How We Pulled Off an Entire Year of Homeschool for FREE

How We Pulled Off an Entire Year of FREE Curriculum

Hi there! Join me this month for the My Journey to Homeschool series. In this series, I’ll be sharing the why behind our homeschool and the process it took to get there.

If you missed last week’s post Why We REALLY Homeschool |The Honest Truth, read it here.

This week, I’ll be sharing how we pulled off an entire year of free curriculum during our first penny-pinching homeschool years.

If you’re new here, welcome! My name is Nike and I’m entering my fourth homeschool year with a new kindergartner and third grader.

Nike Anderson

 

Can you believe I’ve never written a proper curriculum review? Well, you’re in for a treat because I’ll be reviewing our entire year of free curriculum for devotional, language arts, reading, math, science, and geography!

Basically, the first two years of our homeschool journey was a free curriculum frenzy. Before I invested money in a box curriculum, I first wanted to see what resources were available for FREE. I was shocked to find awesome quality resources for kindergarten through second-grade—and beyond! I’ve even made a few resources myself. Visit my FREEBIES page to check some of them out!

I was in resource heaven putting together a comprehensive curriculum for my then first-grader, but I admit it was so much work! Maybe I can help alleviate some of the workload for you by giving you the links to everything we used in one blog post? Of course, this is only helpful if you have a first or second-grader (or an advanced kindergartner). However, some of these resources have curricula available for grades up through high-school.

To make things even better, I’ll give you a brief description of each resource, as well as the pros and cons of each. Are you ready?

Here’s What We Used:

 

1. Devotional—180 Days of Memory Verses

About:

This resource is my collective 180-day Bible series for kids that covers 36 scriptures or one memory verse each week! I created this resource because we needed fun activities to accompany our memory verses. It includes 180 fun activities that are designed to improve cognitive skills by helping children to think, reason, and write for themselves. The activities also encourage children to strengthen fine motor skills, encourage creativity, and strengthen handwriting skills. The following topics are covered:

Obviously, this resource was free for me because I created it. However, I do offer the series “God Thinks I’m Awesome” for FREE, here!

Pros:

First, the activities for this resource are great for helping children learn edifying scripture. There’s an activity for each weekday, Monday thru Friday, that requires children to do the following for each memory verse:

  • Activity 1—Draw what the verse means to you.
  • Activity 2—Write a sentence about the verse.
  • Activity 3—Arrange the verse (cut-and-paste activity).
  • Activity 4—Trace the verse.
  • Activity 5—Color the picture.
180 Days of Memory Verse Activities for Kids
180 Days of Memory Verse Activities for Kids | Drawing what the verse means to them was one of their favorite activities!

Second, my boys loved learning their verses while doing these activities! The memory verses were a terrific addition to our family devotional time. They inspired my boys to ask questions and encouraged great conversation. The memory verses are also designed to be palatable for young children, as my youngest son was three-years-old when we utilized this resource. Therefore, the verses are kept short and sweet, and the activities provide lots of repetition for mastery.

Third, this is a top-selling resource at Nike Anderson’s Classroom. By the looks of the reviews, other teachers, parents, and students have been loving this resource, too! All the scriptures included in this resource are available for patrons to view before downloading the product, so it’s clear exactly what verses are covered and how they are worded in each series.

Cons:

The activities are designed for younger children from pre-k through third-grade, which means some of the verses in the activities have been re-phrased for palatability and understanding. You’ll mainly find this to be true for the “Our God the Creator” series, which summarizes some of the Genesis verses to “God created light on the first day,” “God created the sky on the second day,” and so forth. This hasn’t been a problem for us since we always read and review the verses straight from the Bible before completing the activities.

 

2. Language Arts—All-In-One Homeschool (Level 1)

About:

If you’re not familiar with the All-In-One Homeschool, it’s an online comprehensive Christian-based curriculum that is free to use!  While I’m going to talk about their level one language arts curriculum, this resource offers curricula for all core subjects for grades pre-k through high school. It even offers electives like Bible, Art, Computer, Foreign Languages, and more! As I mentioned, it’s free, but you’ll need access to the internet, computer, and basic school supplies to take advantage of this resource.

My first-grader enjoyed the Language Arts 1 curriculum. This curriculum offers a basic review of phonics before delving into the following concepts for first and/or second graders:

  • Nouns
  • Pronouns
  • Synonyms
  • Plurals
  • Punctuation
  • Digraphs
  • Literature (Poetry from Abroad, Crane)
  • Story sequencing
  • Writing
  • Spelling
  • And more!
All-In-One Homeschool Language Arts 1 | Cut & paste story sequencing was a huge hit!
All-In-One Homeschool Language Arts 1 | Cut & paste story sequencing was a huge hit!

Pros:

First, let me say that this curriculum was well organized and easy to follow. The author did a phenomenal job arranging virtual worksheets, games, quizzes, and activity ideas for each subject. It is no-prep and no-nonsense!

Second, I loved that this curriculum was comprehensive and covered all the key concepts for first and second grade. I felt pretty confident that my child was getting a solid foundation in literature.

Third, I loved that this curriculum sets students up to work independently. Provided your child has great fluency in reading, they can totally work independently on this curriculum.

Lastly, incorporating levels rather than grades is another great concept. If a level is too easy or difficult for a child, they can be moved up or down to fit their academic need. Since all the levels are available at your fingertips, you can actually skim through them and extract from each one. For instance, your child may be ready to move up to level two for grammar but may have to stay on level one for spelling. The flexibility is awesome!

Cons:

I had to supplement this curriculum to incorporate more repetition and practice for mastery with certain concepts. I also ended up using another curriculum for spelling, as I did not like AIO’s setup for learning spelling words. I want to stress that every curriculum has different standards and will cover different concepts and topics. It’s up to you to decipher which topics outside the curriculum you’d like to cover. For me, using extra worksheets and free printables wasn’t much of a problem. But it does mean you have to search them out, making it an extra thing to add to your to-do list.

 

3. Reading—All-In-One Homeschool (Level 1)

About:

This online Christian-based reading curriculum by All-In-One Homeschool is designed to introduce readers to full-length novels, practice narration and summarizing, and improve vocabulary and comprehension. The curriculum uses the following literature:

  • The Tale of Jolly Robin by Bailey
  • The Tale of Solomon Owl by Bailey
  • The Tale of Reddy Woodpecker by Bailey
  • The Adventures of Danny Meadow Mouse by Burgess
  • Buster Bear by Burgess
  • McGuffey’s Second Eclectic Reader
  • Beatrix Potter stories
  • A variety of other short stories and poems

This resource can be used primarily online or you can purchase the materials in book form for just $15.

