Our Homeschool Room Tour

Today I am pulling back the curtain and giving you a glimpse inside our homeschool room. Join me for our homeschool room tour!

Our homeschool room tour
Some links are affiliate links. Meaning, should you make a purchase through one of the links I provide I may receive a small percentage at no cost to you.

I am often asked about our homeschool room and with so many friends turning to homeschooling this fall due to COVID, I’ve decided to give you our homeschool room tour. First, let me start by saying, I know how blessed I am to have a dedicated room. I know most people don’t have an extra room to use. That said, many families opt for the kitchen table or home office as a learning space. However, when my husband and I were building our house, years before we had children, we knew we were going to homeschool. Therefore, we built this room just for homeschooling. If you are just homeschooling for this coming year due to COVID, a kitchen table is fine! If you are interested in learning about more about homeschooling permanently I have lots of homeschooling posts including, Homeschooling Methods Explained.

Lots of moms have asked me if you need a dedicated room. I would say you need a dedicated space. That doesn’t mean the room can’t serve more than one purpose. Up until last year our classroom was also a playroom. But since we buckled down on home education, we removed the toys and put them in their bedrooms. That would probably be my only caveat. I have found that if you have little ones, removing distraction is key. Having the toys in the same room as our learning space is just too distracting for my little guys.

Let’s start our tour and I will explain why and how I do things.

Our Room

our homeschool room tour

Our room is the game room in our house. It is at the top of the landing in our house. Before kids, it was just another comfy living space. Our space isn’t really decorated. I added some color with a rug, but it was more to protect our carpet in case we accidentally spilled glue, paint, or other stuff. I’d rather replace a $100 rug than wall-to-wall carpeting! I put up some matching curtains for color and made some streamers and alphabet with paper and stickers. A few of the alphabets have fallen down and I just haven’t made time to get the ladder from the garage and put them back up. I’ll do that before we start school again in a few weeks. Other than that it is a hodgepodge of bookcases and file cabinets. I don’t really care if things are matching. It’s more about functionality than aesthetics.

The Desk and Chairs

I’ll be honest, it took me forever to decide what kind of desk and chairs to get. There are so many options and I had no idea what I wanted it to look like. Well, I finally made a decision a few years back. I decided to build my own desk with IKEA accessories. I got two desktops from IKEA in gray. They are basically long rectangles. Then I bought four drawers and put the tops on top. We then secured the top with brackets. I offset the drawers to create a square table with four workstations which gives us plenty of space to work.

Furthermore, I decided on this set up for one main reason. I have no idea if we will always be in this house. Right now, we have space to create this four-workstation look. However, if we have to move, I can take this desk apart and create more of a traditional workstation with two drawers on each side and a rectangular top. It’s versatile.

PARDON MY KIDS THINGS ON THE FLOOR. I purposely didn’t pick them up because I want you to know this room is almost never pristine! We live in this room and it is often messy and disorganized. Real-life, friends!

In the drawers, I keep art supplies, workbooks, construction paper, playdoh, paper plates (for crafts and painting), and all kinds of other school-related materials. On top of the table, I found a cute craft carousel from Michaels Craft Stores. Here I keep all the supplies we use all day long so they are close at hand. Things like paintbrushes, glue sticks, glue, markers, pencils, erasers. dot stampers, pencil sharpeners, watercolors, rulers, etc.

I decided on these chairs by IKEA because they adjust to the children’s height as they grow. They were $35 each and they still have them on the IKEA site. Additionally, we have an old tv in the room for when we watch educational videos and we have a Melissa and Doug Calendar.

Where to Buy

desk
desk
desktop organizer

Bookcase & White Board

whiteboard

We repurposed my husband’s old office bookcase. In here I keep our curriculum, educational books, some educational games, DVDs, dictionary, thesaurus, etc. I keep a large trash can here for all of our craft messes. I also keep some folders (Target Dollar Spot) for my teacher organization. I also keep my teacher planner (The Happy Planner) on this rack. We have a teacher whiteboard and a wooden abacus which really helped my little ones count and are helping them learn addition and subtraction. Below the whiteboard, I repainted an old coat hook mint and sprayed the metal gold. I found some metal pails at the Target Dollar Spot and filled them with things like dry erase markers, colored pencils, crayons, etc.

Small Desk

little desk

We have a smaller children’s table and chairs which my mother had specially made for my boys. It doesn’t provide enough room for our studies so we use it as a dedicated coloring station. I have this awesome roll of paper dispenser which is bladeless for the kids to draw on. I give them each a pail of crayons and they have fun drawing away.

Where to Buy

Tall Bookcase & Filing Cabinet

our homeschool room tour

We use an old filing cabinet for a lot of my teaching materials including teachers manuals, sensory bin fillers, file folders, worksheets and other things we want put away from the kids. We have a globe which the kids absolutely love! It has been such a great learning tool! I’ll go through the bookcase with more detail.

our homeschool room tour

On the Top

Up at the top, I keep bins for Art, Colors, and Language. The art bin contains things like paints, glitter, etc. I keep these things up high so that the kids can’t get into them and potentially spill them on the rug. In the colors bin, I keep colorful counters that we use for math and color sorting as well as other color-related activities. Lastly, I have a tub labeled “language.” In this bin, I keep different kinds of letter related activities.

On the second shelf, I have some awesome picture vocabulary photo cards I bought from Lakeshore learning. I keep extra boxes of pencils and erasers. I keep dot markers in a glass container. Also, I have two photo boxes (purchased at Michaels) that are full of all kinds of math activities and learning items like play money, shapes, etc.

Middle Shelves

Shelves

On the Middle shelves I have a storage container with drawers. These are similar to what you might use as an organizer in your garage for nuts, bolts, and screws. Originally, I used this for language. I had letters of the alphabet on each of the drawers and inside the drawers I put objects that started with that word. For example, the letter ‘C’ drawer had things like a candle, cotton, candy, coins, a car, a crayon, and a cardinal. You get the idea. After my kids outgrew this, I use it to store small parts that we use for homeschooling. We use TOOB figures in our learning all the time. For example, when we learned about Egypt, I bought some TOOB Egyptian figures. We learned what everything was called and then we pretended to excavate them in kinetic sand. So much fun!

The decorative boxes are just filled with miscellanies like flash cards, lacing cards and other things. The decorative boxes were purchased at Michaels craft stores.

Bottom Shelves

Our homeschool room tour

The last shelves have some miscellanies. I have a nautical tote filed with felt activity books (quiet busy books). We use these for quiet playtime during the day. I promptly put them away after using so that we don’t lose pieces. In the magazine holders, I have activity books organized by grade level.

On the bottom, I have file boxes. In these boxes are 180 manila file folders. They represent 180 school days. Each one labeled with a day (e.g. Day 1, Day 2, etc) I organize the kid’s schoolwork into these folders. Once we get through all 180 folders we are done for the year.

Where to Buy

Thanks for joining our homeschool room tour

Thank you for joining me on our homeschool room tour. I hope I’ve given you an insight as to how we stay organized all year. If you have questions about anything, I am happy to answer them. Just leave me a question in the comments and I’ll answer.

