Sunday, December 30, 2012

Homeschool Planning - A New Year!

I love the period between Christmas and the new year.

I love reflecting on all that has happened in the past year with a thankful heart and I love making plans for a new beginning.

In reflection, this was the year we began homeschooling - a socially unpopular decision but a choice that we knew was right for our family. It was the beginning of an amazing journey and one that continues to surprise me.

In looking ahead, I am excited about a new year! We are making some changes to the way we home educate in our household. I'll admit that at the end of this year I got a little tired and slack and we weren't spending enough time at home. I lost my motivation and was throwing together lessons at the last minute and then wondering why the kids seemed disinterested.

So, what changes are we making to the way we homeschool?

1. My planning and organisation


I'm going to plan a term in advance as a 10 week block and with the exception of homeschool events and homeschool playdates we are going to stick to it! My kids are my ministry and they deserve my whole-hearted committment to making this work. I have often cancelled lessons in favour of a coffee with a friend or shopping date with my mum and sister as I wasn't ready to give up all those 'normal' things that mothers enjoy while their kids are at school. But I realise that I can still do this, just not in our designated school time.

I am also going to do final lesson preparation a week in advance which includes photocopying so that I'm not wandering around looking for stuff while the kids wait!

2. New curriculum

Most of our curriculum is working well but I think some new curriculum would be exciting!

For starters we are going to be beginning our days with this 10 week character study.

For maths we are using Singapore maths 3rd edition which we love so we are looking at adding some of their suggested supplements like "challenging word problems" and some more "mental maths strategies". I also have an addiction to maths manipulatives so are looking at adding some cm cubes to the mix!

We are currently looking at spelling alternatives as sadly, sequential spelling is no longer working.

We are also in search of a new creative writing curriculum. DS6 writes the most beautiful stories so I really want to find something that will inspire and encourage him.

I am also considering an online subscription to some educational websites that I will be reviewing.

3. New Routine

Our homeschool routine has worked 'okay' but there is room for improvement.

Our current routine has been

8:45 - 9am - Morning charts and chores
9am - Bible study / devotion
9:15 - 10am - Maths
10:00 - 10:30am - Brain break (outside)
10:30 -11:00 Spelling / Grammar
11:00 - 11:30 Reading (shared or independent)
11:30 - 12:30 History or Science

and then.......

4:00 - 5:00pm Music and music practice (or activities)

The problem? We couldn't get into a routine with the music practice because a) I would struggle to get back into 'homeschool mode' at 4pm and b) some days they would have sport or swimming during that time. 

So...the new plan is.         

12:30 - 1pm - Lunch
1 - 2pm - Music practice
2pm onwards - free time (or activities)

Well, that's the plan so we will see how this works!

So these are just a few changes I'm planning on making to our homeschool in the new year. I will continue to share more as it all unfolds.

Happy new homeschooling year!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas Fun In The City

One of the great things about homeschooling is the fact we get to avoid the school holiday crowds! 

Today, we spent the day in the city visiting Santa, eating fairy floss (against my better judgement) and enjoying the displays and rides. It's just one of our families Christmas traditions!


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Home made Christmas Gifts - Rainbow Playdough

homemade playdough recipe
Every year I try desperately not to buy in to the consumerism of Christmas. Sadly, I often still find myself in a mad panic rushing through K-mart on Christmas Eve with a trolley full of, um, stuff.

These experiences inspired the creation of my ebook Consumer-less kids - A gift guide for the kids who have everything. It discusses how to buy, or not buy, for kids who have everything. It discusses how home made gifts are such a thoughtful alternative to mass-produced store-bought um, stuff.

So, we got to work making playdough gifts.

playdough homeschool


  • white flour – 1 cup
  • salt – 2 tbsps
  • cream of tartar – 2 tbsps
  • cooking oil – 4 tbsps
  • warm water – 1 cup
  • Jelly – 1 pack


  • Add all the ingredients together in a big mixing bowl
  • Mix all the ingredients together until consistent
  • Pour into a saucepan and stir continuously
  • Wait for it to thicken into a big ball and then place it on some grease-proof paper to cool
  • Knead it for a few minutes once cooled with some flour
  • Add any food coloring or glitter to spice things up
  • It’s ready for playing or gifting
rainbow playdough

We used small baby food jars for each of the colours and squished them in and then tied a matching ribbon around each colour. We placed them in a small gift box and it made a beautiful rainbow Christmas gift!

We also used a simpler approach using a tupperware (or any plastic container) and placing blobs of playdough and then wrapping up the container with some Christmas ribbon.

playdough gift for kids
The boys experimented with mixing colours. This one actually looks okay but the so good.

Thankfully there was also some left over for playing!

playdough homeschool

This was a fun home school activity.

So there you have it, an easy home made rainbow playdough gift idea for Christmas!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Easy Christmas Advent Calendar

homeschool advent calendar

I have a confession to make.

I don't like craft.

There. I said it.

What good homeschooling mother doesn't like craft? You might ask. Well, me.

So, when craft happens in our homeschool I'm going to blog about it!

So, on December 1st I reluctantly embarked on an exciting adventure to find out how to make an advent calendar. I browsed a few on the net but felt overwhelmed - they all looked so HARD! I needed something simple. I decided to brave the shops and see what I could find.

I found myself at a low priced department store. I bought a sheet of red cardboard which was a good start.

I then looked around for some Christmas stickers.

homeschool advent calendar

Then I stumbled across some cute gift tags and had the idea of just sticking the gift tags on the cardboard - one for each day.

My son suggested we write a special Christmas activity for each day and write a tick box to tick off when each one was completed. I thought this was a great idea.

homeschool advent calendar
My two older boys then stuck stickers all over it.

So, here is our advent calendar.

This was easy peasy to make and only cost about $3!

If I can make a great looking advent calendar - then anyone can do it! 

(You may have noticed our advent calendar only has 24 cards but that's because we celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve in our family.)

Car-schooling with Jonathon Park Audio Adventures

  I once asked a seasoned homeschooler how she managed to fit so many activities and events around 'schoolwork'. She told ...