Pros:

First, the curriculum had a great choice of literature with advanced vocabulary. The vocabulary is challenging, yet appropriate, and not too overwhelming.

Second, I loved the fact that the curriculum introduced my first-grader to chapter books. He really enjoyed reading the novels authored by Bailey.

Lastly, this curriculum was no fuss and easy-to-follow. There’s also an audio option available, which is great because children can listen and follow along with the hardcopy at the same time—giving them an ear for what proper reading fluency sounds like.

All-In-One Homeschool Reading 1
All-In-One Homeschool Reading 1 | Inference practice on the whiteboard to accompany our reading lesson!

Cons:

The major con was that this curriculum is online. If you do not want your child to read entire chapters on the computer, you must print out the chapters, which can cost you ink and paper. Otherwise, purchasing the materials in book form is the better bet, but that defeats the whole purpose of the curriculum being free. Still, I think it’s a wise investment if you want your child to hold a physical book while reading.

Another con was that there were very few follow-up questions for each chapter, which means if you’re keeping a reading journal you’ll have to think of clever entry questions yourself. Children are just encouraged to “tell someone about the chapter,” which is fine, but not very thought-provoking.

My son was also disinterred in most of the literature selections and struggled to relate to the reading material. All-in-all, this was not our favorite curriculum.

 

4. Math—All-In-One Homeschool (Level 2)

About:

This is another curriculum from the free online Christian-based resource All-In-One Homeschool. This comprehensive math curriculum covers the following concepts for first and second graders:

  • Grids
  • Number lines
  • Graphs
  • Pie charts
  • Place value
  • Word problems
  • Money
  • Time
  • Measurement
  • Fractions
  • Fact families
  • Regrouping
  • Memorizing addition and subtraction facts

This curriculum comprises levels rather than grades, so it’s advisable to ensure the material is appropriate for your child’s mastery level before you begin. This curriculum is also set up for independent learning, so strong reading skills are required unless the child is accompanied by an adult.

Pros:

First, I loved the access to other free resources. There were a ton of free awesome math games for fluency practice! My son enjoyed playing most of the games and they really did help him understand and master the material.

Second, I loved that the first half of the curriculum focused on practicing mental math for sums up to 20, which is essential for advancing to a third-grade math level.

Lastly, I loved that this curriculum encouraged hands-on learning with manipulatives you can find in your home. Hands-on learning is so important at this age!

All-In-One Homeschool Math 2 | Hands-on practice with our lesson on money!
All-In-One Homeschool Math 2 | Hands-on practice with our lesson on money!

Cons:

This math curriculum did not cover multiplication. At least not to the degree that it should, considering it’s recommended that second-graders know how to multiply fluently by 2’s, 3’s and 5’s by the end of the school year. There’s some coverage on skip counting but not necessarily multiplication factors and products, so if this is important to you be sure to give your child more practice using supplementary materials.  There is not much material on adding or regrouping three-digit numbers, either. Again, I recommend supplementary materials if you wish to learn and practice advanced regrouping.

 

5. Science—The Magic School Bus (K-2)

About:

This is a comprehensive science curriculum that includes videos, lesson plans, experiments, and activity pages for pre-K thru second-grade. There are twelve units and topics covered:

  • Space
  • Forces
  • Weather
  • Energy
  • In the home
  • The human body
  • Animals
  • Reptiles
  • Birds
  • Dinosaurs
  • Fossils
  • Archaeology
  • Bugs
  • Water
  • Sealife
  • Rocks
  • Volcanoes
  • Habitats

All twelve units encompass a 180-day curriculum with corresponding episodes from The Magic School Bus. That means there’s something to do for every weekday of the school year!

Pros:

First, the experiments were easy to do and most of the materials needed could be found right in my home. I recommend printing out all the experiments for the week and making a checklist to ensure you have everything you need.

Second, I loved that the curriculum was no-prep. The lessons provided notations for the instructor explaining what students should learn, key terms, and what questions to ask the students, among other things. There was no additional research required unless my boys wished to advance in a topic.

The third thing I loved about this free curriculum was that it was pretty adaptable and I did not have to cover all the topics in sequence. There were many weeks where we jumped to other topics that were more relevant to my children’s current interests.

Lastly, I loved that this curriculum included a list of recommended books for each unit. That made reserving library books and planning ahead much easier. It also meant I didn’t have to struggle to find supplementary materials!

The Magic School Bus Science Curriculum
The Magic School Bus Science Curriculum | A fun lesson on constellations included making telescopes that looked like we were looking at the Big Dipper!

Cons:

While the Magic School Bus curriculum is great, especially for those moms who aren’t well versed in science, I do forewarn that older children (closer to second grade) may become bored or unimpressed by some of the experiments. This is definitely a curriculum for the younger ones who are new to science. My then seven-year-old, who took STEM classes at the time, started to lose interest in the curriculum by the second semester. However, he loved watching the corresponding episodes!

 

6. Geography—50 States of the USA

About:

I created this 50 States of the USA resource as a gentle introduction to geography for anyone looking to go through the US map state-by-state.  Each activity covers all 50 states, including the state capital, and aims to build and strengthen the following skills for grades pre-k thru first-grade:

  • Trace it—Penmanship.
  • Find it—Critical thinking and problem-solving.
  • Color it—Creativity and fine motor skills.

These activities not only help familiarize children with the US map, but helps children learn how to recognize and spell state names and recognize state flags.

Pros:

First, this product is wallet friendly. This product was only free for me because I created it, but I do have a freebie available, here, for those interested in trying it out. The freebie includes three states, Alaska, Rhode Island, and DC. If you’re interested in the full set, it is available at Nike Anderson’s Classroom and is extremely affordable. It is also currently my Best Seller.

Second, the activities in this resource not only helped familiarize my children with the US map, but also helped them learn how to recognize and spell state names and recognize state flags. It also covered state abbreviations and regions. My boys learned so much and enjoyed coloring the flags for each state.

