A {homeschool} Day in the Life of a Middle Schooler

I recently shared my curriculum choices for my three middle schoolers.  A few friends asked to see a sample schedule of how this would all flesh out.  What a great request!  It was helpful for me to map out what a sample day might look like with this particular pile of curriculum.

We are not rigidly structured with certain subjects at specific times.  Rather, our homeschool style is a relaxed and flexible flow (I like to think I’m relaxed and flexible too, but some days that is not so much a reality!)

No two days are ever the same, and if you homeschool, you will probably agree.  So, I’ll share what a typical day {might} look like for my middle schoolers this fall.  Of course, it all remains to be seen, and we might have to change some plans mid-flow.  But that’s okay – we can use the flexibility that comes with homeschooling to make the curriculum work for us, instead of the other way around.

day in the life of... homeschooled middle schooler

{These are sample times only — of course, the earlier the boys get up and “get going” the earlier their day will finish.}

Sample 8th grade schedule

  • 7:00 – 7:30 wake up, breakfast, chores, personal Bible study, instrument practice
  • 9:00 Morning Subjects Together (multi-grades)
  • 10:00 Start independent work until lunchtime

{it MIGHT look like this, but can really be in any order}

12:30 Lunch Break

School day could be done before 4pm.  We don’t have “homework” like traditional schools.  So the rest of the day is technically free.  Of course, we may have scheduled activities, or side jobs, or music lessons to go to.  If the boys start early and work diligently, they could even be done earlier than this.

  • 8:00pm Free Reading (1 hour)

When I wrote out a sample day’s flow, my 7th grader could be done his work by about 3pm, with no homework required.  My 6th grader would finish by 2pm and have the rest of the day for hobbies, play, and free time.

One final thing – I ask the boys each year if they want paper checklists, assignment notebooks, or laminated cards with their schedule, and they still seem to like the cards.

task cards

I simply write a bullet list of daily requirements onto an index card, then “laminate” it with some contact paper.  The boys can use dry erase markers to cross off subjects as they complete them each day.

And in case you’re wondering what the “task folder” is?  It’s a folder that good old mom can put extra work in that is tailored to that child.  It might be states and capitals review sheets, fire safety assignments (required by our state), or a poem to memorize.

This schedule also helps to ensure that I will have some much needed “free time” when the toddler naps and into the afternoon to get all my own tasks done.  I am around all morning to help as needed, but most of the afternoon work can be mainly independent.

Hope this helps!

What about you?  Would a day in the life of your homeschooled middled schooler look much different?  What are your non-negotiables?  Are you more flexible or structured?

I love how we can craft our curriculum choices and styles to fit both mom and kids.  There is no one right way to homeschool.  This is just what works for us right now.  Happy homeschooling!

 

 

Homeschool Curriculum for Middle School

I loved having babies.

I loved having toddlers (mostly, although it was quite a blur, and those years of my life are hard to remember!).

I loved teaching my kids how to read.

But this fall, I will have reached my favorite stage in teaching — middle school!  I will not have just one or two, but three boys in that coveted age.

I know most of you are probably feeling bad for me right now, but I am convinced that this stage is full of possibility.  The boys are moving past the foundational grammar stage of their education, and gaining some increased reasoning, critical thinking, and analytical skills.

homeschool curriculum for middle school

My years in a formal teaching position in the public school were spent with this age group, so I feel quite comfortable here.

I have enjoyed culling an eclectic mix of curriculum to fit my three middle schoolers.  Let me share the list with you, not because it’s perfect, but it might spark some ideas for your own situation.

{This post contains affiliate links.  Please see my disclosure policy for more information.}

LANGUAGE ARTS

The best decision in our homeschool last year was to chuck the formal reading curriculum, in favor of wild reading, and lots of it!  We gain our structure from this classical reading list, but since a friend shared the Classical Reader website with us, we have been regulars there too.

Grammar and Diagraming instruction continues based on learning styles with each boy.  One is using the Analytical Grammar curriculum.  One son loves the King’s English book, which is color coded and visual.  We also use Daily Grams for short bursts of grammar review.

