Teacher Appreciation Week Deals

Teacher Appreciation Week DEALS

Happy Teacher’s Appreciation Week!

Being an educator has many challenges. Not only do most public school teachers spend their own money on classroom supplies and curricula, but many of them are also underpaid. If you’re an educator you probably know this. But if this is news to you, I hope you’re encouraged to support our nation’s educators and their dedication to teach the next generation. Here are a few ways you can show your support.

  1. Start a school supply drive to help teachers stock their classrooms.
  2. Partner with your child’s teacher by playing an active role in your child’s education.
  3. Send a teacher a “thank you” note and tell them how much they’re appreciated.
  4. Donate to the public library, which helps the facility remain a free resource for teachers and students.
  5. Vote for state officials that support teachers and education.

I might homeschool my own children, but I have many nieces and nephews who attend public school. My prayer is that more people start supporting educators for their sake and for the sake of future America.

How do I—as a homeschool parent—support other educators? Aside from supporting teacher drives, public libraries, and state officials in favor of education (including home education), I also create educational resources!

Nike Anderson's Classroom Free & Affordable Educational Resources

I started Nike Anderson’s Classroom in 2016 when I placed one of the geography resources I created to use in my homeschool for sale on Teacher’s Pay Teachers. I admit I did not expect to make a dime, but I thought the resource could be helpful to another educator. Even more, I knew that if my boys enjoyed this resource, so would other children. That resource is still my best selling product.

50 States of the USA Geography Activities for Kids

As I created more resources to use in my classroom, I shared the wealth with other teachers. I offer many free products, some of which you can find here, and all of my resources are affordable. I also offer resources with diverse images that reflect the average public school classroom. I believe representation for students of color, even in the form of a worksheet, matters.

This week, I’m partnering with TpT to offer educators discounted rates on my most popular resources. It’s my way of saying “thank you.” Whether you teach a homeschool, public school, or private school, you’re greatly appreciated!

Below, are some resources you might want to grab while this promotion is still going. For other resources, visit Nike Anderson’s Classroom.

UPDATE: This offer is no longer available, but be sure to follow my store to be notified when I upload more freebies and discounts.

Happy Teacher’s Appreciation Week!

Click on any of the images below to download.

states

original-2957980-1

original-2753818-1

original-2547491-1

original-2627487-1

 


More Like this at Nike Anderson’s Classroom!

Nike Anderson's Classroom


 

Homeschool Room Tour

Should I Have a Homeschool Room? Updated Classroom Tour

We’re fast approaching the end of the school year here in Middle Georgia. In fact, next month’s To-Do List includes a kindergarten graduation for my six-year-old and state exams for my third-grader.

Sometimes, it’s hard to believe we’ve been on this homeschool journey for four years. Yet, here we are. So much has changed. We went from doing school at home to adopting an eclectic homeschool approach with whole-child education as our foundation.

With that being said, I often wonder if it’s necessary to keep the homeschool room going. I mean, I love our classroom, but I must admit—at this point in our journey—it’s just for looks.

Which leads me to this blog post. Many homeschool newbies wonder if having a homeschool room is necessary.

The quick answer is no.

There are many unconventional places we’ve enjoyed learning outside our designated homeschool room. Here are a few:

Homeschool Room Alternatives

1. The living room: The couches in the formal living room are the perfect place to get cozy with a book.

Homeschooling in the Living Room

2. The family room: Whether it’s making ourselves comfortable on the couch, rocking chair, or carpet, the family room has seen more learning than our classroom this year.

Homeschooling in the Family Room

3. The dining room table: Multi-level learning is much easier sitting around the dining room table. We can all see each other’s faces, have plenty of workspace, and I can easily work with both my boys at once.

Homeschooling at the dining room table

4. The kitchen: We’ve had many science lessons in the kitchen, from building volcanoes and robots at the breakfast table to using hands-on kitchen science to bake goodies. It’s also a great place for my boys to read-aloud to me while I prepare meals.

Homeschool Science at the kitchen table

5. The porch: Our back porch has been the perfect place for us to get messy with arts, crafts, and science experiments.

Homeschooling on the back porch

6. The world: The world is literally the best classroom! Whether we’re hanging out at the library, touring the nation’s capital, or going on a field trip, these experiences give our children the opportunity to put their learning into practice. Click here to read about our field trip adventures. Click here for ideas on providing homeschool children with social opportunities.