Third, this resource is very buildable. I maximized this resource by supplementing it with other free resources. I checked-out books from the local library, I utilized the political maps in our classroom, and we watched National Geographic Kids’ YouTube channel that has awesome educational videos for almost every US state.

Lastly, this resource is no-nonsense and easy to use. It doesn’t bombard children with a bunch of facts and is a very gentle introduction to US geography.

See what other teachers and parents had to say about this best-selling resource at Nike Anderson’s Classroom!

 

50 States of the USA Geography | A fun activity to accompany our lesson on Illinois!
50 States of the USA Geography | A fun activity to accompany our lesson on Illinois!

Cons:

This resource is not a comprehensive curriculum, so you will need to supplement it. For a more comprehensive curriculum that covers regions, capitals, fun facts, and more, I created the All About the 50 States of the USA mega bundle.


Would I recommend these resources to a friend? I have actually recommended all of them to any friend that asks for curriculum advice. You’ll hear me mention often that it’s not the curriculum itself, but what you put into the curriculum that makes it effective. Where I felt a curriculum lacked, I simply supplemented. However, I’ve even had to supplement some of the boxed curriculum I purchased. Which goes to show that every curriculum will have “holes.” There’s no such thing as a perfect curriculum. If you don’t believe me, read the forums for some of the most recommended award-winning curricula and you’ll see not everyone is impressed by them.

I want to hear from you: Have you ever tried any of these freebies? What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments!  


DOWNLOAD YOUR 50 States of the USA FREEBIE!

Geography 50 States of the USA FREE Download Activity

 

DOWNLOAD YOUR 180 Days of Memory Verses FREEBIE!

180 Days of Memory Verses for KIDS Free Download

 

GET FULL COPY of 50 States of the USA!

50 States of the USA Geography Activities for Kids

 

GET FULL COPY of 180 Days of Memory Verses

180 Days of Memory Verses for Kids

How to Combat Summer Learning Loss

Summer Schedule to Combat Learning Loss and Restore Order + FREEBIE

The summer vacation sort of crept up on us.

In Georgia, most kids are out of school by the third week of May. But in our homeschool, summer vacation wasn’t supposed to begin until June.

What happened?

My second-grader decided he wanted to take his final assessments early. All his friends at church were already out of public school, and he wanted to join the crowd.

So, I let him.

It was a win-win, really. We had a family trip approaching and I thought It’d be nice to come back home and not have to worry about school work.

The problem?

After that lovely trip to Maryland, where we got to visit my siblings and explore the beauty of Washington, DC, there was total chaos in our home. Fighting over games, tablets, toys, and personal space ensued. Our living room floor was full of Legos, art supplies, and Cheerios. Our kitchen sink housed every single dish from the cabinets by the end of the day. And I was close to losing it.

Capitol Building Washington, DC
Our Family Trip to Maryland Included a Day-Trip to the Nation’s Capital

But then I remembered something; amid our travel adventures, I’d forgotten to write out our summer schedule. So, I did just that.

When I say peace was restored almost immediately, it’s no exaggeration. I showed the schedule to our boys and it was like a weight was taken off them. Knowing their daily expectations offered them a sense of security and control. Even more, creating a schedule that carried out my vision to combat summer learning loss gave me peace of mind.

Let’s not get it twisted. There are still those days when everyone’s mood clashes. Today, as I write this post, is one of them. However, incorporating a summer routine has definitely given us smoother days when we’re stuck at home.

So, what does the schedule entail?

The purpose of the schedule, other than to restore order, is to ensure our boys keep their brains sharp, limit technology usage, and learn something new this summer. I understand resting from the demands of schoolwork is essential for developing brains, but I also wanted to ensure our boys were spending a little time each day building fluency with old skills and taking the initiative to develop new ones.

Take a look at our summer schedule below and download your FREE editable copy, here!

Summer Schedule to Combat Learning Loss
Click the Image to Download Your Editable FREEBIE and Create Your Own Summer Schedule!

As you can see, I’ve split the schedule into three parts: mornings, afternoons, and evenings. Every morning, there are three requirements to enjoy afternoon screen time:

First, our boys must read at least one book or two chapters. My five-year-old is still new at reading so we’ve worked it out where my oldest son does shared-reading with him. There are several studies that illustrate the significance of summer reading to prevent learning loss. However, our reason for ensuring our children hit the books during summer vacation is to simply encourage the lifestyle of reading.

Boys Love to Read Books by Mo Willems
Our Boys Love to Read Books by Mo Willems

Second, our boys must do at least one math activity. I made each of them fun interactive activity binders that house at least 35 activities for math fluency practice. You can read more about it here or purchase it here. These binders are a great alternative to worksheets because the Velcro attachments allow for repeated use until mastery. Additionally, these activities are perfect for kinesthetic learners who thrive with hands-on learning.

Boys Interactive Math Binder
My Son Practices Fluency Using His Interactive Math Binder

Third, our boys must complete their chore checklist. This checklist is basically a reminder for them to clean up after themselves, which is super helpful to me. Since they’ll either be playing with their tablets or watching TV, completing their chores in the morning means the house is likely to stay tidy all afternoon. I laminated the checklist (and schedule) to make them reusable with dry-erase markers.

Chore Checklist for Kids
Chore Checklist for Kids

Believe it or not, these requirements only take my boys about an hour or two to complete after breakfast. After that, they usually build Legos or draw pictures until the afternoon. I also created a list of activities to choose from should they grow tired of building skyscrapers with their Legos or drawing Sonic characters with scrap paper.

Why have a summer schedule?

Like most children, my boys thrive on structure. It offers them a sense of control and limits the frustration that can often trigger defiance and sibling rivalry. I’ve also made it a requirement that both must complete their checklist before afternoon screen time, which encourages them to work as a team.

Schedules are also great for me and my husband, who work from home. We know that from noon until four in the evening is going to be the quietest time to get important things done since the kids are typically quiet during screen time. To be honest, they’re actually so quiet, they’ve finessed us into having longer screen time because we’ve lost track of the clock. We must remember to set that egg timer!

Lastly, schedules are a great way to ensure we reach our summer goals. In our case, our main goal was to ensure our children were still sharpening their brains and building new skills. Trust me when I say that summer learning loss is real, but over the years we’ve discovered that making fluency practice a requirement decreased the amount of re-teaching we’d have to do for reading and math in the Fall. Repetition is one of the keys to mastery for children.