Our Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum

Are you looking for some curriculum recommendations? Here are our Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum choices as we start schooling at home this Fall.

our kindergarten homeschool curriculum
This post contains affiliate links. Should you make a purchase through one of the links I provide, I may receive a small percentage at no cost to you. Thank you for your support.

I have been asked by numerous friends and family about our curriculum choices for Kindergarten. I am certainly happy to share what we have decided to use. First, let me share the tool that really helped us make some decisions. This book has been a Godsend to me. It is a handbook of sorts for homeschooling families. In fact, I’ve included it before as a must-read homeschooling book in my post 4 Books You Need to Read Before Homeschooling.

The resource is Duffy’s Homeschool Picks. In this comprehensive book, Duffy provides a questionnaire to help narrow down the homeschooling method that is right for you and your family. (You can read more about homeschooling methods in my post Homeschooling Methods Explained) Then, she provides information on how to determine how what kind of learner your child is. For instance, some students may be tactile learners (hands-on), visual or etc. Some children prefer to work independently, while others need instructor-led education. Some families prefer textbooks, while others want an online experience. This book helps to determine those choices and ranks curriculum based on those needs so you understand which material will be a good fit. The book also provides a thorough review of each of the curriculum choices including the time intensity of the program, other materials that might be needed, and cost.

You can purchase Duffy’s Homeschool Picks through the affiliate links below. You may also purchase it through her website, Cathy Duffy Homeschool Reviews. I think the book is easier to navigate than the website and provides more handholding when choosing a curriculum, but the website is also a wonderful curriculum source.

Lastly, when it comes to choosing which subjects you are going to teach, understand that some states may have specific requirements. So, don’t forget to look up your state’s requirements first.

Where to Buy Curriculum

First, all publishers of the curriculum have their own websites with information and links on where you may purchase curriculum. However, my favorite shopping source is Rainbow Resource. Even though they are a smaller company they have one of the largest selections. They carry about 40,000 educational resources all geared towards homeschooling. You can purchase online, but they also provide (for the asking) paper catalogs that you can browse through.

Homeschool Buyers Co-Op is another good source for curriculum. They run sales often and even provide teacher and student IDs for your homeschool for about $5. As a co-op, they have big discounts on lots of curriculum. You can also find curriculum on Amazon, Christian Book, and The Curriculum Store. You can even buy used curriculum in Buy/Sell Homeschool Groups on Facebook.

Our Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum

Social Studies / History

Most kindergarten curriculum does not include social studies or history at this age. However, even at the preschool age, I introduced my son to Egyptology. He is fascinated by The Great Sphinx. Jack can name things like a cartouche, sarcophagus, canopic jar, and hieroglyphics. He can even recognize the images of Pharaoh, King Tut, and Nefertiti. We talked about the four directions (the points on a compass). I taught him how to find our city, state, and country on a globe. We’ve also talked extensively about our Apache heritage. My point is that even though they are young, your child may enjoy social studies and history. Most children don’t really start this until the elementary years, but since our son has expressed interest and we are history lovers ourselves, we have introduced it earlier. You certainly do not need to include this in your homeschooling unless your state requires it.

We are using 180 Days of Social Studies. I plan on using this workbook for regular social studies lessons. Additionally, I plan to supplement some fun field trips to museums and historic sites here locally. The social studies workbook has 180 days of lessons which is the average length of a school year.

We are also using DK Geography Workbook. The geography book covers topics like how to read maps, our community, landscapes, and spatial skills. The workbook itself is fairly short so I will combine.

The social studies workbook introduces concepts like civics, economics, and history. I admit that I don’t like that these books are in black and white. The lessons are very simple. I would prefer something more comprehensive, but there aren’t a lot of choices at this age so I’m willing to use this for now to at least introduce the subject matter. I’m sure in first grade I will find something more in-depth.

Math

Math is a scary subject for me. Perhaps because I’ve come to realize that it’s very easy to fall behind and then stay behind. So far, Jack has done very well learning things like counting to 100, number recognition, etc. I think that he may need some visual and hands-on work as we start to introduce additional math concepts to him in Kindergarten. So I found a program that is both Classical-friendly and also has some tactile learning for Jack. Horizon’s Math. The set includes two workbooks and a teacher’s manual. The lessons include directions and positions, introducing simple fractions, time, days of the week, money values, adding and subtracting single digits, etc. The other nice thing about Horizons is that they have done the lesson planning for you into 180 lessons.

In addition to the curriculum, we use these math manipulatives and math counters so that our children can visualize addition and subtraction.

Horizon Math

Handwriting

Jack is struggling with handwriting. He hates coloring and using a pencil. Honestly, it has been a frustrating experience for both of us. Because he laments doing anything that requires writing, we had been more focused on pre-writing skills. We’ve been doing lots of things that don’t feel like handwriting practice, like salt writing, tracing, looping, etc. After lots of discussions with teachers and hours of research, we are going to be using Handwriting Without Tears. This program seems to be one of the better ones for resistant learners. Hopefully, this will help us break through some of the frustration. HWT is a workbook based writing program but includes multisensory learning. It has leveled books and a teacher’s manual. Wish us luck!

Phonics and Reading

So far, choosing a Phonics program has been one of the hardest things I’ve researched. There are so many choices out there that claim to be the best. Dyslexia runs in my family, so naturally, I am concerned about that with Jack. I do think that Jack needs a program that is fun and engaging. We are starting with Hooked On Phonics. One of the main reasons we are choosing it is because my brothers and I used it to read when we were children, so obviously, it’s been around for a while. It tried and true. There are two levels for every grade and you can buy them individually. The levels are about $26 each so it also one of the more reasonable programs out there. I figured we can try it and if it doesn’t work out, we haven’t invested much.

Since we are classical homeschoolers, we focus heavily on reading. Here is our fiction reading list. We will also be reading lots of other books that are about science, notable people, places, and other things, but here are our storytime books. I’ve included them in the post, Classical Books for Kindergarteners. We are getting most of them through the library and used book sources.

Bible Study

Our Bible Study is simply consisting of reading stories from The Complete Children’s Illustrated Bible. This bible is in full color and has beautiful illustrations on every page. One thing I love about this particular bible is that it does not omit stories that other children’s bibles do. For instance, in the Moses story, it plainly says that the Egyptians drowned when God closed the Red Sea. It does not water down Cain murdering his brother Abel or the killing of the firstborns by Pharaoh. Nor does it leave out Sodom and Gomorrah. It does however, leave out the Song of Solomon. I love that even though it is in story-form for young readers, it still is very complete.

We are reading 2-4 pages per day. Since a great deal of the pages are illustrations, it is a very quick read. In addition to reading Bible stories, we will also be singing some praise songs, hymns, and children’s Christian songs.