The World is our Classroom

So, no, we haven’t been making much use of our classroom. If you don’t have one, don’t feel like you’re missing out. Many homeschoolers I know don’t have a designated workspace either. I will say that there have been some pros and cons to having a homeschool room. Here are a few:

Pros to Having a Homeschool Room:

  • Contains Homeschool Mess: All schoolwork and homeschool supplies have a designated space that is contained and can be closed off at the end of the school day. This keeps other areas of your house from becoming a homeschool landfill.
  • Fewer Distractions: Having a homeschool room automatically sets the atmosphere for learning. Children know they’re in this room to learn and are more likely to stay focused.
  • Personalization: Decorating your homeschool room can be fun! Especially when you get the kiddos involved. You can really create a space that is unique to your family and makes your children excited to learn.
  • More Visuals: Typically, your homeschool room will include hanging charts of colors, shapes, numbers, the alphabet, nouns, verbs, maps, etc. Daily exposure to these visuals may help stimulate your child’s brain and facilitate learning—especially if your child is a visual learner.
  • Keeps Things from Getting Lost: Having a child do schoolwork wherever they please is an invitation for items to get lost. You may find yourself spending unnecessary time looking for pencils, scissors, and other school supplies. Your children may also lose their textbooks and other learning materials. Having a designated classroom ensures everything stays put in one room, cutting down on the likelihood of lost items.

Cons to Having a Homeschool Room:

  • It’s Not Ideal: Many homeschoolers discover that learning is actually best when it takes place outside the home. Field trips, library visits, nature walks, etc., are all opportunities for children to set the workbooks aside and put their education into practice.
  • It Segregates Learning: Having a designated classroom may reinforce the idea that learning and life are separate entities when the two are very much intertwined. Being able to learn anywhere may help children understand that learning is accessible anywhere and doesn’t only take place in a classroom setting.
  • It Encourages Overspending: “This will look cute in our classroom” is a phrase I used often. In actuality—even with being a homeschool minimalist—I admit to purchasing things I didn’t need just to “fill-up” our homeschool space.
  • It’s Less Organic: Cuddling up in the oversized rocking chair while I read to my boys about skyscrapers was much more authentic than having them sitting at their desks as I stood at the whiteboard lecturing. Many children I know—including my own—prefer a more organic approach to learning that allows them to better relax and learn at their own pace.
  • It Can Aggravate Cabin Fever: One thing I’ve noticed was that by winter none of us wanted to be in the classroom. Spending most of our mornings in the same confined space started to get old quickly. We wanted to be downstairs where the floorplan was open and the windows were plenty.

Can you homeschool successfully without a designated classroom? Of course you can! But if you must have a classroom and are looking for some inspiration, here is a tour of our updated homeschool space. I figured I’d go ahead and post it should we decide to change or get rid of it altogether next school year.

Homeschool Room Tour

  • Minimalism was the name of the game this year. I wanted to keep the decor simple and only house supplies we’ll actually use. The map is from Dollar Tree, the crayon decals are from Target, and the organizing carts are from Michaels. The bins on top of the carts were gifted from my mother-in-law. 

Homeschool Room Tour

  • This is how I originally had the classroom set up. We got rid of the lamp, which was from Target. I ordered the office chairs from Amazon, which are specifically designed for children. The valences are a Big Lots’ purchase. Lastly, the corner shelf was gifted by my mother-in-law. 

Homeschool Room Tour

  • This is what the space looks like with children working in it! The positive affirmations posters are from Target. The LED calendar and red caddy are also from Target. You can find pencil holders like the one in the picture at Dollar Tree and the table lamp is a Walmart purchase. 

Homeschool Room Tour

  • No homeschool room is complete without a whiteboard. This whiteboard was purchased on Amazon. On the right-hand side of the board, I have my boys’ homeschool schedule and morning checklist laminated for durability and dry-erase use. The affirmation underneath the board says “You are a creator” and I thought it was fitting to place it above the art supplies. The art supplies are sitting on a stand by Melissa and Doug. 

Homeschool Room Tour

  • My favorite space in this room is the reading corner. The letter decals,  lamp, and chair are from Target. I used the shelves on the floor-lamp to house some of our books, which are sitting in organizer bins from Dollar Tree. The pillow and crochet blanket were made by my lovely momma. Lastly, the Minecraft pickaxe and sword were purchased from a local circus, they light up at night!

Homeschool Room Tour

If you’d like to see what the classroom looked like before, click here. Not much has changed, but I love the flow and simplicity of our designated learning space this year.

In closing, if you decide not to have a homeschool room, I hope this post gave you peace of mind. If you’ve decided that a designated homeschool room would be best for your family, I hope you’ve gotten some ideas to help you get started decorating!

Do you have a homeschool room? Why or why not? Let me know in the comments! 