What are some alternatives to screen time?

Evenings in our home are scheduled to help our boys get their minds off the screen. Children must be encouraged to try new things and develop interests apart from television and video games. Therefore, our schedule reminds the boys of some of the things they like to do. Those activities include:

  • Playing the keyboard
  • Cooking
  • Dancing
  • Listening to audiobooks
  • Telling jokes
  • Making crafts
  • Drawing pictures
  • Playing sports
  • Playing board games
  • Storytelling
  • Playing outside
  • Playing MadLibs
Educational Board Games for Boys
Board Games are Great Alternatives to Screen Time During Those Summer Days You’re Stuck at Home.

Not only are these activities fun, but they’re also a sneaky way to incorporate additional learning into our daily summer routine. Of course, most of these activities will hold the attention of older children. But if you have wee ones, visit my friends Zoe, Josephine, and Angela at ThinkBaby.org and read their post “FUN & EDUCATIONAL DIY CRAFT IDEAS FOR TODDLERS.” They’ve got an awesome website full of gems for new and veteran moms!

What happens when we’ve got somewhere to be?

Summer vacation is filled with camps, traveling, sports, swimming, fellowship, and much more! This week, my boys have Vacation Bible School in the mornings. Next week, they’ll have afternoon swimming at our local pool. We try as much as possible to keep them involved with outdoor activities. When we have somewhere to be, we just pick up the schedule where we left off.

For instance, after VBS, my boys complete all their morning requirements and enjoy screen time for the rest of the afternoon. Next week, morning requirements must be completed before afternoon swimming. The remainder of the schedule will commence when we return home in the evening.

Schedules are made to be broken in our home. Therefore, we invite spontaneity. We are known for taking impromptu trips out of town, fellowshipping with friends until the wee hours of the morning, and hopping in the car to attend that local event we just learned about an hour ago. It’s no big deal if we ditch the schedule for things we find more enriching to our lives.

Vacation Bible School FUN Time Travel
Vacation Bible School Shenanigans With My Futuristic 8-Year-Old
HEART 360 (2)
My Boys Had a Blast Spending Their Mornings at VBS Where the Theme Was “Time Travel.”

Why do we have so much screen time during summers?

Summer screen time is a treat because my boys are only allowed screen time on weekends during the school year. Screen time basically consists of anything from watching tutorials, to coding and playing video games. While the allotted time is from noon to four in the afternoon, I admit some days our boys are probably watching screens much longer than that.

My husband and I have no qualms about children and screens, but we do see the value in controlling the amount of time our boys spend watching screens in order to help them develop other interests. Likewise, we’ve recognized that eliminating screen time on school days helped increase their concentration and work ethic, as they no longer tried to “hurry up and finish” school work in order to get to their video games.

There are many scholarly articles that make a case for why screen time is or isn’t good for children. I say, it all boils down to what’s best for your family. I know parents who can’t do any screen time whatsoever due to their child/ren having sensory processing disorders. Our boys can handle limited screen time, but we do heavily restrict what they’re allowed to consume (i.e. no violent or inappropriate games or shows).

Coding on a MAC for Boys
My 8-Year-Old’s Favorite Pastime Is Coding New Games with Scratch.

I hope you enjoyed me sharing a glimpse of what our summer is looking like this year. I decided to write this post because some of you liked the summer schedule I posted on Instagram and I wanted a way to provide an editable copy for you. I also love sharing what works for me in hope that it may work for you, too.

If you’re looking for activities to do with your children this summer, I highly suggest connecting with your local library, homeschool group, or recreation center and check out their schedules. You’d be surprised how many free and low-cost activities these resources have to offer.

I want to hear from you: What are your summer plans? Let me know in the comments!

5 Chapter Book Series My Son Loves

5 Chapter Book Series My Son Loves

A while ago, I noticed the effort my second-grader once put into his reading curriculum faded. In fact, his spark for reading somehow disappeared altogether. While he’s had a love/hate relationship with reading this year, I can say for the most part that once my son started reading the required text, he’d actually end up enjoying it. But this outcome started becoming few and far between.

 

One day, instead of telling my son to rewrite his summaries, I simply read through some of the required literature for his curriculum. All I can say is, BORING! We had just read through a wonderful series by Thornton Burgess, which I mention below. Now, the curriculum was full of short stories about medieval history that my son struggled to connect with.

 

I finally asked, “Do you enjoy reading this?” To which my son replied with a defeated, “no.” It was then I decided to forgo the latter half of the reading curriculum and implement one of my own. Not because I believe everything my son learns should be “fun,” but because the curriculum no longer aligned with our vision for homeschool.

 

And what is our vision? Part of it is to foster a healthy relationship with learning that teaches and encourages our children to be lifestyle learners. In my opinion, there’s nothing healthy about forcing a child to read something they simply can’t connect with. Instead, I decided to find literature that would put that spark back into his eye.

 

Here are the ones that made the cut… and they all can be found at your local library!

 

5 Chapter Book Series My Son Loves

 

 1. Captain Underpants

Captain Underpants

This superhero series by Dav Pilkey includes 12 chapter books. Captain Underpants is the nice alter ego of a mean principle named Mr. Krupp. The superhero was accidentally created by two fourth graders, George and Harold, who somehow managed to hypnotize the mean principal and turn him into a superhero that mirrors that of their homemade comic books. At the sound of finger snapping, Mr. Krupp becomes the notorious Captain Underpants. He returns to an ill-tempered principle when soaked with water. The recommended reading age for this series is seven and up.

 

What does my son like about this book? If it’s not obvious yet, it’s names like “Captain Underpants,” “Turbo Toilet 2000,” “Doctor Diaper,” “Sir Stinks-A-Lot,” and the list goes on. The silly names and storylines are what make this series a winner for my second-grader. Not to mention, the comical blacklined illustrations that make the novels even more engaging.

 

2. Amelia Bedelia

Amelia Bedelia

This chapter book series by Peggy and Herman Parish chronicles the mishaps of a fun-loving maid named Amelia Bedelia. Employed by a wealthy couple called the Rogers, Amelia Bedelia never gets anything right due to her literal take on simple commands. For this protagonist, a request like “dust the furniture” may result in tons of dust being poured onto the Rogers’ expensive furniture. Since Amelia Bedelia never got the memo on figures of speech, asking her to “undust” the furniture would be better received.