The best writing curriculum I have found is Writing with Skill by Susan Wise Bauer.  It is designed to be used mainly independently by the student, which is great for mom!  Rubrics are included for grading your child’s work.  My middle schoolers’ writing has improved greatly with this resource.  They are learning things that my high school didn’t teach until that dreaded research paper in twelfth grade.

Spelling has been a hit or miss subject most of our schooling.  I have tried half a dozen different programs and never really was satisfied.  Since finding All About Spelling, we have stayed put quite contentedly.  My kids enjoy it, and their spelling is improving.  It can be passed down from child to child, which makes it great on the budget when schooling several kids.  My rising eighth grader will have completed all its 7 levels, so he will be studying Vocabulary Vine this year.

 

LOGIC

We will continue with Building Thinking Skills and Mind Benders, both from the Critical Thinking Co.  Our next book will be the Fallacy Detective, which I have not used yet, but it comes highly recommended.  And I think that studying logical reasoning skills will be a fun task during an election year, don’t you?  **Cough, cough** lots of fallacies in reasoning to sniff out this year.  What a skill!

 

MATH

We continue to love BJUP math at every stage.  Complete, spiral, mastery education, with an emphasis on understanding the reasoning behind the math.  From K-5th grade, the books are consumable, and I don’t purchase the teacher’s editions.  For grades 5-7, the texts are not to be written in; rather, the kids do their assignments on their own paper.  So, the book is reusable year after year.  I do purchase the teacher’s manual starting in 6th grade, just for the answer key.

For my eighth grader, we will purchase the DVD curriculum and see how we like it.  That way, the pressure is off of mom in the upper-level math department, and they will get to experience listening to another teacher.

 

FINANCES/ECONOMICS

“What Ever Happened to Penny Candy?”

Personal Finance for Middle School by Dave Ramsey

 

HISTORY

We still love MOH!  This coming year will find us studying volume 4, which includes American history and modern history.  Downloading the audio version as well keeps it interesting.  As we listen to the lessons, the boys are drawing on their timelines.  This curriculum is easy to use for multi-ages.  My older kids will have extra outlining, reading, and reporting requirements.

 

SCIENCE

Answers in Genesis has served us well as a multi-grade science foundation.  We have added the Usborne Science Encylopedia to our curriculum.  This book makes it easy to find relevant videos that relate to each days’ topics.  The boys keep an illustrated science notebook.

 

BIBLE

We will continue learning catechism with this method.

In addition, our family will try to memorize chapters of the Bible this year, instead of one verse here or there.  Context is so important and healthy when understanding Scripture, so I hope that this endeavor will be very helpful for all of us.  Some friends on Facebook were sharing their own Scripture memorization strategy, and they learned two verses per week until the chapter was memorized.  I think that’s a great place to start!

Bible Commentaries for Children, by Nancy Ganz, have been great resources for understanding the first five books fo the Bible, which can seem very cryptic, especially to kids.  How do they relate to the whole Biblical narrative?  What’s the point of a book like Leviticus, especially to 21st century kids?  These books are written especially with children in mind, and have the goal of pointing everything to Christ.  We will continue on with our study of Numbers.

And finally, the boys and I will read through the book of I John with an inductive study method.  This method is one of the most helpful I have personally used.  It requires more work than simply answering comprehension questions, but it reaps more bounty in the understanding of Scripture.  Find more about this method here.

 

OTHER
Typing

Art

French

Art History & Music History as it meshes with our history studies

PA history

Gym class at the YMCA with other homeschoolers

Private music lessons in their instruments

 

Whew!  I’m eager to jump into this school year.  So much to learn!

What are essentials for your middle school curriculum?  I’d love to take a peek into your homeschool tool box.

 

Adoption Update: One Year Later

Our Anna Rakeb has been home with us now for a little over a year.  In some ways, it feels like she’s always been here.

Many people considering the adoption process wonder if they could love a child that was not born to them.  I wondered the same thing — everyone does!  But I am here to tell you that, yes, most definitely, you will learn to love this child just like any other child that comes into your family!

adoption quote

Some people shy away from adoption because they think that their biological children might have a hard time with it.  Maybe they will feel slighted, or loved a little less, they imagine.

I can’t speak for every family, but even though our four boys went into this adoption with a little fear and trepidation, now that we are one year in, we can say that it has been a blessing for each one of us!

