A Christmas You Want Your Kids to Remember

A Christmas You Want Your Kids to Remember

I’ve been feeling pretty sentimental this year. Maybe it’s because I turned forty, or maybe it’s because my kids have grown out of the baby stage and are old enough to remember what we do.  In any case, I’ve been thinking more about the holidays, Christmas especially, and what I want it to look like for our family.

Now, I know that things come up. People get sick. Plans change. Life happens in ways that are out of our control. That’s life. Perfect doesn’t exist. In spite of all that, as I’ve been reflecting on my childhood, my kids’ current experiences, and how I hope my kids remember their childhoods when they eventually have families of their own, here are a few key areas we’ll be prioritizing this year.

Don't be unsocialized! Click over to read the rest at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

A Quirky Moms Guide to Homeschooling

A Quirky Mom’s Guide to Homeschooling

A quirky mom’s guide to homeschooling – complete with humor and giggles for those days when you need a down-to-earth, funny look at homeschooling!

As much as we wish it otherwise, homeschooling is never perfect. Mom tends to be exhausted while trying to have everything together including lesson planning and remembering to thaw something for dinner. Kids are NOT perfect angels. The curriculum is NEVER one-size-fits-all.

What’s a homeschool mom to do?

A Quirky Mom’s Guide to Homeschooling
Step #1: Plan Your Homeschool Uniform

Mix-and-match pajamas are always a big hit.

Don't be unsocialized! Click over to read the rest at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Weekend homeschool links November 20th

Praying God’s blessings on you and yours this Thanksgiving, US readers! 

Check out what’s currently free to read with Prime Reading! (afflink)
You can also watch my interview with Dr. Aron here

Weekend homeschool links:

Featured Sponsors:

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!

How to homeschool through December and stay sane

Written by Shawna Wingert of Different by Design Learning

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.

holidays and homeschool, Shawna Wingert

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.

holidays and homeschool, Shawna Wingert

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.

holidays and homeschool, Shawna Wingert

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).

We do even more hands-on learning than usual, and also incorporate movement and sensory activities into our days as much as possible.

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.

holidays and homeschool, Shawna Wingert

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!

What is a Homeschool Portfolio amp How to Create One

What is a Homeschool 

So, you’ve committed to creating a portfolio for your child but have no idea where to start…
If you live in a state that does evaluations, a portfolio is necessary! It shouldn’t be stressful or time consuming. The requirement is simply to show progress. 

It’s never too late to create that homeschool portfolio, even if you have to dig papers out of bins from two years past! 

What is the purpose of a 
Homeschool Portfolio?

Many homeschoolers have a variety of choices to evaluate your child each year. Creating a portfolio is a popular choice throughout the US. Always make sure you check your state’s requirements.  Here in Arizona, we don’t need to create a portfolio, but it is a good way to keep some things for your child to look back on or in the case you move where one is required. 

The purpose of a Portfolio is to show progress of your child’s learning throughout that year. It can also become a keepsake. The idea here is to create something that can best convey what your child learned. 

Gathering Supplies 

You need to decide what to keep your work samples in! Some people choose a 3 ring binder, and some choose an accordion file folder like the Mead Five-Star Organizer. 

Not everything has to fit. You can also take pictures of large works like lapbooks, posters, dioramas, etc. Then put them in the file with a small description. 

If you’re super organized, you may want to create a Table of Contents, Book Lists, Curriculum Descriptions, Report Cards, & details of Course Studies. 

You will need to possibly print out a lot of these, and use Page Protectors to keep them clean. 

You will also need your planner and dates of field trips, and the attendance dates your child did school. 

Best Things to Include in a Portfolio

  • Table of Contents
  • State Homeschool Laws
  • Attendance
  • 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
*You can visit HSLDA for a list of requirements for each state. 

Ways to Show Progress 

If you struggle trying to think of ways to show your child’s progress for different subject areas, here are a few ideas. 
Writing Examples, Math Worksheets, Tests, Quizzes, & Book Reports.
You’ll want to show a few samples from the beginning of the year through the end. No, they all won’t be a shining example, but it WILL show progress! 

For English/Language Arts: 
book reports
spelling tests
grammar excercises
research papers

For Math: 
quizzes & tests
practice sheets

For Science: 
Lab notes
science reports
experiment pictures
quizzes and tests
nature journal pages

For Social Studies: 
history reports
history projects 
pictures of projects

For Fine Arts:
composer and artist studies
certificate of completion for music or art lessons

For PE: 
Certificate of completion
Competition Medals or Trophies
Pictures of Activities 

Time to create!