Until next time, friends…

Help Boys learn Effectively

10 Methods to Help Boys Maximize Their Learning Potential

Over the past few months, my oldest son tried a hand at musical theater. That meant extra rehearsals for him and lots of downtime for mom, as I accompanied him.

They performed Beauty and the Beast last week, he was Phillippe, among other characters, and the performance was great. Just in case you’re curious.

During my downtime, I had the luxury of reading one of the books I checked out from the library a couple weeks ago, Boys and Girls Learn Differently! A Guide for Teachers and Parents. I wasn’t purposely looking for this book. It simply fell into my hands while reaching for another book about homeschooling on the same shelf. Nevertheless, the title of this book intrigued me, and I decided to keep it.

Let me paint the picture: my boys often stand when they work, pace when they read, don’t seem to know what walking or a quiet voice is, protest sitting still at any capacity, will mope about writing a book report on a classic novel but willingly write about the history of Minecraft, are drawing and coding fanatics, would rather listen to me read than read on their own, are so video game obsessed that I have to forbid it on weekdays—and the list goes on. 

As a woman, most days I just don’t understand them. But I love learning about their unique ways of learning and how I can better facilitate this process. I’m not here to change them. They’re fine as they are. I’m here to change the way I teach them.

Now, I’m no newbie to research regarding learning differences between boys and girls. Yet, this book taught me some new things and gave me great ideas on how I could foster a healthier learning environment for my boys. I’ve also linked other great resources in my post, should you want to investigate a little further.

I’m not here to debate whether boys or girls learn differently. Truthfully, some of the following tips—as proven by research—are useful for children in general. However, I won’t negate that some of the following methods I’ve applied to my homeschool have worked in our favor.

Although I’m looking through the lens of home education, please note that most of my research came from a traditional classroom perspective. So, don’t fret if you’re not a homeschooler, these tips will certainly work for your family or classroom, too!


Here are 10 Methods to Help Boys Maximize Their Learning Potential

 

1. Forget the desk and chairs.

Trust me—let him move! A boy’s autonomic nervous system causes them to be more alert when they’re standing and moving. Why? Movement activates all the brain cells boys use to learn. Research suggests that children who are more active show greater attention, have faster cognitive processing speed, and are better test-takers than children who are less active.

 

2. Schedule learning time after outdoor play or physical activity.

Jumping straight into morning learning may not be your best bet. If your little buddy is reluctant to learning, check back with him after he’s had a little outdoor playtime or physical activity. Why? Other than my aforementioned point about movement activating those “learning” brain cells, a study showed that young children who were given recess worked more or fidgeted less than when they were not given recess. Additionally, a 2016 study found that young boys who spent more time sitting and less time playing didn’t progress as quickly in reading and mathematics.

 

3. Let him draw it out.

Have your child draw pictures of a story in sequential order before they write a summary. Why?  Drawing can be used as a mechanism to help students recall details in a story or text before beginning the writing process. In fact, a study contended students who drew before writing tended to produce more words, more sentences and more idea units, and their overall writing performance was higher than the students who wrote without drawing. This method can also be applied to solving math problems and studying informational facts.

Check out my resource Book Report/Summary Guide for Beginners & Reluctant Writers

Book Report Guide for Reluctant Writers

 

4. Pace while you’re teaching a new concept.

Boys typically interpret the world as objects moving through space. We might just hold their attention if we become that moving object. Why? Research suggests instructors’ physical movement increases boys’ focus and engagement during lessons. So, try pacing and using wide-range movements when teaching new concepts.

 

5. Bond.

Young children learn best from whom they’re intimately attached. Therefore, it’s a good idea to intentionally bond with your child to help him reach his academic potential. Why? According to research, the brain needs bonding and attachment to fully grow and learn. Try asking your child about his interests or playing his favorite game with him before starting your lesson. Be sure to give him your undivided attention.

 

6. Establish a consistent routine.

An unstructured routine can cause boys to lose that sense of security they crave, inhibiting their behavior and learning. Why? While children’s brains need freedom to discover information, they also need structure and order to turn that information into a learning experience. Research shows that boys with a structured routine exhibited better behavior in the classroom. However, boys without good structure or had a recent change in their routine exhibited more stress and behavioral problems than their peers.

 

7. Eat a good breakfast.

Time to ditch those refined carbs in the morning and give your lad a breakfast that’s high in fiber and protein. Why? Cereal and other refined carb breakfast foods raise glucose levels and cause jitters in boys—in addition to causing them to feel low. Consequently, according to research, boys tend to become impulsive during sugar crashes, spiking behavioral problems. Of course, if your child does any sort of physical activity in the mornings, unrefined carbs are okay to have.