 

What does my son like about this book? The comical effect of Amelia Bedelia’s incorrect actions. It’s just a fun way to explore figures of speech and to think of more precise ways to communicate with others. My son laughs out loud often while reading any book from this series. Again, this is another silly chapter book series perfect for ages seven and older.

 

3. The Cul-de-Sac Kids

 

Cul de Sac Kids Chapter Books

This fun series chronicles the shenanigans of neighborhood friends who call themselves The Cul-de-Sac-Kids. Each series shares a compelling narrative by introducing a new mystery for The Cul-de-Sac-Kids to solve. Written by Beverly Lewis, this chapter book series also incorporates invaluable life lessons like the importance of faith, friendship, and family.

 

What does my son like about this book? The presence of diverse characters, which is embarrassingly lacking in children’s literature these days. The diverse characters also mirror my son’s real-life friendships, making them super relatable. This chapter book series is marketed for ages seven and up.

 

4. The Stories Julian Tells

The Stories Julian Tells

This series is new to us, but I wanted to include it because it was one of the first books my son gravitated to when it came home from the library. The story is about a boy named Julian who uses his big imagination to tell amazing stories, causing some mischief along the way with his little brother, Huey. The book is written by Ann Cameron, who also wrote another series of books about Julian’s best friend, Gloria. If you’re looking for chapter books with black protagonists, check out these series!

 

What does my son like about this book? Right off the bat, my son likes that the male protagonist looks like him. I imagine it was one of the first books he gravitated to because of the colorful illustration of the smiling brown boy on the cover. There are also some great blacklined illustrations inside this book. We’re very interested in reading other books from the Julian series. The recommended reading level for this series is seven and up.

 

5. The Adventures of Jimmy Skunk

Adventures of Jimmy Skunk Chapter Books for Kids

I was not expecting my son to like these series of chapter books by Thornton Burgess. They are a bit old-fashioned, originally published in 1918 I believe. This chapter book series, along with Adventures of Old Mr. Toad, and Peter Rabbit, accompanied my son’s second-grade reading curriculum and he loved reading all of them. The stories take readers on an adventure of what life is like in the meadow for creatures likes toads, foxes, rabbits, skunks, possums, and so forth. The furry characters are funny, mischievous, and likable.

 

What does my son like about this book? My son really connected with the humor in this series as the characters were so set on pranking each other. He also learned about some of his favorite animals and what life is like in the meadow. I loved the awesome vocabulary used throughout this series. Very challenging, yet easy for children to use in everyday conversation. This series is suitable for ages seven and up.


 

That concludes our list of five fun chapter book series worth reading. Another great one is Chronicles of Narnia, but we’re using that for our read-aloud. I know. I know. It’s a shame we’re just now letting this series grace our learning experience. But my boys are mostly into comical books right now so that’s the genre we primarily read. They love to laugh, and I don’t blame them. Learning mixed with laughter is a great recipe for developing lifestyle learners.

 

Let us know your favorite chapter book series below!  

Day in the Life of homeschool Preschool and Kindergarten

A Homeschool Day-in-the-Life of My 4-Year-Old | Teaching Preschool

One of the common challenges in homeschool families is finding the time to teach younger children when so much time is dedicated to helping their older siblings with assignments.

I have a four-year-old and a second-grader and, let me tell you, it’s tough! Even tougher for my friends with four children or more. Preschoolers often like to fight for your attention when they see you giving so much of it to their siblings. I’m here to tell you, that’s not such a bad thing and you can use this attention-seeking to your advantage.

When your preschooler sees that learning seems to get and keep your attention, they’re more likely to want to be included in whatever learning their older siblings have going on. At least this was the case for me. I know it’s tempting to let younger children go off and do their own thing, but try adding small assignments to their routine that help them feel like a “big kid.” You may find you have a little more peace during your homeschool hours.

So, here is my day in the life of my four-year-old on any given homeschool day. This glimpse into our world illustrates how I manage to balance time between my two boys. As a side note, you may notice on my blog that I refer to my four-year-old as a preschooler and kindergartner interchangeably. That’s because according to his age he is technically in preschool, but he’s acquiring many skills that meet kindergarten requirements in our state.


A Homeschool Day-in-the-Life of My 4-Year-Old


8:30 am: Devotional

Let’s start with devotional. We’re currently using Our Daily Bread for kids, which we love. The daily devotionals are short, sweet, and to the point. They also are a great inspiration to delve into the Word of God. Both kids enjoy me reading aloud and will sit quietly and attentively while I do so. In previous years, I made activities for my boys to do while I read the Bible aloud. Some days, my preschooler is just not into sitting still so he goes off and plays with his toys, which is totally allowed.  That leads us to…

Tip One: Let your little ones have off days. We all have days when we’re just not feeling something. Allowing them to choose something else to do instead shows that you understand and respect their feelings. It also reduces the likelihood of your little one making a scene which can cause disruption and set the tone for the rest of the day, making it difficult for you to maintain the patience needed to work with your older children.

Our Daily Bread Devotional for Children
My children love Our Daily Bread Devotional for Kids.

9:00 am: Basic Skills Fluency Practice

This is my second-grader’s designated reading time. Since I have him read aloud to me, I need this time to be pretty quiet. This is when I break out my preschooler’s favorite activities. We use the Hooked-on Phonics Fundamentals workbook, which is full of educational cut and paste activities that keep my preschooler busy and happy. During this time, my little one practices fluency with basic skills like letters, phonics, numbers, counting, shapes, and more. He is also engaging those fine motor skills necessary for handwriting. So…

Tip Two: Have independent activities on hand. Give your little ones activities you know they can do on their own to help build confidence, independence, and fluency while you take time to work with older children.

Preschool and kindergarten basic skills fluency practice.
Preschool and kindergarten basic skills fluency practice.

9:30 am: Reading Fluency Practice

My preschooler and I practice reading fluency while my second-grader works independently on to his spelling curriculum. We are using the Hooked-on Phonics curriculum and are supplementing with Bob Books. Hooked on Phonics has its own set of starter books, but he seems to like the Bob Books more. We borrowed our Bob Books from the local library and are allowed to have them for 6 weeks at a time. We spend no more than 15 minutes practicing reading. Another 15 minutes is dedicated to storybook read-alouds.