When the boys talk about their futures, most of them now include the snippet… “and I’m going to adopt…” which just makes me smile at the ripple effects 🙂

So, if God is opening your eyes to the needs of the fatherless in this country or around the world, say YES with a heart of faith, knowing that it will be a wonderful experience for each one in your family to love another with the love that God has given you.

Recently I asked the boys a few questions about their experiences with having a little sister join the family through adoption.  Thought you might enjoy a little sneak peek into their minds.

adoption quote 2

Mom:  Did you know what adoption was before we adopted?

Boys: No

Getting a kid

Yes – taking kids into your family that the parents gave them up or died

Yes – God adopting us into His family

 

Mom:  Did you have any fears?

Excited that she was from a different country

That she would be ugly

No

That she would be all pink

 

Mom:  What did you think it would be like to have a sister?

All pink & stuff

Pink princesses and barbies; if I can prevent that, then she would be more normal – like you, mom

 

Mom:  How has Anna changed our family?

Everybody crowds around her

Made it a little more cute and happy

We had to buy more girly stuff

She steals all our stuff

 

Mom:  Do you love her?

Yes (while sitting on the rocking chair with her)

Yes!  Of course

Yup!

 

Mom:  How has adoption changed you, your view of people of different races or cultures?

Makes me appreciate other cultures more

 

Mom:  Do you want to adopt someday?

Possibly

If I have all of one (gender), then I’ll adopt the other

 

Mom:  What does adoption teach you about God?

That we were chosen into God’s family

That God loves everyone

That God adopts us into his family

 

Mom:  What do you remember about God’s provision for the money to adopt Anna?

We had a $2000 fee and people gave us money.

Glad

That He loves us

People are watching after us and helping

one year in

Easy DIY Christmas Blocks Gift

‘Twas the week before Christmas and I was a tiny bit miffed

Trying to come up with a last minute gift!

Does this describe you?  Here’s a fun DIY that is simple and quick.

DIY Christmas blocks @4onemore.com

I love my little Christmas blocks.  I have some for during the rest of the year too that I can tuck on ledges or shelves with a few inspirational words to catch my eye during the day.

These are tiny blocks — like the kind you would find in a Jenga game.  But grouped together, they make a great hostess gift or stocking stuffer.

easy DIY Christmas blocks gift @4onemore.com

This is a great craft for kids to make for their teachers or grandparents!

{Affiliate links are included in this tutorial, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you choose to make a purchase.}

Here’s how to make these adorable Christmas blocks in no time at all.

easy DIY Christmas blocks gift @4onemore.com

Yes, these blocks are the size of Jenga blocks, but I wouldn’t recommend buying an official Jenga game, or you will have “Jenga” carved into your pieces.

Instead, you can buy a cheaper no-name brand of the same game here or here.  And if you shop with Amazon Prime, these can be on your door step in only two days!

With about 48 blocks in each game, you can make dozens of these gifts from one set.

easy DIY Christmas blocks gift @4onemore.com

Now paint your blocks.  This step is so relaxing!  Get the kids involved and start painting.  I just use Apple Barrel paints which cost about 50 cents each at Walmart.  Or if you’re in a pinch, you can get them here at a higher cost.

easy DIY Christmas blocks gift @4onemore.com

If you have some stamping supplies lying around, now’s the time to put them to good use.  Have you ever stamped or embossed on wood?  Why not?  It works just like it would on paper.

Use an embossing stamp pad to stamp your word onto the wood block.

Immediately cover the wet stamped mark with embossing powder.  Dump the excess powder off your wood block.

Using a heat tool, carefully set the embossing powder.

You’re done!  Wasn’t that easy?

easy DIY Christmas blocks gift @4onemore.com

This is a cost effective gift and one that you can make assembly-line-style to save time.

Even if you have to buy all the supplies for this project, each three-block set will only cost you about $3.22!  The price just goes down from there if you own any of the supplies already.

Happy crafting!  Check out my Pinterest DIY Gift Idea board for more projects.