 

8. Add Omega 3’s to his diet.

It’s a good idea to add Omega-3 fatty acids to your child’s diet to support optimal brain development. Why? Psychiatric and neurological disorders, such as ADHD (a common diagnosis for boys) have been linked to Omega-3 deficiency. Foods rich in Omega-3s are mackerel, salmon, cod liver oil, sardines, and oysters, among others. Got a picky eater? My boys love omega swirl fish oils.

 

9. Learn Outdoors.

Toss the textbooks and let nature be his teacher. Why? Research suggests the great outdoors helps stimulate the learning brain and resolve behavioral nuances. According to other studies, access to nature has also been shown to decrease the symptoms of ADHD. So, let your child have a change of scenery and go explore hidden treasure in your city or town. Beautiful greenery, flowers, rivers, and waterfalls. Creepy crawly creatures and local wildlife (albeit harmless). Or, simply take your workload and sit on a bench at a beautiful park and let the sunrays delight your child while he studies.

 

10. Give him power over his education.  

Try letting your child help you pick out his curriculum, create enrichment activities, and/or choose the time of day he’d like to work on his lessons. Why? Research shows most behavioral problems in males stem from their desire for attention and power. Therefore, giving your child some power over his education may result in him being more receptive to learning and staying engaged. Just be sure when offering choices to your son that you offer preset options that you can live with either way.


 

Got any more tips or resource recommendations for teaching boys? Leave a comment below and share the wealth!

10 Top-Rated Educational Gifts Under $10 That Your Kids Will Want

Good news! It’s not too late to place online orders for this upcoming Christmas!

Many of you enjoyed my post last week detailing what I got my boys for Christmas with a $100 budget. I thought I’d share a similar post this week giving you my recommendations for awesome educational gifts for just under ten bucks each!

Although I’ve finished Christmas shopping, I’m always on the hunt for STEM-related projects to use in our homeschool, gift to my boys and their friends, or to simply recommend to parents and teachers who dislike searching for online deals.

With that being said, this post is meant to be a gift guide scenario for those of you who are interested in educational gift options for your children and/or resources for your classroom. All the items listed below are priced below $10 (as of date) and have high customer ratings on Amazon. They are also appropriate for introducing children to the wonders of STEM.

As you can see, we’re fans of all things STEM. It suits the learning style of my kinesthetic learners. If you’re new to STEM (or STEAM), it’s an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and (Art) Math. STEM stimulates a child’s natural intellectual curiosity and helps develop problem-solving, creativity, decision-making, and concentration, among other skills.

Why include STEM in your home and/or classroom? Because STEM permeates the modern world, yet research shows many students are not graduating from high school with the knowledge and capacities they will need to pursue the STEM careers steadily rising across the nation.

If you don’t get anything else from this post, know that you don’t have to rely on schools or administrations to teach your children (or students!) these wonderful concepts that are imperative for their future success.

What’s great about the following gift guide is that children will have so much fun they won’t even realize they’re learning and developing skills! Since I have two children under the age of ten, these gifts are most suitable for younger children (should be at least six-years-old) but can be challenging enough for preteens who are new to STEM.

So, without further ado, let’s get into it!

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclaimer for more information.

10 Top-Rated Educational Gifts Under $10 That Your Kids Will Want

 

 

1. National Geographic Dino Dig Kit

Fossil Kit.jpg

National Geographic has a great series of dig kits available for the little scientist in your life. In addition to the Dino Dig Kit pictured above, this brand also offers shark tooth, real bug, and gemstone dig kits, among others. Kids will get to discover real dinosaur fossils that include a bone, mosasaur tooth, and dino stool for their rock collection. This hands-on exploration also boasts prehistoric fun facts in the full-color learning guide. A magnifying glass is also included to heighten the fun! Get it on Amazon

 

2. Magnetic Mini Tile Art by 4M

Magnetic-Mini-Tile-Art.jpg

This amazing set challenges children to create unique works of art that can be attached to magnetic tiles that will hang on any metal surface. The set includes tiles, magnets, a paint-strip of four colors, and a paintbrush. Kids can make beautiful gifts for friends and family or simply display their impressive creations on the refrigerator door. A perfect gift for the little artist in your family! Get it on Amazon

 

3. Illusion Science by 4M

Illusion Science.jpg

This science kit boasts 20 classic optical illusions from trick cards to 3D picture cards and glasses. There’s also an instruction booklet included that explains the science of optical illusions and how to create illusionary effects. Even if you don’t have a child who’s into optics, this is a gentle introductory kit that can be fun—and educational—for the entire family! Get it on Amazon

 