Tip Three: Schedule one-on-one learning time with your little one when older kids have independent work. 

Hooked on Phonics Reading Curriculum for Preschool
Hooked on Phonics is our curriculum of choice for preschool and kindergarten.

10:00 am: Handwriting Practice 

My preschooler practices handwriting while my second-grader and I delve into his language arts lesson.  I love dry-erase books for handwriting practice because children can practice as much as they’d like without accumulating paper waste. The books we love for handwriting practice are the Kindergarten dry-erase workbook and the Sight Word workbook. I taught my preschooler how to follow the arrows, and to always write from left to right to ensure he’s writing letters, numbers, and words properly. Now, he can pretty much work on his own. Therefore…

Tip Four: Train your little one to work independently during homeschool off-hours. On weekends or when all your older children have completed their homeschool assignments, take just a little time to train your younger children to work more independently on key skills. This may take time and patience but is well worth the investment when you find yourself running from kid to kid during busy homeschool hours.

Handwriting Practice for preschool and kindergarten.
Independent handwriting practice for preschool and kindergarten.

10:30 am:  Everyone takes a snack break at this point.

11:00 am: Geography

My boys do geography together. We use a curriculum base called Beginning Geography and supplement with YouTube videos, library books, hands-on-learning, and kinesthetic activities. This is a great time of day because my preschooler really looks forward to it. He may not understand everything we learn about, but he enjoys doing the corresponding activities.

If you’re wondering how I teach two grade-levels one subject, here’s an example:

This week we’re learning about reading directions on a map using a compass rose. My main objective is for my preschooler to understand that north is up, south is down, east is to his right and west is to his left. Aside from looking at real maps I had on hand, we watched a Youtube video that explained what compasses were used for and how to use them.  To challenge my oldest son, he watched a documentary on the history of the compass rose. Later, we made our own compasses using supplies I had on hand. Then we played a kinesthetic activity where the boys had to jump toward the direction I shouted out. It was so much fun and something both grade-levels could enjoy.

Tip Five: Don’t be afraid to include your little ones in on the lessons. This is especially true if the age gap isn’t that wide between older siblings. In my case, I can use a curriculum base designed for grades k-2 and it’ll work for both of my boys. Last year, we used a science curriculum designed for first and second graders and my preschooler was able to do all of the lessons and experiments with us. Children are sponges at this age. You’ll be surprised by what they pick up on.

Geography for preschool and early elementary
A kinesthetic game for learning directions: Jump to your North, South, East, and West.

12:00 pm: Science

Both my boys also learn science together. This year, we are really loving interactive science notebooks. This is actually my preschooler’s favorite part of the day because he loves cut-and-paste activities. Whenever we finish a lesson, he often asks if we can do another one. I use the same supplemental method for science that I do for geography. We read books, do fun activities, and include hands-on learning and experiments whenever possible. That points us to…

Tip Six: Interactive notebooks are a win for everybody. You can find free or low-cost interactive notebook lessons just about anywhere, for any grade, and any subject! This works especially if you have children with larger age gaps. Everyone can sit around the table with all their supplies and work on their interactive notebooks. Works for us!

Interactive science notebooks for preschool and kindergarten.
Interactive science notebooks are great for preschool and kindergarten.

1:00 pm: Lunch and Recess

2:00 pm: Math

I save math for the end of the day because it’s my boys’ strongest subject. Plus, it’s also a subject that my second-grader can do on his own unless he’s learning a new concept. I like to work one-on-one with my preschooler on the days when my second-grader isn’t learning a new concept. We use math link cubes to practice addition and subtraction. We also practice number sequencing and counting to 20, 30, and beyond. Every now and then we’ll go over basic and 3-dimensional shapes, but he pretty much has that information stored in his brain.

Additionally, I try a variety of hands-on activities that I just make up myself. Matching number quantity to the numerical value is one of the activities we do often, and we can use just about anything we have on hand to do it. I also make use of our addition and subtraction flashcards and have my preschooler use cubes to determine the sum or difference. So…

Tip Seven: Save your little one’s strongest subject for the end of the school day to cut down on frustration. If you happen to need to sneak away to teach your older children new concepts, you can start the younger ones off and they can hold their own until you return.

Math practice ideas for preschool and kindergarten.
Math practice ideas for preschool and kindergarten.

 

Our school day typically ends around three in the afternoon. This is not an everyday schedule as we have fieldtrip days, co-op days, and playdate days pretty regularly. This is, however, the schedule we fall back on to keep us on track.

I’d like to end this post by saying there will be a day when none of this advice works. Take heart, it happens to the best of us. I will say that each semester gets easier. Before our winter break, it was much harder to keep my preschooler engaged and occupied. After winter break, things seemed more manageable. Your family will live if you do away with curricula for a moment to meet the physical, educational, emotional and social needs of your younger children. A break from monotony is always a great idea!

Now it’s your turn: How do you balance homeschool with your children? Give us some ideas that have worked for your family in the comments below!


Need more ideas for preschool? Check out these posts:

Toddler Genius | YouTube Channels That Made My Toddler Smarter

Tot-School Tuesdays | Preschool Addition Facts

Tot-School Tuesdays | Number Matching & Sequencing

Tot-School Tuesdays | “I Can Count” Busy Box

Free Resources for Preschool

What Your Reading Curriculum Is Probably Missing

What Your Reading Curriculum Is Probably Missing | Pre-Reading Skills

Last year, my then three-year-old decided he wanted to start his reading journey. I admit I was a bit hesitant considering all the research I’ve read making a compelling case against early reading. In fact, I’ve had success waiting until my oldest son was six-years-old before starting formal reading lessons. Although some of his peers learned to read as early as three-years-old, my oldest son went from being an emergent reader to reading chapter books in a matter of a few short months. That alone was enough to sell me on waiting with my youngest son.

But things didn’t quite work like that. One day my little Jam was watching a phonics video on YouTube (Hooked on Phonics to be exact) and he said “I want to do that. I want to read.” I wasn’t surprised as he’d frequently asked me how to pronounce words in books and how to spell certain words. He was ready, for sure. So, I bought the Hooked on Phonics curriculum and things went so well for us. Following Jam’s pace, we moved through the preschool curriculum rather quickly and started the kindergarten curriculum a few weeks later. Jam read his first primer book and appeared to have mastered sounding out words.