 

 

 

furniture up cycle: TV cabinet into armoire

For many years we used a pine armoire to house our TV.

armoire upcycle @4onemore.com

When we upgraded to a larger flat screen TV that no longer fit in our armoire, I wanted to find a use for this piece of furniture.  I hate to throw things away if I don’t have to.

furniture up cycle TV cabinet to armoire @4onemore.com

Well, it was a good thing we held on to this armoire.  The room we decided to use for a bedroom for our daughter has no closets.  Enter the up cycled armoire.

furniture up cycle TV cabinet to armoire @4onemore.com

We loved it in raw pine back in the day, but it was due for a facelift.  So, painted in white and distressed, it matches her thrifted Jenny Lind bed frame.

furniture up cycle TV cabinet to armoire @4onemore.com

 

All it took to convert this piece into a useable closet for our daughter’s room was a clothing rod.  Hubby attached it with a block of scrap wood on each side of the rod for further durability.

furniture up cycle TV cabinet to armoire @4onemore.com

Since little girl’s dresses are so short, it is working just fine right now with extra room at the bottom for baskets of linens and such.

So if you’re looking for extra clothing storage (or crafting storage, toy storage, game storage, kitchen storage!), look no further than your local thrift store or yard sale and pick up one of these “old” armoires.  Sure, you might not put a TV in them anymore, but you might be able to pick one up for cheap and give it a new life.

furniture up cycle TV cabinet to armoire @4onemore.com

Great on the budget.  Super cute.  Love to prevent needless waste.  And create a personal piece that works for you.

What is your favorite TV cabinet up-cycle?

selling on etsy: tools & supplies, shipping & storage

{You can find my other Selling on Etsy posts here:  Part 1, Part 2, Part 3}

etsy series - tools supplies shipping and storage options @ 4onemore.com

When I first started researching what I would need to be an Etsy seller, I was imagining lots of expenses for silly things like bubble wrap and cardboard boxes!

Have no fear, you don’t need to spend your resources on boxes if you don’t want to.

selling on etsy @4onemore.com

{look at that adorable toddler in a box… how did she get in this post?!}  🙂

I want to share my favorite tips about Tools & Supplies, Shipping & Storage when selling on Etsy.

selling on etsy -- supplies @4onemore.com

Tools & Supplies

First of all, totally get amazon prime membership if you don’t have it already.  It’s a lifesaver and you get a great supply of boxes to reuse.

Have your friends and family save boxes, bubble wrap, air pockets, brown paper or newspapers for you, and you will have a free supply of shipping materials.  I just print off a “recycled packaging materials” label that includes my logo and stick it on the box.  Upcycling is part of being a good resource manager.

selling on etsy @4onemore.com

{This post contains affiliate links.  Please see my disclosure policy for full details.}

Shipping

Many people have questions about shipping when they  consider being an Etsy seller.  The customer pays for shipping.  That’s good news — but you also need to be prepared.

USPS shipping calculator is your friend.  Input weight and box sizes for accurate shipping quotes.  Buy your postage online.  You can even schedule a package pick-up.  You can ask my hubby what a blessing it was when we finally figured out that he didn’t need to traipse into our local post office each day with my shipments.

Make sure you have a reliable postage scale.  I started with a cheap kitchen scale and worked up to a digital scale.

After you buy your postage online, you can easily print it with a DYMO label printer.  This printer is not a necessity, but it’s a great investment.  I sold on etsy for several years by printing out my postage on computer paper, then taping it on the box.  But if your sales end up increasing you will want to upgrade.  This label printer has been a huge time-saver.  And it prints thermally, so your label’s information won’t rub off during shipment (don’t ask me how I know this the hard way!)

Storage

selling on etsy -- shipping & storage @4onemore.com

Storage has always been an issue for me.  For several years, my etsy storage was mingled in our basement with our family storage.  It was crazy!  I wrote on my boxes what the contents were, so when an item sold, I had to go search for the right box.  Terrible system.

I now have a bunch of space solely for my etsy boxes. But my best shipping system is not necessarily having a lot of space — it’s having an inventory list.

selling on etsy -- storage -- 4onemore.com

Next to each of my listings on etsy, in the title section, I have a letter and/or number label.  That tells me where to find the box in my storage.  

Each box is numbered 001-180, plus many in between like B014 (back shelf 14th box) or C003 (center storage 3rd box).  Do whatever system works for you, but if you’re going to have more than a dozen items waiting to sell and ship, please develop a system!  I really wish I could go back in time and enlighten myself.  