4. Metal Model 3-D Building Sets

Metal Models 2

This building set is great for helping children increase their logical thinking and problem-solving skills. The set includes metal material made from good quality stainless steel, a screwdriver, and a spanner. Perfect for the little engineers in your life and also suitable for young teens! Get it on Amazon

 

5. Be Amazing Insta Snow 

Insta Snow.jpg

If you’re looking for snow this Christmas, this kit is the next best thing! Insta-snow powder turns plain water into a fluffy snow-like substance in just seconds.  There is absolutely no stirring or mixing involved. This kit boasts that the powder can absorb up to 100 times its weight in water and is completely safe and non-toxic. A test tube and snow powder are included. You just provide the water for this fun STEM activity! Get it on Amazon 

 

6. Lemon Powered Clock

Lemon Clock

Engage your child in a fun lesson on battery science using this lemon-powered clock! This STEM kit includes copper and zinc plates, wire, and a clock. All materials are safe and high quality. The kit does require that lemons be provided to make the most of the amazing experience. However, this kit is a fun unique way to explore science with your kids at home! Kidz Labs also has a potato clock STEM kit available. Get it on Amazon

 

7. Green Science Enviro Battery

enviro battery.jpg

Explore the wonders of green energy sources using this Enviro Battery kit. Complete with instructions, this kit also includes wires, zinc and copper plates, plastic cups, an LED lamp and more. Children can use potato, salt, water, and mud to light up an LED bulb and sound a buzzer, among other things! This kit is a wonderful introduction to the importance of leaving a smaller carbon footprint on the earth. Get it on Amazon

 

8. Melissa & Doug Stained Glass Window Art Kit

Stained Glass Art Kit.jpg

Develop concentration, creativity, and fine-motor skills with this stained-glass window art kit by Melissa and Doug. Your child will use a number key system to place glitter stickers over the template. The kit comes with a ready-to-hang wooden frame that allows your child to display their gorgeous project. Hang it in the window and watch the light shine through the glittering stickers! Get it on Amazon

 

9. Tara Toys STEM Projects Robotic Hand

Robotic Hand.jpg

This robotic hand project is a fun way to learn about tension and compression. This project is user-friendly and easy to assemble. Once built, the robotic hand can reach and grab objects! Also includes a fun learning card detailing the science behind tension and compression. The STEM Projects brand also offers walking dinosaur and fish generator project kits, also under ten bucks! Get it on Amazon

 

10. The STEMpreneur Mini STEM Racer

Stem Rally Racer.jpg

This STEM racer kit helps children develop spatial recognition, problem-solving, critical thinking, and fine and gross motor skills. The Rally Cross Racer is one of four racer models sold separately. Get one for each of your kids and have a family fun night building the racers and engaging in a friendly race competition! Get it on Amazon


Well, that concludes my list of ten educational gift ideas under ten dollars. I hope this post helped you. I want to reiterate these gift options are suitable for children between the ages of six and ten. But don’t let my age recommendations stop you if you know your child or classroom would enjoy these amazing STEM projects!

Until next time, friends…


Are Your Children into Writing Christmas Wish Letters? Download these templates for FREE at Nike Anderson’s Classroom!

DOWNLOAD
4145f0_0e661d395a4a47c4a9e1d35dfb36a7aa-mv2


Visit Nike Anderson’s Classroom for more Christmas resources. Don’t forget to follow my shop to be the first to know when I upload a new freebie!

Nike Anderson's Classroom Free & Affordable Educational Resources

Fun Summer MATH Activities for First, Second, and Third Grade.

How We Practice Math Fluency | Grades K-3

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!

Math practice may seem redundant but it’s necessary to build and maintain fluency. To minimize “summer brain drain,” I wanted to introduce my kindergartner and second-grader to a new way of practicing math facts. Typically, I require them to complete one small worksheet a day during the summer months to keep their brains sharp. This year, however, I’ll be shaking things up a little bit.

Math Practice Activity Binder

Allow me to introduce my latest product at Nike Anderson’s Classroom, “My Math Practice Activity Binder!” This binder is a comprehensive bundle of activities that help facilitate math fluency for first, second, and third graders, depending on mastery level.

This resource includes 43 hands-on activities. Activities include addition, subtraction, regrouping, Arabic and Roman numerals, time, temperature, money, fractions, conversions, rounding numbers, multiplication, and division. Read the details below.

Nike Anderson shares Interactive Math Activities for First, Second, Third Grade.

Math Practice Activity Binder for First, Second, and Third GradeBUY NOW!

What inspired me to create this resource? I purchased a similar binder for my kindergartner with the intention of using it for summer practice and my second-grader griped about wanting one also. I couldn’t find a similar product that included all the key math concepts he learned this year, so I decided to create one for his grade level.