Supplements

Melissa and Doug Learning Clock

I never considered how confusing it it is to explain the concept of time to a four year old. Seconds, minutes, hours. The 7 represents both a 7 and 35. The 12 is a 12, 60, and a 00. This learning clock by Melissa and Doug has been awesome. We bought it in May this year and it has totally helped him under the concepts better and he’s doing fantastic so far telling time. First we worked on learning 5 minute increments along with the hour. After being fluent in that, we will then introduce how to read the precise minute. Then we will introduce quarter and half hours. This clock comes with flash cards to practice. It has been so helpful! In just the first week of owning, my son finally understood what I had been trying to explain for months.

learning clock

Play Money

This past year we started to implement a small allowance for my oldest in exchange for doing household chores. It’s important to us that he learn the value of money and delayed gratification when it comes to buying things. That said, it dawned on my that he had no concept of the worth of money, so I decided to dedicate some time to learning about money. Sure, we played store. He understood the concept of money being exchanged for goods and services, but it was time to learn how to count money. So, I purchased some realistic play money to be used in our math studies.

Calendar

We learned about seasons and weather in preschool. Now in Kindergarten, I am requesting that Jack use this Melissa and Doug calendar at the start of our homeschool day.

Music and Arts & Crafts

We will incorporate arts and craft times throughout the week. I find hobby stores have lots of seasonal crafts that are fun as well as coloring and painting.

Over the last couple of years. Jack already knows some musical terms like piano, pianissimo, crescendo, accelerando, forte and fortissimo. We will continue to introduce and add more musical terms and we will listen to one piece of classical music a day. Jack already loves several pieces by Verdi and Peer Gynt “In The Hall of the Mountain King.”

That’s it. If you have questions about curriculum or homeschooling, feel free to ask them in the comments section. If this is your first year of homeschooling, try not to stress too much about it. Homeschooling is a journey and there is a lot of trial and error as you find your way.

Blessings,

Mary.

Classical Books for Kindergarteners

Introduce your child to the joy of reading classical literature. Here is a list of classical books for kindergarteners for homeschooling or reading pleasure.

classical books for kindergarten
This post contains affiliate links. Should you make a purchase through one of the links I provide, I may receive a small percentage at no cost to you.

Classical books are some of the greatest teaching tools for your children. When you introduce a child to reading, you introduce them to a vivid imagination, new vocabulary, and novel concepts. Classical books that stand the test of time in regards to storytelling, subject matter, and quality. As a classical homeschooler, we focus heavily on Classical literature. But even if your child is public schooled, I encourage you to read classic books.

Many classic books are more conservative than their contemporary counterparts, thus preserving your child’s innocence. Also, classical literature typically contains richer vocabulary than most modern books which are full of modern colloquiums. Classic books also offer a different perspective of history and the world, which brings me to my next point.

Classical Literature For a Lifetime

Starting the habit of reading classical literature can foster a love of classical reading for a lifetime. I was very blessed that my mother read all the books I’m about to share below. As I grew, my love of books continued well into my teenage years and remained a cornerstone of my classical education. As your child develops and matures, continue adding age-appropriate classics. For example, as a pre-teen, I loved reading Jane Austin, Bronte, Mark Twain, Edgar Allen Poe, Arthur Rimbaud, and James Fenimore Cooper. By high school, I was reading books like The Devine Comedy (Dante), Paradise Lost (Milton), War and Peace, and In Cold Blood (Capote) and The Count of Monte Cristo. As a young adult under twenty, I read 1984 (Orwell), Animal Farm (Orwell), Atlas Shrugged (Rand), Crime and Punishment (Dostoevsky), The Canterbury Tales (Chaucer) and The Prince (Machiavelli).

I am certain of how introducing reading early, particularly classical literature and poetry, can cement a fondness for it that lasts a lifetime. I absolutely attribute my love of books to my mother, who read to us every day as children. Most people are surprised to learn I have dyslexia. Although reading and writing requires more concentration for me than for others, I’ve always enjoyed reading. Perhaps in a future post, I’ll compile a list of classical books for adults.

Classical Literature for Children

Although this list is long, you needn’t worry about buying every book. Public libraries are a great resource for classics. Some libraries offer the ability to order books from other branches if it isn’t available at your branch. Many libraries even have their catalogs online, so you can see if your public library carries it. Some even allow you to reserve copies online. Half Price Books, ABE Books, and other used book stores are also a great resource.

If you can only afford a few books, I recommend investing in Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Aesops Fables, Greek Mythology, and Hans Christian Andersen Fairy Tales. You will see that so many of the great stories we come to know as children originate from these books. You can find illustrated versions of these books at Amazon and other book retailers. Here are some examples of the stories you can find in those treasuries.

Famous Tales by Hans Christian Anderson

  • The Emperor’s New Clothes
  • The Little Mermaid
  • The Princess and the Pea
  • The Snow Queen (you know it as Disney’s Frozen)
  • The Ugly Duckling
  • Thumbelina
  • The Tinder Box (The Pied Piper)

Famous Grimm’s Fairy Tales

  • The Twelve Brothers
  • Rapunzel
  • Hansel and Gretel
  • The Fisherman and His Wife
  • Cinderella
  • Little Red Riding Hood
  • The Bremen Town Musicians
  • The Shoemaker and the Elves
  • Thumbling Travels (Tom Thumb)
  • Briar Rose (Sleeping Beauty)
  • Snow White
  • Rumpelstiltskin
  • The Golden Goose
  • The Twelve Huntsman
  • The Wolf and the Fox
Photo by Kelli McClintock on Unsplash

Benefits of Reading to Children

Reading is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your child. Just take a look at some of the benefits your child receives by daily reading.

  • The sound of your voice is calming to your child
  • It models proper diction and enunciation
  • Increases their vocabulary
  • Showing your child the text improves letter and word recognition
  • Promotes a longer attention span
  • Books teach about morals, situations, personalities, emotions, and relationships.
  • Helps to reinforce parental bonds and quality time
  • Fosters imagination
  • Raises IQ level

Classical Books for Kindergarteners

I really hope that this list of classical books for kindergarteners helps you and perhaps even challenges you to read more classics with your child. I know it will be a great experience for both of you! In the comments below, I would love to hear what your favorite book was growing up.

Boredom Busters For Kids

With kids being home during the COVID-19 outbreak, you may be wondering how to keep your little ones busy. I’m sharing some boredom busters for kids to keep you from losing your mind at home.

boredom busters for kids

With the COVID-19 virus, lots of schools have extended Spring break or suspended classes. While that might be fine at first, I think a lot of moms are intimated and maybe even a little terrified that cabin fever will set in.

For homeschool mamas like myself, this is just another day for us! But that got me thinking that a lot of moms out there are probably scratching their heads trying to figure out how to pass the time at home. Most of what we do is learning activities, but I’m sharing some ideas that are mostly just boredom busters for kids that you can do.

Boredom Busters for Kids

Indoor Tennis

Grab some old birthday balloons you have kicking around. Blow them up. Grab some spatulas from the kitchen and let your kids play indoor tennis or ping pong with them.

Laser Obstacle Course

Do you know those half-used paper party streamers that are at the bottom of your party decor drawer? Take them out and create an obstacle course. Cut various lengths of the streamers, tape across hallways, doorways, and walls. Let your kids crawl and maneuver around the course without touching any of the streamers.