Setting up a shop and adding your first listings can be tackled in a few hours.  If you’ve thought about starting an etsy shop, go for it!  The risk is really actually small.  And you never know — it might take off better than you thought.  Message me if you’d like a link for 40 free listings.

Then & Now: Adoption Photos

Anna Rakeb has been home with us for nearly 7 months.

We are amazed everyday by how much we love her and how well she fits into our family, even with 4 older brothers!

Last year at this time, she was in her orphanage and looked like this.

then & now: adoption pictures @4onemore.com

Isn’t she the sweetest??

This fall, she looks like this:

then & now: adoption photos @4onemore.com

 

then & now: adoption photos @4onemore.com

We’re so thankful that God put Anna in our family.  She is a treasure.

{You can check out our adoption story here.}

 

 

Homeschool Curriculum for 7th Grade

Where has the time gone?  Seven years ago when my oldest was in kindergarten and I had two toddlers and a baby in tow, I seriously wondered how I would manage life let alone homeschool.

Fast-forward to this year, and I am amazed how well things are flowing.  Those early years are very mommy-intensive.  We are now enjoying the middle grades with more independence even in schooling.

7th Grade Homeschool Curriculum

Here are the driving forces that I consider as I choose curriculum for each child.

  • Does it fit with a Classical Education model?  I appreciate that this educational philosophy values a focus on language as well as the interrelatedness of each subject.
  • Is is mom-intensive, or does it encourage the student to take responsibility for their own learning?
  • Is it re-usable?  This is not essential, but with many siblings potentially using this curriculum in the future, I lean toward choices that I can use again and again while only purchasing once.  {Analytical Grammar is an exception}

7th Grade Homeschool Curriculum @4onemore.com

My seventh grader has a laminated index card which he refers to each day.  He can complete subjects in any order, but they all need to be done by dinnertime.  The harder he works, the earlier he gets done.

7th Grade Homeschool Curriculum

Math

We have used BJU Press math curriculum all the way through and I am still happy with this choice.  My only complaint is that you have to purchase the whole teacher’s manual just to get the answer keys.  That’s the only part of the teacher’s edition that I use.  These books are laid out so well that my seventh grader essentially teaches himself.  Of course, I’m always available to help.

7th grade homeschool

We purchased the student book, but he completes all his assignments on notebook paper, so we will be able to reuse this textbook again and again.  We’ve also purchased the tests and answer keys.

{one-time price for 7th grade math curriculum:  approximately $184 –> this price also includes a separate student activity manual and teacher guide that we aren’t using right now}

After having used several different spelling curricula over the years, we are finally settled on All About Spelling for all grade levels.  We love its multi-sensory style.  The review and mastery approach to AAS is what keeps this in our curriculum toolbox.

The AAS curriculum is open and go, so very practical for mom!  And it does not require the filling out of spelling worksheets ad nauseum.

Writing With Skill is an excellent program that we highly recommend.  It continues past the elementary or grammar stage Writing With Ease curriculum.  We love it because it fosters independence and initiative in my student, while setting great works of writing in front of him as models.  And this book is reusable.

Our study of grammar started with First Language Lessons in grades 1-4.  We continued with diagramming practice and Daily Grams for refreshers.  But this year I just felt like a comprehensive study of grammar was needed.

So after much research, I found Analytical Grammar.  It was on the pricey side ($95 for one student book and one teacher book).  Since the student book needs to be written in, I will have to purchase additional copies for my other children.  It is not flashy at all but rather a very basic and complete study of grammar with exercises and tests to ensure mastery.

7th grade curriculum

He spends about 10 minutes daily working on typing at classic.typing.com

I am behind in teaching Logic to the boys.  So, all three are working through deductive reasoning skills with Mind Benders and Building Thinking Skills books.  This is in preparation for a formal study of logic in the future.

Homeschooling allows us to have the time and energy to put into individual music lessons and the practicing this requires.  We are reaping the beautiful results of years of little-by-little, minute-by-minute hard work in this area.