While I chose to use Velcro fasteners for repeated use, dry-erase markers may also be used to complete laminated activities for those of you who’d rather forgo the cutting. My boys absolutely love the Velcro fasteners, though, which are used to attach the answers to each math problem.

As a simple storage solution, I placed all the answer tabs into an envelope and used Velcro fasteners on the flap of each envelope. This ensures secure storage and the ability to reopen the envelope when needed. I also two-hole punched the envelopes so that I could store them in the binder next to their corresponding activity. See below for details!

Interactive Math Activities for First, Second, and Third GradeUse RepeadedlyEasy Storage SolutionBUY NOW!

What skills does this activity binder help students develop and strengthen? Fluency in addition, subtraction, regrouping, Arabic and Roman numerals, time, temperature, money, fractions, conversions, rounding numbers, multiplication, and division, as well as the following:

  • Analytical thinking
  • Critical thinking
  • Logic
  • Problem-solving
  • Quantitative reasoning
  • Independence

Other uses for this resource include cut and paste, file folder games, math center activities, dry-erase workbook, interactive notebook, and more! You do not have to use this resource solely as an activity binder. Read below for details.

Activity BinderBUY NOW!


Nike Anderson's Classroom

Buy today and receive a 20% off discount on this resource! Missed the sale? Follow my shop to be the first to know when this item goes on sale again.

I want to thank all of you for supporting Nike Anderson’s Classroom. I truly appreciate everyone who has used my product in their classroom.

Homeschool of Shame

Homeschool of Shame | 8 Things I No Longer Do

There are many wonderful things we do at our homeschool that I’m always eager to share. Now, it’s time to share what we don’t do that many moms think we probably should. Up until very recently, I used to do ALL these things as religiously as possible. These days, I’m becoming more aware of what works best for my family. That means doing away with some practices I’ve forced on our family for so long.

I’m not suggesting you stop doing the things I’m about to mention. My hope for this post is to inspire homeschool parents to get rid of what’s not working and do what suits their family instead. Here are eight things I no longer do now that I’m in my third year of homeschool.

 

1. Wake up before my kids:

That’s right. I no longer make it a priority to wake up before my kids. That’s not to say some days (like today) I don’t, but these days I refuse to punish myself for not living up to the unsaid expectations of stay-at-home moms. I’m a night owl by nature and often forced myself to turn-in early to awaken before sunrise. Not only is it extremely difficult to fall asleep before midnight, but late nights are often when I’m most productive. My body would rather work until 2am and awaken at eight in the morning than go to sleep at 11pm and awaken at five in the morning to get work done. I’m learning to accept it.

 

2. Morning devotionals:

Nope. I typically do my devotionals at night and my declarations in the morning. It just feels right. I like to do my declarations as soon as I open my eyes. This includes thanking God and declaring some truth over my life according to scripture. Declarations are not just a morning thing, they are something I speak whenever I start to fall into negative thinking. I’m not perfect at it, but it’s becoming more of a habit with each day. Here are some examples:

I. Negative thought: Replaying failures in your mind.

Declarations: My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever (Psalm 73:26). I will focus on whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, and anything that is excellent or praiseworthy (Phil. 4:8).

II. Negative thought: Comparing yourself to others.

Declarations: I will examine only myself and be proud of my own accomplishments without comparing myself to others (Gal. 6:4-5). I refuse to let envy destroy me, but I choose to have a peaceful heart that gives me life (1 Cor. 3:3).

III. Negative thought: Feeling angry or frustrated.

Declarations: Today, I choose to be patient and kind. I refuse to be rude, easily angered or keep a record of wrongs. I will persevere because love never fails (1 Cor. 13:4-8).

IV. Negative thought: Worry and fear.

Declarations: I refuse to worry about my life. I know that God will provide everything I need (Mat. 6:25-34). God did not give me the spirit of fear but His Spirit of power, love, and self-discipline (2 Tim 1:7).

 

3. Read about homeschool:

I noticed the more I read about homeschool, the more I compared myself to those seemingly perfect veterans. I stopped making a habit of this. I guard myself by limiting my exposure to any triggers. When I find myself falling back into the negative thought-pattern of comparison, I arm myself with some of the declarations I mentioned in my second point. I’d like to remind you that your homeschool is unique to your family. You don’t have to do it like everyone else!

 

4. Mimic the traditional classroom:

My teaching method once very much mirrored that of the traditional classroom because that’s all I knew. These days, we learn side-by-side wherever we are comfortable. That can be the couch, dining room table, the library, or outdoors. We LOVE our classroom setup, but we aren’t bound by it. Truthfully, we get tired of being in there by the third quarter.