Free Education Subscriptions

With lots of schools and daycares being closed, many education websites and apps are offering Free subscriptions for the duration of this outbreak. You can find a list of companies here.

Sock Fight

I admit I’ve got some rambunctious boys and one thing they love to do is roughhouse. Mama isn’t too into that, but I do love a good sock fight. There isn’t much to it. Take some clean socks, ball them up and have your own indoor “snowball” fight.

Dramatic Play

Dramatic play is a type of play where kids are assigned roles and then act it out. Typically, there are lots of make believe props to help kids immerse themselves in make believe. For example, if you child is playing vet perhaps you make their stuffed animals the patients. Create forms or pretend x-rays, give them a doctors kit. You get the idea. Create a simulated environment.

Dramatic play is great for vocabulary, building social skills, modeling adult behavior, sharing, taking turns, fantasy/reality, helps them use their imagination, etc. Here are some ideas for dramatic play. We do dramatic play and let me tell you that creating the dramatic play center is just as fun as playing. For example, if we are playing store, the kids select boxes in our pantry to be the grocery store items and they help me set up the “pretend store” and cash register. The setting up keeps them just as busy as the actual activity does.

  • Post Office
  • Bakery
  • Restaurant
  • Airport
  • Grocery Store
  • Doctor / Hospital
  • Ice Cream Shop
  • Camping
  • School / Teacher
  • Coffee Shop
  • Beauty Shop
  • Flower Shop

Here are some great ideas for dramatic play. Over the next few weeks, I’ll try to create some printable for y’all to use!

Get Painting

Watercolors, tempera paint, finger paint – it really doesn’t matter. Painting is fun sensory experience for any kid and it’s therapeutic. If you’ve got a small child and you are really worried about the mess, you can always do it in a dry bathtub then just give them a bath afterwards.

painting

Indoor Water Table

Use your bathtub. Fill it up with a little water. Add measuring cups, toys, and other water-friendly things. We actually use a long, shallow (under the bed) Sterilite tub. I add some colored bath drops to make it more interesting.

Build a Fort

Come on, admit it, you loved building forts as a kid. My older brother made some really elaborate forts with tunnels and we’ve always found that sheets work the best because they don’t weigh as much. If you don’t want to build a fort, you can use a small pop-up tent. Set it up in their bedrooms or in your living room and watch how easy it is to get them to go to bed!

Indoor Picnic / Pinic

Lay a comfy blanket out, find a comfy spot in the living room and turn an ordinary meal into something special. Or better yet, have an actual picnic outside. Put a quilt down on the grass and take your food outside. Afterwards, lay on the blanket and gaze at the clouds. It’s funny how just switching up everyday things can change the mood!

Moon Rock Toss

Gather some small waste bins or other containers and line them up at different distances. For added fun, label points on them. The farther away the more points. Then crumple up balls of tin foil and take turns trying to throw them into the containers.

Cardboard Box Play

Maybe you are like me and you have a ton of cardboard boxes in the garage that you haven’t had time to cut down and put in the recycling. Well, there are lots of ways your kids can play with them and it will keep both you and them busy. Just take a look at some of these really cute ideas.

Jigsaw Puzzle

Full confession – I’m a nerd and I love jigsaw puzzles. We actually love to do jigsaw puzzles and now that my oldest son is getting older he is starting to get interested in them too. We love Thomas Kincade ones because they are pretty challenging. They take a while, they kill time, and the whole family can do it together.

Dance Party

Music is not only great for getting energy out, it’s great for lifting spirits. I put music on all the time for me and the kids and it helps us get out of a rut. Put on some tunes and get you and your kids dancing. If you want to get creative, try looking up a popular dance on YouTube and learn the steps. Suggestions (Cha-Cha Slide, The Hustle, The Charleston, The Cupid Shuffle, The Thriller Dance, Texas Two-Step, The Moonwalk, etc.)

Homemade Bowling

All you need is a ball and empty plastic containers like water bottles. Set the water bottles up in a hallway or long room and try knocking them down. Traditional bowling uses ten pins, but you could use less if you wanted. Six works really well also.

Make Pasta Jewelry

You stocked up on a bunch of dry pasta, right? Why not let your kids use a little to make some pasta jewelry. All you need is a string and pasta with a hole like penne, elbow macaroni, rigatoni, ziti, etc. You can even dye it different colors. Here is how to color dry pasta.

Draw Self-Portraits

Get your kids to draw self-portraits or portraits of each other.

Keep a Diary

If you’re kids are old enough to read and write, why not have them journal about the COVID-19 quarantine day by day. Encourage them to pen their feelings and observations about all the things going on around us right now. If you doubt the value of doing this, remember how Anne Frank’s diary has become a treasured account of the horrors of World War II.

Kinetic Sand

One thing my kids really love is kinetic sand. If you haven’t used this, it is a lot of fun. It’s almost as if play dough and sand had a baby. It’s way easier to clean up than regular sand and its completely moldable. This can keep my little ones busy for hours. Sometimes I put little toys underneath the sand like little toy dinosaurs, plastic bugs, and seashells and let them excavate them in the sand. They absolutely love that!

Activity Books

We have a few of these that we pull out on rainy days. First, they are educational and they brush kids up on their alphabet, colors, shapes and early math skills. For older kids, maybe get crosswords, sudoko, mad libs and brain teasers.

Ages 3-5

Ages 6-9

10 and Up

Bingo

Bingo is a fun game the whole family can do. You can purchase one online or you can use the one I created in my post, Valentine’s Day Bingo Game. You can print it out on your home computer and play right now. For square markers, you can use dry beans or pennies.

Memory Matching Games

Memory matching games are super fun for kids. You can certainly buy some online, however, I have a Halloween Memory Game you can download for FREE and print out on your home computer.

halloween memory game

Make Your Own Play Dough

You can make your own playdough at home. It really is very simple. Just a side note, homemade play dough out very quickly, so make sure to store it in an airtight container.

Here is what you need to make it at home

  • 2 Cups All-purpose flour
  • ¾ cups salt
  • 4 tbsp cream of tartar
  • 2 cups lukewarm water
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil (or coconut oil)
  • Food coloring (optional)
  • Quart sized zip lock bag or storage container

Make Birthday Cards

Have your kids make some birthday cards for your family members this month. Let them use glitter, stickers, markers / crayons, sequins and any other spare craft supplies. Then mail them to people!

Dominoes

I love playing dominoes, but my preschooler loves to set up dominoes to knock them down. Challenge your kids to set up a long domino fall. We love using this set below, because it has 91 dominoes in the set.

Make Fake Snow

We do this all the time as a winter activity. We don’t get snow here in South Texas, so we make our own. All you need is 3 cups of baking soda and half cup of conditioner.

Hopscotch

If you are doing this outside you can use sidewalk chalk. If you’re doing it inside, you just need painters tape or masking tape. All the jumping around wears them out and gets out their wiggles.

Make a Pretzel Log Cabin

We found this cute activity a while back on how to make a pretzel log cabin. All you need is some pretzel rods, confectioners sugar, and water. It was a fun STEM activity for my little guy.

