.
Stephen is really enjoying Don't Check Your Brains at the Door which was on his reading list for last year but the school year ended before we could complete all the books I had for him to read. Here he is reading It Couldn't Just Happen.
We also can't forget our about our first homeschool graduate - see more on his happenings here.
I'm linking up with Homeschool Highlights and Weekly Wrap-Up.
Also available this year is a 2 page per month PAID option. As I have been budgeting for so many years now, I have found it necessary to make tweaks to fit my budgeting style. I spent quite a bit of time creating this new format and thought I would also make it available. Again, this is a paid digital download version but as always the calendars above are absolutely free!
If you would like to try out the paid option before you buy, use coupon code TRYFORFREE to gain access to the last quarter of 2020. I am also willing to make minor tweaks and adjustments to fit your budgeting style. Just let me know! You can get a discount of 25% off for referring others. They get 25% off and so will you!
Add To Cart
I hope these options help to ease your budgeting in 2021!
Saturday was spent chipping away at errands. An oil change on one vehicle. Grocery shopping. Fall/Winter clothes shopping for a couple kids. Birthday shopping for cousins. Library book pick up. In between we did a few of our usual chores - moving furniture and sweeping under it, changing the toys that are out downstairs with different toys from the attic, deep cleaning bathrooms, baking a treat (donuts), and on this day battling ants who were trying to invade the kitchen. The highlight of the day was finally finishing our read aloud of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
Sunday started with a lovely home church, with Joseph teaching the lesson. We also made a special dinner to drop off at a family from church who just had their first sweet baby. We played games as a family. I studied and prepared some seminary lessons for the coming week.
Monday was Labor Day. There was no seminary class and no homeschool today. The kids spent the morning outside with Daddy, enjoying the weather. While they did that, I prepared our next science unit, Geology from The Good and the Beautiful. I sorted papers from the first five weeks of our homeschool year, and printed things for this week's history lessons. Once the kids came back in, we made cards for Makayla, to go in a package we are mailing this week.
Tuesday we got back to seminary and school work, with Daddy home an extra day because of Labor Day. This week is our last one for my Middle and Elementary science group in the Water and Our World unit. We've learned a lot, and so today the kids simply narrated about some of the things they enjoyed learning from the unit and made a notebooking page about that thing as well. We also peeked at the upcoming Geology unit, and changed the library book shelves to books that match the theme. Dinner was a couple of roast chickens, potatoes, carrots, and onions using one of the recipes from this month's Raddish Kit. It was delicious!
Wednesday it was back to just the kids and I at home. After seminary finished we started in on school work. A couple kids had writing assignments to work on, there was a lot of math, and we explored the height of the Persian empire in history.
Thursday and Friday I really didn't take any notes. We learned. We played. We cleaned and cooked.
Saturday we woke the kids at 6am for a family adventure. We drove a couple hours to visit the National Museum of the US Air Force. It is a giant museum full of planes, exhibits, history, and interactive opportunities. You are able to travel through the history of aviation and American military history, with areas from WWI, WWII, the Holocaust, Korea, Vietnam, Cold War, Presidential planes, Space flight, and more. It was so neat for all our ages!
Sunday we rested. Church at home was the highlight, with a discussion of sharing the light of the gospel, being examples, and that Christ is the solution to all the world's problems.
Monday was a typical surgery week day where we try to get everyone and everything ready. Grocery shopping that was missed Saturday because of our field trip. A trip to the city to drop off Mason's wheelchair for an overhaul because new parts are in. Library trip. A trip to the local hospital lab for bloodwork for me (thyroid). Phone calls to specialists. Homeschooling.
Tuesday we had a normal school morning. In the early afternoon Mason and I drove to the city to pick up his overhauled wheelchair. New wheels (bigger), new forks and casters (taller to accommodate the bigger wheel height), new seat cushion, new clothing guards, etc. We returned home to an easy dinner because I had put meatballs in the crock pot at lunch time, so all that was left to do was boil water for some pasta and pull out already cut crenshaw and honeydew melons.
Wednesday we had absolutely nowhere to go. It was glorious. After teaching seminary we wandered through a leisurely school day. We studied the Maccabean revolt in history, as well as read another chapter in Slave Boy in Judea. We only have 4 chapters to go before we finish this book, and we have all enjoyed it. That means I also need to start looking at the read aloud possibilities for the next history unit. Each The Good and the Beautiful History year is divided into four units. Our next unit is a study of Ancient African history and Native American history. The high schoolers will also have some reading about modern African history.
Thursday was our final day to get done all the things before Mason's surgery. We also will have our first homeschool break week next week, so we finished up a lot of the materials we were working on.
Friday Grandma came to take care of the kids at home while Mason and I spent 9am-5pm gone for surgery. He was a champ, even when I wasn't allowed to go into the OR with him for sedation due to COVID restrictions. He was especially loopy post-anesthesia, and very sleepy.
Saturday we started figuring out post-op routines. To keep Mason's circulation and skin healthy we have to vary his position often (sitting, laying, laying on his side, etc) as well as doing the elevation and ice on his legs frequently for these first few days. He can't move himself from any position without help. Right now the routine rotates through laying/icing, sitting in his wheelchair and mobile (can do activities at a table from his chair too), sitting/elevating legs, sitting on the floor to play with Legos, and repeat with new activities.
Late September: Sunday was still a very structured day of ice and elevating Mason's legs. We had church at home, which I love. Our lesson was about prophecies and restoration.
Monday was the first day that really felt like our homeschool break week. Now that Mason was more than 72 hours out from surgery, it was time to see how much time he could spent sitting up without elevating his legs. His body did pretty well, lots of time sitting on the floor playing with Legos, some time sitting on the couch playing Go Fish or reading, some time in his wheelchair playing with thinking putty or other things at the table, and a few sessions laying with legs elevated.
Fast forward a lot. . . keep going. . . almost there. . .
Here we reach what I call the 'post surgery void'. It is the days and weeks where life continued on without any note taking. Fast forward almost six weeks and you reach today. Here is a recent family picture, only missing Makayla, who is away at college:
My life is very full physically (lots of lifting Mason at 60+ pounds all day long, plus normal home life work) and very full mentally - lots of teaching with homeschooling a houseful of 9, alongside teaching seminary just after 6am every weekday to 11 teens over Zoom (I wish we were in person), the cooking and cleaning and the heart work of parenting a large family of always growing and changing children during a pandemic that has affected their daily life in major ways. I've hit my maximum capacity and moved well past it into overwhelm territory.
There is no way I can juggle the varied needs of an extra large family alongside all of these good but hard work things. On my own, I would just lay on the floor and give up. It isn't possible to do everything I need to do.
But God is amazing.
I see on a daily basis how God blesses and multiplies my efforts. He makes more time in my day, inspires me in my tasks, helps me understand things I need to learn, guides me to learn more quickly or work in a more organized way, and makes my limited hours of sleep enough. I fall into bed at night with not one shred of extra mental strength left. I'm emptied out. But when that alarm rings early in the dark hours of the morning I wake up with a song on my heart and a smile on my face. I'm so grateful. I am witnessing small miracles every single day in my life.