And then it happened. Regression.

Suddenly, Jam became sloppy at pronouncing sounds. Words he once knew without a second thought, he seemed to struggle with. It made me question whether our reading curriculum had a strong enough base for teaching pre-reading skills.

Has this ever happened to you?

One day, while researching ways to help my preschooler read more fluently, I stumbled across a website shared by my local homeschool group. While reading through the wealth of free information shared, I discovered it may be a good idea to go back to square one. You see, our reading curriculum begins with phonics, but there’s a prereading skill all children should master before moving on to phonics. That skill is called phonological awareness.

What is phonological awareness and how is it different from phonics? Phonological awareness is the sounds in language that help children distinguish sounds in words. This is different from phonics, which involves the relationship between sounds and written symbols. Unlike phonics, phonological awareness refers to sounds only and most tasks require a student to rely solely on listening.

Phonological awareness is the building block for phonics because it helps children identify the sound components of spoken words, making it easier to master the alphabetic code. Children with high phonological awareness can identify oral rhymes, clap out syllables in a word, and identify words with the same beginning sounds. Research shows that without this foundation, learning to read and spell can prove difficult for children.

When we teach phonological awareness, we’re simply helping a child train their ear to distinguish sounds, particularly in words. I can’t talk about phonological awareness without mentioning it’s subset, phonemic awareness, because people often confuse the two. Phonemic awareness is the ability to distinguish individual sounds in spoken words. It is the next phase, after phonological awareness, to mastering pre-reading skills. The difference? Phonological awareness focuses on spoken language as a whole, whereas phonemic awareness focuses on spoken words.

Helping a child heighten their phonological awareness can be done in just a few simple exercises. According to educational professionals, teaching a child to pay close attention to familiar environmental sounds is a great introduction to phonological awareness for preschool and kindergarten. A child will then learn to master dividing sentences, whole words, and syllables before phonemic awareness training.

Here’s how it’s done! Below, I included our three favorite exercises for increasing phonological awareness (and following instructions!). These exercises can be modified to challenge your little learners. For the complete curriculum, click here.


Introduction to Phonological Awareness

Strengthen Those Listening Skills for Pre-Reading


 

1. Name that sound.

My preschooler loved this exercise. All we did was play this YouTube video to see if he could identify each sound. I asked him to keep his eyes closed and focus on his listening skills. If he recognized the sound, I asked him to tell me its name. If your child has already learned phonics, like mine, this is also a great activity for identifying letter sounds and phonemes to further strengthen their phonological skills. Remember, these are oral activities and they are using their ears only. No flashcards or written symbols are needed for these exercises.

What Your Reading Curriculum May Be Missing
Phonological Awareness Exercise | Name That Sound | Big Brother Joined in for Moral Support

2. First Sound, Last Sound.

This exercise helps children develop memory and attention as they recall two sounds and their order.  We used these sounds to complete this exercise. Before beginning the exercise, I chose two sounds to play aloud and made sure my little one understood the name of each sound. I then played each sound one at a time. After playing both sounds, I asked Jam to tell me the name of the first sound and the name of the last sound. Again, this activity can be amended for children who already started learning phonics. Just use letter sounds and blends instead. Like I’ve said, we are sort of backtracking to get more phonological awareness training.

What Your Reading Curriculum May Be Missing
Phonological Awareness Exercise | Use Your Listening Skills to Name the First and Last Sound

 

3. Start and Stop.

This is a simple exercise that helps children practice following directions and strengthen their listening skills. I made a sound by snapping my fingers and told my preschooler the name of the sound. I then asked him to raise his right hand when he heard the sound, and to place his hand at his side when the sound stops. This is one of the first exercises we started doing and by the second day, my preschooler raised and lowered his hand with great accuracy.

Phonological Awareness Game
Phonological Awareness Exercise | Start and Stop | Raise Your Hand When The Sound Starts
What Your Reading Curriculum May Be Missing
Phonological Awareness Exercise| Start and Stop | Lower Your Hands When The Sound Stops

 

It’s important to note that high phonological awareness is not necessarily correlated with high intelligence. A child may struggle with phonological awareness but excel in many other areas. Remember, there are many types of intelligence. Linguistic intelligence is just one of many.

15 Ways to Encourage Your Reluctant Reader

How to Encourage Your Reluctant Reader  | 15 Solutions

“My kid hates reading.” I hear that phrase all the time.

I have two readers. A four-year-old who’s emerging and a second-grader who reads fluently. Let me just say they’ve both had their reluctant moments. I won’t even begin to discuss the reluctant readers I encountered during my tutoring days. Trying to find a formula that works for reluctant readers can be frustrating, especially since every child is different. Here me out when I say it’s never the fault of the reluctant reader. It’s our job as their teacher to help them discover what method works best for them—help them soar! Below, are some of the strategies that helped me find a winning formula for each child. I hope you find these tips useful in helping to develop a winning formula for your reluctant reader.


 

15 Ways to Encourage Your Reluctant Reader

1. Wait.

Before I discuss my next few points, I want to mention this: If you have a reluctant reader under the age of seven, try waiting. Children learn to read at their own pace. My oldest son didn’t start reading until age six. It took four months for him to read fluently. It was a quick process because he was ready. I did not push early learning, but I did encourage pre-reading skills. Nothing formal. My youngest son, who is four, started learning to read at age three because he wanted to. He was eager at first but later regressed for months. We paused our curriculum and waited until he was ready to continue. You can find several scholarly articles making a compelling case for waiting until age seven to begin formal reading lessons. I say, it depends on the child. When a child is ready, there’s no stopping them. When they aren’t ready, early reading can prove counterproductive.

 

2. Be realistic.

15 Ways to Encourage Your Reluctant Reader
Setting Realistic Expectations WIll Help Reluctant Readers

Listen carefully: your child may not be a reader. I know It’s scary. The terror of realizing your child hates practicing such a vital skill. But guess what? It’s going to be alright. Trust me when I say you just haven’t found what motivates him yet. In the meantime, set realistic expectations. Your child may not pick up a book for leisure, but he will read when it serves his interest.  Which leads me to my next point…

 

3. Discover what excites them.

Those “boring” chapter books that accompany their reading curriculum may be a snooze. Why make your child read something boring? After all, you yourself typically enjoy reading what fascinates you. Discover what excites your little reader. For instance, my son loves informational texts. He’ll freely read up on anything from coding to architecture “how-to” books. Reading is reading.  Hey, even comic books count. If your child practices often, it shouldn’t matter what their text of choice is.