Write a Soldier

If your kids are old enough, have them write a letter to a soldier and thank them for their service. Soldier’s Angels is one place to start, but it is more of a pen pal setup and they ask that you write to your soldier for at least three months. If you don’t want that kind of commitment, you can use Any Soldier. You can choose to send a letter or a care package.

Alphabet “Sand” Writing

My son loves to do this! Just get a mostly flat container, lid or tray and fill it up with salt or granulated sugar. Give your little one a pencil, paintbrush (use the pointy end) or another instrument and have them practice writing their letters in the “sand.”

Rice Sensory Bin

Make an indoor “sandbox” using colored rice. It’s very easy to make. You just get 4 cups of rice, 3 tablespoons of rubbing alcohol and food coloring. You can make batches of different colors if you want “rainbow” rice. Put it in a container and give your little one scoopers and any other toys they want. This keeps my toddler and preschooler busy for a long time! It’s very easy to clean up, but you can always do it outside if the mess bothers you.

Magazine Collage

Give your kids a stack of old magazines you have kicking around and ask them to make a collage of everything they like.

Balloon Toss

Blow up a balloon and challenge your kids to see how long they can toss is around without it touching the ground.

Board Games

This is is kind of a no-brainer, but sometimes, I think people forget how versatile this one is. There are so many board games to choose from.

Some of our favorites for young children (ages 3-5) are:

Ages 6 and up

Density Tower

This can be a fun STEM activity. Take various liquids of varying density and let your kids discover how the liquids separate. You can use liquids like water, oil, dish soap, honey, milk, rubbing alcohol, maple syrup, corn syrup, etc. As an added bonus, you can drop small objects like (a small ball, a cherry tomato, a popcorn kernel, a penny, etc.) and see if it floats or sinks through the different liquids.

Make Your Own Race Track

Don’t throw away the cardboard in paper towel roll. I save them for the kids to make their own racetrack. I tape some to the wall so my boys can put their hot wheels inside and see it come racing out. There tubes I cut in half lengthwise and we tape them all together to make a track. Don’t forget to add the dotted line in marker so it looks like a road. It’s funny. My kids have actual toy race tracks, but I’m always surprised at how making our own is so fun to them.

Take a Virtual Museum Tour

Lots of museums around the world offer virtual museums online. You and your kids can explore museums and their treasured works right from your couch! Take a look at these virtual tours.

virtual museum tours
The Van Gogh museum is just one place offering virtual tours

Take a Virtual Field Trip

While we are on that note, lots of companies are offering a virtual field trip. For example, Cincinnati Zoo is offering a live animal show at 3pm every day via Facebook live. Here is a list of websites that offer virtual field trips right on your computer or mobile device.

Have a Treasure Hunt / Scavenger Hunt

Hide some candy, a toy or anything else your kids might like and get them to hunt for it. Alternatively, if you don’t want to hide a single item, you can do a treasure hunt version of “eye spy.” Basically a scavenger hunt. Ask them to find the following:

  • Something red
  • Something round
  • Something old
  • Something metal
  • Something taller than you
  • Something you throw away
  • Something that starts with a letter ‘S’
  • Something that moves
  • Something you wear
  • Something that can’t get wet
  • Something that made of wood
  • Something brown
  • Something with numbers (but not a watch or clock)

You get the idea…use your imagination. Additionally, you can take this and give them an outdoor version of eye spy.

  • A leaf
  • Rock
  • Spider
  • Something with wings
  • Frog
  • Deer
  • Grass
  • Butterfly
  • Moss or algae
  • Spider web
  • Cacoon
  • Etc.

Give your kids a list and this will keep them busy for a while.

Marshmallow Building

Another fun STEM activity is to build sculptures out of nothing more than marshmallows and toothpicks. Stick the toothpicks into the marshmallow and keep building!

Draw Your Own Comic Book

If you have a child who loves to draw, encourage them to come up with a special character and have them draw their own comic book on paper.

Giant Tic-Tac-Toe

Use some Washi tape, masking tape or painters tray and make a tic-tac-toe board on the floor. Take paper plates and write X’s and O’s with markers. It’s kind of silly how just making it large makes it more fun for kiddos. Take the activity outdoors on the lawn too!

Sink or Float Experiment

Grab a glass pitcher or other large see-through container (like a storage tub). Fill it up with water. Then gather small objects of varying sizes and materials. (examples: cork, coin, rock, bottle cap, toothpick, crayon, plastic toy, etc) Have your child choose one object at a time and have them guess if it will sink or float. If your child is old enough, have them record their findings on paper. Take the opportunity to explain why an object sinks or floats. If an object floats it is less dense than water. If it is denser, it sinks.

Water Displacement Experiment

I did this with my oldest son when he was both three and four. It’s a great STEM activity that introduces fluid mechanics to your child. We talked about Archimedes and his theory of fluid displacement. Like the sink or float experiment, you will need a large container full of water. Leave some room at the top. I like to use dry erase markers if the container is glass or plastic. Gather household objects of varying weight and size. Insert each item individually and watch how much the water in the container rises. Get your child to mark where the water rose with a dry erase marker. Fluid displacement is all about volume. When an object is immersed in a fluid, displacement occurs as it pushes the fluid out of the way and it takes it’s place.

Make a Cardboard City

Take some of those empty Amazon boxes and food boxes and turn them into your own cardboard city. Use wrapping paper of construction paper to cover them up and draw on them. Then have your kids get their toy cars and people and let them play in their city.

Other Helpful Things

Maintain a Schedule

At our house, we maintain a schedule. It isn’t rigorous, but it ensures that we are mixing things up during the day. Here is a quick look at our schedule over the next coming weeks.

Read

This might sound overly simple, but reading is one of the best things you can do with your kids. Seriously, take this opportunity while we are all stuck at home and read to them! If your child is older, have them read classic literature. Great stories like Treasure Island, Call of the Wild, and Little Women never go out of style.

For More Ideas

Take a look at my other post, The Best Toys to Tame Toddler Energy.

10 Toys That Teach Kids About the Human Body

Science can be fun learning at any age with these 10 toys that teach kids about the human body.

10 TOYS THAT TEACH KIDS ABOUT THE HUMAN BODY

I’m not sure how it happened, but my four-year-old has fallen in love with the human body. He is fascinated by it. Even his pediatrician was taken aback when he could name all the anatomy of the human ear. He also knows the systems (e.g. circulatory, muscular, vascular, neurological, etc) of the body. So much was learned simply through play. Kids learn so much that way and they don’t even realize they are soaking it all in like a sponge.

So today, I’m going to share with you some of our favorite 10 toys that teach kids about the human body. I will try to include the age appropriateness with each of the toys. However, many of the toys can be used with younger children as long as they are supervised.

Magnetic Human Body

I love Melissa and Doug toys because they aren’t plastic. Even though the M&D products are a little on the pricey side, I still swear by them. This cute wooden Melissa and Doug set has twenty-four pieces that help children envision the human body and how it works from the inside. I found this was perfect for ages three to five. It is simple enough for some toddlers and all preschoolers to understand.