 

5. Plan enrichment activities:

I’m sorry for those of you who followed me for the awesome enrichment activities. I simply don’t plan them much because I don’t have to. These days, most enrichment activities we do are those our curriculum suggests. If I happen to think of something extra fun, I’ll execute that idea. Other than that, I simply can’t be bothered. I now have several side projects that consume the bulk of the free time I once administered to being crafty. In the end, I realized I was only creating more unnecessary work for myself.

 

6. Follow the curriculum verbatim:

I’m more interested in staying true to our homeschool vision than applying ineffective aspects of a curriculum. I’ve seen some moms suffer through a curriculum for the sake of completion. Not at our house. If it doesn’t work, I don’t force it. I recently had to do away with the entire third quarter of my son’s reading curriculum because they assigned reading he simply couldn’t relate to. Forcing him to understand medieval language became counter-productive. Instead, I assigned reading he could enjoy and required him to write summaries of the assigned chapters. Yes, there’ll be some things in his curriculum he MUST do, but I decided the originally assigned reading was not one of them.

 

7. Get dressed every day:

If we don’t have plans for the day, we don’t accumulate laundry. That’s that. I figured it was more important to be resourceful than picture-perfect. So yea, you may have noticed on Instagram that my kids are sometimes wearing pajamas or “house clothes” in the afternoon. I know there are tons of articles that make compelling cases for getting dressed even if you don’t go anywhere. However, I’m at a place in my life where, if I want to be super productive, my pajamas sure aren’t going to stop me. More importantly, my boys don’t seem any less productive than before. This is not to be confused with self-care, which they are most certainly required to do every day.

 

8. Uphold the perfect homeschool image:

I was trapped by expectations. Not so much on this blog (where I share my not-so-perfect moments), but in my daily life where other homeschool moms gave me a smug look if I mentioned using a free curriculum, not participating in expensive extra-curricular classes, or not vigorously training my then toddler how to read Shakespeare or multiply fractions (slight exaggeration, here). This blog felt like the ONLY place where I could speak freely about homeschooling on a narrow budget and in a way that works for ME. These days, I endure smug looks for the sake of releasing another homeschool parent from the bondage of other people’s expectations.


 

Well, that’s all I can think of for now. Kudos to all the homeschool parents that do all of the things I mentioned and it works for YOU. This post is no way saying that these practices aren’t valuable. They just no longer serve our family. Let us know in the comments some things you’ve done away with in your homeschool. See you next week!

Classroom Tour

Homeschool Classroom Tour

I wanted to wait until I had better images to make this post. But, alas, here we are. Sometimes you just have to use what you have.

I mentioned on my Instagram that I would be sharing my classroom with all of you and that’s what I’ll be doing today. Yes, I know, it’s not Tuesday. Consider this a bonus post!

{ Note: See Should I Have a Homeschool Room? Updated Classroom Tour to see what our classroom looks like now.}

First, many of you have come to know our previous classroom and you may be wondering why we switched rooms and redecorated. The answer to that question is the space we were using as a classroom was actually our office. It worked well for us for the first two years, but we really needed a separate space where we wouldn’t be interrupted by people coming in and out to use the copy machine, printer, and desktop. There are lots of businesses run in this house!

The solution was to turn the boys’ room into a classroom. I considered the boy’s room wasted space since they only sleep there. They usually play outside or in the family room. Aside from that, their room is super bright with tons of space. So, this past summer I redecorated their room to fit our classroom needs. The first thing I did was purchase a room divider to hide away their bunkbed and provide a private reading nook. My boys absolutely LOVE having these curtain dividers in their room. It’s like sleeping in a fort! Room dividers for spaces larger than 122 inches can be found on Amazon.

Classroom Decor
I transformed these LEGO bed sheets into divider curtains using clip rings. That’s it!
Classroom Decor
These LEGO curtain dividers close completely across our 124″ space. Separating the sleeping area from the rest of the room.

Pictured below is the view of our classroom when you first walk in. You can see the two windows that offer plenty of bright sunlight. I went for valances rather than curtains because curtains make the room seem cluttered and dark. I chose folding desks for a similar reason. Since the desks are not bulky and have an open back, they make the space appear more open. These desks also fold flat should we need to store them away for any reason. My favorite feature is that they have USB ports and AC plugins to keep laptops and tablets charged.

As far as decor, I’m no designer on HGTV. The goal was to keep the decor minimal and functional. Therefore, I only hung posters that we would actually use. Aside from the LEGO curtains, which make the room look fun and lively, I’ve also put up some geography posters that accompany our curriculum, basic math charts (which can be found for FREE at my store), and a big solar system informational poster. You can say this is our science and math corner.