A complete Classical Reading list for Grades 1-8 with amazon links can be found here.  We love it!  What a great find for this school year.  The boys’ schedule allows a lot more uninterrupted reading time this year.  They are thoroughly enjoying the pleasure of digging into great books for hours each day.  And mom enjoys the quiet it brings 🙂  Little sister likes to sit and read with her brothers, too.

7th grade curriculum

7th grade curriculum

In addition to these grade-level choices, my boys are all learning these subjects together.

We add in all sorts of other learning topics and experiences as needed to round out our year.  Never a dull moment over here, but I’m very blessed and thankful to be able to invest my energy and time into my kids in this way.

{Check out my other homeschool posts here}

 

 

Nevermore Fall Raven Wreath Tutorial

Nevermore Fall Raven Wreath Tutorial @ 4onemore.com
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
    While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—
            Only this and nothing more.”
The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe
Nevermore Fall Raven Wreath Tutuorial @4onemore.com
This fall raven wreath is simple to make and it uses mainly up cycled or found pieces.
Nevermore Fall Raven Wreath Tutuorial @4onemore.com
 What you’ll need:
Round frame without the glass
Orange spray paint
Branch
Glue gun
Fabric scrap for hanging
Raven (I found mine at the Dollarama) –> I did cut off its legs, so you might want a wire cutter for this part
Nevermore Fall Raven Wreath Tutuorial @4onemore.com
Simply spray your frame, glue on the branch, glue on the raven, attach the fabric scrap and you’re done!  See, it’s so easy.
Nevermore Fall Raven Wreath Tutuorial @4onemore.com

I have had several of these in my shop, and they always sell fast!

One satisfied customer wrote:

“This is by far my absolute favorite fall home decoration; it is displayed prominently in our family room. I love the modern, yet vintage feel it has… I get compliments on this all the time — I *love* it. Thank you!!”

Nevermore Fall Raven Wreath Tutuorial @4onemore.com
Nevermore Fall Raven Wreath Tutuorial @4onemore.com
 Nevermore Fall Raven Wreath Tutorial @ 4onemore.com
Nevermore Fall Raven Wreath Tutorial @ 4onemore.com
Have you ever made a wreath out of an up cycled frame?  What is your favorite fall door decoration?
Linking up here:
WIW_Logo

selling on etsy {my craft room}

Welcome to a little tour of the space I use for crafting.

etsy series - my craft room @ 4onemore.com

I am so very thankful for this room because in the past all of my creative pursuits were done at the kitchen table or counters, which wasn’t too convenient with homeschooling and general household chores thrown in the mix.

If your handmade items are smallish (like jewelry), you can probably get away with crafting in your living spaces and not making too much of a mess.

But if you can swing it, I would highly recommend carving out a corner of a spare bedroom, a place in the basement, a counter in the garage, or a shed in the yard for your crafting hobby.  My productivity level greatly increased by having a dedicated space for my hobby-turned-business.

No worries if you don’t have a craft room!  Like I said, I ran my etsy shop for several years from a small home office space and just made do with my situation.

selling on etsy {my craft room} @4onemore.com

The room is a great size with laminate flooring, which makes it easy to sweep up.

My hubby built me this awesome work table that measures 8 feet by 4 feet and 3 feet tall.

selling on etsy {my craft room} @4onemore.com

He covered the top with leftover laminate flooring which has been a great work surface.

selling on etsy {my craft room} @4onemore.com

The sides have great sturdy storage for supplies.

selling on etsy {my craft room} @4onemore.com

selling on etsy {my craft room} @4onemore.com

selling on etsy {my craft room} @4onemore.com

This room is not “beautiful” but rather very practical!  The beauty lies in the fact that I can create at my leisure and close the door to my mess.  This room is not connected to my house, so the creative mess and piles that might exist out here don’t have to bring a cluttered feel into my home.   selling on etsy {my craft room} @4onemore.com

selling on etsy {my craft room} @4onemore.com

My sewing machine is at a desk in front of the windows.  Storage of all my raw crafting materials and stock waiting to be up cycled is around the perimeter of the room.

selling on etsy {my craft room} @4onemore.com

I would love for this room to be beautiful, but it’s too much of a work horse right now.

selling on etsy {my craft room} @4onemore.com

So there you have it.  This is my happy place, where my introverted self loves to recharge from being with my little people all day.

Where do you craft?