Squishy Human Body

The Squishy Human body has 21 pieces. This was an absolute favorite for my four-year-old. It does say it is designed for ages eight and up, but my four-year-old loved it. The bones come apart and it comes with a booklet explaining the parts and their function in the body. Even the skull comes apart to reveal a realistic brain. All the organs are squishy giving it a real feel and look.

Magic School Bus: Human Body Lab

Based on the Scholastic and Netflix series, this educational kit comes with experiment cards, a skeleton, posters, and stickers. This great for kiddos five and up. Fun fact: this was actually developed by Harvard graduates, scientists and educators to make it a full, exciting experience. This was a little lower on our favorite list, but still a great learning tool.

Kakiblin Organ Apron

This cute apron has felt organs on the front that is used to model the human body. The organs are completely removable by velcro so your little one can practice putting the organs in the correct place. Even my two-year-old loves to attach the organs with his older brother.

Learning Resources Floor Skeleton

Learning Resources has an awesome floor puzzle that helps kids identify bones and learn how they connect together. It is made of fifteen foam pieces that you assemble on the floor that stands nearly four feet. On one side is the image of the bone and on the back, it gives the name of each bone. It’s great for ages three and up.

Disgusting Science Kit

This toy isn’t so much about anatomy, but rather about what our bodies do. This disgusting science kit is full of fun hands-on experiments. Children discover and make fake blood and slimy snot, as well as the stinky intestines and their role in the human body. They also can grow safe bacteria and mold and how it can be used to fight infection. This is for older children around the age of eight and requires adult supervision.

The Journey Match It – All About Me

This word puzzle allows your child to both build their vocabulary and also learn to identify body parts and organs. There are 30 sets of puzzle pieces and this is great for children four and up. Even my four year old loves doing this in his beginning reading stages.

Genetics and DNA Science Kit

This genetics and DNA kit is for older children around eight, but it is a great way to introduce the science around our genetic code and molecular structure. In this kit they’ll construct models of the double helix DNA structure. Also they’ll learn about the pioneering scientists in genetics. Your child will feel like a scientist as they conduct experiments with this fun, educational kit.

Ben Franklin Doctor Lab Biology Kit

This takes playing doctor to a whole other level! This kit by Ben Franklin Toys, very much resembles a doctor’s kit. However, it delves deeper into the role of a physician. Children will conduct 12 experiments and tests. It includes 30 tools such as a stethoscope, bandage, shot, activity cards, anatomy model, brain game, eye chart, and more! When children aren’t conducting tests, they can use it for dramatic play like any other doctor’s kit.

Learning Resources Brain Model

This Learning Resources Brain Model is definitely better suited for older children. In this human anatomy model, children will build the brain using pieces of the cerebellum, frontal, parietal, temporal and occipital lobes. I will say the model is on the smaller side once completed. It’s smaller than four inches, but I do think it gives a very thorough look at the intricacies of the brain.

I hope you and your family enjoy these toys as much as we did.

Homeschooling Methods Explained

So you’ve decided to homeschool but don’t know where to begin. With all the choices available it can be confusing so here are the homeschooling methods explained.

homeschooling methods explained
Photo Courtesy of Unsplash; This post contains affiliate links. Should you make a purchase through one of the links I provide, I may receive a small percentage at no cost to you. I only link to things I own or love.

So you’ve decided to homeschool or maybe you are just interested and would like to learn more about it. Homeschooling methods can be confusing at first which is why I will explain in the simplest of terms.

Homeschooling can be a wonderful choice. There are lots of reasons why homeschooling is becoming more popular. You can read all about Why We Homeschool. Everyone’s reasons will vary and there are lots of myths that need to be cleared up. You can read all about that in my post, Debunking Myths About Homeschooling.

Today, I’m going to explain the most common methods of homeschooling. I think understanding the methods is crucial to how you will be selecting the curriculum.

Some of my favorite resources for curriculum are Rainbow Resource, The Homeschool Buyers Co-op and Christian Book. Christian Book is a great resource for both classical and Charlotte Mason methods, which we will discuss below.

Classical Education Explained

Unschooling

Unschooling is a very different method when compared to others. Instead of being teacher-led, unschooling is largely child-led. It is also primarily informal. Specifically, the child advocates for what will be learned as opposed to the parent having full control.

It’s important to note that although homeschooling is legal in all fifty states, unschooling may not be. Some states have specific requirements for the subjects taught, attendance, records, and other things. Unschooling is a complete contrast to public school and may not meet these state-imposed requirements. You can learn more about your state’s requirements on HSLDA’s website.

Charlotte Mason

Charlotte Mason was a British educator in the twentieth century. She used a tri-method approach to learning. Her method is similar to Classical homeschooling which also uses three phases of education.

Atmosphere

The first is the Atmosphere. This is the idea that children are to observe and evaluate the world around them but particularly in the home environment. In other words, children are watching our actions, our own behaviors, rules, and even the mood we set in the home environment. In our family, we try to model constant learning and look for opportunities to explain and teach. We encourage questions and try to maintain a peaceful, gentle atmosphere.

Discipline

This is primarily the traits of good character. Modeling, instilling and cultivating good habits and enforcing a code of conduct, largely play into this area of teaching.

Life

This last area pertains to academics. Charlotte Mason believed that children learn best in a living environment and not with the dry rigors of textbooks. Therefore, children learn out of what is referred to as “living books.” Most living books are a narrative or in a story form that makes the subject come alive in real-world examples. Children are then to explain and narrate the lesson to ensure comprehension. In other words, if children can explain it to someone else, they have learned it themselves. This is the only form of testing progress in the Charlotte Mason method. In fact, Charlotte Mason could be described as a very gentle method of learning.

In addition, children learn handwriting, spelling, and sentence structure by transcribing passages from classic literature. Children are also encouraged to spend a great deal of time outdoors absorbing nature, biology, and the work of God’s hand. Charlotte Mason is also primarily Christian-based learning. Lastly, children learn about classical composers, fine art, all the while learning deeply about their great works. Children may be educated in foreign languages like Greek, Latin, Spanish and French. As well as rooted in Math with an emphasis on Algebra.

Courtesy of Unsplash

Classical

Classical education is based on the ancient model of learning. When you consider some of the greatest minds of the past, you’ll discover they were classically educated. Below, I’ll explain the three stages of classical education, known as the trivium.

If you would like to learn more about Classical Education, I encourage you to read the book, Teaching the Trivium and The Well Trained Mind. I’ve included Amazon links where you can purchase it. You can read more about these books in my post Four Books You Need to Read Before Homeschooling.

The Grammar Stage: Kindergarten Through Fourth Grade

There is a rigorous emphasis on spelling, grammar, reading, and writing. As well as cultivating a joy of numbers with both procedural and conceptual math. Also, the beginning framework of foreign languages are taught, typically Latin, Greek or both. In addition, there is a study of fine art, classical composition, and music theory. Children will be introduced to Geography and a comprehensive study into History, which is the telling of all human achievement until now.