Classroom Decor
Our homeschool classroom offers plenty of sunlight. Here is the view when you first walk in.
Classroom Decor
This is what our homeschool classroom looked like on the first day of school. I added some borders for an extra touch.

Let’s dive into the reading corner. There’s not much going on here. I placed a comfy brown chair in this corner, which I purchased from Target years ago. I placed the chair by the window for optimal lighting. My mother made the beautiful colorful crochet blanket hanging over the chair, which matches our classroom beautifully. Beneath the chair is a  transportation themed rug by Melissa and Doug. The boys received this rug as a Christmas gift last year from a loved one. It fits perfectly into the space.

I originally wanted a sign that says “Reading Corner,” but couldn’t find one that fit our classroom. I opted for letter decals instead. The letter decals that spell out “Read Books” are from Target and I just love the subtle pizzaz they add to this corner of the room. And speaking of books, I placed a blue book bin beside the chair and filled it with some of our favorites. Most of our books are paperback so we can stack many of them into this bin. We also have an excellent library that allows us to check out up to 50 books at a time, which is where our primary resources come from.

Classroom Decor Reading Corner
Our reading corner hosts a comfy chair by the window with a basket full of our favorite books.

Pictured below I have our work corner.  I placed a ten-drawer organizer for each child’s workload next to the window. The organizers are from Amazon. The first drawer houses our devotional materials. The second drawer houses their reading curriculum. Spelling and language arts are placed in the third and fourth drawers. The fifth drawer houses their arithmetic curriculum. The sixth and seventh drawers are reserved for science and geography. Lastly, the eighth drawer is for their handwriting curriculum. I reserved the last two drawers for school supplies.

Above the organizers are height charts for each child. We will measure their height in the Fall, Winter, and Spring to see how much they’ve grown. Next to the organizers is a ten-pocket pocket chart. This pocket chart is also from Amazon. We like to use this pocket chart to house weekly spelling and vocabulary words for my second-grader. At the very bottom of the chart is where my 4-year-old does sight word practice.

Classroom Decor
A view of our homeschool classroom from the reading corner.

Okay, let’s talk about the view of the classroom from the desks. One of the main attractions here is our dry-erase board purchased from, you’ve guessed it…Amazon! This is where I do all of my oral lessons. The board came with an eraser, marker, tray (which houses my pointer), and magnets. Above the board are letter decals from Target that spell out “Welcome.” Hanging from the board is our daily tentative homeschool schedule. Lastly, next to the board is the boys’ morning to-do list, which I placed in a black frame. I also hang a picture of the students from Kampala, Uganda who are very dear to our hearts.

As you can see, most of the decor is very low because I wanted to keep everything at eye-level for my kids. That’s why I decided not to hang my kindergartner’s morning board, which is sitting beneath the whiteboard. I made this board to include everything I’d like my four-year-old to know fluently by the end of the year, outside of reading and math of course. It has a feelings emoji chart to help him put words to different emotions he may be experiencing, and a fruit of the spirit chart. Both charts are FREE to download at my store. I’ve also included a list of the days of the week and months of the year.

Classroom Decor
This is the view of our classroom from the desks.

Finally, we are coming full circle to the classroom entry. There’s not much going on here. To the left is the entry door. To the right is the bedroom closet. I bet you were wondering where the boy’s dresser is. Well, it’s a tall five drawer dresser that fits perfectly into the closet, with room to spare for hanging and storage. And where is their bed? Just behind the LEGO curtains!

The organizer pictured below is full of my teaching supplies. I do NOT allow my boys to have access to all the extra markers, pencils, stickers, etc. So this cart comes with ME at the end of the day! Otherwise, I’d wake up to dried out markers, stickers all over the walls, and all the paper in the notebooks used up. So yea, school supplies get rationed out. Lastly, I think EVERY teacher in the U.S. has the cute calendar from Target, pictured above the drawer organizer. The apple below it is also a calendar that comes with magnets for hands-on calendar fun.

Classroom Decor
The final view of our homeschool classroom.

So guys, I finally did it. I finally got this post out. I hope you enjoyed our classroom tour. Be sure to connect with me on Instagram for video footage of how we work in our classroom.

Before I go, I’d also like to mention that our boys LOVE their room like this. I love it, too. Especially the bright, cozy feel. And, of course, we don’t spend every waking day in here. Sometimes we like to have school downstairs in the dining room or even outside on the porch.

I want to know from you. What is your favorite place to do school work? Let us know in the comments!