You’ve now got a great starting point! You can share these ideas with other homeschool moms that are in the same boat! 

Have suggestions??

Comment here, or reach out to me on Instagram @WeWouldRatherBeReading or email me: underthedreamingwillowtree@gmail.com 

Summer Strewing


 It’s the Summer break and we are all doing our best to stay home. This pandemic has everyone going a little stir crazy.  While the kids can play with Lego, Watch TV, Read, Play outside… they still need to explore something new. So I decided to grab up some books on topics that they are interested in and lay them out. There isn’t a lesson plan or required anything. Just simple Strewing.  

Here are some of the Strewing tables I set up. The kids are always in and out of this room anyway, so it’s a great place to put out interests! 
We started off the Summer looking at genetics. The kids were very curious about Punnett Squares and Traits. It was a fun little unit with a super cool DNA lava project. 
When your son wants to try Blacksmithing…. I honestly don’t know if this will go anywhere, but at least he can read about it!

June was full of Star Wars Movie Marathons. Even though a few of us have seen the movies multiple times, we still have questions. I found some super fun books and games to go with that. 

My son was also interested in Sailing. He wanted to know about sailing boats and maps..of course that’s a different type of map, so we found a few book varieties. 

My middle child is currently obsessed with Wolves and Canada. I gathered some books on both and created her section. She is heart set on traveling there one day. 
I absolutely love the 4th of July! We decided to listen to some Rush Revere while cleaning out the school room and have all of these great books out for browsing. I’m sure some will reappear during time period studies. 
I think to finish out the summer, we will be strewing some Rocks & Gems, and Bugs! 
You can find most of these pictured resources from Amazon, Thriftbooks, and Simply Fun Games!

California Out of the Box Projects Encouraging a Closer Look

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!

Sea Otters

By Sarah, 4th grade

Delightful Milkweed

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.

Awesome California Field Trips

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!).

The post Awesome California Field Trips appeared first on Carrier Shell Curriculum.

Back to Homeschool Week 1

This post contains affiliate links. 

Okay, so last year I fell off the weekly updates at about week 12 – maybe I can make it to week 13 at least this year!  ☺

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.  

We’re trying out a lot of new (to us) curriculum and going back to doing Bible, History, and Geography as a family.  I asked both children if they would prefer to do that or on their own and they both wanted to do it together so we’re using a mix of Simply Charlotte Mason and Mystery of History for this years Ancient World History study.  

Sarah is also a very crafty hands on learner so I knew she would want more projects to go along with her curriculum and we all were growing quite weary with Apologia’s high school science courses.  They served a purpose in our family for many years but we were ready for something new.  Sarah is completing physical science this year using Exploration Education and they have such cool projects to complete. 

 She loves it so far!

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.

 Another reason for no posts or random ones is this little precious one who we have had the pleasure of keeping since she was 4 months old!  She will soon be turning 1!!  We had to let her in on all the school fun too.  I can’t explain how much joy she brings to our family!

Stephen, 11th grade 

Sarah, 9th grade 

I added these slaying the giants bookmarks to our school board.  There are 12 of them and they include 6 Bible verses to help you overcome each topic!  Turning point is offering them for free right now.

Overall, week 1 was a success.  I was a little frazzled on day 1 but found my footing by day 2.  I had to step out of my own comfort zone a little too as usually I purchase curriculum that is pretty much laid out for us.  Some of my choices for this year have their own schedules but I needed to do more tweaking than normal so that they would fit into ours.  So far so good!

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.

2021 Budget Calendars – 3 options available

Below you will find 3 options available for downloading my 2021 Budget Calendars.  

The first option available is FREE, and available for a quick download by simply clicking on the calendar image. These are my original design from 13 years ago when I first began getting serious about budgeting.

The second option is also a FREE option but only available to blog subscribers.  You must be a subscriber here to gain access to these calendars.  You may subscribe by clicking the calendar image and the calendar link will be sent to you via email.  I try to complete these each September so my subscribers gain access to these before any one else.  Thank you to all of my subscribers!  Your feedback and support has helped to create this version of my 2021 Subscriber Budget Calendars.

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!
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I hope these options help to ease your budgeting in 2021!