In history, The Ancients (5000 BC-AD 400) are taught in grades 1, 5 and 9. Medieval (400-1600) time period is taught in grades 2, 6, and 10. Late Renaissance to the Romantic era (1600-1850) in grades 3, 7, and 11. Lastly, the modern era (1850-present) in grades 4, 8, and 12.

I will give you an example of the effectiveness of classical education. My own four-year-old already has fundamental knowledge about Queen Nefertiti, Ramses II, and The Great Sphinx. He is learning about Ancient Civilizations and Native Americans. He can describe the anatomy of the human ear and identify the different systems of the body (circulatory, skeletal, muscular, etc) and their purpose. Also, he can name the different celestial bodies and even knows musical terms like accelerando, fortissimo, crescendo, and pianissimo.

The Logic Stage: Fifth Grade Through Eighth Grade

The Logic stage, in short, is reasoning or critical thinking. In this stage, children will begin to examine and analyze the arguments of others and themselves. Students will analyze facts and arguments to deduce why something is true or false.

The Rhetoric Stage: Ninth Grade Through Twelfth Grade

Classical rhetoric is a combination of expressive persuasion and argument (debate). The rhetoric stage is built upon the greatest ancient philosophers and writers such as Cicero, Aristotle, Quintilian, Socrates, and Plato. Simply put, it is expressing the knowledge obtained during the grammar and logic stages and composing effective writing and speaking through academic papers and speech. In other words, students learn to articulate their own answers to important questions.

Traditional

Traditional homeschooling resembles a similar structure to public schooling. You use a textbook curriculum. Children may use workbooks. You may even mimic a similar environment, with individual desks and a chalkboard. Normally, schedules are rigid with classes at specific times. Also, you may have tests and evaluations to determine your child’s progress. Traditional homeschoolers may even compare their progress or align themselves with public schools.

For traditional homeschooling, I greatly encourage you to read Duffy’s Homeschool Picks. This amazing book goes through the abundance of curriculum choices and gives unbiased reviews. Lastly, it helps you determine which curriculum is best suited to your child’s learning style.

Eclectic

Eclectic is basically just any combination of the aforementioned methods. Technically, I was an eclectic homeschooler because I was a mix of both classical and traditional homeschooling, although classical education was emphasized.

Some parents find their children do better with the strengths of the different methods. There is no one right way to homeschool. Each method has its benefits. As a homeschooler, you have immense flexibility and you are not in any way pigeonholed to one method. Yes, you can take what you like from the various methods and make it your own.

Additionally, some parents start off as eclectic homeschoolers, choosing to try out multiple methods before deciding on their way to educate. That’s perfectly okay too! It is also important to note that any of these methods can be religious or secular in nature.

Pin for Later

Hopefully, I have thoroughly explained the different methods of homeschooling. I am immensely grateful for my classical education. I encourage you to read the resources I’ve mentioned. Don’t forget to PIN this post so you may refer to it later.

Printable Halloween Memory Game

Keep your little one busy and improve their short term memory with this FREE printable Halloween memory game.

printable halloween memory game

We are just a few weeks away from Halloween and today, I’m sharing another FREE printable with you. If you are looking for a quick, fun way to pass the time I’ve got something for you. I love making memory games for my preschooler. It’s a simple game that he has really grown to love.

I love getting my preschooler to do it at the kitchen table while I make dinner. It’s a great boredom buster and I don’t actually have to sit down with him to play.

Benefits of Memory Game

Playing memory games has lots of benefits for your child. Some of those benefits include:

  • Trains short term memory
  • Builds vocabulary
  • Practice problem solving
  • Trains visual memory
  • Improves concentration
  • Improves ability to classify objects based on similarities and differences
  • Practice following directions

To find similarities, your child will look for similarities in size, shape and color. This skill is actually an early math skill. They’ll need this skill to find patterns and sequences in numbers.

Free Printable Halloween Memory Game

How to Use Your Free Printable Halloween Memory Game

  1. Download the file to your computer

  2. Use Adobe Acrobat or other PDF viewing software to open

  3. Open file and print on card stock or paper

    For added durability consider printing on card stock and laminating.

  4. Trim following the lines provided

  5. Mix them up and place them face down in rows

  6. Take turns lifting two at a time until a match is found.

Have a wonderful and safe Halloween, friends! Don’t forget to pin this post for later. Also, check out some of my other free printables here! Share this post with your friends. Thanks for reading.

4 Books You Need to Read Before You Homeschool

If you are considering homeschooling, you maybe wondering where to start and how to choose curriculum. Well, I have some resources to help with that. Here are 4 books you need to read before you homeschool.

4 books you need to read before you homeschool

This post contains affiliate links. Should you make a purchase through one of the links I provide, I may receive a small percentage at no cost to you.

So you’ve decided to homeschool or perhaps you are still seriously considering it. Maybe you are looking for some direction. I’m a proud second-generation homeschooler, but even I, having been through the homeschooling process, don’t have all the answers. Even I wondered where and how to begin.

I was grateful when several veteran homeschools recommended the following books to read before I jumped head first into educating my child. If you aren’t a teacher by trade, you may find yourself wondering if you are “qualified” to teach your child and if they will receive a similar education to that of public school. I tackle some of those questions in two of my other posts Debunking Myths About Homeschooling and Why We Homeschool.

These books are great for the new parent who is homeschooling. I consider them almost like a crash course in an education degree. If you don’t know what to teach your child, when, and how, these books will answer lots of questions. Here are 4 books you need to read before you homeschool.

The Well-Trained Mind

The Well-Trained Mind, has become an essential guide for homeschooling. One half of the authors is herself both a university professor and a product of homeschooling. Her co-author, her mother, was a school teacher. Together, they walk you through the fundamentals of classical education, based on the ancient model of learning. Even if you aren’t doing Classical homeschooling, I highly recommend the book for laying foundational framework in your homeschooling journey.

They offer a blueprint of learning, which includes a resource list of educational curriculum and sample routines. Even if you aren’t planning to teach in a Classical style I still think this book is an amazing resource because of it’s explanation of developmental stages and the progression of learning throughout the school years.

The Well Trained Mind is a comprehensive resource for both secular and Christian homeschoolers.

Duffy’s Top 100 Homeschool Picks

One of the first questions beginner homeschooling parents ask is how to select curriculum. There are so many choices out there all claiming to be comprehensive and complete. Even being the product of homeschooling myself, I wondered, just how do you know which curriculum is “the best.”

One of the best, most well-loved guides is Duffy’s Homeschool Picks. This is an amazing resource. I’d say the greatest benefit to homeschooling is not having a “one size fits all” approach to learning like public school. You can tailor the curriculum to fit your child’s learning style. This book is a manual for doing just that. Duffy’s Homeschool Picks gives in-depth review of well-known curriculum and provides a method for determining if it is right for your child. This has been one of the most invaluable homeschooling resources I’ve found.

Plan Your Year: Homeschool Planning For Purpose and Peace

One of the most common questions I hear from new homeschool parents is “How do I plan my homeschool year?” It’s a common question and also a common complaint. When you first start homeschooling, it can be overwhelming. It can be hard to determine how much information can be digested in a year. Perhaps you worry if you are covering all the subjects your child needs or maybe you struggle with follow through.