 

4. Make lessons short.

15 Ways to Encourage Reluctant Readers
Keep Lessons Short For Reluctant Readers

If reading is frustrating for your child, make the lessons super short. I’m talking 10 minutes or less. I made the mistake of pushing my oldest son to complete full lessons and boy was it frustrating for both of us. Thankfully, he enjoyed reading once he got the hang of it. After much research and prayer, I learned to take it easy with my second son. He is less reluctant because our reading lessons are so short. Even better? He’s improving with each lesson. Remember, quality over quantity is best. You can gently increase the lesson time as your child masters the material.

 

5. Be repetitive.

Don’t be afraid to let your child read the same book, chapter, or passage repeatedly. At three-years-old, my youngest son mastered reading a primer titled “Cat.” That’s all he wanted to practice reading for weeks. Similarly, my oldest son reread Frog and Toad books countless times when he was first introduced to chapter books. Instead of following the recommended reading for their curriculum, I let them read these books. It helped build their reading comprehension, fluency, and confidence.

 

6. Offer incentives.

Last year, my oldest son exchanged an hour of reading for an hour of video games. There was hardly a day that went by that he didn’t cash in on this offer. This year, since we no longer allow video games during the week, he reads an extra hour in exchange for a later bedtime. You’ll read more about extending bedtime in my tip about establishing a reading hour. For my four-year-old, stickers and snacks do the job. I purposely scheduled his snack time after reading lessons to give him something to look forward to.

 

7. Establish a reading hour.

15 Ways to Encourage Your Reluctant Reader
Designated Reading Hours For The Family Can Encourage Reluctant Readers To Read More

Establish an hour every day when the house is quiet and everyone is expected to read. Guess what the best time to do this at my house is? If you said “bedtime” you’ve guessed correctly! My kids will do anything to stay up—that includes reading books. I give them permission stay up an extra hour if they read. It works! They sort of feel like they’re getting away with something.

 

8. Get competitive.

If your child is competitive in nature use it to their advantage by timing their reading speed. We like using an egg timer because the ticking sound encourages my son to focus. The goal is to see how much they’ve read in ten minutes, twenty minutes, or whatever time you’ve decided on. When the timer sounds, record the time and see if they can beat their own record the next time they read. A game I like to play with my youngest is sounding a loud noisemaker each time he reads a word correctly. My noisemaker of choice is a squeaker and, let me tell you, he thinks this game is absolutely hilarious. Admittedly, the squeaker is annoying, but it works and my four-year-old’s giggle is just adorable.

 

9. Visit the library or bookstore.

Sometimes being in an environment where other people are reading will offer encouragement to a reluctant reader. Not to mention the seemingly endless book selections available to suit their inquiring minds. When we take trips to the library, I let my kids pick out anything that interests them. I help them look up subjects, they take the books to the tables and read through them eagerly. No, they don’t read every single word. But listen, I’m just happy they’re excited about a book. We arrive home with 30-40 new books after each library visit, sometimes more! Which leads me to my next point.

 

10. Establish a diverse home library.

15 Ways To Encourage A Reluctant Reader
Diverse Book Selections Keep Reluctant Readers Interested

You don’t have to buy a bunch of books. I know I don’t. What I do is check out up to 50 books from the library every few weeks and keep our home library resources in rotation. This ensures there’s always something my kids will be interested in reading. We have award winning story books, books about computer programming, health, animals, black history, and more! These selections change every few weeks. And yes, my kids will actually read them—or at least look through them. If we really like a book, we consider purchasing it and making it part of our permanent library.

 

11. Get moving.

Sometimes it’s not the reading that kids dislike, but the sitting still part. If you’ve been trekking with me, you know my boys are kinesthetic learners. They love to move! Reading while pacing is a great antidote for little movers. It may drive you crazy to watch it, but trust that these movements are all a part of helping them concentrate and retain information as they read. If they don’t like pacing, try a stress reliever ball that they can squeeze when they feel the urge to move.

 

12. Let them listen to fluent readers.

Sometimes it may be that your reluctant reader hasn’t had enough examples of what fluent reading sounds like. Be sure to read aloud to them often so they can develop an ear for it. Let them follow along with you as you read so they can see how you pause after each comma, sentence, paragraph, etcetera. Audio-books are also great for this, but make sure it includes the physical copy of the book so that your child can follow along.

 

13. Be an example.

15 Ways to Encourage Your Reluctant Reader
Being An Example Is A Great Way To Inspire Reluctant Readers

Does your child ever see you read for leisure? It’s no secret that children learn more from the things we do than the things we say. A great way to encourage a reluctant reader is to simply get lost in a book yourself. You’ll convey the message that reading is fun and interesting. I typically read in bed after the kids are asleep, so I have to make a conscious effort to let them see me read every now and then.

 

14. Join a reading club.

Most libraries and bookstores will offer seasonal reading camps to help encourage a love for reading and motivate children to read more books. We always take advantage of these camps. It’s a great way for reluctant readers to challenge themselves, meet new friends, and be publicly rewarded for their achievements. If you’re a homeschooler, consider reading clubs or classes at your local co-op or homeschool group. This year, my oldest son has been taking a reading class that focuses on group reading. He loves this class so much that he signed up for it again this semester. It’s been a fun way for him to practice reading among his peers.

 

15. Remind them that they’re not alone.

15 Ways to Inspire Reluctant Readers
Sometimes Knowing They’re Not Alone Is All The Encouragement Reluctant Readers Need

Learning to read the English language is challenging. There are so many rules and “exceptions to the rules” that can frustrate an emergent reader. I like to remind my boys they’re accomplishing something that’s challenging for many people, but with regular practice they will master the art of reading. When my oldest was an emergent reader, it was like the weight was taken off his shoulder when I gave him a list of people he admired that had trouble reading at first but have now mastered the skill. Similarly, my four-year-old has witnessed the reading journey of his older brother and looks to him for inspiration. Sometimes knowing they aren’t the only one is comforting and motivating.


Your Turn: I want to hear from you. What are some strategies you’ve used to help your reluctant reader? Let us know in the comments!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!