Pam Barnhill has written a great book that helps with all those problems. She gives real solutions for the busy parent and offers a way to plan a structured, yet flexible homeschool schedule that works with your own personality and style. This book is great for beginner and seasoned homeschoolers alike. I also think it works for just about every homeschool style (Unschooling, Eclectic, Charlotte Mason, Classical, Traditional, etc).

Teaching the Trivium

I was actually going to include this as one of the top three books. The only reason why I didn’t include it is because of the strong Christian theme. I am a Christian homeschooler, but over the last few years, secular homeschoolers are rapidly growing in the homeschooling community. So because this book so so heavily steeped in Christian influences and the fact that it is specifically geared towards Classical homeschooling, it may not be for you, but I still think it provides invaluable information.

Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn have long been considered experts in the classical homeschooling niche. Here they easily explain the trivium (the three distinct phases of childhood learning). Using biblical principles as a blueprint and basis for teaching, they combine that with the ancient teaching of Greek scholars, which make up Classical education.

There you have it 4 books you need to read before you homeschool. Homeschooling is a journey for both you and your child. You won’t have all the answers when you start. In fact, the answers may change throughout your journey – that’s okay. That’s actually the beauty of homeschooling – the incredible flexibility! Good luck to you and your kids. It’s gonna be an adventure!

Printable Back to School Signs

School time is upon us! Memorialize you child’s first day of school with these cute printable back to school signs.

Back to School Signs

Wow! Can you believe we are in August? It’s hard to believe that summer vacation is coming to an end and our little ones are going to heading back to school. I’ll be honest. We didn’t do much this summer. It was just so hot here in Texas. Also, with all the uncertainty we had with our job loss and moving life just kind of got put on hold.

We are homeschooling this year and I can’t wait to start preschool with my little guy. I know most kids are heading back to school in August and what better way to start than to memorialize their first day of school.

Printable Back to School Signs

That’s why I created some printable back to school signs. I’ve made one from tot school (2-3 years), preschool, kindergarten, and from first to eighth grade. I’ve also included a “Back to School” signs that don’t include grade years. These are great if you don’t want to disclose which grade your child is in or if you want your non school age children to participate with their siblings in the photos.

You can get all 12 signs for just $5.

You can purchase it through my Etsy shop or through my shop here on the blog. All you have to do is print them out one your home computer or at a print shop and have your child hold the sign while you snap some photos. The signs are sized for 8.5 x 11.”

Purchase Your Printable Back to School Signs Here

Follow the link to my Etsy Shop

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Hoecakes: a Revolutionary War Recipe

Try this fun 18th century colonial cornbread recipe with your kids this Fourth of July. Hoecakes: a Revolutionary War recipe.

Hoecakes a revolutionary war recipe

I thought I’d do something a little interesting and different here on My Beautiful Mess. Since July 4th is upon us, I thought I’d share a simple recipe for hoecakes: a Revolutionary War recipe. This Independence Day, why not try something our founding fathers used to eat.

What Are Hoecakes

American Southerners were the first to create this cornbread patty. Honestly, I’m not entirely sure how to describe it. I did a lot of research before trying this recipe a few times. Hoecakes resemble pancakes, but they aren’t. At best, they might qualify as a distant cousin. Pancakes are soft and fluffy and made with flour. Hoecakes are denser, tougher, and to me, almost seem like a hybrid between pancakes and corn tortillas.

hoecakes

A Quick History

In England in the 1600’s, a hoe was the name of what we now know as a griddle. Back then, it was common to bake cakes on griddles. In fact, cooking was very different back then. Food was cooked by a fireplace, specifically on the hearth. Cooks would place the pots and hoes on the hearth to cook. Then they’d move the pots close or far away from the fire depending on how hot it needed to be. Without cooking thermometers, women determined the temperature by how many seconds they could withstand the heat when their arm was placed in the fireplace (oven). Crazy, right? And you thought cooking today was a chore!

When settlers came from England, they had little imagination when it came to using corn. Corn had been domesticated by the Native Americans and to early settlers, corn was a crude substitute for flour. Since cornmeal didn’t not respond well to leveling agents and was naturally sweet, they simply fashioned it into small cake patties and fried it on a griddle. Thus hoecakes were born.

Hoe cakes were described as George Washington’s favorite breakfast in which he ate them slathered in “butter and honey.” Over the next century, hoecakes eventually became a dish of regional pride and a staple on the Southern colonial table.

Photo via Good Free Photos

The Modern Hoecake

These days, hoecakes, also called Johnny Cakes, are still a regional favorite here in the South. Today, ingredients like egg, milk, even flour are added to make it closer to pancakes. Sometimes spices and sugar are added to sweeten it up. However, for today’s purposes, we’re going to eat it like the colonists did.

How To Make Hoecakes

Hoecakes are simple to make. They are simply cornmeal and boiling hot water mixed into a batter and fried in a small amount of peanut oil. I’m sure you can use other oils if you’re allergic to peanuts. The consistency of the batter should be fairly thick. Closer to a wet dough than a batter. If it’s as runny as pancake batter, you’ve done it wrong. Secondly, I recommend using a non-stick skillet. I personally prefer to use my cast iron one, but since I haven’t season it yet, we’ll use a regular pan. Aim for making them around six inches.

Hoecakes are traditionally made with white cornmeal, but since I have yellow cornmeal, that’s what I’ll be using today. As I mentioned before, you’ll needed to use boiling hot water to make sure they don’t break apart when you try to remove them from the pan.

hoecakes

Hoecakes should have crispy edges and should be a glistening golden brown. Hoecakes are best when served warm. I recommend taking a cue from George Washington and using butter and either honey, maple syrup, and or cane syrup.

hoecakes

Revolutionary War Hoecakes

Try this favorite breakfast of George Washington and staple of the Colonia South with this American Revolution time recipe.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Course Breakfast, Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 6

Equipment

  • Skillet
  • Mixing Bowl
  • Spatula

Ingredients
  

  • 2 Cups Yellow or White Cornmeal
  • 2 Cups Boiling Hot Water
  • Pinch of Salt
  • Honey optional
  • Butter Optional
  • 12 Tbsp Peanut or Vegetable Oil

Instructions
 

  • In a pot or tea kettle boil 2 cups of water
  • In a large mixing bowl, add 2 cups of flour
  • Add a pinch of salt
  • When the water is boiling, start by adding one 1 cup at a time. Slowly stir. Continue adding the second cup of water. Mixture should pour by should be very thick almost like a very wet dough.
  • Let stand for 10 minutes so the cornmeal can absorb the water
  • In a medium high skillet, add one 1-2 Tbsp of Oil
  • Once oil is smoking, pour batter into the hot oil. Flatten and round with a spatula
  • Cook for 10 minutes
  • Gently flip and cook for an additional 10 minutes
  • Serve warm with butter, honey, cane syrup or maple syrup
Keyword bread, breakfast, comfort food, cornbread, cornbread recipes, cornmeal, flatbread, fried bread, pan fried, recipes of the south, southern recipes, unleaven bread

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